I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Monday, April 29, 2013

Enemy Combatants

So should the Boston bombers be classified as enemy combatants?

First of all what difference does that make? 
I believe that the difference is, basically, if you are an enemy combatant then you may be handled under military law and you do not have some of the procedural safeguards that are afforded to persons who are accused in accordance with civil law. 

Just a couple of side points here about who gets what?
No one “gives” you your Miranda rights (against being required to incriminate yourself.) when you are arrested.  The rights are given to you by the Constitution.  Officials “read” them to you so that the court can be sure that you are aware of them.  Not only that, if they fail to read them to you that doesn’t mean you get off, it just means that what they learn after not reading them cannot (normally) be used against you.
It sounds like some of the TV guys think that these civilian rights apply only to citizens.  Your constitution uses the expression “person”  as in “no person shall be twice put in jeopardy…  .”  It does not say no “citizen” … .

So should they be classified as enemy combatants?  It seems like first you should decide on who the enemy is first. That means recognize that we have a new situation and it is not a question of simply “figuring out what they are” and that what we need a general definition of enemy here.    

I would say the place to start would be with the list of terror organizations that the government keeps, they are among the enemy. Also any organization that declares itself to be at war with the U S is an enemy.  Anyone who is a member of or fights for such a group is an EC (enemy combatant).

It does not appear that these guys had a group.  So they are common criminals.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bob Dylan concert

I got out to see Dylan at his concert in Murray, KY on April 27.

Now, I knew that he was not going to be singing "The times they are a changin' ".  After all, like Joan Baez said, "The sixties are over so set him free."

 The first song lasted for about an hour.  At least the same beat went on for that long.  I'm not sure about the words which he sort of spit out so that I only understood about 5-7% of them.  I assumed that this was his current genre and there clearly was an audience for it.

They played for an hour and a half and then, mercifully, quit.

But it was Bob Dylan.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bush 43's legacy

The opening of the Bush 43 library has brought him back into the spotlight.  George W. Bush says that he is satisfied to have his presidency be judged by history.  (Not that he has any choice in the matter.)

I have noticed an interesting characteristic from some people on TV and from personal friends in the liberal reaction to Bush's attitude.  They find it amusing and irritating.

They find it amusing because they know that history's judgment is going to be negative and they find it odd that he seems to believe that it might be more positive than the present judgment. That I don't mind.  It is a difference of opinion.

But they also find it irritating.  I think that it is because they are so certain that they are right that they actually expect him to agree with them!  After all everybody they talk to thinks that Bush 43 was a disaster, how can he not know that that is what he was?  How can he have the temerity to disagree when they have told him what history's judgment is going to be.  It's insulting.

I think that you ought to cut a little slack to the people who are the first to deal with a new situation.  This whole terrorism thing is new.  The best way to deal with it is not yet clear even during the term of our second guy to deal with it.  Obama's targeted assasinations might eventually raise as many eyebrows as Bush's waterboarding has. There are some very large open questions out there about how to deal with this thing.  I believe that those who think that they already know what the final judgment is going to be are about as stupid as they claim that they think George Bush is.

Friday, April 26, 2013

George Jones, Sept 12, 1931 - April 26, 2013

"He stopped loving her today." - his most famous song.

I have listened to and liked the music of George Jones for over half a century.
Most of that time it was good and simple country music.

 A sample line:
"Oh the ways of the world and wants of a woman,
If I figured them all out, would take many yeeaaars."

My opinion of him went up dramatically a few years ago when he parted company with all of those wallow in blaming other people for their troubles.  His response to his drinking problem, which almost killed him on more than one occasion, was one of acceptance of responsibility.

and he sang it:

Choices  listen to it here

"I've had choices, since the day that I was born.
There were voices, that told me right from wrong.
If I had listened, no I wouldn't be here today.
Living and dying with the choices I've made."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Surveillance Cameras

In a recent comment concerning privacy rights and the use of surveillance cameras in public places Mayor Bloomberg said that present circumstances require us to “change our interpretation of the constitution”.

1.  I have no issues with the prolific use of surveillance cameras in public places.
2.   I have no issues with changing the Constitution using the change mechanisms defined in the constitution.
3.  I am (to be dramatic) horrified at the suggestion we should change our “interpretation” based on an agenda.

I sincerely hope that Mayor Bloomberg simply misspoke and does not truly believe what he actually said.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Immigration Proposal

This is a variation the post "Immigration 2" on 7-6-10.

Contrary to what most people would prefer I think that the first thing to do about the immigration problem is to deal with the source of the problem. The IIUWs (illegal immigrants - undocumented workers) do not come here because it is fun to risk their lives crossing the border. They come for work. Therefore the focus should be on employment not the border. (The border should be secured, but that should be done because of drugs and terrorists not IIUWs.)

This proposal includes "Universal E-verify" which means that unless you are registered with the government as having legal status you cannot work.  To require employers to confirm the legal status of new employees means that the government has to  maintain a system which is universal and easily used by employers (since they will face the penalty for violations). This requires only  that new employees prove their legal status when they take a job. It does not require that they carry “papers please” or any of the silly claptrap that we have heard from Rachel Maddow et al. More importantly new IIUWs will not have any reason to come.

Step two involves taking down those two signs that we have on the border: “help wanted” and “no trespassing”. Replace them with one sign that says “help wanted apply at the front door”. In addition to regular legal immigration (expanded  to include more highly skilled immigrants), the proposal will establish an expanded and accessible “work visa” program. Apply, pass a background check similar to what is done for immigrants and receive a work visa.

With those two things you have dealt with the essence of the long term problem.

Now for the folks who are already here illegally. Currently they may go home and stay for 10 years and then apply for immigration.  This proposal will allow them to stay here with legal status including the right to work.  On the grounds that getting citizenship after you have come into the country illegally should be harder than getting it after you come in legally, the proposal includes a very difficult path from "legal status" to "green card".  It is harder than I would prefer, but it does not seem outrageously tough.

Of course we could just continue what we are doing now and let their employers use these folks to keep wages low and our politicians use their situation to incite our Hispanic citizenry.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Boston Massacre 2013

Yesterday a bomb explded at the Boston Marathon killing several people and injuring many others.  It is, of course, very sad and your heart goes out to the people who are affected.

Soon enough one gets to the question:  What should we do about this kind of thing?

Obviously we should do what we can within the constraints of the rule of law.  However, I think that we can not prevent all such things and we have to accept the fact that this sort of thing is going to become, like car accidents, a regular sort of tragedy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Doublethink 1

This to invite your contributions of your favorite example of doublethink to this list.  Here's one of mine:

There are people who believe that government spending cannot possibly promote economic growth.

Many of the people who believe this also believe that Franklin D. Roosevelt did not "get us out of the great depression".  They believe that what got us out of the depression was the boom caused by all of that money that was spent on military equipment for WWII.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

MSU's President Dunn

I received the following email from a friend in reference to the local university in Murray, KY:

"What's going on with MSU? All I know is that apparently there were illegal secret meetings and Randy Dunn has been questionably non-renewed.

Is this just cyclical or is it to bring more attention to MSU or what..."

Here is the way it works.  
Every few years Deno Curris comes to Murray to stir things up and keep  us all from getting bored.
In the first instance he was the university president from 1973-1983.
In 1974 he fired a bunch of people contrary to the principles of the AAUP.  
In 1981 the board attempted to fire him contrary to the principles of contracts.
In 1982 his minions attempted to fire this author contrary to reason and justice - see My Tenure Biennium .  

In the current iteration he is the chairman of the Board of Regents.

So, seriously, what is happening? 
Stories can be found in the school paper, the Ledger and Times, and the Courier Journal.

My thoughts are below:

I don't think that the "illegal board meeting" has much substance.  It was a party the night before.
By 7-4 the board (in a regular meeting) voted to not renew the contract of MSU President Randy Dunn..
That they may do so is not really in doubt and so this is nowhere near on the same plane as the Curris Controversies of the seventies and eighties.

Why they are not renewing Dunn is not too clear.  

My personal explanation of what is going on would be based on the following general pattern, which is related to, but not exactly the same as, what some people call the seven-year-itch.

It goes like this:  Boards of regents collect tickets to athletic events and they hire and fire presidents.  They really don't have much else to do .  A newly hired president is "the board's guy".  They are attached to him.  But, by and by, the members of the board are replaced and the new members do not think of the current president as "their guy".  This normally takes 6 to 8 years.  Many things weigh on the minds of the new members- their own abilities, their good judgment, and their quality acquaintances, ... . One day the newbies realize that the president's contract is up for renewal, that they are in the majority, and that they have never hired a president!!  Duty calls. 

President Randy Dunn came here 7 years ago. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Whose children?

In an promo spot, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry says:

"We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of “These are our children.” So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everyone’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments."

Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher was a marvelous leader.

But she reminds me of a greater one:

Chuchill's We Shall Fight on the Beaches speech, June 4, 1940.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.