Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Measure of the Man

They say you can tell a lot about a person by playing golf with them. Such is true. I've played hundreds of rounds (who's counting), quite often just showing up at the course as a single and teaming up with somebody in need of a playing partner. But whether stranger or friend, golf always has a way of bringing out folks' traits and tendencies.

Maybe it's because golf is the most frustrating and humbling endeavor mankind would ever willfully pay to play. Hit down to make it go up, swing easy to make it go far, if the grip feels comfortable it's wrong, etc. The inner demons will eventually come out, which tend to materialize in a variety of ill-mannered ways.

Swearing is the most obvious, but cheating is a wee bit more sinister and ranges from mild (improvement of a lie in winter) to extreme (not following any rules or using creative addition on the scorecard).

There are quitters and whiners but most folks just cuss more than normal (guilty). A more volcanic temperament might produce a club thrower. These are the poster children for lack of self-control and can either be entertaining or scary depending on their make-up. Regardless, club-tossing is the ultimate meltdown in golf.

These things are well understood by most regular golfers, that's why it was encouraging to read Dan Van Natta's Golf Digest column on Barack Obama's game (something that was kept almost completely hidden before the election for some reason). The following quote stands out:
"The great thing about him," Nicholson says, "if he duffs one dead into the woods, there's no cursing. The most excited we get on the golf course is a fist bump."
Such a demeanor might come in handy during a crisis. Here's another:
"When he'd shoot an 11 on a hole, I'd say, 'Boss, what did you shoot?' " says Marvin Nicholson, 37, the Obama campaign's national trip director and now a special assistant to the president-elect. "And he'd say, 'I had an 11.' And that's what he'd write on his scorecard. I always respected that."
For those who don't know, many people refuse to write double-digit scores on their scorecard, thinking that somehow it's not allowed except on the PGA Tour, where it hardly ever occurs. Anyway, all those are positive traits. It leaves the impression that Obama shows a tenacity to improve within the established rules and isn't a hotshot gunslinger. For a comparison to the real world, harken back to McCain's risky "suspend my campaign" strategy when the financial meltdown first hit--to use a golf analogy it was something of a "Tin Cup" moment:

Meanwhile Obama laid back-- or in golf terms he hit a 'lay up'. Of course there are times when a president might have to 'go for it in two' but hopefully not very often. All in all I think his golf course persona sounds very promising.

But there were a few shanks. The article also included this little morsel:
"I met him on the first hole,'' Steven S. Rogers, a former business owner who teaches at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, told The New York Times about a round in 2001. "By the sixth hole, he said, 'Steve, I want to run for the Senate.' And by the ninth hole, he said he needed help to clear up some debts." Rogers wrote Obama a check.
Hey--it's Chicago. Guess it would be impolite to ask what he expected in return.

There's one more slightly troubling aspect about Obama's temperament on the golf course. Every so often the guy who laughs and whistles while writing down the 11 will have one of those super cruel rounds where everything goes unbelievably wrong, as if the entire universe has lined up against him. This is usually after practicing a new swing move with much success on the driving range. If such a round is also coupled with an external negative, such as a recent fight with the wife or boss, it can lead to an out-of-character eruption whereupon a combination of all the bad golf traits might simultaneously occur.

Not saying Obama is such a person but obviously it's something that doesn't mix well with a nearby nuclear football. So we'll have to watch for that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Since most people don't understand mathematical algorithms, I'm calling what happened today in Chicago a Blagorithm. You might describe it as a blagasm, or maybe a blagosion, or maybe just a pitiful collapse of western civilization. Actually, it's just Chicago.

Thanks to Blago we are now actually seeing the hot dogs being made up there, and while it's not pretty, it's bizarrely comical, almost as if the whole thing is an episode of the Batman TV series and soon the Joker will pop out and announce he's taken over Chicago (with police chief Fitzgerald tied up in the corner).

Saturday Night Live can hardly keep pace. Here we have the spectacle of former Obama opponent Bobby Rush predicting that anyone who dares not to seat the Mr. Burris might be participating in a "lynching", setting up the surreal notion that Obama might be leading the mob for strongly suggesting this pick will not stick.

With the curtain now fully pulled back it's prudent to wonder what kind of part Obama had in that pork-laden play. We seem to be left to believe he was some kind of sleeper agent sent in there undercover to clean everything up, playing the game all along to keep up appearances but now ready to drop the hammer on his unsuspecting ex-colleagues. Because short of that...

Monday, December 29, 2008

One More on Saltsman

Since the "controversy" is still roiling here are some further comments in addition to the previous comments.

We should not forget that, 1) both Gingrich and Duncan, vocal critics of Saltsman, are in competition with him for RNC chair. 2) Liberals have only recently gained the spirit of bi-partisanship except with Bush and Cheney, who are still being blasted on their way out the door, just like every single day these past eight years except Christmas and New Years, 3) there were 41 songs on the CD but only one has been highlighted (that one about Barack in Wright's church sung to Dr John was pretty good). And 4) Who leaked the gift to "The Hill" and why?

Whether Mr. Saltsman should apologize is entirely up to him. He might benefit from it in the long run but it's unclear exactly to whom he should apologize--so far it seems like the main groups taking offense are white GOP party members and white liberals.

The bigger story continues to be the blame game and genuflection from GOP strategists and bigwigs, many still holding their asses in their hands from the November massacre. Here's a clue for 'em--if they think morphing into quasi-Democrats to attract new customers will gin up the base, think McCain. Then think again. How about selling the philosophy like Reagan did while getting the house in order?

If the strategy is to attract new members by dangling taxpayer funded goody bags instead of selling them on the merits then you might as well offer free toasters. Although those Palin calendars might help...

Or perhaps persuade the Blackwells, Watts, Jindals, Caos and Steeles, or even our own Andrew Clarksenior here in Memphis, to speak out--not in support of Saltsman--but in support of why they became conservatives and why being conservative shouldn't require a default skin color. They would get more attention in a position of influence, like RNC Chair for example.

MELTDOWN 12/29/08

Wow, what got into AJ Strata's egg nog? Wow. I really think he needs to sit down, take a stress pill, and think things over. That's apparently what the GOP hierarchy is going to do, calling an emergency session or somesuch, presumably to brainstorm on how to save the GOP by attracting minority non-racist voters. Here's some quick and dirty suggestions for the group: announce the names of all their black friends; distribute a Chris Rock CD; practice as a group making the uber cool Obama hand gesture; chant 'we shall overcome'; make a video of Saltsman stomping on the Rebel flag with William Ayers. Your suggestions are most welcome!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

They Shoot Rednecks, Don't They?

This seems to be an emerging theme. Like the hullabaloo with Saltsman from yesterday--the new theme seems to be "blame the south":
The danger became apparent as far back as 2007. With Bush weakened by the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and the midterm election losses of 2006, a Southern-led revolt killed his immigration reform bill. Junior senators such as Jim DeMint of South Carolina directed the rebellion, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, unable to stem the insurgency, joined it.

The price was paid in the 2008 presidential campaign. Despite his personal credentials as a sponsor of comprehensive immigration reform, John McCain was caught in the backlash of anti-GOP voting by Hispanics. It contributed to his loss of Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida and other states.
And here I thought this divide and conquer strategy was something hatched by the left. Broder's criticisms basically amount to bashing southern Congressmen for standing up for the core values of the party.

Apparently he's forgotten that Senator Corker himself bashed the so-called 'southern strategy' tactics used by Mehlman in 2006? As to the auto bailout measure, would he rather have the American taxpayers bailing out the United Auto Workers' so they can save their six million dollar golf course or some kind of reasonable bi-partisan compromise? Who's the real villain here?

As for Jim DeMint and Mitch McConnell's opposition to the amnesty bill being the cause of McCain's troubles because they're southerners, that's laughable to the extreme. Even idiot bloggers saw how little McCain gained with Latino voters for his long time role as Mr. Amnesty. Perhaps he forgot about things like that Obama commercial that put Spanish words in the mouth of Rush Limbaugh and distorted his comments to gain cheap votes in those states he mentioned (does he believe his own paper over CNN)? Hmm, is deception the new path towards future GOP victory?

Has he considered that perhaps Latino voters, like many others, saw Obama as the more attractive candidate because he promised steaming chickens in every pot, vowed to calm the rising planetary waters and would weild a magic wand to stop war and human suffering?

They say success has a thousand fathers but failure is motherless child. Right now experts are groping around in search of scapegoats and who better to blame but a bunch of rednecks? Maybe it's a new "forget the south and act more like Democrats for victory" strategy, but one thing's for sure--the dog won't hunt after it's been shot. It's legitimate to bash party members--anywhere in America--for race baiting or other low-down tactics to gain votes. It's quite another to hang a collar of blame on those who didn't earn it because they're easy targets.


Dave Barry, that is. Writes satire. Lives in the south. Some gems:
On the Democratic side, the surprise winner is Barack Obama, who is running for president on a long and impressive record of running for president. A mesmerizing speaker, Obama electrifies voters with his exciting new ideas for change, although people have trouble remembering exactly what these ideas are because they are so darned mesmerized. Some people become so excited that they actually pass out. These are members of the press corps.
And this:
On the Republican side, John McCain emerges as the clear front-runner when Mitt Romney drops out of the race, citing "motherboard issues."
The economic news is also gloomy for the U.S. automotive industry, where General Motors, in a legally questionable move aimed at boosting its sagging car sales, comes out with a new model called the "Chevrolet Toyota."
And finally,
But it is not enough; the financial system is in utter chaos. At one point, a teenage girl in Worcester, Mass., attempts to withdraw $25 from an ATM and winds up acquiring Wells Fargo.
Long live satire.

Presidential Personality

Is there an ideal one? Nixon was kind of dark and secretive, at least he came off that way to the public. JFK, Clinton and Bush 43 could reasonably be considered "people persons", guys who never meet strangers. Bush 41 and Carter were more reserved and consequently didn't win a second term.

Barack Obama comes across to me as a tweener--at times a people person, instinctively connecting with crowds at rallies and during meet and greet events, but at times showing a need to be alone.

Amazingly, the same media who helped crown him are now beginning to see his other side:
Obama even took the unusual step Friday morning of leaving behind the pool of reporters assigned to follow him, taking his daughters to a nearby water park without them. It was a breach of longstanding protocol between presidents (or presidents-elect) and the media, that a gaggle of reporters representing television, print and wire services is with his motorcade at all times.
It’s been a progression. And Obama’s frustration shows in waves. On Halloween, Obama grew testy with a Polish media crew as he took his daughter Sasha to a party at his campaign treasurer Marty Nesbitt’s Chicago home.

"All right guys. That's enough. You've got a shot. Leave us alone. Come on guys. Get back on the bus,” Obama said before breaking into a trot with Sasha still holding his hand.
His quest for privacy won't hurt him with the public, who instinctively understand how claustrophobic it must be to operate in that situation, many seeing the media as a bunch of jackals anyway. But if the past is prologue the media has the power to make or break presidential legacies, meaning he'll eventually have to resign himself to his new press prison as did Clinton and Bush (two previous presidents operating in the new internet and 24/7 cable news era).

But what if he refuses? What if he stubbornly insists on keeping some of his freedom of family movement (not from the Secret Service, but from the press)? Will they continue to fawn or turn on him like a woman scorned? And if they do, will it matter? Reagan was successful despite a hostile press, using his sunny charisma to mute the cloudy media. So there's precedent. The big difference with Obama is that Reagan came to power despite the hostile press, while Obama is in power largely because of them. It'll be interesting to watch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Side Tracks

Here's Tracey Chapman with Slowhand..

And here's Clapton live with Baker and Bruce in 1968:

By the way, those old geezers can still play. If you're into geriatric psychedelia here's "NSU" recorded during their 2005 reunion at Royal Albert Hall.

Friday, December 26, 2008

In Defense of Parody

In the no good deed goes unpunished and all Tennessee Republicans must be redneck racists department, RNC wannabe Chip Saltsman's gift idea of sending Paul Shanklin's best hits to his friends has gone terribly wrong, providing a Christmas present for the left:
The CD, called “We Hate the USA,” lampoons liberals with such songs as “John Edwards’ Poverty Tour,” “Wright place, wrong pastor,” “Love Client #9,” “Ivory and Ebony” and “The Star Spanglish banner.”

Several of the track titles, including “Barack the Magic Negro,” are written in bold font.
The latter made a wave on Limbaugh's show last year. Shanklin, a mid-south resident, was on the Mike Fleming radio show this afternoon defending the song, which is actually a jab at Al Sharpton more than anything else (back when Al wasn't quite down with Obama's hopenchangewagon yet). Yes, it does push the limits of political correctness, just as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart do every week with a variety of issues.

In reality the song is probably no more offensive than a stock Ted Rall cartoon or Howard Dean press conference--neither of whom should be banned for speaking their minds.

The hidden story here isn't the song but that of Chip Saltsman--evidently one of his gift recipients either took offense or decided to use it against him. Neither the Hill nor CNN explored that area, preferring to leave a hot steaming race card laying bare-naked on the table.

But the story is also one of acceptable parody in a post-racial political world. Notice nobody is busting on the LA Times for publishing the original "Magic Negro" column. Is that because the writer is black?

MORE 12/27/08

RNC Chair Duncan has responded and we finally get a whiff of what might be going on here. Both are up for the chairman position. Duncan does not seem afraid to toss Saltsman under the race card bus and further divide the party to win reelection. But the greater question should be this--why should the party even remotely consider giving him his job back?


Ken Blackwell and Saul Anuzis, both candidates for the RNC Chair, have weighed in on the controversy. Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State who happens to be black, defended Saltsman while Azunis, a white candidate from Michigan, did not. I think they are both right. Blackwell is right because the media is hypersensitive about race--they're the ones who picked out the Magic Negro song from a list of 41 on the tape to hype the story, while Azunis was correct in that Saltsman's "gift" was a little inappropriate for the occasion.

Still, framed next to Howard Dean's comments as the actual DNC Chair this is a non-story.


And she hits an off note. Not one mention in this Jason DeParle 'blog' article about the origination of the parody. Good grief, even CNN mentioned that.


According to Peter Yarrow, the co-writer of Puff the Magic Dragon. Once again, another post not mentioning the origin of the parody.

But I wonder, is he against ALL political parody from here forward? Does coming together behind the One, something the left wholeheartedly refused to do with Forty Three (despite a war), trump freedom of expression and dissent now?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Hope all have a great one with family and friends if possible. Here's a nostalgic but hip reminder of the reason for the season, the Joy of Man's Desiring...

More joy,

Merry Christmas, all.

Fair and Unbalanced

Merry Christmas from Ahmadinejad:
If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over. If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.”
Try to forget for a moment he's a clueless troll, even if well educated. Christ fought against evil in the human heart not against governments, otherwise he would have said "take from Caesar" instead of render unto him. He railed against arrogance of spirit, not tyranny. Indeed, many Jews were disappointed he didn't lead the rebellion.

Why even quote Christ anyway? The Muslims believe he was essentially a liar by calling himself the "Son of Man" and the Messiah. God has no son, dontcha know.

But obviously the story here isn't the words, but the speech itself. If these Brits really believed he wanted to send a unifying message of inter-faith good will towards men then they've officially lost it. He's clearly attempting to throw a bunch of poop on a Christian holiday already splattered with it from secular quarters; it's akin to a boxer throwing a groin punch towards a staggering heavyweight with the Brits playing the role of the Ref letting it happen.

Here's a thought exercise based on this silliness. How about next year we enlist Bush to give an alternative Ramadan speech (he'll probably have some time to kill) to be broadcast in Saudi Arabia and on Press TV in Iran. Maybe he could say something like..
"if Mohammad was around today he would undoubtfully (gotta stay in character) fight against the tyrannical policies of those who've hijacked his religion for the purposes of self-enrichment, female bondage and justified cold-blooded murder".
..and we could all watch the tolerance meter explode.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tangled Roots Run Deep

The Obama sunshine committee has released the report on themselves regards Blago contacts and shockingly there's no there there. But Rhambo's ride off towards the African sunrise brings to mind another caper that still evokes colorful emotions and strong jungle-like passions from some quarters, and it was out of Africa as well:
Rarely can Presidents improve their legacy in an Administration's twilight days. But President Bush now has that opportunity, by undoing a measure of the injustice inflicted on I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Rarely can a publication get away with such a statement unless they are called the Wall Street Journal. Libby is widely seen as either a criminal, traitor or a fall guy, based largely on the reportage of the MSM. Just today CNN said Bush's pardons were being watched closely to see if Libby would be on the Christmas list. He wasn't.

But nobody seems to know the true story as to Libby's role. Between the Plameologists, nutroots, media types and investigative reporters, everyone seems to have their own set of facts.

In other words yes, a Libby pardon could hurt Bush depending on which set of facts one uses. Since current conventional wisdom (which isn't likely to change) seems to suggest Libby was a crooked crook, a Bush pardon would make it look like a quid pro quo for not dropping a dime on Cheney.

Personally I've always found it hard to believe Libby could have forgotten a tasty revelation on the level of Plame and thought his explanation sounded somewhat ridiculous. Granted, we never heard from David Gregory as to what Tim Russert might have known but surely Mr. Gregory will clear all this up on his new show one day. Ahem.

Anyway, it's likely Libby fell on his sword to protect Cheney (and himself) regardless of whether there was any underlying crime or not. The elections were coming up and Wilson's "Bush lied" salvo was only going to become a juggernaut if left unchecked.

It's possible the whole thing was a set up by current or former intel types in collusion with political operatives designed to get Kerry elected and save the party. Plame's cover seemed about as solid as that of Don Adams and Wilson was already working for Kerry. Curiously, Plame has never been pressed to identify the mysterious co-worker she claimed recommended hubby for the job, maybe because it was her? Of course, this is all trivial pursuit for those who entered the story firmly convinced of the administration's guilt. Such as most of the MSM and Henry Waxman.

That's why it's interesting to finally see Cheney talking, albeit not about Plame. His bombshell revelation on Fox News Sunday has still not evoked a visceral reply from, well, anyone of substance:

Glenn Greenwald did react as pointed out by Maguire, but we're still waiting for the calls of "liar, liar" from the "gang of nine". The muted response rings similar to that of Syria after the Israeli airstrike on that little Kim Jong mini-me nuke plant--we're still waiting for the feared Syrian/Hizbollah military response. Instead Mughniyah was taken out amidst the crickets.

So....if Cheney is widely considered to have broken the law in helping Bush with the TSP program (and secret prisons, torture, Plame, etc) and is subject to possible investigation as mentioned by Levin last week, then Darth might be subtly advertising his retirement strategy: periods of fly fishing interspersed by taking down bleeping Democrats who politicized the war at the administration's expense. It'll be interesting to see how deeply Obama's rays of government sunshine are allowed to peer down into that cavern. Judging from current events, not very far.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tale of Two Terrorists

The Muslim men who plotted to kill soldiers at Fort Dix in 2007 to protest violence against Islam and bring on the new caliphate were convicted today. Although they killed no one, they could receive life in prison.

Bill Ayers and his Weather Underground plotted to kill soldiers at Fort Dix in 1970 to protest the war in Viet Nam and bring about global communism. He's a distinguished professor currently on a celebrity book tour.

Just sayin'.

Another First Golfer

Obama hit the links today on his Hawaiian vacation, playing all 18 holes with three unnamed partners. When quizzed by the press on his play 'at the turn' (from the first nine to the second) he remarked:
"I'm not that good."
Hmm. His swing position looks pretty good. Perhaps he's a bit modest. Whatever the case, it's nice to know we have yet another Commander-in-Chief who knows how to spoil a good walk. And quite fittingly, he's a lefty.

For some reason this wasn't an issue before the election. Although some wondered about his hobbies--and his golfing exploits were actually reported both before and after his nomination--most of the focus was on his passion for hoops.

Maybe it was something to do with golf's elitist reputation. JFK kept his passion hidden (for golf) while Bush got in trouble for saying he'd given up the game in light of the war. Ford was mocked for years on his horrible swing, while both Nixon and Clinton were rumored to be somewhat liberal with their scoring.

With so many problems facing the country and golf's reputation it's likely Obama won't be playing much more so hopefully he can enjoy these last few rounds.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Problem with Compassion

The problem isn't compassion. The problem comes when the government gets involved with it. Here's CNN:
After hearing the projections, Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden "argued that we were being too timid and that we needed to develop a plan that would save or create at least 3 million jobs," the aide said.
Will anybody ask the prez-elect exactly what "save or create" means? Seems it's either one or the other. But aside from that it's clear we have a new administration focused on spreading the wealth in a compassionate manner. That's what 'hope' was all about, right?

This morning's New York Times featured a column sub-titled 'The Reckoning' in which they blamed Bush for a large portion of our current meltdown. The piece never mentioned the Community Reinvestment Act, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, or others in Congress who bristled at clamping down on a program that made Jamie Gorelick and Franklin Raines filthy rich while bringing the dream of homeownership to their 'underserved' districts.
The only mention of Franklin Raines was an offhand comment about the administration 'loving us' (Fannie Mae) with no details about his Enron-like acconting scandals and subsequent ouster in 2005. For a truer picture of what happened in this whole mess invest some time to watch this.

But hold the phone, this isn't some kind of Sean Hannity kool aid post blaming the Democrats. Despite the Times article's one-sided nature it does hit on one of president Bush's biggest flaws-- a tendency to misuse compassion. He suffers from the same problem with illegal immigration, preferring to see illegal aliens as people first and lawbreakers second. We've seen the resulting chaos. How many sub-prime loans were made to illegals, for instance? One could also argue he nominated Harriet Miers for some of the same reasons.

Of course the left would immediately yell "Katrina" in an effort to shoot down this theory, but recall that one of his mitigations was to distribute relief credit cards that some used to purchase jewelry and porn. And those government-purchased trailers are at last check still sitting in a field down in Arkansas.

This isn't to say government should have no compassion. America leads the world in lending a helping hand during emergencies and we've spread wealth all over the world. Most Republicans are chastised for not having enough (see Cheney, Richard). But when compassion is applied to complex government solutions without proper regulation or oversight, and it leads to widespread unnecessary suffering, is it really that compassionate? Hopefully the new administration is taking notes.

MORE 12/21/08

The White House has now counterattacked, pointing out the missing elements of the story. They are correct of course. The Times' bias is utterly transparent these days but I'll stick with my opinion on Bush's tendencies. There's a school of thought that says speaking out from a presidential bully pulpit could cause a panic, which is reasonable, but it seems he could have done more behind the scenes. He has culpability.

Meanwhile, as this is being typed there's a story on History Channel about Star Wars that suggests George Lucas was using a Sith reference to president Bush when Anakin Skywalker said "with me or against me" in "Revenge of the Sith". No surprise there, especially since Lucas called Obama a Jedi when quizzed by reporters earlier this year. It's a wonder any Republican ever gets elected.

The Tragic Passing of Mike Connell

He was a family man with a wife and four children. He was coming back to Ohio from a trip to Washington, DC in his Piper Saratoga. Ahead was a swift-moving cold front with possible wind shear and icing. Tragically, Mike Connell crashed three miles short of the Akron-Canton airport and this family man and computer expert for the GOP was lost a week before Christmas.

Enter lefty blogger Larisa Alexandrovna:
I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully.
Keep in mind that she, along with others, are still fighting to prove the 2004 elections were stolen in Ohio by Karl Rove. Her source first said the plane "ran out of gas", which evidently she thought fit the profile for a Rove hit since Connell was set to testify in a case brought by a group called Velvet Revolution. She then corrected herself in an "update":
1. Connell may not have run out of gas, but may have hit an ice patch. The initial call I got described him running out of gas. That is no longer what is said to have happened.

2. The problem with that is - as I just learned - his plane was "equipped to deal with ice on all key surfaces," like wings for example. Remember, I am not an expert on aviation or even mildly informed on different types of planes. So I will add to this when I get more information relating to the actual plane and its abilities, specs, etc.
Depending on the type of Saratoga it may have had some de-icing features but most are not rated for flight into known icing conditions. That's *IF* icing was a factor. Clearly her source was speculating based on the earlier information.

Here are the weather sequences from the Akron-Canton airport around the reported time of the crash:
  • KCAK 200051Z 30009KT 6SM BR OVC004 M01/M02 A2989 RMK AO2 SLP133 T10111022
  • KCAK 192351Z 32013KT 3SM BR OVC003 01/M01 A2984 RMK AO2 SLP116 8/6// T00061011 10072 20006 51059
  • KCAK 192315Z 29011KT 1 1/2SM BR OVC004 01/M01 A2981 RMK AO2 PRESRR
Visibility (1 1/2SM BR= 1 and 1/2 miles in mist) had dropped, ceiling (overcast at 400 feet) had dropped, and the ground temperature was 34 degrees (01). Icing sounds possible--the NTSB will have a good idea on it soon--but if icing was indeed responsible the chances of a Karl Rove "hit" advance to nil. Not even Rove can arrange something like that, unless of course he's still got that weather machine plugged in somewhere.

If not, then maybe Obama can jump right on it, perhaps even including a deeper investigation into ACORN and the voter registration fraud that occurred in Ohio this year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Side Tracks

Time for a few Christmas songs from some diverse artists. First, here's Andy Williams with his version of Happy Holidays (don't tell Bill O'Reilly):

In my opinion "O Holy Night" is a song that should only be sung only by the most talented of singers, preferably someone who can handle Opera. Check out this 11 year old Norwegian girl. The video's a bit raw, but her talent is evident.

Stoking the ole Scots-Irish bone, here's Loreena McKennitt singing the Coventry Carol..

And finally, Sleigh Ride by the Boston Pops:

Not a carol, but for anyone who remembers trying to find Super Mario as a Christmas present the Pops have that covered, too.

Congress-- Why Not Show Some &^*! Leadership?

According to a Sunday interview with George Stephanopoulos, Joe the VP will say the economy is close to "absolutely tanking". Last we heard from Joe he was telling us to mark his words--that Obama would be attacked in six months. What is it with these dark VPs? Some nuance would be nice five days before Christmas.

Meanwhile, as all economic hell is breaking loose the Democrat-run Congress has voted itself another raise. One might think the touchy-feelys in charge of Congress could take this time of the season to make a bold symbolic gesture--not only are they not taking a cost of living raise, but will vote themselves a pay cut (if that's even possible) [update- yes it is!]. They could say they were following the lead of Fred Smith here in Memphis, a man who knows how to run a business.

For that matter, president Bush should have considered rejecting ALL pay raises for all federal bureaucrats until further notice. An absolutely tanked economy will produce far less tax receipts to Uncle Sam, which doesn't mix well with the billions president Obama plans to spend to change the climate.

Federal unions are the main obstacle and Obama cozied up to every one of them, but Bush was in charge of this years' raise and had nothing to lose by zeroing it out. And Congress isn't unionized. They could have set the example, like they did in 1981 by refusing to take the massive pay raises given by president Carter on his way out, a whopping 9.1 percent when proposed.

Short of that perhaps a push could be made for a temporary layoff of Senators, dropping it down to one per state. Based on recent examples of campaiging while on duty by Clinton, McCain, Kerry, Obama and Biden himself, they are somewhat challenged for duties as it is.

Friday, December 19, 2008

One More on Interrogation

As the Dick Bushitlerburton administration prepares to fade into the sunset the energized left, ie, the nutroots, have seemingly developed a case of the hots for a farewell flogging. Guess it's not good enough for them to simply remove the O's off the White House computers and ride out of town never to return, our rapid post-partisan patriots want them strapped under the hot lights for putting terrorists under the hot lights. Here's their flagship station, Think Progress:
Rather than “saving American lives,” torturing Zubayda provided false intelligence that led to a catastrophic war that killed more than 4,000 Americans.
They tout evidence from a Vanity Fair column (what else) where the columnist establishes consensus with the following drool:
In researching this article, I spoke to numerous counterterrorist officials from agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Their conclusion is unanimous:
All nameless in their unanimous conclusion, of course. Who's the enemy, again? Within?

Several days ago TP linked to a piece by former FBI counter terror agent Jack Cloonan mainly because he bashed the Bushies while advocating for his superior conventional interrogation techniques. Not to overly disagree with an expert, but are we to be impressed with methods that never produced any actionable clues as to the Embassy bombings, Cole, Millennium plot (thwarted by luck) or 9/11? No. And therein lies the point.

This argument is not about whether torture produces better intelligence than conventional means--most professionals say it doesn't. It's not about whether waterboarding is torture--most say it is. The point is one of urgency. When we were dunking Mr. Mohammed there was obviously a sense of pending doom via a follow-on attack. We already knew AQ had been talking with AQ Khan about nukes and the anthrax letters were still fresh in everyones' minds. The president had recently been excoriated for not 'connecting the dots'.

Meanwhile if KSM and Zubaydah knew anything it would be in their best interests to run a four corners offense and stall while we valiantly tried to establish rapport they weren't about to give. That's the most likely explanation of their harsh treatment.

Is it a slippery slope? Yes, especially if the players aren't honest (and we know about politicians). But when the alternative scenario is perhaps an end of the Republic as we know it, what's a Commander in Chief supposed to do? If Patrick Henry could come back and understand WMDs, would he amend his famous words or would he proudly insist we carry on with the Army Field Manual, whistling past the graveyard with our liberty intact? Tough question, and well beyond my pay grade.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Voting on Change

Team Obama needs to be careful what they ask for:
"Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?"
From Talk Left via the website. This was the number one question in response to an invite to submit questions and let readers vote on their importance. Apparently he's got the attention of America's stoners (at least somebody finally did). Shall we call that a cannabis stimulus package?

But there were other interesting questions getting top billing:
"Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor - ideally Patrick Fitzgerald - to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?"
Sure dude, right after that little land deal with Rezko gets cleared up.

Plastic Surgery

This CNN story on credit card 'rate jacking' was a trifle ironic:
In September, Maloney got the House to pass by an overwhelming margin of 200 votes the "credit card holders' bill of rights," which would have stopped rate-jacking and the imposition of other fees by banks.

But the bill has languished in the Senate since September. "There's a lot of pushback from the financial industry," she said. Critics say that pushback is linked to donations from the banking industry to the politicians responsible for regulating credit cards.
Hmm. Chris Dodd is on the Senate banking committee and has taken millions in campaign contributions from the finance sector, which CNN did mention. But for some reason they forgot to mention Joe Biden, (D-MBNA) whose state houses the corporate headquarters of many of these same rate-jacking credit card jackalopes.

Anyway, the Federal Reserve today enacted some credit card restrictions that will take effect July 1, 2010 (guess the financial industry is far too tattered now to take away their biggest instruments of loan-sharking, two week late fees and the rate jacking). These will help.

But it's not only credit cards companies. Anecdotally speaking, banks are also playing fast and loose with things like overdraft fee computations and monthly service fees. Sneaky SOBs. Yet options are readily available for revenge, such as a simple tool known as a pair of scissors.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Innuendo Fest

Strange. Atlantic online had a short blurb today about George Tenet that seemed about as credible as Tenet's claim he spoke with Richard Perle on 9/11:
An enraged George Tenet, drunk on scotch, flailing about Prince Bandar's Riyadh pool, screaming about the Bush Administration officials who were just then trying to pin the Iraq WMD fiasco on him
This was supposedly contained in a new book about the Middle East. Tenet has denied it, but no word on whether he made any pool/dunking jokes.

And just now, on Hannity and Colmes, guest Victoria Toensing ended her appearance saying Patrick Fitzgerald was "the next Elliot Spitzer" and that the press should "investigate". Colmes was muttering for a reply as they cut to a commercial. Hmm. Wonder what she meant by that? Does she mean he's aiming for the Governor of Illinois vacancy or does she mean he's been hittin' the tip jar at the Chicken Ranch?

LaHood for DOT Secretary

La who? Ray LaHood, a long time Republican Congressman from central Illinois. Here's the story, and his wiki site, his voting record. He appears to be a maverick of sorts.

He last made news when he condemned Palin for not controlling her 'vitriolic' crowds on the campaign trail, much to the delight of HuffPo's commenters. In 2007 he declared his retirement from the House and was lauded by members on both sides:
“He has given his all to public service,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.),the Democratic caucus chairman and a longtime LaHood friend.
Indeed he's described as a friend of Obama and Emanuel. During 2007 he visited Bush in DC for a friendly chat about an exit strategy from Iraq. After a phone call from the prez he said claimed he wasn't "bailing", though.

Some on the far right might be tempted to make an issue out of the fact he's on the House Arab-American committee, being of Arab descent. But he's Catholic. As to the current troubles with the llinois governor:
"Look, Governor Blagojevich can be characterized in two words; stupid and greedy. There is no other way to say it.
Hey--Obama said he wanted people with strong opinions. It remains to be seen how he'll come down on things like user fees for general aviation, FAA restructuring, or passenger rail initiatives. Obama seems to like trains, and we know how Biden feels about them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One More Time on the Weapons

ABC's Martha Raddatz got an on-the-road interview with president Bush about the shoe throwing incident but in the process showed the proper MSM method of how to question the Commander Guy. Huffpo was particularly impressed with one of the responses, but there were other interesting replies. Let's go to the video..

In print the "so what" comment seems a bit, shall we say, callous as hell. But when viewed it's clear he was trying to derail the reporter's attempt to blame him for AQ in Iraq forming in Iraq and pledging allegiance to bin Laden. That kind of pretzel logic is a fitting end to Dubya's interview legacy.

Anyone who's been following along on the Iraq story since the 90s should be appalled at the media's parsing and twisting in attempts to blame Bush for AQ in Iraq, especially ABC of all networks, who once claimed Saddam and bin Laden might hook up for evil doing. Context.

S0 after his 'so what' moment Bush quickly reminded Raddatz that Saddam was already a threat without al-Zarqawi, going into intricate detail about Hussein Kamel, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Saddam's long history of fomenting terror, and that famous story about his WMD program recounted in Timmerman's book and the feature of several 60 Minutes exposes. You remember the document we found, don't you? Page 260?
Another document, dated January 18, 1993, transmitted Saddam Hussein's order, delivered through his personal secretary, "to hunt the Americans that are in Arab lands, especially in Somalia, by using Arab elements or Asian [Muslims] or friends."

In response, the head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service informed Hussein that Iraq already had ties with a large number of international terrorist groups, including "the Islamist Arab elements that were fighting in Afghanistan and [currently] have no place to base and are physically present in Somalia, Sudan and Egypt."
In other words, al Qaeda.

OK, none of that actually happened. Bush gave his stock "Saddam was a threat and he's gone" reply with a slight twist, saying:
I have never claimed like some said that he -- you know, oh, that he was directly involved with the attacks on 9/11, but he did support terrorists. And, uh, Saddam Hussein had the capability making weapons of mass destruction.
Emphasis added to point out that "directly involved" doesn't preclude him being "indirectly involved", which leaves intact all the lurid Kos Kid theories.

But if Obama can be applauded for masterfully parsing words then Bush should be acknowledged even when mangling them. The fact he he once told network news anchors he guessed that AQ might be a sort of 'forward army' for Saddam still doesn't mean his possible involvement in 9/11 would have been 'direct'.

Oh, one last observation, this time on process. Notice in ABC's transcript they listed every "uh" Bush uttered. New attempt at accuracy? It sure does make Bush seem the bumbler we all know and love, but do they do this with everyone? For instance, Obama has been known to say his share of 'uhs' and other sentence joiners. Here's an ABC feature on his recent presser talking about Blagojevich, complete with video for the sake of compare/contrast. Surely there are other examples.

It's Freezing--Must be Global Warming Again

As Memphis battens down the hatches for an impending ice storm we get this from the AP:
Ironically, 2008 is on pace to be a slightly cooler year in a steadily rising temperature trend line. Experts say it's thanks to a La Nina weather variation. While skeptics are already using it as evidence of some kind of cooling trend, it actually illustrates how fast the world is warming.
Well Brian Bleeping Williams. And they say Bush scaremongered over terrorism. Wonder when Al Gore arrives? He must be coming to town with a dire climate change story just ahead of an ice storm advisory.

But OK, AP says 2008 is just a blip in an upward trend. Here's the chart. Any objective analysis would say we've reached a plateau of sorts since 1998, when Hansen's GISS unit last measured the warmest US year ever even though it occurred in 1934.

Nobody has yet to credibly explain what caused the cool down from the 1940s through the 1970s in North America so it's no wonder they're using La Nina to explain our recent leveling, since their climate models didn't compute it.

Therefore, predicting the next ten years is as much a crap shoot as predicting when the stock market will rebound or the Cubs will win the Series. That doesn't stop the AP from plunging forward and doing it, and without a trace of jest. A real red flag moment, or to use a football term, a T sign from coach Fisher.

But if global temperatures and climate models can be tripped by one La Nina cycle then why isn't it possible that our recent downturn in solar activity might not also be affecting things?

Of course, even speculating on such is blasphemy in global warming circles and could be considered offensive to Pacific Islanders, who are counting on the west to save them from the rising sea and other assorted things through world wealth spreading (which is OK as long as it's not at gunpoint).

So in essence we have the sun, a slight shift in Pacific ocean temperautures, an economic downturn, and two Republican Senators standing in the way of Euro-socialism on a world scale (except in China where it's already communistic and the Muslim world, who seemingly don't care about rising world temperatures because they're not mentioned specifically in the Qu'ran).

Ever seen the ads on TV that say, "order in the next 10 minutes or the sale will be over"? This moment has the same feel. If climate scientists are using La Nina to explain the unexplainable they really don't have a clue what's causing things. They think they do, but we also thought Saddam had underground caverns bubbling with VX. Such probably explains the frantic AP story--they, er, the scientists can't afford one more non-record year. World citizens surely can, though.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baghdad Shoe Throw

Bush moves pretty fast for an "old guy".

Unfortunately for him and those who helped restore some semblance of peace to Iraq this event is just more fodder for the legacy. Not surprisingly, the Huffposters are on a roll, spreading hope and change for a less divisive America:

As to the reporter, Muntazer al-Zaidi of al Baghdadia TV, he was allegedly kidnapped in Iraq back in November 2007:
An Iraqi TV journalist who was kidnapped last week in a busy Baghdad neighbourhood said he was released unharmed before dawn on Monday. Muntazer al-Zaidi, a correspondent for the independent al- Baghdadiya television station, said he spent more than two days blindfolded, barely eating and drinking, after armed men forced him into a car as he walked to work on Friday morning in the bustling Bab al-Sharji area of central Baghdad.
That's ripe for a few conspiracy theories, no doubt. We do know his TV network is now available online at something called Jump TV, so perhaps this was a simple publicity stunt. That would be a sign that things are really getting better over there.

MORE 12/14/08

This MSNBC article about the shoe throw is the epitome of Bush-bashing 101. Patterico has a must-see example of a shocking LA Times article on the trip that might shock you--don't miss it.

As to the fate of the shoe-thrower, Olbynetwork reports this plea from their brethren at al Baghdadia:
"The station calls on journalists all over the world to express their solidarity for the release of al-Zeidi," it said.
Shouldn't be much of a problem, guys.

SOME MORE 12/16/08

The more information trickles out, the less surprised everyone should be:
Interviews with Mr. al-Zaidi’s family and co-workers reveal a man with ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and long-building anger towards the United States military presence in Iraq.
BTW, the story mentions Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's old lawyer, as a possible pro bono lawyer. Whatever happened to his bombshell tell-all book?

Tamm Exposed

Newsweek has officially outed former FBI lawyer Thomas Tamm as the leaker who spilled the NSA surveillance program to the NY Times. This was rumored last year. More history here and here.

Reporter Michael Isikoff sets up the moment of apparent treason:
Tamm had been eyeing the phone booths on his way to work in the morning. Now, as he slipped through the parade of midday subway riders, his heart was pounding, his body trembling. Tamm felt like a spy. After looking around to make sure nobody was watching, he picked up a phone and called The New York Times.
Almost as if Risen or Lichtblau's names were written on the wall of the phone booth (hey, there were a lot of leaks around that time). The story actually claims he 'googled' their contact numbers but couldn't find one for Seymour Hersch. Isikoff also goes on to mention what appears to be new details about the 'program' but don't worry, AQ probably stopped reading Newsweek after the Koran flushing story.

The bigger question is whether Tamm acted alone. Many on the right have long speculated that someone very high up in the Senate/House food chain might have been involved with the leaks for political reasons (they occurred around the same time as the Plame mess and before the 2004 election). Indeed, the story mentions that Tamm reached out to a former colleague:
Tamm—who had no knowledge of the separate rebellion within the ranks of the Justice Department—decided independently to get in touch with Sandra Wilkinson, a former colleague of his on the Capital Case Unit who had been detailed to work on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
According to the story Wilkinson was a dead end. But is that all? According to Ken Timmerman's book "Shadow Warriors" (which documents Bush administration betrayal from inside) the FBI was investigating a "senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee" (page 253). Who were the senior Democrat members of the Senate Intel Cmte in 2004?
* John Rockefeller
* Carl Levin
Supposedly the only members 'read-in' on 'the program' were the first and second guys. Thing is, Newsweek said Tamm went to a Judiciary Committee staffer. So, who were the Democrats on the 107th Congress version of the Senate Judiciary Cmte?
* Patrick Leahy
* Joseph Biden
* Richard Durbin
* Maria Cantwell
* John Edwards
* Russ Feingold
* Diane Feinstein
* Edward Kennedy
* Herb Kohl
* Chuck Schumer
It would appear that Edwards, Feinstein, and Durbin were on both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees at that time but none of them should have known about 'the program'. One has to wonder if the FBI is, or ever was, investigating this. We do know Tamm was not an undecided voter in 2004:
He was, by this time, "pissed off" at the Bush administration, he says. He contributed $300 to the Democratic National Committee in September 2004, according to campaign finance records.
Whether his play was an act of conscience or a stunt to help get Kerry elected is hard to say without evidence. A lot of insiders were working against the administration around that time, perhaps even Powell and Armitage, and most probably believed their actions were righteous. But the bottom line is, the coup failed.

Maybe Tamm is hopeful that by going public he can thwart the FBI investigation as a sympathetic team Obama arrives, which might free him up to write a book and recover legal fees. Only time will tell. Another terrorist attack could change things in a hurry. But it's interesting that Newsweek used a question mark in the secondary title of their story, asking whether Tamm is a hero or criminal, then proceeded to list very few instances that would support the latter other than this comment by Francis Fragos Townsend:
"There are legal processes in place [for whistle-blowers' complaints]. This is one where I'm a hawk. It offends me, and I find it incredibly dangerous."
Tamm understands but has "few regrets". Perhaps one might be the outcome of the 2004 election?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Side Tracks

Not trying to be too much of a downer this week, but in light of the world's current problems this song seemed appropriate as a starter..

But there's always hope. Not sure when this was recorded but it appears that most of the original members were present..

Finally, since it's the holidays,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chickens ....

Coming home to roost:
"Madoff's investors included captains of industry, corporations -- some of which are publicly traded -- that used Madoff almost as a high-yielding cash management account, endowments, universities, foundations and, importantly, many high-profile funds of funds," said Douglas Kass, who heads hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management.

"It appears that at least $15 billion of wealth, much of which was concentrated in southern Florida and New York City, has gone to 'money heaven,'" he said.
Each passing day seems to reveal an American financial house made partially of playing cards. Expect more finger-pointing and blame shifting.

But the Reverend Wright was wrong. Oh yes, America's chickens are indeed coming home to roost--but not from any mistreatment of the Muslim world or twisted CIA experiments, but because too many of us, perhaps even the good Reverend himself, have fallen prey to the power of gold.

A wise man once feared the power, but he didn't understand the awesome power of spirit his experiment would eventually produce in the big cities and across the fruited plains. We can reverse this mess, there's ample precedent. It will take some will, not only to tough out the tough times but to fight the urge to fix things through a socialist tyranny. For that we need strong leadership that holds firm to the core principles and beliefs that made this nation great.

With that it seems an early start on this week's musical selection is in order:

Balance the cost of the soul you lost
With the dreams you lightly sold
Are you under
The power of gold?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bush on Evolution

Charles LGF Johnson has linked to Bush's comment on Nightline regards his views on religion, linking to a site suggesting it's causing 'an uproar'. Watch the You Tube clip at this site and just past the smarmy "does God talk to you" question it appears around 2:10:
"Is it literally true, the Bible?" Bush - "Probably not. No, I'm not a literalist".
Bush goes on to say "you can have both" as to evolution existing with God. I think he's right.

Johnson has been having lots of fun of late bashing creationists but he left no comment on this one. He didn't have to--the post says speaks for itself. Chances are he's filled with glee that the creationist hero has popped a sacred balloon.

But the rub is that while Bush may not be a literalist or young earth creationist he's still a creationist (and Christian). He said he leans on the Bible for his daily life, quite similar to what he said going in during 2000. It's true he might have caught some flack had he opened up that much but let's not forget he's a politician.

But his views aren't insane. Genesis itself was prescient in the timeline, starting with darkness (nothing), going to light (Big Bang), to unformed earth, then to formed earth, life-plants, animals and man, and all without any meaningful science whatsoever. Presuming the days aren't taken literally--and recall there wasn't a 24 hour day until the solar system was formed--then micro and even macro evolution can exist within that framework. This is what the Catholic Church seems to believe now, and it's where I come down on the issue as well.

The crux is what caused everything. As the president said, he believes it would have taken a God/Creator to bring everything into existence, which makes him a creationist in the root sense, ie, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Most hard core evolutionists and scientists won't go there without proof, perhaps Charles being one of them, but in the big picture it takes a true article of faith to believe that life just "popped in there" from nothing one day, then immediately learned how to replicate itself. This is the core of what Christians do not want taught in schools without 'proof'.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hang in There, Blago!

If all 50 Democratic Senators are calling for him to resign immediately, along with Obama, something must be up. Cap'n Ed has a clue.

I say, hang in there, Hot Rod. The public liked Dick Durban's idea of a special election and you were going to leave in January anyway. Be a hero and wage one more bleeping fight for the bleeping public on your way out the bleeping door!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bleep them!

You'll read a lot more elsewhere, just wanted to make a few comments here as the Blagojevich "Senate Seat Sale" story unfolds:

On Obama:

I found it interesting he said he had no knowledge of this, then later said he couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation.

Politico is making some hay with Axelrod's new denial, which might suggest Obama is on tape somewhere, but Fitz has already said he's not involved.

It's hard to imagine a smart guy like the One putting himself in jeopardy by getting too close to this guy but it's also hard to imagine him playing the game without getting his uniform dirty. Maybe he's clean, maybe somebody else paid his toll. I'm still intrigued as to what actually transpired during his Senate battle with Jack Ryan in 2004, but one would think that ground was thoroughly plowed by now--by Hillary if nobody else.

On Jesse, Jr:

His comments Monday were certainly awkward and ill-timed in retrospect. Wonder whose junk pop Jackson wants to snip this time?

On Blago:

Is there one more deal in his future? Can he get away with turning states' evidence? BTW, his campaign slogan was
..a reformer promising to clean up former Gov. George Ryan's mess.
Change he can believe in!

On Paddy Fitz:

I tried hard not to bash him too hard during the Plamegate affair because of his previous work with Andy McCarthy in the Southern District of NY going after terrorists. I think it's clear he's a prosecutor in the vein of Elliott Ness, and really really doesn't like corruption. Now-- can Obama afford to fire him along with the rest of the US Attorneys next year?

On this type of corruption in general:

Fitz should come down to Memphis some time.

MORE 12/09/08

Wonder how today's events will affect his order for Illinois to stop doing business with Bank of America over the Republic Windows and Doors shutdown? In hindsight it looks like he could have been grandstanding the story to gain some political cover/absolute moral authority hoping the story would grow as a push-back on Fitz. Wonder if it had any impact on Fitz's decision to pull out the cuffs when he did?

THAT WAS FAST 12/09/08

Bank of America caved, but only to provide funding to allow the exit payments owed the workers on their way out the door. Nevertheless, a victory for the new international workers 'movement' mentioned by Jan Schakowsky, oddly enough herself one of the listed possibilities for Obama's old job.

Speaking of Ms. Schakowsky, here's a little history about her and husband Robert Creamer, including this:
Creamer taught at “Camp Obama,” a week-long summer camp last month held at the presidential candidate’s office in Chicago for campaign interns and volunteers–just a few blocks away from the federal court where on August 31, 2005 he pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and failure to pay federal taxes…on charges brought by U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Small world.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Saving the Republic

The situation at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago is bad. Anytime workers are told on a Wednesday they won't have jobs on Friday it's a sign of chickencrud management. No surprise the employees are outraged and fighting for their rights. Most would do the same.

But check out some of the comments in this Yahoo write up of the event...
"These workers deserve their wages, deserve fair notice, deserve health security," Jackson said. "This may be the beginning of long struggle of worker resistance finally."
The first two items are no-brainers but the last one, "deserve health security", is clearly code talk for socialism. Or social justice. Call it by whatever name you choose.
One of the factory's workers, Silvia Mazon, said in Spanish that she needs the money owed to her for an $1,800 monthly house payment. The 40-year-old from Cicero said she has enough money saved to survive for one month. "We're making history," she said.
Why are they making history? The laws are already on the books to provide certain compensations, but if the company couldn't get a line of credit how are they supposed to pay? Best for last:
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, called it the start of a movement. "This story has resonated around the world," she said.
Really? Are people in Chinese sweat shops ready to rise up against their bosses now? And exactly what kind of "movement" do these outside observers expect to hatch from a case of ill-treated workers due to a pulling of business credit? Is it something Bill Ayers would be proud of, perhaps?

Obviously the bugaboo here is the bailout. In times past Jesse would have spoken, the unions would have screamed, then everything would have eventually been worked out in some extended fashion. But under the current credit crunch businesses who depend on short-term loans to get them through payrolls have almost no choice but suspend operations if their line is pulled and they have no cash on hand.

Enter the politicians. With precedent set by giving a blank check to Wall St bankers they will now demand control over the spending of this bailout if it suits their polling data. Whether Republic was credit worthy anymore becomes a secondary point--populist conventional wisdom will say the Joe Sixpacks of Republic deserve a bailout more than the rich suits on Wall St, and they've got most of the moral authority.

But not all. The businesses themselves can play the game by abruptly laying off their staffs to draw publicity, hoping that the bank and politicians will save them. In this case, the governor of Illinois is punishing Bank of America for a business decision that in the past would have been without much question. That's a slippery slope if there ever was one.

Bush seems to be realizing this but it may be too late. The Dems are now in great position to use this leverage to turn America as far left as they've always dreamed. Right now their only obstacle is 2 votes in the Senate.

But in reality the American people will have the final say. If we as a country have collectively lost the ability to deal with the ups and downs of our free-market economy as did previous generations then neither Congress nor the president will have any effective control over the runaway train, even if they're riding in the engine. A pivotal moment seems near.

MORE 12/08/08

Here's an insightful piece about the GM/Chrysler bailout, coming perhaps on Tuesday. Key points--GM is in such horrible shape they could be forced into liquidation within a month without a massive cash infusion. The writer suggests the current Senate, with a prostrate Clinton, Obama and Biden, could be persuaded to put the hammer on the UAW to agree to take some of the pain as a condition of any bailout.

Would Gettelfinger have the balls to try some kind of a sit-in as they're doing in Chicago right now with GM (and America) in the balance? Or will the Repubs cave as usual, fearful of the typical reaction from the Che Guevara press?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Who was Muhammad Bayazid?

Patrick Fitzgerald is best known to most folks for prosecuting Scooter Libby, but before that circus erupted he spent a considerable amount of time trying to prosecute Muslim charities suspected of acting as money conduits for Islamic terrorism. One of them, the Holy Land Foundation, was only recently convicted for funneling money to Hamas (ironically, Libby source and former Times reporter Judy Miller was involved in a leak involving Holy Land before the Plame affair).

Another group was the Benevolence International Fund, a Chicago organization founded by Enaam Arnaout and run by a man named Mohammad Loay Bayazid during the mid 90s. Mr. Bayazid is considered one of the founding members of al Qaeda yet was operating right under our noses.

The FBI actually took interest in BIF during the early 90s. Eventually Fitzgerald would be instrumental in shutting them down and nabbing founder Enaam Arnaout on several charges. Here's a transcript from CNN back in 2002:
Mr. Arnaout is from the Chicago suburbs. As I said, he heads Benevolence International Foundation, it is one of those charities that had their assets frozen, their files seized.
By the time BIF was brought down former director Bayazid had fled to Turkey then on to Sudan. You conservatives might be thinking hey, Chicago--any connection between these guys and figures like Tony Rezko? From open source records there appears to have been only a tangential connection--they shared lawyers:
Joseph Duffy -- Rezko's chief criminal-defense lawyer -- is a onetime prosecutor with more than 25 years of experience in white-collar-crime cases, Duffy's past clients include Muslim charity leader Enaam Arnaout
A pretty thin reed. Anyway, after 9/11, while Fitz was pursuing Arnaout in Chicago the FBI was very interested in Bayazid. Former CIA Chief George Tenet, in his memoirs, reported that Bayazid was interviewed in Sudan in late 2001 by FBI agent Jack Cloonan. While in Sudan he also met with a man the 9/11 Commission called al Qaeda's WMD chief procurement person, Mubarak al-Duri. Neither man was apprehended, rendered, or anything. According to History Commons:
CIA will interview them in 2002, but they apparently remain free in Sudan (see Mid-2002)
Apparently it's only a coincidence that Mubarak al-Duri shares a sirname with Iraq's number one most-wanted criminal, Izzat al-Duri and is himself from Iraq. From reading this account it appears that Mubarak removed himself from suspicion by telling Cloonan that UBL hated the scotch-drinking womanizing Saddam, or perhaps removed any links between Iraq and bin Laden. That's fine until one considers the fact that UBL reportedly met Iraqi rep Farouq Hijazi in Sudan in 1993 and again in Afghanistan in 1998, and that Zacarias Moussaoui once said it's OK to lie for jihad.

Meanwhile another Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh, is currently on trial for his life down at GTMO. Interestingly, the US Govt at one time had a solid bead on the organizer of 9/11 back in the mid 90s when he was staying in Qatar. From History Commons again:
By October 1995, the FBI tracks KSM to a certain apartment building in Qatar. Then, using high-technology surveillance, his presence in the building is confirmed. [Miniter, 2003, pp. 85-86]

Mahle [CIA agent -ed] argues that KSM should be rendered out of the country in secret. The US began rendering terrorist suspects in 1993 (see 1993), and a prominent Egyptian extremist is rendered by the CIA in September 1995 (see September 13, 1995). She argues her case to CIA headquarters and to the highest reaches of the NSA, but is overruled. [Guardian, 3/31/2005] Instead, the decision is made to wait until KSM can be indicted in a US court and ask Qatar to extradite him to the US. Despite the surveillance on KSM, he apparently is able to leave Qatar and travel to Brazil with bin Laden and then back to Qatar at the end of 1995 (see December 1995). KSM will be indicted in early 1996, but he will escape from Qatar a few months later (see January-May 1996).
The History Commons entry for KSM is extremely interesting on many levels. Not completely sure of its accuracy as it appears to be stocked with news media stories and a healthy dose of Peter Lance material, nevertheless it suggests the CIA knew of KSM back in the 80s during the Afghan wars or perhaps even had him on the payroll. It's reasonable to assume, keeping in mind it's an assumption, that KSM became the ultimate example of blowback, ie, after helping us defeat the Soviets he turned 180 degrees to help defeat the USA. Could this explain our reluctance to capture him (and bin Laden) when they were available in the mid 90s (they reportedly took a trip to Brazil together around that same time) or was it pure politics? Or just bad luck?

Or was it because KSM supposedly knew members of the Pakistani ISI and perhaps even president Sharif himself? One can only imagine the discussions of the Clinton national security team in pondering what to do with KSM if they brought him back to America for the WTC bombing only to have his connections to the Pakistanis spill out. Keep in mind that around the same time his nephew Ramzi Yousef was part of a failed plot to assassinate Benazir Bhutto (like the WTC, they finally got their target). Now Secretary Rice is saying the Mumbai attacks were planned in Pakistan. Hmmm, as the bloggers say.

While KSM is set to fry both Mubarak and Izzat al-Duri, Mohammad Bayazid, 1993 WTC Abdul Yasin, and KSM's brother Zahid Sheikh Mohammed, remain at large along with Zawahiri and bin Laden. Incredibly, so does a man named Abd al-Karim Yousef, who according to HC is Ramzi Yousef's twin brother. Check out their writeup on him, which begins with an interesting premise, if not more than a little conspiratorial. However it is known that Nichols dictated a will to his ex-wife before making one of those trips to the Philippines, so concerned he was about something.

It's unlikely Obama can find enough sunshine to untangle this mess during our lifetimes, even if he wanted to.

WHO'S ON TRIAL, AGAIN?? 12/08/08

From reading this CNN story about KSM and the gang one might wonder just exactly who's on trial--the intolerant, head-chopping killers who are not just at war with the US Military but with individual citizens, or George W Bushitler. It's a real toss up.