Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One View on Government and The People

For John, BLUFThis is not a view I subscribe to.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In forwarding an article on Reporter Sara Firth resigning from the London office of the TV News organization Russia Today, one person cited this quote to help us understand Russia today.
"Naturally, the common people don't want war...but, after all it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
- Herman Goering at Nuremberg trial in 1946
The article (not the quote) is from The [Manchester] Guardian and the headline is "Russia Today reporter resigns in protest at MH17 coverage".  Ms Firth resigned over the "Kremlin-backed news channel’s ‘disrespect for facts’ in reports about Malaysia Airlines plane disaster".

The point of submitting this is to help each of us think about our political responsibilities, in voting, and in petitioning our elected leaders.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fighting Anti-Semitism

For John, BLUFAnti-Semitism appears to be timeless.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At The Volokh Conspiracy Mr David Bernstein gives us "Attempted pogrom thwarted by Jewish self-defense groups".  This is about ongoings in Paris.  France has had Anti-Semitism in the past, including a century ago, when a Jewish Army Captain was sacrificed for the "Honor of the Army", while the true spy for Austria was allowed to roam free.  Thank God for Emile Zola.

The article is dated 20 July 2014.

But, that is Europe, where the hint of Anti-Semitism is always there, although increased now by waves of Muslim immigrants who bring their prejudices with them, rather than leaving them on the dock when they step off the boat on French soil.

On the other hand Hot Air tells us "Police protect Jewish students from Pro-Palestinian mob…in Boston".  In Boston.  I seem to have missed that in the news.  The article, here, is dated 21 July 2014 and is by Mr Guy Benson.

Here is Mr Benson's lede quote:

For the third time in eight days, Boston police were forced to intervene when a small group of student Israel supporters was swarmed by demonstrators screaming anti-Semitic epithets and initiating physical contact, said students involved in the incident…A handful of Jewish students with Israeli flags was surrounded by demonstrators shouting anti-Semitic epithets and – according to two of the students – a tense minute of “pushing and shoving.” Soon after the “die-in” ended, Brett Loewenstern — a Berklee College of Music student and pro-Israel activist – entered the fray with his boyfriend, Israeli-born Avi Levi. According to Loewenstern, he and his boyfriend’s combining of an Israeli flag with a rainbow flag – the symbol for gay rights – set off a hailstorm of insults from demonstrators. Among other things, the shouts included “Jews back to Birkenau” and “Drop dead, you Zionazi whores,” said Loewenstern and other witnesses…During a gathering outside the Boston Public Library on Thursday evening, police had to protect Valdary and student activist Daniel Mael from what Valdary called “hundreds of people shouting ‘Allah is great.’”
The best way to deal with these sorts of things is to say "No thank you" to things when they first come up.  Social distancing, so to speak.  Good People may have various opinions on Israel and Palestine, but they do not disparage Jews, nor Palestinians.

Regards  —  Cliff

President Putin Locked In

For John, BLUFWe need to deter President Putin, not provoke him.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am not unhappy with current US foreign policy regarding Russia and Crimea.  Yes, Russia must be resisted with regard to its threat to Ukraine, but right now the most important foreign policy action must be finding a way for Putin to dismount, without provoking an even worse outcome.

From our friends up North, at the Globe and Mail, we have an insightful article by Mr Mark Mackinnon, headlined "Why Putin can’t back down now".  Published today.

From the article:  

The pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin grows each day. He must end his support for the rebels accused of shooting down a passenger plane over eastern Ukraine, Western leaders say, or face tougher economic sanctions and greater political isolation.

And each day, Mr. Putin makes it clearer that he’s not about to bend.

Mr. Putin is in a trap of his own making following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. He’s unable – even if he were willing – to meet the West’s demands, in large part due to the anti-Western opinion in Russia he and his Kremlin have moulded over 15 years in power.

Having cast the West as Russia’s enemy for so long, and having personally vowed to protect ethnic Russians everywhere, analysts say Mr. Putin would be fiercely criticized at home if he pulled an about-face and abandoned the separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic under pressure from Washington and London.

So, we need a foreign policy that, on the one hand deters further Russian excursions into Ukraine and on the other hand provides Mr Putin a path that does not endanger his rule.  Along the way we need to involve the Europeans, if for no other reason than to not let them sit on the sidelines jeering us.  And, we need to reassure our Asian allies that we don't think China should be out poaching property from other nations.  This stuff is never easy.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Childhood, Lost

For John, BLUFIt was always better in the old days.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the paragraph Blogger Ann Althouse lifted from the article in The Week, by Mr Michael Brendan Dougherty, 21 July 2014, "Why are so many parents being arrested?  The communities that used to assist them are gone. So we call the cops instead."
My own childhood seems to have become illegal.  I was the son of a single mother.  During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, N.J., to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs.  I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on.  If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping.
Mr Dougherty is apparently younger than I am (we didn't have DARE in my day) and lived in the other end of the Garden State.  I used to ride my bike, alone, to the lake to go swimming.  The Borough had a life guard, but still, I was on my own, and that is where swimming lessons were.  I have, with my buddies, walked on a railroad trestle—the amazing thing is I dislike high places.  That doesn't count the time five of us walked three miles down the train tracks to get home after seeing a movie in another town.

Yes, childhood is much more constrained now than it was.  And less adventurous.  Mr Dougherty is on to something.

On the other hand, maybe it is more adventurous today.  I used to ride my bike up to the drug store (across the main drag and over the double railroad tracks at the crossing) to buy Carbon Tetrachloride, for cleaning model railroad tracks.  While I might get whiffs of it, I never sat around inhaling it, drinking it or injecting it. Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Iraq 21 July 2014

For John, BLUFIt isn't a lot of good news.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Source for these maps is The Institute for the Study of War.

The overall picture:

ISIS is ISIL or the Islamic Caliphate.  The current bad guys, killing or expelling Christians from Mosul
ISF is Iraqi Security Forces.
Peshmerga is Kurd forces.
ISW is The Institute for the Study of War


Regards  —  Cliff

Fighting Homelessness

For John, BLUFTaking care of the less well off costs money.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

One of my concerns in our society is homelessness and here is a broadsheet looking at the proposal from the Obama Administration regarding spending in Fiscal Year 2015 (the Federal Fiscal Year starts on 1 October of 2014).  This is from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Here is the summarizing first paragraph:

President Obama's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget clearly demonstrates the high priority this Administration has for achieving to the goals of Opening Doors:  Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.  This year’s budget proposal includes more than $5.69 billion for targeted homeless assistance funding, a 12 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations.  This fact sheet serves as an overview of the homeless assistance programs across the government.
This is not to say I believe throwing money at the problem is sufficient.  Homeless has many causes and providing housing, which is the first step in the solution, is not sufficient.  For some jobs are enough and for others there is a requirement for medical or mental health, to include extensive case management.  For still others there is a need to develop or redevelop those life skills that keep most from being homeless.  There is no one size fits all.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Southern Border Crisis

For John, BLUFNo good answers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Our Governor, Devol Patrick, being joined by our Senate President, Ms Therese Murry, are for bringing children to Massachusetts who have managed to survive the trip up through Mexico and tagged up at the border.

"My inclination is to remember what happened when a ship full of Jewish children tried to come to the United States in 1939 and the United States turned them away, and many of them went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps," Patrick said.  "I think we are a bigger-hearted people than that as Americans, and certainly as residents of Massachusetts."
I am all for avoiding another MS ST LOUIS incident.  In the case of the German ship with 937 Jewish German Refugees the people were first turned away by Cuba, and then the United States and then Canada.  Returned to Europe, it is estimated one quarter died in German death camps.  But, in bringing up the question of moral responsibility, Governor Patrick raises more issues with regard to Germany and our responsibility, which I will discuss below.

Nation of Change, a Progressive organization, tells us that "Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island".  I expect they were coming even before there was an Ellis Island, opened back in 1892.  I expect children as indentured servants were showing up here soon after large numbers of immigrants were coming from the British Isles.

The Publisher Emeritus of The [Lowell] Sun, Mr Kendall Wallace, on his most recent "Saturday Chat" gave us "A proud history of embracing new people".  He writes:

I struggle with the way we as a people have handled some historic human-rights issues, particularly the current situation that is again splitting the country:  What to do about the thousands of women and children pouring into the U.S. illegally as they flee poverty, abuse and hopeless situations they live with in Mexico and various countries in Central America.
OK, I get it.  Thousands are coming to our borders and we should not turn them away.  However, what of the rest?

El Salvador6,134,0002009Estimate

That totals out at 30,200,249.  If we assume that 10% of the population is corrupt or criminal or evil, that still leaves 27,180,224 good men, women and children.  So we have absorbed 53,000 or so people.  What about the remaining 27,127,224?

While the fate of the Jewish People on the MS ST LOUIS is a blot on our history, and the history of other nations, including Germany, it does not encapsulate the totality of what went wrong.  For example, there were the Germany "Death Panels", under Action T-4, which saw the murder of 70,000 disabled before the program was shut down (and another 200,000 after the program was shut down).  These were not Jews, but ethnic Germans who had become "useless eaters".  We did nothing about this mass killing of those not able to defend themselves.  Then we add in some 6 million Jews and several million killed for being Communist, Gypsy, Homosexual, part of the Polish leadership, or just troublesome Slavs.  Going to the MS ST LOUIS misses the bigger picture and is just playing with history.

However, there is a response that does look at the larger picture and that is our responsibilities under Responsibility to Protect (R2P).  This is the idea that states should not allow other states to commit atrocities on their own populations, for example the Rwanda Genocide.  The three strong voice in the Obama Administration for R2P have been Ms Susan Rice, National Security Advisor, Ambassador Samantha Power, our UN Ambassador, and Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, formerly the Department of State Director of Policy Planning.  If bad things are happening in Meso-America, should we be stepping in, perhaps with Mexico and other nations?  Should our military forces step in and replace the national governments, as we did in Panama, back in 1989?  How do you feel about doing "nation building" south of the border?

On the other hand, "nation building" has not been a rousing success in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And it goes against the Good Neighbor Policy that we have tried to hew to since the time of President Franklin D Roosevelt.  I would think that intervention would not go down well in international relations.  If nothing else, it would provide Russia with ample justification for its intervention in Ukraine.  And, China would see itself free to intervene in Viet-nam and other nations on its supposed borders, including the Nine-Dash Line.  I am against intervention.

From The International New York Times, on Sunday, we have an article that talks to Mexico strengthening its Southern Border.  Here are two paragraphs from the article:

Now Mexico finds itself whipsawing between compassion and crackdown as it struggles with a migration crisis of its own. While the public is largely sympathetic to migrants and deeply critical of the United States’ hard-line immigration policies, officials are under pressure from their neighbors to the north and south as they try to cope with the influx. As a result, they are taking measures that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Mexico has quietly stepped up the pace of deportation of migrants, some of them unaccompanied children. It announced plans to stop people from boarding freight trains north and will open five new border control stations along routes favored by migrants.

So, we are supposed to welcome those who successfully ride The Beast up from South Mexico, but also applaud Mexico for closing that Southern Border?

Frankly, I would see this as another "Piven and Cloward" type effort to crash a system in order to get it fixed, in this case, the immigration system.  That would be like the "Fast and Furious" Operation late in its manifestation (experience early in the Obama Administration).  The problem with this theory is that it would require a degree of competence that may not exist down in DC these days.  Hanlon's Razor.

So, we have an surge in immigrants, especially young ones, the ones who survive the trip up through Mexico, probably due to a hope that if they make it to the United States they are home free.  The question for Governor Patrick, Mr Wallace and Nation of Change is, are conditions so bad in Central America, Panama perhaps excluded, that we should actually bring in the millions who are at risk due to violence, much of it drug related?  Think about the cost and efforts of settling some 27 million people from Central America, people who don't speak English and may not have the job skills to gain employment in the United States, if there were jobs to be had.

And, as a side note, none of this, at whatever level, is going to be free.  Hearing the words "the Federal Government is paying for it" makes me think of the ratio of Federal taxes paid to benefits returned to Massachusetts.  We get back about 83¢ in benefits for every $1 in taxes we send to Washington.  That means all those good ideas being pushed down in DC are costing us money in a disproportionate way.

I will give Mr Wallace credit for these words in his column:

The federal and state governments failure to level with people about the true extent of the number of people who have been flown into Massachusetts hurts the cause.

Lowell has always done its share to help immigrants settle in America.  Since the 1830s the city has seen waves of new people come to Lowell for jobs and a better life.

If, in fact, hundreds of these people who have fled their homelands have been flown into Hanscom Field in Bedford, and they are allowed to remain, some will end up in Lowell and in the Lowell's public schools while politicians debate about the issue.  While federal and state officials will debate, the city will treat these people with respect and dignity.

At the end of the day I expect Lowell will do the right thing, which is to take in the border crossers.  I hope the Citizens of Lowell, and other communities, will take the second step and vote against Federal and Commonwealth candidates in November if those two levels of Government do not finally come clean and step up.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Of course drug related violence really points back at the United States, which provides a huge market for such drugs coming from South America.  That would be to say, the conditions in Central America are the fault of US Citizens who are using illegal drugs.