Pontificator: News and Commentary

Wednesday, November 20, 2002 :::
Andrew Sullivan slams Fox News and O'Reilly!

Here's the money quote:

"Fox News is obviously biased toward the right. It's simply loopy to pretend otherwise. Ailes' attempt to deny the bleeding obvious is just pathetic. It's like listening to O'Reilly pretend he's in a no-spin zone. It's embarrassing, and undermines their credibility on everything else."

Of course, this slam is part of his larger obsession -- discrediting the New York Times. Hmmm, could Sullivan's obsession possibly be fueled by the fact that the Times fired him?

::: posted by Pontificator at 8:14 PM

Monday, November 18, 2002 :::
There's been a lot of hand-wringing over Democratic prospects for President in 2004, mostly by people concerned that Democrats have lost credibility in the national security area. The pessimism is mostly unwarranted. It is notoriously difficult to predict a Presidential election two years out. All one has to do is remember George H.W. Bush in 1990 and Bill Clinton in 1994 to realize how much can change in two years.

However, there is some truth to notion that, at the present time, Democrats have lost credibility on national security. While much of this loss is unfair, and relates to the "feel-goodism" rampant in the media for months and months and months after September 11, a lot of it also has to do with the fact that, for the mid-term elections, the Democrats basically had no national security agenda whatsoever, and usually tried to change the subject any time the topic came up. Thus, there has been a recent push for candidates who are seen as having National Security expertise, despite having no chance of actually being elected President. Two cases in point: Gary Hart and Wesley Clark.

Well let me propose a candidate with superb national security credentials, who was talking about anti-terrorism long before it was "cool," and who would have a better than decent shot of actually getting elected: Sam Nunn!

Here is an example of Sam Nunn discussing the terrorist threat prior to 9/11. There are many such examples of Nunn's prescience, and Nunn, now a partner a big-time law firm, simply has unparalleled national security credentials among potential democratic candidates. He could credibly make the case that Bush ignored the terrorism threat before 9/11, and has done a worse than mediocre job since then. Also, he could make Georgia, North Carolina, and perhaps even South Carolina, competitive battle-grounds.

Most important, he could actually WIN!! Remember that winning-thing? Especially those of you contemplating throwing your support behind another Ralph Nader debacle.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:30 AM

Sunday, November 17, 2002 :::
Alas, a blog, points to the stunning courage of Iran's Hashem Aghajari. Witness here how democratic activism can function, even in an oppressive theocracy.

If that link doesn't work for you, here is the article from Monday's Tehran Times:

"Karrubi Thanks Leader for Ordering Revision of Aghajari's Case

TEHRAN -- Majlis Speaker Mahdi Karrubi here Sunday thanked the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei for ordering the Judiciary to revise the death sentence on academic Hashem Aghajari.

Karrubi, speaking before Sunday's Majlis open session, voiced his appreciation to the Leader for responding to an appeal by university lecturers in revising Aghajari's sentence more carefully.

"I would like to particularly thank the Leader for taking into account the importance of 'blood and human life' in Islam," he said.

Aghajari, 45, was sentenced on November 6 to death by a court of first order in the western city of Hamedan for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

The court further handed him an eight-year imprisonment in desert cities as well as 74 flogs and banned him from teaching for 10 years.

The sentence is related to his speech in August this year after he called for religious restructuring and criticized the Islamic principle of emulating (***taqlid***) religious leaders in Shia-dominated Iran.

Karrubi also urged Aghajari to "immediately" appeal his sentence to end the issue.

He further hoped the Judiciary would reexamine Aghajari's case at a court that would "change both the death verdict, and his other sentences".

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Majlis speaker called on the Western world that adopted certain stances against Aghajari's issue, and urged them to react toward the atrocities by the Zionist regime in the occupied Palestine. "I would like to remind the West that we all took stances against the death verdict, although some used different literature," Karrubi said. "But I want the world to consider the massacre of people in Palestine, and elsewhere. They are also human beings."

Aghajari's death sentence has been denounced as "too harsh" by most domestic political power camps as several thousand students have held peaceful protest rallies over recent days.

President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday said the sentence was "improper"."

::: posted by Pontificator at 9:16 PM


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