Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taliban Leader Threatens to Balance Budget

Just speculating, but with things as they are what else could this mean:
"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," Baitullah Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone.
But OK, so they're threatening to open up a can of man-caused on the nation's crib. Since Mehsud is probably the clown who murdered Bhutto he's got some street cred so we must take it seriously, but the question now is what happens if he's captured? He's already made an overt threat, so can they simply read him his Geneva and send in a lawyer and a light snack or will the One be tempted to slip in a little enhancement? A tough spot, and the world will be watching.

Wait, did the AP actually say they interviewed him on 'the phone'? Aren't we? Don't we?

Assigned Bullseyes

According to Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Ca.) one guy from AIG Financial Products Division, Joseph Cassano,
"..almost single-handedly is responsible for bringing AIG down and by reference the economy of this country,"
Heavy and heady stuff coming from a Congressperson. Evidently Ms. Speier thinks the genesis of the entire problem--widespread mortgage defaults that began in 2007 and rolled the entire housing industry along with Cassano's gambling profits--are to be held entirely blameless.

And not so long ago Ms. Speier had this to say on the Larry King Show:
Well, I would say that for those individuals who have gotten into those subprime loans, who are about to lose their homes, we've got to have some consistent way of looking at whether or not they can stay in their homes. And the cram down is not necessarily going to reduce the principal at all. It's going to reduce the actual payment they make. It may extend the loan. It's going to reduce the actual interest rate.

It's not going to be something that's going to work for everybody. Some of these people are way over their heads and shouldn't be in these homes.
The emphasis added part kinda sounds like some blame. And it should be. So let's be reasonable here, Ms. Speier. This disaster wasn't the single-handed result of Cassano or Frank or Bush or Joe Main Street, it was a collective epic fail beyond all imagination rooted in greed, envy, and naivete. Putting bullseyes on specific individuals, no matter how seedy or greedy they might appear, ignores the overall problem and hinders the public's understanding while increasing rage. Let's stop it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste

Wasn't that what Rahm Emanuel, then later Hillary Clinton, said regarding the financial meltdown? Seems Obama is following right on along with the General Mess bailout:
President Obama announced what amounts to a do-or-die ultimatum for the struggling automobile industry on Monday, laying out strict standards that the carmakers must meet to get more government aid and declaring that the industry must survive because it is “like no other, an emblem of the American spirit.”
Obama went on to call it a "failure of leadership" as if GM has been the only example of fail in this entire thing; despite other car companies across the world struggling in the downturn; despite GM's onerous UAW contracts. Here's a GM supplier who knows a little about fail.

Or how about government failure? How about the fail that was created when the govmint wormed its way into the mortgage business in an effort to appease minority voting blocks and siphon campaign contributions? Chris Dodd pressuring AIG to contribute to Chris Dodd--stuff like that.

Right here in Memphis today a caller to the Thaddeus Matthews radio show pointed out that the local NAACP Chapter pressured local banks about their 'discrimination in lending' (rates too high). He said it without a whiff of understanding as to how that might have impacted our current predicament. Matthews (no friend to conservatives and a pseudo 9/11 truther) asked the caller how many times the NAACP had come down on "we tote the note" used car dealers over the years. To silence.

So we've got LOTS of fail to go around. Obama really has no choice but to bail out GM now--almost any president except Ron Paul would--but what is more bothersome is the notion that he's using the crisis to enact change rather than just save a company. When Penn Central Railroad failed (along with others) in the 70s and the government deemed them too big to liquidate (they were bankrupt) ironically in part due to its impact on the auto business, the feds helped them restructure but didn't run the trains. Obama seems interested in figuratively sitting in the cab with GM, giving them directions as to product line, etc. While a railroad has fixed plant and limited competition and often captive shippers, automobile companies are different.

If they want anyone besides General Services Administration to buy GM vehicles they best keep their paws off the operations and stay the hell out of the way. The biggest car buzz around GM right now is the return of the Camaro, yet market demand will seemingly take a back seat (sorry) as 'change' elbows in--in this case the chance to change GM into a liberal's fantasy, like Al Gore's for instance:
Gore calls for making "the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization." This means "to use, in short, every means to halt the destruction of the environment and to preserve and nurture our ecological system." One method in his plan of environmental totalitarianism is a Global Marshall Plan which would provide aid and technology to developing nations to develop in a more environmentally friendly way. Gore's central planning through financial and technological aid would be supplemented with government agencies filled with "experts" who would help developing nations use environmentally friendly technologies. Then there's Gore most famous proposal from Earth in the Balance: eliminating the internal combustion engine.
Taking over the company amidst the most liberal government in 70 years is certainly one way to get there.

MORE 3/30/09

Or perhaps Obama's fantasy.

Tale of the Tapes, part 4

The WaPo's lengthy article about the value of Abu Zubaydah's intelligence, both pre and post torture, was mostly fodder for the upcoming truth commission. But there were a few nuggets in there, starting with this one:
One connection Abu Zubaida had with al-Qaeda was a long relationship with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said. Mohammed had approached Abu Zubaida in the 1990s about finding financiers to support a suicide mission, involving a small plane, targeting the World Trade Center. Abu Zubaida declined but told him to try bin Laden, according to a law enforcement source.
It remains odd that KSM and his Baluchi buddies were planning most of the great terror attacks on America outside bin Laden's knowledge. But if Zubaydah was indeed the memory-impaired non-player some have described why would KSM ask him about financing anything? Gerald Posner's book may provide a few clues:
American interrogators used painkillers to induce Zubaydah to talk -- they gave him the meds when he cooperated, and withdrew them when he was quiet. They also utilized a thiopental sodium drip (a so-called truth serum). Several hours after he first fingered Prince Ahmed, his captors challenged the information, and said that since he had disparaged the Saudi royal family, he would be executed. It was at that point that some of the secrets of 9/11 came pouring out. In a short monologue, that one investigator told me was the "Rosetta Stone" of 9/11, Zubaydah laid out details of how he and the al Qaeda hierarchy had been supported at high levels inside the Saudi and Pakistan governments.
As asked in that post, was this true or just disinformation designed to finger those governments? After all, some consider other information given about Iraq's role in training AQ as disinformation designed to lure us into war there, so why not here, too? How can we believe one set of testimony and not another without independent verification?

As with everything else, it's hard to say, but maybe the tapes would have done more than protect CIA agents involved in the process or messers Yoo or Addington; maybe they would have also shined some light on the broader questions of complicity or even poked a few holes in the rootless, non-state operator construct we're to believe about al Qaeda.

Last week the WaPo interviewed one of General Petraeus's principal aids David Kilcullen and asked:
What is the real central front in the war on terror?

Pakistan. Hands down. No doubt.

..the collapse of Pakistan, al-Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover -- that would dwarf everything we've seen in the war on terror today.

How important is it to kill or capture Osama bin laden?

Not very.
As Churchill once said, "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies". Back to Posner again (from link 3 below):
To the surprise of the CIA team watching the event unfold live on video, Zubaydah said that 9/11 changed nothing because both Prince Ahmed and Mir knew beforehand that an attack was scheduled for American soil that day. They just didn't know what it would be, nor did they want to know more than that. The information had been passed to them, said Zubaydah, because bin Laden knew they could not stop it without knowing the specifics, but later they would be hard-pressed to turn on him if he could disclose their foreknowledge.
The trouble has always been determining the lies. But that's the point, isn't it? Surely Obama now knows.

Parts 2,3

Sy's Got Mail

Is it customary for Middle East leaders to email reporters, or is it just a Bashar Assad thing?
Nonetheless, a few days after the Israeli ceasefire in Gaza, Assad said in an e-mail to me that although Israel was “doing everything possible to undermine the prospects for peace,” he was still very interested in closing the deal. “We have to wait a little while to see how things will evolve and how the situation will change,” Assad said. “We still believe that we need to conclude a serious dialogue to lead us to peace.”
Maybe we've found Hersh's source on the Cheney death squads. But since it's so easy why didn't the UN think of it? They could have just emailed him their questions on Hariri and saved themselves a lot of time and trouble.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama--Hit the Road, Rick

So Obama asked GM chief Rick Waggoner if he might need to spend more quality time with the family? Hey, that beats another year with pay capped at a dollar. At least now he can claim his executive compensation package on the way out, unless they an angry mob catches him.

The government's plan hasn't completely been announced yet but word is Obama will have strong presence on the board and will 'suggest' to the company they make more efficient cars, like Vegas and Chevettes. To appease the disappointed customers who've ordered the 2010 Camaro, which will soon be deemed too capitalistic, he will order, er, suggest that racing stripes be placed on all new vehicles except for the Volt, which will feature a lightning bolt. A new hydrogen car is in the works, tentatively known as the Fart.

Hey, don't criticize me -- just a bit of gallows humor. What's left?

The FBI and CAIR

ABC News has a feature this morning about a quiet pullback by the FBI:
The situation began last fall when the FBI quietly withdrew formal relations with all local chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the largest Muslim American civil rights organizations. The FBI cited "a number of distinct narrow issues" that it has refused to make public.
The story went on to hint that a finding during the Holy Land Foundation trial led to the disassociation but didn't provide much insight. Enter blogs, specifically Jihad Watch:
Holy Land, the IAP, and CAIR: all working for the same goal. "Muslim charity trial may shed new light on terror aid," by David Koenig for Associated Press (thanks to all who sent this in):
(read the link for details). And here's Steven Emerson on the 2007 story. But if we can believe WND (and that's always risky) quoting the Denver Post, Obama has been quietly trying to repair the burnt bridge:
According to the Denver Post, when White House officials heard about the program, it was put on overdrive. So far, 45 Ivy League grads, Fortune 500 executives and government officials have been submitted for consideration. J. Saleh Williams, program coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, sifted through more than 300 names as part of the search.

"It was mostly under the radar," Williams said. "We thought it would put (the president) in a precarious position. We didn't know how closely he wanted to appear to be working with the Muslim American community."
Depends on the definition of 'community'. A president has to 'work with' all citizens regardless of faith. The issue here is one of loyalty to the United States versus loyalty to the Qu'ran, and exactly what the latter may entail.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Moving On...

Harper's is stirring up a Saturday with their feature about the Spanish court going after Bush officials for their 'crimes' in the pursuit of head-chopping terrorists. Memorandum has the links, one of which led back to Senator Leahy's recent remarks to Time Mag about how all of this might go down:
One path to that goal is to appoint a truth-finding panel. We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair-minded and without an ax to grind. Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth. .
As if.

Such a view seems to suggest one of three things: 1) the naivete of some liberals, 2) the hubris of some Congressmen, 3) deviousness. My personal pick is option three because I believe Leahy is still upset at Cheney for the F bomb. But even more sinister, he's a garden variety truther with respect to the anthrax attacks and seems to be part of a search and destroy mission currently being organized by his party, echoed daily by it's leader (something recently addressed by the Hitch).

Perhaps they've got visions of Bush officials on the stand defending themselves over the past as the 2010 campaign season gets underway, who knows.

Bring it on, though. Perhaps such a truth commission would be high profile enough to allow for some real truths to pop out at an opportune moment.

MORE 3/29/09

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, fugitives from justice. Sort of puts this all in perspective, eh?

Side Tracks

Ah, to be 10 foot tall and bulletproof..



That video ended before the talk box part, btw. So here it is,



Good Lord, who is that graying nearly bald guy impersonating Frampton? Somebody call the police.

The One World Trade Center

No more Freedom Tower? CNN is reporting that the owners of the parcel of land where the majestic gleaming World Trade Center towers once stood has leased the property to a Chinese interest. Amazingly, the 'freedom' moniker has simultaneously been dumped in favor of a more worldly title:
"Many will always refer to it as the Freedom Tower, but as the building moves out of the planning stage and into full construction and leasing, we believe that going forward it is most practical to market the building as One World Trade Center."
What next, an announcement that Saudi Arabia has purchased the Statue of Liberty and placed a veil on her? It's like an out-of-body experience watching this stuff. But it doesn't end there, here's the mayor:
"I would like to see it stay the Freedom Tower, but it's their building, and they don't need me dumping on it. If they could rent the whole thing by changing the name, I guess they're going to do that, and they probably, from a responsible point of view, should. From a patriotic point of view, is it going to make any difference?"
Yes, dammit. It's a monument, like it or not. It will always be remembered for 9/11, just like the Arizona will always represent Pearl Harbor. To allow the Chinese of all people, who hate freedom (they just banned You Tube the other day) to get their hooks into this sacred ground and force them to drop the word "freedom" from the title is appalling, to say the least, and I would expect the mayor to 'get' that.

Now, a smarmy lib or hard-core libertarian (or even classical conservative) might sneer at any such outrage by reminding everyone that it's an example of unbridled capitalism at work. And they would be right. But there are some things that should ring in every American's heart, especially those who work for the Port Authority or who lead the people where ground zero is located.

We'll have to wait and see how the most anti-capitalist administration in years reacts to this news. Billions of federal dollars have been invested in this project so perhaps the White House will command Geithner to step in seize the property once his new powers are vested. But don't bet the mortgage (unless you're underwater and can qualify for a bailout). Obama is still bashing the previous administration, a group known for their "freedom agenda", on a daily basis. So the new name might actually be a tad more appealing.

Whew. I'd be more outraged but my outrage reservoir is almost tapped out.


HT Angry Free Thinker blog

Friday, March 27, 2009

Why...

....is this defeatist putz still in the Senate?
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts "didn't tell us the truth" before his 2005 confirmation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday.
And suddenly it's now an issue? Something smells like a Journolist-coordinated coordinated attack, at least between Reid and Frank. Then again, there's also a high possibility that both are just independently moronic. They need to stop tampering with Supreme Court justices, right now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The War on the War on Terror?

"Overseas Contingency Operation". "Man-Caused." "An end to torture." These disarming terms are part of the Obama administration's new direction towards winning the, er, overseas contingency operation. Yes, no more GWoT, call it the OCO.

O's defenders might defend it as part of a super clever strategy to fool the terrorists and the media but the public doesn't usually do nuance well. That said, Obama's folks know that most people don't think of terrorism any more--it wasn't a major issue in the election and reporters didn't even ask him a question about it during the presser--so they can get away with some nuance.

But they also know this strategy shift puts any future attacks squarely on Obama so there's some political risk involved. But hey, he's the one reading the intelligence reports. We have to assume he won't do something reckless amidst a bunch of chatter. Perhaps that's a good sign.

As to the nuance, since the administration is full of Clinton retreads it's tempting to say he's trying to pretend terror doesn't exist in hopes it'll go away. But the bell has already been rung. He campaigned on focusing on the "real war" in Afghanistan and that's what he's doing, announcing today that another 4000 troops will be deployed there soon. It's a two-pronged strategy. Evidently.

Or maybe three pronged. Ed Morrissey reported this morning on Obama's use of the State Secrets defense in an Oregon terrorism case, which when used by Bush caused outrage. We already know he's not willing to take rendition off the table, and he voted for FISA reform to maintain the program to scan calls from AQ exchanges. Yesterday the Counterterrorism Blog had a feature on the pending lawsuits over airline security on 9/11 being held up by a Trade Secrets defense. So the government hasn't gone completely insane. For Pete's sake Cindy Sheehan is railing on Obama now so he must be doing something right.

The question is whether most of this is just window dressing. It's quite possible the mini-surge in Afghanistan is designed as more of an exit strategy, a way to do enough damage this season to justify leaving later this year when the snows come. Maybe Obama put military spending back into plain view in the budget so he could later reduce it in plain view by exiting from the contingency zones. But we'll see. If the big attack comes all bets are off.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Going for Broke

Is it time to act (peacefully) yet? For some that's a moot question, having already participated in tea parties, etc. but for those who haven't the time might be shorter than you think. Obama is pushing hard for passage of his new 2010 budget and the Congress--without feedback from the populace--might just slip it on through. Largely unread.

Political Yen/Yang has a piece today about the leanings our of current prez, dating back to the campaign. While these leanings are clearly visible to any conservative they're unhinged rantings to many on left. Those same liberals just months ago considered Bush a kind of secular anti-Christ due to his core conservative beliefs, which to many of them meant no abortion, no gay marriage, and perpetual war.

So.. they did what they felt necessary to stop him by using fear and disinformation and ridiculous strawmen and some of the same slogans now appearing on the right, such as "take our country back". In retrospect their whining about Bush trashing the Constitution is looking more quaint by the day but will the right head down the same road?

To some degree that's Sunsett's point:
Shifting too far to either extreme cannot sustain a nation. It cannot keep the body of that nation, stable, healthy, and growing strong.
In other words, some amount of gridlock is good. Had we had a balanced government attacking this financial "rough patch" it's likely the medicine wouldn't have been worse than the disease. One-sided governments tend to be too ideological and end up forcing distasteful things on vast numbers of people, who tend to not react pleasantly, leading to destabilization.

Case in point, the AIG protesters threatening people's homes. Or perhaps Fred Smith, the CEO of Federal Express, who has threatened to pull his order for Boeing 777 freighters if the government goes through with legislation that would remove Fed Ex workers out from under the Railway Labor Act and put them under the Teamsters, which would give UPS a competitive advantage. In a brazen act of disloyalty, US Rep Steve Cohen switched sides to back Fed Ex and all the property taxes they represent. But going through with the threat means bad things (and hard feelings) for Seattle residents.

But back to the budget. When Bush introduced his first long term budget in early 2001 he was operating off a surplus and figured the trillion-plus surpluses would continue until about now. That rosy forecast gave him an opening for tax cuts and prescription drug benefits without having anyone claim he was breaking the piggybank to do it. He didn't figure on 9/11 or Katrina. We see how that worked out.

Obama is doing the same thing except he's starting from deep in the red, figuring everything will only get better over time without factoring in the unforeseen. This is akin to a fool carrying massive credit card debt buying a yacht and saying he'll cut his credit card debt in the next few years only to have the stove, refridge, TV and heater conk out shortly thereafter. He's stuck with bankruptcy but America, and her future generations, don't have that option.

Think about it. Any man who would stand in front of millions and calmly announce that doubling the deficit is the only way to cut it in half in four years is either lying through his teeth, a moron, or has only one shot left to enact the 'change' he campaigned on--changing America to a more socialist state. That he's willing to take the colossal risk of racking up trillions of debt when one massive domestic terrorist attack could leave us in tatters means only one thing--this is his last shot. He knows 2010 is coming and with it perhaps a different kind of 'change'. So perhaps now is the time to take on Obama's Civilian Pledge Army and voice your displeasure. Who knows, maybe a few Republicans will stand up with you. Or even a few moderate Dems.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Presser for One

The idea of a primetime news conference isn't bad, what with angry mobs on intimidation bus tours of AIG employees' homes while tea parties get ignored by mainstream media folks all over the country. Obama is the optimist-in-chief, it's time to speak!

CNN has leaked part of his speech, which will mainly be a lobbying effort for his new 2010 trillionaire budget proposal. It includes the following:
"We will recover from this recession," the president will say, according to excerpts of his opening remarks.

"But it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that when we all work together; when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations we have to each other -- that's when we succeed."
Well now, a conspiracy minded person could certainly find common ground with that kind of stuff and this kind of stuff:
Marx intended the initial part of his slogan, "from each according to his ability" to suggest not merely that each person should work as hard as they can, but that each person should best develop their particular talents.

Claiming themselves to be at a lower stage of communism ("socialism") in line with Marx's arguments, the Soviet Union adapted the formula as: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work (labour investment)".
Especially when considering the new bill just slipped through Congress yesterday (today's volunteer is tomorrow's indentured servant). But that's just a bunch of Beck-inspired neocon fantasia, right?

Of more interest will be observing how Obama handles himself with the presser. Will the questions--and questioners--be scripted? Will they ask real questions? Which new media entity will get the most shots, Huffington Post or Ed Schultz? Will Obama be using the clarification screen to help him sort through answers to tough questions from Tapper or Garrett? And will Miss Helen make weird O'Reilly-like shrieking noises? We await the hilarity.

MORE 3/24/09

Liveblogger. Obama, for the first time, bashed those who would bash capitalists. Bout time. But his speech was less Marxy than CNN led on.

Tapper just tried to pin down the prez on budget showstoppers and got a speech on the budget. I have no idea what his answer was, nor did Tapper.

Reid from CBS just asked about the spiralling debt, using Obama's own words against him (passing on our problems). Obama just blamed Bush. Wait, is he looking down at the screen?

No screen! They just showed the back of the podium and there are only notes. Even Emanuel isn't that bold. But Obama's filibustering again anyway, wandering off into talking point woods with something about his grandiose budget not passing along huge debt to our kids, or something.

Again, as mentioned here earlier, Obama's right about the procurement system is broken and riddled with lobbyists and ex-government officials. But so is the REST of the government procurement system. He seems adamant about fixing only the one, which is coincidently handled by spending less on the military.

"We're doing everything we can to reduce this deficit"... yes, by doubling it. The reporters are trying to attack his projection of cutting the deficit in half by 2012, but not getting anywhere.

The worst economy since the Great Depression has now been improved to a "rough patch". And Obama just patted himself on the back as to his flowering global reputation. Did the reset button actually work?

Night's challenge--cracking the filibuster fog. Ann Compton seems to be the first winner.

With a recent order to send 17,000 troops to Afghanistan there was not one question about the war from the same pack of journalists who hounded the previous occupant about it incessantly.

No surprise there. Obama is now back in the wandering woods on the Israeli-Palestinian question as we sign off.... turning to MSNBC to monitor the sexual reaction--only briefly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Obama on 60 Minutes

Sunday night on 60 Minutes Steve Kroft sat steely-eyed across from president Obama, watching him respond to a question regarding Vice President Cheney's recent opinion about the effects of closing Gitmo. He appeared almost shocked to hear Obama gladly answer the criticism by launching into a trashing of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies, saying they had not made America safer.

Kroft didn't follow up but bloggers certainly can, even if ignored. So let's get to the ranting.

Saying the previous administration has made America less safe is not only an idiotic statement unsupported by facts but it's insulting. Obama has no business treating Cheney with anything less than the respect he's earned for his service to the country for five decades.

Think about it--before Obama was a pot smoking Marxist-friendly undergrad at Occidental College Richard B. Cheney was already serving America.

He was there when Black September, a proxy group for Yasser Arafat, killed Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. Obama was 11. Dick Cheney was there during the heyday of the skyjacking phenomenon, which terrorized and killed many innocents.

He was around during the heyday of the Baader-Meinhof Gang and Abu Nidal Organization and he was there when Hizballah murdered our Marines in Beirut or when Leon Klinghoffer was pushed off a cruise ship in his wheelchair, all without the rage created by Gitmo detainees or naked pyramids at Abu Ghraib (which was still an Iraqi torture facility at the time).

Obama was "hiding in the library" at Columbia University (when he wasn't attending subversive rallies) in 1982 when an Iraqi-sponsored terror group called May 15th Organization used a Ramzi Yousef-like micro seat bomb to attack a Pan Am 747 on it's way to Obama's home state of Hawaii. A Japanese teenager was killed in the process. Numerous other aircraft had been fitted with similar such bombs but were thankfully discovered before detonation. This was well before operation Bojinka came along and had its origins in Saddam's Iraq. Cheney was there, in Congress.

When US Navy diver Robert Stetham was murdered and thrown onto the tarmac of Beirut International Airport in 1985 by Hizballah thugs--killed for being a member of the US military--Cheney was debating policy in Congress while Obama was community organizing.

When our concern for the Arab street was so great during the Gulf War that Israel was forced to sit back and take incoming Iraqi Scud missiles without responding, Cheney was the civilian in charge of the military while Obama was presumably defending the Gulf War with fellow law students, his family and educational concerns apparently preventing him from signing up.

Yep, ole dead eye Dick was SecDef when Saddam Hussein said that although Iraq couldn't harm America, individual Arabs certainly could. And they certainly did, repeatedly from 1993 right up through 9/11.

To most people the gradual ramping up of terrorist attacks culminating in 9/11 did not occur because the US was evil but because the terrorists were evil, and were willing to kill civilians for their own scumbag causes (like the destruction of a democratic state in the Middle East or their own world hegemony). After 9/11 Bush/Cheney made the decision to stop swatting those flies and we suffered no further domestic attacks.

Obama seems oblivious to history, preferring to ridicule our counter-terror policy to a bumper sticker, perhaps even inadvertently furthering enemy propaganda about us deserving our own attacks, just as his Pastor used to scream from the pulpit. None of this means Cheney was right, only that he deserves respect for his views in trying to protect America based on all those experiences Obama doesn't have.

True, in a perfect world VP's should probably keep their traps shut to the media but sitting presidents have even less business joining that fray. Bush, thought to be the village idiot by most on the left, simply ignored Gore's unhinged rantings and looked forward, winning reelection.

Obama could have done likewise and looked quite statesman-like. After all, it was only a few short weeks ago he promised to look forward. Apparently the temptation to use Cheney's words to score cheap partisan political points is part of his new creepy domestic agenda, though. Big sigh.

Hopefully he hasn't bought too deeply into the nutbar blame-America wing of his own party to prevent him from treating this problem with the seriousness it deserves and to treat past presidents and vice-presidents with the respect they deserve for fighting the good fight. It'll take a bit more convincing to believe at this point.

Sign of the Times?



Seems a bit harsh, eh? The guy may have been violating some kind of rule but those words are holy to many, many millions. It might be isolated and meaningless, but with everything going on nowadays it seems more like a sign of the times.

Back in the 80s they let this guy, who turned out to be a nut, hold up his John 3:16 sign all the time. Surely the leagues wanted to rip it down as it was a distraction from the game and probably made more than a few mad or guilty, especially the ones at home swilling beer on Sunday afternoon. But they didn't, or at least didn't make a production of it. Are sensibilities different now? Would such actions be taken if the man held up a verse from the Qu'ran or perhaps "Austin 3:16"? Just wondering (again).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

At What Point is it Acceptable..

To call Obama a socialist? Is it after this:
The new rules will cover all financial institutions, including those not now covered by any pay rules because they are not receiving federal bailout money.
Or this:
In some, participants discussed the president's agenda. In others, they set out to homes, subway stations and farmers' markets, asking people to sign forms in which they pledge support for "President Obama's bold approach for renewing America's economy" and commit to asking friends, family and neighbors to do the same.
Or perhaps this:
And what we need is steady growth; we need young people, instead of -- a smart kid coming out of school, instead of wanting to be an investment banker, we need them to decide they want to be an engineer, they want to be a scientist, they want to be a doctor or a teacher. And if we're rewarding those kinds of things that actually contribute to making things and making people's lives better, that's going to put our economy on solid footing. We won't have this kind of bubble-and-bust economy that we've gotten so caught up in for the last several years.
Or something much worse? Just wondering.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Side Tracks



Dedicated to the teleprompter.

Budget Magic

Obama's appearance on Leno marked the beginning of a national PR sweep in support of his new multi-trillion budget up for a vote in Congress later this year. The full court press will continue daily, including the weekly address. Unlike the Iran video there were no sub-titles, so allow me to offer this translated version:

"We inherited this mess from Bushco, which is hindering us from the change we believe in. But despite being trillions in arrears we are going to double down anyway and go for broke [a new slogan -ed] while our poll numbers are still high or before people realize what's going on. For those paying attention, our amorphous promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of four years--which privately leaves us rolling on the floor in laughter--will sooth any fiscal fears. We hope"

There are a few left in the press willing to push back. During Friday's briefing several reporters grilled Gibbs on the fact the CBO has already said the numbers don't add up, basically torpedo-ing Obama's ambitious 2 trillion in budget savings he's been using to justify the massive spending. When confronted, Gibbs went back to talking points.

White House budgets are pie-in-the-sky based, not reality-based. When Bush submitted his first budget in 2001 he projected we'd be swimming in trillions of surplus bucks about now. After 9/11, Iraq and Katrina the rest is history. And that's the problem with these projections, they don't include realistic contingencies. Stuff happens. We all know this from managing our own household finances.

Obama knows this too, of course. But he also knows he's got one clear shot at nationalized health care, cap and trade, illegal immigration reform and a new confiscatory tax code on the "rich" to transform America into a quasi-Euro socialist state before the 2010 elections come along.

The smoke and mirrors part is to promise he'll reduce the deficit in half by 2012--after the mid-terms--mainly by cutting federal programs that don't work. Rather absurd coming from someone who was supported by all the federal unions. Congress has already informed him to stay out of their earmarks so this deficit reduction ain't gonna be comin' out of the federal bureaucracy.

That leaves a perfect storm for confiscatory tax increases on the "rich" to make up the shortfall or perhaps even a clever way to work with a changed Congress after 2010 should another Newt revolution occur. And apparently it's going to happen, either by hook or by crook.

TIN PIN 3/21/09

Obama told Leno he's been practicing his bowling, reaching 129. Sounds like a lot of hard work based on those campaign gutter balls. But just a few weeks ago his spokesman was telling the press that Obama and staff were too tired to honor British Prime Minister Brown because they were engrossed in the economic bailout.

Slapdash Chic

The AIG fiasco is perhaps one of the worst weeks in US Congressional history, proving beyond doubt that a large segment of that elected body is comprised of cartoonish knee-jerks (which is highly insulting to cartoon characters) whose collective opinion of the electorate is only slightly higher than that of a TSA agent. Tom Maguire has been an island of sanity during this whole sordid affair providing a perspective from the financial side of the coin. Just keep scrolling if you haven't already.

The right wing noise machine isn't alone on the story of course. Outrage is widespread, with Talk Left mentioning AIG suing the government (believe it or not) while LA Sunsett pointed out some lefty cannibalism between Dodd and the administration. HuffPo has been covering the AIG mob, reporting that "protesters" are heading to employee homes on Saturday. Matter of fact, here's a nice screenshot of an article mentioning death threats to some AIG employees, complete with a photo:

Notice the guy with a keffiya--what do the Palestinians have to do with AIG bonuses again? Anyway, the picture was not explained by the Huffposter but some light digging solved the mystery. Notice the placard's web address is pnlweb.org. Following it leads here (get ready):


Surprise--the same people who organized marches against the war(s). Ayers is on record advocating the end of capitalism as well, but he was only an old washed up terrorist who served on two boards with Obama to reform education but never really knew him. Oh well, Obama was on TV last night talking to Jay Leno's America about the mess Bush and the capitalists made:
And so what we're going to be moving very aggressively on -- even as we try to fix the current mess -- is make sure that before somebody makes a bad bet you say, hold on, you can't do that.
Risk taking is the essence of the free market. Not that there can't be regulation, but regulating out all the risk can only occur by eliminating the free market. Can we get confirmation on how far he's willing to go? Well, he knew Leno wouldn't ask so he continued apace:
Here's the dirty little secret, though. Most of the stuff that got us into trouble was perfectly legal. And that is a sign of how much we've got to change our laws -- right?
Some of that change he mentioned. Leno sat there in stunned silence even though words were blurring out here and there. Obama then provided some sage advice for our yoots:
Well, now what we're finding out is a lot of that growth wasn't real. It was paper money, paper profits on the books, but it could be easily wiped out. And what we need is steady growth; we need young people, instead of -- a smart kid coming out of school, instead of wanting to be an investment banker, we need them to decide they want to be an engineer, they want to be a scientist, they want to be a doctor or a teacher.
Yes, the dreaded 'paper money'. But the real dread is a president dissing an entire profession in this manner. It's like when Bush begged students not to go into the climate science field. Didn't he? Troubling. But there is no bonafide connection between any of these unrelated events, only vague feelings (the left would call them something else). Perhaps this explains it best:
If the majority of Americans come to accept the caricatures of business as true, then America is closer to the end of its life as a global leader, as a champion of markets and individualism.
As the smart people say, 'indeed'.

MORE 3/21/09

Sweetness and Light has much more on the synergies between the protest groups and ACORN, providing this moment of clarity:
But just to show how completely and utterly shameless they are, as we have previously reported, ACORN itself is now behind the protests against the very people who lent the money for these bad mortgages or who tried to insure these toxic loans.

For even on this very day executives of AIG are being harassed by ACORN foot soldiers in their very homes via ACORN’s front group the so-called Working Families of Connecticut.
All of these groups have a loathing for American capitalism and are most probably Marxist at core but what matters is their ability to significantly influence the media and popular opinion. Otherwise they're just another bunch of lefty fruitcakes. However, looking at what's coming from the White House lately they're not doing too bad at the moment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A New Plan for Iran

The week of outrage continues, although this particular outrage might be calculated:
"But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together," he says.
And here's the video:



Outrageous, right? Maybe.

But maybe not. It's tempting to recall Obama's campaign rhetoric about the Iranians not posing much of a threat because of their tininess and his vow to Bill O'Reilly in regards to stopping an Iranian nuke. But maybe it's all part of a "smarter than you" plan regards terrorism and rogue states in general--a reverse psychology maneuver designed to put our enemies on the defensive in the court of world opinion.

We've already seen step one--banning Bush-era buzz words like terrorist and enemy combatant along with closing Gitmo (pending closure) and they've vowed to not 'torture' anymore anymore.

Heck, it sounds like something A'jad might do, but in reverse, removing the enemy's propaganda talking points (the biggest one being already nullified by the presence of Obama himself). And since the Israelis also sent a message to the Iranian people today there appears to be at least some coordination involved, although Netanyahu is a wild card.

The question is whether the Mullahs will buy it. They aren't idiots and it's doubtful they'd be happy about being treated as such. Tehran already called Bush's bluff and they know Obama won't attack, especially if presidential poll numbers continue to drift downward. Right now it's so far so good but we don't know what we don't know.

The nasty part is the plan's political risk for the One. He's betting that America will come through his first term without a major attack (outside the war zones) AND with no significant progress made on an Iranian nuke front. Should either occur the American people may not easily see the wisdom of a crafty subterfuge game while the wreckage smolders. It also depends on the enemy caring more about their world image than dying for Allah. While the visible leaders may not take the suicide plunge there's always a proxy around to do the work, and this plan does nothing to marginalize never-heard-of groups who may spring and take credit for an attack. It might end up a hard-sell.

But even a closet socialist cannot possibly desire such a bad outcome, one which would almost guarantee one-terminess, so perhaps there's something legitmate here. Then again, based on recent events the warm fuzzies may not kick in for awhile.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama on Leno

Not sure what the final cut will be, but the pre-show reviews are in:
Obama told "The Tonight Show" host the payments raise moral end ethical problems -- and the administration's going to do everything it can to get them back. But Obama added the bigger problem is the culture that allowed traders to claim them. He says that's got to change if the economy is to recover.
I can fully understand and appreciate the Adamsonian precept of America needing a moral grounding to our capitalistic republic but such is not something the government can provide--it's up to the individual. The only way Obama could guarantee a change in habits would be to force a soul-searching through creation of a socialist nanny state (something Adams probably predicted).

Interesting, though. If Obama thinks our current financial system, corrupted every bit as much by experiments in social engineering as greed, cannot recover without some kind of moral wind shift wonder what he thinks of this system (note the link to AIG)?

Wronging a Wrong

"Decent people". That's the term Charlie Rangel used as he introduced HR 1586, the "Using the Tax Code as a Political Weapon while Covering Democrat Ass" bill of 2009, or something like that. Indeed, are there any decent people left in DC?

Just the other day the same hack guy said he was a bit leery of using the tax code as a weapon, specifically stating, "Is this an indictment or a bill?". Apparently a subsequent visit from Nancy made him see a different light--see the update to the Huffpo link.

At least there was one seemingly decent person in Minority Leader Boehner, who followed Rangel on stage by reminding everyone of the grief he took a few weeks ago by throwing the 1000 page Stimulus Plan that nobody read on the House floor-- quite simply must-see-TV and a shining moment of FUBAR clarity. He departed by asking how anyone could vote yes on a targeted 90 percent tax rate. Indeed, how, and still maintain their party philosophy?

But some did. Here are the names of the Republican Nancy boys (and girls) who joined with Rangel and Pelosi's pitchfork mob by voting yes:

...well, we don't have their names yet. But they know who they are. Soon we all will.

So folks, welcome to bedlam. There are evidently a bunch of adolescents running the federal government at the moment. At least the leader of this pack will get a chance to explain everything tonight on Leno--right after he finishes explaining all his NCAA picks of course.

ROCK THE VOTE 3/19/09

Here's the list. Included in the yea votes are Cantor and Hoekstra and a lot of others, including Tennessee's Zach Wamp. The 7th District was well-served, though.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fleischer's Verbal Faux Pas

Crooks and Liars (perhaps the most appropriate nutroot blog name on the interweb) and friends are making a minor issue out of Ari Fleischer's recent interview with Chris Matthews last week, famous for this, but where he also said this:
FLEISCHER: ... and I believe this still today. And of course, you and I disagree with it. But after September 11, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again? And that‘s the threat that has been removed, and I think we‘re all safer with that threat being removed.
Again, eh? Was this a verbal 'slip up' similar to Katie Couric's on 9/11? Frank Gaffney was asked to appear on the show the following day to explain the comment and proceeded to suggest Saddam or AQ might have been involved in the Oklahoma City bombing and the liberal slurs began to fly. Those wascally neocons!

But is it so outrageous and conspiratorial to believe that Islamists at war with America in the 90s could have found a friend in an enemy of their enemy, Terry Nichols? It was none other than Richard "Boogie to Baghdad" Clarke, hero of the left during the 9/11 Commission hearings, who said:
Like Oswald, McVeigh and his partner, Terry Nichols, almost assuredly had foreign encouragement. In Against All Enemies, the much-celebrated Richard Clarke had this to say about the simultaneous visits of Nichols and Islamic terrorist Ramzi Yousef to the same city in the same country at the same time.

“We do know that Nichols’ bombs did not work before his Philippine stay,” writes Clarke, “and were deadly when he returned.”
And Clarke is no neocon. It's also a fact that Terry Nichols made out a will before his last trip to the Philippines for some reason, concerned that he might not return. Scared of flying, perhaps, or scared of something (or somebody) else? It's not like he wasn't plotting to blow up a Federal building at the time and didn't need bomb-making help.

It continues to be curiously amusing to watch the kneejerk reaction this kind of suggestion produces on the left, as if the mere thought of Saddam Hussein being linked to anything except a Dorito habit is akin to heresy and a cracking of the anointed conventional wisdom continuum that says George W. Bushitler invaded Iraq only to get revenge for daddy (as if the assassination attempt of 41 alone was somehow NOT a hostile act).

If perchance anything ever becomes established as to the exact role Saddam played in international terrorism aimed at America it might help to explain a lot of the actions Bush took and things he said (or didn't).

Who knows, it might also help explain why terrorism is now considered by some as simply one of many "man-caused" tragedies that could befall us, like a blown failed levee or fallen bridge and so forth. But probably not.

FOR THE ROAD..

Amidst all the recent outrage, about damn near everything, the Obama administration has quietly appointed former CIA Director John Deutch to a board reviewing spy satellites, which brings back some misty memories (notice the 2000 reference to Saddam btw, right there in Salon).

Whatever happened to the WMD expert at Homeland Security who brought the white powder and dead fish to work? The story seems to have disappeared.

Pitchfork Populism

Stephen Colbert needs to listen closely to Shep Smith before picking up any more pitchforks and next time direct his mob to where it belongs--in front of Congress.

After all, only a clown brigade could demagogue the very same bonuses they allowed to happen via legislation only a few weeks ago. Only a clown posse could stand in front of illegal aliens and call them patriotic while labeling border enforcement unAmerican.

And only an insane clown posse could threaten to publicly name the names of individuals who were merely parties to legal compensation contracts in a shameless effort to save their scrawny political backsides, or perhaps deflect attention away from the Fed's money move. The AIG employees need to tell Frank where to put all this feigned indignation (and not where he might enjoy it) then take large chunks of their bonus money and donate it to charity while engaging in some demagoguery themselves over Obama's idea to limit charitable donations.

And where is the watchdog media? Running interference as usual, but they can't hide this massive hypocrisy forever. Here's al-Reuters making the ole college try, though:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell pinned much of the blame on the Obama administration, which inherited the AIG bailout, the financial crisis and the recession from the Republican administration of George W. Bush.
Nice framework. But here's a question they need to ask. Will they? Can they without mentioning Bush at the same time?

Hey though, they did unearth the fact that Arizona is a great place to play golf (if one has a job, that is). So is Ireland, which sounds like a great early retirement destination for this clown. Finally, a new respect for coach K as Obama jinxes us again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Man-Caused?

Man-Caused. That's our new official term for terrorism according to Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano. She described to Der Speigel her recent avoidance of the T word during a presentation to Congress as "nuance" in an on-going effort to avoid the 'politics of fear' (George Bush).

But wait, isn't 'man-caused' a little sexist? Shouldn't it be 'person-caused' or 'societal-caused? How about a compromise--'Bush-caused'. That would surely send some tingles.

And take a look at this, from the interview:
Napolitano: In some ways, the problem in Europe is greater than in the United States. But the questions are the same. How do you identify a youth who is susceptible to becoming radicalized? How do you work with that youth, his family and community to give them alternatives to radicalization?

SPIEGEL: Would you characterize such social measures as a task of your agency?

Napolitano: Yes. In fact, we have group within my agency, the civil liberties group, and they have a focus right now on that issue.
Evidently there's now a social outreach group embedded within DHS to help look after terrorists man-causers(?) rights? It might be good but it sounds so bad.

Whew. So, recapping here, since Obama was inaugurated America has closed Gitmo without any place to put the 9/11 attackers (only to have the 9/11 attackers crow even more about their feat); restricted the use of the term "enemy combatant" in reference to terrorists evil-doers man-causers (even though the term enemy combatant is in the Geneva Conventions); and now this. Apparently the real cause of 9/11 and all the hostility WAS coming from America all along--it was our vernacular! If only Bush had known he could have waged a war on harsh words.

Both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were quoted as saying they operated under the premise that America was a paper tiger. But can we even call ourselves that anymore? Paper is now seen as harmful and tiger is waaayy too aggressive and mean-spirited. How about "flimsy kittens"? That'll really disarm them.

Give Them The Money

Should these AIG officials due hefty retention bonuses--agreed to before the bottom fell out and grandfathered in previous legislation by Countrywide Chris Dodd--be "ashamed of themselves" for taking their dough? These CNN twits seem to think so.

Hey, I'm down with the seediness of all this but I'm even more down with defending contract law and orderly society. Do we really want a complete breakdown of civil law? Is envy and populism really worth it? Do we want Frank, Dodd and Pelosi running America's companies with some kind of mob mentality?

Congress and Obama need to just shut the hell up and let these people have their money. Going forward they can enact specific restrictions on any future bailouts, remembering next time what they've already done. Maybe write things on post-it notes. Have Frank do it.

Otherwise this pitchfork populism is gonna get somebody killed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama Budget Pledge

Via Sweetness and Light, this is part of Obama's new campaign to use grassroots volunteers to help garner support for a massive budget to be debated later this year. Nope, this isn't the one loaded with earmarks he just signed (that was last year's business, just like the TARP and AIG bailout).

Apparently the passage of this multi-trillion budget signifies the actual change we were told to believe in, things such as government-run health care, cap and trade taxes on the middle class, and spreading the wealth downward through new taxes on the amorphous "rich" (while continuing to demonize them). No, that's not what he's telling the bots nor will it be what they tell their neighbors, but it's always good to be informed before someone comes knocking.

Here's the pledge page:



Clicking on the pic will not take you to the actual ObamaBorg site but rather to a symbol of patriotic dissent.

By the way, grassroots movements are common but grassroots movements ordered by the president are kinda Creepy with a capital C. If the bots are getting this jazzed over a simple budget resolution perhaps that's because of the downrange impact it might have. So if it's not a conservative wake up call maybe it should be--or at least something worth watching a little closer.


(also via Instapundit)

Cheney on CNN

John King asked some very good tough (but fair) questions of ole Darth while remaining even-tempered and unemotional. It's doubtful Olby, Matthews, Larry King or O'Reilly would have remained as composed, which is probably why they get better ratings.

If you missed the interview it's here. Really no bombshells, only Cheney defending his time in office as he views it through his unconventional wisdom lens. It tends to confuse some reporters whenever Cheney fails to live up to their view of Cheney, even though they know he's blunt. It's as if they wish he'd break down and admit Saturday Night Live is reality.

My only beef is him drifting too far into criticism of the successor administration. That used to be known as bad form, at least it was when Carter was doing it last year. Obama was elected and he's doing it his way, right or wrong.

But speaking of bad form, here's an object lesson from the mouthpiece of the most ethical, post-partisan administration ever (via Hot Air):



One idiot was laughing loudly but listen closely and you'll hear a short low whistle after Gibbs mentions Cheney being part of a Republican 'cabal'. That's the same kind of whistle somebody usually makes after hearing a completely over-the-top unbelievably petty or asinine comment in a forum where it doesn't belong.

MORE 3/16/08


Paul Begala--whom CNN identifies as a Democratic strategist and former employee for the Clinton admin without mentioning he's practically working for Obama--is pouncing on the Cheney interview with John King to flush out some more post-partisan political points:
Set aside the, umm, irony of a guy who is alive, thank God, because of government-provided health care opposing health care for taxpaying Americans. And set aside the hypocrisy of the Bush-Cheney Medicare prescription drug entitlement, the greatest expansion of the federal role in health care since President Lyndon B. Johnson.
"Opposing health care". That's rich. Surely Begala can dig up that policy point in his pile of used strawmen.
Focus instead on Cheney's alarmist rhetoric: "a massive expansion in the government", "much more authority for the government." Cheney is comfortable with a government that has the authority to torture, imprison, censor and kill. Just not a government that has the capacity and compassion to write a health insurance policy or take on Big Oil.
Perhaps because a president has the Constitutional responsibility to protect Mr. Begala and Mr. Gibbs and everyone else? But a real testament to post-partisan talking points, eh? He managed to get the torture strawman out there again, suggestive that Darth was down in the executive office basement poking KSM in the eye with a branding iron. That's what they're trying to do, and it's damn sinister coming from an administration.
I write this only hours after King's interview with Cheney, and yet I believe it will live in history. Right there, in his own words, Cheney gives historians a candid explication of his world view: that government may claim dictatorial powers when he and his ilk are in charge, but when we the people call on our government to act to address recession, illness and ignorance (made worse by Cheney's policies) well, then we've reached Cheney's boundaries of the government's power.
Well no, only when there's an existential threat. But his screed together with Gibbs' childishness, with both working in unison with other Clintonistas in trying to make every Republican into a mini Rush Limbaugh, sounds like they're trying hard to recreate the 90s. Surely there's a taste of revenge in there somewhere.

Congressional Hubris

The concept of multi-million dollar bonuses being paid to AIG executives, especially those involved with credit default swaps, after a massive federal bailout is rather unpleasant to say the least. Even if one considers the fact that armchair pundits don't understand the compensation structure of such entities, it's still malodorous under the circumstances and certainly a PR nightmare.

But perhaps just as malodorous is this pompous buffoon grandstanding on the issue:
Frank said he was disgusted, asserting that "these bonuses are going to people who screwed this thing up enormously."

"Maybe it's time to fire some people," he said. "We can't keep them from getting bonuses but we can keep them from having their jobs. ... In high school, they wouldn't have gotten retention (bonuses), they would have gotten detention."
Geithner has cautioned bailout recipients to tone down their bonuses but nobody besides Bill O'Reilly seesm interested in challenging Frank and Dodd on their records. What would be enough to trigger the 'firing' of a Congressman?

IT'S AN OUTRAGE! 3/16/09

Tom Maguire is outraged over the outrage over AIG:
Yeah, let's just burn their houses down. I can't even believe I am reading this. And do note the utter lack of outrage over the larger losses in the boring, low glamour securities lending area. People who want to believe we need more regulators are determined to look past that glaring regulatory failure, and people who would rather wring their hands than think are wringing their hands.
Essentially AIG has a contractual obligation to pay these people. But Obama needs to tell us why this is any different than him signing the 400 billion 9000 earmark Omnibus appropriation bill under the guise of "last year's business".

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breaking Bad

Is good. Very good. In my humble opinion.

For those not hooked it's a TV series on AMC Sunday nights at 9 central. It's got me, and I haven't been hooked on a TV series since the 90s.

The general premise follows the title--good guy goes bad. Matter of fact, the initial previews were somewhat of a turnoff to conservative-minded law and order types--just another liberal glorification of crime due to circumstances.

But as the series has unfolded it's become remarkably compelling to watch Bryan Cranston's middle aged Walter Mitty-like high school chemistry teacher character first learn he has terminal cancer, then realize his life savings will get wiped out paying for treatments. With a pregnant wife (with an 'oops' baby in the oven) and a handicapped teenage son to think about he decides to solve the problem by teaming up with a former slacker student to cook the best meth ever while dodging his DEA brother-in-law, and the 'fun' begins.

Cranston won an Emmy last season for his role, very well-deserved. The writers should be awarded as well. Breaking Bad has more bizarre plot twists and predicaments than you'll ever see, all utterly believable and imminently clever. Perhaps the most alluring part for us middle class burb dwellers is the cross pollination of cultures depicted as Cranston bounces back and forth between his docile life in suburbia and the mean streets of Albuquerque.

So far they've stuck to heavy doses of reality in favor of agenda. That may well change, but I don't care. Next week's episode can't come soon enough for me.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Shoe Throwers International

This is really quite amusing--people joining together worldwide to celebrate a crass act of failure. Said one fan:
Matt Love of Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada called the Iraqi journalist's move "an act of great courage" and said that in showing his disdain for Bush, "He spoke for many millions of people."

The 52-year-old retired Washington state department of transportation worker believes everyone can learn from the shoe thrower.
Learn what, to act emotionally when one disagrees with a head of state? To practice more violent dissent? Or to throw bigger shoes or practice harder? The 3 year sentence seems a little harsh but in comparison to what Saddam would have done, not so much. But whatever the case--pies, shoes, signs, insults--it's no wonder so many on the left felt immediate solidarity with al-Zaidi.

Settled Science

In other news, global tropical activity remains at a low ebb according to Florida State. This goes counter not only to Al Gore and the Environmental Defense Fund, but also to Dr. William Gray.

Wonder, does anybody besides Hansen really know what's going on? Oh well, science is now in the forefront of our policy, so no doubt Obama will take this lessening of hurricane acitivity into serious account.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Samson Spree

Evidently there was a Memphis couple involved in the Samson, Alabama killing spree. They had stopped at the gas station where deranged shooter Michael McClendon was spraying bullets and both fortunately ducked at the right time. They were quite lucky.

Every time one of these tragedies occurs people grope for the whys and hows. It seems unthinkable to most of us. Even more bizarrely, almost every event involves a nice "quiet" young man whom nobody would ever suspect. That's probably because they weren't paying close enough attention.

James Allen Fox had a pretty decent overview of this phenomenon today on CNN, although his argument about a lack of family support doesn't seem to jibe with McClendon killing most of his family support. Maybe family doesn't really count because those relationships are built-in--it's the outside societal success that leaves most as embittered lonesome losers. The police may well prove most of this as poppycock as they've hinted there is a general motive in play (but will not tell us what it is yet). Meanwhile, Mr. Fox included this rather prescient observation:
In the wake of extraordinary shooting sprees like the Alabama tragedy, calls for tighter gun control typically surface as a possible policy response for prevention.

Yet the mass shooting just hours later and thousands of miles away in rural Germany, where gun limits are stricter than in the United States, reminds us that any debate must confront questions broader than just guns, even if the use of a high-powered firearm tends to increase the victim toll.
That's the thing about someone approaching a mental meltdown--a lack of guns won't stop them. Bomb instructions are available on the net and there's always sharp instruments or at last resort, getting in the car and running people over. Yet our liberal friends think controlling access to firearms will lead these troubled folk to self-confesional visits to the nearest mental hospital. Our local paper has been busy of late waging a personal war on carry permit holders, presumably thinking they can rid Memphis of street crime by taking away a citizen's right to protect themselves against the local hooddom, not to mention nutcakes like McClendon.

Perhaps next they'll also find a way to prove that tires should be outlawed due to that West Memphis bombing. In reality, incidents like Samson (and West Memphis) point out the starkness of good and evil in our world and how we're all fighting the battle in various stages. It's as old as time itself and will never change, regardless of the fanciness or availability of our weaponry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Almost Dead Ba'athist Gets 15 Years

Looks like Tariq Aziz got 15 years for his Saddam-era crimes. Hopefully he continues to get the same great medical treatment in prison that miraculously cured him in 2006:
Former Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz may have less than a month to live after suffering a cerebral embolism, his lawyer says. Tareq Aziz is "in agony and I do not expect him to live more than a month"
But they had no WMDs or ties to terrorists.

Never a Doubt

Whew. Good thing Obama shattered his campaign pledge and signed the Omnibus earmark appropriation bill. He could have easily sent a strong signal to Congress against frivolous spending during a down economy (one at least as bad as the Great Depression) by wielding his veto pen.

Puzzling indeed, as there was really no downside for doing so, only downside for the Republicans taking part in the pork. Congress could have passed another Continuing Resolution in their sleep, funding the government at last year's levels until September. Do they think the public, if polled on it, would have rebelled?

So what happened? Well, maybe it was this:
Mr. Obama’s aides said privately that they did not want a confrontation with Congress over the earmarks at a time when the president needs cooperation on an array of priorities that are more important to him.
Hmm, he's got a majority Democrat Congress in play, most of whom probably agree with his stance on global warming, health care reform, closing terrorist detention facilities and legalizing illegals. Or are we to believe the 40 pound brains in the braintrust thought a simple veto--fulfilling a vital campaign promise while showing that flinty toughness--would somehow jeopardize Camelot? Were none of them afraid he'd come off looking Pelosi-whipped?

Or maybe they figured the signing statement would take care of everything.



Never a doubt.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Platform for the Planner

Scruff the Madman Terrorist got some press time today from his soon to be closed cell down at Hotel Gitmo, grumbling out a lot of propaganda and embarrassing a bunch of 9/11 troofers and Rosie O'Donnell again.

CNN didn't publish his six page manifesto but provided a few cuts, which are worthy of review on a slow news day. Here's KSM deriding Bill Clinton:
Answering another accusation, hijacking and/or endangering a vessel or an aircraft, the five said, "if you do not respect the innocent in our countries, then we will do the same, by exposing you to danger and hijacking in the air, at sea and at land."
OK, he didn't name Clinton hut most of his grievances seem to have been accumulated during Slick's reign, back when he planned the Bokinka and 9/11 plots. To be fair he also mentioned the atomic bombs on Japan, so he didn't spare Truman, either (apparently he's hated America since being here to study engineering in North Carolina back in the 80s). But mentioning Clinton always seems to froth up liberals who think the 90s were an era of near-utopia. Anyway, here's KSM on the religion of peace:
"Our religion is a religion of fear and terror to the enemies of God: the Jews, Christians and pagans. With God's willing, we are terrorists to the bone."
That'll froth up the liberals even more. Of course, like everyone else he had to throw in a financial prediction as well:
It also predicts that the United States "will fall, politically, militarily and economically."

"Your end is very near and your fall will be just as the fall of the towers on the blessed 9/11 day," the court filing said.
The crazy markets went up anyway. And no word on what happens to the millions of Muslims living in America after our downfall.

As to KSM's fate, he belongs in hollowed out cell down the hall from his nephew Ramzi at the Supermax. Or perhaps the winner of a special hunting trip with Cheney. Instead he'll probably get his grand martydom wish due to the 'torture' thing nullifying any evidence in a civilian court (despite his multiple confessions). But before they fry him it might be interesting to let him explain how a small clan of Baluchi natives almost singlehandedly brought down America. And why.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Rules for Radical Presidents

Isn't it about time to end this "get Bush" thing?

First it was the web site, then the "no torture" Executive Orders (as if Bush was pulling out thumbs left and right). Now we have proclamations against signing statements (unless needed) and the bizarre follow-up phone call to the NY Times on the socialist question.

Even when he retains a Bush policy it's the new and improved not-a-Bush policy that's still a Bush policy. And that's only because Bush stupidly appointed subordinates who craftily righted the wrongs behind his back so Obama wouldn't have to, or something.

It's as if he doesn't really believe he's actually president yet and feels the need to keep hammering away towards victory. Or could it be the goal is a bit more sinister, perhaps to completely destroy the opposition before moving on to the real agenda (rule Number 8)? Whatever the case it doesn't have a very presidential feel.

The entire premise of the mulligan reply was to remind the Times that it was Bush who started the bank bailout train rolling last fall and, by the way, who also passed prescription drug benefits, which of course completely disregards Obama's own vote on expanding medicare and his vocal advocacy for the Paulson bailout. Yet somehow W's the socialist (that is, when he wasn't being a fascist). Does he not realize he's currently doubling down on the very same stuff he's using to condemn Bush?

If this wasn't so serious it would remind me of the Red State episode where Stephanopolous calls Obama a Muslim. And don't call him a socialist, either, George. He's a share-the-wealth progressive anti-Republican something or other.