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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Priviledge Test

For John, BLUFAll things are relative.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Althouse blog is a link to a Buzz Feed quiz to determined if you are "Privileged".  For those of you who actually take the test and want to know how I did, for comparison, 59.

I saw a comment from Renee—our Renee the Blogger, from here in Lowell, I assume—about "are your parents still married".  Number one indicator of success in the US.

Here is a comment from "Illuninati":

I answered as honestly as possible and scored 35 on the test.  The test put up a big red block that said "You're not Privileged".  Perhaps that score has something to do about growing up in Rwanda.

That being said, in many ways that test is BS.  One question should be, "Were you born in the United States?".  If the answer is "yes" then you automatically go to the top of the list as one of the most privileged people in the world.

Another prescient comment.

"I checked both the "I am white" and "I have been in a room where I was the only person of my race" boxes. "

Me too. Many times. Somebody has lived a very sheltered life.

And me.  Phantom back seat school roommate at Davis Monthan AFB.  My Chinese American girl friend.  And Bill Sukahara when he was the Assistant Scheduler at the Big 22 in the late 1960.  Yes, some people are living very sheltered lives.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

SecState Kerry's Position

For John, BLUFAvoid empty threats.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Charles Krauthammer—"Kerry should Resign".

A firestorm broke out among congressional Republicans Monday over Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly saying Israel could become an "apartheid state,"
From Fox News.  There is the comment out there that this was said in private and thus is not "official" position.  Tell that to the NBA Commissioner.

From Senator Kerry:

I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes, so I want to be crystal clear about what I believe and what I don’t believe.
How exactly is he going to prevent this questioning?
  • Have the Diplomatic Security Service come and sit on me?
  • Get local, state and Federal authorities to pull me in for interrogation, like I was some videographer?
  • By sending his Brother to appeal to my sense of what is fair, politically?
  • By cleaning up his act?
The fourth option is his best hope.

As for the second item, remember the thesis of Law Professor Glenn Reynolds' Ham Sandwich Nation is that there are so many laws it isn't finding the criminals, but rather deciding which laws you violated.

And, again referencing the second bullet, it now appears, in EMails released, that the Administration was prepared to throw the First Amendment under the bus, either to keep the Arab Street quiet (thus letting a misperception of that Street drive our Foreign Policy and our Domestic police efforts) or to save an election (Shame, sir, Shame, I say.)

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sanctions and Russia

For John, BLUFRussia is "looking" good, but faces problems.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here The Wall Street Journal has an article on sanctions against Russia and the Standard and Poors downgrade of the Russian Central Bank.  The Russian Central Bank, in turn, raised its key lending rate to 7.5%.  The title is "Russian Rate Increase Follows Rating Cut as Ukraine Crisis Deepens".  Yes, all financial-speak, but it shows sanctions are working.

Retired Army Colonel and Managing Director of Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe, John Meyer, has a lot of insights in the following four paragraphs.  I commend them to you.

The following article from The Wall Street Journal is focused on the Russian central bank raising its key lending rate to 7.5%, following the rating downgrade by Standard & Poors (S&P) Ratings Services to one notch above junk status.   In the article, it mentions the effects of sanctions on the Russian economy, resulting in an outflow of cash, a fall in the ruble (making imports more expensive) and fueling inflation, and the lowering of the forecast of growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.5% to 0.5% (some economist think it could be lower).

The article is also an important indicator of the results we should be seeking in our actions against Russia over its takeover of Crimea and continued threats against Ukraine.   As the article conveys, there is a degree of confusion in the economic markets.   In general, everyone agrees Russia has a problem, but there is uncertainty over what to do about the problem.   In that regard, it is not unlike the confusion in the United States over how best to counter the great recession.   There are many options, but few clear choices.

In Russia, their center of gravity is President Putin and his well heeled cronies.   To this point, President Putin has been executing a plan, and by many measures, doing quite well.   Our response, through NATO and the European Union, or even unilaterally should be to overload Russia's decision making capability.   In tactical terms, we would be working within Russia's decision cycle.

It is with that in mind that sanctions should be applied fully, fast, and hard.   If additional sanctions come later, they can be heaped on the pile.   Attacking Russia's economic instrument of power will effect the high and the low in Russian society.   Add to that, as has been suggested on the Loop, a psychological attack on Mr. Putin's and crew's misuse of history and outright lies, and the diplomatic and political instruments of power are undermined.   Add the NATO response, even the light response of troops to Poland and aircraft on patrol, and Russia is faced with many variables all at once.   Even as the decision making circuits become overloaded, it will become obvious that the cost of continuing with whatever is Mr. Putin's plan is carrying a high and increasing cost, which will last long after any gain from military conquest, be it conventional or unconventional, or some combination.

The non-military instruments of national power are still very much in play.

Regards  —  Cliff

What Next for Russia

For John, BLUFRussia is king of the hill, but it isn't clear it is a stable hill.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is satire, written by retired Admiral James Stavridis and published by Foreign Policy Magazine.  The title is "Hey Boss, a Little Help Here?" and the subtitle is "In Putin's Russia, strategy drives you!"  It is a very short, fast read, but it does a good job of covering the waterfront.
FROM: Russian Strategic Planner
TO: President Vladimir Putin
SUBJECT: Request for Guidance
As we skim through the memo, passed the reflections on recent successes, we come to the request for guidance.  In short, what next, boss?
5. All of which brings me to my request for guidance.  Having burned our bridges to the West with Europe (well done, of course, and the prizes of Crimea, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia are clearly worth it), where shall we focus ourselves as we create the New Russia of the 21st century?  We have a strong base to build on with Belarus, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela, of course, but, frankly, most of them are unfortunately international pariahs and offer little in the way of trade and growth.  So where should we be focused?

6. I know that Karl Marx said that history always repeats itself, "first as tragedy, then as farce."  I am sorry to say that some in the West seem to think that our new geopolitical moves to control nations like South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Crimea, Moldova/Transnistria, and parts of Ukraine are hardly the Warsaw Pact of old; but they are a brave group of satellites that cannot be dismissed as a farce.

7. Hopefully the price of oil will stay high, your PSA will stay low, and we will continue to dominate the news cycle!

8. We anxiously await your guidance!

Exactly!  Where to next, or is this actually just a geostrategic cul de sac?

There is a line that sometimes applies in situations like this.  "Don't just do something — Stand there."  Notwithstanding the criticism President Obama is receiving, his best approach may be to steadily apply sanctions and to avoid forcing President Putin into a corner.  Nothing to be gained from President Putin feeling the caged animal.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Admiral Stavridis knows the territory, having surved as NATO's 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR, June 2009 - May 2013) and currently serving as the 12th Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University [down county], amazingly, the oldest school in the United States dedicated solely to graduate studies in international affairs.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mark Fisher's Day In Court

For John, BLUFSubvert the current paradigm.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It is still an open question as to if the Republicans here in the Commonwealth will have a primary contest for governor this fall.  We know Charlie Baker got enough votes at the State Convention, a couple of weeks ago.  What we don't know is if Mark Fisher got enough votes.

From The Lowell Sun is this State House News Service item from Reporter Andy Metzger, "Fisher ballot-access suit heads to trial June 18".

BOSTON -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher's ballot access lawsuit against his party will go to trial June 18, according to a Wednesday ruling.

Front-running Republican candidate Charlie Baker received a sizable majority of the delegate vote at the GOP's March convention and, according to party officials, securing the party's endorsement and bouncing Fisher from the September ballot.

In the court ruling, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins said the facts alleged in Fisher's lawsuit indicate the party did not follow proper procedures when it determined Fisher had not received the 15 percent of the delegate vote necessary to continue in his campaign.

"No case cited by the parties goes so far as to hold that the constitution entitles party officials to deny a candidate ballot access on such facts - by violating an unambiguous party rule (Rule 6.1) and by arbitrarily changing their interpretation of the rules," Wilkins wrote, denying most of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee's move to dismiss the lawsuit.

I am not a lawyer, so maybe I am missing something, but I really liked this part.

"The constitutional rights of association belong to the Party and its delegates - not to party officials who, accepting the allegations of the complaint, acted contrary to unambiguous Party Rules and in an arbitrary and capricious manner."
Ah, to be a teacher of Government.

While it is possible that allowing this case to proceed is an evil plot by Democrat apparatchik, the cleaning value, from the perspective of those of us in the Grass Roots will be tremendous.  If Mark Fisher Republicans and Charlie Baker Republicans can unite after the primary we have a good shot at the corner office.

Regards  —  Cliff

Godwin's Law Illinois

For John, BLUFThere are limits.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This item is from The Washington Free Beacon, via Fox News, by Reporter Adam Kredo.  The title is "Dem Gov Wonders Whether Black Republicans Are Like Jewish Nazis".  That would be Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is in some hot water with the Jewish community after his campaign tweeted—and then quietly deleted—several messages urging backers to read an article comparing black Republican voters to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.
Is in some hot water?  It should be a lot of hot water.
Some in the Chicago Jewish community say that they were outraged by Quinn’s support of the Nazi rhetoric, which was disseminated over Passover, the holiday marking the ancient Jewish people’s release from slavery.
OK, so I can understand the outrage from the Jewish Community.

But, what about Black outrage over this idea that some Blacks are Nazis.  This is suggesting that Black Republicans are the same as the Kapos or, while not so bad, the Sonderkommandos.  Pretty low rent.

But, this logic leads to the badly flawed idea that all Republicans are Nazis.

Frankly, I need to see a lot more repudiation of Govern Quinn and his remarks, and not just from Jewish Groups.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dem War on Women

For John, BLUFIn the long run it is easier to be square.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is from The Instapundit, who likes pointing out hypocrisy.
RULES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE:  War On Women:  Major Dem Donor Pleads Guilty To Beating Girlfriend, Gets Community Service.
Remember, the same trap awaits Republicans who believe the rules are for the little people.

As people of influence proceed through life they can begin to accumulate little infractions that soon build up, and since they see no consequences for these infractions they begin to believe the are bullet-proof.  And, if they are people of influence they are, in fact, to some extent bullet-proof, but it likely won't last for ever.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Election Commission Meeting Slip

For John, BLUFIt isn't so much when they meet as that they meet.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Ms Eda Jane Matchak has EMailed out that the City has had to reschedule tonight's meeting of the Election Commission?  Instead, they will be meeting on Wednesday, the 30th of April, at 6 PM.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Balancing the Story

For John, BLUFYou want something close to "fair and balanced?  Go to Fox.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Some chap named Clifford R Krieger took on The [Lowell] Sun Sunday OpEd writer, Michael Goldman, who took a wide spectrum swipe at the Republican Party and Republican Candidates a couple of days ago.  Mr Krieger's item cn be found here. Here is the lede:
Michael Goldman, whose commentary appears in The Sunday Sun, is no Maureen Dowd, but he is clever and does show some humorous insight. : He does tend to be a bit one-sided, even if he is a self-described Democrat.  For example, let us take a slightly different view of his recent column, "Know when to vote for GOP."
In the middle are reference to things going on across the nation that just don't make it in the Main Stream Media, and thus don't come to the attention of Mr Goldman, who seems to be living in a Democrat Bubble.

The last line reads:

If you scored less than five points, stick to reading Michael Goldman.
This is a little unfair to Mr Michael Goldman, who is, I am sure, a patriotic American.  I think it should read:
If you scored five or less points, stick to reading Michael Goldman.
All in good fun.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, April 21, 2014

Medical Homelessness

For John, BLUFObamacare has not fixed the medical system.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Some from the Democrat side ask for the Republican Plan for Health Care.  Fair enough.

My plan, and I am a Republican, thus a Republican Plan, is to keep the pre-existing insurance system, with expanded coverage for those who can't afford insurance, and to add, via the Public Health Service, a large number of health care providers, to include physicians, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners.  My estimate from months ago was 80,000 in total, to cover low density areas, be they rural or urban.  Frankly, I find that to be the big hole in the PP&ACA.

From CBS San Francisco we have this article on "Medical Homelessness".

Rotacare, a free clinic for the uninsured in Mountain View, is dealing with the problem firsthand.

Mirella Nguyen [who] works at the clinic said staffers dutifully helped uninsured clients sign up for Obamacare so they would no longer need the free clinic.

But months later, the clinic’s former patients are coming back to the clinic begging for help.  “They’re coming back to us now and saying I can’t find a doctor, “said Nguyen.

Here is the nub of the problem:
Dr. Kevin Grumbach of UCSF called the phenomenon “medical homelessness,” where patients are caught adrift in a system woefully short of primary care doctors.
So, where is the plan from Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi to fix this problem?  Crickets.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  One of the Seven Uniformed Services of the Federal Government (i.e., PHS, USAF, NOAA, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Globe Stumbles

For John, BLUFRespect for the ideas of others seems to be slipping.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Today's edition of The Boston Globe has a long article in the "K" Section (Ideas) refuting that there was an Easter Resurrection.  The name of the article is "What happened on Easter?"  The writer is Ms Ruth Graham and it is an interview with Scholar Bart Ehrman.

So, on the highest holy day of the Christian Faith, in a year when Western and Eastern Easter come at the same time, their Lordships at The Globe think it is OK to put up a pretty long item (page K1 and K3), debunking the faith of millions.  I am now waiting to see them do something like it regarding Islam, but I am not holding my breath.  I don't recall them being too strong on how wrong it was for the Department of State to condemn the videographer out in California who made the 15 minute clip talking about the oppression of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

I suspect The Globe suffers from The Yale Disease.

But, it is Easter so we should be open to forgiving.

And, yet, it is tacky to publish it on Easter.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The On-Line title is "A provocative new theory of Easter".  Maybe they think Christians don't do the Internet.
  Some may recall this incident by remembering how the Department of State tried to blame the Benghazi imbroglio on this video, rather than the planned attack that it was.  National Security Advisor Susan Rice hit five prime time news shows with this bit of disinformation/maskirovka.

Happy Easter

That is it for this fine Sunday morning.

Oh, my youngest Brother sent an early EMail that just said "He's Up".

Says it all.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Iranian Terrorist to the UN Hq in NYC

For John, BLUFThe President is a hypocritpolitician, but doing the right thing here.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I didn't want to cite The Washington Examiner, but The International New York Times failed to mention the use of a dreaded "Signing Statement".  You know, that terrible disruption of the Constitution that President George W Bush used to use, and about which Senator Barack Obama of Illinois used to complain.

From the Washington Examiner article:

President Obama on Friday signed into law a bill authored by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz that would bar an Iranian diplomat from entering the United States, but immediately issued a statement saying he won't enforce it.

[President] Obama decided to treat the law as mere advice.  "Acts of espionage and terrorism against the United States and our allies are unquestionably problems of the utmost gravity, and I share the Congress's concern that individuals who have engaged in such activity may use the cover of diplomacy to gain access to our Nation," Obama said in his signing statement.

"Nevertheless, as President [George H.W.] Bush also observed, "curtailing by statute my constitutional discretion to receive or reject ambassadors is neither a permissible nor a practical solution."  I shall therefore continue to treat section 407, as originally enacted and as amended by S. 2195, as advisory in circumstances in which it would interfere with the exercise of this discretion."

[President] Obama frequently criticized President George W. Bush for such signing statements during his 2008 campaign. “Congress's job is to pass legislation," he said, as The Daily Beast recalled. "The president can veto it or he can sign it.”

“It is unconscionable that, in the name of international diplomatic protocol, the United States would be forced to host a foreign national who showed a brutal disregard for the status of our diplomats when they were stationed in his country,” Cruz said when he introduced the bill.

The legislation was directed at Hamid Abutalebi, whom Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tapped as U.N. ambassador, because of his alleged role in the 1979 student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.  Abutalebi insists his role was limited to translation and negotiation.

Well, I can see Senator Cruz's point, and the President's.  And I am glad the President is not letting himself be bound by previous statements and commitments.  Besides, this could be the kind of thing that might seal a larger deal.

Here is the take from Legal Insurrection.

Regards  —  Cliff

Texas Governor Candidate in Trouble

For John, BLUFThe best we can hope to do is ensure turnover.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Remember Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, the great hope of the Democrat Party, earlier this year?  Their nominee for Governor, a job that, we were told some 14 years ago, is worthless.

We now have this item from PJ Media, "Wendy Davis’s Deals Are The Subject Of FBI Corruption Investigation".

If she was a Republican I would assume it was really all about the IRS trying to take away the tax exempt status of this or that organization, but she isn't.  And, I hope for her sake, it is the Easter Triduum after all, that she is innocent.

At least she is no Leland Yee.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

That Top 0.1% Problem

For John, BLUFIt isn't the top 1%, it is the top 0.1%.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The question of wealth inequality is out there, from the Occupy Wall Street Movement to French economists.  Because it is catchy and easy to grasp the expression "Top 1%" is used to capture the issue.  Truth being the first victim, so here we have the real number being the Top 0.1% of people representing this yawning gap in wealth.  And this morning from the Quartz site we have this:
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century went on sale in the US this week, and its central message can seem like a prophecy of doom.  It is that capital tends to accumulate faster than the economy grows in the long run; wealth thus concentrates in the hands of a few; and the egalitarian, upwardly mobile America of the mid-20th century was more a historical aberration than the natural order of things.  Through their research into income inequality, Piketty and his colleague Emmanuel Saez provided the “1% vs the 99%” narrative that drove the Occupy Movement.

But what’s often missed, as Quartz’s Tim Fernholz found out when he talked to Piketty, is that the 42-year-old French economist is actually rather optimistic.  To those who say that a global wealth tax, his proposed solution to inequality, is something that Americans would never accept, he retorts that nobody in 1910 thought the US would ever have income taxes, or more recently, that Swiss bank secrecy could ever be broken.  A wealth tax, he suggests, could replace a tax on property, making it popular with middle-class homeowners and giving politicians a lever to push it through.

But whether Piketty’s optimism is misplaced, or even whether he is right, matters less than the fact that, by framing the problem in these clear terms, he has enabled a public debate.  “Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we’ll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to,” wrote Paul Krugman, who knows a thing or two himself about changing economic discourse.  Another legendary economist, Paul Samuelson, once said, “I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws, or crafts its treatises, if I can write its economics textbooks.”  If Piketty’s work influences the terms in which politicians fight their battles, he too may end up having more influence than many of them.—Gideon Lichfield

OK, I don't have a lot of respect for Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, who, per Gawker, just took a $225,000 pa job teaching one course a semesteryear, beginning year two.  I wonder what all the underpaid Adjunct Professors think of that?

Here is a Quartz ten question interview with Author Thomas Piketty.

I am not so sure I can get all the worked up about the super-rich.  My focus is on those who just scraping by, and how we can improve their lot, and on those who have fallen into some sort of poverty trap, where their moral outlook is one of living off the work of others, and how we can help them develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and for others.  Those are two different points and people fall all along a spectrum from one point to the other.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, April 18, 2014

Regional and Cultural Differences

For John, BLUFNot everything called a rose smells as sweet.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here I am, sitting in the Parking Lot of the Hanscom Air Force Base Base Exchange, eating a plain bagel with cream cheese.  I realize that the Dunkin Donut version of Cream Cheese does not taste like Philly, and isn't as good.

I wonder why that is?

Regards  —  Cliff

Sen Markey vs the Fax Machine

For John, BLUFThese things happen from time to time.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun was an article on page 2, by Reporter Andy Metzger, "Markey says he'll secure transit funds".  In the article, our Junior/Maryland Senator, Ed Markey, says:
A member of Congress since 1976 when he was first elected to the U.S. House, Markey put his D.C. longevity in perspective, noting that a once-futuristic piece of telecommunications technology had seen its dawn and dusk during his years in office.

"America had yet to invent a fax machine.  There were no fax machines," Markey said.  "I've now been in Congress and around so long, today there are no fax machines.  That's how long iI've been in Congress.

That quote suggests that either (A), Senator Markey has been in Congress much longer than he claims or (B), Al Gore had not yet invented the Fax Machine in 1976.  There is the alternative, that Senator Markey doesn't really understand the story of the Fax Machine, which raises the question of what else he doesn't understand.  But what would that say about Commonwealth voters?

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  When I started typing up this item I had a PS that said that I would give you a link to the story in The [Lowell] Sun, but while their Tech folks say the site is up it isn't.  Reminds me of the story about Bill Gates at the rifle range, explaining not hitting the target.  "It's leaving this end OK."  The good news is the site is back up and running.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

More on New York Times OpEd Wednesday

For John, BLUFThe Main Stream Media owes us better.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is the short blog post by US Army Major Crispin Burke.  An interesting aside is that he is posting on Medium, a site for those who need more than 140 characters to express their views, but who don't wish to have their own web log (blog).

Racists in the ranks? Not in this Army.

New York Times article makes a dubious—and dangerous—link between hate crimes and military service.

Crispin J. Burke

Service members and veterans have long borne the burden of the myth of the “dangerous veteran” — so much so in recent years that it’s become a running joke at The Duffel Blog, a satirical military news site.

Today’s New York Times took that trope to a new level, with Kathleen Belew’s implication that US service members and veterans are predisposed to participate in extremist at supremacist groups, based on this weekend’s tragic shootings by a Vietnam veteran in Kansas.

I hate to break it to Ms. Belew, but the US Army is hardly a haven for men like Frazier Glenn Miller and his ilk.

It’s worth noting that the US military was one of the first institutions in America to desegregate; nearly a decade later, paratroopers from the US Army escorted the “Little Rock Nine” to their first day of racially-integrated school. Today, racial minorities are well-represented within the ranks of the Active-Duty Army, making up 38% of the Active Duty Force (based on FY12 numbers), and a quarter of the Army’s four-star generals.

The military’s basic training process tends to drill racism out of the ranks. Thrown into an environment with recruits from all different backgrounds and clad in the same uniforms, America’s newest Soldiers quickly have to learn to work together to survive basic training. I’ve served over half of my twelve years of service in the former Confederate states—but not once have I seen a Confederate bumper sticker on the back of a Soldier’s vehicle. In fact, the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania—just a short drive from Gettysburg—recently came under fire for removing some pieces of artwork depicting Confederate Soldiers. One Army officer even went so far as to suggest rechristening posts named for Confederate officerssuch as Forts Bragg and Hood.

Make no mistake—if there were extremists in the ranks, commanders would be quick to give them the boot; the Army’s regulations give them plenty of latitude to do so. In fact, that actually happened in the case of Frazier Miller, who was discharged from the military in the late 70s for his extremist ideology. Yet we still refer to Miller as a “veteran”, just as we would someone who left the military under honorable conditions.

Finally, understand that Mr. Miller represents just one of over 20 million veterans in America—roughly the entire population of the state of New York. One person does not make a trend.

I think that Major Burke gives it to us the way most Army folks, most military folks, see it.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Good Civil Servants

For John, BLUFThe good often go unpraised.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday in this blog I was down on some Government Workers, specifically at the US Department of State.  And, rightfully so.

On the other hand, most people engaged in Government Service are positive and hard working.  There is my late Father and my two Brothers.  Each made differences.  My Father, who would have been 99 this April 4th, was the Chief of Safety at Long Beach Naval Shipyard when it set a world record for days worked without a lost time accident.  He did it by working with first level supervisors.  My two Brothers did important work in getting the Air Force good contracts for space operations, out at Los Angeles Air Force Station.

Yesterday I went to the local Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, to renew my drivers license.  My judgement is it was a smooth and efficient operation.  And a polite operations.  The Government Employees who had contact with me were a credit to their Department.

Did it take a while?  Yes, but numbers were called smoothly and quickly.  There was a good pace.  My time at "Number 4" was just a couple of minutes and then I was out the door.  The Clerk who served me was friendly and treated me like a human being, like a valued customer.

I say Thank You!

Regards  —  Cliff

Vets, Traumatized

For John, BLUFHow many do we marginalize, rather than absorb back into society.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

To understand this story you have to understand that The Duffel Blog is a satirical site poking fun at things related to national defense.  It is also good to keep in mind that US Representative Jim Moran (D-Va.) is actually supportive of Veterans.

The problem is, between the Fort Hood Shootings (all Vets have PTSD) and the Kansas City Shootings (all Vets are racist right wing terrorists), those associated with the military, active or retired tend to look askance as some of the reporting being done.

Here is the report in The Hill, on the posting at The Duffel Blog.  The Duffel Blog has Rep Moran introducing a fictitious bill that would require Veterans to notify their neighbors of their status and to do other things, marking them as just below pedophiles.

Regarding the Kansas City Shooting, the OpEd in Wednesday's edition of The New York Times leaves a lot to be desired.  By Post Doc Kathleen Belew, it is titled "Veterans and White Supremacy".  The lede is:

WHEN Frazier Glenn Miller shot and killed three people in Overland Park, Kan., on Sunday, he did so as a soldier of the white power movement:  a groundswell that united Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other fringe elements after the Vietnam War, crested with the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, and remains a diminished but potent threat today.
She then goes on to link Viet-nam vets and the Klan and neo-Nazis.  And to defend the Department of Homeland Securities 2009 broad brush report about Veterans and domestic terrorism.  And, showing a lack of in-depth research, she relies on Southern Poverty Law Center statistics to back up her ideas.  People I know who are connected with the military and paying attention are outraged.

Here is a piece by Military Times Staff Writer Jeff Schogol, "Veterans slam New York Times piece linking vets to hate groups".  Here is a sample.

Marine veteran Paul Szoldra, who writes for Business Insider, said he feels veterans are the last group in the U.S. that can be stereotyped.
Well, not just Vets.  Also old male Caucasians.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Even if they are Democrats who have run for office as Democrats.
  Its The Duffleblog so if you have sharp kids who read, show some discretion before sharing this.  I guess I would just say potential acronym warning.
  Actually, Oklahoma City was about Waco, which was about the Federal Government and its inability to handle this particular crisis situation.
  AKA, Old White Guys.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not Yet Stopping the Russians

For John, BLUFLikely more Russian land acquisition in Ukraine.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a look at the crisis in Ukraine, which is still ongoing, for those of you who have been distracted by taxes or Letterman's replacement or the new City Manager.

The item, "Deterring the Ukraineshluss?", posted by Professor Dan Nexon, at his blog Hylaean Flow, is partly extracted below:

Back at my old digs, Jeff Stacey wants the US and NATO to stop further Russian aggression against Ukraine:
Or has he? Will Putin seek further Ukrainian territory in the Russian-speaking east? Russian has had over 40,000 troops and sizable collection of military hardware massed near the border for weeks, and now a Russian fighter has buzzed a U.S. destroyer.  It should now be clear beyond a reasonable doubt that western conventional deterrence has not been restored, and the mere threat of further sanctions is essentially meaningless at this stage.

Far more costly economic sanctions are called for, but in days not weeks western allies need to step up aerial patrols and stage a NATO ground exercise in Poland, in order to establish credible deterrence.  A show of force is key to avoiding having to use force, and still achieve one’s objective.

Is military deterrence possible?  Probably not.

First, the balance of interests clearly favors Moscow.  At best, Ukraine constitutes a peripheral security interest for the United States.  Russia, on the other hand, views Ukraine as part of its core: as a country of dubious legitimacy sitting on the symbolic homeland of the Russian nation.  To consolidate economic and military control over Crimea, it needs additional Ukrainian territory — or, at the very least, guaranteed access through eastern and parts of southern Ukraine.

Finally, let me suggest that any discussion about Russia and Ukraine needs to take place within the context of clearly articulated arguments about US grand strategy.  Despite some genuflection in that direction, the tenor of debate so far — particularly from advocates of a more robust US response — involves vague handwaving toward ‘principles’ and broad ‘interests’ rather than anything resembling a sustained analysis. But that’s a topic for another day.
Isn't that the truth!

For us, as Americans, the question is, will President Putin stop at some logical point or will he go far enough to provoke the Ukraine Government into action, with the danger of drawing the rest of Europe into war, which means drawing us into war?  The sub-question is if the Obama Administration has any tool for convincing President Putin that the game is not worth the candle.

Which brings up the question of if British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was wrong in trying to find a balancing of interests that would have given Europe peace in the fourth decade of the last century.

Sure, this whole thing irritates me, but what do I suggest?  Try to dissuade.  Route 38 irritates me, but I am not going to advocate the destruction of dozens of houses from Douglas Road/Phoenix Avenue north to East Merrimack Street just to fix a main road that was never built to carry the load it does.  Ukraine is out of our lane and trying to save what remains is going to be very difficult, and risky, and should be avoided, while backstopping the rest of the nations in the area against Russian aggression.  Not doing something in Ukraine does not mean not doing something Estonia or Poland or Finland.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Dan Nexon, Georgetown University, has held fellowships at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation and at the Ohio State University's Mershon Center for International Studies.  During 2009-2010 he worked in the U.S. Department of Defense as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.

Filing Taxes

For John, BLUFBigger than the PP&ACA, the Tax Laws and IRS Rules.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Our local newspaper, The [Lowell] Sun, has a particularly cranky and humorless (and ignorant) Sunday OpEd writer, who a couple of weeks ago took Former SecDef Don Rumsfeld to task for his use of the expression "Unknown Unknows" (known in the 1960s as Unk Unks).

Apparently Mr Rumsfeld uses another part of the larger formulation to talk to the IRS, the "known unknown".  His letter can be found at the Tax Prof Blog, here.

From Mr Rumsfeld's letter:

This note is to alert you folks that I know that I do not know whether or not my tax returns are accurate, which is a sad commentary on governance in our nation’s capital.  I do hope that at some point in my lifetime, and I am now in my 80s, so there are not many years left, the U.S. government will simplify the U.S. tax code so that those citizens who sincerely want to pay what they should, are able to do it right, and know that they have done it right.
Mr Rumsfeld adds:
I should add that my wife of 59 years also knows that she does not have any idea whether or not our tax payments are accurate.
I am in the same boat as Mr Rumsfeld.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  A more modern formulation can be found here.

Having Your Passport Taken, by Uncle

For John, BLUFThe Government should treat Citizens like valued customers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Sigh…  Why does the Government have to act the way it does, abusing Citizens and leaving them in the dark?

From the magazine Mother Jones we have this article, "Can the US Government Confiscate a Citizen's Passport for No Apparent Reason?  It Just Did."  Here is the summation:

Nader el-Dajani answered the FBI's questions.  Now the State Department is withholding his passport.
Answered the FBI's question fully and was told not to worry.

Mr el-Dajani needs his passport to run his high tech security business.  He is facing a bind in the near future, caught in Bahrain without a passport (the US Embassy in Bahrain confiscated it) and facing deportation from Bahrain due to not having his travel documents.

This is a terrible way to tread a US Citizen.  Even if he is guilty of some crime, even of association with terrorists (say, like California State Senator Leland Yee), charge him or let him go, but don't harass him while conducting an investigation which may go nowhere.

Or is there some special rule that says naturalized Citizens can be treated less well?  I sure hope not.  We are all Citizens.  The ONLY difference is being President.  That should be the only difference.

I hope there is at least a big apology from the Department of State.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fighting Hate with Hate?

For John, BLUFWe should stop using "left" and "right" regarding politics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On Democracy Now, just now, there was clip where the Kansas City Jewish Center shooter, Mr Frazier Glenn Cross (or Miller), a Democrat, was categorized as being on the "right wing".  Which is it, or is there a deeper issue here that the Southern Poverty Law Center is unable or unwilling to address?

There is little doubt that Mr Cross is a murderer and someone who encourages hate against groups of people he does not respect.  This is not about that.  This is about how other folks use labels to try and spread hate against additional people, trying to shove them into an evil circle they would otherwise avoid.  Maybe Mr Mark Potok, of the SPLC, was just careless, but to me it just seems disingenuous, at best.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jay Carney Actually Appreciates Art

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

There has been some commentary about White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and they way he and his wife, Correspondent Claire Shipman, decorate their home.  There are comments out and about concerning Soviet Era Posters.  Frankly, some of them are pretty striking and interesting and possible conversation pieces.  On top of that, Mr Carney undertook a degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies at Yale, earning a cum laude BA.  Let us focus on the important stuff, not the question of what one hangs on one's walls.  Like the fact that he went to Yale, but can he sing the Wiffenpoof SongLike this version.

Regards  —  Cliff

Caesar's Wife and All That

For John, BLUFThe Senate Majority leader is an embarrassment, more than either of our Senators, or both of them together.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

When one is sliming the other side, it is important to keep one's own skirts clean, to be as Pure as Caesar's Wife.

However, there is the Dingy Harry Exception.

Hat tip to the Instapundit, who is tracking Senator Reid's protected, yet scurrilous, attacks on the Koch Brothers and his strange path from poverty to millions.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, April 14, 2014

Shootings of People

For John, BLUFThere are all sorts out there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This shooting out in Kansas was ugly in many ways, including the shooter, which one site described as:
Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., Kansas Jewish Murder Suspect, Made Democrat Congressional Bid in 2006

The suspect ran for office numerous times, but he started as a Democrat in 1984, running in the North Carolina gubernatorial primary.  After a number of other attempts at elected office, he returned home to the Democrat/Ku Klux Klan/Party in 2006, running in the Democrat primary for Missouri's 7th congressional district in 2006.  His candidacy had the far-left hate site Daily Kos freaking out, "Racist felon running for the Dem nomination in MO-7."

Obviously, the above site seems to also hold some extreme views.

There is no virtue or salvation in killing those you see as inferior.  It paints you as a little person and a sinner.  I figure no one knows for sure but you are likely to not find numerous virgins where you end up and it is likely to be an uncomfortable place; without repentance on your part.

Regards  —  Cliff

Dealing With Problem People

For John, BLUFDealing with Problem nations.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Dredged up by someone commenting on a Russian SU-24 FENCER buzzing the USS DONALD COOK, in the Black Sea.
Weak people get angry - Strong people forgive - Smart people ignore
I am working on being stronger and smarter.  So should the Obama Administration.

Regards  —  Cliff

  500 foot passes are not a big deal, especially if offset.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Revising the Second Amendment

For John, BLUFApparently, Retired Justice Stevens would deny you the right to a gun based on age.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Retired Associate Justice of the US Supreme court John Paul Stevens has a new book out (Six Amendments:  How and Why We Should Change the Constitution) and he is flogging it with an OpEd in The Washington Post.  The OpEd is headlined "Justice Stevens:  The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment."  Frankly, I didn't know it was broken.

But, first, a definition of the Militia.  As originally passed, and apparently still in force, it was a tax on Caucasian males, 18 through 44.  United States Statutes at Large/Volume 1/2nd Congress/1st Session/Chapter 33 (there is more, but this is sufficient for the point):

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia by the captain or commanding officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this act.
The Second Amendment as it reads today:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
As Justice Stevens would have it read:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.
I like it.  My only question is, will those of militia age have to buy their own M-16s, or are the various states going to issue them to every man jack of the proper age (and, I assume, every woman).  I assume appropriate securing gear and ammo will also be issued by the states.

In the Althouse blog Comments the Battle 0f Athens (1946) is mentioned.  The most recent time the People took up arms against a corrupt and oppressive government [in the United States].

Of course proposing a Constitutional Amendment is one thing and getting it passed is another.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Harvard and Global Climate Change

For John, BLUFYou know they are serious when the shoe pinches their toes.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Nation of Change we have this item, "93 Harvard Faculty Members Demand University Divest from Fossil Fuels".  The reporter is Ms Christina Sarich.  At least I assume she is a "Ms".  For her part she keeps referring to the President of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust with masculine pronouns, which just doesn't seem right.

Frankly, if the folks down County, in Harvard, are really serious about all this they should just cut themselves off from the Grid, leaving more for the rest of us in Middlesex County.  That is the kind of move that would signal that Harvard is really serious.  That is the kind of demand that would signal that the 93 Harvard Faculty Members are serious.  In the mean time it is all imaginary.  But, I expect, the 93 felt a warm glow after composing and signing the demands.

On the other hand, I don't think I get much benefit from their warm glow, as they likely don't read this blog or live here in the Belvidere.

Regards  —  Cliff

Future Friends

For John, BLUFYou can't save the whole world.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Kerry pouts".  In a Washington Post OpEd, Ms Jennifer Rubin shows some confusion as to who is a foreign policy realist (e.g., Senator McCain isn't) and who is not, but she does nail the situation when she talks about the hopes of the many in our foreign policy arena.
In a real sense the world view of the left — our enemies are just confused future friends who need to be told how their interests can really align with ours — is coming apart at the seams.  The irony is that the Obama officials have fancied themselves as “realists.”  The actual realists are John McCain and others who’ve been telling the administration for five years that its belief that most of the world’s problems result from cloddish U.S. action or misunderstanding or failure to talk earnestly with opponents is the stuff of never-never land.
Just as Tip O'Neill told us that all politics is local, so most foreign affairs problems are local.  And, as they are local, they are probably not something we can fix.

Here is an extract from a review of a new book on the war in Afghanistan, An Intimate War:  An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict 1978-2012.  This is a PhD thesis by Mike Martin, Captain, [British] Territorial Army (the Queen paid for it).

“Within the west,” says Martin, “we have this insurgency narrative.  That there is a legitimate government in Afghanistan, supported by the international community, and we do good things like democracy, women’s rights and counter-narcotics.  And on the other side of this binary narrative is the Taliban.  And they do bad things like throw acid in girls’ faces.”

But Martin says if you speak to the Helmandis, they understand the war in completely different terms.  “For them it’s a war between families and tribes and clans.  And it’s over things like land, water, poppy-smuggling routes.  Simple things like jealousy or how two cousins will fight over their inheritance of land from their grandfather.”

Our enemies are possible future friends, but at this point they aren't confused.  They think they know exactly what they are doing.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  No Kindle version yet.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Texas and Syria

For John, BLUFHuman patterns are pretty consistent over time.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The magazine Foreign Affairs has an article on "What the Texas Revolution and the Spanish Civil War Reveal About al Qaeda".  The author is Mr David Malet, who is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne.  He is also the author of Foreign Fighters:  Transnational Identity in Civil Conflicts.

Mr Malet makes the point in his article that the idea of foreign fighters is not new with the current Civil War in Syria, or even the Afghan fight against the Soviet Union.

Unlikely as it may seem, the transnational insurgents in the 1836 Texas Revolution, the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War, and the 1948 Israeli War of Independence inspired the development of the mujahideen in 1980s Afghanistan, from which the jihadi groups of the 2010s directly descend.
What is different is the reluctance of nations of origin for these volunteers to take them back.  Part of the reason is that nations like Saudi Arabia are not anxious to have their own revolution.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mozilla Is A Culture

For John, BLUFWhat is new is old.  There is nothing new under the sun.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In my previous post on this issue I noted that I was interested in knowing "the rest of the story".  What else was in the mix that caused Mozilla to drop Mr Brendan Eich as CEO.  Perhaps in the interest of full disclosure, I am a user of Mozilla's Firefox Web Browser on my PC.

While there have been several comments at the post, one came directly to me:

I think you answered you own question:  apparently the founding fathers decided that corporations have the same rights as any citizen, at least the court rulings recently would lead us to believe that.  They have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms and etc.  I guess.

So corporations, like Catholic schools, get to set guidelines of what social behavior is acceptable for employment, and corporations can set guidelines on what social behavior is appropriate.  It certainly isn't zealotry to tell your employees not to have abortions (Federal budget implementation does that), soon it won't be zealotry to tell them you won't pay for birth control and it is only a matter of time that they will be able to tell them not to use contraception and that they can't support oppose bans on gay rights.

Professor Reynolds and Mr. Sullivan seem like idiots:  blacklists? walks of shame?  Who called for that other than them?

I guess the "right to bear arms" was meant as a cynical dig, but I have had an armed rent-a-cop confiscate my camera film (so you know it was a long time ago, back when the DC-8 was new) on the outside of a fence on the West side of Lakewood Blvd.

I am not sure what is meant by "Federal budget implementation" banning employee abortions, but moving on, yes, employers have some rights.  The question is, is there a dividing line between what the employer must provide and what the employee must do.  I would expect that a Catholic School teacher who notoriously gets an abortion might face the ax.  On the other hand, if said teacher quietly has her problem taken care of, who will know and thus who will care?  "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)  Not all have felt the need to flaunt it.

As for declaring Professor Reynolds and Mr Sullivan idiots, I think the jury is still out.  And, besides, I have a lot of nominees ahead of them.

But, that brings us to the article in The International New York Times, by Farhad Manjoo, "Why Mozilla’s Chief Had to Resign", which can be found here.  The gist of the article is that Mozilla is a culture and not really a corporate entity.

In fact, Mozilla goes right back to our Puritan roots.  They are a City upon a Hill.  They know the truth.  No Quakers, no High Church folks and definitely no Catholics.  And no one opposed to gay marriage.

Oh, my position?  The Government does contracts.  Rabbis, Imams, Ministers, Priests do marriages.  The Government should have contracts for all relationships where value is exchanged.  I would even have Common Law Marriage for those who cohabit and conceive and produce a child.  But that is just me.

As for Mr Brendan Eich, he may be traumatized, but I suspect his skills will carry him on to future successes.  As for Mozilla, will they evolve or will they turn in upon themselves and die out?  Puritan Massachusetts evolved.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going."

Friday, April 4, 2014


For John, BLUFZealots are always a problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I have been following this issue for the last day or so and was unsure about the point, but apparently Mozilla the firm has strong views on social issues and has recently decided that Mr Brendan Eich, formerly the Chief Technology Officer and recently the Chief Executive Officer, did not conform to the position of the Board, at least with regard to gay marriage.

Late last evening (2203), Law Professor Glenn Reynolds published a blog post with the heading Gleichschaltung, and a reference to the issue:

Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich forced to resign for supporting traditional marriage laws. To be clear, for holding, in 2009, the view of gay marriage that Barack Obama held, instead of the view that Dick Cheney held.
Here is the announcement from Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker:
Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn't live up to it.  We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it's because we haven't stayed true to ourselves.  We didn't act like you'd expect Mozilla to act.  We didn't move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We're sorry. We must do better.
I wonder where Mr Brendan Eich fits in here?  Of course President Obama has evolved his position over the last five years and apparently Mr Eich has not.  Now he is being run out of a job for his lack of evolution.  Professor Reynolds says:
As someone who was publicly supporting gay marriage even before Dick Cheney, I find this degree of bullying and blacklisting repellent. I’m beginning to think that the only thing the left found wrong with the 1950s blacklists was that they were aimed at . . . the left.
Professor Reynolds then quotes from and agrees with Mr Andrew Sullivan:
Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame?  Why not the stocks?  The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society.  If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out.  If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.
Professor Reynolds:
Yeah, pretty much. Disgraceful.
I am hoping that some "Paul Harvey" is going to show up and provide us with "the rest of the story".  Otherwise this is pretty ugly and Un-American.

As fo rMr Eich, perhaps he prefers the key board to the board room.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Maybe somewhat like Hobby Lobby.  But, to me Hobby Lobby will always be the name of a radar site in Thailand, helping us rendezvous with tankers, back in 1966.
  Of course Mr Sullivan, while gay, is a conservative and a practicing Roman Catholic.  Probably even thinks about Lord Acton once in a while.  (I am a big tent guy with regard to the Church.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014


For John, BLUFIf you can't bin things properly you will always be confused.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At The International Herald Tribune we have an article by Dave Montgomery, Manny Fernandez and Ashley Southall on the news from Fort Hood, Texas, titled "Iraq Veteran at Fort Hood Kills 3 and Himself in Rampage".

Surely a tragedy.  I can understand how it would bring to mind the actions of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, wherein Major Hasan murdered 13 and wounded an addition 30 at Fort Hood, back on 5 November 2009.

What I don't understand is how people can easily elide these two events into one about gun violence in the United States.  Notwithstanding the way US Department of Justice characterized the 2009 shooting, it was a terrorist event.  Yesterday's was not.  Trying to make the two the same only distorts our understanding of what the world is like and how we fit into it.

Examples?  Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, just now.  President Obama on a video clip on the news.

From the article we have the name of the most recent suspected shooter, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, an Iraqi veteran.

A soldier who was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder opened fire at Fort Hood on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding 16 before killing himself, the authorities said. The shooting set off a huge police response and shut down the sprawling Army base, the same facility where a deadly rampage by an officer resulted in 13 deaths in 2009.

Fort Hood’s commanding general said the gunman, an Army specialist who had served in Iraq and was being treated for behavioral and mental health issues, had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The commander, Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, told reporters that the soldier’s motive remained unclear, but that the shooting did not appear to be related to terrorism.

If we are willing to say that Major Hasan was emotionally disturbed, then I would say he did not perpetrate terrorism, but then the death penalty would be inappropriate.  On the other hand, dealing with people's political views as mental illness is a very dangerous and slippery slope.  I am against it.

We need distinctions here.  A disturbed soldier and a terrorist who burrowed into the system.

Regards  —  Cliff

Follow-up on Lime Rickey Post

For John, BLUFNotoriety is not always good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Followup to the previous post, "Drug Cartels Drive Food Prices", which discussed the Lime Rickey.  The person to whom the invention is attributed was not happy with said attribution:
Some people are born to fame; others achieve it, while celebrity is thrust upon a few.  Among the latter is Col. Joe Rickey, of Missouri.  But instead of feeling proud of the fact that he has given his name to a popular tipple Col. Rickey feels very much aggrieved.  "Only a few years ago," he said recently, "I was Col. Rickey, of Missouri, the friend of senators, judges and statesmen and something of an authority on political matters and political movements....  But am I ever spoken of for those reasons? I fear not.  No, I am known to fame as the author of the 'rickey,' and I have to be satisfied with that.  There is one consolation in the fact that there are fashions in drinks.  The present popularity of the Scotch high ball may possibly lose me my reputation and restore me my former fame.  'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished for.'"
That from the Wikipedia entry for the Lime Rickey.  The quote is from The Wellsboro Gazette, 26 July 1901.

Regards  —  Cliff

Drug Cartels Drive Food Prices

For John, BLUFLime Rickey?.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In The International New York Times, Sunday edition, is an article "Is the Lime an Endangered Species?".  The author is Journalist David Karp.  Mr Karp is a columnist on farmers’ markets and produce, out in LA.

Actually, I don't think it is, but the price of limes and avocados are being impacted by the situation in Mexico.  The problems, like most market problems, show up in terms of cost:

A sudden and unprecedented shortage of limes has sent nationwide wholesale prices soaring from around $25 for a 40-pound carton in early February to more than $100 today, panicking lovers of Mexican food and drinks — and the restaurant and bar owners who cater to them. The culprits are weather, disease and even Mexican criminals.
Yes, there is panic.  I have heard the whispers amongst producers of end products and consumers.  However, there is supposed to be good news come summer.
All of this suggests an uncertain fate for limes, a fruit we’ve taken for granted for so long.  This time the crisis is likely to be temporary.  As new crops mature, prices should be back down near $30 by June, and there should be plenty of limes this summer, Mr. Vogel said.  But it is important to recognize that we do give up a measure of food security by importing from countries destabilized by the drug trade, corruption and unchecked crime.
But, for me, the question is the impact of Mexican drug cartels on immigration from and through Mexico.  As this interesting chart from Quartz shows, there is a lot of immigration ongoing. 

Well there is also the question of if Mexico is approaching failed state status, and right on our Southern Border.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Frankly, my dear, I couldn't care less. Neither appeals to me. But could be replaced in our diets.  The issue isn't the two fruits, but the impact on immigration from Mexico.  If the drug cartels are messing around, people will wish to find new places to earn their living.
  For me one of the interesting questions is why immigrants, and especially illegal immigrants are coming here.  Is it for the climate?  Is it for the economic climate?  Do the immigrants understand that if they don't adapt to the ways of this (new to them) nation they will find that the economic opportunities they seek will evaporate?  Is this really all about revanchism?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Terrorists in Our Midst

For John, BLUFAnd the Dep't of Homeland Security worries about the Tea Party types.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The good news is that the terrorist organization, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has signed a peace agreement with the Philippine Government.  For a number of years now we have had US Special Forces in the Philippines helping fight the MILF.  Of course, Abu Sayyaf is still out there, using terror as a way of creating an Iranian like theocracy in the Southern Philippines—and "involved in criminal activities, including kidnapping, rape, child sexual assault, drive-by shooting, extortion, and drug trafficking."

The bad news is that Abu Sayyaf is just one of a number of terrorist groups, focused on their local objectives, but trying to achieve them by attacking US targets overseas and here in the United States.  So al Qaeda, diminished as it may be, is still lurking out there.  There was even a recent story about a young man, Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, who is reported to have signed up for the Army so he could pull another internal attack, like Fort Hood.

The even worse thing is that the US Attorneys, aided by the FBI, can be in danger of overcharging folks accused of crimes and that is not a good thing.  As Law Professor Glenn Reynolds notes in his paper, Ham Sandwhich Nation, there are too many laws and it is just if they notice you.

But, maybe the worst thing is that we have someone in the California Legislature who was involved in facilitating terrorism, who was selling guns for millions of dollars, and no one cares.  Well, almost no one.  Who else is out there?

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


For John, BLUFThat day is today.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It's April Fools Day Somewhere.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Eponymous Mayor Lantigua

For John, BLUFIf it can be read wrong, it will be read wrong.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Headlines lose something when they go from the printed page to the world wide web.  For instance, here is one from the Metro Section of The Boston Globe:
"Jury convicts ex-aide of Lantigua"
I took this to indicate that The Globe had invented, or at least adopted, a new word for corruption, honoring the former Mayor of Lawrence, Mr William Lantigua.  Nice appellation.  Nice nod to the former Mayor, who rumor has it is somewhat corrupt.

Going to the Globe web page, the same article by Reporter Scott Allen, we find this headline:

"Ex-aide to William Lantigua convicted of corruption"
While the web version is more descriptive, I still like the print version.  And not just because it is 1 April.

Regards  —  Cliff

"…no protests before misleading Benghazi account given"?

For John, BLUFNothing ruins a good fish story like someone who was there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Reporter Guy Taylor, of The Washington Times, gives us a new perspective on the Benghazi imbroglio.  Here is the lede:
Before the Obama administration gave an inaccurate narrative on national television that the Benghazi attacks grew from an anti-American protest, the CIA’s station chief in Libya pointedly told his superiors in Washington that no such demonstration occurred, documents and interviews with current and former intelligence officials show.
Now that is awkward.

Regards  —  Cliff

NB:  Think of the Ray Donovan question.

Neutral Names

For John, BLUFI don't think we have fully worked out the melting pot, but the Western Hemisphere may be ahead of the Eastern.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"RNC Chair Demands (And Receives) Apology From Ebony Editor For Attack On African-American Staffer".

This is from the Truth Revolt, which talks about Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus demanding an apology from Ebony Magazine "not just for making assumptions about his race but more importantly for dismissing black Republicans and the validity of their opinions in public discourse."

Then over at Da Tech Guy blog we have this take on the incident.  "What That Ebony Mag-RNC Thing Was Really About" by Juliette Ochieng (AKA baldilocks).

This week’s racial controversy involved Ebony Magazine senior editor Jamilah Lemieux and RNC staffer Raffi Williams—son of Fox News commentator Juan Williams.  When you’re reading the conversation, stop seeing red and try to see green.
I think baldilocks has a point.  We make (or miss) clues about people, often based on names and physical appearance.  We need to do better.

To sum it up, Law Professor Ann Althouse looks at a New Yorker article titled "The Fourth Quarter, Kobe Bryant confronts a long—and possibly painful—goodbye."  Per the Althouse blog the article is by Ben McGrath, and contains this paragraph (on page 45 of a piece that goes from 38 to 49):

When I brought up LeBron James posting online a photo of the Heat players dressed in hoodies, with their heads bowed, in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, as political expression, Bryant seemed nonplussed.  "I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm African-American," he said.  "That argument doesn't make sense to me.  So we want to advance as a society and as a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American, we immediately come to his defense?  Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society?  Well, if we've progressed as a society, then you don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African-American.  You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right?  So I won't assert myself."
I think that Mr Kobe Bryant is on to something.

Regards  —  Cliff

Happy April Fools Day

For John, BLUFYou could promise V Putin as a guest on Friday.

You have been warned.

Regards  —  Cliff