29 December, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

It's the Monday after a long holiday weekend.  Let the tidal wave of stupidity be unleashed.  Grab your life preservers, my darlings, and let's get swimming.

Of course, the big news over the weekend was the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight.  On a brief side note before we get to the stoopid, al Qaeda might want to take note of the fact that Americans on airplanes tend to tackle terrorists before they can cause much mayhem.  As far as striking terror into the hearts and minds of anyone aside from timid Cons, having a terrorist neuter himself on a jet just kind of doesn't seem like something you all should be claiming credit for.  It's embarrassing.

But not quite as embarrassing as the Con response.  For instance, there are those Cons screaming for Janet Napolitano's head because they can't understand sentences of more than five words.  Yes, indeedy, she did say "the system worked."  She said that when she was talking about the response to the attempted attack.  I know Cons love a quote mine almost as much as DIsco does, but this is ridiculous.

Then there's the freakout over the fact that Abdulmutallab wasn't put on a no-fly list despite the fact his father alerted U.S. officials that his son was becoming a religious extremist.  Cons seem to think the vague concerns of a dad equal solid, actionable intelligence.  Let's dispatch that hysteria right now:
But it's worth appreciating the larger context, and understanding why the warnings didn't prompt immediate, wide-reaching action.
When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's father in Nigeria reported concern over his son's "radicalization" to the U.S. Embassy there last month, intelligence officials in the United States deemed the information insufficient to pursue. The young man's name was added to the half-million entries in a computer database in McLean and largely forgotten.
The lack of attention was not unusual, according to U.S. intelligence officials, who said that thousands of similar bits of information flow into the National Counterterrorism Center each week from around the world. Only those that indicate a specific threat, or add to an existing body of knowledge about an individual, are passed along for further investigation and possible posting on airline and border watch lists.
"It's got to be something that causes the information to sort of rise out of the noise level, because there is just so much out there," one intelligence official said.
The report entered on Abdulmutallab, 23, after his father's Nov. 19 visit to the embassy was "very, very thin, with minimal information," said a second U.S. official familiar with its contents.
We're dealing with a situation in which Abdulmutallab's father, justifiably concerned, felt like his son might become dangerous. He didn't have any information about a specific plot, but he wanted the authorities to be aware of the potential problem. U.S. officials added Abdulmutallab's name to a list -- a rather long list.

And therein lies the point. U.S. officials learn about all kinds of potentially dangerous people, all over the globe, every day. Most of these people have never committed an act of terrorism, and never will. A tiny fraction will consider violence, a tiny fraction of them will actually attempt mass murder. It's literally impossible to launch investigations into every one of them. It's not that officials "had real details about an Islamic maniac and did nothing about it"; it's that officials had vague details and lacked the capacity and wherewithal to take immediate action.
Let's say we had the resources to investigate all 500,000 names on that "mebbe" list.  I'll bet good money that we'll find that a good number of those folks got put there because of an angry ex-lover wanting to cause trouble.  More will be there because some paranoid assclown freaked out over the fact that their neighbor speaks Arabic and goes to the mosque.  Quite a few more will be on the list because they have a similar name to someone else who might be a terrorist.  Some folks will be on it because their name's misspelled.  More folks will be there because they're attention-seeking morons who like to shock friends and family with outrageous claims.  Some will be mentally ill folks incapable of tying their shoes, much less working for al Qaeda, and in another day and age would be running around claiming to be Jesus.  And a bare handful will, like Abdulmutallab, be al Qaeda patsies who really do want to commit terrorist acts but can't figure out how to detonate a bomb without burning off their own balls.

The ones who are credible, verifiable threats, along with quite a few people who don't belong there but end up sanctioned because everybody's paranoid, are on the no-fly list.  That's how these things work.  You cast a net, sweep up most of the fish, and always find you've got unintentional dolphins in the net and one or two tuna merrily swimming away.  And no one, not the military, not law enforcement, not Homeland Security, has the resources to investigate every vague claim that the finned creature gliding through the water is actually the tuna you missed.

Sorry for the terrible metaphor, but stupid claims deserve painful metaphors in turn.

So, now that it's obvious the system won't bar every man with a worried father from getting on airplanes, what do the Cons want to do?  Why, profile all the dirty A-rabs!
In the wake of the failed terrorist attempt aboard a Northwest airlines flight on Christmas Day, the right wing is renewing its pleas for more profiling of Muslims:
Radio host Mike Gallagher: “There should be a separate line to scrutinize anybody with the name Abdul or Ahmed or Mohammed.(Note: Those are some of the most common names in the world.)
Rep. Peter King (R-NY): “100 percent of the Islamic terrorists are Muslim, and that is our main enemy today. So why we should not be profiling people because of their religion?

Wow, that'll be really helpful!  That'll catch all the terrorists!  They can never get around that security measure - unless, of course, they fly under the name John Smith and wear a cross.

On Faux News, Mike Gallagher was even more helpful, suggesting we should "scrutinize young Middle Eastern men to stop this."  As C&L's Dave Neiwert pointed out, there's a problem with this idea:  "Nigeria is not in 'the Middle East,' and the suspect in this case was not 'Middle Eastern' -- he was African." 

So much for Cons' plans to protect us all.

Joe Lieberman, of course, is jumping past increased security and contemplating war with Yemen instead.  I can't believe this assclown caucuses with the Dems. 

Meanwhile, Steve Benen wants to know where the right-wing freakout over a terrorist being held on American soil and charged in American courts is.  Spencer Ackerman asked Crazy Pete Hoekstra that very same question, and all he got was this lousy fundraising email:
When I asked earlier today where the outrage was from Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) over the fact that his worst nightmare — the imprisonment of terrorists in civilian Michigan prisons — had come to pass with the detention of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, I had no idea that he’d send out a fundraising email for his gubernatorial campaign based on his myopia. It’s such a cartoon it might as well have come with anime drawings of dragons and robots in the margins.

They just don’t get it. The system didn’t “work” here. Far from it! It is insulting that The Obama administration would make such a claim, but then again, these are the same weak-kneed liberals who have recently tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists right here to Michigan! … I have pledged that I will do “everything possible” to prevent these terrorists from coming to Michigan.
Hey congressman! The guy who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253? He is in prison — right there in Michigan! He has been! For days! Has Michigan exploded yet? No? Well, what might that mean for your contention? You know, the one that you’re asking supporters to fund?
If you agree that we need a Governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign.
He might even use it to purchase a clue.
Purchasing a clue does one no good if one doesn't invest in a brain first, so I'd suggest to crazy Pete that a good set of gray matter be first on his shopping list.

In other stupid news.... Conservadems, having failed to defeat health care reform, are now setting their sights on defeating the cap-and-trade bill.  If they can't have Americans dying from uninsured illnesses, I guess they'll settle for a slower death by global warming.

Conservadems don't really belong in the Democratic party at all - not with their Con tendencies - but don't expect many of them to make the same switch Griffith did.  He's not exactly feeling the love from his new party.

But enough about Conservadems, let's get back to Cons - mostly because the Conservadems haven't yet perfected weapons-grade stupidity of the Cons' caliber.  And there's a love story to be told - the love of Pete Sessions for crook and contributor Allen Stanford:

Now that's loyalty.

When a top supporter gets busted by the Feds for allegedly running a massive Ponzi scheme, most big-time pols are usually pretty quick to distance themselves. (See Crist, Charlie, for the locus classicus of the genre).

Not Pete Sessions though. Hours after Allen Stanford was charged by the SEC for swindling investors out of around $7 billion, the Texas congressman, and chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, sent the following email, signed "Pete":

I love you and believe in you...If you want my ear/voice -- e-mail.
Aww, isn't that sweet?

Pete's attempt at excusing himself is very nearly as weak as Mark Sanford's lousy excuses.  Wuv, twue wuv, Con style!

For those who've missed the Cons' old stimulus stupidity, here's a good roundup of the recent idiocy. They're awfully fond of that cash that supposedly isn't doing a damned bit of good.

And, from the department of not surprised comes this not-surprising news:
The political action committee behind the Tea Party Express (TPE) -- which already has been slammed as inauthentic and corporate-controlled by rival factions in the Tea Party movement -- directed around two thirds of its spending during a recent reporting period back to the Republican consulting firm that created the PAC in the first place.

Our Country Deserves Better (OCDB) spent around $1.33 million from July through November, according to FEC filings examined by TPMmuckraker. Of that sum, a total of $870,489 went to Sacramento-based GOP political consulting firm Russo, Marsh, and Associates, or people associated with it.

Grassroots GOP style.  Gotta love it.

And now, I'm going to leave the water and go sunbathe.  I'm afraid getting this soaked by stupidity has left my toes a little pruney.

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