Gosserdammerung, Act II

A mostly political Weblog.
May 9 2006 5:42 AM

Gosserdammerung, Act II

Lost in the Foggo of war!

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.

11:23 P.M.

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. 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 TPM1:42 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.

Ginia Bellafante wrote a very nice article about bloggingheads.tv in the NYT. If she had a line of clothing I'd invest in it! 12:38 A.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). ...

P.S.: If you want to watch me invite humiliation by trying to think through this issue on camera while being badgered by Bob Wright,  click here. ... 7:41 P.M. link

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.

Commitment Problems Got You Down? Here's Adam Kidron, "president of Urban Box Office, the New York-based entertainment company that launched the [Spanish national anthem] project":

"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

Things You Won't Read in The Note: A Rasmussen robo-poll  reports that a third party candidate who

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? ...

Update: Rasmussen blogs himself on RCP, with statesmanlike modulation. ...  3:20 P.M. link

"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

Pinch just needs to get his message out! That's the ticket. A new PR firm will solve everything. ... Suggestion: Sitrick! Eliminate wasteful duplication. ... 12:20 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

Conservative John O'Sullivan says enforcement against employers who hire illegal immigrants was much stronger under Clinton than Bush:

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

Et tu, Peggy: I always assumed an obsession with "loyalty" was functional for the Bushes. Noonan says no. FDR didn't care about loyatly:

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]

Now there's a get-up-and-get-a-beer line that might repay getting up and getting a beer. ... P.S.:Note to Bolten-- Second offense. Maybe third. Put her on the list. ... 4:56 P.M. link

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

The Desperation of Independence: In a desperate attempt to demonstrate that the campaign finance laws are unworkable, trailing California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides' labor backers and his "longtime patron and business partner" Angelo Tsakopoulos just happen to have started an "independent" TV campaign on his behalf--a campaign not subject to limits on individual donations. (Source: Bill Bradley, New West Notes.) This is about as non-independent as an "independent" campaign can get.  ... The hope of those campaign finance reformers has always been that, as long as the two campaigns--official, and "independent"--actually didn't meet and coordinate messages with each other, they might get in each others' way and produce defeat, not victory. That might have happened with John Kerry and the fabled Dem 527s in 2004, but it's hard to see why that would happen in a simple, underpublicized primary between two relative unknowns in a single state. Virtually any ad buy touting Angelides or trashing his opponent would seem to help at this point, no? Except that Angelides will get impressive bad press from the editorial pages for this move. Shame saves the day! ...

Update: The candidate discount saves the day?  Bradley has posted an update: Virtually all the money for the ads--some $5 million--comes from Tsakopoulos and his daughter. "The legal limit for an individual contribution to a primary campaign for governor is $22,300," but, again, since this is (in theory) an "independent" ad that limit doesn't apply. The beauty part is that because it's not an official campaign ad, the ad doesn't qualify for the special candidate rates from broadcasters. "So it is not getting the $5 million worth of advertising that the official Angelides campaign would get with this money if it were legal for it to receive this money," Bradley says. "It may be more like $3 million worth." Maybe the combination of a) shame and b) special candidate rates can effectively discourage "independent" campaigns without violating the First Amendment rights of "independent" advertisers (which an outright ban on Tsakopoulos-style independent ads would do.) That's not a bad outcome. ... Note: This "independent" expenditure problem isn't solved by public financing of campaigns, though public financing of "official" campaigns might give them another big advantage over unregulated independent campaigns. ...

P.S.: Is ABC's esteemed The Notemissing this juicy California story because it's myopically focused on the work product of a few non-Web, MSM journalists? kf says yes! ... 1:32 P.M.

Start lobbying, dammit! Are you as suspiciousas I am about the current well-publicized crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants? It would seem to serve two political purposes: 1) It's a cheap attempt to reassure anti-illegal forces who demand that the government actually get serious about enforcement; 2) It's an attempt to panic business owners who worry that the government might actually get serious about enforcement--so they'd better start lobbying to make sure that doesn't happen! ... I mean, they'd better start lobbying to make sure there's an appropriate guest worker program. An employer-side lawyer interviewed on the NPR show linked above makes this drumming-up effect explicit:

"I think it's a clear message to employers that you better pick up the phone and start calling your Congressional and Senate representatives because we need immigration reform badly."

I'm not sure either side will be fooled. ... 2:34 A.M.

What's his motivation? If you were writing a script about the Pellicano case, how plausible would the following scene  be?

Mr. Pellicano warned Mr. Burkle that he had already obtained all of his telephone numbers, and "was prepared to use any and every means to" investigate Mr. Burkle, but first asked him to tell his version of his dispute with Mr. Ovitz, Mr. Burkle told the F.B.I.

When Mr. Burkle did so, asserting that Mr. Ovitz owed him money, he told the F.B.I., Mr. Pellicano reacted indignantly, using an expletive to refer to Mr. Ovitz and saying he did not work for "welshers" — an exchange that was partly reported in Vanity Fair in 2004.

That Pellicano--he may be a sleazy, mercenary bully who's behind bars, but he has his own rough-hewn moral code! He simply will not work for "welshers"! Don't you see? ... Er ... no ...

Sorry, NYT! I think it needs another draft! ...

P.S.--Unflummoxed: I think I can clear up the less important of my two confusions about Ron Burkle, which was:

If, as reported by the NY Observer's "Daily Transom", details of Ron Burkle's "divorce were printed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, which combed over the records before the records were sealed," and reporters have copies of this publication, why don't we know the juicy details from those records?

Apparently the only part of the divorce record that was printed by the LABJ was the "marital settlement agreement" (a post-nup, not a pre-nup). The rest of the court record, and whatever juicy details it does or doesn't contain, remains under seal pending Ron Burkle's appeal to the state Supreme Court. That court may turn down the case in the next few weeks, however, which would likely result in an unsealing. ... At least Mr. Burkle didn't draw the press' attention to himself at this potentially delicate moment!... 1:51 A.M. link

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thirty percent of Republicans cite immigration as the most important problem, compared with 16% of independents and 11% of Democrats.

In other words, Republicans are differentially aggravated by immigration, compared to Democrats. In the Battle of Intensity that's supposed to be the coming midterms, does the CW really still hold that the immigration issue helps the Democrats? How does that work? Do we think all those Republicans are outraged by the felony provision of the Sensenbrenner bill?  ... 6:08 P.M.

Poor Burkle: Always the victim! While kf sleeps, Nikki Finke begins the process of unraveling today's apparently heavily SitrickedNYT Ovitz/Burkle/Pellicano story--which does make those who have followed the  crudest speculation about the scandal  less interested in Burkle and more interested in one S. Bing. ... Is Bing the only guy in the story who doesn't employ Sitrick? Hmmm. ... 11:56 A.M.

Sometimes too far is just far enough: I claim--in the face of repeated, near-obsessive   attacks  by my friend Bob Wright!--that Ann Coulter sometimes says highly impolitic things that need saying. Here's a possible example--I say "possible" because I haven't followed the Natalee Holloway coverage closely. But my impression is that the following point hasn't been made very often:

However the Duke lacrosse rape case turns out, one lesson that absolutely will not be learned is this: You can severely reduce your chances of having a false accusation of rape leveled against you if you don't hire strange women to come to your house and take their clothes off for money.

Also, you can severely reduce your chances of being raped if you do not go to strange men's houses and take your clothes off for money. ...

And if you are a girl in Aruba or New York City, among the best ways to avoid being the victim of a horrible crime is to not get drunk in public or go off in a car with men you just met. ...

Everyone makes mistakes, especially young people, but the outpouring of support for the victims and their families is obscuring what ought to be a flashing neon warning for potential future victims. ...

Yes, of course no one "deserves" to die for a mistake. Or to be raped or falsely accused of rape for a mistake. ... But these statements would roll off the tongue more easily in a world that so much as tacitly acknowledged that all these messy turns of fate followed behavior that your mother could have told you was tacky.

Not very long ago, all the precursor behavior in these cases would have been recognized as vulgar--whether or not anyone ended up dead, raped or falsely accused of rape. [Emphasis added]

Backfill: It turns out Coulter isn't the only person to have made this particular point, at least in non-Aruban form. On the "Taste" page of the WSJ a few days ago,  Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote about the Duke case  and the Imette St. Guillen murder, and the forces arrayed against common sense:

Radical feminists used to warn that men are evil and dangerous. Andrea Dworkin made a career of it. But that message did not seem reconcilable with another core feminist notion--that women should be liberated from social constraints, especially those that require them to behave differently from men. So the first message was dropped and the second took over.

Susan Lampert Smith writes similarly about a young woman left to die in a Wisconsin ditch, and how venerable, seemingly obvious rules--e.g., don't get plastered in bars and drive off with strange men--are no longer drummed into college-age girls. .. 10:16 P.M.

C-3 P.O.? It wasn't just Morgan Stanley's 5.8% of NYT shares rebelling against the Sulzbergers by withholding votes for directors.  It was shareholders representing 28%--or 31% or 33%, depending on who's counting--of the shares. A dramatic development in the Pincherdammerung, which (as Arianna notes) the New York Times  played near the gutter on page C-3. ... P.S.: Not all two-tier family-controlled publicly-traded newspapers are alike. Here's a chart of Pinch's  NYT vs. WaPo.  ...  6:15 P.M.

kf Resumes Kamikaze-like Assault on Copy Editors: I'm with DuBow. In the formula

Mistakes entrenched copy editors catch - (mistakes they introduce + good language they kill + delay they introduce (including delay of trying to stop them from killing good language) + their salaries) = X

X is usually a negative number. ... 5:40 P.M.

Joe Conason (in the NYO of 2/21/01)  on Ron Burkle [$]:

[R]on Burkle, a California billionaire who gave 10 times as much to every Clinton fund and campaign as Ms. Rich did, was turned down when he requested a pardon for his friend Michael Milken. Mr. Burkle promised a minimum of $5 million to the Clinton library, compared with the $450,000 given by Ms. Rich. He and members of his family have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to every conceivable Democratic campaign, including Mrs. Clinton's Senate race. Mr. Burkle and other well-heeled, Clinton-connected advocates passionately argued the Milken case, but they didn't prevail on Jan. 20. (New York Observer, February 21, 001)

Nothing interesting here! Keep moving people!  ... P.S.:Page Six sleaze Jared Paul Stern claimed during his brief Gawker editorship that he'd "just been told the L.A. Times has assigned a full-time investigative reporter to uncover [Burkle's] dirty deeds." [Emp. added] I don't know if that's true or just something designed to frazzle Burkle. ... After all, why should the L.A. Times probe into Burkle's various nexes with prominent Democratic politicos? People might want to read it--violating one of the LAT's legacy rules for resource-deployment. Better to let the story go with a) a quickie article on why Angelenos think it's all "ho-hum." (I mean it's not like Burkle lives here! ... Oh, wait.) b)huffy column courageously denouncing the "sleazy trade in innuendo and phony items;" c) an inferior duplication of Choire Sicha's  initial evocative Stern-in-the-Catskills  scener. ... The LAT can rest on its scandal-breaking Pellicano coverage. [But they're getting killed on Pellicano by the NYT--ed Oh yeah. I forgot! "Do it once. Do it right. Do it after the scandal's died out."] 5:20 P.M.

The Twilight of the Sulzbergers? The Class A shareholders are closing in on Pinch. According to TheStreet.com:

Morgan Stanley Investment Management said Tuesday it withheld votes for the [New York] Times' director nominees because it believes the company's board and management have become unaccountable to shareholders.

The firm, which says it owns more than 5% of the Times' Class A stock, called for the elimination of the dual-stock structure that leaves control of the board with minority shareholders led by the founding Sulzberger family [Emph. added]

That seems at least as much of a revolt as six retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, no? Except that Morgan Stanley is still on active duty. It's a mutiny! ... P.S.: Morgan Stanley noted that "[D]espite significant underperformance, management's total compensation is substantial and has increased considerably over this period." ... Update: Neither Bainbridge nor Bartin is very sympathetic to Morgan Stanley--not because NYT Chairman Pinch Sulzberger isn't a turkey, but because the Class A shareholders knew Pinch might turn out to be a turkey when they bought their non-voting stock. Or, rather,

Morgan Stanley knew or should have known that dual class stock presents a serious agency cost problem because incumbents who cannot be voted out of office are almost impossible to discipline. [Bainbridge--emphasis added]

That sounds so much classier!  But why would Morgan Stanley make its move now unless they had some reason to think that the turkey--I mean, the serious agency cost problem--might be removed? ... [Rattner will save him--ed Actually, much as I hate to admit it, why isn't that a possible solution? Move Pinch up to a ceremonial figurehead role, and make Pinch's buddy Steven Rattner, a NYT reporter-turned-media investor, the actual chief executive of the Times. Then the Sulzbergers are (relatively) happy and Wall Street is (relatively) happy--and Democrats who worry that the paper might fall into unsympathetic hands are very happy. It's win-cubed!]...  2:08 P.M. link

Inverter, Invert Thyself: In a column criticizing Republican immigration ads as a "precise inversion of the truth," Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos writes, in passing:

[L]ast week, a proposed Senate immigration bill died when Majority Leader Bill Frist refused to allow Reid to bring forward various amendments to the measure

Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, isn't that pretty much the precise opposite of what happened? (Frist wanted to have a vote on lots of amendments that Reid didn't want to allow a vote on. See Brownstein.) [Thanks to reader K.M.] 1:20 P.M.

Fred Barnes says the "immigration has flipped in President Bush's favor." He could be right! (I don't want to commit the Howell Raines Fallacy of assuming that the good and great American people favor my position.) I'll believe it when I read an article whose main source isn't "Jeffrey Bell, a Republican consultant working for La Raza." ... Novak's similar column squib--about how

Some Republican members of Congress have reported back from Easter recess to say their constituents are less outraged by leaky borders than the possible loss of immigrant workers, some from their own households.

Also reeks of thin, Bell-like sourcing. ...

P.S.:  Steve Sailer takes somewhat more vigorous exception to Barnes' article--I wouldn't use the phrase "bootlicking Bush acolyte," for example!--but has some plausible objections to the wording of the recent LAT poll questions, which seemed to show support for Bush's position. ...  It's also worth reading Sailer to see what intelligent yet off-puttingly intense full-bore anti-illegal rhetoric sounds like. ... As so often happens, kf occupies the moderate middle ground in this debate! ... 11:51 P.M.

Hillary Cares! You should too. ...  Instapundit demands "a reason why I should care" about the Stern/Burkle story! Bloggingheads.tv mogul Bob Wright** had the same issue. I try to convince him to care here. ... (Note: That's a "dingalink," which takes you to the exact relevant spot on the video. No need to listen to the whole thing! It's named after bloggingheads tech mastermind, Greg Dingle, who developed it.) ... Key fact: Burkle is Bill Clinton's business partner. What puts Bill Clinton at risk puts Hillary Clinton at risk. And sometimes what doesn't put Clinton at risk (e.g., doing business in Dubai) puts Hillary at risk.

P.S.: Just as Hillary's getting Burkled, Gore buzz picks up! Coincidence? Yes. But still ...

P.P.S.: Of course, you already heard it from the man himself!

**--not to be confused with another TV executive of the same name who runs a fading old-media project for G.E. 9:20 P.M. link

Squaring the Burkle: Recent coverage of the Page Six/Burkle story raises as many questions as it answers!

(a)--If, as reported by the NY Observer's "Daily Transom", details of Ron Burkle's "divorce were printed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, which combed over the records before the records were sealed," and reporters have copies of this publication, why don't we know the juicy details from those records? Are there no juicy details? (If they're just the ones printed by the Observer, Burkle's divorce is not that bad, by modern Messy Divorce standards.) Are the details so juicy that everyone's scared to print them? [Update: See probable answer above.]

(b)--Why did Burkle do what he did? Let's assume--for purposes of argument--that Burkle's view of Jared Paul Stern's intent is accurate. Still, if as we're told Burkle is someone who "hates publicity and hates having his name in the paper," why would he conduct a high-profile sting guaranteed (if it worked) to dramatically raise his profile and keep his name in the papers for months?  What was his long-term goal? Was he trying to burnish his goo-goo ethical credentials as a potential purchaser of 12 ex-Knight-Ridder newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer? Was he trying to shut up Page Six? But what might they publish about him? That he knew Gisele Bundchen? That's hardly damaging. That he had girlfriends? He's single, right? The proverbial "messy" divorce details? That assumes both that there are such details, and that none of the other reporters who've seen those details would publish them (see (a) above).  Did Page Six really have something nobody else had? I'm not sure they're that good! Maybe Burkle just felt wronged, got his back up, and created a situation that's now  gotten out of his control. But you'd think anyone as smart as Burkle, especially someone advised by Sitrick and Company, would know it would get out of control.

I'm still flummoxed.

P.S.: When I shopped at Ralph's supermarkets in the 90s, when they were owned by Burkle, I remember row upon row of a particular product at the checkout counter. It was ... it's almost too disgusting to recall ... tabloids! Shoddy, standardless, gossip-obsessed tabloids! Tabloids of the sort condemned in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by an eminent entrepreneur. ... Before Burkle gets too far with his anti-tab crusade, shouldn't he give back the millions in profits he made off selling them? He could give the money to ... I don't know, George Clooney. ...

P.P.S.: Are Knight-Ridder employees actually  happy about the prospect of working for Burkle? The poor souls. ... 1:01 A.M. link

The Rich Get Glitchier: Automobile Magazine notices a recent capitalist trend that seemingly defies the textbooks. They're reviewing a $73,000 Porsche Cayenne SUV:

You might think that kind of money would buy reliable transport. You would be wrong. In fact, our experience lately, particularly among the pedigreed European brands, has been that a higher price tag usuallly equates to a higher incidence of problems compared with less expensive vehicles from lesser nameplates. [Emph. added]

The interesting question is why the rich tolerate this--why doesn't at least one European luxury automaker back off the iffy, cutting edge electronics and market a car that, you know, keeps working? ... Update:Downshift claims to have the answer. ... 10:37 P.M.

All Burkle, All the Time: Meow! The decision to let slimebag Jared Paul Stern guest-edit gawker.com over this weekend initially seemed a cheap attention-getting move by an ambitious Brit blog owner gravely ignorant of American libel law. It turns out to have been an inspired move by an ambitious Brit blog owner gravely ignorant of American libel law! ... Stern is doing what the lame Burklewatch should be doing: throwing out a cornucopia of potential leads that more respectable reporters (like Dan Walters) can check out. ... If Stern's output survives without provoking a fatal lawsuit, it could start a trend. But I advise reading it immediately--go ahead, leave my blog, I'll be here all day--before the Singer letters start arriving at Denton HQ. ...  5:59 P.M.

Nevada Republicans try to pressure Sen. Harry Reid  on immigration by calling him a "rich Anglo"--an impressively unprincipled, offensive, and desperate move. [Also 'ironic'--ed Yes. But 'ironic' is now an unusable cliche.] ... 11:59 A.M.

Walter Kirn blames Malcolm Gladwellfor the Iraq War. ... Not really. But not 100% not really. ... 12:58 A.M.

Burkle Jerk: Jared Paul Stern may be a slimebag, but he gives good interview, especially for a guy in the U.S. Attorney's headlights. ... Meanwhile, the New York Observer uploads the Burkle File. Lots of potential investigative leads here! We especially want to know more about that business partnership with Bill Clinton:

Mr. Burkle hired Mr. Clinton in April 2002 as "senior adviser" to two Yucaipa investment funds which specialize in developing low-income-area businesses.

Could be highly relevant to the 2008 campaign, no? ... P.S.: Is Bill (not to mention Hillary) happy that Burkle staged this high-profile stunt that will attract press scrutiny to all the ex-President's business dealings? It would be interesting to know, for example, if ex-President Clinton, perhaps, was involved in Yucaipa's Dubai-related transactions?

In October, 2005, Yucaipa, working with the Dubai Investment Group—owned by the Dubai government—made a $828 million bid for Refco, the firm that caused Ms. Clinton a headache when she was accused of having a conflict of interest when she invested in cattle-futures in 1979. Mr. Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the firm was fined.

Did Burkle let his quest for "privacy" triumph over his buddy's political interest? That would be so selfish! ...

Update: Lifson suggests another potential investigative angle. ...  1:20 P.M. link

Who's split again? Ron Brownstein notices something interesting in the guts  of the latest version of the (historically non- trustworthy) LAT poll:

"They say [illegal immigrants] want to do a job Americans don't want to do," said Erner, the Democratic factory worker. "I think [employers] don't want to pay a wage Americans can live on."

Those class fissures help explain a surprising result: that Democrats are less enthusiastic than Republicans about proposals to create a guest-worker program or to legalize illegal immigrants — ideas supported much more in Washington by Democratic than Republican leaders.

Support for the legalization of illegal immigrants is notably higher among independents (71%) and Republicans (67%) than Democrats (59%). The guest-worker program also drew more support among independents (60%) and Republicans (56%) than Democrats (48%).

Part of the reason for the disparity is that non-college voters, who are most skeptical of the idea, constitute a larger share of Democrats than Republicans. The larger reason is that Democratic voters without a college education are much more skeptical about those ideas than Republicans of similar education levels.

For instance, although 54% of Republicans without a college degree support a program to import guest workers, just 38% of such Democrats do. Support for a guest-worker program is especially low among minority Democrats without college degrees — some of the people who might face the greatest competition for jobs from such a program. [Emph. added]

I think this means that black Democrats without a college degree oppose guest-worker plans by something like a 3-1 ratio, but the Times doesn't give the "especially low" breakout. Talk about demoralizing the base! Can Democrats afford to alienate the black vote going into the midterms? ...

Update:L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley analyzes the competing Field poll's immigration findings. As usual his comments section is bizarrely useful. ... 12:10 P.M. link

Ford Pulls A Clinton: Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., Democrat of Tennessee, voted for the Sensenbrenner immigration bill. He explains that vote on the Glenn and Helen Instapodcast,specifically endorsing a non-comprehensive, enforcement-first, sequential approach:

Unless we're able to secure and protect the borders, it's hard to talk about a path to citizenship, because essentially all you do is incentivize ... people coming into the country, sneaking into the country, breaking the law, and hiding from the law for a few years or at least long enough to be granted amnesty under the President's plan if he has it his way. So I think you have to secure the borders first, and once you do that you can have a reasonable and serious conversation about what to do with 11 million illegal immigrants in this country now, and you can have a serious conversation about providing, or laying out, a path to citizenship ...

See, Bruce! It's not that hard to get to Bush's right on immigration and still sound like a Democrat. Indeed, you could easily imagine Bill Clinton speaking the above paragraph, with its hard words appealing to the right ("sneaking into the country, breaking the law") coupled with its sensible let's-have-a-conversationism. Clinton didn't often resort to policy euphemisms (as opposed to weaselly sentences ...  and sexual euphemisms). And Ford doesn't pretend amnesty's not amnesty. ... Why isn't this position the equivalent of Clinton's "end welfare as we know it"/two-year time-limit middle ground on welfare reform?  ... P.S.: Ford does say he's "against a fence," preferring high-tech means of border protection. ... 11:05 P.M.

An emailer speculates that Ron Burkle's infuriatingly self-righteous op-ed in the Wall Street Journalwas an attempt to secure the high ground of respectability against any pro-Stern countertide. But how smart was it to go from saying, in effect, 'Jared Paul Stern is a slimeball' to saying to the entire press corps that they're all slimeballs no different from Stern (especially if they do something shocking like, say, writing about a politician's personal life--or protecting a source!)? I hope Burkle didn't pay Sitrick and Company for that advice. ... Maybe he really does need a media consultant! ... 9:22 P.M.

The Right's Split on Immigration, the Left's Split on Immigration. Why Can't Centrists Split on Immigration Too? Blogger, DLC President and former Clinton domestic policy advisor Bruce Reed argues on bloggingheads.tv that  legalization or amnesty won't act as a magnet attracting future illegal immigrants (beyond all the other attractions of sneaking into the U.S. to work).  I think he's wrong, and would cite this fresh report from the Arizona border. [Via Drudge]... P.S.: Reed seems to make the interesting additional argument that tough you've-gotta-assimilate requirements (which he supports)  will potentially act as a deterrent to immigration. Again, I'm not so sure. ... P.P.S.: He also gives a valuable insider-y explanation of why George Stephanopoulos is wrong about the Contract With America's impact on the 1994 House-changing election. ... 6:23 P.M.

Shorter McCain, 2006 YTD:

Preexisting CW: McCain, maverick! (e.g., Green)

New CW: Not maverick! McCain's just a conventional right-winger. (e.g., Krugman)

Newer CW: McCain is too a maverick! (Weisberg)

I'm with Newer. Weisberg's evidence is much more convincing than Krugman's. ... P.S.: McCain's been a strong, consistent supporter of the Iraq War. But nobody said "maverick" meant "liberal" or "dovish" or "realist." Nor does it mean McCain's right, or that you'll like his positions. It means maverick! McCain's simply not an orthodox conservative on a whole range of issues. Dems like Krugman will have to learn to deal with that complication. ... Update: See also Marshall Wittmann's  strangely dogmatic gushing  about "our modern T.R." ... 5:34 P.M.

Burkle raises the Larger Issue! Ron Burkle attempts to leverage the Jared Paul Stern corruption case into a general condemnation of "gossip coverage"  of, well, people like him:

And it would be satisfying to reach the conclusion that simply holding gossip-writers to the same standards as other journalists will solve the problem. But it won't. For one thing, gossip and tabloid-style journalism has been spreading rapidly to other spheres of reporting. Gossip coverage that used to be devoted primarily to movie stars now encompasses politicians and business people.

With the rise of blogs, reality TV, camera phones and other types of instant media, one can see a day when anyone, anywhere could become the subject of salacious journalism. And as gossip journalism spreads, so do the shoddy standards that accompany it.  I'm not talking about bribes or extortion. One hopes that's a rare practice. But consider what the New York Times reported about the way business is done at Page Six: "Keeping a list of reliable sources, of course, means having a list of people who need to be protected somewhat... [snip] ... We've all read how well-known and respected journalists have readily protected top-ranked officials leaking classified information. It makes one wonder: Where does the political reporter end and the political operative begin?

No doubt the challenge of upholding the highest media standards has never been harder. But institutions that give up will find that the lines between them and bloggers, demi-pundits and rumor-mongers on the Internet will be blurred beyond recognition. Newspapers that continue to go down the road of tabloidism, that adopt the shoddy standards of gossip reporting, and that arrogantly resist correcting their mistakes, risk losing their special role in our democracy. [Emphasis added]

Protecting leakers! Does Burkle think this is a new, tabloidy trend in conventional, respectable journalism? The FBI protects turncoat witnesses, journalists don't screw good sources. It can easily turn into a protection racket, but it's also a proven device for uncovering the truth. ...

P.S.: Is Burkle a persecuted businessman trying to carve out a zone of privacy against dissembling gossips?  Or is he a guy with a lot to hide attempting to intimidate and marginalize potential new, blog-like, unconventional threats,aware that maybe  Marty Singer can't protect him forever in this new environment? Or something in between! ... Is he worried about inaccurate journalism or accurate journalism? .. You, the reader, make the call! ...

Note to Maer Roshan: This is so not the guy you want to ownRadar magazine.. ... Makes Mort Zuckerman look like John Peter Zenger! ... 2:52 P.M. link

Et tu, RCP? Real Clear Politics' John McIntyre thinks the Republicans are getting the worst of both worlds on immigration:

[T]hey are increasingly turning off two pillars of their new majority. The first pillar is the talk-radio portion of the Republican base led by Rush Limbaugh (and the many who have followed in his wake) that provide a tremendous amount of energy to the conservative movement. The second pillar the GOP is endangering is the Hispanic community, the single largest growing demographic in American politics. ...

[R]ight now Republicans have managed to create a political environment on immigration that further demoralizes their base while at the same time angers the largest growing electoral demographic critical to a long-term GOP majority. Is it any wonder Senator Schumer implored Harry Reid to scuttle the Senate "compromise"? The last thing the Democrats want, from a political standpoint, is to resolve the immigration issue. [Emph. added]

I still don't understand! I can see where the immigration issue is killing Bush. (Which genius decided, when Bush was down to his most loyal 40%, to promote a policy that pisses them off? Why not go for a clean zero and get a good draft pick?) But Bush isn't running again. And I still don't see why House Republicans won't benefit in 2006 from pushing a tough enforcement policy that pleases their base, and that in general is popular. Are they incapable of communicating their views to their constituents? ... Plus, it's highly unpopularfor the Democrats to oppose the House approach, no? Robo-pollerr Scott Rasmussen notes that as the immigration debate has proceeded the GOPs have opened up a 6 point lead on this issue, up from one point--entirely because support for the Democrats has declined. ... P.S.: The wooing of the Hispanic vote is a long-term project, remember. The  mid-terms are short-term, and the House is the most vulnerable GOP institution. Why can't you more plausibly argue that the Republicans can get the best of both worlds: In the short run, the House GOP has engaged its base and put the Dems in a bad spot; in the long run, Bush and the Republican Senate have reached out to Latinos in a way that will serve them well in future presidential races? ... I don't quite believe that either, of course. For one thing, to really capitalize on the popularity of a tough enforcement approach, the House would need an actual, enacted bill to brag about. For another, I'm skeptical about the long-term lockupability of the Latino vote by anyone. Nor is it clear to me just why Republicans benefit by letting in millions and millions more poor, Latin-Americans who at least initially are likely to be Democrats.) But you get the point. ... This is MSM Kool-Aid McIntyre's drinking! ... 4:24 P.M.

Eroded Schorr: Daniel Schorr on NPR, explaining why Bush might want to change the subject from his administration's ongoing troubles by blustering against Iran, noted that even as Bush addressed the issue at Johns Hopkins immigrants were "massing around the country against his immigration policy."  ... Er, weren't they massing for Bush's immigration policy (and against the House Republicans' policy)? Just askin'! ... But why let these tedious Inside-the-Beltway nuances get in the way when there's some smug NPR Bush-bashing to do? 1:08 A.M.

Just a Reminder: Ron Burkle, the L.A. billionaire who has   come off looking very good in the Page Six scandal, might well be someone you'd want to read good, accurate,  gossip about. Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times noted recently:

Burkle rose from bag boy at Stater Bros. to the owner of Ralphs, Food4Less and other chains. ...[snip]. He's also a leading donor to UCLA and major contributor to Democrats.

Whatever his laudable personal qualities, they aren't much in evidence in the divorce papers. I hesitate to go into the noisome particulars, but if he and his ex-wife, Janet, left any of the deadly sins out of their descriptions of each other in court, then I can't count to seven.  [Emphasis added]

In early 2004, according to Hiltzik, after Burkle failed to convince a judge to seal parts of the divorce record, the state legislature within months mysteriously

enacted — hastily, unanimously and without a single hearing — a law requiring judges in divorce court to seal in their entirety (upon a party's motion) any documents that mention the party's assets or other financial details even in passing.

Burkle then applied to seal weeks of trial transcripts, 22 exhibits and 28 other documents.

The law was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in June. According to an LAT story later that year, Burkle

gave contributions totaling $147,800 to Schwarzenegger and the state Democratic Party in February and March.

Was the California government cheaper than .... hey, better not finish that thought! Anyway, as the Times added, "Burkle denies any role in the bill." **  And there was this charming touch:

An attorney representing Burkle, Martin D. Singer, said in a letter to The Times that any allegation of Burkle's involvement in the passage of the law is "outrageous in the extreme."

"You proceed at your peril," Singer, identifying himself as Burkle's "litigation counsel," said in the letter.

Burkle also once denied to me, through an aide, that when Bill Clinton had stayed the night in Burkle's house, Clinton was up until 2 or 3 in the morning reading in Burkle's library. I don't know why I was checking out this salacious rumor, but something about the Burkle camp's insistence that Clinton had been in bed early--well before midnight, if I remember--reminded me again why calling for comment and dealing with lawyers isn't necessarily always a truth-uncovering exercise. When has Clinton ever gone to bed early? Maybe this once. ...

[Note to Burkle attorney: Make sure you send all intimidating letters to Hiltzik too! ]

[P.S.: And save one of those letters for the New York Times. The NYT reported on Sunday that Burkle "has pushed in the courts and in the California Legislature to keep his divorce records confidential." [Emph. added] Maybe the paper is referring to a more recent bill introduced after the 2004 bill was held unconstitutional. But Burkle denies a connection to the recent bill too. The NYT report sounds "outrageous in the extreme" to me!]

**--It's not as if Burkle and Schwarzenegger have the same lawyer. ... Oh, wait. ... 12:49 A.M. link

Monday, April 10, 2006

L.A. Immigrant Demo Report: Marcha Sin Gente! "Huge Crowds Expected in L.A.," was the headline on the L.A. Times web site. But today's Los Angeles pro-immigrant demonstration--scheduled for 5:00 in the evening--was shockingly small. It filled an interesection and a little park in the Olvera St. section. That's about it. Anybody who says there were more than 12,000 people there is full of it! I'd say 5,000-8,000. ... The organizers certainly cut down on the backlash potential. ... P.S.: I went looking for the fabled Korean contingent--I was told they had good drummers--and couldn't find it, or hear it. Once again the protest seemed 98% Latino. Mood: Friendly, as with the Gran Marcha two weeks ago. ... Update: [The LAT estimates the crowd at 4,000--ed   Seems right. I was trying not to lowball it. Wouldn't want another "Brokeback" situation.] ...  7:11 P.M. link

I realize that neither of the previous two items discussed immigration reform. My apologies to those concerned about this blog's growing lack of focus. Here, for you, is Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions instant analysis  of why the fabled, collapsed Hagel-Martinez immigration compromise was a loophole-ridden deception! Sessions' spiel impressed when he gave it on the floor last Thursday, and it's still impressive in print. [It's a long document. Search for "waltz" and start there. ...] As with welfare reform, it turns out smart liberal lawyers can hide a lot of mischief in the fine print of immigration reform (including, in both cases, a vaporous definition of "work"). ... P.S.: Welfare reform succeeded, in part, because one unusually powerful and trusted House staff member--Ron Haskins, who worked for Rep. Clay Shaw--kept an eye out and helped block the mischief. I wonder, reading Sessions' critique, if Senator Frist needs a Haskins of his own. ... 3:07 P.M.

Arrow Points to Defective Part: Harry Shearer, who's been following with admirable, apolitical, homeowners' tenacity the finger-pointing about the New Orleans levees, notes that the guilty party has finally fessed up--and the press didn't notice2:54 A.M.

Some emailers argue that bloggingheads.tv has made a hideous strategic misstep by featuring commentary by someone who actually knows what they are talking about.  I'll lobby to make sure it doesn't happen again.... In the meantime, you can watch Jacqueline Shire's lucid explanation of what Iran is doing to get the bomb, and the missed "magic moment" right after we toppled Saddam in 2003,  and the problem with a military strike. ... Meanwhile Bob Wright  floats his "wild" (her word) proposal  for dealing with the crisis. ... 2:37 A.M.

Worthwhile Canadian Commentary: Highly-effective Mark Steyn column, sabotaged by a Chicago Sun-Times headline writer. ("No easy answers on immigration conundrum." If a less enticing headline has ever been written, I missed it. Makes "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative" seem like a salacious come-on! ... P.S.: Maybe it's ironic mockery. But nobody will get it.) [via Lucianne] 12:16 P.M.

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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]