Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama, Gen. McChrystal, Afghanistan - Obama talks to Petraeus and that's enough

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Petraeus and Obama: Two of the "Afghanistan Triangle"

There's a little buzz going around the political blogsphere about a rather misguided Washington Times article with this title: "U.S. commander in Afghanistan talked with Obama only once".

Couch potato conservatives, eager to pounce on any story that appears to make President Obama look as if he's out of touch with the American military, have pounced on this with stupid glee.

Stupid because while Gen. Stanley McChrystal is the new U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, he does not have the final say on what happens there and isn't the man with the pipeline to the President. Those persons with such reach are General David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

It appears that the Washington Times either forgot or didn't know that, first, General McChrystal's title is brand new (translation: he just got the right to furnish his office a month or so after he was named in May), and second and more important, General David Petraeus has had a new title: head of U.S. Central Command since October of last year.

On September 17th, Petraeus gave a lecture explaining the "area of responsibility" of U.S. Central Command, saying:

The CENTCOM region consists of twenty countries – from Egypt in the West to Pakistan in the East, and from Kazakhstan in the North to Yemen and the waters off Somalia to the South. This audience recognizes well, I know, that this region sits astride the traditional land of former empires and the pull of ancient tensions can still be felt in many areas of the region.

In that same speech, General Petraeus outlined what General McChrystal was doing in Afghanistan, explaining:

General McChrystal, the Commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, is employing a comprehensive, counter-insurgency campaign that represents the military implementation plan of NATO’s Comprehensive Approach and of President Obama’s Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy.

General Petraeus is trying to explain that he has General McChrystal there to carry out the President's plans, not to go over Petraeus' or Gates head and meet with Obama.

It's Petraeus who makes the statements about overall strategy in Afghanistan. At the CENCOM website, Petraeus explains that as of April 2009 the situation there was deteriorating and goes on to lay out the "counter-insurgency" approach that's planned.

Again, it's not Gen. McChrystal who's the final spokesperson with the ear of President Obama, it's Gen. Petraeus and Robert Gates.  With President Obama they form "The Afghanistan Triangle".

Of course, this important fact doesn't stop conservative bloggers from writing some really off-the-wall statements like "General McChrystal Barack Obama Don't Talk" as is the case at Maggie's Notebook.

At Osmoothie there was no hint of critical thinking about the Washington Times error-in-reporting.

The bloggers over there just gave it a front page place for all to see, warts and all, and even trotted out the comments from, of all people, John Bolton, the former U.S. "Ambassador" to the United Nations who's pugilistic style would plunge America into the next World War if his wild-eyed views held the day.

Thank God they don't and Bolton's safely out of the way.

Couch potato conservatives - who I brand that because they don't do their homework, just haul off and say nutty things, and have no interest in or understanding of policy analysis - have really stuck their foot in it this time. Gen. McChrystal is a ground forces manager, and not assigned to meet with President Obama. That role is the work of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General Petraeus, both who talk to President Obama on a regular basis.

In fact, Petraeus and Gates met with Obama today.

In any discussion of the military its important to have a clear understanding of, or at least pay attention to, the chain of command. By not doing this, conservative bloggers have made an incredible blunder.

Seven & Out By Michael – Louis Ingram Associate Editor/Director of scouting services-Football Reporters Online

Seven & Out
By Michael – Louis Ingram Associate Editor/Director of scouting services-Football Reporters Online
PHILADELPHIA (BASN): Each week the National Football League puts their significant moments on display. “Seven from Sunday” may focus on highlights, but there are some other considerations that may put a damper on the big picture…
Here, according to the NFL’s league office, are the highlights from Week 3 – along with our responses:
• New York Jets rookie quarterback MARK SANCHEZ became the first rookie quarterback to start and win his team’s first three games of a season after leading the Jets to a 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
(Although the Jets are 3-0, Sanchez, who’s been called “Sanchize” by some members of the New York press, will be called a “spic” just as quick should the Jets hit a prolonged losing streak. Stay focused, Matt – we want you to do well, but keep that shit in perspective…)
• The New England Patriots, who defeated the Atlanta Falcons 26-10, have won 16 consecutive regular-season games against the NFC, the longest winning streak any team has posted against the opposite conference since the 1970 merger.
(It’s a lot easier to win games when you have a league protecting your ass in case you get a hangnail in the pocket, but I digress. I respect Tom Brady, but I wish the league would respect the greatness of Fred Taylor as well. The ex-Jacksonville Jaguar was a steal as a free-agent pickup and his 21 carry, 105 yards rushing was the real difference for the Patriots. It’s called balance; and Taylor, like Brady, belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)
• Philadelphia quarterback KEVIN KOLB passed for 327 yards in the Eagles’ 34-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, his second consecutive 300-yard game.  Kolb became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 300 yards in each of his first two career starts. 
(This statistic belongs in the “big fucking deal” category. Kolb, who choked in prime time last season when Eagle management wanted to hand him the starting spot at quarterback, threw for almost 400 yards in his first start because he threw 3 interceptions; and was playing catch-up for the entire second half in their Week 2 loss to the New Orleans Saints! And he beat the Chiefs – a team that frankly they were supposed to beat! Let’s see some bona fide wins – as in when the Iggles have to play someone they need to beat instead of an inferior opponent. Knowing Kolb was hand-picked by Andy Reid, and Vick is continuing his ghettoization on the Wildcat plantation, Eagles’ fans need to pray for a speedy recovery for Donovan McNabb.)
• Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver-punt returner DE SEAN JACKSON had a 64-yard touchdown reception in the Eagles’ 34-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.  Jackson has now scored a touchdown of at least 60 yards in all three games and is the first player in NFL history with a 60+ yard TD in each of his team’s first three games of a season.
(While I am happy for young Mr. Jackson, I just want him to get across the goal line first before celebrating! And, now that you have had your moment, my brother, stay on the j-o-b and keep it crack-a-lackin’ – we’re gonna need you!)
• Minnesota rookie wide receiver-kick returner PERCY HARVIN had a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown in the Vikings’ 27-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers.  Harvin has now scored a touchdown in all three games and joins Dallas’ FELIX JONES (2008) as the only rookies in the past five years to score a touchdown in each of the first three games of a season.  
(A good start for the young man touted by many to be Offensive Rookie of the Year; but God only knows how many fantasy assholes are creaming in their pants because of Harvin!)
• Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver HINES WARD (10,022) recorded 82 receiving yards and joined the exclusive 10,000 receiving yards club.  Ward became only the fifth player in NFL history with 10,000 career receiving yards all with one team (Colts, MARVIN HARRISON; Seahawks, STEVE LARGENT; Cowboys, MICHAEL IRVIN; Broncos, ROD SMITH).  Ward, who has 818 career receptions, also became just the 21st player in NFL history to record 800 receptions and 10,000 receiving yards in a career. 
(The good news is Hines Ward is being further recognized as one of the most complete receivers in football; the bad news is Ward will continue the Steelers’ backlog of potential Hall of Famers. We already know L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Donnie Shell should already be in – now Ward will have to wait along with Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, Dermontti Dawson, Jerome Bettis - and the band played on…)
• The 30-year age difference between head coaches TOM COUGHLIN (63) of the New York Giants and RAHEEM MORRIS (33) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers marks just the second time in the past 10 seasons that two head coaches have faced one another with a gap of at least 30 years.  The last time it happened was November 4, 2007 when JOE GIBBS (66) of the Washington Redskins faced ERIC MANGINI (36) of the New York Jets. 
(I would prefer to remember that the real difference between Raheem Morris and Tom Coughlin is that in spite of the age difference, Morris knows a little bit about football, unlike the mistake near the Lake and Cleveland’s long–term woes in selecting NFL Super Genius Eric Mangini. The league’s answer to Wile E. Coyote will have the Dawg Pound denizens gnawing on their own bones before mid-season. The Browns would’ve been better getting a head coach from the Acme Company!)
Always remember, once the first point is confirmed on the dice table, if you throw a seven…you crap out!

Denver Airport - a thought on flight cancellations

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Before I boarded the UAL (United Airlines) flight to Denver, where I am now waiting for the Atlanta plane...

The "Embraer 170" I videoed here two years back...

...I blogged about the number of United cancellations at San Francisco International Airport.

I should clarify the reasons posted for the flight terminations: "aircraft equipment."

Now in the recent past that term has covered everything from faulty cargo door latches to late-arriving plane crew. My hypothesis is it has something to do with the crew.

Someone I talked to said its the economy and UAL's way of cutting back flights. I don't think so. It takes too much logistic and budgetary planning to just nix a flight like that, plus the obvious existence of what would be a terrible cover story. Now I'm not saying I'm totally right, it's just my feeling.

What counters my view is the fact that there aren't many people traveling today, and its Monday. Not, that its the busiest travel day of the week - that's Sunday - but that I'm used to seeing more people at Denver on this day. Between yesterday's poor attendance at the Oakland Raiders game and this scene at both airports, its obvious the economy's a weak one.

There are a lot of unemployed people out there, some of them Maklinites who still send weird emails.


Well, I've grown to like the Embraer 170, even if I still long for the 767!

SFO Airport - United Flight cancellations and "free" WiFi that never works

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As I write this I'm at San Francisco International waiting for the Denver flight to leave so I can get to Atlanta for my Mom's birthday. This is the third flight I've tried today.

The first United flight, 102 to Chicago, was to leave at 11:55 AM PST but it was canceled. In fact there were a number of flight cuts to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago, thus gumming up other airplanes with people trying to make connections to their destinations - like me.

Actually I'm used to the cancellation thing. In fact I had one really interesting episode that caused me to appear on CNN. Here's the video series of that fun time:

When I arrived in Atlanta to see Mom for Christmas, I had already planned a visit to my friends at CNN's iReport staff. But while there, executive producer Andreas Preuss was told of my travel story, called down to the iReport staff for me, and said "OK. I'm putting you on in 8 minutes. I'm betting my life on you!"

The result was this appearance on CNN that Friday with CNN Anchor and Old Blue (UC Berkeley grad) Richard Lui:

That was fun but I do hope I don't have a replay of the events which led to that particular show.

SFO should fix its "free wifi"

I'm writing this thanks to the 7 bucks I spent for a "T-Mobile DayPass" and because the so-called "Free Wifi" that pops up in my Mac's "Internet Connect" window doesn't work at all.

That's happened before.

SFO needs to get its act together in the wifi department. For an airport that's in the center of the unofficial capital of the Internet industry, having just T-Mobile to use and no free wifi available is an outrage

Don Fisher: RIP

Very sad to learn of the passing of GAP Founder (and Old Blue) Don Fisher, whom I've met twice. The first time at a GAP "Project Red" event a few years ago, the second time when I ran into him at San Francisco Shopping Center at Union Square. Don was always a great person to talk to and gracious with his time. A successful man who treated people as if they mattered, at least from my personal experience. He will be missed by many.

Well..I'm still waiting.

UPDATE! Off to Denver, then ATL!

Oakland Raiders lose to Denver Broncos - lift The Blackout Rule!

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The Oakland Raiders lost horribly to the Denver Broncos 23 to 3 in a game where one had to ask "Where was everyone?" The game didn't sell out but I've never seen a Broncos - Raiders Coliseum contest where most of the third deck was empty.

I'm serious. It was that bad.

The official attendance count was 45,602 people in a stadium that can hold up to 65,000 people. That's 20,000 folks short of the madhouse level of fandamonium that normally goes with this contest and its all due to the economy.

It pretty much goes without saying or writing but the San Francisco Bay Area economy is in bad shape, along with the American economy. While the unemployment rate is officially over 12 percent statewide and about 10 percent nationwide, it's got to be worse than that in reality.

I've never seen a time where most of the people I talk to are looking for work, and its people who I'm used to seeing with money in their pockets. Does the NFL adjust to this?


The Blackout Rule was designed for a different time when America was rich. Not today. The idea of The Blackout Rule was to get people to go to the football games by causing sellouts, then televising them.

That's not happening today.

The Blackout Rule needs to be lifted otherwise the NFL will find itself with a whole bunch of pissed off television execs and NFL sponsors. Jay Mariotti of ESPN and AOL is right: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should lift the rule for now and the future because its not clear when this economy's going to get better.