May 26, 2006

I'm off to Vegas...Luxor, to be exact...everyone have a safe and sane Memorial Day Weekend.
The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh this morning, after a three-year delay. The Dems didn't even try to filibuster.
Atrios approvingly links to this HuffPost by Eric Boehlert, on the Gore-Bradley battle for the Democratic nomination in 2000:
But did Gore really "struggle" putting away primary contender Bradley at the ballot box? I went back and looked up the answer. Here's a look at the 2000 Democratic primary results, state-by-state in alphabetical order (Bradley was not on the ballot in every state):

Arizona, Gore +59
California, Gore +63
Colorado, Gore +47
Connecticut, Gore +14
Delaware, Gore +15
District of Columbia, Gore +90
Florida, Gore +63
Georgia, Gore +66
Idaho, Gore +59
Illinois, Gore +70
Indiana, Gore +53
Kentucky, Gore +65
Louisiana, Gore +52
Maine, Gore +13
Maryland, Gore +39
Massachusetts, Gore +23
Michigan, Gore +42

You can see where this is gong [sic]. In the end, Gore won every primary contest against Bradley in 2000, and did it by an average of +47. Gore threw a shut-out in what was one of the most lopsided routs in recent primary history as Bradley, despite spending $40 million, was only competitive in a handful of New England states. But now Slate, which fawned over Bradley in real time, casually re-writes history to suggest Gore "struggled" against Bradley. That's pure fiction, as well as lazy and dishonest.
Actually, Eric, what's "lazy and dishonest" is not reporting the result of the New Hampshire primary, which was where Bradley spent most of his time and money (btw, it would have been next on his alphabetical list). Gore won that won as well, but by only four points; the subsequent primaries listed by Boehlert were all after New Hampshire, when the battle was effectively over. There was a five week gap between New Hampshire and the next primaries, on "Super Tuesday", and Bradley, running as a progressive alternative to Clinton and Gore, needed a win in New Hampshire to remain viable for the Super Tuesday primaries. He didn't get it, had almost no funds left, and Gore's narrow victory in the Nutmeg State effectively ended the race.

Boehlert's book, Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, has predictably been embraced by one of the more depressing elements in our body politic, the Whiny Left. The Whiny Left is perhaps best seen in its native habitat, the blogosphere, where it moans about how mean the New York Times is to focus on the Clintons' sham marriage, or how outrageous it is that the Washington Post attempts to draw links between Jack Abramoff and Democrats, or what a satanic thug Joe Lieberman is, or, even more importantly, how vicious the MSM is for not hyping an after-dinner speech by Steven Colbert a few weeks back. The Whiny Left is the core audience for anyone who writes a book detailing what a spineless bunch of wussies the media is (are?).

The fact that the Whiny Left may be right (especially about Lieberman) is less important than the fact that its only effect is to harden the attitudes of those less invested in their partisanship, who might otherwise be potential allies. The Whiny Left offers nothing in the way of solutions or alternatives to the status quo, and seem united only by an intense and unwavering hatred of George Bush, not understanding that the broad disapproval the general public has toward the President and his policies does not mean that they will embrace the agenda, such as it is, of the Whiny Left.

If there's one thing I've learned about angry people, it's that they may be publicly amusing, but privately, they're all bores.

May 25, 2006

From this morning's Kausfiles:
Steve Sailer chops up Dana Milbank's sneering treatment of Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has committed the sin of arguing in a detailed, reasonable and lawyerly fashion against the Senate immigration bill. ... Sample Milbank sneer and Sailer response:

(Milbank) Sessions has joined the immigration debate with typical ferocity, impugning the motives of those who disagree with him. "We have quite a number of members of the House and Senate and members in the media who are all in favor of reforms and improvements as long as they don't really work," he said last week of those who opposed the 370 miles of fencing. "But good fences make good neighbors. Fences don't make bad neighbors."

The senator evidently hadn't consulted the residents of Korea, Berlin or the West Bank. [Emphasis added]
(Sailor) Killer line, Dana! Obviously, the residents of Korea or the West Bank would have lived in perfect harmony without those horrible fences keeping them separate.
Pardon me for stating the obvious, but isn't there a bit of a difference between the relationship our country has with its neighbor to the south, and the relationship between Jews and Arabs on the West Bank, or North and South Korea since 1950, or between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War? Not even the most paranoid fantasists obsessed with Reconquista and Aztlan believe that our relationship with Mexico is akin to that of two countries at war.

Kaus goes on to defend Senator Sessions, whose track record on civil rights is, shall we say, a bit spotty. To wit, back when President Reagan attempted to put the then U.S. Attorney on the U.S. District Court in 1986, during his confirmation hearings:

Senate Democrats tracked down a career Justice Department employee named J. Gerald Hebert, who testified, albeit reluctantly, that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labeled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." Hebert said Sessions had claimed these groups "forced civil rights down the throats of people." In his confirmation hearings, Sessions sealed his own fate by saying such groups could be construed as "un-American" when "they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions" in foreign policy. Hebert testified that the young lawyer tended to "pop off" on such topics regularly, noting that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases. Sessions acknowledged making many of the statements attributed to him but claimed that most of the time he had been joking, saying he was sometimes "loose with [his] tongue." He further admitted to calling the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a "piece of intrusive legislation," a phrase he stood behind even in his confirmation hearings.

It got worse. Another damaging witness--a black former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama named Thomas Figures--testified that, during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he "used to think they [the Klan] were OK" until he found out some of them were "pot smokers." Sessions claimed the comment was clearly said in jest. Figures didn't see it that way. Sessions, he said, had called him "boy" and, after overhearing him chastise a secretary, warned him to "be careful what you say to white folks." Figures echoed Hebert's claims, saying he too had heard Sessions call various civil rights organizations, including the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, "un-American." Sessions denied the accusations but again admitted to frequently joking in an off-color sort of way. In his defense, he said he was not a racist, pointing out that his children went to integrated schools and that he had shared a hotel room with a black attorney several times.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, controlled at the time by the G.O.P., voted against sending his nomination to the floor. Since then, his record on civil rights has been even more spotty, a fact that obviously hasn't inhibited the good people of Alabama from electing the man to two terms in the U.S. Senate.

The fact that Senator Sessions is, or is not, an unreconstructed bigot is not, by itself, a reason not to pass strong laws against illegal immigration. I just got through reading a biography of William Jennings Bryan, the perennial Democrat Presidential nominee of the turn-of-the-century, and one of the fascinating points the author makes is that most, not just some, but most of the cherished progressive principles liberals believe in, and defend, today, were ideas that came from the heads of some of the most virulent racists of the day. This wasn't just true of Southern Democrats, who because of competition from the Populist Party in the 1890's were forced to evolve into the wing of the party that most embraced economic liberalism at that time. Many of the great radical figures of the day, men like Jack London, Upton Sinclair, and "Big Bill" Haywood, were also racists, but that doesn't mean that child labor laws, the 40-hour work week, or collective bargaining were bad ideas. The fact that the poison of racial bigotry was mixed in with the soup of modern progressivism is a reminder that we are all prisoners of the culture in which we live.

What it should mean today, however, is that no immigration law that seeks to punish border crossers should be taken up until its supporters get their own house in order, purge their ranks of the bigots, in the same way that supporters of welfare reform were made to purge their ranks of the idiots who saw the black "welfare queen" as their bête noire before any serious debate about welfare legislation could commence.

Of course, not all people who support tighter border enforcement are bigots, and not all reasons for supporting such a policy are nativist, but unfortunately, racism does permeate the issue. As long as the fear of the brown-skinned lurks behind the surface of this debate, we must make sure that any legislation ultimately passed not be tainted by such an association with racist bigotry. I would rather live in the Aztlan of the nativist's warped fantasy than in Jeff Sessions' America.

May 24, 2006

Gorillas in the Mist: Believe it or not, this isn't from The Onion....

UPDATE: A dyspeptic commenter asks: What's the difference between the Senate Majority Leader and his patient? One is a bi-pedal mammal with opposing thumbs and a brain the size of a lemon, and the other is a gorilla.

May 23, 2006

We should all be so lucky: The actual CNN headline is different, but the RSS feed I got for this story read "O.C. star pleased at her death".
Do you realize that, historically speaking, the 2006 mid-term election is probably the least important national election we've had in some time, or will have in some time to come? It's a non-Presidential election, so it's automatically less pivotal than '08, '04, '00, '96, '92, etc. Mid-term elections in years ending with zero or eight are always important, since they determine who gets to redraw districts at the state level, and thus shape who controls the House for the next ten years. Compared with this November, the mid-term election four years from now will be infinitely more important, falling as it does in 2010, the midway point of President Hillary (or President McCain)'s first term.

Next in importance are mid-term elections in a President's first term, such as '34, '46, '62, '66, '74, '82, '94 and '02, since they impact the scope of the domestic agenda of the party in power, at a time when the power of a President is at its zenith. Then come mid-terms falling on a year when a disproportionate number of Senate seats are held by one party ( '42 and '86), where a strong performance by one party can shape control of the Senate for some time to come.

This mid-term has none of those factors. Reapportionment won't be decided until after 2010, so no one elected this time around will necessarily be involved in the future reshaping of the political map. Bush is already a lame duck, even with his party firmly in control of Congress, and any investigations a Democratic Congress might initiate will have dubious long-term impact, other than reaffirming that he has been an awful Chief Executive. And the Democrats are actually defending more Senate seats this time around, thanks to their strong performance in the 2000 election, so even a good performance this time around will probably not net much in the way of gains, or have much long-term impact.

So don't let anybody fool you when they say that "this is the most important election in our lifetime". It's not. In the context of history, it will barely even register.

May 22, 2006

Tonight was probably the greatest night in the history of television.

May 21, 2006

Props to Kevin Drum for setting up the "Eating Liberally" meet-up this afternoon at Farmers Market in Hollywood. It was nice getting to put names to faces...I have lived my whole life (so far, at least) in L.A., and up until today I had been to Farmers Market maybe twice, even though it's one of the biggest tourist attractions locally, and it was the site of Gilmore Field, the home of the late and legendary Hollywood Stars baseball team. Just goes to show what you miss out on in life while you're waiting for something else to happen.
Michael Hiltzik returns to the LA Times this morning with a piece on Clipper superstar Elton Brand's forlorn attempts to succeed as a movie producer. Hiltzik, you might recall, was stripped of his column and blog for having the audacity to use pseudonyms when commenting on other sites (as well as, embarassingly enough, his own). I spoke with a high muckety-muck at the Times about that this past week, but only got special pleading about how "any journalist would know what he did was wrong", as if that would have any weight in the wild, unfettered world of the blogosphere. What Hiltzik did was embarassing to his employer, but not unethical.