Thursday, March 31, 2011

NBA Investigating Jay-Z


An NBA spokesman confirms that the league is investigating Jay-Z's presence in Kentucky's locker room after the Wildcats clinched a Final Four berth.

The rapper visited the players after their victory over North Carolina on Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J, home of the Nets. Jay-Z is a part-owner of the team and attended the Nets' 120-116 loss at New York on Wednesday.

NBA rules prohibit team personnel from having contact with players who are not yet draft eligible, and spokesman Tim Frank told the Associated Press the league is looking into it.

The investigation was first reported by

8ft-long shark jumps onto fishing boat

Three fishermen got the shock of their lives when a huge shark landed in the back of their boat in the Gulf of Mexico. Jason Kresse, 29, from Texas, and two crew members were fishing for red snapper about 50 miles out to sea in the early hours of Monday morning.

They were throwing fish guts over the side when they heard two big splashes and "all of a sudden something hit the side of the boat". It was an 8ft-long mako shark which, in a rush to start feeding, "ended up landing on the back of the boat". The shark was thrashing around so badly that the fishermen could not get close enough to free it and put it back in the water.

It died hours later, but not before doing more damage to the boat. The crew did not have a permit to catch sharks, so Mr Kresse contacted officials on shore.

Mike Cox, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman, said there was no violation because the shark's death was an accident. The creature is currently on display in Freeport, about 55 miles south of Houston. "I'm going to get a mount of it," the fisherman said. "A fish jumping in your boat, 400lb, that's unbelievable."

U2 - One - Anton Corbjin Version

Video: Former MVP Testifies in Bonds Perjury Trial The Associated Press

Video: Combat camera: Video of Belgian F16 bombing Gaddafi military compound RT

Threats From Mexico May Move to U.S. Littorals, Official Says

blog post photo

Despite plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, the Department of Homeland Security says that it now has a viable, sustainable, affordable plan for using a mix of technology and border patrol agents to provide security along the southern and northern borders. Note that I didn’t say absolute security—DHS and Border Patrol officials will be the first to tell you that perfect security along the border is a chimera not worth chasing, even with the addition of National Guard troops along the southern border. 

As a matter of fact, those 1,200 troops sent by president Obama last year are scheduled to leave in June of this year, to be replaced by 1,000 new Border Patrol agents. Speaking at a border security symposium Monday morning in Washington, David Aguilar, deputy commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection, called the National Guard deployment a “bridge” to growing the Border Patrol and getting new technologies in the field.
If the growth in the number of officers on the ground and the new commercial off the shelf technologies work the way the government envisions—leading to some high-traffic smuggling routes being choked off—Aguilar predicts that the problem will simply move rather than disappear, just as it did in the 80s and 90s from the Caribbean to Mexico as the point of transit north. Aguilar sees the next drug smuggling battleground being in the littoral waters along the Gulf Coast and along the Pacific coast. He said that the Department of Homeland Security is working through the Coast Guard to prepare for such a future.

But reducing drug smuggling, cross-border gun running, money laundering, and illegal immigration must come from some serious cross-border coordination said K. Jack Riley, director, RAND National Defense Research Institute. He said that Mexico’s “fractured law enforcement and security service” and “tremendous command and control problems” need to be addressed with more American help, but this assistance shouldn’t be relegated to technology transfers. 

Over the last decade the U.S. has done a pretty good job of helping Mexico with technology such as helicopters and surveillance systems, but what we haven’t done enough of is to “engage with them in institution building and capacity” development, in an effort to assist with programs the Mexican government already has in place to clean up and reform an often corrupt and ineffective Mexican police force.

Mexican officials were in Washington on Monday to defend the conduct of its war on drug cartels before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States. Mexico’s under-secretary for Juridical Affairs and Human Rights, Felipe de Jesus Zamora, squared off with representatives from 18 aid groups who criticized the conduct of Mexican security forces. 

While Zamora claimed that his government is conducting the fight “with strict respect for human rights,” Carlos Karin Zazueta of Citizens in Support of Human Rights told the organization that the war on the cartels is failing, since “violence, the murder rate and citizen insecurity have skyrocketed.” Complaints about human rights abuses by Mexican security forces have been well documented, and are something that the United States can help with, if it decides to focus on training, and capacity building.

Pic: National Guard

Posted by Paul McLeary

Report: PA's structurally deficient bridges worst in the nation

Report: PA's structurally deficient bridges worst in the nation
(Undated) -- A new report ranks Pennsylvania dead-last, when it comes to the percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient. The Transportation for America study shows nearly 27 percent of its bridges – a total of nearly 6,000 – have problems. Oklahoma is the runner-up, at 22 percent. Governor Corbett acknowledged it’s a problem, but said funding repairs needs to take a back seat to the budget, right now. "Are we trying to…find the funds for it? Yes. But I will go back, and you’ve heard me say it repeatedly: we inherited a $4.3 billion deficit that we have to resolve." The Republican wants to fund efforts through privatization, and blamed his predecessors for not acting to fix infrastructure problems. Governor Rendell disputed that take, saying he put a lot of effort into fixing roadways, beginning with 2007’s Act 44. "It was probably the most historic step in investment transportation funding in the history of the commonwealth," he said Tuesday. "We had a $400 million bond issue that I pushed through for our bridges, as you recall. Even before that $400 million bridge initiative, I tripled the amount of spending on our bridges from $250 to $750 million, on an annual basis." But the federal government rejected a key portion of Act 44’s funding plan when it denied a request to toll I-80. Rendell spent his final months in office urging lawmakers to pass a gas tax to fund infrastructure repair, but the initiative never gained momentum. He did, however, oversee over $1 billion in federal stimulus expenditures on roads and bridges in 2009 and 2010.

Written by  Scott Detrow

Obama Sends CIA Into Libya To Help Lame Rebels

You might have expected the CIA was already on the ground in Libya. Maybe so. But now the Obama Administration is at minimum using CIA agents in Libya to gather intelligence and coordinate with rebels. The New York Times reports British MI6 and British special forces are in Libya with the special forces calling in air strikes and tracking Libyan government troop movements.

Obama so far denies he wants to overthrow Khadafy and he's just trying to protect the civilians. So he's lying, boxed in by his desire to portray his foreign policy as less aggressive and more respectful of the sovereignty of other nations than George W. Bush's. Yet Obama does not want Libya to become yet another long running American war in the Middle East with lots of chaos and decay. Therefore he needs Qadafi's regime to fall - and quickly before his coalition falls apart. So, all his rhetoric aside, the US and its allies are going to help the rebels in more ways.

The Brits (who are running low on pilots for the air campaign) and probably the French as well are already using spies and special forces to topple Gaddafi. Plus, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will probably provide weapons to the rebels.

The US voted for a UN Security Council resolution that authorized the air war while at the same time disallowing outside support for either side in Libya. But now it looks like the US, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar will violate the the very Security Council resolution they are currently using to legitimize the air war. Is that cool, or what?

Hypocrisy in the service of what? The rebels are lame. In spite of impressive air support and capture of a number of tanks and Grad rocket systems, the rebels are once again in retreat, abandoning cities they had just recaptured yet again. With massive air superiority they can't even hold ground? Lame, lame, lame.

Remember when the White House was trying to portray the US role in the air strikes as minimal? As recently as March 19, 2011 Obama tried to portray US involvement in Libya as a support role which would not involve US troops on the ground. So he'll have to use mercenaries.
Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.
As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners.  And as I said yesterday, we will not -- I repeat -- we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.
If Obama sticks with that promise either the Brits and French will have to send in many more special forces or it is time for professional mercenaries to get paid to fight for the rebels.

Here is an incredible irony: By trying to avoid leading a coalition Obama managed to create the smallest coalition out of any US intervention of the last 20 years. His very attempt at multilateralism made the coalition must less multi.
President Obama has touted his emphasis on multilateralism in the U.S. military intervention in Libya, but — for political, operational and legal reasons — his “coalition of the willing” is smaller than any major multilateral operation since the end of the Cold War.
Half-hearted commitment to half measures leads to failure.

By Randall Parker

Obama Energy Speech An Epic FAIL

Three words were all that speech needed to be:
Drill, baby, drill!
Instead, we get exactly the opposite.
Our Lord and Savior Barack Hussein Obama lectures the American people on the need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil yet lays out a plan to do just exactly the opposite.
Obama went to Washington’s Georgetown University to outline what he calls a “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future.”
The president said his goal of slashing oil imports is reasonable, achievable and necessary for protecting U.S. economic security.
“When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day,” said Obama.  “By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third.”
In the words of Joe Wilson: “You lie.”
This is a regime that has done nothing to expand domestic drilling and production of coal, oil and natural gas, despite overwhelming evidence that we have bountiful natural resources. In the wake of the BP oil spill, all leases for any drilling in the Gulf of Mexico have been held up, despite an order from a federal judge to begin reissuing those leases.

In fact, the Obama Regime has looked the other way while the ChiComs drill in the Gulf, and now courtesy of Obama Himself, the U.S. taxpayer will be financing Brazilian oil exploration and drilling to the tune of $2 billion.
The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil’s Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a “preliminary commitment” letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas.
And, Dear Leader, after consulting the U(seless) N(itwits) instead of Congress and the American people, commits to U.S. military involvement in Libya to guarantee the free flow of oil at market prices — for Europe.
Billions for Brazil. American blood for Europe. But not one red cent for the American people.
Worst. President. Ever.

Experts in the energy field are questioning just what it is the regime intends to do:
Eric Smith, who is associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans, said the moratorium on new drilling imposed after last year’s accident, as well as new regulations, have slowed energy development, in spite of what the president says.
“He points to the things like an increase in permits for shallow-water drilling without making the point that shallow-water drilling does not produce oil, it produces gas. Deep-water drilling produces oil. He points to seven permits being issued. In fact there were six permits issued and these were only for wells that had been started before the impact of the moratorium,” he said.
The point is: all Obama cares about is pushing his green energy agenda: wind and solar coupled with electric cars and mass transit.

Typical of an elitist. Electric putt-putt cars can go about 40 miles before having to be recharged. Translated: living where you want to live and working where you want to work are a thing of the past. That in turn will force people to relocate to the urban areas to live near where they work. Then Obama and Ray The Hood can push the choo-choo on them. After all, one of their primary goals is to force trains, a 19th century means of transportation, on the American people.

Back to the future.
Recall this piece of Red State’s Erick Erickson that appeared in Human Events, which we linked to here, as to why the steep increase in energy prices is intentional and why Obama has no intention on doing anything to reduce them:
There are two reasons gas prices must go up.  The first is to get people into coal powered cars.  Coal powered cars can only be driven around 40 miles before they must be plugged back into the grid for more coal power.  If everyone moves to coal powered cars, the drivers will be forced to live closer to cities.
Living closer to cities will increase urban density and decrease the supposedly anti-environmental impact of strip mall exurban utopias.  In the liberal reorganization of society, only farmers should live in rural areas.
Once urban density is increased to European levels, then Barack Obama and the left can finally make a viable case for high-speed rail.  There are, after all, two things high-speed rail supporters admit they need for viability: (1) high urban density and (2) high gas prices.  Hmmm . . .
See, it is not a conspiracy on Barack Obama’s part.  There is no secret.  This President and those he surrounds himself with actively want high gas prices.  They either do not care or are oblivious to the fact that high gas prices will wreak further havoc on the economy.
And as we wrote, there may be an even more ominous intent: control of the people.
It also fits in with the global agenda of the U(seless) N(itwits). Something called Agenda 21. Sustainable communities. All centralized global planning aimed at limiting the freedom of liberty of the Great Unwashed to come and go as they please. The automobile gives Americans freedom. Crisis-created mass transit takes it away and puts Americans at the mercy of the central planners who can then regulate their every movement.
Remember what Rahm Emanuel, the former White House adviser recently elected as Chicago’s Mayor said:
Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.
It is a frightening concept to be ruled by power-hungry individuals who look at a crisis as little more than an opportunity to radically change America and in the process extend the powerful grip of the rulers over the people.

By The underground conservative

US May Give Arms to Libyan Opposition

Despite a UN arms embargo imposed on Libya, US President Barack Obama says he is considering a plan to supply Libyan opposition forces with arms for use against Muammar Gaddafi.

“I'm not ruling it out. But I'm also not ruling it in. We're still making an assessment partly about what Gaddafi's forces are going to be doing,” President Obama said on Tuesday during a series of interviews with mainstream US broadcast news networks.'


U.S. Offers $5 Million Reward in Murder of ICE Agent and Wounding of Another; Mexico Offers 10 million Pesos

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata killed in Mexico/ice photo
By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON— Federal authorities on Wednesday announced a reward of up to $5 million for info leading to the arrest and conviction in the Feb. 15  murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata and the wounding of another agent Victor Avila.

Additionally, the government of Mexico announced that it is offering up to 10 million pesos for information leading to the arrest in the case.

Meanwhile, the FBI and ICE have set up a 24-hour tip line in the U.S.

People in the U.S. can call the tip line at 1-866-859-9778. In Mexico, people can call +001 800-225-5324. Spanish language speakers will be available for either  number, authorities said.

Additionally, authorities said anyone can email info by visiting

The Mexican government has also set up a tip line: (55) 53-46-15-44 and (55) 53-46-00-00, extension 4748 in Mexico City and 01-800-831-31-96 outside of Mexico city.

Zapata and Avila were ambushed in Mexico on February 15 while traveling in their U.S. government-issued vehicle from the state of San Luis Potosi to Mexico City.

Authorities said that Mexican investigators have detained several individuals in the case and the probe continues.


by Danielle Canada While speaking with the press about her upcoming reality show “Braxton Family Values”, Toni Braxton also spoke on filing for bankruptcy not once, but twice.

As previously reported, Braxton filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and was reportedly $50 million in debt after previously filing in 1998.

Not shy to talk about her money woes, a brave Toni told HipHopWired and fellow press that she was ready to share her story with the world.
“When I filed for bankruptcy, I was like ‘I can't do it, I don't wanna be on the show, I can't put my life out there' but my sisters told me you have to tell your story because no one knows what really happened…Everyone knows I have heart issues, but no one knows why I have heart issues....

So I reveal my health problems that led to my financial problems…”

She adds,
“Even with the first bankruptcy, no one knew that my first royalty check was less than $2,000 so that's why I filed for bankruptcy…I talk about that during the show.”

Hague: 'No Immunity' For Gaddafi Insider

The Libyan foreign minister who has resigned and defected to the UK will not be offered any immunity from international or British justice, William Hague has said.

Addressing concerns over Musa Kusa's defection, foreign secretary Mr Hague added he had been communicating with the controversial politician over recent weeks.

"He has been my channel of communication to the regime in recent weeks and I have spoken to him several times on the telephone.

"His resignation shows that Gaddafi's fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within.
"Gaddafi must be asking himself: who will be the next to abandon him?"

More on guns to Mexico

Posted by David Hardy ·
The Latin American Herald Tribune has a story on Wikileaks' diplomatic cables:

The assertions appear in embassy cables written after three bilateral conferences on arms trafficking that took place between March 2009 and January 2010 in Cuernavaca, Mexico; Phoenix; and Tapachula, Mexico, respectively. 
The cables’ authors note that Mexican officials and politicians never hesitate to remind U.S. diplomats that Mexico’s drug war – which has claimed 35,000 lives in the last four years – is fueled by Americans’ demand for illegal drugs and by guns bought in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Yet one of the cables maintains that 90 percent of the heavy armament Mexican security forces seize from cartel gunmen comes from Central America.
The cable, which does not offer any particulars or supporting documentation, does acknowledge that the vast majority of the handguns and many of the assault rifles used by the cartels enter Mexico from the United States.
A message drafted after the October 2009 conference in Tapachula blamed the Mexican government for not doing enough to patrol the southern border with Guatemala.

“While there are 30,000 U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers on  the 1,926 mile Mexican/U.S. border, only 125 Mexican immigration officials monitor the 577 mile border with Guatemala,” the embassy cable says.
La Jornada’s publication of the cables follows revelations in the United States about a botched sting operation, “Fast and Furious,” that saw members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allow close to 2,000 weapons to be smuggled from Arizona to Mexico over 15 months.
Via PJ Tattler and Howard Nemerov.

AP Fact Checks Obama's Pretexts for Libyan Adventure

Posted by Van Helsing at March 29, 2011 10:43 AM
Even the moonbats at AP can smell a rat regarding Comrade Obama's justifications for going to war on behalf of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya. When he finally got around to telling us why he has started another expensive war, they went so far as to fact check his lies:
OBAMA: "Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone. … Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gadhafi's remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role."
THE FACTS: As by far the pre-eminent player in NATO, and a nation historically reluctant to put its forces under operational foreign command, the United States will not be taking a back seat in the campaign even as its profile diminishes for public consumption. …
OBAMA: "Our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives."
THE FACTS: Even as the U.S. steps back as the nominal leader, reduces some assets and fires a declining number of cruise missiles, the scope of the mission appears to be expanding and the end game remains unclear. Despite insistences that the operation is only to protect civilians, the airstrikes now are undeniably helping the rebels to advance. …
OBAMA: Seeking to justify military intervention, the president said the U.S. has "an important strategic interest in preventing Gadhafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful - yet fragile - transitions in Egypt and Tunisia." He added: "I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America."
THE FACTS: Obama did not wait to make that case to Congress, despite his past statements that presidents should get congressional authorization before taking the country to war, absent a threat to the nation that cannot wait. … Obama's defense secretary, Robert Gates, said Sunday that the crisis in Libya "was not a vital national interest to the United States…"
OBAMA: "Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."
THE FACTS: Mass violence against civilians has also been escalating elsewhere, without any U.S. military intervention anticipated.
Too bad the media didn't do much fact checking prior to installing the Manchurian Moonbat in the White House. Maybe it can redeem itself by figuring out his furtive motives.
The role doesn't suit him. Via the People's Cube.
On tips from the MaryHunter and ComradeNeotrotsky.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Video: Libya - World powers debate arming Libyan rebels France 24

The question of whether or not UN Security Council resolution 1973 allows countries to arm Libya's rebels is becoming more pressing as the rebel advance struggles to overwhelm Col Muammar Gaddafi's tanks and rockets.

Video: Syrian president fails to lift emergency laws Al Jazeera

Syrian President Bashar-al Assad blamed 'external plots' in his first speech since Syrian unrest began. Libya rebels lost ground.

The Known Unknowns of Libya

Daniel Greenfield

The Libyan war may be dumbest war we have ever stumbled into. It is a war where the Secretary of Defense has admitted we have no national interest, a war where we don't know on whose behalf we're fighting or why we're even there. A war that the White House did not bother to run by either congress or the American people, except after the fact. A war that appears to be fought at the behest England, France, their oil companies, and a motley collection of Libyan rebels ranging from former regime thugs to Al Qaeda. A week after launching it, the administration still can't get its own story straight as to why we're fighting it at all. According to Obama, he went in because he refused to wait for images of mass graves. Other things he refused to wait for were basic intelligence, stated objectives and congressional approval. It took us ten years to decide to remove Saddam, it didn't even take Obama ten days.

Was there any indication that there would be the implied genocide that comes with mass graves? Hardly. On Feb 22nd, Libyan diplomats began claiming in broken English that Gaddafi was committing 'genocide'. Since they had trouble with the language, it's an open question if they even knew what genocide was. And since Libya is an Arab-Muslim country and the civil war is fought between Arab Muslims, who exactly would Gaddafi be committing genocide against? The Tuaregs are the closest thing Libya has to a minority-- and they're fighting on his side. If there's a possible genocide here, it would be of the Tuareg people by the rebels if they win.

But if Obama was too afraid that there might someday emerge pictures of mass graves, why then did he oppose the removal of Saddam Hussein? Mass graves in Iraq are not hypothetical. And photos of them are available. Yet Obama who campaigned on his opposition to a war in which there were mass graves and in which every option had been exhausted after a decade-- now leaps into a war to avoid the possibility that he might ever have to look at photos of mass graves.

This isn't about Obama being too queasy to look at mass graves. If that were the case we would be invading North Korea, Sudan and the cartel run parts of Mexico. Gaddafi is not doing anything that half the Middle East isn't doing, and unlike our close ally Turkey, he's doing it without employing chemical weapons. We aren't in Libya because it's an extraordinary human rights situation, but because our decision making process has become a thorough and complete mess.

What kind of war is it, when a week after it begins, the NATO commander admits that he's examining the possibility that maybe we're actually fighting for Al-Qaeda. Our main enemy in that other war, which we're neglecting in order to begin a war on yet another front. The very minimal condition for any war should be to make sure that we aren't fighting on the same side as our enemies. The only condition lower than that would be to make sure we aren't pointing the guns at ourselves. A war where we can't do that is a very bad war indeed.

But don't worry. While we may not be sure who the rebels are yet, Obama has already proposed arming them. Or rather he's not ruling it out. Which is to say all options are on the table, except the reasoned and lawful ones.

Bad is the operating word in the UK, where RAF instructors are being rushed off to the front lines because of a shortage of Typhoon pilots, and with no aircraft carrier to deploy them from because it's been cut up for scrap, while the Royal Navy flagship is being put up for sale on the military version of eBay. If you're going to start a war, as Prime Minister Cameron has, you should be prepared for it.

But Libya isn't the kind of war you prepare for, it's the kind of war you stumble into. One bad idea mushrooming into another one. An error in judgement by world leaders escalating into a bombing campaign. The only thing missing is Peter Sellers trying to strangle himself. This is how liberals think all war happens, and so that's the kind of war they foisted on us.

European governments with Libyan oil contracts prematurely celebrating a rebel victory, only to see the rebel advance turn into a retreat, scrambling to save the situation by making sure that the rebels win. Before really figuring out who the rebels are. We are bombing Libya, not because of the specter of mass graves, but because key European leaders made a wrong guess about the outcome of a civil war and their political futures and energy supply hangs in the balance.

Despite our No Fly Zone, Gaddafi is still winning. Which means that now we have to get even deeper, to justify our original course of action. Now we may supply the rebels with arms and begin hitting Libyan armor. Then we'll have to start bombing armed camps. And if the rebels still can't pull it off, how many more steps will it take before we start sending the troops in?

The credibility of Obama and key European allies is on the line. The Arab League has already made sure to stake out positions on both sides of the fence. Russia is against it, except when they're sort of for it. China expects to benefit no matter what happens. It's probably the safest bet of any player in the game. Obama and Sarkozy have elections coming up, and they need a win. But their only possible Victory Condition is either Gaddafi getting on a plane or going in the ground. And the latter is clearly more likely to happen than the former.

It's not that Gaddafi is worth saving. He isn't. He isn't even worth the cost of a cruise missile. But it's doubtful that his replacements, most of whom either worked for him or think the Taliban didn't go far enough, will be any better. And what's worse is that we haven't done the due diligence to decide that one way or another. Our military people are just guessing. And they know that it doesn't matter. The politicians have committed themselves, which means that even if tomorrow Libya's rebel council were to appoint Osama bin Laden as its chief, some way would be found to rationalize and normalize the whole thing.

That's how the dominoes of stupidity work. Sarkozy and Cameron fall on Obama, he fingers his chin and tugs on his earlobes while pondering the NCAA draft picks. Samantha Power shows up eager for an opportunity to put her interventionist ideas to the test, with the promise of international support. Obama checks his calendar and decides that they can get it done while he's vacationing with his family in Rio. Imagine Will Smith filling in for Peter Sellers, and you get some idea of how ridiculous and poorly thought out this whole farce really is.

Libya isn't just an optional war, it's a war we began fighting before we even knew we were fighting it. It's a war that's being renamed even as it's being escalated. Odyssey Dawn sounds like an exotic perfume. What about Kinetic Military Action, it sounds like a feature for the latest video game. Anything but an honest admission that this is an undeclared war on behalf of the losing side in a civil war. The side we decided to choose before we even knew what that side was.

And that's the real crime here. The revelation of how little thought and concern went into this war. How the major players, stumbled into this thinking only of themselves. Sarkozy and Cameron dreaming of oil contracts, Samantha Power of forcing her interventionist vision on the world, and Obama, hoping a few billion spent on bombing Libya will help him in the polls. The criminal thoughtlessness behind Obama's decision to go to war-- mirrors the criminal thoughtlessness of his party in turning him into a viable candidate after a few months in the Senate.

The confused leaders of the ad hoc coalition all expect Gaddafi to do the reasonable thing, but that's how they got into trouble to begin with, when they assumed that Libya would be just like Egypt which would be just like Tunisia. But Gaddafi isn't Mubarak, he isn't even Saddam Hussein. What he is, is authentically crazy. Not the usual crazy that's so commonplace in the Arab world. This isn't Baghdad Minister of Information crazy, or GPS Shark crazy or any of the usual melange of conspiracy theories, cunning ploys and contradictory beliefs that are commonplace among regional leaders. No, this is actual insanity. That means it may be possible that Gaddafi will get on a plane tomorrow and fly to Malta and announce that he is resigning to build an entry portal to paradise. Or more likely he will just hang on to the bitter end, spending his fortune on arms and mercenaries. And we will spend ours firing cruise missiles at pickup trucks.

Which means this war may turn into Grenada or Iraq-- or anything in between. It may be resolved tomorrow or three years from now. There really is no way to know, because of how much we don't know. The tactical maxim that 'no plan of operations survives first contact with the enemy' is more relevant here than ever, because of the sheer ignorance and lack of planning that went into this war. Liberals mocked Rumsfeld's 'Known Unknowns' and 'Unknown Unknowns', and here they find themselves in a war filled with 'Unknown Unknowns', things that they didn't even know they needed to know. Like how wars really work.

FDA Chemist Charged With Insider Trading

insider-trading1An FDA chemist named Cheng Yi Liang was charged today by the US Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading on confidential info about upcoming announcements of 27 different FDA approval decisions involving 19 publicly traded companies and generated more than $3.6 million in illegal profits for himself. And would you believe that he avoided incurring any losses?

Some of the FDA announcements involved approval of new drugs while others concerned were negative decisions. In each instance, the SEC says he traded in the same direction as the announcement, but worked hard to disguise his work. Beginning in July 2006, Liang traded in seven brokerage accounts, including six listed in the names of other people, including his 25-year-old (who was also charged) and his 84-year-old mother who lives in China (read the complaint and his trading history here).

Here is one example: the SEC alleges Liang, 57, who worked for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research since 1996, traded in advance of an FDA announcement approving Clinical Data’s application for its Viibryd depression pill. He accessed a confidential FDA database and used the info to buy more than 46,000 Clinical Data shares costing more than $700,000. After the markets closed on Friday, January 21, 2011, the FDA issued a press release approving Viibryd. Clinical Data’s stock price rose by more than 67 percent the following Monday and Liang sold his entire position in less than 15 minutes for a profit of about $380,000, the SEC charges.

The SEC alleges that Liang used the trading profits for his own personal benefit. Checks totaling at least $1.2 million were written from the accounts he used for trading to a bank account in his name, to him or his wife, or to pay credit card debts. And nearly $65,000 worth of checks were written from the brokerage accounts to car dealers to buy vehicles later registered to Liang and his wife.

Which other stocks did he traded illictly? Well, there was… Adolor, Anesiva, Connetics, Cornerstone Therapeutics, CV Therapeutics, Encysive Pharmaceuticals, EPIX Pharmaceuticals, MannKind, Middlebrook Pharmaceuticals, Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Novadel Pharmaceuticals, Pharmacyclics, Pozen, Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Santarus, Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals and Vanda Pharmaceuticals (look at the chart here).

Retired NBA Star Jalen Rose Arrested On DUI Charge

Jalen Rose mugshot
Retired NBA star and broadcaster, Jalen Rose, was arrested for driving under the influence in Michigan earlier this month.

According to TMZ, the 38-year-old baller was driving along an icy roadway on March 11 when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed.

Cops responded to the scene, and when they got there, Rose agreed to undergo voluntary roadside sobriety tests.

Although he was later transported to a nearby facility for chemical testing, the results have yet to be released.
However, Rose was eventually arrested for driving under the influence.

Rose was in Detroit for the opening of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter school designed to provide under-privileged youth with college prep experience.

He has not commented on the incident, but his attorney, Keith Davidson, told TMZ: "We look forward to working with the authorities in Michigan and addressing these matters in court, not in the press. We have no comment at this time."

LeBron James car NOT allowed in Cavs players lot

King James was denied entry into the Cleveland Cavaliers player parking lot yesterday. The CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER reports the Heat star showed up to shoot around with his posse, and planned to park in the lot he used when his talents were on loan to the people of Northern Ohio.
Apparently, James believes that The Q is still the Court of St. James. He showed up for Miami’s shootaround Tuesday morning in a two-car procession. He had a driver for his car. Assorted fawners and scrapers, perhaps even an Equestrian or two from his Four Horsemen sports management group, were motoring along subserviently in the second car. The Cavs told him to try the players’ parking lot again with one car and no chauffeur.

Until uprising, Gadhafi’s son was on U.S. internship

When unrest exploded in Libya last month, Khamis Gadhafi--the youngest son of the country's embattled leader Muammar Gadhafi--wasn't around. He was on an internship program in the United States.

Khamis, who runs Libya's special forces, quickly returned to his home country, where he has led a military unit that has brutally suppressed rebel forces.

The internship, which lasted a month, was sponsored by AECOM, a Los Angeles-based global engineering and design company that has been working with the Libyan regime to modernize the country's infrastructure. Khadis made stops in San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Washington, and New York City, meeting with high-tech companies (including Google, Apple, and Intel), universities, and defense contractors like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. While in the Big Apple, Khamis even took in the Broadway show "Mamma Mia."

News of Khamis's internship, which was approved by the State Department, was first reported by ABC News.

Since coming home, Khamis appears to have played a key role in helping his father's regime in its violent campaign to quell the uprising. He has led the elite 32nd Reinforced Brigade, known at the Khamis Brigade, which reportedly has been involved in brutally suppressing rebel forces.

Vice Adm. William Gortney of the Joint Chiefs of Staff described the Khamis Brigade, whose headquarters were the target of U.S. Tomahawk missiles, as "one of the most active in terms of attacking innocent people."
On Monday night, Libyan television showed Khamis dressed in his military uniform and greeting people at his father's Tripoli compound.

A spokesman for AECOM told CNN that the company was "shocked and outraged" to learn of Khamis' military role.

AECOM added in a statement: "The educational internship, which consisted of publicly available information, was aligned with our efforts to improve quality of life, specifically in Libya, where we were advancing public infrastructure such as access to clean water; quality housing; safe and efficient roads and bridges; reliable and affordable energy; and related projects that create jobs and opportunity."

This isn't the first time that Gadhafi's sons--and their ties to the west -- have hit the headlines. As we've written, the regime was embarrassed after Wikileaks cables shed light on the lavish New Year's parties that another son, Muatassim, has held on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, at which Mariah Carey, Usher, and Beyonce have all been paid to perform. And the current crisis also has spotlighted the Libyan leader's own personal eccentricities.

(Soldiers and dozens of tanks from the Libyan military's elite Khamis Brigade, led by Khamis Gadhafi. take positions and check vehicles in Harshan, Libya, Feb. 28, 2011.: Ben Curtis/AP)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ahmadinejad and the rise of the 12th Imam

Iranian President Ahmadinejad appears to believe that the recent events in the Middle East are unleashing the righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad. All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi or 12th Imam, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumor - denied by the Iranian government but widely believed - is that President Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran. 

CBN News has obtained a never-before-seen video produced by the Iranian regime that says all the signs are moving into place -- and that Iran will soon help usher in the end times. The Iranian terrorist regime now believes the chaos in the Middle East is divine proof that their ultimate victory is at hand.

The video is called "The Coming is Near" and it describes current events in the Middle East as a prelude to the arrival of the mythical twelfth Imam -- the messianic figure who Islamic prophecy says will lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in the last days. According to CBN, "This video has been produced by a group called the Conductors of the Coming, in connection with the Basiji -- the Iranian paramilitary force, and in collaboration with the Iranian president's office," said Reza Kahlil, a former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. "Just a few weeks ago, Ahmadenijad's office screened this movie with much excitement for the clerics," Kahlili told CBN News. "The target audience is Muslims in the Middle East and around the world."

The Iranian President has in the past spoken in apocalyptic terms of Iran struggling against an evil West that sought to promote "state terrorism", impose "the logic of the dark ages" and divide the world into "light and dark countries". The speech ended with the messianic appeal to God to "hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace". As I have stated in the past, an apocalyptic despot cannot be negotiated with and one with nuclear weapons is truly dangerous. 


Britain, Italy hold out Gaddafi exile prospect

Apparently Gaddafi is a bad enough guy that the UN will bomb this piss out of him but his crimes are not bad enough for an arrest.

If Gaddafi is allowed to go into exile how much of Libyas weath will go with him and if this happens how much money from the taxpayers of the west be required to “rebuild” and “stabalize” Libya?

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 40 governments and international bodies gathered in London on Tuesday to plan for a Libya without Muammar Gaddafi, with Italy and Britain suggesting he might be allowed to go into exile.

With fighting raging between rebels and Gaddafi loyalists, Italy has put forward a proposal for a political deal to end Libya’s crisis, including a quick ceasefire, exile for Gaddafi and dialogue between rebels and tribal leaders.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also implied exile might be a way to take Gaddafi out of the picture and settle the six-week-old uprising against his 40 years in power.

“We want him to leave power and that’s what we’ve consistently said to the Libyan regime. We are not in control, of course, of where he might go,” Hague told the BBC, adding he believed Gaddafi should face the International Criminal Court.

Britain and France led the push for a muscular intervention in the Libyan conflict and coalition air strikes have helped rebels in the east of the country to advance but questions remain about the end game in Libya.
Tuesday’s meeting, starting at 1300 GMT (9 a.m. ET) and due to end with a news conference at 1630 GMT, is expected to set up a high-level steering group, including Arab states, to provide political guidance for the international response to Libya.

Attendees include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NATO leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 40 other foreign ministers.

The meeting will discuss stepping up humanitarian aid to war-torn areas and call for a political process to enable Libyans to choose their own future, British officials said.

Hague held talks before the start of the conference with Mahmoud Jebril, a member of the rebel Libyan National Council, whom he had invited to London.

Clinton was also scheduled to meet Jebril before the conference as U.S. officials gave a positive assessment of rebel advances on the battlefield.

“They’ve clearly recovered a lot of momentum, both militarily and politically. They’ve covered a lot of ground,” one senior U.S. administration official said.

The U.S. official said Clinton and Jebril may discuss further moves to release $33 billion in frozen Libyan assets to the opposition, although he gave no further details.

U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Monday to work with allies to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power but said he would not use force to remove him. Hague also said Britain was not pursuing regime change.
However, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said Britain and France were demanding Gaddafi’s departure.
Asked what would be “Mission Accomplished,” Longuet told France Inter radio: “When the Libyan people are able to express themselves without being repressed.”

Coalition air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces have worried some countries, with Russia saying that the action goes beyond what was authorized by the United Nations. Russia will not be attending the London meeting, a British official said.

A ComRes poll for the Independent newspaper found seven out of 10 Britons were concerned action in Libya could result in forces being sucked into a long Iraq-style conflict.

Mass pro-Assad rallies in Syria

Supporters of President Assad in Damascus
Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Thousands gathered in Damascus in support of President Bashar al-Assad

Tens of thousands are demonstrating in cities across Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, who has faced a wave of unrest in recent days. 

The pro-Assad rallies come in response to a government appeal on Monday.

President Assad is widely expected to announce a raft of changes in the next day or two in response to the unrest, which has left dozens of people dead.

Correspondents say the government is expected to resign later on Tuesday for failing to meet people’s demands.
Live footage being aired on Syrian state television shows crowds of people in the capital Damascus, as well as Aleppo, Hasaka, Homs and Hama.

The demonstrators are chanting slogans such as: “God, Syria and Bashar only” and “We will sacrifice our lives and blood for you, Bashar”.

School children were given the day off and bank employees and other workers were allowed two hours to attend the demonstrations, the AP news agency reports.

Emergency laws

Mr Assad is trying to quell almost two weeks of pro-democracy protests against his regime that human rights groups say has left more than 60 people dead.
The unrest has become the biggest threat to the rule of President Assad, 45, who succeeded his father Hafez on his death in 2000.

The turmoil started after the arrest of several teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on a wall in the southern city of Deraa, and quickly spread to other provinces.

Violence has eased in the past few days, but Syrian security forces are patrolling the streets of Deraa and the Mediterranean port city of Latakia.

On Monday, troops fired tear gas at hundreds of people who had gathered in Deraa and were calling for more political freedom, witnesses said.

Mr Assad is expected to address the nation in the next 24 hours to announce that he is lifting a nearly 50-year state of emergency and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties and political freedom.

Analysts say there are divergent views within the Syrian leadership on handing the crisis – one group favours a crackdown on the dissent while the other prefers dialogue.

Syria: President Assad’s Cabinet Resigns

On Tuesday, President Bashar al-Assad accepted the resignation of his cabinet.  This is the most recent step by the Assad regime in response to protests across the country and rising anger over the killings of civilians by state security forces. Also on Tuesday, thousands of supporters took to the streets in Damascus showing their support for the regime. There are still reports that President Assad is expected to repeal the emergency law, but has yet to announce such a policy.

Schumer Follows And Gives Anti-Tea Party Orders

Notice how Democrats have been talking lately about how Republicans in Congress are held hostage by Tea Party-backed new members?  And how for years Democrats have made sure to use the term "extremist" when referring to Tea Parties?

It's a pre-planned line of attack by the Democratic Causus, and one of the enforcers is Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

As reported by The NY Times, not realizing the call line already was active, Schumer instructed other Democratic Senators, shortly before a live conference call, to use that mode of attack, and also admitted he makes sure to use the word "extremist" whenever possible as instructed by the Democratic Caucus (emphasis mine):
Moments before a conference call with reporters was scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning, apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line, Charles Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, began to instruct fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process.

After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John Boehner of Ohio, the Speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. “I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said, “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell.

Then the conference call began in earnest, with the Democrats right on message.
And, Schumer stays on message on Twitter:

This is the same guy who called Scott Brown a "far right tea-bagger,.

BY William A. Jacobson

Gingrich Warns America May Become a Secular Atheist Country Dominated By Radical Islamists

I’ve seen a lot of people making fun of Newt Gingrich for his view that the anti-Christian views that allegedly dominate America will create a country that’s simultaneously atheistic and subordinated to Islamism:
“I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” [...]
The evening worship was a boisterous celebration of American patriotism. A 100-person choir sang “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” between hymns. The church’s orchestra struck up the anthem for each of the five military branches and a loud cheer went up for veterans and active duty members who stood up during their song.
I think it’s important to actually understand what Gingrich is saying here and not just make fun of him for contradicting himself. This speaks, I think, quite accurately to what the conservative movement in the United States is about—the identity politics of middle aged white suburban conformists. Note that Jesus Christ was not an American patriot. Indeed, there was no United States of America at the time the Gospels were written down. Nor were the early Christians some kind of Roman nationalists. But American conservatives are both Christians and Americans and it’s important to them to affirm these identities simultaneously, even though it makes a bit of a hash of things. This is also why in the United States loud proclamations of Christian faith are typically associated with enormous belief in the beneficent possibilities of organized violence, but only among Christians who are also white people.

You have to think of “America” in Gingrich’s eyes as constituting not so much a place as a specific tribe of people. The concern is that tribe of people might all go secular, which will leave the country exposed to takeover by radical Islamists. This is what many conservatives appear to believe has happened in Europe. A place like France has supposedly managed to both go secular and also be ground zero for Eurabia. Those two things are causally related because secularism enfeebled France by undermining support for Christian patriotic militarism, and they’re non-contradictory because French Muslims aren’t “really” French. This is how it gets to be the case that overturning marriage equality in Iowa is somehow a blow against the threat of creeping sharia.

President Obama' Speech On Libya -- News Roundup And Commentaries

Barack Obama Defends US Military Involvement -- The Daily Telegraph

President Barack Obama has offered a moral justification for the coalition military campaign in Libya, saying it had averted a massacre of Col Gaddafi's opponents.

In a nationally televised address the US president answered domestic critics who have questioned the reasons and goals of the mission.

Mr Obama said that allowing the Libyan leader's forces to enter the rebel-held city of Benghazi would have "stained the conscience of the world", and resulted in a massacre that would have offered a green light to other dictators in the regions to commit violence against their peoples.

Read more

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Next Great Black Exodus

Last week, Charles M. Blow, New York Times op-ed columnist grappled with the new census numbers showing that more black people are leaving urban areas for the suburbs. Though many factors have been pointed to, to explain this shift, Blow fingers a far more insidious culprit.

Read his take on this exodus at The New York Times

Government Shutdown Looms

From the Wall Street Journal:
The White House and Democratic lawmakers, with less than two weeks left to avoid a government shutdown, are assembling a proposal for roughly $20 billion in additional spending cuts that could soon be offered to Republicans, according to people close to the budget talks.
That would come on top of $10 billion in cuts that Congress has already enacted and would represent a deeper reduction than the Obama administration and Senate Democrats had offered previously in negotiations. But it isn't clear that would be enough to satisfy Republicans, who initially sought $61 billion in spending cuts and face pressure from tea-party activists not to compromise....
The Treasury Department this week is likely to issue an updated report on when it expects the ceiling on the federal debt will have to be increased; its most recent estimate was that the borrowing limit would be reached between April 15 and the end of May. ...
Anticipating tough tea-party opposition to raising the debt limit, Senate Republicans are planning soon to mount a new push for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget, which may be unveiled soon after Congress reconvenes this week.

posted by Social Security News

Video: Gaddafi's hometown seized by rebels - reports euronews

Erdogan Warns Libya Can Turn into another Iraq, Afghanistan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Sunday that the ongoing conflict in Libya could turn the country into a “second Iraq” or “another Afghanistan”, the Guardian reported.

"When western forces entered Afghanistan nearly 10 years ago, people were talking of it being over in days, and people said the same in Iraq. We don't want to see a similar picture in Libya," Erdogan said.

The premier also warned the current “civil war” in Libya could have serious consequences for NATO countries involved in the crisis.

Erdogan said Turkey is ready to broker a ceasefire in Libya, stating that negotiations with Gaddafi's government and the opposition-founded Transitional National Council are being done right now, but emphasized Gaddafi must “provide some confidence” practically.

Commenting on the western coalition air strikes on Libya, Erdogan said they “will be devastating for the entire Libyan people, and the repercussions will not be restricted to Libya, but will have a direct impact on those countries that have intervened."

Hosni Mubarak and family are under house arrest in Egypt

President Hosni Mubarak - Under house arrest

CAIRO, March 28, 2011 (AFP) – Ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family are under house arrest, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said on its website Monday, denying that the former leader had fled to Saudi Arabia. ”There is no truth to reports that former president Hosni Mubarak has left Egypt for Tabuk in Saudi Arabia,” the country’s military rulers said in a statement on Facebook. ”He is under house arrest, with his family, in Egypt,” it said. The council has ruled Egypt since Mubarak was forced to quit on February 11 after 18 days of massive street protests against his 30-year autocratic regime.

On March 3, Egypt’s prosecutor general denied media reports that Mubarak was in Saudi Arabia, insisting that he was at the family retreat in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Media reports suggested that Mubarak had gone to Tabuk to receive medical treatment. The state-owned daily Al-Akhbar claimed Mubarak, 82, was receiving medical treatment for cancer.

Troy Davis Appeal Denied – Execution Date Could Loom

Posted by: Brian Evans,
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Troy Davis’ appeals and set the stage for him to possibly face a fourth execution date.  Davis will not be allowed to challenge the August 2010 ruling of the federal district court judge that he failed to establish his innocence, nor will he be able to challenge the standard used to make that ruling.

Doubts about Davis’ guilt, of course, have not been resolved, as most of the witnesses used to convict him continue to maintain that their trial testimony was false and, in many cases, coerced by Savannah police. 

With such witnesses as virtually the only evidence, the case against Troy Davis was always thin, but, ironically, that has meant that, once convicted, Davis has had little to drawn on to prove his innocence.  Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, but, especially in this case, where the evidence available to establish either guilt or innocence is so flimsy, an execution would be a terrible miscarriage of justice.

Message to O.

"After two years of being called a tyrant and a dictator, President Obama returns to Washington from a five-day overseas trip to find he has become a weakling.

Would-be opponents such as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Sarah Palin had been trying out this somewhat contradictory line of attack for more than a month as Obama gave mixed signals about events in Egypt and Libya. But the "weak leader" charge gained traction last weekend as Obama chose to launch the attack on Moammar Gadhafi's forces while on an excellent adventure with his family in South America.

At about the moment the Tomahawk missiles began to rain down on Libya, Obama was joking with Brazilians about Carnival, the World Cup, and the Olympics. Rather than an Oval Office address announcing the new war, Americans got word from the president in a scratchy audio recording. As warheads pounded Libyan forces, Obama was kicking a soccer ball, seeing the sights, and watching cowboys in sequins.

It was perilously close to George W. Bush's "The Pet Goat" moment, when he continued reading a children's storybook after being told the second World Trade Center tower had been hit. Bush later said he was trying to maintain calm. Likewise, White House officials tell me the decision to proceed with the South America trip was made in part to convey that the Libya bombardment was not a major military action.

Weak or stubborn?
Obama administration officials calculated that he would take a hit. But they appear to have been surprised by the force of the weakling complaint, coming not just from usual suspects such as Karl Rove, but from liberals such as my Washington Post colleague Richard Cohen, who saw Obama "quite literally distancing himself from the consequences of his own policy."

My own sense, based on years of Obamology and confirmed by discussions with current and former Obama advisers, is that Obama's decision to proceed with spring break in Rio comes less from weakness than from stubbornness. Since his earliest days on the campaign trail in Iowa, he has made clear his aversion to the flavor-of-the-day news cycle, instead measuring his progress toward a few broad-brush goals. If something - such as the uprisings in the Middle East - doesn't fit unambiguously within his big goals, his instinct is to brush it off.

"I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle," he told reporters once. "I'm not. OK?"

Laser focus
This worked to his benefit during the campaign, when he kept his focus on electoral mechanics rather than the vagaries of his opponents' attacks. But his broad brushes have not always served him well in the presidency, as when his laser focus on health care left voters with the sense that he didn't care about unemployment. He lost the House, and with it the rest of his agenda.

The attack on Libya presented the toughest test yet of Obama's defiance of the news cycle. In a USA Today op-ed before his departure, Obama wrote that while the Middle East is important, he was going to Latin America because "our top priority has to be creating and sustaining new jobs and new opportunities."

The administration officials I spoke with argued that this was a sign of strong leadership. "To abandon course at every moment of pundit criticism is not strength," said one of the president's top advisers. They pointed to polls showing most Americans continue to regard Obama as a strong leader, and they argued that, beyond Washington, headlines from Obama's trip justified his strategy. ("Obama's trip to Brazil key to N.J. businesses," reported North Jersey's Record.)

But the White House is also discovering the perils of broad-brush leadership. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll found that when Americans were asked who is taking "a stronger leadership role," Republicans had a seven-point advantage over Obama; three months ago, Obama had a narrow lead.

The White House justifiably complains that the criticism of Obama's Libya policy has been inconsistent: First he was too slow to take action, and now he's rushing to attack without congressional approval - even though Congress is on its own 10-day spring break.

But it doesn't matter if the criticism is fair. Obama left a vacuum, and his opponents filled it. For a president suddenly called "weak," such is the tyranny of the news cycle." [Source]

O, I have to agree with Dana Milbank: You are acting as if A-merry-ca still loves you. She does not. You were the flavor of a November month when A-merry-cans were being...well, A-merry-cans. This is, after all, the country that made "Snooki" famous. If you want to win in this country, you have to get out in front of the story. Do not let the story get in front of you. Do not give your political opponents an opening so that they can create their own story.

We all know that if you were a republican president the wingnuts would be calling you a hero. We all know that the pretzel- logic they are using to say that you were wrong to join the UN and other countries (such as the African Union) to attack Libya is laughably ludicrous. But this is politics in A-merry-ca. This is what you came from, so you have to deal with it. I just wonder why no one in your inner circle told you this before

BTW, in the future, you might want to work on your soccer skills before you go kicking a soccer ball with a bunch of Brazilian kids. They are kind of good at that game.