December 22, 2002
LAURENCE SIMON is deeply unimpressed with Time’s “Person of the Year” picks.
LAURENCE SIMON is deeply unimpressed with Time’s “Person of the Year” picks.
AFTER A HIATUS OF SORTS, Gary Farber is back, and blogging up a storm. Who knew that marijuana legalization was a big electoral issue in Israel?
I’VE GOTTEN A LOT OF EMAIL about the WTC Baseball stadium idea. I wasn’t really serious about it, but then it’s hard to believe that people were serious about some of the other offerings. A lot of people seem to like the concept, to my surprise, though the idea of the “Manhattan Dodgers” seems to upset some folks. Hey, it’s better than L.A., isn’t it? Maybe not.
UPDATE: Ack — Alec Baldwin already suggested this! Well, I did say it was “dumb.”
THANKS FOR HITTING THE PAYPAL BUTTON. I just used some of the money to order the video-blogging software that Jeff Jarvis is experimenting with, so stay tuned. But I just noticed a couple of contributions from fellow bloggers. I admit I’ve hit a few people’s tipjars when they seemed hard up, but I’m not hard up — and bloggers donating to bloggers seems like taking in each other’s wash or something. So keep it, or give it to a Santa with a kettle, or something. (Or follow these suggestions.)
Also, here’s a note for anyone seeking anonymity: Amazon doesn’t tell me who donates. Paypal does.
WISHFUL THINKING at the New York Times. I think that Phillippe de Croy is right about this.
INNOCENTS ABROAD has multiple posts, mostly critical, of the New York Times’ coverage of Frist’s elevation.
EVERYBODY ELSE IS WEIGHING IN on the World Trade Center site plans. Jeff Jarvis even weighed in by videoblog. So here’s my thought:
Build a baseball stadium. What’s more American than a baseball park? And what’s cooler than one right by Wall Street? That’s double-barrelled Americanism. And it would help bring people to Lower Manhattan at night.
If only you could get the Dodgers to play there, it would be perfect.
Okay, it’s a dumb idea — but no dumber than a lot of ideas I’ve heard. And it would be cheaper, and you could get hot dogs there.
UPDATE: Baseball blogger David Pinto loves the idea.
Say, if every fantasy sports discussion board starts pushing this, it could happen.
AL QAEDA IN EDINBURGH: Joel Rosenberg has a report from Ken MacLeod.
PUNDITWATCH is up! Trent Lott and Patty Murray are the big stories, but there’s more.
I can’t find a transcript yet, but I caught part of Wolf Blitzer’s rather ingratiating interview with Saudi Prince al Faisal and was surprised to hear the Prince say that in the event of combat “the gods of war” will determine the outcome.
The “gods of war?” I thought there was, you know, supposed to be only one God, Allah, with Mohammed as his prophet. Isn’t the Koran kind of hard on polytheists?
I also caught George Stephanopoulos grilling Howard Dean, and thought that Stephanopoulos did pretty well, while Dean was visibly waffling in response to some rather pointed questions.
UPDATE: Here’s the transcript, and here’s the key passage:
BLITZER: Relatively speaking. They refer to the liberation of Kuwait, which was done 40 days of air war, four days of a ground war. Kuwait was liberated with a relatively modest number of casualties.
S. AL-FAISAL: And that was because of the unanimity in the international community and the joining of the battle of so many countries in the world that affected even the Iraqi soldiers who were fighting the war.
BLITZER: So you don’t believe that they can repeat that?
S. AL-FAISAL: Who knows? Once you start war, it’s in the hand of the gods of war.
The “gods of war.” Hmm. That doesn’t sound very Wahhabist to me.
DR. MANHATTAN HAS more on Thimerosal.
CELEBRITIES WE “LOVE TO LOATHE:”
The list includes:
* “Bowling for Columbine” director Michael Moore (No. 42), who “wears his dissident credentials not on his sleeve, but on his head and his waistline: his mesh baseball cap and fat body are now the leading brand-ID marker for political discontent among the narrow, incestuous ‘enlightened left’ demographic.”
UPDATE: Here’s the full list, courtesy of reader Damon Chetson. I went to the site and couldn’t find it — apparently they’re having archive troubles.
HERE’S A GOOD IDEA: President Bush’s Message to the Iranian People seems to set the right tone. Excerpt:
For many years, the United States has helped bring news and cultural broadcasts for a few hours every day to the Iranian people via Radio Freedom. Yet the Iranian people tell us that more broadcasting is needed, because the unelected few who control the Iranian government continue to place severe restrictions on access to uncensored information. So we are now making our broadcast available to more Iranians by airing news and music and cultural programs nearly 24 hours a day, and we are pleased to continue Voice of America and VOA TV services to Iran.
The people of Iran want to build a freer, more prosperous country for their children, and live in a country that is a full partner in the international community. Iranians also deserve a free press to express themselves to help build an open, democratic and free society.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Iranian people, particularly the families of the many Iranians who are in prison today for daring to express their hopes and dreams for a better future. We continue to stand with the people of Iran in your quest for freedom, prosperity, honest and effective government, judicial due process and the rule of law. And we continue to call on the government of Iran to respect the will of its people and be accountable to them.
As I have said before, if Iran respects its international obligations and embraces freedom and tolerance, it will have no better friend than the United States of America.
I think that this supports the speculation around the Blogosphere that the Administration is pursuing a broader strategy than all the Iraq-chatter suggests. In fact, it may be that the Iraq-chatter is, in part, designed to keep people from noticing just how broad the strategy really is.
NOW IT’S MICHAEL BARONE crediting the blogosphere for Trent Lott’s ouster. I do think that weblogs — particularly Josh Marshall’s — played an important role in getting the story noticed. But I think that the anger of black Republicans, which started the instant Lott made his remarks, would have ensured that the issue broke through eventually.
IF HE’S SO SMART, WHY ISN’T AOL RICH? Jeff Jarvis writes:
Imagine if AOL had actually sent out some Warner Bros. songs or movie trailers on all those CD-roms over the years; people might have actually welcomed them instead of ridiculed them.
The answer is that Jarvis doesn’t work for AOL. Nor, apparently, does anyone as smart as Jeff. They should hire him (at an appropriately huge salary, of course) to turn their business around with insights like this.
DOES MAUREEN DOWD MEAN to call President Bush and Karl Rove “Butcher Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?” That seems rather nasty, and it’s a rather insensitively loaded term in wartime, isn’t it?
Speaking of insensitivity, note that although Dowd is careful to slip in that Bill Frist has been “scolded for racial insensitivity,” she doesn’t bother to say by whom, or for what. (A classic New York Times use of passive voice — Bill Hobbs explains this canard.) But that’s the folks at Old Media: presented with real “racial insensitivity” — as in Trent Lott’s case — they don’t even recognize it until someone else points it out. That’s because they’re too used to it as an invented item to even think about the real thing.
This is a lame effort, even by the standards of Maureen Dowd’s recent work.
UPDATE: Reader Gerald Berke suggests that I have it backward, and that the “butcher” point is aimed at Rove, not Bush — though he rather spoils it by then suggesting that nobody who’s massing troops for war should mind being called a butcher. (Is there anyone more bloody-minded than an antiwar liberal? They all seem to think the goal of war is killing, rather than winning. But that’s a topic for another post.) Berke’s snippiness notwithstanding, he’s probably right here — at least, it’s hard to imagine Dowd passing up an opportunity to call Bush a “kid,” in the apparent hope that if she says it often enough people will suddenly confuse him with Dan Quayle. How much better this makes Dowd look is a matter of opinion.
UPDATE: Reader and movie critic Bob Patterson offers this explanation of what Dowd was about:
The new film “Gangs of New York” contains a character Bill “the Butcher” Cutting (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) and “the Butcher” is (according to the NY Times review) a “swaggering monster.”
The film is a leading contender for Oscar consideration, but it is only being shown at theaters in Los Angeles and New York City.
Perhaps Ms. Dowd was overly anxious to display her command of the culture vulture hip/chic contemporary scene by making a comparison to this new film.
Folks who do not have ready access to this bit of cinema will not get the (possible) allusion.
[I, for one have issues with this "elitism" aspect of the Oscar season and will be writing a column about that in the near future. (On Friday, December 20, 2002 the USA Today newspaper listed the five leading contenders for Best Picture. Of the five, one "The Two Towers" had been out for about two days. Two, "Gangs of New York" and "Antwone Fisher" were coming out that day (at least in New York and L. A. as far as "Gangs" is concerned. The other two will be out in a few days. Is that elitism or what?)]
It would seem that Ms. Dowd is writing of/for/about/ and “to” an audience that is up on the latest “Oscar buzz.”
Again from the New York Times review of “Gangs” New York is “a city full of tribes and war chiefs.” “The Butcher has formed an alliance of convenience with Boss Tweed ([played by] Jim Broadbent), the kingpin of Tammany Hall and together they administer an empire of graft, extortion and larceny.”
It seems likely that Ms. Dowd was hoping that her readers would connect her words with this latest installment of Oscar elitism. Now that you’ve been updated on all the latest inside “Oscar” information, don’t you suddenly feel “groovy” or some such latest term for up to date and hip?
Yeah. Now Dowd’s column seems really “boss.” But an excessive effort to seem “hep” does seem to mark Dowd’s work, so this explanation makes sense.
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE UPDATE: Bill Hobbs is blogging from the Comcast kiosk at the mall near Nashville and reports that business seems slow there, too.
I have to say, that sort of on-the-scene reportage is kind of cool.
UPDATE: Reader Frank Martin writes:
I don’t know where these malls are that are empty, but out here in northern California, our Mall ( roseville galleria ) has been closed twice this week by the fire marshalls due to overcrowding. ( not closed “per se”, but they limited access at the doors to make sure that the crowds stayed limited to within the structures limit)
Today, the “best buy’ had every register open, yet the lines extended past the back of the store. Link.
This is happening while we are in the midst of a series of very large storms.
Keep buying folks, the economy depends on you.
ANDREW SULLIVAN’S $80,000 PLEDGE WEEK has gotten a lot of other bloggers begging for cash. The Acidman is not amused:
Ever since ANDREW SULLIVAN conducted his “Pledge Week” and made damned near $80,000, bloggers everywhere have become panhandlers and squeegie-guys, telling their heart-rending stories of brokeness while pointing to their Pay Pal buttons and tip jars. When hookers do that on the street, they get arrested for the crime of “solicitation.” And the hookers usually offer a more valuable commodity than most blogs do.
This is followed by a stirring tribute to amateurism in the blogosphere. (Uh, yeahhh, that’s exactly what it is. . . .)
I’m all for amateurism. Despite numerous suggestions that I institute a pledge week of my own (my favorite involved a thermometer-like graphic with a 350Z at the top), I won’t be emulating Andrew. I have a dayjob. It pays pretty well — by normal standards, not compared to the obscene amounts of money I’d be making now if I had stayed at the bigshot law firm where I used to work. (And I know exactly how obscene because one of my friends there who stayed and made partner helpfully informs me of what I would be making had I done so. Thanks!) I appreciate the donations — particularly because a nice note with money attached outweighs any number of nasty emails from people who aren’t putting their money where their mouths are. (Message to hatemailers — if you want me to take your hatemail seriously, attach it to a $100 Paypal donation! I promise, I’ll read it.)
But this is a labor of love. It’s free. And it’ll stay that way.
THE “FISKIE AWARD” VOTING is fast-and-furious, with Michael Moore and Jimmy Carter neck-and-neck for first place, followed by such, er, worthies as Ted Rall, Noam Chomsky, the United Nations, and, of course, Jean Chretien. Vote now!
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: Reader (and merchant) Woody Emanuel emails:
I am in retail (classic clothing) and the Saturday before Christmas is traditionally THE busiest shopping day before Christmas. Having just closed for the day, I can report that it was perhaps the slowest Saturday before Xmas I have seen in well over a decade or more.
Well, I was just at the grocery store (bought paper towels; didn’t need Saran wrap) and the parking lot at the big mall across the street was pretty full — but definitely not as full as last year. Woody reports that his business has been slow since November; we’ll see if that reflects the national situation or not soon enough.
UPDATE: SKBUBBA emails that I was there too early today:
We went to West Town today around 11:00 AM. Found easy parking, stores not too crowded. By the time we left around 6:30 it was totally jammed.
You literally couldn’t even walk around in Williams Sonoma. Abercrombie and Fitch had lines four and five deep at every register.
Department stores weren’t quite as crowded, but seemed to be doing brisk business and didn’t seem to have enough people to handle it. They were discounting just about everything.
They were also sold out of a lot of popular stuff. (My favorite Polo shirts were in short supply, and there is not one Calphalon Commercial Non-Stick 10″ omelet skillet in Knoxville except as part of a set. There may be one at Proffitts in Maryville because I returned it yesterday when I saw one $20 cheaper at Bed Bath and Beyond, but by the time I got back there today they were sold out. Moral of the story: bird in hand, etc.).
By the time we left the mall around 6:30 it took us 20 minutes just to get out of the parking lot and more were coming in.
Even Ruby Tuesday was SRO around 3:30 when we took a break. West Town Mall shopping tip: Ruby Tuesday has happy hour all day. Two people can get an appetizer and hammered for about $20 plus tip. After four hours of power shopping it is a welcome respite and good for getting your second wind.
So anyway, I think maybe you left before the masses arrived. It was chaotic by 4:00 or 5:00 PM.
Well, as someone whose salary is paid largely by the sales tax, I hope SKBubba’s right. He’s certainly right about Ruby’s — I had lunch there the other day and noted that, Gawker notwithstanding, “drunk shopping” seems to be more than just a New York thing.
TERRORISM IN LATIN AMERICA: Now this is upsetting.
HMMM. A lot of people will be making something out of this:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — U.S. President George W. Bush has delayed his January trip to Africa in part because of the Iraqi situation, and sources say he is ready to sign off on deploying 50,000 U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf early next month.
Of course, there are lots of things it could mean.
SPEAKING OF BLOGCRITICS, here’s a story on BlogCritics’ request for a DMCA exemption, featuring a photo of Eric Olsen.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT: BlogCritics reports on when we can expect the next Harry Potter book.
THE DOGS THAT AREN’T BARKING: Interesting observation regarding the Iraq inspections, from OxBlog.
NASHVILLE BLOGGER and former Tennessean journalist Bill Hobbs writes that the New York Times is recycling lies about Bill Frist:
Frist would be holding a handful of pencils to distribute and didn’t want to prick himself on one of the sharp points – but his innocuous comment was seized on by the anti-Frist reporters for the Memphis Commercial-Appeal and the Nashville Tennessean as “evidence” that Frist had been racially insensitive.
It was absurd then – a lie propagated by two newspapers that had already endorsed Frist’s opponent, the incumbent Sen. Jim Sasser – and most everyone in the newsroom at The Tennessean, where I worked at the time, knew it and was embarrassed by the story. It is even more absurd now for the NYT to recycle it in an attempt to undercut Frist as he ascends to the post of Senate Majority Leader.
Perhaps the Times will issue a correction, in due course.
I SUPPOSE THE ANTI-GLOBO CROWD WILL BE COMPLAINING about this soon.
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: Frankly, the situation doesn’t look that great. I was at the mall this morning and it seemed no busier than an ordinary Saturday — not like the last Saturday before Christmas. Maybe people have already done their shopping, or maybe they’re doing more of it online (I certainly did) but it certainly wasn’t as busy as it usually is just before Christmas.
Or maybe, as Mike Straka observes, customers are staying away because of bad service. But I have to say, I’ve found the service to be better than usual this Christmas season. The Kaybee toys folks were passing out free cookies, the Williams-Sonoma people were doing superfast free giftwrap, and everyone in every store I visited was pleasant and helpful. Which, now that I think about it, may just be another sign that the Christmas season is going badly.
It’ll be interesting to see if the stats match my impressions.
CATHY YOUNG ON SODOMY LAWS:
It’s amazing to think that in the United States in the 21st century, you can get arrested for something you do in your bedroom with a willing adult partner. But 13 states still criminalize some types of sexual acts; in four of them, “deviate sexual intercourse” is prohibited only between people of the same sex. . . .
Many conservatives who oppose gay marriage, the inclusion of gays in the Boy Scouts, or school programs promoting gay acceptance argue that they are all for tolerance—just against the public recognition of homosexuality as equal in moral stature to the union of man and woman. Whatever one thinks of such a position, sodomy laws would seem to provide these conservatives with the perfect occasion to demonstrate the sincerity of their pro-tolerance stance. For the most part, however, conservative commentators have remained disappointingly silent on Lawrence v. Texas.
Conservatives have long said that they want to get the government off our backs. If that’s a principled stance, they should certainly want to get it out of our beds.
Well, I certainly agree.
I’VE BEEN, WELL, NOT EXACTLY CRITICAL of the claims that the Bush Administration is politicizing government science, but quick to point out that this is a problem that’s been around, well, forever. (Insert obligatory reference to CDC gun-violence studies here.) Nonetheless, I’m disturbed at this report that the CDC is no longer promoting condom use as a response to STDs, even though condoms are highly effective against AIDS. Sure, they’re not perfect protection against everything. But then, seatbelts aren’t perfect protection either, and they promote those.
The problem, of course, is that once the science is politicized and the public health community forfeits much of its public trust, well, the door’s open. I’d like to see the public health establishment focus more on science and less on politics. But then, I wanted that five years ago, too.
UPDATE: Reader Dick Dalfiume emails that concern over the guidelines is overstated, and sends this link to the actual CDC page on the subject. I have to say that I agree with him that the story exaggerates the degree of the change.
I don’t really have much to add to what I said before, really. The Thimerosal/autism connection is, perhaps, not ruled out, but it’s certainly not ruled in. As Dwight says:
The best scientific evidence to date neither proves nor disproves that thimerosal included in childhood vaccines causes autism. The causal relationship, if any, between thimerosal and autism remains an open question. It is a question we should answer though science and not through politics.
I certainly have no argument with that. But that being the case, it seems, ahem, premature for some people (not Dwight, who explicitly disclaims it) to claim that Eli Lilly caused autism and then paid off the GOP to protect it — given that neither part of this statement is supported by, well, any actual evidence.
And TomPaine.Com’s rather slippery efforts to blow this up into a scandal reflect poorly on it, and on the left, which seems nowadays to be recycling black-helicopter theories from the nutty right willy-nilly. Next we’ll be hearing that Bush has millions of Chinese troops stationed just across the border in Mexico, ready to support a coup in which he’ll be installed as dictator.
PATRICK RUFFINI liked The Two Towers better than The Fellowship of the Ring. That puts him in the minority. Then again, he also calls the movie “Rumsfeldian,” which is a description that probably didn’t occur to anyone else.
PATTY MURRAY IS TAKING IT ON THE CHIN regarding her remarks about Osama’s generosity:
Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., a potential Senate opponent in 2004, called Murray’s comments “bizarre” and uninformed. “You have to wonder what country Sen. Murray has been living in since September 11th,” he said.
Murray “seems to know more about Osama bin Laden’s generosity and kindness than she does his hatred for America and his vow to destroy our country,” Nethercutt said.
Nethercutt, who is also talked about as a possible candidate for governor, said he welcomed a chance to debate Murray on bin Laden and other topics.
“I’m sure Washington state voters would like to hear more of Sen. Murray’s very strange view of America and the world,” Nethercutt said.
I’ll bet he does welcome the chance.
ERIN O’CONNOR has been all over the Boalt sexual harassment story. Here’s the latest installment, which features this observation:
Interesting at Boalt how fast it has all moved past the guilt or innocence of a single faculty member (who was never actually charged with anything) to the collective guilt of the entire male faculty, none of whom have (presumably) done anything. Nevertheless, in true Stalinist fashion, this is going to be used as a pretext for punitive measures against them as a group, including the now-usual re-reducation and a de facto hiring and promotion freeze of male faculty. What’s even worse is the supine way this is all being accepted as inevitable.
Stefan Sharkansky has been doing, er, Useful Work, too. Here’s his latest post demonstrating how one-sided and agenda-driven the news coverage of this event has been. And scroll down on his page (and Erin’s) for much, much more on this topic.
My advice to male faculty at Boalt — go somewhere more civilized. You won’t regret it.
THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS AN INTERESTING ARTICLE on the problems facing today’s liberalism in an age of terrorism.
I have to say, though, that while today’s liberalism may be inadequate to current events, I think that the more muscular liberalism of previous decades — the kind favored by the anticommunist Cold War liberals, for example — would have been up to the task. One of the problems facing liberalism is that it has made lefty academics and journalists into its party theoreticians, and they’re not up to the job.
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH does a Bill Frist / Patty Murray comparison that seems, well, a bit cruel.
THE PAYPAL DONATIONS KEEP POURING IN: Thanks, folks. It’s not Andrew-Sullivan-league, but it’s much appreciated.
That people will voluntarily, and pretty much spontaneously, donate money to support something they can get for free says something profound, and probably positive, about human nature. I certainly feel positive about it!
HEH. YOU’VE GOT TO CHUCKLE AT THE TIMING OF THIS DEVELOPMENT:
Sen. Robert Byrd still is looking forward to his big screen debut.
Byrd said he is eagerly awaiting the Feb. 21 premiere of the Civil War movie “Gods and Generals,” which will include his cameo as Confederate Gen. Paul J. Semmes.
ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS have held their own “alternative” Miss World pageant in northern Nigeria.
COLLIN MAY RESPONDS TO PATTY MURRAY:
Until last October I worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. My job was fundraising. I wrote funding requests and financial reports for one donor: the European Union. My division was one of six that secured funding for ICRC activities. Each year our divisions tallied the total amount of donations coming from the various nations and organizations. We then produced a bar graph that listed the largest donors beginning with the most generous. And each year, first place in donations went to one nation: the United States. Indeed, in terms of the bar graph, American contributions towered above all others. Before working for the ICRC, I also worked for the United Nations. The case there was similar to the Red Cross. The US alone stood out ahead of all other donors.
Of course, Murray is correct to note that Osama bin Laden has used his vast family fortune (one he did absolutely nothing to earn) to win converts to his cause. By comparison, the money provided by the American government comes from taxpayers of various degrees of wealth, from American billionaires to the guy selling hot dogs on the street.
And Murray is also correct to point out that America did drop bombs on Afghanistan. But perhaps in her smug wisdom she might go further and ask another question. What were the results of bin Laden’s stewardship in comparison to those American bombs? Again I can refer to my work at the Red Cross. During my time with the ICRC I wrote funding requests and reports on Afghanistan both prior to September 11 and after. Prior to September 11, Afghanistan had experienced periods of sustained drought especially in Ghor province and Herat. This situation was complicated by an interminable civil war. After September 11 and the eventual attack on Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to talk with people who worked directly in Afghanistan. All told me about the incredible change in Afghanistan. Almost overnight, the country went from a land living in fear of the Taliban and al Qaeda operatives to one where children were playing in the streets, often kicking around soccer balls given them by American, British or French soldiers. And what about the activities of the Red Cross? Well, as my source in the field told me, the Red Cross now had access to areas previously prohibited by the Taliban. The humanitarian activities of the Red Cross were ultimately aided by those American bombs. . . .
Incidentally, my source in the field quipped, half jokingly half seriously, “I wish the US would invade a few more countries, it would make our job a hell of a lot easier.” He wasn’t an American by the way.
He may get his wish.
HAS THE INVASION OF IRAQ ALREADY BEGUN? Donald Sensing has some interesting comments in response to the Tom Holsinger column from StrategyPage that I linked last night.
THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTS that Frist has it sewn up for the Majority Leader slot.
To all the other stuff people are writing about him, I’ll only add that I ambushed him with a question about nanotechnology on a radio show a few years ago and he fielded it with ease, demonstrating considerable knowledge of both the technology and the policy issues. That impressed me.
READER FRED BUTZEN OBSERVES:
If it’s true that that Republican cross-over votes defeated Cynthia McKinney, then the GOP has shown that not only can it clean up its own bigots: it can also clean up the Democrats’!
Heh. You won’t be hearing this line from Carville, I’ll bet.
FRATERS LIBERTAS DOES A BIAS TEST on AP’s description of Bill Frist. It comes back positive.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON is crediting the blogosphere with Lott’s decision to step down.
HERE’S YOUR FINAL EXAM ON 20TH CENTURY RACIAL HISTORY: Bill Clinton would flunk, based on his recent statements.
DAVE KOPEL writes on Frist’s Second Amendment voting record, which he characterizes as slightly weaker than Lott’s.
WATCHING THE TALKING-HEAD SHOWS on Lott’s resignation, I notice that the new Democratic theme is that the Republicans should “prove that they’ve left racism behind” by supporting appropriate legislation next year.
I agree. I think the Republicans should demonstrate that they’re taking the country beyond the legacy of segregation by passing the “End to Racism and Segregation Act of 2003,” which would provide that neither the federal government, nor the states, nor any entity receiving federal funds may take race into account in any manner in the making of hiring, firing, promotion, or benefits decisions.
What better way to show we’ve moved beyond racism than to put an end to official racism by statute?
UPDATE: Nick Gillespie offers a similar proposal.
PIETER K EMAILS that although there are no clips from his CD available on Amazon, you can hear samples here on the Breakbeat Science page. My favorite cut is “Numina,” but you should also check out “Stars from Aircraft.” I actually like ‘em all.
THE LOTT CONTRAST: Reader Tom Wright emails:
This may not be a widely held view but I think the Trent Lott episode is a huge plus for the Republican Party. It may gain them nothing at the polls but at least they have proved that they are capable of embarrassment and shame when on of their number demonstrates an unfitness for his office.
Tardy though it may have been, the disgust and outrage shown by Republicans over Sen. Lott’s remarks contrasted with the Democrats’ studied indifference to the past comments by Sen. Byrd or the vileness spewed by Rep. McKinney shows that while both parties may have bigots, at least the Republicans are ashamed or theirs.
Yes, I think that’s how it will play. And I wonder, now, if more will be made of the Bonior/McDermott trip to Baghdad?
UPDATE: Eric Alterman sort of agrees:
Actually, this is the worst possible solution for the Democrats, who won’t have Trent Lott to kick around anymore as leader, but also won’t be getting a Democratic replacement in his seat.
I think that’s right, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Virginia Postrel compares Trent Lott and Mary Landrieu. It’s a comparision to which a lot of other members of the Senate are subject.
And Daniel Drezner congratulates Josh Marshall — who I think really started the ball rolling — and says this will be good for the Republicans in the long term.
NOW THAT TRENT LOTT has paid for his stupid remarks, perhaps Senator Patty Murray should be next:
“We’ve got to ask, why is this man (Osama bin Laden) so popular around the world?,” said Murray, who faces re-election in 2004. “Why are people so supportive of him in many countries … that are riddled with poverty?
“He’s been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that.
“How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?”
Yeah, it’s not as if she’s ever voted on a foreign aid bill or anything. Actually, many of the roads in Afghanistan were built by Americans. I have an uncle who did that, and also trained Afghans in construction and equipment maintenance, back during the 1970s. Didn’t seem to make much of a difference. But I guess I shouldn’t expect Murray to know about that stuff — she’s only a Senator, after all.
UPDATE: Reader Brandon Bigelow writes:
Does Patty Murray read the federal budgets she’s been voting on? The United States may not contribute a large amount of money to foreign aid as a percentage of GDP, but the amounts are significant in real dollars. Did she just miss the $2.4 billion we spent in the Middle East and North Africa in FY00, the $1.8 billion in FY01, or the estimated $1.7 billion in FY02? I am guessing Osama bin Laden, with all the hospital, orphanages, schoolhouses and shelters he built didn’t come close. See www.usaid.gov/country/ane/mena_tables.html for summaries of expenditures.
How much is enough for Patty Murray and her fellow travelers? Will people stop flying jets into the side of our buildings if only we give them $5 billion in foreign aid annually? Or could the conflict between the West and the Middle East be about a little bit more than total cash expenditures?
I honestly think that for some people — and Murray is probably one — it’s hard to imagine that anything matters more than federal expenditures.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: What should have happened last week has happened today — Trent Lott has stepped down as Majority Leader.
Bill Frist is the favorite to succeed him, which is a good deal for everyone involved except Frist — and the Democrats, who would have rather kept Lott around. Lame efforts to tar all Republicans as Klansmen-in-disguise will continue for a while, but will peter out over the holidays with no effect. And they should, because it wasn’t the Democrats who got Lott removed.
Unlike the Democrats with Clinton, the Republicans have purged themselves of someone who didn’t belong in the office he held. The failure to do so cost the Democrats greatly. I think that the Republicans, meanwhile, will reap benefits from their action.
MASS ARRESTS? Bigwig writes:
Lets be generous with the numbers and assume that all the Muslims in SoCal are part of that 600,000. That means that out of the entire population, 0.16% of them are being held. For every 100,000 Muslims in Southern California, about 116 got arrested. That number is….shockingly low. For the year 2000, the average rate of arrests per 100,000 total population was 3,427.5
So, in reality, SoCal Muslims are exemplary citizens, or the INS is shockingly inept. I’ll take both choices, thank you. What I do expect, frankly, is for Muslim spokesman to quote these numbers with pride, pointing out that the American Muslim community is among the most law-abiding in the nation.
Bigwig expects a lot. . . .
He’s not that happy with the INS, either.
UPDATE: Chad Seltzer says Bigwig’s math is based on erroneous assumptions.
Revelations of the brutal torture and murder of a teenager in eastern Germany blamed on neo-Nazis has sent shock-waves through the country.
Marius Schoeberl, who was 16, was killed apparently because he looked like a Jew.
His severely mutilated body was discovered in a farm silage pit in the remote village of Potzlow this summer.
Two brothers aged 17 and 23 and another 17-year-old from the village were recently found guilty of the murder.
The court was told that the boys were listening to neo-Nazi music, with its angry lyrics and furious sound, as well as drinking alcohol, before they set off into the night in search of a victim. . . .
They called him ‘un-German’, ‘a pest’ and ‘a Jew’. They dragged him to a deserted farmhouse, tortured and killed him – and then they went home to sleep.
The story paints this as a problem of the “extreme right,” but given the rise of antisemitism in polite European society, I think that’s a bit misleading.
WEAPONS OF MASS ANNOYANCE: An article in Wired News argues that cyberterrorism is a distinctly overrated threat.
Yeah, most computer-related stuff doesn’t work well enough for terrorism to register anyway. Kind of like threatening to cause traffic jams in L.A.
MICKEY KAUS writes on why — and how — Lott must go:
Lott, in his flailing, destructive attempt at self-preservation, didn’t quite equate opposition to race preferences with racism. But he did equate support of race preferences with opposition to racism. That’s why, as someone who thinks race preferences do far more harm than good, I worry that it’s not quite enough for the Republican Senate to simply vote Lott out of his leadership positon with “a brief statement explaining what they did and why they did it.” A brief statement would have sufficed if Lott’s only sin were his Thurmond tribute. But his subsequent compensatory embrace of preferences needs to be repudiated also, in memorably strong terms. The most reliable way for that to be done is for President Bush to do it himself.
Yep. I understand why Bush has been reluctant to tread on the Senate’s toes. But it’s time for him to provide some adult supervision.
I WAS GOING TO BLOG on the immigration-related arrests of Arab men in California, but I haven’t had time to give it the treatment it deserves. Eugene Volokh has some thoughts, though.
In brief, my observations are: (1) This is hardly the Japanese-American internment revisited. First, they’re not citizens, or even legal residents as best I can tell. And there are only a few hundred to perhaps a thousand of them. (2) These guys are all charged with being in violation of some immigration rule or another — in short, they’ve been arrested because they’re believed to be breaking the law. You may think it’s a stupid law, and a bad idea to arrest people for breaking it — as some might think with regard to arresting someone for having a shotgun with a barrel 1/4″ shorter than the legal minimum, and yes, such arrests do happen. But it hardly represents a fascistic breakdown in the rule of law. At least, if such a breakdown has occurred, it occurred when complicated and often contradictory laws were passed and then not generally enforced, not when these guys were arrested. (3) Inviting people to show up voluntarily for fingerprinting and then arresting a bunch of them seems to me to be a strategy that only works once. If the Feds knew that, then do they have some unstated reason for cracking down on illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern countries in these places and at this time? Possibly. This may be yet another small sign of coming war, and a preemption effort aimed at catching terrorist sleepers. (The other possibility, of course, is that the Feds are idiots, and that’s one never to be discounted, especially where the INS is concerned.)
Beyond that, I don’t know enough to have a clear opinion. More later, perhaps.
TOM HOLSINGER WRITES: “America’s conquest of Iraq will be a gradual process, not an event, and has probably begun.” Very interesting column.
READER PAUL STINCHFIELD sends another hate crime story.
HOLY SH*T: Andrew Sullivan raised nearly $80,000 in his “pledge week” campaign. And I was happy with a few hits to the paypal button!
Well, this should prove that it’s possible for someone to make a living at blogging, anyway.
RANDY PAUL has been emailing me for months with constructive criticism. Now he’s got his own blog focusing (mostly) on Latin America.
I’VE BEEN READING TONY PIERCE’S BOOK, which came in the mail today. I got copy 49/125, and it’s autographed, so my retirement is taken care of. I figure it’ll fetch a cool million quatlus at Sotheby’s by the time I’m ready to quit my day job and travel the galaxy.
I also popped Pieter K’s CD in the car today and listened to most of it. It’s quite cool — vaguely like Thievery Corporation, but somehow both funkier and more cerebral, even though that sounds like a contradiction. I like it very much. Between the two, it was an all-blogger-entertainment day.
I like the CD player, too. The old CD player died — the Passat’s cupholder is perilously close to the dash, and a bad pothole splashed my daughter’s Sprite into the tape-player opening, which produced irreversible death. That was, in a way, a good thing. I replaced the original — which had the changer in the back — with a new one that still has the changer but also has a slot in the dash. The rear-mounted CD changer is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but that leaves you listening to the same CDs over and over.
Anyway, I had planned to finish grading papers from my National Security Law seminar this afternoon, and I still have a couple to go, and it’s all Tony’s fault. Bloggers are good at occupying your spare moments even when you’re offline, apparently.
KEN LAYNE’S POST ON BUSH ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL POLICY is an absolute must-read. Excerpt:
But it’s also more damning evidence of Washington’s tin ear. People can and will disagree on all sorts of things, but something like this Trent Lott outrage pretty much puts everybody on the same page, from Atrios to Andrew Sullivan, Krugman to Kaus. Yet Lott is still in power. (He’ll probably be gone by the weekend, but it should’ve happened last week. Or 22 years ago.)
There’s much, much more.
MAX POWER HAS MOVED to MaxPower.nu — adjust your bookmarks accordingly.
SOME INTERESTING DMCA-RELATED NEWS at BlogCritics. Check it out.
THIS STORY suggests that claims the FBI was trying too hard not to offend the Saudis before September 11th are well-founded. I’d like to disbelieve this story, but sadly it’s all too believable. Excerpts:
In a dramatic interview with ABCNEWS, FBI special agents and partners Robert Wright and John Vincent say they were called off criminal investigations of suspected terrorists tied to the deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. U.S. officials say al Qaeda was responsible for the embassy attacks and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
“September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit. No doubt about that. Absolutely no doubt about that,” Wright said. “You can’t know the things I know and not go public.”
In the mid-1990s, with growing terrorism in the Middle East, the two Chicago-based agents were assigned to track a connection to Chicago, a suspected terrorist cell that would later lead them to a link with Osama bin Laden. Wright says that when he pressed for authorization to open a criminal investigation into the money trail, his supervisor stopped him.
“Do you know what his response was? ‘I think it’s just better to let sleeping dogs lie,’” said Wright. “Those dogs weren’t sleeping. They were training. They were getting ready.”
The FBI says its handling of the matter was appropriate at the time.
Then there’s this:
Perhaps most astounding of the many mistakes, according to Flessner and an affidavit filed by Wright, is how an FBI agent named Gamal Abdel-Hafiz seriously damaged the investigation. Wright says Abdel-Hafiz, who is Muslim, refused to secretly record one of al-Kadi’s suspected associates, who was also Muslim. Wright says Abdel-Hafiz told him, Vincent and other agents that “a Muslim doesn’t record another Muslim.”
“He wouldn’t have any problems interviewing or recording somebody who wasn’t a Muslim, but he could never record another Muslim,” said Vincent.
Wright said he “was floored” by Abdel-Hafiz’s refusal and immediately called the FBI headquarters. Their reaction surprised him even more: “The supervisor from headquarters says, ‘Well, you have to understand where he’s coming from, Bob.’ I said no, no, no, no, no. I understand where I’m coming from,” said Wright. “We both took the same damn oath to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and he just said no? No way in hell.”
Far from being reprimanded, Abdel-Hafiz was promoted to one of the FBI’s most important anti-terrorism posts, the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia, to handle investigations for the FBI in that Muslim country.
The FBI just isn’t up to the war on terrorism. I’d like to think that this culture of political ass-covering and political correctness is a thing of the past, but I doubt it, considering that no heads have rolled for these failures.
And what does Abdel-Hafiz think the law-enforcement agencies in Muslim countries do? This guy should be fired if the story is true.
MICKEY KAUS PSYCHOANALYZES JAMES CARVILLE and also notes: “There’s something offensive (and retro) in Lott acting as if African-Americans, as opposed to all Americans, were the people harmed by his remarks.”
MEMO TO JONAH GOLDBERG: I am, by pretty much any reasonable standard, a former liberal. Heck, I was president of Students For Choice on my undergraduate campus, and was at one point a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party. Nor am I, by any reasonable definition, a conservative today — well, I might be one of those “Stephen Green” conservatives who support gay marriage, drug legalization, cloning research and the elimination of excise taxes on alcohol (actually, I made that last one up, but I imagine Stephen would be willing to add it to the platform). But I don’t think many more traditional conservatives would count that.
Mostly, I’m a proud member of the anti-idiotarian party — which is growing by leaps and bounds, as best I can tell. And which, judging by the likes of Sean Penn and Trent Lott, won’t lack for targets anytime soon.
NORAH VINCENT, still smarting from a bogus accusation of plagiarism a while back, thinks that the Australian High Court decision in the Gutnick case will bring some discipline to “blowhard bloggers.” Actually, though, I think she has it exactly backward. The more likely result of widespread transnational regulation of the Internet will be to limit the blogosphere to people who are judgment proof, or successfully anonymous, neither of which is likely to cut down on the number of bogus accusations. (Here’s a link to my piece in The Australian on what the case is likely to mean.)
The Washington Post, meanwhile, has a pretty good feature on legal issues relating to bloggers. I encourage people to read it.
ELI LILLY UPDATE: Ellen Miller of TomPaine.Com emails:
It’s easy for Dick Armey to say he did it — he’s a lame duck with no accountability. And in a way, he did ALLOW it to happen. But what TomPaine.com is looking for is THE PERSON WHO *ASKED* ARMEY to ALLOW it to happen. THAT is the person we want to finger. Keep searching…
Dang. So much for the 350Z this week, I guess. But, the above remarks notwithstanding, I think that my work here is finished. And I now definitely regard this as a phony issue.
UPDATE: Speaking of phony, reader John Norton points out this from the TomPaine.Com website:
Democracy requires accountability, so TomPaine.com is offering a $10,000 reward to the first person who proves the identity of the Eli Lilly Bandit — the >>member of Congress responsible for inserting the company’s special provision<<. Mail submissions to PO Box 53303, Washington, D.C. 20009. The complete terms and conditions of this offer are posted at www.TomPaine.com.
(His emphasis). He adds:
Sounds like you are in for that Z Car.
Flood the Zone!!!!
Yep, TomPaine seems to have a Carbolic Smoke Ball problem — though the Z-car routine is a joke, especially as I promised the reader who emailed me the CNN link that I’d see the reward money went to him in the unlikely event that they paid up. Which seems to be just as unlikely as I figured — and at any rate, I didn’t communicate by mail, as their terms-and-conditions seem to require. Had I been serious about claiming the reward, I would have done so.
Still, they were awfully quick to change the terms here, weren’t they? Another “broken dot-com promise?”
HOW, ER, UNFORTUNATE.
NOW ANN COULTER is calling for Trent Lott to step down, saying that his unseemly praise of a Senate relic is entirely unacceptable.
DICKENS WROTE ABOUT A SCROOGE’S REDEMPTION. James Lileks, on the other hand, subjects a scrooge to a savage and altogether merciless Fisking.
I never did like Dickens all that much.
UPDATE: Reader Roy Jacobsen emails with a point that several people made:
Actually, couldn’t you say that the three ghosts in Dicken’s story
delivered a Fisking to Scrooge? Didn’t they go back through his life
and show him point by point how he erred? Thus, you could say that it
was Fisking that led to Scrooge’s repentance and redemption.
Yes, the golden cloak of redemption often comes after the Iron Fisk of Truth.
THIMEROSAL UPDATE: Dr. Manhattan has a lengthy thimerosal-related roundup. Bottom line, supported by considerable evidence, is that the dangers of thimerosal are unsupported, and that there were dangers to removing it.
The whole Thimerosal flap seems overstated. The claims that it causes autism are, at best, dubious. And the claim that the lawsuit-blocking language was “mysteriously” added to the bill seems bogus given that, as I have pointed out already (where’s my reward money? I need a 350Z! I mean I really need one! Or maybe a Porsche. . . .) Dick Armey admitted on CNN two weeks ago that “I put it in.”
So what we have is a conspiracy theory about something allegedly secret that was actually admitted on CNN, being done to immunize a drugmaker from lawsuits based on its doing something for which there is no compelling evidence — or even much persuasive evidence — of danger or negligence. Isn’t that basically the story here? Or am I missing something?
DANIEL DREZNER WRITES ON bad economics. Oh, and Paul Krugman.
MICKEY KAUS (whose “Gearbox” automotive blog is now a regular feature at Slate) writes about our trip to test drive the 350Z. Don’t miss what he says about the GTO.
DON’T BE SHY ABOUT IT: The New Republic reports on Canadian ineptitude and hypocrisy regarding Hezbollah:
“It is important,” Graham lectured his critics, “not to label [elected officials], doctors, and teachers as terrorists.” The foreign minister and others in the Chretien government argued that the social wing of Hezbollah was independent of its “military” wing, and so a request that Canadian banks freeze the assets of Hezbollah’s “external security apparatus” was sufficient to suppress any terror threat posed by the group on Canadian soil.
Then, just as the debate over the distinction reached a fever pitch in the Canadian media and government–Revenue Minister Elinor Caplan argued for the ban–Nasrallah resolved it decisively. Last Wednesday, stories circulated that Hezbollah’s Al Manar television station had broadcast footage of Nasrallah encouraging the worldwide export of suicide bombings. “Don’t be shy about it,” he told followers. The terrifying quote appeared to eliminate any distinction between terrorist and non-terrorist activities, since Nasrallah sits atop the entire Hezbollah apparatus and not just the military wing. Which meant that suddenly Ottawa found itself insisting on a distinction that even Hezbollah itself was disavowing.
But, but, but they don’t like Americans and Jews! So how could they be terrorists?
To be fair, the non-idiotic part of the Canadian political structure (that is, the part residing largely outside the Chretien government) was horrified by this policy all along.
Finally I realized who Trent Lott reminds me of. Remember the knight in Mony Python’s “Holy Grail” who gets both arms and then both legs cut off by a fellow combatant, but still refuses to give in. “It’s only a flesh-wound!” he keeps bragging as blood gushes out from his arm and leg stumps. Only this time, we can’t cut to the next scene.
Yes. I was reminded of Lott’s BET appearance by some of Gollum’s pleading-and-groveling scenes in The Two Towers, too.
A HATE CRIME HOAX AT OLE MISS: Michelle Malkin has the scoop.
JUST SAW THE TWO TOWERS. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t be too specific. Basic take: (1) Lots more liberties taken with the plot than in the first movie — and while I understand some of them, others mystify me as to their purpose. (2) Big themes, present in the book but much more present in the movie, are temptation and despair — and the temptation of despair. (3) Best actor: Gollum, in his dialogues with himself.
Worst part of the movie: the many commercials beforehand (people booed, and one guy shouted “I came here to see a movie!” to general applause) and the trailers for other movies, pretty much all of which looked absolutely dreadful. A couple of lame horror films, a Jim Carrey movie (the trailer for that one was good — but since all the good stuff from his movies is in the trailers, the movie probably isn’t) and I forget most of the rest.
Overall, where the first movie got a 9.0 -9.5, I’d give this one about an 8. To be fair, the second part of any trilogy is the hardest to carry off — both in movies and in the books themselves — but I felt that Jackson’s hand was too heavy on this one. Still a great job overall, but not as good as the first.
And yeah, Viggo Mortensen’s occasional off-camera antiwar blather notwithstanding, the inevitability of war, and the importance of having the will to resist evil despite the burdens and the horror is a repeated theme, twined in and around the despair and temptation points I mention above. Indeed, one speech in which Aragorn explains to Theoden that this isn’t just the usual raiding, but an effort to stamp out his civilization, seems especially on point.
ANGLOSPHERE, EUROSPHERE, TURKOSPHERE: Jim Bennett writes that the EU is getting itself in trouble. Personally, I like the idea of bringing Turkey into NAFTA. And maybe Eastern Europe, too. And Britain. . . .
NOEMIE EMERY WRITES THAT TRENT LOTT’S PROBLEMS ARE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE GOP:
ANY DAY NOW, the Democrats may come to regret deeply the moment the Trent Lott disturbance caught media fire. It is now a great mess for the Republican party, but one that has the potential to turn into a great opportunity, and one the party should eagerly seize. It is a chance for the GOP to clean up its act and its household, haul tons of old rubbish out of the attic, and banish some shopworn old ghosts. Having begun by delighting the Democrats by seeming to highlight the links they believed existed between racism and the conservative agenda, the furor may end by finally snapping those links, along with a number of sinister theories. And that will be all to the good.
Myth number one has always been that the Republican moderates were the much-put-upon noble soul of the party, while conservatives were the dark, ugly fringe. So who were the people who jumped on Lott first? Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, and George Will, among others. Social conservatives (such as the Family Research Council) roared for his ouster. In no time at all, the entire machinery of the vast right-wing media monster–the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the New York Post, National Review, and the American Prowler (the online arm of the American Spectator); all the people on whom Al Gore and Tom Daschle blame the woes of the country–had locked Trent in the parlor with a pistol beside him, and urged him to do the right thing. Charles Krauthammer spoke for all of them when he wrote in the Washington Post on December 12: “Trent Lott must resign as majority leader . . . The point is not just what King and his followers did for African Americans, but what they did–by validating America’s original promise of freedom and legal equality–for the rest of America. How can Lott, speaking of ‘all these problems over all these years,’ not see this?” Indeed.
The mistake was not giving him the traditional bottle of whiskey with the pistol, I guess. He’s still in the parlor yelling to be let out.
MORE TERROR INDICTMENTS:
The leader of an Islamic militant group, his wife, and five employees of Texas computer firm were indicted on charges of trafficking with terrorist states Libya and Syria, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Wednesday.
“We will sue the financiers of terror as aggressively as we pursue the thugs who do their dirty work,” Ashcroft said at a news conference at the Justice Department.
Hey, does this mean they’ll be joining the 9/11 lawsuit against the Saudis? I’m not holding my breath on that one.
SEVERAL LEFTY BLOGGERS HAVE EMAILED and asked me to link to this TomPaine.Com reward offer regarding the Thimerosal/vaccine issue. I’m happy to oblige.
I don’t know a lot about this issue, and I’m all for legislative transparency (I even support Brannon Denning’s “Truth-in-Legislation Amendment” proposal). But on the merits — the Thimerosal issue itself — I think this is probably bogus.
Regarding the Thimerosal suits, MedPundit Sydney Smith writes: “The litigation of thimerosal truly is one of those abuses of the legal system that makes tort reform necessary. (Here’s the article from the Lancet on mercury levels in vaccinated children the editorial mentions.)”
And Derek Lowe has a series of posts on this (scroll down from this link) and he thinks it’s bogus, too. What I notice is that this is another case of something that I used to see on wacky right-wing websites now being picked up by the left. That doesn’t by itself guarantee that there’s nothing to it, but it adds to my doubts.
The merits of the Thimerosal / autism connection, of course, are in a sense independent of the question of whether stuff should wind up in legislation without leaving fingerprints. I don’t think that it should. But there have been all sorts of legislative shenanigans like that — Tom Foley’s clock-stopping to secure the passage of the assault-weapons ban, for example — and I think it’s fair to say that, while they’re bad, they’re not abuses that are engaged in exclusively, or even overwhelmingly, by a single party.
My guess, in fact, is that a Truth-in-Legislation regime would tend to disfavor all sorts of big-government initiatives, which liberals usually like. But I could be wrong about that.
UPDATE: Okay, where’s my reward?
CARVILLE: I understand. But did the White House put it in?
ARMEY: There were members of the White House that wanted it. Well, you know, you really have to say it was my bill, I wrote it, I put it in. . . .
CARLSON: I’m just curious, and I don’t want to spend the whole show on it. How did it get in there? Was it like the immaculate conception? Or you put it in or you dropped it in?
ARMEY: I put it in.
You guys can just PayPal me the money — the link’s on the left.
THE APPEARANCE OF MORALITY: Collin May writes about Canada’s peculiar version of moral superiority.
TRENT LOTT’S ENDORSEMENT OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION wasn’t an abandonment of his racist past, of course. It was just an endorsement of racism in a different guise. Shelby Steele points out the double standard:
No doubt the abuses of racism once made the democratic imagination a centerpiece of black American culture. The rhetoric of Martin Luther King was about nothing else. But the race-focused reforms that became entrenched after the 1960s have made the black imagination more self-referential. Now we imagine ourselves more than others, although depressingly seldom as conservatives. Universities across the country provide “ethnic theme dorms” to spare the young the stresses of developing a democratic imagination. And how many million blacks have a fellow-traveling affection for Louis Farrakhan, who is as ardently opposed to interracial dating as anyone at Bob Jones University?
Today America supports a racialist value system for minorities while demanding a democratic expansion of the white imagination. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus can embrace “blackness” and demand government preferences exclusively for their race. Remove the double standard and Trent Lott looks perfectly innocent by comparison.
But not so innocent that he should remain Majority Leader.
UPDATE: As Michelle Boardman writes: “Lott has insulted anyone who wants unbigoted political representation by implicitly arguing that an endorsement of affirmative action demonstrates his purity.”
This oped by Abigail Thernstrom, meanwhile, notes that:
After an era of liberal leadership, the typical black or Hispanic student graduates from high school today with junior high skills, according to the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress.
If Mr. Lott cedes civil rights issues to the Democrats, how can Republicans in Congress join the majority of black parents who want vouchers so that their children can escape public schools that have become graveyards for hope?
For years, Republicans have run in terror from most controversial race-related issues. But it was not always so. More than 80 percent of Republicans in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Congressional Republicans can recapture the moral high ground — but not if their Senate leaders are unable to stand up to groups that are often at odds with the interests and even the views of their own minority constituents.
Lott has sold out everyone — from his own party to black schoolchildren who are ill-served by pork-obsessed interest groups — to save his skin. And he hasn’t abandoned racism, but has endorsed it out of opportunism and cowardice. That’s why he has to go.
NOW IT’S JOHN KERRY who’s getting flak for racist remarks:
“There can never be an appearance of racism or bigotry in any high position of leadership,” he declared.
Funny, but that’s pretty much what prominent Italian-Americans were saying about Kerry the morning he tried to come off as droll on the Don Imus show, quipping, “The Iraqi army is in such bad shape, even the Italians could kick their butts.”
State auditor Joe DeNucci led the angry backlash, charging, “He wouldn’t have the guts to say that about Jews or blacks,” prompting a Kerry spokeswoman to suggest DeNucci cool his jets, that the senator was obviously being facetious.
Of course, that’s the same thing his office said following another appearance on the Imus show when, attempting to belittle Bill Weld’s work ethic, Kerry described the former GOP governor as “a guy who takes more vacations than people on welfare.”
Of course, if we got rid of every member of Congress who said stupid things, we wouldn’t have any left. Hmm. . . .
THE NEW DENTON / KOTTKE / SPIERS site Gawker.Com is up, and it’s already given me my restaurant pick for my next trip to NYC. Who can resist The Red Meat Club?
Plus, we learn that “drunk shopping” is both profitable and fun — though not for the same people at the same time.
What’s not to love?
UPDATE: Oops. Should have followed the link. Red Meat Club isn’t a restaurant, but an Internet meat-sales outfit. Even better — I don’t have to go to New York at all!
RACINE RAVE UPDATE: Peter Karas reports that prosecutors in Racine are growing ever-more-desperate to avoid a trial of all those they arrested in a mass raid earlier this fall. They’ve reduced the charge again, but almost no one is agreeing to a plea bargain.
After what happened in Houston, they should be nervous. The ACLU is suing, and this could be expensive for Racine. And it should be.
Speaking of Techno (well, really D&B), I just got a CD in the mail from DJ/producer/former blogger Pieter K — it’s called Everything All The Time. I met Pieter at the UCLA weblog panel last year, but I didn’t realize he was such a big deal. But the Amazon page for the CD lists impressive reviews from URB and Mixer, which makes him a big deal indeed. I’d hoped there would be streaming audio, but there’s not. Sorry.
POSTWATCH has loads of stuff about Bryant Gumbel, Martha Burk, and Burning Tree. You know, stuff that’s really important. Turns out Bob Schieffer belongs to Burning Tree. Another Burning Tree member: “evil Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti.”
RANGE OF INTERESTS: Well, changing the PayPal button to let people pick the amount clearly unlocked untapped demand. It used to just take donations in the amount of $2.50 — somehow I set it up that way and never got around to changing it. (This site, unlike, say, Andrew Sullivan’s or Bill Quick’s, isn’t set up to be revenue-maximizing). But I got several emails close together asking me to change it to let the user choose the amount, and lo-and-behold, people responded with donations ranging from $75.00 to one cent. Yes, one cent. As an economist would say, it’s a diverse mix of preferences.
JACK BALKIN HAS SOME SUGGESTED LESSONS from the Trent Lott affair. I’m not sure I agree with all of his legislative suggestions, but it’s an interesting perspective.
Meanwhile, here’s a suggested lesson of my own. It’s clear that people knew for a long time that Lott had, to put it charitably, issues: issues of racism, and issues of the tin-eared, foot-in-mouth sort. Put those together, and he was a disaster waiting to happen. Some people even said that before the elections. Yet somehow he would up as Majority Leader anyway.
Pick the wrong people for important jobs, and you have problems every time. That’s a lesson worth remembering.
WOULD I EVEN NOTICE BIOLOGICAL WARFARE? My sinus infection is clearing up as the antibiotics kick in. (My daughter’s sick and on ‘em, too — my wife’s at the doctor’s even as I write). Meanwhile, having had two colds in the past month, I’ve got another one coming on. And I hear there’s a nasty stomach bug going around.
IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE ARRESTS IN LONDON (and Edinburgh) and the arrest of three Algerians in Paris yesterday on terrorism charges? So far, it’s not clear. But I’m guessing that there is. Some of the French papers were reporting a London connection for the Algerians (in French, which is why I didn’t link the stories).