Thursday, March 25 2005
UPDATES:
Scott Rasmussen sends word that Bush is going to be down again in his sample out today. The Clarke Effect is in full bloom. Rasumussen is also going to have some state polls out as well, so be sure to check in for the updates. And there's a new SUSA poll out for WA that's showing a bit of a Nader Effect as well.
UPDATE to the UPDATES: Rasmussen is out. - T. Bevan 11:35 am

A SIMPLE QUESTION: If Richard Clarke is really such a patriot and if he's truly sorry to the families of September 11 for failing to protect their loved ones, why is he exploiting the publicity of the 9/11 Commission for profit?

Doesn't anyone find this even a little problematic from an ethical perspective? Simon & Schuster may be behind the final release date of the book, but if Clarke had been in favor of delaying the date at the very least he could have made a statement saying as much.

In fact, he could have laid out his criticisms of the Bush administration in an op-ed for the Washington Post or NY Times and touted the details of his "soon-to-be-released book," thereby giving himself time to testify before the commission without having a vested financial interest in his appearance.

Irrespective of whether the charges in his book are true or not, it's beyond despicable that this man and his publishing company are profiting from the search for answers to America's worst national tragedy.

WHY RICHARD CLARKE IS GOOD FOR BUSH: Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's move on to another point. I don't care who makes the argument or how it is packaged, I just don't think the public is going to buy the idea that the Clinton administration's 8-year record on the issue of terrorism demonstrates a "sense of urgency" while the Bush administration's 8-month record leading up to September 11 does not. We'll have to wait and see.

Probably a worst-case scenario - which I still personally think is absurd - is that the public may come to the assessment that both administrations handled the issue about the same and that the Bush administration continued the Clinton administration's policy- a policy that in hindsight simply wasn't aggressive enough and effective enough to prevent 9/11.

But here's the real point. If you've watched the hearings, one thing has been made crystal clear: the Clinton administration was unwilling to mount an effort to take out bin Laden and the Taliban because, as we heard ad nauseam from Madeleine Albright, of the "pre-September 11th mind set" at home and abroad. It was also made clear, however, that the Clinton administration was more than willing and able to make the case for intervention in Kosovo.

By 1998, we knew the former was a serious national security threat to the United States while the latter was not. So what's the difference between the two cases? You guessed it: the acquiescence of our European allies.

Clinton led the charge into military action in Bosnia at the insistence of Europe because the European leaders deemed the use of U.S. military force in Kosovo in a humanitarian capacity to be perfectly acceptable.

When it came to Afghanistan, however, the Clinton folks were not willing to risk the disapproval of Europe to use military force to do what we now know needed to be done to protect ourselves.

To be fair, it has to be acknowledged that prior to September 11 the Bush administration wasn't willing to do this either. But after September 11, any reluctance we had about letting the protestations of allies prevent us from doing what we needed to do to exterminate terrorists went out the window - which is exactly where it should have gone.

This leads us back to the current Presidential race. If the most important lesson to be learned from the September 11 Commission is that America's safety depends on the willingness of leaders to pursue an aggressive policy against terrorism that will, at times, require them to have the courage go against the wishes of our allies, that's a winner for Bush, not Kerry.

Kerry's vision is to return American foreign policy to a more "internationalist" approach similar in almost every respect to that practiced during the Clinton administration. If the last two days have proven anything, it's that that line of thinking is not only ineffective, but deadly as well.

THINGS YOU SAY AND DO: Uh oh. Somebody get Bob Shrum on the phone:

In a question-and-answer session before a Senate committee in 1971, John F. Kerry, who was a leading antiwar activist at the time, asserted that 200,000 Vietnamese per year were being "murdered by the United States of America" and said he had gone to the Paris and "talked with both delegations at the peace talks" and met with communist representatives.

Kerry, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, yesterday confirmed through a spokesman that he did go to Paris and talked privately with a leading communist representative. But the spokesman played down the extent of Kerry's role and said Kerry did not engage in negotiations.

Asked about the appropriateness of Kerry's saying that the United States had "murdered" 200,000 Vietnamese annually when the United States was at war, Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said "Senator Kerry used a word he deems inappropriate."

Kerry's disavowal of the word "murder" is comical and convenient, but what he said in 1971 isn't nearly as damaging as what he did. Meeting with Communists in Paris is the stuff of parody, and it reinforces just about every negative aspect of John Kerry you can imagine.

Sounds like the guy really is an "International Man of Mystery" after all. - T. Bevan 9:45 am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, March 24 2004
ANOTHER BIG HEADACHE FOR BUSH:
As if the President didn't have enough on his plate right now - keeping the country safe, dealing with Iraq, worrying about when the economy is going to start producing jobs, and that little matter of convincing a majority of the American people he should keep his job - now he has to deal with the killing of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.

Hamas has threatened to retaliate - not only against Israel but against the United States. Al Qaeda is also on board. And Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz says more targeted killings are on the way.

I can sympathize with Israel's frustration over having to tolerate a certain level of terrorism while it works to find a solution to end the Palestinian conflict. It's been a difficult, elusive process that has gone on far too long.

I can also understand the argument that Yassin was Israel's OBL. Underneath the fragile, wheelchair-bound exterior was a morally bankrupt and deeply evil man. He was a monster who got exactly what he deserved, and no one can tell the Israelis they weren't within their right to take action against a person directly responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of their innocent citizens.

Still, I can't help but think the killing of Yassin was a tactical mistake. Israel had lived with Yassin for years, so why assassinate him now? Sharon's pull out of Gaza isn't scheduled until next year. So why not wait? Why not take him into custody and/or put him on trial and execute him at a later date?

Now that hardliner Abdel Aziz Rantisi is taking control of Hamas, Israel will probably be forced to strike him in the near future as well. Yasser Arafat and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah are also in the cross hairs. Yassin's assassination may have set in motion a string of events with many consequences, intended and unintended.

To my mind, the big question is whether Sharon's decision to take Yassin out may adversely affect our ability to pursue the overall War on Terror.

If Yassin's death does lead to a huge conflagration in the Middle East, won't that place an additional burden on the United States that will require vast amounts of time and effort to settle?

Given that we're already racing against the clock with everything we have to meet the deadline for the transfer of power to the new government in Iraq on July 1, a blow up in the Middle East right now could be big trouble.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for Israel's right to defend herself against terrorists. But I'm also for taking whatever steps can be taken at the appropriate time that are in the best interests of all those who are battling terrorism. In other words, we're on the same team.

That's why, if the news reports are to be believed, I'm astonished that Sharon would conduct a dramatic, high profile targeted assassination with such serious possible ramifications without giving us any advance warning. If, as some suggest, the Bush administration did give the tacit green light to Sharon, then I think they've made a strategic miscalculation as well.

I mean, here is the big picture: the United States is already leading a Herculean effort to fight terrorists around the world. We're doing it aggressively, we're doing it in spite of heavy resistance in the international community, and we're doing it at a very high personal cost.

Incidentally, there has been no greater beneficiary of Saddam's removal in the short-term than Israel. No more SCUD missiles just across the border and no more $25,000 checks to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Furthermore, we're already in a difficult position on the battleground of world opinion and we're constantly struggling to to counter the easy, anti-American scapegoating that continues in Muslim countries. The Yassin assassination makes that job more difficult, especially when it causes the rest of the world including allies like Britain to condemn it.

Sharon has a responsibility to defend his people first and foremost, but he should also act with a realization and recognition of how his actions may affect his closest and most loyal allies.

It shouldn't be lost on Sharon that it is in Israel's best national security interests to have George W. Bush occupying the White House for another four years. Sharon shouldn't be acting in ways that make that task more difficult (unless absolutely necessary) and Yassin's assassination might very well do just that if it further complicates the situation in the Middle East and strains our ability get Iraq on solid ground by the time November 2 rolls around.

What's done is done. The pressure that will be put on the Bush administration is going to be intense. Now more than ever, America is both Satan and Savior to many in the Arab world. To get a flavor of what I'm talking about see this Arab News editorial:

The gloves are off. Nothing can be ruled out. At this critical time, the Palestinians stand united against Israel; so do the Arabs. But that is not enough. There must be a determination at last to force Israel to halt its murders. It has canceled a meeting with Qorei. It must be forced to the negotiating table, forced into concessions. There is only one state that can do this. The US.

We demand action by Washington to rein in the Israeli murderers, to stop Israeli terror. Is Washington sincere in its commitment to justice, or is it as usual only going to mouth platitudes and do nothing? To quote George Bush, if it is not with us, it is against us.

As I said, another big headache for President Bush.- T. Bevan 12:01 pm| Link | Email | Send to a Friend

9/11 COMMISSION: Former Senator Bob Kerrey was particularly devastating in his questioning of Madeleine Albright.

KERREY: It seems to me during the Clinton administration there were two big mistakes and I wonder if you'd comment on them. The first is that from 1993 through 2001, the United States of America was either attacked or we prevented attack by radical Islamists close to a dozen times, either where the attack was successful or whether we interrupted the attack. And that during that period of time, not only did we not engage in any single military attack other than the 20th of August 1998 -- there was no attack against al Qaeda during that entire period of time. Indeed, the presidential directive that was -- the operative one of 62, that was written and signed in May of 1998, didn't give the military primary authority in counterterrorism. They were still responsible for supporting the states and local governments if we were attacked and they were still providing support for the Department of Justice and doing investigations.

And it seems to me especially -- you cited the '93 case with Iraq, the bombing of Iraq -- it seems to me that that was a terrible mistake. Indeed, the commission has seen evidence that people at lower levels of the Department of Defense and Dick Clarke himself were preparing analyses suggesting more aggressive military efforts and it went nowhere.

So that's mistake number one that I think was a big one. And the second one was after we had reason to believe that the Saudis were financing terrorists who were at least indirectly connected, if not directly connected, with killing Americans on the 7th of August 1998, that we didn't threaten to freeze their assets or actually freeze their assets; something that my guess is would have a dramatic impact on the kingdom's willingness to continue to behave in that fashion. So those are the two mistakes that I think were made during the Clinton administration.

The first one, I think, is a really large one. Honestly, I don't understand if we're attacked and attacked and attacked and attacked, why we continue to send the FBI over like the Khobar Towers was a crime scene or the East African embassy bombings was a crime scene. You said we had balance between military effort and diplomacy. And frankly, I've got to say, it seems to me it was very unbalanced in favor of diplomacy against military efforts.

ALBRIGHT: ... very difficult to assess what the targets would have been. And in many cases, some of the linkages that have been made now were not evident at the particular time. And to bomb at random or use military force I think would have created a situation that would have made our lives, American lives, even more difficult within the Muslim world. These are judgments that have to be made. And I think I'm known well enough inside and outside the government as somebody who was always willing to match diplomacy with force. And so, I do believe that we used force when it was appropriate, and strongly. So I think that...

KERREY: Madam Secretary, with great respect, after August of '98 you and I both know what we did. I think it's a straw man to say that we're going to have random bombing or indiscriminate bombing. That's not what we're proposing at all. I keep hearing the excuse we didn't have actionable intelligence. Well, what the hell does that say to al Qaeda? Basically, they knew -- beginning in 1993 it seems to me -- that there was going to be limited, if any, use of military and that they were relatively free to do whatever they wanted.

As I said, absolutely devastating.

WHO'S TO BLAME?: The truth is both the Clinton and Bush Administrations blew it prior to 9/11. Why Democrats are seeking to score political points against President Bush and blame him for not preventing 9/11 is beyond me.

Any objective analysis of the critical years before 9/11 shows the Clinton Administration far more culpable than President Bush. All the spinning and the Richard Clarke books in the world aren't going to change the fact that Clinton presided over eight years that included the first WTC bombing, Khobar Towers, the African Embassy attacks, and the USS Cole where the strongest military in the history of the world did just about nothing to respond.

President Bush had eight months and no attacks prior to 9/11. It's a joke that the Democrats think this is a playing field where they feel they can score political points.

The real issue for the country isn't who's to blame. The issue is what went wrong, so we can learn form our mistakes and decide how best to go forward with the War on Terror.

SENATOR KERREY: I had always liked Bob Kerrey when he was a member of the Senate. If the Democratic Party had more members like him and less members like Nancy Pelosi the party would be in a much better position to compete nationally.

Kerrey did have a 6-8 week period that is almost unforgivable, right before the 2000 election and in the immediate aftermath when he uncharacteristically became a partisan hack of the worst sort. Before the election he accused Bush of being AWOL and then in the Florida fiasco he was an active participant in the Gore campaign's attempt to undo the Florida results.

I suspect Kerrey was unsure on whether he would seek the 2004 nomination and he thought this was a easy way he could score points with the hard-left of the Democratic base.

After witnessing the rejection of Joe Lieberman, maybe Kerrey has finally accepted the reality that his form of Democratic politics (especially on security and national defense issues) no longer comports with where the Democratic Party is today.

MADELINE ALBRIGHT: I found Albright's testimony to be particularly obnoxious. Our friend Hugh Hewitt does a good job exposing her self-serving remarks:

THE ALBRIGHT DECEPTION: Senator Gorton, on why nothing was done after 1998 to try and stop bin Laden:

"While many other potential covert or cruise missile kinds of responses were considered, all ran up against an objection that the intelligence wasn't actionable, that you didn't know what, ah, that there was no appropriate target, or that there'd be collateral damage, so every such suggestion was, you know, frustrated and came to naught before 9/11, is that not correct? Albright : "I have no way of judging what happened inside the Bush Administrating from January to September..."

Senator Gorton: "But you do know nothing happened?"

Albright: "Well I do know that, but I also, um, do know that many of the, ah, um, policy issues that we had developed were not followed up, and I have to say with great sadness, ah, to watch an incoming Administration kind of take apart a lot of the policies that we did have, whether it had to do with North Korea or the Balkans, was difficult. So I think, ah, ah, I think you have to ask people that were in the Bush Administration as to how they saw things on this particular issue, but I do think, ah, in all fairness, that 9/11 was a cataclysmic event ah, that changed things and that they must have had similar reactions. But clearly there are many issues and many questions now about how they were responding ah, to the terrorist threat and how seriously they took it. You are going to have some other witnesses here, ah, who will be more capable of responding to that question than I because I know nothing beyond what I read."

This is repugnant in the depth of its deception and sophistry. Asked tough questions, Albright shifted the subject from what the Clinton Administration didn't do and then to the Bush Administration abandonment of Clinton's North Korean and Balkan policies (thank goodness we gave up on the benefits of being hornswaggled by Kim Jong Il) to leave the impression, implicit only, that the Bush Administration abandoned anti-al Qaeda initiatives as well. Initiatives like not trying to take him out when the drone spotted him in the fall? This is a hearing for the historians to mull over, and when they do, it will not go well for Madame Secretary.....

Those attacks were operational long before January 20, 2001. The opportunity to stop them came and went sometime in the mid to late '90s, when the Clinton gang couldn't be bothered to try anything with al Qaeda that didn't begin and end with an indictment and a subpoena. For eight years it was talk, talk, talk; posture, posture, posture; campaign, campaign, campaign. And the plans were hatched and matured. Period.

Again, from a political standpoint it is astonishing that the Democrats feel there is something in this entire story that is beneficial to their cause.

SHEIK AHMED YASSIN: I'm glad he is dead. Yesterday's Chicago Tribune blares the headline "Hamas: War is Opened." Gee, really? This may be news to some people but Hamas' War was opened a long time before yesterday.

The Jerusalem Post's Bret Stephens had a good article on this which headlined the site yesterday, it is worth a read if you missed it. NRO's John Derbyshire had a couple of good points as well.

MEDICARE: This is one of the front-page headlines in today's New York Times; "Medicare Overseers Expect Costs to Soar in Coming Decades." Why is this a surprise to anyone? - J. McIntyre 7:55am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, March 23 2004
MINI-BLOG: Short on time this morning, back in a bit with more. Updated polls here and here. Election 2004 News here.

GAY MARRIAGE UPDATE: No big rant today, just some tidbits from around the country:

›The sponsors of the FMA, Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and Senator Wayne Allard have changed the wording of the amendment to "leave state legislatures with the unambiguous right to recognize civil unions."

› In Atlanta the other day, a group of about two dozen African-American pastors endorsed the ban on gay marriage currently under consideration in the Georgia state house. One pastor said, "to equate a lifestyle choice to racism demeans the work of the entire civil rights movement."

›Approximately 3,000 people showed up on the steps of the state capitol in St.Paul yesterday for a "Minnesota for Marriage" rally in advance of Wednesday's vote on a Constitutional ban.

› A new Democracy Corps poll (done by GQR) shows the public remains unfavorably disposed to the idea of gay marriage by nearly 40 points (23-61). The public is evenly split on the question of whether homosexuality is a way of life that should be "accepted" or "discouraged" by society (45-48). Finally, by a substantial 20-point margin those polled say they are NOT in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage (36-56).

One last thing. O. Ricardo Pimentel has a column in today's Arizona Republic demonstrating just how slippery the slope we're on will be.

YOUR NEW SPECIAL OPS GUY: Not quite Pat Tillman territory, but still pretty cool. - T. Bevan 8:55 am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, March 22 2004
THE FULL FRONTAL ASSAULT:
I don't recall seeing a more well-orchestrated, well-timed, full frontal assault on a political figure than what we're seeing the Democrats do to President Bush right now. Forget references to Richard Clarke as "a Reagan appointee," that's nothing but window dressing.

Democrats are well aware that President Bush's most favorable political attribute is his determined pursuit of the War on Terror. Approval for his leadership in the War on Terror remains well above sixty percent and he holds a substantial lead lead over John Kerry on the issue.

For Kerry to have any chance at all of winning in November, Democrats know they have to destroy Bush's standing as a War President and they have to do it fast - before the Bush team can plant the image in the public's mind that John Kerry is soft on national security.

To accomplish this daunting task, Democrats have resorted not just to an argument of process (i.e. Bush has made progress battling terrorism but would be doing a better job if not for mistakes X, Y & Z) but have coalesced around what I would call "The Big Lie:" that Bush is and has always been soft on terror.

Here is the anatomy of the assault. Paul Krugman launched the attack last week (duly noted on this very blog) accusing Bush of being "weak on terror." Matt Yglesias followed up shortly thereafter repeating the Big Lie in The American Prospect online - saying on his blog, ironically enough, that the only problem with Krugman's effort was that "he's just not shrill enough about it."

The attacked moved into high speed over the weekend. Leading up to his testimony before the 9/11 commission, Richard Clarke appeared on 60 Minutes and laid into Bush. There was no discussion of the terrorist attacks during the Clinton administration, no critical analysis of how the previous administration's response (or lack thereof) to those events may played a role in changing Clarke's mind about the urgent nature of the threat posed by al-Qaeda. Nothing but blame for Bush.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta got his hands on internal FBI and DoJ budgetary memos showing the Bush administration not fully acceeding to the FBI's request for an additional $1.5 billion funding for counter terrorism. Podesta leaked the documents to Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, who wrote the story up today on page A6 in a tone not much different from the partisan hit job that appeared on the Center for American Progress' own web site.

We've got The New York Times, CBS News and The Washington Post flooding the zone with interviews featuring and talking points distributed by former Clinton officials. And liberals complain that Fox News is a pipeline for the RNC? At least Condi Rice got a chance to respond on the WaPo op-ed page.

The question is whether Richard Clarke's dog can hunt. I don't think it's necessarily fair to paint him as just a "disgruntled employee" but it is fair to note that he's out to try and sell books. I will say this: I can understand that someone who's job is to walk around and bang the drums about terrorism all day might get good and upset when people don't give him the attention he thinks he deserves.

The truth of the matter is that Clarke wanted to push the same plan (actually it wasn't even a cohesive plan but a set of ideas) already rejected by his former bosses in the Clinton administration, that I believe included trying to assissinate Osama bin Laden and forcibly remove the Taliban.

Given the way we've seen liberals react to George Bush's aggressive handling of the War on Terror, I think it's fair to say we would have had a national vein-popping epidemic on our hands if Bush had said to Clarke in early 2001, "you're absolutely right Dick, OBL is an imminent threat to our national security and we need to preemptively bomb the piss out of Afghanistan, invade the country and take him out."

That's what is so ridiculous (and audacious) about this entire ploy. For the better part of three years we've been listening to liberals whine that Bush is an overly aggressive cowboy, a unilateralist Nazi trampling on our civil rights at home and the feelings of our European friends abroad in pursuit of a "war" that many on the left have repeatedly said did and does not exist.

Now eight months before the election and we're getting a full 180 degree pivot from the same people accusing Bush of being soft on terror. It's as fake and phony as the wrinkle-free skin on John Kerry's forehead. - T. Bevan 6:27 pm | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

RICHARD CLARKE & THE TERRORIST THREAT: I've got Richard Clarke on Tivo and I'm going to watch his appearance a second time before writing up some comments for a special PM Edition of the RCP Blog - so be sure to check in again later today.

Let's set aside the whole l'affaire du Clarke for a moment and get down to brass tacks: are we making progress against the threat of terrorism or not? It looks to me like one of those "absolutely yes, but..." answers.

Clearly, we've rolled up a good number of al-Qaeda's leaders over the past two years and they are a weaker organization as a result. But, as the CS Monitor reports this morning, the Madrid investigation is revealing an amorphous terrorist network throughout Europe that seems to have generated (or regenerated) over the past year or two and may have few direct links to al-Qaeda. Here are three key grafs:

The attack has revealed "an accumulation of strata from different networks that had been damaged but which managed to fuse, a patchwork of leftovers" that re-generated itself, says Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French secret service agent now investigating Al Qaeda for lawyers representing relatives of 9/11 victims.

That fusion illustrates how "the threat of terrorism has shifted from Al Qaeda to associated organizations" inspired by Osama bin Laden without necessarily waiting for his orders, says Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror." "Al Qaeda has become a movement, it is no longer a single group."

The key, Dr. Gunaratna argues, is closer international cooperation among intelligence services. "European security services are still looking at terrorist networks as national problems," he says. "They have not matched the integration Al Qaeda has achieved in combining networks."

We get a similar assessment from today's Dallas Morning News. In a piece titled "Al-Qaeda: Its true nature eludes West," reporter Tod Robberson writes:

Paul Beaver, a defense analyst and editor of the newsletter Homeland Response, suggested the impact of Mr. Zawahiri's potential capture could be minimal because al-Qaeda's leadership and command are so decentralized.

"Everything they do in terms of planning and recruiting is done individually. One of the problems you've got now is that this is an evolving organization," he explained. "It's like a bacteria. Every time we find an antidote to it, it evolves into a new form."

Dr. Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, said it is wrong to think of al Qaeda as a single, definable entity.

"I'm increasingly convinced that we are not dealing with one organization," he said. "Al-Qaeda is probably nothing more than Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and a few others working with them. This [broader network] is much, much bigger than anything Osama bin Laden objectively is capable of directing."

The liberal take on these developments is obvious - not to mention obviously political: the reconstitution of al-Qaeda and affiliates is evidence the Bush administration has failed in the battle against terror. A further assertion would be that the world is more dangerous now than it was two years ago and George W. Bush's policies are the cause.

But the fact that al-Qaeda and its affiliates have been forced to mutate at all is proof that we've been successful in damaging their operational capacity.

If it is true that what we have now is Osama and Ayman in a cave in Pakistan and a ragtag network of groups getting together and freelancing when and where they can around the globe, that's certainly a formidable problem. But it's a problem created by progress, not passivity.

In a very short time we've eliminated centralized training camps for would-be terrorists, we've disrupted their ability to move money around the world to finance attacks, and through the use of military force and diplomacy we've assured that terrorists will get no more protection - and significantly less tolerance - from governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The perception that the world is more dangerous today than it was two years ago only exists because we've shed the false sense of security we lived with for so long. Now that we've accepted the reality that there is a group of people who spend every waking moment plotting our destruction, it's beyond dispute that our government has taken action over the last two and a half years to make the country and the world a safer place.

The question of the moment is whether they could have done even more, both before and after September 11. That's a debate we're going to have over the next 8 months and, as we can already see, it's going to involve a lot of finger pointing, accusations about who did what when, and blame-laying.

It's a debate we absolutely must have as a country, too, but we should take care not to let it distract us from what's truly important or to let it become so divisive that it gives our enemies hope.

NO BULLY LEFT BEHIND: Stories like this leave a big, fat pit in my stomach.

In the last six months, teachers in Chicago's public schools have reported 970 incidents of being verbally or physically abused by their students. That works out to more than five incidents a day as represents a 25% increase versus year ago. Physical assaults alone are up seventeen percent.

As with most of these types of statistics, their release is accompanied by some controversy:

School officials say the numbers show that more teachers are reporting offenses, not that there are more incidents.

"We do have higher numbers than last year, no doubt about it," said Andres Durbak, the head of safety and security for the district for the last two years. "We are encouraging teachers to report [incidents] more. We don't want teachers to hide things."

But many teachers and officials from the Chicago Teachers Union say the number of assaults is probably much higher than what is reported. They say many incidents go unreported because teachers fear retaliation or loss of their job. Some say they feel pressured by school administrators to just let the incident go.

"Normally, these things are swept under the rug, kept in-house," said Karl Sundstrom, a colleague of a teacher who was attacked at Westinghouse High School. "It's one of those dirty little secrets. Maybe it would bring disrepute upon the school or the school system at large. It's just bad publicity."

Whether we're seeing an increase in actual abuse or just an increase in the reporting of abuse, the numbers still stink.

Despite the arguments you may hear from liberals and NEA members, no amount of money can fix this problem. I take that back. Theoretically, I guess we could spend tens of billions of more dollars militarizing our public schools and turning them into thousands of mini-Guantanemo Bay look-a likes, putting a security guard in every classroom, along with those already patrolling the playgrounds and manning the metal detectors at every door. Plenty of America's public schools already look close to this anyway.

Or we could radically rethink how we go about educating children in this country. We could recognize that a monopolistic public school system operating without the rigors of competition leaves millions of children trapped in a helpless, hopeless, and in some cases, dangerous situation. For many inner-city kids today America's public education system is a limitation on their future rather than a passport to a better life. - T. Bevan 9:39 am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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Archives - 2003
12/22-28 | 12/15-21 | 12/8-14 | 12/1-7 | 11/24-11/30 | 11/17-11/23 | 11/10-11/16 | 11/3-11/9 | 10/27-11/2 | 10/20-26 | 10/13-19 | 10/6-10/12 | 9/29-10/5 | 9/22-28 | 9/15-9/21 | 9/8-9/14 | 9/1-9/7 | 8/25-8/31 | 8/17-8/24 | 8/11-8/16 | 8/4-8/10 | 7/28-8/3 | 7/21-7/27 | 7/14-7/20 | 7/7-7/13 | 6/30-7/6 | 6/23-6/29 | 6/16-6/22 | 6/9-6/15 | 6/2-6/8 | 5/26-6/1 | 5/19-5/25 | 5/12-5/18 | 5/5-5/11 | 4/28-5/4 | 4/21-4/27 | 4/14-4/20 | 4/7-4/13 | 3/31-4/6 | 3/24 - 3/30 | 3/10 - 3/17 | 3/3-3/9 | 2/24-3/2 | 2/17-2/23 |
2/10-2/16 | 2/3- 2/9 | 1/27 - 2/2 | 1/20 -1/26 | 1/13-1/19 | 1/6-1/12 | 12/31/02-1/5/03

Archives - 2002
12/23-12/29 | 12/16-12/22 | 12/9-12/15 | 12/2-12/8 | 11/25-12/1 | 11/18-11/24 | 11/11-11/17 | 11/4-11/10 | 10/28-11/3 | 10/21-10/27 | 10/14 -10/20 | 10/7-10/13 | 9/30-10/6 | 9/23 -9/29 | 9/16-9/22


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