Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wild About Harry

"Culture of corruption!" Nothing puts the crimp in a good partisan sound-bite like a healthy dose of hypocrisy. A lengthy Feb. 10 Associated Press piece details dealings between Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and convicted felon Jack Abramoff that look an awful lot (okay, exactly like) the quid pro quo stinking up the GOP:

- Reid sent official letters favorable to Abramoff clients and took pro-Abramoff positions on legislation at around the same time Abramoff directed those clients to make donations to Reid's political organization.

- Abramoff's firm hired a top Reid aide as a lobbyist. The aide later helped throw a fundraiser for Reid at Abramoff's firm that raised money from several of Abramoff's lobbying partners.

Also, there's this little item:

Although Abramoff never donated personally to Reid, the lobbyist did instruct one tribe, the Louisiana Coushattas, to send $5,000 to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, in 2002. Reid was Democratic whip at the time.

Abramoff sent a list to the tribe titled "Coushatta Requests" recommending donations to campaigns or groups for 50 lawmakers. Alongside Reid's name, Abramoff wrote, "5,000 (Searchlight Leadership Fund) Senate Majority Whip."

About the same time, Reid sent a letter to the Interior Department helpful to the tribe, records show. His March 5, 2002, letter pressed the agency to reject a casino proposed by a potential rival to the Coushattas, the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) also signed the letter.

Reid also officially opposed new tribal casinos in California and Michigan, where Abramoff had tribal clients with casinos.

Reid and Ensign recently wrote the Senate Ethics Committee to say their letter had nothing to do with Abramoff or the donation and instead reflected their interest in protecting Las Vegas's gambling establishments.

"As senators for the state with the largest nontribal gaming industry in the nation, we have long opposed the growth of off-reservation tribal gaming throughout the United States," Ensign and Reid wrote. Reid authored the law legalizing casinos on reservations, and he has long argued it does not allow tribal gambling off reservations.

Abramoff's group had earlier contacts with Reid's office over the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory and one of Abramoff's highest paying clients. In 2001, records show, Abramoff's lobbying partners billed for nearly two dozen phone contacts or meetings with Reid's office, mostly to discuss Democratic legislation that would have gradually applied the U.S. minimum wage to the islands. Republicans wanted to keep the islands exempt.
Reid, along with his Senate counsel, Jim Ryan, met with Abramoff deputy Ronald Platt on June 5, 2001, "to discuss timing on minimum wage bill," according to a bill that Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's firm, sent the Marianas. Three weeks before the meeting, Greenberg Traurig's political action committee donated $1,000 to Reid's Senate reelection committee. Three weeks after the meeting, Platt himself donated $1,000 to Reid.
Manley said Reid's official calendar does not list a meeting on June 5, 2001, with Platt, but he also said he could not say for sure the contact did not occur. Manley confirmed Platt had regular contacts with Reid's office, calling them part of the "routine checking in" by lobbyists who work Capitol Hill.

As for the timing of donations, Manley said, "There is no connection. This is just a typical part of lawful fundraising."

In other news, Reid also denied having sex with "that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

The minority leader, of course, has been among those howling loudest for President Bush to come clean on what congressional Democrats simply presume to be personal ties between the president and Abramoff. In a letter delivered to Bush before the State of the Union address, Reid joined noted centrists Charles Schumer and Debbie Stabenow in demanding to know

"....about Abramoff’s role in the “K Street Project,” the initiative launched by Republicans in the 1990’s to link lobbyists to Republican officials in Congress and the executive branch. What role did your Administration play in the K Street Project, and did White House officials have direct contact with Abramoff in this regard? In the upcoming State of the Union address, you will presumably call for reforms to address lobbying abuses.

"But such rhetoric will ring hollow until you reveal the ways in which Jack Abramoff himself may have improperly influenced your Administration over the past five years. As the leader of your party, you have the opportunity to set an example and call for openness and accountability from your fellow Republicans. The American people need to be assured that the White House is not for sale.
" (HT: Talkleft.com)

Makes us wonder whether Reid's internal hypocrisy meter was screeching like a Geiger Counter when he signed the letter.

Interesting that details on Reid/Abramoff ties -- rather than, say, more dirt on more Republicans...Bob Ney, for example -- are emerging as Abramoff's cooperation with federal prosecutors hits full stride. If one were inclined to believe in karma (we aren't, but let's just say....), one might call the Reid development a kind of cosmic comeuppance: In 1996-97, Democrats spun Chinagate, a completely Democratic influence-peddling scandal, into a bipartisan referendum on campaign finance reform. (They couldn't very well twist it into a bipartisan scandal given the inconvenient fact that only Democrats, and no Republicans, had sold favors and influence to Communist Chinese agents.) Now it appears what Democrats spun as a completely Republican influence-peddling scandal may net Democrats, too -- from the top down.

- VINCENT

A Brief Bulletin

We interrupt this blog for a desperate act of shameless self-promotion:

CPAC is a great place to meet conservative people, which was why I was there promoting DONKEY CONS. In the modern marketplace for books -- especially conservative books -- there is no substitute for personal effort by the author. As a newspaper guy, over the years I’ve sometimes been a little put off by authors aggressively promoting their books. (Not naming names, since some of my best friends are authors.)

Now that we’ve got a book coming out -- which you can ORDER NOW ON AMAZON! -- I understand why authors and their publicists are so aggressive. Advertising doesn’t sell books. Even if NelsonCurrent devoted one meeel-lion dollars to advertise DONKEY CONS (did I mention it was available on Amazon for 34% off list price?), it would not have nearly the impact as will talk radio, personal appearances and other efforts by a couple of authors who are completely shameless self-promoters. You know: The kind of people who will put up a blog devoted exclusively to reminding people that you can now buy DONKEY CONS at Amazon.com for the low, low price of only $16.49.

Of course, it helps if you’ve got an exciting book about a timely topic, like we do. But even then, you gotta pimp the book. Excuse the language, but that’s the phrase that was on my mind at CPAC: I was pimping the book. Or pimping myself. At any rate, I was talking to anyone who would listen about the joys and wonders of DONKEY CONS, which is now available at Amazon.com for just $16.49 (fishnet stockings and stlletto heels not included). Our D.C. publicist tells me I’ve got to wait until the book is actually in stores before I start turning tricks with talk-radio hosts, but in the meantime, that’s me leaning on the lamppost with the leather bustier and the come-hither look, OK?

Being an extrovert helps when you’re in book-pimping mode, as does sheer desperation. Let’s do our Five-Point Author Desperation Checklist:

1. First-time author? Check.
2. Not exactly a household name? Check.
3. Got the proverbial “face for radio”? Check.
4. Promotion/travel time limited by the obligations of a full-time job? Check.
5. Co-authorship means you only get half the royalties? Check.

So I was glad-handing every CPAC-er in sight, handing out business cards and chapter samplers (a 24-page pamphlet with the prologue and Chapter 1 of the book) and collecting business cards in return. “Yeah, I’ll send you an e-mail as soon as I get home. We’ve got to get together and have lunch sometime, man.”

Then, I get home -- and I can’t find half the stack of business cards I so assiduously collected!

Which means it’s time to amend our Five-Point Author Desperation Checklist:

5(b). Hopelessly disorganized slob? Check.

Did I mention that you can buy DONKEY CONS now at Amazon.com for 34% off the cover price? Now only $16.49! Did I tell you that Amazon.com is now estimating a delivery date as early as March 1-6? And how do you think I look in these fishnet stockings, sweetheart?

-- McCAIN

CPAC Report, Part II (Coulter)

OK, let's start with this: I love Ann Coulter. Every Wednesday evening, I log onto WorldNetDaily to see her columns, for three basic reasons: (a) she's smart, (b) she's original, and (c) most of all, she's FUNNY.

Part (c) is the key thing and Ann, in my mind, is just like Rush Limbaugh in this respect: She understands that the communications business is about entertainment, and nothing is so entertaining as humor. (Except maybe sex and, well, to have a "Caddyshack" moment here, she's got that going for her, too.) I've occasionally tried to write humor, and it's very difficult. To get three or four good laughs out of a 700-word column is a rare thing. Even Dave Barry rarely gets more than five or six solid laughs into a single column. And except for the brilliant Mark Steyn, Ann is just about the only conservative columnist who consistently meets or exceeds the 3-laughs-per-column standard. There are lots of great conservative columnists -- Thomas Sowell, Michelle Malkin, Robert Novak, Don Lambro, etc. -- but great funny conservative columnists are a precious commodity, though not nearly as rare as funny liberal columnists, who seem to be a dying breed. (Not that liberals aren't funny, but that's usually by accident.)




PHOTO BY SAVE THE GOP
(Hope you don't mind I stole your photo rather than borrow your bandwidth)

My dear wife doesn't like Ann Coulter. Maybe it's the blonde thing. My wife is a brunette, and perhaps other brunette ladies can explain why your default setting toward blondes is "hate." (Or am I the only one who's noticed this?) Also, my wife, a good Reagan-loving Ohio Republican girl, thinks people should be nice. Don't know if you've noticed, but sometimes Ann isn't exactly "nice." She's got a very sarcastic sense of humor (gee, I don't know anybody else like that), and that rubs people the wrong way sometimes.

Ann's public and private personae, however, are quite different. It happens that Monique, the young lady who introduced Ann at CPAC Friday, is a friend of mine. And it was Monique's job to shepherd Ann around CPAC for about 3 hours. Monique reports that Ann is very easygoing and gracious. Because of stalkers, etc., Ann always travels with bodyguards whose job it is to fend off the well-meaning people who want to talk to Ann. However, Monique told me Friday night, that if it were up to Ann, she'd spend all her time talking to the nice strangers she meets. Ann's "handlers" are always having to interrupt her conversations: "Uh, Ann, we're running late, we need to go now."

Like all other classy people, in other words, Ann is very nice to "the little people" she deals with. People who knew Ronald Reagan will tell you the exact same thing about him: Reagan was very down-to-earth and got along well with ordinary folks. You can contrast this to lots of Washington big shots (a couple of senators' names come to mind here) who are arrogant, high-handed, and are notorious for screaming at their staffers and subordinates. So before we get started on Ann's remarks Friday at CPAC, I wanted to establish this important point: The private Ann is, I am told by people whose opinions I trust, a kind and gracious person.

THE NOTORIOUS REMARKS

The Regency Ballroom at the Omni Shoreham was absolutely jam-packed for Ann's speech Friday. Especially all the college Republicans were eager to see Coulter, a one-woman wrecking crew against campus liberalism, touring colleges for speeches that routinely make headlines. To young Republicans -- and some who are not so young -- she's like Elvis (without the rhinestone-encrusted jumpsuits). A conservative superstar.

Having an audience of devoted true believers, however, has its drawbacks. During the first part of her speech, there were occasional bursts of applause, but little laughter. Why? Because most of the first 5 minutes consisted mainly of things Ann had written in recent columns, so the punchlines didn't have quite as much "kick" with a crowd for whom Coulter's columns are a weekly ritual.

Then Ann started in on the issue of the Danish cartoons. On Blogger Row at CPAC, Matthew Vadum had his tape recorder rolling and provides a transcription of how Coulter began riffing on the idea that, because of the terms of the NATO treaty and the Syrian regime's support for mob attacks on the Danish embassy, all our European "allies" were now solemnly obligated to join the U.S. in a war against Syria:

By the terms of the NATO treaty we have an obligation along with most of European nations to attack Syria right now. Or is NATO, like conventions of civilized society, inapplicable when Muslims are involved? They complain about unilateral action. Well, according to the terms of the NATO treaty, written by Dean Acheson and a bunch of Democrats, Spain, France, Germany, Greece, they all have an obligation to attack Syria right now.

From there -- again, major hat tip to Vadum -- Coulter segued to the question of whether Iran has nuclear weapons:


“Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but they’re certainly acting like they do. What if they start having [several words unintelligible at this point on the recording] bipolar episodes with nuclear weapons? If you don’t want to get shot by the police, don’t point a gun at them. Or, or as I think our motto should be post-9/11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.' "
Ouch.

THE REACTION

OMG! I was taking notes -- on a lime-green pad my wife had been thoughtful enough to bring along -- and when I heard Ann say "raghead," I carefully wrote down that sentence. (My note-taking skills suck, so the fact that I wrote down the whole sentence says something.) The audience response was rather muted, as I recall, because everybody had the same reaction I did: Did she just say ''raghead"?

Dang. The C-SPAN cameras were rolling, the national media were in attendance, and Ann Coulter just said "raghead." Not good. Not enough to sustain a "banish her from the movement" crusade perhaps, but still not good.

On the one hand, my reaction was, "Well, that's just Ann being Ann." Her provocative "what's she gonna say next" style is a big factor in Coulter's popularity. It's a tightrope act, and one reason that the Regency Ballroom was so jam-packed was in anticipation that she might say something truly shocking.

But an outright ethnic slur? I am by no means politically correct, and get tired of nicey-nice Republicans who display an anemic "oh, Ann's too mean-spirited" attitude. But to use "raghead" is at the very least an unfortunate word choice. If she had said, "Jihadi talks tough, jihadi faces consequences," or "Islamofascist" some other word, OK. "Raghead" -- ouch.

And everybody I talked to at CPAC felt that way, or worse. Not all college Republicans are stout-hearted souls. On an elevator later Friday, the topic of Ann's speech came up and some GOP coed said, "Oh, she said something really racist."

I don't know that using "raghead" to refer to the vicious mullah-ocracy of Iran is "racist." My definition of "racism" would be a generalized malice toward an entire group -- the way Iranian leaders talk about Jews, for example. I suppose Ann intended to convey her low opinion of the regime in Tehran by using an insulting slur, but this does not necessarily equal "racism." But half-educated college Republicans often use the word "racist" in the degraded postmodern definition ("A person I don't like"), a rhetorical shortcut favored by the vocabulary-impaired.

Over-the-top bombast is Ann's stock in trade -- a signature move as unmistakable as her hair-flip. Later in the same speech, for instance, she referred to moderate/liberal Republicans (e.g., Lincoln Chafee) as vermin in need of "pest control," who must be eradicated. But during the Q&A session, Coulter fielded two questions by those who objected to her "raghead" remarks. The first question was from a young Muslim Republican (more about him later) who said -- and I'm paraphrasing very liberally -- "Don't you realize how a comment like that hurts our outreach efforts?" To which Ann responded (this is pretty close to a direct quote): "I make a couple of jokes about Muslims. They killed 3,000 Americans. I guess we're even."

This is a "sticks-and-stones" understanding of the controversy. Yes, Coulter and others have said or written things (or drawn cartoons) that offend Muslims. It is rude to offend people with insults, "racist" or otherwise. I know I didn't like it when (for example) Atrios posted side-by-side photos of President Bush and the retarded banjo-picking kid from "Deliverance." As a Southerner, just about any reference to "Deliverance" offends me. I'm not an inbred hillbilly (not that there's anything wrong with that), and find it remarkable that Yankees who so piously look down their noses at rednecks for our "racism" nevertheless don't hesitate to resort to hateful stereotypes when it suits their purposes.

But ... you don't see any hillbillies fire-bombing Blockbuster stores that stock DVDs of "Deliverance." The producers of "My Cousin Vinnie" (a film chock-full of "stupid redneck" jokes) aren't in hiding because of death threats from the Redneck Jihad Army. So the "racism" of Coulter's remarks, it seems to me, must be weighed against the long history of anti-western and anti-Jewish violence by the terrorists, the "Arab street," and Islamic theocrats. Words-vs.-violence, see? That's a distinction most college Republican should be smart enough to figure out.

The second question Ann got about that remark was from a smart-aleck who said (paraphrasing), "So, when are you going to start working Jews and blacks into your little shtick?" In other words, when would Coulter begin using slurs against other groups? Her reply was priceless: "I guess when they start flying jets into our skyscrapers." And then she pointed out that, while her first questioner was Muslim and perhaps justified in feeling offended, the second questioner was just another run-of-the-mill white guy.

WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW

One of the things that surprises me is that people who love Ann Coulter and people who hate Ann Coulter are usually equally ignorant of what happened to her on September 11. It happens that I am acquainted with Richard Poe, and in his book, Hillary's Secret War, Richard tells that story. He recounted it in an interview with Jamie Glazov of FrontPageMagazine:

On the day of the attack, my wife Marie got a call from our friend Ann Coulter. She was stranded in a bar in Queens, and her cell phone was dying. Manhattan was locked down. The bridges were closed and Ann couldn’t get home. So we got in the car and picked her up.
Ann had a column due that night, so we set her up in our library with her laptop. We were all there together when we got the news of Barbara Olson’s death. Tragically, Mrs. Olson had gone down with American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon.
Barbara Olson was a personal friend of Ann’s. The loss hit her very hard. That night, Ann sat in my library, with F-16 jet fighters screaming overhead every few minutes, and wrote her eulogy to her lost friend. It concluded with what would soon become Ann’s most famous and controversial one-liner: We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

In case you don't get the point:

TERRORISTS KILLED HER FRIEND
... FOR THE GLORY OF ALLAH.

In Washington, you meet a lot of people who knew Barbara Olson, and I've never heard anyone who knew her say anything but nice things about Mrs. Olson (whose husband was named solicitor general by President Bush). Don't you suppose that if you were friends with a nice woman who had been aboard one of the jets hijacked by Mohammed Atta & Co., this might make you somewhat less than favorably disposed toward the Religion of Peace(TM)?

I am reminded here of David Horowitz and the Black Panthers: They killed his friend Betty Van Patter, and he can never forget or forgive.

American is in a war, and has been since September 11, 2001. At least in their own minds, America's terrorist enemies are waging a holy war against infidels. The terrorists and their sympathizers hate all of us (liberal and conservative, blonde and non-blonde) because we are Americans and because we are Israel's ally. This hatred cannot be wished away. It cannot be satisfied by appeasement or compromise. And this hatred is part of (again, in their minds) a religious war.

It is a fact that not all Muslims hate us. There are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world, and the terrorists among them are a tiny percentage (given all the zeros in 1,000,000,000, maybe only a fraction of 1%). So it is in some sense unfair to blame all Muslims for the crimes of a relative handful.

Yet it is also a fact that there was only one Barbara Olson in the world, and she was killed along with nearly 3,000 other innocents by a bunch of Muslim hijackers who believed themselves to be acting out the will of the Prophet. As much as I regret that Ann used an ugly word in referring to the leaders of Iran -- and perhaps she regrets it, too -- is she beyond empathy?

NEXT: My new buddy, the Muslim Republican from North Carolina.

-- McCAIN

UPDATE: No shortage of blondenfreude among some Republicans over Ann's "raghead" remark, as for instance, see here. I'm thinking this is more than just politics. It's kind of like how some Beatles fans aren't satisfied with loving John, but feel this love necessarily requires them to hate Paul.

CPAC Report, Part I

11 a.m. SAT. 2-11-06

Just got back from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the beautiful Omni Shoreham Hotel in DC. Had to leave a day early: My wife’s boss’s father died, so she had to go to work, and we have a 5-year-old who’s sick, so … Sorry I had to miss the Michelle Malkin luncheon but, hey, family values, right?

I was there to promote DONKEY CONS, of course, handing out chapter samplers and business cards and generally making a nuisance.

Got to meet a lot of folks -- Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, Star Parker, Mark Krikorian, Elaine Donnelly, Paul Mulshine, Joel Mowbray and … dang! About half the business cards I collected during three days at CPAC have gone missing. Family values.

Among other events, I attended Thursday’s dinner with Vice President Dick Cheney and Friday’s dinner with John “I Am The Walrus” Bolton, plus a couple of private receptions. The weird thing is I didn’t have tickets for any of those events. Twice I was given tickets by people I’d just met, and twice I got in by knowing the “Open Sesame” of CPAC: “I’m with Ian.”

There will be more to come, including an inside report about Ann Coulter’s controversial remarks, so check back regularly in the next 24 hours.

-- McCAIN

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wiretap skulduggery

Blogs bristled yesterday with the news that (mercifully) former President Jimmy Carter had yapped indecorously at Coretta Scott King's about the injustice of "secret government wiretapping" of Mrs. King's husband, MLK -- a necrological non sequitur that leads us to believe Jimmy would serve his party better if he had his larynx removed. It has been noted, of course, that the wiretapping of Dr. King was a Democratic affair, but not that it was a Democratic "affair" -- namely the affair between President John F. Kennedy and Judith Campbell Exner -- that enabled J. Edgar Hoover to coerce the two sane Kennedy brothers (John and Robert) into allowing him to eavesdrop on the civil rights leader.

Here's an excerpt on the topic from our forthcoming book, Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime and Corruption in the Democratic Party (Nelson Current April 2006):

Scripps-Howard journalist Dan Thomasson, his partner Dan Wyngaard, and later New York Times columnist William Safire would be among the first to dig into the Exner-Kennedy link, particularly with respect to mobster Sam Giancana. It was a brief footnote in the 1974 Church Committee Report on intelligence activities that sparked the reporters’ interest. The notation summarized Kennedy’s links to the mob, making several references to a “friend of the president” who acted as a courier between the two.

The “friend” was Judith Exner. While a senator on the presidential campaign trail, Kennedy met the Elizabeth Taylor look-alike through his friend, Frank Sinatra. Kennedy, either horny or smitten, pursued Exner enthusiastically. The two launched a passionate affair that Kennedy, once elected, managed to work in between hookers and noonday trysts in the White House pool with a pair of healthy young secretaries known as “Fiddle” and “Faddle."

Sinatra also introduced Exner to Mafia don Sam Giancana, who, as we’ve shown, was already a good friend to the Kennedy clan. One evening, according to several accounts, Kennedy showed Exner a large satchel containing about $250,000 in hundred-dollar bills and asked her to take it to Giancana. Exner said she would—then continued to carry money and messages between the mobster and the president. The affair ended in 1962 after Hoover, a Kennedy antagonist, confronted him with a top secret agency memo depicting a politically lethal triangle: a president, his lover, and the mob.

“Hoover got pretty much what he wanted after that,” Dan Thomasson wrote after Exner’s death in 1999, “including authorization to eavesdrop on Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he claimed had communist connections.”

It has been popular among historians to allow that, well yes, John Kennedy was a Massachusetts horndog, but well gee, all those affairs he had didn't really affect him as president, and well, who wouldn't want to boff Marilyn Monroe? The fact is, though, that Kennedy's affair with Exner forced him to sell out Martin Luther King, Jr., an American hero.

And in addition to Dr. King, there was another tragic figure in all this: Robert Kennedy. As JFK's attorney general, Bobby had to authorize the eavesdropping order Hoover had coerced from his brother, an order that must have seared Bobby's conscience since he had fought passionately for black civil rights, while JFK was merely sympathetic.

-- VINCENT

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kool-Aid wearing off?

Seems the New York Times has stopped hallucinating under the influence of its own echo-chamber propaganda long enough to notice that the Democrats don't have any ideas.

(Hat tip to JPod at the Corner.)

NYPress staff quits over Danish cartoons

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin and the New York Observer: The editorial staff of the New York Press walked off the job because the publisher refused to run the Danish cartoons. And I 100% agree with Leather Penguin: "Mugger would have run 'em."

When Russ "Mugger" Smith was publisher and John Strausbaugh was editor, the New York Press was truly an alternative weekly -- a bastion of free-wheeling libertarianism (and occasional fringe deviationism both left and right) amid the boring heap of trendy pseudo-left urban tabloids.

The old NYPress ran some great writers like ... well, me, for instance.

When Mugger ran the show the basic principle seems to have been, "Let's run stuff that's fun to read," and I occasionally met that standard. The first thing I wrote for NYPress was a total rant about a little left-wing economics tract that, for some reason, caused me to blow a free-market gasket:

If these neo-Bolsheviks should ever gain any real influence in Washington, we're all doomed. ...
OK, so what are all these lefties whining about? [Robert] Reich describes it as "a two-decade-long trend toward widening inequality of wages" et cetera. This particular whine dates back to the Reagan administration, when the disgruntled losers who brought us LBJ's "The Great Society" commenced to complain about "the growing gap between the rich and the poor," for which they blamed Reagan personally. You got your girlfriend knocked up, dropped out of high school, and blew your disposable income on dope? Hey, no problem, you can blame it on the Gipper.

Getting paid to trash left-wingers -- does the free market get any better than that? And I collected another check for a rant inspired by an animal rights protest:

Stylistically, the protesters favored the familiar "alternative" look: white guys in dreadlocks, army fatigues and grimy t-shirts; chicks in tank tops and ripped, saggy jeans. Piercing seemed to be universal and unisex. One girl I talked to had both nostrils, one eyebrow and her tongue pierced.
And then there was the smell. I was reminded of George C. Wallace taunting hippie hecklers in the '60s, suggesting there was one four-letter word they ought to learn: S-O-A-P. I don't know if this neglect of personal hygiene was a political statement on the part of the animal rights activists or if maybe they had spent the previous few nights camping somewhere without access to showers, but they genuinely reeked. You could smell them from 50 feet away.
Of course, they weren't there to display their grooming or lack thereof. They were there to display their outrage, of which they had plenty.

I was just one part-time freak in the carnival sideshow that was the cool old NYPress. But then, when Signorile smeared me, the new management didn't even bother to pick up the phone or send an e-mail and ask, "Hey, dude, what's up with this?" (For the record, contrary to Signorile's assertion, I never posted anything at a site called "Reclaiming the South," which anyone with Google can easily discover is in fact operated by a white separatist named Dennis Wheeler. In 1996, I had debated Wheeler by e-mail -- arguing strongly against his separatist views -- and he then posted my e-mails on his site without my permission. I may not be politically correct, but I'm no hatemonger, and it made me furious that NYPress would print such a false smear without even the courtesy of a phone call to me.)

It's kind of weird that NYPress's current ownership is worried that the Danish cartoons would be offensive to Muslims. When they used to mail NYPress to my house, my wife would have to hide it from the kids because the back half of the tabloid is full of ads for gay bars, sex-toy shops and transvestite hookers.

So I'm sure devout Muslims, flipping through NYPress, browsing the "personals" (e.g., "SHM LOOKING FOR TOP MAN") would be absolutely horrified to come across those Danish cartoons, y'know?

I mean, for crying out loud, NYPress once employed Marty Beckerman! If that's not an offense to the prophet, I don't know what is ....

--McCAIN

UPDATE: Googling to see if I could find some of the other stuff I wrote for NYPress back when, I came across this little article about Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), and actually ... well, I got kind of a blessing from it. The old NY Press was probably the only alter-tab that ever would have run something like that. And I caught myself at some of my writerly habits, notably ostentatious alliteration: "sometimes so subtle," "exacting expectations" and this quadruple-lutz of a sibilant sentence, " It is an unfortunate fact of our secularized society that such excellent music is largely consigned to a gospel ghetto by the prejudice of pop programmers."

UPDATE AGAIN: I try never to miss a chance to ridicule the inanities of animal rights activists. Google just turned up a letter I wrote to NYPress (click here and scroll down to "Ape and Essence") in response to a couple of crackpots who'd written whiny letters complaining about my earlier article. One of these idiots, without evident irony, had dared to use the phrase "increasingly sophisticated" to describe (who else?) himself and his fellow crackpots. This riled me up enough to return fire: "Who the hell elected these clowns ... as representatives of the rights and interests of apes? Was there a chimpanzee primary or an orangutan caucus meeting, and they just neglected to send me a press release?" No one has ever accused animal rights kooks of having a sense of humor, though, and they got pretty steamed about that one. We went back and forth like this in the letter columns. While in a self-congratulatory mood, let me say that I think I fairly dismantled these "increasingly sophisticated" clowns (click here and scroll down to "To a Bloody Pulp"):
"[A]nimal-rights lawyer Steven Wise 'draws on the enormous body of scientific evidence...that attests to the impressive cognitive, linguistic and social abilities of the great apes.' Impressive to whom, Professor? Excuse my sarcasm, but as impressive as the abilities of great apes may seem in Hoboken, the rest of us are not so enthusiastic. The abilities of apes may be 'impressive' if compared to, say, a squirrel or a sparrow, but I dare say that apes come up short when compared to most human beings, even human beings in Hoboken. (Out, damn ad hominem!)"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Who wiretapped MLK?

During his interrogation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday, Sen. Patrick Leahy lectured the witness:

"Now, a couple generations of Americans are too young to know why we passed this [FISA] law. It was enacted after decades of abuses by the executive, including the wiretapping of Dr. Martin Luther King and other political opponents of early government officials, after some of the so-called White House "enemies" in the Nixon White House enemies list. And during that time, another president asserted he did what was legal because he was president and, being president, he could do whatever he wanted to do."

But ... MLK was assassinated in April 1968, and Nixon wasn't inaugurated until January 1969. So ... who wiretapped King?

King biographer David J. Garrow writes: "On October 10, 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy committed what is widely viewed as one of the most ignominious acts in modern American history: he authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to begin wiretapping the telephones of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr."

Danish declaration

Before declaring my Danishness, let me cite Hugh Hewitt's caveat:

Cartoonists seeking to offend need to be defended against violence, but they don't deserve praise and certainly not praise for their gift to the jihadists.

Yes, it's bad to insult another person's religion, whether you're Andres Serrano or Tony Kushner. And I wouldn't want any fatwas against me -- though if the mobs in the "Arab street" wanted to burn a bonfire of DONKEY CONS, that would be cool, so long as they bought them at Amazon. (A sale is a sale is a sale.)

On the other hand, I think the point the Danish cartoonists were trying to make is that, while multicultural Europeans are tiptoeing around sensitively trying not to offend Muslims, the Muslim world lately has not been demonstrating a lot of reciprocal sensitivity toward others.

Shall we peacefully tolerate violent intolerance? This would be a suicidal tolerance.

So anyway, last night my good friend Cinecon -- whom I'm begging for reciprocal linkage -- said to me:

"Do you know of any good Danish beers?"

To which I replied:

"I don't know of any bad Danish beers."

It's all good to me, so BUY DANISH. Michelle Malkin has the list.

Now, a long transition to my next Danish connection:

A few years ago, I did a series of "your tax dollars at work" stories about the crazy "AIDS prevention" programs funded by the CDC. A few of those articles:

Sex-Filled CDC Campaigns Get Heat From Congress
(Nov. 8, 2001)

Taxpayers funded 'obscene' CDC workshops, report says
(Nov. 16, 2001)

AIDS group's programs spur scrutiny by CDC
(Aug. 7, 2002)

CDC cuts funds to AIDS organization
(May 25, 2004)

The guy who helped make all that happen, the guy whose whistle-blowing reports sparked protests by House Republicans and investigations by Bush administration officials, was not a right-wing GOP operative. Nor were these taxpayer-funded scams exposed by a Fred Phelps-type bigot. No, indeed. The man whose courageous stance led to the end of federal funding for "Booty Call" workshops was ...

San Francisco AIDS activist Michael Petrelis.

And guess what? Mike's got a secret: He's DANISH!

Not that there's anything wrong with that ...

-- McCAIN

Blog wars (Atrios v. York)

David Horowitz has remarked that, when he was on the Left, conservatism appeared to him as an imposing monolith. But once he joined the Right, he quickly discovered an incredible range of opinions ... to put it politely. To put it less politely, conservatives sometimes resemble a pack of cannibals and, considering the constant backstabbing and infighting, it is amazing that the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy has accomplished so much.

One can witness the intense factionalism of the Right every day over at The Corner, National Review Online's blog, where K-Lo rides herd over such conflicting personalities as The Derb and JPod. What could bring together such diverse characters? A mutual loathing of the Left.

And who is more Left than our good friend Duncan "Atrios" Black? A few days ago, Atrios opined on what he sees as the nuclear jingoism of the Right vis-a-vis Iran:

Look, I just don't get this stuff. I don't want Iran to have nukes. I don't think that's a good thing for the world. I certainly didn't want Pakistan or India to have nukes. But is a nuclear Iran really a threat to us? Certainly an Iran-with-nukes could blow the hell out of a city or two, but an Iran that did such a thing would pretty much cease to exist. It isn't mutually assured destruction, it's you f*** with us a little bit and YOU NO LONGER LIVE B*****S!

First of all, let me point out: Assimilation works. Even though "Atrios" is a left-wing Limey immigrant, he has already learned to speak of the United States in first-person plural pronouns. He also seems to exhibit a characteristically American understanding of the Reaganeque "peace through superior firepower" strategy. He sounds almost like an Alabama good ol' boy. Who says the melting pot doesn't work anymore?

Secondly, it's a fair point: Pakistan and India both have nuclear weapons and haven't yet annihilated each other or anyone else. Heck, even France has the bomb, which is really scary. So let us admit that Atrios has presented a reasonable challenge to those who say that the mere possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran is a casus belli. Given the deterrent factor to which Atrios refers in his customary sarcastic manner, the question is, "Why is it so urgent to prevent the mullahs in Tehran from developing nuclear weapons?" I'm sure there are plenty of good answers to that question, but it's not an illegitimate question, per se.

But Corner-ite Byron York, taking notice of Atrios' framing of the question, responded with this post:

WHO CARES ABOUT A CITY OR TWO? [Byron York]
Nuanced foreign policy analysis from the popular left-wing blogger
Atrios, who doubles as a key player at David Brock's Media Matters for America watchdog site ...

Now, Byron is a genius and, as Atrios noted, has some of the best hair in punditry. But it is unfair to interpret Atrios' post as expressing an indifference to the annihilation of "a city or two" by a nuclear-armed Iran. And Atrios understandably cried foul:

I of course never even implied the notion "who cares about a city or two?" The point is that the deterrence that kept a few thousand ICBMs coming our way from the Soviet Union should also work with smaller state nuclear powers, with the added benefit that "mutually assured destruction" simply becomes "assured destruction" - theirs, not ours. ...

I'm quite against nuclear proliferation in all of its forms and it would've been nice if we had been taking it more seriously. But thinking that Iran shouldn't have nukes is not the same as imagining that Iran with nukes is the "greatest threat to the Republic" that we face. I just have no idea how that computes.

Meanwhile, back at the Corner, Mr. York then returned fire with this retort:

Now, one initial reaction to Atrios's "city or two" remark is to conclude that neither he, nor anyone who agrees with him, should be taken seriously. But that, as they say, would be wrong. His website is quite popular on the left, he is a key figure in the watchdog organization Media Matters for America, and he is an increasingly influential voice among "netroots" activists. On the night of the State of the Union address, for example, he took part in a discussion in Washington sponsored by the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by former White House chief of staff John Podesta, which was broadcast on the Air America radio network. That is not to suggest that all the Center's supporters, or all the network's listeners, agree with him, but it does suggest that they view him as an important voice in their constituency.

Methinks Mr. York is hiding a keen sense of irony beneath his uber-pundit hair.

Yes, it is terribly unfair that, in his quest for a short-term rhetorical advantage, Mr. York would seize upon a few sentences that Atrios fired off on the spur of the moment, and interpret those sentences in the worst possible way: Suggesting that Atrios is utterly indifferent to the nuclear incineration of millions.

This is quite unfair indeed. (Almost as bad as saying that Derb doesn't care about drowned Egyptian ferry victims.) But then Mr. York doubles the injustice, employing what Laird Wilcox has described as the "links and ties" method to suggest that the disreputable sentiments he detects in Atrios' words are shared by Duncan Black's comrades at Media Matters, the Center for American Progress, and Air America.

Well, I can't say that I blame Atrios for feeling ill-treated by Mr. York. If anyone had ever treated me that way ... Oh, that's right: Atrios did!

Politics ain't beanbag. It's a full-contact sport played by consenting adults. But I think Mr. York, with his finely honed sense of irony, has demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction that there are some modes of political discourse which ought to inspire skeptical scrutiny.

Did I say "skeptical scrutiny"? How dare anyone be so cynical as to scrutinize my motives in trying to get into the middle of a blog war between two of the most popular sites on the Web! How dare anyone even think that I would do such a thing merely to sell copies of DONKEY CONS! Yes, it's true that this blog exists to promote sales of the book -- an exciting and carefully documented account of Democratic Party scandals that you can pre-order right now at Amazon -- but there is no need to impugn me as having violated the Blogosphere Code of Ethics. I am merely trying to put an end to what a great president once lamented as "the politics of personal destruction," the kind of dirty, low-blow partisanship ... that you'll find on every page of DONKEY CONS!

Blessed are the peacemakers, etc.

-- McCAIN

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rahm Emanuel & the Culture of Corruption

Rep. Rahm "Hired Truck" Emanuel has realized that, if you're going to run a campaign against corruption, it might help to tidy up your own backyard. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the boss of the House Democratic political operation who is making ethics a centerpiece issue in the November elections, last month quietly switched campaign treasurers -- from a federal lobbyist who has for a long time served in that role to someone else.
Emanuel's move comes as GOP leaders who control Congress are seriously considering a crackdown on ethics rules in the wake of an unfolding GOP scandal triggered by the conviction of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Kathleen Connery, Emanuel's government spokesman, said the treasurer, William Singer, a lawyer and a lobbyist, has been replaced. Asked why, Connery replied, "It's obvious.''
The obvious, I surmise, is this: Emanuel saw the need to get his own ethics house in order. Singer is a former Chicago alderman whose friendship with Emanuel predates his election to Congress. Singer is also a fund-raiser for Senate Democrats. ...
In Washington, Singer represents United Airlines, mainly on pension issues and Verizon on telecommunication legislation.

The irony of a Chicago Democrat, closely tied to the legendarily corrupt Daley machine, talking about "ethics" must have been lost on the people who chose Emanuel as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Lynn Sweet points out:

Back in May, Emanuel and Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) introduced a legislative package of much-needed ethics reforms. ... The Emanuel-Meehan news conference came two days after the U.S. attorney in Chicago announced a plea agreement with Gerald Wesolowski, a top lieutenant in City Hall's Water Department, part of the ongoing Hired Truck corruption scandal. The pleadings said that City Hall's political army was used to do field work on behalf of campaigns affiliated with Mayor Daley, Emanuel and several others. Emanuel said he knew nothing about City Hall pressuring workers to campaign for him.

Yeah, right, Rahm -- and Tom DeLay had no idea who paid for his golf trip to Scotland.

In case you're not from Chicago, there were four new suspects indicted just last week in the "hired truck" scandal, and one of the newly-indicted suspects was a Daley in-law.

The "hired truck" scandal gets its name from a Chicago city practice of out-sourcing its trucking business to contractors. Chicago being Chicago, this program was shot through with bribery and kickbacks and corrupt hiring practices. Among other things, city employees on the clock operated as a political "army" to get out the vote for Daley, Emanuel and other Democrats in Chicago.

Unless you're from Chicago, you've probably never heard of this massive Democratic scandal, complete with Mafia connections. While the national media have lavished attention on the Abramoff scandal, they've managed to ignore the fact that Rahm Emanuel -- the former Clinton aide who is now chairman of the campaign committee trying to recapture the House for Democrats in 2006 -- was elected to Congress with the aid of Daley's corrupt Chicago machine.

You go, Rahm! Let's talk about ethics!

-- McCAIN