Saturday, May 31, 2014

What Is New in Privacy

For John, BLUFWill privacy rulings in courts destroy the Internet?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is an article from The Independent, "Google privacy law ‘means total rethink of basic freedoms’".

This is about a recent decision by the European Court of Justice in Google v Gonzales, about the "right to be forgotten".

The questions are (1) where will this go in Europe and (2) what impact will this have here in the United States?

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 30, 2014

Vet Shot in Kansas City—PTSD Involved

For John, BLUFNo excess force, please.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I hope there is more to this story than is in the article.

From The Washington Examiner we have an article by reporter Sean Higgins, headlined "Soldier with PTSD killed in SWAT team standoff told to wait 30 days for Veterans Affairs care".  From the lede:

Iraq War veteran Issac Sims was killed Sunday by Kansas City, Mo., police after a standoff at his family home.  Sims suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and been told he could not get care from the local Veterans Administration center for another 30 days.

Sims, 26, had gotten into an argument with his father Sunday and reportedly fired off a gun multiple times inside and outside the home. Police responded to reports of the shooting and subsequently called in the SWAT team.  When Sims emerged from the house 5 hours later with a rifle, he was shot dead.  Officers stated he pointed the gun at them.

In a wired world, why did the police not know that Mr Sims was suffering from PTSD?  With a SWAT Team present, why was there a need to respond to Mr Sims, rather than wait him out?  Yes, he pointed his gun at someone, maybe.  But, was that a threat to the SWAT Team?  If the response is to shoot to kill, why invest in the riot control agents and stun grenades, in heavy body armor, ballistic shields and armored vehicles?

This needs a thorough investigation and a public report, but I doubt we will see either.  Lack of transparency will hurt us over the long run.  It may well have been a righteous shoot, but that needs to be demonstrated by a transparent analysis and a public report.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Knowing the Territory

For John, BLUFKnow your environment.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This may be a tale out of school, but someone I know mentioned this comment by Ms Anne-Marie Slaughter, at a private luncheon for Hill Staff.  It was about the difference between academia & policy.  She said:
In academia you are rewarded for coming up with a really Big Idea--"change the paradigm"--and put your name on it and no one else's.  In government, you are rewarded for taking a Big Idea, dividing it into many small, doable pieces, and convincing everyone else that they thought of it.
She said it well.

Regards  —  Cliff

  She is a former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, a former Dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the current head of the New America Foundation.  She is the author, two years ago, of an Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All".

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Crony Economy

For John, BLUFToo much regulation is bad for the economy.  Cronyism is worse.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In yesterday's Boston Globe was an OpEd by Mr Tom Keane, Democrat Operative.  It was the usual screed, but at one point I registered Hernando DeSoto in my mind.  That was when he talked about Boston's new Mayor, Marty Walsh.
Marty, May I? For years known as “Tommy, May I?,” this retitled game features a host of players seeking permission to develop buildings, run businesses, or otherwise get something done in the city.  “Marty, May I . . . open a bar?” asks one supplicant.  “Marty, May I . . . get a zoning variance?” begs another.  Sometimes Marty says yes, sometimes Marty says no — and you’ll never know why!  If turned down, you can always try again.  But next time, you might want to hire some new lawyers, become buddies with local unions, or, best of all, get to know Marty’s neighbors in Dorchester.  He always listens to them!
Why did I say Hernando De Soto?  Economist De Soto has written about the cost of an economy where permissions to move into a new field, to open a new business, a new shop, a new push cart, is controlled by a centralizing government that favors its friends and ignores the rest.  He presents one version of this in his book, The Other Path.  Here is the short description from Amazon:
In this, his classic book on the informal economy of Peru and the reasons why poverty can be a breeding ground for terrorists, Hernando De Soto describes the forces that keep people dependent on underground economies:  the bureaucratic barriers to legal property ownership and the lack of legal structures that recognize and encourage ownership of assets.  It is exactly these forces, de Soto argues, that prevent houses, land, and machines from functioning as capital does in the West--as assets that can be leveraged to create more capital.  Under the Fujimori government, de Soto's Institute for Liberty and Democracy wrote dozens of laws to promote property rights and bring people out of the informal economy and into the legitimate one.  The result was not only an economic boon for Peru but also the defeat of the Shining Path, the terrorist movement and black-market force that was then threatening to take over the Peruvian government.  In a new preface, de Soto relates his work to the present moment, making the connection between the Shining Path in the 1980's and the Taliban today.
I recently saw one statistic that had the US informal economy at 15% of the nation's GDP.  This is anything from the illegal immigrant someone hires to help build a patio in the back of their house to the 28% of cigarette sales in Massachusetts that are smuggled in from out of state and sold without Massachusetts taxes.

OK, I am against smuggling of cigs, but it raises the question of where the taxes are set.  There is a point with most products where the level of taxes will make smuggling (or tea parties) a reasonable move on the part of some people.  With no taxes there is no smuggling.  At some point rising taxes attract smuggling.  At that point the Government can start trying to arrest people, putting them in jail, which serves to increase the the need for taxes.  Or the Government can bring down the sin tax to be in line with what the consumers will find acceptable.

It is the other areas I am concerned about.  I am not so much concerned about about the lack of regulators inspecting these folks as I am about the fact that many of these folks feel that they can't join the formal economy and operate above board because of existing government regulations and licensing requirements.  That is to say, we are strangling the ability of entrepreneurs to meet the needs of customers, and missing out on the collection of taxes.  Worse, this kind of thing can easily lead to corruption, which is hard to clean up.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Marriage Today in The US

For John, BLUFDecisions have consequences.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Looking back in time, here is a post from last week by Renee Aste (Cappadocia in Lowell) on marriage and the value of having two parents in the home.

This is not to say that the Massachusetts Supreme Judical Court was wrong in Goodridge v Department of Public Health (although I think it is weak in the sociology and weak in the author not being willing to follow it to its logical conclusion).  What it is saying, in my humble opinion, is that we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater—and maybe that baby is literally.  We still have the fact that the number one indicator of success in these United States is if your natural parents are still married.

The question is, where do we go from here and how do we get there?

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Supreme Court Modifies Decision Reports After Publication

For John, BLUFEven the deceased get to have a bit of a do over, n'est pas?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Gee, I wish I could do this at home.  Modify what I previously said so that I hadn't actually said it.  That would solve so many problems.

This is the blog post from Law Professor Ann Althouse on the article by Adam Liptak in The New York Times, "Final Word on U.S. Law Isn’t:  Supreme Court Keeps Editing".

It is based upon a draft "Harvard Law Review" article to be published in December, but available in draft form on line today.  Sort of like what happens with US Supreme Court decisions.

Actually, it isn't for ever.  That said, the Supreme Court finally issued the final decisions for 2008 in 2013.  Five years to edit the documents into their final form.  Not a standard of efficiency or effectiveness.  Here are the generations of opinions, per the article:

There are four generations of opinions, and only the last is said to be final. So-called bench opinions, in booklet form, are available at the court when decisions are announced.  Slip opinions are posted on the court’s website soon after.  They are followed by preliminary softcover prints and then by the only official versions, which are published in hardcover volumes called United States Reports.  The official versions of opinions from 2008 were published in 2013.
The article does indicate this is a bi-partisan method of doing business and has a long history:
The court seems to have been even more freewheeling in the past.  Chief Justice Roger B. Taney added approximately 18 pages to his 1857 majority opinion in the Dred Scott decision after it was announced.
I was outraged when I first read this, and then I remember that Senators and Representatives seek permission from their bodies to "revise and extend" their remarks.  Maybe the only place this privilege is missing is in the kitchen, when I am talking to my wife.

Regards  —  Cliff

Culture Follow-up

For John, BLUFThis is the United Staes.  We do have a distinctive culture.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

So in Brooklyn there is an ongoing case about a man who is accused of beating his wife to death (charge of murder).  The defense lawyer is claiming it is manslaughter, since in his native culture (Pakistan) beating one's wife is acceptable.

Defense attorney Julie Clark admitted Hussain beat his wife — but argued that he is guilty of only manslaughter because he didn’t intend to kill her.  In Pakistan, Clark said, beating one’s wife is customary.

“He comes from a culture where he thinks this is appropriate conduct, where he can hit his wife,” Clark said in her opening statements at the Brooklyn Supreme Court bench trial.  “He culturally believed he had the right to hit his wife and discipline his wife.”

What about the defendant's son?  Does he get to beat his wife and then claim he inherited that approach from his Father?

At what point is multi-Culturalism an unbearable problem in the Ubited States?  At what point, if any, do we step back from overseas relations due to cultural differences?  Today apparently not in Saudi Arabia or Sudan.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Yes, I do think we should maintain relations with nations like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Who Gets To Call The Shots?

For John, BLUFAre civil rights universal or determined by culture?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The New York Times we have this item, "The Brotherhood Will Be Back", by Shadi Hamidmay.

This article looks at the question of if the Muslim Brotherhood, or other Muslim oriented political groups are done or if they are a part of the political landscape and will remain so well into the future.  The author uses the term "Liberal" in its more classic sense.  From the article:

This poses a thorny question for Western observers:  Do Arabs have the right to decide — through the democratic process — that they would rather not be liberal?
That is a fundamental question.  If a nation has a culture where women are married off by 18 and female circumcision is practiced, what is our right to object?  How about if we have invaded the nation for other reasons?  Are we then free to try and change their culture?

Conversely, should we accept the cultural vision of immigrants with Muslim Brotherhood connections AND Muslim Brotherhood sentiments in the US.  Should we carve out a special Sharia exception in some part of our nation?

As a side note, the author, who appears knowledgeable about politics in Islamic denominated nations shows his fundamental ignorance of the American "Tea Party", but then, that only puts him in the same bin as a lot of Progressives and Media types.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 26, 2014

Election Results, Elsewhere

For John, BLUFWhen political parties don't meet the needs of the people, "the worm turns".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Night Watch for 25 May 2014 we have a report on the Presidential Election in Ukraine:
Ukraine: Chocolate candy billionaire Petro Poroshenko will be the new president of Ukraine, according to exit polls from Sunday's elections.  He won almost 56 percent of the vote against almost 13 percent for former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Press reports indicate a 60 per cent voter turnout generally, but almost no voting in the two eastern regions in secession.  Final results are due by Monday, but preliminary returns indicate no need for a run-off election.

Comment: Press reports about Poroshenko suggest he might be a fit Ukrainian president because he appears to be comfortable in capitalist circles and in statist systems.  His comments while casting his ballot indicate he will pursue aggressively integration with Europe and he also will support aggressive combat operations against the eastern separatists.  He said he wants peace; suppressing the secession is how he intends to obtain it.

Almost a landslide victory.

Now we get to see how President Vladimir Putin of Russia plays this.  Going back to Night Watch:

Russia:  Comment:  President Putin said last week that he would respect the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election.  He did not clarify what he meant in referring to Ukraine.  Presumably Russia will not recognize Poroshenko's presidency as extending to Luhansk and Donetsk.
In the mean time, the Instapundit has linked to Guido Fawkes' blog, (Order Order, "of plots, rumors and conspiracy") for a report on the UK elections for the European Parliament.  To understand the results I am going to cartoon the outcome.  Think of the Conservatives (Tories) as the Republicans and Labor as the Democrats.  That leaves the question of what represents the UK Independence Party.  Maybe for Democrats the US Tea Party and for Republicans the Libertarians.&snbsp; For sure, the UKIP wants the UK to be independent of the European Union (EU).  The Green Party is a European kind of thing that represents Environmentalists.  The LibDems, or Liberal Democrats are a former powerful party that has been on the margin since the 1920s.  At any rate, here are the results:

Lib Dems6.871

So what does it mean when a party opposed to the United Kingdom membership in the European Union is the big winner in an Election for seats in the EU's European Parliament?  Probably not much for the EU, since that is 23 seats out of 766 seats.  And, not much in the UK itself, since the UKIP is not a threat to the Tories or Labor in the House of Commons.  But, it is a sign that the voters are prepared to shift their voting if they decide the two major parties are not moving in the right direction.  Remember that the Lib Democrats, with only one seat in the new EU Parliament, ran the United Kingdom 100 years ago.

UPDATE:  I went to the blog ¡No Pasaran!, looking for comments on the French elections to the European Parliament, but found this item on the UKIP Leader, Mr Nigel Farage.

By the way, the same kind of voting that happened in the UK happened in France, with the National Front Party, lead by Marine La Pen, winning big.  I have only estimates:

PartyPercentSeats (est)
National Front2619
Socialist Party13.910

This is, of course, causing a big uproar in France.

Without waiting for the final result, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls went on television to call the breakthrough by the anti-immigration, anti-euro party in one of the EU's founding nations "an earthquake" for France and Europe.
An interesting turn of events.  Frankly, it bears watching and may, along with the Ukraine imbroglio, call into question the so called "Pivot to Asia".

Regards  —  Cliff

Memorial Day Thoughts

For John, BLUFEquality in death.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

While this memorial sermon, delivered at the Marine Cemetery on Iwo Jima, in March 1945, was not given on Memorial Day, it has all the sentiments that any Memorial Day presentation should have.  The presenter was Chaplain (Rabbi) Roland B. Gittelsohn, LT, USNR, the Marine Corps' first Jewish Chaplain.  A friend of mine sent along a link to the Sermon.  He also highlighted these three paragraphs (remember, 1944 America was a more separated and segregated nation than it is today—we have come a long way).
Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding.  And other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores.  Here lie officers and men, Negroes and Whites, rich men and poor, together. Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together.  Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color.  Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination.  No prejudices.  No hatred.  Theirs is the highest and purest democracy…

Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery.  To this then, as our solemn sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves:  To the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of White men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price…

We here solemnly swear this shall not be in vain. Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere.

Read the whole thing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Understanding Memorial Day

For John, BLUFHonoring those who gave the last full measure.

I believe this OpEd in The Washington Post says what needs to be said about Memorial Day.

The author is Army Lieutenant Colonel Mike Jason.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On

For John, BLUFTry not to respond in anger.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This weekend, at Mass, the Second Reading had some good advice.  It is the Sixth Sunday of Easter and the Second Reading is from the First Letter of Saint Peter.  In part it reads:
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Act for the long run.

Regards  —  Cliff

Trigger Warning!

For John, BLUFYou know, there are just some topics that can't be mentioned around some people.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

TRIGGER WARNING—Reading this blog post may cause the empathetic to blow a fuse.

Growing out of small movements on a number of college campuses we have the new "Trigger Warning" movement.  Students wish to be warned if some assignment will include viewing material that might trigger strong emotions.  An example cited in a recent article in The Atlantic is a victim of rape reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  The person, previously raped, felt traumatized by the incidents in the novel.

Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse takes this issue on at this post.  Ms Althouse quotes the last paragraph of the above mentioned Atlantic article.

Flannery O’Connor—a writer whose works are rife with warning label-worthy violence—famously said that sentimentality always leads to the gas chamber.  Without any external anchor in law, mores, or trusted guides—or any openness to being challenged in one’s thinking—empathy turned inward will lead each of us to our individual prisons of the self.
It is fair to say, I believe, that showing too much deference to the fears and phobias of others will provide a very limited and stunted society.  While some consideration must be given for the sensitive, by and large we need to face reality as it is, and as it is portrayed in art.  I am not made stronger by being shielded from a naked Madonna (no, not THAT Madonna) or the Piss Christ.  Nor am I necessarily edified by such works.  But, no one person, or no group of people should be allowed to be the standard by which we judge the visions (and art work) of others.  That is a point lost on those who would censor speech in all its forms.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I have to admit to never having read Tess of the D’Urbervilles, so I haven't been traumatized by it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Of Course She Did

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

Nancy Pelosi blames George W. Bush for Veterans Affairs scandal

Headline in The Washington Examiner.  The lede:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., repeatedly put the blame for the Veterans Affairs scandal on former President George W. Bush, while arguing that her party has worked hard for veterans in recent years.

Pelosi took a shot at Bush while saying that the scandal is a high priority for Obama.  "He sees the ramifications of some seeds that were sown a long time ago, when you have two wars over a long period of time and many, many more, millions more veterans," she told reporters during her Thursday press briefing.  "And so, I know that he is upset about it."

Wasn't Ms Pelosi Speaker of the House for a few years?  What was she doing during that time, aside from looking after canning factories?

An expression I heard while in the Air Force was "Where were you when the paper was blank?"  The obvious meaning being "Why are you criticizing now, when you had a chance to make it right when we started on this project."  Exactly.  If this was a problem a long time in coming, Ms Pelosi was in charge during part of that time.  I know four years isn't a long period, but still, if this was important, why didn't she raise the roof over it.

Regards  —  Cliff

  This is an adaptation of a previous question, asked some 2500 years ago, of a chap named Job.  "Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth?  Tell me if thou hast understanding."  (Job 38:4)
  Speaker from January 4, 2007 to January 3, 2011

Woman to Die For Faith?

For John, BLUFSharia can be a stern law, and seem unreasonable to us in the West.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

One of my friends here in Lowell sent me an EMail with this item, concerning Ms Meriam Ibrahim:
Meriam Ibrahim faces death. Martin, her American toddler, is imprisoned and sick.

He could lose his mother and be turned over to the very radical Islamists who hung her.

A judge in Sudan ordered Meriam to renounce her Christian faith or die.  She's refused, saying, "I will remain a Christian."

She's pregnant, and once her American baby is born, she'll be flogged and then executed.

Prayer and public pressure are Meriam and her American children's only hope.

Well, I do commend prayer for this situation, but another friend of mine, from down in Texas, with experience in that part of the world says that this is the time for quiet diplomacy.  That means we have to leave Sudan leader Omar al-Bashir with a way out.  He needs a way to accept, for example, the High Court overturning this ruling.

The fact is that this is the law of Sudan (and some other places).  And, this is not the first time this problem has popped up (and to date Sudan has not carried out such punishment).  The fact is people choose this path knowing what the law is.  Faith is a strong motivator.  My understanding is that the general population does not approve of this and perhaps we can expect there will be some internal pressure.  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

By the way, her husband is an American Citizen and a resident of New Hampshire.

Our job, at this point is to pray, and to include a prayer that Secretary of State John Kerry, and his Department, is able to encourage quiet diplomacy to allow President Bashir to find a way to release this woman and her children and send them to the United States, even if it is New Hampshire.

But, I am aware that not all who read this blog pray.  What do they do?  I do not wish to belittle this point, as each of us must respond to Ms Ibrahim's fate as our conscience and understanding dictate.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Coup in Libya

For John, BLUFGenerally military coups are bad, but not always.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Not every coup is a disaster for democracy.  In Libya (retired) General Khalifa Hiftar seems to be moving the nation in the proper direction, fighting islamic terror groups and resisting anarchy.  In this case we have an article from Strategy Page, "Libya:  A New Revolution Against The Islamic Terrorists".  The lede:
May 23, 2014: Over the last week a new civil war has broken out.  The leader of the rebels is Khalifa Hiftar a retired army general who seeks to destroy the Islamic militias and Islamic terrorist groups that have prevented the establishment of law and order and blocked rebuilding and economic progress.  Over the past year Hiftar organized like-minded militias and former soldiers and moved into Benghazi on the 16 th.  He immediately gained the loyalty of regular army units deployed there and soon controlled Benghazi.  The Islamic terrorist groups fled the better trained and determined Hiftar Forces and most non-Islamic militias (especially nationalists but also tribal groups) pledged to follow Hiftar.  The attraction here was that Hiftar opposed Islamic radical efforts to establish a religious dictatorship in Libya and an end to the anarchy created by the fact that the many Islamic terrorist groups could not agree on which of them should be in charge.
I say wait and see.  Good things could come out of this, or just more killing.  Revolutions are often messy and often have a "terror" phase.  Just think of the French and Russian Revolutions.  Let us hope that this is a post-terror phase, a "Thermidor", as in the French Revolution.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Please note that the Wikipedia entry for General Hiftar includes his tribe.  In places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (and Nigeria) tribe is very important.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bye Bye Staples

For John, BLUFNothing is forever.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The other day there was an item in The [Lowell] Sun saying Staples, the Office Supply Store, after a bad quarter, is closing 80 stores.  It turns out one of those stores is our local Staples at Stadium Plaza.

I like our local Staples here on the border of Lowell.  The staff are friendly and helpful.  The inventory is broad and usually well stocked.  The one exception was large bags of M&Ms, where the restock quantity was less than the pilferage rate and they were always out of sock.  I mentioned this to the Duty Manager one day and the problem was corrected.

I will note a sociological phenomenon at Staples.  If you want to know where something is, you are better off asking a female clerk.  I have no explanation for this, but have wondered if it is because Staples empowers women.  At least it seems that way to me.

The last day for the Stadium Plaza store is 5 July of this year.  After that it is the store in Chelmsford or going to Nashua or Burlington or Rockingham.  Maybe there is another store, but I don't know about it.  As for the staff at Stadium Plaza, I know at least one person is being transferred to the Chelmsford store.  However, some will be laid off, I am sadly sure.  Farewell, my friends.

Regards  —  Cliff

Classified EMail to YouTube?

For John, BLUFMore transparency would be good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From ABC News we have this report on the Benghazi imbroglio.  The headline is "White House Contacted YouTube During Benghazi Attack, Darrell Issa Says".

The interesting part is that, allegedly, our Department of State has, apparently, classified an EMail it sent to YouTube during the attack.  Of all the silliness regarding classification of information (a very serious business) the idea that an EMail sent to a non-governmental agency is then classified to withhold it from the public (or Congress) is one of the silliest.

Trying to have it both ways.

UPDATE:  Listening to el Rushbo today while going from place to place, I learned that I missed an important point.  The White House called YouTube and then sent a [now?] classified EMail to State.  "It is a secret, but we called You Tube and asked them to take down that vile video."  I wonder if they mentioned the First Amendment?

Here is the thing.  Either you are a red blooded American who believes in Free Speech, no matter that it is offensive to this or that party, or you are some European wanna be, but without a belief in real free speech.  Just ask Mark Stein why he now lives in the US.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From The [Manchester] Guardian we have today's headline, "Pentagon report: scope of intelligence compromised by Snowden 'staggering'".  I suspect that we are talking about lives at risk that makes the Valerie Plame problem look small.  Mr Snowden did serious damage to our national security.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life on Mars?

For John, BLUFThere is a reason for Murphy's Law, and its corollaries.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Life on Mars?  Perhaps we sent it there.

I guess it was too much to hope that NASA had really sterilized things going to other planets and to the stars.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Prion Triumphs

For John, BLUFBeware of "settled science".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the pages of The New York Times we have a review of a new book on science.
Madness and Memory:The Discovery of Prions--A New Biological Principle of Disease
Stanley B. Prusiner (Author), David L. Michelmore (Editor)

Sometimes it appears that scientific advancement is not a minuet of after you, no after you, but rather guerrilla warfare, with little skirmishes continuing even after the Nobel Prize has been bestowed.

The lede:

Sweet revenge comes in many delectable forms, among them the receipt of accolades for work long scorned.  And then to get to tell the whole story at length and without a single interruption — small wonder that the Nobel laureate Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner, a renowned neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, writes with a cheerful bounce.  Once disparaged, his scientific work is now hailed as visionary, and his memoir takes the reader on a leisurely and immensely readable victory lap from then to now.
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday's Big Thing

For John, BLUFAre Beacon Hill and Clueless synonyms?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Probably not a big deal much beyond Greater Lowell, but at 3:00 PM there will be a rally in front of Lowell City Hall for those supporting Question 2 on the Ballot, about rolling back the Gas Tax with the automatic inflation provision.  This movement is sometimes called "Tank the Tax".  Clever.

We probably do need the three cent a gallon increase in the gas tax, just so we can pay to fix the infrastructure.  And, frankly, it is preferable to more tolls, which just serve to slow down traffic and thus increase air pollution and thus foster global warmingclimate change.

For me the real problem is legislators one more time abdicating their responsibilities and handing them off to the bureaucrats.  If the tax needs to go up, due to inflation, then let the legislators VOTE on it.  We need to stop the passing of legislation empowering the bureaucracy.  Thus I am all for repeal of this little bit of stupidity.

And, Governor Patrick, in denigrating this "Tank the Tax" effort misses the point that it isn't so much about the 3¢ a gallon as it is about the indexing the tax to inflation (but apparently not deflation).  There are few better ways to lose credibility than to accuse people standing on principle of being venal and cheap.

So, looking forward to seeing you at Lowell City Hall at 3:00 this afternoon.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Was FDR The Indispensable Man?

For John, BLUFBe careful playing "what if" history.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In this last Sunday's edition of The New York Times Book Review was a review of two new books: The reviewer is Michael Beschloss.  I realize that Mr Beschloss is someone and I am nobody, but the snarky tone of the review left me cold. For example, he was totally dismissive of Vice President John "Cactus Jack" Garner.  Discussing the February 1933 assassination attempt on President Roosevelt in Miami, Florida, Mr Beschloss says:
Had Roosevelt been killed, the 32nd president of the United States would have been his running mate, Speaker John Nance Garner of Texas, a neophyte in foreign and military affairs, isolationist by instinct and deeply rooted in a Congress determined, notwithstanding the growing threats from Hitler and the imperial Japanese, to keep another president from repeating what a majority of its members considered to be Woodrow Wilson’s catastrophic mistake of needlessly dragging the nation into a distant “foreign war.”
This reminds me of a lecture I heard at the Army War College in late 1982 or early 1983, in which the speaker, a Department of Defense political appointee in the previous administration, dismissed President Reagan as being from the wrong part of the Country to understand foreign affairs.  Apparently the Gipper had spent too much time gazing out over the Pacific.  It also reminds one of the dismissal of Governor Palin, who, instead of having New York and Connecticut for neighbors had Canada and Russia.  What could she possibly know, except maybe who we shipped oil and sea food to.

Vice President Garner was a State Representative in Texas as the situation deteriorated in Mexico in the last days of the Porfirio Diaz Regime and a US Representative when insurgent Mr Francisco Madero was in San Antonio, Texas, and issued his Plan of San Luis Potosí.  And when the fighting swirled around El Paso, Texas, and the attack on Columbus, New Mexico.  There was the Ypiranga incident, wherein US intelligence agents discovered that the German merchant ship Ypiranga was carrying illegal arms to one of the sides and President Wilson ordered troops to the port of Veracruz, where there were skirmishes.  And, of course General Pershing chasing Pancho Villa all over northern Mexico, to no avail.  Not much going on in the Texas area.

But, what if President Roosevelt had died.  Perhaps then Senator Huey P Long (The Kingfish) might not have been shot and killed in 1935 and he would have run against and defeated Cactus Jack Garner and been President when war broke out in Europe and maybe again when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  The Kingfish was a comer.  That is the problem with "what if" history.  You just don't know.  I assume everyone realizes Senator Long was from Louisiana.

And, if Cactus Jack or the Kingfish had been President would there have been a Pearl Harbor in December 1941?  Would either of those men have put the kind of embargo on Japan that President Roosevelt imposed, thus inviting Japan to act when they realized their oil reserves were running out?

But, maybe Japan would have attacked anyway, because the Japanese had already, in June of 1940, declared Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and then Germany would have, as it did, declare war on the United States.  (That was dumb.)  The thing is, once the butterfly flaps its wings, you can't tell how things will unfold.

But, there is a second book, wherein the author attempts to understand what was going on in Japan that lead to the attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines in 1941.

Again Mr Beschloss gets into personalities.

Suffice it to say that Japan’s people were not lucky enough to be led by a Franklin Roosevelt. Instead the Japanese leadership was a sequestered gaggle of blinkered, hallucinatory, buck-passing incompetents, who finally pushed the vacillating Emperor Hirohito into gambling on war against the United States. Hotta, an Oxford-trained Asia specialist, does an effective job of portraying the almost Keystone Kops-style decision-making in Tokyo; the cumulative effect of her narrative is chilling as we watch it march toward global tragedy despite warning after warning.
I go with the the "March toward global tragedy", but the dismissive approach to the Japanese leadership only lacked the references to bucked teeth and near-sightedness to be akin to wartime propaganda.  While it may be acceptable in New York City, to me it is not acceptable.  As readers of the Book Review we deserve better.

Regards  —  Cliff

PP&ACA Goes to Court, Again

For John, BLUFDo it right or don't do it at all.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Another academic law professor, this time Professor Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center, and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, writing at The Volokh Conspiracy, embedded in The Washington Post, gives us "Another “specious” defense of Obamacare".  Professor Barnett makes the case for why the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Reid/Pelosi Care), as legislation, is a violation of the US Constitution, Article I, Section 7, Clause 1, the Origination Clause.
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
The person he is arguing against, in this case, is The New York Times.  The Times is its normal dismissive self with an "editorial tendentiously titled 'More Specious Attacks on Reform'."

I am with Professor Barnett in this case.  If we keep making little exceptions, small allowances, as to how the US Constitution works we will soon find that we don't have a Constitution.  Those 535 folks on Capitol Hill need to get it right and make it law in the right way.  No exceptions because "you were trying to do the right thing".  As they say, The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

We need health care reform, but we need to do it right.  And in way fewer pages, so we don't believe there are a lot of payoffs embedded in the bill.

Regards  —  Cliff

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Which appears to be part of the "War on Women", at least if you ask Ms Jill Abramson, late of The Old Gray Lady.

Defending Hillary

For John, BLUFGoose, Goose equity issue.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Hillary’s Brain; Hillary’s Brain on Drudge

An article linked today on Drudge:
Hey!  Hillary’s brain is off-limits! Leave her health records alone! Democrats are right – scouring records of a female candidate is just politics of personal destruction, and for the media to engage in it would be unfair, unethical, and absolutely UNPRECEDENTED.  You can’t probe a woman like that because, well, it’s a war on women!

Bunch of sexist, big meanies engaging in something heretofore unheard of, for shame.

America, you deserve fair and consistent coverage of relevant issues before deciding a Presidential/Vice Presidential ticket, so have faith the agenda-less media will refuse to push whispers and wildly inaccurate information about a partisan politician’s body part.  Goodness, no one credible would print lies, continually harass a candidate’s doctor, disrupt local hospital staff, or even offer to pay locals to give “quotes” about her health records to be included in a “research book” by a public university professor (your tax dollars at work?) which the candidate’s attorney will need to respond to.

From there the Facebook entry goes on to provide links from the past.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ms Jill Abramson

For John, BLUFSome bosses are troublesome.  Just saying.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In reading a story about the departure of Ms Jill A from The New York Times, in The New York Times, by Mr David Carr, I came across what Mr Cobb said was a favorite word of Ms Abramson:


Spelled "tsuris" in my computer's dictionary, it is from the Hebrew and it means "trouble or woe; aggravation."

So "tsoris" (tso͝oris) is the word of the day.

Yes, as Professor Althouse says, Ms Abramson was fired, per the NYT, for being a B----.  Apparently women have not yet earned the right to be tough, difficult bosses.  The other explanation for the firing is that The Times was not paying her what it had been paying men to do the same work and she challenged them on it, which would also make her a B----.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Best Althouse line—"Liberals retreat to the position right-wingers always take, the high ground of meritocracy and individualism."  I am sure she meant "Progressives".

The Koch Brothers Seen by The Old Gray Lady

For John, BLUFSome people seem to need enemies.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The International New York Times (the successor to The International Herald Tribune), we have an article by Mr Nicholas Confessore, telling us about the rise of the Koch Brothers (or rather, two of them) in the game of politics.

From the lede:

He backed the full legalization of abortion and the repeal of laws that criminalized drug use, prostitution and homosexuality.  He attacked campaign donation limits and assailed the Republican star Ronald Reagan as a hypocrite who represented “no change whatsoever from Jimmy Carter and the Democrats.”

It was 1980, and the candidate was David H. Koch, a 40-year-old bachelor living in a rent-stabilized apartment in New York City. Mr. Koch, the vice-presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, and his older brother Charles, one of the party’s leading funders, were mounting a long-shot assault on the fracturing American political establishment.

So what is it with the issue of the "rent-stabilized apartment" in New York City?  Isn't that the way things go in NYC?  They can't build more housing so they prevent rents from going through the roof by capping them, thus forcing the poor to live on the street or to move out of the City or to double and triple up in houses.  That is the way the market works.  That is why Libertarians are against things like price controls.  That is why 40% of cigs sold in Boston are smuggled in from out of state.

Test question:  What percent of the US economy is in the "gray" zone (the under the table or underground economy, the black market).

Answer:  15%.

I think the Koch brothers are scary only if you want a big government telling you what to do and you don't want anyone objecting to that approach.  The not so scary version of that is you like the European, Bonapartist, approach to Government.  The way England has been sliding in fits and starts since the Summer of 1945.

Well, and if you are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and you are looking to pick up Pinocchios from The Washington Post.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Government Redistribution

For John, BLUFDon't mess with Mother Nature.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Hayek Cafe is a posting of a letter To WTOP, down in our Nation's Capitol.  The letter is from June of 2011, but as current as today.  The writer is Mr Donald Boudreaux and the subject is "Muscle Inequality".

Mr Boudreaux was in his 50s when he wrote this, and a five day a week gym guy, as opposed to a "gym rat".

Here is the last paragraph:

So I resist the temptation to envy men with bigger muscles (men whose muscles, do note, were not built with fiber taken from my muscles).   And if muscle redistribution by government were possible, I’d oppose it.   Not only would the result be less muscle bulk to ‘redistribute’ (Would you pump weights for hours each day knowing that a large chunk of what you build will be stripped away and given to someone else?) but, more importantly, I’m not entitled to the confiscated fruits of other people’s efforts.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Economic Growth

For John, BLUFGovernments shouldn't be picking winners and losers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the blog Points and Figures Mr Jeffrey Carter, an angel investor and independent trader, asks the question "Why Is There Such High Unemployment In Illinois?".

Yes, the solution proposed by Mr Carter is less Government and more freedom and independence for entrepreneurs.

Of course, it is easy to pick on Illinois, since it is likely to be Detroit on steroids, given the overhang of public employee pension costs.

Of course the Governor of Illinois, Mr Pat Quinn, is the jerk who compared Black Republicans with Jews who collaborated with Nazis and no one in the main stream media cared.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Operation CHASTISE

For John, BLUFHeroes.

The survivors of the 617 Squadron dam busting mission recovered in England this day 71 years ago.

Eight of 19 Lancasters Bombers failed to return.  Of 133 aircrew involved 53 died. Of the dead, 14 were from the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Amending the First Amendment

For John, BLUFIf someone from Congress says they are just trying to be helpful, check for your wallet.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Washington Examiner, a notorious "Right Wing" newspaperPropoganda Tool, we have Byron York asking "Would Democrats amend Constitution to stop the Koch brothers?"  If the name Harry Reid crossed your mind you wouldn't be far off.  We are talking obsession here.  That other famous DC Right Wing rag, The Washington Post, earlier this month, gave Senator Reid three Pinocchios for listing the Koch Brothers as major contributors to Climate Change.  At any rate, here is the lede and following paragraph:
It's no longer news when Majority Leader Harry Reid takes to the floor of the Senate to denounce the Koch brothers. But most Americans probably don't know that Reid and many of his Democratic colleagues now want to amend the U.S. Constitution in far-reaching ways to put an end to the conservative billionaires' political influence.

"The shadowy Koch brothers are attempting… a hostile takeover of American democracy," Reid charged Thursday. "No one should be able to pump unlimited funds into a political campaign."

Well, this proposed Amendment from Senator Tom Udall (D, Utah) is DOA this Session.  Per the article:
As far as the amendment itself is concerned, there's not a chance in the world Democrats will succeed. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both House and Senate, and then approval by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. It won't happen.
Never say never, but this is definitely a long shot, unless you reimagine it as a public relations campaign to influence the 2014 election—a sort of engineering of consent.  One is reminded of Mr Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud.  Mr Bernays was admired by both Noam Chomsky and Joseph Goebbles.

Sure, I would like to get all the big business and big labor money out of elections, but I am concerned about where this leads.  For one thing, the Congress would turn the regulating power over to some bureaucrats in DC and perhaps around the nation.  After making many rules, long and complicated, the bureaucrats would go out to trip folks up, not help them comply.  It is possible that at some point they would ask to have their own armed police, with arrest powers.  That would be just one more reason for the Citizens to be dubious, but less in control.  And, all the time the bureaucrats would be saying "We are just trying to be helpful, just trying to enforce the laws."  Autonomy is slowly being crowded out.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Do I need to tell you that Mr Reid is the Senate Majority Leader and a Democrat from Nevada?
  Mr Bernays was part of the WWI US Committee on Public Information, that sold the American Public on the idea that it was a war that would "Make the World Safe for Democracy".
  I am not against bureaucrats, per se, my Father and two Brothers, all of whom I respect, having been Civil Service bureaucrats.

Fighting City Hall

For John, BLUFFighting back is expensive, but sometimes necessary.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The source is Forbes and the author is Mr George Leaf.  The headline is "What Is The Worst Agency In Washington, D.C. Today?".  Mr Leaf settles for the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  His example is EEOC v. Kaplan and what he describes as "arrogance and hypocrisy recently [leading] to a scalding rebuke from the Sixth Circuit."

From the Sixth Circuit Court we have Judge Raymond Kethledge excoriating the EEOC.

In this case the EEOC sued the defendants for using the same type of background check that the EEOC itself uses…[T]he EEOC runs credit checks on applicants for 84 of the agency’s 97 positions…For that practice, the EEOC sued Kaplan.
A sort of modern day example of "Do as I say, not as I do".

And, of course there is the question of if modern economic conditions mean that employers are looking for the best "people" when they are hiring, rather than the "right" people.  Would education be a factor here?  That asked, Hispanic men do better in the employment statistics than anyone else, but with less education.  Life is complicated.

There are two lessons to be drawn here.

The first is that bureaucrats tend to be self-perpetuating.  They will find things to do to keep themselves sufficiently busy so as to avoid elimination.

The second is that no matter what Congress does in writing a law, once it is launched out into society it is there for bureaucrats and judges to play with as they see fit within their own ethical understandings.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Some of these thing last a long time, like the Board of Tea Appeals, which went for 99 years, before being abolished in 1996.
  Senator Hubert H Humphrey, the Happy Warrior, assured his colleagues when he proposed the program that it would not lead to bad things.  Often we miss the unintended consequences when we are looking to do good.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Reforming Primary Elections

For John, BLUFYour idea, in print.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Below I am going to print the whole letter to the editor of The [Lowell] Sun from today's edition of the paper.  The letter is important because of the question it asks about primary elections in the Commonwealth.  It is my opinion that the letter writer, Ms Evelyn Dougherty, of Jamacia Plain, Chair of the Mass Coalition of Independent Voters, approaches the solution, but then veers off on the California solution, which is to ignore parties.  As one Commenter notes, that risks, in States like Massachusetts, locking in one party.  The problem is that one party rule is an invitation to eventual corruption.
Independent voters are coming together in Massachusetts to play a role in the mid-term elections, but it's not the role we are usually cast in by the media as "swing voters."  Instead, on primary day, Sept. 9, we'll be working to be visible at a time when we are most invisible.

Primary elections are a critical juncture in the democratic process.  They are often the most competitive. But in Massachusetts, independents are forced to select a party ballot and are unable to split their ticket and vote for the best candidate, not the party, as they prefer.

This is the independent's plight: we are first-class taxpayers when it comes to funding the administration of elections, but second-class voters.  Do you think this is fair, given the Democratic and Republican parties are private entities?

A recent Gallup poll shows 42 percent of Americans identify themselves as independent.  In Massachusetts it's even higher at 52 percent, making the issue all the more urgent as a large and growing segment of the electorate is marginalized in its voting powers by partisan primary systems.

Massachusetts independents support alternative approaches to the current system of private party primaries.  In a Top Two nonpartisan primary, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are on a single ballot and all voters vote on this ballot.  Boston's recent mayoral election is an example of a Top Two nonpartisan primary.

The top two vote-getters go to the general election.  In California such a system has resulted in more competitive elections, less legislative gridlock and candidates being more attentive to their entire constituent base.

On primary day, Massachusetts independents will be making ourselves seen and heard in new ways.  We will be holding informational pickets at polling places, calling on state legislators, writing letters, getting signatures and bringing attention to this flaw in our elections process.

A change is clearly needed, so that the voices of millions of independent voters who do not now have full voting rights can be heard.  We hope to lead the way to a government less hampered by partisanship and more able to move ahead with the business of our country.

I believe Ms Dougherty's paragraph on California makes the point.  You pick amongst Democrats for office and you will have more uniformity in the Legislature and less gridlock.  On the other hand, you give much less scope to the opposition to oppose, which is necessary to ensure minority rights in a legislature.

But, yes, why should independent voters fund primaries.  Let the Parties hold caucuses and conventions and unburden the taxpayers, and exclude the independents from the primary process.  Let them form their own parties.  But, don't give us a cure worse than the disease.

Regards  —  Cliff

VA Problems Point to Our Future?

For John, BLUFThere is blame for the VA Scandal all the way up and down the chain, and back into the last century.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Daily Call Ms Elizabeth Price Foley, a Law Professor at Florida International University, asks the "if this, then that" question.  She examined the question of if the VA scandal raises the question of health care rationing.  This is an ugly question.  Here are her first paragraphs:
Whistleblowers within the Veterans’ Administration health system are coming forward with tales of brutal disregard for the health and life of those who served our country.  Allegations of extensive wait times for lifesaving care, deaths while waiting, and horrific mismanagement have triggered outrage.

Unfortunately, the VA abuses are just the tip of a much larger, more menacing iceberg.  The iceberg is covert health care rationing, and it’s inherent in single-payer systems like the VA.

The obvious question to ask about the VA scandal is:  Why?  Why would a VA hospital administrator direct doctors not to perform colonoscopies until patients had three positive tests for bloody stools?  Or why were VA employees ordered to “cook the books” and hide long wait times that veterans faced when seeking care from heart, cancer, or other specialists?  Why did some VA administrators go so far as to create a secret waiting list to hide year-plus wait times?

There’s only one plausible answer to these questions: rationing.  The VA is but a smaller version of the sort of government-run, single-payer health care with which the political left is so enamored.

My understanding is that the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) spends about $60 billion a year on health care.  Against this there are some 9 million veterans enrolled in the system and 6 million actually receiving benefits.  Is it enough, too much or not enough?  The outcomes would indicate it is either not enough or the $60 billion is being mismanaged in many locations.

On the other hand, the VA's capital investments are from decades ago.  When I was in high school the VA Hospital in Long Beach, California, was long established at the corner of East 7th and Bellflower Blvd, and that was the 1950s.  Today's veterans are not necessarily living where VA planners in the 1940s and 50s put their massive facilities.  One of the hospitals in trouble is in Phoenix, Arizona.  Turns out that today Maricopa County, which is home to Phoenix has the second largest vet population in the country, with 275,000, just behind Los Angeles County (which includes the aforementioned Long Beach).  This large population of vets in Maricopa county didn't exists two or three decades ago.  People moved there or retired out of military bases in the area.

Perhaps the Phoenix VA operation was just overwhelmed and the VA couldn't articulate the need for capitol investment or the US Congress just wasn't paying attention.  At the end of the day, this does fall at the door step of Capitol Hill, since they have the oversight responsibility.  For sure, what we don't want is some sort of an Action T4 (Tiergartenstraße 4) Program somewhere down the road.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Steady, Mass Dems

For John, BLUFThe worst thing the Mass GOP could do to the Mass Dems would be to go away.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Boston Globe, on Tuesday, was an OpEd by a certain Tom Keane, titled "A 'letter' to Mark Fisher from Mass Democrats".  Mr Mark Fisher is, of course, the other person running for the Republican nomination for Governor.  In this Open Letter, Mr Keane compares Mr Fisher to Ms Marisa DeFranco, Esq.  I have met Ms DeFranco and was, frankly, favorably impressed.  But, what I see as a failure on the part of the Mass Democratic Party Mr Keane sees as a failure, but from a different direction. You can read the short OpEd here.

Here is the payoff paragraph:

Thanks to you, Mark, I think it’s a lock for us this November. And please know how much we appreciate your efforts. Perhaps your manufacturing business might need a loan or some state contracts? Just drop us a line. Or maybe you’ve got a few shiftless family members looking for gainful employment? We can help. Not Probation, of course (ha!), but there are still lots of state agencies where the number one job qualification is that we just give the word.
OK, so Mr Keane is having fun with Massachusetts Republicans.  It is all good clean fun and I liked the way he wrapped Ms DeFranco into his story.

What Mr Keane needs to keep in mind is that if the Mass Republican Party were to go away it would fracture the Mass Democrat Party.  If the Mass GOP goes away then some would join the Libertarian Party and some might try to form a Tea Party Party, but a bunch would just go unenrolled.  Those folks would then be free to vote in Democrat Primaries.  The Colleen Garry's of the Commonwealth would prosper, but others, with a less stellar record might find their margin in Primaries diminished—assuming, of course, that folks saw the changed terrain and challenged the more Progressive of our legislators.

In the end, it might create an environment wherein Ms Marisa DeFranco could be a serious challenge to Ms Elizabeth Warren.

Alternatively, the Mass GOP could be taken over by serious people who want a serious platform and serious candidates.


The duty of an Opposition is to oppose.
Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill
Amongst Others
Regards  —  Cliff

NYT Fires That B____.

For John, BLUFWar on Women from the Progressives.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Althouse blog is this headline—"How the NYT called Jill Abramson — its axed executive editor — a bitch."

This "all the news that's fit to print" business is tricky... especially when you're firing your first-ever! female executive editor and replacing her with your first-ever! black executive editor. The fit-to-print article — "Times Ousts Its Executive Editor, Elevating Second in Command" — is some of the best raw material for interpreters of crafty text that I have ever seen.
And, as Professor Althouse points out, The Old Gray Lady manages to implicate Ms Jill Abramson in racist actions.

Of course that is the counter to the charges floating out there (see Twitchy) that this was about Ms Abramson confronting upper management on the fact that she was being paid considerably less in salary and other compensation than her predecessor, Mr Bill Keller.  Now that is ugly, but not as ugly as the implication from The Times that Ms Abramson is a racist.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse and to Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pirate Radio in US

For John, BLUFGovernment being about enforcement is not as good as government being about facilitation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In today's edition of The Boston Globe is an article by Reporter Kathleen Conti, on pirate radios, headlined, in the dead tree edition, "Unlicensed radio is widespread in suburbs".

The gist of the story is that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken enforcement action against unlicensed radio stations in northeastern Massachusetts 37 times since 2003.  That works out to be about five times a year.

To me, the real problem isn't low power pirate stations hurting the big stations so much as it is finding ways to serve small communities of people who are not otherwise being served.  The article does talk about trying to fix the need, which is the real problem.

To address this, Congress approved the Local Community Radio Act, which opened up low-power FM stations for noncommercial uses, but there were only a few of those licenses available in the region.  A window to apply for a low-power FM license opened briefly last fall, from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, but it is unknown when or whether there will be another opportunity, Carter [T. Barton Carter, a professor of communication law at Boston University] said.
It doesn't sound like the FCC is working overtime to help entrepreneurs meet the needs of these small, language limited, communities in our area.  Nor, apparently, is Congress, really.  Government should be about helping the little guy, as well as the big guy and it doesn't seem to be happening here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Getting the Proper Focus

For John, BLUFI would think the Administration would like to keep the focus on the attack, rather than our domestic response.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Nice letter in The [Lowell] Sun yesterday, here, re the Benghazi imbroglio.

Regards  —  Cliff

OK Prejudice

For John, BLUFCould have been about Maine.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Inside Higher Education we have Mr Scott Jaschik writing about "The Last Acceptable Prejudice?".  We know this started at the University of North Georgia, thanks to Professor Rosann Kent.  Yes, North Georgia is in Appalachia.

Cue Dueling Banjos.

Cue Deliverance.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


For John, BLUFBenghazi isn't going away.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Writing in Vox, Mr Zack Beauchamp (pronounced BEE-chum) gives us "Benghazi is a prisoner's dilemma, and the Republicans are the prisoners".

Or not.

Regards  —  Cliff

Recording the Police

For John, BLUFA Question for the next time the Superintendent is on the show.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the headline from MassLive:
Chicopee woman faces wiretapping charges after allegedly recording her own arrest
Here is the lede:
SPRINGFIELD—A Chicopee woman apparently got a little too loud and belligerent while drinking on Chestnut Street Sunday morning, and refused to cooperate with police when they asked her to quiet down. When she was about to be arrested, police say the woman activated the voice recording feature on her smart phone, hid it in her purse and surreptitiously‎ recorded the entire arrest. Now she faces the unusual charge of unlawful wiretapping.
I think Host George Anthes should talk about this on City Life, and not just because he was originally from the Springfield area.  Is this the only part of the nation where recording the police is illegal?  Probably recording the police is legal and this is the police just trying to intimidate folks.  If they are doing it by the book, what do they have to fear?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 12, 2014

Confusing Hate and Free Speech

For John, BLUFJust because you are flat wrong doesn't mean I should condemn you.  That is the lazy way.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Are there many out there who don't understand that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a fascist organization?

Here is the SPLC's latest excursion into trying to intimidate people with opinions differing.  The source is The Daily Caller.  The issue, this time, is those opposed to the federalist project for English and math standards for all grades.  Stalwart Right-Wing organizations like the Chicago Teachers Union.

Regards  —  Cliff

  One of their recent escapades was publishing a "Hate Map" that inspired a fellow to go to the Family Research Council headquarters in DC, in an attempt to kill a bunch of people and rub their faces with Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
  As in the product of State Governors and State Education Chiefs getting together.

Defenestration at the NYT?

For John, BLUFEach of us is an individual.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at The Daily Caller is an article on a possible PC firing at The New York Times.  The headline is "30-year New York Times Science Writer Out After Writing Book About Genetics, Race".  The author of said book is Mr Nicholas Wade and the book is A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.

Maybe Mr Wade just thought it was time for a change and slipped out the back door.  However, this does have a bit of a bad oder.

And, what does this say about arguments in the press that the science is settled for "Global Warming" "Climate Change" "Climate Chaos"?  Is it just more Lysenkoism?

As to the book itself, here is an uneasy review in Slate.

My own view, not having read the book, is that we do want to know where the data leads us, but from a political point of view (and an economic point of view) we want to avoid grouping people and making decisions based upon such groupings, but rather allow each individual to rise to their own level of excellence.  Further, we should provide the schooling to allow that rise.  And the social environment.  This nation is not so rich that we can afford to overlook anyone, regardless of race, color, creed or nation of origin.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  No, I am not recommending the book.  I haven't read it.  It is here for completeness.

Judging Freedom

For John, BLUFA constant effort.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The most certain test by which we can judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.
-Lord Acton
Of course Lord Acton was part of a minority not given full citizenship.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Which Lord's Prayer?

For John, BLUFGeorge just doesn't get it, or can't cope with it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Reading The [Lowell] Sun "Column" today I came across a discussion of the US Supreme Court's recent ruling on prayer before government legislative meetings, Town of Greece, New York v Galloway et al.

The "Column" reports the City Council is happy with its somewhat non-denominational prayer, arrived at in 2007, in response to concerns about being in tangled in a lawsuit over using the "Lord's Prayer".

Per the "Column", at the time the City Solicitor, Ms Christine O'Conner, Esq, opined "…that the Lord's Prayer is widely viewed as a Catholic prayer."  Get out much?

From when I was in short pants through seventh grade we lived in a Protestant township (1,600 people with six Catholic families) in South Jersey and we recited the Lord's Prayer every morning in school—the Protestant way.  The Lord's Prayer, in one of its two forms, is a Christian prayer, or at least a Western prayer.  When we moved to Levittown, PA, it was the same way.   Ninth grade was in Southern California and it all went away.

My one concern is how we accommodate those who don't believe in "God" or are doubtful about there being a God or other force that can shape our lives.  Would they like to express some thoughts from time to time or is their religion of materialism one that logically precludes asking for help beyond from our fellow man?

By the way, Opinionator Michael Goldman is back in the Focus Section this week, slandering The Happy Warrior, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and decrying the end of the Republic due to the Supreme Court Ruling.  If he wants to decry something he should pick the Administration's trampling of the First Amendment in its efforts to heap the blame for the Benghazi on Videographer Mark Basseley Youssef.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The difference is the doxology, which Protestents add at the end, and which Roman Catholics now say at Mass, after a short prayer by the Priest at the end of the Lord's Prayer.

  Levittown was the genesis of my opposition to prayer in schools.  One day I snuck a peek at my Jewish buddy to see how he said it.  A while later it dawned on me it was from the New Testament and thus a social coercion on my friend.

First, they came for the ...

For John, BLUFIt is easy to go from part of the majority to part of some minority.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In today's Day by Day comic strip the character Jan asks, in the second panel, "Are the Kochs Jewish?" Her husband, Damon, responds, "No-just among the first they came for."

I thought that perhaps Mark Basseley Youssef (formerly known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) was among the first they came for.

Of course the reference is to Pastor Martin Niemöller.  Here is the short version of Pastor Niemöller's comment, from the US Holocaust Museum, on 14th Street, in Washington, DC.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945.

Regards  —  Cliff

  That is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the first panel.
  A very small distinction, these were concentration camps in Germany, as opposed to the extermination (or death) camps further east, where killing on an industrial scale took place.

Converting the Unconverted

For John, BLUFWe all have our dreams, although some are the nightmares of others.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

OK, so it is Brietbart, and it links to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), for this article, "British Islamist:  Muslims Should Humiliate Christians to make them Convert".

Of course, this is the United Kingdom, and not some Muslim nation.

Of course, this is just a form of Political Correctness, run amok.

Just from a totally different perspective.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Is Our Relationship With News to Change?

For John, BLUFWhat do the Feds think about City Life?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Over at the Blog of Law Professor Ann Althouse are two posts, in sequence, on the First Amendment and protecting our rights under said First Amendment.

The first is a Wall Street Journal article that quotes Judge Rudolph Randa at the end.

[T]he larger danger is giving government an expanded role in uprooting all forms of perceived corruption which may result in corruption of the First Amendment itself.
This is from a ruling wherein a federal judge in Wisconsin rebukes prosecutors trying to silence conservatives.  As Professor Althouse notes:
Notably, the editors connect the John Doe investigation of conservative groups to the IRS targeting of conservative groups.  In both instances, we see how "campaign-finance laws have become a liberal weapon to silence political opponents" and how "fighting the risk of corruption from 'dark money' in politics... done in secret and unrestrained by Constitutional guardrails, have become far more politically corrupting."
The second item has to do with Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman, interviewed by Paul Bedard at The Washington Examiner.
I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers.
Then he adds:
The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications.
And, of course, there is the whole Benghazi imbroglio, with its trampling on the First Amendment.

Because I took too long finishing this post there is another post at Professor Althouse's blog, this one on Ms Tina Brown's complaint in Vanity Fair, that Monica Lewinski (and Matt Drudge) destroyed Journalism, at as she knew it.  In the comments to this third post is this from "chilblain":

Tina's article is battlespace preparation. Lee Goodman, the chair of the FEC, has warned that the government is "angling to curtail the media's exemption from federal election laws governing political organizations." Her term is due to expire in December.
Here is the thing.  While a Nanny Government can move to restrict our free access to information, there will be those who desire and seek out information.  Even in places like 1930s Germany and the Soviet Union there have been people seeking the truth and thus seeking, and exchanging information.  Thus, the term Samizdat.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Ms Tina Brown is famous for her role in diminishing several traditional journalism institutions herself, including Newsweek.
  I would say truth, but sometimes two people can have two views of what is truth.  Strange, but true.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sex Change Games

For John, BLUFIt is not good when Government plays games.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On page two of today's edition of The [Lowell] Sun is an AP story on the continuing saga of Mr Robert J Kosilek, or Michelle Kosilek, as he likes to be known.  To refresh your memory, he was convicted of killing his wife.  He also wants a sex change operation of taxpayers expense (he is in jail, after all).

Federal Judge Mark Wolf ordered the Commonwealth to provide the operation, "noting that former Corrections Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy had engaged in "pretense, pretext, and prevarication" to deny the treatment."  My sense is that Judge Wolf is not one to put up with bureaucratic games and those games got us in trouble.

In fact, it is surprising to me that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, famous for its Supreme Judicial Court decision in Goodrich v Department of Public Health, would act this way.  It could be:

  • The Commonwealth really only gives lip service to the idea of equal rights in the area of gender.
  • The majority of People in the Commonwealth, including the majority of Democrats (registered and defacto), including the majority of Bureaucrats oppose equal rights in the area of gender but are cowed by those who support such rights.
  • We believe the incarcerated are a lesser form of life and thus respecting their gender rights is not important.
  • It it all George Bush's fault.
Incidently, The [Lowell] Sun, on 4 February of this year argued, here, that we spend the extra money and fight the original ruling.

I don't feel strongly one way or the other regarding the operation, if competent and informed medical advice says Ms Kosilek is adequately being cared for.  What I feel very strongly about is the idea that our prison system has been slow rolling this thing, thus, in essence, abusing the prisoner.  I am with Judge Wolf.  The system needs to acknowledge and repent of its abuse by granting an operation.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Per Wikipedia.
  Actually, I think Goodridge is a pretty thin reed, given its bad sociology and slanted opinion.  And it was weak on the issue of threesomes.