FM newswire for 2 January, hot articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis.

  1. The Odds of Airborne Terror“, Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, 27 December 2009 — America’s bed-wetting geopolitical analysts can sleep soundly.  Driving to work is far more dangerous than flying.
  2. The Cash Committee: How Wall Street Wins On The Hill“, Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney, Huffington Post, 29 December 2009
  3. Yemen: Opening A New ‘Front’ in the Long War Nicht Schwerpunkt as a Prescription for Defeat by a 1000 Cuts“, Donald Vandergriff (Major, US Army, retired), 30 December 2009 — Analysis from someone worth reading!
  4. Is The Government Misrepresenting Unemployment By 32%?“, Zero Hedge, December 2009 — Worth reading, but don’t treat this as gospel.  These things are complex.

Today’s feature article about the cowardness of our leaders…

… and their low opinion of us:  “Barefoot and Panty-Scanned“, Fred Reed, 31 December 2009 — Excerpt:

What suckers we gringos are. How wonderfully amusing all of this must be for Al Quaeda. So little effort is needed to manipulate the decreasingly Great Satan into doing all manner of comic and expensive things.

For terrorists, the return on investment in phenomenal. They drop those office buildings in New York for not much money, and the US undertakes a war against Islam on which it spends a trillion dollars. Yes, Bush and Cheney and Israel wanted to invade Iraq anyway, but New York made it inevitable. Slick: Bush II couldn’t not invade some Moslem country. Leave your enemy with no choice but to do what you want him to do.

So little is necessary to terrorize the world’s hyperpower. A free-lance dingaling secretes a bomb of sorts in his shoe, whereupon the US goes into convulsions and long lines of Americans stand comically barefoot in airports. Dingaling Two popularizes liquid explosives, and so Washington frenziedly confiscates toothpaste. Yes, the world’s hyperpower is afraid of Colgate, with fluoride. Dinglaling Three hides the infernal machine in his skivvies, so Obama makes Firm Pronouncements, and we will now have to undergo examination by panty scanners. Always, over and over, the terrorists have the iniative. The country reacts hugely and predictably.

Afterword

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14 thoughts on “FM newswire for 2 January, hot articles for your morning reading

  1. I took at look at “Is The Government Misrepresenting Unemployment By 32%?“ and agree with your analysis that this is worth reading but needs to be taken with a massive grain of salt. The author has a clear case for something going on but there are a number of factors that make it impossible to determine what is happening.

    For example, this could be a measure of “discouraged workers,” people who receive unemployment benefits but have stopped looking for work. It could also be some sort of uncategorized statistical quirk (this is reaching a bit considering the size of the problem).

    Finally, and this is really reaching, the federal government likes to hide the CIA budget in other programs, moving it occasionally from year to year. So the increase could also be an expansion of some as yet unknown CIA program.

    To reiterate, there’s something going on here, but there’s no chance we’re going to find by ourselves. All we can do is ask the government to explain the discrepancy and listen very critically to the answer.
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    FM reply: Agree on all points. Here we see the horror of intelligence work (glossed over in movies) — vast amounts of data, clear anomalies, few conclusive answers.

  2. I have to take issue with the comparison of driving and airplane crashes. In the former you have control. If you are doing what you are supposed to behind the wheel you can avoid an accident even when the other driver isn’t.

    A plane crash is a little different – there you are just a sheep, relying on the pilot, repair crew and air traffic controller not to screw up. When they do screw up, everyone dies. Now add to the mix a government, that promises to protect us from airborne terror, yet clearly unable to do so when it counts. Therefore I think the higher level of anxiety when flying is warranted.
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    FM reply: I doubt any expert who has studied auto accidents will agree with your statement that…

    “In the former you have control. If you are doing what you are supposed to behind the wheel you can avoid an accident even when the other driver isn’t.”

  3. Bah! All too easy! The Safety thru Transparency Act will mandate public nudity in all air, train, bus stations and for the whole duration of every trip.

    Your move :P

  4. Oh damn! Amendments banning both abortion, and left handed rocket launchers of caliber .98 and above? NOW it will NEVER pass!

  5. Unemployment benefits is based upon whether or not you have a part-time job, and the pay of the job you’ve been fired from. Usually the biggest budget items are cut first, and that includes people.

    That and a lot of states suffer from budget crises, and the federal government has stepped in many programs, particularly with joint federal-state funding, to keep the machinery running.

    Those two can easily explain why it risen by thirty percent.
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    FM reply: The question is not why it’s up 30%, but why the relationship recently has broken between the number of unemployed and the cost of unemployment benefits.

  6. Look to your left, look to your right. Can you can see any passengers smoking, fizzing, ticking, or emailing Nigeria? If so, quickly return your waterboard to the full upright and locked position. Wave your panties at the nearest special forces operator. Be prepared to show your national identity tatoo, and to remit the customary 666$. Thank you for flying Guantanamo Airlines.

  7. Re Yemen

    More evidence that with roughly 4.4% of the world’s population, the U.S. can hardly expect to win a war of attrition against the Jihadists. Al Qaeda has its choice of remote areas to choose from. America needs to husband its strength, rebuild its economy, address legitimate grievances, and strike discretely and selectively at real threats, not phantoms.
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    FM reply: Good advice. We’ll need to upgrade our national leaders first, as such thinking is far beyond their ken.

  8. #5 . Ok , Mikyo. Unless I am a naked , toothless , bald virgin with a colonic stoma , I will not be allowed to travel on anything .
    I will join the toothy, filthy , tangle haired holiday crowds , clad in stinking rags and odd socks , walking , crawling , swimming and , shouting Jih-ha !

  9. Caution, Gay terrorists! Never search the ones who take up a wide stance!

    Pat-downs often ineffective security stop“, AP, 1 January 2009 — “TSA limits use of ‘enhanced’ searches due to privacy concerns.” Excerpt:

    “even if the man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. jetliner on Christmas Day got an airport pat-down, it probably wouldn’t have found the explosives authorities say were hidden in his crotch.”

  10. One thing that I haven’t heard said is that there has been a pronounced de-escalation in terrorist tactics. The most effective terrorist attack in recent history consisted of groups of lightly armed men taking control over a clutch of jetliners, and using them as weapons to inflict thousands of casualties. This was definitely “high-yield” terror.

    However, this is a trick that could work only once. Now that passengers and crew know what will happen if they do nothing, they would not allow a few guys with sharp instruments to maintain control of a passenger plane. So the best the terrorists can do now is blow up the plane. That’s bad, but it represents a significant reduction in potential death and damages compared to the 9/11 tactics. Indeed, we have eturned to the status quo ante of 9/11; bombed planes were a known risk back then, and the general level of public and governmental alarm was perceptibly less than it is now. In fact, one could argue that things have gotten even better than that, because the terrorists have unlearned what they once knew: they seem to have forgotten that one can just put a bomb in a checked suitcase, and are instead resorting to visibly igniting their smallclothes.

    So why has there has been no recognition that the terrorism threat is actually lessening, that the potential damage is now greatly decreased. Why have security measures not been relaxed proportionately? Why hasn’t there been a collective sign of relief? Truly, I don’t understand the world any more; why aren’t people more logical?

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