Monthly Archives: December 2008

Video: Reporter Muntadar al-Zaidi Throws Shoes at President Bush During Press Conference

I thought Iraqis were a bit more restrained than this. This is the sort of behavior you’d expect from Keith Olbermann or Helen Thomas.

Bush was, as usual, cool under fire:

Zaidi yelled “Dog, dog!” as he was surrounded by Iraqi security officers, who tackled him and began to beat him. Zaidi was later removed from the ornate room in the heavily fortified Green Zone where the news conference was taking place.

Bush was not injured and joked about the incident minutes later: “If you want the facts, it’s a size 10 shoe that he threw. Thank you for your concern; do not worry about it.”

Zaidi, colleagues said, was kidnapped by Shiite militiamen last year and was later released.

Zaidi would do well to consider this point, made on Twitter, by Cameron Kaiser:

btw, to those snickering over Bush+shoes, remember throwing shoes at Saddam would’ve meant death, and that would’ve been lenient.

Korean Immigrant Who Lost Family in F-18 Crash Calls Pilot “One of Our Treasures”

There’s really not much I can add to this:

A Korean immigrant who lost his wife, two children and mother-in-law when a Marine Corps jet slammed into the family’s house said Tuesday he did not blame the pilot, who ejected and survived.

“Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident,” a distraught Dong Yun Yoon told reporters gathered near the site of Monday’s crash of an F/A-18D jet in San Diego’s University City community.

“He is one of our treasures for the country,” Yoon said in accented English punctuated by long pauses while he tried to maintain his composure.

“I don’t blame him. I don’t have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could,” said Yoon, flanked by members of San Diego’s Korean community, relatives and members from the family’s church.

I can’t imagine what either of these men must be going through.

Some are having the opposite reaction:

I haven’t been in the military for some time, but I distinctly remember one of their big things when flying jets was to avoid civilian casualties at all costs. That means two things: first off, that pilot should have done more to make sure that the plane was as far away from that neighborhood as possible. If there was any possibility to control the plane’s trajectory even just a little bit, he should have done everything he could to do it. Even if it meant costing him his own life.

That brings me to my second point. It may just be me but I was a little disturbed when I heard this pilot ejected to leave the jet to its own faculties. A captain is supposed to go down with his ship. I understand that is a little extreme; however, given this circumstance, is it really? If there was any possibility that he could have turned that jet into the ground, the side of a mountain or anything and only his life was taken instead of three civilians, that’s what he should have done. Afterall, he signed up to protect those people.

This is a bit harsh for me. Count me in the group that assumes the pilot did everything in his power to avoid civilian casualties. There will be a thorough investigation, and the details that emerge may change my opinion, but that remains to be seen.

Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and Chief of Staff John Harris Arrested by FBI

The people of Illinois must be celebrating this morning. Blagojevich’s alleged crimes are just mind-boggling – including the attempted sale of Obama’s vacant Senate seat:

Regarding the Senate seat, the charges allege that Blagojevich, Harris and others have engaged and are engaging in efforts to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, to benefit Blagojevich and his family through corruptly using Blagojevich’s sole authority to appoint a successor to the unexpired term of the President-elect’s former Senate seat, which he resigned effective November 16. The affidavit details numerous conversations about the Senate seat between November 3 and December 5. In these conversations, Blagojevich repeatedly discussed the attributes of potential candidates, including their abilities to benefit the people of Illinois, and the financial and political benefits he and his wife could receive if he appointed various of the possible candidates.

Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being “stuck” as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife’s employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office.

In the earliest intercepted conversation about the Senate seat described in the affidavit, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A on November 3 that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he will take it for himself: “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” Later that day, speaking to Advisor A, Blagojevich said: “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.” He added later that the seat “is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

He faces serious time if convicted:

If convicted, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

There could be more – and a familiar name is popping up in all of this:

Federal prosecutors have acknowledged they’re also investigating “serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” under Mr Blagojevich.

Political fundraiser Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko, who raised money for the campaigns of both Mr Blagojevich and Obama, is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of fraud and other charges.

Mr Blagojevich’s chief fundraiser, Christopher G Kelly, is due to stand trial early next year on charges of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.

Blagojevich’s Wikipedia Bio