Sunday, January 31, 2010
Is The Bus Warming Up for Holder?
Today on Fox News Sunday, Senator Lamar Alexander suggested it might be time for Holder to step down:
"Perhaps he should step down," Alexander said on Sunday morning.
"(Holder's) doing a better job of interrogating CIA employees than he is of interrogating terrorists, and he's not making a distinction between enemy combatants and terrorists flying into Detroit trying to blow up planes and American citizens who are committing a crime. He needs to go to Congress and say I made that decision, and here's why. And based on that perhaps he should step down," Alexander explained.
The list of grievances against Holder continues to grow. He's had a deplorable record thus far and his boss just can't be happy. It was clear things weren't going to go well back in September when he dismissed the default judgment in the Black Panther case.
Even before that, in August, Holder announced his investigation into an already investigated CIA regarding interrogations and don't forget the controversial release of the torture memos in April.
No, Holder has made lots of damaging decisions in his first year as AG.
Then came the decision to hold a civilian trial, in New York City!, for KSM which has now been almost unanimously beat down by the New York delegation and the American people. Dana Perino and Bill Burck have an interesting look at how Holder can save face on that call.
And on top of all that, the Abdulmutallab interrogation, or should I say, interview. He wasn't really interrogated. I mean, fifty minutes? Really?
And after fifty minutes he is charged as a common criminal rather than an enemy combatant and turned over to the military who could obtain fresh, actionable intelligence from him.
Jennifer Rubin points to this comment from Robert Gibbs this morning:
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined several opportunities on Sunday to say whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be tried in a federal or military court. “He will be brought to justice, and he will likely be executed for the heinous crimes he has committed,” Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union." “That you can be sure of.” But he dodged repeated questions by CNN host John King about whether the administration might shift the venue back from federal court in New York to a military court, finally saying that “The attorney general believes the best place to try him is in an American courtroom,” but not committing to that option.
"The attorney general believes..." As Rubin says, not exactly "the buck stops here" meme. It's all Holder's fault. The bus is warming up.
Obama has given folks their walking papers for a lot less.
As the 2010 elections creep closer, many are watching to see if Obama will creep to the center just a bit. I don't believe he will. But stranger things have happened. At any rate, rest assured that national security will be a key issue in the campaigns to come and Holder is a weak link on that front.
I, for one, don't believe any of Holder's decisions regarding KSM or the CIA issues were made unilaterally; I believe something so critical simply had to be made with Obama's input, or Rahm's, at the very least.
This back peddling on the KSM trial has got to make Obama testy, and even worse, if it ends up in Gitmo as a military tribunal, as it should have been in the first place, he's going to be in a tight spot.
My prediction? Obama will throw Holder under the bus, ramp up the Gitmo-tribunal option, and say it was all done in the interest of national security. He'll speak well of Holder, maybe even move him to some other diplomatic position, and act like he's only looking out for you.
I can smell the diesel fuel now.
(More at Memeorandum)
Saturday, January 30, 2010
"But I find that idea if not odious, at least odious enough to keep me from selling the rights."
Via NYT Arts Beat, here's why. Because Salinger said so:
I keep saying this and nobody seems to agree, but “The Catcher in the Rye” is a very novelistic novel. There are readymade “scenes” — only a fool would deny that — but, for me, the weight of the book is in the narrator’s voice, the non-stop peculiarities of it, his personal, extremely discriminating attitude to his reader-listener, his asides about gasoline rainbows in street puddles, his philosophy or way of looking at cowhide suitcases and empty toothpaste cartons - in a word, his thoughts. He can’t legitimately be separated from his own first-person technique. True, if the separation is forcibly made, there is enough material left over for something called an Exciting (or maybe just Interesting) Evening in the Theater. But I find that idea if not odious, at least odious enough to keep me from selling the rights.
Transcript of the letter is here.
I tend to agree. It sort of reminds me of Harper Lee who is very insistent that the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird is the only one that will be. She was so involved in the process of making the film and selection of Gregory Peck as Atticus, and so pleased with the outcome, it would be a real crime if the movie were ever remade!
And Salinger is correct, I believe, in the strength of the written word with this novel.
Let it be.
The Dialysis Diary
Snow in Virginia
Is Obama losing The New Yorker? The title of this week's cover: "First Anniversary."
Military Evacuation Flights Suspended
The New York Times reports today that U.S. military flights to evacuate Haitians who need urgent medical care have been stopped. Most of those flights were taking patients to hospitals in Florida for care which have quickly become saturated and overwhelmed. Governor Charlie Crist, in a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, has asked the federal government for financial help in providing that care.
One can't blame Crist here. Florida cannot be expected to cover the cost for this care all alone.
One hospital, for example, has treated 117 patients, and they have established the "Haiti’s Children Fund to cover the costs of treating pediatric earthquake victims," reports The Times.
While the federal government is "reviewing Mr. Crist’s request for financial assistance" more and more Haitians will die waiting on the compassionate care of American hospitals.
One would hope that Obama would take control and initiate the National Disaster Medical System which could pay for the care of those injured people. The Times points out that some of those injured are American citizens. Some of them injured would qualify for Medicaid and some have insurance:
Some of the patients being airlifted from Haiti are American citizens and some are insured or eligible for insurance. But Haitians who are not legal residents of the United States can qualify for Medicaid only if they are given so-called humanitarian parole — in which someone is allowed into the United States temporarily because of an emergency — by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
We should hope that those same Democrats (and others) who were quick to blame Bush for the disaster in New Orleans would encourage Obama to take action in this case. New Orleans is an American city and thus the red tape easier to negotiate, however the options are still fairly clear here.
But, if the Obama administration isn't hip on covering the 9/11 health bill, why would they bother with Haiti?
Update (1/31/10): Via NYT:
The White House said Sunday it would resume a United States military airlift of Haitians seriously injured in the earthquake — some with devastating burns, head and spinal chord trauma, amputations and other wounds — to American hospitals. The humanitarian effort was suspended five days ago following complaints from the state of Florida that its hospitals were overwhelmed.
“Having received assurances that additional capacity exists both here and among our international partners, we determined that we can resume these critical flights,” Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.
Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Income Tax Edition
Putting depressing news such as finances behind us, let's get to the links.
Jules Crittenden has a post on the passing of J. D. Salinger and of Howard Zinn. Remember Jules, Harper Lee did the recluse thing, too. Thankfully, she's still with us. Yukio also makes note.
Gateway Pundit has Stephen F. Hayes with the most ridiculous statement from Obama's meeting with Republicans yesterday. Pundette has a round-up and summation of the appearance. Bride of Rove wraps it up with her eloquent observations and a final "I'm done."
Thank goodness the sheep are okay! Carol had me worried last week. However, Nancy Pelosi has not fared so well.
The Daley Gator makes note of the KSM trial being pulled from NYC. Baby steps. Professor Jacobson has an interesting observation.
Left Coast Rebel has penance to pay with Red. Avoid the banned words!
Reaganite Republican can show you what a Sukhoi Pak FA is...
Little Miss Attila is liking Mitt Romney these days.
Ruby Slippers has the skinny on the newly skinny Rush Limbaugh's fist-pumping skills.
OUCH! Grandpa John with a good catch. Speaking of the iPad, which I'll never be able to think of in the same way now thanks to Grandpa John, I'm not interested. Maybe later when it has some of the rather important things that it's currently missing. Donald Douglas takes a look.
How much booze is required to get health care passed? Snaggletoothie has an idea. Doug Ross explains even more - he posts on some high priced baby sitters. Speaking of booze, how about those "drunken White House parties"?
Not even college football is safe from The Hand of Obama.
Sandy tops the NFL "Who Dat" brouhaha with the perfect shirt.
Carolyn had a birthday this week! Happy Birthday to you!
The Desert Glows Green is teaching out of the comfort zone for some of his kids! I like it.
Jimmie Bise notes that there really is no honest global warming evidence.
WyBlog reports on Governor Christie taking on the education construction boondoggle. Fiscal responsibility, anyone?
Okay, I've got to stop now. It's nearly noon and I have to get moving. I feel like I haven't done anything yet today, but in fact, I've filed The Teenager's taxes and put bones on to boil for a pot of vegetable soup later. I've also taken a rock out of my labrador's mouth because he thinks rocks are appropriate toys.
Have a nice Saturday!
Friday, January 29, 2010
Don't Wave the Victory Flag Just Yet on New York Terror Trials
The Obama administration Friday abandoned plans to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Manhattan, following objections from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a senior administration official said. He will be tried domestically, but officials have not decided where. Options for the trial include a military base.
Other options may also include other domestic cities for all we know.
The New York Times reports:
By Friday, Justice Department officials were studying other locations, focusing especially on military bases and prison complexes, and no obvious new choice had emerged.
Begging the obvious, but what's wrong with Gitmo?
And even more obvious, shouldn't this have all just stayed in the hands of the military in the first place?
Ever the cynic, Allahpundit wisely wonders:
Exit question: Did Obama trade this concession for any congressional votes about closing Gitmo and funding a new prison? Someone call Mitch McConnell, quick.
I'm wondering what kind of pressure Eric Holder is feeling these days. Everything we learn about the handling of the Christmas Day terrorist reveals even more clusterfarks than one could imagine. Now this.
But somehow I don't feel we can rest easy on this one just yet.
Who Dat Owns Who Dat?
And now they might sue me, too, because I'm using it.
In letters sent to at least two retailers, the NFL has demanded that they quit selling items with the Who Dat slogan on it. They claim trademark infringement. NOLA reports:
In letters sent to Fleurty Girl and Storyville, the NFL ordered the retailers to stop selling a host of merchandise that it says violates state and federal trademarks held by the New Orleans Saints.
Among the long list of things the NFL says is off-limits without a licensing agreement are some obvious violations like the official logo of the Saints and the team's name. But the one that stands out is "Who Dat."
Today, Senator David Vitter has responded to NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. Vitter explains the history of "Who Dat" as follows:
"Who Dat" was probably first heard in New Orleans minstrel shows well over 130 years ago. Much more recently, but before it was used in connection with the Saints, it was used as a rallying cry by St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. In the 1980s it was adopted by Saints fans in a completely spontaneous way. Only later did any legal persons, including the Saints and the NFL, try to claim it through registration.
Perhaps more significant than this history, "Who Dat" has become part of New Orleans and Louisiana popular culture. For the NFL to try to claim exclusive ownership of it would be like me registering and trying to claim exclusive ownership of the terms "lagniappe" and "laissez les bons temps rouler!”Furthermore, Vitter has vowed to print his own t-shirts that say, "Who Dat say we can't print Who Dat?" on them.
Who Dat indeed!
Next thing you know we won't be able to say Geaux Saints, either.
|NFL claims ownership of Who Dat|
Thursday, January 28, 2010
No Support For 9/11 Health Bill from The House of Obama
Who thought THIS dog would hunt?
The Obama administration stunned New York's delegation Thursday, dropping the bombshell news that it does not support funding the 9/11 health bill.
The state's two senators and 14 House members met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just hours before President Obama implored in his speech to the nation for Congress to come together and deliver a government that delivers on its promises to the American people.
So the legislators were floored to learn the Democratic administration does not want to deliver for the tens of thousands of people who sacrificed after 9/11, and the untold numbers now getting sick.
Allahpundit is also speechless:Total cost: $11 billion … over 30 years. The optics of this are so appallingly bad, especially in light of the rumors circulating about the U.S. and UK offering the Taliban $1 billion to play ball in Afghanistan (which may be paying off), that I can’t believe there’s no ulterior motive. Is this actually some sort of kabuki aimed at giving Obama an excuse to reverse himself about the spending freeze?
Wow. That's all. For now. Just wow. Un-freakin' believable.
I wish some liberal would stop by about now and tell me why this is a good idea? Why they still support this clown? Anybody?
Thanks, James, But We Really Didn't Need You to Do That...
Maybe it's just me, but I think most people already knew that. When I went to the local Tea Party protest in November, I know people had been trying to call Landrieu's office to encourage her not to vote for Obamacare.
This is what I wrote then:
I had heard reports through the day from email and blog comments that the Senate phone lines had crashed, that the lines in Landrieu's offices were continuously busy, and even one story of a constituent, frustrated at not being able to call in, went to Landrieu's office and was ushered out by security and told that "Senator Landrieu is not in the office." The one person working in that office had gone to lunch and would not be back for an hour and a half.
So, really, we didn't need James O'Keefe to go in there and break laws to prove that Landrieu, or anybody else for that matter, was ignoring calls or constituents.
Meanwhile, O'Keefe has been ordered to reside with his parents at least until his next hearing. Horrors.
J. D. Salinger 1919-2010
They always kind of get into Catcher in the Rye. I'd venture to say that the profanity is what catches their eye at first! "What! The TEACHER is letting us read this?!" Prostitutes?! Underage drinking?! Wow!
From the NYT:
With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading “Catcher” used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.
But once we get into it, they start understanding themes and the bigger picture.
My department head, whom I really respect, loathes Catcher and can't figure out why anyone would want to teach it.
They are often disheartened to find there is no film version. I'll usually show Finding Forrester somewhere along the way, though, and note that the Sean Connery role in that film is supposed to be similar to Salinger.
I had been giving thought to passing on Catcher this semester and going back to A Separate Peace. Maybe not, now.
On "Interfering" With Phones
As you’ll see, an AP reporter who turned up on Matthews’s show this afternoon was apparently on the right track. According to a law enforcement source who talked to NBC, the point wasn’t to wiretap Landrieu’s phones. It was to figure out why so many people had trouble getting through to the office when they called to complain about the ObamaCare “Louisiana Purchase.”
Interesting. Not smart, but interesting.
Read the rest.
Rehab in Yemen
I hate to say something isn't going to work from the outset.
Yemen will begin building an $11 million rehabilitation centre for returning Guantanamo detainees in three months when it expects to receive funding from the United States, a government official said on Wednesday.
There are 91 Yemeni detainees left in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Washington suspended transfers to Yemen this month because of a deteriorating security situation in the country, in the throes of a crackdown on a resurgent al Qaeda.
But seriously, what could go wrong?
I Couldn't Watch
Instapundit has a wonderful round up of comments and commentary here.
I missed Justice Alito's Joe Wilson moment but Carol has the video snip here.
I'm so tired of Obama blaming Bush for what he inherited. Obama chastised Congress for acting like they were on a schoolyard and whining about the other side all the time, but he does the ultimate schoolyard ploy by constantly blaming someone else. Every president inherits something. And as The Anchoress points out, one could say, of course, that Bush inherited al Qaeda from Clinton who did nothing about it. It's time for Obama to quit pointing at Bush and saying "It's your fault!"
My overall take of the portion I saw was of a thin-skinned, defensive, and angry man who believes he is smarter and better than those around him. He was not presidential.
It's all very sad.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Michael McHale's Mysterious Statement on Louisiana Watergate
When Michael McHale of the Louisiana Democratic Party made his cryptic statement yesterday about Senator David Vitter having "ties to some of the players involved" in the arrest of four men for attempting to interfere with Mary Landrieu's phone system in New Orleans, I've been curious about what those ties might be.
I contacted McHale's office for a comment but received no response.
Arrested yesterday was James O'Keefe, Stan Dai, Joseph Basel, and Robert Flanagan (pictured).
Fox8 News in New Orleans seems to be on to something though:
Bringing the charges against the four men was Jim Letten, the U.S. attorney in New Orleans and a holdover Bush Administration appointee. One of four arrested Monday in the alleged plot was Robert Flanagan, the son of Bill Flanagan, a career prosecutor who is the acting U.S. attorney in Shreveport, La.
A week ago, President Barack Obama nominated Stephanie Finley for the U.S. attorney's post in Shreveport.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is blocking Senate action on Finley's nomination and Obama's other nominees for federal justice system posts in Louisiana until he hears from the White House whether Obama will let Letten keep his job, Vitter's office said Wednesday.
Vitter has not returned his blue slip on the appointment of a Baton Rouge federal judge nominee or for a New Orleans federal marshal job nominee.
Vitter appears set to hold his blue slips hostage until Obama confirms that U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, of Baton Rouge, can keep his job. Letten was confirmed by the Senate during the Bush administration. Vitter wants a promise or a reconfirmation of Letten, which as of yet, has not been granted.
About Letten, Landrieu said: "All U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and do not need to be re-nominated by the president or re-confirmed by the Senate to continue their service." She said Letten "continues to serve with my strong support."
It's a little reminiscent of the George W. Bush/Alberto Gonzales controversy in 2006. The controversy at the time was whether the White House and DOJ were using U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage. The defense used then was, of course, just what Mary Landrieu said: "All U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president...".
With regard to the current situation and Michael McHale's statement, McHale seems to be referring to Letten when he says Vitter has "ties to some of the players involved" as Letten was the one who formall brought charges against the four men yesterday.
Unfortunately, McHale makes it sound like Vitter may somehow be involved with one of the four accused young men. It's a bit misleading.
I'm sure McHale didn't intend for his statement to be so vague and I continue to offer him an opportunity to clear things up.
Correction: A reader corrects me: Letten is in fact from New Orleans. I misspoke and want to correct that! Many apologies.
More at Memeorandum.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Louisiana Watergate: Landrieu Makes a Statement
This is a very unusual situation and somewhat unsettling for me and my staff. The individuals responsible have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony. I am as interested as everyone else about their motives and purpose, which I hope will become clear as the investigation moves forward.
Additionally, the Louisiana Democratic Party has issued an odd statement in which they seem to implicate Senator David Vitter in some nefarious doings:
This is a Louisiana Watergate. Louisiana families are shocked and outraged that these men would break the law to carry out their political agenda with this Watergate-like break-in and attempted wiretapping. Given his ties to some of the players involved, Sen. Vitter should immediately denounce the actions of these four men and anyone who may have instigated, supported or assisted them. We call on U.S Attorney Jim Letten to conduct a thorough investigation and to prosecute any wrongdoers to the fullest extent of the law.
The "ties to some of the players involved" remains unspecified, however blogger Lindsay Beyerstein reports the following:
One of the four men arrested for allegedly trying to bug Mary Landrieu's office interned for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile. The following year, Robert Flanagan worked as a paid intern for Republican Rep. Mary Fallin of OK. His duties included "brief[ing] legislative staff on issues of national security and international relations." In the summer of 2008, Flanagan volunteered for Chris Gorman's campaign in Shreveport, LA.
The link to David Vitter remains unclear.
Politico points out that "There's no mention of wiretapping or "bugging" in the complaint or press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, and it isn't entirely clear what the foursome were up to." The affidavit only says that they were entering government offices under false pretenses. However, it also says that the four were entering "for the purpose of willfully and maliciously interfering with a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States of America." (PDF here).
That's pretty much the same thing as "bugging" and wiretapping to me.
If O'Keefe and friends are in fact guilty then they deserve to be punished as the law requires. That said, it doesn't negate the work O'Keefe did to expose ACORN for the fraudulent organization it is. ACORN was caught on tape attempting to help set up brothels and teenage prostitution rings, among other things. O'Keefe's guilt, or innocence, in this case does not absolve ACORN for their sins.
As they say, developing!
Funny Screen Cap of the Day
Michelle Rhee Raises Ire of D.C. Parents
In an interview with Fast Company magazine, Rhee said:
After the October layoffs of 266 teachers and staff, the union claimed Rhee used a budget crunch as a pretext for dismissing veteran teachers, since seniority rules don't cover cuts for fiscal reasons. "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee says. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"
Her comments naturally raised the ire of DC parents who want to know why she used a reduction in force issue to terminate teachers who hit children or sexually molested them.
Rhee now says, in an attempt to clarify her comments:
"Student safety is our highest concern," Rhee wrote in the letter, "and we have thousands of teachers, principals and staff members who share that commitment and treat our students with great care and respect every day." She added that the examples she cited in the February issue of "Fast Company" magazine "involved a very small minority of the teachers who were terminated in the budget reduction."
Even if it is a "very small minority" questions still remain as to how those cases were handled; were they reported to the police as required by law? Echos of Kevin Jennings, anyone?
D. C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray wants to know. He's given Rhee a Wednesday deadline to prove how those cases were handled.
Rhee, you may remember, is the fiancee of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson who has been involved in his own brouhaha with the AmeriCorps scandal. Inspector General Gerald Walpin was terminated by the Obama administration because he questioned a settlement made with Johnson over misuse of AmeriCorps funds.
Rhee, for her part, has refused to apologize for her careless remarks about the terminated D.C. teachers which has prompted the Teachers' Union to offer this response:
"In one blanket, accusatory statement, you have potentially damaged the reputations of 266 teachers in a way that disregards fairness and deprives them of an opportunity to defend themselves," he said in a letter sent Monday.
"Furthermore, your statement has created a public uproar and raises uncertainties about the integrity of all DCPS teachers -- not just those who were" laid off.
I'd agree that an apology is in order. Her response? That she basically didn't mean ALL the teachers terminated could be characterized that way and she had made that clear already. Apparently we were too dense to get that.
The old "smarter than you" defense.
No Love for O'Keefe in NOLA
One of the men arrested along with O'Keefe is the son of the U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan here in Shreveport. He was contacted by our local news station for comment but did not return their calls. He did, however, confirm to WWLTV in New Orleans that the Robert Flanagan arrested is, in fact, his son.
I'm curious why O'Keefe and friends thought it would be a good idea to tamper with a Senator's telephone. Even the most rudimentary among us knows that is a felony. What in the world could have been worth the risk. I don't want to speculate too much until more is known, but it does boggle the mind.
Allahpundit has the legal aspect here, in which he points out that O'Keefe and his buddies could be looking at ten years. Yikes!
Given that O'Keefe is already looking at lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Maryland over the ACORN sting, I can't believe he thought this would be a good idea.
I'll stay on the local angle and see what there is to be found. New Orleans isn't THAT far down the road....! Keep an eye on The Dead Pelican as well - you never know what Chad Rogers will dig up!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Can You Hear Us, Now?
As spring passed into summer, the scores at local Tea Party gatherings turned to hundreds, and then thousands, collecting along the way footloose Ron Paul supporters, goldbugs, evangelicals, Atlas Shruggers, militiamen, strict Constitutionalists, swine-flu skeptics, scattered 9/11 “truthers,” neo-“Birchers,” and, of course, “birthers”—those who remained convinced that the President was a Muslim double agent born in Kenya.
Which one of those stereotypes means "hard-working, middle class American conservative"?
Ben McGrath is the author of the piece and after chronicling the oddities of the past decade, to include the collapse of Detroit and Wall Street, the election of an African American Democratic President, and the "erosion of public trust in élite institutions," as well as possibly the strangest of all, "an obscure state senator who once posed naked for Cosmopolitan emerges, after driving a pickup truck around Massachusetts, as a leading contender to unseat the aforementioned President."
What's shocking? The part that Scott Brown posed naked for Cosmopolitan when he was 22 years old or the part that he drove a pickup truck?
McGrath contends that "American history is dotted with moments like this, when, as the Princeton historian Sean Wilentz says, “panic and vitriol come to the fore,” occasioning a temporary realignment of political interests."
You can read the rest of McGrath's summation of the Tea Party movement, including his opinion of Dick Armey whom he characterizes as "an absent-minded professor in cowboy boots," here.
Bourbon Street After "The Kick"
|Saints Video: Bourbon Street|
Via: The Dead Pelican
What Economic Recovery?
I just filed my taxes.
My business isn't very complicated; one W-2...it's all pretty simple. And I use Turbo Tax; hey, if it's good enough for Little Timmy Geithner, it's good enough for me.
Except this year I'm only getting back just less than one-third than I did last year. At the end of my calculations and entering of figures, Mr. Turbo Tax says, "Congratulations! Because of the Federal Government's Economic Recovery Act, you kept more money in your pocket this year instead of relying on Uncle Sam!"
I didn't feel any windfall in my take home pay this year. Seriously.
Maybe enough for a Starbucks Grande Latte once a month.
"Economic Recovery" my foot.
1. Advise and Consent, by Allen Drury
2. Midcentury, by John Dos Passos
3. Mr. Sammler's Planet, by Saul Bellow
4. The Time It Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton
5. The Thanatos Syndrome, by Walker Percy
6. The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe
7. Shelley's Heart, by Charles McCarry
8. Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
9. Freddy and Fredericka, by Mark Helprin
10. No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
I haven't read a single one of them. No, not even The Bonfire of the Vanities. That one, and No Country for Old Men, are the only two I've ever even heard of. Anybody read any of these? Your reviews are appreciated. There's a discussion at John J. Miller's place here.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
The Dead Pelican Celebrates!
The Dead Pelican has gone black and gold! Awesome!
Honey, You'll Never Guess What Happened at the Museum Today...
On Friday afternoon a woman taking an adult education class at the Metropolitan Museum of Art accidentally lost her balance and fell into “The Actor,” a rare Rose Period Picasso, tearing the canvas about six inches along its lower right-hand corner.
No word as to whether the "You Break It, You Buy It" rule was in effect.
Laugh of the Day
(H/T: Frugal Cafe Blog Zone)
The White House is evaluating whether to take a breather on health care or try to push for passing legislation, but is not convinced Massachusetts voters were trying to block health insurance reform by voting last week to send Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday.
Seriously? With Democrats outnumbering Republicans in Massachusetts by a margin of 3:1, and with a candidate who clearly campaigned as the 41st vote against Obamacare, they still aren't convinced?
Gibbs said that Brown may have campaigned on stopping the health care bill but that's not why voters elected him over Democrat Martha Coakley.
"More people voted to express their support for Barack Obama than to oppose him," Gibbs said.Delusional.
And these people are running the country.
A Look Back at Candidate Obama's Approach to National Security
In August 2007, candidate Obama chastised the Bush administration for taking their eye off the ball with regard to bin Laden:
We did not finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We did not develop new capabilities to defeat a new enemy, or launch a comprehensive strategy to dry up the terrorists' base of support. We did not reaffirm our basic values, or secure our homeland. Instead, we got a color-coded politics of fear. Patriotism as the possession of one political party. The diplomacy of refusing to talk to other countries. A rigid 20th century ideology that insisted that the 21st century's stateless terrorism could be defeated through the invasion and occupation of a state. A deliberate strategy to misrepresent 9/11 to sell a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.
Interesting. So in the one year that Obama has been in charge, what has he done to achieve this goal? He says we "did not develop new capabilities to defeat a new enemy...". What new capabilities has he developed? Talking to them? Extending the open hand? That's worked out really well so far.
He says the Bush administration did not "launch a comprehensive strategy to dry up the terrorists' base of support...". And Obama has? How's that new strategy working out, Mr. Obama? Drying up the terrorists' base of support? It doesn't seem that way when he continues to ignore the mistakes of the Bush administration and repeat them by releasing terrorists from Guantanamo to places like Somaliland, Algeria, Afghanistan and Yemen. With a recidivism rate of about 10%, I'd say that is NOT doing much to dry up the terrorists' base of support.
And what about that "color coded politics of fear"? Raising awareness of terror threat levels is not, or should not be, a political move. The terror threat levels were raised or lowered based on intelligence, not poll numbers. In Obama's case however, the lack of obvious concern about active terror threats, as evidenced by the criminalization of Abdulmutallab, or the failure to fully enact the HIG, does seem to work against Obama in the polls. His numbers are plummeting and his national security response, or lack thereof, is only one factor.
I wonder if Obama still believes that statement that we have misrepresented "9/11 to sell a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11." Given that terrorists from all over the world have us in their sights, I wonder if he still really believes that Iraq was no threat.
Obama lambasted Bush in that speech, saying that al Qaeda in Iraq "didn't exist before our invasion," but what about Yemen now?
Obama said, "When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland."
Yet bin Laden is still sending terrorists to attack us. What went wrong? Really, I don't think al-Qaeda cares a damn about "our values." And "securing a more resilient homeland" didn't seem to be anywhere on the radar of this administration when Eric Holder single-handed made the decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a common criminal without consulting anyone in the national security chain of command.
Amazingly, Obama vowed to strengthen our intelligence yet he has taken steps to practically decimate our intelligence community. His castration of the CIA has not served to "strengthen our intelligence."
I will also strengthen our intelligence. This is about more than an organizational chart. We need leadership that forces our agencies to share information, and leadership that never -- ever -- twists the facts to support bad policies. But we must also build our capacity to better collect and analyze information, and to carry out operations to disrupt terrorist plots and break up terrorist networks.
Has his administration twisted the facts to support bad policies? I'd say there are several bad policies in play here besides his war on the CIA beginning with the very decision to close Gitmo. Bad policy. Releasing dangerous detainees all around the world? Bad policy. Returning to a criminal justice approach to terrorism? Bad policy. Bringing terrorists to American soil for purposes of detention and/or trial? Bad policy.
What a difference it makes when you are actually president, I suppose. Obama spoke of eliminating illegal wire taps yet he supported the renewal of the Patriot Act.
All in all, I suppose things look somewhat different to him now that he's actually in office and has access to intelligence that he may not have had as a candidate. Given that, however, it seems he certainly should be tougher on national security than he currently is. Bin Laden released six messages in 2009. I don't think he's scared of us.
With bin Laden's promise that "God willing our attacks will continue" it is well past time for Obama to toughen up on national security and defense of our homeland. The handling of the Abdulmutallab affair was an embarrassment and a clear signal that the administration is not doing its job.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: Life Is Good Edition
On the personal front, my new laptop arrived this week and it's fabulous! No more Vista! That in itself is enough to make me happy. I can now log on and be online in well under the five minutes that was required of my Vista laptop (not just because of Vista, which is evil, but also because the processor was just too small). Steve wanted to get a Mac for me - he loves Mac Book, and I'm sure I'd love one too, but I'm just comfortable with my PC. Nothing like a super fast kick ass computer to brighten my day.
My new semester at school is going well and I love my new students. My own teenager hasn't given me too many fits (yet) this week, so I guess life is pretty good today.
Maybe it's a sign that the Saints will prevail in their playoff game this weekend. I'm not a big pro football fan; I much prefer the college level. I know there are some great players in the NFL, and my 85 year old mom loves to watch Petyon Manning. She loves to watch pro football. She quit watching the Dallas Cowboys when they fired Tom Landry and she's never gotten over it. And nobody loves the Saints better than my next door neighbor; he was a die hard fan even when fans wore brown paper bags over their heads to the games. I guess I'm pulling for the Saints this weekend!
That said, lets get on to the links:
I'm starting off with Doug Ross who made me laugh first thing this morning. That's always a good thing.
One of the first things I wanted to check as I was reading around this morning was the response to the NYT piece on Charles Johnson. I'm a relative newbie to the blogosphere and never followed LGF in the first place, so the whole blogwars episode with Johnson wasn't ever really on my radar. I first picked up on it when Stacy started writing about heavily a couple of months ago. Put simply, all I knew about it was that LGF was making a lot of my blogging friends angry. I knew that he took pot shots at Pam Gellar, who has never linked me and I don't know her, but I respect her work. I knew LGF was on Rush Limbaugh's blogroll, which was odd, to me. It isn't on there anymore, however. At any rate, the NYT piece does a decent job catching you up on the Charles Johnson episode, if you care. Pam Gellar's response is here. Stacy McCain's thoughts are here.
Troglopundit has found a new definition for "centrist."
Jules Crittenden reviews one of my favorite WWII books.
Hmpf. Al-Qaeda doesn't have a Twitter account. Professor Jacobson does, though, and makes note of action in Yemen. The Professor had a good week: his coverage of the Scott Brown election was great, and on election night, his live feed was spectacular! And heck, he even ended up with a mention in Day by Day!
Red has been to The Farmer's Market and shares nifty pictures!
Snaggletoothie quotes one of my favorite poets, and if you hurry, you can see a photo at the top of his page of a storm near him. He changes pics often, so hurry!
Pundette has a look at Obama's train wreck of a town hall yesterday.
Frugal Cafe Blog Zone updates the Haiti situation.
Fishersville Mike made me laugh; he's done some deductive reasoning on achieving victory.
Mary Baker has a really interesting post on Rick Perry, and she's in position to know. I found her perspective really informative. She's got another one here. Both are worth your time.
Ruby Slippers has Karl Rove predicting a "political earthquake" this year.
Another Black Conservative has a post on the death of Obamacare.
Carol at No Sheeples Here! has launched a new site just for her excellent photo shop creations. Be sure to check it out - Mako Snark. Nobody does better photo shop than Carol. But if that shark eats that little sheep, I'm gonna be upset!
I haven't had time to catch Glenn Beck's documentary, but Left Coast Rebel is tracking it and has some thoughts.
I was trying to ignore the dismal economic news this week, but Daley Gator reminds me. It's pretty grim.
Althouse has another look at the NYT pay scheme.
And Geaux Saints! I'll share this Rule 5 photo with you. I'm just linking to it, because Chad is pretty proud of finding it and I want to send you to him. Totally Rule 5.
And so that's it for now. Off to do some Saturday house cleaning. Rain is on the way today and I'm laying low. Have a happy Saturday!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Two More Gitmo Graduates
The Obama administration has reportedly transferred two Algerians from Guantanamo to their native country. Given the allegations levied against them at Gitmo, it is likely that the two are in Algerian custody.
There is no transparency with respect to detainee transfers. So, we do not know how the Obama administration decided to approve the two detainees for transfer, or what will come of them back in Algeria. Press accounts do not indicate if the two remain detained, but it would be surprising to learn they have been outright freed.
One of the two was implicated in al Qaeda’s millennium plot against Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in California. The other is allegedly a devout takfiri, who was plotting attacks against American forces in Afghanistan in 2002 and was also responsible for two attacks against churches in Pakistan that same year.That's via Stephen F. Hayes at The Weekly Standard. Read his whole post. These are not nice guys.
This is on the heels of reports yesterday that Republicans have introduced legislation "designed to restrict President Barack Obama's ability to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees back to countries that harbor terrorists."
From Deseret News:
The bill requires the president to certify before transferring a detainee to a foreign country that the country is not a state sponsor of terrorism, can control its own territory, has no areas that serve as a safe haven for terrorist groups and has no previously released detainees who have returned to terrorist activities.
Of course, the bill isn't really expected to fare very well. The the objective is to CLOSE Gitmo, you know. Planning and common sense be damned!
Given that Eric Holder made the decision on his own to turn Abdulmutallab over to the criminal justice system, I wonder if he's the only one involved in deciding which detainees get released and where they go. This, remember, is the guy that worked for the firm that represented many of these detainees pro bono.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
In Which Dennis Blair Slaps His Head and Exclaims "Duh!"
One of the findings of the 9/11 commission report was that the criminal justice approach to terrorism was a failure. Yet here we are again. After the Christmas Day terror attack attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab many of us asked, "Why isn't this man being held as an enemy combatant?" Incredibly, he was arrested, interviewed, Mirandized, and then he shut up.
Dennis Blair issued a statement after his testimony yesterday in which he insisted that the FBI obtained "important intelligence" in their questioning of Abdulmutallab. Really? I bet.
Stephen F. Hayes points out some absolutely incredible revelations from the testimony yesterday.
It appears as if Attorney General Eric Holder made the decision to treat this case in criminal court on his own. That's not really shocking. What's shocking is that he didn't seem to consult anyone else.
Our four top counterterrorism officials were not consulted: Janet Napolitano, Michael Leitner (chairman of the National Counterterrorism Center), Dennis Blair, and FBI Director Robert Muellar. It's incredible to me that Holder would make such a decision without even making the pretense of talking to these people.
Astonishing as that information is, it is only the tip of the iceberg. When the executive order was issued to close Gitmo, it also established a "high-value interrogation unit" (HIG) which was to make these decisions - that is, the HIG was to decide if a person is to be tried in criminal court or by some other means.
But the unit isn't functional yet. One year after the order to close Gitmo, the unit isn't up and running. What amateurs would make a decision to close Guantanamo without a plan or place to move those detained there, and no plan to process any that might need to be detained in the future? That unit should have been fully functional as soon as the decision was announced.
In the absence of such a unit, Holder makes the decision himself. This is the same attorney, mind you, who worked previously at a firm that represented several Gitmo detainees pro bono.
Blair's testimony yesterday included this mind-numbing statement (emphasis mine):
"Frankly, we were thinking more of overseas people and, duh!, we didn't put it then. That's what we will do now. And so we need to make those decisions more carefully. I was not consulted and the decision was made on the scene. It seemed logical to the people there but it should have been taken using this HIG format at a higher level."
Got that? Nobody anticipated having to deal with a terrorist in the United States, just ones overseas. Are you kidding me?!
Muellar believes that the decision made at the time was perfectly proper (emphasis mine):
"The decision to arrest [Abdulmutallab] and put him in criminal courts, the decision was made by the agents on the ground, the ones that took him from the plane and then followed up on the arrest in the hospital," Mueller told the committee. He also said: "In this particular case, in fast-moving events, decisions were made—appropriately, I believe, very appropriately—given the situation."
Given the situation? "The situation" is that this guy was on an airplane with nearly 300 people on board and tried to blow it up. How much more evidence do you need that he's a terrorist, or an enemy combatant? Did anybody really have to pause and think too hard that he might be associated with al-Qaeda? That this might be connected with the overall War on Terror? Oh wait - I forget. That doesn't exist anymore. Or, as Blair would say, "Duh!"
Mueller also testified that the FBI agents "interviewed" Adbudlmutallab. Shall we parse the difference between "interview" and "interrogate"?
If you go back to the etymology of the two words, interview comes from the French entrevue or the reflexive s'entrevoir, which means to see each other, or visit briefly. Interrogate, on the other hand, comes from the Latin interrogatus, which means to question, or examine.
To interrogate someone is a bit less friendly, in our context.
Nobody thought it necessary to interrogate Abdulmutallab, but we did interview him. Probably got him a cup of coffee, and sandwich, maybe. Definitely a lawyer.
It's clear that this administration learned nothing from the 9/11 commission or from 9/11 itself. This administration seems to be under the impression that the War on Terror is really over and that just because Obama was elected the terrorists don't have any interest in killing us anymore. Certainly they won't come to the United States; if anybody really thought they would then they would have been darned sure the HIG was in place for situations just like this one.
Instead, we have our heads in the sand.
Quick Links for Today
System Failure (Stephen F. Hayes)
Andy McCarthy's comments on yesterday's hearing before the Homeland Security Committee.
Bill Burck's thoughts on same meeting.
I wonder if this is one of those decisions Obama was referring to when he explained that Americans just don't understand. Because maybe he's right. I sure don't understand the decision to treat this guy as a common criminal rather than an enemy combatant in possession of valuable knowledge important to our national security.
Americans Just Don't Understand Obama's Decisions...Says Obama
Oh wait, it's not just me. It's all of us. The American people are too dense to understand policy. Got it. Gosh that'll save me a lot of time now. Now I can just wander aimlessly through life trusting the government to make all my decisions for me because I'm too dense to understand it.
The president said he made a mistake in assuming that if he focused on policy decisions, the American people would understand the reasoning behind them.
"That I do think is a mistake of mine," Obama said. "I think the assumption was if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on this provision or that law or if we're making a good rational decision here, then people will get it."
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
What Went Wrong? We Have A Few Ideas...
The first paragraph of the story is as damning as the headline:
What President Barack Obama needs most is obvious: a new political strategy — ideally one more grounded in the realities of governance than the one he embraced a year ago Wednesday.
Well, yes, he does. Yet even after recognizing this about Obama, John Harris and Carol Lee want to be sure you understand that Obama is still popular (he "scores more than fifty percent in most polls"!) and he still has power (his "party controls Congress"!)
I'd question some of Obama's star power right now, however. He failed to deliver for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts and he failed to deliver for candidates in Virginia and New Jersey recently. He failed to deliver in Copenhagen when he campaigned for the Olympics. The world's dictators are unmoved by him - Iran is still on track to produce a nuclear bomb very soon. Terrorists still want to kill us. Shall I go on?
What went wrong in Year 1? Start with the apology tours and the American president bowing to rulers and dictators the world over. Move on to the elitist, out-of-touch style he quickly adopted - a party every three days or so in The White House and we can't forget the New York "date night" that was on the taxpayer dime.
Let's not forget his appeasement of terrorists, his plans to bring KSM to New York City for criminal trial, his plans to close Gitmo despite no good plan in place to house or disperse those being held there, or his plan to bring those at Gitmo to American prisons. How about his slow reaction time to the underwear-bomber while he played golf in Hawaii? His failure to support those in Iran fighting for their freedom and dying in the streets for it? His embracing of what they believed to be an illegitimate election?
How about his attacks on the CIA that is ongoing?
What about Obama's snubbing of our British allies, among others? And certainly let's not forget that promise of transparency and all those negotiations that were going to be held on CSPAN. The American people are sick of the bribes and the back room deals.
Cap and trade? Let's not even go there.
I recall Don Surber's Fifty-two Days, Fifty-Two Mistakes post. He could do another one at the one year mark. (I'd link to it, but it's not showing up anymore.)
But back to Politico's original question, "What went wrong?" We could go on and on, but I think it's pretty clear that a lot went wrong. If you have to sum it up in 140 characters or less, I'd say Obama tried to do too much too soon - too fast. He leaned too far left. He broke some important promises. He's aloof, detached, and seems unable to speak without his Teleprompter. His cabinet is filled with tax cheats, crooks, and lobbyists.
Well, that was more than 140 characters, but the point remains the same.
Scott Brown's election last night is encouraging. He's not as conservative as some would wish, but he's certainly not as left as he could be. The ground swell that began with the Tax Day Tea Parties last year has continued to grow. People are speaking out and expressing their dissatisfaction with this far-left administration at the ballot box.
It will be interesting to see what they have to say in November.