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December 20, 2002

The wisdom of Pat Buchanan
Trent Lott did not do anything wrong, he did not say anything wrong,his heart was not full of malice when he got up there and made that honorable statement, or rather that benign statement for Strom Thurmond. The President of the United States stood up and stuck a knife in his chest...
--snip--
Now Chris (Matthews) is talking about getting the Jewish vote and the suburban soccer moms and all of that-- the heart and soul of the Republican party is working class, middle class white folks, males, who don't like what was done to Trent Lott.

Pat, calling it like he sees it, on MSNBC.

The wisdom of Chris Matthews
I think (Lott) had one chance, and that was immediately after he made this statement, he could have come out and said, "you know, of course I'm for civil rights, that had to come and it's a good thing it came, I just thought there were other ways we might have been able to avoid all the street fighting of the sixties, and the police dogs, and the big, uh, turning the hoses on people, and the women doing awful things to each other, terrible things went on in those sit in demonstrations."

--Chris on MSNBC a few minutes ago. I don't know what that last bit means either.

And he's gone .

Compare and contrast

From the Guardian of London:

"The war on terror is not a war on Islam"; "The most recent occasions the United States has gone to war has been on behalf of Muslim interests"; "We believe Islam is a peace-loving faith that condemns violence".
American government officials have said these and similar statements so often since September 11 2001 that in many Muslim countries - such as Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation - they have become diluted and lost much of their resonance.
So recently Washington has tried a fresh approach; namely to demonstrate America's tolerance, respect and even love for Islam by showing what wonderful lives Muslims lead in the US.
The first instalment of this approach was a series of two-minute TV films and accompanying print advertisements focusing on five Muslims who live in America.

Think they'll focus on this?

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hundreds of Muslim men and boys are being subjected to strip searches in freezing, standing room only detention centers in southern California after being arrested for routine visa irregularities, immigration lawyers said on Thursday.
They estimated that between 1,000 and 2,500 males, some as young as 16, were spending their fourth day locked up in what they called inhumane conditions after voluntarily presenting themselves at immigration offices to register under new anti-terrorism rules.
"The situation in the detention centers is absolutely horrifying. In one center, they were ordered to strip down and given a strip search. They were only given a prison jumpsuit, without any underwear, T-shirts, socks or shoes. They were not given blankets. They are freezing," Iranian-American lawyer Sohelia Jonoubi told Reuters.

Update: Atrios, god bless 'im, hits the nail on the head once again. (If his site isn't on your blog shortlist, well--um, it should be, is all.)

Look folks - imagine you're dealing with your DMV. Imagine Flunky #1 messes up your driver's license application and tells you to come down to the office. Then, when you do go down to the office as requested Flunky #2 notices you drove there AND you don't have your driver's license (because, well, they screwed up your application). Flunky #2's boss recently decided they now had a no-tolerance policy on such things and he has you arrested and thrown in jail. Then, of course it doesn't stop there. The special DMV judge operates his own special DMV court which has its own rules. Speedy trial? Nah. You could be there awhile. Who will support your family? Who knows. Chances for appeal? Not really.
The DMV judge deports you back to a country you haven't lived in for 10-15 years. Your American children wave goodbye, as does your wife.

Confidential to my friends at TAPPED

You guys know I love the site. And we're both part of the TAP family, so I say this as a brother, or at least an older and wiser distant cousin: Unless you're signalling an imminent Hitchens-like ideological conversion and will soon be throwing your lot in with the smug warbloggers, you probably want to avoid the neat-o secret treehouse words like "fisking."

And for god's sake, don't start talking about "anti-idiotarians."

Just my two cents.

--------------------

December 19, 2002

I know, I know...

I haven't even commented on this. Even I am left speechless, at least momentarily.

Those wacky Republicans

From, you will pardon the banal hyperbole, a must-read column by Bob Herbert:

And then there's Ward Connerly, a black man who spends his days dancing passionately to the tune of the anti-affirmative-action zealots. Some of the folks in that crowd are less than progressive when it comes to race relations, and it looks as if Mr. Connerly, who heads the ironically named American Civil Rights Coalition, has decided to shimmy with the worst of their beliefs. In a television interview last week he argued that segregation of the races was not necessarily racist.
That is extremely strange.
"Supporting segregation need not be racist," said Mr. Connerly. "One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races."
That is the exact argument that the rabidly racist segregationists made in the era that Trent Lott has looked back upon so fondly. It was destroyed by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

Herbert goes on to discuss Senator Conrad Burns, one of the 51 Senate Republicans who may be called upon to decide Trent Lott's future:

Back in 1994, while campaigning for a second term, Mr. Burns dropped by a local newspaper, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and told an editor an anecdote about one of his constituents, a rancher who wanted to know what life was like in Washington, D.C.
The senator said the rancher asked him, "Conrad, how can you live back there with all those niggers?"
Senator Burns said he told the rancher it was "a hell of a challenge."

There's more. Go read the column.

* * *

At this point, it seems pretty clear that Lott is on his way out. But once that's done, it seems that there are a few more boils to be lanced here: Don Nickles, John Ashcroft, and Conrad Burns, for starters.

It is a myth that the Lott story was driven by the right wing--nobody was on this harder than Atrios, with Josh Marshall running a close second. To their credit, the righty bloggers did pick it up--but what I want to know is, will they keep the pressure on the rest of these guys? Or will it turn out that their outrage, while certainly genuine, was proportionately related to the amount of embarassment being caused?

In other words, will the right now be willing to overlook equally egregious comments and actions, and voting records, as long as no one's raising a fuss about them? Because that's kind of been the whole problem all along, hasn't it?

This could get interesting

From yesterday's Independent:

Iraq's 11,000-page report to the UN Security Council lists 150 foreign companies, including some from America, Britain, Germany and France, that supported Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programme, a German newspaper said yesterday.
Berlin's left-wing Die Tageszeitung newspaper said it had seen a copy of the original Iraqi dossier which was vetted for sensitive information by US officials before being handed to the five permanent Security Council members two weeks ago. An edited version was passed to the remaining 10 members of the Security Council last night.
British officials said the list of companies appeared to be accurate. Eighty German firms and 24 US companies are reported to have supplied Iraq with equipment and know-how for its weapons programmes from 1975 onwards and in some cases support for Baghdad's conventional arms programme had continued until last year.
It is not known who leaked the report, but it could have come from Iraq. Baghdad is keen to embarrass the US and its allies by showing the close involvement of US, German, British and French firms in helping Iraq develop its weapons of mass destruction when the country was a bulwark against the much feared spread of Iranian revolutionary fervour to the Arab world.

More.

Hours of fun

Here's an index page featuring more of Tissue San's friends.

And here's a home page with some Flash animation.

This Modern World--your one-stop internet portal for commentary, news scoops, and the latest in inexplicable Japanese advertising icons.

This doesn't seem good
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iranian and other Middle East citizens were in southern California jails on Wednesday after coming forward to comply with a new rule to register with immigration authorities only to wind up handcuffed and behind bars.
Shocked and frustrated Islamic and immigrant groups estimate that more than 500 people have been arrested in Los Angeles, neighboring Orange County and San Diego in the past three days under a new nationwide anti-terrorism program. Some unconfirmed reports put the figure as high as 1,000.
The arrests sparked a demonstration by hundreds of Iranians outside a Los Angeles immigration office. The protesters carried banners saying "What's next? Concentration camps?" and "What happened to liberty and justice?."
A spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service said no numbers of people arrested would be made public. A Justice Department spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Story here. As usual, Atrios is on top of this.

Update: several readers have alerted me to the entirely different spin in the Associated Press version of this story, which is headlined "Thousands Protest New Immigration Policy."

Another blast from the past

This would be a fun videotape to watch:

A videotape of a January 1997 going-away party for former Enron President Rich Kinder features nearly half an hour of absurd skits, songs and testimonials by company executives and prominent Houstonians, the Houston Chronicle reported in its Monday editions.
The collection is all meant in good fun, but some of the comments are ironic in the current climate of corporate scandal.
In one skit, former Administrative Executive Peggy Menchaca played the part of Kinder as he received a budget report from then-President Jeff Skilling, who played himself, and Financial Planning Executive Tod Lindholm.
When the pretend Kinder expressed doubt that Skilling could pull off 600 percent revenue growth for the coming year, Skilling revealed how it could be done.
"We're going to move from mark-to-market accounting to something I call HFV, or hypothetical future value accounting," Skilling joked as he read from a script. "If we do that, we can add a kazillion dollars to the bottom line."
--snip--
President George W. Bush, who then was governor of Texas, also took part in the skit, as did his father.
At the party, the younger Bush pleaded with Kinder: "Don't leave Texas. You're too good a man."
The governor's father also offered a send-off to Kinder, thanking him for helping his son reach the governor's mansion.
"You have been fantastic to the Bush family," the elder Bush said. "I don't think anybody did more than you did to support George."
Federal investigators told News2Houston Tuesday that they want to take a closer look at the tape.

More. Thanks to Steve McDonald for the tip.

If Dick Armey is the answer...

...we must be asking the wrong question.

No. Sorry. Let me start over.

So many people think that Dick Armey is the man they're looking for at Tom Paine, they've had to post a clarification:

Lots of readers have contacted us to say, "Rep. Dick Armey admitted doing it!" We know that. It's easy for Dick Armey to say he did it -- he's a lame duck with no accountability. And indeed, Armey, as House Majority Leader, did ALLOW it to happen. But what TomPaine.com is looking for is THE PERSON WHO *ASKED* ARMEY to ALLOW it to happen. THAT is the person we want to finger.

I knew that. Heck, if it were that easy, I'd be $10,000 richer.

--------------------

December 18, 2002

Ultra cute character Tissue san arrived!

Please pet this innocent tissue to be used without any complain every day!

Heads up via Jeffrey Cranor.

Update: don't miss Tissue San's friend, Beer Chan. "You will hear Beer chan drinking in big gulps and cheering anytime anywhere!!"

But of course.

There seem to be quite a few different characters here, if you play around with replacing the two digits at the end of the URL. Don't have time to explore them all right now, but I feel confident someone out there will pick up the slack.

Whodunnit

TomPaine.com is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the person or persons who inserted the special Eli Lilly Payback Provision into the Homeland Security Bill at the last minute, in the dead of night.

And Counterspin has a comprehensive rundown on Thimerosol lies and double-talk.

--------------------

December 17, 2002

BREAKING NEWS

As a direct result of this website's efforts, MSNBC is now reporting on the third instance of Lott remarking that Thurmond should have been elected in 1948. The clearly audible comment is made off-camera as Thurmond signs the bill. They're running the story at the top of every half hour; it may also be on the NBC evening news tonight and in a major daily tomorrow morning. Updates to follow as I have them.

Update 1: From MSNBC's press release:

SECAUCUS, NJ- Dec, 17, 2002- MSNBC has uncovered a third instance of Sen. Trent Lott saying Sen. Thurmond "should have been President" in 1948, when he ran for President on a segregationist platform. In the video obtained by MSNBC, Sen. Lott is emceeing the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act on Oct. 19, 2000. As Sen. Thurmond signs the bill, Sen. Lott can be heard saying, "Now this is a famous signature right here. He should have been President in 1947 (sic), I think it was." MSNBC contacted Sen. Lott's press secretary, Ron Bonjean, who did not deny that Lott made the comments at the event. Bonjean insists that the fact Lott made the statement at the signing of the defense act makes their case that this is not about race and that it has nothing to do with race. Bonjean told MSNBC it proves that Lott meant Thurmond would have been tougher on defense, fighting Communism and best for the economy.

Update 2: made the NBC Evening News.

Update 3: Fox News has picked it up as well.

Update 4: here's the story on MSNBC's website (scroll down). It is also referenced in the Lott stories in this morning's Washington Post and New York Times. I am told it made ABC World News Tonight and the wire stories as well.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

Josh Marshall writes:

Trent Lott's career is currently swirling down the drain in part because he has a long-standing association with a white supremacist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens and because he gave a 1984 interview to a crypto-racist magazine called the Southern Partisan. Attorney General John Ashcroft is going on Larry King Live tomorrow night. Ashcroft also has at least some connection with the very same group and he gave an interview to the same magazine only four years ago.
Is Larry going to ask him about it? If not, why not? Should Ashcroft get a pass for some of the same stuff that's ending Lott's career?
His Larryness has his own website. And down in the lower lefthand corner there's a link where you can send an email suggesting a question for a guest ...

I think you know what you need to do.

Do as I say, not as I do

From this morning's NY Times:

When the CSX Corporation calculates pension benefits for its chief executive, John W. Snow, nominated by President Bush last week to be Treasury secretary, he will receive credit for 44 years of service to the company, though he has worked there just 25.
Moreover, Mr. Snow's benefits will be based not just on his salary, or even his salary and bonus, but also the value of 250,000 shares of stock the CSX board gave him.
Getting credit for years not worked, and having virtually all compensation counted toward pension benefits, are two of the newest trends in pay for senior executives, said Judith Fischer, managing director of Executive Compensation Advisory Services. She calls such deals "the eternal wealth syndrome."
Though he has renounced his claim to about $15 million in severance benefits, Mr. Snow's pension improvements mean he will collect $2.47 million a year from CSX until he dies, according to company disclosures. If confirmed as Treasury secretary, he will be paid $161,200 annually.
--snip--
As Treasury secretary, Mr. Snow would be in the middle of pension policy-making as the subject heats up in Washington. He would oversee new pension rules announced by the Bush administration last week that experts say can be expected to strip benefits from older workers while benefiting younger workers and saving companies money.

More.

Laughter, the best medicine

Some excerpts from Trent Lott's BET interview:

GORDON: What about affirmative action?
LOTT: I'm for that. I think you should reach out to people...
GORDON: Across the board?
LOTT: Absolutely, across the board. That's why I'm so proud of my own alma mater now, University of Mississippi, that obviously had a difficult time in the 60s and 70s, now led by an outstanding chancellor, Robert Khayat, that has gotten rid of the Confederate flag, that has now has an institute of reconciliation, that has a leadership...
GORDON: Yet your votes in the past have not suggested that you are for affirmative action.
LOTT: I am for affirmative action. And I practice it. I have had African-Americans on my staff, and other minorities, but particularly African-Americans, since the mid-1970s.
I have had a particular program...
GORDON: But to have one on one's staff--you understand the difference, though, to have a black on your staff and to push legislation that would help African-Americans, minorities across the board, are completely different.
LOTT: You know, again, you can get into arguments about timetables and quotas.

Complete transcript here.

--------------------

December 16, 2002

Presented for your amusement

From tonight's NBC News:

Correspondent: Publicly, the White House today used (Al Gore's) announcement to take a general swipe at Democrats.
ARI FLEISCHER: Somebody will emerge from the Democratic field who will ultimately seek to raise taxes on the American people.

(Ed. note: unlike Republicans, who only want raise taxes on the American people below a certain income level.)

Correspondent continues: Privately, White House officials admitted they had expected Gore to run, and weren't relishing a Gore challenge, one official saying, quote, he did get five hundred thousand more votes than the President.

Just asking

If Lott goes, is Don Nickles really the best person to replace him?

And isn't it about time to pay a little more attention to the skeletons in John Ashcroft's closet?

There is a possibility...

...that the story of Trent Lott's third public comment that Strom Thurmond should have become president--made in October 2000 at the signing of the Spence/Warner Defense Spending Bill, and so far unreported in the major media--will hit one of the cable news networks today.

Maybe even around the same time Trent Lott is on BET, trying to explain the first two away.

If it happens, remember that you read it here first.

Update: well, it's not going to happen exactly like this--but it does look likely to break big, and soon.

Fair and balanced

Some dissenting email, presented unedited and without comment:

Subject: Are you Republican or Democrat ? Do you really know the differences ?
Judging by the anti-Bush tone that your strips have we bet you are a DEMOCRAT . How could anyone write a political comic strip and know so little about politics ? Every person that I ve met that claims to be a Democrat I ve asked , why are you a Democrat ? The stupid answers fall into two catagories - well thats what my parents and our family is ... and - I don t know ... Sounds real intelligent to vote for people and not know what they even basically stand for . SCARY ! Every Republican that I ve asked , why are you a republican ? Has been able to tell me the basic principles of being a Republican and why they vote that way . My wife and I worked dilligently through high school and college holding full time jobs and at the same making good grades . Tough ? You bet it was . But we planned for the future and worked hard . We both graduated college , got corporate jobs and we climbed the ladder through dilligence , hard work and much planning only to be taxed at an a! bsolutely unfair 40 % of our salary !!! Unfair ? You bet it is ! Some how the Democrats think that because I worked hard , studied hard and carefully planned out my life to be sucessfull that I should support a grossly out of controll welfare system that actually promotes unemployment and having kids that I will be paying for !!! I will help people that really need it and that is about 50% of the people on welfare now .Republicans like my wife and I are Americas tax base . Democrats voting for tax hikes and lots of government programs at my expense are the tax burden . Please learn the basic principles of being both a Democrat and a Repubican . Politics is not about looks or peoples individual personalities but what the party stands for . A Democrat once told me -You just have to know how to use the system ... My reply ? I am the system your referring to asshole !!!

Coming attractions

I've heard Rush Limbaugh explain to his audience, which is presumably comprised of mortal beings, why they should consider health care a privilege, and not a right. I've heard him explain to his audience, which presumably contains its share of low- and middle-income workers, why tax cuts for the wealthy benefit all Americans.

But I can't wait to hear him try to sell this:

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.
Economists at the Treasury Department are drafting new ways to calculate the distribution of tax burdens among different income classes, which are expected to highlight what administration officials see as a rising tax burden on the rich and a declining burden on the poor. The White House Council of Economic Advisers is also preparing a report detailing the concentration of the tax burden on the affluent and highlighting problems with the way tax burdens are calculated for the poor.

It's the "Lucky Duckies" thing unfolding.. But you know, even as I wrote this cartoon, there was still part of me thinking, nah, they wouldn't really...would they?

I mean--they're going to seriously start arguing that what this country really needs is an upper income tax cut coupled with a middle- and lower-income tax increase?

And not only that--but they're talking about it a week and a half before Christmas?

Talk about tone deaf. This one's barely out of the gate, and already they're tying themselves in knots:

Answering critics who say the working poor do face high taxes because they pay high Social Security payroll taxes, outgoing White House economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey told the AEI tax forum that the 12.4 percent Social Security levy should not be considered when tax burdens are calculated. Lindsey said the Social Security tax is ultimately returned to the taxpayer as a benefit.

(snip)

When administration officials pushed the need to create private investment accounts to supplement Social Security, they specifically warned that taxes paid into Social Security would not necessarily be returned unless the system was reformed.
William W. Beach, an economist at the Heritage Foundation think tank, said he was sympathetic to Lindsey's argument that the Social Security tax is not really a tax. But, he said, it was a dangerous argument for a Republican to make.
"Do I allow defense spending to offset my income taxes since I like to be defended? Do I allow road taxes to offset my profits taxes because I use the roads?" he asked. "If you do start down that road, it's hard to see anything as taxes."

--------------------

December 15, 2002

The pLott thickens

This doesn't bode well for Lott.

A truly peculiar moment in American politics

Al Gore as Trent Lott on Saturday Night Live. (Photo swiped from Atrios.)

Does this mean he's giving up on a Presidential bid--or is this just the upping-the-ante, twenty-first century version of playing the saxophone on Arsenio?

Update: looks like it's the former.

--------------------

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