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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Friday, 15 July 2005

Topic: In these times...

End of the Week Wrap-Up

Karl Rove and All That

Friday, July 15, the New York Times (here) and the Washington Post (here) both run stories suggesting that Karl Rove only knew about Valerie Plame because a reporter had told him about her. By the end of the day it may be two reporters, the other perhaps Judith Miller. If true then Rove is guilty only of passing along information from one reporter to another, and calls for Rove's resignation were premature.

Or not. There's a ton of commentary all over.

One of the best is from Tim Noah at SLATE.COM in his Rove Death Watch series, where he agues this really doesn't help Rove a whole lot:
These accounts almost certainly come mainly from Rove or his lawyer, and they don't make a lot of sense to me. We learn that Rove learned Valerie Plame's name from Novak; he already knew "from other journalists" that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. But if Novak told Rove Plame's name, why didn't Rove repeat the name in his subsequent conversation with Matt Cooper of Time? (If Rove had named her to Cooper, presumably Cooper would have included her name in his memo to his bureau chief. But he didn't.) Also, according to this version of events, Rove was one of two unnamed government sources Novak used to confirm that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. But if all Rove did was say he'd heard the same rumor from other reporters - which, I agree, would render Rove innocent of wrongdoing - that would hardly count as confirmation. Is it possible that Novak's sourcing methods are this sloppy? An alternative, more plausible scenario is that Novak asked Rove about it, Rove said he'd heard the same thing, and then Rove made inquiries to someone in the government and confirmed the information for Novak. That would be a firing offense.

Here's a bigger problem I have with the new accounts: Cooper's e-mail nowhere says that other news organizations are onto the Plame story. If Rove had told Cooper what he'd presumably told Novak - that he'd heard about this "from other journalists" (including, at this point, Novak) - then you can bet Cooper would have told his bureau chief that they were in competition with other news organizations to get this information into print. News organizations - even newsmagazines - don't like to be scooped. But perhaps Rove didn't tell Cooper that he'd gotten his information from other news organizations. Perhaps he didn't even tell Novak that he'd gotten his information this way. Perhaps he just stated it as fact to one or both of them. Then wouldn't that suggest that Rove had confirmed the information by consulting somebody in the government? He works in the White House, for Pete's sake! If he did confirm with a government official what he'd heard "from other journalists," that's a firing offense.

To believe that Rove is innocent of any wrongdoing, you have to believe that Rove had all these conversations with journalists about Wilson's wife being a CIA employee, and then, over a course of several days, never asked anyone in the government whether what the journalists were telling him was true. I suppose anything is possible. But that stretches credulity to the breaking point.
Ah, it all makes one's head hurt. Best to wait.

Ending the Social Security Program

One can see here that chairmen Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee and Thomas of the House Ways and Means Committee have decided to postpone consideration of Social Security "reform" until September. It really is hard to see how a proposal with private accounts can be salvaged in this session "if the responsible committees punt until after the summer."

So much for that.

Sorry About the Racist Stuff

RNC Chief to Say It Was 'Wrong' to Exploit Racial Conflict for Votes
Mike Allen, The Washington Post Thursday, July 14, 2005; Page A04

They send in a lieutenant to apologize for Republicans being an all-white party -
It was called "the southern strategy," started under Richard M. Nixon in 1968, and described Republican efforts to use race as a wedge issue - on matters such as desegregation and busing - to appeal to white southern voters.

Ken Mehlman, the Republican National Committee chairman, this morning will tell the NAACP national convention in Milwaukee that it was "wrong"

... "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."
Yeah, well, okay. Note this from CNN in January of 2000 -
As the nation honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, thousands of people gathered here to demand that lawmakers remove the Confederate battle flag from atop South Carolina's Statehouse.

... "I think that the flag should be removed from the state Capitol," Vice President Al Gore said Sunday. "That's my position and I think that Governor Bush has avoided taking a position or has ducked the issue."

GOP front-runner George W. Bush has denied avoiding the issue.

"I haven't waffled from day one when I've been asked the question," Bush told CNN's "Late Edition on Sunday. "That's a decision for the people of South Carolina to make."
Bill Montgomery has the quotes nicely formatted facing each other here.

Bruce Reed's comment here - and he was President Clinton's domestic policy adviser and is president of the Democratic Leadership Council ? putting things in perspective:
Even in what is fast becoming the sorriest year in American politics, Mehlman's apology may be the most galling. If not for its Southern strategy, Ken Mehlman would be stuck in Baltimore and the modern Republican Party simply would not exist.

From 1880 to 1948, when Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond invented the Southern strategy he would take with him to the GOP, Democrats won every Southern electoral vote in every presidential election except 1928, when they nominated Al Smith, a Catholic. In 2000 and 2004, Al Gore and John Kerry didn't win a single electoral vote in the South.

In 1964, when LBJ courageously signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress because of the solid South. Today, Republicans control both houses of Congress and all three branches of government because the South is in their column.

... Racial polarization is no longer the reason Republicans win in the South. But for two decades, the race card was the GOP's loss leader. If not for his father's divisive 1988 campaign and Willie Horton ad, we would never have heard of George W. Bush.

The President deserves credit for changing the Republican Party's tone on immigration and education. Mehlman deserves credit for recruiting African-American and Latino candidates.

But if we've learned anything from the GOP's Southern strategy, it's that cynicism and expedience are themselves a form of evil. In the 1970s and '80s, the GOP turned crime and welfare into racial code words, but did nothing about either underlying problem. Republicans raised the specter of racial quotas to win middle-class votes, while their agenda offered opportunity only for the wealthy.

The GOP's Southern strategy collapsed in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton gave Democrats a better one: take the race card out of politics by giving African-Americans, Latinos, and whites what they wanted all along - real progress on wedge issues like crime and welfare. Immigrant-bashing, a California cousin of the Southern strategy, collapsed after Pete Wilson's Prop 187 helped Clinton win 72% of the Latino vote in 1996.

... The reason Republicans are abandoning the race card isn't that they've changed their mind on civil rights or affirmative action. Mehlman and Rove have just made a business decision that in an increasingly diverse nation, they can no longer build a majority on racial wedge issues. In his speech, Mehlman comes right out and says as much: "If my party benefited from racial polarization in the past, it is the Democratic Party that benefits from it today."
And he goes on.

On the other side, Rush Limbaugh, who always refers to the NAACP as the "NAALCP," which he explains stands for the "National Association for the Advancement of Liberal Colored People," says this:
President Bush skipping this week's annual NAALCP convention for the fifth straight year, but that's not preventing the White House and the Republican Party from waging a drive to woo African-American voters. Ken Mehlman of the RNC is going to the NAALCP convention, and he is basically going to tell them how the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln lost its way with African-American voters over the years and how determined the party is to get them back. He said, "We can't call ourselves a true majority unless we reach out to African-Americans and make it the party of Lincoln. There was a time when African-American support turned Democrat, and we didn't do enough to retain it. Now we want to build on the gains we made in the last election."

Know what he's going to do? He's going to go down there and basically apologize for what has come to be known as the Southern Strategy, popularized in the Nixon administration. He's going to go down there and apologize for it. In the midst of all of this, in the midst of all that's going on, once again, Republicans are going to go bend over and grab the ankles.

They're going to the NAALCP. This is like going into Hyannisport and apologizing to [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-MA] for whatever and expecting him to become a supporter. It's like showing up at the [Sen.] Chuck Schumer [D-NY]-Joe Wilson press conference in 20 minutes and saying, "Okay, Ambassador Wilson, we apologize. We hope you'll support us. We can't become a majority party until people like you are voting for us." It is just - it's absolutely absurd.
No apologies to the uppity darkies? Guess not. And perhaps one can conclude something from his anal rape imagery, but why belabor the obvious?

Limbaugh must understand his party just wants to get more votes. He's more interested in purity. And he knows Mehlman didn't get the interoffice memo - see this in these pages from June 19: 'Never apologize, son. It's a sign of weakness.'

Boston - Center of Evil

Perhaps you noted this item in the news:
Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, refused yesterday to back off on his earlier statements connecting Boston's "liberalism" with the Roman Catholic Church pedophile scandal, saying that the city's "sexual license" and "sexual freedom" nurtured an environment where sexual abuse would occur.

"The basic liberal attitude in that area ... has an impact on people's behavior," Santorum said in an interview yesterday at the Capitol.

"If you have a world view that I'm describing [about Boston] ... that affirms alternative views of sexuality, that can lead to a lot of people taking it the wrong way," Santorum said.
A groups that calls itself the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests shoots back
Abusive clergy and complicit bishops are liberal and conservative. The crimes they commit have nothing to do with political philosophy. It is reckless and dangerous to misdiagnose the causes of this horrific crisis by trying to blame any group of individuals, especially using false assumptions and self-serving ideological blinders. This is a deeply-rooted, long-standing, cultural and structural problem within the church and affects Catholics across the globe. To suggest anything less is deceptive or ignorant.

It is very hurtful when a politician tries to minimize the extent of the clergy sex abuse scandal. It is also very hurtful when a politician implies that some vague, larger societal defects somehow caused priests, nuns and bishops to assault innocent children and vulnerable adults, and then to work hard at keeping the crimes hidden.
Senator Kennedy from Massachusetts adds this:
Rick Santorum owes an immediate apology to the tragic, long-suffering victims of sexual abuse and their families in Boston, in Massachusetts, in Pennsylvania and around this country. His outrageous and offensive comments - which he had the indecency to repeat yesterday - blamed the people of Boston for the depraved behavior of sick individuals who stole the innocence of children in the most horrible way imaginable.

Senator Santorum has shown a deep and callous insensitivity to the victims and their suffering in an apparent attempt to score political points with some of the most extreme members of the fringe right wing of his Party. Boston bashing might be in vogue with some Republicans, but Rick Santorum's statements are beyond the pale.
Yeah, so they are, but what is one to make of this? Rick Santorum's Communications Director confirms to PageOne he is gay, stands behind Senator - and the guy is black too.

Santorum is far behind in the polls. He may not be reelected. The natives are restless and he really is a little creepy:
He and his wife, Karen, have seven children - including, as Santorum puts it, "the one in Heaven." Their fourth baby, Gabriel Michael, died in 1996, two hours after an emergency delivery in Karen Santorum's 20th week of pregnancy. The couple took Gabriel's body home to let their three other young children see and hold the baby before burying him, according to Karen Santorum's book of the ordeal, "Letters to Gabriel."
Passing around the baby's corpse to his other children? Bet they don't to THAT in Boston.

Santorum is from Penn Hills, just north of Pittsburgh, just a few miles from where I grew up (Penn Hills was one of our big rivals in football). I left the area forty years ago when I left for college. The big high school reunion is coming up. I think I'll stay here in Hollywood, where things are normal.

Posted by Alan at 19:07 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 15 July 2005 19:18 PDT home

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