Franklin B. Thacker Jr. lives in a trailer a few miles outside Appalachia, a worn-out mountain town in the southwest corner of Virginia. Thacker, who is 40, isn’t much for going out. He broke his neck ten years ago in a mining accident, and he spends his days living "bed to the couch." But, one day in January 2005, Thacker got himself a bulletproof vest. Not just any bulletproof vest, but a combat-model flak jacket—"eight times thicker" than the standard-issue police vest.
A few weeks ago, Andrew Delbanco wrote eloquently in The New Republic about the strange silence of his university in this time of war ("War College," December 11, 2006). Most people don’t think of Columbia University as an island of stillness and detachment. In Morningside Heights, as in Israel, any four people usually have eight opinions and express them with articulate fury. Yet Columbia holds its peace about Iraq—and, according to Delbanco, shows few traces of its active participation in America’s other wars. Princeton University, where I work, does feel like an island, "rising," as F.
Bill Kristol, who has lately been intent on proving you can make a lucrative career out of being right less often than a broken clock, valiantly defended Lewis Libby on Fox News Sunday yesterday. According to Kristol, Patrick Fitzgerald decided to go after "Scooter" instead of other members of the administration (like Ari Fleischer) because of the former aide's hawkish stance on Iraq. During the discussion Kristol made this remarkably inane point: Ari Fleischer is the president's personal press secretary. He's at the same level in the White House as Scooter Libby.
Over at Salon, Mark Benjamin lays out a problem some conservatives have with the surge. Benjamin: The Baghdad surge plan, announced by the president on Jan. 10, calls for the new U.S. soldiers to be embedded with Iraqi forces, who will take the lead. But while the U.S. troops would report to American officers, their Iraqi counterparts, in an apparent sop to national sovereignty, would report to Iraqi officers.
It hasn't taken long for the old Hillary Clinton dynamic to kick into place: Clinton goes ever so slightly off script, news media misinterprets, conservatives go wild.
Not such a good day for Scooter Libby. From the Times: The former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer today contradicted the account of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, that Mr. Libby first learned of a C.I.A. agent's identity on July 10, 2003.Mr. Fleischer, testifying in Mr. Libby's trial under a grant of immunity, said Mr. Libby told him over lunch on July 7, 2003, that the wife of a critic of President Bush's Iraq policy worked for the Central Intelligence Agency."This is hush-hush," Mr. Fleischer recalled Mr. Libby as saying in effect.
Invaluable reader EC notes that the Bush White House's new pastry chef previously authored the book Desserts for Dummies. He'll now be serving plenty of those! [Ba-da-boom] --Michael Crowley
Politico: Conservatives don't like their 2008 White House choices. And am I the only one who missed RedState's entertaining "They All Suck" tirade? Also: NR's Lowry rips Romney! --Michael Crowley
by David Bromwich Alberto Gonzales in testimony several days ago before the Senate Judiciary Committee denied that the Constitution gave American citizens the right to habeas corpus. The story was overlooked by most of the mainstream news outlets, perhaps on the theory that no exorbitant statement by Gonzales is news any longer. But this was an astonisher. It left Arlen Specter startled enough to warn the justice department that it seemed to be crossing one more indelible line.