DEMS GO SOUTH

: Remember the courts? Don’t worry, the Democrats don’t either. In 2002, when George W. Bush nominated 65-year-old Mississippi jurist

Charles Pickering

to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, liberal pols and pundits had a field day airing the old segregationist’s dirty laundry. The GOP–though it had a majority–couldn’t get him confirmed. Five years later, 57-year-old Mississippi jurist

Leslie Southwick

breezed through confirmation hearings for the seat, despite an equally if not more regressive record–and with a Democratic majority in place!

The Administration’s plan to slip another extremist judge through a distracted Congress worked like a charm, despite Southwick’s deplorable rulings. As an exhaustive report by the

Alliance for Justice

shows, Southwick has expressed reactionary views on workers’ rights, joined homophobic decisions and voted consistently with big business in divided torts and employment cases. In 2001 he joined a decision upholding a ruling that took an 8-year-old girl away from her mother because the woman was living in a “lesbian home.” Going further, Southwick also joined a gratuitously antigay concurrence underscoring Mississippi’s right, under “the principles of Federalism,” to treat gays and lesbians like second-class citizens. If for no other reason than self-interest, Dems should take on easy targets like Southwick. With scores of gerrymandering cases making their way to the courts, do they really think jurists like Southwick will give them a fair hearing?   PETER ROTHBERG

RAINBOW CONNECTION

: In October

Radiohead

released In Rainbows as a “pay what you want, even nothing” download from its website. Millions flocked to Radiohead.com, and early reports had the album averaging at least $5 per download. But many industry insiders tut-tutted the band for spurning the system, and some intimated that In Rainbows was just too crummy to warrant a “real” release. Now the mainstream media are latching on to a report by Internet monitoring firm

Comscore

that concludes that 62 percent of downloaders paid nothing for the album. But Comscore’s claim is weak. The firm collects data from 2 million people who allow their every mouse click to be monitored in exchange for free software. So there’s no reason to believe that its population is representative of In Rainbows downloaders. Tellingly, Comscore’s report doesn’t mention how many of its “participants” downloaded the album. It’s hard to resist some cynical conclusions: Comscore’s client base includes several media conglomerates, media conglomerates want In Rainbows to fail, newspapers want stories and failure sells.   PETER C. BAKER