More Clinton Cluelessness On Larry King

Larry King had Bill Clinton on as his guest for last night’s show, and the talk-show host asked Bill Clinton about his assessment of Mark Felt in his role as Deep Throat. Clinton delivered a jaw-dropping response that dripped with irony:

KING: … What do you make of the Mark Felt story? Is he an American hero?
CLINTON: I think he did a good thing. And I think it’s — it was an unusual circumstance. I think Felt believed that there was the chance that this whole thing would be covered up. Ordinarily, I think a law enforcement official shouldn’t be leaking to the press because you should let criminal action take its course.
When he did that, he obviously believed there was a chance that the thing would be covered up. And there was some evidence — we now know that there was also a problem with trying to use the FBI, and the IRS, and other agencies of the federal government for political purposes back then. So there’s some reason to believe he was right.
I don’t think that — he always felt ambivalent about it, apparently. And I think that’s good. Because, on balance, you don’t want law enforcement officials leaking to the press, even the truth, much less some vendetta or something that’s not true. But under these circumstances, I think he did the right thing.

What we know is that Felt took part in those efforts in Hoover’s FBI to use the bureau for political purposes. Felt at one point immediately after Hoover’s death had possession of Hoover’s Official/Confidential files, the supersensitive political dossiers that Hoover used to retain power for almost 50 years. Felt eventually got convicted of illegal break-ins of the same sort as Watergate, receiving a pardon from Ronald Reagan. Pretending that Felt, one of Hoover’s most trusted aides, somehow stood apart from the corruption at the Bureau flies in the face of both history and common sense.
If Felt wanted to act heroically, he could just as easily have retired or quit from the FBI and gone public with the information. Alternately, as the #2 executive of the nation’s premier law-enforcement agency, he could have started his own investigation of Watergate publicly and openly. Instead, he chose to hide in the shadows and dole out only that information that targeted his enemies in the White House who had passed him over (and other Bureau stalwarts) for the top job in order to give it to an outsider. That doesn’t make Felt a traitor, but it certainly doesn’t make him much of a hero. As I wrote yesterday, it provides a microcosm of the corruption in Washington in both the White House and the FBI in which Felt was very much a participant.
But the irony comes from Clinton’s track record with inside sources revealing wrongdoing. Linda Tripp blew the whistle on his tawdry affair with Monica Lewinsky not because she objected to the sex, but because the White House tried to pay off Lewinsky with a job at Revlon the same way they did with Web Hubbell, who mysteriously stopped cooperating with investigators after getting a few hundred thousand dollars in consulting work at Revlon through Clinton crony Vernon Jordan. She had attempted to get law enforcement involved earlier and had been labeled a crank by the White House staff. She saw how Clinton’s staff stalled an ongoing criminal investigation and tried to stop it.
Taping personal conversations between herself and Lewinsky doesn’t make Tripp a hero either. However, she at least came forward publicly and didn’t hide behind a “Deep Throat” persona (which may have been a more appropriate code name for the Lewinsky scandal anyway). Does Clinton now believe that Linda Tripp “did the right thing”? Good Lord.
Nor was that the last of the silliness from Bill Clinton on Mark Felt:

KING: You think it’s good that it came out now?
CLINTON: Yes, sure, while he’s alive. I just think — you know, apparently his family encouraged him to do it. I’m just reading between the lines, but he looked pretty sprightly and pretty spiffy there, you know, at 91.

The sprightly and spiffy Felt has suffered from dementia for years after a stroke and often doesn’t know what year it is. Todd Foster, who had the scoop in 2002, described Felt’s regression in a nursing home where he would knock on doors in the middle of the night, believing that he was still in the FBI doing investigations. Three years ago, he was unable to commit to an admission of being DT because his mind kept playing tricks on him, and he continually made contradictory statements. Felt is alive and ambulatory, but he’s hardly sprightly or spiffy.
Sometimes one has to wonder what color the sky is in Bill Clinton’s world.

527s Acquire New Opponents: Congressional Black Caucus

What issue could possibly draw conservative Republicans and the Congressional Black Caucus into a legislative alliance? This morning, the Washington Times reports that the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act’s provisions on campaign limits hit sour notes with both groups, as traditional African-American outreach efforts got starved in favor of the massive influence of George Soros’ 527 strategies in 2004:

Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus are teaming up with conservative Republicans to push for the first major changes in the 2002 campaign-finance reform bill, most admitting that they made a mistake in voting for the bill three years ago.
“If I had the chance to vote again, I wouldn’t vote the way I voted,” said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, New York Democrat, who along with most of the CBC supported the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act after they were promised by Democratic leaders that the bill would not harm their constituents or funding bases in order to garner their support.

Wait — the BCRA’s sponsors weren’t completely honest about the bill’s effects? Stop the presses! However, unlike most, the CBC’s concern remains mostly with the financing rather than the free-speech issues that the bill’s other components created:

Three years and a failed presidential election later, black politicians saw their political grass-roots organizations starved for funds under the new rules, as so-called “527s,” private political groups so named for the Internal Revenue Service code provision under which they are organized were able to raise unlimited amounts of money for partisan purposes, subsequently siphoning off the cash. …
In the 2004 presidential election, many of the black civic groups were supplanted by 527s, which attempted to turn out the black vote on their own, a strategy that Rep. Albert R. Wynn, Maryland Democrat, said had proven to be inadequate. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, who was expected to surpass his 2000 predecessor Al Gore, received 85 percent of the black vote, compared with Mr. Gore’s 90 percent.

Remember how John McCain, Russ Feingold, and the rest of the BCRA apologists told us that their bill would remove the big money from politics and allow for better grass-roots activism? It didn’t turn out that way, and at least the CBC recognizes it and wants to do somthing about it, as inadequate as their response might be. They swallowed the notion that a bill sponsored by two politicians and championed by a political-action organization that gets its funding from Soros and other heavy hitters actually wanted to reduce the influence of the very people who funded it.
In fact, they bought that notion so well that they sold out the First Amendment to ensure it became law — and the White House lacked the guts to protect freedom of speech and veto it.
It’s telling that the first corrections that Congress wants to consider to the BCRA focus on getting more money into their pockets instead of restoring protections to political speech. Someone once wrote that no man’s liberty or property was safe while Congress is in session — and the BCRA is just the latest example of the truth contained in that proverb. This might be a good time to remind this new bipartisan alliance that the entire BCRA should be scrapped, instead of trimming it at the edges.

Will Famine Destabilize The Korean Peninsula?

Nicole Winfield reports in the Associated Press that the Kim regime has begun a mass relocation effort, driving millions of citydwellers to the countryside in what looks to be a desperate effort to fend off a catastrophic famine. Food-distribution NGOs report that despite the lack of significant weather or agricultural incidents, what little production Pyongyang gets out of its farms may drop so precipitously that millions may face starvation:

North Korea is sending millions of people from its cities to work on farms each weekend — another indication that the risk of famine is particularly high this year, a U.N. official said yesterday.
The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) is the only aid organization that has a presence outside the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and its officials have reported the movements of the North’s people from cities to farms, said Anthea Webb, spokeswoman for the Rome-based agency. …
The WFP recently launched a new appeal for food donations, saying the supplies that let it feed 6.5 million North Koreans were dwindling and forcing it to cut off aid to children and the elderly. That followed a WFP request to governments for 500,000 tons of food for North Korea this year.
Of the $202 million that the agency appealed for this year, it has received about $72 million — and practically all of it has been consumed, Miss Webb said.
“Unless something happens very soon, by the end of August, the only people we’ll be feeding are 12,000 children in hospitals,” she said.
She said a combination of factors was making 2005 particularly at risk for famine. Although the harvest was not any worse than expected this year, it is combined with declining WFP food aid, government reforms that have driven up prices and cuts in government rations, she said.

According to that description, it appears that the famine has been artificially induced, to an even greater extent than Stalinist agricultural systems naturally produce them. At a point in time where rumors have flown for months about the stability of the Kim regime, such an artifical result has to beg the question: is Kim deliberately touching off a famine?
What would Kim gain by doing so? First, he could use the impending catastrophe to squeeze more aid out of Western countries. Already, donor nations suspect that, like dictators before, Kim reroutes the aid to his military and political leadership while leaving the peasants to starve. Aid donations have tailed off significantly over the past year because of the lack of verification on their use, and that may be causing Kim some problems with his military.
Even more sinister, reports coming from Pyongyang noted that Kim faced unprecedented criticism in the streets of the capital, although it remained mostly anonymous. A series of incidents, including a massive explosion at a train station, has analysts wondering if Kim may be facing significantly organized opposition for the first time in his life. Emptying the cities may not have anything to do with a bad harvest or food shortages, but may be a defensive measure designed to keep his enemies from banding together to topple his regime.
If the famine is legitimate, it still means serious trouble for security in the Korean Peninsula region, as well as an obvious humanitarian disaster. Whether or not the North Koreans starve in the cities or in the countryside, famines cause irrational behavior on the part of the starving and the dictatorships that preside over it. In order to distract his people from their misery, Kim could decide to launch an attack on South Korea or on American or Japanese assets in the region, if events get desperate enough in North Korea.
What to do? Donating food and resources that only go to bolstering the regime are counterproductive in the extreme, but the Western world can’t sit back and let millions starve, either. Kim may be bluffing, but if so, he knows what stakes get the most results from the West. The best solution will be to insist on on-the-ground verification that increased aid will go to the millions that Kim has used as pawns, instead of blank checks that his army and Politburo will greedily cash.

Online Coalition Responds To The FEC

Mike Krempansky at Redstate has posted the response from the Online Coalition to the Federal Election Commission about their proposed regulation of Internet activity during elections. Mike has made it available in PDF and HTML format. The credit for this goes to Mike himself, who has been a lion in this fight. I am honored to have been asked to be a signatory to this effort.
Please make sure you read the response, and drop Mike a comment thanking him for his hard work.

Dutch: We Are The Knights Who Say … Nee

Fresh on the heels of the French rejection of the proposed EU charter, the Dutch have driven a stake through its heart with an overwhelming ‘nee’ to match the Gallic ‘non’ of Sunday:

Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the European constitution in a referendum Wednesday, exit polls projected, in what could be a knockout blow for the charter roundly defeated just days ago by France.
An exit poll projection broadcast by state-financed NOS television said the referendum failed by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent. The turnout was 62 percent, exceeding all expectations, the broadcaster said.
Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people’s verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results.

The Dutch turned out in much greater numbers than anticipated, thanks in part to an assertion by Dutch politicians that they would not consider a referendum failure binding on their decision process unless the turnout exceeded 35% and the Nee vote got at least 55%. If the exit polling holds up, both of those thresholds not only got met but far exceeded. The Dutch have made an unequivocal, 2-1 statement of defiance to the EU and the architects of this Byzantine constitution.
The EU will need to regroup. No one expects the alliances to fall apart, but the nations of Europe have to ask themselves if they want a homogenous entity on the Continent with top-down sovereignty — or if they shouldn’t try to build a model closer to that of the United States, with states’ rights built into a united federal system with a concise and limited constitution for use as a framework for a limited but sovereign federal government.
The current efforts of the EU to define itself looks more like our original Articles of Confederation than anything approaching unity. The results this week look similar to what they were here as well. Eating one’s cake and having it too is a pipe dream, a Holy Grail of politics that winds up either as comedy or tragedy. Thankfully, so far, it has only been the former.
UPDATE: Mitch in the comments points out correctly that the proposed constitution itself doesn’t resemble the Articles at all — it’s all about setting up bureaucracies upon bureaucracies, and of course, he’s right. Conceptually, however, the EU nations have lived in a fantasy that they can meaningfully unite under one government structure while retaining their own complete and individual sovereignties — which is one of the reasons why the mind-boggling document looks the way it does. It’s a way of creating a federal government that gives the appearance of sovereignty without any nation actually giving theirs up.
Our forefathers tried that and it failed. They didn’t have the foresight to try binding sovereign states together by means of unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies. Of course, the designers of the EU constitution had the advantage of coming after the establishment of the United Nations, and this looks like the exact same kind of abortion. In fact, that may really be the better analogy.

Hospiblogging Once Again

I’m spending the morning at the hospital while the First Mate undergoes a regularly-schedule maintenance procedure related to her kidney transplant. The wireless connection at the hospital is unusually slow today, which means my posting will be limited. I’ll try to catch up on a huge backlog of e-mail and work on a couple of speeches I have scheduled, while keeping an eye on the wire services for breaking news.
In the meantime, here are a few items that might interest CQ readers:
* If you are looking for greeting cards, motivational knick-knacks, and original gift ideas, give The Stickmans a visit. It’s a new outfit (partly owned and operated by my uncle, the Tenor Saxman) with unique and whimsical merchandise. Tell them the Captain sent you.
* Don’t forget about our Not One Dime logo contest. All of the Not One Dime posts and my reporting on the judiciary can be found in my Judiciary category.
* King catches Strib columnist and Air America host Nick Coleman in another dishonest misrepresentation, but notes that complaining to the Strib about it is utterly pointless.
* Fraters Libertas notes that Minnesota will not have a poet laureate, nor a state mime. Thank God and Tim Pawlenty for both, although I would nominate Nick Coleman for the latter if he’d accept.
* Radioblogger has a transcript from a Hugh Hewitt interview with Senators Santorum, Ensign, and Talent — all of whom support the constitutional option if the Democrats filibuster any more judicial nominees.
* Mike Krempansky has been working hard on the response to the FEC at Redstate, while Scared Monkeys asks, “Should blogs trust the FEC?” Michelle Malkin (and I) both say no.
* Jon Henke announces the release of the latest edition of The New Libertarian. If you don’t already know this, Jon is the most rational and convincing proponent for Neolibertarianism in the blogosphere. I read QandO every day, and so should you.
* For updates on the Canadian situation, be sure to check out Stephen Taylor, Newsbeat 1, and Angry in the Great White North.
Back later with more …

Iraq: US Not An Occupying Force

The newly elected government of Iraq has requested an extension of the US mandate for providing their security from the United Nations, telling the world body that arbitrary timetables should be put aside and the Iraqis themselves should determine when the US presence would no longer be necessary. The Shi’ite Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, emphasized that American forces are not occupying Iraq but serve as “friendly forces” assisting the newly elected democratic government:

Iraq’s month-old transitional government announced Tuesday that it had asked the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of the American-led forces here beyond the end of this year, and said Iraq’s need for outside military assistance, not pre-set deadlines, should determine when American troop withdrawals should start. …
Mr. Jaafari said Iraq’s need for outside military assistance, not pre-set deadlines, should determine when American troop withdrawals should start.
“The multinational forces are not occupying forces, they are friendly forces, and they are helping us to establish security, carrying out missions in the interests of the Iraqi people, and under the authority of the government,” Dr. Jaafari said. The government, he said, wanted an extension of their mandate “until we have defeated terrorism and restored security across the country.”

The UNSC immediately and unanimously extended the mandate into 2006 as a result of Jafaari’s request.
This development will surprise those who assumed that radicals like Muqtada al-Sadr spoke for the Iraqi majority — a forgivable impressions for Americans who rely on the American media to inform them. Sadr gets a lot of press, but has only a small minority of the Shi’ite population behind him, especially since he lost Najaf and Karbala so badly during his own fight against the Americans. Sadr’s vacillation between politician and warlord has mostly revealed him to be equally inept in either role. (See here for John Burns’ own evaluation of Sadr from last year.)
Regardless, many Americans still see ourselves as an oppressive occupying force that creates strife in Iraq. Now we have two successive Iraqi governments, this one elected by the Iraqis directly, who have told us otherwise. They understand that American and British power stands between them and complete chaos while they complete the process of de-Baathification and rebuilding of a reliable and subservient security force that will enforce the law and defend their elected government. The Coalition doesn’t create the violence in Iraq, and an early withdrawal would only encourage the terrorists there to step up their efforts to topple democracy and install a Taliban-like oppression across Iraq.
Jafaari doesn’t want that, and his stand against it demonstrates once more that the secularists have taken charge in Iraq — probably strengthened by the fanatical nuts like Zarqawi who insist that Islam demands the indiscriminate murder of Iraqis by the hundreds. We need to stay until the job is finished and Iraq can stand on its own as a democracy, able to defend itself against internal terrorists and external enemies. The Iraqis themselves know this and want us to stay. We should listen to them instead of the defeatist voices of our own media.

US Stopped Nuclear Material Bound For Iran

Condoleezza Rice revealed in a speech yesterday that a consortium of nations, including the US, stopped nuclear material from reaching Iran as well as other rogue nations over the last nine months. The participating nations of the Proliferation Security Initiative have quietly cooperated on eleven interdictions during that time, at least one of those directly involving Teheran:

The U.S. and its allies in a program to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction prevented Iran from obtaining material for its nuclear weapons program within the past nine months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.
“The trans-shipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programs in countries of concern, including Iran” was blocked as was the transfer of “equipment used to produce propellant” to a “ballistic missile program in another region” of the world, Rice said. …
Rice gave no details but said that the U.S. and 10 of its partners in the initiative have cooperated on 11 successful interdiction efforts over the past nine months. Iran was the only nation interdicted that she cited by name.
“PSI partners, working at times with others, have prevented Iran from procuring goods to support its missile and WMD programs, including its nuclear program,” she said at the State Department in Washington.
Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker said the U.S. is withholding details of the interdictions to ensure continued cooperation from countries that do not want their participation made public.

This announcement puts even more pressure on the EU-3 to contain the nuclear threat that Iran represents. If Iran has attempted to import banned technology, it demonstrates a desire to turn its so-called peaceful nuclear energy program into something more sinister. And notice that Iran, who must have expected that shipment to arrive, never publicly demanded its release once held up. Those who believe that Iran needs such a program when it sits on top of one of the world’s largest oil reserves should rethink their position in light of this news.
Many people still believe that the war in Iraq provides a distraction from other (and arguably more) important global security issues. Perhaps it does for them, but the Bush administration once again appears more than capable of dealing with more than one strategy at a time.
UPDATE: Who was the man who made the diplomatic arrangments to get over 60 nations involved in PSI? Why … none other than that hardass meanie, John Bolton. Go figure. (h/t: The Kid)