Running down the press:
You’ll be deluged all day with stories about Ground Zero, where Barack Obama and John McCain will duke it out in the tragic death cage.
As the BBC notes with a straight face:
In a joint statement from the campaigns announcing their decision to visit Ground Zero together, the two men vowed to come together “as Americans” and suspend their political campaigns for 24 hours.
Yes, no politicking going on there.
Google News: ‘Lipstick politics: The big diversion’
In a hopeful sign for fans of artificial intelligence, the algorithms show a glimmer of irony this morning.
At one point, the above headline (from the Chicago Tribune‘s Swamp blog in D.C.) zoomed to the top of the page, the lede item of 2,233 lipstick/pig/Palin/Obama related items.
The irony? News orgs and everyone else hunger so much for a spot on the Google News page that they will think this story continues to be important and thus will stay diverted.
Meanwhile, on the seventh anniversary of 9/11, the Bush regime is now diverting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan — troops it never should have diverted in 2003 from Afghanistan to Iraq.
As for the Tribune story itself? Mark Silva‘s item is lame:
Like “lipstick on a pig,” the hot new debate of the presidential campaign has sparked one stunning distraction. And, as anyone knows, lipstick smears.
Me and everyone else used that pun yesterday.
CBS: ‘Poll: Most Say U.S. Prepared For Attacks’
The rest of this meaningless poll (which gets weight because news orgs give it weight) notes, in part:
Americans give some credit to the Bush administration for making the country safer. Fifty percent say the administration’s policies have improved the country’s safety, about the same rating as they have given the White House for the last two years. Twenty-one percent say the administration’s policies have made the country less safe, and 23 percent say they have had no effect.
President Bush’s approval rating is now at 29 percent, slightly above the low of 25 percent reached this past summer. His approval has not climbed above 30 percent since April 2007.
I guess this means that there won’t be a sudden push to abolish term limits (like the trend the Times spotted) for presidents. Talk about worries lessening: Bush is unlikely to ever again win the presidency.
McClatchy: ‘9/11 seven years later: U.S. ‘safe,’ South Asia in turmoil’
In one of the better 9/11 stories this morning, Jonathan S. Landay and Saeed Shah remind us that there’s a big ol’ planet outside the U.S. borders:
Taking their cue from Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen‘s assessment yesterday — “I am not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan” — they run with it:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Seven years after 9/11, al Qaida and its allies are gaining ground across the region where the plot was hatched, staging their most lethal attacks yet against NATO forces and posing a growing threat to the U.S.-backed governments in Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan.
While there have been no new strikes on the U.S. homeland, the Islamic insurrection inspired by Osama bin Laden has claimed thousands of casualties and displaced tens of thousands of people and shows no sign of slackening in the face of history’s most powerful military alliance.
The insurgency now stretches from Afghanistan’s border with Iran through the southern half of the country. The Taliban now are able to interdict three of the four major highways that connect Kabul, the capital, to the rest of the country.
Daily News: ‘Remember towering spirit in 9/11 aftermath’
Tendentious and predictable, courtesy of super-self-serious columnist Michael Daly:
The obligation to honor the murdered innocents neither begins nor ends with a quick visit to Ground Zero, whether you are Barack Obama, John McCain or anybody else.
The obligation has been with us from the day of the attack and for a brief time we lived up to it: remembering we were all in it together, no matter where we were born, no matter who we voted for, no matter what we did for a living or how much we earned.
Emma Lazarus he ain’t.
New York Review of Books: ‘The Battle for a Country’s Soul’
Forget about today’s coverage. On this 9/11, the best reflection — one with real meat — remains Jane Mayer‘s think piece in the NYRB‘s previous issue:
Seven years after al-Qaeda’s attacks on America, as the Bush administration slips into history, it is clear that what began on September 11, 2001, as a battle for America’s security became, and continues to be, a battle for the country’s soul.
In looking back, one of the most remarkable features of this struggle is that almost from the start, and at almost every turn along the way, the Bush administration was warned that whatever the short-term benefits of its extralegal approach to fighting terrorism, it would have tragically destructive long-term consequences both for the rule of law and America’s interests in the world.
These warnings came not just from political opponents, but also from experienced allies, including the British Intelligence Service, the experts in the traditionally conservative military and the FBI, and, perhaps most surprisingly, from a series of loyal Republican lawyers inside the administration itself.
The number of patriotic critics inside the administration and out who threw themselves into trying to head off what they saw as a terrible departure from America’s ideals, often at an enormous price to their own careers, is both humbling and reassuring.
One more passage from Mayer’s look back, which is every bit as patriotic and stirring as the feeble attempts by Daly and others — and without the schmaltz and jingoism:
Instead of heeding this well-intentioned dissent, however, the Bush administration invoked the fear flowing from the attacks on September 11 to institute a policy of deliberate cruelty that would have been unthinkable on September 10.
President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and a small handful of trusted advisers sought and obtained dubious legal opinions enabling them to circumvent American laws and traditions.
In the name of protecting national security, the executive branch sanctioned coerced confessions, extrajudicial detention, and other violations of individuals’ liberties that had been prohibited since the country’s founding. They turned the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel into a political instrument, which they used to expand their own executive power at the expense of long-standing checks and balances.
Times: ‘Pressure Builds as Lehman Faces Mounting Losses’
As it usually does, the paper of record takes the angle of the pressure on the suffering bank instead of the broader, more logical angle of the pressure of the bank’s looming collapse on the rest of the world’s economy. The Times lede:
The trouble at Lehman Brothers is rapidly becoming a race against time for the struggling Wall Street bank.
Lehman’s fortunes dwindled further on Wednesday as the firm, staggered by the biggest loss in its 158-year history, fought to regain confidence among investors.
You have to go overseas to get to the real news: what impact this collapse is having on the rest of the planet outside Lehman’s Seventh Avenue HQ. Try this one from the Financial Times in London: “Lehman survival strategy fails to lift markets.”
Daily News: ‘Biden blunder: Joe says maybe Hillary Clinton would make better VP’
Joe Biden is already giving us an example of how he just can’t keep his big yap shut — even when he’s responding to praise.
No one wants a veep who’s not confident in himself or herself, but Biden just couldn’t let a compliment pass.
“Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America – let’s get that straight,” Biden said testily after a voter said he was “very pleased” that Democratic nominee Barack Obama had chosen him instead of Clinton.
“She is qualified to be President of the United States of America, she’s easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America and, quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me,” the Delaware senator added forcefully. “I mean that sincerely, she is first- rate.”
OK, OK, we get the point: You’re trying to pander to women to counter the presence of a woman on the GOP ticket.
Shut the fuck up already with the “I’m not worthy” bit. How will you try to show, in this popularity contest, that Sarah Palin‘s not worthy if you say that about yourself? Suitors — successful ones — don’t act that way.
And notice that Biden even said it “testily” instead of graciously. The guy is more competent than he sounds, but you wouldn’t know it. Trouble is brewing for the Demo ticket, because it’s sound, not substance, that bites.
Post: ‘QNS. POL CAUGHT IN STING: FBI NABS “$500,000 GRAFT” ASSEMBLYMAN’
Good one from Fred Dicker and his colleagues:
In an unprecedented sting that brought an undercover FBI agent onto the state Capitol floor, a veteran Democratic assemblyman from Queens was busted yesterday for allegedly taking $500,000 in bribes, prosecutors announced.
Anthony Seminerio, 73, who has represented South Ozone Park since 1978 and often boasted he was “John Gotti’s assemblyman,” was charged with running a secret consulting firm through which he pocketed the cash in return for peddling influence in Albany.
An FBI agent going undercover on the Capitol floor. Send that man to Congress!