Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

More Flashback Fun with Fox’s Star Commentator

From CNN:

But it’s apparently not the first time O’Reilly has used the term to describe illegal immigrants from Mexico. According to a report in the Jan. 5, 2003 edition of The Morning Call of Allentown, Penn., O’Reilly criticized the Immigration and Naturalization Service for not keeping “the wetbacks” out of the U.S.

And from the Washington Post,

Members of the “Best Men,” as the sixth-to-eighth-grade boys in the program are called, were delayed getting onstage to perform a lip-synced rendition of the Four Tops standard “Reach Out (I’ll Be There).” O’Reilly ad-libbed: “Does anyone know where the Best Men are? I hope they’re not in the parking lot stealing our hubcaps.”



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Rounding Out the List

16. Justice Henry Billings Brown: For authoring the majority opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which not only lead directly to the “separate but equal” doctrine, but played a major role in enshrining Jim Crow.p>17. John Adams: For signing the Alien Act of 1798 and the Sedition Act of 1798. Partly, it was directed at the French and French sympathizers (war with France was looming), but mostly it was a purely political play against the Jeffersonians. Adams should have known better-he signed the Declaration of Independence (but not the Constitution)

18. George W. Bush-For convincingly demonstrating that his father and Ronald Reagan do not belong on this list.

a. Erosion of civil liberties-detention without council or charges, for citizens!

b. Massive deficits

c. Unilateral war under false pretenses. Seriously, I’m guessing that a good chunk of conservatives might read this: what harm could Hussein have done to the United States of America? Clearly, I know he could and did do substantial harm to his own people, but my question concerns an imminent threat to the life and liberty of citizens of the USA.

19. Helen Kendrick Johnson, author of the influential anti-suffrage book, Woman and the Republic, which did a lot to delay women’s’ suffrage. From Johnson’s conclusion:

Woman is to implant the faith, man is to cause the Nation’s faith to show itself in works… Woman Suffrage aims to sweep away this natural distinction, and make humanity a mass of individuals with an indiscriminate sphere. The attack is now bold and now subtle, now malicious and now mistaken; but it is at all times an attack. The greatest danger with which this land isa threatened comes from the ignorant and persistent zeal of some of its women. They abuse the freedom under which they live, and to gain an impossible power would fain destroy the Government that alone can protect them. The majority of women have no sympathy with this movement; and in their enlightenment, and in the consistent wisdom of our men, lies hope of defeating this unpatriotic, unintelligent, and unjustifiable assault upon the integrity of the American Republic.

20. Nice thing about America–it’s tough to find 20 who were both influential enough and sufficiently misguided or malevolent to be on a “worst in history” list.

I could rattle off many other figures from American History that I dislike or find annoying, but they really don’t deserve the “Worst” appellation. G. Gordon Liddy didn’t affect history enough to make the list. Ollie North probably believed he was doing the right thing.

Many other names crossed my mind: Orville Faubus; Henry Kissinger; Billy Graham; Pat Robertson; Tom DeLay; Jerry Falwell; Geraldo Rivera (ok; Geraldo almost made #20); Dick Armey; Cap Weinberger; Ken Starr; Ed Meese; Trent Lott; Rick Santorum; John Poindexter; virtually the entire NeoCon crew from Perle to Wolfowitz; Cheney; Rumsfeld; Reagan; Schlafly; Coulter; Limbaugh; Clan founders Captain John C. Lester, Major James R. Crowe, John D. Kennedy, Calvin Jones, Richard R. Reed, Frank O. McCord (all veterans from the losing side of the Civil War); Birth of a Nation Writer/Director D. W. Griffith; and surely many more. My apologies if I left you off the list.

All of these “dishonorable mentions” annoy me and virtually everything they say or do is wrong, but I found them to be too historically trivial or not sufficiently malevolent to be list-worthy. Faubus, as well as the Clan founders, are almost list-worthy, but by expressing their views in such ridiculous fashion they actual aid the forces that oppose them. The opportunistic Faubus standing on the doorsteps of Little Rock’s Central High School was a great boon to the Civil Rights movement. The Clan? Just a bunch of evil sore losers-I couldn’t waste six spots on those clowns.

As for the political hacks in the dishonorable mention list, half of them are just expressing views I disagree with–deeply, deeply, misguided views. But political views nonetheless, so they don’t really belong on a “worst in history” list. The other half are just saying whatever they think will bring in another buck, and that’s the nature of Capitalism-an institution I happen to like. Basically, they’re misguided, annoying, or opportunistic, but not really “worst”.

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That’s Nice

Washington — The White House quickly backpedaled Thursday on Pentagon plans to cut the combat pay of the 157,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan after disclosure of the idea quickly became a political embarrassment.

The Pentagon’s support for the idea of rolling back “imminent danger pay” by $75 a month and “family separation allowances” for the American forces by $150 a month collapsed after a story in some editions of The Chronicle Thursday generated intense criticism from military families, veterans groups and Democratic candidates seeking to unseat President Bush in 2004.


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Be Angry Bear for a Week Contest Update

We have our first contest winner, an economist specializing in macroeconomics and international trade. But there’s still room for more. Get those entries in soon.


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God in The Courtroom, Not in Tax Policy

One Alabaman, Chief Justice Roy Moore, refuses to take a Ten Commandments display out of a state courthouse, saying

“We have a federal judge saying we can’t recognize who God is, yet that’s the basis of our justice system. They have the audacity to come into our court and say we have to remove the foundation of our law, which is the Ten Commandments…I have no intention of removing the monument. This I cannot and will not do.”

The smart money is on Judge Moore announcing in the near future that he’s either writing a book or running for statewide office.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s Republican Governor, Bob Riley, is using appeals to Christian notions of fairness and justice in an attempt to garner support for his plan to deal with Alabama’s $675m deficit by simultaneously increasing taxes and making the state’s tax system less regressive. Needless to say, The Christian Coalition of Alabama opposes Riley’s plan. (For the full Alabama tax story, go here).


The two issues may be more closely related than they appear. The same story says that Moore said that the state has spent $125 million defending the monument’s place! I don’t see how that’s possible, but that’s what the Fox News story says.

UPDATE: To clarify, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is an elected position, so my prediction that Moore will be “running for statewide office” is not particularly bold. What I mean is running for the Senate or the Governor’s office.

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Eleven Through Fifteen

Again, I reiterate that this list is not ordered. While tomorrow’s list-makers will be the least “worst”, those in spots 1-15 on my list are just plain terrible and I didn’t try to make any distinctions based on the degree of loathsomeness.

11. Timothy McVeigh, terrorist–For killing 168 Americans.

12. Herbert Hoover: Not everyone who gets a town (or many towns shanties) named after them is admirable. First, he signed the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act. Really, If I can’t count on Republicans to at least back free trade then what are they good for? Hoover unwisely decided that the best solution to the burgeoning Great Depression was to sit back and let the business cycle proceed without intervention. I could forgive that, but signing the Hawley-Smoot Act was the height of folly.

13. Richard Mellon Scaife: Cooky billionaire who funds just about every institute or institution that annoys me-from bribing Arkansan Troopers to funding AEI, Heritage, Hoover, Cato (actually, I like Cato. They generally have a line and they stick to it, criticizing politicians who cross their philosophy, with little concern for the ramifications. Contrast that the AEI economists’ basic silence on Bush II’s expansion of Big Government), Free Congress Foundation, the American Spectator, and a host of conservative institutions and investigations. Amazingly enough, he’s the glue that gives credence to Hillary Clinton’s vast right wing conspiracy.

14. Strom Thurmond: The longest filibuster in Senate history (1957, just over 24 hours) trying, thankfully in vain, to block passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Thurmond “Blue Slipped” black and pro-civil rights judicial nominees. But most of all, he makes the list for making me feel like a jackass for being from the South. Here’s a clip from his party’s platform back when he ran for president:

We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one’s living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.

We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting and local law enforcement.

We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive to the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national origin in appreciable numbers.

15. Andrew Jackson. For signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830: This act lead directly to the marches along the path called the Trail of Tears: Between 1838-39, 14,000 were marched 1,200 miles through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas…about 4,000 died on that trail.


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If He Wasn’t Going to Run Before…

this should do the trick:

After all, his likely candidacy is all about ego, not about getting any policy he could possibly support enacted.


P.S. I like Conason’s take:

The San Francisco Examiner reports that Nader “hurled the pie back, striking a bystander,” which serves as a perfect metaphor for Naderite politics).

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Rice Watch Day 24

Rice recently made a direct analogy between the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and the current efforts to create a self-governing and democratic Iraq (“The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East”). The Wyeth Wire gives a little historical context to Rice’s views on the intersection between the military and civil rights.


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Interest Rates, Deficits, and Unemployment Likely to Rise

Do I have some exciting new data or theory to back up this claim? No. It just seems to be the natural consequence of every gathering like this:

Treasury Secretary John Snow, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, budget director Joshua Bolten, Bush’s top economic advisor Stephen Friedman, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and others will put their heads together with Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.


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