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Lady Liberty

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Bada Bing!
posted by Bathus

In an earlier post, I gave you the lowdown on a charming fellow named Stephen Bing, the trust-fund-baby, mega-millionaire, lay-about who aspires to out-perform George Soros in the Dems' soft money orgy.

Well, as the Popeils like to say, "But wait! There's more!"

ABC News is now reporting that Bing has close and cozy ties to a Colombo mob family hitman, Dominic Montemarano (aka "Donnie Shacks"), whom law enforcement officials describe as Bing's "friend and business partner":
Fattest Cat
Officials: Democrats' Biggest Money Man Has Mob Connections
By Brian Ross

B O S T O N, July 28, 2004--As Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards arrived in Boston today for the Democratic National Convention, so did the California man who is their single biggest contributor.

He is Stephen Bing, a wealthy film producer who, with little fanfare, has managed to steer a total of more than $16 million of his money to Democratic candidates and the supposedly independent groups that support them.

"To most of the people who track money and politics, they're like, who the hell is Steve Bing?" said Chuck Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization.

Bing is perhaps best known for sparking a tabloid frenzy when he publicly expressed doubt that he was the father of actress Elizabeth Hurley's baby. (A paternity test proved he was indeed the father.) He repeatedly has refused to say why he is funneling millions of dollars to the Democrats.

. . . .

In fact, Democratic Party officials said they knew nothing about the man who law enforcement officials tell ABC News is Bing's friend and business partner, Dominic Montemarano, a New York Mafia figure currently in federal prison on racketeering charges.

Montemarano has a long criminal record and is known to organized crime investigators by his street name, Donnie Shacks.

"Donnie Shacks' main activity was murder. No question about it. That was his main function for the Colombo family and for organized crime in general. He was one of the top hit men in the New York area," said Joe Coffey, a former NYPD investigator.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Bing paid Montemarano's legal fees after his most recent scrape with the law. Montemerano's lawyer said his client was an employee of Bing's.

After a recent private lunch with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Edwards, Bing also declined to answer questions about his relationship with Montemarano.
Bing's mob connections make me wonder what he whispers in John Edwards' ear during their "private lunches."

Bing and Montemarano were such close chums that the mobster was given a staring role in one of Bing's movies, Night at the Golden Eagle, even though Montemarano doesn't seem to have had any prior acting experience. Maybe Bing owed him a "favor." (The film, like the rest of Bing's cinematic efforts, was a dismal failure.)

Around the same time Bing was trying to make Montemarano a star, Montemarano was relieving the stresses of his budding acting career by beating the holy crap out of his girlfriend. At the sentencing hearing, Bing was right there to offer the convicted mobster and wife-beater "moral support":
. . . .Colombo soldier Dominick (Donnie Shacks) Montemarano pulled out all the stops this week in a losing effort to avoid going to jail for beating up his girlfriend when she arrived home too late for her own good.

The courtroom was packed with relatives and friends, including film producer Steve Bing and the girlfriend Montemarano battered 17 months ago, but Superior Court Judge Arthur Jean ignored the show of support and focused on the events of October 3, 2001. "When you strip a woman of her clothes, throw her out of the house and kick her in front of her children, that is cruel and vicious," said Jean, who gave the aging and ailing gangster the maximum, four years.
A word of advice: Don't hold your breath waiting for the Dems to return the $16 million they've received from Stephen Bing.

posted by Bathus | 7/29/2004 01:20:00 PM
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

A Dialogue with Dave on Abortion, Religion, and the Sacred Mystery of the Smile a Baby Makes When It Farts
posted by Bathus

On Jen's "Fair-haired, but strangely unbalanced" blog, I ran across the following lines in a comment penned by DaveSplash:
I am pro-choice. While I find abortion to be a somewhat unsettling concept, and would not want my wife, girlfriend, daughter, or sister to have one, I don't think that the government can make that decision for everyone ((italics added). It is a very personal and difficult choice to make, and a woman's privacy should be respected. She should not be taunted, threatened, or harassed because she is not ready at that time to have a child.
DaveSplash's comment about abortion is perfectly unoriginal--the same mild-sounding blather you can elicit in ten seconds from "sensitive modern males" who know better than to offend the opinions of the liberated women they want to bed down with. (Definition of a sensitive modern male: "He drives you to the abortion clinic and is less than five minutes late to pick you up when it's over.") The only thing that makes DaveSplash's opinion interesting is how well it captures the conventional, ubiquitous, "moderate" pro-choice view. For that reason alone, it enticed the following reply from yours truly:
These days that view wears the veneer of enlightened moderation, yet in 1855, a similarly "enlightened" person would have written:

"I am pro-choice when it comes to slavery. While I find slavery to be a somewhat unsettling concept, and would not want my wife, girlfriend, daughter, or sister to own one, I don't think that the government can make that decision for everyone. It is a very personal and difficult choice to make, and a slaveowner's privacy should be respected. A slaveowner should not be taunted, threatened, or harassed because he is not ready at that time to give up his slaves."

The purpose of the above comparison is to point out that the easiest way to deny a class of people their rights, either to life or to liberty, is simply to ignore their humanity: The defenders of slavery claimed that "negroes" were not sufficiently human to be entitled to a right to freedom. Today, the defenders of abortion claim that a child in the womb (a "fetus") is not sufficiently human to be entitled to a right to life itself.

Beginning from the argument that "negroes" were not really human like the rest of us, slavery was further defended on the grounds that ending slavery would cause hardship to slaveowners. Beginning from the argument that a "fetus" is not really human like the rest of us, abortion is further defended on the grounds that ending abortion would cause hardship to pregnant women.

Beginning from the argument that "negroes" were not really human like the rest of us, slavery was further defended on grounds that "negroes" were not capable of taking care of themselves and would have miserable lives if they were allowed to be free. Beginning from the argument that a "fetus" is not really human like the rest of us, abortion is further defended on the grounds that a "fetus" is not capable of taking care of itself and would have a miserable life if it were allowed to be born.

Beginning from the argument that "negroes" were not really autonomous humans like the rest of us, but belonged to the slaveowner, slavery was further defended on grounds that the government should not be allowed to interfere with what people do with their own property (conveniently ignoring the fact that there were a multitude of other ways the government rightly interfered with what people did with their property). Beginning from the argument that a "fetus" is not really an autonomous human like the rest of us, but belongs to the mother as a part of her body, abortion is further defended on the grounds that the government should not be allowed to interfere with what a person does with his or her own body (conveniently ignoring the fact that there are a multitude of other ways the government rightly interferes with what people do with their bodies).

If "squishily" pro-choice people like DaveSplash had lived in 1855, their ever-so-moderate slogan would have been: "I wouldn't have a slave myself, but I would never interfere with someone else's right to have one."

It is astounding to me that anyone could say that abortion is a "somewhat unsettling concept." It seems me that, depending on your concept of human life, abortion either has to be thoroughly unsettling or not at all unsettling. Either you think a baby in the womb is like a hangnail or you think that it possess at least some spark of humanity. If you believe the former, then the "tissue" can be gotten rid of without the slightest qualm, and there's nothing to be unsettled about at all. But if you believe the latter, then the destruction of that spark of humanity must be terribly unsettling even if you eventually still come down on the pro-choice side. The middling position of being only somewhat unsettled about the destruction of innocent human life is occupied only by those who, feigning virtuous moderation, wish to ignore what's at stake.
DaveSplash's reply was predictably indignant:
Adeimantus -- apparently you are simply incapable of doing anything but bashing me. Well, no big deal. Your attempt to turn this discussion to something other than what it was actually about is a nice trick (you must be a lawyer). There is nothing at all inconsistent about being personally opposed to abortion, but thinking that others should be allowed to choose for themselves. That is called freedom.

I don't believe life begins at conception. In all honesty, I'm not certain when "life" technically begins. Unlike you, I can be honest about it. I just don't know. My opinion is no more right or wrong than yours. . . .

I won't go any further with this discussion because it will get too nasty and personal. Your opinions are clearly based on your religious beliefs (emphasis added). I respectfully disagree with them. I will not bash you in such a way. By saying it is "somewhat unsettling" I was referring to the trauma one must go through in finding out that you are pregnant, and having to make such a difficult decision. I do not, and cannot know, what that would be like. The best I, as a man, can figure is that it would be...somewhat unsettling.

So, go on thinking what you want to about me or my positions. But, you are incredibly disingenious to claim that if I came down harder on one side of the argument as you frame it, then I'd be ok.
In fairness to DaveSplash, I must disclose that I have not reproduced his comments in full because the remainder lacked any substance worth repeating and was, as DaveSplash later admitted, simply misdirected. (Here's the link to Dave's full comment, so you can judge for yourself.) But I felt I should try to cure DaveSplash of the common and condescending "liberal" fantasy that opinions opposing abortion are the result of religious brainwashing. And so I replied:
Dave, I am sorry you think I am "bashing" you. What's being bashed is not you but your ideas. I have no doubt that you are a very nice fellow. I just think you have some mistaken ideas.

Your assumption that my view of abortion is based on religious beliefs misses the mark. My religion is pretty much a mystery, even to me! If getting to heaven depends on belonging to a religion, then I'll meet you in hell.

Here's the extent of my "religious" beliefs.

1. I believe in a Supreme Being who created this existence, and therefore created you and me, either directly or indirectly. I am pretty confident of this first belief, based on what seem to me to be very rational arguments, but it still remains "only" a belief.

2. I have no idea how much, if any, role the Supreme Being plays directly in everyday events on this earth. But I do think the Supreme Being had a plan when he set this top spinning. Unfortunately, the workings of that plan are far beyond my comprehension. But I think I see little pieces of the plan everywhere I look, in the veins on a leaf and in the smile a baby makes when it farts.

3. I believe the Supreme Being is good and his plan is good. This belief is based not so much on theoretical arguments but more on my actual experience of the goodness of life itself. (Some days, I do have my doubts.)

4. I also believe, with less confidence, in the immortality of the human soul. I pray that I will get to see my mom again some day, but maybe I believe in the immortal soul because I am too weak to accept that she is gone from us for good.

5. I believe that we are morally obliged to do good things and to make beautiful things as much as we can and to learn as much as we can about life because the Supreme Being put in us such wonderful abilities to think, to love, and to create. I am not sure this is a religious belief, though it is informed by my belief that the life the Supreme Being gave me is good and beautiful, so I probably ought to try to spread the favor so far as I can.

Beyond that, for me religious things are a complete mystery. If you can extrapolate my views on abortion out of the five beliefs listed above, then go for it.

No, I am not so arrogant as to say I "know" when life begins. I never said I knew the answer to that question. But I do have some "beliefs" about it. Notice the difference between the word "know" and "believe."

I know the difference between "knowing" something and "believing" something. I know that when we lack knowledge, such as on the question of when life begins, then we should proceed with great caution, erring always on the side of life, especially when that life (if it is life) is the life most innocent, most vulnerable, and most unable to protect itself.

So if I believe there is a rational possibility that a fetus is a human life, then that belief, though it is only a belief, is in that instance as compelling as if I possessed divine knowledge itself.

On judgment day, (and here I use the words "judgment day" only metaphorically lest you think I am a religious kook), it will not be sufficient to say:

"I really didn't know for sure if those fetuses were living human beings or not. Since I wasn't positive about whether they were human beings or not, I figured it was acceptable if other people wanted to go ahead and kill off millions of them, just so long as I didn't dip my own hands into the blood. So keep in mind, I never killed any fetuses with my own hands. . . . Well, okay, maybe I did fight against the people who were trying to stop the slaughter. But I gotta tell you, I was 'somewhat troubled' about it the whole time."
I'll let you know if DaveSplash comes up with a reply, if it's worth sharing. (But don't feel sorry for DaveSplash that his views are being represented unfairly in a forum where he has no means to defend himself. He can post a comment below if he so wishes. And he has his own blog, aptly titled "that dave guy," where he can be as nasty to me as he likes.)

(Thanks, Jen, for hosting my dialogue with Dave.)

posted by Bathus | 7/28/2004 01:00:00 AM
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Monday, July 26, 2004

Al Gore Redux
posted by Bathus

NEWS FLASH: Al Gore will be speaking tonight at the Dem Convention.

Nobody seems to care . . . but the occasion provides all the excuse I need to move this lovely photo back up to the top of the blog.

Reports are that the Dems are under strict orders to tone down the Bush-bashing:
Democrats are scrambling to tamp down former Vice President Al Gore and firebrand Howard Dean before they step to the convention podium, worried they may embarrass John Kerry with red-meat anger and excessive Bush bashing.

The Democratic National Convention and Kerry campaign staffs are working feverishly to rewrite, polish and tone down speeches submitted in advance of today's convention opening bell.

. . . .

Attention - and fear - is mostly focused on Gore, who kicks off the convention with a primetime speech tonight but has rankled some party leaders with his recent conversion to throaty, vicious attacks on Bush.

Gore rankled Kerry when he endorsed then-front-running Dean early in the primary season. Gore, who remains bitter after losing the hotly contested, controversial 2000 presidential race, is one of Bush's harshest critics.

. . . .

For speakers, the memo went out - literally - weeks ago. Kerry convention organizer Jack Corrigan wrote speakers a three-page memo outlining the "clear message" Kerry wanted to send from the convention.

All drafts were submitted for review, changed and rewritten with the no-negative rules heavily enforced. Among the guidance offered: "Criticism of Bush is allowed, but only as a subtle or indirect dig when comparing Kerry's vision to Bush's record. Red meat won't be served at this convention."
How disappointing. I was so much looking forward to watching a Michael Moore-style hate-fest. What's the point of tuning in if nobody is going to compare Dubya to a chimp, or at least call him a shrub?

Yes, Kerry might be embarrassed by a "redmeat" convention, but not exactly for the reasons the Dem spinners suggest. The real reason for reining in Gore's recent penchant for over-the-top rhetoric is so that Kerry's vapidities won't seem all the more somnambulistic by comparison. The best way to prevent the country from noticing on day four that John Kerry talks and thinks like one of the undead is to bore their brains into lukewarm slush on days one, two, and three. Even Bill Clinton's speech will probably turn out to be nothing more than a slow, dull, self-indulgent stroll down mammary . . . I mean . . . memory lane.

So instead of a Michael Moore-style hate-fest, it looks like the Dem's will give us a John Kerry-style bore-fest. Either way, one of Al Gore's personalities could fit the bill.

[UPDATE] It looks like Gore got the memo. Tonight in Boston it was boring Gore, not fiery Gore. His heart didn't seem to be in it. (Gore used to be able to put his heart into being boring.) Nothing like his nutty, angry MoveOn performance a couple of months ago. When he tried to fake having sense of humor about Florida 2000, it came across maudlin.

Thank God for the electoral college.

posted by Bathus | 7/26/2004 12:04:00 PM
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Jonathan Alter - An Appreciation
posted by Tom

The Dear Abby of pro-Democrat media has another column advising KerryEdwards on how to defeat George Bush. In The Art of the Closing Argument, Jonathan Alter counsels the Kerry half of Newsweek's liberal Dream Team ("If you have no intellect, you must elect") to adopt trial lawyer Edwards' jury-manipulating rhetorical skills on the campaign trail and overcome the perception that his speeches are the equivalent of watching a moth fly around a bare light bulb.

Alter doesn't put it this way, of course. Heaven forefend he should insult Kerry and jeopardize any chance of fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a presidential press secretary (to one with the initials JFK no less). Instead, Alter engages in his usual brown nosing advisor-speak, explaining that even though Edwards' perpetual shit eating grin has rubbed off a little on Kerry, it's time that JFK II got down to the serious business of fooling the voting public with liberalspeak. According to Alter, the initial chemistry between Kerry and Edwards worked "a little too well, with jokes popping up about how much John and John touched each other in public. What John Kerry can learn from John Edwards is not just how to grin but how to talk - how to frame a message that penetrates."

Ignore the Freudian implications of Edwards teaching Kerry to "penetrate" after the past few weeks of groping each other in public. Alter's next observation is one of those "Maybe someday it will show up in Bartlett's" lines that he has a knack for coming up with. The only problem is, their success depends on a reader not thinking about them too much. If you're a Newsweek subscriber, he has nothing to worry about. If you're one of those dilettantes who follows the Drudge links to learn what the dimwits in the so-called mainstream press are trying to pass off as political commentary on any given day, he's in trouble.

"Language," Alter instructs us, "is the most underappreciated force in politics."

Now, not counting other Jonathan Alter columns, where else can you find anything that vapid?

First, are we to assume Alter has discovered after much thought that there are many underappreciated forces in politics, language being the most underappreciated? How many, and what are they? Knowing Jonathan Alter, he probably thinks money is an underappreciated force in politics. And media. And a hundred other commonplaces that every pseudo-intellectual columnist has examined to death. Rest assured, however, that after staying up late one night straining to open the perpetually stuck valve that controls the flow of his ideas, Alter will tap out a critique of the power and influence money and media exert on our political system, then subsequently discuss it with Brian Williams or one of the other dull tools in the MSNBC shed.

But not this week. This week Jonathan Alter has devoted every fiber of his being to a study of language, the most underappreciated force in politics. Notwithstanding the fact politicians (and birdbrained political columnists) ceaselessly employ rhetoric to persuade the electorate - words being the tools of the trade, as they say - and for the most part people react to the political messages, even if it is to throw up their hands and change the channel or flip to the sports pages, let's give Alter the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's not the pretentious bore he appears to be in his columns and on television.

Just what the hell does he mean that language as a force in politics is "underappreciated" at all, let alone to such an extreme that he feels compelled to lecture us on the subject?

I know what appreciate means:

Appreciate (verb): 1. Feel gratitude. 2. Value something or somebody highly. 3. Understand fully the importance or meaning of something. 4. Gain in value, especially over time.
If in Alterspeak language is an underappreciated force in politics, I have four possible interpretations to choose from:

1. I'm not grateful enough that language is a force in politics.
2. I undervalue language as a force in politics.
3. I have an insufficient understanding, indeed do not fully grasp the meaning or importance of, language as a force in politics.
4. Language as a force in politics has not increased in value over time and I therefore (based on Alter's recommendation) should not invest in it.
Despite the fact we're dealing with Jonathan Alter here, eliminate 1 and 4 as they make absolutely no sense in the context of this latest sheet of used toilet tissue he calls a column. Selections 2 and 3, I think, fulfill his intentions.

Note, however, that language as a force in politics is not totally unappreciated. Alter is telling us that while language's value and importance as a force in politics is grasped by the great unwashed, and presumably by politicians, they don't, you know, have a really tight grip on its value and importance. They appreciate it, sure; they just don't really appreciate it. Think of Willy Loman's comment to his sons Biff and Happy in Death Of A Salesman - written, apropos enough, by another liberal gas bag of Hindenburg proportions, Arthur Miller - that their friend Bernard is "liked, but not well liked."

At least Miller, for all his own knee-jerkism, has a sense of irony.

If you disagree with Alter - No, if you don't believe him when he says that language is the most underappreciated force in politics (and anyone outside Alter's immediate family who does at this point requires therapy), he instructs you to ask yourself: "Why does the rest of the world so dislike President Bush?"

Ignoring yet another of Alter's unproved - and unprovable - assumptions, that the entire world beyond the red states here in the US dislikes Bush, and indulging what I'll politely call his mental eccentricities, one might suggest to him it's because after eight years of Bill Clinton bombing camels in response to attacks on Americans, apologizing to some foreign nation or another for America's alleged sins, and using his position not to defend the interests of the country but to pick up chicks (which endeared him to the French), the "rest of the world" now has to contend with George W. Bush, a president who doesn't check the calendar to determine whether it is our enemies' "holy month" before retaliating against them, who in fact decides to retaliate against enemies not because he's about to be impeached, but because it's a strategic and moral necessity, and who is not in the habit of first asking for Camaroon's permission in the UN to defend the homeland.

But alas, no. According to Alter,

It's the cowboy language that Bush uses: "Axis of Evil." "Either you're with us, or you are with the terrorists." "Bring it on"... the words don't disappear in the ether, they bounce off satellites for years. For all the fuss over "Fahrenheit 9/11," the more farsighted recent documentary is "Control Room," which takes viewers behind the scenes of Al-Jazeera. The folks who work at the Arab network don't hate us for who we are, as one admits he'd even work for Fox News if he could. They hate us more specifically, our government for what we say. "With words, we govern," as Benjamin Disraeli put it.
First, you gotta love his observation that the rest of the world dislikes Bush's "cowboy" language, particularly when he phrases it as an answer to a rhetorical question asked by a high school instructor in Current Events class. Nobody ever drew a negative parallel between Texan Bush and cowboys until Professor Alter studied the issue.

I can't say that everyone underappreciates language as a force in politics, but I'll bet no one appreciates cliches as a force in hack writing more than Jonathan Alter.

But this is one of his more hilarious, and telling, pseudo-observations in another respect. Note the Disraeli quote in the context of world opinion vis a vis Bush's penchant for direct, forceful, and, yes, confrontational language aimed at those countries and groups out to annihilate the US. An American president is obligated to the rest of Alter's world. He is not only responsible for the United States and answerable to its electorate, but to the global community. World opinion is equally as important as the American electorate's interests, and those interests are valid so long as they are amenable to the rest of the world. Our decision in November should be made accordingly. President Bush, in Jonathan Alter's cockamamie universe, should think twice before saying something that might offend the folks who work at an Arab network, even if it is intended to reassure the American people that he will not coddle those hellbent on murdering them.

Bush's language, when you come right down it, reflects a strength that revolts pantywaists like Alter. They call it "arrogance" and thus blind themselves to the fact that what the rest of the world may like about KerryEdwards, particularly that part of the world eagerly anticipating another attack on American soil, is what makes them look so pathetic to Americans who aren't columnists. More importantly, though, Alter misses the fact the words Bush uses are backed up by action and it is the action that alienates the rest of the world. I doubt even an idiot like Alter would deny that had Bush uttered all of the same phrases and never dropped a bomb on Afghanistan or Iraq, or merely blown up a few tents in the grand martial tradition of his predecessor, the rest of the world (i.e., France and Germany since we're dealing with Alter, after all) wouldn't have blinked an eye. Even President Hummer did some verbal saber rattling against Saddam Hussein when he needed to divert attention from his perpetually open fly. The rest of the world still wore kneepads for him.

Funnier still in Alter's column is his concession that "Bush understands (language's) importance, and manages, with the help of his first-rate speechwriter, Mike Gerson, to speak in ways that have worked at home politically even as they alienate the world."

Come again? I thought language is the most underappreciated force in politics. According to Alter, though, Bush appreciates the force of language in politics and has used it effectively at home, which means his domestic audience appreciates the force of his language and has reacted positively to it. But his language has alienated the rest of the world, which obviously appreciates the force of it or else the population of, say, East Timor wouldn't have such a strong negative reaction to it.

I'm sure Jonathan Alter will forgive me if I ask him just who the freakin' hell is underappreciating language as a force in politics? It isn't Bush, it isn't Americans, and it isn't the rest of the world. Kerry and Edwards are the only two left. Actually, Kerry stands in the dark alone, since Alter has already established he should take lessons from Edwards.

If anyone among all the liberal columnists out there surpasses Alter in triteness, let me know.

Far be it from anyone with an IQ above that of the average Newsweek reader to point out to Alter the affirmation and reaffirmation of citizens' and politicians' deep appreciation of language as a force in politics throughout history. From Hitler's stirring rendition of "Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles!" to Clinton's lip quivering reassurance that "I feel your pain", citizens have been suckers for the political speak that knocks 'em dead - literally in the case of Germans and Hitler. Granted, pols like Hitler and Clinton hoodwink their audiences, but in falling for the BS, people reflect how much they appreciate language - i.e., value and understand its importance - as a force in politics in that they not only know what they want their candidates and office holders to say, but more importantly how the words should be said if they are to be won over. That the BS artists themselves appreciate language as a force that inspires the citizenry, for good or ill - or in the case of Clinton, lulls them into a state of mindless complacency for eight years - goes without saying.

Speaking of Clinton, who among the idiots that elected him twice - Alter is definitely included in that group - would claim that the Zipper telling them what they wanted to hear wasn't the overriding consideration in making their choice? He convinced them "It's the economy, stupid", he knew the price of a gallon of milk, he revealed the color of his underwear, and, in playing the saxophone on late night TV, used music, the universal language, to woo every liberal in the country, from soccer moms to hairy female undergraduates in literature to shit writers at news weeklies. They not only appreciated the "force" of his language in the sense of valuing it and understanding its importance to them, they also appreciated it in the sense of gratitude that at last a presidential candidate had stooped to their level of moronic self-absorption. And there isn't a liberal Democrat running for office that doesn't deeply appreciate language as a potent force in hypnotizing the Birkenstock crowd. They need only repeat ad nauseam the correct words and phrases -"diversity", "tolerance", "tax breaks for working families", "health care", "jobs", "education," "affirmative action", "gay rights" - in any order, irrespective of the issue under discussion or debate, and their followers cream their jeans.

Case in point: Alter advises Edwards

When pressed about trial lawyers, for instance, he explains with great conviction how he has fought "all my life" for poor and middle-class people against powerful corporate interests like HMOs and insurance companies. It works, and will boomerang on Dick Cheney in a debate if Cheney brings up the trial-lawyer business.
Get it? Edwards is to shut down any attempt, perceived as illegitimate by the loony left, on Cheney's part to make Edwards' millionaire trial lawyer past an issue so that it doesn't interfere with Edwards attacking Cheney's millionaire past with Haliburton, which is a legitimate issue. It's de classe to confront Edwards on the issue of trial lawyers amassing great fortunes from frivolous lawsuits, how as a group they have become a "powerful interest" opposed to any meaningful legal reform that will cut into their fees, how they negatively impact business and the lives of working people (when they bankrupt companies using junk science and stacking juries with lowlifes who dream of hitting the civil suit lottery themselves, who suffers?). Should anyone behave so tastelessly, Edwards need only use the language of Marxist class warfare favored by the Democrats' entitlement crowd to correct him. He need only remind the Democrats' flock "with great conviction" in his voice that they are victims of corporate bogeymen on whose behalf he has fought all his life. He's felt their pain, you could say. According to Alter, the electorate will buy it. And he's right, of course, but Alter advising KerryEdwards to engage in this cheap rhetoric when they are already doing it on an hourly basis reflects a brain stuck for something better to do with its time. As if these two bozos are contemplating dropping their strategy when they get to the debates and Alter is counseling them against it.

All that said, the crux of his article is this:

Bush is disliked by the rest of the world and those Americans (including Alter) who long for the days when the country reflected the guilt, weakness, and malaise of the post-Viet Nam, post-Watergate 1970s, because Bush is committed to putting America first, drawing clear lines between its allies and those who seek its demise, and taking the fight to its enemies rather than waiting for attacks that liberal Democrats (including Alter) consider our just comeuppance. For instance, had President Clinton been in office on 9-11, he no doubt would have apologized to al-Quaeda for Americans causing that fourth hijacked airliner to crash in Pennsylvania before reaching its intended target, and Jonathan Alter would have written a column praising his statesmanship. Alter concludes that Americans should vote for KerryEdwards, lawyers trained to obfuscate and kow-tow in an effort to win people over, because they will tell the rest of the world what it wants to hear, specifically that America is only as strong as the United Nations says it is.

The thought never crosses what passes for Alter's mind that Americans might prefer a blunt talker like Bush who emphasizes America's strength over smarmy attorneys whose melodramatic rhetoric appeals to the weak and resentful. But why should he consider what qualities Americans outside of Hollywood and liberal cocktail parties in DC and Manhattan seek in their president? Sure, Americans will be voting in November for the man who will lead their country, but every sophisticate with a college degree, particularly a JD, knows they must first check in with the citizens of France, Germany, Bangladesh, and the Canary Islands before making their decision.

One could make a career out of picking apart this DNC PR lackey's drivel. Alter need only say, "Those red state-Christian-rube Bush supporters simply don't appreciate the fact Bush's language makes America look arrogant and alienates the rest of the world. For this reason (and because I might get shortlisted as a President Kerry mouthpiece), I've made it my mission to get Kerry elected."

Everyone would be a lot happier, especially Alter himself. Because it must be stressful struggling week after week to make your pro-KerryEdwards-bumper sticker opinions look like serious political commentary. It must be even more stressful realizing that, even after all the time and effort, you've failed miserably.

"With words, we govern," Disraeli said.

Yes. And with words, Jonathan Alter comes across as a smacked ass.

posted by Tom | 7/21/2004 10:32:00 AM
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Monday, July 19, 2004

Kerry campaign resorts to heterophobic slur
posted by lostingotham

Mirroring the controversial and purportedly homophobic language of California Republican Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger (who called his opponents "girly-men"), Democrat Senator Max Cleland used a heterophobic slur in his criticism of President Bush today.  Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Cleland said Bush had taken the nation to war in Iraq because Bush wanted to “be Mr. Macho Man.” 

"Macho" is an adjective describing one who demonstrates "machismo," or an exaggerated sense of masculinity.  The term "macho man" was coined by the openly homosexual musicians, the Village People, in a song that parodies men who self-consciously adopt heterosexual mannerisms and styles.  "Girly-man," which was coined on the NBC television program Saturday Night Live, refers to men who appear to be homosexual.

Bush is a heterosexual.

We call upon Senator Kerry to denounce Cleland's use of such divisive and hurtful language and issue an immediate and unqualified apology.

posted by lostingotham | 7/19/2004 06:49:00 PM
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Saturday, July 17, 2004

I'll bet he invented the Internet, too.
posted by lostingotham

Does the AP even bother with fact checkers?  I'm beginning to doubt it.
In this story, the AP relates the claims of the "town historian" of Derry, New Hampshire, who has connected John Kerry to the old sod. 

Derry town historian Richard Holmes said he's traced Kerry's lineage to an Irish immigrant believed to have introduced the potato to America.

Numerous publications have stated over the years that Kerry is Irish-American, which could help in Massachusetts, the most Irish state in the nation. Kerry said he's always corrected the misstatements.


James McGregor led a group of settlers from to New Hampshire in the early 1700s in search of political, economic, cultural and religious freedom. In 1720, according to local history, McGregor also planted the first potatoes in North America.

Now I'm no whiz-bang professional journalist, but I spot two glaring errors in the paragraphs above:
First, as I learned in the third grade (public school--in rural Texas, mind you), the potato is native to the Americas, so it would be bloody difficult for Kerry's putative ancestor to have introduced them.  And while I lack the vaunted training in research to be had at Columbia J-school, it only took me about 30 seconds with Google to discover a reference to potato farming in North America that predates Mr. McGregor by over a hundred years:
Kaishúcpenauk a white kind of roots about the bignes of hen egs & nere of that forme: their tast was not so good to our seeming as of the other, and therfore their place and manner of growing not so much cared for by vs: the inhabitãts notwithstanding vsed to boile & eate many.

Thomas Hariot, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1590). 
Second, and more importantly, Kerry hasn't "always corrected" errors regarding his heritage--indeed, he's made some misstatements of his own.  This Slate article details several, including a March 18, 1986, declaration Kerry made on the floor of the Senate:
For those of us who are fortunate to share an Irish ancestry, we take great pride in the contributions that Irish-Americans …

and this statement he made in 1984:
As some of you may know, I am part-English and part-Irish. And when my Kerry ancestors first came over to Massachusetts from the old country to find work in the New World, it was my English ancestors who refused to hire them.

Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that whether Kerry's long-dead ancestor invented the potato or whether Kerry has a drop or two of Irish blood matters one whit to whether he should be President (though potatoes have been an issue before, and whether Kerry lied is surely interesting).  But whether it matters or not, it would be easy enough for the AP to check out.  Who knows?  If the AP were scrupulously accurate with regard to printing minor factual claims that are easy to verify (or discredit), perhaps they'd be more believable when they publish major claims that are harder to check up on.  But such trivial details might distract them from their hagiography.

posted by lostingotham | 7/17/2004 01:12:00 PM
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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

posted by Tom

Remember when liberal media made frequent travel abroad a pre-requisite for the presidency in 2000? Liberal reporters and pundits ruefully informed us that George W. Bush was unqualified because he had only gone overseas three times, and not one of those trips was to (mon dieu!) France. It is virtually certain the attacks of September 11th, 2001 never would have occurred had Bush sipped coffee in a cafe along the Champs Elysees while on summer vacation from Yale. The question is, how many times did he have to do it? Apparently, the framers of the Constitution were very vague about this requirement and this threw pro-Gore media off their game. They were certain three overseas visits wasn't enough, but they were clueless when it came to the number of trips a candidate had to have made in his life for liberal media to deem him fit for the oval office.  As with the specific dollar amount under which one is a "working American" entitled to tax relief and over which one is "rich" enough to be taxed to death, liberals have trouble establishing the magic number of visits to foreign soil that automatically qualify one for high office.  Of course, if young GW Bush had participated in an anti-American demonstration during one of his few trips, he would have earned extra credit, as it were, and automatically achieved the maximum level of wordly sophistication qualifying him to both lead the country and get hummers from interns in the White House.

Now, according to The Washington Post, Colin Powell has failed to travel overseas an acceptable percentage of his time as Secretary of State. From the tone of the article, we can infer that all of the world's ills have been made worse, the global instability that occurred the moment Bill Clinton left office has markedly increased, because homey Powell don't do travel.  The Sudan, for instance, would have ceased and desisted in its annihilation of non-Muslims in the south had Powell traveled there a little more often.  A few more trips to Beijing and that SARS epidemic would have been less severe. A couple of more visits to West Africa and the spread of AIDS would have slowed, if not halted altogether.
Except, as was the case with candidate Bush and the travel quota he was required to meet, the Post doesn't tell us what percentage of his time in office Powell should have spent overseas, only that it should have fallen somewhere between the percentage of time Henry Kissinger and Madeleine K. Albright's fat asses were flown around the world on the public dime when they held the post. And who among us is not eternally grateful to Madame Secretary Nottoobright for the much safer world we live in as a result of her frequent trips abroad?

Surely there must be some magical number of overseas trips Powell is required to make for liberals to not call attention to this non-issue during the campaign, just as there must have been a magic number of trips abroad George Bush could have made that would have qualified him for the presidency. It's too late for Bush, he's already president, but Powell has a few months left in the administration's first term to meet his quota, if only the liberal jackasses who publish the DNC's newsletters would tell him what it is. After all, Republicans are always willing to accommodate liberal media demands. When a low level bureaucrat seeking his 15 seconds of fame accused Bush of lying in his state of the union address about a British Intelligence report detailing Iraq's attempt to purchase uranium from Niger, didn't the administration admit it made a mistake including that information in the speech when liberal media demanded it? The fact the information was true made no difference.  The Washington Post and The New York Times wanted a retraction and the Bush administration issued one. Tell Colin Powell how many more times he must fly the friendly skies in order for the Post to consider him almost as good a Secretary of State as his predecessor and he'll be on before you can say "The French blow" - in French.
The intrepid Post reporter assigned to write this ridiculous space filler consults "former U.N. ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, a leading prospect for secretary of state in a John F. Kerry administration" [emphasis added] for his learned opinion on how much time a Secretary of State must spend overseas. Okay, let's see what another career bureaucrat, who never held the post he is commenting on has to say. Sure, why not?

"In the modern age," Holbrooke solemnly intones, "like it or not, secretaries have to travel. There is no alternative."
Huh? Oh, I'm sorry, is he finished? Did I miss the part that makes Holbrooke's statement (or Holbrooke himself, for that matter) relevant to Powell's alleged lack of globe trottedness and the precarious state of world affairs such a deficiency has led to? Holbrooke's premise is that Secretaries of State have to travel in the modern age, like it or not. Okay, well, Colin Powell is Secretary of State in the modern age, he's traveled, and he doesn't like it. Therefore...what?

The only conclusion I draw is that Holbrooke's a master of facile, meaningless sound bites and as such will make an excellent Secretary of State in a Kerry administration. We should be at war with the entire eastern half of the globe after his first overseas trip.

Seriously, who can read (non)stories like this and not envision Washington Post editors pressuring their hacks to find something, anything, that they can spin negatively against anyone in the Bush Administration? The stress level must be especially high now that the the walking corpse they've nominated for president has gotten no significant bounce in the polls after selecting Andy of Mayberry for his VP.  Couple this with the prospect of the convention in Boston turning disastrous when the left wing psychos who made last week's Radio City Music Hall fundraiser so successful for KerryEdwards and without whom the Democratic party wouldn't exist show up on camera. Liberal media's two greatest fears on the eve of the convention are that Republican operatives do in fact possess a videotape of last week's vaudeville show and will release it during the Dems' convention, and that the convention itself will turn into the 2004 version of Paul Wellstone's 2002 Memorial Service, which exposed the Democrats as the Party of Norman Bates to America and secured that year's election for Republicans. The Post's editorial offices probably resemble Hitler's bunker in '45, right down to the cyanide capsules to be taken in the event the Republicans win.

I think White House spokesman Sean McCormack, quoted at the end of the article, could have saved himself time and energy had he responded to the Post's inquiries on this subject using Cheney's "suggestion" to Leahy from a couple of weeks ago. As a matter of fact, I think that Cheney's direction to Leahy to stick various appendages into various orifi should be adopted by the entire administration - and the Republican party,  for that matter - as the standard response to media questions between now and the election.

They'll win in a walk.

posted by Tom | 7/14/2004 01:24:00 PM
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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Letter from an Iraqi Jail
posted by Tom

Mr. Paul Newman
Mr. Robert Redford
Mr. Michael Farrell
Mr. Edward Asner
Mr. Timothy Robbins & Ms. Susan Sarandon
Mr. & Mrs. Barbra Streisand
c/o The Celebrity Coalition to Free Mumia, Cure Global AIDS, Defeat George Bush, and Prevent DVD/CD Pirating
PO Box 1458
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Dear Friends of Islam, in the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate, and the Star Struck:

I have only just finished reading your response to my plea for justice, liberation, and some good American porn that I have not had access to since I was deposed by that spawn of Satan, that son of a thousand fathers, that thief of elections, that contemptible cowboy ruler of your country, George W. Bush, who offends the Great Allah and my Lord Mohammed, blessings and peace be upon them, by waging successful military campaigns against psychotic followers of the Religion of Peace. I am grateful that such wealthy American celebrities, many of you has-beens with little work and nothing better to do than presume to guide your country's foreign and domestic policy, are prepared to rally to my defense.

However, you state in your letter that you are concerned about my relationship with a brother in Islam, Usama Bin Laden, alleged by your so-called 9/11 Commission and that nest of vipers on Pennsylvania Avenue. May the Lord Mohammed, blessings and peace be upon him, strike them all with anal itching for which there is no ointment. You ask for assurances that I have never had any relationship with Bin Laden, who was wrongfully accused of attacks against your beloved land by those sons of the Devil, those defilers of the holy places and ammo dumps of Islam, George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. May Allah enlarge their prostates to immense proportions for these lies. I understand you need this before you and various Communist entities will organize protests on college campuses, before you will sign letters to editors written by your administrative assistants, and before you will take the really big step and personally appear on The Today Show to plead my case with Katie Couric, whose televised colonoscopy touched me deeply, though not as deeply as it touched her, I’m sure. (Praise be to Allah that I can still make with the jokes after this diabolical imprisonment.)

Seriously, as much as I would like to honor your request, I am not quite sure exactly what you mean by a "relationship" with Bin Laden and what would be so wrong if one ever existed (not that it ever did exactly). You mention something in your letter about Bin Laden's association with a violent terrorist organization called "al-Qaeda" and ask whether or not I have ever dealt with them. This is no doubt another lie concocted by the unelected incubus controlling your government. I mean no disrespect, but I am surprised that such sophisticated artists have been so easily fooled by the dyslexic brother of Beelzebub.

The only Al Qaeda I know was a Muslim stand-up comedian who used to perform at birthday parties in the presidential palaces. He had a great shtick, as my Jewish friends say:

“Take my concubines, please.”

“Marriage is tough, let me tell you. My wife said, 'You never take me anywhere,' so I killed her.”

“I told my imam I was depressed and questioning my faith. He told me to take two infidels’ lives and call him at Ramadan.”

And so on.

But back to Bin Laden and any group or groups to which he may or may not belong. Before I was so cruelly imprisoned by the demon army of George Bush, I did hear a rumor that Bin Laden had started a PAC in your country, "Mujahadeen for Kerry/Edwards", but it is a relatively peaceful organization. As far as I know, he is associated with no anti-Zionist or anti-American groups and has committed no crimes, per se, certainly none as heinous as those alleged by your government’s bastard leaders. That being the case, there would be no problem with my having a relationship with him even if such a relationship ever existed (and I am not saying it did, but hypothetically speaking). But if it will make you feel more comfortable about defending me to your countrymen, then I swear upon the souls of my beloved sons and all of the other holy martyrs of Islam that (and you can’t see me now, but I’m pounding the table I’m sitting at as I type this) I did not have a relationship with Usama Bin Laden.

I won't say he's a complete stranger to me. Allah forbid I should engage in such falsehood. We have run into each other on occasion. Well, once, anyway. It was an MLA symposium in Rijad around 1989 or ’90, I think, right before my trouble with that first offspring of a jackal, the elder Bush. Bin Laden and I met at the wine and cheese reception following Susan Sontag’s presentation of her paper, “Beneath the Burqa: PMS, WMD, and the Feminization of Middle East Terrorism.” Usama and I agreed it was heavy stuff, as we say in critical circles, and that she had so effectively deconstructed Islamic patriarchy that neither one of us would ever be able to unselfconsciously torture a woman again. I remember he asked me if I preferred mustard or sarin gas when attacking villages and I said it depended on how big the village was, which way the wind was blowing, etc. Then I told him that I had heard from someone in the Saudi royal family (I forget who it was) that he was having kidney issues, so I asked him how he was dealing with that. "Cum se, cum sa," he said. That was it. Honest.

All right, he called me during one of those annoying air raids launched by your previous president, Bill Clinton. You remember, the ones that always seemed to coincide with some scandal or another he was going through? (My boys and I almost, as they say in your country, shit a brick when he was finally impeached. We thought for sure a full invasion was coming. Allah be praised that while he may have been in serious trouble, he was still a Democrat.) Usama said he saw the bombing on CNN, remembered our brief meeting in Rijad, and called to ask how I and the boys were holding up under the stress. I told him we were fine, but you know how kids are. Uday and Qusay got antsy after hiding out in the bunker for a couple of hours and couldn't wait to get out and stalk 13-year-old virgins. He laughed knowingly and told me to buck up, a cruise missile’s bark is worse than its bite, then hung up. That was the last I ever heard from him.

May Allah, the merciful and the compassionate, re-elect George W. Bush if I am not telling the truth.

I pray this will put to rest any doubts you may have as a result of these vile accusations. Two Islamic leaders like Bin Laden and me, even though we may share a deep, abiding hatred of the US, would never conspire in any way to attack our mutual enemy because, as many in your media have accurately reported, Usama Bin Laden is a fundamentalist and I am secular. We have different interpretations of the precepts of our Lord Mohammed, blessings and peace be upon him. For instance, Bin Laden believes we are commanded to kill all infidels, while I believe we should only kill infidel men, infidel women being useful for other things. (Hubba hubba. Allah be praised that I can laugh through my tears of oppression.)

In all seriousness, let me put it this way: If Bin Laden desperately wanted chemical or nuclear weapons with which to attack America and Iraq were the only Arab country to possess them, he would rather be caught eating a jumbo rack of pork ribs at the local Outback than accept such weapons from me. Hatred of the Great Satan only goes so far with these radical Islamicists, you know. Your liberal countrymen are correct to always put legal standards of evidence above common sense. Would that all Americans were as committed to justice, many of the problems between us would have ended a lot sooner.

I understand from your letter that you have another minor concern related to my plea for your organization's help. You state that my request may be a little premature as you usually only support cold blooded homicidal maniacs after they are convicted beyond a resonable doubt by a jury that has examined all of the relevant evidence. Only then will you seek their release on some silly procedural error or other technicality. After all, you rightly ask, what fun is there in seeing an innocent person let loose on society? I also realize you are more accustomed to advocating the release of mere cop killers, and that while someone accused of genocide and crimes against humanity is inviting in terms of publicity (which many of you desperately need), it is somewhat intimidating, too. I have no doubt you are up to the challenge. Because my Lord Mohammed, blessings and peace be upon him, stands with me, he will stand with you. I only hope you appreciate the urgency of my particular situation. In the parlance of your old gangster movies I love so much, they're dusting off the hot seat for me, guys. You need to start right away accusing the one who usurped Gore of violating my rights, flouting international law, giving tax breaks to the rich, etc. Whatever you can come up with to distract everyone from the mountain of evidence against me will be greatly appreciated.

Well, the guards are at my cell door, so I must be signing off. Soon, I will be standing before the illegitimate court convened by the new illegitimate government of Iraq and facing the music, as they say. I have to admit, though, that as bad as my confinement is, I have it a lot easier than the other Iraqi prisoners. I get to personally order the women's underwear the guards will put on my head from a Victoria's Secret catalogue, while my fellow prisoners must take whatever the female guards grab from their footlockers that morning. Rank hath its privileges, something I am sure all of you can appreciate.

Anyway, I look forward to your people calling my people. I am making another funny (praise be to Allah, I have a million of them). My people are all dead, in jail with me, or on the run. Seriously, I look forward to a response from you, preferably before I am executed.

Sincerely, your future fashionable cause,

Saddam Hussein

posted by Tom | 7/11/2004 11:21:00 AM
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Friday, July 09, 2004

You won't hear a John Edwards stump speech in which he neglects to mention his lifelong struggle as a "champion of regular folks," the theme he set when he announced for the Democratic nomination two years ago:
I run for president to be champion, to be a champion for the same people I've fought for all my life, regular folks. They're people like my own family, where I was the first to go to college and my dad worked in a textile mill all his life, where my mother's last job was working at the post office; to the people I went to school with, the people I grew up with, the families that I represented for almost two decades as a lawyer, and exactly the same group of people that are the reason I ran for United States Senate.

I think these people are entitled to a champion in the White House. Somebody who goes to work every day seeing things through their eyes, and who provides real ideas about how to make their lives better, not somebody who's thinking about insiders or looking out for insiders.
Edwards' formulation, "the regular folks versus the insiders," is but a dumbed-down reprise of the same appeal to class conflict Al Gore invoked in his "the people versus the powerful" speech at the 2000 Democrat Convention:
Whether you're in a suburb or an inner city, whether you raise crops or drive hogs and cattle on a farm, drive a big rig on the interstate or drive e-commerce on the Internet, whether you're starting out to raise your own family or getting ready to retire after a lifetime of hard work, so often powerful forces and powerful interests stand in your way, and the odds seem stacked against you, even as you do what's right for you and your family.

. . . .

I've taken on the powerful forces, and as president, I'll stand up to them and I'll stand up for you.

. . . .

And that's the difference in this election. They're for the powerful. We're for the people.
There's no question that as a plaintiff's lawyer John Edwards has been the champion of at least several dozen "regular folks" who were unfortunate enough to sustain a personal injury that provided the handsome lawyer an opportunity to collect his even more handsome 33% to 50% contingency fee cut (plus expenses) out of their multi-million dollar jury awards. As to whether he's a champion of many "regular folks" who haven't been severely brain-damaged, the jury is still out. What is clear is that Edwards has long been the chosen champion of a small handful of extremely rich folks, whose contributions have made up the bulk of his soft money funding.

You probably already know that an ungodly amount--more than $9 million--of Edwards' financial support in his run for the Democrat nomination came from lawyers on the plaintiff's side of the bar. (That $9 million equals almost half of the total contributions to Edwards' campaign.) So you might be surprised to learn that the single largest soft money contributor to John Edwards' PAC was not some rich plaintiff's lawyer, but was an interesting fellow man named Stephen Bing.

Through his company, Shangri-La Entertainment, Bing funneled some $900,000 of soft money into John Edwards' Leadership PAC. Okay, the $900,000 in soft money that Bing gave to Edwards' PAC might seem like small potatoes since we've all heard about George Soros' pledging whatever it takes of his untold millions to's holy war to defeat George Bush. Well, in the neck-and-neck race to be number one in soft money contributions to left-leaning "527 Groups," Soros is currently running behind Stephen Bing, who had ponied up $8,086,273 as of July 5.

At the risk of digressing too far from my main subject, I need to say a quick word about "527 Groups," which have become the depository for Stephen Bing's soft money largesse. When McCain-Feingold restricted political parties' access to soft money, the Democrats seemed to have painted themselves into a corner. Yes, the lefties had always self-righteously claimed that soft money was corrupting the political process, yet the not-very-well-publicized truth was that for years the Democrat Party had been living off soft money from unions and limo liberals. By contrast, the Republicans had always done better at raising hard money contributions, which are restricted to a few thousand dollars per individual. Success at raising hard money depends on having a huge number of "grass roots" supporters, each of whom gives a relatively small amount. They style themselves as the party of the people . . . er . . . I mean "regular folks," but the Democrats could never match the GOP when it came to the real grassroots work of raising hard money a few hundred or a few thousand bucks at a time. Instead, the Dems specialized in soft money because it only took a handful of limo liberals like George Soros and Stephen Bing to overflow the coffers with unlimited soft money millions. But then McCain-Feingold's reforms put an end to the national political parties directly raising and spending soft money.

So to get around McCain-Feingold's soft money restrictions and to give rich liberals like Bing and Soros a new place to send their soft money, the Democrats latched onto something known as "527 Groups" (named for Section 527 of the IRS code). serves as a fairly representative example: Just like the Democrats, MoveOn styles itself a "grassroots organization," but of the $8,667,812 that MoveOn's 527 has raised so far this election cycle, $6,072,777 (70%) came from just three individuals, George Soros, Peter Lewis, and the good Mr. Bing.

Both John McCain and Russell Feingold have gone on record saying that the way the 527 Groups use soft money violates McCain-Feingold. However, after wrestling with the issue for many months, the Federal Election Commission, which has responsibility for writing the regulations to implement McCain-Feingold, never could decide what to do about 527 Groups. So in early May, the FEC punted and decided to postpone action on 527's until after the 2004 election. The New York Times editorialized thusly:
In a shameful decision that will unleash a fresh torrent of unregulated donations to pollute the presidential election, the Federal Election Commission has declined to control the new "shadow party" attack groups that are evading the campaign finance law. The commission voted on Thursday not to rein in puppet Democratic operations that are already spending scores of millions in big unregulated donations from unions and fat-cat partisans. (my italics)
Hurrah! Hooray! for the New York Times, which deserves credit for calling MoveOn, American Coming Together, Media Fund, and the Joint Victory Fund exactly what they are. But as far as I know, the Times editorial hasn't raised a blush on the face of any Democrats, who proceed apace with their soft money orgy. MoveOn, with its $8 million in soft money receipts, is a middling example compared to America Coming Together ($19 million) and the Media Fund ($15 million). Foolishly presuming that the Democrats who pushed for passage of McCain-Feingold's reforms would actually abide by those reforms, the GOP got a slow start in the 527 race. So of the top ten largest 527 Groups, all lean left, with the exception of the Club for Growth, with its relatively modest $3,667,948 in receipts. The upshot is that, through 527 Groups, soft money is now being used to influence elections more directly than was permitted even prior to the passage of McCain-Feingold.

Sorry for the digression. Let's get back to Stephen Bing, the patron saint of Democrat soft money.

No, Bing's not a rich plaintiff's lawyer. And he's not one of those leftist dot com millionaires who had the good sense to cash out early. Bing's career has been so multi-faceted that it is hard to say exactly what he is. For the moment, let's just try to think of Bing as one of John Edwards' "regular rich folk."

According to Mother Jones magazine, Bing came by his money the old-fashioned way: "he inherited it." His gramps was a New York real estate tycoon through whom Bing has already inherited, or stands to inherit, hundreds of millions of dollars--maybe even a cool billion--when pops and a rich uncle or two kick off. In a family with that kind of dough, you can well imagine how confusing it must have been for a young man as regular and folksy as Stephen Bing to figure out what to make of his life.

Fortunately for Mr. Bing and all the other regular folks, America is still the great land of opportunity where anyone who has the right work ethic and a willingness to expend large amounts of capital can find steady employment as a playboy. And so it came to pass that by constant dedication to the highest standards of his chosen craft, Stephen Bing swiftly rose to the upper echelons of the playboy profession. He won his success despite a devastating physical disability under which he suffers even to this day. Yes, the world has only recently discovered that in his late youth Stephen Bing was afflicted with an ever-worsening chronic condition, an occupational handicap that would have shattered the professional aspirations of any playboy of lesser means: a hairy back.

Notwithstanding the triumphs of his early career as a playboy, Bing soon apparently began to feel he had something more to offer the world, something in addition to the use of his Bel Air mansion for "sex romps between movie executives and call girls." The problem, of course, was that the working life of a playboy entails satisfactions that a man of Stephen Bing's moral depth could never in good conscience forsake.

If only there were some honorable avocation into which he could channel the overflow of his efforts, while still making regular contributions to his established profession. Yes, thank God, right here in America in a magical place called Hollywood a trust fund baby in possession of a half a billion dollars can, with just a couple of short phone calls to the right people, vindicate his otherwise totally wasted Ivy education and ascend to the trusted position of Movie Producer and Screenwriter. And so Bing set to work producing films and penning screenplays, some of which he might have actually written all by himself.

A June 22, 2002, article in The Scotsman (sorry, no free internet link available, but you can get the article from Lexis) summarizes Bing's life history at this moment in our story:
STEPHEN Leo Bing was born on 31 March, 1965, to property heir Peter Bing and his wife, Helen. Bing senior inherited his fortune from Grandpappy Bing, another tireless grafter in the dangerous world of real estate. Peter has been a benefactor of universities, including Stanford, one of the great Ivy League establishments, though his generosity failed to benefit his son and heir.

That's not to say young Steven did not receive the best education money could buy, at the prestigious Harvard school in Los Angeles, before he enrolled at Stanford. But "Bing Wing" or not, he flunked out after a year and a half. The scholar's life was not for him, though in that brief period, his buddies recall he had shown himself a keen student of movies and of beautiful women - and of movies with beautiful women in them.

He began to dabble in screenwriting, acting and producing, but in truth was often just a financier for the talented, beautiful crowd he immersed himself in. His credits are few, and usually derided - from television series (he wrote for the sitcom Married ... with Children) to movies. His 2000 remake of Get Carter, which replaced Michael Caine with Sylvester Stallone as the male lead, was lambasted in the press.

"He calls himself a writer, yet not many people have seen him writing," one Hollywood observer said. "It's more like he spends all his time studying obsessively how to get women and keep all his relationships alive at once."

Still, at least he enjoyed some success in that area. Introduced by James Caan, for a while he was a regular at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion, and hanging out with friends like Kiefer Sutherland and Rob Lowe, he fast established a rakish reputation as a man about town.

Indeed, according to one former lover, Tracy Richman, Bing was a "sexual predator" and began to mark out some celebrity notches on his bedpost. There was Farrah Fawcett - 18 years his senior - Uma Thurman, Naomi Campbell and Sharon Stone (with a gracelessness we have since come to expect, Bing was to deride Ms Stone's abilities as a lover).
Alas, we might never know how great an artist Stephen Bing could have become if his mortal frame were not so over-burdened with the daily drudgeries of a playboy's labors, which seemed to sap vital energies that he might otherwise put into his art. But it would be wrong to say that all Bing's films have been entirely forgettable. His Chuck Norris Missing in Action trilogy shall ever remain the preeminent example of Viet Nam War Movie kitsch. Bing wrote the screenplay for all three pictures in that series, the first of which the New York Times described as:
One of a string of Ramboesque films dashed off in the '80s, Missing in Action is yet another entry that attempts to exploit the lingering public bitterness over the outcome of the war in Vietnam. Colonel Braddock (karate champion Chuck Norris) travels to Vietnam on a mission to recover lost POWs. A former POW himself, Braddock has the saavy and bad temper to kill droves of communists at a time, not to mention the inclination. Together with former war comrade M. Emmet Walsh, he sets off for the POW camp where Americans are supposedly still held. Of course, there are lots of nameless, faceless Asian communists, and of course, every one of them dies in violent fashion. The chop-socky, shoot-em-up, explosion-a-minute action quickly wears thin. Missing in Action is a crass, dopey film that ultimately fails to connect with anything interesting in the realm of fact or fiction.
Yet Bing's noble experiment in film-making has not been an unmitigated failure. One of his more notable movie-making successes came when the Democrat-controlled State of Hawaii granted his production company, Shangri-La, a $13 million tax credit for making a $50 million dollar film, even though the fruit of that labor turned out to be an "inert movie with few laughs" and "a big waste of talent." If Bing hands the Dems another $5 million to go with the $8 million he's already given to their 527s, he will have fully repaid the Hawaii favor. And I expect he will return the favor, since "regular folks" have to look out for each other.

While Bing's artistic endeavors seduced no critics, life in Hollywood brought other consolations which fit in nicely with his previously well-established career as a playboy: The foray into the celluloid world put him on a path to achieve his greatest public triumph: an eighteen month celebrity love affair with model/actress Elizabeth Hurley. Upon learning that he had knocked Hurley up, Bing promptly ditched her, contested paternity, and publicly questioned Hurley's feminine integrity. Hurley reportedly refused Bing's request that she have an abortion, and DNA tests ultimately confirmed the child was his, whereupon his sister complained bitterly that Bing had been "snookered into being a parent".

In their commentary about the affair, celebrity media moralizers went so far as to suggest that Stephen Bing, though fabulously wealthy and properly liberal, was a sleezeball. But in the more enlightened climes left-wing celebrities inhabit, Bing's demonstrated propensity to treat women like crap established his credentials as a leading figure in Democrat politics.

posted by Bathus | 7/09/2004 04:16:00 PM
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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Portrait of the Millionaire Trial Lawyer as a Young Man
posted by Tom

We all know that Democrats are experts at using totally meaningless language to provoke a knee-jerk response among their gimme constituency and at creating self-contradictory narratives that leave Derrida begging for mercy. Now the party of the indefinable entity that alone deserves a tax cut, the “working family”, uses its skill at empty rhetoric to turn John Kerry’s co-crepe hanger, Senator John Edwards, into a Clifford Odets wet dream. What follows is an excerpt from Senator Edwards’ biography posted at the Democratic National Committee's web site. This is only the introduction. Read the whole thing if you get a kinky thrill out of throwing up:

John Edwards was born in Seneca, South Carolina and raised in Robbins, North Carolina, a small town in the Piedmont. There John learned the values of hard work and perseverance from his father, Wallace, who worked in the textile mills for 36 years, and from his mother, Bobbie, who ran a shop and worked at the post office. Working alongside his father at the mill, John developed his strong belief that all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed and be heard.

I admit I'm not the most tightly woven fabric in the mill, but does anyone else see the contradiction between what the biographer wants us to believe is Young John Edwards' pride in his humble blue-collar beginnings and what John Edwards the millionaire trial lawyer/senator, who is now almost-billionaire gigolo John Kerry’s running mate, actually tells us about his past? Setting aside the obvious point that working in a textile mill where noise levels are extremely high would make anyone desperate to be heard, we can turn to the more important question of what exactly about Young John's father weaving those textiles accounted for his "strong belief that all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed"? (He didn't merely believe it, but strongly believed it. He was really, really unique in that way.) The causal connection drawn between Young John's epiphany and his father's mill work, when contrasted with John Edwards the multi-millionaire trial lawyer and the almost-billionaire political "daddy" whose ass he is now kissing on the campaign trail, reveals in no uncertain terms that if Young John learned anything in the mill, it was contempt for everything his father represented.

Anyway, before addressing that question, is anyone else as curious as I am about the “hard work” performed by Mrs. Joad – I mean, Mrs. Edwards? Me, I’m a bit skeptical that the work in a post office in a “small town in the Piedmont” was "hard". Put it this way, I can’t seriously entertain visions of Mrs. Edwards suffering under the constant threat of a nervous breakdown from the stress of directing less mail than the Pentagon probably receives in a day.

And what does the biographer mean by she “ran a shop”? Did she manage a shop?

Wait a minute. Stop the tape, as Rush would say.

Young John’s mother was a BOSS?! She gave orders to other workers in the shop?! That would throw a wrench into the Democratic myth machine, wouldn’t it, if Mrs. Edwards was on the wrong side of the Marxist dialectic? Oh, all right, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she was the sole employee in a small shop in a small town and was responsible for running it for the owner. On a part-time basis? Don't forget she was engaged in the back breaking task of stamping parcels in the Mayberry Post Office. And what kind of shop, one may ask? A machine shop? A butcher shop? A barber shop? A ladies’ dress shop/boutique? (There’s “hard work” for you.)

Was it a sweatshop? Nah, the DNC propagandist would have told us that.

Or did Mother Edwards perchance own a shop that she ran full-time and work at the Post Office on Saturdays? Is the candidate’s biographer reluctant to state this because the myth of Young John Edwards' hard scrabble existence loses a bit of its romantic appeal if his parents had access to capital that afforded them the opportunity (that all Americans deserve) to open a small business?

In case you haven’t caught on yet, I’d really like to know what the hell “ran a shop” means. Wouldn’t you? The paucity of detail makes me wonder if there is something about Bobbie Edwards’ shop running that doesn’t comport with the left wing narrative the candidate’s biographer is creating. If the facts would serve to advance the noble prole nonsense we’re being fed here, I'm sure we would be regaled with detailed descriptions of Bobbie's arthritic hands threading laces in some evil Republican’s shoe repair shop, of her back bending under the whip of the evil Republican owner commanding her to “Run this shop, you working-class bitch!” (Thwack)

So Mrs. Edwards may have worked two jobs, one at the Post Office and one running a shop. Big deal. I don't get a sense of the "hard work" that Young John came to value from her. I think the biographer could have been more specific, and not depended so much on the reflexive reaction common among the Democrat idiots who lap up this drivel that you are either CEO of Exxon/Mobil or you suffer in blue collar hell.

Let's turn to Young John’s epiphany (Copland’s "Fanfare for the Common Man" will be played at this point in the movie when it's made) in the textile mill, as he watched his father sweat blood: "All Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed!" I don't know about you, but what I take away from this is that Young John saw his father, from whom we were originally told he learned the "values of hard work and perseverance", as a failure. Granted, Wallace Edwards was not a failure through any fault of his own. Of course not. He merely wasn't afforded the equal opportunity to succeed that he deserved (evidently, the owner of the textile mill was the guy who got all the breaks). But he was a failure nonetheless in the eyes of Young John. If he wasn’t, Young John would not have needed a lightning bolt from Marxist heaven to shock him into the realization that “all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed” because his father would have personified it.

Unless his biographer wants me to believe that Young John Edwards, now John Edwards the multi-millionaire trial lawyer and senator, was awe-struck by his father's success and proclaimed over the noise of the mill: “Every American deserves this and, by God, I’m going to see that they get it! The first chance I get, I’m going to college, and then to law school, and then I’m going to sue my way to millions of dollars, and then run for the United States Senate, and then – AND THEN – I’M GOING TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! From The White House I will dictate that every American has the opportunity to work his or her entire adult life in a textile mill, or in some other dirty, sweaty job that will probably be shipped overseas because trial lawyers and the legalized extortion rackets called labor unions make it impossible for business to thrive in this country!”

But I don't think so.

No, John Edwards the Man reveals that Young John Edwards saw life in the textile mill as a dead end for losers - like his father - and saw himself as too good to work there forever. This is why he abandoned dad in the mill and ran off to college, then to law school, then to a law firm to make easy money off of someone else’s misery as a high-priced ambulance chaser. Had Young John valued the “values” of his father and perceived a reward for living those values, he would have been content to spend the next 36 years (at least) of his own life in the mill. But Young John obviously learned the exact opposite of what we're told he learned from his father as far as the “values of hard work and perseverance". Dad's being stuck in a textile mill after 36 years of hard work and perseverance put the lie to those values and made him look pretty much like a fool to his son. And John Edwards the Trial Lawyer's first big judgment against a corporate defendant only reinforced the conclusions Young John came to in the mill:

“See dad? You spend 36 years working hard and persevering in a textile mill and what do you have to show for it? I made a million bucks for a couple of days’ work in front of 12 morons who dream of suing their own way to prosperity. Okay, there are some appeals to get through before I see the money, but my law clerks take care of those and I just sign off on them. Not bad, eh? Thanks for all the lessons when I was in the mill, but you really are a shmuck, pop.”

Prefer a kinder, gentler reading of all of this? Or at least a more realistic one? How about Wallace Edwards telling his son, as they stood weaving together on the assembly line, to do what he could to get his ass out of the mill and somewhere, anywhere, that paid a nice living for work that wasn't so "hard"? And how about Young John taking the advice?

How about Young John becoming a trial lawyer and making millions of dollars?

How about Young John becoming a Senator, then a candidate for President?

Young John Edwards learned something from his father, Wallace, who worked in the textile mills for 36 years. He learned that working in textile mills at all, let alone for 36 years, really blows, and that the “hard work” crap is for the birds.

posted by Tom | 7/07/2004 02:18:00 PM
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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, Mary Jo."
posted by Tom

The title is the punchline to one of the first Chappaquiddick jokes to appear after the “accident” in July of 1969 that pretty much put the kibosh on Ted Kennedy’s dreams of becoming president. I don’t even think the Massachusetts DA and coroner had deposited Ted’s checks before this one made the rounds. The set-up finds Ted and Mary Jo Kopechne driving along in his car after leaving the party on Martha's Vineyard the night of July 19. She turns to him and says, "Ted, I think I'm pregnant. What will we do?"

Not high on the yuk meter now, but back in my South Philadelphia neighborhood that summer 35 years ago, conservative Italian-Americans who heaved their gnocchi at the mere mention of the Kennedy name (and still do) soiled themselves over it. Sure, it was in poor taste. That's what made it funny.

As an aside, South Philly Italians have a great sense of humor when it comes to current events. For instance, the political correctness that appears to guide U.S. strategy in the War on Terror has convinced them that if Mafiosi convert to Islam and change their names to Mohammed Gambone or Usama Bin Collucci or Moustafa DelGiorno, the FBI (Forever Bothering Italians, as it’s known among my paisans) is sure to leave them alone. Conversely, rumor has it that the FBI was investigating Mohammed Atta, but broke it off when they realized he wasn’t Italian.

But speaking of Chappaquiddick humor, in the 70s National Lampoon parodied the floating Volkswagen Beetle ad with the caption: "If Ted Kennedy owned one of these, he would be president today." The editors ran an apology the following month. Yes, those iconoclastic, cutting-edge satirists, those challengers of the status quo and bourgeois values, apologized for their own poor taste re Chappaquiddick. Readers were left to wonder just who it was they regretted offending: the Kopechnes, the Kennedys, or liberal Democrats in general.

I bring this up because in that same decade they ran a Nazi-Holocaust parody in the form of a comic strip. One panel depicted Hitler advertising Nazi soap with the catch-line, “It’s concentrated.” There were no apologies to Jews the following month. At first, I figured the editors might have been Jews themselves and they believed this gave them special dispensation (so to speak) to joke about the Holocaust. Except they were liberals, too. Logic tells us they were free to unapologetically poke fun at Kennedy and Chappaquiddick. But whoever accused liberals of being logical, especially when it comes to offensive humor? They deify a Lenny Bruce, yet vilify an Andrew Dice Clay.

One may wonder how it is that Italians, who count La Cosa Nostra among the more shall we say shady aspects of their heritage, have the nerve to mock and criticize the descendants of Rum Runner Joe Kennedy. No mystery there. First and foremost, Mafiosi, unlike Kennedys, admit they’re power hungry criminals with little or no regard for anyone or anything outside la famiglia and are up front about whacking anyone who gets in the way of their ambition. Along with good pasta, good vino, and good Godfather movies (which eliminates Godfather III), Italians appreciate honesty. And they are averse to limo liberal poseurs who engage in that self-righteous share the wealth bullshit so long as it's everyone else's wealth being shared. In all of those John Gotti tapes made by the FBI, did anyone ever hear him lecture the American people on the need to “sacrifice”? Did he ever scream about our moral duty to "tax the rich” while tooling around in his limo? Every other sentence out of a Kennedy’s mouth has to do with what everyone else must give up for a “better” – i.e., more left-wing – America while they frolic in their Hyannisport compound, hog the waterways with their yachts, fly (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) from one cocktail party to another in their private aircraft, rape and/or drown women, etc. Maybe if Ted and his weasely nephews were as forthcoming about their sleaze as your average Mafioso, they’d be more likeable, and not merely a clan of boorish hypocrites devoid of any sense of humor or irony. This is bad enough, but did they have to spawn an entire class of imitators among the Democrats? We have the Kennedys and their left-wing media enablers to thank for two-faced, multi-millionaire limo-liberal gas bags like Kerry, Edwards, and Corzine.

Anyway, Ted's dream of following in his brother's footsteps and turning The White House into a brothel with a perpetual open bar went off the Dike Bridge and sank with his sedan that night in '69, which was an appropriate year for a Kennedy sex scandal. True, a decade later he mounted a serious challenge against Jimmy Carter in the presidential primaries. It was a close race and as such probably fueled a hope in both him and his lefty followers that his abandoning Kopechne to protect his political viability had finally paid off. But Carter won the day, and Ted made no attempt to mask his bitterness at the Democratic National Convention ("Congratulations, Jimmy. How about taking a ride with me to Martha's Vineyard to celebrate?"), where he refused to endorse Carter's victory with the perfunctory hug and arm raising. It was from Ted's disdain for Carter at the convention that liberal pundits concocted the comforting myth of a shattered Democratic Party and Kennedy denying Carter the liberal base he needed to defeat Reagan.

What a crock. Kennedy challenged Carter because he perceived the latter as not liberal enough. Reagan trounced Carter after exposing him for the liberal blowhard everyone with at least two synapses firing knew him to be. The same conservative Democrats that Reagan successfully turned against the PLO representative from Georgia already hated Kennedy’s left-wing guts as vehemently as did Republicans. In other words, Ted Kennedy could have kissed Carter at the convention, even going so far as slipping him some tongue, and it would have done nothing to help him. It might even have hurt him (worse than Carter's own record hurt him, and that's some serious pain). The other fact to consider is media coverage of the Kennedy run raised the "judgment" question in voters' minds from the beginning. Despite their Kennedy fetish, most liberal media reminded everyone of Chappaquiddick before the words “I announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States” left Ted’s mouth. A Kennedy candidacy was (pun intended) dead in the water.

Or maybe it was because of their fetish that liberal media hung Chappaquiddick around his neck as a reminder to him that he was not the stuff of which their Kennedy fantasies were made.

Kennedy family ass kissers in the press have always been legion, but when Ted ran against Carter they implicitly yet unmistakably threatened him with the ghost of Mary Jo in every press conference. Chappaquiddick would seal his fate with so-called independents, as well as with conservative Republicans who despised him for being a Kennedy in the first place, let alone one with a yellow streak a mile long. Now, I think I speak for all compassionate conservatives when I say that it's a shame a young woman had to drown to save America from Edward M. Barfly's presidency, which would have made the Carter years look like the Eisenhower years. Still, in the words of the King of Siam, ’tis a puzzlement, or 'twas 25 years ago, that Ted was denied the media love and - more important - protection bestowed upon his brothers when they ran for the coveted office.

On the one hand, I suppose no matter how far to port the Kennedy media yacht listed, the circulation/ratings to be had from all things Chappaquiddick - the carousing, illicit sex, drowning, and cover-up - just couldn’t be passed up. And liberal media (except for the aforementioned true believers) were savvy enough to acknowledge Reagan's better than even chance of beating Carter, who hid his left-wing, Jew-hating, welfare state politics in the pockets of his Cardigan sweater while campaigning. It stood to reason he would have even less of a problem with Kennedy’s overt “I’m-rich-enough-to-be-Socialist” view of the world. And even if the media had tried to dismiss Chappaquiddick as an (ahem) dead issue, Reagan’s campaign would have kept it alive, forcing liberal reporters to cover it. In other words, the whole prospect of supporting Ted was a royal pain in the ass. And it was his own fault.

But something else about poor Ted compelled the otherwise craven media to keep this Kennedy son/brother at arm’s length politically, meaning in the Senate, where they could patronize him for his “unapologetic liberalism“, but out of the White House one martyred brother stole from Richard Nixon in 1960 and the other martyred brother was poised to take from Nixon before he was cruelly cut down in '68. Ted just wasn’t, and could never be, JFK, or even RFK. Even his initials, EMK, didn't have a ring to them. And once they acknowledged that Bobby, the heir-apparent to JFK in 1968, was merely a facsimile of John that the brain dead 60s generation latched onto out of necessity, they had to admit Ted was but a facsimile of a facsimile. Those of us who work in offices today know how shoddy a fax of a fax is.

So, poor Ted was a poor copy of a mediocre copy of the original King of Camelot. And if the Kennedy media always suspected he wasn’t JFK before Chappaquiddick, then the “accident” settled the question once and for all. It would at first appear that Ted's car going into the drink with a young woman on board was an opportunity handed to him on a silver platter. Here was his chance to live up to the image of his sainted older brother, the hero of the capsized PT 109 who swam two miles to an island with a wounded crewman on his bad back (if I remember the movie correctly). “Ted Kennedy Saves Young Woman From Drowning," The New York Times headline would have read. "The Legacy Continues, Thanks Be To God.” Granted, it was a lesser opportunity compared to John's WWII exploits, but then he was a lesser Kennedy. He just happened to be the only one left for the media to idolize. He had the entire stage to himself, but what did he do? He ran, then added the insult of an outrageous explanation to the injury of his cowardice. He dropped the silver platter carrying the second Kennedy White House that the gods handed to him. The media that were so forgiving of his brothers' shortcomings handed him another platter, this one carrying his head.

Chappaquiddick may have denied Ted the presidency and condemned him to a life in the Senate, but make no mistake, he’s still advanced the left-wing agenda and destroyed this country to the delight of The New York Times. It's just not enough for a Kennedy, who knows the real power and glory reside in the Oval Office. It's there the myths are made. The damage Kennedys can do in the legislature is nothing compared to what they can do in The White House. This is their obsession, and who can blame them? Where else can mediocrities devoid of substance like themselves wreak havoc on the entire world? John proved it. His father steals the 1960 election for him and gets the "best and brightest" into the Oval Office and what are some of their more notable accomplishments? For one, as Ann Coulter points out in her book "Slander", nearly getting everybody killed during the Cuban Missile Crisis. They begin the Viet Nam debacle that LBJ would continue for them. Oh, and they sit back and watch the Soviets construct the Berlin Wall. Beyond the first Kennedy administration so mythologized by the media, all one need do is remember Lyndon Johnson, Carter, and Clinton and he realizes the Kennedys aren't off base in believing there are more than enough fools in the country willing to hand the presidency over to clowns.

But Ted was always the victim of a double irony. Or to put it in terms a Kennedy would appreciate, Ted was screwed coming and going. A different outcome at Chappaquiddick wouldn't have resulted in much more than a pat on the head from the media sycophants who groveled before his brother. Had he managed to win the presidency, EMK (?) wouldn't have even qualified as Camelot Lite. He would have been endlessly compared and contrasted with JFK and found wanting - in glamor, if not in substance. Given the media's canonization of John, one can imagine them taking Ted to task for not getting himself assassinated in his first term like his brother:

“Among his many shortcomings in office” a caveat-ridden New York Times editorial endorsing his bid for a second term might have read, “the president has denied his liberal supporters the pleasure of another murdered Kennedy fetish. Perhaps he will correct this sometime within the next four years.”

But that's all water under the bridge. (You knew I had to say it once.)

We're approaching the 35th anniversary of Chappaquiddick, and what's Ted Kennedy doing? Lecturing George W. Bush on those Kennedy virtues of honesty and integrity, berating him for sending young men and women to their deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq in a war against the nation's enemies. And the liberal media faithfully and uncritically report every word. Of course, Ted's anger toward Bush is understandable. A Kennedy sends people to their deaths to protect himself, not the country. Bush throws the Kennedy family's view of the world into total chaos.

Even if the other brothers were the saints the liberal media pretend they are, not the self-serving narcissists everyone, even that rare phenomenon known as the thinking liberal Democrat, knew them to be (you can bet Eugene McCarthy has no soft spot in his heart for Bobby), Ted’s reprehensible behavior back in 1969 would be enough to stain the Kennedy name. But Chappaquiddick goes beyond reflecting the corruption of one bloated politician and his family. It reflects the mockery liberals have made of American journalism. The left wing media judged Ted unworthy of his brother's White House not because he left a young woman to suffocate in his car, but because he lacked that Kennedy style, that Kennedy grace, and that Kennedy knack for covering one's tracks that they had come to know and admire. Chappaquiddick was, when you think about it, one of the sloppier Kennedy crimes and coverups. After all, the media will protect anyone for the good of the Socialist order, but they need something to work with. Rose Kennedy was probably the only person in the country who believed her son's explanation of his cowardice.

Still, as the liberal media's useful idiot in the Senate, especially on the judiciary committee, Ted's singularly odious brand of Kennedy self-righteousness and hypocrisy are particularly effective. Keep those conservative judges off the Supreme Court, Ted, and the media will continue to watch your back. For John's sake.

posted by Tom | 7/06/2004 07:54:00 AM
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