Sunday is a day to ignore the news. The new issue of Just Above Sunset was finally posted just after midnight, with its items from Hollywood, London, Paris, and Tel-Aviv (and the French village of Fuissé) - and what could happen on Sunday? The thirteen-year-old microwave oven had died late Saturday in its effort to warm up something or other, so it was off to the local Target - now part of a mega-complex at La Brea and Santa Monica Boulevard that in an all-American swallow-your-history move swallowed whole the famed Formosa Café. Get a new microwave oven. No problem. Is this the only part of the country where you have to pay to park at the local shopping mall?
Okay. The new microwave is fine, gleaming, powerful and efficient, and Just Above Sunset was republished late in the day to correct the errors on the home page, the plants were watered, and then, when it was time to scan the news in the evening, there was some very odd stuff there.
What with, last week, the head of the office of federal procurement resigning just before he was arrested, and the majority leader of the house, Tom DeLay, resigning after he was indicted for some sort of criminal conspiracy, and the majority leader of the senate, Bill Frist, being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for pump-and-dump insider trading, well, the administration, the House of Bush, having had a bad week, could always point Iraq - no matter how badly things were going on the ground the mid-October vote was going to give them a new constitution. Yeah, the Sunni folks were making a fuss, being effectively excluded - and they used to run the place - but heck, the Shiite and Kurd folks would at least have their new government, and we could worry about the Sunnis later. Progress. Yep, something of which to be proud.
Except for this:
Iraq's President Calls for PM to Step Down
Yahya Barzanji - Associated Press - Sunday, October 2, 2005, 8:38 PM ET
What? The President calls for the Prime Minister to take a hike? Seems so:
Okay, they changed the rules to make sure the constitution passes in this referendum - further neutering the Sunnis - but now the Kurds are saying this is all crap? Well, if you read the item you'll see the prime minister can be removed only by a vote of "no-confidence, requiring a simple majority vote in parliament - but the Shiites hold some 150 of the 275 seats. It's not going to happen.
Iraq's Kurdish president called on the country's Shiite prime minister to step down, the spokesman for the president's party said Sunday, escalating a political split between the two factions that make up the government.
Sunni Arab leaders, meanwhile, were angered after the Shiite-dominated parliament passed a new ruling on the key Oct. 15 constitutional referendum making it more difficult for Sunnis to defeat the draft constitution that they oppose.
The political wrangling deepened the splits between Iraq's three main communities amid a constitutional process that was aimed at bringing them together to build a democratic nation. Kurds complained that Shiites were monopolizing the government, while Sunnis - who have made up the backbone of the violent insurgency - accused Shiites of stacking the deck against them in the political process.
The Kurdish-Shiite split hits the core of the coalition that has made up the transitional government. President Jalal Talabani has made veiled threats to pull the Kurds out of the coalition if their demands are not met, a step that could bring the government's collapse. ...
The AP item has much more detail - everyone is angry - but what it comes down to is the idea that they'll soon have this fine, new constitution and have some sort of working government shortly after that and then we can reduce our presence there as we well have accomplished out mission (seventh version) - isn't actually a workable idea. It seems now, more than ever, like a "wouldn't it be nice" flight of fancy. We were told conventional thinking, and history, and what the French and all the others were saying, may be "reality" - but we could boldly change that. Oh well.
What about the Sunday talk shows? Never watch. Rather read the four-pound Sunday paper as best I can, sipping black coffee, with the cat periodically plopping herself down on whatever page I'm reading. Sunday morning in the Los Angeles Times? Did you know Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Steven Holl, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Santiago Calatrava, Rafael Moneo, Glenn Murcutt, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster are among the "acclaimed architects" who have been commissioned to build new wineries or visitors' centers in California, Canada and Australia, as well as in the traditional wine-growing centers of Italy, Austria and Spain? That's here with cool pictures. Many pages of Just Above Sunset are devoted to architecture photos. Good stuff.
So I didn't watch ABC's "This Week" where the host, former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, at end the roundtable discussion brought up Judy Miller getting out of jail and the CIA Plame scandal and causally dropped this bomb:
What? A criminal conspiracy in the White House? Haven't had one of those since Nixon and Watergate. As you recall Bush did spend an hour answering question from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. All this to get back at a guy who showed them up by outing his wife at the CIA, thus discouraging anyone for saying reality didn't match what was being said? These guys go after your family, even if it means destroying a CIA operation and breaking the law. Heck, it's a pretty good warning to anyone who has these whistleblower yearnings.
Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it's a manageable one for the White House especially if we don't know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.
This new "scoop" could change things. To whom was Stephanopoulos speaking, and was he being fed lies or wishful thinking? And why is he saying this sort of thing on national television?
And that leads to this in the Washington Post:
The public defense of both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the CIA leak scandal have focused on the specific claim they didn't know Valerie Plame's name. Even if that's true, it doesn't mean anyone is off the hook.
If Patrick Fitzgerald is unable to prove a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, Rove, Libby and others could still be charged with perjury if they lied to investigators.
Odd. You can sense the walls closing in, and the implication is that Bush and Cheney - much like Nixon setting up hush-money payoffs and ordering a few goons to break into a psychiatrist's office to dig up on the fellow who shopped the Pentagon Papers to the press - these two were approving ways to get Joe Wilson for what he similarly did, by ruining his wife's career. One suspects, however, there on no tapes this time around.
But a new theory about Fitzgerald's aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.
And what is the New York Times doing saying that Vice President Cheney may be directly involved in planning how to get back at Wilson?
Too many leaks here. Someone is setting up the mainstream media to make them look foolish when Fitzgerald reveals what he found - it all turns out to have been planned by that that Lynndie England lass when she wasn't abusing and humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
A lawyer who knows Mr. Libby's account said the administration efforts to limit the damage from Mr. Wilson's criticism extended as high as Mr. Cheney. This lawyer and others who spoke about the case asked that they not be identified because of grand jury secrecy rules.
On July 12, 2003, four days after his initial conversation with Ms. Miller, Mr. Libby consulted with Mr. Cheney about how to handle inquiries from journalists about the vice president's role in sending Mr. Wilson to Africa in early 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq was trying acquire nuclear material there for its weapons program, the person said.
No more. Just note this in the Sunday Mirror (UK) - 3 October 2005 -
Maggie and Tom? A very odd couple, that. What a world.
A document linking Margaret Thatcher to a US corruption probe is so explosive civil servants have been asked to ensure it remains "sealed".
The 79-year-old former Premier is said to have met Congressman Tom DeLay in Britain while he was on a suspected favours-for-freebies scam.
In return for his free holiday, DeLay - who resigned as Republican leader of Congress last week after being accused of laundering political funds - allegedly backed legislation favourable to lobby groups.
Disclosing that US authorities were seeking aid from UK counterparts, a secret Home Office briefing says: "One visit to the UK involved a meeting with Mrs Margaret Thatcher.
"Evidence is sought from her about that meeting and her involvement in the alleged deception and violation of US criminal laws."
Police will "sensitively" investigate the meeting, which took place in May 2000.
But you have to love this:
This is very odd. As Holmes would say, "The game is afoot." It seems members of the Scottish Parliament will be questioned concerning any contacts they may have had with Abramoff, or DeLay, or any other US Republicans. Scottish police will collect hotel record, bills, invoices, and statements.
In the dossier headed "Secret... wider circulation strictly forbidden", civil servants then warn ministers: "There would be considerable press interest in this case if it were to become public knowledge.
"We have been asked by the US to keep this request 'sealed', which we take to mean as confidential as possible. This has been relayed to the Crown Office and Metropolitan Police.
... The document, leaked to the Mirror, informs ministers there has been an official request for "mutual legal assistance" from the US Department of Justice in Washington.
It said the request was part of a deception investigation "involving high-profile American and UK-based individuals, including a leading Congressman and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher". At the centre of the probe is high-profile lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is already under investigation in the US.
This is getting juicy. It may all come to nothing - but many said that back in the early seventies when the news story of that minor break-in at the Watergate complex hit the wires.
One never knows.