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but never a Monday morning quarterback

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Saturday, January 05, 2002
When News Ain't News
Tony Adragna
MATT DRUDGE // DRUDGE REPORT 2002® reprints an article titled "US missed three chances to seize Bin Laden" (The Sunday Times, Jan. 6), and it's been hyped as BIG NEWS.

Ummm.. Mansoor Ijaz told that story in the LAT on Dec 5, 2001 ( "Clinton Let Bin Laden Slip Away and Metastasize" ). Ijaz also recently (within the last two weeks) repeated the account in a forum televised on CSPAN.

TST adds a few details, and includes some Simpsonian "D'OH" quotes - otherwise, it's old news...

BLOG WATCH II: Extra Edition
Tony Adragna
ZURICH, Switzerland, Jan. 5 - Contact restored with Natalija Radic. Lapsed Catholic nears relapse - recounts harrowing experience in high Alps. Missed Milan - killing cold weekend with walk around Paradeplatz.

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: My "inner Kinsley"; more re-enforcement in the IBW; name-dropping

Andrew Hofer: I got style, how do I look; finally done moving - old memories still at the old place; funny fatwas

Damian Penny: The choke in Czech; Canadians on the way to Afghanistan - if they can get the car started; night out at the Days Inn; planes fallin outta the sky

Dr. Frank: Big Boys do battle; American's happily make fools suffer

Tim Blair: The War on Arson; flame-broiled McDonalds

Duncan Fitzgerald: Bet ya thought AU stood for "astronimal units"; an evening with The Sports Wonk ; Bill inhales

Alex Knapp: Looks good - great content, too!; beaten over the Bible; O.J. is the exemplar of a "Loser"; Tom's Taxing Temerity; Bluffers and Blinkers; Clintonian chutzpah - Republican reprise

protein wisdom: Canadians taking their skates along - just in case; latest entry in the Design Competition

Daniel Taylor: Trite terms for Terror Tuesday; if you don't belive the formula "______, then the terrorists have won:, then the terrorists have won

Watch me! OK, all done, now go look at other people!:

Ego te absolvo
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, I've missed you all day!

Tom made a joke in retort to my line below about shepherds not beating the sheep. Drawing on my reference to Brother Torquemada, Tom said, "Of course not, that's what he has his Domini-canes for. What order were you studying for BTW? I'd doubt if it was the Dominicans." Hey, just because I know about the most infamous of Dominicans doesn't mean that I ever wanted to be one - with patrons like Anthony and Francis what else could I want to be but one of the "little brothers."

I forgive you, Tom ; )

Of course, the Franciscans were not much better when one of their own was in charge of the Italian Inquisition...

BTW, it's not just "Evangelical Extremists" that bother me - how 'bout this "Cracked-pot Catholic". I would say that he's "only an auxiliary bishop", but that's not the way it works...

I'm listening to Sen Helms (recorded on 12/05/01) right now - you're right about "seeing the darndest things on CSPAN"...

OOOPS! I just realized that some people might not get the "Domini-canes" bit - "Domini" = "lord", and "canes" = "dog" - the "shepherds" didn't need to beat the sheep because the "dogs" kept the sheep in line.

Another Possibility
Will Vehrs
Tony, that supposed bald Brezhnev looks more like Bob Schrum to me; maybe he's doing a little oppo-research ....

Ramsey Clark is still agitating, at his age? You see the darndest things on CPAN. No one could possibly take him seriously, could they?

I'm a bit cynical...
Tony Adragna
...but seeing is believing - there's been a Brezhnev sighting in Southern California...

The Other Attorney General
Tony Adragna
I just watched the International Action Center's recent press briefing on CSPAN. What can I say? - Ramsey Clark lost his mind. The letter to the U.N. is outrageous, but it doesn't really give the sense of how far gone he is - you gotta listen to him talk.

War crime committed against defenseless Iraqis? I seem to remember that the Iraqis attempted a very vigorous defense in Jan 1991, our offensive just happened to hit it like a steamroller.

Bombing Iraq whenever we feel like it? Hardly - if that were the case, then Iraq might look a little more like Afghanistan.

Why doesn't Mr. Clark address any concerns over Saddams continued aggression against his own people? Why does he dismiss the justification for our action in 1991? - Saddam's aggression against Kuwait.

I know the answer: Ramsey Clark bumped his head - real hard....

The Mission
Tony Adragna
The thing that really irks me is how the Falwells/Robertsons claim to be "evangelizing" when they make these rediculous assertions. The root of the word is "evangel", which means "gospel" - the mission is to spread the gospel of Christ, which is the antithesis of apocalyptic hate-filled speech.

OK, pastors do have an obligation to speak on moral issues, and to teach as well as preach. This requires speaking from a position of authority, that's obvious. But it's not the "authority of leadership" that's called upon - rather, it's the authority of precedent, which for Christians means turning to the life of Christ. When I look to the life of Christ I see an admonition to refrain from politicizing the gospel - Christ explicitly renounced any claims to an earthly kingdom, and never sought to impose his message. Sure, he went into the temple and drove out the moneychangers - he also spoke kindly to a harlot, and even saved her from the prescribed punishment for her immorality.

The good shepherd doesn't lead the flock - a shepherd serves the flock, and usually does it from behind. He also doesn't beat the sheep into submission...

Just a word on the apocalyptic rhetoric that keeps floating around - I understand that people take John's revelations as an accurate representation of the end times, but did John see it that way. I'm not so sure. The book is obviously an allegory, and John even clues us in to what the symbols represent.

Again, I won't argue theology with Rev. Robertson, but I question the un-Christ-like example that he presentsm and I question his motivation for presenting that example.

Ministering to the Flock
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm no theologian. I don't know the difference between a psalm and a sacrament. Finding me in a House of Worship is associated with thunder and lightning. I do have a great respect for religion and religious beliefs, however. I've often defended those whose beliefs are attacked generically, especially Christian Conservatives. I've been a lonely voice in the wilderness supporting the faith-based initiative for homeless programs and the like.

My positions are made difficult by the high profile and often despictable comments and actions of Falwell, Robertson, and others who purport to "speak" for large congregations.

Then I re-read your epistle on Salter, chastising her for calling on the Catholic Bishops to take high profile positions on controversial temporal issues. Isn't Salter asking the Bishops to become more like Falwell and Robertson? It certainly seems to me that these two have left the pastoring of their flocks far behind. Shouldn't religious leaders be bottom up, more than top down? By that I mean, shouldn't they reflect the concerns of their members? I don't think most people are concerned about gays or missile defense. Their concerns are probably much more personal, much more spiritual.

Just once I'd like Robertson say, "Fifty pastors have called me and said their congregations are truly concerned with "X" in their daily lives," instead of relating his implausible conversations with God and trying to lead his flock into a castigation of "God's" pet concern, oddly a concern that often seems out of touch with most people's lives.

What I'm saying, Tony, is that I think you are right when you say "The Bishops are focusing on pastoral matters, as they should ...." That sage observation should apply to all religious leaders, but, sadly, that's low profile work that doesn't garner headlines or rouse people to see a designated enemy, making them willing to open up their pocketbooks to fight it.

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

Front Page Image

U.S. Soldier Killed In First Fatality From Hostile Fire A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier was killed yesterday during a firefight in eastern Afghanistan, the first member of the American military to die from hostile fire in the three-month war, officials said. A CIA officer was seriously wounded in the attack.

Al Qaeda Trainer in U.S. Hands U.S. military forces have taken custody of a high-ranking paramilitary trainer for al Qaeda, the most senior member of the terrorist network captured in the three-month war in Afghanistan, Pentagon and intelligence officials said yesterday.

Redskins Intend To Pursue Spurrier The Washington Redskins intend to pursue Steve Spurrier, who abruptly resigned yesterday as the University of Florida head football coach, as a successor to Coach Marty Schottenheimer, NFL sources said.

Jordan's Bull's-Eye It was theater more than a game. It was theater replete with antagonisms, on a stage where old feuding rivals, while smirkingly projecting indifference, nonetheless made little effort to hide old grudges.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Hostile Fire Kills First U.S. Soldier Since War's Onset WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 - An Army Special Forces soldier was killed today in a brief firefight in eastern Afghanistan, the first death of an American serviceman by hostile fire since the war started nearly three months ago, American officials said.

Prison Packed With Taliban Raises Concern SHIBARGHAN, Afghanistan, Jan. 2 - In the month since the collapse of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, nearly 3,500 former Taliban fighters have been held here in a prison built for 800, under conditions that are raising alarm among international aid groups.

Israel Seizes Ship It Says Was Arming Palestinians JERUSALEM, Jan. 4 - The Israeli Army said today that it had seized a ship carrying 50 tons of rockets, mines, anti-tank missiles and other munitions meant for Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority, even as the Bush administration's envoy met with Mr. Arafat in the hope of strengthening his declared cease-fire with Israel.

Democrat Assails Bush on Economy WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 - Senator Tom Daschle, the capital's most prominent Democrat, accused President Bush and the Republicans today of causing the "most dramatic fiscal deterioration in our nation's history" when they pushed through a major tax cut last year.

Washington Times:

U.S. soldier killed in ambush An Army Green Beret was killed yesterday in a firefight, most likely with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda army, becoming the first American service member to die in hostile fire since the war in Afghanistan began Oct. 7.

Daschle blames GOP tax cuts for failing economy Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle yesterday fired the Democrats' first volley of the new year on the recession, blaming Republican tax cuts for the poor economy and calling on President Bush to "return to fiscal discipline."

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

U.S. Loses Its 1st Serviceman to Enemy Fire WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier was killed Friday in a firefight in eastern Afghanistan, becoming the first U.S. service member slain by enemy action in three months of warfare, Pentagon officials said.

Jobless Rate Nears a 7-Year High; Political Debate Shifts WASHINGTON -- America shed 124,000 more jobs last month, driving the nation's unemployment rate to a near-seven-year high of 5.8% and shifting the political debate from war needs to economic fixes.

U.S. Halts Aid to Iraqi Opposition WASHINGTON -- Despite a growing drumbeat to expand the war on terrorism to Iraq, U.S. officials this week suspended key funding to the leading Iraqi group opposing President Saddam Hussein because it has failed to account for tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid.

Capital of Big-Rig Piracy A big rig lumbering at daybreak out of a San Bernardino truck yard with a million-dollar load of cigarettes is swarmed by at least three armed bandits. They jump on the running boards, smash the windows and douse the driver's face with pepper spray.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
AM Edition - by Will Vehrs
What’s hot: Televised terrorist trial. Blog Watch *** picks: Steven Den Beste

Joanne Jacobs: Literary equivalents; West's silent ears.

Charles Johnson. Challenge issued; trial travesty televised?; cheap Bush hit, agent outrageous; El Fadil finds fear; Drop ship this to the PLO.

Jeff Jarvis Let's roll--film at 11; Vehrs' voice; strange bedfellows speak truth; Pacifist Alumni Bellicose Ball; shut up, he explained.

Libertarian Samizdata Burn the worthless nihilists; Gingerly debunking dystopian fantasy charges; read Lovecraft, then come back to Samizdata obsession; Walter's provocative links; FMFS needs celebrity disease spokesperson. [where's Natalija?--ed]

Steven Den Beste ***The games bleeding hearts play; will the watchers be watched?; rich man, poor man, dead man; ***Mandela makes no sense; copycat pyros; what grief for Zaeef?

Dawson Drying Claire and hawking her riveting novel.

Kathy Kinsley The sport of dissection; it's a chick thing, you wouldn't understand; Daisy cutter for bad Belarus; Greymatter got her geeky.

Justin Slotman Penn portrayal pilloried; get your freak at Drudge; Governor go 'round; Hitchens on to Bandar Bin Laden scandal.

Kevin Holtsberry Will's back, Christianity worse than porn; NEWS FLASH: Pat Robertson is nuts; silly secret service suit; football cubed.

Adil Farooq Islamic urban legends; breaking news on local jet crash; Iranian theocrat lust; Mandela's wrong impression.

Andrew Olmsted Dark, scary Northwoods.

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and Blog Watch I.

Friday, January 04, 2002
He meant it then,
And he still means it...
Tony Adragna
No Will, I'm not going out tonight - I rarely do nowadays (I'm gettin' old, too). I've been "watching", and now I've got a few things to say.

(Preface - my comments here aren't directed at Christians as a group - just can't stand a few slimy individuals)

Remember when I said of Falwell, "he really believes it to be true". Well, now I get to deal with his partner-in-grime, Pat Robertson. Sullivan points to, and rants against, Rev. Robertson's ravings. How about Robertson's "Words for 2002" (requires free registration) - "Prophecy"? I think it's just good old fashioned "guess making" based on current news and historical precedent.

What's Rev. Robertson really up to? I don't doubt that he really believes that gays, the ACLU, and atheists are all evil - I disagree, but I'll leave that between him and God. However, I can't get over his continued opportunism in blaming Sep 11 and associated events on everybody except those responsible - including God by way of lifting the curtain. Rev. Robertson seems less concerned with protecting Americans than he is with a pew-filling "Revival".

Rev. Robertson isn't the Devil - I certainly don't want to "demonize" anybody - but he isn't behaving very Christ-like, either.

n.b.: Yes, I did actually register at CBN - going after the "primary source" often takes a body places it would rather not go. It's a dirty job... though, I'm not sure - Robertson might actually be a secondary source since he claimed to get the info from God...

Let sleeping dogs lie
Tony Adragna
"Best of the Web" is at it again! Have these people no heart?

OK, there's a valid point being made - overusage does dull the edge. I remember making an observation about how the word "cop" has become acceptable because the intended slight has been drowned out by being presented in positive contexts - like the show COPS, or Community Oriented Police programs. I guess the phenomenon also works in reverse - we hear so many feigned expressions of sorrow and regret that it's hard to tell when a person is being sincere.

I think Bill oughta get the benefit on this one...

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Throw a little Ginger into the pot; Look at the radar while I figure out what kinda storm is brewing over Seattle

Andrew Hofer: Andrew got a new look, 'cept the jacket; Poison Penn; Afghans are eating - where did they get all that food?; Americans got the "consumption"; Anne asserts atmospheric aphorism

Damian Penny: Childhood Crusade; Salutin supporters; Damian gets Overlawyered - and Natalie joins the cabal; Bravissima Berlinski; dogging Musharraf

Dr. Frank: Gaulic gall; "The Gift of Contempt, the Politics of Magic?"; whos CAIRs about that boob of an agent

Tim Blair: Fireys in favor - teenage witches burn; Roque pilot reascues real heroes; "A shoe-in..."

Duncan Fitzgerald: Putting the dot.bombers back to work -let them get shit on for a change; movies outta the Box; a thick skin around our inner voices

Alex Knapp: Brief in response

protein wisdom: Appeasing the Demo-gods; Aztlan's ascendency; the secret of long life (I learned that one from my nonno mio - Tony); Great Sex only costs $698,000; Screeners pass through big hole; the Ito Irony;

Daniel Taylor Defending Atlanta against the Yankees; Old man with children sleeps in late on weekends - recovering from old movies with dead actors, and visions of Michelle Pfeiffer.

Hey, is that a coolabah tree - let's goWatching Matilda

Perseverence Pays
Will Vehrs
Tony, after repeated unsuccessful entries, I've finally won Ipse Dixit's Caption Contest. It's not quite the rush I used to get when Randy Cohen would give me a "similarly" in the old Slate News Quiz (Dan Dickinson, our planetary poster in The Refuge, knows what I mean), but I'd rather be funny than serious any time. I'm surprised there aren't more humor blogs--stuff like UThant--around. Maybe there are but I just haven't found them.

Are you out rocking and rolling tonight, or are you doing another restaurant review for us? Don't tell me about food. I'm on a diet and it's killing me.

It's Friday already?
Tony Adragna
Gooood Mooorning Afghanistan!

Hey Will - 'sup!

Regarding Mike: we all three said the same thing, but I used the least amount of words (count em - I did!). Don't even wanna go there with the BCS - my little turtles were a diappointment. At least College Park didn't blow up like it did when Terrapins basketball lost the NCAA championship a couple years back.

Still no snow in sight here, but we may get some on Sunday - I hope it snows like the Dickens!

I had a quick email exchange with Bill over the "set-up" theory - we essentially agree that the answer to my question (why does defendant A go to federal criminal court, while defendant B goes to a military tribunal, yet both cases involve the same class of crime?) is "political" not "legal". I had hoped that everybody would pick up on that point, but I guess I should start speaking more directly. Fact is that in these types of cases alot of prosecutors' decisions - what to charge, which venue to charge in (where there's an option), penalty to seek - are based not strictly on what the law allows, but on what prosecutors think best serve the public interest (or the prosecutors' own interests, which is hopefully not exclusive of the public's interest nor the law): that's a political calculus.

Just a reiteration for anybody who wasn't paying attention: my argument isn't against "tribunals" - I support them. My criticism is directed at all of the sloppy work that was done by too many people who oughta know better. The worst part of the sloppy work is that those in the affirmative shot themselves in the foot with a gun that wasn't loaded.

Do share, Will - whose your source?

Yours in anticipation of snow sometime this winter,

p.s. apologies on the absence of this A.M.'s ATF - I couldn't log-on to my ISP (do we know aybody in Redmond?). They've promised to have things sorted out by the time I get home this P.M. - better be...

Friday Short Takes
Will Vehrs
The day after a snow day is always good for water cooler chatter in the office, with everyone sharing their travails. The sun is out here and soon everything will be slush.

Kinsley Commentary Andrew Olmsted weighs in with a take on Michael Kinsley's (Kathy, we are careful here at QP!) latest that is close to mine, although a little more pointed. "Flimsy justification" is what he sees for the inevitable attacks.

Plain People's Poetry Jeff Jarvis, survivor of the WTC disaster, writes that he was disappointed in a Public TV special, "In Our City: New Yorkers Remember September 11th..." The show featured readings by poets and writers.

Sometimes poets are best at creating images for us, or putting events in a context we can understand. Other times, they are irrelevant. It seems to me that 9/11 was a tragedy that plain, ordinary people who experienced it are best at capturing its images and feelings.

BCS Must Die It was obvious very early that Nebraska was severely outclassed against Miami. Year after year, teams like Nebraska seem to roll over second class opponents who run the same tired offensive scheme that the Cornhuskers do. But bring on a team with a creative offense and speed and they fall apart like a three dollar toy. Kevin Holtsberry is a blogger who covers football well and his comments on the game are a good read.

Stay Tuned A prominent blogger has promised me that he's going to have lots of juicy tidbits on a long-predicted, but soon to be unfolding, mega-political story.

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

What’s hot: Lileks, Sullivan, agent, precipice.

Joanne Jacobs: Teacher credentials emergecy.

Joshua Micah Marshall Guts will be spilled in McCall v. Cuomo; tilt to India.

Charles Johnson. Secret Service nutjob; bellicose anti-semite Rafsanjani; Lileks beauty; Simon says: bye, bye Musharraf, hello, nuke card; Saudi rocket financing; Zinni on a string.

Jeff Jarvis Idiot, tax-sucking agent; effete special; Lileks got the bleat; neo-Sully; Private, Sir!; watching the horror--"at a distance"--for the first time; when kids go bad, parents suffer; flying naked regulations promulgated.

Libertarian Samizdata Britain on the precipice; cops shrug at ravers; Perry goes blog watching; smacking the looking glass again and a curious poll; spam rocks! FMF syndrome.

Steven Den Beste March of technology creates ethical precipices; more on open source; numbing net numbers; contrived and artificial blush test.

Dawson Is he back or not? Claire showers with Dawson.

Kathy Kinsley Sully added; new cartoon; Staerk v. Goldberg; Bellicose Women: Forward, March!; PC clan needs Humor 101; Lileks fabulous flame; hedging prophecies; Diogenes finds a pundit; irradiated hate mail.

Justin Slotman Beinart's lesson on Islamic militants for left and right; Tenenbaums review.

Kevin Holtsberry Guns cubed; inviting libertarian ire; football rant.

Adil Farooq Bias in the eye of the beholder; Muslim woman speaks out, M-pundit concurs.

Andrew Olmsted Dumb #9; 80% MDR of pretension.

There's Blog Watching by the rest--there's Blog Watching by the best.

Thursday, January 03, 2002
God to the Bishops
Tony Adragna
I said to get thee a Psalter, waddaya doin reading Salter...

Really this woman has gone too far. I shoulda stepped up to the pulpit when she took on our Protestant president, but everybody else seemed to be handling her heresy without the benefit of my adeptness in the ways of Brother Torquemada. Now it's my turn - she just insulted Holy Mother Church...

The heretic Salter has issued an encyclical, and she has this to say to their Excellencies, Graces, and Eminences:

"Likewise, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will start listening to the few sages among them -- say, Detroit's Thomas Gumbleton -- and put discussion of such unholy matters as nuclear weapons and the missile defense shield back on their agenda where it belongs."

Who is this woman? Who appointed her a Prince of the Church? Does she know what it means to be a Good Shepherd? The Bishops are focusing on pastoral matters, as they should - there's a lotta pastoring needed right now. She would have the Bishops delve into the temporal at a time when what Catholics need is something transcendent. Besides, Salter has no way of knowing that the Conference (headquarted in DC, by the way) isn't still concerned about those things, all she knows is that those issues aren't being addressed according to her timetable.

Sorry dear: "grow one", go to seminary, get yourself elevated to the episcopate, then you might carry some weight.

On second thought, just go get laid...

Kinsley wasn't "self-censoring"...
Tony Adragna
... he just couldn't remember what he was gonna say!

OK, that's a cheap shot, but Mike has been steadily getting up my nose ever since that silly bit he pulled over not being able to find the address of his local cable company. Then, his hand-wringing defense of racial profiling at airports - I know it's wrong but we gotta do it - sent me on my first bout of wall bouncing: If you believe that something's wrong, then fight it, damnit. That's when I started my "everybody must get screened" mantra (I'm still sayin it over and over, but it's worked 'bout as well as "there's no place like home..."- maybe I shoulda splurged on the slippers).

The worst part of what Mike is saying can be paraphrased thusly: we continued our valid criticism, toned down and respectfull, but now it's time to start dredging up all the petty stuff again.

Told ya it was gonna happen.

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: The Golen Era of Warblogging: or how multi-blogal alliances have saved the Blogosphere

Andrew Hofer: Leaving blogger ain't zero-sum - staying might be; a slant on Bias

Damian Penny: We toed the lined, and you stepped on em; "Flit"ting around? - stop at Bruce's; Justin likes Jar Jar; Italy is the last in the class - it's la dulce vita, cara mio

Dr. Frank: It wasn't copied - it was Xeroxed; it was onea them Henry's; a "Student" of curses; QP delivers the news from Bree to Hobbiton (yes ss my preciousss, we doesn't likes them Orcs)

Moira Breen: B-movies are good, too.

Tim Blair: Torpor at Tims

Duncan Fitzgerald: More reasons to not read a paper with "Times" on the masthead; Joe is in de bunk wit Dick

Alex Knapp: Left and Right are stupid, but so's everybody else; "cheap oil" ain't why we're here; being fair to liberals, then jumping into the fray; packin it away like a pig - no wonder: he;s got a pigs stomach

protein wisdom: Rain in Rio - get a rope!; Non Judex Dicere; "cheap oil" is why we're here; steel is losing it's edge

Daniel Taylor Nude calendars good for the economy (and my hit rate); Yule log get airtime - ratings surpass GMA; grownups don't belong in the schoolyard

New release: The Blair Blog Project

Open Season on Bush?
Will Vehrs
Tony, yesterday I wrote the following in Punditwatch, referring to tough pieces by David Broder and Tom Friedman:

Two pundits are leading off the new year with broadsides against Bush . . . These early home front salvos against President Bush by two prominent pundits could mark the beginning of a new phase of partisan conflict--compartmentalized good Prez, bad Prez messages, with "bad Prez" drowning out the war on terror unless a new war front is opened.

MIchael Kinsley lays out the reasoning used to restrain pundit criticism over the last three months, but he now appears ready to join in this "new phase" I was talking about:

As a writer and editor, I have been censoring myself and others quite a bit since Sept. 11. By "censoring," I mean deciding not to write or publish things for reasons other than my own judgment of their merits. What reasons? Sometimes it has been a sincere feeling that an ordinarily appropriate remark is inappropriate at this extraordinary moment. Sometimes it is genuine respect for readers who might feel that way even if I don't. But sometimes it is simple cowardice.

What gets suppressed when you're watching what you say is not formal political dissent or important revelations about government malfeasance. Those things you say with care in any event. It's the lesser criticisms of our government and our leaders, the odd speculative comment that you're not even sure of yourself, the joke that may fall flat. But these are important too. My New Year's resolution for 2002 is to stop listening to my Inner Ashcroft and to be less careful about what I say. How about you?

"How about you?" isn't aimed at readers like us, Tony--Kinsley's sending a message. Look for harsh criticism of all things Bush in the coming weeks from the chattering classes (we've known the Dems would do this), setting up "wag the dog" charges if the President moves massively or aggressively against another target in the war on terror.

I'm an animal lover
Tony Adragna
Just not in the "Dr. Singer" sense.

I know how hard the loss of a pet is. When we lost the Lhasa Apsa (which was always "your dog" when speaking to William) I was heartbroken - I actually called in sick to work. I don't know what I'll do when Kitty Dakkar Karmichael leaves for that Great Scratching Post in the Sky.

LBJ was a very eccentric individual - did you ever see that PBS special where the White House plumber described the shower set-up for Johnson (Ouch and woops).

Clinton is what we Sicilians would call a scumabaga of a person, but everybody's gotta sympathize with the death of a pet - if you don't, then the terrorist have won!

Gotta go blog watchin now!

Do we have a research budget?
Tony Adragna
I meant to find that reference myself, but I'm grateful all of the help that we get. Bill's place is exactly where I picked that up. He concludes the entry, " While permitting a legal travesty to develop may seem like good politics, I see a danger: if Moussaoui manages to use the courts to avoid what the majority of the American public considers a just outcome, it won't be justice that is tarnished, but the American justice system. And that is a far more dangerous kettle of fish." Yup, that's a concern, too.

My concern goes to the arguments for "neccessity". Those arguments are unneccessary. If you accept that military tribunals are a proper fora - which they are under our own law and international law - then all you need to do is establish jurisdiction over a certain case (or class of cases). The "neccessity argument" only goes to establishment of the tribunal, so those arguments are now moot. The question being asked is "why does defendant A go to federal criminal court, while defendant B goes to a military tribunal, yet both cases involve the same class of crime?"

One answer, proposed by Alex, is the "Exclusionary Rule Argument" (an argument that he and others have made before, while I was too busy bouncing off the walls dealing with Judge Bork). It goes like this: evidence gained without a warrant is inadmissable, our troops in Afghanistan don't have warrants, so we need a fora other than federal courts in which to present evidence taken therefrom. Problem with the argument is that it forgets about the exception to the rule - exigent circumstances. Police don't always need warrants - crime scene evidence is collected without a "warrant", and police often find themselves at the scene of a crime in progress. Our soldiers are definitely confronting an exigency, and a federal judge would be hard pressed to rule evidence inadmissible on the premise that the searches were "warrantless". The argument just doesn't carry weight.

You see where I'm going ? There are plenty of reasons for not trying these cases in civilian courts, but the strongest argument is that in this instance military tribunals are the proper fora. Make a positive case for tribunals, instead of a negative case for civilian courts. Apply the criteria uniformly. Do these things and I'll stop pestering everybody.

Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm saddened by the death of President Clinton's dog Buddy and I don't know why some are doubting the sincerity of Clinton's statement of sadness over the loss of his pet. Jeesh.

The death of Buddy led the NBC Nightly News to do a fluff piece on Presidential pets--King Timahoe, Fala, and all the rest. They even brought out America's favorite historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, to pontificate on pets. Now I like Doris, but her claim on the show that young people who should have liked LBJ's policies didn't because he picked a beagle up by the ears strained credulity. I remember that incident well and it didn't change my young mind about Johnson one wit. Of course, I probably had been hit too many times by a Western Flyer metal sled to reason correctly.

Quick Answer
Will Vehrs
Tony, I got an email from Bill Quick claiming credit for the "set-up" theory. Wish he was on my Blog Watch II assignment sheet--he's good.

A Blog Watcher's Confession
Will Vehrs
You hinted at it, Tony, so I'll take it from there. Sometimes I get BWO ... Blog Watch Overload. I'm reading so much stuff ... a lot is interesting right away and gets some commentary, but other things don't register in importance, or ring a bell, or connect with something else, until later. I hate when that happens--especially when I can't quite recall who said what. What's worse is when what I thought they said really wasn't what they meant ... it sure gets complicated.

Remember that Slate poster, "lil mac g" or whatever? His bizarre posts were always a mile long, with all sorts of citations and pasted stuff. I swear, he must have cataloged everything he read on the web for instant recall. Sometimes I wish I was like that, but most of the time I just wing it ....

With that off my chest, I'll keep reading all the blogs I can, all the pundits I can, and all the news I can, while still trying to maintain some shred of my so-called life ....

Sled Report I told you that I would take my daughter sledding today, Tony, and I did. Things sure are different than when I was a kid (yeah, yeah, here we go again, through ten feet of snow, yada, yada). Back then, the oldest and toughest kid took charge of the sledding hill. He'd get the younger kids to start prepping the hill and he'd establish some rules, like walk up the side of the hill, not up the "sled run" area. When the sled run was finally ready, the object was to go as fast as one could as often as one could, with various races and contests to see who could slide the furthest. Sled jumps were carefully built and kids were careful--getting hit by a metal Western Flyer could mess up a whole day. Discipline was enforced by the self-proclaimed hill master or his designee. No parents were around--older kids had to bring their little brothers and sisters, lording it over them and ensuring that they followed the rules. Anyone who wanted to go home because they were "cold" was ridiculed.

I got to the hill first and started the prep. A lot of parents wandered over to the hill, smoking and drinking coffee. Some brought chairs. The kids ran all over and the older ones just pushed and shoved each other. No budding leaders were evident, so I just moved to the top of the hill to push kids down on their plastic sleds, but few were interested in that--walk halfway up the hill, then go down. Not many stayed more than an hour--lots of "I'm cold, Mommy." Nobody got ridiculed.

Everybody had fun, though, even if it wasn't the "fascist" experience of my youth.

I'll let go of tribunals...
Tony Adragna
... just as soon as I figure out what it is I'm letting go of. Myself never criticized tribunals per se - you know that my cticism has only been over the way that the issue has been handled by both opponents and proponents. I'm all for military tribunals, properly constituted and acting according to law.

I don't remember where I saw the "set-up" theory proposed - it was in one of the blogs that we watch.

Alex Nails Two
Will Vehrs
Tony, Christopher Hitchens and Nat Hentoff certainly meet my criteria, so my hat's off to Alex. I don't know why I didn't think of those two.

You won't let go on Military Tribunals. I know Kaus' theory is implausible, but stranger things have happened. Who said this trial was a "set-up" to prove the need for military tribunals? I can think of plenty of reasons not to try Moussoui in a Military Tribunal, among them the fact that the structure and all the rules of Tribunals aren't in place yet. It takes more than 100 days to set up something as complex as a Tribunal system. I think Moussoui is a fairly weak prosecution case--it's all circumstantial and, at the end of the day, who's to say this guy wouldn't have told Atta, "You fly--I'm outta here." If this administration is going to hold a tribunal, they're going to want a slam-dunk case to go first because of the likes of you, criticizing tribunals one day, screaming for them the next.

Until we have a tribunal, a defendant, and a charge, we're all just blasting straw kangaroos, er, men. I predicted a long time ago there probably wouldn't more than one person tried by a Military Tribunal.

More heads for the basket
Tony Adragna
Alex mentions some liberal pundits who beat up on liberals. Of course, he fails to mention your's truly - is anybody awake when I normally post?. But, if it's one of the Big Boys that your after, I stand by my earlier recomendation.

I'll hafta go read whateverthehellitis Mickey seems to think is something to think about. At a glance, it looks like horse hockey - there's absolutely no reason that a military tribunal couldn't consider that same type of mitigation. I also don't buy the argument that this trial is a "set-up" to prove the need for military tribunals. Want my opinion of what's going on? - the administration screwed the pooch on the EO, mangled the defence of tribunals, and now wants to make sure that nobody has reason to cry foul. But, they got caught by #22, and we'll just hafta deal with things ad hoc...

More on Moussaoui
Will Vehrs
Tony, as others have noted, Mickey Kaus has an interesting angle on your candidate for a Military Tribunal:

Is everything what it seems? If you were accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, and you really had been part of the 9/11 al Qaeda plot, but you'd broken down and were blabbing everything to the authorities, would you want to give that impression in open court, making yourself a potential target for your former comrades? Or would you seem defiant and say "In the name of Allah, I do not have anything to plead"? Just a thought. ...

Hmmm ... taking Kaus one step further, would you put a singing canary in front of a Military Tribunal? Might the threat of a Military Tribunal make a terrorist into a canary? We won't know until March if the death penalty will be sought. If it isn't, that might be a sign that Kaus was onto something today.

A Head for your basket
Tony Adragna
Hey Will! I found a liberal who speaks frankly about Clinton - our "Dean" Broder. Daily Howler points to two instances: Broder calls for Clinton to step aside (12/20/98), and Broder says that Cliton "saddled the Republicans with blame for the shutdown" (8/26/98).

Broder also took Clinton to task over The Pardons: "But for sheer arrogance of power, nothing came close to matching Clinton's exercise of the pardon authority at a moment when he was free of accountability and immune from legal or political consequences. The more that is learned about some of the beneficiaries of his largesse, the worse it looks..."

So, CarMax is a good buy in more ways than one!- Go figure, company give da people what they wants, company does good...

Would You Buy A Used Car for Your Portfolio?
Will Vehrs
There's a little bit of crowing being heard through the snow around here. CarMax, a Richmond-based company, was the top performing stock on the NYSE in 2001:

The automotive division of Richmond-based Circuit City Stores Inc. was the top performer on the New York Stock Exchange, based on price appreciation, according to calculations by Standard & Poor's.

Shares closed Monday at $22.74, up 477.5 percent from the closing price on Dec. 29, 2000, the last day of trading for that year.

"It's a great feeling to be Number One," said CarMax President W. Austin Ligon, who has shown the naysayers they were wrong about the concept of selling used cars haggle-free at large stores.

Gone are the heady days of the dot.coms and the Enrons. America looked for low-mileage in 2001.

Why did I say "arbitrary"?
Tony Adragna
Will, the guy fits perfectly into the profile of who the Executive Order was intended to apply - yet, it's not being applied. You can't use the argument that he was in jail before the Order, because the indictment charging terrorsim wasn't produced until December - prior to that charge he was being held on immigration violations.

Where's the "arbitrariness"? - it's the difference between Moussaoui not facing a military tribunal, and somebody else being subjected to one under the same Executive Order at a future date.

No snow here this morning! It's supposed to move in this afternoon, but only a dusting to 1". We still got time for more! I'll get back to you on a liberal commentator whose head will fit that bucket.

Will Vehrs
Tony, we've gotten quite a bit of snow here this morning and it's still coming down. Schools are closed and work is on a two hour delay, so I think I'll just use some leave and stay home. My daughter will be pestering me to take her sledding as soon as she gets up. We've got a big hill nearby and she delights in being "Catie Knievel."

A few thoughts this morning:

Tribunals Tony, how do you get "impressioins of arbitrariness" out of trying Moussaoui in civilian court? Nobody's been subjected to a Military Tribunal yet, so what's arbitrary? Here's a guy in jail before 9/11 and you want him tried under a tribunal order issued after he was incarcerated. Don't get me wrong--I think he's a bona-fide al Qaida terrorist who would have flown on 9/11, but sometimes you can't just dispense with uncomfortable procedures. Military Tribunals are an option, a tool, and now a part of prosecutorial discretion. They're also now a fantasyland for second guessers, Bush bashers, hawks, doves, and just about anybody with an opinion--or several of them.

Tough Pundits I don't usually comment on the major pundits until Wednesday's Punditwatch, but reading Safire and Novak today--two "conservatives"--got me wondering if anyone can point out any "liberal" pundits who are as tough on their own kind as these two are today.

Free Trade Trouble Robert E. Lighthizer, Deputy Trade Representative in Reagan administration, has an op-ed in the New York Times this morning suggesting that the narrow victory in the vote on trade authority for the President might cost the GOP control of the House. He also has some choice words about the whole concept and the machinations of both parties on the issue.

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

Front Page Image

Raid Finds Overlooked Al Qaeda Compound KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan. 2 -- One of the largest U.S. Marine operations of the war in southern Afghanistan concluded with the discovery of a primitive compound that had been used by al Qaeda fighters as recently as a few weeks ago but provided little fresh intelligence about the terrorist network, Marine officers said today.

A Cancer Fighter Is Linked To Aging A critical protein that protects animals from cancer in their early years appears, in later life, to cause much of the deterioration associated with aging, according to a provocative new study.

Terps Bowled Over by Gators MIAMI, Jan. 2 -- The University of Maryland arrived for tonight's Orange Bowl meeting with the University of Florida armed with a deliriously happy band of scarlet-attired fans, an overachieving, lovable team that had won the school's first Atlantic Coast Conference football championship in 16 years and the desire to boost its burgeoning program in front of a rare national television audience.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

A Smooth Debut Lifts Euro's Value in Money Markets FRANKFURT, Jan. 2 — After years of preparation and some predictions of chaos, Europeans in 12 nations have begun using a common currency with no significant problems, a surprising amount of enthusiasm and even a slight rise in its value today.

Bloomberg Asks Officials to Plan for Budget Cuts Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg began the business of governing New York City yesterday, saying that he had already asked city commissioners to begin planning for sizable budget cuts, was considering postponing some capital projects, and had cautioned labor leaders that tough times were coming. While he offered a few details of how he planned to close an impending $4 billion budget gap, he also said that he hoped to avoid layoffs.

Not Guilty Plea Is Set for Man in Terror Case ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 2 — Invoking the name of Allah, Zacarias Moussaoui refused to enter a plea today to a six-count criminal indictment that accused him of a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist plot. His lawyer and the judge in the case then entered a plea of not guilty for him.

Washington Times:

U.S. plans bombings in Somalia U.S. and allied military forces are stepping up aerial-reconnaissance flights over Somalia in preparation for raids against al Qaeda terrorist bases in the north African nation, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Terror suspect refuses to plead A "not guilty" plea was entered yesterday for Zacarias Moussaoui after he refused to tell a federal court in Virginia whether he conspired to kill more than 3,000 people in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

New Deficits to Force Boost of Debt Ceiling WASHINGTON -- Only four years after celebrating the end of chronic deficit spending, Congress soon will be forced once again to raise the federal debt ceiling so that the government can keep operating.

U.S. Seeks Custody of Taliban Leader WASHINGTON -- With intelligence reports zeroing in on Mullah Mohammed Omar's suspected location and suggesting that he may be negotiating a surrender, Pentagon officials warned Afghan allies Wednesday that they expect any deal to put the Taliban leader in U.S. hands.

A State of High Anxiety BUENOS AIRES -- Wounded in mind and spirit, they come to the offices of Mirta Goldstein, a psychoanalyst of the old-fashioned stripe, the kind with a couch in one corner of her office and the collected works of Sigmund Freud in another.

Pressure Is on Sharon to Negotiate JERUSALEM -- With the return to the region today of the United States' special Middle East envoy, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faces new pressure to move into broader diplomatic talks with the Palestinians--something he has steadfastly resisted.

Popular U.S. Web Sites Remain Shut The abrupt shutdown of Internet Web sites run by the U.S. Department of the Interior four weeks ago has left Americans in the dark about activities on millions of acres of federal lands, national parks and monuments.

Go read your own newspaper

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

What's Hot: Mandela, Java tyranny, dissenting on Den Beste.

Joanne Jacobs: The shopper is a bore; family history; Tali-boy principal misquoted; nobody gets married any more; forever young, you glammin' girl.

Joshua Micah Marshall Only schlubs get tribunals; legal hassles get go by; there's a scandal in here somewhere!

Charles Johnson. Mandela flips; beat Saddam, beat Big Oil; Ringo, your brother Yasser; a fanatic's conversion; off with their heads; Cafe au Justice; Hey, Den Beste, some Attas remain.

Jeff Jarvis For shame, Mandela; This Bush needs the vision thing, too; xenophobic twit caught in the crossfire; doubting Den Beste; Maxwell Stupid; Ugh--terrorism as tourism; no flavored coffee in my kingdom.

Libertarian Samizdata Looking glass foggy; don't bet on the Euro; Minarets rejoice; Libertarian activists of the world, unite!

Steven Den Beste Ruminations on p53; soldier standards; poignant patent papers; step right up, Steve Jobs; feedback on Mubarek comment.

Dawson More Ann Coulter! More Claire Berlinski! More trouble for Dawson's computer than he can shake a stick at!

Kathy Kinsley Where's the global warming? Spam--perfect weapon; new cartoons; it might have been.

Andrew Olmsted No energy independence inspiration; admit bias, network slanters; trade boosts Africa.

Adil Farooq Free Islam from dirty shackles of bigotry; what Middle East fools don't know.

All the blogs fit to watch here.

Excuse me, Sir - can you
direct me to the Tribunal?
Tony Adragna
I was going to comment on Sen. Lieberman's column, but he says it all too well. I'll just note that the decision to not try Moussaoui in front of a military tribunal is, in my opinion, giving the wrong impression vis a vis arbitrariness. But then, I've also argued that Walker ought to face a military tribunal, and you disagreed with me there, too.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002
See, I'm not making it up!
Tony Adragna
Dr. Frank, with apparently nothin else to do in Hobbiton, read this Washington Times article, then made his own observations in which he says, "I hope for their sake they are kidding..." Now, here's the actual Newsweek item - a Howard Fineman opinion piece predicting the course of '02.

It's the last graf of eight in a column covering a range of issues, and the essential comparison need not be so. Fineman asserts that this is the comparison that Democrats will make, and some radicals in the irrational left have made that comparison, but I find it hard to believe that this would be a "Democratic Campaign Platform." Sure, there are arguments against religious extemism in the U.S., and those arguments have come from across the political spectrum. But, for TWT to spin Fineman's thread into something that looks like "Demonizing Christians" is objectionable.

Update: I've decided that I hafta give TWT some slack since Fineman is responsible for giving TWT the material to work with. For TWT the opportunity was just too good to pass up...

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: A whol;e New Year to (NOT) be bad in; listen up, Walter!

Andrew Hofer: The BIG RIP-OFF - and Argentina, too

Damian Penny: "Newfies" cowering in the Corner of a Brook waiting for the U.S. invasion; easy picks; "Lock me up or I'll sue"; what a doofus!; "Penn"ing a moral equivalent;

Dr. Frank: Historical precedent vindicates "it's not retribution" argument; "twin puffs of Python dust"; Democratic (Self)Destruction; panciking over the Greatness of God

Moira Breen: Poor Yemen; following the Piper; Ay. I feel good

Tim Blair: Elvis is all over the place; "Downtown" Down Under; going polar in minimal clothing; "I hate tricks, Pilger-um.."; Hot updates

Duncan Fitzgerald: I'm getting younger, seriously; Off with their heads! Off with their heads!

Alex Knapp: You mean, there's something to this placebo thingy, really?; "Democracy" ain't good enough; Hey! It's Isaac's Birthday!

protein wisdom: More Bad News, More Dead Bearers; Judge's order affects plans for his own party; Go Greta Go; How to get a free meal in France; Petty sibling rivalry; Cám o*n nhie^`u America

Daniel Taylor: Natalija made me cry

On you marks, get set, gooooooo:

Prognosticating Professor II
Tony Adragna
I said that I didn't think he was being "particualarly prescient, he was just paying attention..." He probably figures the same.

YES, Glenn is the "easy target" - you and Joshua allude to the same reason: he's so damned prolific and way out ahead of the rest of us. I'm sure Glenn doesn't mind - every link is more hits. Maybe we oughta start being more controversial? (thinking.... thinking.... thinking...) Nah - I like us the way we are.

Gotta go blog watch now, after which I will be back with my thoughts on Sen, Lieberman's opinion piece...

Blogger Treason!
Will Vehrs
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, King of Blogdom, too easy a target? Ye Gods!

Adil didn't say which of us was the reason edge and which the rationality edge... perhaps it's best that he's left it up in the air. Thanks, Muslimpundit.

How come Dershowitz hasn't been making a big deal out of his prophecy? Could it be that he has said so much on so many subjects since then that he can't remember? He's smart, controversial, but way over-exposed.

Wake Up, Will!
Tony Adragna
While you were busy disagreeing with Joshua you totally missed Adil singing our praise: "quasipundit - a double-edged sword of reason and rationality! "

I'm quite sure that Dershowitz was talking about militant Islam - during the debate he continuously referred to examples of how Muslim terrorists had used the Koran to justify their actions. I haven't been able to find a transcript of the debate.

OK, the bumper sticker is harmless, and so is the jabbing at our prior prez, but some people eat that stuff up and awaaaayy wee gooo. I hope that Joshua plans on being even-handed, it's just that Glenn is too easy a target...

Soul Mates
Will Vehrs
Well, Tony, I'm glad you've found a soul mate in Joshua. I didn't address his substantive argument because I was only interested in his self-proclaimed role as a blog critic. Each blogger is entitled to his/her ideology and message. I note that he has since clarified himself on the point I made. He has also made it fairly clear that he is going after "conservative" bloggers, so he's not trying to be even-handed. That's fine--he's told us upfront. At least you mentioned that there's a "blame Bush" bucket, an equal catch-all on the left to the "blame Clinton" on the right. You will note that I, no fan of Clinton, have not joined in bashing the ex-president for sins of omission in the war on terror.

The bumper sticker Instapundit cited is pretty harmless--just a way of thinking about something in a new way. I don't remember anybody getting hacked off about what it's satirizing--the old "What if the Air Force Had to Hold a Bake Sale" bumper sticker. Of course, prior to 9/11, a lot of people probably wanted an Air Force reduced to holding bake sales: this new slogan indicates an interest in improving the schools.

Tim Blair in Blog Watch I said Joshua had wandered into hostile territory, but obviously you're going to provide him safe haven. Make sure he wears a burqa when he walks by me ....

PS Yes, I read your Dershowitz post. Did he write anything on this threat or further explain it? Are you sure he didn't mean US Christian fundamentalists?

An afterthought
Tony Adragna
Thinking about my post below ("Come back, Joshua") reminded me of an entry last night where I made a jab at Dershowitz critics - did anybody read that post?

It Is OK to be Pro-Environment and Republican
Tony Adragna
I think that Mr. Bush coulda gone a long way selling people on the idea that businesses would be happy to protect the environment because it's in their economic interest - unfortunately there's the little problem with "self-regulation" Texas. I'm sure that Prairie Chapel is quite lovely, but all that proves is that a bear don't like to crap in its own cave.

I'll admit that Mr. Bush isn't "The Enemy of the Environment", and he's made some good decisions which have been criticized simply because they didn't go as far as the environment lobby wanted to go. But, you gotta admit that Mr. Bush is fighting his own record...

Come back, Joshua
Tony Adragna
You know, Will, I have to agree with Joshua. He uses the ""blame Clinton" bucket as a catch-all for conservative-style reactionary rhetoric, and I'm sure that there's an aptly named bucket that liberal-style reactionary rhetoric belongs in - maybe the "blame Bush" bucket.

Joshua makes a clearly valid point about what I've pointed out as the easy target - the opportunity that's just too good to pass up, never mind that the target isn't what it really appears. Take the Clinton at speech Georgetown that everyone went ballistic over as an example. What was the criticism based on? - it was based on an oddly distorted piece of Washington Times reportage (reminiscent of that "the U.S. gave money to the Taliban" story - the innaccuracies therein which are still cited as truth in some discussion fora), and when people got around to actually reading the speech there was some backtracking going on. But hey, Bill "Depends on what 'is' is" Clinton can't get away - now everybody's carping on his "failure" to deal with bin Laden - as if anybody else would've done anything differently prior to Sep 11. In fact, prior to Sep 11th Mr. Bush was pursuing bin Laden on the same track that Mr. Clinton was on.

Joshua cites the item about schools, and the analog is this: it's really easy to blame the schools for poorly educated students, but what's the underlying problem. Are the schools solely at fault - might it be a much bigger problem than just "the schools". And, how can you compare schools to military instruction - they serve distinct functions, with distinct goals, and are given unequal prioroties in funding at the federal level.

Just something to think about...

John McG and Publius in The Refuge
Will Vehrs
Good stuff in The Refuge, Tony. John McG adds to my post about Sullivan's suggestion to Bush:

. . . I think what Vehrs writes about environmental activists applies to other activists as well.

The classic case of this is Bill Clinton and feminism. Bill Clinton cheated on and made a fool out of his wife, and had a history of mistreating women. His apologists responded to allegations, in part, by making fun of the appearance of the women making the allegations. Nevertheless, Clinton always enjoyed the unequivocal support of the feminist movement, despite private actions to the contrary. Why? Because he favored abortion on demand, so he was in the "good" column.

By the same token, Clinton got no points from fundamentalists Christians for his public church-going and consultations with religious leaders. In fact, most saw these acts as posing. I doubt he would have gotten a break from them if his private life were more honorable, because he backed policies like abortion on demand and integrating gays into the military. For Christian conservatices, Bill Clinton is in the "bad" column.

I agree, and John also points out that Bush hawking himself as an environmentalist would be seen as "posing." Thanks, John.

Publius, long-time star poster in Slate's Fray, starts a new subject--the ACLU.

In the NYT today, it's reported that the ACLU has written to the consuls of 10 Arab and Muslim nations asking for their assistance in identifying citizens of theirs who may have been detained by the US in its recent law-enforcment sweeps. The union told the consuls that it wanted to "highlight abuse" by the US, as well as to build a case against the "unconstitutional" actions of the government.

So, is there anything wrong with this?

I think so. The ACLU has an admirable history of protecting the Bill of Rights for everyone -- however popular or despised. Thus, one of its most controversial cases was its intervention to safeguard the right of American Nazis to parade through Skokie, Illinois, a heavily-Jewish Chaicago suburb where many Holocaust survivers lived at the time. There are many such examples.

What's different here is that the ACLU proposes to ally itself with foreign governments -- not with the victims of apparent unconstitutional "abuse" -- that may have entirely different reasons to "highlight abuse" by the US.

Publius makes a good point--this action does seem to confirm the worst suspicions of ACLU critics--that it is "un-American." Nothing should be further from the truth, but there's no reason for the ACLU to involve other countries.

Read the full text of these and other great posts in The Refuge.

Forget It, Andrew
Will Vehrs
Andrew Sullivan is recommending that someone in the Bush Administration start a PR campaign, spreading the word that the President is a real environmentalist, based on the "green" design of his ranch and his management of the land. Bad idea.

The New Yorker did a fairly positive piece on the environmental design of the Bush ranch some time back. A few weeks later they published (they publish very few letters) one letter to the editor based on the story. It claimed that Bush was not being environmentally friendly just by the fact that he had a second home.

Environmental activists long ago divided the world into good guys and bad guys. It doesn't matter if a good guy has a second or even third home, as many Hollywood environmental activists own. There's no moving from bad guy to good guy. Bush is a bad guy--it's carved in stone. His having a ranch is automatically bad. Any effort to portray the President as an environmentalist would bring more attacks from the extremists than kudos from average Americans. And if some procedure at Bush's ranch wasn't on the "approved" list of ecological practices, he'd never hear the end of it.

I actually like the fact that the President doesn't seem interested in the kind of thing Sullivan is suggesting--using his lifestyle for "spin." Besides--whatever Bush does on his ranch doesn't necessarily translate into policy choices at the Federal level. Because he recycles waste water from his ranch home doesn't--and shouldn't--insulate him from criticism on water issues, for example. Personal environmentalism is nice and sometimes illuminating, but it usually doesn't have anything to do with national policy decisions.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Will Vehrs

Instapundit today welcomes Joshua Bittker and his new blog Smarterpundit. Quasipundit welcomes him, too, and welcomes the competition. Smarterpundit will purportedly review and critique the blogs--sort of a Blog Watch with bite.

I hope his first effort won't be typical. Bittker criticizes the "blame Clinton" mentality, cites Glenn Reynolds as an offender, then gives an example that has nothing to do with blaming Clinton.

Good luck, Joshua. We look forward to you casting a cold eye on Tony and me sometime.

The Day the Critic Was Shot
Will Vehrs
Back on December 14th, former Reagan National Security Advisor Richard Allen wrote a Wall Street Journal piece criticizing Oliver Stone and Cyrus Nowrasteh's Showtime movie, "The Day Reagan Was Shot." Allen entitled his take down "The Day the Truth Was Shot" and I recall noting it here in Quasipundit. Nowrasteh now has a letter to the editor in today's Wall Street Journal defending the movie's veracity ("it has the honest ring of truth") and criticizing Allen for witholding tapes he made in the White House during the crisis.

What interests me is that Nowrasteh says that his movie "provides the first-ever dramatization of a constitutional crisis and government cover-up (both amply supported by facts)[ever hear of Watergate, Cy?] and the threat they posed to a nation when a president becomes incapacitated." I wonder if Stone and Nowrasteh are among the crowd jeering Vice-President Cheney's low profile and frequent stays at an undisclosed, secure location.

The best support for the Stone/Nowrasteh story, it seems to me, is the seriousness President Bush places on presidential succession during times of emergency or heightened threats. It was President Bush's father who was apparently "cut out" for a time when Reagan was shot; the son appears to have taken a lesson from that.

It's great sport to poke fun at the cardiac challenged VP consigned to a secret hideaway, but it makes a lot more sense than having him stand like a statue behind the President during every picayune pronoucement from the podium.

Punditwatch is Back!
Will Vehrs
The first Punditwatch of 2002 has been posted. Our pontificating pals review themselves and the year, then two fire cannon blasts at President Bush to usher in the New Year. Oh, and there's Confederate generals, amputations, and lurid fairy tales, too.

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

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Marines Hunt for Al Qaeda Materials - KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan. 1 -- About 200 U.S. Marines moved across a portion of southern Afghanistan early today on the trail of al Qaeda intelligence, armed enemy holdouts and information about former Taliban leaders, Marine and Afghan officials said.

Coming Out of Their Shells - MIAMI BEACH, Jan. 1 -- One woman toted 13 live turtles -- 11 are her "first-string" terrapins and two, she said, are "second-string."

Hijack Plot Suspicions Raised With FBI in Aug - An FBI agent and a Minnesota flight school official discussed the possibility that alleged terrorist conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was part of a hijacking plot before the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

New York Times:

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New York's New Mayor Sets Agenda, Vowing to Trim Staff by 20% Barely half a mile from the spot where terrorists struck New York City this fall, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called on New Yorkers yesterday to recognize the limits of government in trying times without sacrificing big dreams and big ideas.

Pakistan Is Said to Order an End to Support for Militant Groups ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 1 — Senior officials said today that Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, had ordered the country's military intelligence agency to cut off backing for Islamic militant groups fighting in the disputed territory of Kashmir. They said future support would go only to groups with local roots that are not part of the Islamic holy war movement that has its most notorious expression in Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

Blueprint for Tough, and Brighter, Times With his very first speech, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg began yesterday to confront one of the great complications that faces this new mayor: how to at once prepare the city for tough times ahead without driving its nervous citizens and business leaders into abandoning a city in distress.

Washington Times:

Talks to focus on surrender of Omar -- From combined dispatches
KABUL, Afghanistan — Authorities are negotiating the surrender of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who is being protected by as many as 1,500 die-hard supporters near a town some 100 miles northwest of Kandahar, an Afghan official said yesterday.

India rejects Pakistan offer -- NEW DELHI — Hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough to prevent a military confrontation between India and Pakistan suffered a setback yesterday when India ruled out any bilateral meeting between the nuclear-armed neighbors' leaders at a regional summit later this week.

Los Angeles Times:

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Congress Picks New President for Argentina BUENOS AIRES -- With Argentina teetering on the brink of anarchy, a congressional alliance of major parties moved with rare cohesion Tuesday and named Sen. Eduardo Duhalde as the nation's fifth president in less than two weeks.

U.N. Fears Abuses of Terror Mandate UNITED NATIONS -- Demands by the Security Council that U.N. members act against global terrorism are being used by some regimes to justify repression of domestic dissent, U.N. officials and independent human rights advocates say.

Battling Islamic 'Puritans' The most incendiary Muslim in American academia knows a thing or two about Islamic fanatics. He says he used to be one as a seventh-grader in his native Kuwait.

A Wave of Patriotism on Parade in Pasadena The Tournament of Roses wrapped itself in red carnations, white mums and blue statice Tuesday, kicking off the new year with a parade fit for the Fourth of July.

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

What's Hot: The Incredible Lightness of Blogging on New Year's Day. Blog Watcher *** Picks: Natalija Radic & Steven Den Beste.

Joanne Jacobs: Martin Luther nailed links to the door, but he was young.

Joshua Micah Marshall Tali-boy's personal problems--read Jacobs, Josh.

Charles Johnson. Shocking pic; Paks pull a Taliban; al Qaeda's grisliest videos; Rall big distortion; cads v. gentlemen (A Churchillian moment for you, Tony - ed.)

Libertarian Samizdata Airstrip added, new email, is a jacuzzi next? *** Natalija, war, and remembrance; bogus news or truth?

Steven Den Beste Hey, Mubarek, talk to Saddam; secrets for safety; liberation in blue jeans; USS Clueless offers luxury, economy, and steerage; 9/11 "Dream Team" shot the terrorists' wad, dear Watson; *** Bush multilateralism wishful projection, thank goodness.

Kevin Holtsberry Back to sex debate; at least he still has the Steelers--and a wife.

Click here if Tim's take tantalizes--Blog Watch I.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002
The Prognosticating Professor
Tony Adragna
Alan Dershowitz v. Alan Keyes - 9/27/00 - Franklin & Marshal College - debate on the Role of Organized Religion in Society - I refered to this debate before, but I'm watching it again (on CSPSN), and I was struck by something. Dershowitz cited "religiously motivated terrorism" as the greatest threat that we face in the 21st Century. Prof. Dershowitz wasn't being particularly prescient, he was just paying attention to what was happening in the world: unlike some other people.

Now, everybody is shouting down Falwell et al, but some people are looking askance at Dershowitz, too. Hmmm...

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Brian is away being bad somewhere

Andrew Hofer: Moving day - update your address book

Damian Penny: Stoned on the Rock; spinning at de Taliban's feat; no fighting over "the idiot"

Dr. Frank: George and the Dragon throw a good party - for auld lang syne I wish I could remember

Moira Breen: Resolved - get Alex off the rag; Hey Moira, what's for supper?!; "Frog frying" takes a break - thirsty for Champagne;

Tim Blair: Terry Jones' "silly walk" ain't funny anymore

protein wisdom: A Bowl of little Maryland marsh turtles!; Guardian condemns Blogista Revolution!; the Europe that ain't; the Palestinian state the can't be; Men - the way it oughta be; DPRK - defending the right to ensure that nobody has any; apologizing for sour milk; Ebert pans Bush: The Sequel; In another universe we're the bad guys

Daniel Taylor: The Center of What?; Oh, Fadda - nice calenda!

Mrs. Blair, can Timmy come out and watch, too?

Not Time Yet!
Tony Adragna
Waddayadoin, Will! The decoration's must stay up til after the Epiphany!

Well, that's the argument that I make every year, but they came down this morning anyway. I didn't get to whinge about it this year, though - William and Jason took them down before I woke up (sneak-thieves, I tell ya). William made it up to me (as he does every year) by cooking our traditional New Year Day dinner - collard greens seasoned with smoked turkey wings, black eyed peas, hard boiled eggs, pork chops & apple sauce (my pork chop reciepe - marinated in apple juice), potato salad - Yum, Yum!

My little marsh turtle friends are playing tomorrow? I think I'll watch... gotta go Blog Watch now...

Then don't eat there!
Tony Adragna
What to make of the article about segregated dining in San Francisco? Glenn seems to think that "shrill race-baiters" are responsible for the paucity of minority diners in San Francisco's upscale restaurant - I disagree. The article does go into some racial factors that impact on the phenomenon, but the evidence is anecdotal, and even the respondents admit that their "uncomfortableness" may be based on percieved rather than actual racism. The author even uses the phrase "self-segregation", which means that people are making choices rather than being denied choices.

Does racism exist on the West Coast? Hey, San Franciscans ar human, too! But, what's going on with dining in San Francisco has more to do with economics and demographics - with some cultural differences thrown into the mix - than with racism. San Francisco resident, author, veteran of the S.F. hospitality business, and Blogosphereian Bill Quick makes a strong case for for what's really going on - I have to throw in with Bill, and it's not just because I call the Bay Area home.

Tell the truth, I'd rather go to one of the small family style restaurants where you can get some good, hearty "peasant food" at a reasonable price - why pay outrageous prices for cassoulet at some fancy establishment when I can get bean stew in the neighbourhood.

Besides, I couldn't get a table at Top of the Mark, either.

n.b.: OK, profiling does happen, but I've gotten a lot more of that since I've been in the mid-Atlantic region than I ever experienced at home. Here's an anecdote - my long-time housemate William is well paid, well dressed, well spoken, loves to dine out, and he's black (yes - he refuses to be called "African-American"). Usually he shows up in a nice suit, while I show looking like "Oscar", but the waiters always give me the bill! You wanna know who gets more offended in those instances? - ME

The Snowman Interlude
Will Vehrs
Tony, I started taking the award-winning holiday decorations down today. What a nightmare. I knew I couldn't do it all today, so, in a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself, I put away all the Christmas clutter on the lawn--Santa, sleds, reindeer--then moved the snowman into the center of the yard. Now we have a snowman/winter motif theme until this weekend, when I will hopefully climb the "ladder of reknown" and take down all the lights. Are your decorations still up? If so, what's your plan?

My oldest daughter and her finance must be crushed tonight in Blacksburg, VA. The Virginia Tech Hokies let a winnable game slip away to Florida State in the Gator Bowl. I talked to them at halftime and they were optimistic. I'll watch Maryland tomorrow night in the Orange Bowl. That's about the extent of my interest in this lousy BCA bowl line-up.

Most bloggers have been quiet today ... Blog Watch II might be pretty thin tomorrow morning unless they get rolling. Of course, I cover Steven Den Beste--he's a Blog Watch all to himself. He is amazingly prolific--I think he writes more original content than anybody and it's always good.

Evita, Evita, Evita
Tony Adragna
You know Will, when Argentina decided to dollarize I had doubts. I'm reminded of those lines from Time Rice's lyrics:

"So I chose freedom
Running around, trying everything new
But nothing impressed me at all
I never expected it to"

Choosing freedom - free market, liberal society, etc. - is only the first step. If you don't deal with all of the underlying problems that made juntas possible, then you haven't set yourself on the proper course. Argentina's decision to try everything new has led to chaos because expectations were too high. Former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe went through much worse when they liberalized, but they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Methinks Argentina is afraid of the tunnel...

Who gets The Credit?
Tony Adragna
In fairness to everybody, military preparedness is always a campaign issue - who gets vindicated depends on whether a test gets presented, and what form the test takes. Churchill was clearly right in regards to the RAF prior to WWII. On the other hand, Admiral Holloway (CNO '74 - '78) was right about the need for heightened standards and professionialism, but was his assessment that we needed a larger fleet (the buildup of which began under Carter, not Reagan) right? We'll never know, because the proposition was never tested.

About all we can do is to look at expectations, plan accordingly, build a force structure equal to the plan, and periodically reassess whehter or not everything gels. Then, when the feces hits the air moving machinery it's time to start praying that you were right all along.

Of course, we are over-extending some of our military resources, to the detriment of maintainence (of morale and machinery). But that's just as much reason to decrease the tempo of operations as it is to increase the size of the force.

Who ultimately gets the credit? My vote goes to Admiral Crowe (Chairman - JCS '85 - '89).... No, really, it's our people in uniform who get the credit, and I am unanimous on that....

Short Takes for '02 Starters
Will Vehrs
Good morning, Tony. You've got the hangover edition of Above the Fold; I've got the slow starting blues. It's tough to be a dynamo on New Year's Day.

MommaBear Is a Dynamo! The "ubiquitous" MommaBear has emailed me this morning, alerting us to Muslimpundit on a tear. Saudi Arabia is the "dipstick" country. Changed US attitudes toward the Saudis is one of the big stories of 2001 that will have an impact in this new year.

Legacy Watch Joshua Micah Marshall is taken with the "fairness" of Michael O'Hanlon's op-ed in today's New York Times: "Winning With the Military Clinton Left Behind." O'Hanlon makes a big deal out of the Bush/Cheney campaign criticism of military readiness under Clinton:

Of course, the main credit for the quality of America's military must go to its own personnel. But the victory in Afghanistan, coming on the heels of the successful action against Serbia in 1999, shows that the Clinton administration maintained a strong and focused military able to carry out a post-cold war mission.

Sure, the piece is fair, but it comes suspiciously close on the heels of efforts by Clinton to revive a positive spin on his legacy. Every challenger overstates the disaster of the incumbent, from JFK's missile gap to Clinton's effort to deny that a recovery was starting under Bush I in '92. In fairness to Bush/Cheney, while charging that Clinton had let the military deteriorate, they took pains to make it clear that it was still the best in the world. They also have made attempts to restructure the military.

This is a non-issue--just an understandable, but beside the point, effort to counter beside the point criticism of Clinton's record.

Krugman, Continued Bill O'Brien of Slate's Today's Papers notices NYT columnist Paul Krugman's piece on Argentina, saying, "He doesn't go a super good job of making his case . . . ." I'll have more to say about this Krugman effort in Punditwatch tomorrow, but in contrast to O'Hanlon, Krugman seems to steer clear of naming certain parties who might have contributed to Argentina's woes, perhaps out of respect for a certain legacy.

Speaking of Punditwatch I never got to a "late" edition of TV Punditwatch as I promised ... sometimes, time just runs out on the best intentions.

Happy New Year, Tony!

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

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Pakistan Detains Islamic Militants - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 31 -- Under pressure to avert war with India, Pakistan said today that it had rounded up more than two dozen Islamic militants and detained the leader of a group blamed for an attack on the Indian Parliament earlier this month.

Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution - ANNISTON, Ala. -- On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt. They called it "Alabama clay" and cooked it for extra flavor. They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.

D.C. Homicides, Violent Crimes Fall - The homicide rate dropped slightly in the District last year but increased in six of the Washington region's suburban jurisdictions, including a dramatic rise of more than 65 percent in Prince George's County

New York Times:

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Bloomberg Takes Oath as 108th Mayor of New York - With American flags waving and confetti falling, a visibly moved Michael R. Bloomberg was sworn in early this morning in Times Square as New York's 108th mayor. Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman and political novice, now inherits the responsibility of governing New York City from Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose uncompromising will and sheer ubiquity made him synonymous with the city he presided over for eight years.

Taking Command in Crisis, Bush Wields New Powers - CRAWFORD, Tex., Dec. 31 — It was late on a Saturday, just days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when President Bush was ready to sign an order freezing the assets in the United States of suspected Islamic terrorist groups, the first showy financial strike against Al Qaeda. The order was to be announced, or so the plan went, the following Monday by Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill. But the president suddenly had another idea.

A Subdued Hurrah for 2002 in a Patriotic Times Square - The ball still glittered atop Times Square last night, but this year, some of its crystal triangles honored the World Trade Center, the hijacked planes and the Pentagon. The party paraphernalia were as ubiquitous as ever, but this year, the colors were red, white and blue.

The Euro Takes Visible Shape: Pocket Change - FRANKFURT, Tuesday, Jan. 1 — Europe's dream of a common currency became tangible this morning, when euro notes and coins became the legal tender in 12 nations with a combined population of 300 million.

Washington Times:

Bush: 2002 will be 'a great year' - CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush yesterday predicted 2002 will be "a great year," partly because Americans have re-evaluated their priorities and returned to "the basics in life" — faith and family.

Officials probe data of al Qaeda - U.S. intelligence officials have begun combing through valuable data collected on the al Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan as the search continues for ousted Taiban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Los Angeles Times:

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Accord Near in Buenos Aires - BUENOS AIRES -- Leaders of several of Argentina's most important political parties were close to an agreement Monday to form a "government of national salvation" that would place a powerful senator in charge of this troubled country for the next two years.

2 Days of Torment, Triumph - TOKYO -- It is the sheer grit, and heartbreak, of runners such as Yuji Nakamura that once again will keep tens of millions of Japanese glued to their TVs for 13 hours Wednesday and Thursday.

Another Losing Year for the Stock Market - A strong rally since the terrorist attacks couldn't save the U.S. stock market from recording its second consecutive losing year in 2001, a historical rarity that last occurred more than a quarter century ago.

It's Happy New Euro for a Continent - FRANKFURT, Germany -- More than 300 million Europeans adopted the euro as their common currency today, finally fulfilling calls for greater unity and integration by putting their money where their mouths are.

'02 Elections Shape Up as Cliffhanger - WASHINGTON -- Although the 2002 midterm congressional elections are still 10 months away, a combination of factors--from President Bush's soaring popularity to candidate recruitment--are boosting Republican chances of not only holding control of the House but also retaking the Senate. -

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