Saturday, July 16, 2005

Strong Evidence That Rove Will Be Vindicated: Frank Rich Says He Will Resign

I am of the opinion, now more than ever, that Karl Rove will skate out of this in great shape. Besides the increasingly obvious fact that Rove's story is holding up as more and more evidence is leaked (Tom Maguire calls it the incredible shrinking scandal), there are the incessant SCREAMING HEADLINES!!! at the Huffington Post that are really, when you read the stories, far more favorable to Rove than Arianna would ever let on, an obvious sign of desperation.

The most conclusive evidence, however, that Rove will come out smelling like a rose is the fact that Frank Rich says his resignation is inevitable. The notorious NY Times hack has this to say:
Seasoned audiences of presidential scandal know that there's only one certainty ahead: the timing of a Karl Rove resignation. As always in this genre, the knight takes the fall at exactly that moment when it's essential to protect the king.
This couldn't come at a more laughable time, as the truth is that the scandal is already losing steam, a fact obvious to all but Rich and the Kossacks (and thus, nearly certain).

Rich also shows his vast, vast knowledge of the scandal by telling us:
  • it's not about Rove;
  • it's not about Wilson;
  • it's not about Plame;
  • it's not about Niger;
  • it's not about Adlai Stevenson (just seeing if you're paying attention); and
  • it's not about Barney.
Instead, like all Frank Rich columns, it's about Rich's dislike of President Bush:
The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.
Look for future Rich columns on the following:
  • vegetables I don't like, and their connection to the Iraq quagmire;
  • this really bad haircut I got once, and why it proves the neocons are in control;
  • the real culprit behind Watergate - President Bush; and
  • global warming, Kyoto, and the diversion of resources, human and otherwise, from fighting terrorism.
Enjoy your Saturday night!...

UPDATE 07/17/05 10:07 a.m.: Many thanks to Dean Esmay, who celebrated his 39th birthday yesterday, for the link...happy belated birthday!...

Weekly Jackass Number Thirty-Five: Juan Cole

Juan Cole, if you are unfamiliar with his work, is a History Professor at the University of Michigan, and a blogger for many years at Informed Comment. His specialty is the Middle East, and he's a harsh critic of the Bush Administration's policy in that regard. Nothing wrong with any of that, including criticism of the Bush Administration. Of course, there's more to Cole than those few sentences convey.

Cole is not as bad as a Chomsky; for example, in a recent post, you'll find this sentence:
It is alarming that although Osama Bin Laden's popularity has fallen dramatically in most Muslim countries, according to a recent Pew poll, 51 percent of Pakistanis at least some of the time place some confidence in him to affect world affairs.
It's inconceivable that those words would ever issue from the pen of Noam. Cole's problems are of a different sort. Join me, please, as we journey into the fabulous world of Professor Juan Cole.
  • Cole, the hypocrite: In the heady, long-gone days of November, 2004, in the infancy of the very blog you are reading, Cole made a huge stink over a lawsuit against him by the excellent organization MEMRI, after he made a series of absurd allegations concerning its funding and connections. Certainly, Cole was right to be alarmed; anyone who isn't concerned when threatened with a lawsuit is living in fantasyland. Cole's indignation, though, would have been a lot more credible if he wasn't so quick to trot out the same tactic himself (don't sue me, Juan!), threatening legal action against Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes for the offense of (gasp!) linking to his work.

  • Cole, the self-inflated, paranoid, pompous wannabe spy: Cole seems to have a very active imagination, and frequently speaks of a world straight out of James Bond, with statements like this:
    It has come to my attention that your organization, Middle East Forum, is maintaining a Web site with "dossiers" on me. Further, that you have publically called upon others to monitor my speech and actions on a constant basis and to provide to your internet Web site reports on me, which you intend to post.
    and this:
    ...the wonderful folks over at Daily Kos, to whom I am most grateful for defending me, should please do up an oppo research diary on Martin Kramer. Who is he? Where did he come from? When he was head of the Dayan Center in Tel Aviv, to whom did he report in the Israeli intelligence community? Who funded his work on Hizbullah? Was he fired from heading the Dayan Center? How does he suddenly show back up in the US after a 20-year absence with a book that blames unpreparedness for 9/11 on US professors of Middle East Studies instead of on the Israeli Mossad and the US CIA/ FBI? What was his role in getting up the Iraq War and in advising the US on the wrong-headed policies that have gotten so many Americans killed? Who pays his salary, now, exactly? What are his links with AIPAC, and with the shadowy world of far-right Zionist think tanks and dummy organizations?
    being far too typical. Q: How many Juan Coles does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A: Just one...he holds the lightbulb and the universe revolves around him.

  • Cole, the world's worst pundit: Part of punditry, of course, is making predictions, and you would be hard pressed to find a pundit with a worse record in that regard than Cole. Here's Cole on the Iraqi elections:
    It seems highly likely that the Iraqi elections scheduled for January 2005 will be postponed for a good long time, allowing caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to consolidate his power.
    Wrong! Here's Cole on the will of the Lebanese people:
    Bush administration spokesmen keep talking about Syrian withdrawal being the demand of the "Lebanese people." But 40% of the Lebanese are Shiites, and 15% are probably Sunnis, and it may well be that a majority of Lebanese want to keep at least some Syrian troops around.
    Wrong again! I could do this all day, but here's one last bad call, on the subject of the London terror attacks:

    First, we still have no idea who did this. It is very likely the "Qaeda al-Jihad in Europe" group that claimed responsibility immediately. Their statement appeared very quickly after the bombings and yet had none of the appearance of being rushed. That suggests it was carefully composed before the fact. The rumors that the statement has errors in the Arabic or the Quran citation are absolutely incorrect ...

    The statement was probably not written by a second-generation Arab Briton or even by a long-term, integrated Arab Briton resident.

    So, if the statement is a guide to the identity of the attackers, this bombing could not have emanated from the British Muslim community.

    Wrong, wrong...WRONG!

  • Cole, the historical 'revisionist': The most damning indictment of Cole, though, and the real reason he is this week's Jackass, is his bad habit of playing fast and loose with the facts. Cole likes to try to cover up his tracks when he is wrong (admittedly, a full-time job), seeming to forget that when you post something on the Internet, people may actually read it and remember what you said. This habit came to light recently when Cole made the incredible assertion that 9/11 was partially a response to the non-existent 'massacre' at Jenin, an Israeli military operation that took place in April, 2002.

  • That's a huge error for a History Professor specializing in the Middle East, and it's quite revealing of Cole's mindset re: Israel. When Cole was caught in this outrageous error, he tried to cover it up by changing the post. When he got caught at that, he put up the following obviously false explanation:
I post late at night and sometimes am sleepy and make mistakes. My readers are my editors and correct me. If the corrections come the same morning, I make them directly to the text, as a "second edition." If the posting has been up a few days, I put a footnote when making a correction. That is, I consider the text correctable for the first day or so. That is my editorial policy. Like it or lump it. If someone wants to accuse me of occasionally making minor errors, then sure. I occasionally make minor errors. This is a one-person dog and pony show, with no fact checkers, editors or very much in the way of compensation. That is why I can say like it or lump it.
Of course, 99.99% of bloggers do it all themselves, and we all know that when you change something substantive, that is, something that affects the meaning of a previous post, you put in an update or correction, but you leave the original text as is. That's just the way the game is played. Correcting punctuation is one thing; erasing bad errors in an attempt to cover them up is another thing altogether. Dishonesty, I believe the word is.

Cole wasn't through yet; when his new 'editorial policy' was widely ridiculed, he deleted that, as well. If you go to his site now, this is what you see. No Jenin slip-up, no ludicrous excuses...just perfect ol' Juan Cole! Fortunately, there are people like the invaluable Martin Kramer to at least try to keep Cole honest.

It is this blatant bit of 'correcting the historical record', so inexcusable coming from a professional historian, that has earned Professor Cole the 35th Weekly Jackass award. Long may you bray...

UPDATE 8:58 p.m. central: For more on Cole's latest shennanigans, see this excellent post at Winds of Change...

UPDATE 2 10:18 p.m. central: On the other hand, if the professor thing doesn't work out for Juan, he could always get a job at the L.A. Times (hat tip to Michelle Malkin)...

UPDATE 3 07/17/05 10:59 a.m. central: Thanks also to AcademicElephant for the link...

UPDATE 4 07/18/05 8:42 p.m. central: And a big thank you to Jon Henke - if you're not checking out his site, you should be ...

Congrats to Betsy Newmark

I once got mentioned in the New York Times, but it was just that; a brief excerpt from my post on the meaning of Easongate. Betsy Newmark, however, of the excellent Betsy's Page, gets a whole feature in the Washington Post (well, almost...she shares the space with just one other blogger, a liberal named Ms. Whatsits or Belvedere or Whosit of some 'progressive' blog or another...I forget). Well done, indeed (hat tip to Michelle Malkin)...

A Belated Congratulations... longtime FOTB (Friend Of This Blog) Nettie, who, with a few compatriots, has scored an interview with one the half-dozen or so top bloggers around, Michelle Malkin. Way to go, I'm impressed! Nettie also runs her own blog in that inimitable Nettie style, so check out both of her ventures, you'll have fun...(oh, and Nettie, I especially liked your last question - a classy way to end the interview)...

Don't Blame Me...

...I don't know what's up, either. There's been all kinds of goofiness going on with Haloscan, including times when comments aren't available, the count is wrong, or even, as appears now, possibly some comments just disappearing (hopefully they will reappear when they get things worked out). Sorry...whenever I make the long-promised move to WordPress (a task that other bloggers handle in a couple of hours, but that takes me three months), of course, these issues will go away. Meanwhile, all I can say is bear with me...and thanks, as always, for hanging around...

Oh, Those Sassy Terrorists!

These kids today, with their rock'n'roll, long hair, beatnik poetry, and suicide bombings!

In one of the more morally cowardly and just plain despicable editorials I have yet to see, Dilpazier Aslam characterizes the London terror attacks as 'rocking the boat' by young Muslims tired of the 'silence' of their authority figures, and gives this attitude his explicit endorsement:
Some 2749 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. To discover the cost of "liberating" Iraqis you need to multiply that figure by eight, and still you will fall short of the estimated minimum of 22,787 civilian Iraqi casualties to date.

It's not cool to say this, now that London's skyline has also plumed grey. But second and third-generation Muslims are without the don't-rock-the-boat attitude that restricted our forefathers. We're much sassier with our opinions, not caring if the boat rocks or not. Which is why the young get angry with that breed of Muslim "community leader" who remains silent while anger is seething on the streets.

Earlier this year I attended a mosque in Leeds for Friday prayers. It was in the month of Ramadan, when Islamic fervour is at its most impassioned, yet in the sermon, to a crowd of hundreds - many of whom were from Iraq - Fallujah was not referred to once not even in the cupped-hands prayers after the sermon was over. This was deliberate silence, in case the boat rocked.

What's wrong with the above? Much easier to say what isn't...but to begin, any consideration of Iraqi casualties that doesn't take into account that it is Muslim extremists killing the Iraqi civilians, and not our soldiers, is by necessity wrong-headed. Also absurd is the raising of Fallujah as some sort of modern equivalent of Dresden; almost all Iraqi civilians who weren't implicit supporters of the 'insurgency' had fled Fallajuh before we attacked, an attack that was meant to protect Iraqi civilians from terrorists being harbored there.

The 'sassier' comment is the kicker, though; this ain't your daddy's Islamist extremism! How incredibly flip. The attitude is more understandable, though, when one learns of the background of Mr. Aslam:
Apparently, Mr. Aslam is, or was until very recently, a member of Hizb Ut Tahrir - an organisation which, according to the BBC, "promotes racism and anti-Semitic hatred, calls suicide bombers martyrs, and urges Muslims to kill Jewish people."
The more you learn about the current attitudes of Muslim extremists, the more you realize there is a cancer eating away at the Arab world, one that is even more primal than hatred of the United States; its name is anti-Semitism, and like all ideologies based on hate, it will destroy the hater sooner than the hated.

Why I Love America, Part 392: Our Soldiers

Jackson's Junction has the video of an astonishing example of American heroism, as a soldier who's just been shot in the chest captures his would-be assassin, and then...what? Stomps on his sorry butt? Spits on him? Curses at him? Nope, gives him medical, that's enough to get you up on your feet saluting Old Glory (hat tip to the Instapundit)...

UPDATE 10:26 p.m.: Thanks to the lovely Pamela, a.ka. Atlas, for linking back...

Et Tu, Tenet?

One reason the Plame/Rove story has legs is quite simple: everyone loves a good mystery (see Throat, Deep), particulary one that has multiple layers. That fits this story like a glove; the minute the 'Rove was Cooper's source' mystery was solved, new puzzles popped up:
  • Who was Novak's first source?
  • If Rove is truthful that he learned about Plame from journalists, which journalists?
  • And where did THOSE journalists learn about her?
  • What role does the 'State Department memo' play in all of this?
One aspect that few have picked up on yet is the story of Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, but Tom Maguire is on it, and he has a very intriguing, typically detail-rich post giving the case for George Tenet as the source for Pincus. Highly recommended...

It's All How You Frame It

Sam Rosenfield, writing at TAPPED, the blog of liberal magazine The American Prospect, bemoans, if not the judicial compromise itself, at least the way it has come to be viewed, using a segment of Hardball as a case in point:
Chris Matthews interviewed Senator Mike DeWine about the courageous Gang of 14 and their plans for the upcoming Supreme Court fight. The interview really illustrated the degree to which the Gang's nuclear option deal has successfully come to be framed in the last two months as an agreement that delegitimized filibusters rather than the nuclear option. This is a disaster from the standpoint of the Democrats (and a huge failure in post-deal spinning on the part of the seven Democratic Gangmembers)....

Not once during the entire interview was the subject of the nuclear option ever raised. But why should it have been? The Gang's original reason for forming -- the feeling that the nuclear option was such an unprecedented breach of procedure that an agreement simply had to be reached to avoid its detonation -- seems to have been forgotten by the Matthews set. The group is now seen as just a band of thoughtful moderates who found a way to stop all those terrible judicial filibusters.
I've yet to hear a convincing argument for even one negative consequence of fili-deal for the Republican side, but hardly a day goes by that I don't hear of several for the Democrats...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Even Mother Jones Says Zarqawi Is Real

For whatever reason, conspiracy theories go a long way in the Arab world. I'm not stereotyping; even a small amount of research (start with if you're curious) will easily verify that fact (of course, conspiracy theories go a long way with certain Americans, as well). One of the more popular theories at the moment is that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is some sort of made-up propaganda instrument, a Kaiser Soze used by the Bush Administration to rally support for the war.

Well, extreme left rag Mother Jones has a tale by Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who went on the hunt for Zarqawi because he harbored his own doubts. Although Jamail is extremely anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war, he found out: he's real, all right. Of course, he tries to have his cake and eat it, too, by still hanging on to the Zarqawi as propaganda tool meme:
...The only thing I feel I can say for sure is that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a real person. Whether or not he is alive and fighting in Iraq or not, or what acts he is actually responsible for there, is open to debate.
Well, that's true enough; it is, indeed, open to debate; but stipulating that he at least exists is a good place to start from...

My Pet Jawa, Mach III

No, it's not the rebirth of Spinal Tap, with their ever popular 'freeform jazz odyssey', but rather a sneak peak at Dr. Shackleford's new likes, me likes...

The Most Provocative Op-Ed of the Day...

...definitely belongs to Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme, a columnist from Cameroon. In a piece entitled "All Rock, No Action", Tonme says the principle behind Live8 is an insult to Africans:

We Africans know what the problem is, and no one else should speak in our name. Africa has men of letters and science, great thinkers and stifled geniuses who at the risk of torture rise up to declare the truth and demand liberty.

Don't insult Africa, this continent so rich yet so badly led. Instead, insult its leaders, who have ruined everything. Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn't hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.

Don't the organizers of the concerts realize that Africa lives under the oppression of rulers like Yoweri Museveni (who just eliminated term limits in Uganda so he can be president indefinitely) and Omar Bongo (who has become immensely rich in his three decades of running Gabon)? Don't they know what is happening in Cameroon, Chad, Togo and the Central African Republic? Don't they understand that fighting poverty is fruitless if dictatorships remain in place?

Even more puzzling is why Youssou N'Dour and other Africans participated in this charade. Like us, they can't help but know that Africa's real problem is the lack of freedom of expression, the usurpation of power, the brutal oppression.

Neither debt relief nor huge amounts of food aid nor an invasion of experts will change anything. Those will merely prop up the continent's dictators. It's up to each nation to liberate itself and to help itself. When there is a problem in the United States, in Britain, in France, the citizens vote to change their leaders. And those times when it wasn't possible to freely vote to change those leaders, the people revolted.

In Africa, our leaders have led us into misery, and we need to rid ourselves of these cancers. We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

Well worth the time...

Is the Palestinian Authority Making A Good Faith Effort?

That's the question I have (I don't pretend to know the answer) as I read this story about Palestinian police clashing with Hamas militants. In and of itself, that's a hopeful development, but the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is notorious for shooting down dreams of peace. In this case, the bad news is that Mahmoud Abbas is unwilling to condemn Islamic Jihad or Hamas specifically. The easiest conclusion to draw is that Abbas cannot survive politically without at least the tacit support of these organizations, but is that the correct conclusion?

After all, many assured us that Lebanon would fall into civil war without Hezbollah and its proxy-for-Syria stranglehold that brought 'stability'. I predict that Abbas will not survive if he continues to play hot-and-cold; he has to pick one side or the other. We've already seen where the militant side leads; if Abbas wants to go down in history as the leader who secured the Palestinian state, he needs to move beyond the generic and take these two groups on...and if he does, he needs to know he will have our support.

Investigation Leaking So Much It May Just Sink

After the pro-Rove leak in yesterday's NY Times (that the Times hilariously tried to spin as bad news for Rove) comes yet another leak, apparently from the Wilson camp or the prosecutors, that, as I predicted (though I admittedly was far from the first), appears to suggest Ari Fleischer may have been the mysterious first source:
The special prosecutor probing the outing of a CIA spy is looking beyond who leaked Valerie Plame's identity, seeking whether White House aides tried to cover their tracks after her name went public, sources told the Daily News.

Along with Bush political guru Karl Rove, the grand jury is investigating what role, if any, ex-White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer may have played in the revelation that the former covert operative Plame was married to former Ambassador Joe Wilson.

"Ari's name keeps popping up," said one source familiar with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's probe.

Another source close to the probe added there is renewed interest in Fleischer, "based on Fitzgerald's questions."

A State Department memo that included background on Wilson - and who in the White House had access to it - appears to be a key to revealing who gave conservative columnist Robert Novak Plame's name, both sources said.

Another person of interest in the case is Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Lewis (Scooter) Libby, who was described as "totally obsessed with Wilson," the sources said.

Wilson traveled to Africa at the CIA's behest to assess Bush administration suspicions - later debunked - that deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein tried to buy nuclear weapons-grade uranium from Niger. The outing of his wife was payback for his later criticism of Iraq policy, Wilson asserts.

A grinning Bush, meanwhile, tried to show support for Rove by walking with him yesterday at the White House while TV cameras rolled.

At this point, this whole thing is degenerating quickly into a circus...Fitzgerald might want to think about clamping down on the leaks (meanwhile, Bush and McClellan look smarter by the day for wisely staying mum for the moment)...

Quick Shots: More Rove - And Something Else, Too!

Jon Henke has a post up on the Rove affair called 'The Death of a Crime'. Says Henke:
The only remaining questions are 1) who was the first journalist to tell Rove about Wilson's wife, and 2) who told that first journalist? (cue Judith Miller and somebody from the CIA, perhaps?)
As I mentioned below, one intriguing possible answer to number 2 is Joe Wilson, to David Corn...

Meanwhile, if you're totally Roved out, take a break with the great Christopher Hitchens and his review of Bob Woodward's The Secret Man...

Who Leaked to Rove? Judith Miller or...David Corn??!!

Mickey Kaus has his response to the latest Rove revelations, and speculates on a possibility I haven't discussed yet; that Judith Miller might, in fact, be the journalist who told Rove about the Plame connection...Kaus says that possibility has many in the MSM worried, and the Instapundit says this does lend a little support to the 'Rove rope-a-dope' theory. Meanwhile, in the 'so delicious I worry it can't be true' category, Clifford May suggests Joe Wilson leaked like a sieve to David Corn, who then blew the whole thing open in an article in The Nation - oh, please let it be true! (though I doubt it is - not that Wilson leaked to Corn, I can definitely buy that - but rather, I doubt that this interpretation will get much traction - though his logic appears sound at first glance)...

Friedman Is Again On Target

While the Left bows and scrapes and prostrate themselves before the great Krugman and his latest anti-Bush screed, Thomas Friedman has slipped in another good Op-Ed on the motivations of Sunni Muslim suicide bombers. His conclusion:

Part of what seems to be going on with these young Muslim males is that they are, on the one hand, tempted by Western society, and ashamed of being tempted. On the other hand, they are humiliated by Western society because while Sunni Islamic civilization is supposed to be superior, its decision to ban the reform and reinterpretation of Islam since the 12th century has choked the spirit of innovation out of Muslim lands, and left the Islamic world less powerful, less economically developed, less technically advanced than God 2.0, 1.0 and 0.0.

"Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a civilization they consider morally inferior, and they are humiliated by the fact that, while having been taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations seem to be doing much better," said Raymond Stock, the Cairo-based biographer and translator of Naguib Mahfouz. "When the inner conflict becomes too great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick prestige of 'martyrdom' by fighting the allegedly unjust occupation of Muslim lands and the 'decadence' in our own."

This is not about the poverty of money. This is about the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger.

Many would have us believe suicide bombers fall prey to extremism because of material poverty and a lack of options. I've never bought that; Friedman presents a much more plausible alternative. Highly recommended...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

NY Times Blockbuster: Rove Spoke On Phone With Novak, Confirmed Details

Well, I gotta hand it to the Times, this is a pretty huge scoop...Drudge is giving it the siren...the burning question now is, if Karl confirmed what Novak already knew, and Novak says two senior administration officials told him Joe Wilson's wife had suggested him for the Niger trip, then who was leaker number one? Ari Fleischer, anyone?...

UPDATE 10:38 p.m. central: Well, after mulling it over for ten minutes, here are my thoughts:
  • This leak is helpful to Rove; he didn't call Novak, Novak called him, and he didn't volunteer the information, he just told Novak he had heard that, too;
  • Rove will not be indicted;
  • Judith Miller is protecting whoever is behind door number one.
In light of the above, I hereby quit waffling (though I can't resist one caveat): if the currently available information is the worst of it, Rove will survive (and should not resign, unless specifically asked to by the President)...

AJStrata has much the same reaction as I did...

UPDATE 07/15/05 6:43 a.m. central: Tom Maguire, who owns this story, has his latest analysis up; Tom says there are an awful lot of media figures who have a lot of explaining to do, and groans as Karl Rove trots out the 'I forgot' line on the subject of what reporter first told him about Plame...also, Paul Krugman has an article up on 'Karl Rove's America', in case you've run out of toilet paper, and Atrios pretends he just doesn't understand - could it be because the article is largely favorable to Rove?...Just asking...

Quick Shots: Kyoto No! Gingrich Si!

The redoubtable Tim Blair has one of those Kyoto comparisons I find so interesting. Ever wonder where those Kyoto 'fines' would go? Tim has the answer:
Most of that cash, by the way, would be sent to Russia, who you might remember from such environmental successes as Chernobyl.
The good Dr. Shackleford has the latest on the London bombers, including the involvement of a Professor and a Jamaican national...

Resistance is futile! (If Newt runs on an immigration and border control platform, that is)...

Here's more on Rehnquist...Erick, I anxiously await your analysis! Is it curtains for Gonzales? So long, Garza? Enquiring minds want to know...

Hot Breaking News: Rehnquist Says No Plans To Step Down

No link yet...says he plans to serve as long as his health allows...more later...

Decision '08 on CNN: The Trifecta

I'm quite honored and tickled pink to be featured for the third time on CNN's Inside the Blogs, featuring the lovely, dynamic, and talented duo of Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner...many thanks for the mention, and come back any time, we're a friendly bunch around these parts...

Thanks to Christopher Battles for the heads up, and keep on eye on his blog...he's a young man studying political science, business, and economics, so I like him already...just like the son I've never of luck, Christopher...

The NY Times: Gang of 14 Has Superhuman Powers

This NY Times piece on the Gang of 14 is just about enough to make me lose my lunch:
...Now that Mr. Bush is consulting with leading senators on a Supreme Court vacancy, the so-called Gang of 14 is patting itself on the back.

"The word 'advice' was buried in history," declared Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, a chief architect of the deal, referring to the Constitutional mandate that the Senate advise and consent on presidential nominees. "Now we've resurrected it. I'm extremely satisfied."...

...If the gang sticks together, it could become a powerful force - so powerful that some of its members, including Mr. Warner, have insisted that the group steer clear of issues beyond the judiciary, for fear of becoming a kind of shadow leadership.
Oh, please...I was, quite forcefully, one of the relatively small number of conservatives who applauded the judicial deal (I even formed a Coalition over it), but Warner and Sheryl Stolberg, who wrote the Times piece, need to get a grip. It was a legislative compromise, not the Manhattan Project.

Only Lindsey Graham of South Carolina seems to have retained his perspective:
"Time will tell," said Mr. Graham, adding that he does not believe that the gang holds any special power. "If the Senate wants to come together, the Senate will come together. Fourteen people are not going to make that happen."
Graham also provide a fitting coda for those of us who did support the deal:
"I think the agreement was good for the country, good for both parties, good for the Senate, good for the president, good for the judiciary," he said, "and over time it will be seen as a good thing."
Agreed, and kudos to Graham for putting things in perspective; it's the grandiose egos on display in comments like Warner's that remind us all of why Senators are held in such low esteem...

UPDATE 7:35 p.m. central: Many thanks to Erick-Woods Erickson for a way-too-generous but greatly appreciated recommendation; if you're not checking out Erick's work regularly, you're not on top of the Supreme Court news...

UPDATE 10:08 a.m. central: Thanks also to DJ Drumond at PoliPundit for linking; much appreciated...

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Pity the poor BBC, so an attempt to avoid inflaming jihadist sensibilities, the BBC, following the lead of Reuters, is taking pains to avoid using the word 'terrorist' to describe those who are, well, terrorists (hat tip to the Instapundit).

I can understand their concern. After all, you never know who you might inadvertently offend. That's why, to avoid controversy, I will henceforth avoid using the word 'journalist' when speaking of BBC employees.

Joe Wilson Can't Quit When He's Ahead

Things like this are gonna get me back on Rove's side pretty quickly. Wilson is hardly a disinterested observer, after all, and as the always alert Tom Maguire has been saying from day one (and he's now converted Mickey Kaus), the environment in which Rove leaked (illegal or not) was a heavily politicized one (UPDATE 11:45 a.m. central: to be more specific, the line Maguire has taken is that to understand the whole affair, you have to understand the friction between the CIA and the White House that provided the backdrop). Wilson has not been playing fair for a long time now, regardless of how you feel about Rove. It's times like this that are almost enough to scare me away from politics...

UPDATE 11:32 a.m. central: To get some idea of why Wilson would be best served to hang in the background, consider this absolutely essential list of the inaccuracies and falsehoods he was peddling that provide the most convincing reason for Rove's statements to the reporters regarding Wilson's less-than-pure motivations. Truly a must-read (hat tip to AJ Strata)...

UPDATE 2:05 p.m. central: For a different perspective, I refer you to Day Two of Timothy Noah's Rove Death Watch. I find Maguire more convincing, but you be the judge. Noah does include this damning tidbit:
I hold no brief for Joe Wilson. This column has criticized him and his wife for cozying up to the glitterati, even at the expense of allowing Valerie Plame to be photographed without any disguise at the TriBeCa film festival. (Wilson had previously claimed that even after she was outed, Plame couldn't be photographed without a disguise because she needed to be protected from "some wacko in the street." The couple's subsequent decision to position Plame's face before the paparazzi suggests that their previous stance was pure theater.) Furthermore, although Wilson found no evidence that Iraq had purchased yellowcake from Niger, I believe that Wilson ought to have been more forthright about finding evidence that Iraq had indeed made some overtures toward purchasing yellowcake, though not in a way that the Senate intelligence committee deemed terribly significant.
Well, despite the obligatory disclaimer at the end, doesn't that, in fact, make Wilson a liar? And is that not, in fact, what Rove was warning Cooper about?...

The Back Story On North Korea's Return to the Table

Fred Kaplan has a good piece up at Slate on the resumption of the six-party talks with North Korea; Kaplan basically plays it as a face-saving compromise, with an obstinate Bush Administration (featuring John Bolton as a special guest star) giving way on two key points to get the talks moving again. What was the difference? Condi, it appears. Though Powell had also favored getting the talks moving again, he never had the President's ear the way Condi does, as is well known by now. Worth a look...

Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong Again

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post does his usual sniveling best to demoralize everyone in sight with yet another tired anti-war screed. Why do these guys make the big bucks, I have to wonder sometimes...

Here's Cohen:
Washington is electrified with the abundant energy of buzz from a scandal -speculation about Rove, about Bush, about Cheney's aide, Scooter Libby. Who leaked? Who may have lied? How did Novak slip the noose? But the real scandal is the ongoing mess in Iraq, the murder just the other day of innocent children (is there any other kind?) and the false notion that, somehow, taking out Hussein would make us all safer. London gives the lie to that.
London gives the lie to that? Exactly how does that follow? That some young idots in Leeds gave their lives to kill the infidel, that's the proof? Pure would be just as well to say a cloudy day is proof that there is no sun.

Cohen does make a good point about Rove/Plame:
The law prohibiting the outing of a CIA agent is so restrictive that it has been applied only once and does not seem to fit this case. I find it hard to believe that Rove or anyone at the White House specifically intended to blow the cover of a CIA agent. Rove is a political opportunist, not a traitor.

Well said...

Meanwhile, Molly Ivins has truly knocked me for a loop; the cornpone hack has been big enough to come out and say she made a whopper of a mistake:
In a column written June 28, I asserted that more Iraqis (civilians) had now been killed in this war than had been killed by Saddam Hussein over his 24-year rule. WRONG. Really, really wrong...There have been estimates as high as 1 million civilians killed by Saddam, though most agree on the 300,000 to 400,000 range, making my comparison to 20,000 civilian dead in this war pathetically wrong. I was certainly under no illusions regarding Saddam Hussein, whom I have opposed through human rights work for decades. My sincere apologies. It is unforgivable of me not have checked. I am so sorry.
Nicely done, Molly...will wonders ever cease? And Richard, keep those hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis killed by the Butcher of Baghdad in mind the next time you tell me what a mistake it was to invade Iraq...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Latest SCOTUS Scuttlebutt

I meant to link to this much earlier, but Erick-Woods Erickson has the latest rumors going around the mill on the SCOTUS front. I particularly like this part:
Senator Reid has, in private, conceded that the Democrats are going to lose this fight, but they intend to (A) fight like hell to save face with their base and (B) work out the best possible solution with the White House on who the nominee will be. In other words, the Dems want to make sure the conservative who is appointed is reasonable, but they intend to also clean the floor with him to show the base they aren't kids getting spanked by the Republicans, though that is what is happening.
Ahem...anyone up for chillin'?...

What Do You Get When You Cross A Viking With A Pundit?

A damn good blogger, that's what. Eric at Viking Pundit has been on a roll lately...first up, his call for, oh, some guy that's been in the news lately to resign; and unlike chicken me, after me made the call, he stuck with it. My favorite recent post of his, though, is this look at the ever-naval-gazing Democrats and their latest 'strategy':
This is how far the Democrats have fallen: they have to choose between having no convictions or hiding them from an uncomprehending electorate. And Matt Bai thinks this is good news!

Quick Shots: Same Ol' Song And Dance

In a typically excellent post, Jeff at the Bernoulli Effect looks at two parties, two calls to refine the party message...and therein discovers why one of the parties is the dominant one come election time...

Note to AJStrata...resignation not accepted! The Coalition needs you, dammit!...

In the battle of iTunes vs. Napster, Punditish has a winner (in truth in advertising)...

Captain Ed looks at the still-declining deficits and higher tax receipts and concludes: yep, the Laffer Curve's alive and well...

Bush Speaks on Rove! Well, Kinda...

I'm sure you've heard by now, but Bush did have a few words about the Rove / Plame story today, and some are reading something into his lack of a ringing endorsement:

"This is a serious investigation," Bush said at the end of a meeting with his Cabinet, with Rove sitting just behind him. "I will be more than happy to comment on this matter once this investigation is complete.

"I also will not prejudge the investigation based on media reports," he said, when asked whether Rove acted improperly in discussing CIA officer Valerie Plame with a reporter.

Man, where are the people with the inside scoop, like Robert Nov - oh, wait...I guess Novak would want to sit this one out, eh?...

I'm Outraged! (Really, I Am)...

It's somewhat of a cliche for bloggers both left and right to get all in a tizzy over everything under the sun, but, care of Michelle Malkin, here's a story that really does get the blood boiling...take a look at the items the NEA felt a need to debate and approve at their latest convention (and read them all, it's quite enlightening). The teachers' union is, and I'll state this as plainly as I can, the second biggest obstacle to quality education in the United States (the first is apathetic parents). Here's my personal favorite:

New Business Item 32

Move that NEA, utilizing existing policy, study the feasibility of initiating a boycott of Gallo wine.


Absolutely, breathtakingly idiotic...

John Kerry Needs Your Help!

John Kerry is asking for your help! What could it be that gets JFK II so hot and bothered that he would send an open letter to President Bush? Is it the long-rumored strategy to bail out Social Security? A 'plan' for solving the North Korean impasse? A sudden flash of insight that might solve the Palestinian-Israeli crisis?

Nah, he just wants to fire Karl utterly, totally predictable that the only thing that would motivate this notoriously lethargic Senator to action is a chance to score cheap political points...The contents of the letter are reproduced below (hat tip to Tim Blair):

An Open Letter to President Bush

Mr. President, despite carefully worded denials, it is now apparent that your most senior advisor discussed the identity of an undercover CIA agent with a reporter. His clear aim was to discredit that agent's husband who had dared to challenge the administration in the buildup to the war. You cannot remain silent. Fire Karl Rove.

Dear President Bush,

Karl Rove, your most senior advisor, is embroiled in another controversy - this time for leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent. Despite carefully worded denials, it is now apparent that Karl Rove discussed the identity of an undercover CIA agent with a reporter. His clear aim was to discredit that agent's husband who had dared to challenge the administration in the buildup to the war.

You have a choice to make: Spend the months ahead focused on protecting Karl Rove's job security or spend them focused on protecting America's national security. You cannot remain silent.

All I'm asking is that you remain true to your word. When the scandal first broke, your spokesman, Scott McClellan, said "If anyone in this Administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this Administration." (9/29/03, White House press briefing). What you do now, in light of Karl Rove's involvement will speak volumes.

Decency - and the interests of the American people - demand an end to Karl Rove's days in the White House. You have the choice to either make good on your promise to hold accountable those who shared the identity of a secret soldier in the war on terror - or prove that promise hollow. I call on you to keep your promise to the American people and fire Karl Rove.


Your name here

Hillary Can Win the Presidency

That's not me talking, that's Carl Cannon, the son of Reagan biographer Lou Cannon, who begins his argument by pointing out that people thought Reagan couldn't win, too. Regardless of your view of Clinton, Cannon certainly makes a convincing case that she can win the primary, but he doesn't convince me on the general election. Here's his pitch (and notice the kicker):

The fact is, there are a thousand movable parts in a presidential campaign, but the two most indispensable are (1) a candidate with charisma, money, and a broad following in his or her party; and (2) a ticket that espouses values and policies that Middle Americans agree with. A candidate, the polls now suggest, like Hillary Clinton.

Or John McCain.

Leaving aside McCain for the minute, is Hillary's primary victory set in stone? Cannon seems to think so:
Of course, the question is not whether she can win the primary. Most Democrats concede the primary is probably hers for the taking. "I don't know how you beat her for the Democratic nomination," former Sen. Bob Kerrey told New York magazine. "She's a rock star." But that, as the cognoscenti see it, is the problem. She can't lose the primary, and she can't win the general election. And so they look vainly for an alternative - Warner? Biden? Bayh? Oh my! - always circling back to the same despairing fear of another four years in the political wilderness. Democrats have raised this kind of defeatism to a high art. But it's time for Democrats to snap out of it and take a fresh look at the hand they've been dealt. Hillary Rodham Clinton can win the general election no matter who the Republicans throw at her. The Democrats just might be holding aces.
That's rather overstating it, I think (though Cannon is right about the defeatism of the Democrats - it's apparent in almost every arena). Hillary is a 'rock star' only among the Democrats...for a huge chunk of the country, she's evil incarnate. You could also say that about Bush...but Bush has won two national elections. Hillary starts from a smaller base; and she can't just hold Democrats, she has to win Independents...

Could Hillary win? In a word, yes...but I still think she won't...

Rosett On Saddam - al Qaeda

The great Claudia Rosett has a piece of recommended morning reading: an argument that the ties between Saddam and al Qaeda were real and plentiful (a sentiment Christopher Hitchens would no doubt agree with). Here's the key passage:
If anything, Mr. Bush in recent times has not stressed Saddam's ties to al Qaeda nearly enough. More than ever, as we now discuss the bombings in London, or, to name a few others, Madrid, Casablanca, Bali, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, or the many bombings in Israel--as well as the attacks on the World Trade Center in both 1993 and 2001--it is important to understand that terrorist connections can be real, and lethal, and portend yet more murder, even when they are shadowy, shifting and complex. And it is vital to send the message to regimes in such places as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran that in matters of terrorist ties, the Free World is not interested in epistemological debates over what constitutes a connection. We are not engaged in a court case, or a classroom debate. We are fighting a war.

It's Rove Time Again

Tom Maguire comes roaring out of the gate with three excellent posts on the Plame affair...they're all great analysis, on different points, so just go to his page and keep on scrolling...

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal comes firing back at the salivating Rove critics with an editorial that temporarily lifts my spirits again:
If there's any scandal at all here, it is that this entire episode has been allowed to waste so much government time and media attention, not to mention inspire a "special counsel" probe. The Bush Administration is also guilty on this count, since it went along with the appointment of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in an election year in order to punt the issue down the road. But now Mr. Fitzgerald has become an unguided missile, holding reporters in contempt for not disclosing their sources even as it becomes clearer all the time that no underlying crime was at issue.

As for the press corps, rather than calling for Mr. Rove to be fired, they ought to be grateful to him for telling the truth.
Maybe we can ride this one out after all...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How Much Is A Life Worth?

I've posted before, in the aftermath of the London bombings, on a certain callousness of spirit that afflicts many (certainly not all) Muslims when it comes to the death of Westerners. No doubt many Muslims feel we show the same antipathy towards dead Iraqis. It shouldn't matter, in the grand scheme of things, who dies senselessly, what race, what religion...every premature death is a tragedy for someone's family.

These are the thoughts in my brain as I read this account of a snickering car full of young Muslims in the Leeds area where the bombers apparently lived. Again, you don't want to read too much into it, and you certainly don't want to damn an entire culture because of a few knuckleheads...but compare this reaction, snickering in the face of terrorism in your own backyard, to the universal outrage that greeted the (alleged) mishandling of a book a world away.

We're often told we have to win the hearts and minds of the Muslims if we are to make any headway in Iraq or the Middle East; doesn't the pendulum swing both ways? If you want me to respect your religion and your culture, isn't a good first step to share my outrage at a suicide bombing - in London, in Baghdad, yes, in Jerusalem? The U.S. cannot win the hearts and minds of the Arab world without the help of moderate voices who join us in condemning outrages, wherever and to whomever they occur. There is a grand opportunity in Iraq for a sovereign, democratic, moderate, secular government to usher in a new era in the relations between the Middle East and the West - and that's yet other reason we simply cannot fail (hat tip to that wise political junkie Erick-Woods Erickson for bringing this to my attention)...

Mariah Carey's Wardrobe Malfunction on German Television..., as longtime readers know, not the sort of thing we talk about here at Decision '08. No, we are far too sophisticated for cheap publicity stunts designed to draw in unsuspecting Google searchers and really hack them off because there aren't any pictures here (UPDATE 07/16/05 - I didn't realize how many thousands of you would actually come here looking for the pics - just so you don't go away empty-handed, here's a site with the pics AND the video). Instead we talk about important things like Deepak Chopra- DEEPAK CHOPRA? Folks, here's a tip: if you own a book by this man, quit reading this now, run and get the book! Burn it, for God's sake, burn it!

Here's Chopra at Huff'n'Puff:

I am on my way to the airport in Washington DC taking a flight to Chile. I picked up the latest Scientific American and there is an interesting article in it entitled, "The Quest of Christof Koch". The article claims that Christof Koch, one of the world's leading neuroscientists, at the California Institute of Technology, believes that consciousness is distinctly physical. According to Dr. Koch, consciousness can be described by existing neurological theories and he's on the way to figuring it out. Koch is a long time collaborator of the late Francis Crick, who with James D. Watson won the Nobel Prize for discovering the double helix structure of DNA. As I was reading the article, I wondered why no one would see the obvious, that both Christof Koch and his consciousness and the consciousness that he is seeking to understand are simultaneous interdependently co-arising activities of the total universe. Consciousness is observing itself!

When we say, "a physical basis for consciousness" we are forgetting that everything physical is at the most fundamental quantum mechanical level really non-physical.

Love to hear your thoughts,


Dear Deepak:

Thank you for soliciting my thoughts are that you are a bonafide mental patient. That new-agey crap might sell a lot of books, but it is entirely contentless. '...Everything physical is at the most fundamental quantum mechanical level really non-physical' may, in fact, be the stupidest thing uttered on Huff'n'Puff to date, and God knows there have been a lot of stupid things uttered there.

In conclusion, please move somewhere far, far away and never show your face in public again.



Quick Shots: That's One Unpleasant Wife You Have There, Larry...

Thank God someone took on insufferable environmentalist Laurie David...when someone talks about a limousine liberal, this is what they mean...

I'm sure you've heard about the cool website We're Not Afraid by now (if not, you can bounce there from AJ's place)...well, the New York Times is in a twit because the people who aren't afraid appear to have money...I'm not joking...see here and here...

Ryan James has some good background and commentary on the Democratic 'counter-candidates' offered for the SCOTUS gig...

jp at Americans for Freedom
has some thoughts and analysis on the London terror attacks...

The Hotline's Blogometer, from National Journal, is open for business...check it out, it's pretty cool...

I Think We Can All Agree On This Much...

...Oliver Stone is a drug-addled, insane lunatic who has NO business handling studio cash, much less making a film about 9/11. Mickey Kaus has done us all a big favor and dug out of the archives Stone's maniacal, paranoid ravings one month after the attacks. Special bonus: Hitchens trying, unsuccessfully, to bring Stone down to earth...

...For further adventures of the lunatic variety, don't miss the idiot utterances of one Julianne Malveaux...

Some Good News on The FEC Front...

...and a rare point of agreement with the Kos: via Instapundit, we learn that the FEC has - almost - decided against regulating blogs and is mainly weighing what sort of protection from government oversight to provide bloggers with (i.e., whether to provide the media exemption).

That's all well and good, but until something's set in stone, I welcome you again to my online-only magazine!...

Rove (Again?) - Bear With Me...

All right, I got the message...many people think I'm off my rocker in regards to Rove. Keep in mind, I haven't called for his resignation, I've just moved in that direction. Unless there are new developments, or some exceptional piece of analysis, I'm letting it go for now, in the hopes that we can weather this storm. I take note one more time that it's a storm we didn't need, and it's of Rove's own making, but so be it...of all possible worlds, we live in this one. Besides, as the Commissar notes here, Rove's relationship with Bush is such that loyalty probably outweighs anything revealed up to now. Of course, if there's an indictment, all bets are off.

Still, I don't want to feed into a frenzy that is counterproductive to my desire for less distractions as we face our important tasks (like that little thing called the Iraq War). So, for now, I'll stop short of the resignation call, and lay off a bit...oh, and thanks for all the feedback!...

P.S. I haven't disabled the comments, but Haloscan is acting you can't post 'em and I can't answer 'em at the moment...

UPDATE 1:44 p.m. central: Looks like you can read the comments again, but still can't post...that's still Haloscan, not me...never mind, we're back!...

Breaking News: Arrests Made in London Terror Manhunt

No details as of yet...will update later...

UPDATE: Still no real news, apparently the arrests were related to these raids...

Meanwhile, here's a really thorough, excellent, yet disturbing post by our old friend Minh-Duc on how the bombings may have been carried out (and congrats on the Belmont Club mention!)...

UPDATE 10:43 a.m. central: Sky TV reporting that all four bombers died in the blasts (no link, breaking)...

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. central: No one else is picking up that Sky TV story; everyone else is saying 1 bomber died in blasts...meanwhile, a suicide bomber has killed at least three at an Israeli mall...jeez, what a world...

UPDATE 11:51 a.m. central: Well, I'm gonna quit updating for now, it's still too fluid...but the NY Times is the first major outlet I've seen to pick up the 4 bombers dead story...

Take Your Clueless Buddies To The Carnival...'s what I do. Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House has the fifth installment of Carnival of the Clueless what are you waiting for?...

Dr. Shackleford: Fire Rove

Our good friend Rusty Shackleford goes one step further than I have been willing to thus far and calls for Rove's ouster. As I said below, I'm not there yet, but I'm getting close. I agree with a lot of the points the good doctor makes; highly recommended...

A Trio of Must-Reads From the Masterful Hitchens

Christopher has had a busy pen of late, and we're the better for it. First up is a discussion of Jefferson and the exporting of Democracy from the WSJ; then they're is the widely quoted Daily Mirror piece with its soon-to-be-classic enumeration of jihadist grievances:
We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

Finally, don't miss Hitchens in high moral dudgeon on the subject of the Bosnian atrocity of a decade ago:

Those of us who have supported the rescue of both countries have had to put up with a great deal of slander lately. We have been accused of being thoughtless war-mongers, sinister neoconservative cabalists, slaves to Halliburton, agents of Zionism, enemies of innocent Muslims, laptop bombardiers, armchair warriors, and much else besides. I generally find that these loud insults conceal a surreptitious note of queasy unease.

We were right about Bosnia.The European Union utterly failed Bosnia, which was in its very own "back yard." So did the United Nations. So did the Clinton-Gore administration, for as long as it regarded Milosevic as "containable" by the use of sanctions. Bosnia did not cease to be a killing field, and Serbia did not cease to be an aggressive dictatorship until the United States armed forces took a hand.

Is there any doubt he is correct?...

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Quick Congrats... that pugnacious pontificator Patterico on his 1 millionth visitor...nicely done...even if you're not chillin', Patterico, at least have a chilled one on me...

An Update On That Press Conference

David Corn (curse you, Corn! How do you keep getting me to link to you?) has a good post up on that White House Press Briefing referred to below (apparently, he was a do you like that?) that names names as far as who some of the questioners were; of course, Corn was none-too-pleased at the stonewalling...and let's face it, stonewalling it was, and I said as much myself.

I'll state a few things in plain English: the behavior of the press was disgusting. McClellan was clearly evading their questions (and of course, he was instructed to; that's the way his job works). The reporters had a good point about McClellan's prior statements, though they beat it into the ground.

I've said on more than one occasion that Rove is becoming a distraction, and if he becomes too much of one, he should go. Well, he was a distraction today...a big-time, colossal, major pain-in-the-a** distraction. I'm not quite ready to call for his resignation; it's still a little early...but I'm starting to lean that way. Could anything make me lean back? I think it's time for Rove to issue a statement to the press, telling all he can tell, as well as he can tell it, or this thing is going to get out of hand, quickly...

UPDATE 11:12 p.m. central: The latest from the great Tom Maguire features the grudge match of Corn vs. Corn, followed by the main event of Corn vs. Wilson...and the winner is...well, go see for yourself...suffice to say, Maguire is taking it better than me. Best line: ...Evidently, Karl Rove has lost the backing of top Democrats...

Miscellanea: Odds and Ends Edition

AJ Strata points to this poll and tells us he's so chillin' he's Mr. Freeze...

A long-time reader who shall remain anonymous (oh, what the hell, it's Andy!) emailed with two good items today, and one link reference. The link first: Dafydd at Captain's Quarters says no Hillary in 2008, no way, no how...the gist of his argument is the senatorial curse, to which he adds:
Her nomination would be catastrophic for the party, as it would galvanize Republican voters against her like nothing before, eclipsing even 2004 -- and especially Republican women, who Hillary has scorned and dissed from Day-1. This at a time when the only way the Democrats can hope to win the presidency is if Republican voters are apathetic and fail to turn out; for Ken Mehlman has already proven that when both sides turn out heavy, the Republican wins.
Good points all; but she's got the Clintonistas behind her, so don't rule her out yet...

Speaking of Hillary, Andy has some good thoughts on Hillary's snarkfest at the Aspen Ideas Institute. First, Hillary:
Clinton did not mention the presidential election of 2008, but she did make several critical, even derogatory, remarks directed at President Bush.

"I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Newman is in charge in Washington," she joked, getting a warm laugh as she described President Bush's attitude toward the tough issues of the day as, "What, me worry?"

She accused Bush of undermining the national economy with deficit spending and huge tax cuts for the wealthy; endangering U.S. soldiers by not giving them the proper equipment to fight the war in Iraq; and harming the nation's historic role as a leader in scientific research and technological innovation by slashing funding for such efforts.

"There has not yet been one net job created in the last four years," she continued, arguing that the Bush administration has concentrated on helping the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

That middle class, she said, is now threatened by the ailing economy, which is suffering from everything from a burgeoning national debt (she called America the "largest debtor nation the world has ever known"), to the loss of manufacturing diversity, rising health care costs, loss of pensions in many sectors and other causes.

"You can find rich people anywhere in the world," she said. "But you can't find the American middle class anywhere else in the world.
Well, with all this going on, we better get us a trade agreement, right? Think again...
She was critical of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which is being sought by the Bush administration. It is intended to enrich corporations without providing adequate safeguards against unintended negative effects, she said. She maintained that trade agreements to open up the flow of goods and service throughout the Western Hemisphere are a worthy goal, but they must be coupled with protections for American jobs, the environment and worker safety in the rest of the hemisphere.
So, what about this terrible economic record Hillary speaks of? Well, we've managed 3.8% growth over the last two quarters and 5% unemployment in the midst of a huge runup in oil prices...not too shabby (Bill Clinton's best unemployment figure was 5.3%, and that was in the middle of the great Internet boom)...and especially good when you compare us to the staggering European Union. More thoughts in a similar vein from Captain Ed...

Andy also points me to this op-ed by that OTHER New York senator. Quoth Schumer:
Twenty-four years ago, when Former President Ronald Reagan faced his first Supreme Court vacancy, after a divisive election, he picked someone who was thoughtful, mainstream and pragmatic. He picked a consensus nominee - Sandra Day O'Connor. She was confirmed 99 to 0. President Bush should take a page from Reagan's book as he faces his first Supreme Court pick, also after a divisive election. He should select a mainstream, thoughtful pragmatist in the mold of O'Connor.
My, that's inspiring. Excuse me while I get out my hankie - wait a minute! Divisive? Reagan? As Andy points out, Reagan won the 1980 election by 8 million votes, with a winning margin of 9.8%, and an Electoral College blowout of 489-49. Of course, ever since Reagan, politicians have DREAMED of being that divisive! Another quick point: if Mother Teresa was still alive, she couldn't get a 99-0 vote from this Senate...

For more SCOTUS news, including a post-mortem on the Novak-led Rehnquist frenzy, here's the redoubtable Erick-Woods Erickson...

'Gentlemen' of the Press

I understand the press has a job to do, and part of that job is to ask the hard questions. The adversarial role of the press is not limited to either Democrats or Republicans, despite the leftward drift of most major media outlets. When does hard questioning cease being a function of serving the greater good, and become preening, posturing, and badgering? Wherever the line is, it was certainly crossed today. Here's the White House Press Corp and Scott McClellan today:

Q: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked related to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point.

And as I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.

The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren't going to comment on it while it is ongoing.

Q: I actually wasn't talking about any investigation. But in June of 2004, the president said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak to the press about information. I just wanted to know: Is that still his position?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that's why I said that our policy continues to be that we're not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium.

The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium...

Q: Scott, if I could point out: Contradictory to that statement, on September 29th of 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one to have said that if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired. And then, on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation, when the president made his comments that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved. So why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you've suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, 'We're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation'?

MCCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. And that's something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow.

And that's why we're continuing to follow that approach and that policy. Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And, at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.

Q: So could I just ask: When did you change your mind to say that it was OK to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it's not?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I think maybe you missed what I was saying in reference to Terry's question at the beginning. There came a point, when the investigation got under way, when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be - or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.

I think that's the way to be most helpful to help them advance the investigation and get to the bottom of it.

Q: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than: We're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...

Q: (inaudible) when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish.

Q: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?

MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MCCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.

Q: You're in a bad spot here, Scott... because after the investigation began - after the criminal investigation was under way -- you said, October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this," from that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?

MCCLELLAN: No, that's not a correct characterization. And I think you are well aware of that...

And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this. Because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States.

I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I'm just not going to do that.

Q: So you're now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore and since then you haven't.

MCCLELLAN: Again, you're continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation and I'm just not going to respond to them.

Q: When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you pin down a date?

MCCLELLAN: Back in that time period.

Q: Well, then the president commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response.

Q: Well, we are going to keep asking them. When did the president learn that Karl Rove had had a conversation with a news reporter about the involvement of Joseph Wilson's wife in the decision to send him to Africa?

MCCLELLAN: I've responded to the questions.

Q: When did the president learn that Karl Rove had been...

MCCLELLAN: I've responded to your questions.

Q: After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the president's word that anybody who was involved will be let go?

MCCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.

Q: Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove's lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff, here?

MCCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.

Q: Does the president continue to have confidence in Mr. Rove?

MCCLELLAN: Again, these are all questions coming up in the context of an ongoing criminal investigation. And you've heard my response on this.

Q: So you're not going to respond as to whether or not the president has confidence in his deputy chief of staff?

MCCLELLAN: You're asking this question in the context of an ongoing investigation, and I would not read anything into it other then I'm simply going to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Q: Has there been any change, or is there a plan for Mr. Rove's portfolio to be altered in any way?

MCCLELLAN: Again, you have my response to these questions...


Q: There's a difference between commenting publicly on an action and taking action in response to it. Newsweek put out a story, an e-mail saying that Karl Rove passed national security information on to a reporter that outed a CIA officer. Now, are you saying that the President is not taking any action in response to that? Because I presume that the prosecutor did not ask you not to take action and that if he did you still would not necessarily abide by that; that the President is free to respond to news reports, regardless of whether there's an investigation or not.

So are you saying that he's not going to do anything about this until the investigation is fully over and done with?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I think the President has previously spoken to this.

This continues to be an ongoing criminal investigation. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. And we're just not going to have more to say on it until that investigation is complete.


Q: When the leak investigation is completed, does the president believe it might be important for his credibility, the credibility of the White House, to release all the information voluntarily that was submitted as part of the investigation, so the American public could see what transpired inside the White House at the time?

MCCLELLAN: This is an investigation being overseen by a special prosecutor. And I think those are questions best directed to the special prosecutor.

Q: Have you or the White House considered whether that would be optimal to release as much information and make it as open...

MCCLELLAN: It's the same type of question. You're asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation and I'm not going to do that.

Q: I'd like you to talk about the communications strategies just a little bit there.

MCCLELLAN: Understood. The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and that's what he expects people in the White House to do.

Q: And he would like to do that when it is concluded, cooperate fully with...

MCCLELLAN: Again, I've already responded.

Q: Scott, who in the investigation made this request of the White House not to comment further about the investigation? Was it Mr. Fitzgerald? Did he make a request of you specifically?

MCCLELLAN: You can direct those questions to the special prosecutors. I think probably more than one individual who's involved in overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing.

That's 27 questions, all essentially the same, all with the same answer. It was quite clear that Scott McClellan was dodging the questions, at the request of Bush or a high official. The point was made; even 3 - 5 questions on this subject would have been enough to determine that McClellan was not going to give a substantive answer - and you would have had your story. "Bush spokesman Scott McClellan declined to answer questions about Karl Rove's involvement in the leak of Valerie Plame's identity, despite having no such qualms on prior occasions when he adamantly denied Rove's role in the affair." See? It writes itself...

Even worse is the attitude of the press corps, and here the bias becomes quite evident. These are all quotes from above:

  • 'Scott, this is ridiculous...';
  • 'No, you're not finishing; you're not saying anything...';
  • 'You're in a bad spot here, that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information...'
  • 'After you cleared Rove and others from that podium...'
  • 'Well, we're going to keep on asking them...' (after McClellan pointed out they were asking the same thing over and over and over again)
A disgusting performance...and it doesn't stop there. Ryan James has the story on yet another example of the liberal media spin at work, this time regarding military recruitment figures. What liberal media? Give me a break...