Shouting 'Cross the Potomac

barstool philosopher,
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but never a Monday morning quarterback

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Saturday, November 24, 2001 is Up & Runnin"
Tony Adragna
Notice any changes? Well, the "content" portion of QuasiPundit et al is still "Powered by Blogger", and housed at the ol' "blogspot", but we here at "the Quas" are trying to get our act together in re this thingy - well, I finaly got it "quasi"-together: check out, our new "home" page.

You'll still get our "breakfast tabley" stuff right here on this page, renamed "Shouting 'Cross the Potomac", and the same with our other content. But, we hope to ween ourselves away from reliance on third party providers for some of our enhancements, and maybe even ween ourselves away from the "blogspot" someday. Hey, just getting me to build the simple little homepage was difficult enough - even though I was using the same basic template...

"Wrinklies whinge at Government..."
Tony Adragna
That's the title of a delightful item on Natalie Solent's blog. Got me nostaligic for that old codger from Wyoming - Senator Simpson. I love the way he takes down the AARP, and yells at American youth to wake the hell up at the same time.

Sure, I'm a registered Democrat, but I would've voted for Simpson if I had ever the chance...

Where Have All the Codgers Gone?
Will Vehrs
Quick, Tony, name a "character" who's been elected to the Senate in the last ten years. It sure seems to me that the Alan Simpsons of the Senate are not replaced with irascible, plain speaking originals, but with with blow-dried, sound-byte spouting Stepfords. Once you get past John McCain and the Super Senior Brigade--Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, and Fritz Hollings--I can't think of a male Senator with a personality. Well, maybe Ted Kennedy, but even he's subdued these days. On the distaff side, there isn't a Senator with 1/10 of the personality of an Ann Richards. Now I don't know if it's good or bad to not have "characters" in the Senate, but it sure isn't all that interesting.

Tony Adragna
Thanks for the HP essay this morning, Will - I think that's the first thing I've read by Stuever, but I'll have my eyes open from now on. We're planning on going to see HP "toomorrow", we had other business today.

Well, North Pole Station is well under construction (no union labor, of course - don't need it when you've got the world's best Chrsitmas elf - ME). I hope we get snow this year...

You know, the smartest thing that the administration could do in re the terrorists being held in Espana is to let Senor Garzon handle them - that man really gets off on going after thugs, and their legal system might be better able to deal with these thugs (saving us the need to compromise our own legal traditions).OTOH, if we agree to try the thugs in our federal district courts ((preferably the district that covers New York City), and the Spanish turn them over without making a fuss over the death penalty, then we still get what we want. People might still worry about "secrets", but that's really a red herring - courts have dealt with this type of sensitive issue in the past, and they're perfectly able to now. Those who argue that these guys "might get off" are naifs - I'm pretty confident that a prosecutor would have no problem finding a "hangin' jury"... if the spectre of "military tribunls" hadn't been raised, then you're quite right about the thornier death penalty issue...

Of course, if those thugs hadn't murdered so many of our citizens, then we wouldn't be having this discussion at all...

The Potter Backlash Begins: Tony, Are You a Dweeb?
Will Vehrs
I was wondering if another Harry Potter backlash would appear. When the J. K. Rowling books first became all the rage, a counterspin emerged, worrying about exposing children to the occult. Now, after a record-breaking week at the movies, this Washington Post essay warns:

America, your kids have become major dweebs . . . What to do with a nation of little nerds running around with capes and wands? Should we be more concerned? Is there a coolness shortage coming?

Yes. Kids who are this self-satisfied and fairy-tale-obsessed cannot be good news for the future of angry art, biting comedy or radical politics. Worse, it could foretell a spoiled-brat pandemic: The Harry Potter phenomenon is a symptom of what happens when every child is told that he or she is very special.

Tony, I hope you read this hilarious send-up before you trudge out to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and write the long-awaited Quasipundit review. But heed this warning at the end of the essay:

The next grown-up caught promoting Harry Potter to the rest of us better be ready to meet outside, after school, by the playground fence. Harry Potter is about a lot of things, and most of all he's about needing his butt kicked.

Just a Thought On Tribunals
Will Vehrs
Spain is refusing to extradite eight suspected terrorists unless they are guaranteed civilian trials in the US, according to this New York Times front page story.
Some might see this as a slap at President Bush's Military Tribunal order and it is--but maybe that's the carefully crafted idea. Extraditing criminal suspects from Europe is always difficult--think Ira Einhorn, the Philadelphia murderer who escaped to France--and one might think that the Military Tribunal order just makes it worse. But if the President waives a Military Tribunal, Spain in this case will appear to have "won" an important concession (good for domestic consumption) while giving the US what it really wants--terrorist suspects. Without a tribunal to negotiate, Spain would argue other peripheral issues before agreeing to extradite the suspects. That could take much longer.

Bizarre? Yes, but I think a lot of strange dealing and apparent double-dealing is the currency of diplomacy.

Friday, November 23, 2001
Update 12:15 a.m. 11/24/01
She's either stupid, ignorant, or
she oughta be ASHAMED!
Tony Adragna
I said I was gonna stay away from politics today, but another item about military tribunals that I picked up on from Liberty Blog got me very riled. Read these words from Mona Charen and tell me what you think:

"To suggest that terrorists should receive the full panoply of constitutional protections American citizens enjoy when accused of crimes is preposterous. Our own soldiers receive military justice when they transgress. Shall our enemies get something more?" (emphasis added - read the full item at )

What Charen is doing is suggesting that "our own soldiers" who face "military justice" are getting "something less" than their normal constitutional protections at trial - NOT TRUE!!! I'll say it again - the "military tribunals" envisioned by Mr. Bush are NOTHING AKIN to the "military justice" that our servicemembers are subject to - in fact, the EO sets forth something that's hardly akin to justice (morally and philosophically, yes - I have no qualms with the idea of bin Laden being summarily executed -, but not a justice that's consistent with our legal traditions)

It would be better to kill these guys on the battlefield, where we would at least have the benefit of claiming that they were still combatants... In any event, I simply wish that the ignorami would stop talking about what the EO calls for as if it's on par with normal notions of military justice - it isn't. I'm gonna email her write now and tell her so...

Give Her Hell, Tony!
Will Vehrs
Woe unto the pundit who disses the UCMJ with you! Mona's wrong and I'll be interested to see if she responds to your email. I always liked her when she was on the pundit shows, although I never thought she was too deep.

A point of reference
Tony Adragna
Just so we all understand that what the President has done is allowed under US Code : Title 10, Section 836. I think that the rules Mr. Bush has prescribed are bad rules, and I'll argue that ad infinitum. But, it's just plain ol' wrong for everybody to be claiming that these rules are normal, since the same code section prefers, where practicable, "the principles of law and the rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United States district courts...", which rules are normally observed in military courts.

OK, I'll Adhere to the No-Politics Zone
Will Vehrs
Tony, I hate all non-grocery shopping and after Kinsley's article I hate it even more. Me, look around for a K-Mart employee to slap an "instant" discount on my purchase? I don't think so. I will admit to being very anal about coupons and rebates--I hate someone thinking that I, after going through the torture of shopping, would be deterred by collecting 7 pieces of paper and a secret code to qualify for a rebate in the mail.

No X-mas tree for us yet, but I will be travelling to a colleague's house Saturday to borrow her "ladder of reknown," an amazing contraption that will allow me to safely put the icicle lights on the house according to the Christmas Fuhrer's directives. Yes, one-half of my family unit is dedicated to excessive Christmas decorating, although we still aren't close to qualifying for the Richmond Times-Dispatch's "Tacky House Tour." You have to have at least 10,000 lights just to be considered. We have, however, twice in the past five years made the development's "Holiday House" tour. As I'm dropping light clips that are in short supply on the ground from 30 feet up, that little green sign we might get in our yard for being a "Holiday House" really motivates me.

What I like about Christmas, aside from making my kids happy, is what we do at work. We draw names, then buy a toy we think our chosen person would have liked as a kid. It's a great way to send coded messages to co-workers, or just a good way to get laughs. After we open the gifts and yuck it up, we take them to a charity for distribution.

I trust we're still going to get a full-blown review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, right? I'd have written a review of the last movie I saw--Mulholland Drive--but I didn't understand a minute of it. I'm off to have a piece of pumpkin and a piece of coconut custard pie, delightfully left over from last night's feast ....

Malls, Balls, & Choo Choos
Tony Adragna
Welcome home, Will!

I like Cracker Barrel, too, but I didn't know that they have restaurants - those fried pork chops look scrumptious.

Speaking of shopping, did you read Mike Kinsley's latest? See, the reason why I don't do a lot of shopping is because I don't value items the same way that retailers do. I always figure that anything they're willing to sell for 50% off is probably only worth half of that - and probably only cost a tenth to produce. (OK, I'm being hyperbolic - I'm allowed)

We gotta go get "the tree" on the way home from Harry Potter tomorrow. That's another of our holiday traditions - decorating the tree over the Thanksgiving weekend. I dug out all of the balls today, and most of them are missing their hooks (it happens every year: where do they go? Maybe the same place that missing socks go to). Normally the outside doesn't get decorated for another week, but we just looked out the window and saw that the people cross the street are trying to get a head start this year, so we're gonna do that this weekend, too (just a little friendly competition between us - last year we overheard them praying for us to blow a fuse: We got circuit breakers!).

I like to go see the choo choos at the malls. City Place Mall in Silver Spring, MD usually has a good choo choo set up, as does Union Station. We can't set up the choo choos (we have two sets) around our tree because Kitty Dakkar swats at the locomotive, and Jade "the Scottish Terror" chews on the rest.

I finished cleaning up today - the crystal and the Blue Willow China all have to be hand washed ( actually, everything has to be hand washed - no mechanical dishwasher). I didn't feel like doing it last night... where was I going... oh, while I was putting dishes away I found more "lost" food - A pecan (pronounced puh-cawn, not pee-can) pie, and a bottle of Manischewitz Cream Peach. So, as I'm sitting here writing I'm also eatin' a slice of pie, sippin' from an old fashioned glass, and getting a warm feeling inside...

Haven't been able to think "politics" today. I wouldn't even have started on education if I hadn't read Christopher's blog - it's his fault.

Post-Turkey Discussion are the Best
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm finally back at my own trusty computer after the little Thanksgiving sojourn in the Tar Heel state. I drove by a mall that had plenty of parking spaces available, but the Cracker Barrel restaurant/store in Chester, VA, was jam-packed at 3PM. My wife loves that place, especially around Christmas with all its holiday decorations.

I see that you started an excellent discussion on undergraduate education that continued in the Forum with some insightful observations by Joe Britt. I think the two of you have it nailed. My experience has been that business people with a good grounding in liberaI arts are head and shoulders above those with narrower backgrounds. I agree that Christopher's Liberty Blog that got you started on the topic is a great site and I was pleased to see my old News Quiz friend Dan Dickinson leave two posts. The Fray legend a-z had a good suggestion for Punditwatch in the Forum, too.

I've got a load in the washer and some catching up to do before I start my pundit weekend with the News Hour. I'll check back to see what other dialogs result from post-turkey reflection.

What's wrong with Western Civ?
Tony Adragna
Good morning!

Christopher Pellerito at Liberty Blog correctly points out that the problem with undergrad education at our elite universities isn't so much the fault of PC and multiculteralism - "the more likely culprit is the simple fact that these elite schools are totally disinterested in educating undergrads." The reason, of course, is that educating undergrads doesn't bring in the Big Bucks.

I'll take Christopher's point a step further - many students find those Liberal Arts/Humanities subjects totally irrelevant to their educations. I mean, how often does a discussion of Western Civ come up during staff meetings at those Fortune 500 companies?

Well, I'd rather be a great man (sorry, I just hafta point o him as often as I can), than a rich man (though, he's not all that bad). I wouldn't mind being both, though.

BTW, I like Christopher's blog, check it out (he also said nice things about us in the guest book, and gave Punditwatch a plug)...

Thursday, November 22, 2001
I made the right choice...
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, Glenn says I shoulda cooked the lamb, I'm glad I didn't cook the lamb. Turns out that only one of our guests bothered to show up, and she mentioned that she doesn't like lamb. That's OK, we'll cook the lamb on Sunday and there'll be more for me.

OY! I'm stuffed- turkey, ham, mac&cheese, candied yams, sweet potato pie, green beans, stuffing, croisants (ok, crescent rolls). Then, as I was putting things away in the "kelvinator" I found the deviled eggs and potato salad - we cooked so much that I lost track of some items: go figure.

Such a holiday! What a country! Pass the Pepto...

I'm slightly disappointed that we didn't get more guests. It's been our tradition to invite friends who don't have family in the area, as our friends did with us when we first arrived. I'm thankful for my "family"...

Clean-Up Duty: The Thanksgiving Downside

Will Vehrs

Tony, sounds like your meal went really well. Congratulations! You shouldn't have to cook again this weekend, right?

The first-ever fried turkey in our family was quite excellent. It only took 50 minutes and change to cook a 17# bird. My brother-in-law really outdid himself with the side dishes, too. Since I had been useless all day, I was drafted to help my nephew with the clean-up. Thanksgiving isn't all glory.

Guess it's back to politics as usual tomorrow . . . .

Something else to be thankful for...
Tony Adragna
...people who write things like "Afghanistan Christmas Carol" - here are the opening stanzas:

"Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Land,
They're running like rabbits in Afghanistan,
Osama's been praying, he's down on his Knees,
He's hoping that Allah will hear all his Pleas.
He thought if he killed us that we'd fall and Shatter,
But all that he's done is just make us Madder.
We ain't yet forgotten our Marines in Beirut,
And we'll kick your butt, with one heavy Boot...." (read the whole thing here)

Thank God, RCA, and William & Jason...
Tony Adragna
... for the downstairs T.V.. I would've really hated to miss "Miracle on 34th Street" on AMC this morning.

I have a few minutes to sit down right now - all of the cooking that can be done is done, and everything else is prepped to go. The turkey was done at 2 a.m., all I gotta do is put it back in the oven when I'm ready to warm the Princess Anne Spiral Sliced Ham (thanks to those people at Smithfield ). Decided not to do the lamb - one person cancelled on us, and Jason got called into work (he one of those "government employees" who works in Virginia - thnks for people like him), so it's just gonna be four of us for dinner.

Only small disasters here - William forget to buy marhmallows for the candied yams, and he forgot the wine, too (thanks for Tick Tock Liquors - open 365 days a year).

Since you're having pumpkin pie, Will, please eat a piece for me, and I'll eat a piece of sweet potato pie for you... thanks...


Will Vehrs

Tony, you must really be busy with the cooking. Being a guest here at my sister's home, there's not much for me to help with (maybe they don't trust me!), so I'm a bit restless. I tried to stay away from the call of the blog, but just couldn't resist.

Took a brisk walk in the cold air with my sister and her two exuberant beagles first thing. Breakfast was wonderful ... my brother-in-law whipped up garlic bread loaves with sliced tomatoes, cheese, and bacon or sausage. My two nieces and my daughter set up an art museum with a 5 cent admission and ticket stubs with numbers for a prize drawing. I was the lucky winner of a pencil drawing of two Britney Spears wannabes rocking out under a disco ball.

Life is good. Between your essay and the thankful musings of Instapundit, there's not much I can add on the subject of Thanksgiving. I just hope everyone is enjoying family and food, with appreciative thoughts for our public servants who must work today and, of course, for our servicemen and servicewomen fighting a just war and supporting peace in faraway lands.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001
What's to be "thankful" for...
Tony Adragna
Every year at Thanksgiving time I recall all of the happenings of the year just passed, I ponder their significance in my life, and yes, I give thanks. This year was an eventful one, and I'm hard pressed to say, "gee, I'm grateful for this." So, what's to be thankful for this year?...(more at From Left Field)

Smoke 'em If You Got 'em

Will Vehrs

Tony, I survived Mrs. Hughes' party as the turkey leg pasting assistant at the Thanksgiving centerpiece station, then had a pleasant 2.5 hour drive to Wake Forest, NC along I-85. Traffic wasn't bad at all and everyone is well. My brother-in-law will be frying the turkey this year--a first for all of us.

Rush Limbaugh was on the radio as I cruised through Southside Virginia--the only topic was the new smoking law! I should have known Quasipundit would be all over it. I am not a smoker and don't like smoke, but I respect smokers' rights and think the lawsuits against the tobacco companies are ridiculous. This nanny-state "no smoking in the neighborhood" law is rightly the subject of derision.

Happy cooking, Tony!

Take another drag...
Tony Adragna
Ray Eckhart writes:

"Mr. Adragna,
As the only Blogger I'm aware of that has admitted that he still (even guiltily) smokes, I'm hoping you can start something to give these guys the "Berkeley Treatment".

I am only 6 months into a quit smoking program, and I've been this far multiple times. I don't allow smoking in the B&B, except on the porch and outside.

I still own my Condo in Rockville, and pay $40.00 a year for Landlord/Tenant affairs. Every time I get a new tenant, there's a $100-$200 cost associated with lead-paint abatement/proof, or something. Now they want to impose extra costs associated with a tenant, who might actually partake of a completely legal, if smelly habit, and they even go on to say most of the problem can be alleviated by "opening a window". I'm sure it will be illegal to "discriminate" against a "smoker" as a tenant, probably because he has the "disability" of "nicotine addiction."

Aren't there more important things to worry about, than 2nd hand smoke in peoples homes?

I was hoping to see a lessening of the Nanny State, as a result of more important considerations. Maybe the county council should be asking questions and doing something about Al Queda cells in Silver Spring, rather than worrying about 2nd hand smoke."

Hey, I caught that story in the Post, then commented on it - before I saw your email. If I had seen this mail first, then I mighta hit the subject a little harder ...

I did previously mention the Friendship Hghts idiocy (my comments there should suffice, and I'm not gonna repeat myself), which was estopped by a judge only on grounds that the village didn't have authority to pass such a law (remember, they wanted to ban smoking even on public sidewalks). A "competent authority" (the county council) has acted now, so a court challenge may result in a definitive settlement of the issue this time around. There is also an added dimension to this case: liability to third parties - the landlords.

I'm not sure that a "Berkely style" action would work here - my only hope would be to get the protesty type folks in Takoma Park riled up, but I don't think that they would find the "smokers' cause" something to get the coals hot over.

Yes, there are more important things that the county council should be worried about...

BTW, I'm an unapologetic smoker...

Blowing Smoke
Tony Adragna
Happy T Day Will (OK, it's a day early, but I'll be cooking all day tomorrow - and probably most of tonight)...

Maybe I better retact my support for Doug Duncan - did you see what the Montgomery County Council is up to now in re smoking? Doesn't surprise me, though. I may neeed to redo all of my old Mediteranean speciality dishes as well...

I also picked up on an LAT story that The Rallying Point commented on regarding immigrant landlords discriminating in favor of member of their own ethnic group. I agree with the comments, this isn't a good thing. But, there's a lack of understanding of our immigrant history over there at The Rallying Point - the truth is that immigrants have tended to stick to ethinc neighborhoods, assimilation coming only after a generation or more, and in some instances assimilation never happens. I'm ambivalent about ehtnic communities (the "old neighborhoods" ) - they're a great resource for newly arrived immigrants, but they can also be the source of problems in the larger community.

I trust that everything went well in Mrs. Hughes' First Grade Class - better thee than me.

We do have much to be thankful for, even in trying times we Americans are much better off than people in a lot of other places. I'll try to address this topic in tomorrows "mini-essay"...

Turkey Getaway Day Punditwatch
Will Vehrs
The Wednesday edition of Punditwatch, covering a week of print pundit highlights, has been posted.

Later this morning I'll be working the Thanksgiving Party in Mrs. Hughes' First Grade Class. I'm not sure if I'll be at the macaroni necklace making station or the turkey centerpiece making station, but I'll be there, wearing an old "Turkey Trot" t-shirt from a long ago race (I don't have a Pilgrim or Native American costume). Around one I'll be leaving for Wake Forest, NC, to enjoy Thanksgiving at my my youngest sister's home. Her family, my mother, and my other sister will also be there, 10 people in all. I should be able to log in from there and monitor the latest news and, of course, the spiraling blog feud between the Instas and the Quasis ....

My only observation from last night, Tony, was regarding the reference to Chief Justice Roger Taney, he of Dred Scott infamy. One bad or difficult decision doesn't seem to tar a jurist as much as a politician. Chief Justice Earl Warren, icon of civil liberties, for example, was instrumental in the internment of Japanese in California during WWII. We have to look at the whole of a person's life and understand the tenor of the times before we pass judgement. I suspect that the Military Tribunal order, if it is ever used, will look differently 50 years later.

A happy Thanksgiving to all. We have much to be thankful for during these difficult times. May the turkey be moist, the gravy smooth, and the pumpkin pie plentiful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Quasi Trials
Tony Adragna
Speaking of lawyers - I wasn't going to bring this up again, but I was just visiting Cal's blog and he points to an article by Jacob Sullum in Reason. I have to point out that while Sullum makes a good case against the the scheme put forth in the Executive Order, he still fails where everybody else has failed - distinguishing the objectionable concept from what normally passes for military justice. I wish that some of the media "big boys" would echo the point I'm making here - there's absolutely nothing objectionable about military justice. What's objectionable is the way in which Mr. Bush's scheme makes a mockery of "justice", and leads people to believe that this might be ordinary in our military. It'a a corruption of "military justice" - as a veteran, I object.

Sullom also points to a precedent, and Justice Murphy's comments. OK, Justice Murphy was in the dissent, but dissenting opinions are still citeable. I'd like to take a crack at another precedent that's been cited throughout this debate - Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, and the use of military commissions in that war. People who cite history ought to cite the full history: Lincoln got away with suspending habeas corpus by ignoring Chief Justice Taney (the case was Ex parte Merryman). Lincoln eventually went ot Congress to get the authority, and so the dispute was mooted The relevance here arises from Mr. Bush's "no appeal" verbiage, which treads all over judicial traditions, and arguably infringes on some powers normally reserved to Congress. It''ll be interesting to see how this Court and this Congress would respond to an appeal.

Of course, this whole debate will probably be mooted by the fact that the Order will never be executed. But, aren't these questions still worth looking at?

Update 11:30 PM I've been checking in on (John Paul McCord, III aka "crash" - way kewl blog - he calls, my "From Left Field" writing "mini-essays", which I take as a compliment: most essayist have a habit of repeating things using different verbiage just to fill space. If I can't say it in less than ten column inches, then it aint worth my time saying). Anyway, he takes up a defense of Lincoln and Bush on the premise of the "Prerogative Theory". Several problems here - The Framers intended "checks & balances", another of Locke's concepts. Also, it's hard to make the case that Lincoln settled the question of "prerogative", as my above recitation of the dispute was meant to explicate...

What Kinda Rice?
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, Glenn musta been reading a Tom Clancy novel - Rice as VP would be too much of a "Jack Ryan" story. Don't get me started on who the Republican "ticket" should be in '04: THEY read QuasiPundit, and I don't want my caucus accussing me of having given the victory to the other guys. Besides, I'm still rootin' for that Brown fella from California.

Glenn also had some things to say in defense of the ARC (basically echoing comments in The Forum, but I liked what the WaPo had to say . Hey, I truly understand all of the stuff that Glenn and our reader are saying, however, the ARC got itself into trouble on this one - they made the plea to America; they set up he "ostensible" fund; they, by their omission of some "details", led Americans to believe something that wasn't true. To make matters worse, this isn't the first time they've done the very same thing! Most people are very choosey about who they donate money to: I suspect that a lot of people are going to think twice aboute donating to the ARC again, and that's a bad thing. But, the ARC made it's own bed...

Don't ask me about who should be on my party's ticket in '04 - THEY read QuasiPundit, too, so if I say "Gore", and he loses, I'll be blamed (don't need the "Ragin Cajun" bad mouthin; me).

Back to Rice for a minute - I got Willaim really good last night. "Hey William, do you like Rice?" I asked, knowing full well that he doesn't like "rice". When he said "NO!", I turned it around on him... (I can be an annoying little pest sometimes, hee hee hee).

Oh, and I just remembered why I don't like Rice - she taught at Stanford. I'm a Cal Bears fan myself. I worked for the Sports Information Director at Berkeley the year that Berkeley's band beat Stanford. Carl Lewis was a REAL BIG NAME back then, too.

Well, I just got home, let me watch the news and I'll be back with somethin' later...

p.s. does Glenn get a "special citizenship award" for his comments on the Airline Security Bill?

Picking Fights
Will Vehrs
Welcome home, Tony. Hope you don't want to fire me for my dust-ups with Instapundit while I held down the fort unsupervised. You can't say I don't take the "big boys." I disagree with Glenn's view of the Airline Security Bill, too. I think I said before that it was a "trap" for Bush. By that I meant that if Federal employees screw up, or turn out to be sullen and incompetent, it'll be Bush's government that's in trouble, not Democrats. Maybe small government Republicans can make some "hay" if that happens, but their answer will be to use the privitization feature that kicks in after two years. That will have problems, too, so we'll be in a continuous cycle of blame and changeovers. That won't reflect well on the party in power.

If it's any consolation, I'm probably closer to Glenn's position on the Red Cross than yours. Luckily, he's in some Nashville bar right now, probably drinking and jamming with some top-notch musicians. "Quasi what?"

Pundit Blog Skirmish: Insta v. Quasi
Will Vehrs
Instapundit is defending Condoleeza Rice as the best choice for Bush's running mate in '04, unswayed by this half of Quasipundit's analysis. Hey, Glenn--I'm a shameless booster of Ms. Rice. I'm already working on campaign slogans for her: Rice is Right; Rice is Nice; Condoleeza, She'll Please Ya, etc. I'd love for her to run for elective office. I merely pointed out that other prospective candidates might have an advantage over her, assuming Cheney steps down. We don't even know if she would want/take the job. With her aplomb, I'm sure she'd be great on the stump and along the rope line. Colin Powell? He could be VP right now and, had he run with Bush, I don't think Florida would have mattered. He's never going to get another shot unless he runs for President on his own.

Instapundit also doesn't think much of Gore's new job, although his grounds are not the same that I used to call it a good career move. Sure, the job is a bit shady, but no more so than any "rainmaker" in law, finance, or consulting. Let the poor guy make some big bucks like everybody else ....

Tuesday Tidbits
Will Vehrs
Cal Ulmann doesn't think much of my suggestion that Tom Ridge might be a more likely Bush running mate in '04 than Instapundit and Ulmann choice Condoleeza Rice. He didn't mention my other candidate, Senator Bill Frist. A VP running mate is someone who enjoys the President's confidence, adds something to the ticket, and is a good campaigner. Rice certainly qualifies in the first two instances, but is suspect in the third. Of course, Cheney was no campaigning juggernaut . . . .

The emphasis on standardized testing is often mentioned as problem for teachers and students; others hail standardized testing as the savior of education. Virginia's sometimes controversial Standards of Learning (SOL) tests are now on-line. The test that saw the most bickering, history, will not be released on-line because of a limited number of questions. Feel free to take some of these tests and report back to us in the Forum ....

After 36 days without rain, it sprinkled this morning in Chesterfield County, Virginia ....

I enjoyed your discourse on "PI" President Arroyo, Tony, but was distressed that you were unable to contain your "goombahity" from the depths of your cubicle. Whatever you do, don't teach me how to put pics in my dispatches.

Enhancing the Gore Resume
Will Vehrs
I know my opinion on this score is suspect, but I've been saying for some time that Al Gore's low profile has been a shrewd strategy. When he finally is able to speak his mind, it will seem to be coming from a man who has thought things through, not one who just stayed on a "johnny one note" continuous campaign theme. Gore's latest move, the new job in the finance sector, is also a stroke of genius. It burnishes his resume in an area--business--where he was weak, while reinforcing his high tech credentials in a more practical way than Earth in the Balance did. Gore might be more formidable against his potential '04 Democratic rivals than they choose to believe.

Monday, November 19, 2001
This is one "happenin'" Arroyo
Tony Adragna
Photo: Phillipine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
from Online NewsHour
Watching Jim Lehrer's "Newsmaker" interview with President Arroyo on tonight's "NewsHour" evoked your adminition to "watch", Will. She said all of the "right things", as you can see from the transcript, but the on-screen delivery wasn't impressive. I'll forgive her, though - having been in the Phillipines (which will forever be "The PI" to me) when Corazon Aquino rode the crest of the People Power Movement to the presidency after Marcos fled, I can appreciate the position that Arroyo is in right now. It's not a truly analogous situation, but it's close enough. Why is it (he asks jokingly) that women are always cleaning up our messes? Would Arroyo qualify as a member of the "Bellicose Women's Brigade"?

Yes, she's fighting terrorist, too, and not just the "militant Muslim" type. I can remember kidnappings of U.S. servimembers by Marxists long before the bin Laden financed Abu Sayyaf started their nonsense. In fact, "communists" had always been the larger thorn since the end of WWII - it wasn't til the early '70s that an organized Muslim separatist movement started giving Marcos grief. Still, I'm not sure if things in the southern Phillipines are as in hand as she would like to believe that they are - on the other hand, a lot of "ordinary decent Muslims" are waking up to the horror in their midst, maybe she's seeing some of that.

And now, how about a little bit of the "coincidence game"- Her name is "Arroyo" and Mr. Bush has a few "arroyos" down on the back 40. She's having problems with terrorists in the "southwestern islands"; Goerge Bush is from the "Southwest", and is having troubles with terrorists. She says that her and Mr. Bush "think alike". George H.W. Bush was a Navy pilot, shot down in the Pacific during WWII; there used to be a Naval Air Station at Cubi Point in the Phillipines...

(note: speaking of H.W. - I was at The Council for Excellence in Government, sitting in a cubicle, when I heard an open question come floating across the sea of partitions - "What do you call the former president?". Being the goombah that i am, I stood up and said, "You call him 'Mister'"... some people got no sense of humor...)

Artillery and Mortar Barrages in Our Forum
Will Vehrs
There's a great exchange about the Red Cross and fund diverting in our Forum. It's worth checking out--David Garver, a former Red Cross "insider," tackles some of the complexities and John McGuiness puts Red Cross criticism in context and summarizes his own. Tony, maybe we should just step aside and our readers go at it ....
Update: Just after posting this plug for our Forum, the darn thing went down. Keep trying ... it'll get fixed.

Ya gets what ya pays for...
Tony Adragna
... and I paid nothing for The Forum... but, it's working again. That John McGuinness guy even pointed out my error in re PepsiCo, so I had to append a correction to my From Left Field eSSAY (even though it doesn't change my basic point)... Glenn is right, the damn forums do keep a body honest...

Counter-Battery Fire...
Tony Adragna
The resurgence of pettiness doesn't surprise me, Will, though it saddens me. I've been arguing that those knuckleheads needed to deal with pre- Sep 11 issues, I just hoped that the partisanship would wait awhile longer.

I wasn't really worried about the IRS issue. I did a little research on that with my former employer - we were confident that it would be resolved in favor of taxpayers. The real under-reported story is the pattern of funds diversion at the Red Cross. If people knew about this (as well as the previous issue that I raised in re blood donations), then I wonder how effective Red Cross pleas would be.

The worst pro- Military Tribunal argument I've heard is the one advanced by Mallaby in today's WP - paraphrased: if it's OK "over there", then it oughta be OK "over here".

Monday Morning Salvos
Will Vehrs
There's a Washington Post "news analysis" piece this morning on the "unprecdented" level of cooperation/bipartisanship in Congress regarding the war on terrorism. Partisan debates on domestic issues have continued and gotten sharper, however. Ironically, I believe that the "success" of the campaign in Afghanistan will start to crack that bipartisanship. Nobody wants to criticize the commander-in-chief when troops are facing hostile fire, but once most fighting stops, it's easier to offer alternate policy options. Criticism of the Military Tribunal order and the treatment of suspected terrorists/sympathizers still under detainment are the first cracks in the wall to wall support Bush has enjoyed.

A Wall Street Journal editorial this morning notes that the IRS has issued an exception allowing families of the WTC victims to receive charitable contributions without proving need. The IRS roadblocks to dispensing aid was an underreported story, in my estimation. The Journal highlights the irony of Red Cross officials having to resign over the contributions issue, while IRS officials remain in office when they were a proximate cause of charities being unable to transfer some of the aid.

Russia has opened negotiations with Chechen rebels, dropping conditions that have been in place for two years. This comes after the Bush-Putin summit. Coincidence?

Tony, I had a different take than you did on Ms. Rice's defense of Military Tribunals on Meet the Press--I thought it was spirited and convincing. Remember that Rumsfeld will issue the guidelines for such Tribunals. They could very well be much closer to UCMJ proceedings that you support than "kangaroo courts" that everyone fears. I will take "Condi" to task for her stubborn position on the Denver Broncos. The team that Washington beat yesterday is as far from the Super Bowl as bin Laden is from paradise.

Bush/Rice in '04?
Will Vehrs
Instapundit is pushing Condoleeza Rice as a running mate for President Bush in 2004. It's an intriguing possibility. Of course, two things would have to happen first. The President would have to run again and Vice President Cheney would have to step aside. Running for re-election might seem a no-brainer, but a lot can happen until that decision needs to be made. I think there is a distinct possibility that he might not run, either by choice or by circumstances we can't forsee right now. Bush has never struck me as being motivated by wielding the power of the presidency for either himself personally or the Republicans. Cheney stepping aside is an easy scenario to imagine--he's one heartbeat away right now. Would Rice be the first choice? I wonder if Tom Ridge or Senator Bill Frist might be more likely candidates--both are real politicians and both have Bush's confidence. She, in the famous words of Lyndon Johnson, "has never run for sheriff." Rice might be a good running mate for either Ridge or Frist in 2008 if a Bush ticket was re-elected. Would the GOP finally choose a pro-choice ticket?

Are we that bored with war and homeland security that we have to imagine political "dream teams?"

Sunday, November 18, 2001
Updated 10:30 PM
On Alan Dershowitz
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, I know you read the Posner/Dershowitz debate, but did you see the Keyes/Dershowitz debate on the role of religion in society? The reason I bring it up is because some people are taking issue with Dershowtiz's apparent inconsistency in re civil liberties: he would allow some form of "torture" in exigent circumstances, but he's against military tribunals. There really isn't an inconsitency in Dershowitz - he doesn't believe in "inalienable rights" (and I philosophically agree). He does, however, believe very strongly in the principles of constitutional law.

Where is Alan Keyes When You Need Him?
Will Vehrs
Whatever happened to Alan Keyes? Will he be back in 2004 to challenge Bush on the off-the-specrum right? Did you know he was Bill Kristol's roommate in college? Can you imagine the bull sessions in that dorm? It was probably the collegiate equivalent of The Federalist Papers.

I don't recall the Keyes/Dershowitz religion debate, but I'm sure it was a dandy. Much as I dislike the O.J. lawyer's slash and burn debating techniques, I do admire him for mixing it up with other great minds. Occasionally, I even agree with him, though nothing comes to mind right now. I didn't follow the torture debate too closely because it was just speculation. The Military Tribunal issue has a Bush directive behind it, so it's worth discussing. Opponents act as if the tribunals have already started--I'm with the ones who think it's a tool the President should have--it's there IF he has the political will to use it. How come nobody from the "Arab street" criticized the Taliban Military Tribunal that took five minutes to try Abdul Haq before executing him? I don't think any type of US trial would be perceived as fair by these people, so why not use a Military Tribunal?

tools v. TOOLS
Tony Adragna
I agree that we need a "tool" to address this issue of prosecuting "unconventional warriors", and I think that military tribunals are the right tool. However, Mr. Bush's EO calls for a sledgehammer where a regular hammer - in the hands of a military judge instead of a district court judge - would suffice.

Update 10:30 PM OK, I just watched the re-rerun of "Meet the Press", and I wasn't impressed with Condi Rice's defence of "the Executive Order". We keep hearing about how much the tool is needed (I agree), and how we need to protect sources and info that might impact on fighting against terrorism (I agree), but I haven't yet heard a defense of the need to dispense with procedural rules at the bar. I don't care if the trials are held in secret, just so long as they are proper trials. Who else has framed the issue the way that I have?

Updated 5:00 PM

Update: Harry Potter does his bit for the economy
Tony Adragna
The headline reads, "'Harry Potter' Topples Records With $93.5M Debut" that's "chump change" compared to the total size of our economy, but it's still an impressive figure (btw, that doesn't include "merchandise).

If Lord of the Rings can make a similar showing when it comes out in December, then we may not need a stimulus package...

Harry & Condi Beat the Spread
Will Vehrs
Tony, Harry Potter was supposed to be a blockbuster, but I think it beat the spread by a much wider margin than Condoleeza Rice. As reported in Punditwatch, Condi picked Cleveland by 7 over the Baltimore Ravens on Meet the Press. Tim Russert, who took that bet, won't be getting the National Security briefing that was on the table as the Browns won by 10.

Anyway, Tony, your review will be all the better if you watch the movie in a theater only 2/3 full, instead of one that's filled to the brim. You don't need a lot of chatter and popcorn chomping to disturb your concentration. What's up with having to get movie tickets on-line now? That will close the digital divide fast.

I'm not a big fan of Tom Oliphant (I always got him confused with the great editorial cartoonist), but he's much more engaging than the ponderously pretentious New Englander he used to be. I trace his improvement to an appearance he made on The News Hour with David Brooks when both were subbing for the "A" team of Shields and Gigot. Brooks ripped off an incredible series of bon mots (thank you, Arthur--see the Forum), leaving Oliphant slack-jawed. Oliphant hasn't been caught without some bon mots of his own ever since.

Great minds do think alike!
Tony Adragna
You know, I have a lot of stuff crammed in my brain, and it sometimes becomes difficult to recall a "pinpoint cite" - you brought it back for me, though. The Oliphant/Brooks pairing that you mention is the one that I recall as my first impression of Oliphant, but I was commiserating with Oliphant then (I really like Brooks less than I like Gigot, and neither of them could fill Gergen's seat across the table from Shields - my opinion anyway...).

Brooks Rules
Will Vehrs
Tony, I am totally in the tank for David Brooks. He is the best combination of insight, wit, and self-deprecation among the pundit ranks. Last week, after Shields kidded him about making a broad pronouncement based on visiting two Ivy League colleges, Brooks replied, "That's me. I cover the gamut from A to B." Friday night Oliphant said the public thought the pundits were idiots. "That's never stopped me," Brooks cracked. The guy's a stitch. Gergen is good if you want someone who knows how to keep everybody happy--lord knows he's worked both sides of the political street for years. His gushing over Bush's recent prime time speech in Atlanta was almost embarassing.

I Like Oliphant(s)
Tony Adragna
Hey Will - KUDOS on Punditwatch. I remember hearing the Oliphant line on Friday, and meant to say something about it..

The first time I heard the name "Oliphant" I knew I was gonna like this guy - his name reminds me of the "oliphaunts" from JRR Tolkien's series. I missed Mark Shields Friday night, but Tom Oliphant is a more than adequate stand in.

Speaking of "fantasy" - I'm not gonna make HP this weekend. The bus in my area doesn't run on Sundays, and I don't drive. I asked "The Pig" for a ride, and he said NO! - I think it might have had something to do with me referring (while asking for a ride) to the Lincoln as "that modern day version of 'the Coach of State'". OH well... he does want to go see it, too, but he wants to wait til next weekend. My HP review will have to wait. In the meantime, read Declan McCullagh's review - it gels with my thoughts about why some adults have been lukewarm about the movie. If you're like me, though - still a kid at heart - then you shouldn't have any problems...

PepsiCo Crow and Pundit Crow
Will Vehrs & Tony Adragna
After you read the latest From Left Field, crow on the A&W menu might be an improvement, but it's just a side dish for the pundits whose opinions are served up by the latest Punditwatch.

Don't forget to weigh in with your opinions in our Forum. A good discussion on education is underway--feel free to add your two cents or more.

Franchise Wars
Tony Adragna
Remeber that scene form "Demolition Man" where they all go to dinner at the Taco Bell? It's explained that "all restaurants are Taco Bell" because Taco Bell won the "Franchise Wars". That seemed a bit odd to me at the time that I saw the movie, but I've noticed something over the past few years - PepsiCo really is trying to "go there"...more at From Left Field

Starry, Starry Night
Will Vehrs
Tony, I was up this morning at 5AM to catch a glimpse of the Leonids meteor shower--with the next big show not until 2099, I didn't think I could afford to miss it. The cosmos did not disappoint--it was dazzling. Of course, if I were a real bloggin' man like Glenn Reynolds, I would have immediately posted two or three penetrating dispatches. I went back to bed ....

Damn! I missed it!
Tony Adragna
Good morning Will! I tried to stay awake because I knew that I wouldn't be able to get up - ended up falling asleep around 4 a.m. ... re: below - I must confess that I don't read Dowd: should I?

Maureen Dowd, Double Agent?
Will Vehrs
I knew I shouldn't have gone back to bed ... speaking as Punditwatch, not as Commander of the Instapundit Suck-up Battalion, I have to take exception to Glenn Reynolds' contention that Maureen Dowd of the New York Times is really serving the Bush administration with her snarky criticisms. He writes:

Dowd's columns have become very useful windows into what the Bush Administration wants and fears politically. Dowd is totally in-the-tank with the Bush Administration. Her criticisms seem contrived and overly precious to those not in the know, but that's because she's recycling lines fed to her by the White House in order to covertly support Administration policy. When Bush was worried about the peace movement, Dowd was dispatched to criticize him for not being brutal enough. Now, as the Administration launches an assault on Islamic approaches to gender relations, Dowd is criticizing him for not doing enough ....

Citing only two of Dowd's last three columns makes a circumstantial case for this novel theory. There's not much other evidence. Why the Administration would let Dowd criticize First Lady Laura Bush's Saturday address for a positive effect, for example, is beyond me. As a long-time Dowd watcher, I continue to believe that she is implacably opposed to Bush on both style and substance grounds. Her columns are sputterings in frustration because she has not found the same voice she had during the Clinton Administration, a voice that perfectly captured the disconnects between the personal and public. Reynolds himself has previously railed against Dowd for her somewhat hysterical criticisms. Stranger things have happened than a columnist doing an Administration's bidding, but I don't think it's happening here. Punditwatch will keep his eyes open for more examples that fit the theory, but I'll be surprised if I find it.