Local fall foliage pix

I promised last week to post some fall foliage pictures of the Charlotte, NC area … the ones I took this past weekend did not turn out so good, so I’m going to post a few that I took last year that I think are fairly decent. Here’s a look at last year’s fall foliage. The pix are a bit darker than I wanted them to be, but it was a rainy and overcast the day I took them:

It’s cooling down here big time this week, so I’ve no doubt that the fall foliage is going to be easier to find in the coming weeks and I hope to get some current shots of the foliage in that time frame.

Press fawns over Fitzgerald, but Starr was part of the VRWC

The Washington Post this morning has a detailed and complimentary piece posted about Plamegate ‘leak’ prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. A snippet:

He registered to vote in New York as an independent. When he discovered that Independent was a political party, he re-registered with no affiliation. Illinois citizens know him for pursuing Republicans and Democrats with equal fervor. Former Gov. George Ryan (R) is on trial on corruption charges, and a growing number of aides to Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) face influence-peddling charges.

Fitzgerald sounds like an above-the-board guy – I’ve seen good things written about him at conservative sites like National Review. My beef isn’t with Fitzgerald, but with the MSM, who are making sure that – before the indictments (if any) are handed down in the Plamegate case – we know what a fair and honest guy Fitzgerald is so once (if) any indictments are handed down, we’ll know that they were done by a guy who’s credentials are impeccable. They are doing similar things with regard to Ronnie Earle, especially considering the articles that were written about Earle that included the fact that he had prosecuted more Dems than Republicans – as if that’s supposed to mean he doesn’t have a partisan ax to grind with Tom DeLay.

But remember how the press portrayed Ken Starr during his investigations into Clinton’s, uh, misdeeds? The prevailing sentiment in the press was that Starr was just yet another member of the VRWC out to get Clinton – thereby his credibility could be questioned in the event that he ever got the goods on Clinton (which he eventually did). Yet years earlier, when he was handpicked by Democrats to investigate disgraced Republican Senator Bob Packwood’s sexual misconduct, Ken Starr was the cat’s meow (Jonah Goldberg noted this reversal in opinion on Ken Starr in a March 2002 piece at NRO).

See a pattern here? I do. Same stuff, different day – courtesy of our untrustworthy, liberally biased MSM.

More: John Hawkins at Right Wing News makes some great points on le affair de Plame worth repeating:

On the other hand, there has been absolutely no evidence up to this point, not one single shred, that Patrick Fitzgerald has been unfair or politically motivated. Nor would bringing perjury or obstruction of justice charges be evidence of bias either. Anyone who works in the White House should know better than to lie under oath or get involved in a cover-up, and if they did something that foolish, then they should expect to be charged with a crime.

That’s not to say that Patrick Fitzgerald is beyond criticism, but conservatives should be very careful not to go down the same contemptible road that the Clinton administration did with Ken Starr. While in all fairness, Kay Bailey Hutchinson cannot be accused of the same sort of contemptible partisan sliming that the Clintons and their allies aimed at Starr, it seems to me that her comments are a step in that direction. That is not the sort of behavior Republicans should engage in…


(Cross-posted at Blogs For Bush)

Indictments coming this week in Plamegate scandal?

Reuters is reporting that it’s very possible we’ll see indictments laid out this week:

Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers involved in case said on Sunday.

Top administration officials are expected to learn from Fitzgerald as early as Monday whether they will face charges as the prosecutor winds up his nearly two-year investigation, the lawyers said.

Could be wishful thinking on their part, but we’ll know for sure as the week goes on.

As always, check Tom Maguire’s blog on the latest regarding Plamegate. Scroll for his many posts on the subject.

The buzz seems to be more and more that if there are indictments, it won’t be over an alleged intentional outing of a covert agent but instead charges of obstruction, perjury, and/or conspiracy to mishandle classified information. If these types of charges are filed, there are worries within the press about what this could mean in terms of obtaining information in the future from ‘anonymous sources’, the NYTimes reports:

WASHINGTON — There are still lots of real secrets in Washington. But the most secretive White House in modern history has learned the hard way – even while its spokesman reflexively utter the caution, “We don’t talk about intelligence,” or, “Sorry, that’s classified” – that it must reveal a pretty steady stream of secrets all the time.

That is one reason journalists and some government officials are so wary of what might happen next in the C.I.A. leak case, which could conclude with indictments within a week. What began as a narrow case on a specific leak, many fear, has morphed into a broader threat to the way business is done here, a system that often benefits both sides.

The investigation into the disclosure of the identity of a then covert C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson, might end with a broadly defined charge that boils down to divulging secret information, a category that covers not only real secrets, but the daily give and take between officials and journalists.

Reporters worry about a chilling effect, one that would make it even harder to explain what the government is doing. Some government officials say they fear the impact because they know that it is often difficult these days to try to justify a national security decision, or warn of an impending threat, or even complain about some kinds of budget cuts without slipping into classified territory.

Michael Barone has similar thoughts:

True, Rove and Libby did seek to discredit Joseph Wilson — as they should well have done. As the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a bipartisan report in July 2004, just about everything Wilson said publicly about his trip to Niger was untrue. He said that he had discredited reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium in Niger. But the CIA people to whom he reported concluded that, if anything, he substantiated such reports. He said that he pointed out that certain other intelligence reports were forged. But the forgeries did not appear until eight months after his trip. He said his wife had nothing to do with his trip to Niger. But it was she who recommended him for the trip. And on and on.

In the absence of a violation of the underlying espionage acts, any indictment here arising from the course of the investigation would be, in my view, unjust and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. It would also be, as the liberal commentator Jacob Weisberg has pointed out, a long step toward something like the British Official Secrets Act — a precedent that would staunch the flow of information from the government to the press and the people.

The press has been shrieking for Rove’s and Libby’s scalp. If they’re indicted, the administration will be hurt in the short run, but in the long run it will be the press and the people who will suffer.

As a side note, Dick Cheney complained about leaks coming out of Washington back in 2002 – a complaint that strangely did not garner much attention:

According to the congressional panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency intercepted two messages on Sept. 10 that may have made reference to the next day’s attacks.

Vice President Dick Cheney complained to lawmakers Thursday about what the administration is calling inappropriate leak of the intercepts to the press. At President Bush’s direction, Cheney called Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “to express the president’s concerns about this inappropriate disclosure” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

“The information that is being provided to these committees is extraordinarily sensitive” Fleischer said. “The selective, inappropriate leaking of snippets of information risks undermining national security, and it risks undermining the promises made to protect this sensitive information.”

Where was the mass outrage over leaks regarding sensitive information at that time? The President was concerned, and the VP was as well, but I don’t recall a heavy press push to find out the who, what, when, where, and why on those leaks, which – as the VP stated – risked undermining our national security. Leaks only seem to be bad to the press when they damage the credibility of press heroes like Joe Wilson.

Related: Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard has written an excellent piece on the chain of events that led to the investigation to begin with. (Hat tip: Jeff Goldstein)

Wilma a category 3

… and is headed straight for Naples, FL. My best friend, who lives there, and her hubby decided this weekend to tough it out – the mandatory evacuations that were issued for Naples Friday were for the low-lying areas, and she’s not in that area. I’ll be worried sick for the next several hours, as projected landfall is between 8 and 9 a.m.

Here’s a satellite loop of Wilma.

Monday AM update: Michelle Malkin has a Wilma link roundup.