Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"ill-designed tests"

Booman: No Time for Friendly Talk

Setting aside how our government would work in an ideal world, the reason that conciliatory language and efforts at bipartisanship are dangerous in our current political climate is that it creates the unwarranted assumption that the other side is offering a viable alternative. In other words, it wouldn't be the end of the world if the other side got to call the shots for two or four years. If we're not happy with how things are going, well...we have this other option...the Republicans.

Now, I know that they say the same things about us, and it sounds pretty damn extreme when they say it. But we have to be clear about something. We can go back nearly eighty years in this country and say that we've been doing things pretty much the same way all that time. Put us in charge and things won't change all that much. Things that have been gained, like ending prohibition, phasing out Jim Crow, creating a social welfare state, participating in the United Nations, legalizing contraception and abortion, expanding workplace rights and environmental protection, extending civil rights to women and gays...these things won't go away. The tax rate may go up or down, but the tax code won't be altered in any fundamental way. The relationship between the federal government and the states won't change.

Put the current crop of Republicans in charge for any sustained period of time, and almost all of those things are at risk. The modern conservative movement doesn't share our assumptions about what America is. They want to go back to the roaring 20's, or even the 1880's. So, it would be nice to say that "my good friend, the honorable Sen. Corker from Tennessee, has been working very hard and has some excellent ideas for how to improve the Wall Street reform bill," and have it actually be true. Such flattery greases the machinery of Congress...normally. But these aren't normal times, and the other side isn't playing by the same rules (or even the same game).

We're like Captain Benjamin L. Willard on the Nung River, and we've crossed into Cambodia. And they're "out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And still in the field commanding troops."

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is an election year. And this month marks the beginning of campaign season, with many primaries coming up. I will be writing more about individual races and what's at stake, even if such threads have trouble getting a good conversation going. I hope you participate and get involved.

We have to stand on the side of reason:

Because there's a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. The good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a breaking point. You and I have. Walter Kurtz has reached his. And very obviously, he has gone insane.

There's no time for friendly talk.

DougJ: Arizona uber alles

More evidence that the Arizona immigration law is simply a principled conservative policy:

Don Black is a Florida-based white supremacist who is deemed so dangerous he’s banned from the UK for inciting hatred. Arizona State Senate Majority leader Chuck Gray—a proponent of the recent immigration bill—follows him on Twitter.

Also too Bobo has a strange meandering column, which by my lights, is a dipping of the toes into racial supremacist waters.

It’s coming, folks. It won’t be long now until thoughtful, intellectually honest conservatives insist that we have a free-wheeling debate about some form of racial supremacism. Hear me now, believe me later.

Only left-wing ideologues will reject the idea that ill-designed tests prove that certain groups possess less of the ill-defined quantity of intelligence.

Marshall (TPM): Annals of Etymology

Jake Tapper notes that in an interview in Jon Alter's new book The Promise President Obama refers to Tea Partiers as "tea baggers". I actually heard the president use the same phrase once, and was a little surprised myself.

Tapper writes "Tea Party activists loath the term 'tea baggers,' which has emerged in liberal media outlets and elsewhere as a method of mocking the activists and their concerns."

But this isn't true, though a number of conservative pressure groups have tried to claim as much. The phrase "tea bagger" was originally a coinage of the Tea Party folks themselves. Their opponents picked it up from them after they chose it and continued using it after the right-wing activists ditched it in favor of "Tea Partier" since 'tea bagger' can be taken as a reference to a particular sexual practice.

When reports in the early evening said federal authorities believe Saturday's attempted car bomber in Times Square "did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas," it came as something of a surprise. After all, we've come to expect at least some degree of sophistication when it comes international terrorist plots.

And Saturday night's car bomb was not sophisticated. The device itself was crude and ineffective. The driver neglected to remove the vehicle identification numbers. The truck included more than 100 pounds of fertilizer that wouldn't explode. Even the propane tanks hadn't been prepared properly.

What's more, the attempted terrorist (or terrorists) left plenty of clues about his identity. A former NYPD bomb squad detective said, "He was trying to cover his tracks, but he left more clues than a guy walking into a bank to rob it without a mask."

Late last night, about 48 hours after the attempted bombing, authorities apprehended Faisal Shahzad as he attempted to flee the country.

Federal agents and police detectives arrested a Connecticut man, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, shortly before midnight Monday for driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attack, Justice Department officials announced. [...]

Mr. Shahzad was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport as he tried to board a flight to Dubai, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an early morning statement delivered at the Justice Department in Washington. Charges against Mr. Shahzad, who had returned recently from a trip to Pakistan, were not announced, but he was expected to be charged Tuesday in federal court.

The investigation will, of course, continue, given that the suspected terrorist likely had accomplices. Of particular significance are questions about Shahzad's overseas contacts, and yesterday, control of the investigation shifted to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, a multiagency group led by the Justice Department.

This is obviously a story that's still unfolding, and if recent history is any guide, conservatives are going to start complaining incessantly about whether Shahzad has been Mirandized, whether he'll face charges in U.S. courts, and with demands that he be tortured immediately. GOP rhetoric is already tiresome, and it hasn't even started yet.

But before all of that gets started, now seems like a good time to applaud the exceptional work of law-enforcement officials at every level, from the cop on horseback who first smelled gunpowder to the federal agents who put the suspect in handcuffs last night. This was an exceedingly impressive display.


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) doesn't want Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the failed car bombing in Times Square, to be Mirandized. Neither does Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.).

"Did they Mirandize him? I know he's an American citizen but still," King said.

"But still"? What does that mean, exactly?

Keep in mind, King will be the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee next year if Republicans retake the House majority.

Come to think of it, there are a few other things to keep in mind. First, as a practical matter, we know that the Mirandizing suspects does not undermine our national security interests. For decades, this wasn't even a subject open to debate until Republicans decided last year this might be exploited politically to confused scared voters.

Second, on Fox News this morning, both Glenn Beck and Andrew Napolitano supported following the law and Mirandizing Shahzad. Congratulations, John McCain and Pete King, you're now slightly less reasonable than Fox News personalities.

Third, as Matt Yglesias noted, reading a suspect his/her rights isn't just some nicety: "[T]o give [a suspect] the death penalty, or indeed any penalty, you need to put him on trial. Which is to say you need to prove that the guy in custody is actually responsible for the crime. And the whole reason cops mirandize suspects is that if you don't, you risk having your evidence thrown out of court. If you gather all the information before mirandizing, you could be throwing the whole thing into doubt. Which is why professionals give out the warning."

And finally there's this important contextual observation from Adam Serwer: "Yesterday, when the primary suspect in the attempted bombing of Times Square was a middle-aged white guy, Republican leaders were the picture of calm, sober leadership. High-ranking Republicans on committees related to national security like Pete Hoekstra and Peter King urged people not to jump to conclusions, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised New Yorkers for not succumbing to fear.... That was yesterday."

  • John Cole adds:

    “I know he’s and American citizen, but still” really says it all, doesn’t it?

    Half our political leadership wants a banana Republic, and our media is just treating it like it is another opinion. At what point do we start calling these people what they are?

    And I just don’ know what to say about the obviously insane John McCain. You would think that someone who spent half a decade in a cage with no rights whatsoever in the defense of this nation and our laws and legal tradition and way of life, would have the slightest bit of respect for the rule of law. You would, of course, be wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment