Saturday, April 26, 2003


In the wake of the furor over Sen. Rick Santorum's remarks, we decided to visit the website for the National Organization for Women. There, they have an entry on the issue, calling for him to resign his leadership position. NOW complains about Santorum's remarks about feminists, liberals, and gays. But incredibly, they don't have a word about Santorum's belief that:
  • There is no constitutional right to privacy.

  • Griswold vs. Connecticut - which struck down prohibitions on contraceptive use by married couples - was a bad Supreme Court ruling.
Yes, they've missed an opportunity to challenge Santorum (and his defenders) on one of the most basic rights people think should exist.


Up, not down:

Bush wants to accelerate tax cuts for the rich and eliminate taxes on dividends (which pretty much only helps the wealthy). This has traditionally been known as "trickle down" economics. But Bush is promoting a different notion. From his radio address of 26 April 2003:
I believe we should enact more tax relief, so that we can create more jobs, and more Americans can find work and provide for their families.

Americans understand the need for action. This week in Ohio, I met Mike Kovach, whose business is in Youngstown, Ohio. Mike started and runs a growing company, wants to hire new people, and would benefit from lower taxes. Mike says, "Anytime you can improve the bottom line of mainstream business, it's good for the city, it's good for the state, and it's great for the nation. It all trickles up, instead of trickling down."

I urge Congress to listen to the common sense of people like Mike Kovach."



Army Secretary Thomas White forced out by Rumsfeld. One person named as a possible replacement is former Rep. Tillie K. Fowler (R - Fla.), who is a member of the Defense Policy Board - Richard Perle's outfit.

NOTE: Newt Gingrich is also on the board.


This is not satire:

Newt Gingrich recently issued scathing remarks about the State Department's handling of diplomacy in the period leading up to the Iraq war. In response, a top official, US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones said:
"Newt Gingrich does not speak in the name of the Pentagon and what he said is garbage."

"What Gingrich says does not interest me. He is an idiot and you can publish that."
But did you know this?

At the Gingrich Group website, they note an editorial in Forbes magazine by Steve Forbes:
Forbes pays tribute to Gingrich

In the latest issue of Forbes Magazine (March 31, 2003), Steve Forbes contends that Gingrich Group CEO Newt Gingrich would be the ideal candidate to oversee the re-structuring of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. In making the assertion, Forbes pays tribute to Gingrich's political skill and nimbleness, knowledge of history and "absorbent mind".
(Crackpots of a feather, gather together.)


Thursday, April 24, 2003

Well, we couldn't resist:

Bush Regime Playing Cards


! Wanted !


  • Looting Social Security trust funds
  • Taking the country to war under false pretenses
  • Ripping up the safety net
  • Eviscerating democracy
  • Strangling civil rights
  • Assaulting the New Deal
  • Being a partisan hack
  • Peddling economic snake oil
  • Perverting the Fourth Estate
We thought Bush should be the lowest ranking Ace.
Believe what we say, or Johnnie will get the Feds after you.
Smooth, poised, and vicious.
Knaves, the lot of them.
Powerful, but largely unknown.
Never met an activist conservative judge he didn't like.
Smooth talkers.
The moral/religious brigade.
Turn the television off if you see these folks.
We will dazzle you with our eloquence.
Their goal: Defund the federal government.
Attack dogs.
The bottom of the barrel

NOTE: A special thanks to the research department at busybusybusy who helped us with this project.


Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Don't blow it!

While we sympathize with gays and others on issues of privacy, we think the most potent aspect of Santorum’s comments were the attack on married couples.

Santorum believes:
  • The government should have the ability to regulate contraceptive use by married couples.

  • Certain sexual practices should be outlawed even for married couples.
The left will be foolish to concentrate on the gay issue (meritorious though it might be). But comments disparaging gays are issued on a near-regular basis by Republicans. So it's nothing new. And also, from a political point of view, gays are easy to dismiss by the right. But here we have the 3rd ranking Senate Republican saying that the government has a role in the bedroom of married couples. That's a huge demographic. Don't lose sight of it.

UPDATE: As expected Rush Limbaugh is framing the issue as one of gay outrage towards Santorum.


Tuesday, April 22, 2003

It's not just homosexual acts:

From the Santorum AP interview:
SANTORUM: I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And that includes a variety of different acts, not just homosexual.
SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold -- Griswold was the contraceptive case -- and abortion. And now we're just extending it out.

This is how conservatives defend Santorum. From Ramesh Ponnuru's posting in the National Review's The Corner:
... I don’t see where Santorum came out for the active, or even not-so-active, enforcement of anti-sodomy laws. Second, Santorum is not saying that governments should show no restraint in policing sexual morality. He is denying the existence of two particular restraints: a constitutional right to sexual freedom and a valid moral principle that prohibits the governmental policing of consensual sexual behavior. There may be all kinds of other reasons, both prudential and principled, for state governments to show restraint.
See? Even though Santorum said sodomy laws are "there for a purpose", and uphold "the basic tenets of society", he didn't say the words, "the laws should be enforced". That's a misdirect. There are millions of phrases that Santorum didn't utter in the interview. Come up with one that sounds nasty ("enforce sodomy laws") and then celebrate the fact that Sen. Santorum didn't say it (even though the concept is consistent with the Senator's beliefs). Brilliant!

The second approach is to write that "Santorum is not saying that governments should show no restraint in policing sexual morality", which is true, because he didn't say anything about showing no restraint or some restraint or a teeny bit of restraint. Santorum didn't say anything about restraint at all. Maybe he does believe governments should show no restraint. Who knows? But that doesn't stop Ponnuru from bringing in the topic of restraint and brushing off any concerns about enforcement by vague references to "prudential and principled" reasons for governments not to enforce the law. Not to enforce the law?   What kind of conservatives inhabit the National Review?

Unprincipled ones.


Monday, April 21, 2003

Of interest:

From the Guardian:
Sugar industry threatens to scupper WHO

The sugar industry in the US is threatening to bring the World Health Organisation to its knees by demanding that Congress end its funding unless the WHO scraps guidelines on healthy eating, due to be published on Wednesday.

The industry is furious at the guidelines, which say that sugar should account for no more than 10% of a healthy diet. It claims that the review by international experts which decided on the 10% limit is scientifically flawed, insisting that other evidence indicates that a quarter of our food and drink intake can safely consist of sugar.

The sugar lobby's strong-arm tactics are nothing new, according to Professor Phillip James, the British chairman of the International Obesity Taskforce who wrote the WHO's previous report on diet and nutrition in 1990. The day after his expert committee had decided on a 10% limit, the World Sugar Organisation "went into overdrive", he said. "Forty ambassadors wrote to the WHO insisting our report should be removed, on the grounds that it would do irreparable damage to countries in the developing world."

The industry does not accept the WHO report's conclusion that sweetened soft drinks contribute to the obesity pandemic. The Washington-based National Soft Drink Association said the report's "recommendation on added sugars is too restrictive". The association backs a 25% limit.

In the letter to [US health secretary] Mr Thompson, the sugar lobby relies heavily on a recent report from the Institute of Medicine for its claim that a 25% sugar intake is acceptable. But last week, Harvey Fineberg, president of the institute, wrote to Mr Thompson to warn that the report was being misinterpreted. He says it does not make a recommendation on sugar intake.


Sunday, April 20, 2003

First cut:

A provisional diagram. Look for updates.

Some somewhat related thoughts by Brad DeLong are here.


Republican crossing the Alps: