Sunday, July 16, 2006

Target-Rich Environment

Several weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security caused considerable alarm by announcing substantial cuts in anti-terrorism funding for major American cities, and by declaring that there were no significant terrorist targets in New York City. Now, thanks to an internal audit of the department's National Asset Database (detailed in The Carpetbagger Report), we know what the DHS considers likely targets for terrorist attack:

* Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo (Huntsville, AL)
* The Amish Country Popcorn factory (Berne, IN)
* Kangaroo Conservation Center (Dawsonville, GA)
* Bourbon Festival (Bardstown, KY)
* The Mule Day Parade (Columbia, TN)
* The Sweetwater Flea Market (Sweetwater, TN)
* Bean Fest (Mountain View, AR)
* Nix's Check Cashing
* Mall at Sears
* Ice Cream Parlor
* Donut Shop

Most of these strategic installations are in Midwestern and Southern states whose voters have been more supportive of the current presidential administration than New Yorkers. In fact, the state with the longest list of potential targets is Indiana, which has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1964, and whose current governor used to direct George W. Bush's Office of Management and Budget. Indiana's homeland security department identified 8,500 vital assets in need of federal protection -- nearly as many as California and New York combined. (Last Thursday the Indiana DHS claimed that they were "confused." No doubt.)

It's tempting to argue that this list demonstrates the incompetence of the Homeland Security Dept. It's equally tempting to speculate that our Protectors of the Homeland have concluded, after reading several Philip K. Dick novels (like this one), that such seemingly mundane places as "Tackle Shop" and "Beach at End of a Street" are actually of vital importance to national security. Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner, whose audit of the National Asset Database led to this story, doesn't seem to agree that the database is "an accurate representation of the nation's...critical infrastructure and key resources," but perhaps he just can't perceive the hidden truths to which his more illuminated colleagues are privy.

Friday, July 07, 2006

No Land War in Asia

Apropos of the United States' current round of mutual saber-rattling with North Korea, and for the edification of those who may feel that Kim Jong Il's pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles makes him more of an international threat than Saddam Hussein once was, I offer the following corrective primer, courtesy of my friend and Far Eastern Affairs consultant, Jon Lay:

TOP TEN REASONS TO REACT DIFFERENTLY TO NORTH KOREA IN 2006 THAN WE DID TO IRAQ IN 2003:

10) They actually have Weapons of Mass Destruction. You know what those do, right?

9) Restarting the Cold War will significantly diminish the value of Reagan Dimes.
8) Japan is asking us to intervene, and frankly, we're feeling like we've been doing a lot for Japan over the last 60 years.
7) Not threatening to invade them just because they're not Arabs, would – in its own way – also be racist, if you think about it. No, think about it some more. More. There you go.
6) The United States has no idea how to go about waging a war on the Korean Peninsula.
5) Toby Keith still negotiating soundtrack terms. Once we get that worked out, it's bombs away.
4) Disrupting the flow of cheap plastic crap from China is potentially more damaging to our economy than losing whatever it is that we import from the Middle East.
3) George Bush is a pacifist firmly committed to resolving all conflicts through dialogue, as Jesus would.
2) With Army enlistment and morale at such record heights, we're worried we'd beat them so badly other nations would feel bad about themselves.
1) Osama Bin Laden didn't tell us to get the hell out of South Korea like he did Saudi Arabia – so we don't need to move our troops to North Korea.