After a Fair Trial, the Prisoner Will Be Executed

Journalist Michael Kinsley once said that “a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”  I could quibble with the precision of that — some gaffes are untrue — but it’s a great line.  And by that definition, hapless presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs committed a gaffe this morning (hat tip for my  headline to  Tigerhawk):

Where he gets tried is still up for debate, but the White House thinks it knows what will happen when alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is convicted.

“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he’s going to meet his maker,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told John King on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning.

“He’s likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed,” he added.

Cue Mr. Rogers, the noted defense attorney: “Can you say ‘tainted jury pool’? Sure you can!”

I don’t know whether KSM will actually get executed or not, and I don’t much care — I have ambivalent feelings about the death penalty.  Here’s what I do know: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will never draw another free breath. In the highly unlikely event that a federal judge can be found who will dismiss the charges because of the waterboarding or an inability to seat an impartial jury, the administration will immediately rediscover the concept of “enemy combatant,” and will use that to keep the 9/11 mastermind on ice until his dying day.

The notion that KSM has all the rights of a civilian murder suspect is farcical, and in
homage to that farce the administration is willing to endanger Americans. This same desire to pretend we are not at war was behind the decision to give the FBI only 50 minutes with Captain Underpants before letting him lawyer up and hide behind the rights of a common criminal.

How is the KSM Trial Like a Garbage Barge?

Remember the Mobro 4000?  I didn’t recall it by that name, but I certainly remember the garbage barge that in 1987 traveled up and down the Atlantic seaboard, from Long Island to Belize and back, looking for a place to unload 3,100 tons of garbage.

The bizarre 16-week journey started with local outcry in North Carolina over plans to burn the New York garbage in a pilot methane-production program, and the story quickly became a running joke.   [Hi Mom!  I seem to remember you were tickled by it at the time.]

After the initial rejection, no state or country on the East Coast would let the barge unload.  I don’t recall ever hearing that there was anything particularly toxic about the contents, but the barge had become so notorious that nobody wanted to take any chances.  Eventually the garbage went back to Long Island for disposal there.

This came to mind when I heard that New York City officials had come to their senses and begun lobbying the federal government to abandon plans to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others in civilian court in lower Manhattan.  Certain adjectives seem to connect with certain blog topics in my mind, and I find that I’ve referred to this as an “indefensible decision” not once, not twice, but three times.

My first and longest post on the topic said it was intended as another Bush-bashing ploy, and that it could not be understood as a principled decision because the administration still plans to try other terrorists as enemy combatants.  I’m glad that it looks like the trial won’t be held in lower Manhattan, but the point is that there should not be a civilian trial at all

A grandstanding mayor in upstate New York promptly suggested holding the trial at the air force base in Newburgh.  (Other local officials fell all over each other denouncing the idea.)  I can’t find a link, but I heard on the radio that some other politician said it should be held in Obama’s home town of Chicago.

I envision the planned KSM trial now traipsing from one venue to another, turned away at every stop.  It would be poetic justice if KSM and his fellow terrorists, like the wandering garbage barge, end up right back where they started — in this case, Guantanamo.  The Gitmo option is still available, now that the president has abandoned his self-imposed deadline to close the facility in his first year.

How Much Trouble are the Democrats In?

Classmate, pal and fellow right-leaning ex-journalist Van Wallach at Kesher Talk thinks journalists are overplaying the Democratic debacle story line in Massachusetts:

Don’t buy into the hype about terrible trouble for the Democrats. Some trouble, maybe. The mainstream media (MSM) is working overtime to rip into Obama like a pack of famished guppies. They want to see him dunked in the political pool and come out gasping and choking — a little. Why? Because this creates a dramatic narrative, which journalists crave like a crack high. A boring, incrementally mediocre administration won’t satisfy them. After the drama of his rise to power, Obama has to keep the drama and surprises coming. Scott Brown and the Fabulous 41 Block of the GOP serves both the MSM and the Obama camp.

Van also thinks the MSM is (are?) setting up a Comeback Kid narrative, which may well be the case.  But I have a slightly different take.  (Yes, in time-honored bloggish fashion, I’ve quoted Van as an excuse for quoting myself.)

Loyal A.T.I.N. readers (hi Sweetie!) will flash back to my Instalanche post the week before the Inauguration, when I started a “Honeymoon-Over Watch”:

[J]ournalists no longer have to worry that Obama might lose the election. Now the natural competitiveness of the news media will begin to overwhelm partisanship, at least until the 2012 race heats up. The honeymoon isn’t over yet, and it certainly won’t end before the Inaugural. But starting next Tuesday (ok maybe Wednesday), when President Obama doesn’t bring the troops home, doesn’t close Guantanamo, doesn’t end the recession, doesn’t deliver national health insurance, doesn’t roll back global warming and make the oceans recede — or at least doesn’t do any of these things as fast as the Left would like — then things like the peccadillos of Tim Geithner will start to get more coverage.

(Emphasis added, to highlight the fact that one year in, Obama is five for five on the doesn’ts.)

Van and I are describing two sides of the same coin — his journalistic need for a dramatic narrative provides fuel for the journalistic competitiveness I described. Where I part company with Van is on the degree of trouble facing the Democrats.  If a Republican can handily win a statewide election in (“Don’t blame me, I’m from”) Massachusetts, something significant is afoot.

I hasten to add that it is possible, of course, to overstate the matter, as one Republican Party spinmeister did by saying “no Democrat is safe.”  Plenty of Democrats are safe.  But unless the Obama administration starts tacking right, some who think they are safe are likely to be voted out in November.  And I haven’t seen any sign in Obama of the kind of Clintonian centrist pragmatism that would enable him to become a Comeback Kid.

Brown Victory Should Spell an End to Obamacare

I guess we can’t call it the People’s Republic of Massachusetts any more.  At 52% to 47%, it wasn’t even particularly close.

Democrats in the House are stumbling over each other as they back away from the notion of approving the Senate-passed version of health care “reform” so that the Senate would not have to vote again.

Democratic pollster and operative Doug Schoen describes the result even more starkly than most Republicans (H/T: Contentions):

The defeat of Martha Coakley represents a complete repudiation of President Obama’s domestic agenda, going well beyond health care. Massachusetts voters made it clear tonight with the decisive victory they gave to Republican Scott Brown that they want and expect the administration to pursue a dramatically different approach.

Wow.  Unless the Obama administration starts veering sharply back toward the center, the mid-term election in November will be even more dramatic.

NJ Episcopalians Respond to Haitian Tragedy

Many worthy organizations are scrambling to help the victims of the horrific earthquake in Haiti.  There also have been reports of scams.

If you want to help and have not yet chosen a charity, I strongly recommend Episcopal Relief & Development, which has a long history of relief work in Haiti (as well as 40 other countries).  Anglicans in Haiti are affiliated with the Episcopal Church, and on its Haiti Crisis page, ERD is mobilizing support from Episcopalians around the country.

In her role as Director of Communications and Technology for the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, the Web Goddess today shot and edited the moving 2-minute video above.  In the video the Bishop of Newark issues a call to action and announces a $10,000 donation from the Diocese itself, along with support for the Bishop of Haiti, who is safe, and his injured wife.  A news release has more information.

A Conservative Sticks Up for Harry Reid, Sort of

I don’t agree with every syllable of Nicholas Guariglia’s commentary, but this part works:

Senator Harry Reid is a corrupt statist, embodying everything wrong with the 111th U.S. Congress. But he isn’t a bigot. Reid deserves, and will likely receive, a humiliating electoral defeat in November. But he doesn’t deserve a coerced resignation, which would most assuredly be spun as a moment of grand martyrdom. …

It’s unbecoming — and plain wrong — to attack a man’s character based on a moment of flippancy and poor phraseology. That’s what the race hucksters on the left have done to conservatives for years. They’re wrong to do so. Why then would conservatives like Michael Steele feel justified in replicating such cheap behavior themselves? Two wrongs do not make a right.

The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage


After the New Jersey Senate’s disgraceful vote to deny equal rights to same-sex couples, the fight for marriage equality turns to federal court.  Testimony began today in the effort to overturn California’s Proposition 8.

A fascinating subplot can be found in the fact that the lead legal adversaries in Bush v. Gore have joined forces to make the case for marriage equality.  The Republican, Ted Olson, is featured on the cover of Newsweek this week with an eloquent explanation of why he took the case.  An excerpt (emphasis added):

Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.

Today’s NJ Gay Marriage Vote Hurts Real People

William and Michael.  Sharon and Cheryl.  Chris and Chris.  Kevin and Bill.  John and Billy.  Ulysses and Gary.  Elaine and Lauren.

These are not pseudonyms or hypotheticals — they are actual gay and lesbian couples in my life, people I cherish, good Christians in long-term committed relationships, some of them for 30 years and more.  Today the New Jersey Senate spat on their relationships, and I am pissed.

The Web Goddess and I voted for different candidates, but on this issue we are united, standing proudly to the left of our President.  We’re confident that our marriage will not be damaged if our friends are allowed to marry as well.  The idea is so bizarre that I should not have to type those words, but there they are.

Same-sex marriage is a straightforward civil rights issue, and the only acceptable outcome is full marriage equality.  I believe I’ll see it in my lifetime.  But New Jersey took a step in the wrong direction today, and I weep for my friends.

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Obama: “The Negotiations Will Be on C-SPAN”

As top Democrats rush to huddle behind closed doors to craft a health care “reform” bill without Republican input, keep in mind that Candidate Obama promised a new era of openness and transparency in Washington.  The video embedded above captures eight different times when Obama promised that the health care negotiations would be on C-SPAN.

Now, actually holding public negotiations for reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill may sound good in a grand-standing campaign speech, but it’s not practical.  As John Steele Gordon points out at Contentions, real negotiations are never held in public. “The give and take, the thinking out loud, the tentative suggestions, the horse-trading that are so much a part of any negotiation would be impossible when every casual phrase, recorded on C-Span’s camcorders, might be turned into an attack ad for the next election.”

But the offensive part of this is not the breaking of a misguided campaign promise to hold public negotiations.  What’s offensive is that the legislation that results from those negotiations will be rushed through the Congress with zero Republican support, or close to it, and undoubtedly before anyone can even read the final bill.  Gordon again:

When they are done, a vast bill will be rushed to each congressional floor and voted on with just as much dispatch as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can manage. If no one except the negotiators even has a chance to read the bill, let alone consider it in depth, before the final vote, so much the better. It will then pass, unless some Democrats — looking over their shoulders at the increasing number of their fellow party members who have decided to spend more time with their families — figure out that their political survival requires defying the party bosses.

It’s Getting Harder to Hide the Decline

When I was a newspaper reporter — back in the last ice age, har har har — I was assigned to cover a press conference staged by an agency of the New Jersey state government.  The state was suffering from a severe drought, and the agency (the Department of Environmental Protection, I think, but don’t hold me to that) wanted to underscore the importance of the temporary water-use restrictions it had imposed.

So what happened on the morning of the press conference?  You guessed it… the skies opened.  There was localized flooding. The DEP spokesman scrambled to explain how one big rainstorm wasn’t nearly enough to solve the state’s water woes, but he ruefully admitted, “it’s hard to sell a drought in a rainstorm.”

Yes, yes, climate is not the same as weather, ocean temperatures are a serious concern, blah blah blah.  But as I nursemaid finicky furnaces in my home and church, I can’t help thinking — where’s global warming when you really need it?

Via Gay Patriot, here are some of the latest anthropogenic dispatches from the frigid front lines:

- US in Grips of Long-Lasting Cold Spell
- Temps Plunge to Record as Cold Snap Freezes North, East States…
- CHILL MAP…
- Vermont sets ‘all-time record for one snowstorm’…
- Iowa temps ‘a solid 30 degrees below normal’…
- Peru’s mountain people ‘face extinction because of cold conditions’…
- Beijing — coldest in 40 years…
- World copes with Arctic weather…

I’m all in favor of finding ways to reduce our dependence on the carbon-based fuels that create greenhouse gases.  But it’s hard to believe we need to cripple the global economy for the sake of the planet.

Also via GayPatriot, this assessment from a meteorologist who formerly headed the National Hurricane Center:

The revelation of Climate-gate occurs at a time when the accuracy of the climate models is being seriously questioned. Over the last decade Earth’s temperature has not warmed, yet every model (there are many) predicted a significant increase in global temperatures for that time period. If the climate models cannot get it right for the past 10 years, why should we trust them for the next century?