Thursday, October 27, 2005


A jury has found the New York Port Authority negligent for building a parking garage under the World Trade Center and then not listening to warnings regarding Islamic terrorism. But in 1993 who was taking terrorism seriously? What about blaming terrorists for the 1993 bombing? Hindsight is always perfect.

David J. Dean, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, called the verdict "an extraordinary victory." The jury, he said, clearly accepted the plaintiffs' argument that the Port Authority should have foreseen the terrorist attack, based on warnings from its own experts as early as 1985, and shut down the public parking garage.

In order to reach a verdict, at least five of the six jurors had to agree. The jury voted unanimously that the Port Authority was negligent. It found the authority 68 percent at fault for the bombing, while the terrorists who carried it out were 32 percent at fault.


Listening to NPR on the way to school this morning, I heard Harriet Miers had withdrawn her name as a Supreme Court nominee. While initially I was "underwhelmed" by her nomination, she was probably better qualified than 50% of the previous Supreme Court justices. And I really believe there is a place for a judge on the court who is not part of the "establishment" who can maybe look at issues as an outsider.

However, I don't understand how Bush could think he could get her name through. If the eminently qualified candidacy of John Roberts faced so much criticism and Democratic opposition, it doesn't strike me that a less eminently qualified candidate would make it. In this era of partisan politics any weakness will be exploited. I heard Miers' name was on the list of judges the Democratic Senate leadership gave to Bush at the beginning of this process--if that was true, was Bush misled into thinking that the Democrats would let her slide through and that Republican conservatives would go along? If so, he could have avoided a nasty fight and had someone on the bench whom I think he trusts and respects.

Now I am wondering if he will submit someone like Janice Rogers Brown and the fight will begin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Each day brings its share of surprises. I got an email from a colleague yesterday. "The Book," as we have come to call it has a publisher!--Columbia University, East European Mongraphs. Hopefully it will be out in late 2006. It is so good to get that "checked" off the list.


I have been struggling to make sense of the Plame-Wilson affair. Now I see that some are raising the question of whether the CIA was attempting a covert operation against President Bush. I am not sure whether this is a right-wing conspiracy theory in the making or not.

Andrew McCarthy assesses the reasons the indictments might be sealed and gives as one reason: if there are national security implications, indictments may be sealed until steps can be taken to notify the appropriate officials, so they can take steps to deal with whatever the national security fall-out may be.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The Plame-Wilson affair continues to bother me. Some of Wilson's charges have been proven to be lies. He appears to be involved in self-promotion. A whistle-blower is better off remaining reasonably neutral in the political wars and he was making charges while working in the Kerry campaign. I can't understand, if Libby and Cheney were involved, why they would use this fellow. I keep waiting for something else to come out. There is something just not adding up.

And the reporter who leaked Plame's name as a CIA employee that started it all, Robert Novak, is never mentioned in all of this!--everybody is chasing these New York Times reporters.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I just saw the rumor mill has Vice President Cheney resigning and Condi Rice replacing him! I have been speculating about this since 2003. What a move!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I read the following:

A gold Rolex watch thought to have been given by Marilyn Monroe to President Kennedy, inscribed, "Jack with love as always Marilyn May 29th 1962," has been sold for $120,000, the auction house Alexander Autographs said yesterday. The watch was sold with a poem titled "A heartfelt plea on your birthday," typed in black on a paper disk placed at the bottom of the gold case containing the watch. The two are rumored to have had an affair about that time.

The poem reads:
Let lovers breathe their sighs
And roses bloom and music sound
Let passion burn on lips and eyes
And pleasures merry world go round
Let golden sunshine flood the sky


I watched part of C-Span's coverage of a talk Senator Tom Coburn (R, Oklahoma) gave on 10/17 in Washington on "The Future of the Republican Party." I think it was at GWU--a lot of students were asking questions. I really haven't taken time to read much about him--some of the press coverage I have read leaves the impression that he is an eccentric conservative. Actually, I found him very down-to-earth and he expressed himself quite well. He reminded me of a blunt-talking Harry Truman. He said things that could upset all ideologues whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. I am going to start following him a bit more closely. From what I heard, I don't think you can fit him into a box.


Increasingly I have a bone to pick with the media. It gets caught up in fad coverage and ignores substance. This summer was the summer of Cindy Sheehan. Now the Tri-Valley Herald has an article headline: "Peace mom slips from public stage."

Most telling is the quote from UVA political science professor Larry Sabato: Larry Sabato, professor and director of the University of Virginias Center for Politics, said Sheehan was a summer of 05 phenomenon. This is a classic (media) mode of covering controversy — its the August doldrums, and a feeding frenzy develops and they usually last a month or two and are gone.

Friday, October 14, 2005


A woman was criticized by police for using the word "fat" to describe the person who hit her.;_ylt=AojlEEjHgPjT60GTIufp3.ftiBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA

"I was given a frosty look and told I couldn't say that. I could have said lardy, porky or podgy. But I wouldn't dare use those words,". . .


It troubles me that the elites in New York City get special treatment and earlier warnings about possible terrorist attacks.

The Homeland Security Department launched internal probes yesterday into whether its officials tipped off friends and relatives to a possible subway terror plot days before average New Yorkers were alerted, authorities said yesterday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Islamic web sites are posting directions for building nuclear weapons.


The Syrian interior minister who worked in Lebanon committed suicide today. I doubt it was suicide. It looks like he has been eliminated by the Syrian government because his activities in Lebanon were raising too many questions and problems.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I can't believe that 60 Minutes chose Sandy Berger to attack Louis Freeh's charge that Clinton was seeking a Saudi bribe. Berger, the guy who lifted documents in his pants when preparing for the 9/11 Commission hearing, is hardly a credible character witness.

Friday, October 07, 2005


The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article. It notes that nearly half of the Supreme Court Justices have not had prior experience on the bench. Many of them turned out to be the more famous justices.

Snobbery is no small part of the debate over Miers, analysts say. The fact that she attended Southern Methodist University rather than a top-tier law school like Harvard or Yale is seen by some as a mark against her. Yalof says that although a high number of justices attended elite law schools, not all justices did.

Lewis Powell went to Washington & Lee. Warren Burger attended the St. Paul College of Law. Thurgood Marshall attended Howard University. Hugo Black went to the University of Alabama, and Chief Justice Fred Vinson was a graduate of Centre College in Kentucky.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I was "underwhelmed" (as one pundit put it) with the appointment of Harriet Miers as Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, although I was not totally suprised. Days earlier I heard several people (including Jay Sekulow) raising her name on cable news shows. Sekulow had been involved in "advisory" discussions and I am sure the administration was throwing the name out to test the waters. However, I didn't sense a lot of response to her name.

With further reflection, I continue to have mixed feelings about her appointment. I really thought it should be someone who has serious judicial experience (although this has not always happened in the past). On the other hand, I don't think a Supreme Court appointee should have to come from an Ivy League law school. Maybe there is a place for a person of the people to be on the court who represents the rest of the country.

Slate had an interesting headline on its web page today: "GOP Showdown: Intellectuals vs. Evangelicals." The article is at I enjoyed reflecting on the author's statement: In this battle, the White House has clearly sided with the churchgoing masses against the Republican Party's own whiny Beltway intellectuals. By the way the person who has a lot to lose in all this is Dr. James Dobson. If Miers does not turn out to be the kind of "evangelical" he wants (and not all evangelicals agree with him politically), Dobson's judgment or political acumen may be called into question by many of his supporters.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Rod Dreher has an interesting column in the October 2, 2005 Dallas Morning News. He is critical of both Republicans and Democrats. Among his comments:

More broadly, Katrina reveals that conservatism and liberalism, as presently constituted, are unable to deal effectively with this country's deepest problems. I sense that our long national prosperity and ease have not only frayed the fabric of civil society but also have lulled us all into a false sense of security and invulnerabilty--that because things have gone so well for so long, we can live like this forever.

What do the parties offer us? Flattering half-truths and lies, especially the idea that if we just elect them and keep those evil Others out of power, we can go on living exactly as we choose and defy gravity indefinitely.

Both parties are captive to a bipartisan ideology of consumerist individualism, which basically says that self-fulfillment and maximized personal choice are the greatest good. And we, the people, enable them because we, too, shrink from the idea that we might be asked to sacrifice for the greater good or even our own good. We don't demand real leadership from our leaders because they all promise, in their respective ways, to lest us spoiled children keep raiding the cookie jar.

He recommends a book by Lee Clarke, Worst Cases: Terrorism and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination. Clarke argues that the American public is living under the illusion that government can help us control inevitable mass catastrophes because bureaucracies are by their very nature inefficient responders.