Southern Speak

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jan 04, 2008 10:19 AM
Southern Speak

"It seems to me like this tactic is about as useful as a pogo-stick in quicksand."

Or so writes Republican National Committee blogger James Richardson — a self-described "southern guy, so I can appreciate a southern accent" — but who considers Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' repetitive point that "the last two Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, both talk like me," the ultimate sign of desperation.

Fortunately, now that the Iowa caucuses are over, the candidates will be retooling and not rewinding their messages for primary voters in New Hampshire.

Homecoming

It's been more than a year since his nearly fatal brain hemorrhage, and Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota today is finally able to visit — even if only for one hour — his hometown neighbors in Vermillion, population 10,000.

The Democrat made a trip to South Dakota in August, but only for a celebration in Sioux Falls, the state's largest city. Since then, he's voiced a desire to visit Vermillion, on a bluff of the Missouri River, to thank the community for its support and prayers.

Fighting words

So you think that's a "fascist" you see on the right side of the aisle?

Coinciding with the release of his new book, "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning," syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg will argue during a noon lecture at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday that original fascists hailed from the left.

Nevertheless, the author points out that it's been conservatives frequently tarred with the insulting "fascist" label, if not "brownshirts" and "jackbooted storm troopers" — slurs he labels unfair and historically misplaced.

Mr. Goldberg says the fascism that was deemed genocidal and racist in Germany assumed a "friendlier" form in America, when espoused by progressives like John Dewey, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Born in the USA

Is half of Mexico already living in the United States?

Georgetown University associate professor Adam Lifshey suggests as much in a forthcoming college paper that adds a musical twist to the border issue: "Born in the Estados Unidos: The Unbordered Frontiers of Latin America from Gloria Anzaldua to Bruce Springsteen and Beyond."

"Latin America does not stop ... at the national line between Mexico and the United States," Mr. Lifshey argues. "Currently, approximately one-tenth of the Mexican population is in the United States, a figure that does not even include the millions of Mexican-Americans who are U.S. citizens" (which he says puts the actual figure at approximately one-half of Mexico's present population, according to a campus news release).

Otherwise, he says, Latin America and the United States flow into each other in indivisible ways, including music, and thus "cannot be cleanly separated into two distinct geopolitical or cultural units."

He cites "Matamoros Banks" on Mr. Springsteen's 2005 "Devils & Dust" album, in which the singer adopts the voice of a Mexican man who dies in the Rio Grande while trying to reach his love on the northern side.

The professor says such a song "by a figure so associated with U.S. national imagery as Springsteen challenges conventional definitions of both Latin America and the United States and the walls that supposedly separate them."

Clinton's chimps

One of the last pieces of legislation President Clinton signed was the "Chimp Act," or Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act.

It established a refuge in Keithville, La., known as "Chimp Haven," to provide lifetime care to chimpanzees that were bred, purchased or used for research conducted or supported by the federal government.

Rep. Jim McCrery, Louisiana Republican, reveals that Chimp Haven is now home to 123 chimpanzees.