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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

News Roundup, 4/18/08: Stopping al-Quaeda - You're Doing It Wrong

I've always been a little wary of measuring the success of the surge in Iraq by the number of American military casualties we were suffering. Isn't the supposed reason we're there to maintain stability to prevent al-Quaeda from strengthening and again posing a threat to the United States? Shouldn't that be the metric?

Turns out it's probably not the metric because were it so, we'd have to declare that we have failed.

The Government Accountability Office released a report on Pakistan yesterday with some grim news. The report stated that the Pakistani border was a safe haven for terrorist activity, and that al-Quaeda has rebuilt there to the point that it "had regenerated its ability to attack the United States."

As Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was quoted as saying in the AP report:

"For anyone wondering how we're doing in the fight to get the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, this report pretty much says it all."

The decision on pending Supreme Court case from Kentucky on the constitutionality of lethal injection that caused Texas executions to come to a standstill was published yesterday, and it was one of the most unusual decisions you're likely to see in your lifetime. The court ruled 7-2 that lethal injection did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The strange thing about the decision: Of the nine judges on the court, a staggering seven wrote their own opinions.

The controlling opinion, by Chief Justice Roberts, was signed by justices Alito and Kennedy. Alito wrote a concurring opinion adding to Roberts' opinion. Everyone else in the majority wrote their own, including Justice Stevens, which noted that though the details of the mechanism of lethal injection (which were what was actually being challenged) were not unconstitutional, the death penalty should be abolished.

Justice Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion, in which Justice Souter joined.

In another instance of The Bush administration keeping up its longstanding behavior of lowering expectations and "fudg[ing] the numbers" when it comes to their failed policies, the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration came under fire yesterday for responding to mass resignations by lowering firearms and psychological testing standards so it can accept more new hires. A previous trainer was reported by CNN as saying that "the situation was so bad that managers at his office fudged the numbers by assigning marshals to short, no-risk flights... to make it appear that the percentage of manned flights was higher than it really was."

Finally today, it's always nice when Republicans save us the trouble of making them look bad by taking care of it themselves. That's been the case with the Bloggers for Cornyn group that has seemingly gone out of their way to post attacks based on racist, bigoted premises.

Apparently, they take offense to Noriega's site having a Spanish and an English version — or, in their words, "english and mexican." (Ironically, Cornyn's Senate web site also has an "En Espanol" button, which they don't seem to mind nearly as strongly as Noriega's. I wonder what the difference there would be?)

And they follow that up by trying to intentionally confuse Rick Noriega with Panamanian general Manuel Noriega. In the BOR post we cited for this story, Karl-Thomas Musselman noted that that attack is basically identical to emphasizing Barack Obama's middle name to try and make some false association. I think I may be just as equally offended by the premise that clearly, since they share a last name, they must be the same guy. I don't think that sort of implicit conflation of a last name is something that would occur if the last name were, say, Jones.

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