Saturday, December 08, 2001

Wahabbi isn't a spicy condiment

The New York Times has an article (registration required) about the Wahabbi cancer that spread to Chechnya and helped fuel that war. This is the first article in a major publication that I know of which features Wahabbism prominently as a disruptive and oppressive strain of Islam. Of course, the article makes no mention of the champions of Wahabbism, the Saudis. In fact, it seems to go to great lengths to avoid mentioning them at all. It talks about the various "charities" that help fund the Wahabbis but stops short of mentioning just who runs and contributes to those charities.

Remember, Wahabbism was limited to a small band of bedouins in Arabia until ibn Saud took advantage of Sherif Hussein's preoccupation with securing land for his family after leading the Arab uprising during WW1. ibn Saud united the bedouin tribes in his revolt and spread his quirky brand of Islam all over Arabia. He eventually captured Mecca and Medina from Sherif Hussein (the great-grandfather of the King of Jordan), and established his rule and puritanical Islam over Arabia. The goal of spreading Wahabbism to all of Islam has not ceased since those days. It's taking place in almost every Islamic country that has a problem with radical fundamentalists, and its Wahabbis that inspired and manned the Taliban.
Let them Speak

Another great article from the Post about students facing criticism for having unpopular views. I'll skip the obvious "having the tables turned" bit, and go right to the heart of the issue. I think they should be allowed to say what they want to say. When you keep them from wearing T-Shirts with messages, or rip posters off the walls, you're only covering up their naivete and burying their ignorance under a veneer of inoffensiveness. Let their denseness shine like a beacon for all to see. It's not the school system's responsibility to keep students from making asses of themselves.

Besides, the best reponse to their foolishness is with foolishness of your own. Instead of silencing them, embarass them in public by knocking down their rickety views one by one. Zero-in like a laser beam on their false assumptions and general naivete. Fight their posters with your own; fight their words with your words. Just like a house with no foundation, their opinions will come crashing down with only minimal effort on your part. You will have succeeded when they eventually cry, call you names, walk away in a huff, or make the ultimate admission of defeat: "Whatever!"
B.O. Will Give You Away Every Time

The Washington Post has an interesting article about some notes found in a former Al-Queda house that instruct would-be terrorists on how to infiltrate Western societies. The most important instructions:
Deodorant is meant to be used directly on the body, the notes advise, rather than on clothing, while watches should be worn on the left wrist. Rings should be made of gold, even though Islamic fundamentalists say it violates religious law for men to wear gold. It is important to know the difference between perfume and after-shave, the notes say, and even more significant to know the difference between perfume for men and that for women. "If you will use the female perfume so you will be in big trouble."
Yep, nothing says "Radical Islamic Fundamentalist" like a dude wearing perfume. I wonder how they wrapped their heads around Calvin Klein's CK1?

Getting Stoned in Pakistan

A reporter for the Independent was beaten up in Pakistan for driving while white. His car broke down, and a crowd gathered around:
They were friendly at first but then a child threw a stone which hit him on the head and then the others joined in.
That's probably the most insightful statement about Middle Eastern psychology I've ever seen.
Singing Like a Canary

According to ABC News, John Walker is talking. The interesting part of the article was this:
Observers believe the key to Walker's fate depends on what he did in Afghanistan. If Walker was involved in Spann's death, he could face a murder charge in federal court. However, some legal analysts say charging him with treason could be difficult because there's been no American declaration of war.
Ah, therein lies the rub. Since Congress reneged on it's Constitutional responsibility to declare war, all the legal niceties of such a declaration do not exist. We had all these Congressmen parading on TV talking about how Congress' control of funding was all that was really important, and the War Powers Act was sufficient enough, but Walker's case highlights the fact that there's more to a war than voting on appropriations bills. Founding Fathers 1, Professional Politicians Zip.

Enemy of the State?

According to Ashcroft, if you like your liberty, you're an ally of terrorism. Here's the salient quote:
Emboldened by public opinion surveys showing that Americans overwhelmingly support the administration's initiatives against terrorism, Mr. Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists."
Dude, you're full of shit. If you can't tell the difference between mindless America bashing and thoughtful questioning of the new anti-terror initiatives, then you have no business being where you're at. Or perhaps you do. I seem to remember another little shit that wouldn't let technicalities like the Constitution get in the way of security. Got any lingerie in your dresser, John?
A Time for Peas

The BBC reports that the Palestinian Authority is urging America to tell the Israelis to restrain themselves. Not bloody likely, but here's the choice quote:
As long as Sharon feels he has the green light from the United States, no peace efforts will be conclusive
Well, using Afghanistan as a recent example, I'd say the military option is a pretty good one for securing peace. The Palestinians have launched suicide bombers at Israel for years to bring about concessions, and now that Israel's decided that they will no longer be bombed to the negotiating table, the Palestinians are ramping up the "get Western sympathy" approach that they've depended on for so long to put outside pressure on Israel to go along with the appeasement process.

The problem with this approach is that it was most successful only when used in concert with terror bombings. This two pronged attack on Israel from both within and without produced great results for the Palestinians, but with Israel no longer appeasing for peace, the Western Sympathy approach is rather impotent now. When your people are being terrorized and killed by people wanting no less than your destruction, it's pretty easy to tell the world to fuck off, especially when most of the world has been against you since your birth. Of course, everyone knows that it's American dollars that help keep Israel strong, and that's why our opinion is the only one that really matters. It's also a big reason why the Arab world "hates us". If it weren't for us, the thinking goes, they could've wiped the Zionists off the map years ago.
Johnny Walker, Black Label

I was watching CNN and they showed a poll asking Americans what should be done with John Walker, and here are the results as best I can remember:

Should be charged and tried: 42%

Should be charged and tried only if there's evidence: 41% (I guess being captured with other Taliban and telling his life story isn't evidence enough)

Should be let go: 3%

Don't Know: 16%


It's too bad they didn't have an option for "Summary Execution". That'd be my choice.
Fat Bastards, Part Deux

I linked to a previous independent study of FB's in the military, and now the Air Force is trying to do something about it. One of the current problems with the Weight Management Program is that it's really damaging to a career, and is abused by some Commanders. If you're in the program, you can't PCS or sew on rank. It can also be used against you on your EPR, which pretty much guarantees you will not get a senior enlisted rank years down the road. I've also seen people have their promotion orders red-lined by commanders for being in the program.

Now, I'm not saying that this was the original intent of the program. In a perfect world, it's a rehabilitative program designed to help overweight members get down to a reasonable weight and continue about their careers as normal. But it's not a perfect world. It is used by many Commanders and supervisors as a punitive tool, and it has become a "stigma" program along with the Alcohol Abuse Program, and the various Mental Health programs out there. All of these programs are in and of themselves rehabilitative programs, but their perception in the real world leaves alot to be desired.

It's nice to see that at some level, the Air Force recognizes this, and is putting out some real effort to help people out before they get put on the WMP. I hope that this voluntary program is implemented and succeeds, but its success depends upon the support of Commanders and supervisors at every level. Considering that such support in the past has been mere lip service, I'm not optimistic, but there's always hope.
Newseum is Old News

The Newseum is closing it's doors at it's present location for three years and will open up in D.C. itself once construction of a new building is complete, according to the Washington Post. I don't know if the Newseum gets a ton of visitors, but I doubt it. It's front doors are facing a busy and crazy intersection, and it's surrounded by large office buildings. You'd think it were an office building as well if it weren't for this huge globe thing that juts out from it's entranceway, and even that's easy to miss, what with the "is that flashing yellow for us, or them?" situation you have at that spot. The location is terrible all around. It's crowded, busy, noisy and stuffy at that exact spot, and it's a little out of the way from any major attractions besides the Pentagon. You go 100 yards either way from it, and things aren't so bad, but once you go up the gradient toward that intersection with the catwalks, flashing lights, and 50 cars going different ways, it just turns into a bad situation. Hell, I would've never found it myself had I not gotten lost around the Pentagon looking for a way onto 395 South, so I think it's a good thing for it to be moving to a more open and central location.
Completely Random Thought #230,986

I think going on Saturday Night Live is a jinx for bands. One minute you're on SNL, the next, you're on Behind the Music.

Friday, December 07, 2001

Day of Infamy, Day of Victory

Today was a day of two extremes. It's the anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, but it's also the day that saw the Taliban utterly defeated in Afghanistan. Now we can get on with the business of running the rest of these terrorists down ala Tombstone.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

Walker, Afghan Ranger

Newsweek (via MSNBC) has a tape showing the actual interrogation between the slain CIA officer, and the American Taliban, John Walker. This tape is interesting, and not just for the "Holy Shit!" factor, either. Apparently, Spann and "Dave" were doing the good cop/bad cop thing for Walker to get him to talk. I'm not sure the article makes clear whether the CIA guys knew Walker was an American, since it doesn't report what languages they were speaking when going through their routine. It does say that the prison riot broke out shortly after Walker was taken back to the cell area. Add this tidbit to reports which stated that the Taliban prisoners all thought they were going to be killed before the revolt, and there may be a connection between Walker's interrogation and the initiation of the prison riot.
Does it Matter?

Scientists have once again failed to find the elusive Higgs-Boson particle, according to CNN. Go read the article, and the next time somebody says that there's nothing new to discover in science, and that all the big concepts have been worked out, tell them they're full of shit. Scientists can't even figure out why matter has mass. If that isn't a basic, fundamental mystery, I don't know what is.
Working for Blacks Everywhere (As long as they're Democrats)

Fox News says that some Civil Rights Commision founded by President Clinton a few years ago doesn't want one of President Bush's appointees on it's panel, since the appointee in question is a conservative. I'm sure most of you are aware of the "ownership" phenomenon that occurs amongst advocacy groups (of any persuasion). You have a group of people form a lobby to advocate a "cause". But at some point, simple advocacy turns into typical partisanship, and anyone else who wishes to speak on behalf of the "cause", but doesn't share all the politics and opinions of the advocates, is villified, ostracised, or ignored. At this point, you can be fairly certain that the quixotic motivations which inspired the movement are gone, and you are left with a political organization.
Not so fast

The talks going on between Anti-Taliban Pashtuns and Mullah Omar's people for the surrender of Kandahar have hit a snag, as far as the U.S. is concerned. The Washington Post reports that the U.S. does not agree with the idea of giving Omar amnesty in Kandahar. I'm beginning to wonder if the positioning of our Marines over there was initiated in anticipation of something like this happening. The Anti-Taliban forces can negotiate all they want, but the U.S. isn't beholden to any deals struck between them and the Taliban.
And then there was one...

The New York Times reports that some of the native Afghan commanders are saying Zawahiri is dead. He was the third man in the "Triumvirate of Terror", along with bin-laden and Muhammed Atef. If true, this is a great victory for us, since Zawahiri was mainly the idea man, and Atef was the muscle. This leaves only the money man, who as you read this, is cowering in a cave somewhere.
Jingle Bell Rock

Well, the Christmas tree is up, the lights are strung around, and everything's pretty nice right now. I'm sitting here in a nice, warm house and just enjoying everything.

Hey Osama, what kind of day have you had cowering in your cave, you pathetic fuck?
Downtime

Just a note to let everyone know that posting will be sporadic or non-existent for the next few days. I'm looking around for a new host and new software for the weblog (if anyone has any ideas, I'm open), and I'm also spending some QT with the fam.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Victims?

Thought the money you donated to the September 11th Fund is going to the victims? Think again.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Cutting Their Noses to Spite Their Faces

Some Taliban bandits roaming eastern Afghanistan hit a bus, and cut off the ears and noses of non-bearded men on the bus. No word from Amnesty International on whether they intend to investigate this incident, but judging by their past investigative agressiveness of the Taliban, my sources say no.
That's a Lovely Dress You're Wearing Mrs. Cleaver

Here's a transcript of an interview that Larry King had with the father of the American Taliban prisoner being held captive. To hear him talk, his son's a loveable scamp who went to his friend's house without permission.
We want to give him a big hug. I also want to maybe give him a little kick in the butt for not telling me what he was up to, and for not getting my permission, because I would not have given him permission to go to Afghanistan
Also, the father seemed concerned more with what kind of treatment his son's had rather than the treatment his son and his companions gave the native Afghans.
Well, I have to say, I'm doing my best to remain composed, but we're all very, very upset with what John went through in this prison. It really defies description. And to think that our son, he's really not much more than a boy, that he went through this horrible experience in the prison and who knows what leading up to that, as parents and as family, we're very troubled and very concerned for his welfare.
You know, I can understand the natural feelings of protection a father has for his children, but this guy is nuts. His son belonged to an oppressive theocratic movement that sought to impose it's will on a native populace, committing god knows how many atrocities, and then kills these native Afghans when they rise up to throw off the yoke of Taliban tyranny (and perhaps gain some power for themselves). But John's a loveable, sweet boy who just fell in with the wrong crowd. I wonder what everyone would think if his "spiritual journey" led him to shaving his head, going to Idaho, and beating homosexuals and minorities.


Monday, December 03, 2001

Elfish Alliance Victorious!

The Northern Elfish Alliance, led by Generalissimo Claus, has successfully liberated the Funtoban stronghold of Kensington, MD. The rapidity of the takeover is largely credited to defections within the local Fire Department, who switched sides and provided personnel carriers for the Elves. Seeing the massive numbers of elves flowing into the city, Mullah Omar Raustafe, knowing certain defeat was at hand, relinquished control of the town to the Alliance and their supporters. Hundreds of residents lined the streets, celebrating their liberators and cheering them on as they drove towards the Christmas tree at the center of town. Mullah Omar Raustafe, quickly sensing the shifting political winds and the television news cameras, decided to welcome Santa with open arms.

When asked what was to be done with the Funtoban leader, Generalissimo Claus commented, "I'm a forgiving man. I understand that every town has a crotchety and bitter person who does their best to steal the Christmas Spirit from the good boys and girls, but in the end they're always taught that compassion and love are what really matters; Not just on Christmas, but every day of the year." Santa then presented Mullah Omar Raustafe with a Prom Date Barbie, the present she wanted most when she was nine, but never received, and whose absence under the tree on Christmas Day began her on the long, downward spiral into apathy and nihilism. Upon receiving the gift, Raustafe's heart warmed and a single tear ran down her cheek. Unable to hold back the love and warmth she had kept buried deep within the cold recesses of her soul, she hugged the Jolly Elf, and exclaimed to him and the town, "I love you, Santa!" The large crowd erupted into cheers, proving that yes, Kensington, there is a Santa Claus.
A Kalishnikov Only a Mother Could Love

MSNBC Reports on a Newsweek Exclusive, that the parents of the American Taliban fighter captured in the prison riot are quite proud of their son. So, what do the parents think of their son's career as an Islamo-fascist?
I'm proud of John.... He's a really good boy. A really sweet boy.
His mom says that he must've been brainwashed:
If he got involved with the Taliban, he must have been brainwashed, she says. He was isolated. He didn't know a soul in Pakistan. When you're young and impressionable, it's easy to be led by charismatic people.
Although it looks like it just wasn't the son who was snowed:
Even harder for her to fathom is the idea of her son as a volunteer fighting for the Taliban. I can't imagine him in the uprising (in the prison), she says. This is a kid who would freeze [out of fear]. This is my shy kid. He's totally not streetwise.
The father, an understanding and compassionate Dad, can't help but feel pride for his son:
I support him and his studies, he says. He's learned Arabic, and is memorizing the Quran. He's a very good scholar.
I guess you could call it that.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

More Suicide Bombers
CNN Report

The terrorists have bombed a bus in Haifa, and another one parked next to it exploded as well, killing yet more Israelis. This latest attack, as well as reports of Palestinian terrorists using small arms fire against Israeli citizens, seems to suggest that all of these incidents are part of a co-ordinated battle plan that employs more sophisticated tactics. I can't help but think of theTet offensive as these reports keep coming in. I know the two situations are different in alot of ways, but the feel of it is there.