Friday, September 16, 2011

Primarying Obama

It ain’t gonna happen.

On the off chance it does, it has zero chance of success. And the people who might consider it, know this, which is why…it ain’t gonna happen.

The reason for primarying President Barack Obama (D-USA) is because you fear that he’s lost the independents and he’s certain to lose next November. But, to have a significantly better chance of winning, the Democrats will have to produce a candidate that can appeal to these same moderates and independents. That means, s/he will have to move to the right of Obama.

But no candidate to the right of Obama is going to win a Democratic national primary. How would s/he campaign? I don’t think the slogan of “ignore my political stances, I’m still a Democrat and I can win!” will likely be a successful one. But that’s the only possible approach.

A Democrat can’t hit Obama on his policies, because he’s done exactly what they’ve wanted. And where he hasn’t, it’s because he’s adopted the policies of the right. Policy speaking, the only place a Democrat can hit Obama is from the left, and a candidate to the left of Obama has no prayer in November, 2012.

Finally, there’s the race factor.

The Congressional Black Caucus will go absolutely bonkers if he’s primaried. And will go even more bonkers if it looks like Obama could lose the primary. This will be carried down to the CBC’s constituents as well, who will be extremely upset with this candidate no matter who s/he may be. No Democrat can win the White House without overwhelming black support, and beating Obama in a primary is not the way to achieve that.

All of these items are obvious to anyone who might consider taking on the President, and they’re obvious to their backers.

It ain’t gonna happen.

September 16, 1620

The Mayflower sets sail from Plymouth, England. It carries 102 passenger intent on establishing a colony in America.  Many of these passengers, were seeking religious freedom, having been oppressed by the English Church and government.

You can find a list of the passengers here.

Constitution Day (Observed)

Tomorrow, September 17th, is the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Since it falls on a weekend, the official observance of the day is today, Friday, September 16th.

It’s a good day to read it, or at least the Bill of Rights. Surprisingly for such a long lasting document, it’s fairly short. It won’t take you that long.

There’s a website for celebrating Constitution Day here. There are plenty of free and cheap apps for reading the Constitution on iPad, iPhone, & Android (and I assume Windows Phone 7 or whatever it’s called).

Read it. Learn it. Know the facts. So few actually do.

And yes, I’ll probably post something similar to this tomorrow, in commemoration of the actual day of the signing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Teetering

That’s my word of the day on Twitter.

You’ve heard me use it before, as in, “the U.S. is teetering on the brink of another recession”.

Three more indicators today that show that is where we are.

Number one: today’s job report. Have a look at what Ed Morrissey at HotAir has to say about it.

Initial jobless claims jumped last week to 428,000, one of the highest levels since the beginning of the third quarter.  The Department of Labor also revised last week’s figure upward to 417,000 as the four-week average jumped 4,000 to almost 420K[.]

[…]

Last week’s initial figure was 414K, up two thousand from the previous week’s 412K, which was initially 409K before it got upwardly revised as well.  Are you seeing a pattern?  Six weeks ago, the level was at 400K even, and a week prior to that it had been below 400K.

The first part of Q3 had looked like the economy might have stabilized a little bit, and Q3 was looking like it might be a bit better than Q2.  We were seeing less inventory and slightly better jobs numbers. Whatever momentum there was appears to have disappeared, however. Based on the latest reports, Q3 is looking very much like a mirror image of Q2. No better. Maybe a bit worse, depending on how the next few reports look.

And now let’s talk about number two.

Jim Pethokoukis tweeted today that the IMF said that the EU financial crisis would knock at least another 0.7% off of U.S. GDP. I can’t find that in anything on their site, but that’s no doubt due to my search capability. I trust JP to get it right.

So, where does that put us? Well, if you recall, the latest estimate from the BLS on Q2 GDP was 1.0. If we take that number for Q3/Q4 as a starting point and subtract 0.7, we’re left with 0.3.

In other words, teetering.

And I still think that Q2 is going to be revised downwards yet again. So, even if the EU salvages this situation somehow, the U.S. will still be…yes…teetering on the brink of a recession.

But I’m not finished yet.

Today we also learned that Goldman Sachs has changed their forecast for crude oil. They now predict $130 a barrel within a year.

Crude oil is currently around $90 a barrel. In September, 2010, it was about $75 a barrel.

If it hits $130 by this time next year, that will be an increase of roughly 70% over 24 months. We discovered before that there’s a weak correlation between energy prices and recessions. Energy prices (of which crude oil is only one factor) tend to rise by between 60-100% sometime before the recession starts, and then start to fall off. This tends to be an indicator about half the time.

Now, I admit that the correlation here is not as strong as a numbers junkie like me would like. If it was the only indicator, I might point it out to you and say that it bears watching, but don’t be nervous…yet. However, it’s not the only indicator, and as such bears mentioning, with the appropriate caveat.

Anyway, 70% would be squarely in the 60-100% range. But we’re not there yet. We just appear to be headed there.

In other words: teetering.

Make me give a number, and I say ~60% chance we’re in a recession by next November. Maybe slightly higher, but let’s see this month’s revision to Q2 GDP before we start getting worried.

But that’s if nothing significant and bad happens. We’re so close to the edge, that really, anything at this point would push us over, such as an implosion in Europe, oil disruptions in the Middle East, another big hurricane, maybe even a sufficiently large political scandal. It’s not going to take much to get consumers to put their wallets away, and for investors to lock up their safes. When that happens, things will go from moderately bad to downright awful, and fast.

Teetering.

September 15, 1935

Nazi Germany settles on a single national flag.

They had been using two. This is the other one.

It’s amazing how these timely events work out together. I was just talking about these colors the other day in reference to this website. Don’t you think they’d fit in very well?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 1994

The day I gave up on Major League Baseball.

The World Series is canceled by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig due to the ongoing strike. The strike will end on April 2, 1995, and even the 1995 season will be shortened from 162 to 144 games.

As far as I’m concerned baseball died on this day. Roger Maris’ 61 home runs record in a season will never be broken, nor will Hank Aaron’s career record of 755 home runs.

I try to stick to the facts in these “On This Day” posts, but it’s 17 years later, and I’m still very bitter about this one. I’ve never watched a baseball game since, nor do I plan to start.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

GOP Debates: Round 5-Florida

Yes, I know. I missed round 4. Actually, I didn’t. I just haven’t blogged on it.

As always, the videos are at the end.

I’m going to approach things a bit differently this time.

First I want to congratulate CNN and Wolf Blitzer. This was by far the best designed and moderated debate so far. I was worried at the beginning with their opening montage and introductions, but once they got to the meat, it was enjoyable to experience. My only significant gripe is that I don’t think former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) should be next to each other. CNN put them there and quite often went to a camera shot that had both of them on screen while one was talking. Made it often look like they were the only two there.

For the first hour I was generally happy and amazed. Every single candidate, even former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX-14) impressed me at some point. For the first time I really felt that we have a great group of candidates here. Some people had problems with former Romney going after Perry on Social Security, but I didn’t. As I keep saying, the frontrunner(s) will remain the frontrunner(s) unless you go after him (them). Romney made some good points, too, although I think in the end he lost on the exchange, because Perry was prepared with a great one-liner about Romney’s book.

Perry seems to be following the President Reagan (R-USA) playbook. He has lots of good zingers and one liners. I don’t think he has quite the delivery of Reagan, but he’s not bad. But he needs to be better on substance. When he gets away from his strong suits, and from his one liners, he stumbles a bit. This will come in time. I’m sure he’s been in a few debates as Governor of Texas, but he’s not faced the caliber of candidates or the level of intensity of the scrutiny that he’s facing now.

Unfortunately, the second hour we returned to earth. Huntsman and Paul lost me completely. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I really don’t want to see Ron Paul at any more debates. He makes the entire GOP look bad. Also, Perry and Romney hit some issues that weren’t their bread & butter ones and they also stumbled.

But Romney and Perry were the two frontrunners going in, and they’re still the two frontrunners. No one made any significant movement in their direction. I’m not sure if they really changed much amongst themselves either. I think they both made some good points, and both occasionally struggled. I’m hearing on my Twitter feed that Romney looked awful, and that he had the best performance, which leads me to believe that I’m right, that nothing really changed between them last night.

Now to the rankings. I’m going to start at the bottom and work up this time.

Ron Paul: Titanic level disaster. Vote him off the island. Now.

Jon Huntsman: He’s just way too far to the left. He has some good ideas about some things, but he’s a traditional politician. A twentieth century one. You’ve heard me rip on twentieth century politics before.

These two were so far below everyone else that they deserve special mention. Everyone else did at least a passable job, just not spectacular.

Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA): I’m going to say he’s next. I’ve mentioned every single time that Santorum is either great or awful during debates. It’s because he’s combative and thin skinned. I think he’s been working hard on fighting his tendencies here, and I give him credit for that. Unfortunately, that means that he’s coming across much more subdued. He had a passable performance, but completely non-memorable.

Herman Cain (R-GP): Cain has been steadily improving at the debates. He’s obviously been putting in quite a bit of work. If he’d been as good in the first debate as he’s been in the last two, he may have made some noise. Perhaps he still will. I was very impressed with Cain last night. The only reason he’s down so low on the list is that others have raised their games as well.

Rick Perry: I really don’t have much of a problem with the Gardasil issue. He admits it was wrongly handled, which puts him miles above Romney who still thinks RomneyCare is a good idea. However, I also don’t have any problems with anyone attacking him on it, as long as they stick to facts. He’s absolutely perfect on Social Security, but he’s definitely left himself open for attack here and we’re going to see more scenes like what we saw last night with him and Romney. However, I’ve said before that he’s weak on illegal immigration, and it’s true. He’s very weak here and his answers on this issue were not reassuring. At all. I had him first earlier in the night, but he dropped to fourth in the second hour. And illegal immigration is a big part of why.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA-06): Frankly, Newt should be first or second, and it’s not his fault he’s not. While CNN overall did a good job last night, they still had a problem with letting candidates disappear for large parts of the night. That’s got to be hard to avoid with so many people up on stage. It certainly happened to Newt. He disappeared for long periods. But when he was on screen, I liked what he was saying and I liked his delivery. Probably one of the most impressive nights he’s ever had, when he was visible, and I’m on record as saying he’s the candidate I would least want to debate.

Mitt Romney: There’s really not much difference between any of the top 4. I put Romney above Newt because he didn’t disappear and above Perry because I thought he was a bit less uneven in his performance. His highs weren’t as high as either Perry or Newt, but his lows weren’t as low either. However his attempted attack on Perry and the Texas economy fell completely flat. He knows he needs to attack Perry on something, and fiscal issues are his best bet, but he’s going to have to come up with a better plan than “Four Aces”. Probably Romney’s worst moment in any of the debates so far.

And the Oscar goes to…

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06): She’s up here because she treated last night like a marathon. Unlike others who went for some quick hits early and then fell flat, she stayed in focus the whole evening. She’s obviously found an attack point on Perry that she likes in Gardasil. While I don’t agree with her position on it, she shows quite a bit of passion and is believable. And there are a lot of people out there who share her viewpoint. But she was good to very good in every single answer she gave last night, if I recall correctly, and unlike the rest, actually improved as the night went on. Her one fault is that she’s very talking point oriented, and sometimes goes to the talking point instead of actually answering the question. I’ve noticed this every single debate. That’s not altogether surprising. Most politicians do this. It’s surprising that in this field she’s the only one who does it consistently. Having said all of that, this was the Michele Bachmann we saw earlier this year, who has all but disappeared since then. I’d love to see more performances like this. She still almost certainly won’t get my vote, but last night performance is what I’ve always hoped to see from her.

 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It’s 12:06 PM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

12:06 PM

US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada.

September 11, 2001.

Where were you?

2,996 souls were lost on that day, including 343 of New York's Bravest and New York's Finest who gave their lives trying to save others.

Oh, where was I during all of this? In a meeting. No one bothered to interrupt the meeting to mention what was happening. After the meeting, I walked out to my car, somehow managing not to talk to a single person. I got in the car and drove home for lunch, without turning on the radio. I got home, made myself a sandwich, sat down at about 12:05 PM, turned on the TV and discovered that the world had changed while I wasn't looking. Rudy Giuliani has said it best, many times (paraphrasing). "We learned on September 11, 2001 that we were at war. The other side had known they were at war for quite some time, but we didn't know it."

There's a very poignant picture on the NY Times website from 9/11/2006, with the caption "The Hole in the City's Heart"

Where were you?

And here’s the 9/11 World Trade Center Memorial, as it appears today, 9/11/2011:

On September 12, we all promised ourselves that we'd never forget the events of that day. Have you kept that promise?

The times and events listed here are a very small excerpt of what's available at the Cooperative Research History Commons. If you’ve seen my other posts over the last couple months about 9/11 related events, they came from there as well. The whole thing is well worth a read, if you have the time (it's extremely long). I’ve left out quite a bit, including many of the actions at the White House, Pentagon, NORAD, etc. There were many heroic decisions and actions made that day. And some less than heroic ones. Right guesses and wrong guesses; it’s all there at the link above. There’s quite a bit about Delta Flight 1989, which I didn’t cover, although I’m still unsure if that was a good idea. Delta Flight 1989? There was nothing wrong with it, but circumstances led the people on the ground to believe that it was the fifth hijacked plane. The timeline also seems to have been taken over by some 9/11 “truthers” in the last few years, so there’s more stuff to wade through than there used to be.

I’ve expanded this quite a bit this year, partially because it’s the tenth anniversary, but also because too many of us seem to have forgotten what happened that day, and what it felt like to live through it and the following days. I forget myself sometimes, but the yearly exercise of doing this brings it all rushing back. Producing this is an emotionally draining exercise to say the least.

As I indicated earlier, Russia was conducting a military exercise in the North Atlantic and shut it down. Putin called Bush and told him that he knew that the U.S. was raising their military alert status and in response, Russia’s military would stand down, in order to make sure nothing bad happened in a moment of high tension. Putin also told Bush that the world must unite against terrorism and that Russia would stand by the United States.

 

"Freedom and Fear are at War." - U.S. President George W. Bush

"This is a battle with only one outcome: our victory, not theirs." - UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

Where were you?

It’s 11:00 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

11:00 AM

Most skyscrapers and tourist attractions in the U.S. are evacuated and closed. The list includes Walt Disney World, Seattle’s Space Needle, Independence Hall, and many others.

There are still nearly 1000 airborne flights in U.S. airspace, and every one of them is a potential weapon.

It’s 10:39 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

10:39 AM

The FAA shuts down all U.S. airports.

It’s 10:32 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

10:32 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the White House to inform them that the Russian military is standing down a military exercise currently in progress. This is done both as a gesture of solidarity with the United States, and to reduce the risk of something happening due the high tension currently being experienced.

At about this time, the blast doors at NORAD’s operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado are closed. Cheyenne Mountain is designed to be able resist a nuclear attack when buttoned down.

Finally, remember the Matthew Broderick movie “War Games”? At about this time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumseld orders the U.S. Armed Forces to go to DEFCON 3. This is one step below preparation for war.

It’s 10:28 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

10:28 AM

The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46, 102 minutes earlier.

TOM BROKAW: There has been a declaration of war by terrorists on the United States.

It’s 10:06 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

10:06 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 crashes into an empty field just north of the Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, 124 miles or 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.

343_93crash2050081722-9364[1]

All four hijacked planes are now down. Thousands of planes are still airborne in U.S. airspace and several of them are suspected of being under the control of hijackers. All of these suspicions later turn out to be false.

Note that the exact timing of this crash is still unclear, and it could have been as early as 10:03. NORAD says 10:03. A seismic study says 10:06.

After the crash, people in Washington still believe the plane is headed towards them. Vice President Dick Cheney (R-USA) gives the order to shoot it down. And this is why I’m glad I’m not President or Vice President. I am not saying that was the right decision or the wrong one. I am saying that I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to make it.

It’s 9:59 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:59 AM

The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by United Airlines Flight 175 at 9:03 A.M., 57 minutes earlier.

TERRORIST ATTACKS

Sometime in the next hour, astronauts aboard the space station take this picture:

NASA%20picture_2050081722-25215[1]

Video:

It’s 9:58 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:58 AM

Sandy Bradshaw, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 ends her call with her husband, “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.”

Also:

Elizabeth Wainio, another passenger on Flight 93 finishes her phone conversation with her stepmother, “They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you. Good-bye.”

AND:

Todd Beamer, also aboard Flight 93 is still on the phone with GTE Customer Service rep Lisa Jefferson. He asks her to recite the Lord’s Prayer with him, and then he recites the 23rd Psalm. He tells her that some of the passengers are going to try to take control of the plane, “We’re going to do something. I know I’m not going to get out of this.”

The group he’s been talking to is apparently not the same as the group containing Tom Burnett, but both groups seem to make their move about now. Todd leaves the phone connected, and Jefferson hears screaming and commotion and Todd’s last words, “Let's Roll.

This is followed by more screaming. Jefferson stays on the line until it goes dead, approximately 8 minutes from now.

Over the next few minutes, the cockpit voice recorder records the following:

PASSENGER: In the cockpit! In the cockpit!

HIJACKER: Allah o Akbar

ANOTHER HIJACKER: Should we finish?

ANOTHER HIJACKER: Not yet!

PASSENGER: Give it to me!

ANOTHER PASSENGER: I’m injured.

MORE PASSENGERS: Roll it up! Lift it up!

Some believe that this means that the passengers did regain control, but too late to save the plane.

It’s 9:54 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:54 AM

Tom Burnett has called his wife Deena from United Airlines Flight 93 for the fourth and final time. He tells her that he and some of the other passengers are going to try to regain control of the aircraft: “We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane. If they’re going to crash this plane into the ground, we’re going to have to do something.… We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway. It’s up to us. I think we can do it. Don’t worry. I’ll be home for dinner. I may be late, but I’ll be home. We’re going to do something,” and hangs up.

These are the last words that Deena will ever hear from her husband.

Also:

Elizabeth Wainio, also aboard Flight 93, calls her stepmother Esther Heymann in Cantonsville, MD. She greets her stepmother with, “We’re being hijacked. I’m calling to say goodbye.”

It’s 9:50 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:50 AM

Sandy Bradshaw, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 calls her husband.

She says, “Have you heard what’s going on? My flight has been hijacked. My flight has been hijacked with three guys with knives.” [Boston Globe, 11/23/2001] She tells him that some passengers are in the rear galley filling pitchers with hot water to use against the hijackers.

It’s 9:48 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:48 AM

The Capitol in Washington, D.C. is evacuated for the first time in United States history.

It’s 9:45 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:45 AM

Ben Sliney, FAA’s National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It’s Sliney’s first day on the job.

Also:

United Airlines orders all its flights to land at the nearest airport.

Also:

Tom Burnett makes a third call to his wife Deena.

DEENA: Tom, you’re okay?

TOM: No, I’m not.

DEENA: They just hit the Pentagon. They think five airplanes have been hijacked. One is still on the ground. They believe all of them are commercial planes. I haven’t heard them say which airline, but all of them have originated on the east coast.

TOM: What is the probability of them having a bomb on board? I don’t think they have one. I think they’re just telling us that for crowd control.

DEENA (a former flight attendant): A plane can survive a bomb if it’s in the right place.

TOM: [The hijackers are] talking about crashing this plane into the ground. We have to do something. I’m putting a plan together. There’s a group of us.”

He tells her he will call back and hangs up. Deena is amazed at how calm he sounds.

And:

Meanwhile, Todd Beamer has still been unable to contact his family, but is still on the phone with GTE. He tells Lisa Jefferson the details of what’s going on, and she fills him on the details of what has happened outside his plane. Beamer tells Jefferson that the hijackers don’t seem to know how to fly. He tells her about his family and adds, “I just want to talk to somebody and just let someone know that this is happening.”

About this time, my sister-in-law lands in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and is stranded there, (yes, I know...not a terribly bad place to be stranded, all things considered) after all outbound flights are canceled.

It’s 9:43 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:43 AM

Tom Beamer, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 manages to reach a GTE operator using one of the Airfones on board. Phone services across the U.S. are having overload issues, and GTE is no exception. He speaks to customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson (left). Miraculously, this call stays connected all the way to the end.

By now, Cleveland Center is tracking Flight 93 as it heads towards its target in Washington, D.C. They know they have a hijacking, and they know what has happened so far, but are unable to do anything other than move other nearby flights out of the way.

It’s 9:39 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:39 AM

Aboard United Airlines Flight 93, passenger Lauren Grandcolas calls her husband in San Rafael, CA and leaves the following message on their answering machine.

GRANDCOLAS: Honey, are you there? Jack, pick up sweetie. Okay, well I just wanted to tell you I love you. We’re having a little problem on the plane. I’m comfortable and I’m okay… for now. Just a little problem. So I just love you. Please tell my family I love them too. Bye, honey.

It’s 9:37 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:37 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Approximately 125 people on the ground are later determined killed or missing. Many key officials including Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, escape injury due to the plane hitting the wrong side of the massive building. The plane hit the wrong side of the building because of missing the Pentagon on its first pass. The joint chiefs and secretary of defense offices are above the River Entrance. The National Military Command Center is also on that side of the building. Hitting it would have essentially shut down the Defense Department.

 

It’s 9:34 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:34 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 appears to turn away from Washington D.C., causing air traffic control to breathe a sigh of relief. The reason? It’s too high to hit its target, the Pentagon. So the pilot makes a large circle while descending rapidly to make another pass.

Also:

Tom Burnett, aboard United Airlines Flight 93, makes a second call to his wife Deena. She’s on the phone with the FBI, but switches over to Tom when he calls.

TOM: [The hijackers are] in the cockpit. The guy they knifed is dead…I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get a pulse.

DEENA: Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the east coast. They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.

TOM: [They are] talking about crashing this plane. Oh my gosh! It’s a suicide mission.

Tom then repeats what he’s been told to the person next to him.

Then…

TOM: [Have commercial airplanes been hijacked? How many? Who is doing this?] We’re turning back toward New York. We’re going back to the World Trade Center. No, wait, we’re turning back the other way. We’re going south. We’re over a rural area. It’s just fields. I’ve gotta go.

<click>

It’s 9:32 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:32 AM

The New York Stock Exchange closes. It will not reopen until September 17th.

Also:

Dulles air traffic control notices a plane moving very fast (500 mph+) heading eastbound on their radar. This is American Airlines Flight 77. The plane is headed towards the prohibited airspace surrounding the White House. Over the next several minutes, this plane’s path will be tracked and various nearby facilities will be notified and will engage disaster plans. Some people are evacuated from the Pentagon.

It’s 9:30 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:30 AM

Someone in the cockpit aboard United Airlines Flight 93 requests a new flight plan, with final destination, Washington, D.C. It is unclear who makes this request.

It’s 9:29 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:29 AM

President George W. Bush (R-USA) makes his first official statement about the unfolding events. He’s still at the school.

BUSH: Today we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.

It’s 9:28 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:28 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 officially becomes the 4th hijacked plane. Cleveland flight control hears sounds of struggle and possible screaming in the cockpit, followed by people speaking in Arabic.

It’s 9:27 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:27 AM.

Tom Burnett, a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93, call his wife Deena at their home in San Francisco. Despite the early hour on the west coast, Deena has already seen the television coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

She asks him if he’s ok…

TOM: No, I’m not. I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. They just knifed a guy.

DEENA: Are you in the air?

TOM: Yes, yes, just listen. Our airplane has been hijacked. It’s United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. We are in the air. The hijackers have already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They’re telling us there’s a bomb on board. Please call the authorities.

Then Tom tells his wife he’ll call back and hangs up. Deena does not have time to tell him about the what’s happened already, but she does write down everything he says.

This is the first of over 30 phone calls made by passengers of Flight 93.

It’s 9:21 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:21 AM

The New York City Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in New York City.

It’s 9:20 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:20 AM

The FAA’s Indianapolis Center finally learns that there are other hijacked aircraft, and now doubts that Flight 77 crashed. They discuss this possibility with the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia.

Also, at about this time, United Airlines Flight 23, bound to Los Angeles from JFK International in New York, cancels takeoff. It was scheduled to take off at 8:30, but left the gate late and has been sitting in line. Several Arab passengers become aggressive at this news and refuse to debark the plane. Security is called but before it arrives, the men will have vanished, leaving behind box-cutters, copies of the Koran, and al-Qaeda instruction sheets.

It is reasonable to conclude that Flight 23 was supposed to be the fifth plane to be hijacked. However, the target is unknown.

It’s 9:15 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:15 AM

American Airlines grounds all its flights, ordering all airborne planes to land at the nearest available airport. By now, they have discussed the situation with United Airlines and doubt that the second plane to hit the World Trade Center was their missing Flight 77.

It’s 9:10 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:10 AM

Flight 77 enters Washington D.C. airspace, yet flight control does not realize that this mystery plane is the hijacked American Airlines flight.

It’s also at about this time that an employee at an FAA flight service station reports that Flight 77 may have crashed near Ashland, Kentucky. No plane crashed anywhere near here, and this appears to be the result of confused radio chatter. Nevertheless, the end result is that the search for Flight 77 is disrupted.

Also:

Melodie Homer has been watching the events unfurl on TV. She is worried about her husband Leroy Homer, the co-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93. She calls the United Airlines Operation Center at JFK and asks that they send a message to him to find out if he’s ok.

They do. There is no response. A few minutes later they will send a second text message. Again, there will be no response.

It’s 9:06 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

President George W. Bush (R-USA), while reading “My Pet Goat” with a second grade class in Booker Elementary,  is told by his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card: “A second plane hit the other tower, and America’s under attack.”

He stays in the class room for the next seven minutes. Later the media will make a big deal of this, but their opinions are discounted by the people in the classroom.

It’s 9:03 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:03 AM

United Airlines Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center (Tower Two). Seismic records pinpoint the time at six seconds before 9:03 a.m. (rounded to 9:03 a.m.). Millions watch it live on TV, and realize belatedly that the United States of America is under attack.

 

 

 

 

Watch this, if you can. If the embed doesn’t work, see it at YouTube.

It’s 9:00 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

9:00 AM

Peter Hanson makes a second phone call to his father from United Airlines Flight 175.

HANSON: It’s getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and Mace—They said they have a bomb—It’s getting very bad on the plane—Passengers are throwing up and getting sick—The plane is making jerky movements—I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—don’t worry, Dad—If it happens, it’ll be very fast—My God, my God.

It’s 8:58 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:58 AM

United Airlines Flight 175 makes a power dive, descending at a rate near 10,000 feet per minute over the next few minutes, having yet another near mid-air collision with flight Midwest Airlines Flight 7.

Also:

Brian Sweeney, aboard Flight 175, calls his wife. He doesn’t reach her but leaves a message saying “We’ve been hijacked, and it doesn’t look too good.”

He then calls his mother, telling her the same, and that the hijackers are Middle Eastern. He also says that he loves her, and that the passengers are going to try “to do something about this.” Apparently the passengers are planning to storm the cockpit.

However, they run out of time before they can.

After the phone call, his mom turns on the television…

It’s 8:56 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:56 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 disappears from Indianapolis Center Radar.

It’s 8:55 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:55 AM

Flight 175 nearly has another mid-air collision, this time with Delta Flight 2315. The radar blips overlap. Moments later, Flight 175 again nearly hits another plane, US Airways Flight 542. Within the next two minutes, it will make its final turn towards New York City.

Also:

President George W. Bush (R-USA) arrives at Booker Elementary School. He is told by Karl Rove that a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Bush says that it is a horrible accident and speculates that the pilot may have had a heart attack.

It’s 8:52 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:52 AM

Two passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 175 attempt to call relatives. One is successful. Garnet Bailey, scout for the Los Angeles Kings makes four attempts to call his wife. None get through.

 

 

Meanwhile, businessman Peter Hanson does manage to get hold of his father.

HANSON: Oh, my God! They just stabbed the airline hostess. I think the airline is being hijacked.

It’s 8:51 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:51 AM

The last radio contact with American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles occurs. Sometime in the next three minutes it will become the third hijacked plane.

Flight 175 is now reported as being hijacked, and in the next few minutes Mike McCormick, head of the FAA’s New York Center will connect the dots. He sees the coverage on CNN, and knows that Flight 175 is heading in the same direction.

Probably one of the most difficult moments of my life was the 11 minutes from the point I watched that aircraft, when we first lost communications until the point that aircraft hit the World Trade Center. For those 11 minutes, I knew, we knew, what was going to happen, and that was difficult.

It’s 8:50 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:50 AM

Flight 175, believed to have been hijacked sometime in the last 8 minutes, now deviates from its assigned flight plan. It turns and heads southeast towards New York City, and climbs to 33,500 feet.

It’s 8:46 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:46 AM

American Airlines Flight 11 Hits the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

In two minutes, CNN will break off a commercial with live news. Carol Lin says, “This just in. You are looking at ... obviously a very disturbing live shot there—that is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” CNN then switches to Sean Murtagh, the network’s vice president of finance, who says in a live telephone interview, “I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City. And it appears to have crashed into—I don’t know which tower it is—but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a 737 ... a large passenger commercial jet ... It was teetering back and forth, wing-tip to wing-tip, and it looks like it has crashed into—probably, twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center—maybe the eightieth to eighty-fifth floor. There is smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.”

It’s 8:44 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:44 AM

Flight attendant Amy Sweeney of Flight 11 has been on the phone with her friend and American Airlines flight services manager Michael Woodward, describing what’s been going on. She was the second of the attendants on the flight to make a call, and has been on the phone since 8:25 AM. Her phone call ends with the following exchange.

SWEENEY: Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent… we are all over the place.

WOODWARD: Look out the window. Can you see where you are? [paraphrase]

SWEENEY: I see the water. I see the buildings. I see buildings.

SWEENEY: Oh my God!

SWEENEY: We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low.

SWEENEY: Oh my God, we are way too low.

<static>

These are Sweeney’s last words.

Also:

Betty Ong is still on the phone with Nydia Gonzalez. Her call also ends at this time.

ONG: Pray for us. Pray for us.

<line goes dead>

GONZALES: I think we might have lost her.

Still nothing in the media. Four more minutes.

It’s 8:42 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:42 AM

The flight crew of United Airlines Flight 175 makes their last transmission to air traffic control. At some point in the next four minutes, the hijackers get their second plane. We know little about the takeover of the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11, but the hijacking of Flight 175 was bloody and violent. Both pilots are killed.

At around this time, Flight 11 and Flight 175 nearly have a mid-air collision, 55 miles north of New York City.

Also at this time, United Airlines Flight 93 takes off from Newark International, bound for San Francisco. The flight is 41 minutes late getting off the ground.

So far, nothing has been reported in the media. In six minutes, that will change.

It’s 8:38 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:38 AM

The pilot of Flight 11 stops activating the talkback button. He has been doing this since approximately 8:24, turning it off and on, allowing flight control to hear some of what’s been going on in the cockpit.

It’s reasonable to believe that he’s been replaced in the pilot’s seat by a hijacker.

It’s 8:26 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:26 AM

Flight 11 makes a series of turns over the next few minutes, eventually ending up heading south-southeast, towards Manhattan.

It’s 8:25 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:25 AM

Twelve minutes after losing contact with Flight 11, Boston flight control begins notifying the chain of command that a suspected hijacking is in progress. This includes the FAA’s New England Regional Operations Center, and the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia.

It’s 8:24 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:24 AM

The pilot of Flight 11, apparently trying to signal flight control, has been intermittently turning on the talkback button in the cockpit. Boston Center hears a hijacker for the first time, talking to the passengers:

“We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you’ll be OK. We are returning to the airport.”

The transmission is unclear and there’s confusion about what flight this transmission originated from, and from whom. Boston Center gets to work trying to find out more.

It’s 8:20 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:20 AM

Several things happen at or around this time. Flight 11 veers off course, now heading towards Albany, New York. It also stops transmitting its IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) beacon signal. Flight control decides at this time that the plane has likely been hijacked.

In addition, American Airlines Flight 77 takes off at this time from Washington Dulles International Airport. Like American Flight 11 and United Flight 175, it is bound for Los Angeles, and like the other two, will never arrive.

At around this time, Daniel Lewin (above), a passenger aboard Flight 11, and former Israeli Special-Ops member is killed, becoming the first 9/11 fatality.

It’s 8:19 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:19 AM

Flight attendant Betty Ong, onboard Flight 11, calls Vanessa Minter of American Airlines and informs her that the plane has been hijacked. She speaks to Minter, associate Winston Sadler, & supervisor Nydia Gonzalez.

ONG: The cockpit’s not answering. Somebody’s stabbed in business class and… I think there’s mace… that we can’t breathe. I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.

Later:

ONG: I think the guys are up there [in the cockpit]. They might have gone there—jammed the way up there, or something. Nobody can call the cockpit. We can’t even get inside.

This is the first of independent calls made by flight attendants reporting the hijacking, but officials doubt their validity.

It’s 8:14 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:14 AM

United Airlines Flight 175, bound for Los Angeles, takes off from Boston’s Logan Airport. Scheduled for 7:58, the flight takes off 16 minutes late.

It’s 8:13 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:13 AM

Pilot John Ogonowski of American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston acknowledges the instruction from Boston Center air traffic controller Pete Zalewski to turn 20 degrees to the right. Seconds later he fails to respond to a command to climb to 35,000 feet. This is the last communication from the crew of Flight 11. Within the next 10 minutes or so, the plane’s transponder is turned off, and flight control suspects a possible hijacking in progress.

It’s 8:01 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

8:01 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 is supposed to be taking off now, however it has been delayed after leaving the gate. This delay will prove pivotal later on.

It’s 7:59 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

7:59 AM

American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston’s Logan Airport, bound for Los Angeles. It’s 14 minutes later than the scheduled 7:45 departure time.

437_map_allflights2050081722-9024-1[1]

It’s 7:40 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

7:40 AM

By now most of us on the east coast are awake, and probably headed to work. Early birds like me are probably already at work. I have an 8:00 am meeting on the other side of town, though, and I’m stuck in traffic. I’m going to be a few minutes late.

American Airlines Flight 11 leaves the gate at Boston Logan Airport. A few minutes later, Mohamed Atta calls Marwan Alshehhi aboard Flight 175 using an AirFone.

(curious as to how this was done—had to require assistance from flight crews)

It’s 7:15 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

7:15 AM

Between now and 7:36 the hijackers for American Airlines Flight 77 will all check in and make it through security.

It’s 7:03 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

7:03 AM

Between now and 7:48, the four hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 will check in and board their plane.

It’s 6:45 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

6:45 AM

Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari’s flight from Portland arrives on time to Boston Logan Airport.

ALSO:

American Airlines Flight 11 hijackers Wlaeed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami arrive at Logan in their rental car.

AND:

United Airlines Flight 93 hijacker Ziad Jarrah calls his girlfriend, Aysel Senguen, in Germany:

Senguen will later recount, “[H]e was very brief. He said he loved me three times. I asked what was up. He hung up shortly afterwards.… It was so short and rather strange him saying that repeatedly.”

It’s 6:20 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

6:20 AM

Two of the United Airlines Flight 175 hijackers check in. These are likely Ahmed and Hamza Alghamdi.

The two appear unaccustomed to traveling. One tells the representative, Gail Jawahir, that he needs a ticket, though upon examining his documents she finds he already has one. Both men have problems answering standard security questions, which Jawahir has to repeat very slowly until they give the routine, reassuring answers.

It’s 6:00 AM September 11, 2001–Where Are You?

6:00 AM
A van arrives at the Colony Beach Resort, in FL, where President George W. Bush (R-USA) has spent the night. The occupants, men of Middle Eastern descent, claim that they have a poolside interview with the President. They do not have such an appointment and are turned away. Many speculate that this was an assassination attempt in conjunction with the later events of the day.

It’s 5:43 AM September 11, 2001–Where Are You?

5:43 AM

Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari check in at Portland International for their flight to Boston.

Ticket agent Michael Tuohey (left) is disturbed by their appearance.

Noting that their flight is soon due to leave, the ticket agent who checks them in, Michael Tuohey, says, “You’re cutting it close.” [PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, 3/6/2005] Tuohey thinks the pair seems unusual. He notices they both have $2,500 first-class, one-way tickets. He later comments, “You don’t see many of those.” Atta looks “like a walking corpse. He looked so angry.” In contrast, Tuohey says, Alomari can barely speak English and has “a goofy smile, I can’t believe he knew he was going to die that day.”

It’s 5:33 AM September 11, 2001–Where Are You?

Ten years ago today. I still remember it like it was yesterday.

5:33 AM.

Most of us are still asleep, but not Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari. Having spent the night in Portland, ME, they need to get up early to get back to Boston on time. They check out of their hotel and drive to Portland International Jetport Airport.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peaceful Green Hippies On Twitter

I’m so far behind in my blogging, but this one stands out. I haven’t done a Peaceful Green Hippies post in a while.

Hmm..wonder if they can use the hashtag #PGHOT?

 

This, my friends, IS the liberal left. I see it every day in my own Twitter feed.

September 10, 1946

While riding a train to Darjeeling, Sister Teresa Bojaxhiu of the Loreto Sisters' Convent hears the call of God, directing her "to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them".

We know this woman today as Mother Teresa, or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She acquired the title “Blessed” after her beatification by Pope John Paul II in 2003. Beatification means that the Catholic Church has accepted documented evidence of her performing one miracle.

She will be canonized, and become Saint Teresa of Calcutta, if and when documentation of a second miracle is established.

September 10, 2001

Tomorrow is the day.

The NSA intercepts at least two disturbing Arabic transmissions:

At least two messages in Arabic are intercepted by the NSA. One states, “The match is about to begin” and the other states, “Tomorrow is zero hour.” Later reports translate the first message as, “The match begins tomorrow.”

Further intercepts from other agencies include:

On this day, electronic intercepts connected to these undercover agents hear messages such as, “Watch the news” and “Tomorrow will be a great day for us.”

A fifth grader in Dallas, TX tells his teacher:

“Tomorrow, World War III will begin. It will begin in the United States, and the United States will lose.”

A sixth grader in Jersey City, NJ tell his teacher something similar:

A sixth-grade student of Middle Eastern descent in Jersey City, New Jersey, says something that alarms his teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. “Essentially, he [warns] her to stay away from lower Manhattan because something bad [is] going to happen,” says Sgt. Edgar Martinez, deputy director of police services for the Jersey City Police Department

Finally, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz make a mysterious trip to Portland, ME.

According to the FBI, the pair leave Boston in the afternoon in a blue Nissan Altima and drive to South Portland, where they check into a Comfort Inn around 5:45 p.m. They are caught on security cameras visiting a gas station, two ATMs, and shopping at a Wal-Mart. The next morning they fly back to Boston, where they board the airplane they will hijack.

Fast & Furious Hits Home: Indiana

Apparently it’s not enough to arm Mexican drug cartels. We’re also arming gangs in Indiana. Doesn’t this administration make you feel safer?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has acknowledged an Indiana dealer’s cooperation in conducting straw purchases at the direction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Exclusive documents obtained by Gun Rights Examiner show the dealer cooperated with ATF by selling guns to straw purchasers, and that bureau management later asserted these guns were being traced to crimes.

I’ve said this before, but it bears mentioning again. Perhaps it’d be simpler at this point to ask people to raise their hands if they belong to a group that didn’t receive illegal guns from the government.

See the slideshow here of U.S. DoJ documents related to this story.

And Codrea (author of the linked article) asks the all important questions:

It’s also fair to ask if it seems credible that such similar operations would develop independently in the Southwest (“Project Gunwalker”) and the Midwest (“Project Gangwalker’?), without authorization from and oversight coordination by Main Justice.

Pretty sure the answer to that one has to be “no”.

Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars has advocated opening “a second front” to complement House Oversight Committee investigations, and this column has been a consistent advocate for appointment of a truly independent special investigator, as well as for individual state attorneys general determining if multiple felony violations of their state laws, committed jointly by two or more persons, have been perpetrated.  What seems clear is none of this will happen unless gun owners create such an uproar that their demands cannot be ignored—by timid political wind riders who don’t wish to get involved, by an arrogant, stonewalling administration, and by their protectors/abettors in the mainstream press.

I have a lot of problems with “special prosecutors”. I think they are impossible to restrain if/when they go beyond their mandate without making it look like you’re covering something up. I think that often they become desperate to prove something to justify their cost and go overboard. I think you saw that with both Ken Starr and Patrick Fitzgerald.

However, having said that, this clearly appears to be a case of serious misconduct by the Department of Justice, and anyone who honestly believes that in such a case that the DoJ can investigate itself should unsubscribe from this blog right now. You’re too dumb to be reading this.

Perhaps Congressional oversight will be sufficient. I do believe that Congressman Issa (R-CA-49) is doing his best, but their may be limits to his ability to get to the truth.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9, 2001

Osama bin Laden calls his stepmother to tell her about the upcoming attack.

“In two days, you’re going to hear big news and you’re not going to hear from me for a while.” US officials later will tell CNN that “in recent years they’ve been able to monitor some of bin Laden’s telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/2/2001]Stepmother Al-Khalifa bin Laden, who raised Osama bin Laden after his natural mother died, is apparently waiting in Damascus, Syria, to meet Osama there, so he calls to cancel the meeting. [SUNDAY HERALD (GLASGOW), 10/7/2001] They had met periodically in recent years. Before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother. The next day government officials say about the call, “I would view those reports with skepticism.”

This same day, Mohamed Atta is seen behaving oddly at Boston Logan Airport.

At Boston’s Logan Airport, during the morning, businesswoman Jan Shineman is checking in for Flight 11 to Los Angeles, when she notices a man resembling Mohamed Atta behaving suspiciously. She later recalls him wearing “summery, holiday-type clothes… and he had no baggage, just a folder with a notebook.” She sees him again at the gate for Flight 11, “taking notes, watching the pilots in the cockpit through the window by the gate. They were running through their pre-flight checks.” She decides, “if he had boarded I would have told the captain about him, he was so odd and frightening.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8, 1966

Space: The Final Frontier…

The first episode of Star Trek, “The Man Trap” is aired on NBC in the 8:30-9:30 time slot. This was the third episode actually filmed, but the first to be aired.

September 8, 1974

Proclamation 4311

GRANTING PARDON TO RICHARD NIXON

------

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Richard Nixon became the thirty-seventh President of the United States on January 20, 1969 and was reelected in 1972 for a second term by the electors of forty-nine of the fifty states. His term in office continued until his resignation on August 9, 1974.

Pursuant to resolutions of the House of Representatives, its Committee on the Judiciary conducted an inquiry and investigation on the impeachment of the President extending over more than eight months. The hearings of the Committee and its deliberations, which received wide national publicity over television, radio, and in printed media, resulted in votes adverse to Richard Nixon on recommended Articles of Impeachment.

As a result of certain acts or omissions occurring before his resignation from the Office of President, Richard Nixon has become liable to possible indictment and trial for offenses against the United States. Whether or not he shall be so prosecuted depends on findings of the appropriate grand jury and on the discretion of the authorized prosecutor. Should an indictment ensue, the accused shall then be entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury, as guaranteed to every individual by the Constitution.

It is believed that a trial of Richard Nixon, if it became necessary, could not fairly begin until a year or more has elapsed. In the meantime, the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-ninth.

Where’ve You Been, Chris?

Some of you have noticed that I’ve virtually disappeared from blogging and Twitter over the last few weeks. In fact, I’ve been asked about it more than once.

So, here’s an explanation.

Other than my family and my work, there are 5 passions in my life. In no particular order, they are: 1) sports (especially basketball and football), computers, mathematics, politics, and reading. Despite my vacation in July, I am still quite a bit behind in my reading, so I’ve been doing a bit more of that lately. That’s the first and simplest reason for my silence.

However, that’s not the biggest reason. I’ve been moderately interested in sports ratings, such as the Sagarin ratings for years. In fact, I wrote a very simple one myself for NFL football back when I was about 16. Research into these things has been an on again off again hobby of mine since then. About 4 years ago, I actually got serious about it. I wrote my own rating system for college football, men’s college basketball and the NFL. It’s actually a pretty good system and I use it to identify which teams are better or worse than their records make them appear to be. I can use it to project winners and losers as well. And this combines three of my passions: sports, computers, and mathematics.

It’s a pretty sophisticated system, and I’ve added to it every year. Unfortunately, the foundations for it are not strong. My first attempt used an Excel spreadsheet. That version quickly morphed into a little Windows app with an Access database. Sadly, I had to use a different Access database for every sport, and adding additional sports (other than probably women’s college basketball) would have been difficult. The Access database still shows its Excel roots, and has problems because of it. The app requires constant babysitting, especially during basketball season, just to make sure that it’s not missing games or including the same games twice, or has the wrong home teams, etc.

In other words, the app’s shaky foundations made future enhancements increasingly more difficult. Also, from the very beginning I’ve wanted a better way to get these ratings and projections published, and the web seemed the best way to do that. But turning this into a web based application, with it’s shaky foundation and all, would have likely made for an unpleasant and unreliable user experience.

Therefore, it’s been a dream of mine for the last couple of years to rewrite the app from the ground up. And that’s what has consumed quite a bit of my time over the last few weeks (actually, over the last few months, but much more since mid-August). I needed to create a much more robust database (using SQL Server this time) that could handle multiple sports, and even sporting events with more than two opponents. I also had it in the back of my mind that I could make it do some political projections. In fact, that’s how Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com got his start. He did baseball ratings and expanded into politics. This would add one more passion to the list as well. Smile

Well, the good news is all of that work for sports is essentially done. There’s still work that needs to go into the website, but the app itself is working and I ran it on college football this week. Most of the calculations require two games of data to produce any results, and really need five or six weeks of data to produce reliable ones, so I have a little time left to finish up the website. It’ll be called www.cjbratings.com. Don’t go there now. I own the domain, but there’s no site yet (I have one on my local PC to play with, but it isn’t ready for prime time).

The better news is that yesterday I had an epiphany on the political side and I now believe I can produce political ratings as well. There will be another website devoted just to that. I haven’t decided on a name yet. But I’ll be able to produce projections on House and Senate control, Governors, and electoral college projections. In time I’ll even be able to do some local stuff, state legislatures and what not. The first things that will appear will likely be the GOP primaries next year. I should have it online with at least the minimal functionality necessary for that by around the turn of the year.

I’ll reference all of that on this blog, but the calculated data will be on its own website. One of the things that Nate Silver does that has always ticked me off is that he combines political commentary with numerical analysis. Yes, I do plenty of political commentary myself, but I go to his site for the numerical analysis, not the commentary (he’s done less of this since he joined the New York Times). It has always irked me having to wade through all of that to get to the numbers. I’d like people to feel comfortable looking at my numbers whether or not they subscribe to similar political beliefs to mine.

There’s a little more effort involved here to get the websites up and running, but almost all of the heavy lifting is done. I’ll be more vocal again in the near future. Probably starting next week. I have my annual 9/11 blogging coming up on Sunday. It’s still not finished, so I need to do some more work on that tonight and tomorrow night.

September 8, 2001

American Airlines Flight 11 hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari reports that his ticket is lost and asks for a replacement.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 6, 2001

A student in an English class for Pakistani immigrants…

points towards the WTC, and says, “Do you see those two buildings? They won’t be standing there next week.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1, 1939

The German Luftwaffe bomb Wieluri (left, click to view full size), Poland. This is the first battle in the German invasion of Poland and the official start of World War II.

Following several German-staged incidents (like the Gleiwitz incident, a part of Operation Himmler), which German propaganda used as an excuse to claim that German forces were acting in self-defence, the first regular act of war took place on 1 September 1939, at 04:40, when the Luftwaffe attacked the Polish town of Wieluń, destroying 75% of the city and killing close to 1,200 people, most of them civilians. This invasion subsequently began World War II. Five minutes later, the old German pre-dreadnought battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish military transit depot at Westerplatte in the Free City of Danzig on the Baltic Sea. At 08:00, German troops—still without a formal declaration of war issued—attacked near the Polish town of Mokra. The Battle of the Border had begun. Later that day, the Germans attacked on Poland's western, southern and northern borders, while German aircraft began raids on Polish cities. The main axis of attack led eastwards from Germany proper through the western Polish border. Supporting attacks came from East Prussia in the north, and a co-operative German-Slovak tertiary attack by units (Field Army "Bernolák") from German-allied Slovakia in the south. All three assaults converged on the Polish capital of Warsaw.

The Soviet Union will soon ally with Germany (yes, you read that right), and also invade Poland from the east. Germany and the U.S.S.R. will divide Poland among themselves on October 6.

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