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Saturday, August 24, 2002

QP Saturday

Will Vehrs
Invasion of the Hose Snatchers I can't find it in the on-line Richmond Times-Dispatch, but the print edition brings us news that vandals are destroying garden hoses and kiddie pools in nearby Henrico County. Local water restrictions imposed as a result of the drought are apparently inspiring these PETA-style tactics.

Attack on Iraq, Part XXVIII Bill Keller has a very balanced column in the NYT this morning on the "baggage" various critics and proponents bring to the table. Since that was the subject of some discussion in The Refuge, here's a comment relevant to that thread:

But the Iraq issue has clearly aroused the traditional, honorable conservatism of fighting men, who know what war costs. Theirs is sobering counsel, but it is not necessarily the case that someone who fought bravely should have firmer standing on the question of whether a war is justified.

Win Ben Stein's Advice Also in the NYT, Ben Stein has some tongue-in-cheek advice for potential talk show host Bill Clinton:

First of all, on a "talk show," the host has to let someone else talk. Even an informed, lovable former president does not get to talk the whole time. Are you prepared to let the woman whose husband has left her for a younger man, the sex expert, the makeover stylist or the free-trade economist be the center of attention? That yearly salary of almost $50 million doesn't seem like so much now, does it? (It is, for the record, about 100 times more than what I am supposed to be paid for my daytime show, but then you are 100 times more famous and have about 100 times more hair than I do.)

Triumphant Return I don't know where she's been, but Claire Berlinski is livening up the dog-blog days of August. She's been spotted by Instapundit and has a humor piece in both Vodkapundit and Samizdata. Those wild and wacky libertarians at Samizdata continue their reputation as the finest purveyors of blog cheesecake, posting a very fetching picture of Ms. Berlinski. Tony and I had the pleasure of dining with Ms. Berlinski one memorable night. She is even more stunning in person, assuming one can notice while being dazzled by her intellect. Speaking of Samizdata cheesecake, where's Natalija these days? And keep those pics of Adriana coming. I prefer the cocktail dress poses to the motorcycle pictures, but that's just me.

It's Not Just the Captions I give Dodd Harris a hard time about his Caption Contest. What I ought to be doing is linking more often to the always pithy, always excellent political commentary he writes in Ipse Dixit. I think he's highly underrated for his policy acumen.

Sic Her on Schroeder I want to second Zathras' request in The Refuge. Oda Mae indicated she had a lot to stay about German Chancellor Schroeder's re-election bid, but she didn't think we'd be interested. Yes, we would!

Tough Choice Last night I flipped back and forth between ABC's Whose Line Is It, Anyway? and CNBC's Wall Street Journal Editorial Board with Stuart Varney. I'm going to have to start taping one or the other. They're both good. And no cracks about them being essentially the same thing ....

Friday, August 23, 2002

Miscellaneous Addenda

Tony Adragna
Douglas Gantenbein says "President Bush's forest plan is half right." He explains why, as I've asserted, not all forest fires are equal: Sometimes -- as was the case in the '88 Yellowstone fires -- aggressive firefighting [or even prevention] is the wrong approach...

WaPo's Secret Court Rebuffs Ashcroft -- the story we talked about earlier today -- reports that the new presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (though not on the panel at the time the opinion was written) is U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. This is the same judge who dismissed a suit brought by the families of some detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

Some would argue, as Judge Napolitano does, that the Constitution protects "persons", not just "citizens", and that the government is bound by the Constitution even outside the United States... Judge Napolitano blew off the "jurisdiction" rationale by noting that Judge Kollar-Kotelly certainly has jurisdiction over Sec. Rumsfeld -- his office is only a couple miles from her courtroom... I don't know who's correct, but I do know that Judge Napolitano is a funny guy...

Congress Needs To Do Its Homework

Tony Adragna
An expanded version of yesterday's story is in the print edition today, Will. They've included a link to a PDF version of the memorandum opinion and order granting the government's motion "as modified" by the Court.

While the Court limited its findings to "minimization", and the scope "only to communications of or concerning U.S. persons" [BTW: the Court went out of its way to state explicity that it "does not apply to... foreign powers... nor to non-U.S. persons" -- seems to me that they've clearly seen in the statute and applied in their review a different standard for "non-U.S. persons", just as I've argued contra all who have pooh-poohed my arguments] -- the Court signaled that it has a problem with the government's assertion that FISA may be used where investigating criminal activity is the primary purpose.

At footnote 1 (page 4 ) the Court notes that it's not persuaded by the government's argument on primary purpose (and notes that the government "misapprehends the issue" -- that can be read as yous guys are confused). The Court addresses the argument at footnote 2 (page 6) by again noting that it's a question not before the judges. But, as a "question for another day" this Court's opinion is weighted heavily toward a view that breaking down the wall between Foreign Intelligence and Criminal investigations -- at least where U.S persons are targeted -- presents serious problems vis a vis the government's ability to skirt the requirements of Title III and the Constitution.

Note also that the Court points several times to "a foreign intelligence standard instead of a criminal standard of probable cause"

So there are, as I've repeatedly argued, applied by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (a) different standards to non-U.S. persons v. U.S. persons, and (b) different standards on "probable cause" in foreign intelligence than the 4th Amendment standard normally applied to criminal cases.

On the "timidity" v. "rubber stamp" debate -- the FISC clearly isn't rolling over for the government, but neither is there a clear case of timidity. It seems to me that Justice has been fairly aggressive when it wants to be, including when the goal is to misrepresent the facts or, as in the Zac M case, aggresively pushing back at agents in the field.

I wonder how much misrepresentation and misapprehending has been present in the Congressional testimony and debate on these issues... Congress has got some homework to do...

What ever happened to the notion that overly aggresive fire management in forests was actually bad for forests? Why not let nature take its course?...

Well, 'cause communities have encroached on those forests, and now fires threaten those communities. If not for those communities, I'd say let the forests burn... In other words, I couldn't care less 'bout the cost of lumber in this particular context.

If the logging industry can make some money off the deal, that's not a problem, but I think the criticism is that the proposal has been structured in such a way to ensure the loggers some profit on doing a needed job while not ensuring that the job they do is the job needed to protect property against forest fires...

I'm not sure who's correct, and I'll advert to Sen. Bunning's statement last night -- I don't remember which show was interviewing him -- that congress will make sure loggers don't take advantage of whatever program is adopted.

But, I have this nagging feeling that if we return to the days when every fire was seen as something forests needed to be protected against, then we're in for less healthy forests...

Beating the Bushes, Hugging Trees

Will Vehrs
President Bush's proposed policy on forest management appears destined for the same anthology of myths that misrepresent his arsenic, clean air, and brownfields policies. Greg Easterbrook in TNR has debunked the worst of them already; maybe he'll address this one soon. I've looked around the blogosphere for a substantive alternative to Bush's approach, but all I've found are a few scattered snide remarks. If anyone can link me to a critique that consists of more than calling Bush names, I'd give it prominent coverage.

After yesterday's Bush speech, there was this reaction:

James R. Lyons, who oversaw the Forest Service during the Clinton administration, said Bush's proposals to limit public appeals of logging projects would be a "draconian" step that is not necessary to improve forest health. He said that while there is merit to enlisting the help of timber companies to clear underbrush -- and giving them access to larger, profitable trees in return -- such work must be closely monitored.

Looks to me as if there's some validity to the Bush approach and room for compromise. Bush has been nothing if not a compromiser on many important issues.

I don't want forests to burn any more than Mother Nature absolutely directs to maintain her ecosystem. If I have the choice of more 2x4's at Home Depot or charred remnants of tree trunks in Oregon, I'll take the 2x4's unless somebody can convince me otherwise.

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Busted Tony, you were all over the intricacies of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) a while back; I trust you'll cover the disturbing news about the FBI's conduct from a just released court opinion.

Satire So Sweet I'm not always sharp enough to recognize truly superior satire. The best satire almost seems plausible. After reading George Gurley's piece on Ann Coulter, I wasn't sure if it was on the level or if it was a hilarious send-up. Norah Vincent has set me straight:

If I take his wonderfully slicing tone right—distaste masquerading as sycophancy—George Gurley gets her where it hurts in this New York Observer profile, or, I should say, he lets her get it just right for him. She shines through with all the panache of a stevedore and all the subtlety of a rodeo clown. He gives her lots of stage, and behold she parodies herself.

Who can tell? Pusillanimous, or puss animus? You be the judge

Thanks, Norah. I sure hope Brother Dawson didn't fall for this.

Fat Loser The Caption Contest winners for this week have been announced and The Refuge wasn't near the awards stand. Dan, JulieC, and myself tried, but the cagey Charles Austin took top honors. He's the guy who shamelessly stole my patented technique, a deluge of entries, last week. This week he outfoxed me and only sent in two while I feverishly submitted my usual plethora. I suppose linking Saddam to bestiality, a line I wasn't willing to cross lest he unleash captions of mass destruction, tipped the scales in his favor. Where was "Rags?" And what's up with "editorial" comments on the entries? That's a new and troubling feature.

Disadvantage, Quasipundit I thought for sure that the NY gubernatorial primary would be a big story. It's been a dud. There's a little polling scandal brewing, but a WP story captures the unrealized promise that I saw:

All of which has tended to dampen the visceral blood lust that so distinguishes politics here. After a promising start, in which Cuomo's people spoke disparagingly of McCall's age and intestinal fortitude, and McCall's people suggested that young Andy might lack the temperament for a grown-up job, the campaign has lapsed into a sullen, post-Sept. 11 decorousness.

The Democratic candidates poke at each other, but not really. They cast aspersions, but through surrogates

To make my misjudgement complete, if McCall were to win the primary and then the general election, he would be the perfect running mate for a Southern or Western Democrat. Of course, ain't gonna happen ....

Say It Ain't So A Paul Krugman column I agree with? It's happened!

...the official theory of the corporation, in which the C.E.O. serves at the pleasure of a board that represents shareholder interests, is thoroughly misleading. In practice, modern C.E.O.'s set their own compensation, limited only by the "outrage constraint" — outrage not on the part of the board, whose members depend on the C.E.O.'s good will for many of their perks, but on the part of outside groups that can make trouble. And the true purpose of many features of executive pay packages is not to provide incentives but to provide "camouflage" — to let C.E.O.'s reward themselves lavishly while minimizing the associated outrage.

...we have a corporate system that gives huge incentives for bad behavior. And I would be very surprised if Wednesday's plea by Enron's Michael Kopper is the beginning of the end; at best, it's the end of the beginning

The amazing thing about this column is that Krugman does not blame President Bush for excessive CEO compensation.

More on McKinney and Majette E. J. Dionne, Jr. is the first major columnist to weigh in on that contentious Georgia primary:

But the Middle East focus misses what happened on the ground in Georgia.

What's clear is that Majette did win substantial African American support, as political writer Ben Smith documented in a careful analysis in yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It's becoming ever clearer that the growing African American suburbs are as open as the white suburbs to a moderate style. This cross-racial and bipartisan suburbanization of politics will by no means obliterate ideology, but it will force a change in tone that will eventually affect substance

There's some super commentary on the race among Zathras and Mark Dahley over in The Refuge.

Kissinger and Albright Good discussion last night on The News Hour between Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright on the Iraq situation. Kissinger looked for a way to justify action; Albright looked for ways to avoid it. I found Kissinger more persuasive.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Sailors Don't Like Leaks

Tony Adragna
I'll certainly not defend leaks, but there's a bit of yardage between wanting to maintain the confidentiality of advice and wanting to keep hidden that the civilians are acting against the best advice of the military -- In the latter case, I prefer leakage...

And you're right, the military opinions are never off-limits to criticism -- I hope that wasn't the impression I was giving. In fact, since I limited my criticism to those who would make "pejorative reference" rather than "thoughtful" criticism, we seem to be in agreement...

Of course the military is overseen by civilian leadership, and congress has a vital role to play notwithstanding the fact that members may have never served -- indeed, that's what Glenn would call a feature of our system... it keeps the military in check.

[But, I do hafta disagree with Zathras -- I can't imagine those words having been written by an ex-serviceman}

As to whether the content of the military advice is actually what it is purported to be -- I haven't seen the content, so I don't know. But this doesn't matter to the point I'm making... or rather, it has everything to do with the point I'm making, which is that all kinds of things are being asserted -- some counterfactual, and others unproven one way or the other -- and too many of those areguments are counterproductive and disingenuous. But, they're being said, so we gotta deal with 'em.

George Will picks up the theme in his column today:
Last week the Times went, as factional broadsheets tend to do, too far. It implied that Henry Kissinger was aligned with Brent Scowcroft, the first President Bush's national security adviser, in opposing the kind of attack the Times opposes. Then, perversity eliciting perversity, some conservatives, adopting something like Ring Lardner's riposte, suggested that not only are Scowcroft's views mistaken but his voicing of them is dishonorable...

It is semantic vandalism to say that Scowcroft and others who share his apprehensions are "appeasers." Appeasement is the policy of resolving a conflict by making concessions to the most truculent side. Scowcroft believes, probably mistakenly, that containment and deterrence -- which, when applied to the Soviet Union, resulted in regime change -- can suffice to make Saddam Hussein's regime something America can live with. Or at least Scowcroft believes that the risks of reliance on containment and deterrence are less than those of regime change by war and its aftermath. This may be wishful thinking; it is not appeasement...
Mr. Will didn't choose the word "vandalism" by accident...

There surely is room for honest disagreement -- even heated debate -- but Mr. DeLay et al -- and I don't care at whose behest -- have gone too far...

Speaking of honest disagreements, that's where Dave and me are at now... He conceded "There are Republicans asking Bush to make the case. Should have done more homework" -- that's really the only point I was pushing with Dave... the rest is just opining on the metaphysical and I'm just as likely to be wrong as he... he's also got an interesting post on the MO senate race -- says the "compassion factor" is overplayed, and uses the closeness of Wilder's '89 victory v. the margin he pulled in polling during the campaign as an example of the point...

I agree with Bashman in principle, but I'll repeat what I said when we first visited this case -- I don't know how the justices could have avoided looking toward a "consensus" on what is "cruel an unusual". Since at least 1910 (Weems v. United States) the Court has taken a view that The Framers did not intend to leave us with an immutable definition of what's "cruel and unusual". And in Trop v. Dulles the plurality wrote:
The basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment is nothing less than the dignity of man... the Amendment stands to assure that this power be exercised within the limits of civilized standards...The Court recognized in [Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349 ] that the words of the Amendment are not precise, and that their scope is not static. The Amendment must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society
If the justices are to follow this precedent, then the only way they can judge whether the punishment is "cruel and unusual" is by looking to what standards have evolved in decent society -- to that end, the majority in the case Bashman cites did not merely look to "opinion polls", but primarily to the trend in state legislatures prohibiting execution of mentally retarded people.

In fact, the Court didn't mention the "polls" in the body of the opinion, but in a footnote citing an amicus brief in another case and said, "Although these factors are by no means dispositive, their consistency with the legislative evidence lends further support to our conclusion that there is a consensus among those who have addressed the issue."

The Chief wrote a dissent taking the Court to task for going so far as to even look at factors other than legislation, but his real beef is with the "evolving standards" approach itself. In WOODSON v. NORTH CAROLINA, 428 U.S. 280 (1976) he wrote, "As an original proposition, it is by no means clear that the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments embodied in the Eighth Amendment, and made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment...was not limited to those punishments deemed cruel and unusual at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights"

Get a rope, going to a horse thief hangin'

Don't Hold Back

Will Vehrs
After a long drought, comments are popping up in The Refuge again. I love it when that happens. It's one thing when you jam me, Tony; it's an altogether different rush when readers take me to task.

Limits on Criticism

Will Vehrs
Tony, I will gladly concede that "he who has never served" should not question the "honor and integrity" of another's service. However, while I think Tom DeLay is way over the top in his comments (guess he didn't hear about the blow for moderate rhetoric struck by Georgia voters), I don't think the current beliefs of those who served are off-limits for criticism. Unfortunately, that criticism is too often needlessly harsh and shrill. Nobody would notice if it was just thoughtful, unless you're one off the media's designated go-to guys for thoughtfulness, like Senator Lugar (long ago known as "Nixon's favorite mayor," he's earned respect for his thoughtfulness).

Let's remember that the military advice given to President Bush by the Joint Chiefs and others is and should be protected by executive privilege. You're defending leaks that purport to show counsel from uniformed military advisors argues against a pre-emptive strike in Iraq. That may be true; it may not. All we know is that hawks and doves are abroad in the land, calling each other names and jockeying for primacy with the "patient man" whose patience is exasperating to both sides. They want a decision now so they can move on to the next item on their agenda. I wouldn't discount the possibility that Bush asked DeLay for that speech just to show the world that he's not being rushed by his "rabid right wing." DeLay sure takes no risk making such fire-breathing statements.

Litmus Test for Wrongheadedness

Tony Adragna
The litmust test, Will, isn't whether somebody has served in the military. Rather, it's whether the argument being made takes into account the expert opinions of those who have and are currently serving. It's not an unfair criticism to point out that when Mr. DeLay et al make argument contrary to counsel from military advisers -- the ones advising the administration, not the ones appearing on FOX News -- and without the benefit of first hand knowledge, they've an obligation to argue rationally why their argument is the better one. You don't get to that end by making pejorative reference to those advising caution.

And, it's an on target shot to note that he who has never served yet calls into question the honor and integrity of others who have served -- how else do you characterize the "congenital mistrust of American principles" verbiage -- is being irrational and dishonest.

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
He's Back! William Safire has returned from vacation to provide some much needed balance to the NYT op-ed pages. He's always been bullish on the Iraq-terrorism connection and today is no exception:

Let's not pretend we must "make the case" that Saddam personally directed 9/11. The need to strike at an aggressive despot before he gains the power to blackmail us with the horrific weapons he is building and hiding is apparent to most Americans, including those who will bear the brunt of the fight.

But it would make sense for him to use his new weaponry through terrorist cutouts. That is why it is worthwhile to discover and expose the likelihood of Saddam's previous and present connections to mass murder. That is why people who oppose the finishing of this fight — on strategic, self-justifying, political or pacifist grounds — should open their minds to the signs that terror's most dangerous supporter can be found in Baghdad

Remember that term, "terrorist cut-outs."

Perp Walk for Politics? MIckey Kaus reams the NYT today for its coverage of the Justice Department's investigation of Enron, but I think the real story is in the timing. Dems (and the NYT--is there a difference?) have been bashing the adminstration for going too slow. I think their problem with Justice "going slow" was that they didn't want to see the Andy Fastow "perp walk" in October, when it would take the air out of their campaign charges that Republicans were soft on corporate crime. With the Kopper plea in hand, the deliberate, dogged investigation story is in place and the handcuffing of Fastow and other Enron miscreants doesn't look like pure politics when it happens, oh, long about late October. Ah, serendipity ....

Last Word on Marshall I've been following the Josh Marshall v. Washington Post story pretty closely. My role was to ask Howard Kurtz of the WP about it and report that he ignored my questions. In fairness to Kurtz, he may have been sending a subliminal message. He's quoted 350 odd words of Josh Marshall Talking Points Memo text this week. How many words of the Terry Neal's WP "Talking Points" has he quoted? Zero.

Baseball and the General Al Hunt relates an anecdote that I found humorous in his WSJ column today (subscription required). Writing about the baseball strike, Hunt tells us that the baseball owners were once considering Colin Powell and former Georgia Senator Wyche Fowler for Commissioner. Fowler argued he had great political connections; George Steinbrenner asked "'Why take a nobody like you when we could get a Colin Powell?'" Fowler was ready. "'If you want to hire someone you can't fire, then get Colin Powell.'" They didn't want Powell after that.

Chickenhawks Tony, you and Jeff are all over those who didn't serve but are bellicose on Iraq. I think it's time to stop urging a litmus test for expressing one's opinion on military matters. In a few years we will probably have almost no one in the Congress who has served in the military. We don't demand that only people who have been on welfare can support work requirements. We don't demand that only people who have never taken soft money can support campaign finance reform. For every Tom DeLay who didn't serve, there's a Joe Lieberman. A couple of years in the armed forces is a nice bit of experience to have, but it doesn't follow that only Gomer Pyle can call for the use of US forces. Let's just be honest and say that if we like somebody's views, we don't care if they served in the military. If we don't like them, we'll grab at anything to discredit them and lack of military service is at the top of the list.

Briefs Tony, I never fully appreciated your brevity until I read the Capozzola interview in The Lefty Directory ... Congrats to blogger Howard Bashman, hitting the big-time with an article on the Supremes in Slate ... No one I remember from The Fray posted to Bashman, but one star poster, Dilan Esper, noted that he had a blog ... Howard and Dilan cover legal issues, which should be right up your alley, Tony ... Virginia budget woes are bringing out the cigarette tax crowd, but politicians are wary ... General Anthony Zinni, President Bush's special envoy to the Mideast, will teach a class this year at my alma mater, William and Mary--sign up now, Ben!

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

At the Iowa Pork Producers booth

Tony Adragna
Hey Will, Michael Barone went to the the Iowa State Fair. He notes that Iowans -- at least those that went to the fair -- weren't particularly interested in the speechifying:
Politics doesn't seem to be on many people's minds. Two potential 2004 Democratic presidents mindful of the central role of the Iowa caucuses, Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman, are here. Some fairgoers greet them warmly. But most just pass by, probably unaware of who the guys in the blue checked shirt and navy polo shirt are. Republicans are giving away tickets to George W. Bush's speech, but some fairgoers turn them down. When President Eisenhower came here in 1954, he spoke to a crowd of 25,000. President Bush barely draws a tenth of that.
I wonder if Dave was able to drag hisself away from the cornfield long enough to attend the fair...

Since we're back in Iowa, here's another tidbit on my disagreement with Dave:
Americans may be fighting in Iraq some time soon. But no politician brings the issue up. All those I spoke with–Gephardt and Lieberman, Harkin and Ganske, Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell and Republican challenger Stan Thompson–want Congress to vote on the issue. Gephardt says, "We can't do this alone. It's very important to explain this to people, to the Congress, to put a plan out." Lieberman backs military action. Harkin coauthored a resolution requiring a congressional vote and says, "I hold out some hope there may be some internal action against Saddam." Ganske says, "The president will have to make a case that there's a significant, imminent danger." Boswell is for action but only "if we have information that he's getting ready to launch weapons of mass destruction." Thompson says, "A case has to be made to the public why military action would be necessary."

Bottom line? Congress will have to vote on a resolution, Bush will have to make a case for military action, and some significant minority of members will vote against. In the meantime, the sun shines brilliantly from the west, and it's time for an Amana bratwurst.
Yes, that's right, I only highlighted the GOP candidates... I mean, it isn't worth highlighting the Dem oppo since it's safe to assume they're in the oppo... Well, 'cepting Lieberman, who happens to be 'bout as hawkish as the Pope is devoted to Mary... If Dave doesn't like the sources I cited earlier, maybe he'll be more comfortable with Barone giving it to us straight from the horse's mouth... oops, there I go again... sorry Dave - make that the pig's snout!

.... Listening to the TV behind me... just heard Jean Chretien is retiring in Feb '04... say what you want about the man... he's no Pierre Trudeau... but he's the kind of character that I like in a politician... Bon Voyage Monsieur le Premier ministre


Tony Adragna
Damn... this stuff is sooo goood that I'M HAVING SECONDS!!!... Wish I had some way to push soma dis to ya through the cable modem, Will...

More Sites Added, And Another Interview

Tony Adragna
Brian did it again! This week's victim is James Capozzola...

['Scuse please... I just hafta interrupt myself to say that this cheesey noodle mac I havin' for dinner -- 2 packs of your favourite macaroni & cheese (but only use one of the cheese pouches), two pounds of ground beef (browned and seasoned to your own liking), and your favourite spaghetti sauce -- is da bomb...]

... please check out The Rittenhouse Review

For your "Bush Bashing Watch" convenience, Will, I've also decided to add The Lefty Directory to our list...

Where Fastow's going, A/C aina gonna help...

Update: I keep forgetting to add Fritz... you're supposed to remind of things like that, Will! Anyway, Fritz tipped me to his Carville as Foghorn Leghorn post... I gotta see that Crossfire bit again -- he was dripping!

Wonder how Andy Fastow is sleeping these days. Think he's got the air conditioner up really high?

Wingnuts, Weligion, & Wannabes...

Tony Adragna
Sheesh, Will -- like keeping track of Maryland and trying to get reports outa Virginia from you ain't enough to keep me busy!

Rep. Barr has gotten under my fingernails on occassion, but he's also spoken my own mind on several issues... I know nothing of Linder, so I don't wanna take a stab at comparison. What does it matter to me which Republican wins anyway... McKinney I shoulda been interested in, but I never quite got there...

Landrieu vs. Foster, Maybe did get my attention... as did Ned Coll's vitriol -- why am I just hearing 'bout it now? If Ida known then, I woulda made a point of bashing him the same way I did Falwell et al -- the behavior is unacceptable...

Didja hear the one about the Catholic, the Episcopalian, and the Pentacostal?... No joke -- there's a class action suit going ahead against the U.S. Navy "claiming that the Navy illegally favors Catholics, Episcopalians and other liturgical chaplains over their nonliturgical peers." I'm curious what the Navy's response is -- I haven't seen either party's brief, so I don't wanna offer an opinion.

But I'll make some off the cuff observations on context & perspective...

My sense of history is that our seafaring traditions -- including our Naval traditions -- are coincidentally the product of locales where liturgical traditions were -- and still are -- predominant. Being raised in those locales, it's only natural that seafarers would have been both seafarers by tradition and members of liturgucal churches -- who else would minister to them but the clergy of liturgical churches. There's your rational basis for the historical preponderance of naval chaplains from liturgical traditions.

That doesn't, however, fully explain whatever disparity might still exist. The Navy has recruiting stations in places that don't know a rill from an ocean -- there's even an office in Iowa -- and young people clueless to the difference between a "line" and a "yarn" are accepted without prejudice...If there are in fact now more people of nonliturgical traditions in the Navy, then there ought be more chaplains from nonliturgical traditions...

I'm gonna go out on a limb for a possible answer to why a disparity exists -- nonliturgical clergy self-selecting against the Naval Chaplaincy. I don't mean that as disparagement... It just might be that clergy from nonlitugucal faiths may find the institutional nature of military chaplaincy unattractive, where for clergy from liturgical traditions -- which tend to be institutional and hierarchical -- this is a non-issue.

'Course, if the disparity exists only in the Naval Chaplaincy, then the plaintiffs case looks pretty good. And my observations still don't get at what possible reason there may be for disparate treatment by promotions boards --.unless [more limb walking] nonlitugicals who do opt for Naval Chaplaincy tend not to stay in long enough to attain the highest ranks...

A final observation that might contradict the plaintiffs' arguments is that the current Chief of Chaplains for the U.S. Navy -- Rear Admiral Barry C. Black -- is from a nonliturgical church.

[ Just an aside, but that seafarers traditionaly came from churches where liturgy is full of "mystery" might also 'splain why sailors are so superstitious]

While I'm on a military topic I gotta point to an item tied into another part of my discussion with Dave. Jeff Cooper is "amazed by the enthusiasm for warfare displayed by many neo-con hawks who did not themselves serve, and by their eagerness to denigrate combat veterans who disagree by labeling them an 'axis of appeasement'" -- Well Said, Jeff!. Tom DeLay fits the description:
"It is a campaign driven by a congenital mistrust of American principles and a consistent hostility to American action," DeLay wrote in his text. "These apologists for idleness would have us believe that consensus is a first principle. But if we can't agree that those who deliberately murder innocent civilians should be actively opposed, this path offers nothing but confusion."[emphasis added]
DeLay is talking 'bout a group of people that includes individuals like Gen. Schartzkopf -- certainly no slacker when it comes to defending American principle... the guy fought and was wounded in Vietnam. The list also includes alota brass over at the Pentagon who are on board with the objective, but are counseling caution -- are they all America haters too?

The item Jeff linked to is also a must read. If I haven't yet said that the "Chickenhawks" are getting on my nerves, consider it now said!: I'm certainly in line with Kos' anti-war sentiment to the extent that anybody who knows the fullness of what war means must feel despair at the point of exercising that option -- your either a fool or inhuman if you don't. Is that a reason for not going? Certainly not, but you'd better make damned sure the correctness of going: If you're wrong in principle it's not a "principle" that just got wasted, but a lot of lives...

McCain Might Have Saved McKinney

Will Vehrs
University of Georgia political science professor Charles S. Bullock is taking questions online at the WP as I write. Here's an interesting Q & A that I haven't seen addressed in all the hoopla over Rep. McKinney's loss to Ms. Majette and I've highlighted the relevant portion:

Birch Bay, Wash.: How much money did Ms. Majette raise from sources outside of Georgia, compared with Ms. McKinney's efforts. Did Majettte enjoy an overwhelming advantage in TV advertising? Where are all the voices for campaign finance reform?

Dr. Charles Bullock: Majette's outside money came late -- beginning in July. There has been the suggestion that this was strategic,i.e. Majette did not show great fundraising prowess on her June 30 finance report thereby lulling McKinney who, as an incumbent, might have raised more than she did had she perceived the need.

Majette's funding enabled her to have a TV presence comparable to McKinney's. Of course, a frequent handicap for challengers is their inability to even get in the game with the incumbent in terms of money. Majette's outside support overcame that limitation.

The Majette success mitigates against those who would cap fundraising at a level so low that challengers could not get enough to become competitive -- unless they could provide financing from their personal wealth.

I hope this contest reopens the debate on campaign finance reform, outside money, and all the rest.

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Kelly Disillusioned Tony, Michael Kelly has a tough, tough piece on President Bush today. Here's one excerpt that ties back to your conversation with Dave:

On the war, the don't-get-involved chorus has taken control of the stage and gains in voice daily, singing nonsense loudly ("Poor little Iraq; what did it ever do to us?"). The true isolationists of the Republican Party are hitting the op-ed pages with the usual tut-tuts about Grave Dangers and Responsible Consensus. These people (not to name names, Colin Powell and Lawrence Eagleburger and Brent Scowcroft) have been wrong in their big thinking -- wrong morally, practically, strategically -- just about every time they have thought big. Theirs is the philosophy, if it can be called that, that helped get us where we are, by persuading the first President Bush to end the first war against Iraq un-won.

Why does anyone listen to them at all? Because they are speaking in the vacuum created by the president's refusal to wage a coherent campaign to win public -- and, let's force the issue, congressional -- approval for the war

If Bush loses Kelly, he's in trouble.

Two Winners Both parties won last night in Georgia. The Democrats lost their albatross, Cynthia McKinney, and the Republicans lost their lightning rod, Bob Barr.

Talis Nullifiers I'm still fascinated by the idea of talis jurors, citizens grabbed off the checkout line at Walmart and put in the jury box. I wonder if such jurors would be more or less likely to be the nullifiers that Glenn Reynolds has been talking about. It might depend on what bargains the sudden jurors are missing ....

Parental Lifestyles Anna Quindlen draws some larger lessons from the trial of David Westerfield, accused of killing Danielle van Dam (is the jury still out on that?). Danielle's parents had, to put it delicately, an alternative lifestyle, and Quindlen sees that as incompatible with parenting:

... a curious attitude that seems to have taken root among some modern parents. And that is that life with kids is just like life without kids, only with bunk beds.

It is possible to have children and still work punishing hours. It is possible to have children and still have a bitchin’ social life. It is possible to have children and still booze it up and do drugs, just as you did when you were young and single.

It is possible. It is surely not desirable

I loved this line:

If you feel the need to put a lock on the garage to keep your kids from walking in while you smoke marijuana, it may be nature’s way of telling you the time to drop the bong is when you put up the crib.

Headline News The headline says Americans oppose school vouchers, but the real story is how the numbers changed from last year:

The 34th annual poll of 1,000 adults, conducted by the Gallup Organization for the educational group Phi Delta Kappa, found that 52 percent of those surveyed opposed the use of state vouchers to expand access to private education.

Still, 46 percent support the voucher program, up from 34 percent a year ago.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points

Unless schools show improvement under the new accountability standards, I think support for vouchers will continue to increase.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Porcine Poop & More Balderdash

Tony Adragna
Me and Dave are playing nicely, Will. He responded as promised. Dave still takes issue with the assertion that members of the GOP share in the skepticism in re Mr. Bush's performance vis a vis Iraq thus far. So, I hadta go and dig up some quotage.
"If we try to act against Saddam Hussein, as obnoxious as he is, without proper provocation, we will not have the support of other nation-states," he said.
Armey, who voted to support the 1991 Gulf War, said a U.S. attack on Iraq "would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation."
Sounds like Armey is saying the president hasn't made the case for action... and he made those comments in Des Moines... [ note: Check with the eds at the Register and find out why Dave didn't get that line in his copy]
Hagel says the administration also has to prove that Saddam poses an "urgent" threat. Every U.S. ally agrees that Saddam is a bad guy and represents a long-term threat to the region. "But how urgent is this threat?" asks Hagel. "We don't know. I have yet to meet any of our allies or to be told in a briefing that the threat is urgent.
There goes Hagel saying plainly make the case.
Lawrence Eagleburger, secretary of state under the first President Bush, said he did not think regime change in Iraq is "legitimate policy at this stage, unless the president can demonstrate to all of us that Saddam has his finger on a nuclear, biological or chemical trigger and he's about to use it."
Ooops, there's another Republican saying make the case. From the same item:
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said support from American allies was crucial. "We need to have our NATO allies. This is going to require heavy lifting," Lugar, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a television interview.
Guess what it's gonna take to bring our NATO allies aboard? It means that Mr. Bush has gotta make the case to those allies, and that's the thrust of Lugar's comment.

Not done yet...
"In a street fight, you hit the other guy first, but only if you know he's going to hit you," House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., says. "I would like to see other countries, like Russia and France, that have a decent relationship with Iraq, use their influence."
That's another Republican saying make the case...

I'll stop there... That ought be enough to convince Dave that if he "don’t think any Republicans-Scowcroft, Armey, etc.-are criticizing Bush for not making the case", then he thunk wrong..

OK, even I have noted that the media has overplayed GOP dissent from Mr. Bush on Iraq -- just as conservatives have overplayed Democrat calls for debate and case making. Somwhere in the middle is the story that Dave seems to be missing: While there's overwhelming support for action against Iraq, it's not so clear that there's the same level of support for the case Mr. Bush is making -- on going soon and going alone there is skepticism voiced by voters and lawmakers from both parties.[We'll forget about the allies for a moment, since Dave's merely talking 'bout the domestic market... Can't forget aout those allies forever though...]

And if, as Dave suggests, "it’s not a very difficult sell", then why are we having this debate? Since the State of the Union the administration has been making the very sales pitch that Dave suggests it ought , there are alotta buyers wanting to make the purchase, but the product ain't moving off the shelves: Could it be the salesman has a very salable product, but keeps screwing up the pitch?

On "Going to war is a political decision", Dave is again too clever. There is truth to the statement insofar as the context in which the decision is made is a political context -- 'tis the political branches that make the decision. There are debates over correctness of action, funding the action, oversight of the executive to ensure against abuses during wartime, etc. -- all valid debate on war. [We've already seen this debate devolve into questioning the patriotism of well intentioned folk, though I'll concede that there has been some well deserved heckling of irrational dissent]

But, Dave suggests something different -- akin to wagging the dog. Not a perfect analogy, but close enough. While the debate on war properly takes place in the political process, Dave advises that the Prez should engage in war related rhetoric as a means to partisan political advantage -- that's not only distasteful, but immoral.[ not as immoral; as actually wagging the dog, but the lesser evil is still an evil] Dave's suggestion should not only be not acted upon, but shouldn't even have made it into the suggestion box...

But, not to worry, because Dave isn't so clever that he's the first to have had the idea [sheesh, Dave, I thought it was us Dems who thought the Bush League was kinda slow on the uptake] The GOP ain't gonna go there -- as is plain from the Balz piece cited below -- and Democrat fears that they will are nothing but fear of fear itself...

Hinkle's Priorities

Tony Adragna
Will, I noticed that as Hinkle endorsed Wilder's ideas, the first on his list -- attach whatever significance you wish -- was that "Virginia has no business running liquor stores"... My kinda guy... Buy the man a beer & a backup, and put it on my tab...

Since you turned me on to the Richmond Times-Dispatch some time ago -- I especially like the letters page -- I've been meaning to make it a regular read... I'll get around to it...

Question: What's the real reason Gigot abandoned Shields at the table... I know, he got the better offer -- likely story... I think it's 'cause he simply acknowledged he was no match for Mark "Out There" Shields...

I'm quite sure Rebecca's book is full of useful info that somebody like me would immediately disregard when finally seated at the keyboard. On the art of writing I understand that The Greats all started with a firm grasp on fundamentals -- I don't aspire to be one of The Greats. I think that so long as people have something interesting, insightfull, cogent, or even just something to say, they oughta just say it and bedamned to pedants...

Too many people keep quiet for fear of sounding stupid -- something I've oft felt, yet it's never stopped me. Style & content, that's what it's about for me. Stylistic devices are a particular fetish of mine -- favourites are colloquialisms and Churchillian sentence structure. Never afeared of breaking the writing rules, no sir, not me...

Etiquette is another matter. 'Tis not about politeness per se, but simply about carrying the debate forward rather than allowing it to become buried under the weight acrimony. One rule I like to observe is dropping a dime to notify the object of a criticism -- it's a courtesy which usually ensures a thoughtful response... Got a response back from Dave threatening a response to yesterday.

BTW: Dave took exception to "Equine Excreta" because they don't know from horses out the in Iowa. He suggested a pig reference, so I thought one up: Porcine Poop!

I agree on "hits" in general, but I do have an almost obsessive interest in what I referred to earlier as "in-post linkage" -- the reason is that I'm curious 'bout what other bloggers find worthy of comment, and interested in the comments. Not that I would change anything I say or alter the way I say things simply to appease the naysayer or pump up the fan club, but I do consider constructive criticism helpful...

Besides, if I never checked the referral details, I'd never find things like a Findlaw link to QP -- pretty kewl for somebody who's "not a Constitutional scholar, nor a lawyer"...

Of late I haven't had any occassion to look at NQRC research. Interesting ort on the Auto industry numbers is who did best against baseline on customer satisfaction -- Volkswagon & Hyundai. But, I hasten to note that Bray's reference probably doesn't mean much in light of the fact that overall customer satisfaction with the auto industry has remained fairly level, while overall customer satisfaction with government has actually improved by a greater percentage than the auto indsutry's numbers, with some individual government segements scoring in the 80s and 90s.

'Course, those scores show that people prefer filing taxes over flying... whoda thunkit...

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Supporting Wilder Tony, it's already been overcome by yesterday's events, but A. Barton Hinkle's column in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch is worth a read as a coda to the Wilder-Warner "dispute" over an efficiency commission. Hinkle takes Wilder's side:

So, to review: The Governor charged the Commission with identifying redundancies and streamlining and consolidating agencies to make state government more efficient and effective. Wilder has done so. The Commission, on the other hand, turned around and said . . . the Governor should identify redundant and duplicated services to make state government more efficient and effective. Such vague recommendations scarcely constitute a "fundamental, top-to-bottom review." Thanks very much for giving 110 percent, fellas.

Hinkle notes that Warner has been much more energetic in pushing the sales tax referendum than in supporting Wilder's work:

Warner let Wilder know that any specific recommendations "should include the underlying analyses, potential dollar savings with methodology of how the figure was derived, and an assessment of how the proposed change would affect other functions of government." Warner presented no such analysis with his sales-tax referendum idea.

WSJ Editorial Review Today's topics (subscription required) include something you'd expect from Paul Gigot et. al.: a blast at "Big Labor's Enron," a union scandal involving Ullico, where a handful of directors shared a windfall of $6.5 million. But two other subjects are less predictable. "Those CEO Perp Walks" criticizes Attorney General Ashcroft for going out of his way to publicly humiliate the accused. They quote Ashcroft as saying, "'With each arrest, indictment, and prosecution, we send a clear, unmistakeable message.'" Their response: "The best way for the government to send a message is by convicting wrongdoers in fair trials based on evidence." Finally, "Steel's Tariff Addiction" returns to criticism of the President's protectionism: "How long will Washington put Big Steel's interests above those of the broader economy?"

Stat of the Day From Thomas Bray's column in The National Quality Research Center shows that the index of "customer satisfaction" with federal agencies runs 10 points behind the auto industry--even after Sept. 11.

Scary Concept There's an article on the front page of the WSJ about talis jurors. It seems that in North Carolina, and maybe a few other places, if a court doesn't have enough jurors, a sheriff runs out to the local Wal Mart and grabs a few.

Book Review I just finished Rebecca Blood's book, The Weblog Handbook. Loyal readers might remember that I won the book for my relentless flacking of C. Dodd Harris' most excellent Caption Contest.

Ms. Blood and her work were mentioned prominently a recent Newsweek column.

This book is ostensibly designed for the novice weblogger, or someone thinking about starting a blog without much knowledge of Quick's "blogosphere." Obviously, I've been blogging for 10 months or so. I don't think the book would have meant nearly as much to me if I'd been able to read it one year ago. With some experience behind me, her discussion of "Finding Your Voice" and "Finding an Audience" gave me a lot more insight into my work and that of all the fellow travellers I read and admire. I've actually arrived at a lot of recommendations she makes, such as not worrying about hit counts, through the processes she describes. I don't think a novice can get there just by reading her book. Her technical advice, especially in the appendices, is excellent.

If I had to quibble, it would be to say that her understanding of the "corner" that politically oriented blogs like this one occupy is not a strong suit, so her advice on avoiding controversy and making polite disagreement is not realistic. Still, I wish that every blogger read her words on net etiquette and strove to embrace her ideals. I've apparently made more than one faux pas during my time here at QP and, thanks to Ms. Blood, I am resolving to do better.

Monday, August 19, 2002

New Sites Added

Dave Hogberg's Cornfield Commentary and Jeff Cooper's Cooped Up added to the links. Both highly recommended, even if your's truly doesn't endorse every opinion there contained...

Balderdash & Equine Excreta

Tony Adragna
I'll take myself out of contetion for that "Special Citizenship Award", Will -- hoping for political gain through talking up economic problems can't hold a candle to talking up war for political gains![ Dave's a bit too clever arguing that since it's not actually going to war, then it's OK -- Sorry Dave, it's still making politcs on war, and that's something those of us who have served find distasteful]

Glenn points to a bit of commentary from way out in a cornfield, and notes that Dave may be onto something in light of what Dan Balz wrote in today's WaPo.

Note that Dave takes exception with "The Democrats [who] have been recently criticizing Bush for not making a strong enough case for the war", but fails to mention that the calls for Mr. Bush to make the case have been fairly bi-partisan, with a fair number of Democrats hoping he does so we can get on with it.

Dave also argues that if the President would "start making speeches around the country outlining the case, both moral and strategic", the the country would suddenly rally 'round the Prez and his patisans -- a Democrat nightmare turned reality!


The Balz piece makes very clear that the Democrat's worry is a non-issue. As I argued below, the "moral and strategic" case is all we've heard against Iraq since the [in]famous "Axis of Evil" speech, and it ain't salable -- at least, nobody's buying it 'cept Sen. Inhoffe and the Defense Policy Board.

Certainly, taking voters' eyes off the economy might weaken Democrat hopes, but focusing them on war with Iraq is just as likely to heighten skepticism over this administration's plans for achieving the strategic objective -- that would certainly backfire on the GOP, and probably has something to do with why Republican lawmakers are asking the same questions and giving the same advice as is coming from Democrats.

Besides, as Morton Abramowitz notes, the Prez is having a hard enough time getting a coherent policy out of his own administration.

Rhetoric -- especially in light of "inconsistencies" noted by Mr. Abramowitz and "The Disconnect" I've frequented -- isn't going to make the case on Iraq, nor is it going to make national security vis a vis Iraq an issue in the upcomming election. Balz's interviewees had it right -- the only thing that's going to make Iraq an issue in October is if there's action, and action simply isn't on the horizon.

Addendum: I should have noted above that Dave's defense of politicking on the war issue is premised on the very true fact that the Democrats opened the door on the debate.

Sen. Biden (from the recently maligned Delaware) did open the debate during a set of hearings in the committee he chairs, but instead of giving the good senator the benefit of the doubt that his purpose was fulfillment of a Constitutional responsibility, many conservative commentators opted to take a worst reading of that debate (i.e the senators were simply looking for a reason to object to the goal).

If Dave's premise is correct, then I must object to what's going on in Congress. But, I think Dave's assertion is wrong, which makes any suggestion that the administration ought seek political advantage on the issue wrong!

The Hammer Falls

Will Vehrs
Tony, I listened to Warner's speech live on a scratchy radio in a colleague's office. Two or three times we each shook our heads and said, "We're f---'d." I'd say Warner acknowledged Wilder's position and then some. It's going to be painful and it may very well impact my job, but he must do it and he's got to resist all the special pleadings he'll hear. We need to start exploring the floor of government services, instead of constantly raising the ceiling. I only wish Warner had taken some of the actions he's proposed when he first took office. The handwriting was on the wall then.

A few of my co-workers, apparently oblivious to the taxpaying electorate, immediately called for a return of the hated car tax.

On a lighter note, Jeff Cooper has discovered QP, Tony. "Cooped Up" is a sharp blog and I love the great picture of his son, Noah. What a cute little guy!

Warner Went Wilder...

Tony Adragna
Hey, Will, I just read where "Warner said it was 'time to acknowledge that some programs and agencies will need to be reduced substantially, fundamentally altered or eliminated entirely.'"

Does that sound to you like an "acknowledgement" that Mr. Wilder was correct all along?

Hey, it your state, I'm just trying to figure it out...

Kurtz Continues the Stonewall

Will Vehrs
Another Howard Kurtz WP on-line session, another refusal to discuss the Josh Marshall "Talking Points" trademark controversy. My question was phrased to let him confirm Marshall's account, or to give his own opinion. He didn't take my NYT question, but he answered a right-wing version of it, absolving Howell Raines.

Please Stand By While We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

We've had to temporarily disactivate the archives. Soon as we figure out how to fix the problem -- moths of archives disappeared and the stand troubleshoot didn't work -- we'll get them back up.

Permalinks are still working to individual item, but you just can't get to the archive pages...

A Convention Fit for Wrapping Cheese Sandwiches

Tony Adragna
Will, I did get around to some C-SPAN viewage this weekend, but only long enough to watch a discussion between Gen. Romeo Dallaire and Ted Koppel on Genocide in Rwanda. I heard the "cheese sandwich" verbiage during that discussion, and it's in reference to what Philip Gourevitch wrote on insights from a U.S. military intelligence officer:
Genocide is a cheese sandwich....What does anyone care about a year-old cheese sandwich? Cheese sandwich, cheese sandwich, cheese sandwich. Who gives a shit? Crimes against humanity-where's humanity? Who's humanity? You? Me? Did you see a crime committed against you? Hey, its just a million Rwandans. Did you ever hear about the Genocide Convention?...Makes a nice wrapping for a cheese sandwich.
I don't know whether Gourevitch was quoting the officer, or paraphrasing him -- I haven't seen the article... I'd like to believe it's a direct quotation -- but it fairly summarizes something we're seeing today vis a vis "conventional" international law: People do care about "cheese sandwiches" so long as there is parochial interest in the particular variety of "cheese" -- then the wrapper comes off and... oh, whata coinkydink... the wrapper just happens to be a warning against cheese sandwiches -- complete with instruction on how to dispose of them...

Saddam Hussein is the international community's cheese sandwich de jour and international law -- the UN Charter, conventions on Human Rights & chemical/biological weapons, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, UN Security Council resolutions -- is beginning to look like nothing more than wrapping for cheese sandwiches...

Now, I read the Scowcroft piece, as well as Kissinger's various essays on invading Iraq -- he's written several so far -- and I've listened to Gen. Schwartzkopf's coments: Plain to me that both the anti-war critics of Mr. Bush and the pro-invasion critics of Scowcroft et al are reading too much into what is, bottom line, agreement that Hussein poses a threat which must be dealt with. The only disagreement is on how & when.

I agree with those calling for a cautious approach, and one that makes an effort to bring some partners aboard a coalition. That means making a strong case, and I have to disagree with the characterization of Condi Rice's recent statement as heading in that direction.

Indeed, the "morality" language, the pursuit of a questionable justification for "preemption", and the nebulous nexus to September 11 are certainly the bane of this administration's legal case against Iraq. Such arguments elicit responses -- from the likes of Bruce Ackerman and William Van Alstyne -- that are not only cogent, but undoubtedly correct.

A strong case against Iraq can be made in light of violations of The Law of Nations & customary law of war and Hussien's continued violations of various international conventions & UN Security Council resolutions. Until this administration makes the case in this context -- rather than spewing forth such platitudes as "axis of evil", or engaging in hyperbole in re the threat that Hussein poses on U.S. soil -- the prosecution of Hussein is going nowhere.

Of course, my argument leads down the slippery slope of the U.S. becoming something akin to the world's cop on the beat enforcing international law.

So what!?!-- the alternative is lawlessness which presents a danger to us all. That's the lesson of September 11, and it's utlimately in our own national interest to prosecute -- by military action if necessary -- criminals who shield themselves in Westpahlia's cloak of sovereignty.

Punditwatch Supplement

Will Vehrs
As I noted yesterday, Punditwatch was unable to cover ABC's This Week. Fortunately, TNR, usually fixated on Meet the Press, covered the George Stephanopolous interview of White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett. It's fairly even-handed, by their standards. You'll find the article here, but TNR is now requiring registration.

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Heavyweight Battle I just love it when one media giant attacks another. The Wall Street Journal's lead editorial this morning, available on Opinion, attacks the New York Times' coverage of the Brent Scowcroft op-ed the WSJ ran on Thursday. I think they make a good case and they go on to put Scowcroft's commentary in perspective, although along the way they jab Senator Chuck Hagel (R, NE). I thought that was the National Review's Rich Lowry beat.

Don't Blame the FBI? I've seen criticism of the FBI for "leaking" information about Dr. Steven Hatfill, the alleged suspect in the anthrax mailings. Robert Bartley's column in the WSJ today, also available on, added information to the story that I had not heard. It seems that Barbara Hatch Rosenberg of the Federation of American Scientists has been conducting a campaign to make Hatfill a suspect. It seems possible that maybe it's not the FBI leaking so much as Rosenberg. In keeping with the WSJ's anti-NYT stance, Bartley also lumps Nicholas Kristof in with Rosenberg. He has used her leads in his NYT column. Update: Mona Charen takes both the FBI and Rosenberg to task.

Questions for Kurtz I've submitted another question to Howard Kurtz of the WP about the Josh Marshall "Talking Points" controversy, as well as a question about all the criticism of the NYT. I'll let you know if Kurtz responds.

Redskins 35, Steelers 34 Steeler fan Kevin Holtsberry confidently posted his report on the game at halftime, when the Spurriers were down 17-0. There's a reason they play 60 minutes ....
Update: Kevin awoke to shocking news that the game turned around in the fourth quarter, but he stubbornly prefers to continue basking in the first half glow of the Steelers "D," amply aided by penalties against the 'Skins.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Richard Dawson Lives in Punditwatch

Will Vehrs
The weekend pundits turned their shows into "Family Feud," as you'll see if you check out the just-posted Punditwatch. B. B. King denies that swivel-hipped white guys are his type, Fox brings Jim Bunning out the bullpen, and we get a less than satisfying answer to why there are floods in Europe and drought in the US.

It's all in there. Unfortunately, there's no coverage of This Week, pre-empted in my area by a telethon for homeless animals. I'm not as upset by that as I was when it was pre-empted by a Pat Robertson telethon ....