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Candide’s Latest: Thursday, October 26, 2006
Dixiecrats on the Stump
The face of a Democratic Congress

Here’s one untold story of the mid-term elections that’s finally gaining a bit of attention: when and should the Democrats overtake either congressional chamber, it’ll be thanks to the most conservative breed of Democrats since Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond sang Dixie together at their neighborhood whorehouse (before K street jammed up with its more modern breed of whores, better known as lobbyists). The LATimes: “[M]any of the Democratic candidates most likely to be elected are cut from a different cloth. Sixteen of them have been endorsed by the Blue Dogs, a coalition of conservative Democrats. Several used to be Republicans. Shuler was recruited to run as a Republican a few years ago but opted not to. […] With so many conservative-leaning candidates at the forefront of the Democratic effort, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has, at least for now, stuck to a minimalist agenda that steers clear of grand, liberal ambitions. Instead, Democratic leaders are focusing — and almost all serious Democratic candidates are campaigning on — a more limited, six-point agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, repealing tax breaks for oil companies, restoring college tuition tax breaks, cutting Medicare drug costs and other plans they believe could draw bipartisan support.” The Post, meanwhile, says it’s all about the war, and McClatchy newspapers say the GOP still holds a narrow lead in must-win Senate races.

What’s the Matter With Washington?

But in the end what will it matter? The lobbyists will still control the machinery. Before we forget, here’s how Thomas Frank opened his recent cover piece for the New Republic on lobbyists and lobbying, “The Ninth Circle of Washington Hell”: “You know you're getting close to the spectacular white office building at 101 Constitution Avenue when you start seeing lobbyists buzzing around like bees near a hive. With a little practice, the lobbyists are easy to distinguish from lesser drones: They are the ones who look like caricatures of prosperous men, dressed in a way that is no doubt meant to suggest "affluent businessman" but in which no proper businessman in Chicago or Kansas City would ever, in fact, dress himself. In most of the United States, male office-wear tends toward the drab; the lobbyist, by contrast, fancies himself Beau Brummell. He appears to choose each element of his ensemble for its conspicuous priciness, but to give no thought to the whole. You can spot him in the field by his perfectly fitted thousand-dollar suits, usually in blue; his strangely dainty shoes; his shirts, which are often the kind that come in pink or blue with white collars and cuffs, the latter of which display cufflinks of the large and shiny variety; his vivid, shimmering ties, these days preferably in orange or lavender; his perfect haircut; the tiny flag attesting to his perfect patriotism on his perfect lapel; his perfect tan.  One of the most arresting sights in Washington, D.C., is when you notice one of these fussily dressed and pleasant-smelling creatures out of their element--say, dragging their Tumi luggage down a broken sidewalk near the bus station in the 100-degree heat. But, here at 101 Con, they are right at home. They come striding into the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant and the air-conditioning is blasting and their teeth are exactly right and their ties jut gamely from their collars. The gang's all here, a bunch of real straight shooters, and they extend their hands to the committee chairman, and all the handsome fellows share a laugh together as they take their seats among scurrying waiters and huge vases of cut flowers.” Read the full article by the Author of What’s the Matter with Kansas

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Bush, Iraq, Iraq, Bush

In the United States, the front pages are focused on President Bush’s latest bloviations and equivocations and triangulations over Iraq (newspeak for the rape of Iraq, in one writer’s assessment). Abroad, the focus is on Iraqi prime minister Maliki’s repudiation of the Bush doctrine: “A FRESH rift opened between the Iraqi Prime Minister and his US backers yesterday when he bridled at American diplomatic and military tactics,” the UK Times reports. “Nouri al-Maliki, anxious to prove he is not a US puppet, criticised a heavy-handed American raid on the Shia militia stronghold in Sadr City, made without his knowledge. He also repudiated the US assertion 24 hours earlier that his Government has 12 months to quell Iraq’s nascent civil war. “This Government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it,” he said. President Bush responded by saying that American patience was not unlimited. He said that he would continue to push Mr al-Maliki into resolving Iraq’s security and sectarian troubles. But, he added: “We will not put more pressure on the Iraqi Government than it can bear.” Meanwhile, five more U.S. troops are killed in Iraq, bringing total to 96 in October.

CIA Tried to Gag EU on Rendition Flights

From the Guardian: “The CIA tried to persuade Germany to silence EU protests about the human rights record of one of America's key allies in its clandestine torture flights programme, the Guardian can reveal. According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in return, Berlin should cooperate and "avert pressure from EU" over human rights abuses in the north African country. The report describes Morocco as a "valuable partner in the fight against terrorism". The classified documents prepared for the German parliament last February make clear that Berlin did eventually get to see the detained suspect, who was arrested in Morocco in 2002 as an alleged organiser of the September 11 strikes. He was flown from Morocco to Syria on another rendition flight. Syria offered access to the prisoner on the condition that charges were dropped against Syrian intelligence agents in Germany accused of threatening Syrian dissidents. Germany dropped the charges, but denied any link. After the CIA offered a deal to Germany, EU countries adopted an almost universal policy of downplaying criticism of human rights records in countries where terrorist suspects have been held.” The full piece… 

L'Infame: Did He Blame Women for Rapes?

Australia is agog over its most-senior Muslim cleric’s Ramadan sermon, in which he blamed women for inviting rapes and suggested they’d be better off staying home or wearing the hijab. The cretinous cleric has since apologized, but this little furor isn’t about to die off so easy. Stay tuned: Candide’s Notebooks posts a counter-sermon on the matter this evening.

The atheist evangelist to the rescue: “There are really just two possibilities for Sam Harris. Either he is right and millions of Christians, Muslims and Jews are wrong. Or Sam Harris is wrong and he is so going to hell,” David Segal writes in the Post. “This seems obvious whenever Harris opens what he calls "my big mouth," and it is glaringly clear one recent evening at the New York Public Library, where he is debating a former priest before a packed auditorium. In less than an hour, Harris condemns the God of the Old Testament for a host of sins, including support for slavery. He drop-kicks the New Testament, likening the story of Jesus to a fairy tale. He savages the Koran, calling it "a manifesto for religious divisiveness." Nobody has ever accused the man of being subtle. Harris is straight out of the stun grenade school of public rhetoric, and his arguments are far more likely to offend the faithful than they are to coax them out of their faith. And he doesn't target just the devout. Religious moderates, Harris says in his patient and imperturbable style, have immunized religion from rational discussion by nurturing the idea that faith is so personal and private that it is beyond criticism, even when horrific crimes are committed in its name. "There is this multicultural, apologetic machinery that keeps telling us that we can't attack people's religious sensibility," Harris says in an interview. "That is so wrong and so suicidal."” See the full Harris…

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