The Universal Underclass Recipe

The Universal Underclass Recipe

The Universal Underclass Recipe

A mostly political Weblog.
March 1 2005 5:10 PM

Magic Anti-Kerry Solution #2

Plus--Does the press smell and chew gum at the same time?

Magic Anti-Kerry Solution #2? How to get John Kerry off the national stage before he wastes any more of his party's energy? One promising solution, already discussed, is Form 180, which would authorize press access to Kerry's complete military record. Kerry recently told Tim Russert on national TV  that he'd sign it. (Well? ...) ... But what about Kerry's complete Vietnam diaries? As far as I know, he hasn't released them either. He's only given access to publicity-addled historian Douglas Brinkley, who has quoted from them. Democrats who don't want to be Swift-boated again have every reason to demand full press access to the Viet-era diaries. Or do you trust Brinkley to have published the most significant damaging nuggets? ... P.S.: Don't wait for Hillary Clinton to fire off either of these silver bullets. If she's smart, Hillary doesn't want Kerry out of the presidential race. Until January, 2008, he's her best friend--an easily-beatable foil who takes up precious media space that other, more formidable challengers might otherwise make good use of. ... Update:Polipundit offers a turnkey Form 180 graphic solution. ... T.Bevan notes Kerry's weak Imus excuse  (Kerry says he needs to "get it clarified with the military") ... 1:45 A.M.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Alexandra Kerry sucks up to the press (from her diary in the Feb/March BlackBook):

Flew back to Boston for Thanksgiving and found myself sandwiched in the middle seat between a man who had not showered in a month and a gum-popping nubile. It reminded me of the campaign plane. Amazing how little reporters shower and how much gum they chew. [Emph. added]


Hmm. Maybe some of those smelly reporters have a few leftover campaign notes. ... 11:24 P.M.

The Power of Storytelling, Part XVIII! CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" down 22% compared with the same week last year, while the new face of CNN, Anderson Cooper, "failed to make any significant gains" on Fox's Shepard Smith, reports the NYT. It's beginning to look like CNN CEO Jonathan "Pajama" Klein's "storytelling" strategy isn't even a holding action. It's a folding action! ... P.S.: Help! I need new easy targets. Klein may not be around long. ... 10:29 P.M.

The best political commentator I've ever seen was Rick Allen, who covered the 1988 campaign for CNN. Why? He was funny. As with the late, beloved D.C. sportscaster Glenn Brenner, you wanted to watch him even if you weren't that interested in what he was talking about. After the 1988 campaign I didn't see Allen on TV anymore. It seemed inconceivable that CNN wouldn't keep him. What happened? Today I finally googled him. It seems he moved to Bozeman, Montana and has recently  written a book  about "the deadliest campaign of vigilante justice in American history." How could it not be good? (I can see how it wouldn't be funny.) ... Update: I'm told Allen still appears on this Georgia political chat show. ... 3:59 P.M.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


The Matter With Kansas (Dems): From the Lawrence Journal-World account of DNC chair Howard Dean's visit to Kansas:

"This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."

--Howard Dean

"I feel like he could have gone even stronger with his language."

--Katherine Dessert, a student and preschool teacher in the audience.

P.S.: Does Dean now come with such built-in expectations in the Righteous Anti-GOP Fury department that he inevitably fails to meet them, with the result that he is actually unable to rally the hard-core faithful he supposedly had the unique ability to rally? ... [Via Polipundit] Update/Correction: There were two Dean speeches. Dean made the "evil" remark at a closed fundraiser, while Dessert was responding to Dean's speech at a larger, more public event. ... 11:40 P.M.

Welfare + Prejudice = Underclass: Lawrence Mead predicted a decade ago that Europe had yet to face its underclass problem, and he was right. Sunday's NYT piece on middle class Dutch fleeing the Netherlands, which is now 10 percent foreign born, reports:

More than 40 percent of immigrants receive some form of government assistance, a source of resentment among native Dutch. Immigrants say, though, that they are widely discriminated against.


1) Welfare for people who could work plus 2) potential prejudice against a discrete, identifiable group still seems like the universal recipe for an underclass. It was in the U.S.. It is in France. It is in Holland.  I'm sure this equation is facile but I don't see how. ... P.S.: A practical lesson from the U.S. for the Dutch? Of the two preconditions, welfare is probably the easiest to change first (though of course you want to try to change both). End perceived freeloading on welfare--as our 1996 welfare reform at least partially did--and you then have a much better shot at diminishing prejudice. You've attacked one of its "root causes," if you will. (Plus the discriminated-against group is forced out of its isolation and into the labor market.) Attack prejudice without reforming welfare and you wind up accusing a bunch of middle class workers of being racists, with predictably ineffective results. ... Update: Prof. Reynolds reviews the Steyn/Bay debate  over the larger question of Europe's future. ... 11:07 P.M.

kf today, NYT tomorrow: Now that the New York Times has given the NYT-wannabe L.A. Times permission to run a gossip column, maybe they will actually do it. ... P.S.: "Gossip" isn't just about entertainment celebrities, as the NYT's James Verini condescendingly implies. It's about anybody people might want to hear about, including not insignificantly respectable politicians and ordinary people (e.g., Baird Jones) famous for being famous. ... More massive NYT hypocrisy! Come to think of it, where's the New York Times 'gossip column? Don't say "Joyce Wadler." She writes a why-I'm-not-a-gossip-columnist column. ... Note to LATmanaging editor Dean Baquet, who is quoted regarding the possibility of a gossip column:

"We've never been opposed to it. .... They're just hard to do to the standards of a paper like The L.A. Times."

Not hard! 1) Hire Lloyd Grove, 2) give him a desk and a phone, and 3) keep the life-killing mid-level LAT editors away from his copy. Helpful gossip bonus: Grove has a girlfriend out here! He might want to move. ... 2:08 P.M.


Bush is barely a month into his second term and Republicans are already talking last ditch-compromise on Social Security? This would normally be a sign of near-profound weakness (in the GOP position). ... The Republicans may want to win more than they want to lose on this issue, but it still looks like they want to lose quickly more than they want to try to win slowly. ... P.S.: The early compromise talk could be the Feiler Faster Thesis applying itself to the U.S. Congress--with the legislators simply going through what used to be a year's worth of deliberation (including polls, town meetings, op-eds and trial balloons) in a month. The recent class action bill did get done with breathtaking speed. But on Social Security, it's much more likely that the Republicans are just scared. ... Maybe they got scared faster. ... 4:57 A.M.

Now they tell us: Suddenly, with the election over and one of its reporters facing jail for refusing to testify about the Valerie Plame leak, the New York Times  informs us that maybe the leak wasn't a crime  after all:

[A]n even more basic issue has been raised in recent articles in The Washington Post and elsewhere: the real possibility that the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity, while an abuse of power, may not have violated any law.

The MinuteMan pounces, noting that the "possibility" has actually been publicly discussed for years. ... Meanwhile, eager kf staffers have combed NEXIS's database for actual textual examples of the Times previously denouncing the leak as a violation of law. The best they found was a Dec. 31, 2003 editorial hailing the recusal of Attorney General John Ashcroft in the case and declaring, flatly, that the new prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was

charged with finding out who violated federal law by giving the name of the undercover intelligence operative to Mr. Novak for publication in his column. [Emph. add]


So it was a crime to the Times, at least back in December, 2003. ... KfClawback! The truth is, I expected to find more examples of NYT hypocrisy. The paper's editorial board was onto the possibility of press subpoenas early on, however, and mainly printed tortured pronouncements that self-righteously tried to have it both ways--arguing the Plame leak was a grave, grave "wrong" requiring big-deal prosecutorial inquiry of the Bush White House but not quite saying that it was a crime. The December, 2003 editorial appears to have been a holiday-season lapse in which the paper accidentally took a clear position. ... Update: Taranto has a full-dress review of NYT Plamethrowing, including op-ed columnists. ... 3:49 A.M.

$30,000-$50,000 to hear Zbigniew Brzezinski?  I'm guessing he offers rebates and zero percent financing. ... 2:31 A.M.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Endism vs. Trendism: The formal analytic framework. ... 1:47 P.M.

According to Jim Geraghty's notes, Newt Gingrich is calling for the dismissal of "anti-American" professors:

We ought to say to campuses, it's over…We should say to state legislatures, why are you making us pay for this? Boards of regents are artificial constructs of state law. Tenure is an artificial social construct. Tenure did not exist before the twentieth century, and we had free speech before then. You could introduce a bill that says, proof that you're anti-American is grounds for dismissal. [Emph. added]

This is the sort of provocative, popular, excitedly half-thought idea you'd say if you were Newt Gingrich or if you had a book to promote. If you are Newt Gingrich and you have a book  to promote ... well, Katy bar the door! It's overdetermined. ... If the case for giving tenure to college professors was weakening before, it just got stronger, Gingrich having provided a living, breathing contemporary example of what the system was designed to protect against. ... P.S.: A sedate blogstorm is unrolling in the tenured precincts of the Web--see Prof. Reynolds and Prof. Volokh. ... P.P.S.: Can we trust Geraghty's notes? He's Rony Abovitz  in this controversy. Let's see the videotape! Or was Gingrich's talk under the Chatham Rules? ... P.P.P.S.: Volokh argues that the First Amendment protects public employees, including professors, from being fired for anti-American statements. While he's undoubtedly right that this is what the Supreme Court has ruled, that line of cases has always seemed misguided to me. I'm for political patronage--you should constitutionally be able to fire government employees because they're Republicans.  If that's true you should certainly be able to fire them because they are vicious America-haters or bigots. Tenure--or some other non-constitutional protection--seems like a better way to carve out a sphere of free inquiry at schools and colleges. ...12:40 P.M.

Who killed Lebanon's Hariri? Cole vs. Geraghty: Jim Geraghty misstates Juan Cole's position--Cole mainly put forward the idea, immediately after the assassination, that it was  "a spill-over into the Levant of the recent al-Qaeda-linked terrorism in Saudi Arabia." The theory that it was "a mafia-type business dispute" was mentioned by Cole only as a longshot possibility and dismissed in a second Cole post. ... But Geraghty  has gathered the evidence pointing to Syria, and it does look bad for Cole's initial speculation. You make the call. ... 2:15 A.M.

Edited-to-Fit? The WSJ tries to argue  that White House press briefings now attract "more fringe journalists seeking a forum to voice their points of view." This thesis is hung on a single, not-quite-on-point Joe Lockhart quote (Lockhart says only the briefings have become "a show," not that there are more fringe journalists attending this show.)  The Journal's actual reporting suggests the opposite--that there have always been kooks, weirdos, eccentrics and partisans hanging around the White House briefing room, that it was never (contrary to the Journal's suggestion) a "clubby preserve of big-name newspapers and networks." Democracy is messy! Let's keep it that way. ... 1:16 A.M.

Someone else for Susan Estrich to talk  about suing! ... 12:38 P.M.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

That phrase again: From Josh Levin

Blogging is a circle jerk that never stops circling: links to posts by other bloggers, following links to newspaper stories about bloggers, following wonderment at the corruptions and complacency of old-fashioned, credentialed journalism.

One more and it will be a trend. Please, no. ... 2:52 P.M.

Slate's early-moving version of the idea every editor in America has now had  ('Hey, let's assign someone to cover what those bloggers are talking about!') is up, and it's good! ... The "Today's Blog" authors will now be bombarded with unsolicited post-promoting emails. Free advice: Resist the temptation to just write the column off the emails and spend the rest of the day in the park. Unless it's a sunny day or something like that. ...  2:35 P.M.

Nudity doesn't make money for Hollywood, says Edward Jay Epstein.  ... Even on DVDs. ... Does this mean there's a Marxist economic subtext to the FCC's crackdown and the backlash against Janet Jackson? ... "It is no accident!" ... But doesn't it also undermine the now-familiar  left-wing argument that all the sexual imagery around us is the product of corporate merchandising, not liberal morality? ... 2:29 A.M.

Deterrence Fails: Secret Bush taperDoug Wead seemingly folds his hand:

Contrary to a statement that I made to the New York Times, I have come to realize that personal relationships are more important than history. I am asking my attorney to direct any future proceeds from the book to charity and to find the best way to vet these tapes and get them back to the president to whom they belong. History can wait.

That's impressively quick action by the Bushies. If only their attempts at disarming Iran and North Korea were equally effective. But I don't understand how they did it. Wead seemingly had a golden road of publishing success ahead of him as he slowly released his trove of embarrassing tapes. What dissuaded him? Are they holding his family? It seems unlike the Bushies to offer a positive incentive, in the form of a job or money. And Wead must know they'll never trust him. ... One theory: He was bluffing. He never had much of anything on those tapes. ... P.S.: Well informed Bush-watchers should feel free to submit other explanations. Bonus for the first blogger to blame Jeff Gannon. ... Update: The NYT's Kirkpatrick implicitly offers two explanations. 1) Evangelical speaking opportunites; 2) Shame. ... 2:05 A.M.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mickey's Tour de la Droite: Tim Blair's stupid Rove-as-Evil-Genius fantasy  is actually ... funny! ... Meanwhile, David Ignatius and Jim Geraghty  do the White House's work for it, coming up with a Walid Jumblatt quote that Rove wouldn't dare to ghostwrite because it's too perfect. ... Someone check if  Jeff Gannon has been in Lebanon recently. ... P.S.: Ignatius' WaPo column is actually even more powerful than Geraghty makes it out to be. Ignatius a) is normally a worldly realist, not a wild idealist and b) covered Lebanon as Middle East correspondent of the WSJ (and wrote a novel from the experience). ... 12:40 P.M.

Autoblog scoop: New Mazda Miata. Cribbed from German site Auto Bild.* Too bad about those wheel arches. They're not even trying to be ironic. They're trying to be iconic! ... I hate it when the world's best carmakers try to carve out an original, uniquely Japanese aesthetic. ... Instant CW: Excessive Ibukitude. ...[Thanks to reader J.H.] ...*Favorite headline: "Saab, ich drück Dich!" You can say that again. ...  1:31 A.M.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"Dear John--We're Just Not That Into You" Watch: Loyal Dem Josh Marshall is running an ad for "Support Kerry '08" wrist bracelets  on his site--a cunning attempt to enfeeble the non-stopping Kerry campaign by inducing  "armband fatigue."   [Thanks to reader S.K.12:55 P.M.

"Gannon attended White House Christmas parties -- but who invited him?" It's come to this on the left. ... P.S.: Don't hundreds of people get invited to White House Christmas parties? ... I mean, Wonkette was there! Who invited her? ... P.P.S.: The MinuteMan calmly and methodically adduces the reasons why Gannongate doesn't  have the "the makings of an old-fashioned, months-long, television-friendly Washington scandal," as Rick Hertzberg would have it. ... Meanwhile, David Corn has answered the best point  raised by Hertzberg--the claim that Gannon helped press secretary Scott McClellan avoid answering tough questions:

At the White House daily briefings, most of the journalists present tend to be called upon by McClellan. This is different from what happens at press conferences with Bush. During the briefings, reporters are able to ask multiple questions and return to issues after McClellan has not answered their queries and moved on to other journalists. It's not a one-shot deal. So Gannon/Guckert was not much help to the McClellan at these briefings. If he asked McClellan an easy question, that would not change the course of the entire briefing and save McClellan from other reporters. [Emph. added]

If Gannon hadn't been there, what do the Gannonballers imagine would have happened? That McClellan would have broken down under the uninterrupted barrage of gotcha questions like the final witness on Perry Mason? ("I can't take it any more! You're right. We lied about the weapons of mass destruction! OK? We lied about the Medicare costs! We just did it to please Halliburton and the drug companies! It's all their fault! Their fault! [Falls to his knees, shoulders convulsed with sobs.] It seemed like such a good plan.") Does anything like that, even on a small scale, ever happen? ... Aside from that slim possibility, why would the Bushies need Gannon when they've got Fox? ... [But you've got to admit, it's a good story--ed. Sure. Ann Coulter and Ron Silver is a good story too! But I wouldn't expect Congressional hearings.] ... Bonus trivia point: Corn wrote a thriller in which the President gets shot at a briefing by a ringer with a press pass. He's presumably sensitive to the dangers of loose credentialing. ... 11:59 A.M.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Beyond Pajamas: NYT's Bill Keller comes down with the Columbia anti-blogging disease:

"A blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole," he said, noting that it can sometimes fall as low as being a "one man circle jerk."

That's too much gay bathhouse imagery for me to deal with right now. ... Take it away, Wonkette. ... 2:20 P.M.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The treachery is that Doug Wead waited until after the election:

"I don't want some little kid doing what I tried ...."

"The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check. ... "

"I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays. ... "

[When told that a supporter was saying he'd promised to not hire gays] "No what I said was I wouldn't fire gays. ... "

"I am going to tell the truth and do the right thing, dammit, without fear or favor, with malice toward none and charity toward all--and if my political advisers tell me that will cost me power and fame, so be it!"

OK, that last one was made up. But another round of explosive front-page revelations from secretly recorded phone conversations like today's and Bush's approval will hit 70 percent. ... 

Update: Wait, he's got a bomb! But note Wead's self-defense in Monday's WaPo:

Asked whether Bush would view the actions as an act of treachery from a trusted friend, Wead said, "It depends on what else is on the tapes. . . . Ninety percent of the tapes have not been heard. He can see that my motive was not to try to hurt him.

"If I released all the tapes, it would be an act of betrayal," Wead said. "Most of them have never seen the light of day and never will." [Emph. added]

Translation: 'Don't mess with me. I have the goods.' ... This intimation of a trove of more damaging tapes is a threefer for Wead: 1) He lays the groundwork for a second book--maybe a series of books, a whole publishing career (an imprint!) as he decides, now that he's thought about it, that you know more and more of the tapes really are of immediate historical interest and deserve to be on the record; 2) He deters the Bushies who might want to go all out to destroy him; and 3) In the meantime he gets points for his deep, high-minded Christian loyalty to the President! .... Even if Wead is bluffing and has nothing it's a twofer--he still gets advantages #2 and #3. ... Wasn't that Saddam's strategy? ... P.S.: Wead is exploiting the obvious weakness in the traditional Bush clan "screw us once and you're through" discipline-enforcement plan. That plan only makes sense if it doesn't encourage those guilty of minor disloyalty to commit major disloyalty (on "might as well be hung for a sheep" grounds). ... Bill Clinton's alternative "screw me once and you're my new best friend" approach had its game-theoretic advantages. ... 11:42 P.M. 

Where's my $820,000? 10:15 P.M.

You think they're going to tip off Dana Milbank? Atrusted kf Bushie source says: "[G]et ready for privacy issues to jump higher on the administration's list of concerns. " ... Even if the Bush initiative succeeds, we'll always have Paris. ... 8:43 P.M.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The 180 Solution: Has John Kerry signed his Form 180--allowing journalists full access to his military records--yet? He told Tim Russert he would! ..."Yes, I will." ... Not much wiggle room there (though Kerry then seemed to ineptly try to craft an 'only-if-everyone-else-signs-theirs' loophole). ... Maybe Form 180 is the magic answer to the how-to-get-him-to-go-away dilemma. Something Democrats could unite around! ... Update: Don Burton suggests sending Kerry pens  to sign it with. ... 5:01 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. 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. 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--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk