Pontificator: News and Commentary

Saturday, September 20, 2003 :::
Cheney Dissed

This article by veteran reporter John Walcott of Knight Ridder Newspapers suggests that a number of "administration foreign and domestic policy officials" as well as other "senior officials," are ready to dispense with Cheney and Rumsfeld's hard-line approach on Iraq and the Middle East. This is quite simply the most serious criticism of the Bush hard-liner axis that I have seen come from within the White House. The key paragraphs are up front:

Faced with rising costs, sinking polls, unsympathetic allies, an increasingly skeptical Congress and potential splits in his political party, President Bush has begun to question the hard-line Iraq policies long championed by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Foreign-policy concerns and domestic politics are prompting the administration to rethink its approach to Iraq, said a number of administration foreign and domestic-policy officials, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity because, as one of them put it, "the president hates seeing internal debates in the paper."

I personally think this is Karl Rove's handiwork. It's election time, and Rove's ready to triangulate the Democrats on foreign policy. In Rove's book, that means distancing Bush from the ever more unpopular and expensive policies of Cheney and Rumsfeld. If Rove succeeds, count it as good news for the Country and its interests in the middle east, but bad news for the Democrats in the upcoming election.

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:09 PM

How to Win in 2004 -- Attack Bush

I am in 100% agreement with Rick Perlstein's article in this week's Village Voice:

It is an unlovely fact, but a fact nonetheless. The surest way to win a presidential election is to successfully scare the bejesus out of the voters about what will happen if the opponent becomes, or remains, president of the United States. Not a pleasant thing for Democrats, who like to be nice, to have to ponder. Fortunately for the squeamish, they will simply be telling the truth. George W. Bush is scary. Going negative against him, early, even right out of the box, might be not just a winning strategy. It will also be the patriotic thing to do. Just ask Rand Beers.

I fantasize about the Democratic nominee kicking off his campaign with a TV spot like this:

Picture a man standing in an office, handsome, serious. It is Rand Beers, a former top Bush administration counterterrorism expert, looking into the camera and telling America the exact same words he told The Washington Post this past June when he resigned from his job with the National Security Council and joined the John Kerry presidential campaign: "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure." (The words appear along the bottom of the screen, for emphasis: They're making us less secure, not more secure.)

Perhaps at this point a shot might home in on a document—the oath of office he keeps framed upon his wall. Then he might say something like: I served under presidents Ronald Reagan, Clinton, and George H.W. Bush. But what I saw under this president made me do something I never thought I would do: quit the government service.

Cue close-up: steely eyes.

Stirring music.

I decided this past June that the best way to keep my pledge to help secure my nation was to work full-time for the defeat of this president.

Is that too wordy? I don't know. I've never written a television commercial before. I suspect that this one might work, though, even if General Wesley Clark isn't the Democratic nominee.

Read the whole thing. Bush's reputation on the war on terror is getting justly battered. The Bush glorification that occured just after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan is evaporating. Now is the time for the Democrats to twist the knife that has been stuck in the Republican national security reputation. We simply can't afford to let Bush weather the storm.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:37 PM

Court Martial Time

Probably just writing an article that gets picked up in the Guardian is enough to get you kicked out of the armed forces in the Bush administration. Of course, the fact that he essentially calls Operation Iraqi Freedom a fraud seals the deal:

We are facing death in Iraq for no reason

A serving US soldier calls for the end of an occupation based on lies

Tim Predmore
Friday September 19, 2003

For the past six months, I have been participating in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom.


So what is our purpose here? Was this invasion because of weapons of mass destruction, as we have so often heard? If so, where are they? Did we invade to dispose of a leader and his regime because they were closely associated with Osama bin Laden? If so, where is the proof?

Or is it that our incursion is about our own economic advantage? Iraq's oil can be refined at the lowest cost of any in the world. This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people or to rid the world of a demonic dictator relentless in his pursuit of conquest and domination, but a crusade to control another nation's natural resource. Oil - at least to me - seems to be the reason for our presence.


My time here is almost done, as well as that of many others with whom I have served. We have all faced death in Iraq without reason and without justification. How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them, rather than their leader's interest?

· Tim Predmore is a US soldier on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division, based near Mosul in northern Iraq. A version of this article appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, Illinois

Now THAT is one courageous soldier!

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:20 AM

Friday, September 19, 2003 :::

That's my prediction for the Ninth Circuit en banc vote on the recall, with 8 affirming the 9th Circuit panel's decision and three voting to reverse. How do I arrive at that decision? Simple. My presumption is that the Judges appointed by Democrats will vote to affirm and the judges appointed by Republicans will vote to reverse. (A reasonable assumption, in light of Bush v. Gore). The order setting the argument for Monday at 1:00 p.m. lists the judges on the en banc panel, and, after reviewing their backgrounds at this website here, I was able to calculate the 8-3 margin. Here are the details:

Chief Judge Schroeder -- Appointed by President Carter
Judge Kozinski -- Appointed by President Reagan
Judge O'Scannlain -- Appointed by President Reagan
Judge Kleinfeld -- Appointed by President Bush I
Judge Tashima -- Appointed by President Clinton
Judge SIlverman -- Appointed by President Clinton
Judge Graber -- Appointed by President Clinton
Judge McKeown -- Appointed by President Clinton
Judge Gould -- Appointed by President Clinton
Judge Tallman -- Appointed by President Clinton
Judge Rawlinson -- Appointed by President Clinton

Actually, my real prediction is a reversal 9th Circuit Panel by a vote of 6-5 or 7-4. Although Republican Judges will toe the party line on a fairly consistent basis, the Democrats, with their intellectual tradition of dissent and independence, are much more likely to vote against the wishes of the politicians of their party (See, e.g., Jones v. Clinton, where all four so-called "liberal" Supreme Court Justices voted to subject President Clinton to the frivolous Paula Jones lawsuit while he was still in office).

::: posted by Pontificator at 6:40 PM

The Big Dog

Why do I have a feeling we'll never see Bush doing this in Iraq:

Thousands of cheering ethnic Albanians greeted Bill Clinton in Kosovo on Friday as he made his second visit to the province since assembling a coalition that halted a brutal crackdown by Serb forces.

Guarded by an armored personnel carrier and NATO peacekeepers, the former president's motorcade streamed past flag-waving crowds as he traveled from the airport to the capital of the ethnically divided province. He then strode into the city's university to receive an honorary degree.

The only place Bush is going to get that kind of treatment is at Bob Jones University.

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:39 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2003 :::
The Gloves Come Off

Ted Kennedy with the uppercut:

The case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud "made up in Texas" to give Republicans a political boost, Sen. Edward Kennedy said Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Kennedy also said the Bush administration has failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion the war is costing each month. He said he believes much of the unaccounted-for money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops.


"There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud," Kennedy said.

That's EXACTLY the right tack to take. None of this namby-pamby Joe Leiberman crap about how we like what Bush is doing in principle but we just thought he should have tried a teensy weensy bit harder to work with our allies. This whole Iraq war has been a public policy disaster that the American people were defrauded into supporting by BUSHCHENEY's exploitation of FEAR. It's about time someone started saying what is abundantly clear to any dispassionate observer. Iraq is a money pit, a blood and guts pit, an Al Qaeda Recruitment Video, a Republican re-election strategy, and it was created by a web of lies and deceit which a bunch of namby-pamby Democrats were too chickenshit at the time to do anything about. Thanks God the Democrats are finally, finally, acting SANE.

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:59 PM

Somebody Tell the Media that Hillary is NOT Running for President in 2004

Even Bob Novak knows this to be true:

Hillary and Bill Clinton, responding to growing speculation, advised a longtime Iowa supporter this week that under no conditions would the senator run for president in 2004.

The supporter, who has committed to Sen. John Kerry for 2004, personally asked the former president about renewed talk that his wife would enter the race. Bill Clinton said that would not happen. That was confirmed in a separate chat with Hillary Clinton.

So quit speculating to the contrary! We know the Republicans are only fanning these flames to help their fund-raising efforts. So how about the media quit reporting "facts" they know just aren't true?

::: posted by Pontificator at 3:51 PM

Texas Power-Grabbers Fighting Each Other

Looks like before the Texas Republicans can complete their unprecendented mid-decade redistricting effort, they have to get their own house in order. However, not even Tom Delay can keep the power-mad Republicans from tearing each other apart:

Texas Republicans, having finally muscled the Democrats into a corner in their four-month fight to redraw the state's congressional district lines, have moved on to a new phase of the operation: Now they are brawling among themselves over how to draw the map.

The internecine dispute has embarrassed Republican leaders and may imperil the party's plans to use its new dominance of the state legislature to push through a map designed to shift as many as six additional congressional seats into Republican hands.


The intraparty dispute has become so intractable that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the House majority leader who has been actively involved in pushing the redistricting idea in the state legislature, flew to Austin last week to broker a compromise among the Republicans. He failed.

Let's hope the Rethuglicans keep their arrows aimed at each other. The longer they delay, the less chance they have of forcing their plan down Texans' throats before the 2004 election.

::: posted by Pontificator at 3:43 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003 :::

Wesley Clark is good for all the Democratic primary candidates. His very presence in the Democratic debates and on the campagin trail will give the Democrats national security gravitas. The very fact that a successful general could even BE a Democrat is enough to persuade a certain percentage of voters that maybe Democrats can be "tough" on national security after all.

::: posted by Pontificator at 8:52 PM


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