As a liberal, I don't get much of a chance to gloat these days. So let me just say this to the rabidly religious folk who wanted to deny Sen. Arlen Specter the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee: Ha ha, he he, hoo hoo, you lost again. And they say WE'RE the sore losers.
It won't be official until January, but Specter has apparently sweet-talked his way back into the hearts of enough GOP senators that he'll get the chairmanship. He scared the be-Jesus out of the religious right when he said he thought it was "unlikely" justices who were determined to overturn Roe v. Wade would be confirmed for any openings on the Supreme Court.
Specter is pro-choice, but you never know what he'll do. Even though he played a major role in getting rid of dangerous right-wing Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, he voted for Long Dong Silver aficionado and current Justice Clarence Thomas. Sounds like one of them flip-floppers to me.
A Republican friend of mine recently told me there's no way women will lose the right to choose in this country. This is a false assumption on her part and a lot of people share it.
A somewhat comforting analysis was recently offered by USA Today, which pointed out that even if current Chief Justice William Rehnquist croaks, he's already an abortion opponent, so replacing him with another one won't tip the balance. The analysis continues, "[I]t would take two or three committed abortion opponents, replacing justices such as O'Connor and John Paul Stevens -- who show no interest in leaving -- to uproot abortion rights."
So maybe we're OK in the short term. Here's what worries me: the out-and-out greed of these religious right-wingers. They want all or nothing. They will not stop until abortion is outlawed, homos are hanged, liberals are lynched, and Pat Robertson is president.
"It is a betrayal and a slap in the face to millions of pro-life Americans who helped re-elect this president," whined Christian Defense Coalition Director Patrick Mahoney. Excuse me? What about the millions of pro-choice voters in Pennsylvania who voted for Arlen Specter with the expectation that there might be someone there to fight the rising tide of nutbags in the GOP, which has come to confuse itself with GOD?
Religious zealots are now threatening to run former Congressman Pat Toomey, who damn near beat Specter in this year's primary, against one of their beloved, Sen. Rick Santorum, because Santorum has at least pretended to support Specter.
A caller to Rush Limbaugh recently declared that Specter's "seniority should not subvert the will of the people, and I think we've made it very clear. We value life at all stages." (Unless it's the stage in which someone dies in the electric chair or an innocent civilian dies in Iraq. But that's another column.)
The Senate has rules, and the rules say the senior guy gets to be chairman. But today's Republicans are starting to make up the rules as they go along. They used to have a rule that any party leader would have to step down if indicted. Now they've changed that rule, because House Majority Leader Tom Delay may soon be indicted for allegedly funneling campaign money to elect more state legislators in Texas. That money allowed him to control election-district gerrymandering, which helped him elect more Republican members to Congress.
When Republicans made up the rule 11 years ago, they were trying to draw attention to Democratic leaders accused of improprieties. But it doesn't count when it's one of them.
The rules on filibustering in the Senate go back decades. But a Democratic filibuster could prevent an extremist judge from getting on the Supreme Court, so Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is thinking of changing the rule.
As in the stolen election of 2000, Republicans make up and/or change the rules as they go along, yet have the arrogance to always claim the moral high ground. They say you can't win 'em all, although these bastards are coming close. But not this time. Once again, the doom-and-gloomy Toomeys must choke on the specter of Specter. As Chris Mathews would say, "HA!"
Dear God, please give residents of the U.S.A. better-functioning olfactory glands. Please let them wake up and smell the theocracy. Before it's too late.