In a cheap attempt to promote fratricidal strife, Adam "Ron-Brownstein-could-eat-me-for-lunch" Nagourney quotes my further-left brother Steve's blog post on Nancy Pelosi's Meet the Press appearance. Stephen Kaus is a trial lawyer and makes a good point many heavily-consultanted national politicians bizarrely ignore on TV:
Anyone who has seen a trial or a political debate knows that if you are to appear trustworthy, you have to answer the question. At least say, "I don't know," but for God's sake, say something that appears to be non-evasive. Ms. Pelosi does not do this. After Pelosi gave a list of Democratic programs, Russert asked her if the Democrats would repeal the Bush tax cuts to pay for all this and Pelosi simply refused to answer the question and went into a series of vague "everything is on the table" roundelays...
Afraid the other side will use the video clip of an honest answer against you in a campaign ad? Then embed a poison pill of propaganda in the middle of the sentence. Steve's suggestion: "[I]f we need to restore the taxes on the wealthy, like the President of Exxon-Mobil, to balance the budget, that is what we will do?" 5:06 P.M.
Remember those headlines last year about "Schwarzenegger's Star Dipping" and "The Fall of Arnold." It now appears that the candidate most likely to assume the governorship of California after the voters' rejection of Gov. Schwarzenegger's much-ballyhooed reform initiatives is ... Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bill Bradley senses the shift in momentum. How'd Schwarzenegger do it? Largely by acting like a Democrat (including cutting a deal with the teachers' union). ... 12:35 A.M.
Sorry, Ron! A bill in the California Assembly to allow either party to a divorce to restrict public access to financial data--"widely viewed as a favor to Ron Burkle, a billionaire grocery magnate and financier, who is fighting to shield records in his own divorce"--has been placed in the "inactive" file, according to the Bee papers. Women's "advocacy" groups were opposed. ... This is only one reason the Burkle story is so not dead. [Thanks to alert reader J.P.S. of N.Y.!]3:06 P.M.
Robert Wright accuses me of enjoying it when Democrats get bad news. Well, here's some! Despite the Democratic lock on both houses of the California state legislature--or maybe in part because of the Democratic lock--the Democratic percentage of the state's registered voters has been steadily declining. Steve Bartin flags Dan Walters' lede in the Sacramento Bee:
State election officials released new voter registration data late last month and they were bad news for Democrats.
The Democrats' share of the state's 15.6 million registered voters, 42.7 percent, is 2.5 percentage points lower than it was four years ago, 4.1 percentage points lower than it was eight years ago, and 6.2 percentage points lower than it was 12 years ago. There are, in fact, about 200,000 fewer registered Democrats than in 1994, even though the number of potential voters has risen by nearly 4 million since then and the number of registered voters is up by 1.5 million. [Emphasis added]
Walters thinks he knows why: "[T]he slower-growing _ but very populous _ urban counties along the coast are becoming increasingly Democratic, while the faster-growing inland counties are becoming increasingly Republican." But the urban counties are mainly filling up with immigrants--and they "are either ineligible to vote, or vote only scantily." ... The real growing group of voters--jumping from 10 to 18 percent in a decade--is independents. They're a sleeping giant! ... P.S.: Or maybe not so sleeping, as the former Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, union favorite Phil Angelides, is about to discover. ...5:53 A.M.
poll found considerable opposition to the strict measures being pressed by conservative Republicans in the House.
About 60 percent of respondents said they favored the plan proposed by some Republicans in the Senate that would permit illegal immigrants who had worked in the United States for at least two years to keep their jobs and apply for citizenship. [Emphasis added]
But the poll did not test whether voters favored enacting the legalization plan over, say, not enacting the legalization plan. It tested the plan only against something nobody is seriously proposing, mass deportation. Here's the actual poll question that produced the 60 percent result:
If you had to choose, what do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at leat two years: They should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status OR they should be deported back to their native country. [Emphasis added]
Note also the usual benign qualifiers applied to the Times' favored policy--"chance" and "eventually." ... 1:54 P.M. link
Pssst! Bush is still has a higher favorable rating** than Kerry! And, more surprisingly, than Gore. (At least according to the NYT poll's buried lede.) ...
**--I originally wrote "more popular," but--as several emailers and Mystery Pollster note--while Bush's favorable rating is, in fact, a bit higher than Kerry's or Gore's, his "not favorable" rating is more than a bit higher. .... Still, those are amazingly bad "favorable" numbers for Kerry and Gore. Don't the losing candidates typically rise in the polls when the President who beat them gets in trouble? ... 1:09 P.M.
Fast and Sloppy Rules: The publisher of the Daily Gotham chastises the New York Times for failing to block her and other outsiders from posting to its unreleased New York politics blog:
You've overlooked what I would consider a huge detail in blog development : You never, ever leave the login permissions open while mired in testing and development.
"Testing," ... "development"? Wow. People actually do those things! And criticize others for not doing them! Sounds like creeping professionalism to me. ... Of the two modes of product launching--(1) Rational, systematic testing and development, with dry runs and mock issues before anything becomes public, or (2) Just start doing it and fix anything that sucks--I've always found that (2) is not only more fun, it's vastly more efficient. Dry runs are soul-killers. Nobody really puts their heart into a mock issue, and there's no substitute for feedback from actual readers. ... Approach (2) was preferable even for print publications, I claim. (That's how Newsweek'sCW Watch started, for example. The first few weeks were bad!) On the Web, where mistakes can be erased and problems fixed retroactively, it's not even close.** If the New York Times is being sloppy with its new blogs, that's a good sign! ...
**--The exception, illlustrated by the LAT's "wikitorial" experiment, would seem to be when any initial errors will be seized on by powerful enemies of innovation. A wikitorial was a perfectly reasonable thing for the Times to try--all the more reasonable because it seemed slightly crazy. When hackers managed to post child porn to the site, the entrenched Times bureaucracy and outside Times critics rose as one and said, "See!" The paper retreated, validating the idea that this was a horrible black eye. An alternative would have been to fix the security problem and let the experiment continue. The wikitorial would have survived or died a natural death due to disinterest--and we would have found that out much quicker than if the feature had been "tested" and "developed." It's the exception that proves the rule!
Just as often, it's critics who overreact to an initial, sloppy launch who wind up looking like fools. Remember when Nikki Finke, after the Huffington Post had been up for a few hours, wrote that it was
the sort of failure that is simply unsurvivable. Her blog is such a bomb that it's the movie equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate rolled into one.
A year later, tell it to the American Society of Magazine Editors! ... [Via OJR via Romenesko ]12:26 P.M. link
Bush's Polls--The Simplified Model: John Podhoretz argues that the immigration and spending issues can't be causing the drop in Bush's poll numbers among Republicans because
he had the same immigration plan in 2004 and spent like a sailor in his first term and still had over 90 percent support during that election year.
That might go for spending, but not immigration. Bush wasn't actively pushing the immigration plan that year, was he? And it wasn't moving through the Senate. And it wasn't on the front page. And there weren't giant media-hyped marches. Podhoretz can't bring himself to admit the obvious--that Bush's push for a "comprehensive" semi-amnesty immigration plan has been a disaster for him. Thanks presumably to Iraq and Social Security he was down to his base of 45 percent or so--and then he willfully did something that pissed off half of them. It seems pretty simple. ... P.S.: Byron York tries to complicate the picture, depicting a "three-step process." But he can't complicate it very much.
... Bush is losing support among those who have supported him for years. Why?
A look inside the latest numbers suggests several reasons, but it appears the president's stand on immigration is the biggest drag on his support among Republicans—even more damaging than the disapproval caused by rising gas prices.
Of several issues specifically covered by the Gallup poll—the economy, foreign affairs, the situation in Iraq, terrorism, immigration, and energy policy—immigration is the only area in which more Republicans disapprove of the president's policy than approve. And they disapprove by a significant margin: 52 percent of Republicans in the survey disapprove of Bush's immigration policy, versus 40 percent who approve. [Emphasis added]
Bush has lost support on other "issues" mentioned in the poll, but nothing like the seismic collapse on immigration. Can we really read a lot into, say, the relatively "high" Republican disapproval of Bush's handling of the economy--still only 26%? (71% approve.) If Republicans are disgusted with Bush over immigration, wouldn't you expect his approval across a whole range of seemingly unrelated issues to decline?
More: On RCP, Ryan Sager argues that a hard line on immigration hurts Republicans in Western swing states, and helps them only in Southern states they've got locked up anyway. Problems with this thesis include 1) Sager seems to assume Bush had to make a big deal of immigration one way or another. He didn't. He could have kept it backburnered; 2) Bush's immigration-battered national poll ratings, however they're geographically distributed, are sapping his efficacy across the board every day and giving the press a club with which to beat him; 3) Even with Bush making immigration a big issue, Sager points only to three contested Western House seats where a hard line hurts Republicans. In none does he show that the issue is decisive, or that Republican candidates aren't able to soften their stand if necessary to fit their constituency. Are there no three contested seats elsewhere in the country--the Northeast, say--where a hard line is helping the GOP candidate? 1:49 A.M. link
Chuck Schumer can't act. But Bloomberg can! Who knew? 1:22 A.M.
Which Goss exit story is more damaging to Bush: 1) The story the anti-Bush left is pushing, involving hookers and poker; 2) The story the Bushies are pushing, which is that Goss was a disaster Bush imposed on the struggling CIA for 18 crucial months? Sullivan says #1. Bloggingheads disagree. ... 2:36 A.M.
I take it back--Jonathan Klein really is a genius! His networks' ratings are down 38% in prime time, and he gets the LAT's TV columnist to focus on ... a decline of half as much at competitor Fox! (Headline:"A ratings downer for Fox News.") Patterico is prosecuting the case. ... P.S.: At least Klein didn't offer a memorably mockable excuselike "We're down because we had such a phenomenal year last year."** ... Oh, wait.
**--Last year's excuse was "we haven't even started trying yet." 11:33 P.M.
Hayden, Trailblazer: I'm finding it hard to get suitably alarmed about the grave constitutional danger of an Air Force general taking over the CIA. Hosenball flags a more troubling issue:
In an exhaustive investigation published in January, the Baltimore Sun, the NSA's hometown newspaper, also raised questions about the NSA's management, during Hayden's tenure, of a major classified project called Trailblazer. This project was supposed to modernize the agency's entire system for processing and sorting out "Signals Intelligence" reports—raw, and later, evaluated intercepts of messages collected by the NSA's worldwide eavesdropping network. One intelligence expert told the Sun that Trailblazer was "the biggest boondoggle going on now in the intelligence community." An intelligence official familiar with the program told NEWSWEEK that Congressional investigators now believe that much of the money that was poured into the program was wasted, and that Hayden's successor at NSA has now "abandoned" significant elements of Trailblazer.
Can't Get Enough About Third Parties:Mystery Pollster says he's "not convinced that immigration has yet become an issue of as 'paramount political concern'" as the issues that have historically produced third parties. That's almost certainly true. What MP overlooks, I think, is that the barriers to third party formation are dramatically lower than they used to be. It takes less, in the way of issue salience or personal ambition, to overcome them. .. . What, exactly--other than a first-mover advantage and often-negative "branding"--do the two existing parties have that can't be duplicated un a couple of months via the Internet, a few petitions and some lawsuits by a disaffected maverick or one of Lawrence O'Donnell's bored billionaires? If McCain doesn't get the GOP nomination, I wouldn't be surprised if he went the third party route. Heck, if Hillary doesn't get the Democratic nomination, I wouldn't be surprised. ... 8:59 P.M.
Which vehicle has more "domestic content"--that is, percentage of parts value from the United States and Canada--the Toyota Corolla or the new Chevy Tahoe? I wouldn't ask that question if the answer weren't the Corolla--with 75% domestic content, according to the Detroit Free Press' calculation. The new Tahoe has only 67%--25% of its content is from Mexico. ... I always figured inexpensive small cars like the Chevy HHR and Cobalt were in large part Mexican. I didn't realize GM's huge gas guzzlin' SUVs were heavily Mexico-sourced as well. Not that there's anything wrong with that! If you don't want unfettered immigration from Mexico then it makes sense to buy products that create decent jobs in Mexico. [Update: But see the WSJ's not-quite-convincing contrarianism on this point.] Still, you have to wonder if the price of maintaining Big Three UAW assembly jobs in the U.S. is the outsourcing of more and more parts overseas.** Honda, by way of contrast, doesn't have to support the UAW and is able to source 75 percent of its Pilot and Ridgeline vehicles domestically. Some 80% of the Toyota Tundra is domestic. ...
P.S.: What's Wrong with the Wagner Act Unionism, Part XXVIII: The UAW is only now concluding a drawn out, teeth-pulling, plant-by-plant reduction in the elaborate work rules and job classifications that have been built up over the decades. "One Chrysler official, who asked not to be identified, said changes included in the framework agreement are so significant that it is doubtful the union would have considered it five years ago." Non-union Japanese manufacturers' U.S. factories, in contrast, have never had such a cumbersome structure to dismantle. They've been building cars, not job categories. ... [ via Autoblog]
**--Many Corollas are in fact built by UAW workers at the quirky joint-venture GM and Toyota plant in Fremont, California. That doesn't change the general point that more heavily-unionized and work-ruled GM may face more pressure to use parts from cheaper-labor countries. 8:40 P.M.
OK, forget emo! Emo is so yesterday: Visionary CNN chief Jonathan Klein basks in another triumph: He proclaimed Anderson Cooper "the anchorperson of the future" and pushed out Aaron Brown to make room for him. The only problem is that Cooper isn't attracting many viewers. [Klein never said he was the anchorperson of the present--ed There's your spin!] [ Via Drudge] 2:16 A.M.
Die Gosserdammerung, Act II: Newsweek's identification of "Nine Fingers"--a Porter Goss aide who apparently played in a controversial, contractor-linked poker game with the CIA's #3, "Dusty" Foggo--actually jibes with Larry Johnson's surprisingly pro-Goss (and poontang-inclusive!) account of Goss's departure. Johnson argues that it was a Goss aide, not Goss himself, who championed Foggo's promotion to #3.. ... P.S.: But Newsweek says "the agency's problems may only get worse, and one reason is Foggo." Huh? Isn't it clear that Foggo won't be at the agency much longer? ... 5/8 Update: Already gone. ... [link via TPM ] 1:42 P.M.
Expat Power: I've always assumed that allowing Mexican-Americans to vote in Mexican elections was a terrible idea--assimilation, divided loyalties, and all that. Bill Mundell argues it's a great idea even from a purely U.S. perspective. Mexican expats, he says, are the "natural constituency" for the sort of U.S.-style economic reforms that might transform the Mexican economy into something offering enough opportunity to actually retain Mexican workers. Unfortunately, Mundell can't identify any of the three major candidates in Mexico's upcoming election as the sort of reform party he has in mind. ... Update: A fuller discussion of this topic, on video. ... 1:05 A.M.
More Fun With Third Parties: A Rasmussen robo-poll recently showed that "a 3rd party Presidential candidate with a pro-enforcement immigration agenda would theoretically end up in a virtual tie with a generic Democrat" and trounce the generic Republican. Mystery Pollster speculated that Rasmussen's poll reflected more desire for the third party than desire for a pro-enforcement immigration policy. Now, showing responsiveness to Web commentary rare in a pollster, Rasmussen has tested MP's hypothesis by duplicating his third-party candidate poll--except this time the candidate's agenda is "government-backed universal health care." The result: The "health care" third party tied for first with the generic Republican, with the generic Democrat trailing by 4 percentage points. Says Rasmussen:
The 28% support for the third party candidate is very similar to the 30% total received in the previous survey by the pro-immigration candidate. But, while the immigration candidate drew equally from both parties, the Universal Health Care candidate cost the Democratic candidate 18 percentage points while the Republican lost just six. [Emphasis added]
That still seems like a vindication of MP's hunch. But Rasmussen argues that
Because immigration cuts across the typical partisan and ideological lines, it may have more potential to shake up political status quo than other issues.
Which makes a certain amount of sense, doesn't it? The "third party" candidate Rasmussen sketched was really a super-Democrat, fighting for the votes on the left side of the spectrum. His party would either supplant the Dems or be absorbed by them. (In the meantime, it might elect Republicans.) A pro-enforcement immigration candidate, in contrast, could seize the center and at least potentially dominate politics until a Downs-approved 50-50 equilibrium was somehow restored. ... Suggestion: To measure the specific power of the immigration enforcement issue, test it against another potential centrist issue, like deficit-reduction, or trade restriction. I bet an anti-illegal immigration third party does better than an anti-trade third party. ...
P.S.: Does Rasmussen's result mean an immigration enforcement/universal health care third party would win big? I'd vote for it! True, the number of Republicans alienated from the "immigration" party by "universal health care" might outnumber Dems attracted by that idea. But it might not--there are obviously a whole lot of Democrats attracted by universal health care. ...Update: See Thibaud's comments here. ... 12:40 A.M.
Today on television! I interview Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on the octopus-like bloggingheads.tvnetwork about his lively new FDR book. ... The interview is mainly a Bush vs. Roosevelt grudge match, but I do get around to asking Alterwhy we should be exalting the New Deal when the whole point of neoliberalism was that the New Deal isn't working anymore. Didn't Dem rethinkers proclaim "The New Deal is dead" after the 1972 demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis? Alter's response surprised me, but it's clarifying. ... P.S.: I'd still argue the biggest problem with the New Deal's legacy wasn't the Democrats' rigid adherence to FDR's means but an inherent and ultimately short-circuiting ambiguity about ends (specifically, was the Democratic goal social equality or "more" income equality). 12:09 P.M. link
I Wouldn't Have Put It That Harshly Dept.: Former New York Times "public editor" Daniel Okrent, interviewed in New York Magazine, on the NYT's emailin' machine (and author of incomprehensibly angry and misguided award-winning pieces about the auditing of the Earned Income Tax Credit)
The only person you really single out in the intro is business reporter David Cay Johnston, who started a campaign against you for being on a corporate board.
Yeah, he was very single-out-able. I didn't mention this in the book, but when I had my troubles with Johnston, one of the senior editors said to me, "There are three things you must understand about Johnston: He's a Pulitzer Prize winner, he's a unique talent, and he's an asshole." I'm convinced that at least two of those are correct.
Note to Johnston: If you have a reply of the same length, I'll print it. All responses on the record. Special rule for you! If you aren't willing to see it published, don't send it. ... 10:51 A.M. link
When the MSM is Pravda: Today's go-to site for the irresponsible Porter Goss speculation in which all responsible observers must now engage. ... Update: But see JPod's sensible caveat ... and Wonkette's alternative explanations. ... P.S.: Those links are from the excellent roundup at SFPH, via Instapundit. ... Maguire places his bet. ... This is also a case where the speculation is almost certainly more fun than actually knowing the truth, even if the truth turns out to be salacious. Don't spoil it, Hosikoff, with all your "journalism." ... Update: The New York Daily News thinks it has the fun-spoiling salacious answer. When the official pro-administration spin is that everyone hated him and he'd had his balls cut off, you do have to wonder what the unofficial, anti-administration story is. ... Headline still up for grabs: "No Great Goss!" ... Also: "Gosserdammerung!" ... 12:25 P.M.
Sending bricks in the mail to Congress to indicate support for a border wall--now that seems like potentially a highly effective bit of political theater. ... Here's a site organizing the stunt. ... Remember, a wall or fence is not necessarily a "conservative" solution. (See below.) It seems less disruptive--to illegal workers, especially--than other methods of border enforcement, including "interior" enforcement by requiring employers to check documents. And the better the wall, the easier it is to eventually legalize those on this side of it. ... 12:01 A.M.
kf Swoons: On RCP, Democratic former House member Brad Carson makes a reasonable, sophisticated argument that limiting illegal immigration should be a Democratic issue. Carson sneers refreshingly at the "misplaced fantasies" of Democrats who hold out education as a cure for the stagnation at the bottom of the labor market. And he adds a political angle:
For Democrats, fighting illegal immigration would not only be good policy, but would have the welcome effect of being good politics, too. Democrats' major political obstacle is the increasingly intractable opposition of the non-union working and middle class, exactly the groups who most fervently oppose illegal immigration. While the opponents of immigration no doubt include nativists and xenophobes, the vast majority of those who oppose illegal immigration do so on sound public policy grounds. Illegal immigration is seen rightly as a threat to their economic livelihood. So when the Republican Party offers a platform that not only comports with their social and religious beliefs, but also addresses the one economic threat that is open to government solution, is there any wonder that the working and middle classes find solace in the GOP? [Emphasis added]
I didn't know Congressmen, or ex-Congressmen, could think and write clearly without cliches. If Carson hadn't lost his Senate race, he'd be a contender to be party's centrist savior from Hillary, no? I can't see Evan Bayh writing something like Carson's post. ... Update: Here's a MyDD post on another well-written Carson piece. ... 2:09 P.M.
Bradley swoons: New West Notes' Bill Bradley starts to swoon for S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom, Joe Klein style. It seems Newsom's "unprogrammed"! ... Bradley also writes:
Newsom, as you may have heard, elected as a centrist, did this little gay marriage thing that for a time turned the City by the Bay into even more of a mecca than it had been and prompted many conventional politicians to say that he would cost Democrats the national elections. Which, as it happened, he did not. [Emphasis added]
Huh? Last time I looked, the Democrat lost the national election. But with a switch of 60,000 votes in Ohio he would have won. You don't think 60,000 Ohioans were motivated by opposition to gay marriage? Of course Newsom's elevation of the gay marriage issue cost the Dems the election. Just as about 25 other things cost the Democrats the election. ... P.S.: And tell it to Brad Carson! ... 1:42 P.M.
Yesterday's fuss today at kf: My colleague Robert Wright defends the Spanish National Anthem ("Nuestro Himno") as a heartwarming expression of patriotism expressed in Spanish. The trouble is some of the new lyrics--"My people fight on. ... The time has come to break the chains." Sounds like a political expression of ethnic identity and uprising, not patriotism, to me. Or, rather, it's taking a symbol of national identity and turning it into an expression of ethnic identity, which seems worse. ... Or do you think that's the American "people" they're talking about? 1:09 P.M.
El Dia de Los Abuelos? Last week, the Bush administration's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency arrested a few hundred illegal immigrants, a move widely dismissed (here and elsewhere) as a for-show bust. But this minor blip in enforcement apparently frightened thousands of illegals into staying home from work, at which point the ICE felt moved to announce that nobody should worry because they didn't really intend to enforce the law after all.
The whole semi-comical chain of events drove home a point I'd overlooked: It's not enough to say you are for "enforcement first," and legalization later--my position--if the "enforcement" you're talking about is a (highly desirable) effective system of employee document checks. That system--again, if it's effective--would if applied across the board immediately throw millions of illegals out of their jobs. What would they do? Some would self-deport, presumably. But what about those with deep U.S. roots? Would they join the underground economy? Hang out on the corner? Become criminals? I don't know, and I don't particularly want to find out.
Two consequences follow from that realization:
1) Any system of employer-based enforcment should probably be applied only to new hires, not existing employees. Existing illegal employees wouldn't be "legalized," but they wouldn't be subjected to non-charade, computerized checks of their social security cards, for example. They'd just continue working as before.
2) A border wall or fence, widely denounced as the crude favored scheme of the meanest, yahoo, Know-Nothing elements of the Republican House, is in fact the most compassionate enforcement solution. A wall intrinsically blocks only new entrants. It's a physical grandfather clause! It leaves current illegals where they are. ...
Would this "grandfathered" solution--leaving existing illegals working in their current jobs--amount to legalization or amnesty, and thus act as an incentive to would-be illegals still on the other side of the border? I don't think so, because the benefit of already being here--being left alone--would only be valuable to the extent border controls were effective. If the border remained porous, existing "grandfathered" illegal workers would only have obtained the ability to avoid border controls that were meaningless anyway. If the border controls weren't meaningless, would-be illegals now in Latin America and elsewhere would have an incentive to sneak into the country and work--in the hope of being grandfathered-in later--but by the same token they'd have less ability to do so. (They'd have to get over a wall and get around an effective system of employer-based document verification.)
Also, the existing, left-alone "grandfathered" illegal workers a) still wouldn't be legal and b) couldn't change jobs without subjecting themselves to the non-phony, computerized document check. Eventually, as they left those jobs, they'd be put to the same choice (self-deport, or work underground, etc.) as would have been put to them if they'd never been "grandfathered." But the process would be drawn out over years. And by then, there might be a guest worker program for which they could qualify (perhaps by returning home and waiting at the end of the line, perhaps more easily). ...
Less Bangle for Bucks: My idea of a good looking new car. 6:24 P.M.
Evan Coyne Maloney has come up with a computer program that automatically generates Bob Herbert columns by recombining anti-Bush paragraphs from previous columns. They all read about the same. ... You could never do that with kausfiles! [Pinch, Burkle, Bangle, Borders, Pinch, Bangle, Borders, Burkle--ed OK. OK. Please don't.] Via Instapundit. 2:41 P.M.
Not So Klein: At an L.A. party for his book Politics Lost, Joe Klein advanced an intriguing, optimistic thesis relating 1) the need for a candidate who exhibits humanity and competence, in part by expressing occasional deeply-felt heterodox, inconvenient, authentic views (as opposed to safe poll-tested views); 2) the rise of the interactive, 24/7 Web. ...
Klein's idea--which is not, as far as I can see, in his book--is that trend 2 is the cure for problem 1. Specifically, the modern poll-tested, consultant-emasculated candidate is the product of the TV age, in which the idea was to come up with one Roger-Ailes-approved video clip each day, which the networks then beamed to the masses. But the Web demands more. Candidates will now be expected to actually interact with online voters, which requires at least some spontaneity and broad knowledge. Bob Forehead would never cut it as a blogger, or a chat guest. A liberated-from-his-consultants Al Gore has a shot. At the very least, the web requires immediate, spontaneous reactions to events on a cycle too rapid to war-game and focus-group. ... That's the hope, anyway. Just because Klein's idea summons technology as a sort of deus ex machina to solve previously intractable poblem doesn't make it wrong!
Unlike Instapunditish arguments, Klein's scenario doesn't count on the wisdom of empowered little guys. It counts on the wisdom of emperiled big guys. That may make it more plausible, or less plausible. But its technological determinism isn't obviously misguided. The link between broadcast technology and the rise of filtering, "message"-shaping consultants seems pretty solid, after all. Why shouldn't Internet technology favor a different arrangement? Campaign press secretaries are already whining that they don't have time to "call three consultants" before answering blogger queries. They have to actually know the answers themselves beforehand! Scary. Maybe soon even the candidates will have to actually know the answers. Speechwriter David Kusnet has declared that, thanks to the Web, "authenticity is the new eloquence"--though he's trying to tell a new generation of speechwriters how they can fake it for their bosses. It seems simpler to just have an authentic boss.
But doesn't the Internet also empower all the interest groups to which even authentic politicians have to appeal? That might make candidates more packaged and robotic. Not only does the Democratic nominee have to say the correct thing to differently-abled gays and lesbians, but the differently-abled gays and lesbians now have a website and email program that gets word of any deviance out to their members immediately. Klein's authentic Webbish candidate would have to have the appeal to roll over these empowered lobbies.**
McCain's presidential run should be a good test of Klein's thesis. McCain seems like the perfect, spontaneous 24/7 candidate, having pioneered the required techniques in the pre-blog era on his famous bus. And as an independent or third party candidate, McCain would be able to take full advantage of his chatroom-ready personality. The problem is that he's running in a Republican primary where saying the right things to the right Right constituents might be very important--and communicating quirky authenticity to the mercurial middle will be not-so-important.
The institutional technology of lobby-dominated party primaries, not the electronic technology of communication, could turn out to be the ur-cause of the consultant problem Klein identifies. If the Web is going to fix our politics, I suspect it will have to undermine the two-party system first. (Which it might! Remember the "party in a laptop" debate of 2003-4.)
**--Note that the problem Klein wants solved is the Candidate Inauthenticity problem. Interest groups stand in the way of its solution. Others (me, I think) might say that interest groups don't just prolong the main problem of our political system. They are the main problem. The trouble with the teachers' unions isn't that they require consultant-led candidates to robotically and inauthentically oppose teacher accountability and school choice. The trouble is that they ruin schools! A candidate who could robotically and inauthentically defeat these unions would be fine, even if he was no fun to cover. "Authenticity" in a candidate--a quirky position on guns, for example--is a desirable trait simply because a) it's an indicator the candidate might also defy his own interest group supporters on another, bigger issue: schools, or the budget, or war, or immigration, or social security and b) he might be generally popular enough to pull it off. But authenticity isn't an end in itself. ...
Update: There's a short video discussion of Klein's idea here. [That's a "dingalink"--it takes you to the exact right spot on the video, the way a permalink takes you to the exact right spot on a blog.] 2:28 A.M.
Poll Call: 1) Mystery Pollster suggests the Rasmussen poll showing support for an immigration-enforcement third party doesn't demonstrate the appeal of the immigration issue so much as the appeal of a third party "regardless of the issues involved." Could be. But it shouldn't be hard to test: re-run Rasmussen's poll using another issue (e.g., pork-barrel spending and the deficit) as the third party's focus. ... 2)Pajama Guy raises some reasonable objections to the always-suspect L.A. Times poll on immigration policies. ... I did think the paper tipped its hand when it whether voters "support or oppose" a proposal that would
Allow undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for a number of years, who do not have a criminal record, who are kind to their mothers and determined to leave a better world for their children, who laugh, love, live and learn with a joyous intensity, to start on a path to citizenship by registering that they are in the country, paying a fine, getting fingerprinted, and learning English, among other requirements.
The wording was something like that, anyway. As Pajama Guy notes:
It's touching to see how they lovingly describe the guest worker program and make tougher enforcement sound quite harsh.**
**--"One proposal is to fence off hundreds of miles of the border between the United States and Mexico ..." That one's not a joke. 11:09 P.M.
Really? From CBS story earlier this month:
For the record, [billionaire Ron] Burkle said he owns no Colorado mansion and never hosted Maguire or any other celebrities on his private plane, and covets his privacy. [Emphasis added]
Now that's libelous (if untrue). ... 1:20 A.M.
"It's the one thing everybody has in common, the aspiration to have a relationship with the United States . . . and also to express gratitude and patriotism to the United States for providing the opportunity," says Kidron. [Emphasis added]
Hmm. A "relationship with the United States." Don't lay it on too thick! Sounds like a very ... modern view of the position of an individual vis-a-vis a state. ... I'm not knocking that view--it's probably because my grandfather had this ambiguous and conditional attitude toward the country where he was born and where he lived (Germany) that he was psychologically able to leave immediately when Hitler came to power. But it's not exactly the pledge of allegiance many Americans want to hear at the moment. ... You can have a "relationship" with several nations, right? You could, for example, use one country to earn a living ("the opportunity") while your heart belonged to another country! ... When your boyfriend or girlfriend says "I value our relationship" instead of "I love you," is that when you invite them to move in or when you invite them to stop calling? [Thanks to reader H] 4:28 P.M. link
What mass transit couldn't do: $3.50 gas appears to have had one effect: for the time being, it's at least partially solved L.A.'s worsening traffic congestion problem. On Monday I made it from the beach to Eagle Rock in 45 minutes at rush hour--that's normally an hour-and-a-half drive . It won't last--people will grow accustomed to the price and start driving again--and I assume it's hardest on the working poor. But, speaking selfishly, if I had a choice of a) paying $4 a gallon and getting where I want to go in as little time as it took 20 years ago and b) paying $1.50 a gallon but spending twice as much time to get there, it would be a no-brainer. $4 is a bargain! Will a secret base of support for higher gas prices emerge in the suburban upper middle class of previously frustrated drivers? 12:05 P.M. link
promised to build a barrier along the Mexican border and make enforcement of immigration law his top priority
beats the generic "Republican" nominee by 9 points-- 30 to 21--and runs practically even with the generic "Democratic" nominee (who gets 31%). The border-centric third-party candidacy actually takes more votes from the Democratic side than the Republican side!. But it draws heavily from both parties, and as heavily from "moderates" as from "conservatives."
th the immigration issue candidate as an option, 36% of conservative voters opt for the Republican candidate while 35% take the third party option. Among political moderates, 34% pick the Democrat while 32% prefer the third party option.
Yes, this is a robo-poll (though voters may feel more comfortable telling a robot what they really think). ... Yes, as Rasmussen notes, "This result probably reflects unhappiness with both parties on the immigration issue rather than a true opportunity for a third party."... And yes, candidates with appealing specifics often beat undefined, generic party choices. ... Still, it raises suspicions about the hothouse, semi-confected Beltway CW that a tough, non-"comprehensive," enforcement-first approach is a political loser in the short term, no? ...
"Bring Our Troops Home and Put Them on the Mexican Border!" The Anti-Defamation League cites that bumpersticker as an example of "hateful and racist rhetoric." The group selling the sticker might be hateful and racist, but what's hateful and racist about the message itself? It's a long border! One way to police it would be troops. I don't endorse that solution, but non-insane, non-racist--and pro-immigrant--people have suggested it. (E.g.)... P.S.: Is it that people who want to "bring our troops home" are hateful and racist? The ADL needs to keep itself in business, but taking on the entire left wing of the Democratic party seems a bit much. [Via Drudge] 1:02 P.M. link
Now Boarding the Burkle Line ... They scoffed when kf began hyping the potential damage Ron Burkle's association with Bill Clinton could do to Hillary's candidacy. Bob Wright scoffed, anyway, and Instapundit expressed skepticism. Comes now Dick Morris to argue that "Burkle's Yucaipa Companies could become the new Bill & Hill scandal--the equivalent of Whitewater." ... That may be stretching it. But Bill was already president when Whitewater hit hard. It takes a lot less to knock out a mere candidate, which is all Hillary is now. ... P.S.: Morris high-mindedly stresses the conflict of interest angle. But there are other possible, unproven, hypothetical, yet tantalizing connections that breed confusing speculation. (Note to JPS: You obviously have to explain it more slowly!) ... And there's Philip Weiss' always-sound advice. ... 2:00 A.M link
Rattner should take Pinch private? I'm not a banker. But if you assume (for purposes of argument, and realism) that current NYT chairman Pinch Sulzberger isn't up to the job, and the Sulzbergers have to pay the unhappy Class A shareholders a big premium to buy them out, and that after that the paper continues to slide downhill, earnings wise--then isn't Gabriel Sherman's Off the Record idea a good way to lose a whole lot of money? Would banks end up controlling the Times? ... P.S.: Don't miss Off the Record's last item, on how newspaper blogs have made politics ... faster! And harder.
"It forces your campaign operation to react," said Mark Benoit, deputy campaign manager for Democratic Attorney General candidate Mark Green. "You almost have to rehearse. You can't say, 'Let's call three consultants and talk to the candidate.' You have to know the answers yourself."
Update:An experienced political reporter confirms NYO's claim that campaigns jump to answer blogger queries: "I have much more influence as a columnist/blogger than as a columnist. I have bureau chiefs for daily newspapers complaining that pols call me back but don't call them back." ... 1:52 A.M. link
Burkle Bits: 1) Myrna Blyth wonders, along with everyone else, why the allegedly publicity-shy billionaire Clinton partner began "brawling in a very public way with the New York Post's Page Six gossip column." (Blyth: "Maybe he thought complaining about little things might avoid inquiries into bigger matters that might turn out to be of concern to Bill or, even more important, to Hillary.") ... 2) Gawker notices a potentially convenient omission in a Pellicano-related story. ... 3) And kf hears from a spokesman for Burkle's companies, enabling a NEXIS-fueled search that gets closer to the truth--if not asymptotically closer--in the "Was Burkle Burned?" controversy. ... It's almost as if sleazy-but-energetic gossip Jared Paul Stern was madly emailing behind the scenes, egging everyone on to produce more anti-Burkle items! 7:36 P.M. link
What Lesbians Are to Howard Stern ... A lot of Kristol-bashing at bloggingheads.tv. Must be sweeps week! 1) Francis Fukuyama, who should know, charges that "Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard" undertook a " deliberate search for an enemy" after the end of the Cold War, and that 9/11 was a "godsend" for them. [ HuffPo had this first] 2) Jonah Goldberg and I attempt to figure out Kristol's controversial "soft on illegal immigration," what-was-so-bad-about-the-last-amnesty position. It quickly descends into mean ad-hominism! A surefire ratings magnet. ... Look out Donny Deutsch! Somebody's gaining on you. And Deutsch doesn't have dogs! ...11:28 A.M. link
The Clinton administration in fact managed some (albeit patchy) "internal" enforcement of employer sanctions. For instance, the period 1995-1997 saw 10,000 to 18,000 worksite arrests of illegals a year. Some 1,000 employers were served notices of fines for employing them.
Under the Bush administration, however, worksite arrests fell to 159 in 2004 - with the princely total of three notices of intent to fine served on employers. Thus, worksite arrests under President Bush have fallen from Clintonian levels by something like 97 per cent - even though 9/11 occurred in the meantime.
It's Bush, of course, who's now in the position of trying to dispel fears that the "enforcement" half of any "comprehensive" immigration bill will be weakly implemented, even as the "legalization" half attracts a new wave of illegals. Why doesn't Bush prove it first? If he started now, there'd still be time to pass the legalization part before the end of his term. ... 1:28 A.M. link
FDR could tolerate tension and dissent too, and in fact loved setting his aides against each other. There was in his management style a certain sadism--he enjoyed watching Harry Hopkins torpedo Harold Ickes at lunch--but there was a method to his meanness. He thought the aide armed with the better plan would kill off the man with the lesser plan. As for personal loyalty, he doesn't seem to have bothered much about it. He had a job to do. Loyalty can be a nice word for self-indulgence. [Emphasis added]
kf Raises the Larger Issue! The Sunday front-page NYT piece on the Ron Burkle-Bill Clinton relationship wasn't just credulous. It entirely miscast the potential controversy, as veteran kf emailer Mr. Y explains:
The same instinct that told NYT that the Clinton campaign's holding this Burkle event this weekend was not a detail worth highlighting also leads them to miss the point when they compare Clinton's business dealings with those of past presidents. It doesn't matter what past Presidents do. I think Clinton faces pretty lenient standards qua past POTUS's on where he makes his money—it's these sticky business dealings for the spouse of the presumptive Democratic nominee for President and for the possible next First Spouse that makes this a story.
Right. Bill Clinton can't be happy that Burkle's publicity-grabbing sting of Jared Paul Stern brought intense scrutiny of his finances--not because he's an ex president who makes more or less money than Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter (precedents discussed with legalistic rigor in the NYT piece), but because his wife is the 2008 Democratic front-runner. Duh! He's not another Jimmy Carter. He's Laura Bush or Tipper Gore. If Laura Bush made millions advising an investment fund--which partnered with foreign governments--wouldn't it provoke a bit of discussion, at least about potential conflicts of interest? ...P.S.: How mad at Burkle is Hillary**? ...
**--Hillary Clinton's name appears only once in the Times piece, in paragraph 9. .. It's as if the paper had printed a whole piece on the NYT shareholder revolt without even mentioning Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. by name! ... 2:44 A.M. link
'Two Years and You're Out' Comes to Immigration Reform: Hillary Clinton seems to have settled on an immigration position--a hard-soft compromise that superficially resembles her husband's famously effective 'two years and you're out' position on welfare reform.
"A country that cannot control its borders is failing at one of its fundamental obligations," she said of America's "broken system." She also said that "we do need an earned path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants here.
[S]he will be accused of Clintonesque parsing and wanting it both ways. She may well be guilty, but, on the basis of two conversations with her, I'm persuaded she believes in both border security and firm, practical measures to deal with those already here.
Most important, her support for a time lag between the two steps, with border security coming first by as much as two years, could be the right mix that breaks the congressional deadlock and solves much of the immigration problem.
"I would not support it if the legislation was just for border security and we had to come back to Congress for everything else," she said. "We need to structure it as one piece of comprehensive legislation, with a staged implementation." For example, she said, the legalization process could begin "12 to 24 months" after border control measures take effect. [Emphasis added]
The only problem with this appealing position is that it might produce a debacle. Think about it: We tell the world that the process of legalization will begin in "12 to 24 months" after border control measures--including a "smart" fence that can "spot people coming from 250 or 300 yards away"--take effect. Message: Sneak in now and you can become a U.S. citizen--but this offer ends soon! The fence is going up! Wouldn't that prompt an undocumented rush for the border that would make the settlement of Oklahoma look tame?
Repl Harold Ford's similar left-right, soft-hard compromise doesn't have this problem, or at least not to the same extent. Ford says he wants to enforce the borders first and then at some unfixed date he'd be ready to talk about possible legalization--not write it into the law, as Hillary would. He avoids promising anything to illegals--and therefore maybe avoids provoking a stampede of illegals to get in before the gate closes.
The Ford approach doesn't have to be one-sidedly anti-immigrant--you could accompany it with a finite guest worker program, even one that promised eventual full citizenship to the guest workers, who would after all be legal workers. That shouldn't provoke a stampede because it wouldn't promise legalization or citizenship to unlimited numbers of other, non-legal workers. It seems a sounder Clintonian position than Clinton's Clintonian position.
There are worse things than not being "comprehensive"! (Wasn't that supposed to be one lesson of the Hillarycare debacle?) ... 2:13 A.M. link
New York TimesScammed by Clinton-Burkle Spin? The NYT's John Broder and Patrick Healy describe the origins of the life-giving friendship between Bill Clinton and Ron Burkle with a PR-perfect paragraph that should have set off the BS-meter:
The two men first met when Mr. Clinton was running for president in 1992 and touring neighborhoods in Los Angeles that had been torched during riots after the acquittal of several police officers charged with beating Rodney King. Mr. Clinton noticed that some supermarkets were still open, and asked why, his aides recalled. He was told that those stores were not burned because the owner, Mr. Burkle, treated his customers and employees fairly. Mr. Clinton asked to meet him.
Hmm. Too good to check? Not if you have NEXIS! At the time of the riots, Burkle owned a chain of markets called Food 4 Less. (He apparently didn't acquire Ralph's markets until 1994.) Here's the lede paragraph of a June 1, 1992 story in the Orange County Business Journal:
Ron Burkle was in the middle of a meeting in a downtown Los Angeles hotel room when the Rodney King verdict came in last month. As word of the ensuing riots spread, television sets in the room were turned on. Burkle, chairman of La Habra-based Food 4 Less Supermarkets Inc., soon found himself watching intently. Buildings were burning. His buildings.
When the smoke finally cleared, Food 4 Less tallied its losses. The operator of the Boys' Markets, Viva and Alpha Beta stores that provide inner city residents with most of their groceries had sustained some $ 25 million to $ 30 million in riot-related damage. At the height of the riots, 44 of its stores had been shut down. A handful were burned to the ground. Another dozen were so badly damaged that it would take from a month to several months to make them operational once more.
Burkle says he never once considered turning his back on his turf.
"When you watch your stores burn and watch the looting, you can get upset by events," he says. "It would probably be easier to just abandon (the inner city). But we're not going to do that." [Emphasis added]
Is NEXIS too expensive for the NYT? Let's all chip in and buy them a subscription. ...
P.S.: What other Burkle-related BS is the gullible NYT buying into?
P.P.S.: For a ... skeptical, non-Timesian view of Cliinton/Burkle's investments--including a claim that they aren't doing so well--here's a January NY Post op-ed by Peter Schweizer.** ("The funds' real emphasis, in short, seems to be Democratic cronyism.") Schweizer's piece backs up one of the more contrarian Burkle conspiracy theories: That he wants to keep his divorce records secret not because they'll reveal how rich he is, but because they'll reveal that (thanks to his investments' poor performance) he's not as rich as everyone thinks. How rich could you get investing in Al Gore's cable channel?
P.P.P.S.: "Since 1986" A March letter to the Post from a "spokesperson" for Burkle's company responded to Schweizer's piece, claiming:
Since 1986, Yucaipa's returns have averaged over 40 percent annually, and in the last two years alone, investments have saved or created over 40,000 jobs.
That doesn't exactly answer the charge that Burkle's recent investments, funded by state pension funds and advised by Clinton, haven't produced such good returns.
**--the link to this op-ed is currrently being emailed around by one Jared Paul Stern. That doesn't make it wrong!
Update: The NYT has appended a correction to the Broder/Healy piece ... Wouldn't you also like to know how they heard the suspect spin in the first place? That would tell us something about Burkle and Clinton. ...
More: kf has received an email from Frank J. Quintero, the aforementioned spokesman for Burkle's Yucaipa Companies. It reads, in part:
It is true that many of the Food 4 Less stores suffered economic damage in the 1992 riots. However, the account reported in the New York Times is also true.
How can that be so? Because although as The Orange County Business Journal correctly reported, as many as 40 stores were closed during the disturbances, many (most of the company's) stores were still open. These were the stores that President Clinton asked about. These are the stores, as detailed on Page 409 in President Clinton's book, that when President Clinton asked Congresswoman Maxine Waters why some supermarkets were still open, she replied that those stores were not burned because the owner, Mr. Burkle, treated his customers and employees well.
Sure enough, on page 409 of Clinton's My Life you'll find this passage:
The streets looked like a war zone, full of burned and looted buildings. As we walked, I noticed a grocery store that appeared to be intact. When I asked Maxine about it, she said the store had been 'protected' by people from the neighborhood, including gang members, because its owner, a white businessman named Ron Burkle, had been good to the community. He hired local people, all the employees were union members with health insurance, and the food was of the same quality as that in Beverly Hills groceries and sold at the same prices. At the time, that was unusual: because inner-city residents are less mobile, their stores often had inferior food at higher prices. I had met Burkle for the first time just a few hours earlier, and I resolved to get to know him better. He became one of my best friends and strongest supporters.
A couple of points:
1) The NYT's story (and Quintero's) actually differs from Clinton's account in non-trivial ways. a) Clinton only says that a single store was "intact," having been protected (he was told) by neighborhood people. The NYT and Quintero say "stores," and the Times gullibly implied that Burkle's whole chain was protected because he was such a good employer (when in fact Burkle's stores sustained "extreme damage from looting, fire, and water," according to the chain's own VP of corporate communications as paraphrased in Supermarket News of May 11, 1992). b) Clinton says he'd already met Burkle, and merely "resolved to get to know him better" after hearing Waters' story. But the NYT omits the prior meeting, recounting a juiced-up, take-me-to-this-wise-man version of the anecdote in which, after Waters' explanation, "Mr. Clinton asked to meet [Burkle]" and "[a] meeting was quickly set up at the Burbank airport ...."
2) Was Maxine Waters' explanation of why that one store was still intact accurate? I don't know. There's some evidence in the clips that the Alpha Beta chain of stores, one of several chains owned by Burkle, was highly valued in the community. Alpha Beta stores were more upscale than other local Burkle emporiums, such as Boys Markets (which were subject to "criticism by some residents over the pricing," according to John Mack, the president of the L.A. Urban League). One writer for Drug Store News reported: "Near my home, residents formed a barrier to protect an Alpha Beta market and turned away a mob of looters." On the other hand, a) Alpha Beta had been acquired by Burkle less than a year before the riot. It seems unlikely that it was Burkle's business reputation, as opposed to the market's pre-Burkle history of service, that customers would have been protecting; b) Maxine Waters, as Clinton himself notes,had a "long friendship with Jesse Jackson." Burkle, the L.A. Times has noted, has been "a frequent contributor to Jackson's causes." Was Waters giving Clinton a ... dramatized pol's version of events that cast a glowing light on an ally, a big Democratic fundraiser, and a potential future supporter of her favorite projects?
I emailed Mr. Quintero last night and asked him to confirm Burkle's support of Jackson's activities and give "an approximate idea of the amount" of money involved, but I've yet to receive a reply. Maybe it's in his spam folder! 4:22 P.M. link
Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. 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]