Wednesday, May 27, 2009

After Six Months Off, I am Back!!!

I told everyone after the election that I would take some time off from the blog to give the new president a chance, and to let things cool down a bit. You can go back to the posts in early November and follow them through to validate this if you need to.

I gave it more than the traditional 100 days.

But when the absolute River of Bullshit began to flow over the Supreme Court nomination today I had to come out of hibernation. I won't say much tonight, except to tell you to do your research. We'll talk later, after everyone has done their homework.

I've missed each and every one of you! I'm looking forward to asking honest questions, and to having all of you help me keep only the relevant issues on the table.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I guess the Islamists aren't lovin' on Obama

CAIRO, Egypt — Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites.
The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahiri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.
In Al Qaeda's first response to Obama's victory, al-Zawahiri also called the president-elect — along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — "house Negroes."

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahiri uses the term "abeed al-beit," which literally translates as "house slaves." But Al Qaeda supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as "house Negroes."
TRANSCRIPT: English Translation of Zawahiri Message

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters' house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the latest message was just "more despicable comments from a terrorist."
The 11-minute 23-second video features the audio message by al-Zawahiri, who appears only in a still image, along with other images, including one of Obama wearing a Jewish skullcap as he meets with Jewish leaders. In his speech, al-Zawahiri refers to a Nov. 5 U.S. airstrike attack in Afghanistan, meaning the video was made after that date.
Al-Zawahiri said Obama's election has not changed American policies he said are aimed at oppressing Muslims and others.
"America has put on a new face, but its heart full of hate, mind drowning in greed, and spirit which spreads evil, murder, repression and despotism continue to be the same as always," the deputy of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden said.
He said Obama's plan to shift troops to Afghanistan is doomed to failure, because Afghans will resist.
"Be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them," he said.
Al-Zawahiri did not threaten specific attacks, but warned Obama that he was "facing a Jihadi (holy war) awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see."
He said Obama's victory showed Americans acknowledged that President George W. Bush's policies were a failure and that the result was an "admission of defeat in Iraq."
But Obama's professions of support for Israel during the election campaign "confirmed to the Ummah (Islamic world) that you have chosen a stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims," al-Zawahiri said.

Booming Pirate Economy Transforms Somali Villages

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia's increasingly brazen pirates are building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying beautiful women — even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food for their hostages.
And in an impoverished country where every public institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town.
"The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them," said Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Haradhere, the nearest village to where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in crude was anchored Wednesday.
These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia's violence and poverty: Radical Islamists control most of the country's south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging this arid African country into chaos.
Life expectancy is just 46 years; a quarter of children die before they reach 5.
But in northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

In Haradhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country's lawless coast. Businessmen started gathering cigarettes, food and cold glass bottles of orange soda, setting up small kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to re-supply almost daily.
Dahir said she is so confident in the pirates, she instituted a layaway plan just for them.
"They always take things without paying and we put them into the book of debts," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Later, when they get the ransom money, they pay us a lot."
For Somalis, the simple fact that pirates offer jobs is enough to gain their esteem, even as hostages languish on ships for months. The population makes sure the pirates are well-stocked in qat, a popular narcotic leaf, and offer support from the ground even as the international community tries to quash them.
"Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town," said Shamso Moalim, a 36-year-old mother of five in Haradhere.
"Our children are not worrying about food now, and they go to Islamic schools in the morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy."
Despite a beefed-up international presence, the pirates continue to seize ships, moving further out to sea and demanding ever-larger ransoms. The pirates operate mostly from the semiautonomous Puntland region, where local lawmakers have been accused of helping the pirates and taking a cut of the ransoms.
For the most part, however, the regional officials say they have no power to stop piracy.
Meanwhile, towns that once were eroded by years of poverty and chaos are now bustling with restaurants, Land Cruisers and Internet cafes. Residents also use their gains to buy generators — allowing full days of electricity, once an unimaginable luxury in Somalia.
There are no reliable estimates of the number of pirates operating in Somalia, but they must number in the thousands. And though the bandits do sometimes get nabbed, piracy is generally considered a sure bet to a better life.
NATO and the U.S. Navy say they can't be everywhere, and American officials are urging ships to hire private security. Warships patrolling off Somalia have succeeded in stopping some pirate attacks. But military assaults to wrest back a ship are highly risky and, up to now, uncommon.
The attackers generally treat their hostages well in anticipation of a big payday, hiring caterers on shore to cook spaghetti, grilled fish and roasted meat that will appeal to a Western palate. They also keep a steady supply of cigarettes and drinks from the shops on shore.
And when the payday comes, the money sometimes literally falls from the sky.
Pirates say the ransom arrives in burlap sacks, sometimes dropped from buzzing helicopters, or in waterproof suitcases loaded onto tiny skiffs in the roiling, shark-infested sea.
"The oldest man on the ship always takes the responsibility of collecting the money, because we see it as very risky, and he gets some extra payment for his service later," Aden Yusuf, a pirate in Eyl, told AP over VHF radio.
The pirates use money-counting machines — the same technology seen at foreign exchange bureaus worldwide — to ensure the cash is real. All payments are done in cash because Somalia, a failed state, has no functioning banking system.
"Getting this equipment is easy for us, we have business connections with people in Dubai, Nairobi, Djibouti and other areas," Yusuf said. "So we send them money and they send us what we want."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Special Ops Rescue American Hostage in Nighttime Raid in Afghanistan

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An American engineer held hostage by Islamic militants in Afghanistan was freed in a daring nighttime raid by a Special Operations team last month, a rare move in a country where hostages often pay ransoms — or don't come home at all.
A team of about 30 special operators composed mostly of Navy SEALs flew into the mountains outside Kabul on October 14 to retrieve the 61-year-old American businessman, killing his captors and returning him to safety after nearly two months in captivity, according to an account in the Army Times.
"In my mind I'd given a military intervention a one out of a hundred chance," the unnamed engineer told the Army Times. The Taliban have kidnapped aid workers and journalists in recent years, and aggressive crime syndicates target wealthy Afghans and foreigners for ransom money.
"These fellows wanted either blood or money, and they weren't getting it that way," the engineer said.
The captive, who has lived and worked in Afghanistan for eight years, didn't have much to offer.
"This guy didn't have any money at all. It was like a personal life mission for him to help others," said Bruce J. Huffman, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan.

Militants from the Hezb-i-Islami (Party of Islam) kidnapped the man and an Afghan business partner August 20 on a road west of Kabul, according to the Army Times. He was treated "reasonably well" and was even allowed four cell phone calls to his wife, to whom he passed information in English, which the kidnappers did not understand.
The Aghan hostage was sold for a ransom. The American hostage told the Army Times he tried to escape, breaking free from his padlocks and running for cover in the nearest house, but was quickly spotted and caught by guards he said were 40 years his junior.
But when the kidnappers left him in one location for a stretch of days, the special ops group choppered in, climbing thousands of feet toward a mud hut where the engineer was being kept, while a select team approached and killed the militants before they could fire back.
The engineer was helicoptered back to safety that night and checked out by doctors at the U.S. embassy.
"I was in favor of that, 100 percent," he told the Army Times. "I was very surprised, very amazed and very happy."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Marines Credited With Rescue at California Motel Fire

Sunday, November 09, 2008
The Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — A half-dozen off-duty Marines who raced through a burning motel on Sunday warning sleeping guests that it was on fire were hailed as lifesaving heroes.
Everyone escaped the Americas Best Value Inn motel, including one elderly man who required oxygen after he was carried to safety by one of the Marines. The cause of the fire, which ignited shortly before 8 a.m., was under investigation.
Marine Pvt. Colton Oliver said he and two colleagues were walking along a second-floor landing about 8 a.m. when they saw flames and smoke. They rousted their fellow Marines and all six began knocking on doors and windows of rooms, urging people to leave.
"Everybody was out by the time the firefighters got here," Oliver said. "It's what we're trained to do."
Amy Amadito-Phelps said she and her husband and 14-month-old son were sleeping in a room near the flames when they were awakened. She said the Marines saved their lives.
"We were right next to a room completely on fire and we couldn't smell smoke," said Amadito-Phelps. "No fire alarms were going off. The only thing we heard was Marines banging on our windows and telling us to get out."

The Camp Pendleton-based Marines, who were on leave, were also staying at the motel.
"I'd call them absolute heroes," said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Pardi.
A pair of two-story, wood-framed motel buildings were destroyed and a third structure was damaged, said Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion. One firefighter was treated for heat exhuastion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why Some Conservatives will Vote for Barack Obama

Thomas Sowell, in his piece “Conservatives for Obama?” made the following statement:
A number of friends of mine have commented on an odd phenomenon that they have observed-- conservative Republicans they know who are saying that they are going to vote for Barack Obama. It seemed at first to be an isolated fluke, perhaps signifying only that my friends know some strange conservatives. But apparently columnist Robert Novak has encountered the same phenomenon and has coined the term ‘Obamacons’ to describe the conservatives for Senator Obama.”For the esteemed Mr. Sowell, whom I read a lot, and other folks who are scratching their collective heads over why Conservatives will vote for Obama over McCain in November, here are a few reasons for you to consider:

Reorganizing our National Security apparatus – Since the passing of the Patriot Act, America has restructured its intelligence and national security procedures to prevent another terrorist attack. Conservatives understand the need for surveillance methods to prevent another attack on the American people and our property; however, not all of them support the use of fear to systematically change the social contract between the government and the people regarding their civil liberties under the law. They would, however, support a reexamination of segments of the Patriot Act that would re-establish the proper bounds between government need and individual liberty.

Immigration Reform - Over the past two decades our borders have become porous and that lack of attention has threatened our national security. Conservatives understand that many of these non-documented visitors are hardworking people who currently serve in many important aspects of the American economy. It is neither feasible, nor in the country’s best economic interest, to seek to deport millions of people who contribute to our fiscal and social vibrancy as a nation. To do so would require creating a new agency of the national government with thousands of employees to implement this deportation policy. There are Conservatives who feel this type of reactionary policy is short-sighted and centered more on partisanship than in providing a common sense solution. For these individuals, a pragmatic Conservative stand would support a policy that will identify benchmarks to obtain United States citizenship.

Foreign Policy – To ensure a safe America, some Conservatives believe that the primary issue of foreign policy that has to be addressed by the 44th President of the United States is to rebuild a relationship of mutual trust between us and our international allies. America has lost its leadership position in the world over the last six years. This is not only damaging in the relationship with our allies, but also hazardous in our diplomatic maneuverings with countries such as China, Iran and North Korea. A Conservative approach would support a direction of foreign policy that is practical and pragmatic (i.e. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush). A foreign policy that uses diplomatic, economic and military assets to reach achievable goals on the international stage.

Healthcare – Millions of Americans can not seek preventative healthcare assistance to address the myriad of issues they face on a daily basis. These unchecked health concerns eventually become emergency room visits that help to drive up insurance costs for employers and employees covered under medical plans. A pragmatic Conservative platform would support the development of a voluntary universal healthcare plan that allows flexibility of services and allows for States to meet the needs of their citizens without burdensome and unfunded regulations from Washington, D.C. through our constitutionally mandated federal system of government.

The Economy and the War in Iraq – Under the reasons for establishing a new government, Thomas Jefferson stated that government is charged with protecting “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” of its citizens. A strong, robust economy falls under the heading of the “pursuit of happiness.” The U.S. has spent in excess of $100 Billion a year on a war that over seventy percent of the American people do not want, representing twenty percent of our annual GDP. Our current economic condition, with rising prices for everything from gas to food coupled with stagnant wages, has only provided a very few people with the ability to pursue happiness. A pragmatic Conservative approach would support a carefully planned disengagement of our troops from Iraq. The financial resources used to pay for the war may be used on a real economic stimulus plan that will be focused on re-training American workers and businesses to be competitive in the global marketplace.

Some Conservatives have finally realized, after twenty years, that national elections are too critical to waste on partisan rhetoric that does not solve any of the serious problems of our country. Government should focus on strengthening our borders, cutting our debt, and allowing the middle class to prosper by cutting taxes and reduce overall spending. Our elected and appointed officials should let individuals deal with the moral issues surrounding their decisions. Let's get back to the original idea that the Founders of this Republic birthed-- that Government should not mandate the extent of Individual Liberty.

Muslim Terrorists : Obama win a 'historic victory for world'

JERUSALEM – The Hamas terrorist group believes the election of Sen. Barack Obama is an "historic victory" for the world and an opportunity to change U.S. foreign policy toward engagement with America's foes, Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' chief political adviser in the Gaza Strip, told WND in an exclusive interview today.
Yousef, speaking by cell phone from Gaza, said Hamas is drafting a letter of congratulation to be sent tomorrow directly to Obama. He said the current draft of the letter praises the president-elect as "another John F. Kennedy, or great Roosevelt.""We want to be one of the first to congratulate him," Yousef said.

Hamas is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, rocket attacks, shootings and cross-border raids. Its official charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel. Just today, Hamas members took responsibility for launching dozens of rockets from Gaza aimed at Jewish civilian population centers.