Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chattanooga or Damascus?

The Commander-in-Chief visited the Volunteer State today to give a speech in Chattanooga, in which he spent a lot of time condemning his enemies.

Not his foreign enemies, the Republicans.

But not all Republicans, just those who oppose him.

Meanwhile, how many high-profile speeches has he given about WMD use in Syria, which triggered our involvement in a civil war through the supply of lethal arms?  How many prime time--or even non prime time--press conferences has he done on the subject?  How many addresses to the nation from the Oval Office, or even the hallway?  After all, AQ is involved over there along with other terrorist groups, along with Russia.  Anything?  Not recalling anything.

Curiously though Obama is not the only one playing this down, his enablers in the Senate are helping with the stealth:
There was no public debate and no public vote when one of the most contentious topics in American foreign policy was decided – outside of the view of constituents, who oppose the president’s plan to aid the rebels by 54 percent to 37 percent, according to a Gallup Poll last month.
In fact, ask individual members of the committee, who represent 117 million people in 14 states, how they stood on the plan to use the CIA to funnel weapons to the rebels and they are likely to respond with the current equivalent of “none of your business:” It’s classified.
The silence is amazing when one considers how much time and energy Bush's detractors put into bashing his foreign policy despite him going to Congress to authorize both wars with full votes.  Just remember, the world was supposed to breath a sigh of relief after he left, such was the level of damage he supposedly did and the level of importance of foreign policy at one point a few years ago.   These days everything else has become more important.   An amazing feat, really.  

By the way, while in Chattanooga today Obama used an interesting phrasing in discussing the threat of his enemies perhaps trying to shut down the government. He said the following:
The bad news is that rather than keep our focus on what should be our priority -- which is growing our economy and creating good middle-class jobs -- we’ve seen a certain faction of Republicans in Congress hurt a fragile recovery by saying that they wouldn’t pay the very bills that Congress racked up in the first place, threatening to shut down the people’s government if they can’t get rid of Obamacare.
Have past presidents used that bolded term before? Sounds a little Chinese-y.  Besides, some of  those 'people' elected people called Republicans who work in the very government he leads.  That is unless he means something else by 'the people's government'.  Surely Media Matters will be along to tell us that Reagan used it all the time.  Even if he did, it would certainly have come off with a different feel.  Anyway, if he could only defeat that one true enemy he never gets tired of talking about he'd basically have nothing left to talk about, since he doesn't want to discuss world troubles anymore.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Green Mystery

A woman was arrested today for allegedly splashing green paint on the National Cathedral in Washington DC, specifically a pipe organ in the "Bethlehem Chapel" area of the cathedral.

The bigger question is whether she's connected to other recent green paint defacings at the Lincoln Memorial or on a statue outside the Smithsonian Institution, and possibly an event at a statue of Martin Luther in northwest Washington's Thomas Circle.

Initially police would not release her identity.  In early reportage the AP mentioned a problem: (emphasis added):
The woman was arrested in the area of the cathedral shortly after the paint was found, Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said. Investigators were hoping to question her about the vandalism on the Mall, including at the Lincoln Memorial, but a language barrier delayed the interrogation, Newsham said.
A name was finally released, perhaps explaining the language barrier:
D.C. police said Monday evening that they had charged Tian Jiamel, 58, whom they believe to be homeless, with one count of defacing property.
It's strange to think that a homeless Asian woman, who can't speak English very well, would be traipsing all over the city slashing green paint on national monuments and statues.  Stranger things have surely happened but there may also other possibilities, such as her not really being homeless; acting as a patsy for others; or having accomplices.  Nothing has been permanently ruined so obviously it was about symbolism, assuming this wasn't the actions of someone who simply flipped their wig. 

If symbolism was involved there has to be a motive, including whether the color green was used to signify something and/or whether the targets were chosen randomly or had significance.  Since there were perhaps two Christian religious targets it's tempting to find some meaning there but for now it's better to wait and see where this goes.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pivoting in Circles

Somehow the New York Times got a sit-down interview with the president following his economic pivot speech from the cornfield last week.  Different media outlets have been picking up on bits and pieces of it for other stories but this seems like the seminal passage:
NYT: People questioned your legal and constitutional authority to do that unilaterally -- to delay the employer mandate. Did you consult with your lawyer?
MR. OBAMA: Jackie, if you heard me on stage today, what I said was that I will seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security --
NYT: No, but specifically –
MR. OBAMA: -- but where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people. And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case.
But there’s not an action that I take that you don't have some folks in Congress who say that I'm usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don't think that's a secret.
But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions -- very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers. I am concerned about the folks who I spoke to today who are working really hard, are trying to figure out how they can send their kids to college, are trying to make sure that they can save for their retirement. And if I can take steps on their behalf, then I’m going to do so. And I would hope that more and more of Congress will say, you know what, since that’s our primary focus, we’re willing to work with you to advance those ideals. But I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days.
Forget that the Times reporters didn't ask any questions on the 'phony scandals', like for instance which ones are phony--the interview was likely set up to springboard his economic pivot OFF those scandals anyway (as Limbaugh and others have noted, it's mainly a tactic to divert attention and set himself up for the coming budget battles).  No, the bolded passage above is what makes news because it again captures the true essence of this president.  He was called on something and that's how he reacted.  Not since Nixon have we had such a man in the Oval Office.

The same man was all over GW Bush for his every action, proclaiming this and such wasn't constitutional or that and such was dumb, etc.  How dare Dumbya's new Tea Baggin friends question anything!  And how dare even the Times to ask whether the greatest lawyer ever needed to consult a lesser mere mortal lawyer on a question.  Too bad those college transcripts never got leaked like everything else. 

But the most honest answer of the interview? It came at the very last:
NYT: Thank you, Mr. President.
MR. OBAMA: Thanks, guys. Appreciate you.
Of course he appreciates them--they remain part of the team.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Side Tracks




Coup, not a Coup

We've seen some stories recently about the usefulness/uselessness of the White House press briefing.  Based on the content that comes from of it and the lapdog reporters asking the so-called questions it's definitely a waste of time most days.  Probably necessary, but a waste nonetheless.

But the State Department daily briefing is an entirely different beast.   This....



..is what a press briefing is supposed to look like. 

As to content of Friday's version, it certainly appears that the administration wants it both ways on Egypt.  While it's obvious as to why--there's a real national security interest at stake--the perception of going around a law only adds to the whole 'phony scandal' atmosphere they have helped to create, ie, real scandals based on the root notion they don't need to follow the laws of this nation. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Uh, CBS (and others), Got Some Science News for You....

Here's a breathless headline on CBS.com this afternoon...

Melting ice forms lake in the North Pole

The obvious implication:  oh noes, Santa and the Elves have drowned thanks to that evil heat Mizer guy!   And global warming, of course.   Chris Hayes on his MSNBC show tonight added some hysteria and the internets are full of liberal joy over the confirmation about their doomsday projections, which signals the coming world socialism solution.    

One problem--it's happened beforeMany times.  And it's been reported on before, many times.








Only a few examples. Now, which party is anti-science again? 


If challenged, and that's a big if, CBS will defend itself by saying they never blamed it on anything.  They merely reported that the meltwater was there and that temperatures had been above normal. That's true.  Nobody will be blaming the Arctic Oscillation and its negative phase, which likely caused the cooler than normal Spring and so far the near-normal summer over parts of middle America.   But that doesn't make a good sound bite.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Investigation Update

While people follow the shiny object news stories of the moment several "phony scandals" are still out there without resolution.

1.  IRS-gate.  News from the past week suggests a connection to a White House-appointed lawyer at IRS; the media has done a collective yawn after getting the scoop from potentially compromised members of the administration.   

What about the FBI investigation into the event?  A month after the case broke open, or three weeks ago, it was reported that no FBI contacts had been made with the affected parties.  Shortly thereafter the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, appeared to be addled at the mere question of such an investigation.  Now, who knows?  But don't worry, when liberal hero James Comey arrives as Director he will get to the bottom of everything.  And Obama is still reported to be outraged.  

2.  AP-gate.  Recall the seizure of phone logs from 40 AP lines out of the Capitol was in support of a US Attorney-led investigation into who leaked to them about a "double-agent" operating for the UK-Saudi Arabia in Yemen, infiltrating AQAP.  It's been well over a year now--is the FBI ready to indict anyone yet?  The other case referred by Holder at the same time (to another US Attorney regards Iran and Stuxnet) has produced a suspect leaker--General Cartwright, and presumably without any snoop shenanigans (that we know of).  Surely Obama is outraged. 

3.  Rosen-gate.  A question remains--was Fox News ever told that Rosen's emails and phones were being tapped?   And just exactly what is the accountability over a federal judge allowing information that was supposed to be public from being made public (conveniently past the 2012 election)?   Good grief, the NTSB intern and the TV producers were fired over the Wi Tu Lo scandal.  By the way, is Obama outraged about Rosen?  Has he ever been asked?

4.  Benghazi.  Several reporters other than the same Fox News guy actually asked the State Department spokeslady yesterday about whether the five Diplomatic Security agents involved in the attack would be testifying, as requested by Issa's committee.  She claimed that nobody is stopping them, but that State is trying to protect their identities.  She was mum on the recent activities of congressman Wolf.   

Oh, and when asked by a reporter how the investigation by the FBI into the culprits is coming along she referred them to the FBI.  In other words, no comment.  Again, Obama must be outraged that we haven't brought anyone to justice yet.  Of course, most have completely forgotten Algeria but the US Government has quietly, over the past week, charged a AQ zombie leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, with the 'crime'.  Guess we're going to have a couple of FBI guys in suits serve a warrant and bring him to Manhattan for trial or something.

MORE  7/25/13

If you want some bizarre fun (assuming you are a political junkie) watch today's State Dept daily briefing and deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.   Hard core junkies might recognize the name--it was dropped during the biu Laden afterglow with the Zero Dark Thirty crew as well as a delicious little story about CIA coordination with the New York Times on what was fit to print:
Mazzetti's correspondence with CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf, on Aug. 5, 2011, pertained to the Kathryn Bigelow-Mark Boal film "Zero Dark Thirty," about the killing of Osama bin Laden, and a Times op-ed column by Dowd set to be published two days later that criticized the White House for having "outsourced the job of manning up the president’s image to Hollywood."
Harf left CIA to join Obama's reelection campaign "Obama for America" (which has morphed itself into "Organizing for America" with a fresh 501c.4 designation from IRS without delay!) and has been rewarded with a position as deputy State spokeswoman.  In today's briefing she might have set a record for saying "I have nothing for you on that", including a very terse rendition of it when asked by the Fox News reporter why Hillary2016! never went to visit the wounded Department of State security personnel in the hospital.

Maybe this interview explains why. She's speaking at Yale University and giving her thoughts about partisan politics and national security:
Harf said one of the key moments in her career that revealed the intersection of politics and national security was the response to the Benghazi attack. She said she was furious when Mitt Romney’s campaign released a statement accusing Obama of sympathizing with the perpetrators of the 2012 Benghazi attack. “There are national security issues that go above politics, and you don’t get to say whatever you want just because you’re running a presidential campaign,” Harf said.
Hmm, so was she involved at all in the Benghazi talking points confab perhaps?   She seems to have been a top level advisor on national security issues and was outraged over Romney correctly calling out the US Embassy in Cairo for tweeting blame for a riot at our facility on the Mohamed video trailer, which was later used to explain away a terrorist attack in Benghazi that she now doesn't want to comment about.  

Another Rail Joint?

The derailment of the French commuter train outside Paris a few weeks ago was blamed on the exact same thing blamed for the Metro-North derailment in Connecticut back in May..
A rail joint that worked loose from a track switching point appears to have caused France’s worst train accident in years, said Pierre Izard, an official with the national rail company, SNCF, on Saturday...
Railway investigators discovered that a metal clip joining two rails as part of the switch, which guides trains from one track to another, had worked loose and disconnected from its normal position, said Mr. Izard, the SNCF’s director for infrastructure. “It broke away, became detached and came out of its housing,” he said at a news conference at the scene. “It moved into the center of the switch, and in this position it prevented the normal passage of the train’s wheels and seems to have caused the derailment.”
The story quotes the French Minister of Transport as saying the blame was 'mechanical, not human'.  Now we have the Spanish rail disaster.  Already the Spanish are saying they are operating under the "assumption" it was an accident without the slightest bit of investigation having taken place yet.  And here is how the New York Times reported it:
A high-speed passenger train that was reportedly traveling at more than double the speed limit derailed just outside a station in northwest Spain on Wednesday evening, killing at least 60 of those on board, according to local news reports.
That was the very first sentence in their story--it appears they've found the probable cause already.  Now, speed may end up being the cause when all is said and done.  Did the engineer survive?  The Times claims they used unidentified sources that leaked to a Spanish website (real hard-hitting journalism there).

But even if speed was the cause it doesn't explain the event, such as why the hell any engineer be going that fast on a territory he/she should know like the back of their hand, and in good weather?

One thing's for sure.  The Times lede indicates a trend as to how the press tends to handle disasters of this nature anymore. Innocent assumptions are made when the news media attention is greatest, then the press is locked out of comment while investigations crawl along for years, and people tend to forget.  For those who have forgotten this is the THIRD passenger railroad crash since May in a western country, and it might have been four had the plot to crash a passenger train in Canada have succeeded--all in the shadow of intelligence captured in bin Laden's lair that urged AQ to go after railroads:
Starting in February 2010, Al Qaeda reportedly discussed tampering with train tracks at a valley or a bridge. Counterterrorism officials say they believe the derailment plot was only in the initial planning stages, and there is no recent intelligence to suggest any active plan.
We even have an unexplained oil train disaster in Canada with loose ends still remaining. And this Spanish crash occurred in a city with Christian religious symbolism during a religious event.  At what point does anything become a trend?

VIDEO EVIDENCE  7/25/13

The video getting saturation coverage all over the web that shows the train literally flying off the tracks seems to support the Times' overspeed story.  It's hard to tell whether anything was out of sorts on the rails along the curve in the distance but it certainly appears the train was going so fast that it might have derailed no matter what.   That's probably the 'assumption' the Spanish authorities were working under.   

That begs an even bigger question--why?   Why would any experienced and rational engineer be taking curves at double the track speed, especially if he were familiar with the territory?   Were guys on his circuit trying to outdo each other on their engineer prowess?   Sounds pretty crazy, simply for the fact that the trains are monitored by dispatchers, management, and computers while being observed by track workers, etc.  Somebody would had to have been looking the other way to allow such shenanigans keep happening.  It would be helpful to know what the average speed is on that curve for similar trains. 

Reports are saying some kind of overspeed failsafe device wasn't working.  If it was deliberately disabled it wouldn't be the first time such a mechanical safety device was taken out of service to make things easier, etc, such as 'dead man's pedals'.   The line in question is relatively new, built within the last two years, so maybe it was experiencing glitches.  This also brings up the question as to how familiar the engineer was with the territory.  And what's the track speed on straightaways for that route? 

One thing of note--the availability of video.   If there was video of every crash it would make the investigator's job so much easier.   For instance, if there was video of TWA 800 crashing it would have perhaps changed the history of the investigation.

[more..]

The posted speed on the straightaways on the line was indeed over 100 mph.  It would definitely be called a "high speed train" in America.   So the question remains as to why an engineer would knowingly take the curve without decelerating.  Lots of factors involved there.   

As to video, take a look at this video from inside the Southwest jet whose nose gear collapsed on landing at La Guardia this past week.   Certainly seems like it dropped and pitched down at the last second, which probably allowed the NTSB to announce that the gear collapsed because it was first to touch down.   That brings up a variety of possible explanations while taking away the ability to spin the event or create a conspiracy theory.   Unfortunately it may also remind people that human beings operate large transportation machinery and sometimes they make mistakes.  


THE COLOR YELLOW  7/26/13

Instapundit links to the Barcepundit regards the Times and other media outlets jumping all over the driver's (what we know as an engineer) supposed need for speed based on a few unearthed Facebook posts showing a speedometer from a train to apparently explain the accident.  That was a part of the immediate rush to judgment I was referring to in this post.   It's as if they couldn't wait to blame "driver error" so they could move quickly away from any other inconvenient explanations, even before an official investigation--or any investigation.   Funny, the Times has no penchant to rush to any judgment on the various 'phony scandals' plaguing the Obama administration right now, even the ones that include their personnel.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Subtle Bias

This isn't the worst thing in the world, but I think it's part of the insidious bias the mainstream news projects on a near-daily basis.  Check out the explanation of this story on CBS.com about Walmart coming into DC:.


There's nothing factually incorrect in it.  The bias is not putting "living wage" in quotes or capitalizing it as a thing, as opposed to something else.  Some people may read that as Walmart not wanting people to live, etc.    

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sharyl Attkisson Update

According to the Politico she's staying at CBS News--for now.   No word on whether they've determined who tapped into her computers (both home and work) but from the tone of her work--and columns like this..
The flipside of "Opening the Floodgates": When things look so bad that there's nothing you can do to coat it with sugar, and you don't want to talk to the reporter, just ignore his calls and requests. Taking lumps for not providing any information is better than telling the truth or even trying to spin it. Elected officials, public servants and government agencies increasingly employ this tactic.
..it could literally be anyone.  But it sounds like you know who.

As to her leaving CBS for Fox News, personally I hope not. Going to Fox would get her more airtime but it might also allow her targets to trash her as a Faux News hack and diminish the reporting. She's more effective working inside the machine.  CBS has trended more towards the 'fair' side in their reporting in the past few years, so maybe she's having an impact.

INVESTIGATION UPDATE  7/21/13

While there is no news on Attkisson's snoop case there is news on the overall Obama investigation into leakers.  The New York Times, themselves a target of the new hardline approach to press freedom coming from Washington, explains this morning that this crackdown is basically Fox News' fault:
According to Mr. Blair, the effort got under way after Fox News reported in June 2009 that American intelligence had gleaned word from within North Korea of plans for an imminent nuclear test — a disclosure that eventually led to the indictment of Mr. Kim. The report infuriated the Central Intelligence Agency not only because it indicated that the United States was privy to the private discussions of North Korean leaders, but also because it was broadcast mere hours after a classified report with that information had been distributed to intelligence officials.
Blair is quoted in the story earlier of wanting to make an example out of somebody, like maybe an Admiral.

Of course there's some high hilarity in seeing the Times back-door cracking on Fox for leaking national security secrets after their Bush-era track record (including Pulitzers for several of their journalists and, well, Judy Miller) but then again, Fox excoriated the Times during Bush for the same.  Obama must have figured coming in the door that he had a free pass to go after right wing scaliwags leaking embarrassing things about his regime after Fox howled about it during Bush.  Indeed the story admits that Bush didn't dare spend political capital going after leakers (Times and WaPo, basically) because he was a Republican. 

The Paper of Record takes readers back over the recent history of leaks, mentioning Scooter Libby of course, but fails to mention Wen Ho Lee, whom the Clinton administration blamed for leaking nuke secrets from Los Alamos during the 90s based on confidential sources.  The Times and several other news orgs ended up sending Lee a  fat check for 1.6 millions to shut him up settle his lawsuit so they wouldn't have to reveal the Clintonites who passed the info.   Down the memory hole she goes. 

The Gray Lady's piece also mentioned the current leakgate issue with General Cartwright ("Obama's favorite general" according to Woodward), accused now of leaking about the Stuxnet program on Iran--to the Times--without mentioning any update on who might be suspected of leaking to the AP about the Yemeni AQ agent that resulted in the logging of 40 AP phone lines in Washington.

They did make mention of an appeals court ruling Friday that basically said reporters have no constitutional protections when it comes to their sources, which means their reporter James Risen may be compelled to go to jail for refusing to reveal his insiders on the Bush era. Surely they are prepared to cover that fight since it would provide another opportunity to re-live the evil days of BushCheneyBurton.

Lastly but not leastly, they have a separate story on "new rules" by the NSA to safeguard their dragnet of everyone's phone call logs, which strangely now seems to satisfy them, as evidenced by this quote:
“When the president first came on board, we had a huge set of mistakes that we were working through in 2009,” he told the audience. “He said essentially, ‘I can see the value of these, but how do we ensure that we get these within compliance and that everything is exactly right?' ” That suggested that Mr. Obama had questioned the execution of a program he had inherited from President George W. Bush, but satisfied himself by having the N.S.A. set up what the general called a “directorate of compliance,” an internal watchdog group.
Oh for the good ole days when they felt compelled to leak things like this for public good.  Give them credit for trying to cover those tracks by giving editorial space to those who ran the SWIFT banking program to reply.  Just keep in mind it was Edward Snowden, not the Times or Post, who exposed the complete dragnet of all US based calls. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Obama Sends Message on Zimmerman

The national outrage over the justice system and the white racists who run it was egged on today by the president, who sauntered into the White House propaganda room and weighed in.

Taking no questions, he hinted that while there might not be a Justice Department persecution, some of us out here in flyover country have some soul-searching to do.  On something (he was rather vague on who and what, but left some clues).


In doing so the prez put himself in his son's shoes and talked about his own travails as a scary black man in America, not quite pinning down a time or location of these experiences.  Were they in Hawaii?  Indonesia? Chicago?  Columbia?  Harvard?   He also didn't give any examples of other races experiencing the same thing, such as Hispanic or East Asians being targeted or profiled or made fun of (Wee Tu Low) but since nobody in the post-verdict universe is mentioning anyone but white people presumably he wasn't talking about them.  Not all whites mind you--white liberals helped elect him twice it's safe to assume he wasn't referring to them either.  They are cool.   That leaves what, the Tea Party?  

Meanwhile here in reality world, Zimmerman is 50 percent Latino on his mother's side, who appears to have some black ancestry as well.  Obama is 50 percent white on his mother's side.  They are both mixed race.  The Martins have implicitly stated all along that race was not a factor in the case.   Apparently the president hasn't been listening.  

It's hard to say whether the Hispanic "community" even considers Zimmerman authentic.  They certainly seem to be silent on the whole thing.   No word from LaRaza or Juan Gonzales or the like.

Over at Huffpo some kind of Latino answer man had a response--it's because Zimmerman "murdered" Martin.   Guilty until proven innocent, then still guilty.

But the more likely reason we are not getting a hue and cry is because the major Latino organizations are no different than the NAACP or NOW--they are first and foremost liberal advocacy groups.  Race is just their tool.  There is no win in defending a half-white Jewish Latino because it means taking on the half-white president who is fighting for amnesty. So like the media they simply pretend Zimmerman is a white guy. 

Speaking of the fawning media, including Chris Wallace at Fox, they will no doubt continue to applaud the post-racial president for stepping up and adding his important two cents to the never-ending national conversation on GOP white racism, er, race.  The first opinionator will remain in his holding pattern high over Mount Teflon, looking down on the sinners and rubes, smiling as the plan comes together. 

WHODUNIT?   7/20/13

The Daily Mail has a tattletale from a WSJ reporter who claims she was at a snazzy book launch party in 2003 in Tina Brown's home that Obama was also attending when some "established author" (presumably white but she didn't say) mistook Barry for a waiter and asked him to go "fetch a drink".   Since the party was held for former Clintonite Sidney Blumenthal we must ask, who was it?   We already know that Bill Clinton himself admitted that Obama was at the level of fetching coffee just a few years before he rose to power. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

They Forgot About Bout

In almost every briefing about Edward Snowden's stay in the transit lounge of the Moscow airport Obama administration spokespeople have mentioned all the Russian suspects/criminals returned by the US over the last decade (emphasis added):
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, pointedly noted that the United States had returned “numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government,” then added: “We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged.”
But one of the most famous Russian high level criminals of the last few decades was NOT returned or even mentioned by the administration.  Mara Liasson of PBS asked Baghdad Carney about him today:
Q Can you describe the difference of what the administration sees between Snowden and Viktor Bout, who was not returned, although the Russian's wanted him returned?
BAGHDAD CARNEY: I can just tell you that our view on Mr. Snowden is clear. And we are working with the Russians to hopefully return him to the United States, where he will be afforded all of the rights and privileges of defendants in this country. And we believe that there's ample legal justification for his return. 
Most people have probably never heard of Viktor Bout, one of the most famous arms traders in history, now doing time at Marion prison.  I had forgotten him myself despite doing a post on him awhile ago. CBS News remembered him and asked openly a few weeks ago whether Russia might be angling to swap Snowden for Bout, which could explain the diplomatic holdup (which is surprising with all the flexibility the president has now). Not surprisingly Carney quickly moved on to the next questioner.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Handling the Truth

The TWA 800 documentary officially airs tonight.  Some of the reviews are coming in already:
If you need to get a person’s attention fast, just whisper, “There’s something the government isn’t telling you.” Works every time.
When the story first broke last month the mainstream media gave it some surprisingly non-judgmental air time, probably due to the six former investigators involved, but that tide turned weeks ago.  It's unlikely the movie will change that narrative (assuming there's any significant coverage today--and checking the main news websites there is not).

What it has done is bring to light some rather obscure stories that touch on flight 800 that for some reason 60 Minutes missed.  Such was the case with Mail Online this past week, whose report basically dismisses a missile and brings in a bomb, which was actually a working theory reported by the New York Times for weeks after the event.  The Mail story centers around FBI 302 reports detailing conversations between cellmates Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first WTC bombing in 93, and mobster Greg Scarpa, where Yousef allegedly predicted the plane would be taken down while schooling Scarpa on how to make the kind of micro-seat bomb used in a previous terrorist attack against a Philippine Airlines 747 a few years earlier.

There seems to be just as much circumstantial evidence of that occurring as with the missile theory, including several Democratic talking heads mentioning a 'bomb' during live 9/11 TV coverage.  It's compelling, very compelling, but not conclusive (been there, done that).  Besides, the bomb theory doesn't comport with the missile theory as to evidence.  One rules out the other and these former investigators are claiming a missile.


The various essays ask a logical question about it--why? Why cover it up?  The most obvious reason is the Clinton machine.  Would Bill Clinton have had reason to cover up such a thing?  Well maybe, considering it was before his approaching reelection against a war hero, especially if said attack was state-sponsored.  Clinton is not like Obama in almost any way except wanting to focus on domestic social policy instead of foreign policy.  The economy was rolling and nobody wanted a war, especially with Iran or Iraq.  Yet the cover-up of such an attack, especially with 9/11 to follow, would certainly do some serious legacy damage.  And if Yousef was actually involved--and the FBI had a heads up--there could be many angry questions and scores of congressional investigations.

Even if it was a horrible military mistake it would have overridden the cheery, sunny headlines his political advisors (like Dick Morris) were trying to project for November.  So yes, it's not hard to imagine someone wanting to kick the investigation down the road in a straightjacket of electrical engineering nuance.  Obama is trying to do with his own scandals now.  It takes a willing and helpful media to succeed, but Clinton enjoyed such as does O.  Of course there's another Clinton preparing herself for 2016 as well.  It's doubtful she could get away with scolding anyone about what difference it makes. 

But saying there's a reason isn't the same as someone actually doing it.  Conspiracies are hard to manage and this one would require people in the NTSB, FBI, CIA, NSA, ex White House staffers, assorted technical people and others to remain dummied-up.  Indeed people point to nobody coming forward in 17 years.  Well, they are coming forward now.  And some of the players mentioned above keep quiet for a living. So while there are some unexplained problems with the conspiracy theories they generally number less than the unanswered questions brought up by the movie.   Still, disproving an established narrative is a tall order.   

When all is said and done most people want to trust their government.  It's more comforting, especially when it comes to things like air safety.  That's why the spark theory works.  That's why the dog training exercise and the 'zoom climb' theories worked when they were reported--people forgot that both theories were basically discarded in the final report but they produced a sigh of relief at the time and allowed the press to move on to their normal liberal advocacy journalism.       

So while the movie might be interesting it will take someone of stature, like a president or a presidential release of official documents, to ever confirm anything as highly controversial as TWA 800, or for that matter any other sensational theory such as JFK or UFOs.  And there's really no reason to upset any apple carts. As Bush likes to say there are few objective historians at this juncture. 

MORE 7/19/13

I don't have the EPIX channel but you can go online to their website and sign up for a 14 day trial and watch the film.  Which I did. 

It was a well-done production overall.  As many reviewers have noted it did not focus strongly on the new evidence, which appears to consist of radar data showing high velocity ejecta from the plane and a trace of nitrates found splattered on the top of the CWT that a main forensic investigator (interviewed) didn't seem concerned about (he failed to send it off for further testing at the time).

The main thrust was to hit on the overarching weirdness associated with the investigation, consisting mainly of a phony-baloney propaganda movie from our main intelligence agency attempting to explain away witnesses and the FBI's bullying of said witnesses (and the exclusion of them in final hearings).  Those things are more than enough in and of themselves to keep a conspiracy going even if nothing else is brought forward.   But they are not enough to get a new investigation or change public opinion. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More on Hastings

Remember the tragic death of reporter Michael Hastings last month?  He was killed when his car rammed a tree in the wee hours of the morning in LA traveling at a high rate of speed.  Many speculated on what he was working on and if there was foul play--Hastings had done the Rolling Stone piece on General McCrystal and had made a few enemies in the Obama administration as well as others.

At last check they were waiting on the toxicology report for an exact cause of death.  These toxicology reports always seem to take forever, which is amazing considering how technology has advanced.  Makes one wonder if they must be sent to Antarctica for processing.

Actually, it turns out they should be sent to Canada:
The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the cause of death for Cory Monteith. Post-mortem testing, which included an autopsy and toxicological analysis, found that Mr. Monteith, aged 31, died of a mixed-drug toxicity involving heroin and alcohol.
Several days.  That's all it took for BC officials to test Cory Monteith.  So why does it take over a month in the States?  Are Medical Examiner officials in high profile cases using toxicology report delays to get stories out of the news and tamp down public interest, as seemed to be the case with Breitbart?

Such things lead to conspiracies.  Right now some are making hay with the fact the LA Coroner's office sent Mr. Hastings' remains home in an urn.  Some in his family claim they never authorized a cremation:
Hastings’ friend and confidant SSgt. Joe Biggs disclosed a macabre twist in the award-winning journalist’s death in a suspicious single-car accident. According to SSgt. Biggs, “Michael Hastings’ body was returned to Vermont in an urn.” He further alleged, “Family members did not want Michael’s body cremated.”
Sounds somewhat strange, unless he was burned so badly there wasn't much left.  The same San Diego reporter continues:
Despite the LAPD's categorization of the Hasting fatal accident as a "no (evidence of) foul play,” LAPD continues to ignore FOIA (CPRA in Calif.) requests made by San Diego 6 News for the police report, 9/11 call, autopsy, bomb squad and toxicology reports, or make the Mercedes available for inspection which only fuels conjecture.
The fact that News 6 San Diego FOIA'd the toxicology report despite the Coroner saying it would take weeks indicates they don't believe in these long delays either.  And good grief, our old friend Richard "Boogie to Baghdad" Clarke has even weighed in with a 'car hacking' theory worthy of "Q". 

But whatever.  Let's get back to our never-ending conversation on race.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Disgraced AG Being Asked to Overturn Jury Verdict

Indications are that the Attorney General will investigate the Zimmerman case to see if any "civil rights violations" occurred.   This despite the president coming out today and calling for calm, saying "we are a nation of laws and a jury has spoken".

Let's see, would that be same AG who was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to come clean (and probably lying) in the Fast and Furious case, where two federal agents died?   The same guy who allowed the AP's phone records to be trolled in a case of suspected administration leaks for political gain?  The same one who judge-shopped to get to James Rosen's emails and phone calls by convincing a federal judge he was a "flight risk"?   The same one who recommended that international financier and wanted criminal Marc Rich be pardoned by his old boss Bill Clinton (then Rich's wife later donated heavily to the Clinton library)?   That one?

Well, have at it.  Chances are they won't end up doing anything, though.  The election is over--Obama's 'son' helped stimulate black turnout (along with Biden's 'chains' comment) and it worked

On the flip side there's always the possibility they think a protracted racial 'conversation' could help benefit turnout again next year while taking away coverage from all the still-unresolved scandals.   But perhaps it's not smart to go to war against a guy who is part-Hispanic while trying to politicize immigration and paint Republicans as wild-eyed xenophobes.  Decisions, decisions.  Where is Bush?

MORE  7/15/13

Is there another word besides "craven" that explains the political hay being made with this case?   I'm not talking about average everyday black people, who have long dealt with the idea of profiling, of which is a part of this case.  No, I'm talking about people like Angela Corey, Barack Obama, the Rainbow fools, Al Sharpton, and of course our distinguished Attorney General.   Just think--they empaneled a Special Prosecutor in Florida to waive procedure and indict Zimmerman but Eric Holder gets to investigate himself.

Anyway, nothing should surprise anyone anymore.  Occupy Wall Streeters are mobilizing and of course the Socialists have now joined in, providing signage and probably protesters.   Any ole agitprop will do.  Just don't call them racists for using the tragic death of the 'child' to push their left-wing political agenda.    

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Aviation Update

Punk-gate? As if the NTSB needs anymore controversy. They've admitted to being party to the punking of a San Francisco Fox News TV affiliate regards the names of the flight crew on Asiana 214 by blaming a "summer intern":
The statement said that an NTSB summer intern, in response to the station’s inquiry, “acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.”
However, in a subsequent phone interview with the SFGate’s Jeff Elder, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel made clear that the names “originated at the media outlet” and that the intern — unaware of the offensive names — was “acting in good faith and trying to be helpful” by confirming names he didn’t know.
Since this summer intern wasn't identified the media and public are left to take the NTSB's word that it was indeed an intern and not some staffer trying to cover rear by blaming an intern.  No word on whether the offending young lad has been sent home or not.  Maybe they will begin a 30 day top-down review to identify the problem and report back to Obama (who is no doubt outraged). 

Americans of east Asian descent are also understandably outraged:
“Even if the NTSB confirmed the information, the names originated from somewhere – and we fail to understand how those obviously phony names could escape detection before appearing on the broadcast.”
Yes, the lingering question...which goofball in the Fox newsroom either sourced it or put someone else up to calling the NTSB to confirm these phony names.   If it was a prank it's not hard to imagine an intern in the Fox station being told the fake names and told to call the NTSB to confirm, only to have an intern there either dumber than the Fox person or one who sensed the most awesome Faux News punk ever and simply confirmed the names. 

Or maybe he felt like someone was trying to punk him and simply agreed and hung up.  Or maybe interns weren't involved at all.  Maybe the source of the names came from some semi-reputable source and the Fox outlet decided to double-check by calling the government, who helped lead them astray.  It's hard to say.

Perhaps the CIA will produce a video explaining everything.  Or maybe Holder can check the phone records.

Back to Iraq

The poor State Department spokeswoman.  She was grilled mercilessly by the press corpse today in her daily briefing, about Snowden, Egypt and Syria, the latter mainly to do with the delay in lethal aid president Obama pledged to provide to "change the calculus".  Remember?   Anyway, in the context of the discussion this internecine killing within the rebel forces was mentioned:
“The Islamic State phoned me saying that they killed Abu Bassir and that they will kill all of the Supreme Military Council,” a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, Qassem Saadeddine, told the Reuters news agency, referring to the FSA executive body.
“We are going to wipe the floor with them,” a rebel commander who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Reuters.
They are supposed to be allies.  No wonder Jay Carney can rail on and on about the Senate holding up the president's judicial nominees (with Harry Reid threatening a 'nuclear option' to change the rules) but when given a chance yesterday expressed zero outrage about the snag on lethal aid held up in Congress.   We are giving weapons to who? 

Let's face it, no-bluff Obama backed himself into a corner by drawing a red line in Syria he was later forced to uphold after they called his bluff, so he's tried to get out of it by first sending out obscure staffers to announce the details--well, other than detailing what we're actually providing, which is mysteriously now held up in Congress while the rebels are getting their asses kicked and the Russians are parading around Snowden.  A real "game changer" indeed. 
 
One of the few real reporters left in America, AP's Matt Lee, asked the State spokeswoman yesterday to comment on a WaPo op-ed assessment of US policy in Syria described as 'feckless'; she unsurprisingly disagreed, however when asked if there were any metrics that might show progress she came up smilingly blank.  They have apparently given up on saying Bashar Assad's 'days are numbered' now as well.  Add that to the knot they've tied themselves into trying to pretend there wasn't a coup in Egypt and it's a wonder any of them can sleep. 

As to the "Islamic State of Iraq", the Free Syrians basically called them a group who used religion to perpetrate murder and crime.  Interesting, since Saddam's old number two Izzat al-Duri (number one on Iraq's most-wanted list) has variously been tied to AQ and insurgent thugs over the years when he wasn't playing dead.  He's very much alive and still causing trouble around the country, trying to bring back the Ba'ath.  And he's never hesitated to make friends with the Islamists if it furthered his goals, even going back to the Saddam days.   Take this report from the Iranian FARS news with the grain of salt it deserves, but it's interesting nonetheless:
Early last month, informed sources told FNA that the innocent people killed in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo in Northwestern Syria were the victims of the chemical weapons supplied to the terrorists by a Saddam-era General working under head of the now outlawed Ba'ath party Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
"The chemical weapons used in the attack on Khan al-Assal area had been prepared by former Iraqi Military Industries Brigadier General Adnan al-Dulaimi and supplied to Ba'ath-affiliated terrorists of the Nusra Front in Aleppo through Turkey's cooperation and via the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province," an informed source, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of his life, told FNA on April 6.
The idea that al-Duri has access to a stash of chemical weapons to hand the rebels would be real bombshell--it's basically what Bush said he fought the Iraq war to stop.  The Iranians (and of course the Russians) both have reason to blame the rebels or simply make up crap about them since they are at war against them, but the tie-in of Izzat is a nice touch since the Shiite government of Iraq is probably aligned and al-Duri is one of Maliki's prime enemies.

But just imagine if evidence could be found to tie a former Saddam henchman to actual Saddam-era WMDs, being provided to AQ linked jihadies to kill civilians in Syria.  And how that might affect Obama.    

At any rate, the possibility of the United States actually indirectly arming Islamic State factions, even if it's part of an effort to help take out Assad, is nauseating. But it represents just another day in the Middle East. It's why Obama should have kept quiet on Syria all along.  The public doesn't care and won't care until another attack occurs here. Besides, he's showing himself to be a lousier poker player than advertised.  Unless this is all part of the awesome grand plan. 

While such foreign policy stumbles would likely ruin any other president Obama's salvation lies with his friendlies in the US media, who aside from a few are not breaking any legs reporting about Syria right now.   In a real world they would be demanding a prime-time press conference to explain WMD use and what our lethal aid involvement might mean, but the closest the Times can get is to lament that Obama never does Oval Office speeches anymore (but hey, it's just a sign of the times).  So let's everyone get back to talking about Zimmerman.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

More Confirmation Action...

As to the Comey hearing, similar to the Nuland hearing there was a good bit of posturing and some grandstanding (Cruz) but here's an exchange that warrants some illumination..



In other words, what Comey objected to during the Ashcroft hospital drama was neither the TSP nor the NSA metadata program, but something still classified.  Interesting.  Nobody brought up Comey's role in selecting Patrick Fitzgerald to go after Scooter Libby and by extension, Cheney (Senator Sessions did remind the panel that he was behind the Martha Stewart prosecution) but several GOP Senators did press him as to whether he would continue to speak truth to power as a member of the Obama administration about various and sundry issues, such as surveillance or going after the IRS for politically targeting conservatives.  His affirmative answers are on the record for posterity.

By the way, Senator Schumer actually used the phrase "profiles in courage" when addressing Comey's last testimony in front of Congress during the Bush years, which made him a sort of folk hero for the left.  This is a screen shot of Comey's reaction...

That's not a pleasant look.  I saw that as a good sign insofar as not brimming over a liberal Democrat using him as a prop to illustrate how terrible the previous administration was, perhaps with a realization of why he was selected by the president (to keep that memory alive for politics).  Maybe it was partly a realization of who his new friends might be and their possible reaction should he get into the job and find some irregularities as he did before.    

For what it's worth, both Comey and Nuland appear to be extremely capable individuals who should serve the nation well.  Both had to tip-toe through sensitive political minefields in their duties but neither appear to be overly partisan.  Of course, appearances can be deceiving, so we'll see.

Confirmation Action!

Yes, those two terms rarely go together, especially when the word "Senate" is added.   But there were two interesting confirmation hearings this past week; one featuring James Comey as head of the FBI and the other Victoria Nuland as a Deputy Secretary of State.

For those not scoring at home Comey was the central figure in the "Ashcroft hospital drama" back in 2004 wherein the NSA surveillance program allegedly almost caused a mass resignation of the Justice Department.  Nuland's interest stems from her participation in the Benghazi talking points.  So clearly the GOP had reason to inquire as to items from their pasts. 

And they did.  Here's perhaps the seminal moment from the Nuland hearing where Rubio summarizes the talking points process and exposes the falsehood pushed by people in the administration that the CIA actually changed the draft when in fact they merely changed the text at the behest of people in State and the WH ..



A follow-on post will cover Mr. Comey's hearing. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

While we lecture Egypt on Violence...

...police departments in the United States send out public service messages urging citizens not to react to the Zimmerman verdict with violence.  Good Lord.  Our State Department could have given this message.  Did you catch the 'hope' tee shirt the girl was wearing?

Yet the State Department is simultaneously running interference on whether a US law was broken regards a coup in Egypt due to the sensitive political nuance involved.  Funny, no such nuance existed in Honduras when a coup happened there so Hillary Clinton roundly condemned it (they are taking a side in Egypt as well, they just won't publicly admit it because it subverts our law).  There is no such thing as consistency on this according to State--every situation is different.  Wonder if the law stipulates that? 

Meanwhile the president feels he can arbitrarily change the health care law without consulting Congress.  And why not?  He engaged in a war in Libya without following the law just like he appointed nominees during a congressional recess--and nothing happened.   They arrest a guy loading a shotgun in DC on July 4th, a clear case of civil disobedience, while illegal aliens move around the country without fear of arrest, waiting to be made legal to serve the interests of politics and business.       

We denigrate our rule of law at our own peril. 

ORWELLIAN  TAP DANCING   7/10/13

When is a coup not a coup?  When the US administration rilly, rilly, rilly doesn't need it to be a coup.  If you want to watch some consequential TV, watch this train wreck.   The media folks in that room are not buying their tap dance for one second.  Rarely have we seen such pushback against administration press flacks. 

So why are they maintaining this ridiculous false front?  Because the options are worse. One, the US needs to keep the Egyptian military on the payroll to keep the peace in the region and two, Obama invested a lot of political capital in the Muslim Brotherhood, but now there are massive protests in the streets of Cairo with anti-Obama signs and venom for our Ambassador.  So it's time to throw the Brothers under the bus.

All of which is even more solid if reports out of Libya are true about the Benghazi perpetrators' connections back to Egypt.  The administration (and Hillary2016!) would rather walk through hot coals than to comment on something that would bring the Benghazi story back on the front burner.  The last time it was they released the IRS targeting story--themselves.    

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Lac-Megantic Oil Train Derailment

While the flames over the horrible derailment at Lac-Megantic are under control, the incident itself is only just beginning to fan the emotional and political flames.  Here's a CBC update, featuring some ridiculous quotes from Montreal, Maine and Atlantic RR president Ed Burkhardt:
Burkhardt has been quoted in news reports as saying he's received many hateful messages and that he hopes he doesn't get shot at when he visits Lac-Mégantic, because he doesn't plan to wear a bullet-proof vest for his visit.
Keep in mind Burkhardt is an American CEO of an American company running crude oil trains through French-speaking Quebec, historically no great fan of the United States.  Add to that some of his comments--which sound incredibly callous--(if reported accurately) and you have a recipe for high emotion.

This event also provides two political pressure groups with fodder for argument: the people who believe in pipelines and the enviromentalists who hate oil altogether. Throw in the still simmering US debate over the Keystone pipeline (the State Department is apparently still 'considering' it) and there's potential for a larger  emotional storm.  In Canada the liberals are blaming the event on the Harper government (conservative--saying he cut back inspections, etc) without knowing what they hell they are talking about while videos are going viral despite the videographers having no clue what they are talking about. 

As to the derailment itself here's a brief summary of known facts.  Burkhardt claims somebody tampered with the train after railroad employees last touched it at Nantes.  Perhaps this part of the CBC report explains his contention::
The fire chief in Nantes has offered an assessment different from the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway about who might have been to blame in the hours leading up to the tragedy.
Patrick Lambert said his crew had been trained by MMA to handle fires on its line — and they intervened to fight four fires on MMA trains in the past eight years. He said his firefighters had shut off the engine to battle a blaze on the train earlier Friday night, as the MMA operating procedure urged them to do. After extinguishing the fire, he said his crew received the company's blessing to leave the scene.
The company, however, said the fire crew should have alerted the engineer who by that point had gone home to sleep for the night. With the fire crew gone, and the engineer in bed, the train began rolling downhill on a fateful, destructive journey.
Here's a map of the area:



A few questions linger [ed- I am not a railroad professional but do have some familiarity with transportation systems], some of which were answered today in the Canadian Safety Board press conference.  One, the train was not stopped on the siding at Nantes, it was tied down on the main track.  The "X" on the map is the approximate location of a passing track where they could have parked a train, the train in question was probably somewhere close.  Is this where the MMA crews usually hand off trains as they go into and out of the United States or did the train crew simply run out of duty time (no more than 12 hours on in the US)? Further east from Megantic the MMA crosses into the US state of Maine; the oil cars were destined for Saint John, New Brunswick, just east of Maine.  Do these trains go through Customs or get inspected by the US Border Patrol?

Two, what started the fire?  This wasn't cleared up by the presser today.  A "hot box" on one of the cars could explain it but such a thing might have been noticeable to a crew tying down a train for the night on a grade, although today's presser changed the time period between the crew going off duty and the fire from five minutes to fifty minutes, which makes more sense.  Did the crew set handbrakes on some of the cars?  The Canadian TSB says they are looking at brakes in their investigation.  Does the MMA have automatic hot box detectors similar to major railroads or are crews responsible for noticing and reporting?  When was the next MMA train scheduled to pass the area? 

Three,  the story above says the fire department turned off the engine before putting out the fire.  At least that's what Burkhardt says.  But the TSB confirms someone with the railroad showed up and assisted the fire department, then presumably sent them along after the fire was out.  Who?   How far away from the engine(s) was the fire?  Some reports have said the engine itself was on fire, so where was the fire, exactly?   Were there protocols or a memo of understanding in place between the railroad and the town to cover such occurrences?

Since shutting down the locomotive would dump the air brake system leaving only handbrakes on the individual cars to stop a runaway it seems reasonable to assume that any MMA employee would understand that the situation represented a safety hazard. Burkhardt claims his people weren't the last ones who touched the train, so who does he think had access after the fire department and railroad representatives left?

The area in question seems to be along a main road and therefore accessible to vandals or pranksters or others, which apparently has not yet been ruled out.  Part of today's presser contained the following tidbit:
TSB investigators have not been able to reach the site of the explosion because of continuing safety issues at the scene, but they have been able to determine the position of the controls of the locomotive — which continued travelling out the other side of the town after the derailment — and obtain information from the black box.
"There’s a lot of information that need to be validated," Ross said. There’s a lot of reports out there …. We’re following all the credible leads that we can that will help us get to the bottom of this."  He said some of their specific findings can't be released at this time, because that could compromise the ongoing investigation.
In other words, if the settings on the locomotive were found to be in any position other than what is standard in a tie-down situation then somebody moved them after the engineer left.  Anyway, as we await more answers from the Canadian authorities political partisans on both sides of the border will no doubt continue heaving their footballs around in the dark trying to score points before the story fades away.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Friday, July 05, 2013

Who Tipped Europe?

The Spanish say:
.. it and other European countries were told that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board the Bolivian presidential plane that was diverted to Austria this week, causing a diplomatic row. The foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, said on Spanish National Television on Friday that "they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside".
The minister did not say who supplied the information and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the United States. But he said European countries' reactions were based on this information.
Who else would have informed them besides the US? So if we did, who tipped us? Snowden is reportedly still in Moscow so it makes sense to think their FSB security service would be the logical choice. If not then there's probably a search going on at the airport as to who the CIA asset might be.

Meanwhile this remains a complete non-story in the mainstream press.  Paula Deen continues to get more coverage.   Again, just apply the Bushitler theorem--how big a story would it be had Bush stopped and searched the Bolivian president's presidential jet looking for someone who leaked his TSP program, etc. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Independence Day

A few things from the net themed towards the 4th.   Here's Michelle Malkin:
As we celebrate our nation’s 237th birthday, a crucial facet of American life has all but vanished. We have forsaken, in a systematic and deliberate public manner, one of our most fundamental duties: fostering civic virtue in each and every one of our citizens. What does it mean to be an American?
Politicians in both parties keep pushing to create a new “path to citizenship” for millions of illegal aliens. But if sovereignty and self-preservation still matter in Washington, citizenship must be guarded ferociously against those who would exploit and devalue it at every electoral whim.
My own dear mother was lamenting this the other day and mentioned it first when asked about what has changed the most over the years in her recollection of life in America.  She lived through World War II..

And this from Twitter..



God Bless America. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Aviation Update

Another first for a domestic aviation crash--the NTSB pulled off a 'background briefing' with reporters on Tuesday to explain their investigatory conclusion on TWA 800.  The last background briefing that made news happened on that fateful day in May when the Benghazi talking points story was exploding--the very same day the IRS leaked that the IRS was messing with Tea Party c4 applications.  So pardon some of us for the skepticism. 

Here's a story on the briefing, which includes this bit of information:
The NTSB imposed strict guidelines on Tuesday’s briefing, instructing reporters not to record it or to photograph Kolley and his colleagues. Reporters were also shown only the right side of the reconstructed fuselage.
But it did allow some of the “TWA Flight 800” filmmakers, including co-producer and physicist Tom Stalcup, to conduct interviews in the rain-slicked parking lot. Stalcup told AFP that the NTSB has never determined the precise source of the spark that triggered the fuel tank explosion — “they admit it” — and that radar data refutes its findings.
“They say it’s a low-velocity explosion. The radar says it was a high velocity explosion. You cannot have both. It’s impossible... A low-velocity explosion cannot create high-level debris,” he said. He suspects the airliner was targeted not with a shoulder-mounted missile, but with a “proximity fuse missile” which detonates close to its target and destroys it with flak and shockwaves.
Hank Hughes, a retired NTSB investigator who petitioned for the case to be reopened, said there had been “lots of missteps, lost of incorrect things” during the course of the investigation. “There were many many positive hits for nitrates and other explosives” said Hughes, referring to forensic tests for trace evidence of explosive substances on the debris.
Kolley said only three pieces of debris tested positive for explosives, something put down in part on the fact that the aircraft had once been used for training police sniffer dogs.
The dog training exercise comment made in the above report is worth investigating. There were stories to that effect leaked to the press back in the early days to explain away the traces of explosives found on parts of the aircraft, but it was not included in the NTSB's final report--they blamed salvage operation and/or military personnel, claiming parts submerged in the briny sea for more than two days would be wiped clean of such evidence. Ergo, they couldn't officially use the dog story.

But the above remark in the link is not a quote, so let's see if we can get a quote.  From the Politico version:
He said that at the time, possible explanations were believed to include residue left over from bomb-sniffing canine training, which he said was less likely than accidental contamination.
“Probably a more likely scenario is the fact that [the wreckage] was contaminated after retrieval from the ocean,” Kolly said. FBI and military personnel involved with the investigation could easily have left traces of explosives from their shoes or hands, or residue could have rubbed off from active duty military vessels transporting the material.
And there you have it--"probably a more likely scenario..". In other words, they don't conclusively know where the traces of explosives came from; they don't know what caused the spark with certainty; they dismissed most of the witnesses; but the case is definitely closed and it's just silly to ever bring it back up ever.

And why wouldn't the most transparent administration in history allow the media to broadcast an event trying to make the case the final report was accurate?  Or at least show the press conference between the officials and the reporters?  After all, the 'whistleblowers' were outside the facility giving interviews.  Is everything with the Obama administration now a background briefing?

____________________

Evo Morales. El-presidente of Bolivia. Coming back home from a meeting with Putey Poot only to see his Falcon jet denied airspace over southern Europe and forced down in Austria for a stop-and-search, this time not for drugs but for Snowden.

And how can this international incident and violation of diplomatic protocol not come on orders from President Not-Scramble Jets?  Of course there's outrage in South America with talk of filing a UN protest, but just imagine the same thing occurring under Bushitler.  The US mainstream media would be outraged!

Morsi Out, What of Zawahiri?

Thankfully it appears there was a bloodless coup in Egypt (although the situation is fluid) with Morsi under military house arrest, which means the Muslim Brotherhood is out of power.  The Obama administration is predictably flip-flopping all over the place in trying to wedge themselves onto the winning side, perhaps even pretending the coup we all saw wasn't really a coup (because of this).  

But what about al Qaeda?  It's now being run by an Egyptian, Ayman Zawahiri, whose brother Mohammed was released from prison by the Morsi government (along with other Islamic militants).  Mohammed was instrumental in starting the initial Cairo riots on 9/11 (designed to get the Blind Sheikh released) while reports out of Libya are saying that several Ansar al-Sharia members under arrest have pointed a finger of blame at Morsi in the Benghazi attack.   Most legacy AQ terrorists, such as Zawahiri, bin Laden, and KSM, got their radical starts with membership in the Brotherhood.  

Zawahiri's dream was to hold an actual state government in Arabia from whence he could begin the worldwide caliphate.  In other words, he's going to be pissed about these recent developments.   And a pissed off AQ has historically been a bad thing.  Good thing the GWoT is pretty much over. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Moscow Blues and the Bungle in the Jungle

So Ed Snowden is still holed up in the transit lounge at Moscow's Schekrehtljryhrylkov Airport, awaiting his fate.  A week ago the story was about Ecuador giving him some kind of asylum document so he could travel along without proper documentation (which would be OK if he were coming across the Mexican border).

But suddenly a worm turned.  The press reported that Biden made a call to the Ecuadoran presidente about the insignificant 29 year old hacker; a productive and frank conversation that dealt with a range of issues, no doubt.

So what did they talk about?   Sure seems the Ecuadoran position has become a tad softer today.
Was it this?
The oil giant Chevron, the third-biggest U.S. company by revenue, has sued Patton Boggs, the nation’s premier legal and lobbying firm, for concealing and promoting fraudulent information in a case that was born in the jungles of the Amazon. Chevron has also convinced a New York federal judge to allow it — despite protests from Patton Boggs about attorney-client privilege — to take the extraordinary step of examining thousands of pages of the law firm’s internal communications regarding its client, indigenous people from Ecuador’s Amazon who are suing Chevron.
Eighteen BILLION dollars.  That's how much the Amazonian people from Ecuador are suing Chevron over an oily mess left by Texaco when they abandoned the country 20 years ago; sued by way of the Ecuadoran government through Patton-Boggs, a high profile law firm in DC with some connections to folks in the administration.  Yeah, sounds like a big f'ing deal and something they might want to talk about. 

SNOWDEN SPEAKS  7/1/13

The cinema of the bizarre continues.  Snowden, realizing he's been effectively checked by a wheeling, dealing Joe Biden (Obama is in Africa and is not following the proceedings very closely, ahem) is trying to regain popular support by issuing a statement, wherein he claims his "right to asylum" has been violated and that Obama is afraid of the people.  His initial revelation was important and necessary but the more he speaks, and the more he threatens to release state secrets, the more he sounds like Assange.

Meanwhile Vlad Putey Poot is milking this for all it's worth, saying sweet nothings like if Snowden stops leaking about EU partners he'll grant asylum.  He's really having fun twisting that knife, it's clear.  He has nothing to lose. 

Speaking of Russia, started reading the new book "Disinformation" by former Romanian Intelligence Chief (under the Soviets) Ion Pacepa, the highest ranking Soviet bloc defector the United States (in 1978) and the former right hand man of the notorious Nicolae Ceausescu.  It's fascinating so far.  He explains what he feels is the difference between misinformation and disinformation, the latter of which the Soviets also called "Glasnost" in an attempt to fool gullible western liberals and reporters (sorry for the redundancy).   It appears some forms of Glasnost are still alive and well in Russia.