Maybe Dan Neil was right about Bob Lutz: Despite the wildly successful GM "employee discount" promotion, Pontiac sales managed to fall 14% in June. Yikes. Wasn't the new G6 sedan supposed to be picking up steam in the marketplace right about now? ... [Like John Carroll of the L.A. Times, Lutz has been tasked with turning around a huge, ossified self-protective bureaucracy. It takes years.-ed. Good point. And you don't see Carroll giving up in frustration! ... Oh.] ... Lutz Damage Control #66: OK, so current GM products are less than inspired. As if to make the case for Lutz, Danny Hakim of the NYT recently ran a little box (link lost) previewing the exciting "Lutzmobiles" that are on the way. Of the four cars featured, two are forthrightly dreary (the bland Buick Lucerne, the tired retro Chevrolet SSR), one looks OK (Saturn Aura), and only one is genuinely exciting (the limited-volume Pontiac Solstice). I hope the models GM sneak-previewed to credulous Business Week were more impressive. ... 10:31 A.M.
'OK, He'll Do. Now Back to Plame!' Roger Simon writes:
The last thing a wartime president needs at a moment like this is a divisive Supreme Court fight.
Hmmm. If the alternative to a divisive Supreme Court fight is returning the public's attention to a) the ongoing casualties in Iraq; b) a scandal involving the president's top aide and c) a highly unpopular Social Security plan, I'd say Bush's biggest fear is that Roberts isn't controversial or divisive enough. He might just sail through! ... 11:35 P.M.
[It's been 5 hours and you don't have a post on John Roberts!--ed. Deeply ashamed. But N.Z. Bear has a useful blog-tracking page on the subject.] 11:02 P.M.
That Was Fast: Last year Ford introduced its long-awaited new big car, the Five Hundred, and a wagon/minivan variant, the Freestyle (advertised in Southern California TV spots featuring Brooke Shields). Now, after only 10 months in production, Ford has decided to discontinue the Freestyle, according to news reports. In the automotive world--where it costs a lot of money to build the tooling for a new model--this is a stunningly rapid demise. It may be the first time in recent memory that a major Detroit vehicle has been killed off like a movie because it 'didn't open.' Faster Flops! I suppose that's progress of a sort. ... [link via Autoblog] 10:17 A.M.
Novak vs. Novak: Andrew Sullivan rightly draws attention to this paragraph from the Newsday of July 22, 2003:
Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
That doesn't mean they necessarily wanted him to publicly identify Plame as a CIA empoyee, but it does not sit very comfortably with the account in Novak's later column on the subject:
During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. [Emph. added]
[It's too late for soft soap with Sullivan now--ed. But I can rip him off, no?] .. 8:08 P.M.
Solid gold: Ryan Lizza's written a definitive account of the comedic weaseling of Karl Rove's lawyer, the man who has snatched the yellow jersey from Floyd Abrams in the race for least effective lawyer of the year. ... Even Lizza's hed is good. ... I find it hard to believe that Rove will lose his job over the Plame scandal. But with Robert Luskin on his side, you never know:
Luskin has, in fact, developed a whole new strategy based on the double super secret background nature of the Cooper-Rove interview, a strategy that rests on the fact that Luskin doesn't quite get Cooper's sense of humor. On Tuesday, the lawyer earnestly defended Rove in an interview with National Review Online. "Look at the Cooper e-mail," Luskin told reporter Byron York, ironically the same journalist who once trashed Luskin in a 1997 American Spectator piece. "Karl speaks to him on double super secret background." Call it the Dean Wormer defense.
One for the Patton Boggs clip packet! ... 5:30 P.M.
Does anyone actually want Alberto Gonzales on the Supreme Court except George W. Bush? Stuart Taylor has the impolite case against the Attorney General:
He was a journeyman partner in a big Houston law firm before meeting Bush. His Texas Supreme Court opinions are pedestrian and undistinguished. His public statements mix prefabricated talking points with vacuous platitudes. By many accounts, he typically says little or nothing during internal debates and discussions among administration lawyers. [Emphasis added.]
Being unpredictable, Taylor notes, isn't in itself necessarily a winning job qualification. ... But it's not clear, after reading Taylor's column, that Gonzalez really is unpredictable. He seems to have been entirely consistent--you just have to look for the right underlying principle. Specifically, has he ever taken a position that might threaten his career? ... 4:09 P.M.
Did War of the Worlds screenwriter David Koepp really say that the Martians in the movie represent "American military forces," while Tom Cruise and the embattled Earthlings represent Iraqi civilians? Looks like he did. ... Meanwhile, director Steven Spielberg says it was about "Americans fleeing for their lives" in a 9/11-like situation. ... No wonder the film was so confused. ... Update: It seems to me that WOTW is doing pretty well commercially. But Dirty Harry disagrees, and he's got some stats. ... How can dissent survive when a major-studio anti-imperialist statement only brings in $192 million? It's the New McCarthyism! ...2:07 A.M.
Test Scores Improving, NEA In Full Damage-Control Mode! Want to know what to make of those recent encouraging NAEP test score results, which the Bush Administration promptly hailed as "proof that No Child Left Behind is working." As usual, Eduwonk is the place to start. ... Anti-NCLB groups (e.g. the National Education Association) argue that since the NCLB had only been in effect for a year prior to the test, it can't be credited with the results. But as Education Week noted:
many states had already begun making such changes and focusing intensely on improving reading and math instruction after the 1999 national assessment and prior to the federal law's implementation.
There's a similar argument in the welfare debate: Why did all sorts of indicators (e.g., teen pregnancy, caseloads) start to improve in the years before the enactment of the 1996 federal reform? President Clinton attributed the results to state reform efforts that preceded the federal law. The case for a similar effect in education seems at least as strong, if not stronger. Weren't pre-NCLB state efforts to require more testing and accountability far more pervasive than pre-1996 state efforts to require more welfare recipients to work? ...
P.S.: The good news in education, of course, may in itself also be good news for welfare reform. One of the dreamier welfare reform theories, remember, was that kids whose parents worked (and who lived in neighborhoods in which more other kids' parents worked) would do better in school. Liberal writers have made big splashes by noting individual cases in which this dynamic did not seem to be at work, in part because welfare reform pushed poor single mothers to hold down jobs that took them away from their kids. All welfare reformers could say, in effect, was "Let's wait until we see how these big changes in neighborhoods play out across the whole population over many years." Well .... Certainly results like the NAEP's (which showed especially big gains for black 9-year-olds) make it harder to argue that the 1996 welfare law, by requiring mothers to take jobs and leave their kids, has had a negative overall effect on kids' school performance. ... 12:48 A.M.
"Not many big blogs are as independent and non-partisan as this one."
Heard It Through the Grapevine: When John Podhoretz floated the idea that jailed journalist Judith Miller was a source , rather than the recipient, of the Bush White House's knowledge of Valerie Plame's CIA job, I was skeptical. True, I'd "heard that too," as Karl Rove might say. And the notion was entirely plausible, for three reasons: 1)Reporters tell officials information all the time. Why? Because officials tend to take the calls of reporters from whom they learn things! And because reporters and officials are often tacit partners in an idealistic conspiracy--to reform welfare, for example, or to avoid reforming welfare, or to encourage the administration to go to war with Serbia, or with Iraq;2) Judith Miller is a logical candidate to have been a tacit partner of Bush administration hawks in pursuit of that last goal; 3) Miller had written about WMDs and might well have run into Plame (a WMD expert) in the course of her reporting.
The problem with the Judy-as-source speculation, it has always seemed to me, is that it doesn't explain anything that can't be explained by other, less exotic theories. Why isn't Miller's case just like Matt Cooper's--she's someone whom an official said he (or she) spoke with, or who turned up on a phone log, and from whom the special prosecutor wants the other side of the conversation? Why wasn't Miller's refusal to cut a deal with the prosecutor exactly what she said it was--an act of conscience and a refusal to betray a source--or exactly what the cynics said it was--a First Amendment martyrdom too eagerly pursued? And if, say, Karl Rove or Lewis "Scooter" Libby first learned of Plame's CIA status from a reporter, why didn't they just say that and exculpate themselves?
Well, now both Rove and Libby have done exactly that, as reported in an anonymously-sourced scoop that the New York Times inexplicably treats as hurting the administration. According to the NYT's source, Rove says that when Robert Novak called him he heard Plame's name from Novak, and "had heard parts of the story from other journalists." [Emph. added] As for Libby, Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post already reported back in late 2004 that Libby
has told the prosecutor he heard about Wilson's wife's employment from someone in the media, according to lawyers involved in the case. [Emph. added]
What's more, according to Schmidt, Time's Matt Cooper backed Libby upon that question:
Time reporter Matthew Cooper has told prosecutors that he talked to Libby on July 12 and mentioned that he had heard that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, a source knowledgeable about his testimony said. Cooper testified that Libby said he had heard the same thing from the media. [Emph. added]
[Update (7/17):Cooper's Time article denies that Libby told him he'd "heard about Plame from other reporters." Cooper is 100% honest, in my experience. So his denial also casts doubt on just how "knowledgeable" the knowledgeable sources are in the following 7/15 WaPo account of Libby's testimony, which would otherwise be a major advance for the press-as-leaker theory [emphasis added]:
Sources who have reviewed some of the testimony before the grand jury say there is significant evidence that reporters were in some cases alerting officials about Plame's identity and relationship to Wilson -- not the other way around.
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, has also testified before the grand jury, sayinghe was alerted by someone in the media to Plame's identity, according to a source familiar with his account. Cooper has previously testified that he brought up the subject of Plame with Libby and that Libby responded that he had heard about her from someone else in the media, according to sources knowledgeable about Cooper's testimony.]
This reported testimony of Libby and Rove--even though the latter could be coming from a suspect pro-Rove leaker, like his weaselly lawyer--surely makes it more plausible rather than less that "the media did it." And it's prompted the estimable Tom Maguire to join those broaching the Judy-as-source theory.
I'm still skeptical. It's been argued to me that the Judy-as-source theory--or, perhaps more precisely, the Judy-Told-the-White-House Theory--explains why Fitzgerald would pursue her testimony with such ferocity. Perhaps. If Fitzgerald believes Rove when Rove says he heard it from journalists, and if Miller is one of the journalists suspected of telling him, Fitzgerald could be trying to discover where Milller, in turn, got the info that she then passed on. If Fitzgerald disbelieves Rove, he could be trying to catch him out. Still, maybe Fitzgerald is pursuing Miller simply because he pursues everyone listed on a phone log with ferocity.
Likewise, it's possible Miller is protecting the source who originally told her rather than protecting any White House sources such as Rove or Libby. And it's possible she's foolishly trying to prevent what she assumes would be an embarrassing disclosure of her own actions--specifically, perhaps, her adoption of the press' common non-passive, idealistic role in the great conspiratorial Washington scoop-swap. But maybe she's just protecting a White House source after all.
I'm sure I could be missing something, but unless Libby or Rove has named Miller,** or she cracks, I don't see a way to disprove or prove the Judy-told-the-White-House theory. I do know, however, that this theory is what many MSM journalists, who know more about the case than I do, are worried about. ...
**--Of course, if Rove is in fact Miller's ally, and Miller was his source, he might conveniently not recall who his journalist source was.
Update: WaPo reports that "Rove has said he does not recall who the journalist was." ... P.S.: The Post's account is sourced to a "lawyer [who] who has knowledge of the conversations between Rove and prosecutors," which certainly sounds like Rove's lawyer. [Links via JustOneMinute ] ... 2:57 A.M. link
Isn't this an obvious point that hasn't been made about Joseph Wilson and the Rove/Plame controversy: If you accept an assignment to investigate possible WMD-related activity in Niger on behalf of the CIA, and your wife works at the CIA,shouldn't you think before you make your CIA mission the subject of a high-profile New York Times op-ed piece that there might be the eensiest weensiest chance that in the course of the ensuing controversy your wife's CIA connection might come out in public? How could Wilson not have expected his wife's job to become the buzz of Washington in fairly short order? ... However serious her outing was--and there are those eight redacted pages to worry about--doesn't Wilson bear some substantial responsibility for it as well as whoever in the administration eventually "outed" her to reporters? ... You can't have it all, we are often told. When you marry a covert CIA agent, maybe there are some things you have to give up. Like going on Meet the Press to talk about the CIA! ...
Update: Alert reader J.B. notes that, at the time of Wilson's op-ed, Plame was apparently identified by name as his wife on at least one Web site. That means anyone who dealt with Plame abroad (or wanted to call into question the loyalty of a foreigner who dealt with her) could Google her name and discover that she had a husband who--Wilson's op-ed revealed--had undertaken an assignment for the CIA. Not exactly great cover, even before the controversy the op-ed generated. ...
Backfill: Here's an amicus brief that blames the CIA for letting Wilson write the op-ed piece, if exposing Plame was such a big deal. ...
Update 7/18: Jerry Pournelle argues that "it was inevitable that it would come out, and both she and Joe Wilson must have known that." He makes at least two other sound observations: 1) Wilson is the "sort of man who clearly thinks he ought to be more important than he is;" 2)
One can make up a lot of plausible scenarios about what happened, including the simplest, that it was common knowledge and no one even thought about her being a covert employee of the Agency .
Double Super Secret Balkanization? Maybe I've missed something, but as far as I can see the New York Times still hasn't gotten around to giving its readers any taste, in its news pages, of the actual content of Matt Cooper's email in the Rove/Plame case. Isn't that odd? The LAT's done it. WaPo's done it. But if you search for the words "double super secret background" in the NYT, you won't find them. This is four days after Newsweek disclosed the content of the email. ... I know NYT readers live in a cocoon. But I can't quite figure out why Times newseditors would want to deny them this juicy information. ...P.S.: In general, very few news stories quote the part of the email that undercuts the anti-Rove line--boosted in today's NYT--that "the White House was trying to retaliate against [Plame's] husband," Joseph Wilson, as opposed to simply discrediting Wilson's report. ... Here's the semi-exculpatory part of rhw email Cooper sent to his Time colleagues:
not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger ...
The LAT's Simon and Schmitt do write that "Cooper noted in the e-mail that Rove was trying to raise concerns about the credibility of Wilson's report." But WaPo and the NYT news pages don't even paraphrase, as far as I can see. (There is also this NYT editorial, which both quotes and paraphrases--oddly enough providing a less selective and slanted account than the paper's news coverage). ... According to NEXIS, when it comes to MSM newspaper news stories, the actual, semi-exculpatory text of the email has only been printed in right-of-center outlets (e.g., Washington Times). This is pretty solid evidence of print-MSM balkanization, it seems to me. Here's a puny little email, which could easily be reprinted in its entirety. Everybody's writing about the controversy it generated--but only conservative news editors actually publish one of the key bits of evidence. ... 1:04 P.M. link
Tom Maguire has praised a 2003 Web article by Howard Fineman so often he finally pushed me into reading it. It's good--too good to actually publish in Newsweek, apparently! Mainly it describes the conflict between the CIA and the White House that provides the backstory for of the Wilson/Plame affair. ... That history explains--in a way yesterday's WSJ editorial misses--why the White House might have considered it more significant than it first appears that Wilson's wife works for the Agency. ... It's why, for example, Harold Meyerson is wrong when he writes that
Bringing up Plame, after all, did nothing to discredit Wilson's central findings. It was a distraction, an ad hominem attack.
If you think that CIA is a bunch of blindered Saddam-protectors, as (according to Fineman) the neocons did, then Plame's employment would do a lot to discredit Wilson's findings.
P.S.: And you could do worse than bet that Fineman's two-year old money quote will hold up:
I am told by what I regard as a very reliable source inside the White House that aides there did, in fact, try to peddle the identity of Joe Wilson's wife to several reporters. But the motive wasn't revenge or intimidation so much as a desire to explain why, in their view, Wilson wasn't a neutral investigator, but, a member of the CIA's leave-Saddam-in-place team.
1:30 A.M. link
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
100 killed in three train crashWatch Free
What do Floyd Abrams and Scott McLellan have in common? Judith Miller refuses to accept any formal "paper" waiver of confidentiality her source may have signed, arguing that any waiver commanded by higher levels of the bureaucracy is not really "freely given," in the words of her editor, Bill Keller. Fair enough. But did Miller even try to get a private, sincere, non-coerced waiver from her source? Her lawyer, Floyd Abrams, won't say:
Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, said that "with all the reporters who found ways around this, there was the impression that the New York Times was spoiling for a fight." But he added that there is no way to know for sure.
Turley said he found it "strange" that Miller and her attorney have said nothing about seeking a personal waiver from her source or sources. "That seemed to me a step they could have taken," he said. Abrams declined to address that point. "I can't go into whether she sought it, but I can tell you she doesn't have it," he said. [Emph. added]
Is that a non-answer we should let him get away with? Before he asks us to accept his client as a noble prisoner of conscience, shouldn't Abrams tell us if she in fact sincerely exhausted all the possible ways out? He could say, for example, "My client tried to get a personal waiver but wasn't able to." And if he doesn't say that, or something like it, doesn't that carry an unfortunate pregnant implication (the same way the weaseling of Rove's lawyer--who would only say that his client didn't "call" Matt Cooper--carried the implication that maybe his client was Cooper's source). The disturbing alternate possibility that, given Abrams' stonewall, we can't dismiss, is that Miller doesn't want to get a sincere waiver for some reason. 11:44 A.M. link
The Case Against Copyeditors, Installment 1,083. ... 2:30 A.M.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Stone can't help himself: Even in Rachel Abramowitz's LAT story, in which he's trying to reassure people he won't mess up Andrea Berloff's script by injecting his wacky, paranoid politics, Oliver Stone almost goes off on a rant:
The director himself thinks that a film about 9/11 should have "been done right away. I don't think you should run from things. You should confront them. It's better for the country. Look at the English [reaction to the recent London subway bombings]. They took it and absorbed it and continued on. They didn't run around and call for huge pieces of legislation costing billions of dollars to defend our homeland and create a huge war in a foreign country." [Emph. added]
He's against spending "billions of dollars to defend our homeland"? That's not even the liberal position. It's ... cracked. ... P.S.: Abramowitz argues
[I]t would be hard for a director to add explicit political content [to Berloff's script], with the two major protagonists spending most of the film in a hole, unaware that the towers have even fallen down.
But I can't believe it would be too hard. McLoughlin and Jimeno have a lot of time to talk to each other down there. (And to have flashbacks!) It would be easy for Stone to subtly downplay or mock or just ignore the extreme faith and patriotism of the Marine who found the two officers. 10:42 P.M. link
"I'm learning to celebrate my own spirit, my own being," she says.
During the W interview, the actress wouldn't part from Jessica Rodriguez, who is described as her "Scientologist chaperone." Rodriguez's role in Holmes' life remains vague, though Rodriguez says they're "just best friends" since meeting around the time Holmes met Cruise.
"You adore him," Rodriguez told Holmes when the actress was at a loss for words to describe her love.
Kf--the go-to site for all your Cruise-Holmes gossip! ... 7:25 P.M. link
Does Brad Grey Have NEXIS? Here's what Oliver Stone, the man Paramount CEO Brad Grey picked to direct the studio's upcoming 9/11 picture, had to say about those events a month after they happened, as reported in The New Yorker. It's the smoking gun on the grassy knoll! Stone depicts the 9/11 attack as a "revolt" against the "six companies who control the world" and "control culture, and control ideas"--not oil companies, in other words, but media companies. 9/11 was, in short, about him. (And Vietnam, of course.) He's profoundly confused, but he seems to know--emotionally, at least--which side he's on:
[O]liver Stone, another panelist, shook his head in disbelief. From the start of the discussion, Stone, the writer-director of such political films as "Salvador" and "JFK," had seemed jumpy, swivelling his thick neck like a turret gun at the sound of any foolishness or naïveté. Now his voice rumbled up from his chest and he began to illuminate the dark levers that move the film industry and, by extension, the world. "There's been conglomeration under six principal princes—they're kings, they're barons!—and these six companies have control of the world," he said, referring to such corporations as Fox and AOL Time Warner. His voice grew louder as his ideas took shape. "Michael Eisner decides, 'I can't make a movie about Martin Luther King, Jr.—they'll be rioting at the gates of Disneyland!' That's bullshit! But that's what the new world order is." There was a storm of applause. "They control culture, they control ideas. And I think the revolt of September 11th was about 'Fuck you! Fuck your order—' "
"Excuse me," a fellow-panelist, Christopher Hitchens, said. " 'Revolt'?"
"Whatever you want to call it," Stone said.
"It was state-supported mass murder, using civilians as missiles," said Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair and The Nation.
Stone wagged his head and continued. "The studios bought television stations," he said. "Why? Why did the telecommunications bill get passed at midnight, a hidden bill at midnight? The Arabs have a point! They're going to be joined by the people who objected in Seattle, and the usual ten per cent who are against everything, and it's going to be, like, twenty-five per cent of this country that's against the new world order. We need a trustbuster like Teddy Roosevelt to take the television stations away from the film companies and give them back to the people!" There was more applause, and a few uncertain murmurs. "Does anybody make a connection between the 2000 election"—for the Presidency—"and the events of September 11th?" he asked, and added cryptically, "Look for the thirteenth month!" He went on to say that the Palestinians who danced at the news of the attack were reacting just as people had responded after the revolutions in France and Russia. ...
"The new world order is about order and control," he said. "This attack was pure chaos, and chaos is energy. All great changes have come from people or events that were initially misunderstood, and seemed frightening, like madmen. Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Gates. I think, I think . . . I think many things." He explained how the World Bank, McDonald's, and the studios' response to the threat of a Writers Guild strike last year were all manifestations of the new global conspiracy of order.
"This is the time for a bullet of a film about terrorism, like 'The Battle of Algiers' "—Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 movie about the conflict between the French and F.L.N. terrorist cells in Algeria, in which the director's sympathies lie with the terrorists. "You show the Arab side and the American side in a chase film with a 'French Connection' urgency, where you track people by satellite, like in 'Enemy of the State.' My movie would have the C.I.A. guys and the F.B.I. guys, but they blow it. They're a bunch of drunks from World War II who haven't recovered from the disasters of the sixties—the Kennedy assassination and Vietnam. [Emphasis added]
Monday, July 11, 2005
Blogwatch Watch: The eagerly-anticipated Blogometer is out of beta. It's all the blogwatching you need! But is it more than you need? Blogwatchers seem to have a choice of a) tracking the cries of blogswarm as if they were reporting on the reactions of, say, stock traders or the Arab Street or b) viewing the blogosphere as a symbiotic engine of truth and focusing mainly on those bloggers (especially those with specialized knowledge) who actually advance the ball by adding new facts and analysis. The Blogometer strikes a pretty even balance between (a) and (b). I'd go 85% (b). ... P.S.: There are now so many meta-blogs it's time for a blog to track them all. ... 7:22 P.M. link
Bob Lutz Damage Control Operation # 65: Credulous, near-PR-quality Business Week story on General Motors executive Bob Lutz's efforts to "add pizzazz" to GM's products. I'm willing to believe Lutz is really, really trying, but David Welch doesn't even ask some obvious questions. For example, he lauds GM's globalized approach to car design, something automakers have been talking about for decades:
Even more important, each region will take the lead in developing platforms and parts for specific vehicle types. North America will engineer luxury cars and most trucks and SUVs. Europe will take the lead on compact and midsize cars. Australia will develop the underpinnings of some rear-drive cars, and GM's Korean Daewoo operations will work on subcompact cars and small SUVs. Says James E. Queen, vice-president for global engineering: "The big change is that these engineers are working on behalf of GM, not their specific region."
Huh? GM's Australian branch just did develop the underpinnings of rear-drive cars to sell in the U.S.---the Zeta chassis--and GM s--tcanned it! Maybe it was a good Australian chassis they stupidly killed. Maybe it was a bad Australian chassis they smartly killed. But either way, doesn't its cancellation suggest some flaws in GM's smoothly integrated global design machine? Wouldn't you think Business Week would bring this up? ... P.S.: My pro-union friends who say GM's problems are not UAW's fault but GM designers'fault (because many of the company's cars are well-built-but-dull) might note that the two faults are not unrelated. One of the difficulties Lutz has encountered is that:
New cars were developed so they could be built at GM's aging and inflexible plants, not to break new ground in the market.
Now, why do you think these plants might be "inflexible," while non-union Japanese transplant factories aren't? Could it be UAW work rules that limit the ability to shift workers around between different jobs and skill categories? 6:17 P.M. link
Free Oliver Stone! James Wolcott wonders why I said "Oliver Stone should be free to say what he wants."
Why not simply "Stone is free to say what he wants"?
One answer: Because it's not clear Stone is free to say what he wants. In fact, the sophisticated Hollywood insiders' defense of Paramount hiring Stone to direct a 9/11 movie--a defense echoed by Wolcott himself and even by Stone-skeptical Roger Simon-- is precisely that Stone doesn't have much freedom at all:
Of course, it is also possible that Oliver will pull this off and make a movie everyone will love. Here are my reasons: a. he has some chops as an action director (although maybe not as a writer anymore - that's the first talent to go... takes more work); b. he reads the handwriting on the wall - every Hollywood movie director is first and foremost a businessman and Oliver's career is in trouble; c. the studio will have him on a very short leash: no final cut, someone else's screenplay.-- Simon
Stone isn't weaving some original Fahrenheit 9/11 multivectored tapestry about the origin and execution of the WTC attacks, he's making a rescue mission movie based upon real events as dramatized in [Andrea] Berloff's screenplay. Kaus says he doesn't trust Stone not to add some "wacky" conspiracy angle to the script, but the project is so site-specific and is being pushed into production so fast that it's unlikely Stone is going to have the time and budget to turn into an elaborate fantasia. -- Wolcott
Are we sure? Does Paramount have an actual contract clause requiring Stone to stick to the script? Does Paramount want to deal with the P.R. fallout if Stone claims the final version of the film has been sanitized? I doubt it. This is the first big Hollywood movie about 9/11. It will be sent around the world. I do think Paramount has some cosmopolitian and humanitarian--if not (God forbid) patriotic--obligation not to put it in the hands of someone who has to be kept "on a very short leash" because of his previous dumb, left, conspiratorial hostility to the U.S. government.
That raises the second answer to Wolcott's question: I was clumsily trying to anticipate the cries of "censorship" should Paramount--as I hope it does--wise up and take the project away from Stone. Movies are a collaborative and expensive medium. If Oliver Stone has something to say does Paramount have an obligation to give him tens of millions of dollars to say it? If Stone wants to depart from Berloff's script, whose freedom of speech wins out? These are not, under ordinary circumstances, First Amendment or free speech questions. They're not free speech questions even if Paramount really agrees with Stone on everything--thinking, say, that America's democracy isn't all that much better than Cuba's--and only refuses to fund him because it cynically and weakly doesn't want to risk a commercial backlash from the unsophisticated red states! Wolcott concedes this: "The studio financing the project has the only vote of confidence that carries any significance ...." So the studio can do the responsible thing!
I'll concede that if the fear of backlash becomes great enough--so that nobody will consider funding a controversial movie, while people of unorthodox views are hounded out of the film-making business--then public dialogue becomes diminished. But we're a long way from having that problem, though Aaron Sorkin would rail against the New McCarthyism at the drop of a sitcom. If all that happens is Bill Maher has to move to HBO, CNN executives can't make unsubstantiated accusations, and Oliver Stone isn't entrusted with the memory of 9/11, I'd say we are on the safe side of the spectrum. ... 3:37 P.M. link
Sullivan: HIV Made Me More Modest! Oh, wait. Sorry. What he actually wrote was:
HIV transformed my life, made me a better and braver writer ....
Sunday, July 10, 2005
A Bin Laden vs. Zawahiri doctrinal dispute? I didn't know about it. Here's Amir Taheri from Friday:
Bin Laden has consistently argued in favour of further ghazavat[*] inside the West. He firmly believes that the West is too cowardly to fight back and, if terrorised in a big way, will do "what it must do". That view was strengthened last year when al-Qaeda changed the Spanish Government with its deadly attack in Madrid. At the time bin Laden used his "Madrid victory" to call on other European countries to distance themselves from the United States or face similar "punishment".
Bin Laden's view has been challenged by his supposed No 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who insists that the Islamists should first win the war inside several vulnerable Muslim countries, notably Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Until yesterday it seemed that al-Zawahiri was winning the argument, especially by heating things up in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yesterday, the bin Laden doctrine struck back in London.
Rove Trove: Watch the Newsweek/Isikoff space Sunday A.M. ... Here it is. [It's not much of a teaser if you only give them 60 seconds' advance notice.--ed Sorry. I forgot that "A.M." comes, like, right after midnight.] Nut graf:
Nothing in the Cooper e-mail suggests that Rove used Plame's name or knew she was a covert operative. Nonetheless, it is significant that Rove was speaking to Cooper before Novak's column appeared; in other words, before Plame's identity had been published.
In other words, the truth we thought we were asymptotically approaching yesterday now appears a bit closer: Without identifying her by name, Rove mentioned Wilson's wife's employment but did so in order to get reporters to pay less attention to Wilson's report, not (at least on the surface) in order to blow Plame's cover or retailiate against Wilson (and "stifle dissent"). ... Does that get Rove off the legal hook? I think it should--if Rove didn't intend the info to become public and trusted the reporters he talked with to be responsible. Rove's problem is that the statute doesn't seem to require an intent for the info to become public for there to be a crime; it only requires an act of disclosure. Specifically, it punishes anyone who "intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information." Matt Cooper would be such an individual. ... Other provisions in the statute require either a "pattern" of behavior and an intent to damage the U.S., but that's not true of the provision that would seem to most easily apply to Rove. ... But Rove still has the defense that he didn't know Plame was a "covert" agent being protected by "affirmative measures." ...
P.S.: WaPo Wipeout! The Washington Post gets embarrassed by Newsweek on two counts. 1) It's now pretty clear that WaPo's Carol Leonnig was conned by Rove's lawyer Luskin into swallowing his weaselly line that "Rove was not the source who called Cooper yesterday morning" to permit Cooper to testify. Rove may not have "called," but he apparently was the Cooper source; 2)WaPo's designated damage-repairer Dan Balz was then bamboozled too! He reported
Rove and Cooper spoke once before the Novak column was available, but the interview did not involve the Iraq controversy, according to a person close to the investigation who declined to be identified to be able to share more details about the case. [Emph. added]
It now looks like that was a "person close to the investigation who declined to be identified to be able to mislead Dan Balz"! ... Gee, who could it have been? ...
Backfill: At 11:25, Huffy David Corn got anticipatorily overexcited about the Newsweek story, arguing it offers "proof that the Bush White House was using any information it could gather on Joseph Wilson -- even classified information related to national security -- to pursue a vendetta against Wilson, a White House critic." [Emphasis added] I would say it shows the Bush White House was using what it thought was relevant information--but what it may not have known was possibly illegal information to disclose!--in order to discredit (or spin) Wilson's report. That's a big difference. In ignoring it, Corn exaggerates Rove's "political, if not legal, jeopardy." (Rove would be in even less political jeopardy, though, if his lawyer hadn't pretended he wasn't Cooper's source! Now it comes as a shock.) 12:01 A.M. link
Saturday, July 9, 2005
Keep Oliver Stone Away from 9/11! Is Oliver Stone really the person to direct a big-budget film about the rescue of Officers McLoughlin and Jimeno from the rubble of the World Trade Center? Stone has shown he has trouble leaving history alone (most famously in JFK); he'll probably have some wacky, conspiratorial left-wing theory to add into the script. ... The McLoughlin rescue is a surprising, moving, and patriotic story if you just tell it as it happened. Do you trust Stone to do that? I don't. ... Is Hollywood so out of touch it thinks Stone's version of 9/11 is what America is clamoring for? After Alexander, at that? ... Stone should be free to say what he wants. But it might be useful for Paramount's Brad Grey to hear that many Americans--including but not limited to a mob of salivating bloggers--aren't eager to provide Stone with a paying audience. ... Sharon Waxman Angle: Is this Grey's first significant misstep? ... Update: Roger Simon sees the international film market at work, and has some sharp-but-nuanced comments on Stone's talents. ... Backfill: If you doubt that Stone is a credulous Hollywood lefty--a charge that's often made too easily, I agree--read his Q & A with Ann Louise Bardach on the subject of Castro. Here's one example of many from that interview:
ALB: Did you ever think to bring up why he doesn't hold a presidential election?
OS: I did. He said something to the effect, "We have elections."
ALB: Local representative elections. But what about a presidential election?
OS: We didn't talk about it, especially in view of the fact that our own 2000 elections were a little bit discredited.
ALB: In the first film, Comandante, he asked you, "Is it so bad to be a dictator?" Did you think you should have responded to that question?
OS: I don't think that was the place to do it. … You know, dictator or tyrant, those words are used very easily. In the Greek political system, democracy didn't work out that well. There were what they called benevolent dictators back in those days.
ALB: And you think he might be in that category?
OS: Well, not benevolent to everybody, no.
Update: Stone's [*], but the story he's telling is about firefighters, relax--reader P.B. These were Port Authority cops, and they were initially rescued not by firefighters but by a crazy-brave patriotic super-Christian ex-Marine who drove down from Connecticut in his Porsche and walked out onto the burning rubble when the official rescue workers had been ordered off the pile for safety reasons. (See Rebecca Liss' account.) You think Stone is a) going to give this guy credit and b) acknowledge that his seemingly extreme military loyalty, patriotism and religious faith is what made his feat possible? I don't think so. And that's before we even get to the question of America vs. Al Qaeda. ...
*--Word omitted on advice of kf's inner lawyer. It wasn't that bad a word, really. ... 3:34 P.M. link
Friday, July 8, 2005
kf Wall of Plame! Dan Balz plays clean-up for his paper after WaPo's Carol Leonnig was apparently cruelly manipulated by Karl Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, into implying that Rove was not the source who released Matt Cooper from a confidentiality pledge earlier this week. The clean-up graf:
Cooper on Wednesday agreed to testify in the case, reversing his long-standing refusal after saying that he had been released from his pledge of confidentiality just hours before he expected to be sent to jail for contempt of court. In an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday, Luskin denied that Cooper had received a call from Rove releasing him from his confidentiality pledge. Yesterday, however, Luskin declined to comment on a New York Times report that the release came as a result of negotiations involving Rove's and Cooper's attorneys, nor would he speculate that Cooper was released from his pledge in some other fashion than a direct conversation with Rove. "I'm not going to comment any further," Luskin said.
In two other ways, however, Balz's article shifts the pendulum back in a pro-Rove direction:
1) It looked like trouble for Rove when Newsweek reported he'd talked to Cooper before Novak had made Valerie Plame's CIA connection public knowledge. But Balz suggests, admitttedly with less than 100% clarity and certainty, that the conversation wasn't about Plame:
Rove and Cooper spoke once before the Novak column was available, but the interview did not involve the Iraq controversy, according to a person close to the investigation who declined to be identified to be able to share more details about the case. [Emph. added]
But then why did it take so long for Rove to release Cooper to talk about it? ... Possibly Relevant or Irrelevant Development: Weaselly Rove lawyer Luskin calls the Newsweek story "70% wrong."
2) Balz pointedly notes that
Rove, who has testified before a grand jury investigating the case, likewise has maintained that he did not break the law, saying in a television interview, "I didn't know her name, and I didn't leak her name."
The clear hint here is that Rove's statements are carefully worded, and he discussed Plame's employment without using her name, as in (hypothetically) "You know his wife works for the CIA, don't you?" I assume that could still, in the right context, be a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act--but it also begins to seem more like the inevitable Washington spin grapevine at work (how could you not mention it once you knew, given that you'd assume it was going around?). Maguire notes a veteran WaPo reporter's reaction to a similar leak:
Walter Pincus of the WaPo got a leak on July 12, 2003 which contained all the info necessary to write the controversial Novak passage. He did not publish then, but wrote about it on October 12 in order to illustrate two points - other reporters than Novak had received similar leaks, and "because I did not think the person who spoke to me was committing a criminal act, but only practicing damage control by trying to get me to stop writing about Wilson."
Pincus himself (with Mike Allen) has written:
On July 12, two days before Novak's column, a Post reporter was told by an administration official that the White House had not paid attention to the former ambassador's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction. Plame's name was never mentioned and the purpose of the disclosure did not appear to be to generate an article, but rather to undermine Wilson's report. [Emphasis added]
Am I crazy, or does it seem like, with Balz and Maguire's guidance, we may be asymptotically approaching the truth? ...
P.S.: Maguire also suggests an answer to the "What About Bob?" question--Novak may simply have done what Pincus did, namely reach "an accommodation with Fitzgerald [after his] source identified himself to Fitzgerald and gave testimony." ...
P.P.S.: None of this means Novak should have outed Plame as a CIA "operative," or that the outing wasn't unpatriotic. ... 1:00 P.M. link
Thursday July 7, 2005
Buried Lede of the Year! The 22d and 23d graf of today's NYT story--even Adam "Paragraph Six" Nagourney never managed to put the big news that far down:
Mr. Cooper's decision to drop his refusal to testify followed discussions on Wednesday morning among lawyers representing Mr. Cooper and Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser, according to a person who has been officially briefed on the case. Mr. Fitzgerald was also involved in the discussions, the person said.
In his statement in court, Mr. Cooper did not name Mr. Rove as the source about whom he would now testify, but the person who was briefed on the case said that he was referring to Mr. Rove and that Mr. Cooper's decision came after behind-the-scenes maneuvering by his lawyers and others in the case. [Emph. added]
Last night, Rove's lawyer went all weaselly and Clintonian with Newsweek's Hosenball and Isikoff:
NEWSWEEK reported this week that one of Cooper's sources identified in internal computer e-mails turned over by Time this week is deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, told NEWSWEEK today that Rove "did not call Cooper" prior to today's court hearing, nor had the two of them "spoken" about the subject of waiving confidentiality.
But Luskin would make no other comments, including whether there had been any other form of communications between Cooper and Rove. [Emph. added]
Luskin's excessive cleverness about phone calls versus other communications, plus the NYT report, casts today's WaPo Luskin-based denial in grave doubt:
In an interview yesterday, he said Rove was not the source who called Cooper yesterday morning and personally waived the confidentiality agreement.
"Karl has not asked anybody to treat him as a confidential source with regard to this story," Luskin said
I don't understand why Luskin couldn't just admit that a) Rove was the one to whom Cooper was referring, if that's the case. Luskin had already admitted that b) Rove had talked to Cooper in 2003 before Valerie Plame had been publicly identified as CIA by columnist Robert Novak. I don't see how conceding (a) would place Rove in any more jeopardy. Rove's position depends on what he told Cooper, not whether Cooper thought it was confidential, no?
Does Luskin's weaseling mean we should parse his prior statements to Newsweek--in which he "said that Rove 'did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA' nor did he 'knowingly disclose classified information'--the way we would Clinton's? Or should we just dismiss them? Parsing seems potentially fruitful, since Luskin's clearly making an effort to not lie. (Example: Maybe Rove said that "Wilson's wife" worked for the CIA but didn't use the words "Valerie Plame") Lawrence O'Donnell's instincts in this matter are proving sounder than expected. ...
Backfill: Umansky noted the NYT's entombed scoop and WaPo's Rove pooh-poohing. (Q: How used does Carol D. Leonnig feel today?) ... Kleiman still thinks O'Donnell's analyzing the wrong criminal statute. Maguire takes issue with that, in the course of a review of the linkerature more comprehensive than this one. ... Iggy smells perjury. ... 2:11 P.M.
Bob Kuttner applies his steel-trap logic to the Plame case:
There are only two possibilities. Either Novak did tell the prosecutor the names of the officials who leaked the name and the prosecutor is going easy on them, or Novak refused and the prosecutor is going easy on Novak. Either explanation reeks of favoritism, selective prosecution, and cover-up.
I can think of a third possibility! Novak told the prosecutor the names of the officials who leaked the name and the prosecutor hasn't finished investigating the case yet. Duh! ... Remember, this is a crime that's not easy to prove. Showing that Suspect X leaked the CIA employment of Valerie Plame isn't enough. A prosecutor also has to prove, for example, that Suspect X knew Plame was a covert agent. Maybe Novak told Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, that Suspect X did blow Plame's cover, but couldn't give any evidence that X knew Plame was covert. Maybe it's evidence of the latter knowledge that Fitzgerald is seeking from Cooper and Miller. ... Or maybe Suspect X only confirmed Plame's CIA job to Novak after Novak had already found out about it from another official--so Fitzgerald is looking for a reporter for whom Suspect X was the original source. This theory has the virtue of of conforming to what Novak himself says happened. ... One way Kuttner might still be partly right: If Novak cooperated with Fitzgerald after getting permission to testify from the same confidential Bushie source who denied this permission to Cooper (until the last minute). But that would be Machiavellianism by the source, not favoritism by Fitzgerald. And Novak has written that his initial source was "no partisan gunslinger"--ruling out Karl Rove. Maybe--if Rove was indeed the second Novak source--Rove let Novak talk because Rove knew Novak couldn't incriminate him as the "first discloser." Cooper, perhaps, was a more dangerous witness. ... That theory (and it's just a theory) seems more plausible than Kuttner's assumption that the White House wanted to punish Time for being too "critical of the Bush administration." ... Update: Kuttner apologizes! ... 1:56 A.M. link
Wednesday July 6, 2005
Mission of Aspen: Arianna Huffington--another one of those bloggers who could write about anything she sees at any time and therefore has virtual blanket testimonial immunity under the Instapundit rule!--reports that the media bigs at the Aspen Institute are talking about nothin' but Rove, and have already mentally put Bush's top aide in the defendant's chair (even if they haven't convicted him). ... P.S.: Unlike Arianna, I don't worry that the MSM will take a dive on this story, if it turns out that Lawrence O'Donnell was right and "Rove Blew CIA Agent's Cover." I think it will be a big, juicy summer scandal. If ... Update: O'Donnell adds an uncharacteristically calm and useful post describing the gantlet any prosecution would have to run. He argues an indictment is conceivable because various judges have been convinced "a very serious crime" might have been committed. But the seriousness of the crime doesn't make it any easier to prove! Elements #2 (knowing Plame was "covert") and #3 (knowing "affirmative measures" were being taken maintain her cover) seem particularly tough, as O'Donnell himself notes. ... 9:02 P.M. link
Non-"professional" bloggers, too, could qualify, in the extremely unlikely event that A) they were actually compiling original data worth subpoenaing, and B) they had identified themselves to interview subjects as working on something to be published.
And here's Instapundit:
At any rate, a more relevant standard than "professional journalist" (though also not a First Amendment doctrine) would seem to be found in 42 U.S. Code section 2000aa, which forbids law enforcement agents from seizing "work product materials" or "other documents" possessed by a person "reasonably believed to have a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast or other similar form of public communication."
This statute ... speaks to purpose, not status. Whether or not you're a "real" journalist might, I suppose, have some small relevance in deciding whether you really plan to disseminate the work to the public, but that's not the test: So long as you have the necessary purpose, that's enough.
Following Kaus' First Law of Journalism--"Always generalize wildly from your own experience"--I doubt either of these definitions will do the trick. Go ahead and try to apply Instapundit's statute to me, or any other blogger. Anything we see in the course of living our lives could conceivably wind up desseminated to the public on our Web sites. I blog about my car, and the music I hear on the radio, my friends, my relatives. I blog about what I see going out to dinner. That's sort of the idea! I'm an observer of the American scene! Eric Sevareid used to have that job; now everyone has that job.
And it is my purpose--I hereby announce--to eventually, potentially, disseminate every damn little piece of information I come across, in my memoirs if nowhere else, unless I've promised (in aid of the larger, American-Scene project, of course) to keep it off the record. There. Everything I know is my "work product" and the government can seize none of it. I recommend that all bloggers out there adopt and announce the same purpose. Then the government won't be able to get your "work product" either. And all the people out there who aren't bloggers should pay blogger.com the $20 bucks or so [ actually, $0 ] it takes and become bloggers. Just for the privilege, as it were. Then the government won't be able to get anything from anybody.
You get the idea. Applied universally to the post-Web world, with reasonably non-elitist standards that I think Prof. Reynolds would find it hard to dispute, the proposed privilege quickly swallows up the rule that normally requires all citizens to offer evidence in court.
The same goes for Welch's standard, I think, though it's trickier, requiring journalists to identify themselves to their subjects. Will a blanket declaration do? If so, I hereby make it. How about a little button I could wear on my lapel--"I'm a blogger and I could write about any of this"? I doubt that even mainstream, credentialed reporters identify themselves to everyone they encounter in the course of their work. Did Earl Caldwell identify himself to all the shady characters he observed while doing his reporting on the criminal underground? If you report on a battle in Iraq, do you identify yourself as a journalists to all the soldiers? On both sides? If not, you might not be protected by Welch if you saw one of them do something relevant to a judicial inquiry--or if you would, then we could all protect ourselves just by identifying ourselves as bloggers to one person in the crowd. Update: And what about an anonymous source, as in the Miller and Cooper cases? There'd typically be no way to find out if bloggers had "identified themselves" to such a source without compromising the source's anonymity. Either that, or courts would have to take the reluctant blogger-witness' word for it.
Eventually the same dilemma looms: Either the privilege is a lot narrower than people like Welch would want it to be, or else--in a world in which everyone is a citizen/journalist--it swallows up a lot more of the testimonial obligation than they want to admit. That's why I'm driven to the highly eccentric democratic solution. ...
Update: Nice try, Dover! Delaware's much-praised statute requires 20 hours of work a week "obtaining or preparing information for dissemination." Not a hard standard for a blogger to meet. We write about what we see, after all--so all we have to do is keep your eyes open ("obtaining information") 20 hours a week. Most weeks I beat that easy! 8:29 P.M. link
Bruce Reed's "Has-Been" blog is up, and it's good! Excellent last graf. You can go a long way in this town mocking Democratic speechwriters' cliches. ... P.S.: "Not Yet Dead" would have been a better name for the whole blog, no? 1:53 A.M.
More Storytellin!It's everywhere! (But not here.) ... Actually, 24 minutes of storytelling on CBS every night might be a good idea. 24 hours of storytelling on CNN seems like a torture technique. ... 12:06 A.M.
Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides! Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty. Salon--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. Keller's 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's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. 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. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column ... [More tk]