Monday, March 31, 2014

Asian Pivot Meets Confrontation

For John, BLUFNot every shooting incident leads to war, but…  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yes, the Ukraine is in the news and we all know about the Russian "anschluss" of Crimea, but who knows about the ongoing confrontation at Second Thomas Shoal, in the South China Sea, and yesterday's specific action.

From Reuters we have an article by Erik de Castrol and Roli Ng, "Philippine ship dodges China blockade to reach South China Sea outpost".

Regards  —  Cliff

Back to Waco

For John, BLUFI don't think it is a given that the Feds know what they are doing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The 31 March issue of The New Yorker has an article by Author and Journalist Malcom Gladwell, "Sacred and Profane", about the Federal Government's seige of the Dividian Compound in Waco, Texas, the Mount Carmel community.  The sub-headline is "How not to negotiate with believers."

This article is a look at the US Attorney General's approach to Mount Carmel Leader David Koresh and his followers.  Of Mr Malcolm Gladwell, the author, Wikipedia says:

Gladwell's books and articles often deal with the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences and make frequent and extended use of academic work, particularly in the areas of sociology, psychology, and social psychology.
Such is the case outside Waco.  The Feds were unable to break out of their mind sets and as a result people died.  When your tool is a hammer, every problem is a nail.  When you wield a really big hammer, the problem is still seen as a nail.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 30, 2014

IRS Problem

For John, BLUFCouldn't they say "mistakes were made"?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

TAXPROF:  The IRS Scandal, Day 325.  Jailing Lois Lerner under the House’s “inherent contempt” power:  “Lerner could be held until January 2015 when a new Congress is seated, which could issue another subpoena and throw her in the clink again if she still balks at testifying.  According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, inherent contempt has the unique advantage that it doesn’t require ‘the cooperation or assistance of either the executive or judicial branches.  The House or Senate can, on its own, conduct summary proceedings and cite the offender for contempt.’”
On the other hand, there is the whole Bill of Attainder thing (Article I, Section 9).

And why was Chairman Darrell Issa so discourteous to Ranking Member Elijah Cummings the last time Ms Lois Lerner was in town?

Then there is this, from The Washington Examiner:

Years will pass before congressional investigators can review all of the documents pertaining to the inappropriate targeting of Tea Party groups, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen told a House panel Wednesday.
Years?  These are the folks doing the important work on the PP&ACA!  Years?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gun Control

For John, BLUFGun control is someone else trying to control your ownership of guns.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday on City Life, at the very end of the show, the question of gun control came up.  Too late for the audience to respond.

We will pass over, for now, the question of trying to eviscerate our Bill of Rights through the back door and the question of if we chip away at this or that part of the Bill of Rights will we eventually just have chips and dust.

Let us ask ourselves the question of why we need the Second Amendment and then ask if those needs are satisfied:

  1. Overthrow the Government—I think Thomas Jefferson is the big proponent of this.
  2. Hunting.
  3. Protecting the home, and family from home invasion.
  4. Protecting oneself on the street, from crime.
  5. Hobbies such as shooting and collecting of antique firearms.
Now let us see where we stand:
  1. While I think President Jefferson was a little over the top with his tree of liberty line, this is a never-ending need, as other nations show.
  2. Well, some may think hunting is cruel, I don't, even though I don't hunt.  And in some parts of the nation hunting is a way of gathering food.
  3. When the bad guys are only feet away the Police are only minutes away.
  4. Like Number 3.
  5. I don't see the harm, given that the gun owners keep things locked up when not in use.
One of the problems with gun control is it is a never ending quest.  There will always be someone out there with a gun.  At the end of the day some police arm of the Government will have to tear apart every house in America to ensure there are no more guns. 

An indication of seriousness on the part of the Government would be a move to disarm the police (as in the UK) and most other agencies authorized to carry firearms.  The US Department of Education?  Please.  Call the Marshall Service.  Or Treasury.  Or the FBI.

UPDATE:  On a check ride in 1979 I flew into Chicken, Alaska, had lunch, and flew back out.  I was gigged for sucking the gear too soon coming out of Chicken—it was a short field in amongst rough terrain.  Chicken was also visited by the Feds more recently, in this case the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force (EPA).  Guns and body armor.  What has this nation come to when the Federal Government is afraid of the ordinary citizens.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
  Whoops, there goes another of our Rights under the First Ten Amendments.
  That would be some Federal 73 agencies, including the US Department of Education, which in 2012 purchases 27 "police grade" shotguns, to add to their inventory of weapons.  Why?

Globe Paying Attention

For John, BLUFDid we follow the rules, or not?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Metro Section of yesterday's Boston Globe we have this headline:
Dispute over convention vote roils state GOP
Alleged violation of rules may have denied Baker opponent a primary challenge
This is not pretty.

Regards  —  Cliff

Making Medical Care Better

For John, BLUFMy medical care is excellent.  But not so for everyone.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Instapundit, a couple of days ago:
We shouldn’t forget that ObamaCare was written in the dead of night by Harry Reid’s office, voted on, unread, by the Senate hours later and sent to the House which passed it “as is” so it would not have to go back to the Senate where Scott Brown’s vote would have killed it.

Therefore, there was no internal consistency check.  There was no opportunity for clarifying amendments. There was no opportunity for anything Harry Reid did not think was appropriate.  That is why we keep finding these unintended consequences that Obama tries to paper over with Executive Orders.

That is why the idea of “fixing” ObamaCare is a very bad idea.  There are so many traps in the bill (as well as in the stacks of “rules”) that no one could untangle the mess.  This is just like a badly designed web site.  Best to start all over than try to add undocumented patch upon undocumented patch in a vain attempt to fix it.

If the Republicans get control of the Senate, they should identify what the minimum requirements of a health care system should be, and create a much simpler, easy to understand bill and send that to Obama.

I suppose that, in a flipside of Obama’s Executive Order strategy, they could just deem the bill to pass into law regardless of what Obama does.
My first step would be adding 80,000 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to the Public Health Service.  Some would be already trained and certified.  Others the PHS would send to school, maybe one or more PHS medical universities.  All of these trained medical professionals would be spread across the nation for their "payback tours".  They would provide medical care where it is thin on the ground, and also medical education for populations that think the medical answer is "wait until it is awful and then go to the emergency room."

Regards  —  Cliff

NB:  For those of you who think this is all Scott Brown's fault, you could also blame FBI Special Agent Mary Beth Kepner, who torpedoed the reelection of Senator Ted Stevens.  Or just blame Acting Senator Paul G Kirk, for not just saying no.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jeremiah A Denton (RIP)

For John, BLUFThis man showed the stuff of heroes.

We have lost a great man and an American hero in the death of Senator Jeremiah Denton.  Here is the news from The Washington Post.  In the article:
The cause was complications from a heart ailment, said his son Jim Denton.  Adm. Denton was a native of Alabama, where in 1980 he became the state’s first Republican to win election to the Senate since Reconstruction.
So, I wonder to which party Alabama Senators from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to 1980 belonged, some 15 years?  This sure doesn't follow the narrative.

Regards  —  Cliff

Leland Yee, Buried

For John, BLUFYou have to sample widely to avoid ignorance.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Quoting from The Instapundit:
BIG ANTI-GUN POLITICIAN CHARGED WITH GUN-RUNNING, New York Times buries it on page A21.  “California: State Senator Accused of Corruption.”
Regards  —  Cliff

Innovative Campaign Fund Raising

For John, BLUFHe didn't see it coming?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

California Secretary of State Candidate Leland Yee is a poster boy for Campaign Finance Reform.  If he didn't have all those campaign debts he would not have had to be running guns.  How else do you explain him being willing to arrange a sale of automatic weapons to Philippine terrorists?  For $2,000,000.

But, he is a Democrat and probably not getting help from the Koch Brothers.  On the other hand, where were the Unions and George Soros?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Which we know had to pain him terribly, given that he was such an Anti-2nd Amendment nut case.
  On the other, yesterday's news had the Philippine government signing a peace accord with the country's largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).  Unfortunately, Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim insurgent (terrorist) group, with international links, is still out there, and the US is still helping the Philippine army fight to suppress that group.

“Right now, there’s a vacuum"

For John, BLUFIf there is a vacuum something will flow in to fill it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I have like Condi Rice since she was an intern in the Pentagon (that would be a PhD expert on the Soviet General Staff, working in the Nuclear/Chemical Division of The Joint Staff J-5, Directorate of Strategic Plans and Policy).

Here she talks to Republicans about the current foreign policy situation.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Non-Extension Extension

For John, BLUF"Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”—Ben Franklin.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

When is an extension not an extension?  When you just testified that you were not going to give another extension.
Professor Althouse presents us with a multiple choice test (with all the quotes taken from Charles Krauthammer's effort at answering the question).

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Party Friday Evening

For John, BLUFLight food and refreshments.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On Friday, the 28th (tomorrow), the Mass Republican Party will open the "Merrimack Valley Victory Office", from which we hope to achieve "victory" in November.

227 Chelmsford Street
Chelmsford, MA 01824

The Mass Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker will be there as the honored guest.

Time is 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.  Please RSVP to Chris Lane, the Regional Field Director, at

NB:  I give equal time to other parties, if they ask, or at least give a hint.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good For Goose, Good For Gander?

For John, BLUFNone are so blind as those who look for idealism in Russia.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Daily Beast seems a little rough on poor Mr Edward Snowden (NSA Leaker), but, as the article demonstrates, it is a bit of an awkward position, Mr Snowden condemning the US for hacking phones while his host, Mr Putin is doing the same thing and then leaking the contents.  Not the Metadata, the Conversation.  "Putin's Latest Dirty Trick:  Leaking Private Phone Calls".

The same government that gives asylum to NSA outlaw Edward Snowden is intercepting and leaking the private phone calls of its adversaries.

In the last seven weeks, intercepted phone conversations between Western and Ukrainian officials have mysteriously surfaced on the Internet.  U.S. intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast these phone recordings are part of a deliberate Russian strategy to collect and publicize the private conversations of their adversaries.

Is it OK if a despot does it?

A follower of that despot of despots, Joseph Stalin?

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Administration in Court Over Execution of Laws

For John, BLUFI blame Congress for this revolting development.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In court today, per The Wall Street Journal, the Federal Government will go to Court over what can and can't be changed in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by Government Administrative Fiat.
Unlike the challenge to the individual insurance mandate, Halbig v. Sebelius involves no great questions of constitutional interpretation.  The plaintiffs are merely asking the judges to tell the Administration to faithfully execute the plain language of the statute that Congress passed and President Obama signed.
Well, nothing is ever that simple.  But the point is that the law says one thing and the Federal Government is doing another.  Is there any limit to what the Executive Branch can do to modify Federal Laws (passed by Congress) in the process of faithfully executing them?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi likes Affordable Care Act, but City Life Host George Anthes likes "Obamacare".

Potholes in Lowell

For John, BLUFCity Government and City Workers want to make things better.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday I blogged on this issue after a conversation with Commissioner of Public Works Ralph Snow.

Now comes the City Manager's Blog on the same issue, with info on Apps for uploading pictures of potholes to the Department of Public Works.

Regards  —  Cliff

Embedded Ethnic Groups

For John, BLUFNo more Belvidere Village breakout.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The Ukraine crisis brought this item from the blog Samizdata.  The headline is "Latest on the referendum in the Ukraine:  Hughesovka votes to join the UK."  Here is the gist of it:
Donestk was founded in the 19th century by John Hughes, a Merthyr Tydfil steel worker who had landed a contract from the Tsarist government to provide steel plating for the navy.

Now residents of the city have responded to pro-Russian protests for autonomy from Kiev with an internet vote that rejects Russia’s claims in favour of a turn to the Queen and London.

It calls for the restoration of the original name Hughesovka or Yuzovka and requests London rule.

After the Bolshevik revolution, the city was renamed Stalino and finally called Donetsk in 1961.

A total of 7,000 people had voted by Sunday with 61 per cent voting to secede to Britain and a further 16 per cent voting to make the city an English-speaking autonomous region inside Ukraine.

“We demand a referendum on the return to Yuzovka to its original bosom – a part of Great Britain,” the preamble declared.  “Glory to John Hughes and his town.  God Save the Queen.”

Sounds like a spoof, pointing up the strangeness of the Russian seizure of Crimea, and a putdown of the concept of encouraging ethnic or other minorities in maintaining their isolation from the population as a whole.  In fact, it is not.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]"
  Yes, part of my family is from Merthyr.  Maybe we need a referendum here in the Belvidere.  :-)

Washington In Disarray?

For John, BLUFThe term "uncharted territory" always peaks my senses.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From over the weekend we had this item at Politico, by Mr Darren Samuelsohn, "Dianne Feinstein-CIA feud enters uncharted territory".
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s battle with the CIA has entered dangerous, uncharted territory.

Caught in the crossfire of the powerful California Democrat’s fight with the nation’s most recognized intelligence agency:  America’s ability to manage multiple geopolitical hotspots, top national security nominations and senior Senate and CIA officials who could lose their jobs or possibly even end up in jail.

Managing relations between Congress and the intelligence community is always tricky — an outgrowth of closed-door oversight into sensitive national security issues where lawmakers often complain that they must ask the right questions to get the right answers.

But now that the Justice Department is involved in the dispute between Feinstein’s Intelligence Committee staff and the CIA — deciphering whether the CIA violated the Constitution or federal law by searching Senate computers, or whether Democratic staffers hacked into the CIA’s system to obtain classified documents — things have escalated to an unprecedented level.

While President Barack Obama won’t take sides publicly for fear of interfering with a possible criminal matter, that hasn’t stopped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  The Nevada Democrat last week defended Feinstein, warning in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that the recent back-and-forth accusations she’s had with CIA Director John Brennan could have historic ramifications for constitutional separation of powers.

“Left unchallenged, they call into question Congress’s ability to carry out its core constitutional duties and risk the possibility of an unaccountable Intelligence Community run amok,” Reid wrote.

When the usually feckless Harry Reid wakes up it is time for all of us to pay attention.

Regards  —  Cliff

Keeping Our Eyes Open

For John, BLUFLittle things neglected tend to grow.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Someone I know sent this along yesterday, talking about some happening overseas:
Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk during the 1960s sagely said,
If you don’t pay attention to the periphery, the periphery changes, and the first thing you know, the periphery is the center.
We need to be paying attention

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, March 24, 2014

Charlie Baker Comes to Lowell This Tuesday

For John, BLUFSee you there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker is going to be at the Owl Diner at 9:30 tomorrow, Tuesday, 25 March, for an hour or so.  Please come out and meet him.

Regards  —  Cliff

Filling the Holes

For John, BLUFCooperation makes things go more smoothly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In response to a discussion at dinner one evening, a week ago, I called the Commissioner of Public Works here in Lowell, Mr Ralph Snow.  Who is also an Assistant City Manager.  Like me, Mr Snow (or Captain Snow, to refer to his rank in the US Navy, from which he is retired), has been under the weather, but he did return my call.

The Question:  If there is a pot hole here in Lowell, but it is on a State road, is there any point in contacting the city about it.  Hidden in that question is the question of if you would know if it was a City Street or a State Road, or even if it was a street that had been incorporated into the City, or was just out there as some private byway.

The Answer:  Call.  If it is not a City Street they (DPW) will pass it on to the State District responsible, and, Mr Snow noted, if the State is backlogged and it is a serious pot hole the City may fix it on their own, with an informal "you owe me" arrangement with the applicable State district.

This sounds like just the kind of response and cooperation that makes things hum in a locality.

I am glad I called and I am happy to heap praise on the men and women at DPW.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Department of Public Works, or DPW.

Former Spy Chief Talks

For John, BLUFFact is, people spy, and they do it to protect themselves.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Former NSA Director—'Shame On Us'.

In an interview for the German Weekly, Der Spiegel, reporters Marc Hujer and Holger Stark talk with Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden.  General Hayden headed both the National Security Agency (Fort Meade) and the Central Intelligence Agency (Langley).  From the article:
In a SPIEGEL interview, former NSA director Michael Hayden, 69, discusses revelations of US spying on Germany made public in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, surveillance against German leaders and tensions between Berlin and Washington.
Regarding the title, the "Shame on Us" refers to letting the secrets out, not the spying itself.  We did a terrible thing, we embarrassed our friends.
Although I'm not prepared to apologize for conducting intelligence against another nation, I am prepared to apologize for embarrassing a good friend.  I am prepared to apologize for the fact we couldn't keep whatever it was we may or may not have been doing secret and therefore put a good friend in a very difficult position. Shame on us.  That's our fault.
Interesting read.  And, a frank, forthright and honest person, General Hayden.

Regards  —  Cliff

Seeking the Truth

For John, BLUFEven in North Korea people seek out the truth; carefully.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I just woke up from my nap to hear Host Rush Limbaugh excoriating the Main Stream Media (MSM) for protecting the President from the realities of what is happening at home and abroad.

Frankly, I think that is over the top.  While in the past that may have been the case, it seems to me the realities of what is happening may be breaking through.  If the Russians go from taking Crimea to taking the Ukraine, or the Ukraine plus Estonia or the Ukraine plus Estonia plus Poland the American people will awaken to that fact and factor that into their voting.  The MSM can't overcome that without totally changing who they are, and without losing out to upstart media—think Fox News, think the Internet.

Rush is wrong here.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Next Radical Health Care Prediction

For John, BLUFIt is going to cost us, one way or the other.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, who helped devise the Affordable Care Act, has a vision for how it will eventually work. Democrats hope it will not materialize anytime soon.
That is the lede in an article in The International New York Times. Ezekiel EManuel?  Yes, the Brother of the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm.
Mr. Emanuel [Ezekiel] expects the law to produce an unadvertised but fundamental shift in where most working Americans get their health insurance — specifically, a sharp drop in the number of employers who offer coverage to their workers.  That scale of change would dwarf what took place last fall, when a political firestorm erupted over President Obama’s “if you like your plan you can keep it” pledge.
Ouch!  The "if you like it you can keep it" pledge.  But, back to the point Mr E EManuel is making, health care from employers, in these United States, came about in part because of FDR and WWII, when pay raises couldn't be used to attract new workers, but fringe benefits, like health insurance, could.  It is quite possible that business economics could move employers to change benefits offered to employees, but included in the considerations will be the unemployment rate.  If employers are searching for the good workers and trying to poach them from other employers, health benefits will be a factor.

The thing I find interesting is the belief on the part of Mr Emanuel in the ability of the Federal Government to be efficient and effective.  Talking about the "exchanges" the article says:

With consistent attention, he insists, government can solve the technical problems just as major retailers have.
That may be comparing apples and oranges.

Oh, the book.  Here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Cranky Delegates on the Floor

For John, BLUFDifferences of opinion abound.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From someone I know:
I was for Mark Fisher.
I was not comfortable with the way the voting was done at the Convention.
I was pounced upon by my State Committeewoman to change to a Charlieguy, early in the morning. She told me that a Fisher vote was a bad idea.
I was later pounded on for Charlie by a delegate who later wound up recording the vote. She told me that a vote for Fisher was a bad idea. Then I saw her recording the verbal votes.

Then to see that Fisher was killed by blank votes makes me very suspect that I was once again railroaded by the State Committee.
Charlie Baker is a big guy and I feel like he was shoved down my throat by the State Committee. Is public debate dead?

If we vote it should be in writing so that the results can be verified and replicated.

I have no evidence of foul play, but my instincts tell me that there is a skunk under the shed.

Frankly, a number of Republicans I know were for Mark Fisher at this point, because they wanted him to have the 15% of the delegate votes, so there would be a contested primary.  Why a contested primary?  To get the issues out there and to find out who supports what.

I would suggest that those of us out here in the grass roots don't like the "Down Town" (read Boston-centric) Republicans trying to dictate to us.

Was it a railroad job?  We will never know.

What we do know is that a chance to debate the issues important to the voters of this Commonwealth has been missed and we will all be poorer for it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Drawing the Line

For John, BLUFGlad to see this being discussed on City Life.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Reuters had an item Saturday, "Poland calls for larger U.S. military presence in eastern Europe".

We currently have a "squadron" of F-16s in Poland, so that is a token of commitment, but people tend to like the idea of ground forces as the real indicator of external support.

Where would you draw the line?

Regards  —  Cliff

Don't Write That Letter

For John, BLUFTake time to cool off.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Althouse Blog is a link to a New York Times OpEd by Ms Maria Konnikova, "The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter." In an inside joke, Professor Althouse notes that her favorite sentence is:
In some ways, little has changed in the art of the unsent letter since Lincoln thought better of excoriating Meade.
This OpEd resonates with me, in that I learned at an early age that if angry, don't send a letter (this was back before EMail), and if you must write the letter, do so, but put it in your lower right hand desk drawer.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Can't Get a Get

For John, BLUFAbusing people is just plain wrong.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Per The International New York Times, Realtor Lonna Kin, of New York, an Orthodox Jew, can not get a Get from her ex-husband.  The former husband has remarried, asserting, indirectly, that he has the approval of 100 rabbis.

Here is the article.

Meir Kin, the new husband, has been divorced for more than seven years, under California’s civil law.  But he has refused to give his previous wife the document known as a “get,” as required by Orthodox Jewish law to end a marriage.  In the eyes of religious authorities, the woman he married in 2000 is what is called an agunah — Hebrew for chained wife.  Without the get, the woman, Lonna Kin, is forbidden under Jewish law to remarry.

Jewish law prohibits men from taking multiple wives. But Mr. Kin, according to several rabbis here, apparently relied on a legal loophole, which says that if a man can get the special permission of 100 rabbis to take a second wife, he is able to do so.

Regards  —  Cliff

Setting the Tone

For John, BLUFSetting the tone is important.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is just a theory, but it seems that when the blogger is cranky and argumentative, the comments are cranky and argumentative.  I cite as my example this post from Law Professor Ann Althouse.  The post is titled "A bill in Massachusetts that would require you to get permission from a judge in order to have sex in your own home."

Remember, this theory isn't about the proposed law or even about the Commonwealth's Constitution, which allows a citizen to put forward a bill.  Nor is it about George Soros and his tools, such as Think Progress.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Are Obamacare Numbers About Government Competence?

For John, BLUFIf we can't do a national health care system, are we competent enough to deal with Russia over Ukraine?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is Commentator Michael Barone asking, "Hispanics souring on Obamacare -- and Democrats too?"  Well, not really moving somewhere else politically, so maybe just not bothering at the State and National levels.  No one believes the majority of Hispanics will move to some other party.
Will Hispanics remain a heavily Democratic voting bloc?  Maybe not.  The 2008 electoral exit poll showed them breaking 67 to 30 percent for Barack Obama (despite John McCain's support of comprehensive immigration legislation) and the 2012 exit poll showed them breaking 71 to 27 percent for Obama (making them one of the few demographic groups whose support for Obama increased rather than decreased between 2008 and 2012).

But Obamcare may be costing the president and his party support among Hispanics.  Sharp-eyed analyst Rebecca Kaplan at CBS News notes that the latest Pew Research Center poll on the Affordable Care Act shows 47 percent of Hispanics approving of it and 47 percent disapproving.  As the Pew analysts note, this is a huge drop:  61 percent of Hispanics approved of Obamacare in September 2013.  Obamacare, after all, was sold as a program that would help the uninsured, and a significantly higher than average percentage of Hispanics don't have health insurance.

The numbers never lie, although they may be confusing.  Here is Mr Barone's take:
I think that Obamacare may be discrediting Big Government generally among Hispanic voters.  They may have assumed that government in the United States was competent and functional.  They have been finding out that Obamacare has been about as competent and functional as government in Mexico.
Doesn't mean they will voted for the dreaded Republicans, who they may associate with the oligarchs in Mexico.

Regards  —  Cliff

Journalism as Espionage

For John, BLUFTwo sources are better than one.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A friend sent along this item from Naval War College (Newport, RI) Professor John Schindler and his XX Committee blog.  It is titled "Western Journalists and Russian Intelligence".
The Russian seizure of Crimea plus Moscow’s intimidation, and worse, of all Ukraine, has created an awkward situation for Edward Snowden’s fans and enablers. That Ed has taken up residence in Putin’s Russia, and continues to pontificate about privacy and the perfidy of Western intelligence while under Kremlin protection, is a bit much, so much so that even MSM stalwarts have begun to ask difficult questions about the whole Snowden-linked apparat.
The Professor does go on to name names, including the infamous Walter Duranty and several others who served their Soviet Masters, including I F Stone, who finally broke with Moscow in 1956, over Hungary.

I wonder if there are Russian journalists working the other side of the street?  For sure, Glenn Greenwald and his friend Edward Snowden represent the wrong side of the street.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Not that NSA is the Poster Child for Truth, Justice and the American Way—and I have friends I respect who worked there.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mass GOP Convention Report

For John, BLUFEvery Vote Counts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Unofficial RMG Tally
by: Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno
Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 16:51:13 PM EDT

Baker 2095
Fisher 371
Blanks 9
14.99% with blanks
15.04% without blanks

If it fails I am going to feel real bad, worse than I do from my recent surgery.

My sympathy if you don't understand.

Regards  —  Cliff


For John, BLUFSad, but relevant.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A friend of mine out in Texas, describing a former supervisor:
...with an IQ below his body temperature.
Regards  —  Cliff

The Multi-Universe

For John, BLUFHoly Jean-Luc Picard.  Warp Drive at the Big Bang!  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at Fortuna's Corner we have "New Big Bang Evidence Points to Multiple Universes".
Miriam Kramer, has an article with the title above in the March 19, 2014 online website, “”  She writes that “the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation — a period of rapid expansion that occurred a fraction of a second after the Big Bang some 14B years ago — also supports the idea that our universe is just one of many out there.
And, to add to the shock, we had stuff moving at more that the speed of light, which we know can't happen.
Earlier this week, scientists reported “new findings that mark the first direct evidence of primordial gravitational waves — ripples in space-time created just after the universe began.”  “If the results are confirmed,” she writes, “they would provide smoking-gun evidence that space-time expanded at many times the speed of light, just after the Big-Bang 13.8M years ago.”
This can't be good.  Not only do we have to fret about space aliens, but now aliens from other universes.

And otherwise thoughtful people wonder why some like the idea of a universe only about six thousand years old.  Heck, we may be in the wrong universe.

Regards  —  Cliff

EU Moves to Help Ukraine

For John, BLUFAs Realists, do we not recognize the value of Democracy spreading, rather than retreating?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Reporter Adrian Croft, via Reuters, gives us "European Union signs landmark association agreement with Ukraine".  Here is the lede and additional defining paragraphs:
The European Union and Ukraine signed the core elements of a political association agreement on Friday, committing to the same deal former president Viktor Yanukovich rejected last November, a move which led to his overthrow.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, EU leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, and the leaders of the bloc's 28 nations signed the core chapters of the Association Agreement on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.

The deal commits Ukraine and the EU to closer political and economic cooperation, although more substantial parts of the agreement concerning free trade will only be signed after Ukraine has held new presidential elections in May.

Of course, there is this probationary period and Ukraine can back out at any time.
Van Rompuy, the European Council president, said the agreement would bring Ukraine and its 46 million people closer to the heart of Europe and a "European way of life".

"(This) recognizes the aspirations of the people of Ukraine to live in a country governed by values, by democracy and the rule of law, where all citizens have a stake in national prosperity," he said.

Do we much care about "democracy and the rule of law" for others any more?  Do we believe democracy can thrive in just one nation?  What do we owe The European Union, and Ukraine.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, March 21, 2014

What Does New Hampshire Know?

For John, BLUFOne is tempted to ask, "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?"  One worries the answer is no.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Boston Globe Opinionator Scot Lehigh takes on former Senator Scott Brown running against Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who gets mentioned once in the story, which is better than Attorney General Martha Coakley gets.  Ms Coakley is merely "lackluster opponent".  As an aside, if anyone is the star of the piece it is Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Frankly, before we press on, I believe Mr Brown is in the New Hampshire race as a Republican Money Sink.  His job is to attract as many Democrat Party Dollars to New Hampshire as he can, thus draining them away from other races.  I think this is a job he can do well.  The question is, can he also beat Ms Shaheen?

The writer gives us this:

Brown ran that first Senate campaign on simple themes:  His opposition to Obamacare, his desire to cut government spending, his supposedly independent thinking, the everyday-guy symbolism of his pickup truck.  In a low profile race against a lackluster opponent, that was enough.  Lightning struck and made him a star.
This is his indictment.  Scott Brown is a man of not only no new ideas, but no ideas.  Put nicely, he was in over his head and it showed up when he went head to head with a Harvard Law School Professor.

There are, however, a couple of points missed.  One is that Senator Brown walked away from the right and toward the center when he ran the second time for the US Senate.  The result was that many on the "right" stayed home that election day a year and a half ago.  He should have stuck with the simple themes.

There is, of course, the question of that recent election down in Florida.  The Republican candidate ran on all those old Scott Brown themes.  And he was a lackluster candidate.  Just ask my friend Dick the German, who constantly points out to me that those tired old themes only attract elderly Caucasian Males.

If Senator Brown returns to his roots and campaigns against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and against big [Federal] government, and maybe for defense (depending on what President V Putin does in the next few month), he might actually beat Ms Shaheen.  But, then, will be be able to play the role of "money sink".

I don't think Mr Lehigh thinks Mr Brown has a snowball's chance in Massachusetts in May, which is to say, with our crazy weather, it is possible.

A key will be the distance between Senator Shaheen and President Obama.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "Obamacare" for City Life Host George Anthes.

A Big Tent

For John, BLUFWe are a strange mix of people here in these United States.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So what is the story with the late Rev Fred Phelps, who passed away this week at the age of 84?  Now, all of a sudden we find that he was excommunicated by the Westboro Baptist Church.  Do you think the elders found out the Rev Phelps was a Registered Democrat?  I actually doubt that was it.

My wife told me that she heard about the party affiliation while driving home from the store.

And here is someone who is all bummed out about it, and not very respectful of his or her Mother.  And, has a poor vocabulary.

UPDATE:  Punctuation and Spelling.

Regards  —  Cliff

Differing Views on Democracy

For John, BLUFWhat Dems see as Democracy may not be what I see.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In today's edition of The Boston Globe is an OpEd by Ms Joanna Weiss that appears to me to be another justification for the way the Massachusetts Democrat Party does business—"15 percent rule?  It's democratic".  I think she means "It's democratic" in the sense of being open to all the voters in a fair way.

What occasions this OpEd is tomorrow's Republican State Convention, where Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker hopes to crush his opponent, Mr Mark Fisher.  By crush I mean leave him with less than 15% of the vote, which would mean that there would be no Primary Contest.

Frankly, I think this would be bad for the party for two reasons.  First off, a Primary Contest would give those of us voting in the Primary on Tuesday, 9 September, a competition that would bring out the views of the candidates, allowing us to better vet the Candidates.  Second, a Primary Contest would stir up some news and thus get our message out and about.

However, my big objection is that there are all these extra delegates out there.  It isn't just the Republican Committees in the various Cities and Towns.  There are all those delegates attached to this or that party official.  What is democratic about that?

Ms Weiss may speak for the Progressives of Massachusetts, but she doesn't speak for me, and I am a member of the Lowell Republican City Committee and the Ward 1 Committee.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Spate of Heroin Addiction

For John, BLUFHow much is too much?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Having just experienced the joys of Laparoscopic Surgery I can attest to the fact that you do get sent home with pain pills and they work, when you use them.  And, I live in fear of addiction, although I am told that if you are using the pills for the pain you won't get addicted.  All that said, Writer Graeme Wood, in The New Republic, warns us "Drug Dealers Aren't to Blame for the Heroin Boom.  Doctors Are."

So, those who find themselves addicted may be our neighbors.  Thus, the question of the "Methadone Clinic" in Lowell isn't just about the down and out of society, but also perhaps people we know.  A new Puritanism, that condemns the weak, does not become us.

What was it George C Marshall used to say?  "Don't fight the problem, solve it."

Regards  —  Cliff

Statistics Aren't Everything

For John, BLUF"Lies, Damn lies, Statistics"—Various.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

With the reappearance of the FiveThirtyEight Blog, giving us data driven news, we have someone offering a small caution.  Over at the website Quartz, we have Ms Allison Schrager, on 19 March, talking about "The problem with data journalism".  Here is the lede:
The recent boom in “data-driven” journalism projects is exciting. It can elevate our knowledge, enliven statistics, and make us all more numerate. But I worry that data give commentary a false sense of authority since data analysis is inherently prone to bias. The author’s priors, what he believes or wants to be true before looking at the data, often taint results that might appear pure and scientific. Even data-backed journalism is opinion journalism. So as we embark on this new wave of journalism, we should be aware of what we are getting and what we should trust.
Regards  —  Cliff

  The name comes from the number of votes in the Electoral College.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Future Civilization Collapse

For John, BLUFThe end is coming, due to your sins, and there is nothing you can do.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At The [Manchester] Guardian is an article on a Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?  As the sub-headline says:  "Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system".
Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:
".... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.  It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."
Missing from the article, and derivative articles, was the name of the peer reviewed article that this was based on.  I EMailed the Guardian author—nothing.  I went to the Goddard and the NSF Center web sites.  Not even bread crumbs.  I searched the web for "Handy".  Turns out there is a paper, accepted for publication, but it is a ways off, per The World Affairs Board.
The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists.  The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.
Of course there is a pay wall for Ecological Economics.  You don't think the 1% does this for free, do you?

Hat tip to the Instapundit, who noted:

Well, they say the Romans’ leadership class became stupid because of lead poisoning.  What’s wrong with ours?
That and The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, FRS.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not Switching

For John, BLUFBut, as long as there is a newspaper, there is hope.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Turns out that the change in comic strips at The [Lowell] Sun was an accident and not a step forward, as reported in this blog post, "Strip Switching".

I am beginning to suspect that the big syndicates just mass mail their strips and the using newspapers just pull down the ones they need.  Putting Sunday's Edition together someone either hit a wrong button or thought they would pull a prank.  I am going with "hit a wrong button".

I like the comic Pros and Cons and the comic Mark Trail has gone cold for me.

Regards  —  Cliff

Nuclear Prolliferation

For John, BLUFNucs are going to be around for a while, General Lee Butler and President Obama notwithstanding.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

It seems to me that President V Putin has done more for nuclear proliferation than anyone since Harry S Truman.  Think Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.  I just can't imagine Iran or north Korea, or even Japan or Ukraine not thinking about how important nuclear weapons are to their own territorial integrity.  Give them up and what do you get in return?  At this point there are much bigger fish to fry than the deluded Edward Snowden, who is being tagged with impacting our nuclear counter-proliferation intelligence efforts by a writer at The Wall Street Journal.

Regards  —  Cliff

  You may substitute criminal if you wish, or even traitor, or even heroic.

Bookmark This Site

For John, BLUFNate Silver tries to get behind the data for the connections.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

You may have heard the phrase the plural of anecdote is not data. It turns out that this is a misquote. The original aphorism, by the political scientist Ray Wolfinger, was just the opposite: The plural of anecdote is data.
I found this above item in the intro to the new (renewed) blog FiveThirtyEight, "What the Fox Knows"FiveThirtyEight is the nom de guerre of Reporter and Statistician Nate Silver and he is back in business.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, March 17, 2014

RBG For Ever

For John, BLUFToo much long term thinking can create bad recommendations.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Law Professor and Blogger Ann Althouse is a little cranky over UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky saying Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "should retire."

Justice Ginsburg is 81.  But, how is her brain?  This just seems to be politics.  Mr Ginsburg should commit suicide to meet the political dreams of Dean Chemerinsky?  Perhaps he should send her a Tantō as a gift.

Separation of powers and all that.  Let Ms Ginsburg be Ms Ginsburg.

Regards  —  Cliff

DiFi vs CIA

For John, BLUFThis is a strange fight, which suggests something deeper.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The New Yorker weighs in on the imbroglio in DC over the Senate Report on the use of torture during the Bush Administration.

Let us be clear.  The Bush Administration, in the wake of 9/11, authorized torture, which was wrong (1) because it is morally objectionable and (2) it doesn't work.

The Obama Administration ended torture on Day Two.  Now, five years later the Chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the head of the CIA, John O Brennan, seem to be in a fight.  Is this about Mr Brennan justifying his time as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, under President George W Bush?

What is President Obama's dog in this fight?

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 16, 2014

He Might As Well Be American

For John, BLUFDifferent sensibilities in Europe.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the blog ¡No Pasarán! we have a link to New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd talking about the situation in France.  Yes, it is a month old, but Erik just got to it yesterday, and besides, MoDo's writing is timeless.  Erik's title is:

"You do not install one mistress at the Élysée when you have another mistress; That is simply bad form."
The French do have a certain sense of who they are, a certain je ne sais quoi.  Erik quotes Ms Dowd
“The whole problem with this Hollande scandal is that he is not married,” says Jean-Marie Rouart, the French novelist.  “Had he been married, this affair would never have been revealed.”

He observed that, as an “elected monarch,” the president has to maintain appearances. “In France, having a mistress is not considered cheating,” he says.  “We are not a puritanical country.  France is Catholic.  We accept sin and forgiveness.”

There is that, forgiveness.  We all need some of that and not just from God and not just for sins of the flesh.

So here is the bottom line for Ms Dowd:

In the minds of many here, the French president is a loser because he’s so unrefined he might as well be American.

Hat tip to the ¡No Pasarán!.

Regards  —  Cliff

Strip Switching

For John, BLUFThe Sun on the move.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I was reading the comics from The [Lowell] Sun just now and noticed that A Lawyer, A Doctor & A Cop had replaced Mark Trail, but with the Mark Trail title and the Jack Elrod byline.  Here is the particular strip.

Is this some sort of back-handed tribute to Marty?  Is this the introduction of a new cartoon into the lineup?  (I hope so, since the last change was the addition of Wumo, at the same time Wumo came to The Boston Globe—no diversity there.)  Is this just life with all its many foul-ups?

The cartoon background from King Features, and from Wikipedia.

UPDATE:  As I suspected, upon later reflection, my mind said Mark Trail but my fingers said Mark Twain.  No, I don't think Mark Trail is as old as Mark Twain, but it could be close.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Now known as Pros and Cons.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Anthony Wedgwood Benn (RIP)

For John, BLUFOne can think someone is wrong, yet still respect them as a person.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Tony Benn, a member of the British Parliament, was an all out socialist.  In the article linked to here, from The Daily Mail, the reporter suggests that Tony Benn would have turned Great Britain into another North Korea, if he had had his way.  I would suggest that such a characterization may be a bit over the top.  On the other hand, Mr Benn was a true believer.
Benn was brought up in an atmosphere of deep idealism and moral seriousness, and his mother Margaret, a feminist theologian, impressed on him the Methodist maxim:  ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’
Thoroughly wrong, but thoroughly a man of principal.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, March 14, 2014

Our Rights

For John, BLUFRigid bureaucrats seems redundant.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I started at the Instapundit blog, here, which talked about someone who thought he was an American being deported as a criminal alien.  Apparently, per Professor Glenn Reynolds, President Obama is well ahead of President George W Bush in terms of deporting aliens.  At this particular blog post Professor Reynolds touched on the case of an Amercan Army Veteran who missed the clues and got the boot through a Kafkaesque process that should worry every American.

From the Instapundit blog post I linked over to this item at BuzzFeed, from which I quote below.

After seven weeks, a van brought Suess to the Department of Homeland Security office in downtown St. Louis. He seated himself in a cube of a room, law books spread before him on a table. Mounted high on the opposite wall was a video monitor, and on it floated the gray-haired Honorable John A. Duck, beamed in from the immigration court in Oakdale, La.

“What am I doing here?” Suess asked.

“I do not have to answer your questions,” Duck replied. “That’s why you need an attorney.”

“I can’t afford an attorney,” Suess said. “I should be able to get one from the court.”

“You are a criminal alien. You are not an American citizen, and you don’t have the rights of a citizen. The United States doesn’t have to provide you with an attorney.”

“I am an American citizen,” Suess said.

Mr Suess wasn't an American citizen, but what if he was?  What we have is the Administrative Judge, Mr Duck, asserting Mr Suess isn't a US Citizen, against Mr Suess' own understanding, wrong as that understanding might be.  Where is a legal process your average American would recognize as due process?  The Administrative Judge, Mr Duck, seems like a pretty cold fish—a man's life is twisted off its footing in less than two minutes and no questions are answered.

It reminds me of this quote from Lord Acton:

The most certain test by which we can judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.
Mr William Suess was a minority in our nation.

I am not suggesting Mr Suess should be brought back to the US, or granted US Citizenship, but I am flat out declaring this is shabby treatment of someone who was living inside our borders.  This is the kind of Federal over-reach that we are seeing in many areas, against US Citizens as well as resident aliens (and illegal aliens, who should also be given due process).  If you are on US territory you should get all the benefits of our Constitution and our protected rights. Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Happy Pi Day

For John, BLUFThink next year, when it will be 3 14 15.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

By Act of Congress.

Hat tip to Jennifer.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Quality of Candidates

For John, BLUFSome earn victory.  Some have victory force on them.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Back to Tuesday's election in Florida, and back to the Althouse post "Last Night War Scary, Ann."  Here is a comment at the blog post:
Bill, Republic of Texas said…
Last night was scary

They should be scared.  Obama won that district in 2008 and 2012.  Sink won the district when she ran for governor in 2010.  Sink was very well known, liked and extremely well financed.

The Repub candidate was a disaster.  He was a political aid and then lobbyist.  He is recently divorced and was campaigning with his 25 year old girlfriend.  He was flat broke after the primary.

"They" would be the Democrats.

Regards  —  Cliff

Follow The Money

For John, BLUFThe whining will only increase as the year goes forward.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday The Washington Post had an article on money spent in the Florida 13th Race.  Blogger Althouse referred to it when she described the EMail she got after the election on Tuesday.  The Subject Line was "Last night was scary, Ann."  Professor Althouse did wonder if the Subject Line was just sent to the females on the mailing list.  Basically, the EMail whined about how their poor candidate had been badly outspent by outside money.

I blogged about the election here.  But, back to the question of money, from the article in The Wash Post:

Jolly ran as a natural successor to Young. But he struggled to raise money in the campaign, lagging behind Sink, who unlike him, did not have to endure a contested primary that drained resources. Sink, Jolly and their affiliated groups spent more than $12 million in the campaign, making it one of the most expensive House races ever.

As a result of Sink's money advantage over Jolly, she enjoyed a head start out of the gates at the beginning of the general election sprint in mid-January. Voters started casting absentee ballots -- a popular way of voting in the district -- later that month, giving Democrats an opportunity to capitalize on Jolly's inability to spend big money on a positive, introductory message over the airwaves. But Sink did not build a big enough lead in absentee voting to prevail on election day.

Bonus Comment:  "Who Scares Democrats More Than the Koch Brothers?  Nate Silver."  Yes, that Nate Silver.  Mr FiveThirtyEight.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Most Important Fight in DC

For John, BLUFWhen a US Senator goes after the CIA it is time to pay attention.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Perhaps the most important fight ongoing in DC is the one between the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the Central Intelligence Agency.  The SSCI Chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has laid out the issues as she sees them and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency has been dismissive. Here is a summary from The Lawfare Blog:
As we’ve been explaining, there’s drama in the U.S. Senate. It’s not just your usual partisan bickering, either. Yesterday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) took to the Senate floor to accuse the CIA of searching through computers used by staffers on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Washington Post has more; and NPR has a great breakdown of the circumstances that led Feinstein, the Committee’s Chair, to make such a strong show yesterday. According to NPR, the Senator’s impassioned remarks have caused a split in the Senate between those who take her accusations very seriously (like Rep Mike Rogers (R-Mich)) and those who are much more skeptical (like Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl). Keep returning to Lawfare for more analysis on this developing story.
I am not a big booster of Senator Feinstein, who is of the opposite party and who has views on how to move the nation forward that differ from mine.  (And, unlike Senator Barbara Boxer, is from up north and not Southern California.  Senator Boxer lives in Rancho Mirage—my Mother lived there for a while.)  On the other hand, Senator Feinstein strikes me as someone with respect for the US Senate and its rights and responsibilities.  I take her going public very seriously.

Here is a situation review, at The Lawfare Blog, by Chris Donesa, who was Chief Counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2004-2013, the SSCI's opposite number in the House of Representatives.

This is worth paying attention to.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Interesting that the "split" description was all about the Senate Minority.  What about the Senate Majority?


For John, BLUFSmall businesses and individuals are in trouble, long term.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Wall Street Journal is an article on the Department of Health and Human Services stealthily pushing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act "mandate" out beyond elections.  Actually, this has to be pretty subtle to work without being widely publicized, or maybe they are counting on the fact that folks didn't really know there was a mandate in the first place.  The lede:
ObamaCare's implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.
So there is the troubling thing.  Not that politics is being played—it is DC.  It is that it is all buried in the bureaucratic paper that drives the regulatory process.  This is the kind of thing that destroys free enterprise.  Favored patrons profit and the economy moves forward, but the dynamism that is inherent in our economy is squeezed out by layers of rules and regulations.

Put another way, when the original Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was two thousand pages long, even if it was double spaced, you knew that the rest of us were not going to read it, let along understand it.  We may not all agree on the meaning of each of the First Ten Amendments, but a lot of us can at least have an opinion.  Even though it is over 200 years old, the words seem fairly plain (well, except for the Second).  But, the PP&ACA required hundreds of additional pages of implementing regulations and they are still being issued.

We need to face the fact that the Congress, the co-equal Legislative Branch, has surrendered much of legislating to the Executive Branch and its bureaucrats.  It isn't that these bureaucrats are bad people—they included at some point my Father, my Uncle Dick, my two Brothers.  It is that we have changed how the Federal Government works.  I wonder if Professor George Anthes teaches it the old fashioned way, the way where the laws are passed by the our Congress Members, and approved by the President or a Congressional Super Majority and then implemented by Executive Branch, with the Judicial Branch making sure it is all kosher?

Equally interesting to me, when the issued regulations begin to conflict with the original law, as this labyrinth naturally evolves, which will the Courts favor, the original law or the needed implementing regulations?  You can't have the law implemented without the implementing regulations.  It won't be Representative Niki Tsongas explaining to some Deputy Assistant Secretary of HHS that this part of the Law suggests this, which requires that we do "C", "D" and "E".  This bureaucrat could be one of my children or nieces or nephews or a cousin of yours.  They are not trying to evil.  He or she is just trying to make it work.

The article takes a different view.  It ends:

The larger point is that there have been so many unilateral executive waivers and delays that ObamaCare must be unrecognizable to its drafters, to the extent they ever knew what the law contained.
For me, that misses the point that we are drifting toward a European Union like Government, a European like Government, where the scientific experts rule and the People do as they are told.

And just to add to that view, here is an item my wife just forwarded to me as I typed the previous paragraph.  It is about Immigration Reform, but the principal holds.

Think a three legged stool.  Now think one of the legs getting longer.

Regards  —  Cliff

Seemed Straight Forward

For John, BLUFPolls are not promises.  Just ask Governor Tom Dewey.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Just Monday this was the headline in The Tampa Bay Times, "PPP poll: Alex Sink 48%, David Jolly45%, Lucas Overby 6%".
A new Public Policy Polling survey for tomorrow’s special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District finds that Democrat Alex Sink is holding a 48-45 lead over her Republican opponent David Jolly, with Libertarian Lucas Overby at 6%.
That looks pretty commanding.

Other findings from the 7 to 9 March Poll include:

-Sink has amassed a large lead during the early voting period, getting 52% among those who have already voted to just 45% for Jolly. We find that 60% of those who say they will vote have done so already, putting Jolly in a position where he will have to make up a lot of ground on election day.

-Sink is overcoming the district’s Republican registration advantage by overwhelmingly winning independent voters. She is getting 61% with them to only 27% for Jolly.

-69% of voters in the district say that it’s important for their new member in Congress to address the problem of climate change, including 44% who say it’s ‘very important.’ The joint ad campaign the LCV Victory Fund and the Sierra Club have run highlighting Jolly’s lack of interest in addressing the issue has really worked to Sink’s advantage- voters trust her more than Jolly to address climate change by a 17 point margin, 48/31.

And among voters who say they consider addressing climate change to be ‘very important,’ she leads by 62 points at 77/15.

And just look at Republican candidate David Jolly's positions on the issues, per Wikipedia:
Jolly is against Obamacare and says he has goals of lowering taxes and cutting spending.  He believes Israel is one of the premier allies of the United States and has a goal of not cutting the United States commitment to the military and to its allies.  He is pro-life, says that he "support[s] the constitutional right to keep and bear arms," and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.  He supports the Balanced Budget Amendment, and would have voted to raise the debt limit in early 2014.  He opposes same-sex marriage, but believes that legalizing same-sex marriage should be left for the states to decide.
From that it would appear the only folks voting for Mr Jolly are older caucasian males.  Even Jolly wouldn't vote for Jolly, and the polling data shows it.  From the above poll it is not looking good for the Republicans in November.  Given these numbers, do we think Alex Sink will be back to play against Representative Elect David Jolly?

Regards  —  Cliff

In Honor of Crimea

For John, BLUFOf course history repeats itself, because people tend to be a constant.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Per The Boston Globe, today is the anniversary of the Anschluss, in 1938, when Germany annexed Austria.

Next came Czechoslovakia.

Then Poland.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Palistine Not Recognize Israel?

For John, BLUFEven without Lord Balfour, would we still have the same problem, somewhere?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Deep down, inside, I always thought the Palistinian Authority "recognizing" Israel, and it's right to exist, was part of the peace process.  If Israel has no right to exist, what does it have?  Maybe a peace guarantee, such as the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.

The United States believes there is no need for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a peace agreement, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Saturday.

Psaki, who spoke to the PA-based Arabic-language Al-Quds newspaper, said, “The American position is clear, Israel is a Jewish state.  However, we do not see a need that both sides recognize this position as part of the final agreement.”

What about the Oslo Accords? There is this item from last July's Algemeiner:
Speakers at the international Palestinian solidarity conference called “Palestine:  Manifestation of Muslim Ummah’s Unity,” held in Karachi, Pakistan, this week said that Israel is an illegitimate state that must cease to exist.

Mohammad Zazeh, who is described as one of the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the international Palestinian group headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the PLO has never recognized Israel as a legitimate state, and that the 1993 Oslo Accords should not be misunderstood to have constituted Palestinian recognition of Israel.

“Israel is an illegitimate state. Palestine belongs to Palestinians. An independent state of Palestine is what the Palestinians will get recognized,” Zazeh said, according to Pakistan’s largest financial daily, the Business Recorder.

Zazeh added, “Palestine and al Quds belong to all Arabs and Muslims. This is sacred land.”

The U.S.-mediated preliminary peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are set to begin soon in Washington, DC.

Zazeh added, “Palestine and al Quds belong to all Arabs and Muslims. This is sacred land.”

The U.S.-mediated preliminary peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are set to begin soon in Washington, DC. So, I asked the Department of State Press Offce and they helpfully linked me to this Monday Press Conference by Ms Jen Psaki.&nbs; In part it reads:

QUESTION: There seems to be some confusion over some comments that you made on Friday about the whole recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’m wondering if you can address those. Has the Administration changed its position on this?

MS. PSAKI: We have not. Our position has been for quite some time that Israel is a Jewish state.

QUESTION: Okay. And is it also your position that the Israeli demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is something to be determined in the negotiations?


QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: It’s not a precondition?

QUESTION: And that is not a precondition?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to negotiate, I’m not going to negotiate what should or should not be in a framework. Obviously, that’s going to happen between the parties. Our position has remained the same.

QUESTION: Okay. But your position that Israel is a Jewish state does not in any way preclude, let’s say, a different outcome by the two parties, correct?

MS. PSAKI: That is our position. I’m not going to comment further.

So either the Palestinians are going to have to invent a term they can live with or there will be no peace.  What can the Israelis offer in exchange?  Secretary of State Kerry and his team have their work cut out for them in helping to broker an agreement.  But, at the end of the day, the Palestinians and Israelis are going to have to want this.  Mr Kerry's desire, by itself, will not be enough.

These are going to be interesting negotiations.

Regards  —  Cliff

Downfall Meets ObamaCare

For John, BLUFFrankly, I think he shot from the hip, and being an American, he thought that is what it would/should say.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

If you are easily offended or have no sense of humor about Obama Care, or are just tired of Downfall parodies, skip this.

Hitler finds out he can't keep his Doctor under ObamaCare.

Best line:

There's no way we can pin this one on Bush,
So let's blame Ted Cruz.
Hat tip to my youngest Brother.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, March 9, 2014

It Isn't All CPAC

For John, BLUFI like John Kasich.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Fox News had this headline over the weekend:  "John Kasich in 2016? Why progressive, George Soros crowd fears run by Ohio governor".

Hat tip to my Buddy Juan.

Regards  —  Cliff

It Seems So Simple

For John, BLUFYes, you can film Police doing their duty.  even in Fall River.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Fall River Man Arrested For Videotaping Police Officer".  The man, apparently on his front porch, was videoing a police officer on a paid detail.  So reports CBS Local Channel 8.  Also reported is that the video phone was confiscated and the video deleted.

Assuming the news report is pretty close to correct, I suggest the following two points:

First, the Mayor, Mr Willam A Flanagan, needs to invite the Chief of Police, Mr Daniel Racine, up to his office and privately explain to him how the cow ate the cabbage.  By now it should be a common place that a citizen can videotape the police.  Then the two city officials need to agree on the kind of deal to cut with the man videotaping from his front porch (that is to say, a US Citizen).

Second, the man on his front porch should be offered a formal public apology by both the Chief of Police and the Police Officer and $500 for the loss of his phone and videos (to be paid for by the City, not the Police Officer).

Regards  —  Cliff

  But, the same should apply if he is an illegal resident.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


For John, BLUFWord salad, to have nothing concrete to say.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This AM a fried of mine suggested "… China HASN'T said anything about Ukraine."  This friend then went on to say:
Even Chinese commentators have observed that this is a "word salad," and hardly a definitive expression of policy.
Regards  —  Cliff

Jindal Update From Sun

For John, BLUFTime for real diversity, a Republican of "color".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In the Sunday edition of The [Lowell] Sun was an opinion piece by Ms Kathleen Parker, on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.  I think it is a puff piece, but, frankly, I like Mr Jindal.  One of my friends here in Lowell thinks Gov Jindal sold out by becoming a Roman Catholic, but from my point of view (1) I am an R/C and think it is usually a good decision and (2) if he was just pandering, even in Louisiana he would have become a Protestant Evangelical.

Best line of the article:

Hide the children.  He defied protocol!
I will grant you that Governor Jindal doesn't "look" presidential, at least not like Vice President Biden looks presidential.  But he seems to be a tough cookie, and smart.  I do admit that Rhodes Scholar thing works against him.

Regards  —  Cliff

  To some of us these distinctions actually signal differences of opinion and style.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

China, Japan, Korea

For John, BLUFOur history empowers us, but it also sometimes holds us back.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The relationships amongst the nations in the Far East are complicated.  One might think that Japan and Korea would be united against China, considering how China tries to bully the two, but it is more complicated than that, and we haven't even mentioned Viet-nam or other nations, such as Russia and India.

Over at Small Wars Journal we have an article by Colonel David Hunter-Chester, an assistant professor of strategy and operations at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, out in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  A retired U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer, he has a Ph.D. in East Asian History from the University of Kansas, and he has lived in or studied East Asia for more than 30 years.  The article title tells a story in itself, It’s Not History, East Asia, It’s the Stories We Tell

Below are the first four paragraphs, and without the footnotes:

People do not live in history, they live in the narrative.  I wish I could find the name of the scholar who made this observation and the original source, but even in the age of Google both elude me.  Regardless of its origin, nowhere is this truth more evident than between three countries in East Asia.  Two of those countries, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK), by dint of shared values, national interests and sheer geostrategic necessity, are natural allies.  The third country, China, actively seeks to change the international status quo in the region, a status quo which has ushered in more than 60 years of peace and prosperity for millions. As two countries who have benefited so much from this long peace, China’s incremental, “probing and nibbling strategy” to change that status quo should be pushing Japan and Korea closer together. Instead each calls on the other to acknowledge the facts of history.  For China, as well, this prolonged peace has resulted in moving more people from absolute poverty to better living standards than anywhere else in history.  Yet China, pushing this change for domestic and strategic reasons, instead of working to maintain a system that has benefited so many for so long, uses a call for acknowledging correct history to rationalize its actions, and deflect attention from its actions.  While all three countries call for a correct view of history, the problem is not history, but narrative.

Japan’s narrative is centered on Japan as the real victim in World War II.  According to this narrative Japan, the only country ever to be attacked by atomic weapons, had only been trying to free Asia from Western domination, and it has been repaid with fire, death and calumny. According to this storyline, the Tokyo War Crimes trials were the worst kind of victor’s justice.  Japan loves peace more than other countries; this tale goes, as evidenced by the war-renouncing Article Nine in its constitution.

Korea’s narrative of victimization goes back even further.  A shrimp between whales, the Korean peninsula has often been invaded and occupied by its larger neighbors.  Independence Hall, outside of Seoul, emphasizes this narrative with paintings, plaques and full-size wax-figure reproductions.  While numerous invasions from China are memorialized, the most prominent depredations are the depictions of torture and oppression meted out by the Japanese during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, from 1905 to 1945.

In China the story is about the Middle Kingdom’s century of humiliation, beginning with the first Opium War in the mid-nineteenth century and ending with the communist victory in the Chinese civil war, 1949.  Slicing up the Chinese melon with the Unequal Treaty System and doling out the humiliation was the West, and its proxy, Japan.  Here, again, Japan’s brutality, beginning in 1931 in Manchuria and extending to the rest of China in 1936, is singled out as particularly brutal and venal.

If we could only move past history.

Regards  —  Cliff