Friday, October 21, 2005

 

This Woman Is Still Employed Because...?

Hmmm...how many people get to embarrass their employer not once, but twice, then lie to the boss -- yet, still manage to, at least nominally, keep their job? What -- does Judy have photos of Keller in an compromising position?

Bill Keller's e-mail that just about completes the total humiliation of The New York Times.

Pretty cool media version, though, of the old drop-bad-news-late-on-Friday trick!

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Government 'all wrong'..

..on Katrina.

Frances Townsend, Bush's homeland security and counterrorism adviser:
The sense of everyone involved was that we were appropriately positioned and that we had the mechanisms in place. It turned out we were all wrong, we had not adequately anticipated.
Hmmm, that sounds familiar: "...we were all wrong." Where did I hear somewhat similar words? Darn it, it's on the tip of my tongue...

Oh right, now I remember:


[I] also believe that it is time to begin the fundamental analysis of how we got here, what led us here and what we need to do in order to ensure that we are equipped with the best possible intelligence as we face these issues in the future.

Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here.

...I talked on several occasions prior to the war that my view was that the best evidence that I had seen was that Iraq, indeed, had weapons of mass destruction.
-- David Kay, former head, Iraq Survey Group
Well, if you're going to be "all wrong," why just be "all wrong" on little things?

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

 

You Can Call Me Al-Saddam


So, quite a riotous opening to the trial of a
certain Baathist dictator, eh?

You know who I mean. This guy:




He apparently refused to tell the court his name, struggled with guards and took a defiant stand throughout:
[A]t the opening of the trial, the ousted Iraqi leader -- looking thin with a salt-and-pepper beard in a dark gray suit and open-collared white shirt -- stood and asked the presiding judge: "Who are you? I want to know who you are."

"I do not respond to this so-called court, with all due respect to its people, and I retain my constitutional right as the president of Iraq," he said, brushing off the judge's attempts to interrupt him. "Neither do I recognize the body that has designated and authorized you, nor the aggression because all that has been built on false basis is false."
With all that, one has to wonder: Who gets the lead in the movie? Hmmm...maybe I'm crazy, but there was something strangely familiar about that particular court outburst:
You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!...It's just a show! It's a show! It's "Let's Make A Deal"! "Let's Make A Deal"! Hey Frank, you wanna "Make A Deal"? I got an insane judge...! Whaddya wanna gimme Frank, 3 weeks probation?
You know, I think Al could just pull this off:



...And Baghdad Justice For All?

It's got possibilities.

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From Quag-Miers to Quicksand...

The writing seems to be on the wall when center-left Slate and conservative NRO come to essentially the same conclusion: Say good night, Harriet.

The
"incomplete" questionnaire was manna-from-heaven to senators: Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, they no longer had to worry about things like ideology or judicial philosophy or cronyism; instead, they had proof -- in Miers' own hand -- that she doesn't have the basic knowledge-set to sit on the nation's highest court.

The question now is to figure out how the endgame is played; that may not be as easy as one might think. One problem for the White House: If the nomination is basically dead -- and from all appearances it is -- what's the strategy in selecting the replacement and what's the timetable?

Normally, one would imagine that the administration would use this weekend to begin the replacement process -- perhaps with an eye toward the end of next week to unveiling the nominee. Yet, with some sort of action expected from Patrick Fitzgerald in regards to the Washington's
other big story, one wonders if it is possible for the White House to focus on bringing the Miers debacle to as quick a face-saving conclusion as possible.

On a lighter note, exactly what got the Senate Judiciary Committee members so exercised about Miers' questionnaire? Somehow, the liberal blogger Billmon dug up
the document in question. Quite revealing.

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Unfathomable Thursday Comic Book Blogging!

Darn. Scooped by my own paper!

I had planned to do a post today on the amazing pop culture renaisssance of -- of all "people" --
Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas. Well, "renaissance" might not be the right word given that the guy has never been what one could call "cool. Anyway, I was going to write about it -- only to find that I have been beaten to it by my New York Post colleague, Don Kaplan --mild-mannered TV writer by day, super-stud comic-book fan by night.

Don hits on all the points I was going to make: Not only is there the appearance tonight of a buff King of the Seas on Smallville, a fictional big-budget Aquaman movie has been the main backdrop in HBO's Entourage. I would also add that, casually walking aroung Manhattan this summer, it was surprising to see how many young guys were wearing Aquaman (circa '60s cartoon show) T-shirts.

Don explains -- in a very accessible way for the non-fan -- the character's background, multiple origins and why he's never been seen as cool. (Um, yeah, I know what you're thinking: A guy who talks to fish not-being-seen-as-cool -- does that really require much explanation? True, but even given that, Aquaman has come up short -- never even reaching the hipness quotient of
a certain pointy-eared guy with wings on his feet.)

Well, all that has changed. For whatever reason, all the stars have lined up -- this is Aquaman's moment.

And that's no fish story.

Oh, Mr. Kaplan also had a great interview last weekend with American Splendor creator
Harvey Pekar. Check it out.

UPDATE: As comprehensive and well-reasoned defense of Aquaman comic book character as you're ever likely to read can be found here.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

 

Harriet's Poor Early Progress Report

My, oh my, oh Miers.

Not only is she busy
cramming for next month's big final exam, but her two main professors give her a big "incomplete" on her first pop quiz.

Wonderful.


UPDATE: Excellent reader e-mail:

Subject: If there ever was a need for John Houseman the time is now.

This sounds like something from "The Paper Chase."

"The Senate Jud Cmte asked Harriet Miers to 'resubmit' parts of her questionnaire because some members had found her responses 'inadequate,' 'insufficient' and 'insulting' (
New York Times). "


Indeed.

Can't wait for the Law and Order moment in the hearings: "The witness is being unresponsive."

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BLING! Times Have Changed!!!

Once upon a time, demanding that black men "wear" chains would be considered a "racist statement."

Today?

Well, let's just say things are now somewhat, um, "different."

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 

Bartlett vs. The West Wing

Not Josiah -- Bruce .

Considering he just lost his
day job, you might consider picking up the book that contributed to his getting canned.

Mouths to feed and all that.

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Steinbrenner Heart Attack Watch...

Temporarily (?) on hold.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

 

Still Wallowing in the Miers

The administration's "re-launching" of the Miers nomination begins this week. But two articles demonstrate why this will be an incredibly difficult task. Consider the implications of this statement in Time:
Bush's friends contend that it is the conservative elite, not the President, who miscalculated and that self-righteous right-wingers stand to lose their seats at
the table of power for the next three years. "They're crazy to take him on this frontally," said a former West Wing official. "Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it." If a Justice Miers eventually takes her seat on the court, vocal critics can only hope the Bush Administration handles the punishment of the treasonous as poorly as it is currently promoting one of its most loyal subjects.
Think about that: "Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it."
So, a supporter of the president candidly makes a statement making the president of the United States look like the Godfather. With friends like these...

Secondly, the Wall St. Journal's
John Fund writes about the assurances religious conservative supporters of Miers have that she will vote to overturn Roe:


On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends--both sitting judges--said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.
These conference calls are a regular part of the whole conservative confirmation struggle. I've participated in at least one. The fact that one participant felt comfortable turning over their notes from the call shows a true falling-out amongs those who once considered themselves ideological blood brothers and allies in the broader fight.

Normally, this conversation would never have emerged into the broader media, thus making the participants vulnerable to Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas during the Miers hearings.

No wonder the Monday e-mail of Manny Miranda -- the head of the Third Branch coalition of conservative groups that had been organized to get the president's judicial nominees confirmed -- was entitled, "Two weeks later, much worse."

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It's The End Of The World As We Know It...

Tsunamis. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Mudslides. Fires.

Is it any wonder that people think that the final days are really approaching -- or here?

Be on the lookout for further overwhelming events -- nigh bordering on the supernatural -- that suggest that "the end" truly is near.

Uh-oh.

UPDATE I: Yes, I am fully aware that there would be a greater likelihood of the world ending were it the other Chicago team in the World Series. Having the Cubs winning the year right after the Red Sox would seem like a flagrant tempting of fate. However, arguably, the need to overcome the taint of the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal puts the "Pale Hose" century-long dark cloud right up there with the "Curse of the Babe."

UPDATE II: The screaming that you will likely hear tonight if Houston closes out the National League Championship Series will be coming from Tampa, Florida. It will be Mr. George M. Steinbrenner as he sees former Yankee Andy Pettitte clinching a first-ever World Series appearance for the Astros the night after former Yankee Jose Contreras threw a complete-game series clinching victory for the Chicago White Sox -- putting them in the Fall Classic for the first time in 46 years. If Pettitte doesn't do it tonight, former Yankee Roger Clemons has the opportunity to do it on Wednesday. Then, of course, there is former Yankee Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez helping the White Sox from the bullpen. Hmm...wonder if the Yankee overall pitching staff would have been a bit better with any of these guys?

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Back to J-School: Judy, John, July

Kevin Drum tries to connect the dots as to why Joseph Wilson's wife was outed as "Valerie Plame" -- her maiden name, which she apparently used on "Company" business, but not socially or officially. He reasons that it connects back to John Bolton. Several months back, Steve Clemons first noted that Bolton was a regular source for Miller on WMD issues. He also visited Miller in jail, possibly twice.

In any event, while we're reading Kevin's piece, let's not forget the
timeline: What was John Bolton doing on July 18th, the day UK scientist David Kelly's body was found (he killed himself shortly after responding to Judy Miller's e-mail): Being interviewed by the State Department inspector general on the issue of uranium in Niger. This was an inquiry that Bolton "did not recall" and failed to mention on the form he had to fill out prior to his U.N. confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

So, to recap: Judy Miller
"forgets" an earlier meeting with Scooter Libby until she finds a "missing" notebook; Karl Rove "forgets" that he had talked to Matt Cooper about Joseph Wilson's wife until he retrieves a "missing" e-mail; John Bolton "forgot" that he had testified in the State Department's internal WMD inquiry. For the record, Miller and Rove's initial penalty for their problematic memories has been more time with the grand jury. Bolton only had to "amend" the "inacurate" statement to the Foreign Relations Committee.

Meanwhile, Miller also
"forgot" who gave her the name "Valerie Plame" (or "Flame" as she actually jotted it down).

Round and round it goes, where it stops no one knows!


(Oh, for a further exegesis on the implicatons of the summer '03 goings-on in the US and UK, check here and here. Conservative readers might want to nose around those respective sites in a delicate manner.)

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

 

Lifestyles Of The Rich & Fabulist...

Lots to digest on the Miller front today, however, for now I will just address the point that Josh Marshall brings up on the description of government sources.

I'm not a daily reporter either, but obviously, as a columnist, there are times when I have to figure out a way to describe a source to be as clear as possible, while also protecting the individual's confidentiality. There have been times when I've described one source in different ways. However, what Miller did in describing Scooter Libby -- who would normally get the "senior administration official" or "someone close to the White House" -- as a "former House staffer?"


Heck, that covers more than half of Washington, DC -- and more (yours truly included)! Miller's agreeing to go with that description is just one more draw-dropping moment in a case of startling dimensions.

It's also another stunning hit to the credibility of both the New York Times and mainstream media organizations. The question is, after the Jayson Blair debacle (which, it is very clear to see now, flowed seamlessly into the mid-'03 period at issue), how on earth can the Times keep Miller on staff? She clearly passed along information designed to undermine an individual -- and acceded to the source's request to change the usual attribution. It never occurred to Miller that she was actually being used -- or it did occur to her, but she decided to go ahead with it?

I agree with Josh's point: "I can't come up with a memory of a situation in which a source has asked me to identify them in this way. And by 'this way' I mean in a fashion that is technically accurately but intentionally and willfully misleading to readers."

So, for emphasis, given the identity politics that the New York Times is so often concerned with, will the institution decide to give a greater pass to a white female in her '50s than to a 20-something black reporter just starting out?

An appropriate conundrum for the Old Gray Lady to ponder.

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