Buller ... Buller ... Buller ...: I'm sure evolutionary psychology has problems--explain homosexuality again, please!--and David J. Buller's Adapting Minds may be the great anti-Darwinian book the dialectic calls for. But Sharon Begley's wildly unconvincingWSJ rave [$] doesn't make it seem as if that's the case. For example, Begley writes:
The argument that Stone Age women preferred good providers, and that today's women are therefore wired to see a big bankroll as the ultimate aphrodisiac, is also shaky. Among some hunter-gatherers today, young mothers receive more food from their mothers than from their husbands. That makes even the theoretical basis for the claim -- that women who sought good providers had an evolutionary edge -- problematic.
But even if young mothers receive lots and lots of food from their mothers, that doesn't mean women with both mothers and husbands who are good providers don't have an evolutionary edge over women with only mothers to feed them. The evolutionary psychologists' claim may not be true, but Begley's factoid doesn't come close to undermining its theoretical basis. ... Begley throws up a similarly weak argument against the claim that "rape gave our male ancestors a reproductive edge." Why are there more men who don't rape than men who do, she asks--as if all inherited traits must be majority traits, as if evolution can't bequeath men impulses they don't act on. ... To paraphrase Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune: She has no idea. ... 11:07 P.M.
Harmonic convergence of kf villains: CNN's Jonathan Klein has embraced the David Shaw-like position that the established press should decide who gets to be a journalist and who doesn't. If that's not what Klein meant in his recent speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, then it was a contentless litany of cheap self-serving applause lines (as opposed to a meaningful litany of cheap self-serving applause lines). Sample:
Fourth: we need to police ourselves, to set clear standards of behavior and ethics for those who would call themselves journalists. When the Jeff Gannon bomb exploded in the White House press room, where was the White House Correspondents Association? Their board proudly voted to stay out of the fray, to remain out of the business of credentialing members of the White House press corps. They say that's the job of the White House. The White House is quick to say it's not their job to decide who's a reporter. And they're right. It's our job.
And Washingtonian reports:
"Some body—as in the correspondents' association—ought to vet the purported correspondents who proclaim to be reporters," says Klein, referring to Jeff Gannon, who was credentialed to cover the White House but turned out to be a quasi-reporter at best.
Decision '08 has an idea: How about we start by throwing out any network executive who thinks the Runaway Bride story merits extended, near-continuouscoverage. Standards! ... P.S.: Klein's pompous Self-Serving N.A.B. Point #3 was "cover what matters." ... P.P.S.: Klein also said he wants to "deliver useful information and hard facts instead of opinion or entertainment." [He's wrong about that?--ed Yes. Opinion and debate can be highly informative. But the point isn't that he's wrong. The point is that he's a Darwinian climber who will switch to "opinion and entertainment" in an instant if his current righteous "hard facts" schtick--assuming it's ever been more than a time-buying tactic--doesn't boost CNN's numbers. He's given himself a year to show "consistent ratings growth"-ed. Generous of him!] 10:00 P.M.
Some Middle Ground Isn't: It might make sense, as Instapundit and others suggest, to require that Senate filibusterers really filibuster, with allnighters, cots and potlikker recipes, etc.. But it is a non-solution to the problem confronting the Senate today--which is whether a minority should be able to block a Supreme Court nominee supported by a majority (but less than 60%). It's true, as Instapundit notes, that the "real filibuster" requirement would
ensure that the filibuster-nuke is dropped only when the stakes are high enough that the minority is willing to pay a price.
But a Supreme Court nomination is just such a case. Democrats would clearly be willing to undertake a "real" filibuster to block Janice Rogers Brown, for example. So we're still presented with the question: Should they be able to do that? Allow "real" filibusters and the Democrats win (as I think they should). ...
Update: Alert reader J.H.B. adds that a) Democratic senators who wanted to be president (approximately 44 out of the current 44) would actually be competing to pull allnighters in order to impress the primary electorate; and b) they wouldn't have to read recipes anymore--they could read blogs! "Endless hours of pre-written, on-point, arguments ...."
Update 2:Instapundit responds: "Allowing 'real' filibusters means that you'll get a vote someday -- not even Ted Kennedy and John Kerry can talk forever." I wouldn't be so sure. Filibusters have been quite effective at preventing votes--in a real filibuster the Senate is blocked from undertaking other business, which arguably strengthens the filibusterer's hand. From the official history of filibusters on the Senate Web site:
Despite the new  cloture rule, however, filibusters continued to be an effective means to block legislation, due in part to the fact that a two-thirds majority vote is difficult to obtain. Over the next several decades, the Senate tried numerous times to evoke cloture, but failed to gain the necessary two-thirds vote. Filibusters were particularly useful to southern senators blocking civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s.
In fact, "real" filibustering effectively delayed passage of civil rights laws for decades, and the tactic didn't finally fail because Senators couldn't keep talking forever. It failed because in 1964 there were finally enough votes among the non-filibustering senators to shut the talking down. Those pro-cloture votes are precisely what the Republicans don't now have. ...
P.S.: Could a filibuster stop a Supreme Court nominee? You'd have to ask Chief Justice Fortas that one. ...
P.P.S.: Yes, with a "real" Senate-freezing filibuster public opinion could come into play in a bigger way than with a modern, fake "two-track" filibuster. And it's possible, as Instapundit notes, that if the Dems shut down the Senate by filibustering Janice Rogers Brown they'd become so unpopular (like Gingrich in the 1995 shutdown) that they'd start to worry about getting clobbered in the mid-term elections. But--barring a fit of Gingrichesque immaturity on their part--it seems far more likely that Brown would go down. Most Democrats would remain popular with their constituencies (e.g. Kennedy's Mass. voters) after all, and pressure would probably mount on Bush to pick someone more "mainstream." Certainly there would be no assurance of an eventual up-or-down vote. Plus, the need to decisively win the mid-filibuster popular-opinion contest would in itself limit the range of choices Bush could make. ...
Revised kf position: A "real filibuster" requirement is a legitimate middle ground of sorts, in that it might open the way for some nominations--mainly those wildly popular with the public, but not with the filibusterers--that the status quo (fake filibusters) would not allow. But it's not in the middle of the middle ground! It's 90% of the way toward the Dems' position. ... 9:05 P.M. link
Satellites and theLAT: Are They Omniscient? Patterico catches the LAT excising from a Reuters story the report that a spy satellite confirms part of the U.S. version of the Giuliana Sgrena incident-- that her car was speeding. ... As Patterico notes, maybe the LAT didn't believe the satellite angle, which was reported by CBS. (CBS--how could it not be true? They're credentialed journalists!) CBS cited "sources" at the Pentagon, an institution with an intense interest in making Sgrena look wrong. Suspicion may be justified. But simply excising the paragraph seems an iffy strategy for the Times to take in a story so widely broadcast. Now the paper has to either a) leave its readers uninformed about the satellite angle or b) make a big deal of the satellite story by reinvestigating it and printing the result. That's a similar bind to the one the Washington Post got into when it refused to print Paula Jones' initial charge of sexual harrassment by Bill Clinton--by doing so the paper effectively committed itself to finding out if the charges were true (with disastrous results for Clinton). ... Isn't it better just to say "CBS, citing Pentagon officials, reports X, " and rely on the readers' knowledge that not everything CBS or the Pentagon says is bankable? Even better, do it Bloggystyle: Violate the Fake MSM Air of Omniscience and simply say "CBS says this but we're not sure." ... P.S.: Let's see how the Times responds to Patterico's pestering. Maybe they'll get huffy and defensive! ...
Update: An ANSA English Media Service report says of the CBS/Pentagon claim:
According to Italian intelligence sources, this is not to be believed. No satellite could have filmed the event because there was too much cloud cover, they said.
Kf is not sure! ...
Beyond Reality TV--Pornographic Bangladeshi Dramedy! According to the site ISEBrand.com, the BBC has already begun broadcasting its main British channels live over the Internet.** (Even if this isn't true yet, it will inevitably be true one day soon.) Alert reader "K" says it
points to the reason why any effort to regulate cable content in America is doomed to failure (even if a Bush court upheld restrictions on cable content). In a few short years, broadband access will be ubiquitous and powerful enough for content providers to produce and distribute content from anywhere in the world, circumventing all but the most draconian national regulation schemes (read: China and other countrys' efforts to block whole domains from access within their borders). If the regulatory climate becomes onerous and puritannical in this country, content providers and distributors will simply move offshore, broadcasting online. A clampdown on cable "indecency" could well mean that internet broadcasters could reincorporate in other countries and simply beam their content back to America over the internet. [Emph. added]
Does this mean that moralists won't try to regulate cable content (e.g. the upcoming gay network)? I don't see why. Moralists might not want their country involved in something they regard as wrong, even if regulating domestic broadcasters ultimately has only hortatory or symbolic effect. They're moralists, remember. ... P.S.: But doesn't it also mean that even noncontroversial American TV stations will face vicious competition from cheap, uncensored offshore content providers? That's seemingly bad news for Hollywood, no? How much do Bangladeshi showrunners make?
** I could click on the link and see for myself, but it seems to require a RealNetworks player, and I've had bad experiences using RealNetworks products on my Windows setup. 6:30 P.M.
Unedited Self-Aggrandizing Wannabes Rescue Mitofsky? Were the exit polls right and the official polls wrong in 2004? I've always discounted that paranoid possibility, on the sound assumption that if a possible explanation for anything is the incompetence of exit pollsters, you need look no further! I mean, many of the polltakers who questioned the voters were recruited by college professors (read: biased) and off of Craigslist (read: inexperienced and biased). But a few weeks ago an outfit called U.S. Count Votes released a study purporting to cast doubt on the official, Warren Mitofsky-endorsed theory of why the exit polls were wrong, which is that Bush voters were more reluctant to talk to these (biased, inexperienced) polltakers. The "only remaining explanation," USCV suggested, is that the exit polls weren't wrong but "the official vote count was corrupted."
Comes now a Scottish Daily Kos contributor, Elizabeth Liddle, to save Mitofsky's explanation for his own screw-up by rescuing the "Reluctant Bush Respondent" Theory from USCV's academic conspiracists--a conclusion some Kos readers won't want to hear. According to Mystery Pollster, Liddle's not only figured out where the USCV went wrong but contributed to the future analysis of exit poll data. Her paper appears to be a collaboration of leftish and non-leftish bloggers (Liddle, Rick Brady, DemFomCt and Mystery Pollster himself). The collective brain at work! They seem very, very proud of themselves but it looks as if they should be. ... P.S.: Isn't it plausible not only that Bush voters would be relatively reluctant to cooperate with the press' exit pollsters, but that this reluctance woud be stronger in some kinds of precincts than others? Specifically, my guess is that Bush voters in contested precincts might be harried and defensive--and thereofore more reluctant to talk to any damn elite media representative--while Bush voters heavily pro-Bush areas would feel secure and freer to tell those damn elite media representatives what they'd done. ... 12:37 P.M.
Friday, April 29, 2005
kf Seeks Common Ground! Stuart Taylor's upcoming National Journal column [which will appear here on Monday] has evidence Bush judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown is guilty of cool and premeditated Lochnerism. I'd filibuster her! P.S.: I've lazily been assuming that the current fight over filibusters was non-compromisable--either Frist wins and the filibuster goes or the Dems win and it stays. But of course there are lots of possible compromises.
a) One is suggested by Taylor: End filibusters for federal trial and appellate courts, keep them for the Supreme Court, where judges are "unrestrained by the risk of reversal on appeal."
b) Other possible deals are suggested by the range of numbers between 51 (majority rule) and 60 (the number currently required to end Senate debate): ... 52 ... 53 ... 54 ... 55 ... 56 ... 57 ... 58 ... 59 ... . Some of these numbers seem more obvious compromise points than others!
P.P.S.: Remember, the filibuster-breaking number has been negotiated down before. It used to be two-thirds (67). ... P.P.P.S.: Or how about The Big Deal--Dems get to keep the filibuster (maybe at 58, for the Supreme Court only) while Bush gets a face-saving, solvency-assisting Social Security bill (maybe with voluntary, pilot, time-released semi-add-on private accounts, a small increase in the retirement age, some mild benefit-shaving at the top and a rise in the payroll tax cap)? Just a thought! ... 5:03 P.M.
California Democrats are giddy about Gov. Schwarzenegger's low standing in the polls. They're beginning to entertain "hopes of ending his historic governorship after just three years," according to SacBee's estimable Dan Walters. Bill Bradley, who follows Schwarzenegger closely, reports
Schwarzenegger's self-proclaimed "Year of Reform" - intended to capture the national political spotlight in this normally off-year - has turned into his year of living dangerously. In a few months he has lost a quarter of his popularity. And his ballyhooed initiatives are falling like dominos.
But look at some of Bradley's details:
1) Schwarzenegger wanted to lengthen the time it takes for a teacher to get tenure from two years to ten years. He's now asking for five years, while "the Democrats want four years."
2) Schwarzenegger wanted district lines drawn by an independent panel of retired judges. "Democrats are agreeable to that but not the governor's original plan for mid-decade redistricting."
It looks to me as if Schwarzenegger is about to double the time it takes for teachers to get tenure and establish an independent redistricting commission in the nation's largest state. Not chopped liver! Is it conceivable that any Democratic governor would have achieved these things? ... 12:05 P.M.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
"Storytelling"--Not Dead Yet! What's up at CNN, now that Judy Woodruff's left?TV Newser doesn't know! He gets a mealy-mouthed email from CNN's U.S. President Jonathan Klein. (The Internet--a valuable communications tool in the hands of a Web-savvy executive like Klein! He can communicate nothing instantly, in real time, to the whole world! He can even target the nothing to selected audiences!) ... What kf hears, third-hand -- please discount accordingly, but it's not libelous so why not print it? -- is:
[T]he prime time planning now leans toward a daily hour or so on "Security"—storytelling about why we should all be very very frightened all the time. Inside CNN, the new initiative is called: CNN-We'll Scare the Pants Off You.
That Jon Klein is "one of the most visionary news thinkers in the business today"! I don't know how I misjudged him. ... [You sure that's not libelous?--ed To CNN's execs, or its audience?] ... P.S.: Rumours of CNN's revival under Klein so far seem to have been greatly exaggerated. ... 4:32 P.M.
The SecretStar Trek/Pedophilia Connection! The multiple layers of experienced editors at the Los Angeles Times signed off on the following astonishing paragraph that appeared in yesterday's story about the Toronto police Sex Crimes Unit:
On one wall is a "Star Trek" poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie.
Det. Constable Warren Bulmer slips on a Klingon sash and shield they confiscated in a recent raid. "It has something to do with a fantasy world where mutants and monsters have power and where the usual rules don't apply," Bulmer reflects. "But beyond that, I can't really explain it." [Emph. added]
Blogger Ernest Miller was suspicious and called the Toronto police. It turns out the professional, credentialed LAT got it wrong again--but not as wrong as you'd think! ... 1:20 P.M. link
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Margaret Spellings, Gangsta! Anti-NCLB hystericist Sam Dillon says Bush Education Secretary Margaret Spellings plays "bare-knuckle politics" and "hardball" in defending the federal law against complaining states. It seems she once called somebody "unAmerican" and contacted Utah's governor instead of its education superintendent! She even threatened to cut off federal funding if Utah flouted the law's requirements for getting federal funding! If that's Dillon's idea of "bare-knuckle politics" he must have grown up in an ashram. [Yoga politics is vicious--ed. Get Dillon on that beat then.] .. P.S.: Here's the complete, savage, bare-knuckle Spellings quote, as described in an earlier NYT piece:
The rift grew last week when Ms. Spellings, asked about Connecticut during a television appearance, said it was ''un-American, I would call it, for us to take the attitude that African-American children in Connecticut living in inner cities are not going to be able to compete, are not going to be prepared to compete in this world and are not going to be educated to high levels. That's the notion, the soft bigotry of low expectations, as the president calls it, that No Child Left Behind rejects.'' [Emph. added]
Wow. It's the New McCarthyism, I tell you! ... Those whining states that Dillon champions are so vewy sensitive! ... P.S.: This is an exceptionlly pathetic bit of crusading journalism, even for the NYT. But it may or may not be Dillon's fault--the piece reads like a bland source-greasing profile reworked by an editor who played up the weak "hardball" angle. ... Actual Nuance: See Eduwonk for the rift between the Spellings faction and the Finn faction on the pro-NCLB right. Finn's argument does not appear to be that Spellings is too 'bare-knuckled.' ... 10:57 P.M. link
Some Content Providers Shouldn't Be: A calm, un-Shawlike Andres Martinez piece on the fate of newspapers more or less invites Yahoo and Google to buy the L.A. Times. "The L.A. Times' owner, Tribune Co., can probably be had for about $15 billion," he suggests. Would buying the LAT be a smart move? Martinez argues the the content of newspapers like the Times will always be valuable. But how valuable? He draws an analogy to the movie business:
As Murdoch put it in his speech last month, we are digital immigrants and they are the digital natives. But like Murdoch, I remain optimistic that there is a great deal of opportunity in this migration, even if newspaper types in the long run lose direct control over the distribution of our product, much as movie studios did when they had to divest their theater chains. Our content, like the studios', will remain valuable on other distribution channels.
OK. But ...
1) The Times makes its money in ways that are intimately bound up with its "direct control over the distribution of [its] product"--i.e. the mounds of paper filled with auto and store ads that its readers schlepp into their homes every day. Take away ownership and control of this means of distribution--replace it with a computer screen and a bunch of servers owned by someone else--and you take away much of the profit, no?
2) Creating newspaper content isn't like creating motion picture content. Feature films are typically elaborate collective creations--more expensive by a factor of ... what? 20? 50? 100? From what I read in the press, it costs tens of millions to produce a movie that will occupy a theater for a week. It probably costs hundreds of thousands to produce a weeks' worth of decent copy. The LAT will face a lot more competition as a producer of inexpensive news content than 20th Century Fox faces as a producer of expensive movie content. Competing news content producers will inevitably bid down the price of the product, and the portals that purchase it won't have to fork over nearly as much as Martinez seems to be assuming they will. (I'm not even counting the additional factor that much of the LAT's content sucks, and only survives in the marketplace precisely because of the paper's control of the channel of distribution and near-monopoly market position. Will Yahoo really want to pay billions for David Shaw?)
I'll invest kf's retained earnings elsewhere, thank you! ... 9:09 P.M. link
No party in this laptop. ... 8:35 P.M.
Democratic Senators Dorgan, Kerry and Durbin say they "hope" that the report by independent counsel David Barrett on possible wrongdoing in the Cisneros case by the Clinton administration "will be made public." At least that's what the senators claim in a letter to the WSJ. [$] The NY Daily News had reported last Friday that a law to defund Barrett's investigation--something the Democratic senators snuck into an appropriations bill--would "kill a release of the report." ... The WSJ ed page, in response, suggests that the Dems' Barrett-defunding law might still have the effect of suppressing the report, in part because the Bush Justice Department can't be trusted to finish the job of releasing it (given that DOJ "just happens to be one of the two main departments that we hear are accused of major wrongdoing in the ... report"). That's not completely implausible, considering the self-protective nature of large bureaucracies. .... But isn't there an obvious technical fix to this problem: Defund Barrett, but give him a deadline of a month or two after the notice-and-comment period for the report expiresto publish it (instead of setting a June 1 cutoff). Then the public, having spent $20 million on the investigation, at least gets to read its work product. The WSJ is happy, the Republicans are happy, and the Democrats ... well, they're unhappy but have to pretend they're happy! ...
P.S.: There are presumably numerous copies of Barrett's report around--it's been circulated among the counsel to the various parties. Isn't it inevitable that the report will become public whatever Congress does? And doesn't it lookworse for the Dems if the report comes out on Drudge as a suppressed, forbidden document? It's not as if the Dems don't have an anti-Barrett case to make--see this leeringly anti-Barrett 2003 report in the LAT. [$] ...
P.P.S.: Did Democrats ever really expect to suppress this report? One group that will probably be happy whatever happens, remember, are the lawyers and lobbyists for all the parties. Is it possible that now some of them not only get to bill their clients for the protracted investigation but also for whatever efforts it took to produce (or thwart, or monitor) the Dorgan anti-Barrett initiative? We shouldn't assume there's partisan explanation for developments in Washington when there's a possible venal explanation handy! ...
P.P.P.S.: When will the NYT deign to mention this story? ... 4:48 P.M. link
Does staging a rally at which he's endorsed by delusional 2008 candidate John Kerry really help L.A. mayoral front runner Antonio Villaraigosa? ... We think Villaraigosa is doing a favor for Kerry, rather than the other way around. ... 3:56 P.M.
Party Without a Laptop: At an L.A. event discussing blogs--hey, why don't we have more of those!-- Roger L. Simon and Marc Danziger announced the formation of a new network of bloggers, including some big ones (e.g. Instapundit). They want Lexus ads! And they claim to have the unique eyeballs and high-end demographics necessary to get them. ... This is a potentially big deal, yet as far as I can see none of the bloggers in attendance--including human Echelon Project Luke Ford--have reported it. Update: Except Hugh Hewitt. ... And Kicking Over My Traces. ... And L.A. Voice ... 10:48 A.M. link
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Things change: The seemingly secular decline of Fox News in these charts is striking. ... Is it a coincidence that it more or less coincides with the semi-mysterious slump of President Bush in the polls? Bush may not care about polls, but Fox cares about ratings! And Bush cares about pleasing Fox's audience. Will the result be subtle pressure on Bush to shift away from unpopular subjects like Schiavo and Social Security? ... 3:34 P.M.
There's a party in my laptop and you're invited! 2003's Party-in-a-Laptop Theory is back, and Ron Brownstein's got it. Brownstein explains the great flaw in the base-pleasing strategy of Karl Rove in 2004 and the Democratic CW now: by ignoring moderate swing voters (to focus on turning out new voters at the extremes), the two existing parties open a royal road up the middle for a centrist third party maverick who uses the Internet to create a national organization and raise millions in a matter of days. ... Brownstein has spotted the template for 2008, I think. Yet his sharp, un-hack piece was buried in the armpit of The Noteas well as its usual tomb on page A-10 of the LAT. Why? My theory: Brownstein's right too soon. It's much more fun if the CW ignores him and then suddenly discovers the McCain Independent Internet Insurgency in late 2007. ... P.S.: But Brownstein persists in taking former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey seriously as a national candidate, even after Kerrey managed to make a fool of himself--and cement his reputation as an fecklessly opportunistic Hamlet--with his off-on-off candidacy for mayor of New York. If he can't make it there he can make it anywhere! That's a theory I doubt will be validated in 2008. ... 11:15 A.M. link
How could Hillary blunt this threat and cement her liberal base for the primaries without getting pushed "to the left the way Dean pushed John Kerry to the left in 2004"? Answer: If she's attacked viciously by Republicans! No bit of recent news was better for Hillary than GOP consultant Arthur Finkelstein's announcement that he's ginning up a "Stop Her Now" political action committee for her 2006 New York Senate race.
-- kausfiles, April 14, 2005
Mr. SULLIVAN: The reason she was loved by the left was because she was hated by the right. And the best thing going for her right now are these people like Arthur Finkelstein running these...
Mr. SULLIVAN: ...misogynistic campaigns, stop her now...
MATTHEWS: Let's make some news.
Mr. SULLIVAN: ...that the left will actually rally.
-- Andrew Sullivan on "The Chris Matthews Show," April 23, 2005
Sullivan says (replying to an email query):
yep. i read yr item. but the first time i saw the name 'stophernow', i thought it was misogynist and would backfire. bill's anti-finkelstein tirade also resonated in my head, as a sign of how the attacks would only shore her up. but if you want to take part of the credit for my point, go ahead.
You, the reader, make the call. ... Maybe that last sentence only looks condescending! 1:28 A.M.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom got into trouble by writing a column on Friday for inclusion in the Freep's Sunday paper. But in a dramatic demonstration of the superiority of the mainstream press over the uncredentialed Internet, a Sunday Los Angeles Times article by blog critic David Shaw [$*] was unable to report the results of the Free Press investigation into Albom because it was printed on the previous Wednesday! ... Aren't the dates on these MSM Sunday sections beginning to look like a form of fraud, or at least deceptive non-disclosure? The printed Times Calendar section I'm holding in my hand claims it's the Sunday, April 24, 2005 edition. But it's really the Wednesday, April 20, 2005 edition. Uncredentialed blogs accurately report the date they were written, down to the minute, no?Advantage: Self-aggrandizing journalistic wannabes! ... P.S.: Why don't the LAT and NYT (and Time, and Newsweek, and The New Republic, etc.**) accurately disclose to their readers the date they were actually finalized (e.g. the date they were printed)? They could easily do it. The reason they don't is because readers prefer to read the latest information, and the publications want their customers to think they are getting information that's more up-to-date than it actually is. In other words, it's not just an unavoidable problem, or trivial lack of disclosure. It's conscious deception for commercial gain! ... P.P.S.: Shaw's Sunday article is actually an exception to this routine fraud--he openly expresses his frustration with his early deadline. ... P.P.P.S.: But isn't the LAT's Wednesday-for-Sunday schedule worse than most? No wonder "Calendar" seems so fresh! ...
*-not worth it. ...
**-Update: Eagle-eyed reader J.T. says New Republic does disclose the actual printing date, but it's buried "in a little gray box with subscription info and such." That is better than other MSM publications manage. But true transparency will only be achieved when it's given equal billing with the now-featured fake publication date. Writers, increasingly caught in embarrassing Albom/Shaw-like binds, may begin to insist on that. [Why "increasingly"?--ed Faster news cycles!] ... 11:08 A.M.
Detroit's Future? From Saturday's NYT:
Hmmm. You don't think General Motors and Ford, which would love to unload their "legacy" pension oligations onto the government, are paying close attention to this development, do you? ... Supplemental reading: Good CSM situationer notes the resulting dramatic reduction in pensions for United pilots. ... 10:35 A.M.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Fisked by Fidel: Castro reads the papers to his subjects while waiting for "election" results. He's no Harry Shearer, but he does [search for "Golden"] interpolate his own spin in between the paragraphs of A.L. Bardach's previously linked WaPo piece on Senor Posada. ... You can't say he doesn't Read the Whole Thing. ... P.S.: Castro describes Bardach as "not a friend of Cuba," something Oliver Stone discovered on his own last year. ... 3:54 P.M. link
kf Filibusters Itself! My colleague and boss Jacob Weisberg wants to keep the filibuster for judicial nominations, as do I. But I don't understand this graf of his argument:
Sen. Bill Frist, the chief promoter of the nuclear option, says he wants to do away only with filibusters of judicial nominations and would not rule them out of order with respect to legislation. But there's no principled, or even plausible, distinction here. The Constitution says "advise and consent," which means senators get to play a role in judicial selection. They're within their rights to use every available procedure to block nominees they object to. [Emph. added]
The Constitution does say "advise and consent," but as Weisberg notes it doesn't say anything about filibusters. That leaves the Senate to structure the "advise and consent" process as it sees fit. And there are several plausible distinctions between judicial nominations and legislation. The problem is that most of these distinctions cut in the opposite direction from the one Frist is going in:
1) Judges are for life, as Rick Hertzberg notes, while mistaken legislation can be repealed by subsequent Congresses.
2) Judges (however long they serve) have acquired unaccountable, super-legislative powers the Framers almost certainly didn't anticipate. When mere legislators get mad at judges and try to hold them accountable, eminent lawyers from their own party swat them down. When Presidents try to hold them accountable, they're accused of court-packing. Basically, they are not accountable the way other players in the system are--certainly not accountable in any way commensurate with their power.
Both these factors suggest that we must be really, really careful in selecting judges in the first place, which is why both factors militate in favor of requiring compromise--which is what filibusters do.
That said, I also don't understand parts of my own previous pro-filibuster-for-judges argument. In particular, I mentioned the extra deference traditionally paid to Presidential court picks by members of his own party--which now seems like a pretty weak basis for requiring extra compromise in judge-approving votes. Would Bush really get out-of-the-ordinary, lockstep GOP support if he nominated, say, Richard Epstein to the Supreme Court? I'm not so sure.
Plus, there's a much more powerful reason--a third reason--for treating judicial votes differently that I completely overlooked, namely that the Senate's advise-and-consent votes are votes that don't involve the House in any way. That means one of the basic majority-obstructing mechanisms the Constitution provides for legislation--the need to get two quite different legislatures to agree--simply isn't there when it comes to voting on judges. SenatorFrist could reasonably say that, because judicial appointments are treated differently from laws in the Constitution, we need extra anti-majoritarian protections like the filibuster when we consider judges.
Of course, Frist has said exactly the opposite--that we need fewer anti-majoritarian protections when it comes to judges. That's why I think he's wrong. But it's not as if he couldn't come up with any plausible reason why the distinctions between judges and legislations require that result. He might argue that judges are so permanently powerful that our only hope is that a president knows he'll be held strictly accountable if he appoints a turkey--which means his responsibility has to be crystal clear. Forcing a compromise with an opposing, filibustering minority party only muddies these lines of accountability and lets each party blame the other--acceptable with correctable legislation, but not with life-tenured superlegislators. I don't buy this argument--Presidents have plenty of ways to duck responsibility for bad judicial appointments; it's better to prevent them in the first place. But it's an argument.
P.S.: I also made the not-wildly-strong argument that we can safely eliminate the filibuster for legislation because Presidents will still have to compromise with dissident members of their own party. That's true, but if intra-party diversity were the only thing blocking majoritarian legislative extremism there wouldn't be all that much blocking going on these days. The real reason for ending the legislative filibuster is the one stated by Timothy Noah--that the prospect of actually enacting laws with a simple majority vote will force the President's entire party and the President himself to behave more responsibly:
But what mostly gives the [GOP] appeal to the electorate is its ability to scream and yell while seldom being granted the opportunity to ban abortion or eliminate the Securities and Exchange Commission or declare war on France. It stirs things up satisfyingly, while never requiring anybody to pay the price. If the Senate eliminated the filibuster, Republicans would have to choose between putting their money where their mouth was or just shutting up.
In short, without filibustering Democrats to stop them they'd have to act more sensibly then we now fear. And if they didn't their laws (unlike their judges) could be repealed. 2:02 A.M. link
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Italian Government Falls, New Jersey Politician Indicted, Summer Brings Warmer Weather: The nation's biggest teachers' union, the NEA, doesn't like the No Child Left Behind Act? Gee, I never knew! If the NEA didn't hate the NCLBA it would be a strong indication the NCLBA was deeply flawed. (If we're really going to improve K-12 education, many NEA members are going to have to lose their jobs.) Yet a lawsuit brought by the union attacking the act as an "unfunded mandate" got front-page play in the NYT (and USAT). As usual, when faced with the NYT's campaign to generate anti-NCLB hysteria,** concerned citizens turn to Eduwonk for a sober analysis. He doesn't disappoint. Sample:
[T]he core of the lawsuit boils down to the contention that No Child Left Behind is forcing school districts (and by extension states) to spend too much on education. This is, to put it mildly, a novel argument from the NEA ... [snip]
NCLB, though not without its flaws, is a law aimed at forcing states and school districts to do right by poor and minority kids. In the long run, does the NEA really want to be remembered for having gone to court to stop that?
He has much more.
**--NYT's lede: "Opening a new front in the growing rebellion against President Bush's signature education law ...." Times reporter Sam Dillon also used the classic 'Some Analysts Say' device in his second graf to give the NEA's suit the appearance of rectitude--as in, "Some legal scholars said that the union, the National Education Association, had assembled a compelling cause of action," though "it was difficult to judge the suit's prospects." [Emph. added] Of course, Dillon could just as well have highlighted "some legal scholars" who said the union's proposed cause of action was dangerous and destructive, in addition to having dim "prospects" for actual success in the federal courts. ... In stark contrast:USA Today'sstory was fair and unhyped! ... 11:55 P.M. link
N.Y.D.N. Buries the Lede: I've always thought the IRS probes of Clinton critics smelled fishy. There were too many of them to be a coincidence. Now the N.Y. Daily News notes a special prosecutor's report that Senate Dems are apparently trying to bottle up:
The report will allege that Justice Department officials snuffed out a tax case against Cisneros and that the IRS sometimes audited Clinton critics without good cause.
Not very strongly worded, but let's see the report, no? ... P.S.: Voters probably think Hillary Clinton has an imperfect marriage. But do they want to have this possibility shoved in their face? [Don't worry, Bill had Jerry Bruckheimer there to keep him on the straight and narrow!-ed Ron Burkle wasn't available?]... P.P.S.: Via Lucianne, who has a nose for this sort of thing. ... 11:56 A.M. link
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