Saturday, December 27, 2003


Finally saw Far From Heaven. Was good. Go watch it.

Am also almost all the way through the first season of the BBC's The Office, which someone was kind enough to get for me. It's great. Went ahead and ordered the second season, which is available from, (shipping is actually cheap) but only do so if you have a way to watch non-region 1 DVDs.

Changing Plans

New toy not as fun as they thought

BAGHDAD, Dec. 27 -- The United States has backed away from several of its more ambitious initiatives to transform Iraq's economy, political system and security forces as attacks on U.S. troops have escalated and the timetable for ending the civil occupation has accelerated.

Plans to privatize state-owned businesses -- a key part of a larger Bush administration goal to replace the socialist economy of deposed president Saddam Hussein with a free-market system -- have been dropped over the past few months. So too has a demand that Iraqis write a constitution before a transfer of sovereignty.

With the administration's plans tempered by time and threat, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, and his deputies are now focused on forging compromises with Iraqi leaders and combating a persistent insurgency in order to meet a July 1 deadline to transfer sovereignty to a provisional government.

"There's no question that many of the big-picture items have been pushed down the list or erased completely," said a senior U.S. official involved in Iraq's reconstruction, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Right now, everyone's attention is focused [on] doing what we need to do to hand over sovereignty by next summer."

The new approach, U.S. diplomats said, calls into question the prospects for initiatives touted by conservative strategists to fashion Iraq into a secular, pluralistic, market-driven nation. While the diplomats maintain those goals are still attainable, the senior official said, "ideology has become subordinate to the schedule."

"The Americans are coming to understand that they cannot change everything they want to change in Iraq," said Adel Abdel-Mehdi, a senior leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim political party that which is cooperating with the U.S. occupation authority. "They need to let the Iraqi people decide the big issues."

Help Iran

Here's a website of suggestions from the National Iranian-American Council.

Capital Gang Predictions, Dec. 2002

And they pay these people?

And now our predictions for 2003.

First, the biggest crisis next year.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Assuming that we are going to attack Iraq, the absolute revulsion in Islam. The whole world, Islamic world all around the globe, what the reaction is against the West and the U.S.

O'BEIRNE: Mark Russell.

RUSSELL: Well, there's this whole thing surrounding Korea, Kate. Now, Bob Novak fought the Korean War to defend South Korea from North Korea, making South Korea what it is today, the country we buy American flags from, because they're cheaper than the ones made in China.

O'BEIRNE: Your prediction for the biggest crisis, Margaret?

CARLSON: Well, I think Iraq and North Korea will be big foreign policy crises. The biggest domestic crisis will be a political one, it will be Al Sharpton running for president. He will be more trouble to Democrats than Trent Lott was to Republicans, and Democrats will not be able to get rid of him, however.

RUSSELL: You know, when he was in India recently, he was the first showboat to go down the Ganges River?

CARLSON: And Democrats would like to keep him there.

O'BEIRNE: In Austin, Texas, Mark Shields, your biggest crisis.

SHIELDS: Biggest crisis, Kate, just to let the record show that Mark Russell, he talked about Korea, Mark Russell dodged the military draft. How did he do it? He did it my joining the United States Marine Corps. That's how clever and true this guy is.

But I do, I do want to say...

RUSSELL: And like Mark Shields, we both saw combat in Tijuana.

SHIELDS: That's right. Hey, thank God for penicillin, Mark.

But let's get one thing straight. The biggest crisis, Bob Novak has put his finger on it, is going to be the Middle East. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will look like a lovers' spat at the end of this year, I'm fearful.

O'BEIRNE: I predict the biggest crisis next year will be the axis of evil. When George Bush so labeled those three countries in January, his critics thought it was random and overly dramatic, and now we're seeing the triple threat, possibly nuclear, of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. He was awfully prescient.

Next, what will this prescient president's approval ratings be one year from now, December 2003, Mark?

RUSSELL: OK, what is it now?

O'BEIRNE: Low 60s, mid-60s.

RUSSELL: OK, I really predict that in a year from now, it will be about the same, unless, God forbid, al Qaeda hits us again, at which time Bush's ratings go back to 92.

O'BEIRNE: Margaret Carlson, where will he be?

CARLSON: Yes, I say up to 92, at least higher, if we're in Iraq and it's successful. If, however, it's a quagmire, low 40s.

O'BEIRNE: In Austin, Mark Shields.

SHIELDS: Kate, proving that this prescient president cannot defy the laws of gravity perpetually, his -- the president's job rating December of 2003 will be 49 percent favorable.

O'BEIRNE: Huh. Bob, I am more optimistic on the president's behalf than Mark. I give him a precise 61 a year from now. And what is your prediction?

NOVAK: I'm assuming there'll be a war, and the war will be over and won, and he'll start slipping. He'll be around 53 percent. Third year is a bad year for a president. RUSSELL: Well, if the war's completely successful, it'll be Bush's war. If it is completely unsuccessful, it'll be Clinton's war.

O'BEIRNE: Margaret Carlson, who will lead the Democratic presidential polls one year from now, December 2003?

CARLSON: I predict that Senator Lieberman will get the Gore vote without being Gore. He will have the family values licked against the Republicans. He will have homeland security locked up, given that it was his bill. And he's in the Mideast right now, and I think he will have the Jewish vote.

So I give him the Democratic base and the lead out of the gate.

O'BEIRNE: Joe Lieberman?

In Austin, Mark Shields, who's your pick for the top Democratic in a year?

SHIELDS: Kate, I'll tell you, because we rerun the last election, the premium will be upon who -- which Democrat can emerge as unorthodox, as the John McCain of 2003? And I'm going to predict an unorthodox selection, and that is Dick Gephardt, the House Democratic leader, understands this is his last, best, and only chance, and he better say something bold and do something daring.

O'BEIRNE: I'm going to guess that a year from now, we would have moved beyond name recognition, and one of the president's sharpest critics on foreign and defense policy's going to be John Kerry, and I think that'll be popular with the base. I'll pick John Kerry.


NOVAK: I will, I will too, but for a different reason. I think that he has two people's votes. He has his votes, and he has Bob Kerrey's votes, and you add that up, and he'll be in front.

Where's Nedra?

I truly hope this isn't just a holiday break.

damnit. She heard me. She's back. "When Dean criticized Bush for X, he neglected to tell us about Y which isn't really the same thing but..."

'Tis the Season

If you're in any possession of some excess holiday cheer, a little generosity directed towards Jim Capozzola might be appropriate.

No one really expects to make substantial money blogging, but it nonetheless does take a lot of time and the occasional tip for all the free pie is much appreciated.

So, today is give a tip to the Rittenhouse Review day.

Just click here:

Release the Prisoners

It's odd when the gropenfuhrer proposes what might be a good thing but then you have to realize that, no, wait, it's probably a really stupid thing. In a true "only Nixon can go to China" moment, Arnold is proposing releasing up to 1/3 of the California prison population. The thing is, when something like this is being proposed as a budget-cutting measure rather than a "good public policy" measure they're bound to get it wrong.

I'm all for speeding up the release of many/most/all non-violent drug offenders but you obviously just can't do it all at once, and you can't do it assuming that it will magically suddenly save lots of money. Our society has put up so many barriers preventing the re-integration of previously incarcerated felons into "normal" life that one can't imagine a successful mass prison release program without spending quite a bit of additional moneys on reintegration programs.

That isn't to say such considerations should stand in the way of what is the right thing to do - releasing nonviolent drug offenders. But, such policies have consequences which need to be addressed. It ain't going to, in the short run, plug the budget hole.


I just don't even know what to say.


Regarding the Earthquake in Iran, what Big Media Matt says. It's horrible, there isn't much to say about it other than that.

David Brooks Reputation Watch

Who would've thought that someone, upon getting a NYT column, could've destroyed their reputation faster than Abe Rosenthal did.

Friday, December 26, 2003

George Will Consistency Watch

George Bush made a bunch of recess appointments today.

Here's George Will on March 26, 1998:

On Dec. 5 Byrd wrote to the president, arguing that a recess appointment of Lee would be an abuse of the constitutional provision permitting such appointments. (Article II, Section 2, Clause 3: "The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.") Byrd argued that the recess appointment provision was intended to allow normal government functioning in the early days of the young Republic, when transportation was difficult and recesses often lasted several months.

Byrd said there was no emergency justifying a recess appointment and that the next session of Congress would begin in a few weeks. So a recess appointment "would smack of the desire to circumvent the regular nomination process."


Byrd notes that of the 320 positions in Cabinet-level departments that are subject to Senate confirmation, 59 (18 percent) are currently being filled in violation of the Vacancies Act. Thus the Senate's advise-and-consent responsibility, which the Supreme Court has called "among the significant structural safeguards of the constitutional scheme," is being vitiated by the Clinton administration's distinctive lawlessness. And as Byrd concedes, the Senate's passivity makes it complicit in this assault on the system of checks and balances based on the separation of powers.

The Senate should pass his legislation to affirm and enforce the fact that the Vacancies Act supersedes all other provisions of law. And surely the Senate could find a way and summon the will to evict Lee from the office he illegitimately occupies.

Ah, the good old days, when Will was a big fan of advise and consent.

We're waiting Mr. Will.

Sentence First, Trial Later

America through the looking glass.

... anyway, we all know how this one will progress. The right wing media will spin this as Dean loves Bin Laden. The more "reasonable" pundits like the TNR crowd will then pull a Sam Donaldson and say, well, you know, of course he's right, really, but he shouldn't say things quite in that way. After all, these days things like due process just aren't very popular and Dean should know that. Of course, they won't be referring to what he actually said, but rather how what he said was spun...

Welcome to campaign '04. It's gonna be a fun ride.

And, if asked about this Dean should say something along the lines of "How dare you question my desire to bring the 9/11 perpetrators to trial. I've been saying for months we need to devote our efforts to getting Bin Laden. It's absolutely un-American to suggest that anyone, no matter how heinous the crime or obvious the guilt, doesn't and shouldn't deserve a fair trial under our Judicial system, as our Founders, in their wisdom, desired. Fuck you Judy Woodruff."

Well, maybe not that last part.

Pessimism Watch

So, I didn't go all the way back, but doing a check through a Nexis search of news transcripts back through October, the first appearance of a talking head referring to Dean as "pessimistic" or discussing his "pessimism" was Laura Ingraham on the Friday Dec. 19 Hardball, followed by Mary Matalin on the Sunday Dec. 21 Meet the Press.

Look for it to be coming out of every Republican's mouth soon, and then it will increasingly creep into "objective" reporting. The process will go something like this. First, they'll quote Bush campaign sources describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll move onto Democratic campaign sources, often anonymous, describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll stop bothering getting the quote and just write things like, "Some have criticized Dean for his unappealing pessimism..." And, then, finally, process complete, campaign analysis pieces in print and the "objective journalists" on the roundtable shows, will just write/say things like "Dean's pessimistic rhetoric..." By the end no discussion or news story about Dean will see the light of day without the word "pessimism."

...Dec. 26 - Ollie North goes for pessimistic.

Rosen on the Heathers

Jay Rosen has a pretty good analysis of campaign journalism.

In his 1990 book about presidential campaigns, (See How They Run) Paul Taylor, then a political correspondent for the Washington Post, talked openly about the press as one key actor in "the pageant of democracy." Taylor knew from experience. He was the one who in 1988 asked Gary Hart whether Hart had committed adultery, a moment of fateful expansion in the "open up, candidate" exam Kurtz is stiill writing about today.

Taylor told stories explaining how the press had played the role of sorter for the public-- which means in place of. In 1988, for example, one reason journalists were so obsessed with character questions was the large number of candidates competing for press attention. He writes:

Somebody had to prune the field, to "get rid of the funny ones," as one 1988 campaign manager put it. There were too many choices, too much information to present, and "the culture was too apolitical" to sustain interest in such a large number of candidates. With the party bosses out of the equation, there was a huge vacuum at the front end of the process. Who would screen the field? The assignment fell to the press -- there was no one else.

If it's true the press plays a vetting role in the campaign, then it must be true that the press is a player. Or to put it another way, political journalists have come to understand themselves as supplier of a service--vetting the field--that the body politic cannot handle itself, because of high information costs and low motivation to bear them. "Too many choices, too much information to present."

Plame Goes On

And the administration is apparently still making shit up.

Wilson, a prominent critic of the administration over Iraq, has said that was done to retaliate against him for continuing to publicize his conclusion, after a 2002 mission for the CIA, that there was little evidence Iraq had sought uranium in Africa to develop nuclear weapons. Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.

Bush EPA Loves Death

The EPA has expressed disappointment that, by their own estimates, 19,000 lives will now be saved.

... an alert reader notes that the paragraph from the NYT article quoted by Demagogue is no longer actually in the article. Down the memory hole...

It's in the cache at google news, but not at the article it links to.

The new paragraph appears to be:

The Environmental Protection Agency, which had proposed the new rule, said in a statement that it was "disappointed with the court's decision" and that neither the regulation nor the court's stay of it would have much effect on emissions.

The old one was:

The Environmental Protection Agency expressed disappointment with the court's decision but did not say whether it would be appealed. The court order, while only two pages in length, was a strong statement in one of the most contentious environmental and public health battles of the last several years — whether aging coal-fired power plants must install controls as they increase their pollution emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that full enforcement of existing rules on power plant pollution would save 19,000 lives per year.

you can email their ombudsman Danny Okrent at and ask him about this.

New Roveword

Dean is "pessimistic."

It'll be coming out of the mouth of every pundit by Sunday.

Sleep Paralysis

Oy. I hate when that happens. Good morning.

Thursday, December 25, 2003


Krugman gives some advice to the Heathers.

Merry Xmas From Miss. Terrorists


OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — An Atlanta man died of a gunshot wound Thursday after his car was fired upon by occupants of another vehicle on Interstate 10 on the Gulf Coast.

Sgt. Joe Gazzo of the Mississippi Highway Patrol identified the victim as 40-year-old Datel Ghanshyam. Four other family members, all adults, were unhurt, Gazzo said.


About 7 a.m. Thursday, Gazzo said they left casinos, getting back on I-10 East in Ocean Springs. Soon after they merged onto the highway, a small, blue imported car with a loud, large aftermarket muffler, came up alongside the family, repeatedly swerving close to them, then getting in front of them and slowing down.

"Harassing them with actions of the car, you could say," Gazzo said.

Gazzo said witnesses told investigators that one of the occupants of the harassing car then got on a cell phone and apparently called another vehicle, a brown sports utility vehicle, which pulled alongside the Atlanta family and opened fire with an automatic weapon.

Gazzo said the family's vehicle was hit eight times. He said one of the shots hit Ghanshyam under the arm, killing him instantly.

(yeah, i know, wrong state... was going from the news source..)

Merry Xmas from Eric Alterman

Remember all those "people just don't like Al Gore" articles? Remember, when John Kerry was the presumed frontrunner we had all those "people just don't like John Kerry" articles. Remember, briefly, when Clark entered the race and surged ahead we had all those "people just don't like Wesley Clark articles." The reasons sometimes varied a bit - but, it's always some combination of too aloof, too elite, too abrasive, too ambitious, etc...

And, so, yes, the "people just don't like Howard Dean" articles are just the same. I don't know why they just don't skip to "people just don't like Democrats" and be done with it. And, contrary to what some thing - if Joe Lieberman were the frontrunner we'd have a bunch of "people just don't like Joe Lieberman" articles.

These articles are never based on any actual facts, any actual reporting, or anything that can be inferred from polls. It's just the reporters' inner Heathers believing they speak for the world, or occasionally, Friedman style, finding "man on the street" quotes which fit their preconceptions. Here's Alterman:

While the Post editors and Brooks speak for hard-line neocons, Dean receives no less abuse at the hands of many genuine liberals. My colleague at the Center for American Progress, Matthew Miller, attended the speech and found it lacking, not in substance, which he thought properly Clintonian, but in presentation. "When Dean barked it out, it felt smaller and shabbier, as if he were lecturing us on simple facts we ought to have known." Miller worries at length about what it means that Dean accidentally thanked US soldiers for their "services" rather than "service." Jonathan Chait, so obsessed he now operates an anti-Dean blog at The New Republic, also admits that the position that so exercised the Post pooh-bahs is "narrowly true." Chait's problem with Dean, and I quote, is that the Vermont governor "gives off the vibe that he likes to equivocate about the bad guys rather than recognize them for what they are" (what a bummer that Dean dude is...).

ABC's Sam Donaldson made the same silly point, admitting that "in context, you know what he's saying," but when normally perspicacious pundits like Miller and Chait talk in terms of "feelings" and "vibes," something more than policy disputes are at work. Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's walking conflict of interest and barometer of conventional wisdom-- named by the American Conservative Union as one of the most reliable reporters--offers up a clue to the journalistic zeitgeist when he complains of Dean, "Reporters who have spent hours with Dean express surprise that he never asks a single question about them." (Would Kurtz feel better if Dean said, "So, Howie, does CNN pay you more to report on the Post or does the Post pay you more to report on CNN?")

Merry Xmas from CNN

We had two hours of "you're fat."

Now we're having two hours of "you're old and ugly."

"You're a fucking moron" must be up next, though maybe that's the effective subtitle of the entire schedule.

...speaking of CNN, anyone seen the dramatic promo for their campaign '04 coverage? It's a series of shots of all of the Dem candidates looking very very angry, followed by a smiling and waving Bush.

Merry Xmas from Republicans and the Meat Lobby


WASHINGTON - Legislation to keep meat from downed animals off American kitchen tables was scuttled — for the second time in as many years — as Congress labored unsuccessfully earlier this month to pass a catchall agency spending bill.

Now, in the wake of the apparent discovery of the first mad-cow case in the United States, the author of the House version of the cattle provision wants to press the issue anew when Congress returns Jan. 20 from its winter recess. The massive, $373 billion spending bill covering several government agencies is still pending in the Senate.

"I said on the floor of the House that you will rue the day that because of the greed of the industry to make a few extra pennies from 130,000 head, the industry would sacrifice the safety of the American people," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., chief House sponsor. "It's so pound foolish."

The provision dealing with downed cattle didn't even make it into the compromise version of the legislation that House and Senate conferees brought before Congress late in the year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas

Something to make the baby Jesus smile.

At a previous place of employment someone who had worked there had been recently released after having been incarcerated for a long time due to a wrongful conviction. I never had a chance to speak to him, but just seeing him around filled me with profound shame. Justice will never be perfect, but too often people are locked up not for "honest mistakes" but for police or DA malfeasance.


Citizen of Canuckistan, Adam Yoshida, has another brilliant idea.

I'm increasingly thinking that Mr. Yoshida is just a Turing Test of sorts, but just in case he isn't...

Dear Adam,

Any Chinese citizen in possession of a US government bond would have no problems selling it at a fair market price to a non-Chinese citizen. So, aside from adding a whopping risk premium onto interest rates on our government borrowing, your plan would do little to punish our "enemies."



P.S. It would also likely cause the value of the dollar to be cut in half on international currency markets, and generally cause widespread economic catastrophe. But, we sure would've showed them commies who would have no trouble redeeming their bonds.

Farkin Hannity


Snitchens Busted

Oh this is a thing of beauty. It almost made me weep.

Bad Santas

Don't tell Lou Dobbs.

What the Hell

So this CNN reporter is doing a big hit job on Amtrak because people aren't being asked to submit to body cavity searches before they board the trains or something. Basically she's whining that you don't have to jump through hoops to get on an Amtrak train as you would boarding a plane.

Newsflash: Amtrak trains aren't much different than most commuter rail systems all over the country other than the fact that they tend to go a bit farther. You want airport-style security on all of them too?


The DNC finally fixed up their donation tracking system for their epatriots program. So far people have donated $13,540.46 to the DNC through the boot bush link to the left (including a schockingly generous donation this morning.) Only $87,000 more and I get to go to the Dem convention!

... on a related note, if any publication or organization wants to cover expenses and write me a decent paycheck to go blog the whole thing, that could be fun too...


Not working. Don't know why. I assume they'll begin working again at some point.



The Gropinator tells us about the behavior of Fox News propagandists.


Over at TAPPED Big Media Matt says a lot of what needs to be said about the DLC. In some ways the DLC is a lot like Joe Lieberman - a hell of a lot more liberal in stated policy positions and votes than most people give him credit for. But, in politics as in many things, sometimes emphasis is everything. In 2003 it's really rather silly to be too concerned about Democrats appearing to be "too lefty" when the Republicans are passing an agenda, with the help of conservative Democrats, that the DLC doesn't actually support. The only way to be an opposition party is to, well, oppose. That would be different if the Dems controlled either the House or the Senate, but they don't.

As for their hissy fit about Howard Dean, I really don't know what to make of that. I have no idea if Howard Dean is the guy with the most chance to win, but disingenuous arguments against that make it appear that they're more concerned with Dean losing than with Bush losing. Any organization with the name "Democratic" in the title should have realized that at some point one of these guys is going to be the nominee. Spending months blasting the perceived frontrunner means that come '04 they can either shut the hell up or endorse George Bush.

Stupid White House Tricks

Can anyone even begin to comprehend this paragraph:

The source said that at the time of the State of the Union speech, there was no organized system at the White House to vet intelligence, and the informal system that was followed did not work in the case of that speech. The White House has since established procedures for handling intelligence in presidential speeches by including a CIA officer in the speechwriting process.

Look, media, everybody - it's time to just come right out and say it. CONDI RICE IS AN INCOMPETENT CORRUPT LIAR.

Stupid Airport Tricks

Back when I lived out there I had to deal with LAX's ridiculous post-9/11 security precautions. The worst one, which they've brought back, was the banning of all private cars from the terminal area. Aside from the fact that the airport did not have a sufficient external parking/shuttle system to cope with even a fraction of the passengers, there was a minor hole in this plan - a hole big enough to drive a cab through. Cabs still had pretty unfettered access. And, given that concerns were and are primarily about Arab/Muslim terrorists, and every single cab in LA appears to be driven by recent Arab immigrants...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Tucker in Iraq

This is an interesting perspective:

CARLSON: Well, actually, I didn't deal with a lot of soldiers. I went over with Kelly McCann, CNN security analyst and a wonderful guy, a wonderfully tough guy. We did not stay in the green zone. We stayed in a house in Baghdad and saw almost no soldiers.

I interviewed precisely one, Jim Light (ph), who lives in Germany, a wonderful guy. But in the drive from Kuwait into Baghdad, I didn't see a single American soldier from the Kuwait border all the way until I got to the CNN bureau at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. Driving around Baghdad, which we did a lot every day, I didn't see any, none, not one American soldier. It was really striking.

BEGALA: Did you ask why? Well, first off, explain to the folks the green zone vs. the rest of Baghdad.

CARLSON: The green zone is essentially the neighborhood where Saddam Hussein kept his palaces, wide streets, lovely area. I can't -- I'm not quite sure how big it is, some hundreds of acres. It's where the monuments are, the crossed swords, the things you see on television. And it's essentially an American zone, heavily fortified, hard to get in, tanks around the perimeter, parts of it anyway, and many American soldiers there, and also the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, which is creating a new government there.

And that's a relatively secure area, not totally secure, but very different than the rest of Baghdad, which, again, there's not an obvious American presence. I saw one American flag, one, when I was there for the entire week. And it was at the Baghdad International Airport on the fourth floor in the bar. And that was it.

Torture Lou!


Limbaugh Lies

Greg Beato documents how dishonest Rush has been about his recent troubles.

In email Greg also made a couple of points. One I had alluded to earlier, that Roy Black has pretty much admitted that Rush bought drugs from Cline. An odd legal defense - admitting guilt.

He also writes, with respect to this paragraph on Limbaugh's back surgery:

At a hearing Monday, Black said his client suffered from a degenerative disc disease with "pain so great at one point doctors thought he had bone
cancer," but Limbaugh chose to take painkillers rather than have surgery. Surgery to reach the affected part of Limbaugh's spine could have threatened his voice and his career as a commentator, Black said.

In response, Greg writes:

Limbaugh's initial claim that he became hooked on painkillers after back surgery has always been shrouded in a little mystery, as he's never explained when and where he had that surgery, and there don't seem to be any articles about it from the time period when he suggest he had it ('94 - '96). At some point in the development of this story, the notion of an additional surgery raised - the one that would have had to go through his neck and possibly jeapordize his voice/career. But the initial surgery never gets mentioned, and if this AP summary of Black's is accurate, he doesn't acknowledge it either. Instead, he seems to be suggesting that Limbaugh's addiction started not after taking pills in the wake of back surgery, but
from avoiding surgery altogether...

Given all the confusion, it'd be nice if one of the reporters covering the story actually provided some substantive info on the alleged initial back

For more back surgery background see here.

Those Nasty Liberals

Imagine how those sensitive types on the right would howl if a liberal media figure (assuming we could locate one) had published a book entitled "Deliver Us from Evil : Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Conservatism." They'd faint from the trauma, mount a class action suit, and call for the person to be arrested for "hate speech."

Oh, and the publisher would withdraw the book.

... we joke about it, but I'm still quite surprised about the degree to which the Right has morphed entirely into the caricature of the Left they've been bleating about for years - speech codes, victimhood, oversensitivity, tendency to sue, etc...

Mo Money

Following the lead of the Kerry campaign, the Dean campaign is now advertising here.

Onward to the Netherlands!

The Senate has authorized the use of force against the Netherlands.

As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.
(this is old, but "new to me.")

Ha Ha Ha

In an earlier post I unfairly (though I was open about it) criticized Limbaugh for claiming he had a right to privacy by quoting him as saying there was no constitutional right to privacy. I guess I wasn't being unfair after all:

Limbaugh argued that he has a constitutional right to privacy over the records, and that the seizure of the records by the State Attorney's Office was making it difficult for him to obtain treatment from his doctors.


I agree with the view, best articulated by Judge Robert Bork, that there is no basis in the Constitution for the privacy right which was announced as the foundational basis for the constitutional right to abortion.


There is no right to privacy specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

...okay, it is true that the Florida constitution does specifically enumerate some privacy right.

Section 23. Right of privacy. - Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into his private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public's right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.

...Limbaugh today.

It's not up to me to prove my innocence by giving up my right to privacy. I have to give up my right to privacy now in order for the state who is, in effect, just casting a line out there, hoping to net something. They've got to invade my privacy to do this.

flopping fish

Howie's World


One could argue that the so-called liberal media do the same thing, but the right, which sees itself as shut out of the mainstream media, has become awfully skilled at taking what might seem like a minor matter and blowing it up into the issue of the day.

So, let me get this straight. The right is shut out of the mainstream media and because of this they are very successful at getting the mainstream media to to focus on whatever they want it to.

Makes sense to me.

Moral Clarity


Pressure mounted on the Reagan administration, which had already verified Iraq's "almost daily" use of the weapons against Iran and against Kurdish rebels, documents show. In February, Iraq warned Iranian "invaders" that "for every harmful insect there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it." Within weeks, the American authorities intercepted precursor chemicals that were bound for Iraq. Finally, on March 5, the United States issued a public condemnation of Iraq.

But days later, Mr. Shultz and his deputy met with an Iraqi diplomat, Ismet Kittani, to soften the blow. The American relationship with Iraq was too important — involving business interests, Middle East diplomacy and a shared determination to thwart Iran — to sacrifice. Mr. Kittani left the meeting "unpersuaded," documents show.

Mr. Shultz then turned to Mr. Rumsfeld. In a March 24 briefing document, Mr. Rumsfeld was asked to present America's bottom line. At first, the memo recapitulated Mr. Shultz's message to Mr. Kittani, saying it "clarified that our CW [chemical weapons] condemnation was made strictly out of our strong opposition to the use of lethal and incapacitating CW, wherever it occurs." The American officials had "emphasized that our interests in 1) preventing an Iranian victory and 2) continuing to improve bilateral relations with Iraq, at a pace of Iraq's choosing, remain undiminished," it said.

No Protection for Liars

Robert Scheer's right. When a journalist is used to spread bullshit, their responsibility is to inform their readers who put them up to it. Their responsibility is not in these cases to protect their sources.

Rusty's Medical Records Unsealed


Krugman's Revenge

Haha. I hear blood vessels popping over at Chez Andy.

Here's my review of Lord Black's new book: AWESOME!

Where's my payoff?

Theocracy Rising


All images of gay gatherings at national sites, including the Millennium March on the Washington Mall have been ordered removed from videotapes that have been shown at the Lincoln Memorial since 1995 according to a civil service group.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) says that the directive came from National Parks Service Deputy Director Donald Murphy. Murphy is said to have been concerned about pictures in the video that showed same-sex couples kissing and holding hands after conservative groups complained.

The Millennium March held in 2000 to bring attention to LGBT civil rights issues drew tens of thousands of gays and their supporters to the mall for one of the biggest demonstrations since the civil rights and anti-war marches of the 1960s.

Also ordered cut from the tape were scenes of abortion rights demonstrations at the memorial, and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations "because it implies that Lincoln would have supported homosexual and abortion rights as well as feminism."

In their place, the Park Service is inserting scenes of the Christian group Promise Keepers and pro-Gulf War demonstrators though these events did not take place at the Memorial in what Murphy calls a "more balanced" version.

"The Park Service leadership now caters exclusively to conservative Christian fundamentalist groups," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "The Bush Administration appears to be sponsoring a program of Faith-Based Parks."

Last July, Murphy ordered the Grand Canyon National Park to return three bronze plaques bearing biblical verses to public viewing areas on the Canyon's South Rim. Murphy overruled the park superintendent who had directed the plaques' removal based on legal advice from the Interior Department that the religious displays violated the First Amendment.

This fall, the Park Service also approved a creationist text, "Grand Canyon: A Different View" for sale in park bookstores and museums. The book by Tom Vail, claims that the Grand Canyon is really only a few thousand years old, developing on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. At the same time, Park Service leadership has blocked publication of guidance for park rangers and other interpretative staff that labeled creationism as lacking any scientific basis.

...PFAW has more.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Positive and Normative

Obviously I'm increasingly breaking my "no primary" pledge, which I knew I would break at some point. But, I'm still doing my best to do "positive" rather than "normative" analysis. I'm trying to comment on what is or likely to be, rather than what I would personally like to happen. In the context of the primary, that means making comments on campaign strategy and predictions about what will happen, and not expressing an opinion on who I would like to win or who I would think would make the best opposition candidate (potentially, but not necessarily, the same thing.)

But, for the sake of full disclosure let me say that at various times I've thought that Kerry, Edwards, Clark, and Dean would make the "best candidate." After having all of these periods, of varying lengths, I decided I didn't have a clue and neither did anyone else. There are certain things which are quantifiable - fundraising, polls - but the rest of it is largely subjective. And, as plenty of Smart People (even Smarter People Than Me (!!)) have differing opinions on this subject, it's fair to say that smart people differ and nobody has the monopoly on wisdom on this subject.

My views on why, say, Clark or Dean could be the "better" candidate are often somewhat contrarian, but unlike Slate magazine or Christopher Hitchens I don't think contrarianism is a sign of wisdom. So, again, what the hell do I know. By March 5, if not earlier, we'll know who the candidate is and then we'll be able to finally keep our eyes on the prize.

Black's Strategy

Talk Left tells us what Roy Black's strategy is - and she's right. Rush isn't so worried about the Florida doctor shopping charges - although he's probably somewhat worried - he's worried about the possible federal money laundering charges.

Yet Another Poll (ABC/WaPo)

This one's pretty surprising:

Dean 31 (16)
Lieberman 9 (13)
Gephardt 9 (13)
Kerry 8 (8)
Clark 7 (12)
Edwards 6 ( 5)
Sharpton 5 (7)
Kucinich 2 (2)
Moseley Braun - (5)
Don't Know 14 (11)
None of these 7 (7)
Would not vote 2 (2)
Other 1 (1)

National polls aren't that important for all the reasons Kos is always telling us, but they're entertaining nonetheless.

Admitting Guilt?

I have to admit I don't quite get Roy Black's legal strategy, which seems to be to claim that Rush was blackmailed but he couldn't admit that he was being blackmailed because if he did the FBI would go after him (oh, and his ENEMIES too).

Black said Limbaugh wanted to contact the FBI, but was told by an unidentified friend that if he went to the authorities, they would target him, and his political enemies would use the information against him.

"That's exactly what happened," said Black, who also alleged that Cline's husband was a convicted drug trafficker.

Rush Plea Bargain?

Wonder what kind of BS sentence they'll give him.

The Frontrunners

For some time now the media has made this a "Dean vs. Clark" race. It isn't entirely clear why. Dean is obviously the frontrunner - both in national poll performance and more importantly in polls of states with early primaries. But, if we need to pick a number two based on available poll numbers, who should it be?

Judging by national poll numbers it's a tossup between Clark and Lieberman, with Lieberman probably having a slight edge (and Gephardt not far behind).

Moving to the state polls (slogging through Kos's archives for all of these), what do we see? Clark's out of Iowa (what was he thinking?), and it has Dean and Gephardt in the #1 and #2 spots.

Moving onto New Hampshire, we currently have Dean and Kerry in the #1 and #2 spots.

Then, onward to Feb. 3 - Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Arizona has Dean ahead, and Clark second but statistically tied with 3 others in this poll, though this one makes it a Dean/Clark close race.The only poll of Delaware was taken in October, and it has Lieberman coming out ahead.

South Carolina has Dean first with Clark, Sharpton, and Edwards basically tied for second in that poll, and a closer Dean/Clark race in this poll.

Oklahoma has Clark winning.

Some later polls:

Wisconsin has Dean ahead, with Lieberman and Clark basically tied for second.

Pennsylvania (very late so probably irrelevant) has Dean first, with Lieberman second.

Anyway, I'm tired of looking up more numbers. But, the point is that there's really no evidence that any particular candidate has become the "anti-Dean" candidate.


It really is astounding that John Kerry is polling below both Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley-Braun in the latest national poll.

When it was clear that Kerry was slipping he really needed to figure out some kind of hail Mary pass. Saying, in effect, that he's more like George Bush than Howard Dean is was that pass - he just threw it towards the wrong end zone.

okay, enough bad sports metaphors.

Anyway, for the record count me among those who once assumed Kerry would be the nominee.

Jonah Needs Your Help!

Jonah Goldberg wants to know about the underreported stories of 2003.


I know winning a libel case is impossible in this country, and I would rarely recommend someone bother trying, but this Andrew Sullivan post about Donald Luskin's precious is so filled with errors - errors which, given Sullivan's obsession with this story, he has to know are false - that it crosses the line. Unless, of course, the minty fresh testostogel has fried his brain.

IN DENIAL II: Hmmm. The New York Times runs a big story on the journalistic friends of Conrad Black, media mogul in ethical rapids. They detail how some leading conservatives have been paid handsomely on Black's "advisory boards" while not disclosing their payments. Who does that remind you of? Two years ago, it was revealed that Enron - yes, Enron - had been lavishing huge sums on friendly journalists, including the New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman.

Enron never gave any money to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. They gave money to academic and occasional freelance writer Paul Krugman before he worked at the New York Times. Krugman disclosed his financial connection when he wrote about Enron (Favorably) for Fortune magazine, and he disclosed it yet again - though it was a past relationship - when he began writing about Enron (very negatively) in his capacity as an NYT columnist.

The NYT - despite devoting enormous resources to the Enron story - deliberately ignored the journalism angle. Krugman still hasn't disclosed the tens of thousands of thinly-veiled bribes he got from Enron, while he postures absurdly as a foe of the powerful.

He then subsequently disclosed the precise nature of the relationship - money paid and what it was paid for. Maybe Andy has invented a new definition for "disclosed" which means "give it to Andy Sullivan" or something, but otherwise...

Andy continues to mention this story despite ignoring all the Enron money which was given to people like Peggy Noonan, Bill Kristol, and who knows who else that we haven't heard about. Krugman's crime appears to be receiving money, disclosing it, disclosing it further, all the while writing very negatively about them. How corrupt!

Besides, as Tbogg reminds us, the very idea of Andy writing about anyone's financial conflicts of interests (or journalistic lapses of any kind), is laughable:

Andrew Sullivan's latest controversy began Tuesday, when the New York Times published an article on the recent phenomenon of online "me-zines" -- scrappy, self-produced, sometimes stream-of-consciousness commentaries by celebrity intellectuals. But Sullivan's attempt to achieve what has eluded most online journalism ventures -- make his Web site self-sustaining, maybe even make a profit -- landed him in new trouble with his critics this week, after the story matter-of-factly reported that Sullivan had signed up his first corporate sponsor: the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

PhRMA is the association that looks out for the interests of industry giants like Pfizer and Merck on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. What the Times failed to report is that Sullivan has used his own Web site, as well as his posts at the New York Times Magazine and the New Republic to repeatedly -- and controversially - defend the pharmaceutical industry against criticism over its role in the global AIDS pandemic.

The controversy over Sullivan's site sponsor was short-lived: After reporters from Salon and other news organizations made calls to Sullivan's editors, as well as to journalism experts, about the ethics of a journalist being personally sponsored by an industry he frequently defends, Sullivan announced he would return the $7,500 annual sponsorship. But the larger question raised by the flap isn't likely to go away: How can a one-person "me-zine" develop ethical standards that allow it to accept the kind of advertising and sponsorships that go to corporate media monoliths, without the conflict of interest taint that naturally goes along with a journalist getting the personal backing of a controversial patron?

Medical Malpractice

The Daily Misleader has a must read about the costs of medical malpractice.

Private and Public

Will we ever run out of people who don't understand the difference between private and public? Yet another silly Homeowner's Association dispute where some poor soul thinks their rights as an American are being violated.

"This is an abuse of power," Dianne Bambu said. "The bylaws of a deed-restricted community supersede your right as an American citizen."

Suck it up - you entered into a private contract when you bought your property and you're bound by it.

But, I do think the courts have gone a bit too far in allowing HOAs to do almost anything they want. At some point, the neighborhoods get large enough and enough typical functions of government taken over by them that for all purposes they *are* governments. At some point, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... it's a duck. At the moment, however, the courts don't agree with my assessment.

First Refusal

Even this euro-phile internationalist doesn't think Europe should have a veto power over any military action we should take. But, now that Wesley Clark has said that Europe should have the right of first refusal, the usual nattering nabobs are pretending that what he really said was that Europe should have a veto power. Mark Kleiman explains.

Get used to this. As Sam Donaldson has informed us, it's the journalist's job to take perfectly reasonable statements made by candidates, pretend they mean something completely outrageous, even when the journalist actually knows better, and then proceed to criticize them for it. Ah, journalism. Such a noble profession.

George Will's Consistency

George will debates himself about the meaning of the constitution:

In 1993:

The Constitution provides only that, other than in the five cases, a simple majority vote shall decide the disposition by each house of business that has consequences beyond each house, such as passing legislation or confirming executive or judicial nominees. Procedural rules internal to each house are another matter. And the generation that wrote and ratified the Constitution - the generation whose actions are considered particularly illuminating concerning the meaning and spirit of the Constitution - set the Senate's permissive tradition regarding extended debate. There was something very like a filibuster in the First Congress.

Ten Years Later:

The president, preoccupied with regime change elsewhere, will occupy a substantially diminished presidency unless he defeats the current attempt to alter the constitutional regime here. If at least 41 Senate Democrats succeed in blocking a vote on the confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Constitution effectively will be amended.

If Senate rules, exploited by an anti-constitutional minority, are allowed to trump the Constitution's text and two centuries of practice, the Senate's power to consent to judicial nominations will have become a Senate right to require a 60-vote supermajority for confirmations. By thus nullifying the president's power to shape the judiciary, the Democratic Party will wield a presidential power without having won a presidential election.

George Will's Business

This is absolutely none of our business:

Rumors about the self-declared 'thoroughly married' George Will and Lally Weymouth, globetrotting, rigidly Marxist reporter, daughter os Post owner Kartherine Graham and former main squeeze of Alexander Cockburn, were initially dismissed by Washington wags as Too Good to be True, but then Will left his wife and children to buy a $990,000 house a few blocks away from his family in Chevy Chase, only to see, according to the Washingtonian magazine, his office furniture left on his front lawn with a note reading 'Take it somewhere else, Buster'. The cocktail party circuit exploded. Will and Weymouth both denied that the relationship had been romantic and threatened to sue the Washingtonian. The Washingtonian offered to write a correction if it would be allowed to investigate the matter and Interview Will's friends. The matter was dropped there....

Since breaking off with Weymouth, Will apparently found love again with former White House communications worker Mari Maseng, thirteen years his junior. The couple was married in Will's home on October 12, 1991."

From Eric Alterman's Sound and Fury.

Tom Tomorrow

The Bearded Liberal gets a visit from the Patriotism Police.


A lovely little article about payola in the media business.

It should be absolutely incomprehensible that George Will has a job. On this, Will comments:

My business is my business. Got it.

ha ha ha. Let's make this annoy George Will week...

But, for the record, if anyone wants to pay me gobs of money to sit on Boards and do little or nothing I'd be more than happy to write a nice blurb for the cover of your next book.

Political Hate Speech

I still don't know what it is, but it appears Tom DeLay is engaging in it.

Big Media Matt has a nice little theory about why Timmy Russert is soft on DeLay. But, Matt's just trying to come up with a justification for Russert's performance. Russert is a Republican shill - always has been, and presumably always will be.

Limbaugh v. Limbaugh

Limbaugh then:

There is no right to privacy specifically enumerated in the Constitution.


Limbaugh's attorneys filed a court action asking a judge to review the propriety of the seizure of the medical records, which are under seal and haven't been reviewed by prosecutors. They asked for a hearing in the next three days to assert Limbaugh's right to privacy and prevent prosecutors from gaining access to them.

Yes I know there could be statutory privacy issues that aren't necessarily explicitly constitutional.

Stupid White Women

Peggy Noonan really is the epitome:

MATTHEWS: No, no. The particular question here is, why do the majority of the people still believe that Saddam Hussein attacked us 9/11 and, therefore, believe the world is safer because he is gone?

NOONAN: Chris, take a look at what that poll says. It doesn‘t say they are certain Saddam Hussein did 9/11. They think Osama...

MATTHEWS: No, they say he personally was involved.

NOONAN: They think Osama bin Laden did 9/11. They also think the world is a complicated place. And they think that Saddam...

MATTHEWS: No, no, Peggy, you are not listening. You are not listening.

NOONAN: I am listening.


NOONAN: They think that Saddam Hussein was helpful to international bad guys and the world‘s bad guys.

MATTHEWS: No. They say he was personally involved in blowing up the World Trade Center, personally involved. Do you believe he was personally involved?

NOONAN: Do I think he did it?

MATTHEWS: Yes. No, was personally involved in it.

NOONAN: Do I think he was on the plane? Do I think he pulled the levers that Osama bin Laden did?

MATTHEWS: No, do you believe he was personally...


Do I suspect that he was helpful to our enemies and helpful to terrorism, looking to hurt us? Yes.

MATTHEWS: But do you think he was personally involved in blowing up the World Trade Center, Saddam Hussein? That is the critical question here, because it involves whether we‘re safe or not.


NOONAN: Chris...

MATTHEWS: Do you believe he was personally involved?

NOONAN: Chris, I don‘t think it can be asked as a crystal question.

First of all, I think a lot will come out and be revealed in time and a lot will be studied that we already know. It seems to me that Saddam Hussein was a guy who was extremely helpful to our enemies, our foes, our opponents, terrorism, etcetera. He was friends with those guys. We will see. There was a report just last week.

MATTHEWS: Why are you having a hard time with a question of fact here? Lawrence made a very clear statement. He said there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. Is Lawrence correct?

NOONAN: Lawrence made a clear statement that he doesn‘t believe that Saddam Hussein had any part, correct?

MATTHEWS: What do you believe?

NOONAN: In 9/11?

O‘DONNELL: No, no, Peggy. I didn‘t say that.


NOONAN: All right. What did you say, Lawrence?

O‘DONNELL: I said—and this is quite simple.


O‘DONNELL: There is absolutely no evidence of it. I do not have a religious belief one way or the other. I know, scientifically, evidentiary, there is no evidence for it.

MATTHEWS: Do you challenge that, Peggy? Do you have any evidence?

NOONAN: I‘m sure there is evidence that he has been helpful to bad guys who have tried to hurt us and who in fact have hurt us in the past.


MATTHEWS: Peggy, you can‘t handle this question, because it gets to the heart of why we went to war. You can‘t handle the truth.

NOONAN: We will look and see what wires connected him with the other people.


MATTHEWS: We will be right back to talk about the gender gap.


MATTHEWS: We will be right back to talk to Peggy Noonan about other things. I‘m out of time for this moment.

More from Peggy and Lawrence when we come back.


MATTHEWS: We are back with more “Political Buzz” with Peggy Noonan, Lawrence O‘Donnell and Alexandra Starr.

Peggy, I have to go back to you one more time.

If the American people believed that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, would they be as much for the war and as much to believe right now that we are safer because of we‘ve captured him, have captured him, if they thought he had nothing to do with 9/11?

NOONAN: Yes, that is too complicated.


MATTHEWS: No, no. It is not complicated at all.

NOONAN: I‘m sorry. It is.

MATTHEWS: And no else on this panel think it‘s complicated.

NOONAN: I‘ll bet. I‘ll bet.

MATTHEWS: Why it is too complicated to know the truth? I don‘t know why it‘s complicated to face the facts here.

NOONAN: Chris, give it to me. Give it to me.


NOONAN: I don‘t think that‘s fair. That is ad hominem.

MATTHEWS: No, it‘s simple. No.

NOONAN: Yes, it is.

MATTHEWS: If the American people knew the truth that there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, would they be as supportive of this war and as assured that we‘re safer for having captured Saddam Hussein?

NOONAN: You and I have talked about this many times in the past.

MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking a question.

NOONAN: I‘m trying to answer it.

I think, after September 11, the American people came to some hard conclusions about those who are real trouble in the world. And I think Saddam Hussein was on the list of those who are moving against American interests and the interests of peace. He had been an international troublemaker for a very long time. I think they were correct to see him as that. I saw him as that.

MATTHEWS: What act of war...

NOONAN: I‘m glad...

MATTHEWS: What act of war did Saddam Hussein ever take against the United States, what act of war against us?

NOONAN: Oh, Christopher.

MATTHEWS: Just name one. Help me. One.

It goes on...

Stupid White Men

Lou Dobbs really is the epitome:

DOBBS: Let me start first, 96 percent of us, according to most polls, celebrate Christmas. Why in the world do we care about a program in a public school in which children are singing "White Christmas," "We Wish You A Merry Christmas."

NADINE STROSSEN, PRESIDENT, ACLU: That's actually quite fine, Lou. Under the United States constitution, religious liberty means that government has no business either preferring religion or disfavoring religion.

And that means government certainly may not suppress the 96 percent of Americans who are celebrating Christmas in their own churches or in their own homes. In the public schools, if there's no religious component and we're just talking about, you know, seasonal songs as part of a seasonal celebration that would extend to other holidays as well, that's also absolutely fine.


DOBBS: The point is that a number of schools have been approached by the ACLU, told they cannot have Nativity scenes on their lawns.

STROSSEN: Well, that would absolutely if it were a Nativity scene on public property, namely, a public school with impressionable school children, with no other attendant displays, that's clearly unconstitutional according to a decision written by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, hardly a flaming radical appointed by Ronald Reagan.

And she said the problem with this kind of unattended Christian display in a public school or indeed in a public square is that it sends a message to certain children that they are outsiders, that they are not part of our community.

DOBBS: What about Santa Claus in the classroom?

STROSSEN: Last time I knew Santa Claus did not have any Christian connotations and is part of what the Supreme Court calls...

DOBBS: St. Nicholas? St. Nicholas? My gosh, I...

STROSSEN: Lou, let me tell you, let me tell you, the Supreme Court's test, concocted by Sandra Day O'Connor, a Ronald Reagan appointee, I think, is a very reasonable and fair one. We certainly support it. Let me tell you, would a reasonable observer looking at this, think that it is an endorsement of religion? I don't think a reasonable observer looking at Santa Claus would say that's an endorsement of religion. I do think looking at a Nativity scene, they'd say it is and it's unconstitutional.

DOBBS: This is a great country. I think we all agree about that. What I'm having trouble with and a few other folks are, and this comes not from a religious belief, but children singing Christmas carols, surely there is a more important...

STROSSEN: Have you heard me object to that? I have not objected to that nor have our clients. If you're talking about a nativity scene that's very different from singing "Jingle Bells" or Christmas carols.

SEARS: In Colorado you wrote a demand letter to one of our clients.

STROSSEN: I read that letter. It was not complaining about Christmas carols.


SEARS: So you encourage schools to have any Christmas Carol they want to sing in any of their school programs?
STROSSEN: As part of a neutral program.

DOBBS: Oh, for crying out loud.

STROSSEN: As recognizing the holiday season. I'm quoting the Supreme Court's decision.

DOBBS: I don't care what you're quoting.

STROSSEN: We have Kwanza.

DOBBS: Does common sense fit in here anywhere?

STROSSEN: Common sense, I think, is reflected in the notion that religion is not going to flourish if the government can intervene to promote some religions and to discourage other religion.

DOBBS: What are you doing, you have the courts intervening in communities all over the country. That's government.

STROSSEN: In order to preserve the neutrality. That religion precisely because it's so special, belongs in the realm of the individual, the family, the church, other places of worship. It does not belong mixed up with government.

DOBBS: Nadine -- I've got producers screaming at me, Alan. You have been poorly treated on this broadcast. I have not been able, I apologize. I'm going to ask you both to come back.

DOBBS: Well, we're going to sing them here no matter what. We'll take a lawsuit.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight, "Do you believe that Christmas and Santa are part of the American culture and, therefore, should be preserved in our schools and public places? Yes or no." Cast your vote at We'll have the results for you later

Lou just doesn't hear anything which doesn't fit his worldview. Christians are persecuted. The ACLU doesn't want your kids singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. blahblahblah

AFA Poll

Don't forget to take it.

... it's interesting. This poll has really been making the rounds. Friends who are fairly non-political and don't know I do this blog have sent it to my "real life" email. Funny.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Moral Clarity

Our partner in the coalition of the willing.

You Go Girl!

Wes Clark says what needs to be said.

Clark would easily kick the crap out of the entire 1st Chickenblogger Division.

Toxica Popa

When Priests Attack!

Nearly two dozen Chicago area priests in an open letter have denounced the Vatican's anti-gay rhetoric, calling it "vile and toxic".

Saying they can no longer remain silent, the priests from parishes in both the city of Chicago and the suburbs the priests said the Church is being "divisive and exclusionary" and "increasingly violent and abusive."

It is the first mass revolt in the Catholic Church by clergy over the issues of gay priests and same-sex marriage.

"As priests and pastors we are speaking out to make clear that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are all members of God's family, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus and deserving of the same dignity and respect owed any human being," the letter stated.

I'm not a Catholic, but as an outsider I find it puzzling that their anti-gay rhetoric is stronger than their anti-adultery and anti-divorce rhetoric. There's much more support for the latter two in scripture.

More broadly, I don't get why sex sins seem to have been elevated above all others.


Dwight Meredith lets us know how full of shit Newsweek is.

Must read.


Clinton administration warned about stuff which wasn't true.

In related news, Clinton administration accused of doing things they didn't do.


Hey, that didn't take long.

That Liberal Media

Kit Seelye is a truly horrible reporter. She should have been fired long ago for many many atrocious pieces. En banc takes a look at her "gay marriage poll" report and finds it totally slanted.

The biggest problem with Eric Alterman's "What Liberal Media?" book was that he, without doing much research, conceded the point that the media are more socially liberal than the population at large. In a broad sense this is probably correct, but it doesn't mean that the coverage of minority issues - particularly gay issues - reflects this bias at all. It's one thing to be "pro-gay" in some general clueless sense, and it's another to have any understanding of what the issues are. Combine this with the general tendency to bend over backwards to please Lou Sheldon, and media coverage of gay issues is absolutely atrocious.

The Howler has documented more Seelye atrocities.

There probably isn't much point, because as Jerry Doolittle notes the new Times ombudsman is just a bit of Grey Lady auto-eroticism, but if you're so inclined you can contact him at: Telephone messages: (212) 556-7652

NFL Copyright Warning

Maybe I heard this wrong, but I'm sitting here watching the Iggles and I swear the official copyright warning went something like "This game is copyrighted by the NFL..blahblahblah... permission must be obtained for any other use including descriptions of the game..."


The Iggles are winning!

Sue me.

New Terror Alert System

...what are they thinking? Don't they know Bert is a collaborator?

The Sanctity of Civil Unions

Congratulations to Terrence McNally and Thomas Kerdahy.

Terrence McNally, the playwright, and Thomas Joseph Kirdahy, a public-interest lawyer, affirmed their partnership last evening at the Inn at Sawmill Farm in West Dover, Vt. Millicent B. Atkin, a justice of the peace for Dover, Vt., performed the civil union ceremony.

Mr. McNally, 65, won Tony awards for best play for "Love! Valour! Compassion!" (1995) and "Master Class" (1996) and for best book of a musical for his adaptations of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1993) and "Ragtime" (1998). Mr. McNally also wrote "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" (1987) and "Lips Together, Teeth Apart"(1991).

Mr. McNally's latest play, "The Stendhal Syndrome," is to open in February at Primary Stages in New York, with a cast led by Isabella Rossellini and Richard Thomas.

Mr. McNally graduated from Columbia. His parents, the late Dorothy K. McNally and Hubert A. McNally, lived in Corpus Christi, Tex., where his father owned Ace Sales, a beer distributor.

Mr. Kirdahy, 40, is a public advocate in Riverhead, N.Y., with Nassau-Suffolk Law Services, a nonprofit program that provides legal assistance in civil matters to low-income clients. He specializes in representing people with H.I.V. or AIDS. He graduated from New York University, from which he also received his law degree.

Oddly, this doesn't make me want to get a divorce. How could that be?

The God Card

Another thing that everyone knows is that Democrats are God-hating heathen pagan atheists. Much like gay rights issues, there's literally nothing they can do overcome that image. Divorced Ronald Reagan went to church about as often as I do but that didn't stop him from being portrayed as a God-fearing devout [insert your own denomination here] Christian. Playing the God Card in the primaries is just another way of shooting ourselves in the collective foot.

Look, even Holy Joe Lieberman got some shitty press about his religion - a lot of snarky talk about his use of a Sabbath Goy, vague insinuations that X or Y was somehow incompatible with his religion and therefore he wasn't *really* orthodox, or at least not a "good" Orthodox, etc...

Stop playing defense on these issues, and stop letting the other side write the script.

Is it possible that Democrats can overcome the perception that they're anti-religion? Perhaps in the long run. But, the fact is that the people who care most about this stuff aren't going to be happy until we have Ten Commandment monuments on every street corner. The media and the Republicans have successfully equated "religious" and "the religious Right," despite the liberal traditions of many many many churches. Embracing bumper sticker religion in the short run, and pissing off persecuted religious minorities like myself by condemning secularism, is just another way to try to out-Republican the Republicans and that can't be done.

... and, yes, as 56K points out the attacks on Dean specifically are a way of pointing out that his kids have been raised as Jews, and that therefore he can't be particularly religious.

... one more thing - the moment when I was most embarrassed to actually bother supporting the Democrats was when they all gathered on the steps of the Capitol and belted out the 1954 Knights of Columbus version of the Pledge of Allegiance, screeching "UNDER GOD" at the top of their lungs like they were cheering at a hockey game.

Why Does Tom Ridge Hate America?

Much like Howard Dean (and every 5 year old with a modest level of intelligence), he doesn't think that capturing Saddam has made us any safer from terrorists. CONDITION ORANGE!!!

Sea Monkey Sadness

Who knew the "inventor" of Sea Monkeys was a Jewish KKK member.

Congratulations Charles Pierce!

For getting an award from the Media Research Center. Of course, in keeping with the fine traditions of journalistic integrity over at MRC, they quoted him out of context.

(via Ailes)

Bite Me Kathleen Parker

Not so complicated, really:

... here are some more people averting their gaze from unpleasantness.

...things sure were complicated back when Thurmond was running on a pro-lynching ticket.

Bush Tax

Coming to Pennsylvania.