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Saturday, December 29, 2001
BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Amendment argument accomplished

Andrew Hofer: Defense debate defined

Damian Penny: Times, Tastes, Ted; Torstar's turbulent times;

Dr. Frank: Rings Rule; regarding rituals; required Republican reading

Moira Breen: Loose Lips; loathsome lackeys

Tim Blair: completely convoluted conventional cliches; compassionate correspondent; can't cure comtemptible cowardice; crazy correspondent

Duncan Fitzgerald: Greed; geeks, gods

Alex Knapp: Polish pork producers; Powell pushes peace; positively promising polymer; pukemaking peace prose

protein wisdom: Wepwesentative Widing Waves; wascally wabbits wounded; wandering westward; Walker's woman; Will's warfare

What am I doin'? - somebody already read these blogs!

There is one battle I will join
Tony Adragna
The war between my favourite "not bad dude" Brian Linse and the folks over at Libertarian Samizdata. I have to throw in with Brian on the 2nd Amendment v. gun regulation debate.

The problem that I have with the libertarian argument is that it ignores the question of whether or not their might be some compelling interest in a state regulating gun ownership. In a perfect world, where everybody execises their rights responsibly, I would agree with libertarians. But, we don't live in a perfect world - even the NRA would agree that felons convicted of violent crimes ought be prevented from owning guns, and If libertarians disagree with this position, then we need go no further in the debate - positions are irreconcilable. If, however, you agree with the premise that there are people who ought not own guns, then you've conceded on regulation - de facto self-regulation at least.

I acknowledge the evidence that suggests "registration leads to confiscation", but how relevant is that evidence in light of our 2nd Amendment? Not very! That's the whole point of Brian's argument - our constitution requires that the infringement of an individual right must withstand strict scrutiny. Once our Supreme Court finally gets around to addressing the 2nd Amendment in favor of individual rights, then we can deal with the question of what constitutes a compelling interest in regulating gun ownership. Under strict scrutiny standards the government's ability to regulate is sufficiently restricted so that the government can only act where a failure to act endangers the public good.

I also have a problem with part of the argument at Samizdata that deals with forfieture laws. Should the government prove "proceeds of criminal activity" prior to siezure? Yes, I agree! But, that badly enacted forfieture laws exist does not refute the argument that our constitution protects us, and grants redress from, government acts under those badly enacted statutes. OK, it's hard for me to argue "protection" when there is no de facto protection, but is there de facto protection from anything? Not in the real world.

I won't get into how "Currency Transaction Reports" are different from "Suspicious Transaction Reports" - I filed enough of both in my time as a banker. I don't see how either is an infringement of rights...

Depends on what "at" means...
Tony Adragna
You know, Will, I coulda used the phrase that my confessor used to describe me when I was in seminary - "shit disturber".

I refuse to answer Amber's question, I want her to be able to tell the truth when she responds, "I'm sorry Senator, but I have no knowledge of that". Where was I today? Well, I slept in til 3:00 PM - I was up late perusing my favourite anime porn sites...

Tony Adragna, International Man of Mystery

Will Vehrs

Tony, glad to see you're alive, well, and controversial as ever. You know, just "stirring the pot" is enough of an image for us, ok?

I note that you didn't say where you were ... just like you didn't answer Amber's question in The Refuge. Hmmmm... it's okay to be Austin Powers and do your best work in the darkness.

I don't know that we should favor Musharraf, but I certainly think he has earned neutrality from the US for the reasons you cite. Deeper US ties to both countries and that part of the world are probably long overdue. Handled properly, neutrality could work wonders. It's not like the Arab-Israeli conflict, where neutrality is difficult for a host of political, moral, and strategic reasons.

Sorry for the dearth of dispatches
Tony Adragna
Hey Will! I was putting some thought into my post below. I know that the statement is controversial, and I'll probably get some flak (I hope so, anyway! - stirring the chamber pot is one of my favourite pastimes).

I'll have some more stuff later. I do tend to file my dispatches late in the evening, remember?

I'm rootin' for Pakistan
Tony Adragna
Did I get anybody's attention?

OK, I'm not totally in Musharaff's corner, but I'm not ready to buy the argument that we should back India simply because India is a democracy and Pakistan isn't fully democratic. Democracies have been known to go haywire, too, and Musharaff is arguably the best thing to have happened to Pakistan since independence - he at least recognizes "The Threat", and referring to his recent action against Islamic militants as "cosmetic" is a mischaracterization: he's been at odds with religious extremists since before he siezed power (the Pakistani army is profoundly secular).

I'm not saying that the government in Islamabad, or Musharaff, don't truly support insurgency in Kashmir, but we need to recognize that, just as in Chechnya, there is a distinction between support for people pursuing what might be a valid claim through legitimate means, and supporting radical Islamic terrorism. Musharaff supports the former, but is in dispute with the ISI over the latter. Musharaff has attempted to rein in the ISI, appointing one of his loyalists to the leadership of that organization. The fact that Musharaff hasn't succeeded in forcing the ISI to toe-the-line, combined with his support for insurgency in Kashmir, makes it all too easy to accuse him of playing both sides of the fence: I don't see it that way.

Part of the problem is that we want to see India as the protagonist in this play, but is India pure as the freshly fallen Himalayan snow? Just listen to the rhetoric coming from Vajpayee, and there's your answer. India considers the whole of Pakistan's actions in Kashmir as "terrorism", never mind that fact that radical militant Hindu nationalists, whom Vajpayee supports, have been just as murderous as radical militant Muslim nationalists. I have less respect for Vajpayee than I do for Musharaff.

I don't think that we should throw our weight behind either party in this dispute - they're both at fault for their current problems. If I had to choose, though this is gonna sound stupid, I'd give my support to a moderate secular dictator (as long as I don't have to live under his rule), rather than a vitriolic democratic demagogue.

Tar Hell, er, Heel Report

Will Vehrs

Tony, I finally made it to NC after a nightmarish trip--I won't go into any details, except to suggest that some might sue a certain restaurant if they received the kind of service we did ....

Once here, my nieces were using their 2 hour parental control allotment on AOL, so I was forced to sit around and eat my sister's wonderful Christmas cookies while I waited. My sister is a cookie artist (when she's not a power company executive), decorating them so intricately that they look too nice to eat ... thankfully, she makes me a special tin of plain ones. The gingerbread men are to die for.

Interesting article on the front page of the Raleigh News and Observer--it seems that Elizabeth and Bob Dole sent out Christmas cards "From Our House to Yours." The only problem was that the picture wasn't of their Watergate apartment--it was a picture of Elizabeth Dole's 100 year old mother's house in Salisbury. The NC Senate candidate now owns the home. Guess she's getting a dose of the Hillary Clinton carpetbagger treatment.

There was also an amusing Tribune Media Services editorial cartoon. Sitting on a turretless tank, in easy chairs, were Defense Policy Board members Quayle, Gingrich, Armitage, Kissinger, and Perle, all shouting "Attack! On to Iraq!" Guess who the Danzinger cartoon had eating a Happy Meal and wearing a beanie?

Tony, where are you?

Above the fold
QuasiPundit's daily list of top stories, without commentary
Washington Post:

Front Page Image

Bush Presses India, Pakistan To Ease Conflict - CRAWFORD, Tex., Dec. 28 -- President Bush stepped into the growing conflict between India and Pakistan today, urging India's leaders to credit Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for acting "forcefully" against terrorism and to back away from moves that could lead to war.

Reports Suggest Economic Recovery - For the first time in many months, a series of economic indicators, released yesterday, all contained solidly positive news, suggesting to many analysts that the recession that hit the U.S. economy last spring may end soon.

New Delhi Lays Blame - NEW DELHI, Dec. 28 -- The first clues about who might be responsible for the recent attack on India's Parliament came from the mobile phones that the five assailants carried with them. Less than 72 hours after the attack, police officials announced that numbers stored in the phones had led them to four suspects, one of whom said the assault was the work of a militant group fighting to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

U.S. Forces Facing Long Afghan Stay, President Asserts - CRAWFORD, Tex., Dec. 28 — President Bush said today that he expected American troops to remain in Afghanistan for "quite a long period of time" to flush out remaining Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters and to interrogate, fingerprint and process more than 6,000 prisoners of war.

Giuliani Presents Deal on Stadiums - Trying to seal an 11th-hour deal on one of his most cherished projects, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday that he had entered into tentative deals with the New York Yankees and the New York Mets to build stadiums for a combined $1.6 billion in the backyards of the teams' current ballparks.

Pakistan Moves Against Groups Named by India - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 28 — In a step aimed at defusing the threat of war with India, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has ordered the arrest of about 50 leading members of two Islamic militant groups accused by India of mounting an attack on India's Parliament two weeks ago, Western diplomats in Pakistan said today.

'New' U.S. War: Commandos, Airstrikes and Allies on the Ground - ALALABAD, Afghanistan, Dec. 28 — The military campaign in Afghanistan was a striking success for a new style of warfare, in which American commandos took center stage and played a vital role in organizing the Afghan resistance and directing punishing airstrikes.

Washington Times:

India, Pakistan fire along borders - NEW DELHI, India — As India and Pakistan shot at each other and spoke of war, weeping friends and relatives on both sides bid farewell yesterday before the two nations sever their land and air links for the first time in 30 years.

Bush: Afghan stay will be 'long' - CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush yesterday predicted that U.S. forces would remain in Afghanistan "for quite a long period of time" and dismissed Osama bin Laden as a marginalized figure who has been decimated by the American offensive and might already be dead.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Shoe Explosives Could Have Put Hole in Airliner - BOSTON -- British bombing suspect Richard C. Reid had a potentially catastrophic mix of explosives in his shoes that, if ignited, could have blown a hole in the fuselage of the Miami-bound jet he boarded in Paris last week, authorities said Friday.

Terrorists Are Difficult to Profile - PARIS -- At first glance, Richard C. Reid doesn't fit the image of the stealthy, disciplined, highly trained terrorist that was burned into the public imagination by the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Time on U.S. Side, Bush Says of Hunt - CRAWFORD, Texas -- "It's just a matter of time" before the United States captures Osama bin Laden, President Bush said Friday, expressing no concern that U.S. forces don't know where the terrorist leader is or when he might be found.

A New, More Dangerous Crisis Abuts Afghanistan - WASHINGTON -- After more than three months of single-minded concentration on defeating terrorism, the Bush administration faces a potentially more dangerous foreign policy crisis in the confrontation between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

'On Call' but Not Replying - The man had nearly cut off three fingers with a table saw and arrived at the hospital in desperate need of a surgeon to reattach them.

But the hand surgeon on call refused to come in, saying he was too tired and busy caring for nonemergency patients in his office.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

Headin' South
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm hitting the road in a few minutes to visit my sister and her family in Wake Forest, NC. I'll be back Monday. I should be able to post a bit from that dateline ... keep everybody updated on the would-be war while I'm enroute.

I like your idea of highlighting interesting bits from the Washington Post's Style section--there's a lot of good stuff there, even though it's "way deep" or "deep inside" in cyber lingo. And, Tony, you have always been the legitmate go-to guy on definitions ... Oct 4th was just another ho-hum day where you were ahead of the curve . . . .

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
AM Edition - by Will Vehrs

What's Hot: Victor Hanson, gun fighting.

Joshua Micah Marshall Micro Morris, the big Me.

Charles Johnson. Al Jazeera hypo; readers storm profiling; El Al does it right; Hanson blasts bromides; Mead matters; Fisk's noxious emissions.

Jeff Jarvis Hospital surge=Interstate system; Shoe boy links; more for Ridge.

Libertarian Samizdata Perry piles on; Walter "Ain't No Bad Guns" Ulman takes on Linse; check your axioms at the door, Brian.

Steven Den Beste Why the West won; the world according to blogger--funeral Pyra? bring back Zinni; less to Euro than meets the eye; crazy machine gun; we're all terrorists.

Dawson bitch slap; back in '02.

Kathy Kinsley Low self-esteem works; tribunal draft looks good; Tim Blair beats bellicose woman to the punch.

Justin Slotman I don't get Doonesbury; rumors swirl around Popeye and Bluto.

Ken Goldstein The parent trap.

Kevin Holtsberry Tip me--my wife is watching.

Alex Knapp EU to Polish Farmers--Drop Dead; blog policy; brutal savage no role model.

Blog watching, Aussie-style: Click here.

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Guns not allowed at the pool; Rooter & Hooters; A must read - if it ever gets wrote

Andrew Hofer: A number of ways to founder around in a "Parallel Universe"

Damian Penny: Jeffrey Simpson admits mistakes (I wonder if that was a mistake - Tony); No, bin Laden is rally Pilger

Dr. Frank: Dispatches from The Shire - leave me a note, but don't give it to Mr. Butterber...

Moira Breen: "...anathematizing monster truck-pulls..."; Jewish Democrats support Israel?; Red Cross covered in PR gore

Tim Blair: Shopping with Fisk; fire-walking record set (note to Tim: we would be happy to reciprocate for the fine "fireys" who helped us last year - Tony)

Duncan Fitzgerald: Check out The Capitol Hill Crier; the ultimate source of terrorist funding; dead Afghans don't taste good; we are here, get over it "Big Boys"

William Quick: BS on ANBD; Canadians can't even commit suicide properly; making the "snail" smarter; Somali thugs complaining about thuggery

Alex Knapp: America is too freer...

Watch it down under!

Friday, December 28, 2001
Cleaning out the attic...
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, I think I'm gonna make this a daily entry - I see a lot of good stuff in the Post style section (the only paper that I read in actual print) during my morning Metro ride, and some of it is interesting, yet not deserving of any real commentary. So, here goes...

Remember all of my talk about box offices saving the economy - does the presence of Greenspan at the LOTR opening mean anything?

I always bite the heads off first.

Who needs movie critics? - people know what they like!

Defining Moment in Terrorism
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, I've got another juicy little ort that you missed in the fray - on October 4th, in response to a Mike Kinsley "Readme" column, I proposed a definition of terrorism that read: "any illegitimate act of violence or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping, and assassination, carried out for political purposes" ( I then went on to attempt giving that definition some context). The post generated the largest number of responses that I had ever gotten (61), and I responded to most of them (with some help from our friend) - you wanna know what the stupidest criticism of my definition was? "Define illegitimate!"

OK, there were some who meant that question to be read, "Illegitimate according to who?", and that's a fair question. If the standard to be used is solely domestic law, then we run up against the question of whether or not the law ought be defended. I think that we can get around this problem by constructing an agreement using the conventions on warfare as a model - clearly defining certain acts as illegitimate no matter the legitimacy of the cause. The only obstacle to such an agreement is the obstinancy of certain radical militants that desire justification of the unjustifiable.

Well, that's not the only obstacle: there are also certain knuckleheaded institutions that are only too happy to muddle the definition to the point where it could alternately accept "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" as a defense, or define what we did to the Taliban as a "terrorist act". These are the people who would ask me to "define illegitimate" in another context - "what do you mean by illegitimate acts". It appears that the EU decided not to settle that question, focusing instead on purpose. If we continue to define terrorism by purpose then we don't have a practical definition - we're left with the ad hoc approach in which "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" still gives thugs all the wiggle room that they need.

"We'll deal with those people, too"...

Steve Den Beste also has some good observations on why you should "Travel not to Europe on vacation"

Parallel Partitions
Tony Adragna
I don't know whether I have the "credentials" to produce a serious essay on the issue, but I'm considering putting down my thoughts (in my now famous mini essay form) on the badly played endgame of the "colonial period". While the colonial powers aren't to be faulted for the belligerancy of the parties, I think that the 1947 partition plans (in both the Middle East and on the Subcontinent) may have done more harm than good.

I'm in the "political posturing camp" - I don't think that India and Pakistan really want this to blow up. Left to diplomacy, I think the situation will return to normal (read: the conflict in Kashmir continues as before). The test is to make sure that nothing happens at "the front" - "Even a small little action could degenerate into a chain reaction that nobody could control"( Brig. Mohammed Yaqub Khan quoted in today's WaPo) - while the talking is going on.

Now, how can I defend "diplomacy" in this case when I've denounced it in our dealings with thugs? "India's Parliament was attacked, and you want us to talk?" Yes! It's because I think that Musharaff is headed in the right direction - not willing to give up his country's national interest in Kashmir, but willing to at least deal harshly with radical militants who put at risk any legitimacy to Pakistan's claims in Kashmir (as well as posing a threat to his own regime): if only Vajpayee could do the same with Hindu nationalist militants...

The Latest From Tom On Indi-Pak
Will Vehrs
Tom Roberts, who wrote us yesterday on the India-Pakistan situation, has thought a bit more about what is more likely--war or peace.

He sees misperceptions on both sides, and both sides playing to domestic political forces:

From such misperceptions are the introits to world wars cut. This situation
is eerily remniscent of August 1914 with various countries already in the
process of mobilization in support of diplomatic goals only peripherally
important to their actual national interests.

Tom thinks there is some hope that the US can broker a peace because of the risks both nations face. He assesses the effect of the US forces in the region:

At this point the only practical restraint on this situation are the US
deployed assets at the Pakistani airfields around Quetta and Peshawar.
Unofficially I'm sure the US has told India that starting a war with US
assets in Pakistan would be very unwise. But I'd guess also that the USAF
commanders of those detachments also have been given warning to prepare to
pull out everybody given a few hours warning. At best this just means that
if India goes to war, the shooting will be confined to Kashmir initially,
giving time for the US to pull out. Rumsfeld saliently mentioned these
issues in the 27 Dec press conference.

I'll keep sharing Tom's thoughts on this very dangerous stand-off.

Moira Redmond's Best
Will Vehrs
Slate's Moira Redmond has just published a superb year-end "Best of the Fray," and not just because she mentions us, Tony. Out of hundreds of thousands of posts, she has picked some truly outstanding ones as representative of a year to remember. Glenn Reynolds (he was A. G. Android back then), Joseph Britt, and Arthur Stock, Quasipundit readers all, are there, and deservedly so. Moira Redmond has one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in all of journalism--thanks for all her discerning work this past year, and best wishes for a great 2002 Fray posting year.

Advantage, Instapundit
Will Vehrs
Tony, I just finished reading Glenn Reynolds' excellent piece in today's print Wall Street Journal--"Community by the Book." While I think Glenn is rightly heralded for his insightful political commentary, he's an underrated observer of the American cultural landscape, too--David Brooks with a real job.

You can wait to see his article when he posts it on Instapundit, or you can invest a buck and get not just Glenn, but all the other good stuff that WSJ subscribers pay the big bucks for.

Practicing What We Preach
Will Vehrs
Tony, I agree with you that Paul Krugman could benefit from bellying up to the bar with us--or Will Allen, who, in his usual pungent style, assessed Krugman in The Refuge. The contrast between communication (or lack thereof) with readers in the Krugman world and in the blog world is stark. Granted, Krugman has a larger audience and more journalistic commitments than most bloggers, but look what happened when I asked Jeff Jarvis to more fully explain one of his pronouncements.

I emailed Jeff with my questions. Jeff acknowledged my request and promised to cover it in his fine cyber gazette, WarLog: World War III. True to his word, he provided a much more complete clarification of his views. I thanked him for responding and while I didn't necessarily agree with him on all points, I felt he had cleared the air. He could have ignored me or slammed me with some version of "you have no credentials." Instead, he responded positively. In short, it's not too much to ask that a pundit/blogger deal with feedback when it's warranted. Most bloggers do; a lot of pundits don't. Instead of those "mail it in" columns big-time pundits sometimes write when they're in a hurry or have nothing to say, they ought to consider a "mail bag" column to at least let their readers know feedback is important.

Odds and Ends:

Dan Dickinson is consistently the wittiest poster in The Refuge--not to mention one of the most provocative. I'm glad he's a frequent contributor.

So far, President Bush's personal attorney hasn't had much of a public profile (it's early yet!). He (she?) has a letter to the editor in today's Washington Post, defending Bush's decision of where to send his Texas gubernatorial papers.

Speaking of the Washington Post, they are finally giving big play to the Indo-Paki conflict, vindicating Tom Roberts somewhat. Most of the pundits I'm following are downplaying the chances of a large scale war--they're predicting a continuation of the never ending hostilities you mention, Tony. Poor Kashmir--both countries want it, but if the plebescite neither country wants were held, the residents would probably vote for independence.

Above the fold
QuasiPundit's daily list of top stories, without commentary
Washington Post: Front Page Image

India and Pakistan Exchange Sanctions - NEW DELHI, Dec. 27 -- Escalating its dispute with Pakistan, India today banned Pakistan's national airline from entering Indian airspace, ordered Pakistan to withdraw half of its 110-person diplomatic mission here and ruled out talks to defuse a tense military standoff along their shared border.

Terrorism Tribunal Rights Are Expanded - International terrorism suspects brought before U.S. military commissions would be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, could be sentenced to death only by a unanimous vote of the commissions' members and would have the right to an appeal, according to draft procedures for the commissions.

U.S. Anti-Terror Effort May Be Diluted If Pakistan Calls on Army to Fight India - CAMP SHAHEEN, Pakistan, Dec. 27 -- Pakistani and Indian troops eyed one another today across a 200-yard ravine here in the steep Kashmiri hills, a potential flash point for renewed conflict that was not in the script when the Bush administration recruited Pakistan as its main regional ally in the war on terrorism.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Rules on Tribunal Require Unanimity on Death Penalty - WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 — The military tribunals that may be used to try Al Qaeda members and others accused of terrorism will require a unanimous verdict to impose a death penalty, although a two-thirds vote of the panel of military officers will be enough to find someone guilty, according to rules drafted by senior Bush administration officials.

In Final Address, Giuliani Envisions Soaring Memorial - In his official farewell address to New Yorkers after eight years in office, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani promised yesterday that he would push for a "soaring, monumental" memorial to be built at the World Trade Center site. He also said he felt that he and others were obligated to make sure that ground zero was sanctified and not controlled by economic development.

Bin Laden Fled Into Pakistan, Afghans Report - KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 27 — An Afghan defense official said tonight that Osama bin Laden had escaped the country and was hiding in the mountainous border region of Pakistan. The Pentagon dismissed the report but said it had no idea of his whereabouts.

Terror Cells Slip Through Europe's Grasp - PARIS — Late last July in Afghanistan, after months of terrorist training, Jamal Beghal, an Algerian-born Frenchman, was summoned to the home of a senior aide to Osama bin Laden.

Washington Times:

U.S. fears Kashmir strife endangers war - The United States yesterday cautioned India and Pakistan that the escalating conflict between them could hurt the U.S.-led anti-terrorism effort, as the two nuclear rivals traded sanctions and continued their biggest military buildup in nearly 15 years.

Military mission turns to searches, interrogations -- The Washington Times - With the Taliban vanquished, the U.S. military in Afghanistan has shifted its mission to three main tasks that could determine whether the new government survives and whether al Qaeda cells collapse around the world.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

POWs Will Go to Base in Cuba - WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is readying the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to hold captured Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.

Asia Rivals Trade Diplomatic Blows - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- As India and Pakistan moved more troops to their increasingly tense border, the nuclear-armed rivals exchanged diplomatic fire Thursday, with each ordering that the other's embassy staff be cut by half.

A New Focus on Fighting In-Air Risks - WASHINGTON -- A weekend incident in which passengers and flight attendants subdued a possible suicide bomber is fueling a debate among airlines, passengers and crew members over how to prevent such incidents without creating additional risks.

Squalor Amid the Glitter - SAN FRANCISCO -- Wei Xi He lives two stories above Grant Avenue, the main tourist artery in the nation's oldest Chinatown, with its souvenir shops selling ginseng and bright paper lanterns and the aroma of roast duck and twice-cooked pork floating up from the restaurants that line the block.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
AM Edition - by Will Vehrs

What's Hot: Mark Steyn; cross-blog debates.

Joanne Jacobs: Motormouth lying Rivera; shitty big US?; Pashtun culture.

Joshua Micah Marshall Perles of disingenuity; OBL lost his flak; I told you so!

Charles Johnson. Supporting Israel in spite of the Jews; PETN on Pan Am 800.

Jeff Jarvis Ridge swat team "to do" list for Vehrs; botched anthrax investigation; cops count rads.

Libertarian Samizdata Perry quibbles, sees sainthood; takes on Linse; loophole ficticious, says Walter; Natalija off to Vienna after tingles.

Steven Den Beste Tribal bitching; The Ice Sheet Cometh; forget bin Laden--fight on; the power of information; Karzai's challenge.

Dawson Big britches scores 6; Samizdata v. Linse; hacker's penis; butt licker's link removed; Coulter cheesecake.

Kevin Holtsberry Samizdata charity sex stand troubling; politicians not sleazy money grubbers--honest!

Kathy Kinsley I love the smell of book burning in the morning; errant pendantry she will up with not put; a ditty with apologies; new cartoon.

Click here for the original Blog Watcher--beware of cheap imitations!

Thursday, December 27, 2001
Indo-Paki Conflict
Tony Adragna
I can't add anything to Tom's assessment, but I'd like to emphasize two points that he makes.

The North Arabian Sea area isn't very big - I've been there. We might see the belligerants attempt sea launched attacks at land targets, but I'll second the opinion that any kind of engagement at sea between the two navies just isn't in the works.

Tom points out that "Tactically, the battle has already started." It might serve us well to remember that the battle never ended. These two nations have been at war with each other since the partition, neither side having been satisfied with that political solution (is there a parallel here with the Israel-Palestine partition?). The war has waxed and waned - sometimes officially on, sometimes officially off, but never has there been a de facto cessation of hostilities in that disputed region. OK, things are getting heated up again. and I'm not sure which way things are gonna go this time, but my sense is that things will probably cool off just as quickly as they warmed up...

Memo to Krugman
RE: "Credentialism"
Tony Adragna
Krugman might be a "brilliant" economist with a Ph.D and all, but some people are just too damned smart for their own good. Krugman oughta belly up to the bar with us sometime - he might learn something...

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Bush Through the Looking Glass; Occam was shaving on Flight 587; loopy choir full of wackos - gimme a gun

Andrew Hofer: Beautiful Minds need to be locked up sometimes

Damian Penny: 'Tis about Time that Jonah's right; Osama bin Laden is actually Robert Fisk

Dr. Frank: American learns a 2nd language in Britain - English

Tim Blair: Stupid snobs rest on broad sheets; praying for rain; Tourist Guy still making his rounds

protein wisdom: Class, who can answer this question(naire)?; fake friends and real meat (or was that the other way around?); that fat lady was smoking in the park - arrest her

New sites added to QP's "Blogs of Note":
The Blogical Suspects
Random Jottings

Click here: for more "Blog Watch"ing

Great Pundit Watcher....
Lousy Agent!
Tony Adragna
Come on, Will - just a single appearance on Larry's show? Is that the best you could do? I wanted a "newsmaker" interview on the NewsHour, then a screaming match with Chris Matthews, and the tour was supposed to end in an O'Reilly segment (betcha I could get Bill "spinning").

This weather is definitely weird! But, the season isn't over yet - I remember snow in DC as late as April. I actually wanted at least a dusting for Christmas, but I shouldn't complain - we're having much better weather than Tim. BTW, the Australian fires got a "Brief"mention in the WaPo today.

Big news from Miami: cute little marsh turtles that live up the road from me showed up in Florida today. There's another batch of turtles going to Florida, too - wassup widat?

I'll be back later - just got home from Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and I need to catch up (I still haven't finished my last reading assignment from Tom - good stuff, but not light fare)...

Big Countries, Big Conflict, Puny Coverage
Will Vehrs
Tony, we just got an email from Tom Roberts, our old star-poster friend from Slate. Tom is one of the most insightful amateur observers of foreign policy I've ever encountered--he doesn't just concentrate on the US, as will be obvious when I begin quoting liberally from him.

I'd been trying to cobble together something that would express my unease at the India-Pakistan conflict and its coverage in the US media. Tom does that and more:

The press as usual is blowing the detailed coverage of this crisis and its
doing it several ways.

1. with the exception of the Times of India and other local papers, the
western press doesn't have anybody on location. Perhaps this is due to the
fact that it took them 2 months to walk the reporters into Kabul so it will
take them at least as long to walk out. In any case, if it doesn't come out
of the Indian press I'd figure any coverage was at least 24 hours old.

2. I have yet to read a detailed order of battle for either side's
conventional forces.

a. The best estimates I've read are that the Indian Army is twice as large
as Pakistan's and is approximately 1.5 million men under arms. Approximately
a half million are stationed in Kashmir. However, India has to station
significant numbers of troops elsewhere due to ongoing revolts in Assam and
in the south. The Indians have a decisive advantage over the Pakistanis in
numbers of artillery and tanks, but what that implies in the mountains of
Kashmir in the winter is hard to assess. More pertinent is their advantage
in helicopters, but these are of Soviet vintage and are good only relative
to the antique Pakistani models. It is hard to say if either side's
helicopter forces will be useable in a modern sense. From the TofIndia
stories I've been reading both sides have reinforced Kashmir with several
corps of infantry and what is moving up now is enough artillery ammunition
to do another Battle of the Somme (see some of my comments on tactics,

b. In aircraft the Indians will swamp the Pakistanis. This has implications
in the nuclear delivery arena (see below). FAS has good estimates.

c. The Indian Navy would sink the Pakistani navy, but with so many US and
Royal Navy ships in the Arabian Sea I don't think the naval forces will ever
come into contact for fear of getting shot at by third parties.

3. The nuclear order of battle is slightly hazy.
Here is a good source.

a. You may remember the "who is in control of the Paki nukes?" controversy
some weeks back. Even then nobody was saying exactly what we were concerned
about although the number of warheads was put at 20-24. I'm not sure if that
is a good estimate for actually operational warheads or if these were even
mate able to a delivery system. If they aren't missile deliverable, then the
Indian preponderance in Air Forces will be important, as Musharraf isn't
going to be putting his crown jewels on kamikaze flights which may well get
shot down until there is nothing left to threaten India with. But the
missiles could get shot off at any point in the conflict.

b. puts the Indian inventory at about 60 warheads and these may be
missile or air delivered. Notably, a warhead can't be either air or missile
delivered as the mating requirements and fusing are non compatible. That
goes for the Paki items as well. cites all the Indian and Paki tests
as being in the 10-70 kT range, which would make them fairly mediocre city
busters (Hiroshima plus) or more useful as tactical weapons. For political
reasons Indian has chosen to use its internal missile research to provide
delivery vehicles instead of following Pakistan's lead in buying from
abroad. This raises the question of whether the Indian missiles can actually
do the job or not, as they haven't been tested in that exact mode. As the US
NMD program test have shown, doing the components isn't the same as doing
the system perfectly. In any case, I'd bet that only 40-60% of any nuclear
systems used in anger would actually work as designed.

c. Nuclear command and control is one area where Pakistan may actually have
a significant advantage. The Indian services are riven with contradictory
motives and this extends to the nuclear arms arena also. A reform of the
Indian General Staff was in the works until the Tehelka Procurement Scandal
caused most of the reformers to either get fired or hide. Part of that
reform was to be a consolidation of a centralized strategic targeting group
along US or Russian lines. From what I've read, not much has happened, so
the decision to shoot at what target may come down to a Parliamentary
committee vote. That means that practically India won't shoot first, which
is good. What is bad is that Pakistan will not have any such restriction on
when or how they use nuclear weapons.

4. Tactically, the battle has already started. Both sides are fighting
artillery duels in Kashmir with the objective of forestalling the opposite
side's deployment of infantry next to the line of contact. Initial reports
have the Indian artillery as doing a better job of it, but this is probably
due to the poor coverage coming from Pakistan. After the Kargil War, the
Indian Army will have no compunction in spending the ammo to do what is
needed and a simple
push may be in the cards. But the TofIndia today had Fernandes describing a special ops insertion
supported by two infantry corps. If you look at a map
of Kashmir, you can note that the Pakistani position is very mountainous but
lacks tactical and strategic depth. Especially in the winter, if the Indians
can cut the Pakistani communications lines to the west, the battle is over.
I'd bet you won't see a detailed map of Kashmir in a US paper though.
(here's a great source ).

5. Strategy. If you are clever you would have noticed that just west of
Pakistani Kashmir is the capital of Pakistan: Islamabad. If the battle goes
badly for the Pakistanis in Kashmir, the country's administrative structure
falls. This gives you an idea of why Kashmir is so important for Pakistan,
along with why the extended southern border is less of an immediate issue.
However, the war can be won or lost in the plains of the Punjab and Rajastan
as well as the mountains of Kashmir, and this is why the Indian Army has the
largest collection of tanks in the world outside of the Russian Army. In
fact, they may have the largest collection of operational tanks as the
Russian collection is not in very good shape. This would seem to make the
Pakistani case nearly intractable but for the implicit threat of Chinese
intervention in either Nepal, Sikkim, or India proper. Refer to this
and note that Kashmir also has a Chinese controlled sector which India does not
recognize, and you can parse the latest reports about PRC border guards
pulling up boundary stones in Sikkim. The mere threat of PRC intervention
evens up the odds dramatically in both the military and diplomatic contexts.
Is any of this in the US papers? Not likely.

The news for the US isn't going to get better before it gets worse.
Hopefully it won't affect anti-Taliban efforts, but I can't see how it
won't. The US simply cannot afford to offend India in the long run so unless
Powell can pull a diplomatic rabbit out of his new top hat (don't they issue
top hats and tails to SecStates upon arrival?) the US is going to be looking
at the first big war of the 21st century from the sidelines.

Tom, that's a great analysis. Thanks, and let's hope the Bush team can halt the deterioration of this dangerous situation.

Pundit on a Pedestal
Will Vehrs
Tony, as you know, Jude Wanniski linked to Punditwatch yesterday. Wanniski had written a column on Paul Krugman of the New York Times, a frequent subject of my humble blog, and I dropped him a quick email to thank him for the mention. I was surprised to get a response from Wanniski; I was even more surprised by what he said.

In my thank you, I mentioned that he appeared to be one of the few pundits (you were another yesterday!) willing to challenge Krugman. I didn't know the half of it!

I've been sending him [Krugman] e-mail critiques for two years now, but he will not respond. He insists that I do not have the credentials to criticize him. I actually wrote a memo of praise on a Foreign Affairs article he wrote three or four years ago, that was decidedly supply-side, classical in orientation. He is neither fish nor fowl, though, which opens him up to the kind of criticisms I can deliver. He has great potential, but he has been told by so many people that he is a genius, he thinks he is and has nothing more to learn.

Obviously, I can't vouch for the accuracy of Wanniski's account of his dealings with Krugman and I am not an economist. I have no credentials to criticize or support either's substantive ideas. Krugman is brilliant. But Wanniski is no crazed stalker and if I have a criticism of Krugman, it is that he uses his column as a battering ram, unable or incapable of ascribing any validity to "the other side." If true, Krugman's attitude toward Wanniski is just the kind of ivory tower superiority of the opinion makers that nurtures blogs and other alternative news and opinion sources. No one is above criticism; virtually every opinion or idea can be debated. The best welcome dissenting views and enjoy defending their positions or taking down arguments against them.

I hope Jude Wanniski doesn't mind my sharing that portion of his email; I hope Paul Krugman sees the writing on the blog wall.

The Weather Factor
Will Vehrs
Tony, it's cold here in Richmond, VA--not Upstate NY cold, or Chicago cold, but colder than it has been in a long time. I suspect you're feeling the chill in Washington, DC, too.

One underappreciated factor in the nation's response to 9/11, in my opinion, has been the weather. There has been relatively little severe weather in the US since the terrorist attacks. On the East Coast, clear sunny days have been the norm. I honestly believe that the good weather has helped bolster American spirits since the terrorists struck. Were we stuck inside during cold, rain, or snow, we might have succumbed to the "Quagmire Crowd" during the first few weeks of military operations. In Afghanistan, as many have pointed out, nay-sayers predicting the debilitating effects of the Afghan winter missed the salutatory effects of global warming, or whatever has kept the theater of operations under sunny skies, perfect for bombing runs.

I don't know how 2002 will be weather-wise, but the late 2001 clear, warm skies helped us persevere and develop an optimism that I think will last through whatever Mother Nature throws at us now.

Above the fold
QuasiPundit's daily list of top stories, without commentary
Washington Post: Front Page Image

Indian Missiles Put 'in Position' - NEW DELHI, Dec. 26 -- India deployed ballistic missile batteries and increased jet fighter patrols along its border with Pakistan today, Indian officials said, as tensions intensified between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

A Transfer Of Power In Colombia - PARAISO, Colombia -- It is hard to imagine a place more misnamed than this village in northern Colombia's San Lucas Range. Paradise has had a difficult year.

U-Md.'s Other Winning Team - This season, for the first time in a quarter-century, the University of Maryland has a men's basketball team and a football team that both rank in the top 10 in the country, inspiring a surge of school spirit, an onslaught of donations and blanket coverage from sports publications.

Old Strategy on Iraq Sparks New Debate - Three years ago, the man who is now White House counterterrorism chief drew up a plan for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It was never implemented, but from today's perspective, the strategy devised by retired Army Gen. Wayne A. Downing for toppling a tyrannical regime has a familiar ring to it.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

U.S. Putting Off Plan to Use G.I.'s in Afghan Caves - JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Dec. 26 — The United States military is revising a risky plan for American troops to search the caves of Tora Bora for traces of Osama bin Laden and other fighters of Al Qaeda, and is offering incentives to get Afghan forces to take the lead, American officials said today.

Holy War Lured Saudis as Rulers Looked Away - RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 21 — In the last decade, as thousands of young Saudis left their country to wage Islamic holy war, Saudi leaders let them go, aware of the danger they might pose to the United States, but more focused on the danger they would pose at home.

Late Shopping Gives Retailers a Slight Boost - A surge of last-minute shopping may have given the nation's retailers and the economy a small boost, according to several reports on holiday sales released yesterday.

Powell Tries to Ease Tension as Kashmir Pressure Builds - WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell telephoned leaders in India and Pakistan twice each today to urge them to calm the tensions that have mounted between the two nuclear-armed rivals since a suicide attack on India's Parliament almost two weeks ago, officials said.

Washington Times:

Bin Laden alive in December, tape indicates - CAIRO — A Qatar-based television station aired a videotape yesterday of Osama bin Laden, whose statements indicated he was speaking in the first half of December.

Suspect talked of jihad - LONDON — Richard C. Reid, the man accused of trying to blow up an American Airlines trans-Atlantic flight by detonating explosives in his shoes, spoke approvingly of suicide attacks and disappeared to Pakistan several months ago, his mother and acquaintances said yesterday.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Bomb Suspect Was at Camp, Detainees Say - WASHINGTON -- The Briton who allegedly tried to ignite explosives packed in his shoes on a Paris-Miami flight has been identified by captured Al Qaeda fighters as having attended a training camp in Afghanistan, adding to the suspicions of U.S. and European investigators that he is an Islamic terrorist, authorities said Wednesday.

Holiday Sales Are Soft, but It Could Have Been Worse - The 2001 holiday shopping season posted the slowest sales growth in a decade, a victim of American consumers turned skittish by terrorist attacks and an economic recession, according to initial retailing industry reports Wednesday.

Bin Laden Video Offers Few Clues on His Whereabouts - KABUL, Afghanistan -- As one of Afghanistan's new leaders warned Wednesday that fighters with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network are still at large, a newly released videotape of the terrorist mastermind raised questions about whether he had been killed in the massive U.S. bombing of the country.

Turning Girls Into Ladies - Six members of the Rose Parade's royal court share the same first name--and it is Princess. Princess Katherine. Princess Kimberlee. Princess Lauren. Princess Rachel. Princess Shannon. Princess Stephanie.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

Will Vehrs
--The Director of Blogdom Security issued a general warning for all bloggers to be on a heightened state of alert. Pressed on just what they should be looking for, she said "if you see a poor fellow trying to log on your computer, report it. If a mainstream journalist steals a blogger's idea, report it."

--The Attorney General of Blogdom suggested "Cyber Tribunals" for the "evildoers."

--Wuss Institute issued a press release saying Blogdom brought the hack attack on itself by its failure to "understand" the needs of mainstream journalists and commentators. "Blogdom has consistently shown no respect for the diversity of addled opinions out there," said a spokesperson. "These noble pundit tribesmen do not take kindly to being oppressed by reality or common sense."

--Geraldo Rivera reportedly will leave Afghanistan to join a hacking sect in Marin County, California.

--The Nation of Hackers decried the lack of tolerance shown by bloggers in the wake of the attack. "We are a peaceful people, dude," said a disheveled hacker with high top sneakers in the lobby of a four star hotel.

--Conspiracy theorist Tony Adragna will be Larry King's guest tonight.

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
AM Edition - by Will Vehrs

What's hot: Hack attack, Rand Simberg, Shoe Bomber.

Joanne Jacobs: Pixie dust alarm; pro-Islam campaign meets nasty facts; Snowman disappears and innocence is lost; Leo's Tali-boy interview.

Joshua Micah Marshall Boyz in the Hood--just take away "Muslim" and "Jihad."

Charles Johnson. What was compromised?; crazy Sammy all alone; shoe bomber praying in next room.

Jeff Jarvis Shoe boy reconnoitered El Al; whores in burqas; if you fly naked, give credit where credit is due.

Libertarian Samizdata Rand's stormin' stuff; Christopher Pellerito joins staff; Liberty Blog may be swallowed.

Steven Den Beste I thought that I would never see/A blog as lovely as a tree; Guantanamo--you read it here first; anti-medical hysteria; lay-offs work; war coming.

Dawson Read Rand; ode to Natalie; Tony Adragna is right (of course-ed).

Kathy Kinsley Aquitted!; kidding about Canada; going geeky; new cartoon.

Click here for Blog Watching from down under ....

Look Ma - I can post!
Tony Adragna
That's because I'm using Netsacpe 6...

Update: Explorer is getting back in now, too.

Huzzah for our System Admin.!

Wednesday, December 26, 2001
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?"
Tony Adragna
"I help to support the establishments, I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there."

Hey Will, I almost snatched the Krugman item, too, but a quick read led to the observation that it wasn't really about Christmas. A Christmas Carol is my favourite Christmas story, and I recognize the analogy that Krugman is making, but I must dissent from the throw-money-at-the-problem approach. Of course, it's harder to do in this insatnce than it was when I was dissenting from Gordon Brown on his "Marshal Plan".

The problem? Well, like Brown, Krugman calls for the transfer of more U.S. funds to international organizations. It's not the more that really bothers me - a program that works always finds funding - but the international organizations appeal is, quite frankly, less appealing. I'd rather the U.S. spend directly, on proven programs, and in areas of the world where conditions are ripe for progress. I'll go a step further - let me second the plea for more U.S. spending, as long as the spending doesn't take the form of donations to groups that argue their ineffectiveness is our fault.

Related item on the web: Jude Wanniski's "Secretary Scrooge? at

Dispatch filed from American Rivers

Hold on, Damian - Help is on the way!
Tony Adragna
We're recieving disturbing reports from Newfoundland that suggest further justification for the annexation of Canada (except the Francophone part - France can have it back!).

Where's Pierre Trudeau when you need him? - there was a man who wasn't afraid to use police powers against thugs, and he did say that he'd do it again...

Conspiracy theory, anyone?
Tony Adragna
We independant web-jounalists might be too good for our breeches! I think that "The Great Blogspot Hacking" may well have been a coordinated effort on the part of Glenn Sacks, Robert Fisk, Stephanie "Jesus Freak" Salter, et al , to bring down the Realm of Blogdom. The "Big Boys & Girls" can't hang with us, so they want to see us disbanded.

Of course, I'm not saying that they did this all by themselves (like they could even find their own nalgas with both hands, a flashlight, and a roadmap). No, they had to buy a sneak thief, and not a very good one at that...

Punditwatch From A-Z
Will Vehrs
The latest Punditwatch has been posted--the Mullah is a hick, the lady is a Cheney, and Bush sings "My Way," among other pundit profounities.

Above the Fold
QuasiPundit's daily list of top stories, without commentary
Washinton Post

Front Page Image

Manhunt Uncovers No Trace of Bin Laden - PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Dec. 25 -- Thousands of Pakistani troops wearing all-white mountain fatigues have been clambering up and down the ragged border peaks southwest of here for more than a week to seal off isolated escape routes out of Afghanistan.

Plane Lease Deal to Cost U.S. Extra - Shortly before leaving town last week, lawmakers approved the lease of four new Boeing 737 airplanes to transport congressional and administration officials, a move that will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more than if the government bought the planes.

Economic Crossroads on the Line -WINDSOR, Ontario Long lines of trucks are always inching across the Ambassador Bridge, hauling cargo between the United States and Canada like freight trains of infinite length. This is the busiest border crossing in North America -- more goods pass between Detroit and Windsor than between the United States and the entire European Union -- but David Jolly, the bridge's manager, now watches the relentless march of commerce with two unpleasant thoughts.

New York Times

Pakistan Leader in Sharp Rebuke to Indian Threat - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 25 — The leaders of Pakistan and India traded stiff warnings today about the risks of a wider conflict between them as their armies traded sporadic artillery fire in the mountains of Kashmir and continued an intensive military buildup elsewhere along their 1,800-mile border.

China's Efforts Against Crime Make No Dent - TAIGU, China — On his last night alive, Chang Dongqing responded to an emergency call about an armed robbery in progress near the police station here where he worked. Because another officer had checked out the station's only gun, a 1954 series, .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, Officer Chang picked up the long iron rod that was the station's only other weapon.

Tracking Bioterror's Tangled Course - There was no commotion, no outcry. Except for the blond woman in the black dress sitting by herself in a back pew, no one knew that anything unusual had happened.

Christmas Mass Beneath a Cross of Fallen Steel - The sun was hidden behind the Bankers Trust building, which cast a long and cold shadow across the Christmas morning service where the World Trade Center once stood.

Washington Times

Air Force resists more bombers, prefers fighters - Senior Pentagon civilians believe they know an important "lesson learned" from the Afghanistan war: The Air Force needs more global-reach heavy bombers.

Detainee tied to terror suspect - From combined dispatches The man arrested on suspicion of trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight using explosives in his shoe has been linked in a report published today to a suspected conspirator in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

LA Times

Front Page Image (pdf)

Troops, Tensions Grow in Kashmir - WASHINGTON -- Bush administration officials watched warily Tuesday as nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan moved more combat troops and missiles closer to their shared border and escalated their war of words.

Bloody Glory in a Mask - On a shameful night years ago in Tijuana, Manuel de los Santos bet, and lost, his mask.

U.S. Gives Afghan Searchers a Short List of Most Wanted - PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Afghan soldiers combed the caves of Afghanistan's Tora Bora region Tuesday searching for the bodies of Arab terrorists and armed with U.S.-supplied satellite telephones and a new short list of the Al Qaeda members most wanted by the United States.

Some See Nature as a War Victim - WASHINGTON -- With the nation's attention squarely on war and terrorism, the Bush administration has ruled this fall in business' favor on a range of long-disputed environmental matters.

Great Minds Think Alike, Or Shameless Rip-Off?
Will Vehrs
While preparing today's Punditwatch, I couldn't help but notice that Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Tom Friedman is suggesting flying naked--days after the same idea was hatched by blogger Jeff Jarvis. Advantage, Jarvis!

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
AM Edition - by Will Vehrs

Joanne Jacobs: Joanne does Blog Watch, gets no respect from Glenn.

Joshua Micah Marshall Shoe-bombing doofus linked to Moussaoui.

Charles Johnson. No "silent genocide" in Afghanistan; hacker attack ominous; if he'd flicked a Bic; same old, same old at Arab News; bad news at the border.

Jeff Jarvis Frogs fumble with four star for Shoe bomber.

Libertarian Samizdata End sanctions, Castro crumbles; naked news; more examples of staff erudition; chick disclaimer; charitable sex attacked; inebriated editor confesses.

Steven Den Beste Glenn, don't speak too soon; Afghan wish list; Vanessa's contemptible promise; Chunnel-busters show something is rotten in France; McSally forth; Hispanic casting saves flick.

Dawson Bush needs proof-reader; Christmas in a bunker; stomach virus.

Justin Slotman One guy in the basement rates gifts.

Charles Dodgson Think Argentina is bad? Wait 'til the IMF gets done.

Click here for more "Blog Watch"ing

Tuesday, December 25, 2001
'Tis Harder to Recieve than to Give
Tony Adragna
Will, you asked me if Santa was good to me - the answer is an unqualified YES. In fact, Santa did me better than I thought I deserved.

See, I'm a very giving person. Nothing really fancy, or exepensive, mind you, just a lot of little meaningful items. I try to match a gift to something about the relationship between myself and the person for whom that gift is intended. Friends love the gifts they get from me - rarely something they would ever consider buying for themselves, usually something that a person would never even think of wanting, but always something that finds its way into the heart.

This year I wasn't able to give any thing, so I told my housemates that they needn't go overboard on me (they spoil me every year). Didn't do any good (they spoiled me again this year). Before I could protest William cut me off with a very stern admonition that it was time to let somebody do something for me.

Humility isn't easy to swallow, but it's good medicine...

A QP Blogger's Christmas
Tony, I've stepped over Kit Kittredge, the American Girl Doll from the Depression, Nutcracker Barbie, and a Diva Star Scooter, among other Christmas loot, to get to my Quasipundit office. It was a good Christmas for the youngest Vehrs girl--she also put her old Dad through his paces trying out the Barbie roller blades and Barbie Scooter earlier in the day. If Kathy Kinsley is interested, Caitlyn will work with her to develop a "Bellicose Barbie," the only kind of Barbie I haven't seen. It could be a best seller ....

You were the Walter Cronkite of Christmas 2001, Tony! Great reporting--I was able to check in often and time my activities for completion before Santa's ETA. I also looked at your Christmas poll in The Refuge. Who would have dreamed that more people would approve of George W. Bush' s performance as president than believe in Santa Claus?

I trust you had a nice Christmas, Tony--did you get something to go with that sweater? I hope all our readers also enjoyed the day and are winding down, readying themselves for tomorrow's challenge--after-Christmas shopping.

A Blogger's Christmas
A Blog Watch II Supplement - by Tony Adragna
Daimian Penny: The Christmas ELPH; "Newfie" Santa sighting unconfirmed, but evidence abounds

Tim Blair: Christmas at the local 7-11; A hot time Down Under - and getting hotter

Andrew Hofer: Santa arrives at Hoffer House - proto-pundits pleased

Dawson: What's a "name" at Christmas time; The Rebel Jesus

protein wisdom: The cause of Grinchification identified - no cure for Vidal/Pollitt/Sontag Syndrome; Abrupt change of climate during Kyoto visit; Slippery Saudis

Justin Slotman: (Christmas)Morning Sickness; You got Peanuts in my Onion!; Jolly Old Elf caries deadwight in his sleigh

Ken Goldstein: Merry "Jewish Christmas"

Kathy Kinsley "The Spirit of Secular Christmas"

Rand Simberg Reports
"Media Casualties Mount As War Success Continues" (December 24, 2001 APUPI) - The ranks of print, web and broadcast pundits and journalists continue to be decimated by enemy action as the war progresses. The total number of casualties are becoming almost uncountable, and are overwhelming the limited field emergency facilities. This reporter got a first-hand view of the devastation and tragedy in a visit to a typical field hospital...

A Pundit's Christmas
Christmas Day Edition
The Spirit in America By E.J. Dionne Jr. - "I bring you good tidings of great joy . . . and on earth peace, good will toward men."

The words from Luke seem strange this year. For Americans, it was a year in which more than 3,000 innocent human beings were slaughtered by other human beings. And yet the human spirit cannot be reduced to this single act of cruelty, or any other that has been committed over the ages. The yearning for peace and good will keeps manifesting itself, at unexpected times and places and in unexpected circumstances.

Christmas in wartime By Frank Wright - We are aware of the simple sights and sounds of Christmas this year, maybe more than ever before. The voices of caroling singers. The lighting of the U.S. Capitol tree. The embrace of visiting family and friends. Christmas came just in time.

Washington's Christmas parable By Tod Lindberg - I think Washington, the city of politics, can use all the inspiration it can get. The city is, necessarily, driven by the clash of monumental ambitions, the spirit of "what have you done for me lately?" and the sense of one's fellow human beings here (foe and friend alike) as means to an end. This is, for better or worse, the nature of politics, and it is necessarily in many respects a nasty business. But it is also, in many cases, gratuitously nasty, and to my mind anything that might help to check this tendency should be welcomed. I have sometimes found myself reflecting on the application to life here of Jesus' parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), and the Christmas season seems an especially good time to explore it.

Christmas spirit and capitalism By Benjamin P. Tyree - How does the Christmas spirit fit with the spirit of capitalism? Is it complementary or contradictory? To a great extent, it is consequential: Capitalism is a necessary predicate for the abundance out of which we can share with our friends and the less fortunate at Christmastime and at other seasons of the year. As in the "Sound of Music" song, "Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever will."

Christmases past, present . . . and future By Balint Vazsonyi - Dec. 17 marked the 45th anniversary of my arrival in the free world. Covered in mud, without money or earthly possessions, I found myself in the middle of glittering, pre-Christmas Vienna. Among the many unforgettable first impressions was the realization that we could once again celebrate Christmas without fear of consequences.
(Highly Recommended Reading - Tony)

On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Ashcroft! On, Blitzen! By TIM ROZGONYI - 'Tis the day after Christmas. My work is all done.

The children are happy; I haven't missed one.

But this year was different, the hardest I've had since that time with Rudolph when the fog was so bad.

(A Christmas Poem - Tony)

Rejoicing in the Legacy of Jesus the Jew By YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI - JERUSALEM -- However improbably, Jesus is emerging as a figure through whom Jews and Christians are discovering each other. For many centuries, Jews viewed Jesus with resentment and dread. Even uttering his name was considered an act of unbearable intimacy with the person Jews regarded as the ultimate apostate, responsible for their persecution. In the name of Jesus, after all, Jews were martyred and humiliated and forcibly converted. And so Jews referred to Jesus as "that man," or avoided invoking him altogether.

Christmas tradition mixed with myths BY MICHAEL ERIC DYSON - As we celebrate Christmas today, let's not forget the holiday's history. By reflecting on its roots, perhaps we can refashion our celebrations to favor the poor and socially excluded who derived deep pleasure and profound meaning from Christmas past.

Above the fold - Christmas Edition
QuasiPundit's daily list of top stories, without commentary
Washington Post: Front Page Image

Bomb Case Suspect Has a Hearing - BOSTON, Dec. 24 -- A 28-year-old man detained in connection with the attempted bombing of a transatlantic flight to Miami was brought before a judge here today as airports around the world ratcheted up already stringent security measures in response to the incident.

Metro Set To Initiate Chemical Sensors - After two years of experimenting in secret, Metro will activate sensors in two downtown stations next month and become the first subway in the world that can detect a release of toxic chemicals.

Red and Green and Khaki - KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec. 24 -- KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec. 24 -- "I got Play-Doh," said Lance Cpl. David Howard.

"I got a football."

"I got candy."

"Clean socks."

And it wasn't even Christmas yet.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Officials Remain Uncertain on Identity of Suspect on Jet - BOSTON, Dec. 24 - Federal officials said today that the man who tried to ignite explosives in his shoes on a flight from Paris to Miami on Saturday had no known address, and investigators in the United States and Europe struggled to determine his identity, nationality and motive.

Big Troop Buildup Mounted by India and Pakistan - NEW DELHI, Dec. 24 - A warlike momentum is building between India and Pakistan as both countries mount large-scale troop buildups along the full length of their border in response to rising antagonism since a suicide attack this month on India's Parliament.

For Marines, There's Powder for Eggnog, Tunes on Vinyl

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 24 - The Christmas tree had been hacked from the grounds outside the shattered front door. The angel on top was made from a roll of toilet paper. The eggnog was a mix of mashed banana, powdered milk, water and a dash of spice. The young armed man who offered it, to his credit, admitted that it did not taste very good.

Experts Urging Broader Inquiry in Towers' Fall - Saying that the current investigation into how and why the twin towers fell on Sept. 11 is inadequate, some of the nation's leading structural engineers and fire-safety experts are calling for a new, independent and better-financed inquiry that could produce the kinds of conclusions vital for skyscrapers and future buildings nationwide.

Washington Times:

U.S. sees bin Laden leaving by sea - Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization has access to scores of tramp freighters around the world, and the United States fears the terror mastermind could rendezvous with his "navy" on the Pakistani coast and sail to freedom.

'Disaster' averted on blast devices - BOSTON — Explosive devices that a man is accused of smuggling aboard an airliner in his sneakers were strong enough to cause serious damage and would have created a "major disaster" if detonated on the Paris-to-Miami flight, the FBI said yesterday.

Los Angeles Times:

States' Revenues Now Sagging Under the Weight of Recession - WASHINGTON -- They held out, hunkered down and bought time where they could. But one by one, the states are becoming casualties of the recession

Go to The Newspaper Rack

Monday, December 24, 2001

Merry Christmas To All, And To All A Good Night

Wrap Up 1:05 AM ET, Dec 25 We're sorry we weren't able to cover Santa's full itinerary. Santa was kind enough, however, to allow some limited filming of his trip. Full coverage is available at The Annual NORAD Tracks Santa Claus Website. And remember why Santa does this every year.

n.b.:YES! - I know I haven't covered Hawaii, which is on "our" side of the dateline, but I must be off to bed, else I won't have strength to carry my Christmas booty up to my room tomorrow (today? oh, whatever - 'tis been a long night).

Update 1:00 AM ET, Dec 25 (10:00 PM Dec 24 Local): I hope You've been good, Brian, because Santa's scopin' your pad right now! - Well, maybe not your pad. I miss Christmas in San Francisco, but I like the snow out here...

Update 12:00 AM ET, Dec 25 (10:00 PM Dec 24 Local): Colorado prepares for Santa's arrival - Chayenne Mountain provides final clearance.

Update 11:30 PM ET (10:30 Local): Santa had a near miss over the Windy City during his approach, but thanks to the mysterious performance characterics of his Sleigh, and those nine Reindeer (yes NINE - don't forget Rudolph), a collision was avoided. Merry Christmas Chicago!

Update 11:00 PM ET: Breaking News - The Captain of USS Clueless has finally succeeded in completing the slingshot maneuver around the sun, but he didn't time travel - he ended up in a most improbable alternate reality . Well, there's still hope for him, if he sticks to the small print.

Update 10:30 PM ET: Hey Brian!...Oh, Kathy!... You gotta see this! He's here! He's Here!

Update 10:15 PM ET: We've gotten reports of Santa sightings in the vicinity of NYC. Per our sources, The Clausman especially wants to bring a gift if Joy to NYC this year

Update 9:36 PM ET: Huzzah to the U.S Postal Department - they vouched for Santa, and he's back on his flight-plan. Looks like he's headed toward NYC ...

Update 9:20 PM ET: Santa may be slightly delayed. Seems that some officious busybody is asking Mr. Kringle to prove his identity, but he doesn't have any documentation acceptable to a competent authority - tune your sets to AMC TV for details.

Update 9:15 PM ET: Santa has left Newfoundland, and is heading toward the U.S. - we're not sure where the Jolly Old Elf is going to appear next - Stay tuned...

Update 8:15 PM ET: Happy Christmas to our "Newfie" friend! Be on alert Damian, Santa's on his way...

Update 7:30 PM ET: Papai Noel summers in Rio, but right now he's too busy delivering goodies to all of those a liittle Brazilian meninos and meninas

Update 6:15 PM ET: London calling - Father Christmas arrived on schedule. His trans-Atlantic flight-plan has been cleared and he'll be passing across The Pond presently - London out

Update 5:30 PM ET: Santa has been sighted over Paris, headed toward London.

Does Santa Get an F-15 escort?
Yes he does, but that's only to keep people away from his flight-path. Never fear for Santa, NORAD is on the job.. We've got him on screen over Rome, headed toward Paris.

Santa Claus is coming...

n.b.: If an agency of the federal Government believes in Santa Claus, then he must be real (no wisecracks about Democrats, please...)

A Blogger's Christmas Eve
A Blog Watch II PM Supplement - by Tony Adragna
Updated 4:48 PM Eastern Time
"Merry Christmas, world", by Jeff Jarvis - So 2,000 years ago, we are led to believe, strife and suffering in the Holy Land led God to send his only son to Earth to wash away our sins and give mankind the hope of a new beginning...

"JINGLE HELL" by Tim Blair - It’s 1.00am Christmas morning in Sydney. And nobody is sleeping, not even a mouse, because we’re beset with 22 degree heat (about 74 on the Fahrenheit scale) combined with 78 per cent humidity. I must maintain a high Liquid Intake. More wine!...

"The Christmas Spirit" By Andrew Olmsted - As seems always to be the case, the approach of Christmas brings with it a little good cheer. People seem a little more inclined to forgive the minor trespasses we face every day, and life seems just a bit more pleasant. And inevitably comes the annual lament; why can't we act like this year-round?...

A Christmas "note to self:" By John Paul McCord III - I think I have become desensitized to this whole Christmas thing; I think most everyone has, the only exceptions being the few who still celebrate it as the religious holiday it was intended to be. You see, everyone has gained such a huge respect for the "humanitarian" side of the holiday, its secular side, and we now give gifts to selfish little brats who think they rule the world (which isn't far from the truth) in celebration of the death of Jesus Christ...

"An issue of grave concern" By Samizdata IlluminatusWhilst perusing Fevered Rants, as I am wont to do, I came upon an article relating to how NORAD helps make certain that Santa is safe when operating over North America...

Quasi-Greetings to All, and to All, A Good Night

Yes, Tony, I believe. The interview with Santa--and one look at that sweater--have only solidified my faith in the "Jolly Old Elf."

I know that not all of our readers celebrate Christmas. But when we strip away the tacky lights, the fruit cake, and the revelry, a simple message for every belief system remains: Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men. This year has tested that simple holiday foundation. May we reflect on how to better attain that elusive peace and goodwill without giving in to evil, without forgetting that fighting for peace and goodwill is not a contadiction. And may we think of those who serve and protect us, at home and abroad, making our celebrations and reflections possible.

In the spirit of the season, Quasipundit wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!

QP Exclusive

Interview with Santa

Kris Kringle reprises annual Christmas role, QP wants to know why. Read all about it at From Left Field

Sidebar: Do you Believe in Santa? - respond to the poll

A Pundit's Christmas
Christmas Eve Edition
Updated 3:42 PM Eastern Time
Ho-Ho-Hum By William Raspberry - I don't like feeling this way -- not at this special time of year. But I just haven't been able to get into the Christmas spirit...

What Your Parents Never Told You By KEVIN DOUGHTEN - WEST PATERSON, N.J. -- By now, you may think you know everything there is to know about Santa Claus. However, what you don't know could fill his bottomless bag of toys. Hardly any of the popular tales about Jolly Old St. Nick have been updated since the 1940's. The world has changed considerably since then, and so has Santa...

Christmas Dinner for 1,000 By BOB HERBERT - The soup kitchen at the Church of the Holy Apostles on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea is the largest in New York. And the operators of the kitchen will try to make today, Christmas Eve, a little special for the people in tough circumstances who show up for a meal...

The best Christmas gift By Sam Johnson The holiday season can be maddening. There are so many gifts to buy, cards to send, lights to hang, homes to decorate, parties to attend, and people to see...

A grab bag of memories from the St. Pat's Parish Christmas Party By Thomas Belton - HADDONFIELD, N.J. - This time of the year, back in my hometown, the Blessed Virgin Mary shrine at old St. Pat's Church would be decked out in red, green and blue lights that sparkled all night through...

A Christmas spent writing memories of strangers By Dan Rodricks - WHENEVER the weatherman sets the odds for a white Christmas at zero, as he has done again for most of the Eastern seaboard, I always try to remember if I ever saw one, and the only one that ever comes to mind with sufficient clarity is the one I spent as a writer of obituaries...

Brothers in Christmas stress By Kevin Cowherd - IT'S MID-MORNING at Towson Town Center, and even with the soft Christmas music on the sound system and the wonderful decorations in the stores, you can smell the fear in the air.

You can see it, too, on the faces of so many men here, so many of my brothers.

I say "brothers" because lots of us are members of the same pathetic fraternity: guys who wait 'til the last minute to shop for their wife's Christmas presents...