Klein and petard w/5 hoist: In yet another big, inexplicably-timed story on Jon Klein's epic boastful flailing and water-treading at CNN--he's now "savoring small victories"!-- the NYT's Jacques Steinberg notes that CNN's viewership fell by 37,000 in prime time between 2004 and 2005, while Fox's viewership rose by 49,000. Ah, but "Mr. Klein discerned a silver lining"--among viewers 25-54 years old, those most "attractive to advertisers," it seems CNN "was up 9,000." ...That's 9 with three zeroes! ... But if it's 25-54 year olds who count, Steinberg eventually notes, MSNBC "has lately been gaining on CNN." Actually, reports TVnewser, in recent days MSNBC has been regularly beating Klein's network at 7 and 8 P.M. in this allegedly crucial demographic ... P.S.: Has any news executive ever achieved as high a ratio of media face time/results as Jon Klein? ... P.P.S.: Maybe he deserves it. Any old suit could figure out how to get beaten by ideologically-driven Fox. But it took a visionary genius to figure out how to also get beaten by MSNBC! ... 1:17 A.M.
Greenspan vs. the Gravy Train: David Smith wittily translates into understandable English Alan Greenspan's sharp parting critique of Fannie Mae--the famous taxpayer-subsidized gravy train for ex-pols--and its counterpart, Freddie Mac. ... As I understand it, Greenspan's point is that Fannie Mae does a fine job of creating a secondary market for mortgages, which helps everyone. (Mortgage lenders can then re-lend the money to additional homebuyers). But then Fannie Mae also uses its implicit federal bailout guarantee to simply trade assets on its own account, which is not only a) an easy way to profit from the taxpayer's de facto assumption of bailout risk (which lets Fannie Mae borrow money more cheaply than other investors can), thus helping Fannie Mae pay ridiculous multi-millon-dollar salaries to ex-pols who can lobby Congress to maintain the subsidy; but also b) actually turns out to create instability and the chance of a big crash. ... Recommendation: We should rein in this second activity, which a Senate bill does but the House bill doesn't. ... P.S.: But can't we also get some of those millions back from Jim Johnson? ... 7:09 P.M.
Veepswapping--Solving Bush's Heir Quality Problem: The possibility that Cheney would resign--allowing Bush to appoint and anoint a successor--seemed plausible before Cheney's hunting accident. It's probably less likely now, because Bush wouldn't want to be seen as having given in to the press mob. Still--as Peggy Noonan points out, drawing a stern CW rebuke from ABC's The Note--if Bush sees his legacy as Iraq he has to be thinking about how to guarantee he's followed by someone "who will continue his policy, and not pull the plug, and burrow through." ... You might say that if Bush hasn't at least considered the possibility of having Cheney resign--and if Cheney hasn't considered it too--then they should probably both quit immediately on the grounds that they lack the imagination necessary to govern. (He could become editor of The Note!) ... P.S.: The problem, in addition to those outlined by Noonan (e.g., 'nine enemies and one ingrate') is that anointment by Bush doesn't currently seem like such an advantage in the general election. Especially if you are semi-front-runner John McCain. Why would McCain want to be appointed Bush's VP? Right now, McCain is effectively separated from most of Bush's failures and mistakes. He can suggest he'd do things differently and propose dramatic reforms that aren't Bush's reforms--yet he can still be as conservative as he wants to be and cozy up to the Bushies as needed. It's the best of both worlds. ... It follows thatBush would only want to anoint a successor if he wanted to anoint someone other than McCain--if, for example, he deemed McCain an undesirable successor. ...
Backfill: Anti-Bush conservative Bruce Bartlett called for appointing and anointing a new VP back in 2004. He notes that Cheney wouldn't even have to lose influence--Bush could keep him on as a White House counselor. ("I'll get to spend more time with the president!") ... Update:NRO's Jim Geraghty floats some truly horrifying names, including Newt Gingrich and ("intriguingly"!) Alberto Gonazales. ... 4:55 P.M.
The Health Paranoid Report: As someone who, like many, filters his drinking water to eliminate the slightest trace of lead, I've wondered if Harry Whittington is really out of the woods if doctors leave bird shot in his body--assuming that the shot contains lead. This Slate Explainer is not very encouraging.
Still, numerous case reports and several studies have demonstrated that gunshot injury can cause lead toxicity. A recent survey of about 500 shooting victims in South Central Los Angeles found a significant and consistent increase in blood lead levels over the months following an injury.
The chance of getting lead poisoning increases with the number of bullet fragments or pellets you have lodged inside of you. A large number of very small lead pellets—perhaps like those lodged in Whittington's head, neck, and chest—would be the most dangerous on account of their large surface area.
Has the press determined yet whether the pellets had lead in them? ... P.S.: It's those "subtle but serious changes in cognition and concentration" that worry the most! ... Film at 11 [v]. ... 1:40 P.M.
Ford Nose: Harold Ford Jr., running appealing to the right in the Tennessee Senate race, isn't scared of departing from Democratic orthodoxy on Social Security: