Thursday, July 28, 2005

Blair faces down clueless weasel reporters

Prime Minister Blair rocks. The Baltimore Sun describes his July 26 press conference:
Prime Minister Tony Blair dismissed as "nonsense" yesterday the notion that his Iraq policy prompted London's terror bombings, as police confirmed the latest two suspects named in the attacks are legal East African immigrants, one of them a naturalized citizen.

In an often testy news conference, Blair said he wouldn't "give one inch" on Britain's deployment of troops in Iraq, despite a new poll in The Times of London finding nearly two-thirds of Britons believe that policy puts them at greater risk of attacks.
The reporters were, of course, being idiots, as this transcript shows:
Question: The problem with that answer is you do appear to be insulting the intelligence of the British people. I mean people can accept everything that you have said, and at the same time they can feel, as indeed 64% did in a Times poll today, that your involvement with George Bush in Iraq - Britain's involvement - has increased the risk of terrorist attacks like the ones which took place in London. And that is the problem. It seems to me that when you talk about this honesty of wanting to open up this argument, by setting Iraq to one side by not dealing with ...
Hmm, that's a question? That's funny, it's sounds to me like a monday morning quarterbacking by some wanker who hasn't a clue about how to fight Islamist terror but lives in a self-reinforcing BBC media bubble. Note how he cites some Times poll as proof positive that Blair is really to blame. Idiot. Blair handled it magnificently, of course. Read the whole thing.

ABC News: Sources: July 7 London Bomb Plot May Have Been Much Larger

A cautionary note: the Islamist threat in London and elsewhere is real and persistent. A new report from ABC News indicates that the original plans for the July 7 bombings may have been more comprehensive than the attacks which actually took place:
The plot for the July 7 transit bombings in London, which killed 56 people, may have been much larger than previously known, ABC News has learned.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell ABC News an additional 12 bombs and four improvised detonators were found in the trunk of a car believed to be rented by suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer. Police believe the bombers drove the car to Luton, where they boarded trains to London.

"I believe that the explosives left in that car were left there for a second strike," said Bob Ayers, a London-based terrorism consultant with expertise in demolition. "But the metropolitan police responded so quickly, they were able to get to the car and take control of the car before the second team could get the explosives and leave."

Ethicist slams decision to kill terminal patient

Ethicist slams decision to kill terminal patient: "Catholic ethicist Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini has condemned a decision to withdraw the feeding tube of Melbourne comatose patient Maria Korp.

Ms Korp - a Catholic - will have just days to live after her life support is withdrawn today. Public Advocate Julian Gardner, her legal guardian, has decided the tube should be withdrawn immediately.

Dr Tonti-Filippini told the Herald-Sun that medical evidence, from both Australia and Britain, showed that a decision to stop feeding people in Mrs Korp's condition should not be made within 12 months.

'It is far too early, on the basis of medical evidence, to have a definite prognosis,' he said. 'There is no evidence that feeding (Maria Korp) is causing any problems so the only reason for withdrawing feeding is to kill her.'

Ms Korp, 50, has been on life support in a vegetative state in the Alfred hospital since she was found in the boot of her car in February. Mr Korp will face court today in a bid to make a final visit to the wife he is accused of trying to kill.

Dr Tonti-Filippini said he fears Mr Gardner's decision might start a 'worrying trend' in treatment of people in a vegetative state.

'It is extraordinary that the official responsible for looking after disabled people is now responsible for the death of a disabled person by withdrawing ordinary and reasonable care,' he said."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The state attempts to kill another woman with kindness

I've missed this story, just catching up now: Maria Korp lies in a hospital, dying. She survived her husband's attempt on her life, but now the authorities in Australia are saying that her quality of life does not meet their high standards for continuation: Read more . . .
Joe Korp has arrived at Melbourne's The Alfred hospital to visit his dying wife, the woman he allegedly tried to kill. Korp arrived at the hospital about 1.50pm (AEST). He made his way into the hospital through a side entrance with a security guard between him and the media pack. Korp said nothing as he made his way to his wife, Maria Korp, 50, whom the state's Public Advocate has ordered not be given any food or hydration from today. Mrs Korp has been unconscious and in a vegetative state since she was found in the boot of her car in February.

Joe Korp, 48, faces a committal hearing on Monday on charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and intentionally causing serious injury. His former lover, Tania Herman, 38, was sentenced to a minimum nine years' jail last month after pleading guilty to attempted murder Mrs Korp's life support has been stopped, says a spokesman for Victoria's Public Advocate.

Artificial nutrition and hydration have been stopped and palliative care has begun. The spokesman said the support tube would not be removed, to avoid further distress to her body. Public Advocate Julian Gardner has defended the decision to allow Mrs Korp to die, saying her physical state had deteriorated significantly. Mr Gardner, who holds the task of representing the critically injured woman's best interests, said artificial feeding was not sustaining her body, and it was naturally shutting down.
These questions are not going away.

Durbin blabbed about "private" conversation

More on the Roberts-Durbin story:
Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin acknowledged yesterday that he was the source for a newspaper column that reported earlier this week that Judge John G. Roberts Jr. said he could not rule in a Supreme Court case where U.S. law might conflict with Catholic teaching.

But the Illinois Democrat maintains that the column by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley incorrectly captured the private conversation that the senator had with Judge Roberts in his Capitol office Friday.

When the column appeared Monday, Mr. Durbin's office clarified that "Judge Roberts said repeatedly that he would follow the rule of law."

The faith of John Roberts

Law professor Jonathan Turley relates an encounter between Judge Roberts and Senator Durbin:
Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person's faith and public duties).

Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
Turley disapproves of Roberts's response. Turley says that Roberts should either accept his oath to uphold the law or resign. I agree, and as Turley points out, Scalia has said similar things. However, it should be pointed out that Roberts was speaking informally and off the record. Also, the terms of the hypothetical are somewhat extreme -- nothing in the text of the Constitution or subsequent amendments are contrary to Catholic doctrine. A Catholic jurist is bound to truthfully read the civil law as a matter of upholding a sacred oath. I'm somewhat disappointed that Roberts wasn't a little quicker on his feet here.

Livin' la vida hasbeen

Ricky Martin Seeks End to Arab Stereotypes:
On his first visit to the Middle East, Ricky Martin declared he will try to change negative perceptions of Arab youth in the West.

"I promise I will become a spokesperson, if you allow me to, a spokesperson on your behalf. I will defend you and try to get rid of any stereotypes," the 33-year-old singer told youngsters from 16 mainly Arab countries at a youth conference on Monday.
You have just heard the collective sigh of relief from Arab teens all over the world, who know that the auteur behind "Livin' La Vida Loca" will defend their reputations. No word on whether he has a plan for Arab youth who are coerced into suicide bombing. Perhaps he can explain that he never intended "She Bangs" to be taken literally.

Hillary kabuki

Here's the lead paragraph for a Washington Post article on how Clinton is supposedly alienating the Left:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for an ideological cease-fire in the Democratic Party drew an angry reaction yesterday from liberal bloggers and others on the left, who accused her of siding with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in a long-running dispute over the future of the party.
Read more . . .The cost of admission to the political center has apparently dropped in recent years. Governor Clinton had to publicly repudiate hate-mongering rapper Sister Souljah. This was after years of working with the DLC. Now, apparently all you have to do is think fond thoughts of the DLC, and the Left will call you a party traitor.

Of course, all this is mere theater. Associating with the DLC will not prevent Senator Clinton from getting the Democratic nomination in 2008. And if she gets it, there's no way in hell that the Left will abandon her. Kos and know this. They are, with a wink and a nod, engaging in a kabuki dance with Clinton to give her some plausibility when she runs in '08. If she's the nominee, they'll say, "Look at these Republicans! Still calling Hillary a liberal, even though we're holding our noses while we vote for her."

Hat Tip: Is It Just Me?

No waxing enthusiastic for minors in Missouri

The Missouri Senate has passed a bill that requires parental consent for minors to get . . . . certain body waxes. Specifically, for hair removal near their private parts:
"The written informed consent of a minor's parent or legal guardian... must be obtained prior to providing body waxing on or near the genitalia."

If Blunt signs the bill -- which he's fully expected to do -- budding bikini-wearers interested in ripping the pubic hair from their nether-regions will have to convince Mom or Dad to sign off.

"That's so a child under the age of eighteen can't go in and do a complete Brazilian wax without parental consent," explains Darla Fox, executive director of the Missouri State Board of Cosmetology, which proposed the law.
Oh, that those geniuses on the Senate judiciary committee who find the abortion license to be the hallmark of civilization (Schumer, Kennedy, Specter) would explain to the American people why, in their reading, the Constitution mandates that state governments cannot keep 14 year-olds from killing unborn children over the objections of their parents, but those same governments are empowered to use their legislative powers to fight the scourge of under-age Brazilian waxes. Yet another visible example of the manifest idiocy of Roe jurisprudence.

Can I get a penumbra, sumbuddy!? Thank yuh!

Hat tip: El Borak's Myopia

Rendell aide whining over base closures NewsFlash - AP Interview: Rendell aide says Air Force 'misused' base closures: "The Air Force 'misused' this year's round of base closures by attempting to disband or move National Guard units without state input, drawing sustained criticism and two lawsuits, a senior adviser to Gov. Ed Rendell said Tuesday."

Again, recall that this same Rendell also said, "It's not the business of state government to support the war." This is a man who very much wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

The Pope's spokesman in his own words

Treefrog sends us this lovely interview with Joaquin Navarro-Walls, the Vatican spokesman. Here's a snippet:
Q: Doctor Navarro, even though you look very good for your age, you are 69 years old. Do you feel the sadness of declining?

A: "My reaction to growing old is rather one of surprise. Good grief, I say, I'm no longer capable of the great mastery in tennis that once was laughably easy. Am I perhaps out of training? No, I’m just getting old."

Q: And this doesn't make you afraid?

A: "Not at all. I look at the limitations of our culture, which experiences old age as an insult. Once the child making his first communion was dressed as an adult. Now the adults dress like children, and they are ridiculous. But the wonderful way in which the pope grew old may have been a corrective. He taught that life leads to death, but that this is not the final end of life."
It's an excellent interview, with his experiences with both popes, and many personal reminiscences. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

ABC News: Authorities Arrest Men With NYC Maps, Video

ABC News: Authorities Arrest Men With NYC Maps, Video: "Five Egyptian men with maps of the New York City subway system and video of New York landmarks have been arrested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, N.J., ABC News has learned."

Read the rest. Hat tip: In The Bullpen

Funeral crashers

Apparently Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll showed up at a Marine funeral in Indiana, PA, handed out her business cards, and informed a relative of the fallen marine that the 'gummint' (presumably the state government that she and Governor Rendell head up) was "against the war." She also conducted interviews with the press. She did not meet with the marine's wife or parents, so her claim of offering condolences to the family rings hollow. Governor Rendell went into damage control mode but only succeeded in adding insult to injury:
But even though Mr. Rendell said "our state supports the men and women who are fighting this war," he echoed Knoll's ghastly war remark: "It's not the business of state government to support the war."
This is coming from a man who sought to eliminate ballots received late (not filled out late) from service men and women fighting in Iraq. He's also fighting to keep military bases open in his state.

And he's up for re-election in 2006. 'Nuff said.

Hat tip: Moonbattery

Pope refuses to mouth idiotic platitude about Islam

WorldNetDaily: Pope won't call Islam religion of peace:
Asked by reporters whether Islam could be considered a religion of peace shortly before entering a meeting with priests and deacons of Valle d'Aosta in northwest Italy where he is spending a brief holiday, the pontiff refused to reply positively.
"I would not like to use big words to apply generic labels," he replied. "It certainly contains elements that can favor peace, it also has other elements: We must always seek the best elements."
I like this pope. There was no insult to Muslims, but no papering over the reality of Islam in the world today, either. Pope Benedict went on to urge Muslims to renounce violence, spare civilian populations, and embrace peace. How many imams have done the same?

Hat tip: Undiscovered Country

Reuters can't figure out who to root for (or against)

Top News |
Addressing Italian faithful on Sunday, Benedict deplored the "death, destruction and suffering in countries including Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Britain," and asked God to "stay the hands of assassins ... driven on by fanaticism and hate." Israel's Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Vatican ambassador to ask why the sermon had not mentioned a July 12 suicide bombing by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad that killed five Israelis.
"The Pope's omission of this incident cries out to the heavens," the ministry said in a statement.
"Aside from the moral stain implied therein, this cannot but be interpreted as a granting of legitimacy to the carrying out terrorist attacks against Jews," it said.
The Vatican issued a statement that said: "The Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) has already responded to the Israeli authorities." It gave no details of what was said.
According to the International Herald Tribune, the pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, issued a terse defense noting that Benedict had referred in his sermon to attacks in "recent days."

"It's surprising that one would have wanted to take the opportunity to distort the intentions of the Holy Father," he said. "Obviously, the other week's grave attack in Netanya referred to by Israel falls under the general and unreserved condemnation of terrorism."

I'm sorry to see Israel and the Vatican in a disagreemen. But it's funny to see that the mainstream press merely plays up the conflict (which appears minor) but can't settle on an angle, a villain, probably because it despises both Israel and the Vatican so vehemently.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Update on Akbar Ganji from the New York Sun

Havel adds his voice: "A new letter from Iranian dissident journalist Akbar Ganji, authenticated yesterday by his wife, predicts that if he dies, his death will 'water the harvest of freedom.'

Also, a former Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has joined President Bush; a former Soviet dissident, Natan Sharansky, and European Union leaders in calling for Mr. Ganji's unconditional release from prison by the Islamic Republic. This newspaper has called Mr. Ganji, who has become a symbol of the democratic opposition in his country, the Iranian Havel. He has been on a hunger strike since June 11 in protest of his detention for urging a boycott of last month's presidential election in Iran."

The Violent Bear It Away

It's official: I'm on something of a Flannery O'Connor kick. The Violent Bear It Away was her second and last novel. Gripping and sickening, it tells the story of a strong-willed, self-declared prophet in a Georgia backwater, his rationalist nephew struggling to free himself from the influence of his uncle's misguided zeal, and his reluctant successor grandnephew, all of them working out their destiny frenetically and enthusiastically, with terrifying consequences. Read more . . . .

The world of this novel is a place where familial relations exist, but appear as if in funhouse mirror images. The odd circumstance is that apparently almost everyone is someone's uncle. Prophet Mason Tarwater is schoolteacher Rayber's uncle. Rayber is, in turn the uncle of prophet-in-training Francis Tarwater, who has lived all his life with his great uncle Mason. These avuncular relationships approximate and seem to replace the paternal ones, but inadequately. And mothers qua mothers are absent entirely: women are only referred to in conversation, never seen in the actual novel, and the characters can only see the women who are mothers as whores or as confused women on a voyage of self-discovery. "Mother" is not in our characters' lexicon.

Reflecting this, the actions of the Tarwaters reveal a distorted and truncated trinitarianism, in which Father and Son are subsumed into the Spirit and vanish, leaving blind enthusiasm outside of relationship and fellow feeling. Similarly, Rayber is possessed of an impersonal drive to rational goodness, to the betterment of his fellow man. His uncle rejects him because he insists on holding all things and persons in the world in abstract judgment within his mind; both elder and younger Tarwaters refuse to let Rayber place them "inside his head," to reduce them from acting subjects to intellectual objects. Rayber paradoxically struggles to deny his natural affections for his retarded son Bishop. He seems capable of loving only in the abstract, indeed, to be following some rationalist maxim to stamp out the irrational wellsprings of love for his insufficiently gifted son.

It's powerful work. The first two parts in particular are tight and arresting leading to a tragic climax. The third part is somewhat cryptic. I have no idea how O'Connor intends us to take Francis Tarwater's resolution at the end of the novel, but that's a strength. This is a novel to be read again and again.

John Huston created a movie adaptation of O'Connor's first novel, Wise Blood, which I saw many years ago. Of directors working today, someone like Robert Duvall seems well-suited temperamentally and artistically for realizing O'Connor's terrifying and befuddling visions. However it happens, Flannery O'Connor's work deserves to be brought to life for another generation of viewers and readers.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Congress to add 2 months to Daylight Savings Time

Congress to add 2 months to Daylight Savings Time

Why? Was it broken? I vividly remember DST being maintained into the winter during the 1970's oil shortages. It was thought that money would be saved on office lighting. Of course, children who would have walked to school in the morning were now being driven because the sun had not yet risen. "Idiots!"

Thursday, July 21, 2005

More terrorist attacks in London

The butchers strike again:
Four "explosions or attempts at explosions" have hit three London Underground stations and a bus two weeks after the July 7 terror attacks, the city's police chief has said.

Thursday's small blasts came two weeks to the day after bombs on three Tube trains and a bus killed 52 people and the four bombers.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said the situation was "absolutely under control." He told reporters there had been "one confirmed casualty and that is not a fatality."
Here's hoping Tony Blair keeps his famous resolve. And here's hoping that Ken Livingstone begins to see the idiocy of statements like this.

Feminists for Life

Much has been made of Judge Roberts's wife and her work for Feminists for Life:
While Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.'s views on abortion triggered intense debate on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, there is no mistaking where his wife stands: Jane Sullivan Roberts, a lawyer, is ardently against abortion.

A Roman Catholic like her husband, Jane Roberts has been deeply involved in the antiabortion movement. She provides her name, money and professional advice to a small Washington organization — Feminists for Life of America — that offers counseling and educational programs. The group has filed legal briefs before the high court challenging the constitutionality of abortion.
It will be interesting to see if and how pro-Roe Senators inject that fact into the ensuing debate. At the fundraising level, it is certain to be an issue -- it will galvanize NARAL and others into vehemently opposing Roberts.

Feminists for Life is an excellent organization. They bring a sense of history and a holistic point of view to the women's movement for equality. They also have a college outreach program that supports young women who are pro-life in there struggles against educational bureaucracies that actively proselytize for abortion and seek to enforce ideological conformity on the issue. They are worth checking out.

Rashomon inflation

For years, nearly all objective measures have shown inflation in the U.S. to be minimal. Despite this, a persistent chorus of economists have fretted about its supposedly imminent return. Writing in Slate, Daniel Gross suggests:
Economists are supposed to be rational creatures, coolly examining numbers. Intuitively, they know that anecdotal evidence is just that. But Goldman Sachs economist Avinash Kaza suggests economists are being influenced on where they stand on inflation by where they sit - geographically, professionally, and on the income ladder. It's a variant of what Spy magazine once dubbed "personal-injury journalism," the process by which stories that directly affect editors become trend stories. Call it personal-injury economics.
Kaza set out his theory in a June 2 market comment that Barron's mentioned last weekend. The document isn't accessible to non-Goldman clients, although Kaza was kind enough to share it with Slate. In it, Kaza attributes the perception that inflation is being undermeasured to groupthink. The economists who make forecasts on inflation tend to be concentrated in and around New York; Washington, D.C.; Boston; Los Angeles; and San Francisco. They tend to be well-off and associate and work with other well-off people.
In summary, rich, urban people are seeing more inflation that others. There's something to this - I've seen a similar dynamic at work with people I know. New Yorkers and Long Islanders swear the official inflation numbers underestimate reality; others seem to agree with the prognosis.

Hat tip: Paul Boutin

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Keep abortion safe, legal, and rare -- ok, just safe and legal -- ok, just legal

2 More Women Die After Abortion Pills:
Two more California women have died after taking abortion pills, and federal drug regulators say they suspect bacterial infections as the cause. As a result, the drug's label will be changed to warn women and doctors to watch out for signs of an unusual infection that is not always accompanied by fever, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.
Five women in the United States have now died after taking abortion pills; four of them most likely suffered lethal bacterial infections, said Dr. Steven Galson, director of the agency's center for drugs.

Is war just a metaphor?

Senator Charles Schumer is ready to go to war. Is he tired of Islamofascists killing innocent men, women, and children in London, Madrid, New York, and elsewhere? Maybe, but for now, Chucky Cheese has more important things on his mind -- abortion-on-demand. Drudge reports:
Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer got busy plotting away on the cellphone aboard a Washington, DC-New York Amtrak -- plotting Democrat strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court battle.

Schumer promised a fight over whoever the President�s nominee was: "It's not about an individual judge� It's about how it affects the overall makeup of the court."

The chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was overheard on a long cellphone conversation with an unknown political ally, and the DRUDGE REPORT was there!

Schumer proudly declared: "We are contemplating how we are going to go to war over this."
We see Senator Schumer's priorities. Would that he were as vigilant about the real war as he is about the phony one (or about posing for publicity photos at airport security, reading from his version of "If I Ran the Homeland Security Zoo").

John Roberts for Justice

So we can look forward to the usual idiocy that accompanies nominations by Republican presidents: either Roberts will be an "extremist" because he has dared at some point to voice the obvious, that Roe v. Wade's Constitutional underpinnings are virtually nonexistent, or he will be derided for not being "forthcoming," for "stonewalling." Men like Senator Kennedy view judicial confirmation proceedings as the proper place to administer a de facto oath of allegiance to abortion on demand.

Ah, well, it couldn't happen to a nicer man. Stuart Buck relates Justice Scalia's comments on Roberts's temperament as a litigator:
For what it's worth: A few years ago, Justice Scalia said to a friend of mine that he and other Justices thought of John Roberts as far and away the best Supreme Court litigator in the country. I asked the friend why Justice Scalia said that, and (paraphrasing from my memory) the answer was something like this: "No matter how intense the questioning, Roberts is never flustered, and is always able to calmly answer any question whatsoever, while skillfully weaving in the substantive points that he wanted to make in the first place."
This is going to be good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - Bush to announce court choice - Jul 19, 2005

Bush to announce court choice: "President Bush will announce his pick to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court at 9 p.m. Tuesday, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan."

Akbar Ganji has been rushed to a hospital

Brave Iranian dissident dying:
With his health failing and his family barred from visiting him, officials at Iran's Evin prison sent political prisoner Akbar Ganji to Tehran's Milad hospital, a decision seen by his supporters yesterday as a last-ditch effort to save the dissident journalist's life. Mr. Ganji has ingested only sugar cubes and water as part of a hunger strike begun when he was rearrested on June 11 for urging a boycott of last month's presidential elections.

Groovy Tuesday

Rumors are flying that today is the day that President Bush will announce his nominee for Supreme Court Justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Keeping eyes peeled . . . .

Monday, July 18, 2005

Get Karl Rove

The New York Times runs with this headline: Reporter Says He First Learned of C.I.A. Operative From Rove:
Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine, said the White House senior adviser Karl Rove was the first person to tell him that the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was a C.I.A. officer, according to a first-person account in this week's issue of the magazine.
The lead paragraph gives lefties their red meat: Rove outed a C.I.A. covert agent. Reading down four paragraphs, however, gives us:
Mr. Cooper said in his article that Mr. Rove did not mention the name of Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, or say that she was a covert officer. But, he wrote: "Was it through my conversation with Rove that I learned for the first time that Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and may have been responsible for sending him? Yes. Did Rove say that she worked at the 'agency' on 'W.M.D.'? Yes.
Here are some facts we never get in the article:This isn't semantic quibbling. The law was very specifically drafted to protect undercover agents from being targeted for killing by having their cover blown without restricting important freedoms of speech and the press. It's possible that Plame was a covert agent as defined by the relevant laws; however, that is far from apparent, and if it's far from apparent to us at this late date, it was likely not apparent to Rove, who didn't even know Plame's name.

But lefties who never had any use for the CIA during the Cold War, who routinely claim that the CIA a force of evil around the world, now have the cojones call Rove "treasonous" for possibly, inadvertantly doing what they have applauded when performed by men like Phil Agee intentionally.

Ganji lies unconscious, reportedly near death

The New York Sun reports that Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji is near death in his hunger strike:
In a telephone interview from Tehran, a former political prisoner who was released temporarily from Evin prison at the end of June, Amir Abbas Fakhravar, told The New York Sun that Mr. Ganji's kidneys had failed and that he was seen yesterday by two fellow inmates in Evin's hospital wing laying unconscious on a floor as two guards tried to prop him up.

"I received word this afternoon from two inmates who saw Akbar Ganji in the prison hospital and was not moving at all. Two guards were trying to get him to walk, but he was unconscious, lying on the ground and not able to walk," Mr. Fakhravar said. "He is on the verge of dying."
Would it be too much to ask other major newspapers to cover this story? This might be melodramatic to say, but true nonetheless: a front page story in the New York Times or Washington Post could save this man's life and advance the cause of freedom in the Middle East a tiny but discernable bit.

Ah, but there are bigger fish to fry (see post later today).

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Statement on a Call for the Unconditional Releases of Akbar Ganji in Iran

The White House has issues this Statement on a Call for the Unconditional Releases of Akbar Ganji in Iran:
Akbar Ganji, an Iranian journalist who since 1999 has been routinely sentenced to prison by the Iranian government for advocating free speech, is again in jail because of his political views. Through his now month-long hunger strike, Mr. Ganji is demonstrating that he is willing to die for his right to express his opinion. President Bush is saddened by recent reports that Mr. Ganji's health has been failing and deeply concerned that the Iranian government has denied him access to his family, medical treatment, and legal representation. Mr. Ganji is sadly only one victim of a wave of repression and human rights violations engaged in by the Iranian regime. His calls for freedom deserve to be heard. His valiant efforts should not go in vain. The President calls on all supporters of human rights and freedom, and the United Nations, to take up Ganji's case and the overall human rights situation in Iran. The President also calls on the Government of Iran to release Mr. Ganji immediately and unconditionally and to allow him access to medical assistance. Mr. Ganji, please know that as you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Umm, Senators Reid and Specter -- how about somebody SMART?

The ever-reasonable David Brooks writes the common sense maxim for choosing a Supreme Court Justice: the person should be an intelligent jurist. An aside of his caught my eye:
If you can find a philosophical powerhouse who is also a member of a minority or a woman (like, say, Mary Ann Glendon), so much the better, but picking a powerhouse matters most.
This is the first time I've seen Glendon's name mentioned, but it makes me very happy to see it. She is extremely intelligent, has a reputation for courtesy and commonsense (a left-leaning acquaintence of mine worked years ago in the Harvard Law School offices and commented often on Glendon's kindness and intelligence). She would make an excellent Justice. My only regret is that she wasn't nominated 12 years ago.

Brooks goes on to extol the virtues of McConnell (who I think would make an excellent Chief Justice -- maybe Bush should wait?)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hubris in Illinois

Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Chicago ordered state health officials to spend $10 million to stem-cell research on Tuesday, an appropriation that has been repeatedly voted down by the Illinois legislature.

"'While we are forced to live in a democracy with several branches of government, sometimes in a democracy the process is frustratingly slow,' Blagojevich said."

Yes, King Rod, thank you for allowing your subjects the illusion of government by consent. But as a point of information, you are not "forced to live in a democracy." We are blessed to live in a country with an extremely liberal emmigration policy. Feel free to check into it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mark Levin's Men in Black

Read Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America today. Again, as with most polemical books, it's best to read it quickly. Unlike many of these instant bestsellers, Men in Black is informed by a passion for historical detail and context. While to some extent it's a laundry list of grievances for strict constructionist critics of the court (grievances I generally share), what leavens the reading and makes it enjoyable are thumbnail bios of select Justices through history and the historical incidents that shaped the court, such as FDR's controversial attempt to pack the court in the 30's, and the impeachment of Justice Samuel Chase in 1804.

A couple of nits: Levin dedicates a chapter to Marbury v. Madison, the landmark case that established the principle of judicial review early in the history of our country. This leaves the reader wondering whether Marbury itself is an example of judicial overreach -- a finding that Levin implies but doesn't state. While the idea that judicial activism became something that was destined to grow after Marbury has much to commend it, Levin should have pointed out that for a long time after Marbury, judicial review was quite limited. As Professor Robert Lowry Clinton has pointed out in First Things:

A limited form of judicial review was already established by 1800, but only for relatively "clear cases." Marbury did not alter this, but rather established a clear precedent for the Court’s power to disregard congressional laws in cases "of a judiciary nature"—cases in which judicial functions were threatened by application of a questionable statutory provision. Marbury established only that the judiciary would play an important role in constitutional interpretation, not that it would play the ultimate role.

This is vital for fully understanding Levin's criticism of President George W. Bush's failure to veto the McCain-Feingold law, a law which the President claimed was unconstitutional at least in part, but about which he decided to defer to the Supreme Court. Levin and Professor Clinton both see this as a dereliction of duty, brought on by a pattern of acquiescence to judicial usurpation by both the legislative and executive branches of government.

It's also not clear that Plessy v. Ferguson's infamous holding supporting "separate but equal" accommodations for whites and blacks result from judicial activism. It's an intriguing idea, but Levin doesn't really flesh out his argument. We really need to read the Fourteenth Amendment more closely and examine the arguments (revisiting Justice Harlan's dissent would also help).

Maybe I'm expecting too much from Levin here -- for a general audience, it may not be appropriate to get bogged down in hermeneutics. But even in the best of worlds, the Supreme Court does need to do hermeneutics, even if it does it well, that is, strictly and faithfully.

All that said, there is a lot to be learned from this, and I'm thankful to Levin for having written it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Blame-America Times

Abjuring easy answers, the Times offers . . . easy (politicized) answers: London Under Attack - New York Times:
That fear has already led to questions about why the British security agencies did not anticipate the attacks, why the wealthy nations have not done enough about the root causes of terrorism and why Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden continue to function after almost four years of the so-called war on terrorism. Many will wonder why the United States is mired in Iraq while Al Qaeda's leader still roams free.

There are no easy answers to these questions, just as there is no easy defense against acts of terrorism.

The implication that terrorism would go away if the U.S. just gave away more money is outrageous and offensive. The root cause of Islamic terrorism? Islamofascism, a totalitarian ideology that sees the West as weak, corrupt, and decadent, and seeks to impose Sharia upon the entire world. This is apparent to leftist writers such as Paul Berman. Why can't the Times see it? Of course, the Times uses weasel words and phrases: "Many" doubt the U.S.'s role in Iraq, they write. Why not come out and take responsibility for a position you're clearly espousing, weasels?

Times, on petard hoist

The New York Times cries big crocodile tears for Judith Miller, who went to jail to protect a source in the Valerie Plame kerfuffle. Of course, the Times was one of the noisiest voice calling for the prosecutor who has served Miller a subpoena, so perhaps it is poetic justice. The Times's lame defense boils down to a special pleading: we wanted a witch-hunt, but only if it didn't affect any of our people. They indicate that they'd happily subject Bob Novak to the same fate. Bob Novak's only punishable crime seems to be that he has the temerity to disagree with the Times's editorial board. (Since the grand jury testimony is sealed, it is impossible to know what the prosecutor demanded of Novak and what, if anything, he revealed.)

It is truly sad to see Judith Miller, a respected journalist, suffer because of the lunacy and inconsistency of her employer. Maybe she should consider changing employers.

Flannery O'Connor

Do yourself a favor, treat yourself. If you've never read The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor, read it now. If you have, read it again this summer. Read more . . . Winner of the 1971 National Book Award, these are mighty strange stories of broken people in a fallen world: hermaphrodites who proclaim themselves visible, inscrutable sign of God; physically maimed men and women, tormented by spirits and passions they can't fathom; landowners, poor whites and blacks colluding in nameless, unspeakable guilt.

O'Connor's work, at its best, made manifest and palpable abstractions such as sin and redemption. Her work shouts of a world of spirit that is larger than all our categories and schema, encountered in experience but never contained or mastered. Only through difficult and painful revelation can the Kingdom be realized. Writing about the South in the middle of the twentieth century, her work is suffused with the divisions and nuances of race and class. She was a master of the short story form, as well. You get the solid setup, the telling character detail, the punch at the end of the story. Especially good are "Parker's Back," "The Displaced Person," "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," "A Temple of the Holy Ghost," "Good Country People," "The Comforts of Home," "The Lame Shall Enter First," and the classic "A Good Man is Hard to Find." This is a wonderful anthology of work from a powerful writer. Again, do yourself a favor and read this.

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