Pontificator: News and Commentary

Friday, November 15, 2002 :::
There's been much talk in blogger-land (also known, somewhat pretentiously, as the blogosphere) about a new political breed -- so-called neo-libertarians. These individuals, many of whom have blogs, are fiercely moralistic when it comes to foreign policy, and are strongly in favor of imposing America's military might outside our borders in order to make things "better," and, also, not incidentally, to protect America's security. Somewhat paradoxically, however, when it comes to imposing America's might at home, they'll have none of it -- no drug laws, no privacy-invading government agents, no burdensome environmental or economic regulations, and absolutely, positively no gun control laws. Oh yeah, and they tend to be partisan Republicans, although they'll deny it if you ask. Glenn Reynolds is the epitome of this model, and a mighty fine example at that. Andrew Sullivan is the most famous, and is also one of the most annoying of this type.

Well, in the way I've characterized them, you can see I believe these "neo-libertarians" are somewhat inconsistent in their world-view -- "big government for thee (in the form of bombs and tanks, etc.), but not for me." Of course, the post-9/11 self-preservation instinct is most definitely, and quite properly, at the root of this intellectual dissonance.

Let me propose a different post-9/11 blogworld political philosophy, which I see bubbling up in the smaller world of left-leaning blogs. With respect to foreign policy -- cold-eyed realism, not afraid to define the American interest and use military force to protect that interest. But also not willing to take action to impose a moral view on another region of the world when there is little evidence of a threat to the American interest and where there is considerable evidence that American action will invite blowback counter to American interests. This philosophy is in favor of aggressively taking the fight to al-Qaeda (assasinate Osama!), propping up the military dictatorship in Pakistan (in the short-term, at least), and surrounding Saddam Hussein and waiting for him to die, but NOT invading Iraq and inviting anti-American chaos (although a silent assasin who leaves no fingerprints is not off the table when it comes to solutions to the Iraq problem).

Domestically, a strong bias against social legislation, with a respectful understanding that certain groups are victimized by society and require remedial measures to avoid further victimization. In other words, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, keep God out of government, and no snooping into people's private lives (protect the 4th Amendment!), but yes to legislation to prevent workplace discrimination, to improve environmental protection, to install limited affirmative action (but not so much that it invites blowback), and no to overly-aggressive law enforcement efforts that, whether intentional or not, target vulnerable groups. Drug laws need to be scaled back because of their corrosive effect on the underclass, throwing them willy-nilly into prison and turning the underclass into a criminal class. No big problem with the death penalty as long as the right to counsel is rigorously preserved, and it is administered fairly and in a manner that minimizes the risk of convicting the innocent (that's my one "duh" statement of the day). Also in favor of using CIA intelligence in domestic law enforcement efforts in order to stop terrorism, and in favor surveillance efforts to prevent terrorism as long as its understood that the fruit of such efforts, when those efforts violate the 4th Amendment, cannot be used in prosecutions, and military tribunals are not, not, not to be used against terrorists apprehended at home. Also, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 should be put on steroids, and Bush's tax cuts are total insanity.

Oh yeah, and proudly partisan in favor of the Democrats, except when they act like total numbnuts.

I have no name yet for this philosophy. I'm working on "compassionate realism," but am open to suggestions.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:27 AM

Thursday, November 14, 2002 :::
The national news columnists, right-wing spin doctors all, are falling all over themselves to castigate the House Democrats for electing Nancy Pelosi, a so-called "San Francisco Democrat," as the minority leader.

But nary a word about the election of Beezelbub, the unholy one, as majority leader.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:37 PM

Why is the Iraqi letter so poorly written? Iraq has no shortage of fine English speakers -- Tariq Aziz, for instance. Presumably he could have edited the letter to make it read like English, not the childish chicken scratch submitted to the UN. To me, it indicates that the Iraqis are panicking, and are not thinking things through. The Iraqi policy may be changing day-to-day. One day they'll cooperate, the next day, they'll shoot the weapons inspectors!

::: posted by Pontificator at 2:21 PM

Monday, November 11, 2002 :::
Sam Nunn for President!

One person I haven't heard mentioned as a possible presidential candidate is Sam Nunn. He has unimpeachable national security credentials, he's a southerner who won't alienate moderates, and he was way, way, way ahead of the curve on anti-terrorism. Moreover, he can now credibly run as a political outsider.

He could be a contenduh. . .

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:29 PM

The key to beating Bush is to make him lose! (domestically, that is, nobody wants to lose to Iraq or Al-Qaeda). The Democrats have to stop him on Judges, stop him on his tax cut, stop him on drilling in Alaska, stop him on defunding the SEC. Some in the press will call Democrats obstructionists, but many more will start to paint Bush as an ineffective leader. "He can't get anything done. ., " they'll say, "He's failed to reach across party lines. . ." they'll say, etc., etc. That's part of the strategy Republicans employed from 1992-94 -- they turned Clinton into a loser who couldn't pass health care reform. The democrats have to learn that everybody loves a winner, and makes fun of a loser, especially in politics. If the Democrats stay strong, and stop Bush from getting anything done, then Bush will be viewed as ineffectual, and the press will wipe off some that shine they've been polishing on him the past fourteen months.

::: posted by Pontificator at 8:53 PM

Each day the Republicans stay out of power is a small victory.

::: posted by Pontificator at 8:24 PM

Will the Democrats use the fillibuster?

They certainly can -- assuming Mary Landrieu wins, they'll have 49 Senate votes, minus Zell Miller equals 48 potential votes for a fillibuster.

In light of the fact that the Democrats certainly have the ability to use the fillibuster, what is important is that they have the willingness to do so. Democrats must view the fillibuster as a legitimate weapon, and must not be afraid of being painted as obstructionist.

The last time a party had the House, the Senate and the Presidency was 1992-1994, when the Democrats had all three. The Republicans then used the fillibuster early and often, and ultimately used it to kill National Health Care. And, of course, they didn't do too badly in 1994.

Note to Daschle -- Fillibuster early, often, and, most importantly, proudly.

::: posted by Pontificator at 2:47 PM

Oh yeah -- "bloggerel," is a variant of "doggerel."

It is a useless, poorly thought out blog entry.

::: posted by Pontificator at 9:25 AM

Oxblog's point that the Republicans won the election because of the Wellstone funeral is pure bloggerel. More specifically, it's wishful thinking by the hard-core Republicans who very much want the Wellstone funeral to have hurt the Democrats, because it just made them so gosh-darn mad!

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:00 AM


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