October 31, 2005
MORE ENHANCEMENTS to the PorkBusters site, including links to blog posts on the topic. Add yours!
MORE ENHANCEMENTS to the PorkBusters site, including links to blog posts on the topic. Add yours!
THE NEW YORK TIMES has a rather positive profile of Judge Alito in tomorrow’s edition. “Judge Alito’s jurisprudence has been methodical, cautious, respectful of precedent and solidly conservative, legal scholars said. In cases involving the great issues of the day – abortion, the death penalty and the separation of church and state – Judge Alito has typically taken the conservative side. Yet he has not flaunted his political views inside or outside the courthouse. Friends say Judge Alito seems to have inherited a distaste for shows of ideology from his father, an Italian immigrant who became research director for the New Jersey Legislature and had to rigorously avoid partisanship.”
On the other hand, there’s this smoking gun: “As for Judge Alito’s trumpet skills, the former band leader said, ‘he certainly was no virtuoso.’”
HERE’S AN INTERESTING PROFILE of anti-debt crusader Dave Ramsey, who I recently discovered once lived in Maryville, Tennessee, where I went to high school. We may even have been students at UT at the same time, though I never knew him. But I’ve enjoyed his show, which provides a lot of interesting insights into how people get in trouble with money. And the piece notes something I’ve noticed: His debt counseling is often marriage counseling, too. Another thing we have in common: We both hate the new bankruptcy bill.
LOADS MORE LIBBYGATE STUFF over at Tom Maguire’s.
GREG DJEREJIAN OFFERS advice for President Bush.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Sissy Willis is working the phones.
As President Bush prepares to make a new appointment to the Supreme Court, the lessons of the failed Miers nomination are still being absorbed.
One that deserves study is how a lightning-fast news cycle, a flat-footed defense and the growth of new media such as talk radio and blogs sank Ms. Miers’s chances even before the megabuck special-interest groups could unload their first TV ad. Ms. Miers herself has told friends that she was astonished at how the Internet became a conveyor belt for skeptical mainstream media reports on her in addition to helping drive the debate.
It seems like the GOP is catching on. Ken Mehlman, who waited a week and a half to talk to bloggers last time around, had a conference call with Republican bloggers this afternoon. I wasn’t there, but Michelle Malkin has links to posts from people who were.
HYBRIDBLOGGING: So, I went ahead and bought the Toyota Highlander hybrid SUV this weekend. So far I’m quite happy.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the mileage depends a lot on driving style. Yesterday I drove into campus and it got (based on the trip computer) 22.6 miles per gallon — not bad for an SUV in town, but nothing huge.
Today I drove in, late enough that there was no more traffic than on Sunday morning, and made a point of watching the little indicator that tells you whether you’re running on gas or electric power. Still driving about the same speed as yesterday (typically around 40-45) and taking the same route, but driving so as to maximize the amount I was on electric power, I got 37.7 miles per gallon. Coming home at rush hour, with stop and go traffic, I didn’t do as well, finishing up at 30. One problem with the Highlander is that it’s so peppy that you tend to drive it harder unless you think about it. Okay, that’s not really a problem.
Somebody told me the other day that a hybrid car was a good “branding” thing for me, because I’m a “political hybrid” blogger. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but it ‘s kind of cool. What I really am is a gadget-head, which made the hybrid more appealing — in fact, I realized that I now don’t own a normal car at all: The Mazda has a rotary engine. Maybe I’m just odd. But at least I get good mileage!
The other interesting thing is that despite the Libbygate affair this weekend, and the Alito nomination, I’ve gotten more SUV-mail than I’ve gotten email on any other topic. I guess people care about this stuff.
UPDATE: Reader John Henry emails:
I have an Escape Hybrid and love it. It takes a bit to get used to driving a car without the engine running though…
I have been asked, by everyone that found out I bought a hybrid, if I thought it would pay off (gas savings vs extra initial cost) in the long run. I did the math and at $3 a gallon, it will take about 60-70k miles to pay off the initial cost with the gas savings. I drove over 100k on my last car and over 200k on the car before that, so it is likely to pay off in that respect. Personally I chose it because it is much cleaner than the conventional version. I have several requirements on my 4 wheeled vehicle, including the abilty to carry 4 adults comfortably and a large volume of carrying capacity covered. The choice between the Ford and the Toyota was actually a matter of the dealerships I have available. I have an exceptionally good Ford dealer available and have an exellent relationship with the entire staff (sales, sevice, management, and even the detailer), and I have not been impressed with the other dealerships (including the other Ford dealers) in my area.
I would be interested to hear (or more precisely, read on your blog) your thoughts on the subject.
I feel pretty much the same way. I hope, for the sake of the country, that gas prices don’t reach the point where my hybrid pays off quickly via fuel economy. I’m glad to hear good things about the Ford Escape. My local Ford dealer, alas, isn’t up to that level — some years ago we walked after agreeing to a price on a Ford Focus and returning a couple of hours later to pick up the car, only to have the salesman “apologize” and tell us that due to a “mistake” it would cost us $1500 more than we agreed to. I’d never patronize them again, after that. That’s one reason why I didn’t bother trying the Escape. The Explorer, however, is a pretty good SUV if you don’t mind the terrible mileage. (More on that here).
MIKE KREMPASKY has a must-read item on Internet free speech.
MORE RACE RIOTS IN PARIS.
MARK LEVIN: “On ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ Linda Douglass reported that Sam Alito ‘is another white male.’ Actually, as I think about it, he’s less white than the show’s anchor, Charles Gibson. Alito’s skin tone appears to me to be more olive.”
Actually, in the New York Times it appears to be more of a lime green.
ERIN CHAPIN VIDEOBLOGS beer-related difficulties in Knoxville.
ALITO UPDATE: Orin Kerr looks at an Alito abortion decision that’s getting less attention. I spoke to a colleague in the hallway a few minutes ago who has argued before Alito and likes him. He said Alito was way too conservative for his taste (not surprising), but that Alito is fair and smart. He thinks Alito is a lot like John Roberts as a pick. Ann Althouse, meanwhile, thinks he’s a stronger choice than John Roberts. More here from Julian Sanchez.
UPDATE: David Hardy looks at Alito and the Second Amendment.
KATRINA RELIEF MONEY being diverted to Alaska?
IT’S AN ALITO-NOMINATION POLL over at Hugh Hewitt’s.
IN THE MAIL: My law school classmate Gene Sperling’s new book, The Pro-Growth Progressive : An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity. This looks quite interesting, and seems in some ways to resonate with things I’m saying in my forthcoming book. I’ll be writing more about it after I’ve had a chance to read the whole thing. Just the notion that “pro-growth” and “progressive” should go together, of course, will seem radical in some quarters.
N.Z. Bear has also set up a new interactive PorkBusters tracking page that records support from Senators, bloggers, and the like in graphic form. Weigh in!
And here’s a snazzy new PorkBusters graphic, by Karl Egenberger. Feel free to use it. Note that the pig is starting to look worried. . . .
MORE ON OIL SANDS: “The Julian Simon effect is already occurring.”
STUART BUCK POSTS on the origins of “Scalito.”
THIS WEEK’S Carnival of the Capitalists is up!
ABORTION AND SPOUSAL NOTIFICATION: As several people point out, that’s going to be an issue with regard to Alito. I’m not sure what I think about this issue, but looking at the Pennsylvania statute I notice a lot of exceptions, one of which is this: “Her spouse is not the father of the child.”
I’m not sure about Pennsylvania, but in many states her spouse — even if he’s not the father of the child — would still be on the hook for child support. Likewise, if he didn’t want children, but she disagreed, lied to him about birth control, and got pregnant. And he certainly couldn’t force her to have an abortion if she did so, even if his desire not to have children was powerful, and explicitly expressed at the outset. (The usual response — “he made his choice when he had sex without a condom” — never comes up in discussions of women and abortion.)
So where’s the husband’s procreational autonomy? Did he give it up by getting married? And, if he did, is it unthinkable that when they get married women might give some of their autonomy up, too?
The problem here is that you can say “my body, my choice” — but when you say, “my body, my choice but our responsibility,” well, it loses some of its punch.
Somewhat related earlier post, here.
SO MUCH FOR MY KOZINSKI BOOMLET: Reports are that Bush will nominate Judge Samuel Alito of the Third Circuit.
Orin Kerr: “I’m very pleased.”
Ann Althouse: “I welcome hearing something more substantial about the man than that people call him ‘Scalito’ to signify his similarity to Scalia and because his last name is similar enough to Scalia that people just can’t hear ‘Alito’ without wanting to say ‘Scalito.’”
Kathryn Jean Lopez: “I just got the White House talking points on Alito. Nowhere in them does it say that he is one of the best male lawyers in New Jersey.”
UPDATE: Law Dork notes that Bush is stressing the credentials, this time.
JEFF GOLDSTEIN looks at Supreme Court candidates.
RAND SIMBERG has thoughts on “predatory fascism” that’s “trying to take over the globe.”
THE BIG LOSER in the Libby affair, it would seem to me, is the CIA. At least it will be if anyone pays attention.
Consider: Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative — something that’s not actually quite clear from the indictment — the chain of events looks pretty damning: Wilson was sent to Africa on an investigative mission regarding nuclear weapons, but never asked to sign any sort of secrecy agreement(!). Wilson returns, reports, then publishes an oped in the New York Times (!!) about his mission. This pretty much ensures that people will start asking why he was sent, which leads to the fact that his wife arranged it. Once Wilson’s oped appeared, Plame’s covert status was in serious danger. Yet nobody seemed to care.
This leaves two possibilities. One is that the mission was intended to result in the New York Times oped all along, meaning that the CIA didn’t care much about Plame’s status, and was trying to meddle in domestic politics. This reflects very badly on the CIA.
The other possibility is that they’re so clueless that they did this without any nefarious plan, because they’re so inept, and so prone to cronyism and nepotism, that this is just business as usual. If so, the popular theory that the CIA couldn’t find its own weenie with both hands and a flashlight would appear to have found some pretty strong support.
Either way, it seems to me that everyone involved with planning the Wilson mission should be fired. And it’s obvious that the CIA, one way or another, needs a lot of work.
UPDATE: More thoughts here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is correcting Wolf Blitzer, who seems to have a poor grasp of the facts.
MORE: Don’t miss this must-read post from Tom Maguire, either.
And Brian Dunn has more questions about why Wilson was sent.
ONE OF THE THINGS I’VE NOTICED in the Judy Miller / Scooter Libby coverage is the development of a new history that’s very convenient for a lot of the people peddling it. The new story is that:
1. We only went to war because of WMDs — that was the only reason ever given.
2. Bush lied about those.
3. He told his lies to Judy Miller, who acted like a stenographer and reported them.
4. Everyone else gullibly went along.
There are lots of problems with this, beginning with the fact that it’s not true. I’ve addressed much of this — especially parts 1 & 2 — in earlier posts like this one, this one, and especially this one. It gets tiresome having to repeat this stuff, but the new history, despite its falsity, is just too convenient for too many people to be stopped by anything as simple as the truth.
Democratic politicians who supported the war want an excuse to tack closer to their antiwar base. Shouting “It’s not my fault –I’m easily fooled!” would seem a substandard response, but it is a way of changing position while pretending it’s not politically motivated. Meanwhile, journalists, most of whom were reporting the same kind of WMD stories that Miller did (because that’s what pretty much everyone thought — including the antiwar folks who were arguing that an invasion was a bad idea because it would provoke Saddam into using his weapons of mass destruction), now want to focus on her so that people won’t pay much attention to what they were reporting themselves. This makes Judy Miller a handy scapegoat.
But, as I say, the biggest problem with this revisionism is that it’s not true. I guess we’ll just have to keep pointing that out.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Rand Simberg wonders if Scooter Libby will get a harsher sentence than Sandy Berger if convicted.
ANOTHER UPDATE: J.D. Johannes notes that what people were saying in the 1990s seems to raise problems with the revisionist history. “The final authorization for use of force in 2002 cited the legislation from 1998. But what was conventional wisdom and uncontroversial in 1998, became hotly debated in 2002 and beyond.” Especially “beyond.”
MORE: Still more revisionist history, from Barbara Boxer.
MORE STILL: Dean Esmay writes:
Having been part of those debates when they were happening, I am utterly appalled at people I used to think of as intelligent and well-informed who keep repeating falsehood after falsehood after falsehood about it. And I am utterly exhausted with having to, at least once a month or so, go back and rehash the same arguments because some people are not simply honest enough, diligent enough, or caring enough to go back and look at the historical record and just be honest about it.
I find having to rehash it all about as pleasant and satisfying as chewing on aluminum foil. It’s not disagreement I can’t stand, it’s the constant repetition of falsehoods that makes me want to scream.
SUPREME COURT UPDATE: It’s a Kozinski boomlet!
BILL ROGGIO: “Late Friday I conducted an interview with Colonel Stephen W. Davis, the Commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team – 2, who is responsible for fighting in western Anbar province, also known as AO Denver.” Read the whole thing.
WHO’S GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR GASOLINE DOLLARS? TaxProf reports: “Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues—more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period.”
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up!
STRATEGYPAGE: “After two years of work, the Iraqi Sunni Arabs are seeing their worst nightmare come true. And that is an Iraqi army and police force that can do the job, and is not led by Sunni Arabs.”
CHENEY SENDS JOE WILSON to find CIA leaker. Results to be published in the New York Times, presumably — which, if they’re behind the Times Select subscription wall, will be kept more secret than the CIA seems able to manage . . . .
JIGSHA DESAI videoblogs from Knoxville’s only biker tearoom.
READER JIM HERD sends this link to a review of something new — a wifi-enabled digital camera from Canon. (Not Bluetooth, wifi.)
DPReview isn’t that impressed, though: “[P]ersonally I’d like to see manufacturers spending more R&D on important things like low-noise, high sensitivity sensors, better compact lenses, better automatic white balance and improved performance.”
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Here’s a Richard Smalley obituary.
THOUGHTS ON the whole ball of wax.
IMMIGRANTS RIOTING IN PARIS for the second night.
IS PERJURY BY HIGH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS A SERIOUS OFFENSE? I’d have said yes (in fact, I did say yes), but here’s an argument that the American people have already said no, by their electoral response to the Clinton impeachment.
I’m not at all sure I’m persuaded by this, but it’s certainly an interesting twist on the argument. More here.
UPDATE: Michael Barone isn’t convinced either, emailing:
I’m prompted to write by your posting on the blogger who argues that the American people rejected the idea that perjury by a high public official is an important crime because Republicans lost seats in 1998.
It’s true that polls showed most Americans didn’t want Bill Clinton impeached or removed for office. But the blogger relies on election returns. And the election returns showed Republicans won. They won more popular votes for the House than Democrats and they won more House seats than Democrats.
True, they lost a few House seats when they had expected to pick up a few. But they still won more votes. True, Newt Gingrich was out as speaker. But Denny Hastert, not Dick Gephardt, was in.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that rising violence is threatening food security in Sudan’s Darfur region. It says next month’s important harvest may be affected by fighting between rebels and government forces, banditry and violence over cattle looting and access to grazing lands. The main crops in Darfur include maize, millet and okra.
More starvation is likely to ensue. Unfortunately, the rebels are rather disorganized at the moment, though they seem to be trying to get their act together. Special Forces trainers and guns would probably help.
UPDATE: Much more here.
MOB VIOLENCE in California.
TERROR BOMBINGS in New Delhi.
DAVE KOPEL LOOKS at Judges Luttig & Alito on the Second Amendment.
Of course, no such tea-leaf reading is required where Alex Kozinski is concerned:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or . . . the press” also means the Internet, and that “persons, houses, papers, and effects” also means public telephone booths. When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases–or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.
It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as spring-boards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences. . . .
All too many of the other great tragedies of history— Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few—were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. See Kleinfeld Dissent at 5997-99. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars. My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history.
Read the whole thing — especially if you work at the White House on Supreme Court nominations!
IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:
The suspense ended Friday for I. Lewis Libby, but one of the case’s biggest questions remained unanswered: What was the exact role of Robert Novak, the journalist whose column unmasked CIA operative Valerie Plame?
While it is now clear that the testimony of reporters Tim Russert, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller was crucial to Patrick Fitzgerald’s leak investigation, it still isn’t known who was Mr. Novak’s primary source.
Indeed. Read the whole thing.
SO WHILE ALL THIS OTHER STUFF WAS GOING ON, the Insta-Wife and I were test-driving cars as part of our slow-motion campaign to figure out what will replace the aging (nearly 7 years old, so call it “late middle age”) Passat wagon.
Already tested: The Nissan Murano (nice, but lousy mileage), Infiniti FX45 (too small, lousy mileage), Honda Pilot (I liked it, she didn’t), Honda Odyssey (minivan; we both hated it), Lexus RX330 (too expensive, not enough room). Off the table: The Dodge Magnum Hemi wagon (I liked it, she didn’t, lousy mileage), the Passat TDI wagon (I liked it, great mileage, but the Insta-Daughter is sick of the Passat back seat, and she spends a lot of time there).
Today we testdrove the Toyota Highlander hybrid and the Subaru Tribeca. The Tribeca has its high points, but the Highlander was the big winner, beating out all of the cars I’ve driven.
I was ready for the quiet — turn the key and it doesn’t make any noise. I found it smooth, maneuverable, and quite impressively powerful. The interior is nicely done, though a bit busy and Toyota-ish; nothing wrong with it, but more functional than aesthetic. The third-row seats are good only for kids or small adults, but at least they’re available. Lots of cupholders.
Acceleration was quite impressive, seeming at least as good as the Passat wagon. It handled more like a car than an SUV, and the turning circle was quite small. The seats are very comfortable.
The Subaru is a lot better looking inside and out — some people don’t like the nose styling, but I do. The interior is very pretty and comfortable, probably the nicest SUV interior I’ve seen. Helen loved it. Handling was smooth and stable, though mushier than the Highlander. The downside: It’s a slug. I’d read reviews that said it was short on power, but I didn’t give them complete credence — when guys who testdrive Ferraris say that something’s sluggish, I don’t always agree. But the Subaru is slooowww. Pushing the accelerator to the floor makes the engine get louder, but doesn’t make it go appreciably faster, in a fashion reminiscent of underpowered GM products from the 1980s. Plus the mileage is still mediocre.
The winner: The Highlander. The mileage is actually better than the Passat, especially in town where I do most of my driving, it’s roomier and comfier, while driving amazingly well for something of its size. I doubt that it’s worth the premium for the hybrid on a purely economic basis — especially as old-style SUVs are trading at a deep discount now, with lots of “$5000 off” signs around the dealers, which would buy a lot of gas — but if you don’t want a minivan, and you do want room, and you’re offended by the idea of getting 16 miles per gallon, then it looks pretty good.
NOBEL LAUREATE and nanotechnologist Richard Smalley has died.
HERE’S A HUGE ROUNDUP of Libby-related stuff from the Wall Street Journal.
Also Austin Bay has thoughts:
The White House will make another political mistake if it decides to try to defend Lewis Libby. Fortunately –for the country, for the health of America’s governmental institutions– the Bush White House hasn’t pulled a Clinton and trashed the prosecutor. By and large the Bush Administration has respected the judicial process. A Clintonesque trash-the-prosecutor tactic probably wouldn’t work, anyway, given the national press corps’ pro-Democrat bias. Clinton could rely on the national press to amplify his tawdry demonization of Ken Starr. The national press hates the Bush Administration.
If Libby committed perjury he did so out of arrogance. The most likely scenario is this both simple and sad: Libby thought he could get away with it. But then so did Clinton. Clinton lied to a federal judge and lost his bar license for five years. It’s time to give the Beltway Culture a kick. If he’s convicted, Libby should serve time. No one is above the law. If Libby is judged innocent, then he’ll continue to practice law in Washington. As I recall, one of his former clients was Marc Rich (the mega-felon pardoned by Clinton in the waning days of Clinton’s administration).
I should have thought of that — conspiracy theorists, take it away!
On the question of what Libby was thinking — well, if the charges are true, it beats me. I actually had an email the other day from someone who used to practice law with him, and who expressed disbelief that a lawyer as smart and careful as Libby could get into this kind of trouble. Part of the problem, I think, is that working at the White House makes people stupid — between stress, sleep deprivation (which is no joke in that setting), constant flitting from crisis to crisis, and general bubble-ization, past a certain point people get effectively dumber the longer they stay. Is there more to it than that? Who knows. Fitzgerald didn’t make it sound like there’s a lot more here, but I suppose we’ll see.
UPDATE: Here’s a transcript of Hugh Hewitt’s interview with former prosecutor Andrew McBride, who — like Austin Bay — thinks highly of Patrick Fitzgerald’s work.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Much more — all of it bad for Libby, pretty much — here and here though there’s this upside: “On the other hand, though, Libby also clearly was not trying to out Plame for the purpose of endangering her, punishing Wilson or harming the CIA. He was trying to do something that was legal and appropriate: to discredit Wilson and knock down Wilson’s misleading story about why he was sent to Niger. He should not have done it the way he appears to have done it, but he surely was not doing what Wilson and the Left have been claiming.”
TOM MAGUIRE has a lot of thoughts on the Libby indictment, including these:
However embarrassing it might be, the NY Times may be forced to confront the fact that Nick Kristof is an important part of this story, since Fitzgerald essentially dates the beginning of this story to Kristof’s May 6 column. The column was riddled with inaccuracies which Mr. Wilson has since disavowed – let’s see if the Times tackles this.
And, per the summary (p. 5), it will be a bit harder for Joe Wilson and his many defenders to sustain the notion that his wife was not involved with selecting him for this trip.
And that was hard already.
A TAMIFLU SHORTAGE? Make more.
THIS SEEMS RIGHT TO ME:
Federal law enforcement attempts to use cell phones as tracking devices were rebuked twice this month by lower court judges, who say the government cannot get real time tracking information on citizens without showing probable cause.
This summer, Department of Justice officials separately asked judges from Texas and Long Island, New York to sign off on orders to cellular phone service providers compelling them to turn over phone records and location information — in real time — on two different individuals.
Both judges rejected the location tracking portion of the request in harshly worded opinions, concluding investigators cannot turn cell phones into tracking devices by simply telling a judge the information is likely “relevant” to an investigation.
“When the government seeks to turn a mobile telephone into a means for contemporaneously tracking the movements of its user, the delicately balanced compromise that Congress has forged between effective law enforcement and individual privacy requires a showing of probable cause,” wrote Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of New York in the latest decision Monday.
PDF of the opinion, here.
THE MOUNTAIN HAS LABORED AND BROUGHT FORTH A MOUSE: At least if this report from the Post is true: No Rove indictment, and only a lame False Statements Act charge against Libby, which wouldn’t even relate to the underlying issue. This will be a blue Fitzmas for some people if it works out that way, but it’s too early to be sure that these reports are correct.
UPDATE: Okay, the indictment is out and it’s more like a large rabbit:
Libby was indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The five-count indictment charged that he gave misleading information to the grand jury, allegedly lying about information he discussed with three news reporters. It alleged that he committed perjury before the grand jury in March 2004 and that he also lied to FBI agents investigating the case.
(Indictment text here). Lying to a grand jury is serious, if true. The rest is Martha Stewart stuff. But this isn’t the Libby-Rove-Cheney takedown that the lefties have been hoping for — there’s not even a charge of “outing” a covert agent — and the very extravagance of their hopes will make this seem much less significant. If there’s no more, this will probably do Bush little harm.
Laura Lee Donoho, meanwhile, says it’s not Fitzmas, but Fitzween. Boo!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Various readers send versions of this: “That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on! . . . Look, that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide! It’s a killer! . . . He’s got huge, sharp… er… He can leap about. Look at the bones!”
MORE: Some predictions. And Orin Kerr has further thoughts: “All things considered, the Libby indictment handed down today was narrower than I expected. As I read it, all five of the counts come down to Libby’s lying to investigators and the grand jury about his contacts with the press. The counts seem pretty clearly valid and tight on the law, although none go to the substantive offense for which Libby was investigated.”
Meanwhile, Byron York wonders why we still don’t know who the leaker is.
Michael Kinsley: “Either this whole prosecution is nuts or the mainstream media view of reporters’ rights is nuts. Which is it?”
Eugene Volokh wonders what a government official is supposed to do.
Jayne Meynardie emails: “Mouse or rabbit or whatever, if he knowingly lied to a grand jury, he should be punished, and no one should feel the least bit bad for him.” True enough — but it’s hardly what we were promised in the run-up to today, is it? Perhaps more will materialize, as I noted above — but as I also noted above, if this is all there is, it doesn’t live up to the hoopla.
Gateway Pundit has more on the “who is the leaker” question. Was there a “leak” at all? Fitzgerald won’t say. A commenter adds: “I think if I am ever called to a GJ, they will hear one thing… silence.”
A BLOG ADVERTISING KERFUFFLE: “Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate pulled campaign ads from a bloggers’ Web site Thursday because the blogger had derided a black Republican candidate in Maryland as ‘Sambo.’” The blogger in question is the often-excitable Steve Gilliard. He’s calling the Kaine campaign racist: “‘I guess they have a problem with black people expressing themselves in print,’ Gilliard said.”
Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus thinks that Michael McConnell is “near-ideal post-Miers nominee.”
I’d prefer Alex Kozinski — or my perennial favorite, Eugene Volokh — but Bush may feel otherwise.
Howard Kurtz observes:
Miers’s 24 days in the searing spotlight demonstrated many things. One, that the conservative punditocracy is a powerful force, and never more so than when it decides to break with a Republican president. Two, that the normally disciplined White House can look amateurish when it makes as many mistakes as it did on this nomination. Three, that a Supreme Court candidate may be able to survive a thin resume, but not also a bungled questionnaire, unimpressive meetings with senators, an attempt to sell her on religious grounds, gushing letters to her boss, and no trace of ever trying to seriously address constitutional issues. Four, that nominating cronies is risky business. Five, that the party seems divided (former senator Jack Danforth told CNN that the activists’ attacks were “mean” and “outrageous,” though they simply used the power of their words to undermine a shaky nominee). Six, that presidents really do seem snakebitten in their second terms (see Watergate, Iran-contra, Lewinsky).
Yes. Miers was a weak candidate, who might have been confirmed anyway if the White House had been on its game. But it wasn’t.
THE N.Y.U. JOURNAL OF LAW AND LIBERTY is sponsoring an online symposium on Sarbanes-Oxley. Move fast — I participated in one of their online symposia and when I went back to post my followup comments it was already over. This is internet time, not law-review time!
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: People are dying of AIDS, but the Congress is using CDC money to fund Japanese gardens:
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, engaged in a dialogue on the Senate floor earlier this week regarding the former’s amendment to transfer $60 million previously appropriated for a Japanese garden at an Atlanta federal building to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Their exchange provides a vivid demonstration of the warped priorities encouraged by pork barrel culture in Congress.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Tapscott has updated his post — the $60 million is for an entire package of upgrades, not just a Japanese garden. But the Senate has voted not to shift the money.
SYRIA MOUNTS PRO-REGIME PROTESTS and other responses to its political/diplomatic problems:
Officials are talking about rationing some consumer goods to manage the impact of sanctions, and are considering other measures, like releasing political prisoners or making overtures toward cleaning up corruption, as a means of rallying support, the analysts and people who work with the government said.
The efforts, however, may not provide much of a salve. At least one Kurdish leader, for example, said he doubted the government’s sincerity, and viewed its offers as far too little to make a difference.
“If they don’t allow for real freedoms and resolve internal problems, the people will not be behind them,” said Kheir al-Deen Murad, secretary general of the Kurdish Azadi Party in Syria. “They have to open up the political life.”
They are, however, deploying pro-regime protest babes. As arms-races go, this is pretty benign, at least!
UPDATE: Reader Russell Mitchell emails: “The pro-regime babes aren’t doing one thing… .. smiling. Tells you all you need to know.”
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE: “The movement of physicians from poor to rich countries is a growing obstacle to global health. Ghana, with 0.09 physician per thousand population, sends doctors to the United Kingdom, which has 18 times as many physicians per capita.”
UPDATE: Generation Why says that if the indictments turn out this way, it means that there was never a Plame story to begin with.
FORBES attacks bloggers with an angry, adjective-filled article by Daniel Lyons that seems to live up to the worst claims it makes about the blogosphere — even to the extent of shilling for companies that purport to offer “brand protection” against blog attacks.
Here’s how to protect your brand: don’t be an ass. And I’m giving that advice away for free.
UPDATE: Dan Gillmor:
Do bloggers sometimes go too far? Of course. But if the best-read bloggers typically did work of the lousy quality shown in the Forbes stories, they’d be pilloried — appropriately so. . . . Let’s hope Forbes returns to its normally higher standards in the future.
FOUND PHOTOS: “The pages below show prints I made from processing film I found in old cameras. In many cases the exposed films were over fifty years old. You are seeing them for the first time as they were lost by the photographers that took these images. . . . Each roll of found film I am successful with makes me wish I could find the families of the subjects in the photographs. What a wonderful gift it would be to show them what I’d found.”
(Via Fred Lapides’ not-safe-for-work blog. The images linked above, however, are all work-safe. Lileks would love them, and the commentary.)
THE U.N. POINTS OUT MORE SYRIAN MISCONDUCT IN LEBANON: Publius has the scoop.
MICHAEL MALONE REPORTS from the blog summit in New York.
A REVIEW of Dennis Hastert’s blog: “I don’t know if he’ll keep up with it, but from reading his initial post, it seems clear that he’s not employing ghostbloggers.”
TOM MAGUIRE: “On Wednesday the normally fine Douglas Jehl of the NY Times went into the tank on the Tim Russert question.” It’s a coverup!
UPDATE: That was fun — I was on with Megan McArdle — and the big topic was George Bush’s political future. My suggestion: Since Bush isn’t running in 2008 it’s not all about him any more.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran appears to have named a building after himself.
HERE’S A POST-MIERS roundup from Business Week.
PLEDGING DONATIONS to anti-pork candidates. I like this idea.
NEAL BOORTZ wants you to support Air America.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Just had an interesting conference call with Sen. Coburn and several other bloggers. We discussed a lot of ways to increase transparency in funding bills, and it was clear that (1) the White House is beginning to feel the heat; and (2) this will be going on over the next year. It’s a war of attrition, not a quick-hit.
Ultimately, I think we need to move toward Open Source Legislation as a model, though as Sen. Coburn was quick to point out, the Congressional leadership will fight tooth-and-claw against that. And heck, if we can get Dennis Hastert blogging, anything’s possible.
UPDATE: More, including a list of who was on the call, here.
MORE THOUGHTS ON THE MIERS WITHDRAWAL, over at GlennReynolds.com.
UNSCAM UPDATE: “2,000 firms ‘paid oil-for-food kickbacks:’”
Preferential treatment was given to companies from France, Russia and China, the report says, all permanent members of the Security Council, who were more favorable to lifting the 1990 sanctions than the America and Britain.
The independent inquiry committee, which began its work in 2004, said in an earlier report that the program became deeply corrupted as Saddam arranged for surcharges and kickbacks while an overwhelmed UN headquarters failed to exert administrative control over the program.
Read the whole thing, which is still more support, if any were needed, for the Den Beste Theory that France, et al., were opposed to invasion in part for fear that once Saddam was toppled we’d discover how much they’d been violating sanctions. There’s also this possibly related item:
The suspicion of past corruption tainting Jacques Chirac’s presidency returned to haunt him yesterday when a court imposed suspended sentences and fines on his former henchmen. . . . The outcome of the trial, which highlighted kickbacks of £50 million from school building contracts, was another crushing indictment of a political system riddled with corruption from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s.
Riddled with corruption? You don’t say.
I think liberal bloggers like me preferred Miers becoming the devil we knew and now wait for the next nomination which will be a devil we don’t know and should not look forward to.
It’ll be interesting to see who’s next.
IN THE MAIL: Richard Miniter’s Disinformation : 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror. Looks quite interesting, and the “myths” in question are held on both left and right.
GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ:
This left Abu Theeb, a man who has devoted himself and his resources to fighting the Americans, in a curious position. His battle on polling day would be to secure a safe and smooth voting for his people – in a referendum organised by the enemy. In doing so he would be going up against the al-Qaida forces, and risking a split in the insurgency in Iraq.
I spent five days with Abu Theeb and his people last week, and I witnessed a very curious thing: a bunch of mujahideens talking politics and urging restraint. “Politics for us is like filthy dead meat,” Abu Theeb told me. “We are not allowed to eat it, but if you are passing through the desert and your life depends on it, God says it’s OK.” This is a profound shift in thinking for these insurgents, a shift that might just change the way things develop in Iraq.
And in The Guardian, no less. Read the whole thing, which underscores the point made in the StrategyPage excerpt below: Attacking Iraqis has been deadly for Al Qaeda. Read this, too.
HARRIET MIERS HAS WITHDRAWN HER NAME from nomination. You can see the text of her letter to President Bush in the Washington Post.
She’s to be commended for doing this. The White House made a dreadful error in nominating her, which it compounded by its ham-handed efforts in support of her candidacy, and this was perhaps the only way to ensure that it wouldn’t be a complete debacle for the Bush Administration. Let’s hope that they’ll do better the next time around. I’m not hoping for Alex Kozinski or anything — okay, well, I’m hoping — but we need a nominee who’ll meet the high expectations established by the Roberts appointment. That Miers wasn’t up to those standards is no discredit to her, as very few lawyers are. But it is a discredit to the White House, which nominated her. Now it’s a do-over, and they’d be well-advised not to blow it.
CHIEF WIGGLES’ NEW BOOK, Saving Babylon, is out. I read it in manuscript and thought it was quite good.
IIPM UPDATE: A “breakout moment” for the Indian blogosphere, according to Mark Glaser in the Online Journalism Review.
Read the whole thing. This flap is, as I noted before, more evidence that heavy-handed tactics don’t work very well against bloggers. Which, given that anyone can be a blogger, means that heavy-handed tactics are just a bad idea nowadays.
There’s an interesting pattern developing in Moslem media, especially the satellite news networks like al Jazeera; they are featuring more stories about Islamic terrorist attacks killing innocent Moslem civilians. Moslem journalists have an interesting, largely symbiotic, relationship with Islamic terrorists. They need each other. The terrorists need the favorable exposure in order to encourage people to join (especially for suicide missions), give money and provide support for actual operations (a place to hide, information). Islamic terrorists tend to be popular with Moslem audiences, especially when they are killing non-Moslems. Thus Moslem journalists do well when they feature stories of Islamic terrorists.
Arabs in particular, and Moslems in general, have adopted an attitude of victimhood, and tend to blame most of their problems on others, especially Westerners (although occasionally they will use other, usually nearby, but different from them, Moslems). Thus the enormous popularity, among Moslems, of the 911 attacks, and other terrorist operations that kill lots of infidels (non-Moslems). But the hero turns to zero when the victims are Moslems, especially if they are of the same ethnicity or nationality as the journalists.
Terrorists actually have the same symbiotic relationship with western media, who usually aren’t so squeamish when their fellow-nationals are murdered.
In a related post from a while back, Nelson Ascher wonders when Buddhists will bomb Paris — and if so, whether it will just be seen in the West as a justified response to imperialism. Personally, I blame the Crusades.
MICKEY KAUS issues a multiple-count indictment against The New York Times’ management. “And, of course, Pinch’s overarching, original crime: Freeing a respected national newspaper to become an unashamed cocooning organ of New York liberal political and aesthetic prejudices (with a few exceptions, like Miller, that are slowly being corrected).”