As Americans head to the mall today on “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day of the year, they face worries about the millions of Chinese-made toys that have been recalled in recent months. But Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, won’t be around to allay shoppers’ fears, as she is traveling in Japan on a trip paid for by the Japanese government. Earlier this month, the Post recently revealed that Nord has taken nearly 30 trips paid for by industries the CPSC is charged with regulating.
Ann Scott Tyler had a little-noticed scoop about General David Petraeus being recalled for a brief trip back to DC to chair the board that’s in charge of recommending who’ll get promoted to one star general in the Army. Fred Kaplan did a column hailing the good news here, with the Army finally stepping away from some of its “big war” commitments and recognizing the need to reward expertise in counterinsurgency and stability ops in concrete ways.
One should note, though, that this good development is deeply tied in with a less-positive development, namely that the counterinsurgency advocates inside the military are increasingly deciding that the fate of their bureaucratic struggle against the “Big Army” crowd is intimately linked to the Iraq War. Whereas a couple of years ago, these people tended to be a major source of dissent on the war from inside the government, Petraeus’ appointment and the GOP’s thunderous political embrace of his all-encompassing genius have changed the calculus. And if he now has the opportunity to be a key patron for a new generation of senior counterinsurgency-focused officers, then Petraeus’ standing, counterinsurgency’s standing, and the war’s standing all become more-and-more tightly entwined.
The trouble here is that though the counterinsurgency people are, I think, generally correct about the sort of scenarios we should be preparing our military for, Iraq is, at this point, completely lacking in strategic rationale. But the two ideas — should we be fighting in Iraq, versus should we be preparing more for stability operations rather than big state-to-state warfare — really ought to be considered separately.
It’s obvious why law enforcement officials would sometimes want access to things like GPS data embedded in “enhanced 911″ service and other location-tracking functions cell phone providers are increasingly selling. Indeed, it’s also obvious why judges would sometimes grant law enforcement officials’ requests to look at that data. But why on earth would anything about the availability of this information lead anyone to decide that there’s no need to establish probable cause.
Climate change is an issue with many dimensions — political, scientific, social, economic. As Al Gore and others have noted, it also is a moral issue. Its moral dimension is gradually being articulated within the climate action movement. It’s worthwhile to take a break from science and politics to focus on the softer side of this profoundly important issue.
For example, take the call to action issued by 1Sky, an emerging coalition of environmental, social justice, religious and other leaders who plan to mobilize 1 million Americans around a positive vision of climate action:
Calling America: It’s our time
This year, 2007, right now, marks a turning point in human history. We have arrived at a clearly marked crossroads. Our defining challenge, our greatest opportunity, is now. We have only 1 sky.
We can turn toward a brighter future — a new, durable prosperity in healthy communities, an economy that sustains abundance and shares it well. Or we can barrel ahead toward climate disruption, economic decline, growing inequality, and growing insecurity. This crossroads is brightly lit. We cannot fail to see it. And we cannot miss the turn.
McClatchey continues its revolutionary journalism efforts by looking at the records in office of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, as compared to their current rhetoric:
Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney share a big problem as barnstorm across American trying to act like tough guys on immigration: their past.
Each ran a jurisdiction that’s arguably among the nation’s most tolerant, where cracking down on illegal immigrants wasn’t good politics.
But now, Giuliani, the mayor of New York from 1994 to 2001, and Romney, the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 through January, are battling for the Republican presidential nomination amid an uproar over illegal immigration. So they’re gritting their teeth, squaring their shoulders and vowing to throw the bums out and keep them out.
The whole piece is pretty strong, except for the unfortunate decision to quote the embarrassingly-in-the-tank Fred Siegel defending the consistency of Giuliani’s views as if he’s a neutral source. The question that remains, though, is what does this spell for their likely future policies as president. More broadly, however, the 2008 elections shake out, we’re likely to see a majority in congress that secretly favors a comprehensive reform approach along Bush/Kennedy/McCain lines and we’re likely to see a president who thinks the same way. But at the same time, it seems exceedingly unlikely that we’ll get such an approach, since politicians of both parties have pretty firmly decided that the politics of the issue require ever-growing boasts of toughness.
A USA Today analysis of data provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs has found that “at least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries.” The numbers “show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30.” The uncounted cases compiled by USA Today are “not reflected in the Pentagon’s official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.”
The New York Times has an article that takes a look at the continuing declines in New York City’s murder rate over the past few years. I think understanding this is, among other things, an important part of how we understand Rudy Giuliani’s legacy. Before 9/11, of course, his signature accomplishment was his association with the massive crime drop the city experienced during the 1990s, a tumbling in the murder rate that was paralleled in most other major American cities, but that happened to a much greater extent in New York than elsewhere.
Giuliani and his supporters would tend to argue that certain apparent black marks on his administration’s record — Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Rudy’s generally horrible relationship with the African-American community — were all just part of the price you had to pay for his super-effective anti-crime measures. But then Bloomberg came into office, kept much of the same policy framework in place, but went out of his way to try to be a bridge-builder who got along with all sorts of people. And the poof is in the pudding — this works just fine. Nothing about sound crime control policy required Giuliani to be acting like a jerk or a madman, he just did that stuff because that’s who he is.