Saturday, April 30, 2016

The "Bathroom Bill"

For John, BLUFI would be interested in your take.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Controversial transgender bill headed for vote in House, Senate" By Joshua Miller GLOBE STAFF APRIL 29, 2016
A controversial transgender anti-discrimination bill that has long languished on Beacon Hill appears poised to become law after a series of rapid-fire developments at the State House Friday, including the strongest indication yet from Governor Charlie Baker that he would not veto the legislation should it reach his desk.
Frankly, I wonder if this is not a tempest in a tea pot.  I assume that since Christine Jorgensen transgendered people have been using the bathroom most associated with their current sexual configurations and their dress.  Because no one made a point of it, I didn't care.  And still don't.

Having said that, there is the question of this is restricted to the bathroom or if it goes, or will go, further, to locker rooms and communal showers.  There we might have a problem, as some might be offended to see someone who appears to be of the opposite sex in their shower or locker room, changing.  If that becomes permissible then the whole question of differentiation of such facilities by sex becomes ridiculous.  If Joe, transitioning to Jane, used the women's shower, why shouldn't his identical twin Jim?  To the observer there is no difference, until there is reassignment surgery.  And once there is reassignment surgery all we see is Jane.

The question is unanswered in Reporter Miller's article, aside from the mention of concern by Mr Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute regarding locker rooms.

The other thing that leaves one to wonder is that it appears the bill is a skeleton, to be fleshed out later by the Massachusetts Attorney General, Ms Maura Healey, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which the new House version of the bill would mandate make rules and regulations protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations.  That is to say, the legislating process is passes from our elected representatives to some bureaucrats.  It is like living in the EU.

I am awaiting further details.

Regards  —  Cliff

Baseball Fading?

For John, BLUFMaybe like Bridge and Canasta.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This item is from the blog Corner Three.  The author is Coach Darren Gurney.  The headline is "Why Are Kids Leaving Baseball?".
According to the Sports Industry and Fitness Association, during 2008-2013, baseball participation rates declined by 2.3 million, or 14.5%. Similar data has been reported by Little League baseball, which claims that participation fell 6.8% from 2008-2012. These reports do not bode well for the future of America’s pastime or any other baseball-related business. In recent years, various theories have emerged for why kids are not grabbing their mitts and heading off to baseball diamonds. Currently, Major League Baseball is studying methods for speeding up the game to foster more quickly-paced games. However, there are a multitude of diverse, comprehensive reasons for baseball’s slide which are not being fully addressed.
Yes, neighborhoods are different and so are families.  When I was eight to twelve there was a vacant lot a block over and a dozen kids around my age to fill it, playing various forms of baseball.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "Coach Gurney [from Washington University in St. Louis] has been coaching high school and college baseball for the past 24 years and is the founder/director of the Rising Star Baseball Camp in New Rochelle, NY which teaches players ages 4-15. He has coached over twenty players who were selected in the MLB Draft or that have gone on to play professional baseball."

Caucus Today

For John, BLUFAt no cost to the Taxpayers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

See you there.

Groton High School.

Register at Nine and Caucus at Ten.

Well, at least for the Third Congressional District here in Massachusetts, which includes Lowell.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, April 29, 2016

A New Cold War

For John, BLUF"Stay calm and carry on".  Nothing to see here; just move along.


Barrel Roll?

This is based on a Reuters report with reporting by David Alexander and Idrees Ali; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and James Dalgleish.

World | Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:47pm BST

A Russian Sukhoi Su-27 jet fighter did a barrel roll over [around?] a U.S. reconnaissance plane in international airspace, CNN said on Friday, citing two U.S. defence officials in the Baltic Sea region.

The U.S. Air Force RC-135 plane was flying a routine route in international airspace when it was intercepted by the Russian SU-27 fighter, the Pentagon said, in the latest in a series of similar incidents between the U.S. and Russian militaries.

The Russian fighter came within about 100 feet (30 meters) of the American plane as it performed the dangerous, high-speed maneuver, CNN reported, citing two U.S. defense officials in the Baltic Sea region.

First off, can we agree that while both aircraft were traveling at (relatively) high speed, the relative speed between the two aircraft was probably less than the speed of a car on Andover Street, here in Lowell, Mass?

Second, approaching within 100 feet is not like the Su-27 was flying wing tip formation off of the RC-135. Can there be untoward events?  Absolutely.  See this mid-air collision between an F-104 and one of two XB-70s, back in 1966.  Then there is the Chinese pilot who let his aircraft drift into a US Navy EP-3, with unfortunate results for the Chinese pilot.  You can watch the moments before the accident here.

Have we discussed the attitude of the Chinese recently?  Yes, here.

Aircrews have been doing this for decades.  I remember stories out of Keflavik, Iceland, about us intercepting Soviet BEAR Bombers penetrating the GIUK Gap and the guy in the bomber side scanner blister holding up the latest Playboy foldout, which the Soviet Washington, DC, Embassy had sent back by courier before the Boys in Blue in Iceland got their copies.  All good clean fun, except for the nudity part.

Here is a picture of a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon F2 from Number XI Squadron at RAF Coningsby escorting a Russian Bear-H aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean.

Sure, there is always the chance someone will do something stupid (either side), but our current reaction, it seems to me, if not tamping down anything, but is helping puff up President Putin's chest.  I worry that a new US President, after 20 January next, will over react, so as not to appear weak, and then we will have problems.

If I was the designated advisor I would advise we calm down.

Hat tip to the Fortuna's Corner.

Regards  —  Cliff

Go To Your Mass GOP Caucus Tomorrow

For John, BLUFWish you could join us.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the LRCC Blog we have Comments on the Massachusetts Third Congressional District (3CD) Republican Caucus.


Saturday, a Nine AM Show for a Ten AM Meeting.

Regards  —  Cliff

China CNX's Port Call by US Carrier

For John, BLUFThis is a problem and the Administration either steps up or we cede our rights.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"China Denies U.S. Carrier Hong Kong Visit Amid Maritime Tension"

From Bloomberg we have this report by Reporter Ting Shi

The Aircraft Carrier USS JOHN C STENNIS, which had been scheduled for a port call at Hong Kong, was disinvited Thursday.

China has denied a U.S. carrier strike group’s request for a port visit to Hong Kong next week amid escalating tensions in the adjacent South China Sea.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the U.S. Thursday of its decision to deny the USS John C. Stennis and its escort ships access to the former British colony, Darragh Paradiso, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, said by phone.  The ministry provided no explanation for the move, she said.

This is a clear signal from the Chinese Government that, from Beijing's perspective, the United States is not being sufficiently conciliatory just because it is not conducting Freedom of Navigation (FON) Operations directly off Chinese artificial islands in the South China Sea.  Put another way, it isn't enough that we don't conduct FON Operations, they expect us to concede that, just like Hawaii is part of the US, the South China Sea is part of China.

Recently the issue has been Scarborough Shoal, off the coast of the Philippines, as shown in this Wikipedia map:

From the Chinese perspective the United States has NO BUSINESS in the South China Sea, except to transit to other points.  That is to say, China expects the United States to provide suitable information (time of entry/exit, course/flight plan, etc.), and to refrain from all actions other than just passing through.

And since the United States will not accept this "proper, gracious" way of behaving in Chinese territory, China has no reason to invite the United States to spend some time in Hong Kong.

So why are we continuing to invite China to participate in international Naval Exercises, such as RIMPAC?

How does this play into President Obama's foreign policy, articulated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Pivot to Asia?

We are going to have to pick up our game.

The other option is to just cede to China the fact that the South China Sea is a Chinese lake, controlled by them, and the rights of other nations, such as the Philippines and Viet-nam, are to be ignored.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New US Ambassador to Mexico

For John, BLUFThings do get done.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The US Senate is about the making of a deal.  Here Politico reports on a Tinkers to Evers to Chance action that got our nominated Ambassador to Mexico approved by the US Senate.

That would be Ambassador Roberta Jacobson.  No "political appointee", she is a career diplomat.

Senators involved included Marco Rubio, Bob Corker and Ted Cruz.

Regards  —  Cliff

Former Speaker on Senator Cruz

For John, BLUFWell this is a strong position.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Fox News live just now, former House Speaker John Boehner described Senator Ted Cruz as Lucifer Incarnate.

UPDATE:  "Lucifer in the flesh".

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Gender Equality Question

For John, BLUFHold them to their own rules.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a question from Mr Jim Treacher.
Will women who identify as men still get paid less for working in the White House?
I am blaming Mr Saul Alinsky for this (#4).

Regards  —  Cliff

Cruz vs Trump

For John, BLUFThe Rush Limbaugh view.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At this time the Doctor of Democracy, Rush Limbaugh, is explaining how Senator Cruz began his run for President as "the outsider".  Senator Cruz was running against the Establishment on both sides of the aisle.  He was thinking he would be running against the likes of Governor Jeb Bush.

And then Mr Donald Trump entered the campaign.  Nobody expected that Mr Trump last past Thanksgiving.  Not even Senator Cruz, who was going for the same voters as Mr Trump—those who had been alienated from the Establishment.  For this purpose the Establishment was that collection of people who ran for office, promising change, but then never really followed through.

But, Senator Cruz, who is behind in the delegate count, is ahead of Mr Trump in knowing the arcane rules of the Party.  Thus he is out there picking up delegates in Caucus States and is out looking to elect Delegates in Primary States.

Elect Delegates?  Absolutely.

The Delegates, per the Republican Party Rules, are pledged for the first round of voting at the Convention.  If, according to the extant rules, Mr Trump gets 1237 Delegate Votes in the first round of voting at Cleveland, come July, then he is the nominee.  Done deal.

However, if Mr Trump doesn't win on the first round the delegates (except Florida) are unbound and can vote for whomsoever they want.  That means Senator Cruz or Governor Kasich, or with a rules change, Governor Jeb Bush or Senator Marco Rubio could be the nominee.

So, how does that apply to us?  This is why the Republican Caucuses will be important, including the Massachusetts Republican Caucuses this Saturday, 30 April.

If you are a Massachusetts Republican and have been since 10 February of this year, you should find your Caucus and go.  Once there, ask about what the candidates think they will do on the second ballot, or the third.  Then vote your conscience.

An important note.  The Caucus opens at 9:00 AM, for Registration, and at 10:00 the doors close for the Caucus itself.  Be there or be square.

Regards  —  Cliff

  If you just don't know about who you want the delegates to vote for, EMail me.
  If you don't show, don't whinge over the outcome.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The UK and the EU

For John, BLUFEven President Obama has weighed in on this important issue.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Samizdata we have this quote:
The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU has thrown many things into sharp relief.  It has made more visible the fraying of the Tory Party that has been brewing for a few decades now.  It has demonstrated that the politics of fear is everywhere, being peddled by both the Leave and Stay campaigns, and even being openly celebrated by one pro-EU columnist on the basis that ‘fear alone has a purity you can trust’.  But most strikingly, the referendum campaign has confirmed the death, or at least utter exhaustion, of a left that believes in democracy, in change, in people.  In throwing its weight behind the Stay campaign, having historically been suspicious of the EU, the left has completed its journey from demanding democracy to supporting technocracy.
– Brendan O’Neill
The quote puts its finger on something important.  That is, do we trust the messiness of democracy, or do we pine for the assurance that it is the best possible world under the guidance of our betters, the technocrats.  Technocrats running our world is what Brussels promises.  Brussels being the home of the European Union.

Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union?

Should the UK leave the EU free polls

Should the United States keep its nose out of this issue?

Should the US Butt Out free polls

Regards  —  Cliff

Soda Tax Differences

For John, BLUFThis isn't a deposit, but a tax.  If you are living on $30,000 a year this is a big deal.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Nation of Change, a Progressive publication, and Reporter Andrew Emett, we have the story of a difference between, a fight between, the Democratic Party candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clintona and Senator Bernie Sanders, over a tax on soft drinks.  The headline is "Sanders and Clinton Clash Over Soda Tax"

Here is the issue in a nutshell:

Despite the fact that Clinton pledged not to impose any new taxes on households earning under $250,000 a year, she recently broke her promise by supporting Philadelphia’s proposed soda tax.
Here is the lede plus one paragraph:
In response to Hillary Clinton’s recent endorsement to tax sugary drinks, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke out against the regressive tax on Friday, asking why low-income families should be forced to pay more while large corporations continue to hide trillions in offshore tax havens.  Although Sanders supports the mayor’s goal to pay for universal preschool in Philadelphia, he does not believe that the funds must be derived from a tax targeting impoverished people.

On Wednesday, Clinton announced that she is “very supportive” of a soda tax proposed by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney last month.  Under the proposed tax, a 12-pack of soda would cost an additional $4.32 despite the fact that it typically costs between $3 and $6 at the grocery store.  Besides soft drinks, the tax would also include juice drinks, sports drinks, and teas.

I think I am with Bernie on this one.

Regards  —  Cliff

Cruz and Kasich Together

For John, BLUFThe question is, can all these folks make nice after the Convention?  Nothing to see here; just move along.


"Cruz and Kasich team up to stop Trump"

From Politico and Reporters Katie Clutch and Kyle Cheney.  This reported was datelined at 10:21 PM on Sunday, updated at 11:09 PM. Here is the lede, plus some:
Ted Cruz and John Kasich have begun coordinating their campaign strategy to stop Donald Trump, an abrupt alliance announced Sunday night that includes Kasich quitting his efforts in Indiana and Cruz clearing a path for the Ohio governor in Oregon and New Mexico.

“To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico, and we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead,” Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said in a statement.

. . .

The new Cruz-Kasich pact is an acknowledgment that neither man can overtake Trump in the race, and both know their best shot at preventing Trump from clinching the nomination outright is to team up to block his path and force a contested convention.  And it may still be too late: Trump is closing in on the number of delegates he needs to win the nomination.

Loop for a Rob Eno posting on Facebook.

Hat tip to Drudge.

Regards  —  Cliff

An Aggrieved Reporter

For John, BLUFWe do need the debate.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Following on the theme of items from The [Lowell] Sun and "The Column", here is an item on Lowell Resident and Freelance Reporter Ted Siefer.  Mr Siefer is the chap who wrote the recent article in Commonwealth Magazine, "Why whites control Lowell city government".  The sub-headline is "Voting system concentrates power in heavily white Belvidere".  That would be "The Belvidere".

At any rate, here is the item from "The Column":

A RECENT piece by Commonwealth magazine painted Lowell as a city dominated by whites serving in elected office, on the police force and in school leadership positions.

Many of the issues have been debated before, including resistance toward a system in which city councilors would be elected to represent wards throughout the city instead of at-large, and that a neighborhood like Belvidere has an outsized influence in elections because its residents vote at a much greater a rate than other sections of the city.

But the piece, headlined "Why Whites Control Lowell city government," struck a chord with many in the city, who found that the Lowell resident who wrote the piece had not voted in the past two city elections. It struck some, particularly those who didn't like the piece, as hypocritical.

Reporter Ted Siefer didn't vote in last year's city preliminary or general elections, nor in the two city votes in 2013, according to the Lowell elections office. Siefer voted in most state elections since he became an enrolled voter in Lowell in 2012.

Siefer, a freelance reporter, responded:  "What kind of newspaper, when approached by government officials who use their access to records to disclose personal information about a journalist who wrote a story they didn't like, regards that not as creepy, but as a legitimate journalistic pursuit and even helps the officials in their transparent attempt at retaliation?  My personal political behavior have (sic) ABSOLUTELY NO RELEVANCE to what I report on, as should be the case for every journalist."

I will talk about the article in a subsequent post, but for now I would like to address Mr Siefer's assertion that The [Lowell] Sun had to use access to "government officials".  There are records open to all, the voting rolls, which those of us with an interest buy from the Election Commission for some nominal sum ($20 I think, per Disk of data).  So, I went to my "Politics" folder on my MacBook Pro and opened the voter roles Excel file and found Mr Siefer, whose middle initial is B.  He is married and a Registered Democrat.  And, his State Rep is David Nangle.  What can I say?  It is out there.

And, yes, one's personal political behavior can have relevance in the reporting of an article.  Remember the New York Times Reporter, Mr Walter Duranty?  Didn't he pass up a genocide because his politics favored the powers that be?  The normal assumption is that personal political behavior has no relevance, but in this case that remains to be proven.  It is possible that Mr Siefer's politics are a lens through which he views Lowell.

By the by, the Siefer article is being hotly debated on Facebook, at "Lowell Liver Feed".  Amongst others, Jenn Myers posted the item (73 Comments).

And, there is some hope that LTC, the Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, will air a panel discussion on the magazine article.

Regards  —  Cliff

  One hopes that Mr Siefer meant Caucasian and had his copy changed by some clueless editor.
  That figures.  He writes like a Democrat who thinks that all politics is based on identity, rather than on ideology.  That is to say, they vote based upon race, ethnicity, etc, rather than on economic view or place of the Bill of Rights or other ideological factor.
  The line from the TV Show Jesse Stone is "the information is out there.  All you have to do is let it in." (Suitcase)

Very Important Caucuses in Massachusetts 30 April

For John, BLUFJust for signed up Party People.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Republican State Committee Caucus may be shaping up into an interesting meeting, if "The Column" from yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun is to be believed.  While this article is more about the Sixth Congressional District than the Third, it is packed with good info.  I quote in full from page 8:
DONALD TRUMP smashed all other Republicans in the commonwealth's GOP primary last month, but don't be surprised if Trump gets the short end of the stick when Republicans from the state's nine congressional districts -- including the 3rd and 6th -- caucus Saturday to elect delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in mid-July.

The caucuses will elect 27 delegates, three from each district.  The 3rd District caucus will be held at Groton Dunstable Regional High School beginning at 10 a.m.  Meanwhile, 6th Congressional District Republicans will caucus, also at 10, at the Elks Lodge in Wakefield.

MassGOP Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes said in a statement that delegates will be bound by the results of the March 1 primary.

Marc Lombardo, a state representative from Billerica and one of the region's few Republican legislators, said Ted Cruz's campaign has been aggressively courting Republicans for their support at the convention if Trump doesn't win the nomination on the first ballot.

"It appears from a distance the Cruz campaign is very organized in Massachusetts going into the caucuses," Lombardo said, adding that Cruz's campaign "is certainly hoping for a second ballot.  With a second ballot, all bets are off."

For a first-ballot win at the convention, 1,237 delegate votes are required.  After the New York primary last week, Trump has 844, compared to 543 for Cruz.

Billerica, along with the Greater Lowell communities of Bedford, Burlington, Tewksbury and Wilmington, are in the 6th Congressional District caucus.  Lombardo plans to attend the Wakefield caucus, but will not be a candidate for convention delegate.

Lombardo declined to say who he's supporting for president, except to say:  "I will support whomever the nominee is to take on Hillary Clinton."

Regards  —  Cliff

  And I believe.
  You have to be present to vote, and present before 10:00 AM on Saturday the 30th of April.  the Republican 3rd CD Caucus is in Groton.  If you were a registered Republican on 10 February you can participate in the Caucus.  Please come and bring your friends, neighbors, relatives and others.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Statistics, Explained

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

If you torture data long enough, it will confess to anything you'd like.
R H Coase, British Economist
From a friend of mine down in Newport, RI.

Regards  —  Cliff

Piston Packing Mama

For John, BLUFBack before permit to carry was popular.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Harriet Tubman Is a Great Choice, Not a Politically Correct One".

From National Review and Mr Jim Geraghty.  Go to the link to see one proposed version of the Double Sawbuck, with Ms Harriet Tubman.

I do think those snarky folks who suggest that because Ms Tubman was a slave, who escaped, and who fought slavery, she might object to being on the money of this Capitalist nation, are flat out wrong.  Ms Tubman borrowed money and used it to do things that provided work, like building a house and building a church.  I think she was happy enough with our economic system.  After all, other options weren't so good.  Like the Ottoman Empire.  Or the Feudalism of certain Western Hemisphere nations.

And, The Donald is wrong on this one.  It is not a politically correct choice.  It is the best choice of all the choices.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  With a head nod to song writer Al Dexter.

Harriet Tubman Received Brain Surgery

For John, BLUFEvery day seems to reveal more of what she experienced and saw.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday, Law Professor Ann Althouse said "I'd like to hear Ben Carson talk about Harriet Tubman's brain surgery."
I wonder how sophisticated the surgery could have been in the late 1890s.  Here we have this wonderful brain surgeon, Ben Carson, on a show to talk about Harriet Tubman, and there was a fascinating subject squarely within his expertise.  I would have loved to hear what he might have said about the history of brain surgery!
She did go to Massachusetts General Hospital, and without anesthesia, "chose instead to bite down on a bullet, as she had seen Civil War soldiers do when their limbs were amputated."

Tough woman.  And the surgery seems to have helped her deal with the lingering effects of a head injury received when she was a slave.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Campaign to Save Alexander Hamilton

For John, BLUFYes, many changes in Government involve a number of groups working the problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The New Yorker, and Reporter Vauhini Vara, we have another look at how Ms Harriet Tubman made it to Twenty, "The Women on 20s Campaign Celebrates the Harriet Tubman $20".  And, something I had missed earlier, not only will the Twenty and Ten be updated, but also the Five.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Yorker and the Campaign

For John, BLUFRemember one of their reporters famously exclaimed that she didn't know how Nixon got elected, since no one she knew voted for him.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This New Yorker cartoon has Moses in the doorway, declaiming to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh and his guards not looking any too happy.  In the background, outside, you can see a pyramid.
Blood, frogs, lice, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, death of the first born, and an American-style election campaign.
Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Plastic Bag Attacks British Airways Jet

For John, BLUFKeep on droning.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"'Drone' that hit British Airways jet was likely a plastic bag".

Here is the sub-headline:

British transport minister says fear of drone was "overreaction."
The source is Ars Technica and the reporter is Mr Sean Gallagher.

I worry that over reaction will kill the golden goose of technology.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The President Shouldn't Go to Hiroshima

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

From the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) we have PacNet #38 - "Not this time, Mr. President".

The author is Mr Kim Jin-Hyun, chairman of the World Peace Forum, a member of the Pacific Forum CSIS Board of Governors, and a former Republic of Korea minister of science and technology.  This article was originally published in the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Here is how the article begins:

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio and US Secretary of State John Kerry co-orchestrated the Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministerial talks in Hiroshima, Kishida's hometown.  Kerry stressed the importance of the international cooperation pushed by the Obama administration in a press conference.  "Everyone should visit Hiroshima, and 'everyone' means everyone," he added.  "So I hope one day, the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here."  It was overt encouragement to Obama, who will visit Ise Shima on May 26 for the G-7 summit.

"We emphasize the importance of our meeting in Hiroshima 71 years after World War II, which unleashed unprecedented horror upon the world.  The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced immense devastation and human suffering as a consequence of the atomic bombings and have rebuilt their cities so impressively," the Hiroshima Declaration adopted at the G-7 Foreign Ministerial talks said.

About 210,000 people were killed by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and 400,000 suffered from radiation exposure. Of the victims, about 30,000 of the dead were Koreans and another 40,000 were estimated to have suffered from radiation exposure.  Sixty-six years later, the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in March 2011 produced yet another calamity.

Japan is in a unique position for having become the true test bed of the modern power of nuclear energy.

Then Mr Kim looks, through the eyes of former US SecDef William Perry, at how Japan views this issue.
Former US Defense Secretary William Perry visited Hiroshima twice.  Writing in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun on Dec. 31, 2010, he recalled that he felt a sense of incompatibility when he saw the displays of atomic bombs in Hiroshima because there were many documents and photos conveying the devastation, but there was not a single mention of why the tragedy took place.  He wrote that he found no reflection in Hiroshima on why Japan experienced the tragedy of the atomic bombings, and this gave him great concern.  Despite its nuclear calamity, rightists of the country, from Nakasone Yasuhiro to Abe Shinzo, consistently promoted a nuclear-armed Japan since the 1950s.
That view comes out with Japan doing the "poor me" thing and not manning up to accept its responsibilities for a terrible war, which it helped trigged when it invaded China back in July of 1937.  And, there was the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-94), which involved the conquest of Korea by Japan.

Then we get the broad gauge view, the idea that Japan needs to do some visiting of its own.  Hiroshima should be the climax, not the beginning.

Obama must consider visiting Hiroshima after Japanese leaders, including Nakasone and the current prime minister and vice prime minster, withdraw their remarks, and after questioning Japan about its true intentions regarding its contradictory nuclear weapons policy.  Only when a Japanese prime minister visits the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall of China and the Independence Hall of Korea and promotes "peace of justice," and only when a US president visits the War Memorial in Hanoi, can the commander-in-chief of the US military visit Hiroshima.  Now is not the time.

Obama's visit to Hiroshima in 2016, if realized, would reflect realpolitik toward China and the two Koreas, but it won't reflect the desire for universal peace by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, not as long as Japan's contradictory nuclear policy continues.  If Obama visits Hiroshima after his term and explains the challenges of our civilization to his two daughters, then it will be a compelling move to promote denuclearization and peace.

But, then, I wasn't asked.  But, like a typical American, I have opinion, and it aligns with Mr Kim.  Now is not the time to go.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Yorker Laughs At Trump

For John, BLUFHumor is everywhere.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The 25 April 2016 issue of The New Yorker, like all issues, if filled with great cartoons.  However, this issue may be unique.

After starting out with a blurb by Ms Jelani Cobb, about how no one can figure why Working Class folks keep voting against their interests and go Republican, we find, slowly, that except for the Caption Contest on Page 104, all the cartoons are about Candidate Donald Trump.

One of the best is a sketch of the Swearing in Ceremony, with Mr Trump saying "…and will to the best of my ability, which is terrific ability, by the way.  Everyone agrees, I have fantastic ability.  Somthere's no problem with my ability, believe me…."  And Ivanka and John Roberts are looking on.  A great cartoon.

Just more free publicity.  Today, in Facebook, was a different cartoon from The New Yorker, one with Moses listing the plagues to Pharoah, ending with "…and an American Presidential Election."

Regards  —  Cliff

  What that really says is that people like Ms Cobb haven't yet figured out that Bernie aside, the Democrats are in the pocket of Wall Street.  Not the grass roots Progressives, but the Democrats.  People like Ms Clinton.
  I wonder if this has ever happened before, in the history of The New Yorker?

A Moment of Truth Proposed

For John, BLUFA moment of truth telling.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Ace of Spades Hq takes a whack at Candidate Donald Trump.  Actually several.  But the headline is as true a line as has ever been drawn.

Donald Trump:  My Position On Transgendered Bathrooms Is as Complex as Nuanced as My Position On Abortion and I Could Not Possibly Explain My Philosophical Position On Them In One Statement.

And that is the problem with "sound bite" politics.

Things in life are complex.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  OK, I agree things were a lot less complicated before the Jesuits started explaining things, but still, today is complicated.

Curt Schilling Says...

For John, BLUFCan we have some privacy here?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mr David French, writing in National Review, talks to "Curt Schilling and ESPN’s Hypocrisy".

I think the bathroom side of various "bathroom bills" is overblown.  At the same time, I think firing someone for expressing an opinion on the issue is also overblown.  Here is the lede paragraph plus part of the next:

Curt Schilling tells blunt and uncomfortable truths, so there is no place for him in progressive corporate America. Last summer, ESPN suspended him for a personal Facebook post that rightly compared Muslim extremists to Nazis and rightly noted that even a minority of extremists can cause catastrophic conflict. But in the world of progressive corporate politics, the truth is “Islamophobic” and must be punished.

Yesterday, ESPN fired Schilling. His offense? Posting a crude meme on his personal Facebook page that took direct aim at allowing men access to women’s restrooms.

Read what he said at the link.  And read the Writer's comments, which, basically, suggest that ESPN is going to crater because they (1) have a lousy business model and (2) don't know their audience.

As for the bathroom issue, as bathroom, it appears to be a non-issue.  Unless you know that Sally, walking into the lady's room used to be Samuel, and Sally isn't up to political theater or being a peeping tom, it doesn't make any difference to you because you don't know the difference.  The peeping tom thing can be dealt with by calling the police, assuming your local district attorney plays it straight, legally speaking.  There is nothing we can do about the political theater thing, except to individually walk away in disgust.

Communal showers are another issue.  I think the privacy and dignity of all the people in the shower should be considered and to force a different view on those who are concerned is tyranny.  On the other hand, if you look like a female, we should treat you as a female.  If you are "in transition" (physically) then schools and other institutions with communal showers should be making special arrangements.  It is like women (men) in men's (women's) locker rooms after a game.  Locker room might be OK, but please not the shower.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, April 22, 2016

Supremes To Look at Immigration

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

The Administration's interpretation of our immigration laws is going to the US Supreme Court.  Here is a view of the case from Mr Ian Millhiser and the Progressive publication Think Progress.  The article is "Everything You Need To Know About The Supreme Court Challenge To Obama’s Immigration Policies." It is one view of the case.

While we are waiting for the Justices to rule, if they rule, let us consider how Mexico deals with illegal immigrants.  Prior to 2011, pretty harshly.  With new legislation there is a fine, equivalent to 100 days wages at minimum wage.  I wonder if we are fining folks?

At any rate, for going to Mexico, it isn't like the 1830s, when you had to become Roman Catholic and swear against slave holding.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, April 21, 2016

E Warren for VIP?

For John, BLUFAssuming Ms Clinton gets the nod.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From MASSterList we have this comment on the trial balloon in today's edition of The Boston Globe
Liz Warren is not going to be Hillary’s VP choice

There.  We said it.  But just in case we weren’t clear: Liz Warren won’t be Hillary Clinton’s VP choice, speculation in the Globe to the contrary.  Clinton may be a bad campaigner, but she’s not dumb.  General elections are about winning the political center.  Clinton knows this.  She also knows that excitement over the prospect of a female winning the White House will galvanize her left-wing like no other issue this fall.  The vast majority of Bernie Sanders’ supporters will come around by late summer or early autumn. They will smell victory and know history is in the making.  Clinton needs to shore up the center, not the left wing and female vote.  She doesn’t need Liz Warren as a running mate.  Because we assume Clinton understands all of this, we assume Liz Warren won’t be Hillary’s VP choice.

Here is the article from The Boston Globe.

Regards  —  Cliff

Harriet Tubman

For John, BLUFOur money is a good canvas upon which to paint our history.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Post and Reporters Ana Swanson and Abby Ohlheiser, we have the 20 April announcement from the Department of the Treasury, "Harriet Tubman to appear on $20 bill, while Alexander Hamilton remains on $10 bill".

Here is the lede plus one.

Black abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman will appear on the front of the $20 bill, relocating the slaveholding former president Andrew Jackson to its rear, and founding father Alexander Hamilton will remain on the face of the $10 bill.

The changes were announced Wednesday by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as part of a historic overhaul of U.S. currency aimed at addressing America’s legacy of slavery and gender inequality.  They came after a viral online campaign to feature a woman on the currency and, later, a push to preserve Hamilton’s place by historians and fans of the hit Broadway musical bearing his name.

I like the change.  Not everyone does.  That said, I liked the suggestion by TV Host Greta van Susteren.  Her suggestion was for the Treasury Department to issue a new $25 bill, which Ms van Susteren says we could use, and put Ms Tubman on that new bill.  Think of it as a quarter C-Note.

As for Sending President Andrew Jackson to the back of the Double Sawbuck, I think that is just dumb.  If we are removing him, we should totally remove him, or go with the solution above.

In the mean time, in another part of The Washington Post Mr Dan Lamothe tells us "Harriet Tubman was more than an Underground Railroad icon.  She was a Civil War spy."

Again, the lede plus one.

Midway through the Civil War, Harriet Tubman made a gutsy decision:  She'd serve the Union Army on a raid up South Carolina's Combahee River, providing intelligence to commanders in person that she had gathered about the location of Confederate mines and other threats.

The June 2, 1863, military operation is an often overlooked detail about the life of Tubman, an abolitionist who is best known for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad that freed tens of thousands of slaves from America's South during the 1800s.  But with the Treasury Department set to announce Wednesday that Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, it's noteworthy that her legacy extends beyond her extensive contributions to the abolition movement and into her work as a Union spy who oversaw a Special Operations unit of sorts, according to numerous accounts, including one by the U.S. Army.

Can I, at this point, say "You go girl"?

And I like the idea that we replaced a Democrat with a Republican on the Twenty.  A gun totting Republican.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fighting the Klan

For John, BLUFFew of our leaders and heroes look good in historic perspective, which is why buildings should not be named for living persons.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"This Day in History… Republicans Pass Anti-KKK Act – Outlawing Democratic Terrorist Groups"

From Mr Jim Hoft and Gateway Pundit.

On September 28, 1868, a mob of Democrats massacred nearly 300 African-American Republicans in Opelousas, Louisiana.  The savagery began when racist Democrats attacked a newspaper editor, a white Republican and schoolteacher for ex-slaves.  Several African-Americans rushed to the assistance of their friend, and in response, Democrats went on a “Negro hunt,” killing every African-American (all of whom were Republicans) in the area they could find. (Via Grand Old Partisan)

On April 20, 1871 the Republicans passed the anti-Ku Klux Klan Act outlawing Democratic terrorist groups.

There is more at the Gateway Pundit article.

Does this item link, in some way, to other acts of history exhumation, for example, showing that President Washington owned slaves and President Jefferson exploited his position to have sex with at least one slave?

Or should www move on, knowing that the last known Klan member left the US Senate in 2010?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Published two years ago.
  Senator Robert Carlyle Byrd; died in office.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Past As A Dark Age

For John, BLUFOdds of understanding the past are going down.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mr Ed Driscoll, writing at the InstaPundit, give us:

Whig history, and the variation of it that I was taught in school, in which all of history led to the glories of FDR, JFK, and midcentury liberalism was built around the notion that people in past centuries were far from perfect, but we need to study them carefully to understand how all of history led to today’s Wondrous Age.  Black Armband History, as it was dubbed in 1993 by Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey to differentiate it from the Whiggish “Three Cheers” schools of history, implies that the essence of history is racism, colonialism, imperialism, and oppression in general.  The people made famous by history are by their very nature nasty old evil racist oppressors and can be safely airbrushed out of history entirely, with the exception of a few flawed but benighted revolutionary souls such as Marx, Che and Castro.

You can’t “Start From Zero,” as Tom Wolfe would say, until the great PC cleanup is complete – at which point, 2+2 can equal five should the state wish it to be so, and “a 5’10″ white man can tell you he’s a 6’5″ Chinese girl,” as Ace writes, “and you are required to believe him because each person constructs his own quantum reality moment by moment, it’s no difficult thing to also accept that killing the kulaks and putting the farms under inefficient state rule will result in a greater grain harvest.”

I see the point, since, my Aunt Edra notwithstanding, I have thought of myself as a Black Japanese Jew for decades.

Can't we learn and then move on?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Somewhere back there I had a Grandmother or Great-Grandmother who was a foundling, or so my Father told me.  Think how freeing that is.

Post 20 January

For John, BLUFMost Presidents leave town after there term(s).  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Obamas Won't Leave Washington After Presidency".

From Correspondent John Gizzi, and Newsmax.

The lede plus one:

In a move that is unusual and almost unique for a former first family, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle intend to stay in Washington D.C., after he leaves office next January.

At the regular briefing for White House reporters last Thursday, press secretary Josh Earnest told Newsmax that the president "has indicated in the last couple of months that he and the First Lady intend to remain in Washington while their youngest daughter [Sasha] completes high school."

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pick your Prejudice

For John, BLUFWhy did North Carolina stir this up?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Mr Ed Driscoll, at the InstaPundit blog this morning:
TOLERANCE TURNED ON ITS HEAD:  “Then the execrable Michael Moore said he would ask his film distributor not to burden North Carolina with his latest celluloid incoherence.  ‘I have asked my distributor not to book my film in any theater in North Carolina due 2 their bigoted law against LGBTQ ppl — they have agreed,’ the C-list left picador tweeted.  Who knew it would be so easy?  Had the good burghers of North Carolina known they could avoid noise against the inoffensive night at a Greensboro concert site, and be free of some of the worst movies in the history of the world statewide, they would have made traditional bathroom etiquette a matter of law long ago.”
Here is the thing about this.  It makes a mockery of some traditional Progressive shibboleths. Frankly, I don't much care about the bathroom issue. In the Ladies Room, so I am told, it is all stalls.  So, who is seeing anything?  Yes, little girls allowed to go there themselves, like they were big girls, risk someone hiding inside with bad intentions.  But, doesn't that exist today?

Now, going to the Mens Room, of which I have some experience.  It is my supposition that women can't use urinals, so they would use a stall, which means their business is done in private.  So, unless you read the InstaPundit and weekly read about school teachers molesting little boys, you can feel your little ones are fairly safe in the Mens Room, at least from women or women transitioning to men.

Let us take the Transgender Jenner.  If he dresses like a man and has a man's haircut, who would not agree him going into a Mens Room?  On the other hand, if Mx Jenner goes all Kaitlan on us and dresses like a woman and has hair done like a woman, who would care that she goes into the Ladies Room?

This issue seem like a lot of nothing, unless there is some hidden agenda and a desire to stir controversy.

On the other hand, common shower facilities are another matter.  I can remember reading, a few years back, about girls not wanting to use common showers and wearing a shift in the shower.  People (some people) like their privacy.  Why deny them?  But, the answer would be either transgender showers or shower like you are currently plumbed.  Am I wrong here?

But, there is the question of boycotts.  Gay couples feel free to boycott cake shops that shun them for their orientation and celebration thereof.  They also like to then shame such small shops.  But, now we have firms, as persons, shunning North Carolina over moral issues.  It must be a moral issue, since in terms of straight revenues they should be going to North Carolina.  And natural people, like Mr Michael Moore are shunning North Carolina.

So the "peace and can't we all get along" crowd can't.

And they like corporations, weighing in, as "People.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  We won't be having any comments about Mr Moore not being a natural person. He is twice the person you are, or most of you are.

Who Is In Charge of Immigration Rules?

For John, BLUFThis big confrontations in DC are not good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Writing in USA Today, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gives us "Supreme Court must rebuke Obama's self-coronation:  Texas AG".

The sub-headline is "When one man can rewrite the law, that's the definition of tyranny."

So here is the lede:

The president of the United States of America has declared that unlawful conduct is lawful.

It sounds unbelievable when you say it out loud, doesn’t it? The president, the person we trust to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, has declared illegal conduct to be legal?

But in 2014, President Obama did just that. He declared that four million unlawfully-present immigrants were now lawfully-present. How? Because he says so.

Unfortunately for the president, the Constitution does not let him do that. And on April 18, Texas will lead a coalition of 26 states before the United States Supreme Court to stop President Obama’s illegal immigration policy.

Let us move beyond the indictment and focus on the issue.  The President shouldn't rewrite the laws.  His job is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."  The job of writing (and rewriting) the immigration laws falls to the US Congress.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  OK, it is Texas, so Attorney General Paxon is under indictment for securities fraud.  That said, I did not hear of him being part of the Panama Papers.

What If No-one Wins in November?

For John, BLUFThis is a great year for politics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is my offering, at The [Lowell] Sun yesterday, "PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS:  What if no one wins enough delegates?". That would be Electoral Votes, but I am not quibbling, since I expect a lot of folks would immediately pivot to Electoral Votes in their minds.  Our system of electing Presidents is pretty arcane.  But, it serves our purposes, as it diffuses responsibility amongst a number of parties and a bad outcome can be smoothed by sharing the blame amongst a number of institutions.

In sum, you need 270 Electoral College Votes to be elected President.  If one or both of the main political parties fractures, it is just possible that no one will bet 270 Electoral College Votes and the election of the President will be thrown into the US House of Representatives, where each state gets one (1) vote.

How does that work?  Take the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an example and, since it is a new House, sworn in at the beginning of the year, let us assume that we finally have one Republican and eight Democrats.  And further, let us assume that the Republicans get their act together and pick Governor Nikki Haley and the Democrats fracture and both Senator Sanders and former Secretary of State Clinton run.

Given the eight-one split, you might have the Massachusetts delegation deadlocked four for Sanders and four for Clinton and one for Haley.  Remember, what happened in November only counts in terms of limiting the field of eligible candidates to the top three vote getters.  Massachusetts could have gone for Willy Wonka and it wouldn't matter.  The Representatives are free to use their own judgement.

Will deals be offered?  You betcha!

Regards  —  Cliff

  Just a cheap plug for another Fighter Pilot.

Best Sunday OpEd

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

Writing in Sunday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun, Immigration Rights Lawyer Marisa DeFranco lays out her view on immigrants to America, under the headline "Turn back the barbarians at our gates".

This is not about all immigrants, nor is it about all Muslim immigrants, but it is about the idea that immigrants should be able to dictate to the rest of us how we behave.  It is about our leaders not recognizing that there are cultural patterns that should not be acceptable in the United States.

Asking "How do our leaders get it so wrong?", Ms DeFranco ends her OpEd this way:

The fact that ISIS and al Qaeda dress their cause up in religion matters little to the end game, except in one dangerous way:  It lures our leaders to do exactly what those on the left are doing -- hurling insults against those of us who want to protect America as an existing sovereign nation and an ideal.

As a sovereign nation, our laws dictate against murder and mayhem in the name of religion, not the other way around.

This is what I know about American culture, Mr. Multicultural.  If you want to live in a place where all things such as terrorism, child brides, sex-trafficking, female genital mutilation, sex-selective abortions, rampant anti-Semitism and beheadings of dissenters are respected practices, you have lots of countries from which to choose.

But we will not let America morph into such a place. E pluribus unum isn't just some jargon on our coins. It actually means something:  out of many, one.  One unified culture that respects life, liberty, and the freedom of and from religion.

The barbarians will never be able to change what America stands for.


And remember, this is a woman, a lawyer, who is fighting for the rights of immigrants.  But a person who knows how to make distinctions and draw lines.  And speak frankly.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Saying What You Mean

For John, BLUFPlain speaking is good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is the on-line publication Tom Dispatch, with an article by Retired Air Force Lt Col William Astore, "Tomgram: William Astore, Words About War Matter".

The article starts out like this.  It has a snarky tone, but it is mostly correct.

At the moment, there are a maximum of 3,870 U.S. military personnel (or 7,740 actual boots on the ground) in Iraq supporting the war against the Islamic State. That’s the “official cap” imposed by the Obama administration, because everyone knows that the president and his top officials are eager to end American wars in the Middle East, not expand them. Of course, that number doesn’t include the other 1,130 American military types (or 2,260 boots) -- give or take we don’t know how many -- who just happen to be there on what’s called... er, um... “temporary deployments,” or are the result of overlap from rotating deployments, but add up to perhaps 5,000 trainers and advisers, or maybe, for all we know, more, including 200 Special Operations forces whose numbers are officially acknowledged by no one but mentioned in press reports. And naturally that 5,000 figure doesn’t include the American private contractors also flowing into Iraq in growing numbers to support the U.S. military because everyone knows that they aren’t either troops or boots on the ground and so don’t get counted. Those are the rules.

Do keep in mind that this time around the whole American on-the-ground operation couldn’t be more limited. Though the numbers of U.S. trainers, advisers, and Special Ops types continue to creep up, they are, at least, helping the Iraqi military reconstitute itself on Iraqi bases. In other words, this round of Washington's Iraq wars bears no relation to the last one (2003-2011), when the Pentagon had its private contractors build hundreds of U.S. bases, ranging in size from American towns to tiny combat outposts. This time, the U.S. military has no bases of its own, not a single one... er, um... at least it didn’t until recently when an American Marine, a specialist in firing field artillery, died in an Islamic State rocket attack on what turned out to be an all-American Marine outpost, Fire Base Bell, in the northern part of the country. The artillery operations he was involved in supporting the Iraqi army in its (stalled) drive on the country’s second largest city, Mosul, are not, however, “combat operations” because it's well established that no American troops, Special Ops units possibly excepted, are in combat in that country (or Syria). In fact, U.S. officials point out that artillery doesn’t really count as combat. It’s more like U.S. air operations against the Islamic State except... er, um... it takes place on the ground.

Language is important and to the degree we distort the language, to that degree do we deceive ourselves as to what is going on around us.  I touched on this in a recent post.

There is one place that the author seems to go off the rails.  This is when he pointed out that we spend billions on weapons system that may or may not be appropriate to the guerre du jour, and then pointed out the cost effectiveness of "the 9/11 attacks on American soil were estimated to have cost Osama bin Laden at most a half-million dollars.”

Is Lt Col Astore advocating we go back to using dumb bombs and just laying waste to various Arab/Muslim cultural buildups, including towns and cities?  I would hope not.  Our kind of warfighting does cost more because (1) we do it over there and (2) we actually try to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants, even if we fail a lot.  We try.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Look at President Obama's Foreign Policy Execution

For John, BLUFThe bureaucracy is a powerful thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

By Opinion writer David Ignatius, we have, in The Washington Post, "Bob Gates unpacks Obama’s foreign policy, and offers advice to the next president".  Bob Gates would be former CIA Director and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Here is the meat of the article:

"The way things get done communicates reluctance to assert American power," Gates explained in an interview Wednesday.  "They often end up in the right place, but a day late and a dollar short.  The decisions are made seriatim.  It presents an image that he's being dragged kicking and screaming to each new stage, and it dilutes the implementation of what he's done."

Gates criticized the current National Security Council's implementation of policy, arguing that "micromanagement" by a very large NSC staff undercut Obama's efforts to use power against the Islamic State and contain China in the South China Sea.  "It becomes so incremental that the message is lost.  It makes them look reluctant," he said.

Gates's criticism of the NSC is noteworthy because he served as deputy to national security adviser Brent Scowcroft in President George H.W. Bush's NSC, which Obama has cited as a model for how policy should be managed.  By that standard, Gates implied, the current NSC team, led by Susan Rice, needs to lift its game.

In our Nation's Capitol, it is not the big Executive Departments, like State and Defense, that determine the course of the ship of state.  It is the National Security Council.

The passages quoted remind me of a quote attributed to President Harry S Truman, about Dwight David Eisenhower assuming the Presidency:

“He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, ‘Do this!  Do that!’  And nothing will happen.  Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the Army.  He’ll find it very frustrating.”
I am sure the same applies to President Obama.  Being President isn't easy.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Also the author of Duty:  Memoirs of a Secretary at War.

Advocates for Censorship

For John, BLUFAfter "fixing" the Internet they will come after Local Access TV.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Writing at the Instapundit blog, Author Ed Driscoll gives us:
WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH:  “Perhaps the worst thing about the new war on the internet is how Orwellian it is.  The main argument made by the Guardian and other anti-troll warriors, and echoed by Maria Miller, is that if we allow people to spout whatever they want, then this will scare other people off the web, meaning, in Miller’s words, that foul online commentary can ‘actually stifle debate, lead to censorship’.  So having unfettered free speech gives rise to censorship.  And we need new laws that clamp down on abusive commentary in order to facilitate greater free speech.  The slipperiness is astonishing.  In their twisted world, free speech is censorship, and censorship is free speech.”
One wonders if The [Manchester] Guardian hasn't been spooked by the Democratization of the Internet.  That is to say, the fact that the lower classes now have access to computers and to the Internet itself.  Heaven forfend.  The riffraff have learned to use a keyboard.

I am thinking perhaps our betters at The Guardian have become slightly deranged by a combination of the Trumpists and the Brexit types, following London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From the George Orwell novel 1984

Friday, April 15, 2016

Learning to Trust the Legal System

For John, BLUFAs we see here in Lowell, it is sometimes hard for immigrants to build trust for the agents of Government, especially the police and courts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for his comments about illegal immigrants from Mexico.  Yes, Mr Trump painted with a broad brush, and he shouldn't have.

However, Mr Trump opened a door to some fundamental issues, a door the Democrats tried to slam shut.  That door is what about where these illegal immigrants are from?  Someone coming to the United States, from Mexico, or further south, does not come with instant American values, with an American sense of, belief in, justice.  They have only a small fraction of the trust Americans have in the police and the courts.  How does that play out over the years?  How do we visualize them?

  • Are they worthy citizens who are economic immigrants, looking for a better opportunity?
  • Are they frightened citizens escaping the dangers of a culture where the rich and connected exploit the less fortunate?
  • Are they the rich and connected?
I am guessing they are not the rich and connected, who can get visas and come in the regular way.  As for the other groups, there is a good chance they have been living in dysfunctional communities and wish to escape.  As we think about it, we should wonder about what cultural patterns they are bringing with them.  Are their ways of coping such that they cannot easily slide into an American way of life outside the shadows of an illegal immigrant culture.

A look at the disfunction in Mexico today is provided by Mr León Krauze and The New Yorker, in an article headlined "Los Porkys:  The Sexual-Assault Case That’s Shaking Mexico".

Here is the lede plus one:

For several centuries, the port city of Veracruz, located in the Mexican state of the same name, was known for its carnival.  Now, though, it’s known for corruption and terror.  The state has become territory for the fearsome Zeta drug cartel.  According to a study by Mexico’s bureau of statistics, eight out of ten people in the state say they live in fear.  At least fifteen journalists have been killed in Veracruz since 2011. During the same period, hundreds of other people have vanished.  Father Alejandro Solalinde, one of Mexico’s leading human-rights advocates, has called Veracruz “a factory of forced disappearances.”  To many citizens, there is little difference between the rich and the government, and between the government and the criminals.

In this climate, most people don’t come forward when crimes are committed.  In fact, in 2014, only one in ten was reported to local authorities, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, also known as INEGI, after its Spanish-language acronym.  But in recent weeks, a man named Javier Fernández, whose daughter Daphne Fernández has accused a group of well-to-do young men of sexually assaulting her, seems to have sparked a mini revolt against the status quo.  (Her name has been published in numerous Mexican media outlets and she gave us permission to use it here.)  In seeking vengeance and denouncing the authorities for their handling of the case, Fernández has turned the story into a national outrage.

So, Veracruz, on the Mexican shore of the Gulf of Mexico, sounds more Medieval than Modern, in terms of justice for all.

The question for those advocating more open immigration and for the legalization of illegal immigrants, is how they see the US assimilating such immigrants into our culture, our sense of justice for all and our police and justice systems.  In asking this I am not saying that we systems are perfect or even near perfect.  What I am saying is that the qualitative difference may be such that those new to the nation can't accept it.  How do we help those people function as Americans, in an American system, rather than as Mexicans, thinking they are still operating in a Mexican system.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Which is, I believe, an insult to the American police and legal systems.

Boycotts and More

For John, BLUFOf course the big corporations are doing it because they think in that direction is the money.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mr Ed Driscoll, writing at the Instapundit asks the reverse morality question, linking to this blog post at This Ain't Hell, "What gay-crusading corporations in North Carolina don’t get".

Before we start out, I believe those who will not bake cakes for homosexual wedding celebrations are failing to show mercy.  They are wrong, although I believe they are standing on their principles.  On the other hand, to paraphrase Groucho Marxs, why would a couple want a wedding cake from a small business that doesn't want to bake one for them.

So, here is the lede:

If you’re tired, like me, of being bulldozed by political correctness, especially when it applies to gays and the transgendered, then you just have to cheer for North Carolina Governor, Pat McCrory, for standing up to the corporate extortion against his state for passing commonsense legislation to deal with the issue of who can use what bathrooms.  Unlike Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal, who caved in to the out-of-state pressure and betrayed his constituents, McCrory showed some spine and nicely told all the corporate extortionists where they could stick their threats of jobs and tax losses.
Is this just a case of my morality is better than your morality?  Here is how the original blog post ends:
Here’s my conundrum:  if it is immoral, even criminal or civilly liable for these mom-and-pop Christian businesses to deny services based on their fundamental beliefs, why is it not also immoral or legally actionable for large corporations to refuse their services to the citizens of those states where those who govern choose to pass legislation to protect the religious freedoms of their citizenry?

If I’m a huge professional football fan living in Atlanta and the NFL people remove my city from contention for a near-future Super Bowl because they feel my state is discriminating against the transgendered, am I not the victim of discriminatory business practices on the part of the NFL?  What about those organizations and corporations that cancel annual conferences and business meetings because of the actions of my state legislature?  Aren’t these big corporations refusing to do business with my state simply because they consider our practices immoral, just as those bakeries, florists, and photographers see gays as immoral?  Other than scale, I see little difference.

I hope we are not moving to a place where those who do not acknowledge the political (or moral) positions of those in power are punished.  That would not be good, but it has happened within the last 100 years, thankfully not in this nation, very much.

On the other hand, if you wish to send me to Coventry, that is OK with me, but not very charitable.  If you want to convert me to your views you will probably have to talk to me.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Basically, Groucho wrote to the Friar's Club of Beverly Hills, "Please accept my resignation.  I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member."

Post Sykes-Picot

For John, BLUFThe solution isn't to be found in DC or Turtle Bay, but in the Middle East.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Does the Middle East Need New Borders?"  The question is from Ms Marina Ottawa, writing in Foreign Affairs Magazine.  The issue is "The Legacy of Sykes-Picot, 100 Years On.

Sykes-Picot.  That is probably an unknown subject for most of us, as it dates back to The Great War, World War I.  But, it is one of the items blamed for the turmoil in the Middle East.  I agree with that assertion, to a point.  The problems is that such a view soon becomes ethnocentric.  The fundamental issue is the people in the Region deciding on what they want and then voting for it and protesting for it and fighting for it.

At any rate, here is the lede plus two paragraphs:

On May 17, 1916, France and the United Kingdom signed the Sykes-Picot agreement, named after the two diplomats who conducted the negotiations.  The agreement was the first in a series of treaties that would eventually create the modern states of the Middle East following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.  One hundred years later, analysts such as Robin Wright and Jeffrey Goldberg predict that the region’s borders will soon be redrawn once more.  Indeed, in Iraq and Syria, where proto-states outside the government’s control have already emerged, the idea of new borders does not appear so far-fetched.  In Iraq, for example, the Kurds have already announced that they will hold a referendum on independence before the end of 2016.

New borders will not restore stability, however, because the present ones are not the cause of the region’s turmoil.  The states themselves must change if there is to be any sort of peaceful order that can accommodate the demands of the region’s diverse populations.  Yet the prospects for such a transformation are dim.

Often denounced as artificial lines in the sand drawn by ignorant European diplomats, the borders in the region are no more artificial than those established by conflict.  Even the most ardent critics of the status quo have given no indication of where the region’s natural borders lie, because there are no natural borders.  The Kurds, for example, aggrieved by a partition of the region that did not give them their own country, even disagree on whether there should be one Kurdistan or several Kurdish states.

Here is the conclusion:
The deep political reform that could possibly allow Iraq and Syria to become stable countries has not begun in either country. Abadi tried to take some modest steps and failed. Assad did not even try, insisting that all his country needs is new elections. And progress in the fight against ISIS may only make the Iraqi and Syrian governments more repressive and provide additional incentives for those who see new borders as the only solution. The region is stumbling toward the end of Sykes-Picot, but it is no closer to the end of turmoil.
What do you think about this?

Regards  —  Cliff

  We can help, but the locals have to want it.

  And they can't really do that from Europe, the UK or the US or Canada.
  Why are these folks not fleeing to Mexico, or are they?

Sweet Memory

For John, BLUFDark Chocolate helps you sleep, I am told.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Combat candy:  As M&Ms turn 75, a look at sweets in service".  This is an article by Mr Kevin Lilley, of The Army Times.
U.S. military-issued chocolate pre-dates the modern-day MRE, and even the C-ration.  With one of the service’s key suppliers celebrating a milestone this year, here’s a look at some sweet history.
And, thus flows the history.

One of the interesting parts to me is that M&M comes from a partnership of Mr Forest Mars Sr. (think Mars Bars (and Uncle Ben's Converted Rice)) and Mr William F. R. Murrie, formerly president of Hershey.  For World War II M&Ms had but a single customer — the U.S. military.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wikipedia says it was the son of Mr William Murrie, Mr Bruce Murrie.

We're all consequentialists now

For John, BLUFThis could make life harder.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Brookings Institution and the pen of Shadi Hamid, Brookings Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, we have "Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure.  They're wrong."

I am not sure I am convinced, and not just because it is a bell to hang around the neck of Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.  For one thing, Colonel Mummer Qaddafi had given up his nuclear weapons program and then we whopped him up side the head.  Other maniacal dictators are in the future going to think more than twice about giving up their nuclear weapons programs.

And, there is the slide to chaos.  However, Mr Hamid makes a solid case for the idea it was already sliding and our intervention just kept the numbers of civilians killed and wounded lower than they might have been.

But, the interesting part is where he talks about "consequentialism" .

The near reverse holds true for Libya.  The justness of military intervention in March 2011 cannot be undone or negated retroactively.  This is not the way choice or morality operates (imagine applying this standard to your personal life).  This may suggest a broader philosophical divergence:  Obama,according to one of his aides, is a "consequentialist."

I suspect that this, perhaps more than narrower questions of military intervention, drives at least some of the revisionism over Libya's legacy.  If we were consequentialists, it would be nearly impossible to act anywhere without some sort of preordained guarantee that a conflict area—which likely hadn't been "stable" for years or decades—could all of a sudden stabilize.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow in the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy and the author of the new book "Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World" (St. Martin's Press).
  That is to say, the virtue of your action isn't from your intent to do good, but if good is the actual outcome.  There are (no pun intended) consequences to your views of this.  It could impact our foreign policy.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Abortion Extremism

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

From Ashe Schow we have "Hillary Clinton Exposes the Left’s Own Abortion Extremism".  And "Republicans aren’t the only ones who can be extreme on this issue".  This would be The New York Observer. Here are the two paragraphs Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds picked to highlight:
Polls on the issue continually show that the American people by and large do not like late-term abortions, even many who are fine with abortions for any reason within the first trimester.  A majority of Americans support abortion in the first trimester, while a large majority (usually in the 60-plus percent range) do not support abortions in the second trimester, and an even larger percentage (more than 80 percent) oppose abortions in the third trimester.

So if Ms. Clinton is suggesting that it is okay to abort up until birth, she is wildly out of line with the American people and most state’s current laws.  Yet she will not be forced to follow up her comments and expand on them or explain them away.

Don't let the Abortion Advocates fool you on this.  The political sweet spot in America is abortion for the first trimester, but after that the procedure should be to save the life of the mother, not for the convenience of the mother.

And, yes, Mr Trump was dumb in his response to the Chris Matthews setup question, the one where Mr Matthews offers a hypothetical and then drags a future possible back to today, but without the needed context, and Mr Trump fell for it.  On the other hand, if asked again about abortion he has a good chance to make a point against Ms Clinton, by pointing out her extremism.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Maybe it is like driving a car.  You need to own up to your actions.