Dem Panic Watch, Part III

Dem Panic Watch, Part III

Dem Panic Watch, Part III

A mostly political Weblog.
May 2 2004 5:34 AM

Dem Panic Watch, Part III

Plus, how to restructure Kerry's campaign.

'Faster Iraq' Watch 2: Quick elections seem to be working  in some Shia regions of Southern Iraq:

Although the American government insisted that national elections could not be held in Iraq before the transfer of sovereignty on June 30, in Dhi Qar they went ahead using the ration card system - a method which could have been used nationally, according to many Iraqis.

Using ration cards means it's "one family, two votes" rather than "one man, one vote." Do you really want to try to make it to January while holding out for Baker v. Carr-level fairness? The results so far using ration cards seem to be crudely representative and legitimate (and non-fundamentalist). ... Would a transtitional government selected this way be any less legitimate than a powerless, unelected June 30 "caretaker" government that waits until January to let Iraqis vote? A quickly-elected regime could always have another election next year and asymptotically approach perfection. ... P.S.: And couldn't an early election--say, in July--provide the occasion for inviting the rest of the world, including the U.N., to share (or take over) our peacekeeping duties? a) With an elected Iraqi government, other nations would have a harder time refusing to send troops; b) The new Iraqi  government might ask them in, and ask us to diminish our presence. Good news for us, maybe, because c) there's a limit to the amount of mischief France could make with an elected Iraqi government (acutely conscious of France's role bolstering Saddam) in place. In effect, the new government would be a brain looking around for some muscles. The UN wouldn't be telling it what to do, simply providing start-up security. ... .Just thinking out loud here! I will now go read Fareed Zakaria's book  to find out why this is of course a terrible idea. ...


[Won't there be security problems?-ed. There will always be security problems. There were security problems in Spain! But if Islamic fanatics set off bombs before the vote, you'd think that would hurt their cause in the balloting. Don't they know that? ... P.S.: It might even be better to hold elections right now, while we have a lot of the bad guys bottled up in Fallujah. (Fallujah, like other places with special security problems, could always be allowed to hold its elections later.) ... P.P.S.: If there's too much violence on election day, international observers can always declare the elections failed and schedule them again. Why would that be such a setback? You'd think it would be bad PR for the terrorists whose intentions--to stop democracy--would now be obvious to Iraqis and the world. ...

In Iraq, let's not let the good become the enemy of non-disastrous.] ...1:59 A.M.

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Dem Panic Watch 3: Brazile ... Edwards ... Rendell ... "one senior Democratic official" ... maybe Carter Eskew too!  ... P.S.: Is it a horrible disadvantage--as the NYT's Nagourney, following the WashTimes' Lambro, suggests--that Kerry doesn't yet have an Ohio campaign director or a "full-fledged campaign 'war room'" six months before the election? Not even anti-Kerry RealClearPolitics thinks this is a big deal. ... Vain, pompous, dissembling candidate--important! Delay in fully-staffing 'war room'--not important! .... P.P.S.: Nagourney argues that a robust war room would have improved the Kerry response in the "medals" controversy--apparently by marshaling "surrogates" to rebut Good Morning America'scharge instead of having Kerry go on the show and fight with Charlie Gibson.  Hmmm.  Wasn't that the sort of charge a candidate would normally be expected to answer himself? If a surrogate (or friendly foe like McCain) can handle that question, maybe surrogates can handle the candidate's other tasks too, like developing a "message"!  ... Maybe the candidate can stay out of the public eye entirely for six months while the surrogates do the actual campaigning for him!... Maybe the Kerry campaign could streamline its problematic organizational structure by eliminating the candidate and running a group of these more appealing surrogates instead!  Nagourney may be on to something here. ... Update: Reader J. emails: "[D]on't you think having a 'Dem Panic Watch' (or other '--- Watch') installment is a bit teleological? Like, instead of accurately analyzing what's going on in the news, you simply make a prediction and then tend to look out for that evidence which supports it?" You have a problem with that? It works for me. 1:38 A.M.


Friday, April 30, 2004

Faster Iraq Watch: George Will joins the are-we-really-going-to-try-to-wait-until-January-to-have-elections-in-Iraq camp. Count me in. It would be great if months could be spent lovingly building the supportive intermediary institutions of civil society, but this is a luxury we don't seem to have. ... 5:13 P.M.

Not Orwellian Enough: Here are the first few sentences of today's Paul Krugman column:

"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." That's from George Orwell's 1946 essay "In Front of Your Nose." It seems especially relevant right now, as we survey the wreckage of America's Iraq adventure.

Tomorrow a year will have passed since George Bush's "Mission Accomplished" carrier landing. Throughout that year — right up to the surge in violence this month — administration officials assured us that things were going well in Iraq. Living standards, they said, were steadily improving. The resistance, they insisted, consisted of a handful of dead-enders aided by a few foreign infiltrators — and each lull in attacks brought pronouncements that the campaign against the insurgents had turned the corner

So they lied to us; what else is new?


Krugman, revealingly, fails to grasp the meaning of the Orwell quote he starts with, no? It seems pretty clear to me that what Orwell's describing is the way our unconscious mind often deceives our conscious mind--until we're finally forced by brutal reality to change (or until we're extinguished on the battlefield). Krugman converts this not unsubtle insight into the crude:

"So they lied to us; what else is new?"

In doing this, Krugman attributes conscious deception to people (the Bushies) who are probably (in reality and Orwellian theory) guilty only of self-deception. This tendency--to call opponents liars when they're better described as self-deceivers--is one reason Krugman's almost always preaching to the choir (and not doing nearly as much damage to Bush as he could be doing). ...

P.S.: Of course, Krugman's misreading of the quote he's chosen to start his column is a pretty good example of the type of self-deception Orwell's talking about. Krugman isn't consciously misreading the quote. He just doesn't recognize that the quote doesn't quite say what he wants it to say.  ...

The rest of the column's good! ... [Thanks to reader B.] 1:29 P.M.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Republicans don't dislike Hillary, according to CNN's Carlos Watson, who says that at a recent "conversation with voters" in Miami

Republicans as well as Democrats named her a political favorite. Like a lot of conventional wisdom, the belief that she is a polarizing figure sure to sink the Democrats may be right, and it may be wrong.


Watson's bloggish Web column confirms that he almost always has something interesting to say. And he's, you know, diverse! I can't figure out why he isn't on every talk show in the country. ... P.S.: He also explains why Sen. Specter's close call probably helped Bush. ... 7:29 P.M.

Dem Panic Watch: Broder ... Ridgeway ... Anson ... Cohen  ... "some key Democrats" ... Tina! 2:34 P.M.

Let me get this straight. Gore lost the 2000 election by, like, 17 votes and he had $6 million sitting in a bank? Couldn't he have done something with that money that would have put him over the top? [Thanks to reader B.B.] ...   Q: What would be fitting punishment? A: Making Gore donate the money to help elect a guy he can't stand! ... Nevermind? From knowledgeable reader M:

Gore's $6 million was in his GELAC -- General Election Legal Compliance Fund. It's used for legal compliance only. He couldn't have used to, say, contest Ohio and Tennessee. The money was directly raised for -- and could only be spent on -- lawyer-type stuff...proving that donors exist...that type of stuff.


Couldn't he have transferred the funds somehow--e.g. gotten the donors that gave to this fund to give to another fund that could have been used to, say, get out the vote in close states (maybe by giving the donors back their money--once it was clear it wouldn't be needed--with a 'suggestion' on where to send it instead)? ... 1:54 P.M.

Mushbusters: An important new blog, Eduwonk, dares to a) tackle a potentially mindfogging subject with cutting clarity and b) defend the whipping-boy No Child Left Behind Act--in this case, against a NYT sneer job. The Times piece, by Michael Winerip, whines about a Florida school allegedly unfairly branded as failing to make "adequate yearly progress" under the new law. The school in question--Lake Alfred Elementary--wouldn't have failed under some looser standards in other states such as Texas, Winerip notes. But is that an argument for states' rights or for stricter uniform nationwide standards? ... Plus, Eduwonk shows that the Florida school really is failing to do a good enough job:

What's more important is what Winerip does not mention. For instance, black students at Lake Alfred are also far behind. Less than one in three black students is proficient in reading and fewer than one in four in math. ...  [And] white kids at the school aren't doing all that great either, only 56 percent are proficient in reading and 50 percent in math. ...

 If he is going to defend states for doing the right thing without NCLB -- and some were -- he ought to at least find one where more than about half the students are reading and doing math at grade level.

Not too long ago wouldn't Timesmen have been outraged by inequities like these visited on the most vulnerable in our society? Today, apparently, they are outraged by efforts to remedy them.

You can go ahead and scan  the whole thing--it's extremely readable, once you've mastered a few acronyms. And remember: they're reading those mushy, brain-numbing education stories so you don't have to! ... 1:43 A.M.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

From WaPo:

In addition, based on the munitions and contraband uncovered by Marines during their initial foray into the city, U.S. military officials believe a large number of roadside bombs and car bombs detonated elsewhere in Iraq may have been manufactured in Fallujah.

A military intelligence officer noted this week that there have been no large car bombings in Baghdad since the Marines surrounded Fallujah in early April. "Fallujah is a place that is rife with terrorist leaders and bomb-makers who are responsible for attacks not just in Fallujah but across Iraq," the officer said.

Maybe the status quo--keeping these guys bottled up in Fallujah while the June 30 deadline for the transfer of "sovereignty" nears--isn't as bad as it seems. ... An extended seige that produced relative peace in the rest of Iraq might even serve an educational function for Iraqis prone to glorifying the anti-occupation fighters in Fallujah. ... 11:55 P.M.


1) Dr. M thinks the "Bush/AWOL" charge wasn't Kerry's "everything on the table" Doomsday weapon--that it's "probably something along the lines of drinking/ drug use (& anything related that may have been covered up) in Bush's past." ... He could be right! ...

2) M.D. notes, as have many others, that the Rasmussen poll is back to tied. His explanation--Bush's lead didn't reflect a Kerry decline but rather an external event: "On April 23, the day on which the Bush blip began, the media was focused on the tragic death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.  Do you think that Tillman's heroism reflected onto Bush to account for the blip?  Now, with media focus directed elsewhere, the tracking polls return to the steady state of an even contest." ... He could be right too! The timing certainly fits. ... P.S.: And yes, I did expect Kerry to continue to trail in Rasmussen's robo-poll. It will be hard for us Kerry-bashers to induce panic among Democratic elites if the polls do not cooperate. But the night is young. ...

3) J.M. argues Kerry might still be right about the Mall: "The Anson piece describes A SINGLE NIGHT in which Kerry had access to a Georgetown apartment. The Agnew charge, denied by Kerry, was that he spent "most of his nights" in posh surroundings in Georgetown. The protest lasted a week." ... Please. If Kerry spent only one night in Georgetown and several nights on the mall, why didn't he just say that, instead of denying the charge and letting his campaign call it a "smear"? If he just drank brandy in the library (see Update), why doesn't he say that? Clintonian parsing and misdirection is a form of dissembling too. Why should we want that in a candidate? ...

4:37 P.M.

Where Kerry Slept: John Kerry didn't throw his own medals over the wall in that 1971 antiwar protest and he didn't sleep on the Mall with his Viet Vet buddies either. He snuck off and slept in a Georgetown townhouse. That's the import of this N.Y. Observer story.  ... You can't accuse Robert Sam Anson of burying the lede! ... Assignment for ABC producer Chris Vlasto: As I recall, whether Kerry actually slept on the Mall has been a controversial issue over the years. Why do I think that if you go through the clips you'll find Kerry denying that he didn't sleep on the Mall? Just a guess. Anson, as an eyewitness sympathetic to Kerry, has now basically resolved the factual issue (for at least one night of the VVAW protest). ... Update: Here's one denial, in Michael Kranish's Boston Globe Kerry profile

Vice President Spiro T. Agnew briefly led the White House charge against Kerry. Appearing in the Bahamas, Agnew said that Kerry, "who drew rave notices in the media for his eloquent testimony before Congress, was later revealed to have been using material ghosted for him by a former Kennedy speechwriter, and to have spent most of his nights in posh surroundings in Georgetown rather than on the Mall with his buddies."

Both of Agnew's charges were false, according to Kerry and Walinsky, the former Kennedy aide to whom Agnew referred. [Emphasis added]

We now know, from Anson, that Agnew was on target on at least one charge. ...  Note to Kranish: Do you feel conned? ... P.S.: I don't begrudge Kerry brandy in a walnut-paneled library after a hard day's protesting. It's the dissembling. ...More: Kerry's own Web site  dismisses the Kerry-slept-in-Georgetown charge as an attempt to "smear him with the same unsubstantiated charge the Nixon White House used in 1971." Now not so unsubstantiated ... although I suppose Kerry will now claim he secretly snuck back to the Mall to sleep after the brandies in the library. ...

Update: Robert Sam Anson phones to point out that he doesn't know for certain that Kerry actually slept in the townhouse that night. "I have no idea whether any of those guys slept there." Anson himself slept in a Washington D.C. hotel--he left the townhouse after the brandy-drinking for a date with a Trotskyite! ... P.S.: How likely is it that Kerry didn't sleep at the townhouse? "It seemed comfy for everybody," Anson notes. The library brandy session wasn't early in the evening--it must have been about 10:00 P.M., he reasons, since Kerry picked him up on the Mall after dark. And Kerry told Anson the house's owner "said we could use his 'hooch' for the night." Emphasis on we and night. All signs point to an overnight Kerry stay. Anson told me he was surprised to learn that Kerry had denied the townhouse-sleeping story.  ... More: Anson notes he has no clue one way or another on whether this was the first or only night Kerry had used the townhouse. He also says nobody in the Kerry camp asked him to call me, and I believe him. ... [You fiddled with the lede of this item, didn't you?--ed Yes. Third sentence ("That's the import ...") is new.] 12:29 P.M.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Who won Pennsylvania? Final conventional Quinnipiac Poll  (conducted by human beings): 48-42 Specter lead.  Final Survey USA robo-poll  (conducted by machines): Specter 48, Toomey 48Actual result: Specter 51, Toomey 49.  Advantage: Robo-poll! ...

Survey USA's robo-poll also did wel l predicting the results of the Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio Democratic presidential primaries and the Illinois Dem Senate primary--though they were off in picking the winner of this year's Iowa caucuses. ...

Explanation: Why might robotic polling (which uses a recorded announcer's voice) be more accurate? Kf's Mystery Pollster--who is not associated with Survey USA but is toying with the idea of using robo-polls--gives three reasons:1) They can poll more people more cheaply, creating a larger pool from which to pick only "likely" voters; 2) On some questions, people are less likely to lie to please a machine. In particular, they'll often tell a live human of course they're going to vote (when they're not) because they think voting is what's expected of them; 3) Robo-polling duplicates the impersonal and anonymous nature of voting itself. Often that results in fewer inhibitions about choosing--and a lower "undecided" vote. ... Meanwhile, the key presumed defect of robo-polls--they have a ower response rate because it's easy to hang up on a recording--may not have much of a biasing effect. ... 

P.S.: Robo-polls  nailed the California recall too--an obvious case where people were embarrassed to admit to another human being that they were voting for Schwarzenegger. (In 2004, might Kerry be in Schwarzenegger's position, with people a bit embarrassed to admit they're voting for the pompous French Massachusetts liberal in the middle of a war? In that case, Kerry will do better in the Rasmussen robo-poll--and in the election itself--than in other human-operated polls. Just a thought.)  .. 11:23 P.M.

Panic starts at the fringes: The Village Voice'sJames Ridgeway joins the Dump Kerry movement. Today Ridgeway, tomorrow Broder! ... Or maybe  two days ago  Broder! ...P.S.: The management of kausfiles would like to draw your attention to this eerily prescient item  from March 17 on the "Torch Kerry" option. ... 1:49 P.M.

Has Kerry Fired His Doomsday Weapon? J-Pod's latest column has a lot of truth in it, once you get past the medal discussion:

Kerry has been the presumptive Democratic nominee for two months now. Ask yourself: Aside from fund-raising success, has he had a good day? Has he come up with a winning soundbite? Has he made a policy proposal you've heard people talking about?

Bush has had about as bad a time as he could have had these past two months, and he's not only still standing, but doing better than he was a month ago. And why? Because when he takes center stage, as he did in the press conference last week, he usually helps himself.

Not so for Kerry. To put it mildly.

P.S.: Kerry's raising of Bush's National Guard record (as a defense to ABC News' medals story) seems to be the quasi-nuclear deterrent a now-famous anonymous thuggish Kerry aide had in mind when he (or she!) suggested

"This is not the Dukakis campaign ... We're not going to take it. And if they're going to come at us with stuff, whatever that stuff may be, if it goes to a place where the '88 campaign did, then everything is on the table. Everything." [Emph. added]

Has this threat turned out to be serious or was it the mixture of 'electability' spin and hollow macho bluster it seemed at the time? I tend to agree, again, with El Podito:

Kerry mentioned Bush's National Guard service not once, but twice, during his five minutes with Charlie Gibson. ... [snip]

You don't have to be a Bush fan to think this is spectacularly stupid. The issue isn't Bush or his campaign. The issue is Kerry and a series of statements he made on the record in the media dating back more than 30 years. Trying to change the topic to Bush's service simply smacks of cornered desperation.

Has Kerry unleashed his Doomsday Weapon to little effect? Only time will tell! ... [What's wrong with Pod's medal discussion?-ed He seems to think the issue is whether Kerry actually threw his medals over the wall (or merely his ribbons). I assume Kerry didn't throw his medals, and think the issue is whether he let people think he threw them when really he played it safe by holding on to them.] ...

P.P.S.: At least Kerry's nuclear response doesn't demonstrate he's a bit sensitive on the medals issue, as if there were something there he might be worried about! ... 4:14 A.M.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Fake Kerry-bashing Alert! This site--

--is a fraud! The site's proprietor (Mr. Blevins) doesn't really think Kerry is a "douchebag." He thinks "all of [the evidence tending to confirm the d.b. thesis can] be explained as lies, deception, media excess, or simply poor campaigning strategy." If only it were so. ... Blevins is just pretending to have grasped the full gravity of what Democrats are being asked to do in November. ... P.S.: I don't want to make a big deal of the ups and downs in the Rasmussen poll. But we're approaching the margin of error, no? At what point do Democrats begin to consider that they haven't nominated this guy yet? ... 11:22 P.M.

Flip-Flop, Incoming! Kerry voted for the Patriot Act ... but it contained "restrictions on our basic rights" and needs to be replaced "with a new law" that ends "the assault on our basic rights." ... no, wait it needs to be strengthened! The LAT reports on the Democrats' presumptive nominee adjusting his straddle to fit polls  showing the Patriot Act to be popular. ... P.S.: What's striking about Kerry's December '03 speech is the weaselly way it anticipates this future shift to the right by heaping scorn on the Patriot Act while attempting to avoid an actual explicit attack on the law (as opposed to John Ashcroft's "abuse" of it). To the extent the speech succeeded at this, Kerry has been dissembling and straddling, not flip-flopping. But I don't think the speech completely succeeded. For example, Kerry said

If I'm elected President, we will put an end to "sneak and peak" searches which permit law enforcement to conduct a secret search and seize evidence without notification.

Is that still Kerry's position? 3:05 A.M.

Today's 'Uh-oh, We've Nominated a Turkey' Moment--Special 'Never Say Never Ever' Edition:

From Friday's LAT  ....

Myths of the Medals

Kerry says he never claimed to have thrown the medals as his own. But as his reputation grew as a shrewd political operator after his 1984 senate election, Kerry was dogged by a troubling political myth.

He was accused of discarding his ribbons and the medals of others in 1971 to appear as an antiwar hero, while keeping his own medals for use as political props years later — a charge echoing this election year.

"It's so damn hypocritical to get these awards, throw them in the dirt and then suddenly value them again," said B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran and author who critiques Kerry's antiwar stance.

"I never ever implied that I did it," Kerry says wearily, ... [Emphasis added]

"I gave back, I can't remember, 6, 7, 8, 9 medals," Kerry said in an interview on a Washington, D.C. news program on WRC-TV's called Viewpoints on November 6, 1971, according to a tape obtained by ABCNEWS.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his 11 medals during an anti-war protest in April, 1971.

His campaign Web site calls it a "right wing fiction" and a smear. And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."

But Kerry told a much different story on Viewpoints. Asked about the anti-war veterans who threw their medals away, Kerry said "they decided to give them back to their country."

Kerry was asked if he gave back the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for combat duty as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam. "Well, and above that, [I] gave back the others," he said. ... [snip]

"In a real sense, this administration forced us to return our medals because beyond the perversion of the war, these leaders themselves denied us the integrity those symbols supposedly gave our lives," Kerry said the following day. [Emphasis added]

I'm suspicious about why that "I" is in brackets--ABC apparently plans to show the tape today (Monday)--but it otherwise looks as if Kerry's nailed on this issue. ... Time for a D-D-Bunker-Bunker? [Link via Drudge]... Update: Part of the D-Bunker's been D-leted. Another Kerry page has apparently been altered to remove its now-inconvenient emphasis on the distinction between throwing medals and throwing mere ribbons. ...

P.S.: According to JustOneMinute, Kerry also seems to have let reporters get the impression he wasn't in the Naval Reserves  from 1970-1972, the period of his most intense anti-Vietnam War activity. [But Naval Reserve isn't what most people mean by being 'in the Navy'--ed. Maybe, but why did Kerry's web site boast of his "military service in the United States Naval Reserves from 1972 through 1978" but not his service from 1970-1972? Is it because it would be more awkward if he'd conducted anti-war activities while still in the Reserve? Because Kerry was telling reporters during his 1970 Congressional campaign that he'd already been honorably discharged from the Navy--something that didn't actually happen until 1978?] ...

Synecdoche got the best of me: The issue of course in all the cases above (and the I-never-said-I-was-Irish business and the It's-not-my-SUV business, etc.) is less Kerry's relation to the Navy or his medals than his relation to the truth. ...

P.P.S.: A Slate colleague reminds me that this is exactly the sort of issue that should have been raised and processed by the voters during the primaries, but wasn't due to a) the timidity of the other Democratic candidates; b)Terry McAuliffe's foreshortened schedule; c) the lateness of Kerry's surge; and d) the inane Anybody-But-Bush attitude of the voters that led them to accept the Kerry "electability" meme. Yes, it's the voters fault! [Isn't there usually an ironic Brecht quote at this point, about the need to "dissolve the people and elect another."--ed F--- Brecht! Democracy doesn't mean the voters can't make big mistakes. And if we could dissolve the Democratic primary electorate and elect another ... well, we might not get candidates who pretend they are against the Patriot Act in December (to please Iowa Democrats) and then, when that position proves hopelessly unpopular with the wider electorate, turn around in April and imply that what they really want to do is make the law tougher.]

P.P.P.S.: The average voter must be mystified, however, when confronted suddenly by the fuss over Kerry's medals. Were they medals or ribbons? Did he say they were medals? It sounds like nitpicking. That suggests the potential for a highly effective GOP negative ad explaining the dispute's significance--i.e., that for years, the one thing everyone thought they knew about John Kerry was that he'd dramatically thrown away his medals--a dramatic impression he fed, as the ABC tape proves. Only later did we learn he played it safe by keeping his medals and tossing his ribbons and someone else's medals. He then falsely denied that he'd fed the false impression. ... Plus, according to ABC's Charles Gibson  and Polipundit, Kerry later did try to get a political benefit--with a selected, conservative audience, and on his 2004 Web site--from having retained his medals. ... The issue, again, isn't what he threw over the wall. It's whether or not even in 1971 he was a ... straddling ambitious phony. ... Update: As expected, on NBC Nightly News Monday evening, Kelly O'Donnell's story must have been completely incomprehensible to the average viewer. Medals? Ribbons? What's the fuss about?...  Despite Kerry's charges that Republicans are raising the medals issue, it appears to be a media-driven story. But it looks like it may take Republicans raising the issue to make its significance clear to voters. ... Update (4/29): Kurtz and Balz  say the tape was distributed by the Republicans. ...   1:15 A.M.

Only 12 more to go: Author of #13 (anti-Bush) book reviews #2 (pro-Bush) book.  Shockingly, it's a pan! ....True, Ron Suskind's potential bias is so gross and obvious it can be discounted--but do you trust him to salvage all that might be good or informative in Hughes' book? I don't (and I certainly don't want to have to read the damn thing) ... Coming soon: General Foods' nutritionists review Post Grape Nuts, DaimlerChrysler's Jurgen Schrempp on the new Ford 500, Macy's on Gimbels ... P.S.: Particularly annoying was Suskind's hype of his own Paul O'Neill memoir:

As the message machine that Hughes largely built sputters in the mud of Congressional hearings, tell-all books and inconvenient facts, ...

The Times' message machine, in which all letters are pro-Kerry, sure isn't sputtering. ... P.P.S.: Which is creepier--the possibility that the Timesprints only pro-Kerry letters, or the possibility that it receives only pro-Kerry letters? ... [Thanks to readers S.K and A.E.]

Update: Alert reader B. R. suggests that the explanation is possibility (b), and that the phenomenon is more widespread than I'd thought:

At the little newspaper that employs me up in Redding, Calif., the letters run strongly pro-Kerry and anti-Bush, even though this is emphatically Bush country.  I've been scratching my head over the paradox for a few months.  Among N.Y. Times readers, who as a whole probably do not represent "Bush country," the mail skew sounds unsurprising.

12:16 A.M.



Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  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. Eduwonk--Busting the education "blob." Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk