Friday, January 13, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust (Maybe)

ABC News has a report that Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant may be, even as you read this, cavorting with his 72 virgins in Allah's retirement home for blown-to-smithereens jihadis:

Jan. 13, 2006 - Today, according to Pakistani military sources, U.S. aircraft attacked a compound known to be frequented by high level al Qaeda operatives. Pakistani officials tell ABC News that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, may have been among them.

U.S. intelligence for the last few days indicated that Zawahiri might be in the location or about to arrive, although there is still no confirmation from U.S. officials that he was among the victims.

The attack took place early this morning Pakistan time in a small village a few miles from the border with Afghanistan. Villagers described seeing an unmanned plane circling the area for the last few days and then bombs falling in the early morning darkness.

Eighteen people were killed, according to the villagers who said women and children were among the fatalities. But Pakistani officials tell ABC News that five of those killed were high-level al Qaeda figures, and their bodies are now undergoing forensic tests for positive identification.

Officials say Zawahiri was known to have used safe houses in this area last winter and was believed to be in the area again this winter. Zawahiri, who appeared just last week in a new videotaped message, had increasingly been taking the operational reins of al Qaeda, and is thought by U.S. officials to be the current true mastermind of the terrorist group.

Pakistani officials tell ABC News that the bodies of the five suspected al Qaeda figures will be recovered at first light in Pakistan, but it will still take a day or two for any kind of positive identification. U.S. officials in Washington did not comment.

It's getting harder and harder for Osama to retain good help, a fact we take some satisfaction in and encouragement from. We hope that al-Zawahiri does indeed turn out to be part of the debris that investigators have to sift through, and we hope that his last mortal act of conscious awareness was the sight of that missile speeding through his window straight toward his wide-eyed, astonished self.

Just Plain Dumb

One wonders what goes through the minds of some teachers. How could anyone who works with kids be so morally tone-deaf as to not realize the stupidity of an assignment like this?

A high school research assignment on Internet pornography was canceled after parents in this Cleveland suburb complained.

Superintendent Jeff Lampert said that although the teacher's apparent goal _ to discuss the harmful effects of pornography _ was well- intentioned, he agreed with parents that the assignment was inappropriate for 14- and 15-year-old freshmen at Brooklyn High.

The assignment asked students to research pornography on the Internet and list eight facts about pornography. Students also were asked to write their personal views of pornography and any experience they had with it.

Lampert said he doubted the teacher would face any punishment.

Perhaps the teacher should be made to sit in the corner wearing a dunce cap for a couple of hours.


Throughout the Dover ID case the book Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins by Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon came in for a lot of criticism. Not having read it we're in no position to comment on the validity of the allegations made against it, but for those who are interested in whether Pandas is as bad as alleged this site offers a vigorous defense of the text and reveals Judge Jones' bias in his evaluation of it.

The Democrats' Worst Nightmare

The Washington Post says that Alito will be confirmed, the Democrats being unable to seriously wound him. Indeed, if anything, the category five windbags on the Senate Judiciary Committee managed only to shoot themselves in their own posteriors with their unconscionable attempts to smear a fine man and an outstanding jurist:

Samuel A. Alito Jr., an appellate judge who could shift the Supreme Court significantly to the right, appeared headed for the high court yesterday after completing three days of interrogation without a serious misstep.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee made a final stab at challenging Alito on presidential powers, the death penalty and other matters. But their efforts sometimes seemed halfhearted, and even the most liberal advocacy groups acknowledged privately that they saw slim hopes of preventing his confirmation later this month in the full Senate, where Republicans hold 55 of the 100 seats.

President Bush called Alito from Air Force One "to congratulate him for doing a great job during the hearings," the White House said. Committee member John Cornyn (R-Tex.) predicted the nominee "will be confirmed," adding that "the unfounded attacks on Judge Alito had about as much traction as bald tires on an icy road."

When the hearings began Monday, liberal activists said their best hope was for Alito to commit a gaffe or lose his composure. When his 18 hours of testimony ended at lunchtime yesterday, and Republican senators scurried to shake his hand, both sides agreed he had done neither.

The committee could vote as early as Tuesday on whether to recommend Alito, 55, to the full Senate. All 10 Republicans on the panel appear virtually certain to support him, while several senators predicted all eight Democrats will oppose him.

The Post article goes on to predict that Alito will get 60 to 70 votes on the floor of the full Senate. He needs fifty to be confirmed.

And now for the Democrats' worst nightmare: Justice John Paul Stevens is 85 and Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 72. Either, or both, of them may retire soon and Bush might get to make at least one, and possibly two, more appointments to the Supreme Court in the three years he has left in his presidency. It will drive the liberals to despair to contemplate this, but there are a lot more judges of the quality of John Roberts and Sam Alito on his depth chart. Let's just hope that he's scratched off any more Harriet Meirs-type aberrations from that chart.