Archive: Looking Ahead

Signing Off

I intended to write this weeks ago. At the time, I couldn't figure out how to say it. Even now, the words still elude me -- but as with just about every pressing assignment throughout high school and college, it's way past due. I must bid you farewell, whether I can find the words or not. I've started a new job with Washington Post Radio. It's a totally new area for me, requiring all my time and attention. And so I am putting The Debate to bed. A nice, long nap sounds pretty good to me, too, actually. The Debate was always just a fraction of my job; most of my time was spent coordinating the hundreds of op-ed submissions sent to The Post each week, leaving only late night hours for the intensive research necessary in order to have an informed discussion the next day. I've been exhausted since...

By Emily Messner | July 24, 2006; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)

Missiles, Pigs and a Punishment Fit for a King

Over the course of the week, I've found no shortage of creative punishments for those convicted of involvement in terrorism. Strapping terrorists to cruise missiles and nuclear warheads aimed at [insert Middle Eastern country here] is a pretty popular theme, as is just about anything relating to pigs and pig entrails. Forcing a sex change operation comes up a fair bit in relation to Osama bin Laden -- often in conjunction with the observation that it would be a sweet irony to make him live as a woman under his own brand of fundamentalist Islam. In the case of Moussaoui, some say to throw him in prison and let his fellow prisoners take care of the punishment, assuming that they would terrorize and/or eventually kill him. Another suggestion that has surfaced involves the method purportedly used to murder King Edward II. (The argument is made here, but don't read it...

By Emily Messner | April 16, 2006; 12:04 AM ET | Comments (15)

Veterans Defend War Criticism

"President Bush doesn't have a memory of having gone to a war where your politicians lied to you. I have a memory of having gone to a war where the politicians lied and the consequence was the people received me not as a hero but as somebody who had done something they didn't want him to do." --Bob Kerrey, former Democratic senator from Nebraska and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 6, 1991) Fortunately, it seems highly unlikely that such a scenario would occur again -- one of the many lessons Americans learned from Vietnam (too late for many of the veterans, unfortunately) was that it's just plain un-American to turn our backs on the troops. They didn't make the policy decisions that started the war; they were simply doing their duty for their country. The misplaced anger at Vietnam veterans is at long last...

By Emily Messner | December 2, 2005; 01:24 PM ET | Comments (62)

Should a Democrat Try DeLay?

As you might recall, Tom DeLay's petition to have his case heard by a different judge will be decided today. Why does DeLay want a new judge? Because the one currently assigned, Bob Perkins, donated some $3,400 to Democratic causes, including MoveOn.org. B.B. Schraub, the administrative judge to whom the petition was referred, is a Republican. Schraub himself has donated at least $6,400 to Republican campaigns. Schraub, in turn, assigned the case to retired state district judge C.W. Duncan, who now goes in as needed in the capacity of "visiting judge." But if the DeLay case is reassigned, isn't it just as likely that the new judge will have contributed to candidates or causes on one side of the other? What effect will DeLay's request have in a state where all the judges are elected and thus are in some way beholden to some party's interest? When I posed this...

By Emily Messner | November 1, 2005; 05:14 AM ET | Comments (8)

Iraqi Vote: A Cause for Celebration?

A Washington Times editorial this morning gushes over the success of the referendum in Iraq. The giddiness is tempered, however, by this warning: "Some of the more optimistic supporters of the war posit a connection between approval of the constitution and a reduction in the level of violence and terror. Having watched the violence surge following January's elections, we suggest a note of caution on this point." Nonetheless, the Times editorial board is encouraged by a report from 1st Lt. Gregg Murphy, who noted in a teleconference with President Bush Thursday morning that "in contrast to the January election, where coalition forces did all of the security planning, it was the Iraqi soldiers who were responsible for all of the security on Saturday." The board writes: "Given how well things went, that is positive news indeed." The Washington Times may be more likely than most to find cause for optimism...

By Emily Messner | October 17, 2005; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (5)

No Guarantees on Miers's Confirmation

Note to Debaters: I was planning to use the upcoming week's Debate to look at the many ethics scandals currently sloshing around Washington ... until I realized that the Iraq constitution vote is on Saturday. With all the other big news, it kind of snuck up on me. So with the consent of my benevolent editor, we'll take on those scandals next week (I have a feeling they'll still be around) and debate the situation in Iraq starting later this afternoon. But first, a little handicapping on the Harriet Miers nomination. Miers's confirmation is by no means guaranteed, and pre-hearing opinion seems pretty well split over what the outcome is likely to be. According to a piece for the Washington Post by conservative lawyer (and Federalist Society member) John Yoo, she will be confirmed. However, he says that with the Miers nomination, the president "swung and missed." Peggy Noonan is...

By Emily Messner | October 12, 2005; 05:08 AM ET | Comments (23)

Global Warming: What's Next?

Note to Debaters: Tomorrow we will bite into the Miers nomination. Yummy. Have a good tidbit to share? E-mail me. At the end of a Debate, it's always nice to wrap up the topic with some solid answers. Unfortunately, in this particular Debate, there are more questons than answers. We know the basics: global warming is happening, and the majority of scientists believe humans are contributing to the problem in a significant way through emissions of greenhouse gasses. It is likely that this will change -- and has changed -- weather patterns in some way. But just how well do we understand these changing weather patterns? Gregg Suhler, who was a White House Fellow during the Carter administration and served as the 'political point-man' on the 1980 heat and drought, shed some light on that with a detailed comment in this blog regarding climate modeling....

By Emily Messner | October 5, 2005; 01:23 PM ET | Comments (3)

Global Warming: Is Nuclear Energy the Answer?

Every March 28, I celebrate Three Mile Island day. I was in Baltimore on that day in 1979, less than 100 miles from the nuclear power plant as it teetered on the edge of catastrophic failure, and the anniversary of that day always reminds me of just how close we came to our very own Chernobyl. In truth, nuclear power fascinates me, even given the risks involved. Could nuclear power be the way -- at least partly -- to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? And, consequently, could it help in the fight against climate change? Mark Hertsgaard, author of Nuclear Inc., argues that no, nuclear energy is not the answer. "The truth is that nuclear power is a weakling in combatting global warming," he says. And that's not because of the safety concerns, but rather the economic ones. Construction of plants is subsidized heavily by the government, as it...

By Emily Messner | October 4, 2005; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (10)

Hurricanes and Gas Taxes (cont.)

With more than a month left of the hurricane season and layer of extra-warm water stubbornly hanging out in the Gulf of Mexico, it would be unwise to rule out the possibility of another monstrous hurricane attacking the Gulf Coast. As we discussed in the previous post, the Gulf Coast is chock full of oil refineries, and thanks in part to damage some of those refineries have already experienced fuel costs have jumped over the past month. In an effort to ease the burden of $3-a-gallon gasoline, lawmakers across the country have been considering measures to suspend gas taxes. Cynthia Tucker, of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, thinks this approach ignores the fundamental problem. A rise in gas prices would likely encourage some much-needed conservation, she says, and free market conservatives in particular should support the market's upward pressure on the cost of oil, right? Apparently not. "Rather than confront the...

By Emily Messner | September 26, 2005; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (4)

Hurricanes, Refineries and How Oil Prices Could Afftect Post-Katrina Reconstruction

I got a glimpse of the future on Saturday when I stopped in to a Sheetz gas station in Northern Virginia. For those of you not familiar with Sheetz, it's one of those chains that generally has around two dozen pumps to choose from -- and every last pump had a piece of plain white paper taped to it, each with the hastily scrawled words "Out of Gas." In the past, I have seen a station out of 87 octane or one pump cleaned out of 93, but never have I seen two dozen pumps all completely dry. The only explanation we got from the clerk was this: "The supplier has no gas." When I asked when more fuel was expected to arrive, he shrugged. The Sheetz shortage may not last long, since Rita didn't pack the punch many had anticipated -- see Earl Bockenfeld's Radio Weblog for a map...

By Emily Messner | September 26, 2005; 05:34 AM ET | Comments (5)

Rethinking Reconstruction As the Levees Give Way

This is not a good sign. Several hours before Rita's landfall -- and without even the threat of a direct hit on New Orleans -- the hurricane's winds alone pushed so much water toward New Orleans that by noon on Friday, one patched levee had already come unpatched and a dozen or more blocks had re-flooded. This is disturbing for countless reasons, not least of which the fact that the toxic water pumped out of the city is flowing right back in. But more pertinent to our current discussion is that if the city experiences more massive flooding, that will pile on the cost of cleanup and rebuilding. Once again, this raises the question: Are we absolutely positive we want to rebuild New Orleans? (And is everyone involved clear on exactly how that rebuilding should be done?) Sure, Donna Brazile (a noted Democratic campaign strategist), wrote an op-ed after listening...

By Emily Messner | September 23, 2005; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (35)

Are We Prepared for Next Time?

Across the country, a disturbing question is being raised: Is the United States adequately prepared to deal with future large-scale disasters, natural or otherwise? The honest answer is, we don't really know. (Seems like Scott McClellan doesn't know either.) But it doesn't look good. Perhaps the funding that has been diverted to terrorism preparedness at the expense of natural disaster-related programs would make a difference if the next disaster were a terrorist attack. Then again, the basic elements of an effective response -- evacuating, maintaining law and order, and providing relief supplies -- are pretty much the same for any large-scale disaster, regardless of its cause. If it was bungled this time, why wouldn't it be bungled again? I'd be more confident that members of the administration are learning the key lessons from this tragedy if they didn't keep dodging questions and offering to lead an investigation into their own...

By Emily Messner | September 9, 2005; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (66)

 

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