Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Yes Tom, Climate Change Exists

Let's be clear Tom--climate change has been underway since, oh, forever.  The question pertaining to Sandy is whether a recent warming trend since the 18th Century is producing "ever more destructive storms" or was Sandy simply a collision between an unseasonably cold airmass and a hurricane?  

When it comes to hurricanes one prominent NOAA researcher says no, there's no evidence global warming is having an effect yet.  Others agree but are holding out hope!   

Now, one thing everyone knows with certainty is that more people are building homes near the ocean and areas susceptible to flooding.  Tom is absolutely correct about over-development but he seemed to be suggesting some kind of top-down governmental fix (wake up call, plan for the future, etc).  An easier way is to let the market take care of it.  You want a house right on the beach or in a flood zone?  You're gonna pay through the nose for insurance.   If people get the idea the government will be there to back them up if they make risky choices they're more likely to make risky choices.   Just look at the whole sub-prime disaster.   

Monday, October 29, 2012

Morning Joes Ask the Boss some Questions

Obama was actually asked point blank about Benghazi today by the Morning Joes, which set up a well-rehearsed boilerplate reply...


Some snippets and thoughts:

"..the fact of the matter is, this is a tragedy..." 

So it's not a terrorist attack or just an attack, but a tragedy. That theme will be repeated throughout the reply..

"..figure out what happened, and fix it". 

Sir, what happened was we got hit with a terror attack on 9/11 and our people were murdered--including an ambassador on sovereign US soil. How does one 'fix' that, exactly, especially since there might be hundreds of fighters involved? This wasn't an airline crash.

"..we have tried to make sure the American people knew, as information was coming in, what we believed happened".

Morning Joe then interrupted by noting that the 'story kept changing', to which he was told that's why they have an investigation. But if that's true and the administration was providing the peeps with updates why didn't they update us on Stevens' diary entries about being on a 'hit list'?  Why haven't they reported about the foreign fighters?  Why haven't they said word one about Sheikh Abdel-Rahman?   If the Morning Joes were real reporters they could have made these points, but of course if they were Obama wouldn't be talking with them one-on-one. 

 "..my number one priority was, secure Americans, figure out what happened, bring those folks to justice."
 "..my number one responsibility is to go after folks who did this.." 

Notice that not once during the interview did Obama use the word terror, terrorism, or terrorists.  Terrorists are now folks.  And neither Mika nor Joe asked whether sending out apology tweets or locking up the filmmaker and blaming his film or saying "the future mustn't belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam" was part of the fixing it thing.  

And of course the O folks are shocked, shocked and downright insulted that someone would dare question them over this tragedy.  Which means that anyone who continues asking questions will not only be rebuffed but shamed to boot.  He also said if there was some kind of breakdown that person would be dealt with, but ultimately he's in charge, not elaborating on exactly what that means.  Of course he knows there's a referendum coming in just over a week.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Evolving on Libya

President Obama, speaking to a Denver reporter Friday about Libya, referred to the Benghazi story lasting for "a couple of months".  To be precise, it hasn't been two months yet but it must seem that way to him with all the daily deflecting and misdirecting. But it must be working since everyone is still guessing.

Amidst all the leaks and angles some have forgotten the diary or "journal" found by a CNN crew in the burned-out diplomatic mission 3 days after the attack.  CNN contacted the family of Ambassador Stevens and the State Dept to coordinate, eventually passing the journal back to family members with an agreement not to quote directly from it, especially personal things.

Trouble is, they had a scoop.  What to do?  At the time the president was not remotely insisting it was 'an act of terror', rather, his minions were out blaming the Mohammed video.  CNN had evidence the attack might be a little more involved than a protest mob but couldn't directly report on it.

So they found a way.  Several days after the Rice media blitz on Sunday September 17th and the 60 Minutes episode where Obama zinged Romney for 'shooting first then aiming' (which dropped Obama's comment of September 14 saying the attack in Benghazi was different than Cairo) CNN came along with their scoop about Stevens being on an "al Qaeda hit list" and warning about increasing extremism in the area based on reports from those who knew him.  

The White House had to know they had been betrayed.  They had to know exactly where that story originated--after all they were consulted when the documents were found.  They were doing a lot of work to focus everyone on the video, so a day later Hillary addressed the story about the 'hit list' by going to a nuclear level nobody could have ever imagined, insinuating that CNN was lying:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today there is "no information" the American ambassador killed in a brazen attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya was on an al Qaeda hit list. Clinton said she had "no reason to believe that there's any basis for that," apparently referring to a report by CNN in which an unnamed source "familiar with Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens' thinking" said that the ambassador believed he was on such a list.
Enter Anderson Cooper, who went on his 360 program shortly thereafter to defend their honor by explaining exactly where they got the information--from Stevens himself:
"It's our job to inform you of information that's important," he said. "This was not broadcasting gossip from the pages of someone's diary. This was not reporting salacious details of someone's private life. This was reporting information that could impact the national security of the United States and the safety of U.S. installations in other countries."
...to which the Department of State formally replied by calling CNN "disgusting".  Those two events, Hillary suggesting CNN was lying and one of her spokemen calling them disgusting--after knowing about the diary--should have been a tip-off.  But there was more.  In a subsequent email exchange with a left-leaning journalist about the remark a State spokesman told him to "F off" (begging the question of what it takes to get anyone fired these days). 

And thus began the initial cracks in the Mohammed meme.  The diary story faded away as other things came into play, such as memos and administration officials calling it a terrorist attack, but it wouldn't be the last time CNN was injected into the story.   In the second debate Candy Crowley stepped in to help remind Obama that yes, he had called it a terror something-or-other right from the start.  CNN was back in the tank--say it louder, Candy!  Thank you very much.   

Lately CNN got another scoop--that AQ in Iraq fighters might have been involved in the attack.  Back out of the tank?  Maybe, but few are picking up on it.   That's surprising, since foreign fighters were mentioned on day one by the president of the Libyan Assembly:




...which strongly suggests a level of pre-coordination--denied by the administration in the early weeks.  And that brings up another question--how far in advance did they know about these foreigners (other than from the Libyans) and how are they going to be brought to justice?  Obama is still out on the campaign trail saying he ended the war in Iraq.  This isn't about onesies or twosies with drones or SEAL teams, this is about hundreds of fighters.  

Sticking with the coordination issue, we still don't know how much protest organizers communicated before the initial triggering event (designed as an effort to free Abdel-Rahman or promote other Arab Spring goals). One person surely knows already and he's been busy sitting down with MTV and others telling them that "what he says, he means", and that they "don't play politics" with national security and always provide the people the latest information as it comes in.  But if you notice in all his interviews he never calls them 'terrorists' instead choosing to use 'folks' or 'people'.  Is that intentional for politics sake or some other reason?      

Left over in the maelstrom is how our overall kinetic intervention in Libya is doing and how it might proceed under a second Obama term:
But on policy, what happened in Benghazi raises serious concerns about the actual success of the Libya intervention. It’s not a slam dunk, as previously advertised by Clinton. (“We came, we saw, he died,” she said upon hearing news of Qaddaffi's death.) As one senior U.S. government official who’d visited Libya told me earlier this summer: “It’s not Iraq, but it’s not good, either.”
Only weeks before the attack John Kerry stood in front of the DNC crowd and bellowed that we didn't lose a single person freeing Libya.  Meanwhile Romney tried to hit on this during the third debate with his overarching criticism of regional foreign policy but he never got specific (probably due to his own history).  No questions were answered.  Something missed in the Fox News report Friday--somebody referred to the lost F-15 in the early days of our involvement in Libya as being 'shot down'.  Previous reports blamed it on a mechanical issue.  Sounds like there are a lot of unhappy campers out there. 

Where does any of this leave the voters?   Does this event crystalize Obama's foreign policy as one of  'responsibility to protect'?  If so, was this an example of how RTP protected our own personnel or does it only relate to Libyans in Benghazi we saved, or is this protection limited to the prophet of Islam? Do the majority of voters even care? 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Virgins, Vote for Me!

What kind of values is the president trying to promote with his "virgins, vote for me!" campaign? Is this the new presidential? And why does the left feel the need to defend it?

Yes, Reagan made a corny joke in the 80s about pulling the lever for the first time for a Repub and feeling good about it, but that's not even a good analogy since he was technically not a voter virgin after pulling it for Democrats years beforehand. And the lever/knob thing itself? Where are they going?

Tying the Gipper to the "virgins, vote for me!" campaign seems a little desperate.  Matter of fact the whole thing seems a little desperate and tawdry.  Wonder if it was Bill Clinton's idea?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Frankenstorm

"Frankenstorm"-- what some are already calling the predicted mixture of a cold front with hurricane Sandy, projected to hit the northeast corridor around Halloween. Hmm, wonder if the Weather Channel's tentative name for the first significant winter storm--"Athena", will be used, or will they abandon that and use Frankenstorm or just "Sandy"?  We await their exciting decision.   

Surely if this thing comes to pass its own spinning will pale in comparison to the spinning done about what it means and how it's handled.   One would think the political fallout could only help Obama going into the last week of the campaign (barring some kind of weirdness) as flaks point out over and over how well it was handled by FEMA, et al.  They've been looking for a story to come along and eclipse Benghazi but things have been slow lately.

What about the global warming references?  Oddly, that subject didn't come up in any of the debates.  With James Hansen NASA already predicting that 2012 will be the warmest on record no matter what happens from here out it's a bit of a head-scratcher.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Mysterious Plant Bombed in Khartoum

Speculation is of course centered on Israel:
"Four planes coming from the east bombed the Yarmouk industrial complex," Belal told a press conference. "They used sophisticated technology … We believe that Israel is behind it."
Israel has alleged that Sudan was making weapons for Hamas.  No word about how Sudan will attack back, perhaps they have some horses and bayonets available. 

Odd coincidence since the US once bombed a facility in Khartoum after accusing Sudan of hosting a pharmaceutical plant allegedly tied to bin Laden that was allegedly making VX nerve gas via the expertise of Iraqi scientists:
In 1998 Human Rights Watch said a coalition of Sudanese opposition groups had alleged that Sudan stored chemical weapons for Iraq at the Yarmouk facility but government officials strenuously denied the charges. In August of that year United States cruise missiles struck the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in North Khartoum, which the US said was linked to chemical weapons production. Evidence for that claim later proved questionable.
That was back when calling Saddam a threat to the world was cool. One of the perpetrators of that attack was Clinton NSA Sandy Socks Berger...
Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering claimed to have sufficient evidence against Sudan, including contacts between officials at Al-Shifa plant and Iraqi chemical weapons experts, with the Iraq chemical weapons program the only one identified with using EMPTA for VX production. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a Sudanese opposition in Cairo led by Mubarak Al-Mahdi, also insisted that the plant was producing ingredients for chemical weapons.[5]
Former Clinton administration counter terrorism advisor Richard Clarke and former national security advisor Sandy Berger also noted the facilities alleged ties with the former Iraqi government. Clarke also cited Iraq's $199,000 contract with al Shifa for veterinary medicine under the UN's Oil for Food Program. David Kay, a former UN weapons inspector also said that Iraq may have assisted in the construction of the Al-Shifa plant, noting that Sudan would be unlikely to have the technical knowledge to produce VX.[6]
Here's more, from CNN:
But U.S. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger said Sunday that the United States has "physical evidence" that the factory was manufacturing a chemical used to make deadly VX nerve gas. "The evidence, obviously, is highly classified," Berger said on CNN's "Late Edition." "We're not going to release it, but I can say that I have no question and the intelligence community has no questions." The United States claims Osama bin Laden, an exiled Saudi militant, was using the factory for chemical weapons production. Sudanese officials have denied that claim.
What a warmonger, that Bill Clinton!  As far as anyone knows Berger still hasn't backed off the attack rationale.  Actually, according to Timothy Noah, nobody from that team has backed off: 
George Tenet, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Sandy Berger, who was national security adviser at the time, "still believe they made the right recommendation." Indeed, the authors of the report say they are not aware of any top Clinton advisers who will concede that the Al-Shifa bombing was a screw-up.
Most were never grilled on it, especially after 9/11.

Tick Tock

As the Trump blimp deflates all over the internet like a child's popped balloon attention turns to the emails on Benghazi.  The right believes they show evidence of a cover up; the left believes the entire thing is fake outrage over politics.  I take some issue with both.

For instance, the movie can't be completely dismissed.  Why?  Because we don't know enough to completely dismiss it.  We don't know if Ansar al-Sharia or other groups used the video to whip up outrage amongst their flock of useful idiots to carry out an attack, opportunistically spurred several  hours after the Cairo protest.

We don't know if they were planning an attack already but sped it up due to the opening provided by the movie outrage.  We don't even know if the video was legit or a prop secretly made by Islamists to justify all the violence.  The filmmaker is still locked up in solitary here in America. 

We don't know if Egyptian Islamists coordinated with their counterparts in Libya, or those throughout the Arab-Muslim world, before the fact.  We don't know exactly what the facility in Benghazi was being user for or why Ambassador Stevens was there with light security on 9/11 meeting the Turk ambassador. 

We DO know a few things, though.

We know the initial protest in Cairo was designed to free the Blind Sheikh.   The Obama people haven't mentioned him once, nor have they been asked about him after 9/11. 

We know Obama knew early that Benghazi was an organized attack not involving a protest mob.  We know that despite just suffering a terror act and loss of an ambassador he jetted off to Vegas for a fundraiser.  We know he knows what Benghazi was really being used for, which might explain some reticence (only because the answer might be politically sensitive).  We know that in the first interview he gave of the event, on September 12th to 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft, he answered thusly (emphasis added):
In the same story that breaks the news and gives readers the e-mails, CBS News prints an unaired answer that Obama gave Steve Kroft on September 12. It was his first interview after the attacks. "You're right that this is not a situation that was -- exactly the same as what happened in Egypt and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start."
That episode aired on Sunday, September 17.  Ambassador Rice had been on five TV shows earlier that day, including on CBS, to pump the position that it was a spontaneous reaction to the movie clip, suggesting that just another mob protest spiraled out of control.  We know Obama knew it wasn't a protest mob.

We know nobody in the major media has used this event to question our overall policy in Libya or the role going forward. 

All of which leaves more unknowns.  Why was Rice instructed to say what she said?   Who told her to misappropriate the truth (keep in mind they knew by that time it wasn't a protest gone amok)?  Why did 60 Minutes cut that segment with Obama saying, "and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start"?  It certainly would have looked strange in comparison to Rice's earlier comments.   Who told them to cut it and why?

In the end the facts are few because reporters have not aggressively pursued the facts.  Dave Weigel blames reporters--heck yeah--the question is why those reporters haven't been doing their jobs.  Answers are easy to imagine, even without proof.

IRAQ?   10/25/12

CNN reported last night that fighters from AQ in Iraq were involved in the Libyan attack, mixed with locals.  There's a history of Libyans working with Iraqis to fight US troops in Iraq; evidently some were returning the favor:
U.S. intelligence believes that assailants connected to al Qaeda in Iraq were among the core group that attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. government official told CNN. That would represent the second al Qaeda affiliate associated with the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
This suggests further that the attack was not spontaneous.  If intelligence is leaking this to the press it also suggests a level of foreknowledge.  So, will we now have to "send in the military" to Iraq bring to justice these terrorists or will Maliki just round up some usual suspects?    

Interestingly, CNN this morning is headlining a story casting doubts on the State Dept's own emails during the event that indicated Ansar al-Sharia was involved based on Facebook and Twitter posts, which were picked up yesterday, inflaming the story even more. In this article is a link to the story above about Iraq, clicking on it simply takes the reader to the email debunking story. Just a glitch, probably.

The bottom line doesn't change, though. Had the president simply stayed with his early comment to 60 Minutes and not tried to pretend the event was just another mob protest flared by the movie trailer, ie, having Ambassador Rice repeat that honest assessment on the Sunday shows, none of this would be at issue. We would simply be faced with the stark reality that AQ may indeed have suffered some setbacks but they remain a lethal enemy not to be used as political fodder.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gas Price Paradox

Remember what Obama said during the second debate about "bringing down gas prices"-- he equated falling prices to a faltering economy:



Fast forward a few weeks and suddenly there are stories popping up about falling gas prices, which could "help" Obama at the polls:
In a week that saw President Barack Obama poll dead-even with Republican rival Mitt Romney in the race for the White House, it may have been some relief to Democrats that gas prices have shed 17 cents in the last 12 days. While that could help boost the president's chances for another four-year term (or at least not hurt them), the drop in prices has more to do with luck than with White House energy policy.
These hopeful stories have actually been coming out since late Spring.  But let's get this straight--falling gas prices, which Obama says indicates a troubled economy, somehow helps Obama because people like falling gas prices and tie them to the president.   High gas prices mean a recovering economy, unless there are two oil men in the White House.   

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Side Tracks


Beyond Benghazi

While the incident in Benghazi on 9/11 remains a political target for Romney several nagging questions remain that might partially explain the loopy, clownish narrative put forth by the administration.  What was really going on there?   Was the initial purpose of the video meme simply a cover story to deflect attention until all the i's were dotted, t's were crossed by the intel folks?  Did it get hijacked by political operatives in an election year?  Or was the whole thing just BS from start to finish? 

The posters over at JOM have been busy digging and speculating.  Take a look at this article:
In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens' life. In November 2011 The Telegraph reported that Belhadj, acting as head of the Tripoli Military Council, "met with Free Syrian Army [FSA] leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey" in an effort by the new Libyan government to provide money and weapons to the growing insurgency in Syria.
We haven't heard much about ole Belhadj since Gaddaffy departed.  The former jihadist is now in the Libyan government.  A quick primer--he was a higher-up in the LIFG, "Libyan Islamic Fighting Group" and once trained at AQ camps in Afghanistan and became a member of the Taliban.  He was arrested in 2004 and thrown into the same Libyan prison where former AQ operator Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi (the guy who flip-flopped on the Iraq-AQ terror connection) later supposedly killed himself in that Gaddaffy jail. Don't confuse him with Abu Yahya al Libi, a high-ranking mole just whacked in Afghanistan over the summer whom AQ number one used as a prop to incite more violence before 9/11.

The LIFG itself eventually merged into AQ--or not.  Nevertheless it wouldn't be surprising to hear Belhadj or others were helping supply mujihadeen and weapons to the Free Syrian Army (and their many jihadist fighters).  The question is how the US might be involved.  Because you know we are involved.  Here's Aaron Klein's opinion from WND, for what it's worth:
Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
Obviously there was a reason Stevens was in Benghazi on 9/11, one that hasn't fully been explained. His last diplomatic meeting was with the Turkish ambassador, which seems to bolster Klein's story.   They likely weren't discussing a movie clip or the price of goats.  Klein makes a point nobody else is making--this really wasn't a consulate and the administration has not called it one.  The State web page doesn't list it as one.  At the same time the political spinmeisters are not discouraging the notion either.

Of course, it makes the idea of a mob protest a lot sillier if it wasn't an official building.   It also makes it puzzling as to why AQ would attack what amounted to their own logistics base and why Ambassador Stevens was screaming for more security and felt he was on an AQ 'hit list'.    

Petraeus gave a closed door briefing to congressmen the week after the attack.  So the question becomes, if any of the above is true did he tell them?  If he told them, are they grandstanding despite the fact?  The rumor released was that Petraeus was trying to sell them on the movie meme, ie, continuing the cover story for the administration, which would explain why this is still a story for some congressmen (if any of them know and are spinning anyway they need to be sent home, but it's doubtful Lindsay Graham or McCain would allow it).

So here we are.   We have the remote possibility the administration was exposed for having a facility designed to do something other than what diplomatic posts are designed to do, and what it was doing seems to explain why the administration doesn't like using the phrase 'war on terror'.  Romney will either address this Monday and risk his own blowback depending on the hidden story or skip it altogether and make a play on the large scale policy.  Either way might be a tell as to the veracity the above.

It really should surprise no one if some of Daffy's SA7s are flowing to Syria to help shoot down Assad's air force but it would be more surprising if we were helping to make such a thing happen, especially if people like Belhadj or those of his ilk are involved.  There's already enough horrible irony.  Then again, most of our history regarding the Middle East is wrapped in realpolitik.

Even still, damn.   Are we at war with terrorists or not?   Romney could perhaps take a safer road and focus more on Obama's super secret vision for the region.  Right now it seems we have an Arabia dominated by Muslim Brothers and former AQ fighters, with a destabilized Iraq, nuclear Iran, and a revitalized Taliban in South Asia next to nuclear Pakistan.  In other words, pretty much bin Laden's dream.  Exactly where is the win for the west?  Simply responding "Osama is dead" might ring pretty hollow in the proper context.

MORE  10/20/12

ABC News to the rescue.  According to an anonymous 'official' they spoke with, the 'bulk of the available information' points to a spontaneous attack triggered by the Cairo protest.

Just in time for the foreign policy debate.

WORTH A LOOK  10/21/12

This site, presumably written by a retired foreign service officer, asks some very good questions and provides some plausible answers in the comments. 

HOWEVER,   10/21/12

Back to the ABC report from the insider calling it spontaneous, how does Obama square the circle between calling it a terror act on 9/12--placed on the record in the last debate---and a spontaneous event triggered by a movie clip without being accused of shooting first then aiming?

The answer: he'll have no choice but to pivot back to making a distinction between "a terrorist attack" and "an act of terror".   He'll say he called it an act of terror (and nothing more) but waited for further intel before declaring it a terrorist attack--and he turned out to be correct, making him one awesome Decider Guy! Whether such a course of debate, should it come up, would flummox Romney is why we'll have to watch but surely he's prepared from such a criss-cross.  It should surely flummox the average viewer; 'wait, I thought he called it a terror attack in the last debate, etc'.    

Friday, October 19, 2012

Birdies

It's Friday and I'm tired of politics.   So it's time for some philosophy..

(mild bad language)



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Preventing Disinformation

That's how Obama described his muddy response to the Benghazi terror attack to the man who asked the debate question (bold added):
President Obama, though, wasn’t done with Kerry Ladka. “After the debate, the president came over to me and spent about two minutes with me privately,” says the 61-year-old Ladka, who works at Global Telecom Supply in Mineola, N.Y. According to Ladka, Obama gave him ”more information about why he delayed calling the attack a terorist attack.” For background, Obama did apparently lump Benghazi into a reference to “acts of terror” in a Sept. 12 Rose Garden address. However, he spent about two weeks holding off on using the full “terrorist” designation. The rationale for the delay, Obama explained to Ladka, was to make sure that the “intelligence he was acting on was real intelligence and not disinformation,” recalls Ladka.
So he responded by feeding the public disinformation about a movie clip for two weeks?

One could ask why they considered the initial information suggesting a terror act (his words) disinformation since it came from our own folks.   One could also ask why he defended his use of the word terror on September 12th if he was protecting against disinformation. 

Now, the argument can be made that Bush didn't immediately blame 9/11 on bin Laden, yet he also didn't blame it on Salman Rushdie, burned Korans, or our presence in Saudi.  And that's the deal here.

Speaking of information and disinformation, too bad someone couldn't have asked about the new revelations regarding O's past with Ayers and Wright that surfaced yesterday (to almost zero fanfare). Surely it's one or the other.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wasn't Libya a Success?

As both sides joust over blame about Benghazi one thing has been largely ignored--Libya itself.   The president intervened to stop a possible massacre in Benghazi; our representative was murdered in that very same city in a massacre.   Just a few weeks ago at the DNC John Kerry said the following:
He refused to accept the false choice between force without diplomacy and diplomacy without force. When a brutal dictator promised to hunt down and kill his own people like rats, President Obama enlisted our allies, built the coalition, shared the burden so that today, without a single American casualty, Muammar Gadhafi is gone and the people of Libya are free.
Would Kerry have used that same paragraph had the attack been carried out on the 4th of July?

If Obama were a Republican wouldn't the New York Times be running a daily headline about our "failed North African policy"?   Wouldn't Obama be seen as a reckless cowboy who engaged in an illegal pre-eemptive war based on "lies" (the freedom fighters weren't actually Thomas Jeffersons but more Osama bin Ladens) to secure oil fields?  Wouldn't the TPM blog be aghast at the temerity of a Commander-in-Chief who would use a You Tube clip to hide his shortcomings?  Wouldn't the Daily Kos say "screw em" to the departed souls because they were meddling in a country we overthrew with an illegal war?   You know the answer.  


As the debate unfolds tonight it will be interesting to see what kinds of questions Ms Crowley chooses for Obama pertaining to this subject, and how the president answers them.

AFTERMATH 10/16/12

Romney held his own, but on a couple of issues he lost this debate.  One, Libya.  He completely botched the response by getting himself into the weeds on whether Obama used the word 'terror' on the day after the attack. He did.

Now, everyone knows O was parsing.  His administration went on to blame the movie for three weeks thereafter.   And of course, after saying "no acts of terror" he jetting off to Vegas for a fundraiser, where he generically bashed Romney as if nothing had happened.  Romney did point out that O went to Vegas the next day but got confused on tying it to a terror attack, and it looked bad for the moderator to correct him.  The other thing was not hammering O enough for acting like a candidate instead of a sitting president.  He did a lot of hammering but not enough.  

"ON RECORD"  10/17/12

Rush was all over Romney's comment about getting "on the record" Obama's claim that he called Libya 'terror' on 9/12.  On second thought it might have been crafty, assuming Romney will be allowed to effectively make the case with Schieffer (and assuming SEAL team thirty doesn't spring into action in a few days and bring some movie haters to justice).    

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hoping for the Comeback

The town hall debate is coming and AP provides a glimmer of hope for Obama with a historical roundup of the pitfalls. Here's an example:
Romney comes to the arena strengthened by his first debate. And the people-first format gives him a unique chance to overcome a persistent weakness: suspicion among some voters that he's too wealthy to relate to the middle class and the poor.

But if Romney fails to engage with his questioners, he could reinforce that impression. That's what happened to President George H.W. Bush in the first televised town hall debate, a low moment in a failed bid for re-election. That 1992 event at the University of Richmond stands unmatched as an example of the format's risks and rewards.
Bold to highlight AP reporter Connie Cass' personal opinions.  She goes on to highlight Bush 41's glance at his watch before a kneecap question about how the national debt affects rich people.  Later she mentions Bush 43 avoiding a demand to list three wrong decisions and how he fixed them.  She throws in Gore's aggressive body language in 2000 then recovers by reminiscing about how partisan late-night comics mocked McCain's age after the 2008 version.

So there you have the town hall scorecard according to her--3 GOP bombs and one personal space invasion by a Democrat.  She quoted first debate moderator Carole Simpson's gushing recollection about how Bill Clinton literally emoted himself right through the TV into viewers' homes in 1992.

So the table is set.  As she says, this debate is for the people (aside from the pre-selected questions picked by Candy Crowley) therefore the best BS'er usually wins--it's no surprise Bill Clinton was the originator of this format.  It only takes one well-placed trap question to turn the thing.

Besides, Romney can be a little wooden in his gait and he's super rich and probably doesn't know the current price of Slim Jims or Slurpees at 7/11. He can't feel a truck driver's pain and doesn't hug his trash collector, and if he tries to pretend otherwise he'll come across as fake.  Obama is also rich and almost surely out of touch but his narrative remains intact-- raised by a single mom in Hawaiian and Indonesian barrios;  humble background, massive student loans that he only paid off ten years ago, which caused him to drive a rusted beater, etc.

No, the landmines of privilege will only explode under the Republican. Romney's main hope is that Crowley chooses a few Tea Party questioners to buzz O about his spending, then again, she could also use those to ask Romney about his relationship with Trump and his comment about his birth cert.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Geronimo Time

Three weeks to go and here come the kill Osama stories, just in time for the foreign policy debate.  Several stories have made news recently, including one about a new book from Mark Bowden, famous for writing "Black Hawk Down".  The book details the hunt for bin Laden beginning at 9/11 and ending in Abbotabad (why he started with 9/11 is anyone's guess, but the curious may want to start with this then proceed to this).

It's getting the treatment by Vanity Fair, relaying the book's inside-baseball high level administration discussions that evidently led to the takedown mission.  By the way, as  reporters and bloggers sift through this Libya mess it's apparent the buck doesn't stop with the Decider Guy and sometimes not even his top level officials--it's those middle level officials that need to be voted out.

The excerpts support the gutsy call idea; it was on a 50/50 shot the "Pacer" was UBL yet Obama pressed ahead undaunted anyway.  Joe Biden comes off as Joe Doofus, the only one in the room who advised O not to go because failure might scuttle his re-election chances.  It appears Joe is playing his useful idiot role to a level that should get him an Oscar nomination.

But 50/50, remember that.  It was a "toss-up".   Which is funny, because if you read "No Easy Day" by the pseudonym SEAL Mark Owen he mentions a CIA analyst named "Jen" who was "100 percent sure" the Pacer was indeed bin Laden.  The new bin Laden movie "Zero Dark Thirty" even seems to make a hero out of "Jen" through the character Jessica Chastain.  Maybe it was better for the administration to have it released in December after all.   

Meanwhile World Net Daily is pushing a story by former general Paul Vallely who claims unnamed intelligence sources tell him Obama knew nothing of the raid on May 1 because he was on the golf course and didn't order it.  Panetta ordered it, and they actually had to pull him back to the White House to watch (which is why he appears to be ticked off and sitting in the corner).  For this to be true there had to be a mutiny of sorts in the administration, which is a little hard to believe.  Some conspiracy whackos actually think Obama waited until May 1--Mayday--to pull the trigger in order to make it a statement of the triumph of workers over religious fascism.  Others believe he wanted to wait for the Correspondent's Dinner so he could first put Trump in his place for the birth cert.    

Besides, a new picture released with Bowden's article acts to discredit the "Obama didn't know" notion, should anyone take a serious notion to believe WND.  Notice the shot of Obama in the Sit room in what appears to be a pre-mission meeting bylined May 1--the day of the attack--which had to have occurred before Obama hit the golf course because previous explanations take him from the course to the residence to the operational room, whence the event was ready to unfold--still wearing his golf shoes.  Hillary is wearing the same pants suit in both this new picture and the famous one. Also, the new Vanity Fair shot contains Leon Panetta, who was supposedly back at Langley during the event.

Let's just say that if Vallely's source is correct America has some serious, serious problems, but it seems the chance is less than 50/50.  By the way, is this his source?  Or this?  The latter's book contained a blizzard of inaccuracies about other events that discredits its narrative.     

So what about the raid, was it indeed a "kill mission"?  Bowden mentions a fantasy version where UBL gets captured leading to an article III court appearance in the US.  Seriously.  Even Eric Holder thought this was impossible.   Going back to Mark Owen's book he claims the stories about bin Laden being killed in the room going for the gun with the young wife trying to shield him were indeed stories; he detailed UBL being shot and mortally wounded as soon as his head popped out the hallway door at the first sign of the approaching SEAL team.   Bowden's book confirms this storyline as well.  By the way, that shifting narrative is one reason Vallely's source can't be fully discounted. 

Owen found it strange Binny never went for his weapons, which were in the room and not even loaded, while having perhaps 10-15 minutes to collect himself after hearing the crashed helo and gunfire downstairs.  He attributes this to the cowardice of some leaders, and he may be correct.  Then again, maybe he was expecting to be captured.  Maybe he was about to come out with his hands up, yelling for his court-appointed attorney.   Or as Bowden points out, maybe he figured it was a Pakistani force coming to officially remove him for some political reason.  Don't count on ever knowing for sure. 

And don't count on having anyone in the media ask the administration if this football spiking and all these films and books might rile up the Muslim street and its one billion Osamas.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Side Tracks



Silly stuff, but once a good pastime for a Saturday morning.

Never...

..say never.  As the ESPN baseball analyst said last night, "you gotta drive a stake in their hearts"!  This St. Louis Cardinal ballclub is amazing beyond anything I've seen in all the years spent watching the sport.  Another elimination game, another deficit, another two-strike, two out situation--twice--then come back to win, this time on the road.

The reaction is entertaining.  Some are saying that Nats' 19 year old rookie sensation Bryce Harper, who had a great game after being shut down in the previous four, grabbed his crotch and made a face towards Cards closer Jason Motte after striking out badly in the bottom of the ninth. Decide for yourself..



Looks like he did, but he's just a kid and was completely owned on that at-bat.  His frustration is understandable, even retired great Chipper Jones tweeted early about the coming Cards demise.  Hey, he was supposed to still be playing.  Instead, part of his memory rests in the not-so-quiet riot at Turner Field.  

This is hard for some to process.  Many fan message boards were lit up with excitement over the Nats' early stomping only to have the same fans go into a sudden depression after the turnaround.  Legend has it someone on a Cubs board actually wished the entire Cardinal team would be stricken in a plane crash only to have another 'fan' retort, "do you want Memphis to win it all, because they will" (Memphis being the farm team of St. Louis, who would have to be called up in such a scenario).  Then again, Cubs fans really don't understand playing baseball in October.

Oh well, since this is mostly a political blog we can't leave out David Axelrod's tweet from the game when the Nats were up 6-0.   I'll have to check Clint Eastwood's convention speech and see if he made any veiled references to the Cards after nailing the first two debates (empty chair and grin with a body behind it). 

Parents and coaches preach this to kids--never give up.   It applies not only to sports but life in general.  Yet as we get older most of us occasionally give up on things after seeing the ups and downs of life.  There was no reason to ever give up on this team at any point, even down 6-0 last night.  Experience, especially of a positive nature, does matter.  Once again they made post-season history by coming back from the largest elimination game deficit ever.  If they make the WS they'll once again get home field advantage after getting in on a new one-game playoff system thanks to commissioner Bud Selig and company (oddly, former Cards manager Tony LaRussa was part of the committee that changed things) .

Hard to say whether Mr. Selig is happy or sad about the new system; maybe sad because the Cards seemed to exploit it against all odds, but maybe happy because the other three teams are division winners--and most important of all, the Yankees are still in it.  Surely if MLB could engineer a Yankees vs Yankees WS, or in the least Yanks vs Red Sox, they would, but even Selig couldn't engineer that for all the money in Bill Gates' bank account.  

Whatever, I'm going to enjoy this seventh heaven this morning.   It's hard not to dream about a Yankees-Cards World Series with a deciding game seven at Busch Stadium and a thrilling last minute walk off HR by David Freese or someone, but that's getting way ahead of things.  The Giants are an excellent team.  Much like the Cards they are underrated on a national level and made history themselves by coming back from an 0-2 deficit against the Reds.  They won the WS in 2010.  So anything may happen.  The worm will eventually turn on the Cards just as it always does in sports but right now any extra baseball is a bonus--even if we get handed the same fate as Nats fans just suffered.  So play ball, still! And never say never!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pre-game Show

For the big contest today...  Cards vs Nats.

Just kidding.   This is about the other hardball

Obviously the media has hyped the hades out of the Biden-Ryan rumble in Kentuck, leaving America to believe the very election might depend on it, sorta like the Nat's season. 

So what might occur?  Surprises, most likely.  Biden is no spring chicken.  He's had his share of debates.  Ryan's only debates have been on the state level, but he's appeared on the national media stage many times.

But like the Washington Nationals against the World Champ Cardinals in the baseball playoffs, there's something to be said for experience.  Doesn't mean either the Cards or Biden will win, only that experience should not be dismissed.  The moderators also matter--think of the baseball games with an umpire crew consisting of lifelong Cardinal fans--or a debate moderator a lifelong liberal.

For me the question will be foreign policy.  Biden was trumped as Obama's FP expert yet as pointed out he's made more than his share of bad calls in this area over his career.   The obvious moment might come in relation to the state of al Qaeda.  Biden's seminal moment at the DNC convention was his quip about UBL being dead and GM alive; will the debate moderator or Ryan challenge that assertion based on the latest news on Libya (and today's attack on one of our diplomatic employees in Yemen)?

Will anyone point out that aside from Egypt being run by the Muslim Brotherhood and aside from Ayman Zawahiri and his brother Mohammed (present for the Cairo riots in support of releasing the Blind Sheikh) that the almost-vanquished AQ still has longtime operative Saif al Adel and "Jafar the Pilot", aka, Adnan Shukrajumah, on the lam?   What about Syria's alleged release of the "Red-headed Terrrorist", aka Abu Musab al-Suri?  Haven't heard of any of them?  Neither have probably 7/8ths of the debate audience, so nobody will go there.  But the point remains.     

Chances are Ryan will stay largely away.  He's a domestic guy.  His expertise is in budgets, not FP, and he's on record as saying he doesn't want to interject FP into the politics:
A good source tells me that Romney's chief advisor, Stu Stevens, has an almost fervently religious conviction against using any foreign policy issues in a campaign. But the Libya debacle isn't really about foreign policy. Its about competency and the public's trust in the Administration. The Obama Administration made virtually every wrong decision in the run-up to our Ambassador's murder. And then, they lied about the event and tried to cover up their mistakes. No Administration can survive when its lost the public's trust.
Biden would probably love to get Ryan into a FP debate and away from the economy.  Ryan will probably try to stay closer to the latter, perhaps discussing the idea of "losing the public's trust" by questioning the latest surprising numbers from the BLS, surely fodder for Biden's bluster.   Should be interesting.

RECAP  10/12/12

The NY Times calls it "spirited"..
It was Mr. Biden who sought to quiet the rising clamor among Democrats that the president was not assertive enough with Mr. Romney at their debate last week in Denver. A day after Mr. Obama conceded he was “too polite,” Mr. Biden showed no hesitation in hectoring, heckling and interrupting his challenger.
Within a single minute, Mr. Biden worked in three attacks on his rivals, referring to Mr. Romney’s opposition to the auto industry bailout, his statement that the foreclosure crisis would have to “run its course” and his comment about “47 percent” of Americans who he said were overreliant on government benefits.
Obviously, the Times is giddy. The WaPo also calls it spirited and says Biden was "repairing the damage". We don't need any blockquotes here. CNN actually had a poll that called it for Ryan. CBS's poll showed a blow-out win for Don't Mess with Joe. NBC, the Maddow-Matthews network, basically calls it a draw. ABC had a piece called "and the winner is", wherein they didn't say. Interestingly, most everyone in the media admits Biden lost points on the Libya debacle. In other words, a scandal-screw-up in the last days of the campaign, which would sink any GOP incumbent.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Up For the Job

The administration has finally come clean on what everyone already knew--the events of 9/11/11 were terrorist attacks and there were no spontaneous riots in Benghazi triggered by a movie clip.  They haven't gone so far as saying the initial event in Cairo was almost surely about releasing Sheikh Abdel-Rahman, but that's a bridge too far.   The last thing they need with three weeks left before the election is to cut open that shark and have the 90s spill out all over the dock.  Bin Laden is dead, after all. 

I don't care too much for the 20/20 hindsight thing with terror attacks.  The left did it with Bush and it's not productive.  Nobody wants attacks and murdered ambassadors, not Bush, not Obama, not the Clintons.  Some State Department woman was being grilled today by Rep Issa about security personnel in Benghazi--yeah, we obviously didn't have enough.  Decisions are made and sometimes they aren't correct.  AQ is still the culprit here, just as they were on 9/11/01.  They have once again proven themselves to be a relentless and dangerous enemy not bound by silly campaign season sloganeering. 

That said, the problem with Benghazi is the cover-up.  It's always the cover-up.  As Maguire says (after coming out of the Cheney bunker) the admin tries to 'win every news cycle'.  To do that requires a high dose of artful deception (what we call lying here in flyover country), which was used heartily in this event with the goal of pushing the sunshiny truth out past the finish line in November.  Things will become more flexible then, or so we are told   They are doing the same with Fast and Furious (add the death of Border Agent Ivie) and the parties who leaked national security secrets.  Remember?

All of which explains why Obama and company have been floating conspiracy theories about themselves on the debate flop while giving speeches about Big Bird--anything to change the conversation.   And why not?   The media has let them get away with it for over three years.  No longer, perhaps.

But maybe it's more than just the cover-up.  Here's a story about Obama using much of his two-day debate prep time in Vegas to sight-see and watch football.  It was one of the stories designed to explain why he sucked in Denver but considering the fact he's already admitted to being lazy; and based on the evolving story coming out about Libya, all of this smacks of uninvolved leadership.  Perhaps it's not too far out of line to ask whether this government job he's been holding down has become too demanding.   Like it or not America is still the only world super power, which demands high quality leadership and resolve. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Aviation Update

It's nice to see that American Airlines has given up blaming its loose passenger seats on spilled cola and has returned to blaming their maintenance, soon to be about 450 people lighter. Geez, what a clusterfark.

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This story is rather sensational:
A Boston man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport wearing body armor and carrying a significant cache of weapons.
It goes on to describe the weapons, mainly a smoke grenade, an axe and some knives "in his luggage". But it doesn't say 'carry on' luggage. So in essence this man boarded a plane in Japan with all of the above in his checked luggage, in the cargo hold, unreachable during flight.  He was arrested in Los Angeles on the way for having what the Japanese allowed (unless they missed it).

So OK, maybe he was nuts or about to go there.  Or maybe he was wearing body armor and flame-retardant pants because he was afraid some crazy Muslim might try to take over the plane and wanted to be ready.  Is it illegal to wear those items as in-flight attire?

MORE  10/9/12

The LA Times is reporting that the prohibited items were actually in the man's 'carry on' luggage.  A bio-suit, body bags, respirator, smoke grenade and assorted knives?  That's some neat packing based on the one bag restrictions they have on many airlines now.  Maybe that's how he got it through Japanese security.   Or maybe it was this!

MORE  10/10/12

Not to belabor this story, which sounds like a less-than-brilliant 20-something who is either paranoid or was planning one helluva Halloween party, but this NBC story says the items were indeed in his 'checked' luggage.  It's sad when our intrepid media can't get a small but very important fact such as this correct. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Egyptian Connection

The recent speculation about the Blind Shake brings back some of the events that occurred in the mid 90s after his trial, such as this:
Investigators are reviewing an anonymous threat received after the October 1, 1995 conviction of radical sheik Omar Abdel Rahman .... the threat was that a New York airport or jetliner would be attacked in retaliation ........
Not only that, but this:
The sources said the missiles arrived in America seven months ago after being shipped from Karachi via Rotterdam and on to the Canadian port of Halifax. They claimed an Egyptian fundamentalist group backed by Iran was responsible for smuggling the weapons across the Canadian border into the United States. The group, the Gama'a al-Islamiya, comprises followers of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric jailed in the United States over the 1993 New York World Trade Center bombing.
A senior White House official responsible for counter-terrorism told The Sunday Times this weekend that he had seen a report that a Stinger missile had been smuggled into the United States from Pakistan. The official, who is involved in collating intelligence relating to the TWA inquiry for the White House, said investigators were aware of reports that Stingers may have been smuggled into the country.... If a Stinger was the cause of this, our first theory would be that it came from Afghanistan." The official was commenting on reports from Tehran that claimed several groups funded by the religious authorities in Iran are active in the United States. The reports claim one previously unknown underground group called Falakh may have as many as 50 highly trained terrorists in the country.
It's amazing how many threats or rumors of threats during the halcyon days of the 90s were directly related to Abdel-Rahman.  During the time everyone was focused on Monicagate and if terrorism was ever brought up it was mainly in relation to 'wagging the dog', even after our embassies were attacked in 1998.  It was only 9/11 that shook the foundation, but by then all attention had shifted to bin Laden. 

It's easy to blame the Clinton folks for downplaying Rahman and his Egyptian wing while pounding the drum about bin Laden and Saddam--the GOP didn't have a very good track record either.  While they were trying to string up Slick for lying about sex everyone was overlooking the looming threats. And they were real.

Even today most don't seem to understand how the two terror groups merged into one al Qaeda.  Ramzi Yousef, KSM and their cohorts were more loyal to the Blind Sheikh than UBL, which makes sense because US prosecutors didn't even indict UBL for the 1993 WTC attack.  Ayman Zawahiri was more connected to the former through his leadership of Egyptian Islamic Jihad back when they played ball with the Sheikh's Jamaat al-Islamiyya.

Anyway, here we are 15+ years later after 3000 dead on 9/11 and thousands more dead in later attacks and on the battlefield, now hearing rumors about transferring the sickly old Rahman back to Egypt--yes, the very same guy mentioned in almost every jihadist fatwa in the 90s and used as a rationale for murder.  Yet many have no clue about the Blind Shiekh's role in the history of terrorism in America.

Why?  Maybe because telling the full story could implicate the Clintons/Democrats.  Yet this story should not be partisan--one could ask why the Bush 41 folks ever allowed Abdel-Rahman a visa in the first place.  It is what it is.  Enemies of your enemies sometimes become your enemies after your enemy is defeated.        

It's clear Egypt was always closer to center of the jihad than given media credit, partially explained by the peace deal with Israel (the Sunni assassin of Anwar Sadat had a street named him in Tehran, and his brother was working closely with bin Laden) and our subsequent support for Mubarak.  The lead hijacker on 9/11 was an Egyptian, as is Ayman Zawahiri, the current leader of AQ.   Ayman's brother, an extremist captured in Yemen and jailed by Mubarak who was recently pardoned and released by the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government, was on scene of the recent jihad flag-raising at our Cairo embassy.

Matter of fact, the entire riot-attacks on 9/11 were likely started as a message to free the Blind Sheikh with the spontaneous response to a You Tube movie clip as cover.  Is that perhaps why American diplomats in Cairo reacted by tweeting our apologies about the movie clip, to distract from the real issue?

All of this, including our position in Afghanistan, leaves some fairly disparate dots to connect when trying to understand current U.S. foreign policy vis a vis the GWoT, aside from playing whack-a-mole with drones.  Bottom line--it's less clear than it ever was, but one can certainly whiff a level of capitulation strategy in some of our latest moves.  Are we that desperate? 

The third presidential debate will deal with foreign policy.  We'll see how Romney wants to deal with any of this.  We already know how Obama will frame it

ROMNEY WEIGHS IN  10/8/12

His speech on Islamic radicalism was very well delivered and contained a clear vision--peace through strength (where have we seen that before).  One thing the naysayers might point out is that Romney, like Bush 43, has a vision that Islam and democracy can exist in the same government, which seems shaky.   But isn't it really the only hope for humanity in a world full of dangerous weapons?   

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sunday


A few things not related to politics..

Did you know they are on the verge of officially naming a new cloud?  Stories say it was 'discovered' but these clouds aren't a recent production of mother nature just an oversight in the classifications.  I've seen a few in my time, usually in the transition seasons.  Here's a view of some..


Very strange, almost like some kind of Picasso or Van Gogh painting.

Turning to sports, it's the time of year where everything is in swing: baseball, hockey (sorry), football, basketball and even some leftover golf.   Too bad Chipper Jones had to go out to a shower of trash that would make Philly fans envious.  The infield fly call was technically correct but totally unnecessary at the time and possibly affected the outcome of the game, not just for the Braves but the Cards fielder might have been distracted by the ump's verbal call causing him to peel away.  MLB's attempt to heighten excitement and give the division-winning teams a reward for having a better record seems to have backfired for the traditional Wild Card winning teams, both of whom lost in the one-game playoffs.   It's almost as if they need to be spotted an extra run along with home field, but of course MLB would never go there.   


Finally, nothing related to anything and yes this is a commercial, but it made me laugh out loud..



The part where this straight arrow guy air drums a stick flip is simply hilarious. 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Side Tracks



Hoochie Coochie Man was written by Willie Dixon and made famous by Muddy Waters in the 50s.  The Allmans covered it on the Idlewild South album using the late bassist Berry Oakley on vocals. 

Friendly Fire

After relegating the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal to a secondary story until an IG report seemed to exonerate president Obama the mainstream press is now locking arms to report today about the death of Border Patrol agent Nicholas Ivie as being caused by 'friendly fire'.

Tragically, it may turn out that way.   But the stories are attributing this finding to a 'preliminary report' from an FBI investigation.  Preliminary means not final.  NBC's Pete Williams included this blurb at the end of his report:
State and federal officials said immediately after the incident that the shootings were committed by armed criminals. And since then, Mexican authorities have said they arrested two men in Agua Prieta, northern Sonora state, a few miles from where the shooting occurred.
Those were preliminary reports as well, but they certainly suggest more than just friendly fire.

If one were a cynic one might say that the press is falling all over itself to report this possible finding because it removes the notion that a F&F gun might have killed another agent (one they hardly reported about when it occurred) so close to the election and right after an IG report cleared the held-in-contempt Attorney General.

MORE  10/7/12

The BP Union is now saying that agent Ivie was the one who opened fire on his two fellow agents, which caused them to return fire, killing him.   

According to the explanation it was "dark" and scrub brush was in the way--no doubt both true.  But was it any darker than normal?  According to the moon phases it was between a full moon and half moon.   So assuming it wasn't cloudy there was some natural light available.  During the wee hours of October 2 the weather near Bisbee, AZ appears to have been clear.  Perhaps the brush was a bigger factor than light.   

Early reports suggested the officers, stationed at the Brian Terry BP station, were responding to motion sensors tripped along a known smuggling trail used by Sinaloa Cartel members. Suspects were rounded up. The LA Times reported on Oct 5 that two weapons had been found in the general vicinity, a Bushmaster 223 on Wednesday the 3rd and a Titan handgun on the 2nd, but had not been traced directly to the shootings.  The SFGate paper had reported on Oct 3 that no guns had been found:
A federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that no weapons have been found. The official requested anonymity because information on the search hasn't been publicly released.
That was the day after the Times claimed they had found a weapon.  Very few recent stories mention the weapons, which admittedly may not have been associated with the event. The Mexican suspects?  They may still be in custody, hard to say.   Meanwhile there has been little explanation of why the motion sensors were tripped; whether the agents were in radio contact with each other; whether they were wearing night vision goggles; whether the ballistic reports conclusively prove the bullets that killed Agent Ivie came from a BP weapon.  And most of all, what caused agent Ivie--who can no longer speak for himself--to open fire.  As with Libya the FBI is still investigating.

Predictably this story has had political implications from day one.  Republicans were quick to jump to conclusions while reporters in the same news media that largely downplayed Fast and Furious were busy pointing out the rank politics.  Like terrorism, it shouldn't be that way.  But here we are.
 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Altitude Sickness


The same guy who lost all credibility on Conan O'Brien's show a few years ago is now saying O's debate performance was altered by Denver's mile-high altitude.  It's amazing they'd let such a moron opine about anything on national TV, especially anything remotely tied to the sciences.  But notice--neither he nor the bobble headed peanut gallery were denying the obvious--that Mitt spanked the president badly.   If you're left with 'altitude sickness' as an excuse it had to be an awful performance.

So what about that bad performance?   I tweeted earlier about whether "O threw the fight last night?"  That wasn't to say he intentionally lost, just that he pursued a cautious strategy due to the horrid state of the economy because, well, it's horrid and he's president.

Mitt did a great job.  He probably shocked Team O with his crispness and lucid handle on the issues and deft use of the rhetorical scalpel.   It's doubtful they were expecting him to be that good.  But Obama knew going in he couldn't defend his promises.  He didn't cut the deficit in half.  He said he'd be a "one-term proposition" if the economy didn't come back.  Solyndra was a failure.  Unemployment went above and stayed above 8 percent despite promises that the Stimulus would keep it down.  Cash-for-Clunkers didn't work.  Growth is under 2 percent, we lost our top credit rating and we're 5 or 6 trillion more in debt than when he started.   Easy to spin those facts in front of a partisan crowd or on a commercial; hard to do it with someone standing 10 feet away refuting them.  

Just imagine how Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain or even Bachmann would have taken him apart on this.  Easy pickins.

So my guess is he laid back a little and decided not to get too confrontational defending the indefensible.  Obama isn't that bad in debates.  He likely wanted to get through and get back to the prompter today.

Assuming that's correct here's a possible play.  Two more debates are coming, along with one for the Veeps.  The next one is a town hall format on both foreign and domestic policy.  Obama loves town halls and crowd reaction will probably be allowed.   That's the better venue to mention the 47 percent, with crowd reaction.  Had he used it last night with the dead audience it would have opened the door for Romney to cherry pick some things from the Hampton speech or even talk about the Khalidi tape.

Round three is foreign policy moderated by Schieffer.  By that time it's highly possible the military will be engaged in eastern Libya hunting down AQ terrorists.  And of course UBL is still dead.  So they might figure they've got that one as well.  That could theoretically send O on an upward trajectory going into the final week with most of the debate discussion about his domestic problems long out of the way.   And we all know the media does love them some Democratic comeback.

Not to say it'll work--Mitt might have his own cards up the sleeve, but these folks are forever strategizing and playing games.  They all think they're smarter than any Republican ever born.   So we'll see. 

MORE  10/4/12



Indefensible.  Romney said the deficits were 'immoral'.  Obama did not disagree.    

BETTER OFF?  10/5/12

Pundits have scoured the debate with a fine-tooth comb looking for takeaways and zingers; the main takeaway has been O's surprisingly poor performance. 

But considering the state of the economy, did Mitt come away with a "are you better off" moment to really crystalize the situation for indie voters and make them want an alternative?   Maybe, but it's not clear.  By Obama rope-a-doping some of his replies and refusing to counter-challenge Romney on various economic points the story has become his 'poor debate performance', not 'wow, things really could be better'.  Obama suddenly healed from altitude sickness and was out talking about 'lies' in Romney's plan, which is also a trend on the internet. 

Mitt's goal in the town hall debate has to be convincing people there and watching on TV that they are not better off, America is not better off, and we have to change horses.  He needs some kind of 'moment' to drive that home. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Debate

Obama just looked out and said "yo, homies, I'm gonna lay em down and smack em yak em".  No just kidding.    He started off by blaming Bush.

Romney was gracious.  He looks fresh and of course, presidential (he's always looked like he was built in a presidential candidate factory).

So far, so boring.  Which actually might favor Obama.

--

Mitt is now looking directly at O with his reply.  He's getting happy with his hands and a bit defensive.  He just used a Democratic talking point by equating taxes with the revenue/deficit, saying he won't cut taxes and affect revenues.  This goes against the Laffer curve theory.

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Policy wonk theater.   No zingers.   O using the same boilerplate.  Now he's attacking Bush again, blaming him for the 'great recession', which is absurd.  Obama has as much culpability in causing it as Bush.

--

Romney just said he would fire Big Bird and Lehrer.   LOL.    Now Obama is bashing Bush again.


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"Aircrafts"?   This was said in context of Obama saying he has cut the federal government.    Now he's filibustering, talking about Romney wanting to cut old ladies in nursing homes, etc.

Wait, now they are actually in a back and forth!   Romney is defending himself well, and turning around the arrow towards O, putting him on defense.  Obama should not be able to win a debate with an actual businessman, despite his use of "corporate jets" and such.

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First ZINGER!   Mitt hits with Solyndra in reply to the nonsense about corporate welfare to the oil companies.  "So much for picking winners and losers, you picked all losers".

--

Now Obama is explaining how the great recession occurred and his factors don't all point to Bush.   He needs to keep that straight.    Romney had a great reply about regulations because the conventional wisdom is that Republicans don't want any regulation at all.  Obama is trying to use that canard right now. 

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Awesome.  Romney is now clarifying that lowering red-lines in mortgage lending helped to cause the great recession (which Obama advocated for).   And Lehrer is now once again hectoring Romney to stop talking.  

--

Obama is blaming Bush.
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O now goes for the throat--"Romneycare"!    Mitt's reply is to point out how his plan was passed by both D's and R's while Obama slammed through the federal bill without any R support.   He's attacking the "you can keep your doctor" line from O, which is about the best he could do I guess.  Now O is sinking the Mittcare ship by pointing out it was a GOP plan in the beginning.   Did anyone really think Romney was going to be able to sidestep this attack?   All he has is that goofy grin.

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Hey, Obama got it right--"Transcontinental Railroad".  That's his model for collectivism, which is funny because it was the government giving land grants to two railroads to connect the coasts, which later caused a scandal, and which also caused both to build a hasty and shoddy line to receive the land grants before the other got them.

Romney initial answer on role of government was better framed.

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Obama hasn't said "dolla" once yet.

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Romney got another Solyndra jab in without Obama being allowed to respond (other than shaking his head).

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Interesting tact by Mittens--he's making a HUGE play for the middle.  HUGE play.   That's a smart move.

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As to closing statements..  Obama's was almost bizarrely weak.  Mitt gave a solid stock campaign closing speech, hitting on all the downpoints of the last 4 years.