Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gay group sues eHarmony

I usually avoid gay issues here. I'd rather cover other things. Another reason is quite frankly it's never been crystal clear to me whether people are born gay or become gay, which makes debating tricky. Based on my life experiences I'd say the answer is probably "yes". However, this story seems to call for an exception for a variety of reasons:
LOS ANGELES - The popular online dating service eHarmony was sued on Thursday for refusing to offer its services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

A lawsuit alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay
.
I'm not a lawyer but it seems to me this is rather childish and frivolous. There are other dating services that cater to gays or make no distinctions. Apparently eHarmony also tends to exclude straights for reasons known to only them. MSNBC repeatedly reminded us the company was founded by a prominent Christian with ties to Focus on the Family. Scary, scary. While busy slopping out that chum they failed to mention a possible competition angle, equally as pertinent.

It seems a classic civil rights claim would involve a grievous harm due to a denial of service, such prevention of getting a date or finding a mate. That said, it'll be an interesting legal test, especially if we throw in hate crimes in some fashion. Perhaps the outcome might affect future lawsuits regarding Muslim cabbies refusing to serve infidels who've been drinking or partying, or who ask to be taken to the McDonald's drive-thru so they can purchase a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.

Rabid Doyen on the loose

James Hansen is back in the news. Just recently this NASA climate scientist and star of Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth and "doyen of American climate researchers" (according to MSNBC) reiterated his warning that we've only got ten years left before tipping into a climatic Armageddon, the same thing he's been saying for awhile. A little over a year ago he complained the Bush folks were muzzling him.

Hansen's boss--the NASA administrator--was quoted today as saying we just don't really know what the ideal Earth climate might look like, and besides, who are we to judge? A delicate attempt to reel an employee back in.

Quick time out--why on Earth is NASA, the space agency, setting itself up as the nation's expert on climate anyway? We already have an agency built for that called NOAA, also charged with studying weather and oceans. They have most of the hot models. Computer models, that is.

Time in. The good Dr Hansen didn't waste any time illustrating an earlier point made here about why it's not a good idea for Federal Agencies to encourage willy-nilly comments to the press about unsettled issues. Here's what the uncorked genie had to say in reply to his boss:
"It's an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement," Hansen told ABC News. "It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change."
I added the bold to point out the insubordination. Needless to say he could have chosen his words a bit more carefully.

This post isn't to say whether Hansen is correct or whether his boss is an idiot, only to say there must be some order in any organization. Scientists should be allowed to speak their minds but with appropriate caveats and common sense, but if they obstinately refuse and continue promoting agendas they should be shown the door.

By the way, couldn't help but snicker at his use of classic liberal reply tactics. No such retort would be complete without a liberal dose of "ignorant" and "arrogant" sprinkled throughout to downgrade the other person's integrity and intelligence. It happens all the time on the message boards because there is widespread belief the matter is settled requiring no further debate. But such is not science.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scooter and Fred!

You can read all about Patrick Fitzgerald's recent sentencing submission to the court in which he insisted that Valerie Plame was indeed covert under the IIPA Statute over at Tom Maguire's pad. Since I've wasted plenty of idle time on such speculation I feel compelled to waste a little more, but in a different way.

I don't care to debate whether Libby was lying or not. His third grade effort was hardly convincing and most of his supporters have argued the case shouldn't have been brought to begin with, not that he was innocent. Forget the whys and wherefores of whether Valery Flame was lying to Congress and why Congress doesn't care, or why Armitage wasn't charged, or why Judith Miller had Wilson's number in her day planner before talking to Scooter. None of the differnce-makers in DC care. The people who can potentially make a difference are the ones writing letters of support for Scooter, and those letters have now become a point of contention.

Judge Walton has asked the "press" to supply reasoned arguments as to whether he should release letters of support received on Scooter's behalf in their appeal for sentencing leniency. Is there any doubt that one of them is from Fred Dalton Thompson? Why no:
The public deserves to know, then, if such people believe obstruction of justice should simply be treated lightly because a powerful person worked long hours. For example, former Senator and likely presidential candidate Fred Thompson actively raised funds for Libby’s defense. If he were to write a letter belittling the jury verdict, that might suggest contempt for our jury system that presidential voters deserve to consider when they cast their presidential vote.
Crafy devils, aren't they? And they do fear Fred.

Here's my question. Thompson has not been shy about supporting Libby from day one. He thinks Scooter was railroaded and subject to a political witch hunt. Today he almost announced his run for the Presidency. Why risk blowing it all by allowing a support letter written on behalf of a Bushco exec to be made public at such a strategic time? He knows what the MSM will do with such a thing.

Could it be because the letter Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher want so desperately to be released in an effort to scuttle Thompson's chances might do the exact opposite? Fred is a pretty crafty devil in his own right. Perhaps we'll soon see.

Immigration man 2

The Decider gave a speech down at the Customs Training Center at Glynco, Georgia on Tuesday, trying to convince ICE personnel that his immigration bill is good for America. The New York Times was there and tells us he went after the "conservative radio hosts, writers, bloggers, and legislators who killed an attempt at compromise immigration legislation last year". Their money quote--such criticism was "empty political rhetoric".

Bush has few remaining hard core supporters and sometimes it seems he's trying to chase them away, too. One of them is a friend of mine, someone in the business, who tells me the speech was depressing and represents de facto amnesty.

That's one reason I've refrained from comment on the bill here (the world survived) because first I wanted some comment from people who know something about it. My overall position hasn't changed, which is that any reform bill that doesn't punish the crime and provide some deterrent against further lawbreaking is unacceptable. This bill doesn't seem to have enough teeth to realistically enforce its own writ.

For instance, what will be done regarding "sanctuary cities"? What if the illegals refuse to comply, will ICE be tasked with a nationwide roundup? What if state and local authorities refuse to assist?

That being said, we have to consider there's a wish world and a real world. Both right and left tend to be irrational in our expectations of politicians when judged against practicality. Remember how Congressman David Obey described his firebrand constituents demanding an end to the war funding--as "idiots". He did so because they refused to understand the workings of government, which required a coalition that could override a Presidential veto. The same applies here.

Any reform measure passed in Congress, especially with Democrats in control, will require compromise that many will find unacceptable. We've allowed 25 years of illegal immigration and it can't be reversed at once.

Bush is taking a Realpolitik approach for many reasons, all of them political. No politico wants to be in office while ICE agents are rounding up family members and separating them from their kids. The images of Elian Gonzales come to mind. No politician wants to be on the receiving end of the economic blow back that will occur as factories and small businesses search for replacement labor at higher wages. No politician wants to end the secret revenue gravy train coming from FICA payments to the Treasury based on phantom Social Security numbers.

Bash Bush here--he deserves it, but consider one more thing. Imagine an immigration reform bill with Hillary or Obama in the White House with Pelosi and Reid controlling Congress. They would literally have the power in their hands to destroy the Republican Party forever. Think you're ticked off now, just imagine that.

Still, I'm convinced this bill in present form will not solve the problem. We seem to have two options. One is to hit the streets and launch a revolution. The other is to complain to our Reps and Senators and force them to kick this issue down the road and put it on the plates of the 2008 candidates, who want nothing to do with it.
If they are forced to take a position we can hold them accountable. It might also energize the Republican base to get out the vote as we watch Democrats try to excuse massive law-breaking.

CLARITY, PERHAPS 5/30/07


This issue is causing a lot more division than necessary. For example, check out AJ Strata's position on the issue and just marvel at the hornet's nest he stirred up. Not good.

The present bill isn't the best option but it's not yet signed. It can be fixed without fracturing the party, but we're going to have to accept some compromise. I keep hearing all this talk about Reagan this, Reagan that, but we are breaking his 11th commandment daily.

Let's focus a bit. The Democrats are getting off WAY TOO EASY. If you live in a Democrat district, voice your concern. I plan on contacting Steve Cohen, my Rep, tomorrow. They are sitting silently and watching us self-destruct as we've done with them many times. Now is not the time to jump in the lifeboats. Meanwhile, Bush could do us some good by getting his head out of Mexico's butt just long enough to give a few speeches on border enforcement. The rogue TB patient and his easy transit into America would be a good place to start. Like explaining it. Help us out here, Dubya.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Azzam the American -- CIA asset?

Good grief, he's a complete joke. His oratory belongs in "Airplane!" or "Naked Gun" with corresponding noogies from Leslie Nielson. On second thought the CIA could do much better in their sleep.

Ghadan's quirky demands almost rise to the level of the Hamas Mickey Mouse in their stupidity. Surely bin Laden is dead if this is the best they can do.

That said, we should not downplay this too much as it could be the proverbial signal to the sleepers. Or to Sleepy. Sorry.

But any level of critical thought should suggest there's no reason to attack America right now. We're literally crumbling from within and new attacks run the risk of reversing that trend and making Bush a hero again, or even worse, evoking sympathy from the America-hating countries again. The only attack that makes any sense would be the big one--an attack large enough to cripple the country and force a full retreat. Since he mentioned something of that nature cred must be given.

So, on that note let's hear from our esteemed candidates about this. Edwards just said we needed to put down the hot dog and put up a protest sign and refers to the GWoT as a bumper sticker. Obama said we're on a disastrous path in Iraq and voted no on funding the troops. Does he agree with Azzam? Does the term "Afghanistan trap" adequately describe the just war? And, is this that blow back stuff Ron Paul keeps talking about? If so, what would Ron do?

The Senate "Intelligence" report, part trois

This is already stale but I wanted to cover it anyway.

Recapping, in Phase I we learned that Joe Wilson was "confused" about whether his wife sent him to Africa. Then Democrats pressured the majority for a Phase II, which suggested the WMD question wasn't nearly as cut and dried as they had warned us about during the Clinton years.

Now we've got a Phase II.5 (actually part of part 2), which claims the CIA predicted mass chaos (with dogs and cats living together) in Iraq after any invasion, which our stupid evil genius Christo-fascist Commander Guy Monarch Decider simply ignored. Or thereabouts.

To be completely fair it's too bad Bush didn't take look closer at some of these recommendations but it's just foul water under the bridge at this point. Continuing the fairness, the report also mentioned that some of the rather dire warnings didn't materialize. Just guessing, but maybe they included WMDs bursting amidst the invading troops or war-triggered terrorist attacks here in America.

But despite the obvious 20/20 hindsight pablum provided for MSM consumption the Minority Addendum of the report regards Valerie Plame's testimony is where the action is. You may ask, "why should we still care?" Tom Maguire asked and answered:
Waxman is investigating Republicans on a number of fronts. If he does not follow up on this apparently misleading testimony from a friendly witness it is evidence that he is staging partisan show trials rather than probing for the truth.
Right. So we have a question at hand--did Mrs. Wilson lie when she spoke in front of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, the same bipartisan panel who had issued a unanimous conclusion on the matter? Byron York points to an interesting conundrum:
The conventional wisdom has always been that she suggested her husband's name in response to an inquiry from Vice President Dick Cheney about the Iraq Niger uranium story. But her memo, written on February 12, seems to show that she suggested her husband's name before the vice president asked his question on February 13.
This apparent discrepancy might shine some light on why this entire ball of wax unfurled the way it did. Keeping the sequence straight, first 1) Plame told the Phase I SSCI panel she couldn't remember who recommended Joe for Niger, then 2) She told the CIA Inspector General that she herself offered up his name, and 3) She got on TV and told Henry Waxman and America that she didn't recommend him, but while consoling a heretofore unknown staffer who'd been treated mean by the White House she recalled a colleague walking by and recommending they send Joe! Is that good enough for Waxman?

But hold on, the screaming message has consistently been lost in all of this, which was that CIA analysts were not impressed by Wilson's trip in the least bit. Now granted, it's an open question as to whether this was due to their heavy investment in previous assessments about the Butcher to the point of being immovable by the ambiguous conclusions from a junket by a low level former Ambassador or whether it was more substantial.

But it wouldn't take a CIA analyst to understand that if Naimey WAS trying to make under the table uranium deals with Saddam or other tinhorns they certainly wouldn't blab it to representatives from the United States. The analysts also knew well Saddam's propensity for surprising the world over such stuff and also the level to which some entities will go to obfuscate smuggling deals. Libya was proof positive of that.

Check out the Report, beginning on page 210 quoting Officer Valerie Wilson's email to a superior detailing why her husband was suited to spring into action. I'm particularly interested in the redacted part:
"So, where do I fit in? As you may recall [redacted] of CP/{office 2] recently [2001] approached my husband to possibly use his contacts in Niger to investigate ........... [a separate Niger matter]. After many fits and starts, [redacted] finally advised that the Station wished to pursue this with liaison. My husband is willing to help if it makes sense, no problem if not. End of story.
"A separate Niger matter". Hmm. What other matter besides yellowcake would warrant sending agent Joe Wilson across the ocean on government per diem? Since this is only a blog we can make wild guesses, so here goes...perhaps something about Abdul Qadeer Khan's visit to Niger? Or perhaps the visit Iraq's Ambassador to the Vatican Wissam al-Zahawie made in 1999? Or maybe it was figuring out why a Nigerien representative had recently visited Baghdad?

One of the crimes of this matter is that the Plames, er, Wilsons have managed to leave a false impression about the uranium trade and Africa, not just about Iraq but in general. By all accounts Henry Waxman is a bloodhound for the truth so hopefully he'll hold the appropriate follow-up hearings and clear up any perplexities before Mrs. Wilson hits the book signing circuit or appears in Hollywood at the Grand Premiere of her movie.

UPDATE 5/30/07

Mac Ranger was upset with the latest on twist in the Plame affair, outlined here. His contention is that Harlow, CIA spokesman, would have told Novak that Plame was NOC and not to publish when they spoke prior to his infamous column. I'm confused as to whether Harlow, by telling Novak that Plame was covert, would himself be breaking the law or not? He's testified that he tried to dissuade the column, which might be all he can do under the circumstances but then again, the protocol during backgrounds might be different.

Mac thinks Valery was already in the doghouse by that time for sending Joe to Niger in the first place and had been defrocked of her cover. That would mean Harlow was purposefully obtuse with Novak, which would suggest the whole thing was a trap.

We could refer to Tenet's novel for details since it was co-written by Harlow, but they stayed away from the subject for some strange reason. My contention--just a WAG--if she were working in the Iraq WMD counter-proliferation division what was occurring when her name was released in June 2003? Nothing! We had already deposed Saddam's government and David Kay's ISG was looking for the weapons on the ground.

Monday, May 28, 2007

What on Mars is this?














It looks like a giant bullet hole. Seems to be legit, too.

Maybe it leads to one of these things? Or maybe it's just a weathered vent hole.

Dunno, but it's jet black so maybe it's filled with oil. Could it be the reason Bush commissioned a mission to Mars? What does he know, and when did he know it!

Memorial Day tribute















Passe, yes. Consistent? Roger. But it still ticks me off, especially when certain folks claim to have the market cornered on sensitivity.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Of Presidential rumors and wildcards

We keep hearing rumors. Rumors of who might jump in the race and save the day for both sides. Neither have who they might consider their ideal candidate.

On the Democrat side Mr. Ideal is clearly a cross between Clinton or JFK, but the current crop falls well short. The only reason Hillary is taken seriously is her marriage to an ideal. On the right, well, it was no coincidence the first Republican debate was held at the Reagan Library and the candidates kept dropping the Gipper's name, to no avail.

So we have these wild cards lurking. The names most mentioned are Al Gore and Fred Thompson.

Imagine it, two Tennesseans running for the big show. It would be like a subway series, except Nashville doesn't have subways. Maybe an I-65 series.

Both might try to "out-Volunteer" or "out southern" each other but nobody could get away with cracking southern jokes since it would equally offend both. Thompson might pick a northeasterner as running mate to help with the yankee vote while Gore would certainly choose Obama.

One thing would be assured, Tennessee would have it's first president since Andrew Johnson got there through the side door in 1865. Never know, maybe Charlie was right!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Musically speaking

Here's some obscurity, with a British flavor. Wishbone Ash never made it to the big time but this song just might jar a memory for some. They made up for their relatively weak vocals with raw guitar power.



Trivia time. King Crimson was probably best known for this song but lead singer John Wetton became famous for his vocals in a later group called Asia. In between he joined a neat little 3-man band called "UK" with virtuoso keyboardist Eddie Jobson.



Looking back it's amazing to see how many 60s and 70s rock groups were classically influenced (all those violin and piano lessons actually came in handy). Modern music doesn't seem to carry that influence anymore.

The return of Hoyatoleslam

Debbie over at Right Truth has an exclusive penned by a key advisor to Moqtada al-Sadr coincident to his speech in Kufa. It's a must-read for anyone following this conflict closely, which will become obvious upon its digestion:
Is it morning in Iraq? Not, yet. But the long night’s journey to the hour of destiny is drawing ever nearer its close. Sadrists are, at this hour, engaged in a make-or-break showdown. In our dealings within the Shia Alliance, cross-sectarian, and in our dealings with interested outside powers. Both, the Draft Oil Law, as is, and an ongoing Parliamentary re-alignment must be seen as crucial in this regard. As success in either and/ or both will demonstrate the new level of Sadrist power.
Some thoughts.. this morning's New York Times dropped hints from Republican insiders about troop draw-downs next year in advance of the election. Doubtful they were leaked without permission. There will be enormous pressure to get something squared away by then. In his recent 'bird poop presser' Bush himself dropped a hint of things to come by saying we would leave if the "Iraqis asked us to".

Although a reasonable person might assume granting such a request would undermine our very reason for being in Iraq it would be highly unlikely to come out of the blue. The UN is involved in Iraq and al-Maliki (or whomever) would also need consensus from the Sunnis and Kurds before acting, not to mention some form of blessing from the surrounding Arab countries as well.

Many astute observers have been asking for years which side the US would eventually back, a tough question since both could eventually represent threats to the Western security. If we hand over the mantle to al-Sadr we are de facto handing it to Iran, which sounds nuts based on the current leadership in Tehran and their aspirations.

But as Mr. Muth pointed out, Iraq is and always will be a majority Shiite country. They will either end up with a moderate Shia ruler who finds a way to effectively protect the minorities or another strong man who rises to power via the assassination/bloodbath route. Did anyone really think Iraq could undergo Shia majority control and/or national unity after 30+ years of Ba'ath terrorism against the majority? Perhaps the 'civil war' was a necessary evil to reach some form of national reconciliation. Or perhaps it's just business as usual in the Middle East.

At any rate the goal for America has to be security. Democracies are nice, but if the new leadership refuses to join the west in the fight against international terrorists/extremists or joins the Iranian/Syrian alliance to blow Israel off the map they cannot be supported, period, and now might be the only chance we've got to affect the future. We owe nothing less to our fallen troops and those fighting there now--something the pandering Democrats should consider while tripping all over themselves in "support".

What a bunch of jokers

Let's see--a bunch of college kids throwing a boo-fest over a former Bush figure being awarded an honorary degree? Yep, plausible. FACULTY MEMBERS joining in the chorus, some while standing on stage with the honoree?
The boos and catcalls -- including those from faculty who stood on stage with Card -- drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour's remarks as she awarded the degree. Protesters claim Card lied to the American people in the early days of the Iraq war and should not have been honored at the graduate student commencement.
Classy move, UMass. Can they put teachers on double secret probation, too? Yeah, yeah, there were good reasons:
"For the university to so cynically disregard the question of intellectual integrity when it becomes convenient to pursue money and power is the wrong message to send," she said.
It's safe to say this "educator" wouldn't know intellectual integrity if it smacked her upside the head.

The tiff began, according to the AP, when the students got upset the university wouldn't rescind a degree given to Robert Mugabe in 1986. Let's see, murderous dictator versus Andy Card. It's a tie! Can we blame Saddam for this?

At least Card didn't get a banana cream pie in the face. Hey, maybe during the next ceremony the idiot faculty members can just bring pies on stage and hurl them from close range while booing. Or perhaps just gang tackle the honoree or fire a poison dart into their neck (not a real gun). All in the name of opinion diversity and intellectual integrity, of course.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Symbolism over substance

The bizarre disconnect between the President and most Democrats as to whether the Iraq war has any bearing on the GWoT has never been more stark as expressed by comments during the past 24 hours. Here's the Prez:
These people attacked us before we were in Iraq. They viciously attacked us before we were in Iraq, and they've been attacking ever since. They are a threat to your children, David, and whoever is in that Oval Office better understand it and take measures necessary to protect the American people.
Replied Barack Obama:
"Enough is enough," Obama, an Illinois senator, declared, adding that Bush should not get "a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path."
Quipped Harry Reid:
"Senate Democrats will not stop our efforts to change the course of this war until either enough Republicans join with us to reject President Bush's failed policy or we get a new president,"
A veiled impeachment threat. Now Hillary:
"I fully support our troops" but the measure "fails to compel the president to give our troops a new strategy in Iraq,"
Not hard to figure why Mrs. Clinton might not want to jump on "this war was wrong" bandwagon, but to explain her 'no' vote as some kind of call for a strategy change is a new level of hubris. Not so long ago she voted for a new strategy by helping to confirm General Petraeus, one of 81 Senators to do so. By all indications Petraeus has been a dynamic leader apt to change tactics on the fly. Doesn't matter. Barama also voted "yea" to confirm the General and Reid? A firmative.

Postscript--how badly will the party of emotion tar this man for showing emotion?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Iraq showdown

The President just finished a news conference in which he again warned of casualties in the ongoing battle for Iraq and got in a few shots at those in the Democrat Party who don't believe in a GWoT. The Congress today is also tackling a supplemental to fund troops through the summer, one that will not include timetables regardless of what the "idiot liberals" might demand. We've not seen a day with this much netroots chum for a long time.

For the first time the Commander Guy brought Iran's nuke program into the picture by trying to project a world with both Saddam and the Mullahs in a nuclear arms race, as follows:
"It would have been a really dangerous world if you'd had the Iranians trying to develop a nuclear weapon and Saddam Hussein competing for a nuclear weapon," said Bush. "You can imagine what the mentality of the Middle East would have been like."
This is the kind of logic that certainly figured into our initial plans to take down Saddam but for whatever reason has been avoided through the years. Detractors will call this a desperation play but they would do well to read "Allah's Bomb" by A.J. Ventor before casting stones and pretending Bushco invented all this stuff.

After Keith Olbermann's riot act last night, which castigated the entire government for "failing us", one has to wonder whether the far left activists will put up with a Congress that cannot muster the votes to override a Bush veto. In other words, could a riot act on TV translate into a riot act on the streets, ala the Vietnam era? We'll have to see how passionate the anti-war protesters are--my sense is they're not cohesive enough to produce much blood in the streets.

Regardless, it's a tad unnerving to see the divide present in this country grow even wider. As silly as it was, the meltdown on "The View" was a microcosm of the general argument going on everywhere. Terrorists worldwide are surely thrilled and amazed.

MORE 5/24/07

From reading the transcript Bush's press conference sounded somewhat productive but then again I've not seen the video (only the one where the bird pooped on his sleeve). His answers made some sense with the exception of one:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You say you want nothing short of victory, that leaving Iraq would be catastrophic; you once again mentioned al Qaeda. Does that mean that you are willing to leave American troops there, no matter what the Iraqi government does? I know this is a question we've asked before, but you can begin it with a "yes" or "no."

THE PRESIDENT: We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.
Someone should have followed up a bit better. For example, if al-Sadr were to pressure the Shiite government to pass a measure calling for us to leave could we do so without jeopardizing national security? How can we leave a destabilized country and still avoid the gloom and doom scenarios that have been painted--presumably the reason we're still fighting? As someone who supports the notion that a hasty departure would have severe downline consequences this is rather puzzling.

There are several ways this comment can be interpreted. When combined with his numerous references to "Plan BH" (Baker-Hamilton) it could have been a hedge towards leaving if the surge fails. Also, it could have been the beginning construction of a scapegoat, ie, al-Maliki or the Shiite government. That way when things go south it's not our fault and we can later blame it on Iranian influence.

The most likely reason was because he had to--Iraq is sovereign--but the likelihood they'd do such a thing remains less than the Cubs winning the Series so there's no real harm.

Credit card merry-go-round

Consider this a personal mini-rant.

Just got off the phone with a well-known credit card issuer. The purpose of calling was an erroneous interest charge on a paid-off account. Since this isn't reality TV we'll not go very deep into the details other than to say the balance was run up years ago by a member of the McCloud household. In the ongoing effort to reduce my credit footprint the bill was about to be paid off in full. That's when the merry-go-round began.

I placed a call to the card company in late April to obtain a payoff amount. One was provided with a drop-dead date of May 3rd. If not by then another month of ridiculously high interest would be compounded. Needless to say, Fed Ex was contracted and they delivered as promised. Celebration time, right? Not quite.

A few days afterwards the monthly statement came showing the paid off balance on the 1st and a hefty finance charge compounded on the previous balance added on the 6th. Say what? They said if payment was received before the 3rd there would be no more interest.

Time to pick up the phone. Since this account was long-ago closed it didn't reside under the purview of main customer service center in India, rather, after keying the account number at the beginning of the call an immediate transfer was made to a special loser department here in America. The following is a recollection of the call to the best of my recollection, an exchange in which the Federal Government would surely be proud, perhaps to the level of giving a spot cash award...

  • Me.. "You gave me a payoff amount and a deadline. I overnighted a check for the payoff amount before the deadline. Why was interest added?"
  • Them.. "This sometimes happens. It may take two to three months to get it off the account because we're so backed up."
  • Me.. "Uh, this means the balance could be reported as delinquent to a credit bureau if this lingers past 60 days."
  • Them.. "That's not our department. We have no control over that. You'll have to call the credit bureau department."
  • Me.. "Hello credit bureau department, why does it take two to three months to clear off a misapplied interest charge on a paid-off and closed account?"
  • Them.. "That's not something we have control over. You'll need a copy of your credit report before we can help you."
  • Me.. "Nothing has happened yet, I'm just asking you what happens if something is reported that adversely impacts our credit because you won't take this off the account? In this age of digital communications why can't your company talk to itself?"
  • Them.. "Again, that's not my department, sir. If something happens, pull your credit report and call us back."
  • Me.. "So, then you'll clear the finance charge off the account at that time?"
  • Them.. "Well, every situation is different sir. We'll see what we can do."

So, they may help me after their mistake causes a hit on the credit report. Stunning.

Not being the type person to stand for such crap (does anyone?) but realizing my calls to customer service would be forever transferred to the same department, a devious plan was hatched. Upon the next call I provided a voice command to "apply for a new card" followed by "check status". That circumvented the need to give the account number and got me through to the main Customer Service center in India whereupon it allowed a request to speak with a Supervisor. Again, paraphrasing..

  • Me.. Tells Supervisor the whole story..
  • Him.. "We're going to see if we can take care of that. Hold a second, please."
  • Cheerful hold music....
  • Him.. "Thanks for holding, that charge is now removed from your account. You'll receive one more statement confirming this. Sorry for the trouble and my name is so-n-so."
  • Me.. "Thank you very much for getting this cleared up."

And there you have it, only a sixteen step process to get it cleared up. My personal hatred for credit cards has reached an all-time high.

This was my experience, yours may differ, but I'd recommend to any young person
reading this to consider never getting a credit card. Credit can be established by getting small loans (no lines of credit and pay it back on time) to establish a payment history. Take a fool's advice.

I'll wrap with a mention of the rule changes being considered by the Federal Trade Commission that appeared in today's WaPo. These are great and certainly a long time in coming because somewhere along the way many of our esteemed credit providers somehow incorporated "highway robbery" into their business plan while nobody was looking.

But, barring medical or other emergencies, it's entirely possible to survive without credit cards. Such a life provides a personal freedom that precludes the need for any Congressional nannies or bureaucrats to watch your financial back. The money saved from interest and fees will end up in your pocket and allow payment in cash for that inevitable emergency.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Truthers and Memphis

The Roniacs are having some fun with a Michelle Malkin column someone dug up from 2002 that seems to question the public explanations for 9/11.

Briefly, the comparison is not apt. Paul's comments were contemporary while Malkin's were pre 9/11 Commission. Besides, by not vocally refuting these Twoof folks Paul is leaving himself open to entertaining tales about Black Ops thermite teams and such, something not very president-like in my opinion.

But I'll let them fight it out. I'd rather explore her initial questions.

FLIGHT 93

We still don't know what happened regards the passenger who called 911 from the lavatory and told them he heard an explosion and saw smoke. This character was not included in "United 93" nor did he show up in "Flight 93", the made-for-TV version. If his accounting of events is correct it strongly suggests the plane was hit by a missile.

The NTSB has treated the CVR tapes with kid gloves, which by the way is not necessarily a bad thing since the tapes from 93 and the other planes probably include last second screams of Allahu Akbar or other incendiary remarks seconds before impact. Such a thing might be a tad disturbing to victims' families not to mention the propaganda effect on like-minded Muslims around the world, some perhaps here in the States.

Even if we shot it down most rational folk could perhaps see the wisdom of such an act in light of the events of the day. For all we know the passengers themselves might have figured that into their decision to storm the cockpit. Whatever the case, their heroism was undeniable by the fact it was partially captured on tape. Now, if both events took place together it was certainly a no-brainer to celebrate one over the other, especially as an example of the American fighting spirit with the challenges that lay ahead.

Compare that with the Truther nuts who've claimed that since the Shanksville hole was not big enough it proved the PLANE NEVER EXISTED or was flown hundreds of miles away and the passengers were taken off and killed, or spirited away to Area 52 or vaporized with secret plasma guns on orders from Alien High Command. Or whatever it is today.

FLIGHT 11

Why would it be surprising to find that one of the hijackers had a gun? It's logical for the government to leave this one hanging if true since trumpeting such a fact might leave the impression that AQ was staffing airline ground crew positions. It was going to be hard enough to get people back in the seats as it was. There's also that pesky liability issue. It's harder to sue the government than the airlines or private security companies.

KATHERINE SMITH

Turns out Memphis is a sort of "truth central". Katherine Smith was a hometown story. I've renewed tags at the same license bureau Ms. Smith worked. It's surprisingly hard to find any in-depth local stories about the event, which was ruled a murder. It was just one of a series of bizarre events that occurred around here within a year of the 9/11 attacks. Here's a refresher (among other things) if you care, including the most bizarre of them all--the strange "attack" on Memphis Medical Examiner O.C. Smith (no relation). He worked on many of these cases.

Here we are in 2007 and none of the perpetrators who attacked Ms. Smith, Dr. Don Wiley, or ME O.C. Smith have been apprehended. Just like the anthrax case. All have apparently been transferred to the frozen foods section. Maybe it's for good reason. After all, it's not like this is the first time the government has tried to keep a secret during wartime.

John Edwards and the war on terra

"There is no War on Terror". This theme is beginning to crop up more and more of late:
In a defense policy speech he planned to deliver at the Council on Foreign Relations, Edwards called the war on terror a "bumper sticker" slogan Bush had used to justify everything from abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison to the invasion of Iraq.
While I'm not a big fan of these "war on" things, like "war on poverty" or "war on drugs" the war on terror is actually a real conflict where people are trying to kill us. To diminish it because we haven't had any recent attacks is the worst kind of political pandering imaginable.

America is likely suffering from our success in preventing attacks. Some might offer that al Qaeda has purposely not attacked us during the Iraq war because we're effectively attacking ourselves, true, but such a idea defies the intelligence showing that attacks have been prevented. While it's possible the bearded cave dwellers were not directly involved it's also true they no longer have the element of surprise, making subsequent attacks harder to pull off.

So, with nearly six years of nothing the public can't be blamed for being lulled into believing there are no real threats anymore--that Bush or others are simply fearmongering to draw the scaredy cat vote. Oddly, we don't see the same speculation about Edwards and others who appear to be engaging in the reverse.

Of course with Edwards it's probably because his advisors told him to say it.

Some political insiders are saying that polls and focus groups are telling Republican strategists that people don't want to hear about Iraq during the upcoming Decision 08 campaign season. For Democrats it certainly has to include everything, which is the reason they are trying to demonize the term GWoT and downplay things like the Fort Dix plot.

While diluting post 9/11 threats may serve some political goals for the left it might not be very healthy for the country. People such as Rosie O'Donnell and Ron Paul are evidence that at least some percentage of the public is ready to believe America was responsible for 9/11 due to our "foreign policies" (weirdly implicating Bill Clinton) while an even smaller percentage believes we attacked ourselves. Therefore, if another attack occurs leading up to the election it will surely be blamed on Bush/neocons, ie, more evidence we need to scale back our destructive policies. It's sort of like giving the terrorists a free throw.

That's not to say we should run around afraid of our shadow or let politicians use fear for nefarious purposes. There needs to be a balance of sorts. FDR once famously proclaimed, "we've nothing to fear but fear itself". That led us into World War II but it cannot be misconstrued into hiding our heads in the sand. 9/11 should have cured us of that.

The Knoxville murders

This story has been making the rounds on right wing blogs for awhile but I haven't studied the details until recently. Tuesday, to be exact. Here's how Memphis Steve described it (warning, it's graphic):
5 carjackers pulled Channon and Christopher from Channon's vehicle at gunpoint. They tied and blindfolded the couple and took them to Davidson's home where they all took turns raping Christoper in front of Channon. Then, they cut Christopher's penis off. They then shot him several times. Then they set him on fire. Once he was completely burned, they threw his body alongside the railroad tracks.

Now that Christopher was dead and gone, these 5 Rainbow-Pony children of high self-esteem turned their attention to Channon. For the next 2 days, they beat her, gang-raped her as they had first done to Christopher, peed on her, cut off one of her breasts, and then poured bleach down her throat just for fun. Then, as they had done when finished with Christopher, they shot her several times, and set her on fire.
Quite horrifying, even if there's more to the story we don't know about. Imagine the grief and rage shared by the surviving family members?

In retrospect if there's anything good about the story not receiving national attention it's the fact that so far we've been spared of the cretins who'd try to dream up excuses for their actions.

Michelle Malkin was pinch hitting for O'Reilly Tuesday night and had Ellis Hennican as a guest to discuss the coverage. He rather ridiculously tried to argue it was simply another run of the mill grisly murder with no special national significance. Is that not racist in and of itself? Michelle fired back and charged the major media newsrooms with using their 20 foot poles because most MSM playbooks show that hate crimes can only go one direction.

For instance, nobody in their right mind would believe that if the roles were reversed this wouldn't be the number one headline in the nation. Remember the dragging death of James Byrd, an event inserted into the 2000 presidential campaign? It certainly got the attention it deserved. Recall the Duke non-rape case was top billing on Greta and CNN for nearly a year.

But there's another big reason this story has been ignored in my opinion--it's a gun story. Just like the Virginia Tech shooting this case would surely give rise to debate over the merits of gun-control and self-defense and they know which way a majority of the population would come down. Guessing here, but it probably wouldn't follow the playbook.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Surging right along

The HuffPo has a breathless headline this morning--"Bush plans second surge for Iraq". It links to an SFGate story destined to become major news:
The Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year, an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders showed Monday.
But this isn't the only surge. There are surges going on all over the place.

For instance, this news might bring on a resurgence of the "Iraq wasn't part of 9/11 and therefore we should only be fighting in Afghanistan" argument, which itself calls for a surged rebuttal. Afghanistan did not attack us, al Qaeda did. There is evidence that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was against 9/11 because he knew the likely result would be his ouster (a rather perceptive notion not to the level of sage by any means). The Taliban were simply harboring terrorists but had not declared war.

Ironically so was Saddam, who'd harbored a terrorist involved in the first attack on the World Trade Center. He'd also been in contact with AQ, tried to kill a former president and was developing a plan to blow up Radio Free Iraq in Prague. Somehow the same argument doesn't apply to him even in a September 12th world, as the logic follows the tired old path of, 'we must only engage the people who attacked us on 9/11 not the people involved in any previous attacks'.

That same thinking produces the following exit strategy: declare another "mission accomplished" and announce our departure, reminding the world we eliminated Saddam, installed a government that held free elections and finally answered the WMD question. Funny, we've accomplished the same thing in Afghanistan and nobody is suggesting we leave. The Taliban are regrouping, you know, even though the Taliban never attacked us and there were mainly Saudis on the planes.

Tra-la-la and who cares if the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq might strengthen upon our departure thanks to Ba'ath Party money and influence, secret surges from other Sunni Gulf States trying to push back against Iranian hegemony, and support from local Sunnis afraid of emboldened Shi'a death squads. Not our problemo as they say--our problem forever remains in Afghanistan, in close proximity to Osama bin Forgotten.

Maybe our problem is everywhere but Afghanistan. Harry Reid is de facto working with the suspected Iranian surgemasters with help from a sympathetic US media, since the Iranians' tactic is probably to bring all the warring parties in Iraq together long enough to ouster American forces before Decision 08. The only way to do that is by creating so many Coalition casualties that Reid's hand will be strengthened to the point of defeating Bush's will. It's a tired argument yes, but America is still teetering at a very important crossroads.

MORE 5/22/07

Seems the CIA might be surging, too, if we're to believe Brian Ross's "current and former" intelligence gossips. It's amazing that anyone thinks we can win a war by telling the enemy our every move upfront, unless this story itself is disinformation.

STILL MORE 5/22/07

Knoxville Blogger Michael Silence points out a plan put forth by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, essentially recommending that Bush hop the Baker/Hamilton train to Kuwait City:
One can't help but wonder if this isn't an attempt to save face and get out of Iraq at the same time. I've known Lamar for years. He's smart, savvy and politically astute.
No doubt. Alexander's picture is in the dictionary beside the definition of "connected". Looks like the 40 pound brains are at work on this. My 4 ounce version is struggling to keep up, but it appears the machinery might be grinding out the final fix, er fallback plan, "in case" the surge fails. These politicians surely want Iraq tidied up before Decision 08 so perhaps that's why the Democrats have flinched and are willing to remove the timetables from their war spending bill, ie, they've been told to expect changes.

Don't know, but if such a plan really does exist and the surge is just a dog and pony show before the main act of 'exit stage left' it seems damn unfair to our troops. They are effectively being sent into a war zone for political theatrics. I hope I'm wrong, because the only reason I've supported the war is a belief that Saddam was a major threat who needed removal before America was ever going to win the GWoT. Bush has shown the ability to push back against the old guard before so nothing is yet etched in stone, but if we're not in this conflict to win, let's leave tomorrow.

Somebody notify Michael Moore

While he's off at Cannes picking at the finger food and swilling champagne in between touting Fidel's health care system two prominent Iraqi leaders recently came to America to partake of ours:
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, fighting obesity, has checked into the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for a series of medical tests that could last for a few weeks, the clinic said on Monday.
Further south SCIRI leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim was examined in Houston:
The Washington Post reported Saturday that al-Hakim arrived in Houston on Thursday to meet with specialists at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Unfortunately al-Hakim has lung cancer, hopefully treatable. Nothing brings people together like health issues and US medical treatment is world renowned. It's something we've been able to share with both sick Iraqis and Afghanis since the war began. Yes, there are some problems but throwing out the baby with the bathwater by diluting the best medical system in the history of man just doesn't seem like the answer.

Monday, May 21, 2007

NBC questions free speech

NBC is apparently keeping hope alive:
NBC’s “Today” show attacked radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for his parody of an LA Times op-ed titled “Obama The Magic Negro.” As I mentioned two weeks ago, the parody song is now well over 2 months old, yet the media is just getting to the hitjob now
Actually, the piece is striking in it's ignorance of the actual target--NOT Omaba Obama, but Al Sharpton.

While the skit was certainly teetering on the precipice of political correctness there was nothing even remotely approaching Imus's personal smear on the Rutgers girls. Geez, NBC's own Saturday Night Live just ran a lampoon of the candidates this past weekend, which targeted Barack (even mentioning his middle name Hussein) while leaving Hillary pretty much alone. Will they investigate themselves?

But all of the above is neither here nor there. The 64K question is what NBC is trying to accomplish here. Upfront we know Imus was on their payroll so it could be about deflecting attention from his lawsuit, or how about this--maybe the Today Show was throwing a match into a roomful of gas cans to see if one of them might ignite and blow Rush off the air, just in time for the upcoming election season.

Interesting coincidence--Air America is ramping-up their programming this week by announcing new hosts and new guests, many of them prominent politicians. Shall we question why NBC hasn't probed Randi Rhodes and the crew (aside from the fact most of America doesn't know who they are)?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Say goodnight, Mr. Carter

Something must be seriously wrong with Jimmy Carter. Surely he couldn't be as verbally unhinged without the help of some external force:
"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened,"
Just a few points, and I'll be brief. He mentions the foreign policy of Reagan, a man who went into Lebanon without being attacked; Bush 41, who attacked Iraq without a shot being fired at us; failed to mention Clinton, who bombed Slobodan Milosevic and killed hundreds of civilians (and took out the Chinese Embassy) without being fired upon, either. Has he forgotten how hated Reagan was for eight years?

But let's go back further. How much of a direct threat was Vietnam? Shall we make a logical leap and say that because 50,000+ American troops were lost along with countless Indochinese for a war based on "lies" that Kennedy and Johnson are actually the worst.presidents.ever?

Apparently Mr. Grits doesn't own any history books because, as Stormwarning points out, he could have read about his own fumbling of the Shah situation and subsequent weak-kneed response to the Iranian hostage crisis, which many believe advanced Islamic terrorism by leaps and bounds. Need we go into 20 percent interest rates?

The former president is also apparently oblivious that several of his successors have kept quiet all these years about his awful legacy purely out of respect for the office, something he no longer has.

Could it be a petty desire to finally find a president who appears more embarrassing or less successful than he was? Good Lord, let's hope he's not that shallow or forgetful of his own late brother Billy Carter, the unofficial Secretary of Beer. Actually, Billy looks pretty good by comparison based on recent history.

Whatever the case somebody needs to get him on the next plane to Plains. His bashing is hurting the country and besides, isn't it time to plant the goobers, or water them or something?

MORE 5/21/07

President Carter is now backtracking on the worst.president.ever thing--as he did earlier this year about comments made in his book on the Israel-Palestinian thing, as he did with inaccurate comments made about Memphis Pastor Adrian Rogers in an earlier book. He might as well start wearing an apology disclaimer around his neck when giving interviews.

While it might appear to the casual viewer that something is neurologically wrong with this man, Carter has always been too honest for his own good (as ridiculous as that sounds). Maybe in his older age he's completely lost the ability to suppress spontaneous blurts of his true feelings, and although that might be uncomfortable for him it provides an interesting window into the leftist mind that once ran the country for the rest of us.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Why aren't the "Barbie Bandits" in jail?

Just got through watching a clip from Good Morning America of one of the two "Barbie Bandits" that robbed a Georgia bank this past February. That's right, a crime that occurred a few months ago--felony bank robbery--has produced bail, a new job, and an interview with GMA.
Out of prison on bail, Johnston has found a new job with an advertising firm — her first boss fired her after learning she was one of the Barbie Bandits. But Johnston's troubles may not be over. Knowing she could face up to 10 years in prison, she's admitted the bank robbery scheme wasn't the brightest idea. "Some of the stuff we did was just pretty ignorant," she said.
"May" not be over? As if what, there's a chance she might get away with it? Even though her face is on the surveillance video? The ABC News story and another from AP tells us absolutely nothing about why she would have been released from "prison" on bail nor why anyone in their right mind would hire someone accused of bank robbery awaiting trial (note, that means they weren't in prison yet). And there's this:
Police have said they went on a shopping spree and gave some money to homeless people.
Ah yes, the ole "brownie points for helping untraceable bums" angle.

When Paris Hilton and the blond sex-ed school teachers are added to the mix it makes me wonder if there was some kind of secret "blond amnesty" provision promised in the new 1000 page immigration bill that turns felonies into prank misdemeanors and DUIs into parking tickets. Hey don't laugh--Kennedy was involved.

Immigration if, then

The phones are "ringin' off the hook today in DC" according to Sean Hannity, all because of the illegal immigration bill. Seems we conservatives have blown a collective fuse, not entirely unpredictable as noted by Kathryn Jean Lopez, who also provided a lot of information on the long and colorful history of amnesty in America. Nobody should forget that it was Reagan who started this amnesty ball rolling in 1986.

But let's not get carried away with thinking Congress is showing some kind of bi-partisan unity here. Illegal immigration is truly the most politically calculated issue in the history of issues.

My position has been pretty close to this bill in principle, ie, return to origin, mandate penalties (fines), offer those who want to work but not immigrate a special Visa so we can track everyone. We do need the labor (ask almost any small businessperson about work ethics and such) but we need to enforce the law just as much.

Since even voting Senators haven't read the entire bill there's no way I know enough to do more than speculate wildly here, so I'll just pose a few questions...
  • When will these people be eligible to vote? Will they be "US Persons" or some other definition?
  • Which agency will keep track of which illegal heads of household don't go back on time? If this information is known why not just deport them?
  • Since there's an 8 year window to return it's quite possible NOBODY will do anything until they see who wins the Presidency and Congress in 08. If a Democrat wins, nothing will happen because when the government agencies try to crack down they'll push through a last-minute amnesty bill and everyone knows it. OK, that wasn't entirely a question.
  • In 8 years there will be millions more here. What if they refuse to obey the law and hold marches? The Democrats dig civil disobedience.
  • Will the business people who've hired illegals be liable for past crimes or are they part of the amnesty?

Or here's an idea--punt this bill down the line while completing the border fence. Let the new 2008 Congress take this up again with a new President, since that would force the issue onto the campaign trail right alongside Iraq where it belongs--and the last place they want it. The bottom line is that any time Teddy Kennedy says we need to strike while the iron is hot everyone should back up immediately.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hitchens versus God

This post was supposed to be about the Hitchens/Sharpton debate since it had produced at least one headline of note before the passing of Reverend Falwell, but Hitchens' Hitler-like eulogy for the late pastor simply cannot pass unnoticed here based on all the times I've used him in support of removing Saddam.

Speaking of which, let's hope the neocons who've so comfortably used his Slate columns for years to support the Iraq war (me included) didn't find themselves in the nearest emergency room (waiting in line behind illegals with runny noses) after hearing his recent comments.

Although I stand accused this turnaround didn't come completely without warning. Funny, the biggest shock wave might come from the lefties who foolishly branded him a neocon only for his war stance. Some might now be in therapy, or is that an oxymoron?

Regarding Falwell I'm not convinced he's right nor wrong since the Reverend was never one of my favorites. Matter of fact there are a lot of televangelists who fit that bill, however, Hitchens pissed me off when he threw Billy Graham in the same pot. Graham has more sincerity in his little finger than Hitchens entire body or most other living men. On that count it's funny--he has a new book trashing religion yet he's hated by the folks on his own side (left) and is in the process of alienating his adopted fans on the right. That's a heckuva marketing strategy.. "let's tick off everybody!".

Then there's Reverend Al.

Few men are sharp enough to match wits with the Hitch and despite his name, Reverend Sharpton cannot be counted among the few. He allowed Hitchens to trash the Bible and most everything in it while scoring some points by saying flawed religion doesn't disprove the existence of God. He's correct, but of course nobody can disprove God anyway. Besides, why become a Reverend and preach the Bible if you can't defend it? What, is he some kind of closet Deist?

He even lost the brief exchange about Saddam's WMDs, to which Hitchens called him a sap.

At the end Hirsi Ali, a member of the audience, stood up and aksed the Reverend a time-worn question, boiled down to "who begat God"? He could have said "nobody", since it's impossible for we humans to understand infinity while living our temporal lives. It's an indisputable reply. But he mumbled something, made another crack about Iraq and it was over, Al the Charlatan revealed. Hey, perhaps Hitchens might end up doing some good in his quest to kill God, even if he doesn't believe in the concept.

The James Comey affair

The Democrats are agog over the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, second in command under John Ashcroft. Check it out here. The testimony is compelling and Comey comes across as a man unloading a burden but after all the outpouring we come to an end that surely must have been a huge letdown for the netroots. He basically admitted that nothing happened.

This leads to the same question others have asked, and that is, where is the scandal? I'd prefer to go in a slightly different direction.

I don't particularly like Alberto Gonzales and he's the star player in this tale, which contains a strong implication the current AJ engaged in unethical behavior regards the NSA surveillance program. But before we send him off to Gitmo it might be wise to pause and ponder why there the event caused such a stir.

Here are some possibilities: 1) the nature of the threat was so serious that almost any action was necessary to continue the program without interruption, a chilling thought, 2) he was worried that Ashcroft might die and wasn't sure Comey knew enough to know enough or was trying to pull some kind of coup by refusing to sign, or 3) he realized Comey was now aware of Bush's diabolical plot to take over the world.

We don't know enough to conclusively answer numbers one and two (we can speculate) but number three doesn't make any sense in light of the fact Bush met with Comey and told him to follow his conscience and get the program made legal, which he did. That's not very impressive behavior for a budding megalomaniac but it does fit nicely with the left's characterization of his incompetence. That seems to leave 1 or 2.

In George Tenet's book he detailed a plot involving nukes along with various other sinister attacks that were discovered and prevented after 9/11. He strongly defended the secret prisons and "enhanced interrogation". Surprisingly, he said very little about the anthrax attacks.

On the flip side Ari Fleischer (who had resigned the year before the Comey event) was a lot more candid about the letters in his book, even devoting a chapter title to them. After admitting the government still doesn't know who pulled off the attack he rather forcefully argued against Iraq. He didn't rule out bin Laden or other states, though, so allow me to offer one more piece of evidence.

When Khalid Shiekh Mohammed testified in his hearing at Gitmo he claimed to be involved in scores of attacks. Oddly, one of them was redacted from the public release:
From the report, page 18:

1. I was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center Operation.
2. I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.
3. [REDACTED]
4. I was responsible for the Shoe Bomber Operation to down two American airplanes.
Why would one attack be stricken from public knowledge after the fact? Let's get some perspective, here. It's not as if the Comey affair occurred in peacetime--we know there were serious threats floating around. The NSA surveillance program had been authorized for over two years at that point and was obviously in place for a very specific reason.

After all is said and done shouldn't we be wondering about what was said during Comey's meeting at the White House that changed his mind about resigning?

MORE 5/17/07

Lefties are nearing a state of hyperventilation on this issue as they probably smell some Attorney General blood in the water with hopes it might lead to the 20 foot Great White prize known as Karcharodon Rovearcharias. Air America was dutifully on the story, providing their roughly 1000 listeners with biting commentary (they're all crooks) while Jeralyn Merritt pointed out a letter Chuck the Schmuck sent to AlGonzo about his inconsistent testimony regarding the Comey hospital drama.

The Minute Man fired back by cleverly pointing out that Gonzales was probably parsing NSA programs when he last testified about them to Congress:
I'll bite - to what program was Gonzalez referring when he limited his comments to "the wiretapping program confirmed by the President in December 2005"? Was that the same program that DoJ objected to in March 2004? Or was the objectionable March 2004 version Terrorist Surveillance Program 1.0, supplanted by Terrorist Surveillance Program 2.0 after incorporation of the DoJ objections? Or did DoJ object to a specific operational element of TSP 1.0, which was dropped for 2.0?
It's clear there was either a completely different program before Comey objected, which was reorganized into the same one James Risen blew back in 2005, or he was talking about something else entirely, which would definitely provide a new wrinkle.

But again, the question nobody wants to ask (or answer) is why. Exactly what made the president feel so strongly about the issue that he'd risk breaking the law? Certainly could have been general paranoia after 9/11 and Tenet's book was filled with threats, so those two together could answer the question. But I'm not convinced.

Oh yeah--while he's busy coring out the Justice Department perhaps Chuck Schumer might want to explore this development. Seems we have the makings of a country song here, so let's have a full investigation into why Sandy was lying and stealing and why ole Gonzo let him off easy.

MORE 5/17/07

AJ Strata has lots of background on this and hits Comey pretty hard as a "Gorelickite". He's right that Comey once punched a time clock in the Southern District of New York, which is why he chose his best friend Patrick Fitzgerald for the Libby case after Ashcroft recused himself. But I'm reluctant to jump on any bashwagon yet since 1) I don't know Comey, and 2) it's possible Bush did commit a crime by allowing an illegal program to continue based on unfavorable opinions from the DOJ. Admittedly there are some interesting dots to connect, though.

By the way, after the hospital docu-drama Comey came out a short time later and, according to some, torpedoed the Jose Padilla case by spilling most of the intelligence we had on him including the mention of a cozy dinner with KSM and Binalshibh the night before he left Afghanistan to come back to Chicago. Comey didn't do this on his own, but it might rear its head during Padilla's upcoming trial. He also mentioned Padilla's association with Ammar al-Baluchi, yet another nephew of KSM just like WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, who Comey should have been quite familiar with based on their historical crossroads. Amazing how one family made such a big impact.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Interventionism versus national security

The big debate story is of course the Rudy-Ron dust-up, which by now you've probably seen or heard. If not it's here.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that Mr. Rudy dusted Mr. Ron but I happened to catch some of Air America radio on the way to work and not surprisingly they had a different take. Other than calling the audience stupid for clapping at such a moment the "Young Turks" agreed with Paul that modern Republicans have lost their way. They pointed out that traditionally it's the Democrats who've supported interventionism while Repubs have sided with isolationism. It's hardly that simplistic anymore.

Most would consider North Korea a regional if not world threat, yet many now prefer to look back on Saddam as no threat whatsoever despite his actual use of force and WMDs. Paul lives in an America of the 40s where threats were mitigated by two oceans and we could afford to be isolationist. That ended with the development of the long range missile and the atom bomb (supplemented by various and sundry other diabolical weapons) and was definitely put to bed with the emergence of Islamic terrorism.

His myopic view tends to ignore any evil until it crawls up and bites him on the ass, at which point he feels justified in calling for war. Too bad, so sad if the attack kills a million. This is why noted Libertarian Neal Boortz tends to part ways with his mates on the issue of Islamic terrorism. Just because Texas was not attacked doesn't mean America wasn't, which is one reason Rudy blew a gasket.

Like it or not we depend on the world and the world depends on us--we can never again be isolationist. It just won't work. Therefore we've no choice but to reach out and protect our interests and those of whom depend on us. No, we've not always done the right thing and the CIA needs to be monitored but Paul seems to think protecting our interests equals a justification for an attack without judging the attackers.

There's no doubt in my mind that even if the Islamofascists didn't desire bunches of dead American infidels on their way to a world caliphate they would still be a huge problem in the region. Oil is not a luxury, it's a necessity just like water. We need to change that picture soon but it won't occur overnight and George W. Bush can't just wave a magic wand and make everything better.

Iraq was not interventionism in the classic sense it was about protecting our interests and about national security. If Bush was practicing the Democrats' version he would have invaded Sudan for "the children", in other words, some pseudo-socialist goal. That's not what he was doing. Too bad Paul can't see the difference.

By the way, it's surprising how few noticed that he blamed Clinton for 9/11. After all it was Slick who "bombed Iraq for 10 years", and it was Slick who prompted bin Laden's famous 1998 Fatwa to kill Americans everywhere.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Republican Debates part deux

The second major Repub debates are over and we have a winner...Rudy. As already pointed out by the Instapundit, Ron Paul basically threw him a huge fat softball and he blasted it out into the parking lot, smacked Paul's pickup truck and broke the front windshield. Easily the best and most passionate moment by far.

Another candidate that did himself some good was Coloradan Tom Tancredo, although he still can't win. He appeared to be one of the few who had not changed their values other than Paul, and he got a few shots in at the RonPaulster as well.

The questions also helped to clarify some candidates, such as McCain with his "last man standing" on Iraq but not via the torture route; the blandness of Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, and Jim Gilmore; and the near pastoral persona of Mike Huckabee. This might have been their last chance to break out and they didn't. I thought McCain came in second but still did nothing to cut his image of being too quick to compromise with the opposition.

Mitt Romney came in third because he did nothing to dispel his flip-floppishness on several issues. Ron Paul was fourth because he'll get plenty of press for his principles but he's basically a Democrat regards fighting terrorism and I don't believe the bulk of the American people seriously believe we can go isolationist and survive.

I hand it to Fox News for a PROFESSIONALLY run debate, which stands in stark contrast to the freak show put on by MSNBC and Chris Matthews. Chris Wallace and Wendel Goler showed off their excellent skills and the questions were fair and balanced with a decent helping of crow to go around.

As to Fred Thompson, everyone's still talking about the triple he smacked off starting pitcher Michael Moore earlier today (not a homer in my opinion, but off the wall) but the longer he waits the more the chance he'll get left behind in the debate. That said, while political bloggers live for this stuff most of America was watching something else. There's plenty of time.

ADDENDUM

The Huckabee comment about Edwards and the beauty salon will be compared to the Ann Coulter fag remark. It might bring him some PR but it wasn't really necessary.

Muhammad al-Daini's excellent adventure

Hot Air has a hot tip regards the American visit of Iraqi Member of Parliament (MP) Muhammad al-Daini and his trip to meet anti-war Rep Jim McDermott:
During our meeting I asked Mr. al-Daini if Iraq was so unstable that a terrorist attack could claim a large number of Americans in one attack?… I wanted to know if such an attack was possible in Iraq. Without hesitation he said such an attack already occurred. He said, and others are saying on-line, that the attack on Camp Falcon killed 300 Americans, wounded another 200, and killed or injured another 200 Iraqis.
The story went on to insinuate the explosion at the Camp Falcon ammo dump was actually a tactical nuke. You'll have to watch the video at the link above. Sounds sensational, but..
Would an Iraqi MP lie? Well, yeah, maybe: read the Times’s report of Daini’s visit to Capitol Hill, which drips with skepticism about his motives. He’s a Sunni who’s publicly praised the insurgency and whose party is led by a guy who thinks the Baath were the best thing to ever happen to Iraq.
Al-Daini is visiting America to aggressively endorse the Pelosi-Reid pullout plan for all the reasons the Democrats are--he believes our troops brought all the chaos and thinks al-Maliki and his NSA al-Rubaie (who also recently visited Washington) are agents of Iran. He may be correct, but let's keep this in mind as well:
The second raid was on Friday, at the home of Muhammad al-Daini, another hard-line Sunni Arab legislator. Mr. Daini said Iraqi soldiers seized 31 guns for which he had permits, and arrested five of his guards.
Oh the irony--only a month later he's in America taking strolls on the beach and having tender moments with HuffPo peaceniks.

As the Times points out, not all Iraqi Sunnis agree with al-Daini as to the benefits of a Coalition pullout because they instinctively know how such a development might play out at the hands of the Shi'a-led government. Under such a dim specter it's puzzling as to why al-Daini would be pushing so hard for withdrawal knowing the very same government he accuses of being shills for Iran would likely remain in place after our departure. Does he think these Shi'a dogs would suddenly grasp hands with AQ and their Ba'athist rivals after the last US chopper leaves the Green Zone?

He's young, only 35, so if he's speaking for others through his Parliament position we should find out who they are and what they plan on doing in the post-Coalition Iraq. The scenarios (ironic that Reverend Falwell passed on today) are hardly trivial yet McDermott and friends have remained publicly mum on the end game, perhaps for obvious reasons. But we can be sure the people who sent al-Daini to America most definitely have a plan in mind and it's doubtful to include quiet walks through the marsh or group hugs.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tower 7 nonsense

Although only about 35 percent of Democrats believe 9/11 was an inside job most of those 35 percent have seemingly focused their energies on the collapse of Seven World Trade Center, AKA, Tower 7. Call it the last best hope of trutherism.

They've been successful in getting some national publicity via "The View" and recently broached the subject to a couple of relatively famous politicians (John Kerry and John Edwards) at town hall meetings. They also succeeded in getting the movie "Loose Change" shown on Virgin Atlantic Airways flights, at least for a day.

In case you don't subscribe to conspiracy monthly like I do the gist of the plot is that Tower 7 was "pulled" somehow, either by planting charges after the attack or pre-positioned charges placed before the attack. The WTC owner, Larry Silverstein, presumably took out a massive insurance policy a short time before the attack, implicating him in insurance fraud for ordering the damaged tower knocked down or perhaps being a part of the larger neoconspiracy.

Anyway, Rosie was back at it Monday. I've not blogged much on the 9/11 truther movement because to me it's far too vast to be plausible and all the proponents are highly politically motivated, which obviously clouds their judgment and conclusions. I've also got some knowledge of the aviation business and some of the players involved and know they are not part of any conspiracy.

Besides, I'd rather waste my blog time talking about conspiracies with red meat. I know that's what "they say" but the major difference is a willingness to admit error--my theories could be nothing more than a total crock. The 9/11 truthers are so invested in their outcome they can't begin to debunk themselves nor consider the possibility of being wrong, which is a sure sign of depravity, fraud, or depravity.

The point of all this scribbling was to provide this very good link (in case you haven't seen it) ahead of the View's proposed debate over Tower Seven (and John Edward's upcoming investigation). It contains excerpts from Firehouse Magazine, which I refuse to believe is a neocon shell with ties to Hitler or Zionists (whatever) like Popular Mechanics.

Armed with such information the debate shouldn't be close. Can't wait for the audience roar as Rosie goes down in flames at the hands of Elizabeth. Just imagine it--Rosie, head down, humiliated in front of a national TV audience by a fireman present at the scene, an engineer, and maybe a few airline employees. Maybe some View staffers will arrive with a rail and run her out on it.

Pure fantasy, yes. But I'll leave one serious question--how much of this Tower 7 business is designed to poke holes in Rudy knowing that's his strongest suit? It doesn't have to be right, just leave a seed of doubt.

Obama has no chance

If the ability to get press was the benchmark of a successful presidential candidate then Barack Obama is wildly successful. But if substance of comment is to mean anything so far, he's a colossal failure:
"The day that this president steps down, the entire world will breath a sigh of relief," said attacking President Bush.
Now wait, most people around the world supposedly hate Bush, right? So why is he a failure for saying that?

He clearly said "entire" world, not "most of" the world. That's an inclusive comment that would include people like the Mullahs in Iran, al Qaeda in Iraq, bin Laden and Zawahiri, Qauddafy, and Chavez, don't forget Castro, Putin and Kim Jong. A pretty dumb thing to say especially when troops are in the field, but it's similar to Boxer calling the Commander-in-Chief a loser.

I don't make predictions here very often, but Obama is going to be on the leading edge of a backlash in the not too distant future. And Hillary will benefit.


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By the way, made some changes in the blog and am now having hosting problems. Figures.

MORE 5/14/07

After reflecting on the above post it's possible I misinterpreted Obama's meaning. By saying "breathe a sigh of relief" maybe he meant the terrorists and tinhorns would be relieved that their tormentor was gone and the good ole days were about to return.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Beam him up

Geez, this is terrible:
A ROCKET carrying the ashes of Scotty from Star Trek is stranded on top of a remote mountain range in New Mexico.
Here's a man who played a spaceship's engineer on TV, one capable of warp speed, yet they can't even get his ashes into orbit, fer crying out loud.

Notice the story is from "The Scotsman" yet Scotty was actually from Canada. Fascinating.

Continuing with the space theme, Drudge is running a story about the oldest star, which turns out to be within the Milky Way. Deducing from here, that means the Milky Way was pretty dang close to the epicenter of the Big Bang. Deducing even further, that suggests we're pretty near the center of the entire universe. A.C. Junior adds a question for the ages--what's on the other side of the edge of the universe? That's my boy!

Happy Mother's Day, folks..