Shouting 'Cross the Potomac
but never a Monday morning quarterback
adrag1 at msn.com [until the QP server gets fixed]
willv at comcast.net
Virginia Pundit Watch Will Vehrs' Weekly Column at Bacon's Rebellion
DC Metro Blog Map
UVA Center for Politics and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Predictions 2002
Spinsanity - Countering rhetoric with reason
On the Third Hand
A blog by a proud member of the Bellicose Women's Brigade
Mark A. Kilmer's Political Annotation
A Nickles Worth of Free Advice
Where HipHop and Libertarianism meet
Note To Self
"Crash"'s way kewl blog
The Rallying Point
Mind Over What Matters
Off the Kuff
What She Really Thinks
Talking Points Memo
the talking dog
The Rittenhouse Review
The Lefty Directory
Common Sense and Wonder
Jim Miller on Politics
Croooow Blog: Rantings and ravings on the news of the day.
The Road to Surfdom
The Volokh Conspiracy
perfunctory links(We think it's "the Mother of links pages for news and pundit junkies" - eds)
Independent Gay Forum
Town Hall: Conservative News and Information - The Conservative Movement Starts Here
Saturday, November 17, 2001
Tony AdragnaOK, here it is folks, my review of the KFC/A&W concept - I don't have enough thumbs to express how I feel, but if I did, they would all be pointed down. PepsiCo just wanted to get it's mitts into the hamburger part of the fast food market (along with the fried chicken, taco, and pizza sidelines). I can forgive them for replacing the "drive-in" with a "drive-thru", but apart from the twinge of nostaligia at seeing the A&W logo displayed prominently, the experience was nothing akin to what I remember as a child.
The menu is where my problem started. NARY A PAPA BURGER IN SIGHT! Adding to my unfamiliarity with the new menu was the inclusion of the standard KFC fare. I almost broke down and ordered a three piece chicken meal. But, I was determined to give their burgers a try (hey, the names might've changed, but maybe the food is the same). So, I ordered a deluxe burger, and William ordered a double bacon cheeseburger and a chili dog (three meals w/lg sodas: $14.26). I started eating the fries on the way home in the car (I can't help it) - they were undercooked and limp. We got home and sorted the sandwiches - both were delux double bacon cheesburgers. I HATE CHEESEBURGERS!
We could've driven half the distance and gotten the same service at Micky D's
More on "franchise wars" in tomorrow's installment of From Left Field...
Will VehrsJust think, Tony--the counter person and cook that screwed up your double burger order were probably screening passengers at Dulles or BWI last week. Within a year, their manager will be working at the airport and they'll be in fast food management.
Can Aybody Build A "Bomb"
Tony AdragnaGlenn Reynolds, Rand Simberg, and Declan McCullagh, all point to an article in "The Daily Rotten" which debunks the reporting surrounding those "documents" found in Kabul. This is good news, indeed.
But, is the idea that somebody like bin Laden could build a "bomb" really so far fetched. No! While everybody is correct that the hardest part of the operation is obtaining the warhead materials, once that's done it's straighforward engineering. That's right: not physics, but engineering. All the "physics" has already been worked out, and is (for the most part) published. The problem with the study involving the physics students is that physicists don't build things. See, if you want something built, you give the job to an engineer.
Well, hold on a minute - the job isn't as hard as physicist might want to make it seem, but neither is it as easy as simply letting an engineer run with it. The only way to ensure that you have a working bomb is to test it. So, even if bin Laden's thugs had good plans, and the necessary materials, they would still be a long way off from a working bomb...
It's a Different World Now
Will VehrsTony, you slept in and I was bereft of ideas ....
I'd like to lay the lack of character education at the footsteps of teachers, but parents and guardians are the true culprits. A Bill Rumsey would be the most controversial teacher on campus today and would probably be in the Principal's office more often than bad students. Most parents won't give a teacher the respect and trust he/she needs to run a classroom properly. When I was growing up, the teacher was always right and my parents didn't want to hear that this or that was "unfair." The teacher isn't always right, of course, but the student isn't really equipped to handle challenging the teacher until late high school. Parents challenging the teachers just demonstrates to the student that the teacher isn't really in charge.
I hope this stimulates some debate in our forum. I know some of our readers are in education or have strong opinions on the subject. It would be great to hear from them.
I would agree, in part
Tony AdragnaI think the primary responsibility for character development is the parents'. But, I think that a BIG reason for the change in the way parents deal with teachers has to do with changes in education that were promulgated by teachers. Is it a coincidence that today's teachers and parents were educated in the '70s & '80s?
Another Exemplar for Today's Educators
Tony AdragnaGood morning Will (yes, I just woke up), Colbert King writes a stirring tribute to Bill Rumsey on the opinion page of today's WP. I think there was a lot more "character development" in schools - even public schools - at the time that Colbert attended Dunbar High School Put the lack of character development together with the emphasis on "technical" education (versus liberal arts and critical thinking) and I posit that this is where education in the U.S. has failed students.
To be fair, most school districts do have programs geared toward character development, or "citizenship education", but this shouldn't be a "program" - it should be part of what happens in every classroom. It used to be - why isn't it in today's schools? I hate to say that the problem is "teachers" - I had some exceptional teachers, as did Colbert - but teachers do run the classrooms, so I don't know where else to turn...
Friday, November 16, 2001
Prof. Reynolds "ID"s the real problem
Tony AdragnaNot that the idea of National ID cards needed any killing - it was DOA - but Glenn "InstaPundit" Reynold's current FOXNews column put's the hermetic seal on that nailed down coffin. Not only would a national ID card make us no safer: it could make us less safe. If people are going to put their faith in something that's just as suspect as the current ID system, then the exercise is destructive.
Besides, the whole damned scheme is impractical.
HP Saves the Economy
Tony AdragnaNo, I'm not talking about Hewlett-Packard... Paul Kangas' crew on Nightly Business Report talked about the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it's impact on the movie theatre business, and they mentioned some BIG numbers. (note: tonight's NBR transcript is not up yet)
Hey, remember, you heard it first at QuasiPundit back on Nov 11.
Oh! Wait a minute... Washington Week is on the tube (behind me - I'm listening). Somebody just made the same point that I've made several times in re Putin vis a vis the war on terrorism and a quid pro quo for Russia on Chechnya...
I hafta go read Glenn Reynolds latest FOX NEWS piece now... be back later with comments and the link...
Military Tribunal Conducts Secret Viewing of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
Will VehrsTony, I think some Harry Potter escapism this weekend will do everyone a world of good. This review is lukewarm, but who stays away from a true blockbuster because a film critic found fault? I might wait for your review ....
Last night I visited the Swift Creek Elementary School Book Fair and my daughter is now the proud owner of a Harry Potter secret code coloring book. The Harry Potter section was mobbed. J. K. Rowling and her Harry have done wonders for reading, as George Will notes--again--today.
Rita Kemply is a Muggle!
Tony AdragnaHey Will, I may be the only "unaccompanied adult" at the movies this weekend - I don't care, gotta see it! I've read all of the HP, books - I wonder if Ms. Kemply has? I usually don't enjoy seeing a movie after I've read the book, but Kemply's criticism has only convinced me that this is going to be another exception.
So, I'll go see HP this weekend, confident that nothing unexpected is going to happen out there in the wide world - and satisfied that I was more right than Safire (I love the headline "A Summit of Style Over Substance")...
Meet Me In Moscow
Will VehrsTony, you are bound and determined to prove your Russian analytical bona-fides. You would have made a great Sovietologist, divining policy from those annual pictures of Brezhnev and the boys reviewing the May Day troops. Your assessment of Putin was prescient and I hope Safire starts reading Quasipundit. I would only suggest that Putin will be more likely to make concessions when President Bush is on Russian soil, yucking it up with the Muscovites and plugging Putin's soul. Hardliners in Russia would have frowned on Putin making a deal after getting just grilled steak and country music. Watch for Bush's Russian visit to be the one where breakthrough agreements are announced and remember, you heard it here first.
Moscow has a "Micky D's"...
Tony Adragna... but does Moscow have an A&W. That's right - remember the A&W drive-in? (from a long time ago) Well, it's not a drive-in anymore, but somebody has opened a KFC/A&W franchise in Hyattsville. We're going there for dinner tonight - I hope they still have the "Papa Burger": I was never allowed to order one when I was little...
As for Putin, I think everybody is all wrong - it's the other way around. He's not "making mean" with his hardliners at home in order to appease them: he's "making nice" with us in order to make us happy. Dime to a donut that when they meet in Russia Mr. Putin is gonna make his "da means nyet" style of talk perfectly clear to anybody willing to listen...
Thursday, November 15, 2001
For the Record
Tony AdragnaHey, Will! I've had a little bit to say recently about the "military tribunal" notion, and lest everyone begins to think that I'm fully in favor of whatever Mr. Bush has in mind, let me disabuse you of that thought. I just read the Executive Order, and it's certainly not what I had in mind when I spoke in defense (as I'm about to again) of "militatry courts."
Let me first pick up the ball from where I dropped it this morning - Judge Napolitano's comments from last night. I can't find a transcript, but I can paraphrase that with which I took exception: a) military tribunals are OK for members of the military because they give up constitutional rights when they join, and b) the failure to aknowledge that these particular terrorists are in fact at war with us.
The first line is one that's often been recited, but it's just plain old wrong. Members of the military retain all of their constitutional rights - they merely agree to a code of conduct that restricts the exercise thereof. "What's the difference?" you ask. The difference is in what the government can do to you for violating the code when it touches on "constitutional rights". The fact is that when members of the military are "punished" for "protected exercises", the punishment most often involves either a mild reprimand, or separation from the service - either of which can be career destroying, but neither of which could be considered an "infringement" on individual rights. Why? Because the punishment is for breaking the code, not the exercise of the protected right.(it might still be unclear, but I don't know how else to say it)
The second point goes to my earlier caution that what I envision as "military trials for terrorists" should only be applicable in cases where persons have declared themselves to be "at war" with us. If that is their claim, then they aren't civilians, and ought be subject to the laws of war. Reading Mr. Bush's order, I'm left with the impression that he has come to the same conclusion. Judge Napolitano's point is moot, unless he insists that the people belong to an actual army before they can be judged under military law - if that's the case, then he should also have problems with the use of our military to fight against the Taliban, which is really just a band of thugs claiming to be an army.
Having said all that, now I can say that I very much oppose the EO as Mr. Bush has constructed it. There's absolutely no reason that a normal military court, under normal procedures for military trials, can't handle these cases. What Mr. Bush proposes does, very much, seem like a "kangaroo court." My only hope is that the professional military officers charged with conducting these trials adhere to their code - if they resist the efforts to totally dispense with what normally passes for rules at law , then we can still walk away from the ordeal without looking stupid. I would still rather have the type of tribunal that I envisioned.
A Compromise Only Congress Could Love?
Will VehrsTony, I'm happy Congress reached a compromise on airport security, but it sure sounds "back-asswards" to me. Everybody goes Federal, then some airports can go back to private, and then even more can? I sure would have thought they'd have gotten Federal employees into some of the bigger airports first, then decided if and when to expand it everywhere else.
I hope it works.
Looks Like the 2001 Tax Package
Tony AdragnaGuess what Will, the "Federalizers" have won the day. Once airport screening is federalized, let's see how easy it's gonna be for those airports to get rid of the federal screeners. Kinda like the "sunsets" in the previous tax bill... he he he
He's So Smart
Tony AdragnaI just read Sandy Berger's piece on Putin - exactly what I've been trying to say. Of course, Berger says it more convincingly than me...
Also, Richard Cohen's bit on Ashcroft is an eye opener - Ashcroft supporters beating up on Ashcroft? Judge Napolitano really got my heart racing last night when I heard him lambasting the military tribunal idea (I think it was on FOX). I disagree with the Judge in part - but he made some valid points. If I can find a link to the transcript I'll post it.
Berger With Surprise
Will VehrsSandy Berger's essay does do a good job of analyzing Putin's underlying motives in pursuing an alliance of sorts with President Bush and the US. One thing Berger doesn't cover in detail are the political moves Putin must make at home to maintain his popularity and support. Sometimes those appear to conflict with his signals to the US, but he has to walk a fine line with Russian "hawks and doves." We have to forgive some of that, or understand why he must maintain some semblance of the old Soviet-style bluster for effect.
It's nice to see Berger slipping into the "establishment" foreign policy mentality, as opposed to being reduced to just a defender of past Clinton policy moves. Foreign policy politics are much more civil in tone and shaded in differences than domestic politics. While that sometimes eliminates truly innovative policy options, it does offer a certain stabilizing foreign policy predictability to the world.
As for Richard Cohen, I think he is overstating the support he's offered to Ashcroft in the past to make his criticism seem more grounded in principle. I suspect the military tribunal order will be a major topic in next week's Punditwatch. Cohen has weighed in and William Safire blasted the idea in today's New York Times. I don't think too many pundits will be supportive; support will come from op-ed pieces by the likes of Doug Kmiec of Catholic University, who has one in today's Wall Street Journal. Kmiec, of course, will be denounced as a right wing apologist, but I think both sides have a compelling case to make. I come down on having the option of using a tribunal. When Rumsfeld issues his guidelines will be the time to debate the issue.
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Who's Gonna Save Them From Themselves
Tony AdragnaA little news about an Army, but this one isn't fighting in Afghanistan. Anybody who remembers the flap that arose over Mr. Bush's desire to exempt religious organizations from state & local non-descrimination policies should also remember what prompted the flap - a telephone call from the Salvation Army. Well, they're at it again, but this time the dispute is internecine.
It seems that the Saly's Western Division took some direct mail verbiage literally, and decided to begin offering domestic partner benefits, but the National Office quickly shot that down. Hey, if they want to discriminate, they oughta just be honest about it - doesn't really bother me, I patronize Goodwill instead.
Just so everbody understands: I don't think there should be any attempts to force the Salvation Army, especially through government action, to not discriminate. But, that's a two way street - it they want to discriminate, then they shouldn't expect government money (i.e. the "faith based initiative").
A Bit of Ridicule...
Tony AdragnaHey Will, I'm glad Michael Kelly's piece got a mention in today's Punditwatch. I read the piece on the train home - uproariously funny (if the aisle hadn't been packed I would've been rolling in it).
The only thing that could've prompted a bigger laugh (if it wasn't so serious) was Jim Wallis' piece. He seems to think that we're going about this war all wrong - wants a "return to the path of restraint that marked the first weeks of our response to the attacks." Doesn't he realize that all those things he wants - an end to the slaughter of innocents, feeding the starving, JUSTICE - can only come about by winning the war! The prior "path" still had the Taliban in control, execising their brutal form of Islamic law. He cites the deaths of civilians, but does he even consider all the Afghan deaths at the hands of the Taliban? Does he consider the fact that killing off the Taliban is the only way to ensure that humanitarian supplies (food) get to starving Afghans? And, what's with the continued call for "justice" that keeps popping up out of the religious arm of the peacenik movement? Haven't they ever heard of "just war"? 'Tis a good thing these people never prevail, else we'd all be "good li'l Nazis" right now (NOT! I've known a few peaceniks who became hawks after witnessing brutality firsthand).
Anyway, our readers are looking for "culture" - did you see the Jackson reunion the other night? I didn't [want to] see it, that would've taken time out of my online porn viewing! Don't know anything 'bout what exists between the two coasts, either - 'less, you wanna talk about the time I spent in Meridian, Mississippi (hated it), or the week that I spent in Beeville, TX (not as bad, but..).. Maybe I'll give evreybody a little "culture" vis a vis my review of Harry Potter (soon as I get to see it).
Anyway, I have loads to do before I settle down for my favourite TV drama tonight - yes folks, I'm a West Wing fan (maybe someday before I leave this miasmal swamp that we call our nation's capitol I just might finally make that White House tour)...
Tony, You May Have to be the Culture Guy
Will VehrsTony, I recently mentioned my cultural "blind spots." One that surprises people I know is that I have never watched one minute of the West Wing. I can't explain it ... I guess reality is enough for me. As Imus frequently says, "you can't make this stuff up." Oh, I didn't see the Jackson Reunion, but I won't claim that as a cultural blind spot.
Still, I think our kind reader is on to something. I suspect we will tackle cultural subjects and issues on occasion. Your From Left Field essays will probably touch on them from time to time. If you'll be our "left coast" specialist, I'll take the Midwest and Deep South.
Enjoy the show!
A Clean-Shaven, Music-Accompanied Punditwatch Has Just Been Posted!
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
I Told you I'm Psychic
Tony AdragnaThere are two bits of the "fall of Kabul" story with which I take exception: a) the Alliance didn't "capture" Kabul, as some in the press have been reporting - it changed hands after the Taliban ran away, there was no resistence for the NA to "up with put", and b) I called it...
Well, really I didn't. I was merely observing a fact recited in a column by Jefferson Penberthy on Oct 4:
Myth 2: The moujahedeen took Kabul from Najibullah - Militarily, they did not. Hopelessly divided along ethnic lines, they barely touched Kabul until Najibullah's tough Uzbek militia under Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum revolted over a pay and promotions dispute. In April 1992, the moujahedeen arrived in Kabul with hardly a shot fired except for endless volleys of "happy fire."
What our bombing did, besides killing alot of pro-Taliban Afghans, was to induce a "division" within the Taliban. Naijibullah's regime couldn't get it together because of all the ethnic divisions - the Taliban can't get it together right now because we've destroyed their ability to, well, get together. Reports are that the various commands within Taliban territory can't even communicate with each other.
Hey, it's still a victory! Now the Afghans need to get around "Myth 4" somehow. Maybe we can help, maybe not - bin Laden and his thugs are still our primary concern...
Tony AdragnaI just looked in The Forum, Will, and had a great laugh. If a-z were here, then I'm sure an answer to the question that you, Joe, and Arthur were throwing around would have shown up by now. Good thing that I know the answer. Look at the definition of Euclidean geometry! (get it now?) That's one change that would have a great impact upon me - I don't take dates across the Potomac, but I might consider changing that rule.
You know, we still have a few "state stores" here in Maryland (I'm pretty sure it's actually the counties that run them), and no liqour sales on Sundays (I never knew what a "blue law" was - silliest damn things). You can buy beer and wine on Sunday, so I haven't been pushing too hard for change. Besides, the bars are open, and the booze is flowin', so you can still get a "shot".
I think I'm gonna have to read Hinkle regularly, I like the way he thinks...
Somebody that I'm still trying to stay away from (unsuccessfully) is Krauthammer. Did you read his column today? Sheesh - is there any way to make this guy happy? The scary thing (for me) is that I agree with every word...
Imus and Krauthammer
by Will VehrsTony, of course I read Krauthammer this morning ... Punditwatch gets up really, really early just for that kind of red meat. Poor Charles ... with Post headlines screaming that the Northern Alliance was in Kabul, his column was urging Bush to unleash them for that purpose. Imus or some wag on his show said that since the Alliance doesn't listen to Bush, he should warn them not to attack Bagdad. The folks in Kabul looked pretty happy to see the invaders, didn't they?
Who knew that our Forum would turn into a rollicking A. Barton Hinkle comedy routine--who's on Euclid? Tony, if you should date across the Potomac before our quaint laws are changed, you might want to keep Arthur Stock's office number handy. It's always good to have a Philadelphia lawyer.
I grew up in Prince William County, VA, a "dry" county. There was a little store just over the Fairfax County line, "The Shopping Bag," that did a brisk business during those times, but it folded up quick when Prince William began allowing off-premises beer and wine sales. I remember the "blue laws" well, too.