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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Air Campaign in the Middle East

For John, BLUFAirpower is the way the nation can fight on the cheap—in terms of the commitment of human lives, our lives.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The International New York Times for 31 December 2014, we have a link to a series of slides (9, but most a set of slides within the main slide) looking at the current air campaign in Iraq (and Syria).

The overall title is "How the Air Campaign Against ISIS Grew".  Your tax dollars at work.  Millions of tax dollars.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Police, But Also Everyone Else

For John, BLUFAre your opponents spying on you?  Probably not worth the cost, but if you were a politician, they might.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A friend of mine sent this link to a video with the EMail Subject of "A technologist's perspective on secure systems vs spying".  My friend describes the speaker in this video, Bruce Schneier, as follows:
Bruce Schneier is one of the great gurus on the intersection of technology, security, and privacy and most anything he has to say on the subject is worth reading or listening to.
The video is a little over five minutes.

It is good food for thought.  We like the idea of the police keeping us safe—and NSA—but the technology cuts both ways and the bad guys have the technology also.

If the FBI is listening in on some Mafia Don living quietly ten doors down from you (or some drug distributor in another part of town), then some Chinese marketing firm is listening in on you to try and figure out how to sell you something a year from now.  Or the competition for the company you work for is checking up on your phone conversations, your text messages and your EMails, in case you reveal something of interest to them.

In the talk Mr Schneier used the term "Use Case".  In systems analysis and software development a Use Case describes an actor and the activities associated with that actor.

Regards  —  Cliff

Following the Rules

For John, BLUFSpeed Limits are special—the bureaucrats fight the good sense of the people.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On the City Life show this morning was some discussion of "rules" and their place and value.  We are "a nation of laws (a nation of rules), and not of men" (thank you John Adams) and that provides us a framework for our interactions with others.

From Lord Kelvin:

The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he would never be caught.
Regards  —  Cliff

Getting the Math Straight

For John, BLUFIf you can't accurately describe it, you don't really understand it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web presence Political Calculations we have "The Biggest Math Story of the Year".  The sub-headline is "What was the most significant story in mathematics in 2014?".
The rise and fall of the distractingly false claim that "one in five women is sexually assaulted in college" is the biggest math story of the year.
Let us be clear.  Any rape is wrong.  However, exaggerating the numbers for rape does not help us form proper social policy to deal with the problem.
The collapse of the "one in five" claim, and the weakness of the statistics behind it, can be seen in the actions of the President's political supporters in office and in the media, who are now trying to quietly drop their previous touting of the figure from public view.
For example, New York Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped the statistics on sexual assault statistic from her website.

On the other hand, Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., talking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, while indicating that she was not happy about pushback on statistics regarding campus sexual assault, shows her innumeracy.

“Frankly, it is irritating that anybody would be distracted by which statistics are accurate,” McCaskill said.
Without the statistics we don't understand the scope of the problem.  We may mis-prioritize our actions.  In the case of sexual assault we may focus on college campuses and ignore the larger problem for young women who are outside the milieu of education.  In the current argot we are "privileging" college women compared to women who do not go to college.  That is bad social policy.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Lateral Thinking.

For John, BLUFInnovation is hard in a Bureaucracy.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I spend a year in school and one of the books we read and discussed was Lateral Thinking, by Dr Edward de Bono.  This article, in The International New York Times, talks to US Army Major General Michael Nagata looking for new ideas in dealing with ISIS, "In Battle to Defang ISIS, U.S. Targets Its Psychology".  Another way to think about it is to talk about "Thinking Outside the Box".

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hunger Homeless Commission Meeting, January

For John, BLUFNotice the effective use of EMail.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mr Brent Rourke, Human Service Coordinator, [State] Dept. of Mental Health has sent out a meeting notice, via EMail, for the Next Lowell Hunger Homeless Commission Meeting.

There will be a guest speaker from the Dept. of Transitional Assistance, Lowell office, who will discuss some of the changes that have occurred during the past year regarding the handling of SNAP (Food Stamps) applications via a state-wide clearing-house.  There will also be time for a Q&A for questions on other DTA-related benefits.

A chance to learn about some of the programs helping individuals transition back to the workforce.  For those of you who are City Life watchers, this is one of the topics we discussed this morning, with Messrs Kamal Jain and Martin Burke.

For your Calendar:

Wednesday, 7 January
12:00 PM
Mayor’s Reception Room at City Hall (Second Floor, Southeast Corner)

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Paying Off Old Debt

For John, BLUFClearing the books of debt makes money available in the future.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The International New York Times we have an article on Government finance, "That Debt From 1720?  Britain’s Payment Is Coming".  The Reporter is Mr Stephen Castle.
Share prices went through the roof, speculation ran wild and money poured into ill-fated ventures before the boom turned, inevitably and catastrophically, to bust.

After that financial crash in 1720, called the South Sea Bubble, the British government was forced to undertake a bailout that eventually left several million pounds of debt on its books. Almost three centuries later, Britons are still paying interest on a small part of that obligation.

Now, prompted by record low interest rates, the British government is planning to pay off some of the debts it racked up over hundreds of years, dating as far back as the South Sea Bubble.

Once debt is incurred it lasts a long time, like those extra pounds picked up feasting at Christmas.

It is not that the instruments of debt are so old, but that they drain away money in interest.  A bond sold in the early 1700s will have procured interest from the taxpayers for nearly 300 years.  If the interest on a 30 year mortgage is like the same as the original value of the mortgage, give or take, three hundred year old interest has been the original debt paid ten times by the taxpayers, with the debt not yet paid off.  Think how many schools and highways that would have built.

Regards  —  Cliff

What Do You Think is Next for Cuba

For John, BLUFIt is a long way from American recognition of Cuba to Freedom for the Cuban People.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Foreign Policy we have an Article by Think Tank Head Gordon Adams, a thoughtful man.  The headline is The Liberal Fallacy of the Cuba Deal.  The subheadline is:
Don’t get me wrong:  I support the normalization of relations.  But believing it can remake the regime in Havana is the worst kind of American exceptionalist fantasy.
I once interviewed with Mr Adams for a job doing defense spending analysis.  The good news is that I didn't get the job, which would have meant I remained down in the DC area, rather than coming up here to Lowell.  Although maybe you, dear reader, think that is a bad deal for Lowell.

At any rate, I agree with Mr Adams.  Even if we make the current embargo of Cuba go away by the 10th of January, there is no promise of a Cuba with representative government and a free economy.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Christmas Carol

For John, BLUFArgument makes sense to me.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Maggie's Farm we have a link to a blog that argues E Scrooge was a Progressive.

I can see the author's point.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Impacts of Cheaper Energy

For John, BLUFNo good deed goes unpunished.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The International New York Times we have "Some States See Budgets at Risk as Oil Price Falls".  The Writers are Messrs Manny Fernandez and Jeremy Alfordec.
States dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oil prices may have on their local economies.

The concerns are cutting across traditional oil states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska as well as those like North Dakota that are benefiting from the nation’s latest energy boom.

And this is just in the United States.  It is far worse for Russia, Iran, Venezuela and other nations.

What was missing from the article is the economic balancing from the spending that was generated by those people who are paying lower prices for fuel.  Is there not an increase in jobs from the additional spending?  How much do sales taxes go up?  This is an incomplete picture.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Comfort Women"

For John, BLUFWar is an occasion to exploit women and leaders need to work against that trend.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

One of the legacies of World War II is the Japanese use of "Comfort Women" in occupied territories. From The Stars and Stripes we have this item:
SEOUL — Every Wednesday, a group of South Koreans gather across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to voice their displeasure over how Japanese troops treated the so-called South Korean “comfort women” during World War II.

They want the Japanese government to issue an official state apology and provide reparations to those forced into military prostitution.  The protests are rather peaceful, as adults, children, nuns and even some of the women forced into sexual slavery, demand Japan to make amends.

Protest organizers started their weekly protest Jan. 8, 1992, and have held more than 1,000 demonstrations since then.  In 2011 — to mark the 1,000 gathering — organizers erected the Pyeonghwa-bi, Peace Monument, a statue of a teenaged Korean girl sitting on a chair facing the Japanese Embassy. The barefoot girl, with her hands resting in her lap, respresents all Korean comfort women.  The small bird on her left shoulder is said to represent freedom and peace.

The Japanese Government does not wish to acknowledge this issue, much less apologize.  It is a thorn in the side of Korean-Japanese relations.

Now operating in parallel is a situation at least a decade more recent.  From The Stars and Stripes we have Former sex workers who serviced US troops get day in court, by Ashley Rowland and Yoo Kyong Chang

SEOUL, South Korea — Former sex workers who have sued the South Korean government, claiming it encouraged them to prostitute themselves to U.S. troops after the Korean War, have their first court hearing Friday.

The 122 elderly women are asking for more than $1.2 million, an official apology from the government and an investigation into South Korea’s oversight of their work.  The South Korean government and Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn were named in the suit, which alleges that Seoul began encouraging the women to work as prostitutes for U.S. servicemembers in the 1950s, a practice that continued into the 1970s.  A ministry litigation officer declined to comment on the case.

“They were victims of history,” said Kim Mikyoung, one of the attorneys for the women.  She was one of several people who confirmed the contents of the lawsuit, filed June 25. The Seoul Central District Court would not provide a copy to Stars and Stripes, citing rules that bar the general release of such documents.

This is not quite the same situation as the "Comfort Women" for Japanese soldiers, but one can see parallels.  Except in this case the US was not an occupying power and was not forcing women into prostitution.  But, that said, it is likely that, men being men (heck, people being people) arrangements for sex were made by US Service Personnel.
The U.S. military has said it is aware of the case but declined to comment on the women’s claims or the lawsuit.  A statement issued after the suit was filed, said U.S. Forces Korea has zero tolerance for prostitution.
Here is a case where a little bit of humility and compassion could help out.

Regards  —  Cliff

Answering Machine Message

For John, BLUFParents are a key factor in a child's education.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This has to be made up, doesn't it?

At least they have an answering Machine Message.  Some people I know have never updated their message from the factory standard.

In fact, regarding the message, which you may have already clicked on, it is a prank.  The prank reputedly started in Pacific Palisades Charter High School (California).  It never went from paper to Voice Mail, but it represented the frustration of teachers with parents who were not doing their part.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The source of the debunking uses terms like "inflammatory" and "insulting".  I think those are over the top and represent an ostrich-like approach to a serious social issue.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Inspire Actually Inspired

For John, BLUFThe struggle against violent and anti-Western Jihadism is going to take a while.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Washington Post we have an article by Ms Karen DeYoung on "New issue of jihadist magazine produced by al-Qaeda in Yemen suggests attacks on U.S."
The issue is the 13th since Inspire was first published online in 2010. Its founder, Samir Zafar Khan, was born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents but grew up in New York state.

Khan, a blogger on jihadist themes who was well-known to U.S. intelligence, is believed to have traveled to Yemen and joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, the year before the magazine’s debut issue.

Khan, an American citizen, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011, along with Anwar al-Awlaki, also an American, whom President Obama described as AQAP’s “operational commander.”

Those terrible drone attacks.

And, looking back in history, Ms DeYoung makes this timely note about the Tsarnaev Brothers.  Surviving Brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is fighting (via his lawyer) to have his trial kicked down the road until the Autumn of 2015.  What ever happened to a speedy trial?  It was 15 April 2013.  At any rate, here is the tie:

The most infamous article published by Inspire, a Khan-authored instructional guide titled“How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom,” was used by the Boston Marathon bombers in a pressure-cooker explosive they planted in their April 2013 attack, according to prosecutors in the case.
A good clean translation in English should be available soon.  By "clean" I mean scrubbed so there are no hidden viruses.  Is anyone interested?

And, in additional news, here is an article that says the Islamic State is trying to recruit families and not just individuals.  At the same time the same newspaper (The Washington Post) has an article saying "The Islamic State is failing at being a state".

Regards  —  Cliff

  There is the Sixth Amendment, which talks to a "speedy trial".  The "speedy trial" clause and subsequent legislation that talks to a six month limit on prosecutors, would suggest they should have moved on this.  Granted, it is the defense asking for a delay, but is that really because the Prosecutors have dumped such a large witness list and list of exhibits that they are forcing the defense to ask for more time?  But, back to "speedy trial", the lawyers for Mr Tsarnaev make this point—"The trial in this case is currently set to begin just 18 months after the defendant was indicted, which would bring this case to trial faster than 99 of the 119 federal capital trials to get under way since 2004."  What happened to six months?
  For George, this last article on the Islamic State quotes others using the term ISIS (twice).

Party of Minority Success

For John, BLUFThose GOPers, they just don't get identity politics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Politico we have an article on the GOP 2016 Field and the "minority" members in that field.  The Authors are Katie Glueck and Tarini Parti and the story can be found here.  The headline is "Race and the race:  The GOP’s 2016 slate may be its most diverse ever, but don’t expect the candidates to talk much about it." Here is how it starts:
Bobby Jindal is Indian-American, but you’ll never hear him describe himself that way. Marco Rubio insists he’s an “American of Hispanic descent.”  And Ted Cruz “certainly” identifies as Hispanic, but he didn’t run for office as “the Hispanic guy.”

These Republican lawmakers, along with African-American conservative favorite Ben Carson, look poised to make the 2016 GOP presidential field the party’s most diverse ever.  They are all mulling over White House runs as the GOP continues to struggle with minority voters and as racial tensions over police conduct have captivated the nation.

But none is planning to play up his race or ethnicity in a presidential campaign, or even to stress the potentially historic nature of his candidacy.  Instead, according to interviews with donors, strategists, aides and several of the possible candidates themselves, each is more likely to hit broader themes such as the American dream and the importance of hard work, which, for Jindal, Cruz and Rubio, would include nods to their parents’ immigrant experience.

Such messages would, in theory, have more universal appeal by stressing the commonalities of the American experience instead of its divisions — while also avoiding the identity politics that are toxic among GOP primary voters.  It’s a tactic that may be welcomed as an expression of unity by some minorities, but it is already seen by others, especially advocates for immigrants, as dismissive of unique hardships facing their communities.

The article then goes on to disparage not acknowledging and capitalizing on one's ethnic background, the accidents of one's birth.  The ending is about how Mr Sanjay Puri, chairman of the U.S.-India Political Action Committee, "a bipartisan group", thinks that Gov Jindal is not interested in the issues of his PAC.

What is funny, to me, is the bio for Writer Tarini Parti, which includes this comment:

She refuses to be acknowledged as a Southerner, despite having mastered the Eastern North Carolina twang.
If Writer Tarini Parti can't acknowledge who she is, why would she expect Gov Bobby Jindal to acknowledge who he is?

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

538 Looks At Dr Ben Carson

For John, BLUFI like Ben Carson for President.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the FiveThirtyEight blog we have a somewhat insightful, if disparaging, look at Dr Ben Carson"Don’t Take Ben Carson Seriously (Except In Iowa — Maybe)".  The Writer is Mr Harry Enten, a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.

“Who is Ben Carson? Where did he come from?” asked CNN’s Jake Tapper after a CNN poll revealed that Carson, a political novice, was running second to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.  Carson has also placed second in other national polls, second in Iowa surveys and in the high single digits in New Hampshire.

So just how seriously should we take Carson’s potential bid for the White House?  Seriously enough.  He could make some noise, particularly in Iowa.  But not seriously enough to believe that he has any real shot of winning the nomination.

So, here is where Mr Enten gets down to the FiveThirtyEight model and how it figures out who is going to make it and who isn't.  It is that model that made FiveThirtyEight what it is today.
Finally — as I mentioned above — it’s very difficult for a candidate who hasn’t held elected office to win a party’s presidential nomination.  (FiveThirtyEight’s presidential model looks at experience in elected office in assessing a candidate’s chances. It’s predictive.)  Forbes and Robertson, for example, faded after their showings in Iowa and didn’t seriously contend for the nomination.  A candidate without elected experience hasn’t been nominated by either major party since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

And the last time I checked, Carson didn’t win World War II.

Pretty Snarky.  Neither did Dwight David Eisenhower.  He lead the Anglo-American forces in Central and Northern Europe.  Doctor Ben Carson was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head.  But, as FiveThirtyEight says, Dr Ben Carson is unlikely to win the Republican nomination.  On the other hand, as a Republican, I like him.  I would vote for him for President over any known Democrat coming down the road.

Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUFTrouble in DC.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Hot Air we have an update on Rep Michael Grimm, R-NY.

And, we have this item:

Nancy Pelosi is calling on John Boehner to force Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., to resign in the wake of his guilty plea to charges of tax evasion:
To which the Instapundit tweeted "Rangel".

To which one Charles Flemming responded:

Maybe we could arrange an exchange of prisoners?
I doubt it.  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appears to be is just another "dead ender".

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, December 25, 2014


For John, BLUFA wonderful performance and tradition.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Mental Flosswe have this short article on Beethoven's Ninth being performed in Japan.
In Japan, it's an end-of-year tradition to sing "Ode to Joy," the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  The song is so well-known in Japan that it's known simply as daiku, literally "number nine."  In Osaka, a 10,000-person-strong "Number Nine Chorus" of amateur singers performs daiku every December, to thundering effect.  While there are some professionals involved (the soloists and orchestra), the Number Nine Chorus is largely a community effort.  And the sound of 10,000 singers, trained or untrained, is unbelievable.
And a link that doesn't work.

However, this link worked for me a few minutes ago.  Here is a You Tube version of this year's performance.

Regards  —  Cliff


Mele Kalikimaka

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Bad Lenses

For John, BLUFThose Conservatives, being supportive of minorities.  Go figure.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It is the time of year to be making lists and here is one.

From the Blog Right Wing News we have a look at personalities, including this unscientific poll of "conservative" web sites on Sitting Politicians, listed by their polling numbers:

20) Lindsey Graham (-35)
19) John McCain (-32)
18) John Boehner (-25)
17) Peter King (-24)
16) Chris Christie (-21)
15) Mitch McConnell (-16)
14) Justin Amash (22)
13) Rand Paul (25)
12) Marco Rubio (31)
11) Jeff Sessions (34)
10) Paul Ryan (34)
 9) Rick Perry (39)
 8) Darrell Issa (44)
 7) Trey Gowdy (45)
 6) Mike Lee (46)
 5) Ted Cruz (47)
 4) Tim Scott (50)
 3) Bobby Jindal (51)
 2) Mia Love (59)
 1) Scott Walker (63)

And this is interesting.  Four of the top (low numbers) Five would be minorities if they were Democrats.  And Rep Darrell Issa (Number 8) is listed by Wikipedia as one of four Arab-Americans in the US Congress.  ANd Rep Justin Amash (Number 14 on the list) is also Arab-American.

My disappointment is that Niki Haley is not listed.

Hat tip to Neal Crossland, of New Hampshire.

Regards  —  Cliff

Nice Christmas Present

For John, BLUFWe have a City Flag and should display it proudly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Facebook page of the Chief of our "Water Works", Mr Eric Gitschier we have this photograph:

Eric starts out by saying:

Cliff Krieger ask me a question about another and a half ago. He said, "why don't we have a City flag on the flag poles at the Water Department?" We have two state flags and a United States flag.
And the reason was, of course, Municipal folks being good stewards of our money—you don't "just order one, you have to order ten at a cost of $350. We are not buying ten." But, yesterday Eric took Zach to work and Zach found a box with a Lowell Flag.

Thank you, Eric, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

And thanks to Jack Mitchell for pointing this post out to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Nuts for Christmas

For John, BLUFIt was the Greatest Generation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web magazine War on the Rocks we have a reprint of a 70 year old letter by US Army Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe.  It is his 1944 Christmas Eve letter to the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, fighting the Germany Army in and around Bastogne during what became known as the Ardennes offensive.  The letter is dated 24 December.

The letter ends:

We are giving our country and our loved ones at home a worthy Christmas present and being privileged to take part in this gallant feat of arms are truly making for ourselves a Merry Christmas.
Regards  —  Cliff

Half the Story on the Intel Community

For John, BLUFGlobe OpEd Writer James Carroll is over the top in his dislike for the US Intelligence Community.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In the Monday edition of The Boston Globe is an opinion piece by Writer James Carroll.  The headline is "The poisonous legacy of the CIA starts with who we are".  Let us be frank.  Mr Carroll is no Carla Seaquist. But, for the first half of the article it works OK.

Then we get into our relationship with Cuba, which has been bad, per Mr Carroll, because of the Bay of Pigs and the CIA.  No mention of the fact that it was Cubans who were the soldiers involved.  No mention of the decision of CIA's superiors to withhold air support.  No mention of how property of people and corporations were seized, which is OK I guess, given that Cuba became a Communist regime, dedicated to the eradication of Capitalism at home and abroad.  No mention of the willingness of Cuba to allow the stationing of nuclear weapons on its soil, the weapons pointed at the United States.  No mention of Cuba harboring people we think of as criminals.  No mention of Cuban meddling in Africa.

Put another way, Cuba is not pure and we are not all evil here in the US.

But, moving along, Mr Carroll then looks to Korea.

But Cuba’s is not the longest and sorriest saga of the Cold War. That distinction belongs to North Korea, whose 1950 aggression across the 38th parallel was entirely unforeseen by the CIA. Yet the US intervention in the Korean civil war was a foundational mistake (a dress rehearsal for Vietnam), haunting the world to this day. Can there be a surprise that, competing with the story of peace with Cuba last week, was a story about rage ignited by a comic Hollywood depiction of, yes, a fictional CIA assassination plot aimed at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? Having had its computers hacked and threats against them made general, Sony canceled the release of the film in dispute,“The Interview,” which the Wall Street Journal had called “comedy gold.” In truth, we Americans love our CIA caper films and cliffhanger TV shows, but might one ask a dumb question? Who thinks a movie about the CIA-sponsored assassination of a named and sitting leader of another nation could possibly be funny?
Intervention in Korea in the Summer of 1950 was a mistake?  We should have allowed Kim Il Song to conquer the Republic of Korea?  Think in terms of population.  In 1970 South Korea had grown to 30 million.  By 2013 it had grown to 50 million.  Do you think that South Korea under the Kim dynasty would have experienced such population growth?  Don't you think the mismanagement of the economy south of the 38th Parallel would have resulted in either a quicker die-off or a lower birth rate.  At any rate, not the ROK of today.  And looking at the economy in 1950, which was below 40 billion dollars (1990 dollars), by 2014 it was $1.4 Trillion (14th in the world).  Pretty steep climb.  In contrast, the DPRK (NorKs) is number 125, at $40 Billion GDP.

Money isn't everything.  There is also the issue of human rights.  In South Korea a human rights movement emerged and helped move the nation toward a more democratic approach.  In particular, in May of 1980, college students in the city of Gwangju began protesting, leading, eventually, a decade later, to democracy.  North Korea not so much—but a lot of Juche, and Songun, and a desire to keep the leadership in the Kim Dynasty.

And then, from the Canadian TV Network we have this item:  "UN Security Council takes up North Korea's human rights for 1st time".  The UN looking into the human rights situation in North Korea?

The U.N. Security Council placed North Korea's bleak human rights situation on its agenda Monday, a groundbreaking step toward possibly holding the nuclear-armed but desperately poor country and leader Kim Jong Un accountable for alleged crimes against humanity.
But we, and the UN, should have ignored North Korea in June of 1950s.

Perhaps Writer James Carroll should again read the original book by Ruth Carter Stapleton, the late Sister of former President Jimmy Carter, The Gift of Inner Healing.  Maybe a trip to his Father's gravesite to offer his Father forgiveness and to ask forgiveness from him would help heal the hurt he is feeling.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The condemned Intelligence Community was able to work that problem in a way that contributed to a successful conclusion—withdrawal of Soviet Nuclear Weapons and the only loss of life being Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr.
  As a result, Kim Il Sung developed a theory of self-reliance, or Juche in Korean, that remains the country's official ideology today. He laid out three principles: political independence, economic self-reliance and military autonomy.

Globe (and the US) Trending Better

For John, BLUFThings are actually getting better, not worse.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Slate dot Com we have a piece, "The World Is Not Falling Apart".  The subheadline is "Never mind the headlines.  We’ve never lived in such peaceful times."  The authors are Professor Steven Pinker and Professor Andrew Mack.

Here is a summary paragraph:

The world is not falling apart.  The kinds of violence to which most people are vulnerable—homicide, rape, battering, child abuse—have been in steady decline in most of the world.  Autocracy is giving way to democracy.  Wars between states—by far the most destructive of all conflicts—are all but obsolete.  The increase in the number and deadliness of civil wars since 2010 is circumscribed, puny in comparison with the decline that preceded it, and unlikely to escalate.
This is not to say we could not have another tragedy like August of 1914, but the fact is the trend lines suggest the world is less violent.  Problems need to be fixed in the new year, but we are not in the pit of evil and descending further.  We are in a world that is improving.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Moral Repair

For John, BLUFWe are going to have to have some sort of a reckoning with regard to the CIA torture problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.  But not a witch hunt. 

From The Washington Post we have Opinionator Walter Pincus looking at the question of individuals involved in Torture or in Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, "Immunity and interrogators: A second look".

This is an interesting article in that it talks about the fact that the Senate Report on CIA Interrogations is not the first time we have heard of this.

Mentioned in the article is SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape).  Some of what happened in the CIA interrogation program was from reverse engineering of the SERE program.

For an outside look at this issue—outside the beltway—Writer and Playwright Carla Seaquist gives us "Torture Report: America Conducts a Moral Reckoning. Next, Moral Repair?".  This column was published by The Huffington Post.  Ms Seaquist raises an important point when she talks to "Moral Repair".

This whole issue is complicated.  Ms Seaquist points out that Bush Administration Department of Justice official John Yoo, the supposed author of the "Torture Memo", recently said to CNN:

"If these things happened as they're described in the report....they were not supposed to be done. And the people who did those are at risk legally because they were acting outside their orders."
One side issue in this imbroglio is the role of the Vice President in Government.  I believe the Vice President is an inherently legislative position.  That was the view of President Washington and appears to have been the view up through President Roosevelt.  More recent Presidents have pulled the Vice President into the realm of the Executive Branch.  This change is shown by the fact that the Vice President staff includes those who are inherently legislative personnel and those who are part of the executive branch.  This raises the question of how, in this day and age, we can impeach a President without first impeaching his or her Vice President for the same problems.  Not that I am keen on impeachment.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Plum Book

For John, BLUFThe Gov't Printing Office has a lot of information on line.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Plum being the cover color.

While we often talk about a lack of transparency on the part of the Government (at all levels) sometimes there is information available, like the Federal Government's Plum Book, which is described below:

Every four years, just after the Presidential election, the ‘‘United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions,’’ commonly known as the Plum Book, is published, alternately, by the Senate Committee on Home- land Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Over- sight and Government Reform.

This publication contains data (as of June 30, 2012) on over 8,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment (e.g., positions such as agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials). The duties of many such positions may involve advocacy of Admin- istration policies and programs and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials.

Following are the major categories of positions listed:

  • Executive Schedule and salary-equivalent positions paid at the rates established for levels I through V of the Executive Schedule;
  • Senior Executive Service (SES) ‘‘General’’ positions;
  • Senior Foreign Service positions;
  • Schedule C positions excepted from the competitive service by the Presi- dent, or by the Director, Office of Personnel Management, because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties; and
  • Other positions at the GS–14 and above level excepted from the com- petitive civil service by law because of the confidential or policy-deter- mining nature of the position duties.

See Appendix 2 for more details on SES appointments and Appendix 3 for more details on Schedule C appointments. Additional information on the positions listed and the Federal salary schedules under which they are paid is provided in the appendices.

In many cases the names are out of date by this point.  The Secretary of Defense is listed as Leon Panetta, who was replaced by Chuck Hagel, who is about to be replaced by Ashton Carter. But, the book gives a good sense of the structure of our Federal Government.

And, there are other interesting publications from the Government Printing Office, including this almost three thousand page (on-line) analysis of the US Constitution, including the Amendments, the Amendments proposed and not incorporated and laws passed by Congress and ruled unconstitutional.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, December 22, 2014

Trust of Politicians

For John, BLUFThis is about the two New York City minority policemen executed by a disturbed man from Baltimore.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

There is talk about how New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio should leave office, given how the Police of New York City feel about him.  For instance we have this from The Hill:
Pat Lynch, the president of the largest police union in New York City, [who] said the current mayor, Bill de Blasio (D), had blood on his hands.
Regarding the issue of Mr de Blasio resigning, I received this text message this morning:
DeBlasio will not resign.  It requires something he doesn't have:  honor.
Time will tell in this case.

Regards  —  Cliff

Cuba Libre

For John, BLUFDeparture of Communism does not necessarily mean the creation or the return of Democracy.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Today on City Life Registrar of Deeds Richard Howe said that he could characterize views on Cuba based on their political orientation.  I think that is not true.

My own view on Cuba is that it is a good move on President Obama's part, although it will take Congress to end the embargo.

All that said, to quote former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"  The Canadians and Europeans have been going to Cuba for years, to no impact.  Even if the Brothers Fidel and Raoul go away and full fledged capitalism returns, will it be any better a democracy than under the man they replaced, Felgencio Batista, or under themselves?

Regards  —  Cliff

Viet-nam Opts for Capitalism, the US Not So Much

For John, BLUFOur economic vision is sometimes confused in this Great Nation  There is no magic, just hard work.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This item is almost two months old, a column in USA Today, but it is as current as today.  Law Professor and Blogger Glenn Harlan Reynolds 7:56 a.m. EDT October 27, 2014 gives us "How we 'won' in Vietnam, but are losing at home".  The subheadline is "Special interests weigh down America's economy, while Vietnam's young capitalism booms."

Here is the lede and subsequent paragraph:

So I guess we won that war after all.  According to the Pew Global Poll, 95% of people in Vietnam agree that most people are better off under capitalism, even if there is inequality.

By contrast, only 70% of Americans believe the same thing.  (America is out-performed by such other less developed countries as Nigeria, China, Turkey, Malaysia, the Philippines and India).  Maybe, quipped an Internet commenter, the Vietnamese should send us some advisers.

In his book, The Rise and Decline of Nations, economist Mancur Olson argues that established economies develop a web of special interests that gradually chokes off economic growth. Vietnam's advantage is that its own parasites haven't had a chance to start spinning much of a web yet.  Ours, on the other hand, have been at it for decades.
Food for thought.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Vulnerability to Sexual Assault

For John, BLUFTeaching both sons and daughters about proper sexual behavior is an important step in limiting sexual assault.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

My Middle Brother, Lance, and I have been batting back and forth the issue of rape on campus.  We both have daughters who went to College.  As is often the case, the lens we view things through often distorts reality.  The recent article in Rolling Stone, now discredited, on gang rape at UVA, and the California Assembly passing a "Yes means Yes" bill makes it look like Rape is a Collegiate issue.

This Opinion Piece in The International New York Times, by Ms Callie Marie Rennisondec, "Privilege, Among Rape Victims:  Who Suffers Most From Rape and Sexual Assault in America?" looks at some such assumptions.

LATELY, people have been bombarded with the notion that universities and colleges are hotbeds of sexual violence. Parents fear that sending their teenagers to school is equivalent to shipping them off to be sexually victimized.

But the truth is, young women who don’t go to college are more likely to be raped.  Lynn A. Addington at American University and I recently published a study based on the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey data from 1995 to 2011.  We found that the estimated rate of sexual assault and rape of female college students, ages 18 to 24, was 6.1 per 1,000 students.  This is nothing to be proud of, but it is significantly lower than the rate experienced by women that age who don’t attend college — eight per 1,000.  In other words, these women are victims of sexual violence at a rate around 30 percent greater than their more educated counterparts.

As an aside, as Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds frequently points out, it is not just the parents of young women who have concerns.  The parents of young men should be very concerned about the extrajudicial proceedings dealing with campus sexual assault.  Your son could be thrown out of college based on an accusation that was not ventilated by the standards of justice we would expect to be given to the lowest reprobate.

The statistics show a different picture.

Women in the lowest income bracket, with annual household incomes of less than $7,500, are sexually victimized at 3.7 times the rate of women with household incomes of $35,000 to $49,999, and at about six times the rate of women in the highest income bracket (households earning $75,000 or more annually).  Homeownership is another example of how economic advantage serves to protect women from sexual violence.  Woman living in rented properties are sexually victimized at 3.2 times the rate of women living in homes that they or a family member own.
Married women are less likely to be raped, and interestingly enough, women without children are less likely to be raped that those with children. Then there is education.  (Of course, education is correlated with family income, home ownership and other factors.)
Finally, we can look at educational attainment and the risk of sexual violence.  Women without a high school diploma are sexually victimized at a rate 53 percent greater than women with a high school diploma or some college, and more than 400 percent greater than those with a bachelor’s degree or more.
Like a lot of social issues, sexual assault is a complicated issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

Stopping Kinder Morgan

For John, BLUFI miss County Government.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In Yesterday's "Column" in Th e[Lowell] Sun is a discussion of Wilmington's stance with regard to Kinder Morgan, which is trying to drive another pipeline through New England.  We have had months of inaction in Wilmington regarding Kinder Morgan's proposal for a natural-gas pipeline through Wilmington.  The Wilmington Selectmen have been pretty inactive.
At Monday night's selectmen's meeting, a small group of residents used the public comment period to call selectmen out for not taking a firm stance, or any stance, against the pipeline.  Meanwhile, other towns nearby have rallied against the plan, refusing the company permission to survey town-owned lands and adopting non-binding resolutions against the pipeline.  Several towns have now been re-routed out of the pipeline's path.
So, there you have it.  Towns united against the gas pipeline.  Mostly people are for the spread of natural gas, as long as it isn't in their neighborhood.  The term is NIMBY (NIM as in nimble and BE as in bee) (or Not in My Back Yard). Then there are those who would be a Samson in this world.  Willing to pull the whole structure down on top of herself to make her point.
"I really feel the board has to be a little bit more aggressive about this," said resident Suzanne Sullivan, a former selectman.

"I don't really care if there's a need (for natural gas in New England)," she added.  "Why should we be the sacrificial lambs for a need?"

There you go, rest of New England.  Wilmington doesn't care, or at least Ms Suzanne Sullivan doesn't care.

What happened to the Common in Commonwealth?

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reverend Sharpton Sees the Light

For John, BLUFAnd Mayor deBlasio appears to be clueless.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.
Per Rev Al Sharpton.

He got that right.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Boko Haram

For John, BLUFNigeria is the 8th largest petroleum exporting nation and a collapse would impact world oil prices negatively.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is a good question from The New Yorker, As the Year Ends, Where Are Nigeria’s Kidnapped Girls?.  The author is Ms Alexis Okeowo, who is a contributing writer for The New Yorker.  She is based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Most of them are still being held by the group Boko Haram, which is conducting a Stage I (Terrorism) Insurgency against the Government of Nigeria.

Every now and then, a girl might find an opportunity to run away, but Boko Haram has been kidnapping girls and young women for a long time; we know from those who have escaped (sometimes pregnant or with a small child) that they are often handed off to militants as sex slaves or forced to perform tasks for the terrorist group.
With an election for President of Nigeria in the offing, here is a summary of the situation:
The country’s northeast is a humanitarian disaster.  A million six hundred thousand people are homeless, waiting on handouts and unable to farm their land.  A famine is possible.  Refugee camps are overcrowded and woefully bare of services. The region has collapsed in on itself.  President Jonathan, who has presided over the conflict with a mixture of indifference and annoyance, is trying to convince Nigerians that he deserves another chance to bring prosperity to Nigeria, which will have to mean ending Boko Haram’s reign.  But his administration’s incompetency in the war may be the biggest selling point for his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, who, despite having already ruled Nigeria as a military dictator in the nineteen-eighties, has somehow ended up as the man some Nigerians see as one of their country’s last hopes.
I would say this is a good point at which the magazine Rolling Stone can redeem itself after that atrocious effort regarding alleged gang rape at UVA.  With Boko Haram we have not only gang rape, but also mass kidnappings and the selling of women into slavery, including sexual slavery.  An ugly mix that will not be solved by suggesting to the overseers that "Yes means Yes".  And Hash Tags are not going to do it.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Translated into English, Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden", although the official name of the Insurgent Group is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'Awati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Prophet's Teachings for Propagation and Jihad).  They, too, wish to set up a new Caliphate.

Another Kennedy Rejection of Ms Clinton?

For John, BLUFUncle Joe supported Senator Obama over Senator Clinton in 2008.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Boston Herald tells us that US Rep Joseph P Kennedy III (Mass 4th Congressional District) has indicated that he would support his old teacher at Harvard Law, Senator E Warren, if she decided to run.

Regards  —  Cliff

Flash Gordon Lives

For John, BLUFGreat Adventure stories for fathers and sons (and daughters).  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I always liked Flash Gordon, when it was serialized on TV in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and I was not surprised that in its own way it was an inspiration to Film Maker George Lucas and to his creation, Star Wars.  The story behind the story has been now told by Author Chris Taylor in the new history of the sci-fi franchise, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe,.

This, in turn was captured by The New Yorkers in an article by Mr Joshua Rothman, "The Crazy History of 'Star Wars'"

Taylor’s book doesn’t evoke the wonder of “Star Wars” so much as the strangeness of its vast success. At the movies’ core, of course, is familiarity: they’re exceptionally good reimaginings of nineteen-thirties sci-fi serials like “Flash Gordon.” As a child, Lucas was addicted to those shows; even in college, the world of military-space fantasy was so alive in his imagination that, according to one roommate, he preferred to “stay in his room and draw star troopers” instead of going out.
I found this paragraph interesting:
… the Emperor was based on President Nixon.  It’s hard for us to see it today.  The analogy I like to draw is to the nursery rhymes of the nineteenth century, which covered all these intricate political situations and were the satire of their day.  We don’t hear that now, we just hear charming children’s doggerel.
While I voted for Richard Nixon when he ran for his second term, it wasn't so much for Mr Nixon as it was against his opponent, Senator George McGovern.  I thought Senator McGovern would be a disaster and that President Nixon in his Second Term would be smart enough to not do anything stupid.  I was wrong.  That said, the Emperor seems a little bit much.  And who does Darth Vader represent?

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Single Payer Health Care?

For John, BLUFI think Single Payer changes health care for the worse for many Americans, without much helping the rest.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Politico we have an examination of single payer health care in Vermont, by Ms Sarah Wheaton.  The title is "Why single payer died in Vermont" The lede and more:
Vermont was supposed to be the beacon for a single-payer health care system in America. But now its plans are in ruins, and its onetime champion Gov. Peter Shumlin may have set back the cause.

Advocates of a “Medicare for all” approach were largely sidelined during the national Obamacare debate.  The health law left a private insurance system in place and didn’t even include a weaker “public option” government plan to run alongside more traditional commercial ones.

So single-payer advocates looked instead to make a breakthrough in the states.  Bills have been introduced from Hawaii to New York; former Medicare chief Don Berwick made it a key plank of his unsuccessful primary race for Massachusetts governor.

Vermont under Shumlin became the most visible trailblazer.  Until Wednesday, when the governor admitted what critics had said all along: He couldn’t pay for it.

“It is not the right time for Vermont” to pass a single-payer system, Shumlin acknowledged in a public statement ending his signature initiative.  He concluded the 11.5 percent payroll assessments on businesses and sliding premiums up to 9.5 percent of individuals’ income “might hurt our economy.”

The question is, is this a speed bump or the end of the road?

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Ohio Changes Apportionment

For John, BLUFI would like to see something like this for Massachusets.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"In a Break From Partisan Rancor, Ohio Moves to Make Elections More Competitive".  At least for the State Legislature.  Some are grousing that it doesn't include US Congressional Districts, but this is a good first step.  The article, by Report Trip Gabriel, was in today's edition of The New York Times.

Here is the situation in a nut shell:

In 37 states, legislatures now draw voting maps.  The 13 others use commissions that are, in theory, less partisan.  In some states, the commissions are independent, and in others, their members are politically appointed.  That has been Ohio’s system since the 1970s.  The Apportionment Board is composed of three elected state officials — the governor, auditor and secretary of state — and one member from each party chosen by the legislature. Republicans have controlled it for three decades.

The new plan would add two members, one from each party.  And if the minority-party members did not approve of the district maps, the changes would last only four years, not the traditional 10.  Partisan control of the board could seesaw in four years after statewide elections, so this would create an incentive to win the minority’s approval.

Good luck, Ohio.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Paris Commune

For John, BLUFWe should all embrace "that there are legitimate ideas about shaping the future of the nation other than your own."  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The New Yorker, 22 December edition, we have the review of another book on the Paris Commune, under the headline "The Fires of Paris".  The subheadline is "Why do people still fight about the Paris Commune?"  The Review author is Mr Adam Gopnik.

The Paris Commune is one of those obscure artifacts from the Franco-Prussion War (1870-1871) that most people either don't know about, or if they do, chose to ignore.  However, for a small group of people it is a big thing.

The book being reviewed is Massacre:  The Life and Death of the Paris Commune.  The author is Professor John Merriman, from Yale.  From the review we are led to believe that Professor Merriman is pro Commune.

The review is a quick look at French history and the history of the Commune.  The most interest item, in the first paragraph, is "That Napoleon was a bad man but a big figure…", which I had come to believe, but was not sure anyone else saw it that way.  Not mentioned was that France tried to conquer Mexico while we were involved in our Civil War.  Yes, there were a lot of follies in France, from the French Revolution up through Charles de Gaulle.

I think the key paragraph in the Review is this one:

What the Communards fought and died for was, fifty years later, achieved, as France moved toward a modern welfare state, and firmly separated Church and nation.  What the royalists killed for—and died for, too—was over, and for good.  The real winner was the republic as it would become.  The path from the death of the Commune to true republicanism was extremely knotty, but, by the end of the eighteen-seventies, France was on it.  (Even Louise Michel was amnestied, and came home, to resume her career as an unapologetic provocateur.)  The responsible left came to embrace legislative Republicanism single-mindedly, not out of fear but out of wisdom—knowing that the only way to maintain the real revolution was to accept in permanence the truth that rejecting the legitimacy of the opposition could end only in violence, real liberal republicanism being no more than the understanding that there are legitimate ideas about shaping the future of the nation other than your own.
And the key sentence:
The responsible left came to embrace legislative Republicanism single-mindedly, not out of fear but out of wisdom—knowing that the only way to maintain the real revolution was to accept in permanence the truth that rejecting the legitimacy of the opposition could end only in violence, real liberal republicanism being no more than the understanding that there are legitimate ideas about shaping the future of the nation other than your own.
Of course we should understand that left, right, up, down and sideways may well mean different things in France than they do in Ottomwa, Iowa.  And we should understand that France still had a long ways to go.  For instance, it had to get past the Dreyfus Affair.  And then World War I, followed by the 1930s and the debacle known as World War II, and then decolonization.  Life has not been easy for those who are French.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mandy Rice-Davies RIP

For John, BLUFJohn Profumo went and did charity work to atone for his sins.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am probably the only one, aside from my Wife, in Lowell, who remembers the Profumo Affair, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies.  Ms Rice-Davies got a good sendoff on the pages of The International New York Times this morning.

Ms Rice-Davies, who made a success of her life, recently summed up that life with this comment.

My life has been one long descent into respectability.
Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, December 19, 2014

Amazon Next Day

For John, BLUFPersistence pays off sometimes.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This morning, driving from Lowell, down to Hanscom Air Force Base, I was listening to WRKO (680 AM) and The Financial Exchange, with Barry Armstrong and Kim Keller.  Kim was talking about how good UPS is at delivering packages and Barry chimed in with how quickly Amazon is at delivery and how they are going to "One Hour" delivery in metropolitan areas.

Alas, after years of great service I have had an order go into a Black Hole, although it did emerge from the other side, after I played with it.

Back on 15 December I ordered two copies of Personalism, by Emmanuel Mounier.  One was a paperback for my Oldest Son and one was a Kindle version for me.  The Kindle version arrived promptly, since it is a Kindle version.  The dead tree version, which I ordered for next day delivery, to Gainesville, Virginia, popped up as to be delivered on Monday, 22 December, a week delay for a one day delivery.  Since I was hoping for parallel reading and discussion (a new approach by me), I was disappointed.  I was further disappointed in that my Son was to be enroute up here to Lowell on Saturday, the 20th, and wouldn't be home to take delivery.

My Wife suggested it was perhaps being routed through the Merryfield Sorting Center, in Virginia, which was infamous before it became involved in the Anthrax issues that arrived at the same time as the al Qaeda attacks on America on 11 September 2001.  Thus allowance was made for anticipated delays.

The other possibility is the book was in some remote distribution center and it was going to take a long time to get to the far western reaches of Prince William County, out on the edge of the sticks.

Well, my action was to go back into Amazon and change the delivery point from Gainesville, Virginia, to Lowell, Massachusetts.  Whatever it did to the Amazon delivery algorithms, the book arrived today, the 19th of December, three days earlier and just before my Oldest Son shows up for Christmas.

I was going to say "all's well that ends well", but there is no actual deception involved.

Regards  —  Cliff

Carly Running?

For John, BLUFMaybe positioning herself for the Veep slot.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

First there was Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush throwing his hat into the ring for 2016 and now, per National Journal, we have Ms Carly Fiorina on the verge.
Carly Fiorina is laying the groundwork for what one ally says is an "imminent" presidential campaign—one that could launch as early as next month.

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, who raised her political profile with a failed run against Sen. Barbara Boxer of California in 2010, has frequently been mentioned as a long-shot contender to seek the Republican presidential nomination.  The speculation is driven by equal parts novelty and activity:  Fiorina, who paid several high-profile visits to early-nominating states in 2014, acknowledged that she would likely be the only woman in the GOP field.

Wait.  What about South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley?  But, I digress.

My concern with Governor Jeb Bush is that this nation does not need a dynasty in the Presidency.  This is not North Korea.  As good as Governor Jeb Bush may be, we don't need three Bush Presidencies in short order.  If President Washington can step down after two terms, then the Bush family can step back after two Presidencies.

So, if Ms Fiorina announces, she is at the top of my active candidates list, at least for now.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Or NorK, as Talkshow Host Rush Limbaugh calls the nation.

Can You Prove She Said Yes?

For John, BLUFEither the Courts are going to fix this or we will see massive social upheaval.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The new thing is "Yes means Yes" laws popping up around the nation, with California in the lead.

Now comes a Washington Examiner reporter, Ashe Schow, asking "How can those accused of sexual assault prove consent under 'yes means yes'?"

Your response is to say the accused are innocent until proven guilty, but that is not the trend with regard to the pronouncements from the US Department of Education and the procedures on campuses across the country.

There is even a book, on the topic, from 2008, Yes Means Yes.

Our only hope is in Love itself.  Not in promiscuity.  I reference I Corinthians, 13:4-8a.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

What is Next For Censorship?

For John, BLUFI am surprised the Mainstream Media hasn't picked up on the long term risks inherent.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Pajamas Media we have Bridget Johnson and "Psaki:  Kim Jong-un Comedy Totally Different from Mohammed Film Slammed by State Dept."

She is talking about Ms Jen Psaki, Spokesperson for the Department of State.

Psaki said she wouldn’t compare the comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong-un to the Mohammed film initially blamed for the Benghazi attack, a movie heavily criticized by the State Department.

“I would not put them in the same category, which I’m sure does not surprise you,” Psaki said. “We don’t have — it’s a fiction movie. It’s not a documentary about our relationship with the United — with North Korea. It’s not something we backed, supported or necessarily have an opinion on from here.”

Ms Psaki may see them as different, but that doesn't mean it is so.  Recent events show the answer to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's one time question:
What difference, at this point, does it make?
A heck of a lot.

Who, at this point, is going to stand up for us?

Regards  —  Cliff

nKorea Shows Us The Future

For John, BLUFWe need to push back on this Sony Hacking thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Kim Jong-un to Host 87th Annual Oscars

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Illustrated On the Road

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

Lowell's Jack Kerouac is mentioned in the Althouse Blog. Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gary Becker RIP

I am, reluctantly, deleting from my Blog Roll The Becker-Posner Blog.  Sadly, Gary Becker passed away this year.


In memoriam: Gary S. Becker, 1930-2014.

The Becker-Posner blog is terminated.

Richard A. Posner

Regards  —  Cliff

UMass System President to Leave for Maryland

For John, BLUFI hope Marty stays here.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So the head of the UMass University System is leaving for Maryland.  At least that is what The Boston Globe is saying in this article, "Robert Caret leaving as president of UMass:  Will take over as leader of Maryland’s system".  I wonder if Senator Markey had anything to do with this?

The good news is that UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan is claiming to not be interested in the job.

Before Caret was named UMass president, UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan was mentioned as a potential candidate for the post, speculation that quickly resumed.

But Meehan said Wednesday that he has had no conversations about the job and is “very happy at UMass Lowell.”

“The transformation of UMass Lowell is underway, and I’m happy to be part of it,” he said.  “I’m fully engaged in continuing our growth at UMass Lowell.”

On the other hand, Senator E Warren is saying the same thing about the Presidency.  Who among us believes her?

Regards  —  Cliff

Cyber War Over a Movie

For John, BLUFWe lost.  We lost big.  There is no end to our losing in sight.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here are the thoughts of David Maxwell, Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  The headline of his blog post is "Brief Thoughts on Responses to north Korean Cyber Terrorism".

To Former Secretary of State Clinton, this is the difference it makes.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Savage War of Peace

For John, BLUFIf we want to lead the world in the values area we need to dial back the EIT and Black Sites.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web magazine War on the Rocks we have a piece on the issue of Torture, or Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.  The headline is "Torture in a Savage War of Peace:  Revisiting the Battle of Algiers".  Back when I was young, in the 1950s, I must have been a bit of a Franco-phile.  I followed the Battle for Dien-Bien Phu on the radio.  I knew that French Prime Minister Pierre Mendès France had tried to introduce milk as a suitable drink in France.  I followed the return of Charles de Gaulle to lead the French People.  And, around 1959, on the recommendation of my Father, I read The Question.

In their article, War on the Rocks provides a reprint of an extract from Historian Alistair Horne's book on the French fight to retain Algeria as part of Metropolitan France, A Savage War of Peace.

Torture, or Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, are wrong.  The Bush Administration should not have gone down that rabbit hole.  On the other hand, I can understand how there was movement in that direction.  Who knew what was going to happen next?  The unfolding of events on 9/11 just seemed to go on and on and we had no idea what would happen on 9/12.

I am not one of those calling of prosecutions, but I am one of those calling for us to repudiate those techniques and to return to our previous legal standards.  I think former Vice President Chaney is wrong in this area.

I commend to you the article from War on the RocksHere again is the link.

Regards  —  Cliff

Chanukah is a Holiday of Resistance.

For John, BLUFChanukah should be a Christian celebration also.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Blog Sultan Knish (Author by Mr Daniel Greenfield) we have a meditation on Chanukah, "A Dangerous Holiday"
Holidays are a calendar. They mark points in emotional and physical time. They remind of us who we are.

Many of those celebrating Chanukah celebrate a holiday that does nothing more than celebrate 'celebration', the rituals and rites of entertainment, a special food, a symbol whose meaning they don't remember and a little family fun.

Chanukah is many things but it is not a safe holiday. It is a victory celebration in a guerrilla war. It is a reminder that Obama's war on Jerusalem was preceded long before him by Antiochus's war on Jerusalem. It is a brief light in a period of great darkness.

I have always, since I read Macabees, understood that this is about revolution and the overthrow of oppressors.

And, I see it as a precursor of the freedom promised by Christmas.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Medical Marijuana Now Legal Nation Wide

For John, BLUFWe are moving toward legalization.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Remember the CROmnibus Bill, the bill to fund the Government for Fiscal Year 2015—$1.1 Trillion?  Tucked inside was a provision to remove Federal restrictions on Medical Mary Jane.

Co-sponsors were Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, from Costa Mesa, and Democrat Rep. Sam Farr, from Carmel (both in California).

This means that no longer will the threat of Federal arrest hang over users of medical marijuana.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The one where the entire Massachusetts Delegation voted against keeping the Federal Government open.

Prison Transgender Fight Goes On

For John, BLUFI am sure there will be another attempt at an appeal.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The issue of transgendered inmates in prison was in the news again Tuesday.  The article in The Boston Globe took two reports, both Messrs John R. Ellement and Martin Finucane.  The headline read:  "Ruling overturned on sex-change surgery for Mass. inmate"

The lede and subsequent two paragraphs:

A divided federal appeals court in Boston on Tuesday overturned a lower court’s ruling that a transgender Massachusetts prison inmate, convicted of committing a domestic murder, was entitled to taxpayer-funded sex change surgery.

The ruling by the First US Circuit Court of Appeals came after a 2012 ruling by US District Judge Mark Wolf, who ordered the surgery after finding that the state’s failure to provide it violated the inmate’s Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

In January, a three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld Wolf’s 2012 decision, but the state of Massachusetts then asked for an en banc, or full bench, review, which led to Tuesday’s ruling.

My recollection is that when Judge Wolf originally ruled he was a little peeved at the Commonwealth for serious foot dragging on the question of dealing with the needs of a transgendered person in prison.

For us the question is if it is an equal rights issue or a mental health issue or a safety issue or a little bit of each.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Delegation Votes Against Keeping Federal Government Open

For John, BLUFSo why did the Mass Delegation vote against funding the Government?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This mornings edition of The Boston Globe, page A-2, had an article by Reporter Noah Bierman, headlined "Spending bill had no fans in Mass. delegation."  This is about the $1.1 Trillion spending bill, the so called CROmnibus Bill.

Why?  Well there is the Senator E Warren articulated concern about weakening the Dodd-Frank Bill, which was supposed to fix Wall Street, but didn't.  Then there was concern about weakening McCain-Fiengold Campaign Finance Regulations.  And probably a million other little items.

The big thing is, the US Congress funded the Federal Government to the end of the Fiscal Year, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded into February of 2015.  And, the President was in agreement.

So, when someone talks about partisanship, it might be good to reflect back on the CROmnibus and how Democrats and Republicans came together to pass the bill, or to oppose the bill.  Sometimes partisanship is just ideological divide and one side or the other is willing to run the wagon right up to the edge of the cliff to make their point.

For those interested in some of the Senate machinations over the past weekend, here is the view from Texas, via Senator Ted Cruz.

One more item of interest.  The graphic in The Globe records the Senate vote as one of three combinations:

  • Two Nays
  • One Nay, One 'No Vote'
  • One Nay, One Yea
  • One Yea, One 'No Vote'
  • Two Yeas
Per Wikipedia, in the US Senate the Clerk calls the "Yeas and Neys", but the responses are "Aye" or "No".  That gives three possible combinations—Both Senators from a given State vote Aye, One votes Aye and one votes No, or both vote No.  Where did the other options come from and what do they mean.  The reporter, Mr Bierman, says he doesn't know.  I went to the web site mentioned in the graphic and found that the other option wasn't a form of "No" but rather an abstention or an absence.  Four Senators, two from Oklahoma, one from California and one from George, did not vote.  One Democrat and three Republicans didn't vote. One wonders if one of the Republicans formed a "live pair" with Diane Feinstein?

Regards  —  Cliff

  The CR stands for Continuing Resolution, which, when the US Congress can't actually vote out a real budget, they use to continue things from the way they were last year.  The Omnibus part is that it is a single large bill, incorporating all sorts of Departmental Budgets.
  The idea that more regulation will mean better control of Wall Street misses the point that the Wall Street types can afford to hire a lot of very bright quants to find the paths between the words of the laws to allow Wall Street to make even more money.  Sadly, laws tend to not just shut down bad activities but to also open up new areas for questionable behavior.
  Turns out the DNC and RNC both supported this change, since the newly empowered PACs were draining money from the National Level Party Organizations and causing them to run up debt.  Frankly, making the PACs more powerful might not have been a good idea.

Physician, Heal Thyself

For John, BLUFWhere Government money abounds there is corruption.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun (Page 2) is an Associated Press article (Reporter Philip Marcelo) Headlined "FBI asks for help identifying government corruption".  Here is the lede:
BOSTON (AP) -- The FBI is asking the public's help in identifying government corruption in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
The article mentions Boston Field Office Special Agent in Charge Vincent Lisi, who has a toll free tip line, 1-844-NoBribe (662-7423).  Catchy.

I am glad that the FBI is fighting corruption, but a news release doesn't clear up issues about "Fast and Furious" and about the IRS problems focused on Ms Louis Lerner or other such imbroglios.  Then there is the Federal Attorney in Boston, Ms Carmen Ortiz and the whole Caswell Motel issue.

I am hoping the proposed new US Attorney General, Ms Loretta Lynch, will restore some luster to the Department of Justice.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, December 15, 2014

Find the Terrorist

For John, BLUFMaybe we should be taking to the streets, protesting police treatment of Caucasians on Long Island.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Sometimes it is best to just go with the whole Instapundit blog post:

PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: ‘You are a ‘Teabagger!” Long Island Woman Receives $1.12 Million For False Prosecution.
Southhampton cops searched her and found a legally owned rifle that she was transporting from a nearby rifle range.  She contends a deputy sheriff arrived on the scene later and said to her, “I bet you are one of those Tea Party people.”  When Genovese said she’s gone to Tea Party rallies, he allegedly said, “You’re a real right-winger, aren’t you?” and “You are a ‘Teabagger’” and then added that she’d be arrested for terrorism to make an example of other “right wingers.”
That’s just pathetic. Glad she hit ‘em hard in the pocketbook.  I think someone should also refer this to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for . . . what?  Why are you laughing?
I especially liked the last para.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dems Teeing Up for 2016

For John, BLUFLooking forward to an exciting two years.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So President Clinton Special Counsel, Mr Lanny Davis, tells us "Why I am ready for Hillary".  He gives us some reasons.

First, Ms Clinton has a vision for future growth and job creation.  Up-Check.

Second, she is a "Progressive" who can work with the Private Sector and Republicans,  Up-Check.

And third.

And third, she is by far the most qualified of all potential candidates, Democratic or Republican.  No one has Clinton’s combination of years in public service and experience at the state and federal levels, combined with her international and national security/anti-terrorism experience during four years of able service as secretary of State.  In a dangerous world, she implemented her “smart power” approach:  avoiding over-reliance on U.S. military intervention and, rather, using the “soft power” of America’s economic strength, trade and human rights and democratic values.
This one is up for debate.  I am not sure I think she showed these qualities during the Benghazi Imbroglio.  Early mistakes with no explanations or apologies.

Finally, Mr Davis brings up this point:

I have a daughter and two granddaughters.  I want to give them a good answer to the question they and many women and girls in America ask:  How come there have been women presidents and prime ministers in countries all over the world but never once in America?  Up to now, I have not had a good answer.
However, it turns out that Ms Clinton is not the only possible woman the Democrats could run.  The [Lowell] Sun had an article on page two of Saturday's edition, headlined "Former Obama aides urging Warren run for president".
More than 300 former campaign staffers and organizers for President Barack Obama have signed on to a letter urging Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016, the latest effort to nudge the Democrat into the race.
Three hundred is a pretty big number at this point in the 2016 Campaign.

Please don't be confused.  I don't want either one.  But that said, they are both interesting candidates and this will be an interesting two years.  And Senator E Warren should not be counted out too quickly.  Her hat may not be in the ring, at this time, but that doesn't mean it won't be, at some point.

Regards  —  Cliff

  As long as it isn't a Keynesian vision.  That would be a disaster.
  Hillary is the One?  Senator Obama was supposed to be that in 2008 and beyond.
  I am a little concerned about electing a woman just like it was checking off a semi-annual training square to be filled.  A woman would be nice, but it isn't a fundamental requirement.  Competence would be nice.
  Associated Press.
  Remember how she came to the Senate Primary Campaign late and blew away all the other Democrat Candidates.