Friday, December 30, 2005

And rightly so

The Justice Department announced today that it is beginning probes into both the leaking of details about the NSA program to the NY Times but also the leaking of info pertaining to the CIA's "secret prisons" in Europe, a story that ended up in the Washington Post. And rightly so.

These leaks are far more clear-cut than the Plame affair ever was, and the implications far more detrimental to the Administration's effort at maintaining American security. The folks who opened their mouths, for whatever reason, have stepped in it, but big:

(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—

(1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or

(2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or

(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or

(4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

I look forward to seeing and hearing the Plame-zealots find ways to de-legitimize these investigations, all the while watching the Times especially and it's reporters try to fend off the new-found powers of the special prosecutor that they helped unwittingly create.

Michelle Malkin examines the situation with the usual wit and intelligence.

Irony can be so ironic sometimes.

Nuthin' but Blue Skies

We've been promised serious rain, beginning sometime this afternoon and extending through the long weekend. Nothin' but blue today.

Where is it!?

Breaking out the crystal ball

From NRO's 2006 predictions:

Valerie Plame poses in Playboy. Husband continues to complain others outed her.

So strange it could almost happen.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Still waiting for a good argument

Like Mark Levin (who pointed this out yesterday at the Corner), I'm still waiting for an actual legal argument against the President's Executive Order instructing the NSA to listen in on suspected terrorist communication's with Americans here in the US. So far I've seen plenty of opinion, articulate and otherwise but little in the way of a legal case.

That being said, 'til somebody comes up with something, Robert F. Turner's piece for the WSJ sums it all up neatly:

Our Constitution is the supreme law, and it cannot be amended by a simple statute like the FISA law. Every modern president and every court of appeals that has considered this issue has upheld the independent power of the president to collect foreign intelligence without a warrant. The Supreme Court may ultimately clarify the competing claims; but until then, the president is right to continue monitoring the communications of our nation's declared enemies, even when they elect to communicate with people within our country.

Heavy lifting with the UN

A year or so ago, in the wake of the devastating Asian Tsunami Sim and I were treated to more than one long-winded treatise about how the UN was doing,and would continue to do the heavy-lifting in relief efforts. As you might recall, initial government aid from America was small in comparison to amounts sent from other countries early-on in the relief effort.

As a result many dog-piled on the Bush administration for being "stingy" and simultaneously down-played the huge amounts of dollars given privately by Americans wishing to help. Meanwhile, the declaration that the UN would be doing the heavy lifting in the months following the tsunami was something that both Sim and I--loudly and often--resisted.

Well, here we are nearly a year later and I'm reminded of this from a very odd place indeed. Robert Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground in an interview with Hugh Hewitt today made a passing reference to the UN that caught my attention:

RK: Yes, one of the things that I think really kind of unnerved the elite, is that while there are all these conferences and discussions in Washington and elsewhere about should we support Afghan warlords or not, should we create an Afghan national army or not, what should our foreign policy be in Yemen or Colombia or in Iraq. I discovered a world of basically working-class people, who were operationally far more sophisticated and knowledgeable about all these issues, who spoke languages, who had personalities that didn't fit into any one neat division. They were evangelical, but they spoke two exotic languages. People like that while all these discussions are taking place, foreign policy is being enacted on the ground by majors and sergeants and lieutenants, who are utterly oblivious to most of these discussions. And you know what? They're doing these things very, very well.

HH: And they're very clear-eyed. In Yemen, a U.N. retired special forces officer, working for the U.N. now, described his mission as doing favors for everyone until the day came he had to get his people out, and he would collect. That's very clear-eyed.

RK: Yes, and who is this U.N. officer? He's a retired American army special forces lieutenant colonel, and this is proof that I've seen this around the world, that when the U.N. has a real important tactical mission to do, it hires Americans, Australians and Brits to do it. And then the U.N. takes the credit.

Heavy lifting indeed.

P.S. After reading the interview American Grunts is now on the reading list.

CIA Leak Case Takes Unexpected Turn

In a shocking turn of events, former CIA operative Valerie Plame was outed by her 5 year old son during a joint media interview with husband Joseph Wilson at a Washington airport:

"My daddy's famous, my mommy's a secret spy," declared the 5-year-old of his parents, former diplomat Joe Wilson and retired CIA operative Valerie Plame.

And before you think the link is to The Onion, it isn't. It's Reuters. You can't make this stuff up.

Hopefully someone is on the phone reporting the tyke to Patrick Fitzgerald as we speak. I look forward to months of discussion of the boy's legal jeopardy on every show from Hardball to This Week with George Stephanopolous.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Thank you sir, may I have another?

What do Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and Jonathan Finer and Doug Struck have in common? Apparently, they don't do their homework. Read all of Bill Roggio's post. It's well worth the price of admission.

Additionally, if you're interested, the beatdown continues at Tapscott's Copy Desk and The Belmont Club.

Another shameful performance from Big Media. Aren't they supposed to be the professionals?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What We're Dealing With, Part ___

Sorry, can't remember which number this is in the series.

So why am I on such an environmental tilt this morning? Perhaps it's because of this article, which once again demonstrates that the debate over the environment is filled with irreality and that one needs to reach far beyond the headlines if he or she wants to get a real handle on things.

Remember the Kyoto Treaty? You know, the treaty negotiated by 156 countries with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions? The same treaty which President Clinton negotiated and signed but never submitted to the Senate for ratification? Yes, the treaty which President Bush has also refused to send to the Senate. You know, the one that Bush has been roundly criticized by people and governments around the world (most specifically Europe) for not sending to the Senate? That one.

Well, it seems that only two European countries, Britain and Sweden, are currently honoring their commitments established under the Kyoto Protocol.

Although the US is portrayed as the ecological villain for refusing to sign up to the agreement, 10 out of the 15 European Union signatories - including Ireland, Italy and Spain - will miss their targets without urgent action, the Institute for Public Policy Research found. France, Greece and Germany are given "amber warnings" and will only achieve the objectives if planned policies are successfully carried out.

But wait, there's more!

It seems that in Europe, CO2 emissions are actually increasing:

Recent figures show carbon dioxide emissions increasing in 13 out of the 15 countries, including Britain, the report says.

While I am concerned about global warming and the environment more generally, and would like to see the US do more in both of these areas, isn't it the height of hypocrisy to condemn Bush and the US for not signing a treaty with which even signatories cannot or will not comply? Isn't it rather silly to argue that Bush paved the road to bad relations with Europe by not signing on to a treaty with which he had legitimate concerns (primarily the domestic economic costs and the fact that developing nations like China and India did not have targets for reduction, even though they are the greatest source of emmissions growth)? Especially, now, in light of the fact that most of Europe is not even compliant? Isn't it better to stay out of a treaty you cannot commit to rather than to sign up and miss the targets? Where is the outrage in Europe? Where are our own dmoestic environmentalists? Why are they not marching in protest of Italy, Ireland, Spain, Germany and France?

The fact is that European governments have been triple-dipping on Kyoto for far too long. They received short-term political mileage out of signing the protocol. Then, they used the US as a whipping boy for not signing. But what many of us who have followed the situation have known for several years is that European governments realized that they were not compliant and would not make the targets set out by the agreement. So not only were they making political hay at America's and Bush's expense, they were doing so knowing all the while that they themselves were unlikely to meet their obligations under Kyoto. Stultifying, to say the least! Of course, domestic environmental groups and Bush opponents have been making similar arguments since Kyoto was signed, and many of them knew the truth as well. So don't go looking to any of those folks if you're in search of intellectual honesty or the straight scoop on the environment.

That's just what we're dealing with.

74 Degrees in December

You'd think I live in Lompoc! So far so good in the post-Gotham era. The Simster's got a nice gig which hasn't gotten too ridiculous (yet), he's enjoying a mild winter and a lower cost of living. He's also enjoying closer proximity to the all-important familial units. Life's pretty good.

Soon he'll be investing in an ozone depleting, Middle East Oil-dependent SUV which will serve as a big FU to the naybobs who don't realize that lawnmowers are responsible for more pollution and that private jets and any cars produced prior to 1995 are probably more fuel inefficient. Similarly, I'll be sticking it to those Greens out there by renting a small, albeit environmentally unfriendly house. Don't let the lawn and trees fool you. Urban and suburban sprawl are far more harmful to the environment than a highly efficient and population dense city like, say, New York. Don't believe me? Ask the Sierra Club.

And I'm eating plenty of brown food.

Alive and kicking

Still here, and so are the family visitors. Needless to say, as if it were possible, blogging will be light-to-non-existent for a couple of more days.

In the meantime, check out the reflections of Capt. James S. Eadie, Bill Kristol's examination of Paranoia on the Left, and a final review of the season's retail numbers.

A note on the retail numbers; that's not what I heard yesterday...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Much ado

The NSA's 'eavesdropping' of conversations involving American citizens has been all over the media, print and broadcast. Who's getting it right?

Hugh has done yeoman's work on this subject, starting with his own observations as a professor of Constitutional law, moving on to his interview with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter (in which Alter revealed that he hadn't done all his homework before calling the President a 'law-breaker'), and now his interview with noted liberal law professor Cass Sunstein, who has been outspoken on this as well.

Likewise, the gentlemen at Powerline have written several posts fine posts on the subject. This one ties many of them together.

From Hugh's interview with Professor Sunstein:

HH: Do you consider the quality of the media coverage here to be good, bad, or in between?

CS: Pretty bad, and I think the reason is we're seeing a kind of libertarian panic a little bit, where what seems at first glance...this might be proved wrong...but where what seems at first glance a pretty modest program is being described as a kind of universal wiretapping, and also being described as depending on a wild claim of presidential authority, which the president, to his credit, has not made any such wild claim. The claims are actually fairly modest, and not unconventional.

Just screaming about an abuse of power doesn't make it an abuse of power. I have yet to read a criticism of the project that makes a solid legal case against the NSA's activities.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

'Tis the season

Snow in Lompoc!?

No, not in Lompoc. Reno, home to old friends who emailed this along with a family shot this afternoon. At first I was's the essence of Christmastime what with the snow and the cold.

Then I thought for a moment about how I'm struggling to re-acclamate myself to the cool California nights and decided they can keep their snow!

Sure is nice to look at, though!

What troubles your constituents, Senator?

According to Babs:

Unchecked surveillance of American citizens is troubling to both me and many of my constituents.

As an unfortunate constituent of Senator Boxer, allow me to say with total and absolute clarity that I will never be half as troubled by the NSA's eavesdropping as I am with the very presence of such as she in the Senate Chamber for these last 13 years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Don't flatter yourself

Just because my dogs happen to exhibit more common sense on a daily basis than I've ever seen from you, you ought not to jump to conclusions. Hear it from the horse's mouth here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

People Who Shouldn't Matter...But Do.

According to Time Magazine, these two are "People Who Mattered in 2005." And in this example of them trying to keep their deep cover identities a secret, you can see why.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

4th and 35

It's fourth down, you need 35 yards for a first down to keep the drive alive. Not very likely, even against a bad defense. So what will you do? Punt.

Apparently, politics is football to the Democrat party. When I saw this yesterday I was flabbergasted:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday that Democrats should not seek a unified position on an exit strategy in Iraq, calling the war a matter of individual conscience and saying differing positions within the caucus are a source of strength for the party.

Pelosi said Democrats will produce an issue agenda for the 2006 elections but it will not include a position on Iraq. There is consensus within the party that President Bush has mismanaged the war and that a new course is needed, but House Democrats should be free to take individual positions, she sad.

"There is no one Democratic voice . . . and there is no one Democratic position," Pelosi said in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.

Took a double take to be sure what I was reading. The Democrats will have no official position on the single biggest issue of the day?

Just when I had begun to think they couldn't abdicate any more responsibility on the issue, we have this. 'Course there is a bright side I guess.

It's not going to matter what Howard Dean has to say on the subject, as his Congressional leader has done her best to make him irrelevant. That, in and of itself, may do more than anything else to improve their chances in '06!

Friday, December 16, 2005

The roundups

Protein Wisdom with a window into the soul of the anti-everything left.

Michelle Malkin with a sampling from multiple blogs and such.

Last but not least, Pajamas Media was everywhere there was commentary on the elections.

As for me, all I can offer to my friends who would wash their hands of everything we've tried to do there, to tell the families of over 2100 American men and women that their fathers and brothers and sisters died for nothing, is a heartfelt "Bite me!" You obviously want nothing to do with the effort, so fine.

We'll do it without your sorry asses.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Name that blogger

And they say I have no sense of humor...

My Dogs are Smarter (Or How to Cure the Holiday Blahs)

I went Christmas shopping for my wife on Tuesday night and for the first time since we've been back in California, wished that I weren't.

It was a cold evening, one I'd thought I dressed for but really hadn't. The sweater I was wearing didn't do nearly enough to warm me in the slight breeze coming off the ocean nor to offer enough protection against the damp air. I didn't want to be outside at all, but it was one of the few remaining evenings I'd have to shop, so off I went.

As for shopping itself, I've known since before we moved here that Lompoc suffers from the same things any small town of less than 50,000 does: there aren't a lot of places to shop, and if you really want the good stuff, you've gotta drive down to Santa Barbara or head north to Santa Maria or San Luis. But I was not deterred; after all, my list was small and consisting of relatively minor items, things that should be easy to find almost everywhere.

In addition, I was going to stop by the local Sears to take a look at dishwashers since we both want to replace our current offering. Shouldn't be long at this, I thought. On that point I was right, but also very wrong.

It took me barely more than an hour to hit all the major stores in town. Sears, Mervyn's, Petco, Walgreens...check (Those last two on actual errands)! The store I really wanted to spend time in was closed by the time I got there. Figures...

That's when it started hitting me...the futility of the evening specifically but also a nagging sense of "I'm trapped in hell!" Small towns have many upsides, but also frustrations and I have yet to adjust to those that are present here. Tuesday night I felt them strongly for the first time.

I arrived home empty-handed but for the couple of items I had to pick-up for my wife and dogs and completely frustrated. The frustration had me cranky before I even walked in the front door.

My wife had been busy working on Christmas stuff in the garage and reported that the dogs had been restless the entire time I was out. Something that was easily confirmed by the way they joyfully greeted my return and were seeking attention from dad.

At that point, my wife knowing me as well as she does, proposed I take the dogs and hit the drive-thru at Starbucks. The combination of two of my favorite things, she felt certain, would counter the obvious frustration I was showing.

She was right. Watching the way the dogs wait expectantly and with much delight to run out to the car is a simple but sweet pleasure that brings a smile. On this evening, a much needed smile.

Sure enough, a car ride with the girls and a near-perfect cup of Verona did much to wipe away the frustrations of the evening. Honestly, though I will never turn down a cup of coffee under most any circumstance, all I really needed was a few minutes with the girls.

Free fall

More bad economic news:

A record plunge in the cost of gasoline pushed consumer prices down by the largest amount in 56 years in November while industrial production posted a solid gain.

The new government reports Thursday provided further evidence that the economy is shaking off the blows delivered by a string of devastating hurricanes. But analysts cautioned that the huge drop in consumer prices was overstating the improvement in inflation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What if everything you thought you knew was wrong?

Margaret Friedenauer, a reporter for the Daily News-Miner in Fairbanks blogs about just that. Upon arriving in Mosul, her world it seems is somewhat off-kilter.

Read it. Think about it.

Succint and to the point

For the first time, almost ever, President Bush gets to the point. In his speech today at the Wilson Center, he had the following to say about people playing politics with Iraq:

One of the blessings of our free society is that we can debate these issues openly, even in a time of war. Most of the debate has been a credit to our democracy, but some have launched irresponsible charges. They say that we act because of oil, that we act in Iraq because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. Some of the most irresponsible comments about manipulating intelligence have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence we saw, and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These charges are pure politics.

Put about as plainly as can be. Again, as I've said before, ask not only who said what, but why they said it. You'll learn alot about why they say what they say now.

That was my favorite graph in the entire effort. Though I also liked this:

Victory will be achieved by meeting certain clear objectives: when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can protect their own people, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot attacks against our country. These objectives, not timetables set by politicians in Washington, will drive our force levels in Iraq. As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when victory is achieved, our troops will then come home, with the honor they have earned.

Another good speech from the President as part of his renewed effort at explaining why we are where we are in Iraq. This one makes a clear case for victory; why we must achieve it and how we will get there.

Hey Clint

I wonder if you'll take some advice and constructive criticism. Not from me, but from one of your own:

And now, some in the party, incredibly including the Senate Minority Leader are making it inhospitable for their former Vice Presidential standard bearer, Joe Lieberman. Here's some news for them - they are not only telling Joe that the Democratic Party does not have room for his views, they are also communicating to millions of Americans who might support this war or not, but find defeat unacceptable, that they are not welcome in this exclusive political club. There are some progressive hawks in this country, but it is unlikely that they will pull the Democratic lever with the message that it is being sent by the leaders of the party.

Here's another insight for Reid, Pelosi and Dean - you are the minority party. You control nothing in this town. And it is unlikely that you ever will or should control anything as long as you apply a litmus test on prominent elected officials. Get used to the smaller offices with the poor view.

But, there is irony and mirth in all of this. In a week that the Chairman of the Party played into the hands of the GOP by suggesting that we could not win in Iraq, his brother launched a crusade of criticism against Joe Lieberman. It appears that the entire Dean clan is committed to ensuring that the Democrats remain in the minority. What a scream!

So, listen up Democrats, you do not enjoy the luxury of contracting your ranks. If you want to expand the party, a purge is not what the doctor ordered.

Smart people in your party see the damage you do to yourselves when you are reduced to screaming "Rove!, Libby!, Bush!" over and over again as if it means something insightful and limit your take on Iraq to criticism minus a vision. You are offering the rest of us nothing.

Even were we to share your views about the current administration, what are you offering us as it's alternative? The prescient vision of Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha and others who have magically discerned that our case for war was a fraud despite being unable to prove it?

You were always smarter than the shrill voices who screamed "Apologist!," at we who disagreed with you. It still pains me to see you still holding ranks with them.

Smart people in your party want to put it back in power for the right reasons; they think they have a better alternative. Be one of those smart people again and offer us something useful.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tennis, anyone?!

No, thanks! What a pretentious load of crap!

At a certain point in the near future, if the current oligarchy cannot be removed via the ballot, direct political action may become an urgent and compelling mission. It may then be necessary for many people in many walks of life to put their bodies on the line. For the moment, however, although pressing and profound questions have arisen about whether the current government is even legitimate, i.e., properly elected, there still remains a chance to remove this government peacefully in the 2008 election. (Or am I living in a dream world?)

Glenn is right: "Feverish," indeed. Apparently, Tennis is ready to join a militia, since he's saying the kind of stuff they were saying in 1995.

Better yet, I'm reminded of this. In particular, one volume written by an otherwise respectable Christian pastor who at one point asked his readers whether they trusted the Clinton administration to go quietly in 2000 in the wake of any potential major disruptions. Given what we knew of a certain President's "character" and all.

It was irresponsible, non-sensical rhetoric then and it is most certainly irresponsible, non-sensical rhetoric now. The system is bigger than either the President or his critics.

And thank God!

Always remember

"Sister's head is not a chew toy!"

Monday, December 12, 2005

A baseless urgency

Frederick Kagan's line, not mine. His Weekly Standard piece discusses just that vis-a-vis the recent Democrat calls for withdrawal from Iraq in the face of improving situation reports (AP's interpretation not withstanding) and evident progress.

Are they that politically motivated that they must screech and scream despite what their own eyes and ears might tell them?

YOUR media at work.

Just stopping in for a strafing-run, folks, so don't panic...

But I came across this article about Iraqi public opinion this morning and just had to vent. Check out this article found on Yahoo news, courtesy of Will Lester of the Associated Press.

The headline reads "Poll: Most Iraqis Oppose Troops' Presence." First of all, that is not a shocker. We knew that, didn't we? After all, what people anywhere want to be occupied or have foreign troops on their soil? So why exactly is that the lede on a poll of Iraqi public opinion?

But scroll down. No, keep going. Further. Just a little more. Nope, one more paragraph. Make sure you're at paragraph eight.

A fourth of those surveyed, 26 percent, say U.S. forces should leave now, and another 19 percent say troops should leave after those chosen in this week's election take office. The other half say U.S. troops should stay until security is restored, 31 percent, until Iraqi forces can operate independently, 16 percent, or longer, 5 percent.

What? You mean a full 50% say they don't want American troops to leave until the country is stabilized? On a scale of 1-10, how much more interesting or insightful is THAT piece of data than the fact that Iraqis wish American troops weren't in their country? Or phrased a different way, that American troops weren't necessary? An 8, maybe? So why is it buried at the bottom of the story? Why is a non-earth shattering poll result the lede while a fairly important one is buried? Why is The Duhhh Award of the Week result the headline while several more important metrics are reported but basically glossed over?

Although the number of Iraqis supporting continued US presence until the security situation is resolved is down somewhat since late 2003 (also an interesting, but unreported fact that would have been worthy of analysis), the number of Iraqis that prefer a continued American presence to a Murtha-Dean-Kerry White-Flagged withdrawal has remained fairly steady. In fact, I've found it remarkable that it has been both so steady and typically unreported by our media over time. It's not just Mr. Lester. Our media habitually reports no-brainer poll results that say Iraqis want American troops out. They also habitually fail to mention that the Iraqi people don't mean today. Why do we never see a headline like this:

Poll: Iraqis support troop withdrawal after security restored

Or how about:

Poll: Iraqis want us out. Just not today, tomorrow, next week or anytime soon. John Murtha and Howard Dean are you listening?

Wouldn't that be a responsible way to report the poll results? Wouldn't that be accurate? MORE accurate?

But by the same token, wouldn't it be just as accurate to use headlines like these for the same article (Actual reported verbiage from article in parentheses)?

Poll: 75% of Iraqis confident about upcoming elections (Three-quarters say they are confident about the parliamentary elections scheduled for this week.)

Poll: 66% of Iraqis optimistic about immediate future (More than two-thirds expect things in their country to get better in the coming months.)

Poll: Iraqis say security is improving (Six in 10 say local security is good, up from half in February 2004.)

Poll: Iraqis confident in police and military (Two-thirds express confidence in the Iraqi army and in police.)

In fact, wouldn't any of these headlines have been more responsible, more informative and more germane to the national debate we are having about progress metrics and timelines for withdrawal than the mindless Poll: Most Iraqis Oppose Troops' Presence? Wouldn't any of my proposed headlines have encouraged a larger readership of the article? I tend to skip over the Sun Will Rise in the East, Set in the West hedlines I come across. Don't you? I'm more likely to read something which challenges assumptions or has particular relevance to policy debates. And yet, Lester, the AP and most of our news outlets choose not to work that way.


When you see an article like this broken down and analyzed as I have done, don't you find yourself wondering whether other articles about Iraq do precisely the same thing even though they are not so readily deconstructed? Don't you wonder whether reporters make the effort to suss out the other side of the story, much less report it? When I come across such unbalanced and shameful reporting, I find myself thinking we should be even more committed to our efforts on the ground in Iraq. A withdrawal now seems to me to be a capitulation to biased media reports and those who are leveraging the rough-going in Iraq out of political expediency.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Don't be a cry baby!

What? You didn't know they stunk when you took all their money?

Miguel Tejada, in his best impersonation of a selfish all-star:

"I've been with the Orioles for two years and things haven't gone in the direction that we were expecting, so I think the best thing will be a change of scenery," Tejada told The Associated Press during a telephone interview in his native Dominican Republic.

Really? You didn't know they were run poorly when you signed the deal?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Good times, bad times

Seems to make no never-mind as far as the US economy is concerned. Revised economic numbers released yesterday for 3Q 2005, put a nice pair of legs to this bit of analysis.

Highlights include:

-The BEA's second look at third-quarter gross domestic product showed that the economy grew by a robust 4.3% annual rate, even with the business shutdowns caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

-For all of 2005, real GDP is on track to expand by 3.7%.

-The GDP revisions show real consumer spending increased at an annual rate of 4.2% in the third quarter. That's better than the 3.9% pace previously estimated, and it occurred during a quarter when gasoline prices hit more than $3 per gallon.

The sky is falling indeed!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Not surprised

Maybe some are, but I am most certainly not. Howard Dean has a big mouth, and he's not afraid to run it. Frankly, it was just a matter of time before he stepped in it as DNC chair, and his statements on Monday look like the real thing.

We here were expecting this kind of thing all along:

The more Dean the better: As long as Dean keeps talking, the Democrats are showing themselves to be farther to left than even most Republicans realized. His rhetoric has become so overheated that prominent congressional liberals have distanced themselves from Dean, and our own governor doesn't want anything to do with him when he visits the state.

If they thought so in June, what must they think now!?

Strong antiwar comments in recent days by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have opened anew a party rift over Iraq, with some lawmakers warning that the leaders' rhetorical blasts could harm efforts to win control of Congress next year.

Notice that Dems see it too: "Dean's take on Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa: Both are uninformed and unhelpful," said Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), recalling Dean's famous election-night roar after stumbling in Iowa during his 2004 presidential bid.

Dean's Monday remarks represent, in the purest form, the position of the Democratic base. That is the same base that didn't get them a win in '04 and frankly will never, by itself, put Democrats in power. People like Rep. Marshall are wise to slap this kind of rhetoric down fast and hard.

The problem is summarized nicely with these words from a Democratic strategist: "We have not blown our chance" of winning back the House but "we have jeopardized it," said a top strategist to House Democrats, who requested anonymity to speak freely about influential party leaders. "It raises questions about whether we are capable of seizing political opportunities or whether we cannot help ourselves and blow it" by playing to the liberal base of the party.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

What with the house only half-decorated, too many things on the schedule and the obligatory pre-holiday cold having struck yesterday afternoon!

I am a happy man...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Fear and loathing in WalMart

On the heels of the Washington Post piece about the economic good foisted on communities around the nation (often in spite of themselves) by Walmart, comes this study (actually released a week before Thanksgiving but highlighted over at The Corner mid-week) that informs us that there truly is nothing new under the sun:

The current public debate surrounding Wal-Mart fits within a historical context of democratic responses to changes in the retail sector. From Sears Roebuck and the emergence of the mail order industry in the late 19th century to the various chain stores that emerged during the 1920s, the American public has proven wary of retail innovations. Wal-Mart, as the largest retailer in America and the pioneer of the large discount chain store, is currently experiencing this same public wariness regarding its business practices and its role in the American economy.

The executive summary offers examples of previous retail innovation that has similarly drawn the ire of the public and men and women who govern them over previous decades in Sears Roebuck and Woolworth's. Both innovators in their industry who endured much scrutiny very similar in nature to what WalMart faces today.

Well, what of it all? Is there really a point here? Most certainly!

Simply put, Wal-Mart and the current tempest surrounding it's policies and practice is yet another in a long line of such furies thrown up at innovative retailers as they re-define their industry while creating economic goods all along the way. The study makes clear the benefits to many that WalMart creates:

This report additionally asks the question of whether or not Wal-Mart is good for America, analyzing how Wal-Mart treats its employees, its effect on the American economy, and on small towns and small retailers. The conclusions reached are that Wal-Mart fits very well within a pattern of retail innovation and displacement, by which consumers benefit from new systems of retail...

Likewise, they make clear that the criticisms most often made are not necessarily confined to WalMart alone, finding that...Wal-Mart is very much in line with the rest of the American retail sector in terms of benefits and pay, and that the dissolution of Main Street retail is not caused by Wal-Mart per se, but is part of a larger overall change in consumer habits. Considering the discount retail sector as a whole, most of the criticisms directed toward Wal-Mart are largely shared throughout the industry.

What of my interest? Why have I recently and in the past as well, posted to the defense of WalMart? Am I a corporatist? Am I a shill for this particular corporation? No, and no again.

I am simply loathe to allow unfounded, inaccurate criticism go unanswered. It is the same reason I have often been called an apologist for the Bush administration. For the purposes of clarification, allow me to make something clear.

I will gladly criticize when there are valid criticisms to be made. Calling the Bush administration a bunch of liars when there is no actual, real evidence of manipulation and or outright lying is not a valid criticism. Likewise, many things said of WalMart and their practices follows the same lines; the facts about what WalMart offers to a community show demonstrably that there are many benefits. Benefits that far exceed the real and potential negatives.

That is why I commented on the Post piece. It's also why I wrote in reaction to the CEI release. There are always real criticisms to be made of almost anybody and any company. Why then do people feel the need to go out of their way making ridiculous and flat-out inaccurate ones?

And here's where I offer a criticism of my own: Bentonville ought to get off their duff and communicate with customers, with communities, with anyone who will listen. The CEI release is dead-on in it's close:

...Wal-Mart brings great advantages in price and selection, especially to consumers who are most in need of low prices, and maintains high productively across the U.S. economy. Where the company is failing is in its belated recognition of its obligation to engage in open communication with citizens about its business practices and as to why it ultimately provides a benefit to American consumers and to the broader American economy.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Friends and Allies

After seeing this call to arms last week, I am proud to report that Lacy and Cassie will stand with Cosmo, to fight off this challenge all on their own if need be!

Football weather

Football, crisp air, a breeze. I love it. Normally, anyway.

We caught a glimpse of it a couple of weeks ago but then got some Santa Ana's followed by rain. It hit again this weekend! Just in time for rivalry weekend.

Sadly though, there was no time for the game. Appears I didn't miss much.

Is there joy without sadness?

We received rotten news last night. The kind of thing that takes wind out of sails.

Our friends Roland and Sandy have been married for a about two-and-a-half years. They are the proud parents of a baby daughter. Yet their life has been anything but easy together.

On their honeymoon, a day-hike turned into a life-threatening fall and injury for Roland. One that required numerous surgeries and pins and months of rehab to find him only now--nearly 2 1/2 years later--returning to a partial work schedule in the ER.

Some months ago, with daughter Brooke only a matter of months old, Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Seeming an impossibility given her age and overall good health, it none the less was true and last night we received word of the updated prognosis.

Sandy will undergo a double-mastectomy this month, for the cancer was present in both breasts and in fact has spread. How far remains uncertain.

After the surgery will come a 6-month regimen of chemo-therapy designed to go after the disease where it has spread. And there is of course the un-spoken fear that it has spread past the point of dealing with.

Here is where we are; left to wonder why such a couple has known so much difficulty and sorrow in such a short time together. Why is a still-young woman, now a mother, forced to fight for her life from a disease that normally afflicts women more advanced in age?

We are careful not to question God's sovereignty, for He is. He wills that it should rain on both the just and the un-just, yet we are wondering aloud exactly what it is that God would do in a situation like this and why.

Our hearts break for Sandy, for Brooke and for her daddy. At the same time we seek God's comfort for them, His understanding and most of all His peace and strength to persevere.

Friday, December 02, 2005

For all the Chicken-little's out there

Just what is going on with the US economy?

Over-paid or under-appreciated?

Everybody's favorite San Diego Padre gets a nice deal this week to stay put:

The two-time All-Star will earn $9 million per season from 2006-08, with a $9 million club option for 2009 that could raise the value of the deal to $36 million over four years. The team has a $3 million buyout for 2009. Giles made $7 million each of the last two seasons.

Can't wait to read the reaction to this from a certain someone!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The case for Articulate

I said this morning that the Bush Administration needs (has needed) to be more articulate on Iraq:

On the one hand, people oughtta pay better attention and on the other, the Administration needs to be more articulate on the whole entire subject of Iraq!

Seeing this from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs then was another in a string of "Say it here, it happens there!" moments I've enjoyed over recent months. I could only read and close my eyes, dreaming fondly about the impact of two years' articulate expression of progress in Iraq:

The military hasn't done a good enough job of explaining to the American people what is going on in Iraq and the political and military progress there, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday.

Even so, Gen. Peter Pace, warned that battling terrorism will be a long war.

What really killed me was Senator Kerry's comments: "The large presence of American troops in Iraq gives credence to the notion of occupation and in fact delays the willingness and ability of Iraqi troops to stand up," Kerry said on NBC's "Today" show.

"Until the president really acknowledges that that large presence is part of the problem, and begins to set a benchmark process for transferring responsibility to the Iraqis, we're going to continue with more of the same," he said.

In inimitable Kerry fashion, it seems the good Senator renounced the presence of US troops on the ground in Iraq only after ridiculing the Administration for not having enough of them on-hand for the last two-plus years!

My Dogs are smarter!

What's wrong with politics?

Everything that these comments embody.

You're on the right track there Mr. Johnson...a little more anger with a dash of teenage-angst and you'll find the political sweet-spot that'll bring the center running your way!

One mouth, two messages

(Hat tip to Protein Wisdom) It appears that everybody's favorite Democratic fundraiser, Terry McAwful had some interesting criticism of President Bush's speech on Iraq yesterday.

Jeff at PW summarized it this way:

1) We now see that the Taliban is reorganizing in Afghanistan—all because Bush (the inaccurate argument goes) “pulled the troops too soon” and “rushed them into Iraq” before the Afghan job was completed. In short, leaving to allow a sovereign Afghanistan to try to stand on its own two feet was a disastrous mistake.

2) The US needs to pull troops out of Iraq so that the Iraqis can handle the problems themselves and become a legitimate sovereign country rather than the protectorate of an imperialist US military. In short, leaving to allow a sovereign Iraq to stand on its own two feet is a moral, political, and strategic imperative.

So just to be sure I've got it...what we ought to do in one country is the exact same thing that is alleged to have not worked in another?

Seems fairly consistent with Dem arguments about how the problem is the "occupation" and the presence of too many US boots on the ground; they only get to that part of the argument though after they've finished telling you how Bush screwed everything up by not sending enough troops...

"Yeah, the one with the big nativity scene on the front!"

In a bit of delicious Christmas irony, Conservative talker Kevin McCullough aims to kill the ACLU with kindness:

We are excited to be launching the opportunity today...between now and Christmas we are asking you to send the ACLU direct "MerryChristmas" cards.

And we aren't talking about these generic "happy holiday" (meaning nothing) type of cards...Go get as "Christmas" a Christmas card as you can find... something that says.. "Joy To The World", "For Unto Us A Child Is Born", but at least "Merry Christmas", put some of your own thoughts into it, sign it respectfully and zip it off in the mail to

"Wishing You Merry Christmas"
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

Things I would have talked about yesterday

Except that, know.

Proudly smearing since...earlier this year...

First off, Cindy Sheehan and her publisher got a little testy about the use of certain images the other day that implied her book signing was a failure of comic-proportions:

Sheehan accused “right-wing” sites of “spreading a false story that nobody bought my book at Camp Casey on Saturday. That is not true, I sold all 100 copies and got writer's cramp signing them. Photos were taken of me before the people got in line to have me sign the book. We made $2000 for the peace house.”

Her publisher, Arnie Kotler at Koa Books, meanwhile released a letter to her supporters, charging that “AP and Reuters posted photos - I can't imagine why - of Cindy sitting at the book table between signings, rather than while someone was at the table. And now the smear websites are circulating an article, with these photos, that Cindy gave a signing and nobody came. It's simply not true…. the benefit books signing in Crawford, Texas on November 26, 2005 was well attended and a huge success.”

Lol...meanwhile the photographer posits that maybe 5 people had come in prior to the time he was there.

On the plus side, does that make me a right-wing smear-site for having published the photo here?

Let the push-back begin!

Lots of great coverage of the President's speech on Iraq yesterday to be found here and here.

Lots of good stuff in the speech as well. My personal favorite is still the NATO militaries line.

Bottom line: I like Henke's summation: It may be the first time this particular document has been released, the first time the strategy has been discussed in so much detail—but this isn't the "first time" the White House has disclosed the strategy for victory in Iraq, and the strategy isn't "new". This is something reporters really should know.

Of course us Bush apologists knew this already. Just like we knew that, while WMD were a prominent part of the Administration's argument to go to war, it was not the only reason offered.

On the one hand, people oughtta pay better attention and on the other, the Administration needs to be more articulate on the whole entire subject of Iraq!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Not quite myself

I wanted to blog this morning. For that matter, I'd like to blog now as I have some free minutes. But I do not feel right today. It began with a headache that was boring a hole in my right eye when I got up and went on from there.

I've searched the archive, but I don't see anything about employees running out of meetings to go puke in the men's room. Oh, well. First time for everything I guess.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Where in the World is Waldo?

Well, guess. As I look out my hotel window, I see the majestic illuminated sight of this building:

The new job is off to a flying start, but the irony of location is not lost on me. Take the good with the bad and all that jive. Anyway, my head is swimming with dos, donts, healthcare options, emerging turf battles, and new technology gadgets that will make sure I can be reached anywhere, anytime by anyone...

Anyway, just wanted to jump on and share the rankling irony of my GPS positioning with what's left of our audience. Glad to see the Big Man is back in action and I'll do my best to jump back into the fray as time allows. Hopefully we'll get this thing back on track.

The madness of King Mike

Mike Martz wants back on the side-lines...this season! According to the AP:

"This is the best I've felt," Martz told TV station KMOV on Tuesday. "And when you feel this good, you feel like you should be working."

For the love of all things holy, please don't!

I've been a Rams fan since the late 70's. Seen good times and very bad times. And I've seen Martz-times.

I was a supporter even after he took a superior team and underachieved in SB XXXVI; I was a supporter even after he limped through a horrible 2002 season; I was a supporter even after he discarded a former MVP quaterback in favor of an unkown.

But I'm tired. Tired of the pride, tired of the poor management, tired of the whole thing.

Thanks but no thanks, Mike. Ride off into the sunset with your health and spare yourself and us fans any further heartache. You were the greatest almost-all-time-great head-coach-ever-but-not-quite.

Lets leave it at that, shall we?

Earth to the Anti-Walmart caucus

Anybody home?

I must shake my head and laugh. The city council in Santa Maria closed the door on Wal-Mart in that city a couple of weeks ago. And the newsroom at the Times, for the most part, was supportive of the decision.

I like Steve--he's affable and will talk to anybody, but I think he got it wrong on this. And Mallaby's piece hits it on the head:

But let's say we accept Dube's calculation that retail workers take home $4.7 billion less per year because Wal-Mart has busted unions and generally been ruthless. That loss to workers would still be dwarfed by the $50 billion-plus that Wal-Mart consumers save on food, never mind the much larger sums that they save altogether. Indeed, Furman points out that the wage suppression is so small that even its "victims" may be better off. Retail workers may take home less pay, but their purchasing power probably still grows thanks to Wal-Mart's low prices.

Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm supposed to be surprised...

But I'm not. The Pentagon has a plan to draw down troop levels in Iraq in 2006.

Stop the presses!

They once had a plan to deal with the Soviet's in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis. They have plans now for all kinds of contingencies that us normal folk don't even conceive of in the course of everyday, normal life. 'Cause that's what they do.

Color me not-very-surprised.


What if you held a book-signing and nobody came?

The question is "Why?"

Yesterday, Hugh pointed out a piece from Ron Brownstein in the LA Times that, in his opinion, attempts to exonerate Democrats who supported the war:

The always lefty-reliable Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times sets off this morning (along with Emma Vaughn) to exonerate the Democrats who voted for the war in Iraq. The effect, though, is to paint a picture of utterly empty Democratic opportunists who blew with the wind:

With national security then such a flashpoint in so many campaigns, many Democrats believe, the vote's timing enormously increased pressure on their party's wavering senators to back the president, whose approval rating approached 70% at the time.

"There was a sense I had from the very beginning that this was in part politically motivated, and they were going to maximize the timing to affect those who were having some doubt about this right before the election," Daschle said.

This is something I've been screaming for weeks now as we've watched another go-round over who-said-what about Iraq. The Democrats supported the war in large numbers. The question is, why?

If you take Daschle's quote to heart, it was politically expedient. Hardly inspiring. The only other alternative is that they believed what the CIA and other US intelligence agencies were saying, what foreign intelligence services were saying and concluded that it was a good idea.

If so, they don't get to walk away from their statements so easily. At the same time, such an admission puts them at odds with their base.

Either way, we deserve an explanation!

Shameless self-promotion

I admit that upon my first viewing I allowed myself to be sucked in. And then I chuckled...heartily.

Upon further review though I'm left with a couple of questions: Is it possible for a comic to jump the shark, and if so, does a shameless allusion to the comic's creator qualify?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

New blog

A new find, courtesy of the folks at The Corner.

What caught my attention was the post Byron pointed to on the DeLay money-laundering charges. Byron was right, Sol puts the what-for to Ronnie Earl and makes him look pretty silly:

Well which is it, dude? The $190,000 going from the RNC to the Texas House candidates, or the $190,000 going from TRMPAC to the RNC? Make up your mind. And do you really think you can amend your indictment through the vehicle of a reply brief?

Just when you thought it was safe...

We're back. But where to begin?

In the case of Sim, he's moved halfway across the country and taken a new job. Been there, done that and for him there is no unreasonable expectation that he should be blogging every day in the middle of all of that.

But what's my excuse?

Last you saw me, I was sneaking a morning post more than two weeks ago. We had family in town with us for most of that week, pushing the blog to the bottom of the priority list. That next weekend we were in Sacramento on family business.

The following week began our internet issues which culminated in the suspension of our dial-up account on the 12th. We've been without service since then, though our new DSL line has been active since Tuesday of this week.

Only this morning was a connectivity issue here at the house resolved. And with that, we're all up to speed, so to speak.

Even with renewed access, things will be different around here as both our schedules will demand more of our time than previously. Many of the plans we've concocted for the blog will continue to simmer and must wait for better timing.

Having said that though, we will continue to bring you the same sort of content we've been producing since we first joined forces--just not as often as we'd all like!

So what have we missed? All the sound and fury over the Iraq war, Congressman Point-misser's withdrawal resolution is my personal favorite for best-blog-topic-you-couldn't-write-about, the return of Camp Sheehan and what should be a shut-up-and-sit-down vote in the House.

Awfully good to finally be back in the game!

What's Happening?

A good question, indeed. The MyDogs team is taking an unscheduled sabbatical due to our respective moves and new jobs. Additionally, Paul is having some Internet access problems. But we have resolved to continue our work here as soon as possible. I myself will try over the next couple of days to write some stuff before I leave for a week on my consulting gig. And then, hopefully over the holidays we will have some more time.

Apologies all around.

The Management.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cherry-picking the intel

Stephen Hayes takes a good clean whack at Carl Levin this week, and lands a pretty good one. The money quote:

The Phase I report criticized Tenet for his failure to note that the intelligence on Iraqi training of al Qaeda had come from sources of "varying reliability." It may be a reasonable criticism. But if Levin and his colleagues want to show that statements from senior Bush administration officials went "way beyond the intelligence," this seems like an odd way to do it. The head of the U.S. intelligence community made the same claim Bush did--using almost exactly the same words--some four months after Bush's speech.

Put on the thinking-caps and tell me why that poses a problem for anyone making Levin's argument.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Where there' a camera, there's a way

Hugh takes on Senator McCain today:

McCain's problem is that many people view his every action as the product of self-serving calculation, and a need to be seen as being "apart" and "different." Even on the issue of harsh interrogation of detainees, McCain's very public approach based on his long imprisonment and suffering only reinforces his profile as a man who not insists on being heard, but insists on being seen as being heard.

After watching the man up-close-and-personal for more than three years, I'm convinced that the man thinks far more highly of himself and his performance as a Republican than many Republicans do.

When he bombs again in '08 ("When McCain loses Republican primary after Republican primary in the winter and spring of 2008, it will be because of deep differences such as these, and no other reason."), perhaps he'll finally get the message.

In the meantime, why is this Arizona Senator being featured in ads for California Prop 75?

Schumer on Schumer

Another in a line of "Who said what, when" posts...we give you everybody's favorite Senator from New York (no, the other one). Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Chuckie took a hit from Chris Wallace when asked about a quote or two from the run-up to war in Iraq.

[Wallace]:I want to play a clip from your statement back in October of 2002 when you voted to authorize the use of force. Here it is.


SCHUMER: It is Hussein's vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and his present and future potential support for terrorist acts and organizations that make him a danger to the people of the united states.

C. WALLACE: Senator, you read the intelligence and you came to the same conclusion the president did.

SCHUMER: Yes. The bottom line is I wasn't as sure of it as the president was, but I believe in a post-9/11 world, Chris, that the president does need latitude to keep our national security strong. And you know, that is true.

But we also have to make sure, once you give the president that latitude, that you keep him accountable, and that's what we tried to do in the Senate the other day. Just because you give the president latitude, that's not at all a blank check.

And it seems that subsequent to that time, the president made many, many, many mistakes in the use of intelligence, and all we got from the committee — and there was a lot of talk that the White House was directing Pat Roberts (search) to do so. He's the chairman of the Intelligence Committee — was stonewalling on the use of intelligence.

And I think it's really important not to point fingers of blame, not to gain any political advantage, but so we don't make the same mistakes again. After all, we have an Iran. We have a North Korea. We have other problems that are going to come down the road for this president or future presidents. And we ought to see where things went wrong and correct them.

Now, if you hear the clip aside from just reading it, Chuck comes across as forceful and sincere. Rather than admit that he believed what the intelligence was saying, he throws up some lame answer that is supposed to differentiate his "support" of the conclusions drawn from the President's case relying on the same information: The bottom line is I wasn't as sure of it as the president was...

Like I said the other day: As you try, I will laugh out loud while you explain to your rabid anti-everything base that you weren't duped and can still be trusted with power in spite of your incompetence; or weren't abdicating your constitutional authority for oversight by rubber-stamping the President's policy; or lastly how you didn't actually agree with what the pre-war intelligence seemed to be saying.

We will shape the future

Or else we will suffer it.

Californians go to the polls tomorrow in a special election, focused on a number of ballot propositions put forth and campaigned for vigorously by Governor Schwarzenegger.

Vote yes, vote no...just go vote!

The Simian Magician

Has done a fairly amazing disappearing act for the last week, for which he apologizes. What our faithful readers may not realize is that the Simster is moving on the 14th and is in the midst of boxing everything up and dealing with the kinds of hassles Paul recently described. For example, renting a storage facility yesterday was so excrutiatingly painful that I will spare you the description. But missing two of LT's four TDs yesterday made it all the worse.

So where am I moving? Suffice it to say that it is a secure, undisclosed location. With any luck, I'll be bunking with Vice-President Cheney. Word on the street is that his mattress is stuffed with billions of Halli-dollars, so I imagine they must be comfy. But in any case, I am moving closer to family and am looking forward to that. There will also be a new job which should mean I will struggle with blogging after my arrival, as well. I seem to be like three months behind Paul on everything LOL.

So I might be popping in occassionally, but can't promise anything. You know me, I'm commitment-phobic. But if things go according to plan, I should re-emerge sometime late next week.

See you on "the other side."

Go Bolts!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Life Goes On

Been slow around here. But you've already noticed that, no doubt. Life is busy here.

The great unpacking has been completed, now comes the Great Settling In. New routines at work and at home have left me scrambling for blogging time. I get snippets here and there but not much.

In the meantime, Sim has been AWOL for the better part of a week. His life is topsy-turvy, so no telling when he'll get back to some semblance of a normal writing schedule. In the meantime, it's catch-as-catch-can here.

A couple of things to chew on for the next day or two or three:

-Jim Geraghty of NRO tackles the Mary Mapes version of Rather-gate.

"The Wilson Gambit"

-The Cheney Administration is over, and other things you'd never know if you didn't read New York Magazine.

-Another attempt at bringing sanity to the never-ending-argument about Iraq, WMD and intelligence courtesy of WSJ.

Some guy named Smush

Who is Smush Parker and how is he averaging 20.5 points a game?

Yes, I realize Kobe hit the game-winner in Thursday's opener, but not for Parker's clutch three-pointer and the Lakers lose that game in regulation.

With 21 in the home-opening loss to the Suns on Thursday night, he's averaging 20.5 points-a-game with 3 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game thrown in. Is this what we've come to?

Some guy named Smush pulling this proud franchise's bacon out of the fire? Interesting times, indeed!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

With what motive?

The Left trumpets the indictment of Scooter Libby and hails it as the beginning of the overdue bringing-to-justice of the Bush Administration. But something just doesn't make sense here.

Irish Pennants, a blog written by journalist Jack Kelly, discussed the indictment last week in a post entitled "Scooter Libby evidently lied." I read it (HT: RealClearPolitics) over the weekend and was unable to push it out of my mind.

Kelly's big-line, for me anyways, was this: But what Fitzgerald had to say in his news conference about national security being endangered in the Plame Name Game was a crock, and we'd better be prepared to fight back against the criminalization of conservatism.

I believe he's right (see "proxy fight on Iraq war"). But beyond that, I can't get one most-basic of questions out of my head: Why would Libby lie?

Of course with a charge of perjury and making false statements, the assumption is that any false statements given were made knowingly with the intent to deceive. This makes no sense when you consider that there are no indictments--and likely none forthcoming later--on the original focus of the investigation, the "outing" of Valerie Plame.

In accusing Libby of lying, Fitzgerald (it is presumed) knows what Libby's actual true behavior (and assumed also, his intent) in the affair was. How else of course can he say that Libby's testimony was un-true?

If Libby's true behavior is known, and that behavior was illegal vis-a-vis the outing of Plame, it stands to reason there would be indictments along those lines. There are none.

So either Plame didn't fit the bill as a covert agent, and anything Libby told anyone was not a crime, or Libby didn't "out" her by virtue of his conversations with journalists. Either way, there is no crime.

And if there is no crime, there is no motive to lie because there is nothing to protect, nothing to hide. Rich, in his comments to Jack's posting, put it far more eloquently than I:

What were the lies relevant and material to?

If there is no underlying crime, then by definition, the lies could not be relevant or material to an underlying crime.

So what is left? The lies were relevant and material to an investigation of non-criminal conduct?

If so, then any lie is a crime. Lies in these circumstances, although detestable, should not be a crime.

Or were the lies relevant and material to the determination of whether there was an underlying crime. If so, then the potential/possible underlying crime should be identified in the indictment, i.e. the lies were relevant and material to whether or not so and so did such and such.

The indictment did not identify a possible/potential crime. So, does the indictment state a crime on its face? Or is the defendant required to guess the nature of the charge against him.

Remembering an Anniversary

In K-Lo's mailbox yesterday:

Am I the only one who has realized that this is the one year anniversary of Bush's re-election? And my, look how nothing has changed...Dems still crazy, Repubs still weak.

Sad but true.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Blogger envy

Often petty, but it's never very pretty. Especially coming from a "group-blog" with fewer hits in two years than the object of derision gets in an hour.

Back where we started

After yesterday's closed session in the US Senate, Hugh wrote snidely that Senate Dems have given back the initiative. A mere four days after their perceived "victory" in the Plame leak, they are left posing for all of America with their closed-session stunt, crying yet-again about lies, deceit and a President who mislead us all because he was gung-ho to git Iraq!

After getting home late last night, I caught a replay of CNN's The Situation Room. Among others interviewed, Wolf spent a few minutes with Jay Rockefeller on the topic of "Phase 2" of the SIC report that Democrats were crying about yesterday. This is the portion of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report which was agreed upon as an investigation into alleged manipulation of pre-war intelligence by the Administration.

Yes, that's right. We're back where we started it seems. NO WAR FOR OIL!!

Frankly, I'm so tired of picking up this turd and looking at it from every possible angle that I don't know whether to scream or laugh. I mean, how many times will these otherwise-respectable gentlemen from the Senate stand in front of a camera and tell us how they are sure that the Bush Administration lied their way to war in 2003?

At this point, I'm inclined almost to not say a peep about it; have your investigation, and when it's over I wish you luck when it comes time to reconcile your current bleating and blustering with your pre-war statements.

As you try, I will laugh out loud while you explain to your rabid anti-everything base that you weren't duped and can still be trusted with power in spite of your incompetence; or weren't abdicating your constitutional authority for oversight by rubber-stamping the President's policy; or lastly how you didn't actually agree with what the pre-war intelligence seemed to be saying.

Either way,--makes no mind to me anymore--you lose.

Halloween tragedy

Small towns, invariably it seems, deal with these kinds of stories. Or maybe it's just that they resonate more because its a small town. It happened at my high school as a sophomore, it happened during college as well. Seems it happens too often in too many places.

Monday night, three teenage boys--all members of the Lompoc High football team--were involved in a one-vehicle accident as they sped up A street in Lompoc. One was pronounced dead at the scene, a second died yesterday and the third clings to life after major surgery on Tuesday afternoon.

The campus and the town at-large are left trying to understand what to take away from such a tragic event. Often in situations like this there is something to point to--alcohol or drug use, or some other mitigating circumstance. None of that happened here.

This time, three teenage boys lost control of the vehicle they were riding in and crashed into a telephone pole. Now two are dead and the third, should he survive, will live a life much different than the one he had dreamed and hoped of.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Always Good for a Laugh

I present you, Hugo Chavez:

President Hugo Chavez cautioned Venezuelan parents to protect their children from Halloween with a spooky warning that the US tradition is rooted in "terrorism." "What they have implanted here, which is really a 'gringo' custom, is terrorism," Chavez said, quoted in the local press. "They disguise children as witches and wizards, that is contrary to our culture."

Like Death warmed-over

This is always how it feels. The morning after the hypo-glycemic episode-the-night-before is never fun.

I realize at 3:30 that I'm awake and in the middle of every diabetic's least-favorite thing, a nocturnal hypo-glycemic episode. An insulin reaction, as they called it in the old days.

Of course, my wife has already known it since about three when she first began talking me through it and feeding me something sweet. My only recollection of course is the last few pieces of candy and the final assurances that I'm back to normal.

It's still hours before we must get up, but my body is now wide-awake and amped by the 15+ grams of sweet carbohydrates I've just taken in. Sleep doesn't come until around 5 AM. The alarm rings at six.

Moving through the morning is like walking through thick molasses. I always say I feel like I've been hit by a truck.

While it is true that such episodes left untreated can be serious, the vast majority of the time they are not. But they do leave me feeling awful, so I feel no shame in wise-cracking about it to relieve the mental and emotional stress it puts on both of us.

It's kind of like a visit from Death, Jr. Not there to pull the plug, only to harass and annoy.

Monday, October 31, 2005

France: Creating 1000's of New Bin Ladens

One of the common refrains we hear from our friends in Europe is that by taking the fight on terrorism to Iraq, we are "creating thousands of new Bin Ladens." Of course, the banning of Muslim headscarves in French schools and get-tough policies with already-alienated Muslim populations in Europe win hearts and minds, right?

Well, I suppose that's what the French would tell us in light of recent unrest in a Paris suburb which a police union spokeman described as "civil war."

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy defended his tough crime policies on Monday after a fourth night of riots in a Paris suburb in which tear gas was fired into a mosque. Sarkozy, addressing police officers, vowed to find how tear gas had been fired into the Muslim place of worship, an incident which had helped fuel the disturbances. Youths hurled rocks and set fire to cars in the northeastern Clichy-sous-Bois suburb of the French capital, where many immigrants and poor families live in high-rise housing estates notorious for youth violence.

Apparently, the French government, like many others in Europe still has not come to terms with the challenges posed by large, poor, disaffected Muslim minorities in their countries. And that is an unfortunate reality because it is those populations which have spawned more violent Islamic terrorism than perhaps the entire Middle East itself. Disaffected locals were responsible for the 3/11 attacks in Madrid and the 7/7 bombings in London. And the masterminds of our own 9/11 attacks? They became radicalized not in Saudi Arabia, but in the Turkenviertel of Hamburg, Germany.

While our friends in Europe are right to raise questions about the impacts of American policies in the Middle East, would it not behoove them to get a better handle on their own policies vis-a-vis Muslim immigrants living in their own midst? Should they not understand and address reasons why Muslims who come to Europe seeking opportunity and freedom instead become poor and disaffected; often turning to crime or in some cases far worse? And surely these societies can find a better way to address outrage than by engaging in inflammatory tactics like firing tear gas into mosques.

While it is convenient (and possibly even fair) to criticize American policy, some self-examination is in order. Prime Minister Blair has taken the initiative on this following 7/7 and many of the other governments have outreach efforts in place. But the riots in Clichy-sous-Bois demonstrate that there is still a long way to go.

Good News for W

After a brutal couple of months, it looks like the second bit of light for Bush is emerging from a Supreme Court nomination. His nomination of John Roberts to the high court essentially sailed through the Senate. Now it's looking very good for his new nominee, Samuel Alito.

I know precious little about Alito and will have to bring myself up to speed on his qualifications. But I believe this nominee will do well on the basis of one simple fact:

Harry Reid is unhappy about the selection.

Since Harry Reid had critical input which lead to the ridiculous nomination of Harriet Miers, the fact that Reid is unhappy really bodes well for Alito.

In a statement released after the President introduced Judge Alito, Reid stated

"I am disappointed in this choice for several reasons. First, unlike previous nominations, this one was not the product of consultation with Senate Democrats. Last Friday, Senator Leahy and I wrote to President Bush urging him to work with us to find a consensus nominee. The President has rejected that approach...Second, this appointment ignores the value of diverse backgrounds and perspectives on the Supreme Court. The President has chosen a man to replace Sandra Day O’Connor, one of only two women on the Court. For the third time, he has declined to make history by nominating the first Hispanic to the Court. And he has chosen yet another federal appellate judge to join a court that already has eight justices with that narrow background. President Bush would leave the Supreme Court looking less like America and more like an old boys club. "

Yeah, it's a real shame that Bush didn't listen to political opponents who really have his "best interests at heart" this time. If he had, perhaps Joe Wilson might have been the choice. Or maybe even Michael Brown. Meanwhile, I love how Reid tries to play racial and gender politics with a president that has made minority and female appointees all over his administration. But I guess if you have quotas for the composition of the Supreme Court, you can be pretty much be assured that nominees who arrive on the Court as a result of that system can be counted upon to vote the "right way" on affirmative action...

Joe Wilson: The Guest Who Would Never Leave

Jason Zengerle over at TRO extends the thinking on Wilson's media whoring. Money quote:

At the end of the day, Scooter Libby's the one who's under indictment for telling lies, not Joe Wilson. But it would be a whole lot easier to focus on Libby if Wilson would just shut up and go away. Alas, that's not going to happen. He clearly loves the attention too much. Wilson's op-ed was entitled, "Our 27 months of hell." A better title might have been, "How to turn your 15 minutes into 27 months."

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.

Why lawmakers are dangerous

They wield the power to tax. Anyone else catch this on Today this morning? Congressional lawmakers are considering a Federal excise tax on oil companies in wake of record profits and record-high gas prices.

The story's sub-text was clear; people want action on the issue of high prices and 'getting' the oil companies is the easy target. Meanwhile, when did the fundamentals of economics change?

Are consumers now setting prices in the oil market? Exxon/Mobil, Shell and Atlantic Ritchfield all purchase oil from our good friends in the ME, with some help from traders in the middle.

The price of oil, down now some from record highs, is set as a function of the market over which these firms have no control. But punishing them with a tax on every barrel of oil they purchase over $40 ought to do wonders for their fiscal health and the economy over-all.

Earth to Congress: if you want to do something about gas prices, incentivize these folks to expand their refining operations.

Hi! Lets Eat

Greasy spoons and dumpy dives. Every town has 'em. You know, the place you go for your heaping helping of artery-clogging cholesterol with a hot side of grease.

In Phoenix, our choice was the Waffle House at 27th Ave. and Deer Valley. Eating there was like stepping into Mel's Diner replete with an updated version of Flo. She never told us off though, but we'd tip her well regardless--the service is bad but the food is that good!

Hi!'s has been a fixture on Ocean for decades. The sign dominates the south side of the street as you approach from the east. I fell in love with the place before I'd ever stepped foot inside. And once I did, I knew I'd be back. Any place with a country-fried steak that good will keep my business until the last of my arteries harden and crack.

The building, the restaurant and the experience have a long history in Lompoc and it's become woven into the fabric of the city. In 2003, the place changed hands and closed for a short time before re-opening under new ownership.

This piece recounts that and captures some of the sense of civic history this greasy spoon embodies:

Hi Let's Eat, part of Lompoc's history since 1959, is set to reopen soon in its familiar unpretentious atmosphere with the kind of service associated with small towns where most everybody knows your name.

That's the way it's always been at the downhome eatery and new owners Lou and Judee Domingos want to keep it that way. A little piece of Americana and a big piece of Lompoc.

"I want to restore it to its old glory," Judee said. "It's an icon. Everybody has a Hi's story. One gal told me the story of how she was proposed to in here."

As in decades past, Hi!'s is a weekly meeting place for local luminaries like the mayor and members of the city council:

Some believe the city's future was imagined and developed by town movers and shakers at Hi's counter and in its generous leather booths.

"The whole town was built in this restaurant," said former owner Bill Blackford Sr. in a 1994 article in the Santa Maria Times.

MoDo's Dating Woes

Seems New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has had some bad dates recently. I would respond but the internal logical contradictions are so obvious as not to require commentary.

And then there's this.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Our 27 months of hell (Or, "Just when you thought it was safe to pick up a newspaper...")

Whose hell? His, or ours? As part--apparently--of a publicity blitz, everybody's favorite opportunist has written a piece to whine and cry about the vagaries of his un-sought-after fame. Pardon me while I hurl.

"Like being punched in the stomach!"

But on July 14, 2003, our lives were irrevocably changed. That was the day columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie as an operative, divulging a secret that had been known only to me, her parents and her brother.Valerie told me later that it was like being hit in the stomach. Twenty years of service had gone down the drain. She immediately started jotting down a checklist of things she needed to do to limit the damage to people she knew and to projects she was working on. She wondered how her friends would feel when they learned that what they thought they knew about her was a lie.

Sounds odd when you juxtapose it with this: I'd allow the reporter to reveal that I "live in the Palisades, an affluent neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on the fringe of Georgetown." And if that kind of information weren't enough to really ensure my security, I would point out for the benefit of would-be evildoers that "the back of [my] house has a stunning view of the Washington Monument."

Or this: WOODWARD: ... They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment. So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldridge James or Bob Hanson, big spies. This didn't cause damage.

And especially this: Plame's "cover," a company called "Brewster-Jennings & Associates," was so flimsy that she used it as her affiliation when she made a 1999 contribution to Al Gore for president. She identified herself as "Valerie Wilson" in this case. The same Federal Election Commission records showing her contribution to Gore also reveal a $372 contribution to America Coming Together, when the group was organizing to defeat Bush.

The Wilson's are wonderfully adept at painting the picture of horribly-victimized patriots, it's just a shame that many facts don't quite do the story justice. What else does the champion of truth have to say?

Denial aint just a river in Egypt

Clinging to his meme like a hapless victim floating at sea clings to a life preserver, Wilson regurgitates his Niger story:

It was payback -cheap political payback by the administration for an article I had written contradicting an assertion President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Payback not just to punish me but to intimidate other critics as well.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech- that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa- was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Sorry Joe. The WH knew that British intelligence had independently sourced intel that confirmed the suspicion that Hussein was trying to buy weapons-grade material. An assertion that the British government still stands by today, two and one-half years later.

What I wonder is if you knew that. If you didn't know it at the time, I suppose I can forgive the mis-statement. But have you never heard of, much less read, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report that completely disproves your storyline?

From this bit of selective memory, we move into an even more stupefying bit of mental gymnastics. To this point Wilson has clung to the meme, asserting that what he stated was true and right and never refuted. From here he cranks it up a notch or two, moving to a bit of obtuse rhetoric that is stunning:

Although there were suggestions that she was behind the decision to send me to Niger, the CIA told Newsday just a week after the Novak article appeared that "she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment." The CIA repeated the same statement to every reporter thereafter.

Thats fine as far as it goes, but it just doesn't go very far. I refer you and Joe back to the SIC report where it is learned that the CIA's own documentation makes it clear that Valerie worked to get her husband the assignment to Niger. Facts 2, Joe 0.

All light and no heat

As any good writer does, Joe saves his best for last. His close is bold and strong, asserting the rightness of his position. But once you get past the light, you realize there's no heat coming from this argument:

The grand jury has now concluded that at least one of the president's men committed crimes. We are heartened that our system of justice is working and appreciative of the work done by our fellow citizens who devoted two years of their lives to grand jury duty.The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amounted to character assassination.

Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.

A bold and strong statement to say the least, it sounds horrific until you understand what we're talking about. The 'crimes' in question more resemble this than they do this.

In 2004, Martha Stewart went to prison for obstructing justice in an investigation into a charge that could not be proven. Now we're watching the same movie with a slightly different cast. Seems to me--as well as a whole lot of other people more informed and knowledgeable on the subject--that if in fact Rove, Libby or anyone else committed an actual crime in their discussions of Ms. Plame's name that we'd have heard about it on Friday.

Instead what we got was a lot of pontificating about the alleged but apparently unprovable crime that no one will be charged with, coupled with an exacting explanation of tgenerallylly-accepted default indictments from a prosecutor who has nothing else to work with.

Yes, Joe! It's been a long time coming, but vindication at last!

Every day that he or any of his fellow travelers choose to speak on this, I become more convinced of the argument for the leak's status as proxy-fight over the Administration's Iraq policy. After 27 months of hearing how the WH had criminally persecuted this poor man and his wife and how this would be the tipping point for exposing the lies, deceit and wrong-doing of the Bush Administration, you can color me unimpressed.

Unimpressed with Joe's willfully obtuse re-telling of his story and wholly unimpressed with a two-plus year investigation that nets us no charges for the crime under investigation.

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