Don't Panic

Friday, January 20, 2012

Atlanta Jewish Times publisher: I'm sorry for that assassinate-the-president column

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Gawker's John Cook today points us to a recent enlightening column titled "What would you do?" by Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, one of metro Atlanta's many community newspapers.

Does Andy want readers' advice about beekeeping? How to tell kids "no?" Nope, he's tackling the touchy issue of how Israel should protect itself from terrorist groups and Iran — particularly when the United States might be hesitant to start conflicts.

Among the options he's brainstormed: tell U.S.-based Mossad agents to "take out" a president "deemed unfriendly to Israel." (Cook's posted Adler's entire column, which was only available in the print edition, here. Here are the graphs that caught people's attention.)

Three, give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.

Yes, you read "three" correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don't you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles?

Another way of putting "three" in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives...Jews, Christians and Arabs alike?

You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.

When asked by CL how his day was going, Adler said "it's been better." He told us that he only wrote the column to get a reaction from the local community.

"I don't advocate anything," Adler said." "I don't preach anything. Wasn't calling for action, anything like that... Do i regret writing it and how I did it? Very much so and I apologize to anyone who took it differently. But in no way shape or form do I support the overthrowing [of the country] in order for Israel to do its thing."

He says he hasn't heard from any law enforcement officials or the Secret Service about the column.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tea party's newest reason to oppose rail: It's a possible terrorist target

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 2:56 PM

The Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party — one of the Peach State's 20 or so liberty-lovin' groups — says it will oppose the regional transportation tax that voters will decide next year.

In addition to the usual reasons some anti-tax advocates have given to oppose the measure, GTP Chairman J.D. Van Brink says a proposed light-rail line between Midtown and Cumberland Mall area — which could be built with revenues from the tax — could become a tempting target for The Terrorists©. Via the MDJ:

“If anyone doesn’t believe me — England and Spain,” Van Brink said. “Now, if we have a more decentralized mass transit system using buses, if the terrorists blow up a single bus, we can work around that. When they blow up a rail, that just brings the system to a grinding halt. So how much security are we going to have on this rail system, and how much will it cost?”

The tea party group's opposition is the latest against the proposed light-rail line, which critics say only serves a few miles of Cobb County and doesn't do enough to reduce congestion. Such opponents have managed to rally local elected officials in a call for the $800 million that's earmarked for the rail line to instead fund... more roads. (It's hard to gauge whether GTP's opposition — or any other tea party group's — will have any effect. Peach Pundit's Todd Rehm eloquently expresses why here.)

The regional transportation tax is still very much in flux. Atlantans have a chance to give planners their input at City Hall tomorrow night at 6 p.m. The roundtable of 21 elected officials who will decide which roads and transit lines will receive tax funding are scheduled to meet Friday morning. They must approve the project list before mid-October.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Cynthia McKinney visits spring break hotspot known as 'Libya'

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 9:01 AM

A former Georgia congresswoman who was loved by Republicans and Democrats alike and never generated any controversy reportedly dropped by a state-run Libyan TV station to, ya know, just kick it and talk military conflicts. So sayeth CNN:

"I think that it's very important that people understand what is happening here. And it's important that people all over the world see the truth. And that is why I am here ... to understand the truth," former Rep. Cynthia McKinney said during a live interview.

She said she was invited to Libya by the "nongovernmental organization for fact-finding," adding that she intends to bring more people to the country soon so that "they too can understand." [...]

At one point during the interview, state TV cut to what it said were live airstrikes, hitting Gadhafi's compound.

"Is that a bomb?" McKinney asked.

It's not the first time McKinney ventured into harm's way. You'll recall that in 2008, the former congresswoman was aboard a boat carrying medical supplies to Gaza that was, according to passengers, rammed by the Israeli Navy.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The last-ever Don't Panic!: Is Pakistan on the verge of collapse?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 9:11 AM

Pakistan The End

My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq” at least 14 times in print and on radio and television.

Inspired by FAIR’s amusing/annoying compilation of Friedman’s bad habit, blogger Atrios coined the phrase Friedman Unit, or F.U. Literally, a Friedman Unit means six months. Figuratively, it’s a sarcastic jab at every middle-of-the-road so-called foreign policy expert who peddled glib, superficial and completely wrong “analysis” of the Iraq war. “Gosh, you mean events that occur in the near future will determine the course of the, um, near future. Cool. Hey can I have a Pulitzer Prize, too? “

Indeed, my writing is more superficial and glib than most. I’m basically a comedian riffing on the latest issue of The Economist. But unlike all the “serious” pundits who predicted the Iraq war’s rightness and ultimate success, my prognostication was largely correct.

I said the war was a stupid idea and wrote about how disastrously it was progressing way before the idiots on the Sunday news shows were willing to acknowledge it. I’m not psychic. I just happen to understand the difference between a goal and a workable plan. “Let’s topple Saddam Hussein and install a democracy in Iraq” is a goal, not a plan. Bush and his neo-conservative brain trust were all goal and no plan.

I mention the F.U., because I have my own cliché. I’ve lost count of the columns I’ve written about Pakistan’s impending collapse. I honestly don’t know if Pakistan’s government will disappear, but I do believe Pakistan will lose meaningful control of an ever-growing portion of the country during the next several Friedman Units.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Don't Panic!: How many civilians is the U.S. killing in Afghanistan?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 10:24 AM


The cover of Time magazine’s August 9, 2010 issue is a portrait of an 18-year-old Afghan woman named Aisha. A Taliban gang amputated Aisha’s nose and ears with a knife as punishment after Aisha had the temerity to run away from her husband’s house to escape her abusive in-laws. Left on a mountain to bleed to death, Aisha survived. She’s now a beautiful woman with a hole in the middle of her face where her nose should be.

Aisha is presented in the story as an icon of what more women could endure if and when the U.S. and its allies withdraw from Afghanistan. The international military presence couldn’t save Aisha from her attack, but if the Taliban expands its area of control in the absence of a military opponent, Taliban gangsters will likely be able to gets their hands on even more Aishas.

I shouldn’t say if. It’s really a when. American generals and politicians have for years been saying that the ultimate solution to the Afghan war will be political rather military. In plain English, that means American leaders have accepted that we will not eliminate the Taliban or Talibanism with military force. The initial success of Bush’s Operation Enduring Freedom was a single victorious battle in a long war. Every year since their overthrow, the Taliban have gained strength. There will never be a World War II-like surrender ceremony where Mullah Omar or some other Talibastard sits at a table with Gen. David “Don’t Call Him Betray Us” Petraeus to sign a surrender treaty denouncing all things Taliban. The best we can hope for is a political settlement that allows the Taliban control of certain parts of Afghanistan, as well as representation in the Afghan government.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Potty-mouthed Ramadan Don't Panic!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 3:45 PM

I don't often re-read my old Don't Panic columns. It feels like looking at old yearbook pictures. But the beginning of Ramadan on Wednesday prompted a bit of satisfying self-Googling:

So for those of you who want to know what Ramadan is, here's my fatwa-worthy explanation:

Fasting during Ramadan is intended to instill in Muslims self-control and patience. It's training, just in case God ever has a difficult test for you. It's also a great opportunity for Muslims if they ever decide to commercialize Ramadan like the West has done with its holidays. In a country obsessed with weight loss, I can easily imagine the Ramadan Diet taking its rightful place in the pantheon on fad diets, somewhere between Dr. Atkins and Herbalife.

In reality though, fasting is just part of the ritual self-denial that makes up Ramadan. Sexual activity also is restricted during Ramadan. Nookie between married people is not allowed during the day. If you and your spouse are unable to control your impulses and, for example, engage in a lunch-hour quickie, you're required to make up for it by either fasting for an additional 60 days or by feeding 60 poor people one meal each.

Read the rest.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don't Panic!: Is Obama cutting the military's budget?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Is Obama cutting the military’s budget?

As a rule, I try never to impute bad motives on political figures whose political positions I don’t necessarily agree with. Honest people can disagree.

For example, when top Republicans like Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin speak-out in opposition in the construction of Muslim community center and mosque two-blocks from the World Trade Center site in Manhattan, I don’t automatically assume that they’re craven bigots pandering to the Republican Party’s proudly Islamophobic southern base. That would be presumptuous of me.

Instead, I just assume Palin and Gingrich are nice, well-meaning people who just happen to have never read the U.S. Constitution and who are ignorant of New York’s proud diversity because they seldom (if ever) see the parts of NYC that aren’t visible during their short walks from the front door of Fox News’s Sixth Avenue studio to their limos.

I also assume Palin and Gingrich are just as strongly opposed to the construction of new mainstream Christian church facilities in cities where violent extremist Christians have committed atrocities. I bet they’d say “No new churches in Oklahoma City because Timothy McVeigh was a Christian” if you asked them. Too bad the biased liberal media never asks.

My willingness to give politicians the benefit of the doubt about their motives, however, vanishes when obvious, undeniable facts are ignored.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is Hezbollah infiltrating the U.S. from Mexico?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 1:40 PM

  • Illustration by Andisheh Nouraee
Depending on your political views, general disposition and home improvement skill level, you probably have one of four reactions when you see a bunch of men waiting around Home Depot parking lots for day-labor gigs.

1) “That must suck.” 2) “I really could use some help painting my soffits.” 3) “These illegals are taking jobs away from all the hardworking REAL Americans who are eager to help me mulch my azaleas for $8/hour. 4) “These Mexicans are threatening our way of life in some vague way I can’t describe except to assure you that I’m totally not a racist and I resent you for implying I’m a racist just because I’m constantly voicing my anger about nonwhites and, in fact, I think you’re racist for calling me a racist.”

I would like you add a fifth reaction to your emotional repertoire.

Try pointing at the men and screaming, “Terrorist!”

If North Carolina Republican Congresswoman Sue Myrick has her way, we’ll all be yelling “terrorist!” soon.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Don't Panic!: What are the world's failingest failed states?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 10:00 AM


The Fund For Peace is an educational group headquartered in D.C. that “works to prevent war and alleviate the conditions that cause conflict.”

Naturally, I hate them. Without war and conflict, I’ve got no career. What am I gonna do for money? Write poetry? Every decent rhyme for “Nantucket” has already been taken. Suck it. Duck it. Kirby Puckett.

But this isn’t all me-me-me. I’m worried about others, too. Think of all the hard-working explosives makers, prosthetic limb polishers, and mortuary refrigeration technicians who’ll be out of work if these Fund For Peacenik freaks get their way. Careers aren’t just about money. They’re about giving people a sense of purpose. Without purpose, the soul is drained and self-esteem vanishes.

These Fund For Peace pricks don’t care though. In fact, there’s strong evidence to suggest they enjoy injuring the self-esteem of others.

How else do you explain the Failed States Index — Fund For Peace’s annual list of nations ranked by how violent, unstable and destitute they are?

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't Panic!: Is it good to live in a country with mineral wealth?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 5:05 PM

In 2006, American geologists began conducting surveys to figure out if Afghanistan had any significant mineral wealth. The deposits they eventually discovered are way more than a mother lode.

I’m not up on my mining slang, so I don’t know the precise slang one is supposed to use to indicate a mineral deposit larger than a mother lode. A maternity ward lode? A crowded OB/GYN waiting room lode? A mall restaurant happy hour with a half-off Pinot Grigio MILF special lode?

What exactly did the geologists find? Enough iron and copper to make Afghanistan one of the largest exporters of both. Enough gold to blingee all of south and central Asia. And enough niobium to do a lot of whatever the heck niobium does. (Writer Googles niobium and determines it's used for metal alloys in jet and rocket engines, as well as MRI machines. Writer is more-than-willing to “Bing” instead of “Google” in future columns, if Microsoft gives him an xbox 360.)

Our nosey geologists seem most excited about the vast sea of lithium baked into the earth underneath Afghanistan’s Ghazni province. Early indications suggest it’s one of, if not the biggest lithium deposit in the world.

Lithium is indispensable to modern life. Psychiatrists rely on it to treat severe mood disorders. Electronics makers rely on it as the key ingredient in rechargeable batteries. The original Star Trek crew relied on it for the dilithium crystals that powered the Enterprise to speeds faster than light. And Nirvana relied on it as the fifth song on its seminal Nevermind album.

You see, without “Lithium,” Nevermind would have gone straight from song four (“Breed”) to song six (“Polly”) which have wrecked the flow. No lithium, no entire 1990s. Think about it.

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