Monday, June 30, 2014

Ignoring Reality


For John, BLUFEventually reality wins.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.
-Ayn Rand
I found this on one of Neal's EMails.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, June 29, 2014

PEW Looks At Political Views


For John, BLUFPart of our problem is too quickly binning folks.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Remember the blog post from yesterday, on PEW Polls?  You can take a 23 question version yourself and see where you sit.  Here is the URL.

I came out as a Business Conservative, along with 10% of the public.

PEW estimates that in 2012 some 9% of us voted for President Obama and 81% voted for Governor Romney.

Business Conservatives generally are traditional small-government Republicans.  Overwhelming percentages think that government is almost always wasteful and it does too much better left to businesses and individuals.  Business Conservatives differ from Steadfast Conservatives in their positive attitudes toward business and in their strong support for Wall Street in particular.  Most think that immigrants strengthen the country and take a positive view of U.S. global involvement.  As a group, they are less socially conservative than Steadfast Conservatives.
On the PEW Spectrum it comes out this way:

SOLID LIBSFAITH AND FAMILY LEFTNEXT GEN LEFTHARD-PRESSED SKEPTICSYOUNG OUTSIDERSBUSINESS CONSERV'TSTEADFAST CONSERV'TBY STANDERS
Liberal across the boardRacially diverse and religiousYoung, liberal on social issues, less so on social safety netFinancially stressed and pessimisticConservative views on government, not social issues.Pro-Wall Street, pro-immigrationSocially conservative populistsYoung, diverse, on the sidelines of politics

When you try to sum someone up in 23 questions and a few words it is easy to get it a little off.  For example, I am not a big fan of Wall Street, thinking it is a bit out of control.  I am a fan of small business and entrepreneurship.  I do appreciate the value of scale.  I am all for immigration, as long as it is legal.  I think that illegal immigration is a major problem.  I also believe we should have legislation requiring new citizens to renounce their former allegiance as they become Americans.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

First Things First


For John, BLUFYou need a certain order to have politics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Washington Free Beacon we have "Power Precedes Politics".

The point of the article is that for there to be politics there needs to be a government, a government with a monopoly on violence.  This is not to say there can be no Second Amendment, but it does mean that those with guns need to be sufficiently satisfied with the Government that they are willing to work with it.  Saying a particular situation needs a political resolution does not make it so.  Every situation first needs an agreed governmental structure, one that the vast majority of the People are willing to tolerate.  Even Progressives were willing to tolerate President George W Bush, otherwise there would have been war (at least armed insurgency) rather than politics.

The author of the article is Mr Matthew Continetti, editor in chief of The Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was opinion editor of The Weekly Standard.  He did author The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star (Sentinel, 2009) (Number 705,602 in Amazon's Kindle Store.  Number one is The Fault in Our Stars.).  he lives in McLean, Virginia, which explains a lot, or perhaps nothing.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

How Should We Relate to Israel?


For John, BLUFReligion not about God is religion about politics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is a blogger who gets some very important points correct.  One is that churches that go "progressive" lose members.  As Blogger Jeffrey Carter puts it:
Traditional churches have made a business decision to go after a market decreasing in size.
The progressives tend not to go to church.

But, Mr Carter (Points and Figures) also makes the point that by choosing to "disinvest in Israel" the Presbyterian Church (USA) has aligned itself not so much with God as with David Duke.

He provides us a link to a letter signed by both his Paster, John Vest, and a number of other Presbyterian Pastors that shows that not all are in favor of "disinvestment" as a solution to the issue of Israel and Palestine.  "The Things That Make for Peace".  Pastor Vest does not believe that it is an either or situation in the Holy Land.  Nor do I.

And, when an individual congregation, or a national church organization, moves away from preaching God, into a "post-Christian" mode, it will eventually contract in membership, but I repeat myself.

People really do want to be saved, in this world and the next.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Understanding the Polls


For John, BLUFLies, damn lies, statistics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Surveys are hard to write and hard to interpret.  At a meeting Friday morning a committee of pretty smart folks, and me, looked at a single word foil, questioned it, expanded it and then killed it.  We all bring our backgrounds and education to these issues.

Here Professor Ann Althouse inveighs against The New Republic for abusing statistics.  The TNR headline is "80 Percent of Conservatives Think the Poor 'Have It Easy.'"

Professor Althouse writes:

I really want to criticize The New Republic for it's disgusting, deceptive headline. The relevant question had this pairing:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?

Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return

Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough to help them live decently

I suspect most people would have trouble with both statements, but to say that your view comes closest to the first statement is not to say that you "think the poor 'have it easy.'" It's just to reveal that your tendency is to think the government's safety net is too big or too soft or perhaps that too many people are losing their incentive to strive because benefits create dependency.
Professor Althouse noted that in the Comments one Ignorance is Bliss noted:
There is actually a deeper methodological flaw to TNR's analysis.  The poll did not identify liberals and conservatives, then ask them this question, then report the results.  It used this question as part of the process of determining who was a liberal and who was a conservative.

Of course conservatives answered the way that they did, that was part of Pew's definition of a conservative.

Here are the responses to the question for the last 20 years, going back to the first year of the CLinton Administration.  This is PEW Question 25C.

Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in returnPoor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough to help them live decently Both/Neither/ DK/Ref
Jan 23-Mar 16, 2014 44479
Dec 3-8, 2013434314
May 1-5, 2013454411
Feb 22-Mar 14, 2011414712
January, 2008345214
December, 2005355114
September, 2005385111
December, 2004345214
June, 2003345511
August, 1999454213
June, 1997454213
October, 1996464014
October, 1995543610
April, 199552399
October, 1994484111
July, 199453399

Surprisingly, the lowest numbers for "Poor People Have It Easy" was during the Bush Administration.  The highest numbers tended to be during the Clinton Administration.  What does that tell us?

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Spying on Americans, by Americans


For John, BLUFThey are out there listening.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Quoting from The Instapundit:
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY THIS WOULD HAPPEN:  Thousands targeted by spying orders.
Since I am not as parsimonious as Professor Glenn Reynolds, from The Hill we have this:
Additionally, in 2013 the FBI issued more than 19,000 national security letters, which the agency uses to get information about people’s communications without a warrant.  Those letters contained nearly 39,000 requests for information, which the ODNI noted is likely larger than the actual number of people targeted by the letters because many may be aimed at multiple email addresses or other accounts controlled by the same person.
I wonder if the US Supreme Court's ruling on Cell Phones will override the National Security Letter issue?

Regards  —  Cliff

  Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The MSM Looks, But Does Not See


For John, BLUFThe NYT view.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The "Public Editor" for The New York Times answers reader comments on The Old Grey Lady and the IRS imbroglio.  Her take:
The Times was somewhat late in beginning to cover the latest development about the lost emails. My office had begun to field several days’ worth of reader protests on the lack of attention when the first story finally went online.  Despite that slow start and the quiet display of the subsequent stories (an analytical piece might have been a good choice for the front page), The Times has given its readers insightful coverage of a situation heavily clouded by partisan politics.
I will give her the "somewhat late".  It is my guess that the powers that be in the paper think this is just a made up scandal and there is nothing to it.  Ms Lois Lerner was just doing her legitimate job and the loss of her EMails and those of six other IRS employees, are just the way an electronic world moves.

What did you expect?  Don't Worry, Be Happy

Regards  —  Cliff

  This would be Ms Margaret Sullivan and the position would be a sort of Ombudsman for the readers of America's Newspaper of Record.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hiding the Sign


For John, BLUFNo, this is not about baseball.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Going west on Rogers Street, by Fort Hill Park on the left and Fort Hill Avenue on the right we see this sign on the block that includes the Moody School:

Yes, I took this photo a couple of days ago, but I didn't mail it off to our Lowell Transportation (Traffic) Engineer, Mr Eric B Eby, until about 1015 this AM.  The reason for the EMail was that Mr Eby was coming in late today because he is out there this evening watching over the painting of stripes on our streets and that is a good thing.  In fact, Mr Eby called me about the photo at about 1150 this morning. Mr Eby said that when the utility company puts up a new pole they are not obligated to adjust the sign, and as we can see from the photo it is a double pole.

Mr Eby said he would call the sign shop.  It is Friday, so I am not looking for action before Monday.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Globe and Free Speech


For John, BLUFNot everyone really believes in Free Speech.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



As discussed earlier, the US Supreme Court ruled Nine to Zero that the Massachusetts 35 foot perimeter around abortion clinics was a violation of the First Amendment.  The Boston Globe talked about it today here, on the front page.

The top editorial, on page A14 of the dead tree edition has as the top editorial, "State should seek new means to restrict protests at clinics."  Here are the first two sentences:

People who were dismayed by the circus-like protests around Planned Parenthood’s Boston clinic are understandably disappointed by the US Supreme Court’s unanimous rejection of the state’s 35-foot buffer zone for entrances to abortion clinics.  But there is much in the court’s opinion to suggest that the state can craft alternative remedies.
So The Globe is for First Amendment rights for the press, but not for the rest of us?

No wonder they don't have Mr Nat Hentoff writing for them.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The on-line edition has this headline "After SCOTUS buffer zone ruling, state must find new ways to protect patients".  Maybe someone realized that the original was a bit over the top.

The Accused Push Back


For John, BLUFThese days you have to know your rights and have a lawyer.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



It isn't like this is a revelation, but the front page (below the fold) of The Boston Globe has this headline, "Students fight sexual assault accusations".
Following a rise in reports of sexual assaults at colleges, a growing number of alleged assailants — including some at area schools — are pushing back, saying they have been falsely accused amid the heightened awareness sweeping the nation’s campuses.

The suspected assailants —who have been put on probation at the schools, suspended, or expelled — are appealing the disciplinary rulings and filing lawsuits asserting that college administrators unfairly rushed to judgment in their cases.  They say the decisions have damaged their reputation, disrupted their education, and in some cases cost them thousands of dollars in lost tuition, legal expenses, and other costs.

The accused students are even pushing back citing "...Title IX, the very federal gender-discrimination law that many alleged victims have cited…".

There is this issue:

Accused students often expect to be held to the criminal standard of evidence, that it was “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they had committed a crime.  However, the US Education Department actually advises colleges to use a lower standard of proof, a “preponderance of the evidence” in adjudicating the cases administratively.
OK.  Can the student demand a legal trial?  I realize that being expelled from college may be a lesser punishment than five years in jail, but if you feel you are innocent it might be worth the rolling of the dice.

When I entered the search engine of The Boston Globe with the article headline from the dead tree edition the first article it kicked up was "Some schools remain hostile to victims, official testifies".  The article discussed testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Ms Catherine Lhamon.

Alexander also questioned Lhamon about the source of the authority for her office to issue guidance to colleges and universities about how to handle such cases.  She said she was given such authority by way of her appointment.
I find that a strange, non-Constitutional, grant of authority.  It is sort of Nixon-like.

At the end of the day it seems that one of the ways Senator E Warren can help reduce the crushing student costs and debt would be to encourage colleges and universities to pass the issues of investigation and punishment over to the local community police forces and district attorneys.  I realize it would be cost shifting, but it would also put the job where it belongs.  Having colleges and universities hire people to police others, and hire them for skills other than law and law enforcement just seems wrong.  And, if this catches on it could become a trend, downloading other responsibilities from the academic world and letting them get back to education.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I fully agree we need to be ensuring Civil Rights, but I would have thought that such issue would be referred to the Department of Justice (notwithstanding the current Attorney General's biased dealing in that area).  An Assistant Secretary in another Department, with horse holders, seems like overkill.
  That would be Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), himself a former Secretary of Education.
  "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal."  Former President Richard M. Nixon, TV interview with David Frost, May 20, 1977.

Germany Soft on Putin


For John, BLUFGerman guilt continues.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Five reasons the Germans are not hard over on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.  The source is World Affairs Journal.

Interesting read.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Supreme Court Rules For Free Speech


For John, BLUFAt least the Supreme Court likes Free Speech.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



A complete lift from the Althouse Blog on today's SCOTUS Ruling.

And this was a Nine-Zip ruling.

Massachusetts law imposing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinic violates the First Amendment, a unanimous Supreme Court says today.

Chief Justice Roberts writes the main opinion, and there's a Scalia concurrence, joined by Kennedy and Thomas, and an Alito concurrence.

I'm just reading the live blog at SCOTUSblog, so I don't have more than that yet. I also see that the Court decided the case about recess appointments, and:

The President can make a recess appointment without Senate confirmation when the Senate says it is in recess. But either the House or the Senate can take the Senate out of recess and force it to hold a "pro forma session" that will block any recess appointment. So while the President's recess appointment power is broad in theory, if either house of Congress is in the hands of the other party, it can be blocked.
This means that some appointments to the NLRB were invalid, and: "That means that their rulings were invalid. It is unclear what will happen with other NLRB rulings from that period."
Regarding the NLRB ruling, that was solid also.  And, I think SCOTUS would have ruled for the License Commission regarding quorums.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Report From the June State Committee Meeting


For John, BLUFWe are grappling with issues.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is one view of the Mass Republican State Committee Meeting last evening.  As you can see from that blog post, Iron Mike from Chelmsford is not a happy camper.

For a different spin, here is the article from The Boston Globe"GOP tries to stifle dissent within state committee"

I missed the meeting, but am hoping there will be additional reports, from additional sources.

As it is, it didn't sound pretty.  And the focus of the article in The Boston Globe was not on unresolved issues from our State Convention, earlier in the year.  Those issues do not break down along libertarian or conservative lines.  As an aside, it is interesting that we find the "libertarian" wing of the Republican Party to be most like the Rockefeller Wing, from years ago.  However, one thinks the underlying philosophy of the two camps might be different.

Regards  —  Cliff

Drunk Driving Also Kills the Innocent


For John, BLUFWe need to take drunk drivers off the road.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Columnist Victor David Hanson on an ongoing trial for vehicular homicide.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cosmic Questions, From Antarctica


For John, BLUF"We’ll just have to wait until the dust has settled."  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Popular Mechanics we have "Your Questions About the Gravitational Waves Controversy, Answered".  Now we are into the important stuff.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Illegals Flown to The Commonwealth


For John, BLUFIf you overload a system you can crash it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun we had a page 1 article, below the fold, on the movement of illegal (undocumented) immigrants from the Southern Border States to Massachusetts, and especially Hanscom Air Force Base.  The article, by Samatha Allen, is "Hanscom flights of undocumented immigrants raise 'red flags' for rep".  It is good to know that at least one of our State Representatives is on this, even if it isn't one of the ones from Lowell.  This article basically confirms what Opinionator Michelle Malkin, a legal immigrant, has been telling us for the last few days.

The report by Ms Allen suggests that the ostensible reason people being moved up here is because they are being prepared for repatriation.  However, the location of these people, up to 700, per the report, is a bit sketchy.  We are being told that there is no Commonwealth monies lost, in that per diem is being paid for these individuals.

This does raise the larger issue of what is going on down on our Southern Border.  On the one hand, the Administration has expressed surprise.  On the other hand they appear to have been planning for this recent influx of young immigrants since January of this year.  One Commentator, Tom Blumer, likens it to the strategy put forward by Piven and Cloward back in the 1960s.

Given the parsimonious use of truth by the current Administration, I would like to hear more.  I think the Editor could sell more newspapers if he kept after this.  Especially given the low level of reporting by the Mainstream Media.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Remember, it was our Attorney General, Martha Coakley, who told us that it is not illegal to be illegal in Massachusetts.

War Without End


For John, BLUFThe enemy of my enemy....  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is a comment on ISIS, or, more properly, ISIL.

I blame Ms Gertrude Bell.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mass GOP Committee Meeting Wednesday


For John, BLUFIn house Mass GOP fight.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On Wednesday the State Committee of the Mass GOP will hold a meeting.  The State Committee is made up of one elected woman and one elected man for each of the 40 State Senate Districts.  Ours are Ms Susan Slade and Mr Rick Green.

The meeting will be at 7:00 PM, at the Doubletree Hilton, in Westboro.  The specific address is 5400 Computer Drive, Westborough, Massachusetts, 01581, off of Route 9, just West of the 495 Interstate (Exit 23B.  There is a phone number, (508) 366-5511.

I have not seen an agenda, but I am sure the recent State Convention and the missing ballots will be on the minds of many people.  It is unlikely those who show up will get to hear much of the debate as the use of Executive Session is expected.  In my opinion, showing up can be a signal to the State Committee that those of us out in the Grass Roots are concerned about the Party being captured by "Down Town" Republicans.  A key for those showing up to show support for one view or another is to remember that Republican virtue of being respectful to all.

As for news coverage, there is little.  The best is this item from Monday's Boston Herald.  A sort of tangential item is this from The Boston Globe.  Let us face the truth.  To the establishment Democrats, including The Boston Globe, Republicans are a small and insignificant rash that flares up once in a while but is easily medicated.  The problem for Democrats is that if the Republican Party in Massachusetts implodes, and goes away, the infighting that ensues will consume the institutional Democratic Party and there will be major fissures and realignments of power.

Regards  —  Cliff

  No one airs their dirty laundry in public, especially if there is even the hint of a lawyer in the area.

Colleges and Sexual Exploitation


For John, BLUFBad problem analysis is pervasive.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



There is concern across the world over sexual abuse of women (not so much about men, although there are pockets where that is a problem).  India and Egypt have come in for global attention.  Here in the United States the focus has been on the military and on college campuses.  We are even seeing people propose legislation to fix the problems seen.  Legislation is good, but one wonders why we can't work this problem with existing laws.

Frankly, it seems to me that the existing statistics taken in a wholistic way, suggest that the military is seriously working this problem.

As for college campuses, the ongoing approach of treating sexual assault, and in particular, rape, seems to be "administrative" rather than criminal.  While it is admirable that the college administration wants to fix the problem and protect its students, it is actually not doing that.  For one thing, it is abusing the rights of "the accused" time and time again.  This has generated a backlash, where the Federal Bureaucracy is pushing for more action, and, implicitly, less legal defense for the accused, but those who feel their rights have been abused have taken to the courts for protection.  At this blog post is a list of such lawsuits.

So, we have non-professionals investigating rape, which trivializes the crime.  The Police and the local prosecutor, who are supposed to be involved in such crimes, are excluded.  That is the first problem.

The second problem is that colleges and universities are (1) paying out big settlements to those wrongly accused and disciplined, or improperly disciplined and (2) the administrative overhead for institutions of higher education continue to grow, thus driving up the cost of education (and thus increasing student debt).  Apparently neither President Obama nor Senator E Warren can see this problem.  Hint:  Their solutions to student debt are not working.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Here is the Federal Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 4 April 2011 Letter.  The letter is signed by Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.  The letter references back to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 34 C.F.R. Part 106, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance.  If you get the Federal dollar you dance to the Federal Piper.

Avoid Fire Works


For John, BLUFMany small petty rules.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Hat tip to the Instapundit.
NANNY ALERT:  Massachusetts State Agencies Warn Motorists against Transporting Illegal Fireworks into the State.  Fireworks bans, as reported so many years ago by Henry Reed, were the entering wedge of nannyism.
I have been seeing the flashing signs on the Route 3 Freeway for several days.

And hearing those fireworks here in Lowell at night.

If Mary Jane can be legalized, why not fireworks?

Regards  —  Cliff

Lampooning the Lampooners


For John, BLUFSatire can grow stale.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



For decades we have enjoyed the Doonesbury comics and their look at the Nation and at the Federal Government.

Now we have Truesbury the "...satiric re-imagining of Doonesbury as it would be if the Washington Post and G. D. Trudeau had as much fire in the belly for illuminating the transgressions of a Democrat White House as they did for one run by the GOP."

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, June 23, 2014

DOJ Reasoning in Killing Mr Anwar al-Awlaki Released, After a Fight


For John, BLUFWhen should the Feds target Americans for killing?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The New York Times is not a total waste of ink.  Their lawsuit, joined into by the ACLU, to force the release of the Department of Justice memo justifying the drone attack that killed American Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen, back in September 2011, has paid off.
A federal appeals court in New York on Monday made public a redacted version of a 2010 Justice Department memo that signed off on the targeted killing of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, without a trial, following Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

The memo, signed by David Barron, who was then the acting head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel and is now a federal appeals court judge in Boston, concluded that it would be lawful to target Mr. Awlaki for killing if his capture was not feasible.  Intelligence analysts had concluded that Mr. Awlaki was an operational terrorist.

We don't have the whole memo, but we have the DOJ legal analysis.  This is important in that as Americans we need to understand when and where our Federal Government is willing to kill us rather than arrest us.  For instance, if drones had been available, would Ruby Ridge have gone differently?  More important, should it have?

Another question is why the Department of Justice prevaricated about the existence of the Memo when first approached?  That doesn't seem very open and transparent.  In fact, given that the sky has not fallen with the release of the legal analysis section, it looks like terrible judgment on the part of DOJ officials.  From Reporter Charlie Savage:

The Obama administration fought the disclosure, initially refusing to confirm or deny the memo’s existence.
This should be added to the list of disappointing things about Attorney General Holder and his Administration of the Department of Justice.

Regards  —  Cliff

Walmart v The New York Times


For John, BLUFHaving an Internet reduces the value of buying ink by the barrel.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I wonder if anybody at The Old Grey Lady even noticed this "Fisking" that has been making it around the Internet.  The original article by Mr Timothy Egan, "The Corporate Daddy  Walmart, Starbucks, and the Fight Against Inequality", can be found here.

The Fisking can be found here.  To quote someone, "the chickens have come home to roost".

Regards  —  Cliff

Kidnapping for Organizational Financing


For John, BLUFThe Long War is spreading.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



There appears to have been a kidnapping as fundraising in Montreal (Canada) in December of 2012.  Kidnappings are usually about money, but not always about organizational fundraising.  In this case the organization was the Muslim Brotherhood.  A report by a blog, TSEC, or The Terrorism and Security Experts of Canada Network, gives the broad outlines.

If you wish to read the newspaper report from the 21st of June of this year, found in the Montreal newspaper Journal de Montreal, you can go to this link, although I advise you that the report is presently only available in French.

A kidnapping, while a big deal, it a fairly random event, designed to extort money for an individual or a small group of people.  This kidnapping was designed to finance the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada, or beyond.  That should be concerning to Canadians and Americans alike, as it represents a possible escalation in terrorist activity on this continent.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mass GOP to Meet Wednesday


For John, BLUFLike anyone cares.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at The Boston Herald is an article by Reporter Hillary Chabot, "GOP feud could hurt Baker".

If this is cleaned up now it will not hurt Candidate Charlie Baker, but might help Candidate Mark Fisher.

Yours truly is mentioned in the second paragraph.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Formerly of The [Lowell] Sun.

Romney Redux


For John, BLUFShould Mitt Romney have to do it again?  No.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Going back a couple of days, we have this Scott Lehigh OpEd from The Boston Globe, "Will Mitt run again?".

Let us deal first with the question of if Governor Mitt Romney would have been a better President than the man who won the race in 2012, Barack Obama.  My judgment is that he would have been, for us, a better President.  Note that this is a sample of one and there are those who would differ, but the polls suggest that many feel we may have missed the boat in November of 2012.

The question before us is if Mr Romney should run again, in 2016.  The quick short answer is "Of course not".  He did his duty.  He shouldn't have to go through that wringer again.  I admit that some Republican candidates are imploding and others are being savaged by the media, but that is no reason to ask Mitt Romney to suit up and go back onto the field.  If there isn't some Republican City Counsellor out across the fruited plain who can beat Hillary or Elizabeth, then we Republicans should hang it up and go form a new party.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Goldman Gets It Right


For John, BLUF"America is advanced citizenship."  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Mostly I find the columns of Mr Michael Goldman in the Sunday editions of The [Lowell] Sun to be a bubble off.  But, today's column, "The nation's great divide — not the 1st time, but still scary", is smack on target.  A shack.  The good news is that we haven't had a US Senator caned in the Senate Chamber in over 163 years.

Congratulations and thank you, Mr Goldman.

Regards  —  Cliff

Stop the Presses


For John, BLUFThere is some sanity in the Administration.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Contrary to Earlier Reports, like this one.

From The Hill:

US advisers to Iraq will earn combat pay
Regards  —  Cliff

Those Pesky EMails at IRS


For John, BLUFAs a minimum we should be hearing about letters of counseling in some permanent personnel files.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The New York Times gives us an "even handed" view of the House Hearings on the IRS missing EMails, the ones that were on Federal Civil Servant Lois Lerner's computer, before they weren't. 
“Sitting here listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it,” Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, told the commissioner, John Koskinen, at a hearing of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.:  “That’s your problem.:  No one believes you.”
And that is a problem.:  It will be more of a problem if the mainstream media doesn't believe the IRS Commissioner and the ultimate problem if the Democrats in the US Senate not only don't believe him, but also think it is a big deal.  Normally, they wouldn't think it is a big deal, but if both the mainstream media and Democrats back home think it is a big deal, so will the Senators

From Ed Morrissey we have "IRS commissioner:  You know, e-mail isn’t necessarily an “official record”; Update::  IRS Manual says it is".  From the blog post:

Regarding email as "official record", it would seem Section 1.10.3.2.3 of IRS Manual would destroy that argument
Destory it like a crashed hard drive.

Oh, and Reason Magazine says that "The IRS Had a Contract With an Email Backup Company".  Sonasoft.  A 2009 Tweet from Sonasoft:

If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to back up their servers why wouldn't you use them to protect your servers?
http://www.sonasoft.com
Regards  —  Cliff

  Her hard drive crashed, as did those of several others.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

No Combat For Advisors to Iraq


For John, BLUFFollow the money.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"No Danger Pay for Special Forces Headed To Iraq".  That is the word from the Military Dot Com web site.
Special Forces troops heading to Iraq to advise the Iraqi security forces will not receive combat pay but will have immunity from local law, Pentagon officials said Friday.
Actually, I think the immunity from local law is more important than the $7.50 a day in imminent danger pay.  On the other hand, this probably means no Purple Hearts for any wounded.  No Combat Infantry Badges for infantrymen.  Maybe no Bronze or Silver Stars.

A friend wrote:

So I guess this is how we can say there are no combat forces on the ground in Iraq.  Well played by politicians and bureaucrats.
Regards  —  Cliff

Highways and Congestion


For John, BLUFLies, damned lies, statistics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At Wired Magazine, in the "What's Up With That" section we have an article by Mr Adam Mann, with an assertive title, "Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse".
...if there’s anything that traffic engineers have discovered in the last few decades it’s that you can’t build your way out of congestion. It’s the roads themselves that cause traffic.

The concept is called induced demand, which is economist-speak for when increasing the supply of something (like roads) makes people want that thing even more. Though some traffic engineers made note of this phenomenon at least as early as the 1960s, it is only in recent years that social scientists have collected enough data to show how this happens pretty much every time we build new roads. These findings imply that the ways we traditionally go about trying to mitigate jams are essentially fruitless, and that we’d all be spending a lot less time in traffic if we could just be a little more rational.

Yes, here are the numbers for the induced demand in the automobile transportation area:
A review of transport research suggests that the elasticity of traffic demand with respect to travel time is around −0.5 in the short-term and −1.0 in the long-term. This indicates that a 1.0% saving in travel time will generate an additional 0.5% increase in traffic within the first year. In the longer-term, a 1.0% saving in travel time will result in a 1.0% increase in traffic volume.
There is an upper limit here, isn't there?  If not the total number of cars in an area, then the total number of people?

What really bothers me about such arguments is that there is not a discussion as to what the natural limit might be.  About a decade ago there was a letter in The Boston Globe complaining about how, if the mixing bowl at the intersection of the 93 and 95 Interstates north of Boston was to be fixed it would only result in more people driving.  The letter author didn't comment on the possibility that a lot of those folks are currently driving at "street level".  Wouldn't it be nice to bring that traffic up out of the neighborhoods and put it on the roads designed to handle it?

Then there is that other economic term, "opportunity cost".  What is the next best use of one's time and money?  If you are trying to fix something around the house and you need some parts, but all the roads are jammed, do you go sit in traffic, go "street level" or just forgo the repairs, figuring to get the parts you need at some other time?  Why should road planners decide if and when you go to the local Home Depot or Lowes?  By limiting road construction that is exactly what is happening.

Of course, you could live in a city, where everything is within walking distance or there is a bus.  This is a vision close to the hearts of Progressives.  End that urban sprawl.  I guess it is a view, but I suspect it is a view that exists in the minds of those who already have theirs.  They live in Lexington and Concord and Carlisle.  This is a view that would condemn to the congested ghettos those people who wanted to get out and have a lawn and trees.

And what about work. Since moving to Lowell I have worked in Wilmington (14.69 miles away), Andover (twice) (6.05 miles slow route and 8.68 miles via freeway) and Sudbury (between 25.21 and 31.26 miles, depending on route).  Not walking distance and there is no public transportation, so should I just have moved each time I got a job change (within the same company that is)? There is a germ of an idea in the article, but it needs a lot more development.

Regards  —  Cliff

NYT v Gov Scott Walker


For John, BLUFToo much prosecutorial zeal is worse than a little crime.  Blackstone.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



My Brother Lance forwarded me a URL and a comment, regarding the current Scott Walker dust-up.
There clearly is plenty to fear from independent spending groups that raise unlimited dollars.
I already blogged about the larger issue here, but this Editorial is very disappointing.  Where is Jill Abramson when you need her?  Oh, off at Harvard, teaching.

From the Editorial at The New York Times:

That’s why it is important that prosecutors like the ones in Wisconsin aggressively pursue violations of similar state laws against coordination with outside groups.  In the Walker case, a federal judge and a state judge have, disappointingly, already agreed with the governor’s argument that the “issue ads” were not political, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is reviewing the case and may let the prosecutors proceed with their investigation.

If the rules against coordination are lifted, wealthy donors will achieve their dream of donating unlimited millions directly to candidates.  The Walker case shows how important it is for government at all levels — Congress, federal agencies and state officials — to put severe curbs on the ability of outside groups to meddle in politics with unlimited dollars.

OK, so we want prosecutors to "aggressively pursue" even when there is a violation of Constitutional Rights?  That is just plain Fascist.  And, what makes people an "outside group"?  Illegal immigrants?  Canadians?  The Chinese?  That is, again, a Fascist approach to this issue.  Plain and simple.

Do I think there should be some limits on campaign donations?  Of course I do.  Do I think that outside groups should be able to advertise their opinions?  Of course I do.  It should be open for that Eugenics Group, Planned Parenthood, as well as for right to life groups.  I am dubious about drug cartels being allowed, but then maybe they are the "outside groups" to which the Old Grey Lady is referring.  On the other hand, the recent Republican Primary in Virginia, in which then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost, shows that money isn't the controlling factor.  A bestirred electorate is the controlling factor.

Remember, from A Man For All Seasons, where More is talking to his son-in-law, William Roper:

William Roper:  So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More:  Yes!  What would you do?  Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper:  Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More:  Oh?  And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?  This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?  Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
And here and here is Law Professor Ann Althouse, plus this quote:
Looking around at some local Madison sites and at some less-local lefty sites, I see a scary love of prosecutorial aggression and overreach.  The slavering enthusiasm is so off-putting, so much at odds with the liberal values I believe in, that I feel pushed away onto the side of conservatives with whom I have little reason to affiliate.
What this all leads to is what Law Professor Glenn Reynolds talks about in his paper, Ham Sandwich Nation. Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Governor Scott Walker Gets Heat


For John, BLUFGov Walker is a threat.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is an article in the prestigious newspaper, the newspaper of record, The New York Times.  The Headline is "Wisconsin Governor at Center of a Vast Fund-Raising Case".  Here is the lede:
CHICAGO — Prosecutors in Wisconsin assert that Gov. Scott Walker was part of an elaborate effort to illegally coordinate fund-raising and spending between his campaign and conservative groups during efforts to recall him and several state senators two years ago, according to court filings unsealed Thursday.
So, is Governor Walker being indicted?

Or is this some sort of smear effort against a populist Governor?

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

New House Majority Leader Today


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



Today the Republicans in the House of Representatives vote on new leadership.  There are many factions and issues and lobbies with an interest in the outcome.  Here, from Politico and its "Morning Defense" Newsletter is an evaluation of the successor to Representative Eric Cantor as House Majority Leader from a Defense Sector point of view.  The author is Austin Wright with help from Trevor Eischen and Jeremy Herb:
WHO'S THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY ROOTING FOR IN TODAY'S HOUSE LEADERSHIP ELECTION(S)? Republicans are holding a closed-door vote today on a new house majority leader to succeed Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who was considered a major ally to the defense industry before his stunning GOP primary loss.  Republicans will also likely vote today on a new House majority whip - assuming Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the current whip, wins his race for majority leader.

The defense industry tends to favor establishment candidates, and McCarthy appears to be exactly that.  "Raul Labrador - nobody knows him," one defense lobbyist says of McCarthy's opponent, an Idaho congressman elected in 2010.  Still, "I wouldn't say McCarthy [has been as] actively engaged with us like Cantor was," the lobbyist explains, speaking on background.

As for the whip race, three Republicans are squaring off:  Reps. Peter Roskam of Illinois, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana. Of the three, Roskam has the deepest ties to the defense industry, the lobbyist tells us.  Scott Kamins, who served in the State Department in the second Bush administration and now runs a consulting shop with defense clients, agrees.

"Roskam may be somewhat better known in the defense community by virtue of his current role in House leadership and his focus on the U.S.-Israel security partnership through his co-chairmanship of the Israel Caucus," Kamins tells Morning D. "Mr. Roskam and Mr. Scalise both have strong records on defense and foreign policy issues."

And that is the view from just one direction.  Washington is a very complicated place.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Lost" Records


For John, BLUFSurveillance is pervasive.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Can anyone explain what is really going on here?  From ars technica we have this headline:  "Judge allows US Marshals’ seizure of stingray records, demises lawsuit:  What began as request for info on cell tracking records turns into surreal tale."

Is it just this Administration that is hiding records?  I doubt it, but there is the quip from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley:  “Barack Obama is really the President Richard Nixon always wanted to be.”

Regards  —  Cliff

  From Wikipedia, "A stingray is a controversial electronic surveillance device for remotely capturing data from mobile telephones."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Groovin' On A Sunday


For John, BLUFJust send money.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Lowell Republican City COmmittee (LRCC) is holding a get together and fund raiser this Sunday, as indicated below.  Please note that this is an event open to people of all flavors and views.

June 22, 2-6PM

LRCC Presents

Downtime: Groovin’ on a Sunday in June

Featuring Sierra, w/Ernie Woessner on keyboard

Fletcher Club

11 Brookside Rd, Westford, MA

Fletcher Club Web Page

Buffet, Cash Bar, Door Prizes

Suggested Donation:  $20/pp

Regards  —  Cliff

Watch Your Tongue Trademarks


For John, BLUFPC run amok (or can't I use that term because it may insult a Malay?).  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Per today's edition of The Washington Post, "U.S. patent office cancels Redskins trademark registration, says name is disparaging".  Being The Washington Post, it is filed under Local News.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The landmark case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans.  It was the second time such a case was filed.

So, there will be an appeal and then we will see.  The owner, Dan Snyder, seems to be digging his heals in.  Personally, I find the PC aspects of this to be on the abusive side.  On the other hand, the law is the law and providing Mr Snyder with excess profits through trademark protection is not a high priority for me.  Heck, if I could I would abolish the "Mickey Mouse" Copyright Extension Law.

Here is the bad news:

...Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University, said it’s possible the ruling could affect the view that league officials and owners of other NFL franchises have of the matter.  The sport’s revenue-sharing system gives them all a stake.
More bullying, just like with the Lakers owner.

Someone commented on the news that "it just means everyone else can use it too…", widening its use.  The Commenter concludes "Good going."

Frankly, I find this small potatoes.  The big deal is the use of "The Orangemen".  I find that very offensive and if you don't you are either Scottish, Dutch or ignorant.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Well, officially, the Copyright Term Extension Law, but also as "the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or (derisively) the Mickey Mouse Protection Act."  (Wikipedia)

The Story Becomes Less Credible


For John, BLUFDo Democrats really believe this stuff?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I have mentioned IRS lost EMails before.

Now it seems they have lost more that Ms Lois Lerner's EMails.  Here is the National Review article.

Given that one excuse being passed around is that the IRS didn't have the money to follow Federal law regarding EMails, maybe they didn't have the money for all employees to have their own computers and they were all using Lois' computer.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Capture of Benghazi Perp


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



"There is good news tonight."

From The Washington Post we have this item from The Boston Globe, with the Administration announcing the capture of the suspected ring leader of the 2012 attack on our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, in Benghazi, Libya.  "Suspect in Benghazi attack captured by US".

US commandos have captured the suspected ringleader of the attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the White House and Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Apprehension of the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is a major breakthrough in the 2 1/2-year investigation into the attack, which also killed three other Americans.  President Barack Obama vowed swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.  But efforts to identity and prosecute the attackers were stymied by the chaos of the event and the broader mayhem in Libya.

Now we have someone.  Thanks to the US Military and the FBI.  And, one suspects, thanks to Libyan General Khalifa Heftar, who has been trying to put Libya back on track, partly by suppressing extremists in Libya.

Along with the article on the capture, on their web page The Boston Globe provides a timeline for the Benghazi attack.  Without actually mentioning the Innocence of Muslims video the timeline suggests that religious intolerance is a factor in the attack.  Translating that into Common English, the item again throws the First Amendment under the bus.  Can the Main Stream Media not see the stepping stones to the loss of their own freedom?

Regards  —  Cliff

  The article says US Commandos, which is a term the US doesn't use.  My wife heard US SEALs.  Wikipedia says the US Army's Delta Force.

"Costly errors give new hope to al-Qaeda"


For John, BLUFCan anyone do lessons learned?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In today's edition of Philadelphia Inquirer is an OpEd on Iraq by Army Veteran John Nagl, who is currently the Headmaster of Haverford School in Philadelphia.  He is the co-author author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam.  He helped write the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual and is the author of the forthcoming Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War.

At any rate, Dr John Nagl knows his Counterinsurgency.  In this OpEd we get a look at what we did or didn't do in Iraq from 2003 on.  The lede and second paragraph:

The dissolution of Iraq is the entirely predictable result of a series of bad American decisions compounded by Iraqi government mistakes.  The result is a disaster for the Iraqi and American people and a gift to radical Islamists worldwide.  Correcting the mistakes will be enormously costly in blood and treasure and will take decades to repair.

The initial and most costly mistake was the decision to invade Iraq in the first place on the misguided belief that Saddam Hussein had a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.  Ignoring the history of deterrence, through which states choose not to use these weapons against other states for fear of reprisal, post-9/11 hysteria drove an illogical and destabilizing decision to upset the balance of power in the Middle East with no plan to police the inevitable chaos that followed the invasion.

But, the author says there is plenty of blame to go around, and a warning that we should try to avoid a similar situation in Afghanistan.

Regards  —  Cliff

  You would think a book like this, published in 2005, would be available in a Kindle Version.  It isn't.  The Army/Marine Corps Field Manual is on Kindle.  Knife Fighters, due out in October, is already advertised as available in a Kindle version.

The Never Ending Story (IRS Version)


For John, BLUFThe IRS "Non-Scandal" just goes on and on.  I blame the lawyers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The reported loss of the EMails of former IRS employee Lois Lerner has prompted action by lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who represents True the Vote.  She has sent a letter to the attorneys at the Department of Justice representing the IRS in True the Vote’s pending lawsuit.  And, she also addressed Ms Brigida Benitez, partner in the firm Steptoe & Johnson, who represents the IRS defendants who are sued in their individual capacity.  This issue of Lois Lerner is not yet over, notwithstanding the assertions of various supporters of the Administration.
RE: TTV v. IRS et al, 1:13-cv-00734 (D.D.C.), Litigation Hold – Preservation of Responsive Evidence

Dear Counsel:

As you know, True the Vote (“TTV”) filed its lawsuit in the above-referenced matter on May 21, 2013.  By the time TTV filed its suit, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and its employees and officials were on notice of the commencement of several congressional investigations.  The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (“Oversight”), the House Committee on Ways and Means (“Ways and Means”) and the Senate Finance Committee (“Senate Finance”) (collectively, “the Committees”) have each provided notice to the IRS of their ongoing investigations into the IRS, and specifically, Defendant Lois Lerner and her activities related to the issues involved in the TTV litigation for over a year now.

Late Friday, the IRS apparently advised the Ways & Means Committee that the IRS has “lost” Lois Lerner’s hard drive which includes thousands of Defendant Lerner’s e-mail records.  However, several statutes and regulations require that the records be accessible by the Committees, and, in turn, must be preserved and made available to TTV in the event of discovery in the pending litigation.  Those statutes include the Federal Records Act, Internal Revenue Manual section 1.15.6.6 (which refers to the IRS’s preservation of electronic mail messages), IRS Document 12829 (General Records Schedule 23, Records Common to Most Offices, Item 5 Schedule of Daily Activities), 36 C.F.R. 1230 (reporting accidental destruction,) and 36 CFR 1222.12.  Under those records retention regulations, and the Federal Records Act generally, the IRS is required to preserve emails or otherwise contemporaneously transmit records for preservation.

And so it goes for many paragraphs, in language only a lawyer would like.  You can read the whole thing at this Powerline blog post.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Funnily enough, on Wikipedia "Lois Lerner" goes to a page titled "2013 IRS controversy".  This has not been recently updated, as it does not mention the "loss" of EMails to and from Ms Lois Lerner.

Our Divided Nation


For John, BLUFLet us not make partisanship worse than it is.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The PEW Trust released a new report on the "Political Polarization in the American Public".  This report, which is pretty interesting, is commented on by New York Times Opinionator Charles M Blow, here.  My Middle Brother, Lance, forwarded it to my other Brother and to me.  Of course I responded.

When he gets past the data and moves to speculation Mr Blow starts with:

The phenomenon, more recently, is epitomized by views about President Obama, which, depending on which silo one is in, either read as blind allegiance or blind hatred.  This robs him of the glory of his legitimate achievements and artificially shields his missteps.
I think this is just encouraging the bifurcation that Mr Blow is bothered by.  For one thing, the use of "hatred" just seems well over the top.  I may agree with Professor Jonathan Turley, who said "Well, I think that ... Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be."  That does not mean I "hate" President Obama.  And, Mr Blow never lists the achievements and missteps.  A bad paragraph.

But, it leads to the following assertion, which shows that Mr Blow doesn't understand that the duty of the opposition is to oppose.

…the incredible assertion by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, that conservatives’ top priority should be to keep Obama from being re-elected…
This would be unlike the idea that "W" should not be reelected (or for the real partisans, elected the first time)?  Just weak.

Then we have this:

For instance, people cannot be treated differently because of the way they were born, developed or identify; women must have access to the full range of reproductive options; and something must be done about the continued carnage of gun violence in this country.
Give me a break.  If you develop as a crook we are going to treat you like a crook.  As for "full range of reproductive options" does that mean we go with Prof Peter Singer's idea that the human fetus can live outside the womb for a long time before it is viable on its own and thus does not have a right to life?  Based on my grandchildren I would say 22-24 weeks gestation and they should start to get protection.  The last item in the sentence paragraph is just anti-Bill of Rights rubbish.  Let him propose a new Second Amendment.  What would it look like?  Would it include my demand, which is that if citizens give up the right to firearms that the police should do likewise?  Remember, when the threat is just seconds away, the police are only minutes away.  Just saying.

I don't totally disagree with Mr Blow.  He writes:

There are other areas, however — the continued existence of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, the use of drones, government surveillance — that require critical, nonpartisan examination, regardless of who is in charge, in part because many of these policies overlap Republican and Democratic administrations.
Sure, I would close GITMO in a heart beat and put folks in POWS camps in the US or send home.  Drones are just airplanes, so I am not hot about them one way or the other.  On the other hand, drones in the US would be a very bad idea.  Sure, Government Surveillance needs to be curtailed.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, June 16, 2014

Men of Harlech


For John, BLUFJust because of ancestry.  I was born in Cambria County.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Royal Regiment of Wales' Band singing "Men of Harlech".

They are singing using the John Guard lyrics, in the church at Rorke's Drift, South Africa on the 120th anniversary of the Battle of Rorke's Drift.

Turns out there are many different lyrics, including some in German.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Depicted in the 1964 movie Zulu, but with a different version of the song.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day


For John, BLUFHappy Grandfather's Day to you John.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I got a T-Shirt from my oldest Granddaughter.

Later today Martha and I are going out to Stony Brook Fish and Game Association, 128 Lowell Road, Westford, Mass, where they are having their Annual Father's Day Clam and Lobster Spectacular.

This is not just for the members of the Stony Brook Fish and Game Association, but for the public.  That is to say, "Come one, come all".  And it isn't just clams and lobsters (although today is National Lobster Day), but also steak, hot dogs and hamburgers.

There is a cash bar and there will be raffles.

If you seek more information you can call (978) 692-7062.

UPDATE:  Yes, we did go out to Stony Brook Fish and Game and it was a lovely ride out and back.  And it was a big deal party, with lots of people and fun and games and food.  We got to watch the egg toss, which attracted at least 50 participants, until the eggs started cracking and the pool of players shrank.  A wonderful crowd and good food.  And not expensive.  Strongly recommended for next year.

Regards  —  Cliff

Understanding the Number Regarding Rape


For John, BLUFPeople need to learn how to deal with numbers and especially numbers as statistics.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



My computer software provided dictionary defines innumeracy as "without a basic knowledge of mathematics and arithmetic."  Actually we see a lot of it around.

Here is OpEd Writer George Will answering four US Senators who jumped down his throat for an OpEd that said Administration Statistics don't add up and the policy flowing from a bad understanding of the statistics is only going to make matters worse.

Rape is bad.  Campus rape is bad.  Campus rape should be handled by the local police.  Campuses trying to deal with rape are finding themselves in over their heads and are now being sued by accused who believe their civil rights have been violated (and in many cases they have).  Sued for real money.  The result is that just is not done, expensive programs of mitigation are driving up the cost of education and the lawsuit payouts are driving up the cost of education.  And the fundamental problem may or may not be getting getter.

UPDATE:  The accused are pushing back, as this list shows.  Via the Instapundit.

In the mean time the major rape problem in the United States, prison rape, is I G N O R E D.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Computer Problems at IRS


For John, BLUFSend Ms Lois Lerner to where we sent I Lewis Libby.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



We talked about this yesterday.  The IRS has lost a bunch of Ms Lois Lerner's EMails.

Today we have a short and not very informative article in The Boston Globe, "E-mails sought in IRS probe lost, agency says".  This happened years ago, but only on Friday was it announced.  Here is a possible reason they are really gone:

The IRS explains in the letter that it has not always backed up all employee emails due to the cost the agency would incur for allowing 90,000 employees to store their information on the IRS’s internal system.

Currently, IRS employees have the capacity to store about 6,000 emails in their active Outlook email boxes, which are saved on the IRS centralized network. But the letter and background document sent to the Hill Friday said they could only store about 1,800 emails in their active folders prior to July 2011.

When their inboxes were full, IRS employees had to make room by either deleting emails or archiving them on their personal computers. Archived data were not stored by the IRS but by the individual.

Such archived emails on Lerner’s computer were what were lost when her computer crashed.

“Any of Ms. Lerner’s email that was only stored on that computer’s hard drive would have been lost when the hard drive crashed and could not be recovered,” the letter reads.

This is The Politico, not The Boston Globe. So, while this description seems plausible, if accepted it requires an indictment of IRS management for exempting itself from the rules that apply to the rest of us.  Indictment, as into the legal hopper.  Issues of public integrity.  Is that what the DOJ Public Integrity Section is for?  Wasn't current Attorney General Eric Holder an attorney in the Public Integrity Section for his first twelve years as a lawyer?

However, not everyone wants to see this overall issue fall into the Public Integrity Section of DOJ.  Law Professor Ann Althouse wants a Special Prosecutor

For decades the received wisdom has been it's not the crime, it's the coverup. And here we see evidence of a coverup. What kind of crime must there be that after all these years of warnings that it's the coverup that will get you, we've got a glaring, egregious coverup?!
Her BOLD, not mine.  Even if this was just a mistake, we need someone outside the circle to look into it and agree.  Someone "independent".

Here are some comments at the Althouse Blog:

At 0904 John Henry noted:
Forget just now who it was but a Congressman or Senator said that NSA should provide the metadata.

At 0909 Meade asked:
Can we hire Edward Snowden to find the missing emails?

At 00921 Tom Gallagher says:
It's nice to know the people who manage these bureaucracies will be looking after our health care.

To that last comment, I would note that this IRS EMail situation is just like the VA scheduling situation.  It is Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition (FUBAR).  That is one reason why concentrations of power is so dangerous.  The other reason, of course is malicious people doing malicious things (There is "Hanlon's Razor, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity").

Is there some third explanation here, which is neither malice nor stupidity?

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, June 13, 2014

IRS Loses The Documents


For John, BLUFFriday bad news dump by Administration, buried in a letter.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



It is Friday the 13th, so i guess this is no surprise.  A new record!  Ms Rose Mary Woods managed to lose 18 minutes of a tape transcription.  The IRS has lost two years of EMails.

This is from a Press Release from the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Washington, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011.  Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame.  The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.
As I said, it is Friday the 13th.  That said, don't YOU try this.  It would cost you, big time.

Regards  —  Cliff

US Policy Toward Iraq (and Beyond)


For John, BLUFWhen there are not good options it is sometimes best to do nothing until things clarify.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Michael Totten, writing at World Affairs Journal, predicts:
Still, it’s only a matter of time before we get sucked in kicking and screaming one way or another. Because the Middle East isn’t Las Vegas. What happens there doesn’t stay there.
The red highlighting is from someone I know, who went on to ask "Should the United States become militarily reinvolved in Iraq, and if so, why, where, when, how, with what forces and resources?"  This person then went on to give a short summary of the problem faced.
Carl von Clausewitz said it best in his classic On War: “Everything…is very simple, but that does not mean that everything is very easy.” Chess, for example, is child’s play in comparison, because games within games plague most of the Middle East and all are related. Every game is played simultaneously on the same regional board. There is no limit to the number of players, who may participate singly or form teams, but who is on which side often is ambiguous. No two players start with pieces of the same quantities and qualities. Every player places different values on his own pieces compared with those of opponents, partners, and neutrals. Whole piles of pieces, not just one at a time, shift suddenly in any direction at competing commanders’ whims, without regard for mutually agreeable rules. Players, pieces, values, and rules are subject to unannounced change. The main aim of the game is to match realistic ends with measured means, minimizing risks in the process.
OK, there is the challenge.  Before you read further, pause and ask yourself what YOU would recommend to the President of the United States with regard to Iraq.  Got you strategic advice in mind?  Here is mine:
This is the 100th year of the Great War, which has mostly been settled in Western and Central Europe, but not necessarily Eastern Europe and the Levant.  There have been several efforts at sorting out the demise of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, and none has been final.

Our ability to kill people and break things is not in doubt.  Nor should be our ability to quickly concentrate forces.  We are second to none.  The question is, who do we support and what will we get for it.  The chart from Think Progress, which I will blog later today, shows how complicated the relationships are.

Our interests are keeping Jihadist terrorism away from our doorstep, ensuring the survival of Israel, keeping Turkey secular, keeping oil flowing and keeping the Suez open.  A lot of this is diplomatic heavy lifting.

I think the President is correct to do little (ISR, logistics support and Special Forces aside) at this point.  I think Nir Rosen is right to say that as ISIL approaches Baghdad the Shiite Iraqis will stiffen up and prevent their area being overrun.  Our job is one of support.

The sorting out ongoing might well give us a more stable overall area.

Muddling through isn't always the worst option.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.  Think drones and U-2s and spooks.

The IRS and "The Right"


For John, BLUFJustice sometimes comes very slowly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Today, Friday, the 13th of June, will be Day 400 in the IRS Scandal.  Look here for some comments from the blog of The Tax Prof.  That would be Professor Paul L. Caron of Pepperdine University School of Law.

UPDATE:  Day 400 Post. Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, June 12, 2014

President to "Act" on Immigration?


For John, BLUFThe reason there is a Tea Party is the US Constitution.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Las Vegas Sun there was, back in May, this article on Senate Harry Reid talking about immigration reform, "Reid:  President justified to act on immigration reform if Congress doesn’t".  In the article is this paragraph:
If nothing happens before Aug. 1, the president would be justified in taking executive action to institute reforms, Reid said, reiterating a “deadline” set last week by Democratic lawmakers and others pushing for reform.
Frankly, if the President has the authority under the Constitution to take action on immigration and he has not done so already, it represents a serious neglect of his duties as President.  The idea that on 1 August he will be suddenly empowered due to Congressional inaction indicates a major lack of understanding of our system of Government and a major Executive Branch power grab.

Frankly, I am embarrassed for the Democrats in the US Senate who have so little respect for their own institution that they would continuously cede power to the President.

Regards  —  Cliff

Problems in Iraq


For John, BLUFThe price of oil is going to go up.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



We have ourselves a bit of a mess in the Middle East.  Syria is in turmoil and now the ISIL has taken several town in Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit.  There is a report of beheadings in the wake of the ISIL advance.

Here is an overall report from The Economist.

From the web Magazine War on the Rocks we have this insight:

First, ISIS’ expansion and rejection of Al Qaeda’s central leadership represents a new evolution in jihadi extremism.  The near-extinction of Al Qaeda’s core—the organization constructed by Osama bin Laden and now led by Ayman al-Zawahiri—has created space for new and more extreme forms of jihadi militancy. In 1999, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi challenged Osama bin Laden’s ideological direction because he considered Al Qaeda too accommodating to Shia Muslims.  Fifteen years later, Zarqawi’s ideological and organizational descendants have the power to confront Al Qaeda’s leadership more thoroughly.  At the core of Zarqawi’s ideology were two ideas:  that commanders close to battle had ultimate political authority and that purity in the movement was paramount.  In its interaction with Al Qaeda, ISIS embodies both ideas and, not surprisingly, has quite famously been expelled from Al Qaeda, ostensibly for insubordination, but perhaps also for acting like the sovereign state that is has de facto become.
There is the question of where the ISIL reaches its culminating point.  If it isn't until Baghdad then we will have some serious issues.  What will be the position of the United States if Baghdad is under threat?

For those who wonder who is behind the ISIL, they are on their own.  There appears to be no evidence of state funding.  It seems to be private money, looted stuff from Syria, revenues from kidnappings and perhaps some oil revenues.

There is some irony here.  Many condemned President George W Bush (read all Republicans) for "fighting wars for oil" and then they turn around and fight domestic US drilling and pipelines.  If these folks want to reduce energy consumption, they should just come out and say it.  Why dance around it with this or that effort to curtail the source of energy without up front adjustments in the culture.

I end by hoping for good luck for the Iraqis who seek freedom and fight the tyranny of ISIL.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Sometimes called the ISIS.  From somewhere I found the following:  The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (sometimes translated "Syria" instead of "Levant") (Arabic: الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام‎ ad-Dawlat al-Islāmiyya fī’l-‘Irāq wa’sh-Shām), abbreviated as ISIL or ISIS, is an active militant group in Iraq and Syria.  In its unrecognized self-proclaimed status as an independent state it claims the territory of Iraq and Syria, with implied future claims intended over more of the Levant (e.g. Lebanon).  It was established in the early years of the Iraq War and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004.  In February 2014, after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties to ISIL.

Restricting FOI Requests


For John, BLUFDon't get on the Government's bad side.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I am quoting the Instapundit:
THE WISCONSIN JUDICIAL SYSTEM HASN’T EXACTLY COVERED ITSELF WITH GLORY LATELY:  Wisconsin Court Broadens FOI Exception, Allowing Government Agencies To Deny Requests Based On Perceived Motive.  Call me overly suspicious, but I suspect there’s a lot of stuff the Deep State in Wisconsin, fresh from its shady assault on Republican donors, wants to keep buttoned up, and this is just an excuse to start on that.
Well, Professor Reynolds is indeed suspicious and this case, involving a shady character, seems to come very close to and fly in formation with existing law, but I too am concerned.  Freedom of Information is for everyone, or at least should be.  And Courts need to be siding with the People, against the Bureaucrats.

Regards  —  Cliff