Friday, December 7, 2018

Was Bill Clinton more of a Conservative than a Progressive?

My answer on Quora.

Bill Clinton was part of a political movement known as the Third Way. He was not a progressive in the FDR sense of the word nor was he a liberal in the JFK mold. Many of Clinton’s policies were legitimately conservative. However he combined the necessary progressive elements when it suited him.
He continued the Free Trade policies of Messrs. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He raised taxes on higher income earners and cut defense spending. The debt to GDP ratio dropped during his term in office but he was also driven to take a hard line against spending by Newt Gingrich’s fiscally conservative House.
Clinton was an Internationalist. He lowered tariffs and was involved in the final round of negotiations that saw GATT been replaced by the WTO (World Trade Organization). The latter was given more clout in enforcing trade agreements.
In Foreign politics he continued with the Interventionist agenda that saw the US become more deeply involved in the Balkan conflicts. His policies in the Middle East did not substantially differ from either Reagan or Bush, with Clinton actually signing into law the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 which called for regime change policies geared against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. His greatest success on the Foreign policy front was his role in promoting Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Accord.
Clinton’s SCOTUS appointments - Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer - however fall under the progressive side of the equation.
Socially he took a hard line against crime with the Omnibus Crime Bill. However he was not averse to support gun control initiatives with his ten year long Assault Rifle ban.
Clinton took a strong stance against Illegal immigration with the Illegal Immigration and Reform Act (IIRIRA) and even recommended reducing legal immigration.
In terms of marriage he came out against gay marriage signing into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996.
In short…he seems more practical than ideological, which is often the hallmark of a Conservative and on virtually every front is more to the right of what the Democratic Party is today.

                                                           Reagan and Clinton - 40 and 42



Speed of Light

Answered this on Quora.

What is the speed of light constant?

The speed of light is not constant. It varies across different media. In a vacuum the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s. In air with a refractive index of 1.003 the speed of light would be 299,700 km/s (roughly 90 km/s slower than it is in a vacuum).
Light’s speed in a vacuum is designated with the symbol c and is taken to be a universal constant. Its value is the same regardless of the frame of reference of the observer. One cannot add or subtract onto this value as one would do in ordinary low speed Galilean relativity problems.
Light is a type of Electromagnetic radiation. The Scottish Mathematical Physicist James Clerk Maxwell described the behaviour of electromagnetic waves in his famous Maxwell Equations that provided the framework linking our understanding of both the electric and magnetic field concepts.
in doing so Maxwell determined that this value c is in all actuality a function of two other constants - electric constant ε and the magnetic constant μ0. The two are linked by the relationship
c= 1/((ε μ0)^-0.5)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-2018)

If ever a man’s life story encapsulates the events of the bulk of the 20th century it is that of President H.W. Bush. Love him or hate him, what cannot be understated is that the man was a faithful servant of the Republic.George Herbert Walker Bush was born in 1924. He was the 41st President of the US and its 43rd Vice President. His eventful life started early when he put on hold his university studies to enlist with the US Navy on his 18th birthday becoming the youngest aviator in history. He served in the Pacific, survived being shot down (including a four hour period hanging on for his life in shark infested waters) and would be awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals and a Presidential Unit citation for his service.

Bush’s pre-presidential career is arguably one of the most distinguished of all-time – he became a millionaire oil man in Texas, was elected to represent Texas in the House’s 7th District (1966), was Chief Liaison Officer to China (appointed by Ford), Ambassador to the UN (1971-1973), Chairman of the Republican Party (1973-1974), Chief Liaison Officer to China (appointed by Ford – 1974-1975) and Director of the CIA (1976-1977).  He also headed the Council of Foreign Relations between 1977 and 1979.

Bush lost the 1980 Republican Presidential Primary to Ronald Reagan but was chosen by the former California governor to be his running mate for Reagan’s successful 1980 Presidential campaign.
As Vice President, Bush was known for his low profile with the public but behind the scene he was very active. He held the fort during the turbulent period following the attempted assassination of Reagan, worked to build bridges with South Korea and Singapore and represented US interests in Africa during the Namibia-Angola  standoff, taking a hard line against Soviet backed Cuban troops in the region.

He was also involved in Arms reduction talks, pressured the El Salvadorian government to put an end to its death squads and was active in the campaign against International drug smuggling. As VP he cast the tie breaking vote that saved the MX missile system.

Bush for the most part avoided the fallout from the Iran-Contra scandal although he did take a strong stance against Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

In 1988, Bush stood for President and overcame a competitive Republican field that included Bob Dole, Jack Kemp and Pat Robertson. He chose Indiana Senator Dan Quayle as his running mate, delivered the well articulated Thousand Points of Light Speech at the GOP convention (albeit with the Read my lips caveat) and stood firmly in support of the Pledge of Allegiance, the life of the unborn, gun rights and capital punishment.

In a mudslinging campaign that included the infamous Willie Horton ads (where the Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis was depicted as being soft on crime) Bush flipped a huge popularity deficit winning the White House with 426 of the 538 electoral college votes available.

Bush’s presidency coincided with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall came down on November 9th, 1989 and by the 26th, December of 1991 the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Bush had to deal with the fallout dealing with an immediate change in the geo-political paradigm. He met with Mikhail Gorbachev on 1990, signed the START I treaty in 1991 and initiated a ‘strategic partnership’ with Boris Yeltsin in the same year.

In office he continued (for better or for worse) the policy of the War on Drugs that had been the mainstay of US presidents since the Nixon era. This would see the US involved in an invasion of Panama in 1989, the overthrow of the regime of Manuel Noriega and the later conviction of the Panamanian leader on charges of racketeering and drug trafficking in a US court in May of 1992.

However it was the First Gulf War that defined the Bush presidency. On August 2nd 1990 Iraq emboldened by its success in its war against Iran invaded its neighbour Kuwait under the pretext of an oil dispute. Working with Congress and the United Nations Bush began authorizing a troop build up in Saudi Arabia to counteract the Iraqi threat and the belligerency of its leader Saddam Hussein. Following several months of heated diplomacy a US lead coalition of nations invaded Kuwait, drove out the Iraqis and returned to power the Kuwaiti royal family. Bush’s popularity soared as he declared that the US had kicked the malaise of Vietnam, in what was for all intent of purpose the high point of his presidency.

Nevertheless his critics would grow louder. Many felt that he had not gone far enough in the Gulf War and should have worked to force the removal of Saddam Hussein when the US held the military advantage. Others accused him of letting down the Kurds in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm. Libertarians were incensed by his growing of big government and others pointed to deteriorating race relations that reached a head during the LA Riots of 1992. On the environment his record was mixed, with Bush’s opposition to the 1992 Rio Summit blighting the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment that he had advocated earlier with the advice of EPA administrator William Reilly.

However he was also the President who signed into law the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) that expanded the rights and protection for millions of Americans. On gun control he placed a temporary ban on semiautomatic weapons, losing his endorsement from the NRA. With respect to SCOTUS he would disappoint conservatives by nominating David Souter but absolve himself in the same eyes with his later pick of Clarence Thomas (arguably the leading Originalist sitting on the highest court).

On the domestic front the pressure would build. The US economy was realizing the effect of a post Cold War slump. Conservatives were angered by his backtrack on the ‘Read-my-lips’ no new taxes pledge and the unfortunately the benefits of the NAFTA deal, which his administration had so championed, were still not realized.

He was challenged by Patrick Buchanan from the right and then following the Republican Primaries had to fend off the populist campaign of billionaire Ross Perot (the strongest Third Party voice in modern presidential election history) and the charismatic New Democrat candidate, Bill Clinton, who had made the economy his number one focus. Bush would lose to Clinton in 1992, in an election where no candidate would garner the majority of the popular vote.

It was the end of an era for a man who had literally been at the table of many of the strategic events impacting the US over the last two decades. He would leave with grace, offering commentary on foreign policy and involving himself in humanitarian initiatives with some of his old adversaries (including Bill Clinton).

He lived a life in service to his nation and for this he is owed much respect. May he rest in peace.

Source for Picture:


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Ten Reasons That I like Theoretical Physics

For myself as a  teacher my appreciation for Theoretical Physics is driven by a number of factors.
  1. It fosters great classroom discussion;
  2. Addresses the fundamental nature of time and space;
  3. Forces us to dig deeper in our thinking about entities that we take for granted;
  4. Stretches the limits of human creativity with in a scientific framework;
  5. Provides great application for what otherwise would be impractical mathematics constructs;
  6. Links science to its original philosophical roots both existential and material;
  7. Stretches the mind on a conceptual basis;
  8. Ultimately impact virtually all other areas of science (look at the Quantum Mechanics Revolution);
  9. Brings into the picture some of the Quirkiest scientific personalities;
  10. Gives us a glimpse of what the future of science may have in s

Sunday, November 25, 2018

World War One Archives - Treaties ending World War

Most People know about the Treaty of Versailles (signed between the Allies and Germany after WWI). I have written about this in an earlier post.

However there were other treaties signed as well.

Treaty of Saint-Germain

Signed between the Allies and Austria after WWI.
Key Points

1. Registered the breakup of Habsburg Empire
2. Created independent countries of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia.
3. Loss of Eastern Galicia, Trento, Southern Tirol, Trieste and Istria by Austria.
4. Unification with Germany forbidden.
5. Army reduced to 30,000 men. Navy broken up.
​6. Placed many ethnic Germans under Czechoslovakian and Italian juristiction.
7. Austria liable for reparations.

Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty signed between UK, France, Italy, Japan  and Tthe Ottoman Empire after WWI.  Involved the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. Negotiations leading up to the treaty were held in London and San Remo.

1. International recognition of the Kingdom of the Hejaz. Includes the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
2. Armenia recognized as an independent state.
3. Strict financial control by Allies over Ottoman finances especially Public debt.
4. Army restricted to 50,700 men. Navy reduced in size. Air force prohibited.
5.  Ottoman "War Criminals' to be handed over to the Allies (Article 230).
6. French zone of influence created to include - Syria, South East Anatalia and  portions of East-Central Anatolia.
7. Greek zones of influence around Smyrna setup.
8. Italy given possession of the Dodecanese Islands and influence in parts of Anatolia around Antalya and Konya.
9. Referendum to be held to decide future of Kurdistan.
10. British given mandate over Iraq and Palestine. French mandate over Lebanon and Syria. Balfour Declaration Principles accepted.
11- Territory under Ottoman control reduced from 1.59 million to 0.53 million square kilometers.
12. Opening up of the Dardanelles Straits, Bosporus and Sea of Marmara to shipping.

Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine

Signed by various Allied powers and Bulgaria.

Key Points

1. Western Thrace handed over to Entente. Later given to Greece.
2. Further territory ceded to provide for Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
3. Dobruja returned to Romania
4. Bulgarian Army reduced to 20,000 men
5. Bulgarians to pay 100 million pounds in War Reparations.
6. Recognition of Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Treaty of Trianon

Treaty signed between Allied Powers and Hungary

Key Points
1. Hungary lost 2/3rd of its territory and 2/3 of its inhabitants.
2. Slovakia handed over to help form Czechoslovakia
3. Austria received Burgenland
4. Yugoslavia took Croatia-Slavonia and part of Banat.
5. Yugoslavia took over the bulk of Banat and Transylvania.
6. Italy received Fiume.
7. Armed forces of Hungary reduced to 35,000 men.
8. Reparations to be determined at a later stage.

The treaty was opposed by many Hungarians as it forced large Magyar populations to fall under the control of foreign nations.

British Politics Reflection..

Britain’s three best prime ministers of the 20th century were Churchill, Lloyd George and Thatcher in that very order. Atlee,  Baldwin, Blair, MacDonald, Macmillan, Campbell-Bannerman, Asquith and Wilson were average while Chamberlain, Callaghan, Major, Heath, Eden were sub-par. The rest – Hume, Balfour, and Bonar Law (who was Canadian-born) weren’t in power long enough to register an impact on the political Richter Scale.

Political Reflection...US Presidential Elections

 If I was an American I would have voted for: Truman (48), Eisenhower (52), Stevenson (56), Kennedy (60), Johnson (64), Nixon (68 and 72), Ford (76), Reagan (80 and 84), Bush Snr (88), Clinton (92 and 96), Gore (00) and Bush (04). Having said that of all the candidates listed the only three that I truly admire are: Truman, Kennedy (even if he is a bit overrated) and Reagan.