Dafydd: Why Do the Bombings Continue?

Actually, the answer is absurdly simple. There are many, many, many Sunnis in Iraq who are not themselves terrorists; but they know who the terrorists are, where they can be found, and they know that they are plotting to murder dozens of children, women, and other innocents. But because the victims are largely Shia, these Sunni simply do not care enough to become “rats” or “tattletales;” thus the bombings continue.
This probably describes a minority of Sunni, but it must be a sizeable minority, and sufficiently clustered together that there are “safe zones” known to the terrorists where they can plan, plot, and produce their deadly product. That is why the Iraqi forces cannot round them all up: a core group of several thousand are being shielded and supported by a group of cheerleaders for al-Qaeda among the Sunni in Iraq.
There might be a smaller group of Shia in Iraq who are also allowing al-Qaeda to operate freely; but they would have to be in the remote frontier areas, perhaps close to the Iranian border. The deadliest group is the one in the Sunni Triangle.
(By the way, please notice that I am boycotting apostrophes as parts of names. I refuse to jump through that hoop any longer. This is a transliteration anyway. I don’t know if there are apostrophes in Arabic, but if they want them, they can keep them. In English, it’s UnAmerican. No, it’s worse than that… it must be French. In any event, out they go! I’ll keep them for contractions and possessives, as God intended; but until the president becomes Ge’orge B’ush and we all go down to the Ga’alleri’ya, I eschew them for all other purposes.)
Where was I? Oh, yes, “Sunni Triangle.”
Maybe it’s due to fear: the Sunni who know where the terrorists are also know what they’re capable of doing if doublecrossed. Or mayhap it’s because of pent-up rage among some Sunni because they are no longer the masters. I’m sure a great many of these people are literally so low on the social-evolutionary scale that they believe only members of their own tribe are “people,” and members of other tribes are subhumans who can be killed without moral guilt. This is the essence of tribalism, and it exists in every country; but moreso in tribal countries, of course — hence the name.
But for whatever reason, logically, in order for such a widespread campaign of arbitrary bombings, mostly among the Shia, to continue (such as the one today at a gas station that slew more than fifty innocents), there must be a large number of terrorists; and such a large number cannot operate invisibly. They are known; they are observed. And they are allowed to continue.
The terrorists desperately want a civil war. And eventually, light will dawn on the Sunni: they will finally realize that if the terrorists are successful in provoking such a civil war, the Sunni will be annihilated. They will be slaughtered like goats before a feast, because they are vastly outnumbered… and because after decades of fear, terror, and oppression, the Shia are extraordinarily hungry men.
This is really not very complicated stuff. I’m articulating it here, but I know I’m preaching to the choir: everyone here knows this as well as I. At the moment, Grand Ayatollah Sistani and the Shiite members of the government are managing to hold the Shia back from a mass wave of revenge and slaughter. But with sufficient pounding, and with an odious enough indifference by the aforementioned minority of Sunni who know, the dam will burst — and then, the deluge.
That would be terrible, especially for the Sunni. It would be moderately bad for us; but the country of Iraq, and its nascent democracy, would survive… because the Shia have already caught the democracy bug from the Kurds and from us, and they will rebuild a republic from the ashes of the empire that the Baathists built. But it would take a long time, and there would be a lot of dead to bury and revenge-ridden Iraqis to eliminate.
So really, the only question is one of perception: how bright are the Sunni of Iraq? Typically, a civil war does not spring forth fully grown. There is a continuum of rationality among any group of people, and like most things in a statistical world, it tends to fall into a bell curve. At the fringes, there is a small percent of Shia that are irrational enough to retaliate against the Sunni by bombing their mosques and murdering their children. But a “small percent” of millions of people is thousands of people, and that is a lot of potential Shiite suicide bombers.
If this goes on, what will happen is that Ayatollah Sistani and Ibrahim Jaafari will gradually begin to lose control of these fringes. Sunni will begin to die in significant numbers of suicide and other attacks carried out, not by Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda, but by enraged Shia… perhaps relatives or lovers of those killed in an al-Qaeda attack. This is Zarqawi’s plan, of course, and he would cheer, expecting to see a full-scale civil war that somehow, magically, will result in Iraq coming under the control of Zarqawi, or at least once again under the rule of the Baath Party, with whom Zarqawi can deal.
But it doesn’t have to happen that way. When the Sunni suddenly wake up to the reality that it is they who are getting killed — their children, their women, their innocents — when their markets and mosques are being bombed, when their leaders are being ambushed with IEDs, when they start being driven out of mixed neighborhoods by irate Shia… that is their last chance at reclaiming rationality.
The Sunni can at that point realize that their only hope of avoiding a civil war that would obliterate them is to begin, en masse, dropping a dinar on the vast number of Sunni terrorists among them. They can tell Coalition members; they can tell Iraqi police and soldiers. Makes no difference.
But we will know that the Sunni have finally turned the corner when we begin reading about sudden sweeps that net thousands of suspects; when there is a sudden mass exodus across the Syrian border (outward bound); and when the bombers suddenly fall silent.
If that happens, then the Sunni component of Iraq will be saved. If it never does… well, c’est la guerre.

Dafydd: Associated Press Chooses Up

And so it begins — the canonization of the London bombers.
Whenever I become convinced that the MSM cannot sink lower into their miasmic bolgia, they invariably find a way to tumble to a deeper circle of Hell. Now the “useful idiot” Scheherezade Faramarzi (if that is her name) profiles the four slayers of the innocent in London. Through her thousand and one tales of passion, spirituality, and beauty, we discover they were all fine, upstanding citizens who were driven into the frenzy of madness by the evil Bush and his wicked incursion into innocent Iraq.
She starts with a bang, making certain that even the most casual reader will understand that IT’S ALL GEORGE BUSH’S FAULT:
London Bombers Were Angered by War in Iraq
by Scheherezade Faramarzi
July 15, 2005

LEEDS, England (AP) – Shahzad Tanweer, the 22-year-old son of a Pakistani-born affluent businessman, turned to Islam, the religion of his birth, a few years ago. The transformation was gradual, but then his relentless reading of the Quran and daily prayers became almost an obsession, his friends told The Associated Press. He became withdrawn and increasingly angry over the war in Iraq, according to those who knew him best.
The U.S.-led war was what likely drove him to blow himself up on a subway train last week, said his friends.

Of course. And what is Scheherezade’s source for this so convenient Grand Unified Theory of Inevitable Terrorism? A couple of spiritual Pakistani “friends” of one of the bombers, Asif Iqbal and Adnan Samir:

“He was a Muslim and he had to fight for Islam. This is called jihad,” or holy war, said Asif Iqbal, 20, who said he was Tanweer’s childhood friend.
Another friend, Adnan Samir, 21, nodded in agreement.
“They’re crying over 50 people while 100 people are dying every day in Iraq and Palestine,” said Iqbal. “If they are indeed the ones who did it, it’s because they believed it was right. They’re in Heaven.
“Have you ever been inspired in life?” he asked.

Oh God, yes! I have always wanted to fight for a brutal, butchering ghoul who raped the dying bodies of women he had slain, whose monstrous Minotaur sons had become spiritual eaters of the dead. A man so marinated in the blood of innocents that his very eyes burned red with the molten sin of the Pit. A man who exhaled the smell of death and rot, a worm-eaten corpse of a man still shuffling forward like an animate zombie. A man found cowering in a grave, which he had made his home.
Yes, I am inspired! For I worship Death the Maiden, and I drink the spinal fluid of the living. God is great! And Saddam Hussein is His prophet.
Am I alone here? WHO — THE — HELL — CARES what twisted rationalization these corrupted, soulless piles of ambulatory necrosis give for flaying the innocent living in the name of their dark Eldrich gods?
For the love of God, sequester Iqbal and Samir instanter, for they surely are the next to strap the C5 to their spindly bodies and rend the virgins they would never be allowed to embrace in life.
But the horror continues:

“He was a nice lad. I don’t know how many times he served me fish and chips,” said Peter Douchworth, 58, a Beeston resident for over 30 years. “He went out of his way to help.”

For God’s sake. Tanweer’s father owned a God damned fish and chips stand. Tanweer went “out of his way” to serve a God damned order of fish to a God damned customer who ordered the God damned thing. Who is he now, Mother Friggin’ Teresa?
Oh, but Tanweer was a fine, strapping youth — until the malevolent Dr. Bush worked his wicked way with that poor Islamic hero, Saddam Hussein.

A devoted athlete, Tanweer studied sports science at Leeds Metropolitan University and planned to get involved in sports professionally. He showed up twice a week for pickup soccer games, said a teammate who gave his name only as Saj….
Where would Tanweer and his co-activists meet or plan their attacks?
“How do football fans get together and talk about football? It’s the same thing,” said Iqbal.

But wait! There are more halos for Scheherezade to distribute like so many Frisbees.

Tanweer’s friend, Hasib Hussain, is another of the bombers identified by police. At 18, the handsome, 6-foot-tall soccer player was the youngest of the bombers. He was also the youngest of four children, two sisters and a brother. Like Tanweer, his family came from Pakistan.
Hussain, suspected of carrying out the suicide attack that claimed 13 lives on a double-decker bus, was known for his sense of humor and style. He sometime [sic] wore blue contact lenses and long hair parted in the middle.

Slew thirteen “lives!” “Sense of humor!” Jolly good joke, that! Always quick with his wit, that Mr. Hussain.
Not like the beastly Bush, who goes about invading countries for no reason whatsoever, kidnapping pious pilgrims like our second martyr’s namesake.
Ah, but our heroine of the Thousand Nights and a Night has but begun:

“He was a good lad . . . a good-looking man. He had a good personality,” the friend [“identified only by the initial G”] said.
Some people said Hussain became more religious two years ago but never abandoned his boyhood friends for radicals.

The sickness has spread deep into the body of Islam in London. Prognosis uncertain. Radical surgery only hope. Box-cutters, please.

Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, born in Pakistan and another of the suicide bombers, is known in his neighborhood as an exemplary community worker.
A father of an 8-month-old baby girl, Khan was a popular former teacher of children with learning disabilities.

And what do his former students think about a man who is so kind to those with disabilities — going out and blowing the freaking arms and legs off of various children, mothers, and old folks who made the dreadful mistake of riding public transportation on the day of Khan’s elevation into Heaven? Oh, those he taught to value life certainly understand the enormity of how he ended his own accursed existence in order to murder others in the name of God:

Former students at the Hillside Primary School said Khan left for Pakistan last December to look after his ailing father. It was not clear when he returned to Britain.
“I liked him. He was nice,” said Billy Sandersen, 13. He and other former pupils said they were shocked when they saw his picture in the papers as one of the suspects.
However, they said they still liked him.
“Just a little bit, but not for what he’s done – killing innocent people,” Sandersen said.
“I still like him,” said Sean Woodham, 13, another former pupil, “because he always helped me with my homework.”

Her mission accomplished, the selfless daughter of the Grand Vizier leaves us with the same wisdom with which she began the piece, making certain that we all know the real villain in this little kafuffle in London:

Maroof Latif, an unemployed Beeston resident, said he knew Khan since he was a child and believes if he took part in the terrorist bombings of the subways it was because of his anger over the war in Iraq and the U.S.-British occupation.

London bombers falling down, falling down, falling down
London bombers falling down,
My brave laddies!

Another must speak for me, for all I can think is black and red: would that this whole lot had but a single throat, so I could cut it. I yield the balance of my time, first to Mr. Herbert George Wells in his last work, Mind At the End of Its Tether, and last to Mr. William Butler Yeats:

This world is at the end of its tether. The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded. He [Wells] is telling you the conclusions to which reality has driven his own mind….
That book, ’42 to ’44 [A Contemporary Memoir upon Human Behaviour During the Crisis of the World Revolution], now seems to him merely incidental matter. It is like the remembered shouts of angry people in a train that has passed and gone for ever. His renascent intelligence finds now that we are confronted with strange convincing realities so overwhelming that, were he indeed one of those logical consistent creatures we incline to claim we are, he would think day and night in a passion of concentration, dismay and mental struggle upon the ultimate disaster that confronts our species.

W.B. Yeats, “the Second Coming,” 1919:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

May Scheherezade Faramarzi, our virginal Virgil guiding us on this reportorial tour of her inner Inferno, find the peace she has earned… and may she rest in it forever.

Dafydd: Abbott and Costello Meet “If It’s Rove”…

I probably should not assume that everyone is on the same page of the dictionary. But one of the commenters to a previous post of mine, Dafydd: Bride of “If It’s Rove”…, raised a definitional point that deserves response.
Attempting to prove that Bush indeed made some sort of “firing pledge,” he notes a press conference on June 10, 2004 in Savannah, GA, in which the following exchange occurred:

Q: Given — given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney’s discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent’s name?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s up to —
Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that’s up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.

The first point that leaps out at me is that the last sentence indicates that Bush’s “yes” was in fact answering the first question — whether it would be difficult to find the source — not the second about some “pledge” that in fact cannot seem to be located. The referrant of the word “that” in Bush’s response cannot possibly be the pledge, unless Bush is suggesting that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald should be trying to discover whether any such “firing promise” was made.
The second point is one that also went unnoticed by the commenter: the rather wide divergence between the “pledge” that Bush is said to have made, to “fire anyone found to have” “leaked the agent’s name,” and what Sen. Reid claimed yesterday that Bush had pledged: “The White House promised that if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration, his administration.”
Even if such a pledge were made, Reid’s statement was still a wild-eyed exaggeration of it.
But there is an even more basic question to be asked: what, exactly, is a “leaker,” and would the term apply to Karl Rove?
When used as a transitive verb, certainly as the president might have used it, the meaning of leak is clear: to deliberately divulge information that one knows is confidential. (To do so accidentally is called “being a blabbermouth,” or having “loose lips,” or “running off at the mouth”… not being a “leaker.”)
That is, even if such a pledge were made (to fire anyone found to have “leaked” classified information) it would naturally be restricted to a person who had done so deliberately and with full knowledge that the information was classified.
So we are thrown back to the question I discussed in Dafydd: If It’s Rove… Part Deux: is there any evidence at all that Karl Rove was aware that Plame’s employment was classified information? The answer to that question is no, there is not. If there were, I trust that it would have been a banner headline, above the fold, on every newspaper in the country. Rather, as Andrea Mitchell and others have admitted (and as I mentioned before), Plame’s employment was commonly known around the D.C. cocktail circuit, and that is almost certainly where Rove found out about it — not from classified sources that he would have had no access to in the first place.
There is thus every reason to suppose not only that Rove did not believe that information to be classified, but further that he was under the impression that reporters already knew it… as indeed they may well have. After all, the focus of Rove’s comment was not that she was in the CIA but rather that she, not Cheney or Tenet, was the one who suggested her husband, Joe Wilson, for the trip.
Rove, therefore, did not “leak” this information to Matthew Cooper, Judith Miller, or any other reporter; and even if Bush had made a pledge to fire anyone found to have deliberately leaked Plame’s identity, it would not apply in this case.
But my wife Sachi just raised the more intriguing question: given all that has come out to date, the general waiver Rove signed, the specific waiver he gave Cooper, and the revelation of Cooper’s e-mail by his employer… why is Judith Miller still sitting in the pen? Why hasn’t she sung? Aside from the simple possibility of churlish stubbornness, there are only two answers that I can see, one extraordinarily unlikely:
Speculation alert!
1) (The unlikely one) If Karl Rove said to Miller, “now Judy, this is classified information because Plame is an undercover agent, but I’m going to tell you so you can help us take revenge on Joe Wilson;” then Miller might conclude that Rove’s waiver to Cooper wouldn’t cover all this extra information. This is almost too silly even to bring up… except that if I don’t, somebody will post the suggestion in the comments and accuse me of covering it up. Consider this a pre-emptive strike.
2) (Much more likely) Judith Miller may in fact be sitting on two sources. Perhaps she got the same information from Rove that Cooper got. But suppose she decided to nail down whether Plame really did work for the CIA.
Miller might have a contact actually inside the Company who she called to confirm the claim; and that contact may have “authorized access” to the CIA personnel files. He or she may have consulted those files and verified to Miller that yes, indeed, Valerie Plame was an agent. And therefore, that contact may actually be a “covered person” under U.S. Code Section 421. Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources.
If that is the case, then she really would be shielding her (other) source from likely discharge, indictment, conviction, and prison time, especially in a case as highly charged politically as this… and especially especially after the Democrats have repeatedly claimed (without evidence) that Bush “promised” or “pledged” to “fire anyone found to have” “leaked the agent’s name.”
If my speculation is correct, we will never know, alas; because Miller will take that information into and out of the country-club jail she now calls home.

Dafydd: Hillary Will Never Be the Presidential Nominee

…Not in 2008, not ever.
First, a note: the Captain is now back, so I suspect this will be my last post. I haven’t yet spoken to him; but this blog is not really a multi-person venue. Yes, there is Whiskey and a couple of others; but they post rarely. For the most part, this is the labor of love of Captain Ed. Heck, it’s called Captain’s Quarters, not General Quarters!
So unless I hear different, I will assume that as he stands up, I stand down. But I just wanted to leave with a final controversial prediction.
I absolutely believe, conventional wisdom notwithstanding, that Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham will never be the Democratic nominee for president. (She might not even be a candidate, if she thinks she’s going to lose; but her ego may compel her to try, just as John Kerry’s did.)
The reason is fairly simple: because she simply cannot win election, and she will be tainted by the Kerry Kurse. Bluntly put, senators are simply not elected president unless they have achieved a position closer to the idea of a chief executive of the country… such as a governorship or the vice presidency.
There have been only two exceptions since 1900: Warren Harding, and of course, John F. Kennedy. And at least in the case of the latter, the election was razor-thin, even against Richard Nixon, a man who was violently hated by half the country even as early as 1960 (due to his work on the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities and to his outing of Helen Gahagan Douglas as a Red). Harding was the last convincing senatorial win, crushing the former governor of Ohio, James M. Cox, in 1920.
This is not an accident. A senator is simply one of a bunch of people (currently 100), not single-handedly responsible for “governing” any large governmental organization… and Americans, by and large, do not see the presidency as an entry-level job. Would it make sense for a Fortune-500 company to hire a CEO who had never even been a high-level manager?
But there is an even more basic reason senators tend not to get elected: by the very nature of the job, a senator is a deal-maker… that is, a compromiser. They do not decide, they debate; they do not govern, they negotiate, they cut deals, they sacrifice one principle for another.
Senators are not leaders; even the so-called leadership is not what most folks think of as leading: it’s more like herding cats, or trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.
A senator inevitably votes for a bill that is anathema to his constituents — in exchange for a colleague’s vote on a bill that the first senator’s constituents want; and both senators pray nobody finds out until after re-election.
But during a presidential campaign, at least in recent years, every least controversial vote of a candidate when he was in the House or Senate is pored over, dissected, deconstructed, and vacuum-molded into an attack ad by his opponents, first in his own party’s primaries, then in the general by the even more brutal nominee of the opposite party. You must remember… we saw this exact dynamic in both the 2000 and the 2004 elections: in 2000, Gore was able to rise above his Senate past by pointing to his eight-year stint (seems like eighty) as vice president. He nearly won!
But in 2004, JFK was utterly and irrevocably defined by his Senate career: a mediocre hack who grandstanded his way through the decades, lurching from one outrageous statement to another, and never actually running anything in his entire life… not even his own finances, since his fortune came from inheritance and then a pair of fortuitous marriages. The only things he ever did apart from legislative politics was a very brief stint as a prosecutor, and of course his even briefer stint as a Swift-Boat commander.
Aside from that last, everything I wrote above applies equally to Hillary Rodham… except, of course, that it isn’t “decades” in her case but, by 2008, less than a single decade. Other than that, during which she has done nothing of any significance (also like Kerry), her only important jobs were as head of the Legal Services Corporation… and as Bill Clinton’s wife.
Every position she obtain after that marriage was “inherited” from her husband, from her disasterous foray into socialized medicine (the Mussolini-esque “Task Force on National Health Care Reform”) to her election as a senator from a state she had never lived in her life, procurred for her by her hubby’s election team.
Amazingly, she managed, during this period, to rack up the highest negatives that any first lady has ever suffered… another reason she will never be the Democratic presidential nominee. Her nomination would be catastrophic for the party, as it would galvanize Republican voters against her like nothing before, eclipsing even 2004 — and especially Republican women, who Hillary has scorned and dissed from Day-1. This at a time when the only way the Democrats can hope to win the presidency is if Republican voters are apathetic and fail to turn out; for Ken Mehlman has already proven that when both sides turn out heavy, the Republican wins.
It might be different if there were absolutely nobody to carry the banner of the Democratic Left. She might be nominated then, though she would still lose the general election. But that simply is not the case; there are any number of better-qualified liberals willing to run, starting right at the top with Howard the Dean. Despite his promise not to run if he were chosen as chairman of the DNC, there is actually no law against it. And he is a governor and a former presidential candidate with a proven base of support. Then there is also Gephardt, Biden, Gore, and possibly even Tom Daschle. Slightly more moderate Dems like Mark Warner will probably appeal to the crossover constituency that Hillary is comically trying to woo at the moment.
I believe that Hillary will end up being the forgotten women in 2008. Her borrowed cloak of power will be moth-ridden and threadbare, and she will be “just another senator,” one of a hundred, and not a very powerful one at that.
And she will not be the Democratic nominee — then or ever.

Dafydd: Point of Order For CQ Readers

In the Navy, we used to say “two percent never get the word.”
So maybe this post will reduce that down to 1%….
Whenever you see a post here on CQ, or anywhere else, for that matter (since I’m just a vagabond blogger), that begins thus — Dafydd: — it means that the post was not written by Captain Ed. It was written by me, Dafydd ab Hugh, guest blogging on yet another brilliant, controversial, and stunningly popular blog owned by someone else.
Got it? If the blogpost begins with just the title, no name, then the Captain Himself wrote it. But if it begins with my name, Dafydd, then I, Dafydd ab Hugh, wrote it, not the Captain.
Thanks, all!

Dafydd: Weep, Wail!

Is this the whiniest article ever?

Newspaper Withholding Two Articles After Jailing
by Robert D. McFadden
The New York Times
July 9, 2005
The editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer said last night that the newspaper, acting on the advice of its lawyers, was withholding publication of two major investigative articles because they were based on illegally leaked documents and could lead to penalties against the paper and the jailing of reporters.
The editor, Doug Clifton, said lawyers for The Plain Dealer had concluded that the newspaper, Ohio’s largest daily, would probably be found culpable if the authorities were to investigate the leaks and that reporters might be forced to identify confidential sources to a grand jury or go to jail.
“Basically, we have come by material leaked to us that would be problematical for the person who leaked it,” Mr. Clifton said in a telephone interview. “The material was under seal or something along those lines.”

All right… why is the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer calling McFadden of the Times, gloating to Cleveland readers that the Plain Dealer is not publishing a story because they obtained it illegally?
Am I missing something here? I mean, who the hell cares?
If the story is that important, surely they could “legalize” it by finding some on-the-record source that said something vaguely similar, then claiming that they deduced the rest by a brilliant puff of logic.
Reading further, however, we discover that the story of the non-story IS the story:

If anything, Mr. Clifton said, The Plain Dealer’s potential legal problem with the leaked documents was “even more pointed” than the cases of Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper.
“These are documents that someone had and should not have released to anyone else,” he said. If an investigation were pursued, the newspaper, its reporters and their sources could all face court penalties for unauthorized disclosures.

The rack! The Chinese water torture! The Procrustean bed!

Mr. Clifton declined to provide details about the two investigative articles being withheld, but he characterized them as “profoundly important,” adding, “They would have been of significant interest to the public.” Asked if they might be published at some later date, he said, “Not in the short term.”

Wow! It’s “profoundly important,” but by golly, they just can’t bring themselves to tell it because they’re afraid. Why… why… could it be that the evil Ashcroft — oh, wait, I mean the evil Alberto — is brutally crushing freedom of the press by daring to prosecute people who leak classified information, information that was sealed by a judge, “or something along those lines?” (Nice and precise, Doug old bean.) Worse, they may call in the accessory after the fact and ask him who stole the tarts.
I have a real soft spot in my heart for the Plain Dealer; I sold them my first opinion piece mumblety-mumble years ago (I got very snide about 2,000,000 Japanese who signed a petition in Japan demanding that America tighten up its gun-control laws). But this reads like some ill-mannered, pre-pubescent brat explaining why he didn’t do his maths. I fully expected Mr. Clifton to add, “and then you’ll be sorry!”
So why is America’s newspaper of record publishing an article about a rival newspaper, two hundred and fifty miles away, and its trunk story? Oh, I should have guessed. Here’s the money quote:

“Take away a reporter’s ability to protect a tipster’s anonymity and you deny the public vital information,” Mr. Clifton wrote. And to dramatize the point, he concluded his column by telling readers that The Plain Dealer was itself obliged to withhold stories based on illegal disclosures for fear of the legal consequences.

Cue the melodramatic music. Imagine the following read like Lady MacBeth’s “out damned spot” soliloquy, as performed by Joan Crawford:

“As I write this, two stories of profound importance languish in our hands,” Mr. Clifton wrote. “The public would be well-served to know them, but both are based on documents leaked to us by people who would face deep trouble for having leaked them. Publishing the stories would almost certainly lead to a leak investigation and the ultimate choice: talk or go to jail. Because talking isn’t an option and jail is too high a price to pay, these two stories will go untold for now. How many more are out there?”

Gosh darn those Republicans! For no reason whatsoever, they launched that ridiculous investigation of who sold the tarts to Bob Novak. The Democrats begged Bush not to waste time trying to find out who “outed” Valerie Plame — but nooooo-ooooo, he just had to sic Patrick Fitzgerald on all those reporters. What a tyrant!
Okay, ready with those violins? Here we go:

Mr. Clifton said he was surprised that there had been so little public reaction to his disclosure of “something that newspapers typically don’t reveal – that real live news had been stifled.”
“I hoped the public would be bothered by that,” he [sniffed].

All right, all right, the last phrase was actually “he said,” not “he sniffed.” But am I the only one who suspects this story of “profound importance” was actually some trivial little nothing, if it even existed at all, whose only importance was as a club to bash Bush? Look what you made me do!
For God’s sake. Grow up. If this is the cream of J-school and the exempt media, then maybe newspapers should start hiring mathematicians, musicians, bakers, or truck drivers: somebody who actually has some professional competence at something useful.
I don’t think Mr. Clifton would ever make it as a blogger.

Dafydd: Come One, Come All, and Have a Ball!

Bear Flag League Conference coming up soon!
(The primary category for this post should be Log Rolling, but the Captain inexplicably failed to set that one up.)
Where: CalTech (that’s in Pasadena, California — hence the “bear flag” reference)
When: 17 July 2005
How much: $50 if you’re a schlemiel who pays full price; $40 if you contact Patterico (see link) and pretend that you listen to Hugh Hewitt or that you read Captain’s Quarters. Oh, wait, if you’re reading this, I guess you qualify legitimately!
Link: Bear Flag League Conference
Why: I dunno… good conversation, rubber chicken, who could ask for anything more? Speeches by Ted Costa (conservative activist and one of the originators of the recall petition that booted Gray Davis back into the Outer Darkness); Daniel Weintraub (Sacramento Bee columnist who operates the SacBee corporate blog California Insider); and Bob Hertzberg (unsuccessful mayoral candidate in the recent Los Angeles elections, likely would have been better than either the clod who won the runoff, Antonio Villaraigosa, or the incrumbent who was crushed in the runoff, James K. Hahn).
Come to the party, and you’ll get to harass Patterico mercilessly! He promises to help every one of you out for free on all of your petty, personal legal problems. Just call him anytime; ask him for his home phone number.

Dafydd: Hip Deep in the Big Muddy of SDP

I have my flak jacket, my helmet, and my concrete bunker. I’m going to need them… because I’m about to be in flagrante delicto of committing the act of controversy.
I am about to make a case for a very selective version of substantive due process.
I’m not talking about the trivial case that only argues for incorporation of some or all of the Bill of Rights to the states. I mean a full-throated argument in favor of so-called “fundamental rights,” rights not explicitly enunciated in the Constitution, being used by judges to strike down some laws.
Yep, the same judicial philosophy that was used — misused, in my opinion — to bring us the abominations of Dred Scott, Griswold, and Roe, along with many, many others. I hope to show that these were errors of execution, but that the principle is not necessarily wrong per se. And I even argue that selective substantive due process (SSDP) can be used in accordance with the judicial philosophy of “original understanding,” which I also support: the idea that what is important is the actual text, read as plainly as possible using the original defintion of the words at the time they were written. Original understanding is not fundamentally inconsistent with SSDP (though it is inconsistent with the way substantive due process is often misused by activist judges).
If this sort of argument turns your crank, read on.

Continue reading “Dafydd: Hip Deep in the Big Muddy of SDP”

Dafydd: The Battle of London

One reason I have such faith in the British is that I remember my history.
Great Britain did not simply endure the Battle of Britain, the attempt by Nazi Germany to subjugate the British people. They fought back. The RAF was in the air every damned day and hellish night, fighting, killing, and defying the enemy.
In 1940, while America still slumbered in splendid isolationism and Stalin was still allied with Hitler, Great Britain became the very first country to refuse to join the Nazis, to refuse to surrender to the Nazis, and actually to defeat the Nazis and drive them off.
Adolf Hitler was dumbfounded. After Dunkirk, he made the same mistake the terrorists make today: he thought Great Britain was defeated and would quickly offer her surrender. But instead, the British dug in and fought back, despite staggering losses — more than 20,000 dead and 30,000 wounded — and the Brits shot down literally hundreds of Luftwaffe bombers and escort fighters. In the end, “Operation Sealion” was a catastrophic defeat for Hitler, the first time the Nazis had ever been thrown back. The first but not the last; Britain led the way.
History tells me that the British will continue to lead the way, right alongside us, just has they have since 9/11. I have faith today’s generation will live up to yesterday’s, just as they have here in America.