Wednesday, November 27, 2002

So maybe Garrison Keillor went a bit over the top when he hinted in Salon that there is awkwardness in Senator-elect Norm Coleman's marriage. Keillor, of course, is writing from a liberal perspective, which means there is zero tolerance for what he did. If he'd attacked a Democrat the same way, he could have said everything he said about Coleman and a lot more, with impunity -- hell, he could have written something like this gutter-based, unsourced, sophomoric wallow in John Kerry hate, the latest Boston Herald column by talk-radio bloviator Howie Carr:

How many hours did [Kerry] have to practice his signature to get it to look just like the real JFK's? He has so much clout, the city moved a fire hydrant from in front of his wife's Beacon Hill mansion. But above all else, the man is a gigolo's gigolo. How many guys could dump a first wife from a blueblood family worth $300 million, and end up on the rebound with a second wife worth $600 million?...

``Put down that I saw him cut in line once at Legal Sea Food in Chestnut Hill,'' said another guy. ``More than once, as a matter of fact. He's a line-cutter and a name-dropper.''

...Here's another [Kerry] story .... One night, they're all getting down, and among the guests is a four-sheets-to-the-wind [Kerry]. The girl, who's up on current events, starts tearing into Kerry for his weathervane-like voting record, telling him he needs to make a ``commitment.''

``Baby,'' he finally says, swaying ever so slightly in the breeze, ``I am ready right now to make a commitment. To you.''

In those days, before he tracked down 63-year-old ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz, [Kerry] was known as a cheapskate tipper....

But the 58-year-old boytoy has changed his ways....

Anyone have a problem with this? Kristof? Rosenbaum?

Tuesday, November 26, 2002


"Unfortunately, many of the amendments we saw through this process had little or nothing to do with protecting our homeland," said DeLay. "...We should be pursuing a common goal, and we should only consider change that would increase the effectiveness of the new department to catch or preempt terrorists."

--Tom DeLay, quoted in the July 26 press release "Homeland Security Is Congress' Most Important Task," posted at

BOB EDWARDS: The Homeland Security bill was bogged down in partisan disputes for weeks on Capitol Hill. I spoke with Tom Ridge before the ceremony yesterday. He said he was not discouraged by the delay.

TOM RIDGE: No, actually, in the scheme of things, having been a member of the Congress of the United States, the fact that we could get both chambers to deliver an historic piece of legislation reorganizing this much of the government in less than six months I think is historic. Obviously we would have liked to have happened
[sic] a little bit earlier, but in the democratic process, when the House and the Senate have to work their will and find common ground with the president, normally something this massive would have presumably taken longer. So we’re grateful that it took as little time as it did....

--interview on NPR's Morning Edition, 11/26/02

So the delays really weren’t so bad? Then why did your fellow Republicans imply that anything short of immediate acquiescence to the GOP on every provision of this bill was giving aid and comfort to bin Laden and Saddam?
Gore is toast; liberalism isn't. That's the message of the New York Times/CBS poll published in the Times today. Gore's numbers are abysmal (regular readers of The Daily Howler know why), but even Andrew Sullivan can't whinge as he usually does that the Times has mischaracterized poll respondents' opinions, which seem pretty damn unambiguous to me:

Mr. Bush remains extremely popular. Still, on a number of issues, there was evidence of public ambivalence or, in some cases, opposition to policies that the White House has signaled it will pursue once Republicans assume control in January.

...55 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the White House effort to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, compared with 39 percent who approved. Nearly two-thirds said the federal government should do more to regulate the environmental and safety practices of business.

By a ratio of two to one, Americans said they thought that protecting the environment was more important than producing energy. By a seven-to-one ratio, respondents said that Mr. Bush believed that producing energy was more important than protecting the environment....

...Two-thirds said they would have preferred the federal surplus be used to shore up Social Security and Medicare rather than finance a tax cut. With the surplus gone, 48 percent of those polled said they did not believe it was possible to both cut taxes and reduce the federal budget deficit....

Nearly 60 percent said they believed that Mr. Bush's tax cut benefited the wealthy; just over 25 percent said it benefited the middle class. Four percent said the tax cut primarily benefited the poor. Three-quarters of respondents said that the first round of tax cuts had not made a noticeable difference in their paychecks.

I’ve been trying to get my mind around Ron Rosenbaum’s latest exercise in group libel of the Left, which appears in the November 25 New York Observer.

The meat of the column is a tedious and inconclusive comparison of the George W. Bush saga to The Godfather -- surely somewhere on the Internet there’s a "Which Corleone Brother Are You?" quiz that’s more illuminating and more entertaining. Bookending this, however, are two rants consisting of more of the self-important apostasy that made Rosenbaum’s recent "Goodbye, All That" column such a favorite of Free Republic subscribers everywhere.

Rosenbaum declares at the beginning of his essay, predictably, that Gore Vidal and obscure e-mailers who believe Bush murdered Paul Wellstone represent mainstream Left thinking. (For a rebuttal to this absurd notion, read Eric Alterman’s most recent Nation column.) Then Rosenbaum goes further: He stamps his foot, wags his finger, and says, "Why aren’t those who railed against paranoid, right-wing, murder-list Clinton-hatred standing up to this ‘cesspool’ of incoherent Left Bush hatred?" In other words, we must each denounce conspiratorial thinking by people who agree with us on certain issues or we are guilty of such conspiratorial thinking ourselves.

Conveniently, Rosenbaum never applies this theory of group responsibility for individuals’ words and deeds to his newfound friends on the Right -- he never holds conservatives responsible for failing to denounce the Clinton Death List crazies. (Did any prominent conservatives do so? If so, could Rosenbaum please supply a list?)

Then, near the end of his essay, Rosenbaum really kicks it into high gear: He essentially declares everyone on the Left unfit to speak on contemporary politics because of an inadequate Left response to the evils of communism and (so Rosenbaum claims, erroneously) theocracy. But if offering insufficient opposition to global bad actors is a moral disqualifier, why the hell are we supposed to support a war in the Middle East conducted by an administration larded with the folks who gave us arms sales to the ayatollahs’ Iran, as well as Iraqgate and large amounts of covert aid to Afghanistan’s repressive theocrats?

It gets worse. At one point, Rosenbaum seems to be channeling Laurent Murawiec, the ex-LaRouchenik who last July outlined a crusade to overthrow several Middle Eastern regimes in a now-notorious PowerPoint presentation to the Defense Policy Board. Rosenbaum writes:

Wouldn’t it be a victory for the oppressed people of Iraq, of North Korea, of Iran, if their police-state regimes were overthrown? Even by a cowboy unilateralist? Even by The Devil? Even by the nation of Disney and McDonald’s?

Those who would object to such a global series of American ass-kickings are accused by Rosenbaum of wanting to "protect and shield … odious police states and torturing theocracies." Um, no, Ron -- maybe we’re just a bit squeamish about possibly starting World War III. Maybe our fantasies just don’t happen to run to neo-imperialism.

One last detail before I drop this: About midway through his Bush/Godfather riff, Rosenbaum parenthetically works Al Gore in, suggesting that the "pusillanimous" Gore might be analogous to "the snotty WASP Senator in Godfather II." Thus we see how far gone Rosenbaum is. Isn’t Godfather II’s "snotty WASP Senator" right? Isn’t the Mafia a genuine menace? Aren’t the machinations of the Corleones in the Senate scenes of Godfather II criminal and evil? Yes, as viewers we enjoy Michael Corleone’s ruthlessness and cunning, but he’s a blight on America.

Fiction gives us permission to admire villains, but Rosenbaum is taking this license back to the real world. He despises Gore for being a plodder. He likes Bush the more he thinks he sees in Bush the thuggish Machiavellianism of the brilliant, sexy criminal boss Michael Corleone.

If that’s what floats Rosenbaum’s boat, fine. Me, I’m with Diane Keaton.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

...the Left has no credibility on this issue [separation of church and state], because it’s now the chief American defender of theocracies abroad. It simply amazes me that the Left doesn’t get that the people who attacked us don’t just want God in some pledge; they want to execute "blasphemers," beat women into burqas, stone gays—America was founded by escapees from such theocracies.
--Ron Rosenbaum in this week's New York Observer

In 1998 Physicians for Human Rights did a well-publicized study of Afghan women's health [under the then-current Taliban regime], showing grave depression and suicidal tendencies; Amnesty International has declared the entire female population of Afghanistan prisoners of conscience....

Together with the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National Committee of Women for a Democratic Iran, RAWA [the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan] held a small but vigorous rally in Lafayette Park in front of the White House on April 28, [2000]....Eleanor Smeal spoke eloquently without notes; there were messages of support from Representative Carolyn Maloney [D-N.Y.] and Senator Harry Reid [D-Nev.]...

America...romanticizes as noble freedom fighters thugs and fanatics who throw acid in unveiled women's faces and have no interest in anything but their own power.

--column in The Nation by Katha Pollitt, May 29, 2000, reprinted in her essay collection Subject to Debate

Oh, but I should cut Ron Rosembaum a break, right? After all, he was probably too busy leading the resistance against the jackbooted fascists at Starbucks to notice at the time that virtually all of the righteous anger in this country at the actions of the Taliban was on the left.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, who have never stopped touring, recently did 10 days in the Middle East playing for the troops stationed in Afghanistan. In AFGHANISTAN, Joan would come onstage wearing a birkha, which she ripped off and stomped on before blazing through the purest and nastiest rock show ANYWHERE. --from a message posted at

Ann? Rush? Hitch? Andy? Can we call a momentary truce here and agree that, whatever our political differences may be, this gesture totally rocks?
So right-wingers -- Lucianne Goldberg (scroll down), Boston columnist and radio frother Howie Carr (scroll down), these fine folks -- want to mock Tom Daschle for his height?

Fine, be my guest. It's a free country.

But don't ever, ever turn around and claim, or approvingly quote anyone who claims, that anti-Christian prejudice or anti-Catholic prejudice or anti-male prejudice is "the last socially acceptable form of bigotry."

Thursday, November 21, 2002

You want pathetic losers desperate to recapture past glories? I got your pathetic losers desperate to recapture past glories. And not a liberal in the bunch.
I'll be very interested to see the reaction of abstinence advocates and other conservatives to the news that researchers have developed a vaccine that prevents transmission of a form of the human papilloma virus (HPV) known to lead to cervical cancer, and that another group of researchers has developed a vaccine that shows promise in preventing genital herpes in women.

A trump card of the abstinence movement is its assertion that condoms aren't effective in preventing HPV transmission, which, alas, is true; less convincingly, abstinence advocates also insist that condoms aren't very good at preventing herpes transmission (in fact, a 2001 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that condoms offer "significant protection against" herpes infection in women).

If it reduces the risks of sex, religious conservatives are likely to issue dire warnings about it. They are certain that abortion causes breast cancer. They darkly suggest that the Pill causes spontaneous abortions. And they want the government to reconsider its approval of RU-486, the abortion pill -- allegedly on medical grounds. (A leader in that fight is Dr. David Hager, reportedly the Bush administration’s choice to head the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Hager writes books urging a biblical approach to medicine and, according to two sources who spoke to Time magazine, refuses to prescribe contraception to unmarried women.)

Asked about the study that led to the HPV vaccine, the chief of the gynecologic oncology in the University of Pennsylvania Health System said, "If an effective vaccine comes out of this, one could envision it becoming part of routine childhood immunizations," while the head of the research team that developed herpes vaccine said, "If you did universal vaccination of 11- and 12-year-old women, you would eventually see an impact on the spread of herpes in both men and women." Sounds good -- but it won’t be that simple. If these vaccines are developed, at the very least there will pockets of outraged resistance to the idea that such vaccines should be given to young children (we will be told that the vaccines "encourage promiscuity"). More likely, given the near-inevitability of a second term for George Bush, resistance will be fierce and well organized -- and led from within the federal government.
How can we have an "emerging Democratic majority" if Democrats won't vote Democratic? According to this story, Mary Landrieu is trailing in a new poll as her Senate runoff approaches. After November 5, we shouldn't be surprised that she's in trouble -- but what's disturbing is the margin (eight percentage points, twice the margin of error), and this breakdown of the results:

Terrell performed much better with her party base than Landrieu. Terrell received 72% percent of the Republican vote to just 16% percent for Landrieu. Landrieu got only 51% of the Democrat vote while Terrell received a surprising 42%.

Is Landrieu's problem that she's not doing well with black leaders (and thus black Democratic voters) in Louisiana? From up here in the north, I can't be sure. But it's clear that she wants voters to think she's kinda-sorta Republican -- she boasts of voting with Bush 74% of the time -- and she hasn't figured out that this is a recipe for a thoroughly alienated base. Do Democrats still not get this?

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

"It is extremely important that Democrats not be allowed to characterize GOP support of personal savings accounts as privatization," a GOP strategist wrote during the campaign. (He called the use of the word "Democratic demagoguery.")

Apparently the folks at the online edition of the right-wing magazine Human Events didn't get the memo. Check out the first link in the right-hand column here:

"Social Security Privatization Victorious in 2002 Elections"


Results of a CNN/Time poll conducted by Harris Interactive 11/13 - 11/14/02, as reported at

"Next, I'm going to read you the names of some people in the news today. Please tell me whether you have generally favorable or generally unfavorable impressions of each, or whether you are not familiar enough to say one way or another."

"Republicans in Congress":

Favorable: 46%
Unfavorable 27% Not Familiar 23% Not Sure 4%

"Democrats in Congress":

Favorable: 43%
Unfavorable 31% Not Familiar 22% Not Sure 4%

Difference in favorability rating: 3%. Margin of error: 3.1%.

When he's not putting huge granite Ten Commandments sculptures in public buildings, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore writes poetry. Here's a dip into his oeuvre:

"America the Beautiful"

"Our American Birthright"

No big surprises here -- America is a Christian nation, abortion and homosexuality are sending the country to hell in a handbasket, you know the drill. Warning: You might want to mute the sound on the second one, unless your taste in music runs to John Philip Sousa played on a cheap synthesizer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Kudos to ABC News for running this story about slurs against Islam by a number of prominent evangelical preachers ("You know what we ought to do? We ought to take every single Muslim student in every college in this nation and ship them back to where they came from" —Jimmy Swaggart) on last night -- but isn't the criticism of President Bush for not condemning his allies' remarks until after the midterm elections a case of the pot calling the kettle black? ABC, after all, didn't run this story until thirteen days after the polls closed.

Monday, November 18, 2002

It's wonderful that a federal court has ruled against the display in a government building of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's tacky, 5280-pound granite Ten Commandments, but am I crazy to think the ruling is going to hurt Mary Landrieu as the Louisiana Senate runoff approaches? I know it's not the same state, and I know there's no direct connection, but hey, a lot of people believe a memorial service in Minnesota doomed Democratic Senate candidates as far away as Colorado and New Hampshire, so why is it so hard to imagine that this will be used (by the GOP, by talk radio) to rile up fundamentalists and conservative Catholics in Louisiana?

Whether or not it affects Landrieu, this is going to get ugly -- Moore has thirty days to take the thing down, which means the deadline is a week before Christmas. The self-righteous howls will be deafening, and I worry about serious civil disobedience if anyone tries to remove the thing by force.

A telling detail about Moore's character, from AP via (who'da thunk?) Fox News:

Moore installed the monument after the building closed on the night of July 31, 2001, without telling any other justices. But he did tell television evangelist D. James Kennedy, who had a crew from his Coral Ridge, Fla., ministry film the installation and offered videotapes of it for a donation of $19.

Moore has appeared numerous times on Kennedy's nationally syndicated religious television show.

Friday, November 15, 2002


A few days ago, Trent Lott blindsided President Bush by pressing for swift passage of the "partial-birth abortion" bill (and perhaps a wish list of further restrictions on abortion). Yesterday, wingnut GOP back-benchers blindsided their own party's leaders by voting down the bankruptcy bill because it contained a provision unfavorable to anti-abortion protesters. (And again today the pro-lifers failed to achieve a compromise that can pass the Senate.)

Remember, the GOP's Year Zero is a mere ten days old.

These guys are going to be very, very extreme. The only question is how much damage they'll manage to do before they thoroughly alienate the public.

OK, so Gallup has Bush's approval up 5% since the election. So, is that a mandate? No, it's not a mandate. It's a bump. Look at the graph: the trend (a slow but steady decline in approval and increase in disapproval) is unmistakable.

As I said a couple of days ago, Bush's approval decreased in a Newsweek poll taken after the election. I should have been more specific: that poll was taken after the election but before everyone in America was told that Bush is now a god and the Democrats are pathetic, out-of-step dinosaur pinko losers. So that Newsweek poll, in my opinion, is a pretty good reflection of voters' opinions before this conventional wisdom was shouted at them from all corners. And afterward? Well, Bush gets a five-point bump and the Dems take a ten-point hit. It's temporary -- and while I worry that the Democrats won't take sufficient steps to stave off further losses, those losses are preventable, and these are reversible. So right-wing simpletons gloat at their own peril.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

HANNITY: We don't want Klan members in our [Republican] party. Thank you very much.

HASTINGS: Oh, and you're telling me you don't have any? You are either naive or stupid!

HANNITY: Wait. Who is it? Wait a minute. Name one Klan member in the Republican Party. Name one.

HASTINGS: I can give you - if you're talking about. Let me -

HANNITY: Name one.

HASTINGS: Do we want to go to Lake Worth and find those militia and Klan people [unintelligible]?

HANNITY: No, no, no. I want to know what representative, what elected official is in the Klan - that are Republican?

HASTINGS: Elected today - a former Klan member?

HANNITY: Who? Who?

HASTINGS: That would be difficult for me to say. But if you give me a day I'll get you a name.

HANNITY: Checkmate again, checkmate.

--from a recent Sean Hannity radio show, on which Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings defended Senator Robert Byrd

David Duke was elected in 1989 and served as a member of the House of Representatives and was a full participating member of the Republican Legislative Delegation. He served on Committees: Health and Welfare, and Judiciary.

Authored landmark conservative legislation, including House Bill 1013 (1990), the first anti-affirmative action challenge passed by a legislative body in America.

He was recently elected to Chairmanship of the Republican Parish Executive Committee of the largest Republican parish (county) in Louisiana. (St. Tammany RPEC, At-Large Representative, term 1996-2000)

--from David Duke Online

Since at no time do you say you mean current officeholders who were in the Klan, you're busted, Sean.

What were you going to say if Hastings had mentioned Duke, Sean? That Duke is an incorrect answer to the question because he's not a current elected Republican, even though he held an elected post in the GOP until a mere two years ago?

Duke, according to his own bio, was in the Klan until 1978. Byrd left the Klan before Sean Hannity was born. Duke went on to found the National Association for the Advancement of White People, which he calls a "civil rights organization," and is now the president of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, "dedicated to protecting the rights and heritage of people of European descent in America and around the world."

Busted, Sean. Busted.

(Oh and please savor the compassionate conservatism in the Hannity link. In case you haven't clicked on it, it's a Free Republic discussion, and it veers off into a lavishly illustrated digression -- "Tom Daschle -- Man or Midget?" Charming.)
I would understand the outpouring of articles contending that Nancy Pelosi is a bad, out-of-the-mainstream choice for House Minority Leader if it were customary for leaders in the House to hug the center as much as humanly possible. But hello? Excuse me? In the next Congress, the House Majority Leader is going to be Tom Fricking DeLay.

So as you peruse list after list of the noncentrist positions (against the Iraq war resolution, against the Bush tax cut) Pelosi has taken, ask yourself why you’re not reading lists of truly out-of-touch, if not utterly extremist and nutty, positions taken by DeLay:

* In 1996, DeLay introduced a bill that would have made it illegal for states and municipalities to regulate "the pricing, terms, or conditions of service offerings by electric service providers" -- a bill praised by Kenneth Lay on Enron’s Web site (yep, the press release is still up).

* DeLay strongly supports drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

* DeLay, of course, vehemently opposes campaign finance reform (because it -- stop, you're killing me, Tom -- "prevent[s] average citizens from participating in political debates").

* In 2000, DeLay opposed a phased-in minimum-wage increase from $5.15 an hour to $6.15 ("I hate it").

* DeLay did not want Elián González reunited with his father.

* According to Time magazine, DeLay has asserted that day care, birth control and the teaching of evolution are the cause of Columbine-style youth violence. "Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence," DeLay, a fervent opponent of gun control, has said.

* DeLay has insulted Jews, Muslims, practitioners of all other faiths, and atheists by saying, "Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world -- only Christianity."

* DeLay denounced Baylor University and Texas A&M University for, among other things, failing to teach creationism.

I'm sorry -- which one of these leaders did you say is out of the mainstream?

Update: D'oh -- Joe Conason's latest column in The New York Observer also makes this comparison. Well, it bears repeating.
"Americans aged 18 to 29 back US military action by a 3-to-1 margin (69 percent to 23 percent). In contrast, support falls to 51 percent among those aged 65 or older, 31 percent of whom oppose a war against Iraq, according to three surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press." -- Christian Science Monitor, November 6, 2002

I hate to keep harping on The Emerging Democratic Majority, but this is yet another sign that we're not going to be able to just kick back for a few years and wait for Democrat Nation to, well, emerge. The GOP could very well be developing brand loyalty in a young generation that, if typical age-related voting patterns hold, will start voting in significant numbers relatively soon. At the same time, the people who have some skepticism about Bush are the ones who, to be blunt, don't have a whole lot of years of voting left. Folks, we need to worry about this now.
Large amounts of gratitude to ("Mandate? My ass") and TBOGG for linking to this site.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


All human cloning could be outlawed in the US as early as next year, driving a key area of medical research offshore, Senate supporters of a ban said on Tuesday.

Senator Sam Brownback plans to introduce legislation early next year and believes it stands a good chance of success following Republican gains in last week’s mid-term elections....

President George W.Bush has signalled he would back another attempt to push through legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives last year but stalled in the Senate....

A total ban would include “therapeutic cloning”, which might be used to grow replacement tissue in the body, as well as “reproductive cloning”, which would be used to make babies....

--Financial Times, November 12, 2002

Republicans on one side, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve on the other. Gosh, I thought it was NASCAR-averse pointy-headed liberals who were out of touch with the average American.
We all know that those stinky old Democrats put partisanship before the national interest in a time of terrorism by not acceding to anti-union provisions in the bill to create a Department of Homeland Security, right? Well, apparently putting partisanship before the national interest in a time of terrorism is, as they say, OK if you're a Republican. From today's New York Times (emphasis mine):

Because of disputes over spending levels, Congress has cleared only 2 of the 13 appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1....

Members of the appropriations committees had hoped to use the lame-duck session to pass at least a few of the spending measures.
They were overruled by Republican leaders, who would prefer to wrap up the session in a matter of days and wait to confront the spending fight when they are firmly in control.

That decision, aides in both parties pointed out, means that billions of dollars for a variety of security initiatives and other programs will not be immediately available. Among the temporary casualties, they said, are more than $3 billion in grants for local emergency teams, $500 million for the Coast Guard and other spending related to stepped-up domestic security.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

A couple of letters I sent yesterday, with added links:

To the Editor:

In today's New York Times, Richard W. Stevenson claims that conservatives have "always been skeptical" about the usefulness of balancing the federal budget.

Really? Then why has every Republican presidential candidate since 1980 -- including George W. Bush in 2000 -- run on a platform that called for a constitutional amendment to put the budget in balance? And why did a constitutional amendment to balance the budget make it to the Senate floor in 1997, where it received the vote of every member of the GOP?

Current Republican policies virtually guarantee large deficits for the foreseeable future. Thus, it is understandable that the party would like voters to forget its past statements on the subject of deficit spending. The Times, however, should be careful not to aid the party in this effort to rewrite history.


To the Editor:

Howard Kurtz writes today that "Bill Clinton showed you could win a presidential election on alderman-type issues -- school uniforms, community policing." Has Kurtz forgotten the successful 1988 campaign of the elder George Bush? The most prominent issues of that campaign were the Pledge of Allegiance and a furlough granted to one murderer. Maybe Bill Clinton did play "small ball," as Kurtz puts it, but he did not introduce it to our national campaigns.

Here's something that doesn't fit into the Officially Approved Narrative: If you scroll down to the Newsweek poll here, you'll see that in a survey taken last Thursday and Friday -- after (as we've been told endlessly) Bush achieved godhood -- the percentage of voters who said they'd vote to reelect Bush dropped 4% against Al Gore, and dropped 3% against Satan herself, Hillary Clinton. In response to the question "In general, would you like to see George W. Bush reelected to another term as president, or not?" a "whopping" 49% of voters say yes, 42% say no.

Mandate? My ass.

(Cross-posted with Media Whores Online.)
If this is what John Edwards stands for, then what on earth would be the point of voting for him instead of Bush?
One poignant photo said it all: Georgia's defeated Democratic senator, Max Cleland, sitting in a wheelchair, missing both legs and an arm lost in combat in Vietnam. This highly decorated hero was defeated by a Vietnam war draft-dodger who had the audacity to accuse Cleland of being "unpatriotic" after the senator courageously voted against giving Bush unlimited war-related powers. I do not recall a more shameful moment in American politics.

--Eric Margolis on the U.S. elections in The Toronto Sun, November 10, 2002

Damn right.
Democrats may be forced to shut down operations as a party and re-enter politics under a different name. The party formerly known as "the Democratic Party" will henceforth be doing business under the name "the Abortion Party." That would have the virtue of honesty. Love of abortion is the one irreducible minimum of the Democratic Party.

--Ann Coulter's column, November 7, 2002

I will call it up, we will pass it, and the president will sign it. I'm making that commitment -- you can write it down.... We will move the partial-birth abortion bill through. The House did it this year. Once again, Tom Daschle would not call it up. I will.

--Trent Lott one day after the election, as quoted in The Washington Post, November 11, 2002
As we lick our wounds, a lot of us are taking comfort in the premise of John Judis and Ruy Teixiera's new book, The Emerging Democratic Majority -- you know, the book that says Democrats will dominate American politics in the future by continuing to win the votes of population groups that are growing, such as blacks, Hispanics, and well-off professionals, particularly women.

Problem is, black voters apparently didn’t turn out for the Democrats in very large numbers last week. And Hispanic support for Democrats was spotty. Oh, and affluent white women decided they liked the president, so they voted Republican.

Sorry, folks -- future victories are not going to drop into our laps. We’re going to have to earn them.

Friday, November 08, 2002

What a miserable party. I'm glad to see their power end, and I'm sure they'll all be perfectly comfortable in their cells in Guantanamo. --Ann Coulter on the Democrats, in her November 7 column

In his press conference yesterday, Mr. Bush gave no sign he is intoxicated by election vapors; even when goaded by reporters looking for a good story, he didn't speak dreamily about appointing John Ashcroft to the Supreme Court, drilling for oil in Yellowstone or exiling liberals to Guantánamo. --Nicholas Kristof, in his November 8 column

Make of this what you will: yesterday I e-mailed Nicholas Kristof a perma-link to Ann Coulter's columns, because I suspect he doesn't really understand the depth, breadth, and reach of right-wing rage, which he all but ignored in his last column as he chided the left for the verbal excesses of a handful of lefty e-mailers.

Am I crazy to think that Kristof clicked on the link and actually exposed himself to the horror that is Coulter, possibly for the first time? Is it too much to hope that he's going to start to get it now?

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Like most other pundits, MyDD blew the call on the midterm elections big time, but here are two good nuggets from the MyDD postmortem. On the Wellstone memorial service:

Democrats, when they see Republicans use patriotism or warmongering for political purposes react cynically, but it doesn't make them mad. You can bet your holy dollar, had Ronald Reagan died before the election, the Republican mantra of 'win one for the gipper' would have been out the mouth of every freeper. Republicans, when they see Democrats acting partisan at non-partisan events, become morally indignant, extremely agitated, caustic, and utterly activist.

On the tepid Democrats:

Part of the problem with the Democratic Leadership not really standing up against Bush over anything controversial, is that it mutes their claim that a Republican Trifecta would be extreme-- Democrats compromise with them, so how can it be that bad?

Bingo, and bingo again.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Not much to add to excellent analyses of the blowout by Joe Conason in Salon, the 11/5, 10:15 A.M. post of William Saletan in Slate (yes, after I slagged him yesterday), and Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect.

I knew the Democrats didn't do anything that would fire up their base, but I wasn't sure whether the base showed up anyway. It didn't. Here's Meyerson:

The base stayed home. In Georgia, where Zell Miller, the Democrats' most rightwing, Bushophilic Senator, counseled his fellow Georgia Democrats to run to the right lest the good-ol'-boy vote turn, the good-ol'-boy vote turned anyway, while African-American Atlanta didn't come to the polls, dooming not only Cleland but heavily favored Democratic Governor Roy Barnes. In Maryland, working-class Baltimore voted light, and longtime favorite Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend went down to defeat. In state after state, the Democrats waged a futile campaign to win over their periphery, while failing to mobilize their core. And midterm elections, as they bewilderingly forgot, are all about mobilizing your core.

The GOP core is always mobilized. That's what Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, et al., do -- they keep the base permanently mobilized, energized, galvanized. Tell the voters day after day that liberals, and thus Democrats, are "savagely cruel bigots who hate ordinary Americans and lie for sport" (Slander, p. 205), or that we're engaged in a "war" in which liberty must triumph over liberalism (Sean Hannity), and they'll make damn sure they get to the polls to fight off the threat to all that is good and decent.

Nonconservatives have ignored this sort of rhetoric for too long. We're really going to pay for it now.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

In his current Slate column, William Saletan, who says he's "less a New Democrat than a liberal Republican," declares that he is reluctantly voting for the Democrat, Chris Van Hollen, in the House race in his Maryland district rather than fellow Republican Connie Morella, a moderate. Saletan says he agonized over this decision, and finally came to this conclusion:

... my vote for Morella wouldn't help fill Congress with Republicans like her. It would just reassure or embolden the right-wingers who use their control of the House to limit the number and influence of Republicans like her. I don't really want Democrats to run the House, but the only way to push Republicans back to the center is to shake them up.

In a word: Duh.

Saletan is a nationally bylined political writer. He thinks about politics for a living. It took him this long to figure that out?

Monday, November 04, 2002

Giving depositions -- it’s kind of like going to a Nazi concentration camp and being executed there, isn’t it?

No? You don’t think so?

Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn does.

In this jaw-dropping New York Times interview, the man who promoted man-boy love advocate Father Paul Shanley (now under indictment on multiple counts of child rape and indecent assault) actually has the gall to compare his travails to the suffering of Edith Stein, who died in Auschwitz in 1942 and is now a Catholic saint.

While he's at it, Daily also distorts the position of Voice of the Faithful, an organization formed in the wake of the sex-abuse scandals that seeks reform of the Catholic church:

One of the organization's stated goals, [Daily] pointed out, is to "change the structure of the church," which he interpreted to mean changing "the basic structures," an idea he distrusted.

"You've got to have a pope," he said, "and you've got to have a bishop."
(emphasis mine)

I search in vain here or anywhere else at VOTF’s Web site for evidence that the self-proclaimed "centrists" of VOTF want to do away with the papacy or bishops. Daily’s characterization of the group is a grotesque distortion.

Daily goes on to say,

"I have no problem talking to people, and I have talked to them from the point of view of what they're feeling and I think I could do more of it, but having said that, I want to be part of the discussion. Don't shut me out. They want to make a point, and the point is their own participation in the church. And I just say it's got to include the bishop, and if it doesn't it's not the Catholic Church."

Members of Voice of the Faithful chapters said that far from shutting the bishop out, they would have been honored to meet with him. Bishop Daily said he might yet meet with them, but only when he felt ready.

"I'll make that decision," he said. "You know, I'll be me. I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I just want to be me and I don't want to be shut out of anything."

He won’t talk to them, so they’re shutting him out?

Utterly appalling.
Is the Senate going to stay Democratic? Right-leaning pollster John Zogby thinks so, according to Dick Morris in the New York Post; so do the bettors at the Iowa Electronic Markets. I'm dubious -- for one thing, I think the Wellstone memorial service, and the GOP's phony outrage over it, which seems to be resonating with voters, will give Coleman a win over Mondale -- but it's nice to have hope. I can live with a lot of things (GOP gains in the House, a Bush win in Florida) if the Senate stays Democratic.
The problem isn’t that John Ashcroft supports the death penalty. The problem is that he craves it.

Without Ashcroft’s intercession, John Muhammad and Lee Malvo might well be tried on murder charges in half a dozen venues. It’s inconceivable that Muhammad would avoid a death sentence, and it’s likely that the seventeen-year-old Malvo would receive one as well.

But that’s not good enough for our vengeful attorney general.

He is desperate to bump Virginia’s case against Muhammad and Malvo to the top of the list, solely because the odds of a death sentence against the youth are the greatest there.

I’m not going to make a general argument against the death penalty here, though I oppose it. This is a subject on which minds are made up. I won’t even argue against the death penalty for minors, though this particularly appalls me. That seems to be a settled issue in many states in the union, including states where Muhammad and Malvo will be tried if Ashcroft’s desperate craving doesn’t result in execution before some trials can take place.

I admit I’ll have a hard time mustering outrage if John Muhammad is found guilty and executed. But it seems obvious that Lee Malvo underwent soul murder at Muhammad’s hand before the murder spree began. For this reason, I’m outraged that our attorney general has made it his mission to rush Malvo to the death chamber.

Abandoned by his mother in Antigua at fifteen, Malvo seems to have handed over his entire identity to Muhammad. He ate what Muhammad said he could eat, and went hungry when nothing was acceptable. He kept himself two paces behind Muhammad and stopped walking when Muhammad stopped. He was named Lee, but became John because Muhammad’s name was John.

I know Malvo may have sometimes -- or always -- been the one in the Caprice who pulled the trigger. I’m not proclaiming his innocence. I’m expressing uncertainty -- something John Ashcroft seems never to have done in his life.

A sociopath, maybe two, conceived this murder spree and took a sick satisfaction from it. John Ashcroft is not a sociopath -- yet his satisfaction when Lee Malvo is sentenced to death will differ from what the sniper or snipers felt only in degree.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Matt Drudge is currently linking this story about a Tennessee frat that was suspended after members dressed in blackface (as the Jackson 5).

Drudge isn't linking this or any other story about a Wisconsin college journalist whose analysis of a Milwaukee assault by a group of black youths was "Stop the welfare payments and you’ll end the madness."

I wonder if one of these stories will make its way up the right-wing media food chain -- to, say, here. If so, I bet I know which one it will be.
Harvey Pitt, resign? Don't hold your breath. Army secretary and former Enron honcho Thomas White is still around; no one has been fired at the CIA or FBI for intelligence failures that led to 9/11; and, for that matter, in the Catholic Church, the principal pedophile-enabling archbishops, such as Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, are still hanging on.

Get used to it -- this is just the way things work now. The shameless conservatives who run the federal government and the church care a lot more about protecting their fellow muckamucks than they do about doing the right thing. Unless mobs mass in the streets to demand his head, I predict Pitt stays.