Archive

  • IF I WERE...

    IF I WERE A TERRORIST� I'm a former New Yorker (and one who watched the first tower collapse in person, not on TV) and a present Washingtonian. So I ought to be as lathered up as the next guy about this terror-funding thing . But what if DHS is...right? I have sometimes thought, �If I were a terrorist, where would I strike next? What would really mess with the psyches of my hated Great Satanic foes?� And I�m not sure I�d hit New York or Washington. Too obvious. Been done. Besides, both probably are reasonably well fortified. Therefore, I could easily imagine a scenario in which the next terror attacks occur in, say, Wichita, Des Moines, Memphis, and Omaha. Such a series of coordinated strikes in heartland small cities would be pretty devastating, I�ve always thought, and might well rattle many Americans even more than another attack on Manhattan, which, let�s face it, many Americans think of as a western province of France. And if they happened, everyone would be sitting around saying...
  • THE 71,000 SEPT....

    THE 71,000 SEPT. 11 SURVIVORS & THEIR STUDY. The same days as news hits that New York's homeland security budget is being reduced by 40 percent, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announces the next phase of their study of the long-term health of the more than 71,000 survivors of the attack on New York, some of whom apparently still suffer from something known as "World Trade Center Cough." Previous surveys have documented a higher than normal incidence of respiratory ailments, rashes, and mental health problems among the population caught in the dust cloud or otherwise impacted by the unusual mix of toxic chemicals unleashed that day and after, as people evacuated and returned to the 38 damaged or collapsed buildings in lower Manhattan. You can click here for more information on the survey or its latest (April 2006) results (PDF). --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • BUT HOW MANY...

    BUT HOW MANY TOILETS ARE THERE? New York City most certainly does contain monuments and icons -- especially if, as I'm given to understand, Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium counts as one -- but it may suffer from a more serious threat: toilets. Your fact of the day, courtesy of John Mueller is this: "Outside of 2001, fewer people have died in America from international terrorism than have drowned in toilets." Watch out! --Matthew Yglesias
  • TAXES ARE HARD....

    TAXES ARE HARD. Some attention has already been paid to this hackish op-ed expounding on the conservative virtues of the Alternative Minimum Tax. It is, the author writes, the quickest way of taking the country to a flat tax, which should be the preferred conservative solution. How weird then that conservatives are all clamoring for its repeal! What gives? In a nutshell, this is why taxes are a tricky issue. Everyone is always clamoring for tax simplification, but that's not actually hard to do. The AMT has two tax brackets -- a 26 percent, and a 28 percent -- and you pay into one depending on how much you make. It's dead simple. A progressive tax structure could have six income brackets, and it wouldn't take you any more time. You'd look at a chart, compare it to your income, and multiply. What makes taxes complicated are deductions and loopholes. But they're not the product of erosion, or some other natural, inevitable process. They're implemented because they're popular. People...
  • THE PEOPLE WANT...

    THE PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW! Why hasn't a correction been added to this column , as Jonah Goldberg promised ? UPDATE: And here it is. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • EVEN LIEBERMAN WAS...

    EVEN LIEBERMAN WAS HINKY ON HENKE. Here's Tracy Henke 's official bio, with a picture that should live in infamy . Her recess appointment to DHS was controversial and opposed by Joe Lieberman , who sits on the Senate's Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and issued this statement on January 5, 2006: I am deeply disturbed by the President's decision to bypass the Senate and unilaterally install Tracy Henke and Julie Myers in Department positions for which Senate confirmation is required. I am particularly troubled that the President chose to appoint Ms. Henke before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee even had the opportunity to vote on her nomination. The recess appointment power should be sparingly used, and not merely to avoid having to put Administration nominees to a vote. Although significant questions have been raised about these nominees, there has been no suggestion that either of them would be denied an up-or-down vote in the Senate. It...
  • HENKE DHS CONTROVERSY...

    HENKE DHS CONTROVERSY NOT A FIRST. Tracy Henke 's tenure at DHS has been rocky from the start. According to a Maryland paper : Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley Friday criticized Department of Homeland Security officials for inefficiently allocating grant money and failing to establish tangible priorities. O'Malley was presiding over a homeland security task force meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors at the Capital Hilton Hotel. Twenty mayors from across the nation attended. O'Malley said the department "had no answers again" when he asked two homeland security directors in attendance about the top three priorities of the department. The pair -- Office of Grants and Training Executive Director Tracy Henke and Coordination and Preparedness Acting Director Chet Lunner -- did not directly answer the question, but promised O'Malley they would work to get local governments appropriate resources. "It's the same assurances we receive every year," O'Malley said. "I believe if you...
  • BUSH APPOINTEE LOCATED....

    BUSH APPOINTEE LOCATED. Well, that was easy. Who was the idiot who had to sign off on the "traitorous" decision to defund anti-terrorism efforts in New York and Washington? Says The Washington Post : Tracy A. Henke, assistant secretary for grants and training, told reporters that the new funding distribution was the result of a better review process and does not indicate lesser risk for cities such as Washington or New York. Officials noted that Congress had cut the program by about $125 million in 2006, to $711 million, and that New York, Washington and other major cities still would receive the largest shares. "We have to understand that there is risk throughout the nation," Henke said. "We worked very hard to make sure that there was fairness in the process." Tracy A. Henke , assistant secretary for grants and training at Department of Homeland Security, was previously at the Department of Justice, where she was the deputy for Deborah Daniels , sister of former Office of Management...
  • OUR TWILIGHT ZONE...

    OUR TWILIGHT ZONE GOVERNMENT. Via Atrios , I see that ABC News is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security's explanation for cutting anti-terrorism funds to New York is that "New York has no national monuments or icons." Really? You can see the DHS form that asserts this here (PDF). Says ABC: That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006. The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation's most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History. The form ignored that New York City is the capital of the world financial markets and merely stated the city had four...
  • YOU'LL NEVER TAKE...

    YOU'LL NEVER TAKE OMAHA! Being a D.C. resident, this isn't the best news I've heard all day. As Garance and Ben have noted , the Department of Homeland Security has apparently decided that D.C. and New York are plenty safe -- and has chopped their grants by 40 percent. Meanwhile, terrorist targets such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; and Omaha, Nebraska, saw massive increases in their totals. Guess that explains where Dick Cheney 's "undisclosed locations" are... These sorts of allocations always puzzle me. Fulfilling the wish list of nuclear non-proliferation experts would require about $80 billion over ten years. We spend under a billion on DHS grants to make urban centers safer. We haven't outfitted our ports with WMD sensing doohickeys nor have we fully funded bioterror or chemical response technology. This isn't partisan stuff, and there's even a fair amount of cronyism and patronage that could go into the deployment of all these Geiger counters and nuclear...

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