Isn't this sort of thing supposed to happen in the crude, macho U.S.? Emmanuelle Richard, blogging bilingually on the horrible French scandal of the summer. It's worse than Kobe. ... P.S.: I would rely on Emmanuelle's own translation rather than the Google translator, which identifies Bryant as "the star of the marked tennis shoe of rape." [Actually that's kind of evocative-ed. I don't want to have to lawyer this item, OK?] ... 11:14 P.M.
Choke hold: Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the obvious savior of the Democrats in California--but the California Teachers Association "would choke on a Feinstein candidacy" because of her heretical willingness to support program of school vouchers for the District of Columbia, report the S.F. Chronicle's Matier and Ross. The D.C. voucher plan is just a) an experimental pilot program in b) a single city with c) a demonstrably bad school system, but that's still too much for the union. After all, it might work. ... Remedial reading for Louis Uchitelle: In other recall-related news, Governor Gray Davis has finally signed a budget. He gave a speech taking credit for avoiding harsh cuts. Daniel Weintraub concisely explains why this budget is--yes-- a house of cards based on wishful thinking and sleight of hand that merely postpones the pain!
The bottom line is that by next May, the state will almost certainly be facing a new shortfall of at least $12 billion--the same stubborn structural deficit that the governor and the Legislature have been ignoring since the dot-com crash in the spring of 2000.
Unfun facts: The state may have been $38 billion in the hole, but the budget still "raises the pay of state employees." No wonder the unions like the status quo. ... The budget also depends on "an unprecedented bond the state hopes to sell to repay the $10.7 billion deficit"--a bond issue that looks ever-so-slightly illegal. ... Psst ... : Prof. Rick Hasen thinks the whole Oct. 7 recall election will be postponed by the courts, but not put off all the way to March, 2004 (as Gov. Davis wants), ... Will the courts also extend the time to file against Davis and thus prolong the Democrats' agony? ...9:53 P.M.
Saturday, August 2, 2003 Beeblogger Daniel Weintraub, reflecting worries of GOP analyst Tony Quinn, seems to think there's a chance the California Supreme Court will use a strained legal interpretation to intervene and cancel the "replacement" part of the October 7 gubernatorial recall (meaning that if Gov. Davis loses the recall vote, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante would automatically become governor without an election). I share Quinn's fear of a Bush-v.-Gore like judicial intervention on "stop the madness" grounds. It seems significant that the California court scheduled written briefsin the case (instead of just throwing it out of court). Why'd they do that if they weren't willing to be convinced they have a basis for blocking the "replacement" election? ...2:03 A.M.
Saturday, August 2, 2003
Beeblogger Daniel Weintraub, reflecting worries of GOP analyst Tony Quinn, seems to think there's a chance the California Supreme Court will use a strained legal interpretation to intervene and cancel the "replacement" part of the October 7 gubernatorial recall (meaning that if Gov. Davis loses the recall vote, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante would automatically become governor without an election). I share Quinn's fear of a Bush-v.-Gore like judicial intervention on "stop the madness" grounds. It seems significant that the California court scheduled written briefsin the case (instead of just throwing it out of court). Why'd they do that if they weren't willing to be convinced they have a basis for blocking the "replacement" election? ...2:03 A.M.
Friday, August 1, 2003
Friday, August 1, 2003
Missed in the Guerillas, II: Hassan Fatah, in the New Republic, says that not only would "small groups of resistance fighters unconnected to each other" be a more dangerous foe than an "organized 'guerrilla-type campaign' orchestrated by Saddam loyalists"--but the former is exactly the threat we're facing.
It seems as if a new anti-American group is popping up every day. None of these groups appear to be coordinating with each other or with any of Saddam's former top lieutenants. And none show a desire to see Saddam return.
The Pentagonwishes we were facing an organized guerrilla force of Baath loyalists. ... P.S.: Tribal codes that require revenge killings if American troops kill civilians are one cause of the attacks, apparently. (They're clearly a factor in the horrifying incident recounted in Anthony Shadid's latest WaPo dispatch.) ... Fatah sketches a strategy American forces are using to respond to the new threat. ... The other obvious strategy is for our troops to get out as soon as it's feasible. ... [Note: I think that link will get you past TNR's ill-advised subscription firewall. If it doesn't, complain to TNR co-owner Roger Hertog!] 12:59 P.M.
More Democrats standing firm behind Gov. Gray Davis!
"I don't know."--Democratic state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, when asked whether he'll "jump ship."
"I would never rule anything out. It depends on how we are doing. "--Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, on whether she might defy Davis and enter the race to replace him.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
We are with you, Caesar! You know that game-theory version of chicken where you throw the steering wheel out the window to prove you're serious? Well, the Democrats aren't exactly doing that when it comes to the vote on recalling Calif. Gov. Gray Davis. Here, from Roll Call, are today's ringing endorsements of Davis's official strategy, which calls for no Democrats to enter the race to succeed him (link via The Note; helpful emphasis added):
"I'm just going to do everything I can—until informed otherwise—to fight against the recall. Right now, as far as I know, we're all fighting against the recall."--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).
"We have to see how the public reacts. ... Let's just see how the public reacts. There's still time."--Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
"I have no further comment." --Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who is being urged by some Democrats to defy Davis and jump into the race.
Looks like Davis can rest easy! 1:55 P.M.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Missed in the Guerrillas: Sunday's This Week featured a long and now-familiar discussion of whether the killings of American soldiers in Iraq a) are a coordinated "guerrilla war," or b) are less centralized, uncoordinated attacks. The assumption seems to be that a) would be much worse news for the U.S.--look what guerillas did to us in Vietnam!--than b) would be. Here's Fareed Zakaria:
[M]y sense is that the resistance is also getting less centralized and more sporadic, which is the crucial issue because clearly we are facing guerrilla operations but this is not a guerrilla war because you do not have the same kind of central control. If you think of the Vietnam analogy, which many people are foolishly making, that was the case where you had an inexhaustible supply of people, long supply lines into North Vietnam and the guerrillas were being helped by not just the north Vietnamese government but two superpowers, China and Russia. None of that applies here. Here you have isolated bands of Fedayeen who kind of decide let's look at this road and see if you -find Americans coming down, take them out. Terrible tragedy but a very different circumstance. ... [snip] By and large the attacks do not seem to have the character of an organized resistance in the sense they're not advancing any objectives and finally, frankly, I mean, the people I've talked to say there's absolutely no, within the Pentagon, say there is absolutely no evidence that it's centrally directed.
I don't understand. Why is it a bad thing for us if the attacks are part of a centrally-directed "guerrilla" campaign, and a good thing if they are just random, uncoordinated, spontaneous incidents? If they're centrally coordinated, that seems good, because then we can find the central people who are coordinating them and stop them. Kill the head and the body will die. But if American soldiers are dying daily in attacks that are spontaneous and uncoordinated, then it would seem that we are in trouble. How are we going to stop that? (Other than by leaving Iraq?) Our only hope would seem to be to somehow further lower the general level of hostility so that fewer individuals reach the boiling point--something aggressive military operations are unlikely to accomplish. ...
In this respect, the struggle to pacify Iraq is an obvious synecdoche for the larger global war on terrorism. In both, the Bush administration's strategy seems to be to a) track down existing terrorists and kill them, while b) demolishing the institutional structures that support them. But in either case, if the terrorism is produced by free-floating individuals without much institutional coordination, and if the supply of such individuals is elastic, rather than finite, the strategy by itself seems likely to be ineffective. ... Jihad-like terrorism is not like the North Vietnamese guerrilla campaign --not because in some cases it isn't centrally coordinated, but because it doesn't need that much coordination to succeed. That's the problem! No?... Update: Ex-Army officer Phil Carter seems to agree:
A decentralized enemy that fights from many different directions with loose coordination is precisely the kind of threat we are not organized to defeat.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Are the Dems about to ditch Davis? The latest rumor going around makes so much sense I doubt its veracity--it's logical enough to have started spontaneously. Here it is: 1) DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, desperate to hold the governorship of California for his party, convinces popular U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein to jump into the race next week, two days before the filing deadline; 2) What can incumbent Democratic Gov. Gray Davis do? Nothing. He won't accept it. He'll fight the recall vote. But if his fellow Democrats--many of whom hate him--turn their backs on him en massehe'll lose the recall by a huge margin. Feinstein will win the "replacement election" easily. 3) This strategy also should knock out Arianna Huffington, who has said she won't run if Feinstein runs. 4) Who then gets appointed to fill Feinstein's U.S. Senate seat? Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante! Democrats get points for having a Latino Senator. ... The only obvious flaw I see in this deliciously backstabbing strategy is that Davis' polls will probably not be that bad until Feinstein jumps in, so the rationale for ditching Davis may be weak. But I guess McAuliffe can argue that the party can't take the risk. ...Reader J.B. notes another flaw: Unless DiFi promises not to run for reelection as Governor in 2006 (and why should she?) this move would force California's other ambitious Democratic state constitutional offficers--e.g. Attorney General Lockyer, Insurance Commissioner Garamendi, Treasurer Angelides--to abandon any hope of running for governor until 2010. They may not go along. Wait a minute: Daniel Weintraub, who actually broached this idea in late June, notes that Angelides or Lockyer could then be named to fill Bustamante's Lt. Gov job, which would in turn open up Angelides' or Lockyer's job, etc.. ... Everybody moves up a notch! It's beautiful. ... Update: The secret DoomDavis plan may already have been put into action. .... Buried lede: But kf's omnipresent spies say Arianna's been telling her co-conferees at Walter Isaacson's Davosesque Aspen "Brainstorm" conference that she's learned Feinstein's not running--and that she, Arianna, is. ... Note to Walter, Arianna: Don't even try to find out my source! I have so many potential agents in place you'll never sort through them all! ... 9:27 P.M.
The Green/Queen Axis! A debate today on DemocracyNow! clarifies the Huffington-Camejo Pact. Asked if he will drop out of the race should Huffington enter it, Green Party candidate Camejo says:
I am already running. And I'm urging Arianna Huffington to enter the race. And I'm offering to--we're the Green Party, we're going to offer to form a bloc with her. And as we approach the end of the election, if it is possible for us to win by unifying our forces, we'll take whatever steps are necessary.
This "drop out in September" strategy makes the more sense for both Huffington and Camejo than an immediate Camejo withdrawal would. Why not maximize Green Party support (Camejo claims his base is "people of color"), maximize Huffington support, and then slap the two together at the end? Why isn't this a highly promising strategy, in an election that might be won with 21% of the vote? It's my impression the establishment of neither party is taking this threat seriously enough. Update: Maybe the Democrats, at least, are. See above item. ... P.S. One seemingly surefire way to knock out Arianna is to get her Republican ex-husband Michael to run. On DemocracyNow! she repeats her pledge that, for the sake of her daughters, "if my ex-husband decides to go ahead and run, that would preclude my run." ...P.P.S.: At the moment, Camejo seems a more polished candidate than Arianna, who gets herself trapped arguing that 1) the recall is bad because Republicans have been bankrolling it, "buying signatures" and using "people who are not even Californians" to collect them, but 2) the recall represents the "will of the people" who should rightly be outraged at Gray Davis' "disastrous policies."... If the public is so mad at Davis, then wouldn't they have signed petitions that were presented by unpaid, in-state signature-gatherers? (Anti-Davis activist Ted Costa points this out, and actually claims there were "more than enough signatures" even without the ones obtained by paid signature-gatherers.) ... P.P.P.S.: Neither Arianna nor Camejo is in a position to make the major legitimate criticism of the recall process, which is the lack of a runoff--since it's only the lack of a runoff that gives them such a good shot at winning (as Arianna herself candidly notes). 12:31 P.M.
A Huffington-Green Deal? Arianna Huffington claimed on Sunday that Green Party candidate Peter Camejo had agreed to drop out and throw his support to her in the California governor's race, according to David Talbot's near-cheerleading account in Salon:
Huffington told the gathering that she has also won key Green Party support, with Peter Camejo, the party's recall candidate, agreeing to drop out and back her after she announces. "He told me that now is the time for the Green Party to be part of a winning campaign to change the political structure." Camejo won 5 percent of the vote running against Davis last year, and with some analysts predicting the next governor could be elected with a mere 20 percent of the vote, that's a significant base for Huffington. [Emph. added]
But kf has already received an email that at least appears to be from an official Camejo organization (votecamejo.org) denying such a deal. It reads, in part:
Hi folks, I wanted to get you a quick update on the Huffington situation. We've gotten a lot of questions about this recently. Peter will be sending out a more detailed report on his meeting with her in a few days, but for now let me say this: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will Peter drop out of the race if Arianna runs. ... [snip] All we have done is BEGIN discussions about POSSIBLY working together if she enters the race.
It being the middle of the night, I am unable to verify the authenticity of the email, but will keep you updated. Update: It seems to have been authentic. ... P.S.: Why would Camejo wait "a few days" to clarify what Arianna's announcing right now? Does he have Schwarzenegger's Indecision Syndrome? (See preceding item.) ... Buried lede: If Camejo does back Huffington, and nobody prominent enters the race on the left, then as Talbot notes an actual Arianna victory (with a tiny plurality of the vote) is not beyond the bounds of imagination. Someone should right now be panicking at this possibility. ... 3:15 A.M.
Why is Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly dithering? If he's going to get out of the governor's race, he could just get out. Yet, as Daniel Weintraub notes, some of his advisers seem to be leaking that he's out, while others are issuing statements saying he hasn't made up his mind. Weintraub's theory: Schwarzenegger's waiting for his buddy Richard Riordan to have an alternative campaign ready. My theory: Schwarzenegger's hoping to provoke a groundswell of popular support, a public clamor for his entry that will drown out any objections his wife and others might have. ...1:14 A.M. Monday, July 28, 2003 How to 'Presume' Your Way onto the NYT Front Page: The New York Times's Gloomy Louie Uchitelle will paint the economy in any color as long as it's black. A few points about today's dose of determined depression, "Red Ink in States is Beginning to Hurt Economic Recovery."
Monday, July 28, 2003
How to 'Presume' Your Way onto the NYT Front Page: The New York Times's Gloomy Louie Uchitelle will paint the economy in any color as long as it's black. A few points about today's dose of determined depression, "Red Ink in States is Beginning to Hurt Economic Recovery."
1) As my colleague Eric Umansky's "Today's Papers" notes, The second graf of Uchitelle's story contains this astonishing sentence:
In California alone, a tentative budget deal will presumably require the state to rid itself of at least $8 billion in current spending, with the cuts likely to fall most heavily on education and aid to the poor. [Emph. added]
Since when do NYT reporters writing the day's front-page lead story get away with saying "presumably" instead of finding out what's "actually"? Using speculative fudge-words like "presumably" is what we bloggers do! Heck, I can be a NYT reporter if that's all it takes. As Umansky notes, Uchitelle's "presumably" speculation is almost certainly wrong. The budget deal actually closes the multi-billion dollar gap mainly with borrowing, not spending cuts--and there's little reason to think next year's deficit will be handled differently. (See the LAT report here and the Sacramento Beeblogger's report here.)
2) The chart accompanying Uchitelle's story shows the states running surpluses during the boom and big deficits during the current slowdown. But wait a minute ...deficits stimulate the economy. So the Times's chart actually shows the states countercyclically doing what they are supposed to be doing--the opposite of the story Uchitelle's trying to tell. What "hurts the economic recovery" is when prospective deficits lead to spending cuts. Undoubtedly states are cutting back spending--though there's very little quantification of this in Uchitelle's piece, except for his admission that state spending is actually still growing by "barely 1 percent annually" (though it's growing less rapidly than before). To the extent states do cut spending, of course, those ominous-looking deficit bars on the Times' ominous-looking graph would be smaller, not bigger.
3) Unable to document the size of the spending cuts, Uchitelle shifts mid-piece to arguing that needed services are being trimmed--i.e. "Medicaid outlays are still rising in California but no longer enough to cover inflation"--which is an interesting point but not the point about harming the recovery that Uchitelle started off trying to make. But hey, it's bad news, so throw it in!
4) Other dire developments decried by Uchitelle include include a) "parallel" tax cuts in states that link their tax collections to now-lower federal taxes; b) delayed payments to pension savings plans, and c) optimistic forecasts that allow spending to continue. These are all bad things--but, again, they're all stimulative moves, contradicting Uchitelle's alleged thesis.
5) What will Uchitelle do when the economy recovers? He'll write a long, Timesian apology admitting and correcting his errors! Presumably.
Note to Bill Keller: If you can't do something about this guy, why take the job?
Update: The Sacramento Bee's Daniel Weintraub, who knows more about the California budget than I do, reams Uchitelle's embarrassingly lazy reporting . It turns out that "more than half of the reported spending reduction is actually a tax increase -- the $4 billion tripling of the car tax." This tax increase gets recorded as a spending cut for arcane California-specific reasons that Weintraub explains. ... The tax increase is a Keynesian drag on the economy, but it's still not what Uchitelle says it was. (If he had decried state tax increases as 'hurting the economy,' he might have sounded a bit ... well, Republican.) Other California "spending cuts" turn out to be simple bookkeeping gimmicks. Contrary to Uchitellle's story of $12 billion in already-made cuts--and $8 billion more in mythical "presumably" cuts--Weintraub thinks that when you add up all the gimmicks "it's possible that actual government outlays in California will rise, not fall, in the year ahead."
More: Alert kausfiles reader P.L. notes that Uchitelle's stunningly vaporous second graf also says:
Over the past two years, the states have gradually cut between $20 billion and $40 billion — no one knows exactly how much — from their spending.
Why does no one know exactly how much? Is it unknowable? Couldn't a reporter for, say, a prestigious national paper call around to the fifty states, compare one year's projected spending with the next year's actual spending, and add it up? Then someone would know exactly how much! But why bother, when you can get on Page A1, Col. 6, without all that tedious work, just by winging a vague estimate and writing that "no one knows"! 9:39 P.M.
'Let's not party': Arnold Schwarzenegger won't run for California governor, and the announcement could come "as soon as today," reports Beeblogger Daniel Weintraub. ... P.S.: Drudge notes that he had this last Wednesday. ...9:26 A.M.
Why the NYT Matters, Part CCXVIII: Heather Mac Donald on how the New York Times can get a story wrong--hyping a report on Patriot Act "abuse"--and lead most of the rest of the press into error. ... P.S.: Here's Philip Shenon's original, exaggerated Times story,for a price. Shenon's pretty clearly puffing up the report in a way that serves his source in the office of Rep. John Conyers.. ...[Link via Lucianne] P.P.S.: See also David Tell's Shenon takedown. ... 2:35 A.M.
How to make the Davis Recall even wackier: In California, it's legal to pay people to vote! Prof. Rick Hasen suggests "Democrats can target such payments in poor neighborhoods to get out the vote." ... 1:58 A.M.
Bushism of the Day:
"The obligation of the United States government is to rapidly internationalize the effort in Iraq, get the target off of American troops, bring other people, particularly Muslim-speaking and Arab-speaking Muslim troops, into the region."
Do you speak Muslim? Has Bush discovered another language? The embarrassing misstatements keep coming! Er ... except that this one was from Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, not from Bush. But if Bush had said it it would have been a Bushism! [Stolen from Brothers Judd.] 1:23 A.M.
Cheap Gotcha Item of the Day:
I have no interest in running for office because I don't think that's where the changes are going to come from.
--Arianna Huffington, way back in February. Huffington now says she is considering entering the race for governor of California.
I thought I'd get to that one before Gray Davis hired gun Chris Lehane (or Huffington's ex-husband Michael) did. ... 12:53 A.M.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Sunday, July 27, 2003
The Anti-Panetta Vendetta Begins: Points West blogger Scott Moore, who identifies himself as a California "Dem party activist for over a decade," says "numerous recent conversations with high-placed Democratic party officials" have convinced him that
former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta is all but certain to put his name on the ballot in the recall election.
Moore goes on to make a highly unconvincing argument that Panetta would be "a disaster for California Democrats and for the state in general," citing Panetta's "autocratic White House ways." Was Panetta an autocrat? That would be news to me. ... I suspect Moore's real beef is a Begala-like complaint that Panetta's too centrist. ... P.S.: Panetta's stage-setting op-ed in the LAT this morning is drearily responsible (lots of talk about the "breakdown of trust that is essential to governing ..." etc.) but Panetta's right about the pernicious effect of gerrymandering (and of course about campaign fund-raising'). .... Note to Arianna: Isn't this your platform? So what's your rationale for running against Panetta? He was wrong on the 1996 welfare reform too, remember! .... P.P.S.: It's possible, of course, that at this point Arianna has higher statewide name i.d. than the bland, goo-goo Panetta does. And Moore is--unfortunately--probably right that Panetta's "dreams of being the 'consensus' candidate are nothing short of delusional." ... 1:48 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 Charlie Peters' proto-blog. 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. Calmer Times--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--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog. B-Log--Blog of spirituality! Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]