Political MoJo

Al Qaeda vs. The Trees of Mystery

| Thu Jul. 13, 2006 9:48 AM PDT

As we've often been reminded, we're fighting the terrorists abroad so we don't have to fight them in the streets of Indianapolis. But should that horrific day ever come, let Al Qaeda be warned that we shall fight in the petting zoo; we shall fight on the beach at the end of the street; we shall fight in Jay's Sporting Goods and in the mall at Sears; we shall fight in the Frontier Fun Park; we shall never surrender. Terrorists could target those places and 77,000 more, at least according to the Department of Homeland Security's database of "crtical infrastructure and key resources." As reported yesterday, the list is chock full of what the DHS's Inspector General politely calls "curious" and "out of place" entries, such as the aforementioned suburban battlegrounds. It seems that when DHS asked the states to indentify potential targets, boosterism combined with antiterrror zeal (and just perhaps the prospect of some sweet homeland security pork) to erase the distinctions between nuclear power plants and strip malls. But then, maybe terrorists don't make such distinctions. If you hate America, maybe hating The Trees of Mystery is just part of the package.

Here's the complete list of less-than-critical assets identified by the DHS IG report [PDF]:


Old MacDonald's petting zoo
Mall at Sears
Bean Fest
Nix's Check Cashing
Amer. Society of Young Musicians
Trees of Mystery
Car Dealerships
Kennel Club and Poker Room
Historical Bok Sanctuary
4 Cs Fuel and Lube
DPW Landfill
Kangaroo Conservation Center
Assyrian American Association
Right to Life Committee
Association for the Jewish Blind
Insect Zoo
Bourbon Festival
Theological Seminary
Jay's Sporting Goods
Nestle Purina Pet food Plant
Auto Shop
Veterinary Clinic
Groundhog Zoo
Sweetwater Flea Market
High Stakes Bingo
Petting Zoo
Community College
Restaurant
Frontier Fun Park
Travel Stop
Mule Day Parade
Beach at End of Street
Amish Country Popcorn
Pepper and Herb Company
Psychiatry Behavioral Center
Order of Elks National Memorial
Ice Cream Parlor
Bakery & Cookie Shop
Inn
Donut Shop
Sears Auto Center
Wine and Coffee Co.
Sports Club
Casket Company
Bass Pro Shop
Muzzle Shoot Enterprise
Several Wal-Marts
Property Owners Associations
Apple and Pork Festival
Rolls Royce Plant
Pepsi Bottlers
Yacht Repair Business
Anti-Cruelty Society
Tackle Shop
Elevator Company
Center for Veterinary Medicine
American Legion
UPS Store
Heritage Groups
Parcel Shop
YMCA Center
Brewery
Mail Boxes Etc.
Night clubs

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Ill Wind

| Thu Jul. 13, 2006 12:02 AM PDT

Should people be entitled not to see windmills on the horizon? Just when you thought it was just the Kennedys & Co. vs. turbines off the Cape, here goes Long Island Power getting locals all worked up with a proposal to put 40 big whirlygigs in the Atlantic. And it's not hard to get bent out of shape about people who get bent out of shape about how horrible this looks. A more complicated, and perhaps more interesting conversation might have to do with why it is that wind, in particular, is catching on so fast with the energy industry--because, of course, it plugs right into the existing energy economy, based on big plants and big power lines and big money. But just maybe we should have that conversation even as we put up every wind mill we can get our hands on. If the feng shui doesn't work, we can always take them down once we've got this climate thing sorted out...

Join a Conversation With Mother Jones Radio Host Angie Coiro

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 6:53 PM PDT

Angie Coiro, the peerless host of Mother Jones Radio, is being interviewed online for the next two weeks at The Well. If you're unfamiliar with our radio show, it's a smart, lively, hour-long romp through the culture and politics of our time that airs on Air America and affiliates each Sunday. And Angie, who spent 15 years in public radio--picking up multiple awards along the way, including one for the best public radio interview in the country in 2003--is quite simply one of the smartest, most talented, likable radio hosts in the business. Go join the conversation with Angie at the Well.

And don't forget to check out Mother Jones Radio.

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More Fun With Kim: The Glorious Failure Who Just Can't Lose

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 6:19 PM PDT

More Kim comedy, this time of the acerbic variety. Mark Fiore's new cartoon, hot off the Internets, shows that for a guy who's constantly failing, the Dear Leader does a pretty good job at staying in power and giving the rest of the world heartburn. Click on the dictator to watch. (Flash required.)

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Colorado legislator declares state is helping create terrorists

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 5:42 PM PDT

America is known as a melting pot. If that's the case, then Debbie Stafford, a Colorado state legislator, has decided to stir it. Colorado just passed passed an immigration bill that denies public assitance to anyone who is not in the state legally, but which makes exceptions for children to get food and healthcare. Stafford's response?

"We're helping create the next generation of terrorists."

In the meantime, many of Stafford's Republican colleagues were upset because they were unable to get on the ballot a constitutional amendment that would have required all workers in Colorado to have a state I.D. The bill's sponsor, Al White, attacked Governor Bill Owens, who he said was actively lobbied by Colorado homebuilders and Republican donors who did not want to see the state's labor pool decreased.

Colorado's Hispanic population was up to 19% in 2004 and is growing. Stafford apparently has some kind of inside track on the terrorist intentions of illegal immigrants from Mexico and other South American nations.

Supposed Change in Detention Policy Too Late For Some Prisoners

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 5:25 PM PDT

The Bush administration's late embrace of the Geneva Conventions may or may not be sincere. Either way, it comes too late for hundreds of prisoners, most of them innocent, who've spent years of their lives in U.S. detention—men like Muhibullo Abdulkarim Umaro, a 24-year-old Tajik swept up in the U.S. war on terror who spent two years in four prisons in three countries. Read his story at MotherJones.com.

Plus: "Why Am I in Cuba?: Excerpts from military tribunal transcripts.

Plus Plus: Mother Jones' coverage of the moral and legal disgrace that has been U.S. detention policy since 9/11--with pieces by Emily Bazelon, Anthony Lewis, and Mark Danner, among others, all in one handy place.

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Escalation in the Middle East

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 3:49 PM PDT

So Israel invades southern Lebanon after two of its soldiers are seized by Hezbollah. The Bush administration, no doubt with lots of proof in tow, immediately blames Syria and Iran for the kidnappings. And now Yossi Klein Halavi in the New Republic says that Israel is about to start a wider, multiyear war against Syria and Iran, and that the United States should help by bombing the latter's nuclear facilities. Is there anyone out there with any interest in trying to de-escalate this conflict?

MORE: Jonathan Edelstein sheds a lot of light on the situation.

The Easy Comedy of Kim Jong-Il

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 2:57 PM PDT

The Economist's covers are often very funny (though not quite as often as the editors of The Economist think they are) -- and never more so than when they feature Kim Jong-Il.

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With all the chuckling it's easy to forget he's actually much more dangerous than Saddam ever was--his recent bout of projectile dysfunction notwithstanding.

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Indian Bloggers Help Out

Wed Jul. 12, 2006 2:56 PM PDT

The response of Indian bloggers to the train bombing yesterday in Mumbai was truly touching. One site, Mumbai Help, offered to try to reach residents of the city on behalf of their relatives abroad, who could not get through the clogged phone system. Eventually, the site's 30-odd contributors were able to lay the fears of dozens of people to rest. A recent report in the Times of India said that nearly 86 percent of India's internet users regularly check blogs, creating an impressive potential for bloggers to help in times of crisis (although obviously no one hopes there will be more crises like this one).

Zidane Not a Victim of Racism

| Wed Jul. 12, 2006 1:07 PM PDT

Appearing on French TV, Zinedine Zidane said Marco Materazzi insulted his mother and sister, and he denied speculation—fueled by international lip readers—that the Italian defender had called him a "terrorist." Good lesson in reserving judgment till the facts are in, eh Dave?

This, of course, makes Zidane's behavior even less explicable—insults against mothers being fairly standard, regrettably, wherever men gather to compete—and therefore even sadder. There's talk, now, of having him stripped of the Golden Ball Award, which is probably fair enough—though on the merits he certainly earned it. (Worth noting, too, that the guy is a genius and deserves to be remembered primarily as such.)