Saturday, February 28, 2015

Target Lebanon


For John, BLUFThis will get worse before it gets better.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Freelance Reporter Michael Totten, writing in World Affairs talks about Lebanon as "ISIS' Next Target".
ISIS has announced that Lebanon will be the next state to fall under the sway of its “caliphate.” According to Beirut's Daily Star newspaper, the only reason ISIS hasn't attacked yet in force is because they haven't decided on the mission's commander.

The Lebanese army is one of the least effective in the Middle East—and that's saying something in a region where the far more capable Syrian and Iraqi armies are utterly failing to safeguard what should be their own sovereign territory.

So France is going to send a three billion dollar package of weapons to Lebanon and the Saudis are going to pay for it.  It won't solve the problem any more than a full-body cast will cure cancer, but it beats standing around and not even trying.

Reporter Totten is optimistic over the long run, mentioning seventeen invading armies that came a cropper in Lebanon.  But in the short term the Christians, Shia and Druze who make up Lebanon's population will face the genocidal tendencies of Daesh.  The Daesh enjoy killing like Pol Pot and his Khymer Rouge, or Mao, or the 1939 Armies of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany taking down Poland and destroying the Polish Intelligentsia.

The good news, according to our Secretary of State, John Kerry, is that we have never been safer.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder what or who he was thinking about when he wrote "it beats standing around and not even trying".

The Internet Diminished


For John, BLUFA solution in search of a problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is the White House on "Net Neutrality", a topic recently in the news from the Federal Communications Commission decision, 3 to 2 to make the Internet a Utility.  And here is what the FCC thinks it said.  And here is the trace of the story by the Newspaper of Record, The Old Grey Lady

Here are some notes I cribbed from someone else:

On the contrary, I think this is the deathknell for free and open Internet.  Because instead of being the global "Internet"—with a capital "I"—so-called "net neutrality" treats the internet as an "internet" US utility to be regulated by the nationstate.  This is important as China and Russia push their concept of "internet sovereignty."  If the US can regulate their internet, why can't Russia and China regulate their Internets?

What is the problem that the FCC was trying to fix here?  Are Internet speeds getting slower?  Has unfair competition caused the Internet economy to dwindle in United States?  Did Congress change the law to allow regulation of the Internet?  Or, did three unelected appointees make a decision to unilaterally expand federal power?

The idea of a free and unencumbered Internet, one that could be used to support the Arab Spring or some [name the color] revolution in some nation facing oppression, is going away.  In a lot of ways it never existed, in that strong nations, with money and technological savvy, have been limited search engines and social media.  But, the Internet was a global concept, struggling to be free.

Now the US has signed on to the idea that the internet is a domestic utility, to be used by each nation as that nation sees fit. Remember, it isn't the first order consequences one needs to worry about, with its obvious goodness.  The problem is the second and third order effects.  The ones few anticipate.  Unfortunately, there are few Daniel Patrick Moynihans and the few there are tend to be shouted down by all the Progressive do-gooders who are going to make our lives better.

Another way to look at it is that every solution contains within itself the seeds of a new problem.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dogma v the US Constitution


For John, BLUFIf they do this they will eventually come for your weapons.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Washington Examiner we have this headline, "Obama to ban bullets by executive action, threatens top-selling AR-15 rifle".
As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this month revealed that it is proposing to put the ban on 5.56 mm ammo on a fast track, immediately driving up the price of the bullets and prompting retailers, including the huge outdoors company Cabela’s, to urge sportsmen to urge Congress to stop the president.

OK, so maybe this is just someone's fantasy.  On the other hand, if one wanted to ban guns, this would be a way of taking s bunch of them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.  And, without doing intrusive house searches.  By banning the sale of ammo the ability to fire the weapon would soon dry up.  Shooting is a somewhat perishable skill.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Rahm Emanuel has to go to Round Two


For John, BLUFNon-partisan election, but still with corruption.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Chicago Mayor "Rahm Emanuel faces runoff in re-election bid".
Emanuel, who raised about $15 million for the campaign, finished first in the five candidate field, but fell far short of garnering the 50% plus one vote he needed to win outright and avoid a runoff election.  He will now face the second place finisher, Cook County Commissioner, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, on April 7.

With 95.7% of precincts reporting, Emanuel had 45.3% of the vote and Garcia had 33.9%.

Here is an editorial on the election and on Chicago, and Illinois, politics.

NB:  Sure, the election was Tuesday and this is Friday, but this is relatively prompt.  If it was really important to you, you would have been following it on Drudge.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Down to the Sea in Ships


For John, BLUFGlobal Trade means shipping by sea.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I found this 1:40 video pretty interesting.  From NPR, it shows a snapshot of shipping around the world.  One thing it shows is the heavy concentration of shipping traffic in Southeast Asia, where the video begins.

And, there is this:

It's a good reminder that about 90 percent of all the goods traded globally spend at least some of their transit time on a ship.
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Funding Research Questions


For John, BLUFIt would appear to me that your long funeral processions to the grave side are significant contributors to climate change, including increased snow fall.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In today's edition of The Boston Globe is an OpEd by Mr Dante Ramos, that goes after Wei-Hock (“Willie”) Soon in a round-about sort of way. Dr Soon is one of four authors of a paper published in Science Bulletin, "Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model".

The Globe article, "When scholars go rogue" has a subheadline of "'Academic freedom' can't be an all-purpose excuse for misconduct".  Here is the lede:

UPHOLDING INTELLECTUAL freedom doesn’t have to mean tiptoeing around questionable ethical choices or iffy data.
So Mr Ramos is going after Dr Soon, but, after dangling "iffy data" he goes after the fact that Dr Soon is not forthcoming with regard to his sources of funding.  In the last paragraph he does say of research institutions such as the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics:
Either they keep letting their names be connected with dubious research, or they risk making martyrs of scholars whose work legitimately comes under fire.
I am in agreement with Mr Ramos about people revealing their sources of funding.  What I don't get is his attempting to dismiss the paper based solely on the source of funding.  Has Mr Ramos read the paper and does he understand it?  Could he give us a quick synopsis?

Here is an extract from the lede in a Power Line article by Mr John Hinderaker, "The Smearing of Willie Soon":

The paper identifies flaws in the computer models that predict major global warming–which shouldn’t be a surprise, since the models’ predictions have flopped.  It concludes that due to mathematical errors, the models overstate the impact of CO2 on the climate by a factor of three times.
Mr Hinderaker, who didn't touch on the item in The Globe, pretty much trashes The New York Times for its approach.  He also claims there is dubious money on all sides, including Russian funding of Environmental Groups.

But, there is another issue and that is if the impact of Government funding is actually neutral.  Mr Ramos dismisses concerns in a flippant manner:

Soon didn’t respond to my request for comment; I did receive an odd e-mail, signed by an associate of his, quibbling with the premise that government grants confer more credibility than funding from corporate interests.
"An odd EMail"?  that is pretty dismissive.

At any rate, Mr Hinderaker, who seems to be a bit of a libertarian, ends his item this way:

The New York Times and other left-wing news sources assume that government funding is no problem, but private funding is a scandal. I think the opposite is true. It is a scandal that our government spends billions of dollars, enriching many compliant climate scientists–Michael Mann is just one of many examples–to promote its own power. Thank goodness that there is a tiny amount of independent funding that supports objective research and contributes to a debate that is being won, hands down, by climate realists like Dr. Soon.
So, basically, the question is, does math work differently for privately funded research than for publicly funded research?  Put another way, did the Koch Brothers make those hundreds of millions of dollars because they are purchasing with their money a better form of Math?  I don't think so, but I am open to Mr Ramos enlightening me.

Hat tip to the Instapundit for the Power Line item.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The others were Christopher Monckton, Matt Briggs and David Legates.
  It's "Impact Factor", 1.321 for the year 2011, is fairly low.
  He doesn't even mention that Dr Soon received money from one of the dreaded and evil Koch Brothers.  Isn't that a touchstone of the Progressive mindset?

Failing to Write Clearly


For John, BLUFIt is going to be a long period to November 2016.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Headline from The Washington Post, "Walker’s anti-union law has labor reeling in Wisconsin".

Well, not exactly "anti-union".  More like anti-public service union.

My Father, who helped organize a Steel Mill in Johnstown, PA, in the 1930s never once complained to me about a lack of union representation during his time as a Federal Civil Servant.

Law Professor Ann Althouse notes in a blog post:

These are both big articles, served up for Monday morning, and both are low blows.

The attack on Walker is low, because it uses the terms "union" and "labor" without specifying what I think must always be specified to be fair: Walker's reforms were about public employee unions.  The Walker article is absurdly emotive and sentimental, larded with quotes from nice people who are bewildered and sad.  You have to read to paragraph 5 to get the first indication that Walker's law only had to do with the special problem of public unions, whose collective bargaining is not with private management, but with the government, the representatives of the people, not any commercial operation.

Writing at 9:32 AM on Monday, she goes on to note:
There are over 4,000 comments on the Walker article already, and the top-rated one is: "No wonder Walker scares Democrats so much. He's taken down one of their most lucrative money making scams as well as one of their favorite sources of street muscle." The second highest rated is: "The left is scared to death of Walker." So maybe WaPo's effort to type-cast Walker as a right-wing meanie won't work, but it won't be because WaPo's not trying. And, yes, I know I'm purporting to read The Mind of the Washington Post, even as I'm writing about Scott Walker, The Man Who Cannot Read the Mind of Others.
So, the Press tries to turn something that a lot of voters might favor into something that a lot of voters might dislike.  This is propaganda, pure and simple.

The value of Blogs will be to offer alternative interpretations to assertions by a Mainstream Media that is not always objective in its reporting.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For readers of The New York Times that would be Mr Scott.
  Picture of him and others picketing in front of the gate published in the New York Times.
  I expect that if he had complained in front of my Middle Brother, Lance, I will hear about it.  Lance, the Federal Civil Servant.

Beeb on Daesh


For John, BLUFThe military part of this fight against Daesh, or ISIS, as George likes to say, is only part of the solution.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the BBC (The Beeb) we have news from Egypt, where "Al-Azhar [Universtiy] top cleric calls for religious teaching reform".

The Grand Imam of Egypt's top Islamic institution has called for a radical reform of religious teaching to tackle the spread of Islamic extremism.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb of Cairo's al-Azhar University said that a historical misreading of the Koran had led to intolerant interpretations of Islam.

It is a start.  As I commented on someone's Facebook post,
A thousand small steps.  The Dyer Bill died in 1918, but it appeared again, in another form and under another name, later.  And, what, 1948, we got serious about this stuff and finally in the 1960s pushed Lynching away?  Daesh is like the Klan.  Millions of People will have to say "not my way."  One at a time.  Or, it will spread east and west and north and south.  IMHO

Yes, it is an annoyance at this point, for us, but it could quickly become a big deal even for the US.

They responded:
Billions are already saying "That's not MY Islam," Cliff, and have been doing so for some time.  The problem with leaders like the head of al Azhar condemning jihadi violence is that those already converted to jihadism or vulnerable to the message -- as well as billions of other Muslims -- already dislike and distrust the Egyptian religious establishment for its close, mutually supportive relationship with the corrupt, repressive Egyptian state.
And there is that problem.  This is, in part a reaction to suppression and oppression in the Arab world.  Many youth do not adopt a "western model" but look for what they see as their Islamic roots.

From my perspective, not recognizing that Daesh is from Islamic roots is to tie one hand behind our back.  It is not Islam, but, as Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb says, a corruption of Islam.  That means that Muslims have to stand up and push it away, condemn it, and condemn those who are Daesh advocates, Daesh supporters, Daesh apologists.  At the same time they have to clean their own house.  This is not something we can do for them.  Our participation needs to be in terms of support, as a too forward approach by the US, by the West, just feeds into the propaganda of Daesh, and aids their recruitment.

In the mean time we best assist by helping others fight the military arm of this organization.  And by helping existing regimes find a way to help their People become participants in their own forms of Government.

This is not easy.  Remember the movie The American President?  And not just for Actress Annette Bening.  The "President", Andrew Shepherd, says, and not just for America:

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship.  You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight.  It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.
Giving the People a voice in Government is not easy.  You have to want it bad.  Sometimes citizens go for the easy route, letting someone else do the work for them.  This someone else is sometimes known as a dictator.  Maybe known as a "strong man".  In Spanish, a Caudillo.  Participatory democracy is the hard way, but the best way.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb's comments may signal a major mind shift in the Middle East.  I hope so.

Regards  —  Cliff

Do You Need a College Degree?


For John, BLUFMike says the Sheepskin isn't everything.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Remember Mike Rowe from the TV Show Dirty Jobs, and from some Ford Commercials?  He took on the question of if you need a college degree (he has one, from Towson University) and the question of certification vs capability.  He did it on Facebook, here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Looking For Conformity


For John, BLUFThe Author, Adam Gopnik, wants the impossible, or failing that, a Democrat, whose prejudices he accepts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing in The New Yorker on 19 February, Writer Adam Gopnik takes on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his refusal to answer a question given him by a British Reporter, in London, about if he believes in Evolution.  The article, "The Evolution Catechism", can be found here.

As a sort of space clearing move, Mr Gopnik writes like a Roman Catholic, or someone raised as a Roman Catholic.  He uses Roman Catholic references and illusions.  Not that Mr Gopnik would necessarily understand the difference, but Governor Walker is an Evangelical.

Here is Mr Gopnik's argument:

But the notion that the evolution question was unfair, or irrelevant, or simply a “sorting” device designed to expose a politician as belonging to one cultural club or another, is finally ridiculous.  For the real point is that evolution is not, like the Great Pumpkin, something one can or cannot “believe” in.  It just is—a fact certain, the strongest and most resilient explanation of the development of life on Earth that there has ever been.  And yet, as the Times noted, after Walker’s London catechism, “none of the likely Republican candidates for 2016 seem to be convinced.  Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said it should not be taught in schools. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is an outright skeptic.  Senator Ted Cruz of Texas will not talk about it. When asked, in 2001, what he thought of the theory, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said, ‘None of your business.’ ”

What the question means, and why it matters, is plain:  Do you have the courage to embrace an inarguable and obvious truth when it might cost you something to do so?  A politician who fails this test is not high-minded or neutral; he or she is just craven, and shouldn’t be trusted with power.  This catechism’s purpose—perhaps unfair in its form, but essential in its signal—is to ask, Do you stand with reason and evidence sufficiently to anger people among your allies who don’t?

OK, so we know that Mr Gopnik didn't vote for President Obama.  Or for Hillary Clinton for Senator.  Neither is famous for telling the truth to the public.  They are, in Mr Gopnik's words, "just craven, and shouldn’t be trusted with power".  In a word, politicians.

But, let us go to the question of if you believe in Evolution.  I wonder what Mr Gopnik includes in that question?  For example, does he include Eugenics?  That was big in Evolutionary thought at one time and I fear could be again.  Especially if those who believe "climate change" is both man-made and bad for "nature" and human population must be reduced and refined gain the political upper hand.  Then there is the problem of new insights maintaining the idea of evolution but giving it new paths, like has recently happened to the Big Bang, which apparently (according to some) never took place. 

Let us be honest.  Evolution is the way the science seems to point.  That is fine with me.  However, we need to be careful in how we apply it in public policy.  I would hope that Mr Gopnik would be quick to condemn the US Supreme Court ruling in Buck v Bell.  I think by 1927 Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was beginning to slip.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For readers of The New York Times that would be Mr Scott.
  I blame Msgr Georges Lemaître for foisting the Big Bang off on us.
  And with the Roman Catholic Church.  Way back in 1950 Pope Pius XII said (Humani Generis) to use your brain and evaluate the data, but remember, each of us has a soul from God.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It Isn't Just the Oil


For John, BLUFIncreased US domestic oil production reduces reliance on Middle East oil.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On City Life this morning, the Producer, Mr John McDonough, opined that the only reason we are in the Middle East is oil.  I don't agree with this assertion, but I didn't have a nice fancy label to use for my theory.  Then I read an EMail.

My idea is that Iran hates us (the Great Satan), and we embargo them, and yet they continue to try and ship oil for sale overseas.  Nations like Iran, Iraq and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have oil to sell and they well sell it, because they are Rentier States.  As Wikipedia puts it,

In political science and international relations theory, a rentier state is a state which derives all or a substantial portion of its national revenues from the rent of indigenous resources to external clients.  This theory was first postulated by Hossein Mahdavy in 1970.  It was also in this article that the concept of external rent was first introduced.
Well, rent here is a technical term.  The point is they are selling to us and that is how they make their money.  If it wasn't for the natural resources, or the harbor or airfield we want for military purposes, they would be trading dates and camels amongst themselves and no one would care.

We did Kuwait because we didn't want Iraq becoming too powerful and starting wars on others.  After all, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are customers for our arms sales.  It wasn't about the oil, it was about regional hegemony, which we had found, previously, to be a bad thing.  Like with Germany and Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s, or the Soviet Union after WWII.

There is another factor, which probably doesn't get much play in this part of the nation, but there are those who believe strongly that those who bless Israel will be blessed (Gen 12:3), and visa-versa.  They point to England as an example of this in action.  The thing is, these folks turn out to vote in disproportionally large numbers.  Politicians know this.  President Obama may be cool to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, but the 535 Members of Congress understand this, even if they hate it.  It may not be a big deal for the Coasties (unless the election is close), but it is a big deal in the hinterlands.  Read Deer Hunting With Jesus—only $9.99 on the Kindle.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I think this is a shaky historical example, but the principle may well hold.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wrapping Up Downtown Abbey


For John, BLUFNo, I don't think that I can become a Hollywood script writer, like Jim Webb did.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Downton Abbey.  My wife likes the BBC show Downton Abbey.  I don't.  However, as any reasonable husband will explain, if the wife likes it, you like it.

It was OK as long as that Solicitor Matthew Crawley was alive and kicking and making things hum.  But, he was squeezing out the women, so he had to be bumped off.  Poor chap.

Then there is Earl of Grantham, who I kind of like, but he is portrayed as a bumbling idiot.  What can I say?  Women can't inherit, but they are surely portrayed as the brighter sex (or is that gender?).  At any rate, that may be what it is all about.  Women should inherit and then everything would be right with the world.

In the mean time, I endure.

So, given the current state of play, I would like to suggest we wrap it up this way.

  • With Tom Branson about to go off to Boston, to join his brother selling cars, Lady Mary Crawley declares that she can't stand for Tom to leave.
  • Tom declares that he can't bear to be separated from Lady Mary.
  • They embrace passionately, and in front of the family engage in some hot kissing.
  • Lord Grantham, in a moment of insight, declares, "Well that is settled, Mary goes back to her Mother's homeland".
  • Mary and Tom are married in the Great Hall of the Abby, the wedding officiated over by Mr Carson (it is, after all, the couple who performs the marriage and the other person just serves as a witness).
  • Tom and Mary then move to Massachusetts, where they settle in Lowell and Breed like rabbits.
  • Tom sells autos and becomes a US Citizen and then a Republican and then a State Rep, where he is an early advocate for highways.  He pushes the idea of freeways (getting 3 and 93 and 495) and also gets Route 38 widened to four lanes from the New Hampshire Border all the way down.  (Its my fantasy and so I can have it do whatever I want.)
  • Tom and Mary end up moving to the Belvidere and buy the Castle, retiring amongst their children and grandchildren.
The rest of them I have only passing interest in.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Not to be confused with the satyrical and pornographic movie of almost the same name, which I stumble upon when I misspelled "Abbey".  Never seen it and not likely to.

The Need to Be Out and About


For John, BLUFWith this weather Cabin Fever can be a problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is the Wikipedia definition of Cabin Fever, which I think captures most of it, but is a bit in error regarding how people actually react.
Cabin fever is an idiomatic term, first recorded in 1838, for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period.  Cabin fever describes the extreme irritability and restlessness a person may feel in these situations.

A person may experience cabin fever in a situation such as being in a simple country vacation cottage.  When experiencing cabin fever, a person may tend to sleep, have distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail.  The phrase is also used humorously to indicate simple boredom from being home alone.

I think the problem with this description is that while there may be some urge to get out, in fact the person or persons may actually just hunker down and not get out, even when the sun peeks through.

When I lived outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, for two years, Cabin Fever was one of the things one watched for in one's family and with one's neighbors.  We saw it as a public health issue.  Here in Greater Lowell those who have to go to work, even those who have to contend with the MBTA, are the lucky ones, because they do get out and get interaction.

Regards  —  Cliff

Election in Chicago


For John, BLUFMaybe Mayor Rahm Emanuel is the dark horse threat to Ms Hillary Clinton.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



City Life is over for the morning and on comes Ms Amy Goodman and Democracy Now and a discussion of tomorrow's election for Mayor of Chicago.  As we know, the current mayor is Rahm Emanuel, former US Representative and former Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. From USA Today we have this lede:
After a difficult four years at the helm of the country's third-biggest city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears to be on the path to winning re-election.

The latest polls by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times show Emanuel is within striking distance of the 50% plus one vote that he needs in Tuesday's five-candidate primary to avoid a runoff election in April.

Emanuel, who earned a reputation as one of Washington's toughest political operators before returning to Chicago to launch his successful bid for City Hall, finds himself scratching and clawing to try to close the deal.

Emanuel had 45% of the likely vote, and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia trailed him with 20% of the vote, according to a recent Tribune poll.  Alderman Bob Fioretti and businessman Willie Wilson each received 7% support in the poll, while community activist William "Dock" Walls garnered about 2%.  Eighteen percent of those polled said they were undecided.

President Obama, who came to office from residence in Chicago, has endorsed the sitting mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

For Lowell Residents, Chicago, like Lowell, has non-partisan elections for city office—if you believe that there are such things as "non-partisan elections".

Now I turn to Channel 6, NECN.

Regards  —  Cliff

Naming the Enemy


For John, BLUFWhat is in a name?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At this link is CNN Analyst Kim Dozier explaining the differences between ISIL, ISIS, IS and Daesh and why some of our friends in the Middle East want us to use Daesh.

4:49 in Running Time.

I do think the fear of using the word "Islam" in connection with this organization, Daesh, which is trying to reclaim the territories of previous Caliphates, and which has presence, and is governing parts of Iraq, Syria, Libya and now Lebanon, is not helpful.

It would be better for all concerned to recognize that this grows out of a extreme view or misunderstanding of Islam, as the KKK was a distortion of Christianity in the United States.  Just as we here in the United States were slow to grapple with, condemn and eventually outlaw acts of the Second Klan—the first Klan having sprung up and quickly expired as it was designated a "terror organization" by a Federal Judge—so too the Leadership and the People in Muslim lands have been slow to get their hands around Daesh.  A sense of loss allowed some to foster, or at least tolerate, the Klan from 1915 until the middle of the century.  So too in Arab lands.  Time for a change.  Avoiding naming the pain doesn't help.  The Islamic Klan.

When we think about Daesh, we should remember that their goal is to establish their control from Portugal in the West to Bangladesh in the East.

That is a very wide swath of land.

Regards  —  Cliff

Greater Lowell Veteran's Council Mtg—Tonight


The Great Lowell Veteran's Council, at the invitation of Lowell City Manager Kevin Murphy, will meet this evening, Monday, 23 February, at 1800 (6:00 PM), in the Mayor's Reception Room (City Hall).

Including:  American Legion Post 212, American Legion Post 247, American Legion Post 313, American Legion Post 315, Armenian-American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans #25, Disabled American Veterans #47, Franco-American War Veterans, Global War Vets, Greek-American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Polish-American Veterans, Marine Corps League, Merrimack Valley Vietnam Veterans, Portuguese-American Veterans, VFW Post 662, VFW Post 9307 and any free standing vets.

The February meeting will include:

  • An update on the Perkins Flag.
  • Initial planning for spring time veterans’ events, e.g. Memorial Day, Flag Day.

The announcement was made by Thayer M. Eastman, Commander, Greater Lowell Veteran's Council.

See you there.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Real Democracy


For John, BLUFThis would be good for George.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Law Professor Ann Althouse gives us something from G.K. Chesterton's Tremendous Trifles.
It cannot be too often repeated that all real democracy is an attempt (like that of a jolly hostess) to bring the shy people out.  For every practical purpose of a political state, for every practical purpose of a tea-party, he that abaseth himself must be exalted.  At a tea-party it is equally obvious that he that exalteth himself must be abased, if possible without bodily violence.  Now people talk of democracy as being coarse and turbulent:  it is a self-evident error in mere history.  Aristocracy is the thing that is always coarse and turbulent:  for it means appealing to the self-confident people.  Democracy means appealing to the different people. Democracy means getting those people to vote who would never have the cheek to govern: and (according to Christian ethics) the precise people who ought to govern are the people who have not the cheek to do it.
When Mr Chesterton says "aristocracy" I think his meaning is not just Lords and Ladies, but also other forms of hierarchy. I like it.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Netanyahu vs Obama


For John, BLUFDoes this explain PM Netanyahu coming to speak to Congress.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the the Jerusalem Post is an OpEd on the upcoming 17 March in Israel.  The author is Caroline Glick and the title is "Netanyahu’s True Electoral Rival".

Officially, the election on March 17 is among Israelis.  Depending on how we vote, either Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will remain in office and form the next government led by his Likud party, or Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni will form a government.

But unofficially, a far greater electoral drama is unfolding.  The choice is not between Netanyahu and Herzog/Livni. It is between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.

As the White House sees it, if Herzog/Livni form the next government, then Jerusalem will dance to Obama’s tune.  If Netanyahu is reelected, then the entire edifice of Obama’s Middle East policy may topple and fall.

Secretary of State John Kerry made clear the administration’s desire to topple Netanyahu last spring during his remarks before the Trilateral Commission.  It was during that memorable speech that Kerry libeled Israel, claiming that we would automatically and naturally become an apartheid state if we don’t give Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to the PLO, Jew free, as quickly as possible.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 20, 2015

Overregulation Disincentivizing


For John, BLUFNebby neighbors are the spark that lights this kind of fire.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Atlantic we have "The Danger of Being Neighborly Without a Permit", by Writer Conor Friedersdorf.  It is all summed up by this subhead line, "All over America, people have put small "give one, take one" book exchanges in front of their homes.  Then they were told to tear them down."

The power to require permits is the power to prevent something from ever existing. This lovely movement would've never begun or spread if everyone who wanted to build a Little Free Library recognized a need to apply and pay for a permit. Instead they did good and asked permission never.
I think the author captures the essence of the problem here.
This is what conservatives and libertarians mean when they talk about overregulation disincentivizing or displacing voluntary activity that benefits people.
Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Protecting the Citizens


For John, BLUFCitizens should not be endangered when we are protecting Citizens.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"Police Raid 90-Year Old Woman’s Home Apparently By Accident"
RIVIERA BEACH (CBSMiami) — A 90-year old’s home was destroyed by police conducting a raid but it appears they got the wrong house.
Riviera Beach Police said the search warrant was executed at the correct address and while the resident may not have had any knowledge of drugs being sold from her home, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The department has since put up temporary repairs and has decided to pay for new windows and doors.

The resident is supposed to get a new door later this week – and new windows by February 28th.

Sure.  "It doesn't mean it didn't happen."  That sounds like the Police trying to cover for the error, the bad intelligence, the misleading of snitches.

The Police are doing the proper thing by replacing destroyed doors and windows, although taking over two months to finish the job seems a little negligent.  They did the raid quickly enough.  What I would like to see, in addition, is the City provide compensation to this woman for her emotional suffering.  It isn't that I so much want her to have the money, but I would like the City to feel pain.  I would hope a pay-out of $100,000 would be enough for the City Leadership to make it clear to the Police that they need to be more careful in the conduct of their investigations.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bridge Over Rowing Waters


For John, BLUFIn a way, Infrastructure Investment can be like building blocks.  Each one allowing the next to be placed.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On Facebook yesterday Professor Robert Forrant posted this item:
Anybody see the article in today's Globe about Olympics venues needed outside of Boston and the rowing coming to Lowell on the Merrimack?  One interesting bit in the story was the statement that for this to work, the Rourke Bridge would be torn down!  Missing was any discussion about when a new bridge would be built.  So, imagine the crazy town traffic we always have at 4:00pm, running through Drum Hill, but wait where the hell is the bridge???? I know this is a long way off - - but can we rely on anyone in the legislature looking out for us with the Olympic gold blinding them?  Because they've all done such a wonderful job making sure the trains run on time we can expect something good here, right?

Yes, that bridge.

A Bailey Bridge.

So I responded as follows:

OK, I finally have a reason to welcome the Olympics. A permanent FOUR LANE bridge in place of the current Rourke. FOUR LANES so that future planners can take advantage of the capacity and not excuse not making traffic improvements because it is only a two lane bridge. Did I mention FOUR LANES?
To which Professor Forrant responded:
Clifford R Krieger you beautiful dreamer!
I think that sums it up.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Finishing the Degree


For John, BLUFYour technical training and experience in the business are more important than some lack of a degree from UML.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"Captain Ed" Morrissey, who has made a living out of being a Blogger (he is the one who broke the Canadian Vote Buying Scandal, Adscam, while Blogging at Captain's Quarters) talks about Governor Scott Walker and his lack of a degree.

From The Week we have "Scott Walker, and the problem with valuing credentials over competence".

"Whatever you do, make sure you finish college.  You'll regret it if you don't have a degree."

My father offered me this advice once.  Actually, he offered it to me thousands of times (as did my mother), as often as the subject came up, or even if it didn't come up.  This started at about the time Star Wars premiered before my sophomore year in high school.  It didn't end until the middle of the next decade, when it became clear that I had other ideas.

The point of the column is that for someone like Governor Scott Walker (and Ed Morrissey), experience and performance is much more important than whether one has a college diploma.  This is as opposed to the view that credentials promise competence.  As Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds says:
Our ruling class values credentials over competence because they have a lot more of the former than they do of the latter. . . .
As Lance Commented in a previous post, getting that degree is good.  Ed Morrissey gets the point.  He ends his essay this way:
As for my son, he's working on his doctorate, which means I have to admit that he's smarter and more disciplined than his old man.  That's as difficult to do as admitting that my father was right.  So please, do me a favor — don't forward this to either of them.
But, experience in the real world is more useable than a theoretical understanding of the problem, without the experience to craft and implement a solution.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For readers of The New York Times that would be Mr Scott.
  I have a Granddaughter, out making OK money in the R&D Lab of a Chemical Company.  She is one course shy of her degree.  Much as I feel Governor Walker's lack of a sheep skin is not important to 2016, I do think she needs to get that last course.

Daesh!


For John, BLUFOur understanding of "Daesh" is evolving, from the "JV Team" to an actual Government (Caliphate) spreading over a number of borders.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On City Life Host George Anthes uses the term ISIS and belittles those who say ISIL as being ignorant Obama followers.

Mr John McCreary [Night Watch] uses the term ISIL.

From The Jordan Times we have this item:  House speaker says Daesh should not be called 'Islamic State'

AMMAN — Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh on Tuesday called on the international community to refrain from referring to Daesh terrorist group as the "Islamic State", stressing that this group is not related to Islam.
So, no "Islamic State", no ISIL, no ISIS.

On the other hand, in an article in The Atlantic there is a 10,000 word article, "What ISIS Really Wants".  The subheadline is:

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Note the idea of a coming Apocalypse.  Remember the Book of Revelation?  The usually somewhat reliable Wikipedia discusses the Apocalypse, but doesn't mention Muslim consideration of the event, which, as a wrapper surrounding the future coming of the Messiah, unites all three Abrahamic Religions.  There is this from Wikipedia, Islamic Eschatology.

Have I recently mentioned the fictional meditation on this issue of a coming Messiah, The One Donkey Solution.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That would be Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Shepherds


For John, BLUFIn a sort of paying it forward, one of the lives Ed (Too Tall) Freeman saved in the Ia Drang Valley on 14 November 1965 would give his life saving lives in the World Trade Center on 9/11.



From Small Wars Journal we have a wonderful discussion of the late Ed (Too Tall) Freeman, "Cyclics, Souls, Service and Shepherds", by retired Army Colonel Keith Nightingale.  The article can be found here.

Here is the lede:

Lost in the noise and emotions of the recent demonstrations in St Louis and New York was a remembrance of the services provided for all those engaged souls by a man who provided them before most of the demonstrators were born.  It was the anniversary of the passing of Ed “Too Tall” Freeman, Congressional Medal of Honor winner and a true shepherd of the National flock.  With him went the representation of what our many- tapestried Nation is all about.  It is worth remembering not only what he did, but why he did it and what it ought to mean for all of us.  His life was a coalescence of events, impressions and service over time absent heroics, ego or demonstration.  He was given our Nation’s highest award for specific actions on a specific day, but he probably believed his true reward was the continued life and service of those he saved directly and to those others to whom he gave hope by his presence on the worst day of their lives.
Regards  —  Cliff

Scott Walker, College Dropout


For John, BLUFNot everyone needs a college diploma, but everyone needs an inquisitive mind.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From USA Today we have an OpEd from Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a possible Presidential Candidate.  The article is "Scott Walker's national education effect".  The theme is "The college dropout governor may bring reality back to an Ivy League-suffocated government."

Here is the lede:

A lot of people don't know much about him yet, and he may not even be running, but if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is elected president in 2016, he'll immediately accomplish something that no other candidate being talked about can:  He'll lay to rest the absurd belief that you're a nobody if you don't have a college degree.  And he might even cut into the surprisingly recent takeover of our institutions by an educated mandarin class, something that just might save the country.
While I encourage people to get a college degree, I do not believe everyone needs a college degree.  It does broaden one's outlook and access to information.  And it can be a door opener for a job interview.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For the readers of The New York Times that would be Mr Scott.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dodd-Frank and Competition


For John, BLUFOver regulation will eventually make us pseudo-socialist.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From "The Volokh Conspiracy" column in The Washington Post we have this item, "New study finds that Dodd-Frank has promoted industry consolidation and killed community banks"
A new study by Marshall Lux and Robert Greene reports that since the enactment of Dodd-Frank community banks have lost market share at twice the rate that they did prior to Dodd-Frank.

The authors note that many of the regulations implemented pursuant to Dodd-Frank are not linked to the size of the institution, thus there are economies of scale in regulatory compliance.  Thus, regulatory costs tend to fall proportionally heavier on smaller banks, which, in turn, tends to promote consolidation of the industry (as I noted several years ago when I predicted that Dodd-Frank would promote industry consolidation).

I am told that small banks are doing well in Lowell, but this study suggests Lowell may be an anomaly.

"Economies of scale."  This is why ever increasing government regulation hampers small business and impedes development of new businesses.

Have I mentioned the book The Other Patch recently?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Climate Change Convention Purpose


For John, BLUFFolks are not paying attention to what is going on, and then there will be a tussle over if and how this will be implemented by the United States.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Investors Business Daily we have an Opinion Piece saying that the UN efforts regarding Climate Change are not about Climate Change, but rather, about economic systems.  Here is the piece, "U.N. Official Reveals Real Reason Behind Warming Scare".
At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution," she said.

Maybe she is just saying that we are going to change the energy sources.  Here is the proposed Convention Ms Figueres is working on, the "negotiating text".
All Parties to enhance action and cooperate on the basis of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities to further implement the Convention in order to achieve its objective as stated in its Article 2 in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with climate system and to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner, which ensures reliance and adaptive capacity to the adverse effects of climate change, while recognizing the local, national, and global dimensions of adaptation in accordance with the principles and provisions of Articles 3 and 4 of the Convention,
I thought this proposed section was problematic.
Reaffirming the importance of education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation on these matters for promoting changes in lifestyles, attitudes and behaviour needed to foster low-emission and climate-resilient development and to mobilize public support for climate policies and action
They want to reform our "lifestyles, attitudes and behavior".  It is one thing for us to grow in our "lifestyles, attitudes and behavior" and it is another for Governments to take on the task of molding us.  That is the line between freedom and dictatorship.

Here is a sample proposed part of the text:

Recognizing that all actions on climate change shall significantly contribute to the post 2015 development agenda of the United Nations with a particular focus on human rights, good governance, gender equality and the needs of particularly vulnerable groups,
I sort of like that, but I wonder what is meant by "good governance"?  There is a term that bureaucrats can twist any way they wish.

The big problem with Capitalism is that it changed political relations, forcing the masters to compete for their positions of power by providing goods and services.  It lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, provided better food and medicine, and lengthened life spans.

Regards  —  Cliff

Are You Comfortable With Evolution?


For John, BLUFShouldn't we wonder, why "A" and not "B"?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Professor Ann Althouse, at her Blog, muses on the Anti-Semitic Graffiti in Madison, Wisconsin, over the weekend, and quotes her first husband, Richard Lawrence Cohen, who introduces the idea that one response to the awful graffiti used "feminist language and the word "comfortable".  Then we slip over to Governor Scott Walker and the question from the British Press as to if he was "comfortable" with evolution.
Is that feminist language?  Of course, I immediately thought about the British journalist who asked Scott Walker "Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution?" Comfortable! After thinking about that for a few days, I decided that the correct answer to that question must be:  No!  The question whether the theory of evolution is accurate is entirely different from the question whether we should be comfortable with it.  If you understand it, it should make you uncomfortable . Why are we here — we... and not some kinder, gentler people who were murdered and whose genes were superseded by the genes of marauding rapists?
I wonder if she read, over the weekend, the lead article in the "Ideas" section of The Boston Globe, which took another look at "Our lost cousins, the Neanderthals"

Hat tip to Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr Scott to those of you who read The New York Times.
  Being a Republican and being a Preacher's Kid, and all that.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Justifying Lying and Failing At It


For John, BLUFSort of like Payola.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Last week in the New York Times "Week in Review" was an opinion piece by Professor Clancy Martin, headlined "Good Lovers Lie".  I don't believe he sells his thesis, but maybe it is about selling his book, Love and Lies.

Interestingly, a review of his book, "‘Love and Lies,’ by Clancy Martin", appeared the same day in The New York Times Book Review.  I believe the Reviewer, Novelist Adelle Waldman, had the same view of the book I did.

...a new and remarkably insight-free book of self-reflection by the novelist and philosophy professor Clancy Martin.
I glommed onto this paragraph:
Think of the dozens of lies you tell your children (or your parents told you) in order to help them believe in themselves:  “You can be whatever you want to be.”  “Life gets easier.”
I don't think of these as lies.  They are the attempts of parents to help children set goals.  The odds are good you can be whatever you want to be, but not everything you want to be.  This is encouragement.  It does not fall into the same category as what is covered a few paragraphs down, where he talks about cheating on his second wife.  That deception and lying is not nearly the same as promising your child he or she should have dreams and they will come true.

This is not a book or an article I would recommend.

What I would recommend is The New York Times not allow this kind of arrangement, where the author of a book being reviewed gets to write a self-promoting OpEd, especially not in the same edition of the paper.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, February 15, 2015

T-Shirt Exchange


For John, BLUFBirthdays are fun.  They hav e.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



My youngest Brother sent me my birthday present and a very nice card and allowed as how I could open it early.

When I opened the package I saw a T-Shirt that reminded me of this one, which I blogged about here, and which I am sending to the same Brother, once the snow lets up.

 

 

So, I got a T-Shirt for my Birthday, just in time for Ash Wednesday, and here is the image on the front of said T-Shirt.

I love the humor of the image.  And the net does remind one of a rosary, which the fisherman is fingering.  In any circumstance it would be funny, but given the ever increasing restrictions on fishermen up here in New England, the idea of confessing that one has been out fishing is poignant.

Oh, the Middle Brother, who is first up in the annual Birthday March across the year, he got a Tom Brady T-Shirt, since he lives out on the Coast (well almost, Saratoga).  He is a good egg, but I think he thinks Jerry Brown is the same as Pat Brown.  I remember one Sunday my Mother taking me to Mass at a certain time and place, so we could see then former Governor Pat Brown.  Cathedral City, as I recall.  It had picked up the nick-name "Cat City" during WWII, for reasons I will not go into.

No, my Wife, who wanted and got four new snow tires for Saint Valentine's Day, is not getting a T-Shirt for her Birthday.  But, the gift is coming via Amazon.

Regards  —  Cliff

Change in Homeless Policy?


For John, BLUFWe need a better approach to executing our responsibilities to the homeless.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun, page 2, we have an article on our Lieutenant Governor, Karen Polito, talking about a new policy with regard to housing the homeless.

"Polito:  Baker to end policy of housing homeless in hotels".  The Reporter is Cliff Clark (cclark@sentinelandenterprise.com).

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Friday that Gov. Charlie Baker will soon announce changes to the policy of housing the state's homeless in hotels, often miles from where the families have community ties.

"Gov. Baker and I feel there is a much more appropriate way of helping people that are in homelessness to stable housing and a pathway to success, and it does not include hotel rooms," said Polito during a visit to Leominster and Gardner to announce the creation of a new cabinet to strengthen ties between the state government and municipalities.

"Hotels rooms, as part of the shelter system, is a model that doesn't work," Polito said.

As the article details, moving people away from their support structure may make homelessness and its second and third order effects worse than it needs be.  That said, it isn't enough to say no more motel housing.  We need alternative locations.

Of course there is a question of if this will have an adverse impact on the motel business.  Every solution contains the seeds to a new problem.

Regards  —  Cliff

Anniversary of Bombing of Dresden


For John, BLUFUS Army Air Force and RAF working in Partnership.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Yesterday was the 70th Anniversary of the Allied bombing of Dresden as the German war machine fought on, although the war was by this point effectively lost.  German would unconditionally surrender on 8 May 1945, two and a half months in the future.

Here is the Instapundit take on it.

WE SEEM TO LIVE IN A WORLD THAT SAYS OF DRESDEN “NEVER AGAIN,” BUT ISN’T SO SURE ABOUT AUSCHWITZ: The Firebombing Of Dresden, 70 Years Later.
War can be a terrible thing for not just the Service members, but also for the Civilians who support them.  Even back in the time of Bonaparte it was realized that the Civilian population was part of war making.  We have Clausewitz's trinity of the Government, the Military and the People.  To argue for "innocent civilians" is to ignore their role, their passion, their support—both political and economic—toward the war.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Anti-Semitism Here?


For John, BLUFNo group, no religion, no race, should live in terror, at least in these United States.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Originally published in The Jerusalem Post, this article, by Ms Caroline Glick, talks to the perception that the President is "Mainstreaming Jew hatred in America".
US President Barack Obama is mainstreaming anti-Semitism in America.

This week, apropos of seemingly nothing, in an interview with Mathew Yglesias from the Vox.com website, Obama was asked about terrorism. In his answer the president said the terrorism threat is overrated. And that was far from the most disturbing statement he made.

Moving from the general to the specific, Obama referred to the jihadists who committed last month’s massacres in Paris as “a bunch of violent vicious zealots,” who “randomly shot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

So, Mr Ahmedy Coulibaly, who shot up the Paris Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, who called a French TV Station to tell them we wanted to kill Jews, was just some random guy, randomly killing people, who he thought were Jews.

The President is correct to say that this is not about Islam.  It isn't.  It is about a small group of people who have taken their understanding of God to an extreme and have decided to impose it on everyone else.  We are trying to outgrow these kinds of attitudes here in the US.

The President is correct to say we shouldn't be on our "high horse" about these folks.  Picking the Crusades and Inquisition was ahistorical.  He should have picked lynchings here in the US.  Horrid page in our history.  And no mention of how Barbery Pirates used to come to the Northern Atlantic and kidnap and enslave American fishermen.

Do I believe our President is trying to spread Anti-Semitism, either here or abroad?  No.  But, I am bothered by what I see as a lack of sensitivity on the part of the President with regard to the terrors Jews feel in France and across Europe, not to mention within Israel itself.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Another Holiday


 

Happy Baldimes Day

 

At least that is the term in our family.

Regards  —  Cliff

Warren Ducking from Clinton?


For John, BLUFHillary commands a formidable machine, which she wasn't able to fully utilize against Senator Barak Obama.  Senator E Warren may be a different story.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Reporter John Fund, writing for The National Review, explains about Ms Hillary CLinton that "Her team is famous for playing mean, and potential competitors are afraid to enter the ring."

It seems everyone on the activist left of the Democratic party wants Elizabeth Warren to challenge Hillary Clinton.  The New York Working Families Party, born out of the infamous and disbanded ACORN empire, has endorsed her.  A new YouGov poll paid for by Warren backers purports to show that once voters are familiar with the stances of both women, Warren will beat Hillary in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Warren, who was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts only four years ago, has refused entreaties to run, although she always uses the present tense (“I am not running for president”), which gives her some wiggle room.  After all, at age 65 she can’t wait forever if she wants to reach the White House.

The Huffington Post average of all polls shows Hillary leading Warren by a crushing 60 percent to 12 percent.  But it’s not only these polls that might be keeping her out of the race.  Recall that Barack Obama overcame a similar deficit and went on to win the nomination in 2008.

Here is the key paragraph:
Warren’s reluctance probably has more to do with the reach and ruthlessness of Team Hillary.  “Her command of the Democratic machinery, from fundraising to grass-roots organizing, is so extensive that almost everyone else is understandably intimidated about even testing their talents against her,” the Washington Post observed of Mrs. Clinton.
This post differs from the on at Instapundit, in that it quotes different parts of the story.  The Instapundit raises questions of academic fraud.

Insty does have a point when he says:

What’s funny is, if Hillary’s campaign raises issues like this, or the fake-Indian issue, or Warren’s asbestos-related legal work — all things that people on the right have mentioned, and the press ignored, for years — suddenly they will be Big Important Concerns.
Exactly.

But, the thing is, Ms E Warren keeps getting her name out there.  This thing isn't over yet. Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 13, 2015

Armed and Dangerous


For John, BLUFSelf-evident.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I saw this T-Shirt up at Saint Francis Church, in Dracut, this last Saturday.

May not be fast, but it can be effective.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mass GOP Pays Heavy Price to Avoid Court


For John, BLUFWe [Republican] need to clean up the party, and condemn the "Independents" for what they are.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Boston Globe we have "State GOP settles with Fisher over convention lawsuit".

For those not following this soap opera, that would be Mr Mark Fisher, independent businessman, who ran for the Republican nomination for Governor last year. I didn't make the convention last year, but friends of mine who were paying attention said it was seedy.  This is embarrassing to say, but we need to pull at least one part in our Commonwealth into the open air of transparency.  This won't do it, but it will send a message of being careful in working with The People.

Here is the lede and following paragraphs

The Massachusetts Republican Party has agreed to pay former Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher $240,000 to settle his legal suit that alleged the party manipulated the state convention to bar him from the primary ballot.

Party chairwoman Kirsten Hughes confirmed that the GOP leadership agreed to the sum, but strongly rejected any notion that the party was conceding that Fisher’s charges were valid. She said the party’s mounting legal bills prompted them to seek a settlement.

“He didn’t have a case,’’ Hughes said. “But sometimes it is far better to take the losses and move on.”

Hughes said the party has already spent $170,000 in legal fees.

“That’s a big nut and we were going to have to spend a lot more than that to continue,’’ she said.

Fisher said it was clear to him that party leaders, who had insisted they acted properly at the convention, wanted to end the legal proceedings, which had just begun to involve sworn testimony, because evidence would show his charges were true.

“The Massachusetts GOP never wanted that testimony and the tally sheets from the delegations to come out,’’ he said. Party leaders insist that evidence would prove they acted correctly.

Fisher launched his suit shortly after the GOP’s March state convention.

Frankly, I think Globe Reporter Frank Phillips was a little unfair to Mr Mark Fisher.  His label of "Tea Party gubernatorial candidate, rather than identifying him as what he is, a Republican, was unfair, and perhaps a bit slimy.  In defense of Mr Phillips, I allow room for an editor who decided to put some political spin on the issue.  Sad.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mass Transit Is Unsafe


For John, BLUFEvery solution has the seeds of a new problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



MASS TRANSIT KILLS! Infected commuter could have exposed thousands to measles. If all those people had been safely cocooned in individual automobiles, they’d have no worries now.
So maybe the MBTA isn't so bad after all.  BART may have exposed 50,000 traveling from Contra Costa County.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Federal Court Talks Second Amendment


For John, BLUFIf people want guns they will find ways.  Look at the Jihadists in France.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Per the Instapundit:  CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE.

A federal district court has told Attorney General Eric H Holder, Jr, that bans on interstate transfers of firearms is unconstitutional, per the Second Amendment.

Here is the opinion.

I am sure there will be an appeal, but this is a blow at the idea that "we are perfect, or would be if only we could prevent guns from your state entering our state."

Having considered the motions, the briefing, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss should be and is hereby DENIED.  For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

New SecDef on Verge of Approval


For John, BLUFThis won't happen to often in the next 23 months.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Wall Street Journal, "New Defense Chief Ashton Carter Unanimously Approved by Senate Panel".
Ashton Carter Likely to Start at Pentagon on Friday After Full Senate Vote Wednesday or Thursday
So, is this comity, or did the President pick the one person he thought would make it through the process?

Regards  —  Cliff

North Korean Economy—The Dollar


For John, BLUFIf North Korea collapses, it won't be pretty.



This is from Yonhap News Agency, a report on the North Korean economy, N. Koreans rely more on dollar, yuan in black market: source.
SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's grass-root market forces are increasingly dependent on the dollar and the yuan, rather than the nation's currency, the won, due to a mistrust of their communist regime, an informed source here said Tuesday.

"It would be fair to say that Pyongyang has become a de-facto dollar-using economy, while border regions and economic zones such as the Rajin-Sonbong area are almost a yuan-using one," the source said, referring to a burgeoning market economy in the North.

The popularity of the U.S. and Chinese currencies is a by-product of growing black market activities there. One dollar is worth about 100 won in the North, according to the source.

North Koreans are shunning banks as they don't trust the authorities, limiting the effects of expanding consumption to other economic sectors, the source said.

Regimes may collapse when their currency is no longer viable.

Regards  —  Cliff

Getting Your News


For John, BLUFMr Brian Williams is NOT mentioned.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



What I’ve Learned From Dropping Fox News.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Real Diversity


For John, BLUFThe right committee is better than some genius.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The New York Times we have an interview with Law Professor Lani Guinier.  It coincides with the release of her new book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy:  Democratizing Higher Education in America.

I admit to being a fan of Professor Guinier from before the time that newly elected President Bill Clinton dropped her like a hot potato after saying he would nominate her for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.  It was not an act of courage on Mr Clinton's part.  Ms Guinier was not a "quote queen", as suggested at the time.  What she was was a very innovative thinker in the area of eliminating segregation.  She was an optimistic person, a person with hope for the future.

At any rate, the Reporter is Tamar Lewinfed and the article is "Lani Guinier Redefines Diversity, Re-evaluates Merit".  This is a topic we talked about, from a different vector, a few days ago, at this blog post:  "American [Academic] Aristocracy".  There we looked at the spin The Economist was putting on what it saw as a new American elite class.

In looking at our meritocracy, Ms Guinier notes that:

The score on your SATs or other exams is a better predictor of your parents’ income and the car they drive than of your performance in college.
Ouch!  That doesn't speak well for our diagnostic tools.  And, as one would expect, there are consequences for this current approach.
The credentials of our testocracy legitimize a new elite, and give them an inflated sense of their worth.  They believe that they are entitled to power because they got it through their individual merit.  Our testocratic meritocracy has let those already at the top of the heap rule, and keep their power, without any sense of moral or political accountability.
The cynic in my wants to use the Bob Hope line, "You mean like Democrats."

But, the issue is more important

Diversity is not simply a matter of having people who look different sitting next to each other but learning in the same way.  What I’m trying to introduce into the conversation is the power of collaboration, of bringing together people who bring different kinds of skills to solving a problem.  That diversity can empower creative ways of learning.

Studies show that groups made up of the highest-performing individuals are not as good at solving complex multidimensional problems — like designing environmental policies, cracking codes or creating social welfare systems — as groups with a mix of skills, backgrounds and ways of thinking, even if the individuals in the group are not all high performers.  That’s important, since this world has a lot of complex problems we need to solve.

So, bringing a diversity of backgrounds makes some sense.  Perhaps there was some wisdom in the William F. Buckley, Jr. quip:
I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
What is the tag line Greg Page uses, "If everyone is thinking alike someone is not thinking."

And, I am reminded of an article in Linked In by retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Taylor V. Beattie, about learning leadership from a Nun.

Real diversity, not diversity by artificial separations.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Unlike our current Attorney General, who seems to be a person of making the Machine work for him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hiring Immigrants


For John, BLUFSpeaking of diversity.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I was mostly watching NESN this morning, City Life being a rerun of Monday's show, which I had already seen up front and personal.  However, I was sampling and at one point fell on Fox News while one of the reporters was interviewing a physician about heart disease.  I noted the physician had a foreign accent.  It dawned on me that Fox News seems to have more non-native born American on-camera staff than any of the other news shows I see.  Am I wrong here?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Well, no, I do not watch Univision or TeleMondo.

Where Are We Going in War on Terrorism?


For John, BLUFIt looks like we lack a strategy.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The President may well be correct that what we are dealing with are random criminal acts, rather than some criminal conspiracy on the part of radical Islamists.  However, he is not doing a good job selling his thoughts.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Getting Education Right


For John, BLUFOne size does not fill all.  What is good for Lowell may not be good for Austin, Texas.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In Monday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun (they did deliver) is an OpEd by Mr George Will, "Leave education to the states' discretion".

Exactly.

Regards  —  Cliff

Happenings on Beacon Hill


For John, BLUFIt is the same old story.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Physician, heal thyself.

In yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun we have a rundown on what has been happening on Beacon Hill.  Incidentally, the Reporter, Mr Bob Katzen, noted that last week the House met for a total of 11 minutes and the Senate for a total of seven minutes.  I expect they were doing a lot of Committee and Constituent Services work.  Well, there was the snow storm.

Last week we heard about how Speaker Robert DeLeo, who six years ago thought it was a good idea to limit the Speaker to eight years.  He got the Mass House to agree with him.  They all thought it was a great idea to have term limits.  Well, they did vote for it.

Now, however, Speaker DeLeo and his merry band think it was, after all, a very stupid idea.  They have voted to lift the restriction.  I wonder if they got advice from UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan.  At any rate, those folks down on Beacon Hill are a lot smarter than those folks we had in office six years ago.  Those solons were not very smart.

This week, looking back on last week, Mr Katzen tells us about a proposal to give the State Reps a full 24 hours to review legislative proposals, emergency legislation exempted.

24 HOURS TO READ LEGISLATION (H 2015): House 115-38, rejected a rule that would require 24-hour notice, not including weekends and holidays, between the release of a bill from an executive session and its consideration on the House floor. The 24-hour rule could be suspended for an emergency if waived by a two-thirds vote.

YES:  Reps. Sheila Harrington, R-Groton; Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica; James Lyons, R-Andover.

NO:  Reps. James Arciero, D-Westford; Cory Atkins, D-Concord; Jennifer Benson, D-Lunenburg; Colleen Garry, D-Dracut; Thomas Golden, D-Lowell; Kenneth Gordon, D-Bedford; James Miceli, D-Wilmington; Rady Mom, D-Lowell.

DIDN'T VOTE:  Rep. David Nangle, D-Lowell.

Seemed like a good idea to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Greetings

Happy Birthday, Lance.

Your Brother, Clifford

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tailoring Your Position For The Dollars


For John, BLUFAre both parties becoming more extreme?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Pittsburg Tribune-Review we have Reporter Salena Zito and "Extreme-left Dems pushing Middle America away".

This opinion piece is about Congressman Tim Ryan, Democrat from Youngstown, Ohio, who was once on the Board of Democrats for Life in America.  He is considering a run for the US Senate and he recently wrote an OpEd in which he declares that he now supports abortion.

Ms Zito see Congressman Tim Ryan as having turned his back on his Youngstown Constituents.  She also attacks the Press for tagging Republicans as "Extremist" but ignoring Democrats who go toward the edge.  She is seeing a shift and wonders if it will work out well for Democrats over the long run.

Just five years ago, 110 pro-life Democrats were in the House, around a dozen in the U.S. Senate.  Today, fewer than five are in the House, and two in the Senate.

Just five years ago, coincidentally, Democrats held majorities in both chambers.

They lost those majorities because they lost touch with their districts.

Yes, gerrymandering played a part. Yet that is far from the whole story, a story no one talks about — or, if they do, they don't address the problem.  The fact is, Democrats are losing or excluding evangelicals, blue-collar types, Jacksonians and moderates, not only from feeling welcome in the party but from filling the Democrat bench to run for or to hold local offices.

That is happening not just in Ohio but all across the country.

So while the story is told, over and over, about how the extreme right wing of the Republican Party is pushing people out, you never once hear the word “extreme” associated with the left or progressive wings of the Democratic Party.

Is it because those wings' values are shared by many in the press who report on politics, so they view any move to the left as normal and sensible?  Probably.

Is that good for Democrats?  Probably not, because it forces them deeper into their party's coastal, urban and academic enclaves, and further out of touch with Middle America.

I do agree that the Democrat Party is moving toward having its locus on the coasts, abandoning fly-over country to the Republicans.  However, I doubt it will be fatal to the Democrat Party.  They still have Chicago and Detroit, for example.  But, in a game of Senators it doesn't matter how Democrat Massachusetts is, it still gets only two, and Tennessee still gets two (at this time Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker).

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Not to be confused with Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
  Ms Zito believes he did it for the money, for the fund raising capabilities of Democrat PACs and facilitators.

Over Reaction in Government


For John, BLUFIf you are going to react you might as well over-react.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Who would believe there is over reaction in Government.  Captain Renault would be shocked, shocked.

What happened with the GSA in Vegas stymies federal workers.

When federal employees get together for training and meetings, fancy lunches aren't on the menu anymore. In fact, food of any kind — tuna fish sandwiches, green salad, oatmeal cookies — can no longer be served by the government. Even coffee is off-limits.

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies say they can no longer travel to academic conferences to present their research.

And mental-health workers at military hospitals say they are in danger of losing their licenses because they can't attend refresher courses.

Three years after the Obama administration clamped down on travel and training in response to the uproar over a Las Vegas conference where hundreds of federal workers partied for four days at taxpayer expense, the restrictions are taking an unanticipated toll. Employees at a wide range of agencies say the rules are gumming up the machinery of government.

This scandal was covered in this news article, "GSA chief resigns amid reports of excessive spending".  What happened was that the GeneralServices Administration had a conference in Las Vegas that included hiring a clown and a mind reader and holding a $31,208 reception.  In the aftermath not only did the Chief of GSA resign, but two top deputies were fired and four managers were placed on leave.  Ouch. In today's article we have these two paragraphs summing up the situation:
As inspector general at the General Services Administration, Brian D. Miller cracked open the story of his agency's extravagances at its 2010 Las Vegas conference, which featured a mind-reader, after-hours parties in loft suites and a video of a bare-chested executive soaking in a hot tub. Now, Miller is warning that the pendulum has swung too far.

"You have an outrageous case and all of a sudden you have a blanket law," said Miller, who left the GSA last year and now works at the Navigant business consulting firm. "It's kind of a bureaucratic problem."

The Federal Ban on conferences included not allowing people to go to known resorts, even when it was cost effective, resulting in the Nevada Congressional Delegation introducing the Protecting Resort Cities From Discrimination Act (Lead Sponsor Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev).

This is, of course, like severing your hand at the wrist because you have a bad splinter in your index finger.

You know how this goes:

President—This Vegas thing reflects badly on the Federal Government.  Lets fix it so it doesn't happen again.

Director of Office of Management and Budget— Issue a circular that curtails partying at conferences.

Agency Head—I won't be the first to bust this.  Nobody does a conference unless I approve it.

Subordinate Management—Don't even bother putting in for a Conference; they won't approve it and I won't forward it.

Regards  —  Cliff