Lance Armstrong and Superstorm Sandy were both doped

This house was floated off its foundation by Sandy. Fairfield Beach, CT. (Genevieve Reilly/Fairfield Citizen)

If you’re a cycling enthusiast, you’re no doubt aware that Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of all of his Tour de France wins because the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found evidence of doping. While there are some questions that remain unanswered in the case and there are certainly reasonable criticisms that can be levied against the USADA’s investigation, the scientific evidence appears to be overwhelming.

But I’m not here to talk about Lance Armstrong. Instead, there’s another example where the scientific evidence of doping is overwhelming even though there are a few reasonable criticisms and a few unanswered questions – the doping of Superstorm Sandy by the performance enhancer known as industrial climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change).

Industrial climate disruption increases the amount of heat stored in the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. When the oceans heat up, they expand, raising sea level. When a warmer ocean and atmosphere melts ice caps (as is happening in Antarctica and Greenland), sea level rises even more. And when sea levels rise, the storm surge that accompanies large storms like Sandy (and Hurricane Katrina) is that much higher than it would have been without a storm surge sea level rise.

But there is another effect of industrial climate disruption that doped sea level rise specifically in the region hardest hit by Sandy. The region of the east cost between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Boston, Massachusetts appears to be a “hot spot” for local sea level rise that is driven in part by the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC), of which the Gulf Stream is part. When the AMOC speeds up, local sea level drops, and vice-versa. Recently, industrial climate disruption has warmed the air over Greenland enough to significantly increase the amount of freshwater entering the North Atlantic. More fresh water makes the North Atlantic less salty, and thus less dense. Since the AMOC is driven in large part by the warm, salty Gulf Stream cooling and sinking in the North Atlantic, adding lots of fresh water to the Gulf Stream will make it sink slower, and thus slow down the AMOC, leading to sea level rise in the region hit by Sandy that was, according to the paper linked above, 3-4x larger than the global average sea level rise.

Surface temperatures using data from NASA GISS.

There’s a third way that industrial climate disruption enhanced Sandy’s performance, and this is related directly to the warmer oceans. Hurricanes derive their energy from the ocean, and the warmer the ocean is under the storm, the more powerful the hurricane can become. Not all hurricanes become powerful storms over hot water because other factors matter too, but no hurricane can get large and/or powerful without ocean heat. The Atlantic Ocean has become, on average, between 0.9 and 3.6 °F (0.5 to 2 °C) warmer in the area traversed by Sandy over the period from the early 1900’s to the last decade during the months of November and December. This extra ocean heat boosted Sandy’s performance dramatically.

Warmer oceans due to industrial climate disruption also mean more water vapor in the air (over the ocean, anyway), and that means more intense rainfall. And there’s evidence that the dramatic drop in Arctic ice cover changes weather patterns across North America. One of those changes is more common “atmospheric blocking” pattern, which is part of what Sandy fused with to become a superstorm in the first place.

Critics claim that Sandy wasn’t caused by industrial climate disruption. Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France wins weren’t caused by his doping, after all. But he was still stripped of his wins because the doping made it much more likely he’d win.

Industrial climate disruption may not have caused Sandy, but it made Sandy more likely and more devastating. And until we stop emitting greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere, industrial climate disruption will continue to dope up hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires, and more.

How to fix the economy in one easy step

Cargo ship in China

Cargo ship in China

The first and most important step toward real and lasting economic growth in America is undoing the damage done over the last 30 years by outsourcing. Every manufacturing job that goes overseas costs 15 jobs outside the factory, the support system for those working families: the supply chain, information technology, shipping, packaging, telecommunications, water, electricity, other utilities, research and development, sales and marketing, janitorial, maintenance, restaurants, shopping, police, firemen, schoolteachers, and so on.

Not only does outsourcing hurt American workers and their families, it hurts the factory workers overseas who are not protected by labor laws, and who often work over sixty hours per week for starvation wages. America outlawed slavery 150 years ago and yet our largest and most profitable companies now accumulate wealth using that very same business model outside our borders. Each year America imports over 2 million shipping containers filled with goods made by foreign workers who are compensated in paltry quantities of rice. This is a dark stain on our moral fabric, and we are complicit in spreading it further every time we buy imported consumer goods from Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Sears, K-Mart, and other major retailers. We cannot be free people if our lives are sustained by the subjugation of other human beings.

Another downside is the cost of shipping. A single container ship burns $100,000 per day (83,000 gallons) of bunker fuel, a petroleum product basically one grade in quality above asphault, which is then exhausted under the ship to hide the damage it does to our environment. 16 of these ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world, and there are 90,000 cargo ships moving cheap plastic junk to our shores right now. That’s almost 300 million barrels of oil being burned, and 5,600 times more pollution than all the cars in the world being created, every single day, so that a few CEOs can use slave labor to put Americans out of work. By contrast, global daily oil consumption on terra firma is around 90 million barrels per day.

My humble recommendation to the newly elected government is this. We are by far the most ravenous consumers of everything in the world, and unscrupulous corporations are happy to destroy the earth to maximize their profits on our consumption habits. Let’s put a carbon tarriff on all containers that come into our country by land or sea. If the goods in the container came from China or anywhere else, they spewed death and destruction on the way, and devoured our increasingly expensive supply of fossil fuel to do it, and they caused incalculable human suffering both at home and abroad. Let’s put those costs in terms that corporations understand, US dollars. As Warren Buffett would say, we need to get the “incentives in the right place.” When it is no longer profitable to export jobs by creating huge carbon footprints, this madness will take care of itself.

How Reagan, not Romney, lost this election

Okay, so here we are.

Despite a weak incumbent hampered by an economic hangover of unprecedented proportions and four years of single-minded obstructionism intended to cripple his leadership, despite deliberate attempts at voter disenfranchisement and over a billion dollars of negative advertising that ranged from deceptive to downright libelous, Obama won.

Wait, “won” understates it. Obama won the popular vote. He won the electoral vote. Most importantly, though, the Republicans lost ground in every single segment of the population that is growing—youth, Latino, urban. Obama won nine of 10 swing states. Not only that, he pulled the entire ticket to victory, with gains in both the Senate and House. In a word, he stomped the living crap out of the Republican Party. He beat them so bad that Fox News was the first to call it, and pulled the plug on their own analyst when he tried to bluster.

The more rational Republicans see this for what it is. The Republicans have become a regional party. Not quite the same as the old Dixiecrats of the ’50s, but pretty darn close—the South plus rural areas. It is the party of angry old whites. The good news, I suppose, is that it is diverse angry whites—racists and paranoiacs, Catholics and Evangelicals, heterosexual adulterers and closet homosexuals.

Reagan’s big tent strategy, like pretty much every other Reagan strategy, has been an abject failure. Nixon, and then Reagan, both planned to bolster the ranks of historically small Republican Party by recruiting the recalcitrant reactionaries and rabid racists of the recidivist right (yes, that was a shout out to Spiro Agnew).

The problem is that when those people are invited into the tent, other people leave. People of decency do not want to spend a single minute in this tent with these people. It’s like a college party I was once at in Nacodoches where someone had the bright idea to give the address to the local biker gang. Within fifteen minutes the only ones left were the bikers and a dog. Even the host bolted.

Which is exactly what happened on Tuesday. Romney bolted the tent at the first opportunity. Obama’s election night party was held in McCormick Place and included a throng representing every age, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Romney’s was a small group of rich whites wearing ties in an exclusive hotel in Boston. Now that he is not obliged to hang out inside Reagan’s big tent to shake hands and beg for votes, he wants to get as far away from it as possible. Hey tentistas, don’t get your feelings hurt now. You’ve known all along that Romney has houses in Massachusetts and California, not Mississippi and Arizona. His friends own NASCAR teams, not NASCAR tee-shirts.

So what is the right answer for the Republicans? Simple, pull up the pegs and move the tent. There are plenty of centrist democrats, like me, who are pro-business and wary of government and who could be wooed in. But not as long as the tent has those assholes over in the corner at the table with the Confederate flag telling racist jokes, or as long as there’s that group of morons standing next to the iced tea insisting that biology, physics and now mathematics are opinions rather than facts. Get them out, and you might get me in. Turn Republicans back into a centrist party focused on small government, individual responsibility and fiscal prudence, instead of an alliance of those who believe in imperialism, racism, societal totalitarianism and greed, and I (and my checkbook) are on the way.

And what is the chance they will go for it? That question was like rhetorical, because the answer is: None. (Or nada if you live in Arizona.)

Here’s the way the process will work.

First, they will contort the numbers in some way to convince themselves they really didn’t lose. They will adjust for the ACORN Effect and the Sandy Effect (which hit Democratic areas, but no matter) and the Media Bias Effect and the Some-other-effect-we-haven’t-thought-of-yet Effect.

Second, they will convince themselves that if they did lose, which they didn’t, it was all Romney’s fault. (Not completely untrue by the way. As I wrote almost a year ago, this guy had no chance.) The best strategy is to put forward a rabid ideologue who will inevitably say truly stupid shit that will scare independents to death: Come on down, Paul Ryan!

And finally, they will continue to tell themselves that they can lure youth, Latinos, women and blacks into the party with traps baited with tokens like Mario Rubio and Michael Steele, and that once these people are in the trap they will sit there and happily vote as their old white betters tell them.

It sounds ridiculous. Because it is.

I think we need a strong second party. We do not want to drift into socialism, which let’s be honest, is a possibility (not a certainty as Republicans argue, but a possibility) under unfettered Democratic dominance. But we are not going to get one, because Reagan’s tent is full of yahoos, and they’re not going home until all the shrimp are eaten and the beer is gone.

Tournament of Rock IV: the Starship pod

Tournament of Rock IV: Monsters of Corporate Rock!The results for pod #9 are in, and we have another rout: Phil Collins takes better than 70% of the vote as the seeded entry wins again (that’s seven out of nine the seeds have won). Pil advances to the round of 16.

Next, pod #10. Have you ever wondered what this city was built on?

      • #3 Seed: Starship
      • Eric Clapton (solo career)
      • Kenny Loggins
      • Sheryl Crow
      • Metallica


Starship was a band created by the settlement of a lawsuit. Notwithstanding this curious beginning, the group went on to a series of hits in the mid-’80s, including the chart-toppers “We Built This City,” “Sara,” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” in a polished, mainstream pop/rock style before splitting up in the early ’90s. Starship was the remaining sextet of musicians that, with Paul Kantner, had made up Jefferson Starship until the rhythm guitarist/singer’s exit from that band in June 1984. Kantner, a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, the precursor to Jefferson Starship, had also helped found Jefferson Starship in 1974. Ten years later, Kantner decried the band’s tilt toward commercial rock and decided that it was time for the group to dissolve. His bandmates disagreed, and Kantner sued over money and the ownership of the band’s name in October 1984. The suit was settled in March 1985, resulting in a cash payment to Kantner and the agreement that the name “Jefferson Starship” would be retired, while the band would change its name to simply Starship (with that name owned by singer Grace Slick and manager Bill Thompson).

Jim: Only the hippest will get this obscure reference, but I don’t care: “If you feel like making money/If you feel like selling out/Make money selling out….” Once the Crown of Creation as Jefferson Airplane – then they fooled around and hired Mickey Thomas….depresses the hell out of me…..

fikshun: Exactly which city was built on your so-called rock-n-roll? Cleveland? Aurora, Illinois? Colorado Springs?

Me: #6 on the Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen list. I saw Starship at Carowinds (amusement park near Charlotte) in the summer of 1985. No, no – wait, hear me out. I got to spend the day at the park free with an exceptionally hot chick I was dating. And the opener was The Outfield, a band I really liked (still do). Given how the evening ended with said hot date – hint, hint – it was, on the whole, a really good day. Despite Mickey Fucking Thomas. Despite the fact that the only thing Craig Chaquico had apparently practiced in years was posing shirtless in front of the mirror. Despite the fact that Grace had let herself be reduced to Mickey Fucking Thomas’s backup singer. Despite the pointless five-minute synthesizer intro wank to “White Rabbit.” And despite the fact that they both opened and closed the show with … go on, take a guess … “We Built This City.” But like I say, the date? Yeah, she was REALLY hot. I’ll relive that day again just as soon as somebody invents me a hot tub time machine. Except this time I might leave early. Say, just after The Outfield finishes their set.

Eric Clapton

By the time Eric Clapton launched his solo career with the release of his self-titled debut album in mid-1970, he was long established as one of the world’s major rock stars due to his group affiliations — the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith — which had demonstrated his claim to being the best rock guitarist of his generation… Clapton did not launch a sustained solo career until July 1974, when he released 461 Ocean Boulevard, which topped the charts and spawned the number one single “I Shot the Sheriff.” The persona Clapton established over the next decade was less that of guitar hero than arena rock star with a weakness for ballads.

Jim: A true guitar legend…The guy helps a lot of people with his rehab centers…but if you’re God, you don’t make records with Babyface and John Mayer…you just don’t…

Me: I just reviewed the Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen list and somehow Clapton isn’t on it. WTF?

Bonesparkle: Robert Johnson and a really emo 14 year-old girl are shooting craps for his soul.

Kenny Loggins

Loggins & Messina broke up in 1976, and Loggins retained a strong following in the years immediately after. He went on to solo stardom with such million-selling albums as Celebrate Me Home, Nightwatch (which included the hit “Whenever I Call You Friend”), and Keep the Fire, all in the cheerful, sensitive style he had displayed in Loggins & Messina. Loggins also became known as the king of the movie soundtrack song, scoring Top Ten hits with “I’m Alright” (from Caddyshack), “Footloose” (from Footloose), “Danger Zone” (from Top Gun), and “Nobody’s Fool” (from Caddyshack II).

Jim: Great folk rock songwriter with Jim Messina – then, he got Footloose in the Danger Zone…but He’s Alright…at least that’s What a Fool Believes….

Bonesparkle: Anyone associated with Caddyshack gets a mulligan. Anyone associated with Caddyshack 2 has to give it back.

fikshun: How many of Kenny’s greatest hits weren’t  done to promote movies?

Me: Whether he proves to be our favorite corporate performer or not, there may never have been an artist who was more purely and comprehensively mainstream from one end of his career to the other. Kenny Loggins was born to be a prostitute.

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow’s fresh, updated spin on classic roots rock made her one of the most popular mainstream rockers of the ’90s. Her albums were loose and eclectic on the surface, yet were generally tied together by polished, professional songcraft. Crow’s sunny, good-time rockers and world-weary ballads were radio staples for much of the ’90s, and she was a perennial favorite at Grammy time. Although her songwriting style was firmly anchored to the rock tradition, she wasn’t a slave to it — her free-associative, reference-laden poetry could hardly have been the product of any era but the ’90s. Her production not only kept pace with contemporary trends, but sometimes even pushed the envelope of what sounds could be heard on a classicist rock album, especially on her self-titled sophomore effort.

Jim: Record execs meeting: “Hey, let’s find a hot chick who writes competent 3rd-generation roots rock and sell her like a piece of meat.” Done…

Bonesparkle: Sheryl was once named #1 on the Love Losers list. She’s dated Eric Clapton, Owen Wilson, Kid Rock, Lance Armstrong, Ryan Seacrest and Hank Azaria, and these are just the famous ones. My theory is that her relationships are all going swimmingly until she ties them up and strips to Tuesday Night Music Club. At that point they all scream the safe word, rip out the headboard and break for the door. Except for maybe Kid Rock, who wants to do a rap/rock cover of “All I Wanna Do.” At which point she breaks for the door.


Metallica spent most of 2000 embroiled in controversy by spearheading a legal assault against Napster, a file-sharing service that allowed users to download music files from each other’s computers. Aggressively targeting copyright infringement of their own material, the band notoriously had over 300,000 users kicked off the service, creating a widespread debate over the availability of digital music that raged for most of the year… In July [2001], Metallica surprisingly dropped their lawsuit against Napster, perhaps sensing that their controversial stance did more bad than good to their “band of the people” image.

fikshun: Napster. That about covers it, doesn’t it?

Jim: Metal band takes itself way too seriously…hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…no, wait, I mean, really…hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….I’m serious, dammit! Metal band takes itself…hahahahahahaha…..

Me: #7 on the Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen list. I give them credit for being an important lesson for naïve music fans everywhere. See, before the Napster affair broke their legions of fans saw Metallica as the real fuckin’ deal. Authentic and taking no shit from no man. Then Lars and James drop to their knees for the RIAA, making clear that they by god were whores. The whole raging metalhead thing was an image. Pure marketing.

Bonesparkle: You know how Avril Lavigne was Punk? That’s how James and Pay Lars are Metal.

Click to vote.

The rules.

Image Credit: 80s on Speed

Mystery Unraveled: How a white, moderate, married, churchgoing, middle-class, middle-aged woman could vote for Obama

‘We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin

If there’s one word that seemed to characterize Romney supporters’ immediate reaction to Obama’s victory, it’s “shock.”

A conservative Facebook friend posted this status: “For the first time in my life I am at a loss for words…absolutely baffled by the electorate and the election results, especially considering the current state the country is in.”

A radio reporter interviewed a woman at the Romney campaign party in Denver shortly after the election was called. Her response simmered with anger as she pondered the reality of how more than half the nation had voted: “What don’t they see?? It’s mind-boggling!”

What they don’t see are people like me.

I’m a 50-year-old white woman who lives in the swing state of Colorado. I’m married, I’m a mom, I have a PhD, and I’m a Christian. In Boulder. I can’t imagine trying to explain the world without faith and science. I’m upper middle class, but I come from blue-collar stock. I believe in capitalism, but I also believe its inevitable excesses must be tempered with regulations – you know, Genesis, original sin, the human propensity for greed and all. I’m pro-life in the fullest sense of the term. I’m happy for my gay friends who want to marry – I’m all for commitment when it comes to sustaining the social fabric. My evangelical grandmother, whom I treasured, was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. I’m a Democrat who likes hymns and red wine. Try squaring all that when it comes to putting me in a political box.

Like a great many voters who helped tip the election to Obama, I see social complexity that the poles refuse to acknowledge. I’m a reasonable centrist. And I think Republicans write us off at their own expense.

If one had spent the campaign watching only Fox News, following only conservative pundits and pollsters, it’s no wonder the election results seemed so inscrutable. Daniel Larion, doing some Wednesday morning quarterbacking in The American Conservative, observed that the entire Romney campaign was organized on “flawed assumptions.”

“Romney and his allies not only didn’t understand their opponent, but they went out of their way to make sure they misunderstood him, and in any kind of contest that is usually a recipe for failure.”

Likewise, Romney supporters misunderstand many of us who sent Obama back for four more years. Why on earth, given this economy, would tens of millions of Americans choose to do that?

The right-wing radio blowhards think they have it figured out: we’re dupes of the mainstream media, a giant liberal-elite faction engaged in a conspiratorial embrace with the Left; Hurricane Sandy and turncoat Chris Christie joined forces in an eleventh-hour PR move for the president; or – and this is emerging as the dominant narrative – we simply want more stuff that we don’t have to work for. We’re takers, not makers. Romney was right when he talked about the 47 percent, only it was 51 percent – apparently there were more slackers in the country than he counted on.

All of those explanations are as wrong as they are offensive.

I would like for my bewildered Republican friends to know how I could possibly have voted for Obama without being a far-left ideologue who is simultaneously blind, immoral and lacking in patriotism.

Here are five reasons. And I’m pretty sure I speak for the bulk of the moderates who broke for the president on Tuesday night.

1) I don’t believe Obama is a closet Muslim with a radical socialist agenda to undermine America. I don’t believe he has a false birth certificate and a fake Social Security card. I think he is a deeply sincere, smart, principled man who is far from perfect but deserves a chance to continue what he has tried to begin.

2) I’m more comfortable taking a risk on Obama’s economic agenda than Romney’s. The numbers are starting to look up. I’d rather hedge my bets with Keynes than Adam Smith. Mitt wants to cut spending and slash taxes, and give most of those tax breaks to the richest Americans. That doesn’t square with my sense of what’s rational or what’s just. We’ve tried that before, and that Kool-Aid does not trickle down for me.

3) I’m willing to take a chance on Obamacare. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than a system that excludes millions and is dedicated to lining the pockets of insurance companies whose primary mission is not to cover care but to deny it. The Affordable Care Act is not “socialized medicine” in which the government dictates my health care. It’s a hybrid system that worked in Massachusetts; I’m ready to see how it goes in the rest of the U.S.

4) I care deeply about protecting this planet, our home. How could we elect a president who is so cavalier about God’s creation that he wants to dismantle the EPA? Really? The clean air and clean water acts established under Richard Nixon aren’t important to keep for our kids? I can’t imagine a world leader not grappling with the problem of global climate change. Solyndra was a debacle, but to suggest that we ought not to pursue green energy isn’t just short-sighted, it’s grave foolishness.

5) I believe a graduated tax system is the most moral means of structuring an economy. I think that rich folks who benefited so disproportionately from a wildly deregulated Wall Street need to return to shouldering more of our shared burden. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Now, plenty of wealthy business owners are going to argue, ‘This wasn’t given to me, I built it.’ Yes, you did, with a public infrastructure supporting you. But until we have genuine equality of opportunity in this country – including equal pay for equal work – some people can build a lot more than others.

There are parents who hire me for $50 an hour here in wealthy Boulder to coach their kids on college application essays. They fly to visit schools so their kids can interview in person. You think that teenager of a single-mom Wal-Mart clerk struggling to pay her rent has the same crack at a premier college education and the connections that come with it? Where is the equal opportunity?

And don’t tell me that working woman is a sponger. Don’t tell me that Diego who painted my house or Beatriz who sometimes cleans it is a freeloader. As a Christian, I am told to care for the least of these. When I vote, their self-interest should be as important as my own. “Sink or swim,” or “Go home even though you’ve lived here since you were two” is no more a path to economic autonomy than a government check is.

The fact is, we are all in this country together, and we have different needs and means, and we have a lot in common when it comes to teaching kids, fighting fires, cleaning up after storms or caring for our national parks. Those who have more need to do more, as we work to give the rest not a handout, but a hand up. As for me, I went to college on Pell grants, work-study, scholarships and summer jobs. That combination of my own hard work and a little help from a society that supported my potential is what got me a college degree. That powerful model – public and private in synergy – remains most compelling to me and is the most fundamental reason I voted for President Obama.

Clearly, the Right and Left perceive the role of government differently. We may ultimately be captives of a postmodernist analysis that says there is no way outside our own subjectivity to view the world through another’s eyes. If that is so, then empathy is a casualty and our divisions rigidify.

I refuse to concede that. I’d rather share the prophetic words of Abraham Lincoln, speaking to a deeply divided America in his 1861 Inaugural Address:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

May we each appeal to the better angels in one another as we start healing the wounds of this election season.

Once more into the breach for the "savior of Pakistan"

Oblivious to his status as the greatest nuclear thief in history, A.Q. Khan has started his own political party in Pakistan.

There’s only person who’s less worthy of being referred to by cool initials than A.Q. Khan. That’s Khalid Sheik Mohammed: KSM sounds way too familiar, creepy, even in its coziness.

Before interviewing him for a September 5 piece at Foreign Policy, Simon Henderson reminds us that

Abdul Qadeer Khan is the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program — and, according to Washington officialdom, the architect of the greatest violation to the nuclear non-proliferation regime that the world has ever seen. Starting in the 1980s and continuing for roughly two decades, the nuclear scientist oversaw the transfer of crucial nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

Why interview him now? It seems

… the controversial nuclear scientist is entering Pakistan’s political arena. He recently announced the formation of the Movement for the Protection of Pakistan  … which he conceives as an organization that will back worthy candidates in the country’s upcoming national assembly elections.

And why launch the party now? AQ Khan responds:

At the moment Pakistan is in an extremely precarious and dangerous condition – no law and order, widespread load shedding [planned rolling blackouts — RW], a high crime rate. … In short, it has gone to the dogs thanks to our most incompetent and corrupt rulers and their Western patrons. … I can’t simply sit back and see it destroyed. I feel that I must do something to try to save the situation,

In fairness, Khan claims to partly motivated by preventing the spread of anti-Islamist extremism. Khan said he is concerned about “target killing on religious, sectarian or provincial bases” (the plural of basis, that is). He adds:

I have noticed that Western countries are nervous about my Movement, possibly suspecting that I might be a fundamentalist or a jihadi. They forget that I studied in Europe, lived there for 15 years, have a foreign wife, have two daughters who studied in the UK and have two granddaughters studying abroad, one in the UK and one in the USA. … I seek … sanctity of our sovereignty, non-participation in mercenary activities or allowing our country to be used for terrorism, either from within or from outside.

To the West, Pakistan presents national-security concerns that can be distilled thusly: that it will use nuclear weapons on India, that it’s a breeding ground of extremist Islamists, and that said extremists might seize the nuclear weapons. Asked about their safety, Khan — never less than quoteworthy — replies:

Pakistan’s nuclear assets are as safe as President Obama’s black box. Nobody can even steal a screw from them. … The world should worry about their own problems, not about ours.

That last statement does not bode well for his grasp on reality. Nor does this.

Nobody in Pakistan doubts my integrity, honesty, sincerity or patriotism. … Pakistani historians will remember me by the nickname they have given me: “Mohsin-e-Pakistan” (Saviour of Pakistan).

His remarks can even be construed as delusional. He claims it’s not national office he seeks.

I am just a guide — some sort of Lee Kwan [sic] Yew, the former PM of Singapore, Mahathir [of Malaysia] or, hopefully, Mandela.

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is known as the “founding father” of modern Singapore; Mahathir bin Mohamad was the prime minister under whom Malaysia experienced modernization and growth. Meanwhile the narcissism of comparing oneself to Nelson Mandela speaks for itself.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.