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3/22/2007
IS EDWARDS OUT?
CATEGORY: Decision '08

Presidential candidate John Edwards cancelled the rest of his trip to Iowa following a visit to the doctor by his wife and has called a press conference for noon today to discuss his campaign.

John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat making a second bid for the presidency, announced late Wednesday night that he would hold a news conference Thursday, a day after he and his wife, Elizabeth, visited Mrs. Edwards’ doctor to assess her health following her recovery from breast cancer.

Mrs. Edwards, in a brief interview from her home in Chapel Hill, said she and Mr. Edwards would discuss her health at the news conference, but she declined to elaborate.

“I’m still here,” she said.

Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the Edwards campaign, said that she would not provide any details in advance of the press conference, which will be held in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Edwards campaign announced the news conference at the end of a day when Mr. Edwards canceled a campaign appearance to join his wife at a visit to her doctor. Mrs. Edwards was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, almost on the day that Mr. Edwards, running for vice president on the Democratic ticket with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, lost to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

This is ominous news for the Edwards family. Elizabeth faced her bout with cancer with great courage and good humor. Let us hope that if there has been a setback, it’s a minor one and that the doctors can treat it quickly.

There are a couple of options for Senator Edwards. He could put his campaign on hold, revisiting his decision in the fall. Perhaps he could even stay in the race but with a much reduced schedule. Or he could drop out entirely.

A darkhorse to begin with, I’m afraid that it would be an enormous uphill challenge for Edwards to offer himself as a viable alternative to Hillary/Obama unless he is campaigning full speed between now and next January when the primary and caucus season begins. Already starved for oxygen due to the rock star status of both the major candidates, Edwards will be hardpressed to maintain any visibility unless he is out on the stump day in and day out.

In effect, his campaign has boiled down to a must-win scenario in either Iowa or Nevada, the first two caucus states. He’s got to have some kind of momentum going into the New Hampshire primary so that a decent showing there will get him to the South Carolina primary the following week where he is expected to win. What this means in practical terms is Edwards will be forced into playing the retail voting game - shaking as many hands as possible in Iowa and Nevada while his major backers in organized labor take care of the nuts and bolts of getting his supporters to the caucus meetings.

Quite simply, he can’t do this unless he devotes most of his time between now and next January to the task. I feel pretty certain his advisors are telling him this which is why if he does make a decision about the future of his campaign today, I expect him to drop out although leaving the possibility open that he will reenter the race at a later date.

I can’t pretend to be upset if that happens. Edwards is something of a demagogue and a class warrior seeking to divide Americans and ride a wave of hate and loathing for “the rich” all the way to the White House. An economic downturn - a possibility between now and the end of the year - would have benefited him enormously. For this reason, he probably won’t close down his options entirely.

But we can certainly feel for Edwards as a husband and father. And I can speak from experience that when cancer visits a household - no matter how poor or how rich - the emotional impact on the entire family is absolutely devastating. Edwards and his three surviving children (he lost a son, Wade, in a tragic car accident) may have some rough times ahead. Let us pray that they all get through this trial and emerge healthy and happy.

UPDATE

This from the NY Times Caucus Blog:

Update from The Times’s John Broder: Mrs. Edwards, in a brief interview from her home in Chapel Hill last night, said she and Mr. Edwards would hold a news conference Thursday night about her health, but declined to elaborate. “I’m still here,” she said.

Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the campaign, said that she would not provide any details in advance of Thursday’s press conference.

We were told not to assume the worst.

I certainly hope that means that we shouldn’t assume the worst about Mrs. Edward’s health.

And this is proof Ed Morrissey is a Christian gentleman (as if we needed any more):

I’ll have the Edwards family in my prayers, and I hope you will, too. I understand what it means to have a spouse with a serious illness and how it impacts everything one does — and how one has to make that a priority. If his wife has had a recurrence of the cancer, it would be almost impossible for him to campaign effectively. Let’s hope the news isn’t quite that dire and that Elizabeth Edwards will quickly regain her health, if she has lost any ground.

I’ll have more thoughts later in the day, depending on the results of the press conference.

UPDATE

It’s bone cancer but not an aggressive variety. That’s very good news.

John Edwards said Thursday that his wife is now battling an incurable reappearance of cancer but vowed to continue his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly,” Edwards told reporters, his wife by his side.

Earlier Thursday, MSNBC.com incorrectly reported that Edwards would suspend his campaign because of his wife’s illness. The report was based on a statement an Edwards friend made to Politico.com, a political Web site, and a source who spoke to NBC.

There was a lot of confusion (as evidenced by my story above) about exactly what course Edwards would take. I feel for that fellow at Politico who totally botched it and reported that the campaign would be suspended. What this shows that even more than traditional media, bloggers are under pressure to get the news out there as quickly as possible. Even though he felt he was on pretty solid ground, there’s always the risk you’ll end up with egg on your face.

I’m sure political reporters will be watching the Edwards campaign carefully for any sign that the candidate is cutting back or slacking off. And let’s hope that Elizabeth lives a long, fruitful life.

By: Rick Moran at 5:01 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

3/21/2007
INTERNAL REFUGEE CRISIS LOOMS IN IRAQ

For all the heartening news coming out of Iraq recently, there is a humanitarian crisis that threatens to completely overwhelm the ability of the Iraqis and the world community to deal with it.

I am talking about those Iraqi citizens who have been forced from their homes - usually at gun point - and forced to flee for their lives. Most often, the refugees make their way to a relatives home in another part of the country. The problem is that many of the smaller cities and towns in western Iraq where most of the Sunni refugees have gravitated are being overwhelmed. Social services are breaking down and there is a real danger of a humanitarian catastrophe.

To date, there have been around 730,000 Iraqis internally displaced since our invasion and occupation:

About 730,000 Iraqis have fled their homes since the beginning of 2006 and are facing increasing hardship inside Iraq, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that most of the displaced were now hemmed inside the conflict-riven country.

“Reaching help and safety in neighbouring countries is becoming increasingly difficult,” Redmond told journalists.

“Many of those who have fled to other parts of Iraq have run out of resources and host communities are also struggling to absorb increasing numbers of displaced,” he added.

The UNHCR estimates that up to 50,000 people are fleeing their homes every month.

An estimated 4.0 million people in Iraq are dependent on food assistance, while the rate of chronic malnutrition among children is 23 percent, Redmond said.

We broke it. It’s our responsibility to fix it.

When 23% of the children are showing signs of chronic malnutrition, it’s time to hit the panic button. At the very least, we should be bending every effort - cajoling, pleading, begging the international community to put aside their distaste for our invasion and occupation and recognize that only with a concerted effort on the part of all can innocent lives be saved.

Of late, Prime Minister Maliki has made getting some of these refugees back into their homes a priority - especially in the formerly mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad. When the Mahdi Army ruled the streets, they routinely moved into neighborhoods and ordered all the Sunnis to leave - usually within 24 hours.

But a new program initiated by Maliki could slowly start to reverse the flood and contribute to the healing and reconciliation process so vital to the re-establishment of Iraqi civil society:

At a time of epic displacement, Fuad Khamis has done something extraordinary: He has moved back home.

“When I arrived, I was overwhelmed and frightened at the same time,” says Khamis, a Sunni Arab taxi driver from Baghdad’s religiously mixed Sadiya neighborhood.

His house was damaged and there wasn’t a piece of furniture left. But the father of five says his Shiite neighbors have welcomed him back with hugs and kisses.

Encouraged by a major security clampdown that began Feb. 13, and reassurances from his neighbors, Khamis is one of the first to test Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s recent pledge to reverse the tide of sectarian “cleansing” sweeping Baghdad and move tens of thousands of people back home.

One of the major hurdles is a lack of resources to help the displaced move back in. And there are other problems with Maliki’s program:

Maliki has taken a tough line, labeling as terrorists everyone living in homes that were taken by force and informing parliament they would be arrested.

But the U.S. military, which is to contribute 17,500 troops to the Baghdad crackdown, says its forces won’t help the government evict squatters. U.S. officials believe it is a recipe for further abuses.

“It’s a no-win situation,” says Col. Douglass S. Heckman, senior U.S. advisor to the 9th Iraqi Army Division in east Baghdad.

Acknowledging the complications, Iraq’s Cabinet on Thursday gave occupants an extra two weeks to vacate the homes of the displaced or obtain written permission to remain.

Maliki’s government does not have the means to carry out a major resettlement program. Abdul Samad Sultan, minister of migration and displacement, expects many families will go home on their own once they see it is safe. They are being offered about $200 to help with the cost of the move. Apart from that, Sultan can only offer to issue badges allowing their return to contested areas and ask their erstwhile neighbors to write letters welcoming them back.

“I think that the Iraqi people have big hearts and can forgive the past,” Sultan says. “They have seen the results of violence.”

The more than 700,000 internally displaced people does not include the nearly 2 million refugees who have fled Iraq since the invasion. Coupled with another 2 million who left under Saddam, Iraq’s neighbors - especially Syria and Jordan - are having a difficult time caring for this human flood. Conditions in the Syrian refugee camps are said to be horrible and getting worse. The United Nations is giving what help it can but with these kind of numbers involved, only the western nations working together can alleviate that kind of suffering.

But with a huge problem being barely addressed in Darfur, the idea that the world will do anything to help with the refugee problems in Iraq is a chimera. Only steadfast and bold leadership from the United States can reverse the crisis. And sadly, as in other areas, the US is found wanting in that department.

By: Rick Moran at 5:34 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

DEMS SCRAMBLING OVER WAR FUNDING BILL

With less than a day to go before a scheduled vote on funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan takes place, the House Democratic leadership is scrambling to avoid an embarrassing defeat - largely as a result of a revolt by their far left wing:

One of the Democrats’ chief designated vote counters, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), is actively working against the Iraq war spending bill. The leadership’s senior chief deputy whip, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), spoke passionately against it on the House floor. And one of the whip organization’s regional representatives, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), is implacably opposed.

The disarray in the House whipping operation ahead of tomorrow’s expected vote on the bill is putting a harsh spotlight on House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who has the task of rounding up the 218 votes needed to pass the $124 billion measure, but who has not even kept his organization in line.

“There’s only one test, and that will be whether we get 218 on the board on Thursday,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who predicted that Clyburn will come through with the votes.

The problem for the far left Democrats is that by their lights, we’re not surrendering fast enough. While the measure calls for all American combat troops out of Iraq by the end of August next year regardless of the situation on the ground, the far left is feeling the pressure from the netnuts who are agitating for an end to the war now, right now, right this minute:

But Lewis has not been silent. In a speech Monday night on the House floor, he made his case as convincingly as he could.

“As a nation, can we hear the words of Gandhi, so simple, so true — that it’s either nonviolence or nonexistence? Can we hear the words of Martin Luther King Jr., saying that we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish as fools?” Lewis asked. “Tonight, I must make it plain and clear, that as a human being, as a citizen of the world, as a citizen of America, as a member of Congress, and as an individual committed to a world at peace with itself, I will not and cannot vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war.”

That’s the spirit, Representative Lewis! Immediate and unconditional surrender. Perhaps we should start calling you “U.S. Lewis?”

The whips not only have problems with their comrades on the left, there are also quite a few Blue Dog Democrats who are uneasy about starting down the road of defunding the war while our troops are in the field:

Tanner, the Blue Dog representative on the chief deputy whip’s team, had been undecided until yesterday morning. Now that he is on board, he hastened to add that he is not about to start leaning on his Blue Dog colleagues. “I don’t ask people to vote on the leadership’s behalf, particularly on a vote like this,” he said.

Kristie Greco, a spokeswoman for Clyburn, said the Democrats’ whip organization is broad and diverse, precisely so that a few defections over policy would not affect the vote-counting operation. The days of lock-step discipline under the threat of retribution went out with the Republican majority, she said.

Spoken like a true loser, Kristie. It appears that the Democrats might try to turn their legislative defeat into a public relations triumph, highlighting their incompetence by comparing their failed efforts to whip the members into line with the Republican’s success on numerous issues. After all, does it really matter how the job gets done just as long as the desired result is achieved? The threats of retribution against recalcitrant Republicans didn’t lead to any of them defecting to the Democrats and until 2006, kept them in the majority. Of course, some of the underhanded parliamentary tricks used by the GOP House leadership helped in that regard. But the fact is, when push came to shove, the GOP whip operation almost always delivered.

Ultimately, competence in leadership is judged by how well the majority functions when confronted with the biggest issues of the day. It’s easy to get a majority for a non-binding resolution expressing opposition to the war. But when the leadership gets down to brass tacks on actually what terms of surrender they wish to offer the insurgents and al-Qaeda in Iraq, their left wing balks because we don’t drop our weapons and flee while the conservatives are wary that voting for any measure that contains a timetable may associate them with the crazies in their party.

If the Republicans were smart (a big “if”), they would allow the Democrats the honor of voting for a date certain to celebrate al-Qaeda’s victory. Otherwise, they may find themselves tarred with the same broad brush used to paint the Democrats as the defeatists they truly are.

UPDATE

According to The Victory Caucus, the Dems are buying the votes they need by spreading around some pork:

Dems’ seem to have decided that their Slow Bleed strategy (v.018) won’t actually have a chance of passing on its own merits, and so they need to play Let’s Make A Deal. In other words: find a bunch of morally confused Congresscritters who think their districts absolutely must have some nice juicy pork projects, and bring ‘em the bacon, baby!

It’s a great plan, really, except for the fact that it assumes that we’re still stuck somewhere in the 1970’s and such deals can be made in secret between chummy confederates wearing disturbingly wide-collared suits made entirely of synthetic fabrics while boogying down to Disco Inferno on the old 8-track. Turns out that here in Two-Thousand-And-Seven, such an approach works: not so much.

Why? Because of you, silly! The empowered citizen, given the ability by these wonderful Internets to actually read the actual words of the actual bills that your elected Representatives are actually planning on actually passing in your name. You can help us point the spotlight on the deals that are being made with this “emergency” spending bill. You can highlight the shady bargains being made by the Democratic leadership to help put lipstick on the pork-laden pig that this vitally important bill to fund our troops in harm’s way has become.

The guys over at VC need your help in identifying every piece of pork going into this supplemental spending bill. Go to the link above and follow their instructions.

By: Rick Moran at 7:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

POLITICIZING SCIENCE
CATEGORY: Politics, Science

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

I’ve followed along these last few years as case after case of the White House politicizing global warming data has come to light. And I’ve also written of other cases where religion and religious beliefs have colored the science that the government disseminates to the public.

But to say only one side is guilty of allowing a particular political agenda to intrude into scientific inquiry is demonstrably false and ignores the fact that both sides now are engaged in an ideological struggle that is doing enormous damage to the credibility of public science.

The taxpaying public must be reasonably certain that science being done by the government or funded with our tax dollars is above the political fray, that the conclusions reached by experts are free of partisan political taint and instead reflect empirical data discovered using the tried and true scientific method of inquiry. It should also be a given that this data should be open to full examination and criticism by other scientists, recognizing that vetting the work done in the laboratory in this manner is an important part of the scientific process.

Instead, both sides have been guilty of bending and twisting scientific observations to fit a preconcieved political construct. i.e. global warming is a crock or, from the other side, global warming will kill us all. This occurs even when new discoveries and new data either buttresses or calls into question certain conclusions.

For example, we see this phenomena when models predicting the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere are shown to be consistently off target - sometimes wildly so. For global warming skeptics, this is “proof” that climate change is a figament of the imagination. Global warming advocates simply ignore these models and point to other evidence.

Lost in the political debate is the fact that modelling is part of the scientific process and that we learn something every time scientists are wrong. Of course, this doesn’t stop global warming advocates from using other models as their own “proof” that global warming is happening and that we must radically alter our societies to combat it.

One of the most respected climate modelers, Roger A. Pielke, Sr. who is currently a Senior Research Associate at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (PAOS) and whose work has been cited by both skeptics and advocates lays out the difficulties that climate modellers and ultimately, global warming advocates face in predicting future climate change:

Humans are significantly altering the global climate, but in a variety of diverse ways beyond the radiative effect of carbon dioxide. The IPCC assessments have been too conservative in recognizing the importance of these human climate forcings as they alter regional and global climate. These assessments have also not communicated the inability of the models to accurately forecast the spread of possibilities of future climate. The forecasts, therefore, do not provide any skill in quantifying the impact of different mitigation strategies on the actual climate response that would occur.

And just recently, University of Copenhagen Professor Bjarne Andresen, an expert in thermaldynamics, made a similar point about the difficulty in assessing the rise in global temperatures:

“It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth,” said Andresen, an expert on thermodynamics. “A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate”.

He says the currently used method of determining the global temperature — and any conclusion drawn from it — is more political than scientific.

Indeed, the entire global warming debate has become so politicized that the actual science being done - good and bad - takes a back seat to how either side can use scientific conclusions to win an argument.

If this kind of politicization were going on over an issue like answering the question of whether we’ve been visited by space aliens it wouldn’t matter very much. But the ramifications of the global warming debate affect every living thing on this planet not to mention the economic well being of America and the west. And the damage being done to the cause of free scientific inquiry cannot be underestimated. In short, the credibility of science is called into question when advocates and skeptics cherry pick facts and analyses to make their case.

Beyond using science as a political weapon, advocates of global warming regularly smear those on the other side by calling into question their motives. Dismissing skeptics as tools of the oil and gas industry is also damaging to scientific inquiry - especially since it isn’t true. Criticizing their conclusions by positing alternative theories based on sound logic and scientific principles is one thing. But character assassination has become the major weapon of climate change advocates. Calling skeptics “Nazis” and worse does nothing to advance scientific debate.

And censoring the facts about global warming is just as bad. There have been many examples over the past six years where the Bush Administration has excised references to climate change from official government reports. This is unconscionable. The perpetrator of this scientific fraud was Phil Cooney, a former lobbyist for the petroleum industry who was put in charge of the Council on Environmental Quality. Mr Cooney now works for Exxon Mobil. In one instance, Mr Cooney personally edited out a key section of an Environmental Protection Agency report to Congress on the dangers of climate change. “He called it speculative musing.”

At the same time, some global warming advocates in government are crying wolf. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, claimed the Administration was muzzling him by preventing him from being interviewed about global warming by various media outlets.

The problem for Mr. Hansen is that his charges are demonstrably false:

“We have over 1,400 opportunities that you’ve availed yourself to, and yet you call it, you know, being stifled,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican.

Mr. Hansen responded: “For the sake of the taxpayers, they should be availed of my expertise. I shouldn’t be required to parrot some company line…”

Mr. Deutsch, who was 23 at the time (sic), said Mr. Hansen was prohibited from doing the interview because of his prior refusal to notify NASA officials when he was granting interviews, not for political reasons.

Citing what he called his “constitutional right” to give interviews, Mr. Hansen admitted violating NASA’s press policy but defended his actions.

Someone who gives 1400 interviews and makes the charge that he’s being muzzled with a straight face should not be taken seriously - especially since he saw fit not to denounce earlier comments he made referring to the White House as a “propaganda office,” and saying, “It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States.”

And Mr. Hansen’s political connections should raise a few eyebrows:

Mr. Hansen received a $250,000 grant from the Heinz foundation, which is controlled by Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat. Mr. Hansen was a vocal supporter of Mr. Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

“As far as I know, there’s no political connection to this award,” said Mr. Hansen, who has donated several thousand dollars to past presidential campaigns for Mr. Kerry and Mr. Gore. “It’s an environmental award.”

Uh-huh.

I doubt very much whether the collision of science and politics can be avoided when it comes to global warming - not when the solutions called for by advocates involve hundreds of billions of dollars in tax money and threaten the existence of some industries. But surely efforts can be made by both sides to lessen the impact of politics in formulating policy based on science. If not, I fear we face a future where the credibility of all science is called into question by the people footing the bill much to the detriment of both science and society at large.

By: Rick Moran at 3:25 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

3/20/2007
THE WARNING SHOT
CATEGORY: "24"

When Vice President Daniels proposed a nuclear “warning shot” to be delivered to the home country of Assad and Fayed, the shock around the table of civilians and military advisers was palpable. Could such a thing ever be contemplated?

That question was actually faced by the United States government back in the spring of 1945 as our scientists working on the Manhattan Project informed President Truman that the atomic bomb would be ready for delivery before the end of the summer. Neither Roosevelt nor his successor had faced up to the hard choice of whether or not to even use the bomb. To help him with his decision, Truman called upon a group of wise men drawn from the government, academia, and science to examine the issues surrounding the use of the atomic bomb.

It really was an extraordinary gathering of brains and experience. Called simply “The Interim Committee,” it was chaired by the Secretary of War, the brilliant Henry Stimson and included such giants as Vannever Bush, President of the Carnegie Institution, James Conant, President of Harvard, Karl Compton, President of MIT (his brother Arthur, a great scientist in his own right, was also on the Committee) as well as the head of the Manhattan Project Robert Oppenheimer.

They began to meet in May, 1945 in the greatest secrecy. The story of their deliberations was best told by Richard Rhodes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Rhodes description of the Committee’s discussions is riveting. Their deliberations ran the gamut from the ethical ramifications of using the super weapon to determining which Japanese cities to target. Originally, one of the targets was to be the city of Kyoto. But Stimson pleaded with Truman to spare the city since it was considered by the Japanese to be the most important religious and cultural center in the country.

In the end, the Committee boiled down the options to three choices:

1. Inform the Japanese of the existence of the bomb and threaten to use it unless they immediately surrendered.

2. A demonstration of the bombs destructive power at a remote location.

3. Drop the bombs on Japanese cities with no warning.

In the end, the Committee decided to use the bomb without any warning. The reasoning was that any warning given would allow the Japanese to move thousands of American POW’s into the area where the bomb would be dropped. Plus, it was felt that the psychological effect of the bomb would be lost if any advance notice was given the Japanese. The report also stated that since “we can purpose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use.”

One of the major problems with a “technical demonstration” was finding a “remote location” that the Japanese would be able to witness the explosion. And we could not be sure that the horrific nature of the bomb could be amply demonstrated unless the potential devastation could be brought home to the Japanese government.

Of course, there has been talk recently of using tactical “bunker busting” nuclear weapons on Iran’s hardened nuclear research sites. Seymour Hersh, in an article last year, wrote that the Bush Administration was seriously contemplating using the bomb for that purpose. But would we ever consider a “demonstration” or “warning shot” attack?

It would be madness. Nuclear fallout would circle the globe. And it would be impossible to find a place in Iran remote enough that a warning shot wouldn’t cause fallout to drift over Russian territory since the Russians share a long border with Iran. What do you think the reaction of Moscow would be to deadly radioactive fallout wafting over their territory? Just ask yourself what our reaction would be to such an event and you can see why using nuclear weapons against Iran for any reason would be folly.

So the warning shot scenario being played out on the show may make for good drama but only a reckless fool would actually order one in real life.

That description would seem to apply to Vice President Daniels. Not only does he want to shred the Constitution but he now wishes to risk a general war just to show that he’s not bluffing. It remains to be seen how Karen Hayes can stop the madness before it’s too late.

SUMMARY

Being treated by a medic at the scene of the carnage at the Russian Consulate, we are told that Jack has some “floating rib fragments” as a result of being kicked and punched by the Russian security guys. Whew! That’s a relief. For a moment, we thought it might have been something serious. But floating rib fragments? Bauer shrugs off injuries like that all the time. Just give him an hour or so and he’ll be right as rain, showing no ill effects of what would cause your or I to double over in pain every time we drew breath.

More to the point, Doyle tells Jack to, in effect, get lost, that he can handle things from here on out. I sense conflict coming between those two, especially since Doyle seems to be Jack Bauer without the redeeming qualities of vulnerability and just plain niceness. Jack ignores him and heads back to CTU looking to help in the hunt for Gredenko.

We learn during Bill’s conversation with Daniels that there are actually 5 of the stealth drones, more than enough to carry the three remaining suitcase nukes to their targets. But Gredenko, following his conversation with Markov before he was captured, knows that CTU is now hot on his trail and it’s only a matter of minutes before he’s discovered. He tells Fayed to forget about the other drones, that they will find a way to deliver the rest of the nukes. Fayed comes close to taking out his partner but the two obviously still need each other. Expect that to change before too much longer.

Gredenko then calls one of his accomplices and orders him to get the drone in the air. Working from a remote location, the drone pilot protests that all the evasion protocols aren’t programmed into the drone yet. Gredenko urges him to launch anyway and add the protocols when the drone is airborne.

Indeed, CTU has no trouble following the drone at first. But as Bill and the gang start to vector some F-16’s toward the drone, the track disappears from the satellite image. The drone pilot has accessed one of the CTU computers and is able to change the drone’s course to keep the satellite from finding it.

This has got to be the mother of all hacks. And once again it calls into question a counterterrorism unit that regularly has to purge moles from its ranks as well as deal with site security that is absolutely abysmal (last year’s nerve gas attack). Now we discover that they have been out-geeked by a Russian? Time for Chloe, Milo, and Morris to turn in their keys to the geek washroom if it’s true.

Speaking of Chloe, she confronts Milo and Nadia about Nadia’s use of Milo’s password to get past the security protocols put in place because she’s an Arab. Thus, Chloe becomes complicit in their felony which, judging by what happens later, was probably not a good move on her part.

Back at the White House, Daniels can’t understand why the most sophisticated satellite network on the planet lost the drone in the first place. He calls a meeting with the Joint Chiefs and his national security team to discuss military options against Fayed’s country.

Back at CTU, Jack sees Bill and offers to help going after Gredenko. Bill tells Jack to get fixed up first and that he’ll keep him informed of what’s happening. On his way to the CTU hospital, he sees Marilyn who seems to be recovering nicely from the sudden death of her husband. She makes eyes at Jack, batting her eyelashes like a teenager, coming on to our hero and telling him she “always regretted things didn’t work out between us.” Jack appears to agree but when Marilyn goes for the liplock, Jack demurs. He tells her that he was in love with someone else before he was captured by the Chinese and he would have to talk to her first.

Always the gentleman, our Jack. He feels compelled to dump needle nose Audrey before doing the nasty-nasty with Marilyn. Would that all of us men would follow his shining example.

But Marilyn has the shocker of the night. Somehow, she had heard about Jack and Audrey being an item (please don’t ask where although it is barely possible that her dead husband let slip that news sometime in the last couple of years) and was sorry to inform Jack that Audrey died in a car accident.

Jack is shocked. Not only at the news but also because none of his friends had bothered to tell him about it. He races out to confront Chloe who tells Jack that she never got around to telling him because he was going to die anyway! Jack orders her to get Audrey’s file which, despite the fact that a drone aircraft carrying a nuclear weapon is in the air heading toward an American city, she drops everything to comply with Bauer’s personal request.

What else are friends for?

Meanwhile, Vice President Daniels is breathing fire and taking names. He informs his assembled national security team that he intends to fire a nuclear “warning shot” at Fayed’s country if another nuke is detonated on American soil. Karen quite rightly raises every single logical objection to such a stupid plan including chasing the moderates out of the target government, emboldening terrorists worldwide, and the unknown reaction of Russia and China.

Daniels ignores her and is told that his warning shot will still kill 2,000 innocents and perhaps an equal number due to fallout. Chillingly, the Vice President says “I can accept that.” Glad he can because somehow I think the families and loved ones of those 4,000 condemned souls will have a little more difficulty with the accepting part of the scenario.

The Veep casually assures Karen that he’s thought it through and that in his opinion, nothing bad will happen. This proves too much for Karen who sputters that the issue is too important to rely on the judgement of one man. Looking a little peeved (and thus giving us an inkling of what might happen to Karen later) the Veep informs Karen that her objection has been noted but that his decision is final.

Back at CTU, Nadia tells Milo that she sloughed off some of her work to Morris which causes Milo to question Morris’ fitness. He wonders if he’s been tippling - giving himself some liquid courage to face the job. He asks Chloe to check.

Now you or I might sidle up to the employee in question and get close enough that we would be able to tell if they had been drinking. But you and I are not Chloe. She takes the direct approach, giving her ex-husband a passionate kiss (well, passionate for Chloe anyway) to find out if he’s been sneaking a drink. When Morris asks what that was for, instead of telling a little fib about just wanting to do it or saying that it looked like you needed it, Chloe comes right out and says “I was checking your breath,” at which point Morris speaks for all of us when he says sotto voce “Got to love this place.”

Back at the White House, Karen tries to enlist Tom in her campaign to thwart Daniel’s warning shot plan. But Tom will have none of it, saying he serves at the pleasure of the President and that the Vice President is now Acting Commander in Chief. He tells her that she better pray the President wakes up from his coma before the warning shot is launched because that’s the only way she’s going to stop it.

Back at CTU, Chloe has some disturbing news; someone is accessing a CTU computer and following their satellite tracking efforts. Thus begins the Sixth Annual Great CTU Mole Hunt.

The contestants this year? In the lead thanks to the fact that she’s an Arab and a “Mooslim” as Doyle points out rather crudely is Nadia. But Milo, who is smitten with her, defends Nadia by playing the PC card. Just because she’s a Muslim doesn’t mean she’s helping the terrorists.

But Bill is much more practical. Since she’s already been profiled by Homeland Security what better place to start than Nadia’s workstation? And Chloe, who is not politically correct when it comes to doing her job, has been comparing the computer leak info with Nadia’s workstation even while Milo was arguing against it. And what do you know but she gets a match right out of the box. And Nadia appears to be toast.

Of course, anyone familiar with the First through Fifth Annual Great CTU Mole Hunts knows full well that the traitor is never - I repeat never - caught this quickly. Suspicion will have to fall on one or two more suspects before the traitor is revealed - usually someone we least expect.

But Nadia is in deep doo-doo. CTU security grabs her and Bill orders them to take her to the most dreaded room at headquarters - that chamber of horrors, the holding room.

Now minutes away from success, Gredenko calls the drone pilot and asks for an update. We learn that the target is San Francisco and that the nuke will detonate once it reaches coordinates preprogrammed by a GPS tracking device attached to the bomb.

I could say something very, very politically incorrect about maybe perhaps serious thought should be given to accidentally on purpose sort of kind of forgetting about that drone for a few minutes and then pretending to be surprised and shocked when it went off over the most leftist city in the United States.

But I would never say anything like that. It would be wrong and besides, the politics of the people aside, it is without a doubt the most beautiful city in the country. (I guess even just thinking about it will get our lefty friends in a tizzy. But worse things were said about “Red State America” in the aftermath of the 2004 election.)

Back at the White House infirmary, the doctor tells Karen that the President is in an induced coma in order to combat some swelling in his brain. When she asks the doctor to bring the President out of it, the doctor says he’s not authorized to do so, that only a family member can give that kind of permission. (One would think the Secret Service might have something to say about it as well.) And waiting anxiously for news about her brother, Sandra Palmer is seen peering through a door into the President’s room while we know that Karen will eventually have to ask her to wake him up for the good of the country.

Back at CTU, Morris works some of his geek magic and is able to trace the signal from Nadia’s workstation back to its source. Bill gets CTU Tactical on alert while Milo goes to CTU holding where Little Ricky is having some fun with Nadia.

Is Doyle a Jack Bauer without the vulnerability and nice guy personae? I think he is. Nadia intimates that Doyle actually enjoys torturing people though where Jack approaches leg breaking with a much more utilitarian attitude - doing what’s necessary to get the job done. Another reason why I think those two will butt heads in the not too distant future.

After Milo tells Doyle that they’ve found the drone pilot’s hideout, Nadia pleads with him to believe her when she says she’s not assisting the terrorists. Milo’s silence echoes the fact that everyone else thinks she’s guilty as well.

Meanwhile, Jack is in CTU medical getting his floating rib fragments fixed up and reading Audrey’s file. The gruesome pictures of her car crash seem to be proof of her death although for a fleeting second it appears that the shade of doubt crosses his mind. Just then, Jack sees the CTU TAC guys on their way out the door. When he finds out what the mission is, he sees Bill - first confronting him with regards to not telling him about Audrey’s death (”Sorry, Jack. We were asking you to die and didn’t think it was right to tell you.”) and then begging his boss to let him go on the TAC mission. Jack tells him that Audrey died trying to save him in China and that after he’s done killing the terrorists here, he’s going to kill the people who murdered Audrey. Bill doesn’t even blink. He not only relents, he makes him point man for the operation.

Quick cut to Gredenko who checks in one more time with the drone pilot. We are told that the drone is starting its descent and that San Francisco will glow in the dark in about 3 minutes.

Jack and the TAC team make it to the pilot’s location in record time. (6 minutes by the clock from the time Jack was told he could go with the team to the scene where the TAC guys are waiting outside the building.) Making quick work of the guards, Jack shoots it out with the pilot who goes down before he can set off a grenade.

Sitting at the console, Jack tells CTU that the target is San Francisco. After patching CTU into the drone’s screen, he learns about the GPS trigger and tries to turn the plane. Just barely avoiding a stall, Jack successfully maneuvers the plane out of harms way but in the process, somehow loses control of the aircraft. Chloe helps Jack land the plane in an industrial park where the fire department shows up and, realizing there’s a nuke hazard, backs off and waits for the hazmat crew.

Back at the White House, there is great relief when the news is relayed about thwarting Gredenko’s plans. But Daniels is obsessed with sticking to his warning shot scenario. First Karen and then even Tom tries to tell him that the situation has changed and that firing the nuke is unjustified. But it’s like talking to Mr. Potato Head - the Veep is bound and determined to have his little nuclear fireworks show.

Daniels orders the sub to move into position and launch the missile.

BODY COUNT

A good night for Jack as he gets two confirmed kills and one almost certainly on the way to hell just as soon as he can torture any information about Gredenko out of the dying man. However, his bullets expended to number of kills ratio continues to plummet as it took him 6 shots to get his three Russians.

We will only count the two dead guards this week.

JACK: 13

SHOW: 386

By: Rick Moran at 10:49 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

3/18/2007
THE EAGLES AND THE VULTURES

History ended yesterday. Or at least one version of it. Or perhaps it didn’t end as much as it was overthrown, trampled by the feet of 30,000 ordinary Americans who gathered on the mall and along the broad avenues in Washington to confront those who have, either wittingly or witlessly, given aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States for more than 40 years.

The rancid ideology that has swaggered across the American landscape since Viet Nam (posturing a moral superiority they never proved nor deserved) as ordinary Americans looked on with a growing sense of outrage was quite simply, shown up - bested by an amalgam of military veterans, conservative activists, and just plain folks whose numbers shocked the media, not to mention the anti-everything protestors from the other side.

I can’t come up with anything similar that has occurred in recent American history. During World Wars I and II there were massive rallies for war bonds but that was something else entirely. This was a protest to counter defeatism and the ideology of self-loathing that has had the national stage pretty much to itself for a generation or more. And it showed that while many Americans have no doubt been disheartened and discouraged by what has been happening in Iraq these last 4 years, there is still a considerable number of us who believe it worthwhile to continue the mission in that bloody country until the Iraqis are able to secure their future free from the threat of terrorists and rogue militias.

God, how I wish I could have been there:

As war protesters marched toward Arlington Memorial Bridge en route to the Pentagon yesterday, they were flanked by long lines of military veterans and others who stood in solidarity with U.S. troops and the Bush administration’s cause in Iraq. Many booed loudly as the protesters passed, turned their backs to them or yelled, “If you don’t like America, get out!”

Several thousand vets, some of whom came by bus from New Jersey, car caravans from California or flights from Seattle or Michigan, lined the route from the bridge and down 23rd Street, waving signs such as “War There Or War Here.” Their lines snaked around the corner and down several blocks of Constitution Avenue in what organizers called the largest gathering of pro-administration counter-demonstrators since the war began four years ago.

The vets turned both sides of Constitution into a bitter, charged gantlet for the war protesters. “Jihadists!” some vets screamed. “You’re brain-dead!” Others chanted, “Workers World traitors must hang!” — a reference to the Communist newspaper. Some broke into “The Star-Spangled Banner” as war protesters sought to hand out pamphlets.

Not very elevating dialogue but the point was made. And taking into consideration what was coming from the other side, the pro troops gathering sounded positively rational:

40 years ago there was a march on the Pentagon and here we are 40 years later with a march on the Pentagon and another illegal and immoral war.

I don’t want to be marching when I’m 90 years old in 2047 in another illegal and immoral war.

Let’s stop this Bullsh*t, now!

Do you know why our countires get into these bullsh*t wars all of the time?
It’s for the corporations!

It’s for the corporations like Halliburton and Exxon and Blackwater and to make them rich.

It’s to line the pockets of George Bush and Dick Cheney and all the war criminals…

That was from Mother Sheehan, Goddess of Peace, Catalyst for the Anti-War Movement, and certifiable loon.

And speaking of the anti-war “movement,” the last couple of gatherings they’ve had have gotten progressively smaller. Is this the best they can do?

Organizers, who had predicted tens of thousands of marchers would demonstrate, gave estimates ranging from 15,000 to 30,000. Police no longer provide official estimates of crowd size but informally put it at 10,000 to 20,000, with a smaller but sizable contingent of counter-protesters.

War protest leaders said a large winter storm that hit the Northeast hurt turnout. More than 60 bus loads of protesters who had been scheduled to come from the region canceled their trips Friday night, according to Brian Becker, national coordinator for the Answer Coalition, the event’s main sponsor.

Oh yeah? I guess the weather only stops you if you’re not committed enough:

It was quickly apparent that the weather had not prevented counter-demonstrators, many in black leather motorcycle jackets, from showing up in force and surrounding all sides of the Wall.

But demonstrating in favor of war? I think that much too simplistic and I believe those who stood in the cold would agree. Showing support for the troops, their mission (which includes reconstruction and training the Iraqi army and police among other non combat elements), and yes, the war policies of the Administration were the main reasons given for the outpouring.

But even more basic than that was a desire to challenge the moral primacy of the “Blame America First” lobby whose unfettered access to and sympathy from the media these many years has made it seem as if passion and commitment were the sole province of the left and those that believe that America is usually on the side of the angels were condemned to silently endure the lies, the distortions, the outright calumnies emanating from the dirty necked galoots who fill up the streets in protest on a regular basis.

As much as it can be said that anti-war protests give aid and comfort to the enemy, the reverse should be true; that by coming out in such huge numbers, the pro troops demonstration should give heart to the Iraqi people and cause the insurgents a bit of discomfort. At the very least, it should prove to the American people that not everyone has lost hope that a positive outcome can be achieved in Iraq. Perhaps giving heart to the American people will be the lasting benefit of this “Gathering of Eagles.”

It’s certainly given me some heart. And made me proud to be an American.

UPDATE

Michelle Malkin is all over this story, of course. She was there snapping pictures and getting reaction from the participants.

But this morning, she points to the way the demonstration was portrayed in the New York Times. In short, there’s no way around it but to say that the Times lied - and not very well at that:

As they gathered before the march, the protesters met what several veterans of the antiwar movement described as an unusually large contingent of several hundred counterdemonstrators. Many were veterans in biker jackets who said they had come to protect the nearby Vietnam Memorial, citing rumors that had circulated among veterans groups that the demonstrators planned to deface it.

Crossing the bridge toward the Pentagon, the marchers met another group of about 50 counterdemonstrators by the Arlington Cemetery, one holding a sign that said: “Go to hell traitors. You dishonor our dead on hallowed ground.”

I linked above to the WaPo article that also undercounts the demonstration but at least acknowledges “several thousand” not several hundred as the Times reports.

And what about the protestors lining the route of the march to the Pentagon? Thousands of people that the New York Times decided not to count.

Non people at a non event if you’re a reader of the New York Times.

And this from John Lilyea, proprietor of the whimsically named This Ain’t Hell:

In my opinion, this Gathering of Eagles rally has done more for the healing of the wounds these veterans have been burdened with for forty years than any wall or memorial could ever. It was if they’d finally been given the opportunity to face their oppressors. There were no sorrowful stares, no sympathetic words. It was all smiles and laughter.

All of those years of anger that had been bottled up was directed against their common enemy - moral and intellectual laziness. The world had to listen to them, the citizens who had sacrificed and paid the price and came home to the disapproval of the citizens who had never spent an uncomfortable moment in their lives.

One veteran told me, “We’re here because those guys who are fighting in Iraq deserve better than what we got when we came home. No one stood up for us, but by God, we’re standing up for them. And if we don’t, who will?”

Welcome home, brothers.

By: Rick Moran at 9:13 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (25)

3/17/2007
PLAME STILL LEAVES US WONDERING
CATEGORY: Politics

Like a consummate actress, Valerie Plame knows that it’s always best to leave your audience wanting just a little bit more as you take your bows. In that respect, the former covert operative for the CIA didn’t disappoint in yesterday’s hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Indeed, in some ways, her testimony on that grand Congressional stage raised more questions about both her and her globe trotting husband than were answered during her appearance.

Plame certainly made a compelling and sympathetic witness. No matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, everyone must surely recognize that it was a personal tragedy for her to lose her covert status. And while some may wish to parse the meaning of “covert,” the fact is the CIA recognized her as such and plastering her name all over the newspapers of the world destroyed her career.

But missing from all the hoopla surrounding her appearance on Capitol Hill yesterday was the context in which this episode played out. There are two sides to this story. And while it is clear from the Libby trial that there was a concerted effort by the Administration to inform selected members of the press that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, it is much less clear that Libby, Rove, Armitage, and others knew of her covert status and deliberately tried to ruin her career.

Of course, The Narrative of the Plame Affair will not brook any deviation from the “facts” as disseminated by our leftist friends. Therefore, context is out, I’m afraid. It does no good to point out that two Congressional Committees have all but called Joe Wilson a liar. Nor does it matter that the Wilson assault on the President’s credibility was not an isolated gambit; that there was a serious and concerted effort by some in the intelligence community to at first, simply try to undermine a policy they disagreed with and ended up attempting to influence the Presidential election of 2004.

The selective leaking by these unelected bureaucrats should also be seen by all sides of the political spectrum as just plain wrong. It was a violation of their oaths as well as harmful to national security. But since The Narrative of the Plame Affair ignores this aspect of the scandal, the fiction that Evil Karl and his minions carried out the outing of Plame as some kind of covert operation unrelated to anything except their lust for power and desire to destroy their enemies endures.

And I must admit that I would be much more sanguine about the left’s outrage over the outing of Valerie Plame and any potential damage done to our intelligence capabilities if I felt there was genuine concern for these issues at work. But the fact is many of these same people crying crocodile tears for poor Valerie Plame and wringing their hands over damage done to our intelligence abilities have spent most of the last 40 years trying to either destroy the CIA outright or emasculate it.

I remember being shocked when the left cheered the turncoat Phillip Agee on in his campaign to out CIA operatives and operations in Europe and Latin America (while being assisted by the KGB and Cuban intelligence). They didn’t seem to mind “outing” people and destroying their careers back then. Ironically, Agee’s assault on the agency led to the Intelligence Identities Protection Act - the same act that no one was charged with violating in Valerie Plame’s case. That bill was opposed by two of the more brazen posturers in the Plame Affair: Senator Charles Schumer and Representative John Conyers.

So this sudden interest by the left in protecting our intelligence operatives and supporting the agency’s efforts at intelligence gathering is gratifying but suspect. One wonders as the Plame Affair recedes into memory if their new found respect and admiration for our intelligence community will be maintained or whether they will resume their previous opposition to our efforts in the intelligence field.

We’ve certainly not heard the last of Valerie Plame. There will be other Committee hearings, other venues to promote her version of history. There is a book in the works that the CIA is reviewing. And we can all look forward to a TV movie of the entire affair in the not too distant future.

I fully expect that film to portray Dick Cheney with horns and a tail and Karl Rove as a Gorgon. But who gets to play Valerie? Gwyneth Paltrow? Uma Thurman?

My dollar is on Angelina Jolie with Brad Pitt playing Joe Wilson. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe and Valerie didn’t insist on that casting decision. It would be perfectly in keeping with the low profile they’ve maintained since this imbroglio started as well as the modest way that they picture themselves.

By: Rick Moran at 10:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (22)

3/16/2007
SCANDAL HYSTERIA GRIPS THE CAPITOL
CATEGORY: Ethics, Politics

The wild eyed, drooling left has become infected. So has the button down National media. The wonks, the pundits, the mavericks, the sycophants, the toadies, the entire panoply of players, movers and shakers in Washington, D.C. have all been bitten by the scandal bug. And their reaction is shaking the foundations of the Bush presidency.

“Purgegate” - or whatever inane nomenclature with the suffix “gate” is being used these days - has, in the last 24 hours, gone from a scandal focusing on the botched firing of 8 US Attorneys, incoherently defended by the Attorney General and poorly explained by the White House to the juiciest and most dangerous dust up that the Bush Administration has yet faced.

Already it appears that Attorney General Gonzalez is, if not on his way out the door, then certainly is being handed his hat. His extraordinarily incompetent press conference - 9 minutes of stumbling, bumbling, confused and contradictory statements about who did what and when - should have been immediately followed by someone in the White House coming out and clarifying what the incoherent Gonzalez couldn’t make clear; that removing appointees who serve at the pleasure of the President for a variety of reasons is nothing for official Washington to get its panties in a twist about.

But this White House has been in denial since the election about the changed atmosphere in the capitol. Every single statement uttered by an Administration official is going under the microscope whether they like it or not. And those statements will be twisted, pulled, stretched, spindled and mutilated until the absolute worst possible light can be cast upon them. This is what Republicans did for 6 years during the Clinton Administration and it should have come as no surprise to the witless wonders in the White House that the Democrats would employ similar tactics.

Too late. It has now become impossible to inject any sanity into the rush to manufacture this crisis into something it clearly isn’t; a purge of US Attorneys to prevent the investigation of Republicans. What Democrats believed was the clearest case of such malfeasance - the removal of San Diego USA Carol Lam who was investigating Duke Cunningham and the whole rotten CIA-DoD bribery scandal - has now been shown to be much ado about nothing.

It seems that Ms. Lam was targeted for removal (according to the emails released in the last 48 hours) long before she went after Duke Cunningham!

Patterico has a timeline that shows how truly paranoid the scandal mongers are in this case:

Here is the timeline of events:

March 2, 2005: Kyle Sampson informs White House Counsel Harriet Miers that Lam is being targeted for possible dismissal. Sampson attaches a list of U.S. Attorneys, dated February 24, 2005. The names of those targeted for dismissal are stricken out. Lam’s name was stricken out, meaning she had been targeted for possible dismissal as of March 2, 2005. You can view Sampson’s March 2, 2005 e-mail at this link.

June 12, 2005 (three months later): Marcus Stern of the San Diego Union-Tribune breaks the news of the Randy Cunningham scandal: “A defense contractor with ties to Rep. Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of the congressman’s Del Mar house while the congressman, a member of the influential defense appropriations subcommittee, was supporting the contractor’s efforts to get tens of millions of dollars in contracts from the Pentagon.” View the story at this link.

Carol Lam was on a list of targeted prosecutors three months before the Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal ever broke.

And make no mistake: Lam did not investigate Cunningham before Marcus Stern’s article was published. To the contrary, Stern’s article was the only reason Cunningham was prosecuted. One of the lead prosecutors confirmed this in a 2006 interview with the American Journalism Review:

As I said, it’s too late - too late for the facts to catch up with the hysteria. The New York Times is pooh-poohing the idea that some of the USA’s were fired for not aggressively going after voting fraud cases. To the Times, voter fraud is just not important enough an issue to remove a US Attorney:

In its fumbling attempts to explain the purge of United States attorneys, the Bush administration has argued that the fired prosecutors were not aggressive enough about addressing voter fraud. It is a phony argument; there is no evidence that any of them ignored real instances of voter fraud. But more than that, it is a window on what may be a major reason for some of the firings.

In partisan Republican circles, the pursuit of voter fraud is code for suppressing the votes of minorities and poor people. By resisting pressure to crack down on “fraud,” the fired United States attorneys actually appear to have been standing up for the integrity of the election system.

I guess thousands of fake voter registration forms submitted by the highly partisan ACORN as well as other frauds perpetrated by the usual suspects at the AFL-CIO, Moveon, and other liberal advocacy groups should be allowed into the system - at least according to the Times. We wouldn’t want to disturb the moronic notion that partisan Republicans use “code” to differentiate between real people and sock puppets who would be capable of voting 5, 10, or 20 times at different polling stations. Democrats never perpetrate these kinds of frauds - just ask the dead people in any Chicago cemetery and they’ll swear on their graves that such shenanigans never take place.

It is this kind of rank paranoia that is driving this scandal. There is not one scintilla of evidence that these firings were carried out for any other reason than those stated in the emails. Carol Lam was extremely lax in prosecuting immigration scofflaws - this in one of the largest entry points for illegals coming into the United States! Why is this not a legitimate reason for kicking her incompetent ass out of office - especially since the Duke Cunningham case wasn’t even on the horizon yet?

A case can be made that the firings done under the auspices of the Patriot Act is a stupid and careless use of that power. But it is not illegal. And perhaps the Democrats (and Republicans) can look at not only that amendment, but others as well where the potential for abuse by the Executive branch is outweighed by any gain we might achieve in countering terrorism. This can be done legislatively and doesn’t need to be tossed about as an example of some deep, dark, conspiracy by the Bushies to destroy the Constitution. That also, is rank paranoia - something we’ve grown tired of over the years coming as it does from the same sources time and time again.

And this latest “revelation” regarding Karl Rove’s role in the scandal is perhaps the most hysterical of all. The netnuts all but have Rove once again frog marched out of the White House and into the pen. But for what?

A sample of what Rove is accused of:

Rove “inquired” about firing US Attorneys…

Rove “raised the idea” of firing Attorneys…

Rove “asked” the Justice Department about firing all 93 prosecutors…

Rove didn’t “approve” or “direct” or “order” anyone to fire anybody. To say otherwise (or intimate it) is a lie.

And when did The Dark Lord make these inquiries? A month ago? Two months?

Why no! It was in January, 2005 which, on most earth calendars, is about 2 months after the 2004 election. Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left explains why this is perfectly legitimate:

The travesty of the current U.S. Attorney firing scandal is not that U.S. Attorneys are being replaced. That is expected after an election, such as the one in 2004. It’s that it’s happening in 2007.

The Administration should have decided in 2004, following Bush’s re-election, which U.S. Attorneys it wanted to replace. In 2005, all U.S. Attorneys were subject to replacement. In fact, all of them are expected to submit their letters of resignation and either be retained or have their resignation letters accepted.

Paul Mirengoff sums up succinctly:

ABC News reports that about-to-be-released emails show that the “idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House adviser Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than the White House previously acknowledged.” Notice how, within a single sentence, an “idea” that apparently never got off the ground becomes a “plan.”

Whatever its source, we know that the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was rejected, and that only eight were let go. Thus, assuming that Rove did raise the idea of a mass firing, it’s not clear why this would (in ABC’s breathless phrase) “put Rove at the epicenter of the imbroglio.” Presumably, “the imbroglio” pertains to what the administration did, not to a course of action it rejected.

UPDATE: You can read the Rove-related emails (none of which was written by Rove) by following a link from the ABC News story. To summarize briefly, they show that Rove asked an aide how the Justice Department planned to proceed with the U.S. attorneys. He mentioned various possibilities, including replacing them all, without making a recommendation or commenting on their merits. The aide raised the matter with Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales’ aide. Sampson said that he would like to replace 15 to 20 percent of them — “the underperforming ones.” In the end, they replaced fewer than 10 percent.

If its a scandal you want to make of this issue, concentrate on the political pressure placed on the New Mexico USA Yglesias by Senator Domenici and others. And the aforementioned use of the Patriot Act to circumvent the advise and consent role of the Senate (pro-forma though it is in the case of approving USA’s). These actions are bad enough and should be investigated with the appropriate Congressional committees using the power of subpoena to find out exactly what happened and then recommend steps to make sure it doesn’t occur again.

But the rest of this hysterical posturing and hyperbolic feeding frenzy is all for show. And yes, I blame the White House and the Justice Department for going about their business as if Republicans still were in the majority and no one would question any action they took or any confused and muddled explanation they make to justify it.

The netnuts will flog this story for all it’s worth, driving the mainstream press to cover every revelation - trivial or important - as if the fate of the Republic were at stake. Too bad they can’t get as exercised about the jihadis and terrorists out there. Now that would be newsworthy.

By: Rick Moran at 7:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (22)

3/15/2007
SENATE REPUBLICANS STAND TALL

Senate Republicans stood united against an attempt by Democrats to undercut General Petraeus in Iraq and set a deadline for withdrawal of American troops by March of 2008 by defeating an amendment to the war appropriations bill sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid:

It took weeks for the Senate to agree to hold a formal debate on Democratic calls for a change in war policy, and by the time it occurred, the result was utterly predictable. So much so that Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is running for the White House in 2008, skipped the vote to campaign in Iowa.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky led the opposition to the measure.

“This is a dangerous piece of legislation. It is constitutionally dubious and it would authorize a scattered band of United States senators to tie the hand” of the commander in chief, he said.

McConnell said it would be “absolutely fatal” to the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada disputed that. “Five years of war, the president’s current approach in Iraq is not working. The country is closer to chaos than stability. U.S. troops are policing a civil war, not hunting and killing the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11.”

Someone should tell Harry to read the papers. He may discover that yes indeed, we are fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq (along with Sunni insurgents and Shia radicals) and that we are killing them wholesale. And while I don’t buy into the idea that “fighting them there means we don’t have to fight them here,” I think it is safe to say that killing radical jihadis hell bent on killing Americans is a damn fine thing to do while we’re in Iraq trying to bring order out of chaos and well worth our money, time, and effort.

Hell, Harry! Even Andrew Sullivan is saying good things about Iraq:

This isn’t normality; the carnage is still awful. But it’s less awful than recently. If Petraeus continues to keep this momentum going, the debate about staying in Iraq may change one more time. (Memo to self: I wonder what would have happened if a sane counter-insurgency strategy had been implemented with sufficient troops in 2003?)

Well. . . mostly good things. And Andrew mentions the 800 pound gorilla in the room for Democrats:

What happens if by some miracle (and the brilliant performance of our troops) that the political and the military situation changes dramatically for the better over the next 6-9 months?

The whole point of the surge, of course, is that the two are inexorably linked; that political progress on oil revenue sharing, reconciliation, constitutional changes, and the like is tied directly to restoring hope to the people that the government is competent enough to reasonably protect them and that the shattered body politic can start the rebuilding process only when people feel secure enough to resume some kind of normal living.

With word that the Mahdis may be willing to lay down their arms (most of them anyway) and the continued encouraging news that tribal leaders in Anbar province are fighting against Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists, at least some of the political benchmarks so beloved of the Democrats in Congress are already being met. In fact, the Democrats are in danger of codifying benchmarks that will be irrelevant by the time any Iraq legislation is passed.

It would make the Democrats look pretty silly if they demand the Iraqi government pass a law that would share the oil revenue as a the price of continued American involvement only to have that law already passed by the time the Democrats get their act together and decide exactly how they want to surrender to the jihadis.

Of course, the House is another story. The Appropriations Committee passed their timetable amendment - even though few are exactly sure how it works or can coherently explain it to the American people. And given their solid majority in the House, Democrats should be able to pass the measure. This is after giving their far left wing the opportunity to weep and wail about how the measure doesn’t go far enough and that if it were up to them, we’d be out of Iraq in 90 days. This is all the loons needed - just a little attention and the opportunity to strike a dramatic pose for their netnut fans.

The fact that any such measure is doomed in the Senate won’t matter. The House Democrats will be on record telling the insurgents and militia members who are currently in hiding to hold on for just a little while longer. Democrats are eventually coming to their rescue.

By: Rick Moran at 5:26 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

A ROSE IS A LIAR BY ANY OTHER NAME
CATEGORY: Ethics

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Pete Rose finally comes clean.

Want a sure fire way to start an argument? Ask any baseball fan if Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.

The answer will reveal a schism that has split baseball for nearly 20 years. Did Pete Rose bet on baseball? Did he bet on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds? Should he be eligible for baseball’s greatest honor? Where you stand on those questions places you on one side or the other of baseball’s great divide - a question of belief in heroes and a recognition (cynical or otherwise) of their follies and foibles.

The first of those questions was answered in Rose’s 2005 autobiography My Prison Without Bars where he finally admitted to betting on baseball after denying it for 16 years. Rose admitted he bet on baseball games not involving the team he was managing at the time, the Cincinnati Reds. What made the admission so self serving was that excerpts from the book were released on the same day that Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley were named to the Hall of Fame.

Rose had in the previous months made an application for re-instatement to the game from Commissioner Bud Selig after telling him in November, 2004 that he had in fact bet on baseball and it was widely speculated that Selig would relent and allow the most prolific hitter of all time back into the game and thus make him eligible for the Hall.

But Selig never even responded to Rose’s petition. And now, two years later in an interview on ESPN radio, Rose has finally revealed what Major League Baseball and most fans have known for nearly two decades; that despite his numerous and vociferous denials, Pete Rose as manager of the Cincinnati Reds placed illegal bets on his own team:

“I bet on my team every night,” said Rose, 65. “I didn’t bet on my team four nights a week … I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believe in my team.

“I did everything in my power every night to win that game.”

In truth, the question of Rose’s guilt has never been in doubt. The evidence against him was overwhelming: Betting slips in his handwriting, testimony from bookies, and 113 witnesses tell the sad story of a man deep into an addiction to gambling. But Rose was adamant. As late as 1999, Rose was casting aspersions on the individual who compiled the report for Major League Baseball, John Dowd, and denying that he had a gambling problem at all.

He had his defenders down through the years. People like Hall of Fame team mates Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench, as well as the great Phillies 3rd baseman Mike Schmidt. And Cincinnati fans have almost universally given him their continued love and support. And there has been a large, vocal segment of the sporting press who insist that even if Rose did bet on his own team, his sins are no greater than most other Hall of Famers who have been revealed by historical research to have less than stellar characters.

The question of whether the outcome of a game would have been affected if Rose had bet on his own team is a tricky one.

While no one has ever documented Rose ever bet against the Reds—which he has denied consistently—or manipulated the outcome of any games, it long has been speculated he managed games differently when he was betting on the Reds to win. He might exhaust his bullpen trying to win them while trusting a failing starter a little longer when he didn’t have a bet down, for instance.

Indeed, in a 162 game season, managerial decisions are sometimes made taking into consideration the schedule, the opponent, who the likely starting pitchers for the opposition will be for the remainder of a series, and a whole host of factors that make the winning or losing of one game somewhat less important than it would ordinarily be.

As an example, suppose a manager is looking at a stretch of 9 games in 9 days. In the early part of that stretch, he might be less willing to go to the bullpen and yank a starter who is having difficulty so that his bullpen will stay fresh down the road.

But suppose you have a large bet on the outcome of that game? Playing that game as if it were the 7th game of the World Series and using up your bullpen so as not to lose the bet is, in a very real way, as dishonest as betting against your team in the first place. Either way, you are not managing to win in order to advance the fortunes of your team but rather to simply make good on your bet. It goes to the heart of the integrity of the game and cannot be excused nor countenanced.

Also, although it has never been proven, Jim Dowd told the New York Post that he believes it very possible Rose did bet against the Reds on occasion:

In an earlier interview with the New York Post, Dowd said his research showed Rose did not bet on the Reds whenever two pitchers (one of whom was Mario Soto) started. Dowd said that “sent a message through the gambling community that the Reds can’t win.”

Dowd also told the Post his investigation was “close” to showing Rose bet against the Reds. The report says “no evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Cincinnati Reds,” but Dowd told the Post he might have been able to prove that if he had not faced time constraints.

Dowd later backtracked on those comments.

“I was never able to tie it down,” Dowd told the Associated Press. “It was unreliable, and that’s why I didn’t include it in the report.

Why that issue should be resurrected goes directly to the credibility of Pete Rose who for 18 years denied he bet on his own team and who vilified those who said he did. In short, Rose cannot be trusted. No one believes him anymore.

One of this country’s finest writers, James Reston, showed in Collision at Home Plate that Rose was a brutish lout - a swaggering, gum chewing, loudmouthed, arrogant SOB who thought his personality and personae were larger than the game itself. He was opposed by the Commissioner of Baseball, the diminutive (and just as arrogant) but refined and cultured former President of Yale University Bart Giamatti who Reston shows was so shaken by the Rose ordeal that he died of a massive heart attack 8 days after banning him from baseball forever. Of that confrontation, Reston wrote “The Rose case elevated (Giamatti) to heroic stature in America. By banishing a sport hero, he became a moral hero to the nation.”

And Rose? Here we are 18 years later and one can only speculate about the reason he has decided to finally come clean. At age 65, he may feel that his opportunities to put on a uniform and manage or coach a team are waning and that a full confession may finally melt the heart of Bud Selig, giving him a final chance to share in the glory of the game. And re-instatement will also make him eligible for the Hall of Fame.

But I think something more calculating is at work here. By resurrecting the scandal at the same time that Barry Bonds, the steroid tainted slugger, goes for baseballs most hallowed of all hallowed records - the career home run mark - Rose’s transgressions can be seen in a little different context. Perhaps betting on baseball doesn’t look so bad when one considers that Bonds, poster boy for an era in professional baseball that has called into question the integrity of records as a result of performance enhancing substances, will have questions swirling about him as he assaults Hank Aaron’s record of 754 career home runs.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet on it.

By: Rick Moran at 1:25 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)