Archive for the ‘9/11’ Category

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About This “But He Kept Us Safe” Meme…(pt. II)

January 21, 2009

Yea, I know I’ve been over this before, but I thought I’d mention that there now appears to be a website created for the purposes of formally thanking Bush for it (h/t LGF):

bushmissionaccomplished

Never mind the irony that Bush has stated on multiple occasions that he regrets the whole “Mission Accomplished” thing, of course.  On his watch, nearly 3000 died in the worst terrorist attack in American history.  In response, he turned around and invaded a country that had nothing to do with it, resulting in even more American lives lost, tens of thousands wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent…and nearly 6 years later, we’re still there.  But we’re supposed to thank him, because the batshit crazy cave-dwellers haven’t managed to pull off another stunt with knives and flying lessons?    They’re saying that not allowing the same mistakes and oversights to happen again is cause for some sort of praise, and willfully ignoring the fact that the battle was being waged well before 9/11, and making the assumption that those of us that hadn’t died horrifying deaths would be living under bin Laden’s rule if it wasn’t for the protective blanket provided by Papa Bush.   I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. 

Well, if one admits that it’s a cop-out for unconditionally supporting the guy all these years, then maybe I get it.

Anyway, if you click the image, you’ll see also that the site’s founders make the claim that “the president’s Number One Mission is to protect our nation” (bold in original).   But as we saw yesterday, the oath requires the president to swear to “preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States”.   Much has been made of the conflict between the two principles during Bush’s eight years in office, certainly, and I would assume that the ultimate goal would be to avoid sacrificing one for the sake of the other.   So how did Bush do with regard to the actual oath?  Pretty poorly, it would seem. 

So go ahead and thank him, if you wish.  You’re just a couple clicks away.  Give him the ol’ A for effort.  For myself, I think instead I’ll wait see if Obama is capable of cleaning up the mess first.

Exit thought:  That image of Bush has always spooked me.  Is it a gay lover look?  A Manson-esque stare?  The failed televangelist?   I’m not sure, but I’d take his ridiculous eyebrow-contorting phony smirks any day of the week over that crazy mugshot.

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About This “But He Kept Us Safe” Meme…

December 5, 2008

I have to apologize to my fellow members of the WPPBA, ’cause I really haven’t been paying as close of attention to politics as I should as of late.  So, I return to the fray… 

I couldn’t help but notice the recent hubub over the “Bush Legacy Project“.   Interesting, but not unexpected, all things considered.  I suppose the operative word there is “project”.  Hmmm…”project”.   When I think of “projects”, the first thing that comes to mind is one of those assignments that teachers hand out to groups of high school students.  And in the history of “projects”, I imagine that this would go down as one of the tougher ones.   Just think, having to come up with positive things to report on the Bush presidency.  I’d hope those kids would be graded on a curve.

But, hey, someone’s gotta try, right?   So, enter Peggy Noonan, who gives it a shot in today’s WSJ:  ‘At Least Bush Kept Us Safe’

Back to the Christmas gathering. There was no grousing about John McCain, and considerable grousing about the Bush administration, but it was almost always followed by one sentence, and this is more or less what it was: “But he kept us safe.”

Now, I’m not sure who hangs out at Peggy’s Christmas gatherings, but I can’t picture that statement resonating with anyone besides the zombie-eyed Bushbot kool aid overdosers that make up that 20% of Bush’s approval ratings.  Maybe it’s just me.  I guess if you’re that desperate to look at the glass as full even when it’s nearly empty, this kind of notion probably elicits a few head nods in a room full of like-minded individuals.  But the reality is that it’s so hollow that the sound of bullshit splattering actually echoes when shoveled with this sentiment.    Yep.  {{{{{echoes}}}}}  Here’s why…FILES-US-ATTACKS-BUSH

In order to really embrace this idea, one has to commit to a couple intellectually dishonest assumptions.   The primary one, of course, being  the assumption that the whole “keeping us safe” concept didn’t get added to the list of presidential responsibilities until after 9/11 (’cause certainly 9/11 was a far cry from “keeping us safe”).  The subset of that would include the “out of the blue” arguments I’ve heard from Krauthammer and others; as if the president and the entire U.S. intelligence community had never heard of Al Qaeda or bin Laden, and no one had ever thought about counter-terrorism before that day.

Since this one is pretty obvious, the 20 percenters usually follow “he kept us safe” with the qualifier “since 9/11″.   This is a nice segue into the next assumption…

A secondary assumption is that one really understands al Qaeda’s capabilities, motives or intentions.  After 9/11, no doubt many of my fellow Americans believed that AQ’s goal was something along the lines of systematically striking at every major city until we were all dead.  The attacks supposedly (perhaps because of their magnitude) marked the beginning of some onslaught, and we were expecting to be faced with wave after wave of terrorist plots and bombings.  A crisis that only a strong president could do what needed to be done to prevent the imminent Armageddon.   Or something like that…which is supposed to give the weight to the “after 9/11″ portion of the meme.

The problem is, this mindset ignores whether real terror threats to domestic targets have actually increased or decreased since 9/11.  But we’re to assume, I guess, that they’ve increased.  As Noonan correctly pointed out, much of that information is kept out of the public view, so we could speculate all day long, but just entertaining the question leads one to ponder the second one:  Has Bush kept us “more safe” than, say, Clinton?  And once you’ve gone there (comparing to other presidents), you’ve effectively watered down “he kept us safe” as a notable accolade. 

Or, it could very well be that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11 because, frankly, they haven’t really tried to.  Maybe they haven’t felt the need to.   To use a hockey metaphor, it’s hard to congratulate the goaltender that lost a 1-0 game, even though he only let in one goal.  Many, including myself, have suggested that 9/11 was less about killing Americans, and more about provoking a response.   Bush certainly gave them a response, and we got a giant, expensive, and deadly mess in Iraq (and occasionally a mocking by the al Qaeda creeps via the internet along the way). 

Anyway, after eight tumultuous years, and where we find ourselves now, its kinda telling that people like Noonan are posting up op-ed’s saying “Hey, at least we weren’t bombed again!”, and presenting it as the primary thing that matters.  It probably sounds good to the aforementioned faithful, but I don’t think it’d help the grade out on the “project”.

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Update:  Meanwhile, over at the discussion-free zone dubbed JammieWearingFool, JWF posts the following:

Say what you want about George W. Bush, but you cannot deny him this. Despite every effort made by the media and the left to undermine his policies designed strictly for this purpose–to keep us free from terrorism post-9/11–he got the job done, and for that he has earned his legacy.

That’s right, not only was Bush doing battle with al Qaeda, he was winning in spite of the plans of the evil media and half of the American citizens.  No doubt, it must be tough for him to keep that cape hidden under his suit.

Anyway, aren’t we counting our chickens before they hatch a bit here?  There’s still 40-something days left in Bush’s term, after all.   But should the unfortunate occur, I have no doubt that voices like JWF’s and Noonan’s Christmas Coctail Team will go moaning on about how much we could really use a Republican taking the oath Jan. 20 instead of Obama (because of those innate national security skills, of course) or blaming the media and/or the left for “undermining” the policies of the wise GWB.

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Obligatory 9/11 Billboard Thread

July 16, 2008

Oh, this is nice:

I suppose one could say that at least the guy who paid for that is being polite with the exploitation of 9/11.  You know, saying “please” and all.

Beyond that, I’m not sure it makes much sense, given the fact that it was a Republican president who was in office when the depicted attack took place.  The same guy who sat and thought about it for 7 minutes (probably trying to remember if they’d gotten the memo), and decided to scrap the mission to get the guy responsible, instead insisting on a trillion dollar boondoggle that will haunt us for decades.  

But, “please”… anything but a Democrat. 

Note to Mike Meehan:  That money would have been better spent buying a damn clue.  Put the kool aid down and back away.

Someone really outta set up a fund to raise money for an adjacent billboard.  You know, something like this:

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Mental Gymnastics: Not An Olympic Event (I checked)

June 23, 2008

(OK, OK, so I was watching the Olympic trails, and it inspired the title for this post.  So what?)

Anyway, I just had to bring up this post I saw (and commented on) over at Hot Air:  McCain advisor: A new terror attack would be “a big advantage to him”

Now, before I continue, I suppose I should note that I have addressed this issue before here in the Chamber: What Color Is The Sky On Hillary Clinton’s Home Planet?

I only mention this now because …well…because there’s this phrase that’s etched into my brain.  It’s “NO ATTACKS SINCE 9/11″.  This probably comes to me so quickly since, as a brave traveller of the political rightosphere, I’ve heard it dozens of times.   The phrase has been effective, apparently, as it had somehow permeated and invaded Mrs. Clinton’s brain as well (however many fallacies inherent), but the reason why I title this post the way I have is because…well…because it would mentally take a perfect-10 triple-backflip with a stuck dismount to somehow reconcile this phrase with the now de-facto notion* that another attack on the US would be beneficial to the side that has spouted it with such confidence.

I mean, how in the hell can both the lack of attacks and an attack be a political advantage? 

*just see the comments section of that Hot Air post

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Milestones In The Long Journey Back To The Line Of Scrimmage

May 24, 2008

Great news!  That rag-tag band of terrorists that didn’t exist until we invaded Iraq may have finally been defeated.  Of course, we’ve seen these “al Qaeda in Iraq is on the run” flashes before, but I’m still gonna give the h/t to Hot Air ’cause, well, maybe because I don’t remember ever posting about it. 

Anyway…

The battle against the people a little closer to those who actually attacked us is ongoing:  Taliban Attacks Spike in Afghanistan 

 

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Goodbye Rudy, Tuesday

January 29, 2008

Well, the Florida results are in, and Rudy’s out

The question that is undoubtedly on many people’s minds:  What the heck happened to Giuliani?  I think we’ve just witnessed a campaign roll off a hill, and I’m not quite sure what caused it.  According to most polls, Rudy was the frontrunner for most of 2007, and as late as early December still had double-digit leads over most of the other candidates, including John McCain. 

1/15-17/08 12/3-5/07 11/5-7/07
% % %  
John McCain

22

13

13

 
Mike Huckabee

16

18

10

 
Mitt Romney

16

12

12

 
Rudy Giuliani

14

26

29

 
Fred Thompson

9

11

19

 
Ron Paul

4

3

n/a

 
Other (vol.)

1

1

2

 
None (vol.)

8

7

7

 
Unsure

10

9

8

 
Newt Gingrich

n/a

n/a

n/a

 
Sam Brownback

n/a

n/a

n/a

Was it “World Wavered, History Hesitated“, or did people simply forget about 9/11?  ‘Cause he was there on 9/11.

9/11.

He was there, and he didn’t waver, remember?

Oh  what the heck, one more time… for Rudy…

9/11.

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Why Obama, Part III: Foreign Policy

January 28, 2008

For the third installment of the Chamber’s Why Obama series, I’ve picked the foreign policy issue.  The same format applies; this is right from the Obama website.   However, in the spirit of addressing a topic that arose in the comment section of Part II, I’m going to start off with a narrower focus.  For this thread, I’m going to paste a section of an Obama speech on his ideas for restoring American leadership.  (All other aspects of Obama’s foreign policy positions and statements are fair game in this discussion and can be found here, but I’ve decided to start with this particular component).  From the 4/23/07 speech:

The horrific attacks on that clear September day awakened us to this new reality. And after 9/11, millions around the world were ready to stand with us. They were willing to rally to our cause because it was their cause too – because they knew that if America led the world toward a new era of global cooperation, it would advance the security of people in our nation and all nations.

We now know how badly this Administration squandered that opportunity. In 2002, I stated my opposition to the war in Iraq, not only because it was an unnecessary diversion from the struggle against the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th, but also because it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the threats that 9/11 brought to light. I believed then, and believe now, that it was based on old ideologies and outdated strategies – a determination to fight a 21st century struggle with a 20th century mindset.obama08_thumblogo100.gif

There is no doubt that the mistakes of the past six years have made our current task more difficult. World opinion has turned against us. And after all the lives lost and the billions of dollars spent, many Americans may find it tempting to turn inward, and cede our claim of leadership in world affairs.

I insist, however, that such an abandonment of our leadership is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission – we must lead the world, by deed and example.

We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people. We must lead by marshalling a global effort to stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. We must lead by building and strengthening the partnerships and alliances necessary to meet our common challenges and defeat our common threats.

And America must lead by reaching out to all those living disconnected lives of despair in the world’s forgotten corners – because while there will always be those who succumb to hate and strap bombs to their bodies, there are millions more who want to take another path – who want our beacon of hope to shine its light their way.

This election offers us the chance to turn the page and open a new chapter in American leadership. The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us. We must meet those expectations again, not because being respected is an end in itself, but because the security of America and the wider world demands it.

This will require a new spirit – not of bluster and bombast, but of quiet confidence and sober intelligence, a spirit of care and renewed competence. It will also require a new leader. And as a candidate for President of the United States, I am asking you to entrust me with that responsibility.

Obama goes on to propose five ways this can be accomplished, but in the interests of brevity, and to start the discussion, I’m going to address the small portion I bolded above.  There may be those out there who feel that our position hasn’t really changed, and the idea that Bush has made the U.S. is less popular globally is a myth and a concoction of the MSM.  I suppose if we’re going to address “restoring” something, we should probably get this right out of the way first.  So, to support Obama’s contention, I’m going to start with a single graphic:

osamabushkim.jpg

Poll:

· ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,010 adults by telephone from October 27-30. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Polling was by phone in Canada (sample 1,007), Israel (1,078) and Mexico (1,010)

In other words, its not just the Mayans. From Italy to India, from Thailand to Turkey, from Germany to Greece, there’s a pretty consistent message going out.  We could use some help in this category, to say the least.  There’s a reason why international interest in who will replace Bush has reached unprecedented levels.  I’m glad that Obama speaks honestly and frankly about it, and I think he’s got the best ideas for turning this around. 

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Why Obama, Part II: Homeland Security

January 26, 2008

For the second installment of the Chamber’s Why Obama series, I’ve picked the homeland security issue.  The same format applies; this is right from the Obama website:

Obama homeland security fact sheet (pdf)

The Problem

Five years after 9/11, our country is still unprepared for a terrorist attack. From improving security for our transit systems and chemical plants, to increasing cargo screening in our airports and seaports, the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been underfunded and ignored. The 9/11 Commission gave the government five F’s and 12 D’s on the implementation of its recommendations. Senator Obama is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and has supported efforts to base homeland security spending on risk rather than pork-barrel politics. He has also introduced legislation to strengthen chemical plant and drinking water security and to enhance disaster preparedness.

Barack Obama’s Plan

Protecting Our Chemical Plants

Chemical plants are attractive terrorist targets because they are often located near cities, are relatively easy to attack, and contain multi-ton quantities of hazardous chemicals. While a number of plants have taken voluntary steps to improve security, there are still major gaps; and the federal government has never established meaningful, permanent security regulations. Senator Obama worked with Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to introduce comprehensive chemical plant security legislation that would establish a clear set of federal regulations that all plants must follow. The bill requires chemical facilities to enhance security, including improving barriers, containment, mitigation, and safety training, and, where possible, using safer technology, such as less toxic chemicalsobama08_thumblogo100.gif

Keeping Track of Spent Nuclear Fuel

The nation has 103 operating nuclear power plants which annually produce over 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel that remains highly radioactive for many years. A report by the Government Accountability Office found inadequate tracking and security for spent nuclear fuel rods. Nuclear plants in Connecticut, Vermont and California have reported missing spent fuel in the last five years. Senator Obama introduced legislation to establish guidelines for tracking, controlling, and accounting for spent fuel at nuclear power plants.

Evacuating Special Needs Population in Emergencies

One of the most devastating aspects of Hurricane Katrina is that most of the stranded victims were society’s most vulnerable members – low-income families, the elderly, the homeless, and disabled Americans. Too many states and cities do not have adequate plans in place to care for special-needs populations. Senator Obama introduced and passed legislation to require mandatory planning for evacuating people with special needs.

Reuniting Families After Emergencies

After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people struggled to contact family and friends following evacuation. Evacuees were forced to comb through dozens of databases in an effort to reconnect with loved ones. Senator Obama introduced and passed legislation to create a centralized, federal database to allow individuals displaced by an emergency to call one phone number or go to one website and post their location and condition. Family members and law enforcement officials would be able to use this same secure, centralized system to check the status of missing loved ones.

Keeping Our Drinking Water Safe

There are almost 170,000 public water systems in the United States. An attack on a drinking water system could contaminate or disrupt water service, thereby disrupting society, impacting human health and compromising critical activities such as fire protection. Senator Obama introduced legislation to provide $37.5 million over 5 years for drinking water systems to upgrade their monitoring and security efforts.

Protecting the Public from Radioactive Releases

Following reports that nuclear power plants in Illinois did not promptly notify local communities that tritium – a byproduct of nuclear generation – had leaked into the groundwater, Senator Obama introduced legislation to require nuclear plants to inform state and local officials if there is an unintentional leak of a radioactive substance. Chronic exposure to high levels of tritium can increase the risk of cancer, birth defects and genetic damage.

Barack Obama’s Record

There have been tritium leaks at other nuclear plants, though none so extensive as at Braidwood. The uproar over Braidwood prompted the Nuclear Energy Institute to outline a voluntary policy for monitoring tritium leaks and reporting such incidents. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has vowed to continue to push for federal legislation that requires reporting. “The nuclear industry already had a voluntary policy, and it hasn’t worked,” he said. Exelon’s past actions have helped to prove his point.

— Chicago Tribune, Editorial, May 25, 2006

We could kill a hundred thousand men in the deserts of the Middle East, and it still wouldn’t change the fact that a single terrorist cell here in the U.S. could strike at any number of our vulnerabilities.  Needless to say, I’ve long argued that the “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” rhetoric lies in the domain of two-dimensional thinking (not to mention a desperate attempt at retrograde justification for the Iraq debacle).  I was glad to see that Obama’s plan addresses many of the gaps in our security (outlined in the pdf), including the need for the screening of all inbound cargo at our ports.  I’ve never really understood the logic behind spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fund an ongoing occupation in Iraq while basic steps to “terror proof” our homeland have been largely ignored.   Obama and I are also on the same page in recognising that while intelligence is vital to preventing terrorist attacks, we cannot allow fear to drive us to sacrifice the civil liberties that defines our country. 

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World Wavers, History Hesitates

January 18, 2008

Make sense?  No? 

Well, according to Rudy Giuliani’s campaign, it should.  Add in the “movie guy” voice-over, along with images from 9/11, and it is intended to resonate, I guess.  Why else would he put this new TV ad on the front page of his site?

“When the world wavered, and history hesitated, Rudy never did.”

What’s going on here?  Is Rudy’s campaign suffering from the writers strike or something?  I mean, if you’re going to (once again) exploit 9/11 for the purposes of bolstering your floundering campaign, one would hope that anyone with better than a elementary level education should be able to come up with a better line than “history hesitated”.   Good grief.

“History hesitated”.  This is going to bug me all day now.  Oh well.  Perhaps, years form now, it might make a good crossword puzzle entry:

Down

44.  history hesitated, he didn’t

44R

U

D

Y

(h/t TPMelectioncentral)

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Sometimes, “Cowardly” Isn’t The Best Antonym For “Heroic”

December 27, 2007

There is reaction all over the blogosphere to the news that Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today, but I thought I’d comment on what George Bush said this morning.  Specifically, this part:

The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy. Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.

I could have sworn that the Bush’s use of the phase “cowardly act” sounded familiar.  Indeed, Bush used it after the terrorist attacks of 9/11:

Make no mistake: The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.

Researching further, one finds that Bush has a penchant for using the adverb “cowardly” to describe a suicide bombing whenever the need to condemn it arises, whether it happened in Jerusalem, Jordan, Bali, or Lebanon

I don’t know about you readers out there, but when I think of someone giving their life for a cause, “cowardly” isn’t the first word that comes to mind (regardless if innocents are killed).  It certainly isn’t what I thought when 9/11 happened.  In fact, I remember finding myself on a level of agreement with Bill Maher when he infamously said this:

“We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away: That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”

Say what you want about it…but it is hard to describe the lobbing of cruise missiles as “brave” or “heroic”, that much I know, but to call it something else doesn’t mean you abhor the act, does it?  

Must all acts of war have a courage meter?  After all, the most important aspect of any particular method of warfare is its effectiveness from a tactical perspective.  Somewhere along the lines, American troops abandoned bright red coats, drums, and marching straight into lead volleys, eventually switching to camouflage, silence, and taking cover.  If George Washington were alive today, how would he describe an attack via cruise missile?  I’m not sure it makes sense to go down this road. 

Surely, there is a more accurate and descriptive adverb that one can attach to acts that falls far short of connotations of respect.  “Foul”, “despicable”, and “contemptible” would be perfectly acceptable.  So why “cowardly”?   Over at Slate, Tim Noah pondered the same thing after 9/11 (also citing Clinton’s and Reagan’s use of the word), and I think he nailed it:

In truth, notions of “cowardice” and “bravery” are entirely irrelevant when we contemplate the horrors of terrorism. To call a terrorist “cowardly” is to substitute testosterone for morality. Somehow it isn’t enough to abhor an act of terrorism or even to promise to make the terrorist pay dearly. The rules demand that the terrorist be branded a sissy. This is not only a childish reflex, but one that weakens the moral force of the condemnation and thereby dishonors terrorism’s victims. After all, we don’t want brave people to slaughter innocent people any more than we want cowardly people to do so. Still, the public seems to demand that our presidents call terrorists cowards, and our presidents are too–well, cowardly–to deny them. (h/t Paul Krugman)

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What Is It With Terrorism And Shopping Malls?

November 12, 2007

I imagine that just about every American who watched the events of September 11, 2001 has, at some point, envisioned other nightmarish scenarios that could plausibly come to pass.  It would be natural to wonder what else the dark side of humanity is capable of after something like that.  Certainly the prospect of terrorists armed with WMD’s was beaten into our collective psyche in the run-up to the Iraq war, and I’m guessing that visions of catastrophe have run the span of imagination and beyond.

In light of the upcoming Holiday season, I wonder… So why in the heck does the attack at a shopping mall keep coming up?  If the active ingredient in terrorism is fear, is this scenario really that scary?   To highlight what I mean, consider the following:

-(CBS/AP) A Somali native living in Ohio has been charged with plotting with other al Qaeda operatives to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. (June 14, 2004)

-A Chicago-area man has been charged in an alleged plot to attack a local mall and government buildings. (Dec. 8, 2006)

-Jack (Bauer) goes undercover when the terrorists try to release a canister at the Sunrise Hills shopping mall, and Jack stops the attempt against the orders of the President. (Day 5)

-”The questions in this round will be premised on a fictional, but we think plausible scenario involving terrorism and the response to it. Here is the premise: Three shopping centers near major U.S. cities have been hit by suicide bombers. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured. A fourth attack has been averted when the attackers were captured off the Florida coast and taken to Guantanamo Bay, where they are being questioned. U.S. intelligence believes that another larger attack is planned and could come at any time.” (Brit Hume, May 15, 2007 Republican Presidential Debate in South Carolina)

-”To walk out of Iraq right now would plant a seed that ultimately would lead to destabilization there, hundreds of thousands of deaths, loss of our influence in the region, would create instability throughout the Middle East throughout East Asia, throughout Europe. And sooner or later it would come to our shores, to a shopping mall near you.” (Tony Snow July 12, 2007)

-”The FBI is warning that al Qaeda may be preparing a series of holiday attacks on U.S. shopping malls in Los Angeles and Chicago, according to an intelligence report distributed to law enforcement authorities across the country this morning.” (November 08, 2007

-”Tom Tancredo’s new ad, set to run in Iowa — if any stations will accept it, that is — is a true original. The ad depicts the dire consequences of our open borders through a dramatization of a fictitious terrorist attack in the middle of a shopping mall. Furthermore, it even ends with the sound of an explosion!” (Today, h/t TPM):

Tip of the iceberg, as they say, as that was just a few examples.  For a little perspective, however… U.S. Shopping Malls: Unlikely al Qaeda Targets

A terrorist attack against a shopping center in the United States has the potential to cause panic among the public and damage the economy at a time when retail stores expect large numbers of holiday shoppers. In terms of the number of victims, a truly devastating attack would require coordination at several locations. Even then, such an attack is unlikely to produce a high number of casualties, as previous attacks overseas have demonstrated. A suicide bombing in May at a mall in Ankara, Turkey, for instance, resulted in six deaths, while a car bomb outside a busy shopping center in Beirut, Lebanon, killed one person.

And yet, there appears to be no shortage of fear going around over it.  But why shopping malls, and not, say, a high school football game?  To disrupt the economy, especially during the holidays?  I’m going to propose that if this ever were to happen, the patriotic thing to do would be to run to your local mall and buy something. If the active ingredient in terrorism is fear, it’s easy to fight.  All you have to do is chose not to be afraid.

 mallgoers.jpg
Home of the Brave

And for the record, according to one source, the odds of dying as a result of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil is about 80,000 to one, which is about the same odds as dying as a result of being struck by lightning.  So be careful out there.

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My 1½ Years At LGF, Part II: Israel/Palestine Conflict and Antisemitism

October 18, 2007

It’s widely known that 9/11 was the catalyst for LGF’s transformation from a weblog discussing web design and bicycling to what it is today.  Now, I can understand how the reality of the attacks might change someone’s outlook on certain things, like domestic intelligence gathering, foreign intervention and espionage. What I’ve never fully understood, however, was the radical shift in attitude with regards to Israel.  As evidence of the change, take a look at this pre-9/11 LGF entry (which, incidentally, pretty much echos my own sentiments):

9/1/01

I don’t like to write about the Middle East. I don’t even like to think about it. It’s a dismaying quagmire of blind religious hatred and irrational Dark Ages thinking on all sides, impervious to logic or reason, perhaps the greatest imponderable stupidity in humankind’s history. I give a slight moral advantage to the Israelis because at least they aren’t exporting terrorism and the slaughter of innocents, as many of the Islamic countries in the area routinely do. They’ll probably all kill themselves one day in a nuclear confrontation. (How’s that for optimism?) I just hope they don’t take the rest of the world down with them. This article in the New York Times is the latest example of the terminal sickness that afflicts the whole region: Palestinians Give U.N. Racism Talks a Mixed Message.

Somewhere along the lines, this relative indifference was abandoned, and replaced by a very passionate, pro-Israel view.  It apparently didn’t take that long, made clear by the appearance of Nekama’s Troll Hammer (and subsequent enshrinement) in 2003 and by the fact that Mr. Johnson was being perceived as a “Righteous Gentile” by the Israel National News as early as April 2004.  By the time I joined the site, accusations of antisemitism fired at anyone who was perceived as saying or reporting anything even remotely critical of Israel were pretty commonplace. (I had even been labeled as such by commentors on a few occasions, one of them for simply saying the word “neocon”.)  For more objective media reports that portrayed Israel as less than infallible, efforts were made to challenge those accounts as simply “biased”. And every so often, something would come across the proverbial desk that seemed impossible for anyone with a sliver of intellectual honesty to refute.  It would have to be something simple, like a single photograph. In those situations…they punted:

palmissilelgf.jpg

So, what sparked this metamorphosis?  Was it the videos of Palestinians celebrating 9/11?   Reading up on the history and culture of the region?  The urge to poke the Jihadis in the eye with pro-Zionist propaganda?  All of the above?

In fairness, I suppose I would be equally curious about someone who shifted from neutral to an anti-Israel stance in the wake of 9/11.  I really don’t get it.  It’s the same country in the same messed up part of the world that existed both before and after the attacks.

Exit question: Is being critical of Israel (specific actions, policies, historical events, etc.) automatically make you an antisemite? Scratch that. How about just plain indifference?

Tomorrow’s topic:

Gaping Disconnect on the Iraq War

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My 1½ Years At LGF, Part I: Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

October 17, 2007

It’s no secret that LGF takes heat from both the media and bloggers alike for their constant diatribe about all things Islamic.  Since I didn’t come into the site knowing what it was all about, I’ll admit that I was pretty surprised by it. Initially, I figured that it was irrational fear borne in the ashes of the September 11th attacks.  I wasn’t really offended by all the Muslim bashing that went on in the comments section (I’m not offended easily), and I certainly didn’t go into the site with the intention of “defending” Islam, so while I was there I rarely offered up an opinion on those threads.  I do know (now) that it was, for the most part, the reason why many referred to LGF as a “hate site” (a label that Charles and the rest of the lizards predictably took issue with), and the usual comeback offered up in the comments section went something like “Well, if that means hating those who want to convert you to Islam, kill you, force you into slavery, chop off your head, etc., then, yea, this is a hate site”.

The most glaring problem with this argument is the fact that there are a fair amount of threads about Arabs and Muslims that have nothing to do with terrorism, a worldwide caliphate, or even “sudden jihadi syndrome”.  One thread I recall, Pigophobia in the UAE, clearly had no other point other than amusing the lizard minions with a story about Muslim’s aversion to swine.  The aforementioned comeback loses quite a bit of credibility when you see this kind of thing.  (the defense is also slightly hampered by the fact that LGF has it’s own dictionary of terms, many of them disparaging and originating on the site)

To his credit, you’d be very hard pressed to find anything that Charles himself posts in any given thread that someone might view as blatantly bigoted.  But on the other hand, there are plenty of regular commentors who don’t parse their words nearly as carefully, and the same could be said about many on the list of featured “anti-idiotarians” in the blogroll.  Intentionally or not, the result of all this is a place that attracts the type of people who are looking for affirmation of their own anti-Muslim prejudices, and the comments often reflect that.

This brings me back to the “Pigophobia” thread, where after quite a few comments that had to be deleted, Charles responded:

A note: I am absolutely fed up with posts that advocate rounding up all Muslims and/or illegal aliens and putting them in camps, or that use bigoted language. I do not agree with this kind of crap, it drags the site down, and those comments are not welcome here.

I’m not going to take the heat for it any more — I’m simply going to start blocking people who do it.

Should the appearance of bigoted comments in a thread with “Pigophobia” in the title be that surprising?  I mean, come on.

When confronted, the LGFers would have you believe that the overall mission is to spread the word about the dangers of radical Islam in an effort to make a contribution to the greater “War on Terror”.  They’ll tell you that those who belittle the threat are choosing to be willfully ignorant, have their head in the sand, or fall for the false virtue of political correctness.  For what it’s worth, I think that they really do believe that their efforts are noble, and in the interest of “saving the world“.  To me, however, the site tends to read more like a scavenger hunt for tales of Muslims doing bad things than a place that makes a legitimate effort to combat Islamic terrorism.  It’s not like they’re pouring over pro-al Qaeda websites with translators looking to uncover details on plots and strategy, after all.  Instead, the posts appear to be an attempt to build the argument that Islam itelf is the underlying problem (and the real enemy).  And as well-intentioned as they might consider themselves to be, there is a real counterproductivity with this.  The notion (however vaguely interpreted) that the West is at war with Islam is propaganda that al Qaeda has been spreading.  Even George Bush recognizes that this is a road that we don’t want to take:

“My country desires peace,” Bush told world leaders in the cavernous main hall at the U.N. “Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror. We respect Islam.”

In conclusion, I sit back and wonder sometimes if the rantings of the “anti-idiotarians” really are just contributing to the problem, and not part of the solution.

Tomorrow’s topic:

Israel/Palestine Conflict and Antisemitism

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Oh Noes! Not A Green Empire State Building!

October 13, 2007

Tonight I’ve decided to comment on what I consider to be the silliest story on memeorandum at the moment:  Sharia By The Inch

Islamofascism: In a monumental nod to political correctness, the Empire State Building is to be lit up green in honor of the Muslim holiday Eid. The separation of Islam from terror is officially complete.

Six years ago, Islamic terrorists screamed “Allah is Greatest!” as they slammed fuel-laden jumbo jets into two other New York skyscrapers. Six years ago, New Yorkers were worried about the Green Menace.

Now, for the first time, New York’s remaining famous skyscraper will be aglow in green — the color of Islam — to mark the end of Ramadan, a month of intense Islamic renewal. Officials say it’ll be an annual event, in the same tradition of the yearly skyscraper lighting for Christmas and Hanukkah.

You heard it here folks.  The Empire State Building is ….GREEN!

green-lantern.jpg

Victory for the Green Menace!  We’ve subjected ourselves to yearly dhimmitude!  How dare we recognize a holiday in a religion that happens to be the same religion as terrorists that knocked down the WTC!  Remember, they were Muslim!  Green! 9/11! Muslim! Green!  9/11! Aaarrrggghhh!!!

*sigh*

Sorry about the lame wingnut impersonation.  Sadly, however, I’m not too far off:

…and so on, and so forth

The problem, the way I see it, is that we weren’t attacked by Islam on 9/11.  We were attacked by al Qaeda, whose flag happens to look like the Arabic version of pirate colors:

qaeda-flag.jpg vs pirate-flag.jpg

Heck, they even took over the planes like a bunch of pirates:

roberts2.jpg

Anyway, there’s just something irrational about all this.  The Empire State Building gets lit up for all kinds of holidays.  You can’t hold all the Muslims in America accountable for the 9/11 attacks.   And, yes, some of your fellow Americans happen to be Muslim, and the vast, vast majority of them haven’t blown anything up.

Get a freakin grip people.

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