Chris of Rights

Why Should Bill Have All The Fun?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Richard Mourdock (R-IN) was a bad candidate. But Senator-elect Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was also a bad candidate. He was picked by the IN Democrats to be the sacrificial lamb to Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), because he wasn't going to hold his congressional seat (congrats to Congresswoman-elect Jackie Walorski (R-IN02)), and because they couldn't find anyone else to run.

That’s the God’s honest truth.

We are conservative in IN, with down home family values. But because of that, we like to think that we're above the partisan fray in Washington. We like to think that we can elect common sense folk who can work to get things done, regardless of party. That’s why our state house changes from red to blue so often and so does our governor’s mansion. It’s why we elect people like former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), and former Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN).

The difference between Donnelly and Mourdock was that Donnelly ran a terrific campaign right from the start and Mourdock ran an awful one right from the start. A lot of people will point to Mourdock’s comments about rape in the debate as the reason he lost. But he was in trouble long before then. Donnelly painted Mourdock as an extremist, before a lot of people in IN even knew who Mourdock was. And he continued to hammer that theme home right up until election day. It was a great strategy. It defined Mourdock as the opposite of a common sense person who would just work to get things done. Mourdock was never able to overcome that, and he was never able to turn it around on Donnelly either, who is just as much of an extremist as Mourdock (more so in my mind, but that’s just my opinion). Mourdock instead decided to attach Donnelly to President Obama (D-USA) and ObamaCare. The problem is that there are a lot of people in IN that still like Obama. And even more that still like ObamaCare. By sticking with that attack, Mourdock put a ceiling on his numbers, and never had a chance to break through it.

It’s easy for me to Wednesday morning quarterback, but Mourdock should have spent more time telling us a) what he would do for IN, b) what Donnelly would do for IN, c) that Donnelly was the extremist in the race, and d) that he wasn’t the extremist Donnelly claimed he was. I’m not sure he spent any significant time on ANY of those items. Certainly nothing he said or did to those ends sticks out in my mind. Instead it was just “Donnelly will vote in lockstep with Obama” over and over.

I know this blog has been quiet for a while. It will likely continue to remain so. What motivates me to blog is most anger and frustration, although sometimes it’s happiness. I’ve seen the writing on the wall here for months, and I’ve been resigned to the outcome. That emotion doesn’t inspire me to blog, but instead inspires me to work harder at my job and spend more time with my family. Take care of you and yours and peek in here from time to time. I’m sure I’ll continue to have things to say, just on an infrequent basis.

The Painful Truth

I could’ve written this post a week ago. I waited. But the writing was on the wall, even then.


Believe the polls. It’s fine to analyze the internals of the polls and point out when they don’t make sense. It’s particularly reasonable to do this when it’s six months out from the election, and no one knows what the electorate is going to look like. But when it gets down to three, two, and one week before the election, and you’re still not believing the polls, the problem is likely your premise, not theirs. Just the other day, I saw a rather famous person in the conservative Twittersphere picking apart a Rasmussen poll. Now, Rasmussen is consistently one of the friendliest polls to the GOP, and yet this person was still saying that if X on the poll was wrong and Y was wrong, that it was good for Romney. Sorry, but if you’re doing that a few days out from the election, and with the best poll you’ve got, it smacks of desperation. RCP poll averages are generally just about right. Remember that.


Nate Silver was right. If he got Virginia right, then he may have gone 50 for 50. I don’t know. I haven’t checked. Silver’s method is basically sound. I think there are things that could be done to improve it. But it’s basically ok. You can duplicate a significant part of his work in less than an hour in Excel. Just use the RCP poll numbers, and the Monte Carlo function in Excel. If you’d done that, you would’ve gotten results very similar to Silver’s. A lot of people on the right owe Silver an engraved apology today.


It’s fine to want party purity, but you also have to nominate good candidates. Richard Mourdock (R-IN) was a bad candidate (more on this race in another post). So were others. And if you didn’t know that 6 months ago, then you weren’t paying attention. This blog told you that Mourdock was a bad candidate at least 8 months ago. More than once. Now, yes, I am just as much to blame as others here. I voted for Mourdock in the primary, knowing he was a bad candidate. I thought that former Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) would come around, and in the 2012 environment, in a red state, that even a bad candidate would win. I was wrong.


NRSC, you have some serious egg on your face this morning. Yes, you can only work with the candidates you have. And you’re powerless when they say something stupid. And you can’t force them to run a good campaign. But you can help out with direction, and with education on how not to say something stupid in front of the camera. You didn’t. You failed. A lot of last night’s Senate debacle falls on you. Yes, a lot falls on organizations like Freedomworks who were more interested in party purity than in winning, but you need to take your share of the blame as well.


If there’s a group with more egg on their faces than the NRSC, it’s the conservative punditocracy. I expect partisan spin from you. I expect optimism. But you went far past that into partisan cheerleading. You weren’t just optimistic, you were confident. Excessively so. Some of you were ebullient. With no logical reason to be so. You need to take a long hard look in the mirror and figure out why that was and why you let us down, so that it won’t happen again. Spin is ok, but if I can’t get the truth from you, even when it’s bad, then you’re no better to me than MSNBC. The conservative blogosphere seems more isolated in an echo chamber than the “inside the beltway” crowd, if that’s possible. And that’s unacceptable.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's 12:06 PM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

12:06 PM

US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada.

September 11, 2001.
Where were you?

2,996 souls were lost on that day, including 343 of New York's Bravest and New York's Finest who gave their lives trying to save others.

Oh, where was I during all of this? In a meeting. No one bothered to interrupt the meeting to mention what was happening. After the meeting, I walked out to my car, somehow managing not to talk to a single person. I got in the car and drove home for lunch, without turning on the radio. I got home, made myself a sandwich, sat down at about 12:05 PM, turned on the TV and discovered that the world had changed while I wasn't looking. Rudy Giuliani has said it best, many times (paraphrasing). "We learned on September 11, 2001 that we were at war. The other side had known they were at war for quite some time, but we didn't know it."

There's a very poignant picture on the NY Times website from 9/11/2006, with the caption "The Hole in the City's Heart"

Where were you?

And this is how the 9/11 Memorial looks today, September 11, 2012.

On September 12, we all promised ourselves that we'd never forget the events of that day. Have you kept that promise?

The times and events listed here are a very small excerpt of what's available at the Cooperative Research History Commons. The whole thing is well worth a read, if you have the time (it's extremely long). I’ve left out quite a bit, including many of the actions at the White House, Pentagon, NORAD, etc. There were many heroic decisions and actions made that day. And some less than heroic ones. Right guesses and wrong guesses; it’s all there at the link above. There’s quite a bit about Delta Flight 1989, which I didn’t cover, although I’m still unsure if that was a good idea. Delta Flight 1989? There was nothing wrong with it, but circumstances led the people on the ground to believe that it was the fifth hijacked plane. The timeline also seems to have been taken over by some 9/11 “truthers” in the last few years, so there’s more stuff to wade through than there used to be.

Too many of us seem to have forgotten what happened that day, and what it felt like to live through it and the following days. I forget myself sometimes, but the yearly exercise of doing this brings it all rushing back. Producing this is an emotionally draining exercise to say the least.

As I indicated earlier, Russia was conducting a military exercise in the North Atlantic and shut it down. Putin called Bush and told him that he knew that the U.S. was raising their military alert status and in response, Russia’s military would stand down, in order to make sure nothing bad happened in a moment of high tension. Putin also told Bush that the world must unite against terrorism and that Russia would stand by the United States.

"Freedom and Fear are at War." - U.S. President George W. Bush
"This is a battle with only one outcome: our victory, not theirs." - UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

Where were you?

It's 11:00 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

11:00 AM

Most skyscrapers and tourist attractions in the U.S. are evacuated and closed. The list includes Walt Disney World, Seattle’s Space Needle, Independence Hall, and many others.

There are still nearly 1,000 airborne flights in U.S. airspace, and every one of them is a potential weapon.

It's 10:39 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:39 AM

The FAA shuts down all U.S. airports.

It's 10:32 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:32 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the White House to inform them that the Russian military is standing down a military exercise currently in progress. This is done both as a gesture of solidarity with the United States, and to reduce the risk of something happening due the high tension currently being experienced.

At about this time, the blast doors at NORAD’s operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado are closed. Cheyenne Mountain is designed to be able resist a nuclear attack when buttoned down.

Finally, remember the Matthew Broderick movie “War Games”? At about this time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumseld orders the U.S. Armed Forces to go to DEFCON 3. This is one step below preparation for war.

It's 10:28 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:28 AM

The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46, 102 minutes earlier.

TOM BROKAW: There has been a declaration of war by terrorists on the United States.

It's 10:06 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:06 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 crashes into an empty field just north of the Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, 124 miles or 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.


All four hijacked planes are now down. Thousands of planes are still airborne in U.S. airspace and several of them are suspected of being under the control of hijackers. All of these suspicions later turn out to be false.
Note that the exact timing of this crash is still unclear, and it could have been as early as 10:03. NORAD says 10:03. A seismic study says 10:06.

After the crash, people in Washington still believe the plane is headed towards them. Vice President Dick Cheney (R-USA) gives the order to shoot it down.

And this is why I’m glad I’m not President or Vice President. I am not saying that was the right decision or the wrong one. I am saying that I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to make it.

It's 9:59 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:59 AM

The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by United Airlines Flight 175 at 9:03 A.M., 57 minutes earlier.

Sometime in the next hour, astronauts aboard the international space station take this picture:


It's 9:58 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:58 AM

Sandy Bradshaw, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 ends her call with her husband, “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.”

Elizabeth Wainio, another passenger on Flight 93 finishes her phone conversation with her stepmother, “They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you. Good-bye.”

Todd Beamer, also aboard Flight 93 is still on the phone with GTE Customer Service rep Lisa Jefferson. He asks her to recite the Lord’s Prayer with him, and then he recites the 23rd Psalm. He tells her that some of the passengers are going to try to take control of the plane, “We’re going to do something. I know I’m not going to get out of this.”

The group he’s been talking to is apparently not the same as the group containing Tom Burnett, but both groups seem to make their move about now. Todd leaves the phone connected, and Jefferson hears screaming and commotion and Todd’s last recorded words, “Let's Roll.

This is followed by more screaming. Jefferson stays on the line until it goes dead, approximately 8 minutes from now.

Over the next few minutes, the cockpit voice recorder records the following:

PASSENGER: In the cockpit! In the cockpit!

HIJACKER: Allah o Akbar

ANOTHER HIJACKER: Should we finish?


PASSENGER: Give it to me!


MORE PASSENGERS: Roll it up! Lift it up!

Some believe that this means that the passengers did regain control, but too late to save the plane.

It's 9:54 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:54 AM

Tom Burnett has called his wife Deena from United Airlines Flight 93 for the fourth and final time. He tells her that he and some of the other passengers are going to try to regain control of the aircraft: “We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane. If they’re going to crash this plane into the ground, we’re going to have to do something.… We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway. It’s up to us. I think we can do it. Don’t worry. I’ll be home for dinner. I may be late, but I’ll be home. We’re going to do something,” and hangs up.

These are the last words that Deena will ever hear from her husband.

Elizabeth Wainio, also aboard Flight 93, calls her stepmother Esther Heymann in Cantonsville, MD. She greets her stepmother with, “We’re being hijacked. I’m calling to say goodbye.”

It's 9:50 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:50 AM

Sandy Bradshaw, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 calls her husband.

She says, “Have you heard what’s going on? My flight has been hijacked. My flight has been hijacked with three guys with knives.” [Boston Globe, 11/23/2001] She tells him that some passengers are in the rear galley filling pitchers with hot water to use against the hijackers.

It's 9:48 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:48 AM

The Capitol in Washington, D.C. is evacuated for the first time in United States history.

It's 9:45 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:45 AM

Ben Sliney, FAA’s National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It’s Sliney’s first day on the job.

United Airlines orders all its flights to land at the nearest airport.

Tom Burnett makes a third call to his wife Deena.

DEENA: Tom, you’re okay?

TOM: No, I’m not.

DEENA: They just hit the Pentagon. They think five airplanes have been hijacked. One is still on the ground. They believe all of them are commercial planes. I haven’t heard them say which airline, but all of them have originated on the east coast.

TOM: What is the probability of them having a bomb on board? I don’t think they have one. I think they’re just telling us that for crowd control.

DEENA (a former flight attendant): A plane can survive a bomb if it’s in the right place.

TOM: [The hijackers are] talking about crashing this plane into the ground. We have to do something. I’m putting a plan together. There’s a group of us.

He tells her he will call back and hangs up. Deena is amazed at how calm he sounds.

Meanwhile, Todd Beamer has still been unable to contact his family, but is still on the phone with GTE. He tells Lisa Jefferson the details of what’s going on, and she fills him on the details of what has happened outside his plane. Beamer tells Jefferson that the hijackers don’t seem to know how to fly. He tells her about his family and adds, “I just want to talk to somebody and just let someone know that this is happening.”

About this time, my sister-in-law lands in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and is stranded there, (yes, I know...not a terribly bad place to be stranded, all things considered) after all outbound flights are canceled.

It's 9:43 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:43 AM

Tom Beamer, aboard United Airlines Flight 93, manages to reach a GTE operator using one of the Airfones on board. Phone services across the U.S. are having overload issues, and GTE is no exception. He speaks to customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson (left). Miraculously, this call stays connected all the way to the end.

By now, Cleveland Center is tracking Flight 93 as it heads towards its target in Washington, D.C. They know they have a hijacking, and they know what has happened so far, but are unable to do anything other than move other nearby flights out of the way.

It's 9:39 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:39 AM

Aboard United Airlines Flight 93, passenger Lauren Grandcolas calls her husband in San Rafael, CA and leaves the following message on their answering machine.

GRANDCOLAS: Honey, are you there? Jack, pick up sweetie. Okay, well I just wanted to tell you I love you. We’re having a little problem on the plane. I’m comfortable and I’m okay… for now. Just a little problem. So I just love you. Please tell my family I love them too. Bye, honey.

It's 9:37 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:37 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Approximately 125 people on the ground are later determined killed or missing. Many key officials including Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, escape injury due to the plane hitting the wrong side of the massive building. The plane hit the wrong side of the building because of missing the Pentagon on its first pass. The joint chiefs and secretary of defense offices are above the River Entrance. The National Military Command Center is also on that side of the building. Hitting it would have essentially shut down the Defense Department.

It's 9:34 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:34 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 appears to turn away from Washington D.C., causing air traffic control to breathe a sigh of relief. The reason? The plane too high to hit its target, the Pentagon. So the pilot makes a large circle while descending rapidly to make another pass.

Tom Burnett, aboard United Airlines Flight 93, makes a second call to his wife Deena. She’s on the phone with the FBI, but switches over to Tom when he calls.

TOM: [The hijackers are] in the cockpit. The guy they knifed is dead…I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get a pulse.

DEENA: Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the east coast. They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.

TOM: [They are] talking about crashing this plane. Oh my gosh! It’s a suicide mission.

Tom then repeats what he’s been told to the person next to him.


TOM: [Have commercial airplanes been hijacked? How many? Who is doing this?] We’re turning back toward New York. We’re going back to the World Trade Center. No, wait, we’re turning back the other way. We’re going south. We’re over a rural area. It’s just fields. I’ve gotta go.


It's 9:32 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:32 AM

The New York Stock Exchange closes. It will not reopen until September 17th.

Dulles air traffic control notices a plane moving very fast (500 mph+) heading eastbound on their radar. This is American Airlines Flight 77. The plane is headed towards the prohibited airspace surrounding the White House. Over the next several minutes, this plane’s path will be tracked and various nearby facilities will be notified and will engage disaster plans. Some people are evacuated from the Pentagon.

It's 9:30 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:30 AM

Someone in the cockpit aboard United Airlines Flight 93 requests a new flight plan, with final destination Washington, D.C. It is unclear who makes this request.

It's 9:29 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:29 AM

President George W. Bush (R-USA) makes his first official statement about the unfolding events. He’s still at the school.

BUSH: Today we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.

It's 9:28 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:28 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 officially becomes the 4th hijacked plane. Cleveland flight control hears sounds of struggle and possible screaming in the cockpit, followed by people speaking in Arabic.

It's 9:27 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:27 AM.

Tom Burnett, a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93, call his wife Deena at their home in San Francisco. Despite the early hour on the west coast, Deena has already seen the television coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

She asks him if he’s ok…

TOM: No, I’m not. I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. They just knifed a guy.

DEENA: Are you in the air?

TOM: Yes, yes, just listen. Our airplane has been hijacked. It’s United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. We are in the air. The hijackers have already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They’re telling us there’s a bomb on board. Please call the authorities.

Then Tom tells his wife he’ll call back and hangs up. Deena does not have time to tell him about the what’s happened already, but she does write down everything he says.

This is the first of over 30 phone calls made by passengers of Flight 93.

It's 9:21 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:21 AM

The New York City Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in New York City.

It's 9:20 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:20 AM

The FAA’s Indianapolis Center finally learns that there are other hijacked aircraft, and now doubts that Flight 77 crashed. They discuss this possibility with the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia.

Also, at about this time, United Airlines Flight 23, bound to Los Angeles from JFK International in New York, cancels takeoff. It was scheduled to take off at 8:30, but left the gate late and has been sitting in line. Several Arab passengers become aggressive at this news and refuse to debark the plane. Security is called but before it arrives, the men will have vanished, leaving behind box-cutters, copies of the Koran, and al-Qaeda instruction sheets.

It is reasonable to conclude that Flight 23 was supposed to be the fifth plane to be hijacked. However, the target is unknown.

It's 9:15 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:15 AM

American Airlines grounds all its flights, ordering all airborne planes to land at the nearest available airport. By now, they have discussed the situation with United Airlines and doubt that the second plane to hit the World Trade Center was their missing Flight 77.

It's 9:10 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:10 AM

Flight 77 enters Washington D.C. airspace, yet flight control does not realize that this mystery plane is the hijacked American Airlines flight.

It’s also at about this time that an employee at an FAA flight service station reports that Flight 77 may have crashed near Ashland, Kentucky. No plane crashed anywhere near here, and this appears to be the result of confused radio chatter. Nevertheless, the end result is that the search for Flight 77 is disrupted.

Melodie Homer has been watching the events unfurl on TV. She is worried about her husband Leroy Homer, the co-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93. She calls the United Airlines Operation Center at JFK and asks that they send a message to him to find out if he’s ok.

They do. There is no response. A few minutes later they will send a second text message. Again, there will be no response.

It's 9:06 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

President George W. Bush (R-USA), while reading “My Pet Goat” with a second grade class in Booker Elementary, is told by his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card: “A second plane hit the other tower, and America’s under attack.”

He stays in the class room for the next seven minutes. Later the media will make a big deal of this, but their opinions are discounted by the people in the classroom.

It's 9:03 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:03 AM

United Airlines Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center (Tower Two). Seismic records pinpoint the time at six seconds before 9:03 a.m. (rounded to 9:03 a.m.). Millions watch it live on TV, and realize belatedly that the United States of America is under attack.

Watch this, if you can. If the embed doesn’t work, see it at YouTube.

It's 9:00 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:00 AM

Peter Hanson makes a second phone call to his father from United Airlines Flight 175.

HANSON: It’s getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and Mace—They said they have a bomb—It’s getting very bad on the plane—Passengers are throwing up and getting sick—The plane is making jerky movements—I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—don’t worry, Dad—If it happens, it’ll be very fast—My God, my God.