Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Can We Get An Honest Look At Illegal Immigration?


For John, BLUFUntil we understand the root cause we can't fix this problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The State House News Service, Reporter Andy Metzger gives us a look an MSNBC debate between former U.S. Senator Mo Cowan and State Rep. Marc Lombardo that touches on the issue of the Commonwealth absorbing some of the 53,000 or so border-crossing children.

Frankly, the debate continues to be superficial.

The fundamental question is, why are these children risking their lives to come to the United States?

  • If this is a narrow issue, then perhaps we can absorb these children as refugees and make them part of the United States.
  • If this is a major (and systemic) problem in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, as The [Lowell] Sun article suggests, then the problem requires a totally different response.  Looking at possible options:
    • The situation in those three countries, drug cartels, corrupt governments, lawlessness, require our intervention, under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.  We need to go in and displace those Governments (or strengthen them against criminal forces).  We will be landing the Marines.
    • The situation is so bad that people should not be forced to live under such criminal conditions, but we don't see it as our place to intervene, so we need to provide refuge to all who want it, even if they are merely economic refugees.  We need to provide ships and aircraft to evacuate to these shores some 27 million men, women and children (assuming some 10% of the population is criminal and shouldn't be admitted to the US.
    • We could decide this is a problem so big we not only don't wish to cope with it, but we can't.  Thus, we need to close the border and prevent any more refugees.  This is a case of realizing that the problem is bigger than we can cope with and we owe it to our Citizens to not be involved.  If Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us anything it should be that we can't solve all the world's problems.
Leadership on Beacon Hill or in DC needs to give us an honest appreciation of the situation.  Then we can talk about solutions.

Once we see the size of the problem we need to talk about cost.  With 3142 Counties (or County like entities) in the United States, some 53,000 children can be apportioned out with 17 children per county.  That should be easy enough to absorb, at least locally.  However, that 17 goes up as the number of border crossers go up.  Thus the importance of scoping the problem, as discussed above.  What is the plan out of the Administration?

Who pays is an important issue.

  • For our Governor to pass it off as a Federal issue is disingenuous.
  • The Federal Government does not provide free money to the States, just as our Commonwealth doesn't provide free money to cities and towns.  It all represents taxes paid by tax payers.
  • Unlike our Commonwealth, the Federal Government can fund some things by printing money, but that is a tax on the future.
  • When children come and stay (they are going to say, not just hover around for four months, as some suggest), they cost governments money and if adequate funds are not shared across political entities, some areas get hit harder than others.  If all of Middlesex County's 17 children come to Lowell, and there is not Federal or State support, that is a direct tax on the tax paying Residents of Lowell.
  • If a million children show up, that is 318 per County, or a dozen or so classrooms that have to be added.  We need to avoid letting politicians tell us that it is just a few children per community.  It is an increased burden and it is not a cheap burden.  Most of those children will not be speaking english and some will have medical or developmental problems.  Solutions will not come cheap.
Let us not kid ourselves about our moral obligations here.  If children have made it into the United States, we, the People of the United States, are morally obligated to look after them, to include feeding, clothing, housing and schooling them, until they are returned home or they are assimilated into our nation.  This is no small burden, but it is also not one we can shirk.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Overkill in Court


For John, BLUFCitizens need to be alert to over zealous prosecutors.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Sometimes I am not sure what is driving Lowell Sun OpEd writer Peter Lucas.  Today's offering is "U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz failed to catch the big fish".  OK, so that is the headline, written by a headline writer, whose job it is to reel us in.  For a headline writer there need be no real relationship to the story, or ground truth, as long as it reels us in.

But, on to the story.  Mr Lucas does make the point that Federal Attorney Carmen Ortiz was going after, or at least appeared to be going after, the Speaker of the House in the General Court, Mr Robert DeLeo.  In that she has, so far, failed.  However, she may still try to turn one of the convicted, former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien and his two deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, between now and their sentencing.

Mr Lucas does take some time to talk about Mr Ortiz's use of the RICO statute to go after the three.

What should also concern people is that the three former Probation Department officials were charged and convicted under the draconian RICO statute.  RICO is the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

It was passed in 1970 to go after the Mafia and drug kingpins, as well as the crimes of murder, arson, bribery, gambling, prostitution, extortion, counterfeiting, terrorism and kidnapping.

Over the years, it has been expanded to include street gangs, corrupt police departments, drug cartels and white-collar crimes, such as mail, wire and securities fraud.

Defendants convicted of several counts of mail fraud, racketeering and conspiracy under RICO, as these three are, face up to 20 years in federal prison on each count, as well as fines up to $250,000.

The RICO statute was supposed to be narrowly frame and used to go after criminal enterprises.  However, like many laws passed by Congress, it has grown well outside its original purpose.  For example, it has been used to go after Pro-Life groups, although that was some time in the past.  But, still, someone had to go to court and get the case thrown out.  Brings to mind the paper, Ham Sandwich Nation:  Due Process When Everything Is a Crime.

So, to sum up, here is what I think Mr Lucas was trying to say.  Ms Ortiz went after Mr DeLeo, and failed.  She used the RICO statute (a shot gun) to do what should be have been a simple corruption case (fly swatter needed).  Patronage is not illegal.  Taxpayer money was wasted by General Court patronage and corruption, but it was also wasted by Ms Ortiz in this trial.  It is time to fix RICO.  It is time to rein in Prosecutors.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Of course we could ask why Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley was sitting on the sidelines.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Are we going to Abilene?


For John, BLUFCongress needs to start doing its job again and stop passing rules for execution, as opposed to actual execution, to the bureaucrats of the Administration.  They are becoming almost a Fifth Estate.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This starts at a Federal Courthouse in DC, where the DC Circuit ruled that Federal Subsidies for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are illegal.

Then we move to The Instapundit,

TYLER COWEN:  The Real Import Of The Gruber Fracas.  I like this from the comments:  “All I can say is, if you’re going to pass a law with zero bipartisan support, you should be very careful in the drafting, since they aren’t likely to help you out if you muck it up.  In this case, haste and arrogance is biting them in the ass.”
(A little crass, but true.)

But them this moves to the blog Marginal Revolution, where Mr Tyler Cowen talks to "The real import of the Jon Gruber fracas".  Ah, Professor Jonathan Gruber of MIT and his quotes about Federal vs State Healthcare Exchanges.  From the Marginal Revolution blog post:

It would be much easier if (some) people would simply say “Of course this normally should be kicked back into the legislature for clarification.  But I don’t want to do that because I don’t regard Republican control of the House, and how that control is used, as a legitimate form of rule.”  One may agree, or not, but the nature of the case is pretty clear.

Instead we read irrelevant blog posts and tweets about how the experts meant to have subsidies at all levels all along.  Of course they did.  But did Congress know what it was doing in a detailed sense, one way or another?  Hard to say, personally I doubt it, and Alex says no.  The basic starter hypothesis here is that many of them knew this was a health care bill, it would extend coverage, it had a mandate, it had some subsidies, it had a Medicaid expansion, it had some complicated cost control, it was approved by leading Democratic Party experts, it met some CBO standards, and beyond that — if you pull out those who were confused on the details of the exchanges and the subsidies do you still have majority support?  I doubt it.  Most absurd of all are the tweets asking the critics to show Congress intended no federal-level subsidies.

Regarding the line "But did Congress know what it was doing in a detailed sense…", this is a key issue.  Are we going to have rule by representative government or by bureaucratic experts?  This leads to Arrows Theorem.

An easier explanation can be found here, where Wikipedia explains how the family ended up on the road to Abilene, when no one really wanted to go there.  Here is a video explaining the theory.

I am not saying Congress was on the road to Abilene with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but with regard to details they were.  They didn't have the time to argue through a lot of the details.  Frankly, it was all Scott Brown's fault.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Fourth Circuit went the other way, as noted in the article, so a battle is teed up for the US Supreme Court.
  City Life host George Anthes prefers ObamaCare.  I would go with Reid/Pelosi Care.
  Well, if you are a Registered Democrat, or a fellow traveler, you should blame Attorney Martha Coakley.

Transparency in Government


For John, BLUFWell, it seemed a good idea in 2008.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This is disappointing.

Per Washington Examiner Reporter Sean Higgins, "Eleanor Holmes Norton says 'you don't have a right to know' what's going on in government".

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, angrily sputtered during a congressional hearing Friday that the White House should not be held up to scrutiny, saying that there was no right to know what it was doing behind closed doors.
Goose/Gander thing I guess.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Impeachment


For John, BLUFWhite House asking for President to be Impeached?  Sounds like it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I think the White House is more serious about this than the House of Representatives, which is the House that actually does Impeachment.  Any trial is held in the US Senate.

It isn't like the White House isn't out there flouting the separation of powers; the President's "Pen and Phone" is an example, and the IRS changing the Congressionally passed rules for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PP&ACA) is another.

Here is the article from The Hill, by Reporter Rebecca Shabad.  This last Friday White House spokesman Josh Earnest was working the crowd with this talk of Presidential Impeachment.  He was talking about it as though there was a vast right wing conspiracy to get the President, or at least raise money off of saying they would get him.

Earnest was asked to identify who those Republicans are, and he only mentioned Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, but added there’s “no doubt” there are other voices also calling for impeachment.

Earnest also acknowledged that impeachment calls are being tied to fundraising.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters Friday that the White House is taking calls for impeachment more seriously.

Much as I like Governor Sarah Palin, she is going nowhere at this time.  She is important for stirring up the base, but she isn't running for anything in 2014 and is unlikely to run for anything in 2016.  Now I would take her over the Big E any day of the week, but there is not a strong base of support amongst Republicans and Democrats have less respect for her as a woman than they do for Senator Clinton.

As for Whie House Senior Advisor, Mr Dan Pfeiffer, I am not sure what he means by "...taking calls for impeachment more seriously."  Can we put it on a scale of 0 to 9?  Last month it was a 4 and today it is a … 7?, 8?, 9?  Who knows?  I suspect even Mr Pfeiffer doesn't know.

A Bill of Impeachment would be a gift to the Democrats running for office this year?  By 2016 it would be old news.  This isn't to say there are not Republicans willing to talk about Impeachment, but I doubt House Speaker John Boenher would entertain such an action before Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid came to his office and suggested the time had come.  Possible, but not likely.

Or is this a case of the White House wanting to talk about anything except illegal immigration?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Article I, Section 2, Clause 5, Section 2.
  One wonders, if he has this authority now, why didn't he have it in early 2009 and why did he not use it to fix things that were broken then.  Was he negligent in not using this authority, assuming it existed all along.  Or is the House Speaker correct in saying the Federal Courts ought to weigh in on this?
  Which should be known as Reid/Pelosi Care, since they are the ones who rammed it through Congress without a good once-over.

Reform of Asset Forfeiture Proposed


For John, BLUFAs me about the Mother-in-Law and Sports Car joke.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



As Washington Post Reporter Radley Balko says, "This is a pretty big deal."  US Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced legislation to reform Asset Forfeiture.  Asset Forfeiture is where if the folks who owned the house before you did were thought to have been cooking Meth in the basement, the Government can seize your house.  Or if you are going on vacation and have $2,000 in cash in the back seat of your car, the police can decide it is drug money and seize it.  Your recourse is to go to court.

From the story:

Sen. Rand Paul yesterday introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law. Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner. In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.
Senator Rand Paul, looking out for the little guy.  And minorities should pay attention.

Good luck Senator Paul.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Judge With Common Sense


For John, BLUFAt the end of the day Judges need to be free to make a reasonable call.  If they can't think then they should be removed.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Sometimes Judges do things we don't like.  Here is a Judge making, IMHO, the proper decision.  Remember that we have so multiplied the laws that it is easy to be "in violation".  When a bad thing happens it is good to prosecute, such as having an illegal gun, which is a year in goal here in Massachusetts, if the DA doesn't plead it down and the Judge is steady.

This case, explained by blogger Eugene Volokh, here, is a different story.  The police were acting like they had a quota.  And the case of Mr Clayton Baltzer, cited, was just pathetic.  Sometimes the DA should use his or her discretion, especially if the police fail to.  Carrying an illegal gun is not one of them.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Illegal Immigration


For John, BLUFWhere did all those people come from?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



If you want to see what unrestrained illegal immigration looks like, go shopping at the Hannafords on Rogers Street in Lowell this afternoon.

A normally tranquil grocery with a couple of checkout lines, it was a madhouse.  All the checkout lines were in use, as well as the "help desk" at the north end of the front of the store.  They are restocking as they went.  I saw a skid of frozen ice cream in the middle of an aisle.  I picked up the small bottles of Caffeine Free Diet Coke right from the guy restocking the shelves, who had just arrived in the soda aisle.

Because there so many "foreigners", there were maps at the store entrance, explaining the store.  And, people in red Hannaford T-Shirts walking around answering question—and they were busy.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Market Basket thing is a mess, and that forcing Author T out was a mistake.  And that is from the effectiveness and long term profitability angle, not even counting all the good that Artie T has done for this and other communities.  On the other hand, there are lots of ways this Market Basket shoot-out can go and many of those are not good ways.

By the way, if anyone knows where the Sorbet is, please leave a comment.  No joy on the Sorbet during my trip through the store this afternoon.  And I had a guy in a red T-Shirt helping me.  Everything else was right where it was supposed to be.

Regards  —  Cliff

Missing Light in the Universe


For John, BLUFOne suspects there is a lot we don't know about science, but think we do.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From that font of knowledge for those interested in science but without the time to read the scientific journals, there is a Popular Mechanics article about missing light in the universe.  The article is "PM/AM: The Universe is Missing Light—A Lot of It" and the authors are Ms Kathryn Free and Mr Darren Orf

Because nothing travels faster than the speed of light, and some light is missing, this article has taken from the 11th of July of this year to get to this blog post.

Here is the link to the Press Release from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Here is an extract from the Press Release:

Something is amiss in the universe.  There appears to be an enormous deficit of ultraviolet light in the cosmic budget.

Observations made by the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, a $70 million instrument designed by the University of Colorado Boulder and installed on the Hubble Space Telescope, have revealed that the universe is “missing” a large amount of light.

“It’s as if you’re in a big, brightly lit room, but you look around and see only a few 40-watt lightbulbs,” said the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Juna Kollmeier, lead author of a new study on the missing light published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.  “Where is all that light coming from? It’s missing from our census.”

The research team—which includes Benjamin Oppenheimer and Charles Danforth of CU-Boulder’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy—analyzed the tendrils of hydrogen that bridge the vast reaches of empty space between galaxies.  When hydrogen atoms are struck by highly energetic ultraviolet light, they are transformed from electrically neutral atoms to charged ions.

The astronomers were surprised when they found far more hydrogen ions than could be explained with the known ultraviolet light in the universe, which comes primarily from quasars.  The difference is a stunning 400 percent.

Strangely, this mismatch only appears in the nearby, relatively well-studied cosmos.  When telescopes focus on galaxies billions of light years away—which shows astronomers what was happening when the universe was young—everything seems to add up.  The fact that the accounting of light needed to ionize hydrogen works in the early universe but falls apart locally has scientists puzzled.

Ah, yes, where is all that light?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

New Voting Locations in Lowell


For John, BLUFSometimes Government does listen.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Yes, we have a Press Release from the Lowell Election Commission.  The subject is the listing of the new polling locations.
LOWELL, MA (July 25, 2014) On Thursday, July 24, 2014 the City of Lowell Election Commission voted to relocate eleven of the City’s twenty polling locations.  These changes will ensure that polling locations are handicap accessible and compliant with state regulations.  The City of Lowell Election Commission collaborated with the City of Lowell Disability Commission, neighborhood leaders and community organizations to provide the best possible polling locations for the voters of Lowell.  The Election Commission will continue to make improvements to polling locations to guarantee student safety, equal accessibility and increased voter participation.

The City of Lowell Election Commission would like to thank our new community partners including Lowell Housing Authority, Lowell Telecommunications, D’Youville Life and Wellness Community and the Iglesia Cristiana De Rstrcn Church.

All residents’ impacts these changes will be notified by mail prior to Election Day.  Below is an updated list of all polling locations throughout the City of Lowell.

This is local government the way it should be.  The People spoke up, the rules were reviewed and action was taken in an open meeting.

Regards  —  Cliff

WardPrecinctLocationAddress
11Father Norton Manor, Lowell Housing Authority137 High Street
12Reilly School115 Douglas Road
13 Reilly School115 Douglas Road
21Pollard Memorial Library401 Merrimack Street
22Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC)246 Market Street
23Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC)246 Market Street
31Bailey School175 Campbell Drive
32Bailey School175 Campbell Drive
33Morey School114 Pine Street
41Morey School114 Pine Street
42Flanagan Development, Lowell Housing Authority580 Chelmsford Street
43Rogers School43 Highland Street
51McAvinnue School117 Mammoth Road
52Fr. Morrissette Manor, Lowell Housing Authority111 Hildreth Street
53Greenhalge School149 Ennell Street
61McAvinnue School117 Mammoth Road
62Bruyere Gardens at D'Youville975 Varnum Avenue
63Bruyere Gardens at D'Youville975 Varnum Avenue
71Senior Center276 Broadway Street
72Senior Center276 Broadway Street
73Senior Center276 Broadway Street
81City of Lowell Health Department341 Pine Street
82James Daley School150 Fleming Street
83James Daley School150 Fleming Street
91Fr. Morrissette Manor, Lowell Housing Authority111 Hildreth Street
92Robinson School110 June Street
93Robinson School110 June Street
101Iglesia Cristiana De Rstrcn Church53 Blossom Street
102Faulkner Street Apartments, Lowell Housing AuthorityFaulkner Street
103St. Anthony's Parish Hall920 Central Street
111Shaughnessy School1170 Gorham Street
112J.G. Pyne School145 Boylston Street
113J.G. Pyne School145 Boylston Street

Friday, July 25, 2014

Drudge Changed Everything


For John, BLUFI think Matt Drudge gave small voices a bigger megaphone.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Well, InfoWars, from Mr Alex Jones, doesn't have the gravitas of The Old Grey Lady, but he may be on to something with his piece, "How Matt Drudge Changed the World".  His sub-headline is "A monumental sea change challenging the global elite and corporate media".  His lede is typically provocative:
The establishment’s iron-fisted grip on media and information dissemination was irrevocably transformed when Matt Drudge launched his website in 1995.
Regards  —  Cliff

Reporter Tom Ricks Drifting in His Own Pool


For John, BLUFSome write to provoke.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At an Althouse blog post Thursday morning was a comment on the article by Reporter Tom Ricks, headlined "Why Am I Moving Left".  The sub-headline was "I used to be right down the middle.  But America’s changed, and so have I."  The venue for publication was Politico.

The Ricks lede:

In my late 50s, at a time of life when most people are supposed to be drifting into a cautious conservatism, I am surprised to find myself moving steadily leftward.
Frankly, I think it is just Tom Ricks playing the contrarian card, to see what will happen.

In the comments at the Althouse post was this little jewel:

Blogger john said…
Before national elections NPR always sends their intrepid reporter up to a small town in New Hampshire where she finds a group of "staunch republican" women who nonetheless will vote democrat this time because of the vile rightward shift of the GOP.

I look forward to those news broadcasts in the fall.  When I hear them I know Christmas is coming soon.

7/24/14, 12:23 PM

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Obama vs. Romney on Russia


For John, BLUFThis is a test.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This is really a test for me to see if I can embed a video.  For you it is a chance to relive history as we contemplate an emergency meeting of the Russian Duma.



UPDATE:  It seems to work.  Nice.

UPDATE:  Romney, a man ahead of his time.  Russian artillery reported to be firing into Ukraine.

UPDATE:  No, I don't think Gov Romney should run again.  The Conservatives are distrustful of him because he is a Mormon.  And the Progressives sure don't trust him, because he is a Mormon.  That soft discrimination that is left over from 150 years ago.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Freedom to Publish?


For John, BLUFFreedom sometimes dies slowly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at the [Right Wing] newspaper, The Washington Examiner, is an article that suggests the Federal Election Commission is tinkering with the idea of a Free Press.  In that the FEC came about its position indirectly, from what it did not do, it is a little confusing, but it is worth thinking about.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Possibility of War in the Donbass


For John, BLUFEver heard the phrase "Guns of August"?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Donbass

From Euromaiden Press we have this headline, "Putin calls an emergency State Duma session regarding Ukraine".

Now why would he do that?  Do you think that he is going to ask the Duma, the State Legislature, to approve a Russian move into Eastern Ukraine as a sort of R2P—Responsibility to Protect—action because of all the Russian speakers in Eastern Ukraine who are in danger from the Ukraine Government?

And why are there all those Russian speakers in Ukraine?  Could it go back to Joseph Stalin backfilling with Russians the dearth of Ukrainians in the 1930s, after the "Holodomor", when hundreds of thousands died of starvation, caused by the same Joseph Stalin?

At any rate, moving from what is now an embarrassing, and somewhat ineffective externally (Russian) supported subversion to a quick regular military cleanup may seem like the best solution to President Putin.  The question is, what will Ukraine, Europe, the UN and the US do? 

Regards  —  Cliff

  Someone out on the EMails reported a claim that "Russian troops are painting their helmets blue, the color of traditional UN peacekeepers."  That is interesting.
This gets to City Life host George Anthes and his comments about voting [no, not the ones where he suggested, incorrectly and scurrilously, that I wanted to go back to literacy tests for voting] but whether the voters neither cared about nor needed to know about Russia and the Crimea.  I wonder if they would care if their sons and daughters were marching off to war?

Gun Control From Beacon Hill


For John, BLUFWhere is the analysis behind the legislation?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In Wednesday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun is an article with a State House byline on the General Court's developing legislation on firearms.  The headline is " Discretion sought on gun licenses".  The Reporter is Ms Colleen Quinn of State House News Service. The gist of it is that Police want to have the ability to turn down requests for licenses for rifles and shotguns.
Giving police chiefs discretion to decide who should have a license to carry a shotgun or rifle is crucial to prevent gun violence, domestic-violence murders and suicides, police officials and other activists said at a Statehouse rally Tuesday.
"Crucial"?  This is the magic bullet that will end gun violence?  Really?

Here are my questions.

  1. If the local Police Chief has this authority, will there be a reasonable path of appeal?  Does an individual have a right of appeal, and if not, why not?
  2. Why do we believe that Police Chiefs being able to deny rifle and shotgun licenses will have any impact on gang or drug gang violence?
  3. Once we deal with long guns, how will we deal with the core of Domestic Violence?
  4. How does this law deal with "illegal" guns coming into the Commonwealth?
  5. How long will this take to make it to the US Supreme Court?
  6. SUPPLEMENTAL QUESTION:  Will the Supreme Judicial Court follow the lead of the US Supreme Court in this issue?
  7. At the end of the day, will the Police, like the Bobbies in England, be walking around Lowell and Boston without guns on their hips?  That is my standard for defacto rejection of the Second Amendment.
We do need controls on who can own a gun.  We don't wish to see the mentally unstable with a gun.  Nor do we wish to see known criminals with guns.  On the other hand, we should avoid doing violence to the Second Amendment.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Here is an updated version of the article.
  There would still be the ability to deploy an armed police team from the Police Headquarters and to employ those QUANGO SWAT Teams, if they are still legal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One View on Government and The People


For John, BLUFThis is not a view I subscribe to.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In forwarding an article on Reporter Sara Firth resigning from the London office of the TV News organization Russia Today, one person cited this quote to help us understand Russia today.
"Naturally, the common people don't want war...but, after all it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
- Herman Goering at Nuremberg trial in 1946
The article (not the quote) is from The [Manchester] Guardian and the headline is "Russia Today reporter resigns in protest at MH17 coverage".  Ms Firth resigned over the "Kremlin-backed news channel’s ‘disrespect for facts’ in reports about Malaysia Airlines plane disaster".

The point of submitting this is to help each of us think about our political responsibilities, in voting, and in petitioning our elected leaders.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fighting Anti-Semitism


For John, BLUFAnti-Semitism appears to be timeless.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



At The Volokh Conspiracy Mr David Bernstein gives us "Attempted pogrom thwarted by Jewish self-defense groups".  This is about ongoings in Paris.  France has had Anti-Semitism in the past, including a century ago, when a Jewish Army Captain was sacrificed for the "Honor of the Army", while the true spy for Austria was allowed to roam free.  Thank God for Emile Zola.

The article is dated 20 July 2014.

But, that is Europe, where the hint of Anti-Semitism is always there, although increased now by waves of Muslim immigrants who bring their prejudices with them, rather than leaving them on the dock when they step off the boat on French soil.

On the other hand Hot Air tells us "Police protect Jewish students from Pro-Palestinian mob…in Boston".  In Boston.  I seem to have missed that in the news.  The article, here, is dated 21 July 2014 and is by Mr Guy Benson.

Here is Mr Benson's lede quote:

For the third time in eight days, Boston police were forced to intervene when a small group of student Israel supporters was swarmed by demonstrators screaming anti-Semitic epithets and initiating physical contact, said students involved in the incident…A handful of Jewish students with Israeli flags was surrounded by demonstrators shouting anti-Semitic epithets and – according to two of the students – a tense minute of “pushing and shoving.” Soon after the “die-in” ended, Brett Loewenstern — a Berklee College of Music student and pro-Israel activist – entered the fray with his boyfriend, Israeli-born Avi Levi. According to Loewenstern, he and his boyfriend’s combining of an Israeli flag with a rainbow flag – the symbol for gay rights – set off a hailstorm of insults from demonstrators. Among other things, the shouts included “Jews back to Birkenau” and “Drop dead, you Zionazi whores,” said Loewenstern and other witnesses…During a gathering outside the Boston Public Library on Thursday evening, police had to protect Valdary and student activist Daniel Mael from what Valdary called “hundreds of people shouting ‘Allah is great.’”
The best way to deal with these sorts of things is to say "No thank you" to things when they first come up.  Social distancing, so to speak.  Good People may have various opinions on Israel and Palestine, but they do not disparage Jews, nor Palestinians.

Regards  —  Cliff

President Putin Locked In


For John, BLUFWe need to deter President Putin, not provoke him.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I am not unhappy with current US foreign policy regarding Russia and Crimea.  Yes, Russia must be resisted with regard to its threat to Ukraine, but right now the most important foreign policy action must be finding a way for Putin to dismount, without provoking an even worse outcome.

From our friends up North, at the Globe and Mail, we have an insightful article by Mr Mark Mackinnon, headlined "Why Putin can’t back down now".  Published today.

From the article:  

The pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin grows each day. He must end his support for the rebels accused of shooting down a passenger plane over eastern Ukraine, Western leaders say, or face tougher economic sanctions and greater political isolation.

And each day, Mr. Putin makes it clearer that he’s not about to bend.

Mr. Putin is in a trap of his own making following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. He’s unable – even if he were willing – to meet the West’s demands, in large part due to the anti-Western opinion in Russia he and his Kremlin have moulded over 15 years in power.

Having cast the West as Russia’s enemy for so long, and having personally vowed to protect ethnic Russians everywhere, analysts say Mr. Putin would be fiercely criticized at home if he pulled an about-face and abandoned the separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic under pressure from Washington and London.

So, we need a foreign policy that, on the one hand deters further Russian excursions into Ukraine and on the other hand provides Mr Putin a path that does not endanger his rule.  Along the way we need to involve the Europeans, if for no other reason than to not let them sit on the sidelines jeering us.  And, we need to reassure our Asian allies that we don't think China should be out poaching property from other nations.  This stuff is never easy.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Childhood, Lost


For John, BLUFIt was always better in the old days.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is the paragraph Blogger Ann Althouse lifted from the article in The Week, by Mr Michael Brendan Dougherty, 21 July 2014, "Why are so many parents being arrested?  The communities that used to assist them are gone. So we call the cops instead."
My own childhood seems to have become illegal.  I was the son of a single mother.  During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, N.J., to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs.  I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on.  If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping.
Mr Dougherty is apparently younger than I am (we didn't have DARE in my day) and lived in the other end of the Garden State.  I used to ride my bike, alone, to the lake to go swimming.  The Borough had a life guard, but still, I was on my own, and that is where swimming lessons were.  I have, with my buddies, walked on a railroad trestle—the amazing thing is I dislike high places.  That doesn't count the time five of us walked three miles down the train tracks to get home after seeing a movie in another town.

Yes, childhood is much more constrained now than it was.  And less adventurous.  Mr Dougherty is on to something.

On the other hand, maybe it is more adventurous today.  I used to ride my bike up to the drug store (across the main drag and over the double railroad tracks at the crossing) to buy Carbon Tetrachloride, for cleaning model railroad tracks.  While I might get whiffs of it, I never sat around inhaling it, drinking it or injecting it. Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Iraq 21 July 2014


For John, BLUFIt isn't a lot of good news.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Source for these maps is The Institute for the Study of War.

The overall picture:

ISIS is ISIL or the Islamic Caliphate.  The current bad guys, killing or expelling Christians from Mosul
ISF is Iraqi Security Forces.
Peshmerga is Kurd forces.
ISW is The Institute for the Study of War

Specifics:

Regards  —  Cliff

Fighting Homelessness


For John, BLUFTaking care of the less well off costs money.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



One of my concerns in our society is homelessness and here is a broadsheet looking at the proposal from the Obama Administration regarding spending in Fiscal Year 2015 (the Federal Fiscal Year starts on 1 October of 2014).  This is from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Here is the summarizing first paragraph:

President Obama's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget clearly demonstrates the high priority this Administration has for achieving to the goals of Opening Doors:  Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.  This year’s budget proposal includes more than $5.69 billion for targeted homeless assistance funding, a 12 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations.  This fact sheet serves as an overview of the homeless assistance programs across the government.
This is not to say I believe throwing money at the problem is sufficient.  Homeless has many causes and providing housing, which is the first step in the solution, is not sufficient.  For some jobs are enough and for others there is a requirement for medical or mental health, to include extensive case management.  For still others there is a need to develop or redevelop those life skills that keep most from being homeless.  There is no one size fits all.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Southern Border Crisis


For John, BLUFNo good answers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Our Governor, Devol Patrick, being joined by our Senate President, Ms Therese Murry, are for bringing children to Massachusetts who have managed to survive the trip up through Mexico and tagged up at the border.

"My inclination is to remember what happened when a ship full of Jewish children tried to come to the United States in 1939 and the United States turned them away, and many of them went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps," Patrick said.  "I think we are a bigger-hearted people than that as Americans, and certainly as residents of Massachusetts."
I am all for avoiding another MS ST LOUIS incident.  In the case of the German ship with 937 Jewish German Refugees the people were first turned away by Cuba, and then the United States and then Canada.  Returned to Europe, it is estimated one quarter died in German death camps.  But, in bringing up the question of moral responsibility, Governor Patrick raises more issues with regard to Germany and our responsibility, which I will discuss below.

Nation of Change, a Progressive organization, tells us that "Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island".  I expect they were coming even before there was an Ellis Island, opened back in 1892.  I expect children as indentured servants were showing up here soon after large numbers of immigrants were coming from the British Isles.

The Publisher Emeritus of The [Lowell] Sun, Mr Kendall Wallace, on his most recent "Saturday Chat" gave us "A proud history of embracing new people".  He writes:

I struggle with the way we as a people have handled some historic human-rights issues, particularly the current situation that is again splitting the country:  What to do about the thousands of women and children pouring into the U.S. illegally as they flee poverty, abuse and hopeless situations they live with in Mexico and various countries in Central America.
OK, I get it.  Thousands are coming to our borders and we should not turn them away.  However, what of the rest?

NATIONPOPULATIONDATETYPE
Guatamala15,806,6752014Estimate
Honduras8,249,5742010Estimate
El Salvador6,134,0002009Estimate

That totals out at 30,200,249.  If we assume that 10% of the population is corrupt or criminal or evil, that still leaves 27,180,224 good men, women and children.  So we have absorbed 53,000 or so people.  What about the remaining 27,127,224?

While the fate of the Jewish People on the MS ST LOUIS is a blot on our history, and the history of other nations, including Germany, it does not encapsulate the totality of what went wrong.  For example, there were the Germany "Death Panels", under Action T-4, which saw the murder of 70,000 disabled before the program was shut down (and another 200,000 after the program was shut down).  These were not Jews, but ethnic Germans who had become "useless eaters".  We did nothing about this mass killing of those not able to defend themselves.  Then we add in some 6 million Jews and several million killed for being Communist, Gypsy, Homosexual, part of the Polish leadership, or just troublesome Slavs.  Going to the MS ST LOUIS misses the bigger picture and is just playing with history.

However, there is a response that does look at the larger picture and that is our responsibilities under Responsibility to Protect (R2P).  This is the idea that states should not allow other states to commit atrocities on their own populations, for example the Rwanda Genocide.  The three strong voice in the Obama Administration for R2P have been Ms Susan Rice, National Security Advisor, Ambassador Samantha Power, our UN Ambassador, and Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, formerly the Department of State Director of Policy Planning.  If bad things are happening in Meso-America, should we be stepping in, perhaps with Mexico and other nations?  Should our military forces step in and replace the national governments, as we did in Panama, back in 1989?  How do you feel about doing "nation building" south of the border?

On the other hand, "nation building" has not been a rousing success in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And it goes against the Good Neighbor Policy that we have tried to hew to since the time of President Franklin D Roosevelt.  I would think that intervention would not go down well in international relations.  If nothing else, it would provide Russia with ample justification for its intervention in Ukraine.  And, China would see itself free to intervene in Viet-nam and other nations on its supposed borders, including the Nine-Dash Line.  I am against intervention.

From The International New York Times, on Sunday, we have an article that talks to Mexico strengthening its Southern Border.  Here are two paragraphs from the article:

Now Mexico finds itself whipsawing between compassion and crackdown as it struggles with a migration crisis of its own. While the public is largely sympathetic to migrants and deeply critical of the United States’ hard-line immigration policies, officials are under pressure from their neighbors to the north and south as they try to cope with the influx. As a result, they are taking measures that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Mexico has quietly stepped up the pace of deportation of migrants, some of them unaccompanied children. It announced plans to stop people from boarding freight trains north and will open five new border control stations along routes favored by migrants.

So, we are supposed to welcome those who successfully ride The Beast up from South Mexico, but also applaud Mexico for closing that Southern Border?

Frankly, I would see this as another "Piven and Cloward" type effort to crash a system in order to get it fixed, in this case, the immigration system.  That would be like the "Fast and Furious" Operation late in its manifestation (experience early in the Obama Administration).  The problem with this theory is that it would require a degree of competence that may not exist down in DC these days.  Hanlon's Razor.

So, we have an surge in immigrants, especially young ones, the ones who survive the trip up through Mexico, probably due to a hope that if they make it to the United States they are home free.  The question for Governor Patrick, Mr Wallace and Nation of Change is, are conditions so bad in Central America, Panama perhaps excluded, that we should actually bring in the millions who are at risk due to violence, much of it drug related?  Think about the cost and efforts of settling some 27 million people from Central America, people who don't speak English and may not have the job skills to gain employment in the United States, if there were jobs to be had.

And, as a side note, none of this, at whatever level, is going to be free.  Hearing the words "the Federal Government is paying for it" makes me think of the ratio of Federal taxes paid to benefits returned to Massachusetts.  We get back about 83¢ in benefits for every $1 in taxes we send to Washington.  That means all those good ideas being pushed down in DC are costing us money in a disproportionate way.

I will give Mr Wallace credit for these words in his column:

The federal and state governments failure to level with people about the true extent of the number of people who have been flown into Massachusetts hurts the cause.

Lowell has always done its share to help immigrants settle in America.  Since the 1830s the city has seen waves of new people come to Lowell for jobs and a better life.

If, in fact, hundreds of these people who have fled their homelands have been flown into Hanscom Field in Bedford, and they are allowed to remain, some will end up in Lowell and in the Lowell's public schools while politicians debate about the issue.  While federal and state officials will debate, the city will treat these people with respect and dignity.

At the end of the day I expect Lowell will do the right thing, which is to take in the border crossers.  I hope the Citizens of Lowell, and other communities, will take the second step and vote against Federal and Commonwealth candidates in November if those two levels of Government do not finally come clean and step up.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Of course drug related violence really points back at the United States, which provides a huge market for such drugs coming from South America.  That would be to say, the conditions in Central America are the fault of US Citizens who are using illegal drugs.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner (RIP)


For John, BLUFReal Entertainers.



From The International New York Times we have an announcement of the passing of Actor James Garner.  I really enjoyed his shows Maverick and The Rockford Files and his performance in films such as The Great Escape.

Thank you, James Garner.

Regards  —  Cliff

Fathers


For John, BLUFWe need to understand the human terrain, at the strategic level.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This is one of those articles that calls for a "Maybe" response.  It needs a lot more social science examination, but it is plausible.

From Crisis Magazine we have an article by Mr William Kilpatrick, The Gender Confusion Challenge to Army Recruitment. The author contrast military recruiting for The Caliphate (née ISIL) with the US military's efforts.  He focuses on the issue of young men without Fathers and how they are going to break.  He notes that of those young men in prison who convert to a religion, 60% adopt Islam.  That doesn't mean that when they get out they are buying a one-way ticket to the Middle East, but it shows that Islam offers attractions to young Fatherless men.

Mr Kilpatrick draws a contrast between what The Caliphate offers with what the US military offers.  And he talks about what Fatherless boys are looking for.  The last three paragraphs:

There are armies of teens in the West who are looking for an army to join.  It doesn’t have to be a real army.  A gang will do—so long as it provides male bonding, a warrior ethos, and the “reputation” that goes along with gang membership.

If you’re a young man without a father around, you’ll be looking, naturally, for the biggest, toughest brotherhood on the block.  Increasingly, that looks like militant Islam.  It promises everything that a wannabe warrior could ask for, and it commands far more respect than your average street gang ever will.

Our own military should take note.  When the armies of Islam are drawing young men from around the world to join the jihad, it might not be the best time for the U.S. Army to emphasize its feminine side.

Reading this you might dismiss it as the ravings of some off center Roman Catholic.  On the other hand, you have Professor Andrew Bacevich making the point that the wars in the Middle East are about religion.  And Professor Bacevich is no friend of the previous and present Presidents, foreign policy wise.  Writing in Notre Dame Magazine the Professor ends:
Whatever Washington’s intentions, we are engaged in a religious war.  That is, the ongoing war has an ineradicable religious dimension.  That’s the way a few hundred million Muslims see it and their seeing it in those terms makes it so.

The beginning of wisdom is found not in denying that the war is about religion but in acknowledging that war cannot provide an antidote to the fix we have foolishly gotten ourselves into.

Does the Islamic world pose something of a problem for the United States?  You bet, in all sorts of ways.  But after more than three decades of trying, it’s pretty clear that the application of military power is unlikely to provide a solution.  The solution, if there is one, will be found by looking beyond the military realm — which just might be the biggest lesson our experience with the War for the Greater Middle East ought to teach.

We can be as secular as we want, but that doesn't mean the other side has to take that approach.  And, the other side gets a vote.

And, we can look for non-military actions, but sometimes the kinetic approach is the solution, at least the immediate solution.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From Bedford, NH, Southwest of Manchester.
  Himself a Roman Catholic.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Russia Rampant?


For John, BLUFRussia will likely remain expansionist Russia under President Putin.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Instapundit we have this item:
THE KEY WORD IS “ILLUSION:”  Russia Has Become Dangerous Again:  The illusion of a stable Europe died yesterday with the murdered passengers of MH17.  Mitt Romney was mocked for pointing this out in 2012.  Now it has become so obvious that David Frum is saying it.
There are comments at the link.

Mr Frum concludes his article in The Atlantic thusly:

And we are all more vulnerable to that danger because we have let atrophy the institutions necessary to meet and contain that danger. It’s time—past time—to build those institutions back. That’s been the meaning of the Ukraine crisis from the start. The terrible heartbreak of MH17 might have been averted if we had absorbed that meaning early. But better to absorb it now than to leave it any longer.
On the other hand, it isn't like Mr Frum is an acolyte of President Obama.  He co-authored a book with Mr Richard Perle.

But, that doesn't take away from the idea that Europe, and North America, need to strengthen institutions of security.

Regards  —  Cliff

  What is the collective term for the US and Canada?  I have seen CANUS, but that isn't an obvious term.  North America doesn't do it, since Mexico doesn't much care about Europe these days, although they did provide combat forces in World War II, including Escuadrón 201 which flew P-47s on combat operations in the Philippines.

Tea Parties Bring Down Airliner


For John, BLUFBlame the Tea Parties.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the web presence, The Hill, we have this article by Mr Jim Treacher, with the headline:
TPM’s Josh Marshall: Hey, What’s Russian For ‘Tea Party’?
The bottom line of the article:
Everything bad that happens in the world can be traced back to you, teahadists. And the more you deny it, the truer it gets.
There you have it.  The Tea Parties are the sum of all evil.  The Caliphate (née ISIL) is OK, but Tea Parties are not.  Not even for little girls on a summer afternoon.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trust Act


For John, BLUFWe are focused on ants and the elephants are crashing through.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The Boston Herald had an article some nine days ago on the General Court's proposed "Trust Act".  It is not favorable. Here is the web site of the organization pushing the "Trust Act".

Here is a copy of the House version of the Bill, filed 18 January 2013.  (Senate version)

The fundamental idea is that illegal immigrants are afraid to seek the help of the police when they are robbed or abused, when they see a problem.  The assumption is they fear the police arresting them for their immigration status, starting a chain of actions toward being deported.  This unwillingness to go to the police allows crime to thrive in the neighborhoods in which they live.

Here is how it is put in the article in The Herald:

But [Mr] Franklin Soults, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said the Trust Act would ease immigrants’ concerns about calling police and would make the Bay State a safer place to live.
Here is the argument against, as presented in the first three paragraphs from the Herald article:
Bay State lawmen and lawmakers are warning that the Trust Act would open the doors to a flood of illegals as advocates plan a rally on the State House steps tomorrow to urge passage of the bill that would bar cops from holding people simply for immigration violations.

“The Trust Act takes the handcuffs off of the people who are breaking the law and puts them back on the police officers who are trying to do their jobs,” Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson said.  “It prevents us from sharing critical information and protecting the citizens we’ve sworn to protect.”

Under the act, which has the support of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and which was recently adopted in Somerville, police would only comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to hold illegals if they had a criminal warrant or if police had a non-immigration-related legal purpose, regulations state Rep. Marc Lombardo said would only entice illegals to flock to Massachusetts.

I agree with the People not being fearful of the police, be they Citizens, Visitors, Immigrants or people here without the proper paperwork.  However, I wonder to what degree that if a Caucasian Middle Class virtue, perhaps also a belief amongst those Asian Americans who have been here for a few generations.  I doubt it is a belief on the part of Blacks, especially those not in the Middle Class, but also those in the Middle Class who live in certain areas.  For example, Blacks living in New York City expect the Police to conduct unconstitutional stop and frisk activities.  There was Elaine from Baltimore, who called the Laura Ingraham Show a few days back, complaining that Blacks in Charm City were being neglected by their Government, local, state and national.

But, aside from our own internal problems regarding trust of the police, I would like to hear what the anthropologists have to say about citizen trust in other cultures, like the cultures from which our illegal immigrant population is coming.  I suspect that the trust level for police in places like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is pretty low.  If it is low in those nations, then the immigrants come with an inherent distrust of the police and it may take a couple of generations to overcome that distrust.  While the "Trust Act" may be a confidence building move, I doubt its immediate effectiveness in reducing crime.

But, it also detracts from the major issues surrounding immigration, such as what is happening to those who being detained after crossing the border illegally, a topic discussed in an article in yesterday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun.  Two of my favorite fall candidates were quoted in the article, Ms Ann Wofford and Ms Marisa DeFranco, esq, and their thoughts made sense.  The responses from incumbent officials were like dishwater.  It is especially disturbing to me to not have elected officials say that the secrecy surrounding these detainees is unacceptable and represents a trend in the wrong direction.  At the risk of violating Godwin's Law, this is the kind of thing that led to bad things being done by the German Government, not only in the late 1930s, but also by the Stasi in the 50s through the 70s.  Governments should not be operating in the shadows.

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the United States benefits from immigration.  There should also be no doubt in anyone's mind that immigration should be about creating new Americans, not changing US society.  How many want our society to be like those south of our border?  What about the culture in parts of Mexico, where the local citizens have taken up arms against the Cartels, because the police and army can't or won't?  Yes, Virginia, we do need a Second Amendment.

I am sure there are those with the free time to pursue the "Trust Act", but there shouldn't be too many.  Most should be providing information to the public or working on closing the border or working on ensuring that those who deserve a hearing show up at that hearing.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, July 14, 2014

French National Celebration


For John, BLUFThat would be 1789.  That was the year that George Washington was sworn in as President and John Adams as Vice President.  It was also the year Fletcher Christian lead the mutiny on HMS BOUNTY.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Happy Bastille Day.

Yes, this is sort of like our Fourth of July.  But not quite.  The storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris, led to the freeing of seven prisoners.  More important, it provided the people of Paris with arms, and more important still, with ammunition.

Note the importance of the Second Amendment in this action, before there was a Second Amendment on paper.

But, back to the French, the Revolution lead to Napoleon Bonaparte, not to a French George Washington.  Sad for France and sad for Europe.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The crowd missed the transfer of the Comte de Solages (the Marquis de Sade) by ten days.  On the 2nd of July he tried to foment a riot by shouting to the crowd outside that the Government was killing the prisoners.  On the 4th of July he was transferred out.
  Although inherent in the words of the Declaration of Independence.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Doing Good


For John, BLUFPsychic Income is sometimes as important as the money.  We are, after all, humans.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



There is good news tonight.

I have been a little hard on the IRS in recent blog posts, and not without some reason.  Their inability to produce internal EMails and Instant Messages has been incredible.  Almost like a coverup.

But, I was talking to the couple next door, who are getting married next month, and she said that the IRS is helping with the wedding.  It seems she made a math error a couple of years ago.  It was in the Government's favor, and they caught it.  It took them two years to track her down, but they did, and returned $900, plus $75 in interest payments.  This is the Abe Lincoln kind of story I like to hear.  And, the money went to purchase invitations to the wedding and reception.

I actually have a fairly high opinion of the Civil Service.  My Father made GS-13 and I have two brothers, one of whom made SES and the other GS-15.  Each of my three children have been a Civil Servant at one time or another.  My Daughter worked for the Department of Agriculture and my oldest Son worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency.  Today my youngest Son works for the Marshall Service, as a lawyer.

I like good news stories from the Civil Service.  They are fellow citizens trying to do good for all of us.  On the other hand, there isn't usually much praise for doing your job correctly.  Too bad.

Regards  —  Cliff

Comparing Costs of Birth Control


For John, BLUFDemography is destiny.  More important, when comparing costs, look at the 3rd and 4th order effects.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The International New York Times has an article looking at who pays what when it comes to birth control.  This item was sparked by some assertions when the Hobby Lobby Case was heard by the US Supreme Court.  The article, by Austin Frakt, a health economist with several governmental and academic affiliations, is here.  The headline is "Does Birth Control Coverage Pay for Itself? Maybe Not".

Missing in the discussion is the cost of not producing enough offspring to sustain the population.  If we find ourselves with a decreasing population in the out years we will not be able to sustain some of the Government services we now think of as normal.

Here is the link to a blog within the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, where Mr Daniel Hannan tells us "Europe is dying, says France's leading demographer, and Britain would be better off with the Anglosphere".  Here is an extract.

It's important to understand that this decline is not a temporary blip.  Although the euro crisis has accelerated Europe's slide, the underlying problem is demographic.  Put simply, fewer and fewer youngsters are supporting more and more retirees.  Europe's working age population peaked in 2012 at 308 million, and will fall to 265 million by 2060.  The ratio of pensioners to workers will, according to The Economist, rise from 28 per cent to 58 per cent – and even these statistics assume the arrival of a million immigrants every year.
Just as there are "breeders", there are "free loaders".  However, if there are too many free loaders the free loading will stop and suffering will ensue.  No woman should be forced or coerced into having children, although Governments should be free to offer economic incentives to have children.  But, decisions have consequences, both individually and collectively.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Afghan Interpreters In Limbo


For John, BLUFWe have a duty to those who helped us.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"Afghan interpreters who served U.S. are in limbo as State Department runs out of visas"

From The Washington Post, on 10 July.  The lede is:

The cases of thousands of Afghan interpreters who worked with the U.S. military and hope to relocate to the United States are in limbo because the government will soon run out of visas designated for the resettlement program, State Department officials said Thursday.

Worried about the welfare of linguists who are under threat for their affiliation with the U.S. government, State Department officials are asking Congress to allow the issuing of more visas during the remainder of the fiscal year and to extend the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which is set to expire in September.

Of course it is all the fault of the US Congress, for not increasing the number of available visas, but wouldn't you think that an Administration that is processing tens of thousand of illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico, and which claims it can use its pen and cell phone to make things happen, would have fixed this problem by now?  And, per the Reporter, Ernesto Londoño, the Department of State early on slowed this process on its own, adding to the problems.

We actually have some responsibility toward these people and their families.  They put their necks out for us so now we should reciprocate.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Iraqi WMDs


For John, BLUFDefinitions are important.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"WikiLeaks Show WMD Hunt Continued in Iraq – With Surprising Results"

This from Reporter Noah Shachtman of Wired Magazine.  Here is the lede:

By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction.

An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq.  But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield.  Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.

Vindication of a sorts for the George W Bush Administration, from Wikileaks.  No, there was no real nuclear weapons program, but with the then and now definition of WMD, there were WMDs.

Between us, I would like to see the definition of WMDs restricted to nuclear weapons, but I am not going to win that one.  Too many special interests in play.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Oh No, Mr Bill


For John, BLUFOf course we don't really "trust" government, but we continue to pay taxes like we do and that should not be undermined.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The IRS, which seemed to not understand its duties and responsibilities with regard to preserving EMail Messages now finds that its Instant Messages, which it thought were immune from having to be archived, aren't.
An Archives spokeswoman, in a statement to Government Executive, said, “The definition of a federal record includes all machine-readable materials made or received by an agency under federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business.  Agencies that allow instant messaging traffic on their networks must recognize that such content may be a federal record and must be managed accordingly.  NARA has issued an FAQ on Instant Messaging that provides general information about these potential records.”
The hypocrisy of demanding that citizens keep seven years of information for tax purposes while not complying with Federal retention requirements is huge, perhaps as huge as the National Debt.

On the other hand, the real issue is retention of the trust of the American People.  Our tax system works because the majority of our Citizens voluntarily comply with the tax rules, as they understand them, or pay someone to understand them.  In an April 2013 report, CNBC put the underground economy at about 8% of our GDP, or $2 Trillion.  They put lost taxes at about $500 billion in 2012.

I think it behooves the Federal Government to take steps, reasonable steps, to help restore and retain the trust of the American People in the IRS.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  "A billion here, a billion there, it soon adds up to real money"—the late Senator Everett Dirksen.

Correlation or Causation


For John, BLUFWhat are the limits and benefits of firearms?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"Murder rate drops as concealed carry permits rise, study claims".  Of course it is Fox News, so it may not be real science. 
A dramatic spike in the number of Americans with permits to carry concealed weapons coincides with an equally stark drop in violent crime, according to a new study, which Second Amendment advocates say makes the case that more guns can mean safer streets.

The study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, up from 4.5 million in 2007.  The 146 percent increase has come even as both murder and violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent.

OK, so this is the reverse of what the statistics in Europe suggest, which is that less guns in the hands of citizens means less crime, or at least fewer murders.

One of the things about Europe is that they got a jump on sopping up weapons before and during and directly after World War II.  No one wanted francs-tireurs after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, especially of the Werwolf variety.  Of course in the Soviet Zone of Occupation and other occupied Eastern European nations weapons were also being picked up.

One of the problems with the gun debate is how we know we have something good enough.  There are those who think that any killing, any shooting that might have resulted in death, is reason enough to ban all guns.  Such is the view in places like New York City and Chicago.  In New York City, with police searches that really challenge the Bill of Rights, murders are fairly low, but in Chicago, which had very restrictive laws, murders make one think of Baghdad.

Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we have a law that mandates a one year prison sentence for having an unlicensed gun.  Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we have a very low ratio of folks going to jail vs arrests.  I expect the reason is that Prosecutors go for an easy conviction to a lesser charge rather than having to fight it out in court.  There may also be the issue of not enough jail cells to house all the offenders who might be convicted.  That means spending money and that means taxes (or cutting something else).

Our Commonwealth's General Court is considering new gun control, as reported in Thursday's edition of The [Lowell] Sun.  On the other hand there is no recent article telling us what the legislation would do.  On the other hand, The Boston Globe does have a 10 July article outlining the changes being proposed by the Lower House.  However, the General Court has until 31 July to finish this up in the Senate and confirm in the House in the event of changes.

For those who want no firearms in the hands of civilians, there is the question of if they have a proposal for actually sweeping up all those weapons out there.  The idea that we could go house to house searching for weapons suggests a total breakdown of the social contract.  If gun control advocates believe we can soak up all the guns let them propose that the police also go unarmed, leaving firearms in the Police Station until needed to confront known armed perps.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Actually, it is Social Science, so thus it might not be real science.
  Per The Huffington Post 60 Chicago folks were shot over the 4th of July Weekend, nine fatally.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sun on Hobby Lobby


For John, BLUFThe Hobby Lobby Case is due to incompetence.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I know it is going back to Sunday, but Burwell v Hobby Lobby is still a hot issue.  Not always does the editorial in The [Lowell] Sun get it wrong.  On Sunday last the editorial was "Dems use Hobby Lobby for their phony baloney".  Yes they do.

In writing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid gave us two thousand pages of legislation.  Surely in the process of writing this bill the opportunity to deal with the impact of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act came up.  Within those two thousand pages an awful lot of things were covered, including payoffs to various political entities and, as a concession to Democrat Senator Ben Nelson, wording "to give states the right to prohibit coverage of abortion within their own insurance exchanges".

How do we explain this issue not having been resolved in the bill?  I give you five options, but am open to others:

  1. The writers just totally missed the intersection of religion and health care.
  2. The writers thought about it and dismissed it as being an unlikely problem.
  3. The writers were facing a time compression abort and had to get this done before Scott Brown showed up.
  4. The Democrat Leadership thought that even surfacing this would cause too much dissension amongst Democrats in Congress and endanger the Bill.
  5. This was a LBIED, designed to explode and be a dog whistle for the DemocratProgressive faithful.
I find the first option to be beyond belief.  It is hard to believe that Democrat Staffers were so culturally tone deaf they would not pick up on this nexus.  Regarding option 2, if that is the case the Staffers should be fired.  Numbers 3 and 4 in some combination, sees the most likely explanation.  Number 5 is plausible, but never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

As the editorial suggests, we will be hearing about this up into November, if for no other reason than to distract us from the abolition of our national border in the Southwest (while Mexico keeps theirs).

BONUS:  Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse has a post up on the aftermath of the decision, including in the title "#keepyourrosariesoffmyovaries".  Do you think the person who wrote that realized that Hobby Lobby is owned by Protestants, who are very unlikely to be saying the Rosary?

Via the Instapundit we have Ms Megan McArdle arguing that both sides are talking past each other and not seeing the other sides point of view.

But, back to Professor Althouse, her post on the Professor Winnifred Fallers Sullivan essay, "The impossibility of religious freedom" raises some interesting questions.  One of the points she makes is that the dissenters are on shaky ground in their understanding of "religious freedom".  A great essay.  Here is one paragraph:

That American religion is involved in business and obsessed with sex is not news.  What is surprising is that those who object to this kind of religion continue to hold on to a faith in the idea that religious freedom means protection only for the kind of religion they like, the private, individualized, progressive kind.
Regards  —  Cliff

  I realize that Ms Pelosi and Mr Reid provided only high level guidance and even Committee Chairmen were not holding pencils, but rather professional staffers actually wrote the legislation.  And, of course the original bill, introduced by Rep Charlie Rangle (D-NY) was about housing tax breaks for Service members.
  The Bill was introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) and passed the US Senate in 1993, 97 to 3.  House of Representatives wasa voice vote.
  Legislative Borne Improvised Explosive Device.
  Hanlon's Razor, sometimes as Heinlein's Razor.

Obama as European?


For John, BLUFMay sound like a complement, but isn't.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



In The New York Times, a couple of days ago, was this opinion piece by Mr Clemens Wergin.  Based on his experience as a German Newspaper reporter and editor, he asks, "Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Too European?"
BERLIN — I have long been a critic of the German foreign policy debate — of its freeloading on the American security umbrella, coupled with moral grandstanding whenever the Americans did things their way; of too much analysis of past events and not enough thinking about how to get things right in the future; of its tendency to take words as a substitute for deeds.  That’s why I have usually given the Americans the benefit of the doubt:  At least they took on problems nobody else was willing to tackle.

But then, at the height of the Syria conflict and just after yet another of Barack Obama’s speeches, I suddenly understood the problem with this American president and his foreign policy.  He sounded just like a German politician:  all moral outrage, but little else to help end one of the most devastating civil wars of our age.  President Obama, I thought with a sigh, has become European.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Per The New York Times Mr Clemens Wergin has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of 2013.  Mr. Wergin is the foreign editor for the German newspaper group, Welt, including Die Welt, Welt am Sonntag, and several other newspapers. In addition to overseeing the newspapers’ foreign policy coverage, he writes the foreign policy blog Flatworld.