« July 1, 2007 - July 7, 2007 | Main | July 15, 2007 - July 21, 2007 »

July 12, 2007

in case you forgot about panicking

The creeping threat of terror just won't go away.  It seems like a person can't settle in to quietly enjoy himself some sordid tales of executive privilege without some new headline screaming "Terror This" or "Al Qaida That".  Can't they see that we're already panicked?  Can't they tell from all their polling and eavesdropping that we've panicked so long it feels like up to us?  Do they think this is some kind of game?

Wouldn't that be a larf, if this were a game?  Well?

Today's little piece of falling sky is brought to you by the AP, who I'm starting to suspect is up there with SMERSH as far as sinister acronyms go.  It is the story of a new threat assessment being prepared, which claims that Al Qaida is back and better than ever.  You can read it here, but only if you panic hard enough:

Al-Qaida is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," [an] official said, paraphrasing the report's conclusions. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

Also, it is rumored that Al Qaida will be raising their minimum monthly payment in a couple of months, so you better start reducing your principal so you don't get creamed on the interest!

This one goes down a lot harsher than yesterday's installment, for two reasons.  First of all, there are no quotes from Department of Populace Intimidation Secretary Michael Chertoff, who must have been too busy solving quadratic equations (with his gut) to comment and soothe us with his shining rays of brilliance.  Second of all, this news is sourced to not one but two senior intelligence officials - and, as you know, the panic-inducement of anonymous senior intelligence officials progresses geometrically and not arithmetically.  Ergo, panic squared.

If you're interested, the report is to be titled "Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West."  This may not be as catchy as, " Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.", but it's got a beat and I can dance to it, so I give it a nine.

Of course, pains are taken so that you don't panic yourself all the way to the back of an ambulance:

Still, numerous government officials say they know of no specific, credible threat of a new attack.

Reassuring, right?  Though, remember: "numerous" is not the same thing as "each and every".  So it's alright if you want to keep panicking like you mean it, if you want.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:05 AM

July 11, 2007

michael chertoff oozes competence

Terror may not exactly be on the march, but, if you get your news from certain sources, you may be hearing a little John Phillips Sousa brassing in the background.  The Fightin' Fedoras of ABCNews report that the White House is so concerned that they are having meetings - all in response to "new intelligence [that] suggests a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here."  And we know that this is extra-super serious, as the reports are sourced to "senior U.S. intelligence officials", who, as everyone knows, are genetically engineered to burst into flames upon telling a mistruth to a member of the Fourth Estate.  Let's see, a "small al Qaeda cell" - that must be at least a "squadron" or a "poltroon", right?  A couple eleventy hundred or so beturbaned evildoers, each schooled in fourteen different ways to kill a man with their bare hands - even a big burly man!  I'm penciling in "panic" for the rest of the month.  I just hope I'm not too panicked to remember to start panicking!

But even as my eyes roll around in my head in abject terror, I am calmed back down to mild but persistent paranoia, as this man is leading America's anti-terrorist response.  Michael Chertoff, a bad bad man, whose "bad" is sometimes mistaken for "cadaverous" (though rarely for "charisma").  He was quoted yesterday as saying that he had a "gut feeling" that we were in for a rocky summer, spectacular attack-wise.  Any man who sources a heightened terror alert to his gut is either the dumbest or the smartest man in the room.  I'm an optimist.  I'm going for smartest, as the president would never give the dumbest man the key to the terror-alert-color-index and let him drive it around.  Therefore, calm.

To be fair, before we discuss the relative smart/stupid of the Secreatry of the Department of Pretentious Nomenclature, let's look at the full context of the "gut" remark, from a discussion with the Chicago Tribune:

I believe we're entering a period this summer of increased risk.  We've seen a lot more public statements from Al Qaeda.  There are a lot of reasons to speculate about that but one reason that occurs to me is that they're feeling more comfortable and raising expectations.  In the last August, and in prior summers, we've had attacks against the West, which suggests that summer seems to be appealing to them.  I think we do see increased activity in South Asia, so we do worry about whether they are rebuilding their capabilities.  We've struck at them and degraded them, but they rebuild.  All these things have given me kind of a gut feeling that we are in a period of increased vulnerability.

While I would prefer to point out that "increased vulnerability", as cited by Sec. Chertoff, and the concept of "increased risk" are not necessarily the same beast (his slip is showing!), I'll instead keep it really real and assert that there are in fact many dumber things he could have said.  He could have said, "Al Qaeda is comprised of men who have noses.  Dogs also have noses.  Therefore, all dogs are members of Al Qaeda."  Or he could have answered the question of what rationalizes statements of increased risk with, "Mmmm... something."  As he did not indulge in the dumber of reasonings, he is therefore smart, so everyone relax in that we are being ably led.  Al Qaeda likes to hit in the summer, when it is nicer out - almost like a field trip!  So, yes, relax.

Relax.  Okay now panic.  Now relax again.  But don't forget to panic!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:23 AM

July 10, 2007

sometimes i debase myself without even being asked

I'm having one of those days (weeks?) where the idears aren't coming so fast and/or hard.  Maybe because I watched a little of that Live Earth over the weekend and am still picking the stultification from between my teeth.  Happily, even in these blood/turnip days, there is still the Yahoo! page, with the box of headlines, containing this:
• Neighborhood alcohol ads may boost child drinking rates

Have they looked into the possibility that maybe the child-drinking ads have made so many people want to drink children?

I'm feeling more smarter already!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:02 AM

July 9, 2007

woe betide those of you with the children

It's tough, these summer Mondays, to put it back into gear after a weekend of tanning, competitive eating and/or sport-fishing.  Sometimes, that second cup of coffee just can't kickstart the dayjob engine.

If this describes you, then, here, please have some YIKES.

(Yeah, that would be Jason Lee as "Dave".)

Hopefully, that is enough to make pushing papers back and forth on your desk as sexy as it was on Friday afternoon.

If not, please consult Ellis for a bit of the old UltraYikes.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:04 AM