The weblog formerly called Non Sequitur has gone through a name change. It's now A Rational Being: A Free thinker's commentary on the irrational. I wish the blogger success with the new format, but I'll also be so bold to suggest that there's a delicate balance to be maintained between proselytizing for a particular philosophical outlook (which I generally abhor, wherever it originates from, and not withstanding that it's my own philosophy in question) and rational and skeptical examination of the irrationality of our prevailing beliefs, which is necessary and well worthwhile.
We only have to be lucky once; you will have to be lucky always.
Comment by the I.R.A. after a botched attempt to assassinate Margaret Thatcher
This threat is not going to go away. So we can't relax. If we do, that will produce the seam they'll go through. ... The N.Y.P.D. is on a hair trigger. The gap between information and action is the shortest I've ever experienced.
David Cohen New York City Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, (ex-CIA)
Your greatest fear is that they're out there below the horizon. ... You've got to find a level of intensity you can sustain. If we let ourselves get all spun up by every bullshit threat we get from Washington -- and not sleep for three nights, then sleep for two days -- something real will happen during those two days.
Michael Sheehan Deputy Commissioner for Counter Terrorism, (ex-Special Forces and Ambassador-at-Large for Counter Terrorism in the Clinton Administration)
Although it unfortunately appeared only in the print version of the magazine, William Finnegan's article in the July 25th The New Yorker on the NYPD's counter-terrorism program, "The Terrorism Beat", was quite good -- at once reassuring and disturbing. (Finnegan discusses the article here.)
Under Ray Kelly's command, the New York City Police Department has been profoundly reorganized since the terror attacks of 2001. Before the attacks, there were fewer than two dozen officers working the terrorism beat full time. Today, there are about a thousand. In some key areas, such as languages that are critical to counterterror work, the N.Y.P.D., drawing on a city of immigrants, has deeper resources than the federal agencies traditionally responsible for fighting international terrorism. Beyond the officers (and civilian analysts) working on terrorism exclusively, the department, which employs nearly fifty thousand people, has been comprehensively persuaded -- through intensive new training, new equipment, new protocols -- to think of counterterrorism as a fundamental part of what cops still call the Job.
The rationale for the N.Y.P.D.'s transformation after September 11th had two distinct facets. On the one hand, expanding its mission to include terrorism prevention made obvious sense. On the other, there was a strong feeling that federal agencies had let down New York City, and that the city should no longer count on the Feds for its protection. Some of Kelly's initiatives were incursions into territory normally occupied by the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. And yet few objections were raised. It was as if the Feds, reeling from September 11th, silently acknowledged New York's right to take extraordinary defensive measures. (Or, as one senior police officer said to me, "Do you think anybody in Washington has the balls to tell Ray Kelly he can't do something he decides to do?")
Within the counterterrorism world, the department's transformation is highly regarded. "The N.Y.P.D. is really cutting edge," Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior advisor at the RAND corporation and a respected authority on terrorism, told me. "They're developing best practices here that should be emulated across the country. The Feds could learn from them." The federal government must, of course, play the leading role in stopping international terrorism at the borders. But, Jenkins said, "As this thing metastasizes, cops are it. We're going to win this at the local level."
[Commissioner Ray] Kelly has been sharply critical of the Bush Administration's failure since September 11th to help New York protect itself. When I saw him at his office, where he sits at the desk that Theodore Roosevelt used when he was Commissioner, I asked him if the Administration had begun to do more. "We've seen some improvement," he said, "But it's not nearly what it should be, in my judgment. We're still defending the city pretty much on our own dime." He glanced out the window at downtown Manhattan. "We're defending the nation here," he said. "These are national assets."
Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, in 2002, there has been one large, inert, misshapen bureaucracy that, for New York, at least, symbolizes the extent of the Bush Administration's neglect. When Kelly says that New York is having to defend itself "pretty much on our own dime," he is referring, primarily, to the budgeting formula under which homeland-security funds are disbursed. In fiscal year 2004, Wyoming received $37.74 per capita, and North Dakota $30.82, while New York got $5.41. Among the fifty states, New York's per-capita allotment was forty-eighth. This bizarre formula is, from New York's standpoint, only slowly improving.
The bill for New York City's antiterror budget, which is roughly two hundred million dollars a year, is footed, for the most part, by the city itself. [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg's view has been, from the beginning, that Kelly should do whatever he considers necessary, and that a way to pay for it would be found later.
Hardening the target: that the term of art for the overarching goal of local counterterror work. It can help to know what's happening thousands of miles away [via NYPD officers assigned to overseas posts], but a densely layered system of municipal defense is a terrorism deterrent of a special type. It say, basically, Try another town.
There are obvious limits to what local cops can prevent. ... The attack plans for September 11th did not originate or mature locally, and nothing about them would necessarily have appeared on the radar of even today's extended, hyper-sensitive, metropolitan terror-detection system. The attacks came, literally, out of the air. Other law-enforcement or national-security agencies might have caught and stopped them, but that was the point -- that is exactly why New York has stepped up its defenses.
No counterterrorism program, no amount of homeland-security spending, can eliminate the threat. For politicians there is a temptation to hype it, to practice the politics of fear. Some, like Bloomberg, have resisted the temptation; the Bush Administration has not. But spreading alarm is one of the aims of terrorism and fearmongering subverts the counterterrorism effort, which essentially seeks to manage the threat. [Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David] Cohen, talking to [a symposium of terrorism experts last year] brought the N.Y.P.D.'s position into sharp focus when he said, "New York City sees more than a thousand arrests a day, and we have to watch them all -- watch for the one that means something to us." That is a description of serious counterterrorism work. It is done quietly, incessantly, with no gratuitous public alarms.
Endless vigilance, no victory; success means nothing happens. Such anti-drama is the essence of prevention.[Emphasis added - Ed]
The full piece is defintely worth a read if you can grab a copy of the magazine.
Peter Guillam: So Karla's fireproof. He can't be bought, and he can't be beaten.
George Smiley:Not fireproof! Because's a fanatic! I may have acted like a soft dough, the very archetype of a flabby Western liberal but I'd rather be my kind of fool than his. One day that lack of moderation will be Karla's downfall. [Emphasis added -- Ed]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (tv miniseries, 1979) based on the novel by John LeCarre adapted by Arthur Hopcraft directed by Frances Alcock and John Irvin spoken by Michael Jayston (Guillam) and Alec Guiness (Smiley)
Since the miniseries originally aired over 35 years ago, some people may not be familiar with it, but it really is wonderful. I don't know if it's worth the $40 - $50 it costs to buy it on DVD (I have a VHS copy recorded off the air from my local PBS station in the mid 80's), but I can guarantee that anyone who appreciates the quality of the various Prime Suspects will certainly enjoy Tinker Tailor. Helen Mirren, in fact, looks as if she studied closely the choices made by Alec Guiness as George Smiley when she created the character of Jane Tennison.
As for this particular quote, I thought it was appropriate for this moment in time.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.