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Saturday, December 01, 2001
Required pre-Harry Potter reading
Tony Adragna
I WILL be seeing HP tomorrow, and writing a review. Before reading what will be my glowing review, I have it bit of recommended reading for y'all. Why do I recommend it? - because Kathy Shaidle (Relapsed Catholic) says that it explains something - I agree, not all Christians agree the with anti-Potter-withcraft nonsense, but alot of us are embarassed by it.

Revulsion and Disgust
Will Vehrs
Tony, I sat down to watch Capital Gang on CNN and was horrified to see the breaking news: a bombing at a Jerusalem mall, 8 dead, 170+ hurt, and apparently, a bomb left that was timed to coincide with the arrival of ambulances and police.

I'm just numb. The Middle East is the true quagmire. 30 years ago I was asked my opinion on how to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict during my ROTC interview. Nothing has changed. The US is active, the bombs explode. The US steps away, the bombs explode. Bill Clinton spends the last days of his presidency in a desperate effort to bring peace and the bombs explode. George W. Bush just sent two envoys to seek peace and the bombs explode.

I know, I know. Palestinians have grievances, Israel needs security, both sides are complicit, both sides are innocent. Still the bombs explode and an armed response follows like night to day.

I was going to post a few things tonight, but I'm filled with revulsion and disgust at a situation that has always been out of control, no matter how hard anyone tries to help. Good night ... may we awake some morning, somewhere, and hear of a miracle.

Speaking of "rights"
Tony Adragna
What's happening on the "animal rights" front? Well, Iain Murray (The Edge of England's Sword) points to this "amazing site. It's not a joke.." I'm not amazed - I'm stupefied! What on God's green earth is PETA up to? PETA explains their rationale in a July 23 news release, but I'm still not getting their point. Are they saying that it's more ethical to hunt and eat an animal out of existence, than it is to eat an animal which has been part of the human diet for eons (and would probably multiply to the point of being pests if some other animal didn't eat them). Oh, wait a minute, PETA thinks that it's humans that have become the "pests" of all the other animals - I get it now.

Why didn't we hear about this story a long time ago?

I will, I will
Tony Adragna
HP is on for this weekend - that's a promise!

I actually have a lot of respect for people willing to take a US Attorney appointment in NY - it's hardest job in that business. I was a little irked at some suggestions that Sen. Clinton might try to influence the appointment, which would have raised some serious ethical issues.

Virginia is a very lovely state, that's indisputable. It may be a bogus-rotating award, but I think that all of our state parks throughout this lovely nation deserve high praise.

I agree with you & Julie on the teacher bonus issue - I've always complained about the way that state fund (or, underfund) education. Unfortunately it's the best performers that are always affected through salary action come budget time. I know where schools could find some money - get rid of mal-performing teachers.

Break Time!
Will Vehrs
All the Christmas stuff has been taken down from the attic, the wreaths have been hung on all the windows, and the icicle lights are up, but they haven't been hooked up to extension cords yet. Even though I tested each string before putting it up, I know that when I plug them in, at least one won't work. I haven't put away my ladder yet ....

Tony, I gently nudged you to go see Harry Potter. Now I see that Forum visitor "Rags" is waiting on your review! And you worry about your influence ....

A few things I was thinking about while decorating:

US Attorney News James B. Comey, Assistant US Attorney here in Richmond, will replace Mary Jo White as US Attorney in New York City. Comey used to work for Rudy Guiliani. My wife, Carole, is on Federal Grand Jury duty and she thinks Comey is a great guy.

Park Plaudits Virginia's state park system has been named number one in the nation despite ranking dead last in per capita spending. I don't know if this award is one of those bogus, rotating ones, but it's a nice honor and shows that spending doesn't necessarily indicate quality. I'm big on parks and have been impressed with Virginia's every time I've visited.

Teacher Bonuses Quasipundit reader and Forum poster JulieC pointed out something that I should have noted in yesterday's "Bad Schools" piece. Virginia teachers who have completed the rigorous National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification program are getting their bonuses cut. (A certain amount of money was appropriated and more teachers achieved certification than was budgeted.) The cut was severe--from $5,000 to $1632 initial bonus, and from $2500 for subsequent years (certification lasts 10 years) to $816. Ouch. Somebody better fix this during the Virginia General Assembly session that starts in January--I don't care what the budget situation is. If we want excellence and teachers pursue it, it should be rewarded. I am assuming, of course, that this program is indeed rigorous and aimed at improving classroom performance.

Here is what some other states do:

State incentives offered to nationally certified teachers for Virginia and nearby states.
Virginia: $1,632 initial bonus, $816 each remaining year for the life of the certificate North Carolina: 12 percent salary increase South Carolina: $7,500 each year West Virginia: $2,500 each year Kentucky: $400 initial bonus, $2,000 each remaining year (an extra $1,000 for serving as mentor to three additional teachers earning certificates) Pennsylvania: no state incentives
Washington, D.C.: no incentives

Thanks, JulieC.

OK, Bork as the "heavy"
Tony Adragna
It could be true that Judge Bork is allowing himself to get Borked in some conspiracy to advance Mr. Bush's position (which, I should finally note, is realy an "administration" position based on the same legal advice that was rejected when it was offered to a previous administration).. Let me do a little backtracking on this conspiracy - let's see, everybody who is still upset over the fact that Judge Bork got "mugged" by the Senate ought to be satisfied that everything turned out OK: Bork allowed himself to be sacraficed so that Mr. Justice Kennedy (whom the conspirators really wanted on the bench) would easily be confirmed. Only one problem with the above scenario: I don't believe in these types of conspiracies. And, a parting shot at Judge Bork's NRO piece - "Having their day in (Military) Court" was an obvious defense of "military tribunals", but "military courts" (courts-martial) are distinguished in the law from military "tribunals, commissions...". I think my argument - that Judge Bork's essay might be misleading - has some merit.

On a related item - I just had to email another columnist last night! Ann Coulter realley got to me with her "The Hun is at the gate" piece. I took the time to point out to her that (a) yes, the congress did legislate the IRC quagmire into existence in 1939, but it also legislated on the president's authority under Title 10, and (b) it's not just Dem's that are critical of some aspects of this administration's actions, but maybe it's too much to ask of her to point out members of her own camp. It's really (b) that got me riled up - I'm not gonna argue with another constitutional lawyer (though, I did hold my own last time), but I will point out that she's being quite a bit disingenuous in her attack on the opposition.

I saw Shorty... err, I mean Mr. Reich, on Hannity & Colmes the other night. Big Al... ummm.., I mean Sen. D'Amato, was sitting in for Sean Hannity. The segment with Reich was great fun! They were talking about ways to stimulate the economy, and (believe it or not) there was some agreement between the former senator and the former secretary on a "FICA holiday". The only disagreement was over the duration. Reich has been arguing (for a while now) that us little folk have been getting short changed over the last 30 years. He was trying to make the argument that a "one month holiday" doesn't make sense, but D'Amato kept cutting him off at the knees. D'Amato accused Reich of making a "partisan" argument in refering to the top income earners not having to pay FICA for a whole year under such a scheme (someone who earns $81K in Jan would not pay any FICA for the whole year). The point that Reich was trying to make (which he never got to, but I'm able to ascertain with my psychic powers) is that the FICA holiday would be easier to sell if the duration was maybe six months in duration, giving the lower brackets a little more benefit, but not really any more benefit than the upper brackets (since they would normally pay all of their annual FICA in the first month anyway). I look up to Robert Reich (all four feet-whatever of him) - he's my hero!

I'm most pleased that you still have broadband access - how long is it gonna last? I haven't seen anything on the judges order, and I'm curious to see what it says.

Parting Thoughts--Bork as the Heavy?
Will Vehrs
Tony (and Brian, too), if one believes in a conspiratorial theory of spin, it's not hard to imagine this scenario: Robert Bork, either acting alone or in conjunction with administration contacts, puts out his column, saying Bush's Military Tribunal Order doesn't go far enough. Everyone rushes to battle over the US citizen mini-issue, leaving Bush's act looking moderate and centrist. Bork's critique could be a blessing for Bush. On civil liberties, it pays to be getting beat up by both Bork/Barr and the ACLU.

I see that Robert Reich, Clinton's former labor secretary, is considering a run for Massachusetts governor. He is currently teaching at Brandeis. I don't share much ideological ground with Reich, I suspect, but I favor him entering the arena. I get tired of ex-appointed officials, like Reich, like Bill Bennett, who take a high profile role criticizing elected officials and recommending policy, but then shy away from running for office themselves and putting their ideas to the test. Go for it, Reich. Could it be Andrew Card v. Robert Reich in Massachusetts?

Much Ado About Nothing?
Will Vehrs
Tony, it's Saturday morning, excite@home is still bankrupt, but I still have an Internet connection. I'll stop my self-indulgent, insufferable whining about this situation. It is an interesting issue now, though--is Internet service some kind of critical utility, like a electricity? The California judge didn't think so, but apparently Michael Powell, FCC Chairman, does.

I will be scarce around here today as this is "Decorating Day" and I've got lots of lights to string and lots of extension cords to run. There's also the wreaths, a few reindeer, a sled .... I have to finish today so that I won't take any "heat" for doing my Punditwatch duties tomorrow morning. Maybe one of the Sunday shows will book a debate between Robert Bork and Anthony Lewis!

Hope you finally get to see Harry Potter ....

Friday, November 30, 2001
"Plane Jumping" story
Tony Adragna
Not as "dramatic" as the blurb I heard on the TV (FOX5 in DC) made it sound. I couldn't find anything online (yet), but here's the basics - the guy went cukoo while the plane was still on the gound at BWI, got out of his seat, went to the back of the aircraft to exit through the service door, and fell to the ground. He's in critical condition, the plane was checked over for bombs, and the flight took off an hour and a half late.

You're quite right, Will!
Tony Adragna
Judge Bork does make those comments in defence of "military justice" in the same manner that I use the term, but his analysis still suffers from the lack of taking into account the current practice under UCMJ (which is what my criticism was about). If I didn't know anything about the topic (as Judge Bork admits most people don't), then I would assume that Judge Bork is repeating the argument "if it's good enough for our servicemembers..."

As for Bork's name being attached - you're right, that does make it particularly aggrevating. But, not for the reason that you allude to - rather, it's the fact that Judge Bork is so "calm" and "reasoned", and I should add, alot smarter than I am. It aggrevates me to see somebody so smart and rational say something that is so obviously flawed...

(correction: I previously said "pre UCMJ" in refering to Judge Bork's military experience - the UCMJ was enacted in 1949, so Judge Bork does have experience with the UCMJ. But, the UCMJ - United State Code Title 10 Subtitle A Chapter 47 - as it existed then has been amened to make our military courts look more like other federal courts, and defendants at military trials are now represented by full time professional JAG lawyers - big difference from the type of military courtroom where Judge Bork pulled "other duties as assigned")

In knew I had plans for tonight
Tony Adragna
I wasn't supposed to be sitting here blogging - I was supposed to be in front of the "idiot box" watching one of my all time favourites - The Sound of Music. Now I've missed most of it - and it's InstaPundit's fault!

Hey, Tony
Will Vehrs
The hills are alive with the sound of blogging ....

You Guys Are Reading Bork Wrong
Will Vehrs
Tony, I think you're reading Bork wrong. Bork is actually supporting one of the points you've been making over and over. He's not talking specifically about these potential upcoming tribunals when he references his UCMJ experience (what a concept--a guy who has actually worked military trials bloviating about them!), he's defending military personnel serving as judges, prosecuters, and juries. Read this again:

One of the prices we pay for an all-volunteer military is that for most Americans their armed forces are an unknown world about which it is possible to imagine all sorts of evils; but military tribunals are not, as they have been called, "kangaroo courts" or "drumhead tribunals." Much of the public is probably frightened by visions of defendants convicted out of hand and bustled off to firing squads.

During the Korean War, the officers in my battalion took turns prosecuting and defending. (I had a notable lack of success in both roles.) I sat on the court, and never saw an innocent man convicted but did see a guilty man acquitted. (I prosecuted that one and it still rankles.) Even then, before the widespread reform of the military justice system, military courts manned by officers, in my opinion and that of many others, were superior to the run of civilian courts, more scrupulous in examining the evidence and following the plain import of the law.

Bork is saying, as you rightly have, Tony, that military justice is justice. I like this part:

If I were guilty, I would prefer a civilian jury; if innocent, a military court.

Brian Linse's complaint, one that you join, is Bork's call for US citizens to be covered under Bush's tribunal order. That is more problematic, I agree. We don't know if Bork meant to include all individuals that could be construed as being terrorists, or just those who would qualify if they were overseas, i.e., al Qaeda members. If he clarified it, I think it might be supportable. We might not like it, but a compelling case could be made. I bet the majority of Americans wouldn't care if Omar Mohammed of Hoboken, NJ, a US citizen, was rushed off to a Military Tribunal if he was caught with a nuclear suitcase and birthday card from Osama bin Laden. I know popular feeling isn't a constitutional standard, but such an individual is as much a combatant against us as Mullah Omar in Afghanistan is.

This Bork piece is actually one of the calmer, better reasoned explanations of the issue and it presents a solid case for tribunals. I'm willing to bet that if Bork's name wasn't attached to it, neither of you would have found it especially aggravating.

A Note to Forum posters
Tony Adragna & Will Vehrs
We've gotten our first "Anonymous" post by someone who merely wanted to sound-off incoherently without adding anything to the debate - not a good thing. QP doesn't mind heated discussion, but you should have something to say other than "find a life---argue something real", or "you shoulda picked a different topic--this one was stupid." QP will exercise editorial judgement and delete such nonsense. Of course, we could simply leave it there and not bother to respond, but why should we?

Did You Bork Me When I Was Away?
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm still working through that coaxial cable, but all bets are off at midnight, when I might be posting to a pumpkin.

Just got back from taking the family to the City of Richmond's Grand Illumination. Nobody seemed embarassed by the great decorations on all the "skyscrapers," and the lights seemed to work. We rode a merry-go-round and a ferris wheel, plus got to see Clara and the mice from "The Nutcracker." It was killing me to miss The News Hour, but I can catch it at 10.

Haven't checked out Bork's essay yet, but I will. I was a strong supporter of Bork for the court--it really was my political "awakening." I think he should have been confirmed on the merits and I think he would have been a far better justice than Kennedy, a conniving schemer with grandiose delusions. No justice confirmed since Bork's hearing has been as qualified by virtue of experience and scholarship, especially Thomas and Souter. Since the mugging that put "Borked" into the lexicon, he has been free to move into the political realm with decidedly mixed results. His opinions since the 1987 ugliness have often been extemely provocative, but I don't think they in any way are representative of how he would have approached the law as a justice. He demonstrated an admirable "judicial temperament" when he was on the appeals court and I believe that was his true judicial "persona." And to think that Bill and Hillary were his students at Yale ....

We know how one "Justice" would've reponded
Tony Adragna
Hey Will! Thanks go out to "Note"worthy blogger Brian Linse (AintNoBadDude) for his link to this NRO piece on Military Courts, by none other than failed Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork. Brian says (in an email) that "You guys are amogst the few who seem to see where the reasonable line should be."

Judge Bork argues that the proposed "military tribunals" would be akin to the "military courts" that he served on during the Korean War. The problem with Judge Bork's analogy with pre UCMJ military justice is the fact that the "widespread reform of the military justice system" that came with the enactment of the UCMJ was meant to address some flaws in that prior system - else why the legislative action. I may need to delve deeper into the legislative intent of the UCMJ, but it obviously wasn't one of those "special interest" bills that just slipped by whilst nobody was looking. Why didn't Judge Bork go for the obvious argument? - that while the UCMJ calls for the same rules as in district court where practicable, it also allows the president to prescribe other rules when needed. That argument wins not only on plain language, but also on legislative intent.

It doesn't stop there! Judge Bork's final 'graph, which Brian highlights as deserving special interest, argues that US citizens who engage in terrorism ought be subject to military justice. Judge Bork cites Ex Parte Quinn in support of this argument, but he leaves a little something out - all of the holdings speak to the constitutionality of trial by military tribunal for actions in contravention of the laws of war committed by persons acting for a foreign power with which our nation is at a state of war. I've said that I would have no problem with military justice applied against US citizens who were found to be acting on the behalf of al Queda (or some other foreign terrorist group whose intent was similar), but Judge Bork's statement is quite a bit broader - it could be construed to include eco-terrorists, abortion clinic bombers, and... well, you get the picture.

I wouldn't go as far as Brian does in labeling Judge Bork a "monster", but I've always had problems with his reading of the law, and I'm even more convinced now that putting him on the highest bench in the land would have been the most "supreme" of mistakes.

Stayin' Alive
Will Vehrs
Lucy, I mean Tony, I'm home ... when I clicked on internet, I got the set-up wizard ... I was sweating bullets--back to a modem? What's that judge in California doing on this important case? It isn't even midnight ... I foiled 'em, though ... clicked on my seldom used ICQ and voila! an internet connection. Let's see how long that lasts ....

Broad Band Blues
Tony Adragna
You know Will, I could say "that's the market, and the gov shouldn't interfere" - as I did in the MS case - but this is different: I stand to lose my most important, my ONLY correspondent. FOUL!! Has anybody offered consumers a "work around"?

I'm still using an old (read: ancient) 56k internal fax/modem. William has broadband in his room, and he keeps trying to talk me into using his conection, but he tells me that I need some kinda "ethernet card" (anybody know what that is?). Anyway, I think that there's something funny going on with this whole "broadband" business - when our new nextdoor neighbour moved in several months ago she tried to get broadband access for her home office (she works for IBM, but does a lot of work from home), but she was told that she couldn't because somebody else was using all of the "bandwith" (whatever that is) alloted to our neighbourhood. William still hasn't come clean with her about being the "someone"...

There's gotta be a "technological" solution to this madness...

OH, my brief in response will be filed as soon as I've seen your petition for relief - and I'll handle the paisan on my own (these whimpy lawyers just down know how to deal with guys like Scalia)....

Don't Die Until I Know If I Have An Internet Connection Tomorrow
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'll see you in the Supreme Court--I'm preparing a lawsuit over you "humiliating" me for being politically disabled.

I'll tell you why I didn't see the Gilmore thing coming--President Bush has proven to be loyal to a fault. Tim Noah in Slate's Chatterbox has been predicting the resignation of first Rumsfeld, and then Secretary of the Treasury O'Neill for months. At least in the case of O'Neill, he's screwed up worse than Gilmore could ever could. Both are still on the job and Rumsfeld is approaching Churchillian status.

And I don't think Gilmore has screwed up that badly--I think Karl Rove just sees the need for some bold thinking for Republicans to offer this fall. Gilmore is many things, but a bold innovator he is not. Since I may not be able to post again, let me give the link to Larry Sabato's Q&A on Gilmore this afternoon here. The complete transcript should be available after 4PM EST. Quasipundit submitted three questions.

Can you imagine what a Forum in Bob Barr's district would be like? I love it when liberals embrace a Barr when he needles Ashcroft, or a Pat Robertson when he opposes the death penalty, but pound them unmercifully the rest of time and act as if they don't even deserve a voice in civilized debate. That funny feeling in your tummy is there for a reason, Tony!

I can die now, I've seen everything
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, this morning you pointed to some potential problems for a Gonzales "nomination". How 'bout this, there's a story I missed in yesterday's WaPo (but just picked up on thanks to The Fly Bottle) that highlights Rep. Bob Barr's opposition to some of the current administration's overreach. The word from a University of Georgia political scientist is that Barr's opposition may actually help him with conservative voters come election.

I'm starting to get that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach again - first I find myself agreeing with Krauthammer, and now I'm agreeing with Barr...

Didn't see it coming?
Tony Adragna
I hope you look both ways when you cross the street, Will. How could you not see the Gilmore resignation coming? You were in on that WaPo live discussion where the questioned was asked about Gilmore, and I referenced the "flak" he was taking. Bob Novak writes a column about how the GOP is worried over '02 hopes, and how the RNC failed to maintain offices/margins in GOP strongholds. Everything has been pointing to needed change at the RNC. The GOP needs to wake up.

Better for my party if the GOP stays asleep, but I'm not trying to be partisan here...

Gilmore: Gone
Will Vehrs
Tony, with Instapundit away from the blogging scene, I've been trying to fill the massive void ....

I was mildly surprised that Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore just hours ago announced his resignation as Chair of the Republican National Committee. Yesterday I was in the car listening to his Richmond call-in radio show. A caller asked what he was going to be doing after his term ended. Gilmore noted he was RNC Chair, but mentioned how all the travel was difficult. I didn't put two and two together--what'd you expect, Bob Woodward? I think there's more to his leaving than just the two governor's races the GOP lost--they would have been tough to win no matter who was chair.

Shouldn't we as voters/citizens be outraged when our Congressperson, Senator, or Governor is named a campaign committee chairperson? Those are supposed to be full-time jobs in and of themselves. It's bad enough that our representatives are shaking down contributors for cash to fund their own campaigns--do we really want them using the time we're paying them to shake down contributors for cash to fund campaigns for other candidates?

Richmond has a coliseum?
Tony Adragna
You sure gave me a lot of homework reading this morning, Will! You know that I would not have passed on the opportunity to crack wise, but you should know by now that I haven't a clue when it comes to sports. While Richmond was being made the "laughingstock of the [sports] world", I was busy watching people put an ice rink to it's proper use - men's figure skating. Yagudin took the gold, and Eldridge came in second (lets see, Alex is 21 and Tod is like an old man now). Maybe Richmond oughta consider a bid for the Winter Olympics!

I agree with the WaPo - give the nominees due consideration, then vote. I think you're right on target about why the votes haven't happened. There's a certain tension between "qualification" & "ideology", and nobody wants to be seen voting down a qualified candidate on ideological grounds. It might help if we de-demonized the ideological test. If all we're worried about is "qualifications", then what's the point of seeking consent from a "political" body? And, I was happy to see that 's criticism was "bi-partisan".

Gonzales offers the defense that I've been looking for, but I'm still troubled by the wording of the executive order - Mr. Gonzales' contruction is reasonable, but it's not the only way that the language can be construed. I've noted my curiousity over how congress and the courts will respond: we've heard from congress (Hatch likes - Leahy dislikes), now we'll just have to wait for a challenge to come before a court. Reiterating my own position: pro-tribunal under very specific conditions; anti-dishonesty in equating this with normal standards of military justice.

On the two separate "school" items: Rooselvelt dissolution good; Philadelphia solution bad. I am concerned about some of the negative reaction to tranfering the Roosevelt students to better schools, but it is "better schools" that those students need, and NY is at least addressing the real problem as far as the students are concerned. The problem with the Philadelphia solution is that I don't see "management changes" trickling down to the classroom, unless you can get rid of bad teachers. I'm ambivalent about charter schools - the success of these projects has been way overhyped, a lesson that DC parents learned all too well.

Bad School Report
Will Vehrs
Tony, we've talked a good bit about education here at Quasipundit, so I thought I'd throw out some real-world situations for comment. A New York Times editorial supports the state's dissolution and takeover of the Roosevelt, Long Island school district. Conditions at those schools were horrible--students would have been better off being home schooled in crack houses. In Philadelphia, negotiations continue for state takeover of the school system using Edison, a private contractor. Students walked out yesterday and protested to keep their schools "public." Here's a comment from one of the protesters:

"We walked out of school to keep the schools public," said Michelle Brown, a 16-year-old senior.

"They're trying to make us change after so many years," Brown said. "They're trying to make us go to school 8 to 5. We can't get no job and I have a son. . .he's 2 years old and I wouldn't have time to spend with him."

Some change might have done poor Michelle some good three years ago.

Tribunal Defense
Will Vehrs
Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to President Bush, defends his boss's order in a New York Times op-ed this morning. It's worth a read--Gonzales has been prominently mentioned as a potential nominee to the Supreme Court. A botched Military Tribunal could sink his chances just by association, so this is a risky step for him, and Bush, if he really is a candidate.

John Knowles, 1926-2001
Will Vehrs
He wrote one great, enduring novel: A Separate Peace.

Bellicose Women Special
Will Vehrs
Here's a great line from columnist Richard Cohen--he, like some other columnists, is talking about the vaunted "Arab Street" (more on this in Punditwatch next week):

It turns out, however, that your average male Afghan would prefer a good shave in the here and now to the promise of virgins for eternity.

Here Comes the Judge?
Will Vehrs
Tony, one of my hot button issues is the excessive politicization of the judicial confirmation process. A Washington Post editorial this morning rightly calls for the Senate to hold hearings on President Bush's nominees. I know, I know--Senate Republicans played games with President Clinton's nominees. That was wrong. President Bush offered an olive branch to Democrats by re-nominating African-American Roger Gregory to the bench. Gregory was a Clinton nominee who received an unusual and controversial recess appointment. He hadn't even received the ABA's highest rating. Gregory was confirmed. Now only three of Bush's 11 have received hearings and fewer of Bush's nominees have been confirmed than Clinton's over a similar period.

It's time to end delay as a weapon to shape the court. Hold hearings and vote nominees up or down. I think Republicans and Democrats alike realize that most judicial nominees are eminently qualified and that a vote against them cannot be justified as anything other than ideological, so delay is used instead of forcing Senators to cast a tough vote. It's high time Senators cast some votes to show their true colors. I'll say the same thing if a Democratic President should be nominating judges in 2005.

How Embarassing Was It?
Will Vehrs
The Richmond Times-Dispatch banner headline this morning, in type size usually reserved for war or elections, reads 'Embarassing.' A Wednesday marquee college basketball game, Virginia vs. Michigan, had to be cancelled early in the second half because the Richmond Coliseum floor was wet and slippery--players were falling and slipping with every move. The game was being televised live on ESPN. Fans who left the building after the game was called couldn't get out of the parking garage because no attendants were in the booths--they thought the game wouldn't end for another hour and apparently weren't watching cable while smoking and joking. No clear information is available on ticket refunds or if the game will be replayed.

I was surprised that no one razzed me yesterday about Richmond being a one-horse town that botched its big opportunity to showcase itself, hosting a game on national television. (The basketball floor is laid over an ice hockey rink; strange warm and humid weather seemed to have caused unusual condensation on the floor. It's so warm I didn't have to wear a jacket this morning.) Maybe this isn't a huge embarassment outside of Richmond, VA, but a small city that works hard to market itself as a tourist and event center feels like it can't afford something like this that might give it a reputation for incompetence. There will be the usual recriminations and posturing by city officials. Just by happenstance, the contract with the private firm that manages the coliseum is up for renewal. At least this issue has more substance than typical Richmond fare, such as the City Councilwoman caught in a police cruiser at 2AM in the morning with a cop not patrolling his assigned beat, if you know what I mean.

George Harrison, 1943-2001

He made great music.

Thursday, November 29, 2001
Didja know...
Tony Adragna
Chris Matthews had Jesse on his show last night (or the night before - it's all a blur), asking the Guv'na for his input on what's happening in Afghanistan right now. Well, of course, Jesse's SEAL experience might give him an insight to what's going on there. Jesse was careful to note that it was 30 years ago that he left the Navy - things are different now. He also uncharacteristically (for a sailor) passed on the opportunity to crack wise on the USMC (he delivered only well deserved praise instead).

Did ya know that his rating in the Navy was the same as mine? He was a Storekeeper (what you Army types call Quartermasters - Navy Quartermasters handle navigation).

And, for more on the economy/tax cuts, read Joshua's piece on Daniels & tax cuts...

Minnesota Voters Discover Jesse Ventura is Self-Absorbed--Duh!
Will Vehrs
Hey, Tony, welcome back! Next time tell them to mail your check ....

I always have wondered what the Jesse Ventura attraction was. Apparently, according to this Charles Babington column, Minnesota voters finally are waking up to their odd-ball governor's true nature. Here's a sample of his shenanigans:

In November, Ventura quietly traveled to California, a day after saying he was too busy with terrorism issues to deal with the possibility that the Minnesota Twins baseball team will move or disband. The governor told critics he had gone to visit his adult son. Reporters later found he had been paid for a cameo appearance in a film starring comedian Dana Carvey.

"You're darned right I'd do it again," Ventura told a caller to KFAN radio. "I got a chance to meet Adam Sandler and Dana Carvey. Why not?"

Americans are always on the lookout for the anti-politician, the third party or independent candidate who combines a fresh approach with a personality and style suited to leading the country. Ventura got further than most, actually winning an election. But now the search is on again.

How 'bout a little investigative journalism
Tony Adragna
Hey Will! Several noteworthy bloggers pointed to this DRUDGE REPORT item, and used the opportunity to heap more (well deserved) ridicule upon Montgomery County. Being the thourough non-professional web journalist that I am, I decided not to comment until I got to the bottom of why these two civic activists from the town of Kenisington decided to oppose Santa's presence at the Christmass tree lighting. Well, QP has gotten an exclusive on the straight dope! Rather than commenting, though, let me just share the graphic evidence that I've discovered in support of banning Santa.

I've heard of "Patty Melt", and "Tuna Melt"
Tony Adragna
While you were reading Al Hunt, I was reading Jim Hoagland's "Afghan Melt" - he raises an issue that's worthy of concern. I've always said that I prefer my enemies to be the "unreasonable" type - they're easier to spot, and quash. It's gonna be impossible to totally rid Afghanistan of the "closeted-true believers", but Hoagland's right on target in his final graph:

"Afghanistan's factions turned their country into a sanctuary for killers and fanatics who must now be hunted down by U.S. forces. Only after that is accomplished can Afghanistan be free to chart its own future."

You know my views on campaign finance (which are unrealistic, but they're my views). Public financing is my preferred solution - barring that, a reasonable alternative is full disclosure. And I find those ad's repugnant, too, but you guys started it with the Willie Horton nonsense (I never did like Atwater - a nasty little man with much to be nasty about [paraphrasing Churchill])

Starting to feel like Moira
Tony Adragna
Damn! I went downtown to pick up my check, and look what happens while I'm away! Not complaining though - I love it! I've read through most of it, but the posts keep coming - Thanks everybody! I'm especially happy to see all of those Frayster here....

Thank God that I'm capturing most of this really good stuff through email notification (yes - it's not really all lost). Kathy Kinsley (On the Third Hand) is performing a great service in offering her expertise to help "configure" (or whatever) that incomprehensible program that I downloaded - I'm really not liking Bravenet right now. I hope that she's not neglecting her blog - I really like OTTH.

My Lunch Date With The Wall Street Journal
Will Vehrs
It was a Wendy's single, an apple, and The Wall Street Journal at my desk for lunch today. Some good stuff:

Red Cross On the front page, reporter Anne Marie Chaker spent some time at the Red Cross' Emergency Gift Center, set up in an old Falls Church, VA furniture store. Two dozen volunteers staff the place, 7 days a week, taking calls from victims' families. These volunteers handle some tough requests, unless one believes that the families should get anything they ask for. So far, 3,400 checks totalling $56 million have gone out. I'm going to list three requests Chaker followed:

1. Mother of a 34 year old daughter killed in the WTC, already received $11,700, requesting $20,000 for legal expenses relating to handling the daughter's estate. [Got $22,400]
2. Wife who lost a husband, already received $23,800 for living expenses and funeral, requesting $888 for a sofa bed so relatives would not have to stay in a motel. [received $390 for a futon from her local RC chapter, then later got $900; she didn't know what that was for]
3. Widow received $8,150 for funeral expenses, requesting $3,000 for prayer cards, pictures, and thank you cards. [received $1,850--funeral limit is $10,000]

We had a great discussion on the Red Cross in our Forum a while back--it has unfortunately been lost in cyberspace. This article points out the difficulties on both sides, those needing aid and the Red Cross trying to dispense it fairly and effectively.

Al Hunt Politics & People, Al Hunt's weekly column, starts out innocently enough: "The truth is, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, we're probably better off, in the short term, with George W. Bush. But not for the reasons cited." What are these new reasons? Why, the dastardly Republicans, of course! Hunt imagines the best-case Gore cabinet scenario, then, using descriptions like "congressional mullahs" and "full moon crowd," he tells us how Jesse Helms "rants," the vicious DeLay-Armey criticism" and the "harangues from Orrin Hatch" would have doomed Gore's efforts. I think it's a legitimate point to wonder if Gore would have been able to command such a bi-partisan war effort, but Hunt isn't interested in that--he just wants to slam the GOP. He doesn't mention Gore's long partisan record, as opposed to Bush's briefer, and less confrontational record, as a possible reason why Gore might not have been effective.

Nasty Ads A WSJ editorial reports that Democrats in Houston are reviving the James Byrd, Jr. dragging murder to try and defeat Hispanic Republican Mayoral candidate Orlando Sanchez. They are running phone backs saying Sanchez is racist and represents "hate" because he opposed a hate crimes law. It was a despictable ad when Democrats ran a similar one against George W. Bush and it's despictable now, but the WSJ sees it as backfiring, pulling Hispanics into Republican ranks.

The Forum is Hopping
Will Vehrs
Tony, we're getting some great posts in the Forum. I highly recommend Joseph Britt's "By Request" and Will Allen's "Campaign Finance Reform Nonsense" for additional insight into George Will's thinking and the whole edifice that makes campaign finance reform an issue. A big welcome to "SandyCanuck" (part of our growing legion of international readers, I hope) and "MommaBear," both first time posters, if I'm not mistaken. The ever popular Amber is back, shadowed by "MarkD," and "just the facts" is mixing it up with everybody. Dan continues to alternately make us laugh and make us think, although sometimes he combines the two.

Our challenge here at Quasipundit will be to keep throwing out issues and observations that stimulate these great minds to make us understand all the debating points, all the ramifications. Thanks to everybody who reads and posts.

A Plague on Both Their Houses
Will Vehrs
Well, so much for laughs. George Will's column this morning is disturbing:

The following is no joke: The Democratic National Committee is asking the Federal Election Commission to suspend certain campaign finance regulations because, well, you see, the events of Sept. 11 . . .

Never mind. War is hell, and Sept. 11 caused the DNC to postpone some fundraising events and solicitations. The DNC had planned to grit its teeth, surmount its aversion to soft money and raise bushels of it. So now the DNC has asked the FEC to waive certain deadlines -- the arcane details would make your head hurt -- regulating the transfers of soft money to hard-money accounts. No other Democratic or Republican committee made a plea for exemption from the law.

Now we have the spectacle of Republicans trying to lard up a stimulus package with tax breaks for corporate contributors and Democrats trying to suspend the campaign finance laws they profess to support, all under the cover of the terror attacks of September 11th. I've never been a big supporter of campaign finance reform, at least as it's been designed up to now, but examples like these are poster children for reform or--my preferred alternative--sweeping out the incumbents who perpetuate this smarmy system.

Joseph Britt, where are you? Joe, a regular in our Forum, is one of the most articulate and persuasive proponents of reform. I'd love to hear his take on this, and anyone else's, too.

We Can Always Use a Laugh
Will Vehrs
Heck, yes, add Uthant--what a hoot. We never talked, Tony, about how we would handle humor here at Quasipundit. Would it just be incorporated in our daily dispatches, or would we devote a special section to it, a la News Quiz, the wonderful feature that Randy Cohen used to do for Slate? Think about it. Dan and Arthur Stock, two of our loyal readers, were News Quizzers. Were you a player?

Things are not looking good for me on the computer front. I'm one of those internet cable subscribers facing a November 30th service cut-off and an uncertain future. First Enron, now this!

Wednesday, November 28, 2001
A Must Read
Tony Adragna
OK Will, Uthant's current column is derisive, but it's a fun read anyway. Can I add this site? Huh, huh... Dan recommended the site to me....

No Need for that Tribunal Now
Will Vehrs
Tony, I don't know what the hell we do if somebody pleads guilty before their Military Tribunal, as you just have in the case of Blogs v. Mercer & Curry. Will there be any plea bargains before Tribunals? Would we even know?

No need to defend your comments--I guess I just felt that those two women had minimal impact on anything significant, so seeing them criticized so strongly just surprised me. I think there's room to criticize them; I guess I just wouldn't be so harsh. They were trying to do good as they saw it. Their 15 minutes of fame are up.

Guilty as charged
Tony Adragna
Yes Will, I did join that debate, but I believe I was careful enough (you might say I was hedging) to distinguish between customs that ought to be objected to versus simply objecting because something isn't consistent with the way we do things here. I got into this discussion awhile back with tom r. over that idiot who got "caned" in Singapore because he was "tagging" - there was a big flap at the time over whether this American teenager ought to be subject to the same laws and penalties as natives. That's what was in mind when I made the comments over at K's, and I stand by those comments.

There's Something About Mary
Will Vehrs
Tony, I knew the Dead Sea Scrolls were going to be published and I'm waiting for a few reviews on Amazon before I buy a copy. I wasn't aware that the Scrolls might shed some new light on Mary's status, probably because lately I've been worrying about who's accusing who of playing god ....

Speaking of young women with religious motives, I am surprised at some hard criticism directed toward Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, the two American women rescued from Afghanistan. Two of our favorite blogs, On the Third Hand and AintNoBadDude take up the subject and if I'm not mistaken, you joined some of the criticism. I suppose some skepticism of them is warranted, but they were in Afghanistan as a part of a humanitarian mission, not just as Christian missionaries. Before their escape, I thought it was interesting that President Bush did not make any wartime judgements based on the fact that the Taliban held them prisoner, i.e., no negotiating or off-target areas. I have a little trouble with the argument that Taliban rules about passing out a Bible or video should be respected. Would we defend Nazi laws about Jews today? I wish the two wouldn't be doing the TV circuit, but that's what America wants and I'm sure it's difficult to turn down all the requests for interviews. They might want to consider doing some volunteer work to support our troops instead of being so anxious to head back to Afghanistan.

More good stuff in our Forum, including maiden appearances by Will Allen and "just the facts" from Slate's Fray. I am a supporter of capital punishment. Mend it, don't end it. I cannot accept valuing the life of the killer more than the victim.

Was Mary "Virtuous"?
Tony Adragna
Hey Will! I was looking around Cal Ulmann's blog and found an interesting write-up on the upcoming publication of Dead Sea Scrolls. The story is a bit overstated. Sure, there will be some textual revisions to the Bible, but I don't see any real problems with maintaining traditional interpretations based on connotation (of course, I'm not a literalist, and neither is Il Papa).

The writer makes a big deal out of the "Virgin v. Young Woman" debate. The Catholic Church has been aware of this problem for a long time. and it's not really a problem. In fact, it's an argument that's long been used against Rome's dogma on the "Virgin Birth" Looking at the cultural context of Mary's world you can't deny that "young woman" and "virgin" were almost always used synonymously. Further, both "Matthew" and "Mark" refer to some "heavenly intercession" regarding Mary's pregnancy. Changing some words in the canonical texts doesn't change the basic meaning of those texts (unless you're a literalist), and is nowhere near an admission of the Scrolls into the canon.

Ad hominen works both ways
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, my intent is never to ridicule a "person", but if someone is going to pull the "God Meme" into the debate, and accuse doctors & scientists of "playing God", then I think it only fair to point to some logical fallacies in the argument - the argument only holds if you believe in "God" and "souls". I'm respectful of "people of faith", now how about some respect for people who are "unbelievers". And how about some respect for people like me who are "believers", yet insist on something more in policy debate other than biblical exegesis, Basil's proof of the existence of God, and a rewarming of pre-enlightenment (hell, pre-dark-ages) controversies regarding certain heresies on the nature of the "soul". These scientists aren't "playing 'God'", they're "playing 'man'"- they're no more "creating life" than a man and woman "create life" in "the act itself". If I take a swipe at Williams along the way (and at the end), it's a well deserved retort to his accusations.

Regarding the inconsistency in the pro-life/pro-death penalty camp - I stand by my criticism. Dan says that the innocent should live, and the guilty should die, but what he leaves out of the "moral equation" is the real life definition of "innocence" and "guilt" in our legal system. You need not be actually guilty of anything to be sentenced to death, you only need be found guilty at trial. There's plenty of compelling argument that people who were actually innocent have been put to death (murdered by the state) under our death penalty statutes. Now we have the Oklahoma police chemist "scandal" - another death row inmate released upon re-examination of perjured testimony regarding crime scene evidence, and what may turn into a verifiable case of someone being wrongly executed. Yet, most of the pro-life right still defend the death penalty on the "moral equation". At least the Catholic Bishops are consistent in condemning both abortion and the death penalty.

Speaking of the forum - it's dropping old posts! I'm gonna have to put one up on the .com site. I downloaded one but it has to be "configured" & some other such nonsense, and I haven't a clue how - help... anybody... help! Great job on PW...

p.s. My "educated guess" from yesterday has been confirmed - he was a CIA Officer, not a "contract employee" or "affilliate". Director Tenet refered to him as an "American hero", and though that term is getting a lot of play lately, I don't think that it's an overstatement - all Americans serving in those conditions are heroes far as I'm concerned.

Check out the latest Punditwatch for a summary of the George Will-William Safire rumble and the advance of the New York Times' "Weekend Alliance" against John Ashcroft strongholds ....

Blogging All Night?
Will Vehrs
Tony, you were Instapundit-like prolific last night--a blogger possessed! I should have warned you that the NH hysterics of Lewis weren't really worth staying up late for ... I knew Perkins had committed the supreme Adragna faux pas on tribunals, but I withheld that from you for National Security reasons. I think Military Tribunals are difficult to defend in the abstract, but will be much easier to support when one is finally convened, if that should ever happen. To me, an important point is glossed over when everyone is trashing tribunals. President Bush will make the call himself. As Commander-in-Chief, he'll take the heat, politically, militarily,and diplomatically. That is no small tempering of the power to convene a Military Tribunal. Bush will not be a delegator-in-chief, so any tribunal will have maximum visibility within the parameters that are set because he made the call. Let's see if any of Lewis' doomsday scenarios--millions and millions subject to tribunals!-- come to pass.

The Smoke Clears Tony, you must be very happy that you'll be able to continue smoking with relative impunity in the neighborhoods of Montgomery County, Maryland. Your former favorite candidate for Governor, Douglas Duncan, vetoed the measure that had made the County the laughingstock of the world. I know you live in Prince Georges County, usually thought of as less progressive than Montgomery, but perhaps, in this case, progressive by default.

Cloning and Rationality I have absolutely no background in philosophy, except for a brief dalliance with Existentialism in my lost youth. Thus, I am handicapped in certain aspects of the cloning debate when all this talk of "rationality" is tossed about. Cloning supporters delight in blasting the lack of rationality among the anti-cloners. It's like the Scopes Monkey Trial all over again. Ridiculing people who disagree with you is a good way to get them to dig in their heels. I don't think those favoring cloning have a monopoly on rationality. Favoring cloning seems to depend on a possibly "irrational" belief that science can do anything. I'll grant you that science usually finds a way, but I would remind everyone that using cloning to produce organs and cure diseases remains theoretical and many years away, if ever. Cloning supporters act like we're already there. We're a heck of a lot closer to a human being cloned in a test tube and implanted in a womb than we are to eliminating paralysis through stem cell research.

Don't get me wrong--I don't want to ban cloning and I hope with all my heart for the breakthroughs that the scientists promise. But show a little bit more respect for people with deeply held beliefs and real fears about where this technology might take us.

Dan Dickinson, King of the Forum We've got a lot of great posters in the Forum, Tony, but Dan Dickinson is the most prolific, both with his substantive posts and his humorous efforts. Can we give the guy a star?

Tribunals on trial
Tony Adragna
OK Will, I just watched the Perkins/Lewis bit on the NH. Perkins made the same offensive mistake as others in claiming that Mr. Bush's "tribunals" would operate under the same rules as military courts that our servicemembers are tried in - "If its good enough for our servicemembers..." Anthony Lewis put the "debunkerizer" to that argument, and Perkins was on the defensive from there. That's exactly what Mr. Bush's "Executive Order" needs - a good defense: I have't heard one yet.

If Mr. Bush had merely said "military tribunals" without appending all of that extraneous verbiage about "no appeals", and only "2/3 required" for application of a death sentence, then I would have no objection. I repeat my objection to the rule, and amplify my objection to the "comparison". Lewis could've been a bit more emotional and still not come close to where I'm at...

I'm going to bed now (YAWN)... I only stayed up to "watch"(you can't get the "hysterics" from a transcript)

I can start again...
Tony Adragna
... it's "tomorrow" here now in "yesterday" land, that means it's a different "today" for me, so I can offend someone else without retracting my earlier coment. Here goes... Armstrong Williams is a knucklehead!. First, it's only "playing God" by virtue of the fact that he asserts that it's "playing God", which also involves assuming the "existence of God". I have no problem with a "faith in God", but public policy ought to be based on something a bit less ethereal/metaphysical/ontological.

He goes on to voice support of Mr. Bush's urging the "Senate to condemn this godlike tinkering with human embryos, before such experimenting reaches its logical conclusion: the cloning of soulless humans and the triumph of science over the sanctity of life." Again, some more assertion/assumption, but much worse - he has asserted that that clones would be soulless (assuming that souls exist), taking upon himself the omniscient nature of God who knows all (does Williams really know that clones won't have souls), and ignoring the omnipotent nature of God who could give a clone a soul if God so desired (assuming that God exists).

The problem isn't science or scientists - it's people like Armstrong Williams!

Irony of ironies
Tony Adragna
I'm certainly not happy about the killing of another jounalist, but you would think that "the media" might have gotten the message by now. Instead of complaining about our criticism, and engaging in criticism of their own in re our prosecution of this war, they ought to be worried about the thugs who hate them too, But then. If the mass murder of 5000 innocents didn't convince them, then the "incidents" and "events" involving a mere eight of their own shouldn't move them either... (I think I'm done offending people today...)

Tuesday, November 27, 2001
500 Dead at Qala-i-Jhangi
Tony Adragna
Amnesty International is seeking "urgent inquiry into violence in Qala-i-Jhangi". An AI spokesman on BBCWorld just made reference to the killing of "prisoners" - HUH? As I noted earlier, the guys reverted from "prisoners" back to "combatants" as soon as they overpowered their guards and took up arms.

I said that Dostum should grant these guys their wish - they wanted to die instead of surrender - and that's basically what happened (with US and UK help, of course).

I'm Not "Pro-Clone"...
Tony Adragna
... I'm simply a "Bio-SupplySider". At least I could be if Jay Zilber's comments at "Mind Over What Matters" were to catch on. I especially like the "Pro-Life Extention" "sematics excercise", to which he appends the parenthetical:

"(Granted, many right-wingers manage to rationalize being both pro-life and pro-death penalty -- but the point of these semantic exercises is not necessarily to change anyone's mind, but to make them work harder at rationalizing mutually exclusive positions. Let their brows furrow a little deeper while they try to hold two more contradictory thoughts simulateously.)"

Hey Jay, don't try that in Meridian, Mississippi - last time I was there (immediately after basic training in San Diego), someone began preaching at me while I was shopping. Putting my seminary training to the test, I attempted a rational discussion in biblical exegesis: BIG MISTAKE! I'd like to think that some of these people are gulty of "rationalizing mutually exclusive positions", but it would make my life much harder if I were to actually see some rational thought. (have I failed to offend anybody today?)

Scalia's not a goombah!
Tony Adragna

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens

I like Justice Stevens!I really like Dahlia's writing, too. But I, unlike you, usually agree with her (go figure).

Emotion on the NewsHour? And I missed it! I'll have to catch the late night re-broadcast ( right now I'm watching JAG - interesting storyline dealing with a Navy fighter pilot who blew up an EP-3 that had to land in China). Then I'm gonna watch NYPD Blue, Mark Paul Gosselaar (of "Saved By The Bell" fame - trying to tie this into today's education theme) is taking Rick Schroeder's (I never have liked "Ricky" - even in his "Silver Spoons" days) spot alongside Denis Franz. Is that enough "culture talk" for today? I'll read those Bush stories tomorrow, then I'll get back to ya...

Mark Paul Gosselaar

The Tony Spectrum and Some Odds and Ends
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm visualizing the spectrum from "not ignorant" to "barely rational" and wondering why I don't do better in arguments with you.

Dahlia Lithwick was with the Supremes today, reporting for Slate on the school grading case. She's a gem, explaining the law with humor and just a little bite. I don't always agree with her, but I usually like her style.

I'm bullish on Bush, but the cover of the current Newsweek is a bit much: "Where We Get Our Strength"-- The Bushes Speak Out on the War, His Emotions and Her New Role. That looks like something one would expect to find in that insidious Parade magazine insert.

Anthony Lewis, columnist for the New York Times, was on the News Hour tonight, getting almost hysterical about the Military Tribunal order. Doesn't he know there's no emotion on the News Hour? No link is available yet.

I'm Not Ignorant...
Tony Adragna
...but I am barely rational.

OK, for a good definition of what "rational ignorance" is, go back The Fly Bottle and read Will W's explication. I didn't mean to imply that Kass' argument is based on "rational ignorance" - only that he makes that argument in a political fora where "rational ignorance" plays a big part in advancing ones own point of view: especially when the argument is one that's charged with emoton.

Sorry if I confused anybody...

Not "Fort Apache"
Tony Adragna
There a a report at the Sun Times about those Taliban "rioters" who overpowered their guards - and killed an Americans CIA "affiliate" (educated guess: he was an actual CIA officer). The account is from a journalist who was "in the scene". I wouldn't call these guys "rioters" - they are prisoners of war who resumed their role as "combatants". I say that Dostum should just level the place...

I had the opposite problem in elementary school - "Linda Wilson" used to pull on my poneytail! Other than that, we were all too busy giving "teacher" a tough time. We had one teacher whose name was "Cola", and she liked to teach us words in Spanish - we picked up the habit of beginning the day with, "Hola, Hola, Coca Cola!" - she was never amused. The only teacher I ever had problems with was a Mr. Sisson who taught at Franklin Jr. High (Vallejo, CA) - he used to pick me up by my ears. My favourite teacher was a Dr. Samuel Vitone who taught social studies - I used to sign my papers "Benito" in his class (just as a joke): he knew who it was, I was the "paisan" in the class...

I just heard Sen. Spectre making the point that the recent "cloning success" isn't really "human cloning", so everybody's overreacting...

Linda Wilson Had to be on Her Toes
Will Vehrs
Tony, my fourth grade teacher, Miss Keyser, made us trade papers and grade our "neighbor's." I always had to swap with the snotty Linda Wilson. I checked and double-checked every answer of mine that she marked wrong. The one time I caught a grading mistake, I triumphantly marched up to Miss Keyser for validation and gave Linda a dirty look. I would have humiliated Linda for getting her answers wrong, but she always got the the coveted "100," so I had to resort to other methods, such as pulling her pigtails. Somehow, we both survived this process without judicial intervention and grew up into reasonably functional adults.

That's a great picture of Kass. It looks like he's reaching for a big old slab of genetically engineered beef.

I was in the car today for four hours. Imus was hilarious until I lost the signal. Dr. Laura came into range. I used to be amused by her hectoring of callers, but it all seemed so petty today. Rush Limbaugh was entertaining, as usual, except for his callers. They tend to be even less articulate than those on local sports talk shows. What a relief to be back in the Quasipundit intellectual haven.

Humiliate the Little Buggers
Tony Adragna
Bon giorno, Will!.

I did read that "peer grading" story back on the 20th, but I did'nt want to turn anyting in on it for feer that I mite be maid fun of by my pears. I meen, the affect to my psycology, my self-esteam, will be with me for my hole life.

Seriously, I think that the stronger argument is the one that goes to the impact on the child in the classroom, and whether or not the policy adds anything of value to what's supposed to take place in the classroom. I think that it's a stupid policy, but certainly not a "privacy" infringement. The argument that it "saves teachers enormous time, allowing them to focus on curriculum, creativity and grading important tests" sounds a lot to me like simply passing off the "dirty work" so they can devote themselves to the "fun work" - wouldn't we all like to do that. There are good and bad points to be made by both parties, I just hope that they don't lose focus on THE CHILDREN.

Who's making fun of you, Will? I would never do such a thing! I'll make fun of Kass, though, because I think he's one of those mindless Star Wars clones - maybe not genetically, but his memes seem to look much too similar to some other modern day moralists who rely on rational ignorance in making argument. Hell, Kass isn't even really an "ethicist" - he's a scientist (M.D. and Biochemist). OK, he's "A scholar of bioethics": if that makes him an ethicist, then Dorothy Kearns Goodwin has been our first female president for a long time now.

Photo of Leon Kass from University of Chicago Magazine, Dec. 1994, Investigations article on Kass' book "the Hungry Soul"

Now Here's a Real Controversy ....

Will Vehrs

Tony, let me pause briefly from being cuffed around in the cloning debate and being inoffensively upbraided on my social security views by Joe Britt in our Forum. My issue of the day is student grading of papers.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in an Oklahoma case that has caused six states to ban the practice of students grading each other's work in the classroom. A mother, concerned that her son was being humiliated on a daily basis by other students who were grading his papers or knew his scores, sued the school district and won. The district has appealed and is supported by the NEA and the Bush administration.

I don't want kids humiliated, but I think teachers ought to be free to run their classrooms as they see fit. I hope the court rules for the school district. Where are you on this, Tony? Oh, and stop making fun of me.

Monday, November 26, 2001
That's the worst kind...
Tony Adragna
... somebody who sounds so "reasonable". Even Kass' TNR article from last May sounds "reasonable" - it's very telling that the article appears in TNR's "Politics" section. I simply don't find Kass' argument convincing. I didn't find anything substantive in his comments tonight, either - merely a reiteration of his support for the president's position. I'll wait for the transcript so I can carefully pore over it before I comment further on Kass.

A Good Debate
Will Vehrs
Tony, there was a good cloning discussion/debate on the News Hour tonight between Leon Kass of the University of Chicago and Ronald Green of Dartmouth. I'm as ambivalent as ever. Kass, who has been roundly criticized for his views, was more reasonable than I expected.

Punditwatch Scavenging, Maryland Politics, and Cloning
Will Vehrs
Tony, first you steal Punditwatch's thunder with the Safire quote I was going to use, then you steal Novak, too. I'll be left with Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan again if you keep this up.

I knew we had plenty of critics here in the USA; how'd you find that UK blogger who was razzing us? He did give us some good background on the crafty Garzon, a name that sounds like something from science fiction.

You can set up "dream" tickets for Maryland all you want. Kennedy-Townsend is a lock to be the nominee for governor. Drudge reported not so long ago that Talk magazine had made an illegal contribution to her campaign. Her money and reflected glitz (she's not particularly gifted as a speaker or campaigner) will scare off challengers. Being a celebrity goes a long way in the counties. She'll win and be on the short list for VP in 2004, setting her up as the John Edwards of 2008. Remember, Tony, you read it here first.

I'm strangely ambivalent about cloning. Like the war in Afghanistan, it has a long way to go and the toughest battles are still ahead. There appears to be some doubt that this particular new development is all it's cracked up to be, but it's only a matter of time before embryos are produced in large quantities for study. I know and accept that science will move forward; I generally believe government should stay out of these matters. I fervently hope that cloning will live up to its promise of extending life and treating disease. At the same time, however, I refuse to be overly critical of those who oppose cloning and see serious ethical questions. One man's moral dilemma is another man's potential miracle. I don't know how it is possible to see a slippery slope for civil liberties when a thousand immigrants are detained on secret charges and not see a slippery slope if a thousand genetically engineered embryos are created in secret. Let's hold a respectful debate--it is the nature of life itself that we're dealing with. I'm anxious to re-read your cloning essay, Tony.

QP critics abound
Tony Adragna
Iain Murray at "The Edge of England's Sword" takes us to task for missing "the identity of the key player in the drama." He's talking about Baltazar Garzon, and his criticism is unfair - I mentioned Garzon, and referenced the peculiarities of the "continental" legal system: that's precisely why I'd like Garzon to handle this matter.

Iain also takes Garzon to task for ignoring international law regarding "sovereign immunity" - um, Iain, aren't you forgetting something about your own history, like the beheading of that Scottish queen. Besides, there are other international laws dealing with crimes against humanity, and sovereigns aren't exmpted.

More on '02
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, gotta read Bob Novak's explanation for why the GOP fears 2002 races. He says that it's "Social Security", but he only alludes to why everybody is so concerned about privatizing (even partially). Remember "It's the economy, stupid!"? Even if the economy picks up there's still gonna be the spectre of all those "Elder Citizens" who lost money in their mutual funds earlier this year. Never mind the fact that the market has returned something like 12% per anum on average over the last 70-something years ( a little factoid I picked up while I was a banker ) - over the long term the trend has been steadily upward.

But, politics isn't about "facts" - it's about "emotions" (as is the economy right now).

I also heard something on Newschannel 8 this morning about a possible Maryland gubernatorial ticket -

Wayne Curry & Martin O'Malley photos from their "official" pages.

I think it would be a good ticket (yes, I am officially retracting my support for Doug Duncan - like he cares). Of course, the same segment mentioned Kennedy Townsend, but I still thing she doesn;t stand a chance n "the counties"...

Tony Adragna
Back on the 20th, right here at "Shouting..", I said, "I wish that some of the media "big boys" would echo the point I'm making here..." - Will Safire is definitely one of the "big boys": I wonder if he reads our content? I cited Ex Parte Merryman as having been left out of the "arguments" by those who use Lincoln's actions as good precedent for this administrations actions. Safire comes along and gives us Ex Parte Milligan - an argument against both this administration's proposed tribunals and those actual tribunals of FDR's administration. Of course, both Lincoln and Roosevelt were let off the hook, but in both instances congessional action - revoking habeas corpus (under certain conditions) in the former, and declaring war in the latter - played a key part in the Justices' decisions.

My favorite lines in Safire's piece are, "We in the tiny minority of editorialists on left and right who dare to point out such constitutional, moral and practical antiterrorist considerations are derided as 'professional hysterics' akin to 'antebellum Southern belles suffering the vapors.' Buncha weepy sissies, we are. (Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn - I've always been pro-bellum.)." I couldn't have said it any better (especially the parenthetical).

Speaking of "Will"s, check out Will Wilkinson's blog "The Fly Bottle". He's a doctoral candidate at University of Maryland and he has good sense enough to eat at Plato's Diner - he coulda been sitting in the next booth for all I know. He also had some things to say about the cloning debate - I'm going to resurrect an old "Quas" essay on cloning and republish it at "Left Field": the issue wasn't quite ripe then...

Update 12:36 p.m. : Mr. Bush speaks up on cloning success: "The use of embryos to clone is wrong," he said. "We should not, as a society, grow life to destroy it, and that's exactly what is taking place." Ari Fleischer said that Bush "hopes that as a result of this first crossing of the line - and the first step into a morally consequential realm of creating a life to take a life in the name of science - that the Senate will act on the House legislation so that this procedure can be banned,"

I think that congress needs to deal with this issue by not dealing with it...

Safire Buttresses Tony's UCMJ Position

Will Vehrs

Tony, you've been a stalwart defender of military justice and today William Safire joins your crusade (can I use that word? I know Bush can't ....). I'll have more to say about Safire in Wednesday's Punditwatch, but here's the quote that should warm your heart:

Worse, [Bush's] gung-ho advisers have convinced him — as well as some gullible commentators — that the Star Chamber tribunals he has ordered are "implementations" of the lawful Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Military attorneys are silently seething because they know that to be untrue. The U.C.M.J. demands a public trial, proof beyond reasonable doubt, an accused's voice in the selection of juries and right to choose counsel, unanimity in death sentencing and above all appellate review by civilians confirmed by the Senate. Not one of those fundamental rights can be found in Bush's military order setting up kangaroo courts for people he designates before "trial" to be terrorists. Bush's fiat turns back the clock on all advances in military justice, through three wars, in the past half-century.

I have always agreed with you that the Universal Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a fair and balanced judicial system. Nonetheless, I am a defender of the Military Tribunals because I think they are a tool the President should have for extraordinary circumstances and a tool that can be useful in diplomatic negotiations. I predict this tool will not be used on more than one suspect, if at all, and that that suspect will not receive the death penalty.

The last time I looked, our Forum was down, so I was unable to see if anyone had added to last night's substantive Queen Noor thread ....

Sunday, November 25, 2001
Tony Adragna
Still haven't made it to see HP. We just got back from the mall, where we couldn't get a ticket to see the 7:00 p.m. or the 9:45 p.m. shows - this sucks. So, we went to dinner at Plato's Diner and called it a night.

That was in interesting article that you pointed to this morning, kinda goes along with the bit from yesterday about the loss of "characters", and I should add "character", in our federal legislature - well, they're all bad except the one I vote for (I would count Sarbanes & Mikulski as "characters", but they weren't elected in the last ten years).

I didn't catch FTN, and the transcript isn't up yet, but my response is "I refer the gentlement to the answer I gave..." I bet he didn't even seek the help of a law librarian in researching the topic before shooting off his mouth. There's a couple of law professors that I'd like to hear address this issue - Joe Biden and Father Drinan: if they screw it up, then all hope is lost for an honest debate.

I haven't read too much today - been foolin' around with HTML code. Don't have a clue what I'm doing, but it seems to be working - I even got a second page up: "Blogs of Note". More to come as soon as we figure out what else we want to do.

On the international relations front - I'm watching the Junkyard Wars two hour Mega War. Three teams from different countries - US, UK, & Russia - building a multipurpose vehicle out of junk. I love this show...

Check the Latest Punditwatch

The pundits rush pell mell from the tired Afghan cross and double cross stories to a rejeuvenated human cloning debate. It's all in today's TV Punditwatch.

Our Prayers Are With You, Glenn
Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna
Glenn Reynolds' father-in-law died last night. We extend our sympathy to the peerless Instapundit and his family

The New Look, and Bad News for Political Junkies
Will Vehrs
Tony, I like the new Quasipundit home page and the new moniker for our brand of cyber conversations, "Shouting 'Cross the Potomac." It's great being on the Quasipundit staff--I bloviate, you work late.

This morning's Washington Post has another one of those periodic updates on how the political landscape looks for 2002 and control of Congress. It touches on one of my hot button issues--the anti-democratic nature of redistricting, more aptly described now as "high tech" gerrymandering.

Redistricting has shored up more incumbents than opened new seats, so only about two dozen House contests -- a smaller number than in the previous election cycle -- are likely to be truly competitive.

Political junkies will continue to have fewer and fewer campaigns that are worth following, and Congress will continue to be polarized because Representatives have less fear of being challenged from the center. Their fear is being challenged on the right or left of their own party, making them even less willing to compromise on floor votes.

Special Bulletin to Tony: Professor David Cole of Georgetown University, appearing on Face the Nation, just said "Military justice is not justice." Please be careful when you're bouncing off the walls ....