THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE: A CyberZine #7, 24 January 1999

DAVID’S NOTES:

>>> Quite a chess game we got going here. Independent, objective Ken has gone and done it now. His calling Monica in for a grilling with the House Managers is a measure of his desperation. Oh, was it the other way ’round?

We saw Vermont Senator Pat Leahy on PBS a few nights ago, long before Ken pulled his latest trick, and even then Pat was so rip-shit-pissed he could barely contain himself.

>>> Senators and Representatives are saying that their email accounts are so swamped they are getting email messages two weeks late. Therefore, cease emailing your Representatives and use the phone.

>>> Once again Altoon Sultan’s reading brings more good recommendations. She writes to say: There’s another interesting article, a review of several books, in the NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS. It’s about the radical right, the Republican party and what’s happened to “The Class of ’94”–called “The Republicans’ War” and by Lars-Erik Nelson. Web address: www.nybooks.com.

>>> ATTENTION: COMPOSERS and MUSICIANS: Make sure you read to the end of this issue and find out what that kindly old teddy bear, Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, thinks about composers’ royalties.

>>> J.M.E. #7’s feature essay about Dennis Hastert is by Rachel Axelrod and follows here with a post-script on Hastert on the Arts. Rachel is looking for somewhere to publish this piece. Anybody out there have an idea? Contact her if you do.

—–

SLY AS A FOX: WILL THE REAL DENNIS HASTERT PLEASE STAND UP

by Rachel Axelrod (ionia2@yahoo.com)

Perhaps I was too gleeful about Speaker-Designate Bob Livingston’s [R – LA] resignation; perhaps I was distracted by the holidays; or perhaps I had just let down my guard, but it was not until reading the January 11th issue of THE NATION that an alarm sounded in my head about J. Dennis Hastert [R – IL], Speaker of the 106th Congress. Katha Pollitt made a passing reference to media portrayal of Hastert as a “paragon of geniality, honesty and fairness” [The Nation, 11-18 Jan 99, p.11] and noted his voting score of 8.3 % from the NAACP was worse than Livingston’s 16.7%. Pollitt then returned to her main topic – the impeachment – but I was stuck on Hastert, and the media’s presentation of him to the public.

What image appears when one thinks of J. Dennis Hastert? Right now, much of America envisions a man who is chummy and modest, a friendly midwesterner, a former wrestler and high school teacher, a father of two grown boys, raised in farm country. The more accurate image of a right-wing extremist; a rabid anti-choicer; or an evangelical Christian does not materialize in the mind’s eye. That latter image does appear, however, to many of us upon hearing names like Lott, Hyde, Barr, Livingston and Gingrich. Odd, when a little investigation reveals that Hastert’s voting history on a variety of issues is further to the right than that of all of the other aforementioned present or former Congressmen.

The media has virtually ignored this. Instead, they have introduced us to J. Dennis Hastert as “A lumbering man with an easy smile”[Washington Post, 5 Jan 99, p. A01], and have shared with us unassuming reflections from the new Speaker such as “It’s a very humbling experience…I’m just going to try to pull up every ounce of courage and strength to do the best job I can.”[Ibid.] Congressional colleagues eagerly encourage this cozy facade of Speaker Friendly, with comments like “People look at Denny and say, “This is a guy who might be running an auto parts store downtown” (Rep. Rick Lazio [R – NY]) [Ibid.]. While the Washington Post did briefly mention that Hastert is an evangelical Christian and a strong conservative, it quickly neutralized any negative impact by pointing out that “Hastert offers himself as an honest broker who respects the institution of the House” [Ibid.].

Shoving aside the warm fuzzies, Pollitt’s comment prompted me to do some research, and hopefully learn more about this man who is third in line from the Presidency. One of the first things I discovered was a little matter of chewing gum. As some may recall, there was some excitement last fall when someone discovered that an extra 1/4 million dollars had been tucked into the defense budge for an army experiment on the effects of nicotine chewing gum–line- itemed as “pharmacokinetics research.” Well, it just so happens that it was Hastert, with the help of his pal Tom DeLay [R – TX], who had slipped in that item. Why does this matter? The gum is solely manufactured by a company in Hastert’s district. Pretty sneaky for the friendly, lumbering, honest Congressman, no?

Moving on, I began looking at scorecards from various organizations. Website after website reconfirmed what I was rapidly realizing–not only is Speaker Hastert conservative, he is more right wing than most of Congress. Longtime prochoice activist that I am, I began with the NARAL scorecard. In the 105th Congress, Hastert voted prochoice 0% of the time on votes relating to women’s reproductive freedoms [www.naral.org]. Hastert voted with labor 0% of the time in 1997 [www.aflcio.org], and has a whopping lifetime voting record of 9%. For comparison, Almost-Speaker Livingston voted with labor 25% of the time in 1997 and has a lifetime record of 11%; Henry Hyde [R – IL] voted with labor 25% of the time in 1997 and has stuck with them 16% of the time throughout his career.

I doggedly went on to the ACLU website [www.aclu.org]. Hey, you never know, maybe some of these guys at least SOMETIMES, SOMEWHAT support the constitution. But no luck. From the 105th Congress Hastert had an ACLU rating of 6%. On to the Human Rights Campaign [www.hrc.org]–why did I even bother?–in the 103rd, 104th and 105th Congress, Hastert voted against HRC’s positions 100% of the time.

The emerging figure of Hastert was much more extreme than I had realized. Just to make sure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions, I visited the Christian Coalition website [www.cc.org]. In the past two Congressional Sessions, Hastert voted with the Christian Coalition 100% of the time, as did Livingston, Gingrich and Barr. Lott and Hyde–those rebels!–came in at 92%.

So, what’s the point? Does this prove that Hillary Rodham Clinton was right, and that there is a conspiracy, with the election of a stealth right-winger to the position of Speaker one part of the master plan? Is Hastert really the modest, unassuming guy he pretends to be, who was talked into becoming Speaker by others with a stronger agenda–others to whom he may owe favors (Delay/chewing gum)? Or is this all just speculation stemming from watching too many Chris Carter television programs? I’m really not sure, but I do find it peculiar that rather than highlight the extremity of Hastert’s positions on so many issues, the media focuses instead on how he delivered seed corn as a boy to Illinois farmers, and other Rockwell-esque tales. If nothing else, I hope those who read this piece are at least better informed about our Speaker’s perspective. Metaphorically speaking, as I think a renegade AP reporter mentioned, Speaker Hastert is not a friendly cozy bear, but rather, a sly fox.

In a final odd twist, the likely victor in the race to replace Rep. Livingston will be none other than David Duke, Grand Wizard turned family man. If indeed David Duke does win this seat, beating his opponent named–I kid you not!–Monica Monica, he may be the only Member of Congress whose positions will be more to the right than those of Speaker Hastert’s. Lest you forget, Duke will get a vote, in most instances, Hastert won’t.

One wonders again; could this have been a plan, masterminded by some Republican party members? It accomplishes both getting a conservative Speaker AND finally getting David Duke into Congress. I used to shrug off such hypotheses, thinking that these right-wingers couldn’t possibly be that smart, but I am now chilled by these thoughts.

At the very least, Speaker Hastert’s reign will probably pull mainstream America even further to the right. I can only hope that the impeachment debacle will result in the Republicans losing many seats in 2000.

—–

>>> And more on Hastert from Rhoda Carroll: Dennis Hastert is opposed to any federal funding of the National Endowment for the Arts, according to People for the American Way Foundation (PFAW) and ARTS ON THE LINE. Hastert voted to end all funding to the NEA on July 10, 1997. On July 21, 1998, he voted against the NEA on the Johnson Amendment to restore funding, according to PFAW.

>>> AND THIS SPECIAL NOTE TO MUSICIANS AND COMPOSERS: Arts on the Line reports that Representative Hastert was Co-Sponsor of HR789 to end most royalties to Composers and Songwriters. And what about us book writers?

>>> Hastert also favors Internet censorship. He has received 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition, the National Rifle Association and the National Right to Life and 0% ratings, as Rachel mentioned, from the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Association of University Women. The Human Rights Campaign has also given him a 0% scorecard rating for the 102d, 103d, and 104th Congresses.

>>> Sources/resources:

ARTS ON THE LINE -

PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY FOUNDATION –