Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
The Bombs Are Not Enough Check out this humbling report from the Institute of Strategic Studies (Warning: the document is slow to load. MSNBC's coverage is here). They estimate that al Qaeda has 18,000 members ready to target the West (only 1,000 of whom are in Iraq, despite the President's "central front" assertions) and that "the terrorist group poses a growing threat to Western interests and attacks are likely to increase."

How to justify the "growing threat" finding? Check out the flash graphic on the MSNBC page, which lists known or suspected al-Qaeda attacks in the last 11 years, as well as their failures. From a less than 50% success rate in the early 1990s, they've become almost infallible. Only two attacks have been foiled since 9/11/2001 -- the "shoe bomber" and an attempt to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In three years of the "War on Terror," the President has failed to decapitate or debilitate this group. Instead, "the Madrid bombings in March 2004 reinforced the perception that al-Qaeda had fully reconstituted." Worse, he's shown little interest in and even less aptitude for the "political developments" that the Institute feels are necessary to make progress.

This election is about change vs. more of the same. We can't afford the latter.

Why I Can't Stop Worrying and Love the Economy CBS Marketwatch's Irwin Kellner utters "the risk that dare not speak its name:" Stagflation.

While job growth has been strong for the past two months (finally!), that trend seems to be ebbing a bit as the impacts of this year's tax refunds drain out of the economy, and Kellner points out that there are other signs of economic weakness as well.

Others have pointed out that the risks of a 70s-style wage-price spiral are much lower today, in large part because so few workers labor under union contracts that mandate automatic raises in response to inflation indicies. Translation: Inflation will remain under control because the typical worker will be forced to stop buying, removing the upward pressure on prices. Gotta love an economic policy whose stated goal is to cut the average American's standard of living.

And, of course, even if the average worker's inability to demand a raise limits upward pressure on prices generally, the average American's standard of living is also almost certain to be assaulted by higher payments on their floating-rate home-equity loans. Nope, worries abound...

Monday, May 24, 2004
Missed the Memo? The webmasters at have received well-deserved praise for turning the web site into an effective communications tool for the President, rather than the fairly static tourist site that the Clinton Administration maintained.

But even this crack team can be a bit slow on the uptake when events heat up. Check out the "Iraq" homepage within the site. It still features this photo:

Who's that directly above the First Lady? Could it be ... disgraced Iraq National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi?

  • The man accused of fabricating evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction to help talk the Bush Administration into this invasion?

  • The man accused of leaking secrets to Iran -- secrets that 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl's sources say could "get Americans killed?"

  • The man whose organization is accused of skimming as much as $22 million off the top during the replacement of Iraq's currency last Fall?

    Yup, that's him!