Pontificator: News and Commentary

Saturday, November 09, 2002 :::
Our soon-to-come war with Iraq is really the manifestation of a very common problem:

"When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail"

We have an enemy -- terrorism -- and a very large hammer, the US Military. Unfortunately, the military is only of limited utility in fighting terrorism. The lesson from Afghanistan is not that we need a bigger military to fight terrorism, but that the military alone won't do it, we need intelligence, cooperation from allies, and a program to win the hearts and minds of the population that incubates our enemies.

However, rather than accept this message, we seem determined to ignore it. So we'll go on banging our hammer, because that's all we've got, even if it does nothing to help our war on terrorism, and may even hurt it.

Thus -- war with Iraq.

::: posted by Pontificator at 3:01 PM

Debka says the war in Iraq has already started. Here are their headlines:

"DEBKAfile’s military sources report:

American, British, Iranian special forces are fighting in southeast Iraq

They are battling Iraqi Republican Guards and Saddam Martyrs units for control of southern reaches of Tigris, Euphrates Rivers

US delivers advanced river-crossing, marsh-spanning equipment, hydrofoils, speedboats to battle arena"

Page down below the headlines to get Debka's full report.

::: posted by Pontificator at 1:07 PM

Ronald Noble, the Chief of Interpol, is stating that:

"Osama bin Laden is still alive"

"al-Qaida is planning a large-scale terrorist attack"

"An attack would this time not only target the United States, but several countries at once"

"Interpol has studied the financial standing of bin Laden and concluded that his fortune remains intact"

Being a former student of Mr. Noble, I can state categorically that he wouldn't make these comments unless he had a VERY strong factual basis for believing they were true.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:48 PM

Thursday, November 07, 2002 :::
I'll say it:

The Democrats should filibuster any right wing idealogue appointed to a Circuit Court of Appeals, even if they end up filibustering 10 or 20 nominees. Yes, the partisan Republicans and talk radio wan't like it, but it's the right thing to do.

There will probably be blowback, in that the Republicans will do the same to Democratic nominees when a Democratic president takes office. But you know what, I bet the Republicans would do that anyway, goaded on by talk radio and the foaming at the mouth set on the right flank.

Time to test out Bush's pre-emption doctrine.

Who knows, the Democrats might even do better politically by showing they've got a pair!

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:23 PM

While Bush is celebrating the American elections, his war-planners are most likely bemoaning the Turkish elections, where a political party whom some have characterized as "Islamist" won a parliamentary majority. The leader of the winning party has apparently refused to commit to supporting a war on Iraq, and has made some anti-Israel noises as well.

A fly in the ointment for Bush's plans, and a potential problem for the region as well.

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:13 PM

A legitimate question: by invading Iraq, even if it goes smashingly and we install Jeffersonian democracy in a space of 60 days, aren't we just created an Al Qaeda recruiting video? We'll have AK-74-toting American soldiers tramping up and down the Baghdad streets, occupying the place physically, and probably inflicting civilian casualties. Couldn't that drive the marginalized madras-educated middle-easterner-Muslims into the arms of Al Qaeda?

And that's a best case scenario. What if, God forbid, it goes badly? That's possible, right? Then we have American and Muslim casualties, a heavy-handed American occupying force, a world-wide negative reaction, and an honest-to-goodness quagmire. We'll end up turning terrorists into Al-Jazeera freedom fighters.

And we'll add new meaning to the word blowback.

But everyone else says, well what would you do instead? How about keep the pressure on Saddam, enforce the no-fly zones, etc., and wait for Saddam to die. If he does something aggressive, then take him out. We'll have moral authority on our side, and that will decrease the justification among the marginalized muslims to join extremist terrorist groups.

If Saddam does finally get a nuke, he's not going to give it to Al Qaeda. That would be like Microsoft giving Windows to Apple Computer -- you just don't give away your best asset to a competitor.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:53 PM

Wednesday, November 06, 2002 :::
McAuliffe and Gephardt have got to go, but Daschle should stay. He did a superb job as minority leader before the Jeffords switch, and it looks like his home-state popularity was enough to pull Johnson over the line (fingers-crossed!). It would be a shame to throw out this talented and popular legislator because of post-election pique. I feel confident that Daschle can win back a majority in '04.

McAuliffe and Gephardt, however, have got to go.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:10 PM

It's time to mourn the short happy life of Daschle's reign as majority leader in the Senate. By far his most significant accomplishment was passing Sarbanes-Oxley -- a groundbreaking piece of securities reform legislation which will have major positive effect on the economy, will protect investors, and will provide some shelter for whistleblowers. None of this would have been possible had Trent Lott been in control. Paul Sarbanes drove the agenda on that one, for the Country's benefit.

::: posted by Pontificator at 9:29 AM

The big winner tonight is Al Gore. The big loser is Joe Leiberman. This race is a rejection of triangulation, poll-watching, and "fuzzing" the issues. Gore's strategy of of taking strong, liberal positions and sticking by them looks better and better in light of tonight's debacle.

Actually, the biggest loser tonight was Dick Morris, Mr. triangulation himself. You can bet no Democrat will be hiring him as a consultant in '04.

Oh yeah, the tag line for tonight:

Gore in '04!!!

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:47 AM

Time for Pitt, McAullife, and Gephart to form a support group.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:22 AM

Tuesday, November 05, 2002 :::
I haven't felt this ill since 1994. Looks like Republicans are getting what they need to break the judicial logjam. Expect a bunch of right wing idealogues to be put on the bench.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:54 PM

The early returns are in, and it looks like the big loser tonight is -- Terry McAullife. I was never a big fan of putting a big time fund-raiser in that position -- big mistake. How about Erskine Bowles as a replacement? Did a good job as Chief of Staff, and, even though he lost, got good marks for his campaign in North Caroline. Seems competent, and good on TV.

Why are the Republicans winning? Money. Outraised and outspent the Democrats, again, as always. That's what Republicans get in return for pushing for a regressive tax code.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:39 PM

Pitt Quit.

::: posted by Pontificator at 9:06 PM

Drudge has taken down his headline showing Bush over McBride. Could this be McBride's night? The news is saying there is heavy voter turnout in South Florida.

::: posted by Pontificator at 5:19 PM

Update: Talking Points Memo (www.talkingpointsmemo.com) has much more pro-D numbers than Drudge -- looks like a good night for the Dems. And I was right, Shaheen is kicking tail in NH.

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:48 PM

Drudge is posting Republican-friendly exit poll results. (No need to link, everyone knows how to find Drudge). Since Drudge's sources have, in the past, been almost exclusively Republican, we can bet that his numbers are more pro-Republican than reality. For instance, there are no numbers for New Hampshire. Ergo, we can probably assume Shaheen is kicking tail in New Hampshire.

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:45 PM

The Harvey Pitt scandal is rapidly spinning out of control. I think it's time to start taking bids on when he'll resign. I predict he's slain before the Thanksgiving Turkey.

But don't cry for Harvey -- I'm sure there's a nice corner office waiting for him at Fried Frank.

::: posted by Pontificator at 1:54 AM

Monday, November 04, 2002 :::
Although journalists are straining to be evenhanded, it seems clear that Mondale far exceeded people's expectations in today's debate, knocking Coleman flat on his back.

Check out the Star Tribune article.

::: posted by Pontificator at 5:26 PM

Sunday, November 03, 2002 :::
From the department of shooting fish in a barrel.

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:58 PM

Carl Cameron just stated on Fox News that the GOP has 70 election lawyers in Missouri "ready to do battle." Seventy (70) lawyers!! That's bigger than most law firms, and that's only Missouri!!!

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:07 PM

A potential disaster is brewing in Texas. We'll have to keep an eye on this one -- let's hope this is not the first of many litigation debacles this election cycle.

::: posted by Pontificator at 3:49 PM

Why is George W. so consitutionally incapable of firing anybody? The latest conundrum is Harvey Pitt. If Clinton were President, Pitt would be gone before you could say "Jocelyn Elders." Even Bush the elder wasn't this bad -- remember "Air Sununu?" Looks like the only way to get fired by Bush is to leak something.

In all likelihood, Bush (or perhaps, we should say, Karl) doesn't want to fire Pitt, despite his political unpopularity and public relations incompetence, for the same reason he made the near suicidal decision to campaign in California, a State totally out of reach, the weekend before the 2000 election. The Bush campaign truly believed that if they campaigned in California they would look like a "winner," and the press, who Karl must think are a bunch of lemmings, would see that "winner" image and cover him accordingly. It appears Bush (I mean Karl) is still playing from the same deck. He's concerned that firing Pitt would be an admission of defeat, and a sure sign of loserdom, which would cause the press to pull out their long knives and declare the Bush presidency on the brink of disaster.

And thus, we are stuck with Harvey Pitt as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:52 AM


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