Monday, February 26, 2007




Sunday, February 25, 2007

Three Views of Women in Islam

The first is Arab women in Israel finally speaking out against their menfolk, after the 8th woman in the extended family was murdered:
The perpetrators of most honor killings in the Arab community are not apprehended. Hamda's murder, however, was one too many for the women in the Abu-Ghanem family. She was the eighth woman to be murdered in the extended family in the last six and a half years. All her predecessors also lost their lives in "honor killings."

This time, instead of keeping mum when the police questioned them, the Abu- Ghanem women gave detailed testimonies of everything they knew. One said she had seen Rashad enter the house where Hamda was. Shortly afterward she heard shots and seconds later saw Rashad, the key suspect, fleeing from the building.

The victim's mother told the police that Rashad had forbidden his sister to leave the house after some men had called her a "prostitute."

"It was a women's revolt against the men of the family. While the men refused to cooperate with the police and forbade the women to speak, the women revealed all. They decided to put an end to the bloody circle of silence," Chief Inspector Haim Shreibhand, who was in charge of the investigation, told Haaretz.
Next we have a Memri translation of an Arab show on the proper way of conducting wife beating:

The male keeps instructing the women in the show with him that to beat the wife lightly, in order to train her to obey him, so she won't be lazy, so she does his bidding immediately, is the proper way to go about family life, as the husband is the master of the home.

One of the women on the shows points out to the audience that, according to the research she has done, she has found men around the Muslim world beating their women with heavy electrical cords.

Finally, we have an historical view of Islam, that shows us that perhaps Islam was not always the way it is today, with regards to women. There was a time in the past when women, too, were noted scholars, who issued fatwas made legal rulings and prayed with men, and sat and conversed with them on Islam.
Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a 43-year-old Sunni alim, or religious scholar, has rediscovered a long-lost tradition of Muslim women teaching the Koran, transmitting hadith (deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and even making Islamic law as jurists.

Akram embarked eight years ago on a single-volume biographical dictionary of female hadith scholars, a project that took him trawling through biographical dictionaries, classical texts, madrasa chronicles and letters for relevant citations. “I thought I’d find maybe 20 or 30 women,” he says. To date, he has found 8,000 of them, dating back 1,400 years, and his dictionary now fills 40 volumes. It’s so long that his usual publishers, in Damascus and Beirut, have balked at the project, though an English translation of his preface — itself almost 400 pages long — will come out in England this summer.

The dictionary’s diverse entries include a 10th-century Baghdad-born jurist who traveled through Syria and Egypt, teaching other women; a female scholar — or muhaddithat — in 12th-century Egypt whose male students marveled at her mastery of a “camel load” of texts; and a 15th-century woman who taught hadith at the Prophet’s grave in Medina, one of the most important spots in Islam. One seventh-century Medina woman who reached the academic rank of jurist issued key fatwas on hajj rituals and commerce; another female jurist living in medieval Aleppo not only issued fatwas but also advised her far more famous husband on how to issue his.
Mohammad Akram Nadwi notes that the repressive attitude towards women in current Islamic culture is based on its current insecurity. And failing to educate a woman is like the pagan religions burying women alive.

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Lawrence of Arabia: Serious Zionist

Who Knew?

Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence - better known as "Lawrence of Arabia" - and renowned as a champion of Arab independence, actually had "a sort of contempt for the Arabs" and was an advocate of Jewish statehood from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, according to acclaimed British historian Sir Martin Gilbert...

T.E. Lawrence ... wore Arabian clothes and adopted many Arab customs. He is widely perceived, Gilbert told The Jerusalem Post this week, as "the great Arabist, right? ...

The "astonishing" truth, however, Gilbert went on, is that Lawrence was "a serious Zionist. He believed that the only hope for the Arabs of Palestine and the rest of the region was Jewish statehood - that if the Jews had a state here, they would provide the modernity, the 'leaven,' as he put it, with which to enable the Arabs to move into the 20th century."...

"He felt that only with a Jewish presence and state would the Arabs ever make anything of themselves. And, by a Jewish state, he meant a Jewish state from the Mediterranean shore to the River Jordan," said Gilbert, adding his own comment that this "will never come to pass."

Gilbert, in Israel for the International Book Fair, described his discovery of Lawrence's Zionist orientation as the most surprising archival revelation he had come across from an Israeli perspective...

And here is a comment in general from Gilbert about how the present understanding of history is often wrong:

"As a historian, I'm very cautious about anyone's claiming to know what any government is doing at the present time," he said. "I study archives as soon as they are open - normally 30 years after an event; sometimes a bit less. What you see when you do this is that the people you imagined had been strong were weak; the people you thought weak were strong; and things you thought couldn't possibly be taking place were taking place."

The distorting effect of "it bleeds, it leads," and journalists wanting to influence the outcome of events and writing their pieces in that way fortunately will have much less effect on the judgment of history 30 years on. Not to say that it will be nil, but it will be mitigated.

Thus, the change in Reagan's reputation in the intervening period, and thus, too, if Bush policies change the status quo in the ME in the long term, we'll see a very different historical judgement on him than the one he has at present.

Hat Tip: Stephen Pollard

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Friday, February 23, 2007

The Perfect Comeback

Earlier this week, Dick Cheney challenged Nancy Pelosi's repeated attempts to lead the House to vote for micromanaging the Iraq War into extinction by stating that having Americans leave Iraq before the situation there is better resolved will be playing right into Al Qaeda's hands.

Nancy Pelosi whined loudly, claiming that Dck Cheney was "questioning her patriotism." As though, from now on, any criticism of the Democrat's strategery, or lack of it, is always disallowed because it questions the patriotism of whomever makes it. This woman can't think for herself; all she can do is spin in pre-packaged phrases.

Dick Cheney makes the perfect comeback.

During Friday's interview in Sydney with ABC News, Cheney said, "I'm not sure what part of it is that Nancy disagreed with. She accused me of questioning her patriotism. I didn't question her patriotism. I questioned her judgment."


Blind to Reality

You want to know why Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz is short sighted in his capabilities?

What, besides his complete lack of preparedness for the job of Defense Minister, might explain this?


Peretz joined the new army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, watching Wednesday's large-scale maneuvers. The pictures show the two side by side with military binoculars held up to their eyes — but Peretz's still have the lens caps in place. The photographer said Peretz raised the capped binoculars three times, nodding as Ashkenazi explained what he was "seeing."


We've all done this kind of thing, but normally after realizing we are not getting any view, we figure out there is a problem. If he can't figure it out himself, was he too embarrassed to ask an aide why the binoculars weren't working for him? Or to tell someone he was given "a defective pair"?

Add whatever nuance you like to that final phrase.

UPDATE: Someone kindly added the video version to youtube.

Captain Ed takes on the rest of the world, insisting that these are glare protectors. Perhaps, but then as we see in the youbute video, someone forgot to explain this millitary innovation to the Ma'ariv editors. And given the military culture in Israel, and the backgrounds of the photographers likely to be following the Defense Minister, someone should have known this.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

The BBC Keeps True to Tone

By the bye,I'm listening to the BBC, John Humphries is interviewing Tony Blair, and it's absolutely the most unctuous interview that I've ever heard. He's dripping with self-righteousness and moral superiority and keeps on chastising Tony for making the world worse.

Tony Blair handles it perfectly however, never lets himself get flustered or riled, stays absolutely on point and takes nothing personally; and by the end, Humphries has dropped his immature tone and is speaking normally.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

American Idol

Anyone watch American Idol out there?

The African-American women have it in the bag this year! They were terriflc!

Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Sabrina Sloane and most of all Lakisha Jones.


Justice by Prosecutor

Hat tip: Clarice at JOM

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

When is Andrew McCarthy Going to Recant, Publicly

I think Andy McCarthy should be deeply ashamed of himself if he ever follows up on the Plame case.

I spent a long time being really cautious before believing that Fitz was a moonbat based on Andrew McCarthy's professional opinion of his colleague.

Fitz's defense rebuttal just passes everything, however. It's clear the guy loathes the Vice President and is willing to impute alll kinds of evil motives to him.

He essentially argued that Joe Wilson is a saint, Libby is eeeevvil for treating Valery Plame "not as a person but as an argument", he subliminally reminded the jury of the Iraq War is lie and the VP and Scooter lied us into the war so that the jury would feel biased about them - in other words, appealing to the wrong grounds in order to convict.

This is a sad day in American justice.

If you don't know what I am talking about, this is from Fitz' rebuttal, from the incoherent not a transcript:

Is this about a bunch of madmen, two men. Or is about somemthing bigger, Is it about someone to whom Wilson's wife wasn't a person, but an argument. He focused on it June 23, July 8, July 7, focused on it when he talked to Addington. His boss thought it was important. His boss thought it was important. Did his boss forget about the wife/ One of the first thing he wrote, did his wife send him on a junket. They both talked to a briefer about it. You can't believe that 9 witnesses remember 10 conversations the same way. There is no conspiracy. There is no memory problem. He remembers a conversatoin that did not happen. But forgets all of his. He had a motive to lie, and he lied in a way that exactly matches his motive. You don't forget something on Thursday that you've passed along on Monday and Tueday. You don't forget about important arguments. You know they talked about a cloud over the VP.,

DONT YOU THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE ENTITELD TO ANSWERS. If as a result his wife had a job, she worked at CPD, She gets dragged into newspapers. People want to find out was a law broken when people want to know, who did it. What role did Defendant play. What role did VP play? He told you he may have discussed this with VP. Don't you think FBI desesrves straight answers. When you go in taht jury room, you commonsense will tell you hthat he made a gamble. He threw sand sin the eyes o fthe FBI. He stole the truth of the judicial system. You return guilty you give truth back.

After which, the judge says:

Walton: Sometimes during course of argument. Lawyers say things they don't mean to say.

Like hell FItz didn't mean to say it and to make the jury think it was only right to punish Scooter for the Iraq war and to bring into his closing things he had agreed were not part of the case. He was particularly frustrated that he never got to do cross on the Vice President and Scooter Libby, so he could try to pin this ridiculous scenarion on them in the first person.

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Israel: the greatest short-term threat to world peace

Who recently said that Israel is the greatest short term threat to world peace?

Nope. Not Ahmadinejad. Not Abbas. Not the depressed Hassan Nasrallah.

Not even the senile Jimmy Carter. [Although he probably thought it.]

It was said to a bunch of Hollywood liberals by none other than the Silky Pony himself.
The aggressively photogenic John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes last week until, during question time, he invoked the "I" word — Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. As a chill descended on the gathering, the Edwards event was brought to a polite close.

Hat Tip: National Review

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"Go Grab His Ass"

Don't Look Now, Saint Gore, But Your Clay Feet Are Showing.

Shamelessly cribbing from an old post of Tigerhawk here. But this is too good not to pass it on.

It's been common knowledge for years, for anyone who wanted to know, that the practice of extraordinary rendition started under the Clinton Administration, with Clinton's approval.

But now, it turns out, that according to that convenient hero of the left, Richard Clarke, it was Gore's enthusiasm for the method that helped convince Clinton to approve it:
Snatches, or more properly "extraordinary renditions," were operations to apprehend terrorists abroad, usually without the knowledge of and almost always without public acknowledgement of the host government.... The first time I proposed a snatch, in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law. Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, "That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass." (Against All Enemies pp. 143-144)
Of course, now that the bottom line on the left has become how shameful the policy is, and everyone blames Bush, Gore is shocked, shocked that the current Administration allowed this to become policy.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Jack Murtha, War Hero to the Left, in his own Words

Whither the Centrist Democrats? Have they lost their way so soon? Have their bread crumbs already been eaten up by the doves?

Improbable though it may seem, blunt and brassy Jack Murtha is moving close to command over U.S. policy on Iraq.

Washington insider Robert Novak has a must read article explaining how Murtha, in cahoots with Pelosi, and despite his failure to become majority leader in November, has managed to pull off a management coup that seems likely to cause an extreme negative impact on the President's ability to serve as Commander in Chief.

Even the editorial board at the Washington Post is horrified. But not Pelosi, whose smiling face at her victory was seen all around the media last week.

From the Washington Post:
Mr. Murtha ... would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to "stop the surge." So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill -- an action Congress is clearly empowered to take -- rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. "What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with," he said.

Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq.

Thus Murtha. Corrupt, cynical and too full of himself not to crow ahead of time about his Machiavellan plot to usurp Presidential powers by micromanaging the war. Which may prove to be its undoing. For whatever it's worth, he is an elected official, and his public, if they ever sicken of this nonnsense, has redress.

Bryan, at Hot Air adds:
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a political party’s cynicism, cowardice, irresponsibility and narcissism? Ask Jack Murtha, because that’s exactly what he’s asking of our troops fighting in Iraq.

Unfortunately, not everyone on Pelosi's team to undermine America and American values has been elected. Which leads me to my next point.

Here's another fact about Pelosi's new management team you may not know. She recently hired Joseph Onek to be her Senior Counsel. Who is Joseph Onek? And why might this be a problem? He formerly served in both the Carter and Clinton administration. But that is not the problem I am referring to here.
[H]is more recent work as a Senior Policy Analyst with the Open Society Institute (OSI) should be of deep concern to all Americans. The Open Society Institute is a creation of billionaire atheist George Soros. This virulently anti-Christian man operates what some have called a "shadow government” in America – a network of groups and radical individuals who wish to control America's social and national security policies.

Here are some facts about the Soros funded group, the Open Society:
The current president of OSI is Aryeh Neier, who as director of the socialist League for Industrial Democracy, founded the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) back in 1959. OSI's Director of U.S. Advocacy is Morton Halperin, a man who has devoted his entire life to subverting America's intelligence efforts to fight domestic and international threats. Halperin is a former Carter and Clinton official who has consistently attacked the work of the CIA.

As you read this, keep in mind the profile of George Soros in his own words that we recently discussed here on Abracadabrah:
On December 20, 1998, there appeared this exchange between Soros and Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes":

Kroft: "You're a Hungarian Jew ..."
Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... who escaped the Holocaust ..."

Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... by posing as a Christian."

Soros: "Right."

Kroft: "And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps."
Soros: "Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made."

Kroft: "In what way?"

Soros: "That one should think ahead. One should understand that--and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a-- a very personal threat of evil."

Kroft: "My understanding is that you went ... went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews."

Soros: "Yes, that's right. Yes."

Kroft: "I mean, that's--that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?"

Soros: "Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't ... you don't see the connection. But it was--it created no--no problem at all."

Kroft: "No feeling of guilt?"

Soros: "No."

Kroft: "For example, that, 'I'm Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.' None of that?"

Soros: "Well, of course, ... I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was--well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in the markets--that is I weren't there--of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would--would--would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the--whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the--I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt."
That's the man, using his money, to influence American governance in any way that he can.

More on Soros here.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nietzsche on Memory

"I have done that" says my memory. I could not have done that—says my pride and remains implacable. Finally, my memory gives up.

Beyond Good and Evil, part 4, 68.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just Deserts

Last week I wrote a post entitled Tim Russert - Boldly Lying on the Stand wherein I discussed the fact, as per the title of the post, that Russert had just lied on the stand in front of everyone. He chose to lie on a trivial point. The context was the concessions the prosecutor had entered into in order to obtain his testimony - which was that they came to Russert's office and he had a lawyer present during the short, 22 minute ordeal. Russert stated he did not know that people testifying before a Grand Jury are not permitted to enter into the courtroom to give their testimony with a lawyer.
[Defense Attorney] Wells: (reads more of letter, saying testimony would be with lawyers in room) You know that in a grand jury, lawyers are not in the room?

TR: Didn't know that

Wells: You are an attorney?

TR: Non-practicing…. the most important thing is –

The MSM, being his cronies, declined to discuss it. So you may not have heard about this elsewhere unless you are following the case intensively.

Jewish Atheist, commenting on my post, was amused that I thought this was important at all given the gravity of "Libby's lies."
LOL. The chief of staff to the vice president of the united states is in trouble with the law for lying about activities related to a coverup of manipulating evidence to go to war and what you think is important is that Russert may have lied about not knowing an aspect of grand jury law. Very unbiased blogging, good work.
Now it turns out by far that I wasn't the only one who considered this a big deal.

The defense is now planning to use this statement of Russert's to impeach his testimony. Just deserts, isn't it.

From the liveblogging of the lawyers making arguments before the judge outside of the presence of the jury:
[Defense attorney] Wells. Second piece of evidence relates also to benefits received by Russert and would be form of impeachment testimony. Being able to testify in setting where lawyer was present. On cross, in attempt to explore Russert's understanding if he went before GJ, to my complete shock, Russert said he had no knowledge.

Judge Walton There's no evidence [Russert's] ever done criminal law.

[Defense attorney] Wells. I'm going to show you three video tapes where it's clear he's aware of it. "So you understand that normal procedure, they're not permitted to have lawyers in room." I've given govt transcripts of three different appearances where he acknowledges that witnesses before GJ don't have their lawyer. Discussing GJ testimony of Clinton. [why am I not surprised we were going to Clinton?] He askes why he doesn't go before GJ.Resisting a subpoena are words he can understand better. Clinton is saying "can we not testify on video" rather than having to march before GJ without his lawyers. In other portions of the interview, why she won't answer that question. She says it's one of may questions because it's before a GJ w/o a lawyer. These go right to the heart of a benefit.
In other words, it's in the public record that Russert knew well that normal people, at a grand jury, were not able to bring their lawyer with them, to direct their testimony or object, etc. As a member of the media who has dealt with this particular in his work, as well as a lawyer, the presumption is that he knew this very well. And therefore there is no reason for him to lie about it. Except, that to show he was accepting a special privilege worked out by his NBC NY lawyers to shelter him, the admission that he knew that he was receiving a special privilege from the Special Prosecutor does not highlight the plain-spoken, homespun, homily-delivering, just one of the folks image he has worked so hard - in order to maintain his image as "the man the public can trust."

There is another interesting thing about Tim Russert's™ lie on the stand.

On Just One Minute, Tom Maguire wrote out a hypothetical case as to how Russert might have come to lie originally to prosecutors as to whether he mentioned Plame to Libby.

In this model, Russert starts out lying on the stand in what looks like a negligible matter; the intent is protect the Tim Russert™ brand and his NBC team - to assure their pipeline to sources among other reasons.

Tom puts is thus in his post:
Well - as to Russert's motive ... the summary is this - Russert started with a little white lie to the FBI in November 2003, with the objective of concealing the fact that he (or Andrea Mitchell) had a source for the Plame leak. Russert did not "lie" to the investigators; he misled them with carefully phrased testimony so as to avoid subpoenas, jail time, and the disclosure of NBC News sources.

And it seemed like a little white lie at the time - Russert knew that Libby had not leaked to him, so he reasoned that his chat with Libby was not the sort of primary leak (government official *to* reporter) that investigators were seeking.
There is more to Tom's argument, and it is worth reading in full, because it makes practical and psychological sense as to how the situation might have occurred, if it occurred. I'm not claiming that this is necessarily so, nor is Tom. Simply that it is one construal of the evidence and the defense might choose to frame their ending to include such an inference. And the fact that Tim Russert just insouciantly lied on the stand makes this easier to buy.

Which is where this gets interesting. Because when Russert lies on the stand, he is also telling a harmless lie to protect the TR™ brand: And the TR™ brand is a modest, homespun man moderating over the truth every Sunday, a man whom you can trust, full of homilies and moral sayings. His lie was merely a harmless lie to protect the brand.

But this time, someone is pulling him up short on it. Publicly. And using it to impeach his evidence.

As Jane put it as Just One Minute:
The point is to show, at the least, Russert has a very bad memory, and at the most, that he is a liar.

UPDATE: And now for the evidence that is going to be used to impeach Timmeh's testimony, from a transcript of an interview of Tim Russert by Larry King, speaking about President Clinton's testimony to the Grand Jury:
RUSSERT: It's been suggested by no less than the former governor of New York the other night, that now that the president has decided that he's going to testify before the grand jury, why do it in the Oval Office and why insist that his lawyer be there.?

Go into the grand jury without a lawyer, like every other American citizen, go ahead, ask me any question you want and I'll give you an honest answer. And that would turn the whole situation around in the eyes of some.
Yep, Tim Russert sure seemed to know back then that regular Americans go to the Grand Jury alone, not with their lawyer present.

More: Tom Maguire suggests a motive for Russert to lie on the stand. In the same interview with CNN's Larry King, there is the following exchange:
KING: And do you stand by your guy if he is subsequently charged with something and they subpoena you?

RUSSERT: I would have to go to prison to protect his name.
That is his public statement. Judith Miller went to prison. Maybe Russert did not want to have to go to prison so "he mislead the investigators a bit," instead - not realizing that much of the prosecution of Libby would rest on his "misleads."

How much of this motive, I wonder, will be implied by the defense?

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Interesting snippets on Libby's Role in OVP

So this is among what Libby was working on, before Joe Wilson's enormous ego got upset that people actually were treating him, allah forbid, as a low-level type. And decided to start a national scandal and cost tax payers millions, and personally disrupt the government and people's lives, all so his ego would feel better.

This would interest Michael Ledeen and Chris Hitchens:

John Hannah Signs of internal turmoil in Iran, that "people" in USG monitored quite closely.

C Student protests something that you and Libby were monitoring.

John Hannah tried to watch internal sit in Iran closely.

C Iran harboring AQ leaders, some of whom had contacts outside of Iran.

John Hannah THis has all been declassified by govt?

C Just a yes or no, please?

John Hannah Yes.

C Libby considered possible means of obtaining custody of AQ terrorists.

C Looking at it in unclassified terms, why was Iran such a concern.

John Hannah Iran a major state in ME, one of the most populous, for the last 25 years a declared adversary of the US, probably trying to acquire nukes, and WMD, major state sponsor of terrorism, in this case, shared a border with Iraq at a time when we had forces in Iraq. Some reason to believe Iran trying to undermine US purposes.

C For you and Libby. Dealing with Iran Libby devoted considerable amount of time and attention. Turn to ME [hey, Cline, Iraq IS theME]

BTW, that idiot, the empty wheel, keeps childishly calling John Hannah "the Year of Iran", instead of his name, because of "the next war is Iran," mantra the left is spewing these days. I changed it here. Her other [mature] comments are in [].

And more:

The ballad of Andrea Mitchell by "Curly Smith"

85 days and what do you get
3 months older and branded a twit
Saint Fitz don't you call me 'cause I don't know
I sold my soul to the Peacock show

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Too Funny!

[Some spoilers for Children of Men, so don't read further if you don't want to know.]

I'm perusing a review of Children of Men written by that stupid fired Edwards blogger. According to KLO, at the Corner, it was apparently the last strike against her. So I'm slightly curious about it, because I disliked the film - which I categorize as a siren call to the heart of the nutroots angst, made by one who can exploit that malady well, being one himelf.

And I come across these line. So telltale:

It was moving and beautifully filmed, and the subplot about the leftist revolutionaries who are so dedicated to ideology that they forget the humanity that made them leftists in the first place could probably fit into a reactionary film. Could, but probably wouldn’t, since the subplot is rather too subtle for your wingnut crowd. After all, there’s a division between the grounded socialists and the People With Egos, a distinction that would be lost in a genuinely reactionary film. In sum, this movie would have been great no matter what the subtle political themes.
Apparently, the nutroot actually believes this is too sophisticated an analysis for someone tainted by rightwinged politics. She clearly equates being right-winged with a form of brain necrosis.

Moreover there's the implication there that revolutionaries who are so dedicated to ideology that they forget their ideology is actually a reactionary concept. As if only reactionaries would have such wicked thoughts about revolutionaries.

And then there's this - which has me giggling:

IThe great mystery of the movie is why all the women are infertile. No one quite seems to know, but this is my theory. Considering that babies are a symbol of hope in the movie, and that the patriarchy is viewed as the source of violence
and distrust, and considering that it’s only women that are infertile, my interpretion is that women’s bodies went infertile as an unconscious abandonment of hope. It’s like one worldwide uterine strike against the mess we find ourselves in.

Aren't you glad that we can't yet control fertility universally - because if we could, I'm sure someone on the left would arrange a worldwide uterine strike!!

Oh God! The horror!

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Speaking About Joe Wilson

Two frank assessments about Joe Wilson. God knows we can use the humor:

Short and sweet, from Robert Novak's testimony as transcribed by liveblogger Empty Wheel at Firedoglake:
Fitz: [When was your] first meeting with Wilson

RN On MTP. The day of his op-ed.

Fitz You did not become fast friends.

RN We did not exchange words. Most people in the green room quietly read. He was giving his opinion at some length about how things were done in the Clinton NSC, in a very loud voice, I thought that was an obnoxious performance.

And now for the kicker:

Dick Armitage to Bob Woodward, caught on tape:

Here's the link to the audio: Armitage to Woodward

And here is a partial transcript:

Woodward & Amitage Interview 1:14 WOODWARD: ...What's Scowcroft up to?
1:15 ARMITAGE: [ ] Scowcroft is looking into
1:16 the yellowcake thing.

1:17 WOODWARD: Oh yeah?


1:19 WOODWARD: Yeah. What happened there?

1:20 ARMITAGE: They're back together. [coughs] They

1:21 knew with yellowcake, the CIA is not going to be hurt by this

1:22 one---

1:23 WOODWARD: I know, that's---

1:24 ARMITAGE: -- Hadley and Bob Joseph know. It's

1:25 documented. We've got our documents on it. We're clean as a

2 3:2 2:1 Woodward & Amitage Interview -
2:1 [ ] whistle. And George personally got it out of the Cincinatti speech of the president.

2:3 WOODWARD: Oh he did?
2:4 ARMITAGE: Oh yeah.
2:5 WOODWARD: Oh really?
2:6 ARMITAGE: Yeah.
2:7 WOODWARD: It was taken out?
2:8 ARMITAGE: Taken out. George said you can't
2:9 do this.
2:10 WOODWARD: How come it wasn't taken out of the State
2:11 of the Union then?
2:12 ARMITAGE: Because I think it was overruled by
2:13 the types down at the White House. Condi doesn't like being
2:14 in the hot spot. But she ---
2:15 WOODWARD: But it was Joe Wilson who was sent by
2:16 the agency. I mean that's just ---
2:17 ARMITAGE: His wife works in the agency.
2:18 WOODWARD: --- Why doesn't that come out? Why does ---
2:19 ARMITAGE: Everyone knows it.
2:20 WOODWARD: ---that have to be a big secret?
2:21 Everyone knows.
2:22 ARMITAGE: Yeah. And I know [ ] Joe Wilson's
2:23 been calling everybody. He's pissed off because he was
2:24 designated as a low-level guy, went out to look at it. So,
2:25 he's all pissed off.

3:1 WOODWARD: But why would they send him?
3:2 ARMITAGE: Because his wife's a [ ]
3 3:23 3:2 Woodward & Amitage Interview -[update: adding in more transcript transcribed by JM Hanes

ARMITAGE: Because his wife's a [ ] analyst at the agency
Woodward: It's still weird.

ARMITAGE: It's perfect. This is what she does. She's a WMD analyst out there.

Woodward: Oh she is. Oh I see.

ARMITAGE: Yeah Get it? [Next couple of lines is my translation of crosstalk]

Woodward: Oh, I see. I didn't think

ARMITAGE: Yeah. See?

Woodward: Ohhh, She's the chief WMD ?

ARMITAGE: No, the chief? No.

Woodward: But INR thought that she could say, oh yeah, I'' be [garbled]

ARMITAGE: Yeah, no exactly

Woodward: Was she out there with him?


Woodward: When he was -----

ARMITAGE: Not to my knowledge. I don't know. I don't know if she was out there or not. Didn't wife [garbled] wmd analyst. How about that?

Shorter Armitage on Joe Wilson: Wilson turned the Bush Administration upside down in order to satisfy his ginormous ego. He didn't like being designated as a low-level guy.

How much has the Special Prosecution of Scooter Libby cost again?

Of course, no props to Armitage either for shutting his mouth so that others could take the blame for him.

Thanks to Roanoke at Just one Minute for finding the transcript and the audio file.

For even more humbling of poor Joe Wilson's ego, this is FDL liveblogging transcript of Grossman's testimony:
Conversation with Wilson on June 2003.

Is it correct that Mr. Wilson complained that he had seen Condi Rice on MTP on June 8 and he was very upset about her comments. June 9, which was a Monday, you had a conversation with Mr. Wilson about MTP.
What he told you was that he was furious at the comments of Condi Rice.

Yes sir, he was really mad.

As I recall he told me that he was angry at the way he'd been described and that people weren't taking him seriously. He was angry that he'd been described as some low level person.

Did he tell you he was considering going public.

Yes sir.
That's what this whole ordeal for the Bush Administration and Scooter Libby in particular has been about. No one was taking him seriously.

For previous posts on this subject, see here and here

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Old Jewish Quarter of Nineveh/Mosul

A blog friend emailed me this story, in which the Rabbi of the 101st Airborne Division describes his inquries into the existence of the old Jewish section of Mosul/Nineveh:
As I entered light came through the half-open roof, and I could just make out writing engraved on the walls. It was Hebrew. It was then that I knew had stumbled into the ancient synagogue of the city of Mosul-Nineveh. My heart broke as I climbed over the garbage piles that filled the room where, for hundreds of years, the prayers of Jews had reached the heavens. I realized I was probably the first Jew to enter this holy place in over 50 years. Over three-and-a half meters of garbage filled the main sanctuary, and what appeared to be the women’s section. I could barely make it out because of the filth, but there was Hebrew writing on the walls.
A lovely story about discovering traces of the past community. Read the whole thing.

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Media Blackout on a Few Essential Points: Libby Trial

A Few Facts You May Not Know About the Libby/Plame Investigation Because of the Media Blackout lack of discussion.

The major witness the prosecution has called to impeach Libby's veracity is Tim Russert.

Before Tim Russert remembered journalistic privilege, he was first contacted by the FBI by phone, on occasion in which he spoke freely.

Did you know that the FBI notes of this phone call have been lost? So there is no contemporaneous record of it, only a report or summation on the notes of the call on which to rely.

How do you think that happened? That the Federal Government lost the notes to a key conversation with a key witness used to impeach the one person that the Special Prosecutor has brought up for charges.

Did you know that the report based on the lost notes states that Russert could not rule out absolutely that he talked about Wilson's wife.

If this is what the report based on the notes of the call said, what did the notes themselves say?

Further, that the man who interviewed Russert, Eckenrode, has an imprecise style of writing up reports based on notes.

For example, on another occasion, when the notes taken by his subordinate said Libby didn't recall discussing Plame during the Ari Fleischer lunch, Eckenrode wrote this up in the report on his notes as Libby adamanatly denied this. Note this difference, because the fact that he adamanatly denied that this occurred was the information that was presented to the Grand Jury, which then charged him with a count of perjury for this denial. The Grand Jury never saw the original notes which state that he did not recall.

[Defense Attorney] Wells belabors the point that the notes say "Libby does not recall" discussing Wilson's wife. He says that in writing up a report of the interview, FBI agent [Eckenrode] said Libby "adamantly denied" discussing Wilson's wife.

Bond says that they asked the FBI agent and verified the report. Wells says, but that's not what's in the notes, right? Bond admits this is true.

Then, think again about the fact that original notes of the first Tim Russert conversation have disappeared. And that only the report based on the notes remain. And even the report of Tim Russert's preliminary conversation with Eckenrode on the matter of whether Wilson's wife was mentioned with Libby differs extensively from the testimony Russert just gave publicly at the Libby trial.

So, too, on that now notorious phone call, Eckenrode may have similarly presented Russert with an extreme version of what Libby had originally claimed about discussing Plame with Russert. So that not only would Russert not recognize that as part of their initial conversation, but neither would Libby. And then Russert's response to a question that did not cite Libby's original language was then presented to the Grand Jury. This exaggeration or lying of investigators is a method commonly in use by the FBI.

However, we will never know what question was asked of Russert, in what specific language, because we no longer have the notes of this conversation.

Did you know that Libby and Fitzgerald had previous run-ins, on the matter of Mark Rich, all of which Libby ended up winning. This, perhaps, does not make Fitzgerald the most objective of special prosecutors when it comes to Libby. Then think again about the lost notes of the conversation.

On this point, at Just One Minute, commentator and attorney, MarkO makes an observation:
This case is frightening on one particular front.

Lawyers litigating against each other can really learn to hate one another. Prosecutors can (not all, by any means) take it to another level. After all, they are powerful and imbued with a sense of self-righteousness not known since the Inquisition.

Befuddle or humiliate a prosecutor and you need to drive fifty-five.

So, I cannot understand how it is possible for Fitzgerald to be permitted to indict a man who so fully humiliated him in the Rich prosecution. Again, it is not something that I could ever prove. That said, the thinness of this case, the failure to charge anyone with a substantive crime and the singling out of Libby (his arch nemesis) for prosecution on such silly grounds tells me it’s personal. You see, I think when Fitzgerald came up empty, and he needed something, he decided to avenge his humiliation and that’s where we are. Even if that is not true, the DOJ should not permit such a clear conflict (not legal but honest) to infect this proceeding. Libby humiliated Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald ruined Libby’s life. And, again, there’s nothing to be done.

Did you know that someone in a position to review Grand Jury testimony leaked information to the Press regularly during the time the Grand Jury was sitting. And that the person in the position to do that, Eckenrode, has since quit, even though he had a long career at the FBI but he was not due for mandatory retirement. Then think about what the defense council could do with that information, if Eckenrode had taken the stand to be cross examined about his methods and his leaking. And about the fact that he lost his original notes from the conversation with Tim Russert.

As background to this post, see also the following posts: from Clarice: Libby Trial: NBC Connection

From Tom Maguire: Tim Russert: Equivocator?

Clarice Feldman, Tom Maguire and the entire JOM commentariat have been invaluable in assembling this information.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

The Final Frontier


Stuck on Stupid

I haven't been much interested in the blogstorm about Presidential Candidate John Edwards' hiring then firing then rehiring of two leftwing moonbats to deal with the blogosphere outreach for his campaign. But now it appears that left wing religious folk are taken aback by Edwards' behavior by rehiring these folk, seeming to condone, by his rehiring of them, their attitudes.

And this little nugget in the current debate is too good to pass up:
In a comment that several Catholic Democrats told The Politico they found particularly offensive, Edwards aide Amanda Marcotte asked, in a posting to her personal blog, "What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?"

The other Edwards blogger, Melissa McEwan, has come under fire for referring to Christian conservatives as “Christofascists” in her personal blog.

Thursday, the campaign issued a statement from Edwards saying that he had been personally offended by the remarks and that the bloggers "have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word."
For my opinion of Edwards' summation, see the title to this post.

The campaign also sent out semi-apologetic statements from each blogger saying she was sorry if anyone was offended.
How ironic.

Since it's perfectly clear that offending other people was the raison d'être and sine qua non of their blogging existence, rehiring them into an existence of non-offense driven, leaden prose seems like an mete fate. Moreover, they'll never be able to keep their fan base!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Russert the Hypocrite

In a previous post, I produced Russert's testimony showing that privately he spoke to an FBI agent about his call with Libby, the same call that later on, publicly, he fought against "being forced to reveal" because, as a member of the elite press, he did not want to create a chill with sources who would feel newly vulnerable.

So isn't it nice to find Tim Russert hassling Bob Novak about the ease with which he, Tim Russert Bob Novak revealed his sources to the Grand Inquisitor Special Prosecutor and the Grand Jury.
Russert asked Novak why he seemingly gave up so quickly without a fight.

"We were subpoenaed at NBC," Russert said. "We fought the subpoenas. Time Magazine subpoenaed, fought the subpoenas. The New York Times was subpoenaed, fought the subpoena. Why didn't you fight the subpoena?"

Well, isn't that special?

This is just one of those stories that will keep on giving for a long time...

Hat tip Clarice Feldman.

Clarice Feldman posts a longer article on this subject at American Thinker.
In the cross examination of Tim Russert this week we learned that although he'd made quite a show of fighting the prosecution's subpoena, asserting he did not ever and could not ever violate the principle of source confidentiality, he had on one or two occasions revealed to an FBI investigator over the phone the details of that Libby conversation prior to his charade of fighting the subpoena. He had in fact filed a false affidavit.

..."A pot calling the kettle black" doesn't begin to capture the breathtaking hypocrisy of NBC News' premier Washington journalist.

See also Tom Maguire, who takes this evidence and runs with it, just to see how funny it all gets.

And don't forget his comments, the many 1000s of them, where all the humor and much illumination is to be had. Today's mystery, disclosing the identity of the Thread Herder...

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Tim Russert - Boldly Lying on the Stand

A report on the Morning's testimony:

Libby's defense attorney, Wells, continues to grill Russert.

To recap, Russert, being a god, unlike you and me, got special treatment for his "grand jury" testimony. He got to testify in his office, with no jury present and with two lawyers present, his own and NBC's.

Thus is the life of the media gods.

Now they are discussing the letter Russert received detaiing these privileges in court.

Wells, the defense attorney is explicating the letter for Russert and the jury:

From the account in the Maine Web Report

Letter outlines special consideration for Russert that allowed his attorney and NBC’s attorney would be in the room. Wells asks if he understands that to be out of ordinary, that normal procedure is no lawyer in grand jury.

Russert makes the ridiculous claim that he was not aware that this is normal practice.

Wells is kind of incredulous, after reporting all these years you didn’t know that?


You’re an attorney correct?

Non practicing.

Wells moves on. This was a dumb answer by Russert, he obviously knows this like the rest of the world.

On this precise point, Tom Maguire commenting on his own blog, says:
On a good day, the blogosphere would pile up cites of Russert reporting on stories and noting that detail - maybe from the Clinton years, there were plenty of grand jury sotries then.

Are we having a good day?

Tom Maguire's column today on parsing together the direction the defense might take based on testimony from Russert yesterday is not to be missed.

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Grilling Russert to a Fine Turn

For those of you who are not Plamiacs - all Plame, all the time! now that the Libby trial is going on - there was a delicious moment in the court today.

Tim Russert walked into court today, a commanding presence, King of the Press. By the time he left, he might as well have skulked out. Or as Arianna Huffington puts it
Tim Russert hobbled into the courtroom this afternoon on crutches. When he left the stand at the end of the day (slated to return for more cross-examination tomorrow) his credibility had been so hobbled it needed a pair of crutches of its own.
Heh! Perfectly described. And by a certified despiser of the Bush Administration, which carries its own weight.

What was Arianna describing?

The highlight of the Libby trial so far, which was the dismantling of Tim Russert and his ego. But in this case, given that Timmy is King of the Press, his dismantling pointed to the hypocrisy of all those vaunted legal rights that the Press claims for its own.

Such as the desire not to be called to testify against a source - because to do so would impugn the public's free access to information. It turns out - in the hands of Russert, this precise "right" is no more than a public face he claims in order to permit himself a greater lattitude than ordinary mortals. In private, he's apparently happy to spill the beans to the FBI about conversations with his sources. Being a journalist - and having an ethical responsibility not to reveal what sources say - only comes into question when the matter of one's testimony becomes public.

Maine web report is one of two livebloggers at the scene. And here is his description of the final moments of Russert's testimony today.

Wells grilling Russert on his filing to squash the subpoena. Wells has brutally and effectively shown the hypocrisy of this filing. The filing, and NBC’s statement, says that testimony would create a chilling effect that would keep sources from talking to him, and thereby limit the access the general public has to information. This looks absurd now, since Russert just testified that he freely and unreservedly spoke to an FBI agent by phone about the entire contents of his Libby conversation, despite declaring emphatically that he understood the Libby call to be in confidence.

Russert is trying to show a difference between the Libby call and what he was talking about in the filing. Not effective in any way.

Russert is saying now that the focus in the FBI call was a focus on his words, not Libby’s words. Wells already got him to say that they spoke about both sides of the conversation.

Russert is entangled like a peanut-butter coated cat in a yarn factory right now.

Russert is at once trying to justify his discussion of Libby’s call with the FBI, while at the same time backing up his request to keep the same call in confidence in regards to the subpoena.

Wells now is making the allegation that Russert lied to a Federal judge in his filing.
And at this precise moment, just after Wells, Libby's defense attorney makes the allegation that Russert lied to a Federal judge in his filing to keep him from testifying, the judge calls it a day.

Therefore, the moment that will stay in the minds of the jurors overnight - the moment that will crystallize there, or fester perhaps - is Wells knocking Russert's credibility entirely off balance by suggesting that his lawyer's filing to squash the subpoena contains within it a self-serving falsehood, because the very position that he is claiming to "defend publicly" - that is the rights of the press - he has already in private abrogated iinsouciantly. And it is this hypocrisy between Russert's public and private faces that the jury will contemplate overnight. As Clarice Feldman, among several of the attorney's liveblogging the liveblogging at Just One Minute, pointed out to me, this was Wells strategy - to have the trial end tonight on such a memorable point. Both for the jury and the witness.

So Russert, too, will contemplate it, wondering, perhaps, what other measures Wells has in store for him and his credibility and his massive ego tomorrow. Though it may be he will regain his composure. Still, from Maine Web Report's description, he looked naked up there.

Personally, after this beginning, I can't wait. See also Clarice Feldman's invaluable description of Russert's precarious credibility here.
From a filing by the prosecutor last evening trying to block inquiry into the accommodations made to Russert for his (total of 22 minutes) deposition testimony in his lawyer's offices, it appears that while this last point was not specifically noted in any pleadings I can see, the defense was provided with the FBI notes which provided some notice to them of the discrepancies in the NBC public pleading and that it contained a false suggestion that Russert had not already cooperated with the government. It is not clear that this Court, or the Court which determined the related case on the reporters' obligation to testify, was ever informed that the Russert filing was false.

And don't think the jury isn't paying attention. So far, the jury, which contains a lawyer as well as a retired, old time reporter, has asked some of the questions that go right to the heart of the difficulties with all the witnesses that Fitzgerald has presented.

By the way, I just saw a few minutes of this trial presented on CNN. They reiterated all their old talking points. Isn't it scary how much power Dick Cheney has. Iraq is a cancer on this White House even in 2003. Look how scared Joe Wilson made them. It's clear what the commentators had not done, in this case Jeffrey Toobin and David Gergen, was read the last few days of testimony.

They were repeating MSM platitudes, that's all.

There used to be a time when Toobin, for one, actually watched the details of cases he was speaking about. Now he's just commenting on form without detail. And it's absolutely clear he has no clue what is going on. Just as it is stunningly clear that the press had no clue about the story they were reporting on at the beginning of this whole thing.

For one thing, it should be clear to all of the MSM by now, that Valery Plame suggested Joe Wilson go to Niger for the CIA the day before the Vice President asked for clarification about what was happening in Niger. But perhaps an article by Byron York in NR is considered too réchercé for the MSM to read these days.

And do you know why these facts weren't known until today for sure? Because the CIA only released the memo clarifying these dates recently. They didn't bother to give them to the Senate Committee which investigated the Joe Wilson imbroglio. So Joe Wilson never went anywhere at the behest of the Vice President. He was suggested for the job before the Vice President inquired.

As for the details about Russert, I gather they won't trickle forth for the next days or two.

Or if they follow political protocol, they'll announce the bad news on Friday afternoon.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Now Even Bears Don't Like Bush

Busch beer that is. Bears prefer local beer.
Campground workers were stunned to come across the bear sleeping off the effects in their grounds, surrounded by dozens of empty beer cans.

...He had apparently tried out and rejected the mass-market Busch beer in favour of local brand Rainier.

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The Mis-state of the Libby Trial

From Clarice Feldman, one of the most able commentators on the Libby Trial, at Just One Minute, summing up the current cross examination:

"So--Libby said at [his initial FBI] interview says that he "didn't recall" and [FBI agent] Eckenrode writes Libby "adamantly denied it", [FBI agent] Bond [currently being cross examined by Libby's team] knows[her boss] Eckenrode's characterization is wrong, but keeps her mouth shut, and at the [Grand Jury] Libby is confronted with "adamantly denied" and has no evidence to contest that that is what he said. And it is before the [Grand Jury] where he has no counsel to object to this.

Do you like this, possums?"*****

Still more from Clarice on this point:
pretend you're in the gj..You told the FBI agents that you didn't recall something, you are (as Libby was) confronted with a summary of the interview which says instead that you "adamantly denied" the very thing you told them you couldn't would you respond?

Then imagine hours of this.


Clarifications in square parentheses are mine.

As Clarice has now pointed out numerous times, if you go before the FBI to testify, do not say a word unless video tape is being used.

UPDATE II: From James Lewis at American Thinker, from an article entitled Fitz the Gullible?:
The prosecutor's faith in the media therefore passeth mere mortal understanding. No one who knows the bottom-feeding habits of our journos could possibly be so virginal. Any professional historian knows better --- because careful research always shows the big headlines of the day to be a slapdash made-up job. Smart news folk like H.L. Mencken and A.J. Liebling notoriously think of their profession as an endless clown parade. And any blogger who remembers Dan Rather, Reuters fauxtography, and a slew of New York Times fabrications, has to be utterly skeptical about the media narrative.

(That's why they call it a narrative, Counselor. It's a story. They make it up. It's not really that complicated.)

...Unfortunately for Patrick Fitzgerald, our conscientious reporters didn't even bother to take readable notes of the crucial conversations that have now placed Mr. Libby in the dock. Their memory for fleeting words heard many months ago is as just bad as anybody else's --- which is utterly dismal. The newsies never even bothered to use tape recorders, trained stenographers, personal organizers, or any of the other tools at the disposal of the merest junior attorney at the local ambulance chaser's office. It looks like they just followed each other's buzz, and if they all agreed on some conspiratorial version of events over that evening's booze, that had to be grist for the next day's headlines. This trial has therefore turned into an ordeal by baying newshounds. If Libby can sprint fast enough to survive their yipping and biting, he will be a free man. If not, he will be in jail.

Trial by ordeal is not exactly in the best tradition of Western jurisprudence, but that is exactly what we are left with. All thanks to our "prosecutor's prosecutor" and the tabloid press, working hand in hand.

ordeal by baying newshounds Heh! That pretty much sums it up.

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Senate Resolution on Iraq, Version 4.0

Jim Geraghty makes a suggestion about the wording of a Senate Resolution all the senators can sign on to:
Aw, heck, why don't they just introduce a resolution declaring, "We, the Senate, like all the good parts of the war and disapprove of all the bad parts. We demand all credit for anything that goes right, and reject any blame for anything that goes wrong"?
Come on, Senators. Be bold. You know you want to.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Donald Sensing Poses A Question About Global Warming

What if global warming is a good thing?

He asks this with reference to this data list compiled by J.R. Dunn that appeared in the American Thinker, Resisting Global Warming Panic.

Despite the insistence of Al Gore and friends, this is far from the first time the Earth has ever passed through a climatic warming period. In fact, one occurred relatively recently, the medieval warm period, more commonly known as the Little Climatic Optimum (LCO), a period stretching roughly from the 10th to the 13th centuries, in which the average temperature was anything from 1 to 3 degrees centigrade higher than it is today. Several years ago, I covered the LCO in an article detailing the climatic history of the last millennium. But it's worthwhile to cover the highlights once more, to help put the contemporary panic into perspective.

* How warm was it during the LCO? Areas in the Midlands and Scotland that cannot grow crops today were regularly farmed. England was known for its wine exports.

* The average height of Britons around A.D. 1000 was close to six feet, thanks to good nutrition. The small stature of the British lower classes (and the Irish) later in the millennium is an artifact of lower temperatures. People of the 20th century were the first Europeans in centuries to grow to their "true" stature - and most had to grow up in the USA to do it.

* In fact, famine - and its partner, plague -- appears to have taken a hike for several centuries. We have records of only a handful of famines during the LCO, and few mass outbreaks of disease. The bubonic plague itself appears to have retreated to its heartland of Central Asia.

* The LCO was the first age of transatlantic exploration. When not slaughtering their neighbors, the Vikings were charting new lands across the North Atlantic, one of the stormiest seas on earth (only the Southern Ocean - the Roaring 40s - is worse). If you tried the same thing today, traveling their routes in open boats of the size they used, you would drown. They discovered Iceland, and Greenland, and a new world even beyond, where they found grape vines, the same as in England.

* The Agricultural Revolution is not widely known except among historians. Mild temperatures eased land clearing and lengthened growing seasons. More certain harvests encouraged experimentation among farmers involving field rotation, novel implements, and new crops such as legumes. While the thought of peas and beans may not thrill the foodies among us, they expanded an almost unbelievably bland ancient diet as well as providing new sources of nutrition. The result was a near-tripling of European population from 27 million at the end of the 7th century to 70 million in 1300.

* The First Industrial Revolution is not widely known even among historians. Opening the northern German plains allowed access to easily mined iron deposits in the Ruhr and the Saarland. As a result smithies and mills became common sights throughout Europe. Then came the basic inventions without which nothing more complex can be made - the compound crank, the connecting rod, the flywheel, followed by the turbine, the compass, the mechanical clock, and eyeglasses. Our entire technical civilization, all the way down to Al Gore's hydrogenmobile, has its roots in the LCO.

But in the late 13th century, it all came to an end.

The climate closed down. Rains ruined crops and washed away entire seacoast towns. Far to the north, the great colonies of Iceland and Greenland faltered and began to fade away. Famine returned to Europe, and with it the plague, in one of the greatest mass deaths ever witnessed by humanity. The bright centuries were replaced by the dance of death and a dank and morbid religiosity. The focus of culture shifted to the warm Mediterranean. It remained cold, within certain broad limits, for six hundred years. The chill only lifted in the 1850s, when our current warming actually began.

For more information, see also here and here.

On a truly random note, I'm wondering if the end of the little climatic optimum in roughly 1300 had anything to do with creating the colder social climate that led to the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290.

In a sense, yes. Italian banking was one of the things created during the high middle ages - which occurred as a result of the warming period. And with the rise of the pope's bankers, the rationale for keeping Jews within England ceased to be important to the king, whose ancestors had used them for loans and to create revenue by exceedingly high taxation rates.

Moreover, note that the entire period of residence of Jews in England in this early period nearly exactly corresponds to this medieval warming period: Jews arrived sometime after 1066 and stayed until 1290. (Jews were not known in England before William the Conquerer.) One would have to do much more research to support the following hypothesis, but it is certainly possible that, with the warmer weather and agricutural abundance, English society became more open to outsiders; and the reciprocal closing of society occurred as resources became scarcer and conditions generally harder.

Also, note, that in our own country, 1100-1300 marked the height of Anasazi culture in the Southwest. I wonder if, to the extent that cannabalism existed in Anasazi culture (research suggests that it was introduced to Anasazi culture through trade with the Aztecs), it, too, occurred as a result of worsening weather conditions, with agricultural crops harder to produce in the severe drought years.

Drought, no doubt, would have adversely effected hunting conditions as well.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated - Was Mossad Involved?

Stratfor had a report a few days back that I saw mentioned, which is now getting more traction, that the Mossad may have assassinated one of Iran's top nuclear scientists - showing that it is serious about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear material and can do so in other ways than a straightforward military attack. Here is the write-up in the London Times:
According to Radio Farda, Iranian reports of Hassanpour’s death emerged on January 21 after a delay of six days, giving the cause as “gas poisoning”. The Iranian reports did not say how or where Hassanpour was poisoned but his death was said to have been announced at a conference on nuclear safety.

Rheva Bhalla of Stratfor, the US intelligence company, claimed on Friday that Hassanpour had been targeted by Mossad and that there was “very strong intelligence” to suggest that he had been assassinated by the Israelis, who have repeatedly threatened to prevent Iran acquiring the bomb.

Hassanpour won Iran’s leading military research prize in 2004 and was awarded top prize at the Kharazmi international science festival in Iran last year.

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Human Interest Stories with an Islamic Twist

Can you renounce Islam in Malaysia (where it is illegal) if the hospital sent you home at birth with the wrong family?

And here's something novel - if the story reflects accuracy, a Jewish school in Birmingham, UK, that is attended by a majority of Muslims, where Hebrew is taught and Jewish history and everyone gets along and no one complains - I gather because it is an excellent school and gives the kids a better hope of getting into Oxbridge.


Who is George Soros?

Perhaps you've heard George Soros' recent comment at Davos. Though, until the last day or two, the comments have received little notice.

But if you have not, here they are:
"The United States is now recognizing the errors it had made in Iraq, [Soros] said, adding, “To what extent it recognizes the mistake will determine its future.” Mr. Soros said Turkey and Japan were still hurt by a reluctance to admit to dark parts of their history, and contrasted that reluctance to Germany’s rejection of its Nazi-era past.

“America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany,” he said. “We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process.”"
And who is this man claiming that in order for things to get back to the correct path, hawks must be gotten rid of, like Nazis after WWII? Presumably by jailing them, putting them to death and other such niceties. Or what else did Soros mean by using this language?

Marc Shulman at American Future, points to a Martin Peretz article at The New Republic (subscription only, so I'm quoting Shulman here) containing mind boggling information about who George Soros is. The history of George, from George's own lips:
On December 20, 1998, there appeared this exchange between Soros and Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes":

Kroft: "You're a Hungarian Jew …"

Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... who escaped the Holocaust …"

Soros: "Mm-hmm."

Kroft: "... by posing as a Christian."

Soros: "Right."

Kroft: "And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps."

Soros: "Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made."

Kroft: "In what way?"

Soros: "That one should think ahead. One should understand that—and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a—a very personal threat of evil."

Kroft: "My understanding is that you went … went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews."

Soros: "Yes, that's right. Yes."

Kroft: "I mean, that's—that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?"

Soros: "Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't … you don't see the connection. But it was—it created no—no problem at all."

Kroft: "No feeling of guilt?"

Soros: "No."

Kroft: "For example, that, 'I'm Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.' None of that?"

Soros: "Well, of course, ... I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was—well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in the markets—that is I weren't there—of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would—would—would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the—whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the—I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt."

Peretz's conclusion:

So this is the psychodrama that has been visited on American liberalism. We learn Soros never has nightmares. Had he been tried in a de-Nazification process for having been a young cog in the Hitlerite wheel, he would have felt that, since other people would have confiscated the same Jewish property and delivered the same deportation notices to the same doomed Jews, it was as if he hadn't done it himself. He sleeps well, while we sleep in Nazi America.
I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.

And this is the same amoral character that chooses to compare us to Nazis, who himself joined with the Nazis, because such behavior had become normative. And he himself places no judgement on his past actions - certainly not publicly, and to judge by the measure of his deeds, not privately either. Clearly, he is ready to turn on anyone, to have loyalty to no one, as long as the "market" - by which he means social norms deranged by wartime - might possibly permit it.

This strikes me as sociopathic.

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Friday, February 02, 2007


Dick Morris brilliantly sums up Obama:
“Obama is like a stem cell. He can become any part of the body he wants to be!”

Or that the media wants him to be!

In reality, he's an unleavened liberal. But the press, using their magical powers, have largely managed to suppress make that fact disappear. At least in their own perception. He's not a liberal, he's a centrist.

Rich Lowry is at the DNC meeting in Washington covering presidential candidates as they speak. Here he covers Obama's speech today at the , describing both his charisma, the response to that charisma he gets from the crowd, and the unoriginality of his discourse.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

That's A Relief Then

President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.

And Israel, too. But as they say, tant pis. On the plus side, this outcome would surely resolve the Israeli/Palestinian crisis right quick.

Chirac, I suspect, has not yet woken up to the realization that nuclear deterrence went out with the Soviets and that there is a Shi'ite president heading Iran, who wants to hasten the Messiah by bringing the apocalypse as soon as he can. i.e. with nuclear bombs. Preferably aimed at Israel.

Yet, the scary thing about Chirac's remarks is how much it overlaps with what Dr. Shmuel Bar, the director of studies at the Institute of Police and Strategy in Israel, claims is Iran's nuclear strategy claims is Iran's nuclear strategy vis-a-vis Israel.
Iran believes "that Israel is a one-bomb country, one bomb from the point-of-view of the receiving side; that the U.S. would not intervene against Iran under such conditions; and all of that with apocalyptic zeal may result in actual use of nuclear weapons," he said.

Bar, who for years worked in the Israeli intelligence community, told a conference on Jan. 9 that Iran was prepared to destroy Muslim cities as the price for firing nuclear missiles toward Israel. He said the ruling Islamic clergy would support a nuclear attack on Israel even at the risk of killing millions of Palestinian Muslims.
In this scenario, as we see, allowing Iran one bomb may very well be fatal - for Israel.

"They're developing weapons both as deterrents and that part of the Iranian regime — the more revolutionary part — has all of the components for developing a doctrine of use of nuclear weapons, as opposed to adoption of using nuclear weapons as deterrents," Bar said. "I think that it's a religious background which brings them to this sort of a doctrine."

Bar said Iran has studied the U.S. wars against the former Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. The chief Iranian lesson was that only nuclear weapons could deter a U.S. attack.

"Nuclear weapons are strategic necessity for deterring the West and Israel and for achieving their strategic goals," Bar said. "Until they arrive at nuclear weapons, Iran's strategic deterrence must rely on terrorism and subversive potential."
As a way of effecting the situation in Iran ourselves, I heard something very interesting on Lawrence Kudlow's Finance show on CNBC earlier this week.

He was discussing Iran with a guest and one of them brought up the notion of disinvesting from Iran, in order to put the financial squeeze on Iran, now that the country is suffering from its truly rotten economy. They've already been outplayed, at least for a while, by the Saudis, who lowered the price of gas substantially, thus lowering the desperately needed revenue.

Divesting from stocks and mutual funds that have investments in Iran is something we can do at home to help put our own financial pressure on the country.

By the way, you'll be glad to know that Chirac retracted some of his remarks.
Mr. Chirac spent much of the second interview refining his remarks of the previous day.

He retracted, for example, his comment that Tehran would be destroyed if Iran launched a nuclear weapon. “I retract it, of course, when I said, ‘One is going to raze Tehran,’ ” he said.
What a relief!

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