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 move the court to the right. She would fill the shoes of O’Connor, a swing voter on the court for years who has cast deciding votes on some affirmative action, abortion and death penalty cases.

After the tussle back and forth on the day the White House announced Roberts’ nomination, I’d normally take this with a grain of salt. However, at the same time that the AP reported this, the GOP sent out an info sheet on Harriet Miers confirming her nomination. They want to provide plenty of ammunition for the President’s supporters on the choice of Miers, so it doesn’t appear that this is a trial balloon or a dodge for a different candidate.
Miers does answer two big criticisms of John Roberts raised by the Democrats during his confirmation hearings. Miers has extensive trial litigation experience, and she also has held public office, although she limited her political career to the Dallas City Council. Her work on cleaning up the Texas Lottery Commission will look good in terms of real-world experience, and her connections at the American Bar Association will also smooth some rough sailing.
All that being said, I find this pick mystifying. Miers just turned 60 years old, not exactly ready to retire but potentially giving up at least a decade for the Bush legacy on the Supreme Court. Other women with judicial experience and/or a stronger track record of conservatism could have been found. She didn’t graduate from a top-drawer legal school (SMU), and she didn’t clerk for a highly influential jurist (US District Judge Joe Estes).
Not only does Harriet Miers not look like the best candidate for the job, she doesn’t even look like the best female candidate for the job. If judicial experience is a liability, why not Maureen Mahoney, who is younger, has argued cases at the Supreme Court, and worked within the Deputy Solicitor’s Office after clerking for William Rehnquist? Better yet, why not nominate J. Michael Luttig or Michael McConnell, with their brilliant and scholarly approaches to the law and undeniable qualifications through years of judicial experience? Why not Edith Hollan Jones, if Bush wanted to avoid the confrontation that Janice Rogers Brown would have created?
Miers may make a great stealth candidate, but right now she looks more like a political ploy. Color me disappointed in the first blush.

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 public in Gaza.
But when police officers stopped a car carrying Hamas members on Sunday evening, shooting erupted and spread through two neighborhoods in Gaza City that are known as Hamas strongholds, witnesses and the Palestinian security forces said.

Again, we see that the PA has done little to improve its security approach. The “road map” required Mahmoud Abbas to streamline security so that all armed forces operated under his command, and that all militias get disarmed. Until now, Abbas has refused to implement this policy, which led to numerous “rogue’ attacks on Israel.
Now, with the Israeli presence removed from Gaza, the PA had no further excuse to allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to remain armed. Hamas refused to disarm, and in a further provocation, held a demonstration while brandishing live arms in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal. Their incompetence in handling the weapons resulted in an explosion which killed and wounded dozens attending the rally. Unable to admit their own culpability in that incident, Hamas blamed Israel instead and shot a few Kassams over the border from Gaza — which resulted in a long and deadly response from their former occupiers.
That left Abbas with no other options. Either he needs to control Hamas or cede Gaza to the people with the weapons. Hamas will refuse to accept Fatah control — and civil war will result. It looks like it has already begun, and unfortunately, neither side shows much promise as partners for a two-state peace plan.

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 questions he would ask, so as to assure that the only source he would effectively be asking about was Mr. Libby.”
The Times reported that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President
Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was Miller’s source. In a statement Thursday, Miller said, “My source has now voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of confidentiality regarding our conversations.” She appeared before the grand jury Friday.
Miller held out, Abrams said Sunday, in part because “she has other sources and was very concerned about the possibility of having to reveal those sources, or going back to jail because of them.” Before she finally testified, Fitzgerald promised to limit his questioning to the Libby contacts regarding Plame.

This changes the context of the new agreement in a couple of subtle ways. First, the jailing of Miller never had anything to do with Libby or his statements to Miller. According to Abrams, the grand jury could have heard that testimony from Miller at any time as long as Fitzgerald agreed to only ask about Libby. Fitzgerald refused, which seems to clearly indicate that his investigative thrust didn’t include Libby as a potential target. If so, it means that Fitzgerald’s belated acceptance of this limitation acknowledges that he lost the battle with Miller and wanted to wrap up her situation before the grand jury mandate expired later this month.
It also exposes the PR last week from the New York Times as yet another bit of grandstanding flackery. The Times made it appear that Libby kept Miller in jail by refusing to issue an unequivocal and clear release for Miller’s testimony. Libby responded by letter and phone to point out all the waivers he had issued (and Power Line has the original waivers that clearly show he wanted Miller to testify). Despite the Times’ assertions from last week and their overall self-congratulation over the protection of journalistic sources — especially in comparison to Time Magazine’s cooperation with Fitzgerald — this shows that the Gray Lady had no problem coughing up sources of a certain (Republican) kind, as opposed to others that might have less political conflict with its editorial board.
Does this indicate that Fitzgerald has given up on any indictments in the Plame controversy? Possibly. However, the main effect applies to Miller and the New York Times, both of which demonstrate a large measure of hypocrisy in their public statements this week.

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 himself to smithereens.
Made Mangku Sudita, 36, who owns a beach restaurant just next door to the cafe where the first blast occurred in Jimbaran, expressed the public mood when he called for vengeance against those responsible.
“We have to kill those terrorists”, he told AFP.
Similar sentiments were aired by many others, including taxi driver Wayan Rampa who lost his job in the silver industry after the October 2002 bombings devastated Bali’s tourism sector.
“There is no need to take them to prisons… they should be taken to Bali to be turned into skewered meat or be grilled,” he said of the culprits.

The Balinese have, up to now, exhibited a kind of phlegmatic resignation in the face of the violence similar to that of the British in World War II during the Blitz. That now appears to have given way to some anger, and a questioning of motives that will sound oddly familiar to Americans. After the one devastating attack on the US that left thousands dead, many asked the same question: why us? The American Left had many answers ready for that question. Perhaps we can see whether they apply to the Balinese.
* A policy of support for Israel? Well, Bali remains part of Indonesia, which can hardly be accused of being an Israeli ally. Like all Muslim nations, it opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
* Supporting Middle East tyrants in order to steal the oil from the devout Muslims of the Arabian peninsula? Indonesia has plenty of its own oil.
* Occupation of holy lands? The Balinese do not have troops on Saudi soil, or anywhere else other than Bali.
* Occupation of Iraq? Not hardly.
It seems that all the usual answers Americans hear for their responsibility in provoking the Islamists’ rage don’t apply to Bali or the Balinese. What could keep al-Qaeda coming back to bomb the people and businesses of Bali? Perhaps the fact that Bali, part of mostly Muslim Indonesia, has a majority Hindu population could have something to do with Jemaah Islamiyah’s obsession with bombing the Balinese. It provides the only consistent thread for AQ’s attacks around the world: an all-out holy war against all non-believers, simply on the basis of their non-belief.
This should dispense with all of the blather about how our foreign policy of global engagement creates terrorism. Let’s quit blaming the victims and start really fighting the war that the terrorists have declared on us.

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 of the burden of fighting in America’s defense.

So much for the mythology, pushed hardest by Rangel, that the poor have done most of the fighting and dying for the Bush administration. Rangel used this assertion to push for a new draft, asserting that the only way to get enough pressure to undermine the war on terror was to force the rich to send their kids off to war. Rangel only has two problems with this hypothesis — he has no idea how the military recruits its enlistees as the Heritage Foundation demonstrates, and no one, no one, sends their kids off to war. Men and women make that decision for themselves, something that Rangel and the rest of the nutcases on the fringe keep forgetting in their infantilization of the US armed services.
Speaking of mythology, Radioblogger stops another Rangel urban legend before it gets rolling. Rangel told a local New York reporter that Dick Cheney should resign as Vice President, because Cheney is “too old for the job, and he doesn’t have any experience.” Apparently between guffaws of laughter, Duane “Generalissimo” Patterson points out that Rangel misses a few facts regarding Cheney’s experience and the age of American politicians:

Dick Cheney was born on 1/20/41. He currently is 64 years old. At the time he was sworn into the Vice Presidency, he was a week shy of 60. As for experience, he had been a Congressman, Secretary of Defense, and White House Chief of Staff, among other government positions. He also was very successful running private sector businesses as well. I may be mistaken, but there was this little company called Halliburton that he ran. Anyway, the point being, Rangel just loses credibility when he tries to maintain with a straight face that Cheney has no experience for the job. As Chief of Staff, you’re pretty attuned to the workings of the Executive branch.
Charley Rangel, the man who thinks Cheney’s too old, was born on June 11th, 1930. He is 75 years old. But I guess ageism doesn’t count if it’s applied to Republicans.

Other Democratic notables for whom Rangel needs to reserve rooms at the retirement home:
John Kerry: 62 in December
Joe Lieberman: 63
Nancy Pelosi: 65
Robert Byrd: 87
Rangel should lead by example, and resign immediately. I’m sure the rest of the above will follow shortly. Trust us, Charlie … trust us.

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 struck venues crowded with tourists on a Saturday night, killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.

Six Americans were wounded in the attack. No one knows whether the Indonesians counted the suicide bombers among the 26 dead, but they definitely identified which remains are the terrorists. “All that is left is their head and feet,” Mbai told the Associated Press, saying that the missing middle indicates waist belts for explosives.
The AQ plotters wanted by the Indonesians are Azhari bin Husin and Noordin Mohammed Top. Neither have become household names, but they aren’t completely unknown, either. The Australian mentioned both of them earlier this week in a now-foolish column by Gareth Evans dismissing the threat of Jemaah Islamiyah:

As to the specific risk posed by terrorist groups operating in and from Indonesia — naturally centre-front in people’s minds given the horrors perpetrated against Australian targets in Bali in 2002 and Jakarta last year — Crisis Group’s perception is that the Jemaah Islamiyah regional division that covered Australia has been effectively smashed by Indonesian police and intelligence operations (well supported by Australian agencies), and that JI no longer poses a serious threat in Indonesia or elsewhere.
The fugitive Malaysian bomb-makers for the embassy attack – Noordin Mohammed Top and Azhari bin Husin – may be tempted by another Western target in Indonesia, but a household name US enterprise is seen as more likely than anything identifiably Australian. And we have never had any information suggesting that there are sleeper cells in Australia or any thought of targeting Australia in this way. …
Of course there have been some apparent successes, such as the capturing or killing of two-thirds of al-Qa’ida’s leadership, but while this has undoubtedly diminished al-Qa’ida’s organisational capacity it hasn’t done anything to diminish its global following.
Much more successful was the police operation in Indonesia against JI. Interestingly, in Crisis Group’s judgment, it was done in a way that avoided arbitrary arrests, with every person being detained for more than a few days being held on the basis of solid evidence. In doing so, the police helped create the necessary political space to work against terrorism.

Evans claimed in his column and speech at the University of NSW that the Indonesian approach to Islamofascist terror — the law-enforcement approach — had effectively ended the terror threat against Indonesian targets. His New South Wales audience can be forgiven for their confusion less than a week later to see Bali blown apart again by the same JI that Evans dismissed so casually on Tuesday.
Thanks to that law-enforcement approach, Top and Husin will become household names now.

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, the Danish government has launched an information campaign advising the disabled how best to go about obtaining erotic services.
Stig Langvad, the chairman of the Danish Association for the Disabled, hailed the campaign as a triumph for equality. “Sexual frustration can be a major problem for the disabled, and in some cases the last solution is to visit a prostitute,” he said. “Politicians can debate whether prostitution in general should be allowed, but if it is, why should the disabled be the only ones prevented from having access to it?” …
Now the regulations are being used to pay for visits to prostitutes after a disabled man – not named for legal reasons – won a legal action forcing officials to pay his expenses for the services of a call girl. Councils across Denmark have been left with no choice but to follow suit.

I’ve heard of getting screwed by government, but this really is ridiculous.
On a more serious note, this pattern shows what happens when people force government into legitimizing choices in a socialist model. We have seen this in our own country with abortion. First, a runaway Supreme Court ruled that not only should abortion be legalized but that it ascended to a “right”, based on emanations from a penumbra at that point undiscovered in almost two centuries of jurisprudence. Once it assigned abortion as a “right”, activist groups started pressuring governments at the federal and state level to subsidize them, arguing that equal access to this “right” required that taxpayers foot the bill for a procedure at least half of them opposed in any form.
We can laugh at the Danes who feel it necessary to have government pay for prostitution, but it follows the same model as the US uses with abortion. It is symptomatic of a government culture where everything that isn’t outlawed becomes mandatory — the typical socialistic approach that results in idiotic processes such as what the Telegraph describes today.

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 conspiracy to commit an overall criminal end — exposing Valerie Plame in retribution for Joseph Wilson’s outspokenness — by comitting a series of non-criminal acts:

Many lawyers in the case have been skeptical that Fitzgerald has the evidence to prove a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which is the complicated crime he first set out to investigate, and which requires showing that government officials knew an operative had covert status and intentionally leaked the operative’s identity.
But a new theory about Fitzgerald’s aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.

Then Jim VandeHei and Walter Pincus throw in this beaut of a disclaimer:

Lawyers involved in the case interviewed for this report agreed to talk only if their names were not used, citing Fitzgerald’s request for secrecy.

Which begs the question: when will Fitzgerald start investigating the leakers in his own office, and did they have an overarching criminal purpose in talking to the Washington Post, even if the leak was technically legal? Fitzgerald’s operation should be held to a similar standard, one would think, since it involves secret grand jury testimony which the attorneys do not have the privilege to reveal. (Witnesses can speak openly of their own testimony in most cases, but not the attorneys.) Note: see correction below.
The entire idea reeks of desperation, and the Post article doesn’t help by getting key facts incorrect and stretching others to the breaking point. If Fitzgerald cannot find a single act of criminal behavior, then he almost assuredly cannot establish the mens rea necessary for a criminal conspiracy. For a conspiracy to exist, it has to involve the explicit intent to break the law. If no laws get broken in the commission of this conspiracy, it presents a prima facie argument against intent altogether. If prosecutors could get convictions by warping conspiracy laws in such a manner, then anyone could get convicted of almost any kind of conspiracy at any time.
VandeHei and Pincus fail to note a few things in their article, chief among them that Joseph Wilson serially leaked secret government material and lied about its contents. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reached that conclusion in its report on Iraq War intelligence, and names Pincus himself as one of the dupes Wilson used to get out his misinformation. Why didn’t Pincus bother to mention that? And why isn’t Fitzgerald investigating Wilson and Plame for those leaks (the other dupe was NY Times Nicholas Kristof) for a possible CIA conspiracy to illegally undermine the foreign policy of the duly elected American government?
The Post also claims that the Niger intelligence “was central to the White House’s rationale for war,” when plainly it was not. The vast majority of the intelligence from most Western nations had concluded that Saddam still had WMD, and that his lack of compliance with the sixteen UN resolutions on full, verifiable, and permament disarmament demonstrated that he still retained that capability. Moreover, the trip that Wilson took actually corroborated that conclusion, as the prime minister of Niger told Wilson that the only purpose of a secret Iraqi delegation he could divine was to trade for yellowcake uranium — which Wilson admitted to the SSCI bolstered, not undermined, the case for war against Iraq.
If indeed Fitzgerald has decided on this strategy, then he has embarked on a foolish and dangerous expansion of conspiracy law. The Washington Post, meanwhile, continues to embark on its policy of half-truths on the Wilson-Plame story in order to cover up its position of supine gullibility in regards to Joe Wilson. Why Walter Pincus has remained on this case as a reporter is anyone’s guess, but as long as the editors of the Post continue to use him in such a fashion, their reporting will continue to be suspect.
CORRECTION: I misread the excerpt — the Post uses unnamed attorneys representing witnesses who talk about what they’ve heard from Fitzgerald’s team … surmising that Fitzgerald wants to use this strategy. This seems even thinner than it did before.

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, was postponed to give election officials more time to prepare ballots.
In total, Fatah won 54 percent of the municipal seats, while Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, won 26 percent. The remaining seats were won by several smaller secular parties and independent candidates, leaving 40 councils without a clear majority party. Fatah and Hamas could increase the number of councils in their control by forming coalitions with the smaller parties in the weeks ahead.

Wilson gets this correct as far as he goes, but it has to be somewhat disappointing for Fatah that it couldn’t control a majority of the councils when Hamas didn’t field candidates in a significant number of communities. Given that Fatah claims a voter turnout of around 85 percent, this appears to give Mahmoud Abbas a less-than-stirring boost of confidence going into the delayed parliamentary elections.
The New York Times takes the more nuanced view of the election, noting that Hamas does pretty well for an underrepresented party:

The elections, the third of four rounds of local votes, encompassed about 10 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the largest cities still to vote.
Preliminary tallies show that the main Fatah faction of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, rebounded slightly from earlier rounds of voting, taking 54 percent. Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States, took about 26 percent, a strong showing in the West Bank, where it has been historically weaker than it has in Gaza.
Fatah appears to have won majority control of 61 of the 104 councils, while Hamas appears to have won 28 of them. Voter turnout was about 85 percent, according to the Palestinian Election Commission. … Complicating the analysis, Hamas had candidates running in only 56 councils, meaning that it won half of the council races it entered.

That success rate of 50% outstrips that of Fatah, which presents a real problem for Abbas. If Hamas can launch itself as a national party, it could easily beat Fatah in a fair election — a demonstration of the Palestinian desire for total war against Israel. Abbas will find himself out of power and living at the whim of a militant organization bent on genocide, hardly the kind of political “party” that engages its opposition with anything but bombs and bullets. Abbas will have to choose between corruption and tyranny, thanks to the Palestinian electorate which his organization has poisoned for decades with anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda.
The irony of Yasser Arafat’s partner in terrorism slowly getting hoist on his own petard would be delicious if it weren’t for the terrible consequences it will cause. Nevertheless, it remains true that the Hamas appears to have the true sense of the Palestinian people — they want all-out war, and they have no idea how close they are to getting their wish.
UPDATE: Hamas won’t challenge the election results, although they criticize Fatah’s analysis of their meaning. Meanwhile, Brant at SWLiP wonders when the Pali Party has finally hit Last Call.

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 sitting with other women in the house, Sarjang said.

A moment of gender equality from the Taliban! Will wonders never cease? One has to wonder what his former followers must think about Gafar’s choice of subterfuge, and of its efficacy. For a group as fanatical about keeping women covered up from prying male eyes, they won’t be pleased with its implications. Gafar has now made it a requirement for security forces to check under the veils of Afghani women to do a Y-chromosome check.
US forces now have Gafar for questioning. Perhaps they can soften him up by playing old Poison records and having him watch Some Like It Hot until he cracks.
NOTE: I was going to suggest To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, but I think that might be a specific violation of the Geneva Convention.