Archive for December 5th, 2005

We Are All NOLA

This is not exactly news, but the 9/11 Commission confirms that the Bush administration is approaching homeland security with the same kind of zeal and competence they brought to New Orleans, both pre- and post-Katrina:

The 9/11 Commission released its final report today, outlining an array of shortcomings in the government’s response to the 2001 terrorist attacks and calling overall progress “disappointing.”

(snip)

The commission… criticized the continued lack of intelligence sharing between government agencies; the lack of progress in curtailing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the failure to establish a uniform standard for treating detainees; and the distribution of Department of Homeland Security money based on politics rather than on potential risk.

In a statement, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said the progress report issued by the commissioners today, showed that the Bush administration and Congress were “dangerously neglecting the defensive war on terror we should be fighting here at home.”

“The report is a top-to-bottom indictment of the federal government’s lack of resources, focus and expertise in fighting the domestic war on terror,” Mr. Schumer said. “New York State is particularly hurt by the terribly unfair and inefficient homeland security funding formula and the lack of a federal program for communications interoperability among first responders. We can and must do better.”

(snip)

At a Washington news conference today, members of the commission repeatedly blasted the government… for its lack of progress on pushing through the recommendations.

“None of it is rocket science,” said John F. Lehman…. “None of it is in the too-hard category. We all believe it is possible to get all of these things achieved.”

Timothy J. Roemer, a Democratic commission member and a former House member from Indiana, asked, “When will our government wake up?” He added, “Al Qaeda is highly dynamic, and we are not.”

The commissioners also slammed Congress for turning homeland security funds into just another flavor of pork, to be distributed widely and spent frivolously:

“Federal grants to first responders should be distributed on risk and vulnerability,” said [Commission Chairman Thomas] Kean, a former governor of New Jersey. Mr. Kean said the commission had found that one city, which he did not identify, had spent its anti-terrorism money on air conditioning for garbage trucks, while another had bought body armor for dogs.

The Democrats must take a page out of Karl Rove’s book and attack the Republicans’ supposed strength in 2006 – the Republicans’ alleged manly terror-fighting credentials have been their single biggest advantage over the Democrats (remember Dick Cheney saying there would be a terrorist attack if Kerry was elected last year?), but they’re a sham. It is vital that the Democrats expose the Republicans’ true fecklessness when it comes to terror – not only would it devastate their principal selling point, but it would also provide still another data point in the overall narrative of Republican incompetence and unseriousness when it comes to actual governance.

The Democrats must turn 2004 on its head in 2006, and declare that only the Democrats can keep America safe. All the Republicans know how to do is pick pockets and tell tales.

December 5th, 2005 at 02:56pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Rove,Terrorism

Must… Control… Fist… Of… Death…

This is one of those occasions where mere words cannot contain my disgust with these people:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chastised Europe leaders today, saying that before they complain about secret jails for terror suspects in European nations, they should realize that interrogations of these suspects have produced information that helped “save European lives.”

In her remarks, the Bush Administration’s official response to the reports of a network of secret detention centers, Ms. Rice repeatedly emphasized that the United States does not countenance the torture of terrorism suspects, at the hands of either American or foreign captors.

(Oh, I’m sure that makes the Europeans feel much better)

Noting that half-a-dozen international investigations are underway, Ms. Rice did not explicitly confirm the existence of the detentions center. But that was implicit in her remarks.

“We must bring terrorists to justice wherever possible,” she said. “But there have been many cases where the local government cannot detain or prosecute a suspect, and traditional extradition is not a good option.”

“In those cases,” she added, “the local government can make the sovereign choice to cooperate in the transfer of a suspect to a third country, which is known as a rendition.

“Sometimes, these efforts are misunderstood,” she said.

(snip)

Ms. Rice insisted that the United States had done nothing wrong.

Many of the imprisoned suspects “are effectively stateless,” she maintained, “owing allegiance only to the extremist cause of transnational terrorism. Many are extremely dangerous.”

She made an effort to frame the debate as one over the effectiveness of terror enforcement and not over the propriety of holding suspects indefinitely in secret prisons.

“We consider the captured members of Al Qaeda and its allies to be unlawful combatants who may be held, in accordance with the law of war, to keep them from killing innocents,” she said. “We must bring terrorists to justice wherever possible.”

Um, what law of war would that be? The law the President and his merry men and, well, whatever you are make up as you go along don’t actually have any international standing, you know.

The European nations must decide, she added, whether they “wish to work with us to prevent terrorist attacks against their own country or other countries.”

Were they given that choice up front (or were they bullied into it)? Or are they only know getting to make that decision after the fact, now that you’ve been busted?

This crap might still play with American audiences, but I don’t think it’s fooling the Europeans for a second. Of course, the Europeans don’t vote in our elections, so they’re probably not the target audience anyway.

1 comment December 5th, 2005 at 09:38am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Politics,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture

Bask In That Reflected Glory! Bask, I Say!

Apparently Samuel Alito and the White House have hit upon a new strategy to make Alito not look like a total racist, sexist jerk. Similar to Bush’s fondness for photo ops with troops and heroes in hopes of some kind of heroism-by-association, Alito is now invoking his dear departed father, who was conservative but (supposedly) egalitarian and non-partisan in carrying out his job responsibilities.

When a Democratic senator asked the Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. why he might empathize with the plight of minorities or the poor, he had his answer ready: the example of his late father, an Italian immigrant who in college once defended a black basketball player from discrimination on the team.

When other Democrats pressed Judge Alito about why he had once disagreed with the Warren Court decision that established the “one person, one vote” standard for state districts, he again recalled the legacy of his father, Samuel A. Alito, who worked for three decades as the director of research for the New Jersey Legislature.

In his bedroom at night as a boy, Judge Alito told senators, he could hear his father clicking away at a manual calculator as he struggled to redraw the state’s legislative districts with equal populations, people present for the conversations said.

To some senators, Judge Alito has said his father taught him to “revere” the legislative process. He has pointed to his father as a model of bipartisanship.

There is some counterpoint to this rosy portrait:

The elder Mr. Alito did not want to be called “Italian-American,” said Arthur Applebaum, his longtime deputy in the legislative research service. “He just didn’t care for hyphenated groups,” Mr. Applebaum said, suggesting that Mr. Alito may have seen special consideration for certain ethnic groups as a sort of “reverse discrimination.”

Colleagues of Judge Alito said he might have inherited the conservative sensibility his father displayed in private, including an instinctive cautiousness and a traditionalist approach to family life and social matters. Until the 1980’s, for example, the elder Mr. Alito forbade women who worked for him to wear pants to the statehouse, long after other offices had accepted it.

In any case, this is all beside the point. It really doesn’t matter what kind of person Papalito was – he’s not the one nominated to the Supreme Court, and there is simply no reason to ascribe the father’s virtue to the son.

Let’s hope this strategy doesn’t work – it sounds like the story about Papalito putting his college career on the line to protest a black player’s benching against a segregated opponent had an effect on Dick Durbin, who said, “I thought it was a very moving insight about a life lesson learned from his father about the issue of race.”

It may have been a very valuable life lesson, but there is simply no evidence that Alito actually learned it. I would like to see some of the Democratic Senators ask Alito what his beloved father thought about his membership in Concerned Alumni for Princeton, which advocated against admitting women and minorities to Princeton’s hallowed halls. Or about what he would have thought about Alito’s dissent wherein he argued that a search warrant extended to strip-searching 10-year-old girls.

The best tribute the Senate could pay to Alito’s idealized father would be to reject any nominee who does not share his presumed commitment to equality, duty and country over party.

December 5th, 2005 at 09:26am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Judiciary,Media,Politics,Republicans

Late Night B&W Blogging

Just a couple of random B&W shots from my lunchtime wanderings.


I continue to rebel against the high school photo teacher who criticized my first good photo because it had a garbage can in it…


I’m being followed by a balloonshadow, balloonshadow, balloonshadow… Posted by Picasa

December 5th, 2005 at 12:44am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh


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