The Spectacle Blog
You wouldn't know from domestic coverage, but Angela Merkel accession as German chancellor is a big victory for U.S. foreign policy. In its editorial today, the New York Times suggests that the "grand coalition" arrangement Merkel had to agree to in order to become chancellor cost her "half the seat in her government, including foreign affairs..."-- the implication being that she'll have weak impact on foreign policy and that Germany will continue as before in its anti-U.S. drift.
Not so, if you read John Vinocur in the International Herald-Tribune. Vinocur, an excellent former Times foreign correspondent and then editor of the Times-owned IHT for which he continues to cover Europe as a senior correspondent, has never succumbed to the temptations of European neutralism and easy anti-Americanism. Which might explain why his work is so rarely if ever seen in the New York Times itself these days.
Here, straight from the top, in a story emphatically headlined, "A Coalition It May Be, but Merkel Has Won," is Vinocur's take:
The Washington Post, evidently irritated that Pat Leahy calledÂ its account of his meeting with Harriet Miers "not really all that accurate" on This Week, runs a little follow-up story today in an attempt to vindicate its reporting that Miers said "Warren," before saying "Warren Burger," in answer to Leahy's question about her favorite justices. Leahy, according to the Post, had told the story loudly to several aides who heard "the senator describe Miers as stumbling over Burger's name, at first calling him 'Warren'."
Neither Leahy nor the White House disputed the Post's account of theÂ story last Friday. But for some reason Leahy felt the need to changeÂ his story on Sunday morning. The White House, no doubt thrilled that the newÂ version of the story was less damaging toÂ Miers,Â quickly said it agreed with Leahy's new account of the conversation.
The link between the murder of former Lebanese PM Rafiq al-Hariri and Bashar Assad has now been identified, at least by the best of circumstantial evidence. Former Syrian Interior Minister and intelligence boss Ghazi Kanaan reportedly has suicided. Kanaan had been questioned by UN investigators looking into the Hariri assassination and, after making a rather despondent phone call to a radio station, killed himself at 11 am. The tongue-in-cheek Al-Jazeera report says that, "It was not clear whether he shot himself." Apparently, they haven't yet determined how many times he did so, or whether he was shot trying to escape.
Rhode Island's favorite criminal, Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci, Jr., came to the end of the road in his appeals yesterday when the Supreme Court denied him certiorari. Serving time at Fort Dix, N.J., until July 28, 2007, Cianci was convicted in 2002 on federal corruption, bribery, and racketeering charges.
Here's your Wednesday morning wrap on the Miers nomination:
-Judiciary Committee staffers (lawyers) are hostile to the nomination. That's a large problem for the White House, since the lawyers behind the scenes are the real work horses on that committee.
"You could say there is pretty much uniform disappointment with the nomination at the staff level," another Republican on the committee staff said. "It is clear there is quite a bit of skepticism, and even some flashes of hostility."
Another Republican aide close to the committee said, "I don't know a staffer who approves of this nomination, anywhere. Most of it is outright hostility throughout the Judiciary Committee staff."
Is this permitted under U.S. labor laws? The Angels played long games in New York City on Sunday night, Anaheim on Monday night, and Chicago last night. You figure the jet-plane part of their cab rides to the ballpark alone must have taken up some 8 hours in the air over 4,000 airline miles. Maybe the key to their success in such harsh conditions lies in their ethereal name. Are these Angels enjoying an unfair advantage over teams with no evident spiritual claims? The NCAA would investigate. Will Major League Baseball? Or will it be up to the ACLU?
It's that time of week again, and I know you're dying to get a taste of Maureen Dowd's latest column, which few mortals can afford to access on the New York Times' new pay-as-you-play "select" site. What next, a 1-900 number at which the caller gets to hear Maureen read her column in that cool, sultry way of hers?
Her Wednesday offering is about -- shock, surprise -- Harriet ("Harry") and Bush. This time she mocks the contents of a birthday card Miers wrote to Bush in eight years ago. So she makes up lots of other missives Harry might have penned since. Here are a few of them. If you think Dowd could use a little human kindness, don't forget to laugh:
August 2001 "Thank you so much for letting me bundle up and drag away the brush that you cut down today. And if I might add, Sir, I've never seen a man wield the nippers so judiciously. It was awesome! You are the best brush cutter ever!!"...
June 2005 "Make sure you take a good, long vacation this summer! Last year, you only took two weeks. You are pushing yourself way too hard, Sir!!"