Murdoch's Castro-friendly coverage gets weirder.

Murdoch's Castro-friendly coverage gets weirder.

Murdoch's Castro-friendly coverage gets weirder.

A mostly political Weblog.
April 27 2003 6:12 AM

La Revista Fidelista!

The silence of Murdoch gets truly bizarre.

It's the most shocking "Reliable Sources" ever! Kausfiles' special NEXIS Alternative UniverseTM service has come up with a partial transcript. ... 3:12 A.M.

The dirty little secret of pop music. ... I had no idea. ... Next, they'll come up with a "pitch correction" device for blogs -- it will position kausfiles automatically and electronically in perfect equipoise between left and right. (Turn up the anger knob to 11 and you get Pat Caddell!)  .... 12:09 A.M.

Moynihan still wrong! One of the very minor reasons to lament the premature passing of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is that we missed watching him eat the incredible amount of crow he'd have had to eat over his wildly non-prescient stance on welfare reform. Basically, the black anti-marriage trend he thought couldn't be stopped appears to have been reversed by the welfare reform he vehemently opposed. The latest confirming report appeared at the bottom of page A-13 of yesterday's NYT, though the Times did run a front-pager two years ago  when the first hints of the turnaround became evident.  Saturday's story says:

The portion of black families headed by single women continued to decline. It was 43 percent last year, one percentage point lower than 2000 and four points lower than in 1996. [Emphasis added.]


That was the year welfare was reformed, of course.. .. There has also been a less dramatic, but steady, increase in the percent of black families headed by married couples. "The six-year increase equals about 520,000 families," says the AP. ... The plodding, unconvincing liberal party line--advanced by the people with hyphenated last names who work at liberal think tanks and get quoted in AP stories--is that reversal doesn't have much to do with welfare reform. Rather, the economy did it! True, blacks did make huge economic strides in the booming job market of the late 1990s, and it's hard to believe that wasn't a factor. But the economy has boomed and busted before--and before the mid-1990s the family trends for blacks moved relentlessly downhill for decades ... I doubt that honest liberals such as Wendell Primus  (and careful government analysts like Richard Bavier) think that welfare reform wasn't also a major part of the cause. The smart liberal party line, I'd argue, is that we now know that welfare reform and a healthy economy will boost marriage and reduce illegitimacy--so why, exactly, do we need the Bush administration's vague and oversold "marriage initiative"? We're winning without it. ...

P.S.: Moynihan isn't alive to eat crow, but maybe those Washington pundits he conned into pessimism about welfare reform--e.g., George Will and Al Hunt--will eat it for him. 

Major Note of Caution: An  AP story last year (by the same reporter) trumpeting a pro-marriage trend among teenagers turned out to be a bit shaky--in part because it compared two different surveys (one of which may have, for example, included more early-marrying immigrants). So other welfare reformers should probably wait longer than I did to gloat about this particular report. Send it to Aberdeen for testing!  ...If I could find the actual Census data on the Web I'd feel a lot more confident. ... The general trend is still proving Moynihan wrong, however. ... 9:41 P.M.

Why Joe Lieberman and John Edwards Love Howard Dean: TNR'sestimable Ryan Lizza notes,

Just as Kerry is threatened by Dean in Kerry's must-win state of New Hampshire, Gephardt is threatened by Dean in Gephardt's must-win state of Iowa.


So Dean could knock off two big Dems before expiring on cue in the conservative South. That's the plan, anyway. ... 3:23 A.M.

The Murdoch party line becomes clearer: The NY Post manages to produce a long (by their standards) article dramatizing the hardship and perversity of the U.S. embargo of Cuba  without mentioning the current Cuban crackdown on dissidents, of which readers of the Post news pages remain blissfully unaware! The article even quotes one "Matthew Scott, the Cuba Travel Program coordinator at the Center for Constitutional Rights," to the effect that "Recently the [U.S.] government has been enforcing the embargo much more vigorously"--without bothering to explain the most obvious reason for this renewed anti-Cuba attitude! Conclusions: 1) The Post's Cuba coverage is now so bizarre it's hard to explain as anything other than a top-down editorial policy of ignoring the crackdown and criticizing the embargo (i.e., what Castro would print if he were editing the Post). Someone is sucking up to someone. 2) You can be against the embargo (I am) and also be against imprisoning dissidents. Indeed, as Ann Louise Bardach recently argued, Castro probably imprisoned the dissidents precisely because he secretly (not officially) loves the embargo and was scared support for it was eroding. Now, American outrage over his actions is prompting talk of a tighter embargo, which is probably just what Castro wanted. 3) How embarrassed are all the anti-Communist conservatives at the Post by their paper's Soviet-style suppression of the news?4) Murdoch's Weekly Standard hasn't exactly been on Castro's case either, according to NEXIS. I found one brief mention, in a Fred Barnes web-only column. ... I'm waiting for someone on the Murdoch payroll (Fred? Bill? Chris? David?) to have the guts to speak out publicly against el silencio. ... 2:35 A.M.

Just a reminder:

The dirtiest little secret about the Roaring '90s is that average working families gained almost no income.

     --Robert Reich, Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2001

By contrast, from 1997 to 2002, the weekly pay of the median worker rose almost 9 percent, to $656, after adjusting for inflation. The gains effectively erased almost two decades of declining pay.

     --David Leonhardt, New York Times, April 26, 2003


[Why drag out that old dead horse?--ed. 1) Advocates on the left are now lamenting, as they should, the disappearance under Bush of the Clinton era's economic gains. But then they should be forced to acknowledge that the Clinton era's economic gains actually happened  and that many of their complaints about the late '90s--it wasn't only Reich who complained--were wrong; 2) We're entering Democratic primary season, when the telegenically condescending tutorial skills of Brandeis' Reich will again be in demand. At this volatile historical moment, it's worth reminding bookers everywhere that he's full of it. His 2001 misstatement wasn't a false prediction of the future--the usual blog gotcha fare. It was a false description of the recent past. 3) Reich's political career is, unfortunately, not over. He lost in his recent run for Massachusetts governor, but is being mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2006 or even for the U.S. Senate should one of Massachusetts two Democratic incumbents leave office. Here's acredulous Boston Globe puffer on the subject that isn't worth registering and paying for.] 11:46 P.M.

Friday, April 25, 2003

WaPo goes out on a limb:

The actual mortality rate from SARS is likely to be higher or lower than the 6 percent rate that is currently estimated.


It's a good article otherwise. (No distracting human interest stories. Just the numbers!) 2:13 P.M.

What about crimes against, you know, citizens? A bold act of deep political cynicism from freshman Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who has dramatically proposed making crimes against the elderly--"be they psychological, sexual, physical or financial"--federal crimes. I'm sympathetic to the argument for federalizing everything--divide the country into 10 numbered sectors and be done with it! Life would be much simpler and law school (where complicated federal/state issues generate so much fancy analysis) would be a year shorter. But if fighting crime is supposed to be a local issue then surely ordinary crime against the elderly is part of what should be a local issue. If state and local police departments need federal money to fight crime then give them federal money to fight crime, not only to fight crime against old people. ... P.S: Let's see: Crimes against ethnic minorities and gays are possible federal hate crimes. Crimes against women are promoted as federal civil rights cases. Sometimes it seems as if the only local crimes left will be "crimes against those who don't belong to a powerful political constituency or vulnerable group with tearjerk appeal." Actually that sounds like a highly vulnerable group. Someone should introduce a federal bill to protect them. ... 12:34  P.M.

In mid-March, when there were rumors that polished, English-speaking Tariq Aziz, Iraq's former foreign minister, had defected, it made perfect sense. Except, of course, Aziz hadn't defected. Bad choice! He went down with the Hussein regime and is now in coalition custody. ... Given modern American culture's powers of rehabilitation, I still think if Aziz had played his cards right-- defection, interrogation, televised confession--he'd be hosting Saturday Night Live by now. ... Update: Maybe I spoke too soon. He's still got a shot! ... 1:31 A.M.

Thursday, April 24, 2003


Murdoch Stays Silent, Day 34:  Over a month after Fidel Castro began his crackdown against pro-democracy dissidents in Cuba -- sentencing some to jail terms of 27 years -- there's still been no news coverage in Rupert Murdoch's N.Y. Post, according to NEXIS and the Post's online search engine. Maybe there's been a little story that didn't make either of those search devices--but I haven't seen it, and I read it almost every day. ... You'd think the Post would at least order up a one-day ass-covering report to prevent people from writing items like this one. ... Why so soft on Fidel? The Iraq war has been over for many days, so the excuse that the Post was simply obsessed with Saddam's ouster is long gone. Rather, the suspicion that there's some high-level Murdochian finagling going on becomes more solid with each passing day. .. Memo to John Pod: What's your excuse? I'd always thought the Podhoretz clan considered combating Communism a matter of some importance. ... More: While Murdoch sleeps, blogger Matthew Hoy has posted the long list of the imprisoned. [Link via Instapundit] ... [Maybe Murdoch has a grander strategy, like undermining Castro by getting a license to broadcast Sky TV in Cuba!--ed. It worked in China! ... Oh, wait. It didn't. ... Anyway, that's no excuse for failing to report the news.] Update:Instapundit picks up the meme  and runs with it. ...4:43 P.M.

Now he tells us, II: George Will elaborates his jovially erudite point that building a democracy in Iraq--after the war he helped talk us into  with the argument that we successfully built democracies in Germany and Japan--won't be like Germany and Japan after all! In fact, it will be next to impossible! Ha, ha, ha. ... 4:19 P.M.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Ford has killed its new, recently-revived, "living legend" Thunderbird. Gearbox  comments. ... 2:08 A.M.


"I said it would 'be a contradiction.' I didn't say I wouldn't do it!" News on Drudge  that Sen. John Kerry may "dip into personal funds" for his campaign, after righteously implying he wouldn't -- see this  WaPo report-- stuns all those who have followed the man's political career! ... Update: Here's the Boston Globe story Drudge was talking about. ... 1:34 A.M.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Now he tells us: A few weeks ago (on March 2), before the Iraq invasion was a fait accompli, This Week's George Will knocked down pessimism about the prospects for building a democracy in Iraq:

FAREED ZAKARIA: (Off Camera) ... And my guess is in order to achieve anything resembling a kind of liberal, democratic government, American troops will have to stay in there for quite a while, to build the institutions of democracy. You see, there will be an incentive to get out quickly, not simply because we want to go home, but because people in the region, maybe even a lot of Iraqis are going to say, give us our self- determination. Everything we know about building democracies is if you go, if you get out quickly, the whole thing will be a shambles.

GEORGE WILL: (Off Camera) But, again, Japan was not a promise, after generations of military fascism was not a promising place for a laboratory of democracy, 1950, it was on the way to democracy, same was true of Germany. I'm not saying that ... [Will never gets to complete the sentence, though he does later say Americans have "staying power."]

But last Sunday, with the invasion accomplished, Will seemed to tell us the prospects aren't so good after all:

GEORGE WILL: (Off Camera) ... All they need in Iraq right now are the two Cs, the constitution and a currency and it's really hard to get to either of those things. The good news is, George, that they had a parliamentary moment in Iraq. It lasted 37 years. The bad news is it ended in 1958, so there's not much . . .

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: (Off Camera) They had a monarchy there, as well.

GEORGE WILL:(Off Camera) That's right. Not much living memory of this. They need a Washington, that is, someone who can symbolize the consensus of the country, they need a Madison to handle the factions in their country, but Madison wasn't [*] dealing in our Constitution with ethnic and sectarian factions the way they are there, and they need a Hamilton, someone who understands how to put together a national economy. Good luck. ...

Emphasis added. ... Some viewers thought they heard a final word --  "suckers!" -- at the end of Will's sound bite. But it doesn't turn up on the NEXIS transcript. ... [* -- I think the NEXIS transcriber misses a fairly important "not" at this point. I'd go to the videotape, if I had one. Update: My mother had a tape, and my memory was right. Will says "wasn't." The NEXIS transcript (which has him saying "was") is wrong.] 5:42 P.M.

Stepford & Son: If the TV viewing tasts of blacks and whites are converging, as this Stuart Elliott piece reports, why is that necessarily the result of networks having "scheduled additional series with ensemble casts reflecting what David N. Dinkins, the former New York City mayor, called the gorgeous mosaic." Maybe the tastes of blacks and whites are just converging -- as the black middle class and, yes, integration grows. But Elliott doesn't even consider that explanation. ... Does he fail to consider it because because it's not the explanation pushed by the organization that produced the study he's reporting? Or because he's blindered by robotic PC Timesian multiculturalist bias? ... Only time will tell! ... [Doesn't the study show that those shows popular with blacks as well as whites tend to have "multicultural casting."--ed. Sure. But that doesn't prove the point. Presumably blacks have always tended to watch shows with black characters. But why are those shows now in the top 20? On both white and black lists? Is itbecause (a) they didn't exist before? (If so, show it!) Is it because (b) the "mosaic" ensemble shows that were always there are now better?  Oris it because (c) blacks and whites are just more likely now to watch them -- the general convergence theory? ... Maybe (d) the number of shows targeted entirely at blacks (and unpopular with whites) has simply decreased, allowing universally-popular shows like "Law & Order" to move up into the top 20. ... If Elliott could point to specific shows that were all-white, then added black cast members and began to pull in blacks, he might make his case. On the other hand, if you could show that good multiracial ensemble shows have been overlooked by black (or white) audiences before, but are being watched now, that would point to a general convergence of taste, not a change in casting. ... As it is, Elliott and his source seem a bit too eager to come up with a tribalist explanation for a seemingly heartening decline in tribalist behavior.] 4:46 P.M.

Armchair generals open second front: Not only weren't there enough troops on the ground to prevent looting and anarchy, there weren't enough troops on the ground to secure evidence of Iraq's WMD! In fact, some of the looting (according to Bush hawk Douglas Feith) was looting of the evidence of WMD. Bart Gellman reports:

Senior U.S. officials with responsibility over postwar Iraq were highly critical of the delay in securing those facilities. One official interviewed in Kuwait described it as "the barn-door phenomenon." He said retired Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, the occupation governor of Iraq, sought special protection for 10 Iraqi ministries, identifying them as potential repositories of weapons data, but that only the Oil Ministry remained intact after U.S. ground forces took possession of Baghdad. Combat commanders, the official said, gave "insufficient priority to getting into these places," and "there wasn't enough force to accomplish that initial sequestering of buildings and records." [Emphasis added.]

2:38 A.M.

A stopped defeatist is right twice a day! Pro-war controversialists -- Mark Steyn, this means you! -- who think complaints about looting (and how we didn't have enough troops to stop it) are just desperate whining from the quagmirist find-something-wrong-with-Bush crowd should read this WaPo piece.

It was the city-wide looting, which began almost immediately after U.S. forces moved in and continued unabated for three days, that crystallized much of the anger toward the United States. Nearly every government installation, from secret-police interrogation centers to the Trade Ministry, was stripped of furniture and other valuables and then set afire. With the exception of the Oil Ministry and a few other strategic buildings, U.S. troops did little to stop the initial rampage.

Many of the buildings that are needed to reconstitute a new government have been gutted, including the foreign, health, education, planning, trade and information ministries. Although there is no palpable disapproval of the sacking of jails, presidential palaces and other symbols of Hussein's ostentatious lifestyle and repressive tactics, many Iraqis say they are offended that ministries and other facilities they require to have a functioning government were not protected by U.S. troops. ...[snip]

Perhaps most galling to people here was the looting of the National Museum of Antiquities, with its ancient Babylonian, Sumerian and Assyrian artifacts. ....

To be sure: I agree the piece isn't conclusive: The Iraqis seem to be the world's most conspicuous victims of the Feiler Faster principle. After a quarter century of dictatorship they get angry when things aren't better in twelve days! Nor is it clear what percentage of Iraqis share the sentiments of the "[m]ore than two dozen Baghdad residents interviewed" by WaPo's Rajiv Chandrasekaran. And maybe the anger will fade as quickly as it came once the power is turned back on. Still... 2:13 A.M.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Monica, honest and upfront: Monica Lewinsky's official Fox bio:

Lewinsky graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. For the past few years she has been designing an exclusive collection of handbags and accessories that are available at Raised in Los Angeles, Lewinsky currently lives in New York City and is considering a future career in law.

So that's why they gave her a TV show! ... 10:47 A.M.

Future Democratic stump line: President Bush has finally come out for universal health care ... in Iraq! ... [You're playing catch-up to David Broder on Meet the Press-ed. My version's punchier. It was use it or lose it.] 12:31 A.M.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Too Good to be Too Good to Check: Boy, do I wish someone other than Judith "my story got busted for a fishy quote just two weeks ago" Miller had gotten the big Iraqi WMD/Al Qaeda scoop (which, incidentally, reconfirms kf's eerie prescience that Saddam would destroy his weapons, not use them.) ... P.S.: Here's the direct link to the suddenly-relevant  NYT correction of the questionable quote. [Last item.] The Times' editors don't identify Miller by name. But her byline, along with Douglas Jehl's, was on the story. ... 11:56 P.M.

They got the memo: "We asked for just a few soldiers at each building, or if they feared snipers, then just one or two tanks ..." At least somebody in the U.S. government seems to be pissed off that the oil ministry was protected before the National Museum. The Washington Times  unearths the inevitable unread memo  from Jay Garner's Iraq-reconstruction office to the coalition's military commanders. "The museum was No. 2 on a list of 16 sites that [Garner's office] deemed crucial to protect." The oil ministry was last in priority. The military apparently ignored the advice. ...

P.S.: I don't see why it gets the U.S. off the hook if the looting was an "inside job." You can protect against inside jobs too, by preventing things from leaving the building -- like priceless statues that take ten men to lift. The issue isn't who did the stealing, but whether or not we screwed up and failed to do what we could. To the extent that our forces were taking fire from the museum and unable to safely protect it, we obviously didn't screw up. To the extent our forces didn't even know for several days that there was a museum there to protect (but did know there was a bank), or to the extent they decided to protect water storage facilities and other infrastructure rather than art work, it was a screw-up. Islamic terrorists twenty years from now won't be wooing recruits with the story of how the evil Americans smashed a water storage facility. They will be telling them about how the Americans burned ancient copies of the Koran and destroyed the heritage of the Arab world. ...

P.P.S.: There'a Unified Rumsfeld Critique emerging, which is that he waged the war well, as a war, but made mistakes when it came to winning the war in a way that would allow us to win the peace. Count #1 in this indictment is his failure to provide enough boots on the ground to provide order immediately following a military victory. Count #2 is his failure to read the memo from Garner's office and give priority to protecting Islamic cultural treasures. ... In Rumsfeld's defense, it can be said that a) he clearly tried to wage the war as humanely as possible, precisely for these long-range political and strategic reasons, and b) he made nine right decisions for every wrong decision. On the other hand, if you advocate a war policy that requires you to get 10 out of 10 things right if it's going to work -- i.e. if it's not going to produce more terrorism than it stops -- than you can properly be faulted if you only bat a brilliant .900. ... Rumsfeld should admit the mistakes instead of continuing to make weak don't-look-at-me-I'm-not-responsible excuses ("Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots, and problems, and looting.Stuff happens!"). ...

P.P.P.S.: Michael Barone properly credits the Goldwater-Nichols military reorganization for forcing a more unified command structure on the Pentagon's competing services, a "jointness" that worked to seemingly stunning effect in Iraq. ... Someone should also credit military reformers, such as the late Col. John "40 Second" Boyd, for championing the doctrines of flexible maneuver warfare that seem to have actually been embraced by the bureaucracy after our Vietnam defeat.  ... We might even give some thanks to ex-Sen. Gary Hart, before he humiliates himself again by running for president -- since it was Hart, among others, who brought Boyd and his co-conspirators to prominence in the Senate and the (Eastern, liberal, etc.) media. ... 11:04 P.M

$$$ for Art Update: The Met's Phillipe de Montebello gets behind the proposal  (made in the WSJ  by Hershel Shanks) proposal to offer "immunity and compensation" for return of Iraqi art. He says Karl Rove agrees. So it's done, right? ... 10:46 P.M.

A stopped clock is right twice a day but kf is right three times a day! Eerily prescient kf item of March 18, 2003:

If Saddam was smart, and was really concerned with making himself look good and the U.S. look bad after he's deposed, then his strategy wouldn't be to use his chemical weapons. It would be to destroy his chemical weapons, and the evidence of their existence, wouldn't it? [Thanks to alert kf reader D.J.] ...

Today's up-to-the-minute report from the LAT's Greg Miller:

Analysts at the CIA and elsewhere are increasingly examining the possibility that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's inner circle carried out elaborate plans to escape and leave little or no incriminating evidence behind, U.S. intelligence officials say. ...[snip]

Among the surprises were the regime's disappearance April 9, its failure to use any chemical or biological weapons against U.S. troops, and the fact that key ministries and facilities being searched by U.S. forces appear to have been "professionally" scrubbed by the departing regime. ... [snip]

Officials said CIA analysts are also exploring the possibility that Hussein's strategy never was to use chemical or biological weapons against the U.S. and that when war became inevitable, the regime focused on hiding whatever evidence hadn't already been destroyed or disguised.

"His last trick may have been to pour the remaining stuff down a rat hole," one former CIA official said. "What is the worst he could do: fire off a round at us, or have us come in and find nothing? Clearly, find nothing." [Emphasis added]

Finally, those sources from my stint in the CIA came in handy! ... More: See also Time, which seems to ignore the possibility that the weapons (and evidence of them) were destroyed. 9:39 P.M.

Paul Krugman was excellent on ABC's This Week today. It turns out that when he's in a room with high-status people who disagree with him he tones down his hyperbolic Bushies-are-evil last-angry-man foaming. Make him a regular! It's obviously good for him to get out of the house. ... [Link to This Week?--ed. Website is pathetic. No transcripts, unlike Meet the Press.] 6:21 P.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--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. Tom populists. B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.