Friday, July 29, 2005

Good v. Bad Catholics

In the Los Angeles Times, Margaret Carlson offers up a clear-eyed assessment of the current brouhaha over the religious background of Judge John Roberts, President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court. She rightly deduces the distilled argument to be over who is and is not a good Catholic:

So who are the bad Catholics? The easiest way to describe them is that they are … well, liberal Democrats.

Remember when Wolf Blitzer introduced conservative Robert Novak and liberal Paul Begala on CNN for a segment on the new pope? "I am sure Bob is a good Catholic," Blitzer said. "I am not so sure about Paul Begala." Begala shot back, "That annoys me," and mentioned that his oldest son was named after Pope John Paul II. "I don't think anybody should presume that a liberal is not a good Catholic."

But they do, even though frequently the Vatican agrees with liberals. It's just that in politics, the Vatican's agreement with conservative Catholics on abortion and homosexuality trumps its agreement with liberals on the war, the death penalty and taxes.

Click here to read Carlson

At The Record of Hackensack, New Jersey, the editorial board finds good reason to oppose Roberts' confirmation for a seat on the High Court, citing evidence, as shown in his Reagan-era writings, of hostility toward women's and civil rights:

His positions in the memos - against affirmative action, against federal efforts to combat sex discrimination, and for prayer in schools - give disturbing clues as to how he might vote on issues that are very much alive today.

Mr. Roberts sharply criticized affirmative action in one memo, saying the "obvious reason" such programs failed was that "they required the recruiting of unqualified candidates."

Click here to read The Record's editorial

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Cracking the code

Your blogstress finds herself dismayed this morning to find that the usually enlightened folks at have permitted the use of their fascinating site to promote scurrilous charges against your écrivane by William Donohue of the Catholic League.

While accusing Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) of speaking in anti-Catholic code for noting, in William Pryor's confirmation hearing for a seat on the federal bench, the "fervent personal beliefs" of the Roman Catholic nominee on the subject of abortion, Donohue refers to your cyberscribe as "a leftist writer." Now, who's using code?

It sure would be news to the folks she worked with at the World Bank that your blogstress is a "leftist". (Your writer did the editorial work on a report that was used as the Bank's presentation to the U.N. conference on sustainable development that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa.)

Donohue also draws a disingenuous parallel between the use of the term "Rome" to denote the home of the Roman Catholic curia, and "Israel," the reclaimed homeland of a people nearly exterminated 60 years ago on the force of Europe's anti-semitism.

Your blogstress fails to understand just how her observation that Rome (as in the curia) must be smiling at the nomination of John Roberts to the High Court constitutes anything close to anti-Catholic bigotry. Judge Roberts appears to embrace the thinking of Church's most conservative prelates, who today stand at the pinnacle of ecclesiastical power. Why would they not smile at his nomination? American Catholics have long constituted an irritation to the curia; too inclined are we to place the dictates of our own consciences above commands issued by the Vatican.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Roberts, Roberts, Roberts:
Catholics, Queers & Congress

Recusal revisited
It's been such a busy week for your blogstress that she's barely had time to blog. (Being an apparently self-loathing Catholic takes much more energy than one would imagine.)

In the meantime, all manner of fascinating pieces about Judge John Roberts, President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, have emerged. In the interest of fairness, you cybertrix begins with yesterday's New York Times article by David D. Kirkpatrick on the flap over Jonathan Turley's Los Angeles Times commentary about Roberts' reported response to a question from a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the nominee's religious conscience vis-a-vis the high court.

You'll recall Turley reported that, as noted in an earlier AddieStan post, the nominee told Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) that he would recuse himself from rendering decisions in cases in which correct intrepretation of the law contradicted the law of the Roman Catholic Church.

Parties to the actual discussion, Kirkpatrick reports, dispute Turley's account:

A spokesman for Mr. Durbin and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, who spoke to Judge Roberts on Monday about the meeting, said Professor Turley's account of a recusal statement was inaccurate.

But in an interview last night, Professor Turley said Mr. Durbin himself had described the conversation to him on Sunday morning, including the statement about recusal.

Click here to read Kirkpatrick

Still making waves
The controversy over your Webwench's piece at The American Prospect Online, "Meet John Roberts", continues today, with an article by AP religion writer Richard Ostling on the attention given Judge Roberts' religion.

Speaking of which, your écrivaine can't imagine how she missed this gem from the super-righty, hatchet-job rag, The American Spectator, wherein TAS executive editor George Neumayr quotes your blogstress's Prospect piece, making the case that support for abortion rights is, in and of itself, an attack on Catholicism:

"In choosing a Roman Catholic," [Stan writes,] "Bush is betting he's bought himself some insulation -- any opposition to Roberts, particularly because of his anti-abortion record, will likely be countered with accusations of anti-Catholicism. A timely pitch, one must say, to conservative Catholic voters prior to the midterm elections."

Let's hope she is right, and the Republicans repeat what they did
during the Pryor hearings and draw attention to the anti-Catholic test contained in the Democrats' criteria.

Click here to read Ostling

Click here to read Neumayr

Now, let's think about this
Two very thoughtful pieces on how the Dems might play the Roberts nominiation appear, respectively, at The American Prospect Online and in The New Yorker.

At the Prospect, Matt Yglesias urges Dems, filibuster or no filibuster (the latter being the most likely scenario), to vote their consciences. Sure, it will be a symbolic protest vote. But symbols convey meaning, and if there was ever a time for meaningful debate, it's now.

[B]arring some dramatic revelation, Democrats can't block [Roberts] anyway. They simply don't have the votes. In terms of influencing policy outcomes, this renders their behavior irrelevant. In terms of political framing, however, it opens up the opportunity for Democrats to simply state their beliefs -- that a Justice Roberts would have a negative impact on the country -- and vote "no."

In his "Comment" piece in The New Yorker, the incomparable Hendrik Hertzberg, with customary caution, appraises the Roberts confirmation as all but a done deal, but holds out the tiniest smidgeon of hope that the guy is not all that liberals and lefties fear:

Roberts’s confirmation will be a bitter pill for Democrats, but it is a pill they have known since last November that they would have to swallow. Their bitterness is deepened by the conviction that Bush won the 2004 election in spite of his domestic policies, including his likely judicial choices; he won it because he was the post-9/11 incumbent, and he was the post-9/11 incumbent because, in 2000, the Court whose members he now appoints appointed him. All the same, there is at least a possibility, however slim, that Roberts will surprise.

It would be wrong of your net-tête to reveal the second half of that paragraph here in the breakaway republic; a wry, gallows sort of humor pervades a very prescient observation. So, do, dear reader, turn your eye to this week's "Talk of the Town" for a bit of balm.

Click here to read Yglesias

Click here to read Hertzberg

A funny guy
One thing Roberts has to recommend him is an excellent sense of humor. Here, AP reporter Michael Blood writes about some of the judge's Reagan-era memos. This one made your blogstress laugh out loud:

In August 1983, he reviewed what he called a "snide letter" to Reagan from a University of Georgia professor who alleged that a government agency was compiling a blacklist and then suggested the government might investigate him for complaining.

In a memo to [White House counsel Fred] Fielding, Roberts added parenthetically, "Once you let the word out there's a blacklist, everybody wants to get on."

Anyone who has ever encountered an insufferably earnest but self-important ideologue will get the joke.

What's not funny, though, is that during the time at which Roberts rendered this ha-ha, the Reagan administration WAS doing some very underhanded things, like infiltrating anti-contra groups, and taking in-kind contributions from big PR firms in the guise of "public diplomacy" in support of those very same thugs (the contras, that is).

Click here to read Blood

And what about the queer folk?
In his brief tenure on the D.C. Circuit federal Court of Appeals, Judge Roberts has yet to have the opportunity to render a decision on anything bearing on gay rights. With his confirmation, he will likely have a nearly immediate opportunity to do so, with the case, Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR) v. Rumsfeld.

As described in admirable detail by Jeffrey Toobin in this week's New Yorker, it's a case your blogstress finds troubling all around. A coalition of academic institutions is fighting a law known as the Solomon Amendment that prohibits the disbursement of federal funds to any educational institution that denies, in any way, military recruiters the right to pitch graduating students through the usual campus job-placement programs and job fairs. The institutions in question had barred recruitment by any employers that discriminate against gay people (a most excellent policy), a category into which the military notoriously falls.

What troubles your cybertrix is the coalition's First-Amendment basis for its argument. It seems to her that the academic institutions are not being denied their right to speech; they're simply paying a price for their stance. Your Webwench fears that if the good guys (the academics) were to win, the teeth could be yanked out of Title IX, the law that forbids federal funding to any educational institution that fails to provide equal facilities for men and women students.

Here's Toobin:

Most observers regard the legal arguments of both sides in fair as at least plausible, but most of the current Justices would probably want to defer to the needs of the military. Roberts’s history suggests that he would do the same; the concept of judicial restraint means a reluctance to invalidate the actions of the other branches of government.

The "other branch of government" referred to here is Congress; it passed the Solomon Amendment by a wide margin.

While your blogstress does not wish to see a gay rights victory come at the expense of female college students, neither does she find solace in the specter of a justice who bows to the executive and legislative branches, both of which have lately seized powers never intended for them.

Click here to read Toobin

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Catholics need not apply?

Your blogstress notes with gratitude the support of Washington Monthly editor Amy Sullivan at TPM Cafe on the matter of her alleged Catholic-bashing.

Sullivan gives readers the backstory, noting the role of GOP Supreme Court nominee salesman C. Boyden Gray in the Catholic-card P.R. campaign for the confirmation of Judge William Pryor.

Merci, ma soeur!

Click here for Sullivan's TPM Cafe piece

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Recuse me

While the Catholic right continues its attack on every mention of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' religion as an example of "Catholic baiting," along comes the very sober Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, recounting, in today's Los Angeles Times, a troubling exchange between the nominee and Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the four Roman Catholic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

According to Turley, Durbin asked Roberts what he would do "if the law required a ruling that [the Catholic Church] considers immoral."

Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.

Sounds reasonable? Think again. He's saying he's unwilling to uphold the Constitution if the Church says he shouldn't. Turley also notes the possibility of a Supreme Court deadlocked over key cases.

Click here to read Turley in the L.A. Times.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

The blogstress speaks

Listen to your blogstress join Eliot Mincberg of People for the American Way in chatting with hosts Janine Jackson and Steve Rendall on the subject of the Supreme Court nomination of Judge John Roberts on:

(the radio program produced by FAIR)

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Operation Rescue
and Judge Roberts

Today Operation Rescue (OR), the militant anti-choice group, issued a press release endorsing the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. And well they should.

In 1992, when the case of OR activist Jayne Bray came before the Supreme Court, Deputy Solicitor General John Roberts filed, on behalf of the George Herbert Walker Bush administration, an amicus brief supporting Bray's position that the Alexandria Women's Health Clinic could not restrict his activities around the clinic on the basis of a civil rights statute.

It was quite the bold move, since Operation Rescue was known for harassing pregnant women and blocking their access to health facilities where abortions are performed. In fact, OR founder Randall Terry deemed one doctor who performed abortions a perpetrator of "crimes against humanity" and said he hoped the doctor would be executed.

Furthermore, the government was not involved in the case, and had no compelling interest in it.

As noted in the piece on Roberts that your blogstress penned for The American Prospect Online, the nominee's wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, served as the executive vice president of Feminists for Life (1995-1999), and has been a serious financial contributor to the group over the years. She continues to do legal work for the organization, according to a statement on the Feminists for Life Web site.

While Ms. Roberts' husband argued Operation Rescue's case before the Supreme Court, Feminists for Life (FFL) filed an amicus brief of its own in support of Operation Rescue. The organization argued over the original intent of the framers of the 1872 statute that the Alexandria clinic was invoking. Since those early feminists regarded abortion to be anathema, asserted FFL, the clinic's claim via the statute should have no standing.

Although your cybertrix does not believe that Ms. Roberts had any role in crafting that brief, she is curious to know whether the nominee's wife had yet become a member of Feminists for Life. Two years after the case was decided, Ms. Roberts joined the organization's board of directors.

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Proving the point

Your blogstress has discovered the origin of the "Catholic baiting" charge being lobbed at her by a group of very angry e-mailers. It comes, not surprisingly, from William Donohue of The Catholic League. It's pretty much his answer to any assertion that ruffles his feathers. Don't agree with Bill? Why then, surely, you're anti-Catholic!

Consider it a preview of the right's response to any tough questioning endured by Roberts at the hands of Democrats.

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Fan mail

Your blogstress apparently hit a raw nerve with certain righties when she revealed the strategic genius of the Bush administration in having nominated an anti-choice Roman Catholic for Supreme Court justice. You'll recall that your cybertrix noted the propensity of wing-nuts to accuse their critics of being hostile to religious folk and their faith traditions, and this is especially effective when the figure under scrutiny is a Roman Catholic; for not so long ago, anti-Catholic discrimination abounded in this great land of ours.

This assessment by your Webwench resulted in a dozen hostile e-mails sent her way from individuals accusing your écrivaine of what? Of being anti-Catholic. (Note here that your net-tête is Catholic herself.)

Most of the missive-writers appear to have gotten the same set of talking points, for they rail against your blogstress for accusing President Bush of "Catholic baiting," which most of them put in quotes, as shown.

This is all very instructive in revealing the sophistic tactics of the right.

By putting the term "Catholic baiting" in quotes, the e-mailers imply that the phrase comes from the writings of your cybertrix. Note here that nowhere in your blogstress's writings will you find that term.

Nor does your Webwench accuse President Bush of anything comparable to Catholic-baiting. Instead, she sees inside the set-up that will likely lead right-wingers to accuse any liberal senator who questions the good judge too closely -- on his attitudes towards choice or religion -- of something comparable to "Catholic baiting."

Many of the e-mailers also accuse your blogstress of having made negative remarks about the Catholic Church. In fact, she made no remarks about the Catholic Church, either negative or positive.

Again, let's review the tactics of the right:

1. Imply that your critic has said something that she has not. (Note: wrapping in quotation marks that which you wish she had said is especially effective in making this assertion.)

2. Craft your response to your deceitful depiction of what your critic said.

3. Call your critic names

Here's a sampling of the e-mails in question:

Your contention that the President's nomination of John Roberts constitutes "Catholic baiting" is totally ridiculous. Did anyone even know (or care) about Roberts' religeous background before you advanced your conspiracy theory? Did you accuse President Clinton of "Jewish baiting" when he nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer to the Supreme Court?

NO.... because they are liberals.

That's one of the more tame ones. Here are some more:

To borrow McDonalds' catch-phrase jingle: "I'm loving it!". "It" being you lunatic-lefty bloodthirsy genocidal murdering abortion-loving bastards frothing at the mouth over the potential prospect of gestating humans not being slaughtered by the millions. Fabulous entertainment!

It might make you feel better if you found and watched "The Silent Scream", or some pictures of aborted babies; the visual evidence of their murders should cheer you up.

I suspect it will suck to be you on Judgment Day.

Regarding the question of judgment, your blogstress reminds the writer of this command from his Lord and Savior: "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone." As concerns the 1980s propaganda piece, "The Silent Scream," its assertions have been so discredited that almost no anti-choice group, even , will use it as an organizing tool.

How dare you attack the Catholic faith. Who do you think you are. You wouldn't dare attack the Muslim faith, Jewish faith or the Blacks. I believe anyone who doesn't is a coward because you fear them. If you should be an atheist, agnostic or whatever your still a coward. Believe me when you die you will find out and then you will really know fear. I'm going to pray for you because its your only hope. " Jesus, Mary and Joseph place you hands of this woman and give her the grace to retract every mean and hateful bone in her body."

No need to pray for the blogstress, dear writer. She finds her own prayers to the Blessed Mother to be quite sufficient.

You accuse the President of the United States of Catholic baiting in his choice for the Supreme Court.

Was Your Hero Bill Clinton Jew baiting when He nominated Ginsberg to the bench?

What is wrong with all Americans having equal protection of the Constitution?

I am sorry the constitutional right of life for one segment of our Nation (the unborn) infringes on your concept of Liberty.

Do you support the killing of all life you deem unimportant?

Now, some brass tacks:

Perhaps the world would have been a better place if your mother had believed in murdering innocent children. You were innocent at one time I suppose. It will be a good day when you plink on your uke and keep your hatred to yourself. Better yet, stop by a church some time and have a talk with God (oh gracious, I said another word that liberals dispise, I keep forgetting the f word is good and the G word is bad.)

First, it cannot pass without note, the low trick of bringing la mère de la blogstresse into the writer's rhetoric. Take notice as well of another rightie tactic: accusing opponents of their own character defects (in this case, hatred). And more big lie material: instructing your cybertrix to "stop by a church sometime," as if that is something she never does.

Let it be known that your écrivaine would not have survived covering the hate-filled Republican National Convention were it not for a very special church with a lovely chapel to the Blessed Mother.

You are a PIG. Disgusting, LIBERAL/COMMUNIST. Enjoy President Bushes nominees.

Your blogstress is drawing a blank on the New Testament provenance of these remarks.

And here's the winner for unintended irony:

I find you to be disgusting!!!

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you call the blogstress names, she will not correct your spelling and grammar for you.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The bench's bottom line

Fascinating piece today on the Roberts nomination at The New Republic Online by William J. Stuntz of Harvard Law. His concerns are about the nominee's apparent lack of interest in constitutional reasoning. Click here to read.

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Rome must be smiling

Before she gets out of the prognostication business for good, your blogstress would like to note that while she missed on naming the actual pick for the Supreme Court, her hunch that Bush would go for a Roman Catholic did indeed play out. And it's a brilliant move. When righties are challenged, they like to accuse the challenger of being hostile to "people of faith." This is less effective when the person being challenged is Protestant, the U.S. being a Protestant-majority nation. But when applied to a Catholic, a fairly fresh wound is opened, for most American Catholics still transmit in our DNA the cultural memory of religious discrimination.

The nomination of the apparently fiercely anti-choice John Roberts to the Supreme Court will--and should--elicit fierce opposition from people who care about the lives of women. But senators who challenge Roberts on these views are likely to be tarred with the anti-Catholic smear. That's why it's imperative that Catholic senators take the lead in the hard questioning. And by no means should they vote to take this nomination to the floor. FYI, Democratic Catholics on the Senate Judiciary Committee are:

Joseph Biden (Del.)
Richard Durbin (Ill.)
Edward Kennedy (Mass.)
Patrick Leahy (Vt. - Ranking)

Click on their names and send them an e-mail.

Then look at the Web site for Feminists for Life, the organization for which the nominee's wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, once served as executive vice president.

For more, check out your Webwench's piece at The American Prospect Online.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Holy justice, Batman!

As some smart blogger suggested early this morning (if only your blogstress could recall which one), the Bush administration has cleverly decided now is the time to move the media off the topic of its disgraced boy wonder. How better to do so than with a Supreme Court nomination? The administration’s first, at that.

Despite the buzz surrounding the Fifth Circuit’s Edith Clement, your cybertrix fears the nomination of a different brainy blonde. Her name is Mary Ann Glendon, the Vatican’s favorite exemplar of a woman’s special nature.

Ms. Glendon today toils as a law professor at Harvard, but in the past she has served the Vatican in several capacities, most notably as the head of the Holy See’s delegation to the 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing. Stay tuned.

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She's so sensitive

From the Wall Street Journal we learn today of a State Department memo, said to have traveled with President Bush on Air Force One during his 2003 African visit, that clearly indicated the status of Valerie Plame as a CIA employee and wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson as "sensitive" and not to be shared.

The WSJ story, by Anne Marie Squeo and John D. McKinnon, also takes issue with Mr. Wilson's assertion that his investigative trip to Niger was made to satisfy a request from the vice president's office. Your blogstress is a bit chagrined at that, having accepted Mr. Wilson's provenance claim at face value in yesterday's post. Today she defers to Squeo and McKinnon.

Whatever one thinks of the Wall Street Journal editorial and opinion page (and one should, indeed, think not well of it), the paper's news reporting is unsurpassed.

On a lighter note, don't forget to read your Webwench's favorite satirist, Tom Burka, on the Rove affair: Rove Entirely Dependent on Novak for Top-Secret Government Information, Says Super-Secret White House Source

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Floor exercise

Despite her legendarily flexible musculature, your blogstress finds herself a bit knotted up over this whole Rove-Plame-Cooper-Miller affair.

At first, your cybertrix just hated--HAY-TED--that mean Patrick Fitzgerald, the overzealous special prosecutor who, in his quest to determine just who in the Bush administration leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative to several reporters, ran all amok over the First Amendment and put the New York Times' Judith Miller in jail for failing to fold when the court demanded she name her source. (Most commentators have failed to note that it was the only woman among the three targeted reporters who stuck to her guns regarding her confidentiality agreement.) Truly, how could a guerrila journalist such as your Webwench--whose very existence rests on an enlightened reading of the U.S. Constitution--possibly like a prosecutor like that?

How high does it go?
Then we learned the rumors were true: that presidential advisor Karl Rove--that smug, pug-faced purveyor of the smear tactic--was involved in the leaking process, despite the White House's previous protestations to the contrary. And Rove is looking like at least one of the real targets of Fitzgerald's investigation. (Okay, so maybe Fitzgerald's not that bad; he's just terribly misguided on the meaning of the First Amendment.)

But does that mean that Judy Miller's in jail for protecting Karl Rove? Or someone even worse? Man, that would be a bitter pill.

Now that Rove says he learned of Valerie Plame's CIA status from columnist Robert Novak, and not the other way around, one has to wonder if Fitzgerald's sights aren't set even higher than Deputy Chief of Staff Rove, a thought that certainly shines Fitzgerald's image up a bit, at least in the eyes of your net-tête. You see, in the event that Karl Rove has stumbled into telling the truth, another highly placed source would likely be the original font of the reporter's information.

While Washington buzzes about the possibility of Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, being the original source of the information, your blogstress offers a more delicious speculation: what if it goes higher? Nu, who was personally running to the CIA to get more convenient intelligence on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction? (Not that your écrivaine knows, but perhaps you do, gentle reader.)

You see, that is what this is really all about. It's getting harder and harder to make the case that the administration didn't lie to the American people about Saddam's alleged possession of these weapons, which was the original pretext for getting into this awful war. And the White House is duly nervous, seeing as how that Zogby poll your cybertrix shamelessly flogs shows 42 percent of the American people saying that Bush should be impeached if he was shown to be telling such a lie.

Who is Valerie Plame, and why do we care?
For those outside the Beltway, who have lives to tend to and such, let us explain just who the lovely Ms. Plame is, why she is loathed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Valerie Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was sent, by the CIA, to the African country of Niger, to discern whether that nation had sold something called yellowcake uranium to the Iraqi govenment, as the Bush administration claimed. In fact, Mr. Wilson says that his trip to Niger was arranged to satisfy a request to the CIA from Vice President Cheney's office to provide analysis of the yellowcake claim. Mr. Wilson, discerning that Niger had not sold yellowcake (or angel food or chocolate cake, for that matter) to Saddam, apparently brought back the wrong answer, because the administration continued to float the yellowcake theory. So Mr. Wilson wrote an op-ed piece about his findings in the New York Times even as administration officials continued to tout the yellowcake claim. This made people inside the White House very mad.

Then, some very mad person apparently decided to punish Mr. Wilson by making a reporter (or two or three) privy to the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the CIA on issues pertaining to weapons of mass destructon (WMD). This could effectively end Ms. Plame's CIA career and, in any event, place her or her contacts in danger.

Double-super-secret-background (ex-pi-al-ie-do-cious!)
After conservative commentator Robert Novak revealed the CIA status of Joe Wilson's wife in his column, President Bush assured the public that anyone in his administration found to have taken part in the leak would be "dealt with appropriately". White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that anyone in the White House shown to be the leaker would "no longer be part of this administration."

None of that forestalled the appointment of a special prosecutor, who turned out to the be very zealous Patrick Fitzgerald of Illinois, now forever famous for jailing a New York Times reporter and causing some quaking and trembling in the White House.(Ironically--or perhaps not--that very same New York Times reporter is one who mistakenly reported as fact on WMD in the Iraqi desert that turned out not to exist. Hence, the utterly contemptuous and stupid cheering of a few depraved anti-war lefties at the thought of Ms. Miller in a prison jumpsuit.)

Adding spice to this already fragrant mix is this: Just yesterday, we learned of how Time magazine's Matt Cooper heard first from from Rove--on "double-super-secret-background," according to an e-mail Cooper sent to his editor--that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

Known as "Bush's brain," Rove's indispensibilty was today revealed as the president backed off from his earlier promise to can any leakers. He now says that he will fire anybody who "broke the law" while leaking the identity of a CIA agenct to the press. He's apparently pretty sure that Rove will avoid prosecution, for the president could hardly keep a felon on the White House payroll. A mere traitor, well, c'mon--that's not so bad.

That 70s scandal
Your cybertrix would be remiss if she failed to mention her delight with the Greek chorus that has appeared, in the guise of Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, to explain this drama to the rest of us. As luck would have it, their book, The Secret Man, about Woodward's relationship with Deep Throat (Woodward's double-super-secret Watergate source), is newly minted and the pair are making the rounds of the talk show at this fortuitous moment. And one senses that now, with their secret at last revealed, they're having a bit of fun with each other.

Oh, bodacious Webwench! Surely you're not equating today's events with that other scandal. Yo, that was a constitutional crisis 'n' everything.

Ah, dear Grasshopper. Open your eyes. Then check who's reading your e-mails and going through your garbage: Large Volume of F.B.I. Files Alarms U.S. Activist Groups.

Should her readers find the contortions of this story more nauseating than amusing, she strongly advises they read the très amusant piece, "Rove to the Rescue," by Charles P. Pierce, at The American Prospect Online.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Much has happened since your blogstress last checked in. The London bombings rendered her speechless but, sadly, not surprised.

Is there a person left on earth who actually believes that the war in Iraq is going to save us from terrorists?

On that point, a bit of old news bears repeating. According to a recent Zogby poll, 4 in 10 Americans believe that President Bush should be impeached if it is proven that he was lying about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Even more instructive is the breakdown by party of pro-impeachment respondents. While Democrats comprised the majority (59%), one quarter of the Republicans questioned came down on the same side. So much for the rabid loyalty to Bush that marked the early months of the war. These results would suggest a Bush impeachment to be a real possibility.

Might we see the investigation of Karl Rove as a first step toward that end? (One can always hope, n'est-ce pas?)

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pleading the First

La mère de la blogstress always contended that momentous things happen in threes. Accepting this axiom, your cybertrix deduces that, over the course of the last 24 hours, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is having a very big day.

Let's begin with the jailing of Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who has refused to give up the anonymous source who told her that a certain ambassador's wife was a CIA agent. Note that Miller never wrote about it, and that although at least one of her colleagues, Matt Cooper of Time, already gave up his source. Miller is clearly being made an example of. Anybody sense a chill in the air?

Today also brought the news that L. Patrick Gray, otherwise known as Deep Throat's boss at the FBI, died yesterday at the age of 88. It's as if the good Lord kept him around just long enough to express (to ABC News) his shock that his trusted deputy had betrayed him to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

And speaking of Mr. Woodward, Michiko Kakutani today gives a good bit of real estate--if not generosity of spirit--to the former's new book about his relationship with W. Mark Felt (a.k.a., Deep Throat). Seizing the opportunity to make a larger point, Ms. Kakutani uses her review to stress the importance of anonymous sources, and to remark upon the targeting of Judith Miller:

Today, in a climate where the public has a deepening distrust of the press - in part because of self-inflicted wounds, in part because of efforts on the part of the Bush administration and ideological partisans to discredit the news media - more and more reporters are being threatened with jail if they do not reveal their confidential sources. Just last week, after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal, Time magazine gave in to demands of federal prosecutors to turn over documents concerning a reporter's confidential sources.

And this is just the beginning, mes amis--just the very beginning.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I'll take that with meatballs

Your blogstress begs the forgiveness of her readers. Yes, your cybertrix is aware of all manner of Very Important Matters on which she should be writing (for instance, the prosecutor in the Plame leak case making Time reporter Matt Cooper testify before a grand jury even though his feckless boss, Norman Pearlstine, forked Cooper's notes over to the court. Presumed to be in those notes is the name of the administration official who leaked to Cooper the information that Valerie Plame, wife of diplomat and Bush critic Joseph Wilson, was employed by the CIA.) But what is there really to say? That the republic has broken down? We knew that already.

So, instead your Webwench delights in the weirdness of a story in today's New York Times about a scientific study that set out to discover whether or not male bisexuals actually exist. The scientists made their determination (essentially, that there does not, so far, appear to be any such creature as a male bisexual), by conducting a "Clockwork Orange" sort of exercise on a group of men: some claimed to be gay, some claimed to be heterosexual and some claimed to be bisexual.

The scientists attached probes to the subjects' genitals and then showed them pornography. The porn featured either an all-female or all-male cast. According to the study, almost nobody responded to both types of porn, thereby eliminating the notion of "true" bisexuality, whatever that is. However, one-third of the subjects had no genital response to either genre of pornography, so, presumably, one-third of all men are asexual--or badly need to refill the Levitra prescription.

Almost as an aside, the story, Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited, by Benedict Carey, cites a study by Dr. Lisa Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender identity at the University of Utah, that examined the sexual habits of women who claimed to be bisexual (as well as those of self-described lesbians and straight women). Seems that the weaker sex is a bit more gender-inclusive in its sexual range.

"Most of them seem to lean one way or the other, but that doesn't preclude them from having a relationship with the nonpreferred sex," [Diamond] said. "You may be mostly interested in women but, hey, the guy who delivers the pizza is really hot, and what are you going to do?"

Why, the pizza delivery guy, of course.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

Et tu, Tempus?

With so much Constitution-threatening action going on all around us, your blogstress finds herself a bit breathless as she tries to earn her keep as a prima pontificata. With bosom heaving, your cybertrix here notes her earlier failure to comment on the shameful actions of Time magazine in turning over documents that identify an heretofore confidential source to reporter Matt Cooper in the matter of Valerie Plame's "outing". You'll recall that Ms. Plame's status as a CIA operative was revealed to reporters, apparently by someone in the White House, as an apparent payback to Ms. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who questioned the veracity of the Administration's claims regarding Sadam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Got that?

Anyway, Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.'s top honcho, forked over Cooper's notes to the judge who demanded them, despite the fact that Cooper said he was willing to risk jail in order to protect his source.

There is no excuse for any journalist making such a betrayal of a source and, in refusing to see the matter to the bitter end, Time has set a precedent that imperils the future of a free press. Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher magazine makes that case here.

Media as the government's lapdog; how despicable. I suppose we're supposed to settle for the amusement of learning who in the White House leaked--"the big reveal," as they say on HGTV. Hope it's somebody good.

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Does the Constitution live?

Your blogstress, in her distress over the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, has penned a piece for The American Prospect Online on just what women stand to lose with O'Connor's farewell.

O'Connor has rendered her share of troubling decisions pertaining to women's rights--most notably, her opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the case that greatly broadened states' rights to restrict abortion rights. But, ironically, she may be largely responsible for the fact that Roe v. Wade, however weakened, remains in effect. And she has certainly proven herself to be a tigress when it comes to protecting women from sexual harassment in the workplace.

But her most significant achievement of all may be that, in her sometimes counterintuitive opinions, she became the very embodiment of the living Constitution--an entity that at least two of the currently seated justices would like to kill.

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O'Connor resigns
A bad day for women

With all of the speculation concerning an anticipated resignation on the Supreme Court, today's announcement by Sandra Day O'Connor came as something as a surprise. The focus had been on the frail-looking Chief Justice William Rehnnquist, who is suffering from thyroid cancer.

Given the fact that O'Connor, the high court's "swing" voter, will doubtless be replaced by a hard-rightie, today signals a dark day for women. By feminist standards, O'Connor's voting record was far from perfect, but she has helped to keep Roe v. Wade from being overturned in its entirety, and joined the decision that made sexual harassment an illegal form of discrimination. Soon, we may find ourselves saying good-bye to all that.

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