Friday, September 11, 2009

Anatomy of a boner

According to a USA Today timeline:

"CNN is reporting that the Coast Guard has fired on a boat on the Potomac River.
Update at 10:10 a.m. ET: The report of some activity on the river comes only minutes after President Obama concluded 9/11 memorial ceremonies at the Pentagon not far away.
Update at 10:12 a.m. ET: CNN says the Coast Guard fired 10 rounds at the boat.
Update at 10:14 a.m. ET: CNN broadcasts what it says is audio of the Coast Guard apparently speaking to a suspicious boat. The Coast Guard speaker is heard saying; "Slow down or you will be fired on."
Update at 10:27 a.m. ET: The AP quotes the Coast Guard as saying training was being conducted in Potomac River moments before Obama motorcade crossed.
Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: CNN quotes two police sources as saying the incident was a possible Coast Guard training exercise.
Update at 10:32 a.m. ET: Fox News quotes Coast Guard Chief Keith Moore as saying no shots were fired as part of the exercise.
Update at 10:33 a.m. ET: Reuters quotes an FBI spokeswoman as saying the agency was told by the Coast Guard that no shots were fired at a boat in the Potomac.
Update at 10: 41 a.m. ET: NBC's Pete Williams, quoting a "senior Coast Guard official," says the incident was just an exercise to "challenge response times."Williams says the exercise was strictly a "radio exercise" and did not involve any boats or any firing by the Coast Guard. Williams reports that a "citizen" overheard the radio exercise and passed that along to some news organizations, which broadcast reports of possible shot being fired.
Update at 10: 53 a.m. ET: USA TODAY's Kevin Johnson reports that the Coast Guard say that no shots were fired and that the incident involved a "radio exercise." Johnson says the Coast Guard is preparing a statement for release in a few moments, which we will carry."

The AP's version as of 11 a.m.:
"WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard conducted a training exercise in the Potomac River near the Pentagon amid Sept. 11 commemorations Friday, sparking confusion.
Coast Guard Chief Keith Moore said Friday no shots were fired as part of the exercise. Media reports suggested shots had been fired in the river and showed vessels circling in the water, near the bridge where President Barack Obama's motorcade passed as he traveled to a Sept. 11 memorial at the Pentagon.
Coast Guard spokesman John Edwards said references to shots fired were picked up in radio chatter. As part of its exercise Friday, the Coast Guard aired simulated instructions to participants to fire 10 rounds. But Edwards said there were no shots actually fired and there were no suspicious boats.
The Coast Guard conducts this sort of training everyday. The training had nothing to do with the 9/11 anniversary, Edwards said.
"This is routine training for us and we train everyday," Edwards said.
Obama had traveled to the Pentagon to lay a wreath in a ceremony commemorating the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks."

Might want to take this particular day off, knuckleheads. This is basically the equivalent of Spain testing its bomb threat response time at train stations on March 11.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Speeches that make children yawn

America-hating President Barack Obama urged children to stay in school and work hard today. Ironically, many of them never got the message because their parents had pulled them from school to keep them from hearing this horrible, pro-socialist message of secret-Muslim indoctrination

Meanwhile, we have this story from Arne Duncan of the St. Petersburg Times, which notes Obama was not the first sitting president to speak "directly to the nation's schoolchildren about persisting and succeeding in school." As it turns out, at least one other president, George H.W. Bush, gave that same message in 1991.

According to Duncan, Bush's remarks were broadcast live by CNN, PBS, NBC radio, and something called the Mutual Broadcasting System at about noon on a school day (obviously). I think I actually remember hearing that address, if not watching it.

The complete text of that speech, delivered in Ms. Mollster's classroom at Some Such Jr. High School, can be found here. Like Obama's, it has nothing at all to do with politics, but rather is a long, boring list of reasons why students should take responsibility for their choices in life and stay away from drugs and control their own destinies and all the other typical rubbish adults push on children.

As Duncan points out, Democrats criticized Bush for delivering his speech in much the same way Republicans are complaining about Obama delivering his. I don't remember anybody saying they weren't going to let their kid hear the stupid thing, though. I think the complaints about Bush the Elder's speech were really more political theater than anything. At any rate, the speech never affected a single person I knew, and most probably don't remember it at all if they weren't actually inside Ms. Mostoller's classroom that day. That might not hold as true with Obama, who is something of a political anomaly, but the point is neither of these guys really delivered anything to the students beyond what was expected: "Stay in school. Work hard. Eat your vegetables." blah blah blah.

Reagan, well...that was something else entirely.

As Duncan noted in a more neutral tone than these guys, Reagan's speech and subsequent Q-and-A with students was little more than an advertisement about how badly Jimmy Carter had messed up the country, but with proper Republican stewardship, it was back on course. Though his speech is far more politically-oriented, it's still a freakin' yawnfest and, again, probably meant nothing to anyone except the students actually standing in the same room as the then-president.

At any rate, this sort of thing is nothing new and certainly nothing to wind yourself up about. Unless, of course, you're an idiot, in which case go nuts.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shut. Up.

I'll be in Allentown tomorrow for yet another town hall on health care. If you are also going to be there, I beg of you: Shut up. Just. Shut. Up.
I don't care if you think "Sestak is a snake" or "Toomey is looney." I don't care if you hate/love/fear/worship Obama/Boehner/Pelosi/McCain. I don't care what you think about anything, actually, until whoever is onstage has finished talking. And I don't mean immediately following a single sentence, I mean the whole shebang.
Then I will ask you.
Then you can tell me.
In the interim, please refrain from bleating out whatever half-truth you gleaned from some dingbat's twitter account earlier in the day, because A) it's annoying, B) you're probably wrong and C) no one can tell what the hell anyone's saying when everyone shouts different buzzwords at the same time anyway.
See, unlike some of you mewling cabbages that go to these things (and you know who you are) I actually want - nay, need - to hear what the people with the microphones are saying. Because it's my job to tell other people (those who actually have lives away from the front steps of Planned Parenthood and Whole Foods) what was said. When you whine and shout and rend your garments, that makes my job difficult, which in turn makes me want to beat you to death with a fence post.
To be clear, I'm not saying you shouldn't get out there and demonstrate and wave signs and shout slogans and all that jazz. Knock yourself out - it doesn't hurt anyone and has never made a lick of difference in politics anyway.
But when someone is halfway through a sentence that sounds kind of important to the argument, it might be a good idea to let him finish and actually hear what he has to say instead of cheering or booing or whatever else your little chimp mind has grasped on as the correct response to some trigger word like "taxes" or "panel" or "donut hole."
Save all that for later. I assure you, there will be plenty of time to alienate your friends and loved ones with whatever you think is a well-reasoned argument long after we've all fled Allentown at high speed.
For the moment, though, please, please just shut up. We'll all have a better understanding of the debate and, as a bonus, no one will be bludgeoned with yard lumber.