Fat Steve's Blatherings

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Libby Indictment


        It's somewhat weird.
    There's no charges under the Espionage Act, or the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

  • There are charges of Obstruction of Justice, Making False Statements, and Perjury.

  • Those are somewhat ambiguous and flimsy.

  • In part, they depend on whom you believe, the reporters or Libby.

  • In part, they depend on what documents and other Administration officials say Libby knew.

  • In part it depends on whether, when he made certain statement, Libby was lying to the government, or informing the government of lies he told reporters. That makes the governments whole case shaky.

  • Nonetheless, it looks bad for Scooter.

At Length:

        Well, I've been through the indictment, which is available here in the evil PDF format, or at Fat Steve's Archives in html.  Things don't look good for Scooter Libby.

        The first thing worth noting is that there's various references to classification, possible harm to the national security, etc., but none of that forms part of the charges.  Scooter's charge with lying and obstructing, and national security really has nothing to do with the charges.

        Libby told the Grand Jury, and told the FBI, that reporters called him, and asked him certain questions, and that he gave certain answers.  The reporters dispute Libby's account.  If the petit jury believes the reporters version of the conversations, then Scooter goes down.

        Scooter told the Grand Jury, and told the FBI, that he said certain things to reporters.  Let's assume that these statements to the FBI and Grand Jury, concerning what he said to reporters, are true.  On the basis of various documents the Vice President's office had, and various conversations Libby had with White House and CIA officials, these statements to reporters were lies.  Since it's not against the law to lie to reporters, Libby committed no crime here (granting our assumption that he did make those statements to them).  The FBI and Grand Jury asked Libby what he said to reporters.  He answered.  Again, assuming he did tell the reporters what he said he did, he repeated those lies to the FBI and Grand Jury.  It is NOT completely clear that they asked him 'Were those statements you made to the reporters the truth?'  If they didn't ask Libby that, he may not have committed a crime here.  It all comes down to whether he told the FBI and Grand Jury 'This is what I knew, and when I knew it, and how I knew it,' vs. 'This is what I told the reporters I knew, and when I knew it, and how I knew it.'  Libby has some wiggle room here.

        The petit jury could still decide, though, that by not telling the FBI and Grand Jury that he was lying to the reporters, Libby ended up obstructing justice.  It depends very much on how you interpret certain statements.

        Should be an interesting trial, assuming it goes to trial.  Overall, Libby's statements look like he used such a pattern of obfuscation with everyone that if I had to bet, I'd bet he goes down.


Friday, October 28, 2005

And the MSM Coyly Deceives Again

        In September, 2003, as the Plamegate mess was starting, Bush said that anyone who "committed a crime" in the affair would be fired.

        In June of 2004, a reporter asked Bush if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of Plame's name.  Bush made the mistake of not treating the reporter as a hostile liar, and said he did — or maybe he did.  The reporter actually asked on question, interrupted W. in the middle of his answer, and threw in a second question.  Bush's answer was taken to apply to the second question, rather than the first, for no reason I can see.

        Then, in July of this year, Bush emphasized his original pledge: he would fire anyone who committed a crime.

        Now, head over here, and see the Washington Post spins this.

        And then maybe write the Post's reader representative (ombudsman@washpost.com) and ask: incompetence, or lies?


More MSM Bias, Concerning Gun Laws

        Exposed here, by Alphecca.  There's some doubt about whether this is a knowing lie, or simply reckless disregard for the truth, but in either case it's contemptibly dishonest.


And Libby Has Been Indicted

        Which means someone will have to present actual evidence in open court about what he supposedly did.  That will be a nice change from the endless speculation and misrepresentations in the MSM.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Miers Affair

        Well, they got her.  And 'got' is definately the operative word.  The entire anti-Miers campaign, from beginning to end, was exactly the same as the many leftist assaults on rightists.  Innuendo, irrelevancy, automatic assumptions of the worst, and a complete refusal to play by the rules that they demand the opposition play by.

        Everything that the conservatives opposition claimed they wanted in Supreme Court nominees has now become harder.  Character assassination and litmus tests for political opinion have been legitimized by the right.  Bush's Presidency has been weakened, Bush and Miers have been smeared as dishonest, and the Republican Senators will be hesitant over the next nominee.  As for the left, if it doesn't like the way the nominee is likely to vote, or doesn't think there's enough of a paper trail to ensure the nominee will vote in a way they find acceptable, will have the example of the right for political cover as they go for the jugular.

        Miers's opponents kept saying it was a mistake for Bush to nominate her.  The real mistake was the right-wing lynch mob that destroyed her without giving her a chance to defend herself.

        They ought to be ashamed.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A History of Plamegate So Far: Part II, the Karim Clan Question


        There's a fair amount of evidence that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda were behind the 1993 WTC bombing, and the 1995 plot to blow up eleven U.S. jet liners.  There's also reason to believe that Saddam was involved in 9/11.  This post will set out some of that evidence, focusing on the "Karim clan," an extended family of Baluch tribesmen from Pakistan who allegedly have done most of al-Qaeda's attacks on the U.S.

At Length:

        This is part two of my Plamegate history. Part one can be found here.  The story to be told here is lengthy and complicated.  Too lengthy and complicated, so I'll put the much too long version up elsewhere, and radically condense here.

        On April 27th, 1968, a Pakistani named Mohammed Abdul Karim was living in Kuwait with his wife other family.  According to Kuwaiti records, Mrs. Karim gave birth that day to a son, Abdul Basit Mahmud Abdul Karim.  Abdul Karim is aka Abdul Basit; I'll call him Abdul Karim consistently, his parents and siblings the Karim family, and his family plus uncles, cousins and so on the Karim clan.

        Abdul Karim grew up in Kuwait, and later graduated from the West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education, United Kingdom, with a degree in electronics.  He then returned to Kuwait, and got a job in a Kuwaiti ministry.

        On August 2nd, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, which he termed the "nineteenth province of Iraq."  All foreign embassies were ordered out.  Now, Pakistani embassies keep records of Pakistanis resident abroad.  They should have had records of the Karim family.  But somehow, in the move, the records got lost or stolen — or at least, so says the Paki government.  It's possible they're lying.

        As for Kuwait's government's records of the Karim family, they record that they all decided to emigrate on August 26th, and head for Baluchistan province in Pakistan, from which they supposedly spring.  Considering that years after the war many Kuwaitis who had disappeared while Saddam was occupying the place still could not be found, that detailed record is suspicious.  Later, when the Karim family and Karim clan's whereabouts became of interest, no one could find them, with a few possible exceptions we'll get to.

        Around the beginning of 1991, a man showed up in the Philippines who was called 'the chemist.'  He later became notorious under the name "Ramzi Ahmed Yousef," the 'mastermind' of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  It is the official contention of the U.S. government that "Ramzi Yusef" (I'll drop the quotes hereafter) is really Abdul Basit Kasim, and that Kasim's uncle, Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, aided Abdul/Ramzi in various terrorist plots, culminating in Khalid's overall direction of the Sept. 11th attacks.  Also involved, say the federales, were various other members of the Karim clan, nephews and cousins of Khalid, including two of Abdul Basit Karim's elder brothers.  In fact, the U.S. government contends that these guys were all members of al-Qaeda, and they planned most of the attacks al-Qaeda ever carried out against the U.S.

        But there exists a fair number of terrorism students who don't believe a word of this.  They think the alleged members of the Karim clan are imposters.  In this theory, when Saddam occupied Kuwait, he caused the Pakistani records of the Karim clan to vanish, and altered files the Kuwaitis had on the Karims.  The real Karims are dead, which is why you can't find any of them unless they're in al-Qaeda.

        The point is fundamental.  Yusef Ramzi definitely planned the WTC bombing, made the bomb for it, and recruited many of the conspirators.  He later considered assassinating President Clinton, and tried to blow up eleven U.S. airliners in one day over the Pacific.  The supposed Khalid did plan the 9/11 attacks.  If Saddam did set up "legends" (false identities) for the people who are presently claiming to be in the Karim clan, then the phony Karims are either Iraqi agents, or agents of an Iraqi ally.  It follows that Saddam was involved, directly or indirectly, in the vast majority of attempted and actual terrorist operations against the U.S. undertaken by al-Qaeda, and that Saddam helped kill the vast majority of all U.S. terrorism victims.

        So what's the evidence on identity?  On the side of 'Yusef Ramzi is so Abdul Karim,' we have the Kuwaiti records, which contain Yusef Ramzi's fingerprints.  There are also alleged to be fingerprint records of Abdul Basit Karim in Britain, taken during his schooling in '86-'89.  These are said to match Yusef Ramzi's too.

        On the other side is some interesting circumstantial evidence.  First, only five weeks after the WTC bombing, the FBI officially declared that there was no foreign involvement in the plot.  Kind of hard to believe that the question could be settled that quickly.  Rather easy to believe that what the Clinton Administration wanted to believe, they convinced themselves of.  By the way, many of the FBI agents actually working the case speculated or concluded that Iraq was involved.  Were they all wrong?

        In 1992, Ramzi Yusef definitely had photocopies of two Pakistani passports for Abdul Basit Karim, one dated 1984, the other 1988.  He went to Pakistan's New York consulate and asked for a new passport, saying the original had been lost.  They gave him a temporary, good for a one-way trip to Pakistan, where he was to straighten things out permanently.  The photocopies ended up as evidence in U.S. terrorism trials.  According to Laurie Mylroie, they show completely different signatures.  Also, the entries for the Karim family place of origin are different in both documents.  Something is wrong there.

        Mylroie has been questioning the Yusef=Karim story since at least 1995.  She says that photographs of Ramzi Yusef were shown to people who knew him in Britain, and they didn't think it was Karim, although there was a resemblance.  She also says a reporter found a document listing Karim's height as 5'8", while she was told by two of Karim's teachers that his height was around 5'6" to maybe 5'8".  Ramzi Yousef is over 5'11" tall.

        Well, though Mylroie raised the identity issue in 1995, the U.S. government has never brought any Britons who knew Karim to the U.S. to confront Ramzi, who is in prison here.  As for the fingerprints records, so far our only source is a Newsweek story, and Newsweek has been known to make a mistake or two (can you say 'Koran flushed down the toilet, kiddies?').  The story is also interesting in that the records were supposedly not looked for till October of 2001, when Paul Wolfowitz made such a fuss that the CIA sent former director James Woolsey to Britain on a secret mission to compare them.  Frankly, that story stinks on ice.  Why wait six to eight years to confirm Ramzi Yousef's identity (I've read an FBI file, and the Bureau was fanatically thorough about such identity questions, when there was much less reason).  Why keep an identity check secret at all?  Why send a former CIA director to do a routine job like this?  And if there was a delay of six to eight years, with Mylroie repeatedly suggesting Abdul Basit Karim's fingerprint record was altered (and there was), why should we put much credence in this latest record, assuming it exists at all?

        Something is wrong here.  Either Newsweek is full of it, or the U.S. government didn't want to face the possibility that Yousef was not Karim.  Or both.

        It's also worth noting that the people alleged to be members of the Karim clan are all pretty certainly members of the Baluchi tribe, which exists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and across the Gulf in Oman.  The Baluchis are Sunni, and known for their hostility to Shia Muslims, or so says Mylroie.  She also claims that since the Iran/Iraq war, Saddam has had close connections with the Baluchis, and used them against Iran.  This makes the idea of Pakistani Baluchis becoming agents of Iraq more plausible.

        There are other interesting issues surrounding Ramzi Yusef and the WTC bombing.  Originally, the plan was not, allegedly to bomb the North Tower, but to kill a trial judge, a Brooklyn Assemblyman, and random Jews.  The plan originated with El Sayid Nosair, who assassinated Rabbi Mier Kahane in 1990 and ended in Attica.  Nosair was officially regarded as a lone Islamist nut, and the bomb manuals found in his apartment were disregarded, along with the photos of potential target buildings.  Eventually, Nosair was found to have connections with members of the Islamic Center of Tucson, which was in turn connected with the Pakistan-based "Office of Services," Makhtab al Khadimat in Arabic.  If you've never heard of the Makhtab al Khadimat, it's because it later changed it's name.  It's now known as al-Qaeda.  You'll find much more on those connections here, and it's worth reading in full.

        One of the participants in Nosair's original 'kill the Jews and the judge' bombing plan (assuming the original plan was as described; if Nosair was suggesting a spectacular target like the WTC, his admirers have every reason to lie about it) was Mohammad Salameh, a young Palestinian with terrorist relatives in Iraq.  After he agreed to help in the bombings, Salameh started calling his uncle in Baghdad, presumably asking for advice (Salameh made 46 calls in two months, till his service was discontinued for non-payment of the four thousand dollars in overseas charges).  Eleven days after his first call, an Iraqi-American raised in Baghdad applied for a U.S. passport in Jordan.  His name was Abdul Rahman Yasin.  Yasin's older brother Masab Yasin lived in Jersey City, in an apartment directly above Mohammad Salameh.  Mohammad and Masab were so tight that they had an intercom connecting the two apartments.

        On September 1st, 1992, Ramzi Yousef and a man named Ahmed Ajaj arrived in the United States from Karachi, Pakistan.  Ajaj was traveling on a phony Swedish passport, and his luggage contained fake passports, fake IDs, a guide to lying to immigration inspectors, notebooks filled with bomb recipes, bomb-making manuals, how-to videotapes concerning weaponry, and a surveillance training guide.  Ajaj attracted attention and got arrested for passport fraud, going to prison for six months.  Yousef had what appeared to be a valid Iraqi passport with stamps showing his trip started in Baghdad.  Because he lacked a visa for the U.S., he was fingerprinted and charged with illegal entry, but allowed to roam free pending an asylum hearing.

        Ramzi Yousef promptly moved to Masab Yasin's apartment.  How the allegedly Kuwaiti-born Paki made this connection with an Iraqi has never been explained that I can find.  Soon, Masab's brother Abdul Rahman Yasin showed up too.  And Yusef was working on Mohammad Salameh, or so Salameh and Abdul Yasin later claimed.  Their story is that Ramzi came up with the WTC bombing plot all on his own, and talked the Yasins, Salameh, and the other conspirators into it.  Those pictures of the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers in Nosair's apartment were just a coincidence.

        In November, after the election of Bill Clinton, Nosair and Co. started acquiring bomb making supplies.  They were guided by Ahmed Ajaj's bomb making manuals.  The feds had seized them, but a U.S. District judge ordered them returned.  Still in prison for passport fraud, Ajaj had them delivered to his friend Ramzi.  Also in November, Ramzi filed a police report.  He claimed he was Abdul Basit Karim, and produced the passport photocopies I've mentioned as evidence.

        On December 31st, 1992, Ramzi went to the Pakistani consulate with the 'I'm Abdul Basit Karim, and I've lost my passport' story.  The Pakis gave him travel document valid for travel to Pakistan only, expiring in six months.

        On January 25th, 2003, five days after Bill Clinton took office, a Pashtun Pakistani named Mir Amir Kasi committed a terrorist act.  Kasi, who was using the false name Kansi, shot up cars near CIA headquarters, killing two and permanently injuring three.  The next day, he flew to JFK International. At JFK he took a plane to Karachi.  Once back in Pakistan, he may have hid out for a while in the Lahore, Pakistan headquarters of headquarters of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Muslim terrorist group.  Then he appears to have traveled to Quetta, Baluchistan Province, Pakistan, from which he slipped across the border into Afghanistan, where he could hide among his fellow Pashtun tribesmen.  (Later captured, he was convicted of murder in 1997, and executed in 2002.  Rot in Hell, Kasi.)

        On February 26th, Yusef and his scum bombed the North Tower of the World Trade Center, intending to knock it down into the South Tower, and thus kill tens of thousands.  By God's grace, only six died, though a thousand were injured by smoke inhalation.  That night, Yusef was driven to JFK International by Salameh.  At JFK he took a plane to Karachi.  Once back in Pakistan, he may have hid out for a while in the Lahore, Pakistan headquarters of headquarters of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Muslim terrorist group.  Then he appears to have traveled to Quetta, Baluchistan Province, Pakistan, from which he slipped across the border into Iran, where he could hide among his fellow Baluchi tribesmen.  Yes, aside from going to Iran, his escape route appears identical to Kasi's.  Can you say "dry run?"

        Oh, in the days just before and after Kasi's crime, Masab Yasin's phone, which was an unlisted number in a phony name, was used to call a Islamabad, Pakistan business office twice, when it was closed.  Just after the WTC bombing, Masab Yasin's phone was used to call the same Islamabad business office twice, when it was closed.  If you're having trouble saying "dry run," practice!

        As for Ahmed Rahman Yansi, he departed the U.S. for Jordan a day or two after Yusef left for Pakistan.  He ended in Iraq, where he was granted a house, stipend, and asylum till at least 2002.  He remains at large.

        Ramzi Yusef later tried to assassinate Pakistan's female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto with a truck bomb, but was foiled by police.  Yusef may have been involved in a terrorist attack in Iran that killed twenty-six and wounded two hundred.  He finally ended up in Manila, where he was working on a three phase plot.  In phase one, John Paul II would be assassinated.  In phase two, eleven U.S. jets would explode over the Pacific, killing thousands.  In phase three, at least one plane would be smashed into CIA headquarters, but if more pilots could be recruited, there would be multiple targets.  Planning for this involved the man who claimed to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the uncle of Abdul Basit Karim.  Filipino police foiled this plot, and captured a laptop with evidence of the plot and many plotters.  "Khalid" escaped, though, and decided that the logistics of bombing airplanes was just too complicated.  So he expanded the last phase of the plan into the total idea.  Thus was born 9/11.

        The current official position of the U.S. government is that this one group of eight or so Pakistani Baluchis was responsible for almost all the deaths al-Qaeda managed to inflict on the U.S., that it never had any connection with Saddam Hussein's regime, and that anyone who thinks differently is a paranoid fool.  But given the times the CIA and FBI have screwed up, their failure to stop these terrorist plots, and the mass of unexplained evidence, I remain unconvinced.  I'd say it's slightly better than even that Saddam was in these plots up to his neck.

          And I'm almost certain that these questions have not been adequately or HONESTLY investigated.  There will be more to come on that.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Update to my previous post

        Omar at Iraq the Model gives good reasons to disregard the alleged new poll, while someone named Stephen M. St. Onge adds a scintillating comment.

        Sorry, but I couldn't resist that last.


"God Keep Bush"

        A very interesting Post Gateway Pundit.  On the one hand, an "anonymous telephone poll" supposedly conducted in Iraq, saying the vast majority of the population wants us gone.  All data, methodology, and researchers not given.  On the other hand, a lot of Iraqis who support us, from multiple named sources.  I wonder which opinion is closer to the truth?


Monday, October 24, 2005

Steyn on 'Militants'

        Mark Steyn has another great column in which he wonders about the identity of people-who-must-never-ever-EVER-called-terrorists:
                From Toronto's Globe & Mail:

        "Nalchik, Russia -- Scores of rebels launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."

        "Rebels," by the score.  But why were they rebelling?  What were they insurging over?  You had to pick up the Globe & Mail's rival, the Toronto Star, to read exactly the same Associated Press dispatch but with one subtle difference:

        ''Nalchik, Russia -- Scores of Islamic militants launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."

        Ah, "Islamic militants."  So that's what the rebels were insurging over.  In the geopolitical Hogwart's, Islamic "militants" are the new Voldemort, the enemy whose name it's best never to utter.  In fairness to the New York Times, they did use the I-word in paragraph seven.  And Agence France Presse got around to mentioning Islam in paragraph 22.  And NPR's "All Things Considered" had one of those bland interviews between one of its unperturbable anchorettes and some Russian geopolitical academic type in which they chitchatted through every conceivable aspect of the situation and finally got around to kinda sorta revealing the identity of the perpetrators in the very last word of the geopolitical expert's very last sentence.

        Read it all.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

An Interesting Article

        Glenn Reynolds reminds us of a 2003 article by James Bennett of UPI.  The basic thesis is that Europe's problems stem from its hatred of modernity, and lack of Jews.  Go read.


What Do They MEAN?

        Over at Kevin Drum's site, the argument is being offered, again, that "you can't impose Democracy by force."  I wish someone would explain the meaning of this phrase to me.  I keep getting this weird picture of terrorists demanding that you read League of Women Voters literature, and engage in policial debate, on pain of death.


A History of Plamegate So Far: Part I, Political Background


        Iraq and Kuwait were created by Britain in 1918, out of pieces of the Ottoman Empire.

  • Iraq has never been politically stable.

  • Britain tried to rule Iraq from 1918 till 1930, but then gave up and arranged for Iraq's independence in 1932.

  • From 1936 till 1968, there were continual coups and countercoups by the Iraqi military.

  • After the Ba'athist coup of '68, Saddam Hussein, cousin of the President, gradually consolidated all power in his hands.

  • Saddam's ambition was to take over the entire Arab world.

  • After his war with Iran, and his conquest of Kuwait and subsequent expulsion, he was allowed to stay in power, for reasons that seemed good at the time.

  • By 2001, he'd almost managed to get free of sanctions.  Then the election of Bush Jr. and 9/11 changed everything.

At Length:

        Well, after days of procrastination, research, and mulling, I think I've finally gotten an organization for the History.  I'm going to approach it by subject matter, but keep the dates chronological within each segment.  When I'm done, I'll weave it all together chronologically, in one huge post.

        To start with, some Iraqi history.  When the Ottoman Empire broke up, 3 Ottoman provinces were taken over as a mandate by the British.  Part of Basra province was split off to become Kuwait, the remainder of Basra and the other two were welded together to become Iraq.  There was strong Iraqi resistance to mandatory rule, and in 1930, Britain gave up.  Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations as an independent state in 1932, ruled by Faysal, former King of Syria till the French threw him out.  Within a few years, political instability became extreme, and the Iraqi military carried out its first coup in 1936.  In 1941, an attempt to ally with the Axis failed, as Britain invaded and occupied Iraq.

        After the war, Britain handed power back to the Iraqis, and the same political instability began again.  In 1958, a coup overthrew the monarchy, putting 'Abd al-Karim Qasim in power.

        Karim was neither very popular, nor very feared.  In 1959, an assassination attempt took place.  Among those participating was a twenty-two year old thug named Saddam Hussein.  Failing to kill Karim, Saddam fled to Cairo.  While there, he may have had contact with the CIA.

        The CIA was dominated by romantic fools who were afraid that the Arab world would go Communist, and who backed various Arab dictators as a 'stabilizing' influence (see Miles Copeland's book The Game of Nations: the Amorality of Power Politics, for a statement by a player).  The CIA is said to have been anti-Karim, believing him pro-Soviet.

        In February 1963, the military overthrew Karim and installed a nominally Ba'athist government.  In November, the Ba'athists were purged.  The Ba'ath Party leadership tried a coup in '64, failed, and were imprisoned, including Saddam.  Saddam is variously said to have escaped in '66 and to have remained imprisoned until the coup of 1968.

        When the Ba'athists came to power in '68, Saddam was well positioned for his eventual seizure of control.  His cousin, Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, became President of Iraq.  Al-Bakr was not interested in administration, and turned things over to cousin Saddam.

        The important thing about Saddam was that his great hero in life was Jozef Vissarionovich Dzugashvilli, aka Stalin.  Saddam modeled himself after 'Uncle Joe' (as we called him during WWII), and became a focused, well organized, indefatigable administrator who would undertake tasks no one else would accept.  He ended up in charge of the Security forces, and many other things, and gradually put more and more of his relatives into high positions in the Army, to prevent another coup.

        In 1979, two things came together.  First, early in 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah, and made Iran an "Islamic Republic."  When the Islamic militants began to fear rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, they invaded the embassy and took our embassy personnel hostage.  The U.S. temporarily dropped its plans for good relations with Iran.

        Secondly, al-Bakr retired as President in July, ostensibly because of ill health.  Saddam had been de facto ruler for some time.  The new Iran was belligerent towards the U.S. and Iraq, and intended to export its Islamofascist regime to other Arab countries.  The Shi'a areas of Iraq were soon in near revolt.  In addition, there had been long-standing border issues between Iran and Iraq that weren't resolved.  In 1980, Saddam attacked Iran.

        With U.S. hostility towards Iran so high, Iraq got a lot of support from us.  But Iraq wasn't very popular with the U.S. either.  "It's a pity they can't both lose," as Kissinger said.  As another commentator put it:
        When two of the world's leading suppliers of oil go to war, the world has to take sides, but when the war pits a corrupt dictatorship against a fanatic theocracy, it's hard to know which side to take. As a purely practical matter, however, it's best to line up with corrupt dictatorships because they're usually more willing to work a deal. During the Iran-Iraq War, the world as a whole tossed in with Iraq. The two superpowers openly assisted the Iraqis, as did most centrist Moslem states such as Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

        Still, the U.S. kept trying to patch up relations with Iran, secretly selling arms to "moderate" Iranians, and continuing negotiations.  It was fondly but falsely hoped that this would result in the release of U.S. hostages held by various Islamofascists that supported Iran.  These efforts failed, and in the end, the U.S. became more and more reconciled to an eventual Iraqi victory.

        Neither Iran nor Iraq had decent military commanders.  After all, competent commanders might overthrow the regime.  Horrendous bloodletting continued for years, but eventually Iraq more or less won.

        After the war with Iran ended, Saddam started eyeing Kuwait.  The idea that they are all one nation is strong among Arabs, and they would have united long ago if they could agree on who would rule.  Saddam decided that he should rule all Arabs, which he would accomplish by conquest.  Besides, Iraq was broke, and Kuwait had as much oil as Iraq.  On August 2, 1990, the Iraqi Army overran Kuwait, much to the surprise of the Kuwaiti government, other Arab governments, and, allegedly, the Iraqi Army, who had thought they might seize some border territory, or might just be blackmail to force Kuwait to agree to an adjustment.  Ambassador April Gillespie said nobody believed "the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait."

        Saddam's expectation that he'd be allowed to swallow Kuwait was a disastrous miscalculation, like his belief he'd beat Iran quickly.  Once the U.S. decided that Saddam would withdraw or be expelled, most of the world sided with us.  Saddam had finally been seen as dangerous.  But removing him and the Ba'ath Party was not seen as an option.

        The Saudis and Kuwaitis were against it.  They feared Iran, and saw Iraq as a counterweight.  Besides, it would offend Arab pride, make their rulers seem like USAmerican lackeys, and remove the only Arab power that could threaten Israel.  The U.S. had supported Saddam, and it would be betrayal to destroy him.  And if Iraq were de-Ba'athized, who would end up ruling?  The U.S. might inadvertently destabilize them!

        A lot of influential people in the government didn't like the idea either.  They still believed in dictatorship as a source of 'stability,' a fetish they worshiped.  They enjoyed behind the scenes maneuvers.  They embraced a hypocritical realpolitik that they couldn't sell to the U.S. people.  They hated the idea of the U.S. exercising power.  Or they just plain liked exotic foreign dictatorships.

        These considerations were reinforced by the Arab's bought and paid for 'Amen Chorus' of Mid-East scholars and former government officials.  Many of the anonymous stories in news reports are people getting paid big bucks by the Sauds, Lebanese, or other such regime, pushing the line that these tyrannies are our friends.

        Then there was the Bush 41 administration itself.  H.W. had just seen the Cold War end.  He was a man of the Establishment, who valued stability (and former head of the CIA, which also valued alleged dictatorial 'stability.')  The country had no grand strategy for foreign relations, having made the previous strategy, Containment, obsolete through victory.  Throwing Saddam out of Kuwait would require either Saudi and Kuwaiti cooperation, or a potentially high casualty amphibious assault.  Taking over Iraq would be expensive, require a long occupation, and lot of work.  Wouldn't be popular, wouldn't be prudent, occupying Iraq left us with no exit strategy — instead it would leave us where we are now, trying to build a stable, friendly Iraq at great expense.  Also, the desire for UN support led to a Coalition, with the typically weak policy coalitions have.  And nobody yet realized we were in a war with Islam.  So the Bush 41 Administration decided to push Saddam out of Kuwait, while trying to get Saddam assassinated or overthrown — without deciding that the war would not end while Saddam was in power, or being willing to back an uprising against the regime.  The result was Saddam's survival.  (The following links sum up the arguments fairly well).

        The Bush 41 Administration settled for sanctions against Iraq.  As one commentator said:
        RICK ATKINSON: I think that the notion that the Gulf war was being fought for a new world order was, in fact, intended to obscure the fact that it was being fought for very much the old word order: cheap petroleum, benign monarchies. There was no new world order that came out of the Persian Gulf War. In fact, I think that's proven to be mostly a pipe dream since then.

        Then H. W. lost his re-election campaign, and Clinton took over.  Clinton had no real interest in foreign policy, and hated the idea of getting involved in military matters.  His goal was to keep the sanctions in place, and use the UN to disarm Saddam's regime.  Military action was a last resort, and when four days of bombing in '98 didn't cause Saddam to collapse, Clinton ignored Iraq for the rest of his term.

        Meanwhile, in Iraq, Saddam took advantage of the limitless Arab/Muslim propensity for self-delusion by proclaiming his survival a great victory.  Obviously, the Coalition had been afraid to invade Iraq and fight him there! (and yes, Arabs believed that.)  Further, Saddam, previously known as a secularist, moved to co-opt the Islamists.  He had the words "God is Great" added to the Iraqi flag, allegedly in his own handwriting, and began a "faith campaign" to identify him and the regime as strongly Muslim.  Saddam started aiding anti-Israel terrorists, tried to assassinate H. W. Bush, tried to conquer Kuwait a second time (In October, '94; Clinton ordered troops to Kuwait when Saddam began to mass his Army near the border, and Saddam backed down).  Saddam made repeated trouble for the UN inspectors who were supposed to be disarming him, almost succeeded in hiding large quantities of WMD, and ended by expelling them in 1998.  His anti-aircraft batteries frequently locked up U.S. jets on patrol over the "no-fly zone."  And he used the oil-for-food program, plus smuggling, to get money for re-armament, and to get bribe Russia, China, and Europe to end sanctions.

        By the beginning of the Bush 43 presidency, Saddam was well placed to negotiate some kind of end of sanctions and normalization of relations with the U.S.  But he'd made another of his characteristic, disastrous miscalculations -- he'd decided to aid al-Qaida.  That will be covered in Part II.


A Flat Lie?

        Jacob Weisberg, in an otherwise thoughtful Slate piece, says:
        No one disputes that Bush officials negligently and stupidly revealed Valerie Plame's undercover status.

        Lots of people do.  For example, Clifford May.

Further, Miller testified she heard the Valerie Plame from someone other than Libby, though she doesn't remember whom.

        So is Weisberg lying, or is he, like so many liberals, living in an echo chamber where he only hears what he wants to hear?  YOU MAKE THE CALL!, but me, I think echo chamber.


Friday, October 21, 2005

I am Shocked, Shocked

        I haven't been so astounded since I heard that two plus two still equals four.

        The Christian Science Monitor says the UN reports that Syria arranged the murder of Rafik Hariri.  Who'd of believed it?  Further, they say that Syria denies it, and the Lebanese President does too.  What a bombshell.

        Turning off the sarcasm, the report claims that the guy who confessed did so two weeks before Hariri's death, while the kamikaze bomber assassin probably thought he was killing the Prime Minister of Iraq.  Interesting, isn't it, how Syria was able to find an Islamist or Iraqi Ba'athist fool, and convince him they'd help him kill an Iraqi government official?  One would think the Syrians have connections with the terrorists in Iraq (dammit, there goes that sarcasm again).

        Sooner of later, we're going to have to take out the government of Syria, and then probably Hezbollah.  But at the moment, one war at a time seems like enough.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

        Mickey Kaus cuts to the chase:
        Isn't this a major blow against testimonial immunity for reporters, in practice? Here is how the NYT itself reported the final argument made on behalf of Judith Miller before she was jailed:

        Robert S. Bennett, a lawyer for Ms. Miller, urged Judge Hogan to conclude that Ms. Miller would never talk, making confinement pointless.

        It's now clear confinement wasn't pointless. It worked for the prosecutor exactly as intended.  After a couple of months of sleeping on "two thin mats on a concrete slab," Miller decided, in her words, "I owed it to myself" to check and see if just maybe Libby really meant to release her from her promise of confidentiality.  And sure enough-- you know what?--it turns out he did!  The message sent to every prosecutor in the country is "Don't believe journalists who say they will never testify. A bit of hard time and they just might find a reason to change their minds.  Judy Miller did."  This is the victory for the press the Times has achieved.  More journalists will now go to jail, quite possibly, than if Miller had just cut a deal right away, before taking her stand on "principle."


Color Me Unimpressed


        Efforts continue to play down the OK suicide bomb story.  In my arrogant opinion, they aren't convincing.

At Length:

        Glenn Reynolds points us to a post by Cathy Young that says that bloggers "cried wolf" over the Oklahoma bombing incident.

        Now first off, that's a truly lousy metaphor.  The boy who cried wolf lied, in order to generate excitement.  Even if every blogger was wrong about this (including me) we were sincere.  Call us Chicken Littles if you would, but keep your fables straight, OK?

        Second, Young's reasons for discounting the concern are summed up in two online stories.  One is the Caerdroia post I previously critiqued.  'Blowing people up is against everything the Triangle Fraternity stands for.  He wasn't a Muslim.  And he could have killed lots of people beside himself.  Of course he tried to buy fertilizer, he was making a bomb to kill himself with.'  The arguments ignore the fact that Hinrichs may have violated the fraternity's ethics; that the claim he wasn't a Muslim comes from Muslims, a group not known for honesty when embarrassed; that the reason Hinrichs didn't kill anyone except himself may be an accidental explosion; and that Hinrichs definitely tried to buy a "significant quantity" of ammonium nitrate, a great material for homemade bombs.  "Significant quantity" sounds like much more than you need to blow yourself up with, if you just want to commit suicide.

        In addition, Young links to a WSJ.com article about Hinrichs.  It informs us that Hinrichs "suffered from depression."  I believe them, but so what?  I suffer from chronic depression, and take drugs to control it.  My depression might lead me to taking my own life, but it wouldn't determine the means or locale.  Hinrichs could have been inclined to kill himself because of depression, and then decided to kill others at the same time, two birds with one bomb.

        The FBI is quoted as saying:
        At this time, there is no known link between Hinrichs and any terrorist or extremist organization(s) or activities.

        So?  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  And how did the FBI determine this lack of connection?  We aren't told.  You might also remember that the FBI proclaimed, five weeks after the '93 World Trade Center bombing, that there was no evidence for state sponsorship.  In fact, there's strong evidence that Iraq at the very least aided least aided "Ramzi Abdul Yusef" in setting up a false identity for use in fleeing the United States after the blast.  I wonder if this very hedged denial of terrorism is similarly suspect.

        David Boren, the OU prez, wrote:
        there's no evidence of a conspiracy involving others which creates an ongoing threat to our OU community.

        Analyze Boren's statement, and you'll realize it doesn't mean there was no conspiracy, nor does it mean that Hinrichs wasn't attempting terrorism.  Just that OU hasn't found evidence that he was part of a terrorist conspiracy.  Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence, Davie.

        Joel Hinrich's father makes a number of statements in the article, only one of which he's in a position to testify to: Joel didn't grow a beard recently, he's had one since he left high school.  But the article also mentions that "in some photographs," Hinrichs "can be seen with" a beard [emphasis added].  That implies that in others, he isn't bearded, which supports the statements that the beard he had when he died was of recent growth, which is consistent with the statement that he recently became a radical Muslim.  I wonder if Hinrichs's father is lying to protect his son's name?

        And way down near the bottom of the piece, you find this:
        In fact, authorities did find, in Mr. Hinrichs's bedroom, additional explosive material. They detonated them at the police firing range the next day, jolting the city again.

        Gee, doesn't "jolting the city again," sound like there was a lot more explosive left in his room?  Makes me suspect that Hinrichs made up lots more than he needed to kill himself with.  Possibly just a miscalculation, but why didn't he take it with him, if he was only intent on suicide?  Why'd he leave it around, where it might injure others?  That doesn't make sense — unless he had another target in mind for it.

        I frankly don't understand what the Journal thinks it's getting at with this sentence:
        An off-duty Norman police officer, overhearing Mr. Hinrichs's conversation in the [fertilizer]store, ran a check on his license plate and found no cause for alarm.

        If you were planning to set off a terrorist bomb, exactly what part of your vehicle registration record would that be listed in?

        And a local television news program reported that Hinrichs "much of his time at the Norman mosque."  The TV station is standing by that.

        I'll need more than Young offers before I decide that Hinrichs was just committing suicide.


OH, but this would be DROLL!

        From USNews and World Report:

White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly

        Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

        Oh, Lord, let this be true.  The first female and black VP, a Republican hawk like Condi!


Idiocy on Parade


        John Fund advises that: 'Miers should be rejected because Democrats are dishonest, hypocritical, and unfair.'  That this will ensure only liberals get on the courts is of course, unimportant.

At Length:

        In my last post I said that conservatives are angry with Bush, for non-judicial reasons, taking it out on him over Miers.  Glenn points to John Fund, who now descends to the depths of stupidity.

        He notes that in 1987, Robert Bork was criticized with savage unfairness, and that ever since, Republican presidents have nominated people with scant paper trails, because that's the only hope of getting a conservative nominated.

        Fund's solution appears to be unilateral political disarmament.  Republican presidents should nominate those that the Democrats will attack savagely, and the liberal and moderate Republicans will be afraid to vote for!  If one isn't confirmed, nominate another, and another, and another, leaving seats on the court vacant for as long as it takes, till the Democrats get tired of this.  This will educate the public that Supreme Court nominations are not about political outcomes.

        Which is, of course, horse dung.  The conservatives are so eager to see Roe v. Wade overturned precisely because of a desired political outcome, the passage of laws that will lower the number of abortions.  They want the Interstate Commerce clause applied more strictly to prevent the federal government from doing certain things, not because, for example, environmental protection is not commerce.  If that was really their position, they'd be backing Constitutional amendments to authorize just what environmental laws the Congress can pass.  As Bellow notes, in the in the NRO essay I referenced in my last post, what conservatives want is a court that will restrain Congress.  The honest way to do that is by convincing the public that the federales shouldn't be involved in certain activities.

        Of course, the practical political consequence of Fund's strategy would be that the Democrats, the liberal/moderate Republicans would vote down his nominees with 'proper' paper trails, and criticize the President mercilessly, till he was forced to appoint someone with a liberal or moderate record the Democrats would approve of.  And when a Democrat is President, he'd appoint unabashed liberals to the Court.  The Democrats, with that fine hypocrisy that so distinguishes them, would then use the conservatives argument that "only qualifications matter, and you're obliged to confirm if the nominee is competent."  They did exactly with Ginsburg and Breyer.  If we take Fund's advice, we'll ensure no conservative Supremes for the foreseeable future.

        But idealogues of all stripes are apt to scorn practicality, something that I, a recovering idealogue, know only too well.

        So again, chill out.  And if anyone has a plan for getting a nominee with a conservative paper trail through the present Senate, I'd be interested in seeing it.


What's REALLY Going on With Miers?

        Ramesh Ponnuru has a post at NRO that's worth pondering.  He basically says that some conservatives are mad at Bush for other reasons, and ganged up on Miers in response.  Short and worth reading in full.

        And for an example of how angry conservatives are, see this piece.  Adam Bellow casually accepts repeats untrue Democratic criticism of Bush, and compares the Bush family to the Mafia!  (He'll say he didn't mean it invidiously, but the association is invidious, and will be used against Republicans and conservatives).  And he sums up by writing about Bush:
        He has made the common dynastic mistake of confusing loyalty and merit; in his eyes, the merit of people like Michael Brown and Harriet Miers consists in their being his friends.  They are loyal to him, and their loyalty must be rewarded.  Thus in Bush, the very loyalty that was a private virtue has become a public vice.  His greatest failing is his inability to hold people accountable for their errors. Because they are his creatures, he seems unable to disown them or even to see their faults.

        That FEMA handled four hurricanes last year under Brown, and all competently, is not mentioned.  Neither is the fact that Mississippi and Alabama didn't complain about FEMA's alleged shortcomings, just places where Democrats were in charge.  Nor are we reminded of the insanely untrue stories that came out of New Orleans, spread by city officials and repeated by a press out to get Bush, or the fact that Brown was let go when the criticism made him too much of a political liability.  And of course, the possibility that Miers might be very well qualified for a seat on the court, indeed, the best possible nominee, is dismissed by assuming it untrue.  Also ignored are all practical considerations of whom W. can actually get through the Senate.

        Yes, conseratives are very angry at Bush, but the anger is misplaced.  As Bellow himself acknowledges in the article, there is no significant public constituency for large parts of the conservative program, such as eliminating federal departments and cutting spending.  Bush knew that when he campaigned in 2000, and made it clear he wouldn't try, a fact Bellow also notes.  If conservatives want to be angry, they should be angry with the USAmerican people, and with a Congress that "spends like drunken Democrats," as the Mallard Fillmore strip put it recently.

        Or best of all, conservatives should be angry with themselves.  Why can't they convince the public that government spending should be cut a lot?  Could it be that the public is right to reject the idea?  But that would depressing.  Far easier to throw a tantrum because Bush didn't appoint an unconfirmable idealogue pledged to rule half the federal government unconstitutional.

        So I'll leave you with something from my buddy Ralph:

        Chill out, even if you don't like Miers.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Someone Please Blow Up Microsoft

        I was working on a post, when Internet Explorer encountered a problem, and had to shut down.  Only it didn't shut down the window where the problem was encountered, it shut down everything, losing all my writing.

        The idiots might at least have warned that that would happen.


Monday, October 17, 2005

The Press as "Flappers"


        Jonathan Swift would understand the MSM's resentment of bloggers: we took away their job of "flapping" the public.

At Length:

        I haven't written much for the last two days, as I've been mulling over a comprehensive Plamegate/Miller Follies post.  I hope to have that up today, but first, a story about the MSM, which played so large a role in this nonsense.  I have frequently cited one of my earliest posts, Editing as Lying.  Here, I'd like to approach that from a slightly different angle.

        In Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver ends up in Laputa, sometimes referred to as "Cloud Cuckoo Land."  The inhabitants of Laputa are utterly impractical and theoretical, with many strange customs.  One such custom is "flappers."  These are servants to public officials, who carry air-filled bladders (think toy balloons).  If someone wishes to talk to an official, the official can't hear them unless the flapper "flaps" (lightly strikes) his ears with the bladders.  And the official can't answer unless the official flaps his mouth.  Flappers were of course a satiric take on secretaries, spokesmen, and others who controlled access to public officials.

        Flappers are a necessity for anyone in the public eye, else cranks, fanatics and trolls would be constantly haranguing them, and thus preventing the accomplishment of any work by said officials.  The problem is, flappers figured out long ago that they could manipulate the decisions of their officials by selective flapping: don't let the boss hear from someone, and make sure he hears from others, and you acquire a large measure of control over the official.

        "News is what I say it is, it's what I say is important," David Brinkley was quoted as saying by the late Edith Efron.  Efron added that Brinkley was right, that the inherent limitations of reporting the news meant that the press had to leave out almost all information it could conceivably report, in order to restrict itself to what's important -- and they were the only ones in a position to decide what was important.  The MSM thus act as flappers to the public, restricting what the public can hear.  As with public officialdom's flappers, they figured out that they could use this power to manipulate the public.

        There was a great example of this in Minnesota in the 1980s.  Wheelock Whitney, Independent-Republican candidate for Governor, was going down against Rudy Perpich, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate.  In Minnesota, the candidates for governor and Lt.. Governor are on one ticket.  The Whitney campaign had IR activist Dan Cohen give four reporters some documents on Perpich's running mate, Marlene Johnson, showing she'd been convicted of "petit theft."  (Details of the charge weren't in the documents, and the conviction was later vacated.)  Arguably, this was an unimportant story, and one of the four just didn't run it (in fact Cohen, in retrospect, says it was a cheap shot, and he shouldn't have brought it up) .  A second reporter used it, identifying the source as a Whitney partisan.  But our local substitutes for newspaper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, both chose to run the story AND identify Cohen as the source.  Cohen sued (and won, after going to the U.S. Supreme Court once, and the Minnesota Supreme Court twice).  At trial, the papers had all kinds of excuses about why they were justified in breaking their word, why the information was an illegitimate smear, why the public needed to know the name and place of employment of the source (although Cohen was fired that day, by a boss who didn't want the local papers and the future governor mad at him).  But the oddest thing they said was that if Cohen had given it to one reporter exclusively, they'd have been much more likely to leave him anonymous.

        What does exclusivity have to do with anything?  Cohen's lawyer thought it was a monetary thing — the paper wanted a circulation-enhancing scoop (see his book on the case, The Taming of the Press).  But in his own memoir, Anonymous Source, Cohen has a different theory about 'exclusivity.'

        The whole affair started when a Wheelock campaigner was on a radio talk show.  After they went off the air, the host asked the campaigner if he'd heard that Perpich's running mate had been arrested?  The Whitney partisan went to the courthouse and found the records.  She'd been arrested twice, once for unlawful assembly (probably a civil rights demonstration; no charges filed), once for the misdemeanor theft she was charged with and convicted of.  Those were the records that were copied and given to Cohen to pass to the local media.  When he was doing this, one of the reporters said he'd heard about the arrest before.  No one said anything like, "Wow, I had no idea."

        In short, Cohen thinks, the newspapers almost certainly knew of the candidate's arrest record.  They refused to flap the public's ears and let potential voters know.  If Cohen had offered it to one paper exclusively, he'd have stayed anonymous, because they wouldn't have run the story.  But by giving it to four, he forced their hand.  If they sat on it, and someone else published it, too many questions would be asked about why they didn't use it.  So exposing Cohen was revenge for forcing them to say something they didn't want to say.

        And this is why they hate the blogosphere so bitterly.  The MSM cherishes its right not to publish as much or more as they do their right to talk.  Michael Kinsley had a telling anecdote on this:
        A very distinguished New York Times writer once told me that if the Times ballet critic, heading home after assessing the day's offerings of pliés and glissades, happens to witness a murder on her way to the Times Square subway, she has a First Amendment right and obligation to refuse to testify about what she saw.

        Bloggers are alternative flappers to the public, allowing them to hear things the MSM doesn't want them to hear.  In turn, the public puts pressure on the MSM, asking why certain stories aren't being covered.  The press ends up forced to report things they'd like to have buried.

       In the Plamegate mess, at first the MSM wanted to say that no WMDs had been found because intelligence was slanted.  When the Administration fought back, they wanted to spread the (false) story that the White House was smearing people.  When the Novak column was published, they wanted an investigation, by a special prosecutor, but with the press recognized as not having to speak.  If they'd gotten it, the investigation would have uncovered nothing, and then they would have spread the story that the it was a 'White Wash by the White House.'  Or see how the New York Times, after promoting Joe Wilson, has been less than enthusiastic about reporting things that undermine his credibility.

        I can't say I blame them for being mad.  I don't like it either, when I'm forced to do something I didn't want to do in the first place.  But if an institution claims to be an accurate, honest and unbiased news source, it's what's morally required.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

More on the Iraq Vote

        Omar reports high turnout at Iraq the Model.  Publius says only three terrorist attacks reported, all non-fatal (that's nearly as big a story as the vote; the Iraqi police and Army provided primary security for the election).  Chester links to a story reporting low turnout in some Sunni areas, and notes we captured another two of al-Qaeda's top Iraqi terrorists.  And Iraq Elections Newswire has numerous links.

        Go, Iraqis!


So Far, Excellent

        Iraq the Model reports that the vote on the Iraqi Constitution is going well.  One attempted terrorist attack, foiled, with a slightly wounded terrorist the only casualty.


Friday, October 14, 2005

"Something is just really, really wrong here."

        The Anchoress want to know why so many people want Miers to withdraw before the Judiciary hearings?  Why are so many people out to get her, without even giving her a chance to speak for herself?

        A very interesting question, indeed.

        She also reminds us of a David Frum column in July, in which Frum mentioned the possibility of her nomination, without ever suggesting that she was unqualified or otherwise unacceptable.  Why has he changed his mind?

        That's another good question.  I'd like to know what's going on too.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Downside of Technology

        Congresscritters now create customized form letters.  There's an obvious example here.  The paragraphs are, I think, pre-written, and assembled by a secretary in response to whatever the constiuents letter says.

        As for substance, it boils down to 'I'm rhetorically committed to responsible budgeting and smaller government, but won't say anything about what I plan to do beforehand.  After I do it, I'll assert my actions met those goals.'  Bah, humbug!


More MSM Bias

        exposed by Daffyd ab Hugh.  Hat tip to Glenn, who sardonically comments: "COMING SOON: Charges that Meet the Press is staged?"


Joe Wilson Caught Lying

        The Daily Howler compares Wilson's latest whoppers with the facts, here.


Freedom ot the Press . . .

        . . . in the French Style.

        Thanks to Betsy Newmark for the pointer.


Some Interesting Miers News

        At Redstate yesterday, Erick had a post which said in part:
        For those of us who are not comforted by the spin, there is new spin in the rumor mill.  It's what we've all heard -- Miers got the job because no other conservative female jurist wanted a life time appointment to the United States Supreme Court.

        And the National Journal's Hotline quotes James Dobson as saying:
        Some of the other candidates who had been on that short list, and that many conservatives are now upset about were highly qualified individuals that had been passed over.  Well, what Karl [Rove] told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter, that they didn't want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it.

        Which helps put into perspective my argument that what Bush needs, first of all, is a nominee who can be confirmed.  As long as so many Republicans are willing to let Democrats use the filibuster against such nominations, and as long as so many Republicans will cringe rather than support the President's nominees, the kind of person the activists want, and that I'd like too, is just not going to get through the Senate.


A Penetrating Observation

        From The American Thinker (ht: the Anchoress):
        Politicians and the public now seem to expect that the Court should contain a woman and a black among its nine Justices.  But diversity of legal background among the Justices has actually diminished at the same time as race and gender diversity expectations have risen.  Until Harriet Miers, every candidate for Justice in the past 30 years has been a sitting judge.  And bench experience alone is not enough for some observers.  Many critics also maintain only judges with law review articles on the resume will do . Have they considered most of these journals are edited by 23 to 24 years old students?  Bright ones, to be sure, but is there another profession where intellectual developments are guided by what neophytes deem of interest? [my emphasis]

        Well worth reading all of, as Rosslyn Smith argues that at least one member of the Supreme Court should be a non-lawyer.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Who Knew?

        Hillary is descending on L.A. this week, with a small Democratic strategy session planned for Thursday at Ron Burkle's home with, among other Hollywood players, Haim Saban and Rob Reiner . . .

        The purpose of the meeting at Ron Burkle's home on Thursday is to discuss how to best implement the Democrats' new party platform and make sure, as one of the movers and shakers who will be at the meeting told me, that Democrats "stick to our themes" and "all speak with the same voice."
says Arriana Huffington.

        The Democrats have a strategy?  They have a new party platform?  They cooperate with each other?  How long has this been going on?

        Oh, in case you're wondering, Ron Burkle does mergers and acquisitions, while Haim Saban is a television producer.  The fact that rich businessmen back Hillary, and that TV producers are "players" in Hollywood Democratic politics is not surprising at all.  Good for a laugh, though.


I Wish the MSM Knew Some History


        The Anchoress sums today's most important news in two sentences:
Oh look!

The Iraqis are managing…Democracy!

At Length:

        As you're almost certainly aware, the Iraqi National Assembly voted for some Constitutional changes that Sunnis wanted, substantially increasing the chance of the Constitution being approved.  Of course, being the MSM, the AP story I linked to has to throw in a second paragraph about the terrorists, just to show their still biased (the paragraph doesn't connect with the first, or the ones that follow).  The most important change was probably that the new Parliment will consider amendments to the Constitution, and submit any approved to a referendum.

        Now, if the MSM knew any history, they'd remember the Articles of Confederation, which was a constitution for the U.S., and which failed.  And they might also know that the convention which wrote the present Constitution had a bunch of members walk out without signing it.  Or that the opposition to the Constitution was intense, so much so that it was headed for defeat until the Federalists promised that the first thing the Congress would do was pass amendments to meet the various serious objections.

        In short, the Iraqis, with no tradition of electoral government, are doing about as well as the U.S. in 1777-'91, and rather more quickly.  Bravo, Iraqis.


Irony Lives!

        Gerhard Schroeder departed the German government, and made an emotional speech (also here, when Yahoo stops archiving it) denouncing the world's villians: the "Anglo-Saxons."

        Angles, Saxons — I wonder what kind of people they might be?

        Read it all, it's short, and a hoot (hat tip: Gateway Pundit).


The Plame Case — Consequences


        There's speculation that Rove will be charged under the Espionage Act.  But that leaves reporters equally vulnerable to jail time.

At Length:

        I haven't posted anything on the speculation that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald will use the Espionage Act to charge people, but a couple of interesting consequences have been pointed out by Dale Franks (ht: Instapundit).

        First, the Espionage Act makes it a crime to communicate classified information to those not authorized to receive it — that is, those who do not have a security clearance and a need to know.  If this is used against Karl Rove, as some have speculated it might be, then we've just created a de facto Official Secrets act.  The government just classifies whatever it wants to keep hidden, and anyone who reveals it gets sent to jail for ten years.

        Second, under the Espionage Act it's just as serious a crime to receive classified information as it is to dispense it.  So when Rove gets prosecuted, Miller, Cooper, Novak, and maybe everyone else who wrote about Plame get to do hard time with him.

And as a consequence, neither government employees or MSM reporters dare to write about anything classified.  Freedom of the press has taken a big hit.

        Of course, Fitzgerald could decide just to prosecute Rove, and not the reporters, but I think if Fitz tries that, Bush pardons Rove on the grounds that if the reporters walk, it isn't just to prosecute Rove.

        Watching this play out should be very interesting.  And it will be very amusing, too, listening to the MSM explain why reporters shouldn't be charged under the Espionage Act, nor should leakers the MSM approves of, just minions of the Evil Bushitler McChimpsky.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Another Great Steyn Column

        Making a pig's ear of defending democracy.

        Just read it.


Mark Steyn in Fine Form

        Commenting on the Katrina reporting debacle, and recalling other MSM idiocies, he asks:
        How many times does this have to happen before the press seriously examines why so many of them get the big stories wrong in exactly the same way?  After decades of boasting about "hiring diversity," everybody in America's newsrooms is now so remarkably diverse they all make exactly the same mistakes.  Oughtn't that to be just a teensy bit disquieting even to the most blinkered journalism professor?

        Read it all.


An Amazing Coincidence

        Not only was there a bomb in Oklahoma, which the MSM ignored, and three bombs in Georgia, which the MSM ignored, there was also a bomb in L.A., which the MSM ignored.

        What an amazing coincidence, that all these happened with two weeks, and that all the stories were too unimportant for the MSM to report on.  And thank God I'm not a right-wing nutcase, otherwise I'd suspect a possible terrorist group, and a real desire by the MSM to suppress the information.


Terrorist Act in Georgia

        Read about it here.

        By the way, I was just over at Google News, and they didn't have any story on it.  I wonder why . . .


Maybe I'm Missing Something

        According to Instapundit, John Fund has changed his mind and thinks Harriet Miers shouldn't be confirmed.
  Oddly, when I read the piece he linked to, I see:
        I have changed my mind about Harriet Miers. Last Thursday, I wrote in OpinionJournal's Political Diary that "while skepticism of Ms. Miers is justified, the time is fast approaching when such expressions should be muted until the Senate hearings begin.  At that point, Ms. Miers will finally be able to speak for herself."

        But that was before I interviewed more than a dozen of her friends and colleagues along with political players in Texas.  I came away convinced that questions about Ms. Miers should be raised now--and loudly--because she has spent her entire life avoiding giving a clear picture of herself. "She is unrevealing to the point that it's an obsession," says one of her close colleagues at her law firm.

        Can someone explain how you get "questions should be raised" to equal "should not be confirmed"?


The New York Times's Editor Doesn't Get It


        See the report on his speech, here.  (HT: Kaus).


Boy, Am I Surprised

        There's a documentary on the Kerry campaign out, titled Inside the Bubble.  According to one description:
        There is little doubt that many Democrats (or many potential Democratic voters) will watch the film in horror.  The impression is of a campaign and a candidate who did not really know where it was going or trying to say.

        Wow, who'd have believed THAT?


A Summary of the Miers Arguments

        Right Side Redux has a summary of the pro- and anti-Miers arguments, with links to the arguers.  They break down into a few distinct categories.

  • She's a third rate lawyer (probably untrue, as Beldar has argued extensively).

  • She might not be a reliable conservative vote.

  • It doesn't matter if she's a great trial lawyer, and it doesn't matter if she is a reliable conservative vote.  Only legal scholars with long records expressing conservative legal philosophy should be nominated (even though Clarence Thomas didn't fit this mold, and is a favorite of most of the critics; even though Robert Bork did fit this mold, and was rejected).

  • Liberals might not like her!

  • She's a "Presidential Crony," which is automatically a bad thing, as Hamilton said (except that Hamilton didn't say that).

  • Was allegedly a failure as a member of the President's staff (even if true, why does this disqualify her as a Justice?)

  • The base wanted a fight, and is mad at Bush because it didn't get one.

        Three observations: first, very few of the critics ask if the people they favor could be confirmed; second, most of the "we want a fight" people seem to be living in a fantasy world, in which just nominating a conservative legal scholar automatically causes good things to happen; third, many of these arguments are contradictory, yet the same people make all or most of them.


A Good Question

        Suppose Harriet Miers is confirmed, with the suppport of liberals, and the opposition of conservatives.  How would that aid the conservative movement?


About Iraq and Lefty Politics


        Why are so many leftists indifferent to what would happen in Iraq if we pulled out?  Because at a deep level, the Iraqi people don't really exist for the lefties.

At Length:

        Recently, Michael Barone blogged:
        I am struck by the sublime indifference of most critics of Bush's Iraq policy to the fate of the Iraqi people. They are totally unexultant about the overthrow of a vicious dictatorship and seem to have no interest at all in what would happen to Iraqis if we leave suddenly.

        That led Will Collier to comment:
        I don't understand why anybody as knowledgeable as Barone would be at all surprised.  The western Left didn't give a tinker's dam for the fates of the Iranians, Lebanese, Nicaraguans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Koreans, Cubans, Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, or even Russians, so long as the eeeevil American right-wingers were dealt a political defeat (and let's not even start on Israelis).

        Why should anybody be surprised that they could now care less about Iraqis?

        True enough, but I'd like to add something.  When you read into the history of Leftism, one of the things worth noting is the doctrine of the "General Will."  The General Will is supposedly shared by everyone at some deep level.  Down there, everyone supposedly agrees on every issue of importance.

        Of course, it's easily observed that people don't agree on everything, but those who push this idea have an answer.  The dissidents are ignorant, or stupid, or suffering from "false consciousness," or just plain evil.  So those who are in touch with the General Will have the right and duty to sprprise dissent, rule dictatorially, and re-educate the populace.  And no, this isn't tyranny, because the vast majority, at that deep level, agree with the rulers and want this done too.  The only ones who don't are those who are evil, and they don't count anyway.

        This is why leftist politics always gets so vicious.  Since there can't be any valid, reasonable disagreements, everyone who dissents is evil, stupid, ignorant, or deluded, and must crushed at the first opportunity

        At the root of this, I am convinced, is a sort of solipsism.  To the left wing political activist, the only people who are real are himself and those who agree with him.  The hoards of political pilgrims to the ex-Soviet Union (OOH! I just LOVE to type "ex-Soviet Union!"), to Mao's China, to all the other grotty little dictatorships literally don't see the suffering and oppression.  They project images that make them feel good onto the situation, then react to their images.

        And that's why "peace" activists can cheer on the fighters and murderers on the other side, why "liberals" who talk about improving things for all mankind ignore oppression and corruption, why they are so "sublimely indifferent" to the fate of the Iraqi people, or the results of our leaving suddenly.  The Iraqi people aren't real to them.  Only the "activists" are real (and, to a lesser extent, the activists political opponents).  "War" is something the United States can wage, but the jihadis and Ba'athists aren't at war, because they don't really exist.  So, stopping the U.S. armed forces will bring peace.  The U.S. can oppress the Iraqis, because it's sort of real, but the Saddam regime and the terrorists can't.  Saddam, al-Qaida, and the Iraqis are real only to the extent they're dealing with left-wingers or the U.S. and its allies.

        It's a very evil sort of madness, and it needs to be kept in mind whenever dealing with leftists.


A State of Unreality


        The people complaining about the Miers nomination seem to be living in a fantasy world.

  • Could the kind of nominee the critics want be confirmed?  They don't care.

  • What about W.'s assurance that Miers will vote the way they'd like?  They don't care.

  • What would the effect on Bush's Presidency be, if Miers is defeated?  They don't care.

  • And how will such a defeat influence the 2006 elections?  They don't care.

  • The only thing they care about is a fighting the good, principled, fight, even if they lose, and even if the ultimate results sets back their cause.  This is idiocy.

At Length:

        I'm really astonished at the nonsense being spouted about Miers.

        Perhaps you recall   Ann Coulter's comments on the John Roberts nomination?  Coulter was angry because Roberts didn't have a record that would allow her to judge how he'll vote.

        Well, at least Coulter's consistent. 
She doesn't like Miers either.  But a lot of people who did like Roberts are opposing Miers.

        Perhaps the most interesting observation is that of Robert Bork, who says Miers nomination is:
        "a disaster on every level."

        "It's a little late to develop a constitutional philosophy or begin to work it out when you're on the court already," Bork said on "The Situation" on MSNBC. "It's kind of a slap in the face to the conservatives who've been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years."

        Apparently Bork has forgotten what happened to his own nomination.  The record he'd made was used to demonize him, and he was voted down.

        In order to nominate the kind of person most of these people want, Bush would need a) sixty votes in the Senate to end a filibuster, plus at least fifty to approve the nominee, or b) fifty votes to employ the "nuclear option" that would change the filibuster rules for nominees, plus fifty votes to approve the nominee.  In fact, Bush would have trouble scraping up the fifty votes for confirmation of a nominee with a conservative record, given the three liberal Republican Senators from New England, and mavericks like Specter and McCain.  It's just about certain he couldn't get the votes to end a filibuster or change the rules.

        But a lot of Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians would rather Miers and W. be defeated than pass up the chance to attack the Democrats, liberals, and socialists in Congress.  As for the results of that defeat, they don't care.  As for Bush's personal knowledge of Miers, and his assurances that she's fairly conservative and an original intentionalist, they don't care.  (Not that Miers is an original intentionalist or strict constructionist of the Constitution; but then, no one else is, either).

        In addition, there's a lot of other rage at the President, because he didn't do what the activists wanted on other issues.  Me, I'm somewhat disappointed too.  But my attitude is somewhat different than there's.

        Once, I was a practicing libertarian.  Then one day in 1989 or '90, as I contemplated the fall of the Berlin Wall, the liberation from Soviet imperialism of most of the captive nations, the Libertarian Party's predictably dismal showing in the 1988 Presidential election, and the LP's long record of attacks on Reagan and Bush 41 for not doing what the LP wanted done, it suddenly hit me: THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN A LIBERTARIAN SOCIETY.  And try as I might, I couldn't see any justification for forcing 99% of the population to live in a society they didn't want to inhabit.  Further, given the peaceful rollback of Soviet tyranny, and the ongoing reform in the USSR, while the LP failed to struggle up to 3% of the popular vote, I couldn't see any reason to believe LP policies would be good for the country in any case.

        Since that day, I've been a conservative Republican and recovering Libertarian.  I care about consequences, I respect tradition, I am willing to let my neighbors live the way they want to, and I've lost that fine inner certainty that political theorists can decide all questions on the basis of principles that have never been tested in practice.

        Now, most of the conservative movement and a huge part of the Republican party are embracing the LP doctrine of ideologically pure, uncompromising ineffectiveness.  Pity.