The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Friday, September 30, 2005

Assault on the Truth (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 9/30/2005 08:54:00 PM | Permalink | |

Judith Miller and that foiled "Muslim raid"

It was not until I was reading a Hindraker post on Power Line this evening that I recalled a while back that there had been a New York Times reporter who tipped off a Muslim "charity" in New York City that the FBI was about to raid them... but I didn't connect the dots; instead a Power Line reader, an attorney who wrote Hindraker connected them for me--maybe Judith Miller wasn't really doing jail time over the Scooter Libby or even a Valerie Plame source at all:

UPDATE: A New York lawyer has another theory, which is plausible. It's also light years beyond anything you'll read on this topic in the newspapers tomorrow:

Re: your post this evening regarding Judith Miller. Her change of heart may have been prompted by the prosecutor's agreement to refrain from questioning her not about other sources in the Plame matter, but about another matter in which the same prosecutor filed a motion to compel Miller's testimony before the grand jury.

I wrote you about this several months ago. In a published decision, U.S.D.J. Robert Sweet (S.D.N.Y.) denied Fitzpatrick's motion to compel Miller to testify before a grand jury relating to a leak to Miller about a warrant issued to the FBI for a search of a New York Muslim charity's offices. A source leaked this information to Miller, who, incredibly, promptly contacted the Muslim charity and revealed the warrant prior to the search. Fortunately, no FBI agents were injured when they searched the offices the next day, in what clearly could have developed into a very dangerous situation.

District Judge Sweet (I will resist reiterating my comments regarding him included in my other email to you) denied the prosecutor's motion to compel Miller's testimony about this incident, finding, if you can believe it, that Miller's conduct was permissible because it was merely in keeping with the Times' editorial policy of contacting subjects of upcoming articles for comment prior to publication. In opposing the motion Miller stated that she was contacting the charity to get its comments about an article she planned to write after the search had been conducted. In doing so, of course, she divulged the existence of the warrant and created a situation where the office could have been booby-trapped, or at a minimum crucial evidence destroyed or removed. As an attorney, I found the facts of this case and Judge Sweet's reasoning so disturbing that I continue to be shocked, months later, that this incident hasn't received more public comment. I don't expect the Times to report it, of course, but where is the alternative media? I noted that the prosecutor himself (as opposed to a deputy) filed a long affidavit in support of the application, which I understand is something of a rare occurrence in criminal practice. If you haven't read the decision you really should. I found it to be an eye-opener.

In any case, I always thought that Miller agreed to go to jail not to protect a dubious principle and a source who had already clearly released her from confidentiality in the Plame matter, but rather out of self-preservation, so that she could safely ride out the duration of the grand jury in jail without having to testify about the search warrant affair and her frankly criminal role in that. If my sense about this is correct, she caved once it was suggested that the grand jury could be extended for up to 18 more months. The absurdly public "release" from confidentiality recently restated by Scooter Libby gives her cover, but my hunch is that the real reason for her release from jail is the prosecutor's agreement to limit his questioning of her to the Libby contacts, which puts the search warrant matter off limits.

If you are interested in reading Judge Sweet's opinion let me know and I'll try to locate a copy or a link. The decision was published in the New York Law Journal.

Love the site. It is consistently the most informative, reasoned and interesting blog I have seen.

If that's right, maybe it's good news for Libby: he's not being set up by the prosecutor, he's just the PR fall guy for Miller and her lawyer, who don't want to mention a discreditable incident about which the public knows nothing. I hope that's the right explanation. It still leaves open, of course, the question of why Fitzgerald seemed to think it was a big deal to get Miller's testimony, if he wasn't interested in the second source.

DiscerningTexan, 9/30/2005 08:36:00 PM | Permalink | |

NRO Editors: "Targeting DeLay"

The editors of National Review have hit the nail on the head with this Ronnie Earle - Tom DeLay business:

Following the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, conservatives are left wondering what to make of the charges. The answer is simple. The charges are absurd and should be thrown out of court.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has charged DeLay with conspiracy to make a contribution to a political party in violation of the Texas Election Code. The alleged violation involved a money swap between the now-defunct Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC), which DeLay helped found but never managed, and the Republican National State Elections Committee (RNSEC). TRMPAC sent a check for $190,000 to RNSEC, and RNSEC then sent checks totaling approximately the same amount to Texas House candidates in October of 2002. Earle, a Democrat, calls this money laundering, because the money that TRMPAC sent to RNSEC came from corporations, which are barred from contributing to campaigns in Texas.

Earle is wrong. Before campaign-finance reform, this kind of soft-money for hard-money swap was perfectly legal and happened all the time. In October of 2002, the Texas Democratic party did the same thing when it sent $75,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and received $75,000 back from the DNC.

Also, as former Department of Justice official Barbara Comstock
noted yesterday, “Had corporations sent money directly to the RNC or RNSEC, the transaction would be legal. How could anyone conspire to do indirectly what could legally have been done directly?” Earle considers these transactions illegal because he thinks they should be, and he’s convinced a grand jury to play along with him.

Even if the underlying transactions were illegal, Earle would have to convince a jury that DeLay conspired with others to send the checks. DeLay told Brit Hume on Fox News Wednesday night that he was not aware of the transactions until after they had already taken place. If Earle has any evidence proving otherwise, he left it out of the

It should come as no surprise that the mastermind of such a farcical case also conducted a farcical investigation, which dragged on for 34 months and six grand juries. Accused of frequently leaking sealed proceedings, Earle also discussed the case as the featured speaker at a Democratic-party fundraiser last May. He told the crowd, “This case is not just about Tom DeLay. If it isn't this Tom DeLay, it'll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before. This is a structural problem involving the combination of money and power. Money brings power and power corrupts.”

Earle should know. He has already abused his power in this case to extort money from corporations for his own pet projects in exchange for dismissing indictments he brought against them, as Byron York has

These charges probably won’t survive first contact with DeLay’s attorney, who also defended Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in Earle’s crash-and-burn case against her in 1993. Hutchison, up for reelection, insisted on a jury trial. As soon as a jury was chosen, Earle refused to proceed. That judge threw out the case. The same thing should happen this time, if the case even makes it to trial.

One needn't be a DeLay flack to see this. We have had criticisms of DeLay ourselves — his support of the Medicare-drug benefit, his relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and his recent comments about the “pared down” budget all come to mind. But this indictment is outrageous and should not be allowed to succeed as a tactic. While the political fallout of this indictment will take time to sort through, this case makes one thing clear: Campaign-finance regulation makes prosecution a continuation of politics by other means.

DiscerningTexan, 9/30/2005 08:13:00 PM | Permalink | |

Steyn and Hewitt on the State of the Media

Radio Blogger has his weekly transcript of the Hugh Hewitt/Mark Steyn interview, and this week the cross-hairs are appropriately targeted directed at big media:

HH: Joined now by Mark Steyn, columnist to the world. All of his material available at Mark, I've had the strangest day. I've been over taping at PBS, the News Hour, a segment about what the media did, or didn't do in New Orleans. I've been going back and forth with the editor of CBS' Public Eye over their ridiculous attempt to list journo-bloggers, and my slashing of his young cub reporter. And I think American media is in a meltdown. I really do. What do you think?

MS: Well, I think to quote that great panjandrum, Dan Rather, the other day he was on TV, and he hailed the coverage of Katrina, because he said they'd done what journalists are there to do, and that is to speak truth to power. That's actually what they didn't to. In fact, they just took these ludicrous statements from Mayor Nagin, and his police chief in New Orleans, 10,000 dead, there's babies being raped, there's people being tortured and murdered, and they just put it all out on TV without bothering to check whether any of it was correct or not. And one thing I've learned since September 11th, is that a lot of things that 90% of journalists claim as fact are not fact. I mean, it started on about September the 12th, when people said we couldn't invade Afghanistan, because of the quote brutal Afghan winter...

HH: Right.

MS: ...end quote. They were going to have American troops bogged down in temperatures of 60 below Fahrenheit, as their eyebrows froze and all the rest of it. And in fact, Afghanistan's winters are a lot wilder and milder than the northern half of the United States, and the whole of Canada. And in fact, milder than southern England, in large parts. I mean, there are just have to say to yourself that the herd mentality of American journalists now is way out of control, and we don't need a 9/11 commission, or a Louisiana hurricane commission or anything. I think there's something to be said for a commission investigating the media.

HH: Well, I think they've gone into the movie making business. That the facts don't matter. That the pictures all matter, and the story matters. And as a result, what they retailed out of the convention center, the seven year old with the slashed throat, the freezer full of bodies, just shows everything that American media can marshall and throw at a story, it threw at Katrina, and it got it wrong. What's that tell us about what they're reporting from Iraq, much less the Afghan winter, which is at least in a Farmer's Almanac?

MS: Well, you know, I think what's happening in Iraq is that they're all sitting around in the hotel bar in the Green Zone, and they're all talking to each other. They're all being supplied...a lot of people don't understand the media works. If you're in a country like Iraq, there aren't a lot of people whose Arabic is very good. So when you get to Iraq, you're supplied generally with a translator. The big news organizations have translators. Who are those translators? The ones that CNN and ABC and a lot of the big newspapers are using are actually the old Baath party translators. And there's not actually a of the great things about the situation in Iraq is that there are a lot of military bloggers, and there's quite a few freelance bloggers and Iraqi bloggers out there who are in these various towns, giving you a quite different picture. But the herd mentality of journalism, the group think of journalism...I mean, I'm always...I was once, a couple of years back, I was talking to a couple of journalists in New York, and they were asking whether I was going to be back in town for something. I said I wouldn't be able to, because I was going hunting. And they were stunned. Their jaws hit the floor.

HH: Yes, stunned.

MS: Now millions of Americans own guns. Millions of Americans are evangelical or Christian. Millions of Americans oppose abortion. But how many of those millions of Americans would find kindred spirits in the average New York Times or Washington Post or CBS Newsrooms?

HH: Exactly. When I was at the Columbia School of Journalism last week, I quizzed a group of students, sixteen, how many owned a gun? None. How many had been to church in the last month? Three. How many voted for Kerry? All but three who were not American citizens. It is an intake valve that is permanently stuck on left of center. And as a result, that's what happens to the media. I've got to move to a couple of other things. The Delay about your herd mentality. I have never seen as big a non-event reported as extensively as this, because he's still running the House Caucus, Mark Steyn. Does anyone doubt that? Don't they know that?

MS: Well, I think the Democrats for years now have made the mistake of...because they're not great issues people, and they make the mistake of, as they say in English soccer, playing the man, not the ball. And so, they're very good at actually practicing the politics of personal destruction on various Congressional functionaries that most of the American people haven't heard of.

HH: Right.

MS: And they get rid of the guy, and some other guy nobody's ever heard of takes over, and life goes on, and the ideas, which is what's important about conservatism, those ideas stay strong. And until Democrats learn to stop wasting their time trying to do a...take a contract out on some peripheral political figure and actually attack the ideas, they're always going to be losing elections.

HH: But I think there's...AOL right now is running a double box with pictures of Delay and Frist, that says it's a bad week for Republicans. I'm laughing because John Roberts just got confirmed 78-22, and Chuck Schumer is knee deep in trying to rifle the files of a black Lt. Governor in Maryland.

MS: Yeah.

HH: I live on a different planet than these people.

MS: That's a great example of the media group think, because they essentially buy into...what we saw in the vote today is that there's actually 22 votes for abortion absolutism in the United States Congress, that in fact, that is the losing side. And yet, when Chuck Schumer says oh, we require the president to nominate a judge who's in the mainstream, nobody in the media stops to think, well, heck what he means by mainstream. It's the side that keeps losing elections. It's a preposterous definition of mainstream.

HH: And 22. It's less than a quarter of the Senate believes this. And yet, their influence on their caucus is predominant.

MS: Yes, and if you look at that 22, they're tightly confined to a very limited geographic fringe of the country. Basically, the part of the country that are near large bodies of waters, like oceans and great lakes.

HH: Yeah.

MS: It's a very unrepresentative geographical corner that the liberal Democrats are being backed into. And as long as they are the tail that's wagging the dog, the Democrats are never going to be a 51% governing party again.

HH: Now let's turn to the October 15th election. From what you read, the people you've talked to, do you think this Constitution will pass?

MS: Yes, I think it will. And I think, you know, in New York state, after the American revolution, a majority of the population, actually, moved up north to Ontario. They're still known as the United Empire loyalists up in Canada. And by those standards, the consensus achieved in Iraq is remarkable. Consensus doesn't mean you're going to get 100% of the people. The Sunni Arabs are less than 20% of the population of Iraq. And if four tenths of that less than 20% are on board with this Constitution, that comes to enormous approval for the United States Constitution, certainly more for the Iraqi Constitution. Certainly more than the U.S. had at the time.

HH: You know, a car bomb went off today, killed five American soldiers. A terrible thing. We also had three car bombs kill forty or fifty Iraqis. A terrible thing. What do you think the average Iraqi Sunni is thinking? Do they want to have another year of this? Or are they going to say oh, you betcha, we're not going to vote for it, and then go in and pull the lever yes?

MS: Well, I think the interesting thing about that is that when you look at this guy they got the other day, he's Zarqawi's deputy...

HH: Right.

MS: He was turned in by a tip. The tip led the security forces to the exact apartment number of his in the high rise.

HH: Right.

MS: That's a very good level of information, and I think that tells you what a lot of Iraqis feel about these insurgents. They're not the Iraqi people. They don't represent the Iraqi people. They're a ragtag of crazy Baathist dead-enders, and foreign jihadi, and they have no strategy. Sure, they can blow up large numbers of people, mostly Muslims is what..they're mostly blowing up their fellow Muslims. But there's no long-term gain in doing that, except with these ninnies in the American media, and the Democratic Party.

HH: And the people who were on the Mall on Sunday and the pathetic crowd on Monday at the White House. As anti-war protests go, Mark, it's a very underwhelming group of people.

MS: Yes, it's a very small group of people, and I would disagree with you, Hugh, in that I don't think they're ani-war. I think you saw a lot of banners there actively cheering on the other side.

HH: You're right.

MS: That's what's so squalid and discreditable about this. Cindy Sheehan is still getting passed off as this archetypal Army mom by the media. She's not. She's someone who talks about getting the troops out of occupied New Orleans. She is a fruitcake by anybody's...I'm very sorry she lost her son. Her son died very bravely. And I think it's disgusting what his mother is doing, going around dishonoring his memory. But she does not represent any broad body of opinion in the United States.

HH: Black Five, the military blogger, likes to remind people to read Casey Sheehan's story, since we don't want to dishonor him. Thirty seconds, Mark Steyn. What do you think the president does with his next SCOTUS pick?

MS: I think he looks for someone that is actually going to be in the tradition of interpreting the Constitution as the founders originally meant it to be interpreted. And I don't think he's going to do any affirmative action appointment or anything of that. He'll go with the right guy.

HH: Gosh, I hope you're right. No round heels would be great. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure.

DiscerningTexan, 9/30/2005 07:53:00 PM | Permalink | |

DiscerningTexan, 9/30/2005 06:27:00 PM | Permalink | |

The Bennett "controversy": much ado about nothing

Remember the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" back in grade school? It involved a self-important person who continues to cry "wolf" because above all he craves attention. In the fable, eventually after several "false alarms" the wolf really showed up--and the boy's cries were ignored. And the citizens were the big losers in the transaction.

It seems to me that this fable is so remarkably applicable to today's media and the exxagerate-everything-to-the-max Democrats, that one could make a case that this constant sensationalizing and injecting partisanship into every single news story is numbing the collective "public mind" to any story that really does carry weight.

The examples of this phenomenon are everywhere: any Michael Moore movie ever made; the complete fabrication of numerous ugly stories of gang violence in New Orleans, coupled with the gross exaggeration of the death toll for dramatic effect (all designed, of course, to cause the maximum discomfort for the Bush Administration); the spectacle of the false indictment of Tom DeLay by partisan Democrat District Attorney Ronnie Earle (probably the only DA in the country with his own "reality TV" crew...)... the list goes on and on. But perhaps the most elementary illustration of the media's all-"wolf"-all-the-time mentality is the complete twisting of center-right talk-show host Bill Bennett's supposedly "racist" words, which were (naturally) taken completely out of context. This from the man who wrote the bestseller "The Book of Virtues," a person who doesn't have a racist bone in his body. I happen to listen to Bennett evey morning on the way to work--and there could not be a more decent, kind, and considerate human being.

Suddenly, though, the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons are coming out of the woodwork over a conversation Bennett had on his radio show that was quoted completely out of context. Protein Wisdom has documented the details (bold emphases are mind):

On his “Morning in America” radio show a few days back, Bill Bennett—in the context of responding to a caller who’d suggested that making abortion illegal would create more workers 20 years hence—said:

But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could—if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.

Predictably, the
race baiters sprung immediately into action, and, instead of trying to understand Bennett’s point (which has nothing to do with anything inherent to blacks—and in fact, is an argument for just the opposite), decided instead to seize upon the remarks robbed of their context and intent to charge Bennett with racism and demand an apology. (For the record, Bennett was merely referencing “Freakonomics,” which posits the hypothesis that falling crimes rates are related to increased abortion rates decades ago—a position which I take it he rejects).

Sadly, prominent Democratic
leaders, pundits and lawmakers have spearheaded this smear campaign, which I suspect they see as merely one more move in the give and take of the political game; because I refuse to believe that they actually believe Bennett is racist (although some likely do), and so are instead playing gotcha by putting him on the defensive to force him to defend remarks that they know had no racist intent. It’s as if because his words, taken out of context, can, to the uninformed, be taken to mean something they were never intended to mean, his words are therefore useful insofar as they can be deployed to cause him public discomfort—and, by extension, to taint the whole of the Republican party by association.

And the White House,
increasingly incapable of taking a principled stand, provides these disingenuous race baiters with cover—presumably still reeling from the last round of disingenuous race baiting, which came in guise of Hurricane outrage.

None of this, given our partisan culture, is unexpected. But what gives these calculated and malicious rhetorical and performative ploys their political force is twofold: first, the willingness (in this case on the part of Democrats and the press, and now, the White House) to consider Bennett’s remarks outside of their argumentative context; and second, the idea that Bennett’s words are still his beyond his intent to use them in a certain way—which simply echoes the old Judith Butler axiom that “actions continue to act after the intentional subject has announced its completion,” which, while true, is nevertheless incidental, and becomes dangerous as an assertion when interpretation is released from the ground of appealing back to the speaker’s intent. That is, what is at stake here is the role the subject plays in the “meaning” of the act vs. the role played by contingency in giving that act its (subsequent) meaning(s)—or, to put it more specifically, what William Bennett meant vs. what his words can be made to look like they might meanby those in whose interests it is to damage him. In short, they are taking ownership of his words, resignifying them, then using that resignification to taint Bennett with the charge of racism.

All of which takes us back, of course, to our discussions of Allah in the swirly cone, the Flight 93 Memorial, and Captain Ed’s use of “articulate.” Many of Bennett’s critics don’t particularly care what he meant. Instead, they care that what he said can be shown to mean something other than what he meant if it’s removed from context and resignified—though they will then turn around and argue that he really did mean his comments to carry a racist component (either
consciously or unconsciously).

Others will argue that, even if Bennett didn’t intend his argument to carry a racialist component (beyond using it as a hypothetical to make a moral point), he nevertheless should have known that some people would interpret his comments incorrectly, and so should have been more circumspect in making them.

The first argument is linguistically sound insofar as it ascribes to Bennett a particular intent; the second argument is linguistically corrupt, in that argues for some inherent meaning in the signifier—that the marks “mean” something beyond some intention to turn them into language by providing signification.

In this case, most of the criticism seems to me to be linguistically sound, though interpretively sloppy (and, in many cases, intentionally so). Because a fair, rigorous, and judicious reading of Bennett’s comments in their original context suggest he is arguing that, for any number of reasons—from a history of racial divisiveness to poverty to the crutch of the welfare state to failures in public education—blacks are, statistically-speaking, more likely to commit crime (in Bennett’s reading of crime statistics; others would argue that blacks are more likely to be targeted by law enforcement. But for our purposes, it is important that we understand Bennett’s premises). And from that premise, he suggests that, if a society wanted a pragmatic and morally untenable way to reduce crime, it could begin aborting those more statistically likely to commit crime. But doing so would be morally untenable precisely because the procedure would also eliminate a lot more people who wouldn’t, statistically speaking, fall prey to the criminal lifestyle; and so in order to correct a complex statistical issue in a way that is pragmatically expedient, society would be sanctioning something that is morally repugnant.

But why bring up race in the first place?

Well, as Bennett himself tells
ABC News’ Jake Tapper:

"There was a lot of discussion about race and crime in New Orleans,” Bennett said. “There was discussion – a lot of it wrong – but nevertheless, media jumping on stories about looting and shooting and gangs and roving gangs and so on.

“There’s no question this is on our minds,” Bennett said. “What I do on our show is talk about things that people are thinking … we don’t hesitate to talk about things that are touchy.”

Bennett said, “I’m sorry if people are hurt, I really am. But we can’t say this is an area of American life (and) public policy that we’re not allowed to talk about – race and crime."

And Bennett is precisely right: fear of being branded a racist simply should not keep us from discussing racial issues—though that is precisely the practical effect in a culture where the levelling of such charges is easy and carries with it almost no consequences for the person doing the accusing, even if the accusation is made in bad faith, or is based on the flimsiest of pretenses.

Still, as it becomes more and more apparent that Bennett’s argument was manifestly not informed by racism, however, and that his critics’ intitial interpretations appealed to an intent on Bennett’s part that they incorrectly gauged —I expect they will begin shifting their condemnation toward the linguistically corrupt notion that the signifier, divorced from intent, is nevertheless the responsibility of the utterer. And indeed, such a procedure is already underway:

Robert George, an African-American, Republican editorial writer for the New York Post, agrees that Bennett’s comments were not meant as racist. But he worries they feed into stereotypes of Republicans as insensitive. “His overall point about not making broad sociological claims and so forth, that was a legitimate point,” George said. “But it seems to me someone with Bennett’s intelligence … should know better the impact of his words and sort of thinking these things through before he speaks."

“scratch” before him, George argues that, because other people could potentially misinterpret Bennett’s meaning, Bennett himself should have been more careful in choosing his words. And such an argument effectively gives the interpreter power over the grounds of interpretation and relativizes language.

But what would Robert George—and
scratch, and all those who argue for the primacy of the signifier—say if I were to seize upon their linguistic position to argue that, for instance, a rape victim should have known better than to wear a low cut blouse, or that a Muslim who was accosted should have known better than to wander into an area heavily effected by the 911 attacks...?

**** update: To their credit, both
Matt Yglesias and Brad Delong defend Bennett.

**** update 2: For those of you who wish to dismiss this kerfuffle as the
consequence of a soundbite culture about which Bennett, as a political pro, needs to be more cognizant, let me remind you that the way we find ourselves in a soundbite culture to begin with is that we’ve traded context and original intent for brevity and the kind of resignification that comes when an editor decides what to show us is representative of an original utterance. Part of this is the nature of the media beast; which is why it is so important that we be able to trust those who are doing the initial interpreting for us.

**** update 3: John Cole
has more. Be sure to read his comments, where you’ll find every conceivable justification for calling Bennett a racist, most of which boil down to, “because deep inside he probably is, being a Rethuglican and all.”

Eventually, as in the fable of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", the sensationalizing of every single statement by every Republican or conservative that could possibly be taken out of context will--over time--only serve to drive the voting and viewing public even further from the hysterical Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media.
DiscerningTexan, 9/30/2005 06:26:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, September 29, 2005

click to enlarge
DiscerningTexan, 9/29/2005 10:22:00 PM | Permalink | |

Is Ronnie Earle's Timing due to the upcoming Supreme Court Nomination?

John Hindraker has a really interesting theory about the timing of the indictment of Majority Leader Tom DeLay:

There is a lot to be said about Ronnie Earle's indictment yesterday of Tom DeLay--and, by the way, a corrupt DA like Earle can procure an indictment of pretty much anyone he chooses, so I refuse to give Earle cover by attributing the indictment to the grand jury--but the most interesting question to me is, why did he do it?

To help the Democratic Party, obviously; but I mean the question more specifically. Earle has been conducting this "investigation" for three years. He indicted three of DeLay's aides a year ago. If he thought he could get away with indicting DeLay, why didn't he do it then, shortly before the 2004 election?

Earle has said more than once, including as recently as two weeks ago, that DeLay was not a target of his "investigation." So, what changed? One possibility is that, after three years, Earle suddenly found some evidence against DeLay. That's possible, I suppose, but certainly unlikely. Based on the indictment, which we linked to yesterday, it doesn't appear that Earle has any evidence at all. In all probability, the DeLay indictment will be thrown out at some point, and Earle will look like a fool, just as he did when he indicted Kay Hutchison shortly after she was elected to the Senate.

A year ago, and apparently as recently as two weeks ago, Earle did not choose to take that risk. So--once again--what changed? My guess, and it's only a guess, is that it has to do with the impending battle over the Supreme Court. It appears that the Democrats have decided, barring the extremely unlikely possibility that President Bush nominates a Democrat, to filibuster the next nominee, whoever he or she may be. Such a move would be unprecedented in American history, and carries considerable political risk.

I believe that the Democrats think they can get away with a filibuster because they have the Republicans on the run--nothing but bad news from Iraq (untrue, but that's the impression you get from the media), the fiasco of Hurricane Katrina (also untrue, as we're learning), Bush's sagging poll numbers, etc. In order to lay the groundwork for their filibuster, the Democrats are doing everything they can to create an anti-Republican frenzy in the press. My guess is that the DeLay indictment is part of that effort.

It would be interesting to subpoena Ronnie Earle's telephone records and see what Democratic Senators or representatives of the Democratic National Committee he has been talking to over the past couple of weeks.
Personally, I think the theory makes a heck of a lot of sense; clearly the upcoming Supreme Court battle is the most important item on the DNC's radar screen. If Bush is able to place someone else on the court who interprets the law rather than creates new law, it really could be the death knell of the left's agenda for years to come; it is difficult to imagine the Democrats sweeping back into power with the Presidency and both houses of Congress any time soon. So this is their "Little Big Horn": chances are that the Dems will test the "Gang of 14" with a filibuster. The Democrates may indeed place their entire stack of chips on this upcoming battle-- particularly if Bush picks a Judicial Conservative. Therefore a theory that suggests the timing of this indictment, however frivolous, is related to the fact that Bush is going to announce his nominee any day now may not be a mere coincidence.

Meanwhile, Byron York, writing in National Review, has a scathing expose of Earle and his methods. As a Texan who has been following the antics of this highly partisan DA for quite some time, some of the facts presented here by York were shocking even to me. This is a man who is clearly from the Dan Rather/Mary Mapes wing of the Democratic party:

Travis County, Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle, the man behind Wednesday's indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on state campaign-finance charges, has also indicted several corporations in the probe. But last June, National Review's Byron York learned that Earle offered some of those companies deals in which the charges would be dismissed — if the corporations came up with big donations to one of Earle's favorite causes. Here is that report, from June 20, 2005:

Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes.

A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last September indicted eight corporations in connection with the DeLay investigation. All were charged with making illegal contributions (Texas law forbids corporate giving to political campaigns). Since then, however, Earle has agreed to dismiss charges against four of the companies — retail giant Sears, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, the Internet company Questerra, and the collection company Diversified Collection Services — after the companies pledged to contribute to a program designed to publicize Earle's belief that corporate involvement in politics is harmful to American democracy.

Some legal observers called the arrangement an unusual resolution to a criminal case, at least in Texas, where the matter is being prosecuted. "I don't think you're going to find anybody who will say it's a common practice," says Jack Strickland, a Fort Worth lawyer who serves as vice-chairman of the criminal-justice section of the Texas State Bar. Earle himself told National Review Online that he has never settled a case in a similar fashion during his years as Travis County district attorney. And allies of DeLay, who has accused Earle of conducting a politically motivated investigation, called Earle's actions "dollars for dismissals."

On September 21, 2004, a grand jury in Travis County indicted three associates of DeLay — John Colyandro, the head of DeLay's political-action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), Jim Ellis, a DeLay aide and officer of the committee, and Warren Rebold, a Washington fundraiser. The indictments received front-page coverage, with a number of commentators suggesting that Earle was moving toward ultimately indicting DeLay.

Receiving less attention was the grand jury's decision to indict the eight companies for making allegedly illegal contributions to TRMPAC. In addition to Sears, Cracker Barrel, Questerra, and Diversified Collection Services, the group of indicted companies included Bacardi USA, Westar Energy, Williams Companies, and the trade group Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.
Under Texas law, corporations are not allowed to contribute directly to political campaigns, but are allowed to fund the administrative expenses of a political committee.

After the indictment, Earle announced that his prosecutors had uncovered "the outline of an effort to use corporate contributions to control representative democracy in Texas."

The companies denied wrongdoing. Two sources with extensive knowledge of the case involving one of those companies, Sears, spoke at length to NRO and say that Sears executives were convinced the company had done nothing illegal when it contributed $25,000 to TRMPAC. Given that, according to the sources, Sears lawyers were not interested in a plea bargain to end the case. "We were pretty confident that we would win," one source says.

When the company's representatives spoke to Earle, they discovered that the prosecutor was not as adamant about prosecuting them as his public words might have suggested. Indeed, the sources say Earle was willing to drop the charges, providing Sears met a few of his conditions.

First among those, according to the sources, was that Sears make a significant contribution to an organization known as the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University. The Center is devoted to something called "deliberative polling," which was developed by a Stanford professor (and Earle acquaintance) named James S. Fishkin.

Deliberative polling, according to Fishkin, is designed to measure public opinion on issues about which many members of the public are essentially uninformed. According to the Center's website, it works like this:

Deliberative Polling is an attempt to use television and public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the targeted issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place for a weekend in order to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The participants engage in dialogue with competing experts and political leaders based on questions they develop in small group discussions with trained moderators. Parts of the weekend events are broadcast on television, either live or in taped and edited form. After the deliberations, the sample is again asked the original questions. The resulting changes in opinion represent the conclusions the public would reach, if people had opportunity to become more informed and more engaged by the issues.

Earle and Fishkin know each other. Earle told NRO that he became aware of Fishkin's work a few years ago and had become "casually acquainted" with Fishkin when Fishkin was a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, before moving to Stanford. Fishkin, who told NRO that "I don't know [Earle] really well, but I know him slightly," says he once sent Earle a tape of a deliberative-polling production done in Britain, and that Earle "has talked to me vaguely about doing some kind of project."

Earle says a program based on deliberative polling would be a good way to "educate" Americans about the threat that he believes corporate political activity poses to the country's political system. Such a program's influence, he says, would extend far beyond Texas, which is one of 18 states that ban corporate giving. To be most effective, the program would be televised nationally; Fishkin has in the past done polls in conjunction with MacNeill-Lehrer Productions, the company that produces >The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.

"My concern has been that there needed to be a conversation about the role of corporations in American democracy," Earle told NRO. "How do you do that? I think it is vitally important to the future of the country that there be a discussion of this concept."

That's where the indicted corporations came in. According to the sources with knowledge of the Sears case, Earle told company representatives that he wanted Sears to contribute to the Deliberative Democracy group at Stanford, and that a program devoted to the dangers posed by corporate political money might cost as much as $1 million.

"They asked for an outrageous amount of money," says one Sears source, noting that the maximum penalty the company would have been forced to pay if it had gone to trial and lost would have been $20,000. "All the defendants would pay in similar amounts to a fund that would fund a symposium or seminar or event that would be produced in conjunction with PBS, and it would be televised, and the goal of it would be to explore the evils of corporate money in politics and why that is a bad thing."

Sears representatives balked at the offer. Not only was the dollar figure too high, but they believed that the resulting program would be devoted solely to bashing the political activities of corporations, while leaving untouched those of labor unions and other interest groups like trial lawyers. The two sides agreed to talk again later.

Sears was not dead set against paying some money into some sort of project, but company officials were determined that it not go to Stanford, which, Sears believed, would produce an anti-corporation project. When Sears raised its objections, Earle was adamant that Stanford get the money. In response, Sears suggested an alternative, saying it might be interested in contributing some amount of money to the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Even though the university was in his own back yard, Earle still wanted Stanford.

The two sides agreed to talk yet again. The impasse was resolved when, a short time later, Earle changed his mind and agreed that the money — the final figure would be $100,000 — could go to the University of Texas. (As it turned out, a top protégé of Fishkin, professor Robert Luskin, does deliberative polling work at the University of Texas.) The final agreement says that, "The defendant, after discussions with the district attorney, has decided to financially support a nonpartisan, balanced and publicly informative program or series of programs relating to the role of corporations in American democracy, which shall include a program conducted through the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas."

The agreement contained a number of other conditions. First, Sears agreed to "modify [its] website to provide for public access to and disclosure of corporate contributions made by the company." Second, Sears agreed to "not make any illegal corporate political contributions," either in Texas or any other state where such contributions are illegal. Third, Sears agreed to "cooperate with the State of Texas in its prosecution and investigation of any other person for any offense related to the corporate contribution made by defendant." And fourth, Sears agreed to a statement defining its political activity as a danger to the country. "The defendant further acknowledges that the historical basis for the Texas prohibition against corporate political contributions is that they constitute a genuine threat to democracy," the agreement said.

In return, Earle stipulated that the alleged offense charged in the indictment "appears to be restricted to a single incident within the State of Texas and does not constitute a continuing course of conduct." Earle also conceded that Sears had no intent to break the law and "has a history of good citizenship and high ethical standards." Earle noted that Sears had hired a compliance officer, and "has already begun a thorough review of the company's contributions policies and practices." Finally, the agreement said Earle believed that dropping the charges "will serve to cause corporations to more closely monitor and evaluate their political contributions in Texas and throughout the United States."

Earle made similar deals with Cracker Barrel, Questerra, and Diversified Collections Systems. (Cracker Barrel agreed to pay $50,000, and the amount paid by the other two could not be determined by press time.) Cracker Barrel included the text of its agreement with Earle in a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission,
where it can be viewed on the SEC's "Edgar" database.

FLIPPED?Earle's deals with the corporations received relatively little press coverage in light of reporters' continuing interest in the DeLay angle of the story. What coverage there was, was not entirely accurate, according to the Sears sources.

On January 12 of this year, the Los Angeles Times reported that the corporations had "flipped," that is, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Citing unnamed sources, the paper reported that "information gleaned from the companies could be used as leverage to pressure remaining defendants and, potentially, to target more powerful members of the Republican Party in Texas and Washington."
The "flipped" reference rankled insiders. "That was absolutely not true," says one Sears source. "There was no shred of truth to it." Sears officials, the sources say, had already cooperated fully, telling Earle everything they knew about Sears' lone contribution to TRMPAC. In addition, the sources say, Sears had no knowledge of any illegal activity on the part of anyone else. The implication that Sears had turned state's evidence and might finger other companies involved in similarly illegal acts — which, of course, Sears denied it had committed — was, the sources contend, simply wrong.

In any event, the agreements between Earle and the corporations struck some outside observers as not only unusual but also indicative of the highly political nature of the case. "What does funding think tanks and polling organizations have to do with a violation of the criminal law?" asks former United States Attorney Joseph DiGenova, who has publicly supported DeLay. "This is an extortionate use of the indictment power." One close ally of DeLay calls it a "dollars for dismissals" scheme.

Making the situation worse, say DeLay allies, is what they believe is Earle's political motivation in pursuing DeLay. As an example, they point to Earle's attendance at a Democratic fundraiser in Dallas on May 12, in which Earle publicly discussed DeLay. For his part, Earle, an elected Democrat, has denied having any partisan purpose in the investigation. Whatever the case, Earle's dismissal of the charges against Sears, Cracker Barrel, and the other corporations has at least raised the question of whether his allegations were very strong in the first place.
DiscerningTexan, 9/29/2005 09:04:00 PM | Permalink | |

Avian Flu Update: ABC News has some dire projections

The Avian flu story we covered the other day is not going away (via Protein Wisdom):

From ABC News:
The United Nations has begun a worldwide drive to counter the threat of a global flu pandemic. The U.N.’s new avian flu czar, Dr. David Nabarro, will head up the drive to contain the disease and prepare for its possible jump to humans.

The avian flu virus is spread by chickens, ducks and other birds and has been a problem in Southeast Asia for several years, killing at least 65 people in four Asian countries since 2003. With strains of the virus found in humans, there has been growing concern among U.S. officials about the possibility of a pandemic.

Nabarro said he was “certain” that there will be a flu pandemic sometime soon – and that the range of deaths could be anywhere from 5 million to 150 million. He said it was up to the world whether “the next pandemic leads us in the direction of 150 million deaths or in the direction of 5 million deaths.”

Nabarro said he had been invited to the State Department to participate in the avian flu initiative announced by President Bush two weeks ago. He said Bush’s initiative will be a huge success if it can help give all the world’s governments the political will to take the necessary steps ahead of a pandemic.

President Bush has announced an international partnership aimed at preventing an avian flu pandemic. The initiative is geared to increase global communication on the flu, with an emphasis on countries that face outbreaks sharing details and providing samples to the World Health Organization. The U.S. also plans to hold strategic international talks to plan against flu pandemic.

Nabarro said the nightmare scenario would occur if a pandemic began in a refugee community: “If an outbreak starts in Khartoum, or in Darfur – if it was in refugee communities, we would be seeing something cataclysmic for humanity. Nightmare scenario: pandemic takes root in the least well-served and perhaps most crowded areas."

And the worst part? No chicken soup.
DiscerningTexan, 9/29/2005 09:00:00 PM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Day by Day by Chris Muir (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 9/28/2005 10:19:00 PM | Permalink | |

The Delay Witch Hunt: the Truth vs. the Consequences

Easily the most comprehensive coverage I have found on the Web regarding the "indictment" of Tom DeLay was at Michelle Malkin's site. My take is that Earle knows he will not get a conviction: after all 5 previous grand jury panels looking at the same evidence refused to do indict DeLay. And his track record isn't exactly stellar on landing high-profile "big fish." Still, for Earle, the 6th time was a charm (except for the taxpayers of Travis County, who have been paying for over two years for this witch hunt--one that is remains highly likely to end up short of a conviction).

But the thing that must be said here, is this is not about getting a conviction, this is about an out of control DA's ego obsessed with getting even with a political enemy--and especially about doing damage to DeLay's reputation as a mid-term election heats up. Malkin and I are in agreement that this will not help the Republicans in the short term. However we are also in agreement that this thing will likely get tossed out before it ever gets to trial. The people of Austin should hide their heads in shame for electing this yahoo.

As to the sorry excuse for an "indictment" itself, Mark Levin (author of the most excellent "Men In Black", about the current state of the Supreme Court) shared his thoughts:

Here's my first take on this indictment (I've only read the indictment and nothing more for now): The indictment is three pages in length. Other than a statement that "one or more" of 3 individuals, including Tom DeLay, entered into an illegal conspiracy, I can't find a single sentence tying Tom DeLay to a crime. That is, there's not a single sentence tying DeLay to the contribution. The indictment describes the alleged conduct of two other individuals, but nothing about DeLay. You would think if Ronnie Earle had even a thin reed of testimony linking DeLay to the contribution, it would have been noted in the indictment to justify the grand jury's action. Moreover, not only is there no information about DeLay committing acts in furtherance of a conspiracy, there's no information about DeLay entering into a conspiracy. I honestly believe that unless there's more, this is an egregious abuse of prosecutorial power. It's a disgrace. I understand that not everything has to be contained in an indictment, but how about something!

Malkin's comprehensive analysis deals heavily with the "Truth" aspect, via an email to her us by Barbara Comstock, formerly of the Department of Justice:

Ronnie Earle argues that Tom DeLay conspired to make a contribution to a political party in violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no contribution to a political party in violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no conspiracy. Ronnie Earle is wrong on the facts. Ronnie Earle is wrong on the law.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy was to unlawfully make a political contribution of corporate funds to a political party within 60 days of an election.

The Texas Election Code clearly states that "A corporation or labor organization may not knowingly make a contribution [to a political party] during a period beginning on the 60th day before the date of a general election for state and county officers and continuing through the day of the election." Title 15, Texas Election Code, § 253.104. Texas law also states in part that "A person commits criminal conspiracy if, with intent that a felony be committed: (1) he agrees with one or more persons that they or one or more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and (2) he or one or more of them performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement."

The Problems with Earle's case:

In an effort to contrive jurisdiction over DeLay, Earle charges that because Congressman DeLay may have known about the transaction before it occurred, he was then part of a conspiracy.

However, Earle's office has sworn testimony and other exculpatory evidence showing that Congressman DeLay did not have knowledge of the transaction.

In addition:

No corporation or labor organization was indicted in this conspiracy. Neither Jim Ellis nor John Colyandro is a corporation or labor organization.

No corporation or labor organization made a contribution during 60 days of an election.

What constitutes a contribution under the Texas Election Code is not strictly defined.

Neither the RNC nor RNSEC constitute a political party under Texas election law. They are considered PACs, just as the DNC is.

Corporations in Texas could have legally made contributions to the RNC or RNSEC during the period in question under Texas election law.

There was no violation of the Texas Election Code. There was no conspiracy. The underlying transaction was legal. Had corporations sent money directly to the RNC or RNSEC, the transaction would be legal. How could anyone conspire to do indirectly what could legally have been done directly?

Ronnie Earle has a history of using his office for attacks on his political and personal enemies.

·"The Travis County, Texas, prosecutor investigating Mr. DeLay has a history of using his office for partisan ends."(Congressional prerogative, The Washington Times, November 19, 2004)

·Earle has demonstrated a past zeal for indicting conservative figures and even liberals with whom he has personal or professional disagreements. (Target: DeLay, National Review, April 11, 2005)

Earle's partisan prosecutions - which have frequently failed - are designed for political harm, not legal harm. Earle is the same partisan prosecutor who politically indicted and failed to convict:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Conservative Democrat Bob Bullock (when he was Comptroller - later he was Lt. Governor)
Democrat Attorney General Jim Mattox

Ronnie Earle's three year political vendetta against Rep. DeLay has been marked by:

Illegal grand jury leaks,
A fundraising speech by Earle for the Texas Democrat party that inappropriately focused on the investigation,
Misuse of his office for partisan purposes, and
Extortion of money for Earle's pet projects from corporations in exchange for dismissing indictments he brought against them.

Ronnie Earle has been frequently criticized for his methods:

The Dallas Morning News criticized Earle in the Hutchison case:

"the impression of partisan unfairness has certainly been reinforced by the leaks and public comment about Hutchison's case from the District Attorney's office throughout the summer. That the Grand Jury investigation has been conducted with so much fanfare such as the tip-offs to the new media when key records were seized from the former treasurer's office has added a darker tone to the cloudy proceedings." (Hutchison Probe; Fair and Speedy trial is essential, The Dallas Morning News, September 28, 1993)

The Houston Chronicle called into question Earle's impartiality and judgment:
"The fact that Earle refuses to recognize his blunder and would do it again calls into question whether he has the necessary impartiality and judgment to conduct the investigation that to a great extent will determine whether Texas election campaigns will be financed and perhaps determined by corporations or by individuals."

(Self-inflicted wound; District attorney's poor judgment in speaking at a Democratic fund-raiser provides an unintended boost for DeLay's defenders., The Houston Chronicle, May 20, 2005)

But, as Malkin also points out via her link to Ankle Biting Pundits, there will be "Consequences", at least in the short term:

Look folks, there's not good way to try an spin this. Tom DeLay, as expected, has been indicted for campaign finance violations. There's an old saying that "a ham sandwich can be indicted", and by no means is it evidence of guilt. However, in politics, perception is reality, and even if DeLay is cleared eventually the media and the Democrats are going to have a field day. And let's not forget the DA who indicted him is a political hack who pulled a similar stunt on Kay Bailey Hutchinson, which was exposed as a partisan witch hunt. Of course, if DeLay did break the law he should pay the price.

But politically, this is trouble for the GOP. Yes, we've criticized some of his recent actions, but the fact remains he was a big part of the Congressional GOP Leadership - even more than his "Majority Leader" title, and politically he's going to be missed while he concentrates on fighting the charges, as no doubt a conservative agenda will suffer in his absence. Plus, like it or not any GOP candidate who received money from his PAC (and there are many) is going to painted as a crook.

Buckle up people, it's going to be a rough ride for a while, and there's going to be more valleys than peaks in the short term. What this will mean long term is unclear pending the outcome of DeLay's case.

Roundup of Other Opinions: Lorie Byrd at Polipundit notes the Dems are already trying to smear David Drier.

Lifelike Pundits aren't not so certain of DeLay's innocence.

Glenn's initial reaction is that this helps the "Porkbusters" campaign.

NRO's John Podhoretz agrees with us that it's gonna get ugly.
DiscerningTexan, 9/28/2005 08:23:00 PM | Permalink | |

One for the good guys: 9/11 "Peace Memorial" is DOA

It is gratifying to see that men like Soros, who would tear the fabric of our country apart, can't buy everything; as Wizbang reports:

Thank you Debra Burlingame, and everyone else at Take Back The Memorial who worked so hard to keep the focus of the memorials at ground zero on the victims of 9/11.

NEW YORK (AP) - Bowing to pressure from furious Sept. 11 families, Gov. George Pataki on Wednesday removed a proposed freedom museum from the space reserved for it at ground zero, saying the project had aroused "too much opposition, too much controversy."

...The decision followed months of acrimony over the International Freedom Center, with Sept. 11 families and politicians saying that the museum would overshadow and take space from a separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 World Trade Center dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events.

"Freedom should unify us. This center has not," Pataki said. "Today there remains too much opposition, too much controversy over the programming of the IFC. ... We must move forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring memorial to pay tribute to our lost loved ones and tell their stories to the world."

Pataki said the Freedom Center cannot be part of a cultural building located near the proposed trade center memorial. But he left open the possibility that the center could find a home elsewhere on the 16-acre site.

Freedom Center officials, however, said in a statement that they do not believe there is a viable alternative location at the trade center siteAll it was ever about for the IFC crew was ramming their world view down the throats of unsuspecting ground zero visitors. If they're not front and center they're not interested.

If the IFC was in such demand they'd be looking to build it somewhere else. They're not...

No, they're not... Score one for the guys in the white hats.
DiscerningTexan, 9/28/2005 08:10:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Click to enlarge
DiscerningTexan, 9/27/2005 08:15:00 PM | Permalink | |

Peaceniks?? Yeah, right...

Christopher Hitchens sheds even more light on what this "peace" crowd in Washington were really about:

Saturday's demonstration in Washington, in favor of immediate withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, was the product of an opportunistic alliance between two other very disparate "coalitions." Here is how the New York Times (after a front-page and an inside headline, one of them reading "Speaking Up Against War" and one of them reading "Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other Cities") described the two constituenciess of the event:

The protests were largely sponsored by two groups, the Answer Coalition, which embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives, and United for Peace and Justice, which has a more narrow, antiwar focus.

The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across "International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper—to mention only two radical left journalists—who have exposed "International ANSWER" as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadismap

The group self-lovingly calling itself "United for Peace and Justice" is by no means "narrow" in its "antiwar focus" but rather represents a very extended alliance between the Old and the New Left, some of it honorable and some of it redolent of the World Youth Congresses that used to bring credulous priests and fellow-traveling hacks together to discuss "peace" in East Berlin or Bucharest. Just to give you an example, from one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well, I can tell you that the Worker's World Party—Ramsey Clark's core outfit—is the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary. The WWP is the direct, lineal product of that depraved rump. If the "United for Peace and Justice" lot want to sink their differences with such riffraff and mount a joint demonstration, then they invite some principled political criticism on their own account. And those who just tag along … well, they just tag along.

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh.

And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

Some of the leading figures in this "movement," such as George Galloway and Michael Moore, are obnoxious enough to come right out and say that they support the Baathist-jihadist alliance. Others prefer to declare their sympathy in more surreptitious fashion. The easy way to tell what's going on is this: Just listen until they start to criticize such gangsters even a little, and then wait a few seconds before the speaker says that, bad as these people are, they were invented or created by the United States. That bad, huh? (You might think that such an accusation—these thugs were cloned by the American empire for God's sake—would lead to instant condemnation. But if you thought that, gentle reader, you would be wrong.)

The two preferred metaphors are, depending on the speaker, that the Bin-Ladenists are the fish that swim in the water of Muslim discontent or the mosquitoes that rise from the swamp of Muslim discontent. (Quite often, the same images are used in the same harangue.) The "fish in the water" is an old trope, borrowed from Mao's hoary theory of guerrilla warfare and possessing a certain appeal to comrades who used to pore over the Little Red Book. The mosquitoes are somehow new and hover above the water rather than slip through it. No matter. The toxic nature of the "water" or "swamp" is always the same: American support for Israel.

Thus, the existence of the Taliban regime cannot be swamplike, presumably because mosquitoes are born and not made. The huge swamp that was Saddam's Iraq has only become a swamp since 2003. The organized murder of Muslims by Muslims in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan is only a logical reaction to the summit of globalizers at Davos. The stoning and veiling of women must be a reaction to Zionism. While the attack on the World Trade Center—well, who needs reminding that chickens, or is it mosquitoes, come home to roost?

There are only two serious attempts at swamp-draining currently under way. In Afghanistan and Iraq, agonizingly difficult efforts are in train to build roads, repair hospitals, hand out ballot papers, frame constitutions, encourage newspapers and satellite dishes, and generally evolve some healthy water in which civil-society fish may swim. But in each case, from within the swamp and across the borders, the most poisonous snakes and roaches are being recruited and paid to wreck the process and plunge people back into the ooze. How nice to have a "peace" movement that is either openly on the side of the vermin, or neutral as between them and the cleanup crew, and how delightful to have a press that refers to this partisanship, or this neutrality, as "progressive."
DiscerningTexan, 9/27/2005 07:32:00 PM | Permalink | |

The Media's complicity in Katrina, Part II

Today, even the LA Times is admitting big media's complicity in making the Katrina tragedy worse than it had to be:

Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane.

The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.

His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor.

The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling — that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement."

It doesn't take anything to start a rumor around here," Louisiana National Guard 2nd Lt. Lance Cagnolatti said at the height of the Superdome relief effort. "There's 20,000 people in here. Think when you were in high school. You whisper something in someone's ear. By the end of the day, everyone in school knows the rumor — and the rumor isn't the same thing it was when you started it."

Follow-up reporting has discredited reports of a 7-year-old being raped and murdered at the Superdome, roving bands of armed gang members attacking the helpless, and dozens of bodies being shoved into a freezer at the Convention Center.

Hyperbolic reporting spread through much of the media.

UPDATE: Michael Heidt is mad as hell about this--and who can blame him? It is hard to refute his contention than in its hypebole, the MSM was exploiting race to make a point that was completely false:

Katrina didn’t just wash away hundreds of homes and businesses; it washed away the cheesy veneer of multiculturalism that the Left has been using to cover its own racist tendencies. The MSM aided by various victim-identity groups continue to peddle the meme that Bushitler McHalliburton intentionally withheld life saving disaster relief from the Gulf region in order to punish intransigent blacks that refused to vote GOP last time.

Furthermore, they ostensibly contend that the more robust federal response to Rita is to help white Texan rednecks and rub poor black New Orleanian’s noses in it. The stories of horrific conditions of filth, murder, rape and mayhem emanating from the Superdome and the Convention Center and dutifully reported without batting an eye by MSM anchors now seems to have revealed the real racists.

Shep Smith, Anderson Cooper, Geraldo et al not to mention the Kossacks, DU, and every other vermin of the lefty web all gleefully reported the completely false stories of gangrapes, throat slitting of children, bodies stacked like cordwood, and any other tale of grisly, inhuman activities. Why? Because they really think that the poor blacks of New Orleans and elsewhere are savages, capable of unspeakable acts of gore and only one missed welfare check away from total devolution to an underclass of genocidal maniacs.

As it turns out, only a handful of people died in the Superdome by natural causes, and the murder rate in New Orleans (which is admittedly too high) remained essentially flat during the week of Katrina.

Stories of blacks reverting to their cannibal instincts were lapped up without even the most cursory fact checking because racist liberals already thought that blacks were intellectually and morally equivalent to the savages that inhabit their African homeland. They proved the anecdote that if you keep saying something that is untrue enough times, people will start to believe it. FEMA started believing it and ordered 25,000 body bags when maybe a thousand will be needed.
DiscerningTexan, 9/27/2005 07:02:00 PM | Permalink | |

This needed to be said Re: Loyalty in Wartime

Kudos are due to Rick Moran, who follows up yesterday's excellent piece on what could be the beginnings of an avian flu pandemic with this heartfelt essay on where our priorities are vs. what they should be during wartime. And I would add that what Moran says should apply especially to the press, when indeed the opposite seems to be the case:

There is a school of thought that believes the idea of loyalty to one’s country is a crass, outmoded concept not worthy of consideration by thinking people. Rather, loyalty, if given at all, should be reserved for nebulous and ethereal entities like “humanity” or “the family of man.”

International socialism has long advocated this global view of loyalty – except, of course, when the old Soviet Union was in trouble for one of its frequent deviations from civilized behavior. It was at this point that Moscow would crack the whip and leftists from Berlin to London to Los Angeles would dutifully parrot the party line, excusing the brutes in the Kremlin for all sorts of very unsocialist and inhuman atrocities.

Thankfully, this view of loyalty is not shared by the vast majority of citizens in the United States. Most Americans recognize the importance of loyalty to the government during a time of war when America’s sons and daughters are in harm’s way. This has never been more evident than when looking at how we view the war in Iraq.

According to the latest polls, barely 40% of the country approves of the way that President Bush is conducting the war in Iraq. But when asked if we should pull our troops out before the job of securing the country and helping the Iraqis achieve a stable, democratic government is complete, fully two thirds of Americans say no. This slap in the face to the leftist narrative of how the American people see the war in Iraq seems to have been lost on this past weekend’s partygoers in Washington whose speakers continued to insist that the majority of the people opposed the war and wished the troops to come home.

Leave it to the left to never let the truth stand in the way of a good old fashioned Soviet-style propaganda campaign.

True, there are permutations within permutations in the poll numbers. One of the more remarkable tidbits to be found in these figures is the belief that the war was a “mistake” because no mass stockpiles of WMD were found has hovered near the 50% mark for more than a year. What makes it remarkable is that even though roughly half the nation thinks going into Iraq was an error, a sizable portion of those people also believe we should stay until the job is done.

The left would point to these Americans and call them confused. I think they should be congratulated for their loyalty. What the left sees as stupidity, I see typical American common sense. Most Americans – even those who opposed going to war in the first place – realize the dire consequences of a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. The destabilization and possible collapse of the Iraqi government would place America in great danger and would be inimical to our national interest. This fact is so obvious that it calls into question why almost all of the speakers at the anti-war rally in Washington on Saturday called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops.
To understand why one need only look a little closer at the motley collection of socialists, anarchists, anti-globalists, pan-Arabists, post modern deconstructionists, one worlders, and racialists who descended on Washington for their moment in the media spotlight. If there’s one thing the tatterdemalion left has become over these last lost years since the fall of the Soviet Union it is publicity deprived. They are absolutely starved for media attention. Even the anarchists can’t have a decent riot anymore that rates a blurb in The Guardian. Part of the problem is the fractured nature of their “coalition.” The only way they could get the kind of numbers necessary to get anyone to pay any attention to them was by inviting everyone in the world who has a grudge against America.

Hence, most of the podium speakers at the rally were not there to solely promote an anti-war agenda but rather each had his or her own particular anti-American ax to grind. The racialists called for an end to racism. The tribalists called for an end to capitalism. The primitives called for an end to industrialized civilization. The greenies called for an end to everything else. Yes, they all paid lip service to the anti-war message that brought them together in the first place. But their real reason for bringing their followers to Washington was to garner support from the hard-left moneymen like George Soros and leftist PR gurus like David Fenton, who is currently managing Cindy Sheehan’s race toward obscurity. A few dollars here and there gleaned from the Smart Set in Washington will at least keep the mimeograph machines going and pay the rent for a few more months.

Not surprisingly, there was very little talk of loyalty. When “patriotism” was brought up, we were continually assured that yes, these were indeed patriotic Americans who only wanted to exercise their right to dissent from government. Of that, I have little doubt. The question isn’t whether they are patriotic Americans, the questions is are they loyal Americans?

The two terms are related but not mutually exclusive. Patriotism is a feeling, a “love or devotion to one’s country.” Loyalty, by definition, is an action word. It is “allegiance to one’s country” or “faithfulness to one’s government.” Many traitors have come and gone calling themselves “patriots.” Few would agree that they were being loyal.

How does the left get around this little non-sequitur? They huffily point out that they are being loyal to the “idea” of America or “American ideals.” Since these ideals were present at the founding of the nation, it is perhaps gratifying that so many on the left have finally embraced the idea of strict constructionism – at least when it becomes a convenient explanation for their perfidy in giving aid and comfort to an enemy that is shooting at American soldiers overseas.

For that is what the demonstrators in Washington forgot to mention in all their sloganeering and speechifying; the fact that the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq have only one chance to achieve their goal of overthrowing the Iraqi government and gaining power. And that is only if America walks away before the job is done.

They are hoping that history repeats itself and America abandons an ally to its fate as a result of both timid policy makers and domestic opposition to the war. And since this hope is all that the insurgents have to go on (for they can never defeat the US military on the field of battle), leftist opposition to the war can only be judged as disloyalty. They can call themselves patriots if they want. There is no way we can look into their souls and judge their love or hate for the United States. But we can certainly judge their loyalty based on their actions – actions that have the practical effect of encouraging the insurgents in Iraq to increase the body count of Americans, testing the mettle of our citizenry to stay the course until the job is well and truly done.

As the democratic process in Iraq moves forward in fits and starts, and the Iraqi people slowly and cautiously march toward an uncertain future that may yet include sectarian violence and other setbacks in achieving national unity, the need for our troops to stay and assist them in this historic task will remain great. And sustaining our elected leaders in this hard, slogging task with our loyalty will become more and more critical as time goes by. It no doubt is the greatest test of our fealty to the United States government that many of us will ever have. But it will be absolutely necessary for us to win through to total victory and bring our sons and daughters home in triumph.

DiscerningTexan, 9/27/2005 06:39:00 PM | Permalink | |