Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Scan

SoCal's Own Fruit And Nut

Adam Gadahn, born of OC, raised by hippie parents on a goat farm in the hills of Riverside County, gives us such pride. Not. He is, of course, al-Qaeda's American mouthpiece, and he's released another screed against the country that raised him:

"We felt it necessary to address the American people and explain to them some of the facts about these critical and fast-moving events. The first questions Americans might ask is has America really been defeated? The answer is yes and on all fronts."

If we're so defeated, I wonder why Gadahn feels compelled to say this:
Meanwhile, the occupied territories are awaiting their first visit by the Crusader Bush, and the mujahadeen are also waiting. [He switches here from English to Arabic, and leans into the camera.] At this point I issue an urgent call to our mujahadeen brothers in Muslim Palestine, and in the Arabian Peninsula in particular and all the region in general.

They should be in full readiness to receive the crusader arch-killer Bush in his visit to Muslim Palestine and to the occupied Arabian Peninsula at the beginning of January. They should receive him not with roses and applause, but with bombs and booby-traps.
He then proceeds to destroy his American passport. Good riddance, traitor.

The story of how a Jewish boy from SoCal could have become the hate-filled mouthpiece of al-Qaeda should be a lesson on the consequences of even gushy liberalism and its anti-establishment bent and ingrained distrust and hatred of America.

The only difference between Adam Gadahn and thousands of kids raised by very liberal parents is that Gadahn started attending a mosque, just as John Walker Lindh did.

For an in-depth three-part biography of Gadahn, his Jewish grandparents, hippie parents and Muslim conversion, here, here and here are links to my overviews, each of which includes links to the three parts of the article.

Czech Artists' Joke Bombs

They say you can't be an artist if you haven't suffered. Will three years in a Czech jail suffice?
Last June, anyone watching a certain Czech weather channel at the right moment saw a panning shot of the countryside near the Krkonose, or Giant Mountains, in Bohemia, when a yellow flash filled their screens and a skinny mushroom cloud lifted in the distance.

It was a hoax. A Czech artists' group had inserted the explosion digitally. A state prosecutor said on Thursday that six members of the group will now have to stand trial for the hack. They could face up to three years in jail. (Spiegel)
The artists wanted to make the point that it was easy to hack into broadcast computer systems -- a curious new form of art, eh?

Here are the two sides of the argument. First, the artists:
"We are neither a terrorist organization nor a political group," a statement by Ztohoven said. "Our aim is not to intimidate society or manipulate it, which is something we witness on a daily basis both in the real world and that created by the media. On June 17 2007, [we] attacked the space of TV broadcasting, distorting it, questioning its truthfulness and its credibility."
And the accuser:
No one was hurt, but a spokesman for Czech Television said, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper, "The fake broadcast was really very inadvisable and could have provoked panic among a wide group of people."
True, but I like Ztohoven's point about media manipulation more.

Saaskavili Vote Revisited

Here's what Speigel has to say about Mikhail Saaskavili's apparent victory in yesterday's presidential elections in Georgia:
President Mikhail Saakashvili wants to be re-elected in Georgia on Saturday -- after violent crackdowns on the opposition. This ally of the West is looking more and more like a dictator, with opponents arrested, beaten or sent into exile, and accusations of vote-rigging from critics inside Georgia and abroad.
Georgia, as I mentioned Friday, sits in one of the world's most strategic pieces of real estate. Both Saakashvili and his opposition support ties with the West and staying outside the sphere of Russia, but the government's crushing of opposition last summer has raised fears (including my own) that the U.S. may be getting back to the "Yeah, he's a dictator, but he's our dictator" school of diplomacy.

Last November, Daniel Fried, our Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, said in Tbilisi:
[W]e are all here because Georgia is on the frontiers of freedom. Frontiers of freedom began in Poland in 1989 and those frontiers have advanced. This is where the link between freedom and security is being made; where democratic institutions are being built.

Freedom is not a luxury that one looks to achieve as an afterthought. The 21st century faces many challenges-terrorism, the proliferation of unconventional weapons and energy dependence are three important ones. The response, however, to these problems will be found through the expansion of democracy, of free markets, the rule of law, and the willingness to defend them. These values in turn make the resolution of these problems easier.

Georgia has taken strides in all these areas already. Georgians must know that the world is aware of and appreciates their progress.

Georgia's strong progress should not mask the progress yet needed. Georgia's ultimate fate is still to be determined. Much depends on the decisions Georgians and their leaders take in years to come. I can outline an American perspective on the issues at stake. To start, let me quickly deal with a couple of questions where easy answers are in fact available.
A bit of a wrist-slap there -- and a slap State should re-visit in the wake of the election, as opposition demonstrations broke out in Georgia's capital declaring the election results to be fraudulent.

Georgia is doing OK, but just OK, and Saaskavili has become problematic. He's too valuable an ally to lose, but he needs to face continuing pressure to reinstitute support for Democratic reforms, even as he receives our support.

BBC reports the elections appear to have been fair, but the opposition says not. That tees up State's first challenge following the election.

"A Cosmic Clock Being Reset"

Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that the seventh year of the Bush administration forces a reassessment of the entire Bush presidency:

The White House's recent policy reversals amount to a stunning repudiation of the first seven years of George W. Bush's presidency. Where allies were previously disrespected, now they're viewed as essential. Where diplomacy was eschewed, now it's pursued with vigor. No longer running the government from his base, George W. Bush finally tries to lead the entire nation.

Bush's political opponents detect weakness and regret and a last-ditch attempt to salvage legacy, while supporters point to a self-professed dissident leader extending a freedom agenda in his final months. Both perspectives hold much truth.

But, as someone who's worked extensively throughout the national security community across this administration, both inside and outside government, I am struck by how the world seems to be returning to its pre-9/11 correlation of forces, like a cosmic clock being reset. It's almost as if the sum total effect of the second Bush term will be to repair the damage caused by the first.

Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map, supported John Kerry in 2004 because he felt that Kerry would be more able to readily refocus on the broader, global issues that require cooperation between nations. Now Bush has reached that view and all that has been lost in the last few years is "time and opportunity, our most precious assets."

I would argue that national security is our most precious asset, and support Bush for a unilateralism that many can't forgive him for. But I agree with Barnett that the War on Terror has progressed enough that we can begin focusing more on other global issues, and my own support for Bush has increased in the last year, as the war in Iraq has been fought more intelligently, and diplomacy has improved.

The $400 Million Bail

War profiteer and greed-meister David Brooks is out on bail -- but my oh my, what a bail!
  • A $400 million bond, which Brooks secured with $48 million in pledged assets.
  • Monitoring of all communications, including Internet, excluding attorney-client privileged communications.
  • Brooks funding of private guards authorized to use force to if necessary to restrain Brooks
Those are terms that would make a Mafia godfather shake his head in awe.

Brooks is the founder of DHB Industries, which manufactures bulletproof vests for U.S. troops in Iraq and cops here at home. The charges against him aren't for war profiteering -- a common complaint against him since he sells high priced, often defective products to the military -- but because he allegedly defrauded shareholders by overstating profits.

The Blotter explains the strict terms:
In large part, the terms, dubbed "bulletproof," by one senior law enforcement official, are so severe because Brooks' wealth and alleged blatant flaunting of the law make him a far larger flight risk than these and many other defendants, two federal officials said.
Brooks gained a bit of notoriety when he dropped $10 mil on his daughters bat mitzvah and another $10 mil on a diamond. Sounds like a lovely man.

No Further Debate Update

We all know the global warming debate is over and that changes in ocean temperature are caused by nothing more than the nasty emissions of SUVs, power plants and factories, but I thought I'd pass this along nonetheless:
ScienceDaily (Jan. 5, 2008) — A Duke University-led analysis of available records shows that while the North Atlantic Ocean's surface waters warmed in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000, the change was not uniform. In fact, the subpolar regions cooled at the same time that subtropical and tropical waters warmed.

This striking pattern can be explained largely by the influence of a natural and cyclical wind circulation pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), wrote authors of a study published Jan. 3, in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science.
Wind!? How are you going to build a user tax and fund a global bureaucracy on wind, for cryin' out loud?

Oh, My!

clipped from

blog it

Spitting On Returning Troops Update

Our troops have been treated pretty well, all in all. The American Left apparently has cut through their muddled cloudiness that is their brains on Liberalism and determined that spitting on returning troops is not always a good idea.

But in Britain (which, as you know -- unless, perhaps, you're one of the people interviewed in the clip above -- is a part of that advanced Liberal nirvana called Europe), the troops are not doing as well:
Scores of soldiers flying home from Afghanistan on Christmas leave were ordered to change out of their uniforms on a freezing runway before being allowed into a civilian airport terminal.

Troops were told not to be seen in public in their uniforms - which they had worn with pride while risking their lives during months of intense fighting against the Taliban.

Last night the Ministry of Defence and bosses at Birmingham International Airport blamed each other for the indignity suffered by the soldiers - which comes amid mounting anger over the treatment of British troops returning from war.

One soldier, who was ordered to undress for "security reasons", said: "It is an insult to the entire Army to force guys who've been fighting in Afghanistan to obey some jobsworth rule when all they want to do is get home to their families.

"So much for a nation proud of its servicemen. The temperature was Baltic on the runway but most of just wanted to get home so we cracked on."

The December 23 flight, carrying 200 personnel, had been diverted from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to Birmingham because of bad weather.

The troops were told they could either wait for coaches to take them back to Brize Norton or else travel home via public transport - in which case they must change into civilian clothes before entering the terminal. (Daily Mail)
The Brit's Department of Defensed shuched and jived to come up with an excuse that I won't bother to even pass on, but I liked this quote from Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry commander:
"This is just the sort of thing that gets seriously up the noses of fighting troops."
Indeed it does. (hat-tip: What Bubba Knows)

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