New Times probe, in a fog of doubt, is as urgent as it is unpredictable! It looks as if the L.A. Times is still investigating Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Daily Californian reports on a talk Times political writer Mark Barabak recently gave to University of California students:
While the campaign may be over, Barabak said, the story of Schwarzenegger's past is not. He said the Times is investigating potentially more damaging charges against the governor-elect. [Emph. added.]
Do reporters usually say they are investigating damaging charges before they are proven? It seems permissable to me--but if a Times reporter announced that the paper was investigating unspecified 'potentially damaging' but unproven charges against, say, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, I suspect the editors of the Times might come down somewhat hard on him. ... It's a double standard, I tell you! ... P.S.: Alert kf readers may remember Barabak as the author of what may be the most memorably fatuous lede in years (nine days before the recall vote):
California's extraordinary election — the first gubernatorial recall in state history — is ending much as it began, in a fog of doubt that makes these last campaign days as urgent as they are unpredictable.
Update: Reader J.N. notes the Daily Cal could have misparaphrased what Barabak said. The key words are not in quotes. ... [Note: The initial version of this item erroneously had Barabak writing that lede two days before the vote instead of nine.] ...10:48 P.M.
What's wrong with the Democratic Party, on one convenient page. ... P.S.: Alert reader A.B. notes that "you can't accuse them of pandering to the Jewish vote." Update--Not so fast! I withdraw that last slander. You can accuse them after all. ... 2:00 P.M.
I predict that within five years Steve Bartman will be a beloved figure in Chicago. My reasoning: the Cubs' image as a cursed team is much more precious to the city than a mere World Series appearance. You win the NCLS or even the Series, you get to party for a couple of days--and then you're just another team like all the other teams that have had one good year. You're Anaheim. But not having won a World Series since 1908? Priceless. ... Winning, for the Cubs, would be like Susan Lucci winning an Emmy. They'll be naming bridges after Bartman. ....[Susan Lucci did win an Emmy, in 1999-ed. I knew that. You thought I didn't know that?] 3:20 A.M.
The quiet victory of 'neoliberalism:' At a breakfast in the spring of 1985, Paul Kirk, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee, suggested "means testing" big government benefit programs--in essence, shaving the benefits of the affluent--as a way to save money. Kirk was forced to eat his words by lunch. ("I should not have mentioned the subject of a means test.") ... We've come a long way. Now House and Senate conferees have reached a "basic philosophical consensus" to apply a type of a means test, based on income, to Part B of Medicare. Nobody has been forced to eat any words--yet. ... P.S.: "Means testing" was a key plank in the platform of "neoliberalism," the philosophy my old boss Charles Peters championed at the Washington Monthly. Today's news on Part B is but another example of why this neoliberal tendency, once exciting and heretical, is now less compelling than it once was: It's less compelling because it's won. ...Psst! Just don't tell them in Iowa, OK? ... Update: WaPo's Amy Goldstein has more on the history of proposals to means-test Medicare. ... Impolitic thought: Of course, if it's OK to means-test Medicare, why not Social Security too? ... Now we're talking about enough savings to start funding national health insurance. Senator Kennedy? ... 2:13 A.M.
Wednsday, October 15, 2003
Inside the Liberal Cocoon I: Here's American Prospect executive editor Michael Tomasky from a small festival of wishful thinking he published back on August 13:
Every so often in life you have to go out on a limb. So here goes: Arnold Schwarzenegger will not be the next governor of California. What's more, his loss will represent an important moment in a shift in American politics that has been in gestation for some time now -- toward a politics in which voters make decisions more on the basis of their cultural affinities than in response to a candidate's charisma or fame. ...
... And in the week he's been a candidate, Schwarzenegger's numbers sure haven't gone up. His first round of morning talk-show appearances was judged pretty awful. More recently, as the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday, there's been enough grumpiness in the Arnold camp that a fairly major shake-up has already taken place ... [Emph. added]
That explains it! Tomasky had been reading the Times! ... [I thought you wanted Times editors to return your calls-ed. Yes. Sorry. That just slipped out.] ... Thanks to reader C.W. ... P.S.: Compare and contrast Tomasky's clueless straw-grasping with the uncocooned Weintraub's prescient post of a month earlier. ("If he runs, he wins.") ...2:58 P.M.
I've never shared the liberal animus toward Rush Limbaugh. The few times I've listened to his show it has been conducted on what seems like a pretty high level. But I don't understand why conservatives are attempting to mercilessly deprive liberals of their enjoyment of Limbaugh's current troubles. Even the wisecracking Lucianne has gotten all earnest all of a sudden. I say show some compassion: Let the liberals gloat. ... P.S.: One who is not afraid of gloating is Harry Shearer. If you can listen to his "Rush to Recovery" without even once cruelly laughing at Limbaugh's expense, you have no humanity at all. ... 12:47 A.M.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Jill Stewart has posted a reply to L.A. Times editor John Carroll's somewhat irritated response to her criticism of his paper. Stewart simultaneously narrows and broadens the dispute with some intriguing reporting.... In a sudden flare-up of journalistic responsibility, I'm staying out of this one until I try some reporting of my own. ... More tk. ... But here's a question: Carroll elaborates on the difficulty of producing the big Schwarzengroping investigation in only eight weeks or so. But why did the Times have only 8 weeks? It's been known for years that Schwarzenegger had political ambitions, and for years that he often behaved badly around women. One answer, I think, is that Schwarzenegger's initial July-August head fake--in which leaks from "aides" seemed to indicate that he wouldn't run--successfully conned the Times (as it conned me) into discounting his candidacy. I've previously thought Schwarzenegger's initial misdirection was important because it made sure Sen. Dianne Feinstein stayed out of the race--she almost certainly made her decision when she thought Schwarzenegger was also sitting it out. But the head-fake might have been even more crucial to Schwarzenegger's success in that it froze the Times in place-- so that when he finally declared the paper, by Carroll's account, didn't have enough time to crank up an investigation and publish in time to do him real damage (by, for example, making him respond to the groping charges in a debate).... P.S.: If you want more Times-bashing, try Armed Liberal's exhaustive plot of Times opinion columns. Final score:
13 "violently" anti-Arnold or anti-recall columns
17 "mild" anti-Arnold or anti-recall columns
11 "balanced" columns
1 anti-Bustamante column
0 pro-Arnold or pro-recall columns.
Monday, October 13, 2003
Recall Recriminations: How off was that notorious L.A. Times poll? The widely-disbelieved LAT poll of 9/12, which showed the California recall race in a "tossup," assumed that white/Latino voters would amount to 82% of the total electorate and that "black/Asian/other" voters would, by implication, make up the remaining 18%. At the time, the competing Field Poll criticized this high estimate of blacks and Asians--noting that an oversampling of blacks, a highly anti-recall group, might have skewed the results in Davis' direction. Now it looks like the Field critique was accurate. According the the Edison/Mitofsky exit poll, the recall electorate was 88% white/Latino, and only 13% black/Asian/other. The Timesoversampled this group by almost 40 percent. The Field Poll estimate, in contrast, appears to have been dead on. ... [Isn't this the sort of Times-bashing LAT editor John Carroll dismisses as "journalistic pornography"?--ed I don't believe the Times' junky poll was a case of deliberate distortion. But it was something. (Insufficient budget? Incompetence? Wishful thinking? Bizarrely bad luck?) So far, Times poll director Susan Pinkus hasn't seen fit to even respond to the impressive Field critique. If Carroll is intent on leveling with his readers, he might require her to at least explain the paper's seemingly strange methodology. She could start by revealing to readers what portion of the oversampled "black/Asian/other" group were blacks, and what percent were Asian, etc. ... Bonus question: How badly do you have to embarrass the paper to get fired at the LAT? ... Update: Not so fast! Alert reader S.S. notes that the Times' own exit poll results, now posted, show the black/Asian/other vote making up 17% of the electorate, very close to what the Times' 9/12 poll assumed. But we still don't know whether, within this category, blacks (6% of the vote in both exit polls, almost 4-1 against the recall) were an erroenously large percentage of respondents in the anomalous 9/12 poll ... Update II: I'm now told blacks were 8% of the 9/12 Times sample--a 33% overestimate, but not enough, I should think, to explain the wacky "tossup" result. ... To see how anomalous the 9/12 Times poll was, take a look at the Real Clear Politics poll list. The only thing even close to the mid-September Times poll, in the "no" column was ... the mid-August Times poll! That would suggest some peculiar Timesian bias, no? ... 4:28 P.M.
A second NYU student has died after jumping off the 10th floor blacony of the Bobst Library's dramatic internal atrium. When I lived in New York, I was terrified of using Bobst for just this reason--fear of succumbing to the urge to jump (or worrying that others would succumb). It's now clear that this isn't just an eccentric phobia--the space is an invitation to suicide, a form of architectural malpractice. Other, similar, spaces include the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, Helmut Jahn's Illinois State Office Building in Chicago, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York (where you have to make an effort not to commit suicide, because the ramp around the atrium slopes down and the balustrade is not high). To construct such a space on a college campus filled with moody and inebriated kids seems particularly negligent. It's all the more inexcusable because there's a model for a skylit atrium that doesn't create such risks--the historic Bradbury building in Los Angeles, where the balconies surround the atrium are partially terraced, so if you jumped off one balcony, unless you were Bob Beamon you'd just land on the one below. The Bradbury's internal space is just as dramatic as Bobst, but because the risk of falling is smaller, it imparts a feeling of community and peace rather than a feeling of anxiety. ... Prediction: NYU will have to either enclose the balconies or extend the floors to fill the Bobst atrium in. ... Update: They are installing plexiglass barriers. ... 2:54 A.M.
Bill Bradley notes the "two divergent camps" at the Schwarzenegger victory party:
[T]he Wilson people, moderately conservative Republicans; and the non-Wilson people, who urge on the populist inclinations of the action hero. The two groups didn't mix much. The transition, most everyone agreed, is being designed to emphasize the non-Wilson crowd, and Schwarzenegger is well aware of the need to be his own man.
Once Schwarzenegger has used the Wilson team to show him the ropes in Sacramento, how long will it be before he's tempted to completely dump them overboard in favor of his own crew? [Do you think he would use people like that?--ed Hello? See: "I just [made love to] her. I just [made love to] her."] 2:18 A.M.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
How out of it is David Broder? I'd missed this (on the California recall):
This is a flawed process. A man who I was talking to said, "If Leon Panetta's name had gone on the ballot as an alternative, he would be winning this race hands down. But because of this peculiar process there, people are in a dilemma because they don't want to keep Governor Davis as their governor, and they don't really want to see any of these alternatives become governor." -- Meet the Press, Oct. 5, 2003
Huh? How, exactly, was "the process" keeping Panetta off the ballot? If he'd wanted to run, all he needed was $3,500. The "process" was ideal for a respectable moderate like Panetta--a short campaign where he wouldn't have to first appeal to the Democratic primary electorate, where he could add some moderate Republican votes to his natural Democratic constituency. Panetta wasn't on the ballot because he didn't have the guts to run. ... I actually think he might have done well, if he could have gone beyond the platitudes about "tough choices" he favors on TV. But he seems to have disagreed. ... 9:18 P.M.
Friday, October 10, 2003 Battle of the lame post-recall cliches:
Friday, October 10, 2003
Battle of the lame post-recall cliches:
1. 'Earthquake' -- 91 NEXIS hits in the past week. (Includes 3 hits for '10 on the political Richter scale')
2. 'At the end of the Robert Redford film, The Candidate, ...'-- 29 NEXIS hits
3. 'Now the hard part' --9 NEXIS hits
OK? Can we raise taxes now?
HANNITY: All right. Let meask you, what are the areas, if you're going to be cutting and you're going take a no new tax pledge, what are the emergency situations that would trigger your consideration of a tax increase?
SCHWARZENEGGER: The emergency situation means that if there's a terrorist attack on this state, if we have an earthquake ...
--Interview on Hannity & Colmes, 9/25/03
"Magnitude 4.3 Quake Strikes in Desert Area South of Border"
--L.A. Times story, yesterday.
How long before California Democrats, in their recriminations, turn the blame against popular U. S. Senator Dianne Feinstein? She could have saved them from the Davis debacle--if she'd entered the race she almost certainly would have won; Schwarzenegger might well have stayed out. (He didn't announce until she'd made her decision clear.) But Feinstein was too big a fuddy-duddy to countenance the idea that a nasty recall could disrupt her life. ... 2:45 A.M.
The Brady Hunch: Punch-card foe Henry Brady of Berkeley now claims that 176,000 votes were lost in the recall election due to punch-card balloting systems. But if the S.F. Chronicle's report is right, he gets this figure by comparing total ballots cast with total votes on the yes/no recall. Ballots without a vote on the yes/no question are presumed to be votes that were cast but somehow not counted due to malfunctioning voting mechanisms. But why weren't they intentional abstentions--for example, Latino Bustamante voters who hate Davis but couldn't bring themselves to vote "yes" on the recall, or who just rushed to the second part of the ballot? Here's the Chronicle's explanation:
Part of the difference resulted from voters who chose not to vote on the recall, but based on past experience, most of the disparity consisted of votes that were cast but not counted, Brady said.
I don't see how Brady knows this. True, the number of "missing" votes varies between counties. But the big counties with punch cards (i.e. Los Angeles) also seem to be counties with large Latino populations that may have abstained in the manner described above. Brady would have to figure out some way of correcting for the proportion of Bustamante voters, or any other supporters of other candidates who might abstain on some other basis. That L.A. County showed even more missing votes than other punch card counties ("nearly 9 percent" versus an average of 7.7 percent) suggests that some factor other than punch cards was at work. ... I await Prof. Hasen's upcoming column, or a link to Brady's full study. But a previous Brady anti-punch-card study was so flawed it left Harvard Prof. Laurence Tribe, who had to defend it in court, humiliated on national television by Judge Alex Kozinski. And Brady's rush into the headlines--in time to let the obnoxious ACLU attorney Mark Rosenbaum declare a "defacing of democracy"--is not reassuring. ... 2:07 A.M.
Thursday, October 9, 2003
Fusion power: The Schwarzenegger transition team was just named. (See Weintraub and LAT.) My socks are still on--and I guessed only one, Willie Brown--but it's refreshing and it isn't "politics as usual." Tammy Bruce is in the house! And Susan Estrich too. ... 3:42 P.M.
No democratic disaster: It seems like only weeks ago that opponents of the California recall were complaining that a successor to Governor Davis could win with only a 'tiny minority' of the vote. It's worth noting that, in the event, not only did successor Arnold Schwarzenegger get more votes (3,744,132) than Davis (3,562,487), he also got more votes than Davis got in November, 2002 (3,469,025) when Davis won reelection. ... Almost a million more people (4,416, 280) voted to recall Davis than voted to reelect him last year. ... I would think the recall--sorry, the "nearly unprecedented perversion of representative government"--will now be hard to de-legitimize. ... [Thanks to reader B.W.] ... Update: Do these totals include all the absentee ballots? Good question. (Answers welcome.) According to an AP story filed this morning today there are still 900,000 absentee and "provisional" ballots to be counted, which if true will pesumably make Schwarzenegger's win even bigger. ...
P.S.: Michael MacDonald argues that Davis might have gotten more than Schwarzenegger if you credit him with the 370,000 (ugh) undervotes on Question 1 (voters who voted in the replacement race but didn't cast a measurable vote on the initial yes/no recall). But why can't these undervotes, as friend of reader L.G. suggested, reflect Bustamante voters who disliked Davis but couldn't bring themselves to vote "yes" on the recall, and so just skipped the whole first question? ...
P.P.S.: I expected the misguided East Coast anti-recall harrumphers to quietly change their tune once the massive anti-Davis vote became clear. (After all, turnout is good in David Broder's world, and the people are always right, aren't they?) To their credit, both Broder and George Will have perversely kept up their misguided anti-populist harrumphing even as it becomes clearer and clearer that they are clinging to a reified concept of elections (i.e. they must always have fixed terms) that's not necessarly justified at the state and local level [in this fast-paced Internet era?-ed. Yes, that].
P.P.P.S.: Marc Cooper, a man of the left, makes most of these points and more in a strong, gloating column taking apart the party-line defense of Davis. There's a nice graf directed at Moveon.org:
Face it. Just about everything liberal activists said about the recall, just about every Cassandra-like prediction spooned out by the party hacks at MoveOn.org, failed to materialize. Far from being a Republican "power grab," the recall election culminated as a raucous festival of direct democracy. Turnout was much greater than in November. The voting system didn't collapse. No Hurricane Chad ripped through the counting rooms. No masses of people of color were disenfranchised. Thousands of not-very-confused-at-all citizens did not mistakenly vote for Gary Coleman instead of Cruz Bustamante.
And there's a rifle shot at Cooper's L.A. Weekly colleague, Harold ("Latino labor leaders will save the Dems") Meyerson:
The wheels of Miguel Contreras' and the County Labor Federation's much-vaunted multimillion-dollar get-out-the-vote machine flew off when it crashed head-on with the rank and file. Half of union households voted for the recall, 4 of 10 directly for Schwarzenegger.
Meyerson makes excuses here. ... 1:07 A.M.
A year ago: Sept. 18, 2002, to be exact. ... Bill Bradley had the scoop on Schwarzenegger's ambitions, and the L.A. Times was blowing the story. Seems like only yesterday!... Some eerie prescience here. ... 3:53 A.M.
This Scruz Bustamante good! Three questions:
1. Doesn't California governor Gray Davis blame his lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, for costing him the recall election by entering the "replacement" race? (The argument would be that Bustamante's Democratic fans didn't vote "No on Recall" as instructed--they voted "Yes" on the recall in the hopes of getting Bustamante, but would have voted "No" if he hadn't been on the ballot.)
2. Can't Gray Davis really screw Bustamante by resigning a few days or hours before Arnold Schwarzenegger takes office, thereby making Bustamante governor for a few days or hours, after which Bustamante would (under one statutory interpretation) not return to being lieutenant governor but instead be completely out of a job?
3. Isn't Gray Davis rumored to be a wee bit vindictive?
P.S.: Lawyer Frederic Woocher thinks Bustamante could avoid this fate by simply refusing to take the oath of office for the governorship. But that would leave the governor's office empty for the interim. Isn't it more likely that Bustamante automatically succeeds Davis, whether he likes it or not--and then has to find a job? ... P.P.S.: What job? I don't think he could replace Roy Horn. Too tasty! ... How about announcer in an Indian casino? ... . 12:53 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. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Calmer Times--Registration required. NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare! Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog. Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog. B-Log--Blog of spirituality! Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]