How do you say “Momma Grizzly” in Norwegian?

September 30, 2010

Siv Jensen is the leader of the Progress Party in Norway. She’s also of a rare breed in Europe: a political leader who advocates small government and free markets. (In Europe, the conservatives are often not much less statist than the Left.) For her views, Jensen has been described as the “Margaret Thatcher of the North;” she’s also expressed her admiration for Sarah Palin.

Reason.TV conducted a short interview with Jensen that I thought some might find interesting:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Breaking: Counterterrorism operation in Georgia?

September 29, 2010

Something’s going on just west of Atlanta:

A team of federal agents stopped tractor-trailers on Interstate 20 just west of Atlanta, inspecting each truck as it passed through a weigh station, and Channel 2 has learned its part of a counter-terrorism operation.

(…)

A TSA spokesman told Channel 2 the event is known as Visible Inter-mobile Prevention and Response, or VIPER, an operation that is conducted with local authorities as a training exercise. The TSA spokesman said the operation is not in response to a specific threat.

However, federal sources told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne the inspections are part of a counter-terrorism operation.

News Chopper 2 showed screening devices, dogs and a large drive-through bomb detection machine in use along the eastbound interstate near Lee Road.

It could just be an exercise, but given the recent news out of Europe and the increased American drone-strikes in Pakistan, one has to wonder if this is connected. I’ll update if any more news comes out.

Via Jihad Watch

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Plot to attack London foiled? Updated! Again!

September 28, 2010

It looks like the brave, brave jihadis were planning to do to London and other UK cities what they did to Mumbai:

Intelligence agencies have intercepted a terror plot to launch Mumbai-style attacks on Britain and other European countries, according to Sky News sources.

Sky’s foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said militants based in Pakistan had been planning simultaneous strikes on London and major cities in France and Germany.

He said the plan was in the “advanced but not imminent stage” and the plotters had been tracked by spy agencies “for some time”.

Intelligence sources told Sky the planned attacks would have been similar to the commando-style raids carried out in Mumbai.

Then, Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba killed 166 people in a series of gun and grenade attacks in the Indian city.

This is jihad fi sabil Allah, “war for the sake of Allah.” These guys want to get to their twisted version of Paradise over our corpses.

They’re still trying to kill us.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

UPDATE: via Hot Air. Now we see the reason for the sudden rapid-fire round of drone strikes in Pakistan.

UPDATE II: Threat Matrix speculates about which jihadist groups might have been involved. Not surprisingly, Pakistani groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba are in the mix. But also mentioned is AQIM, which is raking in the big bucks via kidnapping for ransom. What was it I wrote about victims financing their own destruction? Oh, yeah


Failing states: is Mexico the new Colombia?

September 28, 2010

I’ve suggested in recent postings that Mexico and its cartel-spawned violence is coming to resemble Colombia’s war with leftist guerrillas and allied drug cartels, including the loss of state sovereignty over territory. Secretary of State Clinton made a similar observation, causing a minor diplomatic flap.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times criticizes this comparison, arguing that the analogy to Colombia is flawed:

As the death toll from drug-related violence nears 30,000 in four years, the impression that Mexico is losing control over big chunks of territory — the northern states of Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Durango at the top of this list — is prompting comparisons with the Colombia of years past. Under the combined onslaught of drug kingpins and leftist guerrillas, the South American country appeared to be in danger of collapse.

The Colombia comparison, long fodder for parlor debates in Mexico, gained new energy this month when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the tactics of Mexican cartels looked increasingly like those of a Colombia-style “insurgency,” which the U.S. helped fight with a military and social assistance program known as Plan Colombia that cost more than $7 billion.

But is Mexico the new Colombia? As the Obama administration debates what course to take on Mexico, finding the right fix depends on getting the right diagnosis.

The article then look at four facets of the comparison to see if the Colombian experience really does map to Mexico:

The Enemy: the authors correctly point out that Colombia’s problem originated with political rebellion – various flavors of Marxists trying to overthrow the state- while Mexico’s is, so far, more one of organized crime. Very bold and violent, but there is no political agenda. However, Colombia’s Leftist (and some Rightist) guerrilla groups eventually allied with the drug lords and even went into the business, themselves. There’s no reason to think the Mexican cartels couldn’t evolve in the opposite direction, to out and out rebellion, if the Mexican state weakens.

Land Grab: Journalist Ken Ellingwood is somewhat right when he asserts that, while the Colombian guerrillas at one time controlled vast swathes of territory from which Colombian authorities were banned, that hasn’t happened in Mexico. I say “somewhat,” because it almost seems like a distinction without a difference. Yes, no territory has been formally ceded to the cartels, as happened in Colombia. But what’s the practical difference when the Mexican Army gets blockaded in its bases; a newspaper gives up and says to the cartels “You win;” and the police chief of a major city has to live in an office closet with a gun under his pillow for his own safety? The cartels may not claim territory, but it’s clear who rules.

Who Gets Killed: Ellingwood  argues that the Colombian guerrillas attacked government officials and business men in an effort to topple the state. The Mexican cartels, on the other hand, while they they have killed cops and mayors (and even a gubernatorial candidate), are doing so as part of their war with each other. Yes, but the difference is… what? If government officials are getting whacked, it represents the breakdown of the state and civil society, regardless of whether it is part of an attempt to overthrow the government, or simply because they backed the wrong cartel. As with the territory issue, the end result is roughly the same.

A Weakening State: Here the article seems to argue that Colombia was in a better situation than that in which Mexico currently finds itself. State institutions fought back with the active support of the media and the public, particularly after an aggressive president, Alvaro Uribe, came to power. In Mexico, while President Calderon has launched his military against the cartels in some area, they’ve been largely ineffective. In addition, the police and court are notoriously corrupt. While Ellingwood describes the Mexican Army as more reliable that the police, it may be a question of relative positions on the scale of rottenness.

The article concludes with an argument, correct in my opinion, that Plan Colombia, which was tailored to specific Colombian needs, cannot be applied to Mexico as a “one size fits all” solution. Any solution (or solutions) will have to be designed with the particular qualities of Mexico’s problem in mind.

To come back to the original question, the analogy of Mexico now to Colombia of the 1980s and 1990s, while Mr. Ellingwood draws useful distinctions between the two nations, in my opinion they are largely academic. The essential quality of the situations in both countries is that rule of law, government, and civil society are under deadly assault by armed groups, whether directly targeted in an act of rebellion or as a byproduct of a war between criminal gangs. In that regard, the comparison is quite valid.


Another Mexican mayor assassinated

September 27, 2010

At this rate, being elected mayor in northern Mexico is beginning to resemble getting a promotion to admiral in the Imperial Navy in Star Wars. This time, it was the mayor of Doctor Gonzalez, in Nuevo Leon:

Armed assassins have killed a fourth Mexican mayor in less than six weeks’ time as drug war violence continues to engulf formerly calm parts of the country, authorities said Friday.

Gunmen Thursday night ambushed Prisciliano Rodriguez Salinas at his ranch home near the industrial center of Monterrey in northern Mexico. Rodriguez was mayor of the town of Doctor Gonzalez, just northeast of Monterrey.

Also Friday, Ricardo Solis, who was to be sworn in as mayor of another town in two weeks, was shot by an armed commando in the border state of Chihuahua, news reports from the region said. He was in critical condition.

Rodriguez was killed along with an employee by gunmen who lay in wait for the mayor, said Alejandro Garza, attorney general for the state of Nuevo Leon, where Doctor Gonzalez and Monterrey are located. Garza said the motive for the shootings remained under investigation.

The Mexican President expressed his condolences  and condemned the killing, which is about as effective as a sternly worded letter of concern from the UN.

I’ve written recently about Monterrey .

UPDATE: Have they implemented Shariah law? A Mexican mayor has been found stoned to death. (via quirky1too)


Colombian military sends FARC terrorist to Hell in style

September 27, 2010

The American military (and it’s rumored, the Israelis) have been training the Colombian military since the 1990s under Plan Colombia to improve their professionalism and effectiveness in their battle with various guerrilla groups and their allied drug cartels. They’ve learned well, having made great strides in the last decade: several terrorist groups have disarmed, while the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) have suffered serious setback and are on the run. They’ve also greatly improved their human rights record.

And they’ve also developed a sense of style. First it was the daring rescue by helicopter of Ingrid Betancourt, and now they’ve killed FARC’s second-in-command, tracking him down via a GPS device hidden in his boots:

The implanting of the GPS chip was possible after authorities intercepted a communication from the guerrillas requesting special shoes for the guerrilla leader, reported Colombia’s El Expectador.com (in Spanish).

According with the version of a security agent interviewed by RCN Radio (audio in Spanish), Briceño was suffering of diabetes that affected the blood circulation in his feet which, in recent months, caused him serious sores forcing him to use special footwear.

  • “The Colombia Security Agency intercepted the communication from the guerrillas requesting special shoes and was able to intervene in the delivery of the boots, which were shipped to him with a GPS microchip. The device allowed establishing the precise location of Mono Jojoy,”


said the unnamed security official.

When the guerrilla leader received the boots did not notice the tracking system installed, which was broadcasting his position for several days. Briceño’s location was determined in a jungle area of the Macarena Mountains, Meta Department, in central Colombia.

Briceño then awoke a few days later to find over 30 Colombian Air Force planes and helicopters raining flaming death on his camp.

I bet they got this trick from the Israelis. It just sounds like a Mossad tactic. Regardless, well done, Colombia.

(via Fausta)


Paying ransom only helps al Qaeda

September 27, 2010

There’s an interesting article at the Terror Finance Blog about the increase in the use of kidnapping to raise funds for jihadist groups, specifically Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), bin Laden’s North African franchise:

Kidnapping-for-ransom is considered by many experts as an “alternative source of terrorism financing.” But the recent abduction of five French nationals in Niger by the Al Qaeda’s Islamic Maghreb terrorist group (AQIM) highlights a worrisome regional trend that emerged in 2003, when AQIM first launched a major hostage taking campaign targeting foreign tourists.

Since then, AQIM has developed a growing criminal industry that sustains itself through huge ransoms they extort and drug trafficking.

It is estimated that the kidnap-for-ransom business in the Sahel region alone, put at least $65 million in the coffers of AQIM since 2005. More than 90% of the group’s funding derives from this single financial source. The rest comes from drug trafficking and donations.

The kidnapping business is so good, that hostage taking in the Sahel region had risen 150% between 2008 and 2009. The average ransom for the release of a Western hostage is $6.5 million.

Since 2008, AQIM raised more than $25 million from ransom for foreign nationals in the Sahel region. This makes AQIM richer than “Al Qaeda Central”, whose annual income was recently estimated by U.S. officials to be between $5 million to $10 million.

The article then goes on to talk about efforts to criminalize the payment of ransom, though I suspect that would be an exercise in futility when governments themselves can pay ransom via back-channels. Italy infamously paid ransom to Iraqi terrorists to recover journalist Giuliana Sgrena in 2005, while France has been rumored to have criticized Spain for paying ransom to AQIM. (Though Paris now denies this.)

But the real problem here (aside from paying kidnappers at all) is that this money is then used by AQIM (and al Qaeda, which surely gets a cut) to finance not only further kidnappings, but terrorist operations in North Africa, Europe, and around the world. Operations that get our people killed. In effect, governments and corporations are financing the hijackers and suicide bombers sent against us. And you can bet some of this money is going to research into easy means of mass destruction, such as poison gas.

Harsh and heartless as it would be to do so, the only way to stop these kidnappings is to refuse to pay any ransom; rather than treating the terrorist kidnappers are criminals, they should be hunted down and killed. And yes, that is in full recognition of the possible consequences.

If, instead, we keep paying, we’re only giving them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


If a beating is an honor, what is a stoning?

September 26, 2010

Yesterday I wrote about an Egyptian Muslim cleric who told us that the beating of women was instituted by Allah to honor women.

If that’s “honoring,” then stoning must be the equivalent of a gold medal:

Rare Video Shows Taliban Allegedly Stoning Woman to Death in Pakistan

A rare video reportedly smuggled out of northwest Pakistan allegedly shows a woman being stoned to death by Taliban militants in the upper region of Orakzai.

Al Aan, a Dubai-based pan-Arab television channel that focuses on women’s issues, said it had obtained cellphone footage that it says shows a woman being executed because she was seen out with a man. The killing reportedly took place two months ago and was smuggled out by a Taliban member who attended the stoning, according to Al Aan. ABC News could not independently confirm the cellphone video’s authenticity.

The video, which seems to show a woman tethered to the ground as a group of men throw stones at her, is so graphic that ABC News cannot show it in its entirety. Parts of it air today on the 25th episode of “Brian Ross Investigates.”

“It’s difficult to know where and when it was shot,” says Gayle Lemmon, deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council of Foreign Relations, in an interview with Ross, “It is consistent with videos that have been coming from Taliban-controlled areas since the ’90s.”

Lemmon says that when women “stray outside the line” in Taliban-controlled areas, they may “face severe punishment.”

“Women are respected as carriers of the family honor,” says Lemmon, “but they also pay the price.”

If that’s respect…

Lemmon’s last statement is nonsense, of course, as I pointed out yesterday. They aren’t respected, except perhaps in the perverse sense of “if you dress a certain way and accept a man as your keeper, you won’t get raped.” Otherwise, according to Sheikh al-Hilali, she can expect to be treated like meat left out for the cat. Some respect.

Rather, what happens to the woman in the video is a consequence of women being made to bear the burden of the man’s sexual behavior. The victim in the video was seen walking with a man, presumably not of her family. Doesn’t she know what might have happened, since a man cannot control himself? That made her a whore and dishonored her family, and so she had to die by being pelted with rocks.

Respect. Honor.

Like Hell.

LINKS: Jihad Watch has the full video (Fair warning, it’s very graphic) and also provides links that debunk apologists who claim stoning is not a canonical part of Islam.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


In Islam, a man beats his wife to honor her

September 25, 2010

Don’t look at me like that. I’m just repeating the words of the honored Egyptian cleric, Sa’d Arafat. Beatings were instituted by Allah to honor wives:

And I just love the look on the interviewer’s face, as if he’s hearing this marvelous revelation: “Oh, I get it! It’s okay for me to beat her if she denies me sex! It’s all so clear now!”

From the transcript:

Sa’d Arafat: Allah honored wives by instating the punishment of beatings.

Interviewer: Honored them with beatings? How is this possible?!

Sa’d Arafat: The prophet Muhammad said: “Don’t beat her in the face, and do not make her ugly.” See how she is honored. If the husband beats his wife, he must not beat her in the face. Even when he beats her, he must not curse her. This is incredible! He beats her in order to discipline her.

In addition, there must not be more than ten beatings, and he must not break her bones, injure her, break her teeth, or poke her in the eye. There is a beating etiquette. If he beats to discipline her, he must not raise his hand high. He must beat her from chest level. All these things honor the woman.

Understand, guys? There are rules to wife-beating. We must observe the proprieties. And just so we’re clear about the “when” part:

Sa’d Arafat: The honoring of the wife in Islam is also evident in the fact that the punishment of beating is permissible in one case only: when she refuses to sleep with him.

Interviewer: When she refuses to sleep with him?

Sa’d Arafat: Yes, because where else could the husband go? He wants her, but she refuses. He should begin with admonishment and threats…

Interviewer: Allow me to repeat this. A man cannot beat his wife…

Interviewer: …over food or drink. Beatings are permitted only in this case, which the husband cannot do without.

Note the logic here: a man must have sex, he cannot go without it. The woman, by refusing him, is denying her husband something he must have and is therefore in need of discipline – a beating. This illustrates something Ayaan Hirsi Ali has repeatedly pointed out in her books: that Islam makes the woman responsible for the sexual behavior of the man. He can’t control himself, so why is she hurting him by withholding something he needs? The same perverse reasoning is used to justify the whole structure of the oppression of women in Islam, from restrictive, dehumanizing dress codes to the punishment of rape victims.

Somehow, I think this is the kind of “honor” women would rather do without.

UPDATE: Thanks for the links, Lori!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Sa’d Arafat: Allah honored wives by instating the punishment of beatings.

Interviewer: Honored them with beatings? How is this possible?!

Sa’d Arafat: The prophet Muhammad said: “Don’t beat her in the face, and do not make her ugly.” See how she is honored. If the husband beats his wife, he must not beat her in the face. Even when he beats her, he must not curse her. This is incredible! He beats her in order to discipline her.

In addition, there must not be more than ten beatings, and he must not break her bones, injure her, break her teeth, or poke her in the eye. There is a beating etiquette. If he beats to discipline her, he must not raise his hand high. He must beat her from chest level. All these things honor the woman.

She is in need of discipline. How should the husband discipline her? Through admonishment. If she is not deterred, he should refuse to share the bed with her. If she is not repentant, he should beat her, but there are rules to the beating. It is forbidden to beat her in the face or make her ugly. When you beat her, you must not curse her. Islam forbids this.


Help Joel Demos beat Keith Ellison

September 25, 2010

Joel Demos is running for Congress in Minnesota’s 5th district to unseat the execrable* Keith Ellison. In a world of polished, by the numbers campaign ads, you have to like a guy with a sense of humor:

Love it.

Joel has a campaign web site; his positions look solid. If you like what you see, consider donating, before his kids really do have to take jobs.

*(I know, I know. I’m just bigoted against terrorist supporters.)

via Hot Air.


Cleaning up Chicago, one Jackson at a time

September 25, 2010

It’s long been known that the Rev. Jesse Jackson is one of the sleaziest characters in American politics, playing the race card for all it’s worth (and it’s been worth a lot to him). His sons are no better: it’s widely suspected he won his sons Yusef and Jonathan an exclusive Budweiser distributorship via extortion after boycotting the company. His other son Jesse, Jr., effectively had a seat reserved for him in Congress, where he’s played the identity-politics game just like his old man. He’s also, like dear old Reverend Dad, gotten himself mixed up in a couple of scandals, one involving trying to buy President Obama’s former Senate seat, and the other a questionable relationship (for a married man) with a hot blonde.

Apparently it’s all getting to be too much for residents of Jackson’s South-Side Chicago district; he now has a serious challenger. Where no one would once have given a conservative Republican a second look, the Reverend Isaac Hayes is getting a lot of attention. John Kass interviewed him:

I asked Hayes: How difficult is it being an African-American conservative in a district where the Jackson family machine is so dominant?

“It’s difficult if you’re not willing to speak up about what you believe,” Hayes said. “If you’re weak, you wouldn’t want to do it. It’s my opinion that black conservatives have to have strong character. The easy smear is when you’re called a traitor to your race, or an Uncle Tom. That happens a lot.

“But just look at what’s happened to the black community over the decades. Look at the family. Look at the lack of economic opportunity,” he said. “These problems are in part because of liberal Democratic policies. But people like me get smeared as race traitors for not being liberal Democrats? That’s ironic. But that’s not why the media is interested in me.”

…and…

Hayes didn’t grow up with money and clout. He attended public schools. His father was, and still is, a minister at the Indiana Avenue Pentecostal Church.

“It started with the social issues,” he said of his conversion to conservatism. “I’m pro-life, and I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. But as you think in terms of family, and what weakens it, you start thinking in terms of economic and education policy.”

Hayes argues for education vouchers to free children trapped in dysfunctional inner-city schools and tax cuts to stimulate jobs. Clearly, such talk threatens big-government Democrats whose power depends on keeping low-income African-Americans as dependent clients.

“You ask how I became conservative?” Hayes said. “You minister to a 14-year-old boy in jail, and he’s telling you that he has to get out so he can take care of his child. We’ve got to fundamentally change what’s going on in the cities. And it starts when African-Americans stop giving away their votes and being taken for granted.”

Be sure to read the whole thing. This may be the best chance in years for the residents of IL-2 to get a real representative, rather than an oligarch who sees them as his stepping stones to power and babes. Reverend Hayes has a web site. Have a look and, if you like what you see, consider helping him out.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Mexican town resorts to mob justice

September 24, 2010

With the authorities unable to protect them, the residents of a small town in the state of Chihuahua that has suffered an average of three kidnappings per week finally had enough:

Ascension is a farming community of some 15,000 people, about 100 miles south of the border with New Mexico. In the past two years, kidnapping and extortion have been rampant.

“Our problems with public security have spoiled our progress in this town,” says Rafael Camarillo, the outgoing mayor.

The public fury happened Tuesday when an armed group allegedly kidnapped a 16-year-old girl from her family’s seafood restaurant. The kidnappers escaped down a gravel road, and word of the missing girl spread quickly.

Soon, a group of about 200 residents began the chase. Three of the alleged kidnappers were captured by the Mexican military, who have a presence in the town.

Three others fled into a nearby cotton field, where one was later found dead. The other two were hunted down and beaten by the mob from Ascension.

“When they found them, it was a direct aggression,” says Ignacio Rodriguez, a local kitchen-cabinet maker who was elected to head city council next month.

The girl was rescued unharmed by the residents.

Two of the kidnappers were taken by federal police to a nearby Mexican Army base, but the mob wasn’t done with them: they stormed the base, seized the kidnappers, and locked them in a hot car until they died.

Let’s be blunt: these three deaths were acts of murder. But it is both hard to sympathize with the victims and not hard to sympathize with the townsfolk. What are they supposed to do when their own government can’t or won’t protect them? The local force was so useless that the Mayor of Ascension fired them all after this incident. Corruption is rampant in the local, state, and federal police forces. At some point, the people are left with a choice: wait like sheep to be slaughtered  or fight back. The people of Ascenscion made their choice.

Of course, fighting back against teenaged kidnappers is one thing, but striking back at heavily armed, ruthless cartels is another altogether. Mexico’s gun laws are very strict, so law-abiding citizens are effectively disarmed from the start. Yet the presence of such laws implies a clause in the social contract: in return for not bearing arms, the state promises to protect its citizens. If the government cannot do this, then the contract is broken and the state loses legitimacy. Society reverts to a state of nature and residents are forced to take justice into their own hands.

While Mexico is not yet a failed state and may never become one, the incidents at Ascension are nevertheless further signs of a fraying social fabric that, unmended, could one day fall apart.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

UPDATE: A newspaper in New Mexico sees similar dangers.


Battle cry

September 24, 2010

Remember in November:

Very well done.

(via The Jawa Report)


Klavan on the Culture’s Guide to the Elections

September 24, 2010

To make sure the voting citizen is as informed and cynical as possible before November’s balloting, Andrew Klavan provides us with a guide to the election. This week’s episode features part one, on the economy:

Much better than those innumerable mailers you get in the mail and throw away unread, don’t you think?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Baylor ends study-abroad in Mexico due to violence

September 23, 2010

In recent months, I’ve focused on Mexico and the cartel-related violence there, which directly relates to the security of our own southern border and that of the people who live in the area. Occasionally, I’ve been accused of demonizing Mexico and Mexicans by grossly exaggerating the problem. Perhaps, though I don’t believe so. But, if I am guilty of scaremongering, so is Baylor University:

Drug war violence in Mexico is escalating to an all-time high, forcing Baylor study abroad programs in Mexico to halt.

Baylor has suspended every program in Mexico, with the exception of the law school in Guadalajara, until the conditions change, said Dr. Michael Morrison, director of the Center for International Education. Guadalajara has not experienced the violence seen along the northern border of Mexico and in Monterrey.

More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against drug traffickers in late 2006.

Two Baylor students studied in Monterrey in the spring. Following an outbreak of violence outside the gates of Monterrey Tech, Baylor arranged for one student to return immediately and worked with the other student and the student’s parents to determine that the student would remain for the last few weeks to finish the Monterrey Tech program.

“We are not currently taking students on that program, as Monterrey is one of the most dangerous places,” Morrison said.

Dr. Sijefredo Loa, associate professor of Spanish, directed the last Baylor in Mexico program to Xalapa, Veracruz, in June 2009.

“There are a few facts that are very alarming,” Loa said. “The road blocks the cartels have set up, for instance. They’re stopping tourists with vans and buses because they want to check the traffic. So this has alarmed and scared a lot of people.”

I can see why.

To borrow a phrase from our President, let me be clear: I do not believe Mexico is a failed state or likely to fail in the near future; Colombia, for example survived far worse and came through it.  However, I think those who dismiss the discussion of Mexico’s security problems as hysteria or (you guessed it) racism are burying their heads in the sand to avoid seeing a very real, very serious problem that has serious implications for our own security.

Same with those who think the whole problem could be solved with a libertarian-style legalization of the drug trade: these are not simple businessmen fighting for the right to pursue a trade. The cartels are criminal-terrorist enterprises with much in common with our jihadist enemies (perhaps even allying), such as perceiving any accommodation as weakness. Legalizing their poisonous trade wouldn’t make honest merchants of them; rather, they would be like Edward G. Robinson’s “Johnny Rocco,” in Key Largo:

Johnny Rocco: There’s only one Johnny Rocco.
James Temple: How do you account for it?
Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Sure.
James Temple: What’s that?
Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh …
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!
James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t.

And neither will the cartels, no matter how much we give them.

RELATED: The El Paso Times reports that Juarez’s largest newspaper, El Diario de Juarez, has asked for a truce with the cartels after the assassination of its second journalist in two years. I wrote about the situation in Monterrey yesterday.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Wednesday yuk-yuks

September 22, 2010

The latest NewsBusted, with Jodi Miller:


State Department: “Get your kids out of Monterrey”

September 22, 2010

The security situation in northern Mexico continues to worsen as an attempted kidnapping sparks a warning for Americans living in Monterrey and an order from the State Department: Get your children out.

Affluent Americans living in Monterrey became extremely worried in late August that they were in danger after a gun battle erupted  in front of the American School Foundation, which many children of American as well as Mexican business executives attend. The firefight took place between bodyguards working for the Mexican beverage company Femsa SAB de CV and cartel attackers, who were apparently attempting to kidnap young relatives of a high-level company employee. In the course of the ensuing battle, two bodyguards were killed and two others captured. Flying bullets caused students in the school to scramble for shelter in the school cafeteria.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Charles Pascual then cautioned employees of the Monterrey consulate to keep their children home, “while we assess the risks and what measures can be taken to reduce it (sic.)” Pascual gave that recommendation even though there was no hard evidence that the children of consular personnel had been targeted.Following the incident, the U.S. consulate in Monterrey also posted an advisory on its website, directed to Americans living in the area. “The sharp increase in kidnapping incidents in the Monterrey area, and this event in particular, present a very high risk to the families of U.S. citizens,” the message read.

Three days later, the State Department escalated its warnings and issued a stunning edict. “U.S. government personnel from the consulate general are not permitted to keep their minor dependents in Monterrey,” a U.S. Embassy spokesman stated. “As of September 10, no minor dependents, no children of U.S. government employees will be permitted in Monterrey.” That was the kind of restriction, designating the Monterrey consulate a “partially unaccompanied post” for U.S. diplomats, is normally imposed only in war zones and other extremely high-risk areas. It underscored just how seriously the State Department took the surge in fighting and the extent of the kidnapping danger.

While the State Department travel warning couches it in much softer language, the message is clear: the cartel wars have made previously safe Monterrey too risky.

And it’s not just the children of diplomats: Caterpillar has told its executives to move their families out of the city, and well-off Mexicans are doing the same. The lack of security was accentuated by the discovery of a mass grave containing the bodies of what are assumed to be cartel victims, and the kidnapping and murder of the mayor of a neighboring town.

Mexico’s third-largest city and an economic powerhouse, the descent of Monterrey into “cartel chaos” would be devastating to Mexico. With the growing inability of local authorities to provide security in such an important city, the reflex reaction would be to “send in the Army.” But that hasn’t worked out so well in other Mexican border cities. In fact, in many cases, the Mexican Army is part of the problem.

Take a look at this map:

(Click to enlarge)

Monterrey is dead center. To the west is Torreón, while to the east is Reynosa, both of which I’ve written about before. North lies Nuevo Laredo, where things have become so rough that they spurred crazy rumors about ranch takeovers in Texas. And we’ve all heard about the problems in places farther west, such as Juarez and Tijuana.

It’s plain that Mexico has more than just an organized crime problem in its northern territories: there is a growing challenge to the government’s authority there. While I don’t believe there’s any realistic danger of a state failure in Mexico City, it is not inconceivable that Mexican state and federal authorities might find it easier to throw up their hands and surrender de facto control of the area to the cartels, much as Colombia did with the FARC in the 1990s. The risk of that and the potential threats it would hold for our border regions makes Mexico’s internal security a vital interest for our national security.

More than just increasing border security itself (and worthwhile as that is), the Obama administration* needs to intensify cooperation with Mexico to bolster its capacity and resolve to restore its crumbling writ in its northern states. Perhaps some variant of the highly successful Plan Colombia would work. Just as important, the Mexican government** has to be brutally honest with itself and its people about the problems they face; no more trying to distract attention by lecturing us over a minor state immigration law. Their current efforts are a failure; no progress has been made. It’s time for both countries to admit there’s a serious problem and deal with it before it goes critical.

*More like “the next administration.

**Call me a cynic, but I have doubts Calderon has it in him to do this.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


She’s running, all right. You betcha.

September 22, 2010

A friend posted a link about this on Twitter the other day, asking if this was Sarah Palin’s first ad of the 2012 campaign:

In all honesty, I’d call it her second. Regardless of the official count, I take this as a big, flashing neon sign that she is going to run for President in 2012. You don’t make videos like this while intending to support Romney or Huckabee. This is yet another slick, well-produced video that keeps the candidate front and center, but makes the viewer the subject.  (Unlike, say, the campaign videos of certain Lightworkers we can think of.) SarahPac is getting very, very good at this.

All I can say is, if Sarah Palin is the nominee in 2012, stock up on pizza and popcorn (and moose chili). The battle is going to be epic.


Indexing the capital gains tax

September 21, 2010

Sounds like a snoozer of a topic, right?

Hey, wake up! It’s your money we’re talking about here!

That’s right. If you’re an investor (and everyone should be in some form, even in this lousy economic climate), then you’re being ripped off by the capital gains tax. Not only is it a form of double taxation that should be eliminated, but, even at the current relatively low rates, you still lose because of inflation. In fact, as this Center for Freedom and Prosperity video demonstrates, it is quite possible to pay taxes on a “gain” that is actually a loss:

It’s like getting mugged and then being forced to pay for the mugger’s cab fare. Some fun, eh?

More seriously, this kind of taxation eventually discourages investment, which hampers economic growth and job creation, something we just don’t need.


Allen West calls out the Democrats

September 21, 2010

Speaking before a Republican small-business group, Col. West points out the Democrat “shadow” who videos all his events* and sends his bosses a message:

You can learn more about Allen West at his campaign site.

via Big Journalism.

*(Yeah, both sides do it. I just enjoy seeing the tables turned.)