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Archive for August, 2007

I can’t be the only shuck still taking flights on business trips am I?
Well maybe I guess.

Imagine a work world with no commute, no corporate headquarters and perhaps not even an office in the physical world at all.

For Bob Flavin, a computer scientist at IBM; Janet Hoffman, an executive at a management consulting firm; and Joseph Jaffe, a marketing entrepreneur, the future is already here.

“These days we do so much by teleconference it really doesn’t matter where you are,” Flavin said.

Like 42 percent of IBM’s 350,000 employees, Flavin rarely comes in to an IBM office.

“We don’t care where and how you get your work done,” said Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM’s global health care and life sciences business. “We care that you get your work done.”

IBM says it saves $100 million a year in real estate costs because it doesn’t need the offices.

Head to Work, in Cyberspace

On the day we met Flavin, he was collaborating with computer scientists in British Columbia and Beijing from the on-call room of the local ambulance corps where he works as a volunteer.

The work force at the Accenture management consulting firm is so mobile not even the CEO has an office with his name on the door.

With no corporate headquarters, if you need a work space, you reserve it like a hotel room — checking in and out at a kiosk.

“Having a big desk as a sign of status with lots of family photos and you know, carpeting that’s fluffy and nice, that is a vision of the past,” said Hoffman, executive vice president of Accenture.

In the future, more companies with scattered work forces and clients may do what the marketing firm Crayon is doing: making its headquarters in cyberspace.

Crayon’s workers rarely meet in the physical world — some are in Boston, others are in Nutley, N.J. — but their online alter egos in the virtual world gather once a week.

We never met Crayon’s CEO in person but we spent a couple of hours together in cyberspace.

“Our belief is if we bring like minds together no matter where they are in the world we can actually create that connectedness as if we’re actually at the same place at the same time,” said Jaffe, Crayon’s CEO.

The future is rapidly approaching and the move towards a real true GLOBAL enterprise with action flowing and work being done on all levels around the globe is getting closer and closer. Great stuff.

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A very interesting interniew with John Redd head of the Nation Counter Terrorism Center. Now if we can only get a Jack Bauer on that CTU team.

Aug. 27, 2007 – Al Qaeda has an active plot to hit the West. The United States knows about it but doesn’t have enough tactical detail to issue a precise warning or raise the threat level, says Vice Admiral (ret.) John Scott Redd, who heads the government’s National Counterterrorism Center. In an interview at his headquarters near Washington, D.C., Redd told Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball and Jeffrey Bartholet that the country is better prepared than ever to counter such threats. But he also believes another successful terror attack on the U.S. homeland is inevitable. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: People in various agencies have said that since Tora Bora in 2001, they at no time have had even 50-percent confidence that they knew where Osama bin Laden was on any particular day, and therefore they have been unable to mount any operations to go get him. Is that wrong?

Redd: What I’ll tell you about bin Laden is if we knew where he was, he’d either be dead or captured. It’s that simple. [He’s] obviously a tough target. That whole area is a tough target. And my standard answer on OBL is: remember [convicted Atlanta Olympics bomber] Eric Rudolph. Nobody likes to hear it but, I mean, here’s a guy [who was on the run] in the United States of America. We had unlimited access—the FBI, local law enforcement—and the guy hid out for an awful long time just by keeping a low profile. One reporter said the other day, “Well, gee, you’ve got all this great overhead stuff and various surveillance things.” I said, “Yeah. I’d trade those for about three great human sources.”


Why do people believe bin Laden’s still alive?

Well, I guess the question is, why do you believe he’s dead? I think we’re into the longest period we’ve gone without hearing from him, but we’ve done this before. Back in ’05, I think [the length of time we didn’t hear from bin Laden] may have been a week shorter than [the period of his silence] now. So, yeah, we haven’t heard from him [since spring 2006]. People are starting to say, “He’s dead. He’s dead.” Quite frankly, we think that if he had died it would have become known. It would be very hard to keep that from leaking out.

Also, there are periodic rumors about him suffering from this disease or that disease, needing dialysis, having to get some exotic drug. Is any of that credible?
The short answer is, we don’t know. There are those sporadic reports indicating illness, indicating incapacitation, but nothing firm.

Ayman al-Zawahiri seems to have much more freedom of expression, as it were, which implies more freedom of movement. His tapes now are reasonably well produced.
We saw almost a 300-percent increase in media stuff in 2006 out of all of Al Qaeda, and I think this year we are heading toward that mark already, or getting ahead of that. They are becoming more sophisticated. They are not relying on Al Jazeera or you folks to get the message out. They are using the Internet. They’ve got a fairly well-oiled, if you will, media group. They are doing things like going after a different audience or going after a larger audience, by using subtitles.


English-language…

German, Italian, a number of different things. So they have become more sophisticated.

So they actually upload this stuff on the Internet directly?
Well, Ayman al-Zawahiri doesn’t sit there and say, “Press and upload.”…But you know, what you see is sort of a desire to put themselves on the map. So Zawahiri, I think he had 15 videos last year—and he’s almost there [this year]. He’ll certainly get there this year, if not more, but you’re also seeing a broader spectrum of [Qaeda] people talking about subjects. To be crass about it, it kind of reminds me of a CEO in a start-up company in Silicon Valley. What do you want to do? You want your name out there. So you put out press releases. It helps your funding base—in that case, capitalists, in this case, people who fund Al Qaeda.

While we’re on this topic, what can you tell us about Pakistan’s release of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, who allegedly was a top Al Qaeda communications and computer guy and is now roaming free?
Obviously, we’re not exactly happy about that. We have a legal system, and the Pakistanis have a legal system, which was designed for a different era. I won’t go into their legal system because I am not an expert on it, but the [Pakistani] Supreme Court said, “You’ve got to release this guy,” and, you know, he’s out for a variety of reasons.

What does the progression of terror cases in Britain tell you? Two years ago terrorists actually managed to kill some people. This year it’s these two clowns in Glasgow. They were doctors and engineers who seemed to have some connection to Pakistan and/or Iraq, yet they couldn’t build a bomb. What does this tell you about the evolution of the organization, the evolution of the front-line terrorists?
It shows you the advantage of having a safe haven—a place where you can take someone and not just say, “Here is the formula. Godspeed and go do something,” but rather, “Let’s [try] it. Let’s make it. Let’s see it go bang.”

Iraq is a giant university for bombmakers.
But, see, they don’t have to [make] it there. They just buy the explosives. It’s HBX or C4. There’s so much explosive material around there.

But if they wanted to teach people, they certainly could.
But you don’t have to make C4. You put a detonator in it with a 99-percent likelihood that sucker is going to go off. And they are very good at that.

Is there evidence, though, that they are training people in Iraq to do operations abroad?
AQI has done—certainly under Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi—“external operations” [in Jordan]. I am not going to comment on the most recent U.K. thing and whether there was a connection.

The Europeans have been concerned about traffic between Iraq and Europe.
There’s always a concern. Frankly, with what is going on inside Iraq right now, it is probably fair to say that Abu Ayyub al-Masri [the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq] pretty much has his hands full, although not completely.

Tell us about the threat that emerged earlier this year.
We’ve got this intelligence threat; we’re pretty certain we know what’s going on. We don’t have all the tactical details about it, [but] in some ways it’s not unlike the U.K. aviation threat last year. So we know there is a threat out there. The question is, what do we do about it? And the response was, we stood up an interagency task force under NCTC leadership. So you have all the players you would expect: FBI, CIA, DHS, DIA, DoD, the operators—the military side comes into that—participating in an integrated plan, but integrated in a much more granular and tactical way than we’ve ever done before. This is my 40th year in government service, 36 in uniform and almost four as a civilian. This is revolutionary stuff, and it is affecting the way we do business.

Earlier this summer, there was talk that people were picking up chatter that reminded them of the summer before 9/11. The Germans basically said this is like pre-9/11. They said, “We are very worried.” What do you make of this?
We have very strong indicators that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the West and is likely to [try to] attack, and we are pretty sure about that. We know some of the precursors from—

Attack Europe?
Well, they would like to come West, and they would like to come as far West as they can. What we don’t know is…if it’s going to be Mark Hosenball, and he’s coming in on Flight 727 out of Karachi, he’s stopping in Frankfurt, and he’s coming on through with his European Union passport, and he’s coming into New York, and he’s going to do something. I mean, we don’t have that kind of tactical detail. What we do have, though, is a couple of threads that indicate, you know, some very tactical stuff, and that’s what—you know, that’s what you’re seeing bits and pieces of, and I really can’t go much more into it.

But this did not affect our threat level. We didn’t change our code.
We’re pretty high-threat right now. Until you know something that is going to make a difference, you know, you don’t necessarily change the threat level. What that does is really stir a lot of people up and get them ticked off, but it probably doesn’t accomplish very much.

And you don’t as of today see any particular reduction in that threat?
It’s still there. It’s very serious, you know, and we’re watching it. We’re learning more all the time, but it’s still a very serious threat.

Last thing: Are we winning or losing the war on terrorism?
This is a long war. People say, “What is this like?” I say it’s like the cold war in only two respects. Number one, there is a strong ideological content to it. Number two, it is going to be a long war. I’ll be dead before this one is over. We will probably lose a battle or two along the way. We have to prepare for that. Statistically, you can’t bat 1.000 forever, but we haven’t been hit for six years, [which is] no accident.

I will tell you this: We are better prepared today for the war on terror than at any time in our history. We have done an incredible amount of things since 9/11, across the board. Intelligence is better. They are sharing it better. We are taking the terrorists down. We are working with the allies very carefully. We are doing the strategic operational planning, going after every element in the terrorist life cycle. So we have come a long way. But these guys are smart. They are determined. They are patient. So over time we are going to lose a battle or two. We are going to get hit again, you know, but you’ve got to have the stick-to-itiveness or persistence to outlast it.

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The inefficiencies of govt become pretty clear when this sort of thing happens.

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 — Several federal agencies are investigating a widening network of criminal cases involving the purchase and delivery of billions of dollars of weapons, supplies and other matériel to Iraqi and American forces, according to American officials. The officials said it amounted to the largest ring of fraud and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here.

The inquiry has already led to several indictments of Americans, with more expected, the officials said. One of the investigations involves a senior American officer who worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus in setting up the logistics operation to supply the Iraqi forces when General Petraeus was in charge of training and equipping those forces in 2004 and 2005, American officials said Monday.

There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing by General Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, who through a spokesman declined comment on any legal proceedings.

This article is based on interviews with more than a dozen federal investigators, Congressional, law enforcement and military officials, and specialists in contracting and logistics, in Iraq and Washington, who have direct knowledge of the inquiries. Many spoke on condition of anonymity because there are continuing criminal investigations.

The inquiries are being pursued by the Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other agencies.

Over the past year, inquiries by federal oversight agencies have found serious discrepancies in military records of where thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces actually ended up. None of those agencies concluded that weapons found their way to insurgents or militias.

In their public reports, those agencies did not raise the possibility of criminal wrongdoing, and General Petraeus has said that the imperative to provide weapons to Iraqi security forces was more important than maintaining impeccable records.

In an interview on Aug. 18, General Petraeus said that with ill-equipped Iraqi security forces confronting soaring violence across the country in 2004 and 2005, he made a decision not to wait for formal tracking systems to be put in place before distributing the weapons.

“We made a decision to arm guys who wanted to fight for their country,” General Petraeus said.

But now, American officials said, part of the criminal investigation is focused on Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, who reported directly to General Petraeus and worked closely with him in setting up the logistics operation for what were then the fledgling Iraqi security forces.

That operation moved everything from AK-47s, armored vehicles and plastic explosives to boots and Army uniforms, according to officials who were involved in it. Her former colleagues recall Colonel Selph as a courageous officer who was willing to take substantial personal risks to carry out her mission and was unfailingly loyal to General Petraeus and his directives to move quickly in setting up the logistics operation.

“She was kind of like the Pony Express of the Iraqi security forces,” said Victoria Wayne, who was then deputy director of logistics for the overall Iraqi reconstruction program.

Still, Colonel Selph also ran into serious problems with a company she oversaw that failed to live up to a contract it had signed to carry out part of that logistics mission.

It is not clear exactly what Colonel Selph is being investigated for. Colonel Selph, reached by telephone twice on Monday, said she would speak to reporters later but did not answer further messages left for her.

The enormous expenditures of American and Iraqi money on the Iraq reconstruction program, at least $40 billion over all, have been criticized for reasons that go well beyond the corruption cases that have been uncovered so far. Weak oversight, poor planning and seemingly endless security problems have contributed to many of the program’s failures.

The investigation into contracts for matériel to Iraqi soldiers and police officers is part of an even larger series of criminal cases. As of Aug. 23, there were a total of 73 criminal investigations related to contract fraud in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, Col. Dan Baggio, an Army spokesman said Monday. Twenty civilians and military personnel have been charged in federal court as a result of the inquiries, he said. The inquiries involve contracts valued at more than $5 billion, and Colonel Baggio said the charges so far involve more than $15 million in bribes.

Just last week, an Army major, his wife and his sister were indicted on charges that they accepted up to $9.6 million in bribes for Defense Department contracts in Iraq and Kuwait.

Investigations span the gamut from low-level officials submitting false claims for amounts less than $2,500 to more serious cases involving, conspiracy, bribery, product substitution and bid-rigging or double-billing involving large dollar amounts or more senior contracting officials, Army criminal investigators said. The investigations involve contractors, government employees, local nationals and American military personnel.

Questions about whether the American military could account for the weaponry and other equipment purchased to outfit the Iraqi security forces were raised as early as May of last year, when Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia and then the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a request to an independent federal oversight agency to investigate the matter.

But federal officials say the inquiry has moved far beyond the initial investigation of hundreds of thousands of improperly tracked assault rifles and semiautomatic pistols that grew out of Senator Warner’s query. In fact, Senator Warner said in a statement to The New York Times that he was outraged when he was briefed recently on the initial findings of the investigations.

“When I was briefed on the recent developments, I felt so strongly that I asked the Secretary of the Army to brief the Armed Services Committee right away, which he did in early August,” Senator Warner said in a statement.

An Army spokesman declined to comment on the briefing by the secretary of the Army, Pete Geren. In a sign of the seriousness of the scandal, the Defense Department Inspector General, Claude M. Kicklighter, will lead an 18-person team to Iraq early next month to investigate contracting practices, said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.

Mr. Morrell said Mr. Kicklighter, a retired three-star Army general, would stay in Iraq indefinitely to investigate contracting abuses, and was empowered to fix problems on the spot or take action if his team identified potential criminal activity.

Congressional officials who have been briefed on the Defense Department inspector general’s inquiry said Monday that one focus would be on weapons, munitions and explosives. In addition, Mr. Geren, the Army secretary, is expected to announce later this week the creation of a panel of senior contracting and logistics specialists to address any systemic problems they identify.

Senator Warner’s request last May for an independent federal oversight agency to investigate the accountability of weapons and equipment given to Iraqi security forces unde0rscored concern about the issue.

That federal agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, responded with a report in October 2006 that found serious discrepancies in American military records of where thousands of the weapons actually ended up. The military did not take the routine step of recording serial numbers for the weapons, the inspector general found, making it difficult to determine whether any of the weapons had ended up in the wrong hands.

In July 2007, the Government Accountability Office found even larger discrepancies, reporting that the American military “cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80 items of body armor, and 115,000 helmets reported as issued to Iraqi security forces as of Sept. 22, 2005.”

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You would think this is exactly what the left in this country wants, Iran to further put a grip on another nation besides Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and now they have their sites on Iraq. The push to the Islamic Caliphate is on with this mad man and his Ayatollah.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that a power vacuum is imminent in Iraq and said that Iran was ready to help fill the gap.

“The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly,” Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran, referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. “Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation.”

Although Ahmadinejad did not elaborate how Iran could fill a power gap, his bold remarks reflected what may be perceived as Iran’s eagerness for an increasing role on its neighbor’s political scene.

Earlier this month, during a visit here by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iranian leaders said that only a U.S. pullout would bring peace to Iraq and pledged their government would do its best to help stabilize the country.

Ahmadinejad accused the United States of interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs, and dismissed U.S. criticism of al-Maliki’s unsuccessful efforts to reconcile the country’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

“They rudely say (the Iraqi) prime minister and the constitution must change,” Ahmadinejad said. “Who are you? Who has given you the right” to ask for such a change, he added, addressing the U.S. critics of al- Maliki, who is also a Shiite.

Ahmadinejad dismissed the possibility of any U.S. military action against Iran.

“I tell you resolutely that there is no possibility, whatsoever, of such a decision in the U.S.,” Ahmadinejad told reporters. “Even, if they were to decide to do so, they would be unable to carry it out.”

U.S. has accused Iran of being behind attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq—a claim the Iraqi government has only partially backed, saying Iran could have a role in the attacks. Iran has denied the accusations.

We pull out its just a matter of time before the process is complete.
THE ONLY way to stop anything like this from happening is to create a very stable govt that does not need Iran and can serve instead as an example for Iranians that are every growing frustrated with the Politics in Iran and their Presidents thirst for blood.

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A French leader with ballz?
This has to be proof that evolution does exist.

France’s Sarkozy raises prospect of Iran airstrikes

In his first major foreign policy speech, French president says diplomatic push by world’s powers to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program is only alternative to ‘Iranian bomb or bombing of Iran’

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a diplomatic push by the world’s powers to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program was the only alternative to “an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran.”

In his first major foreign policy speech, Sarkozy emphasized his existing foreign policy priorities, such as opposing Turkish membership of the European Union and pushing for a new Mediterranean Union that he hopes will include Ankara.

He also presented some new ideas, such as possibly renewing high-level dialogue with Syria and expanding the Group of Eight industrialized nations to include the biggest developing states.

Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and that major powers should continue their policy of incrementally increasing sanctions against Tehran while being open to talks if Iran suspended nuclear activities.

“This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,” he said, adding that it was the worst crisis currently facing the world.

Tehran says it only wants to generate electricity but it has yet to convince the world’s most powerful countries that it is not secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.

Sarkozy criticized Russia for its dealings on the international stage. “Russia is imposing its return on the world scene by using its assets, notably oil and gas, with a certain brutality,” he said.

“When one is a great power, one should not be brutal.”

Energy disputes between Russia and neighbors such as Belarus and Ukraine have raised doubts in Europe about Moscow’s reliability as a gas exporter. It supplies Europe, via its neighbors, with around a quarter of its gas demands.

Sarkozy had warm words for the United States, saying friendship between the two countries was important. But he said he felt free to disagree with American policies, highlighting what he called a lack of leadership on the environment.

Franco-Syrian dialogue

Breaking with the policy of his predecessor Jacques Chirac, Sarkozy said he was prepared to hold high-level talks with Syria if it backed French efforts aimed at ending the political crisis in Lebanon. “If Damascus committed itself to this path, then the conditions for a Franco-Syrian dialogue would be in place.”

But he stuck to his predecessor’s stance in demanding that a timeline be drawn up for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Sarkozy said the only option for Turkey’s accession talks with the European Union was a form of privileged partnership short of EU membership, and said he wanted a Mediterranean Union to take shape next year.

Turkey has said that project should not be an alternative to Ankara joining the European Union.

Sarkozy proposed setting up a “committee of wise men” to consider the future of Europe, including the Turkish question.

He criticized Beijing’s management of its currency, which he says is too low and gives it an unfair advantage on export markets. He said China and other developing powers Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and India should eventually join the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations to become the G13.

Never thought I would agree with a French President in my lifetime. But look at that!

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Ohh this was way too good to pass up.
Seeing as all liberals cry about is how the rich are getting richer and more people are staying poor. Ohh baby I can’t WAIT for the spin that is going to come from this one.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s poverty rate dropped last year, the first significant decline since President Bush took office.

The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that 36.5 million Americans, or 12.3 percent — were living in poverty last year. That’s down from 12.6 percent in 2005.

The median household income was $48,200, a slight increase from the previous year. But the number of people without health insurance also increased, to 47 million.

The last significant decline in the poverty rate came in 2000, during the Clinton administration. In 2005, the poverty rate dipped from 12.7 percent to 12.6 percent, but Census officials said that change was statistically insignificant.

The poverty numbers are good economic news at a time when financial markets have been rattled by a slumping housing market. However, the numbers released Tuesday represent economic conditions from a year ago.

The poverty level is the official measure used to decide eligibility for federal health, housing, nutrition and child care benefits. It differs by family size and makeup. For a family of four with two children, for example, the poverty level is $20,444. The poverty rate — the percentage of people living below poverty — helps shape the debate on the health of the nation’s economy.

The figures were released at a news conference by David Johnson, chief of the Census Bureau’s Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division.

The poverty report comes five years into an uneven economic recovery, and well into a presidential campaign that still has 14 months to go.

Poverty has not been a big issue in the campaign, and political scientists said they doubted the new numbers would change that.

“The poor are politically mute,” said Larry Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. “What rational politician would listen to the poor? They don’t vote, they don’t write checks, why care?”

Democrat John Edwards has made fighting poverty a centerpiece of his campaign. But, Jacobs noted, “He’s struggling to raise money and he’s lagging in the polls.”

Evelyn Brodkin, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, said she expects the rising number of people without insurance to get more attention in the campaign.

The share of Americans without health insurance hit 15.8 percent last year, up from 15.3 percent the previous year. Johnson said the increase in the percentage of uninsured was mostly fueled by a decline in employer-provided health coverage.

“It affects people in the middle, and it affects corporations,” Brodkin said. “Especially those who compete globally, they are really hurting because they have to compete with companies that don’t have huge health insurance bills for their labor force.”

Median household income — the point at which half make more and half make less — was above the U.S. median in 18 states and the District of Columbia, while 29 states were below it. As for individual earnings, in each of the 50 states, women had lower median earnings than men in 2006.

Lyndon Johnson was the last president to launch a major initiative aimed at eradicating poverty, said Sheldon Danziger, co-director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan.

Danziger said low unemployment in 2006 helped lower the poverty rate. But, he noted, the rate was slow to drop despite five years of economic growth.

“For three decades we have had an economy where workers with a high school diploma or less have hardly kept up with inflation,” Danziger said.

Low-wage workers have been hurt by the nation’s declining manufacturing sector, which has lost more than 3 million jobs since Bush took office.

Once again the bold area highlights the importance of higher education!

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INDIANAPOLIS — Fred Thompson thinks the country faces a tough road ahead and he’s not glossing over the problems we face. In fact, he’s anxious to outline the daunting litany and appears to be basing his forthcoming campaign on the assumption that his party shares the same outlook.

In a 25-minute after-dinner speech to attendees of the Midwestern Republican Leadership Conference here, Thompson offered a stark assessment of what he described as America’s perilous condition.

“I simply believe that on the present course that we’re going to be a weaker, less prosperous, more divided nation than what we have been,” Thompson told the crowd in a deep baritone that rarely strayed from an even tone. “I do not say that lightly, but I think it’s the truth. And I think the American people are ready for the truth.”

There are three major challenges, Thompson said, and none are being given appropriate attention or sufficient commitment. National security (“our country’s in danger; it’s going to be that way for a long time to come”), the economy (“we are doing steady damage to our economy, that if we don’t do things better it’s going to result in economic disaster for future generations”) and the polarization, cynicism and incompetence gripping the capital (“in order to have leadership you got to have somebody who’s going to follow; our people follow, but they don’t have any confidence in what’s being said or who’s saying it”).

And Thompson’s tonic for these thorny matters?

Well, befitting his still not yet being a formal candidate he didn’t have specific solutions. Instead he returned to what he calls “first principles.”

“I don’t think the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are outmoded documents,” Thompson declared, finally giving the crowd something to clap about after the gloomy bill of particulars was laid out. Federalism or devolving power to the states would help, he said. Also, the rule of law, the market economy, respect for private property, free trade and competition came in for praise — hardly dangerous ground among conservative activists.

Perhaps recognizing that all his rhetoric was depressing a crowd that given him a loud and extended welcome, Thompson said it was very much possible for things to turn around. “We know how to do that, we’ve done it so many times before,” he reminded.

But in an acknowledgment that his speech wasn’t the typical rah-rah fare party activists are used to hearing from their after-dinner speakers, Thompson said “some might say, ‘well, Fred, you haven’t done much talking about the Republican Party tonight.'”

“My friends, that’s exactly what I’ve been talking about,” he argued. “Because I think that’s what the Republican Party believes, I think that’s what we’ve stood for, that’s the kinds of things we must stand for and if we do that we will be successful and we will deserve to lead this nation, we will lead this nation.”

It was a sober-verging-on-somber talk, but Thompson’s advisers think that a depressed GOP recognizes the difficulties it’s in and wants somebody who won’t sugarcoat things. Still, when he concluded his address the crowd did not appear as much as energized as alerted.

Laurie Wilson, a Hoosier I chatted with after the speech, thought the easy-going “Law & Order” star would have a smoother delivery, but said he still resonated.

“I appreciated his honesty,” Wilson said, conceding that his analysis was “a downer.”

“But where the country is right now is a downer,” she added. “And the way the political outlook for 2008, unless things change, is a downer.”

Another friendly local, Mary Walters, said she thought Thompson had a “message that appeals to the American people,” but she also had a polite message of her own for the still-not-announced candidate.

“If he, and should he, would he please let us know what he is going to do?”

The headline of this is a bit misleading but I will let what Thompson actually said speak for itself.

Check it out here

Interesting to see his tone.

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