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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Wednesday, December 31, 2003
   
         
         
   

"New Year" by Moment

How burn the stars unchanging in the midnight skies,
   As on the earth the old year dies!
Like leaves before the storm, so haste our lives away;
   Eternal God, to Thee we pray.

For all Thy mercies past we lift our hearts in praise,
   Thy care that crowned our fleeting days;
Our follies and our sins, O Lord, remember not,
   Lost hours when we Thy love forgot.

From age to age Thy love endures; Thou art our God.
   Send now Thy flaming truth abroad,
That with the New Year’s dawning right may conquer wrong,
   Grief yield to joy, and tears to song!

John J. Moment (b. 1875)

Masterpieces of Religious Verse (1948), ed. James Dalton Morrison, # 271.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/31/03 07:27:36 PM
Categorized as Literary & Religious.


   
   

Dean Is Just Like Bush; Almost; Sort Of

And he's a prickly pear. Or something like that.

Oh, I don't know: you tell me.

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode LXXIV

I have spent some time debating with myself whether I should blog this entire fawning article on Howard Dean, at NYT, Dec. 28. As you shall see, I have decided that I should do it: it's the sort of article for which the New York Times should be held up for ridicule & opprobrium, starting (at the earliest) in late 2004. But they won't be: they and their comrades in the liberal media establishment will be more than happy to launch down the memory hole, as far as they can do so, the multitude of ways in which they fawned over Mondale Dukakis Dean. (Even his manifest faults are portrayed in the most positive light that can be mustered.) That's why I'm putting this here.

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December 28, 2003
CHALLENGING BUSH

From Patrician Roots, Dean Set Path of Prickly Independence

By RICK LYMAN

The Park Avenue building where Howard Dean grew up has a neurologist's office on the ground floor and a church just behind. His mother, Andree Maitland Dean, is eager to emphasize that the family's three-bedroom apartment there is not luxurious.

"Look around," Mrs. Dean said in a recent interview, gesturing at the quarters where her boys grew up. "Howard didn't have the least bit of a glamorous upbringing."

Explaining that every time she had a baby, the dining room would serve as a bedroom for the newborn and his nurse, she concluded, "I don't think we could even keep up with the Bushes."

Like her son, Mrs. Dean chafes at the notion that the family lived the kind of privileged existence that many associate with America's current first family — despite the striking similarities between the two families that even a cursory look reveals.

George Walker Bush and Howard Brush Dean III are from opposite sides of the nation's political fault line. Yet besides energizing the left wing of his party, Dr. Dean has some Republicans worried that the characteristics he shares with President Bush could appeal to swing voters, especially when Dr. Dean's current image as a Vermont liberal is leavened with details of the fiscally conservative way he governed Vermont for 11 years.

The two are sons of established blueblood families dominated by powerful fathers. They attended top prep schools and Yale. And they settled far from traditional power enclaves, reinventing themselves as archetypes of their chosen new homes, President Bush in swaggering Texas and Dr. Dean in outdoorsy Vermont.

They were known for hard-partying, hard-drinking in their youths, but those days ended when they simply gave up alcohol as adults. Each man's character was shaped by the loss of a sibling: for the president, a sister who died of leukemia at age 3; for Dr. Dean, a younger brother who disappeared in 1974 in Laos while on an around-the-world trip.

And although each has a distinct political style, as governors they developed reputations for carefully bridging the political divide between liberals and conservatives, a skill that has thus far eluded them on the national stage.

Other, deeper similarities are apparent only to those who have spent significant time with each man: temperaments prone to irritation; political skills that play better in small groups than on television; rock-solid confidence in their own decisions.

In addition, each man is seen as being his own worst enemy on the campaign trail, President Bush for mangling his English and fumbling answers, Dr. Dean for creating unnecessary crises by speaking his mind too swiftly.

Too much can be made of these similarities, of course. Certainly Dr. Dean, 55, and his family feel it is misleading to tag them as Bushlike bluebloods, despite the fact that they own a Park Avenue apartment and an East Hampton country house.

"I don't hide who I am," Dr. Dean said. "I am not in the least bit embarrassed about how I grew up. But, now, it wasn't quite as opulent as everybody might think."

Even so, the comparison is instructive — and not only for the likenesses it reveals. The two men's paths diverged in the fractious, culture-shaking heart of the 1960's.

After a post-high-school year in England in 1966, Mr. Dean shrugged off many trappings of his background, including the Republicanism that his father preached at home. He grew his hair long, experimented with marijuana, played guitar and harmonica, switched from khaki to denim, cut his hair short again and emerged liberal, antiwar and resolutely Democratic.

His life also took a critical turn away from the Wall Street career that his father had desired for him. In deciding to study medicine, he was inspired by a zeal to help others that grew out of the political ferment of the era and was fueled by the mysterious disappearance of his brother Charlie in the jungles of Laos.

Hays Rockwell, a former Episcopal bishop of St. Louis who was Mr. Dean's wrestling coach at St. George's prep school in Rhode Island, attributed his shift toward liberalism and medicine mainly to the times, saying, "It was just what was going on in the 60's."

Ralph Dawson, a roommate at Yale, echoed that opinion, saying: "Howard was moving leftward and rebelling. We were all rebelling from the straitjacket that society had us in in those days."

Dr. Dean's brother Jim senses the added influence of losing Charlie. "We didn't talk about it," Mr. Dean said, "but I think that after that, he understood better than I did that life is not infinite."

Two Different Images

The image that has formed of Dr. Dean since he exploded onto the national scene last spring is of a passionate bulldog, an antiwar liberal who has almost magically tapped into the angry heart of a Democratic Party tired of feeling disenfranchised.

The truth is more complicated.

Dr. Dean opposed the war in Iraq, but he had otherwise been quite supportive of President Bush's antiterrorism initiatives. And his liberal credentials are belied by a long-standing predilection for political moderation and fiscal conservatism in Vermont.

The image of Dr. Dean as a Park Avenue patrician is also unlike his image in Vermont as an unpretentious, penny-pinching homebody. But there is little doubt that his family's wealth and position have played a significant role in his life.

All told, for instance, Dr. Dean's parents have given him and his family nearly $1 million in cash gifts over the last two decades, including a single gift of $200,000 in the early 1980's. And his wife's parents gave the couple $60,000 in 1985 to help them pay $161,700 in cash for the family's house on Burlington's south side, freeing the couple from monthly mortgage payments.

The Deans have amassed a nest egg of about $4 million, not including the value of their house, despite an annual income that has never exceeded $170,000. Some of it is in land — nearly $700,000 worth, plus the Burlington residence — but the remaining $3.24 million is in cash, bonds and a handful of conservative stocks.

His blunt style, which has endeared him to legions of supporters eager for a Democratic version of the Washington-bashing anti-politician who has proved so successful for Republicans, can be misread as a lack of political sophistication.

"He's very matter-of-fact," said Peter Welch, a Vermont state senator and longtime ally." He's very unadorned, very quick. He's not particularly reflective, so he comes across as less studied than he is. But he has great political instincts, good at sizing up people and situations. Howard was always two or three moves ahead on the chessboard."

No question, Dr. Dean's blueblood credentials are impeccable. But even in prep school he struck classmates as unpretentious and not materialistic. "He was not the least bit snobby," said Rick Kessler, a scholarship student at St. George's who said he became quite attuned to the tone of condescension from rich classmates.

Mrs. Dean sees her son's unpretentiousness as something he learned at home, pointing out that her own parents taught her to treat people in an egalitarian way.

"When I was growing up," she said, "we didn't even treat the servants like servants."

Her husband — also Howard B. Dean — rented their Upper East Side apartment for $200 a month after World War II. He eventually bought it, she said, for $9,500.

On his death in 2001, he left his widow an estate of around $7 million.

For the most part, Mrs. Dean said, her four boys — Howard, Charlie, Jim and Bill — lived most of their childhoods in the Hamptons. The boys rode bikes. They played with a model train set. They built elaborate underground forts.

While his parents were active in the exclusive Maidstone Club, an East Hampton institution that for decades refused to admit blacks or Jews, the Dean boys shunned that life. "I had plenty of friends at Maidstone, and they were people I liked," Dr. Dean said. "But it wasn't what I wanted to do. It wasn't that interesting."

For high school, Mr. Dean went off to St. George's, a boarding school near Newport, R.I., affiliated with the Episcopal Church.

In the yearbook, he described himself as "a solid conservative defending the powers of the Student Council and lashing out at cynics and opponents." Anyone wanting to know him, he said, needed to be "the curious type who can put up with a temper."

A Life Changing Trip

Mr. Dean's transformation from a bright, somewhat feckless son of privilege into a goal-driven family man began, his mother believes, in the year he spent in England after graduation from St. George's.

Dr. Dean says his mother may be right, though he remembers the biggest change coming after he entered the politically charged atmosphere of Yale in 1967.

His brother Jim also noticed the change after England. "His hair was hanging down over the top of his ears," said Mr. Dean, a former marketing executive now volunteering full time on the campaign. "He had on those boots, you know, like the Beatles used to wear, and wire-rim glasses. He wasn't a hippie, but it was definitely a new look and a different feel."

Of course it was a transforming experience, Dr. Dean said. He was 17, far from home and on his own for the first time. Mr. Dean made new friends at the Felstead School, which he attended in England, including an emir's son from northern Nigeria. He and some other students hitchhiked around Europe, spent Christmas break in Tunisia, slept on the floor of the Gare du Nord in Paris and, in a particularly memorable episode, drove overland to Turkey, passing through the Iron Curtain twice.

Mr. Rockwell, who was spending the year as a chaplain at Oxford, had dinner one evening with Mr. Dean, who was surprised by the anti-American sentiments he had encountered in England, especially concerning the Vietnam War. "Nobody in Howard's life had ever said anything critical of the United States," Mr. Rockwell said.

When he entered Yale in the fall of 1967, Dr. Dean asked to be paired with black roommates. One of them, Mr. Dawson, was a scholarship student from South Carolina. He says he remembers a very organized, nice guy, but saw no hint of a budding politician. "At some point, I forget how, we found out about his background," Mr. Dawson said. "We'd work him over a little bit about it."

Dr. Dean said there was never any discussion at home about his having requested black roommates. "My perception was that my parents didn't care," he said. "Yes, there was sort of this casual racism, in terms of the racist expressions that were used by that generation. But in all, I think my family was pretty open-minded about different kinds of people."

Years later, he remembers, his parents were immediately accepting of his decision to marry Judith Steinberg, even though it was highly unusual for someone from his family background to marry a Jew.

In fact, his mother said, she and his father discussed Ms. Steinberg's heritage, but decided they really liked her and felt she would have a calming effect on their determined but sometimes scattered son.

"We decided, well, he was never going to belong to the Maidstone Club, anyway."

Told later of his mother's comment, Dr. Dean took a moment to soak it in. "She said that?" he finally asked, barking out a hearty laugh. "She's like me. She says whatever comes into her head."

At Yale, social activities dominated his life, at least the first two years.

"I was a little wild," Dr. Dean said. "You know, you say things that are inappropriate and you wish you hadn't said them. I do that enough without drinking, so I didn't need the help."

In a 1974 letter recommending Mr. Dean for pre-med classes, a Yale professor, Peter Brooks, tried to explain what had happened to the clearly bright young man in his first years at the university.

"I judge that these years were for him a time of somewhat undirected personal experimentation," Mr. Brooks wrote. "The trying out of various commitments and ways of life with the generosity and energy that characterize him, but without much sense of what it all meant."

After Yale, having received a medical deferment from the Vietnam draft because of a long-standing back condition, Mr. Dean meandered and resisted Wall Street's pull. He spent 10 months skiing and working odd jobs in Aspen, Colo. When the spring snows melted in 1972, he returned to New York.

"People used to follow their fathers onto Wall Street," Mrs. Dean said. "That's the way it was done."

He began as a stockbroker's assistant and, two years later, was helping manage a small mutual fund. "He was damn good at it," Mrs. Dean said. "But I don't think it ever gave him any satisfaction."

Mr. Dean decided to become a doctor after working at a Denver hospital and then volunteering in the emergency room at St. Vincent's in New York. His disappointed father took the news well.

For one thing, Mrs. Dean said, she and her husband were amazed by the straight A's Mr. Dean got in the classes he was taking to qualify for medical school. He was studying, falling in love — he met Ms. Steinberg at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, where they attended medical school — and finding direction.

"Howard is a very solid resident, a good teacher, intellectual in his approach, who performed well in his third year," said the doctor who evaluated him in 1981. "His major problem continues to be one of impulsiveness."

Dr. Dean and Dr. Steinberg opened their joint practice in an old creamery in Shelburne, which is just south of Burlington. They had two children: Annie, who is now at Yale; and Paul, who is in his senior year of public high school.

Always a Few Steps Ahead

Still in the midst of his residency at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, Dr. Dean was spotted by a local Democratic leader, Esther Sorrell, and brought into the fringes of the party.

In 1980, he worked on Jimmy Carter's re-election campaign. Soon afterward, he wandered into a presentation by a University of Vermont professor, Thomas Hudspeth, about revitalizing Burlington's waterfront with a bicycle path.

"Howard came up after the presentation and said, `O.K., let's do it,' " said Rick Sharp, a lawyer.

The three men formed the Citizens Waterfront Group, to secure a nine-mile stretch of land along Lake Champlain for the path.

"I remember Howard at the time was very good at sizing up people," Mr. Hudspeth said. "He'd cut to the chase, every time. He'd say, `Let's don't bother with that guy, he's too contentious, we'll never convince him.' Instead, we worked on some other guy. Howard was always a few steps ahead."

Ms. Sorrell persuaded him to become the party's county chairman. In 1983, Dr. Dean was elected to the state legislature.

Even Republicans in Vermont acknowledge that on many issues — certainly fiscal ones — the Howard Dean of recent national fame is not the political animal they remember from his 11 years as governor.

"Mostly, voters here saw Howard as in the center of his party, perhaps even somewhere between his party and the Republican Party," said John Bloomer, a Republican and the minority leader in the Vermont Senate.

Dr. Dean is sometimes portrayed as an almost accidental politician. He did not give up his medical practice until 1991, when he became governor upon the death of Gov. Richard Snelling. Dr. Dean had been lieutenant governor, a part-time position he had held for nearly six years. But those closest to him said they had detected his growing political ambition long before then.

His reputation as governor — not unlike George W. Bush's — was as a bridge between the state's political wings. In style, though, he was quite different from the Texas governor, who constantly preached political tolerance and made regular genuflections to Democratic power brokers in the legislature. Governor Dean was blunt and outspoken. He frequently upset his top aides by lashing out at aggressive reporters or snapping at political opponents.

The crisis that nearly cost Dr. Dean his governor's seat in 2000 — an uprising by conservatives and independents over his signing of a law legalizing gay civil unions — sorely tested his political skills.

"In a no-nonsense way, he made the tough decision," said Bob Rogan, who was Dr. Dean's deputy chief of staff at the time and now a top official in his presidential campaign. "And he didn't look back."

When conservative Democrats seemed as if they might drift into Republican ranks, Dr. Dean set up a series of meetings with them, dispassionately explaining his decision to sign the civil unions bill. He then let the crowd rail at him.

Then there are the questions about whether a man whose chief political experience has been running a governor's office has the skills to run the federal government.

"A C.E.O.'s skills are essentially the same, no matter the size of the company," Dr. Dean said. "Clearly, with the presidency, you've also got to deal with defense. But otherwise, the basic problems are the same and the difference is the number of zeroes in the budget."

That may be understating the difference, even close supporters believe.

"The governor's staff was maybe five or six people, plus clerical help, and only two or three of those are really close to you," said Dick Mazza, a veteran Vermont senator and an ally. "You have, what, one state police officer assigned to you? It's a lot different from being president of the United States."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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The Blog from the Core asserts Fair Use for non-commercial, non-profit educational purposes.

Think, Faithful Reader, of the mindset displayed here: not just of the politicians but of the press. They think it sets Dean apart from the high-and-mighty Bush family for his mommy to confess that they never treated the servants like they were servants.

The folks at NYT must have thought that sounds way cool. Way to go after the hicks in flyover country! average American! They're going to love this!

He might as well change his name to Howard B. Doom.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/31/03 05:41:50 PM
Categorized as Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode & Media & Political.


   
   

"Hillary Urges Dems to Take Back White House"

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode LXXIII

An article at the 1010 WINS website, Dec. 17.

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Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused the Bush administration Tuesday of nullifying the success of her husband's administration and urged party activists to retake the White House next year.

"I cannot even imagine four years of a second term of this administration, with no accountability and no election at the end," Clinton, D-N.Y., said.

Clinton, whom many Democrats consider a likely presidential candidate in 2008, headlined a Democratic National Committee dinner that raised $1 million for the party's campaign next year.

The former first lady said the Bush administration has overturned former President Clinton's work on protecting the environment, paying down the federal deficit and creating new jobs.

"I shouldn't take it personally. Because what (the Bush) administration was attempting to do was turn back the progress of the entire 20th century. They were not just after Bill Clinton -- they wanted to undo Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt," Clinton said.

"They were on their way to Teddy Roosevelt. It was a bipartisan right-wing extreme agenda," she said.

Florida Sen. Bob Graham urged the party to unite behind a nominee once a candidate emerges from the early primaries. Graham abandoned his own presidential campaign and chose not to seek re-election this fall.

"It will substantially weaken our chances of election next November if this primary process denigrates into a squabble among Democrats," Graham said. "None of the Democrats are our enemy."

Graham's comments appeared pointed at some of the harsh language used this week in the Democratic field of presidential candidates to describe former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has emerged as the front-runner.

Indeed, DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe made a request to the field of candidates, asking the party to fall in line behind a nominee once the primary voters choose a winner.

"Let's keep our eye on the prize. This is about beating George Bush," McAuliffe said.

Clinton's speech wrapped up an active day in South Florida. During a stop at a Coral Gables book store, hundreds of fans lined up for an autographed copy of her book, "Living History."

Clinton told reporters the capture of Saddam Hussein was "an accomplishment for our military forces and a real opportunity for the Iraqi people to get beyond the terror of his dictatorship."

"I'm just happy that he has been apprehended and will be put on trial for the crimes he committed," Clinton said before a long procession of well-wishers picked up copies of her book, first released in June.

Supporters began arriving nearly two hours before Clinton's appearance -- many wore buttons that read "Hillarynow.com", a web site started by Miami Beach activist Bob Kunst urging the former first lady to run for president next year.

Clinton has said she plans to serve out her full six-year term in the U.S. Senate, but fans like Robyn Tauber of Aventura still want to see her in the White House. Tauber told Clinton: "Whenever you run, we'll all vote for you."

"I don't think I'm going to vote in the election if she doesn't run," Tauber said later. "I don't like any of the men" in the Democratic field.

Clinton made appearances earlier in the day at a book signing event in Wellington and a fund-raiser in West Palm Beach.

(© MMIII Infinity Broadcasting Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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The Blog from the Core asserts Fair Use for non-commercial, non-profit educational purposes.

In light of this article, two weeks old, it looks like Dean was just playing to his base over the weekend.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/31/03 05:03:25 PM
Categorized as Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode & Political.


   
   

Anti-American Reporting: Not Just Homegrown in the USA Anymore

A couple of reports on the firing of a French reporter for revealing the anti-American bias in French coverage of the War Against Saddam Hussein.

First, from the International Herald Tribune, Dec. 29. (IHT is owned, at least in part, by NYT.)

Alain Hertoghe believes that in covering the Iraq conflict, French newspapers recreated "the war they would have liked to have seen." That meant concentration on the Vietnams and Stalingrads that didn't take place, he said, and so many more accounts of U.S. difficulties rather than advances that it was "impossible to understand how the Americans won."
For making assertions like these in a book called "La Guerre ΰ Outrances," subtitled "How the press disinformed us on Iraq" and published by Calmann Lιvy, Hertoghe was fired this month from his post as deputy editor at the Web site of La Croix, a respected Roman Catholic daily newspaper.
The newspaper's management justified the dismissal, Hertoghe said in an interview, by contending that the book demonstrated his opposition to La Croix's editorial line, damaged the reputation of the newspaper and the authority of its chief editors and questioned the professional ethics of some of the paper's staff members.
Hertoghe's book covers the performance of four national newspapers and France's largest regional daily over a three-week period in March and April. It contends that the coverage was ideological, in line with the French government's position opposing the United States, and that it was desirous of portraying a great catastrophe for the Americans....

I must admit to being puzzled as to why this would actually have needed to be demonstrated.

Second, an AP article at Yahoo! News, yesterday:

Reporter Alain Hertoghe's book accused the French press of not being objective in its coverage of the U.S.-led war in Iraq (news - web sites). His newspaper fired him.
The book, "La Guerre a Outrances" (The War of Outrages), criticizes the French reporting for continually predicting the war would end badly for the U.S.-led coalition.
"Readers can't understand why the Americans won the war," Hertoghe said in a telephone interview. "The French press wasn't neutral." ....

There's a lesson here for American mainstream media re: the presidential election campaign of 2004. Too bad for them that they're not going to learn it.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/31/03 04:43:24 PM
Categorized as International.


   
   

"Billionaire Soros, Independent Groups Target Bush"

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode LXXII

A fascinating — indeed, a very memorable — Reuters article at Wired News, Dec. 24.

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President Bush's most-feared political opponents for now may not be any Democratic presidential candidate, but a billionaire financier and anti-Bush advocacy groups with big-spending plans.

"Liberal special interests, led by billionaire currency trader George Soros, are raising millions in soft, unregulated money to defeat President Bush," the Bush campaign says in an Internet posting.

Bush has already raised more than $110 million for his primary campaign, in which he has no challenger, far outstripping any Democratic rival.

Campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said anti-Bush groups threaten to spend as much as $400 million, justifying the Bush's primary-season goal of raising a record $170 million, largely through a network of major supporters who funnel donations to the campaign.

But campaign finance experts say there is little chance of Bush being outspent. "The Bush campaign is raising money hand-over-fist. He has the aura of the incumbency and the power of the presidency. He's in the catbird seat," said Celia Wexler, research director of the Common Cause good-government group.

Along with Soros, the Hungarian-born financier who has pledged $12.5 million to ensure "we can write off the Bush doctrine as a temporary aberration," another chief target of Republican ire are independent political groups such as the Internet-based MoveOn.org.

The group has raised nearly $7 million to run ads attacking Bush, and launched an anti-Bush television ad contest which has drawn more than 1,000 submissions from the public.

Groups such as MoveOn.org are banned from coordinating activities with any party or candidate. But they have gained prominence under last year's McCain-Feingold campaign finance act which ended unregulated "soft money" donations. Democrats had relied on soft money to help claw back a Republican advantage in individual donations.

"They have the potential to do an incredible amount of damage," said Scott Reed, a Republican consultant with close ties to the White House. He said the independent groups could run "over the top" ads attacking Bush with political impunity, and there was little financial accountability.

He suggested Soros may be seeking "payback" for the Iraq war, reflecting business interests in France and Germany.

INDEPENDENT GROUPS

Soros pledged his money to two independent political groups -- MoveOn.org and America Coming Together. "My contributions help to ensure that the money spent on trying to re-elect President Bush doesn't overwhelm the process," he said in a Washington Post opinion piece earlier this month.

Soros said he was "deeply concerned with the direction in which the Bush administration is taking the United States and the world."

The Bush team's fund-raising appeals sharply criticize such efforts and accuse the independent groups of raising money overseas. "To beat these billionaire liberals and the flood of foreign money they're encouraging, we need your help today," an e-mail solicitation read.

MoveOn.org founder Wes Boyd said the groups accepts no foreign donations and defended the group's methods. He said its donors have no expectation of access to a successful candidate, unlike those who donate directly to a campaign. "There's no strings attached," he said.

The Center for Public Integrity government watchdog group said independent committees from across the political spectrum have raised $32 million this year, although the Soros-backed America Coming Together had yet to report.

Wexler said it was too early to judge how effective the groups would be. The Federal Election Commission is expected to issue guidelines in February on their political activity.

Conservatives have also used independent political groups and are doing so again this year. "They're playing catch-up ball," after waiting for the Supreme Court's December ruling upholding the campaign finance reform legislation, Reed said.

The conservative Club for Growth has run ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the nation's first major nominating contests take place, attacking front-running Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited.

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The Blog from the Core asserts Fair Use for non-commercial, non-profit educational purposes.

Yes. Fascinating. And memorable. On several levels.

First, this article pretends, even in the headline, that these groups are "independent". But that is only a legal fiction: they were founded by, and are run by, hard-core Democratic political operatives. Is there no obvious, official connection to the party or any candidate? Smoke and mirrors. Just like when even I refer sometimes to "mainstream media" and sometimes to "the Democratic Party" when to refer to either is really referring to conjoined parts of a greater whole.

Second, this article shows not the slightest hint of a trace of outrage that money is being poured by the truckload into a political race. Isn't money corrupting? And, the more money, the more the corruption? Oh... wait... money must corrupt politics only when it comes from conservatives. I guess that means that liberals are incorruptible. Who'dathunkit?

Third, this article is bilgewater. The only effect Soros et al. might have on the general election is to get more votes for George W. Bush. But mainstream media will continue to pump bilgewater like this article right up until election day next November. ("Think we've scared those stupid Republicans enough yet?") After they've spent a couple of months recovering from their strokes, heart attacks, and binge drinking in the aftermath of the election, some Democrats will start to wonder if maybe this Soros thing was really such a good idea. After a few more months, or a few years, some of them will actually figure out that it worked to the advantage of the Bush re-election campaign.

Indeed, this is a good time to you remind you, Faithful Reader, that one of the key reasons we have the Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode is that they believe their own lying propaganda.

But, the most fascinating and memorable part of this fascinating and memorable article is this one sentence: "Democrats had relied on soft money to help claw back a Republican advantage in individual donations." Individual donations are/were capped at IIRC $1,000 or $2,000 dollars. In other words, this article is admitting that Republicans have had the advantage in getting donations from politically committed individuals, while Democrats have been getting theirs from political action committees and suchlike (a.k.a. special interest groups).

They slipped that in there, casually and subtlely, in the middle of the article so nobody would notice. But, hey, noticing little things like that is why you read The Blog from the Core, isn't it, Faithful Reader? :-)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/31/03 03:11:45 PM
Categorized as Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode & Political.


   
   

Which Letter is a Load of Pure Mush-Brained Platitudes?

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode LXXI

NYT has published, yesterday, six letters in response to Jim Wallis' column, Dec. 28.

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To the Editor:

In "Putting God Back in Politics" (Op-Ed, Dec. 28), Jim Wallis discusses the difference between Democrats and Republicans regarding religion but doesn't make a crucial distinction: God and organized religion are not necessarily the same thing.

The religion of the right is a political institution concerned more with exercising power over social behavior than with Jesus' anticonformist teachings of justice and compassion.

The separation of church and state, a tenet dear to most Democrats, provides for freedom of religion and inclusiveness. Its erosion under the present administration increases the politicization and polarization of religion and the exclusion of those who disagree.

Rather than engage the right on religious ground, Democrats need to support aggressively the social and personal values that their leaders in the past have espoused and many of us find lacking in the Republican agenda. That would be a truly moral stand.

MAUREEN W. ARMOUR
Naples, Fla., Dec. 28, 2003

To the Editor:

Re "Putting God Back in Politics," by Jim Wallis (Op-Ed, Dec. 28):

I'm one of those Southern Democrats who started as a Democrat, spent several years voting Republican, and five years ago came back to the Democrats for good. I realized that there were too many stands the Republicans have that don't coincide with my religious upbringing and the morals and principles I was taught were right.

My faith affects the choices I make in life. I hope the same is true for our elected officials.

SHARON FORD
Canton, Miss., Dec. 28, 2003

To the Editor:

Jim Wallis's Dec. 28 Op-Ed article speaks to me as a lifelong Democrat and Christian. It reminds me of what the theologian H. Richard Niebuhr said in his lectures at Yale: we all have a right to views of the Absolute, but none of us have a right to absolute views.

If politicians would heed that principle, they might avoid the arrogance too often associated with religion in political rhetoric. Better for us all the humility that begins, "It seems to me that the Bible says..."

DONALD W. SHRIVER JR.
New York, Dec. 28, 2003
The writer is president emeritus, Union Theological Seminary.

To the Editor:

Jim Wallis ("Putting God Back in Politics," Op-Ed, Dec. 28) suggests a new approach that could be helpful both for the Democratic Party and for America. Unfortunately, the leadership of our party shows neither the imagination nor the courage to take up such a challenge.

NICHOLAS CLIFFORD
New Haven, Vt., Dec. 28, 2003

To the Editor:

Re "Putting God Back in Politics," by Jim Wallis (Op-Ed, Dec. 28):

I agree that the Republicans have claimed the religious high ground in contradiction to their policies. The "Christian right" has always seemed to me an oxymoron. I would say that to be a Christian who takes the teachings of the religion's founder seriously precludes membership in today's Republican Party.

The current occupants of the White House, whatever they call themselves, have consistently chosen mammon and Caesar over God.

MARVIN BARRETT
New York, Dec. 28, 2003

To the Editor:

Jim Wallis (Op-Ed, Dec. 28) asserts that "Democrats deprive Americans of an important debate" by "withdrawing into secularism" and cites the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of the effect of religious belief on the public sphere.

But Dr. King was not an elected official. He is the perfect example of how an individual's religious beliefs can have dramatic public effect.

The fact that religion should be kept out of the business of state does not mean that it should be kept out of our varied national discussions. It means only that the government should have nothing to do with it.

ALICE D. MICHTOM
Ithaca, N.Y., Dec. 28, 2003

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How about that? Wallis tries to tell Democrats that they're giving over a huge area of human experience to the Republicans. With one exception, the responses from those readily identifiable as Democrats (unless that party happens to be too moderate for them) can be summed up as either (1) no, we're not or (2) yes, and we darn well should.

BTW, if you answered the opening question with the letter from the president emeritus of Union Theological, you were quite right, Faithful Reader. :-)

(Thanks, Amy.)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/31/03 02:50:44 PM
Categorized as Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode & Political.


   
   

Some Goober Named Jim Spencer Thinks Most Americans Are Ignorant, Fearful Bigots

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode LXX

A delightful — I mean that quite sincerely — a simply delightful column in yesterday's Denver Post, by somebody who surely still wonders how in the world Ronald Reagan ever managed to beat both Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale.

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My gut tells me to look for and publicize the failings in the married lives of the individuals pushing so hard for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

My heart tells me that if I do, I'll be as bigoted and self-righteous as they are.

My head tells me it wouldn't matter anyway.

This debate, spearheaded by bills introduced in Congress by Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard and by lobbying campaigns by groups such as Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, defies anything as transparent as personal hypocrisy.

As we head into an election year, many conservative politicians and religious groups vow to make opposition to gay marriage an abortion-like litmus test in national, state and local votes.

These groups would like you to believe this issue is about saving families.

It's not. For gay people, marriage and child-rearing are about the same things that matter to heterosexuals - love and commitment.

If gay marriage is allowed to wag the dog in this election season, it will do so because some people equate homosexuality with deviance.

The thought of men making love to men and women making love to women makes a lot of Americans uncomfortable. Some 49 percent of those surveyed in a recent New York Times poll believed homosexual relations between adults should not be legal. Roughly 61 percent favored laws banning homosexual marriages and 55 percent supported a constitutional amendment to that effect.

The poll clearly shows disapproval, but that feeling pales next to the other emotion at work here.

Fear.

Some of us look at gay couples and ask, "Could this be me? Could this be my children?"

It doesn't matter how many doctors say sexuality is the product of science rather than socialization. In the end, too much of our reaction to homosexuality is visceral and negative. That means it is easily exploited.

The gay marriage amendment promises a solution to our ambivalence that it cannot deliver.

Constitutional amendments are rare, simply because they are so important. Musgrave and Allard and their willing accomplices, guys like Colorado congressmen Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo and organizations such as Focus on the Family, are trifling with the foundation of a document that finds its greatness in including, not excluding, minorities.

But the real problem for the gay marriage bashers is that the U.S. Constitution won't protect families any better than the laws passed by dozens of states, including Colorado, enshrining marriage as the union between and a man and a woman.

Musgrave has bragged to conservative publications about her role in getting Colorado to adopt that legal definition.

So how good is family life in Colorado and around the country?

Fewer than 10 percent of all Americans are divorced. In Colorado, it's 11 percent.

Nationally, the 2000 census found 1.2 million Americans who said they lived with a same-sex partner. That same enumeration discovered 21.5 million divorced Americans and 9.7 million heterosexuals living together out of wedlock.

Two weeks ago, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that "the number of births to unmarried women reached a record high of 1,365,966 in 2002."

The numbers show we need constitutional amendments to ban divorce, co-habitation and unmarried motherhood long before we need a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

But the point here is the futility of any such moral arbitration.

One of the best parents I know is a twice artificially inseminated lesbian.

Sometimes I forget about her sexual orientation. But there's no way to overlook her love and commitment to her two boys.

The children have the kind of home training that ought to be the envy of anyone who claims to revere "traditional values."

Meanwhile, American soldiers die in Iraq.

Osama's still out there.

North Korea has The Bomb.

So do India and Pakistan. And they hate each other enough to use it.

American tech jobs fly to foreign countries faster than you can say overseas outsourcing, while illegal immigrants fleeing poverty need temporary work visas to draw them into the U.S. tax system.

Tens of millions of people in this country have no way to pay for health care.

Public colleges and universities teeter on bankruptcy because of budget cuts.

Too many Johnnies still can't read.

And yet, conservative politicians and religious groups hope to convince us that what matters most this year when we cast our vote is sexual insecurity.

Shame on us if we let them.

Jim Spencer's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in The Denver Post. Contact him at jspencer@denverpost.com or 303-820-1771.

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Let's take it one step at a time, as far as I can stomach to go.

Does Spencer's "gut" tell him that, for instance, when filthy rich Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Jay Rockefeller rail against tax-rate cuts for everybody because it will hurt government spending for the poor that he should investigate the personal lives of Sens. Kennedy and Rockefeller and determine where their money comes from and where it goes? And why?

These groups would like you to believe this issue is about saving families. It's not.... Gee. Who appointed this goober the arbiter of what issues are about?

The thought of men making love to men and women making love to women makes a lot of Americans uncomfortable. Some 49 percent of those surveyed in a recent New York Times poll believed homosexual relations between adults should not be legal. Roughly 61 percent favored laws banning homosexual marriages and 55 percent supported a constitutional amendment to that effect.

How... quaint. The moral, theological, philosophical, and medical considerations that have guided society's views of marriage for millennia are dismissed as... discomfort. The thought that a man of this intellectual magnitude actually has a column in a large newspaper makes me uncomfortable. How about you?

The gay marriage amendment promises a solution to our ambivalence that it cannot deliver. What ambivalence is this goober talking about? By his own statistics, he admits that a clear and decided majority of Americans oppose "gay" "marriage". He probably thinks Reagan's 49-state-electoral-sweep was the result of widespread indecision on the part of the electorate.

Oooooh. Get ready, Faithful Reader. Here it comes: some of the most shameless, mindless intellectual hypocrisy you're going to see. Today, at any rate.

So how good is family life in Colorado and around the country? Fewer than 10 percent of all Americans are divorced. In Colorado, it's 11 percent. Nationally, the 2000 census found 1.2 million Americans who said they lived with a same-sex partner. That same enumeration discovered 21.5 million divorced Americans and 9.7 million heterosexuals living together out of wedlock. Two weeks ago, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that "the number of births to unmarried women reached a record high of 1,365,966 in 2002." The numbers show we need constitutional amendments to ban divorce, co-habitation and unmarried motherhood long before we need a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Wow. Did you catch that? Banning "gay" "marriage" won't help marriage because marriage is already in such trouble because of divorce, "cohabitation", and single parenthood. But... but... but... haven't liberals been telling us for 25, 30, 35, 40 years and more that what this country really needed to make marriages better was.... easier divorce, less "rigid" sexual "taboos", and individual freedom? Now, the end results of what liberals argued for, and fought for, and legislated (often from the bench) for, are finally admitted to be — not the solutions they were trumpted as — but the problems they actually are. And that is why we shouldn't have a "ban" on "gay" "marriage"!

This is bald intellectual dishonesty. And it's really, really dumb, too, to admit that your side has been the wrong side for so long. (But he probably doesn't even see that he has done so.)

Well, all I can say now is — Goober, keep it coming!

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 12/31/03 02:31:01 PM
Categorized as Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode & Political.


   

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