Vigil for Malala 2012 courtesy of AsiaNews.it

War Crimes: prosecute or the terrorists win

Vigil for Malala 2012 courtesy of AsiaNews.it

Vigil for Malala 2012 courtesy of AsiaNews.it

Killing children is the new scare tactic. The Taliban of Pakistan have resorted to killing children. It’s like September 11, 2001 except only a weak echo. The death toll is 1/20th, and the fear factor is slightly less in light of current events.

It’s terrorism. It’s fear. It’s only fear. The thing that the terrorists hate most about us is that we are still not afraid. They cannot break us. We know the law, letter and spirit, and we believe in the spirit. If you know the law, no one can use it against you. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Taxation

Aren’t crippling sanctions and regime change what we seek against enemies?

A wild GOP appears!

Seriously. If one searches on the terms effect of crippling sanctions, one finds over 800,000 results at Google. A quick review of the first great many confirms, at the very least, that Iran, an enemy (so-called), is the primary subject. Debate rages as to whether sanctions are effective for accomplishing their intended goals, but there seems to be a fair amount of detailed information that they are certainly effective at damaging the enemy’s middle class.

This just in! Partisan radicals have stormed buildings nationwide and are holding hostages at gunpoint. If their demands are not met, they will kill as many hostages as they need to until the Obama administration backs down on the Affordable Care Act.

Here we are, the 21st Century barely warming up, and a select band of partisan radicals famous for co-opting an unholy trinity of political party, fake philosophy, and extremist religion are proposing just such crippling sanctions that would certainly do more to harm the middle class than they would to meet stated objectives. The problem is, those partisans are right here in America, the regime they seek to change is our own, and the net result is that they are treating America as the enemy.

Terrorism is the application of violence or threat of violence to attain political goals. Repeal of the ACA is the obstructionist GOP contingent’s stated political goal. That the threat of government shutdown almost certainly results in the death of greater than 0% of those affected is, of necessity, a threat of violence in the same way that this particular politically partisan contingent construes taxation to be violence. Ergo, GOP obstructionist radicals are, like Al Nusra Front, terrorists actively engaged not only in threats of violence against the American people for their political goals, but in the undermining of national security. Adding insult to injury, their assault on the American people won’t even accomplish their goal if they start executing hostages.

Taxation as theft

Mr. Boehner said the dispute with Democrats amounted to a question of “how much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government.” 

Clearly, we are dealing with folks that believe that the apparently non-violent is, by extension, actually violence. For them, the abstract is concrete. I believe I fairly make their case when I put it thusly:

The government sends you a polite letter notifying you that taxes are due and payable. You send a polite letter back indicating that you will not relinquish your funds upon their polite request. The government proceeds to shuffle about other seemingly polite pieces of paper such that you are required to appear in court. Not wishing to appear ungracious, you make your appearance. The judge informs you, ever so politely, that payment is not optional. It is mandatory. You politely decline. The government proceeds to shuffle about more seemingly polite pieces of paper. At some point, gentlemen armed with guns and authority arrive at your home or place of employment, presenting polite pieces of paper indicating seizure of a variety of your assets. Followed through to its logical fruition, the peaceful and noncompliant citizen is eventually faced with drawn weapons. Violence!

Terrorism

The use of violence or the threat of violence, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political goals.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

Simplified rendering of the latest GOP legislative tactic: Repeal Obamacare (political goal) or we will shut down the government.

See what you made us do?

Fox News: Capitol Hill report warns shutdown could pose risks to national security

“We had victory today,” House Speaker John Boehner said after the vote. “The House has listened to the American people. Now it’s time for the U.S. Senate to listen.”

Yes, because taking America hostage and issuing a credible threat of indiscrimate death to achieve your political goals is a victory.  Added bonus, you actually jeopardize American national security.  We see what you did there.

With that bit of preamble out of the way, let’s take a look at a slice of America as an example of the potential effects of a government shutdown, shall we?

America Under Siege

What a government shutdown would look like in Nevada

The current threats, however, may be more plausible than earlier occasions when Congress sounded an alarm. For the first time, there’s a solid faction of the Republican Party openly angling for a shutdown and for lawmakers to vote to prove how much they really hate Obamacare.

And it’s not like Democrats are about to wave a white flag in surrender just days before the health care exchanges are scheduled for their national debut.

So if a government shutdown is on the horizon, what would it look like for Nevada? Here’s a list of what and where to expect the local effects.

For the sake of simplicity, however illusory, let’s assume that while the numbers presented in the Sun’s article will differ from region to region, the effect of a government shutdown as experienced elsewhere in the country will essentially mirror the effect in Nevada.

Number, numbers everywhere, and not a drop of blood to drink. Pity that, because we only seem to understand blood. Allow me to reframe issue a touch. We’re not just dealing with clowns in clown cars here. We’re dealing with clowns like this:

I’ve got your number, and it’s sweet and gooey!

Hold on, what? Blood? Clowns? Bloodthirsty clowns? What the hell?

Simple. Numbers are the crunchy outside. Blood is what makes numbers gooey in the middle.  These clownish bloodthirsty freaks holding America hostage talk numbers, numbers without calling attention to the fact that it’s actual American blood they’ll gladly spill in pursuit of their agenda.  Hell, even if they actually believe that they’re preventing a greater harm, Obamacare, with its fictitious death panels, that’s just not going to wash.  Destroying the village to save it wasn’t good enough for My Lai.  It’s not good enough for us here.  And it doesn’t change the fact that threatening violence in pursuit of a political goal is a form of terrorism.

This is one arena where GOP & Co. have Team Blue at a severe disadvantage. These clown-headed redshirts (therein lies our sole cause for optimism where they are concerned) are content to use their croupier’s rakes to push little plastic political soldiers around on maps and to hell with the short-term consequences, except when that means they get to gorge on blood-filled numbers that fall out of their cracked and broken toys. It makes great political theater, after all. Pass the popcorn!

Team Blue, on the other hand (provided I leave my cynicism at the door for a moment), positions itself as those who see those little plastic figures as representing very real people, so short-term consequences are as important as the long ones. If the Blues can’t outnumber these Clown Patrol at the polls in deep red territory, at some point Team Blue needs to be willing to make the painful sacrifices necessary to meet bloodthirsty clowns in the abstract.

“Hyperbole!” you say. “Hogwash,” I reply.

For that matter, at the end of this post, I suggest how to concretely drub them about the head and shoulders with their own abstractions.  Far be if from me to show up with a bucket of bitching and not have a solution to offer.

A Dash of Legalese

“But for” – In the law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held to be the cause of that injury. There are two types of causation in the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate (or legal) cause. Cause-in-fact is determined by the “but for” test: But for the action, the result would not have happened. For example, but for running the red light, the collision would not have occurred. For an act to cause a harm, both tests must be met; proximate cause is a legal limitation on cause-in-fact.

Proximate Cause @ Wikipedia

A Look at Those Tasty, Crunchy Numbers and Their Gooey, Bloody Filling

God always punishes us for what we can’t imagine.

Stephen King, Duma Key

The article at the Las Vegas Sun highlights a great many consequences that, but for GOP terrorist hostage-taking, would not occur.

Approximately 11,000 civilian federal workers in Nevada may be furloughed or asked to work, temporarily, without pay. Does this mean their bills stop? That a bank will kindly waive mortgage payments? That they cease needing food, clothing, healthcare, fuel, automotive insurance, or a host of other necessities? Of course not. Is it really that much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that at least one of these workers or their family members may actually die as a result of such deprivations as may be caused by the GOP’s act of terror? To wit, I posit that some percentage greater than 0% of affected workers and/or their family members face a threat of death that, but for GOP hostage-taking, they would not face.

Active duty service members should not expect to be paid until after the shutdown is ended. I posit that some percentage greater than 0% of active duty service members, distracted by a financial crisis imposed on them by GOP terrorists, and perhaps other service members and/or civilians that rely upon the effective discharge of their duties, will die. Is it really too much to imagine that an interruption of soldiers’ allotments to their families back home be would weigh heavily and distractingly on their hearts? That worries about keeping the lights on and mortgages paid back home would add to the already inordinate burdens they bear in the name of patriotism and service to country? Do we not have enough active duty military suicides already? But for GOP terrorism, this additional risk would not exist.

What about the risk of death faced by military contractors and their families? Is it too much to think that even one might die for no other reason than hardships caused by GOP terrorism?

Some in the country, depending on the ability of their state to bridge the gap between unemployment benefits due and funds available from the federal government, might suddenly find themselves even farther up shit creek without a paddle. Again, I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination to suggest that greater than 0% of the people already struggling to survive will experience the slashing of their unemployment benefits in the form of death that, but for GOP terrorism, would not occur.

Social Security benefits for existing recipients may be safe, for some value of the word “safe,” but new applicants and those awaiting adjudication won’t be so lucky. Will every single one of those unfortunates be able to bridge the gap between existing resources and the start of their benefits? That’s yet another risk the GOP is willing to take with American lives.

The same goes for new applicants for VA benefits. Once again, when it comes to fully supporting our troops, the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for the good of our nation, the GOP sees no problem with putting this incredibly at-risk population under the gun. Think that active duty suicide rate was jaw dropping? Can anyone believe that a government shutdown will do anything to improve on the suicide rate among veterans? Yet again, but for GOP terrorism, some percentage greater than 0% of veterans will likely die.

Surely none of this affects civilians who work in the home construction market, right? Wrong. FHA won’t be processing loans under a shutdown. No loans, no purchases. No purchases, less work for contractors, less sales for home improvement businesses and suppliers. Take everything you know about trickle-down economics and apply it to loss instead. If someone, due to a political hit on an already struggling recovery, should lose their job, how much luck are they going to have, as a new applicant, in getting unemployment benefits from strapped state coffers? Don’t get weary of my repetition just yet. Death is death, after all, each one a tragedy, each one a mere speck of collateral damage the GOP is willing to embrace as part of its political machinations. But for GOP terrorism, some percentage greater than 0% of workers in the construction and allied trades will die.

Are the good folks in the private sector working to address our renewable energy issues immune? Nope. As indicated in the article, programs expecting payments at the beginning of the fiscal year might just have to wait. Sometimes waiting is not an option. If those concerns cannot find a way to stay operational while funds are pending, doors get closed, sometimes permanently. Not only is that bad for our energy independence and bad for the environment, that’s bad for workers who, like construction industry workers, could end up competing for limited assistance resources. Yet again, but for GOP terrorism, some percentage greater than 0% of workers in the renewable energy industry will die.

Think the latest attempt at slashing $40 billion from food stamps was extreme? Heaven help you if you rely on that or similar public assistance if your state draws the short straw when it comes to timing. Yet again, but for GOP terrorism, some percentage greater than 0% of public assistance recipients will die.

Even vacationers, but more importantly, those who depend upon them, would feel the bite. With visa and passport processing being delayed, a great many, tens of thousands if history is a sufficient guide, will have to cancel plans. Those counting on tourism revenue will surely be adversely affected. Remember, all it takes is one layoff, one desperate soul pushed beyond despair. That’s a life and death risk the GOP is willing to take. Yet again, but for GOP terrorism, some percentage greater than 0% of tourism and hospitality workers will die.

All of that, all of those possible indiscriminate deaths that, but for GOP terrorism wouldn’t even be up for discussion, and their hostage-taking goal won’t even stop Obamacare thanks to the fact that the money that needs to be spent for the next stage in the rollout has already been spent. As pointed out in the article, at least this time we don’t have to worry about critical emergency services. We’ll just have to wait for America’s own Al Nusra Front as embodied in the current obstructionist GOP contingent to pull out their guns again when the next debt ceiling debacle comes into play.

Now, I realize that the temptation will be great to rebut with the claim that death is an unfortunate possible unintended consequence of even the most well-intended policies.  I submit that the difference here is quite stark and simple.  Faced with a failure to prevail in the election booth, terrorists hiding behind the GOP front are overtly threatening to harm our nation if their demands are not met.  As for my seemingly strident cry, again and again, that greater than 0% of affected populations will die, let me as you this.  What is more likely to be true, an absolute assertion that nobody will die as a result of this GOP threat (100% will survive), or that even one will will perish?  How does this differ from a madman pointing a scary rifle into a crowd and letting off ten rounds if he doesn’t get his way?  Would it even matter if all ten rounds miss?  The threat is all too horribly real.

To recapitulate, nearly verbatim, from the beginning of this post, terrorism is the application of violence or threat of violence to attain political goals. Repeal of the ACA is the obstructionist GOP contingent’s stated political goal. The threat of government shutdown which, as suggested above, almost certainly results in the death of greater than 0% of those affected, is, of necessity, a threat of violence in at least the same way that this particular politically partisan contingent construes taxation to be violence, although I contend that my claim is far more grounded in reality. GOP obstructionist radicals are, like Al Nusra Front, terrorists actively engaged, not only in threats of indiscriminate violence, in this case directly against the American people, for the attainment of political goals, but also in compromising America’s national security.   Perhaps its time we start treating them as terrorists.

To the extent that their efforts undermine national security, I would also argue that the GOP terrorist contingent lends aid and support to the enemy and should, as such, be charged and tried for treason.

—-

Image credits:

Al Nusra Front Executions. Image, as released by Al Nusra Front, posted at Threat Matrix.

Dice. Photo by John Morgan @ flikr.com.  Licensed under Creative Commons.

Scary Clown Face by Spider.Dog @ flikr.com. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Taxation is Force. Posted at thinksquad, unattributed.

Boston Marathon bombing: can we at least speculate logically?

CATEGORY: TerrorismThe speculation began before the smoke cleared: who was responsible for Monday’s terror attack at the Boston Marathon? What was their motive?

Not only is it human to speculate, it’s just about impossible for us not to. We’re inherently theoretical animals, constantly seeking more informed and reliable ways of understanding and explaining (and predicting) how the world works. (Well, most of us are like this, anyway. Highly dogmatic types have their theories locked in and have no interest in refining them.) So the speculation was natural, if not always helpful.

As you’d expect, a significant portion of the population leapt pretty quickly to the conclusion that it was foreign – and specifically Muslim – terrorists who were to blame. al Qaeda, perhaps. Maybe the Taliban. Could even be some new group we haven’t heard of before. In the absence of any data, any evidence, any context at all, this might be, at the least, a fair question to ask. After all, the US has been attacked before, multiple times, by extreme Islamist factions.

As my colleague Alex Palombo noted yesterday, this is precisely what happened. The New York Post, the Drudge Report, Erik Rush – you know, the guy you’ve seen on FOX News – even MSNBC, which, if they were as liberal as everyone accuses them of being, ought to know better, all of them were responsible for content that cast a suspicious eye toward Mecca. And of course, the general population gave us plenty of anti-Arab braying to ponder.

But, back to my criteria above: in the absence of data, evidence, context. That doesn’t really describe Monday’s events at all, does it? Consider:

  • Monday was Patriots’ Day, which annually commemorates the April 19, 1775 battles at Lexington and Concord, the first of the Revolutionary War.
  • Boston is, not to put too fine a point on it, the home of the original Tea Party. Significant swaths of the political right have seized upon the anti-tax symbolism of this event (although their grasp of the finer details surrounding the revolt often lacks a certain sophistication).
  • While we’re on the subject of April 19, the bombing occurred in close proximity to the anniversary of the Branch Davidian standoff’s tragic climax.
  • And April 19 is also the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • Let’s see – what else was Monday? Oh, right. April 15: Tax Day.

Any one of these items is a coincidence. Taken together, they begin to imply a possible pattern. They perhaps suggest a direction in which we might look as we speculate, since we know from long experience that terrorists love symbolism. Place, date – where you strike and when you strike delivers a message that’s often linked to your ideology, to the narrative you’re advancing.

Let me offer an example. Say you were an Iraqi driven to terrorist madness when American bombs dropped during Gulf War 2 killed members of your family. And you were going to bomb an American facility of some sort in retaliation. When would you do it? Well, you might do it on the anniversary of the bombing that killed your loved ones. Or maybe you’d do it on the anniversary of Saddam’s hanging. There are certainly other possibilities, but time and again, we see that people act symbolically, especially when making grand statements.

I’m not offering any of this as evidence of what you should be speculating. Far from it. We’re all better off reserving judgment until we have hard evidence to work with. Still, I admit to having some ideas of my own and I’ll be honest – if this turns out to be the work of Islamists I’ll be very, very surprised. Another colleague, Russ Wellen, raises the possibility that Islamists could have picked Patriots’ Day to cover their tracks, but that strikes me as unlikely. That breed of terrorist has a history of wanting credit for their actions.

My point, instead, is to question the pig-headedness of those who assume the attackers were Muslims. We’re not dealing with a situation in which there’s no symbolic context. On the contrary, there’s plenty of symbolic context and it all points directly away from foreign agents.

If there are thoughtful, insightful reasons to suspect Muslim extremists, I’d be interested in hearing them. But I’m not holding my breath.

Reckoning with a solidly right-wing America

HuttonA week ago, Glenn Greenwald performed an excellent dissection on a New York Times article about President Obama’s secretive anti-terrorist “death panels.” When Greenwald finished peeling back the skin, he aptly pinned a great many horrible hidden things with descriptive tags to help us see the inner blood and guts more clearly.

There is more pull-quote material, each quote more galling than the last, in the Greenwald article than one can shake a scalpel at. Just read it.

When the right wing of our fake political spectrum feels that Romney isn’t far enough to the right;

When the current Commander-in-Chief earns praise from his far-right predecessors for continuing their bloodiest policies; Continue reading

Bin Laden grows a conscience

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Director of National Intelligence released a tiny sample of the documents that U.S. Special Operations Forces captured at Osama Bin Laden’s compound to the Combating Terrorist Center (CTC) at West Point  for it to analyze. Still reading Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?, we’ll single out one Focal Point™.

In contrast to Bin Ladin’s public statements that focused on the injustice of those he believed to be the “enemies” (a`da’) of Muslims, namely corrupt “apostate” Muslim rulers and their Western “overseers,” the focus of his private letters is Muslims’ suffering at the hands of his jihadi “brothers” (ikhwa). He was at pains advising [the latter] to abort domestic attacks that cause Muslim civilian casualties and instead focus on the United States, “our desired goal.” Continue reading

Nature publishes instructions on how to make a Frankenstein monster

My doctoral dissertation addressed what I called the “Frankenstein Complex.” So guess why this story bothers me.

Today, a scientific journal published a study that some people thought might never be made public at all.

The paper describes experiments that suggest just a few genetic changes could potentially make a bird flu virus capable of becoming contagious in humans, and causing a dangerous pandemic. Continue reading

“Don’t retreat, reload”: vigilantes at large

By Robert Becker

Is there a more incendiary, compact, unapologetic cover for domestic vigilantes than “Don’t Retreat, Reload”? Though domestic terrorism occurred before and after Palin’s pandering war cry, her loaded gun imagery decoying as political rhetoric, gave itchy-fingered zealots free passes when “feeling endangered.” Overall, what the Bush Doctrine distilled into unilateral pre-emptive perfidy, executed by Rumsfeld’s dire “shock and awe,” then justified by Cheney’s One Per Cent Doctrine, was domesticated by this in-your-face mandate from a presumptive national leader.

With the Christian right playing the chorus, what our rogue government sustained endlessly “over there” has come home to roost, with literal vengeance, a slaughter of innocents. Continue reading

What if Arbabsiar was all about the drugs, not terror?

The extent of the skepticism with which the Iran assassination plot has been met from many different quarters may be unprecedented. It parallels the serious coverage by the mainstream media that the Occupy Wall Street movement is being accorded. (If only those who knew that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were accorded the same respect.) Continue reading

Nota Bene #121: Birds of an Ancient Feather

“Television is an invention whereby you can be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your house.” Who said it? The answer is at the end of this post. Now on to the links! Continue reading

Did the U.S. capitalize on the murder of Pakistani journalist Shahzad?

Not everyone found the reporting of the late Pakistani investigative journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad one hundred percent credible. But that may have just been a function of how incredulous they were at the extent to which he was able to insinuate himself with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

One of his most impressive contacts was long-time militant Ilyas Kashmiri, who fought in the Kashmir until President Musharraf wound down fighting there. Kashmiri then moved to Pakistan’s tribal areas and turned on the state, once trying to assassinate Musharraf and later named as a mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In a thought-provoking — to put it mildly — article on Shahzad’s murder for the New Yorker, Dexter Filkins writes: “Muhammad Faizan, Shahzad’s colleague, said, ‘The militants used to call him, not the other way around.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #120: Crazy Ivan

“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s earth.” Who said it? Continue reading

The lesson that bin Laden learned from Reagan

There is a particular narrative about Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War that has always struck me as compelling. I bought the argument at the time and I think I still do, to some extent, even though I’m hardly a Reagan fan.

The story goes like this: Reagan was able to finally win the Cold War and drive a stake through the heart of the Evil Empire because he realized that the Soviet economy was already badly overextended trying to prop up the war machine. All he had to do was accelerate the arms race, dramatically increasing military spending (while also amping up the sabre-rattling rhetoric) and that would force the Russkis to bankrupt themselves trying to compete. Continue reading

On September 11

I am compelled to write about 9/11, an event which affected me profoundly in ways I still do not completely understand.

On September 11, 2001, we were on Long Island at a company offsite. During a break, I went back to my room and picked up a message from Jill telling me that an event scheduled for the next day had been cancelled “for obvious reasons.” It was to have been held at the Wall Street Journal, right across the street from the World Trade Center. The meeting was to launch my new book and the cancellation infuriated me. I called her voicemail, left a sharp message and slammed down the phone. On the way back to my meeting, I paused when I saw a group congregated in the bar, and was getting an explanation from the bartender when the first tower fell. I stayed and watched in disbelief as the second collapsed.

Later, not sure what else to do, we tried to continue our meeting. But it was no use. Continue reading

As Taliban tactics grow more sophisticated, why does it still use suicide bombers?

Typical of articles calling the Taliban attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul a “showcase for their abilities” and a “carefully orchestrated operation” is this from the Daily Beast:

[The Taliban] had proven once again that insurgents can strike just about any time and anywhere against their chosen targets, exposing the fragility of Kabul’s security just days before Afghan security forces are scheduled to take responsibility for securing the city and several other towns and provinces around the country in the wake of President Obama’s announcement of the phased U.S. military withdrawal.

Still, the eight attackers, all armed with suicide vests in addition to weapons, were killed. This begs the question: with its increasing tactical sophistication, why does the Taliban continue to rely on a technique that’s as strictly from hunger as suicide bombing? Continue reading

DJ Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 27 – a song you think would be an effective instrument of torture

It seems that America now officially believes in torture as a primary tool of investigation. And back in 2008, I did a little story on how, believe it or not, we are using music as an implement of torture. So I suppose today’s challenge has a dark side, huh?

Mercifully for those suspected terrorists in captivity, DJ EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) lacks imagination (although, +1 for the “Barney Theme Song” and Meow Mix jingle). Still, nothing at all from the Disco era? Continue reading

The Death of Shahzad: leave it to the ISI to make al Qaeda look tame in comparison

Shahzad with Taliban(Pictured: Syed Saleem Shahzad with Taliban fighters.)

Some initial impressions on the murder by beating — torture — and gunshot of Asia Times Online reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad: Something of a legend in his own time, his access to al Qaeda and Taliban was light years beyond that of any other journalist.

The central irony of his death is that he was even once detained by the Taliban for a week, but in the end it looks like it was Pakistan’s largest intelligence apparatus, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence Service) that did him in. Or as Pakistani journalist Umar Cheema, who, as Ron Moreau of the Daily Beast reports, was abducted last September and beaten by individuals he believes were the ISI, said:

But if it’s not the ISI then they [the ISI] need to locate the people who did this, because they certainly can. Continue reading

Decapitating the head of the snake: bin Laden and our inner avenger

Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan referred to killing Osama bin Laden as “decapitating the head of the snake known as al Qaida.” Bloodthirsty choice of words, especially considering that decapitation has been one of al Qaeda’s preferred modes of execution, most notoriously, Daniel Pearl at the likely hands of  9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In the past, when humans were beheaded as punishment, the instrument of death was usually an axe or guillotine. Leave it to members of al Qaeda to take throat cutting to extremes. Perhaps they hoped Allah would accept a victim thus butchered as a sacrificial offering. Continue reading

Why Obama went after Osama, really

Like most people, I’m mostly glad that Osama is dead. He directly caused the deaths of thousands of people, and indirectly led to the deaths, displacement and exile of millions more. Would Sparky have launched the grand $3 trillion and yet-to-be-paid-for invasion of Iraq if Osama hadn’t leveled the Towers? No, of course not. So Osama had a lot to answer for, and while I would have preferred to see a trial, this will do. What I’m having some trouble with are the responses from the right, the ones that question Obama’s timing of this exercise. Many of these have been neatly summarized over at Alicublog, where Edroso has his usual fun with the lunacy that emanates daily from the cognitively impaired (check out his Voice column too). Drudge seemed to think it was to do something bad to Donald Trump, that sort of thing.

What is being overlooked here is the obvious, as usual. Much has been made here of the failure of the Royal Wedding planners to invite Gordon Brown and Tony Blair to the wedding of the century, or the millennium, or something. Many commentators seem greatly troubled by this. If that’s true, imagine how Obama must feel. This is hugely embarrassing. So, clearly Obama went after Osama at the point that he did in order to distract attention from his grievous failure to receive an invitation to the Royal Wedding, and remove all that Royal Wedding coverage off the front pages of the world’s newspapers. And he’s been remarkably successful. Simple, really.