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Saturday, March 09, 2002

Which Bitch Made Him Do It?

Tony Adragna
Colbert raises some interesting points in his column today, Will. And, he clues into why Barry has a pretty good chance of winning. Barry has had a very interesting career.

Anybody who thinks that Barry doesn't have a chance ought to remember that even after his conviction he came back and won a council seat, and the mayor's office. His absence from elective office since 1998 has, as anyone who knows anything about DC politics will tell you, nothing at all to do with inability to win an election -- something he would have no trouble doing -- and everything to do with his own decision not to seek another term. As noted at the time:
Nonetheless, Barry can say he went out on top: A Washington Post survey conducted this month shows him with a commanding 2 to 1 lead over his rivals and a much more committed base of support.
His prospects for another term were so good that the other three Democratic candidates suspended their campaigns while waiting for Barry to get off the pot.

Now, I've heard people from other places ask, "How does Barry do it?" The answer is obvious - he's a populist who doesn't just speak to what The People want, but actually works toward giving them what they want. How he goes about delivering on his promises -- he's an unashamed believer in socialist type government programs -- is questionable. But, at election time people only remember that Barry did his best to take care of them. Never mind the old lesson about how teaching a man to fish is preferred to just giving him a fish -- right now I'm gettin' fed, and I ain't gonna bite that hand.

And don't think that times have changed enough that Barry's old agenda has no currency. There's a whole host of issues -- school vouchers (school reform in gerneral), youth employment, development in economically depressed neighborhoods, etc. -- on which Barry gets much traction.

I wouldn't be surprised if Barry also has a reprise of services at DC General Hospital on his plate.

Of course, the answer to my question is supplied by Colbert: Barry's doing it 'cause he wants to, just like the last time...

Saturday Morning Offerings

Will Vehrs
Check out the Saturday edition of Print Punditwatch and Blog Watch II.

Congratulations to JulieC, winner of the Ipse Dixit caption contest. Once again, she bested yours truly, but she benefited from the absence of "Rags" and one shot wonder Dan Dickinson. Another contest is awaiting your entries.

Ipse Dixit also has an interesting list contest going--what five songs could you never tire of? Here's my list, even though I have way more than five:

Thunder Road Bruce Springsteen

Running on Empty Jackson Browne

Jokerman Bob Dylan

In Dreams Roy Orbison

Poncho and Lefty Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Send your list in!

Friday, March 08, 2002

Political Parallels

Tony Adragna
That Novak column is interesting, Will – not for what it says about why Riordan lost, but for what it says about why Simon might have a better shot a Davis than it might appear. The clue comes in Novak’s final graf:
Champagne corks are popping in the governor's office, but Democratic consultant Joe Cerrell remembers 1966 when his party's establishment undermined San Francisco's moderate Republican Mayor George Christopher to permit a clear shot at an ''easily beatable'' conservative: Ronald Reagan. Cerrell tentatively views Simon as another probable loser, but adds: ''His momentum could propel him all the way, and that makes me worried.''
I was but a wee one year old when Mr. Reagan won that election, but a quick mental review of what lessons I learned in school prompted me to take a look at what impact the circumstances of those times might have had on the election. I found a NYT excerpt from Matthew Dallek’s The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan's First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics 9the sample pages are worth a read, too):
In the mid-1960s revolution was in the air. Leaders of the New Left spoke of revolt against the Establishment; leaders of the Far Right echoed them in talk of toppling the liberal order. Media images were filled with violence: frightened National Guardsmen brandished fixed bayonets in Watts, where burned-out buildings lay in ruin; angry activists marched on military bases; protests erupted against segregated hotels and businesses; students turned out by the thousands to fight for free speech on campus; anticommunist leaders held rallies and workshops to teach people how to defend their homes and schools against the red menace. This was a time of stark contrasts, nowhere more so than in California. The much-discussed New Left activists of the '60s were offset by an equally impassioned group on the other side. For every organizer from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) there was a John Birch activist; for every civil rights marcher there was an anticommunist rally-goer; for every antiwar protester there were several more who sympathized with American aims in Vietnam.
Seems an era that was rife with all of the excesses of radical liberalism, and ripe for the message of a social conservative. Are we at a parallel point?

I don’t think we are. There are some strains, though less virulent, of the old anti-war, anti-US sentiment. But, to read some of the commentary, especially the rantings a certain individual whom I hold in high regard, you would think that we’re on the verge of reprising the radicalism of the ‘60s. Is there an ulterior motive?

Maybe so -- it’s no secret that the more conservative wing of the GOP has been trying for awhile to sell a more-to-their-liking candidate, and they may be getting ready to ring up a sale – if California’s buying, that is.So what if Gray Davis isn’t a radical – the idea that the radicals, the moral decay, the John Walker Lindh’s, are the result of defunct liberal government, just might be an item that everybody is ready to buy, if properly presented.

I think that if the GOP wants to push Simon to the top in California, they hafta play the radical card.

p.s. Gimme some time to decide where I come down on steel tariffs. I think that they actually do more harm than good to our domestic steel industry, but I haven’t really looked at whether the specifics cited against foreign steel makers have any merit, or are just the finger-pointing of a perpetually failing U.S. steel industry (I lean toward the later).

Piling On Steel

Will Vehrs
Tony, I'm going to pass on another Daschle war comments discussion in favor of a more recent controversy. Everybody is piling on President Bush for his decision on steel tariffs; the latest is our favorite oppressor, Tim Blair, writing for

I'm a free trader and I wish Bush had not imposed tariffs. I'm also a realist. Congress is narrowly divided. The last presidential election was extremely close. Bush won West Virginia, but he lost Pennsylvania by a small margin. If he can keep WV and pick up PA, his prospects are good for 2004. If he can hold or pick up some Congressional seats for Republicans, he can better control the agenda. Trade is a big, amorphous issue for the American public. I suspect most Americans are for free trade except when presented with an example of an American industry going down the tubes due to foreign competition. Then they probably side with the American industry and "helping them."

As Glenn Reynolds points out, opinion leaders are outraged by the steel tariffs, but the public at large has no idea or doesn't care. Politically, steel tariffs are probably a political plus. It's not pretty, but politics rarely is. As for the comparisons with Clinton's "principled" stand on free trade and decision to not grant relief to the steel industry, let's remember that Clinton-Gore thought they could take WVA for granted and were ahead in PA, so their political calculus was much different than Bush's.

I just hope that the tariffs are indeed temporary and that the steel industry does do what it takes to compete against the world.

One anecdote from my recent personal experience. I was called on to help a scrap metal recycler in my state who was in trouble. Cheap steel imports were hurting his business and that of scores of other scrap dealers--it is American mills that buy scrap metal and recycle it into their products, not the foreign steelmakers. When US steel companies are not buying scrap metal, more of that metal goes into landfills, never to recovered and reused. I spoke to my contact at the scrap company yesterday and he is cautiously optimistic that the tariffs and the economic upturn will help his business. He won't know until July. Those who profess to be environmentalists ought to consider the recycling aspect of Bush's decision.

Pundits Attack Blogosphere Sacred Cows!

Will Vehrs
Tony, I fully expect the slumbering Blog World to rise up in righteous indignation as Ayn Rand and gun ownership are attacked by major pundits this morning. It's all in Print Punditwatch.

I also got the AM edition of Blog Watch II up before it would have been another PM edition.

Defending Daschle...

Tony Adragna
I've given some though to whether or not I would do this -- I don't particularly look forward to being likewise labeled -- but I just gotta.

What did Daschle say that was all that critical? Sure, he defended The Insufferable Old Man, but to read the Daschle Defamers (should I start a Daschle Anti-Defamation League) you would think that Daschle made those very comments himself. 'Bout the only thing Daschle said that might be open to criticism is his insistance that we won't have broken al Qaeda unless we catch bin Laden & Omar.

We, correctly in my opinion, don't want to define victory against terrorism -- the endpoint -- as having caught these two figures. The war is about going after and quashing global terrorist networks, not specific individuals. But, it seems perfectly clear to me that the capture of bin Laden & Omar, or the verification of their deaths, is a milestone which can't be skirted. So long as those two are walking free, they do pose a danger. We should pursue these guys just like the Israelis pursued Nazis.

But, there's also a broader policy question that needs be addressed. It's not sufficient to simply say, "Well, we're gonna fight terrorism where ever we find it." I agree with the sentiment, but congress has to have something better than that in order to fulfill its constitutional obligations - unless that administration wants a blank cheque, which congress was careful not to give (remember how there was much talk of the Tonkin Resolution around the time that congress approved the resolution authorizing current action? - they explicity didn't wanna go there again).

The administration is obviously going to have a hard time giving congress something specific on fighting terrorism - that fight is ad hoc per se ('tis not a set piece engagement: you gotta deal with terrorists as they're detected). However, there are some scenarios which are under consideration, and to the extent that there may be some info the administration can give congress, it ought to.

Most importantly, Daschle explicitly made clear his support of current action, and never said that he wouldn't support some future action. All he said was: Tell me what you're gonna do so's we can do what we gotta do.

... and Burning Down Another Strawman

To top off the nastiness of the Daschle Defamation, the conservative rag that I love to hate, The Washington Times, ran a story recently (which I can't find a link to) making it sound as if Daschle had all of a sudden decided to support the war when confronted with casualties in the field. The writer made a big deal of Daschle saying "today" he supports the President, asserting by implication that the day before Daschle was not in support of the Presidnet. What TWT left out is that Daschle had previously used similar language --"to date" -- meaning: as of this date, I'm still in support.

Seems to me that what I've always observed about TWT -- that its reportage is blatantly full of editorializing (as opposed to at least an attempt at fairness from the WaPo - though bias still intrudes) -- is irrefutable.

[Update 12:13 PM - Here's the Washington Times Story. Don't remember where I read the "today" language, but the point I'm making still holds:
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who last week criticized President Bush for the direction of the war in Afghanistan, is now praising the president's leadership.

In a resolution, Mr. Daschle declares that the Senate "stands united with the president in the ongoing effort to destroy al Qaeda." He also offers condolences to the families of U.S. troops killed in action.
The about-face, initiated by Mr. Daschle's office after eight U.S. troops were killed in combat this weekend, follows the storm of protest he raised last week by calling into question the direction and success of the war.
I'll reiterate: Daschle never criticized the conduct of the war in Afganistan. What he said is very much the opposite: "I don't think it would do anybody any good to second-guess what has been done to date. I think it has been successful." What is he claiming to have been successful? The action in Afghanistan (what else?). Who does he not want to second guess? The President (who else?). Those comments were made on Feb 28. So, where's this "about face"?...]

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Quasi-Prediction Watch

Yours Truly
Hey Will – I did it again!

Maybe I am prescient, though I prefer to think that I’m merely intuitive and perceptive. And it’s very much those qualities upon which I counted when I predicted the outcome on the “Stimulus” debate:
“Relief” will pass easily sometime early in the year […] the relief will take the form of tax breaks and government spending.[emphasis original - eds]
So, imagine my glee when I read that House GOP relented, opting for a plan that:
[…]provide[s] as much as 13 weeks of extra unemployment benefits to hundreds of thousands of Americans. It also calls for $43 billion in tax breaks designed to stimulate investment, a proposal with considerable bipartisan support.
But, I had to say to myself, “Self! It isn’t done yet! will they meet my deadline?”

Well, I got into the office, pulled up the story online (preparatory to commenting here), and lo & behold, I see a a link to a related story headlined, House Passes Economic Stimulus Bill (by an almost unheard of margin on like matters: 417 - 3) - never mind the misleading headline: the stimulus is aimed mostly at countering adverse impacts from the slowdown (rather than a broader long-term economic policy initiative), and so I call it relief.

And the news gets even better! Ya know, there usually are minor differences what gotta get worked out in conference – it can’t be that the House version will track the Senate version so closely as to make conferencing not necessary (can it? On non-controversial measures, yes, but on items such as this, usually no). Certainly there are minor divergences in the two versions (don’t know what they are as I haven’t bounced one off the other), but Daschle has telegraphed that there may be no need for conference: if the Senate takes up the House version and passes it with no amendments, then it’s a done deal!

My question for you, Will (since it be your forte): How bodes this for the parties vis a vis the current election cycle?

p.s.: On a bit of election cycle news that ought have been a no-brainer, I'm curious as to why Condit's loss at the polls is news - seems to me that's another one that I would characterize as something a highschool social studies class coulda figured out...

Will's Take

Tony, I think this is proof that the politicians think the recession is essentially over, so it's in both parties' interests to pass something innoculating them from a "do-nothing" charge in the fall. That means this election cycle will not be about blame for the recession, but ancillary economic issues like social security, deficit spending, and healthcare. Democrats will scream that Republicans want to take social security away; Republicans will scream that Democrats are insufficiently bellicose to be trusted in the War on Terror. With loads of soon to be outlawed soft money available for ads, that does not bode well for a high-minded campaign season. We've already seen what candidates with lots of money, e.g. Gray Davis, will do with it.

Oh, and I predicted your prediction would be right ....

Clean Sweep at Punditwatch

Today's Print Punditwatch features a first--every pundit covered today makes the recommended reading list. Check it out for the summaries.

Blog Watch II is back. With Joanne Jacobs vacationing in England, the squabbling Spinsters are a provocative replacement in the AM line-up.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Tony's Brutal Honesty

Will Vehrs
Don't be sorry, Tony. Just hope that shutting up when you don't have anything to say doesn't catch on in the Blogosphere ....

When's A Good Time
To Shut Up?...

Tony Adragna
... When you don't have a thing to say!

Sorry, Will, but that's it for me! I'll try really hard to have something to say tomorrow!

Where is Everybody?

Will Vehrs
I'm back from a business trip and a brief skirmish with the American legal system. I've posted today's Print Punditwatch. Better late than never ...

Thanks for finding that obscure link in Spinsanity, Tony. I notice your Imhofe piece got quite a few links.

I was interested in Blogdom's reaction to Bill Simon's primary victory in California. I accept all the conventional wisdom about the Republican Party in California and how Riordan probably--on paper--would have been the strongest candidate. But while I'm not ready to annoint Simon as the next Ronald Reagan, I wouldn't write him off yet. A poll I saw had him ahead of incumbent Gov. Gray Davis, within the margin of error. Simon might be another in a long line of hapless GOP candidates, but who knows? He might get the right advisors and run a smart campaign. He might not have "dirt" in his background. He bears watching before he's prematurely buried.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Is PunditWatch A Source?

Tony Adragna
You betcha it is! In a sign that PunditWatch is viewed as a good, non-partisan wrap up of the punditry, and in addition to PW's being picked up by, now the folks at Spinsanity are citing PW a a source -read their latest at Salon, but you hafta look under the "condemned" link...

Inhofe’s Idiocy

It has been noted by several readers, responding to my refutation of Inhofe, that Inhofe was correct in stating that there has never been a Palestinian state. I don't challenge that fact now, as I didn't in the text above. My challenge is to Inhofe's assertion that all the land had been set aside by the British as a Jewish state, and that by implication no land had ever been set aside for a Palestinian state. Both parts of the statement are at face value false, as I shall endeavour to prove.

The British Mandate set-aside:
The Basis for Inhofe’s statement can only be the Balfour Declaration November 2, 1917, which says the following:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."[emphasis ed’s]
This “national home” language might be viewed as British support for the carving out of a Jewish state in Palestine, but that just happens to b not the case. A 1922 British “White Paper” makes very clear the British policy intent “that the status of all citizens of Palestine in the eyes of the law shall be Palestinian, and it has never been intended that they, or any section of them, should possess any other juridical status.” The document goes on to say:
During the last two or three generations the Jews have recreated in Palestine a community, now numbering 80,000, of whom about one fourth are farmers or workers upon the land. This community has its own political organs; an elected assembly for the direction of its domestic concerns; elected councils in the towns; and an organization for the control of its schools. It has its elected Chief Rabbinate and Rabbinical Council for the direction of its religious affairs. Its business is conducted in Hebrew as a vernacular language, and a Hebrew Press serves its needs. It has its distinctive intellectual life and displays considerable economic activity. This community, then, with its town and country population, its political, religious, and social organizations, its own language, its own customs, its own life, has in fact "national" characteristics. When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride. But in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on the sufferance. That is the reason why it is necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should be formally recognized to rest upon ancient historic connection.[emphasis ed’s]
It might still be argued that British intent was to allow the establishment of Jewish state, but it can’t be argued that the British set-aside would have included all of Palestine, as the policy statement makes perfectly clear that British intent was counter to the creation of a Jewish nation in “Palestine as a whole”.

Further, British policy was not only unsupportive of a Jewish nation, but was also very restrictive of Jewish immigration into Palestine.
The Implication:
Inhofe implies through the fallacious “set-aside” argument that Palestinian claims were never equally recognized. What Inhofe ignores is that there is in fact a valid set-aside argument to be made, but it can't be made without recognizing legitimate Arab claims. UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which terminated the British Mandate (at Britian’s request) did set aside, at Part IIA, territory to be included in an Arab state in Palestine. At Part IIB the document sets aside territory to be included in a Jewish state in Palestine.

Oh, but this is some silly UN document – doesn’t mean a damned thing (I can here y’all through the blogosphere: calm down, I’m inclined to agree). I, too, would tend to dismiss this document as irrelevant, but for the fact that the Declaration of Israel’s Independence (1948) cites 181 as “[…]recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent State…” Of course, in the same passage, Israel cites “the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own sovereign State”, a statement with which I have no disagreement. But, those same points of argument – a reliance on international recognition vis a vis the UN, and self-evident rights – should also hold for arguments in favour of an Arab state in Palestine. While I don’t believe that the argument is justification for Palestinian terrorists – I don’t believe that there is any justification for terrorism – it does, nevertheless, recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian Arab claims to an Arab state in Palestine.

However, that an Arab state does not, and never has, existed in Palestine, or whether a legitimate argument can be made for the establishment of an Arab state in Palestine, is irrelevant to my refutation of Inhofe – there was, in fact, land set aside for an Arab state in Palestine at the same time as the establishment of an actual set-aside for a Jewish nation.
Might I consider Inhofe refuted? You be the judge!

[Update: Sen. Inhofe's March 4, 2002 Floor Statement on Peace in the Middle East is now on his Senate website.

Real Life Intrudes

Will Vehrs
I've posted the AM edition of Blog Watch II and today's Print Punditwatch. I must now attend to matters in my 3-D world. I'll be back Thursday morning with more Blog and Pundit Watching, and maybe even a riposte or two aimed at Tony.

Monday, March 04, 2002

Maddening Madden

Tony Adragna
Finally! I've found somebody who appreciates Coach Madden as much as I do (nobody apreciates him more than I do). I've revised my opinion of William & Mary undergrads after reading Ben's theologically compelled defense of Madden:
While I've only been watching football for half of Madden's booth career, I've grown to love the old guy--not so much for his insights during the gameplay, which aren't anything special. Instead, I adore him as much for his bold tangentiality as I do for his six-drumstick Thanksgiving turkey. Madden is to the NFL what Dickie V is to College Hoops; he's not going to give you special in-depth reports, but he's just the kind of guy you want sitting on the couch while you're watching the game (though he'd have to bring his own conqueso dip, cause I don't think I could make enough). His senile jokes are exactly what I want to hear; his references to the olden days of football are made with loving care. Criticizing him is like criticizing Russ Hodges or Harry Caray.
Hey, I'd make John all the conqueso dip he could eat, if only I could get him to come over. I was a Raiders fan way back when, before, well , y'all know what happened...

Middle East Problems Aren't About Terrorism,
They're About Doing God's Will

Tony Adragna
For the love of God, Will, I've about had it with religious fundamentalists of all stripes.

Listening to Sen. Inhofe speaking on the Senate floor this evening, I heard him speak a phrase that drew my attention: This is why God pulled his mantle from us. He was, of course, resurrecting language used previously in just as offensive a manner. His argument was basicaly this - we caused God to remove the mantle as a result of our urging restraint on the Israelis. So, it's back to "God let this happen to us for disobeying his word". Will somebody please explain to these people that God neither directs the hands of terrorists nor does God look with indifference on the deaths of innocents.

Sen. Inhofe then launches in a fit of nonsense in explaining why Israel shouldn't give up any land. I'll give you a few of his reasons:
Acheological evidence: every new dig in the region turns up evidence that the Jews have been in the area for 3000+ years.

The British Promise: Inhofe cites a British set-aside (remember the British Mandate?) giving all the land in question, including the territory currently occupied by Jordan, to the Jews.

The Bible: God gave Israel to the Jews, and that's that.
Reason one is a fact that supports an Israeli claim to an Historic Homeland, but it doesn't disprove any other claims. Muslims have been in the region for at least 1400 years - that's over twice as long as Europeans have been in the New World: would Inhofe support a claim by Native Americans that we Europeans have no right to be here?

Inhofe gets to number two through an incredible feat of historical amnesia. He commits two errors in the process. Inhofe asserts that there was never any land set-aside for Palestinians. Fact: at the end of WWII the British turned the Palestine (for that is how the region was called) problem over to the UN, which resolved the issue by dividing the land into a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. He also asserts that the the Arabs were unhappy with the Jewish state, but makes no mention of the fact that there was at the same time Jews who were just as unhappy about the deal, and engaged in terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

I support Israel's right to self-defense, but there's plenty enough justification for the fight against Paletinian terrorists, and the Arab states that support them, without needing to revise history.

The final reason which Inhofe did recite as his last and most important reason, is utterly dumbstriking. I couldn't believe that he went there! I have no problem with a person stating strongly held beliefs, not even from the floor of the U.S. Senate. But, I would prefer that an elected representative of our upper chamber might have something of value to add on such an important question of foreign policy -- especially when people are being done to death over the issues -- other than: Amen .

Ooops! I'm beating up on a Christian! Damn right I am - and I'll continue to beat up on people who make particularly stupid argument: why should I have criticism only for [militant] fundamentalist Muslims and extremist Jews?

[Inhofe's statement of this evening is not yet online at his Senate website, but it draws on and goes beyond his statement of Dec 4, 2001]

[Update: For more on why Inhofe is just plain ol' wrong, see Inhofe's Idiocy, my more detailed take-down of his fallacious argument]

Saddam v. Security

Tony Adragna
G’day, Will! Thanks for pointing me toward Safire’s column, which makes infinitely more sense than Jessica Matthews’ ”The Wrong Target”:
The number one problem in Iraq is not Saddam Hussein but his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Without them he is dangerous and despicable but not a threat remotely worthy of American intervention. This truth has a huge bearing on policy that has been largely ignored. It means that rather than seeking to oust Saddam Hussein from power, the U.S. goal ought to be to thwart his continuing attempt to acquire these weapons. The inability to make a clear choice between these two aims was the Clinton administration's costliest foreign policy error. The Bush administration seems prepared to make a choice -- but the wrong one.
She goes on to note, “The choice matters enormously because the two goals -- regime change and nonproliferation -- are not, as so many assume, complementary. In important respects they conflict.”(emphasis added) What Jessica forgets, as most proponents of edentulous inspection regimes do, is that we’ve been on this path toward “thwart[ing] his continuing attempt to acquire these weapons “ since the end of the Persian Gulf War – to no avail.

We might do more to keep Saddam from obtaining technology and resources from other states, but will that stop Saddam’s program? Not hardly – one former investigator into Iraq’s nuclear weapons program debunked the myth that the Iraqi program is fundamentally dependent on foreign sources. To the contrary, the Iraqi WMD program is indigenous, and very capable.

The biggest problem with Jessica’s argument is that she sets up a false separation between the two goals - regime change and frustrating Saddam’s drive for weapons of mass destruction. In reality, you can’t have one without the other. Recalling the testimony of former UNSCOM inspectors it becomes quite evident that inspection regimes just don’t work. Saddam knows how to defeat detection, and even when inspectors make a find Saddam simply reverts to force of arms to prevent access – in the words of the inspector cited above, “I had the honor of spending four days in a parking lot as a ‘guest’…” Unless Saddam cooperates, you can’t have effective inspections; Saddam isn’t going to cooperate with an effective inspection regime (evidenced by prior experience); establishing an effective inspection regime requires the removal of Saddam.

Punditwatch Talks to Howard Kurtz

Will Vehrs
Howard Kurtz was on-line today on the Washington Post website, so I thought I'd ask him a few questions. He took one, and here's the exchange:

Midlothian, Va.: Did you notice any changes in the pundits over the weekend after the Galaris article you cited last week took them to task? Liberal Media Conspiracy Falls Flat (Post, Feb. 28, 2002)

Howard Kurtz: None. Zero. Many, not surprisingly, reject the Washington Monthly theory that the conservative press is totally partisan while the mainstream press at least tries to be fair.

Sunday, March 03, 2002

Separating the Wheat From the Chaff

Will Vehrs
Alas, Tony, I can't put everything in Punditwatch. Thank goodness you are around to find the gems that I left on the cutting room floor.

Let me join you in welcoming the excellent David Garver. I hear somebody else is about to launch. Do we need "smart growth" for blogs? Is there blog "sprawl?"

"Marching Through Georgia"

Tony Adragna
QP sends out a hearty welcome to Acerbic.Press, founded by regular QP reader and Refugee David Garger. Here's an example:
Speaking off the record, a highly placed source in the Department of Defense said that some "out of the box thinking" had allowed them to conceive a bold new plan to help our Georgian ally.

According to the source, General William T. Sherman will be brought out of retirment and tasked to head a force of soldiers which will be provided by Private Military Companies.[...]"This plan includes two bold elements. The first, obviously, is bringing General Sherman, who was last on active duty during the last decades of the 19th century, back from his well deserved retirement. While he was understandably reluctant to return to active duty after his many years out of service, we were able to convince him that his previous experience in fighting rebels in Georgia made him an ideal candidate for this responsibility, and he is well aware that this is a time when all Americans must rise to the challenges facing us."
Great stuff!

Going To Wal-mart

Tony Adragna
Once again, Will, I gotta call you on an omission: George Will's commentary.

I loved the juxtaposition of Wal-mart & Enron - one selling 100,000 common everyday items that anybody might want, the other selling convoluted schemes that are too complicated for even the buyers to truly understand. Wal-mart is the classic Old Economy company with something to sell. Enron was the strerotypical New Economy corporation always needing to sell itself - what else do they have to sell?

And how 'bout George pulling Warren Buffet outta his hat. In the Berkshire Hathaway chairman's 2000 letter to shareholders he wrote:
I will detail our purchases in the next section of the report. But I will tell you now that we have embraced the 21st century by entering such cutting-edge industries as brick, carpet, insulation and paint. Try to control your excitement.(emphasis added)
George called Buffet "droll" - if I have a choice between droll common sense and a flashy sales pitch, I'll take droll any day.

Didn't watch BookTV today. Instead, I watched the re-air of Tuesday's Senate hearing featuring Watkins, McMahan(?), and Skilling. Skilling may have scored a point on "subsidiaries", but he didn't really address the question: why so many subsidiaries in off-shore tax havens? I think we know the answer.

I also wasn't impressed with Skilling's handling of the "I didn't know" line of responses. Even if he thought that McMahan's concerns were simply about compensation, the conflict of interest issues (Enron employees negotiating on behalf of both Enron and the patnerships on deals between Enron and the partnerships) are the very types of issues that Skilling would have us believe that he knew nothing about.

I still say "get a rope"...

TV Punditwatch: Debate is Good

Will Vehrs
Today's TV Punditwatch has been posted. The pundits, not their guests, were the big story. Debates and debates about debates energize the pundits--debate didn't destroy us during the Civil War, as George Will points out. It's also comforting to know that there is a bunker in West Virginia so that in the event of a shadow government taking charge, punditry will continue.

Do not confuse TV Punditwatch with its "lite" equivalent, Print Punditwatch. It's the same great taste, but less filling.

QP's Poetry Corner for Sunday

Tony goes with Alfred, Lord Tennyson in From Left Field and Blog Watch II, the PM edition. Will counters with William Carlos Williams in the AM edition of Blog Watch II.

Print Punditwatch Sunday has been posted. Maureen and Mary get together and George Will looks at breakfast while David Broder tackles hunger. Check back around 2PM EST for TV Punditwatch.