My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Don't Expect White Flags In September

From RMPN: "The "party of the people" is in full retreat.

Following the WaPo's story extolling the successes of the Bush Administration in the last week of the session, I'm very surprised that there's not more of such anger and/or defeatism on some of the other lefty websites.

But I'm not saying this to gloat. I'm saying this because all 44 Democratic Senators (think Salazar), plus Jeffords, Snowe, and the others are going home for a month. If you don't think they're gonna get an earful of that anger from the people who got them elected, you're crazy. Which means I would expect a huge--HUGE--fight for John Roberts when the Senate returns after Labor Day.

Time to gear up for a battle.

Too Frightening to Contemplate

Some on the Left, in light of the numerous (if slightly hollow) GOP victories in Congress this week, have taking to musing about what would happen if Al Gore had won in 2000.

No, seriously.

This was too fertile a soil for me to just let it slip past, so enjoy my ruminations. Feel free to contribute other thoughts, as well.

Had Al Gore assumed the presidency in 2001, he would have confronted the same challenges - a nation, and world, simmering in a mix of cultural/religious extremism and declining resources. Realistically speaking, Mr. Gore could probably not have solved any of these problems, but he would have worked in the direction of long-term solutions - and by doing so, minimized the overall impact.

Actually, if memory serves, the legacy of Clinton/Gore was one of NOT confronting challenges, but obscuring them, signing meaningless treaties, and moving right along to the next "challenge." The reality, for the most part, was that stability and comity were more valuable than progress and reality (see: Iraq arms inspections; North Korea; the Balkans)

Mr. Bush has been a spendthrift of historic proportions - he first engineered huge tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, then started screaming about how Social Security was "bankrupt." Bush’s "privatization" scheme for Social Security was designed to benefit Wall Street, not retirees.

Well, first of all, I am far from being the "ultra-wealthy," but I gotta say I liked the tax cuts. And I can't tell you how important it was to my family to get that child tax credit rebate check in the few weeks after we finally made the decision to have the bewitching Mrs. BestDestiny stay home with the children. And, if I'm not mistaken, the Social Security bankruptcy issue was identified by a bipartisan commission during the Clinton administration, which proposed as one of its solutions a privatization component, and the President's 2001 Commission had three possible solutions, ALL OF WHICH INCLUDED PRIVATE ACCOUNTS. So this is not just "President's Risky Scheme," nor is it exclusively tied to Wall Street Fund Managers.

Not to mention the effect that the President's stimulus has had on the economy. Imagine a Gore Presidency: inheriting a recession, taxation remains high, and then we get hit by Sept 11 and take a multi-hundred-billion dollar hit to the economy. What then? How would we have come out of the recession then? Is it not equally conceivable that instead of the sharp downturn we took in 2002 that the resulting chaos and instability could have slipped us into a full-blown depression? Perhaps we should have modeled our economy on the European model, like Clinton/Gore would prefer: then we, too, could be completely stagnant with unemployment hovering around 10% for two, three years at a time.

Mr. Gore supported conservation and fuel-efficiency, touting the emerging technology of hybrid automobiles. Mr. Bush ridiculed those vehicles and allowed energy companies to set America’s energy policies in secret meetings with Dick Cheney. (Mr. Cheney, of course, also ridiculed the idea of using energy conservation as an aspect of a national energy policy). The result, of course, is that the foreseeable oil needs of China and India are skyrocketing, demand is at an all-time high, and domestic gasoline prices are over two dollars a gallon.

Of course, never you mind about the Energy Bill which has languished in Democratic obstructionism for four years. You remember the Energy Bill?--which includes billions for new research, hydrogen technology, alternative fuels? Maybe those would have been useful in the last four/five years. And maybe, just maybe, with overseas demand for fuel being so great, we ought to--I know, this sounds crazy--FIND A WAY TO PRODUCE OUR OWN DAMN OIL!

But then, the fun really starts.

Perhaps most importantly, Mr. Gore would likely have carried over a Clinton administration focus on terrorist cells and Osama bin Laden. . . . It’s not so difficult to assess the different responses to 9/11 we would have seen. Mr. Bush launched what has turned out to be a fairly minor excursion into Afghanistan - with surprisingly little focus on Osama bin Laden - then turned all his attention toward Iraq and Saddam Hussein. It is a fair speculation to say that bin Laden would have been Mr. Gore’s primary focus - and that we would have seen Osama brought to justice. Instead, it is now almost four years since September 11, 2001, and Osama bin Laden continues to send his taunting messages. Again, to this point, no administration could have done worse than Mr. Bush’s in capturing or killing Osama bin Laden.

It is virtually certain that Mr. Gore would not have become fixated on Bush’s wasteful, unnecessary, and illegal venture into Iraq.

Actually, I tend to believe the advisors of Al Gore who spoke thankfully that he was not President when the Towers fell. But beyond that, let's consider whether there even would have been a response to 9/11. Perhaps Gore would have gone after bin Laden--I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he would have pursued bin Laden at great length. But there's very little to suggest that he would have been more successful in the hunt, nor is there anything anywhere in his history to suggest that he would have been inclined to remove the Taliban at all. Was it not during his tenure that the Taliban came to power and began its display of hatred by demolishing centuries-old Buddhist statues? Wherefore the administration then? Hell, that administration didn't even bother to finish a job it had started in Somalia after it got punched in the nose.

But let's look at the ripple effects of Iraq. Let's start with Zarqawi. Why would such a man flee to Baghdad after being injured in Afghanistan? and to what end would it be for him to open terrorist training camps in Iraq. More importantly, imagine what he alone might have accomplished in the two years since the invasion of Iraq if he had not been fighting in Iraq. If such a man can elude the US Army and Marines, all the while finding new and odious ways to kill the same, WHAT KIND OF HORROR COULD HE HAVE VISITED UPON THE U.S. IF HE WASN'T FIGHTING IN IRAQ?

Then, of course, there's the issue of Lebanon. And Libya. Even Palestine. I would go so far as to say the Orange Revolution felt the ripples of the invasion of Iraq. Had President Gore not "become fixated on Bush’s wasteful, unnecessary, and illegal venture into Iraq," it is safe to assume that a great many regimes around the region would still be comfortably ensconced in power with little to motivate them to liberalize or modernize.

But, maybe, just maybe, Al Gore might have undertaken an agressive and far-reaching military response. Or attempted to. Just imagine this: the Commander-In-Chief giving orders to his military to undertake difficult and dangerous missions LESS THAN A YEAR AFTER HIS CAMPAIGN HAD ATTEMPTED TO DEPRIVE THE MILITARY OF THEIR RIGHTS TO HAVE THEIR VOTE COUNTED.

As we seek to endure the times we now live in, it’s worth speculating on the man who might have been the best president this country never had.

I agree that such speculation has worth . . .

to remind us of how lucky we are.


Dissenting Views

A couple days ago I wrote about a fatwa issued by an American-Muslim coalition. I wrote at the time that I thought this was an important development, as it could indicate a growing tide of Muslims against Islamicism.

Since then, I've noticed a couple of dissenting opinions from people whose opinions I respect. Be sure to check out Joshua's thoughts on the matter, as well as anti-terrorism guru Steve Emerson's thoughts.

MSM: Hey--When Did HE Start Running Things?

Laughingly, from the WaPo:

After years of partisan impasses and legislative failures, Congress in a matter of hours yesterday passed or advanced three far-reaching bills that will allocate billions of dollars and set new policies for guns, roads and energy. . . .

Lawmakers cited several factors for the breakthrough in the long-awaited bills, including high gasoline prices and a greater GOP willingness to include Democrats in the early drafting, especially of the energy bill. But some attributed it mainly to Bush's reelection and the Republicans' continued control of both legislative chambers, giving Democrats little choice but to join GOP efforts or have no say in how bills are shaped.

"They just have great cards," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said. "They've got all three branches of government. They've got the bully pulpit."

As if this were news. So much for the "lame duck" label.

By the way, I suppose this is some indication that the GOP has an idea or two about governing. I wouldn't go too much farther than that, though--most of these "accomplishments" were watered-down half measures. But, I guess it's something.


Bill Frist Has Announced He IS NOT Running For President

Or at least, he may as well make that announcement.

Let's review his final week of the legislative term:

:the Energy Bill seems destined to finally pass tomorrow, but WITHOUT provisions for Gulf Coast drilling and ANWAR exploration

:John Bolton seems destined for a recess appointment, rather than continuing the silly game the Senate has been playing with his nomination for the last several months

:and the good Senator announced today that he's going to back increased federal funding for embryonic stem cell research

The first two reflect an ineptitude at managing his own caucus, which shows a lack of leadership--not a good trait in a Presidential candidate; and the last is just a strange political maneuver that distances him from a President that is very popular with the GOP base--not smart politics for a Presidential candidate.

Still, I suppose the delusional state that Senators seem to arrive at after being in the Senate for a while could be too strong a trip for him to deny that shot at higher office.

At least he'll stay busy until about February, 2008.

Rolling 'Em Up

Two pretty important developments in the War On Terror today.

First, Iraqi commandos have captured an Egyptian said to be an associate of Ayman Al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's number two, police said yesterday.

Hamdi Tantawi was detained in a raid on a farmhouse near the town of Yusufiya, south of Baghdad.

He is suspected of financing insurgent operations.

Computers, money and weapons were also seized.

And, Authorities in Zambia detained Haroon Rashid Aswat in connection with the July 7 London bombings that killed 56 people and injured many more, FOX News has learned.

Not exactly on the brink of catching bin Laden or Zarqawi, but these arrests do show that we are making progress. Slow, unspectacular--but inexorable--progress.

Sad News

Once again, Jim is grappling with his mortality, as his family keeps vigil. If you are so inclined, please pray for Jim and his family.


Did Anybody See This??

Yeah, me neither. (HT: RCP)

President Bush's approval ratings stand at 49%, against 48% disapproval, in a survey taken by Gallup from July 22-24. This is a 9-point shift in the President's favor from a survey taken just one month ago (which was 45% approve, 53% dis-).

In other interesting findings of the survey, John Roberts is favored for approval by the Senate by a 59-22 margin, though voters expect by 51-42 a "major fight."

Also, this survey found that voters identify themselves as "pro-choice" over "pro-life" by a 51-42 margin. This, of course, is a notably smaller margin than Nancy Pelosi would have you believe. But then, Nancy Pelosi. . .

Also of great interest in this poll is that it is of "National Adults," not "registered voters" or "likely voters." I been told that this normally skews a poll by as much as 3 points towards the Left. If that is true in this case, as well, then these poll results are quite positive, indeed.

More Good News I Wonder If Anybody's Heard

The economy flashed fresh signals of strength in the last two months, with factories buzzing and cash registers ka-chinging despite high gas prices.

The latest snapshot emerging from the Federal Reserve's survey of the business climate around the country, released Wednesday, suggested the economy has bounced back nicely from a springtime soft patch. The job market showed some improvements and inflation was fairly contained, the survey also found.

It's going to become increasingly difficult for the Dems to find any traction on any issue as the country starts to wake up to the reality of the improving situation.

Add to this the possibility of a troop pullout from Iraq next spring, and the public's growing awareness of the dangers posed by the Judicial Oligarchy (by the way, someone ought to send Howard Dean a memo about this), plus the inexorable demographic trends of a population shifting towards the red states, and the makings of a long-term Republican domination are all well in place.

This Should Be Front Page News . . .

but for some reason,the WaPo relegates it to page A11.

Nonetheless, I see this as a very positive sign, along the lines of what I have been calling for for a few weeks now.

An organization of top American Muslim religious scholars plans to issue a formal ruling today condemning terrorism and forbidding Muslims to cooperate with anyone involved in a terrorist act, according to officials of two leading Islamic organizations.

The one-page ruling, or fatwa, will be issued by the Fiqh Council of North America, an association of Islamic legal scholars that interprets Islamic law for the Muslim community.

The reason this should be on the front page, of course, IS TO GET THE MESSAGE ACROSS. America and its allies can kill and arrest as many Islamicists as it wants, but it will never get all of them. Only a concerted effort within the Muslim community can accomplish the real end game, and I think this fatwa is an important step.


Godspeed, Discovery!!


Book Review: The DaVinci Code

I know, I know--where have I been for the last two years? Well, sorry. . . I had a few other books to read that were a higher priority.

At any rate. . .

The DaVinci Code, for those of you who pay no attention to such things, or who only rarely walk into a book store, or turn on the Today Show, or, for that matter, come out of your cave, is a highly controversial WORK OF FICTION by Dan Brown. At the heart of the story is the idea that there is a secret society which has been guarding the Holy Grail for the last two millenia, and that no less a nefarious organization as the Roman Catholic Church is has been seeking all this time to destroy the Grail . . . because it contains documentation of the marriage and family tree of Jesus Christ, who (IN THIS FICTIONAL BOOK) married Mary Magdeline after his resurrection. The title is from the idea that Leonardo DaVinci was once the head of this secret society, and that he left many clues to the Grail in his works of art.

The central figure in the story is Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of Symbology. As such, parts of the story read like a text on Ancient Symbols and Subliminal Meanings. The story is very detailed, particularly in its descriptions of art works and places (Paris, mostly), and only every once in a while gets so bogged down in its own cleverness that you get lost. But the action is also fairly swift, and the plot convolutions are multi-faceted and entertaining, and, after making the initial suspension of disbelief regarding the Grail, the rest of the story moves along rather plausibly. Of course, that initial suspension is pretty substantial, so I suppose after that, anything is believable.

Overall, though I found the story line interesting, and had no problems reading through this book in a few nights. It is a page-turner, and fans of thrillers should be pretty happy.

On the other hand, I guessed who the shadowy figure manipulating all the players was by about midway through the book, which tells me Brown lost a little of his touch from "Angels and Demons." Also, Brown did a much poorer job disguising his contempt for the Catholic Church in this book--at times, I would've guessed Brown is a party to some of class-action settlements over the Priest sex-abuse scandals. For these reasons, I found this book not up to the level of "Angels and Demons," and, frankly, little more than a fun summer diversion.

As to the controversy, I did not think too much of it. Certainly, what Brown proposes is heresy to believers, but he also creates precious little actual evidence for it. I will admit that I don't know the art world that well, so maybe there's a lot more stuff there than I know about, but on the whole I thought the characters were having little more serious dialogue than Area 51 fanatics do. Or, to put it in more similar terms, I didn't notice a vast rush of pilgrimages to that little church in the Crescent Valley of Jordan after "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade;" the archeological evidence for that as the final resting place of the Grail was, I suppose, just as convincingly proposed in the movie. So why should we get very excited about this other work of fiction? Read it, enjoy it, put it back on the shelf with little thought afterwords. You'll be none the poorer (though you'd be better off reading "Angels and Demons").

Good News

Three stories jump off the pages of the news today.

--Sunnis returning to the table. Sunni Arab members of a committee drafting Iraq's new constitution ended their boycott Monday, six days after jeopardizing the credibility of the nascent political process by walking out in protest over the assassinations of two fellow Sunni constitution framers.

Their decision to return eased the threat that the country's new constitution would be a product of only two of three major Iraqi ethnic and religious groups.

--North Korea returning to the table. North Korea’s envoy to international disarmament talks said Tuesday that banning atomic weapons on the Korean Peninsula was the main issue for the revived negotiations, while the United States maintained that it had no intention of invading the communist nation.

The talks Tuesday are the fourth such six-nation negotiations, which also include China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. They are reconvening after a 13-month boycott during which the North refused to attend, citing “hostile” U.S. policies.

Admittedly, we've been down this road with them before. Nobody's holding their breath over here, that's for sure.

--AFL-CIO Schism. The Teamsters and a major service employees union on Monday bolted from the AFL-CIO, a stinging exodus for an embattled movement struggling to stop membership losses and adjust to a rapidly changing working environment.

In a decision that AFL-CIO President John Sweeney labeled a “grievous insult” to labor’s rank-and-file, the Teamsters union and the Service Employees International Union, two major federation affiliates, said they decided to leave.

“In our view, we must have more union members in order to change the political climate that is undermining workers’ rights in this country,” said Teamsters President James P. Hoffa. “The AFL-CIO has chosen the opposite approach.”

Now if I could just get the teachers' unions to break apart--or at least, abandon their one-dimensional political advocacy--then we could see real changes.

In Case You Missed The Good News

(HT: John Andrews)

Colorado could take comfort in a positive employment report on Friday amid news of massive job cuts hundreds of miles away at Ford and Kimberly-Clark.

The state saw jobs increase by 2.3 percent in the first half of the year, continuing to advance at a faster clip than the rest of the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

But, I thought our state was paralyzed!! I thought TABOR had rendered us all but unable to get out of bed in the morning!!

I'm not blind to the budgetary difficulties produced by TABOR. Unfortunately, I think supporters of Referenda C & D ARE blind to the possibilities that this economy could recover very nicely without the massive fix they are proposing.

At this point, I would urge defeat of C & D, followed by aggressively using the mechanisms built in to TABOR to relieve some of the short-term crunch, followed by a serious proposal to alter both TABOR and Amendment 23 to protect the state from the sort of fluctuations we saw in the last four years.

But one thing at a time: defeat C & D.

Tom Tancredo Holds His Line

In today's Denver Post, Tom Tancredo has attempted to defend his remarks last week that, in the aftermath of nuclear terrorism, we should bomb Mecca.

Many critics of my statements have characterized them as "offensive," and indeed they may have offended some. But in this battle against fundamentalist Islam, I am hardly preoccupied with political correctness, or who may or may not be offended. . .

Few can argue that our current approach to this war has deterred fundamentalists from killing Westerners - nor has it prompted "moderate" Muslims and leaders of Muslim countries to do what is necessary to crack down on the extremists in their midst who perpetuate these grisly crimes.

That being the case, perhaps the civilized world must intensify its approach.

Please, read the whole thing. That little excerpt does not quite convey the full sentiment of Rep. Tancredo. And then, for the counterpoint, tool on over to the newly remodeled site of Hugh Hewitt, who takes Tancredo quite to task for today's offering.


The Brits Appear To Have Erred

The dramatic chase and shooting of a dark-skinned young man in London on Friday was, apparently, a mistake. Police have said that the man had no ties to the recent bombings or to terrorism.

Just a few questions: why was he wearing a long coat on a July morning? why was he coming from a house that was under surveillance (I will stipulate that this is hardly evidence)? and, why was he running from the police, when he was fluent in English?

This appears to be a tragedy, albeit one that has a few odd cirumstances around it. I wonder . . .when John Kerry said terrorism is primarily an issue of law enforcement, is this the sort of thing he had in mind?

Check This Out

If you like a little tongue-in-cheek political argument, check out the Lone Ranger. Good history lesson, for those inclined to "forget," as well.


We Know There Will Be An Attempt To Derail Judge Roberts . . .

we just don't know how persistent it will be.

Tom Curry has written a piece on the MSNBC website outlining the Dems "six-pronged" attack on this nomination, though he also concludes that it is unlikely that they will succeed in defeating Roberts. It might be worth your time over the weekend, if you refuse to go do your yardwork in the 100+ degree heat.

Two things jumped out of this article at me, though most of the Dems' logic is pretty inane all around. These two just stuck me

First: Reminded that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refused to answer several questions during her confirmation hearings in 1993, Schumer brushed that off: “It was a different time” and she was “a consensus nominee.”

Now, an intrepid reporter would have asked Schumer to elaborate on just what made that such a different time. He or she might have pressed the issue of whether Ginsburg was actually a "consensus nominee" or if it was a simple matter of the GOP recognizing the constitutional Presidential Perogative. But, apparently, there were no intrepid reporters on the scene.

And, second: Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo. released a letter he’d sent to President Bush Wednesday lamenting “that you have missed an opportunity to help create an America that includes women at all levels of our nation’s government.”

I just couldn't be prouder of my Senator.

What a dolt!

Let's see. . . all levels of government. Like, say National Security Advisor? Or perhaps, Secretary of State? How about White House Communications Director? Of course, we don't need to get too worked up over the Supreme Court because THERE'S ALREADY A WOMAN SERVING THERE!

Poor Ken. He's just having such a hard time sticking with his promises to Colorado to be moderate while trying to make his way around Schumer/Kennedy/Leahy/Reid's Washington.


This Is Getting To Be A Disturbing Pattern

Bashir's secret police, manning the palace entrance, had blocked many of Rice's key aides, and reporters accompanying her, from entering the building. When the tensions exploded in full view of Rice and Bashir during a photo opportunity, an infuriated Rice demanded an apology from the government.

The first indication of trouble came when Rice found herself seated next to Bashir, without her interpreter, for more than five minutes of awkward silence. The interpreter had been blocked at the gate, along with many of Rice's aides, but was finally hustled in.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese security forces blocked U.S. news media members, including this reporter, from entering the building. They forcefully pushed the foreign journalists out of the way, permitting only Sudanese journalists to enter.

This, only a couple months after a live hand grenade was found in a crowd in Tblisi, Georgia, close to where President was giving a speech, and only eight months after the President had to forcefully pull his Secret Service agent into a dinner, over the attempted restraints of Chilean security forces.

It's getting to where the administration has got to wonder if it should go around the world any more.

Now, mind you, nobody has established any criminality in either the Sudan or Chile, but three security "misunderstandings" or breakdowns in eight months with top U.S. officials is too many.

This Should Scare You

Acting on a hunch that the activity wasn't legitimate, the guards tipped off investigators, who found that the hut was a starting point for an elaborate, 360-foot drug-smuggling tunnel beneath the U.S.-Canadian border.

On Thursday, authorities said they have shut down the tunnel _ the first such passageway discovered along the nation's northern edge _ and arrested five people on marijuana trafficking charges.

Great. So they've started to build tunnels to smuggle in marijuana. How long until some such tunnel is used for other "paraphernalia?"

"They were smart enough to build a sophisticated tunnel," U.S. Attorney John McKay said in this border town about 90 miles north of Seattle. "They weren't smart enough to not get caught."

How much you wanna bet al Qaeda is smarter than these guys?



John Howard is quickly moving up my list of favorite world politicians. Note this response to a reporter's question today in the aftermath of the failed bombing attempt:

"The first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away, to use the venacular, and no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq? And can I remind you that the 11th of September occured before the operation in Iraq? Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor? Are people by implication suggesting that we shouldn't have done that? When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan? When Sergio DeMillo was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplmat, immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that DeMillo had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations adminsitrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the minds of the terrorist. By definition you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts. And the objective facts are as I have cited. The objective fact is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq and indeed all the evidence as distinct from the suppositions suggest to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion, that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder."

This, after a few days ago telling a reporter that "curling up in a ball and apologising to the world for the world" was only going to get more people killed by Islamicists.

I tell ya, this guy speaks plainly, and directly, and seems to be right on the money.

Let's Apply A Consistent Standard

Look at the following quotes from a prominent blog regarding scandal:

--Yesterday I was discussing with a friend whether the leak seemed more likely to be a Republican leak or a Democratic one (his view). The latter possibility is not as far-fetched as it might sound: . . .(dated 7/2. . )

--The one thing I'm certain about in this [] matter is that I really wish the folks investigating his case were investigating the Plame case because if that investigation leaked as much as this one does my life over the last year would have been quite a bit easier. . . .(dated 7/2...)

--"I know Chairman [] will work to get the full truth of what really happened and help all of us better understand why [], a person who should fully understand the gravity and importance of sensitive national security materials, would operate with such overt negligence and apparent disregard for the law."

Any [] has to see red when reading those words -- in fact, I'm tempted to say anyone with more than a bit of decency. . .(dated 7/2...)

--However, it seems equally clear that the surfacing of this matter is the product of a malicious leak intended to distract attention from []

Consider the timing. . . (dated 7/20)

Got all that? The key thing to note is that most of problem this author has with the subject at hand is the LEAKS and the POLITICAL PURPOSES thereof; as an aside, he's indignant at the seemingly mild, if pointed, criticism leveled by a prominent Republican.

Again--GOT IT? It's not about the security breach, it's about the politics. Let's remember that.

These writings were all courtesy of Joshua Micah Marshall, all on or about this date last year, in reference to the Sandy Berger pilfering of documents from the national archives.

So you have to ask yourself: is this standard, which was applied to the removal of evidence related to the 9/11 attacks and commission hearings, roughly the same standand as is being applied to the confirmation of a rumor that a reporter had been hearing?

I daresay the double standard is in full display here, as the left has hosen to apply a much more rigorous standard of conduct on a Republican administration official than they applied to Democratic officials.

For interest purpose, here's what JMM was saying last year about Fitzgerald's inquiry:

The Times says that Fitzgerald is "expected to announce in a matter of weeks whether he will prosecute anyone." And it's not clear to me that he will choose to bring any indictments. Like everyone else, I have no idea. Yet the Vice President's office would clearly like to see the investigation scuttled or at least lay the political groundwork for a defense against possible indictments.

Few weeks. . .few months . . . Hard to know if this is ever going to go anywhere.

Just don't expect the left to give whoever comes out of this the same soft treatment they gave Berger.

MSM: Back On Message

Or, if you prefer, Back On Rove.

WashPost: Plame's Identity Marked As Secret

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, . . .

. . .devote 10 more paragraphs to crimes and punishments of leaking coverts . . .

Then in paragraph 12: Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, has testified that he learned Plame's name from Novak a few days before telling another reporter she worked at the CIA and played a role in her husband's mission, according to a lawyer familiar with Rove's account. Rove has also testified that the first time he saw the State Department memo was when "people in the special prosecutor's office" showed it to him, said Robert Luskin, his attorney.

Oh. Okay, maybe. But then in paragraph 19 The description of Wilson's wife and her role in the Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA was considered "a footnote" in a background paragraph in the memo, according to an official who was aware of the process. Which had followed an earlier paragraph Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert,.

The Post titles this article in such a way that you think the mome was all about Plame; well . . . Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife.

So, in other words, Plame's identity was not actually given in the memo (it referred to "Valerie Wilson"), it was not specifically designated "Secret", nor was her status labeled "Covert", and there's no evidence to suggest that Rove ever saw this memo.

As smoking guns go, this is like my daughter's cheap water pistol.

How's THAT For A Backhanded Compliment

Howard Fineman starts out his column on the MSNBC website, subtitled "The brilliance of the President's Supreme Court Choice" like this:

George W. Bush keeps surprising the wise guys. They keep thinking that he’s going to be something other than what he is and that he will do something other than what he says he will do.

Fair enough. Seems like this might be a article about the shell game the White House played on reporters and the carefu orchestration of the President's announcement. And, to some degree, it is [quote: Bush said he wanted to choose justices in the Scalia-Thomas tradition. Why would anyone think that he wouldn’t follow through on that promise?. But buried within the article are the following myths, editorials, and half-truths:

He is as loyal as a hunting dog. On a personal level, his inner circles stay inner and stay around him forever. It’s the same with politics. He owes “the base” — religious conservatives, corporate conservatives, Federalist Society libertarian conservatives — and he pays. . .

Doggedness is not necessarily the same thing as candor, by the way. Once Bush decided to go to Iraq — and that may well have been before he was elected — he was going to go there, come hell or high water. . .

Luttig has been on the federal bench for many years and, as a result, has an enormous record of written opinions for liberal foes to dissect. Not Roberts. He’s been on the bench for less than two years and may well have wanted to steer clear of incendiary social issues while he bided his time. . .

At his confirmation hearings for the Court of Appeals, Roberts said he held no personal views that would “prevent” him from upholding Roe if he had to. What a brilliant locution! He didn’t say that he WOULD uphold Roe in all circumstances — only that he wouldn’t necessarily overturn it. . .

[as HH pointed out:]He and his wife are members of a suburban Catholic parish known for its good educational programs and rock-steady values. His two kids are adopted. Washington sits on a substratum of Catholic conservatism that few people who aren’t from here understand. It goes back to Georgetown University and pre-D.C. Maryland history. It is that community that Roberts represents, and that Bush is paying homage to with this pick.

With friends like these . . .

Also notice, buried deep within the article are these partial endorsements:

As deputy solicitor general under Bush One in 1991, Roberts signed the now-famous brief advocating the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

But his supporters, and even some Democrats, such as David Boies, make the mitigating argument that Roberts was only acting as an advocate for his client

and . . .

Boies and Walter Dellinger, two of the best (Democratic) Supreme Court advocates around, sing Roberts’ praises.

They have faith that he will listen to reason when presented with well-crafted arguments on the high court. They think he is the opposite of a hack. It’s not just the Harvard/Harvard credentials, but the skill he has shown in the 39 cases he presented to the court over his years as a lawyer with Hogan and Hartson here in Washington.

I bring those up for two reasons. One, the obvious. But two, you've already started hearing about this nomination is a payback for Roberts' role during the 2000 election. Remember who else played a role in the 2000 election? That's right--arguing for the defendant in Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court was none other than David Boies.


My Take

I love this choice for three reasons:

:One: the President, as he has made a habit of, thumbed his nose at the cogniscenti and picked a young, white, male with strong conservative credentials. No kowtowing to the conventional wisdom here.

:Two: the White House was very nearly brilliant in how it handled this today. The number of rumors that were flying around and keeping the press buzzing was clearly a well-coordinated disinformation campaign which guaranteed the President the first opportunity to define his nominee. I only wish I had been around to watch the Press Corp flit from one rumor to another, like a pack of hummingbirds desperate for nectar.

:Three: this nomination may break the Gang of Fourteen. The Dems, in the illustrious person of Barbra Boxer, laid the groundwork for a filibuster by calling any replacement for O'Connor "extraordinary." But, as I noted below, and remembering Sen. Prior (D-Ark) statements to FoxNews tonight, I don't think a filibuster will hold. Either they have no power, or their power will be broken. In either case, a fine choice.

In addition, Roberts has solid, nearly irrefutable, conservative credentials, and Hugh Hewitt described him as a "minimalist." In this, I think we can be comfortable that the Court will be nudged noticably to the right, and for that, we can all be thankful.

Well, except for the Left. They'll actually have to start concentrating on winning elections now.


Just For Grins . . .

Let's see what some of the key Senators are saying.

Robert Byrd: "I thank President Bush for reaching out to Senators on both sides of the aisle as he worked to select a nominee for the Court. I hope that this bipartisan cooperation will continue as the confirmation process begins.

"The confirmation of a new Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States is a significant responsibility and requires each Senator to have a good understanding of the nominee and his judicial philosophy. I look forward to learning more about Judge Roberts, talking with him, reviewing his record, and listening to the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee."

Hillary Clinton: Now that the President has nominated Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, the Senate must initiate a thoughtful and deliberate process of closely examining and scrutinizing Judge Roberts’ record. Not only does a thorough examination ensure that Judge Roberts is qualified to serve a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court, it also allows the Senate to fully discharge its constitutional mandate of providing the President with meaningful “Advice and Consent” on his nomination.

In the coming weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the process of studying Judge Roberts’ record. I look forward to the Committee’s findings so that I can make an informed decision about whether Judge Roberts is truly a guardian of the rule of law who puts fairness and justice before ideology.

John Kerry: Americans deserve a Supreme Court that is fair, independent, ethical and served by justices committed to our constitutional freedoms rather than an ideological agenda. Justice O'Connor refused to use her position as a means to advance a political agenda. In replacing her, we must be confident Judge Roberts will do the same.

“We know Judge Roberts is no Sandra Day O’Connor, and the White House has sent a clear signal. There are serious questions that must be answered involving Judge Roberts’ judicial philosophy as demonstrated over his short time on the appellate court. The Senate must learn whether he has clear consistent principles upholding Constitutional standards like civil rights, the right to privacy and Roe v. Wade.

“The American people expect the Senate to fulfill its duty to conduct a thorough, independent review of any nominee, and I intend to do exactly that. I hope Judge Roberts and the White House are forthcoming about his qualifications, background and constitutional philosophy so the Senate can act with all the facts. There’s too much at stake to do anything less.”

John McCain: Senator John McCain today expressed his strong support for President Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Courts:

“I am pleased that the President has chosen Judge John Roberts as his nominee to the Supreme Court. Judge Roberts would bring a wealth of experience to the nation’s highest bench having served as an attorney in private practice, as an advisor and Deputy Solicitor General at the Department of Justice and as a federal appeals court judge. I look forward to a smooth confirmation process and a swift up-or-down vote for Judge Roberts.”

Ben Nelson: With the nomination of Judge John Roberts, the President has initiated the confirmation process. I am looking forward to being constructive as the Senate considers and deliberates on the qualifications of Judge Roberts.

“Now remember, the nomination will be referred to the Judiciary Committee, not the ‘Gang of Fourteen.’ The Judiciary Committee should take as much time as it needs to conduct its hearings and consider the nomination. The best case scenario for Judge Roberts, the President and the country is for Judge Roberts to emerge from these proceedings with broad appeal. There’s always a danger in being defined as an activist judge with an agenda and a willingness to legislate from the bench. The confirmation process will shed light on Judge Roberts’ and what kind of Justice he might become.”

There are several notables--most of the "Gang of Fourteen"--who, for some unknown reason--did not have a statement ready for their websites tonight.

But I think you can see several patterns developing. One, the Dems were caught completely off guard by this nomination and had nothing prepared. Their fallback position is "we'll wait and see and take this process very seriously." But I think the lack of early attacks is a good sign for the nominee. And I know Chuck Schumer had some mindless things to say tonight, but he had to. He was the rebuttal witness to the prime time drama and he had to lay the groundwork for a fight. But it doesn't sound like there are too many people in his corner.

Two, I think the GOP will hold together on this. There was no statement yet on Arlen Specter's site, but John McCain came out quickly and forcefully to support Roberts, and that's a very good sign. I think that will also be a bit of a shot across the bow of the Dem "Gang"-ers: Roberts IS NOT an extraordinary circumstance.


The President will announce his choice for the vacancy on the Supreme Court tonight at 7 pm local time.

I know nothing, and have no contacts in the beltway, so don't look to me for much guidance . . .

CHECK THAT: I just heard Barbara Boxer say on FoxNews that the retirement of Justice O'Connor in itself creates an "extraordinary circumstance." Just laying the groundwork for that filibuster.

ANYWAY . . .

But the speculation is centered on the 5th Circuit Court Ediths--Edith Brown Clement and, to a lesser degree, Edith Jones. Keep your eyes on the really good blogs on this one: RedState, Captain's Quarters, Powerline, and Bench Memos.



Let me add my voice to the list of those denouncing Tom Tancredo for listing Mecca as a primary retaliatory target in the event of a nuclear detonation in the U.S.

First of all, Tancredo has no military background, no military power (in the Washington sense), and no military intelligence (apparently). So for anybody to take him seriously on his assessment of military targeting is silly. But for him to take himself seriously is ludicrous; much more, it's dangerous, and an elected official should know better.

But we've seen Tancredo run into his "silliness wall" a few times head first. Perhaps it's good that somebody is raising the issues--at least we have a good idea what the far-most ridiculous possibilities are that we're talking about. And I also think it's useful and important that that person happens to be a low-ranking and largely unimportant Representative from a fly-over state--it's not as if he's, oh, say, the party whip or caucus leader or something. This only becomes serious if he actually makes it on stage to a GOP Presidential debate.

I should think--hope--that we on the right are wise enough to keep our clowns backstage.

Complete Aside

Enough of the serious stuff for a moment.

I hope everybody out there has taken the time to look up for a moment at the wonderful world of sports, because there were two things happening this weekend that are for the ages.

First of all, Tiger Woods wins the British Open by FIVE STROKES, on the same weekend that Jack Nicklaus plays in his last major tournament. First of all, the juxtaposition of the retirement of the greates golfer the world has ever seen with the person who will soon eclipse his records is wonderful, and probably completely unique to the game of golf. But secondly, winning the Open by five strokes has to qualify as an astounding feat of athletic acheivement by any measure.

And secondly, Lance Armstrong continues to dominate the Tour de France, extending his lead to well over two minutes. That man is just a freak--and I mean it in a good sense.

The reason I point these out is that when we watch politics too long, we tend to see and to focus on people at their very worst. Every once in a while we need to see people at their very best to remind us of what we strive for; all too often, that only happens in the field of athletic competition.

So take a moment to ponder the wonders that can be acheived when talent and skill are matched with dedication and singularity of purpose. You can go back to watching politics later.

Plame, Rove, Wilson . . .Ho-Hum

This, from the Washington Post:

White House senior adviser Karl Rove, after telling Time reporter Matthew Cooper in 2003 that the wife of an administration critic worked for the CIA, closed the conversation by noting "I've already said too much," Cooper said yesterday in recounting his testimony before a federal grand jury.

While that comment appeared to indicate the sensitive nature of the conversation, which is now under scrutiny by a special prosecutor investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's name, Rove said nothing about Plame being a covert operative, Cooper said. The conversation took place days after Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, accused the White House of twisting evidence on whether Iraq had been seeking weapons of mass destruction. . .

In the Time article, Cooper said Rove had cautioned him: "Don't get too far out on Wilson." He wrote that Rove told him that "Wilson's wife," who worked at the "agency" on "WMD issues," had arranged for Wilson to travel to Niger to investigate since-discredited allegations that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium for nuclear weapons [NOTE THAT LITTLE EDITORIALIZING]. Of Rove's "said too much" comment, he wrote: "This could have meant he was worried about being indiscreet, or it could have meant he was late for a meeting or something else."

The next day, Cooper said, when he asked Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, whether Plame had arranged for her husband's African assignment, Libby replied: "Yeah, I've heard that too."

Ooh, boy. Sounds like they're both guilty . . . BURN 'EM!!

I guess this is what happens in a Washington summer.

Of course, here's how the New York Times leads off their reporting:

Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine, said the White House senior adviser Karl Rove was the first person to tell him that the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was a C.I.A. officer, according to a first-person account in this week's issue of the magazine. . .

Mr. Cooper also wrote about a conversation he initiated with I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Although it has been known that reporters spoke to Mr. Libby, what he said was not known. His conversation with Mr. Cooper is the first indication that Mr. Libby was aware of Ms. Wilson's role in her husband's trip to Africa. When Mr. Cooper asked if Mr. Libby knew of that, Mr. Libby said he had heard that as well, the article said.

But even with their reinforcing the talking points of the DNC, the Times can't wholly escape reality:

"Is any of this a crime? Beats me."

The details in Mr. Cooper's article about his conversation with Mr. Rove are largely consistent with the broad outlines of Mr. Rove's grand jury testimony about the conversation as portrayed in news accounts.

And, sure, they're trying to color it a little bit, but the truth is in there, somewhere.

More On Referenda C and D, With Numbers

The Denver Post's top story this morning was a poll they commissioned through Mason-Dixon Polling.

If the election were held today, 43 percent of the 625 respondents said they would vote in favor of Referendum C, and 42 percent said they would not. Fifteen percent said they were undecided. . .

On Referendum D, 45 percent of the poll's respondents said they would vote against it, compared with 39 percent in favor. Sixteen percent said they were undecided.

Now, granted, we haven't seen the full-court press yet on either of these issues. But if the economic news keeps being good, I have a hard time seeing these measures passing in the Fall. And if I remember right (which I'm sure I don't), most ballot measures have their strongest support early in the process, and lose a lot of ground as the election draws near. If that pattern holds, these two are toast.

"It's early, but I think D is in trouble and C is going to take a heck of a sales job," said pollster Brad Coker, a partner in Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C., noting that respondents who said they were undecided are typically more likely to vote no.

"If the opponents run an effective campaign, it is going to be an uphill battle for the supporters," Coker said.

With many states looking at TABOR or modified TABOR this Fall, this is going to be a pretty interesting story. And a defeat of these would be a major blow, I should think, to the power base of the Democrat-led State Legislature.


Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls . . .

It tolls for John Kerry.

While the Karl Rove story certainly had more legs than I gave it credit for, you could start to see the signs that it was losing a little momentum about midweek. And then it got its deathknell:

[from John Kerry's website, released on Tuesday]"It is now evident, through email and through other sources, that Karl Rove released information to a reporter which made it patently clear who Valerie Plame was -- blowing her cover as a covert operative and endangering her, those she works with, and any foreign intelligence sources she may have had. It has been the stated policy of the White House for the past two years that they would fire anyone who released that information. . .

"The White House's credibility is at issue here, and I believe very clearly that Karl Rove ought to be fired."

John Kerry, with his impeccable sense of timing and famous [tin] ear for the public mood, weighs in. And shortly thereafter we learn the following:

--(HT: HughHewitt) On page ii of the brief, the lawyers for the media groups assert: "In this case, there exists ample evidence in the public record to cast serious doubt as to whether a crime has even been committed under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (the "Act") in the investigation underlying the attempts to secure testimony from Miller and Cooper.

--"Plame was not given 'deep cover' required of a covert agent...She worked at a desk job at CIA headquarters, where she could be seen traveling to and from, and active at, Langley. She had been residing in Washington -- not stationed abroad-- for a number of years. As discussed below, the CIA failed to take even its usual steps to prevent publication of her name."

--Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.

--A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee.

"She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.

And so on, and so on, and. . . but of course, all this just after John Kerry chimes in. And they wonder why they didn't wint the last election.

Still, the left keeps beating the drums. Here's their best effort at keeping the story alive:

from Salon.com But this is where things get a little interesting. In the version of the Post's story that went up on its Web site early Friday morning, the Post's source was quoted as saying of Rove, "I don't think that he has a clear recollection" about where he first heard that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. The source said that Rove told investigators "that he believes he may have heard it from a journalist." (The Indianapolis Star picked up the early version of the Post's story, and you can read it here.) But in the version of the story up on the Post's site now, the quote from the source has disappeared -- and with it, any sense that Rove is uncertain about whether he first heard the news from a journalist. In the new version of the story, the Post paraphrases its source as saying that Rove "told investigators that he first learned about the operative from a journalist" but that he does not recall who the journalist was or when he might have talked with him or her. So is Rove sure he actually heard it from a reporter first, or does he just "believe" he "may" have? That seems to us an important distinction, especially since Rove seems to have such a clear memory of his conversation with Novak.

So was Rove "the recipient" or "the leaker"? In the end, it's a false choice. Rove was plainly "the recipient" of information about Plame at some point, even if it's not so clear from whom. But he was just as plainly "the leaker" -- or, at least, "a leaker" -- too.

First of all . . .Huh? The length of seggested conspiracy here is difficult to follow, but if you read closely you notice that they are actually asserting that the Washington Post edited material to suggest a more favorable story for Rove. Yep--the Washington Post: shill for the GOP.

But after you spend all that time being distracted by that exercise in logical gymnastics, they then come to the conclusion, based on that exercise, that Rove was "a leaker." Well, I think at this point, just about everybody stipulates that Rove spoke with Novak and the Time guy, and in one way or another reinforced the reporters' ideas about Plame's vocation.

And, again I say, so what? As we've seen above, this was not particular crucial information, and certainly not enough to meet the standards established by the law. So, in the end it's a bad effort to establish fcts which actually don't reinforce an argument.

And still the Left arrives at its destination: DARTH ROVE DID IT! That's a little like me going to my car, starting my car, and then asserting that as proof that I drove to the Inaugural Ball. In other words, that's a little bit of a leap of logic.

But hey! that's all the Left can muster these days, so let's give them a break, eh? They're led by John Kerry, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid--logic was never going to be their strong suit.


And Speaking of Education . . .

with a huge hat tip to Captain Ed

Let's play a game. Guess which Nation-wide advocacy organization has the following list as its Action Agenda for its National Assembly.

1. [Defeated, no description]
2. Fighting Wal-Mart
3. Investigating the positions of financial firms regarding Social Security privatization
4. Adding "multiethnic" and "other" as options on ethnicity questions
5. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the NEA and ATA
6. Forming coalitions to "protect" Social Security
7. Explaining the difference between two different pension plans
8. Requesting an article for their newsletter on "health problems from exposure to fragrance chemicals".
9. Getting outside funding to allow 25 more people to attent the EPA Tools for Schools Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Symposium
10. Creating a workgroup on health care
11. Sponsoring "political training" for Congressional candidates friendly to NEA priorities (see above!)
12. [Defeated, no description]
13. Opposing "billionaire Eli Broad and any other entities to remove elected school boards from cities"
14. Repealing the Social Security offset and explaining the differences between states' approach to Social Security for teachers who move

Now, if you read carefully, there's a couple of hints in there as to what this group is.

Let's see. . .WalMart, Social Security, ethnic issues, Air Quality, health care . . .
This is a tough one. Maybe, MoveOn? No, not nearly angry enough. How about the AARP? Maybe--a little too wide-ranging.

Give up? Yeah, what if I drew your attention to items 5, 11, 13, and 14. They all mention schools or teachers or the NEA . . . maybe some public education advocacy group?

How about the National Education Association? Yep, that's right. The country's leading teachers' union has this as their list of priorities for this summer.

Yep. And nowhere in the first fourteen agenda items are students, or achievement, or, for that matter, SCHOOLS mentioned.

And you wondered what was wrong with education today. . .

And People Wonder Why School Administrators Are The Way They Are

The Thompson School District must reimburse a Berthoud family more than $200,000 spent since January 2004 for a son to attend a private Massachusetts school for the autistic because the district's educational plan failed to meet his needs, a state hearing officer has ruled.

I'm sorry . . . sphinctersayswhat? (sorry--channeling Wayne's World there for a moment). $200k?!? For one child to go to school in Massachusetts?!? Roughly the equivalent of the spending for 225 children, for one child to go to school in Mass?!?

This is a head-scratcher, for sure.

Federal Law requires that all children identified as "special needs" must be given access to "a free appropriate public education." And there is no doubt that the cost of said education is more than it is for "non-special" children. . .

[As an aside, do you see part of the problem? In that last paragraph I had to stop and think about my choice of words three times, and still probably made some advocacy group upset. If we're not even allowed to talk about these children in normal language, how can we possibly educate them?]

but how can we possibly justify taking the resources of 225 children and devoting them to one child?

Last year, Colorado served 83,407 special-education students as of December, and in the 2002-03 school year, Colorado spent $567 million to fund special education, according to the latest figures from the Colorado Department of Education. . .

State and federal dollars cover part of that cost, but local districts bear 70 percent of it.

When Congress enacted the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, the goal was to reimburse states for 40 percent of education costs.

So, in theory, the feds should be footing about $80k, which would still leave the district a $120k bill. That's an enormous sum, equivalent to the entire discretionary budget of any 3-5 mid-sized elementary schools.

And, just what are we talking about here?

In his ruling, Goldhammer wrote that Luke needs to be in a residential facility and ordered the district to continue paying the roughly $130,000-a-year cost of the Boston school until the district finds another residential school for him to attend.

Jeff and Julie Perkins pulled Luke out of Berthoud Elementary after deciding the educational plan offered by the district in December 2003 was inadequate.

At age 9, Luke slept on the floor, ate only yogurt, crackers and croutons, couldn't dress himself, threw tantrums in public, and was not toilet-trained.

As he grew older, he became more physically aggressive toward his mother and younger sister.

The most crucial issue, his parents and a former special-education teacher testified, was that Luke was unable to carry over daily living skills he learned in school to other environments, such as his home.

For example, at school he had a 60-word vocabulary but spoke only about 10 at home.

That's unfortunate, and, believe me, I feel for the Perkinses. I cannot imagine the difficult life they are faced with with their child. . .oh, yeah, whom they don't have to care for because he's in Boston.

In his decision, Goldhammer wrote that "children with autism need structure, predictability and planning." He criticized the district for not designating a residential program that would prevent Luke from regressing.

The decision "raises the issue of what are the responsibilities (of a district) outside of the school setting," Stuller said. "That's the legal issue we would be appealing."

Yes, I would say it does raise that very issue. And, perhaps more to the point, at what point do a district's responsibilities outside the school setting HAVE to take a secondary place to their responsibilities inside the school setting?

On Referenda C and D

I would like to recommend to you this morning David Harsanyi's column in the Denver Post. He takes his rhetorical skewer to the arguments for C and D, with a few wide-ranging pokes to keep it lively.

First, from the latter category: If fiscal conservatives were forced to travel on dirt roads and send their teenage kids to roofless schools where compulsory algebra lessons were given on an abacus, they would still press for tax cuts and fiscal responsibility.

I'm conservative enough to admit it.

Liberals, on the other hand, should admit that if the Messiah arrived tomorrow - I'll project the first sighting in Colorado Springs, just in case - and produced manna from heaven, they'd levy a sales tax on it.

And then, to the meat of the matter:

Language is everything. Democrats realize persuading Coloradans to raise taxes is a historical loser. With a recovery underway, this may be their last chance to dismantle TABOR. They can't allow their referendums to be defined as a tax boost.

Yet the argument they utilize for this task doesn't pass the laugh test. A clever marketing strategy has to make sense.

A question worth asking: If a product costs 80 bucks and you pay with a $100 bill but receive no change, are you paying more? Is it an increase in price? Of course it is. That is exactly what Referendum C offers - you get no change.

Not to mention that the pro-C-ers have told you that the product they're selling costs $3 billion, when you know for a fact that it's only worth $800 million.


At Some Point, The Muslims Are Going To Have To Stop This

Thirty-two people, most of them children, were killed yesterday when a suicide bomber exploded his car beside a convoy of American soldiers handing out sweets in a Baghdad suburb.

The blast left the street covered in pools of blood, mangled bicycles and the corpses of the young, many still clutching blue-wrapped chocolate bars.

There is no ideology that can long sustain itself on simple, indiscriminate hate; eventually, it must either extinguish itself or be extinguished by those closest to it. And until and unless the Muslim community at large decides that they have had enough of this--not just the killing of their own innocents, but the dominance of the perception that Islam promotes a culture of death--then such atrocities will continue, and will increasingly effect the Muslim community.

I am encouraged by this observation by one of the by-standers to this tragedy:

"Children are the most innocent," said Henan Hafidh, who has two sons. "That is no Muslim who did this. It is evil. I feel so strongly for the loss to their families." [emphasis mine]

I hope that begins to be more widespread, and the repercussions for perpetrating evil begin to be exacted by the Muslim community itself.

More From England

Appropriately enough, I suppose, that a lot of tonight's blogging will be related to events from the world of our British friends.

Tony Blair is going to take some serious steps:

Urgent action to exclude and deport religious extremists from abroad who are radicalising British-born Muslims was announced by Tony Blair yesterday. . . .

Mr Blair told MPs he would bring forward talks with the other political parties on new powers for the police and security services to combat the incitement and instigation of terrorist attacks.

Better not tell the ACLU. I'm sure that they would find some way to assert that Blair's actions in England infringe on their rights over here.

I'll even bet they could find an American judge to agree with them. Probably in San Fransisco. . .

Must Read

The Thursday edition of the London Daily Telegraph is already available online, and it includes one absolute must-read editorial. Note: registration is required, but it is free.

The problem is, this is such a great editorial that there are too many print-bites to ethically put in the blog. So I tried to narrow it down to my two favorite points, which should give you enough of a taste to pursue it.

This week, our politicians have reminded me of the castaway boys in the last scene of Lord of the Flies, suddenly tearful and ashamed of their terrible mischief as they are finally confronted by their grown-up rescuers.

Yes, there was a mood of solidarity and mature consensus at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday and during Monday's Commons debate on the bombings. But there was also the whiff of shame in the air: shame at the political decadence that had so demeaned the debate on the war on terror before 8:50am last Thursday.


"It is a war," one Cabinet minister said to me. "People didn't believe that till last Thursday. But they do now."

I hope he is right. This war, of course, is like nothing that has preceded it, which is why it is so tempting to call it something else: a criminal conspiracy, or a series of isolated atrocities carried out by psychopathic mavericks. And yet the analysis that the President and Prime Minister offered after 9/11 now seems more pertinent than ever.

We face three, inextricably linked threats: from Islamist fanatics, from the rogue states that harbour them, and from the deadly weapons which they seek to acquire. Only three months ago, Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 17 years for plotting to unleash ricin on London's streets. Bourgass failed. On July 7, Hasib Hussain, Shehzad Tanweer, Mohammed Sadique Khan and another man succeeded with conventional explosive. What if it had been the other way round?

I suspect that Mr. d'Ancona had a fairly grown-up perspective on the war from the get-go, though I have not read enough of his writings to know for sure. At any rate, I hope he is right that the tenor of the debate is evolving across the pond.

This, while the tenor of the debate is decidedly DEvolving over here, after we had a few fairly mature months in the aftermath of 9/11.

I can't encourage you to read this whole piece strongly enough.

Disturbing Developments From London

London investigators have concluded that the bombings last Thursday were a. perpetrated by British citizens of Pak descent, and b. suicide attacks.

The revelations realised the worst fears of police and the Muslim community. It confirmed the men as western Europe's first suicide bombers and the first Britons to attack their own countrymen with explosives since the ceasefire in Northern Ireland.

But, on the plus side:

Early yesterday, police raided six addresses in West Yorkshire, discovered what is thought to be a bomb factory and arrested a man

The Brits are demonstrating a remarkable efficiency in their investigation, and I hope and pray that their efforts will turn up the mastermind and the timeline of the planning in short order.

How Far Off The Deep End?

Tonight I had the strange occasion to listen to the Rhandi Rhoades Show. For those of you who have never inadvertently drifted onto Denver/Boulder AM 760, which is the local outlet for Air America, she is the drive time "personality" across from Hugh Hewitt.

I know, I know. . .but every once in a while I drift over during commercials to hear what's brewing in the fever swamp. And tonight was a doozy!

I don't have the exact transcript, so I'm going off of memory. But at one point she was talking about the Karl Rove thing, and discussing how high-level contacts are made and with whom and etc. And she actually said this:

"Because that's who they would have been talking to. Somebody wants to talk to me, they go through an assistant first, and if they can't answer the question, then I make a call. So, C.J.Cregg, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney. . .these people get talked to unless the primaries are the only ones who can answer . . ." Or something very close to that.

Do you notice a name in there that, well, just doesn't belong?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Left actually believes that Claudia Jean Cregg, the White spokesperson-turned-Chief-of-Staff on THE WEST WING is actually a real person who could figure into a story in the real world. An inadvertent misspeak? Perhaps. More like a Freudian Slip. The Left would like nothing more than for the whole premise of The West Wing to be true, and real, and just around the corner.

Do you suppose it's any coincidence that the person who is taking credit for pushing this story into the mainstream is none other than Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr., the Executive Producer of The West Wing? Is it just a coincidence, I suppose, that O'Donnell revealed on the Al Franken Show yesterday (I know--the things I do for the blogging public) that the West Wing will be developing a story line this season about a White House leak?

By the way, after about 15 minutes of Rhandi Rhoades, I'd had enough. I was even making an effort to get inside the mindset of a Lefty to see if I could imagine her show being entertaining. I concluded that not in a million years. All the hyperbole, rhetoric, and venom would just cause me a headache--that's why, I suppose, it's called the "fever swamp." But I suppose the Right has their share of that, too . . . that's why I never listen to Michael Savage. For my listening buck, give me sweet reason, logic, considerate debate, and normal speaking volumes.


Extortion By Any Other Name. . .

The NAACP will target private companies as part of its economic agenda, seeking reparations from corporations with historical ties to slavery and boycotting companies that refuse to participate in its annual business diversity report card.

"Absolutely, we will be pursuing reparations from companies that have historical ties to slavery and engaging all parties to come to the table," Dennis C. Hayes, interim president and chief executive officer . . . "Many of the problems we have now including poverty, disparities in health care and incarcerations can be directly tied to slavery."

I don't know where to begin with this. Let's just start with the statement that I highlit. There are other ethnic groups in America that have been made to suffer horrible treatments--NOT AS BAD AS SLAVERY, granted (had to put that in bold to try to fend off the inevitable)--but equally atrocious. For instance, the Orientals who came over to this country in the 19th century were conscripted into a very slavery-like existence to build the railroads across the West; in addition, few Amarican actions short of slavery compare to the incareration of Japanese during World War II. And yet, with that horrible history and all, Orientals are now so much a part of the fabric of American life that they aren't even considered a minority any more. What's the difference? I don't know--strong family ties, an original culture that was less tribal, a cultural value for achievement. I'm not sure, but I do know that you would be hard pressed to find an Oriental who laments their state because of events of 140 years ago.

And, by the way, aren't poverty, which contributes to poor health care, and incarceration ALSO sad by-products of paternal absenteeism. Maybe Hayes ought to talk to Bill Cosby.

What's sad is that it's actually working.

J.P. Morgan Chase Bank recently completed an examination of its history and found that two financial institutions it absorbed years ago -- Citizens Bank and Canal Bank in Louisiana -- had owned more than 1,250 black people until the Civil War, procured as collateral on defaulted loans.

The company apologized and officials said it will start a $5 million scholarship program for children in Louisiana.

Wachovia Corp. was accused by a Chicago alderman of lying last month when it submitted its statement in January stating it had no knowledge of any involvement with slavery. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company later apologized and indicated that it would create an education fund or contribute money toward black history education.

But, in a rare departure for the NAACP, one of theirs is actually pointing a finger at the political party most responsible for their condition in the 20th century.

The Rev. Wayne Perryman of Mount Calvary Christian Center Church of God in Christ agreed that pursuing the federal government is not a fruitful option. The Seattle minister has filed two reparations lawsuits against the Democratic Party, saying its role in defending slavery and opposing civil rights bills during the Jim Crow era deserves an apology.

"One of the problems in courts is that ... you have to show ... the government official who participated in it," Mr. Perryman said. "With the federal government the real problem is that it has never had a totally pro-slavery position, the Democrats did and supported it, while the abolitionists and Republicans did not."

If they were really interested in justice, they would target Robert Byrd, he of the white bedsheets. But, as encouraging as Perryman's approach is, I don't expect it to be widespread or even recognized by the black community at large. They've been so inculcated with the mantra of "Republican Bad", and so poorly educated by the government-run schools, that any recognition of the Democrat's ole in past abuses are unlikely to make a dent in their collective consciousness.

I'm Back

And it seems I've missed a few things in the news. In case you're with me on that score, here's a quick wrap-up:

London--while the death count climbs over 50, while the government is planning measures to limit the ability of imams on their own soil to incite attacks.

Hurricane Dennis--the gulf coast continues to clean up from this storm which, thankfully, was not as severe as last year's Ivan. Though from the media coverage you'd a thunk it was the worst thing EVER.

The economy--the country added about 146,000 new jobs last month, while adding an additional revised 40,000 to the months of May and April. This brings the unemployment rate down to 5.0 percent. All of which, by the way, are really good numbers, and all of which, by the way, go largely unreported while they keep trending that way.

Darth Rove--okay, so I was wrong; this story is starting to get traction. But even if it ends up uprooting Rove, I'm not sure that really means anything. His job is political advisor; as such, he's just as likely to provide useful counsel to the President from a telephone in Walla-Walla, Washington as he is from the office next door. I just don't think this really matters in the long run, especially since nobody has yet to demonstrate how the "outing" of Valerie Plame compromised one single little operation the CIA had going.

Supreme Court--many rumors, no news. This will be on the stove all summer, I fear.

Okay. Just trying to ease back into the routine. Nothing here very newsworthy--just trying to shake off my vacation.



Heading off on vacation early tomorrow morning, won't be posting until the weekend. Sorry I'll miss all the fun of the first salvos of the confirmation battle--kinda like being a war reporter and missing Fort Sumpter--but stay tuned to the Rocky Mountain Alliance for all the news, local and otherwise.

Until I return, . . .

Happy Independence Day

Since we're not allowed to read this in some schools any more, I thought I'd publish what all the to-do was about:

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Leave No Man Behind

From FoxNews:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Rescue teams found a member of a missing elite military team in the mountains of Afghanistan Sunday, senior military commanders told FOX News.

The soldier was wounded and will be transferred to Germany's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (search ) at Ramstein Air Base (search), the senior commanders told FOX News.

After Last Weeks' tragedy, this has to feel WONDERFUL for the SpecOps units in Afghanistan. But there's no rest . . .

The three others that make up the rest of the special operations team remain missing and U.S. forces continue the search. Defense Department officials declined to confirm specific reports that three Navy SEALs (search) were being sought.

The military commanders told FOX News they believe the rest of the elite team is alive but refused to discuss details of the operation.

Continue to pray for our boys in the wilderness and those looking for them.

One More Thought On Plame

Take this story, with all the essential facts intact, and make one little change, just to see what that does to the story. Let's try:

CIA operative makes certain arrangements so her husband can make a trip to Africa to investigate claims about WMD purchases. Her husband is a former ambassador with no counter-espionage training, no covert operative training, and little or no experience in the realm of WMD. Nonetheless, he gets the gig, going to Africa where he makes cursory inquiries. Upon his return, he issues a report which says that the supposed transaction never happened. Some time later, his credibility is undermined by the revelation of his wife's occupation.

As the lawyers say, "let's stipulate to the facts."

Now, here's where we introduce the little change: reverse political party affiliation. So Wilson/Plame are Republicans investigating a claim made by a Democratic administration.

Do you think the story would still be the outing of Plame? Or do you think the story would be about nepotism at the CIA and the credibility of the Wilson Report?

Yeah, me too.

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