San Clemente’s Not the Same, Mr Nixon You’re to Blame!

Just watched Our Nixon on CNN, and my favourite part was this little rag at the end! A cute little ditty by sung by Barbara Foster and written by Myron Ace, its theme denounces the Washington/political tourist crowd that bombarded San Clemente after Richard Nixon moved to San Clemente’s coastal hamlet and bought the Cotton’s estate. To this day the home is still known as the Western White House.

I don’t think this song has ever gotten the attention it just got now on CNN! I get the feeling it’s gonna be sung a lot more often now with its catchy chorus of “Mr Nixon, you’re to blame” and Nixon’s image associated with the Watergate Scandal that seemed like everybody around Nixon went to jail for except Nixon.

Mr Nixon, you’re to blame… Mr Nixon you’re to blame…

Researched Suggestions for Writing the Next Hit Song in America

A new study published in the Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts suggests that the most popular songs in American culture these days are increasingly about oneself, especially one’s angry or antisocial behaviour (DeWall, C. Nathan; Pond, Richard S., Jr.; Campbell, W. Keith; Twenge, Jean M., Mar 21 2011).

See the more complete and easier to read Miller-McCune article here.

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Let’s Get Balloon Dad! BYOP (Bring Your Own Pitchfork)

"Let's Get Balloon Dad!!!"

"Let's Get Balloon Dad!!!"

Richard Heene wants fame? Let’s give it to him, full force, infamy style! He chose to attain his fame via infamy, not being talented, smart, patient, determined, charismatic and/or hard-working enough to do it any other way. So let’s give him everything he deserves rather than jail time, though make him pay for all the taxpayer money lost.

The Balloon Boy debacle is now considered a hoax, as I suspected Friday, along with many others, I’m sure. Charges are possible next week (Oct 25) against Richard Heene, who shamelessly concocted the lost boy in the weather balloon incident involving his 6 year old son Falcon, for this publicity stunt. It’s not Richard’s first failure to get fame, but let’s make it this manic obsessive’s last… as well as deter others disillusioned about getting fame via infamy at the public’s expense. If they want to do it at their own expense, they can go for it, for all I care.

For Richard Heene, though, let’s give him so much fame he will puke like Falcon did in the camera lights of the interviews last Friday. Let’s make Richard so sick of fame he’ll become a recluse for the remainder of his life! We don’t need criminal charges to put this guy in jail on taxpayer’s money for the next six years, which he could face pending the charges laid. Let him lay tiles for life, earning his living the way he is right now. The debt from this stunt should keep him busy for years to come. It should only cost over hundred thousand dollars of taxpayers’ money, after all the prosecution fees and law enforcement officer work times. But it will be an effective deterrent to keep him from ever doing this again, or others ass-piring.

So let’s bring on the paparazzi! This guy’s no flash in the pan. He’ll be in the news for a while. Who’s ever heard of a fast prosecution? And he’ll be whining and flip-flopping his personality between a macho storm chaser and besieged wimp as things drag on, unable to keep his mouth shut despite the advice of his lawyer. People will still want to hear what he has to say about it all for a while. So who’s tweeting for a flash mob of paparazzi to stalk Richard on his lawn or wherever he might be spotted? Or drive beside him wherever he drives, snapping pictures as they go? Make it impossible for him to go to Wal-mart or get groceries at the local store, though let him have some peace when he visits his kids they might take away from him cause the kids don’t deserve it.

Isn’t the National Enquirer or Perez Hilton going to have a contest for the craziest Richard Heene story or something? The guy’s pretty well known by now, and he’s done something stupid. Worse, what he did was stupid and expensive, with money and resources that didn’t belong to him. Hey, at least what Kanye West did to Taylor Swift at the VMA 2009 didn’t cost anything out of the taxpayers’ pockets. Let’s get some fair treatment for the infamous and give Richard his proper due, eh? Make him beg for jail to get away from it all! It’ll be good for the economy with all those magazines sold and stories told to tabloids and sites like Gawker (by 25 year old Robert Thomas). Who cares if it’s someone else possibly preying on him for a little cash and some short fame? It’s part of being famous!

On another front, Richard was answering questions by email before last Saturday when he was overwhelmed and said said he’d take questions on paper in a box to answer Saturday night. What ever happened to that? Anyway,  spam his email like crazy knowing it’s out there and he’s famous!

Heene also seems to have abandoned his MySpace page from 2005, possibly from having garnered only 7 friends, one of whom being “Tom”, everybody’s default first friend on MySpace. Ah, yes. Now we know why the fame was so elusive and the strength of the desire to obtain it. Go write what you think of him on his Comments page, or write a blog post like I am, or create yet another Facebook group or page dissing him. Make it all part of his Internet “legacy”.

Oh, while on Internet “legacies”, my condolences for any other “Richard Heene” out there. It’s so unfair to have your name hijacked like that. But look on the bright side. At least you can now misbehave a little bit more online and no one will likely notice. That’s because the Richard Heene Internet legacy is one populated by the Balloon Dad Richard Heene, and it’s a legacy that’s getting uglier by the second. That includes stuff from long before this balloon stunt, which only confirms the running public opinion, like this blog post by Stuff Frank Finds Funny on September 13 2008. I quote:

(Richard Heene) is an amazingly creative human (now turned mad scientist) who insists on repeatedly proving that there is a very fine line between genius and insanity.

You’ve proved at least, that, Richard! Too bad you did it by elimination in showing the insanity side. But that’s what you get for doing science without knowing your science.

So I say in a less conventional way than criminal prosecution, Let’s get Balloon Dad!

Bring your own pitchfork. I’ve got mine the way Stephen Colbert’s got his in the picture above. Do you?

p.s. I did not intend to offend anyone with this tirade, just Richard Heene, so my sincere apologies if you were offended.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.5

(about the level sufficient for Richard Heene to comprehend, although I haven’t known any sixth or seventh grader who’s done anything so dumb)

How do I know Richard Heene is dumb?

How can you be smart and name your son Falcon only to put him in a balloon to fly?

Falcons fly on their own!

Or didn’t Richard know that?

Oh, right. He’s an amateur scientist wannabe.

I forgot. I’m sorry. My mistake and I admit it. Hint, hint, Richard.

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Details and Implications of the US Navy Freeing Captain Richard Phillips from Somali Pirates

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This post was originally created from live coverage of a Pentagon press conference (Sun 4 pm EST) by Vice-Admiral William Gortney (YouTube clip at end), and breaking news on CNN in the immediate hours following. Later updates are made as revisions or additions as heard on TV news.
Last update: Mon Apr 13, 10:03 pm EST.

Capt Phillips after rescue

Commander Frank Castellano of the USS Bainbridge and Captain Phillips after the latter's rescue

Background: Armed pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama container ship, armed with automatic weapons and small arms. The crew fought back and took the ship back. The Captain was captured and taken aboard the life boat from which this trauma as resulted. The Captain tried to jump Saturday and was shot at, but was not injured.

The Captain was rescued at 7:19 p.m. (12:19 p.m. ET) on Sunday, according to the US Navy, reported by CNN before this press conference. However, stories the captain jumped overboard and was rescued was false. There was only one attempt by the Captain to try and escape on Saturday. One pirate survived, believed to be the one injured in the original attack of the Maersk Alabama. The other three were shot and killed. The Captain was uninjured and in relatively good shape. President Obama is congratulating everyone involved, including the Captain for his bravery.
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Story Synopsis (from press conference and other CNN reporting)

What happened was described below, with quite a few bits of new details that paints a different picture of what was went on.

During negotiations, several US Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) parachuted in snipers in the cover of darkness into the sea and made their way to the USS Bainbridge. Of course, the Bainbridge expected them but the pirates would not have known this was going on. The snipers, then, took spots in the fan tail of the Bainbridge around the clock, out of sight of the pirates aboard the life boats. They and this action, ultimately led to the events that free Captain Phillips.

During the negotiations, the USS Bainbridge apparently transported a rib (tiny vessel) back and forth to the life boat where the pirates were holding Captain Phillips, so there was was far more intimate contact than we knew of. Messages from the Captain’s family was passed to him, and vice-versa, during this time, including his wife’s message to him that they’d save him an Easter egg if his son didn’t eat it first, to which the Captain replied via a US Navy Admiral, ultimately, that his son should leave the eggs alone.

In the contact with the pirates, the one that ultimately survived this order, who might be as young as 16 and was the one injured in the original hijacking, was on-board the USS Bainbridge for treatment of his injuries. He was expressing a lot of doubt about the hostage taking, had had enough and didn’t want to go back, though it was not clear at this time if he ever went back. The Navy was trying to convince him to persuade his comrades to end the situation peacefully but his comrades did not want to. Things also got rather heated over the negotiations, possibly as a result of this and/or other reasons, with the pirates wanting quite a lot of money. However, the reported $2 million was neither confirmed nor denied by Vice-Admiral Gortney.

USS Bainbridge

USS Bainbridge

As for authority of action, President Barack Obama had given a “standing order” twice for the “on scene commander”, Commander Frank Castellano of the USS Bainbridge, to take military action as necessary if the Captain’s life seemed like it was in “imminent danger”. The President gave the order to take military action as needed on Good Friday at 8 pm, and then he authorized technical and additional resources as needed at 9:20 AM on Saturday. With Presidential standing authorization the USS Bainbridge Commander was the one who had operational authorization, so to speak, and he had to use it on a few seconds’ notice of the following scenario, as it turned out. That was how it all developed. From one report, the execution of the rescue was a highly professional operation where the snipers reported they had a clear shot at the target and the Bainbridge Commander would have had to give the order “initiate, initiate” before the snipers could shoot.

As time progressed, the seas got rougher and the weather deteriorated. The USS Bainbridge ended up towing the life boat with the pirates and Captain Phillips out of this area, just 25-30 meters (80-100 feet) behind.  This was because the life raft was bobbing up and down on the high seas, and putting it in the path of a moving ship minimized this effect to give US Navy SEALs snipers hiding in the fan tail of the USS Bainbridge a better shot. They had no intentions to shoot if Captain Phillips was in the line of fire, which would have been hard because the life raft was just 18 feet long, and one miss could spur the pirates to kill Captain Phillips.

At some point, the pirates lowered their AK-47 rifles downward at Captain Phillips, but their heads and shoulders could be seen. What else happened to differentiate this moment from another when the pirates would have pointed their guns at the Captain, it is not sure. That may never be made public because the Navy can’t be giving all the operational details away for another encounter. However, at this time, just after 7 pm local time after the sun had set so night vision goggles were being used, Bainbridge Commander Castellano determined that Captain Phillips’ life was in imminent danger and gave the order for the snipers to fire. The snipers determined they had a decent shot despite the distance and bobbing life boat, shot three times, killing three pirates with shots to the head. With the fourth pirate of the group being on the USS Bainbridge getting treatment for his injuries, doubting going back and possibly acting as a communicator in negotiations, Captain Phillips was out of danger and free to go. The Navy sent over a rib (tiny vessel) that Captain Phillips boarded after untying himself and it was reeled in to bring him aboard the USS Bainbridge. Of course, the remaining pirate then surrendered.

Could Hollywood have written a better story or ending?

The Captain seemed to be in fairly good condition after a shower and medical check-up. He declined food when offered upon his boarding the Bainbridge. He is now being transferred to the USS Boxer where there are better facilities and arrangements are being made to get him back to the United States as soon as possible. The surviving pirate is being treated humanely, treated for his injuries and given food and drink.

The fate of the pirates are not known exactly at this time. The Somali government will be consulted for the return of the dead pirates’ bodies. The Pentagon is consulting with the Dept of Justice on what legal options are available for prosecuting the surviving pirate, based on not just legal jurisdiction, but also available evidence and his particular actions during the ordeal. There is no international court or law that could be used to try the surviving pirate. However, US law allows it to take action on pirates who harmed its ships or citizens without interference from other countries. That is, the US doesn’t need permission from Somalia to bring the surviving pirate to justice as it pleases, and the Maersk Alabama had American citizens and registration. This is similar to what most countries have, by the way, not some American arrogance to take control just because its “property” was involved. The Maersk Alabama was declared a crime scene several days ago by the US government. Another option may be that the surviving pirate may also be put back into the Kenyan legal system, though it was not explained why other than that there was a lot of precedence for that. Meanwhile, CNN seems to be taking a public poll on what Americans should do with this pirate.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has called Commander Castellano of the USS Bainbridge, talked to Captain Richard Phillips, and also his family, to offer his congratulations and commend them for their actions through this ordeal. The President released this statement just moments ago from time of posting:

I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is safely on board the USS Boxer. His safety has been our principal concern, and I know this is a welcome relief to his family and his crew.

I am also very proud of the efforts of the U.S. military and many other departments and agencies who worked tirelessly to secure Captain Phillips’ safe recovery.

We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region. To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes.

I share the country’s admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans.

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Implications

Vice-Admiral Gortney stated that he believes the outcome of this incident could escalate the violence in the Sea of Aden area, particularly with regards to pirate reactions towards other crew members in future incidents. After all, blood was shed, those pirates do have other hostages and would have lots of reason and resolve to band together. If they don’t kill off hostages in revenge, for still hoping to get money from them, you can bet they will deal with future ship crews much more violently than now. They could get revenge for these killings later, but they will also learn from this incident not to leave their hostages so well off physically that they could try to escape, and that does not bold for future potential hostages.

Update: Monday, Apr 13, the day after this story’s original posting, Reuters already published a story with these quotes from the pirates that, in essence, backed up what I had said in vowing revenge.

“We were mourning for dead friends and then roaring planes came — grief upon grief. America has become our new enemy.”

“The French and the Americans will regret starting this killing. We do not kill, but take only ransom. We shall do something to anyone we see as French or American from now,” Hussein, a pirate, told Reuters by satellite phone. Reference to the French is from an incident where their people killed pirates in rescuing hostages.

In the bigger picture, America could not have asked for a better outcome, including having some pirates killed, as much as some people not liking the fact anybody was killed. Having killed some pirates showed some toughness and sent a message that America meant business. Terrorists often think of Americans and those in the free world weak for expending so much resources over a life or two, but we win because we value life more than they do, not because we are weak to worry so much over each life.

America also managed to flaunt a little prowess in how it dealt with the situation, from the psychological of that young survivor, to the militaristic from the covert operations to the precision shooting with the snipers… and they haven’t even called in the big boys! Let’s hope they won’t have to because there won’t be any precision killings in such a case.

Of course, we are dealing with people who don’t fear death because death might even be better than the condition they believe themselves to be living in, so logical negotiations may not be effective. If they were logical, they wouldn’t justify taking hostages for money as being all right but killing, as a consequence of it, as not being all right. Hey, if you want to play the game, you’ve got to be man enough to, you know? You don’t set the rules and whine when you suddenly have to deal with consequences.

Sure, the outcome of this situation may well strengthen the pirates’ resolve and their cooperation, as the pirates did try to bring in additional support during the hostage taking via cell phones. However, at least for now, they know it’s not going to be as easy a road as they thought given the set back they had just been dealt.

So I predict more violence and more drastic reactions in the near future, but that we will get this resolved because the pirates will make the stupid decision they want to become big enough to be on the world stage. They weren’t happy sneaking around and jabbing the dragon, but that they had to awaken it, and so be it! The dragon has awaken, made its presence known, and will react more drastically as required in the future.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.6

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Pentagon briefing YouTube video