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The new New Republic

The new New Republic has an elegant and precise statement of the ironies and difficulties of the current stand-off between India and Pakistan, and our vexed efforts to serve as an honest broker between the two. More broadly, however, the editorial is a clear statement of the panoply of geo-strategic, political and cultural affinities which should make India our ally in the deepest sense. We share realpolitik interests and values as well.

Oddly enough, one of the strongest bonds we have with the Indians is one the TNR editorial doesn't even mention, perhaps because it is so obvious or implicit: the fact that we, literally, speak the same language.

India isn't an English-speaking country of course. But the elite speak English, and it's the lingua franca Indians use to communicate across the multitude of languages that are spoken on the subcontinent.

We hear a great deal about the billion-plus Chinese and how they're a huge potential market, which of course they are. But the Indian population isn't that much smaller. And with them we share language, democratic values, a good bit of our legal system, and much more.

Of late I've been writing a lot about the importance of bolstering and supporting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. But up till now, and from a broader perspective, I'm thoroughly pro-India in my sentiments. The perplexity and irony of our current circumstance is that precisely at the moment when the depth of our friendship with the Indians is most clear, our need of good behavior from the Pakistanis is most acute. And the country is suddenly being run by a leader who seems willing and - hopefully - able make it into the sort of country with which America could be a true ally.

In the name of

"In the name of Allah, I do not have anything to plead and I enter no plea," Zacarias Moussaoui told the trial judge in Alexandria, Virginia when asked to enter a plea yesterday. Some apparently think this is an example of why we shouldn't give terrorists a platform for mouthing propaganda, but rather try them in secret military tribunals.

But isn't the answer to this sort of backtalk just 'who cares?'

Are we so pitiful that this bothers us?

There may be a place and a rationale for military tribunals. But this one is pretty weak.

On the other hand, why should Moussaoui - who actually came to America and plotted a specific terrorist act - get a civilian trial, when some poor shlub in Afghanistan who barely made it out of the training camp gets strung up in a military tribunal? One pretty clear answer would be that if you get caught on American soil you get tried in our courts. But that clean division seems already to have been ruled out by the President's original executive order, which makes no such distinction.

Heres a pretty encouraging

Here's a pretty encouraging sign that the Pakistani government may have the willingness, determination and - presumably - the ability to turn crisis into opportunity and move decisively against the malignant militants in its midst.

"We realised that things have to be done," the Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar told the Times of India, while emphasizing his government's willingness to move ahead in its own anti-terrorist crackdown. He even said something on the need to combat terrorism that would do John Ashcroft proud. "In a time of stress," said Sattar, "legal hassles have to be given the go by."

Wondering how many Bush

Wondering how many Bush administration (Senate-confirmed) appointees owned stock in Enron? Or how much they owned? Or what business relationships they had with the company? Well, hey, you came to the right place!

Now it's important to keep in mind that most of these folks listed below just owned stock in the company, which probably only means they got suckered and cleaned out by the company brass like a lot of other people.

But then if some of them cashed in their stock a few months ago (which next year's disclosures will tell us) based on inside information ... well, that would be another matter entirely.

Appointee: Kathleen B. Cooper
Title: Undersec. for Economic Affairs
Department: Commerce
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,001

Appointee: Thomas C. Dorr
Title: Under Sec. for Rural Development
Department: USDA
Relationship: (1) Enron stock $1,001-$15,001 (MG Dorr IFT), (2) Enron stock $1,001-$15,001 (Roth IRA)

Appointee: Emil H. Frankel
Title: Asst. Sec. for Transportation Policy
Department: Transportation
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Eugene Hickok Jr.
Title: Undersecretary
Department: Education
Relationship: (1) Spouse Katherine Hickok Rev. Trust: Enron stock $15,001-$50,000 value, $5,001-$15,000 dividends/capital gains; (2) Son Adam Eugene Hickok Trust: Enron stock $15,000-$50,000 value, $5,001-$15,000 dividends/capital gains; (3) Daughter Katherine C. Hickok Trust: Enron stock $15,001-$50,000 value, $5,001-$15,000 dividends/capital gains.

Appointee: Allen F. Johnson
Title: Chief Agriculture Negotiator
Department: US Trade Rep.
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: John H. Marburger
Title: Director
Department: Office of Science and Technology
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000 value, $201-$1,000 dividends

Appointee: Alice H. Martin
Title: US Attorney, Northern District of Alabama
Department: Justice
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Sandra L. Pack
Title: Asst. Secretary
Department: Army
Relationship: Enron stock less than $1,001 value, $5,001-$15,000 capital gains.

Appointee: Robert Zoellick
Title: US Trade Rep.
Department: USTR
Relationship: Enron stock $15,001-$50,000, Enron advisory fees $50,000

Appointee: Hansford T. Johnson
Title: Asst. Sec.
Department: Navy
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Donald H. Rumsfeld
Title: Secretary
Department: Defense
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: John E. Robson
Title: Chairman/President
Department: Export Import Bank
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Thomas Scully
Title: Administrator
Department: HCFA
Relationship: Enron stock $15,001-$50,000

Appointee: Martin J. Silverstein
Title: Ambassador to Uruguay
Department: State
Relationship: Enron stock $15,001-$50,000

Appointee: William Winkenwerder
Title: Asst. Sec.
Department: Defense
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Thomas E. White
Title: Secretary of the Army
Department: Defense
Relationship: Former Vice-Chairman of Enron Energy Service; Enron Corp-common stock worth $25,000,001-50,000,000 that paid over $5,000,000 in dividends and capital gains; Enron Corp-stock options worth $25,000,001-50,000,000 that paid $100,001-1,000,000 in capital gains; Enron Corp Cash Balance Retirement Acct (Enron Stock will rollover into permissible property) worth $100,001-250,000 that paid less than $201 in dividends; Enron Corp-DLJ Private Equity Partners Fund II that paid $5,516,131.08 in salary; Enron Employee Stock Ownership Plan, Defined Contribution Plan Managed by Enron worth $1,000,001-5,000,000 that paid less than $201 dividends; Enron Phantom Stock Award worth $5,000,000-25,000,000 that paid less than $201 dividends; Enron Retirement Account (Enron Stock) worth less than $1,001 that paid less than $201 dividends; Agreements: Pursuant to provisions of employment agreement and routine practice of Enron Corp, given $1,000,000 in severance pay; The Phantom Stock Award in Enron (approximately 240,000 shares) were accelerated and paid out when he left Enron

Appointee: Mark Weinberger
Title: Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy)
Department: Treasury
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000 value, $201-1,000 dividends

Appointee: Vicky A. Bailey
Title: Assistant Secretary, International Affairs & Domestic Policy
Department: State
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Alexander Vershbow
Title: Ambassador to Russia
Department: State
Relationship: Enron stock $50,001-$100,000 value, $201-1,000 dividends

Appointee: Marcelle M. Wahba
Title: Ambassador to the UAE
Department: State
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Steven M. Colloton
Title: US Attorney (S.D. Iowa)
Department: Justice
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: Richard J. Egan
Title: Ambassador to Ireland
Department: State
Relationship: Enron Partial Sale
Value: $250,000-500,000
Dividends: $5,001-15,000
Capital Gains: $100,001-1,000,000

Enron Corporation (SOLD)
Value: Less than $1,001
Dividends: $201-1,000

Egan's spouse: The following is owned through his wife's Lawhill Capital fund for the year 2000:

Enron Gas & Oil
15,679 US G/L

Enron Corp.
Lost 12,429 US G/L

Appointee: Donald W. Washington
Title: US Attorney (W.D. Louisiana)
Department: Justice
Relationship: Enron stock $1,001-$15,000

Appointee: John Prince
Title: Ambassador to Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles
Department: State
Relationship: Enron stock through four direct/indirect sources: (1) less than $1,000; (2) $15,001-$50,000; (3) $1,001-$15,000; (4) $15,001-$50,000.

Appointee: William Schubert
Title: Administrator, Maritime Administration
Department: Transportation
Relationship: Project Consulting Services for Enron, paid over $5,000

Appointee: Bruce Carnes
Title: CFO
Department: US Dept of Energy
Relationship: Enron Stock $1,000 - $15,000

Appointee: John S. Wolf
Title: Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation
Department: Dept of State
Relationship: Enron Stock $50,000 - $100,000

Appointee: Linnet Deily
Title: Deputy
Department: Office of the Trade Representative
Relationship: Enron Stock $15,000 - $50,000

Appointee: Nils J. Diaz
Title: Commissioner
Department: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Relationship: Enron Stock $1,000 - $15,000

Appointee: George L. Argyros
Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Spain and Andorra
Department: State
Relationship: Enron Stock $100,000 - $250,000; $1,000 - $15,000

Appointee: Charlotte L. Beers (Beadleston - married name)
Title: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy
Department: State
Relationship: Enron Stock $100,000 - $250,000

Appointee: Stephen F. Brauer
Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Belgium
Department: State
Relationship: Enron Common Stock $50,000 - $100,000

Maybe reporters covering the relevant departments should ask some questions.

Nice column by Michelangelo

Nice column by Michelangelo Signorile in the New York Press. Signorile picks up on an element of the John Walker story that briefly saw the light of day in a back-and-forth between columnists in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner but (as far as I've seen at least) hasn't gotten much other play.

Walker's parents' divorce was closely tied (chronologically at least) with his conversion to Islam. And apparently the divorce itself was triggered by his father's coming out as a homosexual or bisexual man.

The conventional take on Walker has been the 'only in Marin' line.

Yes there are a couple permutations. There's the really shabby, slumming version of the story: lax values, permissive parenting, mom's a Buddhist ... of course, he joined the Taliban.

Sophisticates have a more nuanced rendition ... same cake, really, just with a Straussian frosting. The center will not hold, relativism breeds ennui breeds fanaticism. You know the story.

In any case, this seems like a window into Walker's soul that cuts a good deal more deeply than the cookie-cutter versions getting the play on Op-Ed pages. And as to why it's garnered so little notice? I suspect that's because for both parties to the controversy this is just an angle that's a little too dicey, too uncomfortable to handle.

Heres a good even-handed

Here's a good, even-handed rejoinder to a lot of the partisan Clinton Defense legacy-bashing. The Bush folks may get credit for good strategy in Afghanistan. (I'll certainly give it to them.) But they're winning it with Bill Clinton's military.

Heres yet another fascinating

Here's yet another fascinating and captivating article about the company of Special Forces soldiers who were working with Hamid Karzai in the crucial middle and final phases of the war in central Afghanistan. This the company that lost two men late in the fighting due to a friendly fire incident. The company captain, Jason Amerine, who was wounded in the friendly fire incident, described much of the tale for the Washington Post from a hospital bed in Germany. Read the story. I'm sure at some point a movie will be made about this one team's exploits.

I was just reading

I was just reading one of the articles I found linked in the post below from Rick Klau's weblog - on the topic of micropayments as a feasible method for supporting online content.

The author of the piece says that for micropayments to work they'll need to become invisible, not something you're constantly clicking on to okay a payment. Sorta like the way the phone bill works or your electricity. It just pops up increment by increment as you go. The author - Jakob Nielsen - also gives a big thumbs down to subscriptions and advertisements. He says they'll never work, except in a few cases where special circumstances apply.

As the editor, chief writer, and CEO of Talking Points Memo, this whole issue is of more than academic concern to me. And I'd like to see a way for small sites to support themselves. Somehow, though, this vision of how the web will function just seems off to me. (TPM accepts contributions to help defray the expense of running the site. And by all means make a contribution! But if TPM were run on a balance sheet it would have stopped publishing long, long ago.)

Way back when in the early 1990s, unless you were a college student, you had to buy connectivity by the hour. Maybe a hundred hours a month for some reasonable fee. Or if you had a service like AOL you literally paid by the hour. Eventually, competition and experience changed the business model and pretty much all ISPs went over to some sort of flat rate.

Certainly, there were many reasons that went into the change. But for my part at least having a meter running on your web usage took much of the pleasure out of the experience. I found a similar frustration with online services like AOL or CompuServe where there were different fees for looking at different material or using different services. One other problem with paying a small fee for every individual thing you look at is that, for me at least, the vast majority of things I click on to look at I don't stay to read. I give a quick glance and I'm off.

For my money, far better to just pay a flat fee. The issue is not the aggregate expense. It's having concern over price and expense creeping into the process of hopping around the 'net and finding new info here and there.

It's true that phone service operates by a sort of micropayments system, but only for long-distance. And I suspect that's a legacy of the now bygone era when calling long distance was a sort of extravagance. Or at least not something done without a second thought as it is today. For local service, we pretty much all opt for the flat rate, in part I suspect to avoid the annoyance of having the meter running or just needing to think about it at all.

In any case, this invisible micropayment vision of the web's future is not one that seems inviting to me in the least. For all the difficulties people have encountered, I suspect ads are still the future of selling content online. The recent proliferation of pop-ads - especially from prestige sites like the New York Times - could not be more annoying. And I hope and suspect there will be some backlash.

But the more I think about it, the economics of selling web content, for better and worse, seems quite like that of other media.

Thank God I didnt

Thank God I didn't throw away those micro-initiative policy memos! That's what Dick Morris must be telling himself.

Morris' latest column criticizing Bill Clinton for being soft on terror looks pretty much like a catalog of Morris' own poll-tested micro-initiative ideas that the president refused to sign off on.

"The weekly strategy meetings at the White House throughout 1995 and 1996 featured an escalating drumbeat of advice to President Clinton to take decisive steps to crack down on terrorism. The polls gave these ideas a green light ..."

"detailed proposals were laid before the president ... " i.e., by me, Dick Morris

"At a Feb. 13, 1996 White House meeting, the president received and read a memo noting that "by taking aggressive action against Iran, we will rally public opinion for a fight against terror ..." i.e., received from me, Dick Morris

And what were these cracker-jack anti-terror initiatives? Revoking Osama bin Laden's invitation for a sleepover in the Lincoln bedroom?

Not exactly. More like a bogus anti-terrorism tie-in to the motor-voter law, which actually sounds a lot more like a crack-down on illegal immigrants micro-initiative that Morris has retrospectively dressed up as an anti-terror initiative. That and a shifty retelling of the debate over sanctions against Iran which would penalize European businesses.

Dems of good faith have to concede that there were some anti-terror screw-ups under Bill Clinton. But trust me, this ain't one of 'em.

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