Monday, December 23, 2002

Unless unusual things happen, I'm going to disconnect for a while, and I won't be posting until the new year. Thanks to everyone who read, e-mailed, and/or linked (thanks for the recent link, Interesting Times). See you in 2003 (which I hope we survive).
Some things never change: The sun rises in the east, pigs still don't fly, and over in the sewer that is they hate Hillary Clinton more than they hate any other living human being.

The Ldotters, by the way, have a name for Senator Clinton you might not understand (I didn't) -- it's "PIAPS" (see post #4 here).


Replies #4 and #5 here explain the meaning:

Pig In A Pants Suit.

Sweet people, these right-wingers.

"I Am Often Booed Because of Who My Friends Are"
--title of the very first chapter of Peggy Noonan's What I Saw at The Revolution

Lest you think that Republican whining about other people's responsibility for one's own acts as a public figure and employee of the taxpayers went out of fashion with Nixon and came back only when Trent had his tantrum.

(Sorry, Peggy, you're wrong -- you are often booed because of what you've done and because of the people you've chosen to do it for.)
Following a lesson on the monotheistic faiths, Saudi Arabian schoolchildren are asked to discuss “With what types of weapons should Muslims arm themselves against the Jews?” That question is part of an official textbook for 8th grade students which also emphasizes that “Jews and Christians were cursed by Allah and turned into apes and pigs,” and that “The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”...

By ninth grade, students are ready for “The Promise of the Stone and the Tree” — the story of Abu Hurayra, one of the prophet’s companions who quoted the prophet as saying: “The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. A Jew will [then] hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will call upon the Muslim: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!’ — except for the gharqad tree, for it is one of the trees of the Jews.”...

--front-page story in today's New York Sun

Hey, good thing we rejected those tough fuel economy standards, hunh?
In the '80s, Ronald Reagan, seeking to quell criticism of his positions on education issues (but with no intention of moderating those positions), decided he'd send a teacher into space. Christa McAuliffe was a prop for Reagan; Bill Frist is a lot more than that for Bush and Rove, but prop is one of his roles. He's meant to be a walking embodiment of "compassionate conservatism," we're supposed to think of him as a doctor who flies to Africa to perform surgery, not as an accomplice helping Bush hack away at the social safety net, and not as a water carrier for Big Pharma in the battle over prescription drugs. Expect lots and lots of treacly profiles of Frist in the weeks and months to come -- if the Bushies want to, they can make this guy seem like the hero of a romance novel.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Remember Kanan Makiya? He’s the Iraqi who shocked a gathering of liberal intellectuals in New York City in November by advocating a U.S. war against Saddam Hussein. George Packer ended his December 8 New York Times Magazine article, "The Liberal Quandary Over Iraq," with Makiya’s statement, and, like Makiya, he meant it to be a stunner:

''I'm afraid I'm going to strike a discordant note.'' [Makiya] pointed out that Iraqis, who will pay the highest price in the event of an invasion, ''overwhelmingly want this war.'' He outlined a vision of postwar Iraq as a secular democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens. This vision would be new to the Arab world. ''It can be encouraged, or it can be crushed just like that. But think about what you're doing if you crush it.'' Makiya's voice rose as he came to an end. ''I rest my moral case on the following: if there's a sliver of a chance of it happening, a 5 to 10 percent chance, you have a moral obligation, I say, to do it.''

We were all supposed to read this and hate ourselves for being chardonnay-swilling, Brie-gnawing Upper West Side yupster naif scum. Me, I read it and thought, This makes no damn sense.

First, it poses a false dichotomy -- if we don’t invade, Makiya says, we crush all hopes for democracy, apparently for all time. Why is that true? During the Cold War we didn’t invade the Soviet Union, or its satellites in the Eastern bloc, and the democratic impulse in those nations clearly was not “crushed.” Have Michael Bay movies colonized Makiya’s mind? Is there no way to encourage democracy in Iraq other than immediate, essentially unilateral war?

Second, the future of Iraq in a postwar world is not a matter of “chance” -- it’s a matter of government policy that will be driven by men named Bush, Rove, Rumsfeld, and Cheney, with possible input from Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Does it have to be stated again that George W. Bush sneered outright at nation-building in his first debate with Al Gore in 2000, or that his administration is doing a piss-poor job of it in Afghanistan right now?

And does Makiya think none of the possible risks of this war outweigh the sliver of a chance for democracy? Scorched earth? Jihadists with the bomb in Pakistan? A chemical/nuclear exchange between Iraq and Israel? More terrorism for years worldwide, particularly in the United States -- which is Makiya’s home, and has been for decades?

Oh yeah -- did I mention that little detail about Makiya’s bio, a detail Packer left out of his article? Makiya’s not a refugee from Saddam’s jails -- like, say, Hussain al-Shahristani, who was tortured in Iraqi prisons but expressed deep skepticism about the coming war last month in England. According to an article by Michael Massing in the 1/6/03 issue of The Nation, Makiya “came to this country in the late 1960s to attend MIT and never left.” (Packer referred to him as just “an Iraqi dissident.”)

Yes, Makiya has spent years researching and writing about the horrors of life in Iraq -- but his experience of Iraq is that of a journalist, not a victim of Saddam.

Liberal white guilt is not called for.

Massing’s article begins where Packer’s leaves off, with Makiya’s quote. Massing reviews the humanitarian arguments for war, then patiently reality-checks each one. It’s a good summary of the antiwar argument. I’m sorry it’s not on the Web.
I thought this might be a touchy subject in liberal circles, but (the good) Roger Ailes says it, and he's absolutely right: "I'd Rather Eat Pants," the "comedy" that infested NPR's Morning Edition all last week, was unspeakably awful. (Dumb surfer dudes! Mispronounced Jewish names! The word "tuchis"! What could be funnier -- if you've been in a coma for the past thirty to fifty years?)

And Roger is right that Susan Stamberg is insufferable, too. Are there any good progressive ideas (feminism, skepticism about bellicose superpowers) that she hasn't managed to reduce to superficial treacle, which she then presents in the grating voice of a condescending kindergarten teacher?

In my household we listen to stuff like this and say, "This is why people vote Republican."

Saturday, December 21, 2002

The New York Times makes it official: The next Senate Majority Leader will be Karl Rove.
You can read the Daily Howler, Eric Alterman, and Mark Crispin Miller and learn a lot about our dysfunctional political press -- but while you're at it, read this, too. Yup, it's a cartoon. But it makes a very important point. Really.

Be as nasty as you like to Dr. Laura Schlessinger at this difficult time -- after all, she’d do the same to you.

Anyone who’s listened to her show for even a few minutes knows that she doesn’t give a damn about extenuating circumstances that might explain why callers have fallen short in some area of their lives -- she accepts no excuses and expresses no sympathy. She hates the sin and despises the sinner.

So fire away, people.

Unfortunately, you’ll have a hard time trying to play “Gotcha!” with Dr. Laura on her neglect of her mother -- she made her estrangement from Mom clear over the years, and her allies have already forgiven her for it.

Carefully drawing a cordon sanitaire around the precise borders of one’s own lapses while condemning strikingly similar lapses by other people is, of course, what we expect from the right-wing morality police. Thus, Republicans assailed Bill Clinton for adultery, but when the philandering of Henry Hyde, J. C. Watts, Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich, and other Republicans was revealed, adultery became OK as long as it didn’t involve lying under oath. And when it was revealed that Barr may well have lied about sex under oath in a civil procedure, we were told that Clinton's great moral shame was lying about sex under oath in a criminal investigation.

Dr. Laura pitilessly insists that everyone must put family above all other concerns, but she gave herself permission not to care about her own aging parent.

Many adult children lost parents in the fall -- adult children lose parents all the time. Some of those adult children were estranged from those parents -- but even many of the estranged children probably grieved. Laura Schlessinger didn’t grieve back in the fall. Laura Schlessinger didn’t have a clue her mother was dead.

Save your tears for someone else.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Well, it's over.

Bill Schneider at CNN says that Senate Republicans resent Bush for his "clumsy" handling of Lottgate. (A couple of days ago, the message from Senate Republicans such as Orrin Hatch was, in the words of The New York Times, "butt out.")

But how is this possible? Six weeks ago, Bush was a god among men -- Lincolnesque as a war leader, stunningly successful as a risk-taking campaigner (for some of these very senators!). He was beloved. He was the future fifth face on Mount Rushmore. It was incontrovertible fact that everyone in America worshipped the guy.

Don't GOP senators tremble at his very name? After all, the rest of us do -- certainly everyone in the media has told us that we do in the wake of 9/11/01, and in the wake of 11/5/02.

So senators of his own party can slag Bush. Gosh -- does that mean the rest of us can, too?
Early this morning, Andrew Sullivan wrote this in his blog:

"I’ve long wondered whether [Bob] Novak’s ubiquity on cable talk shows is some kind of Democratic plot. Just on a purely visceral level, he exudes contempt for his opponents, sneers every opinion [sic], and almost always assumes bad motives on the part of his rivals."

You mean, as opposed to open-minded, respectful, polite, genial right-wing media figures like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, John McLaughlin, and Ann Coulter?

Or, for that matter, sweet-tempered compromisers like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld?

Hey -- maybe it’s all a Democratic plot! Maybe Democrats deliberately manipulated talk radio, cable news, and all three branches of the federal government so that they would be taken over by contemptuous, sneering Republicans who assume that their ideological opponents always act in bad faith!

Whoa -- a conspiracy so vast...

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Stupid White Men kicks right-wing butt on USA Today's list of the top-selling books of 2002 -- it's the year's #31 book, far ahead of Ann Coulter's Slander, Bernard Goldberg's Bias, and Sean Hannity's Let Freedom Ring. Oh, and as I type this, Stupid White Men is #5 at Amazon.

I don't want to be cruel to someone with deep emotional scars, but at the same time I don't want someone who has deep emotional scars to deal with them by engaging in a monomaniacal crusade to limit the life choices of large numbers of people.

If you read Bob Herbert's column today, in which black anti-affirmative-action zealot Ward Connerly is quoted as saying, "Supporting segregation need not be racist. One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races," here's a follow-up that might make your jaw drop: a 1997 profile of Connerly in which we learn the source of his anger (it's clearly at blacks, not at preferences, and it's clearly personal), and we also learn that many people who knew him as a child and now hear him talk about his youth -- including family members -- say he's a liar:

Arthur Soniea, Mr. Connerly's codgerly and irascible 75-year-old uncle, said: ''That's malarkey about him stuffing paper in his shoes. Another damned lie is that sweet potatoes three times a day. He don't come around here, but if he did,'' Mr. Soniea said, he would haul his nephew into the woodshed.

And there's quite a bit more where that came from.

You come away from this feeling sorry for the man -- or you would if you didn't know that reversing many of the gains of the civil rights movement is his life's work.

(Readers impatient to get to the bizarre stuff are urged to jump directly to page 2. But read the whole thing -- the end shows a Connerly barely able to defend his own ideas. Not that it stops him from trying to impose them on the whole country.)
"The Bush administration has set the last week in January as the make-or-break point in the long standoff with Iraq," The Washington Post reports today, "and is increasingly confident that by then it will have marshaled the evidence to convince the U.N. Security Council that Iraq is in violation of a U.N. resolution passed last month and to call for the use of force, officials said yesterday....

"In disclosing their plans, administration officials offered the clearest timetable to date of how they would like to see the inspections process brought to a head. They are pointing to Jan. 27, when Blix is scheduled to make his first substantive report to the Security Council...."

Hmm, January 27. Oh, by the way, when is the State of the Union address?

January 28?

Gosh, what a coincidence.

Remember 1986, when NASA chose to launch the space shuttle Challenger despite cold weather in Florida that threatened the craft -- on the day the State of the Union address was to take place, a speech expected to focus on education and the teacher on Challenger's crew? (This is not a crackpot theory, by the way -- see "Background" here for evidence that Reagan was going to talk about the Challenger in the SoU, and scroll down to the last paragraph here for evidence of pressure to hold the launch date.) Well, expect something similar this year -- expect Bush to use his own beating of war drums as a major news event that will launch his agenda. He'll go before a frightened nation and tell us not to fear -- if we pass all the GOP's tax cuts and approve all the Federalist Society judges, God will save the Republic.

What a shameless bastard.
Look, nobody really doubts that the White House is working to get Trent Lott to step aside as Majority Leader, so the invaluable BuzzFlash can relax. But the fact is, Bush won't get out front and center and say Lott has to go. Andrew Sullivan can insist all he wants that Bush's CYA speech on December 12 was a "Sister Souljah moment" with phrases that belong in Bartlett's -- we aren't buying it. If Bush would use some of his precious political capital and call openly for Lott's ouster, thus alienating his party's throwbacks, that would be a Sister Souljah moment. And if this really is a signal moment in the history of the GOP, a moment when everyone has to choose sides because the party's soul is in the balance, and if Bush is the great racial progressive Sullivan and his fellow Bush coat-holders say he is, that's just what Bush would do. Instead, we get this:

President Bush issued a strong public rebuke of Mr. Lott last week, but did not call for the senator to step down from his leadership post.

For the White House, the Lott matter is a delicate one. Advisers to Mr. Bush are concerned that the dispute could hurt the party's image and affect the administration's agenda, but the White House does not want to be seen as meddling in Senate affairs….

…As he has over the past several days, [Ari] Fleischer today continued to put forth the president's position that Mr. Lott should not resign, and said no more on the subject.

But several Republicans close to the White House said today that the administration would like Mr. Lott to step down but was increasingly nervous about appearing to intervene in the Senate's business.

"They are bending over backwards to be careful because they want to avoid angering Republican senators," one influential Republican said....

So I'm standing by this post from last night.

"Either you believe in freedom, and want to -- and worry about the human condition, or you don't....

“...there is a value system that cannot be compromised, and that is the values that we praise....These are values of freedom and the human condition....

" [A] leader must combine the ability to listen to others, along with action."

--Bush, finding it much easier to talk tough when the subject was kicking some foreign guy's ass than he does when talking about race in America today.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Attack on Lott's Remarks Has Come From Variety Of Voices on the Right
--headline in the print edition of yesterday's New York Times

Conservatives Led the Way in Criticizing Lott's Remarks
--online headline for the same article

Did the Times tweak the Web headline in the hope that it would more readily attract red-state Limbaughnista eyeballs? Just wondering.
George Bush could end this Lott thing once and for all by sticking his neck out, publicly or within his party, and saying in no uncertain terms that Lott has to go.

But he won’t do that. As the New York Daily News put it today, Bush wants Lott to go, “but he doesn't want any White House fingerprints on the job.”

Gosh, it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who said this stuff to Bob Woodward not so long ago:

“First of all, a president has got to be the calcium in the backbone. If I weaken, the whole team weakens. If I'm doubtful, I can assure you there will be a lot of doubt....

"They tell me, we don't need to move too fast...I just don't buy that. Either you believe in freedom, and want to -- and worry about the human condition, or you don't....

“...there is a value system that cannot be compromised, and that is the values that we praise....These are values of freedom and the human condition and mothers loving their children.

"You can't talk your way to a solution to a problem.... [A] leader must combine the ability to listen to others, along with action."

The big story on USA Today’s front page this morning concerns the commission appointed by President Bush last June to recommend changes in Title IX. It’s not clear what exactly the commission will propose, and opinions differ on how drastic the changes will be, but it seems quite likely that the proposals would reduce participation by women in collegiate sports.

The people who want Title IX changed say that rules intended to ensure high levels of female participation force schools to disband men’s teams in lower-profile sports, like wrestling. Opponents of change counter -- convincingly, I’d say -- that the real reason there isn’t money for certain men’s teams is that the typical school spends so damn much on football.

Notice, if you will, that in the midst of a war on terrorism, a recession, and (we’re told) a looming Saddam crisis, this got the attention of the executive branch.

But that’s the Bush administration for you, isn’t it? Stratospheric approval ratings, weak opposition, nationwide acclaim for war leadership, a fawning press -- and they're still trying to shore up their base. Sports-crazed Angry White Males want Title IX weakened, so sports-crazed Angry White Males will by God get Title IX weakened, by the Leader of the Free World.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

And then, of course, there’s Dinesh D’Souza. Twenty years ago, when he was a student, he was one of the editors at the right-wing Dartmouth Review who published a mocking article in “black English” titled "Dis Sho Ain't No Jive, Bro." Years later, he had the unmitigated gall to publish, in all seriousness, a book called The End of Racism. And he’s still around -- unapologetic, unabashed, and retailing the secrets of his success to a new generation of right-wingers in his latest book.

Gosh, I simply can’t imagine why more blacks don’t vote GOP. Can you?
"The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief."

--self-important right-wing Trent Lott denouncer Andrew Sullivan in 1994, defending the decision to dedicate an issue of the putatively liberal New Republic (which he then edited) to The Bell Curve

If you enjoy this irresponsible, mean-spirited list of the 50 "Most Loathsome People of 2002," from a Buffalo weekly paper, or even if you just enjoy parts of it, you're a very bad person.

And you're not unlike me.

I particularly enjoy the suggestion that Bill O'Reilly comes across as a "brothel customer who won't pay a dollar over the list price, occasionally gets rough and takes a long time."

And check out who's #1.

(Warning: The list loads slowly.)
As you watch the self-congratulation on the right, please remember this inconvenient fact: When asked, "Do you think Lott should or should not continue to serve as Republican leader of the Senate?," 65 percent of Republicans still can't bring themselves to say he should not continue to serve as leader.

Democrats get it. Independents get it. Only Republicans don't get it.

What a slap in the face, particularly to Joshua Micah Marshall, Atrios, and Joe Conason.

And like an abuse victim who can't break free, the Times praises Andrew Sullivan most of all. Listen up, girlfriend: He's not going to stop beating on you.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Lott Comments Harden Opposition to Pickering Renomination

Senate Republican leader Trent Lott's recanted remarks that appeared to endorse race separation views of a half-century ago may derail Mississippi jurist Charles Pickering's second chance for the federal appeals court seat, Democrats and liberal groups said Thursday...

--Fox News story, 12/13/02


(And here's why that's extremely good news.)
Joe Conason tries to steer the national conversation to John Ashcroft's neo-Confederate ties.

Will the mainstream press ever take this story seriously?

And what about the conversatives who are now patting themselves on the back for their racial broad-mindedness as they suddenly proclaim how awful they think Trent Lott is? If they're as non-racist as they claim, which of them will be the first to denounce Ashcroft? Shouldn't they want a thorough housecleaning of "the party of Lincoln"? Or do they care about Republican racists only when they become embarrassing? And why aren't they able to summon up articles from their past about the vileness of the neo-Confederates, as Conason does?
Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi earlier named former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash. [to the independent commission that will investigate 9/11]. On Monday he filled the last slot on the 10-member panel with John Lehman, who served as President Reagan's Navy secretary from 1981 to 1987. He is founding partner of the investment firm J.F. Lehman & Co.

Relatives had been hoping that former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., would be named for the position.


Oh sure, Tom Kean, Bush's choice to replace Henry Kissinger, is an old-fashioned moderate-to-liberal Northeastern Republican. And John McCain, who's been close to the families, likes Lehman. But let's not mince words. The headline is:


Clinton LeSueur, a black Republican who ran for Congress in Mississippi this year, responds to Lottgate in this morning's USA Today by approvingly quoting outgoing congressman J. C. Watts, another black Republican: according to Watts, Lott's remarks were "appropriate to the forum."

I guess that puts Watts and LeSueur on the same side as the unabashed segregationists at, who think Lott's original remarks were appropriate, too.

And, incidentally, these folks weren't particularly happy about LeSueur's candidacy.
These loons give the Nazi salute to the Confederate flag.

That's just one of the "fresh" details about the Council of Conservative Citizens and their pal Trent in this article. (I put "fresh" in quotes because the article was published in 1999.) Thanks to the brilliant Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler for rescuing it from obscurity.
From Lucianne Goldberg's snake pit,

"Does anyone else think the Trent Lott story is way beyond its shelf life? Is the current news vacuum doing this?"

"Current news vacuum"? O'Neill and Lindsay quit, Law quits, Kissinger quits, Gore drops out, Gore goes on SNL, Venezuela boils over, Bush calls for mass smallpox vaccinations, the Heisman Trophy winner is announced, New York is poised on the verge of a transit strike -- not to mention the ongoing threat of hell being unleashed in the Middle East. "Current news vacuum"? Are you nuts, Lucianne?

Ann Coulter wrote this in Slander:

...liberals prefer to keep reminiscing about the last time they were giddily self-righteous. Like a senile old man who keeps telling you the same story over and over again, liberals babble on and on about the “heady” days of civil rights marches. Between 1995 and 2001, the
New York Times alone ran more than one hundred articles on “Selma” alone. I believe we may have revisited this triumph of theirs sufficiently by now. For anyone under fifty, the “heady” days of civil rights marches are something out of a history book. The march on Selma was thirty-five years ago.

Coulter’s statistical analysis has been amusingly debunked, of course (Tapped pointed out months ago that many of those “Selma” references are references to women named Selma or are otherwise unrelated to civil rights) -- but substitute “the Civil War” for “civil rights marches” and make a few more minor changes, and Coulter’s words could well be accurately applied to neo-Confederates like Trent Lott and the Council of Conservative Citizens, as well as many ordinary Southerners with similar views.

“Reminiscing about the last time they were giddily self-righteous”? These folks do a lot more than reminisce. They literally re-fight the battles of the Civil War. They brandish (and vehemently defend) the banner of the losing army long after that army’s defeat. They become dewy-eyed at the thought of leaders of that failed struggle (“Sometimes I feel closer to Jefferson Davis than any other man in America,” Trent Lott said).

Or substitute “opposition to civil rights” for “civil rights marches”: Like a senile old man who keeps telling you the same story over and over again, Trent Lott says, over and over, that if the pro-segregation candidate had been elected President in 1948, the country would be a better place.

For anyone under 140, the “heady” days of the Civil War are something out of a history book. Even the vote to keep Trent Lott’s fraternity all white was forty years ago. I believe we may have revisited this obsession of theirs sufficiently by now.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

OK, it's happening:

BuzzFlash is linking this 2001 Stanley Crouch column, which asks the right questions about John Ashcroft's ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens. Talking Points Memo has this teaser about Ashcroft (please, Josh, you've got all those new readers now -- don't leave the question unanswered for long), and Atrios/Eschaton follows up nicely.

Let's keep it going, folks.
I do want to praise The New York Times for this article (from Friday's paper) and this longer article from today's paper about the young Trent Lott's deep involvement with segregationists. Pro-segregation letters from Trent! A pro-segregation letter from Trent's mom! The Times was late to the Lott story, but this is fine work -- uncomfortable history is literally rescued from the vaults.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

"What kind of president would Strom Thurmond have been if he had actually been elected...?

"If he followed his campaign promises, he would have led an administration devoted to letting Southern states keep Negroes — as the better spoken white Southerners of the time, including Mr. Thurmond, called them — in their place."

--Adam Clymer in the Week in Review section of tomorrow's New York Times

Oh please. Not this again.

If you haven't heard it yet -- and clearly Adam Clymer hasn't -- go here and listen to a short excerpt from a 1948 Strom Thurmond speech. He does not use the word "Negro," or even "nigra." It is unmistakable that he refers to "the nigger race."

Friday, December 13, 2002

Undying gratitude to Daily Jetsam, the watch, and Byrd's Brain for recent links.

He may be dying a slow political death, he may have absolutely no moral credibility left, but apparently Trent Lott still has the power to shaft the survivors of the September 11 attacks.

Please recall that last week The New York Times reported that Lott was blocking the families' choice of Warren Rudman for one of the Republican slots on the 9/11 panel. Lott gets to choose a panel member; his choice is subject to a veto by John McCain and Richard Shelby, who are close to the surviving families. The families want Rudman. As of last week, Lott was saying no.

Apparently he's still saying no. Today's Times reported that Lott's appointee still hasn't been named. The due date is Sunday. In fact, as of this morning, three of the GOP appointees hadn't been named.

And now, of course, that number is up to four.

How is it possible for this morally bankrupt son of a bitch to continue to defy these families?
So when do we get to talk about that other prominent Republican official who's done a lot of cozying up to racists -- John Ashcroft?

This is old news for a lot of people, but if you're new to the subject, here's a brief rundown:

When he was in the Senate, Ashcroft gave an interview to the racist magazine Southern Partisan in which he praised the periodical for "defending Southern patriots like [Genral Robert E.] Lee, [General Stonewall] Jackson and [Confederate president Jefferson] Davis." He went on to say, "We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda.'' He told his interviewer, "Your magazine also helps set the record straight.''

(A list of some of the appalling sentiments published in the magazine -- for instance, "Slave owners . . . did not have a practice of breaking up slave families. If anything, they encouraged strong slave families to further the slaves' peace and happiness" -- appears here. And here are photos of a shirt acquired from the Southern Partisan catalog; it depicts Abraham Lincoln and features the words uttered by John Wilkes Booth as he shot Lincoln, "Sic semper tyrannis." Timothy McVeigh was wearing the same shirt when he was arrested.)

As a senator, Ashcroft also met with Thomas Bugel, a member of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens, to find out what he could do to help Dr. Charles T. Sell, a CofCC member charged with plotting to murder an FBI agent.

Gordon Baum, head of the CofCC, praised Ashcroft in a 1999 appearance on CNN's Both Sides with Jesse Jackson:

JACKSON: ...Which national politician could you support today for president?

BAUM: Are you talking about me personally? The organization doesn't support candidates, Jesse.

JACKSON: All right, you.

BAUM: Me personally? I haven't heard him declare, but I think Pat Buchanan probably comes fairly close to us on some of the social and cultural issues. I think...

JACKSON: Who else would be in that circle for you? Pat Buchanan and who else?

BAUM: Probably, he's acknowledged he's not going to run, is our senator, junior senator from here in Missouri, John Ashcroft.

(At the end of last Sunday's Washington Post story on the Strom Thurmond birthday celebration -- when Lott had spoken but hadn't yet apologized -- Baum was quoted as saying, "God bless Trent Lott.")

I know it's the likely outcome, but it will be a shame if Lott goes down (or is permanently disgraced) while Ashcroft's Confederate-symp tendencies are utterly ignored.

Oh, and by the way...

If right-wing bloggers were really as far ahead of us lefties on racial issues as they claim, if their true motive really were purging our politics of bigotry rather than covering their party's collective ass, if they really did care about this stuff even before one of their own got caught, they'd be initiating a campaign to force John Ashcroft into private life. Please notice that they're doing no such thing.

Back in October I said Harvey Pitt wouldn't resign -- I thought the tough-it-out strategy of pedophile-enabling Catholic bishops like Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law had become a template for arrogant conservatives who felt they weren't accountable to anyone. Well, Pitt quit and now Law is resigning. I guess widespread moral outrage still has some effect.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

"Aides: Bush felt duty to denounce Lott

"President Bush's decision to rebuke GOP Senate leader Trent Lott publicly over comments that seemingly endorsed segregation came because the president felt an obligation to speak out, aides said Thursday."

The Orwellian spin from this administration never stops, does it?

"This is a matter of right and wrong that the president felt he simply had to address" -- that's not a direct quote, but that, in effect, is what the aides are saying. But if he felt an "obligation," why the hell did it take him so long to fulfill it?

The network of right-wing ass-kisser Walter Isaacson leads with precisely the spin the Bushies want.
Tapped makes the case that Strom Thurmond came to repudiate his earlier racism -- but that Trent Lott hasn't repudiated that racism.

So maybe we shouldn't be appalled that blacks whose forebears were denied the right to vote in the South will likely serve on on a C-17 airlifter named after Thurmond -- but it will be a disgrace if anything is ever named after Trent Lott
In recent days, Matt Drudge has been saying that HarperCollins is on the verge of signing up Clarence Thomas's memoir (a possible million-dollar book deal, says The Boston Globe). And now comes the scary rumor that Thomas might be Bush’s choice for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

So what a coincidence it is that Thomas chooses this moment to make a strong statement against cross-burning. And what a coincidence that The New York Times front-pages it.

I think Thomas is rebranding himself -- and the Times is carrying his water.

Up to this point, Thomas has been nothing but a reliable hard-right vote on the bench and a walking, breathing fuck-you to liberals: We put this mediocrity on the Court to do everything you hate, and you can't do a damn thing about it. But there's not much stature in being The Guy Who Hardly Ever Says Anything And Always Votes With Scalia. So expect Thomas to keep looking for easy ways to alter his reputation as an empty suit, in time for his book’s publication date and his possible court elevation. (Hey, the man who might elevate him didn’t pretend to grow up until middle age.)

Incidentally, I think it’s quite possible that Bush (and Rove) will decide to elevate Thomas. I’m sure the talking points are ready: Anyone who criticizes Thomas is a racist; anyone who brings up the shafting of Anita Hill gets accused of shafting Paula Jones. And, of course, Thomas was Daddy’s nominee. I bet W. is itching for this fight.

I slag Andrew Sullivan when I get the chance, but in his hopeless struggle to reconcile gay rights with contemporary American conservatism, he posts some fairly good stuff -- like a reader’s letter about Douglas Kmiec, a likely Bush appeals court nominee, that discusses an article Kmiec published in the Los Angeles Times in 1997 with the incredibly patronizing title "Gays Need the Helping Hand of Counseling."

Give Kmiec a tiny bit of credit: Judging from the excerpts quoted in the letter, he’s one of the few right-wing gay-bashers who is at least somewhat consistent in his sex-fear -- he chides straights, too, saying, rather apocalyptically, that condoning sex outside of marriage leads either to a generation of violent, illiterate, unwanted bastards or to no kids at all. But I guess he still knows who the real enemy is -- the letter-writer says he "approvingly" quotes the English barrister William Blackstone’s statement that "the very mention of homosexual sodomy [is] a disgrace to human nature and a crime not fit to be named." As the letter-writer says, "Is murder, for example less of an offense than consenting homosexual sex since it is obviously worthy of being ‘named?’"

By the way, a Web search reveals that Kmiec was one of several dozen law professors to sign "A Statement on the Definition of Marriage from Law Professors Across the World," an attempt to persuade lawmakers in the Netherlands not to grant full marriage rights to gay people in their own country. Don’t these meddlesome bastards have anything better to do?
"By the way, Bob Herbert thinks Trent Lott should stay. Doesn't that tell you something?" --Andrew Sullivan at 1:01:18 this morning

Yeah, Andy, it tells me that you either can't read or can't understand sarcasm -- or that you deliberately want to deceive the readers of your blog. Sure, you provide a link to the Bob Herbert column in question, but you're hoping that most of your fans won't click on it and see what Herbert really said:

"There are calls now for the ouster of Trent Lott as the Senate Republican leader. I say let him stay. He's a direct descendant of the Dixiecrats and a first-rate example of what much of his party has become."

"Keep him in plain sight. His presence is instructive. As long as we keep in mind that it isn't only him."

In other words, let him stay because cutting a decayed pinky off a week-old corpse does nothing to stop the corpse's rot. (The gentlemanly Herbert wouldn't put it that way, but I will.)

Joshua Micah Marshall is all over the Trent Lott story at Talking Points Memo. Not only does he denounce Lott's dishonesty about the Council of Concerned Citizens on Sean Hannity's radio show (with a richer set of supporting documentation than mine), he uncovers new embarrassments about Lott -- an amicus brief in support of Bob Jones University, plus a slap in the face to Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, the three civil rights workers killed in Mississippi in 1964. KEEP THE PRESSURE ON, JOSH.
Well, my bad -- Ann Coulter is writing about Augusta, not Trent Lott. Much easier to bash The New York Times this way, I guess.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Sean Hannity tried to save Trent Lott's bacon on his show today, and Drudge, being a good right-wing apparatchik, posts the transcript of the interview on his site. There's a lot to be angry about, but here's the truly shameless part:

HANNITY: I want you to just--to address this one issue that has been brought up by your critics. You had this controversy some years ago. You spoke to a group called the Concerned Citizens Council [sic]. You want to explain that? What, if any, relationship do you or did you have with that organization, which has been accused of having racist points of view?

LOTT: Well, the event they are talking about, I presume, was an open forum for candidates running for public office. And the public was invited, the media was invited. This was not a closed thing. There were Democrats and Republicans there, and African-Americans there. And it was one of those events that you have almost every two years when you have important elections at a small community--you have them all over the state.

You don't usually ask who's sponsoring this thing. Now, in this case, I knew some of the people that were involved, but I also knew that a lot of political candidates were going there, and I said, you know, the things that we support in terms of opportunity for people there that I'd say anyplace else. But the main thing was, it was an open forum.

First off, the correct name is Council of Conservative Citizens, Sean.

Now for the truth. Here's The New York Times, in 1999, on Lott's ties to the CofCC:

One of the Mississippi council's major events is the Black Hawk rally, held in Carroll County before elections every four years and a mandatory stop for most politicians seeking statewide or county office. It was originally a fund-raiser for the white Citizens Council, but is now used to raise money for the all-white Carroll Academy, which was set up to avoid desegregation.

Lord, the events organizer, said Lott had appeared at the last two rallies.

A black state legislator, Rep. Willie Perkins, a Democrat whose district crosses several counties around Greenwood, said in a telephone interview that he had been invited to the last event in 1995, but refused to attend because "it takes you back to the days of the Klan."

In 1992, Lott gave the keynote speech to a semiannual national board meeting of the council in Greenwood. The account in The Citizens Informer said he wound up by saying: "The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in the right direction and our children will be the beneficiaries."

As recently as 1997, a smiling Lott was pictured in The Citizens Informer in his Washington office with Baum, the council's executive officer, Lord, the state organizer, and Tom Dover, the group's president.

Literature distributed by the council cites endorsements by a number of conservative politicians....

The endorsement attributed to Lott says, "America needs a national organization to mobilize conservative, patriotic citizens to help protect our flag, Constitution and other symbols of freedom."

Lott's newspaper column, which is distributed by his office as a release, is also a regular feature of The Citizen Informer.

LeanLeft has a list of fourteen columns Lott published in the CofCC newsletter, plus other information.

Merely for deviously, meretriciously trying to deny his deep ties to the CofCC, Lott should resign.

Here's the platform of Strom Thurmond's States Rights Democratic Party, courtesy of The Smoking Gun. Start with paragraph #4, indicated by the handy red arrow, if you still think these folks were motivated primarily by an abstract distaste for government centralization ("We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race"). (Thanks to Eschaton for the link.)

And, as the Daily Howler points out, Thurmond doesn't say "nigra" in the 1948 speech excerpted here as an audio clip -- he says "nigger."

And yet the Air Force is going to name a C-17 airlifter after Thurmond, UPI reports. To the present and future servicemen and servicewomen who are descendants of those Thurmond fought so hard to keep disenfranchised, this is a slap in the face.
Tapped writes:

It looks like pressure is building on Lott, and we expect to start hearing some calls soon from both Democrats and Republicans for him to resign as Senate majority leader.... [W]hile a lot of conservatives may call for his ouster because they think he's a clueless buffoon and the wrong face for the party, something else is going to be in play here. For years, hard-core conservative groups have pushed their allies in the Senate to give Lott the boot. Among really conservative Republicans, Lott is viewed as too much of an accomodationist and deal-maker. They'd rather have someone like Sen. Don Nickles -- who's been breathing down Lott's neck for the past four years -- in charge. Tapped has a feeling that some of these folks, like the Family Research Council, sense a twofer in the offing: Earn some anti-racist cred with the public, and finally get rid of Lott, too.

Not a twofer -- they're looking for a threefer. In addition to appearing anti-racist and dumping someone they think isn't feral enough, they think they'll get to whine about "political correctness" and "witch hunts" based on "speech codes" promulgated by the "liberal media." This future Line of the Day has already shown up in a column at the looney-right NewsMax Web site ("Lott finds himself once again in the crosshairs of the Democratic racial sensitivity police"; thanks to the Mahablog for the link). The line will probably be road-tested further in Ann Coulter's column tomorrow; if Lott gives up the leadership position, expect "centrist" pundits to be reciting it on prime-time cable and Sunday network talk shows very, very soon.
"What more do I need to say? Conservative books sell. I can’t help it if liberal books don’t sell." --Newt Gingrich, 1995

Not so fast. Barnes & Noble just announced its top 100 books of the year (or, strictly speaking, for January of this year through the end of November).

The best showing for a right-wing political book is the #38 placement of Bernard Goldberg's Bias. (Ann Coulter's Slander is at #54.)

But Michael Moore beats them both. He has B&N's best-selling political book of the year, Stupid White Men, at #27.


Front-page story in today's New York Post: U.S. WARNS IRAQ: WE'LL NUKE YOU

Front-page story in today's USA Today: U.S. set to use [land]mines in Iraq

Gosh, it's going to be such a splendid little war. What could us handwringing liberal appeasers be worried about?

In an odd way, the landmines piss me off more than the nukes. I'll give Bush the benefit of the doubt -- the standard use of the nuclear threat by U.S. presidents since the end of World War II has been to warn other countries off the use of their own military might. But landmines have no similar deterrent effect -- no one holds fire out of fear that the other side will use landmines. And we do use them -- we don't merely brandish them, as we do nukes. This, in the world's eyes, puts us in the category of war criminals, not without reason.

If we're the good guys on the planet, as we regularly insist, we shouldn't use weapons that kill (or blow the legs off) noncombatants, especially children, far more often than they do the same to soldiers, and often long after the end of hostilities. And if we're by far the world's dominant power, we shouldn't need to.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Bloggers and other online writers have done an amazing job keeping the heat on Trent Lott after his unconscionable remarks in praise of Strom Thurmond's 1948 Dixiecrat presidential campaign. There's not much I can add to what's been written and posted elsewhere -- although you may be interested to see just how decisively Thurmond won Lott's home state of Mississippi in 1948. Here are the vote totals, from my trusty World Almanac:

Strom Thurmond (States' Rights) 167,538

Harry Truman (Democrat) 19,384

Thomas Dewey (Republican) 5,043

Henry Wallace (Progressive) 225

This was Thurmond's most decisive victory. (He also won Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina.)

And let's state the obvious: Lott said, "When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him." He meant, of course, "we white people." Blacks, needless to say, could not participate.

And if you still haven't seen it, here's the Mississippi sample ballot sent out by the Dixiecrats in the state. Shameful.
"We are something of a toothless tiger, especially when it comes to dealing with a dealer," said a ranking bureau official. Referring to the National Rifle Association, the official said, "That's the way Congress and the N.R.A. have wanted it."

The bureau's powers were limited by a 1986 law, the Gun Owners' Protection Act, passed with N.R.A. support, that reduced record-keeping violations to a misdemeanor from a felony. As a result, federal prosecutors often show little interest in going after rogue gun dealers.

Moreover, the bureau is not permitted to suspend or fine a problem dealer. Instead, it must initiate a complex regulatory process to revoke the dealer's license, which can take years.

"The truth is," said Martha Tebbenkamp, a spokeswoman for the bureau in Seattle, "even if a dealer is indicted, he can still keep his license until he is convicted, and then he can stay in business until all his appeals are exhausted."

That's from an article in yesterday's New York Times about Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the scofflaw gun shop from which the rifle used in the Beltway sniper shooting spree was either illegally purchased or stolen (with no apparent attempt by the shop to document the loss as the law requires).

If you've supported the ongoing efforts to undermine the enforcement of our gun laws, you have the blood of the Beltway snipers' victims on your hands. It's as simple as that.

Monday, December 09, 2002

The New York Times may be unable to bring itself to report Trent Lott's remarks at the birthday celebration for Strom Thurmond, and The Washington Post may be similarly derelict, but once upon a time these papers actually deigned to tell their readers that Lott had ties to the racist Council of Conservative Citizens:

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who last week claimed "no firsthand knowledge" of the controversial Council of Conservative Citizens, six years ago told the group's members they "stand for the right principles and the right philosophy."...

--Thomas B. Edsall, "Lott Renounces White 'Racialist' Group He Praised in 1992," Washington Post, December 16, 1998

If, as Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has insisted for a month, he has "no first-hand knowledge" of the views of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which calls itself pro-white, it comes as news to a lot of people back home, including his Uncle Arnie.

"Trent is an honorary member," said Arnie Watson, a former state senator, tax assessor and currently a member of the council's executive board.

"He's spoken at meetings," added Watson....

--John Kifner, "Lott, and Shadow of a Pro-White Group," New York Times, January 14, 1999

Interestingly, this was right after a midterm election in which Democrats, expected to suffer big losses after the release of the Starr Report, gained seats in Congress. So the courtier press must have felt it was acceptable to scrutinize Republican misdeeds.

Now, of course, we've just finished a midterm election widely interpreted as an ass-kicking by the GOP. So the courtier press will not besmirch the reputation of the Republican leader of the Senate.

Anyone have a better explanation?

(By the way, Lott has now apologized, sort of.)

Idiots like Ann Coulter and Ron Rosenbaum insist that no one on the left will denounce the intolerance of Islamic religious extremists. Maybe they should try actually reading Katha Pollitt instead of smugly and ignorantly denouncing her as That Awful Woman Who Hates The Flag. Here’s the opening of her current column in The Nation:

The war between religious fanaticism and secular modernity is fought over women's bodies. Feminists have been saying this for years, not that anyone important was listening, but the Miss World riots in Kaduna, Nigeria, should make it obvious even to the dead white males at the Washington Post. Muslims, already on edge due to the presence in their country of so many lovelies on display, were apparently driven out of their minds by journalist Isioma Daniel's suggestion in the Lagos-based newspaper ThisDay that Mohammed "would probably have chosen a wife among them." By the time the smoke cleared and the bloody knives were put away, the local offices of the paper had been destroyed; more than 200 people, mostly Christian, had been murdered; hundreds more had been injured; and at least 4,500 left homeless. Nothing for the contestants to worry about, though: According to President Olusegun Obasanjo, "It could happen any time irresponsible journalism is committed against Islam." When in doubt, blame free speech.

Pollitt is an old-school secular humanist who regularly denounces better-dead-than-secular religious extremists of all faiths. She knows that the sacred texts of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all subject women to subordinate status -- and she also knows that interpretations of these texts can change to accommodate societal liberalization, the sort of evolution she’d like to see more of in Islam.

Coulter would turn up her nose at Pollitt’s feminism -- she's a feminist only when feminism gives her a means to bash a Democrat or justify a GOP war. Rosenbaum, on the other hand, who is, whether likes to think so or not, a left/liberal on feminist issues, would find himself in agreement with Pollitt, I think -- if he chose to read her. Too bad he never will.
"So here's a simple test for Republicans and conservative pundits. Will they call Lott on this excrescence? Or are they exactly what some on the Left accuse them of?"

Andrew Sullivan wrote that early this morning.

Right now, Matt Drudge is providing his answer, with two headlines:

Jesse Jackson calls for Lott's resignation in wake of remarks on Thurmond...


To Drudge's core audience, Jackson and Sharpton are race-baiting buffoons, not to be taken seriously, ever. Drudge is telling his audience that this is a big joke.

If this is genuinely a surprise to Sullivan, he's even more naive than I thought he was.
Gratifyingly, an editorial in today's New York Times slams the wingnut Republican back-benchers who are blocking efforts to secure and destroy chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in the former Soviet bloc.

Max Cleland was equated with Saddam and Osama, but these genuine menaces to civilization haven't been. There's no justice.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

The feds searched Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington, on Wednesday, as well as the home of its owner, Brian Borgelt. Bull's Eye once owned a Bushmaster rifle used in the recent Beltway sniper shootings, and Lee Malvo, the seventeen-year-old charged with the killings along with John Muhammad, had been seen in the shop by two employees.

Back in October, The Seattle Times reported that Borgelt told a newspaper that Muhammad had bought a Bushmaster from him, then told investigators that he thought the rifle was stolen. It would have been illegal for Borgelt's shop to sell a gun to Muhammad, who had an order of protection filed against him, or to Malvo, a minor; if the gun was stolen, a failure to report it missing within forty-eight hours would also have been a violation of the law.

But why should Brian Borgelt have given a damn about the law?

The Seattle Times reported on Saturday that since 1995 Bull's Eye has failed "three federal inspections in which investigators couldn't find scores of guns as well as forms they need to track criminals" -- but was let off with a warning each time by the ATF.

But there's nothing surprising to me in all this. Back on July 22, 1999, The New York Times published an article titled "Limits on Power and Zeal Hamper Firearms Agency." I read it then and it's made me furious ever since:

The bureau [ATF], an arm of the Treasury Department, was created with limited power, has existed under constant threat of attack by the National Rifle Association, has been kept short-staffed and has to enforce laws often written to make prosecutions difficult.

An examination of the bureau also shows a major distinction in its approach to the job. Historically, it has arrested a sizable number of criminals who use guns in robberies or drug sales, particularly career criminals with three or more convictions. These are considered safe cases that do not arouse N.R.A. opposition.

Until recently, the bureau has been less aggressive in what is now being recognized as a critical part of gun control: going after illegal gun traffickers and the small number of corrupt dealers, among the 104,855 federally licensed dealers, who supply guns to criminals and juveniles.

While half of all crime guns traced by the A.T.F. in the past two years were linked to just 389 dealers, only 42 dealers were recommended for prosecution last year, and only 19 had their licenses revoked.

''There is not a whole lot of vigor in gun enforcement,'' said Julius Wachtel, who retired last year after 23 years as a firearms agent. When it comes to investigating dealers, traffickers or gun shows, he said, the agents have a saying: ''No cases, no waves. Little cases, little waves. Big cases, big waves. All those years of being hammered by Congress have had a chilling effect.''

So when investigators found weapons missing and unaccounted for, and transaction files gone or stuffed behind the cash register, why did Borgelt have to worry?

And there's more. Court records made public Friday reveal, according to The Seattle Times, "that Bull's Eye had one or two guns stolen or routinely disappear from its tables at weekend gun shows it attended."

Oh, and Borgelt lives in a $400,000 house, but hasn't filed personal income tax returns for the past eight years.

The story of Bull's Eye should be on the front page of every newspaper in America. And the people who insist that we merely need to enforce our existing gun laws while undermining the very people who enforce those laws should hang their heads in shame.

Friday, December 06, 2002

A man in Portland, Oregon, reportedly said in a bar that "God might speak to the world through a burning Bush,'' and talked about someone possibly pouring a flammable liquid on the president and lighting it. That kind of idle chatter got the poor bastard thirty-seven months in prison.

Thirty-seven months?
In one 24-hour period we learned that Trent Lott (a) opposes -- and is blocking -- the 9/11 survivors' choice of Warren Rudman as a member of the committee that will investigate the terrorist attacks and (b) still thinks Strom Thurmond's explicitly segregationist Dixiecrat bid for the presidency in 1948 was a good idea ("I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't of had all these problems over all these years, either") (scroll down). And is this a scandal? No. John Kerry's haircut -- that's a scandal.
Is Ann Coulter afraid of losing her precious law license, and the bragging rights it affords her in the pundit wars (hey she’s not a dumb guttermouth, she’s an attorney!)? After reading her third recent column on the Central Park jogger case (the first two are here and here), I can’t help wondering.

She doesn’t want the verdicts in the case overturned. Her beef, it seems, is with Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, who yesterday asked a judge to overturn all of them. Yet she never criticizes Morgenthau -- she’d rather blame the effort to overturn the verdicts on liberals, or on The New York Times, or on the Innocence Project (which seems to have little or nothing to do with the case). Would aiming one of her typical ad hominem verbal muggings at a fellow lawyer, particularly an esteemed district attorney, violate legal ethics? I’m not a lawyer -- I don’t really know. Nevertheless, I’m sure she believes she has Right and Truth on her side, and if so, shouldn’t she have the guts to criticize the person actually responsible for what she sees as an injustice, consequences be damned?

The full text of Morgenthau’s filing is available as a PDF file here. I wish every Coulter fan would read it.

Here’s Coulter, in her first column on the subject:

…the new DNA tests are also consistent with the version of events presented in court, subjected to attack by defense counsel, and believed unanimously by two multiracial juries…. No new evidence contradicts the five guilty verdicts.

Here’s Coulter, in her second column on the subject:

In the words of the criminal defense bar's sock puppet at the New York Times, Reyes had committed a "nearly identical crime" nearby days earlier. "Nearly identical" evidently refers to the fact that both crimes were: (1) rapes, (2) in a park. That's where the similarity ends.

Here’s Morgenthau:

A self-confessed and convicted serial rapist -- who habitually stalked white women in their 20's; who attacked them, beat them, and raped them; who always robbed his victims, and frequently stole Walkmans; who tied one of his victims in a fashion much like the Central Park jogger; who lived on 102nd Street; who beat and raped a woman in Central Park two days before the attack on the transverse; whose DNA was the only DNA recovered inside and alongside the victim; whose narrative of events is corroborated in a number of significant ways; who had no connection to the defendants or their cohorts; and who committed all his sex crimes alone -- has come forward to say that he alone stalked, attacked, beat, raped, and robbed a white woman in her 20's, who was set upon on the 102nd Street transverse, was missing her Walkman, and was left tied in a way that has never before been explained. Had this evidence been available, the defendants' attorneys would have had an arguably compelling alternative to the People's theory of the case.

Read the filing if you don’t believe that Morgenthau backs this up, and thus makes an extraordinarily strong case for vacating at least the convictions relating to the jogger.

POSTSCRIPT: In the new column, Coulter calls the five convicted men "animals" twice, "savages" once, and "beasts" once. Here’s her racism scorecard for the three columns:

"savages": five occurrences

"animals" five occurrences

"beasts": two occurrences (once "feral beasts")

"primitives": one occurrence

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Many, many thanks (in some cases quite belated) to Anti-Coulter, Dr. Limerick, Drunken Ravings, Eschaton, and Michael Finley’s Future Shoes, pixelforge, P.L.A., Plucky Punk, reading & writing, TBOGG (again) and Two Tears in a Bucket for links and kind e-mails.
"I am extremely concerned about the consequences of this intervention on the Iraqi people. I am particularly concerned that weapons of mass destruction could be used again by the Iraqi regime against the people if there should be any opposition or uprising.

"The Iraqi people could pay the price of this war, as they have paid the price of sanctions and all the previous wars."

Uh-oh -- another loathsome sixties-throwback apologist for evildoers? Nope. The speaker is Hussain al-Shahristani, a onetime nuclear scientist who refused to work on Saddam’s weapons program and spent eleven years in prison being tortured by the Iraqi regime. Al-Shahristani was chosen by the British government to present its recent report on the horrors of Saddam’s Iraq, but, according to yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times, he used the occasion to make two obvious points: (1) yes, Saddam is one vicious S.O.B., but (2) war is not a tidy clinical process of replacing pure evil with pure good -- especially when the self-proclaimed good guys have a history of enabling the evildoers:

"When I was in jail, I was held with British-made handcuffs. In the cells next door, I could hear the screams of people who were having holes drilled into their bones. Those drills were made in Britain."

It would be nice if some TV booker would arrange a face-to-face between al-Shahristani and Ron Rosenbaum, or Andrew Sullivan, or David Horowitz. It would be doubly nice if the interviewer had the cojones to ask Ron or Andy or Davey whether he could look al-Shahristani in the eye and call him a "fifth columnist."

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

After reading Matt Drudge’s story about the cost of Senator John Kerry’s haircuts, I began to wonder about the spending habits of the man Kerry wants to run against in 2004, George W. Bush. Not surprisingly, Bush has announced that he gets his hair trimmed at (relatively) earthbound prices. Unlike Bush, of course, Kerry has truly terrific hair -- you can understand that he might want to treat it well. What does Bush possess that he might want to treat the same way?

Cowboy boots, perhaps?

(UPDATE: Sorry -- what follows is a misreading of the article; it was actually Bush's father who was the boot buyer. To some extent, of course, the point still stands.)

I did some Web searches and found a 1999 Las Vegas Review-Journal story in which Bush was reported (scroll down) to have once purchased boots from Loveless, a bootmaker based in Oklahoma City.

I wondered what those Loveless boots could have cost Bush. A few clicks brought me to this price list at

The cheapest boots listed are $550 -- for that price, you can get them in Mulehide, Waterbuffalo, African Wildebeast, Frenchcalf, Camel, or Spanish Bullhide. Armadillo boots are $850; Anteater boots are $1,300. For $3,550, you can get boots made of African Hornback Crocodile (tops and bottoms).

I guess there’s been some inflation in the years since Bush bought his Loveless boots, but even so, it’s hard to see how economical a Loveless purchase could have been.

Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about replacing some boots of my own -- hiking boots. The boots I’m looking at cost a lot less than Loveless boots. The prices I’m looking at range from $39.99 to $165.

Yes, Bush is a Texan who owns a ranch. However, in his real job he works at a desk -- just like me.

Do you think anyone makes hiking boots in African Hornback Crocodile?
It says here that the top-rated show on the Fox News Channel, Bill O’Reilly’s O’Reilly Factor, has an average viewership of 2.65 million people; Hannity & Colmes draws 1.65 million. Alex S. Jones in The New York Times says these are "huge" numbers. These are not huge numbers. These are PAX network numbers. Oh, OK -- O’Reilly does beat everything in the PAX primetime lineup handily. But Hannity does only slightly better than PAX’s top ratings-getter, Doc, starring former country music flash-in-the-pan Billy Ray Cyrus and his mullet; the numbers are here. (Please note that a show with a genuinely "huge" audience -- Will & Grace, say -- draws an audience ten times as large as Hannity’s.)

This is not to say that Fox’s small niche market doesn’t matter. It matters a lot -- for the simple reason that the voting population of this country, particularly in non-presidential elections, is itself a small niche market. Not a lot of us vote, and not a lot of us think about politics much, and right now a statistically significant percentage of the people who do vote and think about politics a lot are people who think Hillary Clinton is more evil than Saddam Hussein or Adolf Eichmann.

The commentators currently trying to figure out why Fox is beating CNN in the ratings don’t really understand what’s going on -- Jones, in the Times, seems out-and-out flummoxed; Neil Swidey, writing a Bill O’Reilly profile/love letter in The Boston Globe, thinks O’Reilly’s appeal is that he’s just so, well ... compelling; even the best of the think pieces on Fox to appear in the last couple of days, from Michael Wolff in New York magazine, suggests that Fox’s strength is simply an appealing us-versus-them pugnaciousness rather than a specific political message that seems profound and inspirational to people who think it’s a knee-slapper to spell the former vice president’s name "Algore."

Two years ago, at a time when hanging chads were being examined in Florida, Robert Wright wrote a column in Slate called "Mad as Hell." Wright never mentioned Fox -- few pundits did in 2000 -- but, without knowing it, he explained the secret of Fox’s appeal, a secret Jones, Swidey, and Wolff are still groping for:

Conservatives are an angrier group than liberals. It's conservatives, after all, who have Rush Limbaugh. Liberals sometimes mourn the absence of a left-wing Limbaugh, as if this void signified a spiritual energy crisis. I personally think it's a sign of mental health..... [T]he fact is that it is Republicans, not Democrats, who depend on a sizeable bloc of voters whose defining characteristic is heated intolerance of people different from themselves (e.g., homosexuals).

Even though I believe in anger a bit more than Wright does, I think he basically nails it.

Monday, December 02, 2002

In her vile October 17 column on the Central Park jogger case, Ann Coulter suggested that New York Times reporters who accurately noted a DNA match between semen found in the victim and a convicted rapist who was never charged in the attack were "looking for the next Scottsboro Boys case" -- were looking, in other words, for an "exoneration" of the five young men convicted of the attack.

What the Times is actually looking for is what everyone in New York City would like to find -- the truth, which remains elusive. A lengthy but incomplete effort at reconstructing the night in question was published in Sunday’s Times, with a follow-up today.

Coulter says liberals (among whom she includes all Times reporters) "long to claim that every criminal is innocent" -- but what the Times gives us is hardly a portrait of innocence. From Sunday’s story:

"One of the most intriguing new views of the case rises from the reconstruction of the sequence of events. By establishing that the teenagers were part of a crowd that was bothering or beating other people during the critical time of the rape, the reconstruction provides them with an alibi that is plausible, if not airtight, and certainly unsavory.

" ‘That was the issue,’ said Peter Rivera, Mr. Santana’s lawyer in 1990. ‘But we didn't say, "No, when the jogger was raped, my client was on 96th Street, mugging someone else." That would have been self-defeating.’ "

From today’s story:

"But though investigators no longer can be sure whether the youths raped the jogger, few of those reviewing the case question whether the teenagers were involved in the other crimes.

"For one thing, many of the police and prosecutors reinvestigating the crimes say, the teenagers were undoubtedly part of the pack of about 35 youths who rampaged through the park that night."

Today’s story includes several paragraphs of testimony from attack victims other than the jogger. It’s not hard to draw the conclusion that the Times reporters believe the five men convicted of the rape were indeed guilty of other violent attacks.

Ann Coulter readers who don’t read the Times know nothing of this. Keeping them ignorant is a huge part of Coulter’s job.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

"I still think forced integration was a mistake. As a government action, I think it was detrimental to whites and blacks. And left alone, it'd have come along -- if you look at the football teams in North Carolina, I tell you, there's scarcely any room for a white boy on 'em!"

--Senator Jesse Helms -- still talking like this -- from an interview published in the December 2, 2002, issue of New York magazine

So I don't want to hear another damn word out of you, Sean Hannity, or you, Ann Coulter, about Robert Byrd.