Two Hail Marys.

A mostly political Weblog.
March 17 2003 5:56 AM

Two Hail Marys

Plus: WaPo wobbles, sort of, maybe.

Mo' Blix Trix: More evidence that inspections might have come up with something -- but the U.S. was holding back its intelligence -- comes from Pincus and Woodward on Page A17 in Sunday's WaPo. CIA director Tenet's assertion that we've given "detailed information on all of the high-value ... sites" to inspectors is counterposed against the following blind-sourcery:

These [senior intelligence] officials said the administration is withholding some of the best intelligence on suspected Iraqi weapons -- uncertain as it is -- from U.N. weapons inspectors in anticipation of war. ...

A CIA spokesman refused to discuss the matter. But some officials charge the administration is not interested in helping the inspectors discover weapons because a discovery could bolster supporters in the U.N. Security Council of continued inspections and undermine the administration's case for war.

"We don't want to have a smoking gun," a ranking administration official said recently. He added, "I don't know whether the point is to embarrass Blix or embarrass Saddam Hussein."

Another official familiar with the intelligence said, "Not all the top sites have been passed to the inspectors."

Again, if this was the administration's policy, I don't understand it, even accepting that what we wanted was a war and not ongoing inspections. The discovery of a smoking gun or two would seem, on balance, to have strengthened the U.S. case for disarmament through war, by providing irrefutable proof that Saddam was not only failing to cooperate but also hiding banned terror weapons. And it would have made the invasion now underway more acceptable to the world. It's not as if the failure of inspections won us a lot of Security Council support, is it? .... 4:37 P.M.

WaPo Wobbles: The hawkish WaPo editorial board isn't exactly balking, but it appears to have  joined the He's-Botching-It Hawk contingent. ... Sunday's editorial seemed (in wafflish, N.Y. Timesian fashion) to favor a "30-to 45-day postponement of any military campaign." The goal wouldn't be to avoid a French veto -- the Post says the French "oppose meaningful action against Saddam Hussein no matter what." Rather, the goal would be to win "the backing of long-standing friends such as Turkey, Mexico and Chile." But is it really worth a 45-day delay just to get Turkey, Mexico and Chile (while still not getting U.N. authorization)? ...

Hail Mary II: Isn't the bold move precisely to put France on the spot? Chirac has already shown he's sensitive to the impression that he's being unreasonable -- witness his vague, last minute "30-day" proposal. Why not, if only for global P.R. purposes (which are not trivial at this point), make Chirac a final offer he looks stupid refusing: a substantial (4-month?) delay, massive inspections with U.S. intelligence guidance and onerous anti-Saddam conditions, plus automatic war if either a) disarmament benchmarks are violated or b) a forbidden weapon is found (i.e. the French promise not to react with the predictable "inspections are working" gambit). Make it clear that a French veto will mean the U.S. abandons the U.N. and immediately starts the attack it seems about to start. In other words, make the French vote for war (or at least make it look like that's what they are doing when they turn down a reasonable war-postponing alternative). ... 2:24 A.M. 

Hail Mary I: Newsweek's Jonathan Alter has a highly creative suggestion for avoiding war -- send in, not teams of unarmed inspectors, but teams of unarmed administrators to start running Saddam's government, in a form of U.N. trusteeship. Tell Saddam if he stops them the war is on ... Alter says he's not in favor of his own idea, of course. (He's still "not a dove.") And there are some obvious problems: a) What does happen to Saddam's secret police when he's sulking in his palaces? (Maybe the genius of the plan is that they're free to foment plots against Saddam. But what if they, you know, start killing people?) b) Wouldn't this plan just provide Saddam with several hundred handy U.N. hostages? ... Still, a month ago this might have been a suggestion that made a difference... 1:54 A.M.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Kerry's Biggest Secret: The laptop computer of John Kerry aide Chris Lehane, containing "sensitive campaign information," was stolen on Saturday. The theft raises the disturbing possibility that one of the rival campaigns has illicitly discovered Kerry's most vital secret -- his position on the war! ... 9:29 P.M.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Mediaweek's Lewis Grossberger (who calls himself Media Person) is on to Radar editor Maer Roshan:

Maer Roshan is the greatest magazine editor alive today. For several years now, Media Person has been unable to open a newspaper or check a media Web site without seeing some reference to Maer Roshan and his latest plans for the fabulous Radar magazine. His strategy has been unbelievably brilliant. Everyone knows that this is a terrible time to start a magazine (or anything else, except maybe a war) and so Roshan has opted to not start one. Meanwhile, he has hired so many fine journalists and received so much publicity that his magazine gets more buzz than any other. People at parties are always talking about the fantastic articles they would have read in Radar this month if only it existed. Advertisers can't wait to run their ads in it. The only thing that could possibly hurt Radar's success would be its debut. But Media Person believes Maer Roshan is much too smart to allow that to happen.

One of the journalists Roshan is said to be considering using, at least according to Fox News' Roger Friedman, is investigative reporter John Connolly, whose book on the Lewinsky scandal, Insane Clown Posse, was famously aborted by Talk Miramax Books. ... Is that good publicity for Radar or bad publicity? .... 3:21 P.M.

Delay OK? Rumsfeld says a delay of a month or more would not be a problem for our military? WaPo buries the lede! ... He supposedly said this during a brief appearance at a meeting where the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, indicated our troops can "wait as long as necessary," in the words of an unnamed analyst who was present. ... Of course, Rumsfeld and the general could be trying to lull Saddam into a false sense of temporary confidence, in order to regain some element of suprise. ... 12:49 A.M.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Zinni Arabiatta: Retired Marine General (and former Middle East envoy) Anthony Zinni also favors a delay-for-consensus deal, according to Al Hunt.

 "Iraq is not an imminent threat," he declares in an interview this week. It's critical, he believes, to have many allies in any rebuilding effort, which would be tremendously facilitated by United Nations support. "If we need to wait a few months while ratcheting up the pressure on Saddam -- take away the whole air space from him...then we ought to wait."

But the fuss about needing allies to rebuild Iraq -- stressed here by Zinni, and elsewhere by Thomas Friedman -- seems overdone. Won't the Europeans help in the rebuilding effort anyway, if only to maintain their influence and show they're not complete free riders? Isn't the real question the initial decision to invade -- especially a) the bad practical precedent of an invasion outside any supra-national (U.N. or NATO) structure and, b) the need to reduce global hatred of America by operating under international sanction. I also suspect those issues -- and not the size of the rebuilding effort -- are what most trouble voters when they say they care about whether the U.N. votes for war. ...[You're sniping at people on your side of the argument--ed. Could be ego! -- I decide the reasons for delaying war around here, buddy! But the "rebuilding" issue has always seemed a bit of a phony to me. If an invasion were otherwise justified and prudent, and the U.N. said "We approve an attack on Saddam, but we won't give you any help afterwards," we wouldn't hold off just because rebuilding Iraq might be difficult, right?] 10:37 P.M.

Radley Balko has a "hardy perennial," oldie-but-goodie story on how Ralph Nader's PIRG organizations live off funds siphoned from unwitting college students. The standard hypocrisy charge applies: If the Naderite fundraising activities were a for-profit business, Nader would probably be demanding the Federal Trade Commission investigate them for bad consumer practices. ... Come to think of it, now that Nader's hated by Gore-supporting Democrats at least as much as by Republicans, can't the FTC muster a bipartisan majority to do just that? ... Balko's good on the hypocrisy of Naderites who plead the First Amendment when the fee arrangement is challenged, but who argue that 'money isn't speech' when it comes to actual politics.

Get it? The act of forcing students at state colleges to fund causes they don't believe in is "protected speech," but voluntarily giving to a political candidate isn't.

Still, I don't understand why mandatory student contributions to Nader (at least at private colleges) should be unconstitutional. If you don't like going to a Nader college, don't go to a Nader college -- just as, if you don't like Jesuits, you probably shouldn't go to Georgetown. ... Granted, most of Balko's examples seem to be state colleges and universities, which arguably have different obligations. ...8:35 P.M.

Show of Feet? Reader M.B. has an idea for finessing the Iraq situation that's probably won't work, but seems worth presenting anyway: Somehow establish U.N. protected zones within Iraq -- starting perhaps in Shiite border towns or Kurdish areas, but also (the hard part, I guess) in some Sunni areas. Let Iraqi citizens vote with their feet about where they'd prefer to live. If Saddam tries to interfere with the ensuing mass migration, you have a Rwanda-style situation justifying intervention to protect them. ... 8:09 P.M.

It's always a crisis in Krugmanville -- Update: MinuteMan has fun elaborating the new Krugman disaster scenarios. ... 11:29 A.M.

Another sign subtlety doesn't pay in the Washington lobbying game:

Lobbyist Lorine Card, a member of one of the best-connected families in Washington these days, has set up her own shop: Card & Associates.

Card, the sister-in-law of White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., said the split with her partner, Valerie LoCascio, at the Potomac Hudson Group was amicable. ...

Though she wants her shop to stay small, Card said she'll be looking to expand.

Going solo and putting the Card name out front had nothing to do with her brother-in-law, she said.

Emphasis in original.  ... 1:26 A.M.

Kiss of death: Bill Clinton joins the Balking Hawks. ... Why do I think this dooms any chance their case might have had within the Bush Administration? ... Clinton must know his endorsement won't help -- but I guess he couldn't resist being seen as getting the answer right. (He did get the answer right, by my lights.). ... Update: As long as someone named Clinton was going to make this point, why didn't Hillary Clinton have the balls to do it? [Wouldn't that be the kiss of death too?-ed. My guess is the Bushies don't loathe Hillary nearly as much as Bill. For one thing, she's not an ex-president undermining a successor. For another, she has some discipline, a Bushie virtue. For another, she's an elected official in the opposition. Bush actually has a laudable track record of stealing ideas from the opposing party and taking credit for them (the Homeland Security department being the most recent example). He might steal this one too! A longshot, I agree.] ...  More:Media Whores Online gets in a good shot  at this item. ... 1:06 A.M.

Wednesay, March 12, 2003

DeLong Deciphers: Brad DeLong takes up the challenge of explaining his ally Paul Krugman's seemingly contradictory worries about a) deflation and b) inflation. It's a very helpful post.  DeLong says deflation is a short-term worry ("a problem for the next three years") and inflation a long-term problem ("that may begin to threaten the country starting at the soonest a decade hence"). Any hope that the two problems will cancel each other out is vain, he argues:

The first danger will be over and settled long before the second danger begins to gather strength.

I'm still a bit puzzled, though. If you thought actual deflation was a lively threat for the next three years, alert kf reader J.G. argues, would you really switch to a fixed-rate long term mortgage as Krugman says he's done? Wouldn't you wait a couple of years to lock in a fixed mortgage at a lower rate? Are long-term mortgage rates completely disconnected with what might happen to prices over the next few years? Or has Krugman voted with his own money against the threat of deflation he (and DeLong) have been warning us about, as J.G. suggests? (Krugman himself seems to admit as much when he writes "unless we slide into Japanese-style deflation, there are much higher interest rates in our future." [Emph. added.] He just bet on higher interest rates -- so he can't be too worried about "Japanese-style deflation," can he?)  ... I do have an alternative explanation: a desperate columnist will do anything for a lede! (He'll even lock his family into a possibly-higher-than-necessary monthly mortgage payment.)

DeLong explains that Krugman couldn't clear up the deflation/inflation, short term/long term confusion because he "only has 700 words" -- though it only takes DeLong 53 words to do the job, by my count. But it's hard to disagree with DeLong's concluding plea:

Memo to Howell Raines: Give Paul Krugman 2000 words once a week (or once every week and a half) rather than 700 words twice a week.

Or -- here's a crazy suggestion -- have him write 400 words when he has a 400 word idea and 2,000 words when he has a 2,000 word idea! That's what bloggers do! ... Update: Comments at Luskin, Musil, Brothers Judd. ... 3:27 P.M.

Don't Rush Me VI: The Grand Gesture Slate's Fred Kaplan definitively joins the Balking Hawks,endorsing a proposal (by the "six undecideds" on the Security Council) to postpone a war for 45 days or so, while in the meantime imposing a detailed timetable for disarmament on Saddam. The two main problems with this idea are obvious.

1) Costs of delay: "What's the harm in holding off an invasion, even for several months," Kaplan asks -- answering that our troops "would have to wait around and possibly fight in the summer heat." But that severely underestimates the costs, which include a) a continued economic slump due to the continued uncertainty about events in the Middle East; b) an inability to transfer military assets to the Korean theater; c) giving Saddam months more time to set in place various doomsday boobytraps and revenge schemes; and d) courting unrest in host Arab states where our troops' presence is considered an affront.

I'd argue that these costs would be worth paying if we could be sure, at the end of the delay, that either Saddam would be permanently disarmed or we'd be fighting a war with U.N. backing. (The point, to answer Stuart Taylor's objection, isn't to satisfy the technical legal requirements of international law; it's to play by a set of rules that, as a practical matter, will win us international support and "avoid setting the wrong precedent," as Kenneth Pollack, patron saint of this particular war, puts it.)

The trouble is we probably can't be sure of having the U.N.'s backing ,even after a 45 day delay. That's because of the other obvious problem ...

2) Automaticity: What happens, under Kaplan's compromise, if Saddam fails to meet his timetable? Can we just attack, or do we have to go back to the Security Council and subject ourselves again to France and its veto? If it's the latter, it's not clear we've gotten very much by waiting. Yet the French say they'll never agree to any sort of automatic trigger. Kaplan admits at the end of his piece that this is where his deal probably breaks down.

What's needed, it seems, is (as Josh Marshall suggests) an American gesture of humility grand enough to allow Bush a face-saving way of appearing intentionally noble, while giving the French a symbolic victory -- in exchange for which we'd get their advance approval of an attack in the long run. The formula of trading delay for automaticity seems like a good one --  but to have a shot at success, given the current U.N. mood, it will have to be a very big delay. Forty-five days won't do the trick. How about 9 months? That would get us through the summer no-fight zone. During that period, a beefed up inspection regime would keep Saddam from making progress on the nuclear front, and maybe even find the sort of banned WMD that could set off the automatic war trigger. The inspectors' job could even be expanded to include hunting for and dismantling "doomsday" anti-invasion boobytraps -- including bombs on Iraqi oil rigs.

True, we'd have to keep most of our troops on Saddam's border, guns cocked. But we might be able to transfer at least some military assets -- e.g. ships and planes -- to Korea for a crucial few months. We'd also have to live with economic uncertainty through the summer. But we can handle it. The Arab states would have to live with potential popular outrage at U.S. troops for a few more months; they won't be happy but presumably they can handle it too.

In the long run, the delay would be worth it -- again, for practical reasons (less blowback, better precedent), not for technical international-law reasons. As Pollack notes, we already have a reasonable legal argument that an attack now is authorized by the same grant of U.N. authority that allowed the 1991 Gulf War -- a grant that authorizes the U.S. and others to enforce "all subsequent relevant resolutions."

If after 9 months the inspections regime is falling apart, we'll be in real trouble -- and, for that reason, we'll have a valid self-defense argument and can move unilaterally to neutralize the Iraqi threat just as the Israelis moved against the Osirak reactor in 1981.

P.S.: The offer of a long delay could be a public, transparent American proposal, unveiled with suitable drama. France, Russia, and China might still turn it down, but that would be harder than turning down a similar proposal made in private. If they did, we'd be no worse off than before -- except they'd look bad and we'd look better. Looking better to the world, remember, is part of what we've been trying to achieve by getting the U.N.'s blessing. Since it translates into fewer terrorists trying to kill us, it would be a small victory in itself.

P.P.S.: Yes, this is basically the same idea as Thomas Friedman's proposal  in tomorrow's NYT. He suggests a Bush trip to Europe as an effective, non-humbling-yet-humble gesture. ...

P.P.P.S.: Charles Krauthammer offers an intriguing alternate proposal  -- a one-sentence resolution that would say "The security Council finds Iraq in violation of Resolution 1441." The problem with Krauthammer's idea is that even this motion might lose, in which case we'd be in worse shape, legally, than if it had never been proposed at all and we simply claimed authority to enforce 1441 as a "subsequent relevant resolution" under the 1991 Gulf War grant. ...

[You seem to be taking the "proceduralist" position that almost everything hinges on the U.N.'s approval. Does this mean that if the Security Council does authorize an attack on Iraq, you're for it?--ed. Yes. If anybody cares!] 1:18 A.M.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

About What, Me Worry? I believe whatever Paul Krugman tells me, of course -- he's going to win the Nobel Prize, not me -- but I'm confused. It seems like  only two months ago he had me terrified that inflation was going to go down so low it would plunge into negative territory, as in Japan. Now, after reading today's column, I'm worried that the government will decide to "inflate away debt" and "interest rates will soar." ... In other words

[u]nless we slide into Japanese-style deflation, there are much higher interest rates in our future.

What I don't understand -- and I recognize I may be missing something -- is why we can't end up somewhere in between inflation so low that it's a crisis and inflation so high that it's a crisis. In other words, not in a crisis! If I'm wondering about this, I bet so are many other Krugman readers. Explanation, please! ... Note to Brad DeLong: This doesn't mean I support Bush's huge new tax cuts! I don't. I am more optimistic than Krugman is that they won't pass -- that they'll at least be substantially whittled down. ... 2:56 A.M.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Muskie II: I would say that Sen. John Kerry has joined the He's-Botching-It Hawks, except that would require divining enough about Kerry's war positionto clearly label him a hawk in the first place. ... I forgot. He's where the American people are! ... Here's a report on Kerry's commentsfrom the Des Moines Register:

Kerry said during the speech at the downtown Marriott Hotel that Bush has been impatient, which has cost the U.S. support from its allies.

"The greatest position of strength is by exercising the best judgement in the pursuit of diplomacy," he said, "not in some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted, but in a genuine coalition." [Emphass added]

As Instapundit notes, for someone who's criticizing President Bush for undiplomatically alienating our allies, Kerry's language seems calculated to undiplomatically alienate our allies. Except, of course, Kerry's not speaking to our allies; he's speaking to Iowans. He's trying to seem anti-war enough for Iowa's Democratic caucus-goers in a way that would let him abandon the anti-war posturing after Iowa. (Those medals I threw over the wall? Oh, those weren't my medals! They were some other guys' medals! Why'd you think I threw my medals?) ... 7:46 P.M.

News video editors take note: Isn't Peggy Noonan right to identify Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble" as a good soundtrack for this period of our history? Simon's lyrics prefigure both the long-range terrorism and the human progress enabled by technology. They give a sense of global events spinning out of control. The music is appropriately ominous and martial, suitable for tearing across the desert in an armed Humvee. Here's a clip from the song  that doesn't quite capture what I'm talking about. (Turn up the bass if you can.)... It's certainly preferable, on diplomatic grounds, to "Rock the Casbah," the first tune U.S. Armed Forces Radio played during the 1991 Gulf War. ... 1:39 P.M.

Coalition of the Chilling: Josh Marshall has shifted from support of an Iraq attack to opposition. (He now apparently supports a delay of "several months," with a beefed-up inspection regime.) ... Meanwhile, the NYT's Thomas Friedman, who has been an anguished, escape-clausey war supporter ("But if war turns out to be the only option, then war it will have to be")  now says we "need to reconsider our options and our tactics" and ask our allies "How much time do we need to give you to see if inspections can work for you to endorse the use of force it fhey don't." .... Both balkenhawken seem to be assuming the U.S. and Britain will not get their second resolution through the U.N. Security Council. ...

Meanwhile, hawk Kenneth Pollack  is distancing himself from the subtitle of his own book! (The subtitle is "The Case for Invading Iraq.") But Pollack really belongs in a larger category of troubled hawks -- the He's-Botching-It Hawks, who seem to still be in favor of pulling the trigger but are focusing their fire on President Bush's handling of the pro-hawk case. This group includes Newsweek's Jonathan Alter ("He's got a good case but has made a hash out of it") and Time's Joe Klein ("he has been extremely careless").

The criticisms of this second group have some merit but they also have a distasteful distancing quality, as if proponents support the omelette but want to criticize the breaking of the eggs. 1) Along with Andrew Sullivan, I'm deeply skeptical of the idea that a greater slathering of skillful diplomatic etiquette could have suckered the French into supporting a military attack they clearly don't want to support. The only reason we can even conceive of France endorsing the eventual use of force after giving more time to meaningful, beefed-up inspections (the new Marshall and Friedman Plan, which makes sense to me if we can't get a second U.N. resolution) is that President Bush charged ahead, moved 250,000 troops into position and threatened a unilateral attack. 2) Likewise, Alter's right that Bush is unconvincing when he says a war is his "last choice." But then Alter states his own rationale for an attack:

Let's get this straight: Saddam's potential development of nuclear weapons five or 10 years from now constitutes an imminent threat to the United States, but North Korea's possession of them five to 10 weeks from now does not? I personally favor taking out Saddam now so that he's not Kim Jong Il in a few years.

Despite Bush's disingenuous clumsiness and "cowboyspeak," has any American failed to get the impression that this is also Bush's main rationale for an attack? ... P.S.: Which of the two groups of cooling-off hawks does Slate's Fred Kaplan belong in? As far as I can tell, he's somewhere in between the two -- he claims Bush has botched it ("It is hard to remember when, if ever, the United States has so badly handled a foreign policy crisis") and seems to be conditioning his hawkishness on Bush  showing more finesse and  obtaining a second U.N. resolution. But he hasn't actually shifted to advocacy of delaying an attack (beyond  late March). ... 1:55 A.M.

Sunday, March 9, 2003

Great Moments In Social Equality: Jack Grubman's kids enter public school! (This, according to the N.Y. Post, will be after their rejection by "at least eight exclusive prep schools" ....) Memo to Jeff Zucker: Two words -- 1) sit 2) com. ... 1:20 A.M.

Is Iraq Just a Pit Stop? When even Charles Krauthammer says it's time to negotiate with North Korea, it's probably time to negotiate with North Korea. ...  Krauthammer says he's only for "temporary appeasement," and that "[t]he blandishments should be immediately withdrawn as soon as Iraq is over and we can marshal enough strength in the Northern Pacific." But aren't the North Koreans smart enough to recognize this post-Iraq possibility, and negotiate for a non-temporary deal? Or is Krauthammer arguing we should renege later on whatever it is we agree on now? ...  If Bush thinks a temporary deal is impossible, maybe one unmentionable reason for his hurry to get started with Iraq is that he thinks he needs to finish it up soon in order to shift our soldiers, sailors and pilots to the next war in the North Pacific, before the Koreans churn out a critical mass of plutonium. ... Peter Beinart's  most recent "TRB" column pointed to this possibility, as does the last graf of Michael Barone's latest. ...12:07 A.M.

Friday, March 7, 2003

A conspiracy show-trial for captured Al Qaeda members? In the middle of next year's election? Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball raise this possibility in their highly-reported new weekly Web-only feature. (Worth it for the banner picture alone!) ... But wouldn't a show trial just give the al Qaeda bigwigs a global platform for radical-Islamic, anti-U.S., rhetoric (or, if we silenced them, wouldn't it make us look thuggish)? Isn't this the very reason why, as the Washington Post reports today, some U.S. officials are arguing it would be  better if bin Laden is captured dead rather than alive? The "September show trial" seems like a trial balloon destined to be shot down. ... Update: An alert reader points out that the difference between Osama bin Laden and the already-captured al Qaeda members is that the latter are ... well, already captured. We have to do something with them. We won't have an opportunity to semi-accidentally kill them during an attempted capture. There may be nothing else to do with them except try them. ... But that doesn't mean it has to be a highly-orchestrated "grand Nuremberg-style show trial." ...  1:18 P.M. 

Thursday, March 6, 2003

Some evidence (not conclusive) for the "strong horse" theory of winning Arab hearts and minds. ... 11:38 P.M.

Eilperin Gets Results! (Republicans have pulled the "Christmas Tree" bill she publicized.) ... 11:20 P.M.

Mine the Pollacks? There's one part of Clintonite Iraq hawk Kenneth Pollack's  Q & A with Josh Marshall that I don't understand,  In the interview, Pollack outlines, without a lot of detail, his view "that if you could have turned back time we could have handled this a lot better than we actually did. But we are where we are" and it's "now or never. " He prefers now. Then he says:

You've heard me say any number of times that I wish they hadn't pursued this route with the UN. But, again, when I wrote the book they were in the mode of 'We don't need the UN. We've got all the authority we need to go ahead and do this.' And instead they recognized that that was a mistake. And they have gone to the UN. Unfortunately the route they took may have cost them as much support as it built them. Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that they at least made the effort. [Emphasis added.]

So was Pollack for going to the U.N. or not? If it would have been a "mistake" not fo go to the U.N., what was wrong about the "route" Bush took? Presumably Pollack objects to the administration getting suckered into what he calls the "inspections trap," in which Saddam perpetually postpones war by showing enough last-minute cooperation to mollify our U.N. allies. But was there a way to go to the U.N. and not get suckered into the inspections trap? If so, I'd like to hear it. ... Maybe alert kf readers can explain to me why Pollack isn't trying to have it both ways here. ...

P.S.: The prescriptive conclusion of Pollack's now-totemic book  doesn't urge Bush to go to the U.N.. It's more like the opposite -- Pollack strongly questions the ability of the U.N. to solve the Iraq problem. He merely says "we would do well to work hard to try to bring as many European, Asian, and other allies on board as possible." ...

P.P.S.:  Like Slate's Chris Suellentrop, Marshall reports that "In his book, The Threatening Storm, Pollack advocates a very different approach than the one the president has pursued." He does? You coulda fooled me! (One exception: Pollack does caution in his book against invasion until we "reduce the bedlam in the Middle East to lower levels," though he doesn't say what he would do if the bedlam resisted such efforts. He told Marshall he thinks "the administration refused to really engage on getting negotiations resumed.") ...  9:47 P.M.

Ken Auchincloss:  It's very upsetting to hear that Ken Auchincloss of Newsweek has died at the unfair age of 65. He was a graceful, exuberant man who made those who worked for and with him feel they were part of a wonderful profession. He was also a confident, independent mind, which is not what you'd expect to thrive in the culture of newsmagazines, where the goal is often to say what everyone else is saying (but a little "smarter") at the precise moment they're saying it. I'd always figured it was because he'd stepped off the Newsweek fast track that he often saw things in a more sensible, even scholarly, longer-term perspective -- but Devin Gordon's appreciation suggests this is just the way he was. A small example: I remember a panel discussion in around 1988 -- a dog and pony show for advertisers, I think -- when people were wondering why President Reagan had lost his legislative mojo. Was it Iran Contra? James Baker's departure as chief of staff? Don Regan's personality? Nancy's astrologer? Why wasn't the Gipper's old magic working? etc. Auchincloss was the only one who pointed out that this was so much hothouse newsmagazine birdsong -- Reagan was having trouble because the Republicans had lost their majority the Senate. Duh! Nobody else thought of it -- it was too big a point, and because it wasn't going to change in the next week (and didn't involve insider tick-tock) there was no payoff for acknowledging it. ... 2:22 P.M.

Late-breaking building: The best memorials (Washington Monument, Gateway Arch, Vietnam Veteran's Memorial) are simple awesome forms -- and they don't need museums! James Ingo Freed's Air Force Memorial looks like it meets the test (and it should so terrify pilots flying into nearby Reagan National that they'll stay very alert). Ben Forgey is appropriately enthusiastic. ... 12:16 A.M.

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Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes "Tilting at Windmills" Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. The Liberal Death Star--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh --Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. Tom Paine.com--Web-lib populists.  Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.