Cynical Synapse

Sun, 28 Feb 2010

Dillon Finally Decides to Run for Michigan Governor

Filed under: Government, Governor, Indecision, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 10:01 am

Andy Dillon

After months of what must have been serious, thoughtful consideration, Andy Dillon finally made up his to run for Michigan governor. The Democrat from Redford is serving his final term in the state House, of which he is the speaker. He formed an exploratory committee in early January, but Dillon’s been thinking about running for at least a year. Why so long to make this decision, Mr. Speaker?

In giving the freep a heads up on on his planned Sunday announcement, Dillon said:

I think I’m best suited to lead our state through these difficult economic times and lead us to a better day when we can see economic growth and job growth happen again.

Seems to me, the veracity of that statement can be assessed from his performance as Speaker of the House. Oddly enough, with little or no work on the 2010 budget to show for themselves, the House recessed before the July 4th holiday. They took July and most of August off, not reconvening until 19 August

. Perhaps Mr. Dillon’s leadership style is to work under pressure since he left himself only about 5 weeks to work on the state budget. Well, no, not really. Approval of the state budget followed a brief shutdown just like Dillon’s failure on the budget in 2007. Oh, and parts of that “approved” budget were actually just continuation measures, so the budget still wasn’t really done.

Andy Dillon listening

Maybe Dillon was doing his best. He told the freep:

If anyone was watching closely, I was usually trying to keep the Senate and the governor at the table and trying to force the middle ground to get compromise. I wish it was done quicker, better and faster, but for those that were inside and observed, I think they see I’m the guy was trying to reach out and pull the rhetoric back and just get to the table and reach the compromise we need for the residents of the state.

Last time I checked, “forcing the middle ground to get compromise” didn’t include calling Gov. Granholm’s proposals “showboating”, especially since she’s a fellow Democrat. Better yet, even though Dillon essentially gave the Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) the Republican-led Senate’s version of the budget, Dillon blasted Bishop, the Senate Leader. In a statement, Dillon said, “This Senate-led ‘all-cuts’ budget will result in bankrupt communities, schools in receivership and broken promises for students seeking to go to college so they can join the middle class.” This, even though Dillon basically agreed with Bishop on the Senate’s budget version for the final state budget. The conventional wisdom is they worked out a deal for Dillon’s gubernatorial run and Bishop’s candidacy for state Attorney General.

As for work ethic, the Speaker of Michigan’s House, Andy Dillon missed 13.3% of House votes last year, according to Michigan Votes. Only 5 other representatives, out of 110, missed as many or more votes. That puts Dillon in the bottom 4.5% of of Michigan’s Representatives. Not particularly enviable, if you ask me.

Andy Dillon 'listening'

Let me summarize. Andy Dillon, the Speaker of Michigan’s House of Representatives, missed more votes than 95% of the House. He’s been contentious with both Senate Leader Mike Bishop, a Republican, and Gov. Granholm, a Democrat. He took the summer off rather than work on the budget. And when time was running out, he essentially caved to Mike Bishop’s plan as passed by the Senate. Did I mention Dillon took a year to make up his mind about running for governor? Still, he thinks he’s the man for the job. He told the freep:

My frustration in Lansing has been watching the interference of government at times, and stifling growth. We’ve got to basically reinvent government from top to bottom and make it work for the people and work for less dollars.

Dillon thinks he’s offering Michigan hope and change. We’ve already seen how that turned out last time. And some of Dillon’s key backers are former Kwame Kilpatrick supporters.

Previously on Dillon:

Previously on gubernatorial candidates:

Sat, 27 Feb 2010

Absent Until 8 March

Filed under: Uncategorized — cynicalsynapse @ 6:40 am

I will have very limited Internet access until 8 March. As a result, I anticipate not making any posts this week. Rest assured, I will be back.

Thu, 25 Feb 2010

No Fair Except for Me—Dems Planning Nuclear Option

Filed under: Budget, Citizen rights, Congress, Economy, Government, Politics, President, Society, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 6:18 am

Harry Reid and mushroom cloud

In 2005, Democratic Senators were up in arms over their Republican counterparts, who were the majority at the time, proposing to use the nuclear option to change Senate rules. At issue was Democrats using the filibuster to obstruct Pres. Bush’s judicial nominees. It’s important to note the purpose of the filibuster is to empower “41 or more senators to prevent a narrow majority from abusing its power.”

Nuclear option indignance

So, why are Democrats considering the nuclear option to pass health care reform? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wasn’t even bashful about an end run on Face to Face with Jon Ralston last Friday. It seems likely Democrats will use budget reconciliation rules to get around the fillibuster. Instead of the 60-member supermajority needed for cloture, such a bill would pass on a simple majority—51 or more Senators.

The drastic changes in the health care bill are not just a “budget reconciliation”. And the matter is far more serious, affecting over 300 million Americans, than Bush’s judicial nominees. Call, fax, write, or email your Senators to tell them you will not stand for circumventing the Founding Fathers’ intent on the legislative process, not even for health care reform.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010

Is Pete Hoekstra Governor Material?

Filed under: Behavior, Congress, Government, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 8:42 am

Pete Hoekstra at a town hall

A friend of a friend recently had the opportunity to attend a town hall meeting held by Michigan gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra (R), currently a US representative. Here are the friend’s thoughts from that meeting.

This morning, I had the opportunity (after a Holland town hall meeting of sorts) to speak to Pete Hoekstra, who hopes to run for governor of Michigan soon. After thinking about our conversation and pondering throughout the day, I thought it would probably be valuable to share our conversation, along with some of my thoughts, with my Facebook friends … so we can all be more informed voters.

Towards the end of the meeting, a young man passed out flyers down each row to everyone in the room titled “The Truth About Pete”. Among the issues raised in this pamphlet was one issue that particularly draws my ire toward Hoekstra and our friend “Old Vern”. I hearken back to the TARP passed under Bush ($700 billion) for which, I believe, every congressman in our state voted except McCotter and one other. I made many phone calls to Ehlers against the passage of TARP, and I was not alone.

After the town hall, myself and a friend and eventually a small group of people gathered around Mr. Hoekstra and asked him first about the flyer, which he discounted as mostly half truths and distortions, then asked him more specifically about his stance on TARP. I asked him specifically if he subscribed to the economics of Keynes (Adam Maynard). His reply was that at the time of TARP, Washington was coming down hard and really pressuring the congressmen to vote for this bill and that hindsight is 20/20. He let us know that he surely would not have utilized the TARP in the fashion that it has been used but he does not look back on it as a mistake. He went on to explain the importance of town hall meetings, such as the one we attended, and the symbiosis with the people that now exists, allowing the people to help guide their congressman’s vote on such issues.

His answer was that of a practiced politician and I keep kicking myself for things I could/should have said, but here are my two thoughts.

  1. His explanation that the pressure from Washington regarding the TARP and the scaremongering that was going on played a factor in his decision makes me question the strength of his character in the face of adversity. It is ironic that Barbara Day, one of the speakers at the meeting, spoke that day of how the duty of our politicians is not to get direction from Washington but to protect the people from Washington. I came away feeling Hoekstra falls short of this duty.
  2. I also mistrust his explanation of symbiosis with the people. When the $700B TARP was being hurried to a vote, there was no absence of the people’s voice. When I called “Old Vern” preceding this vote, his staffers let me know that I was one among many to call regarding that bill and the mass of callers was against TARP. The lack of symbiosis with the people during TARP only existed because our congressmen brazenly turned their back on their constituents and bailed out the banks.

Needless to say, I have serious doubts that Mr. Hoekstra will get my vote for governor and I am glad that I did not sign the form seeking to put him on the ballot.

Pete Hoekstra

After the Christmas Day attempt to blow up Northwest flight 253, Hoekstra used the terrorist incident for fundraising. Another indicator of the type of politician Hoekstra is came from the Wall Street bailout. On Monday, 29 Sep 2008, he voted againts the $700 billion bill. After the Senate added another $100 billion in pork, Hoekstra changed his mind and voted for the bailout that Friday. I don’t know how he benefited; I wonder why he decided a more expensive bill was better than the one he voted against early in the same week.

The Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee has compromised US intelligence on several occasions. While touring Iraq, Hoekstra broadcast the secret itinerary on Twitter. In an op-ed piece he wrote, Hoekstra included classifed information. And after MAJ Hasan went on his terrorist rampage, killing 14, at Fort Hood, Hoekstra compromised a sensitive intelligence program just for the sake of criticizing the Obama administration.

Hoesktra says he’s a national security expert, but that’s obviously not the case. He also says he’ll be an effective leader for Michigan. How does he define that? The kind that takes advantage of situations for personal or politcal gain? Or the kind that’s easily bought for the right vote? Just sayin…

Tue, 23 Feb 2010

Kilpatrick Jobs Program About to Pay Off

Filed under: Behavior, Budget, Detroit, Government, Kwamegate, Legal, Politics, Profiteering, Rants, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 11:50 pm

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick continues to garner nationwide headlines, much to the chagrin of southeast Michigan. On Monday, Detroit’s newspapers were reporting the FBI is close to charging Kilpatrick under RICO, the Federal Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act. The on-going Federal investigation has kept many people employed in metro Detroit. The Feds have said they suspect Kilpatrick was running a criminal enterprise, which allows them to pursue charges under RICO. Their key piece of evidence is testimony from former Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado. He supposedly told investigators that he gave Kilpatrick $100,000 and gave another $290,000 to Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard, for access to Cobo Center deals.

Kilpatrick has long been suspected of corruption and the FBI investigations in Detroit has been its own little Stimulus project, providing Federal jobs for quite a few people. Kado apparently has provided sworn statements detailing payments to the Kilpatricks. The scandal includes Cobo Center directors Lou Pavledes and Glenn Barton. Kado and Paveledes’ lawyer also implicated Bernard Kilpatrick. To date, the Federal investigation has impacted the following:

  • Karl Kado—Cobo contractor; pleaded guilty to falsifying tax returns; sentencing in March 2010
  • Lou Pavledes—Cobo director; pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Kado; 14 months in prison
  • Glenn Blanton—Pavledes’ successor as Cobo director; pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Kado; 1 year in prison
  • James R. Rosendall Jr—Synagro Technologies VP; sentenced to 11 months for bribery
  • Rayford W. Jackson—Synagro’s Detroit partner; sentenced to 5 years for bribery
  • Monica Conyers—Detroit City Council member and wife of US Rep. John Conyers; cast the deciding vote in favor of Synagro’s $1.2 billion sludge contract; pleaded guilty to accepting $6,000; sentencing scheduled 10 March
  • Jerry Rivers—Detroit Police Officer, member of the mayor’s executive protection unit; pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with the sale of city land; sentencing scheduled 11 March
  • Kandia Milton—Kilpatrick’s childhood friend and a top mayoral aid; pleaded guilty to bribery in the sale of Camp Brighton; sentencing 18 March
  • DeDean Milton—Kandia’s brother; pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with 2 city land deals; sentencing 13 May
  • Sam Riddle—fomer aide to Monica Conyers and political consultant; awaiting retrial after a hung jury on charges of conspiracy and extortion; pending trial on separate charges of bribery in Southfield
  • Mary Waters—Riddle’s former live-in companion; also charged in the Southfield bribery case; trial date set for 01 June
  • William Lattimore—Southfield City Councilman; pleaded guilty to taking a bribe from Riddle in connection with a pawn shop relocation; sentencing 11 March

Judge Groner

As if that’s not enough, Kilpatrick was short $38,778 in restitution of the $79,011 that was due Friday, 19 February. One of Kilpatrick’s laywers said he didn’t know the source of the $40,000 payment that did not come from Kilpatrick himself. Michael Alan Schwartz suggested the money came from “wamrhearted people who wanted to help out.” Bill Ballenger, editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter had this to say.

One can be impressed or cynical about the level of political power the man still commands. This could be peple who really care about him, and it could be people who fear his power if things get worse. And then again, it might be a further scheme to hide his own money coming in as donations from others.

Funny; that’s the same conclusion Drew and Mike came to on WRIF radio.

Judge David Groner ordered Kilpatrick to be in court at 9 AM, Friday, 26 February, for arraignment on probation violations. Groner also opened the door for prosecutors to raise concerns about other probation violations.

Previously on Kwamegate:

Mon, 22 Feb 2010

Contentious Millage Issues on Ballot

Filed under: Budget, Economy, Education, Government, Politics, Take action, Taxes — cynicalsynapse @ 10:39 pm

Voters locked in by taxes

In case you didn’t know, February 23rd is an election day in Michigan. For metro Detroit, 4 school districs and 2 municipalities have tax proposals on the ballot. Usually only about 5% of registered voters turn out for off-cycle elections in February and May, but officials expect anywhere from 25-40% in some communities. At issue? Raising taxes to counter declining property tax revenue. Public officials are claiming adding mills to the tax won’t actually raise your taxes because property values have declined. There are two problems with that logic. First, about half of homeowners haven’t seen tax cuts due to depreciated housing values because their property hasn’t been equalized or gone through a sale to adjust the tax levy. Second, even if they’re enjoying lower taxes, homeowners may be affected to lower pay or even unemployment, so a tax increase is still hard for them.

Here’s my first concern with this election. It’s a special election. Usually there is only the general election in November, but there can be 3 additional elections each year under Michigan law. There is a cost to hold elections. From my perspective, each special election has an unnecessary cost because the matter could and should have been deferred to the general election. Needing a special election is evidence of poor planning by officials. Except for elections in Van Buren Township, which involves voting on recalling 2 trustees, the clerk, and supervisor, and Hamburg Township’s vote to fill a vacant clerk’s term, metro Detroit’s elections are all about tax increases.

666--highway to hell

Most egregious of the millage requests to me is the one for Pinckney Schools. They’re asking the current 7.35 mills for about 10 years to 2037. That should support a $59.5 million dollar bond issue the district wants to use for building improvements, technology upgrades, and to replace a 50-year-old athletic facility. My issue with this? Voters turned in down last November. Why is the district wasting money on a special election when voters already said no? Superintendent Don Danosky says they have to sell the bonds by June in order to take advantage of being able to save $375,000 in interest payments through the federal Stimulus. What’s different today from last November? Nothing! I hate how schools continue to put millage issues on the ballot until they wear voters down and it passes. Pinckney voters need to get out and ensure the school district understands the word no.

Next up on my list of despicable voter bludgeoning are the millage proposals in Troy and Bloomfield Township. Troy seeks a 1.9 mill increase while Bloomfield Township is after an additional 1.3 mills. That’s about $190 and $266 extra per year, respectively. In both cases, officials are using public safety as human shields. Troy says 150 positions, including 50 police officers, will be eliminated, along with closing the library, community center, and historical museum. Similarly, Bloomfield Township threatens 25 positions, saying 2/3 of their payroll is police and fire/EMS. Opponents of both of these millage requests say officials haven’t done enough to reduce costs. In Bloomfield, a 2009 Plante + Moran study said the township could save $10 million over 10 years by consolidating DPW services with surrounding communities. Opponents in Troy suggest cutting management before cutting workers, reducing hours at the library and community center, and using volunteers instead of paid staff.

the old school

Berkley schools are asking for a whopping 4.27 mills to raise $167 million so they can upgrade buildings and build a new middle school. The cost is about $213 per year for a typical $100,000 home. Officials claim energy efficiency improvements will save operational costs, but I’ve already posted on the fallacy of such cost savings. Opponent Bob Williams, 62, who has lived in the district his entire life, says there’s no need to spend a lot of money on the buildings.

I’m an architect, and I know a little about buildings. I think they’re trying to scare the public into thinking we have to do it this way or the buildings might not be safe or appropriate for a kid’s education.

Chippewa Valley and Hartland Consolidated Schools are both asking to extend existing millages for 5 years. Chippewa’s 7.65 millage would last until 2031 while Hartland’s 7.6 mills would be extended to 2035. Each district says they need the millage extensions to fund school security and technology improvements. In both cases, homeowners would continue to pay about $380 per year for an additional 5 years. The question for voters is whether they’re getting their money’s worth.

If you live in one of the jurisdictions holding elections on 23 February, you need to get out and vote. You have no right to complain otherwise, and you deserve what you get.

Sun, 21 Feb 2010

Federal Budget in Layman’s Terms

Filed under: Budget, Economy, Government, Politics, President, Taxes — cynicalsynapse @ 8:53 am

Money down the toilet

My friend, the Old Man, over at the Common Peoples Source for News, spent a week or two going through Pres. Obama’s Federal budget proposal for FY 2011. I’ve only glanced at his work, but I expect this to be a great resource for bloggers as politicians get into debating this budget. He even has Microsoft Excel spreadsheets available for download.

We have a saying in the military: BLUF. It stands for bottom line up front. The Old Man’s FY-11 budget project does that. Obama plans to spend $3,860.528 billion and projects revenues of $2,566.305 billion. Even the math dyslexic like me can easily see that means a deficit of $1,294.223 billion in the 2010-11 spending frenzy.

Thanks, Old Man.

Sat, 20 Feb 2010

Woodward Transit Project on Track

Filed under: Detroit, Economy, Government, Politics, Stimulus, Transit — cynicalsynapse @ 3:04 pm

Detroit Amtrak station

Michigan doesn’t seem to get a lot of good news. Even when it does, it’s usually a mixed blessing. Like unemployment is down, but it’s still the highest in the country at 14.5%. Or last month’s $40 million Federal grant for the Pontiac-Chicago Amtrak line. The money is for station improvements, not upgrading the line itself to high-speed standards. Michigan had asked for $800 million to upgrade track and signaling.

On Wednesday, 17 February, though, the news was all good for metro Detroit. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a $25 million grant for M1 Rail, the light rail line planned for Woodward Avenue in Detroit. The funding comes of part of the Stimulus known as TIGER—Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. In announcing the grant, the USDOT press release said:

The project will have significant short-term benefits for Detroit’s beleaguered economy, including job creation and economic activity. The city also expects the project to provide for significant long-term economic growth in the corridor, while improving mobility on a congested portion of Woodward Avenue, which carries 27,000 vehicles per day, on average. The project is also expected to enhance mobility options in this corridor, and attract investment to Downtown Detroit and the New Center area.

Artist rendering of transit on Woodward Av

In raising the local match for the project, a public-private partnership almost certainly helped snatch the $25 million. Frank Rapoport, an expert with the law firm of McKenna, Long, & Aldridge, LLP said, “Your business community should be congratulated. Detroit is out front here. It’s a great example of public-private partnership.”

Detroit’s big names in business play a big role here. Penske’s Roger Penske, Peter Karmanos Jr of Compuware, Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and founder of Little Ceasar’s, as well as Quicken Loans/Rock Financial founder Dan Gilbert are all involved. Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority and Troy-based Kresge Foundation also kicked in money.

Planned M1 light rail project

Phase 1 of the M1 Rail project runs 3.4 miles from Hart Plaza, at the foot of Woodward, northwest to Grand Boulevard in the New Center Area. The route takes it past Campus Martius, which hosts ice skating in the winter, Comerica Park and Ford Field, home fields of the Tigers and Lions, respectively. Also along the way are the Foxtown theater district, Detroit Medical Center, and the Cultural Center. The Detroit Science Center, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Public Library, Detroit History Museum, and Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History all call the Cultural Center home. The New Center area is a commercial hub north of downtown and home of Wayne State University and Henry Ford Hospital. Detroit’s Amtrak station is also in the New Center area.

Trains will average speeds of 31 to 47 miles per hour, aided by an in-street system with signal pre-emption to turn traffic lights green on Woodward as the train approaches. Pre-board fare payment will also reduce dwell times. Wait times between trains will be about 10 minutes. Trains will stop at Hart Plaza and New Center each trip, but at the other 10 stations only when summoned.

Cobo Center

Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the city plan to apply for Federal Transit Administration New Starts grant money later this year to fund Phase 2, envisioned to run to 8 Mile Road. Transit advocates hope to see the line extend into Oakland County in the future. Doing so will greatly expand ridership in my opinion. The present plan, however, stops short by not extending its southern terminus 3 blocks to Cobo Center. With a regional authority set to expand and renovate the home of the North American International Auto Show, not connecting it to transit seems short-sighted. Another mistep is DDOT’s newly opened Rosa Parks Transit Center that sits 4 blocks off Woodward and 5 blocks away from Cobo.

Construction could begin later this year or early next with Phase 1 beginning operations as early as 2012. Khalid Diab, manager of The Whitney, an upscale restaurant on Woodward, said, “This rail system is the start of a new page in the city’s growth and development. We haven’t received a lot of positive news over the years here in Detroit, but this is great news for the city.”

Previously on metro Detroit transit:

Fri, 19 Feb 2010

Granholm’s Physician Tax a Sick Idea

Filed under: Budget, Economy, Government, Medicine, Michigan, Politics, Take action, Taxes — cynicalsynapse @ 4:58 pm

Healthcare crisis

Forgive me, but I’m not quite understanding this. According to the freep, Michigan has a shortage of critical care doctors. To make matters worse, almost half of Michigan’s 40,000 doctors plan to retire in the next 10 years. Gov. Granholm (D) proposed a 3% tax on physician gross receipts as part of her 2010-11 budget plan. That’s on top of income and business taxes they pay just like the rest of us. If you were a doc, would you stay or start a practice in Michigan under those conditions?

Now leaving Michigan

In an effort to reverse the shortage, Michigan has a program that helps primary care physicians repay medical school loans if they work in under-served areas. Except now the program is on hold because of budget issues. Oakland and Central Michigan Universities are standing up medical schools. Michigan State is expanding its medical school to Grand Rapids. That means Michigan will graduate more doctors in the years to come. There is little to encourage them to stay in Michigan to practice, however.

Another reason doctors may leave Michigan is the skyrocketing numbers of Medicaid patients. Medicaid has a lower reimbursement rate than private insurance. Michigan’s Medicaid rolls have ballooned 53% in the last 10 years. That’s not surprising, considering Michigan has the highest unemployment in the country at 14.6%. One in 6 Michigan residents are eligible for Medicaid.

The physician tax was a bad idea last October and it’s a bad idea now. Urge your state representative and state senator to throw the physician tax out with the bathwater.

Previously on Michigan’s 2011 budget:

Thu, 18 Feb 2010

Epic Fail: “Terrorists are So Dehumanized”

Filed under: Behavior, Duh, Flying, Global War on Terror, Government, Legal, Life, National security, People, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 1:27 pm

US Attorney General Eric Holder

US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the Federal Bar Association luncheon in Detroit February 17th. I wonder if he realized Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was only 45 minutes away in Milan Federal Prison, awaiting trial for his attempt to blow up Northwest flight 253. Holder avoided the topic of terrorism and trying terrorists in civil courts. Here’s as close as he came:

We face new legal challenges, new missions, and new threats to our nation’s safety. In the face of these challenges, we have, I believe, an opportunity—an obligation—to choose collaboration and civic engagement over cynicism and over criticism.

WTF? Can’t we all just get along syndrome. Holder decided to let the Christmas Day Undie-bomber lawyer up so he can be tried in civil court. So now everyone is calling him an alleged bomber or a suspected terrorist. Ask anyone on the plane; I’ll bet they were terified. Under immense criticism for this, Holder wrote to Congress that the FBI informed its “relevant partners in the Intelligence Community” on Dec. 25th that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would be charged criminally. He also said “no agency objected to this course of action.” So why, then, does it turn out none of the intelligence chiefs were consulted about extending Miranda rights to an enemy combatant?

Jay Howard

Maybe it’s because the man who sat next to Abdulmutallab thinks he’s a nice guy. You can’t make this stuff up! In an interview, National Public Radio’s Michelle Norris asked college student Jay Howard, 22, of Grand Rapids MI, why he kept referring to Abdulmutallab by his first name. Howard answered, “I only call him that because I mean, I don’t want to call him a terrorist because he hasn’t been treated as a terrorist and it wasn’t a national threat, and so using Umar seems to be more human.” Excuse me? The extremist tried to kill you and 289 other people. I’d take that rather personally, myself.

In his interview, Howard described what happened when Abdulmutallab tried to murder the people on Northwest flight 253.

Well, there was a large pop – like, almost everyone on the plane, I’m sure, I heard it. So, I was very curious to what had happened because it sounded very close to me. So, I was looking around and I noticed that my neighbor, Umar, had his blanket up over him, up to his chin and but I saw that there was smoke coming from underneath his blanket. And I also noticed a repulsive smell. And so I kind of questioned him, and I asked him about the smoke but he didn’t respond. And so, I removed his blanket from him and smoke dispersed throughout the plane.

And he had his hand down his pants. So, when he removed his hands from his pants, fire erupted. And he and another passenger, who had come over from a couple of rows away, tried to put it out together.

Way to go, Jay. Why didn’t you use the blanket you took from Umar to put out the fire? Instead, you sat there and the Flying Dutchman Jasper Schuringa put the fire out with his hands! Good job! Not!

Jihadist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

In an interview for his college newspaper, Chimes, Howard said “terrorists are so dehumanized.” Are you kidding me? Howard understands Abdulmutallab is a radical jihadist, but he’s ok with that. Here’s the full quote; emphasis is mine:

[Abdulmutallab]’s 23, like our age, trying to blow up a plane. … He had extremist views and he wanted to kill us all, but he didn’t seem like that bad of a guy. That’s a weird thing to say, but I’ve kind of thought about this; these so-called terrorists are so dehumanized, but my interaction with this kid was that he was an ordinary guy, just a human being.

Just an ordinary guy who wanted you dead. We call those enemy combatants; they’re extremist militants who will stop at nothing to destroy our way of life. Mr. Howard, you can talk about this only because you were lucky or the jihadists were extremely inept. If your friend Umar had succeeded, NPR would be interviewing your parents.

I’ve previously blasted Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who said the system worked. What an idiotic thing for someone in her senior level of government to say. She should have been fired! But there’s another troubling aspect to Abdulmutallab’s case. After Holder let him lawyer up and lied about consulting other agencies, he withstood severe criticism from Congress and ordinary people. He, too, should have been fired. What’s worse, though, is now someone in the administration is leaking Abdulmutallab is talking again. I’m sure those leaks are intended to make us all feel better, that terrorists will give us information, depite advice of legal counsel, probably just because we’re all around good guys. As I see it, though, this is just lies or someone is telegraphing what we know by giving sensitive intelligence to the media. Here’s the surprise, folks. We are waging a war with a cunning, thinking enemy. It’s just plain stupid to think Abdulmutallab’s jihadist friends are going to sit tight waiting for the authorities to come scoop them up after reading about him talking on the front page of whatever rag they read.


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