Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 11th, 2010

Some good posts for your perusal

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Colorado Senate Primary Could Shape The Face of Senate Rules Reform

Short-term gain, long-term sacrifice (the seemingly suicidal stupidity of the GOP attitude toward immigrants)

Why Ross Douthat got it wrong re: marriage (excellent comment from reader)

The strange affair of Gibbs and his complaints (includes some clips from articles you may want to read entirely)

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 3:18 pm

GOP goes crazy again

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Steve Benen:

New York imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, best known as the man who hopes to build the Cordoba House in lower Manhattan, has been asked by the State Department to travel to the Middle East to assist with the government’s diplomatic agenda in the region. Specifically, Rauf would talk about the ways in which Muslim Americans enjoy the same rights and respect that other Americans enjoy.

Congressional Republicans seem to be going out of their way to prove a point about undermining these American ideals.

"It is unacceptable that US taxpayers are being forced to fund Feisal Abdul Rauf’s trip to the Middle East," say Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) of Florida and Peter King (R) of New York in a statement issued Tuesday. "This radical is a terrible choice to be one of the faces or our country overseas. The USA should be using public diplomacy programs to combat extremism," they add, "not to endorse it."

"This radical"? Adam Serwer notes the key detail here: the State Department has "a long-term relationship" with Rauf — which included the Bush administration sending him on a similar tour.

Oddly, Republicans didn’t complain when the Bush/Cheney State Department partnered with "this radical" to help with our diplomatic efforts in the Middle East. This isn’t complicated — if Bush considered Feisal Abdul Rauf a valuable American voice and representative, there’s no reason for the GOP to freak out now.

I’m reminded again of Jeffrey Goldberg’s item from last week: "I know Feisal Abdul Rauf; I’ve spoken with him at a public discussion at the 96th street mosque in New York about interfaith cooperation. He represents what Bin Laden fears most: a Muslim who believes that it is possible to remain true to the values of Islam and, at the same time, to be a loyal citizen of a Western, non-Muslim country."

The sooner Republicans stop looking at a moderate imam, committed to fighting radicalism, as an enemy, the sooner they’ll stop inadvertently helping the goals of terrorists.

It’d be awfully nice if mainstream American imams could go to the Middle East with a positive message about freedom and respect in the U.S., and not have to struggle to make excuses for the right.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Religion

Play (on words)

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Via Sullivan:

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Good question

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Glenn Greenwald asks this question at the end of this column:

And then there is the issue of the restrictions imposed on reporters covering these travesties.  The Miami Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg — probably the single most knowledgeable and relentless journalist covering Guantanamo — was banned in May, along with three Canadian journalists, from attending any further proceedings, a ban that was then reversed as arbitrarily as it was imposed.  Last month, she gave a speech to the National Press Club about how arbitrary and oppressive these restrictions are, and adapted that speech into this superb article published by McClatchy.  Last night, Rachel Maddow discussed those press restrictions with Newsweek‘s Mike Isikoff, who is covering the Khadr trial from Guantanamo; it’s worth watching this 5-minute segment [this link takes you back to the column: I cannot embed the video. But the video is definitely worth watching: very reminiscent of the Soviet trials. The US is quickly moving toward a more and more authoritarian government. – LG].

As I’ve written before about the Khadr case (as well as the very similar case of child soldier Mohamed Jawad), what is most striking to me about this case is this:  how can it possibly be that the U.S. invades a foreign country, and then when people in that country — such as Khadr — fight back against the invading army, by attacking purely military targets via a purely military act (throwing a grenade at a solider, who was part of a unit ironically using an abandoned Soviet runway as its outpost), they become “war criminals,” or even Terrorists, who must be shipped halfway around the world, systematically abused, repeatedly declared to be one of “the worst of the worst,” and then held in a cage for almost a full decade (one third of his life and counting)?  It’s hard to imagine anything which more compellingly underscores the completely elastic and manipulated “meaning” of “Terrorist” than this case:  in essence, the U.S. is free to do whatever it wants, and anyone who fights back, even against our invading armies and soldiers (rather than civilians), is a war criminal and a Terrorist.

* * * * *

Regarding the Obama administration’s efforts to have the scope of National Security Letters expanded to include your email and Internet “transactional” records, Harper‘s Scott Horton examines how abusive a power that is by looking at one case that recently became public (see an excellent Democracy Now interview from this morning with the true hero of that story, Nick Merrill).  Relatedly, I have an essay in Cato Unbound on the ongoing explosion of the unaccountable Surveillance State.  Really, though, it’d be best if you look over there at John Boehner, become sufficiently scared, express gratitude that Obama isn’t Sarah Palin, and then keep your mouth shut about all of these matters and just dutifully get to work to elect Democrats.   That’s what any good citizen would do.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 10:31 am

Google SketchUp

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I didn’t even know about this app, but it’s now in version 7.1. I don’t get out much. Take a look, it’s quite cool.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 10:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

More on the confession coerced from a 15-year-old by threatening him with gang rape

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Jennifer Turner at the ACLU:

Yesterday was a stark reminder that instead of closing the book on the Bush-era military commissions, President Obama is adding another sad chapter to that history. Although President Obama promised transparency and sharp limits on the use of tortured and coerced statements against the accused, at Guantánamo today one military judge ordered that a sentence be kept secret from the public and another military judge allowed statements obtained by abuse and coercion of a 15-year-old to be used at trial.

Monday was Day One of the sentencing hearing in the case of Sudanese detainee Ibrahim al-Qosi. Al-Qosi was the first detainee to be convicted under President Obama, in a plea deal entered this June in which he admitted to being an al Qaeda cook and occasional driver. Yesterday saw jury selection of senior military officers, who would deliver a formal sentence in al-Qosi’s case. If the jury delivers a sentence longer than what was agreed to in the plea bargain, it will be moot. Unless the jury delivers a shorter sentence, al-Qosi’s true sentence will be what was hammered out in the plea agreement.

But in an unprecedented move, military judge Air Force Lt. Col. Nancy Paul ordered today that al-Qosi’s true sentence will be kept secret until he’s released. The judge said the government requested that the sentence be kept secret.

A fellow observer of the military commissions here, former Marine judge and law of war expert Gary Solis, here to monitor the commissions for the National Institute for Military Justice, says he has presided over 700 courts-martial and has never heard of a secret sentence.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 10:13 am

Decline of the US

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Another sign of the decline of the US as it embraces power above all. Ian Millhiser writes at ThinkProgress:

In the first full war crimes tribunal of the Obama administration, a military judge held that a detainee who confessed to killing an American solider after he was threatened with being gang-raped to death if he did not cooperate may nonetheless have that confession used against him at trial:

In May hearings, a man identified as Interrogator 1 said in testimony that he threatened Mr. Khadr with being gang-raped to death if he did not co-operate. That interrogator was later identified as former U.S. Army Sergeant Joshua Claus. He has also been convicted of abusing a different detainee and has left the military.

Mr. Khadr’s military-appointed lawyer, Lieutenant-Colonel Jon Jackson, argued this instance, as well as other alleged instances of torture and coercion, are enough to render any future confessions – even those in so-called “clean” interrogations – inadmissible in court.

“The well was poisoned: The government can’t cleanse the well by saying, ‘Well, someone else came in and was nice to him,’ ” Col. Jackson said.

Not so, the prosecution countered: All the confessions and testimony it plans to bring forward were freely offered by Mr. Khadr to people who treated him well. […]

Military judge Colonel Patrick Parrish sided with the prosecution

Khadr was only 15 years old at the time of his capture and confession, earning his tribunal a strong condemnation from the United Nations.  In the words of the UN, “Juvenile justice standards are clear. Children should not be tried before military tribunals.”

The military judge’s decision to admit a coerced confession raises even more troubling questions about whether this particular tribunal will reach accurate results.  As the Supreme Court recognized almost 75 years ago, confessions extracted by “brutality and violence” are akin to “deliberate deception” of the court because they reveal little about a suspect’s guilt or innocence and everything about their very human desire to avoid or end torture. This principle obviously applies to Khadr.  A prisoner who is convinced that they will be raped and murdered if they do not confess has nothing to lose — and what remains of their personal dignity to gain — by doing so.

A member of Khadr’s legal team called the judge’s decision a “disgrace,” and that lawyer is right.  Coerced confessions are not simply inhumane — and not simply un-American — they produce wholly unreliable evidence.  Mr. Khadr may actually be guilty, but a confession extracted by a rape threat does nothing to prove this point.

I do see a war crime here, but it was not the detainee who was guilty.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 9:53 am

Botany is fascinating

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This photo is via Pharyngula:

Ceropegia_distincta

You can read more about this plant here in Wikipedia.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 9:46 am

Posted in Daily life

Response from some Catholics on gay marriage

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Some Catholics—Andrew Sullivan, for example—strongly support gay marriage, others are more ambivalent. PZ Myers writes:

Some Catholic site is giving advice on how to field questions from Leftists about homosexuality. After all, those danged lefties keep bringing up issues of equality and civil rights when gay marriage comes up, and it’s awfully hard to talk about restricting gay rights without sounding like a bigot or homophobe, so you’ve got to have a different set of talking points you can switch to whenever talk about equality and fairness and those other non-Catholic doctrines are brought up. So they’ve come up with five different tactics Catholic bigots can use to divert attention from their bigotry. They hope. Mainly, though, it diverts attention to the fact that they use really, really bad arguments. Here are the five, reworded from their misleading rhetoric to a blunter description of what they propose.

  1. Obfuscate about rights. Redefine rights any old way you want to, endorse equal rights for everyone, but then claim marriage isn’t a right because there are restrictions (can’t marry your sister, there’s an age of consent, you have to pay a fee to get a marriage license), so it’s OK to add one more restriction. Never mind that by this reasoning the old miscegenation laws are perfectly valid and don’t really deny anyone a right.
  2. Point out that heterosexuals have damaged marriage. How this helps the Catholic case against gay marriage is a mystery, but they’re welcome to make the argument — they’re saying that contraception and divorce and artificial fertilization are all also crimes against nature. What a winning strategy!
  3. Lie about how awful homosexual parents are. Kids need both a mother and father, because mothers are nurturing and fathers are brave and disciplined. Yes, right, arguing from sexual stereotypes is OK if you’re Catholic, and it also means you get to ignore the fact that a third of all households are headed by single mothers.
  4. Slippery slope! Some guy wanted to marry his horse, there are horrible awful polyamorous relationships, and even if you allow gays to marry, they don’t all rush to the altar. This is a pointless argument: it’s basically saying that we should only permit traditional 1 man:1 woman marriages because if we allow other possibilities, not all marriages will be between 1 man:1 woman. We also allow marriage between couples of different races, and a Catholic can even marry a Protestant — this has not led to a massive rush to marriages between a man, an oyster, a pelican, and a watermelon.
  5. Lie with statistics. This one is my favorite argument here. Gay marriage will hurt people! Did you know that 31% of lesbian report physical violence with their partner in the last year? (Don’t mention the fact that 39% of women in a heterosexual relationship report domestic violence.) Gay men are more likely to be killed by a partner than a stranger! (Don’t mention that heterosexual women are five times more likely to be killed by their partner than a stranger.)

Oh, and they do cite sources: most of them seem to be something called the Witherspoon Institute, which made a report…funded by the Templeton Foundation. Don’t be surprised. Those rich jerks are pouring money into all kinds of dubious, religiously-motivated projects.

I’m beginning to wonder if Catholicism damages the brain: Ross Douthat also has a column on why gay marriage is wrong. It’s not because gays are bad or unnatural, oh no — we must get away from the ghastly bigoted language and promote bigoted ideals more ambiguously. It’s because relationships between men and women are specialer than those between men and men or women and women: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 9:44 am

Another approach to reducing marijuana penalties

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Keith Humphreys writes at The Reality-Based Community:

Although I have made clear my opposition to Proposition 19, I find something admirable about a different ongoing effort to change marijuana law in California. California Senate Bill 1449, introduced by Senator Mark Leno, defines possession of an ounce or less of marijuana as an “infraction” warranting a fine of up to $100 and no jail time. Technically, that’s what the punishment has been for many years, except that marijuana possession is formally defined as a misdemeanor under current law, which brings judges and courtrooms into the picture. The proposed law, which will lead marijuana possession offenses to be handled much like speeding tickets, has already cleared the Senate and is out of committee in the Assembly.

I don’t know if the end law will be a good one because the amendment process is still underway, neither do I think its effect is entirely predictable. Laws changing marijuana penalties have often had unexpected effects, depending on how law enforcement on the street respond (e.g., net widening when police see a penalty as too slight, more selective enforcement if police see a penalty as too tough). But whatever happens de jure and de facto, the process by which this legislation is being developed and deliberated deserves praise for two reasons.

First, going at least as far back as the disastrous property tax revolt initiative (Prop 13), the state legislature has repeatedly kicked political hot potatoes into the initiative process instead of having the courage to govern. This takes critical policy debates out of the deliberative process and into one where bad reasoning, volatile emotions and misunderstanding are the norm. In this case though, our elected leaders in Sacramento are acting like elected leaders and try to legislate, so good on them.

Second, the legislators are being realistic about what is and is not possible within the framework of the federal Controlled Substances Act. By endorsing legalization, Proposition 19 inherently provokes a confrontation with the federal government if it passes, a situation which I think will not end well for California (see Mark Kleiman and Eric Sterling‘s latest posts for other perspectives). What the progress of S.B. 1449 shows is that a state can change marijuana possession penalties without making a federal case out of it, so to speak.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 9:17 am

Why the GOP really wants to alter the 14th Amendment

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Harold Meyerson writes in the Washington Post:

As Lindsey Graham and his fellow Republicans explain it, their sudden turn against conferring citizenship on anyone born in the United States was prompted by the mortal threat of "anchor babies" — the children of foreigners who scurry to the States just in time to give birth to U.S. citizens.

The Republican war on the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause is indeed directed at a mortal threat — but not to the American nation. It is the threat that Latino voting poses to the Republican Party.

By proposing to revoke the citizenship of the estimated 4 million U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants — and, presumably, the children’s children and so on down the line — Republicans are calling for more than the creation of a permanent noncitizen caste. They are endeavoring to solve what is probably their most crippling long-term political dilemma: the racial diversification of the electorate. Not to put too fine a point on it, they are trying to preserve their political prospects as a white folks’ party in an increasingly multicolored land.

Absent a constitutional change — to a lesser degree, even with it — those prospects look mighty bleak. The demographic base of the Republican Party, as Ruy Teixeira demonstrates in a paper released by the Center for American Progress this summer, is shrinking as a share of the nation and the electorate. As the nation grows more racially and religiously diverse, Teixeira shows, its percentage of white Christians will decline to just 35 percent of the population by 2040.

The group that’s growing fastest, of course, is Latinos. "Their numbers will triple to 133 million by 2050 from 47 million today," Teixeira writes, "while the number of non-Hispanic whites will remain essentially flat." Moreover, Latinos increasingly trend Democratic — in a Gallup poll this year, 53 percent self-identified as Democrats; just 21 percent called themselves Republican.

To be sure, the wretched state of the economy could drive some otherwise Democratic-inclined Latino voters to the GOP this November. But Republicans are doing their damnedest to keep this from happening. Their embrace of Arizona’s Suspicious-Looking-Latinos law and their enthusiasm for stripping Latino children of their citizenship will only hasten Latinos’ flight.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 9:09 am

Corporate-sponsored government

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From the Center for American Progress in an email:

In an activist 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a decades-long ban on the use of corporate money in elections with its ruling in the Citizens United case in January, opening the floodgates to unlimited, anonymous spending on political campaigns by corporations, unions, and advocacy organizations. Reactions were swift, as many voices joined the dissenting justices in expressing concern that the ruling "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation." Lawmakers quickly set to work on a bill, unveiled in April with bipartisan support, designed to mitigate the negative effects of the Supreme Court decision. The legislation — called the DISCLOSE (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act — seeks to secure transparency in the electoral process through provisions holding corporations to a number of disclosure rules. President Obama called it the "toughest-ever disclosure requirements for election-related spending by big oil corporations, Wall Street and other special interests…trying to buy representation in our government." The Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group, said the bill would "shine a powerful light on…corporate political expenditures." However, corporate lobbyists and many leading Republicans, who cheered the Citizens United decision as a victory for First Amendment rights, called the DISCLOSE Act an attack, as U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue put it, on "constitutionally protected speech." However, as Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent, "While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics." Indeed, new polling from MoveOn.org shows that 77 percent of voters in 18 battleground congressional districts and 4 battleground states think that "corporate election spending is an attempt to bribe politicians;" only 19 percent consider it free speech. And 79 percent believe it’s important that a candidate commit to reducing the influence of corporations over elections.

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Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 9:05 am

First duty of modern government: Protect big businesses

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Why? Because big businesses now own and run the government, by and large, and they are constantly working to increase their control. Here’s an example by Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress:

In an explosive first-hand account, ecosystem biologist Linda Hooper-Bui describes how Obama administration and BP lawyers are making independent scientific analysis of the Gulf region an impossibility. Hooper-Bui has found that only scientists who are part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process to determine BP’s civil liability get full access to contaminated sites and research data. Pete Tuttle, USFWS environmental contaminant specialist and Department of Interior NRDA coordinator, admitted to The Scientist that “researchers wishing to formally participate in NRDA must sign a contract that includes a confidentiality agreement” that “prevents signees from releasing information from studies and findings until authorized by the Department of Justice at some later and unspecified date.” Hooper-Bui writes:

It’s not hazardous conditions associated with oil and dispersants that are hampering our scientific efforts. Rather, it’s the confidentiality agreements that come with signing up to work on large research projects shepherded by government entities and BP and the limited access to coastal areas if you’re not part of those projects that are stifling the public dissemination of data detailing the environmental impact of the catastrophe.

Hooper-Bui’s depictions of samples confiscated by US Fish and Wildlife officials and expeditions blocked by local law enforcement is consistent with the steady stream of reports about obstruction, censorship, and confusion under BP’s private army of contractors. A full and open scientific assessment of the effects of the BP disaster is crucial for the health of the ecosystem and the residents of this American jewel.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 8:36 am

Ed Brayton comments on Maggie Gallagher and gay marriage

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Brayton writes:

From Maggie Gallagher, head of the National Organization Against for Marriage:

If this ruling is upheld, millions of Americans will face for the first time a legal system that is committed to the view that our deeply held moral views on sex and marriage are unacceptable in the public square, the fruit of bigotry that should be discredited, stigmatized and repressed. Parents will find that, almost Soviet-style, their own children will be re-educated using their own tax dollars to disrespect their parents’ views and values.

Yep. Just like Loving v Virginia meant millions of Americans had to face a legal system committed to the view that their deeply held moral views on interracial sex and marriage were unacceptable in the public square, and parents found that their own children would be re-educated using their own tax dollars to disrespect their views and values.

Just like Brown v Board of Education meant millions of Americans had to face a legal system committed to the view that their deeply held moral views on race mixing were unacceptable in the public square, and parents found that their own children would be re-educated next to black children in obvious disrespect of their views and values.

Just like before Engel and Schempp, millions of Americans had to face a legal system committed to the view that their deeply held religious views were unacceptable in the public square and their children were re-educated into Christianity by being forced to read the Bible and say Christian prayers, in obvious disrespect to their own views and values.

Funny, they only seem to care about people’s "deeply held moral views" when it involves their own views.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 8:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

The modern GOP

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Andrew Sullivan:

A reader writes:

Just an observation from your post yesterday, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" A key passage comes near the end, when you write of neoconservatism’s "deeply hidden contempt" for the democratic West.

This really is where the intellectual connection to Leo Strauss is worth noting. The entire Straussian project is premised on a thoroughgoing critique of modernity — see especially Strauss’s essay, "The Three Waves of Modernity." Modernity starts with Machiavelli and Hobbes and Locke, moves through Rousseau, and ends with Nietzsche (and implicitly Heidegger). That is, a nefarious break with "the ancients" occurred in the early modern period that set in motion a decline towards historicism, relativism, and nihilism. This is the theoretical backdrop to significant elements within neoconservatism; it is premised on this critique of modernity, on the possibility of impending doom, on the inability of "modernity" to sustain itself.

So neoconservatives, cynically and instrumentally, tend to defend and deploy "pre-modern" virtues and institutions — the military, war, and martial virtue; and reactionary religion ("Biblical religion"). These push against the trajectory of modern life, and thus (supposedly) stave off the decline they are convinced is always already underway. They do not try to sustain modernity from within, to reconcile, say, faith and modernity, but rather see modernity as something that needs counterweights, that needs to be pushed back against at every turn. So you purposefully cultivate certain elements that are in reaction to modernity — you push for war to fend off the decadent "softness" of modern liberals, and you make alliances with the religious right.

You can see why Irving Kristol, as editor of the CIA-funded magazine, Encounter, rejected an essay from Michael Oakeshott. The essay? "On Being Conservative." Neoconservatism, especially at its most Straussian, is in every important way un-Oakeshottian. Your writings of late bear this out, I think. In a way, you are re-enacting a quarrel between two of the great political philosophers of the 20th century.

I sure am. The Oakeshott-Strauss divide is the core faultline in conservatism. As an Oakeshottian, I’m a believer in modernity’s strengths and endurance, just as I believe that religious faith can and will integrate and come through modernity’s challenges. Straussians tend not to trust modernity, and many feel contempt for it; they always feared that the West was too decadent to defeat Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, just as they are deeply doubtful that the West can outlast Islamism. And the point of the West, for them, is not the freedoms it provides the masses (how crass) but the space it affords the philosophic elites.

Hence their instrumental belief in war as a virtue, in torture as a Machiavellian necessity, in primitive forms of politicized Christianity as a ballast against Islam. They are almost all value-free atheists who long for an ancient world that can never return. I’m a believer who lives for the future and is perfectly happy in a fractured, diverse, multi-cultural present. Not just that: I think that system is stronger than all the rest.

If we do not lose faith in it.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 8:13 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

Is terrorism a substantial threat to the US?

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Or is it more a threat on the order of, say, bad driving habits, which take a terrible annual toll of American lives? Zaid Jilani at ThinkProgress:

One of the most common themes in post-9/11 politics is for public figures to campaign based on the public’s fear of terrorism. Candidates from across the political spectrum regularly point to “increased threats from terrorists at home and abroad” as the reason you should elect them so they can keep you safe.

While combating terrorism is important and a crucial part of the nation’s national security strategy, the State Department’s annual Country Reports On Terrorism, which was released late last week, shows that its importance as a leading topic of public concern may be overstated. McClatchy’s Warren P. Strobel notes that the State Department report finds that only 25 American civilians were killed by terrorism worldwide last year:

There were just 25 U.S. noncombatant fatalities from terrorism worldwide. (The US government definition of terrorism excludes attacks on U.S. military personnel). While we don’t have the figures at hand,undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism.

Matt Yglesias compares the numbers and finds that Strobel’s hunches about traffic accidents are right. He writes, “26 Americans died in vehicle accidents in Mexico between 1 August 2009 and 1 January 2010, so it’s safe to say you’re dramatically likelier to die abroad in a traffic accident than a terrorist attack.”

But it isn’t just foreign traffic accidents that are deadlier to Americans than terrorism. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, more than 13,000 Americans died from the common seasonal flu between January and April 2009, with “no fewer than 800 flu-related deaths” occuring every single week, meaning that 32 times as many Americans died as a result of the flu in a single week during this period of 2009 than died during the entire year from terrorism.

Yet if Americans want to find a threat more dangerous to their lives than terrorism, they don’t even need to go outside and get into their car or interact with their neighbors and catch the flu. All they have to do is look to their canine companions. DogsBite.org, which compiles press reports of dog bite fatalities, recorded 32 reported incidents of dogs fatally killing humans last year.

Once again, the threat of terrorism is a serious national security concern and should be seen as such. But given its relatively low fatality rate in comparison to other threats to humanity — the State Department’s report found that 58,142 people were killed by terrorist attacks worldwide in 2009, a fraction of the three million children who died from easily preventable malnutrition and hunger a year before — a more reasoned assessment of our priorities is needed.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 8:10 am

Posted in Daily life, Terrorism

Mühle travel brush & Floris JF

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The three pieces of the Mühle travel razor, this one in black aluminum. Aluminum is quite light, but it’s also relatively soft, so you must be careful of the threads. (The nickel-plated brass version is heavier but the threads are also probably stronger.)

This is the shave, and it was the Mühle brush’s first use. I got a very good lather, but had to return to the soap at the third pass. Tomorrow I think I’ll try this brush with a shaving cream to compare the results.

The Feather premium razor, with its original Feather Hi Stainless blade, delivered a superb shave, and a splash of Paul Sebastian aftershave sent me on my way.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in Shaving

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