Sunday, July 31, 2005

Amadeus, Salieri, and escaping mediocrity


One of my joys this summer was to have time off to visit with my 10 year old daughter, Olivia. Olivia enjoyed the movie "Amadeus" and wanted to see it again.

The Salieri character is one that I can relate to, sort of. I say "sort of" because, in this film, Salieri rises from a common beginning to become the court composer of the King of Vienna. So, to be brutally honest, the "mediocre" Salieri achieved a level of success in his lifetime that I will never come close to seeing. Yet, his own success doesn't bring him happiness, as he has the "gift" (curse?) of seeing how uncommonly brilliant Mozart is.

So, why am I so hopelessly mediocre at everything that I do; let me rephrase that; why are my strongest areas merely mediocre?

Of course, there is an easy answer, but for some reason, that answer is the hardest of all to swallow. So bear with me as I do some exploration.


Athletic Failures

First, I'll start with my first shattered dream: football. Since I was a young boy listening to Notre Dame and Green Bay Packer football broadcast on AFRTS (my Dad was in the Air Force) I just knew I was going to be a football star some day.

So, from the time I was in junior high school, I lifted weights on my own. I did hours of "bridge" exercises to toughen up my neck so I could block the way that Vince Lombardi taught his Green Bay Packers to block. I ran wind sprints, ran stairs, ran with ankle weights and drank extra milk.

So I had shot up to 6 feet, 190 lbs. by the time I was in 9'th grade; my goal was to make the varsity. I didn't that year ( but was to make it the following year). But, alas, I was still mostly dead last in windsprints (until everyone else got tired) and was frequently "out quicked" by the better players.

I was to finish my senior season mostly on the bench, though I did get to play some and had the honor of getting run over by those who ended up playing for Rice, University of Texas, Georgia Tech, and later for the Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburg Steelers and the Washington Redskins.

Ah-ha! It was that I had too much slow-twitch muscle fiber, right?

So I turned to distance running. Ok, at my best marathons (26.2 mile footraces), the winner would finish when I was at mile 16. Well, if only I trained more (ok, I frequently injured myself by overtraining) or if only I showed a bit more courage and races and really gave it my all.

Well... why do my photos always show me looking almost comatose?
academic Failures
So, now to my job. I am a math professor at a small Midwestern university. I publish from time to time; nothing I've done especially distinguishes me at the national level.
Well, why is that? It just seems to me that, whatever level I was in during my academic career, I was always slightly underprepared for that level. For example, I really was ready to learn calculus after I had taken my advanced analysis course, and so on. Dang; if I knew then what I know now, I'd be so much better off!
So my fantasy is to fake my death, escape and establish a new identity, and start college all over again, as an undergraduate. Yes, I'd tear right though the ranks, win those awards I didn't win the first time, go to grad school, kick some butt in the classroom and this time write that hot-shot thesis that gets me a postgraduate appointment at Berkeley. Then a big time academic post would follow, along with that yoga instructor or triathlon babe caliber wife who wouldn't get fat, right?

Wrong.
Of course, by the time I got to thesis writing, all of my advantages would be gone, and the smarter students would still write the good thesis and my new wife would still gain weight after I married her.
Ahhh, for the serenity to admit that I just don't have it and to be grateful for what I do have! And besides, I am not researching as I am typing this, am I???

Friday, July 29, 2005

One thing I hate about being a liberal

From The Hill News:

"If Vice President Cheney is indeed a “serious darkhorse” candidate for president in 2008, as Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward recently suggested, he probably won’t want to enlist legendary White House reporter Helen Thomas to help with his press relations, even though she has proposed a campaign strategy he could run on......
[....]
(when) asked this week if she is promoting a Cheney candidacy, Thomas made it clear she isn’t.
“The day I say Dick Cheney is going to run for president, I’ll kill myself,” she told The Hill. “All we need is one more liar.”" (click on the link for the full story).

Oh great. When thing go wrong, what do liberals say? We say we are
  • going to move away or
  • going to "kill ourselves".

To which the conservatives reply: "go ahead."

This is one of the few times I agree with conservative sentiment.

Hey, when the conservatives lose, they declare war (no, I am not talking about Rove's comment about 9-11; that was one wheezing, paunchy old man trying to talk tough to other wheezing, paunchy old men)

And let's face it: if we are unwilling to stand up to a fat, feeble, insipid, bitter and repulsive old geezer like Cheney, then we don't deserve to win.

I am sick and tired of this pathetic "oh, I am going to kill myself" crap!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Democrats: it is time to grow up!

I've been spending too much time at my favorite internet haunts; my favorites include the dailykos, commongroundcommonsense, the Huffingtonpost and now, the DLC site.

I've noticed some rather disturbing trends. It appears that the "centrist" DLC types and the "progressives" are going after each other. So, I'll do some venting here, in this nice "no one is going to read this anyway" setting.

DLC: get a grip. Yes, I know that we need to get more independents on our side, but let's remember that during the 2004 election, when we were running against a sitting wartime president and had a fearful electorate, a New England "liberal" lost 51-49. It wasn't 61-39!!! Therefore, there is no need to go around alienating your base.

Remember that groups like DailyKos and MoveOn draw lots of fire from Republicans and they wouldn't if they were not "stinging" them. Remember that group like DFA are getting progressives elected at various levels.

Also, remember that you need to keep the Berkeley-Cambridge-Madison-Ann Arbor votes in order to have a chance to win. And, if you want to win in the red states, you need to carry the Knoxvilles-Athens (Ga.)-Tuscaloosas-Little Rocks-Austins too.

Anti-DLC types: get a grip. The DLC isn't the enemy!!! There is nothing wrong with debating the issues and making your preferences known.

But please, the next time you start complaining that "Clinton, Bayh, or Reid are republicans" or that a "Bean is a republican", do some research. Go to a site like: http://blueollie.blogspot.com/2005/06/how-liberal-or-conservative-is-your.html

and look at the voting records.

For an example, look at the Progressive Punch records. Start with the Senate.
Senator Durbin rates out at 94.3, Senator Boxer at 94.2. Ok, that's the "gold standard".
Here are some other ratings: Senator Feingold: 89.2, Senator Clinton: 91.6, Senator Kerry: 85.6. The hard core DLC types: Senator Biden, 84.47, Senator Reid 81.01, Senator Bayh 78.83.

So the latter are republicans, right? Wrong. The republicans ranked in the 60'th to 100'th score 10.0 or less! The highest rated Republican, Senator Chafee scores at 41.0, Senator Specter scores at 35.28 and Senator McCain scores at 13.5.

Turning to the House, we see that most liberals score in the 80-90 range. My local congressman (LaHood, R-IL) scores a 10.0 and he is considered a moderate. Congressman Bean, who has caught some heat for a few bad votes (e. g., bankruptcy reform, CAFTA) scores a 77.0.

So, to the anti-DLC types, I don't know about you, but I see a "70%" Democrat as much preferable to a "10%" Republican. Yes, I'd love to see a Senator Boxer as a president, but that isn't going to happen.

So, grow up! Yes, it might be cool to whine and complain about being a victim, but it is much more rewarding to sacrifice, compromise, and get a 70, 80 or even a low 90 person elected and at least get to win some of the important battles, and perhaps make progress in the other areas.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Why did Kerry lose?

So, the question is: why did Kerry lose? We Democrats are asking ourselves that question. Many answers are offered up; just take a look at the Democracy for America or The Dail Kos for examples.

We hear: "Kerry was Republican Lite", "Kerry should mave moved left", "Kerry was too liberal", "Kerry didn't have (or communicate) strong convictions", "Kerry was too cold", etc.

Frankly, I am not buying any of that. For one, Kerry got more votes than any other presidential candidate in U. S. history, save one: George W. Bush, 2004. This was a painfully close election; indeed since 1856 (when the Republican Party replaced the old Whig party), only the elections of 1876, 1916 and 2000 had a closer electoral margin, and only twice (1916, 2000) did the loser get as many or more electoral votes than Kerry.

I think that the anguished analysis of Kathleen Pollitt (from The Nation) hits the nail on the head when she said: "Maybe this time the voters chose what they actually want: nationalism, pre-emptive war, ..."saftey" through torture....a my-way-or-the-highway President." The article is below.

Mourn
[from the November 22, 2004 issue]

Please. Just right now, don't say, "Don't mourn, organize" or "Pray for the dead but fight like hell for the living." Don't explain Kerry's loss with Harry Truman's quip that voters will always choose the real Republican over the fake Republican. Don't let's talk about Eugene Debs and Fighting Bob La Follette and how important it is to lose and lose and lose until you win. It all seems a bit inadequate, a bit quaint and this-land-is-your-landish, the left's commitment to doing more of what we've been doing, only harder.

I also don't want to hear carping criticisms of John Kerry. Given that he is a fallible mortal, he was a pretty good candidate. Sure, he made mistakes--not responding instantly to the Swift Boat liars, wearing that silly goose-hunting get-up, letting Bush get away with saying drugs from Canada will kill you--but Bush committed his share of gaffes as well. Any candidate does. Think back to the actual human beings running in the primaries: Who would have done better in the real-world mix of competing claims and hard choices and twenty-four-hour spin? Dennis Kucinich? Al Sharpton? I admired Howard Dean, but face it, the Republican attack machine would have shredded him in a week.

The Kerry campaign may have been a broth with too many cooks, but it did a lot of things right. It raised a ton of money from small and first-time donors instead of relying on big donors, as the Democrats have tended to do for the last decade. It had fantastic labor support. It had MoveOn, America Coming Together and the other 527s, which mobilized intensity, creativity, time and cash and evoked a surge of grassroots progressive activism like nothing in living memory. Hundreds of thousands of people--Democrats, leftists, Greens, independents, Deaniacs, even a few stray Republicans--knocked themselves out registering voters, phone-banking, going door to door; for many, like me, this was the first time they'd volunteered for a presidential campaign. Kerry had the energy of millions, black and white, enraged by Florida 2000, by Iraq, by Bush's governing from the hard right without anything resembling a mandate--people who were willing to stand in long lines in the hot sun or November chill for however many hours it took to cast their ballot. Kerry may not have displayed passion, but his supporters had plenty to spare.

It's an article of faith among progressives that moving to the left wins votes, and I have written many columns in witness to the creed. But what if it isn't true? What if it wins fewer votes than being a liar and a bigot? One leftist intellectual I saw at an election-night party suggested to me that Kerry shot himself in the foot when he didn't throw Abu Ghraib in Bush's face and proclaim that as President he would never permit torture. I would have wept with joy to hear that speech, but where is the evidence that significant numbers of voters not already committed to Kerry--let alone voters who supported Bush--were outraged by Abu Ghraib? Did I miss the demonstrations, the sit-ins, the teach-ins, the lying down in traffic by swing voters and nonvoters to force the Bush Administration to account for this outrageous crime against humanity?

Similarly, some were impatient with Kerry's "nuanced" position on gay marriage, but is there any reason on God's earth to believe there are lots of gay-friendly swing voters or nonvoters out there just waiting for a candidate who wants to let Mary Cheney wed Rosie O'Donnell? Everything we know--the passage of all eleven state bans on gay marriage, for example, some of which go so far as to ban civil unions as well--suggests that Kerry understood quite well where the people were.

OK, you say, that's one of those pesky newfangled cultural-elite issues that alienate the heartland, which yearns for the old-time religion of "economic populism." Kerry's health insurance plan wasn't perfect, it wasn't single-payer, but it would have insured all children and about half the adults currently uninsured--26.7 million people!--and it would have been paid for by canceling Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, something populists should go for. No sale. His plan to help young people pay for college wasn't perfect either, but it was a lot better than what young people are getting now. Result: Young people constituted their usual pathetic proportion of the total vote. And this is after the best efforts of P Diddy, Christina Aguilera, Eminem and virtually every other pop icon except Britney Spears.

The logic of the "Left Is More" position seems to be this: What people really want is a Debs or La Follette who will smite the corporations, turn swords into plowshares, share the wealth and banish John Ashcroft to a cabin in the Ozarks. But since the Democratic Party denies them their first choice, they will--naturally!--pick a hard-right warmaker of staggering incompetence and no regard for either the Constitution or the needs of the people. Better that than settle for a liberal centrist who would only raise the minimum wage by two dollars. In other words, these proto-progressives will consciously choose the greater evil out of what--spite? pride? I scorn your half-measures, sir! Keep your small change!

This makes no sense to me as an explanation of the recent election. It doesn't explain, for example, why Republicans gained in both House and Senate. It doesn't explain why Californians rejected a referendum to amend their three-strikes law so that twice-convicted felons wouldn't get twenty-five years for shoplifting, or why Arizonans voted solidly to bar undocumented aliens from obtaining a wide range of essential public services and to require public servants to report them if they try. It doesn't explain why the Kansas school board is once again a chorus line of creationists.

Maybe this time the voters chose what they actually want: Nationalism, pre-emptive war, order not justice, "safety" through torture, backlash against women and gays, a gulf between haves and have-nots, government largesse for their churches and a my-way-or-the-highway President.

Where, I wonder, does that leave us?

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Facts Behind the Rove Scandal

Fact Check.org has published a very nice timeline concerning the Rove scandal. I highly recommend clicking on the link to read the article.

The text follows:

The Wilson-Plame-Novak-Rove Blame Game Both sides twist and hype the case of a CIA agent’s leaked identity.

We document what’s known so far. July 22, 2005 (Note: To view this article with any associated graphics, sidebars, supporting documents, video or audio files, please go to our website. This email contains the text portion only.)

Summary The disclosure of CIA agent Valerie Wilson’s identity has triggered a partisan blame game complete with distortions and misstatements by both sides. Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said the agent’s husband Joe Wilson falsely claimed Vice President Cheney authorized his trip to Africa – a claim Wilson never actually made. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on the floor of the Senate that the leak “put this agent’s life in jeopardy,” a claim for which no evidence has surfaced.

Here we won’t attempt to debunk every false or misleading claim. We thought our readers would be better served by a timeline documenting what is publicly known so far. Complete citations for each fact and links to original sources are available in the full article on our homepage.

We have no idea whether Karl Rove or anybody else has broken the law, something that can only be decided by a judge and jury should any charges ever be brought. Some information remains classified, and we can't know what facts the special prosecutor may have turned up, as they are protected by grand-jury secrecy. New bits and pieces seem to surface almost daily.

Here is what we know so far:

Analysis

The Timeline1988-1991 – Joseph Wilson serves as Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad, Iraq. In July 1990, he takes over as acting ambassador to Iraq. (Joseph Wilson, The Politics of Truth 451, 2004).

1992-1995 – Nominated by President George H.W. Bush, Wilson serves as Ambassador to the African nations of Gabon, as well as the smaller island country of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe. (Wilson, Politics 451).

1995-1997 – Joseph Wilson serves as political adviser to the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe, stationed in Germany. On a trip to Washington DC, Wilson meets Valerie Plame who at the time says she is an “energy executive living in Brussels.” (Wilson, Politics 239-242).

June 1997 – Joseph Wilson returns to Washington DC as Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. At about the same time, Plame also moves back to the United States (Wilson, Politics 240), in part because the CIA suspects her name was leaked to the Russians in 1994. (Vanity Fair, Jan. ‘04).

April 3, 1998 – Wilson and Plame marry. (Wilson, Politics 276).

July 1998 – Joseph Wilson leaves government service to open a consulting firm specializing in assisting international investment in Africa. (Wilson, Politics 275).

1999 – Joseph Wilson takes a trip to Niger at the behest of the CIA to investigate “uranium-related matters” separate from Iraq (Wilson, Politics lv-lvi). According to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on pre-war intelligence, Wilson “was selected for the 1999 trip after his wife mentioned to her supervisors that her husband was planning a business trip to Niger in the near future and might be willing to use his contacts in the region.” (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Report on Prewar Assessment of Iraq Intelligence, 39, July 2004).

April 22, 1999 – Valerie Wilson lists “Brewster-Jennings & Assoc." - later revealed to be a CIA front company—as her employer when making a donation to the Gore campaign. (Gore FEC filing).

June 1999 – Niger’s former prime minister Ibrahim Mayaki meets with an Iraqi delegation wanting to discuss “expanding commercial relations.” Mayaki interprets this as an interest in uranium, Niger’s main export, and later tells Wilson that he did not discuss it because Iraq remained under UN trade sanctions. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 43-44, July 2004).

October 15, 2001 – US intelligence agencies become aware of reports from the Italian intelligence service of a supposed agreement between Iraq and Niger for the sale of uranium yellowcake. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research considers the report “highly suspect” because the French control Niger’s uranium industry. The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Energy consider a uranium deal “possible.” (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 36, July 2004).

October 18, 2001 – The CIA writes a report titled, Iraq: Nuclear-Related Procurement Efforts. It quotes many of the Italian report’s claims, but adds that the report of a completed deal is not corroborated by any other sources. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 36- 37, July 2004).

February 5, 2002 – The CIA’s Directorate of Operations – the clandestine branch that employed Valerie Wilson – issues a second report including “verbatim text” of an agreement, supposedly signed July 5-6, 2000 for the sale of 500 tons of uranium yellowcake per year. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 37, July ‘04).

February 12, 2002 – The Defense Intelligence Agency writes a report concluding “Iraq is probably searching abroad for natural uranium to assist in its nuclear weapons program.” Vice President Cheney reads this report and asks for the CIA’s analysis. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 38-39, July ‘04).
Responding to inquiries from Cheney’s office, the State Department, and the Defense Department, the CIA’s Directorate of Operations’ Counterproliferation Division (CPD) look for more information. They consider having Wilson return to Niger to investigate. In the process, Valerie Wilson writes a memo to a superior saying, “My husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” One of Valerie Wilson’s colleagues later tells Senate investigators she “offered up his name” for the trip. Wilson says that her agency made the decision and she only later approached her husband on the CIA’s behalf. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 39, July 2004).

February 19, 2002 – Joseph Wilson meets with officials from CIA and the State Department. According to a State Department intelligence analyst’s notes, the meeting was convened by Valerie Wilson. She later testifies that she left the meeting after introducing her husband. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 40, July ‘04).

February 26, 2002 – Wilson arrives in Niger. He concludes, after a few days of interviews, that “it was highly unlikely that anything was going on.” (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 42, July 2004).

March 5, 2002 – Wilson reports back to two CIA officers at his home. Valerie Wilson is present but does not participate. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 43, July 2004).

March 8-9, 2002 – An intelligence report of Wilson’s trip is sent through routine channels, identifying Wilson only as “a contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record.” (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 43-44, July ‘04). The CIA grades Wilson’s information as “good,” the middle of five possible grades. Cheney is not directly briefed about the report. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 46).

September 24, 2002 – The British government issues a public dossier saying, “[T]here is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” (British Govt. Report 25, Sept. ‘02). The Washington Post reports later that the CIA tried unsuccessfully to get the British to omit these claims. (“Bush, Rice blame CIA,” July 2003).
October 1, 2002 – The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) – a summary of intelligence assessments for policymakers – says “a foreign government service” reported that Niger planned to send several tons of "pure uranium" to Iraq, possibly up to 500 tons a year. “We do not know the status of this arrangement,” the NIE says, according to a later declassified version released by the White House. In the NIE, State Department intelligence officials caution that African uranium claims are “highly dubious.” (Background WMD Briefing by Senior Administration Official).

January 28, 2003 – Bush’s State of the Union Address includes this 16-word sentence: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” (Transcript of “State of the Union”).

March 7, 2003 – The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the international body that monitors nuclear proliferation – tells the UN Security Council that, after a “thorough analysis” with “concurrence of outside experts,” that the Italian documents— “which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger—are in fact not authentic.” (Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq, March 2003).

March 19, 2003 – President Bush announces the start of the Iraq war in a televised address, saying it is “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” (Bush, “Addresses the Nation”).

Spring 2003 –Valerie Wilson is in the process of moving from non-official to official, State Department cover, according to a later Vanity Fair article based on interviews with the Wilsons. (Vanity Fair, Jan. 2004).

May 2003 – Joseph Wilson begins advising the Kerry campaign on foreign policy issues. (“White House expects calls,” USA Today, Oct. 2003).

May 6, 2003 – A New York Times columnist writes the first account of Wilson’s trip, but not naming him: “I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong.” (“Missing In Action: Truth,” New York Times, Op-ed, May 2003).

June 2003 – State Department intelligence officials reportedly prepare a memo on the Niger affair mentioning Wilson’s trip to Niger and Valerie Wilson’s role in selecting her husband for the mission. The exact date is uncertain. The memo doesn’t identify Valerie Wilson or her status as a covert agent. According to one account, the memo was classified and the paragraph containing information about Valerie Wilson was marked with “(S)” to indicate that the information was classified at the “secret” level. The CIA applies this level of classification to the identities of covert officers, according to the Washington Post. (“State Dept. memo gets scrutiny,” New York Times, July 16, 2005; “Probe Centers on Rove, Memo, Phone Calls,” Bloomberg.com, July 18, 2005; “Plame’s Identity Marked as Secret,” Washington Post, July 21, 2005).

June 12, 2003 – A Washington Post article quotes an “envoy” (Wilson) as saying that the “dates were wrong and the names were wrong” on the Italian document determined to be forged by the IAEA. (“CIA Did Not Share Doubt,” Washington Post, June 2003). Wilson later tells the Senate Intelligence Committee that he may have “misspoken” to reporters, thinking he had seen the documents himself, rather than reading about them secondhand. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 44).

July 6, 2003 – Wilson publishes “What I didn’t find in Africa” in The New York Times, identifying himself for the first time as the unnamed “envoy.” He writes, “I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” Wilson does not mention that he learned there was a possibility Iraq had sought uranium during a 1999 trade meeting with Niger’s former Prime Minister.
Contrary to later statements by White House officials, Wilson does not claim that Cheney sent him on the Niger trip, only that he was sent to answer questions from Cheney’s “office.” He also doesn’t claim that Cheney was told of his findings, only that it would be “standard operating procedure” for the CIA to brief Cheney’s office on the results of his mission (Wilson, “What I didn’t find," New York Times July 6, 2003).

July 7, 2003 –Secretary of State Colin Powell, aboard Air Force One, reportedly receives a copy of the State Department memo prepared in June about the purported Niger-Iraq uranium deal, which mentions Valerie Wilson’s role in her husband’s trip, according to later media reports. (“State Dept. memo gets scrutiny" New York Times, July 2005; “Shielding Plame’s Identity,” Wall Street Journal, July 2005; “Memo Eyed in CIA Leak Probe,” AP, July 2005).

July 7, 2003 – White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer retracts the 16-word yellowcake claim from the State of the Union address, calling the President's statement “incorrect.” (White House Press Gaggle, July 7 2003).

July 8, 2003 – Columnist Robert Novak calls senior White House adviser Karl Rove, according to subsequent media accounts. Novak tells Rove he had heard that Joseph Wilson’s wife, who worked for the CIA, played a role in Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger. Rove confirms the story to Novak without mentioning Valerie Wilson’s name or covert status, saying “I heard that, too.” ("Rove Talk on C.I.A. Officer," NY Times, July 2003). Novak will later write that he originally acquired the information from an official who is “no partisan gunslinger.” Novak says, “When I called another official for confirmation, he said: ‘Oh, you know about it.’” (Novak, “CIA Leak” Chicago Sun- Times, Oct 2003).

July 11, 2003 –Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper calls Rove, who cautions him to be careful of Wilson’s story, “‘Don't get too far out on Wilson,’ he told me,” Cooper later writes. Rove tells Cooper that Wilson’s wife works for the CIA on “WMD” (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and that it was she, not Cheney or the CIA’s director, who was “responsible” for sending Wilson to Africa. “Rove never used her name and...indeed, I did not learn her name until the following week,” Cooper later recalls adding, “Rove never once indicated to me that she had any kind of covert status." Cooper says Rove ends the call saying “I've already said too much.”
Cooper also says he talked to Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, about the story. “I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replied, ‘Yeah, I've heard that too,’ or words to that effect. Like Rove, Libby never used Valerie Plame's name or indicated that her status was covert.” (Matthew Cooper, “What I told the Grand Jury,” Time, July 2005).

July 11, 2003 – Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet concedes in a statement that the State of the Union claims about Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa were a mistake and that the “16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.” (Tenet Statement, July 2003).

July 12, 2003 – Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus is told by an administration official that that White House had ignored Joseph Wilson’s 2002 trip to Niger because it was a “boondoggle” set up by his wife. (“Anonymous Sources,” Nieman Reports 27, Summer 2004). Pincus did not report his conversation because, as he would later describe, “Plame's name was never mentioned and the purpose of the disclosure did not appear to be to generate an article, but rather to undermine Wilson's report.” (“Probe Focuses on Month Before Leak,” Washington Post, October 2003).

July 14, 2003 – Robert Novak’s “Mission to Niger” column is published. This is the first published mention of Joseph Wilson’s wife’s name, her employment at the CIA, and her role in his trip to Niger. In the sixth of ten paragraphs, Novak writes, “Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.” The column does not describe her as a covert agent, then, but it does name her as “Valerie Plame” - her maiden and cover name. Novak gives conflicting accounts of whether Mrs. Wilson instigated her husband’s trip or was asked by others to do so. (Novak, “The Mission to Niger,” Chicago Sun-Times, July 2003).

July 14-17, 2003 – Newsday’s Washington bureau chief, Timothy Phelps, tells Joseph Wilson “that he had heard from the CIA that what Novak reported vis- à-vis Valerie’s employment was not incorrect,” according to Wilson’s memoir. “I declined to be drawn into a confirmation even then,” Wilson would later recall. (Wilson, Politics 348).

July 16, 2003 – Wilson speaks about Novak's column with David Corn, Washington bureau chief for the liberal magazine The Nation. According to what Corn writes on his blog at thenation.com, Wilson says, “Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career.” Corn says Wilson is still “known to friends as an energy analyst for a private firm.” (“A White House Smear,” The Nation, July 2003; Wilson, Politics 349). Corn's entry is the first instance where someone alleges publicly that the release of Valerie Plame’s name disclosed the identity of a covert agent.

July 17, 2003 – Time publishes online “A War on Wilson?” by Cooper and others, the first time Time names Mrs. Wilson. Cooper quotes, “government officials” as saying “that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched Niger [sic] to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's government had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium ore.” (Matt Cooper, “A War on Wilson?,” Time, July 2003).

July 22, 2003 – In an article headlined “Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover,” Newsday publishes a story as saying, based in part on Wilson’s assertions, that senior administration officials “violated the law and may have endangered her (Mrs. Wilson’s) career and possibly the lives of her contacts in foreign countries.” The newspaper says Wilson wouldn’t confirm that his wife was a covert agent. (“Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover,” Newsday, July 2003).

July 30, 2003 – The CIA sends a letter to the Criminal Division of the Justice Department noting “a possible violation of criminal law concerning the unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” according to a letter from the CIA’s Director of Congressional Affairs. (CIA, Letter to Rep. John Conyers).

August 21, 2003 – Wilson, speaking at a public panel discussion, said he was interested in seeing Karl Rove “frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs” after hearing from reporters that Rove had called his wife “fair game.” (Wilson, Politics 372- 4; 351).
September 16, 2003 – The CIA sends another letter to Justice requesting that the FBI undertake a criminal investigation. (Wilson, Politics 359).

September 16, 2003 – White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan dismisses the idea that Karl Rove was Novak’s anonymous source as “totally ridiculous.” (White House Press Briefing, Sept. 16, 2003).

September 29, 2003 – McClellan says he has spoken to Rove, denies that Rove was involved in the leak, and says, “If anyone in this administration was involved in it [the leak], they would no longer be in this administration.” (White House Press Briefing, Sept. 29, 2003). In a letter sent to Representative John Conyers on January 30, 2004, the CIA will confirm that its Counterespionage Section has asked the FBI to initiate an investigation. (Letter to Rep. John Conyers from the CIA).

September 30, 2003 – The Justice department publicly announces an official criminal investigation. Commenting, Bush says, “And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of” (“President discusses job creation,” U. of Chicago, Sept. 30, 2003).

September 30, 2003 – Wilson endorses Senator John Kerry for president. (“Man With an Independent Streak,” Washington Post, October 1, 2003).

December 30, 2003 – Facing allegations of bias, Attorney General Ashcroft recuses himself from the investigation and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald takes over the investigation as a special prosecutor. (“Ashcroft Recuses Self" Washington Post, 31 December 2003).

May 21, 2004 – Time's Cooper is subpoenaed for the grand jury investigation. Time says it will fight the subpoenas. (“Reporters Subpoenaed" Wash. Post, May 2004).

June 10, 2004 – Bush is asked by a reporter, “[D] o you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have [who leaked the agent's name]?” Bush replies, “Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.” (President Bush Press Conference Following G-8 Summit, Savannah, GA, June 10, 2004).

June 24, 2004 – Prosecutors question President Bush, who is not under oath, in the Oval Office for over an hour. (“Bush Interviewed" Washington Post, June 25, 2004).

August 12, 2004 – New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who did not write a story identifying Valerie Wilson, is subpoenaed by the grand jury. (“NY Times reporter subpoenaed” AP, Aug. 2004).

October 15, 2004 – Rove testifies before a federal grand jury for two hours. Fitzgerald assures Rove that he is not a target of the probe. (“Rove Testifies” Washington Post, Oct. 2004).

November 2, 2004 - Bush wins re-election.

June 27, 2005 – The Supreme Court declines to hear the appeal of Judith Miller of The New York Times and Cooper of Time, leaving standing a lower court’s ruling that they must testify to a federal grand jury. (“Reporters Lose” Washington Post, June 28, 2005).

July 1, 2005 – Over Cooper’s objections, Time Inc. turns over subpoenaed material. Time managing editor Norm Pearlstine tells CNN that journalists “regularly point a finger at people who think they're above the law,” and “I'm not comfortable being one of them myself.” (“Time Magazine” CNN.com, June 30, 2005).

July 6, 2005 – Miller, still refusing to testify before the grand jury, is jailed for contempt of court. (“’Time’ Reporter to Testify" USAToday.com, July 6, 2005). Cooper says he receives last-minute permission from his confidential source, Karl Rove, to testify. (Matthew Cooper, “What I told the Grand Jury,” Time, July 2005).

July 18, 2005 – Bush – easing off his earlier promise to fire anyone who leaked – says “if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.” (Bush Press Conference with Prime Minister of India, July 18, 2005). His press secretary Scott McClellan declines to say whether a firing would be triggered by an indictment or would require a conviction. (White House Press Briefing, July 18, 2005).

--by Kevin Collins with Jordan Grossman, Jennifer L. Ernst, Matthew Barge, Brooks Jackson

Copyright 2004 Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania

Interview with the Mayor of London: can you imagine the uproar if a U. S. Elected official spoke in such a manner?

I suppose there are references on this, but I wonder why elected officials in other countries are so free to be so candid? Can you imagine if and elected official in the U. S. Spoke in a manner that you are about to read? There would first be howls of outrage from our right-wing nut-job press, followed by demands from voters and other elected officials that the official make apologies. He would be branded as being a traitor, "hating America", of being from the "blaming America first" crowd and all of that.

I just don't get it.

Mayor blames Middle East policy

Decades of British and American intervention in the oil-rich Middle East motivated the London bombers, Ken Livingstone has suggested.

The London mayor told BBC News he had no sympathy with the bombers and he opposed all violence.
But he argued that the attacks would not have happened had Western powers left Arab nations free to decide their own affairs after World War I.
Instead, they had often supported unsavoury governments in the region.
A lot of young people see the double standards Ken Livingstone London Mayor
Mr Livingstone was asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme what he thought had motivated the bombers.
He replied: "I think you've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil. "We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't consider sympathetic."

"And I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s... the Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan. "
"They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators."
No justice?
Mr Livingstone said Western governments had been so terrified of losing their fuel supplies that they had kept intervening in the Middle East.

He argued: "If at the end of the First World War we had done what we promised the Arabs, which was to let them be free and have their own governments, and kept out of Arab affairs, and just bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control the flow of oil, I suspect this wouldn't have arisen."
He attacked double standards by Western nations, such as the initial welcome given when
Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq.

There was also the "running sore" of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
"A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy," said Mr Livingstone.
Suicide bombers
Mr Livingstone said he did not just denounce suicide bombers.
He also denounced "those governments which use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy, as we have occasionally seen with the Israeli government bombing areas from which a terrorist group will have come, irrespective of the casualties it inflicts, women, children and men".
He continued: "Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves."
Mr Livingstone also criticised parts of the media for giving too much publicity to certain figures who were "totally unrepresentative" of British Muslims.
Tourist impact
Mr Livingstone later took questions about the bombings from members of the London Assembly.
He said the unity shown by Londoners in the wake of the attacks was a commemoration to those who died and showed a determination not to give in to terrorism.
The mayor said most of the Tube would be working normally by the end of the week and the Underground should be working as before by the end of the month.
But he warned Tube users they would have to put up with the kind of disruption caused by packages left on trains which was seen during past IRA bombing campaigns.
There had been "very, very little" cancellations of existing hotel bookings and flights to London, said Mr Livingstone.
But there had been an immediate drop in new bookings for long-haul flights and hotels and a "dramatic reduction" in British people bringing children into the capital.
'Naming and shaming' hotels
Before this month's attacks, the levels of American tourists visiting London were only running at 75% of the numbers seen before the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.
One way to counter the "turn down" in tourist trade was to attract more people from the UK and other parts of Europe, said Mr Livingstone.
Mr Livingstone said he did not have information about hotels raising prices for people trying to stay in London after the attacks.
But if there was evidence of "profiteering", the Greater London Authority would "name and shame" those hotels involved and refuse to do business with them in the future, he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/20 11:12:08 GMT© BBC MMV

Evolution

The Daily Kos allows members to keep journals. I found a cool one on human evolution; this one has illustrations of what your various generation ancestor (e. g., 10^ n'th grandparent) would have looked like. To see this, go here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Some sound advice for progressives

Hillary Rosen has some sound advice for progressives in her article in The Huffington Post:

"What Noise Do We Want People to Hear?

Do people realize that the Department of Defense Authorization bill is on the Senate floor today and that it authorizes $50 BILLION more for Iraq?

Probably not, because the blogosphere and the media are consumed with two stories.

Many have said it this week -- the Rove, Libby, Plame story is just the most prominent example of how this White House repeatedly lies to gain and maintain power. This Administration has a shameful record of distortions and untruths from virtually every agency. They have done it on policy issues from the environment to the economy, from health care to education to civil rights and AIDS.

I am so confident that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has the goods on both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby that I can’t help but look beyond the day when those two resign. What will progressives talk about? What will happen to the outrage when the system finally works?
What about an alternative conspiracy theory? That Rumsfeld couldn't be happier that people are talking about Rove so he can get his bill past the Senate floor without a fight on troops, strategy, prisoners, allies, London, terrorism or anything else.

The Supreme Court is still worth fighting over. Democrats must not let John Roberts off the hook. We have every indication that he will vote to roll back significant constitutional interpretations of privacy and civil rights. And I don’t buy that it is a done deal and the media is moving on. If there is a real fight -- and there should be -- they will cover it.
But there are only eight Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. That leaves 36 Senators to talk about something else. Not to mention the House Democrats. And the progressive blogosphere which has certainly demonstrated its tremendous capacity to fight back and to break a story.

Senator Dick Durbin has it right. He convened a meeting this week with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to remind them that Democrats must have a positive agenda to put forth to the American people. Now they need to get to it. And that agenda must respond in a very tangible way to the issues about which people are losing their faith in the President.

-The war and national security. How would the Democrats do it differently if we were in charge?

Where is our alternative DOD bill? What else needs to be done to make us safer at home? (Arianna deserves credit for being the most persistent blogger about the war).

-Stem cell research. The country is with us and last summer they understood for a moment that the President wasn’t. Bring it back.

-The deficit and responsible economic policy. Pension policy and jobs are what people care about, not tax cuts.

-Healthcare. Costs are up and coverage is down and the White House is doing nothing.

-Values. The public doesn’t like the right wing take over of the government. Remember Schiavo?

The progressive blogosphere is at full tilt right now on Rove... and some on the Supreme Court. But I already sense that waning.

Will the same passion for communication exist when when the subject is about moving the country forward?? Do people even feel the same responsibility to promote a positive progressive agenda the way they do the White House crimes? Bloggers are so critical of the mainstream media often deriding its supposed inability to handle more than one or two stories at a time. Isn't that what is happening right now in the blogosphere?

If our goal is to win, we have to put some points on the board. "

Yoga: is spending money researching its benefits wasteful?

It is, according to Terence Jeffrey; view the article below. So, seeing whether a non-invasive, non-drug using activity might produce some measurable health benefits is a waste of money? That is absurd. If a rigorous study does show benefits that are comparable to those given by drugs, then everyone stands to benefit. Except for, of course, the pharmaceutical companies.


Yoga and your tax dollarsTerence Jeffrey

July 20, 2005

You might think it was a pretty good indicator the federal government was spending too much money on medical research when it started paying advocates of "alternative" medicine to study the impact of yoga on "generalized anxiety." But then you are not Sen. Arlen Specter, the liberal Republican from Pennsylvania, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for the National Institutes of Health, the federal agency that funds medical research.

Thanks to Specter, the full Appropriations Committee last week approved a record $29.4 billion in funding for NIH in fiscal 2006. That is $1.1 billion more than fiscal 2005, and $905 million more than President Bush requested.

Back in fiscal 1994, when Bill Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, the NIH spent only $10.95 billion. Since then, with Republicans controlling Congress, NIH spending has almost tripled. In 2000, when Bush first ran for president as a "compassionate conservative," he promised that by 2003 he would double NIH spending from its fiscal 1998 level of $13.6 billion. He was good to his word.

But now, like an uncontrollable malignancy, NIH won't stop growing. Explaining the new NIH-spending increase he is pushing now, Sen. Specter said: "The biggest bang for the buck in the federal budget is health-care spending."

Nonsense. NIH suffers from bloated bureaucracy syndrome, vomiting tax dollars on unnecessary projects all over the country. Congress needs to give it a full fiscal exam and then amputate the extremities.

Consider some current grants:
NIH is funding a yoga study at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). The agency calls it a "[c]ollaboration with the Center for Integrative Medicine at UCSF and the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana in India to establish the Center on Yoga, Health and Meditation." This is part of what NIH calls its effort "to establish global collaborations and cross-cultural exchange among foreign and U.S. institutions to design and implement research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches that have emerged from traditional indigenous medical systems." In other words, it is a form of foreign aid.

Congressmen who end up voting for increased NIH funding ought to explain to taxpayers in places like Nashville, Tenn., and Searchlight, Nev., why the federal government should force them to subsidize a yoga project at a University of California hospital located on the fringes of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district.

And it is not as if UCSF got the only yoga-related grant. The NIH grants database lists 15 other ongoing projects involving this specific "traditional indigenous medical system." Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, for example, is working on a five-year study entitled, "Yoga as a treatment for insomnia."

At the University of Colorado, Denver, NIH is funding a study of "Yoga for Generalized Anxiety Disorder." This is "an exploratory study assessing the feasibility and promise of studying yoga for the treatment of persons with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)."

Never heard of GAD? If the NIH abstract for this grant is correct in stating that GAD is "a chronic and debilitating condition that affects 5 percent of the general population," it is almost certain one of your neighbors or co-workers must have it. Now, your tax dollars will help researchers in Denver "test whether unique positive psychospiritual outcomes are associated with use of our yoga treatment."

Congress needs to study the "psychospiritial outcome" that paying for this kind of research has on hardworking taxpayers. My hypothesis is that more than 5 percent will get sick just reading about it.

Congress must heal itself here. It can start by putting NIH spending in perspective. The administration requested a 2006 budget of $20.3 billion in discretionary spending for the Justice Department, the agency responsible for prosecuting terrorists inside the United States. That is $9 billion less than Specter's pumped-up NIH budget. Congress, meanwhile, has a clear constitutional mandate to maintain a Justice Department, which carries out a core function of the federal government. But nothing in the Constitution authorizes Congress to fund and operate a medical research service that overlaps and often subsidizes the work of private pharmaceutical and health-care companies, not to mention those devoted to "traditional indigenous medical systems."

If Congress sends President Bush an NIH budget even more bloated than the one he proposed, he should puncture it with a veto pen. When that causes anxiety among the faculty at certain universities, and among certain members of Congress, they should lie down and do some yoga.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Roberts' nomination helps Hillary Clinton

On the news this evening, an interview with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was reported on. She said something to the effect that Roberts is brilliant, highly qualified, excellent in almost every way, but was not a woman.

My feelings on this: as an American, I was disappointed. If Roberts is confirmed, as expected, the court will be 8-1 as far as males and females. Why does this matter; after all, isn't the law, the law?

I admit to not having any legal training. But it appears to me that some of what a judge does is to see if certain "tests" are met and some of these might include, say, whether or not some action or reaction is "reasonable". And what is "reasonable" may well differ between males and females.

So, as an American, I was disappointed that we didn't get a female.

But as a Democrat, I see some possibilities. Remember that Senator Kerry lost by about 2,000,000 votes, and tens of millions of moderate Republican women voted for President Bush. I'll bet that a fair number of these are upset; perhaps they might see it is time for someone who understands.

That brings me to Senator Clinton. She has a demonstrated ability to reach across party lines and is politically savvy enough to keep the vast majority of the liberal "base"; I can't see many Kerry voters leaving her to vote for a Republican or even a Green.

President Bush can take away this effect by nominating a female for the next replacement (and Justice Rehnquist can't live forever; this kind of reminds me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail scene on the plague where they go through a town crying out "bring out your dead"; two guys haul out some old guy who exclaims "But I am not dead yet!")

So, we'll have to wait and see; but this development could well help Senator Clinton, should she decide to run for president.

Bookies place odds on Rove:

There was a time when I believed what many have said: Rove is a sleazeball, but will probably escape unscathed. The following doesn't make me feel any better (I misread this post the first time; here 4-1 odds means that if you bet on Rove being removed or stepping down, you can win 4 dollars for every dollar you bet. 1-6 odds means that if you bet 6 dollars, you can win only 1 dollar if you are right about Rove not being removed)

Odds maker sets odds on Karl Rove's future:-

WASHINGTON July 21, 2005 3:11:34 AM IST

Professional odds makers have entered the political controversy over White House aide Karl Rove, offering 4-1 odds he will be dismissed or resign.

Rove is accused of leaking the name of an uncover CIA operative to Washington reporters in 2003 to discredit an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's plans to go to war in Iraq. Deliberate outing of a CIA agent can a federal offense.

Sportsbook.com Wednesday set odds that Rove, President Bush's long-time political adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be fired or resign at 1-6.

Much of the world continues to be fixated on American political developments. So, it only makes sense to give bettors the chance to wager on the outcome of issues like the Rove scandal or yesterday's Supreme Court nomination, says Alex Czajkowski, Marketing Director, Sportsbook.com.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Republican Congressman Says We Could Destroy Mecca

This is from CNN:

Congressman suggests way to retaliate for nuclear terrorSpokesman: Tancredo was speaking hypothetically

Monday, July 18, 2005; Posted: 12:44 p.m. EDT (16:44 GMT)

"DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- A Colorado congressman told a radio show host that the U.S. could "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim fundamentalist terrorists attacked the country with nuclear weapons.

Rep. Tom Tancredo made his remarks Friday on WFLA-AM in Orlando, Florida. His spokesman stressed he was only speaking hypothetically.
Talk show host Pat Campbell asked the Littleton Republican how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.
"Well, what if you said something like -- if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.
"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.
"Yeah," Tancredo responded.
The congressman later said he was "just throwing out some ideas" and that an "ultimate threat" might have to be met with an "ultimate response."
Spokesman Will Adams said Sunday the four-term congressman doesn't support threatening holy Islamic sites but that Tancredo was grappling with the hypothetical situation of a terrorist strike deadlier than the September 11, 2001, attacks.
"We have an enemy with no uniform, no state, who looks like you and me and only emerges right before an attack. How do we go after someone like that?" Adams said.
"What is near and dear to them? They're willing to sacrifice everything in this world for the next one. What is the pressure point that would deter them from their murderous impulses?" he said.
Tancredo is known in the House for his tough stand on immigration.
Mohammad Noorzai, coordinator of the Colorado Muslim Council and a native of Afghanistan, said Tancredo's remarks were radical and unrepresentative but that people in Tancredo's position need to watch their words when it comes to sacred religious sites and texts."
Sometimes I get the impression that some of our congressmen are idiots.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Rove and the role of this scandal

What does the Rove scandal mean? Paul Krugman of the New York Times argues:
"What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern. " Here is the source; the article is reprinted at the bottom.

Daniel Schorr of the Christian Science Monitor argues that the Rove scandal is really part of something much larger: "the underlying issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war and how America was misled into that war. " Here is the source; the article is reprinted below.

Lastly, I'd like to recommend a thoughtful essay on the role of bloggers in today's political climate, which is written by Tim Saler in RedState.org. This is from a conservative point of view, but worth reading anyway.


Karl Rove's America
By PAUL KRUGMAN

John Gibson of Fox News says that Karl Rove should be given a medal. I agree: Mr. Rove should receive a medal from the American Political Science Association for his pioneering discoveries about modern American politics. The medal can, if necessary, be delivered to his prison cell.

What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.

I first realized that we were living in Karl Rove's America during the 2000 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush began saying things about Social Security privatization and tax cuts that were simply false. At first, I thought the Bush campaign was making a big mistake - that these blatant falsehoods would be condemned by prominent Republican politicians and Republican economists, especially those who had spent years building reputations as advocates of fiscal responsibility. In fact, with hardly any exceptions they lined up to praise Mr. Bush's proposals.

But the real demonstration that Mr. Rove understands American politics better than any pundit came after 9/11.

Every time I read a lament for the post-9/11 era of national unity, I wonder what people are talking about. On the issues I was watching, the Republicans' exploitation of the atrocity began while ground zero was still smoldering.

Mr. Rove has been much criticized for saying that liberals responded to the attack by wanting to offer the terrorists therapy - but what he said about conservatives, that they "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war," is equally false. What many of them actually saw was a domestic political opportunity - and none more so than Mr. Rove.

A less insightful political strategist might have hesitated right after 9/11 before using it to cast the Democrats as weak on national security. After all, there were no facts to support that accusation.

But Mr. Rove understood that the facts were irrelevant. For one thing, he knew he could count on the administration's supporters to obediently accept a changing story line. Read the before-and-after columns by pro-administration pundits about Iraq: before the war they castigated the C.I.A. for understating the threat posed by Saddam's W.M.D.; after the war they castigated the C.I.A. for exaggerating the very same threat.

Mr. Rove also understands, better than anyone else in American politics, the power of smear tactics. Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy.

And now we know just how far he was willing to go with these smear tactics: as part of the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson IV, Mr. Rove leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. I don't know whether Mr. Rove can be convicted of a crime, but there's no question that he damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason.

But what we're getting, instead, is yet another impressive demonstration that these days, truth is political. One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line. They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her (Robert Novak later identified her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame), or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower.

Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser - a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election - is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker.

Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?


Rove leak is just part of larger scandal
By Daniel Schorr
WASHINGTON Let me remind you that the underlying issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war and how America was misled into that war. In 2002 President Bush, having decided to invade Iraq, was casting about for a casus belli. The weapons of mass destruction theme was not yielding very much until a dubious Italian intelligence report, based partly on forged documents (it later turned out), provided reason to speculate that Iraq might be trying to buy so-called yellowcake uranium from the African country of Niger. It did not seem to matter that the CIA advised that the Italian information was "fragmentary and lacked detail."

Prodded by Vice President Dick Cheney and in the hope of getting more conclusive information, the CIA sent Joseph Wilson, an old Africa hand, to Niger to investigate. Mr. Wilson spent eight days talking to everyone in Niger possibly involved and came back to report no sign of an Iraqi bid for uranium and, anyway, Niger's uranium was committed to other countries for many years to come.

No news is bad news for an administration gearing up for war. Ignoring Wilson's report, Cheney talked on TV about Iraq's nuclear potential. And the president himself, in his 2003 State of the Union address no less, pronounced: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Wilson declined to maintain a discreet silence. He told various people that the president was at least mistaken, at most telling an untruth. Finally Wilson directly challenged the administration with a July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed headlined, "What I didn't find in Africa," and making clear his belief that the president deliberately manipulated intelligence in order to justify an invasion.

One can imagine the fury in the White House. We now know from the e-mail traffic of Time's correspondent Matt Cooper that five days after the op-ed appeared, he advised his bureau chief of a supersecret conversation with Karl Rove who alerted him to the fact that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and may have recommended him for the Niger assignment. Three days later, Bob Novak's column appeared giving Wilson's wife's name, Valerie Plame, and the fact she was an undercover CIA officer. Mr. Novak has yet to say, in public, whether Mr. Rove was his source. Enough is known to surmise that the leaks of Rove, or others deputized by him, amounted to retaliation against someone who had the temerity to challenge the president of the United States when he was striving to find some plausible reason for invading Iraq.

The role of Rove and associates added up to a small incident in a very large scandal - the effort to delude America into thinking it faced a threat dire enough to justify a war.

Suicide Bombers: why? How do we stop them?

We'll use some unlikely sources for this blog: The American Conservative Magazine and Pat Buchanan. We all "know" that suicide bombers are religious fanatics who have been after us from way back when, right? Well, maybe not. In a recent article, Why Are They Killing Us, Pat Buchanan writes:

"Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think," Pape tells the American Conservative in its July 18 issue (titled: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism) Indeed, the world's leader in suicide terror was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. This secular Marxist group "invented the famous suicide vest for their suicide assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in May 1991. The Palestinians got the idea of the vest from the Tamil Tigers."
But if the aim of suicide bombers is not to advance Islamism in a war of civilizations, what is its purpose? Pape's conclusion: [S]uicide-terrorist attacks are not so much driven by religion as by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide terrorist campaign – over 95 percent of all incidents – has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw. "

A bit of comic relief (bad physics pun)


I had to chuckle at this one. If you are not a regular Foxtrot reader, I'll give you one hint: Jason has an older sister named "Paige". They are always going after each other.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

GOP talking points on the Rove affair

These can be found at rawstory. Note how conservative article after conservative article parrots these. Of course, I can say I told you so.

To be fair and balanced, here are some of our talking points, courtesy of American Progressive Action.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Fighting terrorism at home: Immigration Issues vs. what to do with groups that are here legally

The London bombings have folks worked up about what to do about people who come into a country and end up terrorizing its citizens. What can (or should) we do as far as immigration policy? What can (or should) we do as far as groups that are already here?

The following (taken from a Cal Thomas article) is typical of the conservative response:

" In view of these beliefs and repeated acts of terror, the incitements against all things Western, Jewish and Christian in who knows how many mosques in Britain and the U.S., the teaching of seditious ideas in radical Islamic schools funded by our "friends" the Saudis, and the refusal of most Muslim communities to assimilate and learn the language, history and practices of their host countries, why do Britain and the United States continue to allow such things to exist within their borders? Unless we are prepared to accept continued terrorist attacks as "normal" because of some sick understanding of tolerance and pluralism, we had better do whatever is necessary to root out these radicals and to forbid any more from entering our countries."

Well, I don't think that we should welcome those who would kill us either, though I am curious how he obtains the "fact" that most Muslims don't assimilate well. Hopefully, this is not a condemnation of them not becoming Christians.

But what are the issues of dealing with people who want to immigrate here, and what are the issues of dealing with those already here (whether legally, illegally, or as citizens).

I found a good piece of writing on one of the comments to an article at Redstate.org and have received permission to post it here: (author is known as Katherina)

"This is just too important a topic for people not to talk about across the political spectrum, even if we WILL annoy each other to death.As far as the legal questions here discussed: this is based on just one semester of immigration law, one of refugee law, one semester of foreign affairs law, as well as the standard Con Law class. Some of that knowledge is fairly stale. So take it with a grain of salt.

--There is a crucial difference between immigration law, which is about whether you get to be here, and alienage law, which concerns what rights you have when you are here.

--The Courts have held that there is no right to be here. Congress and the President could end immigration legal immigration, asylum, and all the rest tomorrow should they so choose. They could also summarily deport many people who are here. It would not violate the Constitution. It would violate treaty obligations that the United States has as a matter of international law, but as a matter of domestic law, if there is a conflict between a statute and a treaty the last in time governs.

--Because no one has the right to come here and because of its deference in the area of foreign affairs, the Supreme Court has thus rejected, e.g. equal protection challenges to the differing treatment of Haitian and Cuban refugees.

--But, immigrants inside the United States, whether they are legal or illegal, do have Constitutional rights. Most of the crucial individual rights clauses in the Constitution refer to a "person" rather than a "citizen", or they speak of things that Congress and the states "shall not do" regardless of who is targeted. So people who are here, legally or illegally, have a right not be imprisoned for practicing their religion or writing newspapers, are covered by the due process clause, get all the protections of any other person if accused of a crime, etc. etc.

--So, you get a bit of a paradox: they don't have a right to stay. But, to the extent that Congress chooses to admit them, they have a right to due process to see that the laws are applied fairly to them.

--As far as the equal protection challenges within the United States goes, the Supreme Court tends to be pretty deferential to classifications made based on immigration status by Congress, but not to classifications based on immigration status by the states.

Ok, on to the matter of profiling:

--Tac, the argument that profiling is no more constitutionally problematic under the Equal Protection clause than you not getting welfare benefits and social security right now, does not pass the laugh test from a Con Law point of view. The Equal Protection clause has always been understood to apply with special force to discrimination on the basis of race and nationality. Religion too, though those cases tend to be decided on the Free Exercise clause rather than the Equal Protection clause. For over 50 years the courts have used what they call "strict scrutiny": to pass Constitutional muster, a law that treats people differently on the basis of race or national origin must be NECESSARY to protect a COMPELLING government interest.

--This was the test the court used in Korematsu, when it upheld the evacuation orders. But Korematsu is considered a shameful outlier in the Court's equal protection case law.

--It seems to me that as far as racial and crude religious profiling (all Muslims) as a counter terrorism goes, in most situations I think it passes the "compelling interest" part of the test and fails the "necessary" part of the test. Simply stopping people on the basis of their skin color is lousy, lazy police work. It might be necessary in an emergency situation like the weeks right after 9/11, but by now we ought to have better ways of profiling people based on a variety of behavioral and demographic information.

--It is dumb to rely only on profiling in security measures and wave those who don't fit the profile through, for two reasons:(1) the terrorists generally respond by recruiting those who don't fit the profile (2) it breeds resentment and alienation for Muslims to get strip searched at the airport while their neighbors are waved through. I am willing to arrive at the airport earlier so that we do not have to choose between safety and a pretty clear 14th amendment violation.(3) and, of course, profiling is not restricted to the airports. Are we going to start instituting special checkpoints for Muslims to ride the subway?

--Of course, racial profiling does in fact happen, despite Norman Mineta's opposition to it. The DOJ's guideline has been to say that profiling may be permitted in terrorism cases for national security reasons, but of course people shouldn't violate the 14th amendment. This handy little disclaimer clause means that it's pretty hard to make out a 14th amendment challenge, while probably having little if any effect in preventing conduct that violates equal protection in practice because it's so bloody vague.

So much for the legal issues. I'll discuss the moral & political aspects in another post. "

Rove, Part II


This is the character that said that after 9-11, conservatives prepared for war, whereas liberals sought out "therapy and understanding" for the perpertrators.

It appears to me that the only war Mr. Rove was preparing for was perhaps an assault on the buffet line, or perhaps the dessert cart.

Can you imagine this guy in Iraq? If he had to stay outside of an air conditioned building, he'd be frying like bacon within minutes.

Ok, enough with the cheap shots; here is some good analysis from the Washington Post:

washingtonpost.comLeak? What Leak?
By Howard KurtzWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, July 13, 2005; 8:51 AM

From the moment the Karl Rove story exploded over the weekend, I've been intensely curious as to what tack the conservatives would take.

This is a big political embarrassment, no question about it, and while Scott McClellan could try the old can't-comment-during-the-investigation (though he had earlier denied any Rove involvement during the same investigation), what would the denizens of the right do?

I tuned into O'Reilly and Hannity on Monday night, but there was no mention, none, of the Rove/Plame affair. Imagine if an e-mail had surfaced showing that a top aide to Clinton--say, Sid Blumenthal--had told a reporter about a covert CIA agent. Would those Fox shows have given the controversy a bit of air time? (Last night, O'Reilly said "some in the media are foaming" over the story but did call on Rove to "clear the air," then hosted Newt Gingrich, who attacked Joe Wilson.

Hannity said Rove "wasn't on a witchhunt" because Matt Cooper called him , and guest G. Gordon Liddy ripped Cooper and said Valerie Plame wasn't really undercover. At least the show had a liberal guest, Bill Press, who got overheated in accusing Rove of "treason" and saying he "should be marched off to prison." No trial, Bill?)

While the White House remains in lockdown mode over Rove, my first clue to the GOP defense came in a statement from RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman:
"It's disappointing that once again, so many Democrat leaders are taking their political cues from the far-left, Moveon wing of the party. The bottom line is Karl Rove was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story based on a false premise and the Democrats are engaging in blatant partisan political attacks."

So the response is that 1) the Dems are playing politics (and Rove wasn't, in dragging in Mrs. Joe Wilson?). And 2) Rove was just performing a public service by steering a reporter away from a false story (actually, Wilson was right about the bogus Niger uranium tale, and the White House was wrong).

Another tactic: Change the subject to Judy Miller, as National Review 's media blog does in critiquing a NYT piece:

"This last part of the story seems calibrated to get Miller off the hook -- if there's no crime, why is she in jail? -- while the first part is focused on all the reasons the Bush administration should now feel obligated to fire Karl Rove. The Times is going for everything it wants here -- Rove fired and Miller exonerated.

"Convenient, but it doesn't change the fact that there's more to this story -- Miller's testimony. Miller's involvement in this case is still murky, and yet the consequences could reach far if the case costs Rove his job or results in any indictments. The Times wants you to forget that it is obstructing not just the investigation of a possible crime, but the public's evaluation of whether a high-ranking public official should continue to serve.

"What is Miller hiding? Conservatives should not let the Times get away with this just because it might be bad for Rove. We can go on without Rove. We cannot go on with a press that routinely defies the rule of law in defense of a practice that turns reporters into agents for unaccountable operators who leak to serve their own interests more often than the interests of the public."
NR's Byron York , by the way, quotes Rove lawyer Donald Luskin as comparing "the contents of a July 11, 2003, internal Time e-mail written by Cooper with the wording of a story Cooper co-wrote a few days later. 'By any definition, he burned Karl Rove,' Luskin said of Cooper. 'If you read what Karl said to him and read how Cooper characterizes it in the article, he really spins it in a pretty ugly fashion to make it seem like people in the White House were affirmatively reaching out to reporters to try to get them to them to report negative information about Plame.'" In fact, says Luskin, Cooper called Rove to talk about welfare reform, then switched subjects.

Still another approach is to blame Wilson, as John Podhoretz does in the New York Post:
"There's no mistaking the purpose of this conversation between Cooper and Rove. It wasn't intended to discredit, defame or injure Wilson's wife. It was intended to throw cold water on the import, seriousness and supposedly high level of Wilson's findings.

"While some may differ on the fairness of discrediting Joseph Wilson, it sure isn't any kind of crime. . . .
"What isn't controversial is this: Karl Rove didn't "out" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent to intimidate Joe Wilson. He was dismissing Joe Wilson as a low-level has-been hack to whom nobody should pay attention. He was right then, and if he said it today, he'd still be right."
Oh, and there's the no-crime-was-committed defense. Which may be true, given the vagaries of the law. But is that the standard for service in the White House? And are these folks conveniently forgetting Bush's pledge to fire the leakers?

The Wall Street Journal editorial page also slams Wilson and defends Rove, saying: "As for the press corps, rather than calling for Mr. Rove to be fired, they ought to be grateful to him for telling the truth."

As for actual news, this New York Times lead says it all:
"President Bush offered only a stony silence today when he was asked if he planned to fire Karl Rove, a senior aide at the center of an investigation over the unmasking of an undercover C.I.A. officer."

Liberals are clearly enjoying themselves, a la Josh Marshall
"We don't know that the president knew about the decision to use Plame's work at CIA against Wilson in advance, though given the high-level working group assembled at the White House to go to war with Wilson, it's reasonable to suspect that he did. But at a minimum the president has known about this as long as the rest of us -- that is, almost exactly two years.
"And he -- unlike anyone else in the country -- had the power to call Rove into his office and ask him whether he did this or knew who did?

"Whether he knew before or after, he's known for a very long time. And pretty clearly he didn't want Rove held to any account. Indeed, he's gone to great lengths to prevent this from happening. And of course few reporters in DC have cared to press this essential point."

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann slaps around the deputy chief of staff:
"Karl Rove is a liability in the war on terror.
"Rove -- Newsweek's new article quotes the very emails -- told a Time reporter that Ambassador Joe Wilson's trip to investigate of the Niger uranium claim was at the behest of Wilson's CIA wife.
"To paraphrase Mr. Rove, liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers; conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared to ruin the career of one of the country's spies tracking terrorist efforts to gain weapons of mass destruction -- for political gain.
"Politics first, counter-terrorism second -- it's as simple as that."

The Nation's David Corn
sketches two scenarios, both of them bad for Rove:
"This e-mail demonstrates that Rove committed a firing offense. He leaked national security information as part of a fierce campaign to undermine Wilson, who had criticized the White House on the war on Iraq. Rove's overworked attorney, Robert Luskin, defends his client by arguing that Rove never revealed the name of Valerie Plame/Wilson to Cooper and that he only referred to her as Wilson's wife.

"This is not much of a defense. If Cooper or any other journalist had written that 'Wilson's wife works for the CIA'--without mentioning her name--such a disclosure could have been expected to have the same effect as if her name had been used: Valerie Wilson would have been compromised, her anti-WMD work placed at risk and national security potentially harmed. Either Rove knew that he was revealing an undercover officer to a reporter or he was identifying a CIA officer without bothering to check on her status and without considering the consequences of outing her. Take your pick: In both scenarios Rove is acting in a reckless and cavalier fashion, ignoring national security interests to score a political point against a policy foe."

The Note offers this assessment:
"This is a significant political problem for Rove and the President.
"Some Republicans with standing believe he'll have to make unClintonian accounting for his actions, and soon.

"Saying, in defense, that he didn't 'say her name' or was trying to 'wave off' Cooper is, for many, hairsplitting. It may save Rove from legal trouble, but it certainly does not get him free and clear of the political responsibility. . . .
"For the average American, it is unseemly for the president's senior adviser, using inside information, to discredit enemies of the president anonymously."

Jeff Jarvis is Not Exactly Excited by all this:
"I got email from a blog friend asking why I haven't been on top of l'affaire Rove (formerly known as l'affaire Plame) and the truth is that I just didn't keep up with all the ins and outs. The implication when people ask a blogger why he's not writing about a story is that there's a political motive: Why are you and Reynolds ignoring Rove? Confess! Apologize! Blog!
"But, in fact, it's usually just the case that the blogger simply doesn't care about the story and since a blog isn't a newspaper of record -- a blog is personal -- that's perfectly fine. I have not been a devotee of the Niger-Wilson-Plame-Miller-Cooper-Rove game of hot potato from the start. It's a pretty sleazy story of overlapping hidden agendas. I don't get my rocks off digging into scandals. And so I have not written about it. I haven't had anything worthwhile to add.
"Still, I will admit it's time to catch up. But I look at the mountain of charges and countercharges with exhaustion. Just today, I read the NY Times story about White House silence (what we used to call stonewalling) on the hit reality show Rove and the Reporters past the jump without getting a summary of what exactly is now known or acknowledged about Rove's involvement. The Times assumes that we're all keeping up on every back-and-forth like good Sisyphusean scandalmongers. I haven't been. But The Times can't edit every story for ignorant dolts like me who haven't been keeping track of a story. Newspapers try; they add background graphs into the middle of tales but in the case of a saga like Rove/Plame, it's impossible to sum it all up in a graph or two."

Slate Editor Jake Weisberg argues that journalists should sometimes expose their sources: "Can the nation's leading newspaper really find it an easy call to defy the nation's high court when faced with a ruling it doesn't like? Is corporate disobedience--which would have been a new one on Thoreau and King--really a principle the Times wants to establish?. . . .
"If someone goes off the record to offer a journalist a bribe, or threaten violence, the importance of what the source has told a reporter may simply supersede the promise to keep mum. To take an extreme example, any reporter of integrity would reveal off-the-record information about an upcoming terrorist attack or serious crime. In the Plame case, the crime under investigation consists in speaking to reporters. No plausible shield law would, or should, protect a reporter in this situation, because there's no way for a prosecutor to develop a case against a perpetrator without evidence from the recipients of the leak."

My analysis of the NYT legal strategy in the case, compared to those of other news outlets whose reporters were subpoenaed, is here.

Richard Stengel writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, sees secret sources as dangerously habit-forming: "The use of anonymous sources certainly is an important tool for journalists. I used them myself when I was a reporter. But it is a tool that is often abused and one whose value is overstated. In many ways, anonymous sources have become the crack cocaine of journalism: easy, addictive and dangerous.

"Anonymous sources should be used to level the playing field between the powerful and the powerless. In a republic, the ability of individuals to speak truth to power is the reason the framers made the press the only private institution specifically protected by the Constitution. Certainly, anonymous sources have helped change the course of history - the use of such sources contributed to the unraveling of the Watergate scandal. But more often than not these days, they have become a device to preserve and enhance power rather than question it - a tool journalists use to advance their own careers rather than the disinterested pursuit of the truth.
"In my experience, most anonymous leads were either water-cooler gossip, poison darts, or self-interested information leaked to help the agendas of officeholders. Indeed, the leak at the heart of the Valerie Plame case was a government official settling scores with Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, because Wilson questioned the administration's argument that Iraq was seeking to acquire nuclear weapons."

This, from novelist Annie Lamott on TPM Cafe, is one of the more jaw-dropping posts I've read on any blog on any subject: "Back to the paranoia: I am able to believe, about half the time, that Bush and Rove would be capable of orchestrating a second terrorist attack on America, if and when they deem it necessary to instill martial law, which they will." The phrase "over the top" doesn't quite seem to do it justice.

I've been thinking in recent days that the Huffington Post, for its all its advance hype (including from me) about celebrity blogging, has emerged as a consistently liberal site (despite contributions from a small group of conservatives). Now comes HuffPoster Richard Bradley Bradley to defend the site against criticism from Andrew Sullivan "that 'The Huffington Post is full of part-time bloggers calling for negotiating with al Qaeda, withdrawing from Iraq, and generally laying the blame for the mass murder of innocents on George Bush and Tony Blair.'
"Strong stuff. Andrew's an old friend, but this drive-by slander points up one of his intellectual lapses; though in virtually every other way an intellectually rigorous thinker, he has a longstanding habit of caricaturing liberals, taking the most extreme examples of wacky radicals and lumping them together as 'the left in America.'

"Consider this quote from a September 16, 2001 column Andrew wrote in the London Sunday Times: 'The middle part of the country -- the great red zone that voted for Bush -- is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -- and may well mount a fifth column.'

"He was referring to the war in Afghanistan, about which there wasn't a huge amount of left-wing opposition. Even if there had been, that quote happens to suggest that people who opposed the war --the 'decadent left' -- are traitors, as if one could not be a patriot and be against the war. Would the same litmus test apply to Iraq?

"Now, I can't say that I've read everything on the Huffington Post, and sure, it tilts in the liberal direction. But I don't think I've seen anyone advocate negotiating with al Qaeda. . . .
"The larger point is that Andrew's portrait of HuffPo as a loony left-wing sandbox is an intellectually dishonest trick, performed by lumping together the most extreme examples and using them to characterize the entire site."

Andrew responds: "Yes, there are some good posts on Huffington Post. In my cranky diss of the place, I cited one such by Irshad Manji. Anywhere Eugene Volokh contributes has something worthwhile in it. But even Rich B. has to concede that the place is dominated by paranoid Hollywood liberalism; and maybe it was reading guff like this, and this, and this on the day terrorists murdered dozens of Londoners that made me cranky. My claim that the blog is full of people in favor of 'withdrawing from Iraq, and generally laying the blame for the mass murder of innocents on George Bush and Tony Blair' is fully documented by those posts. As for negotiating with al Qaeda operatives, I concede hyperbole. Deepak Chopra just wants us to give them a hug."

Tom Delay: Remember Him?

Remember Tom Delay? Well, a Texas judge has ordered that a couple of operatives from his PAC stand trial for money laundering (according to the Austin American Statesman)

GOP operative should stand trial for money-launderingJudge makes first ruling in corporate cash case

Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

By Laylan Copelin
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
State District Judge Bob Perkins today said he believes two officials with Texans for a Republican Majority should stand trial on felony charges of money laundering.
The judge ruled that the state election code is constitutional and said he disagreed with arguments that the money-laundering charges had to refer to "cash" instead of a $190,000 check that the pair is accused laundering during the 2002 legislative elections.
Perkins, a Democrat who must run for office, referred to his own fundraisers: "All the funds I ever received were checks. In my opinion, funds would include checks."
Although Perkins was clear on what he thought the law was, the results of the hearing were muddled because he ruled in the case against John Colyandro, the executive director of TRMPAC, but withheld a ruling in the case against political consultant Jim Ellis, at the request of Ellis' lawyers.
Colyandro will get another pre-trial hearing July 27 but his lawyer, Joe Turner, said they would immediately be appealing this morning's ruling.
Meanwhile, Ellis will return to court Aug. 9 for another hearing before the judge rules in his case.
The follow-up hearings are required because a Travis County grand jury last week re-indicted the pair on the money laundering charges after the defense objected that the original indictment referred to a check instead of cash. The defense lawyers contend the state's money-laundering statute refers only to cash transactions.
It is the second time in as many months that a judge has found the state law constitutional, but the first time a defendant has been ordered to face trial on criminal charges arising from the use of corporate contributions during the 2002 legislative elections.
Colyandro, the political action committee's executive director, also faces trial on 13 counts of unlawfully accepting corporate donations.
During the 2002 elections, Texans for a Republican Majority, a political committee created by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, spent about $600,000 in corporate money on fundraisers and to pay for pollsters and phone banks.
State law generally prohibits spending corporate money on campaign activity, but the defendants' lawyers argue that the corporate money was not used to advocate the election or defeat of any candidates.
Last fall, a Travis County grand jury indicted Colyandro and Ellis, accusing them of laundering $190,000 in corporate donations into campaign contributions to seven GOP House candidates. The defense argued that the indictments should be set aside because money laundering is a cash-only proposition and doesn't apply to the $190,000 corporate check that is photocopied in the indictment.