Saturday, February 25, 2006

Secret Service agents say Cheney was drunk when he shot lawyer

Feb 22, 2006, 07:35

Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.

Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition, the report notes, and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions.

According to those who have talked with the agents and others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up.

We talked with a number of administration officials who are privy to inside information on the Vice President's shooting "accident" and all admit Secret Service agents and others say they saw Cheney consume far more than the "one beer' he claimed he drank at lunch earlier that day.

"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it."

One agent at the scene has been placed on administrative leave and another requested reassignment this week. A memo reportedly written by one agent has been destroyed, sources said Wednesday afternoon.

Cheney has a long history of alcohol abuse, including two convictions of driving under the influence when he was younger. Doctors tell me that someone like Cheney, who is taking blood thinners because of his history of heart attacks, could get legally drunk now after consuming just one drink.

If Cheney was legally drunk at the time of the shooting, he could be guilty of a felony under Texas law and the shooting, ruled an accident by a compliant Kenedy County Sheriff, would be a prosecutable offense.

But we will never know for sure because the owners of the Armstrong Ranch, where the shooting occurred, barred the sheriff's department from the property on the day of the shooting and Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III agreed to wait until the next day to send deputies in to talk to those involved.

Sheriff's Captain Charles Kirk says he went to the Armstrong Ranch immediately after the shooting was reported on Saturday, February 11 but both he and a game warden were not allowed on the 50,000-acre property. He called Salinas who told him to forget about it and return to the station.

"I told him don't worry about it. I'll make a call," Salinas said. The sheriff claims he called another deputy who moonlights at the Armstrong ranch, said he was told it was "just an accident" and made the decision to wait until Sunday to investigate.

"We've known these people for years. They are honest and wouldn't call us, telling us a lie," Salinas said.

Like all elected officials in Kenedy County, Salinas owes his job to the backing and financial support of Katherine Armstrong, owner of the ranch and the county's largest employer.

"The Armstrongs rule Kenedy County like a fiefdom," says a former employee.

Secret Service officials also took possession of all tests on Whittington's blood at the hospitals where he was treated for his wounds. When asked if a blood alcohol test had been performed on Whittington, the doctors who treated him at Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial in Corpus Christi or the hospital in Kingsville refused to answer. One admits privately he was ordered by the Secret Service to "never discuss the case with the press."

It's a sure bet that is a private doctor who treated the victim of Cheney's reckless and drunken actions can't talk to the public then any evidence that shows the Vice President drunk as a skunk will never see the light of day.

(Updated at 7:21 p.m. EST to reflect new information)

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William F. Buckley: Iraq is Lost

It Didn't Work

February 24, 2006, 2:51 p.m.

"I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes — it is America." The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America."

One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that “The bombing has completely demolished” what was being attempted — to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are "Zionists."

It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats.

A problem for American policymakers — for President Bush, ultimately — is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed. One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom.

The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymkers to cope with insurgents bent on violence. This last did not happen.

And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically, standing by the inherent reasonableness of the postulates. After all, they govern our policies in Latin America, in Africa, and in much of Asia.

The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail — in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take?

It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements.

His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy. He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies. Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

(c) 2006 Universal Press Syndicate

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ann Coulter: So, Three Muslims Walk Into a Port...

Ann Coulter
February 24, 2006

The idea that the Democrats have any meaningful interest in America's national security is a joke, so I'm perfectly willing to believe there's more to this port story.

But Bush is going to need a better justification for turning over management of our ports to an Arab country than he's come up with so far – especially now that Jimmy Carter has said it's a good idea. Judging from his life's work to date, Carter's definition of a good idea is "an idea likely to hurt America and/or help its enemies."

Bush's defense of the port deal is to say that "those who are questioning it" need to "step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."

First of all, it's not "all of a sudden." The phrase you're searching for, Mr. President, is "ever since the murderous attacks of Sept. 11." The Bush administration's obstinate refusal to profile Middle Easterners has been the one massive gaping hole in national security since the 9/11 attacks – attacks that received indirect support from the United Arab Emirates.

There are at least 3,000 reasons why a company controlled by a Middle Eastern Muslim emirate should be held to a different standard than a British company. Many of these reasons are now buried under a gaping hole that isn't metaphorical in lower Manhattan.

Even four years after 9/11, I note that we don't hear Tony Blair condemning some cartoons in a Danish newspaper as "a cultural extremism," or saying their publication represents a "dreadful clash of civilizations."

That was UAE Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Mohammed Al Dhaheri's recent comment on the great Danish cartoon caper.

So maybe Bush could defend his port deal without insulting our intelligence by asking why anyone might imagine there's any conceivable difference between a British company and a United Arab Emirates company.

President Bush has painted himself into a corner on this issue, and he needs a face-saving compromise to get out of it. Here's my proposal: Let Harriet Miers run the ports.

Isn't it enough that we're already patronizing the savages over the cartoons? Do we have to let them operate our ports, too?

The Bush administration defended Muslims rioting over cartoons, saying, "We certainly understand why Muslims would find these images offensive." Hey, while they're at it, why don't they invite some Muslim leaders with well-known ties to terrorism to the White House for a reception? Oh wait, I forgot...They did that right after 9/11. Yes, now I see why we must turn over our ports to the United Arab Emirates.

The University of Illinois has suspended editors of the student newspaper, The Daily Illini, for republishing the cartoons – even though the kiss-ass editors ran a column accompanying the cartoons denouncing them as "bigoted and insensitive."

That was still not enough for Richard Herman, the chancellor of the university, who wrote a letter to the editor saying that he was "saddened" by the publication of the cartoons. You want sad? The University of Illinois' sports teams are known as the "Fighting Illini." Now they're going to have to change it to the "Surrendering Illini."

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly refuses to show the cartoons on "The O'Reilly Factor," saying he doesn't want to offend anyone's religion. Someone should tell him those endless interviews with prostitutes from the Bunny Ranch and porn stars aren't high on Christians' list of enjoyable viewing, either. (How about adding Prophet Muhammad cartoon T-shirts and fleece tops to his vast collection of "Factor gear"? Isn't Father's Day right around the corner? I'd buy those.)

Needless to say, the Treason Times won't show the cartoons that have incited mass rioting around the globe. At least the New York Times has a good excuse: It's too busy printing national security secrets that will get Americans killed. Its pages are already brimming with classified information about our techniques for spying on terrorists here in America – no room for newsworthy cartoons! The Pentagon Papers and a top-secret surveillance program are one thing; cartoons that irritate Muslims are quite another.

Two days after the Times editorial page justified its decision not to reprint the cartoons as "a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words," the Times ran a photo of the Virgin Mary covered in cutouts from pornographic magazines and cow dung – which I seem to have just described using a handful of common words! Gee, that was easy!

Taking to heart the lesson that violence works, I hereby announce to the world: I am offended by hotel windows that don't open, pilots chattering when the passengers are trying to sleep, and Garfield cartoons. Next time my sleep is disturbed by gibberish about our altitude over Kansas, the National Pilots Emirate embassy is going down. And mark my words: One minute after "Garfield II" goes into pre-production, some heads are gonna roll. Oh – and I'll take the San Diego port, please.

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Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Robert Spencer: Bush's Port Jihad

Robert Spencer
February 23, 2006

It’s shaping up to be a major political battle: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Majority Leader John Boehner have all lined up against President Bush’s plan to turn over operation of six major American ports to a company based in the United Arab Emirates.

The President is threatening to veto any attempt to block the plan. Referring to the fact that the company in question, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, has been British-owned up to its impending sale to Dubai Ports World, he said Tuesday: “I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, ‘We’ll treat you fairly.’” This is staggeringly unrealistic, and reflects the dangers of the Administration’s continuing unwillingness or inability to come to grips with the full dimensions of the jihad threat. That Bush feels compelled to say “to the people of the world, ‘We’ll treat you fairly’” betrays a peculiar insecurity where he should display a robust and unapologetic self-confidence. He is trying to demonstrate to a world awash in anti-Americanism that America is not as bad as all that, but in doing so he only lends credence to the anti-American charges (for if there weren’t substance to them, after all, why would he feel the need for the gesture?) and manifests the mistaken belief that “they hate us” because of something we have done, which we can undo with the proper display of good will. In this he again shows complete unawareness of the jihad ideology which remains constant while the pretexts and grievances that fuel it shift. No amount of good will can possibly efface the jihad imperative to subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law, which is the avowed program of jihadists everywhere.

The UAE may be the most reliable ally the United States has ever had (and of course it isn’t remotely that) and there would still be no way for it to ensure that Dubai Ports World hires no one with jihadist sentiments. The situation in the Islamic world makes it quite likely that Dubai Ports World will be sending at least a few mujahedin to work in these American ports, and that they will be able to work there unhindered. The 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as a base of operations and source of financial support; have Emirati authorities cleared the country of jihad sentiment since then? On what basis can this be assumed?

After all, no one even in Washington is yet even asking the right questions of self-proclaimed moderates about where they really stand on jihad and Sharia issues. Officials in Washington and Europe have shown no awareness of the fact that it isn’t enough to have no ties to terror groups; a Muslim who nonetheless believes in the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism and the subjugation of infidels is still susceptible to jihadist recruitment. Is it possible to determine whether such recruitment is likely or not in the case of any particular individual? No -- and that’s why turning over any ports to Dubai Ports World is ill-advised: the potential for jihadist infiltration is just too great. Why is a Middle Eastern company held to a standard different from that to which a British company is held? Obviously a British firm these days could employ a jihadist also, but the likelihood of this is smaller, as British Muslims still constitute a small minority of the population.

Some have argued that this deal has been blown way out of proportion, and that security for the ports will remain in American hands. Even if that is true, however, the arrangement with Dubai Ports World should be ended immediately, if only for its symbolic value. Rather than bend over backward to show the Muslim nations of the world that he trusts them, President Bush would do more for American national security by explaining why such trust would be misplaced at this time, and calling upon those nations to manifest their trustworthiness with forthright and unambiguous anti-jihad actions within their borders -- including an ending of all discrimination against non-Muslims and of the teaching of the idea that the Islamic social order must be imposed by force over Jews, Christians, and others. If the President were calling for the UAE to adopt such measures, he would be under no illusions about where that country really stands.

Frist, Hastert, and Boehner are right. Why would Bush want to be so obstinate on this? Doesn’t he realize that it does immense damage to his position as being tougher on Islamic terrorism than his opponents? On cue, Hillary Clinton has already spoken about introducing legislation to stop the deal. The President risks allowing the Democrats an opportunity to show that they are tougher on terrorism than he is – which, since it isn’t true, if a Democrat is actually elected in 2008, could lead to the destruction of the entire anti-terror resistance, as imperfect as it has been.

If this deal goes through, will the United States have the luxury of undoing it before it undoes us?

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Thomas Sowell: Postponing Reality

February 21, 2006
Thomas Sowell

Let's face it: Reality can be stressful and can sometimes get very rough. Everyone has an incentive to postpone it. Most of us, however, learn the hard way that postponing reality only makes it far worse than facing it early on.

The problem gets more complicated in politics, where one set of people has the power to postpone facing reality and a different set of people have to pay the price later on.

Our educational system is a classic example. Nothing is easier than to lower the standards today, avoiding all sorts of problems that arise with students and their parents when higher standards are imposed.

Today's "educators" can simply pass the students along to the next grade and eventually send them out into the world with nice-looking diplomas and little else to enable them to cope with the complexities and challenges of work and of life. These students then pay big time for the rest of their lives.

California is one of a number of states that has belatedly begun to recognize what a disaster this policy has been. In 1999 a law was passed saying that students would receive a diploma only if they could pass a standard test to show that they had some real knowledge, instead of just an acceptable attendance record.

These tests do not require genius. We're talking basic math and English. We're talking multiple choice questions where the passing grade is 55 percent -- and you can get 25 percent by just guessing.

Like other states with high school graduation exams, California has postponed forcing students to pass that exam as a condition for receiving the diploma. This year, the state has decided that it is finally going to enforce this law passed in 1999.

Maybe it will and maybe it won't. Attorney Arturo Gonzalez has filed a lawsuit to stop this graduation requirement from being enforced.

The requirement is not "fair," Mr. Gonzalez says. The schools where a high percentage of the students don't pass the test are predominantly low-income and minority schools.

This is not to say that most of the students in predominantly low-income and minority schools do not pass. It is just that the schools where fewer than 70 percent pass are predominantly low-income minority schools.

Are these tests "fair"? Of course not. Life itself is not "fair" in the sense of offering equal chances of succeeding in any kind of endeavor.

It is hard even to imagine how life could conceivably be "fair" in the sense of equal chances of doing specific things, when there are so many factors at work differently for each person.

Different families and different cultures produce different habits, different values, different behavior patterns. They don't even want the same things to the same degree, much less have a willingness to sacrifice to the same extent to get those things.

The only kind of fairness we can hope for is applying the same rules and the same standards to everyone.

It certainly wasn't fair, in Mr. Gonzalez's sense of the word, for the schools I attended as a child to require me to take the same tests as children from families with more than twice as much education and several times as much income.

What would have happened if the schools had been "fair" to me in that sense? I would have learned less, had a much easier time in school -- and would have gone out into the world not even knowing enough to realize how little I knew.

By now, I might have been on welfare or in prison. But my teachers would have felt good about themselves for giving a poor boy from the ghetto a break.

Admittedly, at the time I didn't always appreciate all the heavy stuff my tough teachers were laying on me. But, at the time, I also didn't know that the world was going to be a lot tougher than school if I didn't learn.

Fortunately, those teachers were not into "fairness" and there was no Mr. Gonzalez around to file lawsuits to protect me from having to meet the same standards as everybody else.

Reality had to be confronted early on, not postponed.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate

Monday, February 20, 2006

P. David Hornik: Terror Takes Office

P. David Hornik
February 20, 2006

The swearing-in of a Hamas legislature in Ramallah on Saturday can be seen as symbolizing Israel’s and the West’s failure to preempt the Islamist threat, instead letting it grow to emergency proportions through various kinds of temporizing and self-delusion. Britain, France, and Germany were assigned to use “soft power” and hold endless talks with Iran until a particularly lunatic and dangerous leader was elected while Iran’s nuclear program advanced to the point of no return. Israel, after drubbing Hamas militarily during 2004, accepted a ceasefire, handed Hamas a territorial base in Gaza, allowed it to run for office, and now faces a Nazi regime on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

A particularly amazing case of prevarication and passivity emerged last week when Israeli security officials warned of a “large-scale disaster,” and urged emergency preparations, in case Kassam rockets fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza hit sensitive facilities, including chemical storage tanks, in nearby Ashkelon. Seemingly, the best way to cope with a threat of thousands of people being burned or gassed to death through an artillery strike is not passive preparations, but military action against the threat. But since effective action entails reinvading Gaza and this is considered politically inexpedient for many reasons, it is considered preferable to gamble with the lives of thousands.

Meanwhile, only weeks after it was elected, Hamas’s legitimation by the world community continues. President Putin, having already invited Hamas leaders for talks while reportedly considering weapon sales to the organization, has taken the lead in signaling that an Islamist terror group—even one known to be closely allied with “his own” Chechen rebels—is different from all others if it is mainly anti-Jewish. Turkey, often cited as a successful case of Islamic secularization and democracy, has already wined and dined Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, whom Israel tried to assassinate in Amman in 1997. The message is the same: whereas Muslim anti-Turkish terror leader Abdullah Ojalan sits in a Turkish prison for life, Mashaal only kills Jews and is an honored guest.

Meanwhile Europe, while making proper noises about the “unacceptable” nature of a Hamas government, is continuing financial aid to the PA while it “waits and sees” what sort of regime takes shape—which means, in translation, finding ways to keep paying the jizya to Europe’s Islamic attackers/protectors. And while America, to its credit, has stopped direct aid to the PA and is encouraging other countries to do the same, it is also urging that highly fungible “humanitarian” aid be continued—suggesting that Palestinians must always be coddled even when they elect an overtly genocidal government, and that the PA, unlike the Taliban or Saddam regimes, always has to be nurtured and sustained, never invaded and dismantled by its mortally endangered neighbor Israel.

The constant posing of conditions to Hamas of recognizing Israel, disarming, and changing its charter, in which Israel’s caretaker Olmert government goes along with the Quartet, also signals that Hamas is a potentially rational, constructive force, steadily dilutes awareness of its real nature, and gives it a bonanza of opportunities to exploit Western useful idiocy. It was, after all, Yasser Arafat’s “recognition” of Israel in 1988, and continued skillful pandering to Israeli and Western dreams and delusions, that allowed him to attain land, weapons, aid, a Nobel Peace Prize, and a launching pad to wage a savage terror war against Israel. Hamas is already said to be considering cosmetic changes in its charter, and in PA president Mahmoud Abbas—an iconic “Palestinian moderate”—has an ideal fig leaf to make use of. What is already clear is that Hamas somehow has a different status than the Taliban or Al Qaeda as an organization always on the verge of “reforming” and reaping the rewards.

From President Carter’s support for the Khomeini regime to Israel’s creation and cultivation of the PA with President Clinton’s fervent encouragement, it’s the same story of the West tolerating, excusing, and even bolstering enemies in the hope of achieving an ideal world where one not only has freedom and comfort but never has to fight for them. Although even the relatively realistic Bush administration cannot quite treat Hamas as the irredeemable, unchangeable Nazi movement that it is, there are rumors and hopes that the U.S. has no such nuances about the Ahmadinejad regime and is preparing to take effective action. But even if America, or Israel, should act, fanatic Islam is now so well positioned and has so many power bases that it may exact terrible vengeance.

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P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Jerusalem. He can be reached at

Mark Steyn: Cheering tidbits lighten otherwise grim week

February 19, 2006

In an otherwise grim week -- at least on unimportant peripheral matters like Iranian nukes -- three things cheered me up. The first was the decision of Iran's bakers to rename Danish pastries "Roses of the Prophet Muhammed pastries.'' Has a ring to it, don't you think? If they're looking for a slogan, how about "Iranian pastry: There's nothing flakier. Except our president."

The second cheery sight was the destruction of a McDonald's in Lahore by the usual excitable young lads from the religion of pieces. Apparently the lively Pakistanis had burned every single Danish target in the city -- one early Victor Borge LP left behind by the last British governor -- and had been obliged to diversify. So they dragged Ronald McDonald out of the joint, torched him in the street and danced around his flaming remains shouting "Death to America! Death to Britain! Death to Tony Blair!"

I'm not sure I even get that. Ronald and Tony seem kind of similar from a distance but even on the all-infidels-look-alike-to-me-especially-when-they're-alight thesis you'd think they weren't that easily confused.

The third jolly event of the week was those other excitable fellows -- the Big Media White House reporters -- jumping up and down shouting "Death to Dick Cheney!" NBC's David Gregory, the George Clooney of the press corps, was yelling truth to power about why the Elmer-Fudd-in-gun-rampage story was released to "a local Corpus Christi newspaper, not the White House press corps at large.'' I know how he feels. I remember, like, four or five years ago -- early September, maybe second week -- there was this building collapse in New York and I had to learn about it from the TV because this notoriously secretive paranoid administration couldn't even e-mail me a timely press release. For an NBC guy discovering that some hicksville nowhere-burg one-stop-light feed-price sheet got tipped off before he did is like a dowager duchess turning up at the royal banquet to discover the scullery maid's been seated next to the queen.

So anyway David Gregory's going bananas and yelling "I will yell!" and "Don't be a jerk!" at the White House press secretary, and there's more smoke coming out of his ears than from Ronald McDonald in Lahore, and I'm thinking, you know, maybe Karl's latest range of Rovebots that he planted in American media corporations are just a wee bit too parodically self-absorbed to be plausible. And then this lady pipes up and asks, "Would this be much more serious if the man had died?"

Well, maybe. And maybe it would be even ever so much more serious still if, after peppering him with birdshot, Cheney had dragged him into a safe house in the Sunni Triangle and decapitated him with a rusty scimitar while shouting "Allahu Ahkbar!" and then sold the video to al-Jazeera.

Fortunately, the Washington Post had that wise old bird David Ignatius to put it in the proper historical context: "This incident," he mused, "reminds me a bit of Sen. Edward Kennedy's delay in informing Massachusetts authorities about his role in the fatal automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969."

Hmm. Let's see. On the one hand, the guy leaves the gal at the bottom of the river struggling for breath pressed up against the window in some small air pocket while he pulls himself out of the briny, staggers home, sleeps it off and saunters in to inform the cops the following day that, oh yeah, there was some broad down there. And, on the other hand, the guy calls 911, has the other fellow taken to the hospital, lets the sheriff know promptly but neglects to fax David Gregory's make-up girl!

One can only hope others agree with Ignatius' insightful analogy, and that the reprehensible Cheney will be hounded from public life the way Kennedy was all those years ago. One would hate to think folks would just let it slide and three decades from now this Cheney guy will be sitting on some committee picking Supreme Court justices and whatnot.

Meanwhile, from Malaysia to Jordan to Scandinavia, it was a bad week for journalists increasingly constrained -- not to mention fired and otherwise humiliated -- in their ability to cover the big story of our time. If I had to pick a single moment to contrast with the hilariously parochial narcissist buffoons of the Washington press, it would be another press conference in another government building, this time in Oslo, called by Norway's minister of labor.

Surrounded by cabinet ministers and a phalanx of imams, Velbjorn Selbekk, the editor of an obscure Christian publication called Magazinet, issued an abject public apology for reprinting the Danish Muhammed cartoons. He had initially stood firm in the face of Muslim death threats and the usual lack of support from Europe's political class, but in the end Mr. Selbekk was prevailed upon to recant and the head of Norway's Islamic Council, Mohammed Hamdan, graciously accepted the apology and assured the prostrate editor that he was now under his personal protection. As the American author Bruce Bawer commented, "It was a picture right out of a sharia courtroom."

In Canada, by contrast, the Western Standard (for which I also write) stood firm in its decision to publish the cartoons, and as a result is suffering legal harassment from Muslim lobby groups and has been banned from both Air Canada and two of the country's leading bookstore chains, Indigo-Chapters and McNally Robinson. Paul McNally of the latter defended his action this way: "We feel there is nothing to gain on the side of freedom of expression and much to lose on the side of hurting feelings." Not exactly Voltaire, is it? "I disagree strongly with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it as long as it doesn't hurt anybody's feelings." Maybe it could be Canada's new national motto.

It's easy to be tough about nothing. The press corps that noisily champions "the public's right to know" about a minor hunting accident simultaneously assures the public that they've no need to see these Danish cartoons that have caused riots, arson and death around the world. On CNN, out of "sensitivity" to Islam, they show the cartoons but with the Prophet's face pixilated so that he looks as if Cheney's ventilated him with birdshot and it turned puffy and gangrenous. C'mon, guys, these are interesting times. Anyone can unload the umpteenth round of blanks into the bulletproof Chimpy Hallibushitler, but why not take a shot at something that matters?
Or perhaps it would just be easier to change the term ''free press'' to the ''Roses of the Prophet Muhammed press.''

Copyright © Mark Steyn, 2006