3 posts: (1) "Scalito": 43 Does a Roberts II--The Home Front; (2) Federal Shield Law: Protecting What?--The Home Front; (3) The Indictment: Plame-Out Flame-Out--The Home Front. Enjoy All Hallow's Eve.
President Bush's nomination of federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito is a "three-fer" grand slam: (1) nominating a certified judicial superstar--with more judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in over 70 years (some 3,500 cases & 300 written opinions)--blows the "competence" issue out of the water; (2) nominating a white male rejects the automatic gender succession rule that picking Harriet Miers had been a genuflection towards; (3) nominating a judge called a Scalia near-clone to replace swing-vote Sandra positions 43 for precisely the Court-changing fight his base has long sought. In effect, the war over interpretation of the federal Constitution started by Senate Democrats in 1987 when they deep-sixed Robert Bork comes now to a climactic battle for the future of the federal judiciary and its role in society. Had 43 avoided it yet again he would again have faced revolt from his base; instead he faces assault by his adversaries. Smart choice.
Harry Reid, happy with HM, is aghast at Alito. What a nice touch in Alito's nomination acceptance speech, thanking Sandra for asking him a softball question (rarely tossed from the Supreme Bench) during his (Alito's) first appearance arguing a case before the Court. Fun, too will be citing Democratic Senatorial statements when Alito was unanimously confirmed in 1990, such as New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg offering fulsome praise for New Jersey resident Alito--"the kind of judge the public deserves." As I write this Senator John Cornyn is telling Fox Cable that super-lib attack-dog group People for the American Way has already issued what the Senator calls a fatwa against Alito. Revel in the upcoming Senatorial Battle Royal!
Stuart Karle, the Wall Street Journal's general counsel, presses in the 10/30 Opinion Journal edition for passage of a federal shield law so that reporters cannot be haled before grand juries for pursuing a story. One way to parse classes of ideas is into bad ideas, awful ideas and worse than awful. Shield laws for reporters fall into the "worse than awful" group. Such laws are based on the fiction that reports merely report and analyze. In reality reporters are political players, many of whom seek to advance a political agenda by their reportage. Jed Babbin reports on TAS Online that CBS reporter Lesley Stahl gave the game away when she appeared on the Comedy Channel, no less--yes, the Comedy Channel--and said of Wilson/Plame that it "could possibly take off the way Watergate did." Newsweek's Howard Fineman said on 10/19 that if Fitzgerald destroys the Bush Administration, which "rose to power on the strength of a disciplined, aggressive, leak-proof spin machine" it would be "poetic justice."
Equally bad, as former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy notes in the 10/24 NRO, two of the three reporters made to testify before the grand jury, Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine, told the public who their sources were, upon having testified to the grand jury. As grand jury minutes are secret, they need not have done so; they did so to harm their source--Scooter Libby in Miller's case, Karl Rove in Cooper's. Only Robert Novak, the original leaker, as kept public silence. Yet MSM lionizes Miller and Cooper and ignores Novak, because Novak has not deliberately tried to harm 43's Administration. The 10/25 NY Sun reports that attorneys watching the case say that Miller's troubles with her own paper may undermine her credibility as a witness--more evidence that she is a player, not an observer reporting on events.
Wilson/Plame is a classic example: Based upon the accusations of a self-promoting liar MSM carried on a two-year jihad against an Administration they detest, and their crusade was rewarded this week with the indictment of Cheney aide Scooter Libby. Even when a Senate Intelligence Committee report proved Joe Wilson unworthy of belief, MSM kept its eyes on their quarry: 43. Without the political firestorm manufactured by MSM, there would have been no pressure for 43 to appoint a special counsel, and no special counsel inquiry. MSM desires to be a political player? Fine. But give them no more protection against grand jury process than anyone else has.
Karle: In Defense of a Press Shield Law
Babbin: Media Want Another Watergate
McCarthy: Reports Leaked Their Sources to the Public
NY Sun: Reporter's Troubles Could Complicate Libby Indictment
The October 28 indictment handed down by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald contains five counts: Count 1 for obstruction of justice, in misleading the grand jury; Counts 2 & 3 for making false statements to the FBI; and Counts 4 & 5 for committing perjury before the grand jury. Mini-tutorial for non-lawyers: the false statement statute punishes lying when not under oath; the perjury provision punishes lying under oath. Both require "material" falsehoods, i.e., lies about facts deemed by the prosecutor important to the case. Thus, lies about things deemed not important are not violations. Under the perjury statute if a witness gives two inconsistent versions the prosecutor need not determine which is false. Further, to prove perjury a prosecutor need not have any particular number of witnesses or documents.
The indictment charges that Libby lied about having a conversations with one reporter (NBC's Tim Russert, who denied having had such a conversation with Libby) and about the content of actual conversations with two others (NY Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper). Fitzgerald said that seven sources testified that Libby, contrary to his testimony, told reporters about Spy Gal Val's CIA status, rather than, as Libby testified, the reporters telling him. Paragraph 32 of the indictment lists the false or misleading statements Libby allegedly made regarding his conversation with the three reporters. According to paragraph 33(a)(ii), on nine instances prior to speaking in July to reporters, Libby had spoken to various officials about Plame's CIA identity, officials at CIA, State and the White House, including one conversation with Vice-President Cheney, who allegedly told Libby that Plame worked for the CIA's Counterproliferation Division. In reply, Libby's lawyer said that Libby had cooperated fully--including waiving Fifth Amendment privilege and allowing reporters to speak about their conversations--and that there was no indictment for the allegedly underlying crime.
Yes, lying to federal officials and grand juries is a serious matter. But prosecutors have discretion: not every violation of law leads to indictment. What makes these indictments so awful? Consider: (a) an identity the CIA made no serious effort to conceal--having not told the White House she was "covert" and one which the CIA's own legal counsel surely knew was not a "covert agent" within the meaning of applicable federal law; (b) an accuser who apparently perjured himself before the Senate Intelligence Committee--for which he faces no indictment; (c) an intelligence agency that, in a war against the President it is supposed to serve, has massively leaked inside information (whether classified or not) with REAL national security content, such as deliberations within the Administration, disputes among principals, and potential war strategies, all far worse--and more harmful--sins than the "outing" of a Langley desk agent.
So: (d) A special counsel files an indictment that destroys the top aide to the Vice-President. Worst of all, as a 10/29 piece in the Washington Post by Lee Casey and David Rivkin points out, Fitzgerald likely concluded, as early as January 2004, that Spy Gal Val was not a "covert operative." This was but a month after his December 2003 appointment. Yet he did not close up shop. Special counsels have no incentive to do so. To be fair to Fitzgerald, he apparently decided not to indict Karl Rove upon being persuaded by Rove's counsel that inaccuracies in Rove's testimony were memory errors, not evasion. Further, Fitzgerald didn't stretch the 1917 Espionage Act to get an indictment.
Now, the proverbial dog that did not bark. Did Fitzgerald ask expansion of his authority to investigate perjury by the Administration's chief accuser? An accuser who appeared before the grand jury? Did Fitzgerald compare what Wilson told him with what he told the Senate? If Fitzgerald wants to make a tutelary point that lying to deflect an investigation is serious, why not make the same point about lying to get an investigation going in the first place? Is it material that Libby is a high official while Wilson is a private citizen? Wilson had vast power, thanks to media allies: access to the op-ed section of the NY Times to launch a vicious, mendacious vendetta against an Administration. Oh, and by the way, Spy Gal Val, if she knew that Wilson was lying--say, about whether she recommended him for the Niger mission, would be guilty of a misprision, a felony punishable by up to three years imprisonment. (For non-lawyers, a "misprision" means failure to report to the authorities a felony one knows to have been committed.)
So far, we are left with it being OK to lie to start an investigation, but not to obstruct one. Indeed, there would have been no obstruction to allege had there been no lies to start the ball rolling.
Lawyer Clinton Taylor writes in today's TAS that Joe Wilson's claim that Valerie Plame Wilson had no connection with his selection for the Niger mission is contradicted by none other than Fitzgerald himself. Consider page 4 of the indictment:
"[Libby] was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and was believed to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip." (Emphasis added.)
Then try this from page 12:
"[Libby] was informed by
a senior CIA officer that Wilson's wife was employed by the CIA and
that the idea of sending him to Niger originated with her."
Back to Libby: Why would an official lie? Either because (a) the truth would generate criminal liability or (b) a hyper-loyalist might risk criminal liability to prevent political damage. Libby faced no criminal liability, so (a) makes zero sense. Fitzgerald neither charged that Spy Gal Val's "outing" was by Libby, nor that her identity was protected as a "covert agent" under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. Further, although Fitzgerald found that Spy Gal Val's identity was classified, he did not charge Libby with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Fitzgerald told reporters that Spy Gal Val's status as a CIA agent had to be concealed "for her protection." Protection? Spy Gal Val on magazine covers, going to cocktail parties? And if her life was endangered by exposure, why did her husband launch a highly-visible, highly-public anti-White House attack via the NY Times op-ed page, exposing himself--and surely his family as well--to intense public scrutiny?
It gets worse. The indictment says that Spy Gal Val's identity was classified, and that her CIA affiliation wasn't "common knowledge outside the intelligence community." But in a 7/15/05 story, the Washington Times reports that a former CIA agent--like Spy Gal Val, one with "non-official cover"--told the paper that neighbors knew she was an agent, something she and her hubby made no attempt to conceal. Said the agent: "Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren't minding the store here. ... The agency never changed her cover status."
Wilson, for his part, was asked if he knew Spy Gal Val had been compromised before the leak. In his only candid statement he answered: "I have no idea." To be fair, this AM I saw Wilson attorney Christopher Wolf interviewed on CNN. Chris, a fine lawyer an a solid citizen whom I know well and greatly respect, is a neighbor of the Wilsons. He said that he didn't know of her CIA affiliation. Chris also said that Spy Gal Val was indeed a top CIA anti-proliferation expert and that her life was endangered by her cover having been blown. If that judgment is acorrect, all the more reason for her hubby to shut up--and for her to have avoided any entanglement in hubby's quest to get the Niger mission assignment, one that clearly had the potential in the context of a possible WMD-driven war with Iraq to become a major public issue.
Looks like Plame-Out will now Flame Out.
Title 18 United States Code Section 1503: Obstruction of Justice
Title 18 United States Code Section 1001: False Statements
Title 18 United States Code Section 1623: Perjury
Title 18 United States Code Section 793: Gathering, Transmitting or Losing Information
Title 50 United States Code Section 421: Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982
Indictment of Scooter Libby
Statement of Counsel for Scooter Libby and Statement of Scooter Libby
Website of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald
Transcript of Fitzgerald 10/28 Press Conference
Washington Times: Neighbors Knew Plame CIA; CIA Never Changed Cover
Title 18 United States Code Section 4: Misprision
Rivkin & Casey: No More Special Counsels
Taylor: Joe Wilson In a Bind
2 posts: (1) After Harriet, Whom?--The Home Front; (2) Judge Janice Speaks--The Home Front. N.B., Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to make news today; digesting any indictment(s) and placing in detailed context is not a quickie exercise. I will post Monday 10/31 on this.
Begin with a delicious quote yesterday, courtesy of John Fund's subscription blog, Political Diary, offering this from rightist provocateur Ann Coulter: "Politicians and Fox News analysts afraid of upsetting the White House keep saying we need to wait for the hearings to see if Miers is qualified. This is like saying that we need to wait for the hearings to see if Miers is a polar bear. We already know the answer! She's not a polar bear and she's not qualified. The Kabuki theater of nomination hearings will not tell us anything new." Radio host (ex-Supreme Court clerk, too) Laura Ingraham tartly asks re a 1993 HM speech: "Have you ever met a conservative who references Academy Awards speeches by Barbra Streisand to address the progress of women in America?"
More has emerged re why HM withdrew. The Washington Post reports that she was flunking her "murder boards"--mock grillings of the kind that Senators would do for real at her hearing. HM did so poorly that inside questioners did not call in, as often is done, outside friendlies to help. The New York Times quotes Senator Schumer saying that he did not know of a single Senator who came out of a meeting with HM thinking she belongs on the Court. An NY Times editorial bluntly states the obvious: a Supreme Court nominee should be able to answer a Senate questionnaire without a "do-over."
Now that Harriet did the right thing, who's next? Without reading tens of thousands of pages of materials having a serious substantive opinion as to fine distinctions between qualified nominees is beyond my ken. That said, several factors may guide 43's choice.
1. Having nominated a female candidate who was rejected (OK, she pulled out, but upon request), 43 need not nominate a second female. His willingness to choose Roberts as O'Connor's replacement (before Rehnquist died) suggests he is not afraid to do so. Also, Laura Bush pillow-talked for Harriet, and he may have less faith in her recommendation this time around.
2. Janice Rogers Brown is a superbly qualified two-fer--a Condi Rice of the law. But twin factors militate against his picking her: (a) her writings are highly provocative and thus susceptible of misquotation--see my excerpts today in my other post, Judge Janice Speaks; (b) JRB now sits on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most important court in the country. Makes sense to keep her there--especially as the D.C. Circuit just lost John Roberts to the Supremes.
3. A Hispanic candidate would be a plus for Republicans with a vital ethnic group in 2006 & 2008. Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales seems unlikely, for three reasons: (a) Bush does not want to anger his base again, and they do not (fairly or unfairly being beside the point) like Gonzales, whom they fear is not true-blue conservative; (b) Gonzales is a pal of 43's and after the Miers meltdown a second "pal" nomination is too risky; (c) 43 would then need a new A-G, and Gonzales, like Rice, offers loyalty points that most other candidates lack.
4. Which suggests Miguel Estrada if 43 chooses el juez supremo. Superb resume, strong character, appealing life story. Held prisoner by a two-plus year Democratic filibuster that they dare not reprise post-compromise and in full public view.
5. 43 could, of course, go for top white males. But white males put Democrats in full, penalty-free resistance mode. Make them pay extra for stopping a female, non-white or even a two-fer. Still, if he wants a white male choice, ideal is Ted Olson, former Solicitor General. A top talent, Ted is 65, which may lessen fury against his selection. Long may this most gracious of people live, but versus Estrada, who is 44, who figures to be on the Court longer?
6. 43 has much latitude, as his supporters have no stomach for a second fight with him, but will do so if 43 veers left. For his part, 43 must choose between two fights: with his political base, or with his political enemies. Seems like a no-brainer.
7. Democrats may come to regret making life difficult for Miers. She might have proven to be a Souter on the Court, and being well short of Olympian she would not likely have proven an influential Justice. Bitten again by the old Chinese curse.
8. The major limiting factor for 43 is not Democrats, but Republicans who frequently defect: Senators McCain and Hagel, plus the New England trio (Olympia Snowe & Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Arlen Specter has defected often in the past, but to win the position of Judiciary Committee Chairman he made certain concessions that likely will keep him with 43.
9. So stay tuned, and expect a nominee next week, one already extensively vetted in prior rounds. It would be presumptuous to say "43 will pick this one." Both his Supreme picks were surprises: Roberts because he was a white male; Miers because she was a crony and marginal. The next surprise could well be another male selection; with 3 years to go, 43 could easily get at least one more nomination opportunity to make a sacrifice to the "diversity" deity. I will, however, go out on a limb with one compound prediction: The next nominee will (a) also not be a polar bear but (b) be clearly qualified.
43's Short List
Laura Ingraham: Miers Not Conservative
Washington Post: Why Miers Withdrew
NY Times: Senators Not Impressed With Miers
NY Times Editorial: Miers Was a Disaster
Federal Judge Janice Rogers Brown, one of the judges held up more than two years by a Democrat filibuster, then confirmed this Spring to the federal appellate bench (the D.C. Circuit, primus inter pares among federal appeals courts), gave a bracing philosophical address at the University of Chicago Law School, under the sponsorship of the The Federalist Society, on April 20, 2005. Her thoughts would make for a lively confirmation hearing. It is hard to see how with such wonderfully alive thoughts she can be confirmed as a Supreme; then again her recent elevation to the D.C. Circuit makes her harder to stop than were she coming from the Calfiornia judiciary direct to the Supremes. Read the stuff below, and revel if 43 nominates her. Excerpts:
"Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is...the drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms, for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens."
"The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law. The greatest fiasco--the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people."
"Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible."
Protection of property was a major casualty of the [US] Revolution of 1937. The paradigmatic case, written by that premiere [sic] constitutional operative, William O. Douglas, is Williamson v. Lee Optical. The court drew a line between personal rights and property rights or economic interests, and applied two different constitutional tests. Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status." (The case JRB mentions is linked below; Douglas wrote for a unanimous Court.)
"With the advent of economic rights,' the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new 'rights' imposed obligations, not limits, on the state."
JRB made the DC Circuit Court as part of a package deal, with her views well below the public radar. A Supreme Court nominee's views is front-page stuff. Were JRB sent up, the hearings would be a gas.
Janice Rogers Brown: "A Whiter Shade of Pale"
Justice Douglas: Williamson v. Lee Optical (1955)
5 posts: (1) Miers Shows Her Class--The Home Front; (2) Iran on Israel: Ein Kampf--Us v. Them; (3) Jurors Give Terror a Partial Pass--9/11, 3/11 & N11; (4) Before Rosa Parks: Memory Hole History--The Home Front; (5) Special Counsel Protest Hypocritical?--The Home Front.
HM's decision to withdraw her name shows her class. Kate Walsh O'Beirne reported today on NRO (in her open letter asking HM to do what she just did) that (a) Miers told 43 in June not to consider her for the O'Connor seat and (b) that Judge Bork told KWO'B that even he could not prepare adequately in a few weeks for a tough confirmation hearing.
Now I have to show a little myself, and apologize to HM for one verse in my "Dream Justice" parody that I posted Oct. 25 at LFTC. Hastily scribbling a song during a taxicab ride in time to sing it off-key at a dinner party in a few minutes tempts the wordsmith to pick the quickest rhyme, even if an off-key word match comes up first. Speed trumped diplomacy. I have retroactively sanitized the verse by substituting one that takes today's news into account. And I wish Ms. Miers many happy days continuing as WH counsel.
Below is HM's letter to 43 announcing her withdrawal, citing document disputes as her prime reason for so doing. President Bush's acceptance letter is also below, citing the same reason and praising HM; 43 promises to propose a new nominee "in a timely manner." HM's withdrawal will likely bring about three improvements in the nominating process for Supreme picks: (1) end the awful practice of nominating super-stealth candidates; (2) kill the even worse idea of choosing sitting a White House counsel, a choice which raises executive privilege and recusal issues; (3) press the WH to pick a supremely-qualified candidate in the Roberts mold, rather than one whose credentials can plausibly be challenged.
Harriet Miers Oct. 27 Withdrawal Letter
President Bush Oct. 27 Acceptance Letter
Speaking at a "The World Without Zionism" confab yesterday, Iran's President called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and said that Islam "will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland." He thinks that the Palestinians will manage this, and said of suicide bomber attacks: "[T]here is no doubt that that the new wave in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world." It is, however, not the PA that is seeking nuclear weapons. Mere rhetoric for local consumption? Were Yasir Arafat's Arabic rallying cries to his faithful that all of "Palestine" would be swept of Jews just talk, or were his English-translated sweet nothings about the "peace process" uttered in the West just talk? Guess. Call Iran's leader's tirade ein kampf. Meanwhile, terrorism expert Aaron Mannes writes in today's Washington Times that Iran is backing Hezbollah's efforts to usurp power in the Palestinian territories. Iran, it seems, is putting its money and resources where its foul mouth is.
NY Sun: Iran President on Israel
Mannes: Iran in Gaza
Jurors in NYC decided yesterday that the terrorists who carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed 6 and injured 1,000 were 32 percent liable for the attack, but that the Port authority was 68 percent liable, because the PA ignored five warnings that the site was a prime target for a terror strike. Set aside the ludicrous pseudo-precision of 32 and 68 allocation shares. OK, the Port should have put in better security. Manhattan Institute scholar Walter Olson, a tort law expert, says that landlords in NYC will either have to implement all security precautions or decline to commission security reports that could later provide the basis for legal liability. There is some validity to his point, but a verdict holding the Port, say, 20 percent liable can accomplish that goal.
Apportioning more than half the responsibility to the guys who should have made it harder to carry out the bombing, and less than half to the bastards that actually planned it and carried it out is nuts. By this mindset, a person who is mugged while strolling and daydreaming should be apportioned 68 percent blame. Jurors who come to this kind of verdict remind one of H. L. Mencken's famous quip: "The average man is below average."
NY Sun: Port Authority Liable in 1993 WTC Bombing
Prolific author Thomas Sowell writes for today's Real Clear Politics that the segregated transportation that Rosa Parks declared war on was not imposed until the late-19th century. Prior to that private firms ran municipal transport and accepted everyone--not, mind you, out of public spirit, but in pursuit of the buck. Only when blacks were disenfranchised (again) after Reconstruction ended did whites, via politics--they could vote, blacks could not--impose segregation. (It was, BTW, against Louisiana transport segregation that Homer Plessy brought suit, eventually leading to the 1896 "separate but equal" Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court ruling.)
Sowell: Jim Crow Was Politics, Not Economics
Two former Justice Department officials write in an Opinion Journal op-ed today that the prerogatives of special counsels need to be reigned in, to parallel 1999 regulations adopted by the Justice Department. In the Wilson/Plame fandango Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, appointed by acting Attorney-General James Comey (John Ashcroft had recused himself) was given all the powers an A-G has. The 1999 rules limit prosecutors in three ways: (1) they must come from outside the government--unlike federal prosecutor Fitzgerald; (2) the A-G must approve any major steps; (3) if the A-G withholds approval, the special counsel can notify appropriate Congressional Committees and seek an override.
Fine so far. But then the authors go off the deep end. First they assert that critics of Fitzgerald oppose perjury prosecutions. Some perhaps, but what most are saying it that a perjury indictment should not issue from a mere discrepancy between testimony today and an e-mail from two years ago. Barring repeated lies or a pattern of evasion, no perjury charge is justified. Ditto for obstruction of justice. Second--and worse, the authors argue that leaks of classified information by low-level employees might get a prosecutorial pass, but the same leak coming from a high-level official should be prosecuted.
It is not who leaks that ought to count, but what is leaked. Does the leaked information harm national security? If the leaked information is the kind of routinely over-classified information that does not harm national security, do not prosecute. Information that discloses the CIA sending a criminal referral to the Justice Department re the outing of Spy Gal Val, a Langley desk jockey with fantasies of being Mata Hari, has zero national security value.
By contrast consider this: The CIA conducted a campaign, before and after the Iraq War, that distanced itself from the White House by revealing inside deliberations and strategy disagreements, information of interest to us here, but also potentially of great value to our adversaries. This is a case for a prosecutor. If Scooter Libby leaked to smack Spy Gal Val he does not deserve the Nice Guy of the Year award, but neither does he deserve indictment.
The authors argue that if the White House leaks classified information the intelligence agencies might withhold evidence from the WH. There is some merit to the argument, but it is carried too far. If Scooter Libby leaked re Spy Gal Val, that does not mean he would leak data on covert operations underway. CIA Directors presumably know the difference.
Former DOJ Officials: Reign in Special Counsels
5 posts: (1) Iraqi WMD Meets George Orwell--Weenie Watch; (2) Iraq Ratifies a Constitution--Us v. Them; (3) Miers Mired?--The Home Front; (4) Hail to the (NYPD) Chief--The Ap & The Cap; (5) Fed: A Price Rule Most (But Not All) of the Time--"It's The Earth, Stupid!" (Erratum: A partial mea culpa is in post 5.)
In an appropriate counter-strike on the day that US deaths in Iraq reached 2,000-still more than 700 less than were killed on 9/11--Robert Kagan writes in his 10/25 Washington Post op-ed that both liberal East Cost papers of record--the Washington Post and New York Times--pushed as hard for disarming Saddam of WMD as any folks anywhere. Everything they wrote, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld could love. The excerpts quoted by Kagan defy easy summary, so surf the link and enjoy a riveting read. Kagan's piece is also, on another level, sobering, as it teaches us yet again about the literally Orwellian capacity of media organs to re-write history as their editorial views change.
Kagan: It's Wasn't Just Miller's Story
Iraq's ratification tally is impressive: 79% voted "yes" nationwide, 21% "no." But it was a nearer-run thing than the nationwide numbers reveal: 3 provinces voted "no"--2 Sunni provinces by more than 2/3 and ethnically-mixed Nineveh (lovely name: capital of ancient Assyria) by 55%; a 2/3 "no" vote in a third province would have sunk the Constitution. The Washington Times reports that exclusively Shi'a and Kurdish provinces voted as high as 99% "yes," while Sunni province Anbar voted 97% "no." The New York Times notes that had 83,283 of 322,869 votes in "no" voting Nineveh shifted, the 2/3 "no" threshold would have been reached in a third province, defeating the Constitution. Or had 85,544 votes swung in the Sunni-Shi'a province of Diyala, which voted 51% "yes," the Constitution would have been defeated.
A little historical perspective is in order: A swing of 2 State Convention votes--yes, TWO--in New York (30-27 to ratify), or a swing of 6 votes--yes, SIX--in Virginia (89-79 to ratify) would have doomed ratification of the US Constitution. While both states voted after 9 of the 13 Colonies had already ratified, had either NY or VA failed to ratify some states would have rescinded, and thus undone the project. New Hampshire, a minor state, voted 57-47 for, the 9th to ratify; a swing of 6 votes there and the New York debate a month later could have come out different, leading other states to rescind.
In Pennsylvania (second to ratify) the vote (46-23) was not close, but the September 29, 1787 vote to convene a ratifying Convention (the nation's first call for one, 12 days after the Philadelphia Grand Convention ended) could only take place after Federalists dragged two Anti-Federalists from their lodgings to make for a quorum, so the vote to call a Convention could take place. Had Pennsylvania not ratified momentum for the Constitution would have been stopped dead in its tracks. In Massachusetts, sixth to ratify, the vote (187-168) would have gone against--and doomed the Constitution--had 10--yes, TEN--votes switched. The winning margin was delivered by John Hancock, he of the famous signature, who had taken to bed with gout and did not miraculously find himself cured until quietly promised at least the Vice-Presidency.
Judge Iraq so far a success.
Washington Times: Iraqis Approve Constitution
NY Times: Swing Votes Could have Changed Iraqi Result
US Constitution: 1787-1788 Ratification Votes by State
Pennsylvania's Ratification: How They Got a Quorum
Press reports yesterday had some Senators standing up for HM, others not doing so, including several Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. A Washington Post article dredges up some nuggets of constitutional philosophy from the early 1990s. In a 1993 speech to a Dallas women's group HM endorsed "self-determination" re abortion and school prayer. Perhaps more tellingly, in another 1993 speech entitled "Women and Courage" HM had this so say, re courts addressing problems of poverty: "Allowing conditions to exist so long and get so bad that resort to the courts is the only answer has not served our state well. Politicians who would cry 'The courts made me do it' or 'I did not do that, the courts did' should not be tolerated." In yet a third 1993 speech HM told Dallas female executives: "My basic message here is that when you hear the courts blamed for activism or intrusion where they do not belong, stop and examine what the elected leadership has done to solve the problem at issue." HM's view is fairly translated as: "Ccourts are a last resort when legislatures fail to address fundamental issues." Such is the essence of judicial activism.
In answering her Senate Questionnaire, however, there appeared a Harriet (New Nixon) Miers: "Parties should not be able to establish social policy through court action, having failed to persuade the legislative branch or the executive branch of the wisdom and correctness of their preferred course." Judges, HM wrote, are "arbiters of disputes, not policy matters."
Former New York Mayor (and Congressman) Ed Koch thinks HM should not be confirmed. Koch recounts a tale told him by a friend who approached Truman nominee Sherman Minton, an Indiana Senator who was the last non-lawyer appointed (also the last to decline to appear before the Senate at a confirmation hearing and get away with it). He asked Minton how he was picked. Answered Minton: "I sat next to Harry Truman in the U.S. Senate." Cheers for candor.
Harriet, we hardly knew ye--ye have indeed a judicial philosophy, after all. Your (nomination) deathbed conversion is most convenient, eh?
Washington Post: Miers Defended Social Activism
Koch: Reject Miers
Manhattan Institute president Lawrence Mone writes in today's NY Post about how NYPD Chief Raymond Kelly has brought crime in NYC down another 20 percent since he took office in January 2002, with the murder rate possibly dipping below 500 for the first time since 1961 (it peaked at 2,245 in 1990). Kelly has done this by refining Rudy Giuliani's famed Compstat crime-tracking system. Specifically: (1) Rudy's precinct-mapping system now includes Operation Spotlight--tracking individuals with long crime histories; (2) precincts are flooded when crimes go up; (3) DNA testing is much improved; (4) a Real-Time Center shares real-time data on suspects with investigating officers. Kelly also took 1,000 cops and put them on counter-terror duty, knowing that the feds cannot protect NYC; indeed, the feds are receiving help from NYPD, which is a lot more efficient than the FBI or Homeland Security. Operation Hercules deploys cops based upon threat analysis--several planned attacks have been thwarted; Operation Nexus established relations between NYPD and 20,000 NYC businesses. One suspects that not many New Yorkers would trade NYPD Chief Ray for New Orleans Mayor Ray.
Mone: Ray Kelly Shines
Supply-side maven Arthur Laffer writes in today's Wall Street Journal that the Fed under Volcker and Greenspan have in fact followed a price rule, and not a monetary rule as I stated yesterday, save for the late-1990s (so I was not completely wrong) when Y2K reared its ugly head. Laffer seems to include as a price rule discretionary adjustment in response to commodity prices; I had meant yesterday a non-discretionary rule in accord with a fixed price standard. Victor Canto writes on NRO that countries following a strict price rule get the best policy results. Both know more than I do (as does George Will, who has the benefit of a thousand more Fed-policy talks with Greenspan and Volcker than the zero I have had). Laffer thinks Bernanke is the best choice. So, if we can have the best at the Fed, 43, how about the same for the Supreme Court?
Laffer: Bernanke Best Choice
Canto: Follow a Strict Price Rule
6 posts: (1) Cancun Rules--Cyber-Serendip; (2) Supreme Songs--The Home Front; (3) Supreme Music II: Toscanini, J.?--The Home Front; (4) Chernobyl Joins Love Canal--"It's the Earth, Stupid!"; (5) Hollywood Hypocrites: Writer's Block--Weenie Watch; (6) Magnificent Money Mandarins?--"It's the Earth, Stupid!"
Law lesson for the day: Said one looter, 47-year old social worker Raul Lopez Vazquez, as he carried a TV set out of a Wilma-pulverized Cancun store: "It's not robbery. We are not breaking into the stores. They are open."
USA Today: Cancun Tourists Stranded
WE’RE JUST RILED ABOUT HARRIET
(to the tune of I’m Just Wild About Harry)
We’re just riled ‘bout Harriet
Still beguiled by Roberts, yet
Her questionnaire slips
Roe v. Wade she don’t get
Evangelical, she’s friendly
Free of judicial philos-phy
The base is riled ‘bout Harriet
Just not usable, she!
Copyright John C. Wohlstetter 2005
(bridge re-edited 10/27/05 per 10/27 news, to the tune Dream Lover)
Every day, in church
The Dream Justice will come our way
With jurist prose of princely charm
To woo swing votes can do no harm
‘Cause we want…a robe…to call…our own
We want a Dream Justice
So we don’t get a Souter clone
Dream Justice, where
With opinions held so true
A no-nonsense constructionist
‘Cause we want…a robe…to call…our own
We want a Dream Justice
So we don’t get a Souter clone
Some way, we now know how
Miers stopped a nasty row
Dubya must figure how
To find a new one now
Dream Justice, for
you to be
You’ll have to endorse privacy
Dance around with Roe v. Wade
Of such are confirmations made
‘Cause we want…a robe…to call…our own
We want a Dream Justice
So we don’t get a Souter clone
Dream Justice, until
We’ll write op-eds, and dream again
The Prez will nominate his new
Selection but we know not who
‘Cause we want…a robe…to call…our own
We want a Dream Justice
So we don’t get a Souter clone
Copyright John C. Wohlstetter 2005
Scholar Brue Fein writes in today's Washington Times about Harriet Miers and set-asides. Discussing past Court cases on affirmative action, he characterizes the late Justice William Brennan, a staunch promoter of affirmative action, as the Warren Court''s Toscanini. Fein is a very well-informed legal scholar, but his music analogy is a bridge (i.e., middle section) too far: Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) was famed for his exacting tempos and rigorous adherence to text in an era when conductors took vast liberties. Il Maestro was, in musical terms, what in the law we would call a strict textualist, an accusation never leveled at Justice Brennan.
Fein: Miers & Set-Asides
Joshua Gilder writes in today's Washington Times re Chernobyl that a UN report tells the truth (nice to see that, for once) on Chernobyl. Most illnesses resulted not from radiation but from a "paralyzing fatalism" among those living in the vicinity. The report says that such attitudes "pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure." Chernobyl's radiation exposed 5 million people to 200 times the radiation levels at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Far from the 500,000 predicted fatalities, there have been but 60--50 of them on-site emergency staff exposed to massive doses. (The report's authors are divided as to predicting 4,000 future fatalities.) Gilder wants the US to abandon its "linear non-threshold" rule for radiation. LNT says that there is no threshold for radiation damage. Modern cell biology says otherwise. People living by the Rockies receive three times as much annual radiation dosage than do those on the Gulf Coast, but live longer. Worry more about Katrina than a few extra millirems.
None of this is to suggest that you ingest plutonium with your morning cereal. But as Gilder advocates, we can restart our nuclear power industry, and consign Hollywood's nuclear policy to deep Earth geologic storage. There is another ramification: the scare value of radiation bombs. There is a huge difference between the toxicity--and, hence, lethality--of a bomb laced with plutonium, versus one laced with cesium-137. The former would contaminate an area for decades, while the latter would have near-zero health effect.
Yet folks are unaware of these distinctions and, regrettably, a media addicted to sensationalist scares will not tell them. Recall Love Canal, the toxic waste site that in 1976 caused authorities to resettle an entire town. Residents suffered health-damaging emotional distress, but no one was made sick due to the environmental contamination. Conundrum: The only way to educate the public is via the media, but their continuing panic-producing mindset makes that task insuperable.
Gilder: Chernobyl Exposed
A Wall Street Journal article today by LA Daily News columnist and screenwriter Bridget Johnson recounts the mega-hypocrisy of Hollywood, where female and minority writers are paid far less, shoehorned into stereotypical writing parts and grossly under-represented compared to their actual share of the population. Yet this does not stop Hollywood from being overwhelmingly liberal and thus pro-affirmative action--save when it might inconvenience themselves. Reminds me of the famous crack of legendary wit Wilson Mizner (the model for the Clark Gable character in San Francisco, the 1936 blockbuster), who described Hollywood life as "a trip through a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat."
Johnson: Hollywood Writer Income Gaps
George Will's column today pays fulsome tribute to retiring Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. As mandarins go, he probably is one of the better ones we could ask for. Will notes that since 1982, when predecessor Paul Volcker and Ronald Reagan tamed inflation, the economy has been in recession only 14 months (5.1 percent of the time), compared to 22.4 percent during 1945-1982. Between 1980 and 1945 the US economy was wrung through three 5 percent contractions, two of 10 percent and two of 15 percent; the 1982 recession, worst since 1945, was 3 percent. In any 5-year period, 45 percent of Americans shift income quintiles in our highly mobile economy; 20 percent move up from the bottom quintile every year and 40 to 50 percent make that move over a 10- to 20-year period. (Will's number parade gives the lie to the infamous Gini Coefficient, which measures gaps in income distribution; the yardstick presumes quintile stasis.) A Wall Street Journal editorial today neatly sums up the Volcker-Greenspan era, tempered by temperate criticism.
Fed tenures are not my bailiwick, but I am not so sure Will's assessment is right. Greenspan condemned in 1996 the stock market's "irrational exuberance" when the Dow was around 6,000. Bbut he did not do what a Fed chairman might have done, that would have tamped down speculative excess: raise margin rates from 50 percent to, say, 80 or 100 percent. Want to speculate exuberantly? Fine. But play with your own dough. Such might have spared us the bubble/bust market mess. That noted, Greenspan and Volcker were better mandarins than their predecessors.
Better yet: Jettison the current monetary rule for a price rule, tied either to gold or a commodity basket. Markets oft make monkeys out of even the most magical mandarins--even the better sort like Greenspan & Volcker.
Will: Master of Minimalism
9 posts today: (1) Naming Storms: Alphabet Atrophy--Katrina/Rita; (2) Tantrum to Nowhere--The Home Front; (3) Elian's Fantasy Father--Weenie Watch; (4) Will HillaryCare Expose Us to Avian Flu Pandemic?--The Home Front; (5) The Miers Meltdown: Headed for Free Fall--The Home Front; (6) Austin Agonistes: The Lone Star State Beckons--Katrina/Rita; (7) After Gaza: Bullets Beat Ballots--Weenie Watch; (8) Germany: Nicht Amerikanerin Sind--Weenie Watch; (9) Voting Rights Act Vapors--The Home Front.
The hurricane-naming staff must have cut school when discussing the alphabet. In their world we find no Q, U, X, Y or Z. Hence Storm 22 is named Alpha. The stated reason: lack of proper names. Really? Herewith female and male names for the Forlorn Five: Q - Queenie & Quincy; U - Ulla & Umberto; X - Xenia & Xerxes; Y - Yasmin & Yannick; Z - Zoe & Zoltan. The numbskull namers have never heard of a lead character in Broadway Melody of 1929, the character Jack Klugman played on TV, the sexpot character in The Producers, the clam-house where Crazy Joe Gallo showed up on the wrong Saturday night in 1972; the Warrior Princess, the Persian King, Rita Hayworth's daughter by the Aga Khan, the famous French tennis player of 15 years ago, Clinton's A-G flame-out whose name is a synonym for a "nanny problem" and one of the Hargitay clan (he who married Jayne Mansfield and fathered Mariska of Law & Order SVU).
Fox Cable News on 10/20 showed riveting--and reveling--video footage of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens throwing a tantrum on the Senate floor. Stevens demanded that his colleagues approve his "bridge to nowhere", at a cool $223 million, or else he would resign; they caved. Let's see: "Seward's Folly" cost us $7.2 million in 1867, equal to $90.74 million today. Taxpayers today will thus pay nearly 2-1/2 times as much for a bridge today as taxpayers in 1867 paid for the entire state. This is Congress' version of what economists call the Law of Diminishing Returns.
Now what does this reveal? Think of things that no Senator has to date threatened to resign over unless the Senate acts: (1) preparing hospitals to deal with avian flu; (2) stopping Iran's nuclear program; (3) nominating only the best candidates for the Supreme Court. We will, I guess, have to resign ourselves to 100 senators who will resign over protecting pork, but little else.
The Scoop on "Seward's Folly"
Stevens Defends His Stand
Reach back into your medium-term memory and dredge up the name of Elian Gonzalez, whose mother perished delivering him close to the shores of Florida around Thanksgiving 1999, to apparent freedom per her dying wish. But 'twasn't to be. Suddenly, as a Caribbean shark digested mom's remains, there emerged her estranged husband, hitherto absentee dad Juan Gonzalez. Egged on by Fidel himself, Juan demanded that Elian's Miami relatives surrender the boy, then 5 years old. Things dragged on into the spring, until, on Easter Sunday 2000 no less, thugs from the INS staged a pre-dawn raid after the feds got a friendly hack magistrate to issue a Friday evening warrant, bypassing a skeptical, better-informed judge who'd left earlier. Hauling the terrified boy from a closet, the thug-raiders gratuitously smashed a religious icon and punched an NBC newsman in the tummy on the way out. Nice work--for a day in the life of the KGB.
Newsweek's Oct. 10 print edition informs us cheerfully that Elian, now 11, had this to day about Fidel: "Not only [do I think of Fidel Castro] as a friend, but also as a father." Father Fidel indeed. The Russian scholar Richard Pipes has described Russia as a "patronymic state": to the Russian Tsar, every subject was his child and all private property part of his estate. Fits Fidel's Paradise. You think if Juan wanted Fidel to back off he'd say it? Once. Juan knows better. Alas, Elian does not. Juan may not have had a choice, then or now. That cannot be said for William Jefferson Clinton and his imbecile A-G, Janet Reno. 42 escaped paying any price for his act--MSM gave him a pass. But Florida paid Gore back for this kidnap caper in 2000.
So, was Gore the biggest political loser of the Elian Affair? He probably thinks so, but Saddam has a stronger case. As for Elian, perhaps the adulthood in a someday-free Cuba will teach him the nobility of his mother's sacrifice. Meanwhile, for a reminder of just how happy Elian was to be snatched by the INS, check out this series of photos by the one photographer the thugs missed.
The Photos the INS Failed to Snatch While Snatching Elian
The Wall Street Journal editors write on 10/22 that vaccine shortages which leave us open to avian flu devastation are the product of dumb government policy. In the 1960s the US had 37 vaccine manufacturers, versus but 3 today; in 2001 there was a shortage of 8 out of 11 childhood vaccines. Outdated FDA rules specify that chicken-egg development, which takes eight months, be used; reverse genetics and mammalian cells can speed matters, but are held up by lawyers and the FDA. Hillary's Child Vaccine program has government buying half the vaccines, thus driving prices down so that drug firms do not earn market return. In 2002 three Republican weenie-Senators from New England trumped up MSM noise to kill efforts to reform the 1996 Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, designed to curb tort lawyer abuses.
It seems that if Flu Avian arrives we will fight it with Water Evian.
WSJ: Vaccine Vacuousness
43's Harriet Miers nomination is approaching free fall. The 10/22 Washington Post reports that HM backed race and sex set-asides. She is nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, whose swing vote in two key affirmative action cases handed down at the end of the 2002-2003 term enraged 43's base. The Texas Bar Association adopted a 10 percent minority set-aside recommendation for Texas law firm hiring, while HM was President. Although HM did not personally author the policy, she promoted it. TBA called its goal "aspirational" and not a quota, but to conservatives goals are quotas by another name. (TBA adopted for itself a four-director women/minority set-aside two years before HM became President.) Worse for HM, a sweetheart real estate deal has surfaced. Seems that in 2000 HM received compensation in a Superfund case well in excess of land value; a panel including pals paid nearly $5 a square foot for land more properly valued at 30 cents per square foot. Superfund, in the event, is a major conservative bogey: its Draconian environmental clean-up rules for toxic-waste sites have ruined lots of landowners and created politically distributed windfalls. Lining one's pocket this way may not run technically afoul of the law, but it does not look pretty on a Supreme Court nominee's resume.
The Washington Times reports that the White House has contacted key conservative leaders and asked how a withdrawal (by HM herself or by 43) might best be handled. HM, it turns out, will meet this week with Senators--but only those scheduled last week; new appointments are not being set up. HM is preparing for her "murder boards"--mock Senatorial grilling by lawyers, in the event she does make it to the Nov. 7 hearing. But her task at the hearing seems insuperable: She must navigate between the Scylla of conservative distrust re her views on affirmative action and the Charybdis of Democratic suspicion of her abortion views.
The one way she could wiggle through would be if she were obviously super-qualified as was John Roberts; such is hardly the case. To be fair, Miers does not look so bad next to some of the 155 nominees sent to the Senate in the Court's 216-year history, but no one seriously rates her one of the best. With the Court ever more vastly influential in American life, with Justices life-tenured and with impeachment practical only for gross misconduct, standards for nominee confirmation have rightly risen.
George Will, throwing his second bucket of print-acid at HM, writes in the 10/23 Washington Post: "Such is the perfect perversity of the nomination of Harriet Miers that it discredits, and even degrades, all who toil at justifying it." Will calls references to HM's piety "the incense defense." Finally, taking sharp aim at those who--alas, including 43--view the key goal as placing an assured vote on the bench--what Will calls "unseemly eagerness" to get the "right" results, Will fires back: "Thoughtful conservatives' highest aim is not to achieve this or that particular outcome, concerning this or that controversy. Rather, their aim for the Supreme Court is to replace semi-legislative reasoning with genuine constitutional reasoning about the Constitution's meaning, as derived from close consideration of its text and structure. Such conservatives understand that how you get to a result is as important as the result. Indeed, in an important sense, the path that the Supreme Court takes to the result often is the result."
The editors of National Review now call on Senators to tell 43 to withdraw Miers. NRO fears that Miers will do so poorly at hearings that she will undercut the conservative case for transforming the court, which requires an advocate the caliber of a Roberts. NRO was blunt: "There is no good reason to keeping going down this road other than the sheer stupid force of inertia."
Worse, Democrats seem to have concluded that they can stuff her nomination to embarrass a politically weakened White House, and still be able to fight a better replacement nominee. They can oppose HM by citing her want of superior qualification, and then oppose a stronger conservative pick--whoever follows a Miers withdrawal would surely be a top-quality pick--without appearing as reflexively ideological opponents of constructionist nominees. They did, after all, confirm John Roberts. Democrats can wage protracted warfare against a politically weakened President, secure that Sandra Day O'Connor will render decisions often congenial to them. 43 could thus face sending a third nominee up to face the wolves. 43 can cut his losses by withdrawing HM, thus depriving Democrats of a chance to reject for lack of competence.
John Fund's 10/24 Wall Street Journal piece today shows what a cipher 43 picked: Last week Fund offered to pay anyone who could plausibly recount a conversation with Miers on a constitutional issue; so far, no takers. Miers may be too caught up in her own cram course to see what is going on, and the White House surely is pre-occupied with possbile indictments of top aides, but Senators are not. All that is needed to push this nomination over the cliff is for a delegation of key Senators to tell 43 that they cannot afford the embarrassment of protracted hearing that demonstrate the incoherence of a Jill-come-lately to constitutional law. The White House, probably this week, will see the light and cut its losses.
Washington Post: Miers Backed Race, Sex Set-Asides
Washington Times: Insiders See WH Miers Pullout
Will: Defending the Indefensible
Fund: Her Philosophy, Anyone?
National Review Editors: Senators Should Stop Miers
The 10/22 Washington Post presents more sobering reality that shows why New Orleans as it was pre-storm will never fully revive. The article, beautifully written, tells of the plight of one three-generation black family that settled in Austin, Texas, and is weighing whether to return to NO ever. Grandparents Earnest and Dolores Smith wish to return, grandkids wish to stay and father is caught in between. The father, Ryan Smith, is a FEMA worker now looking for work in Austin. The boys, Deron, 10 and Tyler, 8, are enrolled at a mostly Hispanic school; the kids were placed in remedial and special ed classes, while parents of students at the school are offered parenting and nutrition classes.
Austin contrasts sharply with NO. Austin is a boom town, NO a dying city; Austin is 10 percent black and 1/3 Hispanic, while NO was 67 percent black but only 3 percent Hispanic; Austin's population is 1/3 comprised of people who moved there, whereas NO was 85 percent comprised of permanent residents. Of 1,000 Katrina refugees, 700 have so far decided to stay.
A major factor in Austin's attractiveness is that the city is hospitable; refugees were greeted with "Welcome to Austin." Austin in recent years took in refugees from Liberia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Good governance makes a huge difference. One displaced man, Steve Harris, said: "If I get work, I'm not going back to New Orleans. Why should I go back? They left me to die."
Washington Post: Evacuees Begin to Put Down Roots
Arnaud de Borchgrave writes in the 10/22 Washington Times that "the lamentable spectacle of internecine warfare" has led Israel to conclude that a negotiated withdrawal from the West Bank is not feasible; instead, Israel will act unilaterally. As was predictable, Abbas, who is what passes for a moderate among Palestinian leaders, is losing out to Hamas. The AK-47 is for Palestinian youth what the cellphone is for youth in civilized societies. Of 1.5 million Palestinians, 80 percent live in poverty, with unemployment running 25 to 66 percent. Arafat's children have inherited a Hobbesian Hell.
With the "Quartet" Road Map plan of a Palestinian state with "East Jerusalem" as its capital moribund, Israel is mulling several unilateral withdrawal options for the 240,000 settlers living on the West Bank, once it has completed the 420-mile barrier. One is a minimal drawback of 10,000 settlers by 2007; a bigger plan would withdraw 100,000 by 2010.
Writing in the 10/22 Opinion Journal, WSJ editor Bret Stephens demolishes the argument that Israeli checkpoints, 18-hour curfews, closures, "petty harassments" and targeted assassinations are the reason for Palestinian pathologies. Prior to the restoration of Yasir Arafat none of this caused widespread violence and barbarism; Palestinians were mobile and employable. Stephens observes that neither bringing terrorists into the political process without disarming them, nor statehood, will cure these pathologies. He does not think Abbas can survive.
With oil-rich Arab states raking in billions each week, de Borchgrave
notes, a few days worth of aid could help make the Palestinian land a
viable city-state. Will not happen. Worse, 43 will not press for
this. Arab states see Palestinian misery, as they have since 1948, as
a weapon to use against Israel. It's still, as Dooley Wilson sang in Casablanca, "the same old story"--except that the Mideast version is not romantic love, but romantic death.
de Borchgrave: Mobocracy vs. Xanadu
Stephens: Palestinian Suicide
Fareed Zakharia writes in the 10/10 print edition of Newsweek that Germany is in fact a lot like the US of A, but that Germans do not like this. Said one German politicians of the train-wreck election held a month ago: "German voters have spoken. We don't want to become Americans." Germany's slow-growth, high-unemployment economy needs restructuring, and voters know it, but....not all at once, Angie (Merkel). Germany, writes Zakharia, realizes that reform must come;( France does not). The German economy is the world's leading goods (not services) exporter, despite an economy 1/5 US GDP. The only other major country to grow exports in the past five years has been China.
German politicians, writes Zakharia, have been too dark, stressing pain and sacrifice. They could learn from Ronald Reagan, whose sunny optimism carried America through its painful 1980s restructuring. Zakharia strikes one false note, quoting a former US Ambassador to Germany on how the US trashes Germany too much, considering what a friend Germany is, yadda, yadda. Gerhard Schroeder and his nasty fellow SPD cabinet members get yet another pass from a prominent US columnist. Ignore this, love Bach, Beethoven, etc., hope the best for Angela Merkel, and tell Gerhard Schroeder and his SPD cronies what they can do with a rolling donut.
Writing in the 10/10 Newsweek, columnist George Will calls the 1965 Voting Rights Act "the noblest law of the 20th century." "Emergency" parts of the law were due to expire in 1970, but were extended in 1970 and 1975, and then in 1982 for 25 more years; this year Congress is poised to pass a law extending VRA another 25 years, to 2032. Will attributes this to "two kinds of opportunism, one deservedly futile, one disgracefully successful." By the former Will means a Republican "grovel" in hopes of appeasing the black vote; by the latter he means the bi-partisan deal to configure House districts so as to maximize black representation in Congress, by concentrating black voters in "majority-minority" districts. Will notes that this deprives Republicans of the need to campaign in mixed-race districts, by tailoring their appeal to black voters as well as whites, and makes them tone-deaf.
Will's condemnation is uncalled for. Republicans have made myriad efforts to reach out to blacks, by creative private sector initiatives like charter schools and enterprise zones, appointing blacks to high-level positions with real power and reaching out rhetorically--e.g., targeting black churches in the 2004 elections. And what did they get for all this? A slight uptick in the Presidential race, and that's it. A tad of goodwill, wiped out instantly by Hurricane Katrina--despite a manifestly pathetic black mayor's imcompetence.
Consider, too, the case of one Rudolph Giuliani. In his eight years governing the Big Apple, the annual number of felonies citywide fell 58 percent, from 430,000 to 180,000; the murder rate fell from 64 percent, 1,946 to 714; Harlem entered an economic renaissance once Rudy broke the stranglehold of the local black politicians; welfare rolls plummeted 63 percent, from 1.6 million to 600,000, creating jobs for dole recipients. The biggest drops in crime came in minority areas--in some cases more than 70 percent. Yes, there were a few high-profile incidents--all investigated and most resulting in convictions; and yes, Rudy is not Mr. Warmth. But in terms of results, no mayor in NYC history did more to help his flock--especially, formerly besieged minority citizens who finally could live in reasonably safe communities.
And what did Rudy reap from his vast efforts and stupefying success? If memory serves--I found no online confirmation but the number was so amazing it is burned into my cranium: A poll in May 2000, taken just before Rudy exited the Senate race against Hillary to enter treatment for prostate cancer, showed Rudy with five percent--yes, that's 5 percent--of support among black voters. Blacks, sadly, have become America's Palestinians--they simply won't take "yes" for an answer, and their leaders stay in power by racial breast-beating. Against this Will expects Republicans to oppose extending VRA? Will MSM, which portrays Iraq through the lens of Cindy Sheehan, give Republicans a fair chance to explain their opposition? Ask William Bennett.
Gov. Dingbat knows priorities when she sees them. Louisiana is appropriating $45 million for various state projects, including a horse arena. The bill's supporters brushed off warnings that when asking the feds for a cool quarter-trillion simoleons this is not a smart move. You'd think a deficit already at $1.5 billion and with a collapsing tax base that they'd think this over. Proves once again that government is the ultimate "gift that keeps on giving."
Louisiana Sets Priorities
Betsy Ross McCaughey, ex-NYC Lt. Gov., savior of us from HillaryCare, now founder and Chairman of the Commitee to Reduce Infection Deaths, writes in today's NY Sun that one way to fight avian flu risk is to reduce infections in hospitals, which killed 103,000 persons last year. In 2003, she reports, 40 percent of health care workers did not themselves get flu vaccinations. in all, 5 percent of American hospital patients contract infection due to their stay. Will America wake up?
McCaughey: Hospital Infections Cause Flu Spread
The photo link below shows a planned residential downtown Manhattan skyscraper, designed by a prominent Spanish modernist, that stacks boxes asymmetrically. Check it out, and ask yourself if you would want to live in that during a Category 5 hurricane.
The Administration's decision--a wise one, for a change--to pull Harriet Miers from visiting Senators and instead spend a fortnight cramming as much constitutional law into her as possible--signals the almost-certain end of her prospects to win confirmation. Miers, the Washington Post reports, even told Senator Schumer that she need to "bone up on this a little more" (apparently referring to the privacy right cases). Asked by Senator Leahy to name her favorite Justice, HM answered Warren Burger--one of the Justices who signed the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade--this despite HM having endorsed a Human Life Amendment in 1989. NRO's Byron York reports that one White House source rated HM's Senate courtesy calls, on a scale from 1 to 100, "in negative territory." The Washington Times reports that HM has met with 25 senators, versus John Roberts having met with more than half before his hearing. Wesley Pruden reports in his Washington Times column that one WH staffer, asked to provide "qualification talking points" on HM, offered: (a) HM having taken a Catholic Charities referral to aid a single mother threatened with deportation to Nigeria; (b) once helping someone denied Social Security benefits; and (c) litigating 8 trials to verdict and arguing 6 appeals. That wraps up the Nigerian-expatriate single-mother vote.
HM's gaffe on the Fourteenth Amendment--inserting into it a "Proportional Representation" Clause not there (it is a principle created by Warren Court caselaw) was not a minor slip-up. Not knowing which clause covers Letters of Marque and Reprisal (Art. I, sec. 8, cl. 11) is a minor slip-up; not knowing cold the content of the Amendment that forced the greatest shift of relative power in American history--from state to federal and from legislature to judiciary--is another matter. From 1937 to 1986 Supreme Court jurisprudence was dominated by the doctrine of "Preferred Freedoms"--those in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments--and thus applied to the states by "incorporation." Only upon William Rehnquist ascending to Chief Justice in 1986, with Antonin Scalia confirmed as Associate Justice that same year, did federalism applied by the Supremes return some measure of power to the States.
Charles Krauthammer suggests a face-saving exit strategy: the Senate demands documents it knows the White House will refuse per executive privilege, and then refuses to confirm. CK says that this will work because HM has no public record, and thus the documents are needed, as they would not be for someone with a record already public. A tad too cute; this could be applied by Democrats to any future nominee for any federal court position, ignoring CK's caveat. Recall the famed Chinese curse to beware what you wish for....Rich Lowry writes at NRO that the WH "out-stealthed" itself and should withdraw HM and nominate someone with a record--and the ability to defend it. One consequence of the HM fiasco seems clear: the era of super-stealth nominees is over.
So where is HM's nomination headed? John Tabin writes on The American Spectator that HM will likely lose: 5 Judiciary Committee Democrats are wedded to Roe v. Wade--either promise to uphold it or they vote "no"; the other 3 voted for Roberts due to the nominee's superior qualifications. That means 8 votes against her; a single Republican defection makes it 9-9 and 2 or more....Under the agreement reached earlier this year on ending filibusters, HM will get a floor vote. But 9 or fewer votes in Committee would likely doom her chances on the floor. Also on TAS, Prowler suggests that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter may trade his confirmation vote for White House support on a stem cell amendment he wants to attach to labor legislation. If the WH is even considering this it is, of course, a confession of desperation.
Oh, BTW, Letters of Marque and Reprisal do have potential use today. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), who has read the Constitution, proposed that Congress authorize Letters, which would enable private citizens to apprehend terrorists. Sounds good to me.
Krauthammer: An Exit Strategy
Miers Names Burger
York: Miers Bombs
Washington Times: Miers Tour Ends
Pruden: HM Is On Her Own
Tabin: Miers Doomed
Prowler: Specter May Trade
Lowry: WH Out-Stealths Itself
Paul: Grant Those Letters!
The 10/15 Hampton Daily Press ran a neat article on the F/A-22 Raptor, whose soon-to-be operational (December 2005) 12-plane first USAF Raptor squadron is based there. The Raptors flew on 10/15 out to Utah for two weeks of flight testing. Lt. Col. Jim Hecker, Commander of the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley, said of a test aerial engagement against F-15s, in which Hecker piloted an F-15: "We couldn't see them. We couldn't even get them on our radar before we were killed. It wasn't even a challenge for the F/A-22 pilots." Said Hecker of combat against F-15s or F-16s: "It's like the Dallas Cowboys against the Tabb Elementary School junior varsity."
The 10/17 Hampton Daily Press reports that in a 2003 exercise Indian pilots flying the MiG-29 (sic, not 3 capital letters: MiG stands for Mikoyan-Gurevitch, the two designers) matched evenly against the F-15; the F-15 did only slightly better in a later Malaysia match against the Russian SU-27. The Air Force wants 381; Congress cut that number to 179. In a December 2004 American Spectator piece Hudson Institute scholar Michael Fumento (full disclosure: I am a Hudson Institute trustee) gave more metrics. Several European fighter platforms are comparable to the F-15. They sell weapons to US enemies, at times.
In my posting Raptor Rape (LFTC 4/19/05), I noted two arguments against raping Raptor: (1) our need to deter Chinese military adventurism against Taiwan or elsewhere in Asia; (2) the Raptor's vast superiority versus current planes on a cost/performance basis. I also noted that cost figures in the MSM press for the Raptor were wildly misleading. I have since come upon better numbers, less favorable to the Raptor, but that still refute MSM's. Let's look at a March 2004 assessment and draw some instructive numbers. Bear with me for a half-dozen paragraphs of numbers--these are important.
From initial authorization in 1986, the GAO (the federal government's auditor, then still known by its original name, General Accounting Office, now the "A" stands for Accountability) calculated in 2004 the total program cost through FY2008 of the F/A-22--including $11.7 billion for adding the ground attack role (thus the "/A" designation, added September 2002)--and $300 million for software program upgrades. GAO's number: $80 billion, of which half had been spent as of FY 2004. The 750 original F-22 fighter aircraft are now 179 F/A-22 fighter-attack planes. Development costs--sunk capital R&D investment--were put at $12.6 billion in 1986 and, GAO asserts, have jumped 127 percent, to $28.7 billion in 2004. But GAO's numbers are all in then-year dollars; this is economic illiteracy. Taking inflation into account, $12.7 billion in 1986 dollars equates to $21.2 billion in 2004 dollars; dividing that into $28.7 billion in 2005 dollars yields a 13.5 percent program development cost increase. By ignoring inflation the GAO overstated the F/A-22's development cost increase nearly ten-fold (9.4x)!
Now, ignore the phony numbers in the papers. Take the $80 billion total GAO number for total program cost. This number includes $28.7 billion in development costs, of which $11.7 billion is added to add the Attack role. At the 1986 number, $68.3 billion was to cover 750 F-22s, an average of $91 million per plane, of which 18 percent ($16.8 million) per plane was fixed R&D and 82 percent ($74.3 million) variable production cost. Fast forward to 2003, just after the /A role was added. By then the program number had been cut to 276 planes. Total cost for 276 planes was pegged at $80 billion ($290 million per plane), with 36 percent ($28.7 billion--$104 million per plane) fixed R&D and 64 percent variable cost ($52.3 billion--$186 million per plane).
Now further cut the program to 179 planes, where it stands now. Dividing 276 by 179 yields a 54 percent per plane jump, to $447 million per plane (same fixed versus variable cost shares--$161 million fixed R&D and $286 million variable production cost per plane). This becomes, in MSM-speak, a 491 percent increase in cost "overrun." Never mind that this overstates, due to then-year dollars being used, the actual percentage jump. Worse, it ignores the impact of reducing production run on per plane cost. And it ignores adding the "A" role.
Take a bar-napkin calculation--simplifying, but very informative. Divide 750, the original program total for the F-22, by 179--today's F/A-22; the larger production run is 419 percent higher than the current production run. That is what a 76 percent plane reduction does. A 419 percent fall-off explains about 85 percent of the 491 percent cost increase; of the remaining 15 percent, 13.5 percent (see above) is for adding the "A" role, and the rest is miscellaneous. My calculations are bar-napkin, and thus subject to a fair amount of error. But it seems clear under any reasonable reading that the great majority--even if 85 percent is too high--of the program's cost increase is due to drastic cuts in Raptor production run. Now compare this to the earlier generation fighters.
The 1979 unit flyaway cost of an F-16 was $10.2 million--call it $10 million; in 2004 dollars this was $27.6 million. One estimate for the F-15, as of 1972, was a $15 million unit cost--a number close to others vouchsafed me, so for a bar-napkin we will use it. This would be $41.4 million in 2004 (the F-15's cost inflator is much higher than the F-16 number due to the great 1970s inflation). An F-15 today actually runs close to $60 million (like the Raptor, it had new missions added, driving the cost up faster than inflation alone would have done), and is more than twice as expensive to maintain as is the Raptor. (My F-15 cost number rounds up from $58.4 million, calculated by adjusting for inflation a non-MSM newspaper's $35 million figure for the F-15 unit cost in 1986, the year the Raptor program began.)
So: Is one Raptor worth 10 F-16s? 7 F-15s? In aerial combat, the F-16s and F-15s won't even see it; neither will ground targets at night, with the /A role added. Recall the numbers I used in my 4/19 Raptor Rape LFTC posting, re the F-117 Stealth fighters and the raid on Iraq's nuclear facilities. In the Gulf War, the USAF bombed Saddam's nuclear research facility twice. First, they launched a daylight raid of 72 planes, of which 14 were F-16s carrying bombs, with the rest jammers, escorts, etc. The raid encountered heavy fire, and due to evasive maneuvering and smoke spread over the target by the Iraqis no hits were scored. Then, at 3 AM 8 F-117s re-did the mission, using only 2 tankers. Three of the four reactors were destroyed, and the fourth heavily damaged. No warning, no camouflage and no evasive action needed. Besides superior results, a true cost single-mission comparison would be 72 planes needed to 10. Factoring in results, the 72 plane mission would have to have been repeated at least once, probably more times.
But can we still afford such marvels? First: The $40 billion remaining to spend in the F/A-22 program--over 4 fiscal years as of when the GAO assessed it in 2004 (FY04 - FY08) amounts to less than 0.4 percent of more than $10 trillion the federal government will spend, and less than 0.08 percent of the probable $50 trillion in US GDP over that period. Second, add back the 201 planes dropped since 2002 (that the Air Force wants but Congress will not fund), for another $37 billion (at $186 million per plane variable production cost--excludes sunk R&D cost, which does not go up with production increase). In such event the production run surely would go on a few more years, so the percentage shares of federal outlays and GDP represented by the Raptor program would stay roughly constant. We can't afford this? Puh-leeze.
Worse, relying on the F-15 generation of craft puts our pilots at risk. They deserve better. The value of Stealth was demonstrated in the two Iraq wars; it is not coincidence that we missed Qaddafi in 1986 with non-Stealth attack planes (for the same reasons the first 1991 raid on Saddam's reactors failed). A country that generates $12 trillion GDP per year can afford to buy the best for those we ask to put their lives on the line to defend us and our way of life. Nothing less is acceptable. Go, Raptors!
Official F-22 Raptor Website
Upgrading the F-22 to the F/A-22
The F/A-22 Raptor Website
Hampton Daily Press: Raptors Win Rave Pilot Reviews
Hampton Daily Press: Russian Fighters Match F-15
Russia: Sukhoi SU-27
Russia: Sukhoi SU-37
Sweden: JAS 39 Gripen
LFTC 4/19: "Raptor Rape"
GAO March 2004 F/A-22 Report
F-16 Flyaway Unit Cost: 197
F-15 Estimated 1972 Unit Cost
Estimated 1986 Cost for F-15
The Wall Street Journal graciously gives Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas space to state his case for reviving the 4-power Road Map (US, EU, UN, Russia) blueprint; he seeks wider access for his people within Israel and is upset with the building of what he (and, to be fair, the International Court of ([In-] Justice) calls an illegal "wall." To begin with, the fence is only a wall as to about three percent of its length, in places where Palestinians had been shooting into Israel. Israel's fence was erected in response to a campaign of stupefying barbarity--not even Attila sent children to do his killing--launched on the flimsiest of manufactured pretexts. As for "access" Abbas--and his Road Map allies--wish to bootstrap: Palestinians need access in order to succeed as a state. The fact that access would not be a problem absent years of terrorism escapes Abbas and his friends. Our position should be: Let Palestinian access to Israel be earned by cessation, once and for all, of acts of terror.
Abbas: Access, Please
Opinion Journal's WSJ editors report that Congress is finally moving to place modest limits on federal spending, in response to conservative outrage. It's about time. An argument could be raised that lack of domestic spending restraint is a trade-off for backing the war and defense spending, but 43's opposition will have none of that. Republicans may as well go after domestic spending. The WSJ editors also support cutting defense pork, which is fine, but overall our defense needs, as I have written in LFTC several times, are way underfunded relative to our commitments. Read the WSJ's shopping list for cuts. 43's failure to veto a single bill to date is a mjaor failing of governance.
WSJ: Congress Gets (a Tad) Serious re Spending
Larry Wilkerson, ex-Chief of staff to ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell, yesterday brought out into the open what everyone watching closely has known for five years: State (allied with the CIA, albeit Wilkerson's quoted remarks do not say this) has waged the bureaucratic equivalent of nuclear war against its most despised adversaries. Al-Qai'da? Nope. Iranian mullahs? Nope? North Korean nutcakes? Nope. Try...Defense and the White House. Wilkerson assailed Cheney and Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib in Iraq, failing to unite with the Europeans re Iran and failure to engage North Korea. Wilkerson called the military "overstretched and demoralized." He accused Condoleeza Rice of being too close to 43 while at NSA, asserting: "She would side with the President to build her intimacy with the President." Loyalty to a President who bucks the career bureaucracy is, to Wilkerson, no virtue.
Wilkerson capped his broadside by citing 41--not 43--as the example of a leader who knew how to make foreign policy work, calling 41 "one of the finest Presidents we have ever had....There is a vast difference between the way George H. W. Bush dealt with major challenges, some of the greatest challenges at the end of the 20th century, and effected positive results in my view, and the way we conduct diplomacy today." Wilkerson said of 43 that he was "not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either."
It is fair to say that Rumsfeld and Cheney deeply distrusted the traditional bureaucracies--with good reason. The unceasing war mounted by State/CIA against Ahmed Chalabi--waged with lies and selective blame--alienated a man who would have been one of America's most powerful friends in postwar Iraq. Re 41, Wilkerson apparently sees nothing wrong with 41 allowing Saddam to survive, even after he had torched the Kuwaiti oil fields and fouled the Persian Gulf, instead of toppling him and siding with the insurgents of 1991, who were not terrorists and Baathists but people fighting for freedom in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces--and at a time when we had 540,000 US boots on the ground. 41 urged rebels to rise up, then stood by while Saddam violated his accord with Gen. Schwarzkopf and butchered the rebels. Our long-term presence aroused one Usama bin Ladin. 41 also, BTW, opposed much of Ronald Reagan's victorious Cold War policies.
And just as State supported leaving the tyrant in place in 1991, so this time they wanted a Baathist thug in power, not attempting the daunting task of changing the face of the Mideast. Cheney, too, supported the 1991 ending, but 9/11 changed him. Wilkerson is a 9/10 person--as is Powell and, institutionally, State and CIA are; Cheney and Rumsfeld are 9/12 persons, changed by 9/11. 9/10 folks, as I stated in my 9/12 LFTC piece, believe that 9/11 was a stepped-up terror attack that could be dealt with within the traditional framework of US foreign policy, embedded in Europe and the UN, limited to Westphalian pre-emption--only used against imminent attacks--preserving existing political entities, and accepting in full the norms of international law such as the Geneva Conventions. 9/12 folk see 9/11 as a transforming event that required escaping the straitjacket of flaccid allies and multinational institutions, precluding certain potential attacks even if not imminent, not being fully bound by Geneva and transforming failed states that have been the incubus of terror. Wilkerson's jeremiad brings this dispute out into the open.
Amazingly, Wilkerson went public over the opposition of none other than Colin Powell, at the expense of their relationship, according to Wilkerson.
Wilkerson: Cheney-Rumsfeld Cabal
5 posts: (1) A Bird Flu Policy "For the Birds"--The Home Front; (2) Nagin's Null Set; Post's Dull Set--Katrina/Rita; (3) Plame Flame, White House Shame: The Perils of Political Panic--Weenie Watch; (4) Miers: Ups & Downs--The Home Front; (5) Iraq: Mountebanks Miss the Mountain--Weenie Watch.
Super-medico Bernadine Healy writes in the 10/24 US News & World Report edition that we are flagrantly unprepared for a possible avian flu pandemic--one which, as per the 1918 Spanish flu, would strike at the strong more than at the weak; it targets people in the prime of life, whose immune systems are tricked into overkill, destroying healthy as well as sick cells. We lack a sufficient blood reserve, and we lack doctors and critical care beds (only 100,000 in the entire country). Sleep well.
Healy: Unprepared for Bird Flu
Robert Novak wrote on 10/17 that the picture in--and future for--New Orleans looks grim. Only 23,000 of 460,000 residents (5 percent) are living there. Of 2,520 small business loan applications filed with the feds, 6 have been granted. The state pols--mayor, governor and both senators--are regarded as jokes--their $250 billion grab-all will be laughed out of Congress. Novak stayed at a small hotel in the French Quarter; there was no service and hardly any staff. Locals wish to rebuild NO without the headline-hogging pols. Perhaps 250,000 will live here. Perhaps far fewer.
The 10/19 Washington Post reports: "There is concern that [New Orleans] will be much smaller, whiter, richer and more homogeneous: an anodyne, theme-park version of the Big Easy dominated by highbrow restaurants and lowbrow bars of the unflooded French Quarter." The WP, it seems, sees inherent virtue in a marrying poverty and diversity. Would these folks object to a blacker NO?
But there is am ethnic wild-card: Ruben Navarette, Jr. writes in the San Diego Tribune that workers flocking to NO to clean it up are disproportionately Hispanic; what was a 3 percent Latino population may become 12 to 15 percent. Contractors are, it seems, very happy with their work. Mayor Nagin told reporters that he wonders how he can "ensure that the city is not overrun by Mexican workers." Imagine the media firestorm were any white leader to say that.
Today's Washington Post article also reports a slight arithmetic error by the Red Cross: Instead of 600,000 refugees due to Katrina there are only 200,000. Would you fly in an airplane built by those folks?
Novak: New Orleans Gone
Washington Post: Economics of Katrina
Washington Post: Red Cross Miscounts
Navarette: Hispanics Move to New Orleans
The clock ticks towards October 28, when the grand jury convened by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame CIA-agent leak affair expires. Reports have two top White House aides facing possible indictment--not for the original, bogus charge of "outing" James Bondette Spy Gal Val, but for possible perjury, obstruction of justice or unauthorized disclosure of classified information. If the ax falls on Scooter Libby or Karl Rove (or both), the primary blame should fall not on proven liar & faker Joe Wilson. (As Steven Hayes' article below shows, Wilson lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about pretty much everything. Contrary to Wilson's claims: his wife did push him for the special mission to Niger--and no, it is not plausible that he did not know of this; his "report" did not convince the CIA that the uranium story was false--analysts at the agency and elsewhere were split; he did not expose one document as a forgery--his mission was eight months prior to the document turning up.) Nor should Wilson's myriad shameless hills in MSM, whose outrageously dishonest reporting created a scandal out of nothing, be blamed above all.
No, the blame will fall on 43 and his White House, for three reasons: (1) confronted with the initial charge that the WH had no basis for inserting the uranium yellowcake story in 43's State of the Union speech in the run-up to Iraq, the WH retracted the insert--which explicitly cited the Brits as source, despite Tony Blair's standing on British Intelligence having two independent sources confirming the story; (2) confronted with a pack of press hounds baying for a special prosecutor, the WH caved, to kick the can down the road past the 2004 election; and (3) when Wilson's lies to the Senate were revealed in a bi-partisan Intelligence Committee report, the WH failed to have the Justice Department investigate Wilson for perjuring himself before a Senate Committee, for which indictment there is clearly more basis than anything Wilson alleges.
The moral of this sad affair--even if all WH aides escape indictment? Panic is perilous in the face of political attacks. Your adversaries are emboldened, not placated, by weakness. Kicking the can down the road did zilch to quell the press pack howls. All the WH had to do when Wilson's risible op-ed appeared in the Washington Post (July 2003) was respond: : "Even if Joe Celebrity is right about one source, Tony Blair assures us that British Intelligence has two independent sources supporting the story. We place our trust in Tough Tony over Celebrity Joe." As for calls for a special prosecutor, the WH could have asked Justice to investigate, defending the integrity of career prosecutors. They'd have come back with this: "We've investigated the allegation, and find that it is not even a close call that Spy Gal Val is an agent covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. sec. 421), and thus there is not need for a special anything." And the WH should have had Justice investigate Wilson's testimony before the Senate, for possible perjury charges. Would Democrats and MSM have howled? Sure, but they did anyway. Simply put, nothing the White House did to try to tamp down the political or legal assault has borne fruit, so it may as well have fought back while taking the partisan hits.
Instead, due to panic the WH: (1) embarrassed 43 by retracting his SOTU words; (2) embarrassed true-blue ally Tony Blair by slighting the work of British Intelligence; (3) set in motion a politically-driven prosecutorial process that makes for Captain Ahab hunts; (4) seriously distracted top WH aides at critical times; (5) left these aides "twisting slowly, slowly in the wind." And if any top aides are indicted: (6) permanently, perhaps, fatally, wounded an Administration already in deep political trouble. All this for running from a hot-air B.S. accusation by a partisan, self-promoting jerk and his equally partisan, equally self-promoting spouse--who so fears for her life that she is the life of Beltway parties, and a media celeb in her own right.
This is one area where 43 could have learned from his predecessor, who, facing far more damning--and often true--allegations of wrongdoing (some criminal)--fought back ferociously (often unethically and perhaps at times illegally). True, 42's WH had MSM on their side (save for the WH Travel Office scandal that involved hurting WH staff friends of the reporters). But could 43 have fared worse fighting back? It seems hardly likely.
Meanwhile, read Bill Kristol's two-pager on how key conservatives have been targeted for trumped-up charges. Plus for one last showing as to how mendacious Wilson is, and how partisan MSM is, read Steven Hayes' 12-pager that runs over the whole sorry mess.
Hayes: Senate Finds Wilson's Story Utterly False
Kristol: Criminalizing Conservatives