Monday, October 31, 2005

The Pumpkin Man

6 Now this I say, (A) he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not (B) grudgingly or under compulsion, for (C) God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And (D) God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written, "(E) He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever."

10 Now He who supplies (F) seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and (G) increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be (H) enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing (I) thanksgiving to God.

12 For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying (J) the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing (K)through many thanksgivings to God.

13 Because of the proof given by this (L) ministry, they will (M) glorify God for your obedience to your (N) confession of the (O) gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, 14w hile they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.

15 (P) Thanks be to God for His indescribable (Q) gift!

-II Corinthians 9:6-15

Another Home Run

{Whew} What a relief. Those of us who spent the weekend with held breath dreading the possibility that President Bush might name his wife, or Andy Card, or Alberto Gonzales, or the guy who digs postholes at his Crawford ranch to the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor can rest easy with the announcement this morning that Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel A. Alito will be the recipient of that honor.

Indeed, Judge Alito is, if possible, even more qualified to sit on the SCOTUS than Chief Justice Roberts. As the President mentioned in his introduction, "Judge Alito has served with distinction on that court for 15 years and now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years." All of which makes the whole Harriet Miers debacle even more mystifying. Thank goodness it proved to be a "burp in the universe" aberration.

That universe has returned to normal, with the hard Left outraged, livid, sputtering, overmatched, and in an abject panic.

The usual suspects (Senators Reid, Schumer, Kennedy, People for the Soviet Socialist Way, Center for American Decline, just to name a few) are rigor mortically lashing out at the Alito pick. Kind of a "Ready! Fire! Aim!" dynamic that is the natural offshoot of not knowing what to do. This may be the first time in almost five years that the full reality of indefinite minority status has finally hit home with the Democrats.

Case in point. Here was the "inside line" this morning:

The Democrats are already mapping out their strategy. Several conference calls have already taken place this morning, coordinating surrogate and third-party campaigns against the nomination. "We're going to filibuster," a Democratic Senate Judiciary aide proclaimed on his ride into the office. "There is no doubt about that. We began talking about it on Friday when rumors first hit that it might be Alito or Luttig."
That strategy seems to have lasted all of four hours:

The energy up here on the Hill is amazing, and you can even sense among Democrats that they are unsure of what to do. Sure, the press releases have gone out and Senator Chuck Schumer has done his morning quota of TV appearances, but coming out of lunch meetings, a number of Democrats are worrying that they may have already overplayed their hand.

"We're waiting on some polling data," says one Senate Democratic leadership staffer, when approached about where her boss thought he might go the Alito front. "[Alito] looks a little more difficult to pin down than we thought yesterday." Even Senator Harry Reid is having some doubts about the strategy of setting up an early bogeyman. According to one DNC staffer, the office of Howard Dean was abuzz with gossip that Reid and Dean had spoken at about 10 am, with Reid asking Dean to tone down the rhetoric for a while.

Apparently, Dean declined.

"Apparently." {chuckle} I don't know what is more remarkable; that the Dems may have broken their own record for hand-overplaying, or that even a handful of them are recognizing it this quickly. Perhaps uncharacteristic Republican mettle made it harder to mistake the "filiborking" gambit for the banzai charge it is.

Case in point, Majority Leader Bill Frist on Tony Snow's radio program this morning:

I think the political posturing from the other side is absurd. I think it is disrespectful of the nominee, who wants America - and my colleagues, more importantly the latter. But once America sees who he is, they're going to stand back and say, "He is smart, he's intelligent, a man of integrity. A powerhouse, a powerhouse in the legal profession." So I look up on all these comments from my colleagues as premature and political posturing. And, you know, if they continue it along the way, I think they're going to pay a price....

[I]f they are going to prejudge the outcome, it's going to be a fight. And we are already for it....Obstructing judicial nominees should be a thing of the past. If the Democrats want to obstruct a nominee and not give us our constitutionalright of advice and consent, an up-or-down vote, we'll take it to the mat. If a filibuster comes back, I'm not going to hesitate to employ the constitutional option to get an up-or-down vote. [emphasis added]

Here was Senator Mike DeWine (RINO-OH), one of the McCain Mutineers:

"I think it's a good nomination. I think the judge is a solid judge, and I think he's going to be very well received....Our group of 14 will probably meet within the next day or two, just to kind of take a preliminary look. It's hard for me to believe, though, that what every one thinks of this nomination that this nomination rises to the level of what we call in this group of extraordinary circumstances, so it's just hard for me to believe that anyone would think this nomination is so far outside of the mainstream that it would qualify as filibuster material."

And here is another of the McCain Mutineers, "Lobotomy" Graham (via CQ):

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, fired back Sunday, saying that if the Democrats staged a filibuster against Judge Alito or Judge Luttig because of their conservatism, "the filibuster will not stand."

Mr. Graham's warning was significant because he played a crucial role earlier this year in helping block a Republican effort to change the Senate rules - known as the nuclear option - so that Democrats could not filibuster judicial nominees. His comments on Sunday indicated that this time, he would support that rule change; Democrats have threatened to retaliate with a battle that could snarl Senate business for months.

Two McCainiacs brings the minimum vote total for banning confirmation filibusters to an even fifty, meaning Vice President Cheney would break the tie. Could be that is what was making Fristy talk like he was packing a pair of grapefruits.

And that puts the Dems in a hellish dilemma. They can either try to flailingly bork Judge Alito but ultimately give way on allowing a final floor vote and lose the O'Connor seat, or they can try to filibuster him and lose that procedural weapon AND the O'Connor seat. And perhaps several more seats in next year's midterm elections, especially with the aforementioned "Samson" strategy.

Matt Franck at Bench Memos thinks the Dems will, in the end, run away to fight another day:

1. There will be no filibuster attempt. If Harry Reid doesn't quash the idea himself, he will be persuaded to do so by his own caucus.

2. A significant number of Democratic senators who announced themselves "very concerned" about Alito's presumptive views on "a woman's right to choose" and other matters will nevertheless vote for him in the end.

3. No more than one or two Republican senators will vote against him.

4. Arlen Specter will not be one of those opposed.

5. The final vote in favor of Alito will be more than 60 senators, possibly more than 65.

Cap'n Ed suggests for what the Donks will be saving the filibuster in this scenario:

I expect that the Democrats will get 30-35 votes in favor of a filibuster once Alito gets out of committee. If they do consider a filibuster, too many of them will realize that Stevens might get replaced during this term (he's 85 years old). They need that potential stop on Senate business to protect a genuinely liberal seat on the Court - and enough of them won't agree to tossing it aside before the 2006 elections, when they might narrow the gap in the Senate, in order to keep Alito off the bench. They also won't want to fight over obstructionism again during the next cycle, or the Democrats might well lose more Senate seats in the midterms.

Expect Alito to get confirmed, 65-35.

Both Franck and Morrissey offer sound, rational arguments whose plausibility, however, is dependent upon a group of people for whom rationality has been at best a random occurance.

Consequently, my natural instinct would be to predict a base-driven filibuster, a retaliatory rule change and Judge Alito's confirmation. Only thing is I thought the same thing about Chief Justice Roberts, and he won in a 78-22 blowout. But that gives me what accountants love and cannot do without - a numerical baseline.

If you figure that half of Dems voted for Roberts, but he was up for a constitutionalist seat, whereas Alito is up for a swing seat, arbitrarily reduce that half to a quarter. That would change the result to 67-33, still a win outside the filibuster range.

Figuring it from the opposite direction, if you simply take the total number of non-McCainiac Republicans, 48, and add the "Gang of 14," that produces a 62-38 margin, again outside of filibuster range.

Would the seven "moderate" Dems go along? Stanley Kurtz thinks so:

The downside is the possibility that a filibuster will hold up the larger legislative agenda. But I don’t think even moderate Republicans are politically endangered by this. They will break a filibuster and will not be punished. Moderate Democrats will be in more danger if they do filibuster. Again, I think this traps the Democrats between their own groups and the broader public.

Losing half a seat is better than losing one. And with Justice Kennedy becoming the sole swing vote between the originalist wing (Roberts-Scalia-Thomas-Alito) and the oligarchist wing (Stevens-Souter-Ginsburg-Breyer) all but guaranteeing that he'll become the latter group's de facto fifth member, the Left's fingernail grip on SCOTUS power would likely remain.

So call it a nasty but "conventional" fight, and a 62-38 win for Justice Alito.


Grand Orthodox Party

Patrick Hynes of has some news for Judas Danforth and the other aspiring bluenose pogromists who dream of driving conservative evangelicals out of the Republican Party: It is they that, in historical perspective, are the interlopers and usurpers of the GOP, not the faithful:

America's two dominant political parties have undoubtedly morphed over the years, but Democrat and Republican dichotomous attitudes of religion in public life have remained remarkably close to those of their respective beginnings. Whereas 19th century Republican evangelicals would often preach against the evils of slavery, 21st century Republican evangelicals preach against the evils of abortion. Only the names have changed (in this case, literally: the Democratic Party of Jefferson's age was known as the Republican Party).

So when former U.S. Senator John Danforth claimed "that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian right," as he did on Wednesday during a speech before sixteen students enrolled in the Bill Clinton School of Public Service [how apropo], he is demonstrably wrong. Christians have not "taken over" the Republican Party and neither is there anything "recent" about it. Christians were present at the founding.

And, starting a generation ago, we took it back, and then to the top. And Rockafellas will never get over it.

But we are not vengeful. The "big tent" has plenty of room in it, as long as the dissidents remember who's running the show, and has well earned the right to do so.

Repent, Mr. Danforth, and we'll leave your golden lampstand right where it is.

Otherwise, don't let the door hit you where the Good LORD split you.

The REAL Gas Price Gougers

....are NOT the "Big Oil" companies:

[T]he biggest beneficiaries of gasoline sales are federal and state governments, not the oil industry.

[F]ederal and state taxes on gasoline production and imports have been climbing steadily since the late 1970s and now total roughly $58.4 billion. Due in part to substantial hikes in the federal gasoline excise tax in 1983, 1990, and 1993, annual tax revenues have continued to grow. Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues—more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period.

And looky who wants to jack up gas taxes another twenty billion dollars.

Come to think of it, every tax increase is an exercise in public sector "gouging." But lefties have no problem with that strain of it because they're the ones who get to wallow naked in the confiscated cash.

We'll have to keep that rhetorical device in our blogging utility belts.

[HT: Powerline]

Porkbusters 2.0

Per Hugh Hewitt (Hopefully with Judge Alito now the pick to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor the Blogfather can repair his tattered credibility and we can get back to citing him), N.Z. Bear and Instapundit are rolling out Porkbusters 2.0.

In accordance with their request of blogger support for this upgraded fiscal responsibility initiative, "We support the Fiscal Watch Team Offset Package."

Look upon our works, ye mighty, and tremble....

It's Alito!

I know Jim will provide an excellent in-depth analysis of this pick later today, but I just wanted to direct our readers to Bench Memos for great coverage of this exciting pick by our President. To the Dems...Bring It On!

JAS adds: How did the President know it was my birthday today? Fifty-eight million pairs of soiled undergarments is a fantastic present!

And so is Justice-designate Alito....

UPDATE: Sign us up for the Coalition!

Pathetic Little Weasels

That would be Harry Reid I'm talking about. Yesterday I saw where he is calling for the resignation of Karl Rove. After two years, Rove hasn't been charged with anything...yet Reid still thinks he should step down. Their disappointment is nearly palpable regarding this whole thing. There's Schumer in the story, too, acting all holier-than-thou and talking about Republicans "doing the right thing." Gimme a break.

The Republicans and the President have conducted themselves with respect for the law and the process, very much UNlike the Democrats acted during Ken Starr's investigation of Bill Clinton. The difference between the two parties could not be more stark, for those of you out there who say there is not much difference any more. We have not attacked Fitzgerald or the investigation itself. We all know what the Democrats did to Ken Starr.

I have a feeling that when Bush announces his judicial pick today, we are going to see a fit from the Left like we've never seen...well, maybe we've seen one from the right with Harriet Miers, but...(that was for you, Jim). [g]

JAS adds: "Pathetic" hits the nail on the head.

The libs have stepped on yet another rake. Or, rather, several at once. They were so sure, so positive, that they finally had Bush where they wanted him:

October was going to be the month that would mark the meltdown of the loathed Bush presidency. Iraq was failing, gas prices were rising, a weak Supreme Court nominee was under assault, and the White House was under siege from a special prosecutor. What more could a Bush-hater want?

So what happened? The Iraqis had their constitutional referendum right on schedule and it was an even bigger success than the January election that first elected their constitution-writing assembly. Gas prices have fallen 10% since their most recent peak. The Bush boom rolls on despite three major hurricanes. Harriet Miers withdrew and now we have a Robertsesque replacement. And the Bush Watergate that the Dems were all set to celebrate fizzled like an untied party balloon.

The Left's frustration was palpable on the Sunday talking head shows yesterday:

The Senate [Minority] leader said Sunday that presidential adviser Karl Rove should resign because of his role in exposing an undercover CIA officer, and a veteran Republican senator said President Bush needs "new blood" in his White House....

Senate [Minority] leader Harry Reid said he is disappointed that Bush and Cheney responded to the indictment by lauding Libby and suggested they should apologize for the leak that revealed the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.

"First of all, the Vice President issues this very terse statement praising Libby for all the great things he's done," Reid said. "Then we have the President come on camera a few minutes later calling him Scooter and what a great patriot he is. There has not been an apology to the American people for this obvious problem in the White House," Reid, D-NV, told ABC's This Week.

Meanwhile, Senator Chris Dodd, D-CT, said Cheney should "come clean" about his involvement and why he discussed Plame with Libby before Libby spoke to reporters about her.

"What did the Vice President know? What were his intentions?" Dodd asked on Fox News Sunday.

"Now, there's no suggestion the vice president is guilty of any crime here whatsoever. But if our standard is just criminality, then we're never going to get to the bottom of this," Dodd said. [emphasis added]

Man, I am glad I wasn't drinking anything hot when I first read the above quote. I'm still giggling.

This is damage control of the lamest order. Rove wasn't indicted, but dammit he should have been, so he should quit anyway!!!!! He couldn't have "outted" Valerie Wilson because she wasn't "undercover" when she was supposedly "outted," but dammit yes he did, yes he did because we say so and we want it to be true so it is!!!!!, and Bush and Cheney should contradict the conclusions of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and SP Fitzgerald and apologize for it anyway. And, oh by the way, not just stand back and let Scooter Libby be kicked to death, but join in the assault as an act of flaggellant penance.

Dodd, if anything, is even more hilarious. He almost recycles the old Watergate line "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" verbatim, which is a level of subtlety on a par with Super Bowl halftime show wardrobe malfunctions. And that last comment - "...if our standard is just criminality, then we're never going to get to the bottom of this" - almost makes me believe that Alan Funt and Rod Serling are co-hosting this exhibition somewhere.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. The entire White House upper echelon was supposed to be carted off in a paddy wagon. Karl the Great was supposed to be frog-marched in handcuffs, legirons and an orange jumpsuit. Big Time's head was supposed to be mounted on a spike on the White House outer fence. Bush was supposed to be impeached by his own party as its last official act before the entire GOP was herded into cattlecars and shipped off to Hillary's Alaska gulag. That's what the DisLoyal Opposition convinced itself was going to fall into their collective lap like overripe fruit.

So now they feel "cheated." Now they'll be even more pissed. And the cycle will continue anew:

The left will get even more heated in its rhetoric, even more extreme in its attacks, even more willing to distort and demagogue. And this in turn means the Bush Administration needs not just to play effective defense, but to go on the offense -making the case for the war, its necessity, and the prospects for victory; explaining the role of the Bush tax cuts in producing economic growth, and fighting to make those cuts permanent; winning the Alito vote in the Senate and the constitutional debate in the country; and counterattacking against the criminalization of conservatives.

"Bring it on," indeed. We have plenty more rakes where these came from.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Let's Take A Break

1 (A) And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.

2 And He sent them out to (B) proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.

3 And He said to them, "(C) Take nothing for your journey, (D) neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.

4 "Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city.

5 "And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, (E) shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them."

6 Departing, they began going throughout the villages, (F) preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

7 (G) Now (H) Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that (I) John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that (J) Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again.

9 Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?" And (K) he kept trying to see Him.

10 (L) When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done (M) taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called (N) Bethsaida.

-Luke 9:1-10

More Silent Boom

NRO Financial Editors, via the Corner, bring us these exerpts telling of a U.S. economy that is growing like gangbusters - and stronger than it ever did during the so-called "Clinton boom":

From Brian Wesbury: "'Core' GDP (consumption + fixed investment) increased 4.3% in Q3 and is up 4.5% in the past year. Despite widespread pessimism about hurricanes, energy prices, consumer debt, trade deficits, and housing bubbles, the economy continues to grow at a remarkable pace. This is because tax rates remain low, productivity continues to accelerate, and Fed policy is still accommodative."

From Mike Darda: "Since an inventory drawdown pulled growth down by more than half a percentage point, and the effects of the September storm-related outages probably knocked another half of point off growth, underlying output actually has been running closer to 5% in real terms. Strong underlying trends in the capital-to-labor ratio and corporate profits suggest that both income and corporate spending should continue at a strong pace moving into 2006. This is confirmed by data on tax receipts, which show that tax revenues grew at the fastest pace since 1982 in FY05." [emphases added]

Wheeeeooo. Who knew things were that good?

Well, the President for one, I would assume. So why isn't he shouting this news from the rooftops and taking credit for it?

I guess it would be immodest, but what has humility to do with success in politics? Besides, with the other side preaching perpetual gloom & doom into the resulting vacuum, the public is inevitably buying into the wholly fabricated pessimism. And it is possible to take credit for good times without Clintonoid shamelessness - just say that the American people have been set free from high tax rates and they did the rest. That's how Ronald Reagan did it, after all; and it has the additional virtue of being spot-on true.

It's a lot like evangelism - how will people know the truth if nobody tells it to them?

More Proof of Media Bias

Over at Newsbusters, they note:

As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.

In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.

More recently, note the near non-coverage of Sandy Berger's felony and slap on the wrist. The MSM is no longer a news source, it is just an arm of the Democratic Party. We've all known that for a long time, but now more and more people are coming to realize it. It does my heart good to hear the reports of depressed readership of rags like the New York Times, and look at the ratings Drudge puts up regarding cable news ratings.

Along the same lines, Rush Limbaugh is whoopin' booty big time over the liberal talkers. The story is on Newsmax. No wonder the libs have their knickers in such a twist.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What Did You Say?

1 O LORD, who may abide (A) in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your (B) holy hill?

2 He who (C) walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and (D) speaks truth in his heart.

3 He (E) does not slander with his tongue, nor (F) does evil to his neighbor, nor (G) takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who (H) honors those who fear the LORD; he (I) swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 He (J) does not put out his money [a] at interest, nor (K) does he take a bribe against the innocent. (L) He who does these things will never be shaken.

-Psalm 15

Wolves And The Sheep Who Love Them

On Wednesday Iran's new figurehead president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, publicly declared as his country's top priority the complete annihilation of Israel - and America, too, if they have any nukes left over [via CQ]:

Iran’s hard-line president called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and said a new wave of Palestinian attacks will destroy the Jewish state, state-run media reported Wednesday.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also denounced attempts to recognize Israel or normalize relations with it.

“There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world,” Ahmadinejad told students Wednesday during a Tehran conference called “The World without Zionism.”

Ahmadinejad's Islamist candor triggered universal world condemnation - though only of the toothless, impotent, meaningly "diplomatic" variety, as his retort yesterday clearly indicates [also via CQ]:

Iran's president has defended his widely criticised call for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Attending an anti-Israel rally in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his remarks were "just" - and the criticism did not "have any validity."

Last Wednesday's comment provoked world outrage. Israel has called for Iran's expulsion from the United Nations.
Today the Indian capital of New Dehli was the target of multiple terrorist (most likely al Qaeda) attacks [h/t: Powerline]:

Three powerful bombs ripped through New Delhi markets packed with families and shoppers on Saturday ahead of the biggest Hindu and Muslim festivals of the year, killing over 50 people and wounding scores more. ...

At least 51 people were killed in the blasts which occurred within minutes of each other, said an aide to Delhi state Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit [Man, I hope that surname is a misprint...]. Fifty-four people were injured, the aide said.

Also today, Indonesia Islamists went on a decapitation rampage against teenage Christian girls [h/t Michelle Malkin]:

Three teenage Christian girls were beheaded and a fourth was seriously wounded in a savage attack on Saturday by unidentified assailants in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi.

The girls were among a group of students from a private Christian high school who were ambushed while walking through a cocoa plantation in Poso Kota subdistrict on their way to class, police Major Riky Naldo said.

All of which is a rat-a-tat-tat update means of reminding one and all that there's a war on and we have to get back to the task of winning it, as opposed to "managing" it, or still worse, pretending that it doesn't exist.

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? I mean, these enemies aren't exactly subtle, or engage in obfuscation or misinformation about their intentions. Heck, Osama bin Laden is probably jealous of "President" Ahmedinejad's "righteous" candor.

And yet behold the impenetrable ignorance of the seditious domestic left:

A few days ago, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) made a speech urging the U.S., in effect, to get out of Iraq the way we got out of Vietnam.

Leahy told the Senate that we cannot win in Iraq. "It has become increasingly apparent that the most powerful army in the world cannot stop a determined insurgency." (U.S. troops, Iraqi troops, long-suffering Iraqi civilians to Leahy: Thanks, senator, we needed that.) And Leahy announced that the President must lay out a public formula to tell the world just when U.S. troops will leave Iraq. Otherwise, Leahy said, he will urge the Senate to choke off the war by refusing to fund it. That's how the U.S. finally lost Vietnam: Congress snuffed out the money.

And, of course, losing this war would not be an abstraction whose effects would be limited to people thousands of miles away. It would cripple our economy (think al Qaeda taking over Saudi Arabia) and bring our homeland under the kind and level of siege that Israel has suffered for the past decade and a half - and probably worse. Indeed, all it would really take is a single, well-placed EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack to destroy the United States as we have known it and leave the entire world wide open to Islamicization or perhaps even Red Chinese conquest.

Yeah, that's a worst case scenario. But they always start somewhere, and the brain-dead (or treasonous, take your pick) admonitions of Senator "Leaky" and his moribund minority rump sect would be the trigger.

I agree with David Galernter that, "This nation will abandon the Democratic Party before it abandons Iraq" - and the larger war of which it is a part. 9/11 obviously didn't change the American Left (other than to make them even bigger sellouts), but the mainstream public still knows we're in a fight and that it has to be won.

Just look at the vast audience that greeted Cindy Sheehan at the National Press Club yesterday.

You could almost call the attendance "bomb scare" level.

Sore Miersians, Foiled Donks, & The Next Pick

Somebody needs to get to Hugh Hewitt and get him to realize how far off the right-wing reservation he has strayed. Not only is his sour grapes grousing over the mercifully withdrawn Harriet Miers SCOTUS nomination sounding increasingly similar to the wailing & gnashing of teeth from disappointed Democrats, but he's now getting his columns (or at least this one) published in the New York Times:

Over the last two elections, the Republican Party regained control of the United States Senate by electing new senators in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. These victories were attributable in large measure to the central demand made by Republican candidates, and heard and embraced by voters, that President Bush's nominees deserved an up-or-down decision on the floor of the Senate. Now, with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers under an instant, fierce and sometimes false assault from conservative pundits and activists, it will be difficult for Republican candidates to continue to make this winning argument: that Democrats have deeply damaged the integrity of the advice and consent process.
Mule fritters. Had Miss Miers stuck it out and gone through with her confirmation hearings, she would have gotten an up-or-down floor vote. And, as Bill Frist told the President on Wednesday night, that was an up-or-down vote that she would have lost. Badly. Which was why her nomination was withdrawn the next day.

I'll buy the "instant" and "fierce" adjectives, but there was nothing "false" about the "assault" on this mystery meat pick. Indeed, as information about Miss Miers gradually trickled out, she turned out to be even worse than we expected at first glance. 'Twould be nice if Double-H would at least acknowledge this fact, even if it does indicate that we were right and he was wrong.

The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around. Given the overemphasis on admittedly ambiguous speeches Miers made more than a decade ago, conservative activists will find it difficult to take on liberals in their parallel efforts to destroy some future Robert Bork.
Again, we did not "exaggerate" or hurl "invective" - at least not at Miss Miers. Personally my ire was aimed far more at the President for his rank betrayal of a core promise of both his campaigns, and his use of left-wing tactics like feminist pandering and "diversity"-mongering, than anything the nominee ever did or said.

Of course, it is difficult to "exaggerate" when there is so little to examine in the first place. This goes far to explain the "unbroken stream of new charges" that weren't "charges" at all but simply revelations that sprang from the White House's piss-poor vetting of its nominee. Had the President not threw aside his objectivity in selecting his close confidante that vetting process would have caught all the "charges" that, as it happened, slammed into the Miers nomination one after the next until it finally sank. That's what he gets for ducking a fight with the people we elected him to take on.

Hugh is also wrong about the "hypocrisy" angle. Democrats will always assault any credibly conservative judicial appointment. Harriet Miers didn't fit this description, and you'll notice that the Democrats "held their fire" by their own admission. This was another reason why the GOP base revolted, and for a gratifying change, Republican senators took heed. True, none of them publicly called for Miers' withdrawal, but they didn't have to, and as the events of Wednesday and Thursday bore out, they got their message across.

Why this should make mortal senate combat over the next originalist nominee more difficult frankly mystifies me. The Bork parallel fails here for one very basic reason: the attacks on Judge Bork eighteen years ago were caustic, lying smears, whereas the criticism of Harriet Miers' candidacy was honest, thoughtful, and substantive. Fifteen years ago we said, "NO MORE SOUTERS!" Dubya gave us another stealth pick. We didn't stand for it. Simple as that. Just as if he now appoints a constitutionalist to the O'Connor seat, we will cheer and enthusiastically man the barricades for him/her with honest, thoughtful substance, while the Democrats try to destroy him/her with caustic, lying smears. And their attempts to call us "hypocrites" - doubtless citing Hewitt's arguments - will be just another futile tactic, providing the newly constituency-conscious Republican majority does what is necessary to get the new nominee confirmed.

If Hugh seriously believes that a Luttig or Alito or McConnell will withdraw at Democrat insistence, he evidently hasn't thought through the implications of his labored stance.

And will other nominees simply pass on the opportunity to walk out in the middle of a crossfire? A White House counsel with distinguished credentials was compared to Caligula's horse and Barney the dog on National Review's Web site. George Will denounced as "crude" those evangelicals who thought Miss Miers's faith was a good indication of character in a nominee and a hopeful sign on issues involving the unborn. She was labeled a crony before lunch on the day of her nomination by scores of commentators. Attacks on her competence within the White House followed immediately. She never had a chance, really.
Since when did Hewitt get so thin-skinned or lose his appreciation for the witty metaphor? The "Caligula's horse" and "Barney the dog" cracks were sarcasms in service of a valid criticism of the cronyism the Miers selection represented and the track record of mediocrity in Executive Branch appointments of the President's friends and hangers-on. And George Will didn't denounce the minority of Miersian evangelicals as "crude," but the argument people like Hewitt made conflating Miers' religious faith with her phantom judicial philosophy. And as subsequently came out, she not-so-ambiguously and quite enthusiastically endorsed judicial activism four years after filling out the questionnaire during her run for Dallas City Council endorsing a Human Life Constitutional Amendment. Once more, we were right and Hewitt was wrong.

Well, Hugh is right when he says that Miers "never had a chance." Which only underscores why she never should have been appointed to begin with, and why the majority of the Republican grassroots objected from the day of her nomination.

Bush made a mistake. A big one. If he can concede it by pulling Miers, why can't Double-H?

The Miers precedent cements an extraconstitutional new standard for nominees. Had the framers intended only judges for the court, they would have said so. No doubt some Miers critics will protest a willingness to support nominees who have never sat on the bench, but no president is going to send one forward after this debacle.
"Standards" that have no direct or logical connection to the Constitution are not fairly or honestly describable as "extraconstitutional." The Constitution doesn't specify that only judges can be appointed to the SCOTUS, but neither does it say that anybody can. It is silent on the matter, which means, so far as that document is concerned, well, anybody can. But that has no bearing on whether or not "anybody" should. And that gets back to the Senate's advice & consent function, which was intended by the founders to ensure quality judicial nominees.

Apparently Hugh thinks otherwise. I don't know if he always has or if this downgrading of Supreme Court Justiceship to entry-level job status akin to hamburger-flipping on the graveyard shift at the waffle house is just a petulant overreaction to the Miers debacle. I'm guessing the latter, inasmuch as Hewitt was tub-thumping for Judges Luttig and McConnell before all this fuss began, and nobody could call those two distinguished jurists off-the-street ham & eggers.

This speaks to the bad precedent Hugh himself is trying to set that would only serve to entrench mystery meat-ism. Nobody has to play guessing games about the personalities and judicial philosophies of established judges because they have a body of rulings that any and all can consult. Like 'em or don't like 'em, with an Edith Jones or Emilio Garza or Janice Rogers Brown you know what you're going to get. Whereas a non-judge is a crap shoot depending upon who it is. A law professor, for example, will probably have a significant paper trail to provide the requisite clues as to ideological bent and judicial temperment; with a politician you'd get the former if less so the latter; but with somebody like Harriet Miers who is a complete cipher, and who is a close presidential aide and thus under the umbrella of executive privilege, blacking out access to internal White House documents that might shed desperately needed light on who and what the nominee is, there simply is no way that senators can responsibily exercise their advise & consent responsibilities under the Constitution behind which Double-H tries to hide his self-pitying pique.

And aside from all that, the notion that being one of the top nine individuals in the entire legal profession ought not at least argue for previous judicial experience - particularly since its absence only enhances the risk of newly minted Justices morphing into "philosopher-kings" - just rubs me the wrong way. And that's not "elitism," but a staunch belief in meritocracy - something else that I had thought Hugh Hewitt believed in.

The center of the Miers opposition was National Review's blog, The Corner, and the blog, both with sharp-tongued, witty and relentless writers. They unleashed every argument they could find, and the pack that followed them could not be stopped. Even if a senator had a mind to urge hearings and a vote, he had to feel that it would call down on him the verbal wrath of the anti-Miers zealots.
I didn't think Hugh was a practitioner of whining, either. I dunno, maybe this is his version of a mid-life crisis.

I can't help wondering why, since no Republican senator called publicly for Miers' withdrawal or defeat, they would have needed to urge hearings and a vote. Or how the term "zealot" doesn't apply far more to a cause as bereft of persuasion and awash in blind emotiveness as the Miersians' was.

And still, apparently, is.

It will be the lasting glory or the lasting shame of The Corner and others involved in driving Ms. Miers from the field, depending on what happens, and not just with the next nominee and his or her votes on the court, but all the nominees that follow, and all the Senate campaigns that will be affected, as well as the presidential race in 2008.
If the President now does what he should have done four weeks ago and appoints a stud (or studette) constitutionalist, "The Corner and others involved in driving Miss Miers from the field" may have saved GOP control of the Senate a year from now.

This triumph of the conservative punditocracy will have lasting consequences, and I hope my fears are misplaced. The first returns will come in the decision on parental notification statutes that will be argued before the Supreme Court in late November. Absent a miracle of Senate efficiency, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will cast one of her last votes on the most important abortion-rights case in a few years.
Such heroic nonsense and misplaced faith. Even if Miers had stayed the course and somehow gotten confirmed, all the turmoil surrounding the process - to say nothing of "non-miraculous Senate efficiency" - would have kept her off the Court past the case Hugh references. And if she had somehow whirlwinded through in record time, the balance of her meager background suggests she'd have ruled precisely the way he fears O'Connor will.

Didn't Hewitt consider himself a member of the "conservative punditocracy" not too long ago? No longer, it would seem. Ditto his understanding (assuming he ever did) that it is ideas that are supposed to drive parties, not parties that exist to squash ideas.

And "My president, right or wrong" is not an idea.

~ ~ ~

In the mean time, we've moved on to the next nomination, even if the Miersians won't. And the Democrats are still trying to put themselves over as a faux majority:

Senate Democrats are trying, once again, to "reach out” and "help" President Bush with his next selection to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As with White House counsel Harriet Miers – a trusted Bush confidante who withdrew her nomination Thursday – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hopes to s[windle] the President [into] a[nother] "consensus nominee.”

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me....

[O]nce again, Democrats are trying to have their say and their way regarding a Supreme Court appointment. Reid and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a Senate Judiciary Committee member, penned a letter to the President Friday where they strongly urged him "to refrain from nominating to the Supreme Court any of the handful of judicial nominees who were filibustered during the past four years, or any other similarly divisive candidate.”
I.e. a constitutionalist.

"We urge you to pick one of the many qualified mainstream women and minority candidates who can win widespread bipartisan support in the Senate and among the American people.”
I.e. someone like Harriet Miers.

Someone needs to remind these Democrats that they are the minority party.
Indeed. Someone like...Orrin Hatch?

On the question of a filibuster of possible conservative nominees like Michael Luttig or Sam Alito, Hatch said, "These are people who have great dimension and great caliber in the law - Michael Luttig is the perfect illustration - but if they want a filibuster, we're gonna have to take them on."

"There's really never been a leader-led partisan filibuster in the history of our country with regard to Supreme Court nominees," Hatch said, "or any other member of the judiciary, and I think we're just gonna have to take them on."

"We're not going to put up with that," he added emphatically.

Wow. I hope his bite matches his bark, and is at least fifty-strong. That's a message that is definitely needed to re-stiffen the President's spine as he contemplates Harriet Miers' replacement.

While John Fund and NRO are talking up SEC boss and former GOP congressman Chris Cox - who, for the record, has never been a judge and is someone I would support - the inside word (for whatever that is worth) is that the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court will be [drumroll, please] Samuel "Scalito" Alito:

Multiple sources are telling RedState that Samuel A. Alito, Jr. of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will be named by the President at the next associate justice of the United States Supreme Court as early as Monday....

"Luttig and Alito were the fall backs to Miers. They have both been vetted. Alito seems more palatable. There is no need to drag this out, he's been vetted a million times."

And yet another source tells me that he is convinced Alito is the nominee barring some last minute unforeseen issue. All signs are pointing to Judge Alito right now. Things could change, but as the weekend draws closer it seems more and more likely that Judge Alito will be the nominee and conservatives will have a fight on their hands in the Senate - a very winnable fight.

Sounds good to me.

I know Alito's no Harriet Miers, but how about you, Hugh?

The King and I

...might share the same birthday.

Truly, truly I say unto you, I am not worthy.

But then, you already knew that.

[via the Corner]

Gray Lady Lies

As usual, the New York Times can't be trusted. I don' t know how they retain the readership they have...must be the kook Democrats keeping it afloat. Over at Michelle Malkin's site, she has the story of deliberate misinformation by the New York Times to make a story sound the way they want it to. This is what the Times reported:

Another member of the 1/5, Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr, rejected a $24,000 bonus to re-enlist. Corporal Starr believed strongly in the war, his father said, but was tired of the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq. So he enrolled at Everett Community College near his parents' home in Snohomish, Wash., planning to study psychology after his enlistment ended in August.
But he died in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 during his third tour in Iraq. He was 22.

Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine's girlfriend. ''I kind of predicted this,'' Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. ''A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.''

This is the proverbial "rest of the story."

Yesterday's New York Times on-line edition carried the story of the 2000 Iraq US military death[s]. It grabbed my attention as the picture they used with the headline was that of my nephew, Cpl Jeffrey B. Starr, USMC.

Unfortunately they did not tell Jeffrey's story. Jeffrey believed in what he was doing. He [was] willing put his life on the line for this cause. Just before he left for his third tour of duty in Iraq I asked him what he thought about going back the third time. He said: "If we (Americans) don't do this (free the Iraqi people from tyranny) who will? No one else can."

Several months after Jeffrey was killed his laptop computer was returned to his parents who found a letter in it that was addressed to his girlfriend and was intended to be found only if he did not return alive. It is a most poignant letter and filled with personal feelings he had for his girlfriend. But of importance to the rest of us was his expression of how he felt about putting his life at risk for this cause. He said it with grace and maturity.

He wrote: "Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

What Jeffrey said is important. Americans need to understand that most of those who are or have been there understand what's going on. It would honor Jeffrey's memory if you would publish the rest of his story.

Pathetic, ain't it?

Fitzmas Fizzles

[W]hen an SP runs out of material less than sixty days into a grand jury probe, s/he doesn't fold up shop, but dons his/her lucky fishing hat and goes angling....What happens when a probe is lengthened and lengthened and lengthened? Easy - more and more people testify under oath, and the possibility of an inadvertent omission or misstatement grows exponentially. That would seem to be the only thing on which Fitzgerald could indict anybody, since the Bush White House has been so obsequiously cooperative that any suggestion of conspiracy or obstruction of justice would be bad comedy.

-Me, three days ago

Well, I was pretty damn close, anyway.

Yesterday Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald on two counts each of perjury and making false statements to the FBI and one count of obstruction of justice. If convicted on all five counts he could be sentenced to as much as thirty years in prison.

However, this was the only indictment announced by Mr. Fitzgerald. Karl Rove was not even hinted at in his grand jury-concluding press conference, though he is still "under investigation," which could mean several things but is thought to indicate that he's (mostly) out of the legal woods.

For Libby this is obviously a disaster. He had to resign yesterday, and will now, given his current age and how long he could end up in the klink, be little short of a battle for the rest of his life. I don't think it will come to that, personally; the perjury counts seem to me to be an inducement to a plea bargain, since their threshold of proof is a great deal higher than the false statement charges. In terms of historical parallels it reminds me most closely of the Watergate-related charges filed against Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, another busy White House official whose memory and notes relating to conversations of avid prosecutorial interest diverged to his ultimate detriment.

Right-of-center reaction to the Libby charges was mixed. Here's a sample.

Byron York:

A number of observations tonight from people who know and follow the CIA leak case:

The first is that they view the indictment against Lewis Libby as very strong. One source called it "as clear-cut an indictment" as one would ever see, and the consensus is that Libby is in serious trouble. If Libby lied as much as Fitzgerald accuses him of lying, the sources say, then Libby acted in an astonishingly reckless way.

Paul Meringoff:

The indictment looks strong on its face, and the offenses alleged are serious ones. However, Libby is innocent until Fitzgerald proves otherwise, and we have not yet heard Libby's side of the story.

Ed Morrissey:

In this case, it looks like Libby lied for fear of getting caught up in a political scandal, or he didn't understand that he had not committed a crime until the FBI showed up to interview him. If the indictment has its information correct, Libby acted foolishly in trying to spin a story about how he learned of Wilson's wife. Perhaps he thought everyone else would stonewall Fitzgerald and the FBI, too, but it looks like he was very much mistaken....

Lying to FBI agents and grand juries will get one in a lot of trouble, and five counts make it difficult to argue that he simply got misunderstood. He deserves a fair trial before anyone judges him, but if the indictment truly describes what happened, the VP is better off without him.

John McIntyre: My initial reaction is Scooter Libby is in BIG trouble.

"A career senior federal prosecutor" via Mark Levin:

I have been following Pat's case, but admittedly I am not familiar with all of the nuances of his evidence. However, I have handled perjury prosecutions in the past and I know from personal experience they are extremely difficult to prove. I have to wonder, what evidence does Pat have that Libby consciously misled (or lied) to the Grand Jury, as opposed to simply making a mistake?...

In Libby's case, it is clear the espionage law does not apply, Plume was not undercover, what possible motive would Libby have to lie or obstruct? While motive is not a statutory element of the crime, to prove perjury a prosecutor must give the jury a plausible reason for the defendant to engage in the charged conduct. The only possibility I see, is perhaps Libby "thought" disclosing Plume's identity to reporters violated the law. But as I understand the timeline, by the time he testified before the Grand Jury everyone was well aware that the Espionage Secrets Act did not apply to Plame.

As a career prosecutor I consider lying to the Grand Jury a very serious crime, it undermines our entire system of justice, but just as deleterious are weak cases that lead to bad rulings. Unless I am missing something, I don't see it here.

Michael Ledeen:

I think the indictment stinks. You have to parse it very carefully to figure out whether Libby is accused of lying to the grand jury or the FBI, or to journalists. Go look. I finally concluded that it says that Libby lied to the grand jury (and elsewhere the FBI) when he testified that he told (Cooper, Miller or Russert) things that in fact he did not tell (Cooper, Miller or Russert).

If that is right, it means that this poor man may well have been indicted because his memory of those conversations differs from the journalists'. And Fitzgerald chose/wanted? to believe the journalists' memories. Pfui. To this non-lawyer, that's not good enough to shake up the staff of the vice president of the United States.

Isn't perjury a knowing lie? Why should Fitzgerald assume, even if he thinks he KNOWS that the journalists' memories are all reliable, that Libby didn't misremember the conversations?

John Hinderaker:

As to Libby, the indictment is devastating. If the facts alleged are true - and they are evidently based on the testimony of a considerable number of witnesses - they can't be chalked up to inadvertence, misstatement or differing recollections....if the indictment is true, Libby told a story under oath which differs, not only materially but vitally, from that of close to a dozen other witnesses.

I can't imagine how Libby could have been foolish enough to lie to the grand jury, if indeed that is what happened. As a long-time Washington insider, he must have realized how grindingly thorough this kind of investigation is. How could Libby not have foreseen that his story would be contradicted by every other executive branch employee who was interviewed by the FBI? And how could he not have realized that perjury would be far worse than the original alleged offense? Indeed, Fitzgerald appears to have concluded that Plame was not, in fact, a covert agent, since there is no count in the indictment alleging violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. So if Libby had told the truth, it appears that he would have been fine.
As for my "layman's take," I can only speak from my own experience as a federal grand jury witness.

The first thing you learn in that crucible is how much of what you think you "know" is really just assumptions with various degrees of foundedness (or what the law calls "hearsay"). We speak of things we have heard third-hand as though they are vouched, established, proven facts when in reality if we had to prove them we would be up the proverbial creek.

Never is that brought home more viscerally than when you go into that grand jury room, raise your right hand, and repeat after the bailiff (or the conference room at your attorney's office to give a sworn, videotaped deposition). All of a sudden you realize how little you actually know for certain, and how little you want to say at all for fear that the plaintiff's counsel or prosecutor will catch you in a contradiction, or whip out something from four months before that you haven't thought of once since and had completely forgotten about that undermines your previous testimony, given according to your honest but incomplete recollection.

It's like being stalked by an invisible assassin armed with an invisible gun that shoots invisible bullets. You don't know where he is, or where he's coming from, or when you're hit until the slug pierces your trembling flesh. And then - BAMMO - you're discredited, and if the prosecutor so decides, a "perjurer" and "obstructor of justice."

Did Lewis Libby panic? Was he testifying under a false assumption - either that there was legal exposure under the IIPA or that other White House officials (ordered by the President, you'll recall, to cooperate completely with the investigation) would tailor their own testimony to reinforce his? Or did he genuinely forget the details of two-year old conversations, including who said what to whom and in what chronological order? Given that I would be hard pressed to tell you what I had for lunch last Tuesday, and have been absolutely positive about the nature and details of two-year-old events that proved to be measurably different from how I remembered them, I can, well, testify to how plausible the latter possibility is - or, "more and more people testify under oath, and the possibility of an inadvertent omission or misstatement grows exponentially."

I think that the reason this probe lasted for nearly two years is that it took Mr. Fitzgerald that long to secure a sustainable indictment of anybody on anything in order to justify all the time, effort, and resources put into it. Or, "Sharks eat, swim, and make baby sharks; prosecutors eat, sleep, make baby prosecutors, and, well, prosecute." Special prosecutors don't see their job as determining if a crime has been committed in the assigned episode; they see their job as amassing scalps. Which is why in political prosecutions like "Plamegate" the indictments that usually emerge have little or nothing to do with the original incident(s) in question, but from the investigation itself.

Should Fitzgerald have closed up shop twenty months ago when it was clear that Valerie Wilson was not a "covert agent" and thus nobody at the White House could possibly have "outted" her? Sure. Does the Libby indictment mean that he's an "out-of-control prosecutor"? Well, I'm sure Libby probably feels that way. It was his rotten luck to be the designated victim, as well as his piss-poor judgment in making himself such an obvious target.

But in the bigger picture it's harder to make that case, at least at this juncture. If "P.F. Ness" had been Illinois' answer to Ronnie Earle, he could have indicted Karl Rove anyway, and who knows who else, perhaps even Dick Cheney himself. That would have made a huge splash and Fitzgerald a media hero and left-beloved celebrity for the rest of his life. But he didn't, and indeed stressed even in his remarks yesterday that he was not accusing Libby of "knowingly outting a covert agent."

Now I suppose there's always the possibility that Fitzgerald is throwing the book at Libby in order to coerce him into turning state's evidence against Rove, Cheney, and even the President himself. That would reflect an ambitious prosecutor who is also sufficiently professional to make sure that his ducks are in a row before going after the big fish. But there seems to be little chance of "Fitzmas" coming even that belatedly:

Question: Mr. Fitzgerald, this began as a leak investigation but no one is charged with any leaking. Is your investigation finished? Is this another leak investigation that doesn't lead to a charge of leaking?

Fitzgerald: OK, is the investigation finished? It's not over, but I'll tell you this: Very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried and would you ever end a grand jury investigation. I can tell you, the substantial bulk of the work in this investigation is concluded.

~ ~ ~

A lot of Americans, people who are opposed to the war, critics of the Administration, have looked to your investigation with hope in some ways and might see this indictment as a vindication of their argument that the Administration took the country to war on false premises.

Does this indictment do that?

Fitzgerald: This indictment is not about the war. This indictment's not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel.

This is simply an indictment that says, in a national security investigation about the compromise of a CIA officer's identity that may have taken place in the context of a very heated debate over the war, whether some person - a person, Mr. Libby - lied or not.

The indictment will not seek to prove that the war was justified or unjustified. This is stripped of that debate, and this is focused on a narrow transaction.

And I think anyone's who's concerned about the war and has feelings for or against shouldn't look to this criminal process for any answers or resolution of that.

This brings us to the political fallout for the Bush Administration, which has to be described as minimal at best. On the one hand the Bushophobes received the "gift" of a high-level Bushie being indicted - not convicted of - lying under oath. They'll try to make whatever hay out of it that they can (Ted Kennedy was calling it "the worst thing since Watergate," thus confirming the progress of his descent into pickled senility), but it's difficult to see that "hay" amounting to much. Nobody outside the Beltway knows who the hell Scooter Libby is - heck, before the past few months I had never heard of him - and Fitzgerald's unequivocal demurral of any connection of the indictment to the left-wing urban legend of a "conspiracy at the highest levels of this Administration to expose Valerie Plame, to reveal that she was an undercover a way to punish Joe Wilson and to send a chill to all others who might criticize the Bush White House" has to be the last thing the Bush-hating seditionists wanted to hear.

The argument can be made that the White House was foolish to acquiece to this investigation of "neoWilsonian" mythology in the first place. Doubtless it was done to try and kick this matter beyond the 2004 election, but that just created the potential spectre of an early-second term eruption like Watergate or Iran-Contra. That the Administration has, in all likelihood, dodged a bullet that it fired at itself, speaks to the probe's needlessness and the professionalism of the "invisible stalker" who didn't get carried away - much - and did his job.

It is no solace for Scooter Libby, though, to whom I can only say, "Godspeed," and, "There but for the grace of God go I."

UPDATE: In the latest edition of the Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes points out the GWOT policy paralysis the White House created for itself by siccing a special prosecutor onto the Plamegate non-issue:

[I]n one very important sense, the critics are right to assert a connection between the case for war in Iraq and the Fitzgerald inquiry. It is this: For the better part of two years, as the case grew from a routine Justice Department inquiry to an independent investigation conducted by a no-nonsense special prosecutor, the Bush Administration gradually ceded the debate over the Iraq war to its harshest critics. These two developments are not coincidental....

Of course, nothing is more important than winning on the ground in Iraq. Demonstrating that we are killing terrorists and making steady progress on the political front will do much to blunt the criticism of the war. But if the White House refuses to challenge its critics, and refuses to explain in detail why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and refuses to discuss the flawed intelligence on Iraqi WMD, and refuses to use its tremendous power to remind Americans that Saddam Hussein was, in fact, a threat, then it risks losing the support of those Americans who continue to believe that the Iraq war, despite all of its many costs in blood and money, was worth it.

The Bushies' chronic inability, or unwillingness, to sell sound domestic and foreign policy has always been their chief shortcoming. But it was always at least somewhat mitigated by the boldness, and rightness, of the policies they were unable, or unwilling, to sell. That boldness has been missing ever since the President did his aircraft carrier photo-op two and a half years ago, and the lack is becoming seriously debilitating to his political relevance not even a year into his second term.

Perhaps with "Plamegate" finally behind them the Administration can regain the fearlessness that characterized its early years. Between the looming entitlements apocalypse, the approaching bird flu pandemic, Iranian nuclear belligerence, and "backstage" ChiComm scheming (hell, just read Peggy Noonan's anxiety attack from Thursday's Wall Street Journal), and with three-plus years still left to serve, they're going to need all the boldness they can muster.

[HT: Powerline]

Friday, October 28, 2005

Redemptive Revenge

17 (A) Never pay back evil for evil to anyone; (B) respect what is right in the sight of all men.

18 If possible, (C) so far as it depends on you, (D) be at peace with all men.

19 (E) Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "(F) Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the LORD.

20 "(G) But if your enemey is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

-Romans 12:17-21

Please Stand By

Was about to compose a brief post per my morning tradition but got waylayed by top priority project. Will disgorge my usual daily output later today.

I promise.

UPDATE 9:35PM: Ah, to hell with it. See y'all tomorrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Mercifully, for her own sake most of all and that of the country and the President she will continue to loyally serve, the political tempest that was Hurricane Harriet has finally dwindled and moved off the national stage. Now perhaps we can begin picking up the pieces in her aftermath.

That should really read "its" aftermath, since it was Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court by that was the problem, not the lady herself. By withdrawing her name from consideration she proved her loyalty and friendship to her boss, as well as her humility in reverting to the frank self-assessment that initially led her to decline consideration back in July. I am personally relieved that this woman, whose only real shortcoming was that she simply was not qualified, substantively or tempermentally, to sit on the nation's highest court, will not be subjected to the televised mugging that was looming only ten days away. That would have been toe-curling and wince-inducing to watch.

Given all the "pre-mortems" I've written about the entire Miers saga, there doesn't seem to be much of a point in going into any great length on an autopsy. Suffice it to say that the beginning of the end was the request for Miers-related internal White House documents from GOP Senators Sam Brownback and "Lobotomy" Graham, something the Bushies were never going to grant but without which, and in lieu of little other independent information on the nominee, the Senate was not going to grant confirmation. Majority Leader Bill Frist attached the proverbial toe-tag last night, and the President at last threw in the towel.

If there was any other factor that served as the coup de grace, it was Tuesday's Washington Post story on Miers' dreadful 1993 speeches. After that percolated for twenty-four hours, the steady drip-drip-drip of growing opposition became a raging flood, as even the evangelical leaders that the White House cultivated early on fell away in well-earned embarrassment.

All, that is, except for the masochistic Hugh Hewitt, who remained a hack to the very end:

I think Ms. Miers has been unfairly treated by many who have for years urged fair treatment of judicial nominees.

She deserves great thanks for her significant service to the country. She and the President deserved much better from his allies.

His allies gave them both precisely what was needed, and spared her national humiliation and him a necrotized presidency. And it was delivered entirely fairly and without malice. Unlike an Executive Branch appointment, a judicial nominee is not entitled to confirmation "because the President says so." The Senate's responsibility is to provide "advice and consent," and the President's responsibility is to appoint qualified individuals to the bench. The former has, for going on three years, abdicated its responsibility at Democrat instigation via the abuse of the filibuster and Republican tolerance of it. In the case of Harriet Miers, it was Mr. Bush who dropped the ball. It's up to the Miersian castaways to come to terms with it and get over this Dubya personality cult they've given themselves over to. It does neither them nor the President any favors.

If K-Lo's email box is any indication, they have a long way to go.

Meanwhile, to judge from the left-wing reaction to Miss Miers' withdrawal, you'd think that they woke up on Christmas morning to find coal in their stockings and giftwrapped boxes of socks and Fruit-of-the-Looms under the tree:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a surprising early advocate of Harriet Miers’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, blames conservative Republicans for killing her nomination.

"Apparently, Miss Miers did not satisfy those who want to pack the Supreme Court with rigid ideologues,” Reid wrote in a prepared statement.
The man's jealous. Ideological activism is supposed to be the sole domain of the far-left, groups like NOW and NARAL and People for the Soviet Socialist Way, people like Nan Aron and Ralph Neas. They bark "jump" and Dirty Harry and his geriatric crew wheeze, "How high?" But let conservatives organize and make their voices heard in response to their President reneging on a core and oft-repeated promise to appoint originalists to the judiciary in general and the SCOTUS in particular, and the President bow to that political reality, and suddenly the world is coming to an end.

Reid is also miffed that his scheme didn't work out like he'd planned:

Reid claimed to have recommended Miers to President Bush because he was "impressed with her record of achievement as the managing partner of a major Texas law firm and the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association.”

Bush, perhaps emboldened by the request of a leading Democrat, used these same qualifications countless times in support of his nomination of Miers, and in the face of ferocious criticism from conservative Republicans and pundits.

Reid recommended Miers because he knew if Bush took his bait, it would provoke the very uproar that actually ensued. His Democrats would then "hold their fire," as they in fact did, and then, depending upon how liberal/oligarchist she proved to be, they could either put her over the top for confirmation, permanently estranging the President from his base, or ambush her at her hearings, dealing the White House a humiliating and debilitating defeat.

Whether it was the allure of appointing a trusted confidante (curse you, Andy Card) or a genetic Bush family predisposition for addle-minded bipartisanship or Pappy taking up mind control as a retirement hobby, Dubya fell for it. What Reid didn't count on is that GOP senators would actually be responsive to the concerns of their constituents, in particular the movement activists who have spent decades working toward the day when the courts could be reclaimed for constitutionalism and were not about to be "Souterized" again.

The Supreme Court is already littered with "rigid ideologues"; they're the ones who treat the Constitution like a jurisprudential Etch-O-Sketch. And that's just what the Barney Fife clone insists the President appoint in Miers' place:

"In choosing a replacement for Miss Miers, President Bush should not reward the bad behavior of his right wing base. He should reject the demands of a few extremists and choose a justice who will protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

"Bad behavior." "A few extremists." Coming from the man who at least helped write the book on both phenomena. He knows that his, and his party's, best shot to avoid losing Olympian ground has fallen short. It really is to laugh.

Or is it? You would think that with the lessons of the Miers fiasco fresh, the President would take no chances on another slab of mystery meat, go with an established constitutionalist heavyweight like a Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, or Edith Jones instead, take on the "mother of all battles" that would follow, and fight his nominee through enemy lines to victory, up to and including urging the majority to trigger the Byrd option and end confirmation filibusters. Heck, given how hard he battled for his personal attorney, he'd be obligated to do no less for her replacement.

Maybe he will. Or maybe he is still possessed by the dread of domestic political confrontation that was so obvious in the Miers choice and the accompanying conceit that he can somehow slide another obscure nominee under opposition radar (and the pathetic assumption that he needs to). I don't think he'll go the Miers route again (of course, I never thought he would pull a stunt like that in the first place, so nothing is really certain at this point), and the same issues of cronyism, internal document requests, recusal from war-related cases, and yes, a lack of originalist commitment would still rule out Alberto Gonzales. But a John Roberts type like Maureen Mahoney or a young (45) up-and-comer like Sixth Circuit Judge Jeff Sutton would be possibilities that would seem to be good compromises between "rigid ideology" and "pragmatic confirmability."

Or perhaps Bush is already grumbling, "I'll show THEM" and will announce the appointment of his dog, Barney, to the O'Connor seat, and insist that he's qualified because he's housetrained and "doesn't shed much." And he could always go up in a blaze of g(l)ory and tap Lawrence Tribe.

Bottom line is, the President needlessly feared a fight with Democrats and went the stealth route and provoked a fight with conservatives instead. The difference is he doesn't need the Democrats and will never win them over; he does need the Right. The common thread is that no matter who he appoints, he's going to get a fight. So why not swing for the fences?

As NR concluded its op-ed this morning, "Bush and conservatives on both sides of the Miers debate should now let bygones be bygones, and stand together in the fight they will now almost certainly face."

Or, "Hacks and elitists, unite!"

Toddler's Creed

32 "And now I (A) commend you to God and to (B) the word of His grace, which is able to (C) build you up and to give you (D) the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

33 "(E) I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes.

34 "You yourselves know that (F) these hands ministered to my own needs and to the (G) men who were with me.

35 "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

36When he had said these things, he (H) knelt down and prayed with them all.

37And they began to weep aloud and (I) embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 38 grieving especially over (J) the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again And they were (K) accompanying him to the ship.

-Acts 20:32-38

The N.Y. Times' Unwitting Mea Culpa

I think that the Gay Lady's lead editorial today communicates something quite different from what the "paper of bird cage bottoms" intended:

We have argued that Kosovo is neither prepared for nor deserving of independence. Its Albanian majority has shown no tolerance toward the Serbian minority and little capacity for self-government. Kosovo has no army, only a fledgling police force and powerful mafias. ...

The Security Council would be foolish to use the Ahtisaari mission to extract itself from a bad situation as soon as possible. Even with the best of intentions, an independent Kosovo will require international forces and strong oversight for a long time. In the Balkans, the default mode is violence.

The Times editorial board is thinking barely to the end of its collective nose. They argue against bailing out of Kosovo because to do so would lead to a "return of violence." But they also concede that the elements that give rise to that "default mode" haven't changed in the six and a half years that the Serbian province has been under Western occupation. This is a formula for making that occupation permanent.

Cap'n Ed points out the obvious comparison to Iraq, and the NYT's diametric opposite stance vis-a-vie that theater. Ditto the Anglo-American refurbishing of that country that has it on the fast track to full-fledged democracy versus the pointless, brain-dead bureaucratic stagnation that charaterizes the "international supervision" of Kosovo.

To me this is the flip side of the parallel I have always drawn between Clinton's war of aggression against Serbia and Bush's war of liberation in Iraq. In point of fact everything about the two conflicts were polar policy opposites. Kosovo had no foreign policy context; Iraq fell well within the greater GWOT. Slobadan Milosevic had attacked neither the U.S. nor his neighbors; Saddam Hussein was an established regional aggressor who remained in a legal state of war with the American-led Coalition ever since the first Gulf War. Milosevic had no WMDs and did not seek them; both were true of Saddam. And most egregious of all, in Iraq we defeated a terrorist regime and are repelling the assymmetrical invasion of other terrorist forces, whereas in Kosovo we were attacking Serbia on behalf of the Kosovo Liberaton Army, a Muslim narcoterrorist group.

The short version is it was entirely in our national security interests to liberate Iraq, while the mirror opposite was the case with Kosovo. The latter was Bill Clinton's attempt to fabricate a legacy that wasn't headlined by Gap dresses and the pecker tracks thereon, a quest that will most likely last the rest of his misbegotten life. George W. Bush, by contrast, stands at least a decent chance of transforming the most violent and backward region of the planet into something approximating an oasis of liberty - or at the very least a pacified area that will no longer fly hijacked airliners into American skyscrapers and seek to do a whole lot worse.

Want it even more concise? Clinton's Kosovo adventure was everything the Left dishonestly attributes to Operation Iraqi Freedom. And the Times has now implicitly admitted it.

Frankly, I could care less if the UN and/or NATO want to sit in Kosovo with their collective thumb up their collective ass for years to come. But if the U.S. is going to continue doing the heavy lifting and bill-paying for this futile exercise, the Bush Administration should attach an iron-clad condition to the bargain: employ the equivalent democratization program that is transforming Iraq immediately so as to lay the groundwork for an eventual exit, or we pull out and leave the "world bodies" to their own pitiful devices.

Let's see if Turtle Bay and their Gay Lady cheerleaders can conquer the world for "peace" without Uncle Sam's help. And when they fail and come crawling back to us, dispense with the faux graciousness in handing out the "We told you so"'s .