How much does the rest of the country dislike New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer? In today's N.Y. Times Schumer welcomes the appointment of former N.Y.P.D. chief Bernard Kerik as head of Homeland Security:
New York should always be the focal point of homeland security activities, and Bernie Kerik is a tried and true New Yorker who understands our city, our state, our problems and our needs. We look forward to working with him to bring greater help in terms of dollars and security for New York. [Emphasis added]
Not "a" focal point. "The" focal point. Sorry, D.C.! ... And forget what Kerik can do for the entire country--he'll bring dollars to New York! . ... P.S.: I remember seeing Schumer on TV shortly after 9/11, when everyone was on New York's side, and his first comment was to insist that it wasn't enough that New York City get the same amount of aid that another part of the country would get in a similar disaster--New York, as a national hub of business, demanded more than other regions would get! ... You get the feeling that if we captured Osama bin Laden, won the Iraq War, and peacefully brought democracy to North Korea Schumer would put out a statement applauding the victories because now more federal dollars could be redirected to Manhattan. ... P.P.S.: Here's a entertainingly nasty column about Kerik. He may actually be a hero, for all I know--but you wouldn't automatically think that someone whose most recent high-profile assignment was training the Iraqi police force would be first in line for a promotion. ... The Washington Post is skeptical too, featuring a rare vicious first-day blind quote:
A high-ranking business executive who is familiar with Kerik's tenure as police commissioner and as head trainer of Iraqi police recruits expressed shock at his selection, and said Kerik is not an accomplished manager. "Management just simply isn't his strong suit," the executive said.
But hey, if it means more money for New York ... Update: Here's a City Journal article arguing that Kerik turned around New York City's Department of Corrections. ... 12:55 P.M.
Thursday, December 2, 2004
What do lower courts know! A federal District Court judge in Virginia has dismissed Dr. Steven Hatfill's libel suit against the New York Times over Nicholas Kristof's columns on the anthrax mailings of 2001. Kristof crows a bit about the decision on his blog, calling it an "excellent" ruling that is "a victory for the right of journalists to write aggressively about issues of national concern." A Times lawyer declares "This comes out in favor of our right to report accurately on an investigation that is still active, pre-arrest."
Well, of course the Times can report accurately about anything without fear of a libel judgment. Truth is a defense. The problem is that Hatfill alleges that some things Kristof said were "untruths," as the court put it. And the part of the district court decision I don't understand--it seems quite bogus--is the part where the judge throws out Hatfill's libel complaint about these alleged "discrete untruths" (like the one regarding how many polygraph exams Hatfill had taken and what the results were). Sure, Kristof can't be sued simply for reporting on an investigation, and he covered his ass enough in his columns to avoid the conclusion that he was saying Hatfill was the anthrax mailer. But does that mean he can say any old untrue thing about Hatfill along the way? For example, how exactly did the judge conclude that saying Hatfill had "failed 3 successive polygraph examinations" was "not harmful to [Hatfill's] reputation"? Wouldn't that harm anyone's reputation?** ...
Maybe I'm missing something, but if I were Kristof, I wouldn't crow too loudly. Lower court decisions are made to be reversed. ...
** Boilerplate: I'm not saying that what Kristof wrote is true or is not true. I have no knowledge or opinion about that issue. But to throw Hatfill's complaint out before a trial, the judge had to find that even if what Kristof wrote was untrue, it wasn't defamatory. That's the unpersuasive part. ... 1:50 P.M. link
Socialism-In-One-State Update: The proposed employer-mandate for health insurance (Prop. 72) failed in California after an error in the official count was corrected. 11:25 A.M.
Speak Kindly of the Dead: A timely reminder that, in the months immediately following 9/11, Dan Rather's was the least annoying newscast to watch--he was fine, because he "felt 9/11 down to his bones," he was at heart patriotic and not cynical, and it showed. His old, ultimately fatal anti-Bush macho grudge only resurfaced later. ... 2:09 A.M.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
That's Homage to you, Pardner: I'm not saying Neil Young should call his lawyer, but doesn't the annoying Big & Rich's tedious single, "Holy Water," sound a whole lot like Young's "After the Gold Rush"? ... Here's Big & Rich. ... Here's Neil. ... You, the listener, make the call! ... 11:50 P.M.
Some Don't Like It Hout: Kevin Drum has an easy-to-comprehend critique of that touted Michael Hout "Berkeley" paper suggesting finagling with the Florida electronic vote. Worth clicking for the killer graph alone. P.S.:Mystery Pollster gives good link should you still care about Hout after reading Drum. ... P.P.S.:RottenDenmark has plenty of other recount news, including the latest on the Ohio provisional ballot tally. (Kerry's so far gained about 5,000 on Bush with only 10-20,000 ballots left to count--much less of a Kerry pick-up than Denmark had hoped for). Update: Total gain for Kerry in the Ohio provisional ballots was about 18,000, leaving a Bush margin of about 118,000--which RD concedes is "a big number" to overcome in a recount. Advantage: Dirty Harry. ... 10:06 P.M.
Geoghegan Call Your Office: Two weeks ago I sniped at Tom Geoghegan's proposed left strategy [ $ ] of putting concrete government benefits on the ballot in blue states, pointing out that California's Prop. 72--mandating health benefits in medium and large companies--had gone down to defeat. Not so fast! Prop. 72 may have pulled it out in the late-counted ballots. The California secretary of state posted results to that effect, then withdrew them. We're on tenterhooks out here! . .. P.S.: The L.A. Times ran the Prop. 72 comeback story in the B section, with a little tease in a box on the A section front. More evidence that the Times's editors still don't know a front-page story when they see it. They must think they're competing with the New York Times and need to front all the big global stories on Ukraine, intel reform, Chinese mine explosions, etc. But the LAT's value to upscale Southern California readers who already get the NYT would be precisely in coverage of more local stories the big East Coast papers won't carry, including crime stories. Duh! ... P.P.S.: This may explain why the LAT has gotten oddly less compelling as it has become a much better paper under its new Chicago Tribune management. It used to at least be entertainingly, uniquely bad. Now it's just a 90-percent-as-good New York Times or WaPo. ... P.P.P.S.: I still resist bringing the thing into the house. It's what you should never be in California--namely fat. Too much newsprint to recycle! They should pay me to read all those ads. ... P.P.P.P.S.: As long as I was in the LAT B-section, I aimlessly leafed through its back pages just to see what they had in them. It turns out they have a whole editorial page back there, with op-eds and everything! Who knew? ... Update: Never mind! Prop. 72 ultimately failed, with 49.1 percent of the vote. The contrary results reported yesterday by the secretary of state were the result of a reporting error by San Diego County. [So it wasn't a front page story after all--ed I disagree. You report the wacky official results on Wednesday. You report that the official results were wrong on Thursday. Fun, fun, fun. It's a daily newspaper, not a history textbook.] 9:48 P.M.
Hispanic Hype Deflation Week: Anti-amnesty pundits (mainly conservatives who fear Republicans will pander to Latinos) and anti-gloom Democrats have joined forces in a formidable campaign to deflate those startling exit poll numbers-- the ones showing Bush winning 44% of the Hispanic vote (up from 35% in 2000). Michelle Malkin and Ruy Teixeira, together again! ... Now the big Mitofsky/Edison NEP exit poll has issued a correction for Texas--Bush didn't get 59% of the Hispanic vote as originally reported. He got 49% percent. Hey, what's 10% among friends? Plus Hispanics were only 20 percent of the Texas electorate, not 23%. ... The Texas revisions by themselves would cut that 44% national figure down. But Teixeira and anti-amnesty writer Steve Sailer (here and here) argue that the NEP's results in other states are also highly suspect. To its credit, the National Council of La Raza seems to agree, arguing that the 44% NEP estimate is "at the extreme end of plausibility." Everyone gives 39% as a better estimate. That's still an improvement over 35%, but not quite the same "sea change"-signifying number. ... P.S.: Mitofsky's NEP has now been recalled for defects more often than a Porsche Cayenne! If it were a car, Joan Claybrook would be demanding that it be taken off the market. Must be the bloggers' fault! ... P.P.S.: Will a generation of academic poli sci scholarship now be based on this seeming pile of junk? ... [Thanks to reader K.] Update: Oy! The numbers of Hoy!, said to be the nation's fastest-growing Hispanic daily paper, turn out to have been wildly inflated too! ... "The original reports claimed 7,752 home-delivery subscribers on weekdays, but auditors slashed that number to 1,722 ...." That's late-90s dot-com-level bullsh---ing! ... Update: Mystery Pollster suggests "a national correction is coming [from NEP] as well," and explains one possible source of Hispanic-vote error. ... 12:59 P.M.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Matt Feeney's otherwise magisterial analysis of the l'oeuvre de Bruckheimer omits one post-action action-packed Bruckheimer product, Black Hawk Down. In retrospect, despite its flaws, Black Hawk was a highly effective movie, providing a reasonably realistic idea of what modern urban combat is like for the U.S. Army. Essential viewing for all concerned Americans! (Even fifth-grade civics classes ...) 10:48 P.M.
End immigration as we know it! Alert kf reader M emails to note that there is one national Democrat making a move to take advantage of the obvious, yawning opportunity to get to Bush's right on immigration the way Bill Clinton got to Bush's father's right on welfare. Coincidentally, her name is Clinton too! ... Here are some recent Hillary quotes collected by NewsMax:
"I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants." ...
"Clearly, we have to make some tough decisions as a country, and one of them ought to be coming up with a much better entry and exit system so that if we're going to let people in for the work that otherwise would not be done, let's have a system that keeps track of them."
[Sen. Clinton said she favored] "at least a visa ID, some kind of an entry and exit ID. And, you know, perhaps, although I'm not a big fan of it, we might have to move towards an ID system even for citizens."
"People have to stop employing illegal immigrants. ... I mean, come up to Westchester, go to Suffolk and Nassau counties, stand on the street corners in Brooklyn or the Bronx; you're going to see loads of people waiting to get picked up to go do yard work and construction work and domestic work."
Note that this goes well beyond hack Dem grumbling about funding for "first responders" at the border. ... P.S.: If Hillary's attacked by Hispanic groups for these sentiments so much the better for her! Her husband had an unformed, fuzzy image when he ran--he could show his heartening anti-liberal streak by dissing an out-of-line rap singer. Hillary, in contrast, has a hard, fixed liberal image--and probably needs to crack it with a high profile, revelatory fight against someone or something on the left more powerful than Sister Souljah. How about LULAC? ... 10:04 P.M.
Monday, November 29, 2004
For motorists in West L.A. who get sick of the chloroformed, breathy pop promoted by local NPR outlet KCRW's life-sapping Nic Harcourt, a better bet is KXLU, the Loyola Marymount college station. On Friday nights, a KXLU show (Demolisten) broadcasts unreleased demo tapes and bizarrely (or maybe not so bizarrely, given that this is the cream of a very large crop) they're often great. Two of the best demos I've heard over the years have been witty tunes from a group called Inflight Movie. I've been able to find out nothing about these people. (They're tough to google.) If you know anything about Inflight Movie, or if you are Inflight Movie, please email me. ... Update: OK, here they are. Now if I could get the music to play. ... P.S.: The other big Demolisten find is The Temporary Thing. ... 8:50 P.M.
Have I mentioned that (as an aide to a senior GOP Congressional leader recently reminded me) the great, yawningly obvious political opportunity for an ambitious Democrat is to get to Bush's right on immigration the way Bill Clinton got to Bush's father's right on welfare? It wouldn't be hard. [Won't that cost the Democratic Party its future by losing the burgeoning Hispanic vote for a generation?--ed By that time (if it happens) our Dem immigration opportunist will have served two terms.] 7:57 P.M.
kf is Stupid III: I don't understand the debate about whether the 2004 election constituted a "realignment"--in which case, we're told, Democrats need "radical changes in ... electoral strategies, and even issue positions ... to become competitive again." Democrats lost the presidency by three percentage points. That means they need to make enough changes to convince half of 3.1 percent of the electorate to vote for them next time. If they'd lost by 6 points they'd need to win back half of 6.1 percent. Duh! It's a matter of degree and the degree has been fairly precisely measured.
Talk of "realignment" might still seemingly make sense under any one of three conditions: 1) The existence of a large, committed voting block that simply can't be won over by the opposing party--e.g. the Democratic South for decades after the Civil War; 2) The existence of interest groups or inflexible ideological principles that prevent a losing party from modifying its appeal in order to win over more voters--e.g. powerful unions that will never endorse free trade even if it's in the national interest; or 3) the arrival of a candidate or office-holder so fantastically popular (or so fantastically unpopular) that he or she boosts or sinks his party for decades.
None of these conditions prevails today.1) The great emerging voting block is Hispanics, who are uncommitted swing voters; 2) The Democrats' rigidifying interest groups--unions, African-Americans--are declining in influence (rapidly, in the case of the unions). And do we really think gay marriage has, overnight, somehow become an inviolable bedrock Democratic principle?
I doubt condition 3) has ever obtained. FDR would be the most obvious case of an overwhelmingly popular pol--but within two terms the opposing party held his office. Nor has Bush been governing like someone who wants 60% popularity. (He's been governing like someone who wants to leverage his tiny margin into some big, controversial changes.)
This was a close election! The prospect is for more close elections, as the Democrats adjust in their attempt to regain a majority. I can't see a reason why, at the presidential level, it's not still 50-50 forever. ... P.S.: I'm in reluctant agreement here with Ruy Teixeira, who should really retire quietly after the load of shameless, cocooning B.S. he shoveled out on his website during the campaign. For embarrassing examples, scan these October, 2004 Donkey Rising entries. ... P.P.S.: I'd like the Democrats to make "radical changes" in their "issues positions" (on affirmative action and school choice, for starters). But that doesn't mean those changes are somehow required for victory after 2004. It's a fallacy (specifically what Michael Kinsley calls the Howell Raines Fallacy) to assume that whatever policy changes you want are of course demanded by the great and good American people. ...
Update:Newsweek's Howard Fineman describes Karl Rove's plans "to design a legislative and philosophical agenda that will lead to further GOP gains, and beyond that to a political dominance that could last for decades, as FDR's New Deal did." It's not an especially plausible scenario. Does Fineman think Democrats won't be "willing to use big government in the service of markets and morality"? Democrats will stand with trial lawyers to fight "a national cap on damage awards" even if it means going over the cliff with them? Rove might move the country to the right. But it's not clear that the sort of realignment he talks about happens anymore. ... 5:09 P.M.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
kf is Stupid II: I still don't understand why it's a good idea to centralize intelligence under a single czar. If the problem with pre-Iraq intelligence was the tendency to tell the Administration what it wanted to hear, won't narrowing the information funnel maximize the chances of that happening again? Won't it be easier to "politicize" a single "National Intelligence Director"? What we want is a multiplicity of perspectives and an error-revealing debate, no? Rich Lowry's op-ed in Friday's N.Y. Post predicts:
if the bill passes and if--God forbid--there's another major terror attack a few years hence, the complaint will immediately go up that U.S. intelligence is "too centralized."
Are Democrats so wedded to the 9/11-Commission and the 9/11 families that they don't see this? During the election season, the 9/11 families were a media-compatible vehicle for criticizing the Bush administration. But the election is over. Democrats should be able to take a fresh look. 11:53 P.M.
Lucrative Canadian Initiative: Generous tax-financed government benefits are usually seen as a way to encourage potential employers to locate elsewhere. But here's a paragraph buried in Danny Hakim's NYT piece reporting that Ontario, Canada, has at least temporarily passed Michigan in terms of auto production:
Canada is attractive, in part, because of its nationalized health care system, which negates perhaps the largest competitive burden faced by domestic manufacturers. G.M. spends roughly $1,400 a vehicle produced in the United States on health care, more than it spends on steel.
Is non-socialism in one country viable, when it comes to health care? ... 3:45 P.M.
Sitting Ducks 'R Us? On Saturday, the release of some pepper spray "from the type of canister people sometimes carry on key chains for self-defense" caused the closure of "a five-block swath" of Times Square in New York City.... Obvious lesson: We are so much more vulnerable to an attack--in terms of casualties, and economic damage-- than we're pretending. ... P.S.: The scary immediate possibility, for NYC security officials, is that this was a dress-rehearsal experiment by actual terrorists to see if a potentially lethal agent could be spread efficiently in the elevator bank of a crowded department store. If so, the experiment would seem to have been a success (from the terrorists' point of view). 3:39 P.M.
Broder's Plea: Bring Us Together for CDBG's Sake! Does David Broder really believe that Community Development Block Grants--cut recently by the GOP Congress--are an "essential program"? He approvingly quotes Sen. Mikulski to that effect, and identifies the $200 million cut as one of the most profound "real-world consequences" of the recent election. ...P.S.: CDBG's are a slush fund for mayors and Congressman. They're used to help favored developers build ugly downtown hotels and dumb tourist attractions, and to shore up bankrupt city finances. If that's what Democratic "blue-dot" politicians stand for, no wonder the party's in trouble. ... P.P.S.: When Broder says that the effects of "the division between the red and blue Americas" can "be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal spending," it's like the scene in Austin Powers when Dr. Evil, thawed out after having been frozen for decades, decides to blackmail the world with a nuclear weapon and demands "one million dollars" from the world's leaders. The world's leaders break out laughing. ... The federal budget is 2.32 trillion dollars. Take away "hundreds of millions of dollars"--or add "hundreds of millions of dollars"--and the budget is still 2.32 trillion dollars. "Hundreds of millions of dollars" is not a sum, spread out across the nation, that is going to effect many people's lives one way or another. Somebody thaw out Broder. ... 12:22 A.M.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
The Hamlet of RottenDenmark says the Kerry campaign is more involved in the Ohio recount than I'd suspected:
While they're avoiding anything looking like they themselves are requesting a recount, the Kerry Edwards campaign has started raising funds specifically for legal costs and recount costs on their website.
That's the lede in Denmark's handy, non-irresponsible summary of the state of recount play. Hamlet admits the New Hampshire hand count has so far revealed no Diebold shenanigans (worth finding out!) and that complaints about Dem Florida counties voting for Bush were "debunked easily when those Dixiecrat counties were also shown to have supported Dole in '96 and Bush in '00." Having thus built up his credibility, he uses it to tout Hout. ... 12:55 A.M.
Friday, November 26, 2004
One, Two, Many Bo Ke: Ever wonder how the Chinese government has been able to block blogs, with all their subversive information-spreading potential? The answer is it hasn't, despite the Great Firewall. Or at least it hasn't yet figured out how. I'm not completely confident that it won't succeed, at least in the medium term. But Xiao Qiang thinks, "There are simply too many blogs for authorities to block them all." ... P.S.: And there's always e-mail, right? [Via Instapundit] 10:50 P.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--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left. 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--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. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk