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Saturday, February 02, 2002
BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Dean knows a cover-up when he sees it; Brian offers an Off the Kuff argument to The Prof

Andrew Hofer: Cats up on the table; Clubbin' with The Cos; The Grey Lady needs a makeover - she's getting kinda ugly

Damian Penny: Evoking Enzo; If Winnie were alive today; The Car Theft Capital of North America; Send OBL a Valentine - 'tis for a good cause; Canada isn't part of the U.S.! (we're still working on it, D' - Tony)

Dr. Frank: Plagiarism Watch: WEF protestor lifted SecState's words...

Moira Breen: Martin Thomas remembers the Alamo - sorta

Tim Blair: A stubby Enny; gutless journo gets paid for no work - thinks Chinese deserve the same; taunting to death didn't work, so man resorted to good ol' fashioned throttling

Duncan Fitzgerald: Dick hiding behind a Bush; The Wolf who cried "evil"

Alex Knapp: Anti-Science scientists; I wanna know why, too

protein wisdom: Corny writing; Some of us were just napping, but some were never awake; Camp X-Rayted; The Penis Poem

Daniel Taylor Scandal filled Groundhog Day

Ginger Stampley: Assessing Alejandro; sorry Salon stories
"Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes a writer known as Blahga. This bold renegade carves a B with his blade, a B that stands for Blahga. Blahga, the fox so cunning and free. Blahga, who makes the sign of the B."

Cheney to the Government Auditors:...
Tony Adragna
...These dealings are "off the books".

That's how John Dean characterizes the response. I'm not a fan of John Dean, but that doesn't matter - he's on target. I've said that I believe the GAO is gonna win this one, now what?

Will, I think this is more than a "Big-Time" legal dispute. There's real potential here for Big-Time political fallout over the handling of this issue by both parties to the dispute. If there's nothing there, then the White House looks foolish for being obstinant, but the Dems+Burton look even stupider. If, however, there's something funny 'bout the info, then the White House takes a double hit -- for doing something funny and trying to cover tracks -- that's gotta hurt the GOP in the coming elections.

Much has been said about Mr. Bush's popularity. But, there's also been alot said about this president's lack of "coattails." I'm still confident that my side of our signature debate is gonna rule the day.

Before I go, I gotta thank Matt Welch for "facilitating the debate" the other day. I still haven't read everything at that link Jesse sent (there's even more in the archive), but I did just read Kristoff's "A Merciful War". Whether or not I'm correct about Somalia (and I did leave myself room to be wrong there), Kristoff lends weight to my argument with respect to our Afghan intervention:
Over the last couple of months I've tried to tabulate the Afghan death toll. My best guess is that we killed 8,000 to 12,000 Taliban fighters, along with about 1,000 Afghan civilians.

So what is the lesson of this? Is it that while pretending to take the high road, we have actually slaughtered more people than Osama bin Laden has? Or that military responses are unjustifiable because huge numbers of innocents inevitably are killed?

No, it's just the opposite.

Our experience there demonstrates that troops can advance humanitarian goals just as much as doctors or aid workers can. By my calculations, our invasion of Afghanistan may end up saving one million lives over the next decade.(emphasis added)
In this instance I will agree with those who claim that U.S. intentions weren't humanitarian -- this is about smacking down some pretty nasty people -- but you can't deny that the war has advanced humanitarian goals in Afghanistan (keeping in mind Matt's coda).

[Update 10:21 PM: Joan Jacobs gives up more numbers in support of intervention.]

p.s.: Michael Weiss fan I'm not - I like Evgeny Plushenko. I always scream at the ice skating judges, especially that damnable Bulgarian who never gives anybody a decent score. I won't watch the SB tomorrow - finally gonna go see LOTR...

Sports Round-up
Will Vehrs
Yes, Tony, the Winter Olympics are almost here and I'm totally underwhelmed. I don't know much about thrusting skater pelvises, nor do I care to learn. I just think that figure skating is less an event than a hype challenge. A clear favorite is established and unless he or she (or the pair) falls, the winner is known ahead of time. The battle is for second or third. Sporting events with subjective judging--skating, boxing, gymnastics--strike me as inherently unfair. At least in boxing, the decision can be taken out of the hands of the judges with a knockout, or, in the case of Mike Tyson, with a bite.

Just as an aside, I was Michael Weiss's neighbor for five years--saw him every day driving or being driven to practice. He is an Olympic figure skater and this is probably his last chance to realize the great potential he showed a few years ago. The difference between being best in the world and "just" an Olympian is very narrow. Michael's father was on the 1960 Olympic team as a gymnast and his mother and sisters are talented athletes, too. Their whole life was sports.

I haven't forgotten that tomorrow is the Super Bowl. Conventional wisdom says it will be a Rams blowout--the Patriots are a team that "lucked" into the big game with two surprising wins. I say take the Patriots and the points. The Rams, if they aren't operating on all cylinders from the get-go, are actually rather ordinary. The Patriots showed a lot of character in withstanding that furious Steeler comeback in the second half. I think they'll surprise the Rams by staying close. Of course, I'm America's Worst Pigskin Prognosticator.

Is this Sexism?
Tony Adragna
Winter Olympics are nearly upon us, Will! Here's an ort from today's The Sun Newspaper Online:
Nick Russell, director of the National Ice Skating Association, said: “As couples try to be more entertaining, they produce moves that are gynaecological, which is about as politely as it can be put.”

Nancy Meiss, a US judge, said: “If I want a young man waving his partner’s assets in my face, I can rent a porn movie.”
What I can't figure out is whether the rule will apply to male skaters showing off their own assets. I don't have an interest in the female skaters...

I can understand the concern, though - our household nickname for the skating events has always been "The Ice Nasties".... Doesn't stop me from watching...

JulieC Makes QP History
Will Vehrs
Quasipundit regular JulieC won the Ipse Dixit caption contest this week, becoming the first two-time winner from The Refuge. Congrats, Julie!

It will be high drama next week--will Julie make it two in a row and three altogether? Will "Rags" return to the contest? Will perennial also-ran Will Vehrs even enter?

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

Front Page Image

A Presidency Defined in One Speech ( Seventh in a series
Tuesday, September 18

President Bush and Vice President Cheney marked the seventh day since the terrorist attacks with a moment of silence on the White House lawn, then met with the National Security Council. After the president began the meeting, CIA Director George J. Tenet told the group that the agency was sending an eight-man team to Afghanistan to work with the Northern Alliance. "We are launching our plan," he said.

Bush: U.S. Won't Cut Off Arafat ( President Bush assured Jordan's King Abdullah II yesterday that the administration does not plan to sever contacts with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but told him the United States will not renew direct efforts to broker Mideast peace until Arafat takes concrete steps against terrorism, sources familiar with the talks said.

Justice: Preserve Enron Papers ( The Justice Department instructed the Bush administration last night to preserve any documents related to Enron Corp., saying they may prove valuable in investigations of the bankrupt energy company and statements its executives made about the firm's financial condition.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Bush Sees Big Rise in Military Budget for Next 5 Years WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 — In a military buildup rivaling that of the Reagan era, the Bush administration will call for increasing the Pentagon's yearly budget by $120 billion over the next five years, to $451 billion in 2007, according to Defense Department documents.

2 Top Officials Offer Stern Talk on U.S. Policy The two highest-ranking members of President Bush's cabinet, both attending the World Economic Forum at the Waldorf-Astoria, declared yesterday that United States was committed to defining its own solutions to some of the toughest international problems, even if that angers some allies.

Reservists Balk at Occupation, Roiling Israel JERUSALEM, Feb. 1 — More than 100 Israeli Army reservists signed a statement published today saying they would refuse to continue serving in the West Bank and Gaza Strip because Israel's policies there involved "dominating, expelling, starving and humiliating an entire people."

White House Told to Save Enron Records WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 — The Justice Department directed the White House staff tonight to preserve records of contacts between government officials and Enron (news/quote) executives over the last three years, a sign that federal prosecutors have significantly broadened their criminal investigation to include the company's political dealings in Washington.

Son and Sister of Enron Chief Secured Deals HOUSTON, Feb. 1 — The sister and a son of Kenneth L. Lay, the former chairman and chief executive of the Enron Corporation (news/quote), benefited from extensive business dealings with Enron, according to public records and interviews with family members and people close to the Lays.

Washington Times:

U.S. promises battle on poverty -- The Washington Times NEW YORK — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told world business and political leaders yesterday that the United States would fight terrorism not only with guns, but also by battling poverty and repression.

Jordan's king backs U.S. in war -- The Washington Times President Bush won backing in the battle against terrorism yesterday from a key leader in the Arab world, Jordan's King Abdullah II, who embraced the president's stark depiction of a world divided between good and evil.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Enron Probe Reaches Into White House WASHINGTON -- The government's criminal probe into Enron Corp.'s collapse reached into the White House on Friday, as the Justice Department asked the president's staff to preserve all Enron-related documents, including e-mails and records that might show staff contacts with company representatives.

Arrests on Border Fall After 9/11 WASHINGTON -- Arrests of undocumented immigrants on the U.S. border from Southern California to the tip of Texas have fallen sharply since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in some areas dropping more than 50% as officials report remarkably fewer people trying to slip into the United States.

Indonesian Cleric Had Role in Skyjackings, Officials Say KUALA LUMPUR, Malay -- A Cal State graduate from Malaysia has led authorities here to conclude that a Muslim cleric from Indonesia ran terror operations for Al Qaeda in Southeast Asia and played a role in the Sept. 11 skyjackings.

A Field of Glory and Pain Bill Stanfill, who played defensive end, can't turn his head more than a few inches because of fused vertebrae in his neck. When he puts his car in reverse, he says, "I ease back until I bump into something."

Go to The Newspaper Rack

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

Joanne Jacobs: Great ideas for Valentine's Day; Enron parody; "strut challenged"; voodoo Internet connections.

Joshua Micah Marshall: Comdisco; it's official: a political scandal;Dems get administration help in portraying Cheney as ominous goon; exception granted, reader gets extended quote.

Charles Johnson. Den Beste on Europe, Simberg on space; kinky prisoners: what would Allah say; does Rummy know more than he's revealing?; Saudi connection to Karine A; incompetence beyond a reasonable doubt; double dose of Egyptian hate.

Jeff Jarvis old Lefty dander up; help from Canada; "the Pile becomes the Pit."

Libertarian Samizdata Swen Swemson on polygamy; more guest trekkies; is Bono just the first wave; add Governmentium to the periodic table.

Steven Den Beste Feedback sharpens American exceptionalism argument; does NATO matter? Does anyone care?

Dawson Elvis heals the sick.

Kathy Kinsley I won't argue abortion; fading words, middle finger.

Fritz Schranck Kentucky justice; domestic abuse cases are challenging; how about some golf?

Kevin Holtsberry Futility of moderate gun positions; Gephardt satire; first the Steelers go down, now the Indians are dismantling; take the Next Right; Ohio pension system big on Enron; Ohio GOP holds $$ edge; for the children? Ha!

SGT Stryker losing my mind; Kevlar on the floor; classic military budget debate; Bush not walking the walk; special air drop.

Andrew Olmsted I'm with Krauthammer, not Phillips; Bush rules don't go far enough.

Quoth the Raven, "Blog Watch I."

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: Sitting on the stone wall

Andrew Hofer: Theoretical game - putting X in the box

Damian Penny: OBL: "Oh, yeah - I did that!"; still blaming old Cecil; Newfies need a new accountant - do we know anybody looking for work?

Dr. Frank: Ritual self flagellation - an amussing diversion; kill the goat, have sex with the man, kill the goat, have sex with the man..... a jeez, I lost my train of thougnt, how's that go again? kill the man, have sex with the goat....

Moira Breen: EU wants to solve the Palestinian problem - yeah right!

Tim Blair: Tim must be away oppressing somebody

Duncan Fitzgerald: BAM!; You ever wonder who's in charge when the Prez is away?

Alex Knapp: A few [million] ideas for E.J.; MLK Jr. prevented a civil war; shedding the fat and telling us where it came from

protein wisdom: I'll never get into space; getting in on the Game; If we give her a muzzle, would that be like promoting that she wear it?

Ginger Stampley: We don't want any ferile felines in our Salon;
Eternal Blogger, store and save,
Whose fingers pound and rant and rave,
Who bidd'st the mighty pundits deep
Their own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry "Down Dogs",
For those in peril on the blogs!

Friday, February 01, 2002
There Goes Japan...
Tony Adragna
I hope the "Americans are cheapskates" bastards are listening, Will! One nastly little scrap of data that they constantly try to make us choke on is the statistic that shows the Japanese government spending more in foreign aid -- in total dollars and as a percent of GDP -- than the U.S. In fact, it's been noted that Japan spends three times as much per capita than we do.

My response has always been that we got trouble right here in River City - you can't feed and clothe the world while your own citizens are hurting. Guess who finally learned that lesson? You got it, brother - the Japanese are discovering they can't do it anymore. Well, maybe the Japanese government could, under either of two conditions: (a) ignore the vox populi, or (b) stop the multibillion dollar bail-out of banks that keep throwing good yen after bad. There's a political angle for you to sink your teeth into, Will: watcha think Koizumi's prospects are?

I'm not done yet! Let's go a little deeper into who actually spends more in developing countries. I'm not just talking government dollars ("official aid"), but private capitol flow, too. Take a look at page two of this document. Those figures are from '96: Japan spent US$62MM more than we did in "official aid", but U.S. "private capitol flow" into developing countries was US$15 billion more than what came outta Japan. Oh, but those are investments - right they are: investments in trying to build those countries out of poverty. Remember the old proverb, friends - give a man a fish....

I'm still trying to pin down a comparison of private charity - I may hafta just mine the World Bank, IMF, UN, or some other source for the data from country profiles -- if it exists -- but I'm quite sure that Americans compare favourably on that account, too.

Update: Excerpted from an article in the Feb 4 issue of Newsweek titled "Charities That Hate to Just ‘Give’":
And while the U.S. government is often criticized for stingy foreign aid (well under 1 percent of GNP each year), the same can’t be said of private donors, who now give away 2.1 percent of U.S. GNP each year. “No nation comes even remotely close to the U.S. on these things,” says Scott Walker of the Philanthropy Roundtable. “If you’re in Sweden or France, it’s something the government is supposed to do. If you were in England, it is the nobility. Americans don’t think it’s enough to say, ‘I gave at the office with taxes’.”(empasis added - Tony)
I'm still looking for some tables that list the data - I'm sure they exist somewhere.

Krugman gets paid for that?
Tony Adragna
Ya know, Will, I coulda wrote Krugman's clumn today... well, maybe I couldn't, but Krugman isn't saying anything Novak, or Will, or Dionne haven't already said. Heck, even I got the jump on Krugman with regard to several of the issues he raises. Just goes to show that it doesn't take a high priced air sampler to figure out that the baby mesed its pants. Maybe if Krugman hadn't been busy 'splainin...

This'll be my final word on the Sullivan contretemps - WSJ made a point of not getting into the details of copyright laws: could it be because they screwed themselves? It's an issue that I know a little something about, having been involed with putting together a plan to protect IP that was flowing out of an office where I worked. Problem was the writers were assumming that they had no rights to the work they were submitting for various journals, and they were paying for reproductions. We asked to look at some of the contracts, and lo and behold, in most cases the contract specified either joint rights, or assigned no exclusive rights to either party (in which case the author retains the copyright). OK, Andrew shoulda gave a shout outta courtesy, but if the WSJ is gonna raise the spectre of a federal case only to say, "Mr. Sullivan's behavior may not have been 'unethical' but it wasn't very nice", then what was the point of the copyright law reference.

This "Punditgate" nonsense is getting out of hand, in most part due to Andrew's agitation. At least Woodward has given me something substantial to read this week...

Bomb Threat? Blame the Muslim
Will Vehrs
There was interesting "post 9/11" case decided in the Richmond, VA suburbs yesterday. A Muslim man was acquitted of making a false bomb threat on October 8th at his employer, the huge Capital One office just outside Richmond in Henrico County.

The man's behavior that led to the building being evacuated was odd--he came to work carrying a gray plastic box none of his co-workers had seen before (it turned out to contain a small tv, walkie-talkie, and a martial arts training device); when asked about it, he told co-workers it was "none of their business"; and he made unusual comments during the day, including saying that the walkie-talkie on his belt (mate to the one in the case) had a five mile range and could "blow something up."

John Edwin Blakely, 29, maintained after his Oct. 8 arrest that none of his statements or actions that a co-worker and managers at Capital One perceived as threatening was meant that way.

Bond was set at $250,000 and Blakely spent about 2½ months in jail trying unsuccessfully to get it reduced before his parents paid a bondsman $25,000 to make his bail, Blakely said. Blakely said he was fired by Capital One in November.

At work, in a Capital One department in Innsbrook that makes sales by telephone, Blakely made himself known as Yahya, which he said is "John" in Arabic.

The judge in the case said it did not go beyond reasonable doubt, but that she understood why Capital One took serious action. That's an understatement. While the pre-trial detention seems harsh, this event occurred less than one month after 9-11 when every threat was considered plausible. At the very least, "Yahya" was guilty of being an inconsiderate doofus toward his co-workers and his company.

Not in the article, but noted on the local TV news, "Yahya" is going to file a suit claiming he was singled out because he was a Muslim.

Dear Editor
Will Vehrs
Tony, the letters to the editor selection process is so subjective that it's hard to discern any rhyme or reason for printing any specific letter, except when some bigshot replies to "correct the record.' What the editors of the Times-Dispatch say they look for (and they print more letters than almost any other paper in the country) is passion and quality writing. They also say they like humor. I don't see these letters as standouts in any of those three categories, so maybe the WP has different criteria--or maybe, with a deadline staring them down, they just grabbed something to fill space.

I'm with you on letter #1--way too serious; on #2, it's been done. There's been an ad featuring NFL players doing ballet. The wooden box in toe shoes is peanuts compared to the "super shoe" the beloved Mark Moseley used for his Redskin kicks.

Some people got no sense of humor...
Tony Adragna
... and others are just too funny.

Hey Will! I know that you've written a few letters to the editor, so maybe you can 'splain to me what's going on here. Two letters caught my eye on the train this morning.

The first letter takes issue with Mike Kinley's "Reading The Right" (Jan 18):
Perhaps Mr. Kinsley needs reminding that these same bestseller lists have given us such intellectual powerhouses as "Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook," "Dieting With the Duchess" by Sarah Ferguson, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" and James Herriot's "Favorite Dog Stories" -- all good books I am sure, but hardly the stuff that makes a liberal intellectual quiver.
Now, I'll admit that Mike isn't the funniest guy in town, but I think some readers are just a might bit too serious.

The second letter is in response to an earlier letter suggesting that Redskins be renamed after Dan Snyder - Danskins. Well, here's the punchline from the responant:
Because Danskin is a leading manufacturer of dance apparel, perhaps in exchange for some corporate funding for our football team, the renamed team might consider a new style uniform -- leotard, tights, tutu for the defensive players and toe shoes for the place kickers.
The hard wooden box at the end of toe shoes might provide a special advantage there.
If the train wasn't packed I woulda been rollin in the aisle...

WSJ on Punditgate; More on Krugman
Will Vehrs
Tony, the Wall Street Journal has weighed in on the "Punditgate" scandal and their verdicts are a mixed bag.

Roger Scruton, a British writer, was criticized for writing in the WSJ about tobacco issues without disclosing he was being paid by a Japanese tobacco firm:

Our own view is that the financing of the advocate matters far less than the quality of the advocacy. But our long-time standard is also that such financial ties should be disclosed, so readers can make up their own minds. Mr. Scruton had an obligation to tell us and his readers about his tobacco financing when he was writing about tobacco issues; he didn't, and so he will be taking a holiday from our pages.

So Scruton gets busted ... next, they tackled Peggy Noonan, by way of the Andrew Sullivan criticism:

... the Internet ethicist, Andrew Sullivan, has been denouncing any journalist who's ever taken a dollar from Enron. This includes our contributor Peggy Noonan, who disclosed last week in her column that she billed Enron $250 an hour for 100 to 200 hours of speech-writing work. In other words, she got paid like any other contract employee, which is called business between consenting adults. The first time she wrote about Enron for us was also when she disclosed her Enron fees, so she has nothing to apologize for.

So Peggy's okay, but then they take aim at Sullivan:

...Mr. Sullivan, [who} recently wrote a fine piece for The Wall Street Journal on the failure of Talk magazine but then without asking re-sold the article to the Times of London, which didn't bother to give us credit. Mr. Sullivan's explanation is that he didn't think we had international publication rights, although The Wall Street Journal Europe is distributed in London. Leaving aside the fine points of copyright law, Mr. Sullivan's behavior may not have been "unethical" but it wasn't very nice.

I don't know if Sully is busted or not, but I bet there'll be fine print in the contract the next time he writes a column. Finally, they get to the big enchilada, Paul Krugman, by way of more philosophy and a well-aimed jab:

Which brings us to a larger point this page has often made about conflicts of interest and honesty. Avoiding the first is not the same as the latter; sometimes persnickety rules can become a license for larger dishonesty. So, for example, the U.S. Senate poses as a more honest place because it passes a ban on accepting gifts. But then New Jersey Senator Bob Torricelli is able to evade the ban by claiming that the Italian suits he received from a campaign contributor were from a "friend," a legal loophole.

The same applies to intellectual honesty in journalism. At least Mr. Scruton, whatever his disclosure oversight, took money from people he agrees with. But New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has recently given himself a free ethical pass because he says he disclosed his former Enron ties once he became a columnist.

Mr. Krugman wrote a puff piece on the company for Fortune magazine while he was getting $50,000 as an Enron adviser, but he now denounces politicians and anyone else close to Enron for "crony capitalism." We'll let our readers judge the ethics of that.

I largely agree with the WSJ's positions here although I think their dig at Sullivan is not in the same league as Scruton and Krugman.

Speaking of Krugman, he has a column today that, read in a vacuum, sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, his previous diatribes against Enron and "crony capitalism" make him appear to be only against "Bush crony capitalism." Example:

But as we watch top executives walk away rich while the companies they ran collapse (there are cases worse than Enron; the founder of Global Crossing has apparently walked away from bankruptcy with $750 million), it's clear that we should also think about the incentives of the managers themselves. Ask not what a high stock price can do for your company; ask what it can do for your personal bottom line.

If there are worse cases than Enron, Mr. Krugman, how come you don't rail against them with the same vigor?

News Break:check you local all-news cable channel
Newschannel 8 - Envelopes Found Addressed to Fund for Afghan Children Washington (AP)-- The US Postal Inspection Service is investigating the finding in Southeast Washington of about 50 envelopes addressed to America's Fund for Afghan Children.

Newschannel 8 - More Cities Restored to National Airport Flight Schedule Arlington, Va. (AP)-- Another milestone for Reagan National Airport.

Beginning today, airlines can begin serving an additional ten cities.

It's part of the gradual restoration of service at Reagan National since it was shut down for three weeks following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

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

Front Page Image

Bush Seeks New Rules On Pensions ( President Bush will propose today giving workers greater freedom to diversify their company retirement accounts, part of a package of pension safeguards that represent the administration's first concrete response to issues raised by Enron Corp.'s collapse.

Intricate Screening Of Fliers In Works ( Federal aviation authorities and technology companies will soon begin testing a vast air security screening system designed to instantly pull together every passenger's travel history and living arrangements, plus a wealth of other personal and demographic information.

Combating Terrorism: 'It Starts Today' ( At 9:35 a.m., President Bush and his war cabinet reconvened at the White House. Some of those gathered around the conference table in the Cabinet Room did not know what to expect – perhaps more review and discussion, even more questions or analysis.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Bush to Propose More Flexibility on 401(k) Plans WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 — President Bush plans to propose giving workers more flexibility to sell their company's stock in their 401(k) retirement plans. The proposal is part of a package of legislative changes he will present on Friday in his first major response to the collapse of the Enron Corporation (news/quote), administration officials said today.

Audit Firms Are Set to Alter Some Practices Four of the five biggest accounting firms said yesterday that they would reject the industry practices that have prompted extensive criticism of Arthur Andersen, which audited financial statements of the Enron Corporation (news/quote).

Sharon Is Sorry Israel Didn't Kill Arafat in the 80's JERUSALEM, Jan. 31 — The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, said in an interview published today that Israel should have killed Yasir Arafat when it had the chance in Lebanon 20 years ago.

Grandma Helps to Fill the Void Left by Sept. 11 Geneva Dunbar's days are a blur of snowsuits, snacks and subtraction problems. From early morning, when she readies three children for school, to nightfall, when she tucks them into bed, she is like any bone- weary, two-hands-aren't-enough mother.

Warlord Fends Off Warlord, Echoing Afghans' Bitter Past GARDEZ, Afghanistan, Jan. 31 — Afghanistan's first major battle of the post-Taliban era ended tonight when the soldiers of the warlord besieging this strategic city south of Kabul ran out of ammunition and fled the battlefront in clouds of dust, cursing the warlord to his face for his callousness in committing them to a fight they were doomed to lose.

Washington Times:

'More deadly' attacks seen -- The Washington Times Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced yesterday an eight-point doctrine for fighting terrorism while warning that the United States faces potential terrorist attacks that are "vastly more deadly" than the September 11 strikes.

North Korea assails 'Axis' label -- The Washington Times North Korea today said President Bush's effort to include it in a global "Axis of evil" constituted a virtual declaration of war and said it would resist any aggressive U.S. military move.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Bush Not Budging on Terror Warning ATLANTA -- Facing criticism over his warning that an "axis of evil" threatens world peace, President Bush said Thursday that nations other than the United States could be targets of mass terror. And he put terrorist nations on notice, saying, "They better get their house in order."

U.S. and Philippines Launch Joint Hunt for Islamic Gang MANILA -- It's called "Balikatan," or "Shoulder to Shoulder," and it will soon be the biggest U.S. military operation in a combat zone outside Afghanistan since the war on terror began.

Terrorists Noted Flaws in Security, Report Says WASHINGTON -- A confidential intelligence report issued Thursday indicates that Osama bin Laden's operatives displayed a keen interest in exploiting vulnerabilities in security at sensitive U.S. facilities, and FBI Director Robert Mueller said he believes that Al Qaeda-trained agents are still at large in the United States.

Closing Books on Dot-Coms Like a modern-day Dickens, Stephan Paternot witnessed the best and worst of times.

A year after graduating from Cornell in 1996, the co-founder of Web site was worth nearly $100 million. His company's stock set a Wall Street record when it jumped 606% in its first day of public trading. At 24, he became emblematic of the cocky boy geniuses using the World Wide Web to change the rules of business, media and life itself.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
AM Edition - by Will Vehrs
What’s hot: Tickets to Gitmo. ***Pick: Steven Den Beste, The End of Pop-Up Ads Is Near

Joanne Jacobs: Joanne joins Glenn with column at TechCentralStation; follow the school money.

Joshua Micah Marshall Answering critics on Jeb and Alliance Capital.

Charles Johnson. 17 self-serving hypocrites; San Fran fiasco; Taliban, al Qaida want tickets to Gitmo; I lost--congrats to fark; six LA blocks; Sharon's quote.

Jeff Jarvis Karzai's symbolic sartorial splendor; "war" stories; debunked stories prove truth is no fun; why North Korea?; common cause with Welch.

Libertarian Samizdata Bury Janet's Heart at Wounded Waco; managed trade, evil Jospin the master; "white nigger girl"; background on polygamy; Satan's orders; Star Belch, Star Trek, discussions continue; check Brit dramas for negative portrayals.

Steven Den Beste American in Europe's image; siminaing around with monkey eggs; prisoners beg for sentence to Gitmo; ***WEB FOUNDATION SHAKER.

Dawson Sick, even after bourbon marinated salmon [get well soon!--ed]; Balkanized blog feature begun.

Kathy Kinsley Matt's reader picks on Tony Adragna; Freedom Corps; Cheers to Claire Berlinski ("F" word tells it like it is); guns at Mount Holyoke; Pilger's figure found.

Kevin Holtsberry Don't faint, but I liked Salon's take on Pundits for Pay; car phones here to stay; Moose has screw loose.

Fritz Schranck Virginia open container law fails, Feds pounce; Fritz's short beer run.

Andrew Olmsted Enron caveat; Broder and McGrory; compromise needed on Cheney lawsuit.

SGT Stryker DVD beats posting; stealing quotes--new scandal.

... it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

For more candid commentary, read Blog Watch I.

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
PM Edition - by Tony Adragna
Brian Linse: SOU Top Ten; the Bush family's service to community; Nader's such a nature lover - let's all give him the bird

Andrew Hofer: More Than Zero has reason to be more than angry; pundits can't play the Game because they don't underrstand the Theory

Damian Penny: Wimpy Canadian bag boys; retired Canadian general says "let's pay the bill"; Saudi Arabia is America's Quebec

Dr. Frank: "Liberal" spread a little too liberally; "those people" in San Francisco

Moira Breen: Eight things you can't say in a column... and the writer who immediatley says them

Tim Blair: The juxtaposition of two worlds; Mike's just jealous 'cause Dubya is sexier

Duncan Fitzgerald: The Cynicologist publishes a "New Article"; WALK - nobody's chasin' you

Alex Knapp: Help those afflicted with leprosy - but stay away from Nader & Chomsky; Master Sauron

protein wisdom: University students not bright enough to work at Micky D's - administrators say that's OK; MLK Jr Library don't know MLK Jr. (hey, it's DC: waddayawant - Tony)

Daniel Taylor Let me just tell ya that I ain't got somethin' to say; say it ain't so, Bill

Ginger Stampley: Riyadh Ramblings; Tovarisch Troi; Ketchup ain't just Ketchup anymore

Jack O'Toole: Jacobs - smart, fearless, and 100% correct; "Chee-nee" fighting a no-winner; Gennifer Flowers gets a Flag

...Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by blog watching for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard blog watch for his country. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight - wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of blog watching....

Thursday, January 31, 2002
We've Got a Resource
Tony Adragna
Welcome back, Will! I Fall To Pieces while I'm out Walkin' After Midnight and going Crazy until I get home and put my head on the pillow in preparation for Sweet Dreams. But now that you're back I can get on with business...

No! - I'm not a Patsy Cline fan!...

OK, what passed between me and Jesse Walker was no bigee (I would say "Biggie", but I'm still not ready to go there). He passed me a note 'splainin' what happened and why he didn't cc me - very reasonable. I let Jesse know that my real problem with Pilger is the tone he takes and the web he weaves. Jesse also passed me a link with some more rational arguments against taking the war to Somalia, and incisive critique of our prior intervention. Hey, that's all we ask for here - give us a good honest argument, the minds are open But, if you wanna spew bile, then be ready to have your words taken down.

I agree on the administration's openness - as I said earlier today: letting Bob in on the story is pure genius (n.b. I think Bob had most of it already anyway: he's long been in the business of knowing who "talks").

I wonder how many anti-globies use MS software?...

Gotta go Blog Watchin now... been truant lately...

Where to Search
Will Vehrs
Tony, it's tough to run an anti-globalization blog when you're constantly travelling internationally from major city to major city, holding teach-ins, throwing rocks, and getting arrested. Look for ISPs from Starbucks in potest cities ... perhaps the anti-g's are able to dash off a rant or two while they're sipping a pre-riot latte.

Oh, I haven't been reading Woodward series in the WP, but I've been following some of the reviews. Josh Marshall seems a bit upset that Bush and Company are being portrayed so positively, but most others think it's good stuff. Even the cynical Don Imus said this morning that it sounded like the Bushies were being honest and open with Woodward and Balz about those tense and trying days.

Question of the Day
Tony Adragna
Ted Barlow asks:Where are the anti-globalization blogs?

I don't know, Ted. Have you seen any, Will? Anybody?...

Tony's got a new project...

Consider the Source
Will Vehrs
Jeesh, Tony, one obscure negative letter to Matt Welch and you're all down in the mouth. Matt Welch himself said you were terrific and I'd put a lot more faith in his judgment than in that of the email-challenged Jesse Walker. Don't let the bastards grind you down.

My trip to Winchester went fairly well, although I had to slog through some pretty deep mud during a visit to a metal recycler. I got to see the drug store where Patsy Cline worked, plus the house she grew up in and the house she built for her mother. Winchester never used to acknowledge Patsy (she's was a ... whisper ... whisper), but once she died and the tourist possibilities surfaced, they embraced her in spite of her past (whisper ... whisper).

Interesting News Hour tonight. Four retired Senators--Malcom Wallop, Dale Bumpers, Warren Rudman, and Sam Nunn--talked about Bush's State of the Union speech. Poor old Wallop was out of it and Bumpers had the Democratic talking points about "tax cuts for the rich" down pat, but Nunn and Rudman gave thoughtful analyses and critiques on the foreign policy implications of Bush's message. Where was our favorite, Alan Simpson? After the Senators, I thought there was going to be a debate between Congressman Henry Waxman and Cheney aide Mary Matalin over the GAO suit for Energy Task Force information, but the two appeared separately to answer questions within the same segment. There seems to be some dispute as to whether the GAO wants just names or if they want names and minutes of the meetings. Waxman says it's just names.

Glad your hiatus is over, Tony. I'm feeling a little better and should be able to bloviate at full strength by the weekend.

I'm not the worst offender
Tony Adragna
People are picking on me again, Will! Jesse Walker didn't like my response to Pilger. Walker takes on the "humanitarian justification" for our intervention. But, can he deny that this was the intent of the intervention? My criticism of Pilger is about the manner in which he framed his story - the U.S. as invidious aspirant to world domination - not about Walker's argument as to whether the intervention was needed.

And what about Pilger's obvious misstatement on the most recent U.S. defense related budget proposal? Or Pilger's spin on Brzezinski's comment?

Walker closes with:
"Beyond that, I really dislike the Usenet style of writing that has been seeping into blogdom, which sometimes reads more like heckling than incisive critique. Adragna is scarcely the worst offender here, but it still made his attack kind of unpleasant to read."
To which I can only respond borrowing Walker's form: I really dislike the irrational polemic style of writing that has been seeping into the press, which most times reads more like ideological buffoonery than incisive critique. Pilger is one of the worst offenders here, and it makes his attack very unpleasant to read.

Oh, by the way, it only takes a moment to send an email - I wonder why I didn't get one from Walker?...

News Break: Check your local affiliate
Tony Adragna
Deadline Extended for Kidnapped Reporter Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States won't negotiate.

He's ruling out negotiations to win the release of a Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent who was abducted in Pakistan.

A group claiming to have kidnapped Daniel Pearl said yesterday it would kill him within 24 hours. But today they extended the deadline by a day.

Powell says "we are doing everything we can" to free Pearl. He says Pakistan's president will also pursue the matter. But Powell says the alleged kidnappers' demands aren't things that can be met.

Sharon: Israel Should Have Killed Arafat
Israel should have killed Yasser Arafat 20 years ago, while he was under Israeli siege in Beirut, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published Thursday.

Sharon said he was "sorry we didn't liquidate him," but added that Arafat could yet become a partner for peace if he cracked down on Palestinian militants.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat told CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger he believes Sharon plans to finish the job now.

Woodward Does It Again!
Tony Adragna
I'm back, Will! How ya feelin'? I decided to take a short hiatus, too - Tuesday's double dose of keepin' it honest took alot outta me.

Have you been following Bob Woodward's latest series? Talk about confirmation of what the Anti-Idiotarians (myself included, I hope) have been saying all along about this administration's thinking on the response to the attack of September 11th, and the goal of the broader war on terrorism. Somebody at 1600 had a stroke of genius in giving this story to Woodward.

There's one bit of the story, from today's installment, that deserves a highlight:

"[Bush's] other concern was one that he did not express to his war cabinet but that he said later was part of his own thinking. He knew that around the table were a number of advisers-Powell, Cheney and Wolfowitz-who had been with his father during the Gulf War deliberations. 'And one of the things I wasn't going to allow to happen is, that we weren't going to let their previous experience in this theater dictate a rational course for the new war,' the president said."

That's a significant bit of insight, and should be read: get ready for a departure from the way we've done things in the past. No more containment -- engaging militarily only to put the genie back in his bottle -- now were after breaking the genie's spell.

This war, like any war, can only be won by vanguishing the enemy. Allowing a surrender on terms that are anything less than total repudiation of prior belligerance is folly, and I think that's a lesson from father to son...

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

Front Page Image

Numbers Point to Economic Recovery ( Powered by soaring auto sales and a sharp increase in government spending, the U.S. economy resumed growing in the final three months of last year, albeit at a meager 0.2 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

President Hits the Road To Pitch Service Initiative ( WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Jan. 30 -- President Bush embarked on a barnstorming tour to promote the national service initiative he proposed in Tuesday's State of the Union address, calling for significant expansion of a program Republicans had tried to kill a few years ago.

At Camp David, Advise and Dissent ( Saturday, September 15

CIA Director George J. Tenet arrived at Camp David with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

Fed Holds Steady on Interest Rates as Economy Firms WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 — Against the backdrop of an economy that is displaying remarkable resilience, the Federal Reserve brought its yearlong campaign of interest rate cuts to an apparent end today, voting to hold rates steady and citing signs of an incipient recovery.

Fighting Erupts in Afghan City as Warlords Compete for Power KARDEZ, Afghanistan, Jan. 30 — After two months of rising tensions between rival warlords across much of Afghanistan, this strategic city 80 miles south of Kabul erupted today in heavy fighting that continued into the night with bursts of mortar, rocket and rifle fire, flashes and smoke from exploding ammunition. There were unconfirmed reports of civilian as well as military casualties.

Rich and Powerful Gathering at Elite Forum on Economy In keeping with the times, the way to the site of the grand annual retreat of the world's movers and shakers was a maze of police barriers, concrete barricades, flashing lights and blue uniforms yesterday. But once inside the Waldorf-Astoria, it was more like the start of summer camp.

Bush Aides Say Tough Tone Put Foes on Notice WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 — President Bush decided to lump Iran and North Korea with Iraq as members of an "axis of evil" whose support for terrorism seeks to acquire and spread weapons of mass destruction, officials said today, despite the fact that the two nations have sporadically sought improved relations with the United States.

Washington Times:

Nuclear plants targeted -- The Washington Times U.S. intelligence agencies have issued an internal alert that Islamic terrorists are planning another spectacular attack to rival those carried out on September 11.

ID card for air passengers -- The Washington Times A U.S. Department of Transportation task force is moving forward with plans for a national transportation-worker identity card intended as a first step toward "trusted-traveler" cards for airline passengers.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Immigration Judges Call for Independent Court WASHINGTON -- In a rebuke to Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, the nation's immigration judges are asking Congress to remove their courts from control of the Justice Department.

Data Hint at End of Recession WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy grew slightly during the final quarter of 2001, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, surprising analysts and suggesting that the recovery may have already begun.

Cheney Faces Suit Over Energy Panel WASHINGTON -- The General Accounting Office, the investigative agency of Congress, announced Wednesday that it would sue the White House for refusing to reveal the inner workings of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, foreshadowing a high-stakes constitutional battle laced with political overtones.

It's Japan, for Crying Out Loud TOKYO -- This land of stalwart samurai and knife-wielding ninja is getting positively teary-eyed.

The spigots opened a few days ago, before Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka was fired Tuesday for squabbling with political rivals. As the pressure mounted, the nation's top diplomat, a woman so tough she's been called "an untamed stallion," cried in public.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

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

What’s hot: Scarf-faced Florida driver.

Joanne Jacobs: SAT replacement won't fulfill secret agenda.

Joshua Micah Marshall: Frank Savage, "new" Enron scandal player.

Charles Johnson. Google eschews pop-ups; fact-checking similes; driver's license cover-up; Al-Ansari, reformer; Angry Viking; El Portalon; SOU message to Saudi Arabia; Dubya doing something right.

Jeff Jarvis Loser, but I got face time; Dwyer and Flynn's story is about learning; Cop guard at Starbucks, but an idiot at airline screening; they call the wind Anthrax.

Libertarian Samizdata Misplaced affection for Star Trek; I pay for BBC swill; Q & A for French fan.

Steven Den Beste Adios, MetaFilter; Solana's EU face-saving; blatant sexism in sexism study--girls can compute; no wild card drivers' license in Florida; we cannot stand idly by.

Dawson Treat for Mischa Berlinski; design by Sekimori; endorsed by Sully; spelling, grammar appear with Claire Berlinski joining staff--Peggy Noonan, watch out, this babe uses the "F" word for effect.

Kathy Kinsley More blogs, with thumbnail reviews; Comrade Tony on Pilger; Kelly too kind to Cardinal.

Fritz Schranck Internet searches like biblical concordances; mixed feelings on plagiarism.

Kevin Holtsberry Samizdata take-down; does spelling and grammar matter? Kristol nailed; Punditgate analysis; tough review of NR, NRO, and "The Corner"; real job to intrude on blogging; Bush is one of us.

SGT Stryker Aid agency honesty--finally!; two in Yemen; beaucoup ordnance; 87,600 hours of service to nation; Fox & Friends arrives unannounced.

Andrew Olmsted Feinstein and Enron got the same thing; notes and observations from the State of the Union.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And blogs to watch before I sleep,
And blogs to watch before I sleep.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Hello, Anybody Home?
Will Vehrs
I'm finally starting to feel mildly human again. I've been "resting" as much as possible because I have a trip to Winchester, VA, tomorrow that I can't miss. Winchester is a beautiful valley town with one of the all-time great parades every year at their Apple Blossom Festival.

I've tried to keep up from my "sick bed" ... Tony, I enjoyed your excellent take-down of Signoile and wish I could have joined in it. I was generally impressed with President Bush's State of the Union address, especially his commitment to conducting the war on our terms. Slate's Breakfast Table with David Brooks and Joe Klein has been a joy to read, although I could tell Brooks started off by recycling his most recent commentary from The News Hour. Punditwatching tends to catch that sort of thing.

With any luck, I'll be back to posting regularly on Friday, assuming you're around, Tony. Hope everything's okay.

Print Punditwatch Looks at Literary Devices, Sex

The latest Punditwatch is up, examining the use of hyperbole and metaphor. Paul Krugman is the star, implicitly predicting profiling of executives, x-raying of 401Ks, and auditing tribunals. There's also exciting information on President Bush's past and present sex life.

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

Front Page Image

Bush Vows to Defeat Terror, Recession ( President Bush warned Congress and the nation last night that the country will long remain vulnerable to attack, as he pledged to devote the second year of his presidency to the twin goals of combating the recession at home and enemies abroad.

Hitching Civic, Economic Goals To the War ( In last night's State of the Union address, President Bush sought to do something not seen since the grim days of rubber drives and rationing: Convert a foreign military action into a domestic mobilization.

Bush Lays Down A Marker for 3 'Evil' States ( By singling out Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" whose efforts to acquire and export weapons of mass destruction could no longer be tolerated, President Bush last night appeared to sharply increase both the immediacy and the gravity of the threat they pose, along with his own determination to do something about it sooner rather than later.

New York Times:

Front Page Image

In Speech, Bush Calls Iraq, Iran and North Korea 'an Axis of Evil' WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — President Bush told Americans tonight that "our war against terror is only beginning" and sent new warnings to terrorists around the world and to three nations — Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

News Analysis: Surer Voice, Wider Vision WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — The changes in George W. Bush as a leader over the last four months have been noticed across the nation and around the world, but tonight's State of the Union address showed how significantly his own conception of the presidency has evolved.

Before the Towers Fell, Fire Dept. Fought Chaos In scores of emotionally searing interviews conducted by the Fire Department for an internal inquiry, the agency's most senior commanders have provided new and, in some cases, alarming revelations about the events of Sept. 11.

Enron Says Shredding of Records Was Not Stopped Until Recently Enron (news/quote) acknowledged yesterday that it had contracted until mid-January with commercial shredding companies to destroy company records.

Washington Times:

Bush cites new terror targets -- The Washington Times President Bush last night used his first official State of the Union address to say the war against terrorism "is only beginning" and to single out an "axis of evil" that poses the next terrorist threat to America.

President gets cheers from both parties -- The Washington Times Democrats and Republicans yesterday enthusiastically cheered President Bush's State of the Union address.

"As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our union has never been stronger," Mr. Bush said, prompting cheers and a standing ovation from the members of Congress, top military brass and other dignitaries gathered to hear the address.

Los Angeles Times:

Front Page Image(pdf)

Bush Vows to Take War on Terror to Iran and Iraq, Calls for Unity WASHINGTON -- President Bush, calling on the nation to embrace a wartime spirit of resolve and responsibility, vowed Tuesday to extend the campaign against terrorism to Iraq, Iran and North Korea and proposed to enlist hundreds of thousands of Americans in programs of voluntary national service.

Red Ink May Last a Decade WASHINGTON -- In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Bush declared that he wants to boost expenditures on defense, homeland security, health care and education. . .and cut taxes again to boot.

Accounting Worried Global Crossing Exec A finance executive at ailing Global Crossing Ltd. warned the firm's top attorney in August that the company's financial condition was being enhanced with misleading accounting techniques, according to a letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Andersen's Reputation in Shreds CHICAGO -- Think straight, talk straight.

That motto was coined by Arthur Edward Andersen, a Northwestern University accounting professor who made standing up for what's right the bedrock principle of the company he founded 88 years ago.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

BLOG WATCH II: Your guide to who is saying what, where
AM Edition - by Will Vehrs
What’s hot: Contempt for Krugman. *** Picks: Kathy Kinsley, On Pilger; Fritz Schranck, On Special Olympics.

Joanne Jacobs: Huge mission from Bush's speech makes Joanne nervous, proud; revised history standards.

Joshua Micah Marshall Spoke too soon on WMAL?; highest principle, highest necessity; nickname parody; pro-bono MoFo's.

Charles Johnson. Savage is as savage does; change of heart by Mubarek?; Professor Rotunda, no POWs; blissfully unaware of mistreatment of US prisoners; vote for me.

Jeff Jarvis Non-judgementalism; tolerance; should we non-judge and tolerate reality TV?

Libertarian Samizdata Iluminatus expedition pic; spontaneous network views; response to a "Michele" on lgf; splendid recipe, splendid bitter princess; EU inspiration for libertarians? I don't think so; Krugman over the edge; codswallop; more pics, less revealing; Flit's high quality blogging; Carla for Massachusetts Governor! Interminable platform follows.

Steven Den Beste What nation-building can--and can't--do; Microsoft crenelation mystery solved: Den Beste google-whacked; Tyson's license tossed; Mrs. Lay's incredulous defense.

Dawson Nice new look, content in the pipeline.

Kathy Kinsley ***Pilger for Sontag Award; watch out for "new photos of my party" email--look at Natalija's legs again instead.

Kevin Holtsberry Krugman's column is dumb--I second that emotion; Pats' coach no genius; Megan's b'day, who's janegalt?

Fritz Schranck ***Lewe's Plunge benefits Ben, Special Olympics.

Andrew Olmsted Daschle, go probing; Krugman's loss of sanity; Karzi controversy; video a godsend to Putin; Cohen's unreal argument; male suicide rising, why is elusive.

SGT Stryker diff'rent strokes for different socialist folks; State of the Union parody with Mrs. Sarge; Guard call-up hardships; Jerry Lewis-like Greenville; tell Red Cross in the morning, terrorists take warning.

Let us go then, you and I
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like ... Tim Blair ... etherised upon a table
Let us go, through certain ... Blog Watch sites ....

Tuesday, January 29, 2002
Che cosi dire, Signorile?
Tony Adragna
Way back when I started this endearvour (and it does seem like a long time ago), I lucked into an opportunity to "take down" a particularly offensive piece of bile written by a Michael Bronski. At that time I made the comment, "Now I know how Andrew Sullivan feels, and I'm left of Michael Kinsley... " What brought Andrew to mind as I responded to Bronski was my recollection of having read several nasty pieces by this self-proclaimed master of "Outing" - Michelangelo Signorile Well, Signorile is at it again, and again he's going after the radical press' favourite target - Andrew Sullivan....

(read the full response to Signorile at "From Left Field")

Pulverizing Pilger
Tony Adragna
John Pilger is at it again. Let's us see what he's got to say:

"LAST week, the US government announced that it was building the biggest-ever war machine. Military spending will rise to $379billion, of which $50billion will pay for its "war on terrorism'."

I don't know how Mr. Pilger figures that the spending indicates the "building the biggest-ever war machine." The New York Times reports that "The request, which was larger than even some Pentagon officials had expected and the biggest since the Reagan-era military buildup", and near the end their aticle this "increase" is put into perspective:

"Ms. Hansen said that if Mr. Bush got his full request from Congress, bringing the military budget to $379 billion after accounting for some bookkeeping changes, the Pentagon would still be getting less in inflation- adjusted terms than it was in 1985, which was considered the high point of President Reagan's buildup. In 2002 dollars, the 1985 budget of $286.8 billion would be $451.8 billion, she said."

Mr. Pilger has more to say:

"There will be special funding for new, refined weapons of mass slaughter and for 'military operations' - invasions of other countries.

Of all the extraordinary news since September 11, this is the most alarming. It is time to break our silence.

That is to say, it is time for other governments to break their silence, especially the Blair government, whose complicity in the American rampage in Afghanistan has not denied its understanding of the Bush administration's true plans and ambitions.

The recent statements of British Ministers about the 'vindication' of the 'outstanding success' in Afghanistan would be comical if the price of their 'success' had not been paid with the lives of more than 5,000 innocent Afghani civilians and the failure to catch Osama bin Laden and anyone else of importance in the al-Qaeda network.

Now, later in the article Mr. Pilger cites the U.S. "invasion" of Somalia, and the deaths of "innocent civilians" in that instance. But, Mr. Pilger ought to know that, while Navy SEALs initially went ashore prepared for forceful resistence, their mission was to secure the Mogadishu airport so that food relief could be flown in to feed starving Somalis. The almost comical pucnhline to the insertion that night was that members of the press were on hand to greet the SEALs as they arrived. I will concede, though, that our landings in Somalia were arguably an "invasion", but the same can't be said of Afghanistan: the internationaly recognized representatves of the government of Afghanistan sought our assistance.

The figure of "between 7,000 and 10,000 Somalis killed" is a blatant misstatement of fact quoted in official estimates of "casualties" related to Operation Restore Hope. Of those casualties, the estimated number of deaths is by most accounts somewhere between 300 and 500. But, I guess facts don't matter to Mr. Pilger, or he wouldn't be still using the already debunked citation of "more than 5,000 innocent Afghani civilians" deaths (n.b. Mr. Pilger also uses the misnomer "Afghani", which properly does not refers to native Afghans, but only to Arab foreigners who had participated in the '79 - '89 conflict).

The worst part of this rant, is that Mr. Pilger fails to see that by our actions we have seen a reduction of what most probably would have been a staggeringly higher number of deaths due not only to famine related starvation, but also state sponsored brutality directed by the Taliban against innocent Afghans.

Oh, but Mr. Pilger has still more calumnies to foist upon his readers:

"Brzezinski not long ago revealed that on July 3, 1979, unknown to the American public and Congress, President Jimmy Carter secretly authorised $500million to create an international terrorist movement that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and 'destabilise' the Soviet Union.

The CIA called this Operation Cyclone and in the following years poured $4billion into setting up Islamic training schools in Pakistan (Taliban means 'student').

Young zealots were sent to the CIA's spy training camp in Virginia, where future members of al-Qaeda were taught 'sabotage skills' - terrorism.

Others were recruited at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, New York, within sight of the fated Twin Towers.

In Pakistan, they were directed by British MI6 officers and trained by the SAS.

The result, quipped Brzezinski, was 'a few stirred up Muslims' - meaning the Taliban.

At that time, the late 1970s, the American goal was to overthrow Afghanistan's first progressive, secular government, which had granted equal rights to women, established health care and literacy programmes and set out to break feudalism.

When the Taliban seized power in 1996, they hanged the former president from a lamp-post in Kabul."

I remember a recent interview with Brzezinski in which he reveals that supprt for the mujehadeen began in the summer of '79. And yes, the CIA did support the mujehadeen. Yup, the purpose was to destabilise the Soviet Union. Right you are, Mr. Pilger, that the Taliban hanged the former president. However, that's all you got right.

Brzezinski did intend to play the central Asian Muslims against the Soviets:

"Regret what? This secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of luring the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, in substance: 'We now have the opportunity to give the USSR its war of Vietnam'. In fact, Moscow had to conduct an unbearable war for almost ten years, a conflict which led to the demoralization and finally the break up of the Soviet empire."

Mr. Pilger doesn't seem to understand that our support for the mujehadeen was no different than the Soviet and Chinese support for Vietnamese resistance against what Mr. Pilger would label the "puppet government" in the south. The only "international terrorist movement" to grow out of the 10 year Afghan conflict was al Qaeda, which didn't blossom until after the conflict. Mr. Pilger's assertion [actually, it was an inferrence, but the point still stands - Tony] that the U.S. had some direct involvment in organizing al Qaeda is utter nonsense.

And the "quip" was no quip. Brzezinski was most sincere when he said:

"What is most important from the point of view of the history of the world? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet empire? A few excited Muslims [quelques excités islamistes] or the liberation of Central Europe and end of the cold war?"(emphasis added)

As is plainly evident, the "quip" in its context imparts something substantially different than what Mr. Pilger would like us to believe.

Mr. Pilger goes on interminably for God only knows how many more grafs - I sure don't, because I stopped reading...

Related reading: Kathy Kinsley also deconstructs Pilger, and she includes some links to sources.

Thursday, January 29, 1953

Top News Headlines This Week:
Jan 29 - 1st movie in Cinemascope (The Robe) premieres Jan 31 - Hurricane-like winds flood Netherlands drowning nearly 2,000 Jan 31 - "Princess Victoria" capsized off Stanraer Scotland; 133 die Jan 31 - NY, Cleveland, & Boston retaliate at Bill Veeck, forcing the Browns Jan 31 - to play afternoon games to avoid sharing TV revenues Feb 1 - "You Are There" with Walter Cronkite premieres on CBS television

Top Songs for 1953
I'm Walking Behind You by Eddie Fisher
Song from Moulin Rouge by Percy Faith
You You You by Ames Brothers
Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes by Perry Como
Rags to Riches by Tony Bennett
Vaya Con Dios by Les Paul & Mary Ford
No Other Love by Perry Como
The Doggie In the Window by Patti Page
Till I Waltz Again with You by Teresa Brewer
St. George and the Dragonet by Stan Freberg

1953 Prices
Bread: $0.16/loaf Milk: $0.94/gal Eggs: $0.75/dozCar: $1,850 Gas: $0.29/gal

House: $17,400 Stamp: $0.03/ea Avg Income: $4,706/yr Min Wage: $0.75/hr DOW Avg: 281

US President
Dwight D. Eisenhower
US Vice President
Richard M. Nixon

Academy Award Winners
Best Picture: From Here To Eternity Directed By Fred Zinnemann
Best Actor: William Holden in Stalag 17
Best Actress: Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday

People born on January 29
1880 - W C Fields [William Claude Dukenfield] Philadelphia PA, "on the whole, he'd rather be in Philadelphia"/actor (My Little Chickadee, Bank Dick)
1918 - John Forsythe New Jersey, actor (Bachelor Father, Charlie's Angels, Dynasty)
1945 - Tom Selleck Detroit MI, actor (Lance-Rockford Files, Magnum PI)
1950 - Ann Jillian Cambridge MA, actress (Mr Mom, Jennifer Slept Here)
1953 - Will Vehrs

On TV in 1953
Kukla, Fran and Ollie
Make Room for Daddy
Our Miss Brooks
I Love Lucy
Jackie Gleason Show
U.S. Steel Hour
The Burns and Allen Show
What's My Line?

Hot New Toys in 1953
Plastic Army Men

Top Books in 1953
The Mirror and the Lamp by Meyer Howard Abrams
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

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

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Prince Reaffirms Saudi-U.S. Alliance ( RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 28 -- Crown Prince Abdullah said today that the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia has emerged undamaged from the attacks of Sept. 11. But he warned that the war on terrorism is being undermined by what he called the indefensible position of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Afghan Campaign's Blueprint Emerges ( Third of eight articles
Thursday, September 13

Shortly after 12:30 p.m., President Bush's limousine pulled into the White House driveway, stopping not far from the Oval Office. The president was returning from a visit to the burn unit of Washington Hospital Center, where he had had several emotional encounters with severe burn victims injured when a hijacked airliner hit the Pentagon two days before.

Bush and GOP Enjoy Record Popularity ( President Bush delivers his State of the Union address tonight enjoying a historic level of public support for his leadership and for his Republican allies in Congress, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

New York Times:

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Bush Reconsiders Stand on Treating Captives of War WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 — After a lengthy meeting with his national security team today, President Bush said he was reconsidering whether Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, should be protected under the Third Geneva Convention. But he quickly added that they were "killers" who would not be granted the status of prisoners of war.

U.S. Is Requesting Tighter Security at Utah Olympics WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 — The Justice Department has requested major last-minute changes in security arrangements at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City out of concern that some sites had not been adequately protected from a terrorist attack, law enforcement officials said.

Bush Says Privacy Is Needed on Data From Enron Talks WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 — President Bush today defended his refusal to turn over to Congress information about contacts between Enron (news/quote) and the administration's energy task force, saying the request was "an encroachment on the executive branch's ability to conduct business."

Afghans Kill 6 Who Held Out Inside Hospital KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Jan. 28 — Six Arab fighters who had been holed up in a hospital here for seven weeks, threatening to kill any Westerner who approached, died today in a hail of gunfire and explosives when local Afghan troops, directed by Special Operations forces of the United States Army, stormed the ward.

Saudi Affirms U.S. Ties but Says Bush Ignores Palestinians' Cause RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 28 — In an effort to silence Saudi and American critics of his kingdom, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud embraced the United States today as a close friend and branded the Sept. 11 attacks a "deviant" attempt to destroy the bonds.

Washington Times:

U.S. to help build military -- The Washington Times The United States will help Afghanistan build a military and train soldiers rather than devote U.S. forces there as part of a multinational peacekeeping force, President Bush said yesterday.

Hospital raid kills 6 in al Qaeda -- The Washington Times U.S. Special Forces troops and Afghan forces raided a hospital in Kandahar on Sunday and ended a two-month siege by al Qaeda terrorists, the Pentagon said yesterday.

Los Angeles Times:

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Davis and Foe Close in Poll Five weeks before election day, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan holds a double-digit lead over his top rivals in the GOP gubernatorial primary and runs even with Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in a prospective fall matchup, according to a Los Angeles Times poll.

Andersen Losing Clients, CEO Says Accounting giant Andersen said Monday that it is losing business in the wake of the Enron Corp. scandal, but the company's chief executive sought to dispel speculation that the firm would be sold or shut down.

6 Al Qaeda Holdouts Killed in Afghan Hospital Battle KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- After a dramatic 10-hour battle Monday, a combined force of Afghan government militiamen and U.S. Special Forces soldiers overwhelmed six Al Qaeda fighters who had been holed up in a wing of Kandahar's biggest hospital since early December.

Battery Behind the Shoji Screen TOKYO -- Kimiko tells her story with calm detachment. How her husband beat her dozens of times during their 32 years together, raining blows down on her face, thighs and stomach, pounding her back with wooden boards, kicking her hard enough to break a rib.

Go to The Newspaper Rack

QP Sick Bay
Will Vehrs
Sorry for the dearth of posts over the last 24 hours (or did you even notice? I wonder about that sometimes), but I have come down with some disgusting sickness and feel even less lucid than normal. I hated missing your great plagiarism investigation, Tony, but I did see Tim Noah on The News Hour last night. Noah and Columbia historian Eric Foner beat up on Kearns-Goodwin and Ambrose pretty well.

I'll be back with my usual quantity of mediocrity as soon as this bug lets go.

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

What’s hot: Samizdata's libertarian cheesecake, Challenger, Apollo tributes. ***Picks: Joshua Marshall, Florida Pension Fund; Jeff Jarvis, Celebrity and Buzz; Steven Den Beste, Jihad's No Pickett's Charge.

Joanne Jacobs: Weekly Reader withstood Wednesday Report challenge; stressed out cabbie; concrete dungeons preferred to chain link.

Joshua Micah Marshall ***Florida pension debacle; goofball ambassador; Administration Enron stock list with stipulation; the Levitt 13.

Charles Johnson. EU stands by Arafat; give 'em back to the Saudis; Yasser Washington; Thucydides returns.

Jeff Jarvis Natalija could make weblogs huge; kid bombers coming? asks Muslimpundit; ***celebrity and buzz; Mrs. Lay's stupid PR move.

Libertarian Samizdata A Samizdata Scrapbook Special, including the falcon hears Perry, the falconer; great libertarian legs; Brian's favs #1 and #2; stand-up comic libertarian; two henchmen; Belfast rocker. Plus: campaign finance reform means libertarians are annoying; Challenger tribute.

Steven Den Beste EU to frown in Mugabe's direction; refrigerator tyranny; Apple baloney; ***jihad images and lessons from the Confederacy.

Kathy Kinsley Welcome to the brigade; Perry's sexy pic; female soldiers' very existence tortures Gitmo prisoners.

Kevin Holtsberry and NRO; daily Natalija pic requested; taking down Bushtit; taking down TRB; grumpy about Powell.

Fritz Schranck OWOW and hope for watersheds.

Andrew Olmsted Play by play of Tony A's plagiarism investigation; dittoes on Den Beste; Challenger and Apollo 1 tribute; Senate must act; 9-11 questions.

A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tip-toes in my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
"Go to sleep ... Blog Watch is all right."

Monday, January 28, 2002
Further Apologies: this one to Bob Novak
Tony Adragna
Now that i've gotten it straight in my mind just what Noah was up to, I must also retract my characterization of the piece as a "good response to Novak." If Noah's only point is the work contained in the last graf of that section (his original work), then Noah is guilty still of misusing Novak.

See, the whole thrust of Noah's article is to refute an argument that Clinton, the liberals, and the environmentalists, are guily of bringing about Enron's collapse. The problem is that Novak made no such argument. Everything in Novak's column led up to the final sentence:

"Enron knew no loyalty to party, to ideology or to American consumers. It had contempt for more than its employees."

That last sentence isn't even quoted by Noah, though it conveys the whole of what Novak intended. Instead, Noah builds a strawman, jumps to defending the Kyoto treaty and doesn't even deal with the supposed topic -- the Enron blame game -- of the article:

"But the mere fact that Enron stood to benefit financially from the Kyoto Treaty, and therefore was pushing energetically for its passage, doesn?t in itself constitute an argument against the Kyoto Treaty."

Sure, Novak is probably just as anti-Kyoto as Messrs. Bush and Cheney, but he didn't address that issue per se in his column. What Novak was ranting against, as he did again today, was the benefit granted "a rapacious corporation" at the expense of everybody it touched - the public, free markets, politicians...(actually, today Novak also rants against Mr. Bush for unwittingly helping Mr. Lay)

Noah's still not off the hook for being a plain ol' knucklekead...

Am I A Stand Up Guy?
Tony Adragna
That's what somebody called me in an email after I had posted the apology below. My response is: No, I'm an IDIOT for going there with a non-story to begin with. You see, I can't really balme MSNBC for my error, because I'm supposed to know better.

I said several weeks ago in this parenthetical:

(yes, not just the word, but the layout too - see the NYT case from last year involving freelance writers who had never agreed to allow their contributions to be reformatted for electronic archiving and retrieval)

I broke a cardinal rule - I didn't check the copy against another source. Some might say, "hey, if you can read, then you shoulda been able to figure it out." It's not that simple - format is protected not only for looks, but also because reformating the work can substantially alter what the author intended. You see, format really does matter.

Timothy Noah's intent was clear in the original format at Slate, and that I was confused by the MSNBC copy is no fault of his. I wouldn't blame Tim for sending me nastygrams once a day for the rest of my life...

The Plagiarism Story that wasn't

It seems that Noah is due an apology - the MSNBC version of the story linked below was formatted in such a way that it looked as if something funny was going on. The version at Slate (which I hadn't seen) makes things much clearer.