Thursday, September 29, 2011


The first thing this story reminded me of was of a Gary Larson cartoon:
The 38-year-old co-pilot at the helm of the All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight hit the wrong button while trying to push the unlock door button to let the captain back into the cockpit after he stepped out to use the restroom.

But instead of pressing unlock, the co-pilot hit the rudder trim controls — a mistake that tipped the Boeing 737-700 more than 130 degrees to the left and sent it plunging 6,234 feet in 30 seconds, all while flying at a height of 41,000 feet.
Maybe there's not more to the story--737 captains would know for sure--but it certainly is a bit disconcerting, for several reasons.

One is obvious--that simply mis-hitting a button could crash a plane. The second is bit more conspiratorial: this is not the first time a plane has fallen out of control shortly after a captain has left the cockpit to take a break. Two incidents come to mind, Egypt Air 990 and this one, where the first officer was merely adjusting his seat after the captain left the cockpit and in doing so sent the plane into a dive. That was also a 737. After regaining control the crew blamed an 'air pocket'.

So are these just freak occurrences that have always happened but are now getting more press in the 24/7 news cycle or is training or skill really that bad?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Asylum, Again

Like so many embarrassing stories out of the United States this one comes not from the mainstream media but from a blog--Pajamas Media (with a hat tip to another blog), which details two Bangladeshi men caught illegally entering the country in Arizona. One big problem--both admitted to being part of a terror group:
Two Bangladeshis who were caught by Customs and Border Protection illegally crossing the border in June 2010 admitted under questioning that they were members of a designated terrorist organization that signed on to a fatwa by Osama bin Laden pledging to wage war against Americans.

But amazingly, after one of the men requested asylum, he was released on bond. And now one Homeland Security official tells me, concerning the released terror operative, “We don’t have the slightest idea where he is now.”
Requested asylum? That triggered an old memory cell regarding a notorious terrorist from the past:
ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1992, Ramzi Yousef arrived at JFK airport. He presented an Iraqi passport without a U.S. visa, was briefly detained (and fingerprinted) for illegal entry, and granted asylum pending a hearing. Yousef went to stay at the apartment of Musab Yasin, an Iraqi living in Jersey City. So too did Abdul Rahman Yasin, Musab's younger brother, who arrived in America from Iraq soon after Yousef. (Musab had an unlisted telephone number under an Israeli-sounding alias, Josie Hadas.)
Obviously Ramzi never showed up for his hearing. He left the country right after his World Trade Center bomb failed to topple one tower into the other and kill perhaps 200,000, was granted access to an airliner under his real name and a real passport and took refuge in Pakistan. And here we are, almost 20 years later, allowing someone else with terrorist ties to claim asylum. The difference is this time, with 9/11 in the rearview mirror, we did it despite knowing he had ties whereas with Yousef he wasn't on any lists and didn't confess to being affiliated with a terrorist organization before being released.

When border security/illegal immigration is added to the picture it's no wonder this story never made big headlines. Remember, Obama was threatening to sue Governor Brewer last year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Look Around, CNN

This not-too-subtle bash on GOP political candidates, disguised as a hit piece on bad candidates at large, is nothing new for CNN. The writer mentions an indefensible black politico--Marion Berry--to set up the hit on Newt Gingrich, Jan Brewer, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, who were the only others mentioned in the piece. We're not grotesquely stupid, CNN.

A more fair and balanced journalistic outlet might have mentioned the guy who thought Guam was going to tip over if we put more troops there. Or the guy who tweeted nekkid pictures of himself to underage girls. Or the guy who said that if the bill didn't pass unemployment would go over 8 percent. Or the woman who said she took fire in Tuzla.

Or this woman--the governor of North Carolina:
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, North Carolina, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”
Keep hope alive, governor. You see CNN, there are plenty of bad politicians out there and they don't all have the R next to their names. And plenty of voters who put them in office.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Said Morgan Freeman to Piers Morgan

Morgan Freeman is certainly making some news for himself with this segment, which presumably most have seen..

The part that jumped out was this line:
"Screw the country, we're gonna do whatever we can to get this black man outa here"
Meanwhile another black man, Herman Cain, came out of Florida as a Tea Party favorite to run for president. He just won the straw poll down there. He holds no animosity towards the respected actor, but just wondering--would Freeman have supported Cain if he was the GOP nominee against Hillary in 2008? What if Cain is their nominee this time?

Freeman went on to tell Morgan that Obama needs to start "bloodying some noses", a strategy with which Morgan seemed to agree. Is it any wonder Obama just told the CBC crowd to get their marching shoes on and fight? By the way, just imagine some white actor telling Bill O'Reilly that Sarah Palin (target of constant ridicule from the moonbats and hustlers from orgs like the CBC and NAACP), needs to start bloodying some noses and get the Tea Party on the streets to fight. The POTUS might even fly to Tuscon and do another speech.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Those Evil Little Inhalers

News is hitting the wires today about the coming forced change in asthma inhalers at the end of the year, and of course some are blaming Obama:
Remember how Obama recently waived new ozone regulations at the EPA because they were too costly? Well, it seems that the Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer.
But Obama is only a part of the problem. He didn't create the Montreal Protocol agreement in 1987, which banned CFCs, still used to power some inhalers. All CFCs were supposed to be phased out by now but they loosened the ban to allow for a more gradual reduction for inhalers, but according to the site Weekly Standard linked, sufferers will now need to get a prescription and pay more for their life-saving plastic pumps:
Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government's latest attempt to protect the Earth's atmosphere.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol substance once found in a variety of spray products.
Does anyone know exactly how these little pumps emit CFCs? What's the science? Are there little exhaust ports or does it just seep out? Or is it exhaled? Calling Al Gore...

Speaking of Gore, here's an oldy from the 90s talking about his use of the politics of fear to hector Bush 41:
In somber tones, Gore reminded his colleagues of previous fears about "the ozone hole over Antarctica," and insisted that our nation faces "not only a long-term, critical threat to the global environment, but also an immediate, acute emergency threat." He raved about "blind rabbits and blind salmon in the areas under the edge of the ozone hole in the Southern hemisphere," and claimed that there would be "an additional 300,000 deaths from skin cancer in the United States as a result of ozone depletion over the next few decades." He also linked ozone depletion to "extra cases of cataracts and blindness due to cataracts," and to "damage to the human immune system...."
Such an effective campaign. Arrrg, the ozone hole! Yet despite the ban scientists say the level of ozone in the Arctic was at an all-time low this past winter. The reason? Inhalers. No, actually, unusually cold air aloft:
"The Montreal Protocol actually works, and the amount of ozone-depleting gases is on the way down, but quite slowly," said Geir Braathen, a senior scientist with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which co-ordinates ozone data globally.

"In the meantime, we have some winters that get much colder than before and also the cold periods last longer, into the spring," he told BBC News. "So it's really a combination of the gases still there and low temperatures and then sunshine, and then you get ozone loss."
OK. CFCs are down 10 percent since Montreal (at some level in the atmosphere wherever they measure it) but they just recorded the lowest drop of ozone ever over the Arctic, explained by colder than normal temperatures aloft they can't really explain. Meanwhile the Antarctic ozone hole just keeps forming year after year. And here on the surface of the earth in temperate climes, where ozone levels have not threatened anyone lately, asthmatics are asked to do their patriotic duty by paying more for their evil little inhalers. It sure sounds like a racket, but we're always open to scientific rebuttals.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Walking into Walls, Thowing Up on Leaders, and Other Things

Obama today in a group photo shot taken with world leaders, making the rounds.. My, what an embarrassing picture, waving like a bitter, clinging hick...

Here's one possible response..

Or maybe that would that be considered mean-spirited. What would Reasonable Man say? Is Reasonable Man still reasonable if he makes more than 200K, or does that mean he is officially not amongst "the people" anymore? And what happened to the reality-based community?

MORE 9/21/11

Wow, that was quick!

Aviation Update


The fact they couldn't see the pilot in the cockpit in one of the still photos might mean he passed out at the controls. Perhaps the G forces pulled when the nose suddenly pitched upward (the elevator trim tab issue) caused him to blackout and he slumped forward, causing the plane to dive. That hasn't stopped conspiracies from cropping up including the name Ron Paul. No lie.

Here are some other mysterious crashes reported on here, causes as yet mostly undetermined..


Tensions are still running high:
The Airlines said the Ethiopian delegation traveled to Beirut on August 19, 2011 to join the Lebanese and American members of the investigation team to conduct the technical review.

“To the dismay of the Ethiopian delegation, none of the members except the head of the Lebanese delegation were present for the task,” the statement disclosed.
They seem to be saying the American delegation wasn't present. Strange business. According to the following report the Hizballah unrest over the Hariri murder charges have had a chilling effect on the investigation, not to mention...
The report also stated that the French Bureau of Investigations and Analysis for Civil Aviation’s Safety, working in cooperation with Boeing, was unable to recover a damaged segment on one of the retrieved five cockpit voice recorders. It was unclear how the CVR memory chip was found detached from the black box. It is also confusing how the important segments of the CVR were damaged. This has cast doubts on the investigation process.
Good luck to them.


Progress is not coming along much better in this one:
BEA director Jean-Paul Troadec on July 5 sent an unusually blunt letter to the head of the accident investigation complaining that the review has not made sufficient progress. He notes that a report has been compiled by local authorities, which was completed last month, but still has not been made public. He also notes that document appears to be mere findings of initial facts, which should have been issued within three months of the accident.

He criticizes the fact that data recorders have not been analyzed because of what he characterizes as baseless arguments, noting that France contributed €3 million to recover the so-called black boxes.
Much of the delay and obfuscation over all these cases could be primarily about liability. Unless it's something else.


NTSB has weighed in on this one with five recommendations, all involving use of oxygen masks. Nothing about lithium batteries, which seems to rule out nothing. The investigation continues.

Speaking of oxygen masks, one of the members of the Canadian investigation team who looked into the crash of Swissair 111 in 1998 believes the crash might be suspicious, contrary to the formal finding. From my reading of the relevant material it has always appeared likely that a fire started in the electrical system and took down the jet, just an accident.

But if he's looking for a crash conspiracy perhaps he should have considered Egypt Air 990 or one that occurred even further southwest.


Hard to find much about this crash on the net. With the turmoil in Libya, and French involvement in said turmoil, it's not surprising.


The CVR/FDR retrieval pretty much sealed the deal for most people--high altitude icing in traversing the large thunderstorm complex over the Atlantic leading to pitot tube freeze up and erroneous autopilot disengagement causing a stall. But another similar disengage event occurred in July of this year on a flight from Paris to Caracas(!) producing a similar loss of control. This time turbulence was blamed, which kind of removes the whole pitot tube issue as the sole cause.

None of which suggests foul play, as it's just as likely a design flaw or training issue. Actually, it more suggests that commercial aircraft need to avoid icing and turbulence whenever possible, and that trans-oceanic flights might are especially vulnerable and probably need improved weather detection as part of the solution. There seems to be little mention of this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blinkered Blame

To use a newsman's quote, this story is "dog bites man" but it deserves a rant due to who it is and the truth revealed. So there's your rant warning.

Former NY Times editor Bill Keller had a piece out Monday lamenting the downfall of candidate Obama in which he largely blames Bush and the Tea Party, but in doing so he inadvertently illuminates--in his eastern elitist snotty way--why many conservatives think the mainstream media is biased as hell.

He lectures that the downfall comes from four places--Bush's mess, the Tea Party, some liberals, and Obama himself. Here he is taking the obligatory cheap shot at Tea Baggers:
The Tea Party faction has captured not only the Republican primary process, but to a large extent the national conversation and the legislative machinery. In Congress the anger is pandered to by Republicans who should know better, since their nihilism discredits not only the president they have cynically set out to make a failure, but their own institution. Voters are frustrated by this — Congress has the approval rating of bedbugs — but it remains to be seen whether the electorate will punish the real culprits or simply reward the candidates who run against that bogeyman, “Washington.”
So the baggers--who deserve to be punished--have not only hurt Obama (the shellacking) but they've also damaged the GOP while forcing the 2012 field into becoming anti-government robots. Since Keller later says Bush displayed a 'blinkered certitude' it's probably safe to assume he thinks anyone right of David Brooks is a nut.

Then he hits the left, and hits them hard:
The disenchantment of the liberals may seem less consequential; it’s not as if they are going to vote for Rick Perry. But Obama needs their energy if he is to keep his office and have any allies left in Congress. What he gets instead is a lot of carping. Obama’s deal to continue the Bush tax cuts, his surrender of a public option on health care, his refusal to call the Republicans’ bluff on the debt ceiling rather than swallow budget cuts — these and other compromises amount, in the eyes of the Democratic left, to crimes of appeasement.
Yes, but are they blinkered, intransigent crazies out to destroy their party and America? Of course not, they'll still vote for Obama. He explains their major sin:
To be disillusioned you must first have illusions. Some of those who projected their own agendas onto the slogans and symbols of the Obama campaign were victims of wishful thinking — fed by Obama’s oratory of change. Anyone who paid attention while candidate Obama was helping President Bush pass the 2008 bank bailout should have understood that beneath the rhetorical flourishes Obama has always been at heart a cautious, cool, art-of-the-possible pragmatist. When he sees that he lacks the power to get what he wants, he settles for what he can get.
They've just been too blinded to see all the greatness. Had they just bothered to pay attention they would have realized that Obama has crammed down health insurance reform, enacted a whole bunch of environmental regulations constricting business, all while trying hard to raise taxes on the rich and redistribute wealth (when not busy distorting the truth and campaigning). Why can't they just see the light?

So there you go. The former editor of one of the nation's most influential newspapers admits to being so juiced on Obama he really thought the man was elected because "we're all in this together", so hopeful of a wave of euphoria and glad the blinkered nut had been replaced. Obama had a lot of work to do correcting the legion of screw-ups he was handed, much much more than anyone realized, even the geniuses at the NY Times.

But wait--Keller does find some blame for the savior:
It’s not just that he has failed to own his successes. He has in a sense failed to define himself. He is one of our more elusive presidents, not deeply rooted in any place or movement. David Remnick’s biography called Obama a shape-shifter. At the fringes, that makes him vulnerable to conspiratorial slanders: he is a socialist, a foreign imposter, a jihadist, an adherent of black liberation theology. To a less paranoid audience, his affect comes across as aloofness or ambivalence.
He's failed to define himself but at heart he's a pragmatic pragmatist, getting any deal he can to champion compromise on any issue (except health care). That sounds like a definition. The poor guy has just been too humble to market such pragmatic certitude correctly.

Keller just can't bring himself to end a column with even a mild Obama rebuke, so he finishes with a flourish, leading the readers back to the real enemies:
Rick Perry, who likes to rouse Texans by claiming the right to secede from the union, sometimes sounds as if he has expanded his view to encompass the secession of all 50 states. Even Mitt Romney — at heart a Republican technocrat (and the only candidate I’ve ever seen give a campaign speech with PowerPoint) — talks as if the main role of the president is to grant waivers from any kind of mandate upon the states. Such is the power of our new, centrifugal populism.

Do they really believe this, or are they just playing to the Ron Paul libertarian niche? Do you really want to find out? So let’s get real. Yes, Obama could do better. But we could do a lot worse.
Notice that he found some politicians that ARE deeply rooted with personal definition and he thinks they are evil dangerous nuts. Much better to have the ill-defined shape shifting pragmatic pragmatist who stands for compromise on anything for another four years, no matter which way he goes, because after all the country is doing so well. Then he asks us to get real.

Ok, here's real. Obama saying "I won". Slogans such as "pass the bill now", or class warfare gimmicks like the "Buffet rule", or inferring fellow Americans who want smaller government and less taxes are just like AQ terrorists, "barbarians at the gate" clinging to their guns and God. Or that Hispanics must punish their enemies, hint, hint. Or that Republicans drove the car in the ditch and must sit in the backseat. All while unemployment is over 9 percent, the stock market is like a roller coaster, and the entire country is suffering a malaise. To Keller, that's a winner.

Is it any wonder this guy was in favor of spilling Bush era state secrets?

MORE 9/20/11

Paterico's (actually Karl's) view. The same opinion, just better written.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Padilla Rebuffed

Interesting. The 11th circuit court of appeals not only upheld the Padilla conviction but ruled that his sentence was too lenient:
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the sentence imposed by a Miami federal judge was too lenient. The appeals court sent the case back for a new sentencing hearing.
For background recall that Padilla was kept in a Navy brig (he sued over it) as an "enemy combatant" for years but was later transferred to the federal court system and charged on something less than the dirty bomb plot after several lawsuits and rulings. Apparently the Bush folks feared where the discovery would lead--to black sites holding people like KSM, while the left saw it differently--that Bushitler was forced to come up with new charges because the Navy or CIA or Dick Cheney had belly slapped poor Jose one too many times.

In other words, dropping the dirty bomb charges never meant they stopped suspecting him of being involved in a dirty bomb plot it just meant they couldn't charge him with one. While the left sees that as sinister the very same concept was used to send away alleged AQ mistress Aafia Siddiqui by the Obama DoJ, who got sent away for 86 years for trying to kill FBI/DoD personnel instead of any ties to her husband or college majors.

The Padilla case backfired because they ran across a liberal-minded judge, just one of the hazards of trying terrorists in federal court. But clearly the 11th Circuit doesn't want to see this guy on the streets again anymore than Bush did, nor anymore than Obama wanted to see Siddiqui attain freedom.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Side Tracks

Live Roots!

GM Deal

The NY Times has a thin-on-background article today about the first union-management deal (tentative) between GM and the UAW since the bankruptcy. A few choice excerpts:
The deal will help G.M.’s 48,500 union workers share in the company’s turnaround and should give them more job security, two top priorities for the U.A.W., though the tenuous nature of the economic recovery will continue to inject some uncertainty.
Wha? The economy may actually affect job security? It didn't during the greatest recession since the great depression caused exclusively by Bush, so why would it going forward? Of course like all evil management fascists, GM wanted job security tied to making better products, although one has to wonder if either considers ignoring warranties on cars purchased under the "old GM" as a good way to gain consumer trust. Oh well, in just a few years they would have been void anyway!
The union said in a statement that it had successfully fought G.M.’s proposals to weaken retirement benefits and obtain major concessions to health benefits.
Two same two areas are killing the post office, another large union entity backed by the government (difference being that GM has a fairly sustainable business model while the USPS is on par with the pony express). At least this agreement seems to maintain some kind of profit-sharing productivity/quality incentive, something gleaned from reading between the lines as it wasn't part of King's talking points.

Not to bash every union auto worker--they need their jobs like everyone else and many are surely working hard to turn around their companies and save their futures--but the union leadership needs to get real about who turned around' GM, a company that would currently be out of business if they weren't so large and connected and essential, like the evil AIG.

Anyway, with a GM agreement in hand they move on to the other two..
In its tradition of pattern bargaining, the union is expected to seek similar terms from Chrysler and Ford. But it is likely to have more difficulty doing so than in the past, given the disparate conditions of the three companies. The union is expected to focus on achieving a deal at Chrysler before turning to Ford.
Ford (quality is job one) is going to be the real challenge since they didn't take the bailout-bankruptcy route and just recently made a commercial mocking that very thing...

Wonder, were those fighting words? Both GM and Chrysler workers agreed not to strike through 2015 but Ford workers are not bound to such an agreement.

Unsurprisingly the Times made no mention of the UAW's stake in GM through the VEBA health care trust, which seems to own over 12 percent of the company. Of course, the AP didn't either, but they did mention comments from King about the goal of organizing the non-union auto plants across the country at some point.

No shocker--that's what unions do--but the question is how they'll do it in a new political environment where the president seems OK with union leaders threatening to 'take out' their adversaries--even if those adversaries are fed-up taxpayers who bailed out their companies. King is demanding direct UAW board representation at the big three, including Ford, so it should be interesting to watch.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Holding the Economy Hostage

Holding the economy hostage. Those words usually come from liberal commentators maligning evil capitalists, who we've been told are sitting on piles of cash they refuse to invest to get the economy going because they want Obama to fail, are racists, haters, etc. In the case of House Republicans the words come from Obama himself, portraying their refusal to pass his bills as hostage-taking. But assuming the economy is being held hostage, who's really doing it?

Talk to the average Democrat and they'll admit the Stimulus failed--but only because it wasn't large enough. Obama is now proposing Stimulus Part Deux, Stimulus Junior, call it whatever, which is half the size of the first one. In order to save the economy we have to pass this new bill, and pass it now! But why would even a Democrat assume it would work at half the size?

Talk to the average Republican and maybe they'll admit to being somewhat happy that Stim I failed because its success would have been a huge affirmation for Keynesian economic theory. They would suggest we try the other approach, one more similar to Warren Harding's reaction to the forgotten depression of the early 20s.

But Obama can't. He simply cannot throw out Keynes and redistribution and all the tenets of his liberal faith.

So instead of actually saying, "well, we tried this and it didn't work, let's take a suggestion from those guys and see it their idea works, because after all, it's about jobs, jobs, jobs and I am always open to suggestions from the other side", he's left to double down on Keynes and try a shorter version basically designed to punish his enemies. As Tina Korbe at Hot Air notes, this approach leaves him with three political hammers to hit Boehner and the candidates with come 2012. It's all about his job, job, job.

So who's actually holding the economy hostage? The head-scratcher to political pragmatists like Carville and Clinton is why Obama doesn't take the GOP up on their offer. If Obama came out today and said he was going to work with the GOP to try their way how would people react?

Perhaps he couldn't get any such bills past a Democratic Senate, but would they want to be the ones holding everything up? If he did, and the economy improved next year, he might be re-elected in a landslide. Most of the moderates/independents who voted for him DID NOT vote for Keynes, or Ayers, Marx, or Eurosocialism, they voted for an amorphous 'change' that was largely seen as 'anyone but Bush'. Most of those same folks would probably approve of moving in a new direction and laud his leadership. Of course, if things didn't improve Obama would be left with "we tried their way", etc, which could nullify the platform of every one of his contenders.

It seems pretty basic, but therein lies the conundrum--Obama is a true believer. When he said he wanted 'change' it wasn't what the moderate/indies thought, it was likely something more radical. Affirming a Hayek-Freidman-God forbid Bush approach to the economy would probably be the worst thing imaginable and certainly not something worth risking to fix the economy. So we're all captive.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spy Museum

Two former spies, once adversaries, talk about old times and what we're coming to..

Let's see, the US, western Europe, Russia and China all working together to stave off planetary destruction by fanatical Islamists centered in the Middle East who themselves are trying to buy WMDs from former Soviet satellites or Chicomm arms traders. Sounds like a great Bond movie.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Don't Know...

But this sure looks like a candidate...

Wonder how she'd do up on stage calling Perry a crony capitalist?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


...Remembering the innocent victims who ten years ago today went off to work under beautiful September skies never to return home again.

Remembering all the SOBs (real SOBs) that our military and intelligence professionals have captured or killed in the ten years hence....

Agreeing there are still a lot of bad guys, but acknowledging there are fewer than on this day in 2001. Thanking all who served and protected, and remembering those who paid the ultimate price by fighting back.

MORE 9/12/11

From the NY Times coverage:
Unlike Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush drew a cheer from those who remembered him shouting through a bullhorn atop the smoldering rubble.
And if that were the entirety of the article the reader might conclude that Rupert Murdoch had secretly executed a hostile takeover of America's newspaper. But the rest of the article exists, including more than enough cookies for the new terminator:
He is a Democratic leader who opposed the Iraq war and is pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan but has notched up a record as a lethal, relentless hunter of terrorists.
It's hardly arguable that the terminator has terminated more terrorists than his predecessor...("we have taken the fight to Al Qaeda like never before,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address) but does termination define success in this kind of conflict? The Times went on to explain a possible Charlie Sheen endgame:
“Our strength is not measured in our ability to stay in these places,” Mr. Obama declared. “It comes from our commitment to leave those lands to free people and sovereign states, and our desire to move from a decade of war to a future of peace.”
Which sounds a bit like the Bush doctrine. The difference is whether we leave those lands to "free people" or just leave. Was Obama setting a timeline by mentioning only one decade of war, which is now officially over, or was he just using politico-speech? He said we have a 'commitment' to leave them to free people but only a 'desire' to move out of the decade of war, so there's no real specificity.

But most are aware of Obama's desire to leave, if for no other reason than the fact we're out of money and he needs the remaining cash flow to find legacy-building social initiatives. He knows that politically speaking we can't just leave and watch the jihadist celebrations, so the United States must first leave an impression of shock and awe on the way out lest the impression be left that we got our asses handed to us by a bunch of mountain men. We may not have much other choice left.

To get there Obama changed the Bush doctrine from "kill or capture" to "kill". It plays well with the public and besides, captured terrorists have to be placed somewhere for interrogation where they have a tendency to encourage their liberal interlocutors to demand habeas rights and visits by the Red Cross and stories in the NY Times about Gitmo hypocrisy.

Captured terrorists also need costly lingering trials usually having the flavor of kangaroo courts, whether in federal or military venues, so it's simply much easier to blow them away with robotic toys from a control room in Florida. Even the anti-war doves rarely make noise when we blast a bad guy; they were fairly quiet on that front even during the evil Bush years.

Meanwhile, does anyone remember the last important terrorist captured by NATO or American forces? Anyone remember the HIG? Most of the captures have occurred in Pakistan, whom we can't trust, so it's questionable as to whether we're getting the kind of intelligence needed to stop future attacks. But few seem to care at this point. We're all tired of fighting. Which was bin Laden's early calculus.

The Times story ends by mentioning the capture of Abdulmuttalob (underwear bomber) and Faisal Shazad, the Times Square bomber, as examples of how 'rightly proud' Obama is of his domestic counterterrorism record. Yet for some reason there was no mention of Fort Hood or Little Rock. In the former case the president went out of his way to downplay the Hasan's jihadist ways, and in the latter the federal government didn't even prosecute Abdulhakim on terrorism charges. Or anything (state murder charge). And the public has heard very little about what if any useable intelligence was ever gleaned from any of these suspects. So it seems part of Obama's successful counterterror strategy involves depending on friendly papers like the NY Times to play ball on certain issues. Winning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Side Tracks

Play the blues.

9/11 tapes

This set of recently released 9/11 air traffic/military recordings pretty much puts to rest the entire truther movement in one fell swoop. The surprise attack caused so much confusion between civilian and military controllers and decision-makers that it's impossible they could have all been play acting. Also, a military C-130 pilot witnessed Flight 77 striking the Pentagon, debunking the silly cruise missile theory. One basically has to believe everyone on these tapes was lying to maintain belief in the conspiracy.

Aside from the conspiracy-busting, the tapes are an absolutely chilling reminder of the terror that unfolded that morning, particularly the primal cockpit chaos as United 93 was being taken over. May those terrorist bastards continue to rot in hell.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Reagan Library Debate lightning summary...

Showed well: Cain, Gingrich, Santorum

Even performance: Bachmann, Romney, Huntsman

Showed poorly: Perry

Impossible to judge: Paul

People don't simply look at presidential candidates for their answers to questions alone, they also look for intangibles such as demeanor, poise, charm and sense of humor under fire, and substance-conviction. While I thought Perry did poorly he exudes more natural leadership than the rest of them. But it may not be enough to offset his often halting responses. Maybe he'll do better on his next one (it was his first).

Paul was Paul. He went off the edge earlier on Fox News in response to roving reporter Jesse Waters' question about Iran and nukes--Paul essentially said they wouldn't want nukes anymore if he were elected because America no longer be the evil imperialists causing all the problems. Then he doubled down during the debate by stammering out that a border fence might keep Americans "in" instead of just keeping all the scary illegals out. Is he trying to win or not?!

Then in typical Paul fashion he aced the Williams' condescending loaded question on school lunches by drilling it down to the state level, which puts the onus of providing the free lunch on local taxpayers instead of a massive federal bloatocracy, while reprimanding the journoadvocate for impugning the humanity of conservatives for being conservative. Here here! Paul is definitely the most entertaining of the lot due to his stark honesty, which is his downfall.

So it appears Romney won by default, with Cain and Huntsman elevating their status as potential VP candidates (if Rubio passes). All in all still a little stale. But just imagine this debate with Palin and the fat man added. C'mon, you know you want it!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Big Coffee Weighs In

The Starbucks CEO is on a crusade:
"We are better than this." That's the message Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants Congress and America to hear, according to full page ads in the New York Times and USA Today, where Schultz invites "concerned Americans" to take part in a teleconference tonight, to address what he calls the "pervasive failure of leadership in Washington."

What's got him so hot under the collar? Schultz has made no secret lately of his disgust with what he deems an unacceptable level of partisanship and political wrangling in Congress.
Conservatives reading this will probably immediately smell a rat, one of the same variety that came from Sheriff Diptet after the Giffords shooting. In other words, those wingnut hostage-taking Republicans are off the rails and must be stopped! This cannot stand!

But would a coffee giant risk alienating the Tea Party, who no doubt drink coffee, too? Maybe. Perhaps they've done some market research, maybe with the help of jaded former GOP consultants, and discovered that such people prefer not to part with 2-3 bucks for a 'tall' cup of coffee they can get at Mickey D's, Waffle House, Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts for about half the price. Conservative folks tend to be conservative, after all. Starbucks currently has a big Halloween ad campaign running on the NY Times website that doesn't appear to be running on Fox News dot com.

Then again maybe he's truly scornful of both sides. His letter sounds positive. Of course that's a risk too since it might tend to tick off ALL his customers, so we'll have to wait and see how the national townhall telcon goes tonight. If he gets on there and advocates a new tax code without loopholes and definitive non-phony spending cuts, with some modest tax increases for the "rich" then perhaps he's for real. But if he says something like, "let's take those sons-of-bitches out!!!" followed by a Dean scream then we'll know for sure.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Another One Down?

News out of Pakistan:
Younis al-Mauritani's arrest -- made public five days before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- was seen as a blow to Al Qaeda's central leadership in Pakistan, further degrading its ability to mount terrorist attacks abroad. The terrorist organization has seen its senior ranks thinned since Usama bin Laden was killed May 2 along with Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the group's No.2, in a CIA missile strike last month.
Who is Mauritani? Thomas Joscelyn says he's not 'number three' (which used to be a source of derision during the Bush years) but he's certainly involved with plots against the west.

The interesting aspect of this bust was the location--Quetta. Long known as a city that has harbored the worst of the worst, Quetta is a city our drones can't hit due to the dense population and likely collateral damage and its resulting PR blowback. Obviously the Pakistanis are making a big deal of this capture since it shows their cooperation still exists despite the alleged simmering anger from the Abottabad raid. Perhaps money has soothed their rage, or perhaps they've cleaned house a bit after their embarrassment.

At any rate, this capture is only symbolic if CIA/FBI agents aren't allowed access. We still haven't heard an official word about what happened to Taliban Number Two Mullah Baradar after he was captured by the Paks.


With the 9/11 anniversary approaching a previously unreleased video of the smoldering remains of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania has surfaced. It really doesn't show anything unusual or unexpected, just smoke rising from the horrific crash site. Still, such evidence must really annoy 9/11 truthers, some of whom believe the government just opened a hole in the ground and claimed there was a plane crash. They once crucified a woman who came forward with a still photo of the aftermath showing similar rising smoke over the horizon, therefore it's no wonder this person wanted to remain anonymous.

What some of these folks don't understand is the force of an aircraft plowing into the ground at full throttle, inverted. According to a new book by Laurie Garret entitled "I Heard the Sirens Scream", FBI investigators autopsied the hijacker bodies from Flight 93 and found evidence of anthrax exposure. If true that would be a pretty big bombshell in its implications, but according to another book, "American Anthrax" by Jeanne Guillemin, FBI investigators did indeed forensically test those bodies, which required them to dig down 90 feet into the impact hole to reach the crushed cockpit section.

Their tests turned out negative, according to Guillemin. But the depth of their dig illustrates why there were no large pieces of fuselage visible on the ground at the site. Even small aircraft can produce 20 foot smoldering holes if the worst occurs. This is not intuitive, which is why many truthers won't believe it.

But as the ten year anniversary arrives perhaps this new video and the passage of a decade will finally serve as a cure to some of the skepticism, most of it rooted in denial. Perhaps Rosie and various other Hollywood celebrities can help by speaking out.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Belief in What?

CNN's "Belief Blog" is at it again. Here's today's lineup:

Beginning at the top left icon, a story about whether Christianity can stop pornography. In other words, lots of Christians are into pornography and this hypocritical chaos over sexuality is something to behold.

Moving rightward, the next icon tells of a touching story about congressman Keith Ellison's conversion from the "ritual and dogma" of the Catholic church he suffered as a lad to the "multi-national congregation" he found in Islam as a college kid. Right wingers are mean to him because of it, but he laughs them off.

Onward, the next story is about an atheist getting through AA despite her view of the counselors and her fellow participants as a bunch of Jesus nuts. God bless her for enduring the twin struggles.

The next story is kinda weird, one about a flight attendant aboard the D.B. Cooper hijacking airplane whom the pilot credited with being a calming influence on the hijacker, possibly saving lives. It details her mysterious subsequent venture to a convent followed by a name change and later move into obscurity. She's either nuts or in some kind of witness protection program.

The final top icon deals with 'speaking Christianese', which can be summed up by the final few sentences:
Speaking Christian can become a way of suggesting a kind of spiritual status that others don’t have,” he says. “It communicates a kind of spiritual elitism that holds the spiritually ‘unwashed’ at arm’s length."

By that time, they’ve reached the final stage of speaking Christian - they've become spiritual snobs.
Finally, the main story about how religion was affected by 9/11. There are four bullet points..

1) A chosen nation becomes a humbled one.

In other words, the chickens came home to roost. America was not really as exceptional as her idiot patriotic naive citizens believed. 9/11 proved we were no better or worse than Zimbabwe. So take that, wingnuts. The empire is falling so wake up and relish the reality of violence like everyone else in the 3rd world (even if America had already suffered two terrorist attacks on large buildings in previous years under Clinton, when sweetness and light prevailed and none of this was ever mentioned).

2) The re-emergence of "Christo-Americanism."

Summary--cut the Islamophobia you Bible thumpers. Muslims didn't attack us on 9/11, extremists who happen to be Muslims did. It wasn't about their religion at all, but it appears to be about yours.

3) Interfaith becomes cool.

Or in other words, believing in your Christian religion as before became un-cool. You didn't realize how bigoted you were but now you do, and all religions are correct and all express the truth--except yours, which is full of holes.

4) Atheists come out of the closet.

Yes, largely to smear militant Islam with general Christianity and Judiasm so as to blame ALL religions for the attack instead of the religion for which the attackers martyred themselves. In other words, rather opportunistic. Madalyn Murray O'Hair would have surely approved.

Summary--despite what CNN says 9/11 didn't vastly change the religious landscape other than to open a lot of eyes to the threat of militant Islam while allowing others to condemn Christianity as a participant in the evil. Yet Christians didn't form mobs to burn mosques or hunt down people who looked Muslim, instead many of them reached out to understand, some in a state of populist guilt brought on by stories like these. Of course, it's not hard to connect these dots to Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and other conservatives, but surely that's a coincidence.

MORE 9/4/11

Now the Belief Blog is highlighting a website that allows Muslims (or those appearing Muslim) to log-in and describe how they've been persecuted by Tea Partiers since 9/11. OK, it doesn't specifically say Tea Partiers, or baggers, but we all know who the culprits are, don't we?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Side Tracks

"Be yourself, no matter what they say.."

Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?

CNN's Nic Robertson got an interview with one of the leaders of the Libyan rebels Abdul Hakeem Belhaj. Robertson explains his background:
But there's not much ordinary about Belhaj. As a young man in the late 1980s, he was one of scores of jihadists in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that went to fight in Afghanistan. His military prowess soon made him a commander among his fellow fighters. After the fall of the Taliban, Belhaj left Afghanistan and was arrested in Malaysia in 2004. After some questioning by the CIA, he was sent back to Libya and jailed.

Belhaj was released from Moammar Gadhafi's notorious Abu Salim jail last year. He and dozens of others of LIFG fighters negotiated with the Gadhafi regime for their freedom -- in return for denouncing al Qaeda and its philosophy of jihad.
His interview wasn't an exclusive. Belhaj has been explaining his past affiliations to many reporters lately in an effort to combat the notion that a jihadist just helped take over Libya.

And he talks a pretty good game.

For instance, he says he was in Afghanistan in the 80s to fight off the Soviets--just like the United States--but wasn't a Bin Laden follower. Then, when Gaddafi cracked down on his LIFG group in Libya in the 90s after some attacks, they were forced to move to Afghanistan but only to train for a return to Libya to overthrow the tyrant, not as part of any global jihad aimed at reestablishing the caliphate. They fled after 9/11 but the CIA picked him up anyway and tortured him.

Yahoo provides a bit more:
"Yes, [Belhaj] said, he was detained by Malaysian officials in 2004 on arrival at the Kuala Lumpur airport, where he was subjected to extraordinary rendition on behalf of the United States, and sent to Thailand," the New York Times' Rod Norland writes. "In Bangkok, Mr. Belhaj said, he was tortured for a few days by two people he said were CIA agents, and then, worse, they repatriated him to Libya, where he was thrown into solitary confinement for six years."
Unlike the Robertson piece, this one explains that he pledged loyalty to Taliban leader Mullah Omar while in training in Afghan, although that itself is not evidence he advocated 9/11--it might have been a requirement to maintain the safe haven. Then again it might have been voluntary.

After all, the Taliban protected bin Laden and both came under US attack from Clinton during the 90s. In other words, in the starkest of terms this cat was technically part of the enemy that helped facilitate 9/11. And he wasn't the only member of LIFG:
In a 1999 interview, LIFG spokesman Omar Rashed lamented that the Libyan people had not "passed beyond the stage of sentiments to the stage of action," and hinted at a shift in focus, as bin Laden had done, from regime change at home to international jihad. "The United States no longer relies on its agents to constrict the Islamic tide; it has taken this role upon itself," he said, in language reminiscent of al-Qaeda propaganda. [6]

By this time, many operatives of LIFG (and a likeminded group, the Islamic Martyrs' Movement, also founded by Afghan veterans) had already chosen to follow the path of bin Laden, who relocated from Sudan to Afghanistan in 1996. Former LIFG member Abu Anas al-Libi, for example, was a key planner of al-Qaeda's 1998 bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Another is Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (Al-Qaeda members frequently adopt a surname identifying their country of origin – "al-Libi" is Arabic for "Libyan"), the former commander of bin Laden's Al-Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan. Abu-Hafs al-Libi (a.k.a. Abd-al-Hakim al-Jiritli) served as one of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's chief lieutenants until his death in October 2004.
Yet now he's asking everyone to believe he was shocked, shocked about the 9/11 attack and fled Afghanistan only to be picked up in another hotbed of Islamic terrorism and debriefed tortured by the CIA, although he carries no hostilities against the United States (except wanting his torturers tried and brought to justice).

So is he a terrorist or a freedom fighter?

It's hard to say, since he seems to cover most of his bases. But there's an old saying--when you lie down with dogs you tend to get their fleas, and the dogs in his case are enemies of the United States.

Anyway, most of mainstream America is just now getting this exciting new revelation about those we spent almost a billion to help, but one American who knew all along was the one sitting the the office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Is it any wonder Obama dithered in supporting NATO at the outset, knowing who was part of the rebel forces and knowing there were still WMD materials and surface-to-air missiles stored in the country? A pessimist could certainly look at this entire Arab Spring thing and see the possibility of Islamist governments from Cairo to Tunis, a sort of reforming of the caliphate that would fulfill a bin Laden dream.

These new revelations also better explain the recently revealed secret strategy meeting between former State Department official David Welch and Gaddafi representatives in Cairo. The details came from captured regime documents in Tripoli; the New York Times is reporting today about other documents that seem to detail cooperation between Libyan intelligence and CIA/MI6 in rendering terror suspects to Libya. If only the Times would have put as much energy into reporting on the captured Iraqi regime documents, many of which were on letterhead.

At any rate, don't be surprised if rebels find some documents pertaining to the most famous Libyan AQ terrorist of them all, Ibn al-Shake al-Libi, the guy whose training camp the LIFG fighters were using in Afghanistan and the one who supposedly told his Egyptian torturers that Saddam was conducting training for AQ fighters at Salmon Pak, which showed up in Powell's UN speech, which led to war in Iraq.

After the war he recanted, which was immediately believed by everyone on the left (and Lawrence Wilkerson), saying he was only feeding the west what they wanted to hear because hey, he wanted an attack on Iraq, too. He was rewarded with some time in blacksite world and later transferred to the same prison Belhaj resided--Abu Salim--where he supposedly hung himself in 2009, proving that Bush lied or something (everyone knows Iraq had no relationship with Islamic terrorists).

Speaking of the Department of State and documents, there are now thousands of Wiki Leak diplomatic cables floating around the net, all of them 'unauthorized' (as if any of them in the past have been authorized for release). Perhaps some of those cables might contain answers to the burning question of terrorist vs freedom fighter, who knows. One thing is sure--the NY Times and WaPo are now condemning their willy-nilly release instead of making them major multi-page features. Maybe that's because they can't guard against incriminating information coming out against their political heroes. There's something to be said for controlling the narrative.