Saying "scumbag" before it was cool

Published February 28, 2001 2:26PM (EST)

Seeing red

[Re: stories on Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.]

Burton was the first to call Bill Clinton a "scumbag." Turns out, Clinton is a scumbag. Burton was into scumbag before scumbag was cool.

-- John Day, Florida

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

Anger management

Some reactions to Bush's address to Congress: Andrew Sullivan called it "uninspired but very smart." On Table Talk ("State of the Shrubbery: GWB's First Speech Before Congress"), a poster spoofs a probable Free Republic account: "And folks, he was awesome. Poised, dignified, personable, bold. A welcome breath of fresh air in the House chamber, after eight years of evil Clintoonery." Over on Free Republic, the response is actually even giddier. "His delivery was excellent, his message was smooth, the choreography was outstanding," wrote woofie (or was he referring to Brian Boitano, who was skating at the same time on A&E?).

"Clinton Corruption Plays Us for Fools -- We Won't Forget" (New York Observer)
In an editorial, the New York Observer comes out swinging against the Clintons over the pardon scandals, going so far as to suggest that Hillary Clinton, "had she any shame ..., would resign. If federal officeholders were subject to popular recall, she'd be thrown out of office by springtime, the season of renewal." (On, the Observer's pose draws some cynics: "It came across as typical lib-b!tchy and indignant enough to insulate the Observer from eight years of Clinton support.")

Longtime Clinton defender Gene Lyons, however, is still leading the charge, claiming that "contempt for Bill and Hillary Clinton borders upon the pathological" and referencing Free Republic (everyone is today) as an example. Freepers are grateful for the plug ("Thank you Gene Lyons ... keep up the good work!") and generally dismissive, as they are on, where in one thread a poster writes: "Contempt for Bill Clinton does not border upon the pathological. It's the only logical path."

Something Wiccan this way comes

Witches are still angry with Bush and his faith-based charities proposal, signing a petition that "includes Wiccans, Druids and a wide variety of earth religious faith groups." Red vs. Blue received the following letter:

As an American Wiccan who signed the petition, my concerns are threefold. Firstly, in spite of statements made by President Bush and his advisors indicating that fair implementation of the program will be a priority, they have already indicated that charitable programs operated by Wiccans and some other faiths will not be eligible for government money. Their only criterion for this seems to be that they do not approve of any religion but theirs or a religion large enough to make a political difference.

My second concern is that the initiatives themselves appear to seriously undermine the Constitution's all-important separation of church and state. This draws America ever closer to government dictating religion and validity of personal faith systems.

My third concern is the very real lack of respect the current administration is showing one of the largest religious groups in America. According to recent research by a major book chain, neo-pagans have between 13 and 19 million adherents in the U.S. These numbers were based on their book sales alone. This collectively makes us the second largest religious group in the United States. Bush is in dangerous political water if he dismisses our voting strength and our determination to stand up for our rights as citizens of the United States of America.

We deserve a full public apology from both the president and his staff. Before they make statements of this kind again, I would hope they will educate themselves as to who we are and what we really profess. The president of the United States has no business purposefully alienating any segment of our population.

-- Rev. Mary L. Wells, ShadowFire Tradition of American wicca

Other headlines

The Drudge Report ("USA Economy Grows at Slowest Rate in 5 Years")
BuzzFlash ("We Will Fight and Fight Hard, Daschle Declares")
The National Review's Jonah Goldberg ("Yes, Bill Clinton was corrupt. Get over it.")
The New Republic's Peter Beinart ("George W. Bush's administration will eventually find itself enmeshed in scandal as well.")

From Monday:

Singing the blues

OK, so I happen to like Bill Clinton. But seriously, I'm struggling to understand what the media hysteria and public dismay are really all about. The available facts seem far too incredibly thin to support the monumental structure of outrage. First we had the White House and Air Force One vandalism stories, for which no hard evidence but plenty of inflammatory allegations were reported. Finally, after weeks of scandal mongering, the current White House resident dismisses them as "a prank or two" and "completely untrue," respectively. Then came the reports of excessive gift taking, which when finally compared to other past presidents did not seem excessive after all, and this scandal simply runs out of steam. Now, lastly, we are engaged in the pardon abuse scandal. Just when this story was beginning to lose steam after it had been widely reported that A) the money had been paid back with fines, B) the law had changed and Rich would not now be charged criminally and C) many Jewish organizations and Israeli officials had lobbied on Rich's behalf, we were left with the final fact that the pardon was controversial because some did not think a fugitive merited a pardon.

Well, OK, but could any of us muster a lot of heat with that tiny log to fuel our fires? (Besides, who outside the Jewish community or New York had ever heard of Marc Rich before, anyway?) Then one of the most highly respected news organizations, whose headlines I enjoy reading while waiting in the grocery store checkout line ("Cockroaches Eat Hair of Sleeping Victims" is one of my past favorites), breaks the inflammatory story that Hillary's brother accepted a fee for lobbying on Rich's behalf. Once again we are presented with conclusive proof of the old adage "You can pick your nose, but not your relatives." Now that Bill and Hillary have made Hugh give the money back, what fuel will we need to continue to stoke our fires? OK, OK, let's see a show of hands now: Who has enjoyed a little guilty gossip fun? Who thinks there are still plenty of people who have entirely too much fun hating the Clintons? Who thinks that great gossip sells newspapers and magazines and gets the evening news ratings up? If this continues much longer, then I'm going to give serious credence to the idea that there is a sinister and serious bait-and-switch tactic being perpetuated on the American public. Is someone trying to distract our attention from examining in detail the tax cut proposal, the upcoming budget and legislative proposals that will alter reproductive rights, environmental policy and the separation between church and state? Or perhaps keep us from discussing the ugly election and making necessary electoral reforms? A last call for a show of hands: Who thinks we ought to get back to discussing and reading about the serious (albeit boring) problems that face our nation, and leave the gossip and scandal mongering in the grocery store checkout line?

-- Peggy Chowning

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

Anger management

Late media recount is bad news for Gore
USA Today reports Gore would have gained only 49 votes in Florida's Miami-Dade County if the undervotes had been counted, according to results from a joint venture by USA Today, the Miami Herald and Knight Ridder. "The results are a blow to Democratic claims that Gore would have won the election if a hand recount had occurred. Democrats had expected to net about 600 additional votes in Miami-Dade," according to USA Today. (But it's worth noting that the decision to count only undervotes has been heavily derided.)

This is only one blip of information from the different media outlets doing recounts in Florida, which carefully parse out their data when they can make a headline. Among conservatives, the latest news is being met with annoyance; in Free Republic's discussion of the story ("Bush Wins Florida Recount (Again ... Still)"), a poster asks: "So what will Carville & McAuliffe & Streisand & Clinton & Gephardt & Lieberman & Gore & & all the rest do and say now, after viciously promising for months that they would 'prove Gore won' & is the rightful President?" So we went over to and, sure enough, that site claims that the 49 votes for Gore have now "increased his statewide lead to 1,017" -- according to its accounting of all recounts, whether or not accepted by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris or the Supreme Court. And the partisans here wonder why the papers that did this recount are "spinning the story as proof that Gore LOST Florida," saying, "This pro-Bush spin looks like the handiwork of propagandist-in-chief Karl Rove."

Among witches, anti-Bush is sentiment brewing [Alternative Religions Educational Network]
According to a "Pagan Press Release on Faith Based Initiative," Bush could face opposition to his faith-based charities initiative of mystical proportions. "The Pagan community, which includes Wiccans, Druids and a wide variety of earth religious faith groups, feels that it has a lot more to fear [by faith-based programs]. The Wiccan community has often been brought up by government officials and the media as a challenge to the program. Many deem Wicca as a substandard religion without giving clarifying reasons for why it would not qualify in the program. Like many other faith groups, earth religious traditions have food pantries, prison ministries, and substance abuse programs in their communities. They are also committed to service in the area of social action in current secular and faith based organizations." The pagans have set up a petition on the AREN Web site, which already boasts "earth religion" luminaries such as "Rev. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Church of All Worlds; Rev. Wren Walker, Rev. Fritz Jung, The Witches' Voice, Inc.; M. Macha NightMare, Ritualist, Author, Pagan Organizer; Ellen Evert Hopman, Order of the Whiteoak (Ord Na Darach Gile)."

By Salon Staff

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