Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nothing but the Truth

Weird, this..
The day before the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, former President Bill Clinton told a group of businessmen in Australia that he "could have killed" the man behind those attacks, Osama bin Laden, in 1998, but he decided against launching a strike out of concern for civilian casualties.
Hmm, the premise has long been known to those who pay attention thanks to CIA people like Michael Scheuer and Hank Crumpton.  What's new is widespread media this will get compared to the two figures listed above. 

It's only a coicidence Bubba was blubbering about this on the day before the attack. He cannot be completely blamed--he did what he did.  Had 'he' killed UBL it's almost certain KSM would have carried on his nephew Ramzi's plot, although it might have taken longer.   They are relentless in their violent pursuits, as everyone knows. 

The weirder thing is why it was released now.   The liberal businessman who hired Clinton to speak and released this tape claims he 'forgot' about it, which is something even a child wouldn't believe. Perhaps it has something to do with getting some dirty laundry out in the press before Billary declares their 2016 candidacy.   Or maybe the Aussie guy has become a conservative.  It's the kind of tape that could have come out in 2008 had Hillary been the nominee, opposition research being what it is. 

Meanwhile, this story returned only yesterday:
A U.S. congressman calling for the release of classified material from a report into 9/11 has warned there would be 'anger, frustration, and embarrassment' if the redacted pages were made public.
It came out back in December then died. It's coming out again, right before the Senate releases their double secret CIA torture report designed to bash Bush and the GOP in general.   Feel free to speculate on what might be 'embarrassing' about these redacted pages telling the story on 9/11--I have my own suspicions, but they may be wrong.  However, perhaps political pressure of this nature alongside an administration who still claims they are the most transparent ever (as they release a document on 'torture') will force a chance for the whole truth to come out one day.  Keep hope alive. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


It's clear as to why John Boehner gave an unequivocal "no" on the impeachment question--rank politics.  Let's face it, he's not a principled conservative, he's a political playa who understands the game.  And the game continues to be using pushback (proposed or actual) against the president as an example of racism and hate.  Democrats know the Tea Party exists on principle.  Game playing isn't something they do well.  So they can be gamed. 

That's why we get stuff like this:

The prez is a playa, too.  He's such a playa he's managed to make some believe he's not a playa. He needs enthusiasm, anger and spirit from those who typically don't come out to vote in a mid-term election.  So he uses canards and race cards to stoke the flame, hoping for the best. It also helps him to divide the opposition, something else Boehner knows.  Let's face it, Democrats don't care about means, it's the ends that count.  Winning keeps the hope and change train rolling, American institutions be damned if they get in the way. 

Impeachment?  No Speaker should ever remove it from the table.  An actual constitutional scholar, Jonathan Turley, has outlined the abuses of power he claims have brought our system of government close to a tipping point.  So yes, some non-racist individuals have been talking about the executive abuses and others have discussed the constitutional remedy. This is racist?   Whether the abuse has reached a level of 'high crimes and misdemeanors' yet is debatable, probably not--but Boehner knows he can't do much more than offer a lawsuit against the first black president or risk losing it all.  It's ugly, but shrewd.   

Speaking of rank politics, it's funny how the president was painted as a constitutional scholar during the 2008 campaign.  They were clearly using it to contrast him with the evil Bush, who everyone accused of having an "imperial presidency" with a "unitary executive".  Now that Obama has said that abusing his power is just "doing my job" and that his opponents are 'hatin' for actually doing the job they were elected to do, nobody is mentioning those C-V credentials anymore.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Back to OKC

The Trentadue case is in court this week.  For those not following, a judge has allowed the brother (and attorney) of a man who mysteriously died in jail to grill FBI witnesses about whether they might have a video showing two men exit the Ryder truck on that fateful day.  Jesse Trentadue is trying to clear the name of his brother Kenney, who he believes was mistaken for John Doe Number 2 and beaten to death in a jail cell some months later.  The Feds claim he committed suicide.

They also claim they can't find anymore videos; should a video exist showing two men exiting the truck it would prove that "John Doe Number 2" was real, despite the FBI more or less erasing him some months after the attack.  By the way, this is not the only mystery video some associate with the FBI. 

Lots of theories on this, both right and left.  From a lefty perspective this one is about as good as any--basically the FBI wanted to cover up a far right wing conspiracy so if John Doe 2 exists he was probably someone from the militia movement.

But really, would that be Earth-shattering?  Most people probably got the sense that McVeigh and Nichols were right wing extremists and likely hung around with like-minded persons.  A few more or even some small cells hosteled in the mountains wouldn't be a big shock to most people. 

The far right also suspects the FBI, but some of them believe the FBI pulled off the attack.  Very much like 9/11 truthers, they reason that the government blew up their own building as part of the plot to take away our freedom and liberty through reactions like the Patriot Act.

This would indeed be Earth-shattering, but it's about as likely as Elvis being found alive and working at a Burger King.  Conspiracies become less and less likely as the circle of knowledge increases--some wold talk.  Besides, attributing evil to every person in the government, or at least career bureaucrats, is delusional.

Other right-leaning conspiracies involve a foreign aspect, specially a Muslim connection.   Some have speculated that AQ terrorists were perhaps assisting Terry Nichols make his massive truck bomb, since they had the expertise and had already attacked America.  Nichols was in the Philippines when AQ bomb expert Ramzi Yousef was there and wrote out a will before he left, as if he was expecting some danger.  This view has been mentioned by such noted figures as McVeigh's attorney Stephen Jones and former Clinton administration counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke in his book "Against all Enemies".

There was also an Iraqi connection theory pushed by reporter Jayna Davis, which has been shared by Bob McCarty.  Such a revelation certainly would change the view of the Iraq War but Davis' book isn't entirely convincing since the loose ends cannot be tied up.  Her main suspect seems more like a drifter loser than terrorist.  And McCarty's links are mostly dead now.  So not sure where that's going anymore.    

The AQ contact theory sounds more plausible and would be a little more Earth-shattering to the average Joe since it would suggest a widespread coverup of Islamic terror against America in the 90s, which would not look very good with 9/11 in the background.   It might make some question why those captured in the 90s weren't questioned more.       

There has been speculation the administration didn't want a foreign connection, attributed to former CIA official Vincent Canistraro. Considering who was running Justice and the WH at the time it certainly makes sense to believe they wanted domestic lone wolves, not a large network, assuming they were craven enough to try to steer the truth instead of letting it come out.  It's not hard to see Dick Morris advising on this.

As to what actually happened to Kenneth Trentadue, the facts may never come out.  Maybe he was beaten up and killed in his cell by overzealous guards or interrogators who mistook him for John Doe Number 2, then they tried to cover it up, but that's as far as it goes.  Or maybe he got tired of the rough treatment and killed himself as they said, and they were trying to cover up the previous beatings.  Maybe they told the truth in their report, as far-fetched as it might seem.  But finding out whether there were two suspects in the truck doesn't really solve it one way or the other unless the video conclusively shows Trentadue.  

And if the FBI was trying to cover up a foreign connection it doesn't necessarily say anything conclusive about Trentadue unless he was involved in the plot but wasn't John Doe Number 2.   As in the Nichols-AQ theory, it's not out of the question to speculate that far right wing domestic terrorists/neo Nazis might work with Jew/black-hating Islamic terrorists.  Trentadue could have also been in the wrong place at the wrong time, with no connections to anything, and there could still be a John Doe 2 cover-up. 

As to the question of a foreign connection, here's part of the final conclusion of the Rohrabacher investigation into the matter from 2006:
We have found no conclusive evidence of a foreign connection, but there remain questions that need to be answered before this final chapter can justifiably be closed. This investigation determined that many pieces of so-called evidence backing various theories of a foreign involvement were not based in fact. In some instances, our own research is inconclusive. Specifically, Hussaini and Strassmeir, as well as the Yousef phone calls, needed more investigatory attention. The Subcommittee investigators are dismayed that there remains a lack of willingness by the Department of Justice and others to examine certain legitimate issues. The overall assessment is inconclusive on the varied theories.
But there are a few people who could clear most of this up if we could dump some magic truth dust on them--Ramzi Yousef and Terry Nichols.  They reside together at the SUPERMAX prison in Colorado and neither seems to have been vigorously interrogated, at least such info is not in the public domain.  They both know whether they met each other in Cebu, Philippines in 1994.  Peter Lance has some theories on all of this but don't expect to see them on the big screen anytime soon, or at least not until a certain political faction has finally exited stage left.

COMPELLING   7/30/14

This story popped up some months ago then disappeared, now it's back:
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) is one of a number of lawmakers urging the government to declassify 28 redacted pages of a report investigating the attacks of September 11, 2001. Massie said at a press conference earlier this month that when he read the redacted pages of the report, titled “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001,” he had to stop “every couple pages” to try to rearrange his “understanding of history.” “It challenges you to rethink everything,” he said
The speculation last time was that Saudi Arabia was involved somehow, but the congressman simply said it was 'embarrassing'. Since the description was both 'before and after' the 9/11 attacks, one has to wonder if some of this stuff has already come out in various blogs, books and websites over the years but has been ignored by the graniteheads in Washington--so it's news to them.  Or... maybe it's really something new that would change the way everyone thinks.

The bigger question is why these politicians keep teasing this story, as if the 28 pages may actually be declassified sometime soon. They say 'embarrassing', well, if it was embarrassing to Bush it would have come out long ago.  Think of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" movie being backed up by an official report from DC--nice fodder to leak before the 2004 election.  But nothing happened.

So it must be embarrassing to both Clinton and Bush, or perhaps mainly to Clinton, to some other protected entity.  Why would it come out now with Hillary teetering on announcing her campaign--unless that's part of the embarrassment.  Also, the Senate is close to releasing their tome on CIA torture, so perhaps this is the GOP somehow trying to push back.  Whatever it is, they've got a lot of people's curiosity up. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Side Tracks

That was then...

John Kerry at the Democratic National Convention in 2012..
Again and again, the other side has lied about where this president stands and what this president has done. But Prime Minister Netanyahu set the record straight—he said, our two countries have "exactly the same policy…"—"our security cooperation is unprecedented..." When it comes to Israel, I'll take the word of Israel's prime minister over Mitt Romney any day.
President Obama promised to work with Russia to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and signed an historic treaty that does just that. He promised to lock down nuclear materials around the world, and he has done just that. He refused to accept the false choice between force without diplomacy or diplomacy without force.
When a brutal dictator promised to kill his own people "like rats," President Obama enlisted our allies, built the coalition and shared the burden, so that today—without a single American casualty—Moammar Gadhafi is gone and the people of Libya are free.
So on one side of this campaign, we have a president who has made America lead like America again. What is there on the other side? An extreme and expedient candidate, who lacks the judgment and vision so vital in the Oval Office. The most inexperienced foreign policy twosome to run for president and vice president in decades
Emphasis added to point out his perceived successes.  But that was then, this is now:
  • Time Mag headline announcing a "Cold War II" after Russian complicity in the shoot-down of a passenger jet, with no significant consequences; 
  • Israel and HAMAS locked in battle after a failed secret 9 month peace effort was abandoned;
  • Iraq down the drain due to instability in Syria, where the administration failed to effectively intervene leaving over 200,000 dead civilians with a renewed precedent of allowing a dictator to remain in power after using WMDs;
  • part of Ukraine ceded to Putin, who remains one of the main interlocutors over the US-led Iranian nuke agreement talks (which the Iranians just violated without penalty);
  • and a teetering pause in Afghanistan after a contested election with the Taliban salivating as US troops prepare to bug out (after we traded 4 top terrorists for an Army deserter). 

Now this:
The U.S. Embassy in Libya evacuated its personnel on Saturday because of heavy militia violence raging in the capital, Tripoli, the State Department said. About 150 personnel, including 80 U.S. Marines were evacuated from the embassy in the early hours of Saturday morning and were driven across the border into Tunisia, U.S. officials confirm to CNN.
It's hard to imagine how things could be going much worse in all these hotspots.  Meanwhile, the US's fuzzy foreign policy has surely reduced the confidence and trust of our partners and allies around the world.  But this post isn't about reveling in failure to score points, as all these events are bad for America.  No, it's about confirming that blind arrogance sputtered by inept politicians trying to parlay past US failures (or media-fueled narratives of failure) into political victories does nothing to actually prevent bad things from happening once they get into power.  Photo-ops of politicians pushing reset buttons aren't magic. Words and deeds can and should come back to haunt those who use them just to get ahead or belittle opponents.

The president's current projection of nonchalance (going out fund-raising, drinking beer in pool halls, eating hamburgers and such) is no doubt a planned strategy, perhaps to show the world these terrible blow-ups are still beneath the level of alerting a US president.  However, the posturing has done nothing to solve the problems, while raising concern from the American people.  For any other leader it might be time to give a prime time address on foreign policy.   For this president it's not entirely clear whom he believes to be the main enemy.


Here's part of a statement from the guy who proclaimed that Obama had freed Libya:
He blamed the "freewheeling militia violence," caused by jihadist groups that have only grown in power since the ouster of former president Muammar Gaddafi, for creating an environment in which the diplomatic activities at the Libya embassy had to be suspended.
"A lot of the violence is around our embassy but not on the embassy, but nevertheless it presents a very real risk to our personnel," Kerry said.
Does the pottery barn analogy apply here?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aviation Update

Re MH17, the whole black box transfer thing was bizarre, almost something one would see in a James Bond movie where thugs hand over the boxes to the third world government rep...

According to a Kiev paper (if it can be believed), part of the deal was that Malaysian officials would give the boxes to an entity that Russia favored:
As part of the deal brokered by Borodai and a Malaysia delegation that included at least one member of the country's national security council, Malaysia must in turn hand over the black boxes to aviation experts favored by Russia to examine them.
Where is Steven Segal when ya need him? 

Meanwhile, the bodies are being sent somewhere in non-rebel Ukraine for identification.  No word on whether there will be autopsies to check for explosive residue and foreign objects common to missiles, which seems a necessary part of any investigation.  Then again, this isn't anything close to any usual investigation.

The US plans to release data supporting its missile theory sometime today, which will probably line up with summary views of some of the aircraft parts that seem consistent with missile damage.  The FDR/CVR probably won't show anything but a sudden loss of data anyway.  Everybody knows this was a missile. 

God be with those poor families having to go through this nightmare.


Further south in another war zone, word is out this morning that Delta has canceled all flights in and out of Tel Aviv Ben Gurion due a a HAMAS rocket that landed nearby.  US Airways also canceled today's flight.  And United as well.  Not surprising considering what happened in Ukraine, but also a huge victory for the terrorists.  Keeping commercial US flights--and the cargo they carry--out of Tel Aviv is both an economic and symbolic victory that can put pressure on Bibi's government.  No doubt they will try to land a few more rockets there if they can after such a swift retreat.    

BOTH WAYS   7/23/14

Is it just a simple public safety reason that compelled airlines and now FAA to ban commercial air carrier operations into Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv or something more?   Impossible to say.   Seems the decision as to whether to fly or not could have been made by the airlines.   Having it made by the government brings into play politics.

For instance, the interesting part of today's State Dept press conference was the spoxgirl's reaction to questions about it the ban.  She was pre-emptively defensive, lecturing reporters that there were no American tanks in Baghdad they were entitled to their opinions but not their own facts.   Her main talking point was that the ban would end should Israel agree to a cease-fire.

When pressed by Fox for a comment about Senator Cruz' allegation that it was 'economic blackmail' the spoxgirl mocked Cruz and urged him to check the facts, which are basically unknowable without access to internal inter-agency deliberations.

One could speculate that the administration saw and opening and took it, ie, they realized they could justify the ban due to the HAMAS rocket (despite Iron Dome), knowing it would hurt Israel in the pocketbook and possible given them leverage into forcing a cease fire.  They've been running cover on Operation Sharp Edge (or whatever its called) for weeks, puppeting the line about Israel's right to self defense while simultaneously trying to appease angry Palestinians with weasel talk in the process.  But John Kerry's alleged faux pax on Fox, where he complained about "a helluva pinpoint operation", ie, that's what was agreed to between the two, strongly suggests this ban is a retaliation.  At least one could speculate as much.    

GOOD GRIEF 7/24/14

Stories abound that the missing Algerian MD-83 has been found crashed, yet several observers are not convinced. The search resumes at first light.   There was weather in the area and reports are that the aircraft deviated, but without more info its pointless to speculate.  The area it supposedly crashed in is another war zone, this time with AQIM fighters.

As to the Israel-FAA flight ban, yet another brouhaha.  The president was asked about the safety of the area today by a CNBC reporter and proceeded to immediately defend himself over the political angle without even being attacked.   The State Dept admitted today that the decision was inter-agency, meaning it could have been political.  But it's impossible to prove.   Netanyahu was reportedly outraged, so Cruz has that going for him.   It seems to be one of those events where all parties can spin a political rationale and their opponents can't prove them wrong.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Clinton to Berger on bin Laden

Gotta watch the stuff trickling out of the Bubba R Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.  On a Friday doc dump the library released a handwritten note from the first black president to Sandy 'socks' Berger, his national security advisor at the time, expressing doubt about some intelligence on bin Laden.

The note was written several months after Clinton bombed some tents in Khost Afghanistan and an aspirin factory in the Sudan (1998), which prompted charges he was 'wagging the dog' to remove attention from Monicagate. 

For those who've forgotten, Clinton bombed the plant based on CIA evidence of traces of EMPTA in the ground outside the plant, a substance related to the processing of VX nerve gas.  What most of the mainstream press reports are conveniently ignoring is that the Clinton crew thought Saddam's WMD scientists were involved in helping bin Laden produce this chemical.

So here's the note:

What does it suggest?  And why were they unafraid to release it?  At the same time, they were afraid to release any part of the internal communications between Berger and colleagues Dan Benjamin and Richard Clarke in response--national security.

Well, since Clinton was referencing a NY Times article in 1999 it's useful to understand what Times writer Tim Weiner was saying:
The interviews also raise questions about key assertions that have been made by the Government about Mr. bin Laden. Senior intelligence officials concede that their knowledge of him is sketchy. ''We can't say for sure what was going on'' with him from 1991 to 1996 -- most of the years covered in the indictment -- one senior official said.
His Affluence Seems Overstated Present and former American officials and former business associates of Mr. bin Laden say he appears to control only a fraction of the $250 million fortune that the American Government says he possesses. ''Clearly, his money's running out,'' said Frank Anderson, a former senior Central Intelligence Agency official who maintains close Middle Eastern contacts.
Larry Johnson, the State Department deputy counterterrorism director from 1988 to 1993, said Administration officials had ''tended to make Osama bin Laden sort of a Superman in Muslim garb -- he's 10 feet tall, he's everywhere, he knows everything, he's got lots of money and he can't be challenged.''
Milton Bearden, a retired senior C.I.A. official who ran the agency's war in Afghanistan and retired in 1995, said the Government had ''created a North Star'' in Mr. bin Laden. ''He is public enemy No. 1,'' Mr. Bearden said. ''We've got a $5 million reward out for his head. And now we have, with I'm not sure what evidence, linked him to all of the terrorist acts of this year -- of this decade, perhaps.''
In other words, anonymous CIA and Justice people were telling the Times the legal case against UBL wasn't solid while former high profile intelligence people were downplaying his role.  At the same time Vince Cannistraro, another former intel guy, was telling ABC News that bin Laden might be teaming up with Saddam, while also allegedly telling lawyer Stephen Jones of Oklahoma City bombing fame that the government didn't want any foreign suspects in that case.  Richard Clarke, who was part of the communication with Berger on this event, once famously said UBL might 'boogie to Baghdad' if they missed getting him in Afghanistan.  No wonder Slick was confused.

The key phrase is obviously, "..the CIA sure overstated its case to me..".  So what 'case' does he suspect was being overstated?  This was after a PDB in December 1998 warning of al Qaeda hijacking an airplane to secure the release of members of the 1993 WTC attack and after the embassy attacks, so it's not like terrorism itself was being overstated, just the role of the players involved.

Reporters are assuming he meant CIA was overstating the importance of bin Laden but it's valid to wonder whether Clinton might have been asking a broader question--if UBL is not the 'north star' the CIA claims, who is?   It's hard to imagine how one New York Times article could prompt doubt about terrorism in general, Clinton seemed to be confused on the role of one guy in the nexus--bin Laden.

And that goes directly to the response, which was completely redacted. Keep in mind Clarke and Benjamin have never come off the intelligence that led them to recommend bombing al-Shifa and few if any in the press have grilled them about it.  Returning to Tom Joscelyn's link above..
"The consistent stream of intelligence at that time said it wasn't just al-Shifa. There were three different structures in the Sudan. There was the hiring of Iraqis. There was no question that the Iraqis were there. Some of the Clinton people seem to forget that they did make the Iraqi connection."
So Clinton was questioning the CIA's assessment of UBL, at least in private, while his own team was indicting UBL and making links between him and Saddam Hussein.  As late as 1999. 

Yet when Clinton gave Fox an interview in 2006 (where he wagged his finger at Chris Matthews), he seemed to be saying he did more than anyone to stop bin Laden:
CLINTON: All I'm saying is, you falsely accused me of giving aid and comfort to bin Laden because of what happened in Somalia. No one knew Al Qaeda existed then. And ...
WALLACE: But did they know in 1996 when he declared war on the U.S.? Did they know in 1998 ...
CLINTON: Absolutely, they did.
WALLACE: ... when he bombed the two embassies?
CLINTON: And who talked about ...
WALLACE: Did they know in 2000 when he hit the Cole?
CLINTON: What did I do? What did I do? I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still president, we'd have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him.
Now, I've never criticized President Bush, and I don't think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only one-seventh as important as Iraq.
Pretty feisty, but he admits his counterterrorism team knew about the threat from bin Laden in 1996, three years prior to the note.  Evidently he was still wavering in 1999.

But in the same interview he also told Wallace that neither the CIA nor FBI would 'cerfify' that UBL was behind the attacks, which supports the wishy-washy narrative and provides him some cover despite the CIA setting up a special office in 1996 to track UBL headed by Michael Scheuer (who has been very critical of the Clinton team on apprehending or killing bin Laden in the late 90s).  

It also ignores the aforementioned indictment of UBL in 1998 (mentioning a tie to Iraq then updated to remove ties) and KSM.  Yet here's Slick still questioning the CIA's assessment of UBL's role in global terror in 1999.  Strange.

Could it impact Hillary! 2016?  Only if anyone asks.  Clintonistas might reply that it shows Bill was solidly focused on terrorism but wasn't sure about the intelligence on UBL due to some wishy-washyness at the CIA. Here's a comedic example of how an international news site handled it:
In one file referencing bin Laden, Clinton urgently asked his top national security aide whether the CIA overstated the involvement of the terrorist leader in the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Yes that's it, an 'urgent' Clinton was seeking 'extra' information in his quest for the terror leader. By the way, the indictment was in 1998 as indicated above in this post, not after April 1999 as in the story.  Now here's a biased domestic site:
Wait, there's very little coverage in the mainstream press other than a stock AP story.   Which by the way is the one quoted above in the international news site.  The Washington Post ran that stock AP story.  The New York Times, itself mentioned in the release, ran an in-house version of the story that said less than AP.  Did the AP intentionally report the indictment as after the note?   Moving it makes it appear Slick was more engaged or even indicted UBL based on the redacted reply from Berger.  Reality makes him look confused and less engaged.  Josh Gerstein explains as well.   

Aides, if anyone asks, may also argue the note explains his cruise missile flop in 1998, ie, it wasn't wagging the dog, it was the CIA overstating the case--or in other words, he was wondering if he was on the right target or whether someone else was running the terror show.   Those goofballs at CIA!   They could then claim that the response from Berger to Clinton, which nobody in public is allowed to see but they know, but can only summarize in general, was that no, the CIA did not overstate the status of UBL, he was still the top dog.  And Clinton, with his question answered, strapped on his cape and pressed forward in his relentless war against bin Laden, unlike Bush who "ignored" his own August 2001 PDB (heavily covered by the press for some reason) that led to 9/11.  They always have a ready answer that satisfies the baby bird press.

Perhaps more interesting than all the finger pointing and blame shifting is the reminder in the 1999 Times story of anniversaries.  The African embassy bombings of 1998 occurred exactly 8 years to the day after US forces entered Saudi Arabia to begin Operation Desert Shield to protect that country from Saddam's forces in Kuwait.  Add to that, in February 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed on the anniversary of the day celebrated in Kuwait as 'liberation day' (2/26/91) from Saddam's forces, and September 11, 1990 was the day when president George HW Bush first called for a "New World Order" in a speech declaring that Saddam's invasion of Kuwait would not stand.  Even this past week the shoot-down of MH17 occurred on the 18th anniversary of TWA800, although the CIA said there was "not a missile" involved in that one. Terrorists do love their anniversaries.   And yes, this post is too long. Nobody cares anymore. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Iran Nuke Update

The ultimate Friday document dump...
Diplomats say Iran and six powers have extended nuclear talks until Nov. 24 after realizing that differences were too big to reach a deal by the Sunday, the informal deadline..
Here's State Dept Spoxlady Jen Psaki being asked about her comments last year regarding consequences for Iran if they failed to reach an agreement by Sunday.  Keep in mind a bi-partisan group in the Senate was pushing a bill to enact sanctions if this did not occur...
QUESTION: Hold on. Eight months ago, you said from that podium, “If the Iranians don’t get to a yes at the end of six months, we can put in place more sanctions.” Is that not the case anymore?
MS. PSAKI: Well, look, I think, Lucas, our focus here and our primary goal is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We are going to let the negotiations proceed on the ground. There’ll be ongoing discussions with a range of senior officials, with members of Congress, and I’m not going to get ahead of that process.
So no, apparently that is no longer the case.  The new "deadline" is November 24, 2014, the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Meanwhile Bashar Assad just got "reelected" to a seven year term and Putin just helped shoot down a commercial airliner.  But according to State good progress is being made, or as WH spox Josh Earnest might characterize it, we are seeing more tranquility in the world thanks to administration policies.  

Aviation Update

The storyline of MH17 is becoming more clear as time passes--Russian-backed separatists fired a missile, probably aiming at what they thought was a Ukrainian cargo jet, and mistakenly shot down a 777.   No apologies have been issued and both sides are denying any role while blaming the other.

The NTSB and FBI have been dispatched to Ukraine but it's hard to imagine they will be able to get much accomplished in a war zone with the crash scene already contaminated.  Besides, the United States--through our Commander-in-Chief and Ambassador the the UN, has already announced it was a missile strike that brought down the aircraft likely fired by Russian-back Ukrainian separatists.  The FDR and CVR may provide some additional clues, mainly the CVR highlighting any crew discussions (if any) on routing or danger before the event, but otherwise it was a catastrophic event so the data will just stop.

The untold story now is not what, but why.  Getting to the why could be more troublesome and potentially cost more lives than the crash depending on where the West wants to draw their red lines on demanding an international investigation or imposing harsh sanctions.     

By the way, many of the conspiracy theories are insane.  They are comical beside any TWA 800 theories.  There are a few weird things though, such as the New York Times corrected claim that the Russian segment of the same Jet Route MH17 was flying was "closed" by Russia hours BEFORE the flight arrived in Ukraine. Actually, the airspace was closed below Flight Level 320, which would have been below the level the jet was traveling.  If indeed Vladimir Putey Poot's presidential aircraft had just passed this area on it's way from Brazil back to Moscow it sounds like the closing wasn't consequential or related.

The one thing that lingers in the air is Putin's rhetoric in reaction to sanctions on Wednesday...
Russia's foreign ministry dismissed the sanctions "bullying" and signaled that it was ready to push back. "We consider the new round of American sanctions against Russia as a primitive attempt to take vengeance for the fact that events in Ukraine are not playing out to the tune of the script of Washington," the ministry said in a statement.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in televised remarks said the sanctions are throwing Russia's relations with the West "back to the 1980s" and added that Russia "will have to pay more attention to military and security spending."

...sanctions that affect Russian arms companies (including missiles), followed by the shoot-down of a commercial aircraft on Thursday.  And Putin was apparently the one who broke the news to Obama during their phone call, as he was complaining about the sanctions.   So much for the reset.  So much for the flexibility.  So much for the 80s calling Mitt Romney and wanting its foreign policy back.      


There is another strange aviation story being overlooked right now, that of United Flight 201.  This was yet another Boeing 777 that made an emergency landing on the island of Midway.   Here's renowned ABC aviation expert (and former airline captain) John Nance on the event..

Full interview here

MORE  7/19/14

Talk about a conspiracy theory..  consider this story from the Daily Beast today (emphasis added):
Until now, Moscow has retaliated to U.S. financial pressure with sanctions of their own against U.S. officials, lawmakers, and even donors to President Obama who are linked to the gay advocacy community. Putin hasn’t always made the retaliatory sanctions public, but his government sought to respond proportionally and kept other issues out of the dispute.
So Vlad is making a point to target gays in the US supporting Obama, while MH17 was reportedly carrying over 100 people to an HIV/AIDs conference? Good Lord, is it possible that Putin, after his friends and weapons-making oligarch thugs were targeted by Obama, shot down the Malaysian Airlines jet to make a quiet statement?  And if so, was there any significance in choosing a Malaysian Airlines flight?  Could he possibly know something about MH370 that we're keeping under our hats?  Crazy insane, but Putin is crazy enough to do it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CNN's show on Flight 800

CNN's "Witnessed", timed to the upcoming 18th anniversary of the downing of TWA flight 800, was fairly well-done, particularly in the witness interviews (lived up to its title).  Too often arguments over these things are cold without regard to the victims' families, but this show brought that home. 

Still, the presentation didn't close any holes in the age-old narrative.  For instance, there was no scrutiny of the oft-repeated theory that the aircraft over-heated while sitting on the tarmac on a hot summer afternoon running the APU to cool the aircraft.  This was cited as raising the temperature of the airframe to over 100 degrees, which heated the fuel vapors, which were turned to mist by either the APU or in taking off.  That's basically the only way the spark theory works.

So there's a kind of conventional wisdom that it was a particularly hot day.  Yet here are the weather observations from JFK on July 17, 1996:
5:51 PM 84.9 °F
6:51 PM 82.9 °F
7:51 PM 82.0 °F
8:51 PM 80.1 °F
Not exactly a heat wave.  And good grief, if temperatures in the mid 80s are hot enough to cause a fuel tank explosion then airplanes at Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix should have been exploding with some regularity.  Even St. Louis, where TWA had a hub, gets a lot hotter.  Yet flight 800 was the first jet aircraft to blow up in flight in the history of the modern jet age.  Not to say it couldn't be the first based on a series of bad circumstances, just odd.   Calling attention to an 86 degree day in New York in July is also odd. 

Another irritant was the interview with Mr. Goglia.  His dismissal of all the witnesses, especially the testimony of the Eastwind Airlines pilot who saw the whole sequence right out his front windshield, was curious, since the pilot says he did NOT see a missile.  But apparently since the pilot didn't see the aircraft rise thousands of feet like the unofficial CIA video (commissioned by the FBI without blessing by the NTSB) showed--and Mr. Goglia seemed to be supporting--his testimony was deemed unreliable.  Too bad there's not a video out there to put this all to rest.  

Finally, Mr. Panetta.  It was a little strange to see him, a political person, interviewed.  Major Clinton political figures have been reluctant to discuss this crash, even in their memoirs.  So it was good to see him.   Perhaps CNN could have asked why, if president Clinton was as he says ready to retaliate strongly should evidence have pointed to states or terrorists why he had not (and never did) responded to the Khobar Towers attack just a month earlier?  Or the terror attack on our Riyadh barracks in late 1995?   Had the attack been tied to Saddam Hussein would he have invaded that country?  How about Iran?  Follow-up questions never asked. 

CNN could have also asked him why Bill Clinton placed Al Gore on an aviation safety committee only a month after flight 800 with the goal of studying how to prevent attacks on commercial aircraft.  A coincidence?   A question never asked.  
But the stranger thing about the Panetta interview is that he didn't exactly come off as a cheerleader for the NTSB/FBI storyline, preferring to say something like 'we may never know' (what caused the tank to explode) as if leaving the door slightly ajar. 

MORE  7/17/14

What can you say?   Condolences to all involved, even Malaysia Airlines.   On the anniversary of an event that everyone thought was a commercial aircraft shot to pieces by a missile we have this Malaysia event, which looks to be a missile strike.  This has been the sum of many fears for civilized governments for awhile, but it's happened.   Except this time it happened to an airline that is already missing another 777-200. 

Technically it's hard to point out much at this juncture based on the few snapshots of debris--it will be harder for the pros if the FSB-led separatists keep them out of the crime scene.   There's very little chance that NTSB will get the black boxes, but even if they did the data would likely show a catastrophic failure and not much else.  What needs to happen is a reconstruction just like they did with flight 800.   But the aircraft is lying in pieces in a war zone.    

As to any symbolism with flight 800, terrorists do like anniversaries.  But it's hard to see any links here, unless the Russians actually shot down 800.  No, if there's a conspiracy to boot it's not about what happened, which is pretty obvious, but why.  The president and EU just announced tougher sanctions on Russia on Wednesday the 16th, including Russian companies who make missiles and weapons.   Then on Thursday the 17th a commercial aircraft is shot down by a missile.   One could certainly take it as a message from Moscow.

But Occam's Razor might suggest it was an accidental shoot-down by a trigger happy separatist in an area where several military planes had just been shot down.  That analysis will become more likely when the passenger manifest is released and is unremarkable.   If there was somebody famous on that plane, ie, famous in a government or security kind of way,  it may get more complicated very fast.   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Political Chaos Theory

What's with all the chaos? Drudge has been blathering out link after link about the border problems for a week while the administration pretends there's no crisis whatsoever.  This government's inaction--especially from the Commander-in-Chief charged with defending our borders--tends to inflame the usual conservative suspects, while really jazzing the more extremist wingers, who are calling for militias on the border.

Then yesterday the Attorney General of the United States came out and suggested that any opposition to his performance and Obama's administration is probably due to racism.  He provided zero evidence, which is very unlike a lawyer.  But he didn't need any evidence.  And no, using the phrase "take our country back" is NOT evidence of racism.

He followed by saying that one of the things that keeps him awake is worrying about domestic terrorists, not just the Major Hasan/Boston bomber types, but the other ones--those dissatisfied with government. In other words, the ones displaying Gadsden Flags or talking about tea who may go to the border.

This after a lengthy news feast over the Hobby Lobby ruling and how it affected women.

Yet it's entirely possible that none of these things are coincidences.  Some perspective may be useful, from 2012:

"They gonna put y'all back in chains". The clip was reported far and wide in the mainstream and social media. It was bare naked identity politics with a racial edge, but it helped get the vote out that November. Obama wasn't without his moment--he famously told a Telemundo audience they should "punish their enemies", and he wasn't talking about drug cartels or al Qaeda terrorists (who were officially on the run back then).

This isn't to say the Democrats are manufacturing news stories, no, simply capitalizing on them.  Never let a crisis go to waste, but they have an impending crisis--a lame duck president at year's end. 

Historically blacks don't show up in the same numbers for the mid-terms as they do for generals.  This was the case in 2010 when Obama got 'shellacked' by those he now calls tea baggers.   But the Democrats need a big turnout from the blacks, Hispanics and females to keep the train rolling towards the change they believed in, a Utopian place where white folks' greed doesn't run a world in need.

Oddly enough the mainstream media has been hitting three stories very hard these past few weeks, each pointing towards those very same voter demographics:  women's issues, immigration, and now race.

Amidst this forest of towering strawmen, Fox host Megyn Kelly is literally beside herself.   She's a person that thinks methodically and logically, as do most lawyers, and has never been afraid to challenge Bill O'Reilly's occasional foray into populism or panderism.  She went after Nancy Pelosi's idiotic comments about the Hobby Lobby decision, or how "five men" on the Supreme Court are trying to take away women's contraception (at least she didn't say five "white" men like Harry Reid).

Kelly is right of course--Pelosi's argument shouldn't impress an either-grader much less a voting adult, but Kelly's audience isn't San Fran Nan's target.  Pelosi might be addled but she's still a skilled politician and likely knows exactly what she's doing and where her message is going.  Kelly should approach it from that angle. 

As the months wind down expect to see the media continue to churn the identity politics commode while continuing to ignore actual stories such as a potentially partisan IRS (and whether anyone ordered their targeting), the president's actions on the night of the Benghazi attack, the VA scandal, or a flagrant abuse of executive powers.  It can all be blamed on racist white men.  They are the ones with a stranglehold on the world while others remain in need.  It's really a win-win for the media because sex, race and immigration stories tend to sell better.

The right needs to understand this effort and react accordingly (which means sensibly, not emotionally). What are the odds?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Aviation Update

Another Boeing 777 involved in a weird story out over the ocean:
A United Airlines jet flying from Honolulu to Guam with 348 people on board was forced to land on Midway Island in the Pacific after a mechanical problem, the airline said. The Boeing 777 landed late Thursday at Midway, an atoll about a third of the way along the 3,800-mile route. The airline did not describe the problem.
Here's the Flight Aware flight path:

By several accounts passengers and crew noted a burning smell, prompting a return back to Honolulu, only to later encounter some 'haze' in the cabin that forced an immediate diversion to the closest airport--Midway.  Passengers mentioned a scary emergency landing.  But this kind of thing isn't uncommon in the aviation world, so why devote a post?  

Well, obviously the similarities and/or comparisons to MH370.  Right now they don't appear completely similar--obviously the transponder on UAL201 was operating all the way to the ground because Flight Aware was able to track the flight.  As far as anyone knows there was no report of any burning smells on MH370, but then again, depending on the Malaysian government for accurate information has been a fool's errand and more than a few transport pilots suspected a fire scenario.  Passengers on UAL201 also relayed anecdotal information from the cockpit crew about systems 'shutting down' towards the end of the flight.

Hopefully there will be more details released on what appears to be a heroic landing.  In the idle speculation department, if the problem that affected this flight also happened on MH370 it's possible that one crew handled the situation better than the other.  Obviously it could also provide another possible explanation of what happened to MH370 if a systemic problem is identified with the triple seven.

At any rate, diverting to Midway suggests something serious occurred or was feared in this incident. The island is remote and the main runway is only 7800 feet long.  Adequate, but well short of the two 12,000 foot runways at PHNL with full ILS for a night landing.  There are lights at PMDY but no ILS, which would have assisted an emergency landing had the island come under a fog bank or precipitation.  There are also a lot of birds near Henderson Field as the island is run by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, who oversee a bird sanctuary there.  Interestingly enough, none of the wire reports from the MSM mentioned this little factoid.

There are also no major mechanical or passenger services there, complicating a stop-over.  They couldn't even get the baggage off the aircraft, which at last check was still marooned on the island awaiting technical scrutiny.  The authorities and airline have seemingly dummied up so it's unclear who might be investigating other than United;  FAA?  NTSB?  FBI?  Boeing?  No official word.  But based on media reports of a 3 hour delay on the tarmac investigating an electrical smell in the cockpit before being cleared to fly one might think somebody other than United would be interested.

Also, it's unclear as to why they couldn't send a rescue aircraft to Midway to pick up the passengers and carry them on to Guam, their destination.  Instead it took them BACK to Honolulu, where they were put on another flight to Guam on another airplane.  The explanation might be a simple as aircraft positioning, but my, what an ordeal for those passengers.

This event might turn out to be a big fat slice of no big deal.  But in our current threat environment and with MH370 still missing it would be surprising if certain entities don't take some interest.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Side Tracks

I was never a punk rocker but this one seems to capture the spirit.  And there's a certain wisdom in it (especially as shown in the animation) despite the fruitless nature of the idea itself. 

RIP Tommy Ramone, aka Tom Erdelyi, the last original member of the band.  He was a Jewish Eastern European immigrant to New York, born in Budapest in 1952.  His parents survived the German occupation/Holocaust before escaping the communists and settling in a land that allowed their son to never grow up.  Here's some trivia about the name:
The band took it’s name from Paul McCartney, who had briefly called himself Paul Ramon, and went on to become one of the most significant members of the 1970s New York punk scene.
In his last years he was a member of a bluegrass duo.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Follow the Money

Age old phrase, but mostly true.  As to illegal immigration, most certainly true.

And if this story is true--it's too good to check--then 'follow the money' goes all the way inside the church and ends up in the pews:
Between Dec 2010 and Nov 2013, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Galveston received $15,549,078 in federal grants from Health & Human Services for “Unaccompanied Alien Children Project” with a program description of “Refugee and Entry Assistance.”
Last year, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth received $350,000 from Department of Homeland Security for “citizenship and education training” with a program description of “citizenship and immigration services.
Think about it.  We have a president in office who was sent from the Chicago political machine, a system where back-scratching occurs before people get up in the morning.  This illegal alien thing is the classic back-scratch win-win-win-win, etc.

The president wins by being seen as a compassionate savoir and hero to the left wing of his party, who wins by importing more potential voters that justifies growing the government bigger to support them.  The illegal aliens basically win the lottery by getting here and the largesse that comes with it, part of which they send back to their home countries as a sizable portion of their GDPs.  

The coyotes smuggling them win by getting paid by the illegals, part of which may include fine print saying they can be used to help the cartel once in America.  The cartels and gangs win by deluding the border and gaining a wider distribution network.  The Mexican officials allowing trainloads of illegals to pass unnoticed win by getting payoffs and the Mexican politicians win because they probably made deals with other governments to allow this to occur in the first place.

US business people win by an influx of cheap labor while unions win by a promise those workers will someday be unionized.  Republican politicians win by getting more contributions from business people to look the other way and allow their cheap labor.  US consumers win by the downward pressure on prices due to using the cheap labor versus higher paid citizen labor. 

And finally, certain US religious institutions, including the Catholic church, win by getting grants to help the new immigrants become productive citizens that will come to mass every week.

The only loser is the rule of law and the bedrock principles that built the nation. But those documents are old and yellow and besides, there were periods where commas should be so who really knows what the founders meant?  Didn't they talk about welfare? 

In other words, there's no way this problem is going to be solved soon.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sarah Palin, Obama and Headline News

There it is, right now on CNN's website.  The headline:
America to Sarah Palin: Enough!
Wow, sounds like an absolute rebuke. "America" is sick of Palin.  But (bold added)..
A majority of voters say they've heard enough from Sarah Palin, according to a new national poll. The NBC/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania survey indicates that 54% of voters say they've heard enough from Palin and would prefer that the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate be less outspoken in political discourse. That includes nearly two-thirds of Democrats, a majority of independents, and nearly four in 10 Republicans.
So 54 percent want her to move along, which means that 46 percent don't.  A majority, but 46 percent is also a higher figure than the president's current approval rating.  What are the chances of seeing a CNN headline saying, "America to Obama: Enough!" anytime soon?  Ever? 

This hilarious story isn't the only example of bias this afternoon.  There seems to be a sudden lack of curiosity about the children-are-dying-border-crisis story on the alphabet networks and most papers at the moment.  Why, because the president didn't visit the border?  Could they not even find any Tea Partiers trying to block buses?  When Bush didn't immediately visit New Orleans after Katrina the networks carried incessant stories suggesting he was insensitive and incompetent, even Fox.

Yet aside from a few whack-jobs nobody claimed that he had actually created the storm. Clearly this president has had a hand in erecting the "y'all come" signs in Central America (note to liberals, the signs aren't real).  Meanwhile our leader has been photographed drinking beer, playing pool, and fundraising over the past 48 hours and we get zip.  But the media is still mentioning children--the ones being killed in Gaza by the evil Jews.  Talking about hearing enough of something....

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Sorry O'Reilly, but you're wrong

On tonight's program he took a letter from a reader who corrected him about his contention on Monday that the current Caliph of IS (formerly known as ISIL, formerly known as ISIS, formerly known as AQ in Iraq), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was released from jail during the Bush administration.

Amazingly (or not depending on who you are), he doubled down on his wrongness, claiming tonight that he was released in 2004. 

He's probably confused between the two Baghdadis.  See, the first Abu Baghdadi was known as Abu OMAR al-Baghdadi, who was killed in 2010 before we won the war and left Iraq in victory.  The new Baghdadi is Abu BAKR al-Baghdadi.

BAKR was captured by coalition forces and imprisoned in Camp Bucca jail in 2005.  He was released to Iraqi custody in 2009.  Then released by Iraq in 2010.  Here's Mother Jones reporting it--and managing to blame Bush:
In 2008, while reducing the numbers of US troops in the country, Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government that mandated that all detainees be handed over to Iraqi forces.
In accordance with this agreement, Baghdadi was transferred to Iraqi custody in 2009, and by 2010, the Iraqi government (for a reason not explained publicly) had set him free. That same year, Baghdadi assumed leadership of ISIS. He has since been dubbed "the new bin Laden."
Yes, it's hardly worth comment to spend time knocking down their idiotic premise.  But to be fair and balanced, here's a Gateway Pundit story on the same thing, blaming Obama.

The true blame belongs with neither US president, it belongs with al-Maliki.  Knowing O'Reilly he was likely trying so hard to be fair to the president (so he'll get another interview) that he let it cloud the facts.  But facts are facts, and he reports only the facts, which is why he says he calls it the fact-or.  So we'll expect Bill's correction of his correction to the correction on Wednesday night...

Monday, July 07, 2014

Hola, Mexico

As the US Government continues to dump illegal aliens in cities and towns all over America (often without consulting local officials) this kind of push-back is patriotic and expected, but it can also lead quickly to blood in the streets. 

So, since we've been told by various people in the know that the bulk of the illegal border-crossers are coming from Central American countries south of the Mexican border one has to wonder why the President of the United States hasn't publicized any contacts with his counterpart in Mexico about this lawlessness.

After all, the Mexicans have pretty stiff penalties regards illegal immigration:
Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals. The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” violate Mexican law, are not “physically or mentally healthy” or lack the “necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents.
The obvious question from our president to Mexico's would be "why are you allowing those people to cross your border?" Seems pretty easy.

HT (JOM)  

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Aviation Update

Not much fanfare as this was announced..
The National Transportation Safety Board has refused to reopen its investigation into the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800, turning down a request from a group that believes the jet was shot down by a missile. 
Conspiracy theorists or those who generally don't believe that airplanes can climb thousands of feet without their nose may also notice the announcement was made after the departure of NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman and during the time of an interim chief, for what it's worth.

They may also note the dismissal admitted 1) there were problems with the FBI as to which agency 'owned' the investigation, 2) the CIA acted completely on its own in producing their 'zoom climb' cartoon, and 3) they have no idea why the Suffolk County Medical Examiner's office has never identified the cause of death of the victims.

The report also dismisses the contention that a dog-training exercise in St. Louis never occurred because the petitioners presented no new evidence to discount it.  The investigators used that exercise as a possible explanation for the explosive traces found on the wreckage. Ironically they've previously claimed the contamination could have also come from the boots of those recovering the wreckage out of the water, yet have never provided any conclusive evidence of such a thing.     

Meanwhile, there's some irony in an NBC News report of the event. Back in 1996 their fledgling leftist offshoot network MSNBC was just getting started and allegedly became the recipient of a bombshell tape from a civilian--someone peddling a video of what was purported to be the plane crash:
For hours the previous evening, Fox News had reportedly been involved in a bidding war for an amateur video tape of the 747 being destroyed by what appeared to be missile fire. When the electronic bidding war reached $50,000, Fox was eliminated from the process.
The high bidder seems to have been NBC and/or its new sister network, MSNBC. This makes market sense in that MSNBC had been launched just two days prior, and the publicity would have been well worth the cost.
Still, I say “seems” because my sources here will not speak on record, nor will MSNBC follow up on queries. Here is exactly what I know, no more, no less.
The video tale later became the theme of Nelson DeMille's novel "Night Fall", loosely based on the crash. But the video, presuming it exists, remains in hiding just like the Obama Khalidi going away party video. Nobody at NBC ever mentions it, nor does anyone in the media ask them about it.  The petition mentioned it though, which triggered this response:
The NTSB has requested that the FBI provide copies of any photograph or video evidence it may have. As of this writing, the response from the FBI is pending.
Pending?  Not "doesn't exist"?  Why would such a thing be pending if the plane was brought down by accident?  Seems a simple task to hand over any video or photographic evidence from a file.  Maybe Scully and Mulder still have it.  Not sure why the board would deny the petition outright without knowing whether any such evidence existed somewhere, but like the pathological information they referred to the ME's office, it wasn't their agency and they only speak for themselves.


Meanwhile, as TWA 800 fades into oblivion the mystery around MH370 deepens, which means conspiracy theories will rule the void until something concrete is discovered.   This video represents a very good summation of events so far..

This program introduces a few things not widely known to date. The first is that somebody on-board messed with the in-flight entertainment system. It's always been perplexing as to why there were no tweets or calls or anything from the passengers after the plane went off course. Does this fully explain at least part of that mystery?  

The second is the curious reaction of Malaysia Airlines operations personnel after the flight went "NORDO" (no radio). Such a thing is fairly common in aviation, where a flight crew will not check in on a new frequency after being 'handed off' between control facilities or sectors within such facilities. Protocol is to try to contact the flight on the last good frequency; call other aircraft and have them relay a message; or call the airline and have them try to communicate via satellite phone or ACARS.

Of course this aircraft also had a loss of transponder, which if both occurred in this country--after 9/11--would raise major suspicions and result in the scrambling of fighter jets. The interview with the Malaysian Civil Aviation minister was very weird on this point, him admitting that America would not hesitate to shoot down such a target but Malaysia considered the primary target as 'non-threatening' because it originated inside their airspace and they were 'not at war with anyone'. Very curious comments considering the threat of terrorism around the world.   Perhaps this laid back attitude can at least partially explain why no red lights were flashing in places they should have been.

In the same vein, the revelation that Malaysia ground ops told the Vietnamese the aircraft was in 'Cambodian airspace' when they first inquired may be weird, or it may not be. A supervisor later blamed it on erroneous flight tracker info, which makes sense if someone tasked with answering the question only looked at a projected flight plan, not actual tracking info.  That said, flight trackers would no longer be showing the plane, which should have been a concern for operations.  When combined with the Vietnamese saying they had never worked the flight after the handoff failed this should have raised alarm.

Yet despite such weirdness the show claims the Malaysians made the first AND ONLY attempt to contact the aircraft via satellite phone, without success (apparently).  Why wouldn't they keep calling?

Finally, the Malaysians themselves first admitted that Penang control center had lost contact with the aircraft after 2:30am.  The aircraft actually stopped communicating over an hour before. This discrepancy was discussed a lot in the beginning but still doesn't make much sense, especially after it was confirmed the plane turned west and flew right over Penang around 2:15am then out into the Indian Ocean. What exactly do they mean by lost contact? 

Side Tracks

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Birthday, Us!

Despite all our warts we live in the best country ever designed by mankind.   America is a good and noble country, and yes, exceptional in history.   And there should be no confusion over the intent of our Founding Fathers.  Our continued survival and prosperity depends simply on sticking to those basic principles, which any human being is capable of doing no matter their race, creed or ethnicity.    

Happy Birthday to the land of the free and home of the brave.

MORE  7/5/14

To some the above must seem overly simplistic.   Yes, there are serious problems in America but the above statements are unambiguously true.  Americans of any color and background can change America for the better, or revert us to our roots, because we still have the ability to revise and correct.

Still, some of the smarter amongst us prefer verbosity in making a point.  Or maybe it's just that some of us dumber folks don't appreciate their exteneded prose.  For instance, one can weed their way through this piece from Jim Sleeper on Salon on how much America sucks in 2014, beginning with a reference to mass shooters, reaching the end without really knowing exactly what he wants to do to correct anything.

Such fogginess requires picking out a few fragments in the story to get a sense of the writer's sense, considering this is a story that includes the phrase 'we are violent and filled with rage' and mentions 'public derangement'.  In other words, America is sick.   So let's peruse.

On guns and mass shootings (bold added):
We haven’t yet understood the shots fired and heard ’round the world from 74 American schools, colleges and military bases since the Sandy Hook School massacre of December 2012. These shots haven’t been fired by embattled farmers at invading armies. They haven’t been fired by terrorists who’ve penetrated our surveillance and security systems.
With few exceptions, they haven’t been fired by aggrieved non-white Americans. They’ve been fired mostly by young, white American citizens at other white citizens, and by American soldiers at other American soldiers, inside the very institutions where republican virtues and beliefs are nurtured and defended.
First, the over 70 number was inflated but he used it anyway.  Second, Salon showed the pictures of eight mass killers to accompany the story then Sleeper said "with few exceptions" they are mostly white. Of the pictures shown, only 4 are "white".  They ignored the Navy Yard shooter, the new Fort Hood shooter and several other recent shooters of color (yes some people consider Hispanics as white when it comes to shootings), which is odd and should be a red flag about the coming narrative.

On the formation of our government, bold added again:
The creation of the United States really was a Novus ordo seclorum, a New Order of the Ages, a society’s first self-aware, if fumbling and compromised, effort to live by the liberal expectation that autonomous individuals could govern themselves together without having to impose religious doctrines or mystical narratives of tribal blood or soil.
With barely a decorous nod to The Creator, the founders of the American republic conferred on one another the right to have rights, a distinguished group of them constituting the others as “We, the people.”
This is probably the most flawed premise of his entire article and will be addressed more at the end.  But in general he diminishes the role of religion and belief in a Creator in conferring those very rights of freedom to the men who were forming the new republic, pretending they conferred to themselves.  That 'nod' to the Creator was one of the most powerful statements in the Declaration, because they were acknowledging that man DOES NOT confer such rights to one another--they come from above--which is why they were setting up their new republican experiment to protect such rights, which naturally protected against one or more groups becoming all-powerful.

By the way, all through the piece Sleeper refers to 'republican' to explain away the horrors of 2014 America, as if maybe he wanted people to confuse the small-r with the big R for effect.

On terrorism:
Abroad, meanwhile, thousands more shots, fiendish and celebratory, are being fired into the corpses of American national-security and nation-building projects by terrorists and fanatics we were told had been decimated. These projects cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, limbs, homes and hopes, including those of American soldiers, contractors and idealists. Their sacrifices can’t justify retroactively what shouldn’t have been undertaken in the first place.
That's a pretty good jab at both Bush and Obama. It's also very popular now to say America should have done pretty much nothing after 9/11, mainly because these fanatics blinded by a certain religion (which he doesn't mention) have never given up on their barbaric causes and America doesn't like long wars. He doesn't say it, but maybe he thinks we had 9/11 coming due to our failed experiment. That would certainly justify the line of thought.

On economics:
A liberal capitalist republic has to rely on its citizens to uphold voluntarily certain public virtues and beliefs that neither the liberal state nor markets can nourish or defend. The liberal state isn’t supposed to judge between one way of life and another, after all; and markets reward you as a self-interested consumer and investor, not as a citizen who might put such interests aside at times to advance a greater good that self-interest alone can’t achieve.
This was picked out because it's true--Adams made the point over two hundred years ago that our republic was made for a moral and religious people--at least ethical--because that's the only kind of citizen that would protect us from eventual despotism.  And Sleeper does make a point later that religious Puritanism, although considered extreme, led to a restraint on unbridled capitalism that kept things together.  In other words, maybe there was more to this religion thing in the founding principles than he originally gave credit.

He goes on to point out our big foreign and domestic failures before sneaking into his final solution, again, bold added:
The question should prompt a quest for a political culture that isn’t too commercial and vapid and that isn’t held together only by demagoguery and delusion. No reconfiguration of today’s capitalism will be possible without something better than that. Yet no think tank, legislature or foundation can carry that quest or that reconfiguration to a just conclusion. Nor can an Occupy Wall Street that isn’t grounded in something deeper than its own noble effort to be the change it wants us all to make.
Nor can our “illness” be cured by champions of a new foreign-policy “realism” such as Robert Kagan, who urge us to face the inevitable challenges of a world where only willpower and force can sustain the liberal order that many Americans take for granted. That’s right as far as it goes, but it begs the question of where willpower comes from and what, within the liberal order itself, is sapping that willpower.
Well, it comes from the 'wellspring' of man himself, being divinely guided (whether he knows it or not) to live his individual life in such a way that upholds the republic.  Sleeper is looking only at men. 

He ends thusly (yes, bold added again):
In 2008, Barack Obama seemed to incarnate so brilliantly the promise of weaving our diversity into a new republican discipline — he even invoked Puritan and biblical wellsprings in some of his speeches — that many people ’round the world considered him a prophet who would satisfy their hunger for new narratives. Probably no national political leader ever can do that.
The narratives the world needs now will have to come from other prophets and leaders yet unsung. I do think that Americans will be strong among them, if only because we’ve had so much experience generating that hunger by generating the civic-republican-capitalist effort that has failed.
Congrats if you're read this far, or read Sleeper's essay. It was a chore, requiring two readings, yet wading through it all and boiling it down leaves this blogger with the same short summary posted up top initially. There's nothing wrong with the principles of America's founding or our founding documents--it's our ability to 'keep them' that is the problem.  Quite a bit of the problem with keeping them is rooted in a lack of faith, basic ethics and morality--as Adams so adeptly put it over 200 years ago.  Take all the shooters pictured in the article--and the ones not pictured--and ask yourself: how many were religious?   How many were dying for Jesus?  

As to the bold in the first paragraph above, "probably no national political leader ever can do that" after the mention of Barack Obama (and other men/women unknown) as 'prophets', this illustrates the disconnect for Sleeper.  No, Jim, there is no one man or woman on Earth that can lead us out of temptation or deliver us from evil.  And even the moral and religious can be sinful and tempted by power, if left to run things on their own.  That was sorta the point of building a republic in the first place.  They deliberately set it up to divide power and promote gridlock to prevent these Earthy "prophets" from leading us down a path to destruction.   Here we are today, 2014, with people criticizing the capital R-epublicans for saying no and preventing the prophet from saving us, but that's exactly as the founders intended.