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A New York city councilman has died from gunshot wounds after being shot at City Hall today, CBS News reports. I presume the man killed is James Davis, the Brooklyn councilman who was earlier reported by MSNBC to have been shot twice in the chest.
The Fog of War is taking hold at City Hall, with conflicting info about the fate of the gunman. CNN said he shot himself, but MSNBC says he is still at large after shooting a Brooklyn councilman and another person. I am heading back to Manhattan now.
The latest word from City Hall is that the gunman shot another man and then shot himself. I am in Queens now, at the computer repair shop (see pic below). I considered going downtown to have a look at the scene, but thought better of it, for now at least.
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Gunfire at New York City Hall. I am at a CompUSA store on 38th Street, well north of City Hall, but a few minutes ago I saw a whole bunch of emergency vehicles speeding south on Fifth Avenue, perhaps heading to the scene. TV reports mayor is OK.
On the drive downtown this morning, I had an interesting conversation with my mom about politics, the Bush Administration, and the war on terrorism, and I found myself saying some unexpectedly coherent things, so I figured I should post a summary of my thoughts.
It has been noted in the blogosphere — by conservative, generally Bush-friendly bloggers, no less — that the current administration is extremely vulnerable on homeland-security issues, if only some Democrat would pick up the ball and make the necessary criticisms. Specifically, various crucial aspects of homeland security are vastly underfunded (our total failure, nearly two years after 9/11, to adequately increase port security is just one glaring example), the states aren’t receiving nearly enough security-related aid, what little aid they are receiving is being distributed in an absurd way (hint: New York needs a bigger share of the money, Wyoming needs a lesser share), and Tom Ridge’s new department is becoming increasingly mired in, well, exactly the sort of bureaucratic woes that you’d expect from a new, vast, bohemoth bureaucracy.
It all adds up to one unescapable conclusion: whatever you think of the Bush Administration’s successes and/or failures in the overseas/military war on terrorism, they aren’t doing enough to fight the domestic aspect of the war. (And the steps they are taking are the ones that are most damaging to civil liberties, whereas the less onerous and arguably more important steps — such as, again, defending the ports against nuclear attack — go underfunded. More on that in a second.)
All of this would, in theory, make a potent campaign theme: “President Bush has left America vulnerable to another terrorist attack. President Bush is not defending America. If elected, I will defend America.” It also ties in nicely with other Democratic themes, e.g.: “President Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans have drained us of the money we need to defend 100% of Americans from terrorist attacks.”
The problem for the Democrats, I think, is that for a substantial portion of their base, “homeland security” is something of a bogeyman. It conjures visions of racial profiling, suspensions of habeas corpus, Japanese internment camps, and John Ashcroft tapping your phone to listen to you having phone sex — not to mention the ominous similarity between “homeland” and “fatherland,” which leads inevitably to those ever popular Bush-Hitler analogies.
The point is, many liberals seem to view the very concept of “homeland security” as a bad thing. Which, of course, is ridiculous — homeland security is necessary thing. But no one seems to have figured out how to criticize both the excesses and the inadequacies of Bush’s homeland-security policies. Liberals and ACLU types who focus only on the excesses come off looking wimpy and out-of-touch with post-9/11 realities. But nobody wants to criticize the inadequacies — that is, to call for more homeland security — because they risk being pilloried by (guess who) liberals and ACLU types.
The result: Democrats who want to win not only the nomination, but the general election (what a concept!), are seemingly caught between a rock and a hard place. (Dammit! I just realized, I don’t think I ever posted anything during Gulf War II using the phrase “between Iraq and a hard place.” Now there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity missed.)
The two arguments — that the Bush Administration has not done enough, and that the Bush Administration has gone too far — are not mutually exclusive, however, if the case is made effectively. Indeed, I think the Democrat who figures out how to do this — and I’m not confident that any of the current crop of candidates will, but I gotta hope — will have struck political gold.
Criticizing Ashcroftesque excesses — offenses against privacy, civil liberties, and the Constitution — appeals to Naderite loonies, mainstream liberals, and conservative libertarians alike (N.R.A. types, for instance, are not too fond of big brother); making an effective case for greater security appeals to everyone. The Democrat who argues that Bush has done too much to turn America into a police state, while doing too little to actually protect its citizens, is the Democrat who would, very likely, have my support in 2004. And I suspect I’m not alone.
SOMEWHERE IN CYBERSPACE, July 23 (AP) — In an unprecedented display of the Internet’s power, the amorphous multinational entity known as the Blogosphere declared war on Iran early Wednesday.
“We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail,” said Blogosphere president Glenn Reynolds in an address to the blogger nation. “The mullahs of Iran will rue the day they messed with the Blogosphere.”
The long-simmering ideological conflict between the Iranian government and the Blogosphere’s dominant conservative wing turned personal and boiled over late Tuesday when President Reynolds’s site, InstaPundit, linked to a post by blogger Hossein Derakhshan in which Derakhshan indicated that Iran’s government has blocked access to more than three dozen blogs, including his own.
“Miserable mullahs,” Reynolds wrote. “The blogosphere will dance on your graves.”
Within hours, a Technorati analysis revealed that a vast majority of bloggers supported making Reynolds’s prediction come true — immediately.
“That’s when we decided to take matters into our own hands,” Reynolds stated in the full version of his speech, published online. (He read only a two-minute summary in his televised address, but read the full speech’s URL aloud and urged citizens to “read the whole thing.”)
“The Bush Administration may not have the political or diplomatic capital to prosecute this war right now, but that’s okay — we’ll do it for them,” Reynolds wrote.
It was not immediately clear just how the war would be fought, given that most of the Blogosphere’s citizens are university professors, political columnists or columnist wannabes, unrepentant computer geeks, and other people with way too much time on their hands — not professionally trained soldiers.
But Andrew Sullivan, the Blogosphere’s Secretary of War, said he is confident victory will be swift and overwhelming. “The pen is mighter than the sword, and the keyboard is even mighter,” Sullivan said at an early-morning press conference.
“We brought down Trent Lott, we brought down Howell Raines, and now we’re going to bring down the government of Iran,” he added. “No sweat.”
Sullivan said the opening stage of the war would involve “an extremely thorough Fisking” of the Iranian regime. “We’ll attack them at the paragraph level, the sentence level, even the word level,” he said.
He declined to comment further on strategy, but sources said General Scott Ott was mobilizing his ScrappleFace Brigade, preparing to launch a no-holds-barred anti-mullah joke spree — reportedly termed a “Mock and Awe” campaign — in an attempt to win over the hearts and minds of the Iranian people.
It was unclear at press time whether The Onion, a more left-leaning comedy website, would join with Ott’s conservative blog in the Mock-and-Awe effort. Experts said a ScrappleFace-Onion alliance would create the most potent comedic force in military history.
Some liberal bloggers objected to the “rush to war” by the Blogosphere’s government. Josh Marshall, a prominent opposition blogger, called the declaration of war an “unilateral action that has absolutely no validity.” Fellow liberal Atrios said there is “absolutely no evidence that Iran poses an imminent threat to the Blogosphere.”
Sullivan dismissed Marshall and Atrios as “members of a fifth column that is seeking to subvert the legitimate government of the Blogosphere.”
Big Media outlets, meanwhile, were caught completely off-guard by the news. The cable networks struggled to come up with on-screen slogans for the impending conflict. CNN initially labeled it “Showdown: Iran,” but later switched to “Bloggers At War.” Fox News had less trouble, quickly settling on “When Geeks Attack.”
News organizations were also scrambling to provide staffing to cover this new and unexpected military theater. The New York Times, upon learning of a major story that could actually be covered from an apartment in Brooklyn, re-hired Jayson Blair. The BBC dispatched several reporters to Reynolds’s home, where they were reportedly digging through his garbage for evidence that he had “sexed up” Derakhshan’s post.
Reynolds said now is the time for the citizens of the Blogosphere to unite. “My fellow citizens, this is our hour of destiny,” he said. “We will erase Big Media’s doubts, and we will eviscerate our Iranian foes. And maybe, somehow, somewhere along the way, we’ll get Maureen Dowd fired, too. You never know.”
“When this conflict is done,” he concluded, “no place in the world will be safe for terrorists and tyrants, because no one can hide from the Blogosphere.”
Today’s quote in my daily calendar of “The Very Curious Language of George W. Bush” is priceless:
“Laura and I are proud to call John and Michelle Engler our friends. I know you’re proud to call him governor. What a good man the Englers are.”
Hee hee, har har.
Andrew, in a comment on an unrelated topic, provides this tragic bit of news, which I had heretofore missed:
Horrible, horrible news from the USC front:
Incoming USC football recruit Drean Rucker has presumably
drowned down here in Huntington Beach. He’s been missing since Monday
Rucker was a linebacker out of Moreno Valley High School and was considered the top LB prospect in California this past year. Very tragic.