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Saturday, September 07, 2002

Misc Addenda in re International Support...
... And an Apology

Tony Adragna
Why am I convinced that Holbrooke et al [A group which I smugly count myself a member of] are on target?

Because the naysayers — those saying "We don't need no support, and we aint gonna get it anyway so why waste time" and those saying "The Arabs aren't gonna agree & the 'Arab Street' is gonna rise against us" — have a bad track record calling the race.

The We don't need/it's a waste folks made the same arguments prior to our getting international support for going into Afghanistan. The "Arab Street"ers made their same arguments prior our going into Afghanistan with international support, and the Arab Street didn't rise up against us.[ no more than before, anyway — we're facing an increasing terrorist threat no matter what we do, so the rise isn't an argument for inaction]

Could we be wrong this time? Certainly, but you can't ignore that they're making the same arguments that were so wrong before....

And an apology for the extensive block quoting in the post below — if'n I coulda done it differently I woulda...

Beating Around the Bush

Tony Adragna
Will, before I talk 'bout the Op-Eds, I wanna note a couple things 'bout the Prime Minister's Press Conference[I know I'm tardy, as I'm tardy with today's lengthy post...]

From the PM's opening statement:
[,,,] when people attack America and say why do they act unilaterally and all the rest of it, I actually haven't found on these issues of security they do that at all, for reasons again I am happy to explain in a moment.
And from the Question and answer session with journalists:

You have painted today a very grave and convincing scenario for the free world of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. How can you therefore explain the degree of complacency in many capitals across the world, particularly in capitals across Europe of experienced major nations as to that threat, and do you think Europe is in danger of not bearing, what you talked about, its share of the burden of standing up for civilised values?


I hope Europe will. I think it is in part because people fear that some action will be taken of a pre-emptory nature, without any proper discussion and without considering the consequences, that is what people fear. And what I say to people, and I say this particularly incidentally in some of the, I described it as anti-Americanism earlier, I think there is a lot of that around and I think it is wrong, misguided and dangerous. I also think that some of the criticism of George Bush is just a parody of the George Bush that I know and work with.

The person that I know and work with operates on these security issues in a calm and sensible and measured way and the best proof of that is after 11 September. He waited weeks in order to make sure that the action that would be taken was right, he built up international support, he was firm and determined to deal with the issue but dealt with it in the right way. And I think a lot of the worry in opposition is that people think well haven't they thought of this or are they just going to rush in and do that. We are not going to do any of those things but we are going to deal with it and we will deal with it as democracies should deal with it, with firmness but with the proper debate about the issues concerned.
Compare Mr. Blair's words to the March 13 '02 words From Left Field
Finally, we come to the fight against terrorism. Critics have labelled this "America's War", and even more cynically "Bush's War". Meanwhile, proponents of unilateral action have pointed to the administration's actions as the laudable end of multilateralism. Neither the critics nor the proponents are correct -- we've done nothing unilateral in this current conflict. Prior to commencing action the U.S. recieved international support from both NATO and the U.N.. Once action began, our movement into Afghanistan was facilitated by neighboring governments -- specifically, Uzbekestan and Pakistan -- without whose acquiessence we would've had a much more difficult task. In fact, it might even be argued that sending in troops would have been impossible without the support of countries in region, and the administration wouldn't have even tried. But, again, such an argument is unprovable, so we have to go with what we do know -- rhetoric aside, we haven't acted unilaterally.

Might we act unilaterally in the future, particualarly againt Iraq? I won't make a prediction. However, after looking at how the war has been expanding so far -- into the Philippines and Yemen -- I suspect that we'll see more bilateral action accompanied by more unilateralist rhetoric, but no unilateral action.[emphasis original except bold italics begining the last graf]
Now look at the recent debate. Both crtics and advocates of "unilateral action" have become increasingly vocal — see Cheny et al v. Webb et al. But where has the debate on action gone?

Well, the Unilateralists certainly haven't won. But the Multilateralists victory really isn't the triumph it appears — there was never any question which side would win. I pulled my punch not "mak[ing] a prediction" back in March... My suspicion was that funny feeling in my tummy that I'm supposed to go with...

My comments on "why no former Clintonite foreign policy officials were doing the Iraq op-ed shuffle" — including a correction to an earlier comment — are in The Refuge. I read somewhere, and I don't remember where, that there's too much being made of the division within the GOP and not enough attention being given to where the Dems are on the debate. I think that's correct, and I think there's a reason — in politics, unlike music, harmony doesn't sell as well as discord.

You've figured out by now that I'm a bit perturbed by what is a wrong impression that the debate on Iraq breaks along party lines. I've done my best to correct that impression, but I'm really just pointing out what ought be obvious to anybody who reads the Op-Ed pages. Those who pay attention [I wasn't on the day in question day] should recall Sandy Berger's "Building Blocks to Iraq" as a sensible argument that military action oughtn't be the first step, and when we do go — as he concedes we may need to — it shouldn't be in a way that makes things worse.

Holbrooke has actually written twice. On Aug 27 [I was paying attention then, but I forgot that I was] he directly addressed the concerns of those who assert Russia, France, and China will put up roadblocks. He wrote:
Washington policymakers have three core concerns when they discuss the Security Council route: first, that Iraq will agree to inspections and then cheat (again); second, that Russia or France will water down any resolution to the point of meaninglessness; third, that the resolution will not authorize regime change but only some lesser goal such as the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

On the first point, Russia, France and China are the key countries; any one of them could block Security Council action by using its veto power. But if the new Bush-Putin relationship is worth anything, Moscow should support a tough regime; it has already indicated readiness to do so in private. As for France, it will undoubtedly play its normal role as a difficult and contentious ally, but in the end, it will not stop the concerted will of America and Britain. If London aggressively supports Washington, a resolution strong enough to lay the basis for action will be achievable. China will have its qualms, but it will not use the veto against the rest of the international community.

So the betting here is that effective American diplomacy -- including the direct involvement of the president, as was famously illustrated by the personal coalition-building efforts of the senior President Bush -- would result in a Security Council resolution strong enough to lay the basis for immediate military action if Iraq violated it, as it has violated previous resolutions. If, however, such a resolution cannot be achieved, the administration, having made a best-faith effort in the Security Council, will be in a much stronger position to garner international and domestic support for action than if it had never tried at all.
In the piece Holbrooke wrote for today, he amplifies on the "If, however, such a resolution cannot be achieved" scenario:
As commercial jets roared overhead, the Europeans asked the Russian foreign minister -- then, as now, Igor Ivanov -- to agree to a Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force. Ivanov said he could not do so. The German foreign minister, Klaus Kinkel, almost begged Ivanov to give the Europeans something, anything, to justify collective action by NATO; it was needed, Kinkel explained, under German interpretation of international law. The British, French and Italian foreign ministers supported Kinkel, but Ivanov continued to state, politely but flatly, that he could never agree.

It was clear to Madeleine Albright and to me that Ivanov was saying that Moscow knew it could not stop collective military action (in this case by NATO) but that Russia could not formally endorse such action. Go ahead, Ivanov seemed to be saying, but not with Russia's explicit approval.

It took our European colleagues awhile to arrive at the same conclusion, but after several hours, even Kinkel understood that we now faced a simple choice: Act without the Security Council -- or don't act at all. The fact that we had made a serious effort to obtain Security Council approval but faced a certain Russian veto was vital; it allowed our European allies, led by Tony Blair, to support NATO action without prior Security Council approval.
That sheds light on what Tony Blair meant during the press conference when he kept on about how the international community couldn't be allowed to not act regardless of whether the Security Council gets its act together — not his exact words, but it's what he meant.

Further to Diplomacy & Containment, I'm recalling how well that worked on Communism. Certainly we kept Communism from taking over the world, but might not it have been better to kill that monster at its birth, as Churchill suggested?

Of course! That we didn't meant that we had to keep it caged up. To what end?

Well, those who claim that containment caused the fall of the Soviet Union are missing the point that the implosion wasn't due to pressure applied from outside. Rather, the cause was a counter-revolution: Russians had enough, and it was only a matter of time. But it was a long time, with much repression & state sponsored murder, before Russians took back their liberty. Did we have to stand by all that time and just watch it happen so long as it was contained? Is that the moral thing to do?

While we're talking about "containing" folks like Hussein & Castro, innocent folk in those countries are suffering. The blame rests solely on those totalitarian regimes, but if we allow that status quo ante, then we're failing a moral duty...

Addendum: In the discussion of Op-Ed I meant to include a link to Kinsley's Government by Op-Ed as on-point regarding how & who ends up on those pages:
Disarray" is the approved label for the peculiar process by which this nation is deciding whether to go to war against Iraq. Enormous power has been vested in the editors of newspaper op-ed pages, who get to decide which former official of the previous Bush administration will get the next opportunity to remind the world that he is still alive. Bush du Jour lets his people squabble in public. All deplorably chaotic to the orderly minds of foreign policy land.
In fairness to Op-Ed page editors, I think Kinsley is being a bit hyperbolic — I think those editors would find it difficult to turn down a bit of commentary from Clinton admin officials of the same rank as those speaking from the former Bush administration. But, I then hafta ask myself: Have those editors solicited commentary from Clinton admin officials in an attempt to get their perspective? Hmmm...

QP Saturday

Will Vehrs
It's race weekend here in Richmond, so thoughts of anything but NASCAR are put aside. Lord knows I've tried, but except for a brief fling when I was about ten years old, I've never been able to get interested in car racing.

Mark Byron picked up on my post about Professor Sabato's predictions for the fall campaign. Charles Austin, reigning Caption Contest champ, noticed my deference to him in all Richard Cohen-related matters.

Over in The Refuge, Zathras wondered why no former Clintonite foreign policy officials were doing the Iraq op-ed shuffle. As if he heard him, Richard Holbrooke has one this morning. I've got to dash, but I commend it to Tony and Zathras for comment.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Bush Behind the Curve,
But It's Not Too Late!

Tony Adragna
Will, I have a different take (natch) than you do on Kerry's op-ed. As early as July 16 Kerry spoke in support of regime change[go to "next page"] but was critical of the administration's approach — the criticism was reiterated on July 29, and it's the same tone he maintains today.

The criticism of Kerry's opinion — the same criticism applied to others accross the political spectrum who have voiced the same opinion — boils down to: By the time we jump through the hoops, it'll be too late! Where's the support for that assertion? The support is in rhetoric, not in substance. Even Mr. Cheney's recent comments balk at going the distance on how imminent is the threat — he admits "Just how soon, we cannot really judge." If you're wanting to make the case that the threat is imminent — no time for debate & coalition building — then you've at least got to judge that the threat presents fairly soon rather than we don't know how soon.

It's a better case argued on what we do know, and that's exactly what George Shultz does. Nothwithstanding the case he makes for preemption, even Shultz points to Security Council resolutions and makes an argument for "enforcement". Of course, he says "Let us go to the Security Council and assert this case with the care of a country determined to take decisive action" — "assert" rather than "convince" or "seek authority" — but that's still a good bit ahead of where the "hawks" have been coming from.

And whether the adiministration gets support depends on how it sells the case — the point of Dionne's column is that the administration screwed the sales pitch. The attempts to link Iraq and al Qaeda have been viewed with skepticism, and that's hurt the administration's credibility. If the administration could actually make that case, then I think you'd see support for unilateral action — even at the risk of U.S. casualities — back up near 80%. [ my thoughts on the Iran-Al Qaeda linkage, and public support for military action in Iraq in general are below] Of the 64% who right now favor war in Iraq, support for "unilateral action" is evenly divided, making the better sales pitch the one reaching out to multilateralists.

But, I've gotta note that if the international community, Congress, and the public end up supporting coalition military action based on enforcement of Security Council Resolutions, then it's obvious who was wasting time and how — that's why the administration is trying to play catch-up, and though it's tardy, that's not the same as too late...

Misc. Errata in re Iraq

Tony Adragna
I may have — actually, I did — prematurely claim victory on the Iraq-Al Qaeda linkage debate. Terry Neal points to a March 2002 "16,000 word New Yorker article [by] reporter Jeffrey Goldberg [which] offered compelling evidence of ties between Hussein and al Qaeda."

I've no doubt that there are members of al Qaeda being shielded by Islamists in Iraq. I've also no doubt that Iraq's intelligence service is mixed up with terrorists — in fact, as early as Oct 25 '01 I opined that"Even if the anthrax mailings aren't being sponsored by the 'state' of Iraq, this doesn't rule out some sympathizer within Iraq as the source." It's not an unheard of phenomenon that intelligence services sometimes work their own agendas, and that those agendas are sometimes above and beyond — even at cross purposes with — direction received from national leadership. Just look at Gen. Musharraf's problems with Pakistan's ISI if you want an example.

But, I'm still not convinced that Saddam Hussein hisself — despite the Constantine-like conversion — is as allied with Islamists as is suggested. The author notes the cynical nature of Hussein's conversion, and that's the key to this puzzle. Picking up the Constantine analogy: The "conversion" was all about seeking advantage in pursuit of one's own goals. In Constantine's case, the goal was unification of the Empire through military victory, and sole rule. Hussein's ambitions may be the same, but his vision of the new "Caliphate" and who should rule it doesn't seem to me to be consistent with the vision of Islamists.

The Upshot: More likely than not, Hussein wouldn't play with the likes of al Qaeda any further than he can throw them, the Islamists feel the same about Hussein, and any link between the two is more on the order one of taking advantage of the chaos caused by the other.

According to Goldberg, even our Kurdish friends won't go so far as to say that Hussein is involved in terrorism:
The Kurdish intelligence officials I spoke to were careful not to oversell their case; they said that they have no proof that Ansar al-Islam was ever involved in international terrorism or that Saddam's agents were involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But they do have proof, they said, that Ansar al-Islam is shielding Al Qaeda members, and that it is doing so with the approval of Saddam's agents.
If the Iraqi intelligence officer Qassem Hussein Muhammad is typical of "Saddam's agents" written about here — a Shiite from southern Iraq sent on missions into Iran — then my suggestion that there are "rogues" within Iraq's intelligence service offers a compelling alternative to the argument that Hussein hisself is mixed up with al Qaeda et al.

Indeed, contra the suggestions that Iraq has been trying to set up the Islamists for blame over September 11, it's just as likely that Islamists have been trying to plant evidence against Iraq.

But, as I've ever said, this whole line of inquiry ought be moot, because we really don't need this linkage in order to prosecute a case against Iraq — the linkage would make a more expedient case, and an especially more compelling one if Iraq could be tied directly to the attacks of last September, but a failure to prove that case doesn’t defeat the argument for military action in Iraq to prosecute a continuing threat to international security.

In Support of War, I answered an email to a reader by writing the following:
The support for "unilateral preemption" is certainly falling as it becomes evident that there is no imminent threat. It's another matter whether there's public & international support for a coalition based action to force Iraq's compliance with international norms -- that argument has yet to be put before the public or the international community.
But, the question has been asked of the public:
Q.51/53 Would you favor or oppose taking military action in Iraq to end Saddam Hussein’s rule? [IF FAVOR, ASK: Should we attack Iraq only if our major allies agree to join us, or attack Iraq even if allies do not want to join us?]

Natl  NYC  WDC
64     --      --   Favor
30     --      --   Even if allies won’t join
30     --      --   Only if allies agree
4       --      --   Don’t know/Refused
21     --      --   Oppose
15     --      --   Don’t know/Refused

Q.52/53 Would you favor or oppose taking military action in Iraq to end Saddam Hussein’s rule, even if it meant that U.S. forces might suffer thousands of casualties?[IF FAVOR, ASK: Should we attack Iraq only if our major allies agree to join us, or attack Iraq even if allies do not want to join us?]

Natl.   NYC   WDC
42       --      --   Favor
18       --      --   Even if allies won’t join
21       --      --   Only if allies agree
3        --      --   Don’t know/Refused
41       --      --   Oppose
17       --      --   Don’t know/Refused

[see page 57 of the release]
I maintain my intuitive distrust of reliance on polls, but I found the responses to Q53 upsetting — for the love of God, when are Americans gonna wake up to the fact that we can't have war without putting lots of lives at risk!


There is still reason to believe that the case for military action against Iraq — when the Prez finally gets around to making it — will prevail notwithstanding casualties, on the condition that it's a coalition response. Absent that condition, I don't see us going anywhere near engaging in Iraq on a scale larger than sending in small units to support opposition forces in the north.

But, I think we'll get the wanted international support if we make the case on enforcement of Security Council Resolutions...

The Latest Line

Will Vehrs
Ramesh Ponnuru noticed it first in NRO's The Corner--University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry Sabato's initial "Crystal Ball" analysis of the fall 2002 elections. Sabato runs the non-partisan Center for Politics at UVA and his work is widely respected.

The Crystal Ball will be updated frequently between now and the election, plus Sabato's Youth Leadership Initiative will conduct an Internet election for high school students across the country ahead of the November 5th voting.

The startling thing for me about Sabato's comprehensive analysis is just how close the parties are at this point in the battle for control of Congress.

As it stands now, the Crystal Ball rates only 16 House of Representatives seats as toss-ups. When safe, likely, and leaning seats are counted, 217 are in the Republican column and 202 are Democratic. It takes 218 for control, of course.

In the Senate, where 34 seats are being contested, Sabato offers a spread ("range of likely results"): anywhere from +3 Democrats to +3 Republicans.

The "range of likely results" in gubernatorial contests is from +2 Republicans to +8 Democrats.

The last Punditwatch quoted DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe's prediction made on Meet the Press: "4-7 governorships, 2-3 Senate seats, and at least six house seats.” McAuliffe's predictions square with the implied "best case" scenario for Democrats that Sabato's analysis offers and might explain why Republicans are downplaying expectations of gains in favor of hoping to just "hold on."

It's going to be fun to follow updates issued from Thomas Jefferson's University.

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Dead Link Day Maybe it's just me, but none of the editorial page links on the Washington Post site worked this morning. It looks like former Secretary of State George Schultz answered my "last call for op-eds on Iraq" announcement. From the headline, it appears that he's a hawk. Perhaps from your print copy on the train, Tony, you can "Carterize" Schultz. Perpetual hawk Charles Krauthammer's latest is inaccessible to me, as is an E. J. Dionne, Jr. piece that probably castigates the Bush Administration for having "dissension" in the ranks, judging from the headline.

Prove It Prove that there's no other option in Iraq but a military one seems to be Senator John Kerry's position in an NYT op-ed today. Of course, his argument is carefully crafted to allow him to be perceived as having favored whatever action is taken if it works. Check out these two statements amidst the criticism of the Bush Administration's approach and Kerry's desire to gain international approval:

Regime change in Iraq is a worthy goal.

There is, of course, no question about our capacity to win militarily, and perhaps to win easily.

"We may have no choice" but to invade Iraq, Kerry says, but that invasion is far off and might be too late if the US clears all the hurdles he suggests.

Why Not the Best? A local personal injury law firm that advertises heavily on televison has been sanctioned by the Virginia State Bar's Standing Committee on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation. Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen 's ads touting itself as "the best" were challenged by other law firms as being "false, deceptive and misleading." The State Bar Committee agreed, but now the Allens are taking the matter to court. Their action reminds me of another ad that probably runs all over the country for various law firms, where the ex-Man from U.N.C.L.E. intones, "Show them you mean business!" (In another dead link fiasco, the article in the print edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch is not available on-line.)

Infatuation Caption Contest entries from posters in The Refuge used to be chic, hip, and what's happening. Apparently, Dodd has moved on and now Charles Austin is "da bomb." Who knew a tarp joke would tickle the funny bone of an 80's pop culture aficiando?

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Carterizing the Debate

Tony Adragna
Sorry Will, but I concur — with minor exception — in what Mr. Carter said.

Mindful that Carter's preference is toward the "pacific" settlement of disputes, it's safe to assume that at heart he's "anti-war". I think, though, that it's a mistake to read the op-ed in question as making an anti-war argument. What the argument is is what Webb failed at yesterday — an argument against "preemption" and "unilateral action".

But, it's more than that — Carter goes where Webb refused to tread. "There is an urgent need for U.N. action to force unrestricted inspections in Iraq" suggests that Carter could get behind a U.N. Resolution authorizing force if it comes to that. Indeed, properly focused, as a last resort after failed negotiations, and acting under the auspices of the United Nations, such an action might pull Carter's support .

"But perhaps deliberately so, this has become less likely as we alienate our necessary allies" echoes my own criticism of how the administration until very recently has gone about arguing the case. Carter has previously written with equal cynicism regarding how the U.S. has gone about achieving its aims. Note that Carter doesn't consider "sending military forces" into a region to be the worst option — certainly he would consider it an option to be avoided if at all possible, but not one to be avoided at all costs.

Carter quite obviously believes that we haven't yet reached the point where a military operation is the only option left. On that point there's disagreement — I believe that the only effective option in re Iraq is military force. But, Carter is too right when he says, "We have thrown down counterproductive gauntlets to the rest of the world..." At this point it doesn't matter which option we argue for, it's still gonna take much persuasion to convince the rest of the world that Cheney was off the reservation and our goals & intentions are much more aligned than appears.

I do take strong exception with Carter's last graf. It may appear to some that the "hawks" have been dominant, but that's mostly due to the fact that the "hawks" have been so stridently vocal and include the VP & SecDef in their ranks. But, the truth trumps appearances — the truth is that this administration (here I go again) has never been as unilateral as appears, and the thoughtful voices of caution have actually prevailed in the instant debate.

On the nexus between I raq & September 11, as I've ever argued, it doesn't exist, and the administration never really cared whether it did! It's been all along an attempt to make a double play! Advantage QP [yes, that's smug.. so what!]

And, a milestone is reached today -- I've finally read something with which I aggree by Jonah Goldberg:
A stable, Nazi-run Europe would have been no friend and an unstable but democratizing Middle East would be no foe. After the Gulf War, the signs were there for a U.S.-led transformation of the region, but we turned our backs on those we had encouraged to rise up and embraced, once again, those committed to keeping their subjects down. Until that status quo is crushed and flushed clean by the tide of history, there will always be bin Ladens. Indeed, that is where the moral and realpolitik cases for war intertwine.

The biggest favor the United States ever did to militaristic Japan was to crush it militarily. Our victory ushered in prosperity, democracy, and a productive peace. The Iraqi people would be lucky if we did them the same favor.
I also managed to beat Jonah to the press on that same point...

Focusing on Maryland politics... I just got a note from the party's "central committee" (am I wrong to find that creepy?) endorsing a slate of candidates. Just found out that Hoyer ain't my man anymore — been redistricted inot Al Wynn territory... that leaves me some catching up to do... the race I'm watching in MD's 8th is looking to be more worriesome for Morella — turns out that the Democratic challengers haven't been beating each other up and weakening the party...

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Naval Warfare Tony, that article in the Times Online was a travesty. Dodd's response was a classic and I was glad to see all the cyber shipmates unite in righteous anger against this journalistic debacle.

Webbing Carter Congrats on stirring a big reaction in blogdom with your excellent analysis of the James Webb op-ed, Tony. I will now offer you the opportunity to analyze former President Carter's piece in today's Washington Post. The former president says "Belligerent and divisive voices now seem to be dominant in Washington."

Great Day in the Opinion Section There's just a ton of thought-provoking stuff published today:

Eliot Cohen wades into well-trod QP territory with a discussion of "Chicken Hawks."

Richard Cohen (no relation, I'm sure) does a 9/11 retrospective. He blames the government. The Clinton Administration was "lethargic" in confronting terror and the Bush Administration "dawdled," despite a warning from the outgoing lethargic ones. Charles Austin has the Cohenwatch territory staked out, so I'll await his take.

If "The Torch" isn't in trouble in NJ, he should be. George Will profiles a Senator on the run:

Torricelli, whose feverish careerism makes him the Energizer Bunny -- perhaps the Energizer Ferret -- of American politics, also is a human Enron in a year of handcuffed CEOs doing perp walks. His hometown newspaper has demanded his resignation. The largest paper in South Jersey says, "Torricelli cannot remove the stench of corruption, even if he showers from now until Election Day."

Bob Herbert of the NYT does a post-mortem on the Andrew Cuomo campaign and finds racially-tinged excuses:

I asked Mr. Cuomo several times if his personality — or at least the public's perception of his personality — didn't have something to do with his low standing in the polls. He did not buy that at all.

"The negative here," he said, "is that I was running against the first African-American. It was his turn."

Is it just me, or do liberal/left-leaning/Democrat blogs tend to steer clear of internal Democratic party politics, preferring just to skewer Republicans and highlight schisms in the GOP? I checked out a few places on The Lefty Directory blogroll and I couldn't find anyone commenting on a high-profile race whose cast included President Clinton, Senator Clinton, Charles Rangel, and the Cuomo/Kennedy connection. I seem to remember that I didn't see much on "lefty" sites about the McKinney-Majette race, but plenty of glee at the demise of Bob Barr.

If I've missed some blog commentary on NY politics from those who support Democrats, please let me know. I'm not including Mickey Kaus here, because I think he's been ostracized by the left for being too willing to "think outside the box."
Update: Tapped has an astute commentary on Cuomo. He shouldn't have run in the first place! I think that's fair.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Update: Webb on the World

Tony Adragna
Severl readers have written in response to my previous on Webb. They ask "but, what about X", so let me try to respond.

First, I should've made clear that I don't buy the whole argument that the campaign in Iraq is part of the fight against terrorism. If that wan't clear — I definitely didn't even allude to that belief at the time, though I have repeatedly done so in the past — well, now 'ya know. That argument is part of what I call the "bane" of this administration's rhetoric — it pits straw man against straw man, and neither is particularly effective at shooing away the crows.

See, the campaing against Iraq has been conflated with the campaign against terrorism in an argument for "preemption", but the two campaigns are distinct, and this attempt to draw a nexus has confused the debate.

Now, how 'bout Webb's reference to that news conference where Gen. Pace mentioned "Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Georgia, Colombia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and North Korea." Well, maybe I'm looking at the wrong transcript, but the Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2002 - 1:01 p.m. EDT DoD News Briefing — the only one at which Gen. Pace spoke that I could find from "last week" — there's no mention of the countries Webb cited. OK, maybe Pace made those remarks prior to or post briefing, so I can't refute Webb's citation.

But, Webb is writing 'bout "the scope for potential anti-terrorist action" without discussing the range of options that "action" might include. The impression given is that we would exercise the same option in Iran etc. as is being currently advocated against Iraq. If that were a course of action being seriously considered by the administration, then I'd be the first in line to slap somebody silly — we couldn't do it all if we wanted to, I don't see why we would want to confront terrorism the same way we confront a regime, and we wouldn't want to confront every regime in the same way anyway.

Webb is partly correct — an occupation of Iraq will stretch our forces. But, not to the extent of having an adverse impact on the campaign against terrorism, because the types of units we would use to occupy Iraq aren't the same types of units — Special Forces, etc. — most effective against terrorists.

Would a campaign in Iraq actually be to our detriment vis a vis actually increasing the incidence of terrorism? I advert to my earlier note that I don't buy into the argument that Iraq's downfall would have any impact on terrorism one way or the other. If that's not good enough, then you'd better go talk to Robert Wright.

The point is that you fight terrorism by, well, fighting terrorism — notwithstanding the rhetoric, fighting terrorism isn't the point of going to war against Iraq.

Avast Ye Lubber

Tony Adragna
Bill Herbert and Dodd Harris — both of whom I'd be happy to call shipmate sight-unseen — point to an attempt by Times Online to take a stab at the United States Navy. The upshot — as is usually the case whenever a couple of goldbricks get together to gundeck (falsify, prevaricate, lie) a report — is obtuse in every way.

I won't respond myself as I don't want to look at that piece of idiocy again. Dodd's response will suffice as a full refutation and rebuke to the authors, and Bill's response — "Quite obviously, these two slobbering jackasses haven't been anywhere near a Navy vessel in about 30 years" — catches my sentiment and penchant for brevity precisely.

As an indication of just how fired up these two gents (the Times authors) have got me, here's what I think: There's an old Naval tradition — discontinued, of course — of punishing sailors by "tricing" them up... Oh, for the days of "rum, bum, and the lash" — Mr. Churchill was speaking of the Royal Navy, and I doubt the authors even knew that...

n.b. See the definition of lubber for why I chose that word...

Oh What a Webb We Weave...

Tony Adragna
I read Mr. Webb's argument on the train this morning, and it doesn't strike me as very cogent, Will.

He's very correct on the mindfulness of military leaders "not only for how they fight wars, but also for how they prevent them." I've often enough written against the myth — and that's truly what it is — that generals love war: Indeed, the "best military leaders" would rather find a way to not fight an unnecessary war. There's a rational argument — though I don't agree — that containment has been working vis a vis Iraq; therefore invasion & regime change, with all that entails, is unnecessary.

I very much disagree with Mr. Webb on the "flippant criticisms" — to the contrary, it's a criticism made with utter seriousness, and meant to be an indictment of the "International System". It's a criticism I agree with, and had the international community at that time considered Hussein's belligerance with the same level of seriousness, then we might not be where we're at today with respect to Iraq.

Mr. Webb's critique of the "MacArthurian regency in Baghdad" suggests that the comparison is actually a juxtaposition. It's true that "Our occupation forces never set foot inside Japan until the emperor had formally surrendered and prepared Japanese citizens for our arrival." It's not so true that "MacArthur [did not] destroy the Japanese government when he took over as proconsul after World War II."

On the latter point Mr. Webb forgets that Japan's wartime leadership was a military bureaucracy that had been running the country since at least 1932, and — with the exception of shielding the Emperor — the Allies thoroughly dismantled that government and prosecuted a number of its leaders. Moreover, reform of Japan's political and social institutions went so far as reconstitution in forms not merely acceded to at the request of the Emperor, but welcomed and appreciated by the population.

None of this would have been possible had we not confronted the policies and actions of an aggressively militarist state with the only effective response — not diplomacy & containment, but the application of force of arms against a nation whose actions violate norms and threaten the peace and security of the community. We could not have occupied Japan until she was militarily defeated and surrendered, which we were able to do sans an invasion of the Home Islands. But, those islands were nonetheless targeted and attacked — the final attack being the only actual use of atomic weapons in warfare.

And, Mr. Webb's reference to a "30 to 50" year timeline can come neither from our post-war experience in Germany, nor Japan. We've had forces in those countries for that peiod of time, but the period of "occupation" was six years in Japan (full sovereign independence was restored in September '51) and seven years in Germany (or ten years, depending on how you count — the occupation officially ended in '52, but full independence and NATO membership didn't come 'til '55).[ I can envision an occupation of Iraq lasting roughly the same length of time, and the continued presence of U.S. forces in the region — though at a heightened level for some period — would be a continuation of current operations, not something new.]

What's most instructive about World War II is that it was an unnecessary war. Had the community of nations — raptly pursuing the ideals of a new paradigm envisioned by the League of Nations — faced down Japanese and German militarism as aggressively as those nations pursued their aims, then we might never have seen the horrible destruction and crimes against Humanity & Nature perpetrated by National Socialism in Europe, nor the neo-Shogunate in Asia.

Indeed, diplomacy & containment were not only unsuccessful in the inter-war period, but disastrously so — especially as applied to Germany. A WaPo letter writer notes:
Germany in the 1930s was a front-rank economic and technical power, headed by a figure untainted and untaught by failure and operating in a continent traumatized into desperate fear of war by a recent conflict of then-unique severity. Iraq is nothing like this, and Saddam Hussein has already had his Czechoslovakia. Its name was Kuwait.
The writer couldn't be more wrong. That Germany was a thechnical and industrial power — the envy and source of angst to her neighbours — is undisputed. But, Germany was economically bankrupt! Mix one part undefeated pride — left intact by virtue of "diplomatic settlement", and bolstered by the also left intact source of that pride (Krupp et al) — with one part economic hardship and one part of human nature (the tendency to blame "others" for one's own condition), and you've fertile ground for the rise of a Hitler.

Had Germany been thoroughly defeated and transformed at the end of World War I — just as West Germany and Japan were at the conclusion of the latter war — then, again, we might not have seen the latter war.

Mr. Webb writes of "unintended consequences" and says "ask the Germans" about those. Right, let's ask the German's 'bout how they took advantage of the international diplomatic community in the inter-war period — WWII is a consequence the diplomats never did intend.

The parallel to our current dispute with Iraq is on point: Had we dealt with Iraq's regime decisively during the last campaign — rather than opting for a "diplomatic settlement" — then we might not be where we're at today.

The point of Mr. Webb's essay is an opinion in which I fully concur: "Unilateral action", and the arguments in support of that proposition, will lead down a path we oughtn't take. But, Mr. Webb's argument doesn't really support that conclusion, and the citations from history support a contrary conclusion.

Update: "Bush Pledges to Seek Congressional Approval on Iraq (, and repeats that the U.S. will seek to build an international coalition & attempt to work through the UN... so, what's all the fuss that Mr. Webb (and others) is going on about?

Update: More thoughts above

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Just Leave the Seat Down Tony, I have found that the best way to defend the humble, yet oh so functional urinal, is to be a vigorous advocate of potty parity.

Mega-Embarassment I don't care how it's spun, Andrew Cuomo's withdrawal from the NY gubernatorial primary is a huge embarassment. I don't buy that withdrawal preserves his "political viability." He's going to have a tough time trying to repair his image while cooling his heels awaiting the 2006 Governor's race. What else can he run for?

Brian Lehrer in Slate was tough on Cuomo:

He might have challenged the notoriously undemocratic New York state government, where most important decisions are made by "three men in a room," as the Albany cliché has it. But beyond the "outsider" posturing, Cuomo never raised this as a serious issue.

Instead of staking out bold positions ... Cuomo's strategy was to agree with McCall on everything and to try to convince voters he alone had the personality to get more results

The NYT editorial board, probably trying to make the best of a bad situation for a guy they liked, saw something Lehrer didn't seem to find:

The departing Mr. Cuomo says he intends to continue speaking out about the dysfunctional state of the political culture in Albany. We hope he keeps his word. Mr. Cuomo deserves credit for raising this issue in the campaign. No politician could do a greater service to New York than in spreading unease through the ever-complacent ranks of state government.

Look for Cuomo to join a think tank or foundation where he can keep an eye on the political landscape, scanning for an opening.

Last Call for Op-Eds! James Webb, former Reagan Secretary of the Navy and Assistant Secretary of Defense, is the latest ex-official to sound the warning of impending doom:

The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years.

Maybe someone is reviewing the memoirs of the great departed foreign policy mavens, hoping to find a relevant nugget of warning about invading Iraq. I hope so, because we running out of "ex's" with the heft to command op-ed space.

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot Before I get Norah Vincented with a charge of plagiarism, let me credit Joni Mitchell for that little headline. Yesterday, I mentioned a WP article about several Fairfax County subdivisions selling out to a builder so that the land could be redeveloped for McMansion-like gated communities. Fritz Schranck, blogland's leading expert on state-local land use and zoning issues, saw the same article and wrote a great piece about the redevelopment of vacant retail space.

As I watch retail development continue to move southward along the Route 360 corridor in Chesterfield County, Virginia, where I live, causing the abandonment of perfectly serviceable older retail space, I hope I live long enough to someday see an abandoned strip mall razed and the parking lot returned to green space. I hear that the cost of disposing asphalt is a huge barrier to this idealistic dream, but recent revelations about the effects of over-development on groundwater supplies argue for looking to reduce the amount of earth covered by roads and parking lots.

Vacant large retail space also has potential for manufacturing and assembly. Economic developers should look to that space for industry, instead of constantly hawking green space to prospective companies.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Great Philandering Priapus

Tony Adragna
The Femi-Nazis would have us believe that the penis is the root of all evil!(or, is that the root of the penis is evil — I keep forgetting). The COINTELPRO Tool — whose troubles with CHT are much more fit for publication than some of the sea stories I could tell ('tis not his fault: he was an "O") — has found the most outlandish example of anti-priapic folderol I ever did see (and I've saw a lot).

As John Leo reports (scroll down to "Now sit, Ingvar, sit") some young women in alien climes — Venus, I suppose, but it could be somewhere further out — have latched onto a crusade to get rid of — I shit you noturinals.

They argue ostensibly "from concerns about hygiene–avoiding the splash factor", but, as is noted, the real reason is about an attempt at flushing man's pride down the the crapper.

Jokes on the Femi-Nazi's — removing urinals won't cause us to sit: We'll proudly stand at the commode (like we do at home) and there'll be even more seats all over pissed.

And they say that men don't understand women...

p.s. I'll gladly trade a mens' room urinal for one of those couches that the ladies get...

Dope on a Rope

Tony Adragna
Will, here's a good one for Glenn — William Raspberry says it'a a rope-a-dope!
Here's an explanation for the anti-Iraq saber-rattling now building in Washington: The Bush administration, though it would dearly love to have Saddam Hussein out of power, has no intention of taking unilateral military action against him. The sword-rattling is designed to make Hussein's military leaders see him as too dangerous for their own good.
He goes on to offer an alternative explanation that's just as plausible. But, I think Raspberry may be trying to convince himself of too much! My own view of the disagreement & consensus within the administration, and externally with our Allies, holds: The camps aren't intractable, the problem isn't insoluble, and everybody's going to follow the correct formula in reaching the answer. The answer is — Saddam Hussein must go!

Raspberry signs off with, "It's gotta be the shoes." In essence, he's correct and unintentionally speaks support for the consensus — It's Hussein's combat boots stomping 'round the place, and he's gotta be discalced...

National Missile Defense is back in the news. We had this debate pre-September 11, and the arguments I put forth then are more cogent now.

Who is "the threat" NMD wants to offer protection against? If the threat we're talking about comes from China or the DPRK, then a Theatre Defense would be more appropriate since it's our in-theatre allies at whose heart that dagger is poised to strike — NMD figures into that calculus only so far as the research might be applicable to TMD.

That same logic holds for a threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but why even rely on TMD? Why not in this instance go beyond defence & deterrence options — how 'bout exercising an offensive option to remove the threat? I don't believe that threat is imminent so as to justify unilateral "preepmtion", but neither do I believe the threat impotent.

In either case — as a response to threats posed by old Cold War adversaries, or by "rogues" — the "shield" of a National Missile Defense is impotent.

Josh gets closer to what's really going on than does the characterizations of "disagreement" drafted by most Two Camp thinkers. There certainly are real disagreements over "means" and the arguments that should be advanced in support. Those glossing the disagreements, and those making too much of the same, are doing disservice to the debate.

On Cheneys rhetoric, I have a different take than Josh. I think those remarks on "irrelevancy" represent a consensus on both sides of the inter-administration debate — the inspections per se are irrelevant, and the Powell-Scowcroft-Baker arguments don't dispute that point. However, pursuing that point the way that Cheney et al have been going about it is counter-productive.

Even Mr. Bush realizes that we want and need the support of our Allies — those in Eupore and those in theatre — and the recognition of moral & legal justification for the coming campaign.[n.b. Has anybody other than myself consistently argued that the current administration isn't so "unilateral" as the extreme wings of the political debate have assumed in argument?]

The "reservation" in this case encompasses all of the territory covered by arguments meant to compel joining in — or, at least, acquiescence [to] — "an offensive option to remove the threat" posed by the current regime in Iraq. Mr. Cheney has been off the reservation, so Card is probably technically correct. But, I think Josh is on target pointing out the real differences in advice that the President is getting from his senior staff.

Regarding my own campaign, the settlement is both agreement to a return of the little display area between the two halves of his collection and another display case near the top of the steps — I doubled my territory, so now I need more toys...

Two Minute Drill

Will Vehrs
Out of the Hammock Andrew Sullivan is back and his sweeping view of the NYT bias story is a thing of beauty. Josh Marshall is back, too, defending the NYT on the narrowest of grounds.

Sustain This Here's a trend worth watching: old suburban neighborhoods with trees and large lots selling out to developers for the construction of pricey McMansions.

Nixonian E. J. Dionne, Jr. looks at a "new" political trend:

A candidate decides which of his or her potential adversaries would make the strongest general election foe and then dumps money on radio and TV attack ads against that rival before the opposition holds its primary. The hope is that the voters in the other party will reject the strong opponent and nominate someone who would be easier to beat.

Although California Governor Gray Davis' ads against Richard Riordan seemed to be the starting point of this new tactic, Dionne notes that Richard Nixon pioneered it with his underground campaign against Ed Muskie in 1972.

Another Conspirator Paul Krugman adds Alan Greenspan to his target gallery in today's column. It's not just Bush's fault! Krugman criticizes Greenspan for letting the "bubble" get out of hand. Anybody remember Krugman issuing this criticism in 1999 or 2000?

Monday, September 02, 2002


All terms and conditions have been met. Some people just don't have what it takes to stand firm in the face of a determined underhanded campaign — thank God that's how la famiglia taught me to fight...

Breaking News: Terrorism Update

The Star War Collector
The Campaing has begun. Cocal Cola Polar Bear has been sighted in a doorway hanging by a length of telephone cord... His little friend is next...

Sustainable Responsibility

Tony Adragna
If there is one word that should be on everyone's lips at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, one idea that must animate the "plan of implementation" to be adopted there, one concept that embodies everything the United Nations hopes to achieve, it is responsibility -- responsibility for each other, for our planet and most of all, for the future security and well-being of succeeding generations.
So saysKofi Annan, and he's right. You can argue whether statements like "[...]emissions that now threaten havoc in our lifetime in the form of global climate change" are hyperbole unsupported by science or a prescient warning — I'm in the latter camp — but it's pretty clear that human activity has had some impact on our climate, and there are serious questions on what level of activity is sustainable.

What I don't get is why Annan repeats the battle cry that "the richest countries must lead the way." The "rich countries" have been leading the way for a long time now. We have "set an example" and we do "provide assistance". Yet, the developing countries have refused to follow. How are we in the "rich countries" responsible for their failures.

The UNEP's Global Environment Outlook-1 - 1997 ironically confirms the observation that developing countries just aren't pulling their weight. Table 2 shows Regional Environmental Trends — North America & Europe are in the best shape. That's probably because North America and Europe are furthest along in developing and implementing policy responses to environmental concerns — at least that's what Table 3 shows.

The "rich countries" certainly aren't responsible for that pollution cloud that threatens Asia. Likewise, it's not U.S. agro-business that's responsible for the slash & burn in the Amazon causing loss of CO2 sink and the natural cooling effect of green spaces. It's not Western countries who are responsible for soil degredation & famine in West Africa.

It is the responsibility of those governments who have failed to address environmental issues considered critically important in their own regions.

It's true that coordinated policy would be better than a hodge-podge, but it's also true that policies which most effectively lead toward sustainable growth and sustainable environmental quality are those policies coming out of the "rich countries". But, the developing countries want to be let free to "grow" using all of the worst practices that the "rich countries" have abandoned as irresponsible.

When I was a child and wanted to follow the bad example of some cool friend, the retort from the 'rents went something like, "If Johnny jumped off the bridge, would you jump too?"

What we did lead to wealth, but we didn't know at the time that we could attain the same level of growth in responsible ways. That same excuse doesn't apply today, and developing countries oughtn't get a pass. That's why we have a problem with "Kyoto".

I once upon a time thought that the U.S. was responsible for everybody's dirty water — then I visited India...

Trail Tromping Update: Went for a walk today, Will. The water has dropped some — 'tis at is normal level now, which is well above the not enough to "float a canoe" level — and has clarified. I hope we catch up on rainfall, and I really want a White Christmass this year...

Happy Labour Day to all yous folks what hafta work today...

Two Minute Work Break on Labor Day

Will Vehrs
WWII, Just a Skirmish Anyone who thought that the death of Princess Diana had been put in perspective after five years is horribly wrong.

Disgraceful Virginia Tech finally got some respect with a big win on national TV against a quality opponent, in front of 65,049 fans, the largest crowd ever to witness a football game in Virginia. The victory was marred by this unfortunate incident:

An emotional day in Blacksburg started with the arrest of more than 25 overzealous fans from Virginia Tech and LSU for disorderly conduct, after they got into what amounted to a shouting match in the middle of downtown Blacksburg's Main Street in the early-morning hours. Police in riot gear were called in to contain the melee.

GOP-Union Politics Rep. Charlie Norwood (R, GA) wants to get tough with union corruption, according to Bob Novak, but the Bush Administration apparently is opting for a political agenda:

Should Republicans woo blue-collar labor unions, unhappy with the dominance in the labor movement of service and government employees? Or should they accept Norwood's diagnosis and harass union bosses by revealing their corrupt lifestyles to rank-and-file members? The decision at the White House so far seems to be: Wine and dine labor leaders rather than put them on the grill.

Uncorroborated Story We're talking budget cuts in Virginia state government and I heard a funny story. The Department of Health conducts classes for women on pre-natal care, childcare, and general parenting skills. They also conduct classes for men on parenting skills. Apparently two separate groups give the classes and a meeting about cutting expenses got them together for the first time. Both groups give gifts to those attend the classes. The women get "sippy" cups. The men get ... grills! Not little tabletop grills--big stand-up grills. I think there are going to be some changes in that program.

Bush v. Bush William Safire looks at the fascinating rift that seems to exist between Bush 41 and Bush 43, as evidenced by the op-ed advice old Bush advisors are giving the current President. Lawrence Eagleburger said on Meet the Press that none of the old advisors had coordinated with the elder Bush:

But what is not believable is that none of these critics consulted their old boss in advance. What is evident is that he made no effort to restrain their attack on his son's position. What is inescapable from that is the appearance of a rift. And in politics, what is widely perceived by the press and public is what is.

Surely the old man must realize that, and must know that his acceptance of such dynastic division emboldens the opposition to his son's historic purpose of reforming the Middle East.

This is high political drama worthy of a Shakespeare

More on Malkin I've been tough on Michelle Malkin. It's not easy for anyone to fill the shoes of the sainted David Brooks and maybe she just had a bad day followed by a terrible day. In the great tradition of blog cheesecake, I will acknowledge that she is one beautiful lady.

Happy Labor Day to QP readers everywhere.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

Great Fumbling Malkin, Batman!

Tony Adragna
I didn't catch Ms. Malkin's debut the previous week, Will, but I almost switched over to FOX just to hear something at least intelligible — Malkin was neither cogent nor coherent. And where was the analysis that we're used to from Messrs. Shields & Brooks?

Malkin did stumble into a few good points on budget deficits near the end of segment:
TERENCE SMITH: One other thing we ought to bring up just briefly at the end here, the Congressional Budget Office came out with a projection this week, three more years they say, minimum of deficit and deficit spending. How does this sit with Republicans, Michelle, who love reduced government spending and balanced budgets?

MICHELLE MALKIN: Well, that's not necessarily Republicans. It's limited government, conservatives and libertarians who have been distressed to see as high a level of domestic spending as we've had even before September 11 and, you know, President Bush--.

TERENCE SMITH: Higher now.

MICHELLE MALKIN: Yes, and even higher now and President Bush has been guilty a lot of the expansion that's led to, you know, the deficits that we will be seeing -- even outside and apart from the tax cut and, as I said military spending. I don't know how much resonance this is going to have for the November 2002 elections though. I think there's probably clearly a sentiment that this is wartime and we have-- we are going to have a higher tolerance.

TERENCE SMITH: Tom, final word, quickly?

TOM OLIPHANT: Very important point and I agree with her. It only has resonance when debt and deficit combine with a sluggish inadequate economy. That's when it gets troubling. Inside the beltway, the impact of the CBO's numbers is on the administration's credibility for the fights yet to come on Capitol Hill.
But, she made some grossly inane points on the earlier discussion of dissent:
MICHELLE MALKIN: Well, it's true there is dissent among advisors over this issue, but it's mostly Bush's father's advisors versus this Bush administration. Clearly Cheney and Rumsfeld and the Perle wing, the hawk wing of this administration is all on the same page. There is no doubt about that.
Of course the "hawks" are "all on the same page" — that statement is a rhetorical tautology! She'd have done better to attempt showing how those "dissenters" inside the current administrastion — like Mr. Powell — are only in disagreement on "means" and not "ends". Instead, she glossed over the point.

And Olihpant scored BIG with the "Except support" rejoinder...

I think Oliphant was dead on with the Cuban Missile Crisis analogy — not Congress nor the international community are going to buy into "preemption" without a showing much closer to what was seen during that earlier crisis than what we've seen so far during the instant case.

I still believe, as I've said before, that the administration's mistake is on making this silly argument for "preemption" — the doctrine as understood involves an imminent threat, and, as admitted, the U.S. can't point to one. I suspect, however, that the evidence we do have will be sufficient to move the UN toward a resolution, and I never doubted that the administration would make such a presentation.

The Lieutenant's Big Gun — "Boss" Schaefer — is lined up behind KKT, but the Old Pro of Maryland politics needs a little help with "spin":
"I'm sure [Glendening] never consulted her on the budget," Schaefer said. "She wouldn't have allowed us to have a billion-dollar deficit."
But, I thought KKT was the most active Lt. Governor in the country... hmmm... I'm starting to wonder 'bout Mr. Schaefer's prospects for continued employment in elective office...

It's Raining, Alleluia! Sorry to hear 'bout your water woes, Will. Hopefully, things are looking better. I was just out tromping the trail — water level is on the rise. It's up high enough now that you can just tell where the sand bars and shoals are by reading the surface of the water. Pretty muddy, though! I don't know whether the muddiness is due to bottom churn — the water's moving at a good clip — or bank erosion: probably a little of both... Hey, I'm not complaining!

Pale Punditwatch

Will Vehrs
Gee, Tony, I thought this week's Punditwatch would be pretty important, but it pales in comparison to your Star Wars collectible struggle. Nonetheless, I have posted it.

I've tried a new format, just for kicks. Readers are encouraged to comment. I recognize that you have a war to fight, Tony ....

My Cause Is Just, So My Methods Are Justified

Tony Adragna
I've been treated unfairly by The Capitalist Pig (my housemate). The upsatirs sitting room has been rearranged ostensibly to make room for a bar.

Yea, right... The real reason was to get rid of my Star Wars collection -- which had always occupied some real estate amidst the Coca Cola collection -- so that there would be room for more Coca Cola collectibles.

My Star Wars collection is now displaced -- in refuge awaiting a new home.

I'm not having this! Unless my demands are met, there will be consequences!

My demands are:
Space for Peace — Star War collectors have as much right as anyone else to a place in the Community of Collectibles. We demand a place for our collection to be on display, as we wish, inside clearly delineated inviolable borders, without interference, equal to and alongside in prominence the Coca Cola collection.

Right of Return — We demand that pieces of the Star Wars collection displaced by the Coca Cola collection be allowed to reclaim the space from which they were evicted.

Respect for All Things Star Wars — We have been much disrespected by folks who know nothing of Star Wars. Though some Star Wars fans have taken their devotion to radical extremes, most of us are common decent people. If everybody would just understand us, then maybe we could all get along. To that end, everybody, including the Head of House, must watch the whole Star Wars series to date, as well as ant future installments
If these demands are not met, I will call for a Rebellion, to be pursued in a campaign of collectible terrorism, especially directed at Coca Cola collectibles, the aim of said Campaign to force Head of House to terms agreeable to Star Wars Collectors.

The first target will be Coca Cola Polar Bear Stuffed Animal. If demands aren't met by the time Coca Cola Penguin Christmas Tree Ornament is disposed of, then the next step will be to begin an invasion and insurrection of Pepsi Products.

Pepsi will be snuck into any place where Pepsi is not offered — preferably places full of Coca Cola drinkers — and such Pepsi will be drank irrespective the offense or injury caused to Coca Cola drinkers. Indeed, the more Coca Cola drinkers offended and injured, the better.

This is War, and the Coca Cola Collector is the True Terrorist!