Sorry, Rush!

Sorry, Rush!

Sorry, Rush!

A mostly political Weblog.
May 16 2005 2:53 AM

Sorry, Rush!

Guess who's guilty of 'Dowdification.'

Mike Piscal, who founded a charter school in South L.A. (a neighborhood where 258 out of 3,590 9th graders go on to graduate from college) opens a promising stall in the Huffosphere. Today's nut graf:

There are four special interests that have blocked, clogged, and undermined reform for decades. It is all about money, control, and power. It is diseased value system that leaves our kids uneducated, exposed to violence and drugs, and with too few or zero opportunities to pursue the American Dream. Who are the four? Emphatically, I name names: the teacher's unions, the University Schools of Education, the bureaucracies, and (unbelievably) the PTA's. [Emph. added]

More recently you've heard charges -- especially from teachers union officials who despise union-free charters -- that charters schools aren't doing well. There are 29 open-admissions high schools in Boston. Charters were ranked #1, #2, #3, #4, and #9 out of 29 on MCAS proficiency


It seems there is some problem with the teacher's unions! ... Who knew? They're such good Democrats. ... 4:47 P.M.

But at least the autoworkers' union is a big success. ... Oh, wait ...  The troubles at GM and Ford have gotten a lot of attention, but Peter DeLorenzo of AutoExtremist thinks Chrysler's not in good shape either, despite the success of the rear-drive 300. [See his point 4] ... 4:32 P.M.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Sorry, Rush! The  Minute Man's blog tipped me off to a Kenneth Starr appearance on Nightline last month, in which Starr seems to say flat out he opposes changing Senate Rule 22 on filibusters--the so called "nuclear option." Here's the video. This is the relevant transcript:


 ... What are you views on the filibuster, as it relates specifically to judicial appointments?


Well, the Senate has the raw power and has, in fact, used it once famously, in the process of considering the proposed elevation of Abe Fortas to the Chief Justice-ship. But I think it's imprudent and unwise for senators to invoke this important device. I think it is more apt, more appropriate for legislation but not for, for judging, I think, or for ruling on judges and voting on judges. I think that does trench on the independence of the judiciary. But even more so, I think that in our system of separated powers, the President does deserve a vote on his nominees, up or down. And especially when we're talking about the courts of appeals. We're not even talking about the United States Supreme Court.


(Off Camera) -Expect, I think we are talking here about the US Supreme Court, aren't we? I mean, it, it is everybody's expectation that everything that is going on right now is just sort of a dry run for what is assumed will happen sometime, if not in the next few months, then certainly in the next year or two. And that is that President Bush will have one, two, possibly three appointments to the Supreme Court. So, what happens in the US Senate now is exceedingly important. Would you go so far as to do away with the filibuster?...


I would not do away with the filibuster, in terms of Rule 22. But I would say, be judicious in its application. And I don't think that that's been happening. And I regret that.


(Off Camera) So, you're, you're opposed to the invocation of the filibuster, in this case. But you wouldn't go so far as to get rid of it.


I'd be very cautious about getting rid of it. I think that the filibuster rule's a part of our traditions. But I think it needs to be, like a lot of tools in the tool chest, very cautiously used. [Emphasis added]


Rush Limbaugh assured his listeners this week that Starr was "on the same page" as other Republicans. Doesn't look like it, Rush! (I don't have the exact Limbaugh quote because  the transcript has been moved behind Limbaugh's subscription wall.***) Instead it's looking more and more like CBS's Bob Schieffer was right to say Starr was "coming out on what looks like the opposite side of many [in] the conservative wing of the Republican party." Scheiffer's main mistake appears to have been the implication that Starr was "coming out" for the first time in Borger's report, when in fact he'd come out at least a couple of weeks earlier on Nightline.

About the only thing that could turn this episode into a defeat for CBS would be the network stoking suspicions by refusing to release at least the relevant part of the transcript of the Borger/Starr interview. ... They couldn't be that stupid? ... Right? ...

*** Update:Rush, Dowdifier! I have now joined "Rush 24/7"--only $49.95--and obtained a transcript of Limbaugh's anti-CBS spiel ("CBS Lied: Ken Starr Taken Out of Context"). Limbaugh said.

Ken Starr is on the right page. He's on the same page as everybody else about this but CBS sought to purposely take his sound bite out of context, and apply it to the nuclear option. Here it is again. This is the sound bite. It's audio sound bite 22, Mike, and it is Ken Starr as CBS presented him talking about the Republicans' attempt to use the nuclear option.

STARR: This is a radical, radical departure from our history and from our traditions, and it amounts to an assault on the judicial branch of government. It may prove to have the kind of long term boomerang effect, damage on the institution of the Senate that thoughtful senators may come to regret.


Not only is Starr not on the same page as other Republicans when it comes to the nuclear option, but Limbaugh appears to have run the two Starr quotes together as if they came right after each other, which has the effect of making CBS look worse than an accurate presentation would.. When people on the left do that, people on the right call it "Dowdification," no? ... [Update: I've now actually listened to the Limbaugh broadcast. It's indeed deceptive the way the two sentences are spliced together as if they were billed and broadcast by CBS as a single "sound bite" discussing the "nuclear option." (That's the way CBS characterized the second sentence, remember, but not the first. More important, Starr's I-wasn't-talking-about-the-nuclear-option defense applies to the first sentence but not the second sentence.) ... In the Limbaugh mash-up version, there's a subtle difference in tone between the first sentence and the second sentence, but too subtle to alert most listeners to the edit.] ...

P.S.: Why don't Republicans just admit that Starr is a prissy, lawyer-loving wimp on these confirmation issues! ...

P.P.S.: I should add that when I first saw the link on to Limbaugh's "CBS Lied" charge, I happily assumed it was true. (Now Andrew Heyward would finally lose his job!) Unfortunately, it doesn't hold up. 4:44 P.M. link

Rapper's Demise II: Chris Bangle's visionary autostyling strategy finally achieves a Klein-like payoff!

"Looks kinda crummy ..."

--James R. Healey, USA Today


12:30 P.M.

Rapper's Demise I: Jon Klein's visionary "storytelling" strategy shows room for growth! ... 3:07 A.M.

Blind quote of the Day: A CNNer's take on Howie Kurtz--"He's our insurance policy." 2:54 A.M.

Blogstorm warning: Rush Limbaugh clearly thinks he's caught CBS in another Rather-style anti-GOP screwup--he charges that Gloria Borger quoted Kenneth Starr dissing the Republican's "nuclear option" when Starr was in fact talking about something else. (Limbaugh: "He was not talking about the nuclear option whatsoever.")   Lucianne, Powerline, and Patterico seem to agree. I'm not so sure.


The video of Borger's Monday CBS report is available on  this page, and this is the transcript. Here's the most relevant portion:

BORGER: ... But this fight goes way beyond Senate rules. This is a monumental battle about the future of the courts. Just who gets to sit on the Supreme Court? And should we appoint justices who want to rule on everything from abortion to gay marriage to civil rights?

That's why many conservatives consider the fight over judges their political Armageddon. But conservative icon and former federal Judge Ken Starr says it's gotten out of control.

Mr. KENNETH STARR (Dean, Pepperdine University School of Law): This is a radical, radical departure from our history and from our traditions, and it amounts to an assault on the judicial branch of government.

BORGER: Starr, who investigated the Monica Lewinsky case against President Clinton, tells CBS News that the Republican plan to end the filibuster may be unwise.

Mr. STARR: It may prove to have the kind of long-term boomerang effect, damage on the institution of the Senate that thoughtful senators may come to regret.

BORGER: Still, Starr thinks all judges should be allowed a vote, even if they're Democrats ... [Emphasis added]

Borger does wrench the first Starr sentence ("radical, radical") into something approximating the context Starr says it was given in--not a discussion of the anti-filibuster "nuclear option," but of the new, Bork-era practice of voting against "qualified" judges if you don't like their judicial philosophy.

The second Starr sentence ("boomerang effect") is billed by Borger as a diss of the "nuclear option." Was it? Limbaugh runs both sentences together as if they were part of the same continuous quote. But from the above transcript it's not clear they were, and Starr's demeanor delivering the "boomerang" quote is much calmer. Did he maybe give that quote at a different point in the interview, when he was talking about the "caution and prudence" that (according to Limbaugh) he says should be exercised before the Senate changes its rules?

Starr's own email, as quoted by Ramesh Ponnuru, bears out the latter interpretation:

In the interview, I did indeed suggest, and have suggested elsewhere, that caution and prudence be exercised (Burkean that I am) in shifting/modifying rules (that's the second snippet), but I likewise made clear that the 'filibuster' represents an entirely new use (and misuse) of a venerable tradition. ... [Emphasis on smoking gun added]

Limbaugh says "CBS is refusing to give Ken Starr the full transcript." I can't think of any reason why CBS shouldn't just release the complete video of the Starr-Borger interview--immediately, if they're smart, whether they are guilty or not. If they don't release the "full" interview at least they should release the portion of the transcript surrounding the Starr "boomerang" quote. But it sure looks as if Starr, Burkean that he is, did indeed say that a rules change--which is what the "nuclear option" would involve-- might "boomerang" and do long-term harm, which is what Borger said he said.

Of course, it's possible the Starr-Borger video will show Starr urging senators to (cautiously and prudently) adopt the anti-filibuster rule change even though it might "boomerang" and "damage the institution."** In that case Borger was deceptive--and Scheiffer was wrong when he said, later in Borger's report, that Starr was "coming out on what looks like the opposite side of many [in] the conservative wing of the Republican party." It seems much more likely, though, that Starr is now trying to wriggle out of the anti-GOP implications of his sincere on-camera utterance.

Let's go to the videotape!

P.S.:  If my hunch is right, then CBS can embarrass Limbaugh for deceptively running together two separate Starr quotes as if they were part of a single answer. How can they resist?

**--In my reading, Starr's email doesn't even claim that's what he said. Starr claims he said the Democrats shouldn't filibuster (i.e., it's a "misuse"), which is not the same thing as saying the Senate should change the rule that allows them to filibuster. 1:58 A.M. link

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Webbische Kopf: a) The fabled New York Times Link Generator is back, after suffering a "catastrophic hard drive crash." They're asking for donations of archive-proof Times URLS; b) The LAT's new Web site is a giant improvement. It actually loads, for one thing. Another reason to cancel my subscription! c) In the Huffosphere, Harry Shearer calls the latest pronouncements of CNN's Jonathan Klein "risible." ... Why does Klein have to keep giving all these interviews anyway? Do other network chiefs constantly take their organization's temperature in public? Or is Klein trying to build up his own profile because he knows he's not going to be in his current job forever? Just asking!  d) My line on Huffington Postso far: The so-called "The Blog"--with all the posts, even the ones mocking the entire enterprise--is a big fun mess. A blog-wallow! I'd bookmark that page and ignore the selected Featured Posts on the home page, which tend to be mainly the celebrity posts and are less messy and less fun. ... 2:11 A.M.

Evan Smith on Dennis Miller: "He could have been Bill Maher ...." Now that's a low blow. I thought these days Bill Maher was the one kicking himself thinking he could have been Bill Maher. ... P.S.: I was on the Miller's guest panel a half dozen times, which may or may not help explain its ratings. The show had a couple of distinct virtues, from my perspective. 1) He'd staffed the place with genuinely nice and  non-sleazy people--at least everyone I had contact with. (Producers: Hire them immediately!) 2) Miller himself was friendly and didn't pretend to know everything, which may be why he was unconvincing as an O'Reilly figure. Plus--and I think this is rare for comedians, or at least comedians mentioned in this paragraph--he wanted other people on the show to be funny. Nothing seemed to make him happier than someone else getting off a good line. ... Update: Here's the pro-Miller explanation for the cancellation. ... 12:27 P.M.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hollywood attorney Bert Fields has apparently  sent a threatening letter to the NY Post  on behalf of talent agency William Morris. (See also.) Fields is not a paper tiger (ask Michael Eisner). But a few months ago, wasn't Fields sending a similarly intimidating letter to the LAT on behalf of USC law professor Susan Estrich? I think he was!  (See also.) So where's the lawsuit? ... According to the Times' own account, Fields wrote in his letter that the LAT's assertions were "false, defamatory, and highly damaging." Aren't those fighting words? ... 2:46 P.M.

Huff Schooling: Mystery Pollster brings the feuding Huffies up to speed on the state of the were-the-exit-polls-right debate. ... If the interaction between Blogosphere I and the Huffingsphere forces the Hollywood elite to live in the same factual universe as the rest of us, it will be performing an valuable public service. ... 3:54 P.M.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Some  solid anti-Kerry paragraphs from the left that might have won the Kerry Mystery Challenge  had they been submitted back in 2002. ... [via Note ] 4:43 P.M.

Blogger Sam Jaffe speculates that GM or Ford could be bought by Toyota. The UAW would like that! Seriously--they could infiltrate, organize and strike the competitor that's currently cleaning their clock. It's less clear to me what's in it for Toyota. Why would they want to be part of the union's "pattern bargaining" that locks them in a failed oligopolistic death-embrace with the rest of the Big Three? ... [via Insta]. Update: But see this! ... I suppose if GM junked its own sedan designs and just licensed the plans for the Camry it would make more money. (GM already builds the compact Pontiac Vibe, essentially a Toyota Matrix, at its joint-venture plant in Northern California.) .. 2:38 P.M. link

Discussing Social Security, Paul Krugman writes:

[T]o avert the danger of future cuts in benefits, Mr. Bush wants us to commit now to, um, future cuts in benefits.

This accomplishes nothing, except, possibly, to ensure that benefit cuts take place even if they aren't necessary.

But Bush isn't proposing a take-it-or-leave-it package. He's calling for a negotiation, in which the Democrats could soften the impact of his proposal by substituting some revenue increases for his proposed benefit cuts. You don't like the Full-Pozen "progressive indexing" scheme? Then do a part-Pozen! Make up the difference by raising the cap on payroll taxes--an option Bush has pointedly left open. ... The question of the moment is whether the Democrats should publicly even enter into such bargaining--whether Bush's plan is, as Krugman puts it, "worth discussing." Krugman's argument appears to be that they shouldn't negotiate because Bush's starting position is unacceptable. It usually is in negotiations! ... P.S.: If I were a Democrat who worried only about guaranteeing the future of a universal Social Security system, I'd be very tempted to cut a deal with Bush now. Democrats have a huge amount of bargaining leverage to work with, remember, in part because Bush is  on the verge of an embarrassing loss and in part because voters are unlikely to be comfortable with any compromise unless it's blessed by the party of Social Security's traditional defenders. ... I'm against negotiating precisely because I worry that a deal negotiated now will in fact succeed at cementing in place something like the current, expensive Social Security benefit structure for decades to come. 10:39 P.M. link

Monday, May 9, 2005

Roger Simon Has Nothing Like This: The press kit distributed by the soon-to-be-launched Radar magazine contains a handy Venn diagram explaining the publication's targeted appeal. Kausfiles immediately dispatched its crack team of marketers to come up with a similarly powerful graphic device that drives home to potential advertisers the readership goldmine that is the kf franchise.  Here is their work product. ... It looks like kf and Radar are in some ways competing for the same demographic niche!


5:01 P.M. link

Marxists Are Everywhere: Mark Steyn a) embraces an economic-determinist view  of history and b) notes the transitional self-transforming virtues of Communist dictatorship!

So far, Beijing's strategy of economic liberalization without political liberalization is working out a lot better than the Moscow model. Instead of all this guff about the blessings of liberty, Deng Xiaoping cut to the chase and announced: ''To get rich is glorious.'' And, for city dwellers whose income increased 14-fold in the two decades after Deng told 'em to go for it, things have worked out swell.

I'd say the Chinese are doing it the right way round: Historically, economic liberty has preceded political liberty.

I can't say he's wrong. ... P.S.: He also predicts the breakup of China. ... P.P.S.: And the Bashkirs are restive in Ufa. ... P.P.P.S.: See also ... 12:46 P.M.

The Power of the Obsessed: Byron York--a Huffie!-- files an update the Dorgan-Kerry-Durbin amendment, the one that would either kill or not kill special prosecutor Barrett's report on possible IRS wrongdoing in the Clinton years. ... "A few days ago, the amendment was dropped, so it looks like we'll see the report after all, perhaps as early as this month."  ... Triumphalist P.S.: The initial publicity about Dorgan's amendment was generated by the N.Y. Daily News and the Wall Street Journal.  It's an MSM story. But would the outcome have been the same in pre-Internet years? Today it's hard for politicians to wait out bad publicity because O.C.D.-like blogs are there to make sure the bad publicity doesn't go away. ... Example: How many days has it been since John Kerry said he'd sign Form 180 releasing his military records? Once upon a time an embarrassing promise like Kerry's might have been forgotten until the next campaign. Now he's nibbled to death by blogs. ...   12:55 A.M.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

The Merrill Lynch Mob Has Won: The Los Angeles Times' circulation drop isn't as bad as it first appeared to be. It's worse! Brady Westwater  mans the tom-toms of doom after E&P's report. ... 7:19 P.M.

Designated Man-on-the-Street-for-EverythingGreg Packer is back, and the Daily News has got him! ... Backfill: Packer was also somehow discovered in a crowd at St. Patrick's paying his respects to the Pope. ... 3:45 P.M.

Distinguished blog critic David Shaw defends traditional journalistic qualifications:

I don't like people who sit on computers all day long and write about people they don't know anything about.

Oh, wait. That wasn't Shaw. ... [Klein?--ed. Bigger than Klein!] 11:51 P.M.

Open-Source Punditry: I've posted a big, tedious Social Security item here. I'll improve it if it's wrong! Let me know. ... Here's the nut graf:

[T]here is a big risk associated with saving Social Security now--the risk that we'll save too much. Nobody--neither the President, nor Pozen, nor the Democrats--is talking about radically reducing the size of the program, Australia style. They're all talking about saving a program that consumes somewhere from 12 to 17 percent of the national payroll. Once its financial imbalance is solved it will be virtually impossible to restructure. Voters will consider the problem taken care of. The system will be solvent-a tub resting firmly on its own bottom, funded by a dedicated payroll tax-so why talk about changing it?

Before they stabilize the system at this high level of GDP consumption--cementing it in place, in effect--Democrats may want time to think about whether they want to devote such a large part of society's resources to a universal check-mailing scheme. My guess is Democrats will need at least some of those GDP points for health care. It will be easier to get them if Social Security is still perceived as a progam in need of reform, as opposed to a program that got fixed back in 2005.

Read the whole thing if you must. ...  10:52 A.M.

Kaus' First Rule of Journalism: Always generalize wildly from your own personal experience. I just sent a giant April 15 check to the IRS. Why? Because I'm self-employed and sometimes don't get it together to pay my taxes in neat quarterly installments. If there are more self-employed people like me around these days, that would explain why the economy has been relatively buoyant despite weak official job numbers--and you might expect that a lot of these self-employed people would also have just sent off giant April 15 checks to the IRS. Maybe even enough to send the government into temporary surplus!  ... Just a theory! 2:38 A.M.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Am I crazy or has Defamerunaccountably gotten good? ... (See esp. juju herbs.) 8:54 P.M.

Far Out--More on Star Trek and Pedophilia: A Los Angeles Times reporter is apparently standing behind her astounding report that "all but one" of the more than 100 offenders arrested in the past four years by the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit "was a hard-core Trekkie." Ernest Miller has the update. He is understandably amazed:

I could go to a science fiction convention and be less likely to find that 99%+ of the attendees were "hard-core Trekkies."

Last week, according to Miller, an official with the same Toronto unit said that only a "majority" of those arrested had a "passing interest in Star Trek," and Miller's standing by his interview. But either way--whether the LAT exaggerated or not--it's a bizarre correlation that seems to cry out for explanation. ... 4:06 P.M. link


Patterico has an intriguing substitute for the Republicans' "nuclear option" that would achieve some of what Tigerhawk, Instapundit, and former King of Quotes Norman Ornstein hope to achieve with their make-em-stay-up-all-night "Nostalgia Option,"--i.e. publicly embarrass Dems if they stage a groundless filibuster--but without requiring any change in the filibuster rules. ... 1:46 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