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barstool philosopher,
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but never a Monday morning quarterback

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UVA Center for Politics and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Predictions 2002


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A blog by a proud member of the Bellicose Women's Brigade


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Saturday, February 23, 2002
Fact Checking the National Post
Tony Adragna
Will, you know how I just love to send email to journos who annoy me - why don't they all include that little "email author" link on their stories?

Who turned my crank this time? One James Cowan, who, in a story about blogging, notes FOX's pick up of blog content:
Fox's inaugural column, published on Tuesday, is written by Layne and described by Fox as "a tour of the Net guided by a pilot you will come to know over time."
What do I find objectionable about the above? Well, as regular QuasiPunditistas are quite aware, the "inaugural column" was "Pundits Obsess Over Campaign Finance Reform" - produit de PunditWatcher Will Vehrs.

I also take exception with the statement, "Fox News unveiled a Web Log of its own." FOX News has done no such thing! What they've done has gone further than NRO - FOX is going outside their shop for content from bloggers.

The rest of the media oughta catch on...

On The History Channel
Tony Adragna
Tonight, at 8:00 PM Eastern (that's 20:00 to you military folks), History Channel is gonna run a feature on the raising of the flag on Mount Surabachi and how the PR folks are responsible for a bit of historical confusion.

To Help Iraqi Children...
Tony Adragna
...we need to send Saddam more bombs!

My only criticism of Haych Dubya is that he went along with letting the military campaign against Saddam end in a political settlement leaving Saddam in charge. This is more on my theory on "partitions" - taking some arbitrary point in time, or set of boundaries, and declaring the end of the fight at those points.

But the fight hasn't ended, has it? We're still present in the region, engaged in a campaign of containment, and occasionally needing to use some minimal military force to remind Saddam that we're still vigilant. Meanwhile, Saddam is still living large!

No, we're not responsible for the suffering of Iraqi children, but we definitely blew a primo opportunity to do the one thing that would be most effective in helping innocent Iraqis - take out Saddam and his regime.

Hopefully (as I am ever hopeful) we're getting ready to make up for that sin in what we failed to do (Catholics oughta understand that verbiage).

There's a meta-context here - look at the Korean DMZ, the partition of the Holy Land. I've come to the conclusion that these disputes won't be resolved unless the opposing forces are allowed to slug it out til one side is vanquished - capitulation on terms has already been proven unacceptable to all parties...

Tyson Shouldn't Get Any Play!
Tony Adragna
I hafta disagree with Tony Williams on this one - the blip in revenue that this fight would generate isn't worth pandering to a rapist thug.

Sorry, that's how I see it.

Tyson in Washington
Will Vehrs
Hey, Tony, I've been meaning to ask you (and I'm not the only one) if you're rooting for Mike Tyson to fight in Washington, DC--only a short Metro ride from your house. It would be the biggest thing in DC since ... well, maybe since Marion Berry's "bitch set me up" travails.

Washington Post columnist Colbert King isn't too keen on the idea:

By moving toward granting Tyson a boxing license, the District of Columbia is putting greed before the health of a man who needs more than a one-night stand in the nation's capital. Tyson has a history of both unlawful and obnoxious behavior. While finding him fit to fight in 1998, an independent medical evaluation conducted for the Nevada State Athletic Commission by a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists at Massachusetts General Hospital said Tyson has a "constellation of neurobehavioral deficits" and needs "a course of regular psychotherapy with the goal of building trusting relationships, understanding and managing his emotional responses to specific situations and anger management skills." He's not there yet.

A number of other states, including Nevada, for reasons of conduct in and out of the ring, have said no to Tyson. The District is rushing to say yes, thus joining greedy-gut promoters, profit-seeking cable and pay-TV big shots, and an assortment of hangers-on in making money on the back of a once terrific prizefighter now nearing the end of his career and in need of help.

I was once a big boxing fan, Tony, but I now have more faith in the integrity of the WWF than I do in any of the alphabet soup boxing championship bouts. That said, I don't care if or where Tyson fights. Have the fight in DC and pray that it becomes merely another boxing spectacle, not a disastrous PR blow to a resurgent city.

Bush 41 in Richmond
Will Vehrs
President Bush the Elder was here in Richmond last night. He was

...the featured speaker at a benefit for the International Hospital for Children of Richmond.

Ticket sales and sponsorships for the event, patroned by the Rotary Club of South Richmond, raised $100,000 for IHC.

The nonprofit global network links children from developing countries needing critical surgery with medical services in the United States and other nations. The program also raised $70,000 for the Rotary Club's endowment fund.

Of course, such a benefit could not go forward without controversy.

Outside, before the event began at the Landmark Theater, protesters shouted, "Iraqi children need health care, not bombs!" Protesters said all children should have the opportunity for international health care.

"We don't think Bush's reasons for being here tonight are indicative of what he did while in office," said Carol Barker of a group calling itself Food Not Bombs. "We shouldn't limit this to just Western children."

Ms. Barker was apparently not asked about the money Saddam Hussein spends on bombs instead of on health care for Iraqi children.

Check out Blog Watch II
The PM edition of Blog Watch II is back along with a special expanded Saturday AM edition. Check out what your old favorites are saying and take a peek at some new voices.

QP Recaptures Caption Gold!
Will Vehrs
The championship of the Ipse Dixit caption contest has returned to its rightful place--The Refuge. Yours truly fended off a strong challenge from former champ "Rags" to reclaim the gold for QP. Of course, my personal victory was a bit tainted as another former champ, JulieC, boycotted the event due to the judging scandals of the last few contests ....

Caption Contest creator C. Dodd Harris IV is to be commended for keeping the competition alive while simultaneously studying for the bar exam. All of QP is rooting for you when you sit down for that tough test.

Friday, February 22, 2002
Update: Wiiliam Sulik has a very interesting citation from somebody who doesn't sound like today's Father Drinan. Drinan musta bumped his head on the steps leading up to the Capitol...

C-SPAN, Tony's Vice
Will Vehrs
Tony, others have all sorts of "the dog ate my blog" excuses for not posting. Almost invariably, you blame C-Span. There's something noble about that.

I agree with your disagreement with Father Drinan. What is it about the Father Drinans and Ramsey Clarks of the world? Once they saw something in US behavior that offended their moral sensibilities, they have been unwilling ever since to see anything but amoral behavior. It is as if they cannot bear to even claim that the US has learned from its mistakes or is trying to act with a balance of military action and humanitarian impulses. Their constant carping and tired refrain only marginalizes them.

Father Drinan isn't coming from left field. He's bellowing in the street behind the bleachers.

Whose Fault is C-SPAN?
Tony Adragna
Hey Will, guess what I've been doing? That's OK, though, because this afternoon's viewage gave me something to write about. I never thought I'd hafta go there with Father Drinan - C'est la guerre

I'm not gonna repeat any of it here - you gotta go read it. Here's a hint: this time 'tis not me who's coming From Left Field.

For Your Eyes Only
Tony & Will
OK ladies, y'all wanted to see pics of the QuasiPunditistas, well we've revealed ourselves. There's a bonus person in the pics, and you'll never guess who he is...


A Lota Ingredients
In The Pot
Tony Adragna
I guess I better get stirring!

I think both Glenn and Ben are right on Ivies v. W&M et al, and I think the trend that Glenn notes has more to do with why, as Ben notes, "the college name on the resume page is no longer as significant a factor..." What's happenning is that professionals are noting these citations in their professional work, just as Glenn is noting them in his academic work, and the ice is broken. But let us not kid ourselves - in the prestigious firms, the tendency is still to recruit from the Ivies.

Ben is definitely onto something, though. Among college applicants the non-Ivies are becoming more popular. I'm not sure if that is mostly due to lower tuitions (especially with recent tuition cuts), or some recognition that the education is just as good.

On corporate blogging Uhlman is correct. Unfortunately, and I'm speaking from experience, corporate Knowledge Managers can't make these types of things work. At Deloitte & Touche we used Lotus Notes (and some other web based products) for information sharing, and it worked reasonably well. The problem we ran up against wasn't technological, but human nature.

Information is valuable, and when you have something that nobody else has, the tendency is to hold it close. This is especially true when the information was developed on non-billable time - publishing it to the rest of the firm would be too much like working for free. We tried to overcome this by encouraging people to publish abstracts, then setting up a system where the work could be "purchased." I don't know where that intiative ended up, but I doubt that it's gone as far as expected.

These solutions work great for workgroup collaboration and corporate communications, but they're a Knowledge Manager's nightmare.

What did Stuart Taylor say? I believe that it was a toned down restatement of what Judge Mikva said. OK, Taylor takes a less polemic tone, but the themes are the same - the judiciary has become politicized, the Senate would be failing in its obligation if it didn't challenge controversial nominees with some form of a political litmus test, and Mr. Bush doesn't have the mandate to force the confirmation of his nominees. This isn't the first time we've been down this road - FDR tried the same thing. Taylor's recommendation is less academic than practical, but we'll just hafta wait 'n see...

Thursday, February 21, 2002
Friar Tony is Toasted
Tony Adragna
Hi Will!

There are some meds that are just to fun to not take - liquid codeine is my favourite (I especially like it over waffles). Other drugs just make me wanna sleep, and those are the one I've been taking soon as I get home... they're starting to kick in now.... I'll be staying home tomorrow, so expect some bloggage from me responding to all of your recent commentary...

I heard about Daniel Pearl's murder as I was leaving work. I just happened to be working at 1025 Connecticut Ave NW, the home of WSJ's Washington Bureau. The newsies were in abundance, which isn't unusual in DC, but we could tell that some especially troubling happening was about to be announced.
At about 5:11 PM Paul Steiger came out and delivered a statement calling Daniel Pearl's murder an "act of barbarism" - I can't improve on that....

A Plan for Advise and Consent
Will Vehrs
Tony, wherever you are, RonKSeattle, our dispatcher from afar, has forwared a provocative Stuart Taylor column on the judicial nomination of Charles Pickering in particular and the advise and consent of the Senate issue in general.

As you know, I have long railed against both Republicans and Democrats who have politicized the judicial process, running smear campaigns against nominees and delaying or denying votes. I have always wondered how this situation--used by the GOP against Clinton and now by the Democrats against Bush--might be ended. Taylor suggests a way--sort of a "make-up" of Clinton year excesses by Bush so that his nominees could get hearings and votes:

Democratic Senators would be justified, however, in temporarily blocking conservative Bush nominees to keep open vacancies that Senate Republicans unjustifiably prevented Clinton from filling, and in insisting that Bush either renominate the Clinton candidate (as he has done in one case) or choose someone else ideologically acceptable to Democrats.

It sounds like an acceptable compromise, but I suspect it's just an academic argument. That's a pity. Somebody has to blink on this stand-off. Don't hold your breath.

Daniel Pearl
Will Vehrs
Daniel Pearl's life and accomplishments will be remembered long after the barbarian scum who kidnapped and killed him are hunted down and, if there is any justice, sprayed with sustained automatic weapons fire.

The prayers of a numbed world go out to his wife and unborn child.

What If Enron Had a Blog?
Will Vehrs
Ever read something and it's not until a few days later that it really registers?

On February 17th, Walter Uhlman of Samizdata reported on a JP Morgan Chase Tech Industry Daily article on blogging. This quote is the one that took to time to register:

Blogging has some potential in a corporate context in support of knowledge management, workgroup collaboration, or corporate communications. But blogging will take time to find a home in the corporate environment. The key to its adoption will be to find one-to-many communication requirements where other tools like e-mail and Web pages aren't as effective. Blogging within corporations will probably follow the same route as instant messaging. IM started with kids and spread to adults as its effectiveness within corporations became evident.

Whoever wrote this is unaware of the "radical" nature of blogging. In its most successful form that I know of, the blog is the "fact check your ass" bane of conventional journalism. The speculation of this writer is based solely on standard "business tool" applications for blogs, as if they were just some new high priced software product. Put down the crack pipe, buddy! Blogs are a one truth-teller to many truth seekers tool, not some soft, fuzzy corporate image enhancer.

The real role of a blog in the corporate setting would be to "fact check the corporate asses." Blogs would be brave appeals like those of "Publius" during the Revolution. What if Enron had a blog? What if brave Enron employees with pseudonyms like Sam Houston and Davey Crockett dared to challenge Ken Lay's cheery admonition to buy more stock? What if Sherron Watkins gave information to the Enron blog, instead of just to Ken Lay? What if Enron stockholders read the blog? What if the boorish behavior of Skilling and Fastow was reported in a blog, leading someone to check if their ethical behavior was just as boorish? "Enronpundit" might have made a difference.

Every company or organization ought to have a courageous blogger who takes risks as an alternative to self-serving press releases, "official" information that filters down through the chain of command, and water cooler gossip. Strong managers should welcome the existence of such a communications vehicle. Sift through the easy to spot personal axes to grind and it would be an excellent way to gauge the real health of the organization and the real attitudes of employees. Good things would be praised, bad things panned. The ideas, alternatives, and opportunities that never got a hearing in the board room would get an airing. Real debates could take place, not kissing up to senior executives with the information they want to hear.

Blogs have much more potential than as just another communications tool for management or the HR folks to exploit.

Two Minute Drill
Will Vehrs
It's not about sports. Some might say that's almost Seinfeldian--not about much at all.

MIA or AWOL? I know it's always my day to watch him, but I don't know where my Quasi-brother Tony has gone. I'm just hoping he's not taken a turn for the worse with his grippe.

Another Gem Kathleen Parker has another great column, this time on Colin Powell's condom message. A teaser:

Make no mistake, the United States supports the Pope, the Church, the Temple, the Mosque, the family, Rome, Mecca, Medina, Israel and the West Bank, as well as abstinence, marriage and monogamy, in that order. However, if you're idiotic enough to have sex outside of wedlock, risking unwanted pregnancy, disease and probably doom, by all means, use a dadgum condom.

Compare Parker's style and message to Mesozoic Mary McGrory's message on essentially the same subject.

Just Wondering Why does an old political reporter like William Safire have to write about reforming SEC regulations on derivatives and hedge funds while an economics professor like Paul Krugman writes about how scandalous the politics are?

The Retarded Guy Did It I'm sorry, but I do not believe the Supreme Court should declare executing the mentally retarded to be unconstitutional. Mental retardation is still a subjective judgement and we have "mainstreamed" the retarded into society--a good thing, but one that should carry with it the same conditions as others in our society. A jury should be able to decide. The case the Supreme Court considered was a Virginia case that I have followed. The allegedly retarded defendant, Daryl Atkins, had an accomplice who testified against him. I am uncomfortable with two criminals indulging in a crime that results in capital murder where only one gets the death penalty. Atkins should not get the death penalty in this case, in my opinion. I know that is not the issue before the court.

Swap Papers Teachers in Richmond are glad the Supreme Court upheld students grading each other's papers:

"It gives them and me that immediate feedback," said Mary Yatsko, a Spanish teacher at Thomas Dale High School in Chesterfield County. "I can see who got what wrong, so I can do some immediate remediation and fix it."

Janet Hawkes, an algebra and trigonometry teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond, finds that her students can express ideas to their peers in teen-friendly language.

"As math teachers, we tend to think of everything in mathematical terms," Hawkes said. "Sometimes students understand terms but have a different way to examine them. They speak their own language."

A Robber Walks Into a Bar ... Here's a story of a local tavern's patron saving the bartender's life during a robbery. Samizdata will love the implications of the last line:

The robber, Joe Burns added, "is really lucky the guys didn't have a gun. He'd be in the morgue."

Advantage, Punditwatch! Today Bob Novak reports on Senator Fritz Hollings' misstatements on Face the Nation about Enron. Spinsanity reported them February 13th. Punditwatch reported them on February 10th, four hours after Hollings spoke.

Who's in the Barrel Today? Who will be the blogger in Fox Weblogs today? That is the cosmic question ....[UPDATE: It's Rand Simberg, Commandant of Space Cadets everywhere and I mean that in a sincere, positive way. He knows the science, history, and politics of space and I totally agree with his take on ex-noble astronaut, ignoble ex-Senator John Glenn.]

Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Glenn and Ben, Reinforcing My Prejudices
Will Vehrs
Tony, I've long been skeptical at the stranglehold Ivy League and other heralded colleges have on academic reputation and, by implication, learning. I've always believed that the prestigious colleges have no monopoly on outstanding scholarship, teaching, or facilities. Today's Glenn Reynolds TechCentral column and a short post by Ben Domenech (posting from my alma mater) reinforce my prejudice.

Glenn writes that technology has evened the playing field between the prestigious scholarly journals of the Ivies and the "lesser" journals of state schools or smaller universities and colleges. He describes how he now approaches his legal research, using technology, instead of dusty tomes:

...the first stop is the computerized Lexis and Westlaw databases, where articles are searched by keyword, and where results appear ranked (depending on which you use) either in reverse-chronological order or in alphabetical order by journal. And since you can view the section of the article where the search terms appear just by clicking your mouse, there's less incentive to look only at the most prestigious venues.

I believe that this has led me to cite more articles in comparatively obscure and un-prestigious journals than I used to, and colleagues I've spoken with say the same thing.

These citations are the currency that builds over time to increase recognition of individual scholars, departments, and universities. Those who are committed to excellence can make extraordinary inroads now on the turf formerly occupied by just a small elite.

Ben, blogging from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, notes another trend away from the Ivies:

It's true that I attend a so-called "Public Ivy," but for my money, the dominance of the Ivy League is faltering for reasons unrelated to the success of colleges like W&M. Instead, it's the burgeoning strength of state institutions and the explosion of in-state tuition scholarships in the South that have convinced college students to stay in their home state rather than opt for travel expenses and some extra state borders to separate them from their parents. The state institutions in Athens, Austin, Gainesville, Chapel Hill, and elsewhere don't just provide a solid education, but they do it at a significantly lessened cost to the in-state student. Why should anyone venture to the Northeastern brain trust, when they can get just as good an education closer to home for a better price? For today's student, the college name on the resume page is no longer as significant a factor toward your career as it was even 20 years ago. Whispering "Harvard" or "Yale" simply doesn't open a door for you that "UNC" or "Emory" won't.

I don't think things are as far along as Ben does, but it's getting there. I have nothing against the "Northeastern Brain Trust" except that I don't believe all wisdom is concentrated at any one school, or any group of schools. As the technology behind blogging has opened up journalism, so will technology help open up the possible sources of wisdom. For me, that's a good thing, and what "diversity" should really be about.

Punditwatch Was So Poor, He Had to Use Blogspot

The latest Print Punditwatch is up. Get down with the guys at Darrell's Barber Shop, feel pity for Ken Lay, ponder the history of the Progressive Movement, or donate to the Phillipine Navy. All that, and pundit specials, too.

Moira Debuts!

The "not to say disproportionate" Moira Breen has debuted on Fox Weblogs today. I love the quote from Miss Manners ....

Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Talking 'Bout Taxes
Tony Adragna
Josh makes an interesting point on tax havens:
[...]Mark A. Weinberger, chief of tax policy in the Treasury Department, said the moves to Bermuda and other tax havens showed that the American tax system might be driving companies to make such decisions.
Let's focus on the key line here: "the American tax system might be driving companies to make such decisions." This is the rich man's version of the argument which holds that inner-city hoodlums shouldn't be held to account for mugging old ladies because of limited job opportunities in the ghetto and persistent underfunding of Headstart .
I previously took a stab at this issue, and there are really two problems. One problem is the abuse of tax havens: not all activity in tax havens is questionable, but when the activity has as its primary purpose the avoidance of taxation, then we run afoul of the letter and spirit of the tax code. The second problem is a product of the first: consultants who give advice in structuring an activity so as it might be argued (before the IRS or in U.S. Tax Court) that there is compliance, when in fact the activity's sole purpose is tax avoidance.

I'm not going any further lest I slip up and use the E word...

Supremes Opt for Common Sense
Will Vehrs
Tony, that is going to be one important case tomorrow. I'll be covering George Will's take on it in tomorrow's Punditwatch. Do I need to tell you that I'm in favor of this particular voucher program?

The Supreme Court has just announced a 9-0 decision in the Oklahoma paper grading case. Teachers can allow students to grade each other's work. It's incredible that this case ever saw the light of a courthouse, much less the highest one in the land.

I doubt if Zelman v. Simmons-Harris will be anything but 5-4, whichever way it goes. They say Justice O'Connor is swayed by sad stories. The stories of these kids before vouchers are sad. She'll go for vouchers.

While You're Watching FOX Blogs...
Tony Adragna
... I'll be watching the Supreme Court!

The Cleveland school voucher case gets argued tomorrow, Will. Zelman v. Simmons-Harris is being described as "as significant as the landmark Brown v. Board of Education."(Clint Bollick, founder of Institute for Justice paraphrased in a news brief). I'll qualify my agreement with Mr. Bollick - he's only correct if the Court finds in favour of the petitioners. However, if the Court affirms the 6th Circuit opnion, then Mr. Bollick might want to revise his own opinion.

At issue is the Establishment Clause. You might ask what, if anything, the prohibition against state financing of religion has to do with school choice vouchers. Good question.

The Brief for Respondents makes a hard to follow case in arguing that the school voucher program has some constitutionaly impermissible effects. The questions presented (whether funding is "properly attributable to the state", advances religion "by creating a financial incentive to undertake religious indoctrination", or "confers a message of State endorsement"), if answered in the affirmative, definitely create problems for voucher programs. I simply don't feel comfortable with the way that respondents get to their answer.

It seems perfectly clear to me that the state designed a program with a broad scope of sectarian private, non-sectarian private, and public education options. There is a problem in that the non-sectarian and public education options haven't materialized, but that's a function of those schools deciding not to opt into the program (do I need to give a clue about why non-secatrian private schools aren't participating?). I'm not sure how to fix that problem, but I do know that it's unfair to blame the state (unless you believe that the state devised a program that would intentionaly be unattractive to certain schools).

The case is being argued tomorrow, and I'm sure we'll hear from Dahlia soon after...

p.s.: There is another argument against vouchers that has to do with state intrusion into religious institutions. That is, if the funds are going directly from the state to religious institutions, then the state might want to audit those institutions for compliance with program guidelines. Some religious organizations have filed briefs in support of the respondants (against the voucher program) on that basis.

Ken Layne's Rowdy Debut
Will Vehrs
Ken Layne is today's blogger and he's got a rollicking good column posted. Hurry and read it before a) his laptop gets repossessed, or, b) his office shack collapses.

Kathleen Parker, Underrated Gem
Will Vehrs
Last week I noted Maureen Dowd's NYT column on the predominance of distaff whistle blowers. I thought the column would lead to a flurry of copycat articles on the relative honesty of women versus men. Glenn Reynolds, no fan of Dowd, disagreed.

I think Glenn would approve of the Orlando Sentinel's Kathleen Parker. Here's a sample of her take on gender stereotyping:

Yet, Dowd wrote charmingly of women's superior evolution: "Only 10 years after Mattel put out Teen Talk Barbie whining 'Math class is tough,' we have women unearthing the Rosetta stone of this indecipherable scandal."

Translation: Women smart now. Men still dumb and bad. Except in case of fire or hijackings, then men useful. If expendable.

Certainly the woman, Sherron Watkins, who blew the whistle on Enron execs is more ethical than Kenneth Lay seems to be. But is she more ethical than millions of other men who would have done the same thing under the circumstances? And does Fortune reporter Bethany McLean walk a higher moral plane than, say, journalists Andrew Sullivan or Jonah Goldberg (two of my personal faves) simply because she got wind of the story first?

Such silliness explains nothing except why John Gray is rich and I'm not. For those who think a self-help book refers to the Yellow Pages, Gray is the author of the inexplicably successful Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, in which Gray explores the different ways men and women think and communicate. Even as we bicker over who suffers more, who loves more, who nurtures more and, in my case, who cares less, Gray is on tour with his latest, Mars and Venus in the Workplace.

I think Kathleen Parker is one of the best columnists out there who isn't syndicated to the WP or NYT. She's got a nice web site and answered a long-ago email I sent her quickly and very graciously.

Her latest column is worth a look, too. Another sample:

This hot flash just in: The NAACP, undistracted by such serious African-American problems as, for example, a 70 percent out-of-wedlock birth rate, is still obsessing about the Confederate flag in South Carolina. As a resident of the state the past 14 years, as well as a lifelong visitor, I feel justified in remarking on the latest turn in this endless, increasingly comical debate.

After years of demanding that the flag be removed from the statehouse dome (it's down); and now weeks of bickering over whether the flag should be of cotton or nylon (the latter being lighter and therefore more likely to unfurl), and apparently finding nothing better to do, the NAACP is promising to use border patrols (no joke) to discourage visitors from coming to S.C.

One of these days, Punditwatch is going to expand to include gems like Kathleen Parker.

Monday, February 18, 2002

Breaking News

In a sign of the times, FOX NEWS has decided to feature content from the blogosphere. The QP's own Will Vehrs' has had his Punditwatch column picked up by

Asked for his reaction, QP founder and co-host Tony Adragna said, "Hey, I love it. Kudos to Will!"

Hook Up an IV to that Chicken Soup!
Will Vehrs
Sorry to hear you're under the weather, Tony. It must have just been your turn in the barrel. Everybody seems to be getting some disgusting ailment. Hopefully that chicken soup will work its tradition-laden magic.

I'll always enjoy your travelogues, not having spanned the globe myself much. Bermuda, Canada, Germany, England, and the Netherlands is about it for my international travels. The best view I got was marching 100 miles in four days through the Netherlands. I think I still have blisters from that. Here's someone who did the same thing, although much more recently.

I've Got A Gripe!
Tony Adragna
Excuse me, I mean: I got the grippe. Been in bed most of the weekend watching Booknotes deal with The Presidents. They re-aired the Diane Rehm episode with my favourite president - Mr. Carter (who in Jan '01 declared that despite his problems with The Court's decision, Mr. Bush is the legitimate president - my radical friends need to get over it)...

I guess I take such a vigilant stand on "the risks of sex" because I'm so close to so many tragic stories. Of course you can reduce you're exposure to risk, but my point is that unless you're absolutely sure about you're partner, then unprotected sex is unsafe. As a general rule, if your going to have sex, then do everything possible to reduce your risks. Only having sex inside of long-term stable relationships, which implies suficent knowledge of your partner that you develope a level of surety, is one way to do that. But, there's no guarantee...

RonK has some copy for us. Comparing his previous notes to current developments, it looks like Ron is on target. I can't help but note his sense of satire:
(Speaking of SPV's, scuttlebutt around Camp Enron says DOD is field testing a ruggedized all-terrain amphibious version of the Enron SPV for high-risk operations. On background, one source notes "If we only had these babies back in the day, we'd still own Havana, the Philippines, and the Panama Canal.")
Well, the roasted chicken is done - William is gonna eat the meat, and I'm fixin' to throw the carcas in a pot - chicken soup is da best...

Glad you appreciate me sharing experiences from my travels - I been around a bit...

Don't know if I'm gonna get any "watching" done tonight, but I'll try...

p.s.: See, I'm not thinking very clearly, I totally forgot the other interview that I wanted to mention. Booknotes also re-aired Brian Lamb's '91 interview with Richard Nixon. I never thought that I would use the words "admire" and "Nixon" in the same sentence - I trace my admiration for Mr. Nixon back to '91 when I first saw that interview. The man had some strange ideas that come across in the interview, but putting aside politics (and Watergate), I think history is going to be very kind to Mr. Nixon...

President's Day
Will Vehrs
Happy President's Day, Tony. Will it be shopping or pondering the rich legacy of US Presidents?

You are quite the Renaissance Man, with consecutive posts on condoms and the Cochin Synagogue. Where else in Blogland can one find that kind of variety? The picture is breathtaking and I can well imagine how experiencing it would leave a lasting impression.

On the more mundane subject of condoms, I am largely in agreement with you and General Powell. I don't think Powell needed to take what appeared to be a "shot" at conservatives because I suspect that is what stirred the ruckus--he was addressing an MTV audience, not the Moral Majority. He was speaking extemporaneously and he probably does have issues with those conservatives who ignore the reality of what is needed once abstinence breaks down. He seemed to put everything right in his appearance on Meet the Press.

I hear what you're saying about the potential lack of safety even within marriage, Tony, but I don't see it as starkly as you do. Sexual relations with drug users is the most dangerous behavior and probably the biggest threat. Lots of people, as couples and as individuals, studiously avoid that segment of the population and I don't think they should have to live their married lives guarding against that level of risk.

Memories of India
Tony Adragna
I'm feeling a bit of nostalgia, Will. Kathy points to an item at the Kolkata Libertarian (third in a series), that examines historical ties between Jews and Hindus. One of the Jewish communities in India that Suman references is in Cochin.

I visited Cochin in late 1987 while on my way back from the North Arabian Sea. One site that our guide recommended as a must see was the old synagogue (we we're told that it's the oldest in India).

Cochin Synagogue

I found more photos of Cochin's Jewish Quarter - B&W, but still worth a look. One of the photos documents "the last Paradesi to wed at the Synagogue" - that was 1978. By the time that I visited Cochin there weren't enough male Jews to form a quorum for synagogue services. Visiting the synagogue was a truly spiritual experience for me, heightened by a sense of saddness (if that makes sense) over the death of this community.

Afterwards we went across the harbour to visit the site of de Gama's burial - an old Catholic church that isn't a church anymore. But my mind kept drifting back to the splendour of that old synagogue...

Sunday, February 17, 2002
Conservatives and Condoms
Tony Adragna
Will, I know that one of the "issues" you're covering in today's PunditWatch is Sec. Powell's comments on condoms. I was happy to hear that he made those comments, and saddened by the comments, based on an unrealistic stand, made by some conservatives in response.

While I agree that the only 100% guarantee against STDs is abstinance, that's not a practical solution. Powell's message was very clear - it wasn't a condemnation of abstinance, but an admission that sex is going to happen despite what we teach kids about abstinence. The least we ought do is teach kids about safe sex.

Of course, that runs up against one of the "taboos" that Powell referenced. I was disappointed in his backtracking this morning - clarifying that he was talking about "cultural taboos" against condom usage in foreign countries ( African countries). I think that the same point holds here in the U.S., and I believe that Powell meant to address his remarks to our own "cultural conservatives", too.

The great untruth in this abstinence debate is that sex in marriage is somehow safer than pre-marital sex. Sure, there is a higher rate of STD transmission in out-of-wedlock sex, but married couples who practice unsafe sex are just as at risk.

I won't engage in the morality debate, where there is an argueable distinction between pre-marital and married sex. This moral distinction, however, has nothng to do with the mechanics of sex: safe or unsafe.

[written prior to Will posting PunditWatch - Tony]

Update: It's been suggested to me that my argument with respect to married couples may be flawed - if both partners have abstained prior to marriage, then there's no risk. I suggest in reply that anyone taking on faith that your partner is free of anything that might be sexualy transmitted, and engaging in sex on that belief, is in fact conducting an unsafe practice.

In God we trust, everybody else gets tested...

Exit Samizdata, Click on Punditwatch
Will Vehrs
Ok, folks, staring at Natalija's picture isn't going to get you invited to the next Croatian Gothapalooza. TV Punditwatch has been posted. Read about the pundit who wasn't there, courageous reporting by This Week, and the long-awaited unmasking of "the man in the yellow tie." There is one mention of "sex." See if you can find it.