Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Passing Game

Pejman Yousefzadeh loses no time in beginning to smear newly-announced Presidential candidate John Edwards. Within hours of Edwards' announcement, Mr. Yousefzadeh posts up "John Edwards: Champion Of The Poor? We Report. You Decide."

Mr. Yousefzadeh offers a damning report that purports to show that Edwards is no champion of the downtrodden, but a scheming opportunist:
"'During his career of allegedly championing the helpless, he took no pro bono cases.' This failure is especially noteworthy given that the North Carolina bar's rules of professional responsibility state that "The provision of free legal services to those unable to pay reasonable fees continues to be an obligation of each lawyer ...."

Mr. Yousefazdeh's report isn't original, though. It comes courtesy of Professor Bainbridge, who writes:
"...his concern might be more plausible if he has demonstrated such concern in private life. Unfortunately, as the Washington Times reports, 'During his career of allegedly championing the helpless, he took no pro bono cases.'"

Oddly, the good professor doesn't source the quote other than to say it comes from the Washington Times. A little sleuthing turns up not any actual reporting, but an unsigned 2004 Washington Times editorial that contains the quote:
"Mr. Edwards even sued the American National Red Cross three times, winning confidential settlements on claims that HIV had been transmitted through contaminated blood supplies. During his career of allegedly championing the helpless, he took no pro bono cases."

A search of the Washington Times archive doesn't turn up any reporting to support the claim. So where did it come from?

Apparently from this article in the New York Times, that ran 10 days before the editorial. It tells a somewhat different story:
"Another former adversary, James P. Cooney III, who defended a dozen medical malpractice cases brought by Mr. Edwards, agreed that 'he was very selective about his cases.'

'He only took the best cases, and by that I don't mean the ones with the highest damages,' Mr. Cooney said. 'I mean the ones where somebody had done something really bad.'

But Mr. Edwards handled no notable pro bono cases, the typical vehicle for lawyers who want to have a larger impact."

It seems the Washington Times took "no notable pro bono cases" to mean "no pro bono cases at all."

How much pro bono work has Mr. Edwards done in his career? I don't know. Mr. Yousefzadeh doesn't either. Nevertheless, Professor Bainbridge takes the long pass from the Washington Times, revives the bogus report, and dishes to Mr. Yousefazdeh who slams it home.

For those of you keeping score: Washington Times to Bainbridge to Redstate on the play.

Google Search: "Banned from Redstate"

AJStrata of "The Strata-Sphere," October 9th, 2005:
"Key folks at Redstate have been pushing for a civil war in the republican party, and the broader conservative movement, over the Miers nomination. So on many threads, but this one in particular, I decided to test their mettle. I wanted to know if, beyond their flimsy claims, they had what it took to make this fight real.

"They don’t. I was banned because I called the anti-Miers crowd ‘extremists’ and ‘fanatics’. Compared to the innuendo thrown at Miers this is not very tough rhetoric. Especially since there is a real case to be made that people willing to throw Bush overboard for the remainder of his term, over this issue, are being ideological fanatics."

Barking at Shadows

Redstate's resident guard dog, Moe Lane, rousts himself from sniffing out heresies in the comments threads long enough to bark half-heartedly at incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid. It seems Mr. Reid and five other senators will keep their appointments with leaders of three South American nations rather than warm chairs at former President Gerald Ford's funeral.

The AP's Dennis Conrad reports:
WASHINGTON - Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will miss the state funeral for former President Gerald Ford at the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday night, opting instead to lead a delegation to South America with an expected stop at the Machu Picchu Inca ruins.

Reid, D-Nev., left Wednesday afternoon from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland with a bipartisan group of five other senators, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the incoming assistant majority leader, for what has been described as a weeklong visit to Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

The highlight of the trip is said to be separate meetings with the presidents of the three nations, with the last one scheduled in Peru on Tuesday afternoon.

"It's Not Like It Was Carter or Anything" woofs Mr. Lane. Mr. Lane joins Hugh Hewitt, Captain's Quarters, and many other conservatives in excoriating Mr. Reid and party for failing to postpone their long-planned diplomatic venture in favor of a couple of hours of eulogizing. Not one can manage a moment's hesitation before hurdling to the conclusion that a senator's failure to attend the funeral of an ex-president is without precedent.

However, Mr. Lane, quite unlike his conservative confreres, reserves the greater share of his ire for the two Republican senators on the trip, Judd Gregg and Robert Bennett:
Bad Senators! BAD! There's a former President lying in state at Capitol! You don't go to South America on vacation - yeah, we noticed that it's nice and warm down there - when that happens! And don't you dare tell me that Harry Reid and the others said that you could go. They're Democrat[ic politician]s**, so they don't know any better*. We expect you to.

"Woof, woof," barks Mr. Lane, reminding us for all the world of a chained-up mutt barking at anyone who dares pass on the street:
Gregg, do you want to end up like Chafee? We dumped him - and we needed him for a majority. Bennett, do you see anywhere in the federal or State Constitutions where it says 'the people of Utah will have at least one Senator with the name of Bob Bennett'? That's right, you don't... and no, writing it in the margins doesn't count.

Sheesh. Try to... no. No try. Remember why you are in Washington in the first place. Even if all of the people around you are busy forgetting. Especially if the all of the people around you are busy forgetting. You can reschedule your trip for later. The South American governments will understand; this is a legitimate reason for postponing the visit. And even if they don't, you two will still not embarrass us like this in public.

You will not. (Lane's emphasis.)

"Remember why you are in Washington in the first place," instructs Mr. Lane, but he forgets to bring the point home. What duty is it that Mssrs.Gregg and Bennett need to remember? Mr. Lane doesn't say. Apparently, these gentlemen have been sent to Washington to attend funerals and other celebrations of the accomplishments of politicians past. Mr. Lane, at least, recognizes their existence. Mr. Hewitt, et al, seem to have overlooked the members of the traveling party with big, red R's after their names.

But what's most amusing is Lane's threatening tone. "We dumped him"? Well, nevermind Mr. Lane's fantasy that it was conservative Republicans and not the voters of Rhode Island who retired Mr. Chaffee. And nevermind Mr. Lane's presumption in speaking for either. He's on a roll. Let him go.

Meanwhile, back to the puzzling work of Mr. Conrad at the AP. In his lede, Mr. Conrad hurries to tell us that Harry Reid is going sightseeing instead of bowing his head in respect to the departed Mr. Ford. But just two paragraphs later, Conrad tells us that the highlight of the trip is "said to be" a set of meetings with the leaders of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador.

Later, Mr. Conrad explains:
The senators are also scheduled to be in Cuzco, Peru, on Sunday, which would give them an opportunity to view the nearby Inca ruins and anything else in advance of New Year's Eve.

Why, the senators will be in Cuzco which is quite near the ruins!! he observes. What's more, they'll have an opportunity to view the ruins "and anything else"! Before New Year's Eve!!

Perhaps if Mr. Lane and company would bother to read past the first graf of the story, they'd realize that they, like bored guard dogs, are barking at a passing shadow, the rustling of leaves, or some other phantom they've transmogrified into monsters of their own invention.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fighting the Global War on Straw

Jeff Emanuel Redstate regular "haystack" does the honors today. Clearing his throat for an epic post on the meaning of the Caliphate, Mr. haystack reflects on the unfair treatment the C-in-C endures at the hands of The Left, and leaves any reader with a lick of sense slack-jawed in disbelief:

Having said that, and reflecting on the relentless pounding he has had to endure as he tries to keep us safe at home while moving the world forward into the 21st century (a job description fitting enough for the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet), it is not difficult to understand what Bush 43 is trying to do, and it is even LESS difficult to see how little of the world's troubles are actually BECAUSE of his actions.

The idea that the West would have sufficient power to be the sole impetus of a civil war between Sunni and Shia in the middle east is merely wishful thinking on the part of the anti-war movement, and serves no valuable purpose in the debate over what the West should actually DO about it.

Mr. haystack lowers his lance and lays waste the Goliath. Having invented an anti-war movement that believes that the West is the "sole impetus" for Muslim sectarian strife, he nails that sucker. Great heaps of straw are strewn about for several feet in all directions.

Ever forgetful, Mr. haystack neglects to point us to any examples of anti-war types who believe the West created the division among Muslims.

Nevertheless, Mr. haystack does deserve a little credit. He called the sectarian conflict a "civil war" without flinching or hedging. Next, having argued so convincingly that the schism between Shias and Sunnis dates back a dozen centuries or so, perhaps Mr. haystack will come to the realization that the current situation might have been foreseen prior to Mr. Bush's efforts to "bring the world into the 21st Century."

[UPDATE: Redstate writer "haystack" writes in comments (how'd you guys find this place so quickly?) to correct an error. The explication of the Caliphate posted at Redstate was not written by Jeff Emanuel, but by Mr. haystack himself. Apologies to all. The post above is corrected.]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Pony! A Pony!

Redstate's Jeff Emanuel awoke on Christmas to find just what every good little warblogger wants, not under the tree, but in the New York Times, of all places. It's a little like getting a pony from your old Aunt Sally who usually sends socks and underwear.

Mr. Emanuel hops gleefully from one foot to the other after unwrapping a report in the Times and finding shiny, new Proof! that Iran is up to no good in Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Dec. 24 — The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington.

This means, Mr. Emanuel says, that "Iran is shown to be actively - and potentially provably - working to further destabilize Iraq." He further observes:
It is indeed an opportunity for the Iraqi government to decide, and demostrate, just what they are willing to tolerate. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is reportedly "unhappy with the arrests," and his displeasure is understandable if looked at from the point of view of many who have been displeased - at best - with his inability (and apparent unwillingness) to stem the Iranian insurgence and domestic sectarian violence within the nation.

However, Mr. Emanuel forgets to untangle the puzzling complexities that arise from this story, for instance:

  • Why would Iran--a Shiite-dominated nation--want to destabilize the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government?

  • Why would Mr. Talibani--a Kurd--act in support of an insurgency driven by the remnants of Saddam's Sunni government that suppressed the Kurds?

  • Why are Iraqi government leaders asking the U.S. to release these villains if they pose such a threat to the Iraqi government itself?

    These are, apparently, mere quibbles that don't merit Mr. Emanuel's attention. Such niggling details are dwarfed by the greater lesson to be gained:
    For their sake, and for ours, the leadership of Iraq needs to fully recognize that Iran is no friend of theirs in the region, and to finally take a public - and private - stand for their allies (us), and against their enemy, Iran.

    Never mind that this bit of information seems to have been conveniently leaked to the Times in advance of the Bush administration's response to the Baker commission report recommending stepped-up dialogue with Iran--a step every true-believing Redstater just loathes. The fact that a State Department spokesman has delivered, on thin evidence, his fondest wish is enough to make a believer of Mr. Emanuel.

    Why, it's almost enough to make a fellow believe in Santa Claus too.
  • Putting the 'Urge' in 'Purge'

    It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.--Lyndon Johnson

    I'm starting this little blog to nip at the ankles of the conservative colossi at Redstate. On occasion--well, daily--one of them posts something so objectionable or poorly reasoned that it just can't pass without comment.

    Of course, I could comment right there at Redstate. After all, they do run one of the rare conservative blogs that allows comments. I could, that is, if I hadn't been banned for using the word "purge" to characterize the desire of one of the regular Redstate writers to "reduce and gradually eliminate Muslim immigrants from these shores."

    In my second-ever comment, I asked whether the writer only wanted to get rid of Muslim immigrants or if there were others we should purge. That unwelcome question earned me a stern and condescending lecture from the local enforcer and a demand that I "apologize to the nice paleoconservative." (His words, not mine.)

    My failure to deliver resulted in banishment.

    So now I join the legion of former Redstate commenters. Thus, this homely little blog. I'm not fooling myself that this effort will change the policies or behaviors at Redstate. I'm not fooling myself that this blog will matter to anyone over there. I'm not even pretending that my interest in this will last more than a week or two.

    But I'm definitely outside the tent, and feeling the need, purge.