Criminal Negligence of Cause and Effect - November 19, 2004

November 19, 2004
Criminal Negligence of Cause and Effect
"Despite Drop In Crime, An Increase In Inmates" - Headline to a November 8 story from crime reporter Fox Butterfield story.

"The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday. The continuing increase in the prison population, despite a drop or leveling off in the crime rate in the past few years, is a result of laws passed in the 1990's that led to more prison sentences and longer terms, said Allen J. Beck, chief of corrections statistics for the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics and an author of the report.In seeking to explain the paradox of a falling crime rate but a rising prison population, Mr. Beck pointed out that F.B.I. statistics showed that from 1994 to 2003 there was a 16 percent drop in arrests for violent crime, including a 36 percent decrease in arrests for murder and a 25 percent decrease in arrests for robbery." - Butterfield, from the text of his Nov. 8 story. Butterfield doesn't consider whether crime is dropping because more criminals are behind bars.

A "Poll Tax" on the Poor in Ohio?

"Even if the waits were comparable in poorer and richer precincts, legal scholars said, they might have had a disproportionate impact. If time is money, a long wait is a sort of poll tax, and the rich may be more able to pay it." - Adam Liptak on Election Day voting anomalies in Ohio, November 7.

"A More Imperial President"
"It was a small but telling change for a president whose re-election has already had a powerful effect on his psyche, his friends and advisers say. They say Mr. Bush's governing style may change as well, although they acknowledge it is too early to tell if victory will lift what critics call the chip on his shoulder and make him more magnanimous - or whether it will simply create a more imperial president." - White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, November 8.

No More Clarence Thomases
"Hold your nose and work with President Bush as much as you can because it's lethal to be portrayed as obstructionists. Sure, block another Clarence Thomas, but here's a rule of thumb: if an otherwise qualified Supreme Court nominee would turn the clock back 10 years, approve; back 25 years, vote no; back a half-century, filibuster." - Columnist Nicholas Kristof's advice to Democrats on challenging Bush's judicial nominees.

Don't Get Too "Radical," Republicans
"So while Democrats may be forced to cave on some Bush priorities, like drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or capping jury awards in medical malpractice cases, they may be unyielding on others, like supplanting the traditional Social Security retirement system with private investment accounts. And they may get help from Republicans, particularly those up for re-election in 2006, who cannot afford to anger constituents by pursuing too radical an agenda." - Sheryl Gay Stolberg, November 7.

Wishful Thinking?
"The war in Iraq could become so unpopular that it would dog Mr. Bush and the Republicans the way that the Vietnam War did President Johnson and the Democrats. Fault lines are already visible in the Republican party between social and fiscal conservatives, and they could split open." - Dean Murphy, November 7.

Hard Cheese for Krugman After Big Bush Win
"There's clearly a block of the American electorate that is, for whom what are, what we're calling moral issues, but in any case, for whom things like abortion, gay rights and I believe lurking in the background, basically opposition to the whole civil rights movement." - Comments from columnist Paul Krugman, a guest on Kathleen Dunn's Wisconsin Public Radio show November 8.

Ashcroft's "Excesses"

"To his many critics, however, Mr. Ashcroft was a symbol of excesses of the antiterror campaign, a man engaged in overzealous prosecutions and insensitive to civil liberties." - Eric Lichtblau describing retiring Attorney General John Ashcroft, November 10.

But Arafat's "Aura"
"Neither [Ahmed Qureia and Mahmoud Abbas] is especially popular among Palestinians, with little of the street credibility and aura that surrounded Mr. Arafat.The guerrilla fighter and Nobel Prize winner who has symbolized the Palestinian struggle for statehood for four decades." - Elaine Sciolino describing Palestinian terrorist Yasir Arafat, November 10.

Chris Hedges Blows in Again
"We are losing the war in Iraq very badly, but the Bush administration will not walk away from the debacle without trying to reoccupy huge swaths of the territory they have lost." - Anti-war reporter Chris Hedges in front of an audience at Manhattanville College in New York State, November 4. He also predicted Bush will impose a draft.

"Nave" Americans in Iraq "Great At Taking Things Apart"

"As in a fevered dream, that and other scenes of destruction played out last week in Falluja before the eyes of American troops, residents and reporters. By early Saturday, marines and soldiers had swept through most of the city and cornered insurgents in the south, leaving behind shelled buildings, bullet-riddled cars and rotting corpses. It proved one thing: That the Americans are great at taking things apart. What comes after the battlefield victory has always been the real problem for them during their 19 months in Iraq.It is the last aim - persuading the Sunnis to act as a loyal minority in a democracy - that may be the most improbable goal of the retaking of Falluja by storm. American officials say that if it can be done, Falluja, which has assumed mythic status across the Arab world for its resistance, could then serve as a model for the rest of Iraq, and Iraq as a model for the rest of the Middle East. But given the track record of the Americans and their allies, military analysts say, the immediate goals in Falluja seem nave, if not utterly inconsequential given the surging resistance across the Sunni-dominated regions of Iraq, almost certainly organized by the very leaders who fled Falluja before the offensive." - Edward Wong, November 14.

Toilet Humor at the Times
"At Councilwoman Christine C. Quinn's homey, rent-stabilized Chelsea apartment, the threshold bears a New York Yankees doormat. The television is tuned to Lifetime, the often-weepy network for women. The family dog, Sadie, a mutt with two doting human mommies and no daddy, wears her political heart on her sleeve: a Kerry bandanna and a button that reads, cheekily, 'I Pee on Bushes.' Who says partisan politics has to be humorless? Or confined to people?" - Reporter Robin Finn in her "Public Lives" profile of Manhattan politico Christine Quinn November 18.

Guess Maureen's Not Moving On
"Now, in the 21st-century reign of King George II, flattery is mandatory, dissent is forbidden, and erring without admitting error is the best way to get ahead. President Bush is purging the naysayers who tried to temper crusted-nut-bar Dick Cheney and the neocon crazies on Iraq."

Yeah, What Would He Know?

"General [John] Sattler's assertions about routing the insurgency appeared optimistic, given the fact that Abdullah Janabi, the leader of Falluja's mujahedeen council, was still operating in the city." - Robert Worth and Edward Wong reporting on Falluja, November 19.

Alrighty Then
"Tots surely won't recognize that Santa's big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler's Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl's 'Triumph of the Will.' But their parents may marvel that when Santa's big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum." - Movie critic Manohla Dargis reviewing "The Polar Express" November 10.