Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Take On Former SecState Clinton's Plan


For John, BLUFThis is likely the way it will be this year, on both sides.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at InstaPundit, Mr Ed Driscoll explains this column:

Why Trump attacked New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

Byron York’s column in the Washington Examiner boils down to a phrase uttered in 2004 by wise New York senator who would go on to be Secretary of State:  You don’t have to fall in love, you just have to fall in line.  Evidently, that’s Trump’s motto as well.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Retake on Hillary Logo


For John, BLUFNothing, this election season, is assured.  Nothing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I got this from the Facebook page of a friend of mine in Kansas.  He is a Bernie fan.

Senator Bernie Sanders and his following are not going down easy.

Which is upsetting the Democratic Party Elite.

Especially Democratic National Committee Chair, Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

I know that when the Republican nomination process started, with 17 aspirants, it looked a lot like a Clown Car, but I think the Democrats have now taken the lead, passing on the left.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 30, 2016

SJWs Deny Freedom


For John, BLUFSay goodby to the idea of "Free Speech", at least for a while.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



‘Bye, Christakises, Said The Greengrocer

This is about Yale, a private university, and how Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) are suppressing intellectual life on campus.  It actually goes back to before Halloween of last year.  The source is The American Conservative and the author is Mr Rod Dreher.  The dateline is 27 May of this year.

Here is the lede:

I read in Conor Friedersdorf’s post that controversial Yale academic couple Nicholas and Erika Christakis have stepped down from their roles as faculty-in-residence at Silliman College within the university.  Mrs. Christakis has already resigned her academic position at Yale; her husband will stay on faculty.  All this as the final result of those privileged crybaby students, supported by some faculty, throwing a vicious fit because Erika Christakis suggested in an e-mail that maybe the Yale administration shouldn’t be telling students what kind of costumes they shouldn’t wear on Halloween.
The author turned to Vaclav Havel, the first President of a free Czechoslovakia to help us understand:
In his 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” then-dissident Vaclav Havel captured Yale’s mentality in his character of the greengrocer under communism:
The manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan:  “Workers of the world, unite!”  Why does he do it?  What is he trying to communicate to the world?  Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world?  Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals?  Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions.  That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots.  He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be.  If he were to refuse, there could be trouble.  He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty.  He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life.  It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life “in harmony with society,” as they say.

And here is the concluding paragraph of the American Conservative article:
The whole thing is so demoralizing. But then, that’s exactly what the SJWs want to happen.  Shoot two Christakises, teach a thousand.  Sooner or later, though, faculty members are going to start taking stands for truth, quit kowtowing to this crap, and demanding that their employers find a spine.  One of these days, some campus leader at a major university is going to refuse to hang the sign in his window to avoid trouble.  That day is probably far off, but it cannot come soon enough.
The problem is, the day may never come and we will be a poorer nation for it.  We may even be a conquered nation, as we will have forgotten how to fight, which is significant on this Memorial Day.  For sure, the advancement of knowledge will suffer.  No one will be willing to wonder off the beaten path.  If it is history or law it might not be a major cost.  But, economics, sociology, medicine?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Memorial Day Read


For John, BLUFEncourage people to be engaged in their community.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From Mr Phil Klay, and the Brookings Institution:

The citizen-soldier:  Moral risk and the modern military

Very appropriate for Memorial Day.  Here is the lede:
The rumor was he’d killed an Iraqi soldier with his bare hands.  Or maybe bashed his head in with a radio.  Something to that effect.  Either way, during inspections at Officer Candidates School, the Marine Corps version of boot camp for officers, he was the Sergeant Instructor who asked the hardest, the craziest questions.  No softballs.  No, “Who’s the Old Man of the Marine Corps?” or “What’s your first general order?”  The first time he paced down the squad bay, all of us at attention in front of our racks, he grilled the would-be infantry guys with, “Would it bother you, ordering men into an assault where you know some will die?” and the would-be pilots with, “Do you think you could drop a bomb on an enemy target, knowing you might also kill women and kids?”

When he got to me, down at the end, he unloaded one of his more involved hypotheticals.  “All right candidate.  Say you think there’s an insurgent in a house and you call in air support, but then when you walk through the rubble there’s no insurgents, just this dead Iraqi civilian with his brains spilling out of his head, his legs still twitching and a little Iraqi kid at his side asking you why his father won’t get up.  So.  What are you going to tell that Iraqi kid?”

What ARE you going to tell that kid?  With luck the kid doesn't speak English, but there are still the gestures that speak to the kid.  These things are hard.  War is hard.

Here is the conclusion, and it talks to the divide between those who served in the military and those who didn't, but are still citizens.

The divide between the civilian and the service member, then, need not feel so wide.  Perhaps the way forward is merely through living up to those ideals, through action, and a greater commitment by the citizenry to the institutions of American civic life that so many veterans are working to rebuild.  Teddy Roosevelt once claimed a healthy society would regard the man “who shirks his duty to the State in time of peace as being only one degree worse than the man who thus shirks it in time of war.  A great many of our men … rather plume themselves upon being good citizens if they even vote; yet voting is the very least of their duties.”  That seems right to me.  The exact nature of those additional duties will depend on the individual’s principles.  What is undeniable, though, is that there is always a way to serve, to help bend the power and potential of the United States toward the good.

No civilian can assume the moral burdens felt at a gut level by participants in war, but all can show an equal commitment to their country, an equal assumption of the obligations inherent in citizenship, and an equal bias for action.  Ideals are one thing—the messy business of putting them into practice is another.  That means giving up on any claim to moral purity. That means getting your hands dirty.

When we talk about voting in Lowell we are talking about those who do their duty and those who do not.  That is between good citizens and those who shirk their responsibility.  I am willing to allow that those who came from other countries may be reluctant about civic engagement and that it is the responsibility of the rest of us to ease that pain, that fear.

All need to be involved, in peace as well as in war.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wash Post take on the DOS IG Report


For John, BLUFWhen you have lost The Wash Post you are in trouble.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



State Dept. inspector general report sharply criticizes Clinton’s email practices

The Washington Post Reporters are Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger and the dateline is 25 May.

The State Department’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that Clinton failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private server and that agency staff members would not have given their blessing if it had been sought because of “security risks.”
Here is the lede from the Wash Post Editorial Board:
HILLARY CLINTON’S use of a private email server while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 has been justifiably criticized as an error of judgment.  What the new report from the State Department inspector general makes clear is that it also was not a casual oversight.  Ms. Clinton had plenty of warnings to use official government communications methods, so as to make sure that her records were properly preserved and to minimize cybersecurity risks.  She ignored them.
Regards  —  Cliff

The Down Stream Implications of the Bathroom Bill


For John, BLUFJobs bill for lawyers.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



On 24 May of this year Harvard Law Professor Jeannie Suk had her article published in The New Yorker.  It is a good article and worth the five minutes to read it.  Because the issue is not totally straight forward.

The Transgender Bathroom Debate and the Looming Title IX Crisis

We need a very quick review of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  If you are not yet 44 it was before your time.  The act states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
At the time it was about things like girls sports teams getting equal treatment.  More recently, on 4 April 2011, the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) sent a Dear Colleague letter, which said, about Title IX, that sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment and is therefore sex discrimination.

On to the article, here is the lede plus one:

This month, regional battles over the right of transgender people to access public bathrooms were elevated to national legal theatre.  First, the Justice Department told North Carolina that its recent law, requiring education boards and public agencies to limit the use of sex-segregated bathrooms to people of the corresponding biological sex, violated federal civil-rights laws.  Governor Pat McCrory responded with a lawsuit, asking a court to declare that the state’s law doesn’t violate those federal laws.  Meanwhile, in a suit filed on the same day, the Justice Department asked a court to say that it does.

To top it off, on May 13th the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (O.C.R.) and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division issued a Dear Colleague letter announcing to the nation’s schools that, under Title IX—the 1972 law banning sex discrimination by schools that receive federal funding—transgender students must be allowed to use rest rooms that are “consistent with their gender identity.”  The threat was clear: schools that failed to comply could lose federal funding. Protests of federal overreach immediately ensued, including from parents citing safety and privacy as reasons for children and teen-agers to share bathrooms and locker rooms only with students of the same biological sex.

Then Professor Suk gets into the details and the back and fourth and why this is more complicated than it looks.  There is the question of whose rights triumph when there is a conflict.  Well worth the read.

Here are the last two paragraphs of the article:

The debate around which bathrooms transgender people should use has given rise to deeper questioning of why we even have a norm of gender segregation for bathrooms in the first place.  But a push to make those spaces open to all genders comes up uneasily against feelings of female sexual vulnerability and their effect on an equal education or workplace.  To make things more complicated, the risk of sexual assault and harassment of transgender females in male bathrooms is a salient reason for providing access to bathrooms according to gender identity, while many worry about transgender males being sexually bullied in male bathrooms.

The common denominator in all of these scenarios is fear of attacks and harassment carried out by males—not fear of transgender people.  The discomfort that some people, some sexual-assault survivors, in particular, feel at the idea of being in rest rooms with people with male sex organs, whatever their gender, is not easy to brush aside as bigotry.  But having, in the past several years, directed the public toward heightened anxiety about campus sexual assault, the federal government now says that to carry that discomfort into bathrooms is illegitimate because it is discrimination.  The sense that the Education Department has not looked down the road to consider the conflict is only confirmed by its penchant for announcing bold and controversial rules in letters, rather than through lawful processes.

Did I mention a great, quick, read.

The transgender bathroom issue isn't going away just yet, no matter what the Massachusetts General Court decides.

And, on City Life this last Friday State Representative Colleen Garry said that the Bill’s actual meaning is being left up to the Attorney General.  Frankly, we didn’t elect the Attorney General to write legislation.  Nor do we want State Bureaucrats deciding what it is the Bill says.  The SJC having that authority is sufficient for me.

One thing that could happen, with this recent Dear Colleague letter and the one from April 2011 is that campus life will become more complicated for boys and more of them will drop out or fail to get a higher education.  Even today the ratio is not good.  From a Forbes article in 2012 the ratio was 43.6 males for every 56.4 females.  Interestingly, the UK is about the same, at 45/55.

We need to be thinking of the long term impacts of these statistics, not just in economic terms, but in sociological terms.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Ms Jeannie Suk is a contributing writer for newyorker.com, and a professor at Harvard Law School.
  This had led to colleges and universities punishing (male) students, without due process, when female students accuse them of assault.  If Ms X says she was sexually assaulted then Mr Y can be dismissed from school, based on the findings of a kangaroo court.  That said, a number of Mr Xs are pushing back, in court.  Violation of Civil Rights.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Espionage and the Start of the Korean War


For John, BLUFI always wonder why we focus on Hitler and the Nazis, when Stalin is more recent and killed more people.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From the Blog site We Are The Mighty we have "This US Army sergeant started the Korean War by selling out to the Soviets".  The author is Mr Blake Stilwell and the dateline is 24 May 2016.

Here is how it starts out:

For more than 60 years, only seven people on Earth knew that the Soviets broke U.S. military and diplomatic ciphers.  One of those people was former KGB Berlin bureau chief and master Soviet spy Sergei Kondrashev.  Kondrashev and his peers searched desperately for American code clerks as they came and went from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  The KGB knew next to nothing about American ciphers, the code room in the embassy, or even the personnel who worked there. That changed in the early days of the Cold War.

Tennent Bagley was a CIA agent working around Eastern Europe, including Berlin.  In the early 1990’s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, he was to be featured on a German television show to discuss Cold War intelligence with former KGB agents.  In preparation for the show, he met Kondrashev, his direct KGB counterpart . Kondrashev told Bagley things that the CIA never knew, including the story of “Jack,” a U.S. Army Sergeant who single-handedly sparked off the Korean War.

In 1949, the memory of World War II and the existential threat to Russia was still fresh in the mind of Soviet Premiere Joseph Stalin.  Tensions with the U.S. were higher than at any time in recent memory.  The Soviet Union needed a way to predict American behavior.

They thought they lucked out when Sgt. James “Mac” MacMillan, a U.S. Army code clerk in the U.S. embassy in Moscow, began dating a Soviet national, nicknamed “Valya.”  Kondrashev was the intelligence agent assigned to Mac.  He persuaded Mac to give him any details of the code room and of anything else he knew.  In exchange, the KGB offered to set him and Valya up with an apartment in Moscow and money to start their lives.

It was only a few weeks after their first meeting that Mac defected to the Soviet Union.  Kondrashev soon learned Mac’s knowledge of the American codes was limited and the Russians were no closer to breaking the codes.

The Russians watched the U.S. embassy intently.  Based on the information provided by Mac, they knew what the code clerks looked like, but after Mac’s defection, the Americans were on alert.  The KGB’s got lucky again when agents reported an Army clerk visiting a local apartment, staying long into the night, and then returning to the embassy a few nights a week.

This is a sad situation.  But, the "honey pot" is a typical part of spy craft.  On the other hand, the Army Specialist formerly known as Bradley Manning gave up our secrets without such inducements.  We do provide young men and women with a lot of important information and expect them to take good care of it.  Almost all of them do an excellent job.  They are very careful of our nation's secrets.

However, there is another lesson to be learned here.  You think you have a conduit to what the other side is thinking, but that doesn't mean the other side might not turn on a dime.  In this case Uncle Joe (Stalin) was being cautious, but then learned that the US didn't much care about Korea, so he sanctioned the Kim Il-sung invasion of South Korea in 1950.  Then that terrible Harry Truman decided South Korea was important.  The rest is history.

Regards  —  Cliff

Kim Family In NYC


For John, BLUFThere are a lot of Kims in the world, but only one Kim Jung-un.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The secret life of Kim Jong Un's aunt, who has lived in the U.S. since 1998

This Washington Post article is by Reporter Anna Fifield.
NEW YORK — Wandering through Times Square, past the Naked Cowboy and the Elmos and the ticket touts, she could be any immigrant trying to live the American Dream.

A 60-year-old Korean woman with a soft perm and conservative clothes, she's taking a weekend off from pressing shirts and hemming pants at the dry-cleaning business she runs with her husband.

But she's not just any immigrant. She's an aunt to Kim Jong Un, the young North Korean leader who has threatened to wipe out New York with a hydrogen bomb.

They sound like great citizens and we should be glad they are here amongst us.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Chinese Economy


For John, BLUFThey don't know which way to go, which is almost as bad as going the wrong way.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is a headline from yesterday's Business Insider:

It sounds like a dispute is taking place at the highest levels of China's government — and it could have big implications for the economy

A dispute at the top of China’s government may signal a policy shift ahead. But until that becomes clear, the main risks are policy paralysis in the world’s second-largest economy and heightened uncertainty about growth.

For the third time in the last year, the People’s Daily, China’s authoritative Communist newspaper, published an interview with an unnamed official who said policy change was necessary to avoid a financial crisis and recession.

This time, the official interviewed—identified only as “an authoritative person”—said China can’t rely on debt-driven stimulus to restore its economic health.

I think it is at the point that Professor Paul Krugman should call the Chinese Embassy.

Either way, we in the rest of the world should consider what happens if the Chinese Economy implodes.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Donald and Islam


For John, BLUFHere is a different spin on Mr Trump and Islam in the Middle East.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Over at PJ Media Author Roger Simon gives us "Trump, Ryan and the Islam Problem".

I love the picture.  It is The Donald reading Submission, by Michel Houellebecq.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, May 27, 2016

Doctoring the News


For John, BLUFThis tends to be an indictment of the whole gang. City Life aside.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Katie Couric Decried ‘Edited’ Planned Parenthood Footage, Then Doctored A Gun Owner Interview

Here is the sub-headline:
When the Planned Parenthood videos broke, Katie Couric jumped on the campaign to discredit them as 'edited.'  Her new gun control documentary is inexcusable.
This is from The Federalist, by Ms Mollie Hemingway.

The lede:

A new Katie Couric documentary advocating gun control was deceptively edited to make Second Amendment supporters look foolish, audio released by the supporters shows.
As Professor Reynolds says, Democrat operatives with bylines.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pauline Kael Lives


For John, BLUFThey live in a bubble.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is a great lead in line from Ed Driscoll:
AND THIS YEAR, THE ROLE OF PAULINE KAEL WILL BE PLAYED BY… CBS This Morning Host Gayle King:  Nobody at Party I Was at Last Night Cares About Clinton’s Emails:
Pauline Kael?  She is quoted as saying, in a New Yorker article:
I live in a rather special world.  I only know one person who voted for Nixon.  Where they are I don't know.  They're outside my ken.  But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them.
This is why the Press was not able to warn the Party Elites about the possible rise of Mr Donald Trump.  This is why the Press is not able to help the Party Elites deal with Mr Trump passing the magic number of 1237 Delegates for the Convention.  Heck, this is why they don't understand Bernie.

Anyway, a great little snippet, with explanations and links.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Limiting Government


For John, BLUFYes, the Press would cover for a President Hillary Clinton, rather than doing their job.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"Why the president needs to be white, male and Republican: Glenn Reynolds"

The sub-headline:
Media watchdogs snoozed while Obama expanded executive power. They'll wake up and bite when it's Trump.
Here is the lede:
The press has done a lousy job of protecting American freedoms in recent years.  But I have a modest proposal for improving press performance:  Elect a white male Republican.
Like Benghazi, where the press totally ignored how the Administration stepped all over the Freedom of the Press.  It was a little item, a 14 minute movie trailer, but those little precedents can be used against the big boys later on.  Short sighted on the part of the Press.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Note for Jack:  "modest proposal" is a Republican "dog whistle" for political satire.
  Lawyers have no shame.
  No, I do not think the Administration's actions lead to the death of the four Americans in Benghazi.  Do I think they should have been more forward leaning?  Yes, in the event the terrorists had other targets in mind.

Racism


For John, BLUFAll studies need to be questioned.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"The surprising relationship between intelligence and racism"

A new study designed to examine the relationship between verbal intelligence and attitudes on race and racial policies offers some surprising results.
Or so says the headline writer for The Christian Science Monitor, for the article by Correspondent Husna Haq.

Here is the lede plus two:

Are smart people less racist than their less-intelligent peers?

That was the question asked in a new study that examined the relationship between verbal intelligence and attitudes on race and racial policies.

The findings may surprise some: While people who score higher on intelligence tests are less likely to hold racist stereotypes (such as imagining that people of another race are lazy or unintelligent), they're no more likely to support government policies that aim to reduce racial inequality.  For example, while 95 percent of study participants who scored higher on the intelligence test said that black and white children should attend the same schools, only 22 percent support school-busing programs.

That is one way to read the results.  Another way is that people who score higher on intelligence tests are less sanguine about the ability of government policies to reduce racial inequality.

It has been over half a century since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  I had hopes for the Obama Administration.  In particular, I had hopes for Attorney General Eric Holder.  Sadly, he was the biggest disappointment, for me, in the whole Administration.  I continue to be hopeful about Mr Holder's replacement, Ms Loretta Lynch.

I believe we are at the point where the issue is jobs and assimilation.  Hispanics have an employment rate that is the same as the national average, but Black Males do not.  The Black Male rate is almost double the national rate.  Black Women are just under two percentage points off the national number, for men or women.

We need to improve Black Male employment.  That is the first step.

And then we need to help people assimilate.  The recent riot in New Mexico, against Candidate Trump, where the protestors displayed the flag of Mexico, is an example of a group that doesn't understand being American.  Frankly, you do better when you embrace the place you live, Nation, State, County and City/Town/Village.  Even I know that.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  But, we shouldn't forget the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which unleashed the voter registration drives that lead to major efforts at voter registration, and the high water mark of open resistance to Civil Rights in the South.

Israel and Palestine


For John, BLUFBernie appointed to the Democratic Party Platform Committee someone who is anti-Israel.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



A column from the past, by Mr Eric Hoffer, who understands the issue of The True Believer.

"A WARNING FROM 1968:  Remembering Eric Hoffer's profound words about Israel and the Jews."

Good read.

And quick.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pronouncing Where the President is Going


For John, BLUFForeign names are hard.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Pronunciation of Hiroshima.

From AP Reporter Yuri Kageyama.

Hat tip to a friend who is a former reporter.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ms Clinton's EMail Server


For John, BLUFEqual justice for all.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here is the Department of State Inspector General Report:  "Office of the Secretary:  Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements" (ESP-16-03).

In The Washington Post Reporters Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger give us "State Dept. inspector general report sharply criticizes Clinton’s email practices".

Their lede is:

The State Department’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that Clinton failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private server and that agency staff members would not have given their blessing if it had been sought because of “security risks.”
Even the decidedly Progressive Nation of Change took an even tone on this report, playing it straight.

Reporter Alexandra Jacobo gives us "Hillary Clinton Criticized by the State Department for Improper Email Practices".

The lede and report quote follow are:

A new report released by the State Department Inspector General critics Hillary Clinton, stating that she failed to follow the rules in regards to her use of a private email server. Clinton also failed to inform key department staff of her practices:
At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.
BINGO:  "Federal Records Act".  That is the Act of Congress that says records must be preserved.  Those records are the basis of the history of our nation.  While news coverage is the first draft of history, when the professional historians dig in they sometimes turn things around.  But they need those records to dig in.  The Department of State Historian needs those records to publish the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

Ms Clinton done wrong.  Not a hanging offense.  But, nevertheless, something needs to be done.  I recommend that she have an office call with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  She admit to the facts and pay a $10,000 fine.  And she issue an official statement admitting that she shouldn't have done it.

It isn't so much that we need to punish Ms Clinton as we need to warn off the next Secretary of State.  Oh, and restore the confidence of the Citizenry in the idea that when it comes to the law, to justice, there is one standard for all.  Otherwise you get Bernie and The Donald.

Regards  —  Cliff

Speaking Truth to Power


For John, BLUFOnce in a while truth is spoken on the floor of the US Senate.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



TOM COTTON TELLS THE TRUTH ABOUT HARRY REID

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Yuge" Press Blunder


For John, BLUFHe was being investigated so he HAD to be a Republican.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



I heard this on Howie Carr last evening—just the lead-in line.

Breaking the news to CNBC viewers early Monday evening about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe being investigated by the FBI, chief Washington correspondent John Harwood slipped and referred to McAuliffe as “the second consecutive Republican Governor to face a corruption investigation” following predecessor and actual Republican Bob McDonnell.
I got this lede here, from News Busters.

By the way, Republican Bob McDonnell is appealing his conviction.

In the mean time, in case you missed the joke, current Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is a Democrat, and a "Yuge" supporter of Ms Hillary Clinton (and her husband).

I am guessing Reporter Harwood lives in Maryland.

Oh, and the InstaPundit often describes the media as "Democrat Operatives with bylines".  Just saying.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Becoming More Latin in Our Culture


For John, BLUFMaybe your milage differs.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The following is an OpEd by Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds in USA Today.

When leaders cheat, followers ... follow

The sub-headline is "The trust that underlies a law-abiding society is rotting away thanks to double-dealing in Washington."

Here is the lede plus two paragraphs:

The state is “a gang of thieves writ large,” economist Murray Rothbard is said to have remarked. I’ve always viewed that sort of comment with a bit of skepticism. But now I’m beginning to wonder.

I wonder more when I read things like this report from the Washington Examiner: “The CIA's inspector general is claiming it inadvertently destroyed its only copy of a classified, three-volume Senate report on torture, prompting a leading senator to ask for reassurance that it was in fact ‘an accident.’”

Here’s a hint: It very likely wasn’t.

Here is the money paragraph:
Being law-abiding for its own sake is a traditional part of bourgeois culture, and our ruling class has lately treated the bourgeoisie with contempt as well.  Which raises the risk that this contempt will be returned.
We enjoy the benefits of a free society because we have cultivated a bourgeois culture.

The piece raises some questions about Government performance and how that performance filters down to junior members of the Civil Service (or the Military) and eventually to how the Citizenry responds.  The phrase I like is “The trust that underlies a law-abiding society…”.  I don’t expect the police to try to shake me down and I don’t expect anyone to try and bribe me to get a liquor license here in Lowell, or a used car lot license, or a pawn shop license (I am a license commissioner).

Were this a partisan issue it would be easy enough to fix, come November.  But, I fear, it is not.  It is a culture change.  Not everyone.  Not even a majority.  But a trend.

Hat tip to Memeorandum.

Regards  —  Cliff

Admitting You May Have Been Mistaken


For John, BLUFIt is hard to see a dream die.  Better to just quietly walk away than admit you misread the situation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This is how it reads at the InstaPundit:

BECAUSE THEY NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR ANYTHING, AND THEY DON’T CARE HOW MANY PEOPLE SUFFER AS LONG AS THEY GET TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES:  Why Won’t The Left Apologize For Backing Venezuela?

It is a good question.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, May 23, 2016

The President Travels


For John, BLUFThe trip is fine, but the facts need to be straight.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The President is trying to do good, as he sees it.  Mr Edward-Issac Dovere, of Politico, examines it.

"Obama's 'apology' complex"

Here is the sub-headline:

Why this president sees himself as a force for confronting complicated truths about the past.
And here is the lede plus two:
Seven years after kicking off his presidency with a famous speech in Cairo reaching out to the Arab world, but that skipped Israel, Barack Obama is about to bookend it with one of his last big trips on Air Force One, landing first here in Vietnam before going on to Hiroshima, Japan.

Obama’s critics call stops like this an apology tour. He and his White House aides call it “reckoning with history.” Some prefer “coming to grips with history.”

These trips are deliberate, ordered up by a president whose foreign policy has been shaped by a sense of himself as a catalyst forcing the world to deal with the past in order to deal with the future, according to current and former officials close to the president. He’s going to Vietnam to deal with China, and he’s going to Hiroshima to deal with North Korea.

Then we get down to this paragraph.
That’s why South Korea, though not part of Obama’s itinerary or meetings, is cheering the Hiroshima visit — not because he might stop by the cenotaph at the site to mark the estimated 45,000 Koreans who were among the 400,000 killed as the Enola Gay flew away, but in the hopes Obama’s visit will be what a South Korean official expressed hope would be “a signal to North Korea against its nuclear ambitions.”
400,000 killed in the initial blast?

As the event fades into the past "Little Boy" becomes more and more powerful.

The reality is that 70,000 to 80,000 were killed outright by the bomb.  This is the commonly accepted number and the author is just plain wrong.  And the Politico Fact Checkers asleep.

The strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrendous events, but let us not make them worse than they were.  It is likely they saved a lot of Japanese lives, both military and civilian.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Who Is Going To Prop Up Venezuela?


For John, BLUFWhat is the "Left" saying in the US?  Joe for Oil, for example?  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Guido Fawkes, at Order, Order, gives us "Hard Left Silent Over Venezuela Chaos".

In case you didn't know, hamburger is selling for $170 a pound.  On the Black Market it is 1/100th that, but for the average person in Venezuela it is hard.

From Guido, talking about the British Left,

The pro-Chavez cabal at the heart of the British left threw their full support behind President Maduro’s socialist tyranny when he took over Venezuela in 2013. Owen Jones, Seumus Milne, Diane Abbott and even Jeremy Corbyn all piled in to support the regime, with Corbyn’s spin doctor Seamus Milne declaring “Venezuela and its progressive allies in Latin America matter to the rest of the world… because they have demonstrated that there are multiple social and economic alternatives to the failed neoliberal system that still has the west and its allies in its grip.” So where do they stand on Maduro now…

Neither Jones nor Milne have mentioned Venezuela on Twitter in a year, while Abbott and Corbyn have remained silent now for three. The failed Maduro regime, now falling apart, was always going to be the tyrannical logical conclusion of Chavez’s policies that these left-wingers ardently advocated at home and abroad. Shortages, hyper-inflation, riots, the regime’s continued crackdown on opposing voices and recent threats to nationalise private industries as a way to “radicalise the revolution“ show all the hallmarks of a desperate regime on the verge of collapse. The Corbynista “economic alternative” model has failed spectacularly in Venezeula…

Yes, the free market has its problems, but with Socialism "you eventually run out of other peoples' money" and then it is time for tyranny.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Use of Nuclear Weapons


For John, BLUFFor sure, we don't want to use nuclear weapons in a less than existential situation.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



President Obama is going to Hiroshima.  There are questions as to what he might say.  In light of the visit professors Scott D Sagan and Benjamin A Valentino explore how Americans feel about the current options for using nuclear weapons.  The source is The Wall Street Journal.

Would the U.S. Drop the Bomb Again?

The sub-headline is:
Public opinion supported the strike on Hiroshima—and if provoked, many Americans might well back nuclear attacks on foes like Iran and al Qaeda
Here is the lede:
The White House’s recent announcement that President Barack Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima has sparked an intense debate among politicians and pundits over what he should or should not say there.  The president’s advisers insist that he “will not revisit the decision” to use nuclear weapons on that city in August 1945.

But the controversy has focused too narrowly on historical questions.  We might instead ask whether the U.S., in similar circumstances today, would drop the bomb again.  Our own research has found that the American public is surprisingly open to that prospect.

To explore the issue of nuclear use the authors proposed the following scenario.
To explore how the U.S. public might react today to such choices, we asked YouGov last July to survey a representative sample of 620 Americans about a scenario evoking a 21st-century Pearl Harbor.  To echo the dilemma the U.S. faced in August 1945, participants read a mock news article in which the U.S. places severe sanctions on Iran over allegations that Tehran has been caught violating the 2015 nuclear deal.  In response, Iran attacks a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, killing 2,403 military personnel (the same number killed by Japan at Pearl Harbor in 1941).

Congress then declares war on Iran, and the president demands that Iran’s leadership accept “unconditional surrender.”  U.S. generals give the president two options: mount a land invasion to reach Tehran and force the Iranian government to capitulate (at an estimated cost of 20,000 American fatalities), or shock Iran into unconditional surrender by dropping a single nuclear weapon on a major city near Tehran, killing an estimated 100,000 Iranian civilians (similar to the immediate death toll in Hiroshima).  The poll’s participants were reminded that Iran doesn’t yet have an atomic weapon of its own.

With this scenario the researchers found that 59% of those polled would back dropping a "small" nuclear weapon on an Iranian City.  Even if the casualty toll was to be an estimated two million (a larger weapon), the result was 59%.

At this point I state that I have done nuclear target planning and have sat nuclear alert.  For a short period I was the "nuclear" planning officer for the NATO Air Headquarters in the Mediterranean.  I have thought about this thing a little bit.

With that out of the way, I am appalled that 59% of our fellow citizens would go along with a nuclear strike on Iran.  This represents a failure on the part of the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch to educate the citizenry.  And a failure on the part the Press.  And Academia.

The scenario is deficient.  What about using our seapower and airpower and sinking the Iranian Navy and blockading her ports?  What about a conventional air attack on Iran, destroying this or that aspect of its economy?  We could look at Air Force Colonel John Warden and his Five Rings.

Yes, it is a bogus question and our voters didn't pick it up.  Those who would like to abolish nuclear weapons should take note of this.

But, basically, I think this is the wrong scenario.

A better scenario would be Da'ish gets the upper hand and unites the Arab Muslims and then mounts an effort to reclaim Andalusia and the Balkans.  Hundres of thousands die and beheadings and crucifixions follow the advancing Da'ish armies, as provinces fall to their armies.  European armies are faltering.  It is the Da'ish promise of recovering all the lost territories.

The US and Canada can't get enough forces there in time to hold forward positions to prevent Spain and parts of Austria, Hungary and Slovenia from falling.

Now what would you decide?  Is a free Spain worth a small nuclear weapon?

An additional question worth asking is if Muslims in France, Germany and the BENELUX are supportive of their national Governments or of the Muslim invaders?

And, there is the question of what the French will do with their Force de Frappe or the British with their nuclear force?

Equally important, in this scenario, is what role is Russia playing, as the Slavs are being devoured in the East?  Have they already used nuclear weapons?  What is China up to?

Now you have a place where the use of nuclear weapons might be in order.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Dr. Sagan is professor of political science and senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Dr. Valentino is associate professor of government at Dartmouth College.
  In NATO parlance Strike is nuclear and Attack is conventional.  From my time in NATO, we had Fighter Bomber Attack (FBA) aircraft, say the Fiat G-91, Fighter Bomber Strike (FBS), say the Italian F-104S and Dual Capable aircraft (DUC, pronounced duck), say the F-4 or F‑111.
  ISIL or ISIS, if you prefer.
  Mexico fought with the Allies in WWII.  Will they join this fight?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fearing the Past Will Repeat


For John, BLUFLife is hard and then you find yourself in a Presidential Election Year.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The Hill we have this warning:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is warning Bernie Sanders against inspiring the type of chaos that plagued the 1968 Democratic convention.

“It worries me a great deal,” she said Wednesday on CNN.  "I don’t want to go back to the '68 convention because I worry about what it does to the electorate as a whole. And he should too.”

The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago was marred by violent clashes between protesters and police.

Nevada’s state Democratic convention Saturday erupted in turmoil when Sanders supporters began loudly protesting the results and booing Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) as she spoke.

Which brings up the fact that Author Michael Cohen has written about the 1968 election, American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division.  This will have the spin of the Democratic Party side, but should still be interesting.

But, back to Senator Boxer, we have this—"SENATOR BOXER Claims Bernie Supporters Made Her Fear for Her Life: “It Was Scary” (VIDEO)".

Then there is the other California Senator, DiFi, who raises the same threat of chaos.

People who suggest that there is violence associated with the Trump Campaign miss the point that the violence is coming from the other side.

Regards  —  Cliff

Blogging Errors


For John, BLUFThe truth is inherently good.  Nothing to see here; just move along.


Bloggers behaving badly:  Krugman and DeLong edition

Writing in the Volokh Conspiracy Column in The Washington Post, Mr Jonathan H. Adler says that Economics Professor and NYT Columnist Paul Krugman needs to do a better job of owning up to his errors:
False accusations can travel throughout the blogosphere before the truth has even logged in.  When newspapers make mistakes or false accusations, they publish corrections.  That’s not always the case with bloggers, however.  And sometimes it seems the more prominent the blogger, the less likely a correction will be made.

A recent example comes from noted economist Paul Krugman, a columnist and blogger with the New York Times.  On Sunday, Krugman authored a short post taking swipes at the Cato Institute.  In this post, Krugman recounted how Cato allegedly “suppressed” a paper by economist David Glasner — a charge Glasner initially made on his blog.  This story, Krugman claimed, illustrated the Cato Institute’s “long-standing habit of trying to send inconvenient history down the memory hole.”

It turns out that Krugman’s charge is false, however.

Oh, and he scorches Harvard Professor Brad DeLong in the same offering.

Please blog responsibly.  Admits your errors.  Stop giving the rest of us a bad name.

Don't be like Professor Paul Krugman or Author Gore Vidal.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit and Professor Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Not safe for polite company, notwithstanding being published in The New York Review of Books.

Team Names


For John, BLUFThere are more important issues out there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name"

This is Washington Post "Local News", by John Woodrow Cox, Scott Clement and Theresa Vargas.
Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.

The survey of 504 people across every state and the District reveals that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the same result. Responses to The Post’s questions about the issue were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservations.

So, who is pushing the idea of changing the name of the Washington Redskins?  A disaffected minority?  Federal bureaucrats?  The Mainstream Media?  University professors?  Social Justice Warriors (SJW)?

And, of course, my perennial question—Why worry about the Skins when US One, snaking through Virginia, from the 14th Street Bridge, is the Jeff Davis Highway?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Middle name Finis.  The Worst Democrat President, ever.

The Why of Political Parties


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



Wild Parties: In Defense of Political Factions

In this article Writer Adam Gopnik, of The New Yorker, explains our political party system:
One of the weirder things about the current Presidential campaign is the outrage shown—you might almost say the umbrage taken—over party rules perceived as anti-democratic or unfair.  This cuts in both directions.  Bernie Sanders supporters are outraged by the presence of superdelegates, usually darkly described as party bosses, presumably complete with well-chewed cigars and derby hats and jobs for the boys, instead of the weary, long-serving, middle-ranking legislators they mostly are. Why do they get to vote?  At the same time, Hillary-ites are outraged that a handful of quixotic caucus-goers get an outsize voice against actual hardworking voters. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is outraged to find that any rules exist at all that require his close attention—that he must, so to speak, read the rules on the inside of the game box in order to win.  Bernie merely grumbles, while Trump threatens not to threaten violence.  (New York values, indeed: Nice little convention you have here; be a shame if anything happens to it.)  Both arguments show a poor understanding of what a party is.

A political party is not an institution of democratic government.  A political party is an instrument of democratic government.  An institution of democracy has an obligation to be democratic. But an instrument of democracy can take whatever form it wants.  Lobbyists, pressure groups, and the free press—a political party is more like any of these than it is like a branch of government.  We can form a political party whose sole end is to promote the candidacy of Lyndon LaRouche or Captain Kangaroo or whomever we want, just as we can run a newspaper that makes comically ill-reasoned endorsements of obviously unfit candidates.  No one might join the party, as no one might read the paper.  But a political party it would be.  Parties make up their own rules to suit themselves, as papers may choose their candidates to please their publisher.  Generally, the way we choose convention delegates has become more democratic in recent years, but, in the wake of several lopsided losses, the Democratic Party decided that it ought to have adult supervision in place at its conventions, and that some people who had given their working lives to the Party should be part of it.  This may be a very bad idea, and it would be easy for Democrats to change it: they would just have to vote for new rules. But the existence of these rules is not in any sense unfair or undemocratic.  It is just part of what it means to have a political party.  Similarly, Ted Cruz is not cheating by figuring out how to get more delegates than the raw vote might indicate he deserves.  Donald Trump, Jr., what with his father losing all of Colorado’s delegates to Cruz, said that he thought the United States was starting to feel like Communist China.  But pluralities, majorities, ballots, and delegates—parties can make up their own rules about such things as they please.  And politicians who are smart enough to rule learn the rules before they play the game.

Aside from the snarky comments about Mr Trump, and the outright distortion of who is bring violence to the campaign trail, this isn't a bad article.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bill of Rights Wins Again


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



From the pen of Ms Liz Sheld, and Pajama Media We have "Court: D.C. Concealed-Carry Law 'Probably' Unconstitutional
Two days in a row with good Second Amendment news.

On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that Washington.  D.C.'s restrictive concealed-carry rules are "probably" unconstitutional and ordered District police to stop enforcing the rule that requires an applicant to show "good reason" for needing to conceal a firearm.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon explained that the D.C. law violates the “core right of self-defense” articulated in the Second Amendment, dismissing claims by local officials that the city needs to regulate firearms to prevent crime.

One wonders how this would apply here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Based on my experience, no impact.  An out of district ruling regarding taxing of military retired pay was ignored by our betters on Beacon Hill.  Only when there was the threat of a local case did the Commonwealth fold.

Hat tip to the Pajamas Media.

Regards  —  Cliff

Looking Forward


For John, BLUFIn politics only the Kim family lasts for ever.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



A couple of my friends, one from New Hamshire and one from Florida, think the President is intent upon creating his legacy by totally transforming the nation into something new and different, in a Progressive sort of way.

While I realize that this is, from a foreign policy point of view, a very dangerous 10 months in front of us (eight for President Obama and two for the new President) from a domestic point of view President Obama can make superficial changes, but permanent changes will require more than the time he has left.

The way I put it was:

… even he is not capable of permanently transforming the nation.  That requires us to change who we are.  It is time to forget Mr Obama and think about who the House of Representatives will give us in January.
Yes, the current administration is fading into history. Even as the US Senate considers a new Secretary of the Army, other political appointees are burnishing their resumes, in the knowledge that they will be looking for work soon.  There is a season for everything.

Regards  —  Cliff

Hillary or Bill


For John, BLUFAnd Mr Trump alluded to President Clinton's bimbo problem in response.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing in Power Line, Mr John Hinderer told us "HILLARY MIGHT HAVE JUST MADE HER WORST MISTAKE EVER".
At a campaign stop in Kentucky, Hillary Clinton told the crowd that if she were president, she would put her husband Bill “in charge of revitalizing the economy.” The impulse is understandable. The economy of the 1990s was good, or seemed to be prior to the collapse of the dot com bubble.

But Hillary’s promise to bring back Bill and put him “in charge of” the economy is, I think, a horrible blunder.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

There is Good News Tonight


For John, BLUFNow, if the members of the Massachusetts General Court can bestir themselves, this would be a good move for us also.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This is a little late (a month late), but it is good news for citizens.

Nebraska Just Abolished Civil Forfeiture, Now Requires A Criminal Conviction To Take Property

From Forbes we have Reporter Nick Sibilla writing:
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill on Tuesday that eliminates civil forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to seize and keep property without filing charges or securing criminal convictions. The bill, LB 1106, passed the unicameral legislature last week by a vote of 38 to 8.

Civil forfeiture has ensnared a wide swath of victims in Nebraska. A Peruvian pastor once had $14,000 seized during a traffic stop. Only after the local chapter of the ACLU intervened was he able to recover his cash. Last year, a federal appellate court upheld forfeiting more than $63,000 in savings from a decorated Air Force veteran, even though he was never charged with a crime.

Yes, the rule of law, with justice by the courts and not by government bureaucracies.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

You Lost, They Won


For John, BLUFWell that is the view from Harvard Law School.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Here we have two versions of the same story:

From The New Boston Post

Harvard prof says treat conservative ‘losers’ like post-war Germans

And from NewsMax

Harvard Prof to Liberals: Treat Conservatives Like Nazis

From The New Boston Post we have this lede:
CAMBRIDGE — Liberals have won the culture wars, and should start taking advantage of their victory, Harvard Law School Professor Mark Tushnet wrote in a recent blog entry that has drawn much attention for suggesting conservatives should be treated like post-war Germans and Japanese.

Tushnet, who teaches constitutional and civil rights law, argues on the 13-year-old Balkinization blog that with the U.S. Supreme Court no longer dominated by conservative justices, it’s time for liberal lawyers to ditch their “defensive-crouch constitutionalism.”

“The culture wars are over; they lost, we won,” he wrote, referring to conservatives as “they” and including himself among the liberals. “And they had opportunities to reach a cease fire, but rejected them in favor of a scorched earth policy. The earth that was scorched, though, was their own.”

Here is the lede from NewsMax:
A Harvard law professor has proposed dealing with what he calls conservative "losers in the culture wars" with a hard line similar to what was done to Germany and Japan after World War II.

His suggestion comes in a blog post at Balkanization outlining what he says should be an abrupt change in mindset of liberal thinkers to finally abandon "defensive-crouch constitutionalism" in a desire to shape the courts and their rulings.

The professor says:
The culture wars are over; they lost, we won.
By the way, in Post-WWII Germany, in the Western Zone, there were trials of members of the National Socialist Government, but the fact is that the Allies needed former Nazis to make the system work.  Yes, "they" lost, but most of them were allowed to continuing functioning, but under a new set of rules.  The Professor is weak on history.

Regards  —  Cliff

Which Venezuela?


For John, BLUFSocialism built on a sound base of free enterprise does pretty well for a while.  However, when you destroy the base everything else falls apart.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Last week Salon had an article by Mr David Sirota, praising the late Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, "Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle".

The subheadline was "The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical.  But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains."

Here is the lede:

For the last decade in American politics, Hugo Chavez became a potent political weapon – within a few years of his ascent, he was transformed from just a leader of a neighboring nation into a boogeyman synonymous with extremism. Regularly invoked in over-the-top political rhetoric, Chavez’s name became a decontextualized epithet to try to attach to a political opponent so as to make that opponent look like a radical. Because of this, America barely flinched upon hearing the news that the Bush administration tried to orchestrate a coup against the democratically elected Venezuelan leader.
And here is how the article ends:
Likewise, in a United States whose poverty rate is skyrocketing, are there any lessons to be learned from Venezuela’s policies that so rapidly reduced poverty?

And in a United States that has become more unequal than many Latin American nations, are there any constructive lessons to be learned from Chavez’s grand experiment with more aggressive redistribution?

No doubt, there are few absolutely clear answers to those uncomfortable questions, if those questions are assessed honestly. Most likely, in fact, the answers are murky. But such questions need to be asked.  The problem is that even gently raising them typically gets one tarred and feathered as a communist and then inevitably called a Hugo Chavez pal (even if Chavez’s overall record is also being criticized!).  At the moment Chavez’s name is invoked, the conversation is inevitably terminated, ending any possibility of discourse.

That is by design – it is what the longtime caricaturing and marginalizing of Chavez was always supposed to do. But maybe now that the iconoclast is dead, the cartoon will end.  Maybe now Chavez’s easily ridiculed bombast can no longer be used to distract from Venezuela’s record – and, thus, a more constructive, honest and critical economic conversation can finally begin.

So there you have it.  We should try to emulate the economic approach of President Hugo Chavez, Bolivarianism.


In contrast to this condemnation of US Policy and US Economics, we have this article from Mr Nicholas Caseymay, of The New York Times:

Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals.

BARCELONA, Venezuela — By morning, three newborns were already dead.

The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.

Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.

“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.

The economic crisis in this country has exploded into a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans.  It is just part of a larger unraveling here that has become so severe it has prompted President Nicolás Maduro to impose a state of emergency and has raised fears of a government collapse.

Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged.  Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals.  Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market.  There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.

At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table.  Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.

“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.

The figures are devastating.  The rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry, to just over 2 percent in 2015 from 0.02 percent in 2012, according to a government report provided by lawmakers.

The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period, according to the report.

There you have it, in Venezuela death is the great equalizer.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Which sounds an awful lot like the Kim Family approach of JucheThat isn't working out so well either.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Super Delegates Under Threat?


For John, BLUFA Convention, probably not at Taxpayer expense.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



The headline of this Nation of Change article is a little misleading.  It reads:

First Democratic Convention Abolishes Superdelegates

What it means is that the Maine Democratic Convention, back on 8 May, voted on the issue of Super Delegates.
An amendment was just passed to eliminate the influence of superdelegates at the Maine Democratic Party’s statewide convention.

“I never expected this kind of response from the amendment,” Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), who introduced the amendment, said in a phone interview. “I’m suddenly seen as the hero of the convention.”

Maine’s superdelegate votes will now be allocated proportionally according to the overall popular vote. Each superdelegate used to have complete independence.

The Maine Democratic Party is now focusing on getting the DNC to get rid of the superdelegate system on a national level.

A step toward democracy, as reported by Ms Marlee Kokotovic.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Last Casablanca Actor Dies (RIP)


For John, BLUFA great movie.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"Madeleine LeBeau, French actress who sang ‘La Marseillaise’ in ‘Casablanca,’ dies at 92".

The source is The Washington Post and the Reporter is Mr Adam Bernstein.

Madeleine LeBeau, a French actress who fled Nazi-occupied Europe for Hollywood, where she made the best of a small role as the scorned girlfriend of Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine in “Casablanca,” died May 1 in Estepona, Spain. She was widely reported to be 92.

The cause was complications from a broken thigh bone, her stepson, documentary filmmaker and mountaineer Carlo Alberto Pinelli, told the Hollywood Reporter.

Ms. LeBeau (sometimes credited as Lebeau) was the last surviving credited cast member of “Casablanca” (1942), which the American Film Institute lists as the second greatest movie of all time. “Citizen Kane” is No. 1, according to the film preservation group.

Sad news, but we will always have Paris.

Regards  —  Cliff

Julius La Rosa (RIP)


For John, BLUFTake a licking and keep on ticking.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Julius La Rosa has passed on to his just reward.  Likely better than what he got from show host Author Godfrey.

Mr La Rosa, who had a great singing voice, passed away at 86, from natural causes.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Who I met once in late 1966, when Mr Godfrey, himself a pilot, was doing a USO tour in Viet-nam and stopped by our Squadron Operations Building (390th TFS, the Blue Boars).
  I always wonder what that is a euphemism for.

Mao Revisited


For John, BLUFPeople who believe they know the truth, and you need to know it too, can be dangerous.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"'We thought Mao was doing a wonderful thing,' says British Red Guard 50 years after China's Cultural Revolution"

Writing in The Telegraph [London], Reporter Neil Connor, in Beijing, talked to a British Citizen who reminisced about the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

From Wikipedia:

The Revolution was launched in May 1966, after Mao alleged that bourgeois elements had infiltrated the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. He insisted that these "revisionists" be removed through violent class struggle. China's youth responded to Mao's appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. The movement spread into the military, urban workers, and the Communist Party leadership itself. It resulted in widespread factional struggles in all walks of life. In the top leadership, it led to a mass purge of senior officials, most notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. During the same period Mao's personality cult grew to immense proportions.
The death toll ranges from a mere 400,000 upwards toward 3 million.  Minorities took a disproportionate proportion of the punishment. But, back to the news article, the lede plus five says:
As a philosophy dedicated to eradicating all traces of bourgeois life from society, it is perhaps no surprise that the Cultural Revolution’s 50th anniversary next week is expected to be a somewhat muted affair.

No official events are planned, and in a land with an ever-widening middle class and growing ranks of billionaires, there is little appetite for the peasant lifestyle it championed.

But half a century on from China’s most radical and violent period of social upheaval, one unlikely figure will be marking the occasion with at least a touch of nostalgia.

Michael Crook, a Briton whose Communist father moved to China before the Second World War, was one of a handful of foreigners living in the country when Mao launched an all-out class war.

In May 1966, Mao ordered the young to rebel against the “four olds” – old customs, old culture, old habits and old ideas – and 15-year-old Mr Crook took the message to heart.

Far from worrying that he too could come under suspicion because of his Western background, he was among the first of his classmates to sign up for the Red Guard – the fanatical student group that became the revolution’s most devoted enforcers.

I know there are a number of people who admire Mao.  I heard one holding forth on NPR a couple of years ago.  Used the "You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet" expression.  I wonder how many humans that equates to?  How many dead humans, killed (murdered) because they didn't hold the right ideas, or were seen as a threat to the revolution?

There is this, however,

…there weren't layoffs under Mao. (There also wasn't an economy, but that's a different matter.
Regards  —  Cliff

Trump and Mexico


For John, BLUFThis political year nothing is what it seems.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From PJ Media we have Mr Roger L Simon's "Diary of a Mad Voter" and "Can Trump Save Mexico?"
I love Mexico. I have been there dozens of times from the border to the Chiapas jungle.  I love almost everything about it.

But like so many, I detest their government.  It has been a disaster longer than I have been alive.  And glorious as the art and architecture may be, there's that other more depressing Mexico -- the land of El Chapo, mordidas and murder -- the desperate barrios you see from the cab if you accidentally stray from the Zona Rosa or Polanco or one of the other tony neighborhoods of the Distrito Federal.  This is the world's capital of income inequality.

Mexico, wonderful as it is to visit, is intolerably corrupt.  Corruption in Mexico even merits its own Wikipedia entry.  Most of us who have been there on multiple occasions have experienced it.  I have paid a mordida to their cops myself more than once for traffic infractions I didn't commit to avoid being hauled off to jail.  It's just the price you pay for enjoying yourself down there, sort of like meeting the troll at the bridge.

And, one wonders if the legalization of drugs will avoid this kind of corruption in the US, or bring it on.

What none of us want, I would think, is for 43 college students from one college to go missing.  Apparently stopped by the police and turned over to a local crime syndicate to be dealt with.  And, of course, the allegation of torture in last week.  Torture of the suspects in the disappearance of the college students.

And, there is the myth of Mr Trump vs the reality of Mexico, which many deny.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  You know you have hit the skids when the term "disappeared" enters your language as a verb.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dilute My Vote?


For John, BLUFWhen it comers to voting, I believe silence is consent.  You don't vote because you are not willing to play.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"Why whites control Lowell city government"

Here is a long analysis by Lowell Resident Ted Siefer, in Commonwealth Magazine.

The thesis from Mr Siefer is "Voting system concentrates power in heavily white Belvidere."

It is not just bad analysis, it is rubbish.

The key to a voting system is—wait for it—voting.

Let's look at active voters (given that Wards and Precincts are of the same size, as per the law).

PRECINCT 1PRECINCT 2PRECINCT 3
1140 2215 1991
731 1407 1387
1194 1004 1027
1375 899 1272
1157 992 1400
1545 1677 1615
911 1085 865
1134 1442 1832
1163 1490 1335
1238 805 793
1225 1428 1374

That is a total of 42148 active voters out of 61323 registered voters.

The maximum number of voters is Ward 1, Precinct 2, at 2215.
The minimum number of voters is Ward 2, Precinct 1, at 731.

That makes a difference of 1484.  While it isn't a real "statistic", of the 33 precincts, 26 had fewer voters than the difference, the difference, between the top voting precinct and the bottom.

So, Mr Siefer should have focused, not on why The Belvidere elects City Councilors, but why other precincts are not voting.

For Ward 1, 82% of the registered voters bothered to vote (88% if one just looks at Precincts 2 and 3).  Only three other Wards have voting percentages over 70%.

The question is, what do we do to encourage voters in Ward 2, Precinct 1 to vote.  Or Ward 7.

For statistics geeks, the average is 1277 and the Standard Deviation is 337.

The other side of this is that gimmicks to give more voting power to other Precincts just dilutes my vote.  And that isn't right.

Regards  —  Cliff

The President Suggests We Are In A Post-Ideological Age


For John, BLUFAnd he is wrong on this score.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



"The Rise Of American Socialism"

This is from The Hoover Institute, way out at Stanford.  The author is Mr Paul Gregory.  He examines a talk by President Obama, in which the President says it isn't the ideology that counts, but doing the right thing.  At some level I agree with the President, but sometimes doing the right thing now goes wrong in the end.  It is like that catch phrase amongst bridge players, "A cheap trick now will cost you later".

Here are the lede and two following paragraphs:

Obama’s recent impromptu remarks to a Latin American audience provide a fleeting glimpse into how the American Left is preparing mainstream America for socialism.

In his unscripted talk in a town hall meeting in Argentina, Obama downplayed the “sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist.”  Notably, Obama characterized such divisions as “of the past,” as if they do not exist anymore.  Per Obama, we supposedly live in a post-modern ideology-free world.  Although capitalist-socialist-communist divisions “are interesting intellectual arguments,” he advised the young people of Argentina: “You don't have to worry about whether it neatly fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory—you should just decide what works.”  As an illustration, Obama praised Cuba’s universal health care system as a “huge achievement” while regretting that Cuba is “a very poor country.” Obama’s implication:  If Cuba just picked and chose wisely, it could have both its medical care system and a prosperous growing economy—no changes in the political system necessary.

So what to do in such a post-ideology world?  According to Obama, we must create “new forms that are adapted to the new conditions that we live in today.”  Although economies “rooted in market-based systems” are the most successful, “a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical and community basis, and there must be inclusion.”  No system is perfect; so we must craft an economic system that uses market forces to produce results that are inclusive and socially, morally, and ethically correct.  In Obama’s value-free world, practical judgments of what “works” should replace ideological considerations.

But then Professor Gregory suggests that ideology does matter and presents these two three legged stools as a graphic example of why.

If you don't have freedom to maneuver, politically and economically, you don't have freedom.  That means you are counting on the person at the top to make all the right decisions.  It is often the case that they can't.

Free enterprise has worked to provide a better standard of living for all who enjoy it.  Socialism has tended to be a continuation of feudalism under another name.  And we remember how that worked out.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Turns out I have used that phrase before, back on 30 September 2016, about Ms Clinton's health care plans.

Duterte ≠ Trump


For John, BLUFThis just made life for the next US President more complicated.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Most readers of this blog have not heard of Philippine President Elect Rodrigo Duterte, but once in a while I see him described as the Philippine Trump.  That is a vicious slur.  But, on to the headline from The Cipher Brief, for an article by Ms Erica Evans:

"Duterte in the hot seat"

Here is the lede plus one:
Foul-mouthed strongman, Rodrigo Duterte, declared victory in the Philippines’s presidential election this week after one of his rivals, Grace Poe, conceded to his insurmountable lead.

In the Philippines, his tough-on-crime platform has earned him the nickname “Duterte Harry” – a reference to Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry.”  But Americans know him as “the Filipino Donald Trump” for his populist campaign and disregard for political correctness.

Yes, President Elect Duterte is the one who said that since he was the Mayor (Davao City) he should have been first during the police gang rape of an Australian Missionary.  I am sure he thought he was being funny, but I think it was just a thoughtless and insensitive comment.  Then there is his promise to kill criminals—thousands.

But, beyond that bravado there is the question of foreign policy.  What will be his approach to the problems in the South China Sea and the Chinese appropriation of Philippine territory?  Will we be able to work with President Elect Duterte?  Will we be able to continue to fly missions out of bases in the Philippines?

Regards  —  Cliff