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Wednesday, July 3

TAPPED, EN VACANCES. We wanted to let our readers know that this is going to be our final post until Monday, July 8. We're going to be taking some time off for the 4th of July weekend, and technical stuff is happening to our server in the meantime that would prevent any posting in any case. But we wanted to leave you with what had to say today about patriotism and dissent. We recommend in particular that you check out columnist Matt Miller's thoughts and those of Prospect senior correspondent Wendy Kaminer; you also might want to sample the interview with Howard Zinn. Have a good holiday. [posted 12:40 pm]

MORE ON STEVEN HATFILL. Slate's Eric Umansky also says that Nicholas Kristof's "Mr. Z" is "almost assuredly" Steven Hatfill. And here's some more news: A South African wire service claims that Hatfill was affiliated with the Afrikaner Resistance Movement's (AWB) leader Eugene Terreblanche while in South Africa. The AWB was the far-right white supremacist movement that vowed to fight to the death to preserve apartheid. Their most memorable moments included driving an armored vehicle into the South African "World Trade Centre" at Johannesburg airport in 1993 in order to disrupt negotiations about elections. In addition, AWB leaders have since confessed to attempting to poison Soweto's water supply with cyanide in 1993, and have admitted detonating several bombs in the weeks prior to South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

Both the South African and Rhodesian governments of the 1970s and 1980s were well-known for attempting to use biological and chemical weapons against black liberation fighters who they viewed as "terrorists." Hatfill's affiliation with Rhodesia's counterinsurgency Selous Scouts and the South African Defence Forces has already been reported. Both organizations are known to have murdered hundreds of their political opponents. [posted 12:10 pm]

GETTING THE ALLEGORY RIGHT. Washington is all abuzz about our "party animals" -- 800 pound statutes of elephants and donkeys, decorated by artists from around the country, that have brightened up the city. But in Tapped's windshield survey, there are some obvious themes missing. Here are some we'd like to see: Outside the Federal Election Commission, the symbols of the two parties should be covered with "soft money" -- Monopoly style perhaps. Outside the White House, a huge, fat bulging wallet should be firmly planted on the rump of an elephant, dressed in a pinstripe suit. Standing in a long line at the Capitol should be alternating animals -- all dressed in Gucci loafers. Outside the EPA, the SEC, and the FCC should be elephants or donkeys (it doesn't really matter) dressed as ladies of the night.

Oh, one more thing. Our favorite single animal is the elephant on the corner of 18th and Columbia in always rowdy Adams Morgan. One morning, the early-rising Tapped found that it had been tipped over by "activists" -- or was it "drunks"? -- the night before. We're just waiting to see what happens to it over the 4th of July weekend. [posted 12:10 pm]

BACK TO THE STATES. When all hope seemed lost on reducing the influence of big money in Washington politics, here comes some actual good news. USA Today tells us that the full public financing systems in place in Arizona and Maine are producing a bumper crop of candidates who -- imagine this! -- like spending their time talking to voters and not raising money! [posted 11:20 am]

THERE SHE GOES AGAIN. TAP's Noy Thrupkaew has a review up on our homepage of Men in Black II, which contains lines like this: "It takes a lot to make a pug unfunny." "MIIB is the kind of movie where people signify they are evil by raunchily running their tongues over their victims' faces." As these quotes suggest, you probably want to read the whole thing. [posted 11:10 am]

TAPPED RECOUNT. As promised, we have gone back and checked our web statistics for the month of June. Because we weren't comfortable with the numbers being generated by Wusage -- figures from versions 7.0 and 8.0 were quite different; we guess it all depends on the dangling chads in the log files -- we ran WebTrends. Using this service, we can now report figures for our entire site (not just Tapped) for the month of June: 161,025 unique users and 1,036,211 page views. Whew. And now that this recount is over, we think we're going to try growing a beard.... [posted 10:20 am]

BEST PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE JOKE. From the July 8 issue of The New Yorker (we can't find a link):

After a federal appeals court ruled last week that it is unconstitutional to make schoolchildren recite the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, we placed a call to Robin Williams, to hear his thoughts on the decision. "Why don't they change it to 'one nation under Canada'?" he said. "Or 'over Mexico'? That way, everybody's happy."
[posted 10:10 am]

AND SO IT BEGINS. President Bush got a little testy yesterday when reporters asked him about Paul Krugman's attack on his sale of Harken Energy stock. Previously, the media had given Bush and Cheney a free ride on the question of whether they can possibly serve as proper judges of adequate corporate stewardship. Now, however, there's significant political peril for the administration -- a danger that's well outlined this morning by Richard Stevenson in The New York Times. Stevenson suggests that, now that the Pandora's box has been opened, the corporate backgrounds of most of the administration's executives are likely to be scrutinized. We can't wait. [posted 9:55 am]

CONFUSED RADICALS. Bryan Preston draws our attention to this article by John Stanton and Wayne Madsen from, which he believes to represent potential insurrectionism coming from the left. We're not exactly sure why we should have to answer for the statements of others more extreme than we are (as Preston seems to imply), but we do have some comments on the item. First of all, it happens to have this unfortunate title: "Toppling a Totalitarian Regime in America: What Can Be Done?" That, needless to say, doesn't sound very democratic (or like a very good idea). Indeed, it remins us of the annoying radical posters that are always up on lamp posts in Tapped's D.C. neighborhood, Adams Morgan.

But hyperbole aside, in the actual article it's clear that the authors are actually talking about peaceful resistance to the Bush administration, or what they call a "nonviolent change-movement involving nationwide demonstrations." (Don't we already have one of those?) Though Tapped is not about to protest in the streets with these guys, we're not sure if what they're talking about amounts to "insurrectionism." Indeed, reading the piece, we got the impression its authors had managed to convince themselves that, by advocating non-violent protest, they would thereby become martyrs to their cause and punished by our repressive government. Hence the over-the-top Declaration of Independence analogies. Tapped suspects Stanton and Madsen will find themselves underwhelmed. [posted 9:25 am]

TRUE GREEN. The Sierra Club is running TV ads (scroll down) defending Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone in his upcoming re-election battle. On the other hand, other "greens" are trying to defeat him. We know who the real environmentalists are. [posted 7:50 am]

Tuesday, July 2

FACT CHECK ANN COULTER: THE SELMA LIE. Live by LexisNexis, die by LexisNexis. That certainly seems to be the case with Ann Coulter's latest book, Slander. Yesterday we exposed a blatantly false statement in her book about the use of the phrase "liberal Republican" in the New York Times, and today we expose another. Here is the relevant passage, from p. 199 of Slander:

Since abortion is not the left's proudest moment, liberals prefer to keep reminiscing about the last time they were giddily self-righteous. Like a senile old man who keeps telling you the same story over and over again, liberals babble on and on about the "heady" days of civil rights marches. Between 1995 and 2001, the New York Times alone ran more than one hundred articles on "Selma" alone. I believe we may have revisited this triumph of theirs sufficiently by now. For anyone under fifty, the "heady" days of civil rights marches are something out of a history book. The march on Selma was thirty-five years ago.

Tapped smelled a rat here. Maybe it was Coulter's repetition of the word "alone"; or maybe it was the fact that the famous 1965 "Bloody Sunday" march was from Selma to Montgomery, not a march "on" Selma. So we searched the New York Times archives on LexisNexis for the word "Selma" for the years 1995-2001. This produced 776 total hits. Of these, 424 were death notices, 18 were wedding announcements, 25 were other sorts of paid notices, 5 were in photo captions, and 234 were either: a) contents listings; b) people with the name Selma; c) references to Selma, California; or d) references to Selma, Alabama that had nothing to do with civil rights (b, c, and d includes letters and op-eds as well as regular articles). Of the remaining 70 items, in our judgment only 16 were centrally concerned with historic happenings at Selma from the civil rights era. The other 54 contained brief mentions of Selma and civil rights but appeared in articles on different topics. Once again, Coulter's dubious claim -- that "between 1995 and 2001, the New York Times alone ran more than one hundred articles on 'Selma'" -- is false. [posted 5:00 pm]

ANALYSIS: Another misdemeanor for Coulter. It's hard to tell whether this one resulted from deliberate deceit or incorrigible stupidity.

THE CORPORATE REFORM DEBATE. Tom Daschle and the Dems are pushing President Bush and his minions to move forward aggressively in the wake of repeated corporate rip-offs to press for strong accounting, pension, and white-collar criminal laws. A Senate legislative package will roll all these concerns into a ball, and then debate will begin next week. Where it will go from there and what will come out of conference is anyone's guess, but we suspecting that even if a reasonable Senate bill is passed, the battle will be joined. The House versions of "reform" look like stuff that could have been written by Enron's Ken Lay or WorldCom's Bernard Ebbers.

This is must-pass piece of legislation. We'd wager that the corporate lobbies won't let anything out of a conference committee until they get their favorite goodies in the final bill. They'll probably even try to make sure that the House-passed provision that permits companies to stop contributing to the 401(K) plans of their lower-paid employees -- while continuing to contribute to the retirement accounts of all their highest-paid executives -- stays in. Still, if Bush is put on the defensive by the Democrats, perhaps the House can be forced to accept what the Senate crafts.

Indeed, there are lots of ways to put the Republicans on the defensive here, including drawing firm connections between all of their numerous votes and proposals that more or less wrote a blank check for corporations to rip apart existing rules. We hope to see this -- and more injected -- into the Senate debate next week. [posted 3:40 pm]

WORLDCOM HOT POTATOES. Seems there's a huge rush now to give back campaign contributions from WorldCom. It's such a consistent pattern: Some corporate contributor gets into trouble and suddenly lawmakers want to get rid of the money -- and fast. Remember Enron? Lawmakers constantly claim that their campaign money has no impact on how they do the nation's business. But if it doesn't matter, then why the rush to dump the dough? [posted 3:00 pm]

FLYING UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Miami international airport received the highest rating in the country for detecting fake weapons when the Transportation Security Administration released data yesterday. It seems that Miami only let 6 percent of fake bombs, guns, and knives through security checkpoints (compared to 41 percent in Los Angeles). But the skilled Miami screeners don't stop at weapons. The Miami Herald reports that security screeners smelled alcohol on the breath of two America West pilots yesterday and reported them to airport police. The plane, headed to Phoenix, was pulling back from the gate when police ordered it back. The pilots were arrested and the confused passengers were left waiting for other flights.

Breathalyzer tests revealed that pilots Christopher Hughes and Thomas Cloyd had blood alcohol levels of .091 and .084, respectively. Anything above .08 is considered legally drunk in Florida. America West's corporate office says that they will fire the pilots if the allegations prove to be true. The scariest thing is this note from the Miami Herald story: "Arrests of drunken pilots are rare, but not unprecedented." [posted 2:45 pm]

FACT CHECK ANN COULTER: THE "GORE LIED" LIE. Today's first installment concerns Al Gore's reputation as a lying, exaggerating braggart, gleefully perpetuated by Ann Coulter in her new book, Slander. Coulter eeks out impressive mileage from Gore's supposed lie about having been "the inspiration" for Love Story, Erich Segal's 1970 bestselling-romance-novel-turned-Oscar-nominated-film. She refers to the alleged Love Story lie a whopping four times in Slander -- on pages 145, 154, 159, and 160. But this one has been debunked by Eric Boehlert in Salon, Bob Somersby in the Daily Howler, Robert Parry in The Washington Monthly, and Sean Wilentz in TAP.

The truth is that Gore was the inspiration for the book's hero, Oliver Barrett IV, according to Segal. Segal's reported "denial" of Gore's claim was no denial at all. Speaking to the New York Times's Melinda Henneberger for a follow-up story, Segal said that Oliver Barrett was based on Gore and his Harvard roommate, actor Tommy Lee Jones. He only denied that the female lead, the fiery musician Jenny Cavilleri, was based on Tipper Gore. And even that wrong detail was not Gore's mistake.

What actually happened? On a late-night plane ride in late 1997, shooting the breeze with Time's Karen Tumulty and the Times's Rick Berke, Gore mentioned that the main characters in Love Story were based on him and Tipper. At any rate, Gore said, that's what Segal had told the Nashville Tennessean years ago on his book tour. Segal met Gore and Jones when they were students at Harvard together and Gore was dating Tipper, then a student at Boston University. Tumulty reported this comment in Time but neglected to include in her story the fact that Gore had said explicitly that his only source on Love Story was what the Tennessean had reported some seventeen years prior. But the Tennessean, it turned out, has misquoted Segal, who had said nothing about Tipper.

In Henneberger's follow-up, Segal himself defended Gore: "Al attributed it to the newspaper...They conveniently omitted that part. Time thought it was more piquant to leave that out."

So did Coulter.

ANALYSIS: It's a small detail, but Coulter uses it so often -- and so flagrantly disregards the truth -- that we're giving this one an above-average score. [posted 11:40 am]

TAPPED ADVANCES THE ANTHRAX STORY. The Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has a provocative column this morning about the FBI anthrax investigation, in which he observes that "Some in the biodefense community think they know a likely culprit, whom I'll call Mr. Z. Although the bureau has polygraphed Mr. Z, searched his home twice and interviewed him four times, it has not placed him under surveillance or asked its outside handwriting expert to compare his writing to that on the anthrax letters." Later, Kristof goes even further:

There is evidence that the anthrax was released by the white Rhodesian Army fighting against black guerrillas, and Mr. Z has claimed that he participated in the white army's much-feared Selous Scouts. Could rogue elements of the American military have backed the Rhodesian Army in anthrax and cholera attacks against blacks? Mr. Z's résumé also claims involvement in the former South African Defense Force; all else aside, who knew that the U.S. Defense Department would pick an American who had served in the armed forces of two white-racist regimes to work in the American biodefense program with some of the world's deadliest germs?

Writing in The American Prospect Online, Laura Rozen has reported that one Steven J. Hatfill, a bioweapons scientist, had his apartment searched by the FBI in connection to the anthrax investigation. Rozen's profile also connects Hatfill to Rhodesia:

Hatfill's longer biography is riddled with gaps where classified projects presumably belong. The son of a thoroughbred horse breeder, Hatfill was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1953, then raised in Illinois. He studied biology at small Southwestern College in Kansas, taking a year off midway through to work with a Methodist doctor in Zaire. He graduated in 1975, married in 1976, had a daughter, and got divorced in 1978. From 1975 to 1978, he served with the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, while simultaneously, his resume says, serving in the Special Air Squadron (SAS) of the white supremacist regime in Rhodesia. He attended medical school in Rhodesia from 1978 to 1984, and then moved to South Africa, where he completed various military-medical assignments while obtaining three master's degrees, studying for a doctoral degree, and practicing in a South African clinic.

"After graduating from Southwestern College," he wrote his alumni newsletter, "Hatfill received a medical degree from the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Rhodesia, with board certification in hematological pathology from South Africa. The South African government recruited him to be a medical officer on a one-year tour of duty in Antarctica, and he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford University in England…His military background includes the United States Army's Institute for Military Assistance, the Rhodesian SAS, and Selous Scouts [Rhodesian counterinsurgency forces]."

There is something curious about Hatfill's claim, on his resume, to have worked concurrently with the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance in Fort Bragg and with the Rhodesian Special Air Squadron. Indeed, several of his associates have told the Prospect that Hatfill bragged of having been a double agent in South Africa -- which raises some intriguing questions. Was the U.S. military biowarfare program willing to hire and give sensitive security clearances to someone who had served in the apartheid-era South African military medical corps, and with white-led Rhodesian paramilitary units in Zimbabwe's civil war two decades earlier? Or did Hatfill serve in the Rhodesian SAS, and later in the South African military medical corps, at the behest of the U.S. government?

It sure sounds like Kristof and Rozen are talking about the same person. [posted 11:40 am]

AN EXCELLENT KRUGMAN COLUMN. He explains a form of balance-sheet fraud common to Enron and Harken Energy, of which George W. Bush served as CEO in the late 1980s. If only the investigative reporters would really get on this the way they undoubtedly would have during the Clinton years. Say, what's Jeff Gerth doing these days? Slandering another Los Alamos employee? Overblowing an Arkansas land deal? [posted 10:55 am]

ORRIN HATCH, SPINNING MADLY. In this Washington Times op-ed which, claims that only by confirming more of George W. Bush's nominees can we ensure that no evil courts will ban religion, yadda yadda yadda. Read our lips: The judge who wrote the opinion on the Pledge was a Republican, appointed by Richard Nixon. Is this really so hard? [posted 10:30 am]

LIKE, DUH. What do you get when a) Americans demand tighter regulation of business; b) six out of ten believe such regulation is "necessary to protect the public"; and c) by a slight margin, Americans also believe Democrats can do more than Republicans to hold large corporations accountable? A campaign issue. The finding of this Washington Post-ABC News poll are particularly interesting when they are stacked up against a long term trend in which the public favors Republicans to handle economic issues. [posted 9:05 am]

PLEDGE RULING: "OUTRAGEOUS." 9/11: "UNPLEASANT." Why do conservatives persist in comparing the Pledge of Allegiance ruling to 9/11? Unlike Cal Thomas, Malcolm Wallop doesn't come out and say the Pledge ruling was worse. But he has no problem equating them:

To say the court's ruling is outrageous is like saying the sinking of the Titanic was unfortunate or that the events of September 11th were unpleasant.

A general rule for aspiring op-ed writers: If something involves massive death and suffering, and something else does not, comparing them closely might not be such a good idea. [posted 8:55 am]

SAD. Reports from the developing Department of Homeland Security are that the two biggest problems -- the FBI and CIA -- will remain untouched as the new agency is created around them. "The decision will delay any significant revamping of the nation's intelligence system until at least next year, a marked shift in priorities since the Sept. 11 attacks," reports Walter Pincus in this morning's Post. Such revamping was deemed "too controversial" by Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate committee in charge of the reorganization. Does anyone give a hoot that it might also be necessary? [posted 8:35 am]

Monday, July 1

JOHN ASHCROFT, HYPOCRITE (REALLY!). In his freshman year as a senator, John Ashcroft introduced a constitutional amendment that would, he said, "restore the balance" of state and federal power. "Since the Constitution became the guiding document of our nation, we have seen a gradual erosion of state power," he argued at the time. "This erosion has caused a crisis of confidence in government which is a threat to our republic." Apparently this was only true when talking about congressional balanced budget amendments and term limits (two of Ashcroft's examples in 1996). But judging from this article in the Washington Post, when it comes to something as trivial as the death penalty, federal fiat is hunk-dory. The article examines Ashcroft's reviews of sentencing recommendations since taking office and found that Ashcroft has reversed the recommendations of local federal prosecutors twelve times.

Worse, in two cases Ashcroft overturned state laws -- in Michigan and Vermont, respectively -- banning the death penalty. (The former is an especially remarkable show of central government coercion, seeing as how the people of Michigan have rejected seven attempts to reinstate the death penalty since it was first banned in the state in 1846.) In three other cases, Ashcroft's decision went against state moratoria on the death penalty -- two cases were in Maryland and one was in Illinois.

(One senior justice department official compared this remarkable show of hubris to federal oversight of the Civil Rights Act, saying, "States do not have the option of opting out of federal death penalty law any more than they had the option of opting out of civil rights laws in the 1960s." Quite a juxtaposition considering the strong evidence that aggressive use of the death penalty is itself discriminatory -- evidence that in recent years prompted Maryland, Illinois, and Janet Reno's Justice Department to suspend capital punishment.)

Anyway, after watching the estimable Chris Suellentrop nearly give himself a hernia in Slate last week, searching for counterintuitive reasons not to dislike our attorney general, it's nice to see the CW prevail. [posted 5:55 pm]

WAR WARY. Yesterday David Broder reported that he's picking up some rumblings along the Democratic campaign trail that suggest that public support for the president's "war" on terrorism is waning. Criticize Broder if you will for his often conservative and insider-ish views of Washington, but laud him when he gets out there to take the pulse of the public and reports back to us what he's hearing. "If I have learned anything in four decades of covering politics," he writes, "it is to pay heed when you hear the same questions -- in almost the same phrases -- popping up in different parts of the country." An opinion piece in The Washington Times cites a poll that buttresses Broder's point: Only 1 in 3 Americans believe the U.S. is now winning the war on terrorism. Tapped hopes that leaders in Washington -- particularly the Democrats -- are getting the message. [posted 4:20 pm]

READ THIS. Tapped so admires Barbara Ehrenreich's reporting and writing that we simply must recommend this column, in which she uses the plight of Wal-Mart workers, beset by bosses who demand work without pay, to make a larger point about corporate America:

What has been revealed in corporate America over the past six months is a two-tier system of morality: Low-paid employees are required to be hard-working, law-abiding, rule-respecting straight arrows. More than that, they are often expected to exhibit a selfless generosity toward the company, readily 'donating' chunks of their time free of charge. Meanwhile, as we have learned from the cases of Enron, Adelphia, ImClone, WorldCom and others, many top executives have apparently felt free to do whatever they want -- conceal debts, lie about profits, engage in insider trading -- to the dismay and sometimes ruin of their shareholders.

In today's business world, it seems, workers lose both ways. They get ripped-off by the managers and laid off by the CEOs. [posted 4:20 pm]

GEARING UP FOR THE ELECTION. A note to our readers:

With the campaign season now upon us, American Prospect Executive Editor Harold Meyerson -- one of the nation's most respected and acclaimed political reporters and analysts -- is assuming the role of Editor-at-Large in order to provide more in-depth political coverage. In this position, he will also continue shaping the Prospect's overall political content and tone.

The 2002 election will be a major challenge for the progressive movement and the Democratic Party -- testing whether the Democrats have the smarts and the guts to exploit the Republicans' vulnerabilities on economic policy, or whether their own dependency on corporate funding will mute their attack. This election will also test whether the Karl Rove strategy to win over distinct groups within the traditional Democratic base poses a real threat to the Democrats' coalition.

"Few journalists have covered these issues more insightfully than Harold," says Prospect founder and co-editor Robert Kuttner. "In the upcoming campaign, he'll be reporting regularly on the key races that not only will determine who controls Congress and the statehouses, but that will illuminate the future of American politics. With Harold's new role, the Prospect will be offering its readers truly indispensable political coverage." [posted 4:10 pm]

ONE NATION, INDIVISIBLE (PART II). Forget the constitutional points for a second. When it comes to arguing over whether the U.S. is in fact "One nation, under God," let's take a look at the demographics. It has just come to Tapped's attention that this country seems to have grown significantly less religious over the past decade:

Evidence for this recent development is the survey published by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York American Religious Identification Survey, 2001, by Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar. This study finds a significant increase in the number of adult Americans who profess no religion. Today there are 29.4 million American adults who have no religious identification -- an increase since 1990 from 8.16 percent to 14.17 percent. Moreover, the number of people who reside in a household whose members do not belong to a religious organization has likewise increased, from 46 percent in 1990 to 54 percent today.

It must be granted that a preponderance of the public (if often only nominally) still self-identifies as Christian-77 percent in 2001, in comparison with 86.7 percent in 1990. Yet here, too, this is a 9 percent decline. Today those with no religion are the third-largest minority, after Roman Catholics (50.9 million) and Baptists (33.8 million).

Hey, with numbers like these, perhaps at some point soon even a politician will be willing to stand up for taking "under God" out of the pledge. [posted 2:15 pm]

CONSISTENCY, PLEASE. We don't get it. First, The Washington Post publishes a 4-part investigative series (starting here) on the boondoggle for business that the $8 billion clean up of the Everglades has become. Then, it offers a thoroughly mild-manner editorial urging the administration to write "strong and specific rules" to ensure strong implementation of the program. Doesn't the Post get a teensy bit nervous when draft regulations head to regulatory czar John Graham over at OMB for gutting (or review, depending on your perspective)? The notion that Graham will write regulations that work for the ecology of South Florida -- as opposed to ones that work of the kind of corporate folks who've supported his work over the years -- is laughable. [posted 1:10 pm]

THE OXYMORON CANDIDATE? Forgive us, but we just can't imagine a rip-roaring Al Gore. [posted 1:10 pm]

FACT CHECK ANN COULTER! On page 15 of Slander, she writes: "In the New York Times archives, 'moderate Republican' has been used 168 times...There have been only 11 sightings of a 'liberal Republican.'" Coulter does not footnote her methodology in "discovering" this nugget, but we checked using both the Times's own free search page and Lexis-Nexis. Our results? Our Times search reveals twenty-two hits for "liberal Republican" since 1996 -- that is, in just the last seven years. For Lexis, we searched for "liberal Republican" in The New York Times over "all available dates" -- and got 524 documents. Coulter's claim is obviously false. But stay tuned -- Tapped spent all weekend reading Slander and there's lots more to come.

P.S. We also have another non-Slander error, courtesy of reader J.O. In Coulter's latest column on, she writes:

If Arabs were being stopped at airports before Sept. 11 -- and that's a big if -- that was probably wrong. There had been only one terrorist attack here in America by Arabs -- the bomb at the World Trade Center in 1993. (This is excluding Sirhan Sirhan, the first Muslim to bring the classic religion-of-peace protest to American shores, when, in support of the Palestinians, he assassinated Robert Kennedy.)
But Sirhan Sirhan was, in fact, a Christian of Arab descent, not a Muslim. For a relatively recent source on this, you can check out the historian Godfrey Hodgson's 1995 review of Dan Moldea's The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy in The Washington Post. We found it on Lexis, but a quick Google search led us to the citation. Hey, Jonathan, is Coulter phoning it in or what? [posted 1:00 pm]

IF TAPPED COULD MAKE YOUR BROWN EYES BLUE. Tapped just received a free press copy of the latest issue of Worldwatch magazine, published by the WorldWatch Institute. The issue, which it isn't even online yet, is titled "Beyond Cloning: The Risks of Rushing Into Human Genetic Engineering," and the content is punctuated by commentaries from such distinguished biotechnology skeptics as Francis Fukuyama and Bill McKibben. (For the record, The Prospect's Chris Mooney has criticized both, here and here.) Needless to say, this Worldwatch special issue seems like the next big push to unite right and left in their opposition to new genetic technologies.

In his introduction to the issue, WorldWatch editor Ed Ayres begins by mentioning "our provocatively blue-eyed cover." "Huh?" we thought. So we flipped back to the cover, and sure enough, the WorldWatchers had doctored it so that the four people there depicted all have bright blue eyes. Indeed, they look like weird ringers from Frank Herbert's Dune. This is WorldWatch magazine's way of warning us that, as Ayres continued, "with the growing popularity of plastic surgery, Botox, and -- soon, perhaps -- inheritable genetic modification, a face may not be quite what natural reproduction produced." So the complaint seems to be that, in the near future, our society may find itself opting for ocular Aryanism. How's that for "provocative"?

Well, sadly, it isn't provocative at all. Last we checked, human beings already have the ability to change their eye color. It's called contact lenses. Although this "technology" has been around for some time, there has been no mass shift in favor of blue eyes. And thank goodness! Tapped happens to be a fan of that great song by Van Morrison…..

There's a deeper point here. WorldWatch's approach to the issue of genetic engineering is to describe problems this technology could present through conceivable future applications. In other words, they're worried about the "slippery slope." Yet although as an institution WorldWatch claims to focus on "fact-based analysis of critical global issues," such speculation seems more like incautious prediction than fact-based analysis. One obvious result is a poorly thought-out cover for their magazine, one that attempts to scare us about future humans changing their eye color through genetic engineering but doesn't seem cognizant of the fact that they can already do it in a much simpler (not to mention cheaper) way -- and don't often bother. Spooky! [posted 12:50 am]

MORE CAL THOMAS HITS. From Gary Farber (who also has a nice Crossfire excerpt from two Dems defending the 9th Circuit on principle), Charles Kuffner, VodkaPundit, Ye Olde Blog, and DailyPundit. But where are the elected Republicans?

P.S. We're also told that Rush Limbaugh had a quote at the top of his page last week comparing the 9th Circuit judges to al-Qaeda. Yo, Ann, this one's for you, no? [posted 12:10 pm]

WHAT'S IN A NAME? We've no brief for Yasser Arafat. Typically, though, "democracy" means the people get to pick their leaders. George W. Bush doesn't seem to get it. But we guess that's what happens when you're elected by the Supreme Court instead of the people. [posted 11:55 am]

KAGAN'S MYOPIA One could go on at length about the distortions in Robert Kagan's ill-informed screed against the International Criminal Court. But we'll pick just two. First, like most critics of the ICC, Kagan vastly overstates the ease with which cases can be brought before the court so as to drum up nightmare scenarios:

In 1999, during the war over Kosovo, there were some in Europe, and in the United States, who accused the American military of war crimes when it bombed Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia. Starting tomorrow they would be able to bring charges against American soldiers at the ICC.
Has Kagan even read the ICC statute? Read it for yourself, concentrating on Articles 15 and 16; also check out the definition of "war crimes" in Article 8. It's not exactly a kangaroo court -- far from it, in fact. Then there's Kagan's whack at Bill Clinton:
When the treaty was being negotiated during the Clinton administration, U.S. officials recognized the inherent problems and looked for ways to provide American troops some protection -- such as giving the U.N. Security Council, where the United States has a veto, ultimate say. But Europeans rejected this "double standard" and opted for legal purity. And the Clinton administration, as some officials ruefully, if privately, admit, didn't try very hard to force the necessary changes. President Clinton's last-minute signature of a treaty his officials knew to be badly flawed was, shall we say, less than entirely responsible.
We're not sure where, exactly, was Kagan when the ICC treaty was being crafted in Rome. But TAP correspondent David Bosco was there; like most reporters, he witnessed the "pitched battles" the U.S. delegation fought to get changes made in the treaty. Few people who support the ICC, in fact, thought of the Clinton Administration as an ally. Anyways, read Eric Schwartz's pro-ICC piece in today's Globe. [posted 11:55 am]

BUSH, GESTURING WILDLY.... So now President Bush is mad at his CEO friends, and is considering a whole range of new ways to tighten the rules against them so that they can't continue to lie, cheat, and steal. Pardon Tapped's skepticism. The likelihood that any reforms Bush promises will get enacted by a business-friendly Congress -- or that they will be implemented by an anti-regulatory administration; or that that the conflicted head of the SEC, Harvey Pitt, will enforce them -- is somewhere between slim and nil. Or maybe Bush is planning to clean up the corporate mess the same way he's going to clean up toxic wastes.... [posted 11:25 am]

BRAZIL WON. Which makes this article by Benjamin Lessing that we published really, really relevant right now. [posted 11:10 am]

TAPPED IS HEARTBROKEN. That our frequent nemesis, Don Feder, is stepping down from writing his Boston Herald column. We know you probably shouldn't kick a columnist right when he retires, but after having witnessed Cal "The-Pledge-Ruling-is-Worse-Than-September-11" Thomas do it to Anthony Lewis, we don't feel quite so bad. In his farewell notice, Feder observes, "Like many writers, I never felt that I got it quite right. I was usually content with my efforts, but completely satisfied on only a few occasions." Hey, maybe that's because he never seemed capable of an even minimally satisfying definition of the "liberals" he repeatedly attacked! Feder now says he hopes "to establish a website where I can continue communicating to readers." Is he threatening to become a blogger? [posted 11:00 am]

JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW THIS... There's probably no better experience than running in a tight congressional race if you want to witness the influence of money in politics. And experts predict that the race to unseat incumbent Maryland Republican Connie Morella will be one of the most expensive in the country this year. The candidates know it. "The truth is ... this really does comes down to money," says Ira Shapiro, a well-qualified Democratic contender who's not likely to win, in part because he won't have as much as others running in the primary. [posted 10:40 am]

POPE CHENEY I. Republican spinmeister Frank Luntz recently explained the difference between meeting President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney on the fundraising circuit as follows: "It's the difference between meeting Britney Spears and meeting the Pope." (In case you're wondering, Cheney is the Pope-like figure.) The New York Times article in which Luntz was quoted marvels over Cheney's fundraising prowess, but Tapped imagines that, given his similarity to them, Cheney would be a natural when it comes to relating to corporate leaders. After all, he too ran a corporation just long enough to get out clean, with wads of cash, before the company headed south. (Ouch. That was harsh, wasn't it? Bad Tapped...) [posted 10:30 am]

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