Saturday, July 23, 2005

Weekly Jackass Number Thirty-Six: Frank Rich

Has anyone ever seen Frank Rich and Paul Begala in the same room? Seriously...because Rich might as well have 'DNC hack' stamped on his forehead. Rich's subject this week, predictably, is the Plame scandal, but he has nothing to add (equally predictably), so he does his usual routine of slinging out everything but the kitchen sink before he reaches the conclusion that almost all of his columns reach - I don't like George Bush, and I don't support the Iraq War:
The real crime here remains the sending of American men and women to Iraq on fictitious grounds. Without it, there wouldn't have been a third-rate smear campaign against an obscure diplomat, a bungled cover-up and a scandal that - like the war itself - has no exit strategy that will not inflict pain.
Well, Frank, some of us aren't looking for an exit strategy from the war, but rather victory. That aside, it's truly astonishing how many completely oddball accusations Frank manages to cram into a single column. First, the accusation that Bush didn't nominate Alberto Gonzales because of his ties(????) to the Plame scandal (an accusation that Rich literally provides not a shred of evidence for). Then, a smear job on John Ashcroft's integrity, right out of the blue and apropos of nothing.

Most amusing of all, though, is Rich's attempt to paint Republicans as the party that attempts to use sexual orientation against its opponents, this from a partisan cheerleader for the party that (1) made a laughingstock of themselves with obsession over Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, (2) attempted to 'out' RNC chairman Ken Mehlman on the overwhelming basis that he's in his thirties and single, and (3) just this week engaged in speculation that the toddler son of John Roberts is gay (I'm not joking) because of his antics at the press conference announcing the nomination of Roberts.

Rich isn't finished, though, throwing in 'Mission Accomplished', missing WMDs, the 'bring 'em on' comment...Rich is forever trying in vain to stitch together some 'narrative' from his disparate threads, but he never really succeeds. I guess that's why he's been doing rewrites of the same column for 2 years now; and that's why this Weekly Jackass piece focuses on a single column of Rich's; they're all interchangable, really. Indeed, there are only two Frank Rich themes: opposition to George Bush and fake news.

But hey, keep on trying, Frank...someday something coherent might escape from your keyboard. After all, you know what they say about all those monkeys in a room with typewriters...meantime, enjoy your award, God knows it's well-earned...

UPDATE 07/24/05 8:04 p.m. central: Thanks to the great Erick-Woods Erickson, another of the Red State mainstays, as well as an excellent blogger at his own place, for the link...

UPDATE 07/25/05 9:56 a.m. central: Thanks also to Jon Henke, of the always interesting Neolibertarian Network, for the link...

Tidbits From Novak

Everyone's favorite journalist is back with another column full of insider information, including:

- the assertion that Edith Brown Clement almost got the nod;

- a New Hampshire fundraising snafu by George Allen; and

- anti-Hillary Democrats talking about Bill Richardson (ha!) for President.

Say what you want about Novak, he's seldom boring...

Nostalgic for MoDo

I'm not ready to join their ranks, but Sarah Vowell's latest NY Times piece has more than one conservative actually longing for the return of MoDo. It takes a seriously awful piece of tripe to bring one to that level, but desperate times call for desperate measures...

On One-Trick Ponies

Larry David has a great life: riches beyond belief from his Seinfeld days, a hit comedy on HBO, a great wife - umm, scratch that last part. Laurie David just can't shut up about the environment; it's literally all she ever writes about. Her latest diatribe tries (with no empirical proof whatsoever, naturally) to convince us that this summer's heat waves are caused by...what warming. Laurie throws out a couple of anecdotes meant to panic everyone, but there's precious little meat on this bone.

To extrapolate global trends from one season's data is, of course, so silly that we've no need to go down that fallacious path. Instead, let me refer you to the brilliant Harvard physicist, and always intriguing blogger, Lubos Motl, where you can get a real education on the issue of global warming and the creaky edifice it's built on. You can learn more from one paragraph of Lubos than you will from Laurie David's lifetime output. Here's a good place to start...

Egypt Toll Continues to Rise

At least 88 dead in the Egypt attacks at last count...not surprisingly, an al Qaeda offshoot is claiming responsibility. This has certainly been a deadly July in the War on Terror. Meanwhile, in the 'reality-based' community, nutjob Cynthia McKinney is holding 'hearings' on the Bush administration and its - guess? Mishandling of Iraq? Dismantling of civil rights under the Patriot Act? - possible involvement in 9/11. Good job by the one-two combo of Leon H and John Cole at Red State on uncovering the backstory to this one, including an interesting link to PlameGate.

Also recommended is this global terrorism refresher from DJ Drummond at PoliPundit...

UPDATE 5:31 p.m. central: Here's more on the Plame connection to that Cynthia McKinney story from Leon's blog. Very intriguing...

The March of the Apologists Continues

Ali Kazak, the head of the General Palestinian Delegation to Australia & New Zealand and Palestinian Ambassador to Vanuatu and East Timor, writes in the Khaleej Times:
The attacks against Muslim minorities and their mosques and schools in the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Italy and elsewhere, every time there is a terrorist attack in the West, illustrates the dangerous level of hatred and racism that exists in these countries against the Arab and Muslim people, and is nothing to be proud of.
Excuse me? The dangerous level of hatred and racism against the Arab and Muslim people? Tell me, Mr. Kazak, how do you feel about 'neocons' and their foreign policy?
...Never did we hear of Christian and Jewish minorities in Arab and Muslim countries being attacked, nor their churches, synagogues and schools being torched and vandalised by the local populations; nor should they be. Yes, there have been disturbances between Christians, Jews and Muslims and even between Muslims and Muslims from time to time, but these are sectarian conflicts and they are a new phenomenon caused by the religious tensions created around the world.
Keep in mind when reading the above that the speaker represents the Palestinian government, and he has the nerve to downplay terrorism against Israel.
The claim by some Western leaders that these attacks by "Islamic terrorists" are a war directed against the people of the West because of "who we are" and because of "our way of life, civilisation and democracy" is another big lie and needs to be condemned. It is designed to inflame prejudice and hatred of Arabs and Muslims, and to appear as if the West is defending itself which brings false moral comfort and gives justification for its unjust war. One wonders how long it is going to take those few Western leaders to admit that these terrorist attacks are politically-motivated and are in retaliation against their Middle East policies and blind unconditional support for Israel's occupation, aggression and racial discrimination.
Notice the scare quotes around 'Islamic terrorists', as if this was all a figment of our imagination, just some scary bedtime story divorced from reality. A 'big lie', he calls it, 'designed to inflamed prejudice and hatred of Arabs and Muslims'. And then of course, there it is: the justification for terror - simply put, the existence of Israel.
As long as aggression, occupation, and racial discrimination continue against the Palestinians, Iraqis and the Afghans, and as long as Arab and Muslim interests and values are not respected, you do not have to be Einstein to know these policies are going to further the hatred, frustration and pressure resulting in more attacks. No power in the world will be able to stop terror as long as its causes remain.
Again, we see that nothing short of the removal of the Jews and Westerners from the Middle East will do.

This polemic is more disgusting in its way than the hate speech that regularly flows from the Arab media and mosques, because the hatred is covered by the appearance of 'reasonableness'. However, you don't have to be Einstein to recognize the underlying sentiment, nor the tacit acceptance of terrorism as legitimate.

Fun Facts About the Patriot Act

Here's a little weekend amusement for you, care of Frank J. of IMAO fame: Fun Facts About the Patriot Act. My favorite is this:
* In a fight between Aquaman and The Patriot Act, Aquaman would be locked up indefinitely and then be forgotten. After years of solitary confinement, he'd begin to believe he has the power to talk to cockroaches... which is just crazy!

Yep, It's Still The Same Old Guardian

Via the great Tim Blair, we see that it didn't take long for the Guardian to get back to normalcy after a rare bit of sanity. The affiliations of the Guardian's sassy Muslim columnist Dilpazier Aslam were uncovered by The Daily Ablution, went essentially unchallenged, and formed the basis for Aslam's termination, yet bizarrely, the Guardian has seen fit to use the episode to attack - what else - bloggers of the right-wing variety:
Rightwing bloggers from the US, where the Guardian has a large online following, were behind the targeting last week of a trainee Guardian journalist who wrote a comment piece which they did not care for about the London bombings.

The story is a demonstration of the way the 'blogosphere' can be used to mount obsessively personalised attacks at high speed.

Within hours, Dilpazier Aslam was being accused on the internet of "violence" and belonging to a "terrorist organisation" - both completely untrue charges...

...The episode was a striking illustration of the way that blogs and bloggers can heat up the temperature and seek to settle scores - as well as raise legitimate concerns about journalism and transparency - when something awful happens in the streets of London.
A question for the editors and publishers of the Guardian: do you often sack employees for charges that are 'completely untrue'? How about some cheese to go with that whine?...

UPDATE 12:13 p.m.: Thanks to Leon H at Red State for the link!...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Terror, Again: An Ugly Day in Egypt

Lest we think terror only strikes at Westerners, we have the horrible spectacle of at least 45 dead and 200 wounded in Egypt. This episode is supposedly related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is why the 'tolerant', 'understanding' approach to terror simply won't work. Is there any end of grievences? How many people do you know, even affluent people, who are satisfied with their lot in life?

It cannot be stated enough, and this is as plain as I can state it: terror is not an acceptable negotiating tactic, anytime, anywhere, for any reason.

At Least SOME Sanity Remains

The Guardian, the very left-leaning English daily, has done the right thing and sacked the columnist responsible for writing about the 'sassy' young Muslims who were questioning authority by killing innocent people on public transportation. This came after Dilpazier Aslam was offered the opportunity to retain his job by quitting his membership in the anti-semitic radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. His choice: to remain a radical. And thus do the battle lines become drawn...but kudos to the Guardian for doing the right thing, however belatedly. Tim Blair, I await your commentary!...

Once More, Essential Hanson

Thanks to AcademicElephant for alerting me to yet another brilliant Victor Davis Hanson piece on the appropriate response to the cold-blooded killers who are our enemies. In this piece, Hanson traces the false premises behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, moves to the wider view of radical Islamist mindset, and concludes brilliantly with these lessons to learn:
Typical after the London bombing is the ubiquitous Muslim spokesman who when asked to condemn terrorism, starts out by deploring such killing, assuring that it has nothing to do with Islam, yet then ending by inserting the infamous "but" - as he closes with references about the West Bank, Israel, and all sorts of mitigating factors. Almost no secular Middle Easterners or religious officials write or state flatly, "Islamic terrorism is murder, pure and simple evil. End of story, no ifs or buts about it."

Second, thinking that the jihadists will target only Israel eventually leads to emboldened attacks on the United States. Assuming America is the only target assures terrorism against Europe. Civilizations will either hang separately or triumph over barbarism together. It is that simple - and past time for Europe and the United States to rediscover their common heritage and shared aims in eradicating this plague of Islamic fascism.

Third, Islamicists are selective in their attacks and hatred. So far global jihad avoids two billion Indians and Chinese, despite the fact that their countries are far tougher on Muslims than is the United States or Europe. In other words, the Islamicists target those whom they think they can intimidate and blackmail.

Unfettered immigration, billions in cash grants to Arab autocracies, alliances of convenience with dictatorships, triangulation with Middle Eastern patrons of terror, blaming the Jews - civilization has tried all that.

It is time to relearn the lessons from the Cold War, when we saw millions of noble Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, and Czechs as enslaved under autocracy and a hateful ideology, and in need of democracy before they could confront the Communist terror in their midst.

But until the Wall fell, we did not send billions in aid to their Eastern European dictatorships nor travel freely to Prague or Warsaw nor admit millions of Communist-ruled Bulgarians and Albanians onto our shores.

Hooman Majd: Terrorist Appeaser, Jerk, or Idiot?

I've got to hand it to Arianna: she has managed to assemble the largest collection of completely ignorant a**holes this side of an Al Franken party day in and day out. Earlier I mentioned how both Thomas Friedman and Victor Davis Hanson have begun to take off the kid gloves in response to the continual cries of the 'tolerant' for those who aim to murder us in cold blood. Hooman Majd is having none of it:
Thomas Friedman's latest Op-Ed column in today's New York Times is about words. Because in the war on terrorism, or in Mr. Friedman's war of ideas, "words matter". Indeed, and as Ari Fleischer once said in reference to Bill Maher's take on the 9/11 hijackers, "....all Americans....need to watch what they say...."

Tom suggests (as he has in previous columns, and as if he has wondrously come to the conclusion) that "if the primary terrorism problem we face can effectively be addressed only by a war of ideas within Islam" (he always adds the patronizing "one of the world's great religions" when he mentions Islam), then non-Muslims need to do something as well. And that something is to "shine a spotlight" on hate speech. He wants a list, and he wants to name names. Thomas wants the names of Jews who hate Muslims enough to scrawl "Mohammed is a Pig" on a wall, and the names of Muslims who hate everyone else enough to demand their deaths. Fine, Tom, go ahead and name the names of those who incite violence (although I'm not sure calling Mohammed a pig is in the same league as saying "kill the Jews." But I understand you want to appear fair and non-discriminatory).

However the problem is that Tom doesn't think that's quite enough. He also wants the names of the "excuse makers." And who are these excuse makers? In agreeing with James Rubin, the former State Department spokesman, Tom writes that "after every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why the terrorists acted. And these "excuse makers" are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists." Really? I'm sure on this site alone Jann Wenner, Deepak Chopra, myself, and a host of other writers appreciate knowing how utterly despicable you think they are. As do the British politicians George Galloway and Ken Livingstone, and newspaper editors the world over. So there's your start Tom, but if you need more names, next time you're in Cairo, Damascus, Jeddah or Karachi; bring back the local phone book with you. Since any one person picked out of those White Pages will be happy to explain to you why the terrorists acted (but not ispo facto that terror is acceptable: get it?), there's your partial list of the "excuse makers" in the Muslim world. The others don't have a phone.

Umm, Hooman, you fool - you're exactly who he's talking about! And you revel in it! While London is under seige, you deign to tell me you know why the terrorists 'acted' - a nice little substitute, that word 'acted' - for the act, of course, is cold-blooded murder of innocent men, women, and children.

And as to your assertion that the entire phone book of all those Middle Eastern cities is full of people like yourself - that's Friedman's point! What he, I, and we are saying is, 'Condemn these acts; don't try to understand them; because your time and our patience is running out.' Read the Hanson piece, Hooman, slowly, and then read it again, because it's not sinking in...and if Chopra, Jann Wenner, George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and the lot of you continue to appease, don't be surprised to find yourself increasingly marginalized.

Hanson: Enough is Enough

AJStrata alerts me to this op-ed by the great Victor Davis Hanson, a fiery polemic that reveals an exhaustion with excuses that is certainly familiar to me. I've argued before that it is a fool's errand to try to be tolerant with the intolerant, particularly if the intolerant are intent upon your death. We cannot state enough that our battle is not with Islam as a whole, lest we be misunderstood, but it is with a branch of radical Islam, and the mainstream must become more vocal in its condemnation, or face the consequences.

Hanson puts a fine point on it:
The killers always allege particular gripes -- Australian troops in Iraq, Christian proselytizing, Hindu intolerance, occupation of the West Bank, theft of Arab petroleum, the Jews, attacks on the Taliban, the 15th-century reconquest of Spain, and, of course, the Crusades.

But in most cases -- from Mohamed Atta, who crashed into the World Trade Center, to Ahmed Sheik, the former London School of Economics student who planned the beheading of Daniel Pearl, to Magdy Mahmoud Mustafa el-Nashar, the suspected American-educated bomb-maker in London -- the common bond is not poverty, a lack of education or legitimate grievance. Instead it is blind hatred instilled by militant Islam.

Civilization has only two choices. It can continue appeasing these murderers, looking in vain for "root causes" of the mayhem. Maybe Mohammed Bouyeri did not have equal opportunity in the Netherlands? Maybe $50 billion in past American aid to Mohamed Atta's Egypt was too little? Maybe Britain was too insensitive to its Muslim minorities? Maybe the price paid for Middle East oil really is too low?

Or the United States and its allies can deny suspect Middle Eastern males entry into the West while distancing themselves from all Middle East dictatorships, which neither punish nor even shame thousands of their citizens whose money and psychological support fuel murderers across the globe.

We wait for a Western leader with the intellectual integrity and guts at last to say, "Enough is enough."
Clarity is needed: we are at war, with or without Iraq, and only a fool would continue to keep his eyes closed...but oh, how many fools there are...

More London Updates

An arrest has been made in Thursday's attacks, and photos of the suspects released...

I saw an analyst on CNN earlier claiming that the only reason for Scotland Yard to release the photographs was because of the fear that another attack was imminent...let's hope that theory is wrong.

Excellent coverage of all of the above can be found, as always, at the Counterterrorism Blog.

Et Tu, Ari?

I've long suspected Ari Fleischer has something to do with this whole Plame business, probably in the role of Novak's first source. His name just keeps popping up, plus the timing of his any event, I saw the Fleischer reference in today's New York Times piece, and found it interesting, but I didn't catch the discrepancy, and it's a pretty big one:
From today's Times:

Among those asked if he had seen the memo was Ari Fleischer, then the White House press secretary, who was on Air Force One with Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell during the Africa trip. Mr. Fleischer told the grand jury that he never saw the document, a person familiar with the testimony said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about not disclosing what is said to the grand jury.

From a recent Bloomberg story to which Dr. Marshall linked:

On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.

Once again, I'm indebted to Tom Maguire for making the confusing details more comprehensible.

Some say that we on the right should let this scandal go, that we're only feeding the frenzy. Well, we're past that, folks...the liberals are having a field day, and even if we don't say a word, this won't go away until the Special Prosecutor wraps up his investigation and we see where the chips fall...

The London Nightmare Continues

The latest reports on the shooting death in London today indicate that the man killed was a suspect in the bombings yesterday, and there are unconfirmed reports he was wearing a bomb belt. Unbelievable...if I was a worker who took public transport in London these days, I'd be awfully tempted to burn up my sick leave. Let's hope this ends soon...

Thomas Friedman: What Can We Do? Throw More Light

Thomas Friedman has been on a roll lately (and when's the last time you had a chance to hear that about a NY Times columnist?). His lates discussion of the necessity of the war of ideas between radical and moderate Muslims focuses on what those of us outside the faith can do. His answer: the Quarterly Jackass.

Well, not in so many's what he really said:
Every quarter, the State Department should identify the Top 10 hatemongers, excuse makers and truth tellers in the world. It wouldn't be a cure-all. But it would be a message to the extremists: you are free to say what you want, but we are free to listen, to let the whole world know what you are saying and to protect every free society from hate spreaders like you. Words matter.
I like the idea (though I think it's wildly impractical). Read the rest, though, it's very well done, and thought-provoking.

Another PlameGate Revelation

Leon H of Red State alerted me (please read his excellent analysis here) to the NY Times' latest story. The thrust of the story (a pro-Rove leak) is that Libby Lewis and Karl Rove were working together to help draft the response to criticism over the mention of the Niger-Iraq connection in President Bush's State of the Union. It seems to me that Rove's defenders, when they leak, are always pointing to his motivation. Prosecutors, of course, do not have to prove motivation; their concern is over whether a crime has taken place, not why.

The significance? It seems to me that Rove's supporters are more concerned with ethical violations than legal problems; i.e., he will probably skate on the charges, but he's desperate to justify an action that he knew was wrong.

Leon brings up a point that is inescapable, it seems to me, and that is, what happens if Rove dances away because of Clintonian word parsing and legal niceties, yet is shown to have leaked information that he knew was classified? In other words, what if he did it, from a practical standpoint, yet is not indicted or convicted? Here's Leon:

I have been a fierce defender of Rove throughout this entire mess, but I have steadfastly maintained that if it turns out that Rove did learn of Plame's identity from classified sources, and did intentionally leak that identity to the press, I won't stand behind him. I'll not be dragged down to the level of James Carville, defending the indefensible on technicalities and throwing my own self-respect under the bus for the sake of my party. But I want to make this clear for any lefties who might like to seize the opportunity of this post to make a ridiculous "Republicans Jumping Off Rove's Bandwagon" post: Rove denies having seen the memo, and I still believe him. If Fitz tells me differently I'll be the first to bite the bullet and demonstrate the difference between a Republican partisan and a Democrat partisan: I'll call for his resignation, rather than defending the indefensible.

I endorse that sentiment 100%. It's too late to call for Rove's resignation on the grounds that he is becoming a distraction, as I originally came close to doing; we're past that now. And I won't abandon the man who has done so much for the Bush admistration on the basis of rumors and leaks. If I become convinced that he leaked the identity of a CIA asset that he knew or thought to be classified, though, I will join in the call for his resignation. I hope that day doesn't come...

UPDATE 7:00 a.m.: Obviously, not everyone agrees with my assessment that it's too late to step down for distraction reasons: Rick Moran is saying it's time for Rove and Libby to take one for the team and step down, as is Kevin at Wizbang...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Better Way to Start Your Friday....

...than to get chillin'? AJStrata has the third edition of the Carnival of the Chillin', and it's another excellent roundup, with a focus on this week's selection of John Roberts by POTUS for SCOTUS...drop on by, and nice job, AJ...

Things Are Getting Mighty Curious... the PlameGate department. First, Think Progress has the summary of a Bloomberg story claiming that Libby Lewis told Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald that he was told of Plame's identity by Tim Russert of Meet the Press fame, a claim that Russert denies. In a serendipitous coincidence(?), our good friend Tom Maguire has just recently posted on what he increasingly believes is a press coverup.

Clearly, somebody has perjured themselves (well, fairly clearly - nothing's too clear in this thing), but who? And Tom, are you planning on coming out with a book on this? Because I'm ready to place my order now...

UPDATE 10:32 p.m. central: Either I'm completely missing something, or this is a huge deal...I don't believe we have known, up to this point, that Russert testified before a grand the MinuteMan says, that might be considered, in some quarters, news...(UPDATE WITHIN AN UPDATE 11:58 p.m. central: to make up for my laughable memory lapse in forgetting entirely Tim Russert's already-well-established ties to the case, here's the actual Bloomberg link)...(UPDATE 2 WITHIN AN UPDATE 07/22/05 1:20 p.m. central: maybe I should have trusted my initial instincts - this National Review story says that Russert testified before Fitzgerald, not the grand jury, and that Bloomberg has made the correction - say, does anyone else have a headache?)...

UPDATE 10:38 p.m. central: This is why I always defer to the great Tom Maguire (and thanks for the link back, Tom!). Correction: we have known Russert had testified, but the significance of the story is that it is at odds with what we have been previously told by Russert's lawyer...and Libby and Russert, quite obviously, cannot both be right...Stay tuned...

UPDATE 10:50 p.m. central: Tom had previously suspected Russert's lawyer of playing the weasel, with a carefully worded statement; read the details may be that no one commited perjury, by dancing around the meaning of 'analyst' and 'his wife' vs. her name...I'm so confused!...

UPDATE 11:42 p.m. central: Thanks also to Leon H at Red State for the link; Leon has a great post up summarizing some of the recent developments. It seems increasingly clear that Fitzgerald is looking at perjury, rather than the much-harder-to-prove leaking of a covert agent's identity...

UPDATE 07/22/05 6:31 a.m. central: Many thanks to Lorie Byrd for the link...

Some Good Press For Huckabee

Mike Huckabee got some excellent national press today from David Broder, and Blue State Republican is all over it. Broder has a column up titled "The Next Man From Hope?" that heaps a lot of praise on the Arkansas governor. As Broder correctly points out, Huckabee's prospects largely hinge on the mood of the electorate come 2008...if the nation tires of all the emphasis on foreign adventures, and looks inward, Huckabee has a good record on health and education. Here's Broder's conclusion:
By most reckonings, Huckabee is a presidential long shot. But the other day, he got an unsolicited phone call from Harry Thomason, the friend of Clinton's who made the president's campaign biography film, celebrating the Arkansas home town Clinton and Huckabee share. "I want you to know," Thomason told Huckabee, "I've already got a working title -- 'Another Man From Hope.' "

Terror in London, Part Two

One thing that can never be said is that the British lack stoicism. The nation from which ours sprang has done itself proud by the collective demeanor of the vast majority of its residents. The latest reports lead me to believe my initial dismissal of today's attacks as relatively minor was perhaps overly optimistic. My first thoughts were nail bomb, copycat, amateur, in roughly that order; but it now appears that what was planned would have been every bit as horrific as the events of two weeks ago had the devices detonated properly.

The fact that, again, a bus and three tube stations were hit would certainly indicate that we probably aren't looking at amateurs, but at Al Qaeda, though officials aren't saying as much. The great fear now has to be that incident number three is just around the corner. Of course, this is all just speculation, but it appears quite likely that a rather large bullet was dodged today. Thank God for that; let's all hope and pray that this is the end of it...

The Most Significant Story of the Day... also one of the most boring, but China raised the exchange rate on the yuan today after a decade of inaction. This will be a big boost to European and American firms who were having to deal with articially cheap Chinese imports. The key word here is 'artificially'. As a free-trader, I'm all for anything that benefits the consumer, but not at the expense of the huge trade deficits we have been running with a country that wasn't pegging its currency to a realistic standard.

For an alternate view, see Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who says the move, while good for China internally, won't benefit the U.S. as we will simply switch countries to import certain goods from. Still, and somewhat bafflingly, Greenspan called it 'a good start' (ultimately, the best thing would be to just let the currency float, with the price determined by the market).

Behind Every Blog is a Person...

...and real life sometimes intrudes in the ugliest of ways. Deepest sympathies to Xrlq of Damnum Absque Injuria, whose father-in-law died in an accident...what a horrible thing. Needless to say, our prayers are with you...

Gang of 14: Still Chillin'

With the hat tip to Leon H at Red State (who, by the way, says he won't be joining the Coalition anytime soon - read why here), here's the latest from Sheryl ('all bow to the Gang of 14') Stolberg:

"This is a credible nominee, and not one that - as far as we know now - has a record that in any sense could be described as extremist," said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, after a breakfast session with the Gang of 14, a bipartisan group that helped broker a deal in May to avert a Senate showdown over judicial nominees.

While Mr. Lieberman and his Democratic colleagues were careful not to rule out a filibuster - "There's a lot I don't know about John Roberts," the Connecticut senator said - their remarks after the meeting suggested that, barring any surprise developments, they expected Judge Roberts to be eventually confirmed.

"At the end of the hearings we do not anticipate anything that would be a stickler, that would rise to the level of extraordinary circumstances," said another Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, invoking the criteria that the group had agreed would warrant a filibuster. "But you can't come to that conclusion until the end of the entire process."

Again, we see the dynamics of the judicial compromise at play: (1) the wisdom of the deal, from a Republican standpoint, and (2) the insufferable arrogance of the Gang of 14. How so? Consider:
If there is a dispute, several members of the Gang of 14 said they hoped the group would intervene. "The group stands ready," said Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, "if there's any rough sledding."
DeWine is insufferable. Enough, did a good thing, but here's a tip: praise sounds best when uttered by another...

Protecting the World from Poor Journalism, One Blogger at a Time

That sometimes seems to be the mission of more 'traditional' media outlets that rarely miss an opportunity to disparage the works of the pajama-wearing hordes. There's another way of reading that, though, with the blogger as watchdog. The irony, of course, is that the blogging world has turned out to be far more effective, collectively, at correcting factual errors and spotting bias than any ombudsman could ever hope to be.

A perfect case in point is this piece from Mike Krempasky at Red State, who has been very actively involved in the battle over potential FEC regulation of blogs. Krempasky brings his expertise to bear on a piece at the Columbia Journalism Review that is so riddled with errors as to be practically worthless from an informative standpoint. Indeed, the author misses the mark so badly that his conclusions are the exact opposite of what an informed writer would conclude.

Where, I ask you, would the corrective had been prior to blogs? Who would have known that the story was 180 degrees from the truth? Sure, there were letters to the editor, but by the time the letter was read, responded to, and published, most people who read the original piece would have moved to greener pastures.

That still happens today, of course...after all, not everyone who reads the CJR piece will read Krempasky's response. Indeed, most won't...but every person who does will come away with a more informed outlook on the issues at question, and a healthy skepticism towards believing everything they read, even from supposed fonts of journalistic integrity.

Is there a lot of crap on the Internet? Good God,'s 98% crap. Yet we've come to understand the hard way that the same is true of any other medium (Dan Rather, anyone? Bill Moyer? Seymour Hersh? Kitty Kelley?). There is a symbiotic relationship between the MSM and the blogs, and the MSM resents that, seeing no reason to concede such power to upstarts (what power? Ask Rather or Jonathan Klein...). The power is not theirs to concede, though; ultimately, blogging is another step in the democratization of information. More voices, ironically, bring more clarity, as all sides are forced to consider the implications of false (even unintentionally false) information.

In other words, get your facts straight...or there will be a Krempasky somewhere to correct you, and if he's wrong, someone else will let him know. How is that not a good thing? If what we're ultimately after is truth, the more seekers, the better...

Some Damaging Details Emerging

Maybe I misread the latest stories about Karl Rove: I have enough respect for Tom Maguire's lengthy coverage of the issue that when he entitles a post The Emerging Case Against Karl Rove, it makes good sense to see what he has to say. Specifically, the Washington Post is reporting that the State Department memo that now appears to be the center of the the investigation mentioned Valarie Plame/Wilson in a paragraph marked 'S' for secret. Other names mentioned as being in a position to have read the memo include Dan Bartlett and, again, Ari Fleischer (who I believe was Novak's first source on the story, for no good reason).

Here's Tom on what it means:

A quick summing up - it is getting easier to make the case that Rove knew, or should have know, that the info he passed to Cooper was sensitive. In other words (his words, actually), Rove had said too much. But the IIPA looks like the wrong statute.

And the first leak to Novak may be innocuous, if his account, which matches Novak's, stands up.

Sidebar - Ari Fleischer's name is appearing in more articles. He and Steve Hadley are the forgotten men here.

Sorry, time does not permit more. OK, a bit more - the WaPo tells us that the paragraph mentioning Ms. Wilson was marked "S" for secret, but adds that she was in two sentences of a seven sentence paragraph. So, perhaps the other five sentences merited an "S" on June 10, but not in July?

Suppose, for example, that Ms. Wilson was mentioned in a paragraph saying that the CIA arranged a trip to Niger. That info may have been classified prior to the publication of Wilson's Op-Ed (which was OK'ed by the CIA).

Well, here is the Supreme Court tie-in - original intent matters! Special Counsel Fitzgerald has surely interviewed the author of the memo to learn just what is is he was attempting to indicate as classified, and whether it still had that status come July.

Stay tuned...

@#*!#@(#*@ Car!

Well, I've been off this morning dealing with car trouble (a constant refrain in my life), so I missed the early news on the latest London bombings. From what I can see, this looks like a relatively minor incident...let's hope it stays that way. Since I missed the whole thing, I'll refer you to AJStrata, who has an excellent roundup...

David Brooks is Ambivalent About The Roberts Nomination... you can see from the following excerpts:

Roberts nomination, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee with the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee because this is the way government is supposed to work. President Bush consulted widely, moved beyond the tokenism of identity politics and selected a nominee based on substance, brains, careful judgment and good character.

I love thee because John G. Roberts is the face of today's governing conservatism...

...I love thee also, Roberts nomination, because now we probably won't have to endure another bitter and vulgarized chapter of the culture war...

...I love thee, finally, because now we'll get to see Hillary Clinton and the other mainstream Democratic presidential hopefuls define themselves...

...In short, I love thee, Roberts nomination. President Bush has put his opponents on the defensive. He's sidestepped the culture war circus. And most important, he's shown that character and substance matter most.

Come on, David, tell us what you really think...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Armando of the Daily Kos: I Set the Terms of the Debate, Dammit!

You know, when I run out of ideas for a post, all I have to do is look over at the other side of the fence, and - whammo! Instant post. Here's Armando at the Daily Kos:
The GOP understands that the real risk for the Roberts nomination is a full and frank airing of his views. Thus, they trot out what they call the Ginsburg Precedent:

Thanks to Barbara Ledeen at the Senate Republican Conference, we have the Ginsburg Precedent: a roadmap for the confirmation of John Roberts. Ginsburg, remember - was not an unknown. She had clear liberal (and very liberal) views. Yet she was confirmed overwhelmingly after just 4 days of hearings. Now it's time for Democrats to treat Judge Roberts with the same amount of deference and respect.

Here comes the pushback. Roberts does not have to answer questions is the GOP line. Roberts does not have to provide full and frank information they insist.

This attitude begs the question, what does Judge Roberts need to hide? Why should he be afraid to state clearly and unequivocally his judicial views?

I tell you what I suspect - he does not want to discuss Roe. And that is unacceptable.
That's not part of the post - that's the entire post. Hilariously, Armando quotes the Ginsburg precedent, and offers not one - NOT ONE - word that refutes it. His entire argument is apparently this:
Well, we knew Ginsburg was for drive-through abortion on demand, the most sacred of all human rights, so she didn't have to answer any questions - but this is different. This guy's a conservative, and he might think differently than I do. And that is unacceptable.
Well done, Armando, what a well-reasoned piece of tripe. You keep on dreaming...and come on back with an actual argument next time...anything less will be unacceptable - do you hear me? UNACCEPTABLE, I say!!!...

In the immortal words of one Bugs Bunny: what a maroon...

What Do I Really Think?

(About Roberts, that don't want to know what else I really think, believe me). I think Bush made an excellent choice. There are too many true legal experts in the blogosphere for me to fake some longwinded post on the jurisprudence of the man, but let's just say it's universally acknowledged that he is brilliant, his credentials are impeccable, and it really seems like Bush adopted a 'let's take the best man (or woman) for the job' approach, and kind of threw the political calculations of interest group politics overboard.

In the context of the Coalition of the Chillin', let me just say that not since Manhattan was purchased for $24 worth of trinkets has so much been gained for so little. Fili-deal was nothing more than a face-saving gesture to a Democratic Party that didn't have the votes then for a filibuster, and they surely don't now...we let 'em sit at the big boy table, and we got our judges.

Finally, I always take the musings of Michael Barone, perhaps the smartest of all political analysts, to heart, and Barone says Roberts is going the push the center to the other words, mainstream will hereafter move in our preferred direction.

You know, that Chimpy 'Shrub' McBushitler just might be a smart guy, after all...

Is The Roberts Nomination In Trouble Already?

That's the thought on my mind as I see, care of Iowahawk, that the Progressive Action Network for American Progress has mobilized the big guns...arguments like this will be tough to refute, but I feel confident, anyway: if Karl Rove can steal two presidential elections and reveal CIA assets in his spare time, he'll be able to deal with this latest threat...

(By the way, you haven't forgotten AJStrata's call for the latest Chillin' Carnival, have you? (You forgot, didn't you?))...well, it's not too late...get your submission in, today!...

The Best Analysis of the Roberts Nomination You're Likely To See...

...can be found here. No foolin'...check it out, already...

Oh, and there's an announcement to make: Ryan Bonneville has moved the Big Tent Blog, and promises all kinds of bloggy goodness with contributors galore in the very near future, so add this to your bookmarks, bloglines, rss, what have you...

The Latest Meme: Run With It - Please!

The latest Democratic talking point, as symbolized by this Newsweek piece, is that Bush timed the Roberts announcement to deflect attention from Rove. I don't really care if that is true or not, but I do have a message for the Democrats: yes, please keep obsessing over Rove! God knows, he's the most important man in the world, and Bush can't even tie his shoes unless Karl shows him how every morning.

Meanwhile, here in the real world, we'll celebrate the nomination of another solid conservative to the Supreme Court, a man who, at the age of 50, will be exercising power for another 25 or 30 years (or, put another way, at least two decades after the days of Rove are long gone). Obsess away, then! Wait, look - there's Karl Rove now - after him!...

Quick Shots: Beam Me Up, Scotty, No More...

Actor James Doohan is dead at the age of 85 (I wouldn't have guessed he was that old!)...R.I.P....

Chris Bowers isn't taking the Roberts nomination very well: 'one partisan hack for another'. Well, if the shoe fits, Chris...

Jeff at the Bernoulli Effect has an interesting post on the academic glass ceiling that is worth your while...

Tom Maguire (corrected link) has the latest damning Plamegate revelation that (surprise!) is neither damning or a revelation...

Calculating the Odds

W. C. Varones has a pair of posts summarizing the odds at TradeSports for the Democratic and Republican 2008 nominations, calculated at the midpoint of the bid / ask spread. He also notes a way to make free money (read his post for more). Here are the top five from each list (W.C has the complete rundowns):


Hillary Clinton1.1 : 1
Mark Warner8.1 : 1
Joe Biden8.2 : 1
John Edwards15.5 : 1
Al Gore15.8 : 1


George Allen4.1 : 1
John McCain4.4 : 1
Bill Frist7.2 : 1
Rudy Giuliani7.2 : 1
Mitt Romney10.4 : 1

I think the traders are overenthusiastic for Frist on the Republican side, and Gore on the about you?...

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

Congrats to Michelle Malkin, who has the distinct privilege of making Ward Churchill's enemies list. Read the post by Michelle for the 'creative editing' taking place at Alexander Cockburn's lunatic outpost Counterpunch, then read the interview itself for the hilarious spectacle of Churchill explaining how he's just a choirboy who's misunderstood...

Podhoretz on Roberts: A Choice So Boring It's Interesting

In the New York Post, John Podhoretz takes a look at Supreme Court nominee John Roberts through the prism of what he isn't:

John Roberts is (obviously) not a woman, not an African-American, not an African-American woman, not a Latino, not a Latina.

Roberts is a white guy, 50 years old, and you might say he's spent his life trying to get exactly where he is now. He's a conservative Republican version of a Stephen Breyer - the guy with the golden resume, who seems to have decided he wanted a seat on the high court when he was seven years old and methodically sought to make his way there...

...So he's boring, right? It was a boring choice, right? Not exactly. President Bush did not seek to box in his liberal opponents by using an affirmative-action appointment difficult to argue against. He went for a relatively young jurist whose contemporaries among conservative judicial thinkers consider him rock-solid, intellectually serious and cut from the same cloth as his one-time mentor, William Rehnquist.

Still, even Chuck Schumer - who did vote against Roberts' ascension to the federal bench a few years ago - said Roberts possessed "outstanding legal credentials" and an "appropriate legal demeanor."

When Teddy Kennedy began the successful war against Robert Bork, he swung for the fences instantly by declaring that Bork wanted to return America to an age of back-alley abortions. If all Schumer can come up with is "I can't deny he's got a lot going for him," Roberts will be wearing that black robe by the first Monday in October. Declaring that someone possesses "outstanding legal credentials" isn't a good foundation for a bloody, furious, crazed battle.

It's All Too Much...

...there are so many good things to link to today, I can't even begin to cover them all. First, try the Truth Laid Bear's John Roberts topic, the first installment of an OpinionJournal recurring feature on the nomination battle...Instapundit has a great roundup...finally, for now, John Hinderaker at Power Line on the left's strategy for opposing Roberts...

John Kerry Reacts to the Roberts Nomination...

...and one voter in Des Moines is almost swayed. Here's the lethargic, dreary has-been in his own words:
"Americans deserve a Supreme Court that is fair, independent, ethical and served by justices committed to our constitutional freedoms rather than an ideological agenda. Justice O'Connor refused to use her position as a means to advance a political agenda. In replacing her, we must be confident Judge Roberts will do the same.

"We know Judge Roberts is no Sandra Day O'Connor, and the White House has sent a clear signal. There are serious questions that must be answered involving Judge Roberts' judicial philosophy as demonstrated over his short time on the appellate court. The Senate must learn whether he has clear consistent principles upholding Constitutional standards like civil rights and the right to privacy in Roe v. Wade. These issues are in serious question if you take even a cursory glance at his record.

"The American people expect the Senate to fulfill its duty to conduct a thorough, independent review of any nominee, and I intend to do exactly that. I hope Judge Roberts and the White House are forthcoming about his qualifications, background and constitutional philosophy so the Senate can act with all the facts. There's too much at stake to do anything less."

zzzzz....Oh, sorry, dozed off there...

Here's Pravda for the Amer - oh, I'm sorry, People for the American Way:
People for the American Way is extremely disappointed that the President did not choose a consensus nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor. John Roberts' record raises serious concerns as well as questions about where he stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues - it will be extremely important for Senators and the American people to get answers to those questions. Replacing O'Connor with someone who is not committed to upholding Americans' rights, liberties, and legal protections would be a constitutional catastrophe.
If you bother to read between the lines, though (and I know it's hard enough just to read this kind of stuff straight), you can see Roberts will get approved. The Left is going through the motions, but their heart is not in the fight.

Finally, A New Poll!

In the highly watched Decision '08 SCOTUS nominee poll, you chose None of the Above, at 19%, Emilio Garza at 18%, and Alberto Gonzales, at 17%, in that order. John Roberts received a measly I ask your opinion on the confirmation battle ahead. Enjoy!...

The NY Times on John Roberts: The Grey Lady Is Showing Her Age

In an unsigned editorial, the New York Times does its best to parrot the Harry Reid talking points line by line. Hard to believe the tripe that gets published on the Times' editorial pages these days. Some lowlights:
If he is a mainstream conservative in the tradition of Justice O'Connor, he should be confirmed. But if on closer inspection he turns out to be an extreme ideologue with an agenda of stripping away important rights, he should not be.
Translation: If he proves to be a moderate we can live with, he's okay, I guess...but if he's one of dem dere conservatives concerned with interpreting the constitution rather than legislating from the bench, out he goes!
One of the most important areas for the Senate to explore is Judge Roberts's views on federalism - the issue of how much power the federal government should have. The far right is on a drive to resurrect ancient, and discredited, states' rights theories. If extremists take control of the Supreme Court, we will end up with an America in which the federal government is powerless to protect against air pollution, unsafe working conditions and child labor. There are reasons to be concerned about Judge Roberts on this score. He dissented in an Endangered Species Act case in a way that suggested he might hold an array of environmental laws, and other important federal protections, to be unconstitutional.
Well, hallelujah...I like the man better already. If, in fact, Roberts will be a strong advocate for states' rights, then he will have been a fine choice indeed. What the Times is really saying above is Roberts is friendly to business, and of course, that interferes with the socialist utopia the Radical Left would like to impose on the rest of us.
There are also serious questions about the attitude of Judge Roberts toward abortion rights. As a lawyer in the first President Bush's administration, he helped write a brief arguing that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.
Yes, as is widely known, in his role as an advocate, not as a judge. Entirely proper, and not indicative of personal preference.

Meanwhile, check the Moderate Voice for a good roundup of reactions (hat tip to Michelle Malkin)...

UPDATE 8:37 a.m.: many thanks to the lovely and talented Michelle Malkin for the's greatly appreciated!...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Judge John Roberts: The Early Reaction

Conservatives seem to dig him...liberals don't like him...and the world goes on. I was going to do a roundup, but frankly, I'm too tired at the moment...

My prediction: Kennedy, Durbin, and Schumer will pout and preen like cheap tarts in a red light street, but in the end, the gang of 14 will realize that no way, no how does this rise to extraordinary circumstances. No filibuster, confirmed in the full Senate heard it here first...

While We're Waiting, Why Not Unite Against Terror?

Communities United Against Terror is a new organization with an impressive list of signatories to an anti-terror manifesto of sorts (including me, but there's nothing impressive about that). What is it? Well, here's a couple of quotes, first from the 'statement':

We are frequently urged to understand the terrorists, but too often the call to understand is code for justification and apology. There are always other, better, more effective, and more human ways of opposing injustice than by killing yourself and others in a symbolic act of hatred. Muslims who have pursued modern democratic politics have often been the first in the firing line of the terrorists. The road to a just solution in Israel-Palestine is signposted by 'mutual recognition' and 'political dialogue' not the blind alley of terrorism.

We stand firmly against the racists who seek to exploit the current tensions for their own agenda.

We stand firmly against those who apologize for the terrorists and who misrepresent terrorist atrocities as 'resistance'.

We offer our support and solidarity to all those within the Muslim faith who work in opposition to the terrorists and who seek to win young people away from extremism and nihilism, towards an engagement with democratic politics.

We believe that democracy and human rights are worth defending with all our strength...
And here's the great Christopher Hitchens on why he signed:

Association with this statement and with many of its fellow-signatories involves two commitments. The first is the elementary duty of solidarity with true and authentic resistance movements within the Muslim world, such as the Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, who were fighting against Ba'athism and Talibanism (and the latent alliance between the two) long before any American or British government had woken up to the threat. It should go without saying that, though the suffering of their peoples was intense, neither Jalal Talabani nor Ahmed Shah Masoud ever considered letting off explosive devices at random in foreign capitals. I have my political and ideological differences with both groups, but these differences are between me and them, and are not mediated through acts of nihilistic murder.

My second commitment is equally elementary. The foreign policy of a democracy should be determined only at election times or by votes in Congress or Parliament. It is one hundred per cent unacceptable even to imply, let alone to assert, that a suicide-murderer or his apologists can by these means acquire the right to any say in how matters are decided.

Both of these observations, and indeed this very statement, would be redundant if it were not for the widespread cultural presence of a pseudo-Left, and an isolationist Right, both of whom have degenerated to the point where they regard jihadism as some form of "liberation theology". The old slogans are often the best, and "Death to Fascism" is life-affirming in these conditions.

If that's a cause you think you can support, drop on by and add your signature to the list (hat tip to the Belmont Club)...

Latest SCOTUS Buzz

Now the needle swings to....(drum roll)...John Roberts! Come on down! You're the next contestant on Where's My SCOTUS?...

UPDATE 7:06 p.m. central: Yep, it's Roberts....

And On the Other Hand...

...Jeez, I turn away from Erick-Woods Erickson for a few minutes, and I get spanked! ABC News is saying it is not Clement...

More details:
An informed source told ABC News they had spoken with Clement and said she received a phone call from the White House this afternoon. According to the source, Clement was thanked for meeting with the president and sharing her views on the Supreme Court, but that the administration has decided to go in a "different direction."

Taking the Measure of Edith Brown Clement

Want to know more about our (in all likelihood) latest Supreme Court nominee? The Supreme Court Nomination Blog has got you covered...

And On Another Note Entirely...

...the great Arthur Chrenkoff has been kind enough to whip up a handy color-coded chart so you can keep up with the UN's stance on various atrocities at home! Invite the friends and neighbors over for a game of 'guess that color' while you're waiting for that SCOTUS nomination speech tonight...come on, everyone's doing it! (hat tip to the Instapundit)...

Wrong Edith?

We may all be victims of a rope-a-dope, the ol' switcheroo...Erick-Woods Erickson's contacts are going nuts saying it's Edith Jones, not Edith Clement, that will get the nod...we'll know for sure in seven hours...

UPDATE 2:07 p.m. central: Nahh, just fooling...looks like it's Clement after all...

Bush Will Announce Pick in Prime Time Address

At 8:00 p.m. central, President Bush will announce his Supreme Court pick (hat tip to AJStrata, who would like all members of the Coalition of the Chillin' to submit posts to a special SCOTUS Carnival by Thursday, 9 p.m. eastern).

On an unrelated note, our good friend Ryan James, in addition to being an excellent blogger, is the executive producer at KRGV in Weslaco, TX, and he's got continuous live coverage of Emily's approach. Be safe, everyone, and check out Ryan's site for coverage...

POTUS To Name SCOTUS? The Rumors Still Floatus (Ouch!)

Here's a story from MSNBC confirming what we already know, thanks to Erick-Woods Erickson, whose latest only lends weight to the rumored pick of Edith (Joy) Clement. Will today be the day? And if so, how long until we can call her either Joy or Edith, instead of both? And which will it be (I'm rooting for Edith)? The suspense is unbearable...

UPDATE 11:19 a.m. central: This Washington Post story is the strongest indication yet from a mainstram publication that it's this afternoon, and it is Clement..

Clueless? Have We Got a Carnival For You...

That's right, it's the sixth edition of the Carnival of the Clueless at Right Wing Nut House, so get your butt on over there and check it out...lots of good stuff this week...

North Korea, Again

Nicholas Kristof continues his series of op-eds on North Korea today with a look at one of their prized possessions, a captured U.S. warship. Kristof also continues to hit his overriding theme that diplomacy is preferable to a hard line. I remain unconvinced...look where that got us with the 'agreed framework' (though Kristof seems to have a short memory on that score: President Bush's refusal to engage North Korea, as the Clinton administration had done, has already led the North to revive plutonium production). Yes, we have to use diplomacy, as the military option is just not viable at this point...but I think a hard line is still necessary.

Kristoff does make one point that I find quite convincing...and very troubling:
Mr. Bush's backup plan is to stop North Korean nuclear proliferation by intercepting nuclear materials as they leave the country - but that's wishful thinking. If we couldn't detect the transfer of a famous 176-foot ship, it's ludicrous to think we could stop the smuggling of a grapefruit-size chunk of plutonium.
Once again, I offer no answers...just a lot of concern over a problem that is nearly impossible to solve..but for those we think Saddam's lack of a working nuclear weapons program took away one of the reasons to invade: would you have preferred to wait until we faced another quandary like this one?...

Monday, July 18, 2005

It's Clement ( Probably)...

Our man Erick-Woods Erickson has a late-breaking rumor that he appears to take fairly seriously: namely, that the next Supreme Court nominee is Joy (Edith Brown) Clement...Michelle Malkin has more SCOTUS-related links to keep you up all night...TradeSport traders agree with the Clement rumor...on the all-important Decision '08 SCOTUS poll, 9% of the 525 votes received at the time of this writing were for Clement...

General William Westmoreland - R.I.P.

The commander of the U.S. Forces in Vietnam has passed away at the age of 91 - look for a million left-leaning columnists and blogger to take this chance to make lame Iraq-Vietnam comparisons...and for the man himself to be largely overlooked. Rest in peace, General...

Another Possible Candidate

This seems to be some sort of Weekly Jackass preview night. For a couple of years now (at least it seems that long), George Lakoff has been going around the country, giving speeches and writing books with the premise that the Democrats don't need to change their ideas that are continually rejected by the voting public, but merely the presentation. It's the ultimate in style over substance, and it would be sickening if it weren't so hilariously wrongheaded.

The always excellent Viking Pundit has this one pretty well covered, so I'll refer you to his excellent post, with only one addition: here's the coverage of Lakoff's visit to Austin recently by local progressive rag The Austin Chronicle. For an awesome party game, try to decide which is funnier: Lakoff's picture, the purple prose of the article, or Lakoff's message. It's a tough choice, believe me...

Note To Helen Thomas: Get Bent!

I think I smell a Weekly Jackass in your future, Helen! In today's now-routine Rove-dominated press briefing, in which a group of highly paid professional journalists ask the same question 50 different ways in a ridiculous game of 'Gotcha!', the focus was on the 'new' position Bush took that is exactly the same as the position he took 2 years ago. In the midst of all the fun, here's the ancient, petrified Helen Thomas:
Q What is his problem? Two years, and he can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in.
Umm, no, Helen, that's not the way it works. First of all, there is a special prosecutor at work, mainly to satisfy hacks like yourself. Secondly, you wouldn't believe anything Bush said about the conversation to begin with. Third, you've been a journalist for, what, 97 years? And you still haven't learned how to ask a decent question? What is your problem? Just what the hell is going on? Oh, and many lawyers did Clinton tie up with his grand jury perjury, and ridiculous 'depends what the meaning of 'is' is' garbage? Where were you then? Hibernating?...

...Ahh, that felt good...

UPDATE 9:36 p.m. central: Welcome to all you Fatwa Festivalgoers...

Poor Misunderstood Maggie

A frequent tactic of the scoundrel is to say something outrageous, then when the outrage comes, cry about being misunderstood. Former Weekly Jackass Maggie Gyllenhaal is the latest to try the non-apology apology. Let's go to Maggie:

The 27-year-old actress, who stars in a film about the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center, said in an interview last April that the United States was "responsible in some way" for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

She later issued a statement through her publicist saying that Sept. 11 was "an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world."

"I was so surprised by the way it was misunderstood, and the disdain that came back at me was a real shock," Gyllenhaal told the Daily News for an interview published Sunday. "I regret what I said, but I think my intentions were good."

Gyllenhaal told the newspaper that the backlash taught her "that neither the red carpet nor an interview about a movie is the right place to talk about my politics. I realize I have to be careful, because it's very easy to misunderstand a complicated thought in a complicated world."

Oh, right, the complicated thought that we were in some way responsible for the murder of 3,000 Americans. Yep, that's complicated...umm, Maggie, what did I misunderstand? You're so 'brave' to come out with a statement that will raise your standing in liberal Hollywood, without a doubt; but tell me again, what part did I miss?

To recap: Gyllenhaal claims bravery for stating a progressive thought in Hollywood, claims complication for a statement that is merely misguided, insults the intelligence of those who disagree, and then implies censorship of her outspoken 'bravery'. Maggie, the lesson is not that you should keep quiet about your views; bray away, as all our honorees do...but be prepared to defend your statements with something more substantive than 'you're just too dim to understand'. I don't think you were misunderstood at all; in fact, I say you're a moral coward who doesn't even have the courage to stand by her convictions.

Stop What You're Doing...RIGHT NOW!

(Unless, of course, you're a surgeon or a firefighter or...well, you get the picture). Hitchens the Great weighs in on the Rove/Plame scandal, and it's a honey:
The CIA got everything wrong before 9/11, and thereafter. It was conditioned by its own culture to see no evil. It regularly leaked - see any of Bob Woodward's narratives - against the administration. Now it, and its partisans and publicity-famished husband-and-wife teams, want to imprison or depose people who leak back at it. No, thanks. Many journalists are rightly appalled at Time magazine's collusion with a prosecutor who has proved no crime and identified no victim. Far worse is the willingness of the New York Times to accept the demented premise of a prosecutor who has put one of its own writers behind bars.
Need I say read the whole thing?...

Quick Shots: All Hail the Blogging Caesar!

Many thanks for including me in the Daily Blog roundup...lot's of good stuff there, so check it out...

Sy Hersh has a piece out claiming Washington either did or tried to manipulate the Iraqi election...before you get too excited, here's a flashback to his rather loose journalistic standards...

Mona Charen has had enough beating around the bush; in the Washington Times, she writes:
We have declared a war on terror, but the critics of this imprecision in language are right. Failing to name the true enemy obscures our task. The enemy is Islamism -- the radical interpretation of Islam that sanctions violent jihad, and whose grievances include, to paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, the unveiled female face, the existence of Jews, Hindus, music, literature, democracy and nearly everything we hold dear.

Until we clarify the enemy, we fumble about in the dark in fighting this war. Europeans have long tolerated the presence of radical mosques in their midst. As Louis Caprioli, former head of the DST, France's equivalent of the FBI, told the Weekly Standard, "Behind every Muslim terrorist is a radical imam." Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who has risen to prominence since the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004, declares, "For too long we've been tolerant of the intolerant."

As are we in the United States. Saudi money infiltrates many mosques in America. With Saudi money come Wahhabi imams, textbooks and agitators. Saudi-financed and -controlled organizations have trained Muslim chaplains for the U.S. armed services. And radical Islamists are making inroads in Muslim student organizations on American campuses.

Remarkably, in the one area where officials exercise total control, prisons, the Islamists have found their most fertile soil. This is true in Spain, where the terrorists who bombed Madrid on March 11, 2004, met in prison, and in America where Jose Padilla, who allegedly participated in a plot to explode a dirty bomb in a U.S. city, was converted to Islam in prison.
Read it all...

What Liberal Media? Part 482

The Associated Press is repeating the misleading allegation that President Bush has said he will fire anyone found to have leaked information in the Plame investigation. Here's the AP:
President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will "no longer work in my administration." His statement represented a shift from a previous comment, when he said that he would fire anyone shown to have leaked information that exposed the identify of a CIA officer.

At the same time, Bush yet again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

"We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.

Bush, appearing with visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, spoke a day after Time magazine's Matthew Cooper said that a 2003 phone call with Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.

Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.

Asked at a June 10, 2004 news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

This is a perfect example of using only the information that suits your biases. However, there is a much longer, more clearly worded statement from the President on September 30, 2003 that the AP sees fit to completely ignore:

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.

I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business.

...Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there's all kinds of allegations. You've heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information -- outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.

And then we'll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we've had them -- there's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.

In the longer statement, Bush clearly refers to classified information, and breaking the law, not just leaking (if Presidents fired everyone who leaked, they'd have no employees). Now, if one wants to say the President has given conflicting statements, that's one thing, but to completely ignore the much longer, far more detailed statement by the President - a statement that is widely known and has been reported at considerable length (see this post, among many I could have referenced, by Tom Maguire), is not a case of sloppy reporting. It is intentionally putting the worst possible spin on a story, and a clear indication of bias, as the statement doesn't appear in an 'opinion' piece, but instead in a straight news story.

And people wonder why conservatives think the media is biased...

And while we're on the subject of the Plame investigation, AJ Strata has the scoop on a most interesting link between Matt Cooper and - wait for it - Hillary!...

UPDATE 1:17 p.m. central: The New York Times repeats the lie that this is a shift in policy; if anything, it's a Tom Maguire often says, let's not play 'gotcha' with the President of the United States...

UPDATE 4:36 p.m. central: As anticipated, Tom Maguire reminds us of the real story; also as anticipated, he's much clearer on the point than I...

UPDATE 6:50 p.m. central: Timothy Noah of Slate gets it right, and so does the NY Times...belatedly. Their latest article has been quietly edited to add this paragraph:

The president's comment today, however, was similar to one he made in 2003, when he said that anyone in his administration who had "violated law" would be dismissed.

...And Not A Moment Too Soon...

The great Arthur Chrenkoff is back with the 31st installment of Good News from Iraq, the increasingly valuable series that attempts to add some balance to the relentless pessimism we're bombarded with daily. Progress in such an environment is slow, but it is relentless...highly recommended...

Monday Morning Must-Read: Is There Still Life In Social Security Reform?

Bob Novak (hmmm...that name sounds familiar) says yes. Novak's piece is the first bit of good news I've seen on the Social Security reform front in quite some time. Novak frames the story in terms of standing on principle vs. compromise, and says principle won. Lindsey Graham and Robert Bennett attempted to win over Democrats by adding combinations of tax increases and benefit cuts...but instead alienated Republicans (that no Democrats took the bait says two things - one, party discipline is fairly good, and two, as usual, politicians will put partisan gain over the good of the nation). So out go the benefit cuts and tax increases, and in goes what is known as the Hunter plan, a reform package that would transfer the current surplus in the Social Security payroll tax funds into PSAs that are limited, at first, to Treasury bills, for those under 55 who don't opt out.

Still, it won't be smooth sailing getting such a package through both chambers, and Novak says a vote isn't imminent:
The momentum was slowed last week when House Speaker Dennis Hastert made clear he would not subject colleagues to two politically difficult votes before the August recess. CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) goes first, and that means Social Security probably will not come up until September at the earliest. Nevertheless, House Republicans follow the trail blazed long ago by Jack Kemp to provide leadership on Social Security that should have come from the White House.
And yet, the fact that this horse is still in the race gives me a glimmer of hope...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Some RINO Sightings To End Your Weekend...

...because, really, what is a weekend without RINOs? The World Wide Rant has the latest edition up; don't be the last in your neighborhood to check it out, because then, when everyone's talking about it at the water cooler tomorrow, you're gonna look really dorky if you don't know what's going on...

Candidate Profile Twenty-Four: Mitt Romney

NOTE: No doubt you found yourself here after a Google search for Mitt Romney's resume. I'm glad you're here, but I'd rather see you at the new Decision '08, which can be found here. Come join the conversation!

Any Republican who manages to get elected governor of Massachusetts must have crossover appeal. The current occupant of that office is not making a secret of his plans to make a run in 2008, and has been appearing in key states and distributing money to lawmakers through his PAC in preperation.

Willard Mitt Romney - official bio

A Romney 2008 blog

RESUME - Governor of Massachusetts, 2003 - present; former President and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Comittee; son of three-term Michigan Governor George Romney; former Vice President, then CEO, of Bain & Company, Inc.; founder, Bain Capital; ran for the Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy

Romney has a reputation as a social moderate (anathema to the hardcore right) because of his stance on abortion (though he shows opportunistic signs of changing as he tests the 2008 waters), but as this editorial in the Wall Street Journal shows, he's against gay marriage, despite governing the state that threw the issue into the national spotlight. He also is seeking to reinstate the Massachusetts death penalty in certain cases. It's safe to say, then, that Romney (for better or worse) is willing to do what it takes to portray himself as conservative enough to take the nomination.

One intriguing aspect of a Romney run is the Massachusetts connection. Would it be foolish to nominate a candidate who has virtually no chance of delivering his home state? Romney may also be portrayed as a northeastern liberal in disguise during the primaries, and his opponents will surely argue that he will have no southern appeal.

That's child's play, though, next to what has to be the most controversial aspect of a Romney candidacy, his membership in the Church of Latter Day Saints. Leaving aside personal feelings on the issue (though I will refer you to a previous discussion), if Romney makes a strong showing in the early part of the campaign, one or more opponents may be tempted to go negative on this issue. The LDS is rapidly growing, but polling data from 1999 revealed 17% of the population would oppose a Mormon candidate on the basis of his faith alone.

My best guess is that his Mormon background won't automatically disqualify him, but it has to be considered a handicap. In a very real way, that serves as a metaphor for Romney's candidacy...a lot of positives, but a lot of handicaps. You might say Romney is the 'if' candidate...if no one breaks out of the pack, if he handles the Mormon issue well, if he can convince primary voters that the Republican candidate needn't be a Southerner...after a while those ifs start adding up.

Romney has a shot, but he's got a lot of work to's a credit to his seriousness that he recognizes this and has started early.


UPDATE 07/24/2005 10:56 p.m.:

see here...