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Saturday, January 12, 2002
BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Auditing the Blogosphere on Enron accounting

Andrew Hofer: A soprano sings at a Taliban funeral for three Enron benefactors (did I get that right Andrew?)

Damian Penny: Canadian mafioso does good Works in Public(hang on Damian, we're just finalizing the plans - Tony); Pakis like CONA, too; we have a poet laureate; Pashtun women are still in their burqas, but the men have come outta the closet; Musharraf moving

Dr. Frank: WaPo editorial board is a ship of fools; Jonah got his "media glasses" on - lost his outsider point of view; un-PC trumpet blowing; how to make a bank stipulate to what you really think about bankers; Tommy is deaf, dumb, and blind, but The Boulder Daily Camera is just plain ol' stupid

Moira Breen: Blowing back at Welch; buying a loaf in Paris used to be so uncomplicated; what does have to do with paddles?

Tim Blair: Read a newspaper, Gay!; make room for an immigrant - send Clark away; no shop, no sweat... um, wait a minute - that means no job!

Duncan Fitzgerald: Lookie at what I looked at today!

Alex Knapp: Collateral damage is unavoidable, not "war by all means"; financing a reform campang; don't interfere with the libertarians; Enron spent $2000 to watch Lieberman get Gore-d

protein wisdom: Enron's Demise; the Hell Dante couldn't have imagined - DC!; Musharraf mashes militant Mullahs; Taliban Tars

Daniel Taylor Except for the students, schools are just fine!

We are not in anyway affiliated with the scandal at Blog Watch I. Well, maybe we are, but you gotta prove it!

Update: The AICPA also issued a statement on Dec 4th specifically addressing Enron type scenarios. Note especially the mention on page two of "a new audit standard for detecting fraud..."

And, the Big Five CEOs are circling the wagons!

There's a storm a'brewin' in the channel...
Tony Adragna
... and all the small boats are putting in to port. But, the heavy traffic doesn't have that option - they gotta go out into the thick of it no matter!

Sure, there oughtn't be a "political scandal" outta this - unless something REALLY BIG turns up. Unfortunately, "ethics" isn't about "what happened" as much as "what might appear to have happened", and even being cleared of an ethics charge can be career ending. In DC the ethics game goes even further - it's more like "what can we make this look like for our own gain". I don't know how bad it'll get, and some people are suggesting that most campaigns are going to steer clear lest they end up making a mess in their own sandboxes. That's the most probable outcome, but I guarantee that we'll see some particularly nasty (and ill-advised) mongering in some campaigns.

There is a real scandal, though, and this one will have IMPACT on business. As I previously noted, Chairmen Levitt initiated the war against questionable accounting practices, but it seems like the Big Five merely carried on as if nothing happened after the Sunbeam Fiasco (starring everybody's favourite accouting firm). Add the IRS tax-shelter registration requirements into the mix, and you've got a two front war. The firms have been staying alive by developing new weapons - selling tax saving ideas that, while not "creative accounting", stretch the limits of accounting standards. Firms are gonna have a hard time selling new ideas - that is if new ideas even make it past the scrutiny of accounting firm partners who may be more conservative about what they're willing to chop.

Believe me this - there has been a wake-up call. FASB issued a special report back in April about financial reporting in the "New Economy", and that was in response to the dot.bomb implosion. Now, the AICPA is doing the same thing with regard to the "Impact of the Current Economic and Business Environment on Financial reporting".

IOW, politics may turn out to be business as usual, but business is gonna be something different...

Churchill Unchallenged, Wilder, and Three Good Sites
Will Vehrs
Tony, Tom Roberts is a top-notch analyst (although I'm miffed he's playing us off against Moira Breen), but he ought to know that nobody beats the wiz, er, Churchill, in your book. I have learned not to make any such comparisons in your presence.

Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder is actually still pretty prominent here in Virginia, but mostly because he's an unpredictable contrarian. He's building a slavery museum in Fredericksburg, VA after an almost unseemly competition he held among various localities. He moderated a debate between Warner and his opponent Mark Earley (who now is joining Chuck Colson's prison ministry) and appeared to be tougher on Warner, his former campaign manager, than the Republican. Of course, a few days later he endorsed Warner. Rumor has it that Warner will tap Wilder to lead a study of the state work force and how to save money. It's a perfect job for Wilder because he doesn't care who he irritates. I think if Wilder were more conventional, either in the stereotypical "black leader" mode or as a regular Democrat, he would have a higher profile.

Fritz Schranck is saying nice things about my Enron take, but his analysis is much more comprehensive and eloquent than mine. I recommend it--he works with state regulation of corporations, so knows whereof he speaks. A sample:

More evidence of bipartisan bedmaking will come out as the bankruptcy proceedings and criminal investigations follow their course. Unfortunately, some writers and politicians will seize the opportunity to argue that campaign contributions are the central problem.

Outright financial misdealings and fraud are just too boring for some folks, who need to attach a "gate" to every screw-up. Let the creditors’ lawyers and federal investigators do their thing, and we'll watch where all the pieces land.

Fritz is quite a Renaissance Man--he also has an excellent golf site.

Another Renaissance Man is new blogger George Spencer, operating out of Instapundit territory, the state of Tennessee. George mixes issue commentary with travel and parenting expertise, a very nice blend. He's definitely worth a look.

Story Update: "Parallel Partitions"
Tony Adragna
Will, I'm still planning on writing something about the Colonial Era end-game, but I haven't gotten my thoughts together on it yet. If you want a preview of where I'm going, then try reading Mark Steyn's comments - he makes the argument more as a defense of Bush (and he's right).

But, did he attend Sandhurst?
Tony Adragna
G'day Will!

What's Dougie up to nowadays, anyway? I haven't heard much ('cept a few snippets) about him between his departure and the Warner Win. The Richmond Times-Dispatch put out a "Modern History" piece in Oct. 2000 celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wilder's inauguration, but the rest of the country seems to have forgotten about him.

Somebody who will never be a footnote is my hero Churchill, which is why I must take exception with Tom's comparison of Indian Army Chief Gen. Padmanabhan to Winnie. I cited to Tom the NYT story (see today's ATF) about this general whose bellicose pithiness I find as humorous as it is refreshing. Tom referred me to a video of the general's remarks, which I wasted no time in seeking out in expectation of exemplaray Real Player viewage.

Alas, I wasn't as impressed as I had hoped. Sure the guy is a striking figure, and he says the kinds of things that one would want a general to say (everyone except politicians hoping to avert a war, that is) - he gets high marks from me. But, while his delivery and tone may be reminiscent of Churchill, he doesn't have the spirit - the esse - of Winnie.

Besides, I do think Winnie was cuter...

I know Churchill, and Churchill he ain't!

You're too right 'bout the best stuff being in The Refuge, like Dan's comment on "Ol' Clawed"! Note to Dan: don't get me started - seems the other party has somebody who's been around forever, too...

"Rags" Wins!
Will Vehrs
Congratulations to Quasipundit Refuge poster "Rags." (She's the one with the arresting and suggestive avatar.) "Rags" is this week's winner of Ipse Dixit's excellent caption contest. I'm hoping it was a close call, as yours truly entered numerous times ....

Just goes to show--sometimes the best stuff isn't here, it's in The Refuge.

Mark Warner, Virginia's 69th Governor
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm watching coverage of the inauguration of Mark Warner as Virginia's 69th Governor, the first Democrat to be sworn in since L. Douglas Wilder became the first African-American (and still the only) Governor of a state in 1989. Professor Larry Sabato, Virginia's top talking head, is political analyst for the PBS coverage team I'm watching. He's predicting a short honeymoon for Warner and a short goodwill period for outgoing Governor James Gilmore.

Apparently it has only been since the 1880's that inauguration ceremonies have been held in Virginia. Prior to that, luminaries such as Patrick Henry took the oath in private with no celebration whatsoever. The crowd at Wilder's inauguration remains the largest that Sabato has ever seen--he's been attending since he was a pup in 1965.

Governor Warner will probably give a brief, unifying, and uplifting speech. On Monday, he addresses the legislature and will probably lower the boom, instituting hiring freezes and recommending other austerity measures. I wish him well.

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

Front Page Image

Hidden Numbers Crushed Enron ( At the time, late in 1997, it was the smallest of cracks in Enron Corp.'s sprawling foundation -- a difference of a few million dollars in a $383 million investment partnership whimsically named Chewco, after a character in "Star Wars."

Rubin Asked Treasury About Aid to Enron ( Former Clinton Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin telephoned a top Treasury official last fall to explore whether the Bush administration could intervene on behalf of Enron Corp. as the giant energy company neared collapse, officials said yesterday.

President Installs 2 Disputed Nominees ( With Congress in recess, President Bush yesterday installed two of his most controversial nominees, sidestepping the Democratic-controlled Senate that had declined to vote on their confirmation.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Enron Sought Aid of Treasury Dept. to Get Bank Loans WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 — The president of the Enron Corporation (news/quote) repeatedly called a senior Treasury Department official last fall and sought help arranging bank loans for the energy company as it scrambled to avoid collapse, the Bush administration said today.

Ford to Cut 35,000 Employees and Shut 5 Plants DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 11 — The Ford Motor Company (news/quote) announced its most sweeping cutbacks in two decades today, terminating 35,000 workers, closing five plants and dropping four models.

Video Captures Sept. 11 Horror in Raw Replay The videotape is raw.

It shows the black wedge of an airplane slamming into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It shows commanders in the building's lobby scrambling to figure out how to send scores of firefighters into the burning building.

Indian General Talks Bluntly of War and a Nuclear Threat NEW DELHI, Jan. 11 — India's army chief declared today that the military was fully prepared for a large-scale conventional war with Pakistan and was also ready to deliver a devastating nuclear strike should Pakistan use its nuclear arsenal first.

Parties Weigh Political Price of Enron's Fall WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 — Concern that the escalating Enron inquiry could ensnare the White House has rattled some Republicans in Congress, who said they were not yet willing to defend the administration while so many facts were still unknown but who warned Democrats against trying to use the case for partisan advantage.

Washington Times:

Bush appoints Scalia, Reich -- The Washington Times President Bush yesterday signed recess appointments for Eugene Scalia and Otto Reich, both of whom had been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and other liberal Democrats.

Probers told of Taliban deaths -- The Washington Times Captured enemy fighters have told U.S. interrogators that a significant number of Taliban and al Qaeda leaders were killed by U.S. air strikes, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Enron Sought Cabinet's Help With Bankers WASHINGTON -- Struggling to avert a financial meltdown, Enron Corp. asked a top Treasury Department official for help in securing a much-needed loan from the company's bankers during a series of phone calls last fall, government officials revealed Friday.

A Question of Balance on Inquiry WASHINGTON -- The Enron Corp. scandal is approaching a stage where questions about the investigative process may threaten the White House as much as revelations about its substantive dealings with the bankrupt energy giant.

Father Convicted in Hockey Killing CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In a case that has come to symbolize the perils of excessive parental involvement in youth sports, hockey father Thomas Junta was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Friday in the beating death of fellow sports dad Michael Costin.

Homeless, Helpless, Hopeless CLEVELAND -- From the duplex on the west side of town, they cart out an empty bird cage, a rusted exercise bike, a mattress, a dictionary. From the yellow house with green trim emerges a broken dresser and some hangers. The Victorian house with the turret yields a sofa bed, a recliner, a table.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

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

What’s hot: It's the Enron, stupid.

Joanne Jacobs: Who needs God in schools? We've got Allah.

Joshua Micah Marshall Rubin's Enron call; Enron contribution trends; Friday night deficit; recusals leave committees bare; revolving door, Enron-Armey.

Charles Johnson. Spell and say; anti-semitic anthology; cool the "chilling"; get Osama, no matter what.

Jeff Jarvis Powerful, not profitable.

Libertarian Samizdata How Natalija unwinds; tasty Euros; sauce squad; pro-EU? You're no libertarian; rock on, Silvio.

Steven Den Beste changing history for diversity's sake; economic stimulus for Kyrgyzstan; threats to the Philippines; Rall's opening horseshit.

Dawson Subdued Coulter alert; a better woman, loved and obeyed.

Kathy Kinsley Apologies for Matt Welch; value blogging, value busking; big symbol in Tallahassee.

Ken Goldstein Donk to diversify; Jersey City pad; Blair's snarkiness.

Kevin Holtsberry Enron scandal overblown; Natalija baiting me on incest?

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity." And they read Blog Watch I.

Friday, January 11, 2002
BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Du Enron-ron-ron, du Enron-ron

Andrew Hofer: Productivity 101; Pork - it not just the other white meat; Charitable Capital Contributed at Capitol

Damian Penny: The Gagliano Gang; It's the big hole in NY, stupid!; Gotta sell a book - need somebody to rant against it first

Dr. Frank: Observant Spectator - the less Bush knows' the better he'll do; "I shall return", and we did - again!; the containers have a "dual use", too!; rubes rely on Riyadh; a blog of universal colour; would you like some gravy on your veggies?

Moira Breen: Uncle Ben was not a whacko!; happy when the links work - give it a try; QP contributor Tom is now syndicated - a good read (as usual)

Tim Blair: Village Idiots have their own town hall meeting

Duncan Fitzgerald: Winging it out West; McCain wants AmeriPork served on every campus

Alex Knapp: Reading assignment; Forever Delayed Approval; Presidential precedents; those amiable Afghans

protein wisdom: Racial Profiling Realpolitik; Solution: uniaxle vehicles;

Daniel Taylor "Friday Five"

Click here: for more "Blog Watch"ing

Mrs. Noah, can Timmy come out to play?
Tony Adragna
This is getting to be too funny, Will - our favourite "chattererbox" is at it again! My response to Timmy:

For the love of God - you've been predicting O'Neill's death for so long that I'm convinced the man is immortal.

Am I the single Democrat in the world who appreciates - so much so that it overcomes my knee jerk reaction against mega-millionaires - O'Neill's best asset? I'm talking, of course, about his ability to tell the truth when he doesn't mean to.

I like O'Neill, and I think the Dems in Congress actually prefer him to some other more ideologicaly inclined candidate.

O'Neill is here to stay for one simple reason: who else?

OK, Will, who was it that backed up my statement on Chairman Levitt? Whoever it was, I'm glad this person agreed - it happens to be the truth. That story I linked to (here's the link again for anybody who missed it) was such a hot item when it came out that I had to hide that issue of BusinessWeek. I had to print it off of BW's website about 100 times, which was a pain because of all the stuff in the sidebar. Why didn't I print it from Lexis or Dow Jones? - you don't get graphics from those services.

Gotta go blogwatch now, which I've been remiss at the least two days...

Enron Addenda
Will Vehrs
Tony, a reasonably independent guest on The News Hour tonight backed you up on Arthur Levitt, so I'll back off a bit from criticizing the SEC during the Clinton Administration, pending more information. I wasn't cutting Enron any slack by saying this ought to be the Arthur Andersen scandal--who can an investor trust if not a company's auditor? Enron shows the dangers posed by the cozy relationship between a company, its auditing firm, and affliates of its audit firm.

Bob Bennett and a few other high profile lawyers of the past (Boies?) are going to be in our living rooms a lot in the next few months while lining their pockets, although how does a bankrupt company pay its attorneys? Bill Bennett is a "B" list guy now, awaiting the next big moral crisis to get back on the "A" list.

Novak Watch: Tony, I hardly ever see a blogger link to Bob Novak, the veteran columnist and controversial "Prince of Darkness" on CNN. I'm glad I cover the guy in Punditwatch because he's ahead of the curve a lot more often than more popular syndicated pundits. He was ahead of everyone on criticizing Marc Raciot for planning to continue his lobbying practice while leading the Republican National Committee--Raciot backed off. Novak also reported that Reich and Scalia would be recess appointments, long before anyone else thought President Bush would take that step. The recess appointments would be big news today and tomorrow, causing a firestorm if not for Enron. I guess that's some consolation for the President.

End-run Enron
Tony Adragna
Now Will, you're messing with Brother B', and you know I gotta back him up. Well, not all the way, but I understand his cynicism - he's been building the case since the California Crisis, in which Enron played something more than a cameo role. Correct me if I'm wrong (anybody?), but Enron was one of the companies subpoenaed by a committee of California's legislature, and there's still some animosity over that fight. I wouldn't go so far as to support Brian's suggestion that DoJ's current move has some nefarious purpose - there's nothing to suggest interference by the administration, and Ashcroft recused himself.

Still gonna be a nasty political fight, though - just mention "ethics" in this town and people start speed dialing.

Just one person gonna come out of this ahead - Bob Bennett (whatever happened to his brother?)

As far as Enron is concerned - can't give them any slack. These things don't happen but with connivance between the auditors and clients.

I wouldn't be so critical of Arthur Levitt - he started the fight against "accounting practices". Back in 2000 Levitt went after the BigFive (I was working for one at the time) BIG TIME, and the bean counters were pissed. I musta had more request for this article at the time than I ever had for any other article (note the sidebar and related articles - very informative).

Keep an eye on Aurthur Andersen. I don't think we heard the whole story behind the the Consulting Partners leaving and forming Accenture...

America's Worst Pigskin Prognosticator's Picks
Will Vehrs
No longer shackled by my pre-season prediction of Jeff George as MVP and the Carolina Panthers as a division winner, I offer the following NFL Play-off picks:

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia Tampa Bay couldn't buy a offense; they won't be able to steal a win in nippy Philly. Eagles.

NY Jets at Oakland Oakland keeps finding a way to lose. The Jets will benefit from this largesse. Jets

San Francisco at Green Bay The 49ers went inexplicably cold several times this season. They will go cold again. Packers

Baltimore at Miami First team to score wins, assuming someone scores. Ravens

Bonus predictions: Vinny, most yards passing; Green, most yards rushing; ABC, worst telecast.

Enron Weekend
Will Vehrs
Tony, our friend Brian Linse is positively orgasmic over the Enron scandal; payback for Whitewater at last! I'm a little miffed that he didn't list me as one of those who has been eerily silent about this possible beginning of the end of the Bush Administration.

In classic scandal-mongering style, Brian dismisses the Administration's response and hints at coming evils he dare not speak:

Ari "watch what you say" Fleischer says the President supports inquiries by all relevant agencies of government. I say that's bullshit, and we should brace for a political powerplay of unprecedented scale. There is no reason for Justice to be rushing in at this point other than to make the Bush administration look concerned, and to try to control the direction of the investigation. Unless the Bush administration can find a scapegoat, Justice and Congress are headed for a major clash. I was right weeks ago when I detected the aroma of this scandel, we'll see if I'm right about the upcomming battle.

Of course, if Justice wasn't investigating, that would be a cover-up of of major proportions, and we should always have Congressional investigations first so that future potential criminal cases can be destroyed by grants of immunity and other shenanigans. Brian is a little light on just what crimes Bush Administration personnel committed, other than making big money off Enron stock like others were making off stock during the, ahem, Clinton Administration. Oh, I guess if money is fungible, then all the money donated to Republicans was the "bad" money, right?

I don't know why this "scandal" is named after Enron. I say it's the Arthur Andersen LLP scandal. How could the Clinton Administration SEC have let Enron do all its financial chicanery that led to this disaster if not for the Enron auditors failing in the most basic due diligence?

That said, I say bring on the investigations and put those Enron executives in the dock. If they committed crimes, throw the book at them. If Bush or his people participated in or helped smooth the way for crimes, throw the book at them, too, and let the chips fall where they may. Partisans on either side ought to be cautious about going out on a limb on this one. Get rich quick attracts people of all political persuasions and every party's donor list contains names of people who are, were, or will some day be considered unsavory.

This weekend might tell us how serious the Bush Administration views the Enron scandal. The talk shows will no doubt be littered with Enron stories--let's see if it's Andy Card or Dick Cheney who shows up to defend the Administration. If Cheney shows with his growl and air of authority, it'll indicate he has nothing to hide and I think the scandal dries up. If he doesn't ....

Dodge City: almost a Ghost Town
Tony Adragna
Here I was worrying about the impact on employees in DC’s tourist industry, and I totally missed any potential political fallout from legislators not answering their mail.

How bad will it be? I don’t think it’ll have that much impact. The correspondence that really matters - from influential BIG PEOPLE and very persistent “Average Joes” - always seems to find a response. Most of those 300M items in quarantine are the type of correspondence that would get an auto-penned form letter: nice for framing, but constituents will understand not getting one under current circumstances.

As for flying home, I’m quite sure that legislators are getting through despite the burden – just look at the Dingell story ( below, Jan 8). But, why go through that if you don’t need to? Hence, unless you’re really psyched about coming to DC, or have business here, you’ve probably made a thoroughly rational decision to just stay away. I’ve previously reported the scene in Lafayette Park: depressing

Here’s an anecdote about email. I send 3 emails a month – one each to my senators and my rep. The mail that I sent to the senate in December got an auto-reply directing me alternate addresses. Haven’t these people heard of “auto-forward”? Better yet – why not “hotmail?!

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

What’s hot: Questions about the absence of Blog Watch not being asked.

Joanne Jacobs: Walberg: special ed counterproductive; choking charters; blame it on zits.

Joshua Micah Marshall Ambrose plagiarizes Ambrose; get me an ethnic cleansing flak; me my Ph.D.

Charles Johnson. One conference's freedom fighter is you terrorist; two out of three ain't bad for Arafat; Saudi trash monitor is a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

Jeff Jarvis Bearing witness on audo; a plan for the WTC site; crackpot libertarians; blogger poll--pay up.

Libertarian Samizdata Enron, leftist lifeline; safety Nazis to gut Guy Fawkes; less is more on public spending.

Steven Den Beste I'm a geek, but not geekish; pet wars; the people don't revolt.

Kathy Kinsley Suman Palit added; go topless if you want me to find fault.

Justin Slotman Dog meat and bisonburgers; I have no idea cubed.

Kevin Holtsberry MVP musings--join the Brady Bunch; GOP Governor makes war on fruits and vegetables.

Fritz Schranck Sterile parenthetical; what if the Federalist Papers had been emails?

Andrew Olmsted Ozzie worthy; 2nd OJ trial unworthy; querying the quisling.

Blog Watch I ain't over till it's over.

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

Front Page Image

Enron Asked for Help From Cabinet Officials ( Bush administration officials yesterday disclosed that the top official of Enron Corp., one of President Bush's biggest campaign donors, sought help from the administration to avoid a bankruptcy filing in the weeks before the giant energy concern collapsed last year, wiping out the pensions of thousands of workers

Firm's Saga Could Dog Bush in Election Year ( It's too soon to say whether Enron Corp.'s spectacular collapse will become a bona fide Washington scandal, but the classic elements suddenly burst into view yesterday -- disclosures of destroyed documents, phone calls to the White House from a big political contributor, an attorney general's recusal and damage control efforts by the president.

U.S. Military Begins Shift From Bases In Pakistan ( The Pakistani government, faced with a fresh confrontation with neighboring India, has quietly been discussing with the United States how long the U.S. military plans to remain at the four Pakistani air bases that have been key components of the war in Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said yesterday

U.S. Alters Estimate Of Threats ( The United States is more likely to suffer a nuclear, chemical or biological attack from terrorists using ships, trucks or airplanes than one by a foreign country using long-range missiles, according to a new U.S. intelligence estimate.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Enron Contacted 2 Cabinet Officers Before Collapsing WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 — The White House disclosed today that Kenneth L. Lay, the chairman of the Enron Corporation (news/quote) and one of President Bush's biggest political contributors, telephoned two cabinet officers last fall, and one of them said Mr. Lay had sought government help with its dire financial condition.

A Familiar Capital Script WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 — The rapidly exploding Enron (news/quote) inquiry presents elements reminiscent of earlier Washington scandals, including carefully phrased denials and accusations of easy access. And in a matter of hours today, it sent the White House into a full- scale effort to contain the potential damage to President Bush at a time when he wants to focus on the war on terrorism and the flagging economy.

Nevada Site Urged for Nuclear Dump WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 — After spending 14 years and $4.5 billion on studies, the Energy Department said today that it would recommend that Yucca Mountain, a barren volcanic structure about 90 miles from Las Vegas, be used to bury thousands of tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste from power plants and nuclear weapons factories.

Bush Tells Iran Not to Undercut Afghan Leaders WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 — President Bush warned Iran today that it must not try to undermine the new interim government of Afghanistan, or it will face consequences from the same American-backed coalition that ousted the Taliban from power.

7 Marines From Across U.S.: Profiles From a Fatal Mission Their hometowns are spread across the nation, from the suburbs of New York City to Montgomery, Ala., to the wheat farming country of Washington. Some had joined the Marine Corps because it was a family tradition, while some merely wanted a way to go to college and see the world.

Washington Times:

Bush orders look at pensions -- The Washington Times President Bush yesterday decried the "awful bankruptcy" of Enron Corp. and ordered a review of pension disclosure laws to help protect the life savings of workers at other troubled firms.

Terrorists taken to Guantanamo -- The Washington Times Captured remnants of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda army of terrorists and the Taliban militia began a 24-hour journey yesterday from their once-hospitable base in Afghanistan to a makeshift U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Auditor Says It Destroyed Enron Records WASHINGTON -- The accounting firm Andersen acknowledged Thursday that it destroyed a "significant" number of documents related to its audit of Enron Corp., as the White House disclosed that Enron's chief executive contacted Bush Cabinet members for help when the energy company was collapsing

Davis Unveils Budget Plan Based on Cuts, Optimism SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gray Davis proposed a $100-billion state budget Thursday that would borrow billions of dollars against the future and cut services to the state's poor in order to close a projected $12-billion shortfall without raising taxes

Camps Thrive in Pakistan, India Charges NEW DELHI -- While pressure mounts on Pakistan to take tougher action against terrorism, India's top spy agency charges that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has done nothing to dismantle what it says are at least 17 terrorist training camps in territory under his control.

Nevada Site Picked for Nuclear Waste WASHINGTON -- Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham on Thursday selected Nevada's Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, as the final resting place for tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste.

The Call of Balkan Realms BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Sitting on a bench in this decayed capital, a retired high school teacher poured out his pain from long years of misrule, wars, international sanctions and social rot.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

Not Your Average Joe
Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm back ....

I must say that I'm honored you brought in a temp to replace me. Joseph Britt is a temp, isn't he? That was like replacing Dawson with William F. Buckley for a day. All kidding aside, Joe is one of my all-time favorite observers of politics, culture, and sports. Any chance he'll join our staff permanently so that we can expand Samizdata-style?

Joe, I'd like to comment on the Ornstein article you referenced. Back on December 27th, I talked about a slick mailing I got from my Congressman urging his constituents to communicate with him via email and to sign up for electronic updates. I had hoped to get a conversation started about the possibility that Congress was either using or being forced to use 9/11 and the anthrax scare to change the nature of constituent communications, but nobody bit. Ornstein doesn't mention email, either. I wonder how much capability email has to substitute for the traditional first class letter, what potential it holds for making one's Congressperson a frequent "friendly" visitor to constituent in-boxes, and what that might mean.

I know that e-mail doesn't do anything for the richly rewarding visits to Congressional offices and it could raise the old "digital divide" issue. What strikes me is that Congress was caught flat-footed, like executive branch agencies that are getting beat up, with no real contingency plans to do what they have to do without benefit of their offices or the Capitol. I wonder if Congresspersons started scouring their districts trying to find the people whose letters got stuck in the decontamination piles, or if they're just hoping to eventually get to Aunt Millie's now-crumbling letter about her Social Security snafu.

And, like you, I wonder if all this will have any electoral implications. Being "out of touch" with constituents has always been a challenger's favorite charge.

Thursday, January 10, 2002
Lost in the Mail
Joseph Britt
Tony, did you happen to see the piece by Norm Ornstein in The New Republic the other day? He makes the point that, for some Congressmen and a lot of Senators, the normal routine of constituency service has fallen apart over the last four months. The Hart Building (which contains the personal offices of about half the Senate) is closed; Senate staff are piled up in borrowed quarters; large amounts of correspondence has been sequestered for decontamination; and public access to the Capitol (which is normally arranged through Senate and House Members’ offices) has been severely restricted. Perhaps most significant, travel to and from Washington takes a lot more time than it used to, what with security hassles and Reagan National Airport handling many fewer flights. This means less time for Members and Senators back home.

Might this have electoral implications? It would be an interesting test of some long-accepted ideas, chief among them being that the best way for Senators and Congressmen to immunize themselves from challenges is to have very good and visible constituency service operations. Most Representatives have a dozen or so staffers in their Washington offices, and Senators can have several times that many. Most of these people spend part of their time on constituent correspondence and casework. For some time now it’s also been accepted practice for both Representatives and Senators to work a three day week (fly in Monday night, fly out Thursday night) in Washington, the better to spend time in semi-campaign mode. I’m just wondering if the disruption in all these Congressional routines might present challengers in this year’s election with some unexpected opportunities.

Of course, if it doesn’t work out that way people may start to ask why House and Senate staffs need to be so large.

I got a radar lock!
Tony Adragna
See, the thing that really bugs me, Joe, is that I already agreed on the "politics" - a statement that might as well have gone unsaid. But, Daschle isn't the only player in this game whose motivations are political.

Is something said necessarily wrong because the speaker has an ulterior motive for saying it? Why does there seem to be a refusal, by both sides, to address valid points of argument simply because the questions were raised in a political context by members of the opposition? Arguing that we need to delay some of the tax cuts is politically wrong right now, whether or not the statement is in fact wrong. That's what I'm hearing, but you know what? - "Homey don't play dat!"

I'm not sure that the fundamental point hasn't got any traction - I'm just an "Average Tony" and I'm sure tracking on it...

Partying Like It’s 1929
Joseph Britt
Tony, I suspect you know from my remarks in the Refuge that I think all the commentary over whether Sen. Daschle was fair when he said the tax cuts may have made the recession worse is mostly beside the point. Daschle is trying above all to get some political traction against a very popular president, and his best argument - that last year’s tax cuts make funding major government obligations in future years much more difficult - is one most voters won’t track, not during a recession anyway. Hence the attempt (and a fairly half-hearted attempt it was) to link the tax cuts with the recession.

The important policy issues are whether the tax cuts help fight the recession (they don’t) and whether some of the cuts scheduled to occur in the out years will need to be repealed (they will). President Bush has already conceded the first point by announcing his support for another try at enacting a stimulus package when Congress comes back. As to the second point, we know what our future obligations will be with respect to Social Security, we know what President Bush wants to do about missile defense, we know that fixing the AMT problem and funding the war on terrorism will require a lot of money - and we know that with last year’s tax cuts in place the numbers don’t add up, not without a return to large federal deficits. Trust me, Mitch Daniels knows this too. The administration’s position, like Daschle’s speech, is about politics, not economics.

As far as what caused the Depression, the Big One of 70 years ago - well, it’s an interesting subject, worthy of further study and discussion. That’s all I have to say about that.

What caused the Depression
Tony Adragna
Rand Simberg delivers a take down on my comments regarding the Depression. The arguments in opposition to my comments center on a refutation of “cause” – something that I never even addressed. What I argued is that the Depression could have been “contained” at the level of recession had the government taken proper steps prior to the collapse. The proper method would have been to use an instrument of monetary policy, as Rand admits when he argues that the money policy was too tight.

“Money policy” is what I and others were pushing from December 2000 onward as the proper tool for fighting recession, at the same time that Mr. Bush was selling tax cuts as a recession fighter. Sorry, not buying it. Still, the tax policy passed, despite warnings that the looming recession (or any recession) would negatively impact surplus projections. When Mitch Daniels finally came out and announced projected deficits through FY 05, that wasn’t Democrats talking down confidence in the administration – that was the administration revealing that the promise couldn’t be kept. My lack of confidence isn’t based on political opposition to Mr. Bush: it’s based this administration’s record in dealing with the economy. You can’t counter with a claim that the tax cuts did in fact pull us out of recession, because we all know that’s just not true: the tax cuts, most of which haven’t gone into effect yet, couldn’t have had that effect. However, this administration’s insistence in making that argument might very well lead to a lack of confidence, and that may have had some effect (n.b.: again, I’m not saying “it did”).

Finally, the answer to the question of causation is a lot more complex than I can handle . One of the factors, though, was the fact that the economy was over invested. There was too much debt in the stock market, and not enough anything of value to back up those transactions – a parallel to the bubble. There was also the problem of banks that were undercapitalized - not enough assets to cover liabilities. Loosening monetary policy after the collapse would have done no good since there wasn’t enough money in the aggregate, and anybody who did have money certainly wasn’t going to throw into the chaos.

When people look at the market without regard to fundamentals, that’s when fundamentals have a habit of sneaking up and biting you in the ass: evidence the failure of market watchers to predict the recession. When governments play political games with the economy without regard to reality, that’s when the public has a habit of sneaking up and biting presidents in the ass…

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

Front Page Image

U.S. Plane Crashes on Pakistani Mountain ( A U.S. military plane carrying seven Marines, including a female radio operator, crashed into a mountain in southwestern Pakistan yesterday, and Pentagon officials said there were no survivors. It was the deadliest incident yet for U.S. forces in the war against terrorism being fought in neighboring Afghanistan, and it brought the first death of a female service member in the conflict.

Enron Is Target of Criminal Probe ( Justice Department officials confirmed yesterday that they have begun a criminal investigation of Enron Corp. Sources said the probe is focusing on whether the company defrauded investors by deliberately concealing crucial information about its finances.

Commuters Caught in Icy Surprise ( A light drizzle that formed suddenly over the Washington area yesterday morning left behind a nearly invisible, frozen slick that surprised forecasters, road crews and commuters, creating the first serious and widespread traffic disruption of the winter.

New York Times:

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Iran Exerts Sway on Afghan Border, Worrying the U.S. WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 — Iran is seeking to exert political and military influence in border regions in western Afghanistan in ways that challenge the authority of the interim government in Kabul and threaten Washington's long-term goals in the country, Pentagon and intelligence officials said today.

Seven Marines Killed in Pakistan Crash WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 — An American military tanker plane carrying seven marines crashed into a mountainside and exploded during its final approach to an airfield in southwestern Pakistan today, killing all aboard, the Pentagon said.

Pataki Vows to Limit Spending and to Avoid Delaying Tax Cuts ALBANY, Jan. 9 — Basking in the patriotic spirit in New York since Sept. 11, Gov. George E. Pataki promised in his annual address today to hold the line on spending without postponing tax cuts and urged lawmakers to rise above partisanship.

Justice Dept. to Form Task Force to Investigate Collapse of Enron Widening the potential scope of the criminal investigation into the Enron Corporation (news/quote), the Justice Department plans to form a special task force of prosecutors from across the country to conduct the inquiry into the company and its eventual collapse, government officials said yesterday.

Washington Times:

Terrorists moving from Somalia -- The Washington Times Warlords from Somalia and terrorists linked to the al Qaeda network have been spotted moving from the failed African state to nearby nations, as U.S. intelligence agencies continue to monitor terrorist activities outside Afghanistan.

Musharraf to return Pakistan
to moderation and toleration -- The Washington Times
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will tell his countrymen this week that after 20 years of rampant extremism, the South Asian nation will return to its original values as a modern, tolerant Islamic state, according to the country's foreign minister.

Los Angeles Times:

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U.S. Launches a Criminal Probe of Enron WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department said Wednesday that it is launching a wide-ranging criminal investigation of Enron Corp., whose sudden collapse shredded billions of investor dollars and cost thousands of jobs.

Base Awaits 'the Worst of the Worst' GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- The cells are boxes of chain-link fence with concrete floors and thick-planked wood roofs. The beds are mats on the floor.

Plane Crash Kills 7 Marines in Pakistan WASHINGTON -- A U.S. refueling plane crashed into a mountain in Pakistan, killing all seven Marines aboard Wednesday in a day of setbacks for the Pentagon that included the release--despite U.S. protests--of three top Taliban officials by their Afghan captors.

Breakups Are Their Business TOKYO -- It's an industry that thrives because Japan is still a nation that can't say no. For the right price, operatives will dump your girlfriend for you, lose your husband, drive away that mistress or fire that longtime employee.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

Wednesday, January 09, 2002
”… an urban state with a rural tax structure …”
Tony Adragna
I don’t know if you caught that, Will (are you still there?), but the quote is how State Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D - Fairfax County) described Virginia’s tax code. I did catch the story in today’s WP on the Virginia GOP’s vow to cooperate with Warner on the $1.3 billion shortfall. I’m optimistic – mainly because we’re not hearing any “over my dead body” language.

Maryland’s General Assembly opens today , too, and they face a similar budget problem. The Baltimore Sun offers some advice to state legislators on reclaiming discipline – or, at least being honest. Your pick for my governor is the other top MD news story today – question is “what did she ride into town on?” Answer: her father’s name. I’m still betting on somebody local.

The closest parallel to the fight between Tommy D’ and Dubya is forming between Tony Williams and the DC Council over the ’99 tax cuts. There’s some language that’s read as a trigger to delay the next phase of reductions (“putting off a reduction” keeps getting read as “increase” for some reason).

Turning back to the national economy for a moment, Robert Samuelson echoes my skepticism of economists' and their models' ability to deal with circumstances that don't follow the theory. There's a warning at the end - just something to keep in mind. And, just a note on Dionne's piece from yesterday: he didn't just frame the debate, he also laid the foundation when he said, "It is doubtful the president ever could have kept that promise, but it's definitely inoperative now."

On to WAR - I should say a little more about why Cohen's piece yesterday doesn't make any sense. Cohen argues that more U.S. troops on the ground would have produced a different result, but his argument bumps heads with reality. The only place that we could've used more U.S. troops was on the front-line against the Taliban troops in the field, and that point would be valid if those troops had in fact been needed. We achieved a route of the Taliban army by supplying outnumbered opposition forces the firepower that they needed - our support acted as a "force multiplier", obviating the need for us to put large combat teams in the field.

What troops we did have on the ground were the right troops for the jobs they were asked to do. You don't send large combat teams into "hill country" against guerrillas - that's where the Soviets and Brits went wrong in Afghanistan. Now, there are those who would argue that U.S. troops would succeed where Soviet troops failed because our troops are better trained and equiped. Well, folks, training and equipment aren't the final word - the Soviets also had a problem with tactics. If we had gone in the same way that the Soviets did, with those same tactcs, it's doubtful we would've succeeded. To follow those examples of waste is sheer stupidity, not valour. We used the proper tactics, and the proper forces, and achieved the military objective in a BIG WAY.

I heard Gen. Clark make a very good observation last night: there's no such thing as a plan that will work. What you have are "plans that won't work", and "plans that might work". The art of war is finding a plan that might work, and making it work. Those are decisions that can only be made by the people who know the ground, the troops, and the abilities. Clark refused to second guess his former colleagues, and so should everybody else.

I s’pose I’ll just keep this up as if I’m talking to you, Will – the alternative is something that I already do…

Dingell in Skivvies? Time for Me to Pack Up
Will Vehrs
Tony, I may not be in favor of excessive mega-babe ogling, but if the alternative is Congressman Dingell in boxers, I might reconsider. Better to have excess zeal on the part of screeners that doesn't cause anyone lasting harm than security breaches that erode our sense of safety, I suppose.

I hate to let John Dingell's underwear adventure be the last topic I discuss with you, but my real job in the 3-D world insists that I take a whirlwind Virginia trip from Richmond to Warren County (Front Royal) to Campbell County (Rustburg) and, finally, back to Richmond. I leave soon and I'll be back sometime on Friday. I will have no apparent access to your profoundities, my beloved Blog Watch II blogs, or anything else in cyberland. I will be getting my information the old-fashioned way: TV, radio, and print newspapers. Ah, the deprivations I will suffer ....

I trust you'll operate just fine without me. If my password doesn't work when I return, I'll get the message.

I'll leave you with a little gem from an editorial in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch. Today the Virginia General Assembly convenes for its 60 day session, grappling with "severe" budget problems:

A Capitol insider believes that even if the state budget doubled or tripled, "unmet needs" would remain. No doubt. If the state is like a house, then it does not matter whether the house is a one-bedroom shack with no running water or a 20-bedroom mansion with gold-plated fixtures: There always will be more projects around the house on which to spend money. Think of the legislators and the lobbyists as contractors who get to decide on behalf of the owners what work will be done.

Contracting is good work if you can get it.

Punditwatch Sneaks By Servers
Will Vehrs
After a rough and tumble game of "hide and seek" with the "publish" button, the latest print Punditwatch has been posted. Read all about the unkindest bite, quiet judges, and bright entertainment. These pundits are all over what's hot and what's not, but could be, if only we'd listen to them ....

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

Front Page Image

High Court Narrows Disabilities Act's Scope ( The Supreme Court narrowed the scope of the Americans With Disabilities Act yesterday, ruling that an impairment must have a substantial effect on a person's daily life to qualify as a disability under the law.

2 Top Al Qaeda Fighters Caught ( U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan captured two senior al Qaeda fighters and bombed a suspected al Qaeda compound amid signs of continued resistance in a province south of Tora Bora that has been a longtime terrorist stronghold, defense officials said yesterday.

'Maybe an Older, Wiser Visionary' ( In the summer of 2000, Michael Saylor began coming to work late and leaving early. He spent most weekends in the Hamptons. This is not unusual for CEOs in summer, but it was uncharacteristic of Saylor, who rarely went a full weekend without seeing his office at MicroStrategy Inc. and had not taken a vacation since a 1997 trip to London with his mother.

New York Times:

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U.S. Is Building Up Its Military Bases in Afghan Region WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 — Even as the air war in Afghanistan wanes and American-backed forces hunt down pockets of Al Qaeda and Taliban resistance there, the United States is preparing a military presence in Central Asia that could last for years, military officials say

Justices Narrow Breadth of Law on Disabilities WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 — The Supreme Court ruled today that to qualify as disabled, and therefore to be protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, a person must have substantial limitations on abilities that are "central to daily life," and not only to life in the workplace.

Ravaged Psyches in a Generation of Fighting JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Jan. 8 — Check-in today for Patient No. 17 went like this: The patient, Khosal Khan, a 25-year-old vegetable vendor whose right leg had been severed at the knee in an American airstrike, was separated from his crutches and chained to a mulberry tree. His mother and two brothers, one of whom was bleeding from the marks where Mr. Khan had just bitten him, were allowed a quick goodbye.

Accord Reached in School Bias Suit Against Yonkers YONKERS, Jan. 8 — A tentative settlement was announced today in a federal desegregation lawsuit against the Yonkers public schools, a deal that could end more than two decades of bitter litigation and federal intervention in the state's fourth-largest school district.

Washington Times:

Bush hails education reform -- The Washington Times HAMILTON, Ohio — President Bush yesterday signed into law a sweeping education bill requiring new student testing as he resumed a tour of America's schools that had been interrupted by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Powell singles out Somalia -- The Washington Times The United States is telling several countries — particularly Somalia — they must deny safe haven to terrorists if they hope to avoid becoming battlefields in the U.S. war on terrorism, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Davis Pledges No Tax Hikes in State Speech SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gray Davis delivered his final State of the State address of his term Tuesday evening, promising to protect education and other programs while vowing not to propose new taxes to close an anticipated $12-billion budget shortfall.

High Court Limits Who Is Disabled WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court made it harder Tuesday for millions of workers with painful wrist injuries, bad backs or similar impairments to qualify for protection as disabled people under the federal anti-discrimination law.

Key Al Qaeda Strategist Gains Priority in Terrorism Dragnet WASHINGTON -- As the hunt for Al Qaeda leaders expands beyond Afghanistan, authorities confirmed Tuesday that they are pursuing one man as intensely as Osama bin Laden himself--an elusive Palestinian who they believe has been entrusted with keeping the terrorist organization's global network of cells alive and operational

Mentally Scarred for Life by Massacre Lenore Alvillar-Aguilar marched into the Cal State Fullerton library an eager freshman, the first in her family to attend college. She emerged an hour later trembling and crying, a witness to one of the worst mass shootings in California history

Go to The Newspaper Rack

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

What’s hot: Ridge polls, weblog history, spam.

Joanne Jacobs: Chomsky worship goes pass/fail; early weblogging; anti-idiots v. idiotarians; common sense profiling--sorry, Hamid.

Charles Johnson. Multi-choice Ridge poll; pilot's statement; hunger for El Fadl's banned books; Steyn on starvation; Bush's slur; exciting code fragment.

Jeff Jarvis Two choice Ridge poll; Disneyesque WTC platform procedure; Wendy's jammed; smart PR pic; academic dust-ups bore me.

Libertarian Samizdata What sweaty libertarian trainees should read; Leno, Mill, quoted, The Onion cited; EU, thy future is Bosnia-Herzegovina; Holtsberry hammered--again.

Steven Den Beste Government wins strip club; prove disproving Shannon on compression.

Dawson Elvis' birthday, Lennon's regret.

Kathy Kinsley Solidarity with Solent; reporters could help; search us all.

Justin Slotman Weblog history; Aspergers in paradise; a costly Cuban; pedant snare in merger dissection; reassessing Newton.

Kevin Holtsberry Solent on spam--a reply; play-off predictions; purple putrid.

Andrew Olmsted Not backing down on Berry; analyzing Cohen and Dionne; Midway arrest raises questions; disputed suicide note; money for dubious causes?

Fritz Schranck West and Webb, a musical link; between felony and misdemeanor plagiarism, there's "Bidenizing."

Though I've belted you and flayed you,/By the livin' Gawd that made you,/You're a better man than I am, Blog Watch I.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002
ROFLMAO - I did ask for uniformity
Tony Adragna
Picture this, Will - Dingell in his boxers!

"'I complied, but tried to do it with some small bit of dignity,' Dingell said, adding that afterward he couldn't help seething to his wife, 'Woman, do you realize what they made me do?'"

Yup, that about sounds just like how he would react, and I can hear him saying that as if he were right here beside me.

This man don't need no shtick - he's got "character"...

Cohen wants to splurge!
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, I finally get to comment on this bit of bit of nonsense from Richard.

He starts out by citing an example from WWI:

"On one day in World War I, the British army lost 19,240 men. That was July 1, 1916, a Saturday. A single regiment, the storied 1st Newfoundland, was virtually annihilated. Maj. Gen. Sir Beauvoir de Lisle, reporting on what had happened, wrote, 'It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valor, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further'."

Then, as he nears closing, richard says, "the fact remains that for whatever reason, America has fought this war on the cheap."(emphasis added) What does Richrad mean? He means that our not committing troops en masse to "capture or kill Osama..." is evidence that Americans are afraid of putting their lives at risk. Where has Cohen been? Hasn't he been listening everytime the administration made clear that the war isn't about "personalities", but about "terrorism"? Apparently not!

Do we want bin Laden? Yeah, certainly! But, should we get stupid and start wasting lives (as de Lisle did).

Cohen got "frugal" mixed up with "cheap" - maybe he oughta be more frugal with his writing, and reconsider the cheap shots...

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Chuc Mung Giang Sinh Viet Nam!

Andrew Hofer: The word that didn't make Carlin's list; "double jeopardy" ain't a euphamism; Wow! -people read this stuff?

Damian Penny: Fool Day; Canadian reservations; bouncing British boys v. Bombs

Dr. Frank: Root cause of Muslim Militancy - Mullahs!; leaving from the Gray Havens - lease read this!

Moira Breen: Byron on Blogistan; Breen n blogging

Tim Blair: Mail Call - Where's that letter from Fisk?

Duncan Fitzgerald: Gay times at Viacom; bringing Tom Daschle's kids Momma into it

Alex Knapp: OH, shoot! - I'm really not all alone; still noy payin' 'em what they're worth; Marketing Jobs

protein wisdom: Former Greenpeacer lobby's for Monasanto - he musta be GM'd; Lucifer ain't to accurate with that hammer; Ouchless my ass - take you're medicine Somalia

Daniel Taylor Marriage found in a bottle; Mine, Mine, Mine - get over it!

Click here: for more "Blog Watch"ing

Tony Adragna
Thanks for trying to lighten the tone, Will - people got feelings! Unfortunatly, sports and nekid ladies don't do anythng for me...

My final word on economic theory: I don't believe in it. At least, I don't believe in economic theory the way that partisan supply-siders/demand-siders do. The theories forget that people aren't as predictable as the theories might rely on them to be, and that's my point about confidence. People don't watch "the fundamentals" anymore - they wach the news. Remember the market watchers complaining that we needed a quick resolution to the election dispute because the uncertainty was bad for the economy? Remember the way that foriegn markets reacted not to something that O'Neill did, but something he said? (one of his now famous "gaffes").

I think the government needs flexibility, not rigorous application of theory.

I'm still getting over Dave's death - there was an exemplar!

A Great Wendy's, NBA Bashing, and Cheesecake Obsession
Will Vehrs
Tony, I was saddened to hear about the death of Dave Thomas. Of the many corporate chieftans who have appeared in ads for their own company, he was one of the best. I patronize a Wendy's here in Richmond, VA, that is hands down the best fast food place I've encountered on this planet. They fight to get your order, they get it to you fast, and they get it right.

A while back I criticized Gregg Easterbrook, Slate's Tuesday Morning Quarterback, for shortchanging us on football and spending too much time gawking at "mega-babes." He redeemed himself a bit today by comparing the NFL to the NBA. His comparison is the best take-down of the NBA I've ever seen, and I agree completely. My favorite passage:

In last June's basketball draft, the first, second, and fourth selections overall were high-schoolers. What could the NBA have been thinking? Games are ugly, the players have poor fundamentals and insist on disorganized street ball—so we'll solve it by bringing in high-school kids! As best TMQ can figure, NBA management is so embarrassed about the glorified-pickup-game character of the current league that it is trying to make today's starters look good in comparison by finding players whose fundamentals are even worse. Maybe the acronym will be changed to Now Based on Adolescents.

Of course, after trashing the NBA and providing some decent football commentary, he descends into a discussion of naked Las Vegas showgirls and cheerleader camps. If anyone needs internet search tips for finding nudity in the strangest places, Easterbrook's got it.

Bad News for Burger Business

Wendy's Founder Dave Thomas Dies at 69 ( COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Dave Thomas, the portly pitchman whose homespun ads built Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers into one of the world’s most successful fast-food franchises, has died. He was 69.

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

Front Page Image

Strikes Level Al Qaeda Camp ( Bearing down on remnants of the al Qaeda terrorist network inside Afghanistan, U.S. officials yesterday reported leveling a former terrorist encampment that had seemed to spring back to life last week and disclosed the names of three more senior al Qaeda members whose death or capture has been confirmed.

U.S. Seeks Thousands Of Fugitive Deportees ( Authorities will soon begin searching for thousands of Middle Eastern men in the United States who have disappeared after being ordered to leave the country, according to officials familiar with the operation.

Taliban Emptied Country's Banks ( KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan. 7 -- The mullah arrived at the Kandahar branch of Afghanistan's central bank during regular business hours, asked to see the manager, who was another mullah, and presented a check signed by a third, Mohammad Omar

New York Times:

Front Page Image

U.S. Sees Battles After Afghan War in Lawless Areas WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — The war on terrorism after Afghanistan could focus on denying terrorist groups sanctuary in places like Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia and the Philippines, countries where they have sometimes operated freely, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz said today.

Regulators Urge Easing U.S. Rules on Air Pollution WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — Top federal regulators have recommended informally that the White House relax one of the nation's most contentious air pollution regulations, a provision that requires power plants to upgrade pollution control equipment when they upgrade their operations.

Skipper Ties Arms Cargo to Arafat's Group JERUSALEM, Jan. 7 — The captain of a ship seized last week by Israel as it smuggled tons of weapons said in jail-house interviews today that he had taken his orders from a weapons agent of Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority and that his deadly cargo was meant to arm Palestinians.

Musharraf's Bind: Averting War Without Humiliation PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan. 7 — Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, became so concerned last week that tensions over Kashmir would spill into war with India that he telephoned the American ambassador in Islamabad, Wendy J. Chamberlin, to ask where Washington intended to draw the line in supporting India.

AOL Expecting New Rule to Lead to Big Charge and Net Loss AOL Time Warner (news/quote), the world's biggest media company, said yesterday that it would take a charge of $40 billion to $60 billion in the first quarter to reflect the costs of its merger last year because of a change in accounting rules.

Washington Times:

Democrats dispute Daschle -- The Washington Times More Senate Democrats yesterday disputed Majority Leader Tom Daschle's contention that the Bush administration's income-tax cut, which 12 Senate Democrats approved, had worsened the recession

Bush keeps up drumbeat to pass stimulus package -- The Washington Times President Bush yesterday suggested that Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle never had any intention of passing an economic-stimulus package but that he does want to raise taxes, which would only deepen the recession.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Davis to Ask for Broader Wiretaps SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gray Davis is calling for expanded authority to wiretap Californians' phones and e-mail in the name of protecting against terrorism.

As outlined Monday by his top security advisor, former FBI agent George Vinson, the legislation Davis seeks is similar to the Patriot Act signed into law by President Bush in October. The governor's aides said New York has adopted a similar statute, and proposals are pending in Arizona and Washington state.

Crash Reveals Small Planes as Giant Security Headache WASHINGTON -- The case of an apparently suicidal teenager who crashed a plane into a Tampa, Fla., high-rise presents federal officials with a dilemma: how to bolster the security of private aviation without suffocating its long tradition of free flight.

U.S. Keeps Pressure on Al Qaeda WASHINGTON -- Surviving leaders of the Al Qaeda terrorist network are repeatedly trying to regroup at a warren of caves and bunkers in eastern Afghanistan, despite three attacks on the complex in four days by U.S. warplanes, senior Pentagon officials said Monday.

Watchful, but Still Shrouded KABUL, Afghanistan -- Beneath the sky-blue burka obscuring her budding womanhood, 16-year-old Parwana Yusufi sorts through her hopes and worries.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

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

What’s hot: Homeland security, or lack thereof. Blog Watch *** Rant: Jeff Jarvis **** Blog Watch Tech tour de force: Steven Den Beste

Joanne Jacobs: Daddy, not Osama; phonetics will make a difference; Special Forces salute; Happy Anniversary--one year of!

Joshua Micah Marshall Forget plagiarism, check Lindsey's academic credentials; Ein/Ambrose axis?

Charles Johnson. Email my stuff; Arab sewage nominated for award; deficient areas in homeland security; Seconding what Den Beste said about Said; Honor from Bennihana chef, er, Lileks; snitch missing, what a tale he told.

Jeff Jarvis No clearance, no fly; *** Storm the ramparts, fight do-nothing Ridge with buzz; Naked Airlines founder resigns to head Former Pacifists Club.

Libertarian Samizdata Johnny Student irritates hypocritical student legislators; shoot down teen plane; Perry's path differentiated from Dale's, but similar quantity of spirits.

Steven Den Beste ****Apple's stuck; Saddam charges piracy, it won't work; another Arab editorial outrage; ****LCDiMac flops; Den Beste no Nostradamus; make a bee line for Carnival Cruises.

Dawson Will actress Nelofer Pazira supplant esteemed novelist Claire Berlinski? [hope not--ed.]

Kathy Kinsley "Short Stuff"--new feature? write a soldier; soapbox message: protect ourselves.

Justin Slotman Summers, be a shmoochie; big bloggerverse; comics and Christian rock; CFL rocks, girls wreck.

Kevin Holtsberry Ambrose's slide explains plagiarism; Steeler preview; over the top libertarian BS.

Andrew Olmsted With all due respect, Ms. Murphy; real soldier reports from broken down tank; Jacob Weisberg should at least ride in one.

I will arise and go now, and go to Blog Watch I (it's free).

On the "Politics of Policy"...
Tony Adragna
... we do agree - politician doesn't open his mouth but to make a point about why he's right and should be elected. Hell, even McCain's anti-pork straight-talkin' bit is shtick (it's just not "spin"). I'm not so much of a naif as to dismiss the timing of Tommy D's speech - it wasn't part of legislative debate, so it has no bearing on whether or which plan gets passed. Gotta have somethin' to draw in the crowd, because the show starts soon.

Seein' as there ain't a whole lota altruism out there, the trick is figuring out whose gimmick might actually work.

As far as the Big Boys in The Refuge - they're playing in the deep end of the pool, and mother said I can't play with them anymore... I've sat through alot at the bar, but that economics lecture was a first for me...

Monday, January 07, 2002
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the By-Line
Will Vehrs
Tony, I've gotten used to you not paying attention to me ....

Besides, I know you're not just taking fire from your homeboy, Bill Quick, you're also getting shelled in The Refuge. There's some especially good stuff in there, including posts from three "old reliables" who haven't been around as often as I'd like--Will Allen (Anonymous), Publius, and Joseph Britt. Will and Publius are tough on you, but I think you can do something with Joe's comment.

I hope you know that I am much more comfortable analyzing and talking about the politics of policy positions, rather than the intricacies of the policies themselves. I lean gently to the right, but I try to understand what both parties and individual politicians are doing. All I'll say about Senator Daschle is that this past weekend, for the first time, he was ridiculed. Conservative commentators who had previously been deferential to him, always praising his tone and acumen while grimly acknowledging his partisan talents, were mocking his economics. Liberal commentators weren't embracing him--they were making different and better arguments for him that he was making for himself. Right or wrong on the merits, the President ate his lunch this week with appearances before cheering crowds using simple language, garbled as only this "authentic" President can. There is a power of the presidency that Bush is only now beginning to master, a power Clinton learned to use so devastatingly well to keep his opponents off-balance and out of the limelight. The good news for you, Tony, if you accept my thesis, is that (name your timeframe) is a lifetime in politics. Fortunes can reverse in the blink of an eye and your man Daschle could be the toast of Washington again.

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Andrew Hofer: Baloney on PETA bread; do I look OK?; "the treatment of disease" according to a belief that treatment is pointless

Damian Penny: Invade us- Please!; Spaek Up!; "Hammerin" the Middle East; Justin wouldn't cry; Martha's mad, and she's armed with Sidewinders; turf fight

Dr. Frank: Been Tempted to leave this Island; directions to the Crack of Doom - turn Right at the Bush

Moira Breen: Moira's in a snit; a cat chasing it's own tail

Tim Blair: Australians have opinions?; Rain, rain, go awa... ooops, sorry, wrong rhymme; drink a case of XXXX, then say the word "Paki"

Duncan Fitzgerald: It's all spin - get over it!; Safire steals his colums from a little voice in his head; DoD "MD" Program - it's a war cime, I tell ya

Alex Knapp: Atheists Abound in the Blogosphere - than God I'm not alone!

protein wisdom: Constipated Catholics - whata waste!; Showing Simpering Simps Sympathy; Naughty Nordlinger Hazing Helen; Pageant of Peace; Is it unethical to beat the members of a Flea-Circus?

Daniel Taylor Leggett's legacy - the lady ain't got no ptivileges

Click here: for more "Blog Watch"ing

It's Damoclese' Sword
Tony Adragna
It's definitely a screwed up dilemma, Will - as I've said before, there's no "feeling secure", you either are or you aren't. How far do we want to go?

You're too right about the implications of taking action where there is merely a potential rather than actual threat. Looking at the situation dispasionately, I would say - "Sure, shoot it down - if you're wrong at least you're safe." I'm torn, because I want to be safe, but I also don't want to live in a place where we shoot first and ask later.

Think about what Kerry went through - operating in a zone where anybody could be the enemy, doing what he thought he needed to do to stay alive, and having his actions second guessed 30 years later.

I don't have an answer, other than that I'm not letting the threat impact the way that I live... I just keep keepin' on...

On Target - Fire For Effect!
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, I know I haven't been paying attention to you today, so this will be my last round in the Transcontinent Blogonomic War.

Bill responds to my "confidence" argument thusly:

"...Daschle's mau-mauing of Bush, if successful, may actually make the downturn deeper by worsening consumer confidence and spending . Of course, from the political point of view of a Democratic party functionary fighting for control of congress ten months hence, that might not be a bad outcome at all."

It seems to me that this was exactly the point that Democrats made when Mr. Bush was "mau-mauing" the economy - talking up the recession as proof of the need for a tax cut. In fact, whether a downturn was on the horizon or not (I believe it was, as a normal function of the business cycle - but then that begs question of the need for a tax cut), it certainly wasn't on the "national stage" until Mr. Bush used it to sell his tax policy agenda (which, by the way, was originally about "giving back what's rightly your's" - not "stimulating the economy").

So, while I don't believe it to be a true statement that "Mr. Bush caused the economy", Bill's argument could be just as reasonably be used in support of that proposition.

Let's Look at an Alternative Scenario
Will Vehrs
Tony, I've been listening to network stories on the Tampa Teen Terrorist. It appears that private aviation has serious security problems, although this is the first incident I've heard about that could be related to terrorist activity at a private air field.

Everyone is riled up about what happened, but let's look at what could have happened.

Let's say that everything happened as it really did, up until the plane crossed McGill AFB air space (it's troubling that this happened without any apparent action taken--an Air Force base, for God's sake!). A jet or plane is scrambled to intercept the plane. The teen pilot does not respond and is shot down. The teen's plane goes down--it could cause some damage, even kill someone on the ground, or it could hit without causing damage, doesn't matter. But let's say the suicide note is lost or burned, or that there isn't one at all.

What's the reaction? Are we proud of the military for shooting down a kid on an apparent joy ride? If we don't know that the teen is a Bin Laden admirer, does this incident become a cause celebre, an example of homeland defense gone terribly wrong? Are we willing to endure the grieving mother on Larry King Live, the aviation instructor who can cover his ass by saying the kid was a great student who misunderstood his instructions, the teacher who said how bright and tolerant the kid was and what a great future he had?

I only raise this alternative scenario because I've read at least one blogger who suggested that the teen's plane be shot down. That's fine, if we're willing to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy in every aspect of security, willing to shrug our shoulders when a plane gets shot down, willing to support a commercial pilot's right to kick anyone off a plane who doesn't have his paperwork right, willing to support shooting to kill anyone who bypasses security and refuses to stop, etc., etc. I'm not sure we're willing to do that, and I'm not sure that we will ever have the judgment to always recognize the difference between an individual who is real threat and someone who is much less.

Was he or wasn't he?
Tony Adragna
According to the Tampa Tribune, Charlie Bishop was possibly Arab - family changed it's name from Bishara.

I would still make the distinction, though...

Quick to the punch
Tony Adragna
Bill takes up my challenge for a "fair debate". You Go, Bill!

In his response, Bill argues:

"Never before in economic history have tax cuts or other Keynesian stimulus methods 'made a recession worse.' They are, in fact, the prescription for making downturns better. Arguments for fiscal discipline in times of recession, even from Senator Daschle, are pushing an economic worldview last espoused by a Republican President: Herbert Hoover. That didn't turn out so well, either."

That's an accurate statement, but doesn't address the issue at the foundation - confidence. Neither Tommy D' nor myself argues that the tax cut per se deepened the recession, but the lack of confidence in this administration's fiscal policy, especially as regards the return to deficit spending, definitely could have had some impact. This argument is pointed up by what actually happened in the instance that Bill cites - the Depression wasn't the effect of a single event, but a chain reaction flowing from lack of confidence in the government's ability to deal with the problem. If Hoover had done something - anything - instead of nothing, the the Depression may well have been avoided.

Sure, "deficit spending" is one of the tools that a government ought have the ability to use in fighting downturns - nobody argues to the contrary. Daschle's complaint over handling of the downturn is that the GOP "made a huge tax cut their number one priority -- ahead of everything else -- and discarded the framework of fiscal responsibility"(italics mine). IOW, there is an argument that the GOP made our long-term situation less secure with their use of fiscal policy in trying to fix a short term problem, and this insecurity might have had an adverse impact on the recovery.

More to the point, the projected deficits are less a of function of spending than they are of a failure to collect enough revenue to cover all of the things that the government - yes, even under Mr. Bush's plan - wants to do (some of us argue that sans the recession Mr. Bush's numbers still never got there). That might seem an inane distinction, but the point is that spending is the cure to downturns, not tax cuts.