The Kerry Mystery Challenge.

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 2 2002 1:25 AM

Kerry Mystery Contest

Plus: Raines Remains Silent, Day 6!

(Continued from Page 2)

Jack Shafer points out the strained quality  of the most recent NYT front-pager on the Augusta National Golf Club controversy ("CBS Staying Silent in Debate On Women Joining Augusta"), which might as well have been headlined "CBS Fails to Pay Attention to New York Times Crusade." Shafer -- echoing Sridhar Pappu  -- thinks NYT Executive Editor Howell Raines is replaying (as a Guilty Southern White Boy should) the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. The Times, Shafer suggests, latched onto "a story that it could conveniently exploit for months to the smug satisfaction of its liberal readers." ...

Plus, doesn't the alleged justification for Monday's non-story story resonate with Raines' defense of his paper's recent anti-war barrage, in which he declared:

"If there's an absence of debate in the country, if Congress is not standing up to the administration in an adversarial way, that's a news story."

Raines is on the verge of a breakthrough reconceptualization of "news" here, in which "news" comes to mean the failure of any powerful individual or institution to do what Howell Raines wants them to do. (As the Times reports about CBS, "The network appears to be resisting the argument ...") ... P.S.: I concede there's a lot of useful info on the dynamics of the TV-sports business buried in the jump of Alessandra Stanley and Bill Carter's piece. It's ... a sophisticated exegesis of a sociological phenomenon! ... P.P.S: Is Stanley's new beat being Howell's Roving Hitwoman? ...P.P.P.S.: If the NYT makes a huge fuss about Augusta's refusal to admit women and it turns out that nobody cares ("Readers Stay Silent in Debate on Women Joining Augusta") doesn't that have the effect of ratifying the practices of same-sex private clubs? ... 12:47 P.M.

What Bold Bush Agenda? Part 4: TNR's Noam Scheiber notes that the truncated, strikingly un-bold social conservative agenda hyped by WaPo's Jim VandeHei is the starting wish list -- it's sure to get whittled down further, even if some bills are likely to pass the House. ...  But House Republicans are riven, at the moment, with Tom DeLay vowing revenge on Christian conservatives for disobeying orders by killing the business-backed bankruptcy bill. ...Update: Newsweek's Fineman also  reports on the "war" between DeLay and social conservative James Dobson. ... 11:02 A.M.

Kf reader D.M. reports that the online audio link of Lousiana's KBON 101.1  not only feeds you hearty Cajun music -- it's also a good place to catch the radio ads in the nasty Louisiana Senate runoff. ... 10:39 A.M.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Henry Aaron suggests a devolutionary approach to the health insurance problem that actually has a chance of passing under the current political alignment. If it worked, of course, it would be a disaster for the Democrats -- taking away what promises to be their single best issue. Are Dems that altruistic? (Maybe. For decades, unions have supported government programs -- e.g. OSHA -- that reduce workers' need for unions. It's one of the great mysteries for those of us with a cynical view of politics.) ...2:24 P.M.

What Bold Bush Agenda? Part 3: Jim VandeHei writes another one of those pieces on the Bush administration's coming "vigorous push" for its conservative "social policy agenda" that only serves to show how small that agenda really is. ... 1) Limiting abortions within the Roe framework; 2) "[E]xpanding the number of contracts that religious groups can compete for;" and 3) increased "funding for sexual abstinence and fatherhood programs." Is this an impressive or ambitious list? No. But stories like VandeHei's help Bush's attempt to give social conservatives the impression that it is. ... 1:58 A.M.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Road Trip Report: The editor of kf has been taking the pulse of the American people while traveling across the heartland as fast as he possibly can. He files this report:

Route: I-10

Best radio station: KBON 101.1, Eunice, Louisiana

Best sign: "Diesel Fried Chicken" (somewhere in West Texas). Update: The sign is in Van Horn, Texas, reports kf reader J.F..

Possibly bogus trends: Cops … legalized gambling …  the fast-growing Anglo influence on Hispanic music …cops … skull caps …marijuana smoke … lots of cops ….

Number of times suckered by an interesting-sounding song into listening to a Christian rock station: Five

Idea that seemed brilliant after seven hours of driving: Fast food with a vegetable in it that (unlike a Big Mac or Subway sub) you can messlessly eat with one hand while driving. (Spinach McNuggets?) …

Idea that seemed brilliant after eleven hours of driving: A factory-installed, government-mandated system that takes over your car radio – even if you have it turned off or are listening to a CD -- and warns you to get the hell off the road if a tornado is coming or if you're heading into an area where, say, there's just been a terrorist attack with a biological weapon.

Can you get Starbucks iced mocha coffee in a roadside mom-and-pop gas station/convenience store in tiny Sierra Blanca, Texas, in the middle of frigging nowhere? Yes.

Friendliest people: New Haven, Connecticut. I can't explain it either. (But Instapundit noted it too.)

Bonus roadside political gossip: The real reason Texas Democrats are devastated by the 2002 results isn't their big loss in the governor's race, or even their bigger-than-anticipated loss in the Senate race, but their  loss of the famously-powerful Texas lieutenant governorship  by fewer than six percentage points. .... Now, not only is Republican Rick Perry the governor, but he may actually control the state government. ... 11:37 P.M.

A sign of how un-seriously Jack Anderson is taken these days: He writes a column (co-bylined with Douglas Cohn) saying that John McCain is "poised to switch parties" and that "[t]here is a 50-50 chance" both McCain and Sen. Lincoln Chafee will become Democrats -- and nobody pays any attention! ...Imagine what would have happened if David Broder had written the same thing. ...Of course, if Dem incumbent Sen. Landrieu loses her upcoming Louisiana runoff, even a McCain-Chafee double flip wouldn't give Democrats control of the Senate, as Anderson notes. ... I doubt there'll be such a switch even if Landrieu wins. But I do think it will take only the flimsiest pretext -- like failure in the war on terror, or success -- for McCain to run against Bush for president, either as a Democrat or an independent. [Doesn't he have to become a Democrat soon if he's going to run as one?-ed. The Feiler Faster principle -- and the Wendell Willkie Principle, for that matter -- suggest he has plenty of time.] 10:41 P.M Eastern

 Wednesday, November 20, 2002