While we’ve all been talking about Chandra, the Brits have had their own sex scandal. Former Tory minister Neil Hamilton and his wife, Christine, have been twisting in the tabloid wind for weeks now. They were accused by an anonymous woman, backed by a media publicist, Max Clifford, of sexually assaulting the woman while another 60 year-old man raped her. The case has been in the British papers for weeks, with the Hamiltons having every aspect of their lives pored over and suspicion cast over them. They had an alibi – they were at a dinner party when the alleged assault took place – but that didn’t stop the speculation. It also didn’t prevent the Hamiltons from what must have been a simply mortifying ordeal. The slow news summer helped stoke the story. Finally, they’ve been completely cleared of all suspicion by the police. The story was an unspeakable smear and they are now suing for libel. But the damage has been done. The publicist who pioneered the story had the gall to concede that the Hamiltons were innocent but then told British television: “What goes through my mind is why did the police spend so many months looking into this, and arrest them, if there was nothing there?” The smears continue – and no-one in today’s media climate can resist publicizing them.

SMART MISSILES, AMAZING MOSSAD: A friend emails to remind me that the Israeli Army was even more impressive in its missile attack on Mustafa Zibri. For the missile to have hit its target, it needed more than just good technology. Some plucky Israeli had actually gotten into Zibri’s office and planted the homing device. Whatever one thinks of the morality of such an attack, its proficiency is surely remarkable.

HOW FLAKY IS SUSAN LEVY?: I just got around to reading the Washington Post’s invasive profile of Bob and Susan Levy. I don’t like this invasion of their privacy – but then they invited the reporters in, so I guess it’s ok. Take a read. What I take from the article is that Mrs. Levy is more than just flaky. This particular part of the story, noted again on the Daily Howler, had me reeling: “Susan Barbara Katz met Robert Lee Levy at Ohio State during the late ’60s … Sue struggled with a learning disability to become an art teacher. She says she suffers from auditory dyslexia: Sometimes words and conversations get mixed up in her mind. This appears to contribute to her disjointed manner of speaking. She flits from topic to topic, her ideas connecting at right angles instead of in straight lines.” (My italics.) This is the source against whose word we are expected to conclude that Gary Condit has been lying! Remember the classic Chung exchange in which she seemed to trap him into a simple conflict with Mrs. Levy about whether he had denied a sexual relationship with Chandra on the phone with Mrs. Levy? Condit looked awful, and almost everybody concluded he was lying. Condit claims he gave her the same euphemism he gave everyone else – a completely plausible notion given that he was talking to the mom of his lover. But Chandra’s mom, whose word has been taken as Gospel by the media, says otherwise. So who are you going to believe? A congressman or a woman who “suffers from auditory dyslexia: sometimes words and conversations get mixed up in her mind?”


“Unless, of course, your family happens to be super rich like the president’s. For most Americans, Social Security and Medicare are the best family values programs, and it’s mind-boggling that we sit by while a born-rich president who has never known a second of family financial insecurity threatens to pull the safety net out from under the rest of us.”- Robert Scheer, Salon. Why can’t some liberals criticize a policy without demonizing a president?


Here’s a point that hadn’t occurred to me in Robert Samuelson’s Washington Post column today. Samuelson is discussing the propriety of an avowed left-liberal partisan like Howell Raines moving from an editorial page editor position to editor of the news pages. No-one questions Raines’ talent or qualifications. And he may well do a superb job. That’s not the point. What’s at issue is that no-one seems even to be concerned at such an appearance of obvious ideological bias in a news editor of the most important paper in the country. “Suppose, hypothetically, that the Wall Street Journal had named Robert Bartley, its fiercely conservative editorial page editor, to run its news columns,” Samuelson asks. “Questions surely would have arisen (and properly so) about his suitability — about whether he might use the news columns to promote conservative views. Similar questions apply no less to the liberal Raines.” Except that such questions are never asked .. because most journalists are left-liberal, and they assume that they are better at restraining their biases than those evil, selfish conservatives. Circular, innit? Good for Samuelson for breaking the circle.

THOSE D.C. COPS: Aware that conventional police work hasn’t done much good, the D.C. cops have been taking seriously the claims of a New Jersey man in a mental hospital with a police record, who says he knows where Chandra’s body is buried. Here’s the story. And I thought it couldn’t get any weirder. Who are they going to talk to next? Mickey Kaus? He has a fascinating theory about that missing watch-box …

SUSAN LEVY: Fact-checking my next TRB, I came across a quote again from Susan Levy: “”I don’t care if [Chandra]’s been allegedly sleeping with somebody. That’s irrelevant. All those things are just stories; maybe they’re true and maybe they’re not.” She said this on June 7 over a month after Chandra went missing, and long after she knew of the affair with Condit. When pressed by Connie Chung, why didn’t Condit simply repeat this quote from Chandra’s mother? Like many others, the Levys went from trying to find their missing daughter to venting their frustration on Condit. I hope they feel better now.


Sick of my banging on about Condit? I don’t know where to start in my appreciation of John Derbyshire’s latest reverie on masculinity in the next century. My favorite quote: “Fellatio is Ritalin for adolescents. What the mostly-female staff of elementary schools are doing to 8-year-old boys, female students are doing to the 16-year-olds, though the meaning of “orally administered” is of course somewhat different in the two cases. Along with the normalizing of homosexuality, we see here another sign that ordinary heterosexual intercourse is losing its market share. Sperm is no longer much in demand for its original purpose.” And he has a few good points to make as well.


The most extraordinary part of the story today about Israel’s decision to kill Mustafa Zibri was to my mind the accuracy of the missile and the confidence of the Israelis in its use. This amazing weapon was fired by a helicopter into the third floor of a building and was so accurate it actually decapitated its target. Americans and other innocents in the same building were completely unharmed. Amazing. But talk about an invasion of privacy! This must be the most high-tech assassination ever, and makes me wonder how anyone is truly safe. The less extraordinary part is the way in which the Bush administration urged Israel to calm down. It seems pretty clear to me that we are in the early stages of a real war. At this point, Israel has little choice but to seize the initiative. But if Sharon doles this strategy out piece-meal, he will surely die a slow death in international opinion. Far better to invade far more extensively, retrench quickly and build a new wall to defend the Jewish state in one fell swoop. If that means large parts of the West Bank are simply ceded, along with Israeli settlers, so be it. But the invasion had better be bolder and swifter than this phony war if Israel is to get away with it. And getting away with it now could well be critical for the long-term survival of Israel.

HOW PREGNANT WAS CHANDRA?: Bob Somerby is on a roll at the Daily Howler. He pinpoints something that, I think, tells you quite a lot. It’s been a recurring theme of the Condit lynching that Chandra was pregnant when she disappeared. That’s what the now-authoritative National Enquirer reported. That’s the implication behind Chandra’s statement on her last recorded phone message to her aunt: “And I have some big news ? Call me.” It’s also a critical piece of information that lends suspicion to Condit. If Levy was pregnant, he has a motive for something drastic, like murder. Now Vanity Fair’s Judy Bachrach tells Paula “Psychic News Network” Zahn that Levy wasn’t pregnant:

“BACHRACH: Finally, I think something has to be said. [Condit] is constantly accused of having made Chandra Levy disappear because she was pregnant. She was not pregnant. Her own mother says Chandra Levy was not pregnant at the time of her disappearance. She had just had her period a week or two before her disappearance.

ZAHN: All right, you know I heard you say that on another program, I’m like, you know, who talks to their mothers about their cycles? But-

BACHRACH (interrupting): They had it at the same time, and they had it over Passover [April 8], when the daughter was visiting the mother.”

So the mother clearly knew her daughter wasn’t pregnant (and the Levy family is obviously one of those where menstrual cycles are discussed over dinner). So why did she let the press continue with this charade? Susan Levy told Talk’s Lisa DePaulo in June that “we don’t think she was pregnant.” In mid-July, the Levys’ hatchet-man Billy Martin said, “We do not yet have a final answer on that.” What’s the point of this deception except to leave Condit hanging in the wind? Either Judy Bachrach is lying or the Levys are lying. I believe Bachrach.

WHO WAS REALLY IMPEDING THE INVESTIGATION?: When did the cops first respond seriously to the disappearance of Chandra Levy? The answer is May 7, after they were called by Michael Dayton, Condit’s top aide. If it weren’t for Condit, even more time would have been lost. And the cops are accusing Condit of impeding the search for Chandra? According to a recent story in the Washington Times, “‘It was the congressman’s staff that finally got the police interested, when a member of his staff called police on Monday, May 7, and said a constituent was missing. He called both the D.C. police and the FBI,’ the source said.” The only critical lost time in this investigation was the first few days, when security cameras in Levy’s apartment still had the tapes that could have given a real clue to what happened. Whose fault? The cops. And they still won’t answer relevant questions. Here’s the damning extract from the Times: “Questions from The Times that neither Chief Ramsey nor his deputies would answer include the possible effect of the department’s having abolished a missing persons squad when it decentralized detective bureaus during the past five years. The chief also would not say whether Detectives Durant and Kennedy are among detectives who, as he testified in January before the D.C. Council, were promoted without passing merit exams. Nor would the department describe their qualifications to lead such an investigation.” I’ve insisted all along that the real story here is police incompetence. But that wouldn’t help the ratings, would it?

NO IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS?: One of the more damning “facts” to have emerged during the Condit lynching is the notion that Levy’s lack of baggage or even i.d. when she disappeared implicates Condit because he allegedly always asked his tricks to leave any identifying marks behind. But the same story in the Washington Times by reporter, Frank Murray, states that “Police also are said to no longer credit a report by Miss Levy’s aunt, Linda Zamsky, that Mr. Condit told Miss Levy not to carry identification when she was with him.” Hmmm. There goes another theory. I wonder what other Zamsky theories the police don’t buy. But, as Somerby notes, I won’t hold my breath waiting for the press corps to follow up.


This time against p.c. defenses of Palestinian terrorists.

GAY PARENTING AND BEING SAVAGED BY ANIMALS: Taking a breather from his Scarlet Letter campaign against Gary Condit, James Taranto of equates having gay parents with being savaged by a rottweiler. He recounts the tale of children who were removed from their p[arents’] custody after one of them had been found “wandering outside his home in a diaper after being locked out of the house and sleeping in the car.” Taranto’s complaint is that the children were subsequently given to gay parents. “Ross may have been an unfit mother,” Taranto opines. “But the homes into which the DSS placed her children were scarcely better. The Massachusetts News reports: ‘DSS placed Damien with a gay couple and Kyle was placed with Linda McNeil and her boyfriend, Eddie Finklea Jr., who kept a Rottweiler in the backyard. . . . In a shocking story that made headlines, Kyle was attacked and killed by the Rottweiler in June of this year after he wandered into the dog’s unlocked pen.” So let’s get this straight. Is it Taranto’s view that having gay parents is “scarcely better” than having a child locked out of the house and wandering the streets? Or than being savaged by a Rottweiler? Just asking …


Regular fans of John Tierney’s Big City column in the New York Times know what a star he is. Regularly pricking liberal platitudes and assumptions in New York’s biggest liberal paper, Tierney knows he’s out on a limb – and that gives his column a certain edge. Maybe it’s because I’m in a similar posiiton at The New Republic these days that I take such solace in the Times’ benevolent attitude towards a thorn in their side. It speaks well of both Tierney and his bosses. If you’re interested in finding out more about Tierney, check out this fair piece in the American Prospect.


An ally out there with some relevant questions that Chung, engaged in her sexual inquisition, didn’t bother to get to: “Did Levy ever complain about danger while working as an intern for the Bureau of Prisons? Did she tell you she was afraid of anybody? How did she describe her relationship with her parents? Did you know the last person Levy talked to before she disappeared? If so, how did he describe their relationship? Where did you first meet Levy? Do you in some way feel responsible for the fact she is missing?” The Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed puts her finger on something here. Those are the questions someone with an open mind would have asked someone close to a missing person. Chung’s questions were designed to humiliate and punish a man for adultery.