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Saturday, November 10, 2001
Are Military Tribunals the Proper Forum?
Tony Adragna
Jerome Marcus makes an argument for dealing with terrorists in military tribunals instead of criminal courts. There's a good argument to be made, but I don't think that Marcus makes the case. We can effectively deal with "fifth columnists" in our federal courts - the argument that Marcus makes might as well go as far as to say that anybody engaged in espionage, terrorism, or any crime that touches on "national security" properly belongs in a military tribunal. I don't buy that!

I do think that anybody our military catches in Afghanistan, or any foreigner who claims to be an agent of Al Qaida or the Taliban caught committing acts of war in the US, ought be dealt with in a military tribunal. That's a practical solution to the unique problem that being at war with a non-state presents. But, I'm not sure that it's a solution which would be applicable beyond this current situation.

I also don't understand why Marcus doesn't offer the strongest response to "staffers [who] worry about the political impact of a judicial function being carried out by uniformed soldiers rather than robed judges". All branches of the Armed Forces have Judge Advocate General branches, with fully qualified lawyers and judges - it's an insult to JAG officers to suggest that military trials presided over by JAG judges are something less than trials presided over by "robed judges".

A Role For Both
Will Vehrs
Tony, I agree with your formulation. Stateside, use the federal courts. Overseas, convene military tribunals. Even if the worst downside of federal trials are realized, hopefully terrorists will be released after shorter stays for lesser charges to an environment where their old networks have been destroyed. Like child molesters, these individuals will forever be under the microscope.

It's been some time since I was conversant in the finer points of the military justice system, but when I was, I was confident of its capability to fairly adjudicate. Judge Advocate General (JAG) judges and lawyers provide a perfectly capable and qualified legal framework for the unique requirements of war trials.

Amateurs Talk "Strategy & Tactics"
Tony Adragna
You're right Will, the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif truly is good news. Actually, it's better news than winning a victory in the field. Mazar-e-Sahrif is one of those old "Silk Road" towns - very critical to what pre-20th century military planners called "communications". Airlift and airdrop can't replace the "trains" - armies in the field consume an incredible amount of "stores". Professionals know that strategy and tactics don't go anywhere without logistics.

The End of The War to End All Wars...
What happened to the end of "war"?
Tony Adragna

Every Nov 11 I'm reminded of that story I heard in high school about
how World War I ended - the negotiators agreeing on the 11th hour
of the 11th day of the 11th month. Somebody always has to decide
on the specifics of how to end hostilities, but for the guys in the
trenches it couldn't have come soon enough. See, despite all the
"Pattonesque" rhetoric, real "warriors" don't like fights - it's the thugs
who get off on conflict... (full essay at"From Left Field")

Good News Saturday
Will Vehrs
The fall of Mazar-e-Sharif appears to be a major victory in the month long war against the terrorist-supporting Taliban. I say appears because things are not always as they seem in Afghanistan. If the Northern Alliance does consolidate around the city, one by-product will probably be more reporters on the ground. The Alliance, if not a juggernaut military force, does have a good PR command. We should be able to learn a lot more about what's going on and maybe journalists won't have to resort to disguising themselves in burquas to get a story.

The other good news is the return to the US of naval aviators from the aircraft carrier Enterprise. Scenes from the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach are heart-warming reminders of what military service is all about, especially on the eve of Veteran's Day. Tony, I understand that your essay for this weekend will be on Veteran's Day. I'm looking forward to it.

Thanks, too, Tony, for not assigning me to the booboisie. I know that I was reading your Fray posts long before April 28th, but somehow I just missed that Vieques gem. There were so many good posts back then, and I had so little time ....

Friday, November 09, 2001
Weird Words
Tony Adragna
For those readers who went to the dictionary looking for the word "bloviate" (which is a word that I love), you probably thought that Will lost his mind and started making up words - well he didn't, see. At least Will isn't a member of the "booboisie"...

Update: Merriam-Webster does list "bloviate" in their dictionary...

Updated 9:40 PM
It's Not About Patriotsim...
It's a Matter of Necessity
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, I read the Grayson column in print (we do get the Richmond Times-Dispatch here). So, I shelled out 75 cents for newspaprers this morning, and the two stories I got to read in the Times-Dispatch made the extra two bits worthwhile.

I don't know if you remember, but back in our frayster days I wrote a fairly strong defense of the need for continued operations at Vieques - irrespective of the desires of Puerto Rico's voters. If they really want the U.S. Navy out of Puerto Rico, let them resolve their identity crisis in favor of independence - then they can do what the Filipinos did with Subic. So long as Peurto Rican's want to be even quasi members of this republic, then they've gotta put up with what the rest of us put up with.

But, put all of the patriotic rhetoric aside, there really isn't any other place where the Atlantic Fleet can do this type of training.

The other story was about the improbable win - why didn't you mention it, Will?

Harris, a 56-year-old cafeteria manager at the Woolwine Elementary School, decided on Nov. 1, five days before Virginia's general election, that she wanted to be a write-in candidate for the Patrick Board of Supervisors.

So she went down to West's office in Stuart, signed a paper saying she wouldn't spend more than $1,000 on her campaign, then called 15 to 20 friends to tell them of her candidacy.

Her friends apparently spread the word. When the counting was finished around 7 a.m. Wednesday, Harris had won nearly 55 percent of all votes cast in the Smith River District, trouncing the lone candidate on the ballot, Ora "Dewey" Baker.

Of all the election stories, this one is my favourite.

I still haven't decided what I'm going to write about tomorrow morning - maybe "office culture", I've gotten my fill of different variations lately. I spent today stuffing envelopes (I must be the highest paid "envelope stuffer" in DC) at OPERA America - I loved their choice of office music...

Well, let me read the rest of the papers, I might have something to say later...

Out of My League
Will Vehrs
Tony, I feel eminently qualified to bloviate about the New York Mayoral race and the NJ Governor's race, but I'm in way over my head when it comes to Patrick County, VA politics. To tell you the truth, I just assumed any guy named "Dewey" had to be a shoo-in around those parts. When I saw the story of Ms Harris' amazing victory, I was too embarassed to call attention to my bad call in that unpredictable Smith River District. I bet those elementary kids are going to behave a little better in the cafeteria from now on and the principal will start returning his tray after lunch.

I didn't recall your Vieques stand in the Fray--you were way ahead of Grayson, who by all accounts is good professor and was recently voted the most witty guy in Williamsburg. Nothing witty about that Patton speech you found. I was ready to charge Kabul with my bayonet drawn after reading that.

We all have our cultural "blind spots." I have many, one of them being that I have never seen, nor heard, an opera. But I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Select.

Ahead of the Liberal Curve
Tony Adragna
Yes Will, I was ahead of Grayson on April 28 of this year. It was actually a response to a question Justus Nieland asks in Slate's "Today' Papers" on that same day:

(Question: is the site unique in this respect due to geography, or climate, or because the local efforts to stop the bombing exercises over the years have failed?)

I got a few responses to that post, but apparently that was before you started reading my threads. Will Jacobs prompted me to describe the activities that the Navy can't perform at some other place...

A General for Today
Tony Adragna
I just finished reading "Patton’s Speech to the Third Army" on NRO Weekend - a very good read. Are there any more generals like the "Son-of-a-Goddamned-B**** named Georgie Patton!"? We could sure use one right now! The closest we've gotten was Gen. H. "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf, who, like me, is probably wishing that he was back "out there" doing something, anything, to help bring this conflict to the type of end that "Georgie" envisioned for WWII. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing Gen Franks, who is by all accounts a competent commander, but sometimes a well respected and hard hitting SOB is the better choice.

Remember Vieques?
Will Vehrs
One of the most noteworthy changes after September 11th was that preconceived notions about how various politicos would react to a war on terrorism went out the window. George Grayson is a professor of government at my alma mater, the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He's also been a relatively liberal Democratic Virginia House of Delegates member for 25 years (he was gerrymandered out of his seat and was not on Tuesday's ballot). I would have bet the farm that he would be skeptical of all things military, especially now. What a surprise to open my Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning and see an op-ed he authored calling for quashing plans to close Vieques, the Puerto Rican Naval Training base that has been the subject of so much controversy.

Grayson carefully lays out the Vieques situation, including the ethnic politics at work. The heart of the matter is "Vieques is the only facility on the East Coast where the U.S. armed forces can conduct fully integrated land, sea, and air exercises, using live ammo." There are not other alternatives. The issue is "Should the not-in-my-backyard perspective be allowed to trump national security?" Grayson quotes no less a Vieques critic as Senator Charles Schumer saying "you can't pull the rug out from under the war effort at this moment."

Tony, I thought the Vieques closing was a tough call. While it set a bad precedent, I saw why President Bush wanted to remove it as a constant irritant. In the spirit of "it's never too late to make the right decision," I agree with Grayson and I see now how unfair it is to make assumptions about where individuals stand before they're given a chance to make their opinions known. National security and the war effort have to trump a lot of parochial interests in these times. I'm interested in your take, especially given your background in the Navy.

[Quasi-note: The Times-Dispatch does not have a link yet to the Grayson article. The piece originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal, but I couldn't locate it. I'll post a link when it's available.]

TGIF Short Takes
Will Vehrs
Sunday is Veteran's Day (Remembrance Day in Canada) and Monday is the observed holiday, so I'm closing in on a three day weekend ... Veteran's Day will probably be extra special this year, with our armed forces in harm's way and the upsurge of interest in "the Greatest Generation" still going strong... Monday is also the day the Florida recount consortium story is supposed to come out. I'm guessing it will be inconclusive, like everything else about the vote seems to have been . . .A specialty area I work in is recycling. Just got an email advising that an Ohio recycling "Murf" (Materials Recycling Facility) was closed down yesterday due to an anthrax scare--allegedly powder fell from a homemade envelope with Arabic writing on it. Doesn't ring true, does it? Nobody can afford to assume a hoax anymore, though ... I am part of a "Nielson" family this week, keeping a diary of my TV activity in return for five crisp singles. They won't believe I watched President Bush on MSNBC last night instead of "Friends," but I did catch a smidgeon of "Will and Grace" to make up for it ... I'll probably scare them with my talking head show viewing as I gear up for Punditwatch--transcripts are for sissies; you've got to watch the facial expressions ... The "comments" section here in Quasipundit hasn't been working, I've been told, and I haven't been able to get into Slate's Fray most of the day, either--blame it on bin Laden! Comments to the "Quas" have been helpful and gratifying, so I hope it gets fixed ... Tony is promising an essay for this weekend; check back often ....

Thursday, November 08, 2001
QuasiPundit Recommends
Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs
Jennifer Senior gives a more in-depth treatment of the inspring life of Fr. Mychal Judge in "The Firemen's Friar" (From the November 12, 2001 issue of New York Magazine). When QuasiPundit published a tribute to Fr. Mychal, a decision was made that the issue of Fr. Mikes homosexuality would not be addressed (for several reasons, chief among the them was the fact that some members of "the gay press" took the opportunity to rant against the Catholic Church). One half of QuasiPundit is a gay Roman Catholic who once considered a vocation with the Franciscans, has known more gay priests than he cares to admit (a few of them Franciscans), but has never seen "gayness", or any sexual orientation, as "the defining characteristic" of who a person is. However, it is part of Fr. Mike's story, and Jennifer gives it the type of treatment that it deserves (that is, she treats is as part of a larger story, and tells the whole story).

Andrew Sullivan calls it a "poignant piece" - QuasiPundit (both halves) agree.

The "Will"s are ganging up on me
Well, Safire surely isn't a naif, so I don't understand how he can agree with me and still be so wrong. And, Safire never comes out with, or even alludes to, the reason for Mr. Putin's post-Sep 11 coziness. "Closer relations" isn't an end unto itself - friends make committments of support to each other, and Putin is expecting a quid for his quo. I will make a concession - Bush and Putin may be on the same page, but they're reading different treatises.

Who read today's "Today's Feature Article" at OpinionJouranl? An interesting read, and lends further support to my prediction of a GOP route in '02.

Hey! I'm not pessemistic! I'm absolutely optimistic that I'll be vindicated at the proper time! Just stay tuned...

Tony Adragna and William Safire in the Crossfire

Will Vehrs

Two pundits take on the Barbara Walters interview with Putin last night--Tony Adragna of Quasipundit and William Safire of the New York Times. Tony's pessimism on a missile defense/ABM agreement counters this Safire optimism:

George Bush told Vladimir Putin last month that the 1972 ABM treaty was "outdated, antiquated and useless." Putin countered by telling Barbara Walters, in an interview ABC broadcast last night, that the treaty, which keeps the U.S. and Russia defenseless against nuclear attack, was "essential, effective and useful."

Then the Russian president added the crucial but: "But we have a negotiating platform from which we could reach agreements."

Stay tuned for coverage of Putin's visit to the Bush ranch for the final verdict in this pitched pundit battle ....

Wednesday, November 07, 2001
Who's He Think He's Foolin'
Tony Adragna
OK, Putin didn't really give me anything to chew on (Barbara asked all the "right questions", but the answers were all predictable). Somebody's gonna try to make something out of the fact that Mr. Putin "warned us about terrorism." Well, what Mr. Putin was doing in the past was defending the Russian campaign in Chechnya. What Mr. Putin is doing now is piggybacking on Sep 11, and hoping that his support for our campaign in Afghanistan will translate into willful blindness in re Chechnya. I'm not offering a judgement on Russia's actions in Chechnya, but I'm also not believing that the Russia's concern in Chechnya is all about terrorism.

Mr. Putin's comments about missile defense were also no surprise to me. The pro-MD crowd wants to believe that we're moving closer to agreement on the allegedly defunct ABM Treaty - not so! I said some months ago that Mr. Putin is a "yes man" - that is, he initially says yes, but ends up saying no. That's in contrast to the Sov's who always said nyet, but came arount to da after extended negotiations. Mr. Putin argues that there's room within the ABM Treaty for development of some form of MD - he oughta know, the Russians have a system (sorta). But, here's the problem - the Russians see the ABM Treaty as a "framework" and our proposal as "frameless". We're not going to negotiate our way outa the ABM Treaty, and I think that unilateral withdrawal (allowed under the treaty) is a bad idea. Anyway, the people who predicted, after the first Bush-Putin meeting, that the two would soon be on the same page were naifs.

Best line - Putin qoutes Churchill ( that's who he attributed it to, I haven't been able to confirm): he used the line about politicians looking toward the coming elections, but statesmen looking at coming generations. There's alot of "Churchillianess" going around lately, and I don't mind (WSC is my heero).

It Wouldna Made A Dif...
Tony Adragna
We missed what? You mean - Giulianni's gotta go? They were having an election in New York? ...

I love the print pundit review!!!

I really didn't want ot talk about the "campaign finance" thingy because my solution isn't very popular, and wouldn't work anyway. Public financing only gets one's foot in the door, and would only work if you made it impossible for a candidate to self-finance. We might be able to limit how the parties/candidates raise and spend contributions, but I don't see any way to prevent candidates from spending money out of their own pockets (not any constitutional way, that is - of course, the same argument is made in re contribution limits i.e. Mr. Justice Scalia would still like to revisit that Nixon decision - what a goombah! NOT!).

I've been described as a goombah - by somebody who didn't know what it means (some young political science major who just graduated from one of those schools). He tried to use it pejoratively in response to a piece of wisdom that I was attempting to impart(someting along the line of Ensigns not being able to find their own asses with both hands, a flashlight, and a roadmap - that's why we have Chiefs and Petty Officers - translate that into a normal office culture and you get the gist). Me and the bartender just looked at each other and laughed, while the snooty little elitist snob stormed out (too bad, he was kewt). See, I mighta dropped out of college, but I got more out of my liberal arts education (and reading books) than most of my contemporaries who went to Hastings Law, or Stanford Med (well, they got more money, but I've lived a fuller life). Education's wasted on people who go to school! We can do a more indepth treatment of education - it's on the agenda for our next ed. conf. I was gonna start off by saying "you don't want to ask me about education, I'm the guy who dropped out", but I think that I've beaten up on McC enough over that bit of self-efacement.

I usually agree with Broder, but I still think that the decision to not hit the campaign trail had less to do with "party politics" than "national unity" and "focus". I'm glad somebody asked the question about Gilmore - I was wondering what kind of flak he was going to get. My second favorite pundit, Mark Sheilds, got me a little peeved today, though (the column isn't online). He wants to reinstate the draft in order to make sure that this whole spirit of "national unity" gets translated into "mutual sacrifice". I think national service is great, but I don't want anybody in service who doesn't really wanna be there - ya know...

Well, I'm gonna watch Baba's interview with Putin tonight... I might have something to say after...

The first "print pundit" edition of Punditwatch is here

While Quasipundit Slept ....
Will Vehrs
Tony, we here at Quasipundit were all over the VA and NJ races. missing totally the prodigious vote-buying of Michael Bloomberg in New York City. I'm not sure what his victory means, other than being another example of a disturbing (to me) trend: rich people having a leg up on running for office, and no cries for campaign finance reform directed against their excesses.

The best and worst of politics is on display today. The best has victors basking in the glow of their victory, with optimism abounding. The worst has backbiting political hacks assigning blame and demanding that "heads roll." I prefer the former activity and I wish my governer-elect, Mark Warner, the best as he assembles a transition team to help him lead Virginia during uncertain times.

You have an interesting background, Tony, and I'm glad you shared it. An old boss of mine was fond of saying, "It's never too late to make the right decision." I would never bestow a raspberry citizenship award on you for your past shunning of the electoral process; we all find ourselves and our "calling" on our own, unique schedule.

I didn't read the Philadelphia schools story, but I did see the headline and thought that education might be a good topic for one of those on-going dialogs we've talked about. I get as maudlin about classrooms as I do about voting. When I hear all the hand-wringing about the need for more spending on schools, I acknowledge the importance of money, but I know that a good teacher is as good in a sparkling high tech classroom as in a one room cabin heated by a wood stove. What happens within the four classroom walls trumps everything else. Let's talk more about this.

My Jihad Against Sabato Ends....
Will Vehrs
The Washington Post's on-line section today featured two savvy political observers. Professor Robert D. Holsworth of Virginia Commonwealth University is the Avis to Larry Sabato's Hertz Virginia political talking head franchise. David Broder, of course is the dean of Washington political reporters. This half of the Quasipundit empire saw their appearances as a chance to needle Sabato for his unkind remark yesterday. Cleverly disguised as "Manassas, VA," Quasipundit had this exchange with Holsworth:

Manassas, VA: Professor Holsworth, on Monday Professor Sabato charged that President Bush didn't campaign for Mark Earley because he'd rather work out in the gym or throw out the first ball at the World Series. What's your take on the risk/reward calculation the White House had to make?
Robert D. Holsworth: I love Larry's answer. Bush may be a bit like his dad and see campaigning a necessary evil, not something that he really likes to do. In terms of the risk-reward calaculation, it was probably pretty simple: why stop in New Jersey on your way to Yankee Sadium or cross the river at lunctime, to expend your political capital on two candidates who were going to lose, because then the gremlins in the press might read the results as a referendum on you. In addition, it might damage the above the fray image as a unifier that the public is so supportive of today. On the other hand, I think that President Bush could have defended his decision to campaign relatively easily. What better signal could you of conveying the President's message that America should return to "business as usual" than having the President in the middle of a political campaign.

I hate it when this happens! My similar question to Broder was not selected, but this question on the issue was asked by a Quasipundit mole:

Washington, D.C.: David,
Since the Republicans lost two big races yesterday and the White House stayed out of them for the most part, there are some angry Republicans out there. Do you think the White House strategy was calculated to maximize Bush's influence in the 2002 elections which will matter much more?

David S. Broder: I think the White House strategy was calculated to insulate Bush from personal association with two likely defeats. They saw it coming, and decided to step aside. I fully expect to see Bush heavily engaged in the 2002 races, where he has a great deal at stake in control of the House and Senate and of key state houses.

Based on Holsworth and Broder, I'll acknowledge that Sabato just gave a flippant answer instead of a long-winded discussion of the President's options. The jihad is over.

BTW, Tony, Broder sees the airline security issue clearly:

Bethesda, Md.: It seems to have been decided by/in the press that only federal government employees can adequately provide airport security, and that to think otherwise means you're acting in a partisan manner or are beholden to the lobbyists. This is obviously not the case; it's a matter of hiring good employees, training them well, and making the job attractive (pay, benefits, opportunity for advancement, etc). The government isn't uniquely capable of providing any of those. Why doesn't the press report that it's an issue that intelligent people can differ on?
David S. Broder: I agree completely with your statement. It is a legitimate debate. The key to this problem is recruitment, training and opportunity for advancement. Providing that is more important than the question of who signs the paycheck. It's also important that the decision be made soon, because the current situation is not working.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001
I'm Psycho... I mean Psychic...
Tony Adragna
It was a purely inuitive guess about you punching a card... at least you're not still using those old lever machines like we are here in Prince Georges County. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the importance of voting - you've shamed me into an admission - '00 was the first time I voted.

I know - go ahead and renominate me for that "special citizenship award". See, in my radical-lefty days (I was in seminary while Liberation Theology was en vogue amongst radicals) I had refused to register with Selective Services. I couldn't get any fed aide, and was afraid to register to vote because "they would come get me". Well, I ended up dropping out after three semesters, and (irony of ironies) volunteered for the U.S. Navy in Jan '85. I still had a problem voting - being the person that I am, I just couldn't square myself with voting for my own commander-in-chief. I left the service in '88, and thought about voting, but didn't like the choices (same answer for '92 and '96). I decided that '00 was time to "get off the pot" - I don't really care for Gore, but I knew that I didn't want another Bush in office (I've revised and extended since Sep 11 - I don't even want to think about how Gore would've handled that address to congress).

Which brings me to Sabato's remarks on Bush. You know what line really turned me off? It was that bit about being "AWOL" - them's serious charges, you know what I mean. It's absurd to claim that the president is "AWOL" from "party politics" at a time when he needs to be the symbol of "national unity" (there I go again). Of course, I've been suggesting from the beginning of this presidency that he oughta be less partisan - but I'd rather have party politics instead of what it took to get a semblance of national unity (well, at least there's unity outside the Beltway - I'm a betting man, but I'm not putting any money on when Congress is gonna get it together). Wait a minute - I'm agreeing with Fred Barnes! Where're Eleanor and Jack when I need them?

And how about Mortawn? I don't read Roll Cal as often as I did when I was working on Capitol Hill, but something prompted me to see what Kondrake's up to. He's endorsing the Snowe/Murray "tax holiday" scheme (similar plan in the House offered by Lindsey Graham). We've agreed that there isn't a whole lot that can be done to fix the economy right now (with Joe Britt's concurrence) - I guess some people won't take no for an answer so long as there's something that hasn't been tried. My only question - where's the money gonna come from?

And it's time for my story pick of the day - it's about money, fixing things, and the futility of the wrong approach. Pennsylvania wants to privatize (sorta) Philladelphia schools. I think that every child in America should have a chance to get a private school education - that's not what we're talking about here. Schools need money , and more efficient management, but what they need even more are better teachers. There's absolutely no reason why students can't succeed in public schools - they simply need to be taught. Frank McCourt tells the story about getting his students excited about literature and writing after being told that he was fighting a hopeless battle. The only hopeless battle in public schools is trying to get rid of inept teachers - fix everything else about public schools and you've gone nowhere until you've fixed that problem. My solution to the education problem: bust the union (in a weird coincidence, I was reading this story in the office when a call came in from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, where I spent the day doing more "admin work").

I think that's 'nuff for tonight!

p.s. I did say that I would get back to you 'bout "oilmen" - I hafta admit that I have nothing against oilmen. Richmond, CA depends on Chevron. Check out the "Rosie the Riveter" site, too (Kaiser is a BIG name in my hometown neck of the woods - I grew up in El Sobrante, which is an unincorporated part of Richmond, tucked away in a little valley behind the Berkeley Hills).

p.p.s. least suprising GOP loss - Mayor James S. Grimes lost his bid for reelection in the City of Frederick, Md- this loss really isn't worth noting in anybody's little black book - nothing extraordinary 'bout what happened there.

My Raspberry Goes to Larry Sabato
Will Vehrs
Tony, just like the night shift at every plant I've ever worked, you've left a lot of loose ends for the day shift ....

I'm glad your assignment turned out okay. Why do I think you might just might meet E. J. Dionne on one of your breaks, strike up a conversation, and end up doing regression analysis on tax policy for Brookings? I won't be able to cover both shifts here at Quasipundit, you know .... I'm also pleased that you were able to get information on the Diamondbacks from another source and that at one time you were a Bay area sports fan. How do you survive, living where you do, without being a Redskins (or, as Greg Easterbrook calls them, the "Chesapeake Watershed Region Indigenous Persons) fan?

Bin Laden over Unocal? Hey, oilmen aren't that bad! I used to be one.

You got hacked off at William Raspberry yesterday; I was seeing red over a comment in the Washington Post by Larry Sabato. Sabato is a professor at the University of Virginia, an author, and a widely quoted talking head. He also moderates political debates in Virginia (don't get me started on his last Warner-Earley effort). Professor Sabato does a lot of good work, including what he was doing yesterday: taking questions from the citizenry on-line at the Post site. The comment that got me going was in response to a question about whether President Bush should have come to Virginia to campaign for Mark Earley.

Quote of the Day
If President Bush had made the time to come down for Earley, or even to tape a commercial, then Earley would have been significantly advantaged. As it is, Bush was too busy attending the World Series and maintaining his exercise regimen of 1 to 2 hours per day. Larry Sabato

The Post making it "quote of the day" added insult to injury. First off, the exercise regimen thing is a cheap shot. Second, New Yorkers seemed to appreciate the President attending the Series, going to a place that before 9-11 gave him about 30% of the vote. Secondly, I don't think Sabato knows just how fragile Bush's support is right now. I don't think it makes sense for him to risk that support during a war to campagin for a candidate who is behind, running against a candidate who has gone out of his way to support Bush's conduct of the war. Sabato is one of the biggest critics of partisanship, but here he's as much as asking for partisanship--maybe so he could criticize it. There, I've got that off my chest. I'm off to vote.

One last thing--why is it that a capitalist pig, Lincoln-driving housemate won't pick up the check?

Loose ends...
Tony Adragna
... More like frayed endsWill. I finished at CLIR with rave reviews, so I won't be meeting Dionne soon. Don't know where I'm off to today.

It was my turn to cook, and I didn't feel like it - so I paid. BTW, his name is William. The other housemate is conservative as well (I'm surrounded, but I hold my own, thank you very much).

I'll get back with my thoughts on Sabato, and oilmen in the PM... Don't forget to punch all the way through...

Not a Hanging Chad in Sight
Will Vehrs
Tony, how did you know we were still using punch cards for voting here in Southside Virginia?

I walked with my daughter to her school, Swift Creek Elementary, the polling place for my area. For some reason, election day is usually a school holiday. Only a Democrats for Mark Warner person was working outside, greeting voters. The poll workers, unfailingly cheerful as always, checked me in quickly. I was the 95th "P-Z" voter, an indicator that turnout had been fairly brisk up to that point. All of my agonizing over my vote was long past, so I punched my card quickly. I pulled it out--all my punches were "clean." I checked the candidate number on the ballot versus the number punched on my card. Everything checked out--I had not voted for Pat Buchanan by mistake ... I turned my ballot in and got my "I Voted" sticker. When I got to the office, I saw a lot of those stickers on my colleagues.

I get maudlin when I think about voting. I cannot remember an election I've missed since 1972, even if it was just for some Soil Conservation District board. I've voted absentee while stationed in Germany, and I've voted in NY, PA, and NJ, in addition to the majority of my votes that have been cast in Virginia. I tried to explain to my daughter today that soldiers had died in war to ensure that I could freely punch that card. I'm not sure she fully undestood--she's only six. Someday she will.

Tell William and the other conservative housemate that I feel their pain. You hold your own all too well when you are presented with our "truth."

Make It A Raspberry Torte for Sabato
Will Vehrs
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post quotes conservative warhorse Fred Barnes at length today and--surprise, surprise--it fits in with my critique of Larry Sabato's gratuitous slam on Bush. Barnes writes:

A top priority for Bush is to keep the nation, and particularly Democrats and Republicans in Congress, behind the war effort. To achieve that, Bush has accepted limitations on his political role. He’s declined to campaign this year for GOP candidates. He’s no longer the public champion of a Republican agenda. Even on war-related issues, he rarely promotes his own proposals or those of congressional Republicans. He doesn’t criticize Democrats.

Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Bush has become Mr. Bipartisan. This is all but required of a war president. The attacks caused Bush’s approval rating to reach 90 percent, but it’s his performance post-September 11 that’s kept it there. He’s forged a congenial working relationship with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt. They’ve had only one sharp disagreement (when Daschle said he wouldn’t bring up more judicial nominations this year). On the conduct of the war, there’s been no serious Democratic dissent. The result is Bush has the luxury of speaking for a united America on the war.

But he’s sacrificed the luxury of speaking as the leader of the GOP. In fact, he’s leaned so far toward the middle he’s occasionally tilted in favor of Democrats. He made concessions to Democrats on an economic stimulus package without insisting on Republican-backed elements. This upset conservatives in Congress, who felt abandoned.

According to Sabato, Bush didn't campaign for Earley because he'd rather pump iron or appear at the World Series. According to Barnes, who probably would want Bush to campaign for Republicans for selfish Republican reasons, Bush didn't because he's now a war president in a unique bi-partisan situation. I'm with Barnes here. Is it such a bad thing to have conservatives in Congress (who have no where else to go) mad at you while keeping moderates and Democrats muted? I think the war effort is worth making Mark Earley and Bret Schundler run on their merits.

Monday, November 05, 2001
This Is Really Hurtin'
Tony Adragna
I hate not beng able to check in during the day, but I'm gonna hafta be QuasiPundit PMing it for awhile.

Remember the Afghan story from our earlier exchange? Well, I got around to reading Raspberry's column on the Metro ride home - I'd like to send him a raspberry. It really irks me when columnists pose queries the answers to which are in stories published on the same day in the same publication. But, that doesn't bother me as much as the fact that his questions are inane (what's the point of asking a moot question?).

I think that failure to publicly link (believe me, everybody who shoulda known knew) the Taliban with support for bin Laden is summed up in this whole question of "recognition". It's more diplomatic bumbling a la April Gillaspie's pre-Gulf War nod at the "Beast of Baghdad". Of course, who knew that it was going to end up costing 5000+ lives right here at home. Albright even concedes the point that I've been harping on - Americans just never really paid attention to the threat that these thugs pose.

The bit about Unocal in the story is more telling than it appears at face value. Why would the the Taliban harbor bin Laden at roughly $20MM per year, when they could be getting $100MM per year from Unocal if they cleaned up their act? Seems obvious to me - they like bin laden a whole lot more than they want to admit (true love trumps money, even if your partner is ugly - doesn't it?).

Let's see - you got an election to go to tomorrow. Another good opinion piece on why the GOP oughta lose The Old Dominion. Read that along with the editorial about choices for Northern Virginia. It looks like some people are thinking that taxes aren't that bad after all.

Just a quick note on constitutional issues: I was listening to NPR while the capitalist-pig Lincoln driving Republican (my housemate William) was driving me to dinner (which I had to pay for out of my depleted coffer), and I heard a discussion about "restricting rights". One of the panelists (I don't know who, I was trying to tune out the voice-over-identification so's I could hear what he was saying) said that post-Sep 11, people are more accepting of restrictions on rights. I'll agree, people are more accepting, so long as it's somebody else's rights that are being restricted. If all rights exercises come with a cost to the individual (which I certainly have never disputed), then all restrictions must come with a cost to society - wouldn't you agree?

Townsend is a good Maryland name, and Kennedy gets recognition just about everywhere - it's kinda like somebody named Alioto Brown running in California. But politics is all in the counties over here; Schaefer was mayor of Baltimore, Glendening was Prince Georges County Exec, and I think Duncan has a good shot at Gov next time around (if he decides to run). I'll go out on a limb and predict that WP won't endorse Kennedy Townsend because she won't run.

You never responded - who are these D-Back folk? (I know who they are, now). I haven't been a sports fan since Al Davis took the Raiders down south - only to bring them back. I still catch a 49rs game when I feel like it, and I watch the As play very rarely. It's odd, I grew up in the S.F. area, the home of three great ball clubs, and I loved it - not anymore.

My assignment today was OK. I told the agency that my "dream job" is research/law library work (which the "crazy Morrocan" trained me very well at, thank you very much). So, they sent me to the Council on Library and Information Resources (next door to Brookings - I behaved myself on my cig breaks). I did "admin work" (which is temp lingo for "stuffing envelopes") all day. The one break was when they asked me to check some citations in a paper that somebody was preparing (only found three problems - easily corrected). One of the citations was a page cite in Nicholson Baker's book. Remember the Slate dialog between Baker and Fallows: one wharehouses old newspapers, the other can't figure out how to retrieve old copy from outdated storage media - can't help either one.

Back at ya tomorrow!

Update: ooops, I said "three great ball clubs". Who did I leave out? The S.F. Giants! Sorry! I never was a Giants fan, what with Billy Martin's As being what they were while I was growing. Speaking of coaches, that's another reason I don't follow the Raiders anymore - they got rid of John Madden (I don't care what anybody says, Madden is da Man)

Prescient Pundits Call It for D'Backs
Will Vehrs
Tony, some people watch the Sunday pundit shows for the politics. I watch them for the sports tips! Yesterday morning, on ABC's This Week, Sam Donaldson asked for World Series predictions. Linda Douglas, heretofore never known as heir to the mantle of Grantland Rice, opined that this Series would be decided in the bottom of the ninth inning. George Will, seizing on this opening, noted that a decision in the bottom of the ninth would mean victory for his favorites, the Diamondbacks. Forget politics, get these two a show on ESPN!

Not A Sports Fan
Tony Adragna
Who are these Diamondbacks I'm hearing so much about?

Speaking of pundits, the traffic on Punditwatch is taking off - kewl!

Just read a good Afghan background story in the WP. Two notes - the WP is critical of a failure to designate Afghanistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, but fails to hit on the point that Afghanistan is really a terrorist supported state; and, in line with InstaPundits "Bellicose women" theme, Madeline Albright was the first US official to call the Taliban what it is.

Well, I'm sitting in an office waiting for an assignment - wish me luck...

"Speech must be free, but cannot be without cost"
Will Vehrs
Tony, while you're waiting--and good luck!--see if a Wall Street Journal is laying around. Greg Easterbrook has a great op-ed piece on free speech. Easterbrook edits and writes the snarky Tuesday Morning Quarterback for Slate(sorry, can't get away from sports!). A lot of folks who have been criticized for their remarks about 9/11 are falsely claiming abridgement of their right to free speech. Easterbrook demolishes their "hypersensitivity." Here's a good summary from his piece:

It is censorship if books are seized and burned; it is not censorship if books are tossed in the trash because their authors mock the liberty that made the books possible.

The Right To Not Listen
Tony Adragna
I just read Easterbrook's piece, it's featured on today. In fairness, there are some people who do argue a need for censorship - to them I say "just change the channel"(or, don't buy that book, visit that website, etc). I have to agree, though, that what's been happenning recently isn't censorship.

Off on assignment...

Not a Pretty Story
Will Vehrs
Tony, hope you've lucked into a good assignment right off the bat. I know how "dicey" some of them can be on the first day. Maybe some day we can discuss the politics and culture of offices and workplaces. There's a potentially long dialog ....

I read the article about Afghanistan that you cited. It's an ugly story of bureaucratic and policy drift, mismanagment, and mistakes. It's not hard to sympathize with Madeline Albright's explanation for why things happened the way they did. At least she's talking, unlike Warren Christopher, who refused to be interviewed. I recall that years ago some wag, commenting on an international problem, said simply, "None of this would have happened if Warren Christopher were still alive."

I was never a big fan of Albright, thinking her much better as an academic than our top diplomat. But she had some good moments even while hamstrung by serving in an administration that until the end concentrated on domestic issues. Why she was never able to link the Taliban's treatment of women and their terrorist support in order to effect both issues probably haunts her.

Sunday, November 04, 2001
Better Late Than Never for MacEachin
Will Vehrs
Tony, last week the Washington Post endorsed Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine for Virginia Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively. Today, two days before the election, they finally endorse Democrat Donald MacEachin for Attorney General. It's one of the most tepid endorsements you'll ever see. I suspect the Post editorial board had a lot of trouble with this one and that's why it came so late. The Republican, Jerry Kilgore, is very qualified and hails from Southwest Virginia, an underrepresented part of the state. The Post editorial page's reflexive Democratic tilt came through for MacEachin, but I think Kilgore will win on Tuesday.

Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall at a major newspaper editorial board meeting? Let me go out on a limb and predict that the WP will endorse Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for Governor of Maryland, ha ha ....

No Record, No Experience...
Tony Adragna
You said "tepid", but it's more like "lame". Admit that he's not "the perfect candidate for this job", but give him a chance anyway. What they should've said is that since he represents an opportunity for change, that makes him "the perfect candidate" because there's so much change needed.

Is that a BIG race in Virginia? (I've seen some few Kilgore ads in the last few days, but no MacEachin ads)

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for Governor of Maryland? Hey, ya never know! I kinda hope Doug Duncan (Montgomery County Executive) runs ...

Steppingstone to the Statehouse
Will Vehrs
Tony, the Attorney General job in Virginia has become the best launch pad for governor in recent years. J. Marshall Coleman, Mary Sue Terry, Jim Gilmore, and now Mark Earley all were Attorneys General. Is it a BIG race in Virginia? No, but it's all the GOP has going, so that's why I'm flogging it! It's basically an administrative job--it's not "top cop," although you'd think so, to see the ads.

Don't you think Kennedy Townsend's name and fund raising network will scare off potential challengers in Maryland?

Sunday With Snakes
Will Vehrs
No, Tony, not the political kind. People were telling me that I wasn't getting out enough, so I took my daughter to the "Reptile Expo." I have now gotten out quite enough, thank you very much. Imagine a rug bazaar, only with snakes and salamanders.

Maybe this was all the preparation I needed to post the first "Punditwatch."

Snakes v. Snakes
Tony Adragna
Let's see, you went to a running event yesterday, and a reptile expo today - I ran around the basement snaking out the mainline yesterday. Guess you had a more interesting weekend, and had time to watch the pundits. Great job on Punditwatch - I like very much.

I tuned out George's interview with Gen. Franks - I had the same reaction as your initial. But, thinking about it, that pairing made sense: the interview wasn't about military strategy, it was about fighting the homefront PR war. I glad you picked up on Zakaria's comment - I read his "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?" back on Oct 14, and agreed without reservation. I don't need to comment further on Dionne's class warfare nonsense. I think you covered all the bases...

A Note on "Security"
Tony Adragna
Just watched the Kerry/De Lay face off on "Meet the Press" - I was expecting De Lay to defend the House GOP approach on efficiency, or cost, etc. What I got out of their dialogue is that the main reason for the House GOP approach is that it's what Mr. Bush wants. Is De Lay deferring to the president? In fairness, I think the House bill is what the House GOP wants for their own reasons, but De Lay's insistance that whatever they do must be in line with Mr. Bush's vision of how to go about security doesn't strike me as a good rationale - Mr. Bush isn't a "security expert" (is he?). We'll Mr. De Lay gave his reason for delay - no compromise.

I was happy to hear that Gov. Ridge is in opposition to attempts at giving him a budget and more power.

McGreevy, Warner Hold Wide Leads Before Tuesday Voting
Will Vehrs
Tony, things look grim for GOP candidates for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. The Trenton Times reports today that a Farleigh Dickinson poll shows Democrat James McGreevey leading Republican Bret Schundler 53% to 35%, with 12% undecided. New Jersey Democrats also have a good chance of taking control of the legislature. In Virginia, a Richmond Times-Dispatch/NBC-12 poll shows Democrat Mark Warner leading Republican Mark Earley 46% to to 33%. A large 16% are undecided and 2% favor the marijuana legalization candidate, Libertarian William Redpath. If there's a silver lining for Virginia Republicans, they are expected to widen their control of the legislature and Warner appears to have weak coattails for the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General races.

Neither Mark Earley nor Bret Schundler got the President Bush campaign stop they desperately needed. The politico who did rush to Earley's rescue has caused controversy. Mayor Rudy Guliani made a tv spot praising the former Virginia Attorney General and two ironies were raised. On last night's Capital Gang, an otherwise forgettable guest, reporter Warren Fiske of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, noted how Guliani had gotten into a dust-up with Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore over New York trash. When Virginians were irate over the amount of New York trash coming into Virginia landfills, Guliani retorted that they should be happy to take it because of the cultural attractions New York offered. The other irony, to me, anyway, is the spectacle of brickbats being thrown at an out of state endorsement. I wonder what the reaction would be if Senator John McCain had made a spot for Earley?

Still Too Early For "Told You So"
Tony Adragna
I read the Times-Dispatch story that you refer to - it's an interesting read. I like the way that Warner subsumed a trditional Republican "local control" theme into a "pro-tax" agenda - he gets to talk about taxes without actually talking about taxes. Of course, I think Northenr Virginians don't see any other solution to their transportation problems except building more roadways (I'm a public transit person myself).

A preview of possible 'O2 issues - the comments at the end of this story:

"What Gilmore has done to the finances of this state is atrocious," said Russell MacInnis, a retired Montgomery County businessman who rallied in Christiansburg.

Carroll Montgomery, a retired mail carrier at the Fort Chiswell event, said he supports Warner because "he is a businessman and the state is one of the biggest businesses we have. What they did to the budget was a fiasco."

OK, still too early..
I think McCain would have deferred - after all, he's the guy who lost his bid for an executive office.