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Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Should auld acquaintence be forgot....

Well, it's the end of the year, so I guess I should jump on the bandwagon and provide my end of the year list and awards. So here goes....

Rick Kahn Award (for Worst Political Speech)

Rick Kahn wins this inaugural award for one of the most catastrophic speeches in political history. His speech at the Wellstone Rallemorial cost Walter Mondale the election, and also hurt the Democrats nationwide. If not for Rick Kahn's over-the-top call for Jim Ramstad, Pete Domenici, et. al. to step aside and let Fritz win, the Wellstone Rallemorial would have been neutral-to-positive for the Democrats. (Not that a memorial should have had any political ramifications, but we live in the real world--something Paul Wellstone understood all too well.)

Honorable Mention: Trent Lott for his speech at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. What he said was dumber than anything Kahn said, but unlike Kahn, he only cost himself his job.

Biggest Loss for American Politics

Clearly, Paul Wellstone. He was well to my left, and many of his ideas would have been disastrous if put into effect. But Paul Wellstone was an honest, decent, caring person, a perfect leftist counterweight in the Senate. He was the brightest light in a dismal Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, and most of all, as good a person as there was in politics. He will be sorely missed.

Honorable Mention: James Traficant. I'm gonna miss the hair.

Biggest Loss for Minnesota Politics

James Janos, a.k.a. Jesse Ventura. I'll be chatting about the Guv in a few days, but in a nutshell, he changed Minnesota politics--for about four years. Though he failed miserably to reach his potential, thanks to his unfortunate petulance, there's no question that he was a wake-up call to the DFL and Republican parties in this state. That the DFL refused to wake up is to their ongoing shame and electoral misery. The Body also made Minnesota politics fun. After a few years of the bland, vaguely nice Tim Pawlenty, I think we're gonna miss the big lug--in theory, at least.

Honorable Mention: Tim Penny. He was clearly the best candidate for Governor--something that Minnesota will realize when Pawlenty cuts the budget by 10% across the board without considering a tax increase. Let's hope his crushing defeat doesn't spell the end for the former U.S. Rep--and let's hope it doesn't make the DFL think that they had anything but a horriffic choice for Governor in Roger Moe.

Best Year Politically (America)

Pres. George W. Bush. But his real test comes in 2003.

Honorable Mention: Al Gore. He did the only thing he could by not running--and it wil help him enormously. Nixon lost in '60 and was defeated for Governor of California in '62. He declined to run in '64. In '68 he was elected President. Don't count Al out.

Best Year Politically (Minnesota)

Sen.-Elect Norm Coleman. He should be a two-time statewide loser, and out of politics. Had Paul Wellstone lived...or had Rick Kahn shut up...but he didn't, and he didn't, and Norm is the Junior Senator from the Great State of Minnesota, and given the DFL's reverse Midas touch, will likely be Senior Senator before his career is over.

Honorable Mention: Gov.-Elect Tim Pawlenty. His campaign for Governor began as a campaign for Senate--until Vice President Cheney called him and told him to bow out. He ran against the hand-picked, Allen Quist-backed Brian Sullivan, who had the backing of the True Believers (and who would have done even worse than Roger Moe in the General). Somehow, he eked out a bare majority at the Republican state convention, forcing Sullivan from the race. As late as October he seemed dead in the water, as a huge fine against his campaign for collusion on soft-money ads hamstrung him. But the Rallemorial energized the right, and pulled in angry independents looking to hurt the Democrats. Pawlenty ended up with a comfortable win over the torpid Roger Moe and the redoubtable Tim Penny.

Yes, 2002 was a great year for Tim Pawlenty. But thanks to his own budget cop-out, 2003 could be very bad indeed.

Best Event Personally

The birth of the Daughter of the Moderate Left, on August 11. I can't believe how lucky I am to have her.

My Big Prediction for 2003

We will invade Iraq, we will have success, it will be bloody, and costly, but we will ultimately win...only to suffer a terrorist attack at the hands of the not-connected-at-all-to-Saddam al Qaeda. I hope I'm wrong.

My Early Prediction for 2004

GDub/Condi (R) (I) 54%, 424
Bob Lieberman!/Random No-Name (D) 42%, 111
Winona LaDuke/Eagle Ed McGaa (G) 2%, 0
Random Other 2%

Headline You Will Never See

Hillary Elected President!

And Finally:

The Minnesota Vikings will make it to the NFC Championship Game next season...but lose to the Atlanta Falcons. Again.

Catasrophe! Redux

Josh Marshall has an outstanding take on North Korea--that is, that this is essentially a failure of the Bush 43 Administration's policy, or lack thereof, on North Korea. Here's the money quote:

This entire crisis -- and it's foolish to pretend it's not a crisis -- is an administration screw-up of mammoth proportions. The administration is trying to portray this as just another crisis that happened on their watch. But that woefully understates its own responsibility for the situation we're now in.

TPM is far and away the best liberal blog on the web.

My sister. My daughter. My sister....

Slate has a nice little explainer about the genetic relation between DNA donor and clone--that is, they are genetic siblings, more precicely, identical twins (give or take--actually, take--a few telomeres, which is problematic).

Most people assume the Raelians are simply lying--or deluded--about Eve. (A name too cute by half.) I'm not so sure. Cloning is a difficult, but not impossible task, and with strong organizational support anything is possible. Either way, though, it is inevitable that a human clone will be created in our lifetime--indeed, it is likely within a few years. The question is what, if anything, that means.

Clones on "Star Trek" are exact duplicates of the person--same memory, same personality, what have you. Clones in real life are as alike to their DNA donor as an identical twin raised apart. Certainly, there will be similarities--anyone who has ever had a child knows that part of personality is innate--but is a child born 30 years after their genetic sibling, raised by their genetic sibling, going to be the same as their genetic sibling? Of course not.

And of course, this begs the question of why one would clone in the first place. There are good reasons--a cloned body, brain quiety killed, kept alive in storage would provide a repository of spare organs and body parts. But it seems unlikely that we could ever get by the "brain quietly killed" in that sentence. Indeed, stem cell research holds the promise of building these spare parts in a much less expensive and ethically challenging way.

Immortality? Well, I'm far more interested in immortality of my consciousness, and cloning holds nothing there. Genetic immortality? It's a null concept--and besides, if you want genetic immortality, you're better off having children--with a partner, or if that's impossible, with donor egg or sperm--than clones. That's because of the aforementioned telomeres--bits of genetic data that serve as a sort of buffer on our genes. Telomeres are eaten away with each cell division, until they're used up--and suddenly, useful genetic data starts getting wiped out. Thus we age, and thus a genetic twin of a 38-year-old has 38-year-old DNA--with the sobering probablility of an early old age. Needless to say, there's not much chance of cloning generation after generation--at best you're buying your DNA another sixty years or so.

In the end, cloning is one of those concepts that sounds really cool in science fiction. Who wouldn't want to resurrect Cleopatra, or Napoleon, or Fred Astaire? But we know that even if we had their genetic copy, we'd have but a twin. Each of us is consigned to just one life (unless you believe in reincarnation--but I digress). If it's a life well lived, that's enough. Succeed or fail, cloning is pretty meaningless. Let's treat it as such.

Monday, December 30, 2002
Pravda from Commisar Bush

A charming little story in Slate calls GDub on the carpet for claiming he inherited a recession. He didn't. Was the economy cooling? Yes. Would there have been a recession had Gore been elected? Of course. But he wasn't--at least, not officially. Bush was. And if Bush can gravy train 9/11 for political gain, the Democrats are not wrong to point out that the economy officially went South on his watch.

Department of Duh

These are the kind of things you do not want leaked to the press. If you're politicizing the War on Terra (as The Daily KOs so accurately transcribed), you do not want it revealed that you''re politicizing the War on Terra. Especially when you're doing essentially nothing while an Axis of Evil country actively tries to put together a nuclear weapon in public. That said, I'm pessimistic about the Democrats' ability to call Bush on this. Most likely Tom Daschle will say something like, "Hey, I've had a lot of internal memoranda leaked to the press, and it's pretty embarassing."

Indeed, if I were Karl Rove, I'd be running exclusively on anti-terrorism. It's all Bush has. Which is why Iraq and North Korea represent such a double-edged sword for the President. Success will almost certainly propel GDub to a second term, even if the Democrats run the clone of John F. Kennedy from Joshua, Son of None. Failure will lead to a Walter Mondale-style ('84, not '02) drubbing.

Friday, December 27, 2002

What can you make of this bizarre missive from North Korea? Are they threatening what they seem to be threatening? Or something else? Has years of malnutrition destroyed their ability to think? What the Hell is going on here? I don't know, but I don't like it...and incidentally, this is a far, far greater provocation than anything Saddam has done or said in the last decade.

Thursday, December 26, 2002
Where have you gone, Sen. Bob Graham, a nation turns...etc. etc.

The Daily KOs chats about Bob Graham's potential run for President, and what a candidate with D-FL after his name could do. It is intriguing, to say the least--without Florida, GDub is pretty much toast, unless things go really, really well in Iraq. And while he's a sitting Senator--they just aren't Presidential material, by and large--he was a Governor, and they are. He is 68, but so was Reagan. And it's not like the rest of the crowd is exciting. Definitely a good shot here.

Monday, December 23, 2002
O Brave New World That Has Such Wonders In It....

Scientists have successfully grown human kidneys inside a mouse, thus improving the chances for transplant for really, really small people.

Seriously, the ethical ramifications of the continuing advances in biotechnology are staggering. The kidney was grown from stem cells (all the conservatives in the hizouse--"Evil stem cells! Evil, evil stem cells!"), and functions normally, filtering impurities out of the blood.

Vegans aside--even the vegetarian Wife of the Moderate Left is in favor of using animal organs as a stopgap to save human life--this is a wonderful development. Anyone who has ever undergone an organ transplant can tell you that it is a hit-or-miss proposition--and of course, it usually requires the death of one human to save others. If that death is of, say, a pig, it suddenly becomes much less objectionable--and much easier to save the lives of people with defective hearts, kidneys, livers, &c.

Of course, now we'll have a brand new industry--raising animals with stem-cell organs for transplant. And God only knows how that will shake out. Of course, this would be a good time to start an open and honest debate, free of rancor, about what we hope can be accomplished with biotechnology. Don't count on it anytime soon.

Friday, December 13, 2002
I'm Audi

Well, I'm off to vacation. I'll post again circa Wednesday. TTFN.

L'affaire d'Lott Winners, Losers, and Others

Bull Lott is done. Even if he manages to hang on to the Majority Leader's post, his effectiveness as a legislator has been fatally compromised. At this point, he should step down, and let someone who has a chance of leading lead. But I doubt he will.

My question today is not whether Lott can survive--ultimately, he can. My question is who else won, lost, or drew on the Lott debacle.


1. The Blogosphere

Take a look at press coverage last Friday. As Yukon Cornelius said in Rankin-Bass' "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer": Nothin'. Then Josh Marshall, InstaPundit, and Andrew Sullivan all flooded the zone on this one. By Monday, Lott's non-apology apology was toast, and so was Lott. Yes, maybe the media would've still gotten around to covering this (Mickey Kaus thinks so), but somehow I think this would have gone the way of the CCC controversy in '99 without the tinder the blogs provided.

2. The Moderate and Libertarian Wings of the Republican Party

I actually find myself believing that GDub is something of a moderate at heart. Certainly he's not a Helmsian Republican. And while I still am troubled by many of his policies (as I would be with a hypothetical President Gore), I don't for a second think he belongs to the racist, virulently anti-gay wing of his party.

Trent Lott does--even if he's done a good job hiding it. His unmasking--and Bush's angry reaction--weakens the right wing of the GOP tremendously, and bolsters the moderates and libertarians. Whether it emboldens them to shake loose the worst of their party remains to be seen--but it's a tremendous opportunity.

3. Al Gore

The first major Democrat to speak out about Trent Lott wins points for the first time since December 2000. Gore's comments were restrained but pointed, and events of this week have proven him right. If he runs for President, this will help--and if he doesn't, he still did the right thing.

4. The People Who Booed Lott at the Rallemorial

As Joe Soucheray of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press put it, "We might now deduce that it was, pre-emptively, an intuitive booing of Trent Lott when he showed up at Williams Arena six weeks or so ago for the Paul Wellstone rally. At the time, most people thought they booed the fellow because he was a Republican leader of the Senate, but maybe the crowd knew something and needed to get it off its chest."

5. The Democratic Party

God, did they need this. It's hard to believe that it's been just six weeks since the debacle of the mid-term elections, and now look at the situation: the Majority Leader is damaged goods, Landrieu won in Louisiana, and Al Gore is hosting "Saturday Night Live." Of course, things change.


1. Tom Daschle

His mealy-mouthed, "aw, shucks" initial response to Trent Lott is everything wrong with the new Senate Minority Leader. He won't lose his job because of this, but if he had any chance of becoming President he's lost it. Can someone please get this idiot out of the Senate leadership?

2. The Traditional Media

Heh-heh, Strom Thurmond turned 100 today. A bad Marilyn Monroe imitator sang "Happy Birthday." Not much else happened. Back to you, Chuck.

3. Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity solidified his reputation as a partisan hack with his pusillanimous interview with Trent Lott. Not that this disqualifies him from his position at Fox News.

4. Strom Thurmond

Strom was pretty much viewed as a good ol' boy, just a guy who was older than dirt who happened to be a Senator. But Lott's comments served to remind everyone of his segragationist heritage, and his racist past. To Thurmond's credit, he repudiated those views later in life; he was one of Clarence Thomas' chief backers in the Senate, and he voted for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Trent Lott didn't). But thanks to Lott, nobody's talking about that today.

5. The Mandate

Remember The Mandate? You know, the one the GOP had after the mid-term elections? Well, good work Trent--it's gone. The Democrats have a punching bag to end all punching bags. And some of the more questionable judicial selections are toast. All courtesy Trent Lott's mouth.

The Others

1. George W. Bush

He had wonderful words of condemnation, but no call for resignation. As long as Trent Lott is Majority Leader, Bush is in a world of hurt. Short-term, Bush is a loser. Long-term, though, if Bush can shuffle off Lott, this has the potential to reshape the Republican party as a more inclusive, more tolerant party. Bush has shown an admirable willingness to embrace diversity. If he can give Lott the gas pipe (figuratively speaking), he has the opportunity for a big win.

2. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman

They condemned Lott--but not 'til he was dead. Hardly a profile in courage. Still, a late condemnation is better than none at all--hear that Sen. Edwards?

3. Southern Racists

On the one hand, they're racist, and nobody seems to like them much. On the other hand, the Senate Majority Leader seems to like them, so hey, they've got that going for them.

4. Jefferson Davis

See #3.

5. The Congressional Black Caucus

On the one hand, this is a dream come true--an actual racist to attack. On the other hand, this reminds people that Cynthia McKinnie and Maxine Waters are still in elective office, and that doesn't help anyone.

I'm Alive...and so are you.

Well, the bomb wan't a bomb. Still disrupted downtown St. Paul though. Whoever planted it got their wish.

Thursday, December 12, 2002
Da Bomb

Well, there is indeed a suspicious package. Basically, I'm not sure I get to go home tonight. We'll see what transpires. Interesting note: Mayor Norm Coleman was supposed to host a soire a the Minnesota Club--where the bomb was found. Police see no connection. I wonder.

Well, there's a fine how-do-you-do

Well, there's a bomb threat about 3 blocks from my office. Not sure how I'm gonna get to my car. Good times, goood times.

Can't Even See The Tipping Point From Here

Good night, Trent, and thanks for playing.

Bush Speaks Out

Good for Bush. His comments on Lott's statements were exactly right--and a damn sight better than the pablum Ari was spouting on Monday. Think G Dub might be ready to give Trent the shove?

Waaaaay Past the Tipping Point

Never good when your hometown newspaper calls on you to forfeit your post. Lott should quit. If he doesn't, frankly, it's the best thing to happen to the Democrats since Jim Jeffords crossed over. Lott is damaged permanently here.

No Truth to the Rumor That Trent Lott Was Involved

Is there a better Supreme Court writer than Dahlia Lithwick? If so, I haven't seen one. Her article on the cross-burning case before the court was tremendous as always. She's one of the reasons that Slate is the best big online magazine going.

As for the case itself....

Cross-burning is sort of the fault line for all of us who love the First Amendment. On one hand, it's an awful, evil statement, one that echoes Jim Crow and lynching and...well, everything Trent Lott seemed to be supporting. On the other hand, the great thing about the First Amendment is that it protects expression, even evil expression.

The Virginia statute tries to get around the First Amendment by declaring cross-burning intimidation, rather than speech. It's a smart move. The verdict from R.A.S. v. St. Paul was based on St. Paul's ordinance banning specific messages, rather than threats.

But it's still problematic. As terrible as cross-burning is, should we be regulating expression? I lean no. But it won't break my heart if the Supreme Court says yes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Over/Under on a Prescription for it: 2 months

Michelle Cottle writes about the newest ginned-up psychological "disorder," Hurried Woman Syndrome. Next up: "Lazy Man Syndrome." That's one that Wife of the Moderate Left believes in, anyhow.

And Huzzah for The Onion

T. Herman Zweibel would be proud of their Strom Thurmond birthday celebration infographic. My favorite is "Received personal congratulatory visit from President Bush, who pretended to be Eisenhower so it would go smoothly."

Hurrah for the Bloggosphere!

L'affaire d'Lott is officially a story. And it's because of the bloggosphere. Blogs kept this story alive when everyone else was ready to let it go. The power of these things is growing--and growing fast.

Good work Al

Just a quick side note--Al Gore has moved me from "undecided" to "favor." Still won't vote for him in the primaries--although I might consider voting for him for President against Shrub. Why? Because he was the first Democrat with the guts to come out against Lott. He was right. He stood on principle. And unlike Daschle, he wasn't afraid to say it. For the first time since his final concession speech, I can say, good work Al.

"You know, if we had elected [Strom Thurmond] 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today." --Trent Lott, 1980

Well, you can't say Trent Lott isn't ideologically consistent. So if Trent Lott's been saying the same thing for twenty years...well, that leads to the inescapable conclusion that he meant--absolutely meant--what he said last week. He believes that our nation would've been better off with President Thurmond. He's entitled to his sick, evil opinion--we all are entitled to our opinions. But being a racist who longs for the days of seperate lunch counters makes you unqualified to serve in the Senate leadership. Lott should do the honorable thing and step down. He won't.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Ari Fleisher doesn't duck tough questions. He just lies.

Will the Bush Administration summon Trent Lott to the woodshed? Well, let's see what Ari Fleisher is saying:

Q: Last Friday, Ari, I asked you about Senator Lott's comments, saying
he was proud of Mississippi for supporting Strom Thurmond's 1948
racial segregationist, white supremacist presidential campaign. You
ducked that question. Can you tell us now whether the President
agreed with Vice President Gore that that was a racist statement?

MR. FLEISCHER: In fairness, Terry, I did not duck the question. I
informed you directly that I had not heard the statement. And as
always, I wanted to be certain and clear of what the statement is
before I comment on something that I haven't heard of.

Q: Can you tell us now whether or not --

MR. FLEISCHER: I think that from the President's point of view,
Senator Lott has addressed this issue. He has apologized for this
statement, and the President understands that that is the final word
from Senator Lott in terms of the fact that he said something and has
apologized for it.

Q: Senator Lott's final word was that the policies that Strom Thurmond
supported have been discarded, that they're discarded policies. He
didn't say they were immoral, he didn't say they were wrong, he simply
said they were discarded. Does the President believe that Senator
Lott, given this most recent action and given the fact that he
published a regular column in a newsletter for years of the
Conservative Citizens Council, an openly white supremacist group, is
the best person to lead the Republican Party in the United States

MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, I can only say that the President, as several
Democrats up on Capitol Hill, have all said, Senator Lott has
apologized. And I think that speaks for itself on this matter.

Q: So the President thinks that this matter should be --

MR. FLEISCHER: I just think, from the President's point of view, all
Americans should take great pride in the fact that we are changed
society since 1948; tremendous strides and changes and improvements
have been made in the way we treat fellow Americans in the terms of
race and equality. And the President looks at the history of our
nation as one that -- we were a nation that needed to change. The
changes that were brought by the civil rights community were healthy,
constructive changes that have made us a stronger and a richer and a
better society. And I speak for the President.

Q: And he's confident that Senator Lott, given this comment and given
his history, embraces those changes sufficiently to be the Republican
leader of the United States Senate?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President has confidence in him as Republican
leader, unquestionably.

For those of you keeping score, the answer is no.

Le Blog, C'est Moi

Baby of the Moderate Left was dedicated at our church on Sunday. Didn't get around to mentioning it because of my anger at Trent Lott. Sad, I know, but what are you gonna do? Katie's turning four months old tomorrow, and I can't quite decide whether that seems like a ridiculously short or ridiculously long amount of time. It doesn't quite seem right.

Katie, being Katie, loved the ceremony. Lots of people to look at; people annointing her with earth, wind, fire, and water; interesting things going on. Perfect for the little wonder. She didn't even seem concerned about her first cold--at least not until yesterday, when she got as cranky and crotchety as I've seen her. C'est la vie. At least we got through our holiday party all right.

Of course, the ceremony was Unitarian, but I do like the fact that our chuch isn't afraid of echoing Christian themes. The first element Kate was anointed with was water--a deliberate echo of Baptism, and a nice rerun of ritual, even if I don't believe in the article of faith associated with it. I've been to a few Unitarian-Universalist churches that seemed to fear even the mention of God; it's nice to be a part of a church that isn't afraid to consider the big questions, that's more church than association of secular humanists.

Monday, December 09, 2002
Gore: Lott Made Racist Statement

'Nuff said. Now will other Democrats follow suit? (Daschle won't--just an "Aw shucks, we all make mistakes." Why is this man still Democratic leader in the Senate?)

Also: does this now launch this story into the stratosphere? I think the blogs have the lead on this one, and things are about to get ugly indeed for Sen. Lott.

Thanks, Trent!

The always prescient Andrew Sullivan wonders if Trent Lott's comments sealed re-election for Mary Landrieu. As noted in the Post, African-American turnout in Looziana was very high, and carried the day for Landrieu. Could it be that Trent Lott's idiocy cost the GOP a crucial seat? (Hey, at 51-49, defections by Lincoln Chafee and Olympa Snowe...nah, it ain't gonna happen, and it's a cheap way to win anyhow.) It's not only possible, but IMHO likely that Lott's comments were the political equivalent of the Rallemorial--with as disastrous a result. Hmmm...maybe that's why the right is so pissed off?

God Bless the Bloggoshpere

Instapundit is flooding the zone on Lott. He makes an interesting point: why is it that the GOP seems angrier about this than the Democrats? The calls for Lott to resign (with the exception of Jesse "I counseled Bill Clinton about cheating because I know all about it" Jackson) have been coming from the right, not the left. Why? Instapundit thinks it's cynicism on the Dems' part---if you can't parlay it into instant votes, what's the point? If so, then Terry McAuliffe shouldn't resign--he should simply leave in the dark of night, and never, never come back. (Come to think of it, that's not that bad an outcome.) Sometimes parties should stake out their position on moral principle--and coming out against racial segregation is hardly a risky position.

So why are the GOP pundits staking out the morally correct position, while the Dems drift? Well, there is the fact that Lott is hardly beloved--he's seen as something of a mediocre tactician (sort of the Tom Daschle of the Right) and a pragmatist, rather than a man of principle. And the persistent gay rumors can't help. But strangely enough, I think more than the relativist left, the GOP may just understand that there is still something called right and wrong, and Lott was wrong.

Now, I count myself as a libertarian on social issues--don't hurt me, I won't hurt you, and that's that. But when a government official comes down on the side of repression--well, it's flat wrong no matter your morals. Good for the Republicans for calling equal-opportunity shenanagans on Lott.

Also, some conservative bloggers are commenting on Robert Byrd's moronic comments about "white [n-words]" and "black [n-words]". IMHO, Byrd's comments weren't quite as offensive since he wasn't tacitly calling for a return to lynching. But we're picking nits. Byrd's statements were ridiculous and offensive and wrong, and should have forced him from Democratic leadership in the Senate. (Then again, he held the same position [President Pro-Tempore] as Strom Thurmond did under the Republican leadership, so I guess there's been some ideological consistency in the Pro-Temp's spot.)

Liberal Media My Ass

So let's see...the incoming Senate Majority Leader gives a speech in which he sadly notes that it's too bad we didn't have President Thurmond to stop those "Nigras" from voting, and the national media goes after him by...doing absolutely nothing! Oh, hey, sure, it was a gaffe, and what a dumb thing to say, now let's move on.

No chance. &c. in The New Republic nails the fecklessness of the media in general on this one. Come on, folks, if Nancy Pelosi had said this Rush would have her shipped off to Siberia by now. Even The National Review is mad at Lott. We liberals have the right to be indignant. Lott's comments were not just laughably wrong, not just terribly wrong, not just sadly wrong--they were evilly wrong. And if Trent Lott believes what he said, then the moderate and leftist response should be mighty, swift, and terrible.

Mulling the Rallemorial II

Another bit of analysis says the Rallemorial hurt the Democrats badly. Does anyone else get the feeling the Dems might just have held the Senate if not for Rick Kahn and the boys?

Hope in a Hopeless Time II

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) was re-elected on Saturday--a race she probably would have lost had it been run a month ago. The race shows the way for Democrats to win. Pick a good, moderate candidate, and run against Bush on domesitc issues. And keep your left flank tied down. It doesn't make up for losing the Senate--nothing would've--but it's a sign that maybe, just maybe, the tide is turning.

Saturday, December 07, 2002
Segregation Now, Segregation Forever!

"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Okay, what was Trent Lott thinking when he said these words? No, really, what the Hell was going through his brain? He couldn't have meant that if Strom Thurmond had won the Presidency in '48, we'd be better off because we would have avoided integration--did he? Then again, what else could he mean? It wasn't like the Dixiecrats had a huge platform, of which segregation was a small part. The Dixiecrats' raison d'etre was segregation. The statement of Gov. Thurmond (I-SC) at the time was that "[a]ll the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches."

According to the Washington Post, there was an audible gasp when Lott said these words. Damn right. This is far more offensive than anything Rick Kahn said. Because there's no parsing this, there's no getting around this. Lott was supporting segregation. And it's time for us to call him on it.

Friday, December 06, 2002
And Monica Said...nah, that's too easy.

"Democrats have to have ideas to win...." Yep, it's true. The reasons for the Democratic defeat in 2002 are so obvious even Bill Clinton can see them. Clinton argues that the Dems can't turn left. He also argues that they have to become engaged on foreign policy. The latter is key. (Of course, Clinton's foreign policy work was largely forgettable, if not disastrous. I don't blame Clinton for 9/11 directly; it's easy to see bin Laden is evil now, just as it was easy in 1945 to see that Hitler was evil. Figuring it out before hand is a bit tougher. But Clinton wasn't exactly another Jack Kennedy on foreign affairs.)

The question, of course: will the Democrats actually heed Clinton's call? Or will they continue to follow the Nancy Pelowsis of the world?

Another Round of Downsizing

Well, Paul O'Neil is out as Treasury Secretary. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Paul.

Frankly, O'Neil has gotten something of a bum rap--his laissez-faire worldview is actually an improvement on his predecessor Robert Reich's. But when companies are falling due to faulty accounting and fraud, it isn't good to muse on the genius of the market. Sometimes, government does have a limited role to play in the market.

More interesting is Slate's contention that this presages a change in the Bush economic policy--or indeed, the genesis of an economic policy. Economics is still Shrub's Achille's heel--but if we're at war, nobody will care.

Thursday, December 05, 2002
Jihad vs. McWorld, Indeed

An interesting article in Salon about the travails of McDonald's. Now, McDonald's is hardly my favorite company; they make low-quality food, pay a starvation wage to their employees, and for some reason find it necessary to put beef into their french fries. But nothing justifies bombing a building--unless it's the only way to keep it from killing you. Side note: I don't see anything wrong with boycotts of American companies like McDonald's and Coke. I disagree with some of the causes (anti-Israeli sentiment primarily), but when dealing with a capitalist organization, giving them an economic incentive to change is the best possible way to effect change. Of course, if McDonald's pulls out of Israel, I don't think I'd be able to eat there--but therein lies the challenge for a company that wants to be all things to all people.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

A fine example of judicial thinking almost got past me, but the propietors of Girls Gone Wild (you know, the tapes of women exposing themselves at Mardi Gras and Spring Break, et al.) have won a landmark ruling in a lawsuit from one of their subjects. The woman who sued had argued that hey, just because she walked up to the cameraman and bared her breasts, that didn't mean he could reproduce that image and sell it. Sorry, dear, but if you expose yourself in public your right to privacy is out the window; it's called personal responsibility, look it up. Good for Judge Anne Conway. She had the gumption to rule against the poor, maligned girl and for the mean, awful, soft-core pornographers. Hey, don't want your breasts on TV? Don't show them to the camera.

Monday, December 02, 2002

The Supreme Court of the United States (or SCOTUS, as Acronymphiles like to call it) is taking up two extraordinarily contentious issues: sodomy and affirmative action. The latter is unsurprising--the Rehnquist court has been itching to give Affirmative Action the gas pipe for years, and good. (I'll get into why it's good pretty soon). But sodomy? Is the Supreme Court really interested in overturning Bowers v. Hardwick?

Well, they must be. The facts in this case (truly insane--police are called erroneously to a house, find a male couple engaged in a mutually consensual act, and promply cite the men for sodomy. Literally, a cop in your bedroom. Lovely) aren't so unusual that this is overturning some minor piddly piece of Bowers. Maybe the Scalia folks are plotting to cement anti-sodomy law into the firmament of American jurisprudence, but somehow I doubt it. I rather suspect that the Souder wing things they have the votes to overturn it--and in the process, right a great wrong.

Of course, most anyone with a brain and working genitalia opposes the ban on sodomy. Heck, I'd wager a majority of sexually active Americans engage in sodomy on a regular basis. (Remember, sodomy is any deviant sex--the folks who put together the law being really fun people.) Sure, there are the folks out there who believe that making sodomy illegal somehow helps stop the spread of AIDS, or keeps gays from being gay, or some moronic drivel, but most people are comfortable with decriminalizing sex that doesn't involve minors.

Eliminating bans on sodomy would be a welcome step forward--not towards a more "tolerant" society, but towards a society that minds its own goddamn business. You want to be gay? You want to use handcuffs? You want to reenact the wickedness scene from The Ten Commandments? Fine. As long as I don't have to see it, I don't care. And neither should the law.

Karl Rove making politicized decisions? Nah....

The Drudge Report says that John DiIulio has given an interview to Esquire claiming that White House policy is overly politicized by Karl Rove. According to DiIulio via Drudge, "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis." Wait, I thought that Bush was running against government by poll. I maintain that the Bush Administration morally is much like the Clinton Administration--all it lacks is a sex scandal. People still like Shrub, but people used to like Bill Clinton, too.