Friday, April 27, 2007

Minor Threat

The Opinionator

Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks advances an argument that is usually verboten among mainstream opinion-slingers: International terrorism does not represent an existential threat to the United States. “The 9/11 attacks were appalling and tragic, but they did not threaten the survival of the nation,” Brooks writes. “The year 2001 aside, total deaths (not just of Americans) caused by international terrorism worldwide have never exceeded — or even approached — 2,000 a year. Sept. 11 was an outlier: On 9/11, a group of brutal, extremist Islamic thugs got very lucky.” She continues:

Of course, 3,000 dead is 3,000 too many. But keep it in perspective. As a nation, we have survived far worse. We lost more than 100,000 Americans in World War I, more than 400,000 in World War II, 37,000 in Korea, 58,000 in Vietnam — all without allowing our national character to turn into quivering jelly.

Every year, we also lose millions of Americans to preventable accidents and disease. We’re more likely to die on the road than as a result of Al Qaeda’s machinations. Annually, we lose some 43,000 people to auto accidents. For the grieving families, that’s 43,000 deaths too many. But, although we surely could reduce auto fatalities if we chose to make it our top national priority, the Bush administration has yet to announce a “War on Highway Deaths.”


A Dull First Debate

The Democrats debated. Not much of significance took place. Time’s Joe Klein gives his post-game wrap-up at Swampland: ” Most of the spinners were … speechless, or trading restaurant recommendations in Charleston, or asking reporters, ‘What did you think?’ This represents a major advance toward honesty in Democratic Party post-game politics.” (Democratic Party activist Matt Stoller described the candidates this way in a mid-debate post at “They are faithfully representing themselves.”) The New Republic’s Michael Crowley, on the other hand, thinks the time restraints made Joe Biden more, um, articulate than usual. “Is there some way to outfit him with, say, a high-tech ankle bracelet that issues a mild electric shock when he speaks for more than 30 uninterrupted seconds?” Crowley writes at The Plank. “It’d make him an instant frontrunner!”

  • The Washington Post editorial page denounces the return of the mysterious and anonymous Sen. Luddite, who is preventing the Senate from joining the late 20th century by blocking a bill that would require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically.

  • “We’ll never know if Iraq would be in any better shape today if the administration had stuck to the original scheme and handed off power to the first Iraqi exile who arrived in Baghdad with an autographed photo of Dick Cheney, or just asked Grand Ayatollah Sistani to pick a transitional government,” writes the Democratic Leadership Council’s Ed Kilgore at “But it’s unlikely it could have turned out much worse.”

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