The EU

Google says the EU requires a notice of cookie use (by Google) and says they have posted a notice. I don't see it. If cookies bother you, go elsewhere. If the EU bothers you, emigrate. If you live outside the EU, don't go there.

Friday, August 31, 2012

DWS On The Republican Convention

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is my "go-to" person for authotitative Democratic Party utterances, which is why I took note of this item from The Daily Caller:
“I think we believe that women can see through that nice shiny packaging that the Republicans have been putting out there, through to what’s inside, which is really a disaster for women’s future, extreme policies,” said Wasserman Schultz at a press conference at the Democratic National Committee war room, nestled in the heart of enemy territory just blocks from where the RNC is being held.
Especially the Governor of New Mexico and the Former SecState. 

Can you imagine political life without Ms Wasserman Schultz?  Apparently InTrade can.  She is not in trade, best I can tell.

Regards  —  Cliff

Note:  My Editor vetoed my first suggested title for this blog post.  No guessing in the Comments.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? translates from the Latin as "Who watches the watchmen?".

It is a good question, raised once again in an article in Investors Business Daily about the Paul Ryan claim regarding the now shuttered GM Plant in Janesvile, WI and the Candidate Obama.  This is a rather long extract from the article, but I am lifting it from Law Professor Glenn Reynolds (the InstaPundit) so I am expecting it is fair use:
If media “fact checkers” are just impartial guardians of the truth, how come they got their own facts wrong about Paul Ryan’s speech, and did so in a way that helped President Obama’s re-election effort?

Case in point was the rush of “fact check” stories claiming Ryan misled when he talked about a shuttered auto plant in his home state.

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler posted a piece — “Ryan misleads on GM plant closing in hometown” — saying Ryan “appeared to suggest” that Obama was responsible for the closure of a GM plant in Janesville, Wis.

“That’s not true,” Kessler said. “The plant was closed in December 2008, before Obama was sworn in.”

What’s not true are Kessler’s “facts.”  Ryan didn’t suggest Obama was responsible for shuttering the plant.  Instead, he correctly noted that Obama promised during the campaign that the troubled plant “will be here for another hundred years” if his policies were enacted.

Also, the plant didn’t close in December 2008.  It was still producing cars [trucks?] until April 2009.

An AP “fact check” also claimed that “the plant halted production in December 2008″ even though the AP itself reported in April 2009 that the plant was only then “closing for good.”

CNN’s John King made the same claim about that plant closure.  But when CNN looked more carefully at the evidence, it — to its credit — concluded that what Ryan said was “true.”
When people lose faith in institutions they look elsewhere, or double down.  The third option is to just wander aimlessly.  The reason Fox News does as well as it does is not because it is so good, but because the public, or a patch of the public, has rejected the Main Stream Media, including The Old Gray Lady, as perveyors of the truth.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Wikipedia article tells us that some question the authenticity of the quote and then notes that it is about ensuring the faithfulness of one's wife.
  That leads us back to the time when Pontius was a Pilatus, and asked Quid est veritas? (John 18:38).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

President Obama as Tory

Columnist Russell Walter Mead, of the American Interest comments on Mr Andrew Sullivan saying "people should support President Obama because he is really the ‘best’ kind of British Tory".
In any case, Sullivan is right that Obama is much more in touch with the mainstream of modern British political and social thought than is Romney.  What he needs to reflect on is whether or not that is a good thing
My wife used a Britishism to reflect her view—rubbish.

My view is more (and please don't mention to her my use of the term) nuanced.  There is a reason the MSM has given us the color "Red" for the last few election cycles.  Aside from the fact that historians traditionally use red on maps to depict the bad guys is the fact that red is the color of revolution—and the Republicans are those who want change, who are the revolutionaries.  President Obama and his Democratic Party friends are the stand-patters.

Regards  —  Cliff

  This is a reference to the "stand-patters" faction of the Republican Party, a conservative alternative to the progressive wing.  Whatever "Progressive" means.

Condi Rice Talks

Over at the P J Tatter Bridget Johnson reviews the GOP Convention speech of former SecState Condoleezza Rice:
She said America’s narrative has never been one “of grievance and entitlement.”

“We have never believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have never been jealous of one another and never envious of each others’ successes,” Rice said.
Have you noticed how one of the sub-themes for the Speakers has been Amercan Exceptionalism?

Regards  —  Cliff

  In the net rest of full disclosure (and bragging rights) while I was on the Joint Staff (Strategy Dvision), Condi Rice was an intern in the five around the corner (Nuc/Chem Dvision).

"Ritual Slaughter"

This story, from Yahoo, about Dutch politician Geert Wilders, is a little confusing, as to if he is a growing power or not.

What makes this interesting is that an Israeli Rabbi, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, has written to Mr Wilders, calling for his party, the Freedom Party, to stop backing a ban on ritual slaughter (of cattle).  The ban was introduced by Animal Rights advocates.  In a pluralistic society claims for "rights" inevitably conflict.  However, in this case the rights of Jews and Muslims go in the same direction.

The rights of minorities can be easily stepped on.  Earlier in the year a German State Court ruled that circumcision was wrong.  Now a Rabbi has been indicted, per The Huffington Post.

UPDATE:  Turns out these are complaints by private citizens against rabbis for offering services.  Still, not a good thing.

You may think circumcision is dumb, and I may agree, but like ritual in the slaughter of cattle, these religious doctrines go back 1300 to 3000 years.   We have to be careful about imposing our own views on others.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Nice hat at the Photo in the Wikipedia article.
  Turns out in the areas of circumcision and Kosher/Halal food I am for providing wide religious latitude.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Closing Prayers

Commenter Ed Morrissey talks to closing prayers by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the current president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, at both nominating conventions.

Regards  —  Cliff

Memes on the Internet

Here is a thoughtfrom Cappadocia in Lowell on Internet Memes.  In this case MIT Professor Noam Chomsky.  Part of the 1%, he is not supporting the Obama Campaign (which is not to say he is a Romney fan).

The Secret Ballot is a wonderful thing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Playing The Cards [Handed to You]

Law Professor Ann Althouse asks, "Who's playing the playing the race card card?"  She then goes on to say:
I just want to be the first person to play the playing-the-playing-the-race-card-card card.
The problem is, there is Chris Mmathews out there.

Once upon a time I liked Chris Matthews, but not so much anymore.  Did he change or did I change or did both of us change?

Regards  —  Cliff

Challenging Delegates

It is Kad Barma, so it has more detail than most posts, but as someone who hates all political parties with an equal disdain he gives us a somewhat balanced view on what the Republican Conventionn in Tampa is trying to do regarding seating delegates.  Seating of delegates has been an issue since I was in knee pants.  Go to Kad's Blog Site and comment, or comment here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pushing the Camera

I remember, when I first arrived in Lowell an exchange of letters with a Globe columnist, who had disparaged the movie Primary Colors.  I had said the opening night show my wife and I attended was so crowded a couple on their first date could not sit together.  He noted that in Lowell "Politics is a blood sport".

Along that theme is this item in The Weekly Standard.  I sure hope the Scott Brown crew has been talked to so they don't do the same infantile thing.  Then, the article reaches back to last time and AG Martha Coakley.  Fortunately the Coakley staff incident was out of state.

The local CBS Affiliate reported this incident, but then, in a "fair and balanced" way, reports a previous incident by the Brown Campaign.

The one good thing is that this shows at least one person, the "cab" driver, is excited about the campaign.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, we did offer our seats, but they declined.
  Do you think that is Trademarked or Copyrighted?

Afghanistan, Again

Mr John McCreary, writing for Night Watch, talks about the
Taliban beheading 17, including two women.
Afghanistan remains one of the worst places on Earth to be a woman.  Nevertheless, this atrocity in the name of Sharia, crossed the line for most Muslims, even Pashtuns.
Counterinsurgency is hard, very hard, but it is, in the end, about helping people achieve self-governance, even if it isn't the exact form we would pick for ourselves.

Which brings us to the question of what we owe to the people cross town.

What do we owe the people of Afghanistan
  free polls 

Regards  —  Cliff


Someone, in another forum, noted
I am looking for a quote that captures the importance and reward of free thinking, multi-discipline thinking, non-linear systems thinking, blah, blah, blah.
Here is one response:
Those who throw out these results will not be scientists, but merely another set of dogmatists — of whom new crops are continually springing up, wearing new disguises and new labels.  The plain truth is that in science, as in politics and religion, it is a lot easier to believe what you have been taught, than to set out for yourself and ascertain what happens.
— Upton Sinclair, Mental Radio
Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 27, 2012

Farewell, Howie

Today I am going to Arlington Cemetary for the internment of my friend, the late Howard W Clark, Colonel, US Army (Retired).

Internment at Arlington is not quick.  It has been almost six months since he passed away.  But, this is just his remains.  His soul moved on a long time ago, we presume to a happier place.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Third Envelope

I am on the road, down in Northern Virginia, sitting in a darkened living room, working on my iPad while one Grandson plays "Carnivore Pro" on his Father's iPad, and the other plays "Lego Star Wars III", on the computer.  At 2228 (10:28 PM) last night my wife EMailed me, without comment (she knows I think Maureen Dowd is a wonderful, if misdirected, columnist), a link to Sunday's MoDo column, "Too Late to Shake That Etch A Sketch".

The "Etch a Sketch" reference was to a comment by Governor Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, back in March, about the campaign's inevitable swing from a more conservative stance to a more moderate stance.  (Yesterday I was playing Tic-Tac-Toe on an Etch-A-Sketch with a third Grandchild.)

But, moving on, MoDo says we will never see the real Romney, and she took a swipe at his "birth certificate" comment.  Frankly, I thought it was funny and fair game.  It isn't like the Romney camp is questioning where President Obama was born, even though the "birth certificate" has been a more closely guarded secret than Governor Romney's taxes.

Here is MoDo's complaint:
But Romney never did shake up the Etch A Sketch.  He remains too insecure about his base.  Romney and Obama are both running for their bases — and Mitt is running from his own elusive better angels.
But, she doesn't tell us what President Obama is running from.  Does President Obama even have "better angels"?  Here we are, three and a half years in and you would think he was down to the third envelope.

All that said, my question has to do with a tint of racism in MoDo's piece:
And that is what’s disturbing about the prospect of a President Romney.  Even though he once seemed to have sensible, moderate managerial instincts, he won’t stop ingratiating himself with the neo-Neanderthals.
Given what has and hasn't happened in the current Obama Administration, the first two sentences can be just dismissed out of hand.

However, given the amount of Neanderthal DNA in Caucasians and Asians, doesn't that seem like a racist swipe at Romney, and from an Irish Lass?

I, for one, am looking forward to a future focus on the right mixture of public and private actions to restore our economy, before imploding European and Chinese economies bring us all down.

What ever happened to the snowclone from 1992, It's the economy, stupid?

Regards  —  Cliff

More Lance Armstrong

The Lance Armstrong imbroglio continues and the fact that the problem was going to "arbitration" seems strange to me.  One arbitrates labor disputes, but not fact.  Over at the Althouse Blog there was this prescient comment:
As far as Armstrong goes...if you strip him of his TDF medals, you need to award him some Noble Prizes in chemistry 'cause they never proved it.
Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, August 25, 2012

That Chinese Infrastructure

Here is a story on a Chinese bridge Collapse.

As Lincoln Steffens once said, "I have seen the future, and it works."  But that reference was today from a China expert, commenting on the Chinese Infrastrucure program.

But, that is not to say we are doing what we need to regarding infrastrucute.  Someone reported on a visit to South Korea that there is free Wifi in almost all public places.  And, our Commonwealth could use a highway system.  But, we need some imagination.  The Acela ISN'T high speed rail.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, August 24, 2012

Romney Tells A Joke

And now there is some hate and discontent over his saying, during a campaign stop in Michigan:
"I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised, where but the both of us were born," Romney said after introducing his wife, fellow Michigan native Ann. "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate.  They know that this is the place where we were born and raised."
TPM talks about it..

I thought it was funny.

Althouse view.

InstaPundit view.

But, the real "Birther" issue has to do with a Senate candidate in Texas, Ted Cruz—born in Canada, but of an American Mother.  Professor Althouse opined that he might not meet the criteria for President, and then corrected herself.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sad Day

Cyclist Lance Armstrong has said "enough is enough" and has decided to stop fighting Travis Tygart and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (a QUANGO).  Here is the last paragraph in an article in The New York Times:
“I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours,” Armstrong said, adding:  “The toughest event in the world, where the strongest man wins.  Nobody can ever change that.”
There is also a statement released by Mr Armstrong.

Mr Armstrong is not saying he is guilty as charged.  He is saying that his life needs to go in another direction.

My sympathy is with Mr Armstrong.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Meanwhile, in Minnesota...

What's so bad about soliciting "no strings attached" sex, through Craigslist, with a person over the age of consent?  The Madison Law Professor asks:
What's so terrible that his political career must end?
It's not like he is a Republican.

Oh, and she gives three reasons.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog, whose Blog Mistress voted for Obama in 2008 and was recently named top Conservative Blogger in Wisconsin.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mass Senate Race Poll

Do you know the PPP outfit?  I don't.  At any rate, here is Blogger Ed Morrissey's take on the most recent poll, which shows the Senator up by 5 points.
The bad news?  Brown didn’t build that lead all by himself[.]
Here are the details of the poll.

Regards  —  Cliff

Papers, Please

I would like to start by saying that this reporting from InfoWars dot com is obviously over the top.  Then I would like to say that I question the use of taxpayer money to conduct this degree of surveillance across the Fruited Plain.  The thought that TSA agents may soon be demanding "Papers, Please" is disturbing.

We all want security, but few of us want a system that includes internal checkpoints and frequent demands that one prove who one is.  Deep down inside true Americans is the belief that you should be able to walk around outside without an identification at all and be free from police harrassment while doing so.

The question is, where is the tipping point?  Searching bags at a Paul Ryan rally may not be it, although why TSA and not some other agency comes to mind.  A Little League baseball game seems a little far.  We are depending on the courts and the Congress to protest us from a too powerful "Interior Ministry" evolving out of the Department of Homeland Security, which may have been a bad idea from the get-go.  It is still not apparent to me that we needed something beyond the Office of Homeland Security, instituted by President Geo W Bush and headed by former Governor Tom Ridge.

Regards  —  Cliff

Powerline Warning

Does this item by John Hinderaker, of Powerline represent his warning to Democrats or his warning to Republicans?

And, is he correct in his assertion (well, quoting Kurtis Fechtmeyer) that the Democratic Party in Missouri funded Rep Todd Akin's primary campaign for US Senate and not the Republican Establishment?  Is that good for Democrats this round?  Is that good for Democracy long term?

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Race As Seem From Amazon

My wife EMailed me this link, which looks at the political race by examining Amazon book sales.

This is definitely not scientific, in that people do read what the other side writes.  At this time I am 25% of the way through a book (American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home 1945-2000) by Professor Joshua Freeman (Would my parents have called him a Parlor Pink?) and about 10% through a Professor Paul Krugman book (End This Depression Now!)(He is a definite Keynesian).  I bought the first book from Amazon and the second from Marty's bookstore downtown Lowell.

But, the Amazon map is a way to see what is hot and what is not, and where.

Regards  —  Cliff

Island Disputes

Here is a short article on the current confrontation going on between China and Japan.  This is all fun and games until a real war breaks out.  The article begins:
WASHINGTON: Relations between China and Japan continue to worsen as a Hong Kong Chinese group promised major protests in September.  And two of America's top Peoples Liberation Army analysts tell us things may well get worse, given the long-simmering enmities between the two countries and the "toxic brew" of the region's unresolved territorial claims and misunderstandings.

Larry Wortzel, longtime member of the U.S-China Economic and Security Commission, and Dean Cheng, analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said in an exchange of emails over the last two days that the situation bears close watching.

"Disputed borders (no Helsinki accords equivalent), longstanding hatreds, contradictory historical accounts, all of which add up to LOTS of sources of tension, whether it's with Japan or among other states. Throw in Chinese government willingness to manipulate said accounts and problems (to build up the CCP's reputation), and it's a very toxic brew, indeed!" Cheng wrote.
The article is preceded by a video that cartoons the current situation.  You will notice that it includes not just China and Japan, but also Taiwan (Nationalist China) and the Republic of the Philippines.  It might have included Viet-nam and South Korea, but I missed it if it did.  These confrontations are over claims to islands here and there, but also about historical grievances and Japanese actions during and before World War II.

What to do?  In the following poll you can pick multiple responses—all that reflect your feelings.
What does the US do? free polls 
Regards  —  Cliff

There Goes the Privacy

I was about to pull out from the curb, in front of my home, when the vehicle picture below flashed past me on the left.  I followed the car up Mansur and then down and the a left turn and another before I got this fleeting picture:

It is hard to see in this picture, but there is a contraption strapped to the top of the car.  A tall contraction.  It is not so obvious in the first photo, but is in the second.  By this time I had guessed at what it was.

But what is that big bumper sticker?  I took one more photo as we were stopped, trying to enter onto Andover Street.

Did you notice the California plate on the car?  You will note that Google is located in Mountain View, California.

By the way, did she go by your place?

Yes, this was kind of a fun blog post.  Happened about two weeks ago, but I hadn't saved the photos from my iPhone to my MacBook Air until yesterday.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Is The Question

I saw this bumper sticker at Gold's Gym, in Tewksbury.  When I see this particular bumper sticker I think of World War II and ask myself, "What exactly is the question?"

That said, this is an FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation) bumper sticker and the Quakers are pacifist and for them this is not an unreasonable statement.  For others, however, it might be seen as such.

Regards  —  Cliff

Recoupment of Costs

Between Sequestration and DoD proposed budget cuts we are looking at the Defense portion of the Federal Budget going down a Trillion dollars in ten years, or about $100 Billion a year.  Given that the Defense portion of the 2013 Federal Budget (starts 1 October of 2012) is $525.4 (Of course we have to add the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) costs of $88.5 billion, for a total of $613.9), one hundred billion is a lot of money.  Frankly, the only way to quickly save such money is to lay off people.  But, there are some alternatives to help pay the bills.  Here is a proposal by a bright young light at the Defense Acquisition University.  First off, he attacks the idea that the Department of Defense should be run like a business, as has been suggested from time to time, including a report from the 2008 Defense Science Board (DSB), which suggested:
DoD's business practices need not be worse than the commerical sector's norm.
Of course DoD has no profit motive to guide it.  Now one might think that Professor Elizabeth Warren has a magic formula for putting DoD on the proper track, but since the founding of this nation, including the period when we had NO US Army, such a sound commerical footing has not been achieved.

Thus, this article, which proposes "Recoupment" of costs by the Government, per 32 CFR § 165.6, which requires:
Recovery of nonrecurring costs recoupment charges shall cease upon recovery of total DoD costs.
The writer suggests that for DoD developed material the recoupment go beyond total DoD costs, which would require a change in the law.

For example, for the ubiquitous GPS system, the DoD could add $10 to each GPS navigation system sold—a minor addition.  For each cell phone that uses GPS a charge of $1.00 could be added to each month's bill.  These charges would help recoup the $35 billion DoD (read taxpayers) have spent on GPS since the 1970s.  On the other hand, one could say that this cost is something that all the taxpayers should shoulder, GPS users and non.

I like the idea of adding these little additions to the cost of accessories, in that it is a clean way to allocate costs.  If you use the GPS, you pay a little toward its maintenance.  And, the 33 Space Vehicle GPS IIF constellation is being replaced by the GPS III Space Vehicles, first one launched in May of 2010, and the follow-on GPS III is already on contract.  All of that costs money.

Recoupment.  Here is a chance to implement the ideas of Professor Elizabeth Warren and President Barack Obama, but without having to tell businessmen that they are duds.  Just tell them there is a tax bill coming—a tax bill they can pass on to consumers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 20, 2012

Newsweek Bolts

Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson, writing in the news magazine Newsweek, comes out against President Obama in this election.  The interesting thing isn't that Professor Furguson is opposed to President Obama's reelection, but that Newsweek not only published it, but put it on the cover.
Despite having been—full disclosure—an adviser to John McCain, I acknowledged his opponent’s remarkable qualities:  his soaring oratory, his cool, hard-to-ruffle temperament, and his near faultless campaign organization.

Yet the question confronting the country nearly four years later is not who was the better candidate four years ago.  It is whether the winner has delivered on his promises.  And the sad truth is that he has not.
I guess I would quibble that the question confronting us is who has the ideas to move us forward, but Professor Ferguson's point is on target.

Under the theory of six degrees of separation, Professor Ferguson is married to Ms Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for the short documentary, Submission, that led to the murder of Theo van Gogh, in Amsterdam, Holland.  I am figuring my path is through my granddaughter's husband, who probably isn't that far separated from Theo van Gogh.  And, I have read the Professor's book, The War of the World.

Then there is his latest book, released in November of last year, blurbed here at Amazon.
In Civilization: The West and the Rest, acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts that the Rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic.  These were the ‘killer applications’ that allowed the West to leap ahead of the Rest; opening global trade routes, exploiting new scientific knowledge, evolving representative government, more than doubling life expectancy, unleashing the industrial revolution, and hugely increasing human productivity.  Civilization shows exactly how a dozen Western empires came to control three-fifths of mankind and four-fifths of the world economy.

Yet now, Ferguson argues, the days of Western predominance are numbered because the Rest have finally downloaded the six killer apps the West once monopolized – while the West has literally lost faith in itself.

Chronicling the rise and fall of empires alongside the clashes of civilizations, Civilization recasts world history with verve and wit.  Boldly argued but also teeming with memorable characters, this is Ferguson at his very best.
Is this not a clue to the Professor's thinking?

But, what about Newsweek's thinking?  I am shocked.

Regards  —  Cliff

Freud Says "You Didn't Build That"

Over at the New York Times this last Sunday was an article by Professor Firmin DeBrabander, titled "Deluded Individualism".  Referring to Sigmund Freud, he says:
By Freud’s account, conscious autonomy is a charade.  “We are lived,” as he puts it, and yet we don’t see it as such.  Indeed, Freud suggests that to be human is to rebel against that vision — the truth.  We tend to see ourselves as self-determining, self-conscious agents in all that we decide and do, and we cling to that image.  But why?  Why do we resist the truth?  Why do we wish — strain, strive, against the grain of reality — to be autonomous individuals, and see ourselves as such?

Perhaps Freud is too cynical regarding conscious autonomy, but he is right to question our presumption to it.  He is right to suggest that we typically — wrongly — ignore the extent to which we are determined by unknown forces, and overestimate our self-control.  The path to happiness for Freud, or some semblance of it in his stormy account of the psyche, involves accepting our basic condition.  But why do we presume individual agency in the first place? Why do we insist on it stubbornly, irrationally, often recklessly?
There you have it.  Per the Professor you really didn't build that yourself.  You are, in the words of Richard Dawkins, the product of "knobs and tuning" (inheritance and environment).  Going back to the article,
One might say there is something profoundly American in this.  It's our fierce individualism shining through.  But, the truth is, we can hardly fathom the depth of our dependence on government, and pretend we are bold individualists instead.
(Note that this is from the article in the print edition—the link is to the on-line version.  Read the whole thing, since fair use doesn't allow me to cover all the argument through quotes.)

At any rate, doesn't this approach sort of make a mockery of the whole election thing?

On the other hand, I believe our delusion of rugged individualism is much preferable to the concept that those who don't go along with the current majority fad are introduced to Madame Guillotine.  For one thing, when the power shifts within the controlling elite the appetite of Madame Guillotine changes and a whole new group of people are introduced.

But, before I close this out, one of my sons sent me a Washington Post item where the author said his success was a partnership with the government.  The author, Mr James C. Roumell, praises the Government help that allowed him to get educated and to start his own business, and says without it he would not have succeeded.

I get Mr Roumell's point.  Almost all of us have benefited from the actions of government at every level, from lead paint abatement to Pell Grants to national defense.  The question is, should we emphasize that side of the discussion by denigrating the other side—the contribution of the individual to his or her own success.  I say no.  But, further, I say we do need a discussion of those Government interventions in terms of their effectiveness.  Taking Senator Claiborne Pell, of Rhode Island, as an example, is it correlation or causation that the cost of a college education has skyrocketed since the introduction of Pell Grants?  Is it possible that we are no better off now than in 1972 in terms of college financial issues?

Some would cut this discussion off, but it is a discussion worth having.  It is a discussion that goes to the heart of our democracy.  Not all democracies are the same.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 19, 2012

They Told Me If I Voted For McCain…

From the InstaPundit, I followed a link to a Florida State Sports Blog, with with political content, where the question was:
They told me if I voted for McCain we would have a stupid lightweight as Vice President.....

and they were right.
This, in turn, led to Law Professor William Jacobson's blog Legal Insurrection, with the question,
So when does the media put Biden’s qualification to be President on trial?
Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Quid est veritas?

I recently had an off-line discussion on the "Joe Tully/Tommy Byrne" imbroglio, in which I opined that we are in a period of transition and some will come a cropper as the rules change.  This isn't a good thing, but sometimes changing the rules is hard.  There is no joy in some being hurt because they didn't update quick enough.

Things are harder in the international arena, where there are no openly agreed rules.  In anther forum we were talking about the 15 August attack by 10 Islamic militants on Pakistan Air Force Base Minhas, located at Kamra in Punjab Province.  Some believe nuclear weapons are stred as Mina's Air Base, which was denied by Pakistani Officals.  Can we believe the denial?

This led to a comment from someone who has taught both overseas and at George Mason University, Professor Tracey Perez Koehlmoos, PhD, MHA:
Aside from the issue of nuclear weapons security in Pakistan, I think that you raise the issue of Truth.  Without waxing obtuse, Truth is a cultural concept—and I think it is one of our Western biases to believe or assume that Truth means that you are factually representing a situation.  In management courses that I teach when we talk about the qualities of the Great Leader, my international students will often laugh about our American assumption that we want a leader who is honest—as if that has anything to do with getting the job done well/increasing the lot of the people in your circle.  Whereas we might refer to something as being dishonest, another culture might see it as being a positive thing--to be so clever and to have used all of the resourcefulness to come out ahead.  Or as the lesson I took away from my students (mostly Saudis and South Asians)—"played us like suckers" because we bring our game and good expectations to the table, which they view as stupid naivety.
So, as Pilate asked, "What is truth?".  

Culture counts and a culture that is grounded, to whatever degree, in truth, is one that maximizes freedom for the Nth individual.  The rich and the powerful are not as dependent on truth as the Man on the Clapham bus

Regards  —  Cliff

  John 18:38.

Is California The New Detroit?

The problems of the State of California, recapped.

Is it fair to blame the Democrats, as this author does?  Is it correlation or causation?

Regards  —  Cliff

Getting It Right

Fifty years ago this last June a Viet-namese girl was photographed running naked away from a napalm attack.  The New York Times mentioned this photograph in a May Obit about Horst Faas.  Incidently, the girl is now a Canadian woman living in Canada.

The gripe is that The New York Times says the attack was by an American aircraft.  To the comman man that means American markings and an American aircrew.  In fact, while the airplane was manufactured in Southern California, it was a Viet-namese Air Force owned and operated aircraft.

The Old Gray Lady, our national newspaper of record appears to be unwilling to admit the mistake.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Doing Bad While Trying To Do Good

The LA Times, of all things, reports on a Chester Township (Pennsylvania) lady who is in trouble for passing out free lunches to children, from food provided by the State of Pennsylvania.  She must pay a fine of $600, or obtain a license that will cost $1,000.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sign of the Apocalypse

It must be a sign of the Apocalypse when Senator Scott Brown and Congressman Barney Frank are in agreement.  That said, the treatment of scallop fisherman Larry Yacubian seems to have brought the two together in thought, if not physically.

The gist of it is that NOAA—National Oceanigraphic and Atmospheric Administration—has bankrupted Mr Yacubian and in the process has been less than fair, including ignoring the direction of a Federal Judge.  I am thinking that Mr Yacubian may be a bit over the top in asserting that NOAA sees fisherman as a cash cow:
I feel that up and down America's coasts, fishermen are being pulled into NOAA's Asset Forfeiture Fund.  I was one of the first, and I want to hold that agency accountable to remedy the harm they did to me and my family and to save others from my fate.
On the other hand, with the US Coast Guard available to do its bidding, why does NOAA need 45,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition, or the guns to fire it, as reported on Drudge today?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Here is WashPost Columnist Dana Milban on the signs of the Apocalypse  No, wait, I think this is more like it.

If Joe Goes

Over at the Bookworm Room There is some discussion of Dark Horses in the event Vice President Joe Biden takes a dive.  The Bookworm is going with Prof Elizabeth Warren.  It makes some sense.  Here is the key paragraph:
The only “young” gun they’ve got is Elizabeth Warren.   She’s struggling to stay above water in Massachusetts, but Democrats might see her as someone who can revive the base if she’s on the presidential ticket.   After all, when it comes to “You didn’t build that,” she and Obama are two minds with but a single thought.   Better an exciting candidate on the presidential ticket than a struggling candidate for a senate seat that’s already filled by a fairly popular, attractive RINO.
But, if this is the likely scenario, who runs against Senator Scott Brown, and how does he or she get selected?  I am going with Governor Deval Patrick if the majority in the General Court have really set their faces like flint.  The other possibility is State Senate President Therese Murray.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Isaiah, 50:7.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Republican Debate

Two years ago, when Jon Golnik was running for office he used the term subsidiarity in a discussion with Tom O'Brien and myself.  Not a word to throw out there on City Life, but it is a wonderful way of capturing a political organizing principle.  Here is the Wikipedia definition:
Subsidiarity is an organizing principle stating that a matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralized authority capable of addressing that matter effectively.
It is a theory, honored sometimes in the breach.

The concept, if not the word, came up in this last Monday's debate between the two Republicans running for the right to represent the Party in the November election against Democrat Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.  The way it was presented by Mr Tom Weaver was that his opponent, Mr Jon Golnik, was for small government, while he, Tom Weaver, was for limited government.  While some might dismiss this as a distinction without a difference, I think it is not and it is an issue that needs to be teased out by reporters, bloggers and citizens.

That said, I am not sure Mr Golnik just wants to shrink the budget.  However Mr Weaver is the one who called attention to the point at the debate.

At the same time, Congresswoman Tsongas does not come across as a small government advocate.  That said, her late husband, Senator Paul Tsongas, was a deficit hawk.

I believe that subsidiarity is imprinted on us at birth.  Has anyone not heard a pre-school child say, "I'd rather do it myself."  But, this is at war with the ideal of helping others make better decisions, which appears under the concept of "nudge".

I am a "rather do it myself" kind of person.  That means that once in a while I need to step back and let others do it their way.  The term "perfect is the enemy of good enough" usually means to stop wasting time and money on making something better than it needs to be.  I think that it can also be applied to how government works.  Under our federal system there can be a tendency to establish a single federal standard, so that Mississippi does it the same way as Massachusetts.  We should pick those areas where this is the case, lest we destroy the incubator that is our federal system and tamp down the ability of local government to explore and find better ways of doing this or that.  Some things are not open to local development, such as those areas covered by our Bill of Rights.  Other things are, such as local control of education.  It helps commerce to have a national standard for truck safety, but not so much to have a national standard for the size of lots for private homes.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Serious Writing

What is serious reporting and what is fluff?  This blog post by Mr William D Henderson, at Legal White Board, suggests that the SCOTUSblog is serious reporting, and perhaps a more serious way to convey the state of legal play than The Harvard Law Review, based on readership.

Not just a bunch of folks sitting on their beds in their PJs, writing off the top of their individual heads.

Regards  —  Cliff

Democratic VEEP Choice

President Obama's Press Secretary, Mr Jay Carney, says they are sticking with Biden for VP.

My wife's take is that the reason Vice President Joe Biden has been so gaffe prone lately is he is trying to get thrown off the ticket.  As she says, Mr Biden is not a dumb man.

Your milage may differ.

Regards  —  Cliff

Individual Freedom v Social Provision?

In the recent book, American Empire:  The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home 1945-2000, by Queens College Professor Joshua Freeman, we have this paragraph:
Beyond its rejection of universalism, the GI bill departed from the New Deal in its stress on individual benefits and individual mobility.  The New Deal provided many of its benefits through government institutions that directly hired people, housed them, educated and entertained them.  The GI Bill took a different tack, giving funds to individuals to shop for education, housing, employment, and business opportunities in the private market.  (Health care came directly from the government through Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics.)  In promoting its bill, the American Legion used the language of individual freedom, not social provision.  Some of the strongest congressional support for the measure came from conservative critics of the New Deal.
I wonder if, in his reference to conservative critics he was referring to our own late Congresswoman, Edith Norse Rogers, for she is known for her support of the GI bill.

So, the author draws what I take to be an Elizabeth Warren like distinction between the view of the individual and the view of the collective good.  I think Professor Freeman comes down on the side of Professor Warren.  Is this a theme, a thread, within the Democratic Party?  Have they gone over from the view of the value of hard work by the individual to a more "European" like view?  The author does put it starkly, "the language of individual freedom, not social provision."  I would like to not be taken as wishing to ignore the poor, the homeless and those who just can't become part of the system of employment.  I do believe, however, that all workers benefit when individuals are best able to maximize their contributions to the nation as a whole.  (And why the swipe at mobility?  In a book I will be reviewing in this blog, The New Geography of Jobs, that author notes the importance of mobility in avoiding pockets of poverty and even asks if the Federal Government should be providing payments to the unemployed to support movement.)

Can we not have social provision without destroying individual freedom?  Once individual freedom is gone it might be very hard to get it back.

Regards  —  Cliff

Relief of Ship Skippers

The lede:
Navy Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II, who has been accused of having an affair with a 23-year-old Chesapeake, Va. woman and faking his death as a means of ending it, has been relieved of his duties as the commanding officer of the USS Pittsburgh, just one week after he was put in command.
The Navy issued a pro forma comment.
According to a press release from the Navy, Capt. Vernon Parks, commander of Submarine Development Squadron 12, relieved Ward on Aug. 10
due to lack of confidence in Ward's ability to command based upon allegations of personal misconduct on the part of Ward.
I expect that the Navy has him on a legal technicality, or at least lying to a superior officer to cover his adulterous affair, which is usually the case.  However, for the sake of this post, let us assume not and it is just the affair and he fact he lied to her.

Our thanks to The Stars and Stripes and reporters Karen Florin and Jennifer McDermott for this report.

So here are the elements of UCMJ Article 134:

(1) That the accused wrongfully had sexual intercourse with a certain person;

(2) That, at the time, the accused or the other person was married to someone else; and

(3) That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.
From this I would think that if Private First Class Schmedlap is porking some farmer's wife, 50 miles from the base or post, while off duty, and neither the farmer nor his wife has any connection to the military, this article doesn't apply.  (WARNING:  I am not a lawyer.)

The question is, in 2012, do we think officers having affairs should be relieved of duty and Court Martialed, and perhaps even discharged?

And because the first question is usually just a scene setter, if "Yes", where else would we apply this approach?

Of course, the flip side of this is that the USS PITTSBURG is a nuclear powered attack submarine, perhaps equipped with nuclear weapons.  I dislike it when people like Commander Michael P. Ward, II, put us in these ethical corners.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Jack, "All officers are [fill in the blank] and deserve it" is not a sufficient answer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Corporate Taxes—A Hunk of That

Earlier in this month the Scott Brown campaign sent out a digital flyer with this assertion:
Harvard's Elizabeth Warren is not only the self-proclaimed "intellectual founder" of the Occupy protest movement, she's also the originator of the idea that no one got successful on their own.

Professor Warren's view is that government is responsible for helping to build your business.  Because of that, Warren says government is entitled to, as she put it, "a hunk" of whatever you built.

It's how she justifies raising taxes in order to fuel her idea of a bigger and bigger government.
One of the things that occurs to me is that corporate taxes, which burden small businesses more than large, are really pass-through taxes, which are ultimately paid by the customer, and if not by the consumer, then as a penalty to the stock holders, as the customers rebel against price increases.

Regards  —  Cliff

Economic Crisis v American Values

From syndicated columnist Star Parker we have "Our economic crisis is also a crisis in values".
The economy is also a social "values" issue.

It's about the extent to which we respect private property and it's protected from politicians.
She cites the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

I think Ms Parker is from Long Beach.  I wonder if she worked for my Father's third wife, Neena?

Hat tip to Neal.

[Insert pro forma condemnation of Rush Limbaugh's language re Georgetown Law School Graduate Sandra Fluke.]

Regards  —  Cliff

Getting Back Into Space

The Space Review has an article by Martin Elvis, "After Apollo:  Creating an economically robust space policy by learning from the American West".  The Wild West may not be the proper analogy, but it is from our past.  As I will discuss in a future book review (The New Geography of Jobs), economic growth for the US is tied to innovation, for new ideas and high tech development.
A strategy for achieving economic benefit from space must involve both government and industry, as did the development of the American West.
This idea of a form of partnership makes sense to me.  The current, Federal Government paradigm appears to be approaching exhaustion.  It is time for a new approach.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Drug War Cost

In the Mexican State of Veracruz, in the village of Manlio Fabio Altamirano, the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) of the drug cartels caught up with a family of seven sometime after dinner on Friday.
Seven members of a family, including 4 young children and their grandfather, were beheaded and their bodies left inside their home in the town of Manlio Fabio Altamirano, Veracruz, reports authorities.
It is the four children that caught my attention.
Manuel Reyes Diaz 12, Aleyda Reyes Díaz de 9, Esmeralda Reyes Diaz for 3 years and a girl estimated to be 4 years old, her full name is unknown but known as "Coquita”.
Note that Esmeralda was 3.

This is the drug war.  I question that we have, in fact, sorted out the Ends, Ways and Means.  First question.  What are the political ends we are trying to achieve?  Then, knowing what we want, what resources will we sacrifice to achieve the desired ends.  (Hint:  The answer is not "anything".  We need something left over for health care and social security and education and the war on terror and Congressional salaries.)  Then we figure out how to use those resources to achieve the desired ends.  Then we iterate until we have a balanced match of ends, ways and means.

Where are we?

Regards  —  Cliff

  The author of the paper at the link pays homage, as well he should, to US Army Colonel Art Lykke, and tells us "Strategy is all about how (way or concept) leadership will use the power (means or resources) available to the state to exercise control over sets of circumstances and geographic locations to achieve objectives (ends) that support state interests."

Pirates of Somalia

We are talking a $7 Billion a year business and the chaps in the Jamal Pirate Action Group (J.P.A.G.) are turning $160 million a year.  It is Reuters and thus it is hard to copy a sentence from the article as a teaser, but the article is good.  I would like to name the journalist, but it would require me to remember the name between websites.  So, just go read the article, here.

How would you redirect $7 billion a year to help the world's poor?

Regards  —  Cliff

What You Believe to be True

A Northern Virginia Warlord today reminded us of this comment from Mark Twain, who nailed it when he said,
It ain’t the things you don’t know what gets you in deep trouble, it’s the things you knows for sure what ain’t so.
Isn't that the truth!

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blogging Local (3rd Dist) Rep Debate

Co-Sponsored by The [Lowell] Sun and the Lowell Republicn City Committee.

Candidates are John Golnik and Tom Weaver.

Questioners are Mary Burns and Chris Camire and Dr Frank Talty.  The moderator is Jim Stergios.


Taxes, Fiscal Policy and Job Creation

Mary: What is your jobs plan?
JG Jobs crisis. Private sector nor creating jobs. Lack visibility. Extend Bush tax cuts, permanently. Cut corporate tax rates to OEDC average.
TW I know how to create jobs, have created them. Jobs is about certainty.
JG vs TW no specifics. Regulations growing.
TH vs JG need to build consensus in Congress.

Chris: About PPACA. Can we tweak it?
JG It can't be fixed, it must be repealed (two big and complicated). Yes, some things like
TW Can't "tweak" the law—repeal it. Then the work begins. Getting further and further away from PCP.

Frank: You favor reducing corporate tax rate. Reduce subsidies, like oil [?].
JG Yes, close the loopholes.
TW Corporatetax rate is passed straight through to consumers. Closing loopholes and subsidies good—we have a big debt

Mary: The "You Didn't Build That" comment.
TW It is wrong, but some believe that and we need to explain that.
JG Can't run on record so he is putting his foot in his mouth.

Chris: Defense spending cuts put jobs at risk.
JG Sequestration? A deal needs to be made. It will happen at the last minute.
TW Problem is Defense is 25% of budget and 50% of give-back. Define the job and then fund it. Fraud and waste won't close the gap.

Frank: would you support cuts to foreign aid and to who.
TW Can't afford it. Give to NGOs and PVOs. Subsidies foreign dictators.
JG Being used to help us fight on terrorism. Use it in short-sighted way, eg, Pakistan. Go for comprehensive peace.

Mary: Do you support the Ryan Budget.
JG We have been beaten over the head with it. It is going right, but not yet ready for a vote. Need to fix health care costs. It does start the discussion.
TW Good start, but it doesn't act to limit government. He still wants to fix all our problems.

Chris: NPS here in Lowell. Should Fed Gov't be involved in our NPS?
JG Devolve it to the states.
TW NPS wonderful, but need to push down to sstates. Limited government.

Frank: Entitlements, re Social Security, with fund running toward depletion.
TW If we don't fix it, it will go bankrupt. We need to sustain for retirees, and find way for young folks to save for retirement.
JG Commitment to thse retired and retiring, but for those entering work force we need to consider retirement savings accounts

Mary: Disparity in tax payers. National Sales Tax?
TW If a sales tax, kill income tax. Otherwise. A flat tax is good.
JG Need comprehensive tax reform.

Chris: What role should Feds play in Education.
JG Devolve. We are smarter. More efficient.
TW We want to devolve, but you have to remove the upper echelon. Get rid of fed second guessers

Frank: higher Education. Federal financial aid supported.
JG We hear about eliminating DOE, but Pell Grants are a big part of DOE (35%).
TW Hillsdale College example—correlation between Pell Grants and cost increases. Get Fed Gov out.

Mary: do you support No Child Left Behind

Chris: what would you say to a Guardsman being deployed.
TW We should bring them home. Can't change those Gov'ts. We haven't actually declared war. It has to be the nation.
Chris: Follow up: what is our national security issue.
JG Nation directly threatened. Failed states are a problem. Certain role for us, but no troop commitments.

Frank: support Military intervention in Iran.
TW Tough. We deterred Russia. Iran is dangerous, and must be ready to fight, but let's negotiate.
JG Embargo not working.  Israel will act on own.

Mary:  major problem with border and illegal immigrants (and voter fraud)
TW  We have to close borders.  President's actions undermine rule of law.  Immigrants good for America.  Have to purge the voter laws.  Worchester 40,000 strange voters.
JG  People come due to magnets, like amnisty and employment.  We can improve the border, but can't seal it.
Jim:  you are small Gov't Republicans.  What do do you say to folks in Lowell?
JG  Grow the economy.
TW  Vision difference, small vs limited.  Need to let go money supply to small businesses.  Congress should cut pay 20%.

Tom asks Jon
This is who I am (From Texas, Naval Academy, MIT, GE, own own business).  Jon, who are you? (Family man with financial background.)

Jon asks Tom
Your plan for job creation.
TW Gov't off the back of business. Cut EPA by 90% because local government and business can't handle it. Corporate taxes should come down. The big impact is not big business, but small.

Tom asks Jon
Jon, you didn't vote for 8.5 years. Troubling you Didn't register to vote.
JG Not proud of. Wish I could change it, but I can't. Today I am fully committed. I have been up front about this.

Jon asks Tom
Health care. What do you specifically want to fix.
TW I want to get back to talking to my Doctor. Example of Dr in NYC shut down for offering 5 visits for $100.

Tom asks Jon
Job killing regulations and your desire to have one year moratorium on regs. Five examples?
JG Boston has moved their innovation to Europe.

Jon asks Tom
Insight into size of DOE and Pell Grants.
TW Rather have our kids going to local banks. Get it down locally. Followup: Out of state students.

Tom asks Jon
How have you shown leadership
JG I get along with despite groups. Local sports programs. Leadership at AIG. Show by actions.

Forgot to thank LRCC. Election about a country heading in the wrong direction. Losing American Exceptionalism. Serious times for us. Not going to leave this country less well off.

I have demonstrated a willingness to give back to the community. We can be great again. That is why I want to Washington.

Regards  —  Cliff

Debate Moderators

Law Professor Ann Althouse lists the Presidental/VP debate moderators (she got them from Drudge and then comments.

From the list of debate moderators I will probably not be watching, unless my wife watches and I am sitting near her in the house somewhere.

On the other hand, I will be at tonight's debate between Jon Golnik and Tom Weaver for the opportunity to run against sitting Congresswoman Niki Tsongas as the Republican candidate for the ass 3rd Congressional District come November.  The debate will be at 7:00 PM this evening, at the Lowell High School Little Theater.   The debate will be live streamed by The [Lowell] Sun, and, I believe, LTC.  There may even be a discussion of some issues important to the People of these United States.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Friends of Lowell High School advertise the LHS Little Theater as being on the second floor, above the cafeteria.  (50 Father Morissette Blvd, Lowell, Massachusetts 01852)

The American South, Reviewed

I didn't read the book, just the book review in the Wall Street Journal.  I think I will settle for the book review.

In summary, the review says we are a big nation and sometimes people from one section don't understand those from another.  It is worse when one has preconceived ideas and one is unwilling to relinquish them.  And so it is with author Chuck Thompson's Better Off Without 'Em:  A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession.  One question a manifesto for Southern secession poses is if we would have to build a wall to keep people from migrating to the this new South?

Read the review, it is sufficient.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Turning and Burning

Richard Fernandez, of the Belmont Club, goes all "air-to-air" on us with an analysis of Governor Romney's pick of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate—"Zoom and Boom vs Turn and Burn".  The last paragraph:
Was that a mistake?  Should Romney have chosen an ethnic candidate to play the ethnic game?  Or a woman to play the gender game?  Even though they might be qualified for the job?  Or has Mitt Romney understood the essentials and showed up with an F6F Hellcat where Tomasky was expecting an F4F Wildcat to emerge from the clouds?  The outcome of the choice will be revealed in November.
It is also the F-4 Phantom story.  Fight in the vertical, use God's "G".  And never get in a knife fight in a telephone booth.

But, here is the lede:
Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast says that Mitt Romney had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove he wasn’t an intellectually dead, boring white guy by standing up, just once, for his inner bipartisan self.  Instead he blew it by caving in to the radical right.  He could have come out and been cool for once; instead he stayed in the closet, clenched and constipated.  “Think of it:  The candidate will be running on his vice president’s ideas!  It’s a staggering thought.  Ryan might as well debate Obama this October, and Romney can square off against Biden.”
I leave the rest to your own pursuit.

In case I have been too subtle, I would have been happy with Condi Rice or Mitch Daniels or Tim Pawlenty, but I am very happy with Paul Ryan.  Governor Romney didn't blow it.  He done good.

Regards  —  Cliff

Syria Not Black and White

From the Wall Street Journal is an article on how the fall of the Assad Regime might impact minorities in Syria.  Here is an example:
"Many Christians in Syria believe that there's no alternative to the Bashar Assad regime," says Father Dall'Oglio.
As Americans we, by and large, understand about minorities, but this problem in Syria is very serious by our standards.  Think of it as a biodiversity issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

It May Never End

Early yesterday I linked to an article from The New Yorker on Governor Romney's pick for his running mate.  (Didn't that use to be something that was fought out on the floor?  Even Harry Truman, who FDR wanted, took two ballots.)  From the dozens and dozens of comments, I thought this was the most interesting:
The author didn't write that.  This article can only happen because of the help from the government, or the Obama Reelection Committee
Posted 8/11/2012, 8:48:38am by JoeKlip
Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Should I have used a smiley, so you few, you happy few, you band of brothers, knew that it was humor?
PPS:  Did I need to put a citation for that ripoff of Wm Shakespeare?  After the Fared Zakaria suspension from Time and CNN I am a little concerned.
PPPS:  That too was an attempt at humor.

CNN Takes a Hit, Probably Misses It

At this post over at the Althouse blog is a focus on the family of Representative Paul Ryan, but it also has this little item on CNN:
Speaking of Googling, CNN can't bother to do the most basic Googling.  I just heard it say that Ryan is from a "small town" in Wisconsin.  Janesville isn't a small town!  It's a small city, with a population over 60,000.  It takes 2 seconds to discover that.  If you don't bother to get the little, easy things right, why should we ever trust you? Of course, we don't. Speaking of small... CNN ratings are way down
But, back to Janna Ryan, she is originally from Oklahoma and is (or was) a tax attorney.  I wonder if she knows either Professor Elizabeth Warren or Representative Michele Bachmann?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Ryan Threat

Iowa Hawk tweets:
Paul Ryan represent[s] Obama's most horrifying nightmare:  math.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Nominee and the Base

In my previous post, with the facetious title, I mentioned reporter Ryan Lizza from The New Yorker, and his attack on Representative Paul Ryan as Governor Romney's choice for the Vice Presidential nomination.  Here is Mr Lizza's last paragraph in his current piece on the nomination of the Vice President:
Romney’s choice of Ryan will undoubtedly be criticized as capitulation to the right, and this pick does seem to demonstrate that Romney is not able or willing to distance himself from the base of his party.  But the good thing about the Ryan pick is that the Presidential campaign will instantly turn into a very clear choice between two distinct ideologies that genuinely reflect the core beliefs of the two parties.  And in that sense, Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan is good news for voters.
One wonders why one would be a nominee if one did not, in some way, support the base of one's party?  I am not for rules that say we throw out of the party those who cross party lines from time to time.  (I am an insurgent here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and thus I am always looking for help, even part time help.)  Why would Republicans want Governor Romney as their candidate if he wasn't a Republican.  In a way it isn't about winning, to win, but about putting forward an agenda to give the People a choice.

Regards  —  Cliff


For one thing, Ryan has no significant private-sector experience.
That comment on Representative Paul Ryan from The New Yorker.  I will grant you the standard used by reporter Ryan Lizza is Governor Romney himself, but still, it seems a strange comment, given the background of our sitting President.

But, he is from Janesville.

Congratulations, Representative Ryan.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Where even Governor Sarah Palin had more experience in 2008.

The New Yorker Weighs In.

The New Yorker is a serious magazine, for serious people (well, it does have a Democratic Party drift to it, but then we are talking serious people, not those folks who go to Tea Parties).

In its 13 & 20 August issue (yes, this is the pseudo-European August break for the staff), Kelefa T Sanneh explains that it is really all about taxes.  The writer first talks about the Roanoke speech:
Obama told the crowd about the importance of infrastructure and manufacturing, and he promised to help the middle class while reducing the deficit.  He also indulged in some mockery of “wealthy, successful Americans” who overestimate their own abilities.  “I’m always struck by people who think, Well, it must be because I was just so smart,” he said, smiling.  “There are a lot of smart people out there.” Entrepreneurial success was a team effort, he argued...
Then he mentions President Obama's response to the response of the Republicans.
...Obama hastened to explain that he hadn’t meant to call entrepreneurs undeserving of their success.  In a follow-up video, he said, “Of course Americans build their own businesses”—pronouncing “Of course” in that slightly plaintive tone that politicians use when stating the obvious, as penance for having previously misstated it.
And, the writer tells us, Governor Romney "concede that successful businesses don't exist in isolation.

But, the point of the article is that it is really all about taxes and the Bush Tax cuts.  I did think the phrasing "Obama, seeking to repeal George W Bush's tax cuts for top earners..." was a little strange.  It seems closer to the target to say that he wishes to only extend the tax cuts for those who are not top earners.


I would be for tax increases, Grover Norquist be damned, IF I thought that the money would go to pay down the debt, but I fear it would just encourage more spending.  We have gotten used to living beyond our means and a tax increase would just extend the margin.

Regards  —  Cliff

Life Is Good

So declares Fraser Nelson, writing in Thursday's Daily Telegraph.  His positive outlook contrasts with the normal doom and gloom from governments, think tanks and "individual thinkers".  And, he serves up this quote to show that the pessimists have always been with us.
The world is in a rush and is now getting close to its end.
Archbishop Wulfstan of York, 1014
I will grant you that a case can be made that the Archbishop was actually being optimistic in anticipating the end times.

Here is the kernel of Mr Nelson's argument:
Governments may be having a hard time of it, struggling with debt they ought not to have taken on.  Noisy pressure groups who seek government funding may also believe that the sky is falling in.  But a clear-headed analysis of the facts reveals something rather extraordinary.  The crash has not even retarded, let alone halted, human progress.  The world has never been richer, healthier, freer or more equal than it is today.
Mr Nelson finishes it off talking about the Queen.
This was, in a roundabout way, the point the Queen made when she addressed the United Nations two years ago.  She had witnessed incredible change, she said, and much of it for the better.  But weekly audiences with a dozen prime ministers seem to have left her with a clear idea about who makes things better.  “Many of these sweeping advances have come about not because of governments, committee resolutions, or central directives – although all these have played a part,” she said.  The improvements came simply “because millions of people around the world have wanted them”.

The Queen was too polite to spell it out:  don’t listen too hard to the politicians.  It will just depress you.  They do their best, and sometimes even help things, but play a minor role in the development of nations.  A country is not shaped by manifestos or five-year plans, but by the courage and ingenuity of its people.  And the Olympics, a glorious festival of human achievement, is far closer to what’s really happening out there.
And a nice tribute to the Olympics.

I would also like to note that Mr Nelson manages to break each of his paragraphs down into several sentences, as a kindness to his readers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, August 10, 2012

Romney Strategy Critiqued

Over at Commentary writer John Podhoretz says "Romney's Strategy Isn't Working".

He may well be correct.  It is possible that the Team thought that the economy and governance in general was so outrageously bad that all that had to do to win was stand there and avoid unforced errors.  With Fox News reporting that President Obama has a lead in the polls, and Governor Romney's unfavorables are up, this may not be the winning approach.

However, it isn't over until it is over.  Just ask Harry.

Regards  —  Cliff

What The President Might Have Been Saying

As I have listened to the clip from President Obama's Roanoke speech, I have wondered if what he might have been talking about was the fact, which surface a couple of decades ago, that many fortunes were made, based upon slaves and the slave trade, including here in New England.  When the President says "You didn't build that" he is echoing the words of others who have said that many long standing fortunes in New England were based on slavery, even down to these days.

I am one of those who recognizes this debt to our past, although I don't see it as the absolute explanation for our economic success as a nation.  Recognizing the evil of slavery, I would be happy to pay reparations.  That is, I would be happy if we could find someone with the stature and authority to issue absolution and make this issue go away for ever.

On the other hand, President Obama is on record as opposing reparations and calling for helping all the poor in this nation, with things like a college education.

This take on the President's speech—that it is about the fruits of slavery—suggests that all of us need to have a better understanding of our nation's economic history.  Also, this is a different spin than that put forward by Professor Elizabeth Warren.

I still think the President's speech runs orthogonal to our American experience of how things happen, but this explanation does call our attention to the mistakes of our past.  The founding of our nation, back to the early 1600s, includes both good and bad.  We should celebrate the good and acknowledge and repent of the bad.

Regards  —  Cliff

Targeted Killing in Afghanistan

The Guardian has a piece titled "Britain faces legal challenge over secret US 'kill list' in Afghanistan:  Afghan man who lost relatives in missile strike says UK role in supplying information to US military may be unlawful".  The reporter is Nick Hopkins and the publication date is Thursday 9 August 2012.  So some Brit lawyers are representing a man who lost five relatives in a drone attack—an attack that might have hit the wrong targets.

Given that the drone was a US asset, this eventually tracks back to us.

My question is if the lawyers have located equivelent Taliban offices, where inquiries can be made as to the legitimacy of targets for acid throwing, IEDs and suicide bombers.  Are all the targets legitimate under international law?

In the mean time, yes, UK and US Government authorities need to be held to the highest standards in ordering DrOne attacks.

Yes, let the lawyers proceed, but first let a rapacious press go after those lawyers regarding the flip side of this question.  Then, when good answers have been provided, let the lawyers go forth.

Regads  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Commissioner Tom Wirtanen will be on City Life (LTC Channel 8 in the AM) tomorrow and while the show is for Dracut, where the Commissioner had a law practice for a decade, the Host, George Anthes, may try to steer the conversation around to the LRCC By-Laws.  I would note that the revisions are still in development.

Regards  —  Cliff

Greece Facing Employment Cuts

The New York Times has a piece (exclusive from Reuters) on Greece cutting 40,000 civil servants, out of a total of 700,000.  That is a cut of almost 6%.  This was a cut previously rejected by the Government, but now needed to sustain external economic help.

Greece has a population of 11.3 million people, as opposed to the United States, with 314.1 million.  That means the Greek population is 3.6% of ours (frankly, I was surprised).  It also means that a similar US layoff of government sector workers, based on population, would be around 1.1 million.  That would be a big slug.

But, this is against the background provided in the lede:
Latest data on Thursday showed the jobless rate climbed to 23.1 percent, with nearly 55 percent of those aged 15-24 out of work, a desperate situation that fed into the popularity of anti-bailout parties in Greek elections this year.
Things are not going well in the EU.  And the new French top bracket is a 75% income tax.  And, with what is left over they buy stuff with a 21.1% VAT, which may revert to a mere 19.6% (to be fair, some items are taxed at a lower rate and items from the pharmacy and some newspapers are taxed at a 2.1% VAT rate).

And bad as it is for Greece, what are the long term implications for the US?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Per Wikipedia, VAT "differs from the sales tax in that, with the latter, the tax is collected and remitted to the government only once, at the point of purchase by the end consumer.  With the VAT, collections, remittances to the government, and credits for taxes already paid occur each time a business in the supply chain purchases products."

"Does America want to be Mitt Romney's client?"

Law Professor Ann Althouse talks about what Governor Romney might be thinking about for advancing our nation economically.  Here is the quote she took from the article to which she links.
If a client invites you in and is ready to pay a lot of money for your counsel, it is not because you know their business better than they do. Of course, they know their business better than I ever would.  But they’re looking for someone to understand their business challenges in a new light.  And that presents an analytical challenge which is steep and exciting.  And I love the thinking and the analyzing as much as anything. 
I understand his point.  Having done, in my time, analysis for money, I agree with the sentiment.

Later in the blog post she talks about the five things Governor Romney sees as important for reviving the our economy.
Any nation that wants to have good jobs and rising wages knows that the answer is to have, if you will, a strategy based on the five principles that form the basis of my economic policy. First, take advantage of our energy resources; two, provide the skills that our workers need through adult education and great schools; three, get trade to work for us by clamping down on cheaters like China and also opening up new markets for goods, like Latin America; four, taking steps to get America to a balanced budget; and five, being a champion of small business by holding down taxes on small business, getting regulation to work for small business, and getting health-care costs under control.
As I am currently reading The New Geography of Jobs, I think there should be specific emphasis on "innovation", although I think the bits and pieces are there.

Regards  —  Cliff

Registering Welfare Recipients

Inside baseball, taxpayer funded, boondoggle, reported at Legal Insurrection.

Mentioned as exposing who was involved in this was Rob Eno.  Didn't he used to be a member of the LRCC?

I would like to be straight here.  I would rather lose an election than see legitimate voters not registered.  On the other hand, legitimate voters should show some interest in being registered.  Same on voting itself.  To paraphrase H L Mencken,
Progressivism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy just the way they are.
But, then, he also said:
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
He was such a cynic.

It is not that a crime has been committed, but that the limits to which the campaign is willing to go may not exist.  I find that to usually be dangerous.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I am not as cynical as H L Mencken, quoted above, or John Steele Gordon, quoted at InstaPundit, who wrote recently:  "Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left:  That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions.  Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them."  I give you What's The Matter With Kansas?