SHE WAS UNDERCOVER

It’s getting clearer. Valerie Plame was undercover and her outing was apparently deliberate and coordinated. If this pans out, it really is an outrageous piece of political malice. I may have misjudged this one at first, because I couldn’t quite see the motive behind it. I’m still not totally clear, and it seems an extremely dumb and self-defeating tactic to me. But whatever the motive, if this is the nub of the story, the leakers need to be found, fired and prosecuted. I’ve written that before. But, listening to the Newshour testimony, my outrage level just went up a notch.

McCLINTOCK’S AIDE: A disturbing story in the Los Angeles Times about one John Stoos, former chief legislative aide and now deputy campaign chairman of Tim McClintock’s campaign for California governor. Stoos is a Christian Reconstructionist, who believes that the Constitution should be subordinate to what he calls Biblical law. He writes regularly for the Chalcedon Report, a far-right “Christian” publication. Stoos, like many such extremists, doesn’t much care for non-Christian Jews or gays. McClintock hasn’t fired him. Where does the Republican party find these kooks? And why hasn’t there been a bigger stnk about this? Or does everyone know that California’s GOP has become infiltrated with theocratic nut-jobs? One more reason to vote for Arnold. You cannot trust the Republican social right.

THE JIHAD FUND

Yes, we’re still at war. And Libya is also part of it.

DE-MYSTIFYING STEROIDS: Here’s an interesting take on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s possible ascension to the governor’s office in California: he’ll be the first major political figure who has won an election, despite having said he long used a Schedule 3 controlled substance, i.e. steroids. AS’s apparent good health and long years of a great-looking physique certainly suggest that the puritanical attempt to ban these substances is another example of the government over-stepping its limits. The evidence that responsible steroid use is bad for your health is, in fact, pretty flimsy. In some cases, testosterone is a godsend. My own doctor-monitored testosterone-use has shown absolutely no damage to any of my bodily functions, and helped reverse HIV-related fat-redistribution, wasting and exhaustion. But I’m not convinced that much higher doses of T do much harm either. To get to his previous size, Arnold must have done a lot, as he has conceded. And he seems fine (Gilson debunks some of the rumors about his health) and the public doesn’t care. Another example of our anti-drug laws being more about hysteria than science, let alone the freedom of any adult to do what he wants with his own body. The public is right about this one. The laws should adjust.

BLAIR’S WAR

For all the retroactive nay-saying, Tony Blair turns the tables on his critics with this part of his speech yesterday to the Labour Party Conference:

Imagine you are PM. And you receive this intelligence. And not just about Iraq. But about the whole murky trade in WMD. And one thing we know. Not from intelligence. But from historical fact. That Saddam’s regime has not just developed but used such weapons gassing thousands of his own people. And has lied about it consistently, concealing it for years even under the noses of the UN Inspectors. And I see the terrorism and the trade in WMD growing. And I look at Saddam’s country and I see its people in torment ground underfoot by his and his sons’ brutality and wickedness. So what do I do? Say “I’ve got the intelligence but I’ve a hunch its wrong?” Leave Saddam in place but now with the world’s democracies humiliated and him emboldened? You see, I believe the security threat of the 21st century is not countries waging conventional war. I believe that in today’s interdependent world the threat is chaos. It is fanaticism defeating reason. Suppose the terrorists repeated September 11th or worse. Suppose they got hold of a chemical or biological or nuclear dirty bomb; and if they could, they would. What then?

Bush should, in my view, say something similar at some point. I know that any concession with regard to fallible pre-war intelligence can lead to the anti-war hysterics piling on and the Democratic opportunists playing clairvoyants. But the point of concession is to say that he took the right decision, even if the intelligence turned out to be flawed, and may have to make a similar decision again. The threat has not gone away. It’s a complicated war and not susceptible to swift or easy fixes. But it’s still a war we have to fight. Or perish.

THAT LAURA-CHIRAC CAPTION: From a younger reader: “Depend Undergarments Give You the Confidence to Be You – Even in the Most Uncomfortable Situations.” From an eagle: “Jacques Chirac, in a rare and surprising move, kisses a woman’s hand instead of a tyrant’s ass.” My favorite: “I wish we’d lost Florida.”

PROGRESS IN IRAQ?

A graph to make Robert Fisk depressed. But what I’d really like to see is a graph that can tell us how many attacks are occurring, whether they result in casualties or not. I’ve heard contradictory reports on those numbers; and they’d be just as informative.

TACKLING THE DEEPER CLOSET: An inspiring first-person account of homophobia in sports – locker-rooms, bars, stadiums, and newsrooms.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “As an American I understand that Islam is not the enemy. But what about as a gay man? Have we forgotten that there is no sect of Islam worth considering that even tolerates homosexuality, and in countries where Islam predominates, punishment can be anything from imprisonment to torture to disfigurement to death. Islam may not be the enemy of my country, but I’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger enemy of gay people. Islam is perpetrating a massive, egregious assault on human rights — and what does the Human Rights Campaign have to say?” – David Lee, co-creator of TV’s Frasier, accepting an award at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Leadership Awards Sept. 28 in Los Angeles, reported by Rex Wockner.

WACKERS.COM

Here’s the Von Dutch website – the one marketing white trash aesthetic. Somehow I ond’ think those cuts and bruises on the model’s face came about in a bar-brawl. But I like the clothes anyhoo. So sue me.

THAT CHIRAC-LAURA PHOTO: I’m still a little mesmerized by it. Her expression is priceless. One reader suggests a good caption: “I thought it was the princess who was supposed to kiss the frog.” Any other suggestions?

SHAFER’S POINT

Jack pixels the calmest and most plausible analysis of the Wilson/Plame affair. Interesting point:

Can we really imagine that Wilson’s wife used her name, Valerie Plame, to go undercover for the CIA? Children and dogs have Web pages that identify their interests and accomplishments. You’d imagine that an “energy analyst at a private firm” would have left some sort of HTML trail for Google to pick up. Unless reporters and investigators ferret out any new information, the Justice Department is not likely to find that any lasting harm was done to national security. Instead of prosecuting, Tenet might have his druthers this time and fire whoever leaked the information from the CIA and recommend the president do the same at the White House.

IN CASE I’M MISUNDERSTOOD

I’m not downplaying the gravity of this Wilson/Plame affair. I’ve already said that if someone leaked the name of an undercover agent, he/she should be fired and prosecuted. If true, it’s appalling. I’m just mystified by many details, I’m suspicious of multiple agendas swirling around, and think we know very little that’s categorical at this stage. This isn’t like the Trent Lott affair, when all the facts were available from day one. It’s murkier and, I’ll bet, will get murkier still. So let’s wait and see what comes out. Okay?