Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blackwater for sale?

On the same day it was revealed that Blackwater USA Worldwide and Cerberus Capital Management were in negotiations, the news came out that the talks were over and there would be no deal. Blackwater's capacity for generating negative attention didn't appeal to either the founder or the investors.

The reclusive founder of Cerberus, Stephen Feinberg, reportedly told his investors in a letter earlier this year that he hated all the attention the company was getting.

"We do our best to avoid the spotlight," wrote Feinberg, "but unfortunately, when you do some large deals, such as Chrysler and GMAC, it is hard to avoid."

Owning control of Blackwater would certainly have attracted even more attention to Cerberus. Blackwater has been accused of tax fraud, improper use of force, arms trafficking and overbilling connected to its work for the U.S. government in Iraq. A grand jury, federal prosecutors and congressional investigators are all currently probing allegations against the company.

Cerberus is kind of an interesting group in it's own right. They're a private investment/private equity group that purchases majority or large minority shares of companies that are teetering on the edge. Cerberus has owned all or part of Mervyns, Albertsons, Air Canada, and most recently, Chrysler. Former Treasury Secretary John Snow is the chairman, and former Vice President Dan Quayle is the chair of the advisory board. Donald Rumsfeld has been an investor.

It makes me wonder if Blackwater is suffering from some financial instability or excessive debt. That would be a typical scenario for Cerberus. They buy companies that are in financial distress, then they restructure, downsize, layoff, cut cut cut and make the place shiny so they can sell at a profit. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they don't. They make high risk investments. I guess Blackwater is even too risky for the risktakers.

Considering who's involved, I could get conspiracytheoristitis about that particular gang owning their own private military, but it's late and I'm not gonna go there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

They're baaaack....

Thankfully, Blackwater won't be building their training camp in Potrero, but they're still working on establishing a presence in San Diego. According to today's UT, they will soon be operating on the grounds of a 61,600-square-foot former "trade school" near Brown Field, and between the San Ysidro and Otay ports of entry.

Kelly Broughton, director of the city of San Diego's development services department, said Blackwater applied for a permit in February to make improvements to the building. The permit was approved March 19.

Broughton said the building was already permitted for use as a vocational trade school, and Blackwater's training activities would fall within that category.

On March 7, Blackwater dropped its plans to build a training facility for law enforcement and the military on an 824-acre site in the East County community of Potrero.

I'm sure we'll soon see what kind of training facility they're planning. It doesn't surprise me that they're still focused on the border region. They won't be in Iraq forever, and they want to diversify. There was some speculation that they'd decided to adjust their plans, and were looking at other locations, but no one knew for certain. They've been setting up business under their E&J Holdings division rather than the more well known Blackwater brand. This place is much smaller than what they were planning in Potrero, it's indoors, and it's in an industrial park, but the proximity of Brown Field and the Tijuana International Airport are probably a plus from their business perspective. Maybe they need a new home for the blimp.

I'll take a pass on any more speculation for moment, but I'll keep my eye on what's going on and I'll keep you in the loop!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Day in San Diego

It's Earth Day and the usual Earth Day goings on will be ... uh ... going on in Balboa Park today. See you at EarthFair!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Just shut up already

Good grief. It's that gawdawful Joe Lieberman again. Why won't he just stay home and shut up? Once again he commits felonious stupidity on Faux News.

NAPOLITANO: Hey Sen. Lieberman, you know Barack Obama, is he a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case in today’s New York Times? Is he an elitist like your colleague Hillary Clinton says he is?

LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he’s obviously very smart and he’s a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.

Then he babbles a bit about Obama's "bitter" brouhaha. Bleh. I'm sick of it.

Not to mention, bitter.

Speaking of which, why is it that Hillary and McCain get indignant over Obama's remarks, yet McCain's Senior Advisor can say,
People in the country are in a very bad mood, and they want to have change.

and it's it should be. That's not what the article is about, but the comment sure jumped out at me when I saw it. It wouldn't have if there hadn't been a fuss over Obama's "bitter" comments.

So let it be said, one and for all, in the terryfaceplace Friday Night Water is Wet and the Sky is Blue News Report, there are a lot of bitter people in very bad mood out here. Can we be done with this silliness now? Thank you.

My stance hasn't softened on Liberman though. He should still stay home and keep his mouth shut if he's got nothing sensible to say.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lieberman campaign to blame for crashing own Web site

Back in the Fall of 2006 when Ned Lamont challenged Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, there was a big kurfluffle in the last day of the campaign where Lieberman's staff accussed Lamont's staff of crashing their website.

As it turns out, Liberman's staff crashed their own website. Bwaha. Well, it would be funny if it wasn't so crappy of them to make an unfounded accusation of dirty tricks in the last hours of the race.

According to the FBI memo, the site crashed because Lieberman officials continually exceeded a configured limit of 100 e-mails per hour the night before the primary.

"The system administrator misinterpreted the root cause," the memo stated. "The system administrator finally declared the server was being attacked and the Lieberman campaign accused the Ned Lamont campaign. The news reported this on Aug. 8, 2006, causing additional Web traffic to visit the site.

"The additional Web traffic then overwhelmed the Web server. . . . Web traffic pattern analysis reports and Web logging that was available did not demonstrate traffic that was indicative of a denial of service attack."

It took the media filing a FOIA request to get that information. The statement has been made in the past that there was no connection, but they refused to release the details of why the Lieberman site crashed. Now we know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

..and speaking of more and better

D-Day writes about an event he co-hosted for Darcy Burner, another Charter member of the More and Better Democrats Club.

Burner wrote The Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq which has been endorsed by fifty congressional candidates. The intent of the plan is comprehensive and well considered, and lays out the following goals:

1. End U.S. Military Action in Iraq
2. Use U.S. diplomatic power
3. Address humanitarian concerns
4. Restore our Constitution
5. Restore our military
6. Restore independence to the media
7. Create a new, U.S.-centered energy policy

It's worth reading the PDF.

What I like about this is the potential power of a block of new congresscritters, all dedicated to ending the war and meeting the above stated goals. It does my heart good.

If you want to support future Congresswoman Burner feel free to visit Act Blue.

Welcome to Washington!

Speier becomes Congress' newest member, is booed by Republicans

Newly elected Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of Hillsborough was sworn into Congress this morning and delivered a fiery speech criticizing President Bush's Iraq policy that led some Republicans to boo and walk out of the House chamber.

Those congressional Republicans. Their mama's didn't teach them right. Darrell Issa was one of the jerks that walked out in protest. How rude! She just said what The People sent her there to say.

"The process to bring the troops home must begin immediately," Speier told fellow lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. "The president wants to stay the course and a man who wants to replace him suggests we could be in Iraq for 100 years. But Madam Speaker, history will not judge us kindly if we sacrifice four generations of Americans because of the folly of one."

I sure do like California's new congresswoman. She's who I'm talking about when I say we not only need more Democrats, but BETTER Democrats. Congratulations, Congresswoman Speier.

Monday, April 07, 2008

San Diego City Council candidate pleads no contest

Curiouser and curiouser. This is just too strange for me to keep my mouth shut any longer. What's up with John Hartley, the candidate for the San Diego City Council in District 4? Really now. I didn't say anything about his arrest last week for urinating in public and alledgedly masturbating in his car because it was so bizarre that I wanted to see what came out in the following days before making any judgement about his guilt or innocence.

For the first four days there was nothing. No spin. No denial. No admission. No statement.

Then today the urinating in public charge is dropped in a plea deal, and he pleads no contest to the charge of committing a lewd act in public.

Finally, he issues a statement this afternoon which reads in part:

I want to apologize to the voters of the 3rd District. I made a mistake. I accept full responsibility for my actions. And I promise not to let it happen again.

I also want to say that I harbor no hard feelings towards the police, who were doing their job, or towards the women who complained, who care about our neighborhoods, or towards the press, who have been working to inform the public.

Having said all of that, I do not intend to answer any questions about this today or in the future.


Is it just me, or is that a bizarro response? Maybe I've just become conditioned to expect accused politicians to issue either a stunned and emphatic denial, or a tearful admission of guilt with the mandatory six weeks in rehab whether they need it or not. Most public figures wouldn't have the chutzpah to come right out and issue a statement saying they aren't going to talk about it. He says he made a "mistake" but that covers a lot of potential territory while still saying nothing. How very odd. His statement only makes me wonder all the more.

Maybe I don't really want to know.

It just doesn't seem politically smart to me to leave it to everyone's imagination. We have such dirty minds.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why Edwards Hasn't Endorsed

According to John Heilemann at New York Magazine, the reason Edwards hasn't endorsed is because neither of the candidates won him over as being deserving of his endorsement.

But now two months have passed since Edwards dropped out—tempus fugit!—and still no endorsement. Why? According to a Democratic strategist unaligned with any campaign but with knowledge of the situation gleaned from all three camps, the answer is simple: Obama blew it. Speaking to Edwards on the day he exited the race, Obama came across as glib and aloof. His response to Edwards’s imprecations that he make poverty a central part of his agenda was shallow, perfunctory, pat. Clinton, by contrast, engaged Edwards in a lengthy policy discussion. Her affect was solicitous and respectful. When Clinton met Edwards face-to-face in North Carolina ten days later, her approach continued to impress; she even made headway with Elizabeth. Whereas in his Edwards sit-down, Obama dug himself in deeper, getting into a fight with Elizabeth about health care, insisting that his plan is universal (a position she considers a crock), high-handedly criticizing Clinton’s plan (and by extension Edwards’s) for its insurance mandate.

Well...there you go. Actually that makes a lot of sense to me, because I feel pretty much the same way. Neither of them champion the same message as Edwards, so why would he endorse?

Of course, I want the Dems to win, and I think either of them has a pretty much equal chance of beating McBush.

Obama probably has a slight edge over Clinton in November, but I don't see it as particularly significant. They each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses in that regard.

I'll support which ever of them gets the nomination. I've voted in the primary already. It's out of my hands, and I don't feel like I have a dog in this fight other than wanting the Democrat to ultimately win in November.

That's a good article by Heilemann. It's not a mash note to either of them, and he makes a good point that Clinton isn't going to drop out because some unidentified "party elder" is going to advise her to do so. She'll leave the race when and if the time is right for her to exit in a politically expedient and face saving manner.