Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Morning After

Interesting morning. While president Bush is still out peddling gloom the stock market has yet to tank and we're getting some financial schooling from the various experts.

The FP article equating the bailout with Marx's proposal five (having state controlled credit) will make the biggest bruise (or shall we say, mark). It tends to equate certain internet commentators with Marxist philosophy, ironic since some of these commentators are out accusing Obama of hanging with Marxists. Touche--but the world isn't the same as it was in 1930.

One of the stated goals of bin Laden was the collapse of American influence around the world. In order to accomplish that goal, according to some of their tapes, they tried to "draw us out" with 9/11 and get us into a war in the heart of Islam in an effort to gain converts while draining our treasury. Bin Laden is from a financial family--he knew our military budgets depend to some degree on of our financial markets. The Afghan Mujahadeen (with US Stingers) brought about a collapse of the Soviet Union through a prolonged war, which allowed the rise of the Taliban, which allowed the camps that trained the perps who pulled off 9/11 and other attacks.

How can this be ignored in the equation?

A collapse of American (and European, East Asian and Australian) wealth could certainly put pressure on western leaders to withdraw from the WoT and cede Afghanistan and Iraq back to the enemy as economies contract. While that seems to contradict bin Laden's long war it's just the opposite--it means he can declare victory. Bugging out will allow his followers to establish centers of power all over the oil-rich middle east and central Asia, which leaves us in a helluva bad position. Sarah Palin will probably explain Thursday night how we can escape that resource trap by tapping Alaska.

Is bringing the WoT into context with our financial mess just fearmongering? You decide. Certainly if you're a follower of the 9/11 truther crowd/ one world government-trilateral commission crowd this is just one act in the play. If you're an Obama follower and truly believe him when he says Afghanistan is the main threat and we must place more assets and resources there--even to the point of violating a nuclear Islamic country's sovereignty--then this bailout makes at least some sense as to the future of the Republic. But if you're a follower of McCain and understand the importance of how a successful Iraq impacts the region and would thwart the goals of bin Laden's evil plan, then the bailout also makes sense, but in a different way.

Ivins Update

It's mostly forgotten amidst all the financial news but information continues to trickle out about Dr. Ivins regards the anthrax mailings. A log has surfaced of his security in/out swipe card register showing in detail when he entered/exited the various facilities at the Fort on September 17/18 and for October 6-9 during the mailing windows.

This is new information--the original affidavit had a log of his evening visits that stopped on September 16, saying, "after September 16, Dr. Ivins did not enter Suite B3 in the evening again until September 25". There was similar language after October 5th. Both are seemingly contradictory to this new log information.

You may recall that some lefties (who generally can't wait to prove the government mailed the envelopes) got lathered up over this WaPo article last month that purportedly attributed Ivin's leave taken during the day on September 17th as the window of opportunity, that is until the lefties reminded everyone the postmark would have been on the 17th. The window was then moved forward to the overnight hours of the 17th-18th.

Ed Lake has a synopsis but he apparently made a mistake on September 18th, the day the letters were postmarked. Ivins either had two windows of opportunity that day or something is amiss with the logs.

More here..

Monday, September 29, 2008

We Have Nothing to Fear..

Somewhere bin Laden is smiling. Today America suffered the largest single day stock dump since the day trading began after September 11th, 777 points or over a trillion on paper. And just like after 9/11, everybody is looking for someone to blame.

We could start with the shrew in charge of the House of Representatives who's been playing politics with this issue from day one. Some patriot. Or maybe Barney "what me, worry?" Frank for ignoring the growing problems with Fannie/Freddie in 2004...all he didn't say was "Frankie's (Raines) doing a heckuva job" while at the time he was busy running an Enron-like accounting scam. Thankfully he's had time lately to lower his golf handicap. Today Frank blamed the bill's defeat on GOP members getting their "feelings hurt" over Pelosi's hardball partisanship while Main Street's future hung in the balance. After his history we can now deem him officially clueless.

But let's not forget all the Republican Congressmorons who voted no to protect their reelection chances over their country. Maybe Pelosi was right about their patriotism. Or the 90+ Democrat Congresshacks who hit the no button either out of fear or because there wasn't enough bailout in the bailout. What, not enough nuts for the ACORN lobbyists who helped get us in this mess? Stunning hubris.

By the way, if the shrew plays this card all HELL should be rained down in Washington. Not literally, of course, but via whatever communications means are available.

Main Street? Sure, a lot of us fell hook, line, and sinker for the "I want it all, and I want it now" school of finance. But we were all duped, of course, right? Right. Apparently too many of us were not listening closely when "Poor Richard's Almanack" was discussed in school, if such a thing is even mentioned anymore. Or maybe it's all Bush's fault for telling us to "go shopping" or not yelling loud enough from the pulpit. Still, the problem remains.

This is a seminal moment in American history, the kind of moment that in the past has produced great statesmen who've stepped up and done the right thing. We await their arrival.

In the meantime, this is America--we always take the glass half full side. "777" is supposed to be a lucky number. Things will be done--there are simply too many people depending on us across the globe.

MORE 9/29/08

Again, if this was such a "crisis" and Pelosi needed bi-partisanship to git r done, why did so many Dems take a pass?
That being the case, and given the fact that the legislation was in fact a negotiated, bipartisan compromise, the first duty of the majority party is to line up its members to support the majority's bill. But evidence is growing that the Democrats did no such thing.

As of yesterday, the Democrats' House whip, Jim Clyburn said that he hadn't even begun "whipping" Democratic representatives, and wouldn't do so unless and until he got orders from Nancy Pelosi. Today, Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio told NPR that he never was "whipped" on the bill. So Pelosi evidently left Democrats to vote their consciences--which is to say, vote against the bill if they thought it was politically necessary--while counting on Republicans to put the bill over the top.

This is a classic Charlie Brown and the football maneuver. Pelosi gives a speech that frames the issue, falsely, as the result of bad Republican policies, then allows her own threatened representatives to do the popular thing while expecting Republicans to take one for the team by casting an unpopular vote. Which, of course, their Democratic opponents would use against them, thereby increasing the Democratic majority in the House.
Something else. It's well known that older voters vote early and often (not in the Chicago sense). They are very sensitive to disruptions in their annuities/fixed incomes for obvious reasons, and quite often choose accordingly. Who's now in better position to help the seniors?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Terrorist Mind Games

This is what happens when terrorists are allowed a voice in court:
Mohammed, wearing a black turban, began by asking Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann about his religious beliefs and whether he had any association with the religious organizations of Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell.
Not to be outdone, his sidekick Binalshibh chimed in:
"Your last name is Kohlmann, which is a Jewish name, not a Christian name." Kohlmann told him he was mistaken.
The picture painted by the WaPo was a chilling game of turning the tables reminiscent of some of the most intelligently deranged criminals in history. We should take note that none of them claimed hostility towards Cheney for the inside job.

All this talk about KSM rekindles an old question--what happened to his brother Zahid al-Sheikh (Zahid Sheikh Mohammed)? According to Simon Reeve's "The New Jackals" Zahid was a bigwig with Mercy International in Pakistan, a Muslim charity that reportedly was used to funnel money for al Qaeda. Zahid supposedly had contacts with bin Laden and even former Pakistani president Nawaz Sharif. It's unclear whether he's being pursued, and if not, why not.

Times Finally Does Expose on Ayers

Just kidding. Their ongoing fantasy that Mr. Obama's hazy relationship with the unrepentant, Marxist-loving domestic terrorist, which he misled a debate audience about, is still not fit to print.

The same gray lady looks upon Mr. McCain and sees no ethical problem dropping unfounded allegations, such as today's investigation of his reputation as a gambler:
A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table.
It's prudent to begin reading such articles in the middle, working towards the end (where all the meat lies), then returning to the top for context. In this case the middle starts about here:
Mr. McCain’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, would not discuss the senator’s night of gambling at Foxwoods, saying: “Your paper has repeatedly attempted to insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists — and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has.”
The jist--Mr. McCain sided with the Indians sometimes; other times he didn't; and various times he's correctly stated that the Indian gaming industry is a potential black hole of exploitation and graft, as we saw with Mr. Abramoff. The real jist was to get the words McCain, lobbyist and gambler together in the same story, and they succeeded.

Missing from the article was Mr. Harry Reid's affiliation with Indian tribes and Mr. Abramoff. Sure, Mr. Reid's not running for president but he is running the very chamber where Mr. McCain performs his gambling, er, gaming reform.

But for some reason the Times seems to think its readers deserve more in-depth reportage about a man who entered the public eye around the time Mr. Obama became legal to drink than about a man who won't even release his college transcript from Columbia. Heck, any Mr. Average Joe on the street who attended college and is seeking a government job must provide a transcript or they'll lose points. Shouldn't an applicant for the presidency be held to the same standards? Perhaps the Times is diligently working on this important story right now.

Bail Out Blues

As we await the final verdict on whether al Qaeda might gain a backdoor win in the War on Terror through a collapse of the western financial system, here's a historical clip explaining to some degree how we got to our present state, which was picked off the Blue Collar Muse's site (who picked it off the mail). It's a bit rough and you might have to pause it a few times--but it gets the point across that our current problem is a perfect storm of greed, social engineering, and aversion to financial reality:



It also makes Nancy Pelosi look like a cartoonish liar when she said the Democrats had nothing to do with this crisis, one which now threatens overseas banks (maybe that's why they wanted to protect them, too?).

McCain and the GOP did exactly the correct thing by delaying a quick passage, allowing time for the history books to swing open while also stopping a funding scheme that would have rewarded the very Democrat shill groups that contributed to the problem. Here's to bi-partisanship!

MORE 9/28/08

From the Village Voice, last month:
While fashioning these final rules, Cuomo wrestled with the octopus-like reach of Fannie and Freddie, which spend tens of millions each year on lobbying firms. The GSEs hired 88 lobbying firms over six years, three of which were friendly enough with Cuomo to give to his campaign committee later.

Just a look at the New Yorkers tied to the GSEs must have impressed Cuomo, who, after all, would soon return to New York politics. Harold Ickes, the former Clinton chief of staff and a Democratic power broker in this state, was on the Freddie board. Tom Downey, the former New York congressman who would later donate $21,894 to Cuomo, was a Fannie lobbyist. And Al D'Amato, the former banking committee chair who'd shepherded Cuomo's appointment through the Republican Senate, was a Fannie consultant
.
Ironically (or not) Cuomo was just mentioned by McCain as somebody he could see as SEC Chairman. Good Lord.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Side Tracks

How about some ladies of rock and rock. First, a flash in the pan from 1980..



Cherie and Marie Currie rose in the era of Suzi Quatro and Joan Jett (Cherie Currie played with Jett in the Runaways) but this was their only real hit together.

Toning down a bit, here's the "other chick" in Fleetwood Mac:



It's amazing Christine McVie survived as long as she did surrounded by those massive egos but she held her own musically.

Obama Wins the Spin

Not shocking, but quite a few Saturday morning papers are spinning the debate results. CNN even went so far as to admit it:
The results may be favoring Obama simply because more Democrats than Republicans tuned in to the debate. Of the debate-watchers questioned in this poll, 41 percent of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 27 percent as Republicans and 30 percent as independents.
But, it produced the headline they wanted.

Similarly, our own Commercial Appeal headlined an "Obama won" poll, explaining it as follows:
The poll was conducted for The Commercial Appeal by the Atlanta-based polling firm Inside Advantage/Poll Position and was taken after the debate. Obama was declared the winner by 42 percent of those polled. McCain got the call on 41 percent. The debate was too close to call by 17 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percent.
Interestingly, they tossed up an internet poll on their own website and as of 11:00am CDT here's what it showed:



No headline there.

CBS assembled a bunch of uncommitted voters for their poll, who gave the edge to Obama apparently because he held his own without a teleprompter (anyone who'd seen his primary debates should have known).

But perhaps the most interesting result regarding Obama was on Iraq. Recall he won the nomination against Hillary largely due to his superior position on opposing the Iraq war from the beginning, a charge which Hillary could never effectively counter, losing her the anti-war vote. However, with a national debate and a more mainstream audience that previous opposition didn't seem to carry as much weight:
But when it came to the war in Iraq, McCain was the stronger candidate. Before the debate, 44 percent said that McCain would make the right decisions about the war; that rose to 56 percent after the debate. Fewer thought Obama would make the right decisions on Iraq.
That seems to indicate that the American public cares more about the future than the past--winning the war is more important than Obama's judgment when he was a state Senator with no vote.

But perhaps the best evidence that Obama didn't win the debates came from his home network, who proclaimed a tie.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate Thread

9:05: McCain is winning. On points. On facial expressions. On tone. On poise. Barack's facial expressions when he's not talking tell the tale. So far!

9:10: Every time Barack makes some good debate points, McCain fires back with his own reality and tears them down. His stuttering example of Ahmadinejad in New York (who probably had pre-conditions for his own meeting with Larry King) was effective.

But Barack landed a left with his Zapataro. Nice reply on the seal, though.

9:15: McCain just hit a home run OVER Waveland Avenue with his tear-apart of Barack's feeble defense of his "without preconditions" meeting philosophy (said he'd sit down with them). Obama tried to use Kissinger as a hammer to hit McCain bit it backfired because as Mac pointed out, you DO want "contacts" (as Kissinger indicated) but NOT high PR summit meetings that would legitimize crazy tinhorn rhetoric.

9:27: Obama just argued himself into a ball on nuclear energy and Russia/Georgia.

9:28: McCain just mentioned borders, which a first for the night. On a national security debate.

9:29: Ah, the nuclear suitcase threat. I thought only World Nut Daily believed in that threat. Obama will restore America's standing in the world..by invading Pakistan.

9:32: McCain once again seems to be schooling Obama on almost every point, such as reminding him of the after-effects on terrorist morale on us getting our butts kicked in Iraq. Again, his sidelong glances are the telltale of this event so far. It's not that he's doing that bad--it's just that Mac is doing that good.

9:33: The Maverick needs to watch puffing himself up too much--Obama can use that against him next time. But overall, it was a thumpin'.

MORE THOUGHTS

Lehrer was nearly invisible, as it should be. The best moderator yet.

McCain did have a preachy tone at times, almost like a father lecturing a son. Such a thing will work to his disadvantage with some undecideds.

Mac's clearly done a lot of these things and knew better than to give up cheap side camera angle reaction shots when Obama was speaking, something Obama hasn't yet learned to control--he appeared genuinely frustrated at times. As we know, non-verbals are a huge factor in these things, and I thought McCain won them tonight.

As the Gateway Pundit said, McCain nailed Obama hard on earmarks. Mac pointing out that Obama had a million per day in earmarks at a time when we're dicsussing 700 billion bailouts should have been a hard right cross, especially when Obama couldn't answer the question of how he'd govern differently (in other words, what has to go).

I do agree with John Hinderacker at Power Line that Obama came off presidential enough to be accepted as legitimate, but do we want presidential or presidential enough? McCain was deeper in knowledge on just about every topic and despite several veiled attempts to fluster, never lost his cool.

Calling the Truth Squad

Obama has reportedly started "truth squads" in Missouri to fight teh smears, including prosecutors and even county sheriffs using legal methods (dare we say tasers?) to bring the haters to justice.

Well, if this clip is circulating in Missoura they better get to work.

Friday Thoughts

Mr. Change went to DC. Mr. Change spoke at the bi-partisan meeting. And change was nowhere to be seen:
"a sour, contentious note after animated exchanges among lawmakers.."
Fresh off that stunning level of harmonic change, Mr. Change was interviewed on whether McCain might change his mind about the decision to suspend the straight talk express and not attend the Ole Miss debate, to which he replied:
"Sen. McCain has no need to be fearful about a debate," Obama told reporters. "He's a person of strong opinions and he's been expressing them on the campaign trail."
Did he just call McCain a scaredy cat? Hopefully he changes that tone of change.

BAIL OUT

We have two choices: allow the bail out and suffer the consequences, or suffer the consequences. I'm still leaning towards the government doing something mainly because I don't relish the thoughts of a depression. Call it selfish--it probably is, but I was also in favor of Bush suspending some liberties in the name of security to go after terrorists who might use loose WMDs. That was back when almost everyone on the left was screaming daily about "sacrificing liberty in the name of temporary security", which was horrible when chasing terrorists but's now quite OK when it comes to their money and health care.

There are much better conservatives than I, and you can find one right here.

It would be nice if the Feds could treat this like when they took over a railroad--setting up a quasi government corporation later sold for a small profit--if only to keep it outside the claws of grandstanding demigods, dingbats and social engineers like Barney Frank, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. All in all, viewed from any side it's bad.

OBAMA'S TUTELAGE

If this story, or this one, are even partially true Americans voting for Obama need to ask themselves just how badly they value the American system of government. It was clear long ago that Obama was a figurehead for the social left, and what better time for him to come upon the scene with the government poised to take over most of the finance markets.

DEBATE

We're loaded and ready for bear, a description that might become more apt as the evening wears on. Yes, it has been a long tough week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meanwhile ....

Losing most of the value of a 401K is bad enough but our current universe of threats continues to feature various terrorists, rogues, and evil-doers, including at least one sawed-off asshat who stood in America and proclaimed our demise to our very faces (then was treated to happy talk on Larry King Live). Some of these distinguished world citizens would no doubt love to exploit our present precarious financial position and impending power transition [Ed- pre-emptive liberal comment insertion-- "all thanks to Bush, the real terrorist"].

The Former Spook points to an interesting column in Long War Journal about a mysterious Iranian flagged ship seized by Somali pirates:
After taking control of the ship, the MV Iran Deyanat was taken to Eyl, a small fishing village in northeastern Somalia, where it was secured by up to 100 pirates; 50 ashore and the rest on the ship. But, the hijacking then took a strange turn, as described by the LWJ:

Within days, pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair. Independent sources tell The Long War Journal that a number of pirates have also died. "Yes, some of them have died.
According to the captain's manifest the ship was hauling "minerals". As a commenter pointed out at Spook's place, Yellowcake sorta falls in that category.

But if so, to whom? Why would anyone be shipping YC into Africa? Iran has a history of cooperating with extremists in East Africa such as Hassan al-Turabi and Somalia is currently a chaotic state. And it's no secret Iran has a strategic interest in seeing American influence reduced in this area due to international oil tanker transits.

Perhaps most telling is that Russian ships are steaming in that direction (as others head to Venezuela) while the U.S. offered millions to buy the cargo booty from the pirates. Most interesting, if just a pile of minerals. My question is whether this type of event (or other threats we don't know about) are having any influence on the deliberation of the bailout bill. It's hardly likely America could launch an assault on Iran's nukes in this condition--unless it's all part of the ruse.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Real Problem

Everyone is going crazy on this financial bailout plan, and for good reason. We've got Ron Paul on one side saying we should wash our hands and let the chips fall while a bi-partisan collection of Congressional clucks on the other side--some of whom are partially responsible--are saying we gotta move fast fast fast to keep the credit system from collapsing.

Evidently that's what Bush will talk about tonight, and what McCain won't be talking about Friday night. My jury is still in deliberation, currently leaning towards a bailout of some kind, but wondering why we have to act immediately.

I'm leaning towards bailout due to two large elephants in the room that weren't present in 1929 or any of the previous depressions--terrorism and a global economy. If America slides into a fast moving depression we'll drag the world along since so many economies depend on our ability, as Beldar once said, to consume mass quantities. That will produce a more destabilized world, one that contains loose WMDs.

Speaking of which, terrorism has lately become a blip in the polls. Matter of fact, when this subject is interjected into the financial discussion the reaction tends to be "you're overreacting/fearmongering". Well, maybe. Eight years elapsed between the first and second attacks on the WTC and we're now at seven, and just as in early 2001, our public focus has faded as another transition of power approaches. Yet has anyone heard the official announcement proclaiming al Qaeda's surrender?

Actually, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just stood on American soil yesterday and heralded our demise. Clearly he believes Islam will rise to fill the void, making it plausible for AQ to strike here and strike now assuming they're capable. 9/11 was an attack on the economy, after all. Recall what happened to the Dow Jones. Already some on the left are reminding us about the problem so as to hasten our retreat and we may indeed be forced down that path. But history has shown it to be a poor choice against this enemy. Rather depressing commentary for a hump day I know, but just had to say it.

But let's look at the bright side. A huge economic meltdown would reduce our carbon footprint quite substantially, giving the planet more than the 10 years Gore said we've got left to act before everything melts. The Polar Bears will be safe. And, with all the companies going belly up in America the illegals might even return home with hats in hand due to a sudden lack of jobs Americans won't do.

MORE 9/24/08

Hey, maybe W hasn't given up on being the Uniter.

Hmmm. Sure sounds like Bush is confirming McCain's seriousness on this issue. A skeptic might say it provides the cover McCain needs to get back into Friday's debate, but one might think if it's just that--cover--Obama wouldn't hesitate to exploit it. So it must be something deeper.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pining for Mahmoud

Here's how CNN described Ahmadinejad's visit to the UN:
As Ahmadinejad spoke, the only person at the United States table was a note-taker; no U.S. diplomat was present. When President Bush spoke earlier Tuesday, however, Ahmadinejad was in the room.
Guess they missed this.

It's almost as if this story was lifted from Iran's Press TV as it went on to twice apologetically explain his previous remarks about "wiping Israel off the map"--only a "political" threat not physical--then repeated all his other distorted talking points, which are distortions.

But his comment about the American empire falling, while hard to fully rebut due to our recent financial mess, was the worst of all. Rather bizarre to read it on an American news website quoting from an enemy standing on American soil rubbing things in our face while both CNN and A'jad know they've been actively killing American soldiers in Iraq and helping the Taliban in Afghanistan (Shia cooperating with Sunni no less).

Obama weighed in on the speech and seemingly urged McCain to get just as tough on the regime as HE has been, which utterly confounded one noted blogger, who mentioned something about tools.

Watch out DC, here comes Barack America!

It'll certainly take superhero powers to succeed with this rescue:
Obama pledged to create a "high-performance team" to evaluate every federal agency and office. After such reviews, he said, "We will fire government managers who aren't getting results, we will cut funding for programs that are wasting your money, and we will use technology and lessons from the private sector to improve efficiency across every level of government -- because we cannot meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy."
Emphasis added for comedic value, although the cause is certainly noble. Team-0 must be proud of themselves for thinking up this gem. Barack needs tax money to pay for his expansive health care bureaucracy but can't get it by shredding the military like Clinton did, especially with the Fed handing out corporate welfare like chiclets. The only place left is the regular government but wait--he also needs the votes of those regular government workers.

True, but not necessarily from government managers.

So the strategy seems to be setting up a special posse to carve out lower and middle level managers (sending them to the federal workers who hand out unemployment checks) while sparing the grunts. The upsides are obvious--the grunts will cheer their boss's impending demise generating even stronger good will for the One come November 4th. The rest of America not employed by Uncle Sam will cheer as well.

Not only that, but middle level managers make much more than the grunts and aren't represented by unions. While they've got the courts, some first line supervisors might not be able to afford a lengthy court fight to save their jobs. And the media will offer them little sympathy. In other words, more bang for the termination buck.

Politically speaking the GOP will hardly be in position to howl about the formation of a small new government program as long as it's mission is to remove other government employees. It's brilliant!

But there are pitfalls. We're talking about the federal government, not Wally World. Both Clinton and Bush undertook massive reviews without much success. Everyone knows it almost takes a murder witnessed by a Civil Service Commissioner to successfully "fire" a government employee, even some managers. Many of these folks will have perfectly stellar performance reviews and may drag things through the courts for wrongful termination, age discrimination and so forth. And what if the managers fired are minorities? What if they're not?

And will the rank and file really applaud as vigorously as hoped as their former colleagues bite the dust?

After all, many of those workers have aspirations to rise into the same positions Obama wants to remove. So while some might take temporary delight in seeing their personal Mr. Potter shown the door they'll also have mixed feelings about not getting that same job, along with the new car and big screen TV that comes with the extra money. So, good luck to Mr. America on that.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Biden -- On the Bus or Under It?

Hot Air featured some commentary on this CBS interview of Joe Biden earlier today. I'd like to offer my own comments. Click on pic for the interview:

Allahpundit hit on the seminal moment, around the 4 minute mark when Biden said the Obama ad about McCain's internet ignorance was terrible and should not have been run (even though Couric reminded him that Barack approved it). Whoops.

But there were other highlights. During his explanation of the financial crisis he talked of leadership and mentioned that FDR "got on TV" to explain it to the American people. Kinda hard when TV didn't come around until the 50s. He was talking about the fireside chats on newsreel of course, but just imagine the reaction had McCain--or Palin--said such a thing.

Also, maybe it was the camera angle or just me, but his right hand was stretched out along the bus seatback and seemed awfully darn close to Katie's shoulder. Strangely, Couric then asked a question about whether a sexism dynamic might enter the VP debate and his reaction really must be seen to be described. So I ask, can we trust such a gaffe prone Senator from the podunk state of Delaware being only a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton showed up on the View today and said, among other things, that his wife would have been a better choice than Biden for VP. He also praised McCain several times while saying nearly nothing about Obama except that he'd win in November. At the same time MS-DNC actually acknowledged that Biden might just have an earmark problem.

Does any of that warrant a hmmmmm?

Cafferty -- Sexist Pig?

High classy:
Until now, Palin’s foreign policy experience involves a trip to Kuwait and Germany to visit Alaskan National guard members…And something about being able to see Russia from her house.

According to the Washington Post, while in New York Palin will also meet with the presidents of Georgia, Iraq, and Pakistan as well as the Indian Prime Minister.

Here’s my question to you: What will Sarah Palin and Hamid Karzai talk about?
Yes, yes, it's Cafferty, cable news' version of an internet troll, but here's a note for Jack--it was Tina Fey, not Sarah Palin, who said she could see Alaska from her house. Just recently you said that if Obama doesn't win it'll be solely due to his race, so can we now call you a sexist pig? After all, both candidates are young and share a similar thin resume, and both will make history if they win.

Oops sorry, forgot--you can't be officially called a sexist now that NOW has strongly endorsed the two men.

But OK, you wanted to know what Karzai and Palin will talk about. Well, maybe they'll share some hunting and fishing stories--Afghan versus Alaska--they are both wild territories. Or maybe they'll discuss the common challenges shared by both Islam and Christianity regarding the rapid moral decline of the secular world. Or perhaps about their favorite media pricks.

More than likely they'll discuss the best way for the US to make headway in Afghanistan with Pakistan playing both sides. Perhaps she'll draw on this interview from 2006 for background purposes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pointing Fingers

Up until now Jimmy Carter has been the worst president in the lifetimes of most living Americans. He inherited an inflation problem and made it much worse, eventually leading to the recession of the early 80s. He blinked on terrorism and helped to forge the "paper tiger" impression on the minds of radicals.

But unless things change radically before January 20th, George W. Bush may soon be awarded the top spot, helped along by Democrat strategists like Peter Feld:
It doesn't matter who wins the election. Either side will spend all of a first term (maybe even a second), cleaning up after George W. Bush - with little or no options as to how.
As they say, history is often in the eye of the beholder, and the mainstream press, and academia, and Democrat strategists (or is that redundant?).

Case in point, Feld bolstered his argument by explaining how Bill Clinton's hands were tied when he replaced Bush 41 in 1993. His utopian campaign promises of cutting taxes for the middle class while offering free health care were quickly scuttled in favor of the largest tax increase in history and concurrent spending cuts, causing him to lose Congress in 1994.

Partially true, but he suffers from selective amnesia. The firing of the White House travel office staff; the placing of his unelected wife in charge of socialized medicine; allowing Craig Livingstone to rifle through FBI files of Republican adversaries; Vince Foster's strange death; advocating for gays in a military he loathed; and the Waco debacle all contributed to the quick rise of Newt. Feld also forgot to mention the spending cuts hit the DoD hardest--the so-called peace dividend, while also forgetting the bill he signed in 1999 that put in motion some of the current shenanigans. Or that some of those vaunted financial advisers ended up working for Fannie Mae.

Instead he traces the root of all our current evil to the tax cuts of 2001 while totally spacing that 3000 point drop in the stock market and near-immediate recession later in the year. Evidently many liberals see that as just a blip to be dusted under the rug just as terrorism was during the 90s.

Tax cuts alone are not the problem--Obama is now backpeddling on his plan to tax "the rich" as he knows tax increases on the job-creators during an economic downturn isn't very smart. Bush could hardly do otherwise in 2001 without risking a worldwide depression, especially with more terror attacks looming. Hence his plea to "go shopping". He had moral support as well.

But the defense ends there. America took him literally. We shopped and shopped and shopped, mainly with other people's money. Now we've dropped. All along the bully pulpit remained silent.

As a self-described "compassionate conservative" without a mandate (Feld described it a bit differently) Bush had little choice but to cut deals with the spenders while trying to balance it out with tax cuts to please the base and set up reelection. And the tax cuts worked--they stimulated the economy despite the simultaneous breaking of the dot com bubble and a massive terrorist attack on our financial underbelly. But they were not accompanied by the necessary fiscal discipline, which is partly the reason McCain initially opposed them. In that respect Feld is correct--the president has his hands full.

So here we are. The political winds are blowing, and Obama could grab a huge advantage by channeling Bill Clinton's economic legacy while maintaining his fib of tax cuts. What better way to cement that impression by tossing Biden under the bus and essentially putting the Clintons back in charge by recruiting the wicked witch of the West Wing and her Oz-like husband? That is, if he can stand the pain. We can only guess where that yellow-brick road might lead.

But for now the blame must be assigned, and it usually falls at the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Historians would surely be remiss without mentioning the pork dripping off the lips of almost every Congressman and local official in America along with the citizens who wanted Christmas to come every day, or a government that couldn't stop rampant illegal immigration and its resulting economic drain, not to mention the requisite funds spent keeping the barbarians from the gate. But somebody's gotta take the blame, and unless a magic wand is soon waved the concrete is almost set.

MORE 9/21/08

In his typical brash New York manner, Mark Levin explains all, including the unarguable fact that Bush's legacy should be a bit better than that of Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, and all other social engineers who pushed for "affordable housing".

All true, but they likely won't be a huge part of his history--after all they were only trying to save America by forcing businessmen to make loans to people who had no business getting loans in the first place. We've already seen this in action, such as when Enron executives were being crucified as greedy Republicans for using accounting tricks to get bonuses while Franklin Raines was doing the same thing at Fannie Mae. Now Raines is working on his handicap while most of the Enron execs are either dead or in jail.

MORE 9/21/08

The Gateway guy has a handy list of Bush's history on this issue, which seems to suggest the bully pulpit wasn't silent. Unfortunately, too many people (including yours truly) would rather watch a scoreless soccer game than talk economics, meaning to get the concern across he almost needed that proverbial white bullhorn.

Besides, a lot of Republicans made a lot of money on this house of cards before it collapsed, even if only following the sub-prime regulations put in place by social leftists. So yes, Bush might have been mentioning the issue here and there but it was akin to him standing in centerfield of Busch Stadium talking in a regular voice during a fireworks show. Where was Levin's screaming a few years ago? Maybe if more of his compatriots in talk radio or cable had spoken out it would have gotten more attention but few want to be accused of upsetting the apple cart with doom talk (everyone has investments). So it's a catch-22.

Meanwhile, the self-congratulatory liberals writing this into Bush's legacy had no incentive to sound any alarms ahead of time, knowing that a calmer Iraq left Obama with only a had economy to run on, and we all know the ends justify the means--that became evident from watching the Sarah Palin smearfest.

Islamabad Hotel Bombing

The huge blast that wiped out the Marriott in Islamabad Saturday must have been horrific--a crater 25 feet deep and 40 feet wide is a pretty big hole. The two candidates have reacted and below is a screen shot from the WaPo story, including a rather morbid coincidence of having a rotating advertisement for Marriott displayed on the right sidebar (around 11:30pm central):



Hopefully they'll remove it. As to the statements, here's the CNN version. Perhaps they're not completely in the tank for Obama after all:
Both U.S. presidential nominees condemned the attack.

"Today's attack demonstrates the grave and urgent threat that al Qaeda and its affiliates pose to the United States, to Pakistan and to the security of all nations," Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama said.

It was unclear on what he was basing his conclusion that al Qaeda or its affiliates were involved.

GOP candidate Sen. John McCain called the attack "an outrageous act of violence."

"While no organization has yet taken responsibility for this act, it is well known that Pakistan faces an enduring threat from violent Islamic extremism.
Even Bush didn't directly blame al-Qaeda, mentioning only "violent extremism" in his remarks (BTW, how long before the 9/11 nutbars and certain members of Congress start blaming him for the attack? Days? Hours?).

Politics aside this is clearly a decision point for Pakistan (if indeed this wasn't some kind of freaky gas explosion). The locals were already restless due to our recent cross-border incursion making a public backlash possible, especially if more attacks occur. Right now the new president is standing firm. They are also in the process of building new reactors.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Weaponization Blues

During Robert Mueller's Senate Judiciary Committee testimony this past Thursday a rather animated Senator Leahy asked what he thought was a trick question: which labs other than Dugway or Battelle could have produced anthrax similar to the letters? Mueller came back after the break with an answer, which he couldn't repeat in open session, but seemingly satisfying the Senator. Did Leahy think the spores were weaponized?

The weaponization question has the "govt did it" types flummoxed at the moment. Ed Lake points to this Scientific American article about the involvement of Sandia National Labs in unlocking the mystery of the spores. It doesn't seem to unlock the mystery of the case, though.

Beginning a few paragraphs down the article talks about Dr. Michaels discovery that the spores weren't really coated with frosty silica glass as earlier stated, rather the silicon naturally occurred in the spore casing itself as it was grown. But then came the headscratcher:
It was this key information that helped the FBI to rule out the likelihood that a terrorist organization was behind the anthrax mailings and prompted the agency to turn its attention to U.S. government labs as the possible source of the anthrax.
Actually, in 2006 the FBI announced a new direction on the case; new leadership in the investigation; and a view that anyone with biological knowledge and know-how could have manufactured the attack anthrax. In effect, this ruled out weapons labs such as Dugway, Battelle, and God knows what in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere, but not necessarily terrorists.

After all, we knew al-Qaeda wasn't capable of producing weapons grade material by themselves. We knew the material in the letters wasn't coated with bentonite, a typical Iraqi additive. So if the material was simply purely refined, not weaponized, why wouldn't that rule in al-Qaeda or other assorted terrorist groups, perhaps using rogue scientists in rogue labs working with stolen material? The CIA reportedly had a Zawahiri Task Force.

If a foreign country wanted to use AQ as a proxy to warn America to stay back after 9/11 then it might make sense for them to use their own product as a calling card. On the other hand, if AQ had clandestinely acquired material from a foreign country who didn't want to be known then it wouldn't make sense for them to implicate said country using a traceable product, unless they were trying to blackmail or frame that particular country.

But if AQ wasn't involved (and it seems a long shot) that strongly suggests Ivins was involved assuming everyone else with access to the 4-marker RMR-1029 sample had alibis. Did they? In the Spring of this year Fox News reported the FBI had narrowed down their investigation to 3 people at Fort Detrick and one outside (someone in an American lab), yet we've never learned how or why these other folks were eliminated. Nobody has asked.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fierce, Feminist, and in your Face

The NOW ladies have decided to strongly endorse the man who calls reporters 'sweetie' and his running mate Joe, who thinks the Palin nomination was a backwards step for women. Or was it a step back for backwards women? Whatever, after Bill Clinton the hypocrisy can no longer surprise.

Meanwhile we await the fate of Joe. Rumors are swirling about his eventual demise as a running mate in favor of Hillary, but can they really afford to do it?

Even if they can successfully switch the lineup with narrative help from team media Obama is still stuck with Hillary, an overpowering and more experienced figure with a megalomaniac husband looming even larger. I think they'll biden their time (sorry) to see how the polls go over the next week or two. If Palin surges they'd be better off popping before the first debate.

Waiting for Outrage

The muted reaction from all the strict constitutionalists over the hacking of Sarah Palin's email account continues to thrill and amaze.

After all, the last time one of the candidates suffered a perceived invasion of privacy the Lord of Flies reacted briskly:



Team Obama was outraged until it became known that McCain and Clinton's passports were also viewed and the CEO of the contractor involved was an Obama adviser.

This story seems to be fast heading towards a prank explanation. Were the shoe on the other foot we'd likely be enduring comparisons to secret prisons and NSA terrorist spying programs along with calls for special commissions and perhaps even a few frogmarches. Rove would be blamed. Alas, the McCain/Palin team reacted responsibly, unlike the immediate reaction from Obama. Perhaps examples we can depend on.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The President Conundrum

Let me begin this post by saying that Sarah Palin is an outstanding woman (yeah, there's some negative stuff to follow). Her enthusiasm shows through in her bright and steady gaze, more so than most politicians you'll ever see. The first time I saw Bill Clinton speak I knew he was full of crap. The first time I saw Palin she dripped genuine. And enthused. And positive. No wonder the left initiated the mother of all smearfests--they saw it, too.

Speaking of smears, as this is being typed a long-time Tennessee State Rep from Memphis (and yes, a Democrat) confirmed his 20 year old son was contacted regarding the obscene hacking of Palin's Yahoo email account. Boy howdy, yet another plum for Memphis, even if there's nothing to it. But hey, today our mayor chastised local conservatives for drinking "hatorade".

He's wrong nationally--it's the left guzzling the hatorade, and they are making a huge mistake by rolling out operation low down dirty. Everyone knows such slimebucket practices tend to endear team McCain to Ma and Pa Kettle, still clinging to their guns and Bibles and their 40 year record of voting.

At the same time the participating leftists did nothing but reveal themselves as selfish ideological frauds, tearing down the very tenets of tolerance and diversity they've pretended to champion just to gain political power. Sounds like a good time for some group sensitivity training.

The irony is that even the slightest bit of restraint might have eventually handed them the Palin they want without the sympathy scars. Based so far on the Gibson and Hannity interviews she's not exactly displaying the kind of gravitas normally expected for applicants. Her argument that we need fresh eyes is viable but she needs to convince us those fresh eyes will be able to stare down Putin's dead ones if worse comes to worse.

With that, many voters are going to be forced to enter the booth hoping and praying McCain lives as long as his mother while she gets her feet wet. At some point she'll be good to go but remember--country first! Yes, I'm a cynic.

The problem is, there is no alternative. None. Voting for Obama is like voting for Che. And while Biden's definition of patriotism is higher taxes, mine isn't abstaining from voting. Hopefully the debates will change the picture--I still think Biden will show his rear big time perhaps offsetting Palin's inexperience, so I'm keeping hope alive there.

In the meantime, if they are successful her main job duty should be to continually whisper in Mac's ear reminding him of his erroneous positions on ANWR, polar bears and amnesty. She best be careful though, a 44 year old fireball can be awfully stressful on the ole ticker.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's the Stupid Economy Again

Still don't think CNN's at least a teeny tiny bit in the tank for Obama? Check out this piece. The distortions really deserve individual recognition:
Until recently, McCain consistently described himself as an opponent of most government regulation. In 1995, he proposed an across-the-board moratorium on all federal regulations but that measure failed in Congress.

In a March interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said, "I'm always for less regulation. But I am aware of the view that there is a need for government oversight."
The CNN writer then gleefully points out his recent verbal flip-flop towards regulation without questioning whether his past rhetoric was actually about over-regulation versus saving the economy in a crisis. Other than bailing out AIG or enacting some Bush-like proposals the last remaining alternative is the Ron Paulternative--"let 'em eat cake". Would Paul even have the stones to do that considering the political fallout?

But fine, he gotcha'd McCain--that's their job. Feel free to scan the article looking for examples of Obama's financial past, such as his contributions from Fannie Mae or perhaps even his associations with the failed Chicago Annenberg Challenge or the sorry condition of the Illinois State Pension fund. Or better yet don't bother, just check out the little teaser box on the left side of the page:

Fair and balanced, CNN style! Slant the article towards Obama then point readers to go other places heralding how he's better on the issue and how Democrats will benefit from the deal. Yes, yes, hardly breaking news.

Actually, with this AIG thing how about a quick trip back in time. In 1976 Gerald Ford bought a railroad. It was called "Penn Central"; it was decrepit; and many wondered if the US freight rail industry was better off sold for scrap and new condos. He renamed it "Conrail". The alternative was to let several major rail arteries go into bankruptcy and perhaps liquidation, which would have severely affected interstate commerce since most other railroads connected to Penn Central. This line also served nearly every auto plant in America at the time. Inflation was already spiraling (remember the WIN buttons?).

So he had two basic choices. One - Allow competing railroads to buy off the best chunks while leaving others to rot or be abandoned. Problem is, nobody can force anyone to buy and run a failed RR with labor problems, and the ICC heavily regulated everthing tightly at the time. Or, two - let the line go into liquidation since it was incapable of turning a profit. Keep in mind a lot of the right-of-way property was highly valuable and coveted. Thing is, once the condos or shopping centers are built it's hard to go back and lay track again, so that option was a rather final solution (Amtrak was different because it was strictly about preserving passenger train service, something that will never be purely profitable). He made one of McCain's "hard calls".

Ironically, Jimmy Carter came along in 1980 and saved the day by deregulating the railroad industry with the Staggers Act, which allowed a major paring down of the nation's rail network through abandonments and sales but the resulting streamlined network and lack of price regulations allowed a pathway to profitability for the remaining carriers. The government eventually sold Conrail to Norfolk Southern and CSX in 1997 for a profit. If not for deregulation we taxpayers might still own Conrail.

So yes, a government buy-out saved the industry and preserved the infrastructure but it was de-regulation that saved the industry and the peoples' investment. Carter bailed out Chrysler in 1979 with loans but look at the domestic auto business now. At some point the government is going to have to just say no or cut regulation.

But which government? Obama's tutelage suggests that as long as everyone has living wages (determined by him) and great health care, state-run industry ain't all bad. McCain, though currently waffling a bit to get elected, likely abhors the above notion with every molecule in his body, perhaps even going as far as just saying no one day. We have our choices.

MORE 9/17/08


Gang tackle. And McCain is right where Obama and the press want him--on defense. That's why Biden has bobbed to the surface to attack, fulfilling his role as the man designed to cause McCain to flame out into a colossal meltdown, which is what all leftist parties are secretly hoping for. Hang tough, you old geezer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mueller meets Congress

Robert "three sticks" Mueller faced the Judiciary Committee today and was peppered with questions about Dr. Bruce Ivins and the anthrax case. OK, he was peppered with two. Glenn Greenwald was none too happy. Matter of fact, he was darn near meltdown, lamenting about all the Bush officials who've evaded a frogmarch over the years by not publicly admitting their clear and obvious guilt to these committees.

Funny how someone can so quickly go from a liberal hero to villain in just a few days.

Mueller's two main non-answers were covered by Greenwald and Ed Lake but quickly summarizing, he didn't know the weight of the silicon content of the spores (in their scientific press briefing the FBI background official called it "significant") and he didn't expose the root of all nutroot evil--how they eliminated the CIA contractors at Battelle Memorial institute. For the record, in this instance the CIA is bad but when Valerie Plame worked there they were good.

Their unified theory seems to be that the spores were weaponized and sent out by the Bush machine via contractors to feed the war wagon against Saddam. This despite the fact the administration went out of their way to downplay the bentonite claim when ABC sprang it, then later fingered an American scientist and harassed him for 2 years, even naming the investigation "Ameri" thrax. Oh, and disregard that secret story about Cheney toting around a bio-suit, he clearly wasn't protecting himself from himself.

BTW, Lake mentioned the "Quantico letter", which was finally published. Not sure where the semblance to the anthrax letters exist, though. The person writing claims to be a current co-worker with Assaad, which Ivins was not in 2001, but that could have been designed to finger someone else. And it comports with some of his email diatribes. So it's interesting. But even more interesting is the question not asked--how did the FBI eliminate the possibility some of the RMR-1029 samples sent to outside labs didn't disappear along the way? They would have seemingly also had the four genetic markers and would never have been sent to the repository.

Whatever the case, the nutters were certainly correct about Mueller being vague. He said the National Academy of Science would take an independent look and of course they will, but that takes time and the public's memory is short. The longer these kinds of things drag on, the less likely an adequate resolution will ever be seen, as illuminated by a highly animated Chairman Conyers. If only he would have been that excited about TWA800.

MORE 9/17/08

Mueller met in front of the Senate Judiciary today. No video yet, but the skinny is that Leahy doesn't believe Ivins was the killer (he provided no factual reason why) and Grassley's questions weren't answered. Here's some restrained musings from Greenwald including an interview with Nadler, who hints that he'll be pushing for Congress to investigate the Bush administration after they leave regardless of who wins in November, and will also soon try to introduce a law restricting presidential pardons to only those who've already been prosecuted.

My concerns continue to lay with the possibility some of the RMR-1029 material escaped from a legitimate lab, which if used later for the letters would seemingly also display the 4 mutations present in Ivins' flask yet wouldn't have been sent to the FBI repository for evidence. I'm not an expert so this might be very easily proven an erroneous concern (although someone familiar with Fort Detrick was once quoted as saying material could be easily smuggled out at one time) but I haven't heard or seen it significantly addressed by anyone in power yet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Race Back to the Front

Time's Michael Grunwald has a piece out in which he suggests that whites are still racist in their view of blacks in America, especially in West Virginny, which might affect the overall viability of Obama's campaign. He uses the analogy of an "elephant in the room".

Now, we all know the elephant is a symbol of the GOP. Shall conservatives take umbrage that such an oft-used figure of speech is being used to highlight potential political racism? By the way, had he said "uppity elephant" would that have canceled anything out?

In trying to make the point Grunwald offers a laundry list of attacks on Obama to date:
Over the last 18 months, Obama has been attacked as a naive novice, an empty suit, a tax-and-spend liberal, an arugula-grazing elitist and a corrupt ward heeler, but the only attacks that clearly stung him involved the Rev. Jeremiah Wright — attacks that portrayed him as an angry black man under the influence of an even angrier black man.
Not even close. Oh, most seem to be true except perhaps the ward heeler thing. But Obama wasn't seen as an "angry black man" for sitting in Wright's angry black church for 20 years with a hearing problem, he was seen as someone who lacked the judgment to leave such a place, or someone who couldn't leave because it was a political helpmeet.

Actually, his list of attacks shows a glaring hole--call it the "Ayers hole", an absolutely color-blind story but one with as much potential energy as the Wright fiasco should it ever be unlocked.

But he may be right. Maybe there is a black factor in this election. Other than the items he mentioned, consider a few more:
  • Are liberal whites supporting Barack BECAUSE he's black?
  • Are white conservatives being stereotypically typecast as racist simply because they don't want a quasi-socialist with little practical managerial experience in the White House?
  • Can Barack get away with launching into a black evangelist tone on the stump then shelve it when he's been interviewed by elite white media members?
  • Is Obama getting unfair treatment because journalists such as Mr. Grunwald perceive unfair treatment?
We await the Time/Newsweek pieces exploring all these important questions.

McCain in Aspen

Much is being made about all these commercials back and forth or Sarah Palin's 4H membership but what about the issues? This is a long video from August 15, 2007, touching on many points, including his understanding of the internet:
Hundreds of millions can now get on the internet and hear the latest message from Osama Bin Laden or Zawahiri or one of the radical extremists, they can they can go online and see the picture of an American Humvee being blown up by an IED. We are not doing what we should in cyber space. And I am glad that we have got people in this room who are engaged in making cyber space a far more available and accessible to all people.
As to the economy, remember the sailor?
"Congress spends money like a drunken sailor, only I've never known a sailor drunk or sober with the imagination of members of Congress" and that's a pretty cute line and it goes over pretty good. I find it mostly at Republican Women's Club meetings. But the fact is about three months ago, I am not making this up, about three months ago, I got an email from a guy that said, "As a former drunken sailor I resent being compared to members of Congress.
His position on immigration, ANWR and climate change were just as wrong then as now but notice how prescient he was in 2007, especially around 00:55 when he talks about Russia and plugs Georgia. It's certainly obvious from watching this as to why Barack Obama wants nothing to do with a joint town hall meeting.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Clash of the Titans

The WaPo has posted excerpts from a new book to be released this week called "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency". Their excerpt goes into detail (yet another leak) about the events that led up to the now infamous Ashcroft hospital drama regarding his refusal to renew the terrorist surveillance program Bush enacted after 9/11.

The suspense builds as the WaPo's Barton Gellman describes the 11th hour clash of the titans meeting between Cheney and his assistant David Addington and messers Comey, Goldsmith, Gonzales, Mueller, McGlaughlin, Hayden, and Card. The fly on the wall described it as a contentious meeting where Comey and Goldsmith came out on top, putting Addington down a few pegs while refusing to be convinced on the legal merits of the program as a critical re-authorization approached.

Shallow thinkers will see this as more evidence of Cheney trying to take over the government, starting with a secret program to monitor Aunt Isabel's calls to the motherland based on terrorism paranoia.

But, since that seems to require a belief that 9/11 was an inside job to set up the spying, most clear-thinking folks will be left with two options--one, that Cheney was an evil opportunist, or two, that Cheney was very scared of something, going so far as to risk an illegal operation to combat it. This paragraph provides a clue:
This program, Cheney said, was vital. Turning it off would leave us blind. Hayden, the NSA chief, pitched in: Even if the program had yet to produce blockbuster results, it was the only real hope of discovering sleeper agents before they could act.
We've known all along about the close compartmentalization of this program, which seems to either heighten the threat itself or the nefariousness of Cheney's actions. If it's the former, has that threat now passed?

Harken back to the Addington/Yoo hearings at the judiciary a few months ago. The takeaway moment was Addington's confrontation with William Delahunt when he reminded the Congressman that "AQ may be listening" to their hearings, and indeed, when looked at from an existential threat perspective (as opposed to a Bushitler perspective) it's a bit unnerving to ponder what might have spooked these guys. Ironically or not, FBI Director Mueller is scheduled to testify this week about the FBI's role in the anthrax letters case.

Regardless of outcome the story illustrates the nature of the Vice Presidency, at least under the Bush administration. Trying to imagine Sarah Palin at that level is pretty fuzzy in the ole Viewmaster, but on the other hand perhaps somebody 'closer to the people' would provide a useful voice in such proceedings. Or perhaps no voice at all--VPs aren't always active. A "change", no doubt. More Monday..

MORE MONDAY 9/15/08

Here we go. Back to the bedside scene where AJ Ashcroft apparently summoned the power of the Lord to defeat evil in our time:
Mueller arrived just after Card and Gonzales departed. He shared a private moment with Ashcroft, bending over to hear the man's voice.

"Bob, I'm struggling," Ashcroft said.

"In every man's life there comes a time when the good Lord tests him," Mueller replied. "You have passed your test tonight."
Before continuing let's return to a previous post questioning Director Mueller's notes on this incident, which stated:
"Saw AG," Mueller writes in his notes for 8:10 p.m. on March 10, 2004, only minutes after Gonzales and White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had visited Ashcroft. "Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed."
Was he in the bed or in a chair? This was deleted by Yahoo and other news outlets at the time--conveniently those stories have disappeared from the web.

The drama continued to the White House meeting between Comey and Bush (which Comey refused to detail during his testimony):
"I think you should know that Director Mueller is going to resign today," Comey said. Bush raised his eyebrows. He shifted in his chair. He could not hide it, or did not try. He was gobsmacked.
Gobsmacked. Nice.

A couple of things seem likely here. One, Cheney had compartmentalized a program that was designed to finger sleeper attack cells in the United States. He shielded the president. Two, Comey and Goldsmith saw the program, assessed the legality based on current law at the time, and deemed it unlawful. Cheney and others felt it was within a president's constitutional power to protect the nation during war and in order to maintain operational security of the program, it had to be held in a tight circle. Based on the leaks we've seen in the past few years this was not an unreasonable assumption.

Comey and his brethren, including Ashcroft, were worried they were being scapegoated for future prosecutions because they weren't a part of the tight circle, meaning their rears were too exposed. This is common in government.

Perhaps this whole kerfuffle was best summed up by Ashcroft himself in his recent testimony in front of Congress, where he characterized the whole thing as "robust debate" that eventually led to the right decision being made. Once again, the Democrats approach these matters as if there was never an attack, or that it should have no bearing on any Commander-in-Chief's decision making. The 64K question is whether they'll remain curious about any of this should Obama win the White House. Just guessing--it will go the way of the removed W keys on White House computers.

So Long Sitemeter

Just waded through the new Sitemeter. It appears to have been created by a sadist. So much so that I've pulled out the code. Statcounter will have to suffice to measure the blizzard, er flurry of hits received here daily. Feedburner also provides anonymous hit counts.

BTW, I've always shown a hit counter without making the detailed stats public. The reasoning, should you choose to accept it, is because I'm anonymous and those coming here should also have that right (if you think it's because I'm padding stats take a look at the hit counter and do some simple math. It ain't pretty). Like most of you I've had some interesting visitors from time to time, but their secret is safe with me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Not Blinking

The Sunday Telegraph has a column about a peaceful radical Islamic rally in London that featured tidbits like this:
"The blame of 9/11 belongs to no one but the American government. They are the terrorists. Sheikh Osama warned America numerous times, it was because of their own arrogance, because they thought they are a superpower and nobody could match them, that Sheikh Osama taught them a lesson – a lesson they still haven't learned."
Note he blamed Bill Clinton by saying that UBL warned America many times without heed; they all occurred in the 90s. Mr. Islamofascist continued:
Mr Choudary talked about the black "flag of Sharia" flying over Downing Street by 2020, saying 500 people a day were converting to Islam.

He laughed that Muslim families in places like Whitechapel and Bethnal Green in east London were having "10 or 12 children each".
Good Lord, it's a sexual jihad. And they sound pretty "hell-bent", don't they?

Thing is, the west has allowed the concept of family to become secondary to career and self so this may be a chicken coming home to roost we had coming. No justification for murder of course, something Reverend Wright has yet to figure out.

But what's striking is the difference between the Islamic radical rhetoric and that of our two candidates on 9/11, both talking calmly about service and denigrating Bush's call to action while going soft (if at all) on the need to keep fighting the good fight against those who sympathize with Atta and kill innocents for their religion. Only Sarah Palin has mentioned the need for America not to blink in the face of these barbarians of late, and she was chastised for it.

Side Tracks



This is a solid rock and roll song, well performed live with a crisp guitar solo at the end, sung in key, without histrionics. Just another day at the office for the rock and roll everymen. Lewis' music might have bordered on bubble-gum at times but it was quality sing-along stuff.

BTW, Jacob's Ladder was written by Bruce Hornsby, whom Lewis helped introduce to the rock and roll scene in the 80s (Lewis put this song on his "Fore!" album). Hornsby's "The Way it Is" album came out in 1986 and is still a personal favorite, although his live performances tend to ramble a bit too much for my conservative taste.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This May be the One

When a news commentator gets their head taken off by hurricane debris while live on the air. Why in the world is it necessary for reporters to be standing out in hurricane force winds on Galveston Island when the Weather Service has already warned residents they faced "certain death" if they didn't leave?

Would that warning not also apply to Geraldo? Does he not study his history?

Palin on Climate Change

In the latest edition of ABC's exclusive Palin expose Charlie Gibson decided to explore science and fish for some flip-flops. Jake Tapper was standing by with a handy net. Essentially Gibson accused EveryMom (TM Tom Maguire) of bringing out the cynic in him for nudging her anti-Gore climate change position to more align with the new climate-friendly boss. She tried to explain in restrained pit bull fashion:
"I think you are a cynic," Palin said, "because show me where I've said there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change. I have not said that.
Tapper had a Fairbanks news story locked and loaded:
Show me? Ok, Gov. Palin: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, December 4, 2007: "I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity, but I'm not going to put my head in the sand and pretend there aren't changes."
That's hardly a gotcha. The difference here is believing that 1) climate changes by defintion and man may have some hard to quantify effects on it, or 2) man causes climate change. She clearly believes in number one. Good--it's the most reasonable position based on the state of the science.

Hopefully the political tides don't drift her more towards the man-made position because flip-flopping wouldn't really represent putting a new fresh face on politics in DC. Stated plainly--if either McCain or Obama truly think mankind is 100 percent responsible for all the warming seen since 1980 they are far too arrogant and dangerous to be allowed anywhere near the White House. Period. It's akin to believing they can shine a flashlight at the moon and alter its orbit.

Thankfully it's likely both are just posturing; McCain is no scientist and likely decided awhile back he was better positioned by taking the touchy feely side of this issue, along with illegal immigration. He's savvy. He's a politician. He knows Republicans can more easily get rolled on such things in today's media climate. But Palin needs to stay put, since she's not the decider.

Perhaps more interesting was that she followed the science debate by outwardly disagreeing with the boss on ANWR, saying she'll try to change his mind on drilling there. That's something she has intimate knowledge of and can reasonably engage in discussion without needing an advanced degree in atmosphere science like Al Learjet Gore. Oh wait, his degree was only honorary.

More than just Shopping

In the national service forum yesterday both Barack Obama and John McCain went back in history and remembered a president calling for Americans to "go shopping" in response to 9/11. They aren't the only ones to say this of course, it's approaching urban legend. The chief honcho at Time Magazine and a former CNN anchor just sat and bobbed their heads.

Here is what Bush actually called Americans to do:
Americans are asking: What is expected of us? I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children. I know many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.

I ask you to uphold the values of America, and remember why so many have come here. We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith. (Applause.)

I ask you to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions. Those who want to give can go to a central source of information, libertyunites.org, to find the names of groups providing direct help in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The thousands of FBI agents who are now at work in this investigation may need your cooperation, and I ask you to give it.

I ask for your patience, with the delays and inconveniences that may accompany tighter security; and for your patience in what will be a long struggle.

I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity. They did not touch its source. America is successful because of the hard work, and creativity, and enterprise of our people. These were the true strengths of our economy before September 11th, and they are our strengths today. (Applause.)
Video is here.

Could he have asked us to do more? Perhaps. But the purpose of terrorism is to terrify people into staying in their homes and cowering in fear, awaiting the next attack. The stock market was in a free fall at the time and airplane seats were a dime a dozen. The hijackers had hit us in the economic underbelly, so asking people to sign up for Americorp or begin registering voters was not going to kill or capture KSM.

In other words, taking a trip or going shopping--if nothing more but to show the terrorists we were not going to cower in fear--was one of the most important things the average person could do at the time. These two candidates need to get off the revisionism, and the two moderators shouldn't have allowed them to get away with it. Of course, they agreed or they wouldn't have been hosting the forum.

By the way, Barack Obama's view of service expressed during questioning, almost to a forced level, could not have contrasted more to McCain's somewhat more cautious approach to expanding federal government programs of service. For Obama it's more about the 'underrepresented' and always has been, and it's likely he'll enact programs to bring about a change to their representation and financial well-being. The question is, whose pocket will he pick to do it?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin Meets the Press

Expect a huge Democrat counter attack over this:



Impressive in spots, but we're talking about the Vice Presidency of the United States here. Is she poised enough? Perhaps we'll know better when she gets in a debate format.

Hand it to her, though. Her first interview was tough, and she said perhaps a hundred fewer 'uh's' than the presidential candidate on the other side, whose been bellying up to marshmallows since 2007 give or take a few debates featuring Gibson (whom the left excoriated) and Bill O'Reilly, who goaded him into it. Gibson's comment about getting "lost in a blizzard of words" towards the end was priceless in comparison to an interview with just about any other politician. Or was it why they chose him for the first Palin interview, because he's just downright unfair?

Anywho, the nutroots are having fun with her strong stance on Georgia re Russia, so let's go to the videotape:



Danger, man.

Unsung Heroes

One of the more amazing events on 9/11 was the "national ground stop" performed by air traffic controllers who cleared the nation's skies within a few hours of the attacks without a single accident or incident. Several officials have taken credit over the years but the impressive part was really the actions of those talking to the airplanes.

Unfortunately the web is a dark cesspool of conspiracy theories, including suggestions the FAA and NORAD were part of the theatrics we "sheeple" commonly refer to as 9/11. It's really sad. Even this heartbreaking exchange between Cleveland ATC and United 93 has been called a smoking gun because some people reported on frequency of seeing a smoke plume near the ground. In other words, the black ops people had secretly crashed it in advance of their switcheroo.

Most of those sites comically feature the word "truth" in their title yet couldn't tell it from the broadside of a barn. Preposterous yes, but it besmirches what should be a sacred memory from a somber day.

In truth many ATC folks were mentally shaken up like the rest of us but continued their mission and helped get a nation full of air passengers down safely and efficiently. That's called focus. So, on this seventh anniversary of 9/11, here's to the memory of their fine work on that fateful day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Steve Cohen - Embarrassment

Goodness:



He clearly got it from Kos, as mentioned all over the web last week. We await somebody to provide a rational explanation for the analogy other than that Barack = Jesus, Palin = Pilate. Not sure what else we should be taking away from it, because by most accounts Christ wasn't interested in community organizing.

By the way, what's up with that hairdo?

MORE 9/10/08

Cohen speaks, again:
"I didn't and I wouldn't compare anyone to Jesus. Jesus cannot be compared to anyone. What I pointed out was that Jesus was a force of change, and those who work to accomplish change deserve respect."
And Jake Tapper responds:
On the ABC News blog "Political Punch," national correspondent Jake Tapper wrote, "Prediction: the Democrats will soon put him (Cohen) in a sack and throw him in a basement."
Ouch. Maybe a little too harsh for Congressman Steve. An apology would do fine.

By the way, his correction on Jesus' role is still not right. He was not there to become a force for change in the community or the nation, but to change hearts and save souls. He called himself a sword, pitting brother against brother, and told the Israelites to render to Caesar what was his. Remember, Palin was dissing the community organizer from heaven because she was attacked beforehand as a small-town mayor. As if the truth matters anymore.