Today's Papers

Windows 86?

The New York Times leads with its leaked version of what the Department of Justice wants the judge to do with Microsoft: break it up into two companies, one that runs Windows and one to run everything else, including Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and all of Microsoft’s other Internet ventures. USA Today runs a small-printer across the top about yesterday’s split-up-rumor-driven dive in Microsoft’s stock price and the resultant drag on other tech stocks, but leads with its poll (taken in cooperation with CNN and Gallup) showing that 60 percent of respondents approve of the DOJ’s Elián raid and 68 percent say Congress should not hold hearings on the incident. The paper claims the poll shows that Americans are split on the use of force however: Forty-six percent said it was the right amount of force, while 45 percent say it was too much. The Washington Post leads with a local story sure however to become another ratchet point in the national conversation on guns: the shooting of six kids–one now near death–by an unknown assailant at the National Zoo. The Los Angeles Times front is heavily local, leading with more allegations of financial shenanigans by California’s insurance commissioner, and such items as the surrender of the first cops arrested in the city’s police corruption scandal, the arrival of the editor and publisher of the LAT (who, the paper informs, “vow to protect editorial integrity”), and the settlement of L.A.’s three-week janitor strike. But it does find room at the top of the page to report “GATES ON BRINK OF LOSING HIS ‘RICHEST’ TITLE”–to Oracle’s Larry Ellison.

The NYT says the proposed Microsoft split would create two monopolies in place of one, but that the idea is that their incentives would differ in ways that would nonetheless encourage competition–the example a second Times piece gives is that a separate Office company might well take an interest in developing an Office version for Linux. The story also says that the government intends to ask that some interim behavioral remedies be imposed for the time it takes to impose the foregoing structural one, to include: publishing a standardized Windows price list, being forbidden from striking exclusive contracts with other companies, making available its code so that other companies can write Windows programs, and being required to offer a application-free version of any software it offers with embedded applications like browsers and media player. The story offers two main reasons for the turn towards breakup: the realization that the alternative conduct remedies would involve a very complicated degree of ongoing government regulation, and a WP interview last week of an unrepentant Steven Ballmer was perceived by some of the state attorneys general as “a real slap in the face.”

The papers are brimming with Elián. The WP front reports that the DOJ argued yesterday in federal court that there is no evidence Elián helped prepare or understood the application for asylum that bears his signature and therefore that the issue reduces to which adults should have more pull in the eyes of the law, the boy’s great-uncle or his father. A Post inside effort reports that against the advice of some DOJ officials, Janet Reno personally decided not to prevent photographers from taking pictures of Elián’s extraction at gunpoint, in order to avoid allegations of a government coverup of aspects of the raid. The story says that the DOJ anticipated that Alan Diaz, who had been taking pictures of Elián for months, might be in the González house at the time of the raid. Another explanatory factor cited by the paper: Reno is the child of two journalists. And, of course, Waco. On the NYT op-ed page, Garry Wills agrees with the doctrine of publicizing force.

The NYT reports inside that the raid has become grist in the Rudy vs. Hillary race. She came out with a statement condemning his description of the federal marshals as “storm troopers.” He held a press conference where he criticized “Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton, and Janet Reno.” And he said that in New York City, “we don’t use machine guns, we don’t use people dressed up in war armament.” In response to that, reports the Times, the office of a leading city Democrat provided the press with a 1995 New York Daily News article describing the NYPD’s 50,000-pound armored personnel carrier used to evict squatters from buildings. Another city Democrat pointed out that during a World AIDS day vigil at city hall, there were police sharpshooters on the roof. The LAT lead editorial, continuing the paper’s support of the return of the boy to his father’s custody, calls for Janet Reno to release the record of negotiations conducted with the Miami relatives prior to the extraction. The paper’s op-ed page features Alan Dershowitz arguing that the raiders did not have proper legal authority because the warrant they went in with was “not based on any court order issued after a full adversarial hearing.” Dershowitz’s Harvard Law colleague Laurence Tribe argues that although a court ruled Elián could not be removed from the country, and although another court ruled the INS should exercise custody and control of him for the time being, none of this is a warrant to enter a house and seize the child, any more than being awarded custody of a child gives a parent the right to break and enter. The Wall Street Journal runs an op-ed by Grover Joseph Rees, a former INS general counsel, that includes the same reasoning.

Meanwhile over on the WP op-ed page, Charles Krauthammer chides the NYT for fronting the Elián-in-Dad’s-lap picture and not the gun-near-Elián’s-head picture. He thinks the latter is entirely meretricious, saying, “I’m a psychiatrist. Give me a 6-year-old and a few hours alone, and I’ll have him smiling for the cameras too, with or without pharmacology.” (Mental note: Cancel stuttering child’s Krauthammer appointment.) On the same page, only physically, Slate’s Michael Kinsley elaborates a point first raised by the paper’s Richard Cohen: that the conservatives, in their zeal to support Elián’s case, are literally using the arguments of Hillary Clinton’s law review articles about children’s rights that they once troubled to excoriate in the Republican Party platform. And while we’re looking for flip-flops, isn’t the idea that once you decide to achieve a goal being unlawfully resisted, you should for safety’s sake do so with maximum force just that GOP Station of the Cross, the Powell Doctrine?