Marco Rubio is running for President

I’ll give Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) credit for one thing: by simply announcing that he is running for President, rather than the traditional, half-coy-but-not-really “exploratory committee,” he has pushed everybody else to do the same thing. Today was Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) turn:

Marco Rubio Kicks Off 2016 Campaign With Miami Speech
Cuban-American candidate rejects ‘leaders and ideas of the past’
By Patrick O’Connor | Updated April 13, 2015 7:01 p.m. ET

MIAMI—Florida Sen. Marco Rubio launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday, seeking to position himself as a next-generation GOP leader who can bridge the divide between the tea party and establishment wings of the party.

Citing his roots as the son of Cuban immigrants, Mr. Rubio, 43 years old, is presenting himself to Republican primary voters as the candidate best-equipped to convince the country that conservative ideas will boost lower- and middle-income Americans struggling to get a foothold in the quickly evolving economy.

In a primary bound to draw more than a dozen candidates, Mr. Rubio stands out for his potential to draw voters from many segments of the party, someone who can unite the tea-party activists who helped elect him to the Senate and a party establishment that groomed him before and after that race.

His candidacy will test Republicans’ appetite to nominate an aspirational figure in the mold of President Barack Obama, a relatively new face in the party looking to leapfrog other likely candidates who boast more experience, among them his onetime ally, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mr. Rubio has become a prolific fundraiser, raking in more than $30.5 million since 2009, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which suggests he can bring in the sums needed to last through what is expected to be a long nominating process. While he doesn’t have the same deep pool of large-dollar donors that Mr. Bush has already locked up, Mr. Rubio’s early financial backers say he will have the money to compete, and his campaign plans to run a much leaner operation than those of his rivals.

One of the youngest of the likely GOP candidates, Mr. Rubio is casting himself as the party’s next generation of leadership, focused on the future. Throughout his political career, he has pitched himself as the product of the American Dream, the son of a bartender and hotel maid who has had opportunities he wouldn’t have had if his parents had stayed in their native Cuba.

More at the link.

One thing disappoints me about the referenced article: parts of it sound like cheerleading, and that’s not something I expect from the writers at The Wall Street Journal. Nevertheless, it is a factual article. The full transcript of his announcement can be found here, and his campaign website is

Senator Rubio is yet another good candidate for the GOP, but, as is the case with the other announced candidates, Senator Cruz and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), has little executive experience beyond running his own office. It’s not a good thing when the only announced Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-Hell), has more executive experience than her opponents, even though it’s clearly failed experience. I want to see a Governor run! I want to see someone who has actually balanced a budget tell us how he’s going to balance the federal budget. (After steadily shrinking due to the sequester, budget deficits are creeping up again.)

I am certainly not opposed to Mr Rubio’s candidacy, and I will certainly support him if he winds up winning the nomination, but, as I noted previously with the candidacies of Messrs Cruz and Paul, I am making no endorsements at this stage.

Hillary Clinton open thread

Supposedly, today is the day that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-Hell) is going to formally announce that she’s running for President:

Hillary Clinton ready to start presidential campaign
Martha T. Moore and Catalina Camia , USA TODAY 8:34 a.m. EDT April 12, 2015

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on the September 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya before Congress on Monday, January 21, 2013.

Hillary Clinton is poised to formally launch her second presidential bid today, with a different approach from 2008 aimed at convincing voters through small-group settings that she has ideas for helping the middle class and the skills to govern.

The long-awaited announcement is expected to come from a video shared via social media, according to the Associated Press, before Clinton makes her pitch in Iowa and New Hampshire living rooms.

Her declaration will end deafening speculation and two years of less-than-subtle preparation: giving speeches, promoting the causes of the Clinton family’s charitable foundation, and assembling a staff for the 2016 race.

Clinton gave a glimpse of what drives her to reach for history as the first woman elected president of the United States, in the new epilogue she wrote for the paperback edition of Hard Choices, her memoir about her tenure at the State Department.

“Becoming a grandmother has made me think deeply about the responsibility we all share as stewards of the world we inherit and will one day pass on,” Clinton wrote. “I’m more convinced than ever that our future in the 21st century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte (her granddaughter) will.”

There’s more at the original.

As long time readers know, in 2008 I changed my registration to Democrat specifically to vote against Hillary Clinton in the primary election. As I said then, “if it were a choice between Hillary Clinton and Satan, I’d have to give the devil his due!”

Part of my reasoning was also that:

I cast my ballot for Barack Hussein Obama, whom I believe to be the more easily defeatable Democratic candidate — a judgement which is obviously untestable — and whom I would find less personally objectionable if he actually did win in November.

Well, I sure got that one wrong! Perhaps Senator Obama wasn’t as personally objectionable in 2008, but he has proved to be the worst President in my lifetime, and my lifetime includes Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. I thought that Mrs Clinton would be a terrible President, but I’m unsure how she could have been worse than the nincompoop we have now.

But the sun is shining in Jim Thorpe today, and I’m planning to spend this afternoon doing something other than sitting in front of the computer. So, consider this an open thread to write about the Clinton campaign. And if you happen to barf on your computer screen or keyboard, remember, The First Street Journal is not responsible for that; you are on your own for clean-up or parts replacement.

Rule 5 Blogging: If it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin’!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as putting pictures of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Daryl Hannah in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

The post title comes from my older daughter, who said that was the attitude of her drill sergeants. Today’s pictures are from the 165th Brigade, 1-61 Infantry Regiment, Delta Company Dragons. Two weeks ago, in the rain, they faced off against rival platoons in a pugil stick competition.

Cheering their fellow soldiers on in the rain

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: If it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin’!’ »

From Around the Blogroll

From The New York Times:

New Tack for de Blasio: Wooing Business Leaders He Once Denounced
By Alexander Burns | April 11, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a photograph provided by his office, appeared at a town hall-style event at Morgan Stanley’s offices in Manhattan last month. Credit Demetrius Freeman/Office of the Mayor, Bill de Blasio

Gone are the self-conscious jokes, the dry references to business leaders as a tough crowd. His vocabulary is careful, smoothed free of buzzwords likely to offend. Mayor Bill de Blasio still talks about inequality, but for these audiences he emphasizes that the causes of New York City’s economic divide are complex and global in nature.

More than a year after taking office, Mr. de Blasio is engaged in his first sustained courtship of the city’s most powerful private sector executives. The mayor, who ran for office railing against “moneyed interests,” is now making what corporate chieftains describe as a long delayed, sometimes awkward, attempt to meet them on their home turf.

He has wooed them in private phone calls and unannounced meetings at City Hall, and has staged several striking events: On a visit last month to Morgan Stanley, for example, he posed for selfies with employees and joked that moving into Gracie Mansion was like living in a museum. Mr. de Blasio, as part of his getting-to-know-you tour, also dined recently with about a dozen business and nonprofit leaders at the home of Ralph Schlosstein, chief executive of the investment firm Evercore Partners.

As a candidate, Mr. de Blasio defined himself in opposition to big business, vowing to increase taxes on the rich and to turn the page on the policies of his billionaire predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg. Upon taking office, he quickly pressed for a new tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for universal prekindergarten. (Mr. de Blasio got a prekindergarten program, but state lawmakers blocked the tax.) . . .

Yet business leaders say they have also detected a softening of Mr. de Blasio’s tone and posture, and perhaps new traces of ambivalence about wielding the executive set as a political foil.

The mayor has embraced opportunities to introduce himself more personally: When Mr. Schlosstein, who is married to Jane D. Hartley, the United States ambassador to France, suggested in a private meeting that he should better acquaint himself with the business world, Mr. de Blasio responded by asking the investment executive to host an event designed to help him do just that, according to associates familiar with the conversation, who asked to speak anonymously about the off-the-record event.

During the meeting at Morgan Stanley, Mr. de Blasio paid homage to Wall Street: “The financial services sector supports 310,000 New York City jobs and accounts for 22 percent of the city’s economic output,” he declared in the firm’s cafeteria. “This industry is crucial to the city’s future.”

There is a lot more at he original, but he message is clear: a quasi-socialist, (mistakenly) put in power by the voters of New York City, is learning a lesson that must be hard for him, that business and capitalism and free enterprise are what make an economy strong and prosperous. Mayor de Blasio will still engage in stupid polices, because, as a socialist, he just naturally gravitates to stupidity, but maybe, just maybe, the businessmen can rein in some of what would be his worst excesses.

And now, on to the blogroll!

The Execution of Eddie Slovik – WW2

In Light of Bowe Berdahl, what should we do?

There were desertions in WW2, This one was the only execution.

Edward Donald “Eddie” Slovik (February 18, 1920 – January 31, 1945) was a United States Army soldier during World War IIand the only American soldier to be court-martialled and executed for desertion since the American Civil War.[1][2]

Although over 21,000 American soldiers were given varying sentences for desertion during World War II, including 49 death sentences, Slovik’s was the only death sentence that was actually carried out.[1][3][4]

Desertion[edit]While en route to his assigned unit, Slovik and a friend he met during basic training, Private John Tankey, took cover during an artillery attack and became separated from their replacement detachment. This was the point at which Slovik later stated he found he “wasn’t cut out for combat.” The next morning, they found a Canadian military police unit and remained with them for the next six weeks. Tankey wrote to their regiment to explain their absence before he and Slovik reported to their unit for duty on October 7, 1944. The US Army’s rapid advance through France had caused many replacement soldiers to have trouble finding their assigned units, and so no charges were filed against Slovik or Tankey.

The following day on October 8, Slovik informed his company commander, Captain Ralph Grotte, that he was “too scared” to serve in a front-line rifle company and asked to be reassigned to a rear area unit. He told Grotte that he would run away if he were assigned to a rifle unit, and asked his captain if that would constitute desertion. Grotte confirmed that it would. He refused Slovik’s request for reassignment and sent him to a rifle platoon.[8]

The next day, October 9, Slovik deserted from his infantry unit. His friend, John Tankey, caught up with him and attempted to persuade him to stay, but Slovik’s only comment was that his “mind was made up”. Slovik walked several miles to the rear and approached an enlisted cook at a headquarters detachment, presenting him with a note which stated:

I, Pvt. Eddie D. Slovik, 36896415, confess to the desertion of the United States Army. At the time of my desertion we were in Albuff [Elbeuf] in France. I came to Albuff as a replacement. They were shelling the town and we were told to dig in for the night. The following morning they were shelling us again. I was so scared, nerves and trembling, that at the time the other replacements moved out, I couldn’t move. I stayed there in my fox hole till it was quiet and I was able to move. I then walked into town. Not seeing any of our troops, so I stayed over night at a French hospital. The next morning I turned myself over to the Canadian Provost Corp. After being with them six weeks I was turned over to American M.R. They turned me loose. I told my commanding officer my story. I said that if I had to go out there again I’d run away. He said there was nothing he could do for me so I ran away again AND I’LL RUN AWAY AGAIN IF I HAVE TO GO OUT THERE.

—Signed Pvt. Eddie D. Slovik A.S.N. 36896415[4]
The cook summoned his company commander and an MP, who read the note and urged Slovik to destroy it before he was taken into custody, which Slovik refused. He was brought before Lieutenant Colonel Ross Henbest, who again offered him the opportunity to tear up the note, return to his unit, and face no further charges. After Slovik again refused, Henbest ordered Slovik to write another note on the back of the first one stating that he fully understood the legal consequences of deliberately incriminating himself with the note and that it would be used as evidence against him in a court martial.

Slovik was taken into custody and confined to the division stockade. The divisional judge advocate, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Sommer, again offered Slovik an opportunity to rejoin his unit and have the charges against him suspended. He offered to transfer Slovik to a different infantry regiment where no one would know of his past and he could start with a “clean slate”. Slovik, convinced that he would face only jail time, which he had experienced and found preferable to combat, declined these offers, saying, “I’ve made up my mind. I’ll take my court martial.”

Question is, does Bergdahl deserve the same?

Rand Paul is running for President

Rand Paul LogoSenator Rand Paul (R-KY) has announced that he is running for President. Click on the logo to visit his campaign website.

The First Street Journal is not making a campaign endorsement of either Senator Paul, or Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), this early in the game. That statement does not mean that we will not be making such an endorsement later.

The Iranian nuclear deal

Two obvious points:

  1. President Barack Hussein Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both dislike and distrust each other; and
  2. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s primary concern is with the safety and security of Israel; if this new deal — which is still only an agreed-to framework — increased the safety and security of Israel, as President Obama claims, Mr Netanyahu would not be opposed to it.

Netanyahu on Iran: I’m Trying to Kill a Bad Deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday continued to call for the rejection of the framework of a multi-country deal that with Iran that seeks to limit the country’s nuclear capability.

“I’m not trying to kill any deal. I’m trying to kill a bad deal,” Netanyahu said on “Meet the Press.” He argued that the current plan “leaves the preeminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure.”

The prime minister went on to say that “not one centrifuge is destroyed.” However, according to the paramaters for the deal released by the U.S. State Department, Iran has agreed to reduce installed centrifuges by two-thirds and place the excess in internationally monitored storage.

Netanyahu also said he believes lifting some of the sanctions on Iran and leaving them with some nuclear capability could result in a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

“It would spark an arms race among the Sunni states, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” the Israeli leader warned. “And the Middle East crisscrossed with nuclear tripwires is a nightmare for the world. I think this deal is a dream deal for Iran and it’s a nightmare deal for the world.”

More at the link.

The question is: is it a bad deal? Reducing the number of centrifuges in service means that Iran will have less capacity to enrich uranium,1 which ought to be a good thing; it does not stop Iran from enriching uranium, but slows down, by about two-thirds, its production capacity. From The Wall Street Journal:

Nuclear Deal Allows Iran Significantly to Boost Centrifuges After 10 Years
Detail could worry skeptics about too little being done to prevent Iran from building atomic weapon in medium term
By Laurence Norman | Updated April 4, 2015 3:30 p.m. ET

France on Saturday outlined one part of what the gradual ramp-up of Iran’s nuclear program could entail after the initial 10-year phase of a framework accord.

Since Thursday’s deal between Tehran and a group of six world powers on the outlines of a final agreement, the U.S., the Iranians and the French have each produced their own documents outlining what they see as the highlights of the deal. That has led to squabbling between U.S. and Iranian officials over differences in their versions.

According to a French fact sheet, Iran would be able to carry out a “gradual, clearly defined increase of (enrichment) capacities between the 10th and 13th year, with the introduction of the advanced IR-2 and IR-4 centrifuges.”

While there wasn’t detail on how many of the advanced machines Iran would be able to deploy, Tehran’s agreement with the U.S. and its negotiating partners could strengthen concerns among skeptics that a future deal would do too little to prevent Iran’s access to a nuclear weapon over the medium term.

More at the original.

The French concern is that the deal, if Iran didn’t cheat, would give Iran greater capacity in ten years; the Israeli concern is that Iran will cheat, and can reinstall the centrifuges taken out of service quickly if it chooses, since those machines will be stored in country, rather than being shipped out or destroyed. Further, it allows Iran to retain it’s hardened development facility, protected from a surprise Israeli air strike like the one which eliminated Iraq’s atomic weapons program in 1981.2

Prime Minister Netanyahu has no reason to be opposed to this agreement if it is one which actually makes the world safer: he’s already won his recent re-election campaign, so there’s no domestic political advantage for him in continuing to fight it, and President Obama still has 21½ months left in office in the United States; he cannot be re-elected or defeated in that time, and there’s no advantage to Mr Netanyahu in continuing to annoy Mr Obama.

The Washington Post editorial board expressed real reservations about the deal, but columnist Fareed Zakaria, also in the Post made the case that the deal is the better option.3 Dr Zakaria’s position is that the deal isn’t perfect, but that it’s better than no deal at all; with no deal at all, Iran keeps more centrifuges in service, which would (supposedly) enable them to make weapons grade uranium more quickly. The best that I can say about it is that President Obama will be out of office in 21½ months, and we can hope that the next President will have more sense than our current one.

  1. Wikipedia has a decent article on the equipment and physics involved in the separation of Uranium235, the fissionable isotope, from Uranium235, the most common form of the element.
  2. Colin Kahl, writing in The Washington Post, claimed that the Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor backfired, because Saddam Hussein hadn’t really embarked on a nuclear weapons development program, that the attack made him start planning for one, and that the same thing would happen if Israel launched an attack to take out the Iranian program. His logic is flawed, because the Iranians have already taken the decisions Mr Kahl claims Mr Hussein had not.
  3. Your editor’s opinion of Dr Zakaria’s renowned intellect is not as high as his reputation would have it; I believe that he is seriously over-rated, and attempts to “overnuance” simple situations.

Rule 5 Blogging: Blondes!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Malin Åkerman in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

This week, as I was searching through my photo source, the question arose: are all Swedish soldiers blondes? :)

Swedish soldiers participate in joint Russian-Swedish military training exercises, 12 December 2007, outside St. Petersburg in the town Kamenka. The chairman of Europe’s security watchdog, the OSCE, on Wednesday urged Russia to reconsider its decision to withdraw from a key Cold War treaty that sets limits on troops and weapons across Europe. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER DROZDOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER DROZDOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Blondes!’ »

From Around the Blogroll

It’s over.

Wisconsin steals Kentucky’s perfect ending in Final Four, 71-64
by Jerry Tipton | | April 4, 2015 | Updated 7:10 AM April 5, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS — A team stayed undefeated in the Final Four Saturday night. Sadly, for Kentucky, that team was Wisconsin.

Kentucky guard Devin Booker in the locker room following the Wildcats’ loss to Wisconsin in the national semi-finals.

The Badgers, a veteran team with unshakable resolve, had a 34-0 record this season when holding a lead with five or fewer minutes remaining in a game (117-3 in such situations since Feb. 3, 2011).

A clutch three-pointer by Sam Dekker put Wisconsin in such a situation against Kentucky with 1:41 left. The Badgers again closed the deal, beating previously undefeated Kentucky 71-64. With the victory, which avenged a national semifinal loss to Kentucky last season, Wisconsin will play Duke in the NCAA Tournament championship game Monday night.

In the immediate grip of defeat, Kentucky saw the loss as ruining a historic season of achievement.

“It really means nothing,” Tyler Ulis said of Kentucky’s final 38-1 record. “… It takes everything away. All the winning, to me, means nothing.”

Assistant Coach John Robic had a simple explanation for such an all-is-lost reaction.

“It’s the pain,” he said.

Read more here. And now, on to the blogroll!