Thursday, November 07, 2002


The Rittenhouse Review has a must-see "sampling of perspectives" on Tuesday's results.

He puts special and deserved emphasis on Teresa Nielsen Hayden's response at Making Light: GO READ IT.

She offers sound advice for progressive types -- for anybody who gives a damn about the little people and the underdogs. And she points out the path that could allow the underdogs to reclaim the public sphere, and maybe also the blogosphere. The following section, especially, should be required reading for bloggers:

Be polite. Most especially, be polite to people who don't have a perfect understanding of all the fine points of your political analyses. Explain how you think this point here, which they do agree with, hooks up to that point over there. They may thereupon decide they agree with that one too; whereas if you denounce them for not understanding that second point, they may decide they don't agree with any of your points, so there!, and will undoubtedly decide that you're a jerk. Nobody will ever think you're a genius because you're berating them.

Is there any chance we could give her Terry McAuliffe's job?

Speaking of which, Arianna Huffington speaks for many of us when she says "Bring Me The Head Of Terry McAuliffe!" (Her column is free here, but if you've got money to burn on Salon premium, it's here too.) Here's a sample:

Memo to Tom [Daschle], Dick [Gephardt] and Terry [McAuliffe]: The problem wasn't that the president was out there delivering his message. The problem was that you failed to have anyone out there delivering any kind of galvanizing, opposing message.

And it's not as if there aren't plenty of urgent issues to choose from: the limping economy, the soaring deficit, corporate corruption, an energy plan crafted by the oil industry, the undermining of virtually every regulatory agency, the insanity of Bush's tax cuts. Well, I guess that last one would have been a bit tricky since 12 Democratic Senators sided with Bush on it, including those two about-to-be-former Senators Jean Carnahan and Max Cleland, both of whom voted yes on the Iraq resolution. Pandering to the President didn't seem to help them much.

Replacing those three will be a major step forward for Democrats. Particularly if the minority leader positions are filled by people who are: 1) leaders, and 2) not tip-toeing around for fear of jeopardizing a future run for president.

(Huffington on Tom & Dick: "If [they] have even an ounce of self-awareness, they will spare us the sorry spectacle of their expected runs for the White House." Sadly for the coffee-shop owners of Iowa and New Hampshire, they don't and they won't.)

Joe Duemer at Reading & Writing is so angered by the success of those who would "sell the needy for a pair of shoes" that he takes consolation in the prophets, then offers this helpful lexicon for Democrats. I especially liked this:

Income gap [Note: when Republicans respond by calling this "class war," respond with, "the class war started in the boardroom."]

Now, go watch "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and "Dave" and "It's a Wonderful Life" and whatever other Frank-Capra-type, fight-for-the-little-guy, underdogs-against-the-rich-and-powerful type stuff you think might make you feel better and get you pysched up to keep fighting Old Man Potter and everything he stands for.

posted by Fred Clark 4:17 PM


If you visit American city,
You will find it very pretty.
Just two things of which you must beware:
Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air.

-- Tom Lehrer, "Pollution"

Want a good example of what a GOP-controlled government looks like? Try this:

Listeria Puts Focus On USDA
Food testing practices called 'not completely adequate'

That's the headline to an AP story from today's paper.

The department tests meat for listeria, but the agency needs to improve the tests to protect the public's health ...

A Pilgrim's Pride plant in Franconia, Pa., recalled 27.4 million pounds of ready-to-eat chicken and turkey meat last month after federal inspectors found a genetic strain of listeria in the plant that matched the one blamed for an outbreak that sickened 50 people and killed seven in the Northeast, including two adults in New York City and an infant in Suffolk [N.Y.].

Here's the kicker:

Consumer groups argue the outbreak and recalls could have been prevented if the government would approve a rule drafted by the Clinton administration. It would require companies to do their own testing for the food-borne illness to supplement testing by federal inspectors.

The department is performing an assessment before it approves the regulation.

That assessment has been going on for nearly two years. The Bush administration put the listeria-testing regulations on ice within 10 days of taking office:

WASHINGTON (January 29, 2001 9:02 a.m. EST) - The Bush administration has pulled back for review a food-safety regulation aimed at forcing meat and cheese processors to do more testing to prevent listeria-tainted cold cuts and cheeses from reaching supermarket shelves.

This is what Republican "regulatory reform" looks like. (In the Republican lexicon, "reform" is a synonym for "dismantle, raze, obliterate. SEE abolish.)

Since the GOP now controls both houses of Congress, we can expect plenty more regulatory reform over the next two years. For now, you may want to avoid the lunch meats. And the drinking water. And the air ...

posted by Fred Clark 3:03 PM


Ran across these after yesterday's post:

Melissa Brown, the anti-Negro opthamologist from Flourtown who failed in her bid for Congress and her attempt to establish Apartheid in Northeast Philadelphia, is actually on-record speaking out against racism. Sort of.

She issued a press release condemning Philadelphia Mayor John Street (an African American) for "racist remarks" and "hate speech."

What did Mayor Street say that earned the scorn of Ms. Brown? At a meeting of the NAACP he said, "Let me tell you, the brothers and sisters are running the city."

Ms. Brown ignores the good-natured humor with which Mayor Street's comments were made, calling them (and ny extension him, and the NAACP, and pretty much all black people everywhere): "divisive and hurtful," "racially divisive," and "hate speech [that] seeks to divide the very constituents that public servants seek to represent." Displaying simultaneously her lack of humor and proportion, her fervent hate/fear of black Philadelphians, and her tendency toward overwrought bluster.

Here's one more gem from the failed Republican's sinful, shamelessly racist campaign:

“Most people in the Northeast, and the U.S. in general, don’t have a huge stock portfolio. What they have is the value in their home, that they worked all their lives for. But in the last few years Section Eight has caused changes in the neighborhoods that takes value from homes that people invested in or want to pass on to their children." (from the weekly Northeast Times)

"Okay," you may be thinking, "the slacktivist seems to be obsessing on some local race-baiting nutjob who, after all, lost her bid for Congress. So what?"

The point here is Brown was the official Republican candidate. Her positions on race were therefore the official Republican positions. Melissa Brown's race-baiting was conducted with the full and enthusiastic support of the Republican party. Had she been elected, she would have been welcomed with open arms into the Republican Caucus in the House of Representatives.

This is the party that now controls both houses of Congress.

posted by Fred Clark 2:28 PM

Wednesday, November 06, 2002


Can't shake the devil's hand
And say you're only kidding ...

-- "Your Racist Friend," by They Might Be Giants

Xenophobic opthamologist Melissa Brown ran an offensive campaign for Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District. The central organizing principle of the Republican's failed campaign was how best to keep black people as far from her constituents as possible. (See this earlier post.)

Her whole campaign was run as though she was doing that Negro-check thing before speaking (where a white person starts to say something, stops, looks over both shoulders, then leans in and says, in a low voice, "I'm not prejudiced, but ...").

She campaigned against "crime" -- by which she seemed to mean "geographic proximity to black males." She campaigned for "Section 8 Reform" and a "moratorium" on Section 8 housing, by which she blatantly meant "I will fight to my dying breath to keep black families from moving into my neighborhood."

Then, shortly before the election, Brown supporters circulated fliers in white neighborhoods saying that the Rev. Al Sharpton had endorsed her opponent.

The Melissa Brown campaign was a sleazy, racist disgrace. Yet not a single Republican candidate locally, statewide or nationally, was willing to speak out against her fear- and hate-mongering crusade.

Re-elected Rep. Joe Hoeffel was being overly cautious when he released a statement that said: "Any congressional candidate who makes such blatant appeals to racial fears is not fit to serve in the United States Congress. Melissa Brown should be ashamed of herself."

But she's not ashamed. Her race-baiter-in-chief, Grand Imperial Wizard Steve Elena, even claimed that their sleazeball tactics "... created the blueprint that every election [in the Northeast] is going to be run on in the next 10 years." (See article.)

Mr. Elena gives himself too much credit. This "blueprint" dates back at least to George Wallace, standing in the doorway of the University of Alabama and crying "Segregation forever!"

posted by Fred Clark 4:52 PM


A bit of good news from here in the Philly area -- Ed Rendell wins easily to become the next governor of Pennsylvania.

Rendell was a great mayor for Philadelphia and he should be a fine governor.

Additional good news from PA:

Another bit of history was made yesterday: The state will have its first female lieutenant governor, Catherine Baker Knoll of McKees Rocks, near Pittsburgh.

posted by Fred Clark 4:05 PM

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


Your vote matters!

Remember, the last presidential election was chosen by a single vote. (Okay, true, that vote was cast by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who sided with four others to rule that your vote doesn't matter ...)

Check in with Talking Points Memo and MyDD for some of the most interesting forecasts.

And keep an eye on FraudWatch 2002 at The Election.

Now go vote. It gives you the right to complain later.

posted by Fred Clark 4:16 PM


Happy Birthday B/Ryan!

Today is the 43rd birthday of Bryan Adams, and the 28th birthday of Ryan Adams.

You may have heard about Ryan Adams' recent hissy fit. The alt-country songwriter apparently doesn't appreciate jokes -- at least not jokes about him.

Here's the story via ananova:

The singer-songwriter [Ryan] was playing a gig at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville when a member of the audience shouted at him to play "Summer of '69." The song was a hit for Bryan Adams.

Adams ordered the house lights be turned on so he could find the fan.

He then paid him $30 cash as a refund for the show, ordered him to leave and said he wouldn't play another note until that happened.

The venue's general manager stopped the fan on his way out, apologised profusely and allowed him back into the concert.

The fan kept Adams' $30.

Ryan is apparently still working out the difference between "brooding, conflicted artist" and "humorless jerk."

And the result of his tantrum is predictable -- he's going to hear calls for "Summer of '69" for the rest of his days. It will haunt him like "Freebird."

Greil Marcus even points out:

... the response of songwriter Robbie Fulks, on his Web site: "Any reader on this site who attends a Ryan Adams show and disrupts the show with a Bryan Adams song request will receive in return merchandise" -- T-shirts and autographed CDs -- "of his or her choice equal to the cost of the ticket, from my online store ... please provide the date and location of the show, what you yelled, and what Ryan's reaction was."

Ryan Adams' only has one course of action if he hopes to avoid a lifetime of Bryan Adams references: He must master one of the Canadian popsters' hit songs, put his own artistic stamp on it, and perform it good-naturedly whenever confronted with this runaway running joke.

I recommend "Straight from the Heart." The younger Mr. Adams can find the chords and lyrics here. (Transpose that into a minor key, slow it down to a Tom Waits-ish dirge and people will say you're brilliant.)

posted by Fred Clark 1:17 PM

Monday, November 04, 2002


Josh Marshall has posted a copy of the sleazy, treasonous flier found posted in black neighborhoods in Baltimore. (See this earlier post.)

Note: the Maryland GOP has yet to condemn these fliers. So far, they've only seen fit to condemn the Democrats for complaining about them.

Marshall has an article coming out soon on voter suppression and voter fraud, so keep an eye on his site for updates.

posted by Fred Clark 5:43 PM


Howard Kurtz of CNN's reliable sources is probably still staggering from his interview yesterday with Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. Here are some highlights from the transcript:

KURTZ: Breaking news.

STEWART: Yes, exactly, breaking news. Although, quite frankly, you guys broke it. I mean, let's face facts. I mean, breaking news -- the words breaking news I don't even think can be used any more.

KURTZ: ... they've been overused?

STEWART: Well, during the sniper thing, they just left it up there. They just literally left up the "breaking news" graphic. ...

= = = = = = = = = = = =

STEWART: I thought it was the media's finest hour, the sniper coverage.

KURTZ: Finest hour?

STEWART: Absolutely, by watching the 24-hour news networks, I learned that the sniper was an olive-skinned, white-black male -- men -- with ties to Son of Sam, al Qaeda, and was a military kid, playing video games, white, 17, maybe 40.

[... snip ...]

I thought CNN, MSNBC, FOX, did a great job putting on -- you know what they should've called the coverage, "You know what I heard?" and just have people randomly showing...


KURTZ: What should happen to all of these experts who came and filled the airwaves with all of these predictions that turned out to be completely and totally wrong?

STEWART: Well, it's not their fault.

KURTZ: It's not their fault?


KURTZ: Shouldn't they have to resign from the talking head society?

STEWART: Shouldn't CNN have to pay a penalty for putting them on the air? You're Paulie Walnuts. You're vouching. You brought a guy in, and you put him on the air and you vouched. You said, "No, Tony, this guy, he's good people, he's credible." So whatever they say, I mean, they're called profilers.

If you watched the coverage, you would have thought that that's what the police do, is they literally have two guys sort of almost like psychics sitting around going, "What do you think he is?" "I don't know, maybe he's white, maybe he's black. Maybe he's with al Qaeda, maybe he's Son of Sam."

They're actually following real leads. I don't understand the idea of -- you know I heard a guy talking -- actually on your show -- saying, "Well, the public really wanted information. They had a real thirst for information. So because we didn't really have that much information, we had to just speculate."

KURTZ: We made it up.

STEWART: Right. Which seems insane. That's like saying, "You know, the kids were real thirsty, and we didn't have any water, so we just gave them beer, because we figured that would work."


KURTZ: Well, you're right. The cable folks who put these folks in front of the camera have to bear some of the responsibility.

STEWART: Not some, all.

KURTZ: All right.

STEWART: Not some. They bear all of the responsibility. You cannot -- I'm not even sure what the reasoning was behind just putting people on who didn't know anything.

[... snip ...]

Unless you know the guy's name, don't say anything. Unless you have information, rather than speculating -- unless you could say, like, "Oh, the sniper? Yes, it's John Muhammad, I think." Unless you know that, shut up, say nothing.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

STEWART: I mean, Fox [news], let's face facts, is a relatively cynical undertaking, to begin with.

KURTZ: Because?

STEWART: Well, it's basically, it's taken the AM radio mentality and labeled it fair and balanced just to upset you guys.

KURTZ: A lot of people watch.

STEWART: Of course, a lot of people watch. A lot of people watch wrestling. A lot of people watch -- you know, you could put on porn, and I think a lot of people would watch it.

But I think they call it fair and balanced just as kind of a dig. I mean, it's not. It's clearly meant to be more ideological and more opinion-based. They took the paradigm of AM radio. By the way, I enjoy what those guys do. I find it fun to watch. It's just not a news network.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

STEWART: Well, yes, you could host "CROSSFIRE." What's that got to do with journalism? I mean, that's just a couple of knuckleheads. I mean, the promo for that is Bob Novak in a boxing outfit. I mean, for God's sakes, somehow I don't imagine Edward R. Murrow ever putting on the satin robe and going, "I'll destroy you."

(Found this via Pundit Pap, via Eschaton, via Oliver Willis ...)

posted by Fred Clark 2:26 PM


The Sun reports on a particularly despicable attempt to rig elections in Baltimore.

Reporters Howard Tibit and Tim Craig begin:

Maryland Democrats and Republicans traded charges yesterday over allegations that one party is trying to buy African-American voters while the other is trying to suppress them.

(Hmmm. Democrats "buying" the black vote in Maryland? Is this really necessary? I mean, I haven't seen the polling numbers, but are we supposed to believe that Dick Cheney's Powerful-White-Guy charisma is suddenly swaying black voters near the capital?)

Lidbit and Craig bury the big news way down the page:

[Rep. Elijah E.] Cummings also held up a flier that Democratic campaign volunteers said they found posted in some Northwest Baltimore neighborhoods, including on the doors of Pimlico Middle School.

The unsigned flier read: "URGENT NOTICE. Come out to vote on November 6th. Before you come to vote make sure you pay your parking tickets, motor vehicle tickets, overdue rent and most important any warrants."

"Of course all of us know this is an effort to stop people from coming out to vote," said Cummings, who noted the election is Nov. 5. "We don't know exactly who put this out, but you must agree it is an interesting combination. We are very clear we will not allow this to happen."

In a token nod to journalistic standards, Libit & Craig call a spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich for a quote. (Getting quotes from "both sides" is so much easier than actually digging into a story to find out if either side is telling the truth, right boys? Quoting is so much more convenient than reporting.)

Here's the Maryland GOP's response to the flier:

"They have absolutely no evidence to support these allegations except fliers printed within their offices," said Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver. "To suggest on the Sunday before the election we are attempting to suppress the African-American vote is ridiculous. It's an effort to change the subject that they are the ones trying to buy the African-American vote."

Note that Cummings did not accuse Republican officials of producing the fliers, but Ehrlich's spokeswoman does accuse Democratic officials of counterfeiting them. That's a serious allegation -- the kind that, if true, should carry serious repercussions for the accused, and if false, should carry serious repercussions for the accusers.

Doesn't anyone at The Sun think it's worth checking on? Or is it somehow sufficient to report "Allegations fly as Election Day nears" without expressing any interest or even curiosity as to whether these flying allegations have any merit?

It seems unlikely to me that the fliers were produced and distributed by anyone with connections to either party -- although they were clearly intended to benefit Republican candidates. What seems most likely is that an individual Fratboy cracker wiseass was freelancing without knowledge of Ehrlich and the state GOP.

If that's true, two things should happen:

1. Ehrlich's campaign should condemn the fliers and not just the people who complain about them.

2. The Justice Department should find and arrest on civil rights charges the person or persons responsible for this attempt at electoral intimidation.

(Original link via Tapped via Eschaton.)

posted by Fred Clark 1:30 PM


Consider, if you will, the number of bad ideas that had to be strung together to create this.

That's right. The Web site has launched a pin-up site dedicated to the "Republican Babe of the Week." What better way to celebrate all that women have done for the GOP -- and all that the Party of White Men has done for women -- than with a Web site providing fantasy-fodder for creepy right-wing adolescents.

This site may be best thing New Jersey has done for women since The Miss America Pageant. Maybe even since Frank Sinatra.

The criteria for what constitutes a noteworthy "Republican Babe" are not clearly spelled out. Some picks -- like still-photo-actress Bo Derek or swimsuit model Kim Alexis -- seem to put more emphasis on the "babe" side of the equation, while others seem to have qualified mainly on the basis of their Republican credentials. (And anyone willing brazenly to break the law on behalf of the GOP is automatically named an honorary "babe.")

Some of the entries seem only vaguely connected to the GOP. About belligerent former-actress Shannen Doherty, the site says: "We don't have a lot of info to back this pick up, but from what we hear, she's a Republican." Replacement-Angel Cheryl Ladd is pictured with Trent Lott -- apparent proof of her conservative worldview.

The lovely and talented Emma Caulfield is a confessed "ultra-conservative." Plus she plays an avaricious vengeance demon on television -- proof enough for me that she's Republican.

And while Ashley Judd may well be a Republican, the site should provide a bit more support than the fact that Naomi's youngest is an outspoken Christian. The Jersey GOP's implication there -- Christian = Republican -- is perverse.

In any case, how can any group of Republicans from New Jersey produce a site honoring Republican "babes" without mentioning one-time Vogue model-turned four-term Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick?

Odd bonus: The site offers this odd bit of "information" about winning babe Laura Ingraham: "At age 26, she became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Prize in Biology for her work in isolating the key proteins involved in the breakdown of nerve cells in degenerative diseases."

The source for this claims seems to be this piece, from the site of WNIS, newsradio. It's very clearly intended as whimsy, and includes much more about Ms. Ingraham's "personal history":

Laura Ingraham believes that most people use these pages as opportunities to embellish their professional experience to lure in the unsuspecting site visitor.

In that spirit … Miss Ingraham's path to a career in the media took many unconventional turns. She completed high school in Connecticut at age 13, and at age 15 became the first person to ever win gold medals in both the winter and summer Olympics. After graduating at the top of her class at Dartmouth one year later, she decided to take time off to write her memoirs for which she won the Pulitzer in 1985. Miss Ingraham, recruited by various intelligence branches of the government, eventually signing on with the CIA, rising to the position of Director of the Agency's Middle East operations. Later Miss Ingraham returned to academics at Oxford University, where she received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. At age 26, she became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Prize in Biology for her work in isolating the key proteins involved in the breakdown of nerve cells in degenerative diseases. After her Nobel Prize money ran out ...

Whoever wrote that, it's clearly intended as a joke and should be so over the top that nobody would take it otherwise. The WNIS page even includes a link to Ms. Ingraham's real (and accomplished) bio, which plays it straight (no Nobel Prize, no Olympic medals, etc.).

But whimsy requires a sense of perspective and an understanding of the human condition -- two things evidently lacking at The site repeats the joke as fact, and it's already being cited as such elsewhere.

(Incidentally, the first American to win an Olympic medal in both the Summer and Winter Games was Eddie Eagan. Eagan won a gold medal as a boxer in 1920, and was part of a gold-medal bobsled team in 1932. Pretty cool. Only nine Americans have ever competed in both sets of games, most recent was gold-medalist women's speed-skater Chris Witty, who also competed in the 2000 games as a cyclist.)

posted by Fred Clark 4:50 AM

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?