Saturday, December 25, 2010

I wish it really were all like Four Lions

In the proud tradition of violent Islamic extremism being mostly counterproductive, a suicide bomber who seems to have been supporting Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (which has claimed responsibility against a rival group who had been taking over territory from TTP. They are referred to as "the Salarzai tribe," (though my reading in more specialized places suggests that going straight to tribal classifications is often not the best course, cough, understatement).

The counterproductive part is that while the bomber (gender apparently still in contention, no ID that I've seen anywhere) took out several of the intended targets, the chosen place for this event was...a World Food Programme event. The words coming to my mind go something like "I mean, honestly" but that doesn't seem right. It just seems, again, counterproductive--there was no other way to do this? Of course intimidation is a major part of coercing the local populace in any insurgency effort, but this sort of thing is not too far off from what lost al-Qaeda a lot of support elsewhere.

At any rate, 43 people were killed in this incident, and:

On Friday, a force of 150 militants in Mohmand Agency (just south of Bajaur), had targeted 5 checkpoints of the Frontier Corps, a Pakistani government paramilitary unit, killing 11 troops in the Safi and Baizai districts. Some 24 of the rebels were killed in a riposte by government sources. This attack also came in revenge for the Taliban having been expelled [by the Salarzai] from those areas of Mohmand Agency.

On Saturday, Pakistani troops using helicopter gunships came back after the insurgents, allegedly killing 40 of them in Baizai and Lakro villages.

This leaves the headline at "Over 80 Dead."

Juan Cole has a pretty good roundup of what all went down.

If only Four Lions were all there was to it.

[Note: embedded video is even worse now than it was before. Once upon a time I could adjust the size in the code, but not now, noooo. Link is all you get. Sorry.]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sad news

RIP, Richard Holbrooke.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fun with words!

Ezra Klein points us to a fun new toy:

Citizens for All That Is Good About America
By Ezra Klein

Americans for America. The New Century Foundation for Progress. A Bright Future for Children and Families. PAC names are a genre unto themselves. A proud, optimistic, vapid genre that's designed to sound so much like apple pie that you never think to look at the filling -- or, to be less metaphorical, the money. The Sunlight Foundation decided to have some fun with this and set up a PAC-name generator. Some of these PACs are the real deal, but most are just perfect PAC names waiting to find a home.

He seems to have chosen "Strong Women, Good-Looking Men and Above Average Children for Liberty" as his flag to fly, but me? Well, unbeknownst to all, I am actually the founder of "New Englanders against Sinister Sentiments."

You're welcome, world.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

They're coming to get you

I just. I can't. This is really quite amazing. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) has convinced Huckabee--who had her on his Fox News show to talk about this--that Hizballah operatives are being funneled from Iran through to Venezuela, up to Mexico, and then infiltrating the U.S. via the Mexican border in collaboration with drug cartels. In order to plant car bombs, or something.

I swear, I am not making this up:

As [TPM has] reported, Myrick believes Hezbollah "is partnering with Mexican drug cartels in the U.S. borderlands and may be planning 'Israel-like car bombings of Mexican/USA border personnel or National Guard units.'" Part of her evidence of this is that "well trained officials are beginning to notice the tattoos of gang members in prisons are being written in Farsi" along the Southwest border.

She's since expanded on this theory, claiming that because Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are "very good friends," Iranian members of Hezbollah "go from of course Iran into Venezuela, stay up to two years, learn the language, get false documents, and then transit up through Mexico to come across our border."

Huckabee had Myrick on his show on Sunday, and was quite alarmed at this "pretty explosive information," because "we're not hearing this - not from the Department of Homeland Security."

This is shatteringly stupid for a number of reasons. As many commenters at TPM pointed out, the drug cartels would have to be very, very dumb indeed to do anything like this, as it would certainly be very bad for business. Secondly, a Hizballah member with Farsi tattoos on would be an odd duck indeed, Iranian influence or no.

Thirdly, the slender thread of truth here--that Hizballah once was active in Latin America--is being rather abused. Hizballah has not been active in a major way in this hemisphere for over a decade, as far as I know; and when they were active in Latin America, the attacks took place in Argentina.

Now, if you Google around, you can find what look like some fairly reliable sources backing this claim up (MSNBC, for one). But no serious academic source I've encountered has ever mentioned the ongoing existence of a widespread fundraising operation by Hizballah in Latin America (which at least seems a slightly more plausible version of a similar claim), and the DHS has officially stated that it has no "credible information on terrorist groups operating along the Southwest Border."

Finally, the only way this could ever possibly work would be if a) all brown people looked alike and b) no brown people of any kind had any interest in stability/the absence of car bombs in the U.S.; otherwise the terrorists would be immediately distinguishable from the drug dealers, and/or the loyal American citizens of Hispanic or Arab descent might choose to enlighten their chalky overlords neighbors.

I assume I don't need to elucidate what's wrong with those premises.