Thursday, December 31, 2009

Republicans Poised for Strong Comeback in 2010

This is something I've been feeling in my bones for sometime, but especially after the November 2009 elections. From the Los Angeles Times, "GOP Poised for Comeback in Midterm Elections":

After losing the White House and nearly 70 congressional seats in the last two elections, Republicans are poised for a strong comeback in 2010, with significant gains likely in the House and a good chance of boosting their numbers in the Senate and statehouses across the country.

The results could hamper President Obama's legislative efforts as he prepares to seek reelection and reshape the political landscape for a decade beyond, as lawmakers redraw congressional and state political boundaries to reflect the next census.

All 435 House seats, 36 in the Senate and the governorships of 37 states will be on the ballot in November. Democrats are favored to retain the Massachusetts seat of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in a special election Jan. 19.

Some of the Democrats' most prominent figures, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, are in serious danger as they seek reelection. Both would probably lose if elections were held today.

"It all adds up to a pretty bad year for the party in power," said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "How bad? I'm not sure we know yet."

However, for all Republicans stand to gain, the party still has problems. Polls show that many voters, though unhappy with Democrats, are even less enamored of the GOP.

Steve Pearce, a former three-term Republican congressman, criticizes both parties as he campaigns for his old House seat in New Mexico, saying the explosion in spending under President George W. Bush has only gotten worse under Obama. "Both parties tend to get there and forget who they were and begin to talk differently than they do here," Pearce recently told a gathering of the Chaves County Republican Women in Roswell.

One big question is whether the GOP can capitalize on the free-floating hostility embodied by the anti-incumbent "tea party" movement to seize back control of Congress, four years after Democrats won power. Republicans need to win 40 House seats and 11 in the Senate -- which, for now, seems unlikely.
I personally don't expect majority control to flip to the Republcans next year. That is, not in the House. Forty seats is a huge margin, and actually despite all the glum talk for the Democrats, I think it's going to be anti-incumbent more than anything. That's why what happens with the tea parties is so crucial. Democrats fear the protesters so much that they haven't gotten past demonizing them as "teabaggers." Republicans desperately want to coopt the tea party populism for their own ends, more electoral than policy. We have too many Republicans who diss the grassroots as fringe, for example, the RNC and folks like Newt Gingrich. But if it's one thing I've learned with all of my activism this year, tea party patriots, are in no mood to compromise on principles, and frankly, they'll mobilize in even greater numbers in the months leading up to the 2010 midterms.

Read the rest of
the article, in any case.


I got this e-mail in my college in-box the other day, "PLEASE FIGURE OUT OUR GRADES." There was no text body attached, although the message was signed. I submitted semester grades today. I do all grading myself (no TAs), and I don't use a computer calclulator to assign the semester total (since I add lots of additional subjective measures to the final letter grade). Still, it's a rapid-fire culture we're in, and students want their grades, and they want them now!

Perhaps I'll adopt Daniel Solove's "staircase method" of grading next semester. See, "A Guide to Grading Exams":

The key to this method is a good toss. Without a good toss, it is difficult to get a good spread for the grading curve. It is also important to get the toss correct on the first try. Exams can get crumpled if tossed too much. They begin to look as though the professor actually read them, and this is definitely to be avoided. Additional tosses are also inefficient and expend needless time and energy. Note the toss in Figure 3 below. This is an example of a toss of considerable skill — obviously the result of years of practice.

Note in Figure 3 above that the exams are evenly spread out, enabling application of the curve. Here, however, is where the experts diverge. Some contend that the curve ought to be applied as in Figure 4 below, with the exams at the bottom of the staircase to receive a lower grade than the ones higher up on the staircase.

RTWT at the link.

Hat Tip:
Glenn Reynolds.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device...

I wouldn't have thought twice about it, if it weren't for CNN's report, "'Sent From the Candidate's BlackBerry.' Really?" According to the report:
A mass e-mail was sent on Tuesday from Carly Fiorina's senatorial campaign, appearing to not only come from the candidate herself, but from her personal BlackBerry.

While most campaigns send e-mails appearing to be written from the candidate, this one took the extra step of adding at the bottom, "Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device." This tag has raised questions about why the campaign, and others which have included similar tags, would take the extra step to tell readers what is highly unlikely: it was sent directly from Fiorina's BlackBerry.

The e-mail also had embedded links and a campaign FEC disclaimer inside a box; both functions are not available on a BlackBerry.

Fiorina's communications director, Julie Soderlund, did not say whether or not the e-mail was actually sent from the candidate and her BlackBerry.

"This was an e-mail from Carly to her supporters asking for their support at the end of the year," Soderlund told CNN. "It's consistent with what many other candidates are doing at the end of the filing period."
I've copied the "Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device" into the title of this post. I've been getting these e-mails for a while, unsolicited, and I expressed my unhappiness with Ms. Fiorina in an earlier essay, "Carly Fiorina: The Next Dede Scozzafava?" I admire her as a person, but we don't need another RINO in the U.S. Senate. And if this is really a fraudulent solicitation, that's an even deeper black mark on her reputation.

In any case, here's the e-mail in full, from my in-box. Do not contribute to her campaign if you're looking to stop the Democratic agenda:

Carly Fiorina to me

This is a quick note to let you know Thursday night marks the end of our first campaign reporting deadline.

I hope you will consider
making a donation of any amount up to the $2400 legal limit to help our campaign reach our fundraising goal by Thursday at midnight.

Since announcing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate, I have been humbled by the outpouring of support that has come from every corner of California as well as those across the country looking for new leadership in Washington.

This is only the beginning. We're taking our fight to Barbara Boxer and holding her accountable for her record of putting special interests ahead of the citizens of California. I hope you'll join my campaign before the end of the year with a
generous donation by following this link. Thank you and have a Happy New Year.

With warm regards,
Carly Fiorina

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Please visit
this page if you want to remove yourself from the email list.

Contributions to Carly for California are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

Paid for by Carly for California

More at Memeorandum.

Check DeVore's website is here. (he's the tea party favorite in the primary). If folks are making campaign contributions, he deserves your support.

The Left's Permanent War on the War on Terrorism

That's not my title, actually, it's Ace's: "The Left's Permanent War on the War on Terrorism."

I can claim a little originality here, since my Spencer Ackerman post from the other day is pretty much the font for Ace's philosophizing, and
William Jacobsen's work as well. (See, "Leftists Spin Attempted Northwest Airlines Attack as Evidence of Fake Al-Qaeda Threat.") Ackerman checks my blog once in a while, but for little good, it turns out. He's been making the rounds apparently, at the usual leftist haunts. He was interviewed at communist Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, and here he is on Bloggingheads with Eli Lake:

Ackerman looks about 22 years-old in the video (he's about 29, actually), so being wet behind the ears might explain some of his idiocy. He's been forwarding some cockamamie theory that the Abdulmutallab security breach "demonstrates a policy failure more than an intelligence failure."

And you know, that gets the causal relationship almost perfectly backwards. Listen to this
interview with former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff. It's an intelligence failure of the first order, and the buck stops with President Obama, who needs to "light a fire under all of these agencies":

And note this is leftist CNN interviewing a former GOP cabinet members, so we can put questions of journalistic bias to the side.

The fact is, Spencer Ackerman and his allies, like radical Matthew Yglesias, are dangerous people. As I've noted many times, they're literally allied with jihad in a socialist/Islamist death embrace. Ace of Spades HQ
has more, discussing what these fifth columists are all about:
The left has four political goals:

1) To reverse the public perception that they are a bunch of sissy-pants (not Sassypants, which is altogether different).

2) To de-emphasize terrorism as a media issue, because terror concerns play well for conservatives. (See Goal 1 and the sissy-pants problem.)

3) To sell the public, politically, on a hateful policy of treating terrorists nicely, because, like, Dostoyevsky said something like "you can judge a nation by the way it treats psychotic murder-cultists intent on killing as many innocent civilians as possible for no other reason except to masturbate in human blood."

4) To actually reduce terrorism, because doing so achieves Goal 1 and Goal 2, and also would be a great selling point for Goal 3. (See?! It makes no sense but it works!)

Before getting any further, let us note the incandescently obvious that Goals 1-3 are Major Goals and Goal 4 is a sort of "Nice but Not Necessary" sort of thing. If they can accomplish Goals 1-3, in terms of politics, they're all set. If they can sell the public on the idea that a little bit of mass-murder never killed anyone (except for the people it actually killed, of course), they can pretty ignore Goal 4.

Goal 4 is an entirely secondary proposition which merely assists in Goals 1-3. If you nail Goals 1-3, you really don't need Goal 4. And you can pretty much tell they know that by their emphasis on the first three, and blowing off altogether the fourth. ("The system worked," you've no doubt heard.)

Now, on to the slightly less obvious stuff. Slightly.

To achieve Goals 1-3, they have settled on a basic, stupid, unserious, unpersuasive, jackass political message: Only little pussy-fairies are afraid of terrorists and terrorism; real tough strong he-men types, like us on the left, laugh at it as a big joke. Don't you want to join the super-tough guys who laugh in the face of mass-murder? (As long as it's mass-murder killing other people, of course.) So join us, and laugh at terror, be one of the Real Tough Guys with the Cocks of Burnished Blued Steel, and just put your silly-ass concerns about terrorism away. Let's focus on what really matters -- universal health care and the fundamental restructuring of the economy into something more socialistic -- and let us not be distracted by the childish antics of some Muslim head-cases who are, after all, just "acting up" in a particularly aggressive fashion.

Oh, and of course: Let us also be so bad-ass and Rambo-licious as to shower terrorists with kindness and good treatment, because, you know, if you're really a super nail-spitting fire-breathing Hard Case like us, you never let a bit of righteous fury interfere with your civility and dedication to social justice.

Endlessly repeated, endlessly repeated. It's all so stupid. But apparently some blogger -- or someone -- struck up on this idea in around 2006 (around then -- that's when I seem to remember it popping up) and the idea caught on like wildfire.

They really think that with a little "re-branding" they can solve their perennial Terrorist Gap problem.

There's more at the link.

I'd only add that one has to look at the larger ideological context. Folks like Ackerman and Matthew Yglesias are communists. They want to turn the U.S. into a post-Judeo-Christian society with a command economy. All the world's problems will automatically come to an end when the U.S. imperialist expropriator is brought down to the full "unexceptional" condition the Obama administration has offered as "change." Thank goodness for the tea party patriots, and common sense Americans, who continue to resist this abominable leftist agenda. See, Rasmussen, for example, "
58% Favor Waterboarding of Plane Terrorist To Get Information." (Via Memeorandum.)

Folks You Meet at the Gaza Freedom March

Okay, remember my post the other day, "Gaza Freedom March - Toronto"? I posted some photos from Blazing Cat Fur along with some general information. Mostly, these folks are hardline communists. Anti-Semites too, with this Blazing follow-up providing clues: "F&CK THE JDL":
Aid requested in identifying this man ...

Now, some commenters at Blazing's previous post on this had some bright ideas. These were shot down accordingly. See, "Toronto Gaza Freedom March Alert - Can You Identify this Man?" Blazing did not photograph the anti-Semitic f-bomb man, but check the long comment thread for the full engagement.

And shoot Blazing an e-mail (listed at the sidebar) if you know the identity of the man in question.

And in related news, from the New York Times, "Egypt Allows Foreign Activists to March Into Gaza." And, from the commies, "ALL or NONE - Gaza Freedom March Rejects Egyptian Offer to Allow 100 Through."

The Classical Liberal: 'Top 10 Hotties of 2009'

I haven't linked to him in a while, especially since I retired from formal Rule 5 blogging last summer. But The Classical Liberal's got an interesting roundup of the "Top 10 Hotties of 2009." It's way worth a look. Number 2 on the list is Kate Beckinsale, definitely a beauty. For some reason, though, I don't think her filmography does her justice. (Maybe horror flicks produce good income, but I'm more of a heavy drama and romance kinda guy). Anyway, there's a very recent collection of Beckinsale images at Starpulse:

And Theo Spark's got a beauty of a looker up for his "Bedtime Totty ..." Check it out!

And now that I think about it, a top-ten list of favorite beauties is a good idea. I'm running out of time for a 2009 edition, so perhaps I'll do "Best Dreamgirls of 2010." Tune in for that later!

Added: The Blog Prof links with, "Linkaround 12-31-2009."

Finland New Year's Eve Massacre: Muslim Shooter Ibrahim Shkupolli, Dismissed as 'Lone Muslim', Alleged as KLA Terrorist Wanted by Serbia

The "lone wacko" theory is being quickly deployed by Islamist apologists following the bloody killings at Helsinki's Espoo Mall today. Roger Boyes, at the Times of London jumps to dismiss any inkling of Islamist radicalism (with bold emphasis added):
The New Year's Eve massacre in Finland was described by police as a case of domestic violence, a bloody crime of passion.

And so it was:a middle-aged man rebuffed by his ex-girlfriend broke a restraining order, killed her, then shot four of her colleagues at a supermarket before, it seems, taking his own life.

But behind the horrific crime of an apparently deranged individual there was the deep-rooted problem of social exclusion. The clue is in the name of the suspected gunman: Ibrahim Shkupolli.

Finnish sources say he was a Pristina-born Kosovo Albanian, one of the many who have settled in Finland. And therein lies a story.

Actually, that's hardly all of the story. Ibrahim Shkupolli, a suspected KLA Islamist, is an Albanian refugee from Kosovo and known drug dealer:
Police have confirmed to YLE that a sixth person found dead in Espoo on Thursday was the perpetrator of a shooting rampage at the Sello shopping mall. Four people were shot dead at the shopping centre on Thursday. A fifth victim, an ex-girlfriend of the shooter, was found dead in a flat in Espoo.

Following the incident, police began a manhunt for the suspect, Ibrahim Shkupolli. They said he was considered armed and dangerous, and had run-ins with the police in the past ....

According to an eyewitness, one or more people were shot at the Prisma grocery store. One employee was seen lying on the floor in the upper level of the shop. A man dressed in black was seen walking toward the Citymarket grocery shop.

And, at Origins of Islam, "Alleged Saudi sponsored UCK (Kosovo muslim terrorist org.) mass-murderer Ibrahim Shkupolli allegedly also murders at least five in Finland today."

Ibrahim Shkupolli is a UCK/KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army - i.e. muslim terrorists) veteran. He killed 32 Serb civilians in the Qela village in 1997. Also fought against Serb police. He is wanted in Serbia already since 1995.

That's a translation of Finnish website, and there's speculation this is an unfounded rumor (Serbian source is here, and a link from the comments). But if accurate, Shkupolli could very well have previous ties to Middle East terrorist networks. See, "German Intelligence and the CIA supported Al Qaeda sponsored Terrorists in Yugoslavia":

Both the CIA and German intelligence (BND) supported the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda.

This report by the German TV ZDF Network, reviewed by Mira Beham, is revealing in many regards.

First the report corroborates earlier analysis on the role of the BND and the CIA in supporting the KLA, several years prior as well as in the wake of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.

Second, it further documents and confirms the KLA's links to Al Qaeda and the role of the latter in the Kosovo conflict ...

That would be the Clinton administration's intelligence services. See, "The Kosovo Liberation Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Group with Terror, Drug Ties?" And, "The Connections between the KLA, Heroin and Al Qaida."

Plus, at Gates of Vienna, "Culturally Enriched Mass Murder in Finland."

See also, Doctor Bulldog, "
Islamic Terrorism Strikes Finland":
I know, just because he was a muslim doesn’t mean islam played a role in his decision to commit mass murder (yeah right).
Also, at Astute Bloggers, "IBRAHIM SHKUPOLLI, DRUG DEALING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT MURDERS 5," Gateway Pundit, "Muslim Immigrant Opens Fire – Kills 5 in Finnish Mall,," and Atlas Shrugs, "Helsinki: Bosnian Muslim Slaughters Five in Shopping Mall - Including Ex-Wife - Before Killing Himself."

And via
Memeorandum, see Barce Pundit, "ANOTHER MASSACRE."

Leftists Cheer for Limbaugh's Death

Yeah, yeah. I know. Both sides do it, right?

No matter how many times radicals say it, there remains an unmatched demonological death-wish culture on the left. DaTechGuy predicted it yesterday, with reference to Rush Limbaugh. See, "
Let’s see how nice liberals can be…": that Rush apparently is in the hospital with chest pains...
DaTechGuy then updates with Ann Althouse's post, "'I hope he dies'." Ann links to Lee Doren's tweet from last night:

More at Memeorandum. Also, at Legal Insurrection, "They Shouted 'You Die!' (there's a little roundup of reactions there). And, Snark and Boobs, "Rush Limbaugh in Serious Condition. The Left? Disgustingly Giddy," and Pirate's Cove, "Limbaugh Hospitalized, Left Hopes For His Death."

See also, "
Socialism's Psychopathology of Death and Destruction."

Rush Limbaugh 'Resting Comfortably' at Honolulu Hospital: Limbaugh Taken to Hospital for Chest Pains, Reportedly on Medication for Back Pain."

Old Jeans Better Than Sex?

Via Philippe Ohlund, at the Telegraph UK, "Women think fitting into old jeans is 'better than sex'":

More than a quarter of British women believe fitting into an old pair of jeans again would feel better than sex, according to research.

More than a third (35 per cent) of those surveyed admitted owning a pair of ''trophy'' jeans they used to fit into and kept in the hope they would slim down enough to wear.
Asked how managing to put them back on would feel, 29.1 per cent said it would be better than sex, 28.9 per cent thought it would beat a promotion, 20.6 per cent believed it would top a best friend's wedding, 20.3 per cent said it would feel better than a lottery win and 11.1 per cent thought it would beat a marriage proposal.

The poll by cereal brand Special K also revealed that 30 per cent of women fantasised more about slimming back into their ''trophy'' jeans than about Hollywood heartthrobs such as George Clooney or Brad Pitt.

The survey showed that on average women own five pairs of jeans, with 10 per cent of women claiming their jeans have outlasted their longest relationship.

Laura Bryant, from Special K, said: ''Women hold a deep attachment to that one pair of jeans which they know they look and feel great in.

''They use them as a benchmark and a great motivational tool when slimming and it doesn't matter how old the pair is.
Actually, I think guys would take the sex. More on that, here:
If women are from Venus, men are -- well -- men. Seventy percent of men think about sex every day -- double the rate among women. Indeed, 43 percent of men think about sex several times a day; just 13 percent of women do that. Eighty-three percent of men enjoy sex "a great deal"; that falls to 59 percent of women. Women, though, are equally likely to express satisfaction with their sex lives.

Rachel Maddow's Number One Security Threat

From David Forsmark, "Rachel Maddow’s Number One Security Threat – Pete Hoekstra?":

In the aftermath of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an airliner by radical Islamist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Rachel Maddow alerted her audience to the REAL security threat facing the United States.

Guess which of the following concerned Rachel:

  1. That the TSA is still not using intelligent profiling techniques that have kept Israeli flights terrorist-free for decades?
  2. That Abdulmutallab was brought a lawyer by the Feds while he was still in his hospital bed—better treatment than a white collar criminal– and not subject to military or intelligence-style questioning while vital information might still be obtained?
  3. That Congressman Peter Hoekstra, the biggest thorn in the side of ACLU and pre-9/11 mentality liberals– who is running for Governor of Michigan– brought up this incident in a fundraising letter to supporters?

If you chose anything but number 3, then you don’t know Rachel.

The reaction of the Left to the Christmas bomber crystallizes once again something that has been true since at least the 1950s—liberals rarely think fighting any foreign threat, no matter how deadly, repressive, or expansionist they may be, is as important as defeating the world’s real evil obstacle to progress and utopia– Republicans!

More at the link. Maddow's attack on Hoekstra's here:

Michael Yon: New Years Eve Tribute, 2009, From Afghanistan

My good friend Kenneth Davenport solemnly recommends:

Please take a moment tonight to remember the fallen heroes of 2009 who fight to keep us free and safe from those who mean to harm us.
Kenneth directs us to Michael Yon's photo-essay, "Into Thine Hand I Commit My Spirit :
Arghandab, Afghanistan
New Year's Eve, 2009

On this small base surrounded by a mixture of enemy and friendly territory, a memorial has been erected just next to the Chapel. Inside the tepee are 21 photos of 21 soldiers killed during the first months of a year-long tour of duty. The fallen will belong forever to the honor rolls of the 1-17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and they will join the sacred list of names of those who have given their lives in service of the United States of America.

The full tribute is here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Obama's Security 'Breach'

From the Wall Street Journal, "Obama's Security 'Breach': Returning Gitmo's Detainees to Yemen Defies Common Sense":

President Obama has belatedly declared that the near miss above Detroit constituted "a catastrophic breach of security" and ordered a review of America's intelligence efforts. We're glad to hear it, but let's hope the Commander in Chief also rethinks his own approach to counterterrorism.

Recent events have exposed the shortcomings of treating terror as a law enforcement problem and rushing to close Guantanamo Bay. A new wave of jihadists is coming of age, inspiring last month's deadly attack at Ft. Hood and nearly bringing down Northwest Flight 253, and next time we may not be so lucky.

Their latest sanctuary lies in unruly Yemen, headquarters for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which last year pulled off a series of local bombings, including at the U.S. embassy in the capital Sana, killing 13. The al Qaeda chapter in Yemen has re-emerged under the leadership of a former secretary to Osama bin Laden.

Along with a dozen other al Qaeda members, he was allowed to escape from a Yemeni jail in 2006. His deputy, Said Ali al-Shihri, was a Saudi inmate at Gitmo who after his release "graduated" from that country's terrorist "rehabilitation" program before moving to Yemen last year. About a fifth of the so-called graduates have ended back on the Saudi terror most-wanted list, according to a GAO study this year.

U.S. investigators are looking into whether Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian would-be bomber, was in contact with al-Shihri and another Guantanamo alum who turned up at the AQAP, Muhammad al-Awfi. The week before Christmas, Yemen agreed, presumably under U.S. prodding, to take back six more Guantanamo detainees. Ninety-seven of the 210 left at Gitmo are from Yemen, and if this transfer goes smoothly, the Administration wants to repatriate many more. Most are such hard terror cases that this year even Saudi Arabia rejected U.S. entreaties to accept them.

A Pentagon analysis, released in May, showed that one in seven freed Gitmo detainees—61 in all—returned to terrorism. Al-Shihri and Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, the Taliban's operations leader in southern Afghanistan, are merely the best known. The Pentagon has since updated its findings, and we're told the numbers are even worse.

Yet the White House has resisted calls by Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees to declassify this revised report—no doubt because that would make closing Gitmo harder. Congress should insist on its release.

This second generation of al Qaeda also makes good use of modern technology for recruitment. A student from a wealthy family, Abdulmutallab was exposed to radical Islam through the Internet, and according to some reports was a "big fan" of the imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, who ran a popular jihadi Web site and Facebook page. This 38-year-old cleric, who was born in the U.S., is the spiritual leader of AQAP.

Al-Awlaki was also in email contact with Major Nidal Hasan in the months before the Army doctor shot and killed 13 U.S. soldiers at Ft. Hood. U.S. intelligence intercepted emails between the imam and the Major, but the FBI decided that they didn't constitute a threat. We don't know if Abdulmuttab also communicated with al-Awlaki, but this too is something Congress should strive to find out.

One encouraging development is that the U.S. and Yemen governments are finally working together against jihadists. A series of recent raids supported by the U.S. have killed more than 50 suspected al Qaeda fighters, including suicide bombers. Al-Awlaki and the top two AQAP leaders were possibly killed in one of the strikes, though their fate is unclear.
RTWT at the link.

5-Year-Old Miniature Schnauzer Saves Owner's Life in Naked Dog Killer Case

I saw this report on the afternoon news. It's clear that Julie Donnelley, the deeply saddened owner of the Kokanee, the 5-year-old mini-Schnauzer, genuinely credits her dog for saving her life. Here's the video, from KABC-TV Los Angeles, "Crazed Man Kills Dog, Runs Naked Into OC Club":

The Los Angeles Times also the wire report, "Calif. Deputies Say Man Savagely Kills Dog, Runs Naked in Tennis Club, Pours Coffee on Head":
A man savagely killed a dog, ran naked through a tennis club and poured hot coffee on his head before he was finally arrested early Wednesday, Orange County sheriff's deputies said.

Bayron Reyes Lopez, 26, of San Clemente, was hospitalized after being captured at the tennis club where he worked as a maintenance man, sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Deputies got the first call about the man at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday when there were reports of a loud radio at his apartment. Amormino said deputies believe he jumped from a third-story window to get away, and was unhurt.

Just after 6 a.m. Judy Donnelley called to say a "strange" man had approached her, and when her 5-year-old mini schnauzer named Coco intervened, the man killed the dog, hitting, choking and "repeatedly beating her on asphalt in front of me."

"She saved my life," Donnelley told KCAL-TV. "I don't know how to thank her." She put flowers on the street where her dog died.

Minutes later, other callers reported a naked man running through the Rancho San Clemente Tennis Club and pouring hot coffee on his head. That's where deputies caught up with him, Amormino said.
The Times' report says the woman's name is "Judy" Donnelley, but the Orange County Register also reports the dog owner's name as Julie Donnelley.

Penélope Cruz in 'Broken Embraces'

I'm heading out of here to see Penélope Cruz in "Broken Embraces," a Spanish fim by directer Pedro Almodóvar. I used to attend French films all the time, before I was married. It's good to get away from American cinema from time to time. My interest today, however, is not so much international art, but Ms. Cruz herself. I love her! I'll post a review tonight. Here's the trailer, with subtitles:

On Obama's Watch: 'Afghan Suicide Blast Kills Eight U.S. Civilians'

The politicization of national security is really accelerating today, with Democrats blaming former President George W. Bush for the attempted bombing of Northwest 253. See, "Dems Blame Bush Admin For Terror Attempt," and "EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS GOOD NEWS FOR REPUBLICANS ..." And others from the previous administration are causing some aggressive prevarication on the left. See, "Dick Cheney needs a reminder - 9/11 on his watch."

But we're a year into the Obama administration. Time for blame is long past. Just today, a devastating suicide blast has killed at least eight in Afghanistan. At the New York Times, "
Afghan Suicide Blast Kills Eight U.S. Civilians," and from CNN, "8 U.S. deaths at military base in Afghanistan" (via Memeorandum):

Eight Americans were killed in a suicide bombing Wednesday at a military base in eastern Afghanistan, according to a U.S. military official and a U.S. Embassy official.

A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest attacked Forward Operating Base Chapman near the district of Khost in Khost province, said a third official, who asked not to be named.

The military official said the eight people were not from the military.

There were conflicting reports as to whether the bomber walked into the dining facility or the gym at the base.
Folks will recall President Obama's disastrous indecision on the surge for Afghanistan. While the administration dithered, we've seen an escalation of bombings in the main Afghan theater, and Pakistan has deteriorated to a near-collapsed state, with audacious Taliban incursions and bombings almost daily.

As I've reported all week, the Democratic-left is not serious on national security. If we need partisanship, it should be in coordinating pressure on the Carter-esque Obama national security team to act, and to act with vigor and dispatch. Eight Americans lost their lives today (as of this writing), and nearly 300 died on Christmas Day. Since then leftists have been ridiculing conservatives for "wingnuttia," but while these Democratic idiots yammer away, global jihad tightens its grip on civilization.

I'm almost embarrassed to be an American with these people in charge. But at least we know Obambi's almost certainly a one-term loser.

RELATED: The Rhetorican, "Only One Man Can Stop 'The Dithering'..."

UPDATE: From the comments:

Rick Derris said...

"...and nearly 300 died on Christmas Day."

I'm sure you meant to write that "...and 300 nearly died on Christmas Day", Professor Douglas. And I also find it a bit disturbing that you seem to be blaming Obama for the American deaths in Afghanistan rather than the crazy religious fanatic who actually committed the crime, ie the enemy. Obama is not that enemy.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs: Abdulmutallab 'BS-ing' al Qaeda Ties

The cached version is here, "Passengers Took Security Into Their Own Hands." Charles Johnson spends his times trolling around the Internet, looking for freaked out "wingnut hysteria," and here we have LGF dismissing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's radical Islamist ties. This was on Saturday, and by that time we already knew the suspect's deep ties to the al Qaeda network. Recall the early editorial at London's Telegraph, "Analysis: Detroit Terror Attack is a Major Intelligence and Security Failure." Later that day, I wrote, "Revisiting the 'Terrorist Threat Debate'."

Perhaps C.J. will issue a retraction, like TMZ did for the fake Kennedy "exposé." I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile, here's more on Abdulmutallab, from the Times of London, "Al-Qaeda ‘groomed Abdulmutallab in London’." (Via Memeorandum).

Hat Tip:
Atlas Shrugs. And Mike at Cold Fury has more, "Just wonderin'..." Added: Dan Collins links, "You Can Die..."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to Deradicalize Islamist Extremists?

I'm having a hard time taking seriously this article by Harvard's Jessica Stern. Her essay is titled, "Mind Over Martyr: How to Deradicalize Islamist Extremists." Considering all that's happened in the last week -- and not counting Fort Hood and earlier incidents -- I'm convinced that the Ivory Tower is a bit removed from what's happening on the ground in counterterrorism. And it's too bad, actually, since Stern's considered a top expert on international terrorism (and the author of The Ultimate Terrorists).

The idea is that with proper care and intellectual feeding, the most hardline Islamist militants can be rehabilitated. Stern's extremely sympathetic to the leftist criticism of the American experience at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. And because she's an academic, I'm giving her a little slack on this. But when she gives examples of how terrorist rehab and social reintegration works, it all just falls apart, baby. Take a look at the introduction, for example (and I'll just go ahead and highlight in bold the most preposterous section):

Is it possible to deradicalize terrorists and their potential recruits? Saudi Arabia, a pioneer in rehabilitation efforts, claims that it is. Since 2004, more than 4,000 militants have gone through Saudi Arabia's programs, and the graduates have been reintegrated into mainstream society much more successfully than ordinary criminals. Governments elsewhere in the Middle East and throughout Europe and Southeast Asia have launched similar programs for neo-Nazis, far-right militants, narcoterrorists, and Islamist terrorists, encouraging them to abandon their radical ideology or renounce their violent means or both.

The U.S. government would do well to better understand the successes and failures of such efforts, especially those that target Islamist terrorists. This is important, first, because, as General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, has noted, the United States "cannot kill [its] way to victory" in the struggle against al Qaeda and related groups. Although military action, especially covert military action, is an essential part of the strategy against the Islamist terrorist movement, the United States' main goal should be to stop the movement from growing. Terrorists do not fight on traditional battlefields; they fight among civilians, which increases the risks of collateral damage. Indeed, Islamist terrorists provoke the governments they oppose into responding in ways that seem to prove that these governments want to humiliate or harm Muslims. Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, and "extraordinary rendition" have become for Muslim youth symbols of the United States' belligerence and hypocrisy.

Second, the effectiveness of deradicalization programs aimed at detained terrorists have direct and immediate effects on U.S. national security. This is especially true regarding the detainees at the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Because it is difficult to gather evidence that is usable in court, some truly bad actors, along with some not so bad ones who have been held unfairly, will inevitably be released. Effective deradicalization programs could help make such individuals less dangerous. Abdallah al-Ajmi, who was repatriated to Kuwait in 2005 on the order of a U.S. judge and was acquitted of terrorism charges by a Kuwaiti court, subsequently carried out a suicide bombing on Iraqi security forces in Mosul that killed 13 Iraqis. Had he received the kind of reintegration assistance and follow-up (including surveillance) now available in Saudi Arabia after his release, he might not have traveled to Iraq.

Third, the success, or failure, of terrorism-prevention programs outside the United States is important to Americans. For one thing, people who carry European passports can enter the United States relatively easily, and so the presence of terrorists in Europe can threaten U.S. national security. For another, terrorism-prevention programs presently under way in, for example, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, could be models for at-risk groups in the United States, such as the Somali community in Minnesota, from which some young men have been recruited to fight alongside al Shabab, the radical Islamist organization that controls southern Somalia and claims to be aligned with al Qaeda. These men do not seem to be plotting attacks in the West, but it is important to think now about how to integrate Somalis into American society more fully in order to reduce the chances that they will carry out attacks in the United States.

The fight against al Qaeda and related groups is not over: Saudi Arabia's deputy interior minister was nearly killed by a terrorist posing as a repentant militant in August 2009; in September, U.S. government officials interrupted a plot in New York and Denver that they believed was the most significant since 9/11; and in October, the French police arrested a nuclear physicist employed at the CERN accelerator, near Geneva, who reportedly had suggested French targets to members of the Algerian terrorist group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. But in the long term, the most important factor in limiting terrorism will be success at curtailing recruitment to and retention in extremist movements.

Now is the moment to try. Counterterrorism efforts have significantly eroded al Qaeda's strength in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia since the "war on terror" began in 2001. U.S. Predator strikes in Pakistan have killed top al Qaeda leaders, disrupting essential communications between the group's core and its affiliates and new recruits. Testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs last September, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that such activities were "potentially disrupting plots that are under way" and "leaving leadership vacuums that are increasingly difficult to fill."
Look at that section I've highlighted. Abdallah al-Ajmi? I've written about him before. See, "Abdullah Saleh Al-Ajmi: From Guantanamo to Martyrdom." Below is the complex he blew up, Combat Outpost Inman:

According to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, al-Ajmi's attack "remains the single most heinous act of violence committed by a former Guantanamo detainee." Chandrasekaran's essay basically blames the United States for al-Ajmi's terrorism: "Was his descent into unrepentant radicalism an unintended consequence of his incarceration?" Chandrasekaran also quotes Washington attorney Thomas Wilner, "Guantanamo took a kid -- a kid who wasn't all that bad -- and it turned him into a hostile, hardened individual ..."

Wasn't all that bad? Just like Jessica Stern's deradicalized extremists? The article just barely mentions that al-Ajmi was never subjected to severe forms of enhanced interrogation. Actually, it sounds like the kid got a little homesick. Maybe the American grunts hurt his feelings. Sure, no doubt he just hitched up with violent jihad after bawling his eyes on the shoulders of some of Camp Gitmo's most hardened terrorist inmates. But we've got to go easy on these folks! No personal responsibility here, you know? Americans have got to shoulder responsibillity for the Mosul bombing from 2008? Thirteen dead? Blame President Bush!

And how about these reports, from ABC News, "
Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S. - Former Guantanamo Prisoners Believed Behind Northwest Airlines Bomb Plot; Sent to Saudi Arabia in 2007," and CNN, "Former Gitmo Detainees Investigated in Airline Bombing Plot."

According to ABC's report:

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia, where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials. ABC News described their enrollment in the art therapy program in a January report.
It turns out PBS did a rave puff program on the jihadi rehab initiative. See Pat in Shreveport, "Jihad Art Rehab." Amazingly, she cites an article from Psychology Today, "Jihad Rehab: Can Art Therapy Cure Terrorism?"

Pamela Geller also comments, "This is why releasing enemy combatants is a mentally deranged leftist policy."

Perhaps Professor Stern will respond to this post. Maybe she'll want to revisit her "deradicalization" thesis, no?

A Murderous Ideology

From the Telegraph UK, "Detroit terror attack: A murderous ideology tolerated for too long":
Friday's attempt to blow up a transatlantic airliner by a British-educated Islamist was foiled by the bravery of its passengers and crew. We cannot assume that we will be lucky next time. And the indications are that there will be a next time. According to police sources, 25 British-born Muslims are currently in Yemen being trained in the art of bombing planes. But most of these terrorists did not acquire their crazed beliefs in the Islamic world: they were indoctrinated in Britain. Indeed, thousands of young British Muslims support the use of violence to further the Islamist cause – and this despite millions of pounds poured by the Government into projects designed to prevent Islamic extremism.

Is it time for a fundamental rethink of Britain's attitude towards domestic Islamism? Consider this analogy. Suppose that, in several London universities, Right‑wing student societies were allowed to invite neo-Nazi speakers to address teenagers. Meanwhile, churches in poor white neighbourhoods handed over their pulpits to Jew-hating admirers of Adolf Hitler, called for the execution of homosexuals, preached the intellectual inferiority of women, and blessed the murder of civilians. What would the Government do? It would bring the full might of the criminal law against activists indoctrinating young Britons with an inhuman Nazi ideology – and the authorities that let them. Any public servants complicit in this evil would be hounded from their jobs.

Jihadist Islamism is also a murderous ideology, comparable to Nazism in many respects. The British public realises this; so do the intelligence services. Yet because it arises out of a worldwide religion – most of whose followers are peaceful – politicians and the public sector shrink from treating its ideologues as criminal supporters of violence. Instead, the Government throws vast sums of money at the Muslim community in order to ensure that what is effectively a civil war between extremists and moderates is won by the latter. This policy – supported by all the main political parties – does not seem to be working. The authorities, lacking specialist knowledge, sometimes turn for advice to "moderate" Muslims who have extreme sympathies; supporters of al-Qaeda are paid to disseminate their ideology to young people.

Radical Islamist leaders are not stupid: they know how to play this system. The indoctrination of students carries on under the noses of public servants who are terrified of being labelled Islamophobic or racist. Therefore they fail to do their duty, which is to protect Muslims and non-Muslims alike from a terrorist ideology. If providing that protection requires fewer "consultations" with "community leaders" and more arrests, then so be it.

Cartoon Credit: Michael Ramirez.

Hat Tip: Saber Point.

Medicare and Medicaid: A Stark Warning on Society's Future

Jon Walker, at Firedoglake, when comparing Medicare to Medicaid, asks, "Why has Medicare been so much more successful?" He disfavors Medicaid, describing it as largely a failure, "the bastard stepchild of the two programs."

Walker then tries to explain why Medicare is supposedly so much more "successful" than Medicaid, arguing:

I suspect it succeeded for three main reasons: It is a fully federal program, it helps a broad cross section of American people, and it has a sufficiently large base of active users. By being a fully federal program, Medicare is equally as good in red states as it is in blue states. It was not carved up, poorly executed, improperly regulated, or underfunded in many states for ideological reasons, or out of budgetary necessity. Being a fully federal program was very important, and made sure its success with felt by people equally across the entire country.

Having Medicare serve everyone over 65 gave it a strong cross-section of supporters. It benefits the rich as well as poor. It helps everyone–from truck drivers and factory worker, to lawyers, politicians, and doctors–this has ensured that at least some of the people on Medicare are well-organized, politically active members of society. Finally, Medicare covers roughly 13% of Americans, and a greater percentage of voters. This is a large enough chunk voters that it makes messing with Medicare very dangerous politically.
There's a lot wrong with this. For one thing, Walker fails to note the difference between entitlements and means-tested (public assistance) programs. Medicare, as an entitlement, is perceived as "earned" by beneficiaries. Folks have worked over their lifetimes, qualified for Social Security benefits, and thus the Medicare add-on health program as well. Medicaid is basically welfare, and there's never been a broad-based level of popular support for it. Walker's right to note the middle-class basis of Medicare's support, but that has little to do with whether the program is run by the federal government or the states. The key issue is the welfare-dependency concept itself. With Medicaid being one program out of many in the smorgasboard of state-level public assistance hand-outs, taxpayers have long resisted the increasing demands on their earnings to pay for programs that are not infrequently abused by those with chronic unemployment and resistance to self-sufficiency, as well as among illegal immigrant communities who use emergency rooms as out-patient clinics. California has been known to exceed $1 billion annually on Medicare outlays for the undocumented. Clearly, the nexus between poverty, healthcare, and border control is not something leftists are eager to talk about.

But back to Medicare. All is not rosy with the President Johnson's social policy progeny. In fact, Medicare itself is a major contributor to the out-of-control cost system that current efforts at healthcare reform hope to remedy. As Eric Cohen explained, in his 2004 article, "
The Politics and Realities of Medicare":

First, Medicare is primarily a federally funded, third-party payer, fee-for-service program. In other words, when seniors get sick, they go to the doctor and the government pays most of the bill. Beneficiaries pay some premiums: an $876 deductible for major hospital visits under Part A; $66.60 per month, a $100 annual deductible, and 20 percent co-payments for most outpatient treatment under Part B. But the value of the government subsidies rises the more care one uses. Seniors who participate in traditional Medicare (roughly 88 percent) have the freedom to see any doctor who will see them. This is generally wonderful for beneficiaries: They have access to all the care they desire. But it is problematic for society as a whole, since there are limited incentives for seniors to cut their own health-care costs, and there is limited room within the heavily regulated system for private insurers to improve efficiency by creating health-care networks or tailoring services to individual needs. This economic problem will only get worse, many believe, as expensive new medical technologies become available, as the percentage of the national population on Medicare increases, and as the average age of Medicare beneficiaries rises and their health deteriorates.

Second, Medicare is a major part of the "hidden subsidy" and "price control" system that now shapes American health care. The government sets the prices by fiat for all the medical services covered under Medicare--with different physician groups lobbying constantly for increases to the reimbursement rate for their own specialties, and the government trying constantly to keep up with ongoing changes in the nature of medical care. This system allows government to exert some control over Medicare costs--though reimbursement cuts in the past have often resulted in reduced access to care, reduced quality of care, or increased billing for a larger volume of services. And of course, government doesn't get the prices right. This means the system only works because those services that are over-reimbursed subsidize those services that are under-reimbursed--for example, over-payment for cancer drugs subsidizes under-payment for cancer treatment. This system of cross-subsidizing exists both within Medicare and between Medicare and private-sector health insurance.

Third, Medicare's system of government-controlled pricing also shapes how patients are treated, and not always for the better. In some cases, people seek not the best or cheapest treatments for a given condition but those treatments that are covered by Medicare. In other cases, avoiding inexpensive but uncovered therapies leads to expensive but covered emergencies in the future. As Joseph Antos, an analyst for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), explains about cancer therapy: "There is widespread agreement that Medicare overpaid for Part B drugs, although oncologists argued that those overpayments helped compensate for the extra costs of administering the drugs and caring for patients that were not reflected in fees paid by Medicare for office visits." The problem is that when the federal government reduced payments for cancer drugs, as it did in MMA, there was "a shift of patients out of the doctor's office and back to the inpatient hospital care, which reduces patient satisfaction and could increase federal outlays."

Finally, the current Medicare system does not pay for long-term care. If someone suffers a stroke, for example, Medicare covers the expenses incurred in its immediate aftermath--hospital care, 21 days of skilled nursing care with no deductible, and 79 additional days of skilled nursing care for a subsidized rate of $109.50 per day. However, once the patient no longer requires skilled medical treatment but still requires constant personal care, Medicare pays nothing. This leaves individuals and families with a range of hard choices: family caretaking by a spouse or child; professional caretaking paid for out-of-pocket; or self-impoverishment until one qualifies for Medicaid, which does pay for long-term care, either by spending down one's assets or moving them in advance to one's children or siblings. The result is that a significant number of seniors who live to 65 end up on Medicaid--a welfare program--at some point before dying, including many who were self-sufficient throughout most of their lives. And looking forward, it suggests that the next Medicare entitlement debate will be about whether to add a long-term care benefit--which could prove far more expensive than paying for drugs.

In other words, the Medicare system creates all kinds of individual and market perversions and disincentives that stand in the way of efficiency and optimality. As a public system, Medicare may result in a misallocation of resources, and suboptimal healthcare outcomes. It also removes personal responsibility from much of health maintenance and rationalization. Not only that, because of the coverage gap for long-term care, the perceptual difference between "entitlements" and "means-tested" becomes meaningless. If folks live long enough, they'll end up on public support for the healthcare. Following that logic, Cohen goes on to argue that Medicare Part B reforms in 2007 shifted the system to a means-testing regime for individuals with annual incomes of $80,000 and couples with $160,000. Thus:

The cost savings of such a change are likely minor compared to the cost of Medicare as a whole, since the higher premiums will affect only an estimated 1.2 million seniors out of the 35 million now on Medicare. But the principle it establishes for future reform may be significant: namely, the idea that means-testing is a potential route for further cost-cutting.
But Cohen has some important warnings for the Bush administration drug coverage expansion from 2003, called the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA):
The fact is that, if Medicare were being created from scratch, it would almost certainly include a prescription drug benefit. But there are also good reasons to believe that adding a universal drug benefit was unnecessary or unwise, and that the sense of urgency in doing so was more artificial than real--a battle for senior-friendly voters (young, not old) who presumed a crisis that never really existed. As Samuelson reported in the Washington Post, a government survey of Medicare recipients in 2002 asked the following question: "In the last six months, how much of a problem, if any, was it to get the prescription medicine you needed?" The answers: 86.4 percent, not a problem; 9.4 percent, a small problem; 4.2 percent, a big problem. And so one could have imagined a targeted subsidy for low-income seniors in need, and national acceptance that drugs are just one of those things on which seniors will have to spend their own money.

But for the politically ambitious, drug coverage had already become a "must deliver" issue, and for the country, it had become a political expectation. Moreover, it is unclear how the above survey from 2002 meshes with other realities, such as the high number of low-income Medicare beneficiaries who will now be eligible for drug subsidies, or the deepening erosion of employee-based drug coverage for retirees. Clearly, there existed some real hardship, though hardly a national crisis. And clearly, both parties believed they needed to pass a prescription drug benefit in order to remain attractive to senior and senior-friendly voters.

Given these realities, there is a certain wisdom in the way MMA's drug benefit is designed. It establishes a baseline of coverage for all seniors, and thus assures universal access to at least the most urgently needed medications. It provides genuine insurance against catastrophic drug costs--that is, against suddenly losing all of one's financial resources in a desperate effort to stay alive. But MMA also establishes the principle that not everything can be paid for by government; that medicine must be balanced against other national priorities and other human goods; and that middle-class individuals will have to support their own middling drug bills. The "hole in the doughnut," for all the mockery it has received, is sensible in its guiding principles.
Or, in other words, at some point we won't be able to afford this luxurious entitlement. That, or drastic trade-offs will be necessay, particularly among the younger age-cohorts (post-Baby Boomers) who will be saddled with increased taxes to pay for their parents and the grandparents care, and reduced benefits when they themselves will be ready for retirement.

Now, if you go back to
the Walker essay, he's arguing for an additional epochal expansion of a program that's already structured to go bankrupt. As he writes:
What path will this new health care reform bill follow? My strong hope was that the House bill would follow Medicare. It has a national exchange that is funded directly by the federal government. There is national regulation of the insurance industry, and a nationwide public option.
It's a straightforward recipe for government nationalization of the healthcare industry. And we know what will happen: Even great market disincentives will be established. Costs will not decline, since meaningful preventative medicine and health rationalization will be obviated. Access and quality of services will decline, as the U.S. system increasingly apes the Canadian. And of course, taxes will skyrocket, and expected payouts for future generations will deteriorate even further -- which will result in collapsing public support for the federal government all around.

In fact, real solutions should be found not at the federal level, but in the states. Ironically, both the
House and Senate versions of the ObamaCare legislation create Medicaid mandates that are being staunchly resisted by states that have managed their programs efficiently. And in the current healthcare debate, as was true in the debate of Medicare prescription drug expansion, a very small minority of Americans report dissatisfaction with their health insurance or the quality of their care. So for the lofty goal of "social justice," today's Democratic-left is on the precipice of destroying the last remants of a functioning healthcare market while bankrupting the nation AND causing a deterioration of health-delivery outcomes all at the same time.

There won't be any "successes" after that.

Anwar al-Awlaki, Radical Yemeni-American Cleric, Personally Blessed Northwest Terror Attack

From the Washington Times, "Awlaki personally blessed Detroit attack" (via Memeorandum):
The Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner had his suicide mission personally blessed in Yemen by Anwar al-Awlaki, the same Muslim imam suspected of radicalizing the Fort Hood shooting suspect, a U.S. intelligence source has told The Washington Times.

The intelligence official, who is familiar with the FBI's interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, said the bombing suspect has boasted of his jihad training during interrogation by the FBI and has said it included final exhortations by Mr. al-Awlaki.

"It was Awlaki who indoctrinated him," the official said. "He was told, 'You are going to be the tip of the spear of the Muslim nation.'"
I thought about this after writing my post rebutting Steve Clemons. It's newfangled extremists like Awlaki who'll pose the biggest threats to international security in the years ahead. Who knows where Osama bin Laden is? And the Middle East's young jihadis probably couldn't give a flying-v, in any case. They've got up-and-coming inside-militants like this formerly U.S.-based cleric? Too bad he escaped that recent drone attack.

Allahpundit has more, "U.S. intel: Jihadi cleric linked to Fort Hood attack blessed Flight 253 plot":
How far back do these two go? According to CBS, they might have hooked up in Londonistan years ago when Abdulmutallab was a student and Aulaqi was preaching the good word of jihad in the local mosque. (He was kicked out of the country in 2006.) The question tomorrow will be whether the former ended up in Yemen for his own reasons or whether he followed Aulaqi there, in which case you’ve got a whole new avenue of missed red flags potentially opening up.

He could, of course, be lying about all this, trying to spook intel agents by mentioning Aulaqi knowing that he already has a body count at Fort Hood. But he also told the agents that there are many more jihadis in Yemen ready to follow his example and he appears to be telling the truth about that. Obama’s called a surprise presser that’s set to start at any minute as I’m writing this. Stand by to see if he delves into any of it in his remarks.
Actually, the New York Times has that report, "Obama Cites ‘Systemic Failure’ in U.S. Security."