Winona Jury Shocker!

Winona Jury Shocker!

Winona Jury Shocker!

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 28 2002 3:17 AM

Winona Jury Shocker

Plus: Giuliani attacked for living with a small dog!

Shi-Tzu-Baiting Rears Its Ugly Head in the Red States: Valerie Bauerlein of reports on the recent debate in South Carolina between Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alex Sanders and Republican Lindsey Graham:

Sanders said Graham was the one running a TV endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City.

"He's an ultra-liberal," Sanders said. "His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu.

"Is that South Carolina values? I don't think so."

Prediction: Sanders will get a pass for his gay-baiting a) mainly because it's the sort of deliciously cynical cheap shot reporters who enjoy covering politics savor; b) secondarily because he's a Democrat running against a Clinton-impeacher and won't be attacked by gay-rights groups; c) because he has some sense of comic timing; d) because he's a pretty appealing fellow; and e) because he's going to be repudiated by the voters... But Sanders probably should be blasted for it anyway. Over to you, Frank Rich.  ...[Links via The Note12:28 P.M.


A Jury of Her Peers: How dumb were prosecutors to let Peter Guber, former head of Sony Pictures, on to the Winona Ryder shoplifting jury? They must not have read Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters'  Hit and Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood. If the lawyers in the D.A.'s office do get hold of a copy, they perhaps should pay special attention to the pages cited in the index entry:

"Guber/Peters ...

and greed, 9, 108, 109, 119, 142, 148"

Can the prosecutors seriously think Guber is someone who's about to get all moralistic over a few missing hats and hair bands? ...

According to  the Los Angeles Times' report, Guber was asked about any personal or professional ties to Ryder, and answered "I was the chairman of Sony when one of the companies under our control -- she made a picture for them." Times reporter Carla Hall pointedly notes, "In fact, Guber ran Sony when Ryder was making three big budget movies" for its Columbia division [italics added]. ... Kf is told by knowledgeable sources that it's customary Hollywood business practice for studio heads to both approve  the decision to "greenlight" such movies and to approve the budgets (i.e. including Ryder's salary). ... Should prosecutors come to their senses today and try to bounce Guber, they might attempt to focus on the adequacy of his voire dire confession. (In the elevator of the Beverly Hills courthouse, according to the Times, Guber was overheard saying, in a more uninhibited fashion, "I have about as much chance of getting on this jury as the man in the moon. I only made three pictures with the lady.") ...


Note: The rest of the Ryder jury is less controversial. It includes two disgruntled French auteurs, one member of the Dogma group, three highly-regarded script doctors, a veteran "indie" actress and the television voice of the Ziploc "Gripper Zipper." After that, it's all independent producers. ... Actually, Hall reports, the other jurors "include a teacher, a UCLA graduate student, a woman who works at a fast-food restaurant, an aerospace engineer, a woman who works for a mortgage company, and an obstetrician-gynecologist" -- reinforcing the idea that the jury system, along with the DMV, is the last offical bastion of social equality and class mixing in America. Even (perhaps especially) in Beverly Hills. ... 12::14 A.M.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

If President Bush's strategists really grokked the (now widely-accepted!) Feiler Faster Thesis -- namely that voters are capable of and comfortable with processing new information increasingly quickly -- wouldn't they realize they can't coast to November 5 on a "tie-'em-on-domestic issues, beat-'em-on-the-war" strategy (as Howard Fineman indicated on yesterday's Chris Matthews Show that they'd try to do)? Wouldn't they know there is still time for a "wave" ( Larry Sabato's phrase) in the final week of the campaign -- maybe two or three waves? And wouldn't they therefore have some sort of news-cycle-starting announcement -- not just a presidential speech, but an actual substantive break, like Bush's generic drug initiative of last Tuesday -- scheduled for, say, every other day between now and the election? ... Or did they use up all their ammo too early? ... (The same save-it-for-the-end principle would apply to the Democrats, except that without the White House they have less ability to make news and change the political dynamic in the final week.) ... Update: Ipsos-Reid/Cook detects a small swing back to the Democrats, which would seem to be the default trend if the GOP tries to coast. ...  1:42 P.M.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

I think this is sincere, and moving. ... 11:16 P.M.

Friday, October 25, 2002


Senator Paul Wellstone: They're probably already saying this on TV [ Noonan  and Marshall  have already written it--ed.], but it was hard to dislike Paul Wellstone. He lacked the qualities that make a successful modern U.S. Senator: He wasn't a poser, a trimmer, a schemer, a dissembler, a self-aggrandizing egomaniac or a vicious infighter. He wasn't an a--hole.. Wellstone made his case -- usually with an emotional speech during which, when he got really excited, he'd bizarrely and charmingly start squatting up and down like a frog. Then he won or lost. Usually (but not always) lost.

You could be deeply annoyed by what he had to say -- in my case, his "compassionate" give-them-cash approach to welfare drove me up the wall. But that was what he thought. Wellstone didn't pretend to be for reforming welfare while secretly gutting reform in the statutory fine print, the traditional Washington "make-believe" approach. He didn't seek a middle ground that would offend the fewest number of people and guarantee his reelection. His openness and honesty constituted a temporary crack in the evolutionary laws, a quirk in which the proven Darwinian traits that make for success in the competition for national political prominence somehow didn't obtain. How the hell did this sincere lefty college professor get elected -- twice? If the culture of Washington power didn't value Wellstone, if the press whales considered him a bit cute and lacking in deal-making heft, that reflects more poorly on the culture of Washington power than on the senator.

The other reason for wishing Wellstone well -- my editors wanted me to write a piece making this point three weeks ago, which to my discredit I didn't get to -- was that he represented a political point of view that needed to be represented in the U.S, Senate and that, without him, probably won't be. It's not just that sometimes he might be right -- as with his annoying, unBeltwayish persistence in calling for universal health care after the flop of the 1994 Clinton plan. (Who knows, his vote against giving Bush authority to wage unilateral war against Iraq may also seem very right one day.) It's also that Wellstone forced everyone else to justify their positions in a new way, because he would come at them from a different angle of attack than, say, Tim Russert on Meet the Press. I wouldn't have wanted a Senate with 51 Paul Wellstones, simply because I don't agree with his views. But the Senate is supposed to be a deliberative body. Wellstone's views were and are important and you wanted him around, as long as there was only one like him. There was. 3:56 P.M.

Bloggers are already on the Minnesota succession case, following the horrible news of Senator Paul Wellstone's death in a plane crash.  N.Z.Bear  has the statutory citations. It appears that the Democrats actually have time to nominate a successor before the November 5th election. (There are provisions for printing a "supplemental ballot.") ... The ability of Minn. Governor Jesse Ventura to tip the balance of power in the U.S. Senate in the meantime seems to be less clear. Bear says Ventura can't appoint himself, eliminating one obvious scenario. Update: It looks to me as if any Ventura appointment may only be for a few days -- whoever wins the November 5 election would also serve the remainder of Wellstone's term pursuant to Sudivision 12 of this statute. .... A kf reader suggests the well-vetted Walter Mondale as an obvious Lautenberg for the Democrats. Or Minnesota state Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. ....Caveat: Have Mondale's activities (lobbying?) since leaving office been vetted? ... 12:06 A.M.


Fox' News's Rita Cosby was widely criticized for seeking and obtaining a sniper-hyping interview with imprisoned "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz. But  it turns out Berkowitz accurately predicted that the sniper would probably be sleeping in his car, according to Cosby ... 10:57 A.M.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Sullivan Hypocrisy Hunt: Andrew Sullivan fulminates  against the police for letting John Allen Muhammad slip through their fingers a few nights ago because they "were looking for a white car with white people," as a "high-ranking police source" told the Washington Post. Sullivan says:

 There's a word for this: racial profiling. It's wrong in itself but it's simply astounding that this racist action by the police also resulted in the deaths of several more people. Why isn't this a scandal? The only reason the cops - not "everyone," in the weasel words of the "high-ranking police source" - were looking for a white guy was allegedly because only white guys are serial killers or snipers. First off, this is no excuse for racism. ...

In my view, any kind of racial profiling is always wrong. And if the cops had not been making reverse racist assumptions in this case, there's a chance a few more people would be alive today. [Emphasis added.]


First, we don't know that profiling was the reason the cops were looking for "white people." There might have been an erroneous eyewitness description. (That was certainly the reason they were looking for a "white car.")

Second, does Sullivan really believe that "any kind of racial profiling is always wrong"? That's possible -- it's the position of some advocates of "color-blindness" such as Abigail Thernstrom. The problem with this position is that ... well, it's crazy. It means you can't give young Arab males extra scrutiny at airports even after a spate of hijackings committed entirely by young Arab males. It means you can't give Hispanic-looking people extra scrutiny when patrolling the Mexican border for illegal immigrants. (Even the "color-blind" theorists presumably allow searches for particular races if there's an eyewitness description. But as the sniper case is making clear, an eyewitness description is nowhere near a certainty -- it too is a statistical proposition. The sharp distinction between the two cases isn't all that sharp.)

But I strongly suspect that Sullivan doesn't really buy the crazy pure-colorblind position. I suspect he's being inconsistent, and that at some point in the not-distant past has fulminated against "P.C." opposition to profiling.  A quick search of his archives turns up this passage  (scroll up) from June, in which he criticizes Howell Raines' New York Times for the

burying of politically incorrect studies about the validity of racial profiling in speeding tickets. [Emphasis added again.]

Sullivan can claim that he's only against suppressing news of the "validity of racial profiling," even though "any kind of racial profiling" -- however valid! -- "is always wrong." So this isn't a total smoking gun of hypocrisy. But my guess is that someone with better search techniques than I have can find one somewhere. A copy of Paul Krugman's latest book to the first kf reader who does. ... 11:23 P.M.

What lawyers call "begging the question": Here's the GOP response to that controversial Democratic cartoon showing Bush pushing an old lady in a wheelchair off  a cliff. [Link via Instapundit] ... Why do I think that the ad's slogan


is somewhat less than reassuring -- to those, for example, who are only nearly near retirement? ....6:01 P.M.

CW Flip-Flop Watch: New Republic's Peter Beinart argues that the prospect of an Iraq war is actually helping the Democrats. The strongest evidence for Beinart's contrarian position isn't the polling data he cites -- anti-Bush voters might say Iraq is "their primary issue" because they don't like Bush and that's what anti-Bush people say, not because they're preoccupied with Iraq -- but Bush's own actions. You don't have to be wildly cynical to suspect that Bush is softening his Iraq tone now -- to the point of saying that compliance with inspections would amount to "regime change"  -- not so much to please the French or Russians but because his polls show a less war-like tone will help Republicans in the mid-term elections. ... But here's a question: If the war is helping the Democrats, but the Democrats (as Beinart speculates) might still "lose"-- in that they fail to win back the House -- what does that say about the Democrats' message on issues other than the war, like the economy, health care, entitlements, etc.? Obviously, it ain't much of a winner. Isn't Beinart's magazine the one that is constantly telling us that the Democrats rightly have the upper hand on all sorts of domestic issues? Maybe the idea that the domestic terrain favors the Dems is another bit of CW that's ripe for scrutiny.  ... Or maybe the Democrats problem isn't issues at all, but that old standby, character (as in inability to learn Clinton's lesson about standing up to the party's own interest groups)....5:04 P.M.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Make Way for ... Golisano? The New Republic's &c. blogger (i.e., Noam Scheiber) thinks third-party rich guy Tom Golisano might actually winin the New York governor's race. ... The Jesse Ventura-like scenario seems plausible enough, except the part about how incumbent GOP governor George Pataki could lose New York City's "outer boroughs, where all those disillusioned white ethnic voters mutter about Pataki's permissive liberalism ..." That seems a stretch. ... Scheiber doesn't even stoop to cite the obvious favorable precedent of the victorious inexperienced rich guy in the New York mayor's race, Michael Bloomberg. .. If only failed Democrat Andrew Cuomo had gotten together with Golisano's Svengali, consultant Roger Stone ... Actually, I don't want to even think about that. Some scenarios are best left to Stephen King. ... 1:53 P.M.

John at Discriminations thinks the Mike Allen WaPo story  on GOP plans for a post-victory agenda was more thinly-sourced than I did, especially on the issue of whether Republicans are actually "optimistic about winning control of both chambers of Congress." ... I've talked with only one "White House official" recently, and that was last week, but way back then, it's true, he/she evinced no confidence whatsoever that Republicans would regain the Senate. (Then again, he/she wasn't Karl Rove.) ... All the more reason to suspect that something other than electoral confidence (something like the need for fundraising or mere contingency-planning) is driving the proliferation of agendas and wish lists on the right -- and, presumably, on the left. You don't think Henry Waxman has a bold agenda planned if the Dems sweep both chambers?. ...1:18 P.M.

Who said Republicans don't do independent "issue" ads very effectively? Well I did. And The Note did. But here's a counterexample. ... Maybe the real news is that in Minnesota they still consider $1 million a big ad buy. ... 12:56 P.M.

Texas Early Warning, Cont.: They're already casting ballots in Texas. In the first three days of early voting, turnout in four largely Democratic counties (Hidalgo, Nueces, Jefferson and Travis) has more than doubled over that in the 1998 midterms (rising from 12,873 to 27,727). Three of these counties are heavily minority, I'm told, although in those three early turnout is only up 50%. ...Turnout is up in Republican areas too, but a heavier turnout in general favors Democrats. ... [Thanks to severalTexas kf readers.] Update: It's those "potentially dead" voters who are easiest to intimidate! Republicans fear fraud  in Hidalgo County, citing large numbers of dead or "unqualified" voters (including "potentially dead" voters!) still on the rolls. It would be confidence-inspiring if Democrats responded to these charges by outlining the steps that have been taken to prevent fraud, instead of by immediately charging Republicans with intimidation and racism. Even the Hidalgo County Elections Administrator, Teresa Navarro, says she'd like to do more checking of IDs, theMcAllen  Monitor reports:

The state does not require driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers when a person registers to vote, she said. Once a voter signs the card saying he lives in the county, the county is bound by law to allow that person to vote.

"The changes ... [Republicans are] calling for require legislative changes," she said. "If we had (Social Security numbers or driver's license numbers) to track, that would be great. But until the state requires it, there's nothing we can do."

Update: Is it an increase or just a shift? An alert kf reader from Tennesse warns against reading too much into this year's increase in early voting in Texas:

Every election cycle [in Tennessee] there are stories about the big turnout in early voting breaking all previous records. The trouble is that early voting is only about a dozen years old and people are only beginning to discover what a great convenience it is. The result is that, each cycle, more and more people who would vote on election day start voting early.  It's not a harbinger of a big election day turnout -- just a shift of how people go about voting.

That's assuming they only vote once. ... Update II: Here are those Texas early voting totals in full, courtesy of the Texas politics site Quorum Report.... 9:59 A.M.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

The long Paul Krugman quote now on Andrew Sullivan's site here(explaining why economists become hacks) is a fine example of what I mean by cheap armchair-Darwinian analysis. It's a good thing! ... 1:14 P.M.

Am I losing touch with my inner Reed Irvine, or has The New York Times not been doing the Republicans as much pre-election damage as we Raines-phobes expected, at least on its front page? [The night is young-IRI]. But the Washington Post did produce a potentially highly damaging (to the GOP) front page story -- Mike Allen's account of Republican plans for using their power should they gain control of both the Senate and the House. Allen's piece -- which had a) a "House leadership aide" talking about speeding up tax cuts and further cuts in capital gains taxes; b) White House economic aide Larry Lindsey quietly meeting with 15 big CEOs to solicit their suggestions; and c) a "senior administration official" talking about about plans to "scrap" the tax code -- managed to scare even me. Three calming points, however:

1) Individual Social Security accounts are noton the GOP triumphalist agenda. In fact, Allen buried the lede in his seventh paragraph, where he noted that White House officials

said for the first time that Bush would consider alternatives to personal accounts as a way to preserve the long-term solvency of the retirement program.

So the one potential Republican initiative that most scares likely voters is, as expected, dead dead dead. It's dead!

2) Republicans have to seem to be planning something big, otherwise the real truth -- that they have no particular domestic agenda -- might become too obvious. When tort reform is your #1 agenda item, the cupboard is relatively bare.

3) Is the braggadccio reported by Allen (especially the Lindsey meeting) a real reflection of Bush's intentions and the likely political reality after a GOP sweep -- or is it a reflection of the GOP need to shake contributions out of the business community before the election? It's not just that talk of new tax cuts gets business lobbyists salivating. It also terrifies them, as in, "My God, they're planning to redo the whole tax code. I better protect my company's position by staying on the right side of these people."  "Fundamental" tax reform is, as they say in California, a "juice bill." It's highly unlikely to happen -- especially with a one-vote Senate majority -- but in the meantime it lets politicians of both parties extract otherwise unobtainable contributions. 12:47 P.M.

I owe the Microsoft Network a bit of an apology. It turns out my email problem was not entirely due to the network's infamous "Looping Sicily" problem. It was also partly the result of my, er, credit card being declined. A brief call to MSN Billling on Monday and email was restored. (I still have a Sicily, but it no longer loops, if that's the right way to put it.) 12:45 P.M.

A new poll shows that 41 percent of California voters plan to vote for incumbent Democrat Gray Davis for governor. Isn't that one of those numbers that's supposed to be above 50% if Davis is going to be at all confident of reelection? … Meanwhile, 17 percent of voters are still undecided, two weeks out -- and it's not because they can't make up their minds between two wildly appealing candidates! …. There's a handful of hours left to file as a write-in and make that 17 percent your base. ….Plenty of time! ... 1:14 A.M.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Kf's Texas sources say it's wrong to write off Democratic Senate candidate Ron Kirk -- the unprecedented minority turnout he'd need to win just might happen (despite what you read in the Dallas Morning News). A bit of early-warning data: Yesterday was the first day of early voting in Hidalgo County, home to the sort of potential new voters Democrats are counting on. In 1998, 330 people in the county voted on the first day of early voting. Yesterday, 1,930 voted. ... Maybe Hidalgo's  early voters were just so enthusiastic they all voted on the first day. Or maybe ABC and PBS were on to something when they featured the Texas contest. ... 2:15 P.M.

Has conservative Bush judicial nominee Michael McConnell gotten any credit from Democrats for his courageous and cogent day-after Slate trashing  of the U.S. Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision? Not enough credit to get him confirmed by the Senate -- or to avoid having the New York Times editorial page  denounce him as an example of how the "Bush administration ... has made ideology the primary consideration in picking judges."  ("McConnell's musings nearly all point in one direction," said the Times.) ... In Slate, McConnell concluded that

... the Supreme Court held that there should be a recount, but there is not time enough to do it. That leaves Bush as president not so much by the will of the electorate, but by default. [Emphasis added.]

Doesn't Bush get points for nominating the guy who wrote that? ... Or did the Bushies not know he wrote it? ... Is the Slate search engine that bad? Don't answer that. ... 2:27 A.M.

Of all the anti-war arguments derived from last week's North Korean nuke confession, the weakest has to be the claim (which was all over the talk shows this weekend) that it we shouldn't go after Iraq because 'North Korea is a far graver threat.' Just because something's a graver threat doesn't mean you have to deal with it first, at least if the threat isn't imminent. Sometimes you tackle the smaller problems, then the bigger problems. That's especially true if disarming the less-grave threat (Iraq, in this argument) would send a worthwhile cautionary signal to the bigger threat (Korea) and make that bigger threat easier to contain .... Andrew Sullivan  points out the pro-war implication of another Iraq/North Korea comparison: If a) we're deterred from taking on North Korea simply because they've already got some nukes, then b) that's a good reason to act to prevent Iraq from crossing that line. ...

One reason I don't share the near-universal blogospheric reaction against Maureen Dowd's Sunday column is that, despite the crude and overdone Bush caricaturing, she does acknowledge both the pro-war arguments just discussed. She distances herself by putting them in the fictionalized mouth of Richard Perle -- but she doesn't dismiss them. The column isn't substantively an anti-Bush rant so much as Dowd's equivalent of William Raspberry's taxi-driver dialogues, which are designed to ventilate the arguments while allowing the columnist to remain ambivalent. ... Much as I've done here!  1:44 A.M. 

Last-minute reader nomination of a last-minute California gubernatorial write-in candidate: L.A. ex-mayor Richard Riordan's business partner, Pat Haden. Haden has good (and positive) name recognition because he was a star quarterback for the USC Trojans and also played for the L.A. Rams. ...He has a day to gather 100 signatures. Piece of cake! ...Update: Guided by the twin criteria of high name-recognition and low-respectability, blogger N.Z. Bear nominates Hugh Hefner. ...Wasn't he thinking of Larry Flynt? Hefner is a pillar of our community here. ... 12: 36 A.M.

Today's shocker: " DRUGS FOUND ON KID ROCK'S BUS" -- Palm Beach Post. 12: 16 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" 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. 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.