Saturday, December 21, 2002

Frank Rich repeats a point I've been making all throught his mess:
When Jeb Bush succinctly condemned Mr. Lott for the crime of being "damaging to the Republican Party" — as opposed to, say, being damaging to black people — he was telling the truth. Mr. Lott would not have hurt his party were he an anomaly within it. What made him toxic to the Republican fraternity was his careless revelation of its darkest predilections.
He goes on to deride the "minstrel show" quality of Republican photo-ops and the 2000 GOP convention as well as other prominent Republicans who have done as bad, or worse than Mr. Lott did (Ashcroft anyone?) The questions remain: will the establishment media, now that Lott has stepped down, drop this story as they have so often in the past? Will the Democrats continue to be meek on this point? Will they back Clinton in his comments about Lott's tactics being common practice in today's GOP? Speaking of Clinton, notice that his comments got nowhere near the shit-storm level of response that I and many others predicted? Could it be that the word went out in Republican circles to simply not respond to it because, to do otherwise, might bring the issue to light even more? And, of course, the establishment media went along with that directive.
... there are still too many Republican politicians who believe they can pander to whatever racist voters are out there without being called on it. When they are, they cringe — not so much because they care about losing their few black votes but because they care about losing soccer moms who are offended by race-baiting. "Elections are settled in the suburbs nowadays, 43 percent of the vote," said George Will in condemning Mr. Lott. It's that political reality, not any moral imperative, that mandated the majority leader's death sentence. ... I almost feel sorry for Trent Lott. Despite all the hyperbole that preceded his demise, he is no Bull Connor or David Duke or even Jesse Helms. He's just the guy who had to die before anyone looked too closely at other, even more powerful politicians' sins.

A media lovefest for Bill Frist is so predictable. In the establishment media, it's all about access. When someone new rises to prominence on the political scene (new as in new to that prominence, not necessarily new to politics) you will usually see a flurry of glowing profiles about the person. Why? Because the reporters are trying to butter up a potential source. The same thing happened when Ken Starr was named as IC and Henry Hyde started impeachment hearings. The whores are so predictable.

Friday, December 20, 2002

What if Dr. Laura called Dr. Laura? TBogg elucidates. (btw, thanks for the link)

I agree with Brad DeLong. The Republicans shouldn't think that Lott stepping down is bad for the Democrats.
The big story is that one of our two political parties has now taken a big step toward breaking the fetters of servitude that Richard Nixon fastened upon it when he decided on his Southern Strategy of nudge-nudge-wink-wink we-won't-enforce-the-civil-rights-laws that was so successful in getting people like Trent Lott to move over to the Republican Party. It is a great day for the Republic. (It will be an even greater day when Nixon's fetters are completely broken.) Those of us in the Democratic Party are very happy to see something new in the Republican Party--that it contains real Men and Women, and large numbers of them, too.
I've been thinking about this some this evening and I've come to the conclusion that the disgrace of Lott can only be viewed as a positive for both political parties. A lot of complaints have been made in recent years that the Democrats have shifted to far to the right and have left their core constituency in the lurch. I think the southern strategy may have had a big part in it. When Nixon and the GOP decided to purposely play to the sentiments of the segregationist shitheads (as Gene Lyons so aptly described them) they did so in order to steal the south away from the Democrats and dominate American politics. By nearly any measure, except the moral one, you would have to agree the plan has been a rousing success. The only problem is, as the GOP shifted to the extreme right in its appeal to the cockroaches, it started to lose its appeal to the middle. Your average suburbanite just doesn't want to be associated with that kind of trash. Perhaps a Reagan or a Dubya could make them temporarily forget what the Republican party has come to stand for, but only for a while. It was inevitable that they couldn't keep sweeping the garbage under the rug before people started to notice the lumps in the floor. The Democrats, in the form of the DLC and Bill Clinton, saw this opening demographic and, naturally, grabbed for it. Unfortunately, Clinton is the only one who has been really successful at it. The rest of the Democratic field has been generally inept when it comes to playing to the middle. They have come of looking to this key demographic like a bumbling bunch of cowards who aren't willing to defend themselves. Combine that with the feelings of betrayal on the leftward side of the political spectrum and it is surprising the Democrats are even close to parity with the Republicans. But consider this, if the Lott situation forces the GOP to perform a long overdue house-cleaning, they will have to stop making appeals to the sheetheads. This means they will start to lose the extremist votes. To make up for it, they will have to start competing even more for the middle. That means they will have to start shifting back to the left. Now, the Democrats could continue to compete with them for that group. Or they could wake up and realize they have a vast, untapped reserve on their left flank. So, just as the adoption of the southery strategy resulted in a shift to the right for both parties, a repudiation of it could result in a commensurate shift to the left. And that can't be anything but a good thing as far as I am concerned.

Get your Krugman! Hot as ever:
Quo Vadis, Karl? The day after the Republican triumph in the midterm elections, a jubilant Trent Lott held a celebratory press conference. "Let's roll!" he exulted. (Good taste is not one of Mr. Lott's strong points.) Six weeks later, we have to ask: Roll where (aside from Baghdad)? The storm that has broken over Mr. Lott's head is justified. But it may also reflect buyers' remorse: post-election polls suggest broad public unease about where Mr. Lott's party is taking us. It's not even clear what the Bush administration wants to accomplish now that it has full control. Until now the administration has been all politics and no policy; John J. DiIulio tells us that there is a "complete lack of a policy apparatus," that all decisions are made by the political arm. For the past two years domestic policy has consisted of little more than checking off the boxes on a wish list drawn up circa 1999. Meanwhile, as problems that weren't anticipated in 1999 have arisen, the administration has done as little as possible, as late as possible.
You know, it is really hard to quote Krugman because so much of what he writes is worthy of being quoted that I seriously run the risk of putting his whole column in my posts.
It may be that the bad few weeks the administration has just had were the result of random events. But I think the public is finally waking up to the fact that the people in the White House know a lot about gaining power, but not much about what to do with it.

Quotes from History Abraham Lincoln, February 15, 1848:
Let me first state what I understand to be your position. It is that if it shall become necessary to repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the Constitution, cross the line and invade the territory of another country, and that whether such necessity exists in any given case the President is the sole judge. ... Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose, and you allow him to make war at his pleasure. The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pre- tending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.
John Bricker, governor of Ohio and vice presidential running mate of Thomas Dewey in 1944, at the Republican Convention, protesting FDR's use of the phrase, "Win the War," as a campaign slogan, June 24, 1944:
I resent any leader taking unto himself the motto, "Win the War." That became the slogan of every American on December 7, 1941. The President of the United States is Commander in Chief of the armed forces, but he is not the Commander in Chief of the people. Like every governor of a state, he is the steward of the people--never their master.
Robert Taft (R), December 19, 1941 (12 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor):
As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government. Perhaps nothing today distinguishes democratic government in England so greatly from the totalitarianism of Germany as the freedom of criticism which has existed continuously in the House of Commons and elsewhere in England. Of course that criticism should not give any information to the enemy. But too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism. If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Trent out. Frist in? I wonder if this particular story will ever make headlines:
Frist is an animal lover who said his decision to become a doctor was clinched when he helped heal a friend's dog. But Frist now found himself forced to kill animals during medical research. And his new dilemma was finding enough animals to kill. Soon, he began lying to obtain more animals. He went to the animal shelters around Boston and promised he would care for the cats as pets. Then he killed them during experiments. "It was a heinous and dishonest thing to do," Frist wrote. "I was going a little crazy."

Yes, this is apparently the cover of the Daily Mirror. Whatever happened to approaching foreign policy with humility?

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Called Off the Trail? FBI Agents Probing Terror Links Say They Were Told, ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’ By Brian Ross and Vic Walter Dec. 19 — Two veteran FBI investigators say they were ordered to stop investigations into a suspected terror cell linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and the Sept. 11 attacks. 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. "Truthfully, if 9/11 had not occurred, we wouldn't be here [giving the interview]," said Vincent, a 27-year veteran at the bureau until he retired a few days after being interviewed by ABCNEWS. "Because of 9/11, we're here because we see the danger."

Mark Crispin Miller has penned a new preface for the 3rd edition of J.H. Hatfield's book "Fortunate Son". In this preface Mr. Miller relates the following comments about an incident that occured just as the 2nd edition (the first Soft Skull release) was going to press:
I was pacing outside on the cellphone and I called one of the sources from the afterword, and just let him know that, hey, the book's coming back out—kinda like, "Ha ha ha, you tried to stop it, but it's coming back out." And he was just kinda... well, pissed-off is the best way to put it. But he was cool about it, though. He said, "Look, Number One, we're gonna continue to discredit you every chance we get. We'll make the comments about you being an ex-convict and everything else—and write your science fiction or whatever"—just the same thing they've always said—"and we'll slam you every chance we get." I said, "Well, the difference is, this time I'm gonna put everything out on the table. I'm gonna come right back at ya!" I said, "If Bush says that kinda stuff in the press this time, then I'm gonna say, ‘Well, maybe it takes one to know one, and maybe if my dad was rich, I wouldn't have been down there hoeing cotton in Texas either on a prison farm, and—" I had all my little sound bites ready. And he says, "Well, the second thing we're gonna do is, you need to really think about the safety of your wife and newborn child"—which, he called her [i.e., his daughter] Haley—he called them by their names.
Mr. Miller identifies the man on the other end of the phone as Clay Johnson.

Demosthenes analyzes the dustup between The Daily Howler and Tapped:
To be blunt, We Don't Need This, Guys. I can understand the desire to eliminate simplistic reasoning, but to say that it's just about cliquishness or narratives is willfull blindness. There's a reason MWO became a sensation, and that's because there's more going on here. To deny it out of a desire for personal aggrandizement is attempt to be a key on the Wurlitzer that the Prospect recognized itself.
I agree. This is not the first time The Howler has gotten into this kind of fight with another site that, ostensibly, was on the same side. The problem is that some who see themselves as natural allies of Bob Somerby take offense at him when he aims his guns, albeit indirectly, at them. Bob is not one to soft-pedal his narrative and this can piss people off sometime who don't honestly feel they deserved that kind of criticism.

I feel safer. Don't you?
Hundreds Are Held After Visits to INS Hundreds of men and boys from Middle Eastern countries were arrested by federal immigration officials in Southern California this week when they complied with orders to appear at INS offices for a special registration program. The arrests drew thousands of people to demonstrate Wednesday in Los Angeles. Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesmen refused Wednesday to say how many people the agency had detained, what the specific charges were or how many were still being held. But officials speaking anonymously said they would not dispute estimates by lawyers for detainees that the number across Southern California was 500 to 700. In Los Angeles, up to one-fourth of those who showed up to register were jailed, lawyers said.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

CalPundit says it best so far...
SOME FREE AND 100% SINCERE ADVICE....My recommendation to Republicans: don't say anything. Just pretend he doesn't exist. Oh, I know you can't. Neither could Newt Gingrich, though, and look where it got him. So just grit your teeth, continue to intone "Trent must go," and suck it up. But you won't, will you? Instead you'll come completely unhinged, decide that anyone Slick Willie doesn't like must be OK after all, and ruin whatever moral credibility you might have started to build up over the last week. God, I love Bill Clinton.

Need some money? Know who is responsible for putting the Eli Lily provision into the Homeland Security bill? Well, is interested in hearing from you.

ConsortiumNews covers much of the same ground I've been talking about here with respect to Gore's decision and the naivete of some Democrats who seem to think that any candidate who is not-Gore will have an easier time of it in 2004. It also goes into some suggestions for putting together a counter-media to address the problem if the right-wing press and their willing buddies in the establishment media. Good stuff.

When your opponent is shooting themselves in the foot, don't stop them.
Lott Says Bush Aides Undermine Bid to Stay Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) yesterday lashed out at the White House for undermining his campaign to remain Senate Republican leader, as pressure mounted on him to step down. On a day when Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) became the first Senate Republican explicitly to call for his ouster, Lott struck back at the White House for leaking negative comments about him in recent days. "There seems to be some things that are seeping out [of the White House] that have not been helpful," Lott told reporters in Biloxi, Miss. He also voiced his concerns in a phone call with White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., Republican sources said. Lott's friends say he is upset at the White House not only for refusing to support him as leader but also for what they regard as behind-the-scene efforts to push him out. Lott, on several occasions in the past two years, has risen to President Bush's defense, most recently in the debate over authorizing the use of force to depose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Now Lott gets a sense of what it means to be a friend of the Bushes. They demand loyalty but rarely give it in return. Of course, if the Democrats remain true to their recent nature, they will probably step up to the mike and try to help Bush and Lott come to some kind of reconciliation, "for the good of the nation". Am I cynical or what?

Clinton's comments on the GOP could prove to be balls-to-the-wall time for the Democrats. There are two possible scenarios for the future: 1) The Republicans and the establishment media try to turn the story from one about Lott and the GOP giving aid and comfort to segregationists to a story about Clinton trying to take partisan advantage of the Lott scandal. Other Democrats are questioned about this on the various punditarati shows. Most of them balk at being connected to Clinton and excuse the Republican party for their past (and present) attempts to curry favor with the cockroaches. The story quickly becomes all about Clinton, Lott stays as majority leader, the GOP gains even more power as the Democrats sell the last of their testicular fortitude on eBay. 2) Same as before, except this time the Democrats, for the most part, side with Clinton in his criticism of the GOP's past (and present). This, hopefully, has the effect of defeating the effort to turn this into a story about Clinton and it instead becomes a story about what Republicans have been doing for the last 40 years with respect to race. Lott loses his position, the GOP is embarassed and possibily has to go through a long overdue purge of the evil in their midst. Whichever scenario becomes reality will depend almost entirely on whether the Democrats have any political courage left at all. Clinton has thrown down the challenge to them. We will see what happens. I'm not hopeful.

Read this in light of my previous post about a possible nightmare scenario:
Most Favor Nuclear Option Against Iraq Response Hinges on Use of Chemicals, Bugs Most Americans favor using nuclear weapons against Iraq if Saddam Hussein attacks U.S. military forces with chemical or biological weapons in a war that the public believes is virtually inevitable, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey found that six in 10 Americans favored a nuclear response if Hussein orders use of chemical or biological weapons on U.S. troops. Slightly more than a third -- 37 percent -- were opposed. Nearly nine in 10 Americans said the United States is headed for war with Iraq, which most Americans believe possesses weapons of mass destruction.
All the more reason for Bush to think he can follow through with the annihilation of Baghdad. "The people demanded it!" he will say. Jesus but we do live in interesting times.

I've been reading reports today of Bush trying to decide whether to declare Iraq in "material breach" of the UN resolution. Since when is it Bush's perogative to speak for the UN? Isn't it up to the security council to decide whether Iraq is in breach?

Big Dog Barks!
Clinton calls GOP 'hypocritical' on Lott Former president lashes out at Republicans NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former President Clinton said Wednesday it is "pretty hypocritical" of Republicans to criticize incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott for stating publicly what he said the GOP does "on the back roads every day." "How do they think they got a majority in the South anyway?" Clinton said outside a business luncheon he was attending. "I think what they are really upset about is that he made public their strategy." He added: "They try to suppress black voting, they ran on the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina, and from top to bottom the Republicans supported it."
I agree with everything Clinton says. But, of course, since Clinton said it, the Republicans and the establishment media will quickly turn this into a Clinton story rather then a Lott/GOP/Southern Strategy story.

David Podvin takes it right to heart of the Republican soul:
EVIL LITTLE GAME From the beginning of this country, bigotry has been used to justify the exploitation of the black race for the purpose of enriching the economic elite. Even more profitable, however, has been the use of racism as camouflage to obscure the swindling of white Americans. The corporate agenda of redistributing wealth upwards cannot survive scrutiny, so racism is an essential diversionary tactic. Republican politics is an evil little game based on the knowledge that the elitist conservative agenda can only attain an electoral majority by appealing overtly to the greed of the Lucy Ricardos of America while appealing covertly to the bigotry of the Archie Bunkers. For the GOP, the equation is Petty Bourgeoisie + Redneck = Victory. It is absolutely essential that Archie be made to focus on race so he does not notice that conservative policies are bleeding him dry.
About the only thing I'd disagree with David, and its a minor disagreement at that, is that many Republicans, perhaps even George W. Bush himself, actually believe they aren't a part of the evil that is so obviously around them. During the 2000 campaign Bush repeatedly expressed dismay at anyone who questioned the character of his soul. The mere idea that people might think he was anything other then a good guy truly upset him. But that didn't cause him to give pause and wonder if they might have a point. No, he just told himself that his critics didn't understand his true heart and that all he had to do was say the right things and stand around with the right people and everyone would know he had a good heart. The fact that he might stab people in the back right after using them as props really doesn't enter into his conscience. He knows he's a good guy and everyone else is just a fool for thinking otherwise.
There are many villains in this sordid affair, and Trent Lott is not foremost among them. He has belatedly been exposed as being David Duke with road kill pasted to his scalp, but Lott is not responsible for turning a backwater bigot into the leader of the United States Senate. It took a roster of scoundrels for that to occur.

Title IX up next on the Bushie chopping block?
Major changes debated for Title IX A commission appointed by the Bush administration is poised to propose profound changes in Title IX, the federal law that forbids sex discrimination at schools and universities receiving federal funds.

Some, such as Tucker Carlson, have asked for recent examples of the GOP appealing to racists. Well, how about the 2000 South Carolina primary? Ron Suskind dealt with this in his recent Esquire piece:
As for the Waterloo of South Carolina, most of the facts are well-known, and among this group of Republicans, what happened has taken on the air of an unsolved crime, a cold case, with Karl Rove being the prime suspect. Bush loyalists, maybe working for the campaign, maybe just representing its interests, claimed in parking-lot handouts and telephone "push polls" and whisper campaigns that McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, that McCain might be mentally unstable from his captivity in Vietnam, and that the senator had fathered a black child with a prostitute. Callers push-polled members of a South Carolina right-to-life organization and other groups, asking if the black baby might influence their vote. Now here’s the twist, the part that drives McCain admirers insane to this very day: That last rumor took seed because the McCains had done an especially admirable thing. Years back they’d adopted a baby from a Mother Teresa orphanage in Bangladesh. Bridget, now eleven years old, waved along with the rest of the McCain brood from stages across the state, a dark-skinned child inadvertently providing a photo op for slander. The attacks were of a level and vitriol that even McCain, who was regularly beaten in captivity, could not ignore. He began to answer the slights, strayed off message about how he would lead the nation if he got the chance, and lost the war for South Carolina. Bush emerged from the showdown upright and victorious . . . and onward he marched.
No, Bush wouldn't countenance appeals to racism for political victory. He's just not that kind of guy. He just let's Karl Rove take care of it for him.

Salon readers respond to Gore's decision not to run:
When will America wake up and realize that in the year 2000 a candidate was assassinated by words and images? Sound bites, like bullets, hit their mark. Al Gore was always the better man. -- Leon W. Fainstadt

The 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2002

Mathew Yglesias disagrees with Avedon Carol that, without appeals to racism, the GOP could not hold the south. I'm not entirely convinced of that myself. It may have been true at one time that, to win the south away from the Democrats, the Republicans had to deliberately appeal to the Dixiecrat contingent. But time passes and things change and many in the south may be as turned off by these appeals as used to be turned on by them. Indeed, the Southern Strategy could end up being a major liability for the GOP if the party doesn't eventually disavow it. This may be a case of momentum more then necessity. The GOP may be afraid to truly cleanse itself of these kind of appeals because doing so would be a shift into uncertainty. So they keep doing it, even when it may no longer be necessary. It may be that they will only change when it starts to hurt them more then it helps. The Lott situation may be the first intimation that that time has come.

The Agonist brings up the important but often unasked question of what contingencies the U.S. has for Sadaam using WMD when his back is against the wall?
I have a problem, however, and perhaps Pollack will answer it later. The book is, after all, 443 pages long. Pollack constantly reiterates how Sadaam has used these weapons on those occasions when his regime was desperate. This begs the question: what is to prevent Sadaam from using WMD if we do march on Baghdad? After reading a quarter of Pollack's book and many other sources I think this is being very seriously underestimated. I hope it is not--perhaps the CIA and DIA and our other security agencies are taking this threat seriously. No one in the Adminstration, to my knowledge, has informed the American public of these specific risks. What happens if Sadaam uses WMD against American troops or quite possibly Israel, thereby enlarging the war? This brings me to the hyperlinked article above and this quote: "The two generals are concerned that the Wolfowitz school may underestimate the risks involved, the officials said. They have argued that planning should prepare thoroughly for worst-case scenarios, most notably one that planners have labeled "Fortress Baghdad," in which Hussein withdraws his most loyal forces into the Iraqi capital and challenges the United States to enter into protracted street fighting, perhaps involving chemical or biological weapons." The generals are concerned. Are the civilians?
This brings us to the nightmare scenario: We attack Iraq. Sadaam withdraws his forces to Baghdad, we enter the city, engage in street-to-street fighting. Sadaam unleashes chemical and biological weapons (if he has them) on the troops or launches a few missiles at Israel loaded with the same. Bush is now faced with the question: will he follow through with his threat to respond to such an attack with the bomb? After all, if Sadaam is in Baghdad along with most of his loyal forces, wouldn't glassing the ancient capital be the neatest, cleanest solution to the problem? One bomb -- problem solved. It's that kind of simplistic thinking, a characteristic common to the Bushies, that keeps a lot of people, myself included, up late at night.

Tony Blankly agrees with me about Gore's prospects for future media attention:
Contrary to some expectations, this is pretty much the last we will see of Mr. Gore. Initially, his policy speeches will be cited briefly in political potpourri columns. After a few months, only obscure and rabid Internet sites will bother to report his considered opinions. Within six months, even pathological Gore haters will succumb to the boredom of reporting non-news stories.

Note to Democrats: opposing the future Bush tax cuts is not a political third rail:
Uncertainty on Bush Cure for Economy Most Americans say they believe an economic agenda focused on rebuilding schools, bridges and roads would be more effective at reviving the economy than further tax cuts, as the administration is preparing to propose. And an overwhelming majority says it would cancel the further reductions in income tax rates Bush pushed through Congress last year if the cuts would require Washington to dip into money raised for Social Security to fund other government operations, as congressional projections show.

Thanks to Polygon for the positive mention.

There may be hope for Andrew:
LOTT VERSUS THE GOP: This is beginning to remind me of the internal strife of the British Conservative Party. Trent Lott's voiced nostalgia for segregation is not even close to a forgivable mistake. It was morally wrong and politically suicidal. But if he refuses to leave, the damage could get even worse. Now there are signs that the paleo wing of the Republicans, characters who deep down believe that even a Republican with ties to the racist right is preferable to a Democrat, might rally to his defense. The Novaks and Buchanans and Weyrichs see an ally under threat. They will not accept Lott's departure easily. Nor will some Senators who view themselves as members of a club that rarely turns on its own. And the way in which some Democrats are gleefully using this to advance the notion that the GOP is synonymous with bigotry will only provoke the Republican Party's instinctual self-defense. And so the paleos could acquire partisan support and the split could deepen. Maybe this is all part of Sid Blumenthal's master-plan. If so, then Ann Coulter is dancing to Sid's tune perfectly.
He at least acknowledges that there is a "paleo wing" of the GOP that is at peace with racist appeals (if not closet racists themselves). But will he acknowledge that the "paleo wing" has been a significant component of the Republican party's electoral success over the last few decades? Wait and see. BTW, I am not, as Mr. Sullivan suggests, saying that "the GOP is synonymous with bigotry". No, I am saying that the GOP's policy of appealing to bigotted attitudes (the "Southern Strategy") inextricably ties the Republican party to that particular evil. It deliberately embraced the cockroaches in order to achieve political power. The fact that the resulting stain has become visible and that people are starting to point is not the fault of those who are doing the pointing. UPDATE: Mr. Sullivan suggests that Bush didn't call for Lott to step down because he didn't want to interfere with the perogatives of the Senate Republicans. Everyone who truly believes that please raise your hands. Is it outside the realm of reason for Andrew to consider that the reason Bush didn't call for Lott's to step down was because Bush didn't want to offend the cockroaches? Bush talks the good talk. I don't believe that he is personally racists (albeit within the context of my comments below to Avedon Carol). I also believe his denunciation of segregation was sincere. But Bush believes even more in political expediency and sees no problem with embracing the cockroaches if it will give him a few more votes. He said as much during the 2000 campaign when he steadfastly refused to show Pat Buchanan the door.

Ignatz hilights another Sullivan contradiction: it is a "cheap shot" to say that those who oppose affirmative action are racist, but it is just fine to say that those who support affirmative action are racist.

Courtesy No More Mister Nice Blog:
"The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief." --self-important right-wing Trent Lott denouncer Andrew Sullivan in 1994, defending the decision to dedicate an issue of the putatively liberal New Republic (which he then edited) to The Bell Curve Oops.
Double Oops. I wonder if Sullivan's opinion on this has evolved since then? Or can he reconcile it with his denunciation of Lott?

Avedon Carol brings up a good point about the "Southern Strategy":
And I'm tired of hearing that these Republicans aren't "really" racist because of the southern strategy, which is "just" a political strategy and nothing to do with where their hearts are. Look, you don't decide on a strategy of deliberately encouraging racism, of exploiting it and even using rhetoric that is intended to stir it up, with all of the horror that that entails, if you actually regard black people as human beings who deserve to be treated with the respect that is due any human being.
I've said before that I don't necessarily consider the Republican party to be racist, just that they are willing to make racist appeals (albeit in coded language) for electoral advantage. Avedon brings up the valid point that it takes a certain level of dehumanization to consider appealing to a dehumanizing philosophy in order to achieve political power. In other words, the fact that Republicans have been willing to appeal to the cockroaches who think black people are inferior means that they are willing to view them as inferior to (or at least not as important as) the people they are trying to woo. It is a tactic that is demeaning to the rank-and-file of the Republican party as much as it is to those on the downside of the racist divide. There are good Republicans with good hearts. They don't deserve to be associated with this kind of philosophy. The leadership of the GOP bears the responsibilty for dragging them down into the mud with them. I think many on the rightward side of the blogosphere understand this, which is why they lept so harshly on Lott when this all started. The question is this: are they willing to widen the scope of their outrage beyond the immediate embarassment that is Trent Lott or will they continue to deny that there is anything to be outraged about?

Thanks to Rittenhouse for the mention

ArchPundit makes an interesting find in the Ashcroft files, in reference to Ashcroft's comment that Missouri had an easy time integrating (via CalPundit)
Lest we forget this September 7, 1990 gem from the Post-Dispatch:
As attorney general and governor, Ashcroft has complained about the costs of desegregation programs in St. Louis and Kansas City and called them ''educationally counterproductive and bankrupt.'
For those with any doubt, Ashcroft rode the wave of resentment in rural Missourah and South Saint Louis over the outrage of providing equal resources for the urban districts. This is a bipartisan sport with current AG Jeremiah Jay Nixon doing the same later. However, Ashcroft had been a particularly strong advocate against court ordered desegregation efforts.
The pressure needs to be kept on this. The Republicans will try to pretend that Lott is an aberation and that his views don't provide any interesting insight into the character of the GOP. They are lying (if not to us at least to themselves). They know that a significant part of their current electoral success is based on the evil that was and is the "Southern Strategy". Even if they acknowledge the existence of this strategy they will try to pretend that it died with Nixon. Don't let them get away with it.

Conseco seeks Chapter 11 protection INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 18 — In the third-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Conseco Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection Tuesday night after four months of talks with creditors to restructure the insurance and finance company’s $6.5 billion in debt.
George W. Bush has been in office two years and his term has already seen the three largest bankruptcies in U.S. history (Enron, WorldCom, now this). Why is it that people think Republicans are better when it comes to managing the economy?

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

LMB brings up yet another example of the Bushies habit of publicly shooting down a controversial policy, saying that they never intended to do what the policy suggested they intended to do, and then, a few months later, coming along and doing the exact thing all over again, only under a different name and with less visibility. In this case it is the Office of Strategic Influence, the Defense Department's plan to run a disinformation campaign in foreign countries, that has gotten the facelift and re-birth treatment. Follow the link for more. Someone really should put together a comprehensive list of every time Bush and his people have done this. One I can think of off the top of my head was the early announcement in 2001 that Bush was going to close the White House AIDS office. This caused an uproar. The Bushies backed off and said they wouldn't do it. A few months later it turns out that the office still exists, has a phone number, but there is no actual office space for it and the phone number just takes you to a recording. So, they didn't eliminate the office. They just turned it into a facade and gutted the exterior. Any other examples? (Yes, I know, I need to get a comment system installed. I'm working on it).

So, Kaus thinks Atrios might be Sid Blumenthal and Reynolds thinks he might be Bob Shrum. Which just goes to show that Reynolds would fit in will with the kool kids Kaus hangs out with since one of the cardinal rules of the kool kids is that, if a major story breaks, it MUST have come from within the circle of kool kids or their political associates. The idea that just some average schmoe (that's a complement Atrios) could cause this much ruckus is just, well, inconceivable. This reminds me of the speculation amongst the kool kids about whether it was Joe Conason or James Carville who was behind Media Whores Online (sadly MIA since the election, but hopefully it will return after the new year). Will they never learn?

Just to be clear on this, it was Gene Lyons, not moi, who coined the term "segregationist sheetheads". I wish I could claim it, but I don't want Gene to think I am stealing his material. He deserves all the credit.

Avedon Carol comments on my evolving feelings about Gore stepping down:
Interesting Times goes through his own little evolution after the announcement that Gore isn't running, first deciding Gore has missed a message: [my initial comments on Gore snipped -- Chris] But maybe not. One of the big problems Gore had during the 2000 campaign is that leading Democrats did very little to support him. If those same people have already made it clear they plan to do even less in 2004, he's going to have an even harder time of it. It's hard enough even to run for a local election without the support of the party; running for president on your own just doesn't seem very do-able at all. He's angry at the usual suspects, too: [my comments about Robert Kutner uttering the cliched "comfortable in his or her own skin" comment snipped -- Chris] But he seems to be calming down.
Many political junkies, especially on the left, have already come to terms with the fact that we no longer live in a Democracy. We all know how painful a realization that was. I still feel traumatized by it. But many of the citizenry (and probably more then a few in the establishment press and the leadership of both parties) have not. To vote for Gore, to "re-elect" him, would require admitting that Bush is illegitimate and therefore, our system has failed. That's a mighty big pill for people to swallow. Perhaps Gore wisely chose not to force it down their throats.
Maybe that's right, I dunno. I'll think about it. Still doesn't answer the question of who can beat Bush, of course. But this does seem to be a blog after my own heart.
Thanks for the vote of confidence Avedon. My feelings about Gore are evolving only in the sense that I am calming down and internalizing some of those feelings. I still think Gore listened to the wrong people and that he has made a mistake. I think about the only chance he had of getting any media attention was to remain a candidate. The minute he declined to run he officially entered the "has-been" territory and many in the establishment press will now ignore him (see my previous post). As I said in my laxative piece, the best reason I have heard so far for Gore not running was that the people may rebel against him simply because they don't want to be reminded of something they are trying to avoid: the reality that we no longer live in a Democracy. But, I also said in that post that the silent acquiescence to that fear doesn't help matters. What the Democrats need is a candidate who can give the people a way of fighting back against those who have taken away their sovereignty without forcing them to acknowledge that it was ever taken away in the first place. They may know it at a deep, sub-conscious level. But forcing them to acknowledge it may be just to much to expect from them. Perhaps Gore's baggage was to great to accomplish that goal. But I think he could have accomplished a lot just by running. Unfortunately, right now, I can't think of any Democratic who could do it right (other then Bill Clinton, and he can't run anymore).

Now that Gore has dropped out his biggest problem will be retaining the attention of the establishment media. That is if he is sincere in his claims that he wants to work to get Bush out of office. As it is, without being a candidate, most of the journalistic pack will ignore him. He is now, unofficially, old news. He will have to get their attention again. Hmmm, maybe he should start a blog? :-) (And then get Atrios to link to him) Update: "After all he did invent the internet!" -- estherc

Is the cat out of the bag?
Traditional Values, GOP-Style By Howard Gleckman The foundation of the GOP's success over the past four decades was what Richard Nixon called his "Southern strategy" -- an appeal to the once-Democratic blue-collar voters who fled their party in reaction to the strong civil rights push of the 1960s. A generation later, Republicans still dominate Southern politics, in part thanks to a more subtle -- but still very real -- message on race. But that's no longer enough to assure national victories in a country roughly split among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
This is the real story of the Lott contretemps. Lott is really only a small part of it. The real story is that shameful mainstay of the Republican party dominance: the Southern Strategy. Lott's actions have been a god-send in that it has provided the opening the establishment press needs to even begin discussing this disgusting aspect of our electoral history.

A new name for Lott's base, courtesy of Gene Lyons: segregationist sheetheads.

Thanks to Atrios for the link

The GOP's Moment Of Truth The Republican parties problems go well beyond Trent Lott. The Grand Old Party has been living a lie for decades, talking equality and fairness out one side of the mouth while, out the other side, they purred cooing words of comfort to disaffected segregationists. The Southern Strategy, first formulated in Nixon's time, was a deliberate attempt to win electoral advantage by giving aid and comfort to racists and bigots. It was a policy that didn't reflect so much a deep racist attitude in the Republican leadership (though I'm sure there were elements of that at play as well) so much as it was a crassly pragmatic means of gaining power (much as it was crassly pragmatic for the U.S. to give haven to Nazi rocket and nuclear scientists after WWII). The problem for the Republicans is that, once let into the living room, it has become increasingly difficult to keep these embarassing relatives from lounging on the front-porch making obnoxious comments to others passing by. The party has been stained at its heart by a strategy that was, frankly, evil in its conception. Evil begets evil and the GOP is only just starting to pay the price for their actions. Jack White brings up many of the same points in the latest TIME:
Lott, Reagan and Republican Racism Here's some advice for Republicans eager to attract more African-American supporters: don't stop with Trent Lott. Blacks won't take their commitment to expanding the party seriously until they admit that the GOP's wrongheadedness about race goes way beyond Lott and infects their entire party. The sad truth is that many Republican leaders remain in a massive state of denial about the party's four-decade-long addiction to race-baiting. They won't make any headway with blacks by bashing Lott if they persist in giving Ronald Reagan a pass for his racial policies.
Jack, while writing a good column, makes the common mistake of presenting the GOP's dirty little secret as one that only hurts them with black voters. It also hurts them with whites, the majority of whom do not want to be associated with racists (this is why, I think, so many conservative bloggers jumped so vociferously on Lott). If the Republican party becomes permanently stained with the reputation of providing aid-and-comfort to the white-sheet set then they will lose the middle-class, both black and white. The Southern Strategy works only so long as no one but the bigots and cockroaches know about it. When everyone else finds out they rightly recoil in horror.
Republican leaders and their apologists tend to go into a frenzy of denial when members of the liberal media cabal bring up these inconvenient facts. It's that lack of candor, of course, that presents the biggest obstacle to George W. Bush's commendable and long overdue campaign to persuade more African-Americans to defect from the Democrats to the Republicans. It's doomed to fail until the GOP fesses up its past addiction to race-baiting, and makes a sincere attempt to kick the habit.
The problem for the Republicans, of course, is that many of them know that doing a serious house-cleaning on this issue would seriously jeopardize their electoral advantage. They are caught between a rock and hard place: either give up Dixie or give up Soccer Mom. Either way could put them in the minority for some time to come. We won't live in a truly egalitarian society until the percentage of black Republicans matches the percentage of black Democrats. The fact that one racial group finds a natural home within one party of the other is proof enough for me that we still live in a country with a lot of dark skeletons rattling around. Time to get out the brooms.

A Sweet and Refreshing Laxative Some have argued that Gore shouldn't run because he wouldn't get an even break from the press. I have argued repeatedly that NO Democrat should expect such a break, so this is a bogus argument against his candidacy. However, the real question is not whether the press will be kind to Gore but whether the people would give him another chance. The following article by Robert E. Griffin discusses this issue and comes to the conclusion that Gore made the right choice to not go for a re-match against Bush. It's not because he wouldn't get a break from the press. It's because the people's desire to believe that we live in a Democracy might actually lead them to vote against Gore. For, to do otherwise, they might have to come to terms with the fraudulency in our midst.
No More Gore--For Now Many adults are attached to the childlike illusion that presidents always can and will protect us. Feelings of anger and anxiety occur when we realize that the men who are presidents can be victims. Americans' core belief is in democracy. We don't like the idea that the person who received the majority of votes was not declared the winner. The mainstream media blamed Gore; some called him a "sore loser," and focused on finding fault with the way he ran his campaign. We blamed the victim. This way our beliefs in our electoral system remain intact. Denial and rationalization are not mature ways to cope with reality. Gore would have faced almost insurmountable psychological dynamics had he tried to run against Bush. Americans would have been confronted with the cognitive dissonance that Bush has been leading this country for years, and that the man who had actually received the most votes was running against him. Bush would have benefited by the desire of people to reduce cognitive dissonance by reelecting Bush, and rejecting Gore as a candidate and a person.
Many political junkies, especially on the left, have already come to terms with the fact that we no longer live in a Democracy. We all know how painful a realization that was. I still feel traumatized by it. But many of the citizenry (and probably more then a few in the establishment press and the leadership of both parties) have not. To vote for Gore, to "re-elect" him, would require admitting that Bush is illegitimate and therefore, our system has failed. That's a mighty big pill for people to swallow. Perhaps Gore wisely chose not to force it down their throats. Though, I have to say, that part of the problem with our political system today is that there aren't enough people willing to confront the ugly truths that are right before our eyes. Look at the situation with Trent Lott: the true nature of his character has been a well-known secret in political circles for years. But no one, until now, has been willing to challenge him on it. Similarly, there aren't many who relish the idea of challenging the GOP's guilt that stems from them providing a haven for the last vestigates of the "discarded policies of the past" (Nixon's Southern Strategy). It's a truth that is just to ugly to confront and many, when faced with it, will leap at any opportunity they can find to walk past the problem (much as people uncomfortably walk past the homeless littering the street). Hell, even George W. Bush has probably convinced himself that this ugly truth isn't really there and that he and his buddies really are the good guys (that's a thought that keeps me awake at night). Perhaps the key here for any prospective Democratic candidate (or any reform candidate for that matter) is not to directly confront the issue but, instead, offer a better world that would, of necessity, require the elimination of the uglier elements from our national character. Thus, people can subconsciously acknowledge that there is a problem without having to openly confront it while, at the same time, they can feel they are actually making things better in the long run. America needs a sweet and refreshing laxative in the worst way. (Thanks to Maia Cowan for bringing this article to my attention)

James Galbraith on why Democrats shouldn't be entirely despondent:
Lötterdämmerung Four reasons for liberals to give thanks -- or at least not despair completely -- this holiday season. Think of it: If God had made Strom Thurmond just six weeks older, the Senate would still be under Democratic control.

Courtesy of Roger Ailes (not the fat bald one):
The Legend of Strom's Remorse But there never was any such expression of remorse or plea for forgiveness. Thurmond has never publicly repudiated his segregationist past, and with his 100th birthday and a Senate career behind him, it's doubtful he ever will. The legend of Strom's Remorse was invented, by common unspoken consent within the Beltway culture, in order to provide a plausible explanation why Thurmond should continue to hold power and command at least marginal respectability well past the time when history had condemned Thurmond's most significant political contribution. Now that Thurmond is finally leaving Washington, the lie serves no further purpose and will fade away.
So, once again, the establishment media buys into and peddles a myth as reality (Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet right?). How typical. Why does ANYONE trust the dinosaur that is the mainstream media to ever get anything right?

I guess Bush's powers of persuasion are a tad bit over-rated?
Poll: Bush Hasn't Made Case for Iraq War LOS ANGELES - More than two-thirds of Americans believe the Bush administration has failed to make its case that a war against Iraq is justified, according to a poll by the Los Angeles Times published Tuesday. Ninety percent of respondents said they don't doubt Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction. But without new evidence from U.N. inspectors, 72 percent of respondents, including 60 percent of Republicans, said the president has not provided enough evidence to justify starting a war.

Roger Ailes (not the bald, repulsive one) has put together a timeline of the development of the Lott story to see just who can lay claim to being the first and most active to push this story. Update: Okay, I've read through this timeline and now I'm pissed. While I applaud Sullivan, Reynolds, and others on the right for quickly recognizing that Lott's comments were inexcusable, to suggest that it was only through the efforst of these conservative commentators that this story has any legs is simply reprehensible. As Ailes points out, while the rightward bloggers talked and linked a lot on the topic, it was Atrios and Josh Marshal who did the majority of the leg work on the story when it came to actually digging up damning information. The conservative blogosphere was simply along for the ride. Furthermore, let us not forget that it was Al Gore who made the first significant political comment on this matter by calling for some form of punishment for Lott's behavior (censure in that case). Yes, a lot of other Democrats, such as Daschle (ptooie), punted on this matter, but it was a Democrat who took the risk of striking out in new territory. Again, I want to take nothing away from those on the right who recognized that the time had come to lance this particular boil on their collective ass. The fact that the right-wing bloggers came out so harshly against Lott no doubt gave some of the Republican leadership (and their toadies in the establishment media) the spine they needed to speak out against Lott as well. For that they should be commended. But they shouldn't waste their time trying to pat themselves on the back to hard. They'll just end up with pulled muscles.

Kevin Raybould hilights Dubya's leadership on the Lott matter:
White House takes no stance on Lott Once again, Bush was handed a chance to take a real lead, to fully repudiate the "Southern Strategy", or, at least, its racist components. Instead of taking a forceful stance, Bush weaseled out again, forcing the Senate Republicans to take the lead, hanging to the rear, hoping to reap the benefits of appearing tough, without losing too many of the votes of racists.
Remember Kevin that Bush was the candidate who, when Buchanan was talking about leaving the party, didn't say, "see ya later you bigot". Nor did he fall back on the "big tent" excuse for not showing him the door. No, Bush's only comment on the matter was to say that he needed the votes that Buchanan represented.

The Democratic Delusion Robert Kutner decodes the Gore story:
Best for Last The lesson for next time is both that the Democratic Party needs to stand for something clear and passionate and that the candidate needs to be comfortable in his or her own skin.
Arrgh! Talk about your cliches. "comfortable in his or her own skin" became the journalist code words in 2000 for, "we don't like him so we're going to distort everything he says and does to make him look like the impression we have of him." Look, Kutner's advice is not bad advice, and in a better world it would be well to listen to it, but it misses one of the key dynamics of the 2000 election: the GOP has an extremely sophisticated smear machine that is hooked into the establishment media (as well as the fifth columnists at FOX) at many levels. There is no Democrat out there, no matter how "comfortable he or she is in their own skin", that will be able to avoid getting the same kind of treatment that Gore got. This is the mistake that the Democrats have made repeatedly for the last two decades (at least). They continue to think the problem their candidates have has something to do with the nature of the candidates. Whether it is the blandness of a Mondale or a Dukakis, the philandering of a Clinton, or the stiffness of a Gore, Democrats like Kutner have convinced themselves that, if they just find the right candidate, they can avoid these problems. But the problems these candidates had were primarily due to the one trait they have in common: they are Democrats Gore made the same mistake in 2000 that Kutner is making now. He thought that, since he wasn't the womanizer that Clinton was, that he could skate on the good record of the Clinton years and get into the White House on a breeze. He never really caught on to the fact that it wasn't his association with Clinton that caused him so much grief. It was solely because he was standing between the Republicans and the throne that they feel they are entitled to. If the Democrats do not wake up and come to terms with this basic political reality then they will continue to field loser after loser for years to come (with, maybe, the occaisional exceptional bright spot of a Clinton). I'm sure many in the Democratic leadership are breathing a sigh of relief because of Gore's decision not to run. They think that, with Gore out of the way, they have a chance to finally field the right candidate that will be acceptable to the press and will win over the hearts and minds of the American people. It ain't gonna happen guys. Grow up.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Idea: Gore for head of the DNC? Hmmm.

The modern Democratic party: "They are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful for impotence." (Churchill)

Harkin shocked GOP is willing to keep Lott as majority leader Washington, D.C. - Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa issued a blistering condemnation Thursday night of controversial remarks by Republican Sen. Trent Lott, saying it is "shocking" that the White House has not urged Lott to step down as the incoming majority leader. "Or is this a not-too-subtle message to closet bigots and Southern white supremacists that their true political home is the GOP?" Harkin asked in a prepared statement.
Harkin gets to the heart of the Lott matter. It is NOT a question of what Lott said or what Lott believes. It is entirely a question of the kind of people the GOP actively coddles in order to achieve political power. This is the elephant-in-black-face that sits in the middle of the DC living-room. It is the crazy-uncle harry that keeps screaming about them darkies yet no one has the guts to call him out and say he is spoiling the holidays for everyone else. No one has the guts to do it (except Harkin and Al Gore (but then who cares what he has to say?)). Especially not the establishment media.

I managed to recover the rant I composed last night in response to Gore's decision not to run: Gore's not running My emotions are pulling in so many different ways right now I don't know what to say. In fact, I suspect I will probably snap at more then a few people for the next few days. Sorry in advance. For all of Gore's talk about learning the lessons of the 2000 election, I think he still doesn't get it. The word behind the scenes is that he doesn't want to run because he doesn't think he can get the support he will need. He is wrong. It is only amongst the power-brokers in the DNC and DLC that he has problems. But the rank-and-file want DESPERATELY for him to run. It is precisely the bowing and scraping to the powers that be that, I think, doomed his run in 2000. He's listening to the wrong people once again. I am reminded of the push a few years back to have Pat Schroeder run for President. A lot of people got behind the idea and were really psyched to see her do it. When she came out and announced that she wasn't going to run the gasp in the audience was so loud it made her stop in mid-announcement. She nearly break down crying. I don't think she understood until that very moment how much people wanted her to run. Similary, I don't think Gore really understands how much the rank-and-file want him to run. If he made his decision because he thinks that he will be more influential NOT as a candidate then he has, once again, ENTIRELY misread the political landscape. I can say that is virtually 99% certain that no one in the establishment media will give him a moments notice from now until the day he dies (when there will be a brief comment about the death of that guy who "lost" to Bush in 2000 despite "winning" the popular vote). I can say with all honesty that Gore was the only Democrat out there that even gave me the hope of something different this time around. He has squashed that hope because he has, once again, listened more to the voices of the powerful then has to the voices of the people.
How naive of anyone to think that anyone would have an easier time of it in 2004 then Gore did in 2000. But this is the attitude that continues to dominate the Democratic leadership. I tell you that NO Democrat will ever be successful against the Republicans unless they face up to the fact that NONE of them are immune from the kind of smearing that Gore faced in 2000. Gore was a boyscout. Before the 2000 campaign, you would have been hard-pressed to find ANYONE in Washington who had anything seriously negative to say about the guy. But that didn't stop the GOP from turning him into the second coming of the Marquis De Sade. Any Democrat who thinks they can do better and suffer less then Gore did in 2000 is walking into an abatoir with a smile on their face. They are doomed.

Okay. Enough about Lott. Joe Conason asks, "What about Ashcroft?"
Like Lott, Ashcroft has lent his prestige to neo-Confederate publications and causes, notably the strange interview he gave to Southern Partisan magazine. And like Lott, he has cultivated connections with the Council of Conservative Citizens, which maintains its headquarters in his home state of Missouri. While Ashcroft was running for reelection to the Senate against the late Mel Carnahan in 2000, he met secretly with a CCC leader named Thomas Bugel to discuss the fate of a CCC member indicted for plotting to murder an FBI agent, among other offenses. When that meeting was exposed following his nomination for attorney general, Ashcroft claimed through a spokeswoman that he didn't know about Bugel's association with the CCC. Yet in addition to serving as the local president of the CCC, Bugel was for several years the leading segregationist on the St. Louis school board. Ashcroft had every reason to know exactly who Bugel is, because as attorney general and governor of Missouri, he too had played a divisive role in racial disputes. The strange story of Ashcroft's connections with the CCC is told here and here.
And so much more...

So, apparently Dubya has called for early elections in Venezuela. Of course, as Eric Alterman points out, Venezuela's constitution does not allow for early elections. But then when has Junior ever let something like that stand in his way? Following his example, I now call on the United States to hold early elections to see if Bush should continue as President.

Bill Clinton: "When Robert Kennedy ran for president, we supported him. We're proud of it. And if he had lived and been elected, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years."
God I wish we had a real President.

Here's more of that vaunted compassion at work.
New Tax Plan May Bring Shift In Burden Poor Could Pay A Bigger Share As the Bush administration draws up plans to simplify the tax system, it is also refining arguments for why it may be necessary to shift more of the tax load onto lower-income workers.
Will Dubya be there to hug the poor taxpayers when they get their new bills from Uncle Sam?

Mark Crispin Miller has a new commentary up at Buzzflash in which he puts his analytical skills to work on Bush's comment to Barbara Walters about being the one who has to hug the families of dead soldiers:
Big Hug ... Not only does the president believe himself to be "the only person" who decides to take this nation into war -- a view at odds with what our Constitution has to say -- but he's claimed as well to be "the only ... person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids on the death of their loved ones." Does Bush actually believe that he's "the only person" who can comfort the bereaved? ("Others hug," he added quickly, but too late.) Whether or not he does, the remark betrays a blinkered view of what it's like in time of war, when many folks lose "loved ones" every day -- far too many for a president to hug with safety.
As Mark has so ably demonstrated in the past, everything that Bush does is ultimately about himself. Indeed, his comment to Walters seems to hilight more the tough time that he, Bush, will have doing the hugging then the grief that the families of soldiers will suffer in fighting "his" war. "Hey,. I care. If I didn't care would I put myself through the hell of having to deal with these crying women?" What compassion!

I had a bunch of comments written up about Gore's decision not to run. I basically poured my heart into them. But blogger wasn't accepting database updates last night and I have since lost the contents of those posts. Oh well. Not like anyone is listening.