Tag Archives: Jon Bershad

Another Reason, Another Season, Another Palin Post

Sean Cockerham and Kyle Hopkins at Anchorage Daily News:

A leaked manuscript by one of Sarah Palin’s closest aides from her time as governor charges that Palin broke state election law in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign and was consumed by petty grievances up until she resigned.

The unpublished book by Frank Bailey was leaked to the media and widely circulated on Friday.

The manuscript opens with an account of Palin sending Bailey a message saying “I hate this damn job” shortly before she resigned as Alaska’s governor in July 2009, less than three years into her four-year term. The manuscript goes on for nearly 500 pages, a mixture of analysis, gossip and allegation.

Copies of the manuscript were forwarded around Alaska political circles on Friday. The Daily News received copies from multiple sources, the first from author Joe McGinniss, who is working on his own Palin book. McGinniss didn’t respond to a message asking where he obtained the manuscript and the reason he circulated it.

Bailey, a political insider who joined Palin’s 2006 campaign for governor and became part of her inner circle, has never before told his version of the Palin story. Bailey has consistently refused requests for interviews and did so again Friday. The book was co-written with California author Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon of Anchorage, who publishes the popular anti-Palin website Mudflats.

Caitlin Dickson at The Atlantic:

The book comes with all sorts of caveats–it’s not yet published, there’s been no outside verifcation, and Palin has yet to comment–but these are the new nuggets that Palin obsessives are digesting:

  • Palin may have violated Alaska’s state election law by collaborating with the Republican Governor’s Association on a campaign ad. “State candidates can’t team up with soft-money groups such as the Republican Governor’s Association, which paid for TV commericials and mailers in Alaska during the election in a purported ‘independent’ effort,” the Anchorage Daily News’ Sean Cockerham and Kyle Hopkins explain.
  • Bailey claims he was “recruited” by Palin’s husband, Todd, to take down Mike Wooten, a fire trooper who was engaged in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister, his ex-wife. According to Bailey, “Todd Palin kept feeding him information on Wooten, which he passed on to troopers.” Bailey also asserts that the selection of Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen as one of the top two judges considered for Supreme Court appointment by the governor was directly influenced by Christen’s ruling against Wooten in the custody fight with Palin’s sister.
  • Palin supposedly abandoned a commitment to work with the Alaska Family Council to promote a ballot initiative outlawing abortions for teens because she was working on her book. In the manuscript, Bailey writes that this was the final straw, as he had realized Palin was motivated primarily by the prospect of making money.
  • Bailey claims that the campaign trail revealed Palin’s widespread support was less than genuine. Bailey recalls, “we set our sights and went after opponents in coordinated attacks, utilizing what we called ‘Fox News surrogates,’ friendly blogs, ghost-written op-eds, media opinion polls (that we often rigged), letters to editors, and carefully edited speeches.”

Andrew Sullivan:

Frank Bailey’s co-authored manuscript, “Blind Allegiance To Sarah Palin,” which leaked out via his agent’s emails to potential publishers, is dynamite. Why? Because Bailey was as close to the Palins as anyone from Palin’s first race for governor to the bitter end, is a rock-ribbed Fox News Republican, has vast amounts of firsthand data (the emails he has published alone reveal a lot), has contempt for Trig skeptics like yours truly, and comes to a simple conclusion in retrospect: Palin is a dangerous, vindictive, incompetent, congenital liar who has no business in any public office. Any publisher interested in the truth about Palin (Harper Collins therefore need not apply) should fight to publish it.

There’s a useful summary of its contents at the Anchorage Daily News, and some notes from the paper’s gossip column with this tart truth:

In the end, what makes Bailey’s manuscript worth more than other Sarah books is his liberal use of contemporaneous records — long quotes from e-mails written at the time by the actual participants. If you want to understand who Sarah really is, you can’t beat her own words.

There’s also just, well, nutritious nuggets like the following. Bailey describes Palin’s eventual media strategy: avoid any MSM interviews and get talking points out through surrogates. Who were they? Bailey names names: Bill Kristol, Mary Matalin, former Bush aides Jason Recher and Steve Biegun, GOP officials Nick Ayers and Michael Steele, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity, and Bill O‘Reilly.

Jon Bershad at Mediaite:

Unlike that other Palin book in the pipeline, Bailey wasn’t just geographically close to his subject (strangely, the Anchorage Daily News reports that author and Palin-neighbor Joe McGinniss was one of the people to pass them the leaked manuscript), he was actually a close confidant to both Palin and her husband, Todd. The book was reportedly put together with the help of 60,000 emails back and forth between he and the former governor. It actually opens with a quote from one of those emails as Palin tells Bailey she “hate[s] this damn job,” shortly before her resignation.

But, everyone’s wondering, what’s the dirtiest “all” that this tell-all “tells?”

Ed Morrissey:

The article quotes several passages from Bailey’s book, but none of them seem to rise to a level of scandalous behavior or shocking revelation.  Palin obsesses over her media image?  Well, maybe, but few politicians at the national level don’t.  Palin confidentially told Bailey “I hate this damn job”?  Even people who love their jobs have those moments, especially jobs with large responsibilities.  Bailey wonders why Palin decided to get caught up in the Carrie Prejean controversy in May 2009:

Concludes Bailey after the episode: “The question we failed to ask was: What does this possibly have to do with being governor of Alaska? While it had nothing to do with Alaska, it had plenty to do with publicity. Fox News made this an ongoing story, giving it wall-to-wall coverage. Sean Hannity in particular latched on with both hands. With Sarah suddenly an outspoken supporter, he had gorgeous Prejean on one arm and sparkling Governor Palin on the other. He appeared a happy man.”

It’s not exactly an unfair question, but it also presumes that every other governor ignores national stories and keeps themselves insulated, which is hardly the case.  Palin by this time had already become a national political figure, especially on conservative issues through the burgeoning Tea Party movement, and had been outspoken on social issues since the presidential election.  It’s hardly surprising that Palin would want to work to keep up a national profile, which is harder to do from Alaska, both for the grassroots leadership she wanted to provide and for her own political ambitions.  While it’s a fair point for criticism from the perspective of Alaskans, it’s hardly the mystery or the anomaly Bailey suggests.

Alex Pareene at Salon

Wonkette:

“A leaked manuscript by one of Sarah Palin’s closest aides from her time as governor charges that Palin broke state election law in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign and was consumed by petty grievances up until she resigned.” Nah, that doesn’t sound like her. Must be a governor of another unpopulated northern meth-and-jerky wasteland they’re thinking of. On the other hand, it appears this book has been leaked to Wonkette at least twice, by somebody with a South African e-mail address. And the publisher is said to be upset. Fine. Anyway, here is the good quote holding everything together, dating to right before her resignation as governor: “I hate this damn job.” If she didn’t like that job, she must be very happy she will never be president!

Laura Donovan at The Daily Caller:

Pam Pryor Palin, spokeswoman for Palin’s political action committee, said Palin probably won’t acknowledge Bailey’s book.

“Doubt she will respond to this kind of untruth,” Pryor wrote in an email to the Daily News.

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The Idea That There Are Sexual Images On MTV Is Shocking… Shocking

Brian Stelter at NYT:

MTV executives have a new hit drama on their hands, featuring the sexual and drug-fueled exploits of misfit teenagers. They also have something else — a fear that coming episodes of the show may break the law.

In recent days, executives at the cable channel became concerned that some scenes from the provocative new show “Skins” may violate federal child pornography statutes.

The executives ordered the producers to make changes to tone down some of the most explicit content.

They are particularly concerned about the third episode of the series, which is to be broadcast Jan. 31. In an early version, a naked 17-year-old actor is shown from behind as he runs down a street. The actor, Jesse Carere, plays Chris, a high school student whose erection — assisted by erectile dysfunction pills — is a punch line throughout the episode.

The planned changes indicate that MTV, which has been pushing the envelope for decades, may be concerned that it pushed too far this time.

“Skins” is a calculated risk by MTV which is eager to get into the scripted programming business. The channel, a unit of Viacom, has long tested American standards for sexuality and obscenity on television with shows like “The Real World” and “Jersey Shore.”

Those reality shows have generally involved adults, but for “Skins,” the producers purposefully cast actors ages 15 to 19, most of whom had never acted before.

MTV’s president and other executives declined interview requests on Wednesday. An MTV spokeswoman, Jeannie Kedas, insisted that the future episodes of “Skins” were still works in progress. She would not confirm that MTV executives were fearful of running afoul of child pornography laws.

Jon Bershad at Mediaite:

According to the article, some MTV executive watched a cut of the show and suddenly freaked out because they were afraid that they had broken child pornography laws. They rushed to have the episode in question edited. And then…just for kicks I suppose…they decided to call up The New York Times to have them report on the whole thing. If you believe that, well, you’re probably pretty naive (no offense!). While I’m sure there’s a possibility that MTV edited a scene from the show after standards and practices got a look at it, I have pretty high doubts anyone was legitimately worried about getting hauled off to jail. No, this seems like nothing but a rumor designed to get a new show some press.

But what does that mean? Basically it means that MTV is now marketing their show with the promise of potential child pornography and the media is helping them. Not only did The New York Times cover this “story” (on the front page!), but a bunch of other media outlets picked it up. Morning Joe did a whole segment this morning that began with Joe Scarborough asking “Why should I be afraid of Skins?” You know there were some good high fives all around the MTV offices when that sentence got uttered.

Shows like Skins have always gotten by on their controversy and the promise of scandalous content. A few years ago, the show Gossip Girl used a brilliant ad campaign that quoted negative and outraged reviews from the likes of the Parents Television Council. However, actually going out and saying the phrase “child pornography” is just so damned cynical. MTV is basically betting that they will get more viewers if people think there are actual naked 15 year olds on this show. They may be right but, God, is it a creepy way to run your business.

So, no, Skins is not child pornography. In fact, it’s a neutered version of the original British show (which, by the way, was actually pretty darn good for two seasons) since MTV isn’t able to feature profanity or nudity.* People are going to say MTV should be ashamed and they certainly should. Not for airing an edgy show, but for trying to profit off the demand for child porn. And anyone who reports this nonsense should feel ashamed for believing it.

Adrian Chen at Gawker:

Of course, the main reason MTV’s target audience will continue to tune into this lackluster remake of the British version is because of its purported edginess. (Tuesday’s premier boasted solid numbers.) And herein lies the problem: How do you make a super-edgy teen drama while simultaneously reassuring some suit back at Viacom that he won’t be carted off as a kiddie pornographer?

Here’s our suggestion: gratuitous violence. Have one of the kids mow down a bunch of pedestrians in an SUV or something—just make sure she’s fully-clothed while doing it.

Erin Brown at Newsbusters:

“Skins” is hypocritical programming for MTV, which has been praised for its portrayalof the reality of teen pregnancy with the hit show “16 and pregnant” and its follow up series “Teen Mom.” The platform of casual sex and living life without consequences as appears in “Skins” stands in direct contrast to the harsh realities that actual teen mothers face and as Michael Inbar for the “Today” show put it, “the often painful resultsof youthful hookups.”

To further entice indecent behavior among teens, the MTV website for “Skins” has launched a new section called, “Where it went down.” Readers are encouraged to anonymously post on a mapof the world where “every kind of trouble” occurred. The website whereitwentdown.com actually encourages posters to “Browse and share the places where memories were made – and the scattered pieces of nights you can’t really remember. Post the truth about the biggest parties, heartbreak, friends, sex, and every kind of trouble.”

Despite the nasty content, one media critic still found a way to praise the show. “‘Skins’ feels raw and gritty… Only the show’s target audience will know how true its portrayal of adolescence is, but it should make many parents pay closer attention to what’s going on in their teenagers’ lives” wrote Amy Amatangelo of the Boston Herald.

Despite its success, the media need to accurately report the consequence-free filth that this show and this network are promoting. Truthful reviews such as this onefrom James Poniewozik from Time magazine can go a long way in exposing the muck of this program.

“There’s far more flesh, swearing and toking on Skins than on the edgiest CW soap, but what may be most shocking to an American audience is how insouciantly it defies teen TV’s unwritten mandate of consequences. On U.S. teen dramas, you can titillate the audience with bad behavior so long as, at some point, there’s a pregnancy scare or a cautionary drug overdose…Skins, like the movies Superbad and Dazed and Confused, instead admits that teenagers seek out sex and drugs because they feel good.”

Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair:

Given MTV’s history of publicity stunts, the network spokeswoman’s claims of Skins’s legality seem convincing. Recall Snooki’s globe-squatting kerfuffle: the Jersey Shore employee was supposedly going to be dropped in a ball over Times Square at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. At the last minute, though, sphere-ensconced Snooki was relocated to New Jersey, as MTV never received permission to conduct the event in Times Square. The ordeal engendered weeks of press coverage.

For other instances of MTV publicity stunts, look no further than nearly every annual iteration of the Video Music Awards, a broadcast that inevitably includes an unforeseen act of animosity (cf. Bruno and Eminem) or adoration (cf. Britney and Madonna).

James Poniewozik at Time:

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but the concerns seem to stem from the fact that many of the actors who play teens on the show (as in the original British version) are under 18. So while there’s not live sex on camera—having seen four episodes in advance, I actually found the series’ depictions of drugs more unusual for American TV than its sex scenes—the definition of pornography is trickier when underage actors are involved.

As Stelter notes, a picture of a naked minor can itself be ruled child porn if it’s sufficiently sexualized. But the one scene the piece describes executives specifically being concerned about—a male character shown running down the street naked—is not, as I recall, a sex-charged scene. (It’s played, like a lot of scenes in Skins, for a combination of drama and slapstick.)

It raises scads of definitional questions: Does the fact that the actor is shown (but not shown naked) in other sexual scenes therefore make this scene more sexualized? Does the presence of other sex scenes involving other characters elsewhere in the episodes make the scene more sexual? Would the scene constitute pornography if it were, say, an underage actor running naked down a street in a war movie? Are depictions of teen characters in sexual situations inherently pornographic, or does the use of teen actors drive it over the line? What’s dirtier: two adult actors playing teens having sex, or a teenage actor shown naked in a scene that doesn’t involve sex?

Again, not a lawyer. (And I haven’t seen every episode shot, so it’s possible there is other, unmentioned material they’re nervous about.) But I have to wonder, if MTV’s executives are suddenly concerned about the legal liability, how could it not have occurred to them earlier in the process—especially since the use of teen actors has been one of the show’s best-publicized aspects, and since the show was very directly adapted from a British show that already exists for comparison?

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John P. Wheeler: 1944-2010

Jon Bershad at Mediaite:

Tragic news out of Delaware as a body discovered in a Delaware landfill on New Years Eve has been confirmed as John P. Wheeler III, a decorated veteran who worked with three different Presidential administrations. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Wheeler served in the Vietnam War, served as an aide to both Bush administrations as well as the Reagan administration, and was the chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund with whom he was instrumental in getting the Vietnam Memorial built. Recently, he had been working to get the ROTC brought back to Ivy League campuses. He was last seen on an Amtrak train last Tuesday.

Mark Thompson at Swampland at Time:

John Wheeler was one of those outer planets in the capital’s solar system, never drawing too close to the Sun but riding the country’s business in an elliptical orbit that would bring him closer to the heat every once in awhile. I can remember discussing the plight of Vietnam veterans with him — and their push for a memorial to commemorate their sacrifice — as well pondering the threat that cyber war posed to America. Sure, the topics were 180 degrees, and three decades, apart, but that’s the kind of Renaissance man Jack Wheeler was.
It came as a shock to all of us who knew him that Wheeler — West Point (1966), Harvard (1969) and Yale (1975) — ended up dead in a Delaware dump on Friday. There’s little publicly known about Wheeler’s final days, although he was believed to have been aboard an Amtrak train from the capital to Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday. His body surfaced as a trash truck — after picking up debris from 10 bins on the east side of Newark, Del., dumped its load at a landfill. Police have not specified how he died. He lived in nearby New Castle, Del., with his wife, Katherine Klyce, owner of a New York-based Cambodian silk company.
Jennifer Epstein at Politico:

John P. Wheeler III, a defense contractor who had worked for presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, was last seen on Dec. 30 at 3:30 p.m. near the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington – about two blocks from the office the lawyer handling his real estate case.

Information about the spotting was provided by a tipster and a police were able to confirm it, a spokesman said.

James Fallows:

I worked with Jack on a book called Touched With Fire, about the post-war experiences of people who were in uniform during Vietnam and people who (like me) were actively opposing the war. He was chairman of the committee that got the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built. That is now taken as a great, triumphant icon of commemorative architecture, but at the time the “black gash of shame” was bitterly controversial, and Jack Wheeler was in the middle of the controversy — raising money, getting approvals, collecting allies and placating critics until the wall was built. A few days before it opened he called to invite me to be one of the readers who would, over a long stretch of hours, take turns saying aloud the names of every person recorded on the wall.

He was a complicated man of very intense (and sometimes changeable) friendships, passions, and causes. His most recent crusade was to bring ROTC back to elite campuses, as noted here. That is what I was corresponding with him about  in recent months. To be within email range of Jack was to look forward to frequent, lengthy, often urgent-sounding and often overwrought dispatches on the state of the struggle. Late at night on Christmas Day, I was surprised to see this simple note from him:

>>Jim, Merry Christmas, Old Friend. Onward and upward.

Jack<<

I replied — thank goodness!, I now think — and assumed I would hear more from him soon on the ROTC struggle.

I have no idea what kind of trouble he may have encountered. As a lawyer quoted in the Delaware Online story said, “This is just not the kind of guy that gets murdered.” I feel terrible for his family and hope they will eventually find comfort in knowing how many important things he achieved.

Instapundit:

HMM: Body of Murdered Ex-GOP Official, a Yale Law Grad, is Found in Del. Landfill. “This is just not the kind of guy who gets murdered.”

Robert Stacy McCain:

No reason to speculate about this crime. Just let the police do their work. Nevertheless, we can expect that conspiracy theorists will offer all kinds of arcane explanations

Lady Liberty at Gateway Pundit

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And Tying It All Up With A Pretty Bow, Reality Television

Jon Bershad at Mediaite:

Earlier this week, three alleged terrorists were arrested in Canada. As investigators looked into their history, a truly bizarre piece of information surfaced. One of them, Khurram Sher, had appeared on Canadian Idol, a show which is exactly like American Idol except for having super polite judges. We’ve got the clip of his appearance in which he sings a song by fellow public menace Avril Lavigne and (SPOILER AND HORRIBLE PUN WARNING) bombs horribly.

The Jawa Report:

Best terrorism story evah? It’s like watching a real life Da Ali G show. Only, you know, funny.

Weasel Zippers:

His way of redeeming himself in Allah’s eyes for singing a chick song while doing the robot and moonwalking on national TV?…

Allah Pundit:

Three possibilities: (1) He was auditioning as a goof and figured his new persona would make it extra goofy, (2) he gambled that a “humble immigrant” trying his darnedest would have a better shot at advancing to the next round than a tone-deaf physician, or (3) he was already a jihadi sympathizer at the time and operating under deep, deep — deep — cover. To paraphrase Mediaite, the last place you’d look for an Al Qaeda plot is a guy on a talent show “doing the robot while singing a song written for teen girls.” And a moonwalk. Don’t forget the moonwalk.

Three men are charged in a plot to build IEDs and funnel money to terror groups in Afghanistan. Assuming that the charges are true, this clip is stark evidence of how quickly radicalization can happen.

Unrelated…

Suzi Parker at Politics Daily:

Can Bristol Palin dance?
We might find out if she ends up as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” the second biggest show on television behind “American Idol.”
Bristol, 19, the oldest daughter of Sarah Palin, may be tangoing on season 11 of the dance competition. She could be appearing along with David Hasselhoff, Audrina Patridge, The Situation and Brandy in the upcoming season, which premieres Sept. 20. ABC would not confirm any guest stars for the season. The official lineup will be announced Monday.
Earlier this summer, Bristol and her on-again, off-again fiancé, Levi Johnston, were rumored to be shopping for a reality television show. Johnston and Bristol are the parents of Tripp, who was born in Dec. 2008. Bristol is reportedly taking her Tripp with her to Los Angeles where “Dancing With the Stars” is filmed.
Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite:

All true according to sources! Phew. It is going to be a banner year. Maybe this is Bristol’s revenge on Levi for his philandering — the two were rumored to be starring together in their own reality show, up until they split and it became a Levi solo project. One thing I can say with assurance is that Steve Krakauer will be excited, ideally this line-up will result in Levi getting into a jealous feud with The Situation over Bristol.

Cassy Fiano:

Meanwhile, can you just imagine the liberal heads exploding if Bristol does well on the show? Oh, boy. I hope she’s ready for the vitriol that’s sure to be aimed her way. On the other hand… it’ll be worth watching just for the hateful “ZOMG BRISTOL IS WINNING ITS A CONSPIRACY!!!!1!!11!!” commentary alone.

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Filed under GWOT, Political Figures, TV

“Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom” Was A Dead Kennedys Single, Was It Not?

Lloyd Grove at The Daily Beast:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known by the acronym AQAP at the CIA, is about to release its first English-language magazine. It’s a Web-based journal of propaganda aimed at inciting violent acts among would-be terrorists living in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and other Western countries.

American officials are deeply concerned.

The magazine, which came to light in a slick banner advertisement on various jihadist websites in the past two days, is called Inspire—after a verse in the Koran urging faithful Muslims to “inspire the believers to overcome all fear of death” and “fight in Allah’s cause.”

The banner ad, over the caption “Soon,” features a slide show touting the magazine’s first issue: “A SPECIAL GIFT TO THE ISLAMIC NATION.” “The first magazine issued by Al-Qa’idah in the English language.” “INSPIRE… and inspire the believers.’” “An exclusive interview with Shayk Abu Basir [a top aide to Osama bin Laden] and with Shaykh Anwar al-Awlaki as a guest writer.”

It’s apparently the project of New Mexico-born jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemen-based former imam who is said to have “inspired” three of the 9/11 hijackers; the perpetrator of the Fort Hood massacre, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan; the Christmas Day underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab; and the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad. The 39-year-old Awlaki—dubbed “the bin Laden of the Internet”—is a prime target of U.S. counterterrorism operations.

Marc Ambinder:

It’s called “Inspire,”  and you can read parts of it below. A U.S. official said early this morning that the magazine appears to be authentic.

“Inspire” includes a “message to the people of Yemen” directly transcribed from Ayman Al-Zawahari, Al Qaeda’s second in command, a message from Osama Bin Laden on “how to save the earth,”  and the cover includes a quotation from Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who is believed to be directly connected to the attempt to destroy an airplane over Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day. (The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, made that disclosure at a security forum in Aspen, CO, Fox News reported.)

The table of contents teases an interview with the leader of AQAP who promises to “answer various questions pertaining to the jihad in the Arabian Peninsula.”  It includes a feature about how to “make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”

AQAP’s first effort to post the magazine to jihadist websites failed Wednesday, as many of the pages were contaminated with a virus. (I half seriously believe that U.S. cyber warriors might have had a hand in that little surprise.)

The U.S. is quite worried about Al Qaeda’s new publishing ambitions, which mark a more sophisticated effort to engage the English-language world and to recruit English-speaking Muslims to join the cause.

The copy was obtained from a private researcher. AQAP had advertised for days that the magazine would appear with the interviews specified in the table of contents. It is possible, although not likely, that the magazine is a fabrication, a  production of a Western intelligence agency that wants to undermine Al Qaeda by eroding confidence in its production and distribution networks. The U.S. is engaged in direct net-based warfare with jihadis; this sort of operation would not be too difficult to pull off.

Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy:

Marc Ambinder gots his paws on a copy of the first issue, and it’s as ridiculous as you might imagine. One article, by someone named “the AQ chef,” is called “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.” There’s an essay by Yahya Ibrahim, a radical Canadian-born  preacher, entitled “The West Should Ban the Niqab Covering Its Real Face.” There’s a “message to the people of Yemen” from al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, a column by Yemeni-American sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, an interview with the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Basir al Wahishi, and various practical lessons on such topics as sending encrypted messages and what you can expect when you join the jihad. It also has a page for “contact us,” which is intriguing — how does that work?

Granted, I’m not the target audience for this rag, and Brookings analyst Bruce Riedel makes a good point here: “From the standpoint of al Qaeda, it’s not intended to be a bestseller. They’re just looking for one guy who will be inspired by this to bomb Times Square, and this time maybe he will put together the bomb correctly.”

Still, I’d wager that the folks who are producing Inspire are going to get killed or captured before they inspire any such attacks. I also don’t think we’ll be seeing an al Qaeda iPad app anytime soon.

Spencer Ackerman at Danger Room at Wired:

Online and viral media is the most efficient distribution mechanism for the extremist message, which is why al-Qaida’s as-Sahab media unit is so prolific. And as-Sahab products run the gamut of information offerings, from high-production-value online films to cellphone videos, serving as both a recruitment tool and a rapid-response messaging shop for the numerous attacks from Muslim clerics on al-Qaida’s Islamic credentials. In its creation of a distributed virtual training camp for propaganda, recruitment and development of al-Qaida’s bench, as-Sahab is the literal version of Lifehacker.

Which makes Inspire look anomalous. It’s not, apparently, online yet. Ambinder reports that a virus corrupted an attempted upload on extremist websites on Wednesday. And it’s not apparently an as-Sahab product: It bears a banner of al-Malahem Media, the publishing arm of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a franchise of al-Qaida that trained Abdulmutallab on putting bombs in his underwear. And that’s even more fishy: Al-Jazeera’s Gregg Carlstrom tweets that it’s not al-Malahem’s typical logo.

“It is difficult at this point to confirm its authenticity,” says Marc Lynch, a George Washington University political science professor who specializes in Arabic-language media. For one thing, al-Qaida PDF uploads tend not to be corrupted by viruses. That’s not to say it couldn’t be a glitch — what magazine editor hasn’t experienced the pain of technical difficulties on launch day? — but for now, Lynch cautions, “We shouldn’t leap to any conclusions about what this means for al-Qaida strategy.”

In other words, don’t cancel your subscription to Technical Mujahid just yet. That magazine, at least, is not afraid to be service-y.

Max Read at Gawker:

And they said the magazine industry was dead! Well, they must have meant only the decadent, Godless, Western magazine industry, because al-Qaeda’s bold new English-language venture, Inspire, hit the internet on Wednesday. (Sort of. Apparently, only the first three pages were available, and the other 64 “were just garbled computer code.” Good job, guys.)

So, what’s the al-Qaeda editorial strategy? Service journalism, of course (it’s 2010, for God’s sake; magazines don’t sell themselves). Inspire, published by the terrorist group’s Yemen franchise, offers up how-tos (“Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” which is “a detailed yet short, easy-to-read manual on how to make a bomb using ingredients found in a kitchen”), guides (“What to Expect in Jihad”) and listicles (“6 Calls of al-Anfal”). There is even an “exclusive interview,” with Shaykh Abu Basir, the leader of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, and regular columns, including (excuse me while I LOL) something called “Open Source Jihad.” These guys should buy Newsweek!

Jon Bershad at Mediaite:

What, no Justin Bieber interview? Come on, Osama, you’re not going to sell jack without the Bieb!

So, are scary terrorists around the world now reading Inspire on their scary terrorist iPads? Well, not yet. It turns out the first versions of the magazine that were uploaded contained viruses that Ambinder proposes may have been put there by US operatives. I guess those operatives are just working overtime to make up for not shutting down that damn Rolling Stone article…

UPDATE: Christopher Beam at Slate

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Filed under GWOT, New Media

The Magical Mystery Senate Candidate

Suzy Khimm at Mother Jones:

An unemployed 32-year-old black Army veteran with no campaign funds, no signs, and no website shocked South Carolina on Tuesday night by winning the Democratic Senate primary to oppose Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Alvin Greene, who currently lives in his family’s home, defeated Vic Rawl, a former judge and state legislator who had a $186,000 campaign warchest and had already planned his next fundraising event. Despite the odds, Greene, who has been unemployed for the past nine months, said that he wasn’t surprised by his victory. “I wasn’t surprised, but not really. I mean, just a little, but not much. I knew I was on top of my campaign, and just stayed on top of everything, I just—I wasn’t surprised that much, just a little. I knew that I worked hard and did,” Greene said in an interview.

Greene insists that he paid the $10,400 filing fee and all other campaign expenses from his own personal funds. “It was 100 percent out of my pocket. I’m self-managed. It’s hard work, and just getting my message to supporters. I funded my campaign 100 percent out of my pocket and self-managed,” said Greene, who sounded anxious and unprepared to speak to the public. But despite his lack of election funds, Greene claims to have criss-crossed the state during his campaign—though he declined to specify any of the towns or places he visited or say how much money he spent while on the road.

“It wasn’t much, I mean, just, it was—it wasn’t much. Not much, I mean, it wasn’t much,” he said, when asked how much of his own money he spent in the primary. Greene frequently spoke in rapid-fire, fragmentary sentences, repeating certain phrases or interrupting himself multiple times during the same sentence while he searched for the right words. But he was emphatic about certain aspects of his candidacy, insisting that details about his campaign organization, for instance, weren’t relevant. “I’m not concentrating on how I was elected—it’s history. I’m the Democratic nominee—we need to get talking about America back to work, what’s going on, in America.”

The oddity of Greene’s candidacy has already prompted speculation from local media about whether he might be a Republican plant. But Greene denies that Republicans or anyone else had approached him about running. “No, no—no one approached me. This is my decision,” he said. A 13-year military veteran, he says he had originally gotten the idea in 2008 when he was serving in Korea. “I just saw the country was in bad shape two years ago…the country was declining,” he says. “I wanted to make sure we continue to go up on the right track.” But when asked whether there was a specific person or circumstance that precipitated his decision to jump into politics, Greene simply replied: “nothing in particular…it’s just, uh, nothing in particular.” South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler speculated that Greene won because his name appeared first on the ballot, and voters unfamiliar with both candidates chose alphabetically.

Haley Cohen at Vanity Fair:

After his shocking win, the Huffington Post had to solicit its readers for any tidbits about Greene, pleading: “Do YOU know anything about Alvin Greene? Do you have any photos of him?” The unemployed 32-year-old Army veteran lives with his parents and barely campaigned at all: he had no yard sign and no Web site, and he paid the $10,400 filing fee and all other campaign expenses out of his own pocket. According to Mother Jones, he didn’t show up to the South Carolina Democratic Party convention in April or file any of the mandatory paperwork for candidates with the state or the Federal Election Commission. The kicker? Charleston’s Live5news.com reported today that Greene is actually facing a pending felony charge for showing lewd Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student and suggesting they go to her dorm room.

So how the heck did this man beat out 64-year-old former four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl, who ran a $186,000 campaign? State Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler offered an uber-scientific reason, speculating that voters unfamiliar with either candidate may have voted for Greene because his name appeared first alphabetically. (Note: This theory may also account for how Bush won twice.)

Jim Geraghty at National Review Online:

If you read this in a novel, you would dismiss it as too outlandish.

David Weigel:

You’d think the local Democratic Party would avoid a disaster like that this year. Vic Rawl, a former state legislator, was not the party’s first choice — he raised about $230,452 and looked set to be the party’s sacrificial lamb against Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). He just went down by a 16-point margin to Alvin Greene. Who is Alvin Greene? A 32-year-old unemployed army veteran who paid the filing fee to run then promptly disappeared. When reached by Corey Hutchins to talk about his campaign, on the suspicion that he was a Republican plant, Greene was incoherent.

Asked if he thought it was a good investment to spend so much of his own money in a two-way Democratic primary to run against a popular Republican with millions in campaign cash, Greene replied: “Rather than just save the $10,000 and just go and buy gasoline with it, just take [it] and just be unemployed for [an] even longer period of time, I mean, that wouldn’t make any sense, um, just, um, but, uh, yes, uh … lowering these gas prices … that will create jobs, too. Anything that will lower the gasoline prices. Offshore drilling, the energy package, all that.”

And so Democrats face Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the political leaders of the tea party movement, with a wholly unserious candidate.

Ed Morrissey:

Um … wow.  Just … wow.  The Associated Press had better be sure of its reporting, because if this turns out to be another Alvin Greene, they’ll have to have their checkbooks handy.  They did call and ask for a response, but Greene told them he had no comment.

I guess this eliminates the whole family-values campaign, then?

Assuming this is true, Greene hasn’t yet been charged, but he had to put up a bond to get his release after the arrest.  Didn’t the state Democratic party do any sort of background check on their candidates?  This is exactly the kind of scandal that can not only eliminate any chance of beating DeMint but will also resonate through the down-ticket races as well.

Again, assuming this is true, does the party have any way to get Greene off of the ballot?  He won an open primary, which unlike conventions, are usually the final word in nominations.  I’m sure that South Carolina Democrats are frantically checking the answer to that question right now.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

No, I don’t know why anybody would bother further ensuring DeMint’s re-election: this goes far beyond ‘belt-and-suspenders’ and well into ‘plate armor’ territory.  But, seriously: where did this guy come from, where did he get the money to run…  and why has all of this been done for this race?  Is this some form of bizarre political performance art?

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Back in March he walked into the state Democratic headquarters with a personal check for $10,400. That’s the filing fee. The party people said they weren’t allowed to take a personal check. It had to come from a campaign account. So a few hours later he came back with a check from a campaign account. And he signed up to run.

And that was it. He held no events. He never campaigned. He didn’t go to the convention. He never filed any money filings. He never raised any money. He didn’t even have a website. In other words, by every conceivable measure he never actually mounted a campaign. When Mother Jones called him shortly after his victory and asked him what was up, he seemed hard pressed to explain why he had run or really anything about what was going on other than to insist that the ten grand was his money.

Now, if Rawl, the other guy, had had much hope of beating DeMint there would be a much more logical argument about why someone would want to put Greene up to this as some sort of dirty trick. But that’s not really true. Rawl seemed like a real, real longshot.

But still. I know people don’t have to be professional politicians to run for office. They don’t have to have conventional political ideas — to put it mildly. But when an out-of-work guy with no political background at all and no stated reason why he chose to run puts up ten grand to run in an election I’d really expect him to have some reason for running — some strong political beliefs, maybe some crankish political beliefs, the desire for exposure or self-promotion, something. But here, nothing. None of those seem to apply. That doesn’t make sense to me.

UPI:

South Carolina’s Democratic Party has asked the winner of the state’s U.S. Senate primary to drop out because of a reported felony charge, party officials said.

Alvin Greene, 32, is unemployed and living with his parents in Manning, ABC News reported. He was asked to leave the military last year after 13 years.

State Democratic Chairwoman Carol Fowler asked Greene to leave the race Wednesday, the party said in a message posted on its Web site, citing media reports Greene was recently charged with “disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity” by showing obscene photos to a University of South Carolina student.

“Today I spoke with Alvin Greene, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, and asked him to withdraw from the race,” Fowler said in a statement. “I did not do this lightly, as I believe strongly that the Democratic voters of this state have the right to select our nominee.”

Fowler said “the decisions of many of those voters” would have been affected if the report had come out before the election.

Wonkette:

If the whole thing wasn’t so shoddy and mean, it would almost seem like a Wonkette joke brought to life. “We need to get talking about America back to work, what’s going on, in America.” Uhh …. thanks for exceeding expectations, South Carolina!

UPDATE: John Sides

Rachel Slajda at TPM

Tom Schaller

Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s place

Doug Mataconis

UPDATE #2: Ed Pilkington at The Guardian

Wonkette

UPDATE #3: Jessica Taylor at Politico

Allah Pundit

Jon Bershad at Mediaite

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The Last Political Couple Left Standing Will Be Bill And Hillary, Just As The Mayans Predicted

Mike Allen at Politico:

Al and Tipper Gore, whose playful romance enlivened Washington and the campaign trail for a quarter century, have decided to separate after 40 years of marriage, the couple told friends Tuesday.

In an “Email from Al and Tipper Gore,” the couple said: “We are announcing today that after a great deal of thought and discussion, we have decided to separate.

“This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration. We ask for respect for our privacy and that of our family, and we do not intend to comment further.”

The e-mail was obtained by POLITICO and confirmed by Kalee Kreider of the office of Al and Tipper Gore. Kreider said there would be no further comment.

Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite:

Wow. Even in the messy world of political marriages this one comes as a shock

Ruth Marcus at WaPo:

So who would have thought that Bill and Hillary would outlast Al and Tipper? The Clintons’ marriage was — is? — famously complicated. The Gores’ marriage — well, except for that overwrought convention kiss — seemed pretty normal. Almost, you might say, “Love Story.” “It was just like everyone else melted away,” Tipper wrote of their meeting at his high school prom.

They survived four kids, their son’s accident, her depression, his loss.

You would have thought they were past whatever hump it is after which marriages can be deemed solid. There is something deeply unsettling about their decision to separate, because the pairing seemed so stable and so sensible — not two peas in a pod as much as two pieces that fit together.

Howard Fineman at Newsweek:

I’ve known Al and (less well) Tipper Gore since the early 1980s, and always thought that their marriage was the quirky, unstable leftover of their youths in the capital. Gore was as “federal” as you could get, the princely son of a senator living at the Fairfax Hotel and commuting up Massaschusetts Avenue to prep school at St. Albans. Tipper was all local, the fun-loving daughter or a well-to-do Arlington, Va ., businessman (and who gave the young couple the suburban house they lived in). It had to have been thrilling—and an act of teenage rebellion for them both—when they literally crossed the river for each other.

But the driven Gore—whose father reared him with the expectation that he would be president—was, after a fitful start (reporter, theology student)—focused intently on a political life. His wife, by contrast, always seemed unsettled in the role of the Good Wife, the dutiful, careful, and absorbed political spouse.

She did her best. In the old days, the Gores used to have a Christmas party at their Arlington home when their kids were young; Gore staffers would dress as Santas and elves. Al tried to enjoy these events (even though he wasn’t much for easy social chatter), but I always thought that Tipper, genial as she was,  seemed a bit nonplussed by the use of her home for such a mix of public, political, and private life.

Tipper loved to take photographs at events—a way to express herself artistically but always a way to distance herself from them.

The two sometimes could seem yoked together like the figures on a wedding cake. When, as vice president, they hosted Halloween parties, they dressed in elaborate costumes (provided by the Walt Disney Co.) that some years completely hid their identity as individuals. It was a kind of goof on the whole enterprise: guests had their pictures taken with “hosts” no one could identify. I didn’t think the Gores were enjoying themselves in the heavy armor of costumes.

Rod Dreher:

Forty years together, and now this. I remember thinking around the Monica Lewinsky scandal, that the Gores were so very different from the Clintons, whose marriage seemd like a business deal more than anything else. If the Gore break-up really isn’t about adultery on either side, then it seems that the failure of their marriage could be the cost of being a famous public figure. If Al is on the road here, there and everywhere, he’s not at home being a husband. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming him, necessarily. I don’t have any reason to put the blame on him, and I do hope that people who don’t like Al Gore as a politician and as an environmental advocate won’t take advantage of his personal crisis to whack on him. Still, if Al and Tipper Gore did grow apart over the years, surely his prominence and associated globetrotting was a major contributing factor in this sad end to their marriage. At least that’s what friends of their are anonymously telling the press.

Forty years. Man.

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Perhaps the love faded away through the years, like a slowly melting glacier. We suppose these things just happen sometimes. But while the Gores may never be the same again, we prefer to remember them at the peak of their love: making out in front of everybody at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

UPDATE: Jon Bershad at Mediaite

Maureen O’Connor at Gawker

UPDATE #2: On the scandal, The Smoking Gun

Ann Althouse

Ed Morrissey

John Hinderaker at Powerline

UPDATE #3: Stu Woo at WSJ

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