Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hyping and Hoping

The MSM, ever intent upon displaying its own shallowness, spiralled into paroxysms of glee the other day over the apparently staged meeting that President Bush had with some Iraq war vets. One would think from listening to Andrea Mitchell and others breathlessly describing the nefarious "coaching" of the soldiers as they prepared for their encounter with the President that a scandal of unprecedented proportions was in the offing. As usual, though, there was much less there than the media had hyped and hoped.

One soldier who was at the interview with the President expresses his dismay at the media's hyperventilations here.

The Left is determined to destroy, or at least discredit, this administration by any means necessary, but every time they get their hopes up that the White House has finally stumbled into the pig poop those infernal bumblers emerge from the mire as clean as spring water and smelling like peppermint. Meanwhile, the desperate lefties in the media, like the incredible shrinking man of the 1950's sci-fi movie, keep making themselves smaller and more insignificant. It must be as frustrating for them as it is amusing for the rest of us.

A case in point is MSNBC's Chris Matthews who has Karl Rove all but swinging from the gallows on his Hardball show. Matthews is so convinced that somebody from the administration, either Rove or Lewis Libby, is going to be indicted for the Valerie Plame business and he's so eager to see it happen, that should these men walk free, Matthews' friends will have to place him under a suicide watch.

If perchance the District Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, who's investigating this affair closes out his grand jury investigation without handing down any indictments of top White House officials, I hope I'm able to see Matthews' show that night. It'll be most illuminating to listen to Matthews explain how these people are as guilty as Lucifer, and everybody knows it, dammit, but that there just wasn't enough evidence to indict. It'll be great fun.

For What It's Worth

A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup telephone survey of 1,005 people on Sept. 8-11 produced some interesting results:

How much have you thought about the different explanations for how human beings came to exist on Earth (evolution guided by God, evolution without God's involvement or creation as described in the Bible)?

Great deal: 41%

Moderate amount: 35%

Not much: 17%

Not at all: 6%

How much does it matter to you which of these theories is correct?

Great deal: 40%

Moderate amount: 26%

Not much: 19%

Not at all: 14%

Which comes closer to your view about the relationship between science and religion?

Agree with each other: 24%

Conflict with each other: 35%

Not related: 36%

Which statement comes closest to your views?

God created human beings in their present form exactly as described in the Bible.

All: 53%

Men: 45%

Women: 60%

18-29: 54%

30-49: 50%

50-64: 50%

65 and older: 60%

By income level

$75K and up: 37%

$50K-$74.9K: 51%

$30K-$49.9K: 56%

Under 20K: 70%

By religion

Catholic: 38%

Protestant: 66%

Non-Christian: 15%

None: 16%

Human beings have evolved over millions of years from other forms of life, and God guided this process.

All: 31%

Men: 34%

Women: 29%

18-29: 27%

30-49: 38%

50-64: 32%

65 and older: 20%

By income level

$75K and up: 41%

$50K-$74.9K: 31%

$30K-$49.9K: 22%

Under 20K: 19%

By religion

Catholic: 50%

Protestant: 25%

Non-Christian: 31%

None: 29%

Human beings have evolved, but God had no part in the process.

All: 12%

Men: 17%

Women: 8%

18-29: 17%

30-49: 10%

50-64: 15%

65 and older: 11%

By income level

$75K and up: 29%

$50K-$74.9K: 12%

$30K-$49.9K: 11%

Under 20K: 4%

By religion

Catholic: 10%

Protestant: 6%

Non-Christian: 47%

None: 48%

The most interesting thing to us about this poll is the fact that only 12% of the people surveyed accepted some form of materialistic evolution. The vast majority were either creationists or theistic evolutionists. Seventy six percent of those polled have thought about the matter somewhat or a lot, and 66% say that it makes some difference to them which view is correct.

This does not, of course, have any bearing on which view is correct, but it does suggest how far out of the mainstream naturalistic views of life are in this country.

Let it Rest

Even Richard Cohen, the solidly left columnist at the Washington Post thinks the brouhaha over who outed Valerie Plame is a tempest of Lilliputian proportions. Cohen actually calls for the District Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, to just call the whole thing off:

The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals. As it is, all he has done so far is send Judith Miller of the New York Times to jail and repeatedly haul this or that administration high official before a grand jury, investigating a crime that probably wasn't one in the first place but that now, as is often the case, might have metastasized into some sort of coverup -- but, again, of nothing much. Go home, Pat.

The alleged crime involves the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative whose husband, Joseph Wilson IV, had gone to Africa at the behest of the agency and therefore said he knew that the Bush administration -- no, actually, the president himself -- had later misstated (in the State of the Union address, yet) the case that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger.

Wilson made his case in a New York Times op-ed piece. This rocked the administration, which was already fighting to retain its credibility in the face of mounting and irrefutable evidence that the case it had made for war in Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction, above all -- was a fiction. So it set out to impeach Wilson's credibility, purportedly answering the important question of who had sent him to Africa in the first place: his wife. This was a clear case of nepotism, the leakers just as clearly implied.

Not nice, but it was what Washington does day in and day out. (For some historical perspective see George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck'' about Edward R. Murrow and that most odious of leakers-cum-character assassins, Joseph McCarthy.) This is rarely considered a crime. In the Plame case, it might technically be one, but it was not the intent of anyone to out a CIA agent and have her assassinated (which happened once) but to assassinate the character of her husband. This is an entirely different thing. She got hit by a ricochet.

Now we are told by various journalistic sources that Fitzgerald might not indict anyone for the illegal act he was authorized to investigate, but some other one -- maybe one concerning the disclosure of secret material. Here again, though, this is a daily occurrence in Washington, where most secrets have the shelf life of sashimi. Then, too, other journalists say that Fitzgerald might bring conspiracy charges, an attempt (or so it seems) to bring charges of some sort. This is what special prosecutors do and why they should always be avoided. (The one impaneled in 1995 to investigate then-HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros for lying about how much he was paying his mistress is still in operation, although the mistress most certainly is not.)

I have no idea what Fitzgerald will do. My own diligent efforts to find out anything have come to naught. Fitzgerald's non-speaking spokesman would not even tell me if his boss is authorized to issue a report, as several members of Congress are now demanding -- although Joseph E. diGenova, a former U.S. attorney in Washington, tells me that only a possibly unprecedented court order would permit it. Whatever the case, I pray Fitzgerald is not going to reach for an indictment or, after so much tumult, merely fold his tent, not telling us, among other things, whether Miller is the martyr to a free press that I and others believe she is or whether, as some lefty critics hiss, she's a double-dealing grandstander, in the manner of some of her accusers.

More is at stake here than bringing down Karl Rove or some other White House apparatchik, or even settling some score with Miller, who is sometimes accused of taking this nation to war in Iraq all by herself. The greater issue is control of information. If anything good comes out of the Iraq war, it has to be a realization that bad things can happen to good people when the administration -- any administration -- is in sole control of knowledge and those who know the truth are afraid to speak up. This -- this creepy silence -- will be the consequence of dusting off rarely used statutes to still the tongues of leakers and intimidate the press in its pursuit of truth, fame and choice restaurant tables. Apres Miller comes moi.

This is why I want Fitzgerald to leave now. Do not bring trivial charges -- nothing about conspiracies, please -- and nothing about official secrets, most of which are known to hairdressers, mistresses and dog walkers all over town. Please, Mr. Fitzgerald, there's so much crime in Washington already. Don't commit another.

Needless to say, the rest of the left is seriously miffed by Cohen's apostacy, but then they're so filled with hatred for Bush they'd crawl a mile over broken glass to get a high ranking Republican indicted. Whether the indictment has merit or not doesn't matter. They're not interested in justice, they're interested in destroying political enemies, and every effort must be made, in their view, to bring about that noble end.

The Miracle of the Cell

Bill Dembski directs us to this 38 minute video which uses computer simulation to illustrate some of the reasons why most people, other than the true believers, are skeptical of the putative powers of blind nature to produce living things.

The resolution is a little fuzzy, but it's worth a look.

Ill-Starred Nomination

John Fund tells us how the Miers nomination came about. The core of his column is these paragraphs:

Regardless of whether or not the vetting process was complete, it presented impossible conflicts of interest. Consider the position that Mr. Bush and Mr. Card put Mr. Kelley in. He would be a leading candidate to become White House counsel if Ms. Miers was promoted. He had an interest in not going against his earlier recommendation of her for the Supreme Court, or in angering President Bush, Ms. Miers's close friend. As journalist Jonathan Larsen has pointed out he also might not have wanted to "bring to light negative information that could torpedo her nomination, keeping her in the very job where she would be best positioned to punish Kelley were she to discover his role in vetting her."

Mr. Lubet, [a Northwestern professor], says "all the built-in incentives" of the vetting process were perverse. "In business you make an effort to have disinterested directors who know all the material facts to resolve conflicts of interest," he told me. "In the Miers pick, the White House was sowing its own minefield."

"It was a disaster waiting to happen," says G. Calvin Mackenzie, a professor at Colby College in Maine who specializes in presidential appointments. "You are evaluating a close friend of the president, under pressure to keep it secret even internally and thus limiting the outside advice you get."

Indeed, even internal advice was shunned. Mr. Card is said to have shouted down objections to Ms. Miers at staff meetings. A senator attending the White House swearing-in of John Roberts four days before the Miers selection was announced was struck by how depressed White House staffers were during discussion of the next nominee. He says their reaction to him could have been characterized as, "Oh brother, you have no idea what's coming."

A last minute effort was made to block the choice of Ms. Miers, including the offices of Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It fell on deaf ears. First Lady Laura Bush, who went to Southern Methodist University at the same time as Ms. Miers, weighed in. On Sunday night, the president dined with Ms. Miers and the first lady to celebrate the nomination of what one presidential aide inartfully praised to me as that of "a female trailblazer who will walk in the footsteps of President Bush."

The conservative displeasure with the Harriet Miers selection shows no signs of abating. No one expects George Bush to pull her nomination, but there's a lot of money being wagered that she'll withdraw of her own volition. It's hard enough to face the judiciary committee when half of the Senators are in your corner, but it'll be an especially difficult ordeal for Harriet Miers because the best she can hope for is that a couple of Senators on an otherwise hostile panel might be lukewarm.