Kerry: 'No new nuances'

Kerry: 'No new nuances'

Kerry: 'No new nuances'

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 16 2003 4:41 PM

L.A. Times Poll Scandal?

Plus: Recall Wreck Roundup

Field Poll Blasts Times Poll: The people who run the Field Poll not only think the L.A. Times poll (showing Davis on the verge of beating the recall) is full of it, they think the L.A. Times' defensive explanation  for why its poll is different is also full of it! And they make a powerful case. 

The LAT's David Lauter had attempted to explain the difference by noting that Field had more "moderates" while the Times poll had more self-identified "liberals" and "conservatives." But Field notes that you can't compare these two numbers--the polls use different questions to classify people ideologically, and if you'd asked the Field questions to the Times' sample you might well have gotten lots of moderates too. ...

The real difference, Field argues, is that the LAT for some reason seems to have wildly oversampled non-white non-Latinos--i.e. blacks and Asians. Blacks are the most reliable recall opponents, and they seem to have driven the poll resulst in Davis' favor. The Times hides this flaw by failing to even report the black and Asian subgroups separately.

Why did the size of the unreported racial/ethnic subgroups in the latest Times Poll amount to 18%, when according to its own exit poll, blacks and Asian voters combined comprised just 10% of all voters in the last general election? Did the Times Poll sample include a proportionate number of black/African-Americans or a disproportionately large number whose inclusion, due to their strong opposition to the recall, could have skewed their poll results?


It's probably not the Asians who were lopsidedly pro-recall, Field notes, since they "historically tend to be more divided in their voting preferences on partisan matters."

This is a pretty convincing indictment.  It resonates with the suspicion--hard to believe, but always present with the PC Times--that the results were somehow intentionally skewed. I would think the LAT would have to respond. ... While they are at it, they might reveal to their readers Mystery Questions 3 and 4--the questions, right before the crucial recall question, that the Times pollsters for some reason skips over in their published report. Maybe these are harmless "likely voter" screens--but why shouldn't Times readers learn about them too? You've got to be transparent if people are suspicious of you, no?

The beauty part is that many recall opponents--including perhaps the Times own editorial board--seem to have actually believed the polls suggestion that Davis was about to beat the recall, and as a result they are hostile to the Ninth Circuit's postponement of the election.   So the Ninth Circuit faces opposition from both recall proponents, who think they were about to win, and opponents, who (foolishly believing the LAT poll) think they were about to win. Both groups can't be right, of course--it's a zero-sum game. But their mutually-contradictory confidence can make it very uncomfortable for any Ninth Circuit 11-judge "en banc" panel that reconsiders the decision to postpone the election. ... P.S.: If you don't think appellate courts pay attention to editorials and other indicators of the public mood, you haven't clerked on an appellate court. ... 1:23 P.M.

There's an obvious potential solution to the California election crisis, a voting technology that's easy to use, leaves a permanent record, and can be deployed quickly in all counties. ... Paper ballots!  ... They work in the United Kingdom. ... So they take a while to count. It's better than having a nightmarish campaign until March.  ... [Thanks to reader J.B.] 3:30 P.M.


The Ninth Circuit three-judge appeals panel has delayed the recall election. ...   We knew that!  ... Appeals to the entire Ninth Circuit en banc and to the U.S. Supreme Court, are presumably to come. ... For background on the issues, here's a good Recorder account of the appellate arguments, and here is pro-delay expert Rick Hasen's blog  (and here's his amicus brief). Here's an anti-delay op-ed  by Debra Saunders.  ... Here's an anecdote from the Recorder's account that pretty much captures the seemingly condescending, museum-quality paleoliberal mindset of at least one of the three judges on the appelate panel:

[Judge Harry] Pregerson then playfully pointed out that education [in how to avoid punch card errors] might not work on tired workers, or workers harried by trying to find their polling place. Then he said those problems might be more of a concern to minority candidates who may have more reason to be tired at the end of the day than whites.

"In L.A., if you look around, see who's working and who isn't," Pregerson said, drawing laughter from the near-capacity courtroom.

I think Pregerson probably meant minority voters, not "candidates." Either way. ..

P.S.: There are problems with punch card ballots. But there are also problems with some of the new voting technologies that would replace them. Are we delaying an election in order to replace one flawed system with another? Here's Rick Hasen's answer:

Whether the new techologies could create equal protection problems of their own is a separate question that may itself have to be litigated some time.


Wow! So we delay the next election too! Hasen's theory seems like a way to let the ACLU tie up democracy in the courts for years. Gray Davis Forever! ...  Why let counties decide which voting system to buy if any difference in error rates between different voting systems--and there will always be some difference, enough of a difference to have decided the dead-heat 2000 election in Florida--is going to be the basis for a righteous Equal Protection claim? If that's the case, the Constitution would seem to require uniform statewide purchases (and maintenance!) of voting machines. ...

P.P.S.: In part, the Ninth Circuit decision seems another example of the nefarious effect of the practice of "consent decrees." Apparently the previous California Secretary of State, upon being sued, entered into such a "consent" agreement under which he agreed punch cards were unacceptable, and agreed to phase them out by the March 2004 election. Now his successor as Secretary of State is prevented (by his agreement to that consent decree) from arguing that punch card ballots are OK. But somehow the ACLU is not barred by its seeming acceptance, in the same deal, that elections between now and March 2004 might involve the use of punch cards. ... As Debra Saunders points out, Gray Davis was re-elected in 2002 in a contest in which some counties used punch card ballots. Why was that system OK then but not OK now? Hasen's answer, which is better than his answer on the problems of new voting technologies, is that this election will be closer and more confusing, with 135 candidates. ...

P.P.P.S.: If I were the U.S. Supreme Court, I would be very reluctant to reverse the Ninth Circuit and thus cement a reputation as an unprincipled partisan court that upholds obscure Equal Protection arguments when they throw an election to Republicans (as in Bush v. Gore) but strikes them down when they would throw the election to the Democrats. This suggests that the pro-recall forces' best hope is a rehearing bythe entire Ninth Circuit sitting en banc, not an appeal to SCOTUS. ...

P.P.P.P.S.: Just how many more votes are lost in punch card systems versus other technologies? 1.34 percent of the votes cast, according to the ACLU's expert. And that's before any special voter education efforts that might be made. ...

P.P.P.P.P.S.: One possible outcome on appeal--the vote will be postponed, but not all the way to March, if the punch card machines can be replaced before then. Even the ACLU's brief allows for this possibility. ... Crazy thought: Why not eliminate the disparity between counties by making all the counties use punch cards, if that's faster? ... 10:56 A.M.

Too good to check: An emailer claims that at a recent "town hall" meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger offered this explanation for why his mother, worried about her son's odd body-building hobby, took him to the family doctor:

"We don't have shrinks in Austria, like you do in America."

4:10 A.M.


This is his supporters' argument: My favorite paragraph of the L.A. Times' front page piece on why "many voters" are deciding the recall is "unfair to Davis."

For many recall opponents, the vote should not be taken as a referendum on Davis' record. Many agree with recall backers that Davis bungled California's electricity crisis, spent the state into a $38-billion budget hole and devoted himself more to fund-raising than to governance. Their point: It doesn't matter. [Emph. added]

For others, it does! ... See also Weintraub, who points out that Bill Clinton's argument against recalls--that they would discourage governors from taking bold actions that anger voters in the short term but be good for the state in the long term--doesn't apply to Davis. He's accused precisely of not taking that sort of action. ... P.P.S.: Weintraub argues that Clinton's implicit analogy of the recall with federal impeachment (which is accepted by the Times) has no historical basis.

"When the voters a very long time ago put the recall in the constitution of California," Clinton said, "it was supposed to be triggered in extreme cases, when you had someone who was corrupt and just would not go, or someone who was physically or mentally incapacitated. Neither is the case here."

But that's not why the recall was put into the constitution. It was put there to give the voters the ability to remove a state officer for any reason, and specifically for dissatisfaction with his or her performance in office. For corruption we have impeachment. [Emph. added]


3:05 A.M.

Up is bad. Down is bad. What's productivity to do? I'm quite willing to believe that "most economists predict that unemployment will remain almost unchanged  at nearly 6 percent through the elections in November 2004." But shouldn't the NYT, after making this surprising assertion at the top of its lede business story, produce some actual evidence that most economists think this? Evidence like a survey of economists, or a blue-chip weighting--or at least quotes or views from a plural number of economists who make such a prediction? All the Times's Edmund Andrews gives us is a) his say-so and b) economist Brad DeLong. DeLong's quote:

I don't see where the demand is going to come from to produce a falling unemployment rate. ... Very few people are predicting real G.D.P. growth of more than 4 percent."

But even DeLong's argument is immediately undercut by Andrews himself, who writes, "More than a few economists say that the economy might expand at an annual rate of more than 5 percent in the final half of this year." [Emph. added] ... In case DeLong misinterprets the above: I'm not saying unemployment won't stay up near 6 per cent. (I've been wrong about unemployment before.) I'm not saying most economists don't predict unemployment will stay up near 6 percent. I'm saying the Times doesn't offer much, beyond blind faith in Edmund Andrews, to convince non-economists like me of either of these things. ... P.S.: I'd even argue the Times has a special burden in this regard because it has such an obvious institutional commitment to continued economic malaise. But I doubt Andrews' story meets even normal standards of evidence. ... Update: Gloouis Uchitelle states the full underlying NYT breakdown theory, in which rapidly rising productivity is bad because it means fewer workers are needed to meet a given level of demand. I can see that. But Uchitelle loses me when he switches to arguing that it's also bad if productivity fails to rise rapidly. Up-bad. Down-bad. Capitalism can't win with this guy. Do "most economists" agree? ... More: Even DeLong is unhappy with the NYT's reportorial laziness  in a companion story to Andrews'. ... Second Day Update: Alert reader S.M. sends A   hot-off-the-press AP story with some of the evidence Andrews could have used--"a panel of 35 professional forecasters" from the National Association of Business Economics" who predict robustt 4 to 4.5 percent growth but think

the unemployment rate would still be around 5.8 percent at the end of 2004.


The panel apparently considers this an upbeat end to the "jobless" aspect of the so-called "jobless recovery." It's just a very slow end. ... 1:47 A.M.

Kf traveled to the LAXMarriott Saturday to survey the distinguished hacks covering the GOP state convention. Hack consensus: Nobody believes the latest LAT poll, at least on the "recall Davis" question, where the Times shows a virtual tie. Other polls, apparently including private ones taken by Democratic interest groups trying to replicate the Times poll, show Davis in significantly worse shape. ... But there's disagreement on why the Times is full of it. 1) Some say the LAT sample included too many liberals. 2) Others say it included too many conservatives, citing McClintock's relatively strong showing. (Why would these conservatives vote against the recall? Because they were spooked by the previous widely-disbelieved Times poll showing Democrat Cruz Bustamante well ahead of Arnold Schwarzenegger! They'd rather keep Davis than get Cruz. That's the theory, anyway.) 3) Others (including kf mystery pollster "M") say the difference is probably the filter for "likely" voters and that the Times results will converge with other polls as Election Day nears (when likely voterhood becomes easier to measure). ... The Times' same-day defense of its own poll somewhat bizarrely adopts both explanations (1)and (2)--the Times had lots of liberals and lots of conservatives but fewer moderates! The paper rejects explanation (3), however. ... P.S.: Some sympathy was expressed for the poor LAT reporters who for reasons of institutional pride have to write their stories pretending that their paper's poll reflects actual reality. ... 10:13 P.M.

Weintraub picks up a contradiction in the van Lohuizen memo (see preceding item) that I missed: Schwarzengger's pollster says the "days when we could count on 20% or more of registered Democrats crossing over are long gone"-- and then he says Arnold will get "up to 20%" of the Democratic vote. "So which is it?" Weintraub asks. ... Were the Schwarzeneggerians lowballing their candidate's crossover appeal in the attempt to panic McClintock out of the race? Not necessarily. Both the Field and LAT polls show Schwarzenegger getting only 10 percent of Democratic votes. ... 7:18 P.M.

Friday, September 12, 2003

B reaking Recall News: I had thought the "pressure-on-conservative-Tom-McClintock-to-get-out" story line was overdone and premature, with the California recall election 25 long days away. But tonight, Friday, the night before the state Republican convention in Los Angeles, Team Arnold has sent out what would seem to be a slightly panicky pollster's memo to "interested reporters," saying essentially (if I read it right) that Schwarzenegger will probably lose unless McClintock gets out.

The analysis, by Jan van Lohuizen of Voter/Consumer Research, is contained in an email from the Schwarzenegger campaign's Darrel Ng. It notes (and I'm quoting mainly the slightly panicky, negative bits):

 ... we continue to find that Democratic crossover voting is minimal.  To the extent that Democrats do cross over, it is to Arnold; but there are only so many crossover votes to be had.  Keep in mind that both in the Lungren and in the Simon elections more than 85% of registered Democrats voted for Davis.  The days that we could count on 20% or more of registered Democrats crossing over are long gone. ... [snip]

5.  A thorough analysis of the data so far show that Bustamante's share of the votes cast by registered Democrats is extremely unlikely to go below 60% and could go as high as 70%.  The remaining 30% to 40% will vote for Arnold (up to 20%), vote for one of the candidates to the left of Bustamante (10% to 15%) or not vote at all in the election to replace (up to 5%).

Simple back of the envelope math shows that under these circumstances it is vital to maximize the share of Republicans voting for Arnold.  Even under the most optimistic turnout scenarios Democrats will cast more ballots than Republicans.  With more Democrats showing up at the polls and Bustamante getting a greater share of Democratic votes cast than Arnold getting of Republican votes cast, is a clear prescription for losing our best shot at winning the Governorship. ... [Emph. added.]

On the other hand, van Lohuizen says:

The back of the envelope math is very different when McClintock withdraws.  We would get well over 80% of votes cast by Republicans, 15 to 20% of votes cast by Democrats and up to 40% of votes cast by independents.   This works out to roughly 48% of all votes cast.  I don't see any reasonable scenario under which we lose if this happens.

Perhaps Schwarzenegger is spooked by the start of absentee voting, or worried about debating McClintock, or worried about ongoing scandal damage--otherwise, you'd think the best GOP strategy would be to let McClintock run his campaign, rally his troops and then, at some date much closer to the election, give a rousing speech tossing his support to Schwarzenegger. (See Weintraub.) ... P.S.: Or does Schwarzenegger want to get McClintock out before the Ninth Circuit delays the whole damn election, which could happen next week? [link via Hasen ]... P.P.S.: Not only does sending the memo make Schwarzenegger look slightly desperate--if McClintock now doesn't get out this weekend it makes McClintock seem the victor and Schwarzenegger look ineffectual. ... P.P.P.S.: Should sending out the van Lohuizen memo prove to be a mistake, Schwarzenegger consultant Mike Murphy can always make it clear to reporters afterwards  that he never liked the idea. ... 1:04 A.M.

When Peckers Attack: The American Media tabloid empire has finally run an Arnold Schwarzenegger/Maria Shriver expose, and it reveals ... brace yourself ... "Why their marriage works"! Among the shocking National Examiner revelations that have turned the historic California recall race upside down:

Asked by a fellow parishioner at St. Monica's Catholic Church in Santa Monica, Calif. why she's always smiling, Maria answered: "It's Arnold. He keeps me laughing."

An "insider" discloses that while they may seem really tight as a couple and as a family and as buddies:

They are really tight as a couple, as a family and as buddies. Whenever you see them, they're holding hands, laughing into each other's eyes ...

Also, in a bizarre cult-like ritual, every day they tell each other 'I love you'!

I withdraw any previous suggestion or innuendo that American Media CEO David Pecker has taken a dive on Arnold in this campaign. ...12:49 A.M.

Background noise: What's the big deal about that Arnold Schwarzenegger chimney-toppling scandalette? It's ancient history! I mean, it's not as if Schwarzenegger is running ads actually touting his experience as a bricklayer. ... Oh, wait!  ... Update: Charismatic Schwarzenegger consultant Mike Murphy today dismissed the chimney incident as "background noise." ... P.S.: If Schwarzenegger loses, which lucky reporter will get the candid interview with Murphy where  he denigrates his former client  and makes himself look like a hero? ... 4:36 P.M.

How did Democrat Gray Davis pull almost even in the most recent L.A. Times recall poll while Democrat Cruz Bustamante somehow lost ground? 1) One explanation is that the LAT poll is wacky. Nobody seemed to believe the last Times poll, which had Bustamante 13 points ahead, and the most recent Field Poll shows the recall winning handily by 15 points rather than mired in a near-tie. One of the polls is wrong. 2) A second explanation is that Democratic voters were planning to recall Davis and replace him with that nice Latino fellow Bustamante--but now that they're learning more about Bustamante they don't much like him, so they're sticking with Davis. Bustamante's LAT poll "negatives" have risen dramatically ... What's not to like about Bustamante? William Bradley reports he really is as dumb as he's cracked up to be, echoing Weintraub. (You'd almost think they drove to that Bustamante rally together! ... Or that Weintraub was reporting on questions Bradley asked! .. What's that you say? ...) John Fund  piles on, describing for out-of-staters the role of Bustamante's puppetmaster, consultant Richie Ross. ...P.S.: Bradley also comes up with a novel, but not entirely crazy, rationale for Schwarzenegger's decision to take money from Republican interests: He has to take their money to control them! (And to prevent others from taking their money and challenging him.) It's all about "governance"! ... A "top Republican strategist" tells Bradley:

[Schwarzenegger] needs to have some control over the Republican Party, especially if he is going to bring it into the 21st century. Popular appeal is not enough; he needs a handle on the party's resource base.

But how is Arnold going to keep these interests on board unless he actually delivers for them? Can he con them into thinking they need to buy a piece of him when really it does them no good at all? Isn't that a sort of consumer fraud? Schwarzenegger's home-repair experience may come in handy here. ... 3:36 P.M.

The Lurleen Factor: One of the mysteries of Arnold Schwarzenegger's run is why a man with his ego would want to give up a life of global fame for a nerve-wracking job haggling with cowtown hacks in unglamorous Sacramento--when as a foreign-born citizen he can't even use the governorship as the basis for a presidential run, thanks to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. (It says the President "shall be a natural born citizen" and Schwarzenegger was born in Austria.)

For Californians, myself included, who might be willing to take the risk of installing this untested performer in office, Article II's constitutional bar acts as a sort of security blanket. It's not as if we're loosing another Reagan on the nation--the worst that can happen is one state gets messed up. (And, you know, out here we can always recall the guy.) Article II also makes tacitly backing Schwarzenegger less risky for the Bush White House--it's not as if they'd be creating a rival for Jeb in 2008.

But maybe it's time to question the assumption that Scwarzenegger could never win the White House. Why? Not because I think the Constitution is about to be amended in some sort of  "You get Schwarzenegger, we get Granholm" bargain. I'm thinking more of Lurleen Wallace, wife of Alabama governor George Wallace. When her husband was barred from succeeding himself in 1966, according to what appears to be an official Alabama history:

George announced the candidacy of his wife Lurleen for governor. The couple admitted frankly that if Lurleen was elected, George would continue to make the administrative policies and decisions. Mrs. Wallace won the May Democratic primary with 54 percent of the vote which assured her election in November.

Lurleen Wallace died of cancer in 1968, turning the governorship over to the state's Lieutenant Governor.  But her candidacy offers a model that remains unaccountably unexploited in American politics. Until, maybe, now.

Is it crazy to imagine that, if a) Arnold Schwarzenegger wins the governorship and b) his term in office is perceived as successful, then c) his wife, Maria Shriver, would run for president, with the understanding that her husband would actually "make the administrative policies and decisions"--or most of them, anyway? No constitutional amendment necessary.

It's not as if Maria, daughter of the 1972 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, isn't a political figure in her own right. Here's the lede of Joan Ryan's S.F. Chronicle profile of Mrs. Schwarzenegger:

Ask Bobby Shriver how his sister came to the decision that, yes, her husband should run for governor, and he says you've got it wrong.

"She didn't come to it," he said by phone the other day. "Arnold came to it."

Even if, as we're told, Maria only reluctantly went along with her husband's desire to run, that doesn't mean she's not loving the campaign now, or won't come to like it. It doesn't mean that, if in 2006 they are completing a successful stint in Sacramento and wondering what to do next, the Lurleen precedent--or some two-for-the-price-of-one, vote-for-the-team variation--won't recommend itself. Are you sure Maria Shriver wouldn't want to be co-president?

Of course, there are a few complications. She's a Democrat, for one. That makes the Schwarzenshriver ticket potentially more appealing--but it also would make it somewhat difficult to win the Republican nomination. So they run as Democrats, or more likely as Ross Perot-style independents--which is Schwarzenegger's natural route to power anyway.

I'm not saying this is a likely scenario. I'm saying it's a potential scenario. It's a potential scenario even if the idea hasn't occurred to them yet. It's a potential scenario even if they deny it now. For that reason, it's a potential scenario California voters need to take into account. As the national attention given to Schwarzenegger's run suggests, we may not be just voting on a governor here. Whatever Article II says.  12:50 P.M.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Daniel Drezner blogs a seemingly scientific online poll  showing Schwarzenegger with a big lead when you ask voters to choose from all 135 candidates. ... Is it possible the many minor candidates suck significant support away from Bustamante? Or is it, as a poll sponsor says, that when faced with a long list undecided voters just  "gravitate to the most visible candidate," namely Schwarzenegger?... 1:45 P.M.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

******KF Global Exclusive******Arnold's Home Repairs:

Tonight on kausfiles ... Home Repair Ripoffs, and How to Avoid Them! Rule #1: Don't hire Arnold Schwarzenegger! ... Kf'scrack investigative unit has been on alert to bring you the Arnold scandals (and semi-scandals!) that the LAT's John Carroll and the tabloids'  David Pecker  find too interesting to print. Today, the unit traveled all the way to Beverly Hills' Museum of Television and Radio. The purpose? To find and view the much-rumored-about episode of the Tonight Show in which young bodybuilder/actor Schwarzenegger tells Johnny Carson how he ripped off Southern California homeowners in his day job as a construction worker. Thanks to a helpful e-mailing source, I had what I thought was the right show date. Thanks to a helpful librarian (and the facility's quite impressive set-up), I was viewing the episode in question within fifteen minutes of parking my car.

Upshot: It's not as bad as I'd heard. But it's not good.

Here's what the tape shows: It's 1981. Schwarzenegger's Conan the Barbarian is about to come out, and he has a fitness book to sell. He entertains Carson with the story of how he and a bodybuilder friend, whom I'll call XXXXXX, got "lucky" when there was an earthquake in L.A. in the early 1970s. Schwarzenegger says he and XXXXXX immediately advertised in the L.A. Times  as "European special bricklayers." XXXXXX actually knew how to lay bricks, Schwarzenegger says, but he didn't. Schwarzenegger says his job was to come up with an "estimate" and negotiate the price with the homeowner. He continues:

SCHWARZENEGGER: In the meantime, XXXXXX climbed up on the roof to check the chimney--and he, of course, is a very strong guy and a [weight] lifter--he pushed all the chimneys over so they fell down. So these people come and say 'Oh thank you so much for helping us. This could have fallen on somebody's head, you know. Thank you for doing it for us.

CARSON: What a racket. You go and push chimneys down and then rebuild them.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Exactly. ... [Emph. added]

"So we had a business going very successfully for a year," Schwarzenegger concludes.

It's lucky a lot of California voters aren't paranoid, self-pitying homeowners! ... As a non-homeowner, I would put this in the revealing-but-not-fatal scandal category. It does seem to reflect a Schwarzenegger habit of seeing other people as marks. But you, the reader, make the call. ... I suppose Schwarzenegger 1) could say he was just coming up with another "ludicrous" and "outrageous" story to promote a film. Or 2) he could say XXXXXX was just giving the chimneys a severe European stress test to see if they had been structurally damaged by the quake. That's not Carson's interpretation, though. ...

Schwarzenegger campaign response: In fact, when contacted by kausfiles, Schwarzenegger campaign spokesperson Rob Stutzman immediately offered Explanation #1, saying "the nature of these shows is you go on and joke around," and noting that there is "no evidence that [there's] any truth to it." (Just his candidate's say-so!) According to Stutzman, it

"sounds like Arnold joking around with Johnny Carson. I'd chalk it up to schtick."

Efforts to reach XXXXXX were unsuccessful, which is why, in a surfeit of caution, I've left his name out for now. (Schwarzenegger did not leave the name out when he talked about him on national television.) XXXXXX--if you are reading this, I've left my number on your work answering machine (I can't find your home phone). Or you can email me at . I would love to hear your side of Arnold's story. ...

Update: On the O'Reilly Factor, Schwarzenegger charged that the Davis campaign is behind negative memes like the recent Oui story:

O'REILLY: ...The L.A. Times has been very hard on you. They brought up your father again and his past, in World War II. They brought up the "Oui" magazine interview 25 years ago. Are you surprised that the L.A. Times and some other media, New York Times here to a lesser extent, have gone after you personally?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, not really, because I always knew that Davis knows how to run a negative campaign. All of the stories are fed by the campaign headquarters, I guarantee you that.

Does Schwarzenegger really believe this convenient, self-pitying Clintonesque lie? Probably not. Does he think a small elite still controls and makes the news? Possibly. ... Hello! Mr. Arnold sir! There's an Internet! (Not to mention a Museum of Television and Radio, with valet parking!) The Oui story, for example, broke into the open when a kf reader in Texas decided to sell an old magazine he had in order to help meet his mortgage payment. Here's the backstory. Gray Davis's campaign had nothing to do with it. ... More: An alert and knowledgeable kf reader suggests Schwarzenegger is trying to set the stage for the LAT's long-awaited, much-promised, highly anticipated and mysteriously delayed major multi-reporter investigative piece covering the Premiere-like ground of his personal behavior. ... Was this a smart fight for Schwarzenegger to pick--or will attacking Times editors' liberal bias serve to get their backs up? If I were A.S., I might have left things to run their normal course. The poorhouses are filled with people who bet on the L.A. Times' reportorial guts.

Pecker-baiting bonus! Maybe if the CEO of tabloid publisher AMI--the aptly-named David Pecker--decided to actually cover the major celebrity-politico event of the year, his newsstand sales wouldn't be down 13 percent and  70 AMI employees might still have jobs. ...Just a thought! ... 10:11 P.M.

It's liberal bias I tell you--about cars! What's wrong with the Chrysler 300C? Wednesday's NYT has a longish piece about how everything's going all to hell for DaimlerChrysler. Here's paragraph three:

DaimlerChrysler's two most trumpeted new models here are a Mercedes-Benz McLaren sports car with a carbon-fiber body and a sticker price of close to $400,000, and a majestic Chrysler sedan, the 300C. Both seem ill suited to these leaner economic times. [Emph. added]

It's not clear what's so terrible about a sedan that's "majestic"--the actual price of the 300C isn't given-- nor is it clear that we'll still be in "leaner times" when the 300C actually debuts in 2004, despite the NYT's institutional commitment to the concept. But that's OK. So the "billboard graf" is a bit vague. Surely the NYT reporters will return to the subject later in the piece and flesh out their criticism. ...

Nope! There's some griping about "whether there is a market for yet another capacious rear-wheel-drive sedan"--as if the market was flooded with them already, which it's not (unless everyone can afford a $55,000 Lexus). Yet the Times notes that most analysts "seem willing to give Chrysler's premium strategy the benefit of the doubt." The only other complaint--that the car uses a Mercedes-Benz transmission--also turns out to be a non-complaint. ("That is probably desirable, relative to crafting an all-new transmission," admits the NYT's main Chrysler critic.) ...

The car may be a flop, like the new Pacfica wagon, which somehow became just uglified enough in the transition from the prototype to seem ho-hum. But the 300C, unlike the Pacifica, has a big advantage over its competitors: Rear-wheel drive. If the price is right, it will fill a huge hole in the market. (That's why GM announced today it is thinking of following suit with rear-drive sedans of its own.)  Without any evidence of the 300C's inadequacy, the "billboard" criticism seems a Raines-era cheap shot by Times reporters Landler and Maynard, conforming to the journalistic fallacy that when things are going bad for a company or institution then everything must be going bad--and playing to Times readers innate distaste for anything big and American. ... P.S.: The pull quote in the print version is "Bigger cars are not necessarily better in this market." There is no evidence to support even this mealy-mouthed sentence in the actual piece, of course. But the slightly-untethered views of the NYT copy editors who write the pull quotes are, as usual, a good indication of the biases driving the article. ... Update: Instapundit says I'm wrong to call the Pacifica a flop, reporting, "I'm seeing quite a few of them in my neighborhood." ... "Flop" is probably too strong. But it's clearly nowhere near the instant success Chrysler hoped for and expected. And you don't see many of them out here on the cutting edge. ... 1:07 A.M.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

A very useful post by Brian Linse traces the ancestry of the Mechista "Por La Raza ..." slogan to a 1961 speech that Fidel Castro used to justify abuses of writers "outside" the revolution. ... Linse seems to believe this somehow proves the phrase is just a harmless "revolutionary unity statement." But Linse's e-mail source, Prof. Roberto Ignacio Diaz of USC, notes:

I do agree with you that the general meaning is something like "United We Stand"--except that this union seems to invoke the exclusion of other "razas" ... .

Even in Linse's "unity" interpretation--in which the slogan is directed inward, at members of "La Raza"--it translates into something like the Leninesque "If you work through La Raza, even if you disagree with it, anything good can happen. If you work outside La Raza, you're a treasonous gusano who deserves prison." Or words to that effect! These were the '60s, remember. ... 7:27 P.M.

Buried lede? Bustamante's permanent rolling super-amnesty: Did anyone notice this extraordinary passage buried in the LAT's coverage of a weekend Bustamante rally?:

In his news conference, Bustamante went further when asked if he saw any differences between legal and illegal immigrants.

"I think that anybody who works and pays taxes ought to have a right for citizenship," he said.

He deflected a question about whether that meant he would support open borders, but said later that he would back an amnesty program for illegal immigrants living in California. [Emph. added]

Bustamante's statement, taken at face value, may not mean open borders. But it does mean more than a blanket amnesty for current illegals (a fairly controversial proposition in itself). It would seem to mean prospective amnesty, and citizenship, for anyone who can get across the border and start working. ... (Note: It's pretty clear that when it comes to determining whether someone "pays taxes" Bustamante will be satisfied with sales taxes.) ...At best this is evidence that Bustamante, maybe more than Schwarzenegger, is kept under wraps by his handlers because he's shaky when it comes to policy pronouncements. ... P.S.: Maybe Bustamante's timidity in criticizing  the Aztlan-oriented MEChA group isn't substantively irrelevant after all. After a few decades of both legal and illegal immigration leading to U.S. citizenship, wouldn't something like a "reconquista" be on the political agenda for the American Southwest? Again, think 'Quebec with France next door.' ...   Backfill: Weintraub picked up on Bustamante's "work and pay taxes" pronouncement, and noted that the Lt. Gov. seemed to believe illegal immigrants normally serve in the U.S. military:

During his speech Sunday he said it was unfair to allow immigrants to serve and die in the armed forces while state policy denies them driver's licenses, as if he were talking about the same population. But U.S. military policy allows only legal immigrants to enlist. [Emph. added]

P.P.S.: How slow and ponderous is the L.A. Times? The day after Bustamante's comments, the Times front page features what must have been a long-in-the-can thumbsucker headlined

"Candidates Skirt Immigration Issue."

Didn't sound to me as if Bustamante was skirting the immigration issue! .... The Warm Bath of Concern: A more accurate summary of Teresa Watanabe's Times piece would have been "Immigration Debate Has Moved Left as Latinos Fulfill Glorious Demographic Destiny," or perhaps "Why Nobody's an Anti-Immigrant Racist Anymore." But Times hed writers prefer the muffled pundit tone, in keeping with the paper's unstated motto, "Why Be Interesting?" ... Even if Watanabe's thesis is correct, it would have been nice if she'd acknowledged what had actually happened in the real world during the previous week. Weintraub somehow managed.   Instead, Watanabe quotes an expert saying "It's not politically correct to talk about illegal immigration"--a day or so after Schwarzenegger talked about illegal immigration.... 1:01 P.M.

Ueberroth's pullout probably doesn't affect the California recall race much. ... But this breaking news  can only help A.S. ... 12:07 P.M.

Monday, September 8, 2003

Your Papers, Please! The legitimate argument in favor of giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses is that it would require them to know how to drive and allow them to buy state-mandated insurance. The legitimate argument against it is that driver's licenses function as I.D. and having them would allow illegals to do more or less anything in American society--resulting in a de facto amnesty and increased security risk. Why isn't  the obvious solution this: Separate the two functions. 1) Have a national identity cardthat serves the I.D. function. (This seems like an unfortunate post-9/11 necessity anyway.) 2) Then let illegals get their driver's licenses--it won't do them that much good, since they won't have the crucial identity card. But it will require them to pass a driving test (and let them get insurance). ... Do you think support for the license would then diminish in the Latino activist community? ... Do you think it would be a good idea for an Austrian whose father was a Nazi to make this somewhat authoritarian and un-American proposal? ... Update: damnun absque injuria  proposes instead a two-tier license scheme, with a differently-colored license for those who hadn't proven "to the DMV's satisfaction that [they] are here lawfully." I don't know if that would work. The off-color license would practically be a neon sign announcing "I am an illegal immigrant." Who would ever apply for it? ...   11:06 P.M.

Bad news for bloggers: Blogging, in my book, is the best way for writers to chase A.J. Liebling's alleged goal of being better than everyone who was faster than he was and faster than everyone who was better than he was. The speed of Internet posting is simply a huge leg up when it comes to pursuing this Liebling Optimality. Unfortunately, the fastest and most prolific good writer I know, Gregg Easterbrook, now has a blog. He's funny too. Yecch. ... The best hope for the rest of us: He has a family, and surely needs to spend hours and hours on long, revenue-producing books and print pieces. (Some of his paid Web work is also complex and distracting.) Please help Gregg's children go to college and do not give him any unnecessary encouragement in his new venture. ... 9:40 P.M.

"Austin was in play!" 1) Read Dahlia Lithwick's excellent, accessible account of the Supreme Court arguments on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and then 2) read Rick Hasen's comments  (which will now not seem so technical), and you will have a pretty good idea of how it went today. ... It's all up to that miserable hack Justice O'Connor. ... Complaint: Nobody seems to single out for separate discussion the worst provision in the McCain-Feingold law, the notorious Wellstone Amendment, which would ban clear political speech by incorporated non-profit advocacy groups like the ACLU and Sierra Club at the very moment when it might actually be effective, namely right before an election. 9:12 P.M.

Some observers felt that Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent scandal-dispelling kiss was less than Gore-like in its depth and passion. You make the call!  ... 4:02 P.M.

News from the Field: According to reliable campaign scuttlebutt, the new Field Poll will give the lie to the surprising and widely-disbelieved LAT poll  that showed Gray Davis on the verge of beating the recall and Bustamante with a significant lead. ... Stay tuned. ... Update: Drudge has the exact numbers. Note to Field Poll: Sue him! ... Upshot: Bad news for conservative Tom McClintock. He's still way behind, appears to be throwing the race to Bustamante. Dropout pressure will be intense. ... LAT spin: "Our poll was a crock." No, wait. That wasn't the LAT spin. Here it is: "[A]n independent poll showed Gov. Gray Davis gaining some ground in his bid to remain in office." (He went from losing by 21 points to losing by 15 points. The Times had him within 5 points.) ...  Weintraub notes that Latinos (unlike blacks) are pro-recall and surprisingly Arnold-friendly. Meanwhile, Bustamante's "negatives" are ominously high. ...3:53 P.M.

Hugh Hewitt  wants the press to show if California's Democratic legislature really has gone wild with wacky, irresponsible ideas. Jill Stewart delivers the goods on three seemingly misguided bills from Sacramento: 1) The health care mandate; 2) The secret "sacred sites;" and 3) Worker's comp reform (or non-reform). ... 2:11 A.M.

Bustamante Busted on Budget(by Bee Blogger!) ... William Bradley accuses LAT's Gold of "jumping in" to protect Cruz from a substantive grilling. ... 1:51 A.M.

More Spun Gold! One of the MEChA supporters quoted by the L.A. Times's Matea Gold in her defense of the controversial Chicano organization was Ralph de Unamuno, identified by Gold as "a UCLA graduate student who served as an advisor to the university's chapter." In Gold's piece, de Unamuno calls anti-MEChA charges "extremely slanderous," and adds:

It makes everyone feel pretty bad because, if you talk to most people in MEChA, most of their time is spent mentoring high school students or doing cultural events on campus ...

Comes now Shark Blog, pointing out that this same mentorly Mr. de Unamuno appears to have himself written a recall-pegged MEChA defense in a 'Myths/Facts' format. De Unamuno's essay in particular rebuts the "myth" that "MEChA's goals are to give the southwest back to Mexico." In reality, he argues:

MEChA is not a Mexican or Mexican-American organization. In 1999, MEChA changed its Philosophy and declared itself to be part of the intercontinental Indigenous Struggle of the Americas. Thus, we are internationalist in scope, and stand in solidarity and support the aboriginal rights of all the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and we no longer recognize the borders of any Colonial nation-state. [Emph. added]

Would that include the borders of the United States? Well, all right then!  ... P.S.: It's nice that, as Gold reassures us:

Current MEChA chapters ... do not subscribe to separatist or nationalistic ideas, according to members and faculty who work with the organization.

But is that because, as de Unamuno claims, "MEChA does not believe in nation-state borders" at all? ... 1:10 A.M.

Sunday, September 7, 2003

Excellent, calm, non-hysterical argument by LAT's Tim Rutten on why Cruz Bustamante's MEChA non-answers matter even though nobody thinks he wants to reconquer "Aztlan" for the "mestizo nation." ... Rutten notes that other California Latino pols (Xavier Becerra, Antonio Villaraigosa) have no problem renouncing MEChA's offensive slogans. Why can't Bustamante? ... P.S.: Bustamante has been receiving support on the MEChA issue from activist Nativo Lopez--more or less confirming the fears of Cruz-watchers, since, as Daniel Weintraub notes, Lopez himself was

recalled from office a few months ago by voters – mostly Latino parents -- in the Santa Ana Unified School District upset by district mismanagement and Lopez's support for bilingual education, as well as his attempts to undermine Proposition 227 [requiring instruction in English rather than Spanish]. [Emph. added.]

It's fair to say that Lopez represents exactly what people worry about when they worry about Bustamante's bizarre inability to criticize MEChA. ... Social suggestion for Rutten: Why not walk across the newsroom and say a jovial hello to LAT's lead Bustamante apologist, Matea "Spun" Gold! .. 1:40 A.M.

Weaving the Gloom: Two points about Louis Uchitelle's NYT report on the disappointing August job figures:

1) From the seventh paragraph--

"If we don't see some job growth by Thanksgiving, then the spurt in economic activity that we are currently experiencing will fade," said Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at ... [Emph. added]

How the hell does he know? And how badly does want its name in the New York Times? Badly enough to be tempted to give Louis Uchitelle the strong, gloomy quote he obviously wants? ... The economy has been spurting without job growth for two quarters. Why can't it keep spurting for another quarter? James W. Paulsen of Wells Capital Management offers Uchitelle a much more careful assessment--"If we go into next year without job growth, then ... recovery is in danger of unwinding." No front page plug for Wells Capital! Paulsen is relegated to fifteenth paragraph, deep inside the paper.

2) The unemployment rate fell a small amount, despite the job losses. The reason, apparently, was not so much those famous "discouraged workers" as the number of people listing themselves as "self-employed." Uchitelle writes:

... the number of workers in the survey who described themselves as self-employed grew by 233,000 last month — evidence to some economists that many had lost jobs and were masking their unemployment.

"Whenever you see a spike in self-employment in this kind of economy, you know that is involuntary entrepreneurship," said Jared Bernstein, a senior labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

Isn't it possible that when people tell surveyers they are self-employed they are actually self employed? If we're entering a new economic era--one in which traditional cyclical employers won't start rehiring, as this excellent WaPo analysis suggests--isn't it likely, even, that workers will adjust by pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities? And if entrepreneurship is real, what does calling it "involuntary" mean? I might prefer to have a full-fledged "job" at Microsoft, complete with stock options, health insurance, etc. Instead, I'm a freelance contractor. Calling my entrepreneurship "involuntary" might be accurate, but it doesn't mean I'm not working and feeding myself. In the "newer" economy, you'd expect such self-employment to increase, no? ... The point isn't that all 233,000 people who said they were "self-employed" were successfully making that transition. The point is that a) Uchitelle shouldn't dismiss them as jobless victims keeping up their spirits through euphemism, and b) compared with previous business cycles, a greater share may actually be self-employed. ...

Update: Musil piles on, adding the excellent point that reluctance to hire humans and overeagerness to replace them with high-productivity technology are symptoms of ... the dreaded eurosclerosis. Do corporations see Rep. Gephardt's health insurance employer-mandate, and other job-based benefits, coming down the road? That could explain some of the reluctance to hire. Every laid-off worker you reemploy is someone you're going to have to provide various kinds of leave for, and maybe buy health insurance for. I doubt this is in any way the main factor at work--the chances of a sweeping electoral triumph by Gephardtists aren't good enough. But state level mandates--like the one proposed by California Democrats, including Cruz Bustamante--seem like a real possibility. (Better for the government to provide health care in some way not linked to employment--directly, a la Medicare, or through subsidies to individuals.) ...12:32 P.M.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Fifteen minutes left. ...Update: Sold. Kf drove up the bidding from $255 to ... $255. 4:45 P.M.

"Bunda!"--The Hits Keep Coming: Arnold Schwarzenegger stands accused of traducing Brazilian culture  in an early educational video, "Party in Rio." David Pecker, Bonnie Fuller and the LAT (but not the S.F. Chronicle) caught asleep at the switch again. ... Context and Perspective: Hey, everybody was crazy in the '70s! ... OK, OK, this was the '80s! ... Still, this video shouldn't in itself be that damaging. Yes, A.S. appears to be a obsessed with female body parts. Hint for  N.O.W.: He's not alone! ...  P.S.: Is this all that's out there? Surely there's more, ready to be smuggled through the apparent tabloid embargo. ... P.P.S.: Here's a newsworthy screen shot of Schwarzenegger doing his version of Alastair Cooke  (from Moderate Independent, which was on the "Rio" case  in July). You'd think this would be something Fuller's tabloid readers might be interested in, no? Maybe she's trying to get a job at the LAT. ... 3:25 P.M.

Only four hours to go to bid on that historic copy of Oui magazine. (It's currently at $255--a bargain, compared to this.) ... 12:52 P.M.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Hold on to your chad: The ACLU appears to have won the Ninth Circuit lottery in its bid to have the federal appellate court postpone the scheduled October 7 California recall election. The 3-judge panel on the case--Harry Pregerson, Richard Paez, and Sidney Thomas--seems both a) liberal and b) willing to make trouble . Here's an excerpt from a highly informative piece by Jason Hoppin in  The Recorder:

Pregerson is the ex-Marine who recently declared that he could not, "in good conscience," go along with the U.S. Supreme Court's jurisprudence on California's Three Strikes law.

He'll be joined by judges Sidney Thomas and Richard Paez, both appointees of President Clinton. Paez's nomination languished for years after conservatives tagged him as too liberal. Thomas, a soft-spoken Montanan, proved he is just as fearless as Pregerson this week when he reversed the death sentences of more than 100 prisoners throughout the West.

P.S.: Blogger Rick Hasen had this news on Tuesday, but posted it without comment. Is Hasen inhibited because he's actually intervened in the case as an amicus (on the ACLU's side)? He might not want to annoy Pregerson, Paez, and Thomas by predicting their behavior--especially by predicting victory. Update: Hasen e-mails to say he was just busy--"between the recall and McCain-Feingold (I'm in DC now,to blog from the breaks in the oral argument), I barely have time to breathe." And Hasen does more or less predict an ACLU victory in the S.F. Chronicle, saying of a recall postponement:

"I think it's fairly likely, especially given the judges who are going to hear the case" ...

[Emphasis added] I withdraw the charge. ... 3:02 P.M.

Even Cruz Bustamante's Svengali, consultant Richie Ross, thinks that L.A.Times poll showing Bustamante with a 13 point lead over Schwarzenegger was way off. "We know Cruz had nowhere near that," Ross tells L.A. Weeklys William Bradley. "The numbers on Gray were way off, too." ... Bodybuilders' leads are no bigger than anyone else's! Could Ross be intentionally lowering expectations? Maybe, but only because he actually thinks the next LAT poll won't show anything like that big a Cruz lead. If anything, the rational default strategy in this complicated multi-candidate race is to exaggerate your lead in order to attract support (as a potential "winner") from minor rivals of the same basic persuasion--and, in Bustamante's case, to attract money that might otherwise go to Davis. That may be why Ross says "We have a tiny lead over Arnold right now,"  while the Schwarzenegger camp says its polls show him "comfortably ahead."... P.S.: Bradley  also points out  that Bustamante has been just as slow to get up to speed on the issues, and just as unavailable to the press, as Schwarzenegger. It's just that when Bustamante, say, blows off a Q & A with reporters (as he did after Wednesday's debate) because he doesn't want to answer questions about his huge Indian casino contributions, it doesn't get much media play. ... 1:09 P.M.

An exceptionally clear, paradigm-setting business piece in WaPomakes sense of all the gloomsaying on jobs in the NYT over the past two years. The gist: Everybody's waiting for the "large industrial companies" with "cyclical employment policies" to start hiring again, which is how slowdowns used to end.  But that won't happen this time--those jobs are gone, outsourced overseas or automated (result: soaring productivity). ... Job growth will have to come from new and newly-important industries and firms. ... Optimistic spin: This is a continuation of a long term trend, with one new wrinkle. This time white collar jobs "brain" jobs are going overseas (e.g. to India) along with blue-collar jobs. That means the job losses don't have the vicious meritocratic bite they had in previous recessions. In other words, it's no longer true that in a free trade regime unskilled workers keep losing out while college-educated "symbolic analysts" (Robert Reich's term) prosper. Now, everyone, including smug high-SAT yuppies, has to adjust and find new work, which should make the process of adjusting (and reaping those productivity rewards) easier to take, politically. ... 12:56 P.M.

Schwarzenegger's Defense: 'I'm a Huge Liar!' He now says, of his 1977 Oui interview:

I made statements that were crazy, statements that—a lot of them were not true and just exaggerated situations. ...I knew they would get headlines. [Emph. added]

I believe him! The more you think about it, the more Arnold's boasting to Oui smells like pure PR BS-ing. Schwarzenegger, remember, was determined to rid bodybuilding of its homosexual image. So he comes up with a group gangbang incident--not only is he straight, but all the guys in the gym were straight! And the girls giving hummers backstage at the Mr. Olympia contest--that's just too good. Also well-targeted. ('Mom, I want to be a bodybuilder!') ... The "BS" theory doesn't get AS off the hook, but it's revealing in a different way. We know what he's been willing to do to get what he wants. ...His recent accounts of the interview have consistently pointed to the "BS" explanation, and they've been fairly consistent, despite the LAT's straining to find a big contradiction. ... 12:12 A.M.



Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes 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.]