Letters from the Center
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
  Daily Kos - Followup

Ok, so I read now on FoxNews that John Gibson is saying Rove should get
a medal for outing Plume *especially* if he's guilty (of treason,
effectively). So I'd go so far as to agree that Gibson agrees with the
Plume outing. But I'd still ask that you avoid categorically accusing
Republicans as a whole of such insanity until a few less extreme voices
take up the chorus. Or if they have already, show who and where.


And now I see there's an argument in favor of her outing (albeit a
bizarre one),

  Daily Kos - Out of Practice


This article, on the other hand, is quite good. For example, I
appreciate this statement:

> That's the story now. The law will take care of itself. The Plame
> prosecutor will tell us about that if and when he hands down
> indictments.
> But the White House has been lying to the American People about the
> fact that Rove leaked Plame's identity and about the fact that the
> President would fire whoever leaked this information.

I like how you state your opinion (that the evidence points to Rove
being guilty) and then assert your confidence in the justice system to
come to the correct conclusion. Furthermore, I like how you direct the
reader to the *real* story (in my opinion) that the White House covered
all this up for so long.

I'd like to see more articles written in this more respectful, less
frantic tone.


  Daily Kos - Republican Leaders: We Support Plame's Outing


I'm terribly disappointed with the headline of this article as nowhere
has any Republican official that I've seen -- nor that you cite -- said
anything even remotely close to this. Is this your notion of objective
analysis and reporting?

Overall, I'm disappointed by your mischaracterization of the Republican
position. Granted, they are eager to shut up on the issue, and yes,
they're interpreting everything in the best possible light. But in the
same vein, you appear to be interpeting their every statement in the
worst possible light, too. Take, for example, the RNC quote and your
response. You quoted Ken Mehlman (Chairman of the RNC) in saying:

"It's disappointing that once again, so many Democrat leaders are taking
their political cues from the far-left, Moveon wing of the party. *The
bottom line is Karl Rove was discouraging a reporter from writing a
false story based on a false premise and the Democrats are engaging in
blatant partisan political attacks.*" (Emphasis yours.)

While he is obviously minimizing the importance of the charages against
Rove, this statement on its face isn't demonstrably false. They believe
Rove cited Plume -- indirectly, and without knowledge that she was a
covert agent -- in order to "prove" the Nigerian cake story was false.
They further believe that there is some doubt whether Plume is in fact
covert, and whether any law was actually broken. From this perspective,
the story is a non-event, and the Democrats are over-hyping the issue as
a "blatant partisan political attack". In short, it's possible to
honestly believe the statement simply through a willingness to interpret
all the evidence in favor of Rove.

In the same sense, it's entirely possible to honestly believe Rove is
guilty, lying through his teeth, a brilliant mastermind of the Plume
outing, and a honest-to-God traitor. All you have to do is interpret
all the evidence against Rove, and it's quite easy.

But the key thing is that neither view is "correct", and neither is more
"honest" than the other.

It's no surprise that the far-right ignores anything slightly damaging
to "their man" when the far-left ignores anything potentially
reassuring. Please try to be more accepting of alternate
interpretations of the evidence and at least acknowledge the limits of
our, and your, understanding. If you truly believe in the truth, be
confident you'll be vindicated in the end. But don't muddy the waters
so that it never becomes clear.


  Power Line - London calling


You wrote: "I wonder what it would take for Mr. Blair (and President
Bush) to entertain second thoughts about the wisdom of supporting the
savages who do to Israelis what al Qaeda has just done to our British

I agree, the Palestinian terrorists have been as bad as they get. And I
certainly agree with the danger of including Hamas in the political
process (to the small degree they include themselves). However, I don't
see what alternative you are proposing. It would help me as a reader if
every time you said what *not* to do (in this case, not give the
Palestinian Authority $8B), you highlight what you think *should* be done.

So in the case of Isreal and the Palestinian Authority, if you don't
recommend us working with them or helping them rebuild the Palestinian
infrastructure (as we did for the former Nazis), what do you suggest we
do otherwise?


  Power Line - Closing in on Karl


I think your summary of the Rove/Plume affair was quite good. I tend to
agree: at worst it appears that Rove accidentally revealed Plume's
covert identity due to a slip of the tongue. Indeed, I see no evidence
that this was some intentional act to punsh Plume's husband, as was
originally suggested.

However, I'd like to hear your comments about the apparent coverup of
this mistake. Had he acknowledged the mistake honestly and immediately,
I think it'd be easy for most people to forgive him. But if it's true
that he both personally covered up his involvement, and caused others to
cover up his involvement, over a period of years -- that's hard to
stomach from one of our President's closest and most trusted aides.

Would you agree that *if* Rove did accidentally and indirectly reveal
Plume's covert relationship to the CIA, and *if* Rove did engage in a
pattern of coverup -- neither of which has been definitively decided --
would you agee that this is a serious matter for which Rove should answer?


Sunday, July 10, 2005
  Power Line - More "heads I win, tails let's call it even" thinking from a partisan Democrat


This was an excellent post. I really appreciated how you positioned the
debate as a choice between two competing methods of appointing judges:

"There are two plausible ways our democratic society can go about
selecting Supreme Court Justices. Under one approach, the party in power
is able to place Justices on the Court who are in tune with its general
philosophy about judging. ... The other model is to make the selection
of Justices a truly collaborative effort between the two parties, in
some fashion."

I really like how you state your view while acknowledging the
alternative in a fair way. We need more of this type of writing. Thank


Saturday, July 09, 2005
  Power Line - How Democrats and Frenchmen Think (Follow up)

Power Line wrote:
> Deciding cases.

Ok, this is indeed succinct, but so much so it's lost all meaning. Yes
the point of the Supreme Court is to decide cases, just as the point of
Congress is to vote on legislation. But I believe this is missing the
forest for the trees.

You've stated that "contemporary liberal" thought has wrongly attributed
to the supreme court the role of "final arbiter of all the great issues
of US society", and wrongly claimed that its rulings have "long-term
impact on the life of society in general". What part of these statement
do you dispute?

I'd grant its rulings aren't "final" in an absolute sense, because
nothing in the US government is final (by design). The Supreme Court
can change its members, change its interpretation of the Constitution,
and the Constitution itself can change. But would you grant that in a
practical sense, controverisal and complex issues are often lent closure
by the unique responsibilities of the Supreme Court, typically for a
generation or more? Indeed, decisions by the Supreme Court are more
"final" than any other aspect of the US government, and that *is* by
design. Would you disagree with this?


Friday, July 08, 2005
  Power Line - How Democrats and Frenchmen Think


You gave a quote listing the effct of the Supreme Court as:
- "long-term impact on the lift of society in general"
- "*At the very heart of American political life, the Court is the final
arbiter of all the great issues of U.S. society*" [emphasis yours]

About these statements you said:

"That wasn't, of course, the role envisioned for the Court by the
Founders, but it certainly is the one favored by contemporary liberals"

Perhaps I'm one of the "contemporary liberals" that you cite, but I
always assumed these statements were essentially true. Could you please
clarify what you believe the role of the Supreme Court to be, in as
succinct a fashion?


Wednesday, July 06, 2005
  Power Line - A blast from the past and an omen for the future?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: A blast from the past and an omen for the future?
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2005 22:18:36 -0700
From: David Barrett <dbarrett@quinthar.com>
To: Power Line <powerlinefeedback@gmail.com>

I agree with you the democrats haven't made a clear case for Bush's
supposed "incompetency" in Iraq. I find that people very confidently
and casually assert this "fact" and then find themselves unable to
justify it when pressed.

However, I hope you agree that to a casual observer, based on the news
we receive from mainstream sources, it's not hard to come to this
conclusion -- even if not true. I think the general assertions of
incompetence come down to:

1) Disbanding the Iraqi army. Personally, I think this was a hard call,
seemed like a good idea at the time, and might even have been the right
decision. It's impossible to tell, even with hindsight. But there's no
denying that the downside of this move is suddenly unemploying a huge
volume of armed soldiers, and this is unfortunate at best, or some might
say "incompetent" at worst.

2) Calling "Mission Accomplished" well before the mission was anywhere
near accomplished. Now I suppose you could argue the "mission" was
merely toppling Saddam, and thus this was legit. But to many observers,
this was a sign of absurd overconfidence, and signalled an "incompetent"
presumption that it would be smooth sailing henceforth.

3) Trusting the Nigerian uranium cake stories. This went to the highest
levels of the Bush administration -- including Colin Powell's address to
the United Nations -- and now it appears that the documents are obvious
forgeries. Though some might claim this was part of a campaign to "fix"
the evidence (to use the terminology of the "Downing Sreet Memos"),
others might merely assert this fits a pattern of incompetence.

4) The armor-for-troops issue. It's hard for me to understand why we've
had such trouble outfitting our troops and equipment with decent armor
when we're spending such enormous sums of money on the war. This is
further complicated by assertions (at the time) by the manufacturers of
the armor that they have extra capacity that the Pentagon hasn't
requested. If this is true, it could be a sign that the Pentagon and
its civilian leadership were incompetent in the logistics of equipping
our troops.

And these are only the first four that came to mind. I don't mean to
defend the assertions of incompetence. But I do mean to counter your
blaise response to such assertions. I'd prefer that you (and frankly,
the Bush administration) recognize that mistakes have been made, and
counter that these mistakes were simply unavoidable. Facing up to the
bad news builds our confidence when you assert there is good news --
especially good news that is too secret or complicated to detail.

But by categorically denying or ignoring accusations of mistakes, and
then attacking anyone that suggests such a thing, you contribute to an
overall perception that you (and by extension, the Bush administration)
are out of touch with reality.

Strong leaders don't hide from the truth, because they know that on
balance, the truth is on their side.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005
  Power Line - Biden rules

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Biden rules
Date: Tue, 05 Jul 2005 21:38:27 -0700
From: David Barrett <dbarrett@quinthar.com>
To: Power Line <powerlinefeedback@gmail.com>

If possible, please clarify the following questions:

1) What is "judicial activism"?
2) Would you endorse a "judicial activist" for the Supreme Court?
3) Is it possible to be a "solid liberal" or "solid conservative" judge
without simultaneously being a "liberal/conservative activist judge"?

My confusion is that one one hand, everyone seems to be against judicial
activism. But on the other hand, everyone seems to be in favor of
having "their guy" on the Supreme Court. Isn't this a direct contradiction?

It seems to me that the *only* way you fight against "judicial activism"
is to explicitly denounce any judge who is "solid" in any ideological

Naturally, everyone has baises -- and judges are human. But there's an
enormous difference between someone who votes 60/40 conservative, and
90/10 conservative, wouldn't you agree? And the nearer you are to the
90/10 side, the more accurate the label is "judicial activism", correct?

So with this in mind, how can we so casually call for/against a
political political/ideological bias in the judges we recommend, while
simultaneously lambast the the political/ideological bias of the judges
who are currently seated?

If you could address this point in one of your posts, I'd greatly
appreciate it. Thanks!


Saturday, July 02, 2005
  Please recommend a moderate supreme court choice to your readers

(Sent to a list of perhaps a hundred journalists around the world.)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Please recommend a moderate supreme court choice to your readers
Date: Sat, 02 Jul 2005 18:35:14 -0700
From: David Barrett <dbarrett@quinthar.com>

Hello, I'm writing to ask you to endorse a moderate supreme court
candidate to replace Justice O'Connor. Personally, I believe it's
reprehensible for anyone to recommend a politically biased judge
(whether liberal or conservative) as doing so effectively negates the
value of the judiciary. I'm not so naive as to believe this isn't or
hasn't always been the case, but I am sufficiently idealistic to believe
that we should at least strive for improvement.

Anyway, I merely ask that rather than you recommend a judge based on how
that judge would likely favor your views, consider whether that is the
right metric, and ask your fans to consider this as well. Thanks!


I'm what you might call a "radical centrist" and these are my letters to bloggers, journalists, and politicians -- left, right, and center -- where I implore them to pull away from the edges and back to the mainstream. Come read if you like, but I'll keep writing either way.

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David Barrett
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