8.16.2017

On removing Confederate statues

Comment: No time to develop this today but saving the above Tweets for another day. Removing Confederate statues is folly!

A Freedom of Speech lesson from Skokie (1977)






'Swastika war': When the neo-Nazis fought in court to march in Skokie

Excerpt:

Four decades ago, a neo-Nazi group announced plans to march in Skokie, home to thousands of Holocaust survivors. The news set off a rhetorical firestorm that the Chicago Tribune dubbed the "Skokie swastika war." In 1977, the swastika became the centerpiece of a constitutional question posed by a small group of neo-Nazis who called themselves "National Socialists" — a callback to the formal name of Adolf Hitler's political party. When the group encountered pushback over its plans to march through Skokie that spring while carrying flags bearing the swastika, its leader, Frank Collin, invoked the First Amendment as his defense.
Skokie, Nazis and the First Amendment: Freedom of Speech on trial - Confederate Flags and Swastikas are uncomfortable, but still protected under the Constitution.

Excerpt:
The National Socialist Party of America, neo-Nazis, wanted to march in Skokie on May 1, 1977. They asked Skokie officials for permission to stage a rally in front of the village hall to protest a local ordinance. The group planned to wear Nazi uniforms with swastika emblems and armbands. It also promised to demonstrate peacefully and to obey reasonable police instructions or requests.

While most Americans believe in the First Amendment, most also would not want this group to march where they live and work. In Skokie, this was especially true, as most of its residents were Jewish. Thousands of Skokie residents survived concentration camps and the Holocaust and believed they were safe from the influence of Adolf Hitler here in the United States

Not surprisingly, a firestorm of controversy erupted. The Nazis took the case to court. The trial court disallowed the march, and then the Illinois appellate court upheld the ban after refusing to look at the case. The Illinois Supreme Court then refused to grant review of the case or to stay the injunction, effectively denying the Nazis their rights to free speech and assembly.

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union defended the Nazi request. The ACLU asserted that they were not defending Nazi idealism but the freedom of speech. Attorney David Goldberger, a Jew, stated:

“Your Honor, if this court issues a preliminary injunction in the case, enjoining the demonstration of Mr. Collin and the National Socialist Party of America, I fear that the Village of Skokie will be dancing in the grave of the First Amendment.”

The Illinois Supreme Court denied a stay of injunction. The Nazis then took the case to the United States Supreme Court.

The Village of Skokie argued that neo-Nazi speech promoted racial or religious hatred and is unprotected by the First Amendment. The courts rejected this argument on the grounds that it is not a reason for suppressing speech alone. As long as they are not burning down houses, inflicting bodily harm or destroying property, they have a right to express what they want. Why? If the Supreme Court silenced one group, it effectively silences all groups since all Americans have the same rights under the Constitution – even groups that are offensive to mainstream America.

The village also claimed that the purpose of the marches was to inflict emotional harm on the Jewish residents of Skokie. However, the Nazis originally petitioned to march in a different town with a minute Jewish population. Denied that permit, they decided to march in Skokie so they would get publicity for their grievance. Then, when faced with having to pay $350,000 to cover insurance for that march, they became more resolute.

In addition, Skokie mayor Albert Smith testified that, if the Nazis marched, there would be uncontrollable violence as a result. But once a government gives in to such threats of violence, it effectively empowers any group of people who wants to silence others to do so simply by threatening to violate the law.

In the end, the Supreme Court ordered the Illinois Supreme Court to respond. It finally struck down the injunction against the Nazis in January 1978, paving the way for a Nazi demonstration. Fortunately, they declined to march in Skokie and marched somewhere else.

The Village of Skokie had also passed three new ordinances. The first required that a permit would be necessary for any demonstration. Next, political organizations could not demonstrate in military style uniforms. The third ordinance banned the display of symbols offensive to the community.

The Supreme Court, which included Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black American Supreme Court Justice found the ordinances to be unconstitutional.

I [the author of this article] was 13 when this happened. During this time, the Nazis staged a march at Veterans Memorial Park in South Holland, Ill., not far from where my family lived. My girlfriends and I told my mom we wanted to go throw rocks and eggs at them. My mother, in her wisdom, instead of saying no, explained that if we did that we would be giving the Nazis what they wanted — publicity. Good or bad publicity put them in the public eye — right where they wanted to be. And they were willing to endure rocks, eggs and other items thrown at them if necessary. We decided that the Nazis were not worth our time and effort. The best way to deal with groups like this is to not give them an audience. And we didn’t.
The Supreme Court Case: National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie


In a per curiam opinion, the Court held that Illinois must provide strict procedural safeguards, including appellate review, to deny a stay for an injunction depriving the Nazi Party of protected First Amendment rights. The Court treated the Illinois Supreme Court's denial of a stay as a final judgment for the purposes of Supreme Court jurisdiction because it involved a right separable from and collateral to the merits of the Nazi Party's case. Hence, the Court also treated the Nazi Party's application for a stay as a petition for certiorari. The Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Comments: There are groups that I find absolutely repugnant:

But I support their right to peacefully and legally assemble and express their views (no matter how repugnant I find them)

On  the thugs on both sides in Charlottesville

The second thing the president did that was worthy was that he denounced the criminals and thugs on both sides. This is what you want from magistrates. If the white supremacists get a permit, and they are marching to Hell in an orderly fashion, they ought to be allowed to march there unmolested. If antifa thugs show up with baseball bats and attack, they ought to be treated as the violent instigators they are. If one of the white supremacists drives his car into the crowd on the other side, that is not self-defense, and he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Policemen, and the magistrates behind them, are in the business of maintaining public order, which means that they do not get to approve of anarchy from one side only.

If there is outrage over Trump’s denunciation of both sides, then it is plain and obvious that someone is attempting to steer us. In response to my post yesterday, someone breathlessly announced that I had equated Black Lives Matter with the Klan. Why, yes, I did. Hatred and murder are to be reprobated, period. Movements that excuse them are to be reprobated, period. But when your moral compass is governed by the skin tone of your tribe, instead of letters in granite inscribed by the finger of God, then you are going to get the kind of identity race war that we are in the process of getting.

The Day Elvis Died - 1977



Kathee and I lived in Pittsburgh PA (actually out in suburbia - Level Green PA).  I was 27. He was 42. I thought he was so old!

Presley's friends feel love, pain, 40 years after his death

It isn't just the legend of Elvis Presley that has unmatched staying power 40 years after his death. The guilt, pain and regret felt by those who knew and loved him lingers, too.

Prolific session musician and producer Norbert Putnam was on vacation with his family in Hawaii when he heard his friend died of a heart attack. After years of making groundbreaking music and acting in more than two dozen movies, Presley's career had slowed, and historical accounts of his life note he was fighting obesity and substance abuse when he passed away in his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee.

Putnam was standing in line to pay for items at a general store when he heard someone say Presley had died.

"I reached into my pocket, threw some money down, ran to the car, threw the food down, turned on the radio," Putnam said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Putnam switched on the radio. The announcer said: "Elvis Presley died this morning."

"I sat there in my car and bawled like a child who had a toy taken away from him," Putnam said. "I could not believe it. I thought someone should have staged an intervention. I thought he could have been saved."
We've been to Graceland. Worthwhile

8.14.2017

Ten Postulates on Race

  1. There is one race: “[God] made from one man [Adam] every nation of mankind” (Acts 17:26) – Read about creation starting in Genesis 1!
  2. Skin color differentiation is a false paradigm. Skin thickness varies from 0.5mm on your eyelids to 4mm or more on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. Color is literally “skin deep” and that’s not very deep!
  3. All men (human beings) are made in the “image of God” (Genesis 9:6) and have intrinsic worth. This is true from the baby in the womb to the senile and aged cripple!
  4. There is no supreme race. In fact, our entire race is fallen and sinful. Yet “The Lord redeems … those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:22)
  5. “[God] commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by [the Lord Jesus Christ]” (Acts 17:30-31)
  6. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence – a foundational truth for our Republic!)
  7. Hate is the antithesis of the Gospel because God loves all of mankind: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
  8. Christ has called on us to “love our enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48)
  9. We are called to be peacemakers: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9)
  10. Violence is to be eschewed! “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Romans 12:19)
Tim Keller says it better than I:

8.12.2017

Imagining the unimaginable - a DPRK strike






Is Trump a madman or a strategic genius?

Excerpt:

Trump is talking far tougher than Obama or Bush ever did. The traditional American political establishment is getting quite nervous.

Is Trump a madman, or is his behaviour actually genius?

Madman theory is believed to be part of nuclear strategy. Former US President Richard Nixon is supposed to have invented it when he commanded the US nuclear arsenal during the Vietnam War and cold war. The book Nixonland by Rick Perlstein tells it like this:

“I call it the madman theory, Bob,” the Republican Presidential nominee had told his closest aide, walking on the beach one day in 1968.“I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll slip the word to them that ‘For God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry – and he has his hand on the nuclear button.’ And Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days, begging for peace.”

For a nuclear threat to be credible it has, of course, to seem real.

Trump’s apparent willingness to take the wraps off US nukes for the first time since 1945 is frightening. And that could be exactly the point. Everyone knew Obama was cautious and considered – he couldn’t believably use madman theory. Trump could be executing a strategic pivot that only he can pull off.
Comment: I modeled San Fransisco where my daughter lives using NukeMap
Meanwhile:
Scary thought:


Kim walks it back .... for now

8.11.2017

The Caroline affair and the Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense





North Korea says Guam strike plan ready within days

Excerpt:

A North Korean plan to fire four missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam will be ready for Kim Jong Un's consideration in days, state media has reported, as an unprecedented exchange of military threats between Washington and Pyongyang intensifies.

The intermediate-range missiles would be fired east and over Japan before landing around 30 to 40 kilometers (18 to 25 miles) off the coast of the tiny island if the plan is implemented, according to state-run KCNA. Guam is more than 3,000 kilometers from North Korea.

Take cover, avoid bomb flash. Guam issues nuclear guidelines




Excerpt:

While the governor of Guam shrugged off the North's missile warning and said there was no heightened threat, the government has issued a preparedness fact sheet.

In language that evoked the specter of nuclear conflict during the Cold War, the guidelines cover what to do before, during and after a nuclear attack.

"Do not look at the flash or fireball – It can blind you," it said. "Take cover behind anything that might offer protection."

"Remove your clothing to keep radioactive material from spreading. Removing the outer layer of clothing can remove up to 90% of radioactive material," read the guidelines of what to do if caught outside.

They suggest having an emergency plan and supply kit and making a list of potential concrete structures near home, work and school to serve as fallout shelters."Fallout shelters do not need to be specifically constructed for protecting against fallout," it said. "They can be protected space, provided that the walls and roof are thick and dense enough (i.e. concrete) to absorb radiation given off by fallout particles."
Could Trump launch a first strike against North Korea? Views differ, but it could be justified if it's seen as an act of self-defense by the U.S.

Excerpt:

... there are situations in which a first strike can be interpreted as legally justified.

Michael Schmitt, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, said three basic requirements must be met: The other country must have the ability to attack, its behavior must show that an attack is imminent, and there are no other ways to forestall it.

North Korea’s military power appears to have satisfied the first requirement. But under the second, “we have to determine whether the statements by Kim are bluster or he actually intends to carry them out,” Schmitt said. Under the third requirement, he said, “you can only act in self-defense when if you don’t act, it’s going to be too late.”

While North Korea may have an ability to attack the U.S., there is skepticism that an attack is imminent. And many officials, including some of Trump’s senior aides, have said other options have not been exhausted.

“I think that the answer to the question is fairly unequivocally ‘no,’ ” said Kevin Jon Heller, a law professor at the University of London. “There’s no right of self-defense against a nonimminent threat.”

Legal experts said an attack of self-defense in such circumstances must be “proportional” — meaning it is designed only to stop the threat. “It is not a carte blanche to destroy another country,” Schmitt said.

North Korea has a well-established penchant for making threats without following through on them.

“Kim says all kinds of crazy things, with no history besides incendiary statements,” said Anthony Clark Arend, a professor of foreign service at Georgetown University.

At least some of the military planning for an attack by North Korea, including troop movements and missile launch preparations, would almost certainly be detected.

“If North Korea were preparing for an attack, you’d see it,” Arend said.

It’s a matter of debate whether the United Nations charter permits one state to attack another before it is attacked. Article 2 of the charter prohibits states from using or threatening force against one another, while Article 51 does not prohibit the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense.”

But Article 51 has been interpreted in different ways. Under the restrictive interpretation, an attack must happen before the attacked state can use force. Less restrictive interpretations argue that a state threatened by attack does not need to wait.

What defines an imminent attack? That is also a matter of debate. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Israeli commanders ordered an attack after Egyptian forces massed on the border, “many people thought it was reasonable for Israel to conclude an attack was imminent,” said Ashley Deeks, a University of Virginia School of Law professor.

When Israeli jets destroyed an atomic reactor in Iraq in 1981, Israel was condemned in a unanimous Security Council resolution. Many said that the imminent threat standard had not been met.

What constitutes imminence has been muddied by terrorists, cyberattacks and other more nebulous threats. “Allies … agree that the idea of imminence can’t just mean right as a weapon is lifting off the launchpad,” Deeks said.

Most scholars say legality for a pre-attack strike was an established after what is known as the Caroline incident of 1837, named for an American steamship suspected of supplying Canadian rebels against British rule. The ship was boarded by British soldiers who killed several Americans, set it ablaze and sent it over Niagara Falls. The British claimed they were acting in self-defense, an argument angrily rejected by Secretary of State Daniel Webster.

The matter was settled with an agreement on the conditions constituting legitimate self-defense in anticipation of an attack. As Webster described it, a state must demonstrate that the “necessity of that self-defense is instant, overwhelming and leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation.”


The Caroline test

Excerpt:

The terms "anticipatory self-defense", "preemptive self-defense" and "preemption" traditionally refers to a state's right to strike first in self-defense when faced with imminent attack. In order to justify such an action, the Caroline test has two distinct requirements:
  1. The use of force must be necessary because the threat is imminent and thus pursuing peaceful alternatives is not an option (necessity);
  2. The response must be proportionate to the threat (proportionality).
In Webster's original formulation, the necessity criterion is described as "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation". This has later come to be referred to as "instant and overwhelming necessity".

Comments: War has to be the last choice

8.09.2017

The Mortgage Crisis - 10 years on



Aug. 9, 2007: The Day the Mortgage Crisis Went Global

Excerpt:

Ten years ago this Wednesday, the first glimpses of the global financial crisis came into view.

The French bank BNP Paribas froze three investment funds, saying a lack of trading in subprime securities made valuing them impossible. The bond market seized up, rattling investors and central bankers who previously soft-pedaled the notion that the U.S. housing bust would hit the economy.

Aug. 9, 2007, marked the beginning of the most far-reaching economic disruption since World War II. The events that Thursday made clear that subprime-lending excesses wouldn’t be “contained,” as Ben Bernanke, then Federal Reserve chairman, had predicted just months earlier. Yet few people appreciated the scope of the disaster that would unfold over the next 18 months.

By now it is widely understood that the global financial industry was overleveraged, that the U.S. mortgage market was rife with loans that wouldn’t be repaid, that investors and financial institutions everywhere were paying high prices for highly rated securities that were actually extremely risky....

Investors knew before that day that souring subprime loans would cause losses. But few realized they would show up with such disruptive effects in Europe, thousands of miles from the epicenter of the subprime crisis in southern California.

Investors understood the housing bust would hit the finances of major lenders such as Countrywide Financial Corp. But even after the firm warned that afternoon of “unprecedented disruptions” in markets, few appreciated how gravely impaired the entire U.S. mortgage sector would become as borrowing costs rose, housing prices fell and losses started to mount.

The depth of the existing losses and the efforts to keep the system running would ultimately combine to turn the August liquidity scare into a full-fledged run on markets.

That day didn’t expose just the disarray of the global financial industry. It also illuminated behavioral patterns that helped accentuate the crisis, notably investors’ expectation that central bankers and other policy makers would intervene when markets started to shake. ...

From the vantage point of August 2017, it is clear there have been changes. Subprime has been banished from the lexicon. Banks are better capitalized and more liquid. Investors are constantly on the lookout for imbalances that might signal a coming market catastrophe.
Comment: How it impacted us: We actually came out OK.

  • Our house valuation dropped fairly dramatically but: Stayed well above what we paid for it in 1996 AND we never went underwater.
  • The housing crisis caused the collapse of Wachovia and its acquisition by Wells Fargo. My job was in limbo but I came out ok. Click Wachovia for my blog coverage of this. I went from top dog in my position to 2nd or 3rd fiddle in the new larger organization but I still received raises and bonuses (but no more promotions)
  • We paid off our house (Fall of 2007) and we were able to begin equity acquisitions big time at cheap prices - eg 1000 shares of FITB for about $ 1 a share.
  • Today our house value surpasses what it was pre-crisis. 


8.07.2017

Opinion: The attack on the Bloomington Mosque is an attack on religious freedom





Dayton calls Bloomington mosque blast "act of terrorism"

Excerpt:

The attack on a Bloomington Islamic center is “an act of terrorism” and a hate crime, Gov. Mark Dayton declared Sunday during a visit to show solidarity. “What a terrible, dastardly, cowardly, terrible act this was that was committed,” Dayton said of the explosion early Saturday that broke a window and ignited the imam’s office. About a dozen men were praying nearby, but no one was injured. “The destruction done to this sacred site is just unthinkable, unforgivable. I hope and pray the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” Minnesotans, Dayton said, “accept one another. We support one another. We respect one another. We live together. We work together. We succeed together. We’re not going to let one bad person get in the way of all that.
US Official: ‘Pipe-Bomb Device’ Used In Bloomington Mosque Explosion

Excerpt:

According to officials, the device used in the Saturday morning explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center showed “more sophistication” than expected.
Comment: Simply: I decry and condemn this attack!

Was High School anything like American Graffiti?



Kathee and I watched American Graffiti last night. This is a thoroughly entertaining film with a lite plot but a great soundtrack. It is set in late Summer 1962 in Modesto, California. The film was released back in August of 1973 just before Kathee and I got married. We probably saw this first on a date way back when.

Some images from the film:









Kathee asked me last night if we "cruised" in High School.  Two obvious differences between my High School experience and the movie: 1.) 5 years; 2.) California not Ohio. As for the rest see my answers below.

So how much or not much was my own High School experience like American Graffiti? I've got my 50th reunion coming up so now is a good time to reflect. Interestingly I made the decision last night to attend the reunion coming up in September in Cincinnati OH.

  • First about cruising? Gas was so cheap - as I recollect it was always about 31 cents a gallon, but money was tight and cars got terrible mileage. I only drove in my Junior and Senior years. I always had to ask Dad for the keys and always had to fill up the tank. The car was a 1960 Nash Metropolitan (black and white). Hitch-hiking was a way to get around (say after staying late after school). 
  • There's a good HS "dance - hop" scene in American Graffiti. They got that right! 
  • The "drive-in". We had Sandy's (like a McDonalds), Big Boy, and LaRosas. Our reunion has a night scheduled at LaRosas (same location but has been rebuilt)





  • I don't remember any girls looking like Suzanne Somers or Candy Clark. None of the guys looked like Harrison Ford either
  • Gangs: There were some toughs near Western Hills High School. I was roughed up at a Sandy's and gave it back. It was a draw!
  • We didn't have Wolfman Jack but we did have WSAI


  • The powerful epilogue: Yes classmates died in car crashes and in Viet Nam

8.05.2017

Competitors eat SuperValue Market Share




Supervalu plots to keep Cub Foods on top of Twin Cities grocery scene

Excerpt:

The biggest grocery chain in the Twin Cities — Cub Foods — has half the market share it did 20 years ago, with competition coming from new big-box store chains, boxes arriving on front porches, and a parent company that makes most of its money as a wholesaler rather than a retailer.

In the 1990s, Cub dominated the Twin Cities grocery scene with a 40 percent market share. It rose from a revolutionary start. Originally, it was a no-frills outlet, similar to a co-op or warehouse store, that was called Consumers United for Buying. Customers had to write down the price on each item using a pencil.
Comment: I'm not the grocery shopper but I relate my wife's view:

  • She hates CUB. She did drop in yesterday for: 1 quart maple syrup, and 2 other items
  • Lunds in Plymouth is her goto store - I estimate we spend $ 6,000 per year
  • Hy-Vee: She thinks the store (in New Hope) is too big
  • As for Supervalue - SVU - one of my bone-head stock purchases about 10 years ago. Lost $$ and bailed out
  • WMT: We hold. TGT = should get out of the grocery business. COST: James Cramer loves it


Dow - Dupont Merger date set - August 31st



DuPont, Dow Chemical merger to close Aug. 31 with DowDuPont's stock to start trade the day after


Excerpt:

DuPont & Co. DD, and Dow Chemical Co. DOW, said Friday that their planned "merger of equals" will be completed on Aug. 31, after the stock market closes. Shares of the new entity, DowDuPont, will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 1, under the ticker symbol "DWDP." The chemical companies said the intended spinoffs is still expected to occur within 18 months of the closing. DuPont's stock, currently a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Comment: Informational website (image above).  Earlier post

How to stock will play out



Ultimately 3 companies