Readers on addictions and obsessions.

Readers on addictions and obsessions.

Readers on addictions and obsessions.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
April 5 2003 11:21 AM

Bum a Smoke

Readers on the addictions and obsessions

Going for the Patch: Industry drives up your state's health care costs, corporation owns you. You win $246 million in compensatory and punitive damages from industry, then you own the corporation…that is until industry flirts with bankruptcy, triggered by a $12 billion bond, as outlined in Daniel Gross's moneybox article. Fraysters address the strange, co-dependent relationship between the Attorneys General who exacted huge judgments from the tobacco companies and the companies that are gasping for breath and facing potential extinction in the wake of these judgments. BernardYomtov makes a case against bankruptcy:

What happens? The cigarette factories don't disappear; the tobacco growers don't switch to organic eggplant. Instead someone else buys the factories, buys the brand names, buys tobacco, and starts selling cigarettes. The only difference is that these new companies are rid of the liabilities of the bankrupt old ones. The money the companies are now paying to the states goes to the owners of the new tobacco cigarette companies instead.What has been gained, exactly?

Teckels further illuminates the paradox, and takes a shot at the Attorneys General:

Wasn't the purpose of suing them in the first place meant to hold them accountable for the health problems they have created, yet these AGs are perfectly willing and even eager to keep this company in business so it can sell more tobacco and kill more people just as long as PM can pay off their settlements. Who is the real criminal here, PM or the AGs trying to keep them in business?

destructo thinks the problem is one larger than just smoke rings:

The real culprit here are bloated state governments dependent on tax money, and short-sited politicians pandering to bleating do-goodnick anti-smoking weenies on the left who are accustomed to using government as the mechanism by which they impose their morals on the rest of us. 

Hoagywood aptly names the situation: "The Law of Unintended Consequenses." TexasSmoker  challenges  the Fray to "show me one penny of the setttlement that has been used for smokers health care."

Journal Entry: kyosti initiates an active discussion on Ruth Franklin's culturebox, an article that picks apart the current issue of McSweeney's and the literary journal's momentary about face. Franklin sets off Fraysters by classifying, what she sees as,  contrasting McSweeney's-New Yorker schools of short fiction. kyosti is a fan of the second novel by Zadie Smith, The Autograph Man, that Franklin described as "horrendously disappointing—and noticeably McSweeney-esque." kyosti takes Franklin to task here, claiming that the novel "has much more to do with Martin Amis than with McSweeney's." Vidross keeps it going here: "But isn't Martin Amis a New Yorker writer too?" He concludes:

So maybe we can think of a more accurate shorthand term for "New Yorker-esque"? Maybe "50's New Yorker Style", or "traditional domestic realism" or "John O'Harric", or "Dull", or "stuff the reviewer doesn't like but can't articulate precisely why".

The_Shriv jumps in, bringing with him Nick Honby as a case study in the McSweeney's v. New Yorker taxonomic debate. Sort of reminds FrayEditor of the scene from Husbands and Wives when Judy Davis, while getting it on with Liam Neeson – in the heat of the moment – is busy mentally classifying everyone in her life as a "hedgehog" or "fox."

Wordplay: Andy Bowers's catalog, "Words of War," opens with a reference to Blockbuster Video which, according to Bowers, was originally "a 4,000-pound World War II-era bomb." Bowers's claim prompts WVMicko to explore the handle's alternate origin:

Au, contraire! Blockbuster Video is not necessarily "da bomb." The term also has a different and more modern meaning. Blockbuster: Black homebuyers seeking to break into prejudiced white neighborhoods during the sixties, often with the assistance of white agents who were acting for "undisclosed" clients. White homeowners were generally terrified of the blockbusters, claiming that, among other ills, property values would drop. Rebutting that claim was difficult, since property values DID drop as white flight afflicted the now-mixed neighborhoods and dozens of houses hit the market en masse. Seeing as how Blockbuster moved in on the territory of smaller video rental chains and drove down rental prices, the second meaning seems more likely, does it not?…KFA8:15 a.m.

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Friday, Apr. 4, 2003

Academy of the Overrated: To Fred Kaplan's point that the Iraqi Republican Guard's weak out-of-conference schedule and swift disintegration reveal it as nothing more than a Trojan Horse, 1-2-Oscar remarks:

The Republican Guard was not overrated so much as the US military was undervalued. Opponents of the war, seeking any plausible grounds for criticism of US policies and performance, first focused upon the "slow progress" of the invading force, as if any failure to achieve total victory in one hundred hours or less was evidence of poor planning, poor leadership, and poor performance by the Americans. All of these shortcomings, they argued, could be laid at the doorstep of an incompetent, arrogant, overreaching administration.

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Cicero concedes, with a harrumph, "now that the plan has been corrected and sound military tactics are in place, things are working correctly. What a shock!" He suggests that 1-2-Oscar has been shunning the Fray, waiting for the first "major battle victory."

Betty_The_Crow: Betty prefaces its remarks with "Republican Guard v. US: think Ali v. Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss [members.tripod.com], or Armadillo v. Pickup Truck."

It seems unlikely that the Iraqi leadership forgot that the Guard wasn't every good militarily. Maybe they wanted to make sure all its armor was destroyed or abandoned before the troops pulled back into the city so they wouldn't have to worry about the Guard turning on Saddam … Whatever the theory, it's getting a little late in the day for Plan B, or Plan Nine. I don't know whether to be relieved that nothing extremely weird has happened or worried about it.

In Protest: Best of the Fray hosts a steady debate on the boundaries of lawful protest, initiated by locdog with: 

Here's something i've never quite got about these undemocratic, anti-american "peace" protesters. seems like every time they march some sort of mischief breaks out. when the protesters are asked to explain their hypocrisy, we are invariably treated to some starry-eyed blond who looks like her grasp on world affairs extends to what she's learned in her freshman poli-sci lectures, and her ruminations on the role of the modern american demonstrator: "since president bush won't listen to the people, we'll make him listen!"

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Butterscotch_luv answers here that the mischievous represent only a fractional voice of the opposition. Deej, in reference to locdog's starry-eyed poli-sci blond, suggests, "What makes you think the other two thirds you speak of know more than that?" The thread continues as a veritable who's who of BOTF with rob_said_that positing that, "protesting against a government policy is still a guaranteed freedom under the 1st Amendment. What is undemocratic is trying to silence them." Historyguy maintains that the crimes of "secular, leftist, starry eyed blond protesters" pale in comparison to those they're challenging. Then there's J_Mann here: "The polls are lies. I was at the peace rally this weekend, and I can tell you for a fact, 70% of the people there didn't support the war." On the patriotism question, LT weighs in: "…Disagree strongly that they are being anti-American. While I think the more aggressive protesting is inefficient strategy, it just makes them law-breakers, not anti-American."

Multiplication Tables: TonyAndragna contends that the Republican Guard was overrated by the casual observer …

but not by the folks on the line … The US military definitely learned the first Gulf War campaign lessons that Kaplan points out. US "force multipliers"—technological, doctrinal, and practical—give US units the ability to take on much larger units. That's why, for instance, "leading elements" of two US divisions have been able to win against forces 2 - 3 times their size, even against well prepared defenses[remember the old axiom 'bout needing 10 attackers per every defender?]

RANGER82 gently disputes TonyAndragna's figures and runs his own math:

Actually, the minimum accepted ratio is 3 to 1. A battalion attacks a company, etc. This historically results in a 50% chance of success. This ratio can be skewed by the application of artillery or Close Air Support (CAS), resulting in a ratio of 10 to 1 or higher even though the actual troop ratio is much smaller.

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Imagining Argentina: When TonyAndragna suggests that the "axiom is outdated as a rule-of-thumb in considering actual troop strength," RANGER82 answers curiously, "Perhaps, it all depends on who is fighting. The Brits began their final assault in the Falklands War outnumbered 10-to-1 with one battery of artillery in support and completely routed the Argentinians. It is neither immoral nor illegal to fight incompetent enemies.

Cakewalk The Musical: Debussy, the Frayster, informs us that Debussy, the composer, wrote "Golliwog's Cakewalk" for his "Children's Corner Suite." … KFA7:40 a.m.

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Thursday, Apr. 3, 2003

The Fray Loves Hart: Fraysters amble over to the Low Concept to celebrate the tonal and rhythmic dexterity of Donald Rumsfeld's wartime verse. In the spirit of National Poetry Month, FrayBards pay homage to the luminary by offering up some of their own, starting with rob_said_that's discovery of the sober and oddly linear "End Game" in the Rumsfeld trove. In the same thread, andkathleen uncovers another gem lost, perhaps, in the transfer of documents between the Secretary of State's office and the United Nations: 

To my knowledge
there was no warning,
no alert
as to suicide attackers
in airplanes.
There's always been concerns about hijacking.
That's been true for months
and years
as a possibility.

Apparently the intelligence community
our intelligence community,
the country's,
did not have sufficient granularity
to issue any specific warning.

But I should say
through the spring and summer
there was a great deal of threat
reporting
indicating
on a variety of different things
all over the world,

but without any specificity as to what might happen.

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WVMicko find that "D. H. Rumsfeld is apparently a poet of tragic passion," as evidenced by his finding, "Divorce":

Not at all. First of all
I haven't seen the article
I don't want to comment on it
each are false
a judgment that was made
I'd be delighted to take credit for it
but it wouldn't be fair
it's a product that is essentially
General Franks's
The resistance that's been encountered has been in pockets quite stiff.

Pictures From Baghdad: An excerpt from "The Use of Force" by omnibus1reader, presenting as "William Carlos Rumsfeld":

I know how to expose Iraq for inspection
And I did my best.
When finally I got the UN inside
Saddam opened up for an instant
But before I could see anything
He came down again
Splintering the probe with pages
Of useless documents
Aren't you ashamed? Powell yelled
Aren't you ashamed to act like that in front
Of Rumsfeld?

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In the Interim: MatthewGarth lays out the criteria for his proposed Poetry Slam (Rummy v. Seely) and "ante[s] up some reviews" of the hypothetical matchup here. For good measure, tosses "In the Interim", with its mutual sense of foreboding and strength of voice. 

Bored Stiff: Michael Kinsley's satirical efforts in Readme are not so well-received. Loran is particularly pointed, "The Mother Of All Bores—A columnist with nothing to write about ..." The self-effacing historyguy chips in, "Boring the world to death is the Fray's contribution to the war effort. Kinsley's, too. FibberMcGee offers "Kinsley as a military weapon ... He almost knocked out everybody in this complex. Damn Friendly Fire!" In fairness to Kinsley, Tiresias takes issue only with Kinsley's regard of opera as boring:

It is more vivid than life. More exciting than war. More satisfying than sex. You, sir, are a philistine ... On the other hand, the column was funny. We Americans think we're terribly exciting people. To the rest of the world, we are tediously shallow and full of ourselves. That is why we will win.

Battle of the Network Stars: JohnA1 jumps on Chris Suellentrop's Assessment that Al Jazeera is merely an Arabic CNN with less grating "NFL Today"-ish music:

Does Al Jazeera spend any time talking about Saddam's atrocities? "Fair" journalism would give at least equal coverage of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that his regime has murdered or tortured ... Wouldn't it?  Do they have any commentators on that critically discuss how focusing on these images to the exclusion of Saddam's atrocities (if this is what is taking place on Al Jazeera) may actually reinforce these methods of putting civilians at risk? ... Without even discussing any of this, he has done little to prove that this network is as fair as CNN (c'mon, you have to give more of an argument than stating that CNN, and other American networks, route for the coalition).

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ShriekingViolet counters that "Hey, everybody pulls for the home team. Al Jazeera's access inside Iraq has been valuable toward Americans gaining a broader perspective of the war."

Positively Abu Nawas Street: Loran generally agrees with Suellentrop, but brings up that "there is a slight hypocrisy to highlighting Al Jazeera's Qatar financial connection as a compromise in journalistic integrity while writing for a Microsoft publication in a nation of corporate media hyperpowers." He continues, "As long as I know where you're coming from I can put your contribution in the proper perspective. Sometimes it's just harder to determine here at home. I still like my news sources in America better, but, as Bob Dylan said, 'you gotta serve somebody.' As long as we understand that. ..."

Correction: Yesterday's Fraywatch referenced doodahman critiquing Robert Wright in Foreigners Fray, though Wright's piece appeared in Earthling. Fraywatch thanks zinya for straightening out the confusion: Indeed, doodahman was in the correct Fray, but the piece and quotes in question were written by Gideon Rose. FrayEditor takes two minutes in the penalty box … KFA 8:05 a.m.

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Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2003

Homer Plessy revisited: Confounded by the argument put forth the University of Michigan in defense of its affirmative action admissions policy addressed in Dahlia Lithwick's dispatch from the U.S. Supreme Court, samuelv conjures up and lampoons the racial numerology that bolstered the State of Louisiana's case against the nation's most famous railway passenger:

Now, exactly who counts as one of these minorities? Suppose I'm half African American, half Caucasian - do I get the 20 points? Is it assumed that I count toward the "critical mass?" How about if I'm only 1/8 African American? How about 1/16th? 1/16th is too little? Well, suppose I'm only 1/16th but I *look* more African American than people who are only 1/8 and have been given the 20 points…But, what if I'm 1/8 *African* (as opposed to African American). None of my ancestors were U.S. residents of African ancestary, but I have an African great-grandmother in there who married a British soldier. Do I get the 20 points, even though my ancestery has nothing to do with the "African American culture?" Suppose I have a great-grandfather who was Spanish - but as white as the driven snow. Do I get 20 points for being Hispanic?

In a multi-faceted post that addresses both past Lithwick writings and yesterday's oral arguments, The_Bell takes umbrage at, what he regards as, Lithwick's apparent "disdain [of] diversity as a legal argument, apparently seeing it as so much empty high-minded altruism and rhetorical fluff." Though The_Bell finds atonal Lithwick's de-emphasis of diversity as a legal virtue in favor of a more reparative strategy, he discerns that

she believes, my expectation from the start regarding this case…that the Court - by a narrow margin - will lean toward protecting race-based admissions by upholding at least the University of Michigan Law School's admissions policy. Moreover, I predict that while dissenters will point to "hidden quotas" and reparations for black Americans made on the backs of white Americans, the majority opinion will defend Michigan's racial preferences precisely because they are but one factor among many promoting not only a more racially diverse campus but a more culturally diverse campus as well. It will be the "empty, altruistic" concept of diversity, not the more limited historical concept of reparations, that will redeem Affirmative Action as a vital, continuing, and most necessary program going forward into the Twenty-First Century. I rest my case.

This they agree on. 

Mullah by any other namerushlimpaw has found the lube to grease the wheels of prosperity and democratization in the Middle East:

What I am about to propose is the creation of a new company called the Iraqi Oil Trust: Each Iraqi citizen will receive 100 shares of stock whose valuation is based upon the known oil reserves in Iraq. Even the poor with become RICH, & own a stake in Iraq's future. With the second largest known oil reserves in the world. Shares would not be saleable for 3 years, & only to another Iraqi citizen, preventing the take over of the oil supply by any foreign powers or corporations.

After all, says rush, "every resident of the state of Alaska receives a yearly Royalty Payment!"

Only a matter of time before a generation of Iraqi kids will be slumming it on Kachemak Bay for the summer working for a hatchery…KFA3:55 p.m.

Say it Ain't So, Crow: Betty_The_Crow,one of the Fray's most incisive arbiters of quality analysis confesses that while, "I have a lot of respect for [Slate's Bloghdad chronicler Will] Saletan," she found Tuesday's Bloghdad entry to be … well … little more than a fable and wonders if "this war thing has him well and truly spooked."

The U.S. can win the military war with one division tied behind its back, fortunately for the people we sent over there to do that, but the administration went in with the expectation that victory would be assured by overwhelming popular political opposition within Iraq to Saddam; our military was to be the lever that moved the Iraqi body politic to accomplish our military and political purposes both. We can win the war anyway, but we can't win the peace if we're seen to be shredding vanloads of women and children on anything approaching a regular basis. … So politics is the keystone for both sides, and the US is saddled with the twin burdens of the self-imposed expectation that we'll behave well and the suspicion with which we're regarded throughout the Middle East and increasingly, throughout the rest of the world as well. … 

Betty continues, aghast that "someone so adept at parsing the domestic variety of political behavior—with the glaring exception of his refusal to acknowledge that this war was not reluctantly entered into but eagerly sought by the Bush administration—can be so desperately startled by what's going on with the politics of this war."

Quick Response: Jumping into the Fray, Will Saletan, too, expresses a mutual respectand bewilderment of Betty's political acumen: "You're one of my favorite posters, Betty." He then reclaims, what Betty calls the eponymous "Saletan Doctrine," and expresses it accordingly:

I'm as perplexed by your view of this war … as you are by mine. I have lots of friends who think of themselves as liberal, compassionate, humanitarian, etc. But when it comes to international affairs, they seem unable to get past the idea that war is always worse than the alternatives and that anything Bush supports must be wrong. They don't care how many Iraqis get murdered, as long as we aren't the ones doing it. Some of them lose interest in the truth and start treating everything as a cynical question of politics—how things "look" to Iraqis or Arabs or the rest of the world. Some even imply that once one country invades another, the invaded country should no longer be expected to uphold any standard of decency or human rights. … I think they're wrong.

Doctrine-Drama: Betty respectfully answers, but fires off another shot at the "The Saletan Doctrine [which] strike[s] me as weird under any circumstances. It's like a cross between geopolitics and Crazy Eights." In his final word, Will explicitly states that he doesn't "dispute that lots of really bad stuff is happening in Iraq … and that a lot of dumb and insincere reasons have been put forward for the war." Yet ultimately, "war and death and atrocity and brutal oppression and WMD proliferation are too important to be set aside for what are, in my opinion, lesser technical points. There are huge issues of right and wrong here, and a lot of thoughtful, well-meaning people—as opposed to impenetrable dittoheads—are in denial about them."

Price of Admission: Writing on Gideon Rose's commentary on the Bush administration's game of hot potato, Thrasymachus finds himself bemused:

What makes the reluctance of the Administration and the media to fact the truth so confusing is the fact that, a few minor setbacks aside, the truth's not really that bad. … On balance ... the situation is hardly a disaster for American commanders. It just LOOKS that way because they're concealing it from us.

JackD points out that it's not a matter of the-truth-isn't-as-bad-as-the-cover-up, but rather that "the disaster worrying many is not the delay in bringing down Hussein's regime. It is the premonition that the resistance being demonstrated may be a foreshadowing of a nasty occupation viewed as the real war."

What's he smoking? Though composing in the wrong Fray (no truth to the rumors that he was traded from Earthlings Fray to Foreigners Fray for Jose Vizcaino), doodahman wastes no time in ripping Robert Wright's part-mea culpa/part anticipatory anxiety about the post-war plan. To Wright's point that "as the war drags on, any stifled sympathy for the American invasion will tend to evaporate," doodahman scoffs:

Wright claims that the problem with flagging war support is just dishonest pre-war PR. I say, that's like saying that people wouldn't try to stop smoking tobacco today if earlier advertising had touted the cancer and emphysema causing features of the product in the first place.

8-Ball: Given Wright's admission that he found a crack in his crystal ball, doodahman, with unflinching chutzpah, plays the prophet this time around.  It's only fair: 

The only thing that may come swift will be Baathist collapse, not VICTORY. Victory will only come when the Iraqi people give up, and that is not going to happen soon. They may stop the destruction of their cities by appearing to give up, but they will continue the fight until the infidel invader is gone from their lands, and all who collaborated with them purged and killed. That's my prediction. No victory there. … KFA7:55 a.m.

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Tuesday, Apr. 1, 2003

Crack Reporter: Jack Shafer writes in Press Box Monday that NBC made the right call to fire veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett, albeit for the wrong reason. Alex Burns, Editor at Large for disinformation.com, steps into the Fray to critique Shafer for deviating from a point he made early in the piece:

You nailed the truth when you wrote that Peter Arnett's firing by NBC "had more to do with corporate damage control than the parsing of proper journalistic conduct." So it's a pity that the rest of your article takes the ad hominem line instead of pursuing the implications of that statement for US journalists and institutions.

Burns later questions Shafer's criteria of what constitutes "meaningful opposition" to the U.S. war effort, "If we apply your criteria then the actions of millions of people are not 'meaningful', not directed toward some long-term goal, but closer to Orwell's oft-quoted 'thoughtcrime'. I find uncritical acceptance of that, and of NBC's short-term focus on political flak control and the bottom line, far more disturbing than Arnett's tactical error and past propaganda."

Baghdad and Blindfolded:Yoni presents a different angle on the Arnett firing, suggesting that:

Peter Arnett got himself into trouble by doing publicly what every reporter in Baghdad has been doing off-camera for the past twelve years. The incessant flattery of officials, the constant disassociation from the policies of the United States, the feeble attempts to cling to a guise of objectivity - all of this has twisted the reports emanating from Baghdad. By placing the simple need to tell the story above the need to tell it well, American journalists do a disservice to themselves and their viewers.

In the same thread, nahual-4 rebukes the whole premise of objectivity, lamenting, "with this war the only objectivity you will get will be yours after a lengthy search in the world of disinformation."

Quiz Bowl, Pols v. Pens: When Shafer, in effect, begs the question of who's smarter, politicians or journalists, RandyMoran scoffs at the notion that journalists have an upper hand: "Puh-leeze. You flatter yourself. We all know that journalists aren't that smart. You guys were the English majors for chrissakes. How smart could you be?" RicNCaric agrees that the suits would fill up their Genus II pie with wedges first:

National-level political figures, diplomats, and their staffs all have reputations for being extremely smart and energetic. Indeed, I've some political science writing attributes the policy quagmires in Washington to an over-concentration of brain-power and energy working on any given topic. To the contrary, journalists on the other hand have a reputation for being too dumb to do anything but spout clichés and too lazy to do anything but get their information from the government.

Zathras, in turn, feels that network execs are the biggest dodos in the cage. But his coup-de-grace is telling journalists who feel constrained by their employers' corporate interests to "either learn to live with this, or quit paid journalism to get a blog." … 7:40 a.m.

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Monday, Mar. 31, 2003

Civilian Casualty: With Rummy taking a beating here, there and everywhere, Publius reframes Kaus's criticism as a question of where a civilian advisor/cabinet member like the Secretary of Defense belongs in the greater strategic military discussion.

If no one actually believed there could be a war without ANY pain, isn't it obviously true that Rummy was wrong if, in fact, he did not agree to give Franks everything he wanted? And if he didn't, doesn't it follow that since Rummy is arguably a smart guy, there must be some grand political or ideological reason such as Kaus's supposed neocon scheme of serial conquest?  The underlying premise of these questions is that Rumsfeld made these decisions himself and that the offcier in charge of the combat command—Gen. Franks—somehow "lost" the argument. I think it was probably more a matter of Rumsfeld and the civilians lined up with the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, the current CJCS who is an Air Force guy, plus the Army SOF brass at odds with the Army Pentagon brass with Franks, as a field commander, in the middle somewhere. When push came to shove, the Rummy group would have to have satisfied Franks and no doubt did. The Army Pentagon guys pushed for everything. … I do think there may be one lesson here that people —even Rummy's biggest critics—have not yet discovered. Is there still a reason why the Secretary of Defense needs to be in the chain of command? … Although it is sometimes difficult to draw a clear line between what is "national security policy" and what is a military matter, that's no reason not to distinguish between the two. … And we'd be better off if civilians like Rumsfeld did not hand out purely military advice. …

Playing along, Thrasymachus tries to manufacture his own rhetorical "pro-Rumsfeld spin" here

A Fray About Nothing: With the war raging and seemingly every Fray filled with postings on said topic, Cicero laments earnestly whether the Fray (and as a partisan of BOTF, that municipality specifically), whose appeal has traditionally been the discussion of "interesting but unessential things," will be able to survive "the transition from nothing to something to nothing much at all again and continue to thrive." 

Eating Right: A priceless treat from andkathleen, who brings to the Fray's attention the conservatives' answer to Vermont's favorite sons of decadence here. No word yet on how the upstarts plan to combat that Working Assets racket. ... 4:20 p.m.

Good Evening, Professor Falken: Exsailor, a retired Lieutenant Commander in the Canadian Armed Forces, offers his own War Games scenario—an engaging choose-your-own-adventure riddle of sorts that underscores his feeling that

These men have more than enough education, experience, and intelligence to take care of this problem if only people (especially journalists), quit presuming to have the credentials to second-guess them … don't be pessimistic. A whole lot of money has been put into this well-led, well-trained, well-equipped, and well-motivated military. Voluntary service, monetary and other incentives, steady modernization and excellent support have attracted excellent and well-motivated people.

Appropriating exsailor's form, UBLaw91 answers here, prompting exsailor to clarify that while "I am totally against the war … My post concerned the strategy, which has been under attack by the media." A case of disagreeing with the message, but empathizing with the messenger. 

Pearl of Wisdom:Mahndrsn, referring to Gordon Prange's At Dawn We Slept, draws the parallel between the Japanese war games that tested the Pearl Harbor raid (flexible and varied) and those for the Battle of Midway (pre-ordained). Conspiracy theorists in the Fray should note that mahndrsn places no credence into the FDR-in-the-know school. Statisticians and those who love them will find the phrase "the force multiplier for defending urban terrain is a factor of three" in Quercus's response here

We Had Reservations for Last Night's War: Citing another example of when "military bureaucracies routinely fail to adapt to new ideas, and insist, as one observer put it, on 'fighting the last war'," Thrasymachus posts

The Royal Navy, prior to World War II, would not allow British submarines to participate in wargames after dark, because it was too difficult for the British destroyers to find them. The exercises were scripted to allow the Royal Navy to believe they had the German submarine problem entirely under control.  Of course, they didn't. And curiously enough, the German U-Boat commanders weren't gracious enough to withdraw from combat after dark.

Ripping Van Riper:Yankee  assails Van Riper for not understanding that war games, by their very nature, are "not an 'experiment' in the scientific sense. Van Riper, as a Marine Lieutenant General, should make that distinction, play only for the sake of 'exercise' and replace the whining attitude with the win/win outcome such exercises are designed to engender."

Betty_The_Crow gets loose in the Fray, jumping on Donald Rumsfeld in a potent post-Sunday-Morning-roundtable rant here. A sampling:

He has either bought into various optimistic fabrications or engaged in a psychological warfare campaign that backfired. … Either way he screwed up, and when people started noticing the disconnect between what he said and what seemed actually to be happening, he dumped responsibility for a plan that hasn't gone far awry militarily but only politically, squarely on Tommy Franks. … War games are based largely on intelligence estimates, and by all accounts Rumsfeld and company have done more to distort the interpretation of raw intelligence than a triple dose of Mr. Natural acid could. … So in addition to coming under pressure to conduct the war in a fashion … more to Rumsfeld's liking, the military planners were hampered by intelligence estimates that ranged from overly optimistic to hallucinatory.

No sources have surfaced to confirm the Natty Acid tip. … 7:30 a.m.