Kausfiles achieves closure.

Kausfiles achieves closure.

Kausfiles achieves closure.

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 21 2002 5:50 PM

Kausfiles Achieves Closure

Plus: Why does Jim Warren have more rights than you do?

Does Welfare Cause Terrorism? Part 27: Ian Johnson of the Wall Street Journal makes the linkage  between the two as clear as it can be made in an excellent piece on Muslim extremists in Germany. The key paragraphs:

"It's no coincidence that the hijackers came from Germany," says Bassam Tibi, a scholar of Islam at Goettingen University, who is himself a Muslim immigrant from Jordan. "Here, they could live outside of society. No one even expected them to work." ...

Mr. Barakat [who early in the piece praises Mohamed Atta as a "true martyr"] came to Germany in 1979 as a visitor from Syria. Like many men in the Muslim-extremist scene, he married a German woman, which gained him permanent residency.  ...For Mr. Barakat, who is 52 years old, work and success are unimportant. He says he has training in television repair and industrial electronics but hasn't held down a regular job since 1996. "The most important thing," he says, "is to do good deeds."

Welfare checks help make such benevolence possible. Mr. Barakat receives about $2,500 a month in payments from the government. He says he feeds his extended family's nine mouths on that and still managed to make a pilgrimage earlier this year to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. [Emphasis added.]

As described by Johnson, the fitful but increasing German efforts at assimilating Muslims take the form of eliminating their ability to cry "discrimination" and restricting immigration. The mystery left unanswered is why Germany doesn't take the simpler, more obvious step -- allowing immigration, but denying immigrants the welfare benefits that support an unassimilated opposition culture.... Mightn't such a hostile culture be supported by workers? Sure. But people who come and work (the vast majority of Germany's Muslims, apparently) are unlikely to be able to lead a life so apart from the society they live in that they can be like Mr. Barakat:

Mr. Barakat says the city around him is of no interest. Walking down Steindamm on his way home, he ignores a dazed junkie combing her hair. "I don't care where I live," he says. "I could be anywhere."


Let work do the work of assimilation! ... Suddenly the Republicans who denied welfare benefits to new immigrants as part of the 1996 welfare reform look a bit more sensible, no? ....[Note:WSJ link requires subscription, but print editions of Friday's paper are available on most newsstands until Monday.] 12:06 A.M.


Saturday, September 21, 2002

Wonk v. Hunk: Sacramento Bee's Peter Schrag utters a rare discouraging word about the political campaign Arnold Schwarzenegger is pursuing, a state  ballot initiative to fund after-school programs. Schrag argues it will jeopardize the state's finances by mandating spending even in lean times.

It will ... keep sucking money out of the treasury even when there are greater needs for other purposes and its own caseload is down.

10:56 P.M.


End of this week's story arc: Even the East Coast w ashingtonpost.com is beating the L.A. Times on the Schwarzenegger beat, reporting yesterday that he has "clearly dismissed" the idea of a write-in gubernatorial candidacy this year. ... It's hard to tell if WaPo's Jason Thompson did his own reporting or simply read the not-airtight Fresno Bee account cited below. But his conclusion is also what kf hears from its extensive sources in Hollywood's cultural-politico interface. ... WaPo does note that the Schwarzenexplanation for why his pollsters (i.e. the pollsters for the ballot proposition he's sponsoring) queried voters about a write-in candidacy makes no sense: If the idea was to "tell if people supported the [ballot] measure because he supported it," why not just ask that? Or ask whether they'd vote for Schwarzenegger for governor. Why ask specifically about a write-in candidacy? ... And, of course, if the Schwarzenegger camp had really wanted to shoot down the write-in rumor, they could have simply said "He will not file as a write-in candidate" when asked by the L.A. Weekly -- instead of taking eight hours to come up with the weaselly, options-preserving "He has no intention of running." [Emphasis added.] ... But, sadly, this promising idea really is now dead, leaving Californians with the dreary choice of Gray Davis or Bill Simon ... unless someone else should file  to be a write-in candidate by October 22..Hmmm. What's Robert Reich doing these days, now that he's lost his Massachusetts primary? How long do you have to be a California resident in order to be governor? .... Think about it, Bob! We're desperate out here! You could say you've really been living in Berkeley all along.... Backfill: Hotline has the Sacramento Bee reporting that " Schwarzenegger adviser" George Gorton "says he put the question about the governor's race" in the poll "in a 'moment of madness.'" This 'rogue GOP pollster' theory (which differs a bit from the theory Schwarzenegger himself is advancing) may actually be the right one, though it also conveniently serves A.S.'s interests at this point. ... P.S. -- One more query: OK, Mr. Madman Gorton. You asked the question. What were the results? Did voters not want Schwarzenegger? ... 2:27 P.M.


Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Fresno Bee goes where the L.A. Times was too dull to tread and asks Arnold Schwarzeneggerabout "rumors that he is considering a write-in candidacy for governor this November." It may have helped that Schwarzenegger -- I'm getting tired of typing his name already! -- was actually at the Bee meeting with its editorial board. Schwarzenegger "dismissed" the idea, according to Bee reporter John Ellis -- but the only actual quote from Schxxxxxxxxx. in the piece is

"I can only focus on one thing at a time"

That's not exactly knocking it down hard. ... In fact, it's his standard disclaimer when asked about a gubernatorial race -- and similar to the "He has no intention of running" his spokesperson gave to L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley after eight hours of deliberation. ..."No intention" is of course the accepted, formally correct political phrase for "maybe." ... I have "no intention" of milking this rumor for yet another hit-generating blog item. ... Oh, wait, now I do! ...  Meanwhile, blogger Zachary Emig notes that the date on which Schxxxxxxxxx must "focus" on whether he's going to run for governor -- October 22 -- just happens to be the day before he's scheduled to appear on Chris Matthews' Hardball College Tour ... 9:49 A.M.


Jim Warren Occupies a Special Place in American Society: The official Chicago Tribune management position on Bob Greene, per Deputy Managing Editor Jim Warren's appearance on CNN Wednesday night, appears to be that they know they haven't made a convincing case for Greene's firing but they have "not divulged all the details." ... Hmmm. Did the press let Nixon get away with that line of argument? If Greene doesn't utter a peep in his defense, I suppose maybe we should all just assume that some incredibly damning pornographic details possibly involving a toupee were involved and leave it at that. ... But Warren said something else that was deeply offensive, namely that reporters like Greene have to be held to a higher standard because they enjoy "special privileges." Sez who? This "special rights" defense of press freedom was dangerous (with special privileges come special restrictions) and obnoxious (why does Jim Warren have more rights than I do? Did he do really well on his SATs?) when it was possible to identify who "the press" was. Now, when every kitchen-table blogger is arguably "press," it's also untenable. ... Kf's line: Reporters are citizens exercising their First Amendment rights as citizens -- no more, no less. That's all they should need. ... 2:32 A.M.


Wednesday, September 18, 2002

William Bradley's Schwarzenegger scoop is now posted. ...and I haven't heard a denial from the Schwarzenegger camp yet. Have you? .... Maybe that's because, the more you think about it, the more a blitzkrieg write-in campaign seems like Schwarzenegger's best shot at entering politics successfully. In addition to the "get it over with before the dirt comes out" argument elaborated below, there are these factors: 1) He's pro-choice, so he might not even be able to get the GOP nomination if he runs in 2006 -- look at what happened to pro-choice Richard Riordan in the primary; 2) Californians will never be more ready for a bit of glamour and excitement than they are now, with the aptly-named Gray Davis about to win reelection to the sound of one hand clapping; 3) This way Schwarzenegger enters politics while his Hollywood career is still alive -- he can't be called a "washed-up actor," so he'll have an easier time convincing people he must really care about politics. ... On the other hand, he can't become President (not being what Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution calls a "natural born Citizen."). So what's the point -- to be governor of California and nothing more? ... How is the L.A. Times like the Titanic? It's too slow and cumbersome to change direction and pick up on a hot rumor like this, if only to shoot it down. (If they can't shoot it down, it's an even hotter rumor!)... It's not as if the story has no factual hook.(Bradley reports that Schwarzenegger did poll on the write-in issue -- might not LAT readers want to know that?) Is the philosophy of "Do it once, do it long -- it's not as if we're a newspaper" still alive at the supposedly-reformed Times? ...11:45 P.M.


Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Here's the political scoop of the day: Arnold Schwarzenegger may run as a write-in candidate for California governor this year, in November, against Gray Davis and Bill Simon. Schwarzenegger apparently did some polling last week to gauge voter reaction to such a campaign. William Bradley of L.A. Weekly (and his own New West Notes) has the story, which includes this blind quote from a "senior Democrat":

 "The two major candidates are so unpopular," he said, "that a Schwarzenegger announcement would produce a tidal wave of publicity and a probable Arnold lead in the polls. Then we'd see if he could hold up to scrutiny for what is left of the campaign."


According to Bradley, Schwarzenegger doesn't have to actually decide until the October 22 filing deadline! (Though, since any attention that's going to be given to the write-in rumor will hurt GOP candidate Simon, Schwarzenegger will be under intense pressure to rule it out long before then). ..Bradley's story isn't on the L.A. Weekly site yet -- it was e-mailed around. {Update: It's  now been posted.] ....Take it away ... everybody! ... P.S.: As Bradley notes, a short, surprise write-in race might be Schwarzenegger's best shot. His weakness is his vulnerability to a negative campaign replaying the charges of loutish and womanizing behavior contained in a controversial recent Premiere magazine article. But if he jumps into the race in October, the campaign might be over before an effective negative campaign -- and press "scrutiny" -- could break through the "tidal wave" of initial hype. (I admit that if this happened it would be a violation of the Feiler Faster Thesis, which holds that voters now process charges and countercharges with astonishing speed.) ... 7:07 P.M.

Yep. He's short: Robert Reich has lost  in the Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary, coming in either second or third. [Update: Second.] ... The promising candidacy of rival "reformer" Warren Tolman, meanwhile, was completely destroyed by the wimpy goo-goo backlash against his "negative" campaign, which involved telling the truth about Reich. Tolman's anti-Reich home page  has now been taken down -- but the individual anti-Reich Web pages are still up! If you know where to go. (Try here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.) Collect them all, before they disappear!... 7:07 P.M.

'My Mortality Made Me Do It:' Kf readers make their voices heard on the popular and respectable "I-have-sex-because-I-fear-death" rationale. Reader R.S.M. disputes kf's Darwinian explication, arguing:

The question is not, Why did Green[e] find the teen-age girl attractive? Rather, the question is, Why was a middle-aged father of 2, married for 20 years, unable to restrain
such an impulse?


Maybe fear of mortality is what leads otherwise sensible men to act on their promiscuous male instincts? ...Hmmm. Nice try! Reader A.B. kills off this line of argument, I think, by noting:

Presumably women fear death as well, and yet fewer of them make fools of themselves pursuing young lovers. 

Maybe promiscuous male instincts are what lead otherwise sensible men to fear their mortality (in a way that can be addressed mainly by having lots of sex!).  ...

Next issue: Why do men spout and internalize the unsatisfactory "I fear death" rationale? A.B. blames "feminism," while Instapundit fingers "sexism:"

 [T]hey're afraid of the Sisterhood and its patriarch/rake dichotomy where male sexuality is concerned.


Hmmm. To the extent Instapundit is suggesting symmetry between this "patriarch/rake dichotomy" and the familiar male "Madonna/whore" dichotomy, I would note that the whole thrust of evolutionary psychology is to deny this symmetry, and affirm the greater male reliance on "Madonna/whore." ... To the extent that Instapundit's suggesting that these anti-rake sentiments are a modern feminist construct, I also disagree. It  seems to me that most women -- not just "feminists," and certainly not just women on politicized college campuses -- resist acknowledging the full horror of male sexuality. A sympathy-inducing "fear of mortality" rationale takes some of the edge off. ... So here's my explanation: Because women tend buy the rationale, men tend to use it and to actually believe it. ... If that's what Instapundit means, I agree. But it doesn't strike me as "sexism." It's just the way women are built! ...P.S.:Volokh has a useful discussion  on the separate "Should-Bob-Greene-have-been-fired" issue. .. 6:45 P.M.

Sex, rugs, and rock 'n' roll: This post, at Nancynall.com, would seem to be the definitive take on the Bob Greene scandal, barring further developments (and assuming it's accurate). [Link via Lucianne.] Nall's post beats out John Scalzi's excellent earlier effort, which has the additional virtue of offering a more ... well, male viewpoint. Both think Greene's a hack who got a raw deal, unless there's more to the story than the Chicago Tribune has let on. ... [Scalzi link via Instapundit ] ... Why has the blogosphere done such a much better job on this story than conventional, professional mediaa) In stories about other journalists, there seem to be extra layers of caution and artifice that prevent reporters in the mainstream press from saying what they really think, and b) what journalists really think on the subject of colleague/competitor Bob Greene's troubles is likely to be a lot more pungent and inside-y than what they really think about, say, Steve Case's troubles. So with Greene the gap between the truth and what you got to read in your daily paper is especially large. Blogs eliminate that gap. ... Plus the blogosphere can direct you, the reader, to the best take on Greene among hundreds of thousands of blogs, as opposed to dozens of newspapermen. Maybe Nancynall is a one-hit wonder who will never write anything this good again (though I doubt it). But thanks to the Power of the Web, you get to read her hit. ... Still there's one last level of artifice, even in the blogosphere: Why do men -- like Scalzi here, or Warren Beatty in Shampoo (or whoever wrote Warren Beatty's lines in Shampoo) -- have to explain their desire to have sex with attractive women in terms of a struggle against mortality ("middle-age-death-denying" in Scalzi's words)? You mean they wouldn't have sex with young women if they were in good shape and knew they were going to live to be 300? They didn't want to have sex with young women when they were young themselves? It's sex! Millions of years of evolution  have designed men to want it and enjoy it.. It's stupid to try to explain this urge in some highfalutin' literary or spiritual way -- and revealing that even relatively no-BS men like Scalzi (or Nick Hornby in High Fidelity, to name another) feel that they have to. ....9:33 A.M.


Monday, September 16, 2002

The unsophisticated NYT: When is Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico a "hard line conservative"? When the New York Times Magazineneeds to hype a story (on Domenici's support for "mental health parity") for its apparently uninformed readership, to whom almost any mainstream Republican seemingly is "hard line." ... This is not a mistake the Washington Post could get away with, because its readers know. Domenici is conservative, but hardly "hard-line." He's a budget-balancer who often bucks ideologues in his own party because he's willing to forego tax cuts in order to avoid deficits. When he didn't get a GOP leadership position recently, it was considered a victory for the real "hard line" conservatives and a blow to more moderate Republicans. Domenici got a "D" from the Gun Owners of America in their most recent survey, and gets relatively mixed reviews from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. And he not infrequently adopts pet goo-goo causes -- raising barge fees was a big Domenici crusade in the '70s, for example. Just four years ago, the editorial page of the New York Times had this to say:

Moderates in the Senate, especially veterans of past budget battles like Pete Domenici and William Roth, refuse to go along with the big tax cuts advocated by the budget-cutters in the House.

[Emphasis added.] ... P.S.: The "hard line conservative" characterization appears on the cover of the NYT magazine. In the actual piece, Deborah Sontag is more careful -- while still leaving the impression that Domenici's mental health crusade is more surprising and out of character than it really is. The point isn't that Sontag is a blindered Upper West Side rube. But her editors .....1:48 A.M.




Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes "Tilting at Windmills" Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. The Liberal Death Star--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh --Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman -- Always annoying, occasionally right. Joe Conason -- Bush-bashing, free most days.  Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]