Friday, July 31, 2015

Chris Matthews Asks A Democrat A Hard Question


For John, BLUFDWS is a fake.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is Interviewer Chris Matthews interviewing DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DWS).

Asking her about Senator Bernie Sanders, and if he (Sanders) should speak at the Democrat Convention next year, he asks her"

What's the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist?
DWS is unable (or unwilling) to answer the question.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Iranian Chants


For John, BLUF It is scary when you think the other side actually believes what it is saying.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is an article from The Hill, by Reporter Jesse Byrnes, "Kerry told Iranians:  'Death to America' chants are 'pretty stupid'".  The dateline is Friday, 24 July 2015.

Here is the lede.

Secretary of State John Kerry says he told Iranian officials during the nuclear talks that "death to America" chants at public rallies in their country were "pretty stupid."

"I told them that their chants of 'death to America' and so forth are not helpful, and they're pretty stupid," Kerry said, lowering his voice, during a question-and-answer session at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, where he sought to sell the controversial nuclear deal.

I am glad the Secretary of State spoke up, because I worry about an Iran that says "Death to America" and "Death to Israel".  Do they mean they want the nation to go away or do they mean they want the people to die?  The second view would suggest a hostility that probably can't be placated.  It would suggest an animosity that could lead to war.  That would not be good.  It is an idea that is especially scary when the chanters are following an apocalyptic religion that sees the return of the 12th Imam and a cataclysmic upheaval.

I am glad Secretary of State Kerry has put them on the right path.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Argentina and the Iran Deal


For John, BLUFIt isn't the agreement so much as the secret side agreements.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This item is from the English Language Buenos Aires Herald"Gov't asks US, EU to confirm if sanctions against Iranian AMIA suspect will be lifted".

This involves the 18 July 1994 bombing of the office of Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association), in which 85 died and hundreds were injured.  On 18 January of this year Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment, just before he was to testify before Parliament about his suspicions in the case, including high level corruption.  What a mess.

Here is the lede:

Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman has sent two letters, one to US Secretary of State John Kerry and the other one to EU Foreign Affairs representative Federica Mogherini, asking them to confirm whether sanctions against Iranian former Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi will be lifted, following the newly signed agreements with Iran.

Vahidi is charged for allegedly being one of the people responsible of planning the 1994 AMIA Jewish centre attack.

Who else is being impacted by this deal?  For sure not the four Americans being held by Iran.  But, aside from that?

Regards  —  Cliff

Trump Through a Progressive Lens


TRIGGER WARNING:  I mention President Ronald Reagan.
For John, BLUFThe Donald cuts his own path.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I picked up my last post at a Think Progress spinoff website.  There I saw this item, "The Surprisingly Strong Progressive Case For Donald Trump".

Interesting.  And, the author, Mr Judd Legum, was humble enough, or realistic enough, to realize that while 15 of the 16 will fizzle out, there is no reason to believe Mr Trump might not make it.  As he notes, Governor Ronald Reagan made it, as did Senator Barack Obama.

Regards  —  Cliff

Climate Change Can Do Anything


For John, BLUFThis is a stretch.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Someone posted this to Facebook—"The Link Between Climate Change And ISIS Is Real".

Does this mean George W Bush is now off the hook?

Regards  —  Cliff

The Russians Are Coming


For John, BLUFThere are things to get excited about, but this is not one of them.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From CNN, a question, by Ms Laura Smith-Spark, "Why is Russia sending bombers close to U.S. airspace?".

Here is the lede:

Two Russian bombers intercepted by U.S. fighter jets off the California coast on July Fourth could be seen as having raised a metaphorical middle finger to the United States.

"Good morning, American pilots.  We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day," they said, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The "metaphorical middle finger" is just purple prose.

The passing of a message is nothing new.  Back during the Cold War the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC, would get the new edition of Playboy, put it in a diplomatic pouch and dispatch it to Moscow, where it would be rerouted to a Soviet Bomber Base.  A large Tu-95 bomber would then launch on a reconnaissance mission and when the USAF interceptors from Naval Air Station Keflavík (Iceland) flew up along side the bomber the Soviet aircrew would open up and show the Playboy centerfold, the one the American aviators hadn't seen yet.  All good clean fun.

As for why the flights, the aircrews need the flight hours for their flight pay.  Long over-water flights are a good professional challenge and a way to burnish skills.  Do they gather intelligence during the flight?  Yes, but so do we when we fly the same kinds of profiles against Russia and China.

This is NOT a big deal.

Regards  —  Cliff

Down on Illegal Immigration


For John, BLUFSometimes it is important to examine the whole package, looking for the little anomalies.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



“Open borders?  No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal. . . .  It would make everybody in America poorer—you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that.”
If you guessed Dr Michel Savage (The Savage Nation), whose political philosophy can be summarized in three words: borders, language, and culture, you would be wrong.  And, he doesn't like the Koch Brothers.  But, now, this is not Dr Michael Savage 

Who is it?  Senator Bernie Sanders.  During an interview with Vox.

As a side comment, the original poster, The InstaPundit, ended with this:

So it’s okay to have socialism, but it can’t be international socialism, it has to be socialism in one nation.  A sort of national socialism, I guess.
That is a little subtle.  I will help you out a little.  "Socialism in one nation" refers to the Soviet Union.  It was an idea put forward by Joseph Stalin in 1924.  This is the kind of thing that caused Leon Trotsky to move to Mexico.  Sort of a closing of the circle for Senator Sanders.  The man who wanted socialism everywhere, wanted the permanent revolution, died in Mexico because he was barred from immigrating to the US—died there because government corruption allowed the NKVD to operate a number of assassination attempts against his life.

As for "national socialism", I will leave that to the reader to figure out.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WWI Outbreak, 101 Years Ago


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I challenge conventional wisdom about the outbreak of WWI.
For John, BLUFSometimes Governments are parsimonious with the truth when it comes to war.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Did you note that yesterday was the 101st Anniversary of Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia over what it saw as an unsatisfactory response by Serbia to the assassination of the ArchDuke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and his wife, in Sarajevo?  The Nation has an article up commemorating the anniversary and reprinting its own reporting from that time.

I expect that most people put the blame squarely on Germany, but I believe a careful reading would suggest that Russia should bear a great deal of of the blame.  Even today we should think carefully about the role Russia is playing in European affairs.  Another war might not be out of the question.  In such a war only President Putin would be the winner.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Nation characterizes itself as "the flagship of the left".

Setting the Air Conditioning


For John, BLUFKeep it cool so those who need can bundle up, rather than having individual strip down at work.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At Louder With Crowder, Mr Steven Crowder gives us "#SJW Feminists Now Claim Air Conditioning is Sexist.  Yes Really…".  He is referring to Ms Petula Dvorak and her July 23 item in The Washington Post on office Summer air conditioning.

It is all about men disregarding the needs of women.  Ms Dvorak even cites a study, although I am doubtful of the assertion that changing office temperatures from "from 68 to 77 degrees, typos went down by 44 percent and productivity went up by 150 percent."

Temperature matters, as does humidity.  When I was first stationed in Naples, Italy, back in the 1970s, I scoffed at "Summer Hours".  Almost put my eye out, falling asleep on my pencil.  And the Naples latitude is on a par with New York City, north of DC by several hours.  And DC is humid during the Summer.

In fact, from Columbia University a Lecturer, Ms Sharyn O'Halloran, states (Link here):

Some argue with the advent of air conditioning, Congress could stay in session over the summer, making it a viable legislative entity.
That was when the legislature became more of a place to stay, rather than to pass through.  Ask yourself if that was good for the Citizens.

However, Ms Dvorak calls for men to change.

But come on, men, be bold.

I’m talking short suits.  They’re adorable!  Plus, we’d all love to see your knees, guys.

That would draw a major disapproval from Law Professor (and Blogger) Ann Althouse.

Professor Althouse is, of course, correct.

Regards  —  Cliff

  SJW being an abbreviation for Social Justice Warrior.
  How do you read "productivity went up by 150 percent?  I take that to me that if the baseline was 100, the office was actually, under the new temperature, doing 250.  That does seem like an awful lot.  I would have been doubtful if she had said productivity went up 50%, but, 150 would have made major headlines and resulted in major changes across the Fruited Plain.

The Donald Weighs In


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I discuss some dumb hunter killing Cecil the Lion.
For John, BLUFWhat is interesting is how The Donald "takes a licking and keeps on ticking".  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From a Pittsburg Reporter, who is on vacation:
Breaking news:  Trump calls Cecil the lion a "loser," says he prefers lions that don't get poached.  Rises 15 points in the latest Iowa poll.
Yes, Cecil the Lion has been shot and killed.  Rumor control says the hunter, a dentist, has been forced to close his practice after word got out about his unfortunate action.

The reference to The Donald is sarcasm, but it does talk to the state of the 2016 Presidential Election.  And it isn't just The Donald.

Regards  —  Cliff

  As in this Advert, gone wrong.
  Yes, that would be the one and only Carl Prine.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hillary's Numbers


For John, BLUFI worry that so many people actually like Ms Clinton for President.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This look at Candidate Hillary Clinton, "Why Hillary Clinton’s numbers are down in the states that matter", from The Washington Post, can be summed up by this excerpt:
Part of this, as we've explained before, is that Clinton's favorability tends to swell when she's not running for office and dip when she is.
About those EMails.  I saw a cartoon on Facebook, in which Richard Nixon is complaining that 18 1/2 minutes missing from a tape makes him a crook, but 40,000 missing EMails means nothing for Ms Clinton.  While not excusing Mr Nixon, the EMail thing is concerning.  For one thing, she probably had a lot of items that were classified, like her daily schedule.  In breaking codes, if you can find a plain text version here and compare it to an encrypted version there, you can figure out the cypher.  This is a mess.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Police Make a Mistake, But The Victim Survives


For John, BLUFWhen the policeman shows up, do as you are told.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Washington Post we have a recent (24 July) article on police raids:  "In Iraq, I raided insurgents.  In Virginia, the police raided me."  Mr Alex Horton, the writer, is a thoughtful observer, as you can see from the several early paragraphs excerpted.  And, Mr Horton is not some slug off the street.  He is a recent graduate of Georgetown University and is a member of the Defense Council at the Truman National Security Project.  He served as an infantryman in Iraq with the Army’s 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Here is how the story starts:

I got home from the bar soon after Saturday night bled into Sunday morning and fell into bed.  I didn’t wake up until three police officers barged into my apartment, barking their presence at my door.  They sped down the hallway to my bedroom, their service pistols drawn and leveled at me.

It was just past 9 a.m., and I was still under the covers.  The only visible target was my head.

In the shouting and commotion, I felt an instant familiarity.  I’d been here before.  This was a raid.

I had done this a few dozen times myself, 6,000 miles away from my Alexandria, Va., apartment.  As an Army infantryman in Iraq, I’d always been on the trigger side of the weapon.  Now that I was on the barrel side, I recalled basic training’s most important firearm rule:  Aim only at something you intend to kill.

I had conducted the same kind of raid on suspected bombmakers and high-value insurgents.  But the Fairfax County officers in my apartment were aiming their weapons at a target whose rap sheet included parking tickets and an overdue library book.

My situation was terrifying. Lying facedown in bed, I knew that any move I made could be viewed as a threat.  Instinct told me to get up and protect myself.  My training told me that if I did, these officers would shoot me dead.

For those following at home, Mr Horton is a Caucasian.  Your skin color is not some absolute protection from mistakes.  Mr Horton is a college graduate, doing freelance work for the Federal Government.  The police don't see that when they show up at the door.  For the policeman you are an unknown factor and since he or she wants to go home tonight, care is being taken in case you are a problem.

The good news is that Mr Horton stays calm and does what he is told and comes out the other end alive and uninjured.  Not all can say that.  An important lesson we need to teach our children is that the policeman has a gun, he doesn't know what fool thing you are going to do, so the best advice is to do what you are told and figure it out later, in a calmer atmosphere.

For the policeman it is much more complex.  His job is to be polite, to be professional, and to be prepared to shoot anyone who poses a threat to others or to the policeman.  And there isn't a lot of time to switch roles.

The other lesson from this is that the police need to go back to trying to police like the Community are their partners, not the population they are trying to control.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blue Colar Slipping Away?


For John, BLUFThere are cracks in the political parties, but are they enough to force a realignment?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing an OpEd for The Detroit News, Mr Nolan Finley gives us "Democrats’ handout strategy is failing". Here is the Lede:
Democrats hope to prevail in the 2016 elections by pounding the income gap. But at least one major group on the short end of that equation isn’t buying that the handout party has the right answers.

Blue collar white voters believe the Republican Party is better equipped to make the economic system more fair by an overwhelming margin, according to a new Washington Post poll.

In the survey of non-college educated whites, 50 percent had more faith in GOP policies, while 29 percent favored the Democratic strategy.

These are among the workers hit hardest by the economic shifts of the past quarter century, and in particular by the failed polices of the Obama administration.

From The InstaPundit:
I would also add that Democrats’ incessant demeaning of blue collar workers because of their race (predominantly white), religion, gender (predominantly male), or values isn’t helping a whole lot, either.  If you keep suggesting that white, male, Christians who believe in earning a dollar are racist, ignorant, xenophobic, homophobic or otherwise evil, they probably won’t vote for you.
There is no blinding insight there.  The only question is when the tectonic plates will shift.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wisconsin Government Star Chamber Proceedings Coming to Light


For John, BLUFThe reason there is a Bill of Rights is to protect us from the Government, which, regardless of party, can slip off the rails from time to time.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



There is some whinging going around about the Wisconsin John Doe case being thrown out.  There shouldn't be.  it is just UnAmerican.  Heck, the whole thing is UnAmerican, including the lash up of Wisconsin officials with the IRS to go after a particular group of political activists.  This kind of thing just gives Democrats a bad name.  The Chicago Way.

This is a situation where the police conducted odd hours raids and told people they couldn't even speak to their lawyers.  At the same time the Government attorneys were leaking to the media, even inviting them to the scenes of raids.  Despicable.  And then coordinated with the IRS (what is it, Day 806 of the IRS Scandal?  I think Ms Louis Lerner has a lot to apologize for.)

At any rate, here Law Professor Ann Althouse talking about "The Wisconsin Targets Tell Their Story/After victory in court, conservative activists talk on the record for the first time about their 21-month ordeal."  And, she recommends a must-read story in The Wall Street Journal by Collin Levy. (No subscription? Google some text.)

And, given the Media's cooperation with the corrupt Government officials, can we say there was some BenSmithing going on?  Yes, we can.

Did I use the word despicable?  For sure, a Scott Walker victory in 2016 would be nice payback.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And this is why ordinary citizens should be allowed to sue Government Officials, who would no longer be able to hide behind immunity.  And, besides, tar and feathers is so Nineteenth Century.
  (v) A political tactic that disguises itself as journalism in order to protect Democrats, most specifically Barack Obama.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Papa's Birthday [This Week]


For John, BLUFA great writer.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Yes, this is a little late, but we are looking at Writer Earnest Hemingway's 116th Birthday, this last Tuesday.

Here is the Esquire list of top ten Hemingway quotes, which triggered this post.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, July 23, 2015

When in Doubt, Blame the "White Guy"


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I discuss distortions of the facts with regard to abortion.
For John, BLUFYou have to listen to every argument, but then you have to discard a lot of them for just being flat out factless.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The InstaPundit is on the abortion issue this morning, and not without reason.  The reason is the distortion of information to allow the intellectually lazy to feel good about abortions, rather than seeing them as the small or large tragedies they are.  This item is from News Busters, where Reporter Katie Yoder does a fisking of CNN's Sally Kohn in "Sally Kohn Blames Planned Parenthood Videos on ‘Patriarchy,’ ‘White Supremacy’".

Well, I do have to give credit to the "White Supremacy" argument, given that Ms Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, wanted to reduce the number of Black babies.

The early 1900s are not over, they have just changed cloths.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, I grant that for some it is a medical necessity, the Mother against the unborn child.  I wonder if we ignore the fact that it may not be a slam-dunk decision for the Mother.  Might she not feel a twinge of regret along with the relief that a life threatening situation has been overcome.  A small twinge for what might have been?

Carly on Hillary on Abortion


For John, BLUFThe reason Trump is popular is he pushes back.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina seems to be willing to take it to the Democrats.  Here, on CNN, she is talking about Ms Hillary Clinton and her stand on abortion.

“It’s not a life until it leaves the hospital.” That’s Hillary Clinton’s position.
I fear that that is Ms Clinton's position.  It is sort of a regression to when Sparta was a City State and strong.  On the other hand, it could be a position built on fear—fear than there can be no compromise with the majority of Americans who think there should be some limits on abortion.  Any compromise and we could be on a slippery slope.

Given that SCOTUS has given us Roe v Wade, I see a natural fire brake, unless Ms Clinton fears a Constitutional Amendment, but then that could come anyway, if there were the support, which I doubt there is.

So, Ms Clinton comes off as an extremist.  What can I say?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Prosecutors Protect Us, But Sometimes Harm Us


TRIGGER WARNING:  Wherein we discuss the fact that not all rape accusations are factual.
For John, BLUFNo good deed goes unpunished.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This is not so much about a false allegation of rape as it is about a corrupt Albemarle County (Virginia) prosecutor, Ms Denise Y Lunsford.  I started with the short discussion at The InstaPundit, who linked to a Tuesday article by Reporter Ashe Schow in The Washington Examiner, "Man wrongly accused of rape finally released from prison".  This, in turn, linked to an item in Slate, by Ms Dahlia Lithwick, "When Prosecutors Believe the Unbelievable".

The thing is, the prosecutor, Ms Lunsford, had evidence showing the accused didn't do it and not only did not just free the man, but actually withheld the evidence from the Defense.  This is why there is a Bill of Rights.  There are people in Government who are not to be trusted.  The good news is that they seem to be concentrated in Virginia and Maryland.  We have Ms Denise Lunsford in this case and then there is, in Maryland, Ms Marilyn Mosby, whose handling of the Freddie Gray death leaves a lot to be desired.

I do differ somewhat from The InstaPundit, Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, who says:

This is why “believe the women” is a lousy foundation for a legal system.  And Denise Lunsford should lose her job for this travesty.
I say Ms Lunsford should lose her job now, not at the next election (her's is an elected position), but she should be liable, by law for prosecution for withholding evidence.  And, because one cannot always trust the Government to police the Government, she should be liable to being civilly sued for damages by the defendant (and, her Governmental Entity should be automatically included as a defendant in the suit, so there are some deep pockets).

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Shutting Down Free Speech


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I suggest that the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has sold out.
For John, BLUFWe are lost, or nearly so.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Salon and Ms Anne Silman, we have "Charlie Hebdo will no longer publish images of the Prophet Muhammad".  It turns out "The magazine is changing its stance in the wake of January's violent terrorist attack".

The story lede:

Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine that was the victim of a violent terrorist attack in January that left twelve dead, will no longer produce images of the prophet Muhammad, according to its editor Laurent Sourisseau.

Speaking to German magazine Stern, Sourisseau said that the magazine has "done its job" and "defended the right to caricature."

"We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want.  It is a bit strange though:  we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to," Sourisseau said.

Still, he said he didn't want people to perceive the magazine as being "possessed by Islam."

"The mistakes you could blame Islam for can be found in other religions," he continued.

A friend of mine commented, sarcastically,
No doubt, a triumph for responsible speech.
And the point of Charlie Hebdo is, from this point forward?

There is no point.  It is now another left wing publication that has only Christians and Jews to pick on.  And probably doesn't know an Evangelical from a Fundamentalist.

But, Mr Sourisseau has a point.  If no one else will stand up, why should they?  For example, Yale Press published a whole book on the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, but refused to reprint the cartoons in the book.  Weak.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Public Works to the Rescue


For John, BLUFI generally find City services to be good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Sometime between 4:30 PM and 6:00 PM a huge branch fell into the street in front of our home.  It was from a tree on the other side of the street and the debris stretched for about 30 feet and well out into the street.  Our neighbor, Barbara pull the branch out of the middle of the street and called DPW, but got a recording.  I was sent out by my wife to move my [undamaged] car.  I took my saw from the trunk and cut off a bunch of branches overhanding the street and the sidewalk and stacked them on the area between the curb and the sidewalk.  I then called the Police Non-Emergency number and briefed the woman who answered the phone.  Then I moved my car and went in for dinner (Taco Salad—excellent).

About a half hour later I went out and saw Jeff the Night Watchman cutting up this big limb and moving pieces of the limb into that area I had been using.  Jeff showed up in his white City of Lowell pickup.  The street is in pretty good shape this evening and the arbor person will be by tomorrow morning to do evaluation.

I am impressed by the City response.  Thanks, Ralph Snow, for running a good shop, and thanks Jeff, for a quick, effective, response.

UPDATE:  And, the next morning, at a civilized time, the City came by and picked up the remains of the downed limb.

Regards  —  Cliff

America's Lost Girls


For John, BLUFYou either have hope or you cave into cynicism.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Mr Anthony Lane, a Writer for The New Yorker we have a review of the new movie, Trainwreck.

The movie stars Amy Schumer, and from here Wikipedia bio, the movie sounds like like an on-screen biography, with a happy ending.

And there is where the writer, Mr Lane, upchucks.  He is dissolute over the ending to the movie Trainwreck.  The reason is the heroine goes from being a hard bitten female version of a swinger to someone who finds love and hope for the future, and, yuck, marriage.

Amy, though informed by Steven [her boyfriend at the beginning of the movie], “You’re not nice,” is nice enough to befriend a homeless man outside her apartment; her philandering is not that of a genuine free spirit but of a conscience wrenched out of joint by an equally faithless father (Colin Quinn), who now, as if paying for his sins, suffers from multiple sclerosis and resides in an assisted-living facility.  Amy has a sister (Brie Larson), who has a husband and a stepson, and, fiercely though Amy mocks their domestic harmony, they have much to teach her, the end result being a long shot, late in the proceedings, of all four of them gathered for a group hug.  …  So much for the promise of the title. “Trainwreck” sticks to the rails.
What's not to like?  A story of redemption.  Things start out bad and end well.  Virtues turn out to have value.  There is hope.

I feel sorry for Mr Lane, the Reviewer.  It must be tough working at The New Yorker, with all that Progressive cynicism.

Regards  —  Cliff

InstaPundit asks "Why does De Blasio Hate the Poor?"


For John, BLUFHere is another example of the Governmental Bureaucracy screwing over the poor to benefit the better off.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Ms Megan McArdle, who is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes on economics, business and public policy, gives us Uber Serves the Poor by Going Where Taxis Don’t.
People talk about the ride-sharing service as if it’s mostly a boon for rich people, who have conspired with the titans of Silicon Valley to take food out of the mouths of hardworking taxi drivers.  And sure, what’s good for Uber is bad for taxi drivers — or at least, bad for the owners of taxi medallions.  But the assumption that the beneficiaries are rich is a little strange.

As I noted in the very first article I ever wrote about the company, the primary appeal of Uber for me has never been avoiding taxis, or even getting a cheaper fare.  If I’m in an area where it’s easy to catch a street hail, I’ll usually just stick my arm out like the old-fashioned girl I am.  No, the biggest benefit I’ve always seen is that Uber allowed you to catch a ride from places where taxis are scarce.

Five years ago, when we moved in, my neighborhood in Washington was one of those places.  I almost never saw available taxis near us. For taxi drivers, time is money — any time they’re not driving someone around, they are burning gas looking for a fare.  So no wonder drivers would rather head downtown, where there were lots of people looking for taxis, than cruise a larger area for the few fares that might need a ride.  Street hailing simply isn’t efficient without a dense population of taxi riders.  And while you could theoretically call a taxi to your house, this was a highly unreliable means of transportation.  More than once, I have had to press my retired mother into emergency service for a ride to the airport, because my car simply never showed up.

I’ve always thought that in terms of letting you do something you couldn’t do before, Uber provides the biggest benefit to people who live in lower-income neighborhoods, not in rich ones.  That’s where dispatch is often unreliable, where street hails are rare, and where many residents don’t have a car.

Then, adding insult to injury, the InstaPundit says:
But Uber offers insufficient opportunities for graft.  Negotiating the creation of those opportunities is what the controversy over Uber is really about.
Have I mentioned Mr Hernando de Soto's book, The Other Path?

Regards  —  Cliff

Elon Musk on Recent Failure


For John, BLUFWhen you have been doing something for a long time it is possible for one's sequence of steps to drift, leading to failure.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Reporter Melody Petersen, of The LA Times, has a 20 July report, "SpaceX founder Elon Musk blames rocket failure on shoddy part"
SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Monday that the company believes its rocket disintegrated last month after a small steel band purchased from a subcontractor snapped under pressure.

Musk said the investigation's preliminary conclusions point to the 2-foot-long strut that was holding down one of many helium bottles on the rocket's second stage, where the explosion occurred.

“This was a purchased part,” Musk said.  “We just install it at SpaceX.”

But he added that he did not put all fault for the June 28 rocket failure on what appeared to be a shoddy part from a supplier.  He said he believed that SpaceX employees may have become somewhat complacent about quality control because of the firm's repeated successes in recent years.

Complacency is always a problem.  And its twin, paranoia.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, July 20, 2015

Housing Issues


For John, BLUFProblems with housing, based on Race, is across the nation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is the Link to the InstaPundit Post and Comments, with this intro:
SHOCKING TO SEE THIS IN THE WASHINGTON POSTIt’s Not Dixie’s Fault.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, July 19, 2015

E Warren Warning to H Clinton Re Wall Street


For John, BLUFDemocrats decry Republicans as being in the pocket of Wall Street, but so are they.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The InstaPundit to The Washington Free Beacon to The LA Times (Trail Guide:  Campaign 2016) to find "Warren warns Clinton not to cozy up to Wall Street".  But Senator Warren isn't running, or so I am told.  Of course I am doubtful of this conventional wisdom.

Anyway, there is the lede:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren did not mention Hillary Clinton by name, but the Massachusetts Democrat had some strong advice for her: Don't get to close to Citibank.

“I think anyone running for that job, anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government,” Warren said “should say loud and clear that they agree:  We don't run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations.  We run it for people.”

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, July 18, 2015

HIPAA Drives Me Crazy


For John, BLUFWhen was the last time you read a HIPAA Agreement before signing it?.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here, from Ms Paula Sped of The New York Times, is an article on HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, "Hipaa’s Use as Code of Silence Often Misinterprets the Law".   The dateline is 17 July 2015.

For example:

Each scenario, attorneys say, involves a misinterpretation of the privacy rules created under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. “It’s become an all-purpose excuse for things people don’t want to talk about,” said Carol Levine, director of the United Hospital Fund’s Families and Health Care Project, which has published a Hipaa guide for family caregivers.
Do we, as the mass of patients, even pay attention to HIPAA?  If we don't, what does it say about the law?  It says the law has become disconnected from our lives and probably needs to be recast.  Action Congress!

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gun Control Issues


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I talk about guns and a woman murdered, with San Francisco's "sanctuary law" being a possible contributing factor.
For John, BLUFThere are lots of opinions, but not a lot of analysis regarding guns.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here, from the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is a press release related to the shooting death of Ms Kathryn Steinle.  It is headlined "Pelosi Remarks at Press Event Urging Congress to Pass Background Checks Legislation".  From it I have extracted this paragraph:
Last week, in San Francisco, our city suffered our own senseless act of gun violence with the killing of Kathryn Steinle, and our thoughts and prayers are very much with her family.  Today, we must do more as a nation to prevent dangerous people from getting easy access to guns.  And Congress has a moral responsibility to act.  What is so unclear?  What do they not understand about that?
I am in sympathy with the idea of background checks for the sales of guns (or the issuance of a license).  In sympathy as long as two safeguards are in place.
  • Records of the results of the background check are not held more than a nominal period, and,
  • Background checks are not made onerous by the Federal Government or local governments.
Yes, we don't want someone with a criminal record (traffic tickets, youthful incidents, etc aside) obtaining a gun.  We also don't want someone who is emotionally disturbed to have a gun.  Makes sense to me.

What is not clear to be, or rather, to use Ms Pelosi's words, what is unclear, is how the institution of background checks would have altered the situation in San Francisco in which Ms Kathryn Steinle was cut down by a stolen federal weapon.  Would Ms Pelosi ban guns from the myriad of federal agencies authorized to arm its people, agencies like the Department of Education?

To be clear, Ms Pelosi's solution is unclear.

But, it sounds good.

On the other hand, what is her view of San Francisco being a "sanctuary city"?  Would the alleged shooter, five time deported Mr Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, have not been there if the City's approach to illegal aliens was different?  Can we say about this that "Congress has a moral responsibility to act"?

If, however, you feel pursuing illegal immigrants is like pursuing runaway slaves, you need to stand your ground.  But, do you think we should just go for an open border with Mexico?  Should we, in some way, integrate our Social Security systems, so money for that tax can be collected by either government and exchanged based upon citizenship?  Should there even be separate citizenship?  Should Mexicans in the United States be free to vote in local elections, as would be US Citizens living in Mexico?  Or, perhaps like the compromise for the election of School Committee members for Greater Lowell Technical High School, it should be a free-for-all and we should vote for the Mexican President and legislators and they for ours.

Regards  —  Cliff

Interest in Pistols Grows


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I mention women and guns.
For John, BLUFIf, per SCOTUS, I can obtain a license for SSM, why can't I obtain one for packing?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I am blaming the women of this nation for the drop in the crime rate.  Based on what Ms Liz Sheld has written in the PJ Tattler, "Concealed-Carry Permits for Women Up 270% since 2007".  The item has a dateline of 17 July 2015 - 6:04 am.

It takes a while to get to the core of the argument, but here it is.

According to the study, concealed-carry permits have risen by 156% among men and a whopping 270% for women.  Lott also revealed that minority groups are acquiring concealed-carry permits faster than whites.

“Over the last couple of years, there has been a massive sea change among blacks’ views towards guns,” Lott said.

“The other part of the reason is that states that have had concealed handgun permits for a while have been lowering the cost of getting permits,” Lott said, referring to fees and the cost of mandatory training.  ”As the study notes there is a huge difference across states in the cost of getting a permit.  But not too surprisingly, lower costs appear to increase the rate that blacks get permits relative to whites.”

Also of note is the drop in crime: “Lott notes that the national murder rate fell to 4.2 people per 100,000 from 5.6 per 100,000 between 2007 and 2014.  Overall, violent crime dropped 25 percent in the same period.”

Incidentally, the capitalization of "Black" goes to the issue Ms Lynne Lupien has, which is that this term shouldn't be capitalized, or so I understand her position.  I think it should.  But then I didn't do so well in grade school.

And, moving to the concerns of another sharp-eyed reader, correlation, indeed, does not equate to causation, but the reasonably cautious man on the Number 38 Bus would give it some consideration, absent evident to the contrary.

And why are Blacks seeking concealed-carry permits?  I would suspect crime on their streets.  No one else is fixing the problem, so it falls to the law abiding citizens.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  John Lott, president of the CPRC (Crime Prevention Research Center).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Word on the Street


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I suggest the world is complicated, or at least the Middle East.
For John, BLUFAnd it doesn't even mention the Kurds, Turkey or Armenia.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



A friend of mine linked to this item on Facebook:

It comes from the Facebook page titled "Karl remarks".

The cutline is "Political analysis on the 'Arab street' goes something like this."

Regards  —  Cliff

The Real Iran Problem


For John, BLUFIran is not going away after this nuclear weapons development deal.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Mr Michael J Totten, a contributing editor at World Affairs, we have an article, "The Iran Delusion:  A Primer for the Perplexed".

Worth the read.

Regards  —  Cliff

Harriet Tubman For The Twenty


For John, BLUFTime for a woman on "folding" money and Harriet is just the woman.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Ms Amy Davidson, a staff writer for The New Yorker, gives us "Keep Hamilton on the Ten.  Put Tubman on the Twenty".

Pretty straight forward and factual.  Secretary Jack Lew should just do it.

Unless there are some Democrat back room shenanigans to keep their man, Andy, on the Double Sawbuck.

Regards  —  Cliff

Trinity


TRIGGER WARNING:  Wherein we talk about nuclear weapons.
For John, BLUFModern nuclear weapons are not that big—smaller than an SUV—but very powerful.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is the Wikipedia article on Trinity.  At 5:29:45 on 16 July 1945 the United States tested its first nuclear device, the "gadget".  It worked.

It also worked twice more, in different designs, over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  While it was touch and go for a while, those two weapons pushed the Japanese Emperor into agreeing to surrender, as long as the Chrysanthemum Throne was preserved.  It was, but with General Douglas MacArthur as the "Shogun".

After the successful test Dr J Robert Oppenheimer recalled the words of the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; where Vishnu says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.'  Dr Oppenheimer later said "I suppose we all thought that, one way or another."

Nuclear weapons are now part of the knowledge of man.  They must be retained, for the purpose of deterrence, since trust is not yet a part of human nature.  However, they must be dealt with carefully.  Not setting off a nuclear war is an important goal.  Conversely, being ready to respond in kind is a good deterrent.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Donald Trump—Banned in Boston


For John, BLUFYou may not like Mr Trump, but voters seem to.  Why?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Some have asked if Mr Donald Trump is a secret agent of Ms Hillary Clinton.

Now the question is if Mayor Marty Walsh, of Boston, is a secret agent of Mr Donald Trump.

From New England Cable News is the headline "Mayor Says Trump Should Apologize or Stay Out of Boston".  What is the line?  "I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right."  A lot of folks have said that.  I am quoting Mr George M Cohan.

Of course Boston doesn't need Mr Trump to build all the hotels it needs.  It can get the Massachusetts Taxpayers to do it, under the guise of preparing for the Olympics.  In the mean time, Mr Trump just laps up the publicity and the revulsion voters feel for the mainstream politicians.  Sort of like Senator Bernie Sanders.

Regards  —  Cliff

Degrading Our Health Care


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I explain you can't have it all.
For John, BLUFI guess this is OK, and consequences shouldn't drive decisions (except in the case of Prohibition), but do we really want to stop elder care over the issue of abortion.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



With a dateline of 14 July, from Washington, DC, Reporter Steven Ertelt, writes for Life News, "Court Rules Obama Admin Can Force Little Sisters of the Poor to Obey HHS Mandate".  The lede is:
In a surprising decision, a federal appeals court has determined that a Catholic religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, must comply with Obamacare’s abortion mandate.  The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Without relief, the Little Sisters face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

The thing is, we may not wish to put the Little Sisters of the Poor out of business.  And others like them.  That is the kind of thing that happened in the throes of the French Revolution (yesterday was Bastille Day) and it seriously degraded the French health care system for some time.  In the liberation that followed the overthrow of the Monarchy (a good thing), the convents and religious orders were abolished, the ones that had provided French medical care (a bad thing).

On the other hand, three days ago The New York Post announced that "death panels" are back.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Visiting Pluto Late Tomorrow


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I discuss a flyby of Pluto.
For John, BLUFIt is too bad NASA appears to have lost some of its creativity.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Dr Jeff Foust, editor and publisher of The Space Review, has written about the New Horizons space probe and its rendezvous, later this evening, with Pluto.  It is titled "A midsummer classic".

The lede is:

On Tuesday night, millions of Americans will be tuning in to watch Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game, sometimes called the “Midsummer Classic.”  The best players in the game face off against one another, American League versus National League, with home field advantage for the World Series on the line.

But as the game progresses in Cincinnati, the real midsummer classic will be taking place hundreds of kilometers to the east, on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).  Shortly before 9 pm Eastern time Tuesday night (0100 GMT Wednesday), the New Horizons mission team there will be listening for a transmission due from the spacecraft, the first communications since the spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto thirteen hours earlier.  If New Horizons does phone home, and in good health, the excitement in that mission operations center will likely be far greater than anything on the baseball diamond.

For readers of The Boston Globe, "Prickly City", drawn by Scott Stantis, seems to be following New Horizons.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Dr Foust can be reached via EMail at jeff@thespacereview.com.
  Formerly the Ninth Planet.  Some months after New Horizons was launched (19 January 2006) Pluto was downgraded by an IAU (International Astronomical Union) resolution (24 August 2006).

Bastille Day


TRIGGER WARNING:  In which I mention rioters breaking into a fortification to steal guns and ammunition.
For John, BLUFEach nation has to claim democracy in its own way, some peaceful (Canada) and some not (France).  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Today is the 226th Anniversary of Bastille Day, the day the French Revolution began, with the Storming of the Bastille Prison.

East View of the Bastille

It has been said that US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger asked Chou En Lai, what he thought of the French Revolution, to which the reply was "It's too soon to tell."

On the other hand, Professor Stephen Russell asks, on his French Revolution Course Final, when do you think the French Revolution ended.  When I took the course I responded, as I recall, with the overthrown of Charles de Gaulle in 1969, after the 1968 Summer of Protests.

But, the French are proud of their revolution and by the time this posts will be enjoying Europe's oldest and largest regular military parade, as military men, with aircraft overhead, proceed down the Champs-Élysées, to pass in review before the President of the Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests.

Congratulations to our French Brothers and Sisters.

But, by the storming of the Bastille the US Congress under our new Constitution, had been meeting for four months.

Regards  —  Cliff

  It turns out the only prisoner in the Bastille was the Marquis de Sade.  While the Marquis probably should have been locked up, at least for his writings, freeing him was a dubious event.  However, the people storming the Bastille were really looking for guns and ammunition.  The horror of it all!
  If you type "68ers" into Wikipedia it will take you to a page on the German protests, but France also experienced strong protests, led by students.  It wasn't all happening in the US.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The People in Search of a Spokesman


For John, BLUFThe year 1968 may be a long time ago, but the political dynamics seem to be getting a replay.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This morning on City Life (George Anthes, Ann Wofford and myself) we discussed the candidacy of both Senator Bernie Sanders and Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump (aka The Donald).  Bother are otherwise unlikely candidates, but they are speaking to large segments of our population.  As Law Professor Glenn Reynolds has said, "if you ignore people they’ll find their own spokesman."

Professor Reynolds provided the long form version of that comment in an OpEd for USA Today, "The Donald and Bernie show".  The sub-headline is "When party outsiders feel ignored, a champion appears to take their interests to heart."

Here is the lede:

Political parties exist, first and foremost, to serve the interest of the insiders, while doling out just enough in the way of favors and ideological satisfaction to keep the party outsiders on the reservation.  But when the members of the "Outer Party" feel sufficiently ignored, a champion appears who will take their interests to heart, or at least sound as if he does.

That's what's happening in both parties with the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., (actually, he identifies as a Socialist, but caucuses with, and apparently now is campaigning as, a Democrat) and Republican Donald Trump (actually he identifies mostly with himself, and campaigns mostly on TV talk shows).  Each, in his own way, speaks to the concerns of constituencies within his party (and, interestingly, to some degree the other party) that are being ignored or dismissed by the insiders.

The opinion piece concludes:
Both Sanders and Trump pose threats to their respective establishments.  Sanders might be another Eugene McCarthy, who garnered tremendous enthusiasm in 1968 while sapping the energy of Democratic establishment candidate Hubert Humphrey, who went on to lose.  Trump might turn out to be another Ross Perot, whose plain talk about deficits excited a lot of GOP voters who then saw George H.W. Bush as an unappetizing substitute.

In a democratic polity, you can't ignore the concerns of large numbers of voters forever.  Both Democrats and Republicans are learning that lesson yet again.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Our Civil War History Transition


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



The Wall Street Journal provided, over the weekend, had an opinion piece by a Dr. William C Davis, who was formerly the Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. He is an historian of the US Civil War and Southern history.  In January of this year his book Crucible of Command:  Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—The War They Fought, the Peace They Forged was published.  The OpEd is about history and memory and is titled "The Right Way to Remember the Confederacy".  The argument from Dr Davis is that "The indelibly tainted battle flag came down in South Carolina, but in context, other Confederate monuments can help teach history for all Americans."

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Unfunded Liabilities at State and Local Levels


For John, BLUFRetirement liabilities are dragging down Greece and could drag us down.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Mr Jeffrey Carter, in his blog Points and Figures, talks about Government debt, including Government pensions, and talks about solutions.  The post is "Want to Know How to Stop a Centralized Bureaucracy?  Math."
My friend Mark Glennon runs Wirepoints.  He was on a radio show recently talking about public pensions.

Public pensions have bankrupted the state of Illinois, counties, and virtually all municipalities in Illinois.  Bill Gurtin of Gurtin Fixed Income has said he would decline buying the public debt of two places:  Puerto Rico and anywhere in Illinois.

Often, we think of the monolithic corporation as being a danger to freedom in America.  It’s a pretty easy seed to plant with people that have to deal with companies like Comcast and ATT everyday.  But, behind that monolithic corporate giant is an out of control larger monolith.  The government.  The government regulates corporations, but who regulates the government?

It’s easy to say, “the voters”.  But, in states like Illinois every district over every geographic square inch has been gerrymandered to death.  Kingmakers have cut up voters to make sure certain things happen. Tammy Duckworth has decided to run for Senate in Illinois.  Democrats aren’t worried about her House seat-the election won’t be competitive.  A Democrat is virtually guaranteed to replace her.  Last week, there was a primary to replace Aaron Schock in Peoria.  Republicans aren’t too concerned since the district has been drawn to guarantee Republican domination.  In certain parts of the state, there are severe social consequences to going against the local Machine.  In the city of Chicago, it’s tougher to be an out of the closet Republican than it is to be gay!

This post includes an audio segment from our local radio show, The Financial Exchange (WRKO, 680).

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

DC Sliced into Quarters


For John, BLUFIf we are going to lick poverty, we ought to start in our Nation's Capitol.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Late last night the Instapundit posted about a Twitter feed that highlighted a problem in our Nation's Capitol.  “If you want to see jaw-dropping inequality and racial segregation, just compare NW to SE D.C.”

He suggested it for a Sunday Feature in The Washington Post.

But, in a way it buries the lede.  Compare NE with SE and while you don't get the same wealth gap, you do find a quality of life difference.  The fact is that NW is the ritzy part of town.  Southeast, especially south of the Anacostia River, is not so good, unless you are living on Bolling AFB.  Few live in SW, but some of it looks like SE and some of it isn't so bad.  But, it is mostly Federal Government buildings.  As for NE, it is not necessarily a great place to live, but it isn't SE.  People dress up and go to Church on Sundays.  They have jobs.  They spruce up their property.  They are Middle Class.

The contrast amongst the four quarters of DC is not something to be proud of. 

As for unemployment, the May 2015 Preliminary rate is 7.3%.  Not great, but not bad (in contrast, Massachusetts was 4.6%).  The problem is, unemployment is concentrated in SE.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder if this all traces back to when President Woodrow Wilson segregated the City.
  The problem with these statistics is you have to pick you set of numbers.  The President says national unemployment is 5.3% (June 2015), but Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders says it is 10.5%.  I am with Senator Sanders.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oregon Cake Walk


For John, BLUFAre there that few bakers willing to bake cakes for same sex weddings, or is it we need to stamp out all resistance?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The story of the Oregon bakers who refused to make a cake for a same sex marriage is kind of squishy.  The bakers, who had previously made pastries for the couple, when they were still a couple, and not yet planning a wedding, did turn down the wedding job and got sued.  So far, so good.

Then came the accusation that there was a gag order from the state of Oregon.  The couple could not talk about the case.  Then it was suggested on the Internet that it wasn't so, but that the fines were for the fact that the bakers had published personal data (DOXXING) about the same sex wedding couple.

Now comes Law Professor Eugene Volokh, with a blog post in The Washington Post, saying "No, the Oregon bakers weren’t fined for publishing the complainant’s home address, or for otherwise publicizing the complaint against them".  That seems pretty definitive.

As for the bakers not being allowed to talk, that is a little more tricky.  Per Professor Volokh, what they may not say is that they will not bake cakes for same sex weddings (saying they would do something illegal).  They are free to say that they think same sex weddings are a wrong headed idea.

On the other hand, if the bakers and the couple had an already established commercial relationship, why did this come to pass?  Why didn't the couple politely say thank you and go elsewhere?  Why didn't the bakers say, "We think this is wrong, but for you we will make a cake."  I guess the couple and the bakers did not have that secure a relationship.  I have to admit that I think $135,000 is a lot of emotional distress.  I would guess it could have been discharged for $1,350, or maybe even $135.  The point would have been made.  Maybe the larger sum was needed to grab headlines so that other bakers would get the word.  And, I think, the couple should take its business elsewhere, in the future, for fear that the bakers will be spitting onto the pastries when their backs are turned to the couple.  I am not saying they should.  If they are the good Christian folks we think they are, they shouldn't.  But, $135,000 is a lot of animosity.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Reprise of 1968?


For John, BLUFI don't think Ms Clinton can go the distance.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The Daily Beast Reporter Nick Gillespie, yesterday, gave us "Hillary’s Strategy Is Actually Brilliant".  The sub-headline is "Why, from a strategic standpoint, Clinton is right to stay as low profile as possible."
Has any future president been more misunderstood than Hillary Clinton?

As someone who cannot imagine any possible scenario in which I would cast a ballot for the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, First Lady, and Goldwater Girl, I note this with a heavy heart.  But Clinton’s deafening and widely criticized silence since announcing her candidacy isn’t a weakness or a failing on her part.  It underscores exactly the professionalism, strategizing, and discipline that explain why she is atop the polls.

She has nothing to gain and everything to lose from shooting off her mouth for at least the rest of the year.  Like an aging boxer who survives more by smarts than by slugging, Clinton knows that the fight for the White House is a 15-round bout that will certainly go the distance.  Only a showboating chump would punch themselves out in the early rounds.

I still think it will be like 1968, with Senator Bernie Sanders playing the role of Senator Eugene McCarthy.  However, rather than Vice President Biden fleeting up, as did then Vice President Hubert H Humphrey [the Happy Warrior], I think Senator E Warren will be pulled in.

But, it is all months away.  A lot of things could happen between now and then.  Global Economic slump.  Russian overt aggression in the Baltic region.  A big Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) attack in the US.  A naval incident in the South China Sea, with shots fired and sailors dead.  A Maunder Minimum accepted and confirmed.  Each could cause different folks to come to the fore.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, July 10, 2015

Battle of Britain


For John, BLUF"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Royal Air Force we have this web post announcing the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Britain.  Here is the key paragraph:
The Battle of Britain began on 10 July 1940 with a series of Luftwaffe attacks on shipping convoys off England’s south-east coast.  On that day, the RAF shot down 14 enemy aircraft and severely damaged 23 more, according to the then Air Ministry. Some 200 patrols were flown involving 641 aircraft.
Here is one of the flybys.

Here is the last paragraph of the article:

The battle ranks alongside the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo as one of the most significant in British history.  It was the first major battle in history fought entirely in the air and was the first significant strategic defeat for the Nazis during World War II.
And here is the "enhanced" Changing of the Guard at Buck House.


 

Incidentally, this is also the anniversary of the birth of one of my Front Seaters, when I was an F-4 Back Seater in the Big 22, Bitburg AB, Germany.  We used to deploy to North Africa for weapons training and my Front Seater and I did Functional Check Flights (FCF) on aircraft that had undergone major maintenance, like engine changes.  Because our Wing had Fish Call Signs (like "Trout") for the dozen aircraft deployed to Libya, we flew FCFs as WHALE TEST.  This the tactical call sign for this chap of "Whale".  About four years later I was leading a flight of F-4s from Korat RTAFB onto a Tanker (for air refueling), over Cambodia,a when I heard WHALE check in his flight, from Udorn RTAFB to also refuel.  I mashed the mic button and said "Whale?"  The immediate response was "Flowers?" (a nickname I had picked up at Da Nang seven years earlier.  Incidentally, WHALE had been my wife's late husband's roommate during a deployment to Okinawa, where he died in an aircraft accident.  That was before I knew my wife or the WHALE.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Compromise to Allow Tax Collection and Road Repair


For John, BLUFRight now we are collecting no taxes on overseas profits.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In today's issue of The Boston Globe there is an Associated Press item by Mr Stephen Ohlemacher, "Proposal for business tax would fund road repairs".

This cannot be good.  It was written in a bipartisan way, by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio.

Actually, it is good.  It will encourage repatriation of profits from overseas ventures of American firms and it will free up money for transportation infrastructure improvements.  Money for such things is due to run out in a month.

Let us hope that the Lower House goes along.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fashion Statement


For John, BLUFOnce upon a time I heard, on CNN News that 95% of what we knew to be true in 1900 we now know to be false.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at the InstaPundit Blog guest blogger Ed Driscoll, talking about how our understanding of cholesterol has changed from 1955 to today noted:
as G.K. Chesterton once observed, “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, I do take cholesterol meds.  On the other hand, there has been some hype over this for the last few decades.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Armed America


For John, BLUFThis is a two-fer, illegal immigration and gun laws.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over on Facebook Craig Hi, borrowing an item from Doctrine Man, talks to the recent San Francisco shooting on Pier 14, wherein Ms Kate Steinle, 32, was shot and killed by Mr Francisco Sanchez.  The lawyer for Mr Sanchez says the shooting was an "accident".  Maybe accidental like Mr Sanchez's five previous convictions for re-entry after deportation.

Here is Craig's input:

So you say you're serious about gun control?  One suggestion is to start first by demanding accountability from the government and its agencies--it would likely solve a great deal of the friction you're getting from responsible gun owners who believe in the 2nd amendment precisely because of the growing imbalance caused by the militarization of our bureaucracy.  Bureau of Land Management?  Needs guns?  Really?
This is from an ABC News item:
Authorities are investigating whether a gun associated with a Bureau of Land Management employee was used in the fatal shooting of a young woman on a tourist-heavy San Francisco pier, an agency spokesperson said.

"The matter is under investigation, and law enforcement is working to confirm the origin of the weapon," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Sources familiar with the investigation say the gun belonged to a federal agent and may have been stolen recently. It is unclear whether the firearm was a government-issued service weapon or a personally owned gun.

I think Craig is spot on about concerns.  What we are being offered by the bien-pensant is the elimination of legal weapons with no plan to eliminate illegal weapons.  To borrow from Barney Frank, on what planet do they spend most of their time?

And it isn't just BLM (Bureau of Land Management) that has guns.  The Federal Department of Education issues guns. From NewsMax we have "Justice Dept to Survey Federal Agencies for Guns, Ammo".  This was in June 2014 article.  They note that a 2008 report had "about 120,000 armed officials at 73 agencies — four-fifths of whom worked within the Justice Department or for the various branches of the Department of Homeland Security."  So, a fifth are outside Justice and HLS.

Here is a 2003 GAO Report.

I expect the local Lowell National Park Service Police are armed.  Of course it is Lowell, with a recent knifing on Central Street.

But, this is America, and guns are just part of the culture.

Regards  —  Cliff

Poverty in Texas


For John, BLUFNot everything is bad in Texas.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Federalist we have "America’s Future: California Or Texas?".  The subheadline is " If California is America’s future, then that future is overrun with poverty."

When I was young I thought California was the promised land.  Apparently no longer.  Here is an except from the report:

The share of minorities in California and Texas is about 50 percent higher than in the nation as a whole, triple that of Wisconsin or Minnesota, more than quadruple that of Iowa, and about six-and-a-half times that of New Hampshire.  Thus, it is an illuminating measure [of] the wellbeing of America’s four largest racial or ethnic groups in the two most-populous states that one-fifth of Americans call home.  The table below shows the average SPM for four years, 2010 to 2013, for these four groups.
White, non-Hispanic SPM Rate, 2010-13Black, non-Hispanic SPM Rate, 2010-13Hispanic SPM Rate, 2010-13Asian SPM Rate,2010-13
California14.8%30.1%33.7%17.9%
Texas9.7%19.9%22.7%14.1%
National Average10.8%24.7%27.7%17.1%

Note that in Texas, all four groups’ poverty rates are below the national average, while in California all four groups suffer a poverty rate above the national average.

The article credits the difference to increased economic freedom in Texas.  We should all be skeptical of a single point answer, but I would think that economic freedom is important.

By the way, have you heard that Black voting is up in Texas after the state introduced Voter ID?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The SPM is the US Census Bureau's alternative measure of poverty, the Supplemental Poverty Measure.  Differing from the "official measure, it accounts for housing cost differences by state and considers non-cash benefits.

Too Good to Believe?


For John, BLUFSkepticism helps us sort the true from the bogus.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Washington Examiner is one of the news reports on the idea that a chocolate bar a day will help people on a low-carbohydrate diets lose weight more quickly.  The gist of the story is that:
This spring, Dr. Johannes Bohannon and a team of German scientists discovered that people on low-carbohydrate diets could lose weight faster if they used one weird trick: Eat a bar of chocolate every day.
Here are the highlights from The InstaPundit Post:
Newsrooms around the world responded eagerly to Bohannon’s findings.

“Excellent News:  Chocolate Can Help You Lose Weight!” Huffington Post India declared in a report.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail blared in a headline, “Pass the Easter Egg!  New study reveals that eating chocolate doesn’t affect your Body Mass Index…and can even help you LOSE weight!”

In the United States, Modern Healthcare wrote, “Dieting? Don’t forget the chocolate.”

The story continued to grow, with news of the sweet discovery spreading from the Internet to print and television.  Even Europe’s highest-circulation newspaper, Bild, got in on the action, publishing a report titled “Slim by Chocolate!”

Journalists and readers looked past the too-good-to-be-true nature of the findings and devoured the story wholesale.

But Bohannon’s research was a hoax.

The health study was deliberately faked to test the hypothesis that scientists and reporters rarely detect junk science.  No one caught on to this ruse.

A polite and cheerful skepticism should be in everyone's kit bag.

Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.
― Benjamin Franklin
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Value of Screening for Breast Cancer


For John, BLUFRisk assessment is not just statistics, but also requires communications skills.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At this location is a chart that compares breast cancer outcomes with and without mammography screening.  The numbers say it is a wash.

On the other hand, my wife is a breast cancer survivor, as is the GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who underwent a double mastectomy in March of 2009.

The data in the chart linked to above is from the Danish Harding Center for Risk Literacy.  This is an important, but little followed field. 

Should I have a flu vaccination or not?  Is it safer to travel by car or by plane?  Can early-detection screening tests for cancer prolong my life?  Questions like these are the research focus of our team of scientists led by Professor Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Center.
Regards  —  Cliff

  One of my favorite examples of the problem of communicating risk was the run-up to the first Gulf War.  The US National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Warning, Mr Charles Allen, issued, about a week before war broke out, a warning of a 60% chance of war.  What does that mean?  How serious a problem is Mr Allen describing?  The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said, to an internal Joint Staff meeting, there would be no war—said it a day before Iraq actually invited Kuwait.  They weren't impressed.  On the other hand, I was, but was not in a position to influence events.  Understanding risk is important, but not always helpful.

Ezra Levant Back in News


For John, BLUFCanadian press and government don't like free speech advocate Eza Levant.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From a Canadian Blog Site, The Rebel we find a story about Ezra Levant being slimed by The Toronto Star, and their reporter, Ms Catherine Porter.  The issue was a rally about climate change.  And Mr Levant has the video to prove it.

I am with Mr Levant.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Declaration of Independence


For John, BLUFAt the end of the day, it is about The People, not SCOTUS or POTUS or Congress.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Law Professor Glenn Harland Reynolds, writing in USA Today, gives us a discussion of the Declaration of Independence, "Declaration should still wake the powerful up at night".
Before the declaration, the standard political theory went something like this: God anointed a king, who is the locus of sovereignty on earth.  Though the king is supposed to rule decently, it is the duty of everyone else to submit to the king, who is answerable only to God.  The king might grant you rights, but if he did so that was an act of generosity on his part, not an entitlement on yours.

Divine-right political theory was understandably popular with kings and their supporters and hangers-on, and a form of it survives in assorted variations today.  But the declaration takes a different approach.  It says that rights come from God, not from the king, and that they are "unalienable" — that is, incapable of being sold ("alienated") surrendered, or given away.

What's more, rather than rights coming from the government, government exists to protect rights.  Government, in the declaration's explanation, exists to protect rights, and rather than subjects enjoying rights with the consent of the government, the government itself rules only by the consent of the governed.  And when the government fails to live up to its duties, and the people no longer consent to it, it becomes illegitimate and subject to replacement by something the people like better.

Read it all.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Patriotic Decoration


For John, BLUFLowell is a pretty patriotic city.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



One of our neighbors decorated their home for Independence Day, and did a good job of it.

Thanks, neighbors.

Oh, and nice paint job.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Social Capital


For John, BLUFThe path out of poverty is not just a job, although that is a start.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On the last day of June International New York Times Opinion writer David Brooks wroke "The Next Culture War".  Here is the lede:
Christianity is in decline in the United States. The share of Americans who describe themselves as Christians and attend church is dropping. Evangelical voters make up a smaller share of the electorate. Members of the millennial generation are detaching themselves from religious institutions in droves.
I was ready to stop reading at that point.  For one thing, Christianity has been in decline since soon after the Puritans arrived, but with periodic revivals.  But, for some reason, I pressed on.

And here are, for me, the two key paragraphs:

We live in a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux, in which bonds, social structures and commitments are strained and frayed.  Millions of kids live in stressed and fluid living arrangements.  Many communities have suffered a loss of social capital.  Many young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric because there are no common norms.  Many adults hunger for meaning and goodness, but lack a spiritual vocabulary to think things through.

Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society.  They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment.  They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans.  They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.

It sums up the problems we have and a way forward.  Note the use of the term "social capital".  There are segments of our society where "social capital" is in short supply and we need to rebuild it in those locations.  It is more than providing people a job, although that is critical.  People need the social capital that helps them capitalize on that job.  We have been slowly dissipating that social capital since the 1960s.  We need to reverse that trend, and do it without losing gains in freedom for individuals.

And I liked this paragraph:

This culture war is more Albert Schweitzer and Dorothy Day than Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham; more Salvation Army than Moral Majority.  It’s doing purposefully in public what social conservatives already do in private.
Yes, we live in the now, but we should be thinking about the future.  Part of that future is the question of the eternal.  And Dorothy Day provides a good guide.  She finally closed the door on the Father of her daughter, Mr Forster Batterham, after he said he couldn't abide her becoming a Catholic and having their daughter baptized.  They were not married.

Ms Dorothy Day and her implementation of her faith made her a hero to my Mother, and to me.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff