Saturday, August 31

I'm Off

We're bound for Terre Haute to visit the in-laws, and I'm leaving the computer home. Blogging will resume either tomorrow night or Monday with the wine of the week (teaser: it's an Australian shiraz).

Thoughts of Fall

The resolution of baseball's labor dispute means that there will be a postseason, and with it the delightful prospect of watching Commissioner Bud Selig savaged by the fans in Minnesota. Not all thoughts of the postseason produce such glee, however. The folks at In Arguendo, for example, are still haunted by the California Angels' stunning defeat by the Boston Red Sox in game five of the 1986 American League Championship Series, a game in which the Angels were one strike away from advancing to the World Series. Most Angels fans pinned blame for the defeat on ill-fated relief pitcher Donnie Moore (who later committed suicide) or Doug DeCinces, but the In Arguendo folks apparently still go to sleep every night cursing the name of Rob Wilfong.

The Red Sox rode their dramatic comeback in game five to two more victories in the ALCS and a World Series berth, where of course they faced their own moment of horror in game six against the New York Mets. And, two years later, the Mets suffered their own shocking defeat in the 1988 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets had taken ten of twelve games from the Dodgers in the regular season, and in game four of the NLCS they seemed poised to take a commanding three games to one lead, as Dwight Gooden recovered from a rocky first inning to pitch brilliantly, and carried a 4-2 lead into the top of the ninth. But after John Shelby worked a walk to bring the tying run to the plate, Davey Johnson made the worst decision of his career as Mets manager and left outstanding relievers Randy Myers and Roger McDowell in the bullpen, allowing Gooden to pitch to Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia. Scioscia homered to tie the game; three innings later Kirk Gibson (rehearsing for his World Series heroics) homered for the winning run, the series was tied, and the Mets were effectively done. I was at that game, a cold October night at Shea Stadium, and the sight of Scioscia's home run still flashes before my eyes at odd, horrifying moments.

Moments like this are endemic in sports—I know, for example, that my English brother-in-law is still haunted by thoughts of what might have been if only Gareth Southgate hadn't missed that final penalty kick versus Germany in the Euro '96 semifinal. But there's something worse about the moments described here. First, they were part of playoff series, rather than single-elimination games; the shock of defeat had to be carried forward into the remainder of the series. The Angels still could have beaten the Red Sox; the Red Sox still could have beaten the Mets; the Mets still could have beaten the Dodgers. Yet those moments hung over the remaining games, placing extra weight on the scales that none of the teams could overcome. The agony was thus prolonged—not a single, awful moment like Ram fans suffered in last year's Super Bowl, but a drawn-out reflection on what was so close, what still could have been, but that the true fan knew was nevertheless now beyond reach.

The other awful reality of these moments in baseball is that they catch us at moments of vulnerability, when the changing seasons—the longer, darker nights, the cool, piercing breezes, the newly-bare tree limbs—make special room for bitter thoughts of failure. Former baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti captured this in a brilliant 1977 essay for the Yale Alumni Magazine:

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

This, I think, is a major reason why baseball has a special resonance, and why it always will—as long as the idiots in charge can keep from mucking it up entirely.

Baseball's Antitrust Exemption

At Quasipundit, Tony Adragna notes a letter by Senator Arlen Specter (R, Pa.) in which Sen. Specter calls for the repeal of baseball's antitrust exemption in the event of a strike. The letter reads, in part:

Baseball, like professional football, has risen to its lucrative heights as a result of the exemption under the anti-trust laws which almost no other business enjoys except for other sports businesses. If Baseball is determined to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, Congress should send a clear message to the owners and players for a plague on both your houses.

On the merits, Sen. Specter is right. Baseball's antitrust exemption is an anomaly. In Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League of Baseball Clubs, the Supreme Court decided that baseball was not subject to the antitrust laws because professional baseball games were purely local exhibitions, not interstate commerce, and thus were not subject to federal regulation. The decision made little sense in 1922, when it was rendered, and it is absurd on its face as applied to the multi-billion dollar business that baseball has become. The Supreme Court has recognized that the decision is an anomaly, but has stated that it is now such a long-standing anomaly that it's up to Congress, not the courts, to correct it. And Congress certainly should do so.

On another level, though, Sen. Specter's letter shows a shameful lack of knowledge about the business of professional sports. Major League Baseball has an antitrust exemption. Professional football does not, and hasn't since the Supreme Court's 1957 decision in Radovich v. National Football League. Nor do the other professional sports leagues. That the NFL and NBA have proved so successful shows that baseball's antitrust exemption is not only unsound legally, it's also unnecessary.

Friday, August 30

Next on Baseball's Plate

With the baseball owners' agreement, as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, to forego contraction during the term of the agreement, one of Major League Baseball's priorities this offseason will be to find a buyer for the Montreal Expos—a buyer who, in all likelihood, will relocate the team. The nation's capital would seem a natural candidate for relocation. Last month, Eric McErlain explained why relocation to Washington was unlikely, but that view was premised in part on the possibility that the Expos could be contracted instead. With contraction off the table, and relocation of the Expos an urgent necessity, Washington's chances seem to have improved, even though the Baltimore Orioles remain a substantial obstacle. After all, who are the other viable candidates? With all the problems that small-market teams have had recently, baseball isn't likely to look to a city like New Orleans or Columbus or Nashville or (sigh) Indianapolis.

I should add that I deeply resent Eric's suggestion that Washington Post sportswriter Steve Wyche won't enjoy his holiday weekend in Indianapolis. Take that back!

Amazing Political Cynicism

Brad DeLong, citing a Washington Post article, notes the Bush administration's intent to propose a series of tax cuts aimed at investors on the theory that such cuts would encourage investment and revive the flagging stock market. Now, this isn't really such a great idea—we're just coming out of a period in which stock values were artificially inflated above and beyond those justified by corporate performance, and the contemplated tax cuts would have the effect of encouraging investment—and thus inflating the stock market—for reasons other than corporate performance (I don't claim this as an original observation). But, as Brad observes, the administration doesn't expect anything to be passed by Congress, it's simply looking for a campaign issue.

That's political cynicism (or is that a redundancy?). But it's not anything particularly unusual, and it's not something that's limited to Republicans. Many Democrats, after all, were gung-ho for campaign finance reform as long as it was clear that McCain-Feingold had no chance of becoming law, only to grow hesitant when passage became politically possible.

No, what's especially cynical here is that the administration doesn't appear even to be pretending that it plans a genuine effort to change the law. In a way, it's reminiscent of the statement by an anonymous administration official earlier in the week that the White House counsel's conclusion that the president did not need congressional approval for an invasion of Iraq was really a bargaining ploy to cow congressional opposition. It's one thing to engage in strategic behavior. It's another thing entirely to admit that you're engaging in strategic behavior.

Down to the Wire

With the strike deadline imminent, representatives of the baseball owners and players have been locked in intense negotiations all night and into the morning. Reports of where the parties stand have been sketchy, but progress seems to have been made. But I suspect that the reports we've had make the parties sound closer than they actually are. The proposals for the luxury tax threshold for the first year of the deal seem to be fairly close; no doubt an agreement could be reached there pretty easily. The problem is in the final years of the proposed four-year agreement. The onwers' proposal calls for very small increases in the threshold over the term of the contract; the players' proposal, by contrast, calls for rapid increases in years two and three, and for no luxury tax whatsoever in year four. If the players insist on that last point, it strikes me as a dealbreaker—I can't imagine the owners agreeing to eliminate the luxury tax just as the parties head into another round of negotiation.

I remain convinced that there will be a World Series this year. And I hope, of course, that a deal can be reached without a strike. I'll be surprised, though, if there are major league games this evening.

Update: ESPN.com is now reporting (at 11:30 a.m. EDT) that a deal is expected within the hour.

Thursday, August 29

Got That Right

Congratulations to Eric McErlain, whose Off-Wing Opinion was recognized by NRO's The Corner yesterday as "one of the best weblogs around." Eric and I seem to agree on most everything except politics, but his political posts are both thoughtful and thought-provoking. And his sports commentary is nothing short of superb.

My Way or the Highway

The New York Times reports this morning that the Bush administration intends to seek some indication of support from Congress, but perhaps not a formal vote, before commencing military action against Iraq. According to one unnamed official, the White House counsel's opinion that the president did not require congressional approval before acting was meant, at least in part, as a negotiating tactic:

One official suggested that the statements indicating that new Congressional approval was not necessary were a way of preparing the ground for talks with lawmakers. The official added that the assertion might make Congress more pliant on the nature or wording of any statement backing military action.

It was "like the opening round in a negotiation," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

I find this baffling. First, it's rather unusual, shall we say, to announce your negotiating tactics in public in this manner—doing so has a tendency to undermine the very position that the tactics were intended to further. This statement by an anonymous administration official is unusual for the Bush administration, which has been a tight ship in comparison to its leaky predecessor. Second, if not a formal resolution, what? The article mentions the possibility of "a statement from Congressional leaders." It's been awhile since I worked on the Hill, but I seem to recall that that's not how Congress operates. Individual legislators may express their support (or opposition) to particular policies or actions of the administration, but on an important matter like this I have trouble believing that congressional leaders would offer statements purporting to express the assent of the legislature without a vote. (It's also worth noting that at least one Republican leader, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is publicly skeptical of the administrations plans for Iraq).

It's worth remembering that, before last September, the Bush administration was off to a rocky start. The administration's unilateralist approach to foreign affairs had generated consternation among our allies, and the administration's high-handed approach to relations with Congress had cost the Republicans their working majority in the Senate. September 11 changed things, of course, and for a time the president rallied support in Congress and overseas for a strong response to terror. Now, that goodwill has largely been squandered, and the administration is back to a position in which our allies oppose us and congressional leaders of the president's own party are questioning the administration's approach to governing. That's a failure of leadership. I have no doubt that, if we do attack Iraq, there will be at least an initial groundswell of support for the president to match the support for our armed forces. But that support is bound to evaporate once again if the administration continues its heavy-handed style of governing.

Wednesday, August 28

Striking

Keith Olbermann's article at Salon yesterday saves me the trouble of writing up my thoughts on what will happen in baseball's labor negotiations. Like Olbermann, I think there will be a strike, and, again like Olbermann, I think it will be short. What surprises and appalls me is how little I care about the whole stinking mess. That I could be so indifferent to a crisis within baseball would have been inconceivable a decade ago.

Busted!

At about 2:15 yesterday afternoon, while delivering introductory remarks to my Evidence class, I put up the address for Cooped Up, figuring that with the link from the legal education site JURIST, I would be found eventually anyway. Over the next five minutes, according to Site Meter, this site received ten visits from IP addresses within the law school. Coincidence? Given that the wired classrooms in our new law school building have network connections at each chair, I tend to think not.

A note to students: I love having visitors to this site—indeed, I obsess over their numbers, as my compulsive checking of my counter shows. But when we're in class, I'd prefer that you give your attention to the live me, rather than the cyber me (or the cyber anything else, for that matter).

Tuesday, August 27

War Powers

Noting the White House counsel's opinion that the president does not need to seek congressional approval for an attack on Iraq, Kevin Raybould wondered what Glenn Reynolds, Talk Left, and I thought about the matter. My initial thought was that Kevin was right, and the White House lawyers were wrong. I have since done a bit of reading—not as much as I would like before rendering a firm opinion, but as much as I had time to do—and it has reinforced my initial impression.

As I understand it, the White House counsel's conclusion that the president can commit forces to Iraq without further congressional action rests on three grounds: first, the power given to the president as commander-in-chief under the Constitution; second, the 1991 Persian Gulf Resolution that authorized Desert Storm; and third, the resolution of last September 14 that authorized the president to use military force against the terrorist organizations that conducted the September 11 attacks and those who aided those organizations. On my admittedly quick reading, none of these three arguments is terribly convincing.

First, the constitutional question: this isn't really the time or place for a full exploration of the constitutional issues, so I'll confine myself to the approach to constitutional interpretation that the president's favorite Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, favors: original meaning.

Article I, section 8 of the Constitution vests in Congress, among other powers, the power "[t]o declare war." Article II, section 2 states, in part: "The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States." The Constitution thus contemplates that both the legislative and the executive branches have a role to play in the undertaking of military action. If the nature of the distinction between Congress's role and the president's role is not immediately apparent, two additional data points help to clarify it. In the Philadelphia Convention, a draft granted Congress the power to "make" war; this was changed to the power to "declare" war in order to give the president room to respond to a sudden attack or other emergency situation. But Congress was to retain the principal power to initiate military action. Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist no. 69:

The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, gall which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.

Barring an emergency, then, Congress decides whether war is to commence; only after that decision has been made does the president step in to direct the campaign as commander in chief. The contrary interpretation by the White House counsel would seem to render the constitutional allocation of power in Article I, Section 8 at worst a nullity, at most a mere formality. And, given the lengthy buildup and escalation of rhetoric against Iraq, it would be disingenuous at best to claim, suddenly, that an emergency exists that renders congressional consideration impossible.

If the Constitution requires congressional approval, the only way for the White House to avoid Congress would be to maintain that Congress has already given its approval. One possible source of approval is the 1991 Persian Gulf Resolution that authorized Desert Storm. That resolution took note of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, but elimination of those weapons was not one of the stated purposes for which military action was authorized. Rather, the resolution focused narrowly on achieving implementation of specifically enumerated Security Council resolutions. I've taken a look at the referenced resolutions (which may be found here), and they are all aimed at reversing the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and restoring the Kuwaiti government. Those aims have been achieved. It is true that Iraq has not complied, and is not presently complying, with the terms of the cease-fire that ended Desert Storm; it requires a substantial stretch, however, to read the Persian Gulf Resolution as granting the president authority to mount a new invasion for a purpose unrelated to undoing Iraq's attempted annexation of Kuwait.

The final possibility for already-existing congressional authorization is the resolution that Congress passed last September 14 in the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. That resolution states, in pertinent part:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

If Iraq played a role in planning or assisting the September 11 attacks, or in harboring Al Qaeda, then this resolution would clearly give the president authority to respond militarily. Of course, if it were shown that Iraq played a role in the attacks, the president would have no difficulty marshaling the fury of the United States citizenry against Iraq. To date, however, evidence of Iraqi involvement (aside from the one alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer—a meeting that the CIA denies took place) has been lacking, although Bill Safire has attempted to make the case in his New York Times column. And in the absence of such evidence, the September 14 resolution doesn't grant the president the power to move against Iraq.

A straightforward consideration of the Constitution and prior resolutions of Congress, then, suggests that the administration needs to obtain congressional approval before initiating a war against Iraq. A clever lawyer, no doubt, could formulate counterarguments in support of presidential action without congressional approval. But on a matter as serious as war, it would be inappropriate to rely on clever lawyering rather than an act of Congress.

I tend to think that all of this is academic, though. If President Bush were to order an attack on Iraq without obtaining congressional approval, it would poison the already strained relations between the executive and legislative branches under this administration. It would also leave the president exposed politically: blame for any setbacks would be laid at his feet, and his alone. Given the hubris that this administration has demonstrated, it is certainly possible that the president will proceed on his own. But working with Congress (and making the case directly to the American people) seems not only the preferable legal course, but also the far better political course.

Busy

Classes have begun, and I'm having a slightly crazy day. I have a post in the works, but it will have to wait until I get out of my Evidence class later this afternoon. In the meantime, via Charles Johnson, here's a beautiful piece by Kieran Lyons on why baseball still matters, despite all of the big boys' efforts to screw it up.

Monday, August 26

Thoughts on the First Day

In a little less than two hours, I go to meet my new Civil Procedure class for the first time. Most of the students will be excited; virtually all will be nervous. And I will face them knowing that, within a couple of weeks, most of them will be growing frustrated with the way their classes are progressing. There will be a lot they don't understand, and they'll resent it, and resent me for not providing clear answers to their questions. In an attempt to give them some guidance from the very beginning, I'm considering reading to them a bit of advice from Garrett Moritz, a Harvard Law student:

Embrace Confusion. If there is one part of the transition from other disciplines to law school that is tough, it is the need to cope with confusion. When you are confused in law school -- which will happen often -- the first and very understandable impulse is to try to reason your way into a clear answer, to shut the door on confusion. If you do this, you are generally moving backwards. Law itself is very confusing and there are a lot of tensions. For all their posturing and presentation of the illusion of clear answers, law professors are going to split the doctrine right down the middle of major tensions on their exams. During the year, when you realize you are confused, don't despair—celebrate! Usually you have just identified one of those legal fault lines. Instead of convincing yourself of ways to make things straightforward, explore your confusion, dissect it, understand it, learn where it comes from. Finding ways of systematizing and exploiting legitimate confusion is the key to law school; it's why people are constantly shaking their heads over getting an A when they thought they flunked and getting a C when they thought they aced an exam. When every answer you give is clear and one-directional with no detours, you've missed the nuance; you've failed to embrace law school confusion.

In Civil Procedure, there are a few questions that have clear answers, and we generally get to those answers pretty quickly in class. But even in a course focused largely on a set of discrete rules, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there are a lot of ambiguities, gray areas, hair-splittings, and so on. This isn't simply a matter of my trying to hide the ball in class; it's inherent in the law itself. If this stuff were easy, if it were simply a matter of memorizing (or knowing where to find) some simple, clear rules, there'd be no need for lawyers at all.

Beginning law school is in some ways like beginning the study of a foreign language, and so there's bound to be confusion at the outset. But law students will be happier if they accept from the outset that frequently there are no clear answers, that what often matters most is the process of thinking through how competing and conflicting rules might apply in ambiguous factual settings, rather than the end result. It's that process, after all, that will occupy their attention once they've entered practice (although of course their clients will be more focused on end results). Even though Garrett focuses his advice on succeeding in law school, it's equally apt as a statement about the practice of law in general; it's something that new law students should hear.

You've Got Mail

In response to my note last week of Ann Coulter's latest outrage, a reader wrote:

Ann should be ignored. Period. She is no different than the worst kind of internet troll. (And having spent lots of time on Usenet, it's a topic I know something about.) She says outrageous things simply to get attention; from those she likes, and from those she hates. Remember, Jonah Goldberg--a conservative who, like, actually knows how to write and think--kicked her sorry ass outta NRO. That tells you all you need to know.

I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, the reader is absolutely right that Coulter is a publicity hound who calculates her statements to get maximum exposure for herself. That's clear in the way that she ensured the reporter's tape recorder was running before expressing her regret that Timothy McVeigh hadn't blown up the New York Times Building. On the other hand, Coulter is the author of the current bestselling nonfiction book in the country. She's all over the media, which generally treats her with undeserved gentleness. I maintain a hope, futile though it may be, that if enough people are exposed to the full extent of her poisonous views, the public and the media will turn on her.

I'm not a Coulter-obsessive. I have no interest in cataloguing and rebutting each of her numerous outrages. But when she talks about Manhattan not being part of America, or when she suggests that liberals deserve to be intimidated, she's talking about me and my family. And I have a hard time letting that roll off my back.

The same reader wrote that he reads my site in conjunction with Howard Bashman's: "Reading the two together make for a very nice set of contrasts and viewpoints; kind of like getting the blogging equivalent of Salon and NRO (two things I also read every day.)"

As someone who also reads both Salon and NRO, I think that may be the highest compliment anyone's paid Cooped Up. Of course, Howard tends to be more focused than I am; I'm more all over the place in terms of the subjects I write about. But in that respect, at least, I guess the comparison to Salon is apt.

Speaking of Howard, another reader's comments have prompted me to write a few further reflections on Howard's Slate article. Because Howard's down the shore this week, though, I'm going to hold off on posting it until he returns.

Sunday, August 25

More for Wine Drinkers

The Onion offers a thoughtful set of wine appreciation tips.

(Link via David Sorkin).

Wines of the Week
Benton Lane Oregon Pinot Noir 1994
Oak Knoll Vintage Select Oregon Pinot Noir 1989

When I began collecting wine a dozen years ago, California was still finding its way with Pinot Noir. There were a few high-quality exceptions, but too many winemakers were growing the grapes in inappropriately warm climates and vinifying them for power and extract rather than subtlety. Plus, while the California Pinots generally weren't as pricey as their Burgundian counterparts, they weren't cheap, either. So if you wanted good, reasonably priced Pinot Noir in this country, Oregon was the place to look. It still is, in many ways, although things have improved significantly in California. The cooler and less consistent climate in Oregon means that there can be a fair bit of variation from vintage to vintage, but in good years Oregon provides the best Pinot bang for the buck.

Benton Lane originally caught my eye with its attractive postage-stamp label, but there's a lot more to the wine than mere packaging. The 1994 vintage was strong in Oregon, and Benton Lane produced an excellent wine, with appealing strawberry and raspberry aromas marked by a hint of cloves and fine raspberry, black cherry, plum, cola, and clove flavors. There's some acidic bite, but it's in check. Its moderate intensity is the result of a relatively restrained winemaking hand—there was no effort to overextract or to bombard the fruit with heavy new oak. If the wine lacks the heights of Burgundian complexity, that's okay—it lacks the heights of Burgundian prices as well. This bottle cost $15 a couple of years ago; current vintages are in the $18-20 range.

Oak Knoll is one of the pioneers of the Oregon wine industry; its wines helped to establish Oregon's reputation as a fine producer of Pinot Noir. The 1989 Vintage Select is a bit past peak, but it's still very nice. The aromas are fairly subdued, with soft watermelon and strawberry notes. The flavors are soft, dominated by not-quite-ripe strawberries, with a hint of plum. There is some acidity on the finish, as well as tannin. I have no doubt that it was better five years ago; now it feels comfortable, well broken in, but a bit tired.

Why Military Service Is Relevant (But Not Conclusive) When Contemplating War

Glenn Reynolds points to a note over at The Corner in which Andrew Stuttaford asks:

Is Robert A. Heinlein winning some strange new respect? One of the more peculiar notions to emerge in the last few weeks has been the suggestion by the Left that only those who are - or who have been - in the military have the moral authority to commit the nation to war.

It's a zany, profoundly undemocratic argument and it also sounds like something out of Heinlein's Starship Troopers (a book liberals often criticize as 'fascist' ) a novel in which, if I recall correctly, the only people entitled to full citizenship were those who had completed a period of military service.

Now, it may be that some on the left have argued that only those with military service have the moral authority to initiate the use of military force. But I haven't seen such arguments, and that's not the argument that I've made myself (although, to be fair, I have no reason to think that Andrew Stuttaford has read, or even has heard of, this site).

A military background, in my thinking, does not in and of itself convey moral authority; it certainly doesn't guarantee that an opinion about the propriety of commencing military action will be correct. It does, however, grant a perspective about the nature of warfare that those without such experience necessarily lack. What's disturbing about the arguments of Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Tom DeLay, Bill Kristol, and their ilk isn't per se that they advocate war against Iraq; it's the raw enthusiasm they exhibit for the concept—even if it means alienating our allies—and the naked disdain they demonstrate for those with military backgrounds who urge caution (a group that now includes former Secretary of State James Baker and, as Jim Henley notes today, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, the president's special envoy to the middle east). When those without military experience, who insist that war with Iraq would be easy and could effectively be carried out by America acting alone, are opposed by those with military experience, who argue that war with Iraq would be costly and potentially difficult and would damage our interests elsewhere, you might think that the former group would have the decency to pause for consideration, on the ground that the latter group might possibly know something about warfare that they do not. Instead, we've seen little more than character assassination. And that, I think, gives rise to legitimate reason to question the former group's judgment.

If anyone has made the argument that only those with military experience have the moral authority to send the nation's armed forces into battle, it's Republicans, who repeatedly threw President Clinton's lack of military service back in his face whenever he contemplated committing military forces overseas. Now that it's Republicans who are advocating military action, they seem to have forgotten their former objections.

Update: At Quasipundit, Will Vehrs points to Bill Keller's column in yesterday's New York Times (and shame on me for not reading the Times yesterday), in which Keller writes: "But the Iraq issue has clearly aroused the traditional, honorable conservatism of fighting men, who know what war costs. Theirs is sobering counsel, but it is not necessarily the case that someone who fought bravely should have firmer standing on the question of whether a war is justified." Exactly. The military veterans who question a unilateral attack on Iraq may ultimately be proven wrong on the merits. But their "sobering counsel" deserves careful consideration.