Arnold: Hitting below the line?

Arnold: Hitting below the line?

Arnold: Hitting below the line?

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 15 2003 6:07 PM

Hitting 'Below the Line'

Plus: Gray marriage!

It's the Battle of the Recall Reformers! Berkeley's Bruce Cain has five recommendations  here. Loyola's Rick Hasen has his five recommendations here

--Both want to raise the number of signatures required to trigger a recall. Fair enough--though only Hasen admits that Gray Davis' opponents would probably have met even his higher threshold. ...

--Both want to raise the signature requirements for becoming a candidate too. That seems more debatable, since one of the glories of this recall has been the egalitarian, anyone-can-run atmosphere. (Meanwhile, complaints about the long ballot seem overblown. Are citizens who routinely negotiate a typical cable TV guide or sushi menu really unable to find their candidate among 135 names, if the ballot is laid out clearly?) ....  

--But if you're going to have lots of candidates, you should have some means of insuring that the winner gets more than a tiny plurality of the vote. Hasen proposes either a runoff or "instant runoff voting," in which voters rank their first, second, and third choices, with their votes redistributed if their top picks don't make the cut. Cain, as far as I can tell, merely proposes that the challenged officeholder (e.g. Gray Davis) be permitted to run in any "replacement" election. That would make it unlikely that a recalled officeholder would have more support than the winning replacement candidate (though it wouldn't be impossible if you count second choices)--but it would do little to insure that the eventual victor at some point wins a majority instead of a possibly-small plurality. ....

Advantage: Hasen! ... P.S.: Anti-recallers might note that there are no runoff provisions in a regular California election either! If there are three candidates, the winner could have a mere 35 percent of the vote. That rarely happens because a) the parties have primaries that winnow out candidates and b) voters want their "vote to count," so at the end of a campaign they tend to make a choice between the two leading contenders. But this second dynamic is also operating in the current recall--it's highly likely that in the end voters will gravitate to one of the top two candidates, probably Bustamante and Schwarzenegger. Which means it's also not so unlikely that if Davis is recalled the eventual winner will get more votes (around 40 percent) than the highly unpopular Davis gets in the first, up-down, recall-or-not portion of the ballot. ...But there should still be a runoff. ... 3:34 A.M.


Blog scoop of the day: On Reason's "Hit & Run," Matt Welch catches Arianna Huffington in 1994 praising Prop. 187, the anti-illegal-immigrant law she now denounces and claims she voted against. ... It's not a 100 percent contradiction of meaning, but it's close to a 100 percent contradiction of tone. ... If Arianna really voted against 187, then she wasn't leveling back in 1994. But maybe the time when she wasn't leveling was recently, when she said she voted against it--because on his own blog Welch also catches her saying some not-crazy things about illegal (and legal!) immigration the year after the 187 vote, including:

Those who have really been affected are working-class Americans who are being pushed off the ladder of opportunity by illegal immigrants representing an unending source of cheap labor, or who feel it's unfair for them to pay for illegal immigrants on welfare while they themselves can barely make ends meet.

If Arianna would freely admit her shifting positions and joke about them, almost all would be forgiven. It's bizarre that she hasn't been displaying in public the self-deprecating humor that wins over dinner guests in private. ... 3:12 A.M.

Monday, August 18, 2003


The San Jose News' Laura Kurtzman reviews the Field Poll data and concludes, "Despite Schwarzenegger's celebrity, voters appear to be evaluating him in much the same way they do other candidates." [Link via The Note.] ... Come to think of it, isn't the big loser in the Field Poll not Schwarzenegger, who did much worse than expected, but WaPo'sfaux-neolib columnist, E.J. Dionne, who, groping for anti-recall arguments,  portrayed California voters as dumb, sheep-like fans awed by Arnold's movie-star status--as he put it, "spectators to a distant clash in which celebrity is the only thing that matters." Looks like a few other things matter after all. ... 9:46 P.M.

Arnold's through! ... No, wait, not yet! Weintraub  blogs a Monday "scener"  on why Bustamante's surprising Field Poll showing doesn't doom A.S. ...Meanwhile, at least five serious candidates are unveiling   competing budget solutions (see also here) . In Sacramento they're finally getting serious about reforming the state's troubled worker's comp system. Yes, it's a disaster for democracy! Just as George Will and David Broder said. ... P.S.: One reason Schwarzenegger is having trouble might be that he doesn't understand the Feiler Faster Principle.  "We will be rolling out our policy positions and vision for California on our timetable," says his spokesman Sean Walsh. That's his right--but with the rapid pace of "what's the latest?" stories, the two weeks Schwarzenegger gets hammered for not having anything to say is more like what a two month hammering used to be. This isn't a stately Terminator 3 rollout where the media and public will obediently wait for the star. ... 12:37 P.M.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 4: Gray Davis' reputation is partly captured in this Matt Welch post, quoting an actual Davis friend:

Gray is kind of a, you know, this kind of guy who polls for the answer. ... There's not much that Gray stands for -- and I like Gray personally -- but Gray doesn't stand for anything. That's his problem politically right now. You know, Gray stands for Gray. And so, as something moves forward, his calculus is not 'What do I feel in my gut or my heart?' His calculus is 'What sounds good? What polls good? I don't wanna make a mistake that could cost me politically.'


Two other sources confirm this reputation evidence. So it must be true! ... National political commentators seem to assume the revolt against Davis is a sort of know-nothing, times-are-bad-throw-the-bums-out spasm. After all, his centrist policies are what voters want. Why dump him? But in fact the essential Davis critique is a fairly sophisticated, Beltway-quality analysis, along the lines of: "Even though we agree with his centrist politics, a) he's corrupted by his insatiable campaign finance needs; and b) he's cautious and does only what the polls tell him it's safe to do." In short, he's a state-of-the-art modern politician. If voters rebel against that, are they being vulgar, or subtle? ... Davis seems to be what people thought Clinton was, a man with no core principles other than self-advancement. ...

What's So Bad About Arnold Schwarzenegger Anyway? Schwarzenegger's reputation, meanwhile--which I've heard from one reliable source, one eyewitness ultra-reliable source, and one unreliable Premiere article-- is this: He bullies people "below the line." That is, he bullies the technicians, costumers, etc. who aren't billboardable talents. Is it to get his way? No--he's the star and he's going to get his way anyway. It's from an ugly sense of pleasure in others' discomfort. ... Will this unpleasant character trait come out in the campaign? Schwarzenegger may learn, as Howell Raines learned, that it's harder to get away with being a bigshot prick than it used to be. ... On the other hand, if I were being hounded by investigative journalists, I'd sure want them to be investigative journalists from the L.A. Times. The Times'record of failing to destroy its targets is legendary. Under its new management the paper is better than it was, but culture is hard to change. ... 2:18 P.M.

I like Arianna Huffington. Really. Any author who can come up with $410,363 in deductions is a friend of freelance writers everywhere. But Mark Steyn's anti-Arianna column is still very funny, and it includes what may be the cold-water-realistic epitaph of her gubernatorial campaign:

Label-wise, she's more of a trickle-down populist, who figures if you network at enough A-list parties,word will eventually leak out to the 29 million Californians who weren't invited.


Marc Cooper likes Arianna too, and on his way to actually endorsing her makes  a left-wing anti-anti-recall case. ... Point #3 (labeling as a "myth" the idea that "organized labor is the force behind progressive politics") I read as a swipe at Cooper's L.A. Weekly comrade, H. Meyerson. (See below.) ... P.S.: Did you know Bustamante was a Lieberman guy? I like that in an ex-Mechista! (For a Bustamante-pegged discussion of the Mecha organization and its racialist, neo-secessionist ideology, see Tacitus.) ... 1:53 A.M.

To the many emailers accusing kf of being too recall-o-centric: The coming California vote is shaping the political discourse in ... Venezuela! If it sells in Caracas, it's good enough for kausfiles. ... 1:30 A.M.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Weintraub reports that Gray Davis is about to sign a bill to give gay and lesbian partners "marriage-style rights, benefits and responsibilities."  Apart from the merits of the bill, is this an attempt to put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the spot? If Schwarzenegger endorses gay unions, he loses lots of votes on the right, no?  ... Will A.S. be heard from? [He's on vacation-ed. Not Sullivan, idiot. We know what he thinks.] ... Wouldn't the easy counter be for Schwarzenegger to find something in the bill he thinks goes too far, but say he endorses the principle? He's in a Clintonian middle position. Clintonian times call for Clintonian measures! ...  5:04 P.M.


If there's gloom, there's room: Got bad news? Call Greg Winter at the New York Times! ... 4:56 P.M.

Friday, August 15, 2003 

Quote of the Day: "Lloyd doesn't need more pins. He needs more dolls." (From J. Walls' Scoop) 6:20 P.M.

Ann Coulter has good sport with Harold Meyerson, who has written 783 consecutive articles (783, 782, 781  ...) predicting that the unionized Latino working class will lead California--make that America--into the progressive future. Meyerson, faced with the grim prospect of writing at least another decade's worth of the same tedious piece before his prediction comes true, flails helplessly here. He even resorts to the deeply offensive left-wing cliche:

[W]hen the Golden State's white middle class riots, it normally happens at the ballot box.


I thought it was an election! ... [Sorry. Welch made that point yesterday-ed.] ... Meyerson's piece does indulge in some good Bustamante-bashing ("one of the dimmer stars in California's political firmament"), noting that many unions don't like him. He also points out that Arianna Huffington now "looks perfectly positioned to play the role of a Nader spoiler," throwing a close election to Schwarzenegger. ... Maybe the long-awaited Arnold-Arianna "Armani Alliance" has materialized after all. ... 2:46 P.M.

As predicted in an eerily semi-prescient item, fusty East Coast commentators, horrified by the plebiscitary messiness in California, face a dilemma: How to somehow acknowledge the burst of citizen involvement sparked by the recall without praising the recall itself, or (heaven forbid) its unsporting Republican backers? WaPo's E.J. Dionne rises to the challenge today with a two-prong approach: 1)Blame broadcasters, for failing to cover the California budget politics before now; 2) Scoff at the celebrity factor, claiming the "Arnold Effect" is the only reason the craven press and the voters are paying attention now. ... The obvious, fatal problem with Dionne's thesis is that the recall was big news--certainly in California, but also nationally--way before Schwarzenegger entered the race, indeed when everyone was certain he wouldn't enter the race. .. Dionne also risks surrendering the populist card by portraying California voters as dumb cows who are mere "spectators to a distant clash in which celebrity is the only thing that matters."  Note to E.J.: It was the last election, the regular Davis vs. Simon race in 2002, where voters felt like mere "spectators to a distant clash." That's why turnout was so low. P.S.: Why make two phone calls before producing a column? Isn't that overdoing it? One is surely sufficient. And if you become a blogger, you can do even better than that! ... P.P.S.: I'm afraid Sen. Dianne Feinstein belongs with Dionne,  Broder and George Will  in the fusty anti-recall camp, except that her fear of democratic chaos (how can you plan a summer in Aspen if one of these nasty election things might pop up at a moments notice?) had real-world consequences, prompting her to refuse pleas to get into the race. The result will probably be the Democratic loss of the governorship. ... 2:08 P.M.

Thursday, August 14, 2003 

L.A. Weekly's William Bradley, who is very plugged in with Schwarzenegger and ain't afraid to let you know it, has some insights into A.S.'s politics, and an explanation for why he may not have let his ally, ex-L.A. mayor Richard Riordan, in on his surprise decision to run:

So did Schwarzenegger "mug" his friend Riordan, who had already endorsed him on Fox News in late June, by not telling him he had decided to run after all, as claimed by yet another unnamed source? Only those two know for sure what was said. But consider the logic of the situation. Riordan is notoriously garrulous. He is an old friend of Feinstein. They have many mutual friends. Would you trust him to keep arguably the biggest secret of your life?

Rational paranoia or egomania? You make the call! ... Also:

The hard truth is there [was] no Riordan operation. Riordan had detailed his former aide Noelia Rodriguez, now first lady Laura Bush's press secretary, to set up a campaign team. Told by the White House she would have to resign to work for Riordan, she returned to Washington with the task undone

As for the politics, Bradley describes A.S. as the heir to Pete Wilson's "kinder and gentler" aide, the late Otto Bos:

... moderate to liberal on social and environmental issues, fiscally conservative but focused on intervening to help people at critical stages in their lives (say childhood development, basic education, opportunities for higher education, job training).

I have some question as to whether this is actually Arnold's bedrock philosophy or rather the philosophy Bradley (who was a senior advisor and California political director for Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign) hears in part because he wants to hear it and urge it on his candidate. ... P.S.: Bradley is critical enough to say that A.S.'s "evasions were not artful and raised questions about the neophyte candidate's grasp of specifics." ...  3:27 P.M.

Kausfiles comes to you uninterrupted from California, where we always have power, thanks to the farsighted leadership of Gov. Gray Davis and about $40 billion. ... 3:09 P.M.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003 

Hold the Hispanic Hype: WaPo's Terry Neal lectures former Gov. Pete Wilson, who dared suggest that Arnold Schwarzenegger's support of California's anti-illegal-immigrant Prop. 187 might not hurt him because 59 percent of Californians voted for Prop. 187 in 1994:

... Wilson misses several points:

1) The demographics of the state have changed significantly in the last decade.

2) The level of political activism of that changing demographic can be directly attributed to his actions.

These are not points Schwarzenegger can afford to miss –- or refuse to address –- if he hopes to be elected governor. [Emph. added]

Or as Democratic Party chair Art Torres put it, in responding to Wilson on ABC's This Week, "1994, yeah"--Torres' implication (like Neal's) being that the rising Latino population had changed the electorate dramatically in the years since then.

A little persepctive! The Latino share of California's population has, of course, been increasing. And Latinos were mobilized to vote as never before by the 187 fight. But the Latino share of the overall vote started out small and has grown by only a few percentage points (in part because Latinos don't register in proportion to their share of the population and in part because the turnout of Latinos on election day seems to be erratic). Here is the Latino share of the vote in the last three gubernatorial elections, according to the L.A. Times:

1994: 8 percent

1998: 13 percent

2002: 10 percent

The LAT, which traditionally plays a cheerleading role in trumpeting rising Latino power, had actually (citing "experts") predicted that the Latino share would make a "modest" rise to 17 percent  in 2002. Instead it fell to 10 percent.

Undoubtedly it will rise again, and continue rising over time. It wouldn't be shocking if the Latino share did hit the LAT's 17 percent in this recall election. The point is, the change is still only a few percentage points. Latinos are an important swing voting group, but not yet the overwhelming, electorate-transforming tide that wishful-thinking Democratic pols and reporters seem to think they are. 2:32 P.M.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Yes, Cakewalk? A John Fund piece argues that Schwarzenegger's race will be "No Cakewalk." It's wildly unconvincing! ... P.S.: The presumably popular  tax swap described by Weintraub--in which Democratic legislators would eliminate Davis' car tax hike and "substitute new taxes on upper income Californians and cigarettes"--seems more threatening to A.S. than the obstacles Fund describes. ... 5:39 P.M.

Instapundit claims Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy will be good for ... Iraq! Reporters and commentators would normally be filling the summer with quagmire talk, he argues:

Arnold is bridging the too-early-for-clear-progress-but-not-too-early-for-concentrated-media-bitching period. By the time the dust has settled from that, Bush should be in a better position to engage the issue, as he'll have to be by January anyway.

This is the sort of supercilious-yet-profound, irresponsible-yet-plausible bull-session thought that it would be hard to get away with in an op-ed column but that begs to be blogged. ... Update: Maybe I blogged too soon. Here's half of Instapundit's thought a day later (and somewhat denatured) in the Washington Times. ... Caveat: I am not pinning as much hope as Instapundit on the Administration's highly-anticipated post-Labor Day WMD report. Note, for example, this throw-away graf in David Zucchino's excellent, seemingly candid LAT debriefing of Iraqi fighters complaining about their side's ineffective tactics:

Before the invasion, Saddam Hussein's forces had been expected to put up a fierce defense of Baghdad, and U.S. officials warned that the Iraqis might even use chemical or biological weapons. Instead, the former Iraqi fighters said, orders to use chemical or biological weapons were never given because no such weapons existed.

3:54 P.M.

Let's Put on A Show! Clearly the California recall has been highly effective at generating citizen excitement and encouraging new candidates to come forward. But just as clearly there's a piece missing--a way for all these new candidates to get noticed and assessed. Normally that's the job of the press, but the conventional press in this case is a) overwhelmed by the sheer number of candidates; b) fixated on only a few candidates deemed capable of winning--actually on one candidate in particular; and c) too respectable and PC to pay attention to outsider candidates with highly controversial views that might nevertheless need voicing (e.g., an immigration skeptic like Joe Guzzardi).

What we need is some new form of media to collate all the information about the new candidates and transmit it to the public. Maybe one day the Web will have evolved sufficiently so that it could play this role. But that day is not today.The other obvious alternative is to ... steal from the entertainment industry.

It's now a cliche to compare the California recall to American Idol, but I'm stickin' with it. Yet what does Idol have that the recall doesn't? Answer: Tryouts. And a show--gatherings of contestants where they each get a chance to demonstrate their stuff, with the best being then exposed to a wider and wider audience. If the recall really is American Idol, it's an American Idol where the vast majority of contestants never have a chance to sing at all--and all the attention is focused from the start on Ruben Stoddard. That's bad entertainment--and, yes, bad democracy! ("Hiram, baby! You've got a great concept there. It just needs a few tweaks. How about we take it from here?")

Ideally, of course, the 150-200 minor and previously-unkown candidates would try out at a series of heavily attended town meetings, with actual conscientious voters weighing each would-be governor's pitch, and voting for the best. That isn't going to happen,  and anyway it brings to mind Oscar Wilde's objection to socialism. It certainly isn't going to happen by October 7.

What might happen by October 7? Some enterprising news producer might take the Idol model to heart and decide to play Simon. He'd set up a big three-day meeting with all the candidates who qualify for the ballot invited. He'd let them all talk. He'd film it. Then he'd single out the ones he thinks have potential--and let them talk for a longer time and debate one another before, yes, a live studio audience. At the end, he'd cut all the footage down to a manageable, exciting two or three hours that introduces California's viewing electorate to a handful (maybe as many as a dozen) new political faces. A serious show--not a joke show. (The top contenders, Schwarzenegger and Bustamante, would be invited of course, but they wouldn't show.)

Will the "judges" who winnow and edit in this political talent show be fair and balanced? [Lawyer!--ed. Don't sue, Roger, please. I mean 'reasonable and eclectic'!] They can try to be. Will they be elected? No, they'll be self-appointed. So? Candidates don't have to show up if they don't want to. But they're all  invited. And if you're a candidate--especially a little-known citizen-candidate--placing yourself at the mercies of some local anchorperson and his or her producers, with a shot at breaking through getting major-league exposure, is better than not having that shot at all. It's better than dwelling in media obscurity forever, which is where most of the minor candidates will be once conventional reporters are through with this week's round of cute 'Isn't-California-Wacky' candidate roundups.

Is such a show do-able? Of course. Any number of documentary makers or game show producers could whip it together in a couple of weeks, with plenty of time left after the show aired for the candidates that emerge to press their campaigns. Would I expect any of these fresh faces to actually win the governorship? No. Even if they climbed briefly in the polls they'd probably get squeezed out at the end. But I would expect some of them to use the exposure to go on from the governor's race and win other offices. And I would expect some of the issues they raise to actually be injected into the race between the major contenders. The beneficial functions of the recall free-for-all would have been accomplished.

Anyone listening out there in Hollywood? CBS? Showtime? MSNBC--what have you got to lose? Your last three viewers? CNN? Warren Olney? R.J. Cutler? How about Walter Isaacson and the Aspen Institute! Come on down!

Who wants to be a kingmaker? 2:01 A.M.

Suggested Anti-Arnold Slogan: "He Lied to Leno. Will He Lie to You Too?" 1:16 A.M.

Monday, August 11, 2003 

Sandenbagger II: We now know Schwarzenegger faked out practically everyone by raising expectations that he would not run and then running --a feint that dramatically heightened the impact of his announcement. Is he setting up a similar trap on the issue of policy "specifics." It seems clear to me that he is smart enough to deliver the outlines of, say, a budget deal while staying vague where he has to. Yet, with reporters hounding him daily for "substance," expectations are now so low and impatience so high that when he does deliver some specifics, it will seem like a triumphant revelation. ... 3:23 P.M.

What 7-letter word is missing from this hed?  "Schwarzenegger Opposed Immigrant Services"--AP story reprinted in WaPo. ...12:28 P.M.

Attention, swarming pack of reporters: If you've read a certain untrustworthy-but-possibly-mainly-true Premiere article on a charming Austro-American film star--isn't the key source to get to not the interviewer-who-was-maybe-groped, but rather theTerminator 2 producer who fired the dresser who was humiliated? Cheating and groping is bad. But humiliating your underlings for sport--should it be true!--would be really ugly, no?...  8:42 A.M.

Esquire has cancelled its plan to have Jayson Blair review the Stephen Glass movie "Shattered Glass." ... Editor David Granger's big mistake was his plan to require that Blair actually watch the movie. That's kind of wasting Blair's talents, isn't it? A better assignment would have been to require that he review the movie without ever leaving his barstool at Siberia. ... 8:31 A.M.

How stupid was it for Gallup to include ex-L.A.-mayor Richard Riordan, who by August 7 obviously wasn't likely to run, in its August 7-10 California gubernatorial poll? Doesn't this sharply reduce the utility of the survey, even as a snapshot? Are we supposed to mentally give Riordan's 11 percent to his alleged ally A.S., or to someone else? ... 3:30 A.M.

Arnold Schwarzenegger (along with 59 percent of his fellow Californians) voted for Prop. 187, which attempted to deny various social services to illegal immigrants. thinks this is of earth-shaking significance. I'm skeptical. It might hurt A.S. with some Latinos, but it might help him with some conservative Republicans. He hasn't (yet) committed the fatal error of dissembling. ... Update: Beeblogger Weintraub seems to agree: "[It's] possible that independents and moderates in both parties could be turned off if the Democrats mount an aggressive defense of illegal immigration." ...  3:11 A.M.

Isn't the real news in this story that "a source with direct ties" to Arnold Schwarzenegger recognizes the importance of leaking tidbits to Drudge? ... P.S.: For the somewhat embarrassing story of my own sordid dealings with California Democratic party operative Bob Mulholland, click here. ...  2:22 A.M.

Spin me, I'm yours! Maybe Kerry communications aide Chris Lehane really is a genius. Otherwise, how did Adam "Paragraph Six" Nagourney's thin, credulous puffer on the fading Massachusett's senator's latest flailing incarnation ("As Campaign Tightens, Kerry Sharpens Message") get into the New York Times, much less onto the front page above the fold?. ... Nagourney's scoop: Kerry's "invoking Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman"! Wow--that's breaking new ground! ... P.S.: "Campaign tightens" -- great euphemism for losing your lead! ... [Why "Paragraph Six"?-ed. Because the NYT'spoll captured the big story of the 2002 midterms--a last-minute pro-GOP trend--before Election Day, but Nagourney all-too-explicably buried it in the sixth paragraph. Good to see his reporting's just as flabby in the post-Raines era.] 1:55 A.M.

Brown Knows: Tina Brown's columns have been terrific. This one's an exception, suffocated in layers of friendly phoniness.  Does she really think Arianna Huffington's candidacy is a better idea now that Schwarzenegger's in the race? ... 1:43 A.M.

Sunday, August 10, 2003 

What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 3: Here's a Dan Walters column on why Davis is, too, at least partly to blame for the state's energy crisis. In particular,

[w]hen the crisis first arose in 2000 in the form of sharply rising wholesale power costs, Davis and other politicians refused to act decisively to nip it in the bud. California utility executives begged Davis and state utility regulators to allow them to raise rates and sign long-term supply contracts, but officials delayed for six critical months, until the utilities had their financial backs to the wall. Had they acted boldly in 2000, we would not have had such a severe energy crisis in 2001.

Davis, of course, was scared to be associated with something like a rate increase, even if it meant taking a large, longer-term risk. ... At least Davis didn't do something wacky like naming Steve Peace, the Democratic co-architect of the disastrous bipartisan energy deregulation scheme, to a high position as his administration's finance director! ... Oh, wait. ...

P.S.: Here's a March, 2002  Walters piece with a larger critque  of the "leadership" style of Davis and the legislature's Democrats:

At every turn, Davis and legislators did what they thought would get them through the moment with the least political exposure, rather than confront the matter forthrightly.

[Note: I got the first Walters column in a Google search, which led me to the copy posted on a pro-recall site. I've linked to that version only because the March 4 column for some reason doesn't turn up in the Bee's archives. I have no reason to think the pro-recall people haven't posted a complete copy of the actual column--the versions on NEXIS appear to be identical, with only minor changes of the sort editors publishing syndicated columns sometimes make.] 6:25 P.M.

What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 2: Jill Stewart on Davis' latest gesture of friendship to a special interest:

In another horrifically ill-advised move, this one designed to attract massive campaign funds, Davis is expected to sign a Democratic bill giving rich Indian tribes say over the environmental impact of developments within five miles of burial sites---a law almost certain to put a nasty clamp on badly needed housing in California.

Five miles seems at least four miles too many, no? ... P.S.: Stewart also has chapter and verse on "Republican pigheadedness" on the environment, which included opposing a compromise bill to control potentially toxic, "bio-accumulating" chemicals used as in flame retardants. ... There's one mistake Schwarzenegger can easily avoid. ... 6:02 P.M.

What's So Bad About Gray Davis Anyway? Part 1: Daniel Weintraub with a thorough and even-handed piece on the unaffordable pension deal Gov. Davis let become law. Total cost only starts at $10 billion over 20 years.

The legislation began a wave of public employee pension increases at a time when private sector employees were seeing their own retirement benefits shrink or disappear entirely. And the bill relied on a fundamentally flawed assumption -- that state employees, not the taxpayers, were entitled to the fruits of the long-running boom in the stock market.

The law seems to have been predicated on the irresponsible assumption that there would be no stock market bust. Shouldn't politicians be punished for such misjudgments? ... P.S.: Yes, both parties went along with the bill. What does that mean--that the unions have bought both parties? Maybe that's why there's a rebellion against the system! ... P.P.S.: Yes, Davis' negotiator shaved a few dozen million off the total price tag. But it was way too little. And then Davis let legislators slip in an amendment that extended the pension boosts to local governments, at an additional cost of untold billions. No wonder labor backs him. ... Note to Arianna: How is this pension deal George Bush's fault?  5:48 P.M.

California's Missing Candidate, II: An update has been posted below. It turns out that one little-known (so far!) candidate, Joe Guzzardi, is raising the "border control" issue. ... This is exactly the sort of issue that would normally be suppressed in the structured, safe two-party campaign favored by the Al Hunts of the world, but that can be aired in a Hiram Johnson/American Idol recall free-for-all. ... Note to my friend Margaret Carlson, who said, on Capital Gang:

[This] election is an ugly election. It's begun ugly, it will be won ugly if Davis is recalled. And only a celebrity, perhaps, could win it, because you have 60 days, you have to start out with name recognition.

What's so "ugly" about the recall? There's been nothing very ugly so far. The voters are mad at Davis over legitimate issues (including some--e.g.,the excessive power of big campaign donors--that goo-goo types have long been begging national voters to get exercised about). It may get ugly, especially in the anti-Arnold attack phase, but so far it's clean and  highly democratic. There were some nasty whispering campaigns but they haven't seen print.... P.P.S.: 60 days isn't a short time. In the world of the Feiler Faster Principle, it's a long time. The news can be expected to move even faster in this election than others because California voters, perhaps conditioned by reality TV shows, now expect to be entertained! That requires continual plot twists, which the press will be looking for. There's plenty of time for, say, Schwarzenegger's poll ratings to collapse and then revive. Also time for an unknown (Psst:Uzzardi-Ga!) to emerge from the pack. ... General note to East Coast pundits: We're watering the tree of liberty out here. Give us some space! ... 12:35 P.M.

Saturday, August 9, 2003 

Note to Robert Musil: The SUV Schwarzenegger drove in to file his candidacy papers was a regular GMC Yukon or Suburban, not a Hummer. So not only his he now driving domestic, he's moved several MPG closer to Arianna's Prius. ... Arianna was smart enough to recognize the vehicle and only attacked Arnold for driving an "S.U.V." ... Maria Shriver did not look terribly happy at Arianna glomming on to her husband's photo op, however. This behavior could delay any Arnold-Arianna Alliance for a few weeks, or decades. ... Also, as novelist  Roger Simon notes, Arianna doesn't seem to have enough support in the polls at the moment to be worth courting. ... But the night is young and the election (according to the same Time/CNN poll) now looks very close. Expect lots of deals and machinations between now and October 7, especially among the GOPs, who are now suicidally splitting their vote between at least four candidates. ... 5:41 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. 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. 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. 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.]