Saturday, January 10, 2009

White Cracks 

My wife Lovely is toying with the idea of starting her own blog. I advised her against it, of course, but she keeps wanting me to giver her a "good blog title".

One of my suggestions for a good blog title was "White Cracks". She didn't care for it, but it provides a nice segue to this NYT article on trends in Cocaine use written by Charles Blow (insert stifled guffaw here).

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Friday, January 09, 2009

"C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president" 

NYT:

[If confirmed to the CIA] by the Senate, Mr. Panetta will be managing employees who are under federal investigation for participating in the destruction of videotapes recording the interrogations of two prisoners suspected of being members of Al Qaeda.
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Beyond that inquiry, Mr. Panetta is facing the prospect that Democratic lawmakers might establish an independent commission tasked with looking into the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, including the roles played by C.I.A. employees.

The number of employees who would be targets of such a commission is relatively small, and many within the agency were never comfortable with C.I.A. officers acting as jailers. Still, some experts said any public fact-finding inquiry could be perceived within the C.I.A. as a witch hunt.

"If Panetta starts trying to feed people to that commission, his tenure at C.I.A. will be over," said Mark M. Lowenthal, a former senior C.I.A. official and an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

"If it happens, C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president, but they are going to withdraw from taking risks, and then the C.I.A. becomes useless to the president," Mr. Lowenthal said.


What a hideously cryptic quote that is! Why would you say such a reckless-sounding thing in a national media interview? Coming from a "former senior CIA official" that quote almost reads like a threat.

Let's review the claims Professor Lowenthal makes in the above quote.

1. If Obama's CIA chief acquiesces to a "public fact-finding inquiry"his tenure "will be over".

That's a fairly threatening thing to read if you're Mr. Panetta. Lowenthal goes on to claim that

2. C.I.A. people will stop taking job-related risks if they must acquiesce to a commission, and this would make them "useless" to the President.

That's another strong thing to say about the potential behavior of the country's intelligence apparatus, especially during a presidential transition while our country is waging two wars.

Those are the two "positive" assertions Lowenthal makes. But Lowenthal makes a negative assertion as well. For some reason, the former senior CIA official says

3. If the CIA is forced to cooperate with an independent fact-finding commission, "C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president".

Precisely what sort of message is one to take from that line? Why did he say that? Is that a joke of some sort?

Why would you make a point of saying that the CIA would not "start plotting against the president" over a fact-finding commission? Is Lowenthal implying that something more than a fact-finding commission would get "CIA people to start plotting against the president"?

We've established that Lowenthal believes CIA spooks will render themselves "useless" to the President and end the tenure of the President's chosen CIA chief if the agency is forced to comply with an independent fact-finding commission. Fine. But the implication of Lowenthal's negative assertion is that perhaps something more than a commission would lead CIA people to start "plotting against the president". Perhaps if there were TWO commissions then some CIA people would start "plotting". That would be the tipping point. Or any number of other things. As it reads in the NYT, Lowenthal just makes the claim and leaves it to our imagination. All he does say (whether joking or not), is that the prospect of one independent commission will not lead "CIA people to start plotting against the president". Instead they will merely render themselves "useless" for the new President and end the tenure of the new President's pick for CIA chief. That's all. But they won't start "plotting" against him. (Yet?)

One more time:

"C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president"

A joke? A poor choice of words? A throwaway line? Or a threatening message? You make the call.

"Plotting" doesn't necessarily mean plotting to assassinate, of course. But that's what immediately comes to mind! When you read the sentence "C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president"*, you can't help but think of a group of spooks planning something very bad for Obama.


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* The mind is unable to envisage the "not". For example, if I tell you to think of a brown banana peel, you can't help but do it.

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Two million jobs destroyed in the past four months 

CBS Marketwatch:

The U.S. economy lost 524,000 jobs in December, closing out the worst year for job losses since World War II, the Labor Department said Friday.

Nearly 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, with 1.9 million destroyed in just the past four months, according to a survey of work places. It's the biggest job loss in any calendar year since 1945, when 2.75 million jobs were lost as the wartime economy was demobilized.

The 1.5 million jobs lost in the fourth quarter were the most in any three-month period since 1945.

The unemployment rate rose to 7.2%, the highest in 16 years. Unemployment increased by 632,000 to 11.1 million, according to the survey of households. That same household survey showed employment falling by 806,000 in December.


Throughout the middle period of the grand and glorious Bush II era, conservatives like Larry Kudlow waved the household survey numbers around, arguing that they were a superior indicator of true national employment trends, because the household numbers showed (temporarily) sunnier totals than the Labor Dept's official number. The Kudlows of the world said the household number better reflected the legions of self-employed "EBay" entrepreneurs who were popping up like mushrooms after Bush's "stimulative" tax cuts. It was "the greatest story never told." These days, you won't hear them mention the "untold story" of how the household survey best reflected the "Bush Boom". (If you think I'm making this up, you never watched Kudlow on CNBC. For years on end the former coke addict would say this silly shit on a near-daily basis.)

The report was worse than expected, with payrolls in October and November revised lower by a total of 154,000 jobs. November's loss was revised to 584,000, the highest in 24 years.

Bush gets to own whatever abysmal January number comes out, too. When the final net jobs totals of his presidency are calculated, they will be utterly pathetic. Bush took us into war, cut taxes, massively increased spending, had an historic housing bubble juiced by low interest rates... and yet, as I predicted, FAR FEWER jobs were created under his administration than during Jimmy Carter's four year term. I'll have to check the final numbers after revisions, but it's entirely possible that more jobs were created during one year of Carter than during eight years of Dubya. I'm not saying the Carter years were economically robust, but I'd love to have a conservative explain why the supply side "Bush Boom" was so bloody pathetic in terms of employment, comparing and contrasting the Bush numbers to the Clinton and Carter terms.

More on this a little later.

Soon, Obama gets to deal with this mess. I haven't said much about Obama recently. Some of his appointments have puzzled me (Hillary at SOS, for one, though I think Leon Panetta as CIA chief will prove to be an excellent choice-- he can cut the fat). I think Obama wants to avoid the incredibly frustrating growing pains that Clinton went through when he first came into office. For those that don't remember '93 and '94 clearly-- they were a real tough time for Democratic apologists. It was one flub after another regarding Clinton's appointments, and the media and the Republicans absolutely ran with it. The Clinton administration had high hopes and grand plans (read: health care reform), but it kept shooting itself in the foot with political mistakes. One after another. It was brutal. I think Obama is relying on so many "old hands" of the Clinton administration, because they've learned some lessons and have seen the mistakes that can be made with an incoming administration, and they have the caution and experience not to make them again. Hopefully.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

"I'm glad I did [the crime of the century]" 

Longtime readers of YRHT know I'm something of a 60's assassination buff. D sent me a link to an article on Lamar Waldron's new book, Legacy of Secrecy. In the past, I've highly recommended Waldron's Ultimate Sacrifice book, as well as John Davis' Mafia Kingfish. In my opinion, these historians understand that you have to go through New Orleans in order to get to Dallas.

The declassified FBI document quotes New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello saying "Yeah, I had the son of a bitch killed. I'm glad I did it. I'm sorry I couldn't have done it myself."

CNN clip here.

By itself, this FBI document doesn't prove that Marcello was involved in the assassination. But it's definitely an interesting piece to the puzzle. I look forward to reading Waldron's new book, which apparently deals with the RFK and MLK assassinations, as well.
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Here's a little slice of JFK that I came across last month. I'm not a knave when it comes to "Camelot", but you gotta admit that this is some entertaining history. Background here.

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Didn't Reid him very well 

There was a time, long ago, when I assumed that Harry Reid must be some grandmaster tactician, playing "the game within the game within the meta-game". I couldn't make sense of his plays, so I optimistically assumed disguised brilliance. Surely, in the fullness of time, the true scope of his successful grand plan would become apparent.

Surely.

Glad to say that I'm totally disabused of that notion, these days.

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Floating balls of Crazy Raspberry Ants 

Once again, Jeffrey seems to be ahead of the apocalyptic curve.


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"Just not real to me" 

In an excellent interview which will be replayed this afternoon on "The Mighty" (standard) WIST-AM 690am, Inspector General Bob Cerasoli discussed his interim report on City take home vehicles with radio host Kaare Johnson. The IG had found that about $750k could be saved if the City complied with an ordinance limiting take home cars to 60 (instead of the current 273).

Johnson played Cerasoli a quote from Mayor Ray Nagin (an accounting major, btw):

That is an outdated ordinance, and, to be quite frank with you, some of the potential savings in that report are just not real to me. I have looked at it. It has operation vehicles for permit people, it has City Council cars, it has district attorney cars. I just don't see how we get down to 60. But, there are probably some savings and we're going to look at that.

You gotta love that "just not real to me" line. You know what's not "real" to me, Mr. Mayor? You!

See, Ray, if I didn't shake your hand a year ago and have a brief one-on-one chat with you about the recovery*, I might start seriously questioning YOUR reality-- given all the wack-ass things you say, and how you seem to glide over your responsibilities, nonchalant, as if post-FF New Orleans is a dream to you.

I mean, Mr. Mayor, let's be frank, if you turned out to be a life-sized hologram controlled by Greg Meffert instead of a real human being... that would explain a lot!

Unsurprisingly, Cerasoli maintained his view that the potential savings are quite "real". He was amused at Nagin's claim that the city ordinance was "outdated", because it was written in the 50's when New Orleans' population was at its absolute peak, nearly double what it is today.

Cerasoli also said the most amazing statistic that he uncovered in his investigation was the total number of city government vehicles. I don't remember the exact numbers, but he said there were 3,000+ city vehicles and 4,000+ employees. Think about that. Or, better yet, find another city and calculate its vehicle/govt employee ratio for comparison's sake.

Update: But the most interesting thing, to me, was learning that the IG's office had completed their report on city crime cameras some time ago. But it is not yet released. Cerasoli wouldn't elaborate on why, but Kaare put 2 and 2 together and indicated that the Feds might be reviewing the information first, because there might be evidence of criminal activity or information to assist ongoing investigations... etc.

I think Kaare mentioned something about Cerasoli having called in from Massachussetts, where he was going to have surgery. So we wish Cerasoli a quick and speedy recovery, so he can return to his work soon.

Update #2: Cerasoli actually had two tumors removed from his neck days ago, and is waiting in Boston to learn whether they were cancerous or not.

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* I haven't blogged about this conversation, yet.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Simple answers to simple questions 

Gentilly Girl:

"I want Barack Obama to utter the word 'Transgendered'. Is that too much to ask...?"

No.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

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Why, Mary? Why? 

It's inarguable that Junior Senator Vitty-cent has widespread experience doing escorts, yet you chose Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Domenici to accompany you for your swearing in.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Let's show these prehistoric Massholes how we do things in Debristown! 

(Cross posted at First Draft.)

After deciding to close and sell a number of churches in recent years, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is now being held hostage. Parishioners in five of its closed churches are ... refusing to leave! That's right, they've decided to "occupy" some of the closed churches to prevent the Archdiocese from selling their longtime places of worship. Impudent scum! Don't they understand that these properties need to be liquidated to help pay for recent, ahem, legal settlements? Do they think the Catholic Church is made of money?

A front page article in today's New York Times describes the scene as a "Quiet Rebellion".

For 1,533 days, the group at St. Frances has taken turns guarding the building around the clock so that the archdiocese cannot lock them out and put it up for sale. They call it a vigil, but by now it is more of a lifestyle.
So what is the Archdiocese's response to these pesky squatters?

The archdiocese will not provide priests to most of the vigil churches, and it has removed most statues, altar cloths and sacred objects. It changed the locks at St. Frances in October 2004 but unwittingly left a fire door open, an error the parishioners call a miracle.

The archdiocese has not tried to evict the parishioners or shut off the heat and electricity.
They haven't tried to shut off the heat? Why the hell not? You can't wage spiritual warfare with wimpy half-measures. Where's that old tyme religious spirit? Cut the juice and turn those pews into human ice trays!

Many of the St. Frances holdouts describe being transformed from passive Catholics to passionate, deeply involved members of a spiritual community that they say could be a model for the future of the troubled Catholic Church.

Clearly, this rebellion is headed down a very disturbing path.

Since St. Frances has no priest, parishioners lead services that include everything but consecration of the host. On the Sunday before Christmas, about 50 parishioners attended a service conducted entirely by women, including two who distributed communion.
All women? What an abomination! You can't take the "homme" out of the homily without incurring the wrath of the Almighty... Torquemada their asses!

“The [vigils] can’t go on for infinity,” said Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. “These [vigils] have to end at some point, but how, I don’t know.”

You don't... know? Really? These rebels have been occupying your property for over 200 weeks and you still don't know how to end it? (Or is it that you "know", but don't have the will to do it?)

In any event, let the Crescent City show you how to sweep the riff-raff out of God's house.

New Orleans police evicted parishioners from two Uptown Catholic churches Tuesday, allowing the Archdiocese of New Orleans to reclaim the churches which parishioners had occupied around the clock for almost 10 weeks.

Police were instructed to arrest occupiers if they resisted, with Archbishop Alfred Hughes deciding "It's time to bring this to a close"
Now that's leadership! On the Feast of the Epiphany, some very very wise men decided to take action. They even got the police to saw down a 100 year old church door during their search and clear. Surely the Godhead is looking down on this, most pleased.

[P]olice and church officials had to force their way into Good Counsel [Church], sawing an opening in a side door.... novelist Poppy Brite and Hunter Harris Sr. were led out of the church in handcuffs and placed in a police squad car.

Throw the book at them!

[A]nother Good Counsel parishioner, Harold Baquet... also was removed in handcuffs and placed in a waiting squad car.

Baquet said he climbed out onto the church's roof to escape notice, but police found him there.
A rooftop manhunt? Awesome. The Archdiocese of New Orleans knows how to take action.







A similar scene occurred at St. Henry's Church, literally right next door to my daughter's school. While I'm glad my daughter was able to witness this historic eviction first hand, I only wish she could've seen the police drive over a protester's foot (as they did at Good Counsel) and heard the subsequent wailing. See, when Religious Leaders and law enforcement coordinate their efforts, shit gets done! That's a lesson my daughter can cherish for life. (New Orleanian of the Year, Karen "Gadfly" Gadbois can be seen in the background making trouble with a camera at the 1:11 mark in the vid.)

Again, the spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese said he didn't know how to end the occupation of the closed churches. The solution is obvious. Get armed cops to sweep them out. Have them crack some skulls to send a message to the rogue parishes, God willing.

I'm reminded of the great theologian Ralph Wiggum, who once said "The rat symbolizes obviousness." I don't know what he was referring to, precisely, but in this case we know who the rats are, and we know where they hide. The solution is obvious. It's just a matter of willpower. The New Orleans Archdiocese showed the fortitude to sweep the rats out. Now it's Boston's turn.

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Too many damn Nazi movies this winter 

But I might see this one, because Bill "dog will hunt" Moseley is in it. He plays crazed Doktor Heinrich von Strasser. Nic Cage makes an extravagant cameo, too.

Speaking of stormtroopers.

And speaking of dogs and stormtroopers...

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Another word for pirate treasure... 

Three Pipe Problem pulls the quote of the day from an article exploring America's recent "butt fling".

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Related: Even white boys got to shout.

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Congratulations Karen! 

A New Orleanian of the Year! Very well deserved.

Press on!

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Dirty Ash: not to be underestimated 





More here.

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Unexpected 

Brandon Darby, one of the founders of Common Ground Relief, is a government informant.
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Blood Bathory 

Four hundred years ago, some exceptional things happened.

Also some horrifying things. Andrei Codrescu wrote a novel inspired by "The Blood Countess" Elizabeth Bathory, who tortured and killed 650 virgins because she thought their blood would keep her skin appearing youthful.

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I hear a lot about the "benefits" of abstinence only education, but I don't hear much about the risks. Shouldn't we consider the danger of crazed, bloodthirsty vampiras who feast on virgins? It may be something to consider before thoughtlessly yielding to the authoriteh strukture.

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Thank you 

Many thanks to the Dynamic Duo of nolabloggers who came by yesterday and presented me with a thoughtful gift because I'm one of their favorite bloggers. That was very sweet. Plus, I got a chance to show off my historic Barack Obama victory plate.

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Also, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate E on a magnificent year of blogging at We Could Be Famous. Even more impressive is the success of his musical side project, MGMT. The Kids seem to like it. Deserved Fame is closer than ever!

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Facing South calls out progressives on Katrina 

link!

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"This woman has filled the vacuum of lawlessness in this city with something of her own creation." 

link!

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I lose 

I bet a friend that at some point in 2008 a conservative blogger would suggest that we hand out fake earbuds to street people, in order to mask the fact that they were talking to themselves. A cheap way to enhance human dignitude, or something.

Oh well. 2009 is another year.

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