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Saturday, October 12, 2002

QP Saturday

Will Vehrs
Rain-soaked fields and continuing fear of the MD-DC-VA sniper caused this morning's soccer game to be cancelled, so I have an unexpected window before I head to Fearfest's opening performance.

It's been a hectic week--in a leadership class all day, at rehearsals until late into the night. Not having much access to the Internet or to news reports, especially with major events--the Iraq resolution vote, the sniper attacks, the Nobel Peace Prize--occurring, has been disorienting. Of course, there were many in the Fearfest cast who had never even heard of the sniper until he struck a few miles from the park. One often forgets that the blogosphere's obsession with following and analyzing current events is an anomaly.

I will venture one opinion. There's a great threat in The Refuge in response to Tony's comments on Jimmy Carter. I find myself agreeing most with Zathras.

Hopefully, I'll be back soon with slightly more informed opinions and observations.

Friday, October 11, 2002

The Yeas & Nays (cont.)

Tony Adragna
The Senate's Roll Call Vote Number 237 was about what I expected. But, again, there were some senators who voted Nay for the wrong reason. And, again, there coulda been fewer Nays had the debate not been confused by too much emphasis on arguments against rhetoric.

Sen. Byrd didn't even bother to argue against the merits of sending troops into Iraq — unilaterally or otherwise. The Gentleman from West Virginia did what he always does on an issue of this import: He spoke in defense of fidelity to the Constitution, and, more importantly [to him], in defense of Congressional prerogatives. It was an argument against the "blank check" despite that there was no such draft being considered.

Oh, certainly, Mr. Bush did ask Congress to sign a"blank check", but what he got instead was a "conditional endorsement" — the requirments on making a "determination" and reporting were concessions by the White House despite earlier insisting that Mr. Bush wouldn't have any of that.

An overwhelming victory for the White House? Well, kinda — he got a resolution, but not the one he wanted, and only after having "made the case" for the resolution itself [separate from the case for war] on the most unserious and stupid rationale. The only thing stupider was that some senators stood up in the chamber and actually made the argument that this resolution moves us further from the realization of a war.

Mr. Biden did include in his statement the same understanding of "The Disconnect" noted by Tony Blair [and repeatedly harped on here], but "hawks" & "doves" can't get past their own world view to see that neither of their extreme arguments are relevant in practical terms vis a vis this administration's foreign policy.

A loss for the Democrats? The only way it's a loss is if Democrats don't turn out in Novenmber — there's still some weeks to go...

Jimmy Won the Peace Prize

Good on him! Long past due!

Go on, trash his record as president and complain about some of the stupid things he's said. Then look what he's done toward advancing democracy & human rights (including, during his much maligned recent trip, speaking against Castro's violations of his own peoples rights).

Compare that to Reagan and Bush supplying aid to a government that had committed an act of war against the United States (Iran violates US sovereignty by attacking our embassy and holding hostage our diplomats, our response is Iran-Contra), and supported Hussein throughout the '80s even though we knew what a thug he was — indeed it may even have been because we knew what a thug he was.

And how about withdrawing the Marines from Lebanon, or negotiating with those who held hostages — were not those feckless acts of surrender to terrorists?

Mr. Clinton was no better when it came to picking which thugs to take on as "friends" and which others to "regime change" off the world stage. And the current President Bush is following precedent.

How long are we going to mollycoddle the Sauds and the Egyptians!?!

So, ya see, even though Mr. Carter may have been without feck — not principally on foreign policy (Iran, as major a foul up as that was, was really his only blunder on foreign policy), but mostly on failure to pass his domestic agenda — he's at least as beyond reproach as we can expect a president to be, and more so than many have been...

A Real Strategic Blunder

Here's one for the "we shoulda finished him off the first time" crowd [myself included]: We shoulda let Hussein take out the El-Sabahs and the Sauds, instead of defending those regimes. If we had, then our current campaign could look at rolling up the whole region all at one go...

Thursday, October 10, 2002

The Yeas & Nays

Tony Adragna
The Final Vote Results for Roll Call 455 went worse that I thought it would — only 81 Democrats voted Yea, and 6 Republicans voted Nay. Support coulda been truly bipartisan if not for all of the rhetoric that confused the debate...

Glenn Reynolds says that the Democrats shot themselves in the foot way back in August by raising this issue as a "bluff", and the bluff got called. I don't agree — Biden clearly wanted to have this very debate back in August because he didn't want to be having it now, and his comments back in August (during the hearings) just as clearly signaled that he supported taking military action against Iraq.

But, the administration didn't want to have this debate then — probably because Mr. Bush was still at that time trying to pin down his own advisors... All the talk is about Mr. Bush having outmanuevered the Democrats, but it can't be ignored that the "hawks" certainly aren't happy that the President went to Congress — despite earlier assertions that he didn't need to — and to the UN. Could it be that Democrats who voted for the resolution did so with sincerity after having had the worst of their doubts assuaged by Mr. Bush acting more moderately than the rhetoric signaled?

I believe the answer is yes...

Contemptible Campaigning

It's bad enough what the Democrats got away with in NJ — what happened in Montana is despicable. It especially pisses me off since the Democrats have nominally been the party that I thought could be relied upon to treat me without regard to sexual orientation.

I say "nominally" because in fact Democrats have been no more friendly to homosexuals than the GOP. For instance, on DOMA 118 House Dems and 32 Senate Dems — including unreconstructed liberals like Wellstone — voted Yea.

But, not only have they been "no more friendly", they've also been just as willing to let slip their own ugly inner selves when they thought it could be gotten away with, especially when hoping to gain points with the "family values" types

Mr. Taylor protests that he isn't gay — I say it doesn't matter, and I urge Montana voters to choose not Baucus. If Mr. Taylor would've replied "I'm not, but it shouldn't matter", then I'd say choose Taylor.

I gotta go send Jim Henley some email now — hoping he can hook me up with the Big L...

[BTW: Montana's Election Code says "A candidate may not officially withdraw 85 days or less before a general election"]

Can Simon Drop Out?

Tony Adragna
One of the arguments advanced against the NJ Supreme Court's decision is that it would open the floodgates and deluge other election contests with the same shark filled waters. Problem with that argument is it pays attention not to what the NJ Supremes themselves noted in their decision — many other states have addressed the question of substitions by enacting laws which expressly prohibit what happened in NJ[I know, the NJ code supposedly did the same, but apparently didn't]

What's got me back on this topic is the suggestion that Bill Simon withdraw from the California governor's race. While I've not read any California case law on this issue, my first impression is that the state's courts would not allow what New Jersey's did, and the New Jersey court wouldn't have allowed what it did had NJ statute read the same way California's does:

8800. No candidate whose declaration of candidacy has been filed for any primary election may withdraw as a candidate at that primary election.

8801. No candidate nominated at any primary election may withdraw as a candidate at the ensuing general election except those candidates permitted to withdraw by this part.

8802. Any person nominated by a party at the direct primary election for a partisan office may be appointed to fill a vacancy on the general election ballot for any other partisan office, as provided in Section 8806, and in that case his or her appointment shall constitute a vacancy on the general election ballot for the office for which he or she was nominated. The vacancy thus arising shall be filled in the manner prescribed in Section 8806.

8803. No vacancy on the ballot for a general election shall be filled except if the candidate dies and that fact has been ascertained by the officer charged with the duty of printing the ballots at least 68 days before the date of the next ensuing general election.

8804. Notwithstanding Sections 8803 and 8810, any candidate who has been nominated at any primary election for superior court judge in which election there were at least two other candidates and who,
after the date prescribed for the filing of declaration of candidacy pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 8020) of Chapter 1 of Part 1, has been appointed to any federal or state office, may request the county elections official to have his or her name removed from the ballot of the next ensuing general election. If the request is received by the county elections official at least 68 days before the next ensuing general election, the county elections official shall remove the candidate's name from the ballot.
   If a candidate's name is removed from the ballot pursuant to this section, the two remaining candidates who received the highest number of votes cast on all the ballots of all the voters participating in the primary election for nomination for that office of superior court judge shall be the candidates for that office at the ensuing general election, and their names as candidates for that office shall be placed on the official ballot at the ensuing election.

8805. Whenever a candidate for nomination for a partisan office at a primary election dies on or before the day of the election, and a sufficient number of ballots are marked as being voted for him or her to entitle him or her to nomination if he or she had lived until after the election, a vacancy exists on the general election ballot, which shall be filled in the manner provided in Section 8806 for filling a vacancy caused by the death of a candidate.

8806. Vacancies permitted to be filled may, in the case of legislative offices, be filled by the county central committee or committees of the party in which the vacancy occurs, in the county or counties comprising the legislative district of the deceased candidate. In the case of all other district or state offices requiring party nomination, except congressional offices, the vacancies may be filled by the state central committee of the party.

   Vacancies permitted to be filled may, in the case of congressional offices, be filled by those members of the state central committee of the party who reside in the congressional district in which the vacancy occurs, and who were registered to vote in that district at the time the vacancy occurred, acting together with the members of the county central committee or committees of the party residing in that congressional district.
   References in this section to state and county central committees shall be construed to refer to the newly elected or selected state and county central committees, unless the organizational meetings of those committees are held in January following the general election.

8807. If the vacancy occurs among candidates chosen at the direct primary to go on the ballot for the succeeding general election for a nonpartisan office, the name of that candidate receiving at the
primary election the next highest number of votes shall go upon the ballot to fill the vacancy.

8808. A vacancy authorized to be filled because of the death of a candidate shall be filled, and the name of the person named to fill the vacancy shall be certified to the officer charged with the duty of printing the ballots, 68 days before the day of election.

8809. Whenever a candidate has declared a candidacy for a primary election, the candidate's name shall be printed upon the ballot for the primary election, unless the candidate has died, and that fact has been ascertained by the officer charged with the duty of printing the ballots, at least 68 days before the day of the election.

8810. Whenever a candidate has been nominated at any primary election after having filed a declaration of candidacy, the name of the candidate shall be printed upon the ballot for the ensuing general election unless the candidate has died and that fact has been ascertained by the officer charged with the duty of printing the ballots, at least 68 days before the day of election.

8811. Whenever, upon the death of any candidate, the vacancy created is filled by a party committee, a certificate to that effect shall be filed with the officer with whom a declaration of candidacy for that office may be filed, and, upon payment of the filing fee applicable to the office, shall be accepted and acted upon by that officer as in the case of an original declaration certificate.
That's the entirety of Division 8 Part 4 (WITHDRAWAL OF CANDIDATES: VACANCIES) of California Election Code, which, unlike NJ's "howsoever" language, is fairly restrictive: If your place on the general election ballot was won through a primary, then you can't withdraw except if you would be unable to serve — like if you've died or been appointed to a federal judgeship...

The workaround is, as has been suggested, a write-in campaign. But, you've got then the problem of disciplining your partisans to actually write-in their choice, instead of voting for the nominee appearing on the ballot...

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Don't Get The Moose Mad

Tony Adragna
This isn't an entry 'bout The Bull Moose's departure from the blogosphere. Nope, this is 'bout Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose and his verbal assault on those who let slip the "Tarot Card", and those who printed that ort in the news.

Unqualified Offerings notes that the presence of the card could be the work of "some sick prankster", and that can't be ruled out as a possibility. But neither can the police rule out that this particular piece of evidence is genuine. I think it important, though, to say something 'bout why Chief Moose didn't want that bit of info published.

Investigators always want to withhold from publication certain bits of information that they collect at a crime scene. One reason is that the evidence might be something that the killer didn't intend to leave behind, and from which police can not only link a series of crimes, but also link a crime to an individual (fingerprints, DNA, etc.). That's probably not the reason in this investigation, because it's a fair certainty that if this tarot card was left by the killer, it was left intentionally. So, what's the harm in publishing that you're in possession of something that the killer intends for you to have?

The harm is in that investagators lose confidence in their ability to rely on the origins of that signal. They need to be able to filter out copycats and the odd nutjob claiming responsibility. Even if simply having that bit of distinguishing data doesn't lead investigators to the culprit, it does aid the police in determining whether they've apprehended to right person, and confounds the copycat's attempt to literally get away with murder.

Dave on Dem Dummies

Dave Kopel revises "The Garden State" to read "The Banana State". The essay is about debunking arguments on "The alleged power of the New Jersey machine to cancel the November election for U.S. Senate[...]" — the same "too clever" arguments dealt with here some days ago.

Kopel goes a step further than I did: While noting that the plain language can't mean what it appears to mean [because it would conflict with prohibitive language in the same statute], and illustrating how rediculous the result would be if the "too clever" argument were correct ["If one accepts the argument of the election-cancellation lobby, then New Jersey need never hold another Senate election"], he also makes the case that if NJ Democrats' are correct, then the law is unconstitutional:
[...]The Seventeenth Amendment mandates that:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years. . .

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This means that every six years, the people of a State get to choose a new senator. Indeed, the very purpose of the 17th Amendment was to place the election of senators in the hands of the people, rather than of the political establishment of a state. (Formerly, the Constitution had allowed senators to be chosen by state legislatures.)...

A fundamental rule of statutory interpretation is that, if at all possible, a statute must not be read so that it does not violate the United States Constitution. The reading proposed by the New Jersey Democrats would mean that the voters of New Jersey would spend eight years (from 1996 to 2004) without the opportunity to choose the person who holds one of their Senate seats. This eight-year period without an election is in plain violation of the 17th Amendment's requirement that senators be chosen by the people every six years.
[I think there's an extra "not" in the last graf, but I'm confident Kopel doesn't intend the double negative - Tony]

So, even if NJ Democrats got past reconciling the conflicting language and found legislative intent supporting their facile read of the statute, they would still lose.

What I don't understand is why many Democrats — including some who ought know better (and with whom this non-lawyer has had other disputes) — bought into, and are still buying, such a flawed argument. On that note, Kopel finishes by calling on "Good Democrats" to "repudiate the anti-democratic, anti-constitutional, lawless usurpation of the New Jersey Democratic machine and its national allies" — I'm in the choir Brother Dave!

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Military "Poll" Update

Tony Adragna
Eugene Volokh cautions against reading to much into the poll of military members that several of us discussed the other night. There's an obvious reason, and as Volokh points out, it's right there in the story.

Yep, that's why, in case any of you were wondering, I said "slightly higher" when the numbers were actually 10 to 20 [points] higher on some questions. I think that if you adjust for the factor that respondents "tend to be career-oriented and do not typically include the most junior enlisted and officer ranks", you get results that come closer to the public at large [and probably still "slightly higher" because you tend not to find outright anti-war types in the military — do you hafta adjust for that too?]

I Urge the Members to Vote No on the Resolution!

Tony Adragna
I've made known — in very strong terms — my support for going to war against Hussein's regime. At the same time, I've written strong words in criticism of the administration's rhetorical stance. Now I've got to wrap my mind around something Mr. Bush said last night:
Later this week, the United States Congress will vote on this matter. I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. The resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something. Congress will also be sending a message to the dictator in Iraq: that his only chance -- his only choice is full compliance, and the time remaining for that choice is limited.
Sorry, but I think that's a stupid reason for asking Congress to authorize the use of force. Actually, I'm not sorry for thinking that.

The "not [...] imminent or unavoidable" verbiage is the ultimate in unseriousness — it's an attempt at dodging real anxieties over going to war. I'm also not fond of the the quasi-blustery message sending — when I pulled my sidearm, that action wasn't to send a message, but was with the intent to actually use deadly force.

When Mr. Bush is ready to actually use force, let him come back to Congress and ask for a resolution on the rationale that he... well... is in a position where war is "imminent and unavoidable" and there's no option but lethal force.

An Armey of One

So, Mr. Armey changed his mind [Lugar's reversal isn't all that, since he's one of the "moderate doubters" from the GOP side of the aisle].

What changed Mr. Armey's mind?

Well, the news story says that Mr. Armey now believes that the threat to the US is "clear and present", therefore preemptive action — to "act first" — is an appropriate measure. But what the story doesn't reveal is what Mr. Armey noted in his comments yesterday: His calculus equated an attack against Israel with an attack against the US.

I don't find anything wrong with that calculus, 'cept that it was true before yesterday — in fact Hussein directed attacks against Israel during the first campain in this very same conflict. Mr. Armey is no dummy who suddenly woke up and realized the logic of defending Israel against Hussein.

So why, really, did Mr. Armey change his mind?...

At least you should get the correction correct...

Tony Adragna
Doing a little late night reading, just checked Best of the Web Today, saw that they noted an interesting apology & retraction in the Daily Evergreen. Here's the nugget
The story "Filipino-American history recognized" stated that the "Nuestra Senora de Buena Esperanza," the galleon on which the first Filipinos landed at Morro, Bay, Calif., loosely translates to "The Big Ass Spanish Boat." It actually translates to "Our Lady of Good Peace."
Now, I've been known to be bit of a pedant when it comes to certain things — like certain aspects of Catholicism. I very rarely find myself facing an opportunity to get pedantic with a foreign language, but it has been known to happen. The above excerpt provides me with an absolute first experience — I get to exercise pedantry on Catholicsm in the context of a foreign language.

"Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza" translates "Our Lady of Good Hope" — I've never heard the other title used in reference to Our Lady, which is odd since I've been devoted to Mary since my days in a Salesian high school... hmmm... methinks I've never heard that title 'cause the first time it's ever been used is by the eds at the Daily Evergreen...

You'd think these people might wanna check a Spanish - English Dictionary — which they shoulda done before they ran the original item — to make sure that the correction was... ummm.. correct...

Erratum: This entry has been edited to include a link to "the original item"...

Monday, October 07, 2002

The Worst Part of Bush v. Gore

Tony Adragna
I understand the rationale for the Court getting involved in the Florida Fiasco, but I simply disagreed with that rationale. I had no fear of a "constitutional crisis" because we've actually been down that track before — the 1876 Election — and the country survived.

The Court should have left the 2000 dispute to the political branch to resolve, and the result would have been exactly the same — Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the Florida legislature. But, that exact same result would have been gotten at through the expense of some political capital, rather than the expense of the Court's integrity.

Yes, folks, the High Court declines to Intervene in NJ, without any explanation. From what I've heard, the Court was happy to put Bush v. Gore behind itself, and doesn't even want to revisit the case as precedent.

So, where do we go from here — is there any election contest [separate from campaign finance cases] that the US Supreme Court would ever consider taking up in the future? I hope not, but then I think they shouldn't have gotten involved in Florida.

The worst part of Bush v. Gore isn't what the decision did to the nation, but what it did to the Court...

Times Have Changed in the Navy

Tony Adragna
Bill Herbert found a poll published in Navy Times that suggests support amongst active duty service members for military action in Iraq is about what you see [actually, slightly higher] in opinion polls of civilians. It's the result I would expect, as I've always noted that the subset of our population classified "active duty military" is representative of the rest of the population.

What I find somewhat disturbing is the notion that active duty servicemembers would be polled on their opinion of going to war. I'm definitely not a gung ho type: I would be the first to tell some idiot where to get off If I thought I was going into harms way needlessly — In fact, I did exactly that in several instances, and had backup from my Chief and department head.

But those were operational situations where the operator — me — ought to have had the last word. When it came to decisions on what our foreign policy ought be, how our forces ought be used to project power overseas, and what battles to fight, I woulda been seriously worried if I knew somebody was polling my shipmates on the best course of action...

Update: More comments on this story WRT Eugene Volokh's comments.

Thinking Outside the Box

Tony Adragna
Colbert King tells a story of not waiting on the delivery of a promise. 'Tis a good lesson on what's wrong with the psychology of victimhood, and what's correct 'bout the common sense of self-help.

I'm all for legislative and judicial remedies where needed. But, more often than not what is needed is simply a refusal to accept that one is powerless. As an old mentor once told me: There are some things over which an individual has no control, but there's always a workaround...

Terrorism or Terrorizing: I haven't written on the shootings in the DC area because it seems to me that the case could go a number of ways. It could be international terrorism, but it doesn't fit the profile of what al Qaeda has so far done. Rather, it's more in line with what we've seen in the past from domestic sources. I'm of the opinion that this is a case of either domestic terrorism, or more likely "thrill killing".

But, it could be some other group with a different MO, or even al Qaeda acting with a new MO...

Charles hamerring at thrumbtacks: Krauthammer just can't leave it alone! Throwing criticisms at irrelevant arguments is itslef an exercise in irrelevancy...

Where has the press been? I missed this story yesterday, but I'm glad somebody's finally gotten around to noting what I've been saying all along. "9/11 Changed Equation for Democrats" explains not only support for Mr. Bush's call to go after Iraq, but also the Democrats' movement toward supporting the use of arms over the last 10 years.

Advantage QP?

The French know terrorism: They've a lot of experience from their days in North Africa. I've a strong opinion the French know that the tanker explosion was an act of terrorism. Will that get the French government to support a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq? I think the French are going to support a resolution anyway, but look for some unilateral action in the war on terrorism — look for it, but you probably won't see it because the French are very good at taking out terrorists very covertly...

Congress is about to be resolved: And Bob Novak says the resolution will look more like what State Department multilateralists and Congressional skeptics want, than what Mr. Bush originally proposed at the urging of "many of his advisers"... Novak says, "The softened stand on Iraq, most significantly, opens at least a possibility that Saddam will cooperate with UN inspectors enough to avert war." I disagree — I don't think the stand on compliance has softened one bit, and Saddam's continued defiance will be the route to agreement with our allies on regime change...

GOP foot shooting: Joshua Marshall calls it hypocrisy, and I agree. The doesn't mean that I agree with the NJ Supreme Court's decision...

I'll try to be back with more later...

Sunday, October 06, 2002

QP Weekend

Will Vehrs
Welcome to My World Tony, this will be a weird day. I'll get to watch the Sunday shows, but I won't have time to write Punditwatch. I note that Instapundit and other bloggers are taking a look at The News Hour and Capital Gang, with Mark Shields getting pounded for a bad reading of Best of the Web. Welcome to my world, guys. I have to leave a lot of that stuff on the cutting room floor every week.

My problem with Mark Shields is that he just can't pull off a good sound byte. He had a great line on Robert Torricelli's withdrawal speech, but he muffed it:

Bob Torricelli's absolutely self-pitying, self-adulating soliloquy was an exit which I've seen better on the New Jersey turnpike.

Sunday Whinefest The major print pundits are whining today. David Broder is travelling around the country, talking to "the people." Of course, "the people" are upset with the trivialization of issues and negative campaigning:

Or this from Janice Morse, a retired computer specialist I met while door-knocking in Plainville, Conn. When I asked her about the coming congressional election in her area, one of the country's most competitive races, Morse turned her scorn on Congress. "They piddle away so much time on trivial things," she said. "They argue about killing mosquitoes in some swamp in Florida, when the country needs a new Medicare plan."

Broder doesn't mention that candidates who address the issues get hammered by outside interest groups wielding negative ads, or that negative ads work.

Tom Friedman despairs that Democrats aren't running on compelling issues. Of course, the issues he wants them to run on are his own obsessions, like his "Manhattan Project" idea to find an alternative to fossil fuels.

Maureen Dowd worries that Jews are becoming more conservative and walking into a Jerry Falwell-sprung trap. Here's her conclusion:

What prophet in which desert would ever have dreamed that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would turn out to be Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert and Don Nickles?

The Heat Comes Back My soccer team recovered from last week's pasting and beat the Thunder yesterday, 1-0. It was a hot day and the kids were dragging by the third period, but they hung on.

A Taste of the Off-Line World The reason I can't do Punditwatch today or the rest of the month starts this afternoon--rehearsals and later performances in my role as an insane asylum inmate (typecasting) for the Paramount King's Dominion Fearfest. In fact, for the next 8 days or so, I don't think I'll even be able to get on-line because of my work and rehearsal schedule. I'll trust Tony and the fine folks of The Refuge to keep QP hopping in my absence. Dodd, I've entered the Caption Contest, breaking my drought. I'll try to be back on the 13th or the 14th at the latest.