Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Valerie Plame Kerfluffle

Again, I sometimes feel like I should just post a link to James Taranto's Best of the Web and be done with this whole blogging thing.

In today's edition, Taranto appears to have proved that neither Karl Rove nor anyone else in the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Identities Act when Rove casually mentioned (when asked by Time reporter Matthew Cooper - who was ostensibly interviewing Rove about domestic policy) that Plame had been at least partly responsible for the selection of her ineffectual husband by the CIA to conduct a mission to Niger to determine if the Iraqis had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium from the Nigerienes.

(You'll recall that by Wilson's own account he spent the entire time "drinking sweet tea" with members of the Nigerien government in his leave-no-stone-unturned effort to get to the bottom of the Iraq-Niger WMD connection.)

Unless we're missing something, Joe Wilson has disproved his own accusation that someone in the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. USA Today reports:

'The alleged crime at the heart of a controversy that has consumed official Washington -- the "outing" of a CIA officer -- may not have been a crime at all under federal law, little-noticed details in a book by the agent's husband suggest.

'In The Politics of Truth, former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes that he and his future wife both returned from overseas assignments in June 1997. Neither spouse, a reading of the book indicates, was again stationed overseas. They appear to have remained in Washington, D.C., where they married and became parents of twins.'

This meant that Plame would have been stationed in the U.S. for six years before Bob Novak published his column citing her two years ago today. As USA Today notes:

'The column's date is important because the law against unmasking the identities of U.S. spies says a "covert agent" must have been on an overseas assignment "within the last five years." The assignment also must be long-term, not a short trip or temporary post, two experts on the law say.'

All the Democrats who are braying for Karl Rove's head can't be very confident that he's committed a crime. If they were, they would wait for an indictment, which would be a genuine embarrassment to the administration.

What would I do without James Taranto? I'll have to remember to send him a fruit basket come Christmas.

By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, this was my 100th post.

Some people don't deserve their good fortune

And a lot of them are entertainers (and the inexplicable Paris Hilton).

MSNBC had this story about an R&B singer named Omarion. (Yeah, I'd never heard of him either.)

Anyway, this cretin had been in England for the pointless, feel-good event, Live 8. (You do know that this eight-city mass navel-contemplation didn't raise one single penny for Africa, right? The whole thing was designed to "raise awareness". Excuse me while I retch.) I guess after the concert young master Omarion went to London (probably to shop for more "bling"). He just so happened to be in London on July 7th.

Oh my goodness, you exclaim. Is he all right? Rest easy, he's OK. (I know I will!) Come on. Did you really think a celebrity, even an E-lister like this twit, would be caught dead on, or even near, public transportation?

But that didn't stop this dolt (who probably couldn't find London on a map) from asking his fans to pray for his safe trip home. Here's an excerpt from the MSNBC story:

“Omarion was in London during the tragic bombings that struck this morning,” a statement by the singer’s publicist AR PR Marketing, released hours after the bombings, said.

Making no mention of the fatalities or casualties of the blasts, the singer’s statement concluded, “He would like his fans to pray that he has a safe trip and a safe return home. He appreciates your support.”

Is there really any need for me to get up on my soapbox and comment on the self-centeredness and vacuity of the modern celebrity?

CNN's coverage one week after the London terror attacks

I'm watching CNN right now as they cover the memorial services one week after the London terror attacks. It's positively Kafka-esque watching Jim Clancy as he interviews various social workers, psychologists and representatives of the British Muslim community as they struggle with the question of how four, apparently middle-class British citizens of Pakistani origin could have conspired to kill so many of their fellow Britons.

Most risible was watching the head of the British Muslim Council as he whined about how Muslims feel separated and alienated from the rest of British society. Gee, that couldn't be because Muslims choose to separate themselves from the rest of society by encouraging a separate identity, language and education, could it? He became even more flummoxed when he tried to explain why sending your impressionable young son to a madrassah in Pakistan is still an okay thing to do. Sure, just ask John Walker Lindh's parents how he turned out.

I feel like I am in the old SNL skit about the murder of Buckwheat. In it reporters interview friends, neighbors, schoolteachers and relatives of the killer. To a man, they describe a well-mannered, helpful, respectful young man. Yet when asked if they thought he could have killed Buckwheat, they invariably reply, "Ohhh, yes. It was all he talked about" There's even a shot of a high school yearbook page in which the killer-to-be had been named "Most Likely To Kill Buckwheat".

Hey, Jim, want to know how it's possible these fine, upstanding young men could have killed 50 people?


We as a society have a problem with enemy identification and it is forcing us to fight this war with one hand tied behind our backs.

Perhaps more retch-inducing is the stories of trauma of the survivors. First of all, you want to know about trauma? Try getting blown up! That's trauma. And if CNN were really that interested in survivors' stories they've been missing a big scoop for the last 20 years not interviewing Israelis.

And, this being CNN, we couldn't have a story about terrorism without tossing a little blame on the War on Iraq. But that was to be expected.

Oh, that's right. My remote has an OFF button.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Want to know why I support the War on Islam?

Hell, yes, I said it. Does anyone really think we are fighting just any old terrorists? Does anyone really think that it is just an amazing coincidence that Muslims are responsible for a disproportionate amount of indiscriminate killing of innocent men, women, and children?

Well, if you do happen to be that dim-witted or naive, allow me to introduce you to:

Mohammed Bouyeri, a baby-faced 27-year-old with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, broke his vow not to co-operate with the Amsterdam court by admitting shooting and stabbing his victim last November.

"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," he told its three-strong panel of judges.

"I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do the same, exactly the same." . . .

Bouyeri then turned to the victim's mother, Anneke, in the public gallery, and told her he felt nothing for her. Mrs van Gogh watched as he read out from what appeared to be a statement: "I don't feel your pain. I have to admit that I don't have any sympathy for you. I can't feel for you because you're a non-believer."

Charming fellow, isn't he?

(Thanks, as always, to the indispensible James Taranto.)

Quick hitter about the Supreme Court vacancy

You know what I would do, if I were President Bush? I would meet and consult with each and every Senator so inclined. I would listen politely, smile and nod my head a lot.

And then I would still nominate whoever I darn well please!

Bush is already doing more than is required by the Constitution. The Senate's "advice and consent" duty only kicks in after the President has nominated someone. Bush is already dangerously close to establishing a precedent for prior Senate approval of Supreme Court nominees. (Of course, any such precedent would be quickly repudiated by Demos the next time a Democrat President has a chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice.) Republicans, President Bush included, are displaying a really short memory in this [one-sided] effort at collegiality. How quickly they forgot how Democrats ran roughshod over Republicans when they were the minority in Congress. Does anyone else remember how Hillary froze out all Republicans during her ill-fated health care reform effort?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

More on the missing SEAL

I found another story about the missing SEAL on MSNBC. The story said that the Taliban claimed to have already executed the remaining missing SEAL. This last commando is the only unaccounted for US soldier from the four-man team that ran into trouble in Afghanistan. Two are confirmed dead, and one was rescued. It was the team's call for reinforcement that led to the downed Chinook with the loss of 16 brave soldiers last week.

The story on MSNBC included comments from Defense Department spokesmen. The DoD claims to know about the report but has no information leading them to believe its authenticity. They say that they are continuing their search in the hopes that the remaining SEAL is still alive.

I hope they're right. I really would like to hear that they found that guy. Good luck and God be with you, whereever you are!

Questions about 7/7

There are some aspects of this week's terror attack in London that point to Islamic perpetrators, but there are several others that I can't quite figure out.

First, the similarities. Well, for one, for the last thirty years, pretty much every time there's been a terrorist attack, suspicion has fallen on Muslims because for, oh, about the last thirty years Arab Muslims have been responsible for a lot of terrorist attacks. Second, there are the statements by an obscure Arab group, boasting of links to al-Qaeda, claiming responsibility for the attacks. Now, CNN just had a story on the bombings and they claimed that the high level of casualties was another similarity. This got me thinking about the attacks in general, and that got me here blogging.

Anyway, I don't agree with the high casualty argument. 50 people, with all due respect to the dead in London, just isn't that many victims. 9/11 numbered near 3,000 dead. Madrid, 192. Bali, some 200 dead. 50 is mild by comparison. This got me thinking about another dissimilarity between this attack and other 9/11 attacks. Yes, there is the simultaneity of the attacks (another similarity), but using electronic timers, not human detonators. Of course, I am sure the terrorists would have wished for more casualties, but the fact that they used timers and not people increased the odds of decreasing the lethality of their strike.

The other big problem I have with this (well, that and the fact that the guys who are getting paid to investigate this attack haven't yet confirmed that this was al-Qaeda) is the timing. The timing seems just awful to me, especially for a group that, let's give it to 'em, has had pretty good timing. They struck on 9/11 at a time when they knew air security has dangerous cracks that could be exploited. If I'm not mistaken, Bali coincided with an election in Australia (October 2002). And then the expertly timed Madrid attack, which has, so far, yielded the greatest effect, cowing the Spanish out of Iraq.

So, I can't quite figure out the timing of this attack. Or, the location. Why London? You would think they would want to target Scotland. I mean, if the catalyzing event is Gleneagles, why attack London so far away? Was the security too tight at Gleneagles? Perhaps leaving London vulnerable? But, then, why disrupt Gleneagles? The G-8 meeting was going to accomplish nothing while talking mainly about Africa and climate change. Big deal. Who cares if you disrupt that yawn-fest?

I mean, you would think a terrorist would want to keep a low profile until the opportunity for a decisive strike arose. Don't draw attention to yourself until you're ready to really do some damage. Well, nobody ever said terrorist were smart. Perhaps, these aren't. I hate to sound like I am making light because I am serious when I say this: this has the feel of a terrorist attack by a really smart, disgruntled teen, rather than Islamic terrorists. Some aspects of it just seem unpracticed, almost amateurish, with flashes of technical competence.

What's the symbolism here? I'm missing it. Because if the idea is to send a message to America's staunch ally in the Global War on Terror, then why attack now? The British just had elections in May. That would have been the time to strike, especially with one of candidate Blair's big weaknesses being Iraq. A terror event in London, during the campaign, and we could have a different resident at Number 10 Downing Street.

Breaking Story?

My Dad's good friend, Nick Keck, sends me interesting news items, pretty much every day. One item really jumped off the screen at me:

1429 GMT - A U.S. Navy SEAL missing in Afghanistan since June 28 hasbeen captured and will be executed, Taliban spokesman Mulla LatifHakimi said July 8. Hakimi said the SEAL is being held in a house in Kunar anda video would be released of his death. Two of the four SEALS have been found dead and one has been rescued.

I tried finding other reports on this story on, Google's news page,, and but couldn't find any other sources on this. Unfortunately, the Sitrep doesn't include sources for the items.

However, if this story turns out to be true, just remember this the next time someone talks about an "exit strategy" or troop withdrawals. Just remember who we are fighting here. These guys have captured one of our guys and are going to execute him. And then make that grisly scene public. That's their idea of an exit strategy - for us!

And Dick Durbin compares our own men to Nazis and Cambodian killing fields soldiers? Let's be clear what we are talking about here. Some terrorist detainees had to crouch in uncomfortable positions for hours. Some dogs barked at them. Some had to listen to Christina Aguilera non-stop. No-one was filmed being beheaded. Certainly, millions didn't die. Statements such as Durbin's are perfidious. And his weaselly quasi-apology only compounded his error, as far as I am concerned.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Supreme Court Vacancy(ies)?

There's so much to cover here, but I'll start with what inspired me to post in the first place.

Chuck Muth had this in his today's News 'N Views newsletter:

"The hot rumor yesterday was that Chief Justice William Rehnquist would resign from the Supreme Court today. The hot rumor today is that Justice John Paul Stevens will join him."

This would give George Bush an unprecedented three nominations at once. I haven't checked, but in my readings on the vacancies - and there have been plenty of pixels killed on this subject already - I don't get the feeling that a single president has had the opportunity to nominate three justices at once. I'll do some more checking and update as I learn more.

Three nominations would give George Bush the chance to really put his money where his mouth is. With Scalia and Thomas two of the younger remaining six, Bush has the chance to install an "originalist" bloc on the Court. During his campaign in 2000, the only two names out of his lips were Scalia and Thomas. But does he have the guts to do it?

Probably not. And this leads me to my next point(s). Where did this idea come from that each justice had to be replaced with a justice of equal judicial temperament, thereby maintaining the ideological balance of the Court? This is a recent phenomenon, I'm sure. And I'm sure it started with Thurgood Marshall's retirement, when it seemed George H. W. Bush was compelled to fill Marshall's seat with an African-American. Of course, the last laugh was on Papa Bush on that one.

Anyway, Bush the Younger should bear that nomination in mind. And not because he promised to nominate more judges like Thomas, but because it would give him a chance to pull a Thomas, on the court. You want a judge that "looks like America"? The first female justice on the Court just retired? Gotta replace her with another woman? Meet Judge Janice Rogers Brown. (I'll admit to cribbing this idea from Chuck Muth but I think it's great.) She's fresh off a Senate confirmation hearing, so it would make it harder for Democrat obstructionists (and their muckraking partners) to derail her.

Thomas Sowell recently wrote a very candid column that sounded his (and echoed many others') genuine anger at the Democrat's judicial obstructionism and the Republicans almost willful inability to do anything about it. I mean, it's been one defeat after another. First the filibusters of highly-qualified men and women who were punished for their supposed (and, in some cases, genuinely-held) views and not being judged on their abilities as jurists. Then the Republicans long non-campaign against the obstructionism, during which Bill Frist threatened endlessly to invoke the "nuclear option". Indeed, Frist was able to keep the conversation on the "nuclear option" going for so long that the left had time to organize and mount a media campaign against it.

Then came the "Gang of Fourteen"'s deal to avert the "nuclear option". In this episode, seven brave Senators from each party broke from the ranks to the middle (if you believe the conventional media's portrayal) - led by one of the only Republican that the mainstream media likes, John McCain, but only because he's continually putting his thumb in his own party's eye - and brokered a deal to, well, to not use the filibuster again....unless we really, really need to, to block someone we really, really don't like (this being the Democrat's side of the deal). And in exchange the Republicans got floor votes on, like, three nominees that should have had floor votes in the first place.

Of course, this deal does nothing for eminently qualified nominee Miguel Estrada who withdrew his name after twisting in the wind for two years for being, what? Too Hispanic? (I thought that would be a good thing. You know, diversity.) Not having a paper trail? Having the cojones to be a conservative Hispanic? It's still not clear.

And, I can't let pass without comment (as others have already commented) the revulsion I feel upon hearing Ted Kennedy's thoughts on the judicial nomination process. For those of you that don't recall, Ted Kennedy is basically the reason that Robert Bork's surname is now a verb denoting an unfair, often scurrilous, attack against a presidential nominee. Back in 1987 Ted Kennedy launched his almost instantaneous attack on what he called "Robert Bork's America", an America where abortions will be relegated to back alleys, blacks and whites will return to separate lunch counters, the sun won't shine any more, birds will stop singing. You get the picture. All bad things. Kennedy offered not one passage of Bork's writings, not one public statement, nothing in Bork's considerable "paper trail", not one shred of evidence, much less proof, that Bork held anything even remotely close to such views. And yet that fat windbag still sits in the Senate, and Robert Bork commutes to and from the AEI building, working in relative obscurity, instead of on the High Court on which he was eminently qualified to sit.

By the way, all the usual suspects in a confirmation fight, People for the American Way, Alliance for Justice, NARAL, et al., swear that they won't automatically oppose any nominee sent to the Senate by Bush. Yeah, and if you believe that insert your favorite joke implying massive gullibility here. While they all say they won't, as a matter of course, oppose any nominee, they've been buying up domain names like:,,, and And not content with merely (perhaps) using these domains to launch websites designed to coordinate effort to defeat potential Bush nominees, they've also bought up domains like:,,, and Now, why would they do such a thing? Perhaps they weren't lying when they said they might support a Bush nominee. Yeah, and if you believe that insert your favorite joke implying massive gullibility here.

I really hope that George Bush has the same kind of courage in making these choices as he's shown in fighting the Islamists. I really do. I hope he realizes that they are going to attack and put through the meat grinder any nominee he sends up, and so you might as well get one up there you want.

The Democrats aren't going to like you or praise you, no matter what you do. So, screw 'em! No matter whose name gets sent up, they're going to be an "extremist", someone out of "Bork's America (a place, which if it did exist as Ted Kennedy described it, certainly doesn't now). And when it's the Democrats' turn to govern again, they will not hesitate to nominate and confirm another Breyer or Ginsburg. And they certainly aren't going to pull out any stops to derail your nominee, so pick a good one! This is too important to screw up.