May 2, 2011

Meanwhile, Back in the Economy

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 10:28 pm

Good news (mostly) — The Institute for Supply Management’s April Manufacturing Index came in at 60.4%, down from 61.2% in March, but still strongly expansionary (anything above 50% means expansion). Overhanging cloud, as noted by Zero Hedge: The Prices Paid component is the highest it has been in almost three years, a potential harbinger of accelerating inflation.

Bad news – another record-breaking gas price day in Cincinnati (graphics are as of 10:15 p.m.):

CincyGasPrice050211

Cincy5yrGasPrices050211

Related bad news: Ventures into retail this weekend revealed that the shopping traffic was significantly down from a few weeks ago, when things were still fairly robust. At least around here, gas prices are having a daily negative impact. And prices are STILL shooting up …

UPDATE: Well, Cincinnati can at least look at the bright side. We’re not in Chicago, where the average was just barely under $4.50 as of 10:40 p.m.

UPDATE 2, May 3: As of 10 a.m. Tuesday —
CincyGas4194on050311

QOTD: Laura Ingraham

In an e-mail (bolds are mine):

America likes winning

The reaction across the country to the U.S. Special Forces killing of Osama bin Laden has been overwhelming positive. When President Obama delivers good news to America, America responds positively. The tea party’s disenchantment with Obama has never been personal. It’s results-oriented. If Americans saw from same resolve and professionalism in our political leaders as we see day in and day out from our military, we’d be a lot happier with both Republicans and Democrats.

Voters are dissatisfied with the handling of our economy and the unfocused nature of our foreign policy because they don’t see their own lives improving much. In fact, most Americans are more anxious about their own family budgets, and more concerned about their children’s future than they were when George Bush left office. We need, want and deserve more good news as we received today. Killing OBL was good for all Americans. Improving the lives of all Americans–not just certain constituency or special interest groups–should be the primary goal of every president.

The question is whether Barack Obama is as interested in improving America’s economic situation as his party and the establishment media are in giving him disproportionate credit for taking out Bin Laden.

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UPDATE: Clarity on the President’s role:

Said (the president’s top counterterrorism adviser John) Brennan: “The president had to evaluate the strength of that information, and then made what I believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory.”

Obama tapped two dozen members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six to carry out a raid with surgical accuracy.

Setting aside Brennan’s compound superlative and other surrounding hype, the President made the right call based on recommendations provided. He did. Good for him. Better for him that he doesn’t have a press that will spend the next year calling him a bloodthirsty warmonger for wanting Bin Laden dead.

They Got Him: RIH (Rot In Hell), Osama Bin Laden (Updates: Acting Unilaterally? Plus: With Gitmo Detainee Assistance, With ‘Advanced Interrogation’)

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:00 am

(Originally posted at 11:45 p.m. Sunday, with updates through about 2:30 a.m. on Monday.
Carried to the top throughout Monday for obvious reasons.)

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He’s dead.

President Obama gave a very fine speech (Update: Transcripts — White House, and here), and deserves props for its content and delivery.

Topside contextual update, May 2, 6:00 p.m. (to be clear, though it’s a closer call than it should be, I don’t believe Obama is attempting to claim singular credit for Bin Laden’s death [GWB would rarely use the words "I," "me," or "my," which Obama can't/won't avoid]) from Melissa Rawls:

OBAMA did NOT kill Bin Laden. An American soldier, who Obama just a few weeks ago was debating on whether or not to PAY, did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found OBL and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an… AMERICAN victory!!

Okay, especially on the not paying part, which was particularly offensive, but it is nonetheless an American victory in which Obama played a necessary part.

Topside update, May 5, 11:00 a.m. — In the intervening 3-1/2 days, the narratives from the administration have changed so frequently and to such a degree that one doesn’t know what to believe any more. Go here for a montage of “Mother of All FUBARs” developments as of late Thursday morning.

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MAY 2 UPDATES

8:45 a.m. — Hamas reacts, and sadly predictably, via Reuters:

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Monday condemned the killing by U.S. forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an “Arab holy warrior.”

“We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, told reporters.

And we expect anything from negotiating with these people?

Related: “Oh Americans … it is still legal for us to cut your necks.”

9:05 a.m. — Predictable NY Times BS alert, captioning a picture of young people celebrating in their cars in D.C at the paper’s home page: “As crowds gathered outside the White House, there was little question that Mr. Obama’s presidency had forever been changed.” Yours truly has more on this at NewsBusters. 2:45 p.m. – Jeff Zeleny at the Times apparently inspired the caption, writing: “But as Mr. Obama delivered his remarks and the crowds continued to gather outside the White House, there was little question that his presidency had forever been changed by snaring Bin Laden. The search for him has played out over Mr. Obama’s maturation as a national political figure in the last decade.”

9:15 a.m.In a brief 3:12 a.m. report (12:12 PT): “Osama bin Laden buried at sea”:

CNN is reporting Osama bin Laden has been buried at sea, citing a U.S. official. Without elaborating, the official told CNN his body was handled in the Islamic tradition.

More: “The official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters, did not immediately say where that occurred.”

12:05 p.m. — You had to know this was coming. The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak doesn’t like the celebrating (“Complications after a night of jubilation”; HT Geoff Dickens at NewsBusters):

A generation of young Americans slammed the door Monday on the great, big boogeyman of their childhoods with an epic woot-woot and rounds and rounds of “U.S.A.!”

At the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, thousands of people – most of them college-aged and in requisite flip-floppy collegiate gear — whipped up a raucous celebration right outside the White House gates that was one part Mardi Gras and two parts Bon Jovi concert.

It felt a little crazy, a bit much. Almost vulgar.

Because meanwhile, across the river, at the Pentagon, in the ghostly quiet of lights at the Sept. 11, 2001, memorial, a military veteran silently wept.

And many others cried, too, sickened by the death toll, the enormity of almost 10 years of fear, death and terror.

… Folks who lost close friends or family in the Sept. 11 attacks orchestrated by bin Laden or the War on Terror that followed had a rush of new emotions and raw pain at the news of even more bloodshed.

… When I saw that folks were celebrating in the streets at the news of bin Laden’s death, my first reaction was a cringe. Remember how we all felt watching videos of those al-Qaeda guys dancing on Sept. 11?

Are we simply creating star-spangled recruitment tapes for a new generation of terrorists killing in the name of their new martyr?

Well, she’s been writing for the Washington Post since 2001, if not earlier, so that probably puts Ms. Dvorak at least in her mid-30s. At the risk of sounding overindulgent, I think it’s difficult to imagine the trauma the death and destruction of 9/11 placed on the children and adolescents who watched it unfold in real time. The only comparisons you could make if you happened to be in grade school or high school when they occurred are the assassination of JFK (but I don’t recall that any of us actually saw him get shot) and the Challenger explosion (tragic and traumatic, yes, but not an act of war carried out on your own country’s soil).

I think it was great to see young people harmlessly, lawfully, and from all appearances apolitically release a decade of pent-up anxiety.

And if Dvorak can’t see the difference between celebrating the deliberate destruction of 3,000 lives (as Palestinians did after the 9/11 attacks) and celebratory relief at the death of the guy who orchestrated it, I’m not sure anyone can help her.

3:00 p.m. — Yes, we need to frequently remind the left that Gitmo detainees provided much of the needed information (HT Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler:

The CIA developed its theory through leads gained from individuals in bin Laden’s inner circle and from fighters captured after September 11. Intelligence officials were repeatedly told about one courier working for bin Laden as someone that America’s most-wanted man deeply trusted.

The detainees provided the courier’s nickname to U.S. officials and identified him as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, once al-Qaida’s third-highest-ranking official (he was captured in 2005). Intelligence officials identified the courier’s name four years ago, but it took two more years to zero in on areas of Pakistan where he and his brother operated.

Now to be fair to the President, it may be that his change of stance on Gitmo is the result of a genuine learning experience arising from information that got the ball rolling on what ultimately became a successful mission to take out the 9/11 mastermind. Of course, he should have known better from the start, or at a minimum while he was getting security briefings in the final months of his presidential candidacy. The coming weeks and months will tell us if he’s really learned anything that he will apply long-term.

4:15 p.m.: Cue the leftist headbursts, via AP (in full, for fair use and discussion purposes; captured here in case it falls down the AP memory hole; HT Legal Insurrection) –

Officials: CIA interrogators at secret prisons developed first strands that led to bin Laden

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful. Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.

You ninnies. This news ends the debate. The program was successful; Bin Laden is dead. What other more meaningful metric is there?

MoreHeh (HT Instapundit): “They told me that if I voted for McCain, we’d get a continuation of Bush’s wartime policies.”

7:25 p.m.Wikipedia: “The sacred texts of Islam prefer burial on land.”

Predictable Islamic “scholarly” overreaction to Bin Laden’s burial at sea:

Islamic scholars criticize bin Laden’s sea burial

Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

Too bad, so sad, guys. The world’s smallest violin is playing.

Nice try, no sale. “Preference” doesn’t turn into a “violation” just because you don’t like the fact that our guys got Bin Laden.

More: All of this assumes that Bin Laden deserved to be treated as a devout Muslim. Really? Does that mean that you guys agree with his actions and outlook? If so, literally … go to hell.

8:05 p.m.Well:

U.S. team’s mission was to kill bin Laden, not capture

The U.S. special forces team that hunted down Osama bin Laden was under orders to kill the al Qaeda mastermind, not capture him, a U.S. national security official told Reuters.

“This was a kill operation,” the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.

I agree with the decision, but I’m having a hard time believing Democrats, the press, and peaceniks (but I repeat myself) would have given George W. Bush a pass for this — and some of them would be seeing a timing conspiracy in conducting the mission on May Day. Anniversaries should be interesting.

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MAY 1 and 2 OVERNIGHT UPDATES

UPDATE: Congrats to the military and intelligence folks who pulled this off without loss of American life.

UPDATE 2: I’ve pushed this post into Monday so I can carry it forward with updates throughout the day if needed.

UPDATE 3: Michelle Malkin

Keep all our servicemen, servicewomen, and U.S. personnel in your thoughts and prayers tonight. Be safe and Godspeed.

Their work is far, far from over.

UPDATE 4: OBL is dead, as Toby Keith would say, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” (I hear this is a very popular song tonight) –

Update 4A, May 2, 10:25 a.m.: Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks — whose 2002 reaction to Keith’s song was “I hate it. It’s ignorant” — apparently doesn’t have a comment just yet.

UPDATE 5: As I watch the celebrations and the fired-up young people in Washington and New York, I appreciate even more how exhilarating it must be for them to have a sense of closure on September 11, 2001. Of course it was traumatic for all of us, but especially so for those who are now in their late teens and early- to mid-twenties, and saw 9/11 happen before their eyes as children and adolescents.

UPDATE 6: Seems like we may have “acted unilaterally.” I’m hearing that on Fox News, and it’s also noted here

A senior Pakistani intelligence official told NBC News that Pakistani special forces took part in the operation, but U.S. officials said the Pakistani government was not informed of the attack in advance.

Fox is reiterating that it was about 40 Navy Seals with no Pakistani involvement.

UPDATE 7: Cowards and monsters, with another confirmation of Pakistani non-involvement (NOTE: As seen at this May 3 post, this narrative is not holding together) –

President Obama personally gave the order Friday that sent a small U.S. team by helicopter to the compound near Islamabad where American operatives killed Osama bin Laden, his adult son and three others, including a woman used as a human shield during the firefight, US officials said this morning.

Pakistani officials were not told beforehand about the operation, which took less than 40 minutes Sunday, officials said. An American helicopter that malfunctioned had to be destroyed, but no Americans were harmed in the high-risk raid, officials said.

UPDATE 7A, May 2, 6:10 p.m.: From AP (HT Laura Ingraham) — “Slain terror chief Osama bin Laden used his own wife as a human shield in an apparent attempt to save himself as elite troops stormed his Pakistani compound, US officials revealed Monday.” (NOTE: Again, as seen at this May 3 post, this narrative is not holding up.)

UPDATE 8: Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion — “Islamofascism Delenda Est: Bin Laden Killed.”

UPDATE 9: A pic has gone up that may — emphasize MAY — be Bin Laden shortly after his death. Update 9A, May 2, 9:15 a.m.: AP has pulled their photo, which I believe was the same one to which I linked.

UPDATE 10: (go to last paragraph here) “In Philadelphia, at a game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, chants of “USA! USA!” began in the top of the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park.”

UPDATE 11: Michelle Malkin is chronicling the predictable instant leftist politicization. I’ll add this one, which though relatively even-handed, isn’t called for less than two hours after the announcement: “This makes Obama a shoo-in for ’12, right?” Update 11A: Except, as Michelle points out, for the fact that “much of the intelligence gathered that led to discovering bin Laden was developed by the detainees detained under the Bush administration at facilities like the one Obama wanted to shut down.” Specifically:

“From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the U.S. gathered information on people in bin Laden’s circle, including his personal couriers,” a senior official in the Obama administration said in a background briefing from the White House.

After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “detainees gave us information on couriers. One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us his nom de guerre, his pseudonym, and also identified this man as one of the few couriers trusted by bin Laden.”

In 2007, the U.S. learned the man’s name.

In 2009, “we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. They were very careful, reinforcing belief we were on the right track.”

In August 2010, “we found their home in Abbottabad,” not in a cave, not right along the Afghanistan border, but in an affluent suburb less than 40 miles from the capital.

Update 11B, May 2, 10:10 a.m.” I posted on the detainee element of Bin Laden’s capture and the NYT’s premature e-celebration of Barack Obama’s supposedly “forever changed” presidency at NewsBusters this morning.

Positivity: Cathedral ‘Abbey’ Program Promotes Camaraderie, Service

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Lincoln, Nebraska:

April 22, 2011

LINCOLN (SNR) – Cathedral of the Risen Christ grade school in Lincoln started a new program for students in grades 6-8 last fall: the abbey program.

Students were divided into seven different groups, or abbeys, with a like number from each grade in each abbey. Each abbey was named after a saint or very important person to the Catholic Faith: St. John Bosco, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Padre Pio, St. Therese of Lisieux, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. Each abbey has a teacher as sponsor.

With the students divided into the abbeys, throughout the year the school has had various games and contests between them, awarding points for each activity. Points are awarded to abbeys whose members were on the honor roll, who were deemed excellent in their behavior, or who scored very well on specific tests. A scoreboard is posted in the school’s west hallway to let the students know how their abbey is doing.

Principal Tony Primavera said the purpose of the concept was two-fold.

“First of all, we wanted the students to have fun,” he said. “And secondly, we wanted to develop some camaraderie between the students in the different grades. The contests and games we’ve had have been great to observe while watching the students get excited and pull for each other, regardless of the age or grade of their ‘teammates.’”

The abbeys have also inspired the students into service. The abbeys met for lunch throughout the year and over the past several weeks, each chose a specific Lenten project. …

Go here for the rest of the story.