« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 1, 2005

Another Terrorist Attack On Bali?

It appears that Islamists have chosen the popular resort destination of Bali once again as a target for terrorist attacks. A series of explosions have left at least eight people dead, including tourists, in the Indonesian area: Bombs exploded almost simultaneously Saturday in two tourist areas of the Indonesian resort island of Bali, killing at least eight people and wounding 13 others, police and hospital officials said. The victims included foreign tourists. The blasts at Jimbaran beach and a bustling outdoor shopping center in downtown Kuta "were clearly the work of terrorists," police Maj. Gen. Ansyaad Mbai, a top Indonesian anti-terrorism official, told The Associated Press. Other reports quote higher casualty figures, but none provide solid links yet. I will update as this becomes clearer. It also may not yet be over -- some of these reports imply more than two attacks. It has the earmarks of al-Qaeda operations, which...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

What's That Bulge Under The Burqa, They Wondered

Security forces in Afghanistan arrested a Taliban commander wanted in the string of bombings that unsuccessfully attempted to derail elections in the newly liberated and democratic nation. Gafar attempted to hide in plain sight from the American and Afghani soldiers who rooted him out: U.S. and Afghan forces arrested a Taliban commander suspected in bomb attacks against coalition forces during a raid on central Afghanistan home, where he tried to conceal his identity by dressing as a woman, police said Saturday. The commander, known as Gafar, was arrested Wednesday in Andar district of Ghazni province, southwest of the capital, Kabul. A U.S. military statement said he was a "key enemy commander" behind attacks on Afghan and U.S. forces in the province carried out with homemade bombs, rockets and small-caliber handguns. ... During the raid, the suspect tried to conceal his identity by dressing as a woman with a veil and...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Palestinian Elections Produce Murky Results

Local elections in the West Bank produced results quirky enough for both Fatah and Hamas to claim victories in the 104 municipalities polling yesterday. Even the media coverage seems confused, as the New York Times suggests that the results favor Hamas while the Washington Post argues the opposite. The difference between the two comes from the lack of representation for Hamas in many of the elections, while Fatah had candidates in all localities. The Post's Scott Wilson takes the macro view: The Palestinians' ruling Fatah movement won a majority on 51 municipal councils in elections held Thursday in 104 West Bank towns and villages, according to official results scheduled to be released Saturday that show the rival Hamas movement taking clear control of 13 councils. Thursday's vote was the third round of municipal elections in the Palestinian territories. Voting in the Gaza Strip, where Israel recently ended its 38-year presence,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Bill Bennett's Bogus Journey

The blogosphere and talk radio have pulled apart the unfortunate two minutes of Bill Bennett's "Morning In America" broadcast in which he attempted a clumsy reductio ad absurdum argument involving a hypothesis about aborting all black babies. Most of the commentary has predictably been inflammatory, although Matthew Yglesias, Brad DeLong, Jeff Goldstein, and Dafydd ab Hugh all offer excellent analyses of Bennett's commentaries. When one looks at the entire context of the remarks made by Bennett in discussing the Freakanomics argument that three decades of abortion lowered violent crime in America (an argument that suffers by the fact of the violent death of 43 million feti, wouldn't one think?), it should be obvious to reasonable people that Bennett neither argues for aborting black babies nor does he agree with the Leavitt and Dubner hypothesis. Anyone who spends time with Bennett, either listening to his radio show or reading his works,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Able Danger: Zaid's Rebuttal To The AP

Earlier this week, the AP reported on a series of issues that the DIA used as an excuse to revoke the clearances of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the liaison to the SOCOM program Able Danger and the first public witness to the program's identification of four 9/11 hijackers as al-Qaeda operatives more than a year before the terrorist attacks. Many of us saw the revocation as a transparent attempt to discredit LTC Shaffer before he has a chance to testify to Congress on the Able Danger program, and the failure of the DoD to allow it to share its information with the FBI as well as the 9/11 Commission's refusal to meet with any of the Able Danger team. Now his attorney, Mark Zaid, has posted his comment on the matter at CQ. With his permission, I'm reposting here so that it gets the most exposure possible. ================== I have...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 2, 2005

Will Fitzgerald Attempt A Conspiracy Indictment? (Update)

Most of us have wondered why Judith Miller's testimony about Scooter Libby held such importance to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he allowed her to walk away from a contempt charge merely to provide what appears to be corroborative testimony to what Libby has already told a grand jury. Miller wouldn't talk until Libby and his attorney practically had to beg her to do so, as Power Line notes with their discovery of the letters sent by Libby's attorneys to Bob Bennett, who represents Miller. Fitzgerald wound up giving Miller the same deal he gave Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, which only required them to testify on a narrow basis about specific sources. Now the Post reports that inside sources in Fitzgerald's office tell them that the strategy has evolved. Instead of finding an act of criminal behavior, which they have apparently not found, Fitzgerald wants to create a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

That Blue Placard Gets More Than A Parking Spot In Denmark

Since the First Mate lost her sight over twenty-five years ago and has had a number of medical conditions as complications to diabetes (now cured), she has a handicapped parking placard which allows us to use the closest spots in public lots, as well as forego parking meter fees in most areas. Since she often has minor problems in walking, the placard helps tremendously. In Denmark, however, that placard gets the disabled much more personal service than it does in the United States. The London Telegraph reports that the Danes have government assistance programs that subsidize prostitution for those with disabilities so that they can have sexual fulfillment: Disabled Danes are being encouraged to make monthly visits to prostitutes and reclaim the cost from the taxpayer, under laws intended to guarantee them equal rights. In a move that has provoked angry protests but has delighted the country's legalised sex industry,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Al-Qaeda Behind New Bali Bombings That Killed 26

Indonesia claims it has evidence that al-Qaeda planned and executed yesterday's bombings on Bali that killed 26 people and wounded more than 100 others. Counterterrorist investigators claim that two "fugitive" AQ masterminds still want to hit more soft targets -- in other words, civilians: Indonesia said Sunday it suspected two fugitives linked to al-Qaida masterminded the suicide bombings of crowded restaurants in tourist areas of Bali that killed at least 26 people and injured more than 100. The nation's president, meanwhile, warned that more terrorist attacks are possible. ... Maj. Gen. Ansyaad Mbai, a top Indonesian anti-terror official, identified the two suspected masterminds of Saturday's bombings as Malaysians alleged to be key members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group. They are also accused of orchestrating the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, as well as two other attacks in the Indonesian capital in 2003 and 2004. The nightclub bombings, which also...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Bad Day For Rangel On The Blogs

Rep. Charles Rangel had a bad day on the blogs yesterday. First Mark Tapscott completely discredits Rangel's assertions that the all-volunteer armed services draw disproportionally from poor families in his latest research. The Heritage Foundation compares recruitment data from 1999 to 2003 by zipcode and income levels, and finds that the Clinton-era recruitment relied more heavily on lower-income enlistees: Note the proportions of recruits from each of the five demographic quintiles, organized according to per capita income by zip code. The percentage of recruits from the poorest quintile is actually lower in 1999 and 2003 than the percentage for the richest quintile. In fact, the percentage difference between the richest and poorest quintiles increases between 1999 and 2003! And the highest percentage is actually in the second richest quintile of recruits, followed by the richest quintile. It is no exaggeration to say America's most prosperous families bear the greatest share...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Female John Roberts?

While various news organizations continue reporting that President Bush still hasn't made his decision on a replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, the speculation on the candidates keeps widening. A newer name gets added today by MS-NBC, a potential stealth candidate that may appeal to the White House as a female version of John Roberts. Maureen Mahoney, who testified on behalf of Roberts during his confirmation hearing at the Judiciary Committee hearing, might rise to the top of Bush's list even as she flies mostly below the media radar: There continues to be talk in legal circles that he could pick one of three longtime Bush loyalists: White House counsel Harriet Miers, the first women president of the Texas State Bar and Bushs former personal attorney; Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Bushs longtime friend, who would be the first Hispanic on the court; and corporate lawyer Larry Thompson,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 3, 2005

Balinese Wonder: Why Us?

After having now been the target of al-Qaeda terrorist attacks at least four times over the last three years, the people of Bali openly wonder why Islamist terrorists have focused so much of their efforts on them. The French press service AFP reports that anger has risen among the Balinese as they survey the damage from this latest atrocity: Anger is mounting over the latest bomb attacks by Islamic extremists in Indonesia, where yet again most of the dead have been locals and most of the damage has hit local businesses. ... "Why is it only us? Why is Bali again the target of bombs?" asked I Gede Wiratha, the head of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Wiratha said strong rumors were circulating in predominantly Hindu Bali that witnesses heard one of the suicide bombers shouting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great" before blowing...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Miller's Lawyer Wanted Same Deal A Year Ago

This revelation didn't receive a lot of notice, but the lawyer for Judith Miller told reporters yesterday that he asked Patrick Fitzgerald for essentially the same deal a year ago that sprang Miller from prison last week. This seems to indicate that Fitzgerald really wanted testimony from Miller on another matter and later on settled for testimony about Scooter Libby instead: Floyd Abrams, the attorney for New York Times reporter Judith Miller, said Sunday he had tried a year ago to reach an agreement with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald concerning Miller's testimony about the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity. ... Appearing Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Abrams said: "I tried to get a deal a year ago. I spoke to Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, and he did not agree at that time to something that he later did agree to, which was to limit the scope of the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Fatah And Hamas Start The Civil War

The New York Times reports that the Palestinian Civil War may have already begun, less than a month after the withdrawal of the Israelis, as a series of gun battles tore through Gaza City after the ruling Fatah government attempted to disarm Hamas terrorists. The results from the first confrontation attempted by the Palestinian Authority against its internal nemesis left one police officer dead and dozens of people wounded, overflowing the local hospital: Palestinian police officers and Hamas gunmen waged running gun battles on Sunday night in Gaza City. The shooting began when the police tried to confiscate illegal weapons. At least two Palestinians were killed, including one policeman, and about 40 people were wounded in the fighting, the worst internal Palestinian violence since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last month. Last week, the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, began enforcing a prohibition against militants carrying weapons in...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Harriet Miers Gets The Nod

The AP reports that a "senior administration official" confirms that President Bush will nominate Harriet Miers, currently the White House Counsel, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Miers has never served as a judge at any level, and her nomination appears to give the President an opportunity to push a "stealth" candidate onto the Supreme Court: President Bush has chosen Harriet Miers, White House counsel and a loyal member of the president's inner circle, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, a senior administration official said Monday. If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Miers, 60, would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation's highest court. Miers, who has never been a judge, was the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar and the Dallas Bar Association. Without a judicial record, it's difficult to know whether Miers would dramatically...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Two Years Of Blogging Bliss

Two years. 5,556 posts. 53,148 comments. 12 million visitors and counting. Thank you for two years of pure blogging bliss. I have so many people to thank that I no longer dare to go into specifics. I have too many friends to count, and that is by far the best blessing I could ever have received. My deepest appreciation goes out to all of them, as well as the entire CQ community. UPDATE: It's the second blogiversary for Sister Toldjah, too!...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

My Grudging Support, Such As It Is

Before we on the Right get a head of steam on what I believe to be completely justified disappointment in the Harriet Miers nomination, I would urge all of us to reflect on a few points made by others with a more optimistic approach. The Anchoress and Hugh Hewitt appear to think that Miers will turn into some kind of Derek Jeter on the Supreme Court, and Dick Cheney predicts that we will thank George Bush ten years from now for picking Miers for this opening. Marvin Olasky tells us all about Miers based primarily on her private life instead of her legal practice. Miers could well surprise all of us and turn out to be another Scalia or Thomas, or more likely a Rehnquist. Even if she turned out to be an O'Connor with a bit more consistency, it still moves the court to the right. If outcome-based nominations...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 4, 2005

The Liberal Editorial Triumvirate On Miers: Stealth Or Legacy?

The Big Three liberal dailies -- the LA Times, NY Times, and Washington Post -- all issue similar verdicts on the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court in this morning's editorial pages. While the East Coast papers seem more optimistic about the potential for Miers, the LA Times sees little for which to cheer except her gender. And if George Bush hoped to get a pass on a big political fight at the Judiciary Committee, it won't come with the blessing of the Big Three. The LA Times echoes the disappointment of many conservatives when first told of the Miers nomination: This pattern of relying on advisors he knows and trusts was also on display with the export of several White House confidants, including Condoleezza Rice, Margaret Spellings and Alberto Gonzales, to various federal departments after Bush's reelection. Extending the pattern to the Supreme Court, a separate branch of...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Second Indictment: Second Verse Stinks Worse Than The First

The grudge match between Ronnie Earle and Tom DeLay went from blatantly political to surreal yesterday after Earle managed to get an indictment within hours of empaneling a grand jury that had eluded him for months with a previous panel. After DeLay's attorney Dick De Guerin filed an expected motion for an expected dismissaal of the indictment Earle issued, one that lacked any mention of lawbreaking on DeLay's part, Earle's sudden ability to add money laundering to the charges raised eyebrows throughout the legal world: The new indictment was brought on the first day of deliberations by a newly empaneled grand jury in Austin. The grand jury that brought the original conspiracy charges against Mr. DeLay, and which had been investigating the lawmaker for months, was disbanded last week. Without an explanation from the prosecutors, local criminal law specialists seemed perplexed by Mr. Earle's actions, saying they may reflect an...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Schroeder Fading From Office -- Slowly

In what may soon be known as The Long Good-Bye, Gerhard Schroeder finally and publicly acknowledged that his reign as Chancellor has all but ended, after backroom manueverings have failed to vault him over Angela Merkel. The CDU/CSU leader who took the conservative union to a disappointing plurality will shortly become the first female German chancellor, barring a last-minute reprieve by political parties hardly fond of Schroeder: In the latest twist in the post-election political tap dance, Chancellor Gerhard Schrder told his Social Democrat party he would not stand in the way of it forming a government, even if it meant he would not be leading his country. His comments, which appeared to pave the way for his resignation, represented a U-turn after his assertion on election night two weeks ago that only he could lead a stable government. ... Mr Schrder yesterday placed his political future in the hands...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Cohen To Democrats: Think Or Shaddap

It's not often that the Democrats lose Richard Cohen, one of the Washington Post's op-ed writers. It usually happens in any week with two Tuesdays, but otherwise it takes a blatantly bad move on their part to raise his ire. Remarkably and to his credit, Cohen castigates Democrats over two issues that they widely see as great openings for themselves in reversing their political fortunes -- Tom DeLay's indictments and the mostly ill-informed criticisms of Bill Bennett. Cohen chides the Democrats for not only forgetting their manners but also their good sense in trying to make political hay out of either: That was especially the case last week when I started reading what Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, had to say about Tom DeLay, her Republican opposite. I fully expected boilerplate, something about innocent until proved guilty. But Pelosi crossed me up. DeLay, as it...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Ante Up For Chelsea: A Twin Cities Blog Challenge

One of my son's friends, Charles Decker, died recently in a traffic accident at the age of 23. Charles left behind a little girl, Chelsea, who will have to grow up without her dad. Charles' friends, including my son David, have arranged for a benefit Texas Hold 'Em tournament on October 8th at the Clarion Hotel in Bloomington. Clarion has donated the use of one of its ballrooms for the event and will have free beer and snacks for those who enter the tournament. The buy-in is only $20, and all proceeds will go into a trust fund for Chelsea. I'd like all Twin Cities bloggers to join me next Saturday at 7 pm for the bargain price of $20 to assist Chelsea and Charles's friends. Let's get together for a good cause, show how bad we are at poker -- I've never played Texas Hold 'Em before -- and...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

How To Tell When A Nomination Has Hit Trouble

One of the first indications Howard Kurtz had that the Harriet Miers nomination would have trouble came from the White House itself, which scheduled the announcement of the pick at 8 am on a Monday. Kurtz says he doesn't understand why the Bush administration didn't copy its rollout of the John Roberts nomination: An hour after Bush nominated Harriet Miers at the deeply strange hour of 8 a.m. eastern, I realized the nomination had problems. Not on the left, but on the right. ... By the way, after a prime-time rollout for John Roberts, why would Bush have announced Miers on television at 8, which is 5 a.m. on the West Coast? Was the thinking to have clips of her dominate the cable/evening news cycle all day before today's papers could weigh in? Her schoolmarm persona has got to be a plus--she just doesn't look threatening. The cable networks soon...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 5, 2005

US To 'Ally': Please Stop Teaching People To Hate Us

The Saudis have come under fire repeatedly since 9/11 for their sponsorship of radical Wahhabbism and incitement of violent jihad in their madrassas at home while selling themselves as dedicated anti-terrorists abroad. It turns out that they have been selling more than that here in the US, according to the New York Sun, and the US government has finally spoken publicly to embarrass the Saudis into changing course: The American government is demanding that Saudi Arabia account for its distribution of hate material to American mosques, as the State Department pressed Saudi officials for answers last week and as the Senate later this month plans to investigate the propagation of radical Wahhabism on American shores. The flurry of activity comes months after a report from the Center for Religious Freedom discovered that dozens of mosques in major cities across the country, including New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, were distributing...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Kuwait Weighs Its Stance Towards Israel

Long one of the hard-line nations against Israel despite their American ties, Kuwait has served as a bastion of Arabic thought for decades. They housed Yasser Arafat and thousands of PLO activists during the group's heyday in the 70s and early 80s, when the entire movement went on the run. Now, however, the unilateral Gaza withdrawal has chnaged the calculations of the region, and Kuwait is no exception, the New York Times reports today: Kuwaiti newspapers in recent days have floated the idea that the country could take steps to reduce hostility toward Israel as a means of helping the Palestinians, prompting a quiet debate about Kuwait's decades-old strategy of isolating Israel. The discussion breaks long-held taboos and brushes at an emotionally explosive subject for Kuwaitis, who had long considered themselves among the standard-bearers for the Palestinian cause. But experts emphasize that it remains no more than a discussion at...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Iraq Reverses Controversial Rule Change

The Iraqi National Assembly has reversed itself after heavy UN criticism and US pressure forced it to reconsider an electoral rule change that almost precipitated another Sunni boycott. The parliament earlier passed a law that changed the threshold for rejection of the proposed constitution from two-thirds of all votes to two-thirds of all voters, a bar so high that its attainment would be impossible under almost any circumstances: After a brief debate and with only about half of its 275 members present, the assembly voted 119-28 to restore the original voting rules for the referendum, which will take place Oct. 15. Washington hopes a "yes" vote in the referendum will unite Iraq's disparate factions and erode support for the country's bloody insurgency. ... The original rules, now restored, mean that Sunnis can veto the constitution by getting a two-thirds "no" vote in three provinces, even if the charter wins majority...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

More On The Rosenberg Ring And The Vigilance Required For Security

The New York Sun has a book review that sheds more light on the case of Julius Rosenberg and his participation in Soviet spy rings. Ronald Radosh reviews Engineering Communism, a look at the escape of two Rosenberg recruits from the US and how they helped transform the Soviet Union into a military powerhouse -- using American technology: It has taken almost half a century, but Steven Usdin, in "Engineering Communism" (Yale University Press, 329 pages, $40), has finally told the story of the two men recruited by Julius Rosenberg to be Soviet spies and how they evaded the FBI and escaped to carry on their work on behalf of the Soviet state. Barr and Sarant rose to the pinnacle of power in the Soviet establishment and managed the building of the postwar modern Soviet military machine and microelectronics industry. Mr. Usdin's greatest accomplishment is to clear up remaining gaps...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Will Religion Provide The Hinge For Miers?

For a group that has repeatedly argued that the religious practice of judicial nominees has no bearing on their confirmation, conservatives suddenly have discovered a lot of interest in the evangelical outlook of Harriet Miers. The Washington Post devotes a front-page article to the topic in their profile of the new Supreme Court nominee, and discover that Miers still resists easy categorization: Hecht and other confidants of Miers all pledge that if the Senate confirms her nomination to the Supreme Court, her judicial values will be guided by the law and the Constitution. But they say her personal values have been shaped by her abiding faith in Jesus, and by her membership in the massive red-brick Valley View Christian Church, where she was baptized as an adult, served on the missions committee and taught religious classes. At Valley View, pastors preach that abortion is murder, that the Bible is the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Able Danger Foxtrot VII: The Zaid Interview

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to talk at length with Mark Zaid, the attorney for Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, about the status of the Judiciary Committee hearings and other questions regarding the Able Danger story. Mark and I spoke for about an hour, and his outlook on the runaround he and Shaffer have received about talking with Congress forms the basis of my new column at the Daily Standard, "The Able Danger Foxtrot Continues": "We're presumably waiting for them to reschedule," Zaid said. "Officially, the Defense Department and the DIA are taking the position--at least with me--that Shaffer is not allowed to testify." That gag order clearly has allowed the momentum of the story to slow in the last few weeks. When asked about the gag order's origin, Shaffer's attorney cannot tell for certain who ordered it. "These guys are talking out of both sides of their mouths,"...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 6, 2005

Gasoline On The Fire

As if the eruption of war among conservatives had not gotten bad enough, the White House sent Ed Gillespie out to settle tempers down yesterday by inviting activists to a private meeting. Instead of assuaging their fears, he insulted them by calling them elitists and sexists, touching off a new round of recriminations about an administration that has clearly lost touch with its base: A day after Bush publicly beseeched skeptical supporters to trust his judgment on Miers, a succession of prominent conservative leaders told his representatives that they did not. Over the course of several hours of sometimes testy exchanges, the dissenters complained that Miers was an unknown quantity with a thin rsum and that her selection -- Bush called her "the best person I could find" -- was a betrayal of years of struggle to move the court to the right. At one point in the first of...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Grand Jury Shopping And Intimidation = Texas-Style Justice?

More about Ronnie Earle's legal practices as District Attorney for Travis County has come to light after garnering a snap indictment for money laundering against Rep. Tom DeLay. It turns out that Earle convened a third grand jury to add more charges -- because an unannounced second grand jury refused to indict DeLay at all, provoking Earle's ire: A prosecutor tried to persuade a grand jury that Rep. Tom DeLay tacitly approved illegal use of campaign money and became angry when jurors decided against an indictment, according to two sources directly familiar with the proceeding. "The mood was unpleasant," one source said Wednesday, describing prosecutor Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle's reaction. ... Little was previously known about the grand jury that refused to indict DeLay, who has maintained his innocence and accused Earle a Democrat of bringing the prosecution to politically damage him. Earle has denied the allegation...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The White House Spy Scandal That Maybe Wasn't

Last night, ABC News broke a story that a spy had been discovered inside the White House, working for Dick Cheney's staff -- a headline that wound up at Drudge and rounded the blogosphere. ABC said that the arrest of Leandro Aragoncillo created the "first case of espionage in the White House in modern history." Not so fast. The New York Times provides important clarification this morning, noting that Aragoncillo did his spying after his security detail at the White House, and that no evidence exists (yet) of any such activity during his tenure as a security staffer for Al Gore and Dick Cheney: The F.B.I. agent, Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, of Woodbury, N.J., an American citizen who was born in the Philippines, was charged Sept. 12 with passing classified information to government officials in Manila. The charges filed against Mr. Aragoncillo relate only to classified information that officials say he...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Does Bush Have The GOP Senate Caucus On Miers?

George Bush and the White House yesterday told their critics -- when they weren't calling them sexists and elitists -- that the only votes that matter now belong to the 100 Senators that have to confirm or reject the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Sounding confident in their standing among that constituency, the administraion then sent emissaries to soothe the waters with their followers, to disastrous results. It also appears that they may find more of the same in the Senate, despite their sanguinity about Miers' confirmation. Key Republicans have gone on record claiming that Miers leaves them underwhelmed as a candidate. Some openly question the "trust me" approach of the White House: "There are a lot more people - men, women and minorities - that are more qualified, in my opinion, by their experience than she is," Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, told MSNBC on...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Canadian Bloggers Are Not 'Pussies'

Siri Agrell, writing for the Canadian site Maisonneuve, wonders why the Canadian blogosphere has not uncovered a major scandal or exposed political shenanigans in the national government. Agrell notes the long track record of American bloggers in uncovering journalistic malpractice and governmental stupidity, resulting in high-profile career damage to luminaries like Dan Rather, Trent Lott, Eason Jordan, and others. Agrell suggests that Canadian bloggers are "pussies", and uses me as an example: US political bloggers have appeared on the cover of the New York Times magazine and were accredited to cover the 2004 Republican and Democratic conventions. But in Canada, blogs remain the domain of pundits and policy wonks, an outlet for little more than chest-thumping, crystal-ball gazing, slander and self-promotion. Only one major Canadian political story broken by bloggers has made its way through to the mainstream media and into our consciousness: the leaking of Jean Brault's testimony to...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Can We Remember Who Our Friends Are?

I disagree with Hugh Hewitt to a large degree on the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. I base my support for Miers on a wish to avoid a destructive party schism that will threaten our hold on one or both houses of Congress next year, a loss which we cannot afford during the war on terror. Realistically speaking, Miers will probably be a disappointment but is unlikely to be another Souter or even a Kennedy. Her defeat does not outweigh coughing up Congress. Disagreement, however, only goes so far: "Shill," "toady," "kool-aid drinker," and --yes-- W's "Joe Conason" --the unkindest cut of all-- have all been attributed to me by colleagues on the center-right. Actually, there are even worse descriptions, but I maintain a PG blog. Fine, all around. Let fly, friends, you owe me nothing except your candid opinions. But you might owe the president more. I...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 7, 2005

Did Earle Break The Same Campaign Finance Law?

The Washington Times reports that Ronnie Earle may have broken the same laws on which he based the indictments of Tom DeLay and accepted campaign contributions from corporations. Stephen Dinan looked into Earle's campaign records after DeLay leveled the accusation yesterday and found evidence that Earle took money that violated state law, including union contributions: Rep. Tom DeLay said District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is prosecuting him for trying to involve corporate money in Texas politics, has taken such contributions himself. "It's real interesting he has this crusade against corporate funds. He took corporate funds, and he's taken union funds, for his own re-election. That's against the law," Mr. DeLay told The Washington Times yesterday. A review of Mr. Earle's campaign-finance filings in Texas shows that he has received contributions from the AFL-CIO, including a $250 donation on Aug. 29, 2000. He also has received contributions listed on the disclosure...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Al-Qaeda Strategic Planning Found By Coalition

An important document from al-Qaeda's Number Two leader and strategic thinker, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to Iraqi minion and terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has given the coalition important insight into the planning and long-range thinking of the terrorists, in and out of Iraq. The letter makes clear that AQ wants much more than the Americans to leave Iraq, and that they see our withdrawal as a necessary condition for their ultimate success, not an end in itself: The United States has obtained a letter from Osama bin Laden's deputy to the leader of Iraq's insurgency that outlines a long-term strategic vision for a global jihad, with the next phase of the war to be taken into Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, according to U.S. officials. ... The letter of instructions and requests outlines a four-stage plan, according to officials: First, expel American forces from Iraq. Second, establish a caliphate over as much...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Extremism Will Not Win Elections

Two leading Democratic analysts conclude that the Howard Dean approach to national politics will prove damaging to Democrats over the long term, and that a return to centrism provides the only realistic way for the opposition to compete for power. The two former Clinton aides claim that celebrating the base may mean more funding, but it alienates the mass numbers from the center needed to defeat Republicans: Since Kerry's defeat, some Democrats have urged that the party adopt a political strategy more like one pursued by Bush and his senior adviser, Karl Rove -- which emphasized robust turnout of the party base rather than relentless, Clinton-style tending to "swing voters." But Galston and Kamarck, both of whom served in the Clinton White House, said there are simply not enough left-leaning voters to make this a workable strategy. In one of their more potentially controversial findings, the authors argue that the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Dionne Notes Chickens Coming Home To Roost

Earlier, I warned about the approach taken by some conservatives to rely so publicly on the evangelicalism of Harriet Miers could create a political environment that we will later rue legitimizing. E.J. Dionne notices my post and picks up on the contrariness of Republican objections to their righteous anger at Democratic criticisms of appointees based on their "deeply held personal beliefs" and their push to note Miers' dedication to her religion now: Shortly after Bush named John Roberts to the Supreme Court, a few Democrats, including Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), suggested that the nominee might reasonably be questioned about the impact of his religious faith on his decisions as a justice. Durbin had his head taken off. "We have no religious tests for public office in this country," thundered Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), insisting that any inquiry about a potential judge's religious views was "offensive." Fidelis, a conservative Catholic group,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

How Many Bali Bombings Before Indonesia Takes It Seriously?

Bali has found itself an al-Qaeda terrorist target four times over the past three years, thanks to its majority Hindu population and its proximity to Australia and its tourists. However, it also appears that Jemaah Islamiyah gets a boost from an Indonesian government that turns a blind eye to its terrorism against its own people: In Bali, one of Southeast Asia's most-wanted fugitives slips away hours before a police raid. In central Indonesia, an Islamic school started by the reputed spiritual leader of the region's most feared militant group operates undisturbed by authorities. The group he allegedly inspires has not been outlawed. Philippines authorities, meanwhile, suspect members of the same group al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah could be planning to reopen training camps for Islamic fighters and are busy fund-raising in the Middle East for further terror attacks. The Oct. 1 bombings in Bali the second on the resort...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 8, 2005

UN Might Get Around To The Kosovo Quagmire ... Real Soon

The London Telegraph reports this morning that UN chief Kofi Annan has taken a break from his normal duties promoting nepotism and dodging investigators to review the status of Kosovo, the region that has existed in a UN-protectorate limbo for over six years now. The status of the province has remained suspended in mystery while UN forces have occupied it since 1999 without lifting a finger to determine its final political resolution. Now Annan says that the UN might sponsor negotiations on Kosovo's final status ... real soon: Talks on the future of Kosovo, including the prospect of independence for the former province of Serbia, are to begin in the near future, despite Nato's failure fully to pacify the region. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, said yesterday that he would ask the Security Council to authorise negotiations "very soon". He is to appoint a special negotiator - rumoured to...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Message Received, Moonbat

I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with my neighbor's son. He and his father had an argument about the way he dressed and he asked me my opinion. He had recently adopted a pseudo-gangster chic that ran as a fad with suburban kids for a while, and I asked him whether he meant to support gangbanging when he walked out the door. The Kid then accused me of superficialism, and that his dress didn't say anything about what kind of person he was. "Then you tell me," I said, "why you dress like that." "I want to express myself," he replied. "This is who I am." "I understand that," I said, "but if you want to send a message by the clothes you wear, you can't blame us if we see the message and judge you for supporting it. If you're expressing yourself by wearing gangster...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Miers Analysis At WaPo Sympathetic, So Far

So far, the analysis of Harriet Miers at the Washington Post appears mostly sympathetic, a marked contrast to the initial work done on John Roberts in the first few weeks of his nomination to the Court. Jo Becker, who wrote some of the more egregious material on Roberts, provides a more nuanced and attractive look at the cipher whose nomination has touched off an internecine war on the Right: Now President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, Miers served one term on the Dallas City Council, from 1989 to 1991, a period that offers a rare view of her political philosophy and style. Her campaign, votes and public stances defy easy characterization. She would meet with abortion rights advocates and gay rights activists but tell them firmly she did not agree with them. She backed a redistricting plan aimed at electing more minorities even though conservatives called it a quota...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Levees Didn't Overflow, Second Study Concludes

The failure of the levees in New Orleans did not come from the overflowing of Lake Pontchartrain over the tops of the walls, but rather from soil failures under the levees, the Los Angeles Times reports today. This is the second study that refutes the claims made in the days after Hurricane Katrina's destruction that the government should have foreseen the levee failure given the intensity of the storm: The levee breaches along two major canals that flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina resulted from massive soil failures under concrete storm walls, not from hurricane surges that sent water over the tops of the walls as Army officials initially said, according to teams of investigators who have examined evidence in the last week. The findings appear to chip away at the simple story that the storm surge was much larger and higher than the walls were designed to handle, though...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Ante Up For Chelsea: A Final Reminder (And A Live Blog!)

One of my son's friends, Charles Decker, died recently in a traffic accident at the age of 23. Charles left behind a little girl, Chelsea, who will have to grow up without her dad. Charles' friends, including my son David, have arranged for a benefit Texas Hold 'Em tournament tonight at the Clarion Hotel in Bloomington. Clarion has donated the use of one of its ballrooms for the event and will have free beer and snacks for those who enter the tournament. The buy-in is only $20, and all proceeds will go into a trust fund for Chelsea. I'd like all Twin Cities bloggers to join me next Saturday at 7 pm for the bargain price of $20 to assist Chelsea and Charles's friends. Let's get together for a good cause, show how bad we are at poker -- I've never played Texas Hold 'Em before -- and help a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Civil War Continues

Hamas has stopped aiming at Israel in its war for control of the Palestinian areas and now set its sights on Fatah, the faction of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. The New York Times reports that Hamas abducted and wounded a key Fatah intelligence operative in Gaza overnight. Fatah, however, may have provoked the fight: A senior official in the Palestinian intelligence service was kidnapped and shot Thursday night in the Gaza Strip, then dumped in a street in Beit Lahiya with serious wounds, the newspaper Haaretz reported Friday. The official, Samir al-Jour, is a member of the main Fatah movement. His abduction was another sign of the continuing tension between Fatah and the radical Islamic group Hamas. Later Thursday, three Hamas officials were abducted in the West Bank in apparent response. A little known group, the Omar bin al-Khattab Brigades, took responsibility for the kidnappings, saying in a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Ante Up For Chelsea: The Live Blog

7:09 pm CT: I arrive and pay my money. We expect 85-90 people, which translates into a fine four-figure start for Chelsea Decker. I found out that the room was donated by the Saturn dealership that employed Charles, and they're picking up the keg as well. Our table fills fast, with Uncle Ben, Learned Foot, Mitch Berg, and a few civilians (ie, people with lives) joining our table. We all are trying to review the rules, where I eschew them...it only extends the suffering, in my opinion ... 7:29 - Good news! I'm still breaking even! Bad news -- we haven't started yet. If CQ readers want to send a donation to Chelsea's fund, please send a check to: Diedre Chang 4112 Skylark Lane Eagan, MN 55122 Please put "Chelsea" in the memo line. I think we'll start playing soon. 7:38 - Uncle Ben and I start talking Sitemeter stats;...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 9, 2005

Catch-And-Release Program Should Only Apply To Fish

The Yemen government doesn't seem to take terrorism quite as seriously as we do, according to the London Telegraph. Their idea of handling terrorism goes even less further than the notorious law-enforcement approach that the United States tried during the decade prior to 9/11. Yemen takes a debate approach instead -- and it's about as effective as one might think: A pioneering scheme to fight Islamist terror by encouraging jailed extremists to rethink their grasp of the Koran is under fire after claims that some of its "converts" have taken up arms again. The project, launched in Yemen three years ago by an Islamic scholar, Judge Hamoud al-Hitar, has been followed closely by the British Government, which has twice invited him to lecture senior anti-terrorism officials at Scotland Yard. The effectiveness of his technique - a theological "duel" in which he and the prisoners quote Koranic texts at each other...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Could NOAH Have Stopped The Flood Of Terrorism Before 9/11? (Update with Correction)

One of the bloggers that has kept an eye on Able Danger updates, AJ Strata, notes an editorial in today's Washington Times written by F. Michael Maloof. Maloof reveals that Congress at one point wanted a national network of cross-functional centers doing work pioneered by the Able Danger team and its mother program, LIWA, but that the Pentagon wanted to pursue its own program instead. Maloof argues that the failure to push NOAH into existence lost us our best shot at stopping the 9/11 terrorists: Mr. Weldon first sought help from Eileen Preisser, who ran the Information Dominance Center at the U.S. Army's Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) at Fort Belvoir, Va. He then asked this writer to work with Ms. Preisser to see how the Army initiative could be expanded into a national effort. As Mr. Weldon envisioned it, the national collaborative center would have been comprised of a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Three-Part Disharmony

Earlier this week, the Washington Post asked me to write an analysis of the conservative reaction to the Harriet Miers nomination, after a recommendation from Michelle Malkin. It took up a bit of my evenings this week, one of the reasons my output may have seemed a bit slow, but CQ readers should appreciate the result. My essay appears in today's Outlook, titled "How Harriet Unleashed A Storm On The Right": The president's surprise pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor has ignited a massive debate among his former loyalists, especially in the blogosphere, where I spend a fair amount of time. Wails of betrayal are clashing with assurances of the president's brilliant strategic thinking. Meanwhile, the heavyweights of punditry drop columns like artillery shells into what already may be a conservative civil war. ... Bush himself ran on the promise that his election would guarantee Supreme Court nominations in the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Wetterling Joins Race For Dayton's Seat

Patty Wetterling has decided to bypass another attempt at the sixth Congressional district seat she lost in last year's election against Mark Kennedy to take on the same opponent in the race for the Senate seat that Mark Dayton's retirement will leave open. The political novice lost a tough battle against Kennedy last year in which she showed a thin skin for politicking and plenty of inexperience and indecision on policy. She has to convince Democrats that she can more effectively challenge Kennedy than Hennepin County DA Amy Klobuchar, a much more experienced DFL politician who has already declared her candidacy: Last year, she lost a bruising battle for Congress to U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy, who is now the Republican candidate for Senate. Although Wetterling was a political novice at the time, her name was recognizable to many Minnesotans. She became one of the country's foremost child-safety advocates after her...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 10, 2005

The Weather's Fine, But I'm Under It

Normally by this time, I'd be done posting for the morning ... but I've got a touch of the flu. I'm sticking around the house for the day, so posting will be slow but steady all day long, I presume. The First Mate will be thrilled, to say the least, to have my voice croaking at her all day long....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Gerhard's Gone, Angela Arrives

After almost a month of backroom wrangling, the Germans finally have a government. Thanks to a hair's-breadth victory for the center-right, Gerhard Schroeder will step down as German chancellor after seven years, allowing Angela Merkel to become the first female German chancellor in history. Her allies had to cough up a number of ministerial positions to get her there first: The way has been cleared for Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democrats to become Germany's next chancellor. But the Social Democrats are also expected to come out of talks strong -- garnering as many as eight key ministerial posts, including the foreign ministry. Germany's conservative Christian Democrats have reached an agreement with the center-left Social Democrats to create a grand coalition government with Angela Merkel as the country's first-ever female chancellor, the news agency DPA is reporting. ... The Social Democrats, meanwhile, are expected to lead eight key ministries...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Harriet Not A Hit Inside The Beltway

The Bush White House may find itself in the unusual position of relying on the opposition party to pass one of its nominees, according to the Washington Times. Almost half of the Senate GOP caucus has refused to publicly endorse Harriet Miers' confirmation to the Supreme Court, expressing either reservations or skepticism over her qualifications. Meanwhile, Arlen Specter and Pat Leahy have criticized the critics, with the former casting the naysayers as a "lynch mob: Nearly half of Senate Republicans say they remain unconvinced that Harriet Miers is worthy of being confirmed to the Supreme Court, according to a survey conducted by The Washington Times. As with the nomination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the vast majority of senators say they will not announce their final decisions about the nomination until after Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, which are expected sometime next month. What's troubling for President Bush, however,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

CQ Does The Washington Post Webchat

Since I'm down with the flu anyway, I'll be participating in the Washington Post webchat at 1 pm ET today, discussing my piece yesterday on the Harriet Miers nomination and the split it caused in the conservative base. I hope you get a chance to jump in and participate, or at least enjoy the debate. Jumping in now to prepare ......

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 11, 2005

The Dishonorable Stamp Of Approval

I have insisted that the Democrats will not allow the Harriet Miers nomination to go down to defeat, inasmuch as the alternatives look too politically unpalatable. The Gang of 14, those "moderate" Senators who hijacked the confirmation process last spring, have made that outcome more likely than ever by issuing an endorsement of Miers, the Hill reports in today's edition: The Gang of 14s centrist Democratic and Republican senators met and gave preliminary approval yesterday to Harriet Miers as President Bushs nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day OConnor on the Supreme Court. Emerging from a meeting at the offices of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said, This nomination didnt set off any alarm bells with any of us. The significance of this provisional endorsement, though presented in a low-key fashion, could be huge, for it means that unless damning evidence emerges during the Judiciary Committees as-yet unscheduled...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

White House Pours More Gasoline On The Fire (Updated)

It's either feast or famine at the White House with the Harriet Miers nomination. Given the chance to lay out a positive, substantial case for her nomination to the Supreme Court, the Bush administration has remained largely silent. However, given an opportunity to smear the base that elected them, the administration has seized practically every opportunity to do so. The latest comes from the normally classy First Lady, who again promoted Ed Gillespie's barnburner accusation of sexism among the ranks of conservatives: Joining her husband in defense of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, Laura Bush today called her a "role model for young women around the country" and suggested that sexism was a "possible" reason for the heavy criticism of the nomination. "I know Harriet well," the first lady said. "I know how accomplished she is. I know how many times she's broken the glass ceiling. . . . She's...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 12, 2005

Further Notes On "Sexism"

Yes, I have read the transcript from Dafydd at Big Lizards of the Matt Lauer interview. Yes, I know that Matt Lauer is not the greatest interviewer nor a friend to conservatives -- which calls into question why the Bushes bother to do an interview on Today in the first place. But I think that parsing the interview to claim that Laura Bush didn't agree with Lauer's contention that the criticism came from "sexism" is at best Clintonesque, and silly beyond belief: Laura Bush: Thats right. And I know Harriet well, I know how accomplished she is, I know how many times shes broken the glass ceiling herself. Shes a rol[e] model for young women around our country -- Lauer: Some are suggesting -- Laura Bush: Not only that, she is very deliberate and thoughtful and will bring dignity to, uh, wherever she goes. But certainly to the Supreme Court,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Will The Changes Be Enough?

The Iraqis followed their pattern of thirteenth-hour breakthroughs on political issues yesterday by reaching agreement with some Sunni groups on additions to the proposed constitution that goes to the voters on Saturday. However, confusion arose overnight as to whether the National Assembly needed to approve those changes and how to inform the voters of the new text of the measure that they will approve or reject: Iraqi political leaders said they had agreed to an important last-minute change in the draft constitution on Tuesday evening in exchange for a promise by some prominent Sunni Arab leaders to give public support to the document in the nationwide referendum on Saturday. The change would create a panel in the next parliament with the power to propose broad new revisions to the constitution. In effect, the change could give the Sunnis - who were largely shut out of the constitution-writing process - a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Rice Gets Surprise Agreement On Central Asian Base

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has managed to surprise Central Asia and reverse the momentum of base closings in the region by changing Kyrgyzstan's stance on its American military base. The New York Times reports that Rice convinced the new Kyrgyz government to allow the US to continue its operations for as long as we need to maintain operations in Afghanistan: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meeting with the new leaders of Kyrgyzstan, reached agreement on Tuesday on long-term rights to maintaining an air base here for servicing military aircraft on missions to Afghanistan. The United States and allied forces may continue to use the base, adjacent to the international airport here, "until the situation in Afghanistan is completely stabilized," President Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev said at a news conference. Last July, Kyrgyzstan, along with three other Central Asian states and Russia and China, issued a statement calling on the United...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

And The Applause Meant ... ?

Gerhard Schroeder told a union audience today that he would not take part in the new "grand coalition" government formed by Angela Merkel, apparently declining any ministerial position whatsoever just days after insisting that Germany could not form a government without him. After the negotiations form the new executive, Schroeder apparently will return to a private life: Schroeder's Social Democrats lost last month's parliamentary elections to conservative Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, and Merkel struck a power-sharing deal Monday to become Germany's first female chancellor. "I will not belong to the next government, definitely not," Schroeder said to loud applause. ... Schroeder hinted Tuesday evening he did not want to take a Cabinet post in the new government. Eight posts in Merkel's government will go to Schroeder's party. It sounds as if Schroeder has decided to take his ball and go home, rather than serve in a ministerial post to smooth...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Politics Abhors A Vacuum

In my Daily Standard column this week, "The Sounds Of Silence", I point out that the White House has done little to help its own cause for the Harriet Miers nomination. The strategy of "trust me" has obviously failed, and it looks like the staffers haven't yet come up with a Plan B: DURING HIS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS, Bush promised to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Now the bill has come due, and the response the president's supporters have received has been: "trust me." Some have noted similarities between this nomination and the last "trust me" Republican nomination to the Supreme Court, David Souter. Bush the Elder told conservatives that Souter would be a "home run." In the past few months, Bush has had two opportunities to fulfill his own election pledge. The president instead selected a brilliant, but largely untested,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Miers Telecon

I took part in the teleconference today with Ken Mehlman and Patrick Ruffini this afternoon on the Harriet Miers nomination, although I could not blog about it at the time. It lasted about a half hour, and the process worked quite well; I think everyone appreciated the effort Patrick and Ken put into reaching out to the blogs to shore up support for Miers' nomination. They put on the best case, in positive terms, that the White House has made thus far. It's long overdue, and perhaps a harbinger of better thinking at the White House on the work needed for conservatives to accept Miers' confirmation. That said, I'm still less than impressed with Miers as a nominee. Ken and Patrick drove home the new message that nominees have to have two overriding qualities: the right philosophy and the right character. They argued that her track record in her pioneering...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

I'm With Stupid

That may be the only campaign slogan left for John Kerry as he picked up an endorsement for the 2008 Presidential campaign -- even though he hasn't declared whether he'll run again. Ted Kennedy has decided to volunteer as anchor for the Kerry bandwagon by declaring his support for his fellow Bostonian three years in advance: Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) said Wednesday he would back fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 even if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton also pursues a White House bid. "If he runs, I would support him," Kennedy told The Associated Press in an interview at his Boston office. While Kennedy has frequently entertained the New York senator and her husband, former President Clinton, he said his loyalty is to Kerry. Early polling shows Clinton and Kerry among the favorites for their party's nomination in 2008, but...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 13, 2005

Another Day, Another Flub From White House

It seems like the Bush White House has suddenly acquired a tin ear for politics over the past fortnight. Just weeks after Republican Senators angrily asserted that religion should have nothing to do with the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, the White House has openly embraced religion as a key qualification for the nomination of Harriet Miers, creating a new controversy for the new nominee: President Bush prompted criticism from the right and the left on Wednesday after he said White House officials had told conservative supporters about the religious beliefs of his latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet E. Miers, as part of an "outreach effort" to explain who she is. "People ask me why I picked Harriet Miers," Mr. Bush told reporters in the Oval Office. "They want to know Harriet Miers's background, they want to know as much as they possibly can before they form...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Another Katrina Media Myth Down The Drain

Remember the "toxic soup" that flooded New Orleans, the one that the media widely reported was so polluted that mere momentary exposure could burn the skin and create potentially mortal illness for Katrina victims? As with the widespread gunfire, rapes, and murders, the toxic soup turns out to be another media myth. The Washington Post reports that an extensive look at the floodwaters reveals that its composition appears equivalent to floodwaters anywhere else: The floodwater that covered New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was not unusually toxic and was "typical of storm water runoff in the region," according to a study published yesterday. Most of the gasoline-derived substances in the water evaporated quickly, and the bacteria from sewage also declined over time, the scientist leading the study said. The water's chief hazard was from metals that are potentially toxic to fish. However, no fish kills have been reported in Lake Pontchartrain,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Poor Bureaucrats Of Washington DC

The Washington DC Dept of Human Services tasked with assisting the poor of the nation's capital have apparently found an easy way to identify them -- they all work for the DHS. The Washington Times reports this morning that DHS employees account for half of all bonus money paid out by the city administration, where almost 400 employees took home a half-million in extra cash: The D.C. government employees tasked with providing care to the city's poor have taken home nearly half of the more than $1 million in bonus money awarded by the District during the first half of fiscal 2005. Nearly 400 employees in the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS) received approximately $479,000 in extra money in their paychecks from Oct. 1, 2004, to March 31, 2005, according to D.C. Office of Personnel records. ... During the past year, however, department officials have noted several improvements, including...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Painful Admission Of Progress At The Gray Lady

Part of the limited amount of enjoyment one gets from reading the New York Times editorial page comes from seeing how they acknowledge what should be celebrated as good news. During Republican administrations, that usually means a healthy dose of caveats, irrelevancies, and redirected credit intended on convincing people that the good news amounts to little more than potential bad news, and if it doesn't turn out badly, it all happened in spite of the Republicans in charge. Today's acknowledgement of the success in establishing a democratic political dynamic in Iraq provides a delightful case in point: It has been hard to make sense of America's involvement in Iraq for a long time now. Arguments that our soldiers are risking their lives to protect the United States from terrorism, or deadly weapons of mass destruction, have come to nothing. The only logical basis for staying the course has been the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

And I Thought Conservatives Were Going Nuts Over Miers

I had a back-to-reality moment this evening that I wanted to share with CQ readers tonight, and I haven't had a chance until now. Earlier this afternoon, I got a call from a New England radio station looking for a conservative commentator to discuss the Harriet Miers controversy. This talk show skews a bit liberal, I presume, but the producer and I have had a couple of great discussions on issues in the past and she and the show want to have an open forum for debate. So far, the timing hasn't worked out, but I hope to join them for a broadcast. Not tonight, though. We discussed the nomination and some of my concerns about the President's selection, and the producer kept pressing me for more. We got around to discussing George Bush's declaration that Miers' faith provided a reason for his selection, which I still think is a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Free Fall That Wasn't

Dan Froomkin wrote a breathless column for today's web edition of the Washington Post that should have been pulled. Instead, the Post allowed it to remain on the site with a buried nugget that negated the entire thrust of his article. Titled "A Polling Free-Fall Among Blacks", Froomkin related the findings of an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that supposedly gave George Bush a 2% approval rating among African-Americans: In what may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling, President Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The drop among blacks drove Bush's overall job approval ratings to an all-time low of 39 percent in this poll. By comparison, 45 percent of whites and 36 percent of Hispanics approve of the job Bush is doing. Given that George Bush got 9%...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 14, 2005

More On Miers' Character, But Nothing On Her Philosophy

One of the last places one would normally look to find a defense of a George Bush nominee to the Supreme Court is the New York Times. However, Matthew Scully, the author of Dominion and former speech writer for George Bush, writes a rather caustic and sarcastic defense of Harriet Miers in today's op-ed section. At least half of Scully's defense consists of his playing offense against the critics of Miers' nomination, and the other half seems rather off-topic: When you know Harriet Miers, it's funny to think of her as the subject of such controversy. Yet already her notoriety is such that even the most innocent of virtues can be thrown back at her as inadequate - "not even second-rate," as a National Review Online posting said, "but third-rate." She's a detail person. Diligent and dependable. Honest, kind, modest, devout and all that. A real mediocrity. Her qualities are...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

More Sunnis Accept Constitution And Pay An Immediate Price

The new agreement on the Iraqi constitution gained momentum in Sunni circles late yesterday on the eve of the plebescite for approving the bedrock law of the permanent government. The Sunni split had immediate consequences, as terrorists attacked the political offices of the latest Sunni party to endorse the new constitution for tomorrow's polling: A day after Iraq's parliament approved the final version of the country's draft constitution, and two days before Iraqis were to vote on it in a nationwide referendum, members of the Sunni Arab minority were as divided as their leaders Thursday over what to do: vote yes, vote no, or not vote at all. Since changes were still being made to the document as late as Tuesday night and no revised copies had been distributed, "I have no idea what the main benefits of the new constitution are," said Waad Shakir Mahmoud, 45, owner of a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Islamists Fail To Take Nalchik, American Media Fail To Recognize Enemy

The Washington Post reports that the "rebels" attacking Nalchik in a coordinated offensive yesterday and today have failed to hold any territory in the city and that Russian troops have taken the upper hand in the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria: Early Friday, Russian special forces stormed a police station in southern Russia where eight militants were holding five hostages. The hostages, including police officers, were freed and all eight militants were killed as they tried to flee in a van, Russian officials said. Around 8.30 a.m. local time Friday, another three gunmen were killed in a downtown Nalchik souvenir store where they had barricaded themselves with two hostages on Thursday. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that two hostages were freed. Russian officials said the militants in the store refused to talk to the security forces that had surrounded them. The exact death toll remains unclear, but may top 100...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

A Suggestion For Governor Pawlenty For MN Supreme Court

I listened to the Hugh Hewitt show last night when Hugh interviewed Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty about the opening for Chief Justice of our state Supreme Court. It turned into a reverse interview, of sorts, when Hugh threw his hat into the ring for the position. Of course, with Hugh's track record in constitutional law, numerous publications on the judiciary, and his status as an eminent professor, he would normally be an excellent candidate for the position -- but as the transcript shows, Governor Pawlenty wisely chose to treat his application a bit on the light-hearted side. I would like to ask the Governor to consider another candidate more seriously. Among our brethren, we have a candidate who has a broad public presence, a long history of courageous writing on judicial philosophy, and the humility and outlook necessary for this position. I refer to my friend and blogosphere associate Scott...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 15, 2005

The Marriage Encounter Weekend

I will be away this weekend, working on another Marriage Encounter retreat. We have 20 couples who are looking for a way to build their relationships and become closer to one another, and we appreciate your prayers and thoughts in support of our efforts. I will return to blogging as soon as I return on Sunday evening. In the meantime, please keep checking my blogroll for the latest activity on the finest of the blogosphere -- and keep a prayer line open for the Iraqi people as well. Lastly ... go Irish -- beat SC!! UPDATE: I was initially encouraged to find 22 comments about the Marriage Encounter, and then disappointed that a normally substantive poster decided to use it to issue a series of stupid posts about the supposed racism of Michelle Malkin, instead of using his own blog to do so. Those comments will be deleted, and the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 16, 2005

White House Wants A Do-Over On Miers

Time Magazine reports today that the White House recognizes that they have muffed the Harriet Miers nomination, and want a second chance to make a first impression. After having argued almost everything except a track record that would settle questions about why President Bush selected her over more obviously qualified candidates, the administration admits it screwed up and plans a new public argument for her confirmation: Get ready for a whole new Harriet. After a disastrous two weeks, White House officials say they hope to relaunch the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court by moving from what they call a "biographical phase" to an "accomplishment phase." In other words, stop debating her religion and personality and start focusing on her rsum as a pioneering female lawyer of the Southwest. "We got a little wrapped around the axle," an exhausted White House official said. "As the focus becomes less...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Iraqis Appear To Approve Constitution -- With Some Sunni Support

The Iraqis appear to have delivered a huge statement to the Zarqawi-led insurgency and naysayers around the world, convinced that the Iraqis would not accept democracy "imposed" on them. Even in areas where the AP describes turnout as lower than expected, it reported it in the high 50s, a showing that would receive favorable reviews for an American presidential election: Iraq's landmark constitution seemed assured of passage Sunday after initial results showed minority Sunni Arabs had fallen short in an effort to veto it at the polls. The apparent acceptance was a major step in the attempt to establish a democratic government that could lead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Opponents failed to secure the necessary two-thirds "no" vote in any three of Iraqi's 18 provinces, according to counts that local officials provided to The Associated Press. In the crucial central provinces with mixed ethnic and religious populations, enough...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Brother Hoagland Takes A Stand

Brother Kenneth Hoagland, the Marianist monk who serves as principal of the Catholic Kellenberg Memorial High School, has decided to cancel this year's prom rather than give passive acceptance to the debauchery that attends the dance of late. He defied parents who appeared more interested in enabling their children's exploration of sex, booze, and drugs than in teaching them how to conduct themselves ethically: Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland had heard all the stories about prom-night debauchery at his Long Island high school: Students putting down $10,000 to rent a party house in the Hamptons. Pre-prom cocktail parties followed by a trip to the dance in a liquor-loaded limo. Fathers chartering a boat for their children's late-night "booze cruise." Enough was enough, Hoagland said. So the principal of Kellenberg Memorial High School canceled the spring prom in a 2,000-word letter to parents this fall. "It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 17, 2005

BBC Reluctantly Reports On Chechen Islamists

Last week, I pointed out that the American media seemed intent on keeping their readers in the dark about the nature of the conflict in the Caucasus. Not one of the newspapers or broadcasters noting the attack on Nalchik ever mentioned the fact that the so-called Chechen "rebels" did not represent a nationalistic group of freedom-loving Chechens, but instead are Islamist terrorists at least loosely associated with al-Qaeda. The BBC reports today that the leader of this band of terrorists, Shamil Basayev, makes it pretty plain what kind of organization he runs in his statement of responsibility for the attack on Nalchik: In his statement on the Kavkaz Center website, which was couched in Islamic terms, Shamil Basayev said that 217 "mujahideen" had attacked Nalchik, targeting police stations and military installations as well as the airport. ... "Our losses were high because five days before the operation there was a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Gaza Pullout Gets More Diplomatic Interest

Ariel Sharon's surprise initiative to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip continues to pay dividends in Muslim political circles. The latest nation to indicate its eventual full diplomatic recognition of Israel is Afghanistan, where Hamid Karzai speaks openly about eventual recognition for the Jewish state: IN A further sign of Israel's peace dividend following the withdrawal from settlements in the Gaza Strip, the Afghan president, Hamed Karzai, said yesterday that his country would follow Pakistan's example of establishing formal contacts with the Jewish state. ... He added he would like to meet with Mr Sharon, saying there was no reason why he should not. In another sign of the withdrawal's positive effect on Arab-Israeli relations, Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, will travel to Tunisia next month, becoming the highest-ranking official from his country to visit the North African nation. The Scotsman thinks that the red-carpet welcome given Israeli ambassadors from...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Conservative Ire May Provoke Spending Cuts

In a development that will certainly please conservatives who look at the growth in federal government and wonder which party has won the past few elections, the House has begun to turn towards budget reductions and the reduction in federal growth that has long been the GOP standard. In fact, Operation Offset, launched by Rep. Mike Pence, has stirred interest largely due to Tom DeLay's contention that no further fat could be found in a federal budget that eats up a higher percentage of the nation's GDP than it ever did during WWII: Beginning this week, the House GOP lawmakers will take steps to cut as much as $50 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget for health care for the poor, food stamps and farm supports, as well as considering across-the-board cuts in other programs. Only last month, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and other GOP leaders quashed demands...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Huh?

The AP tries its hand at political analysis tonight, looking ahead three years to the Democratic primaries and the impact that the Iraq War will have on potential candidates. Despite the anti-war zealots taking John Kerry on their shoulders after his 'yea' vote on the Iraq resolution -- and despite the continued good news from the Iraqis -- Liz Sidoti thinks that supporting votes for the war resolution may torpedo presidential campaigns in 2008: Potential Democratic presidential candidates who voted to give President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq could face a political problem they supported a war that their party's rank-and-file now strongly view as a mistake. Their pro-war votes cast three years ago could haunt them as they seek early support among die-hard Democrats and gauge whether to launch formal candidacies for the party's 2008 presidential nomination. "For a lot of activists, this...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 18, 2005

Miers 2.0: Same Bugs, Less Features

The effort to roll out a new campaign in support of Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court fell far short of what the White House needs to get conservatives on its side. Instead of focusing on the nominee's credentials, the White House counsel wound up in a controversy over inconsistently discussing specific cases with specific senators and getting caught out by a presumably sympathetic Judiciary Committee member, while both left and right found new issues on which to base their criticism. According to Charles Schumer, Miers would not talk about specific cases like and (in his opinion) did not seem to know much about Supreme Court case law, in a conversation he called "unproductive": President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, won't be ready for a confirmation hearing November 7 because she "needs some time to learn" about landmark constitutional cases, Senator Schumer said yesterday. Mr. Schumer,...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Has The Conservative Movement Started To Crack?

One reads about the coming civil war among conservatives everywhere in the media these days -- how the Miers nomination has started an internecine squabble on the right that threatens to split the GOP, usually along secular/evangelical lines. Both the New York Times and Washington Post run feature articles on this topic today -- and both get the story essentially incorrect. The Times reports on the dismissal of an important conservative voice from a think-tank position in Dallas as a harbinger of civil war: In the latest sign of the deepening split among conservatives over how far to go in challenging President Bush, Bruce Bartlett, a Republican commentator who has been increasingly critical of the White House, was dismissed on Monday as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative research group based in Dallas. In a statement, the organization said the decision was made after...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Chewing On Straw In The Plame Case

One CQ reader, Maestro, wonders in another thread why I have not written very extensively about the Plame case over the past couple of weeks. My last post came on October 3rd, and I didn't bother even linking to the Judith Miller release and article last week. One reason for the lack of follow-up is simply practical; my schedule has grown increasingly difficult and my blogging time more limited. This past weekend went to Marriage Encounter, and work and family issues have created less of a window for blogging. However, I have to say that apart from reading Tom Maguire's excellent coverage of the rampant speculation about the case, I find very little there there about the Plame case right now. Most of the data out in the open has been there for weeks and months, and the only real news has been how little real news has come out...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Chalk It Up To A Costly Rehearsal

The city of Baltimore found itself in the same predicament that New York faced a few weeks ago -- a thinly-sourced but unsettlingly specific terrorist threat forced the city to decide whether to disrupt a major urban area and risk looking foolish, or ignore it and risk the deaths of hundreds of people, perhaps thousands. New York found out after snarling its subway system and causing perhaps millions of dollars in economic disruption that the threat turned out to be a hoax. Baltimore hasn't reached that conclusion yet, but the action they took turned out to either be completely effective or unnecessary: Federal agents were questioning "a couple" of people Tuesday in connection with a terror threat that prompted Baltimore authorities to temporarily close one of two downtown tunnels under Baltimore Harbor and restrict traffic through the other, U.S. officials said. The restrictions were put in place out of what...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Now Arguing On Behalf Of The Rebel Alliance ...

... is Judge Robert Bork, famed jurist, constitutional scholar, and the man whose mistreatment at the hands of Senate Democrats two decades ago spawned an eponymous political verb. Bork writes a scathing denunciation of the Bush administration and its approach to Supreme Court nominations in tomorrow's Opinion Journal, arguing that Bush could hardly have damaged the conservative movement more with the Miers nomination than if he intended to do so -- and Bork more than implies that Bush may well have had just that in mind: With a single stroke--the nomination of Harriet Miers--the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work--for liberals. ... Some moderate (i.e., lukewarm) conservatives admonish the rest of us to hold our fire until...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 19, 2005

Saddam On Trial

The first Arab leader ever to face a tribunal of the people he once led -- or, more accurately, oppressed -- began this morning with Saddam Hussein querulously demanding to make a statement and a reading from the Qu'ran. He refused to identify himself and defied the court's authority, claiming that the tribunal and the mechanism which empowered it is illegitimate. "Any Iraqi would know me," Saddam finally said, declaring himself the President of Iraq. His trial will likely feature many such outbursts, but the judge's patient scolding of Saddam for not following the rules shows that the tribunal has expected just such a strategy of obstruction and have prepared for it. The Iraqis has set the table for this trial very carefully, selecting a little-known but more easily presented case of mass murder as its first case against Saddam Hussein. The massacre of Dujail gives a wide scope to...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Anti-Abortion Stance Clarifies Miers Politics

A questionnaire filled out by Harriet Miers sixteen years ago show that her political approach to abortion supported the typical conservative position of opposition in most cases. The questionnaire, which Miers voluntarily provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, came from a pro-life group in Texas interested in her run for the Dallas City Council: Harriet E. Miers, the Supreme Court nominee, disclosed on Tuesday a 1989 survey in which she supported banning abortion except to protect the life of the pregnant woman. The disclosure alarmed abortion rights supporters but failed to assuage the concerns of some conservative Republicans. ... The 1989 survey, which Ms. Miers filled out for the anti-abortion group Texans United for Life when she was a candidate for the Dallas City Council, constituted the clearest indication yet of her personal views on abortion. It did not ask whether she believed that the Constitution protected a right to...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

US, France To Isolate Syria Over Hariri Assassination

The alliance of France and the US against Bashar Assad and the Syrian government continues at the UN, where the unlikely partnership will press the Security Council to force Syria to account for its role in the murder of Rafik Hariri: The United States and France are planning to introduce two U.N. resolutions next week aimed at holding Syria to account for meddling in Lebanon and for its alleged links to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, according to several sources close to the diplomacy. The moves would be the toughest international action ever taken against Syria and would be designed to further isolate President Bashar Assad, who for the first time is getting the cold shoulder from key Arab governments such as those in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Western envoys said. The impending actions will be "the perfect storm for Damascus," said a Western diplomat at...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Temples Of Our Times

My weekly column in the Daily Standard reviews the connection between the Minnesota Vikings' Love Boat cruise last week and the ongoing worship of self-obsession in American society: What temples do secular societies build? Lately in America, cities and states have increasingly found themselves funding and building vast offerings to professional athletes and the games they play, even though the owners and participants of these games make enough money to house themselves quite handsomely. Why do communities foot the bill for this, and what does it say about the people who support the practice? That question moved from a vague philosophical debate to practical and uncomfortable introspection for many in Minnesota last week. The Minnesota Vikings have long demanded a new venue in which to play their games--one funded by taxpayers and from which the proceeds almost exclusively support the privately-owned team. ... ACCORDING TO allegations aired in the local...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

A Vendetta Against Tony Shaffer?

Michelle Malkin noticed a speech by Rep. Curt Weldon, the Congressman who helped uncover Able Danger by finding team members brave enough to go public with their recollections of the program and its identification of the 9/11 hijackers over a year before the attacks. Now Weldon has gone on the rhetorical attack himself, angry at a DIA vendetta that he claims has been waged against Shaffer and the delay in public hearings on the Able Danger program: A vocal House Republican is calling for a new probe into what he says is a "witch-hunt" by defense officials against a Sept. 11 intelligence whistleblower. Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Penn., told United Press International that officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, had "conducted a deliberate campaign of character assassination" against the whistleblower, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer. How inept has the DIA been in its campaign against Shaffer? They...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 20, 2005

Richard Cohen For SCOTUS?

In a column that will surely generate much ire among his usual readers, Richard Cohen makes an almost-perfect argument for the reversal of Roe v Wade and the support of originalism in Supreme Court deliberations, showing that originalism does not limit its utility or its attractiveness to just conservatives. Cohen, while stating his pro-choice position clearly, writes that the 1973 decision has a "musty" feel about it, having its scientific reasoning frozen in amber and the conclusions which follow from it lacking intellectual support: If a Supreme Court ruling is going to affect so many people then it ought to rest on perfectly clear logic and up-to-date science. Roe , with its reliance on trimesters and viability, has a musty feel to it, and its argument about privacy raises more questions than it answers. For instance, if the right to an abortion is a matter of privacy then why, asked...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Mark Zaid Confirms Weldon

In an e-mailed response to a couple of quick questions I sent last night, Mark Zaid confirmed what Rep. Curt Weldon alleged in a floor speech and multiple media appearances last night about the DIA's treatment of LTC Tony Shaffer. Zaid, who has represented Shaffer during the Able Danger controversy, wrote the following (emphases mine): CQ: Have you heard that the DIA intends on firing Col. Shaffer? MZ: Of course Ed, I'm handling his security clearance issues. They have moved for his indefinite suspension without pay even before we have concluded his appeal. I have had other DIA clients facing the same appeal circumstances but DIA did not suspend them without pay, at least to the best of my recollection. CQ: Did they [DIA] send him classified documents mixed in with his personal effects? MZ: They did send him classified documents and govt property. In fact, they sent the boxes...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Still Stumbling Towards SCOTUS (Proportionally Updated!)

The Harriet Miers nomination and political support campaign continued its clumsy path yesterday, with her questionnaire responses receiving failing grades from Judiciary Committee members of both parties. Chair Arlen Specter and ranking Democrat Pat Leahy held a press conference yesterday to castigate the effort as at best incomplete, and at worst an insult to their intelligence: The top two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday complained about the written responses they received from Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers this week, and warned her to expect tough questions from Republicans and Democrats alike when her confirmation hearing begins Nov. 7. Barely concealing their irritation during a 35-minute news conference at the Capitol, Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) called the lobbying on Miers's behalf "chaotic," and said the answers she provided Monday to a lengthy questionnaire were inadequate. "The comments I have heard range from...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Care Bear Slippers?

Happy birthday to Michelle Malkin from the First Mate and I! I'm worried about her, though. If she starts blogging in those slippers, she might start being too nice to people like Al Franken, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean ... Naaahhhh....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Zarqawi's Moneyman Gets Pinched In Baghdad (Updated!)

Fox News reports this morning that Iraqi security forces have arrested a nephew of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Yasir Sabawi Ibrahim, after the Syrians kicked him out of their country earlier this month. The Iraqis say that Ibrahim ran the money end of the Iraqi insurgency as well as contributed to the Zarqawi network's funding, and served as a chief liaison between the two organizations: Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim (search), son of Saddam's half brother Sabhawi Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, was arrested in a Baghdad apartment, several days after Syrian authorities forced him to return to Iraq, the officials told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Cairo. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to deal with the media. One of the officials, who works as a coordinator between Iraqi authorities and U.S. military intelligence, described the purported financier as the most dangerous man in the urgency....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Final Act Of Miers Nomination Begins

CQ reader Tom Holsinger notes a key development in the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court, one that probably will signal a merciful end to the conservative split over the controversial selection. Two key Republican Senators, the conservative Sam Brownback and the more moderate Lindsay Graham, have "requested" privileged material from Miers' work with George Bush for their review as a condition of their desired support of Miers' confirmation -- a request that amounts to a polite triple-dog dare: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) are calling for the White House to turn over internal documents related to Supreme Court nominee Harriet Mierss service as White House counsel, breaking with Republican colleagues who say the boundaries of executive privilege must not be pushed. ... Grahams and Brownbacks push for greater disclosure will give Democrats political leverage should they ask for memos and other documents shedding light on...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

An Insider's Look At The DIA

After the DIA has decided to run a smear campaign on LTC Tony Shaffer and to destroy his credibility, apparently for his revelations about Able Danger, the credibility of the agency itself has come under serious question. A CQ reader wishing to remain anonymous but with personal knowledge of the situation the Defense Intelligence Agency sends this description of the senior leadership at the agency: Deputy Director of DIA is Mark Ewing. He won't be in that position for very long, seeing as how he recently put in his paperwork to resign. This action comes after he had a spat with the outgoing director, Admiral Lowell Jacoby, the subject of which is not clear ... there is the recent revelation that Ewing may very well have pulled a three-monkeys trick (see/hear/speak no evil) when presented with the findings of Able Danger. As the senior leadership exodus at DIA continues (see...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 21, 2005

Wisconsin Voter Fraud Gets Congressional Attention

The widespread allegations of voter fraud in Wisconsin from last year's presidential election, the level of which may have fraudulently pushed the state into John Kerry's Electoral College column, will finally receive some attention from Congress. Greg Borowski reported on Wednesday that the House Administration Committee would come to Milwaukee to hear from witnesses. However, one member of the delegation has some eyebrows raised (h/t: CQ reader A Guy In Wisconsin): The meeting of the House Administration Committee, which oversees election issues, will put the state's election system under a potentially powerful microscope. But the visit was criticized Tuesday amid questions about whether any Democratic members would attend. There also were questions about the witness list, heavy with Republicans and - for now - without Milwaukee representation. The committee chairman, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), said Tuesday that he was told Rep. Gwen Moore, a Milwaukee Democrat, would be sitting in....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Wisconsin Governor Faces Bipartisan Probe On Contract Award

A travel-services contract awarded to a hefty financial contributor to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has triggered a joint state/federal investigation into potential bribery charges, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports this morning: Federal, state and Dane County authorities have launched a joint investigation into a travel contract given to the company of a major contributor to Gov. Jim Doyle, officials said Thursday. ... In March, Adelman Travel was awarded a three-year contract with the state worth up to $250,000 a year. Before and after bids were solicited and the contract awarded, the firm's owner, Craig B. Adelman, gave the $10,000 maximum allowed to Doyle's re-election campaign. A competing company, Omega World Travel of Fairfax, Va., led the bidding at one point in the process. But state officials said both bids were so close that they asked for head-to-head final prices - and Adelman won that competition. Also, a member of Adelman Travel's...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Syria Knew About Hariri Assassination Plan: UN

The UN report into the assassination of Rafik Hariri accuses Syria's Assad dictatorship of knowledge of the plot before its execution, and also points a finger at long-time Syrian stooge Emile Lahoud, the current president of Lebanon. Lebanese officials expect the findings to cause some uproar in Beirut and have already deployed security forces to keep the peace: Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated with the full knowledge of Syrian security officials and their Lebanese allies, according to a U.N. report that also casts suspicion on Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. ... Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier this week denied that Damascus had any connection to the assassination. But the report paints a detailed portrait of involvement by senior members of Syria's security and political apparatus and will give weight to efforts by Washington, Paris and London to sanction Syria in the U.N. Security Council. The U.N. investigation notes...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Bad News Turns Into Flood On Miers

This morning's news has administration aides choking on their morning coffee regarding the Harriet Miers nomination. While the Wall Street Journal comes out in opposition to her confirmation and urges withdrawal, the New York Sun reports that a senior Republican Senator has already passed that same message to the White House, which angrily dismissed the feedback. Meanwhile, John Fund reports that Miers' work at the Texas Lottery Commission will bring up several uncomfortable details about a sweetheart golden parachute for Ben Barnes after his firm lost a TLC contract under questionable circumstances -- and new reports have come out showing that George Bush paid a hell of a lot of money for Miers' services at about that same time. First, Brian McGuire at the Sun reports that the Senate GOP caucus may already be balking at proceeding with the Miers nomination: The Supreme Court nomination of White House counsel Harriet...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Coming Unhinged On A Friday Night

After a stressful week at work and on the blog, I came home this evening to a pleasant surprise. My copy of Michelle Malkin's new book, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, arrived in the mail today. I'd normally take a quick read through the book and write a review for the blog, but I've already had the privilege of reading it ahead of time during one of Michelle's final draft stages. She has put together quite a list of nutcase eruptions from the far Left, and sometimes even the nearer Left as well. (I read the book and offered a scant few suggestions for edits, none of them particularly momentous, and Michelle very graciously thanks me in the Acknowledgments section.) Those who enjoy Michelle's blog and her efforts during the past election to ensure that the excesses of the lunatic fringe of Air America, Howard Dean, MoveOn, International ANSWER, and...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 22, 2005

How Keeping $50 Could Save Your Sanity

God bless the New York Times Editorial Board and their new $50 Firewall of Sanity. The new paid service called Times Select keeps compulsive readers like me from accidentally reading Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, and other nonsense routinely featured in the Paper of Record. Whenever I read the RSS headers from the locked-out articles from these "stars" of punditry, it gladdens my heart to know that the Times has found it necessary to give us a $50 excuse not to pay attention to them. Today's Dowd column provides an excellent example of this dynamic. Her column, titled "Woman of Mass Destruction", gets this one-line summary: Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, Judy Miller was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. Excuse me, but Maureen Dowd wrote this about Judy Miller? With Dowd's deliberate...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Is Miers A Quota Queen, Or Just Misquoted?

Today's Washington Post alleges that Harriet Miers pushed for racial and gender set-asides in her role as president of the Texas State Bar, complete with the kind of specific numerical goals to which conservatives object as quota systems. Coming so soon after the unfortunate and sloppy choice of phrasing in her Senate questionnaire, it makes it sound as if Miers might be closer to Lani Guinier than Sandra Day O'Connor on the question of affirmative action -- and neither would make the GOP base happy at all. However, the White House quickly pointed out that Miers did not generate this policy of the Texas Bar, nor did this have any implication of a government mandate. As such, the White House implies that it represents the kind of private-enterprise, voluntary approach to improving diversity it supports. So which should we believe -- Quota Queen, or just misquoted? Miers, the first female...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Abu Mazen, The Man Of Peace?

President Bush offered a strange endorsement to the beleaguered Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in a little-noticed Rose Garden address this week. Two who did notice are Scott Johnson at Power Line and Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal, and both take exception to the characterization. Bush's assertion that the terrorist formerly known as Abu Mazen -- the man behind such atrocities as Black September, the kidnapping and murder of Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972 -- is a "man devoted to peace" in the same week that gunmen from his own Fatah faction are believed to have murdered two PA policemen responding to a coffeeshop argument sounds seriously out of touch with reality. As Stephens explains, the culture of violence has helped to create the Palestinian Authority as we know it, and Abbas' leadership of the autocracy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (such as it is, under the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Captain's Caption Contest: The Saddam Special (Update And Bump!)

It's been a long time since we've had a Captain's Caption Contest -- I got focused on more serious work, and had a heck of a time finding guest judges. However, we have a special occasion to celebrate at this time. It's a coming-out party of sorts, a kind of Genocidal Madman Debutante Ball. In fact, for those lucky enough to catch the trial of Saddam Hussein live this morning, we even got to see Uncle Saddy dancing with his guards for a moment, before he gave them a go-hither stare. Thanks to a suggestion from long-time loyal reader Peyton Randolph, we're going to have a blast from the past and do a Caption Contest just like in the old days. Here to explain the rules is Uncle Saddy himself: Enter your caption in the Comments section only. If you e-mail it ... then I kill you. Enter as often...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today

I'll be on the air with the Northern Alliance Radio Network this afternoon, noon to 3 pm CT. We'll be discussing the Miers nomination, the Coburn amendment, and many many more topics. Join us on the stream if you're outside of the Twin Cities at AM 1280 The Patriot, and get into the conversation at 651-289-4488. We'll be waiting for you!...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

On The Nature Of Criticism

One of the themes that I see repeated in the blogosphere and in comments here on Miers, Abbas, and other threads here at CQ is that criticism of specific points of policy equates to a threat against the Administration. I can understand why people feel like this, especially on the Right; we have advanced our agenda by remaining remarkably united since 1994. That kind of unity has allowed us to make great electoral strides, gaining control of both houses of Congress and two terms in the White House, not easily done in during the times we have faced over the last decade. George Bush, in my opinion, has performed magnificently on a broad range of issues, including the judiciary. He has prosecuted the war on terror using the forward strategy of military engagement on the home turf of the terrorists rather than the United States. He has used that as...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Was Snell Gorelick's Staffer?

Newsmax has an accusation from Rep. Curt Weldon that the 9/11 Commission staffer that ignored Captain Scott Philpott in June 2004 and his information on Able Danger was Dietrich Dieter Snell, one of the Commission's senior staffers. However, Weldon also asserts that Snell worked for Gorelick, presumably at the Department of Justice: An aide to former Clinton Justice Department official Jamie Gorelick blocked the 9/11 Commission from hearing bombshell testimony about the findings of the elite Able Danger military intelligence team, Rep. Curt Weldon said late Friday. "The person who debriefed [Able Danger analyst] Scott Philpot was, in fact, the lead staffer for Jamie Gorelick," Weldon told the Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes." "His name was Dieter Snell." Weldon contended: "It was Dieter Snell who did not brief the 9/11 Commission. The 9/11 Commissioners were never briefed on Able Danger." The implication, of course, is that Snell blocked the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 23, 2005

Another Katrina Myth Explodes

In the aftermath of the hysterical ranting of the news media during the Katrina coverage, we have found a number of memes that have collapsed when seriously examined: rampant rapes, cannibalism, and the toxic flood that kills by its very touch. Now we can add to that the virulent race- and class-baiting that claimed from almost the moment the levees broke that poor blacks got left to die while the rich strolled out of the Big Easy: The city's two worst-hit neighborhoods, the data show, were the Lower Ninth Ward, the predominantly black, working-class community east of the French Quarter, and Gentilly, a fast-gentrifying area where homeownership rates among middle-class blacks had been rising before the storm. Each neighborhood accounted for 31 to 75 deaths, according to the mapping data, which assigned a range of deaths for each region of the city, rather than an exact figure. More surprising were...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Live Blogging The Vikings - Packers Game

I thought it might be fascinating to live-blog a grudge match between two 1-4 teams that coincidentally find themselves only a game out of first place in the worst division in professional aports. This is usually a terrific game, one that generates a tremendous amount of spirit and energy in the Twin Cities. Not this year; the Vikings Love Boat Cruise has taken what little wind the fans had out of their sails. 12:37 - I start watching the game; I figured I'd emulate both teams and take the first quarter off. The score is 0-0, so I obviously made the right choice. 12:40 - Ferguson makes a great catch for the Pack, and hyperextends his knee coming down. I don't think he'll be coming back; it really looks bad on the replay. 12:41 - Oh, look -- the Vike defense just gave up a TD to Favre. What a...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

My, We're A Welcoming People

After 9/11, we asked ourselves how nineteen Islamofascist terrorists could have made their way into the United States and infiltrated our society. We found out that our visa system had so many holes in it that we could not begin to guess how many more may have set up residence in America, just waiting to attack us from within. Sixteen of these terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, the last three of which didn't even need to go to an American facility to get their visas; instead they received the key documents from their travel agents under the Visa Express system. After 9/11, we demanded an end to such programs, especially with Saudi Arabia, which supplies an inordinate amount of the Islamist radicals to the al-Qaeda cause. This supposedly has been the American policy since the attacks, and as far as any public statements, that policy has never been reversed. Or...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Big Thanks To Canadian CQ Readers

I want to thank the many Canadian readers who participated in Kate's poll at Small Dead Animals, one of the best Canadian blogs in the 'sphere, who voted CQ as Best American Blog, Best American Political Blog, and my first Gomery post, "Canadian Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open," as Best Blog Post. Steve J at Angry in the Great White North won in three categories as well, most deservedly, including Best Canadian Blog. CQ readers make this possible, and I thank you for your continued contributions to our community....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 24, 2005

Caption Contest Winners!

Uncle Saddy wants to send his appreciation for the 228 entries he got for his saucy little pose in CQ's special Caption Contest. He wants to assure all of you that he appreciates your tongue-in-cheek jokes about his present situation ... although he did mention something about removing your tongues from your cheeks if he "ever gets out of this *&^%^% place," or words to that effect. Knowing what a fair kind of guy Uncle Saddy is, I'm sure he'd like to visit each of you personally, but Peyton Randolph has selected the ones who will be at the top of his list. Just think -- the winners could find this on their doorstep one day, ringing their bell: Without further ado, here are Peyton's picks: Best Political Link: I'm innocent, I tell you. At the time those crimes were committed, I was at a Kinko's in Abilene, sending some...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Levee Design Fatally Flawed, Teams Agree

Three teams of engineers studying the collapse of the New Orleans levee system agree that the design and construction of the protective girdle around Lake Pontchartrain caused the catastrophic flooding after Katrina passed through the city, and not the storm itself. Katrina only had Category-3 status when it hit the city, and the Army Corps of Engineers reported that the levees could withstand a hit of that magnitude, leading state and federal workers stunned when the walls collapsed anyway: Investigators in recent days have assembled evidence implicating design flaws in the failures of two floodwalls near Lake Pontchartrain that collapsed when weakened soils beneath them became saturated and began to slide. They also have confirmed that a little-used navigation canal helped amplify and intensify Katrina's initial surge, contributing to a third floodwall collapse on the east side of town. The walls and navigation canal were built by the U.S. Army...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

A Moment Of Clarity

Fifteen votes out of a hundred. I haven't written much about the failure of the Coburn Amendment until today, although it has been the topic of some excellent writing in the blogosphere. Start with Mark Tapscott and work your way outward. The only demand that Tom Coburn made of his fellow Senators was to redirect a couple of pork projects from a list of 14,000 towards the rebuilding of New Orleans, rather than go out and look for new revenues -- in other words, new taxes. What happened when Coburn asked this sacrifice of the Upper Chamber? Hissy fits and threats. As John at Power Line remarked to me in a conversation, whenever Patty Murray and Ted Stevens find themselves on the same side of an issue, the only thing that it can be about is money. Murray stood up and threatened any Senator who dared to vote to kill...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Andy Card, "Serial Souterizer"

John Fund notes a couple of surprising revelations ahout the Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court in his recap of the lessons that should be learned from the damaging nomination. Most interesting is Fund's connection between the Miers bid and that of David Souter, with the conjunction being Andy Card: The botched handling of the Kerik nomination was a precursor of much that has gone wrong with the Miers nomination. This time, the normal vetting process broke down, with Mr. Card ordering William Kelley, Ms. Miers's own deputy, to conduct the background checks--a clear conflict of interest. ... Another reason for conservative suspicion is that it was Mr. Card, a former moderate Massachusetts state legislator, who pushed the Miers choice. "This is something that Andy and the president cooked up," a White House adviser told Time magazine. "Andy knew it would appeal to the president because he loves appointing...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

What To Ask Miers?

Dafydd ab Hugh issues a challenge to the blogosphere, calling on bloggers from all sides of the Harriet Miers nomination to come up with questions for Miers' confirmation hearings. I think this is an excellent idea, especially for those who continue to view this nomination with skepticism. What questions would relieve our doubts? What kind of answers would confirm them? I'll start off with a couple that address my reservations with Miers as a Supreme Court candidate. I may add to this as I think through the challenge a bit more, so keep checking back for updates. As the chief executive officer of a state agency, you once endorsed set-asides as a means of affirmative action. Do you still believe in that remedy as a Constitutional method of achieving diversity? Do you think that the Constitution addresses the concept of "diversity" as an overriding state concern? This really has been...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Galloway Falls Into Perjury Trap

After appearing before a Senate panel earlier this year, British politician George Galloway boasted that he had cleaned the floor with Senator Norm Coleman during a debate on the Oil-for-Food program. Now it appears that the banty Scot should have simply kept his mouth shut, as witnesses have appeared to contradict his testimony and corroborate evidence that Galloway took kickbacks and bribes from Saddam Hussein in the months before the invasion of Iraq: An anti-war British lawmaker gave false testimony to Congress when he denied receiving U.N. oil-for-food allocations from deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a Senate investigative panel said Monday. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., chairman of the subcommittee, and his investigators presented evidence that they say shows British lawmaker George Galloway's political organization and his wife received nearly $600,000 from the oil allocations. ... Coleman, a critic of the United Nations, said his panel's evidence shows that Galloway personally...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 25, 2005

March To War Had More Than Miller For A Drumbeat

Reading the news about Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame these days, one would come away thinking that if not for Judith Miller, the United States would never have gone to war with Iraq in 2003. The New York Times reporter gets routinely pilloried for her close ties to administration officials and the way they supposedly used her to put false stories into the mainstream media. She gets almost no credit or sympathy from her own industry for spending three months in jail for defending a principle that all of them see as critical to their profession, that of the protection of confidential sources as key to a free press. Instead, people at her own paper (who have their own legitimacy and truthfulness issues) call her names and sneer at her work. However, Robert Kagan reminds Washington Post readers that Miller hardly started the WMD-in-Iraq reporting. In fact, that theme began...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Will Bush Take The Honorable Option Out Of Miers Fiasco?

George Bush appeared to go out of his way yesterday to address the issue of executive privilege and the Harriet Miers confirmation hearings, setting up a contest of wills between the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee over her nomination. It could mean that Bush intends to push Miers through while revealing almost nothing about her work at the White House, which he has claimed as the major qualifications for her selection. It might also reveal that Bush wants to keep open the option for an honorable withdrawal: President Bush refused on Monday to turn over documents requested by Republicans and Democrats related to Harriet E. Miers's work in the White House, setting up a potential confrontation with the Senate Judiciary Committee over her confirmation to the Supreme Court. "It's a red line I'm not willing to cross," Mr. Bush told reporters after a cabinet meeting, referring to the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Will Gray Lady's Attacks On Miller Stop Indictments?

Josh Gersten at the New York Sun reports today that the ongoing attacks on the credibility of Judith Miller at her own newspaper may have an unintended, ironic effect on the grand jury investigation headed by Patrick Fitzgerald. Given that her testimony and writing has been central to the efforts to tie Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to an alleged conspiracy to discredit Joseph Wilson, the continued disparagement of her truthfulness might well result in an inability to use her in support of any prosecution: Attorneys closely following the case said the sharp criticism Ms. Miller has received from her editors and colleagues may discourage the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, from bringing perjury charges against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby. According to Ms. Miller and others who have testified before the grand jury investigating the leak, Mr. Fitzgerald has shown significant interest in whether Mr....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Iraq Constitution Passes

The Iraqi people select their constitution via direct democracy -- the first Arabic people to do so in a free and fair election: Iraq's landmark constitution was adopted by a majority of voters during the country's Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday. Results released by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq showed that Sunni Arabs, who had sharply opposed the draft document, failed to produce the two-thirds ``no'' vote they would have needed in at least three of Iraq's 18 provinces to defeat it. Nationwide, 78.59 percent voted for the charter while 21.41 percent voted against, the commission said. The charter required a simple majority nationwide with the provision that if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces rejected it, the constitution would be defeated. More Iraqis voted in this second election since the fall of...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Thank You, SD41

I want to pass my thanks along to the Republicans of Senate District 41, who invited me to speak at their monthly meeting tonight. After treating me to a lovely dinner and meeting State Senator Geoff Michel, I had the opportunity to talk about blogging, politics, the media, and the intersection of all three in the coming election cycles. I met many new friends there like the two Tonys and Jerry, as well as old friends such as Laura and Ken. Brien Martin wrote up a nice blurb about the event in their newsletter announcement earlier, and I understand they will review the evening's festivities in their next one. Here's my review: I had a blast talking with real grass-roots, politically involved Republicans who have enthusiasm for their political goals and beliefs. With luck, I'll be able to do it again sometime soon....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 26, 2005

Lindsay Graham And Mike DeWine, Super Geniuses

Senators Lindsay Graham and Mike DeWine should learn from the well-worn proverb that instructs one to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool rather than open it and remove all doubt. Yesterday, in defending Harriet Miers from the growing opposition against her confirmation within the GOP, both claimed that the grass-roots effort to publicize their disapproval would only have the opposite effect on Republican Senators -- because apparently voters have now become a "special interest": Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said that if Ms. Miers withdrew now she would only hurt Republican senators who are uneasy about her nomination. It would suggest that special interest groups control the nomination process, he said. Mr. Graham said the nominee can't withdraw for this reason alone and that the hearings will go forward as planned. "If she withdraws, that means that we, the party and the president, have given in...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Steele For Senate

As expected, Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele announced yesterday that he will run for the US Senate seat left open by the retirement of Democrat Paul Sarbanes. In a speech given little attention by the media, Steele highlighted his personal success story as a motivator for his efforts in politics: Steele, 47, launched his campaign Tuesday with a 20-minute speech, evoking lessons he learned growing up in a poor household that he said was "rich in turning hope into action." I think Steele has a big future in the GOP, but he has to win this race to fully realize it. His ability to command an audience, combined with his relaxed and warm public persona and grasp of public policy show flashes of both Ronald Reagan and freshman Senator Norm Coleman. Kweisi Mfume may not admit it, but Steele could certainly peel enough of the African-American vote to make the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Iran Calls For Terrorism

Iran's new president and nominal head of state has wasted no time in publicly supporting terror. He made an explicit call for attacks on Israel as part of his address to an Islamic forum in Teheran today, calling into question whether the time may have come for stronger measures to eliminate the threat coming from the Islamic Republic's mullahcracy: Irans hard-line president called for Israel to be wiped off the map and said a new wave of Palestinian attacks will destroy the Jewish state, state-run media reported Wednesday. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also denounced attempts to recognize Israel or normalize relations with it. There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world, Ahmadinejad told students Wednesday during a Tehran conference called The World without Zionism. Ahmadinejad wants to touch off yet another intifada, which shows how...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Do Conservatives Know How To Dissent?

My Daily Standard column, "Family Squabbles", addresses the Harriet Miers debate and the vicious tone it has taken in the conservative punditry and blogosphere. I ask the questions: have we paid too much for our unity, and has our disinclination to engage in vigorous debate on policy created such a harbor of resentment that we can no longer disagree agreeably even among fellow conservatives? If we are to govern in the majority, we had better learn how to handle ourselves better when our interests conflict. We got to this position of controlling the levers of power through the efforts of people like Hugh Hewitt, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, George Bush, Ken Mehlman, Tom DeLay, and the various bloggers and grassroots organizers weighing in on vital policy issues every day. Calling each other "pimps", "shills", "hysterics", and other names may make for memorable rhetoric but it will undermine our own credibility...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

That Didn't Take Long

One could easily predict that nutcases on the far Left would start peppering the Michael Steele campaign with increasingly personal attacks, thanks to his status as a conservative African-American. However, this must represent a world record reaction time, even for the lunatic Left. Steve Gilliard, who runs the News Blog, has a new post called "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house," an echo of the oft-tossed 'house slave' epithet that black conservatives get. Gilliard includes a photo-shopped image of Steele depicting him in minstrel-show blackface. Gilliard excuses this racist imagery as acceptable given his own status as an African-American leftist. Disgusting is disgusting, regardless of whoever puts it up on their web site. All this proves is that racism has many faces, including those who insist that people of a particular ethicity must all think alike in order to be "authentic". I doubt that Gilliard will feel...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

I'm Moving Off The Fence

I took what little time at work (on my lunch break) that I could to read through the speech given by Harriet Miers to the Executive Women of Dallas in 1993, and wound up re-reading three more times tonight. I would encourage everyone to read this speech carefully, as it sheds quite a bit of light onto the skills and outlook of the nominee selected by George Bush. It's quite unsettling. The first quality that comes across when I read this speech is its mediocrity. I assume Miers wrote it herself, because no one would pay for something written this poorly, just on a mechanical level. It's full of incomplete sentences, poor grammar, conjugation errors, and the like. I understand that this isn't an essay for print, but it is a speech that was written in a format for verbatim delivery. "I think the last week of the Senatorial Ads...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 27, 2005

What Victory Against Terror Looks Like

The Sunnis of Iraq have increasingly decided that the time has come to enter the political process and to give up violence as a means of political change, the Washington Post reports this morning. Ghath Abdul-Ahad follows the path of a former Ba'athist insurgent, Abu Theeb ("Father of the Wolf") as he transforms himself into somewhat of an evangelist for democracy: For weeks before Iraq's constitutional referendum this month, Iraqi guerrilla Abu Theeb traveled the countryside just north of Baghdad, stopping at as many Sunni Arab houses and villages as he could. Each time, his message to the farmers and tradesmen he met was the same: Members of the disgruntled Sunni minority should register to vote -- and vote against the constitution. "It is a new jihad," said Abu Theeb, a nom de guerre that means Father of the Wolf, addressing a young nephew one night before the vote. "There...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Gray Lady Likes A Quagmire When The UN Is In Charge

In a strange editorial this morning, the same New York Times editorial board that has consistently demanded a withdrawal of America from a supposed quagmire in Iraq apparently wants to continue one in Kosovo. The Times decries the idea of settling the open question of the province's final status before the Kosovars demonstrate their ability for self-government -- and want to continue the same kind of Western occupation that it supposedly finds so objectionable in Iraq: We have argued that Kosovo is neither prepared for nor deserving of independence. Its Albanian majority has shown no tolerance toward the Serbian minority and little capacity for self-government. Kosovo has no army, only a fledgling police force and powerful mafias. ... The Security Council would be foolish to use the Ahtisaari mission to extract itself from a bad situation as soon as possible. Even with the best of intentions, an independent Kosovo will...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Signs Of The End For The Miers Nomination?

Two overnight developments in the embattled Harriet Miers nomination point towards either the collapse of the effort to confirm Miers or a politically devastating siege mentality at the White House. First, the New York Sun reports that at least two GOP Senators will announce their opposition to Miers based on the speeches released earlier this week if the Bush administration refuses to withdraw her nomination. The Washington Times also reports that a key figure that had been working to support the PR campaign for Miers has suddenly quit to return to the Federalist Society, which Miers once disparaged and which has remained absolutely silent on her nomination. Brian McGuire reports that the Miers speech to the Executive Women of Dallas has forced conservative Republicans in the Senate to consider her confirmation as an unnecessary gamble: The two speeches, first reported late Tuesday by the Washington Post, angered conservative groups that...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

White Sox End Curse, Win Series

Baseball has its second curse-ending World Series in a row in another sweep. This year's newly-unjinxed champs are the Chicago White Sox, who had not won a championship since the unmasking of the most notorious gambling scandal of all professional sports in 1919: It was the third title for the White Sox, following wins in 1906 and 1917. And it was the first since "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and the "Black Sox" threw the 1919 Series against Cincinnati. In the Windy City, where the Cubs have long been king, Chicago's South Side team for once trumped its North Side rival, no small feat for the Sox. Congratulations to the White Sox for an excellent season and decades of perseverance. When the Cubs win the World Series, however, we will all be consulting the Book of Revelation to start looking for the signs of the impending Apocalypse....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Send Miers To The Floor, If She Dares

Hugh Hewitt has brought out another argument for supporting Harriet Miers this morning -- that conservative calls for Miers' withdrawal will undercut efforts to bring later nominees to a full floor vote: Now, however, a big slice of conservative punditry has decioded that the long march back isn't worth the risk that Harriet Miers isn't who the president and her close associates say she is. On the basis of a very thin set of papers --some of them distorted, and all of them cherry-picked-- and with an absolute refusal to entertain any of the many arguments and testimonies on her behalf, this caucus has seized on the very tactics most conservatives have long denounced in order to do what? To deny Harriet Miers a hearing and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. That's absurd. No one recommends "denying" her a floor vote. In my post, I specifically say she...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Krauthammer Option Wins Out

Miers withdraws her nomination, and the President "reluctantly" accepts: Confronted with criticism from both the left and right, Harriet Miers on Thursday withdrew her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a statement, President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. Bush blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege. The face-saving withdrawal option presented by Sam Brownback and Linsday Graham took only a matter of days to get recognized by the White House. Good for them. It won't save them from some criticism, but it will make this into the nine-day wonder it should always have been. Now can we nominate a candidate whose qualities and track record presumes we control the Senate?...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

No Time For Celebration

No conservative or Republican should feel like gloating over the withdrawal of Harriet Miers today, although perhaps a feeling of relief would be understandable. Bush made a mistake in nominating Miers, but it wasn't Miers' mistake -- and she acted honorably in withdrawing her name once it became clear that her nomination enjoyed little support among Republicans in the Senate and elsewhere. She apparently will remain on Bush's staff as White House counsel, which is where she should have stayed. On the other hand, let's also not engage in sniping at each other further now that the Miers nomination has ended. We need to focus on the nomination ahead, and how best to engage the full Senate caucus to line up behind a candidate that reflects GOP control of the Senate. That requires not just a demonstrably originalist thinker who can help transform the Court from its activist impulses and...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

CQ Media Notes

I will do two interviews tonight on the Harriet Miers withdrawal, among other things. The first will be with Open Source around 6 PM CT, or thereabouts. The second will be with Rob Breckenridge on CHQR's The World Tonight at 8 pm CT. Both should be lively -- I'm new to Open Source, but I will be joined by Glenn Reynolds, Paul Mirengoff, Arianna Huffington, and Megan McArdle. I've appeared several times on Rob's show and enjoyed it every time. Be sure to tune in. UPDATE: If you want to call in to Open Source, the phone number is 877-673-6767. UPDATE II: Open Source's producers and host made this a very pleasant experience. Christopher Lydon obviously comes from a completely different perspective, but he treats his guests with respect and encourages intelligent debate. I enjoyed the conversation, and listened to the entire hour with considerable interest. I thought everyone got...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Danish Plot Uncovered -- Has Bosnian Ties

Denmark arrested four Muslims tonight in an investigation of planned suicide bombings in Europe -- a plot that has ties to Islamofascists in Bosnia. The Danes rounded up over two dozen people as part of the conspiracy, but only kept the four in custody: Police arrested four Danish Muslims Thursday on suspicion of belonging to a terror network planning a suicide attack in Europe, officials said. The suspects, all males between 16 and 20 years old, were ordered held in jail while police investigate the allegations, police spokesman Joern Bro said. He said at a news conference that the network had planned to carry out the suicide attack in Europe. "It seems the plan was going into a closing phase," said Bro, declining to provide further details. The Danes linked this investigation to an unnamed Balkans ring of terrorists; the arrest of three other terrorists in Sarajevo appears more than...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 28, 2005

The Fitzmas That Fizzled?

The Left has spent the last two weeks crowing about "Fitzmas" -- the day special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald climbs down the chimney of good little Leftist boys and girls and leaves copies of indictments against Bush administration officials. Since Fitzgerald's grand jury expires today, I imagine a number of these hopeful dreamers spent at least last night with very little REM sleep. Unfortunately, if the New York Times has its story correct, they may find themselves sorely disappointed. It looks like only I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will get served today: Associates of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, expected an indictment on Friday charging him with making false statements to the grand jury in the C.I.A. leak inquiry, lawyers in the case said Thursday. Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Why Miers Tanked

We need to set the record straight on why the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court failed. This failure didn't start with David Frum putting together an ad-hoc committee to pay for television advertising, and it didn't start with the blogosphere opining on Harriet Miers' birthday-card greetings. It started in the White House, where another poor job of vetting a candidate came back to bite the Bush administration -- not for the first time in this term. The White House selection process that produced Miers can be boiled down to one sentence: Bush liked her, and no one bothered to check her out properly. The Washington Post has more: For Harriet Miers, the "murder boards" were aptly named. Day after day in a room in the Justice Department, colleagues from the Bush administration grilled her on constitutional law, her legal background and her past speeches in practice sessions...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Ahmadinejad Responds, 'And The Horse You Rode In On'

Newly-appointed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed no remorse or signs of retreat after making a demand that Israel be "wiped off the map" at an Islamist conference in Teheran earlier this week. Instead, after facing near-universal condemnation even in Arabic countries, Ahmadinejad rejected the criticism as "invalid": Iran's president has defended his widely criticised call for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Attending an anti-Israel rally in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his remarks were "just" - and the criticism did not "have any validity." Last Wednesday's comment provoked world outrage. Israel has called for Iran's expulsion from the United Nations. Egypt said they showed "the weakness of the Iranian government". A Palestinian official also rejected the remarks. In fact, Saeb Erekat said on behalf of the Palestinians that they had already accepted Israel's right to exist and that the extant question should be about adding Palestine to the map....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Fitzmas Drizzles One Solid Indictment

I've had an opportunity to read through the indictment of Scooter Libby while waiting at the clinic with the First Mate. As I predicted, Libby resigned as soon as the indictment was made public: Friday's charges stemmed from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame or misled investigators about their involvement. In the end, Fitzgerald accused Libby of a cover-up lying about his conversations with reporters. He was not charged with outing a spy. "Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true. It was false," the prosecutor said. "He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Return Of Hospiblogging

Looks like we'll be hospiblogging this weekend, at least at some point. The First Mate has a respiratory infection that now looks like it needs immediate intervention, along with a nagging fever that has the transplant staff concerned. Blogging may be a bit light, along with other efforts this weekend, although I may have a few surprises up my sleeve. Keep her in your prayers. This is nothing life-threatening, but it's a serious development any time for a double-transplant recipient, even more so during flu season. We both appreciate it. UPDATE: The FM is waiting for a bed to open up at the hospital, which we think will happen in about 90 minutes. Her temp had been as high as 103.1F (39.5 for my friends in Canada and Europe), but now it's down slightly to 102.4/39.1. We're not sure what she has going on, but she's going to the right...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 29, 2005

CQ Media Notes

I will appear on tonight's "On The Story" on CNN, chatting with Abbi Tatton and Jeralyn Merritt about the Harriet Miers nomination and the effect of the blogosphere on the mainstream media. Jeralyn did a fine job on the Libby indictment, which doesn't surprise me -- she's one of my favorite liberal bloggers (and I do read blogs on the left). It runs at 7 pm ET tonight, and at 1 pm ET on Sunday. While most television appearances require guests to drive into town and get to a television studio with a satellite uplink, CNN tried something different with OTS during its taping last night. They shipped out a basic Mac box and a webcam, and I hooked it up directly to my DSL modem to initiate a webchat. What you see when I appear on camera is not a set, but the inside of my home office --...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Islamists Smuggled SAMs, WMD Into France

According to the London Telegraph, European counterterrorist agencies now hunt a group of Islamofascist terrorists with "links to al-Qaida" that successfully smuggled surface-to-air missiles as well as chemical and biological weapons into France. The missiles, they fear, will serve as the next phase of terrorist attacks on commercial air service, possibly outside one of the major French airports such as Orly: French and Algerian extremists with links to al-Qa'eda bought the Russian SA-18 Grouse missiles from Chechens in 2002 and smuggled them via Georgia and Turkey, according to French anti-terror sources quoted in Le Figaro. Both missiles and several of the extremists are reportedly still at large. French anti-terrorism investigators learned of the missile terror plan while interrogating a Jordanian al-Qa'eda operative close to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the Islamic terror group in Iraq. Adnan Muhammad Sadik, alias Abu Atiya, is now being held by the Jordanian authorities....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

FM Says [Cough, Cough] 'Hello' To All

Just a quick update before I go to the hospital this morning -- I spoke to the First Mate, and she wants me to thank everyone who has kept her in their prayers and thoughts. She still has a fever, but it's down just a bit to 101.1, and her cough unfortunately remains bad. I'll be there in an hour and will update this post throughout the day. I plan on taking some DVDs with me so that we can watch movies off the laptop instead of the college football games she, er, loves so much. More later ... UPDATE: Well, it looks like pneumonia, but it's controllable and it doesn't appear to have affected the transplants. She'll be in the hospital for at least a couple of days while they run all the necessary tests. They have her in a private room, but it's on the far side of...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

India Rocked By Terrorist Explosions

Islamic terrorism appears to have visited India, a nation that has had traditional tensions with Muslims on and within its borders but has championed Palestinian cause, in the form of several bombings today. Reuters reports that more than 50 people have died in the attacks, and that the United States had issued a warning to its citizens in the country shortly beforehand about potential al-Qaeda attacks: Three powerful bombs ripped through New Delhi markets packed with families and shoppers on Saturday ahead of the biggest Hindu and Muslim festivals of the year, killing over 50 people and wounding scores more. ... At least 51 people were killed in the blasts which occurred within minutes of each other, said an aide to Delhi state Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Fifty-four people were injured, the aide said. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared it an act of terrorism, while adding it was too early...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Arab States Wanted Iraq War

A news report from The Australian and Al-Arabiya indicates that the United States had negotiated a peaceful exit for Saddam Hussein from Iraq -- but that the Arab League torpedoed the deal, leading to the Iraq War in March 2003 (h/t: Daily Scorecard): Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had secretly accepted a last-minute plan to go into exile to avert the 2003 Iraq war, but Arab leaders shot the proposal down, Al Arabiya television reported today. UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan made the proposal for Saddam to go into exile at an emergency Arab summit just weeks before the US-led war began in March 2003. But the 22-member Arab League, led by Secretary-General Amr Moussa, refused to consider the initiative. "We had got the final agreement from the different parties, the main players in the world and the person concerned Saddam Hussein within 24 hours," Mohammed...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

What Does The Right Want?

The New York Times asks this question in its Sunday edition after the rejection of Harriet Miers as a Supreme Court nominee. The Bush administration has signaled that it will announce its replacement for the seat opened up by Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement, and the Times wonders what kind of nominee will satisfy the conservatives who objected so strenuously to Miers -- and whether such a nominee can find confirmation in the Senate: In his two choices for the Supreme Court so far, President Bush has tapped what some conservatives called "stealth" nominees: jurists without a clear record of legal opinions on abortion rights or other contentious social issues. But with the announcement of a third nominee to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor expected as early as Monday, prominent conservatives said they were confident that this time would be different. They argued that the reaction against the nomination of Harriet...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 30, 2005

Charles To Follow Royal Tradition Of Appeasement

What is it about frustrated members of the British royal family who, when unable to garner the throne for themselves, decide to campaign on behalf of genocidal nutcases? After being forced to abdicate the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, Edward Windsor flirted with the Nazis to such an extent that the British thought they might have to forcibly remove him from Spain. Churchill had to order him to the Bahamas to separate the Duke from German agents. Now we have Prince Charles, the man who would be King if his mother would just let him, deciding that George Bush just doesn't understand how wonderful Islam truly is -- and wants to travel to the United States to deliver a lecture on the Religion of PeaceTM: The Prince of Wales will try to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam this week because he thinks...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Syrian Power Brokers Start To Disperse

As more pressure gets applied to the Bashar Assad regime to answer for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, it looks like the impulse to run has become irresistable for some members of the autocracy. The New York Times reports that Assad's wealthy and powerful cousin, Rami Makhluf, has fled Syria for the UAE as the country becomes more dangerous for those who prop up the erstwhile opthalmologist on his creaky throne: During a United Nations investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri that threatens the power of President Bashar al-Assad, a first cousin who is one of the most powerful businessmen in Syria has left the country. While it remains unclear why the president's cousin, Rami Makhluf, left - his allies say he is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, working on the expansion of his business empire - many people with close connections to the ruling Baath...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Oh, Were These The Jobs Americans Don't Want?

The Los Angeles Times takes a long, hard look today at Mara Salvatrucha, the international criminal conspiracy that uses illegal immigration into the US both as a fundraiser and as a staging ground for the most hard-core gangsterism currently seen on the streets. MS-13, as the Central American-based syndicate is better known, goes back to the last amnesty offered by the United States and now has its tentacles throughout North and Central America. The US efforts to interdict the gangsters have been laughable at best: On a sweltering afternoon, an unmarked white jetliner taxies to a remote terminal at the international airport here and disgorges dozens of criminal deportees from the United States. Marshals release the handcuffed prisoners, who shuffle into a processing room. Of the 70 passengers, at least four are members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang formed two decades ago near MacArthur Park west of the...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

We've Heard This Before

The Palestinian triangle offense continues apace in Gaza. They have gone to their usual Plan B when they get caught at it -- they declare that one of the three factions has agreed to cease attacking Israel, and expect the Israelis and the rest of the world to celebrate it. Today, that comes in the form of a statement assuring observers that Islamic Jihad has agreed not to shoot rockets into Israel, but that wasn't what started the Israeli response that killed several IJ leaders this past week: Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have agreed to halt rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinian Interior Ministry officials said Sunday. The halt in rocket fire comes after days of airstrikes and artillery fire by the Israeli army aimed at the Islamic Jihad militant group. Palestinian officials said the declaration was expected to bring an end to the Israeli attacks. The Interior Ministry...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Hospiblogging Update

Not much change today -- the First Mate is resting a bit more comfortably, and we still haven't heard a final diagnosis from the lung docs. My guess is that we won't hear anything until tomorrow, as it takes at least 24 hours to study the cultures. In the meantime, they're giving her the kill-everything-but-the-patient drug regime just to make sure they're covering their bases, and it's doing some good; her fever has dropped to 99, almost normal. It hasn't improved her cough at all, though. Thanks again for the thoughts and prayers. The FM brightens up every time I mention how many of you have been kind enough to send your notes of concern. She wants me to send her greetings back to all of you, and her thanks as well as mine. More updates later ......

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Gomermas?

The long-awaited Gomery Inquiry report comes out on Tuesday, November 1st, and already the politicians have begun to believe that no one outside of Ottowa will notice or care. At least, that's what the Liberals hope and the Tories fear, as Canada's worst political corruption case seems destined to slide into oblivion due to scandal fatigue: Stephen Harper would have you think it's all up to Jack Layton to help him pull down the government next week after Mr. Justice John Gomery's sponsorship report. The New Democrats would rather you believe that Mr. Harper's the coward for promising not to force an election to be held over the Christmas holidays. And the Bloc Qubcois says it would be happy to participate in an election at any time, before or after Judge Gomery's report. But behind the bravado, all three opposition parties privately suggest that no one really wants to pull...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Myth Of Dragging Wilson's Wife Into The Niger Case

Earlier today, I listened to "Late Edition" on CNN and heard Wolf Blitzer interviewing Gary Bauer about the Plame case. Normally that would cause me to either fall asleep from apathy or change the channel to something more interesting -- perhaps a re-run of pro bowling on ESPN XXIV. Before I reached the remote, however, I heard this exchange and my jaw hit the floor: BLITZER: But even if there were no criminal -- if there was nothing criminal about the release of the Valerie Plame, was it appropriate for senior officials in the Bush -- Bush White House, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, to be talking about Joe Wilson's wife instead of simply arguing with him over the merits of the case. BAUER: Well, Joe Wilson's wife -- they have their own political agenda, which I think is fairly obvious as we have watched this unfold in recent months... BLITZER:...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

October 31, 2005

Alito Gets The Nod

President Bush will nominate Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor, the third nominee for this seat. The AP and Fox News reports that the New Jersey jurist and former prosecutor had topped George Bush's list during his last round of deliberations, but had lost out to the now-withdrawn Harriet Miers when Bush decided to try choosing someone outside of the "judicial monastery": Bush believes that Alito has not only the right experience and conservative ideology for the job, but he also has a temperament suited to building consensus on the court. A former prosecutor, Alito has experience off the bench that factored into Bush's thinking, the officials said. While Alito is expected to win praise from Bush's allies on the right, Democrats have served notice that his nomination would spark a partisan brawl. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Sunday that Alito's...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Graham: Forget The Filibuster

In a New York Times report that preceded the nomination of Samuel Alito, one of the Republican Gang of 14 warned the Democrats that any political objections to Alito or any other nominee would not rise to the level of "exceptional circumstances," and that a filibuster would break the agreement that kept the Byrd option off the table: Mr. Reid had already said he would object to the selection of Judge Luttig or Judge Owen. And on Sunday, he did not rule out the possibility that Democrats would try to block a nominee by a filibuster or refusing to close debate and vote. "We are going to do everything we can" to see that the president names "somebody that's really good," Mr. Reid said. But Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, fired back Sunday, saying that if the Democrats staged a filibuster against Judge Alito or Judge Luttig because...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Will The UN Stand Up To Syria?

The New York Times thinks so -- they report today that the Bush administration's alliance with France against the Assad regime will get the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that will impose tough economic sanctions if Syria refuses to fully cooperate with the investigation into the Rafik Hariri assassination. The Russians and the Chinese, who both had made noises about vetoing any such resolution, have been convinced to sideline themselves: Security Council diplomats worked out final details on Sunday on a tough resolution against Syria, an action that will forcefully step up international pressure on the country's embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, and deepen his government's struggle to ward off increasing isolation. Diplomats from the resolution's three co-sponsors, Britain, France and the United States, said they expected passage on Monday and did not foresee a veto from either China or Russia, the two countries most reluctant to punish Syria....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Sorry About Comments Being Down (Updated)

I understand that comments have been down all day -- it appears to be a Typepad issue. This is my first time logging in since this morning, so I haven't had much of a chance to look into it. I'll see when they expect the problem to get resolved and get back to everyone ASAP. In the meantime, if you're looking for some interactive fun, take Hugh Hewitt's poll on the Alito nomination. Should the Byrd option get invoked if the Democrats filibuster Alito? Let Hugh know what you think! UPDATE: Looks like they're up and running now....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

Save Our Reefs -- From Greenpeace!

Greenpeace has set out on a global cruise with its converted fishing trawler, The Rainbow Warrior, to highlight its promotion of Kyoto-like policies to combat what it sees as global warming, and uses coral reef degradation as a significant part of its evidence of the climate theory. It turns out, however, that The Rainbow Warrior itself presents a more clear and present danger to coral reefs than warm water: Greenpeace is to be fined after its flagship Rainbow Warrior II damaged a coral reef in the central Philippines during a climate change awareness campaign, marine park rangers said. The ship and its crew were assessed a 640,000-peso (11,600-dollar) fine after the 55-meter (180-foot) motor-assisted schooner ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park on Monday, park manager Angelique Songco told AFP. The ship's bow sliced through a reef formation measuring 160 square meters (1,722 square feet), she added. The biggest...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

First Mate Update, Day 4

The First Mate had a pretty good day today. Her fever stayed mostly down, although her cough hasn't improved much. The doctors have decided to install a semipermanent shunt under her arm for IVs, as her veins keep giving them problems and she will likely need home IVs for a while to deal with the aftermath of the pneumonia. We think she'll get released some time tomorrow, but no one can tell me that for sure. She's itching to get the heck out of the hospital, but it isn't for lack of attentive and excellent care. She's been in very good hands at Fairview University at the U of M campus. We always feel safe and optimistic when they're on the case. I'll give you all an update tomorrow....

« September 2005 | November 2005 »

The Byrd Option Gets More Backing

Yesterday, Lindsay Graham stepped away from his foolish flirtation with the Democrats and warned that any attempt to filibuster a qualified nominee to the Supreme Court such as Samuel Alito -- who had not yet been announced as the selection -- would not qualify as an "exceptional circumstance", and that Graham would then support the Byrd option eliminating the filibuster. Now on Hugh Hewitt's show, we can add another of the Gang of 14, Ohio Senator Mike DeWine, who explicitly stated that he will vote for the Byrd option to end filibusters on judicial nominees. Radioblogger has the transcript: HH: Your colleague on judiciary, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said yesterday on Face The Nation, that if Democrats attempt to filibuster, he will work to break it, meaning that this is not something the Gang of 14 had in mind. Do you agree with Senator Graham that this is not...

« September 2005 | November 2005 »