The Gray Princess: Once again the Internet empowers the little guy with a blog to take on entrenched citadels of previously unchecked power! In this case, the little guy is the General Motors Corporation. I'm not saying GM has effectively used its web site to make the NYT letters editors look like self-protective twits of the sort you might expect would wind up editing the New York Times letters section.But I'm not saying they haven't! ... Does NYT Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins really object to the use of the word "rubbish"? She never seemed like the delicate type. Does Thomas Friedman (to whose column GM was objecting) need that kind of insulation? Who checks his mattresses for peas? ... P.S.: It's not as if GM's letter was so devastating, or raised annoying factual claims that demanded a response. ... 5:44 P.M.
David Mastio has a good idea for New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus. ... 12:52 P.M.
Is McCain Blowing It, Part III: Pat Buchanan says yes! He would. But it's a tightly-argued column. 12:23 P.M.
The Last Hundred Days ... : The New York Times on the successful Senate filibuster of a bill to fully repeal the estate tax ("GOP Fails in Attempt ..."):
Republicans are now debating whether to give up on their goal and attack Democrats in the coming midterm elections as obstructionists on a measure that they say has considerable support, or settle for a bipartisan measure that would stop short of eliminating the tax entirely.
Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, said he would continue to meet with Senate leaders and crucial Democrats to discuss options for compromise. But there were few signs on Thursday of any new deal.
There often aren't signs of a deal until there's a deal! Read the NYT story yourself and see if you don't agree that the array of forces points to some sort of partial repeal deal. Specifically, 1) Republicans would like to take some legislative accomplishments to the voters. 2) They know they'll be weaker in the next Congress than they are in this one. ...
P.S.: A recent Kyl partial-repeal proposal, the Times says, "failed to win over more than two or three Democrats." Hmm. Isn't that close to being all Kyl needs? The Senate was only three votes short of cloture on full repeal, remember, though some of those may have been posturing votes that would evaporate if they really mattered. ...
Update: According to BNA Daily Tax Report [$] Sen. Kyl's GOP compromise estate tax proposal would exempt $10 million per couple and tax the rest at 15 percent, eventually rising to 30 percent. The Dem proposal would exempt $7 million and tax the rest at "increasing increments topping out at 35 percent." ... $10M vs. $7M, 30 % vs. 35%. Do those sound like incommensurable difference of principle to you, or the sort of routine numerical haggling that negotiators could clean up while waiting for change at the soda machine? ... Suggestion: $8 million and 32%. There, we've done it! ... [Thanks to reader R.] 3:05 A.M.
"Narrow Victory by G.O.P. Signals Fall Problems": Cocooning-- nobody does it better! Adam "Caterpillar" Nagourney triumphantly returns to regain his title as the best at his profession--the profession of telling gullible Democrats that this time they really have the Republicans on the run! [Nagourney's piece seemed on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-handiish. What, exactly, did he miss?--ed
1) Nagourney talks about "Republican institutional advantages" but misses the key, substantive advantage Tuesday's election revealed, namely the power of theHouse GOP immigration "enforcement" position to mobilize core Republican voters.
2) Instead, Nagourney says the pro-enforcement vote "highlighted divisions within the [Republican] party" between get-tough House members and President Bush. But it's Republican House members who are in the ballot in November, and it's their Democratic opponents who are likely to adopt President Bush's pro-legalization position. If we're talking about Signaling Fall Problems, why doesn't the centrality of the immigration issue Signal Fall Problems for the Dems, as opposed to the GOPs?
3) Nagourney, says, of the victorious GOP candidate,
Mr. Bilbray's failure to break 50 percent was striking.
But, as the LAT's Brownstein and Hook have the honesty to note,
Bilbray ran behind Bush mostly because two conservative independent candidates siphoned off about 5% of the vote.
Nagourney's failure to mention the conservative appeal of the independent candidates is ... striking.
4) "This was never considered a truly contested district," declares Nagourney. Two paragraphs later he says it was on a list of "the 10 most competitive races for House seats now held by Republicans, as identified by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report." Huh? Sounds like it was considered contested by Cook! ...]
Update: Taranto notes that editors at the Times' Paris-based International Herald Tribune failed to draw the correct conclusion from another, more condensed Nagourney report, giving it the headline: "Republicans prove they're tough to beat." 1:55 A.M. link
Media Ethicists 0, Readers 1: That widely-denounced Patrick Healy story on the state of the Clinton marriage was the NYT's #2 most-read story of the month. The Times' readers have a point, no? More Clinton gossip, please! (And better.)... P.S.: The ability of the Web to measure the popularity of individual stories--most-read, most-emailed, most blogged--may in fact prove a powerful solvent of respectable journalistic caution. Exhibit A is the Los Angeles Times, where story selection is vastly better recently--e.g. front page coverage of a fatal shooting at a Westside high school, in a newspaper that previously tended to consider splashy crime coverage too tabloidish. One reason for the LAT'simprovement may be that--thanks to the paper's Web site--its editors are now aware of which pieces actually interest their readers. ... Of course, it's always possible that editors will make their coverage too tabloidish while whoring after Web hits. That is not a danger at the LAT! ... P.P.S.: And overpaid Times writers no longer produce lazy columns smugly boasting about how tough, even-handed, and clever they are. ... Oh, wait. Sorry. I take that last bit back. ... [Thanks to reader G.] 11:03 P.M.
There must be a good backstory to the blowhardish Rick Kaplan's exit from MSNBC, don't you think? TV Newser and Lloyd Grove nibble around the edges but don't quite have it. ... Maybe WaPo's Howie Kurtz can finally cover Kaplan, now that he's not also working for him! ... 10:18 P.M.
X + Burkle = Fun! California Democrats picked state Treasurer Phil Angelides to run against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here's an interesting Google page to get the fall campaign started! ... [Reader JPS emailed you that?--ed No. He's fallen strangely silent! But true believers don't need an order from his cave to know what to do.] 2:18 A.M.
Is Freedom Contagious? The Boston Herald's columnists are now free. How much longer will Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, and Paul Krugman remain trapped behind Pinch's wall? ... 1989 is coming to 42d Street! ... 1:37 A.M.
Is It Good for the Yahoos? This seems to be the best site for official returns from California's 50th Congresssional District, in which a Democratic supporter of the Senate's McCain-Kennedy "comprehensive" immigration approach is challenging a Republican supporter of the House "enforcement" approach--and the main reason the Republican might lose is that an even-tougher-on-immigration Minuteman-type third party candidate is stealing some of his votes. ... Even the Democratic candidate ran ads portraying herself as tough on immigration ("stronger enforcement at the border, better support for border agents and no amnesty"). ... As of this writing, with almost 60% of the vote in, the Republican is nevertheless winning. Tomorrow, Fred Barnes and William Kristol will explain why this means the immigration issue has "flipped" in favor of the losing Senate approach. ...
Update: Republican Brian Bilbray has won. ...
More: ABC's The Note mocks the Dem excuses (e.g. "it's a very conservative district") but bizarrely ignores the immigration issue, instead drawing a lesson about the GOP's "party apparatus that is adept at turning campaigns to local issues." Immigration isn't a local issue; it's a national issue! Maybe National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Reynolds stressed the power of "local issues" in his post-victory spin because his party's leader, President Bush, is on the unpopular, losing side of the national issue that seems to have mattered in this race. But just because immigration gets ignored in both parties' spin doesn't mean it wasn't important. ... Newt agrees. ...
P.S.--Anti-excuse: Bruce Cutler, who actually lives in the 50th Congressional District, notes a factor that should have mitigated the GOP edge in the district: The only big contested primary race (for governor) was on the Democratic side, which would normally be expected to draw Democratic voters, but not Republicans, to the polls. ...
Still More: MyDD's Stoller argues, delusionally, that the "story of the night" is that Republican Bilbray "won on a progressive platform." Stoller tries to "clarify a bit" in a postscript:
Yes, the hard right immigration line helped Bilbray, but that was because he ran against Bush.
Right. That's the ticket! I mean, immigration couldn't be about ... immigration. That would be taking things too literally. ... 1:22 A.M.
Gore Pulls Out ... of Kosistan: The striking thing about Al Gore's appearance on ABC's "This Week" program Sunday was that he did not call for any sort of deadline-driven withdrawal from Iraq. Quite the opposite--he was careful to emphasize the potential of a pullout to make the situation worse. From ABC:
"I would pursue the twin objectives of trying to withdraw our forces as quickly as we possibly can, while at the same time minimizing the risk that we'll make the mess over there even worse and raise even higher the danger of civil war," Gore said.
Dismissing calls for any deadline, Gore added, "It's possible that setting a deadline could set in motion forces that would make it even worse. I think that we should analyze that very carefully. My guess is that a deadline is probably not the right approach; ....
Gore might have said this because he didn't want to make news that would distract from his global warming pitch; he might have said it because he's willing to cede John Kerry the left in any presidential primary Iraq debate. But the most likely reason he said it is because he actually believes it, which will be highly disappointing to pro-withdrawal Democrats who have been pushing a Gore candidacyout of frustration with Hillary's pro-war stands. Turns out he's just another 'now-that-we're-there' Democrat. Sorry, Arianna! ... P.S.: Gore's caution is in keeping with too-easily-overlooked new doubts about a pullout on the left, including those in this In These Times article. ... 2:50 A.M. link
Dead Man Running: Thomas Lipscomb, probably the nation's leading expert on why not all of the Swift Boat veteran allegations against Senator John Kerry are discredited, pokes holes in NYT reporter Kate Zernike's account of Kerry's continuing efforts to defend himself against charges of embellishing his heroism. ... Of course. at this point only artificial conventions of objectivity prevent MSM journalists from openly acknowledging that Kerry has no hope of winning the presidency. He's a dead man who doesn't know it, a political zombie refighting a lost campaign by refighting his role in a lost war, long after both conflicts are over. The delusional, obsessive quality of his permanent campaign ("I have the hat!") is something I suspect Zernike--or at least her headline writer--was trying to get across, even though she seems to Lipscomb (and others) like a gullible Kerry sympathizer. ... 2:11 A.M.
Shoot the Ute! Recent in-depth kf research into cutting-edge consumer attitudes in affluent West L.A. suggests that--as the metrics would seem to indicate--people are trading in their SUVs for large sedans. Affluent people are, anyway. ... And if SUVs ever become unhip-seeming to kids, as they are on the verge of becoming, it's all over for them--since half the rationale for SUVs was that they were, in effect, minivans your kids wouldn't refuse to ride in. ...10:24 P.M. link
Follow the Honeys! Disastrous ombudspedant Byron Calame thinks some recent New York Times copy needed to be "purged of its zippiness." Yes, that's the problem with the Times' National section. Too zippy! Calame certainly can't be accused of failing to take his own medicine. ... P.S.: The "too feisty" paragraph in question--about ex-President Clinton running around Los Angeles with a certain publicity-shy billionaire--was about the only reason for publishing the Times' piece on the Clinton marriage. . ... [Isn't there a problem with NYT reporters trying to imitate Maureen Dowd by turning out breezy copy that plays on smug, hidden assumptions?--ed That seemed more of a problem three years ago. And in this case the smug assumption--that Bill Clinton, of all people, might be a philanderer!--is sound.] ... 8:19 P.M.
McCain Blowing It, Part II: He'll suck up to Jerry Falwell, but he won't campaign** for an embattled fellow Republican who opposes his semi-amnesty immigrant-legalization bill--even though the Republicans' loss, in an off-year Congressional election, will be widely interpreted as a further sign of Republican weakness. ... Snide question: Does McCain benefit from his party's weakness? If they were riding high, would they turn to him? ...
Peggy Noonan makes the case for a Perot-like 'Perot-like third party candidacy' (one that can express popular anger over amnesty-like immigration plans, unlike the too-respectable Unity08 crowd.). ... P.S.: I disagree with Noonan on one point: She says
As for the Democrats, who co-created Homeland Security, no one--no one--thinks they would be more managerially competent.
I'm not so sure. Doesn't it seem as if the Clinton second-tier hacks were more competent, on balance, than the Bush second-tier hacks? It's not easy to get invited to Renaissance Weekend! Meanwhile, what kind of pro-business Republican is it who can't make it in business and has to become a GS-16? ... Mike McCurry and Scott McClellan--compare and contrast! ... James Lee Witt vs. Michael Brown.** ... Fannie Mae, where the Dem's best and brightest went to get rich by violating generally-accepted accounting rules, would be a counterexample. But Fannie Mae was a well-run scam! ... Third Party Link Parade: Vincent Carroll, Instapundit, Pod the Enforcer, Malkin. ...
**--One thing I've never understood: When you report on a campaign, you notice that virtually all major candidates' "advance men" and women are astonishingly, scarily competent--full of energy, able to organize a three-factory tour with portable bleachers in ten minutes. Where do these people go when the governing starts? Are they so tired they sleep for four years? ... 3:11 P.M. link
The Pence Scam: The WSJ's John Fund, no border "enforcement" type, thinks McCain/Bush pro-legalization immigration reformers should run desperately for the "shelter" of the Pence "compromise" guest worker plan. Congressman Pence would require illegals to leave the country and apply for a guest worker program that he bills asequally open to those who never came here illegally in the first place. Pence's talking points declare (emphasis not added):
The Pence Plan does not favor illegal immigrants over people who have not broken our immigration laws. Anyone may apply for a guest worker visa at the new Ellis Island Centers outside the United States.
But this is obviously disingenuous. Pence's own description of the plan makes it clear that current illegal immigrants will have every advantage over outside applicants for the guest worker program, because the program--which matches foreign workers with U.S. employers--will allow their current employers to in effect request them. Here's Pence:
Now, some of you are thinking to yourselves that twelve million people aren't going to pack up and leave just to get a visa to come back legally. But, I believe most will.
The process that I just described to you will only take a matter of one week, or less. That is the beauty of the program. Speed is so important. No employer in America wants to lose employees for an extended amount of time. No worker who is earning money to feed and clothe a family can afford to be off the job for long.
But, an employer faced with a looming requirement to verify the legality of its employees and stiff fines for employing illegal aliens will be willing to use a quick system to obtain legal employees. And, an illegal alien currently employed in America will be willing to take a quick trip across the border to come back outside of the shadows and in a job where he does not fear a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In fact, I envision employers working with placement agencies to make sure that their long-time illegal employees get their paperwork processed, background checks performed, and visas issued so that they will be back on the job quickly. [Emphasis added]
In other words, their re-admission will be wired in advance. Since "the number of guest workers will be limited," those who stayed in their native countries and played by the rules (and therefore never worked for U.S. employers who could in effect sponsor them) will be shut out. That's the "beauty of the program"! It couldn't be any other way--without the pre-wiring, existing illegals wouldn't be willing to leave the country, as Pence acknowledges.
Entering illegally becomes the way to re-enter legally. That isn't a lesson that will be lost on future generations of impoverished foreign workers. ... P.S.: Pence's pre-wired illegals will be also be allowed to become citizens--sorry, to "enter a separate process of seeking citizenship." Another "compromise" element! ... 3:24 A.M. link
The Forward Lean: Is McCain Blowing It? Meanwhile, Ross Douthat asks the next obvious question--whether, when his immigration reform effort fails, McCain will righteously persist at the expense of his chances for the Republican nomination:
[F]or the first time in a long while I think that John McCain might not be the Republican nominee in 2008 - and the reason is immigration. The Senator's line on the matter seems to me to be a distillation of all that's wrong with McCainism - the moral vanity, the knee-jerk belief in reform for reform's sake, the willingness to promote a bad bill just because it's your pet issue, and the willingness to let the bien-pensant "center" set the political agenda, regardless of the merits of the case. And given the GOP base's feelings on the subject, it's hard to see how this won't come back to bite him.
Of course, McCain always has the option of forswearing the GOP nomination and running as a Perot-like independent. The point is that over the next few months, through his behavior on immigration, he may effectively be making that choice for himself. Unlike Noah Millman, I find it hard to believe McCain doesn't realize this. ... Update: See also Influence Peddler. But it's not just that McCain is failing to "lock up" conservatives. He's actively outraging them. ...3:12 A.M. link
[Insert non-immigration item here for badly-needed variety--ed Not before I go to sleep. ... Update: How about the Burkle Clip of the Day?] 4:37 A.M.
The semi-amnesty magnet is already exerting its pull: You don't think poor foreign workers would make big life decisions based on distorted rumors about the possibility of eventual legalization in the U.S.? WaPo reports:
Tens of thousands of Honduran and Nicaraguan immigrants nationwide risk losing their legal status in the United States today because they have not renewed their temporary work permits under a program to help victims of natural disasters, some in the mistaken belief that they will soon be on the path to becoming U.S. citizens.
With the deadline approaching by the end of today, about half the eligible applicants have yet to apply for renewal. They could lose their jobs and face deportation ... [snip]
Many Hondurans and Nicaraguans have not yet renewed because they think they will soon benefit from immigration reforms, including a guest worker program and other measures that could pave the way for citizenship, immigrant advocates said.
Some Spanish language stations have apparently done their listeners a disservice by "predicting the passage of immigration legislation now winding through Congress." Don't they recognize Washington ('I'll-vote-for-this-because-I-know-it-won't-pass') Kabuki? Sure, well-paid pundits don't, but pundits have an excuse! They're pushing an agenda, and their livelihoods aren't on the line. ... P.S.: Something else may be at work, WaPo hints--namely that these currently-legal immigrants prefer to stay and live illegally 'in the shadows.' If a $250 renewal fee for legalization isn't worth paying , maybe life 'in the shadows' isn't all that bad. ... 11:34 P.M.
More than 100,000 visits to bloggingheads.tv in March. ... Donny Deutsch, you are toast! [Deutsch has arguably the lousiest talk show on cable, yet still gets as many viewers per day as you guys get per month--ed But does he have the prized never-leave-the-house demographic? Think he does-ed]9:30 P.M.
A distinguished bipartisan California citizen's group has called on "Governor Schwarzenegger and members of the State Legislature to support legislative redistricting reform." Where were all these "professionals from government, academia, media, issue and community advocacy, labor and business" last year when Schwarzenegger actually had a redistricting plan on the ballot?** It lost with 40% of the vote. ... P.S.: If Schwarzenegger's initiative had passed, Democrats would be having a much easier time retaking the House, and not only because the anti-gerrymander principle helps Dems if applied nationwide. In California itself, Prop 77 would have created maybe 10 new competitive districts subject to swings in the overall electoral mood--swings that currently favor the Dems. ... P.P.S.: The biggest loser when Schwarzenegger's reform initiative went down was probably not Schwarzenegger, but Nancy Pelosi (who foolishly raised money to fight it). ... P.P.P.S.:Daily Kos was one of the few prominent Dems who supported Schwarzenegger's plan ...
**--Some, such as Leon Panetta, did publicly back 77. 8:44 P.M.
Laptopiary: Bob Wright describes how a combination of a) a third party in laptop (such as the effort reported by Jon Alter) and b) a timely dropping-out could lead to a quasi-parliamentary negotiated government and radical, elite-driven reforms. ... The semi-paralyzing complexity comes when there isn't one party in a laptop but five of them. ... [Sullivan says this item is ... er ... not clear. Hard to disagree--ed It isn't clear. It's a teaser! You're supposed to click on the links. It's webby! Sullivan naturally deletes the links when he reprints and mocks the item. He'd be more ethical if I liked Brokeback!] ... [He didn't like Brokeback either--ed But everyone else had to.] 1:45 A.M. link
General Motors may turn Pontiac into an all-rear-wheel-drive division, a decision that should have been made about 10 years ago. ... Even better, the planned rear-drive cars are not only sporty, impractical models (like the current Solstice) but include a sedan--something Robert Cumberford of Automobile in fact recommended, in writing, about 10 years ago. ... GM's planning is so pathetic, however, that it will try to sell one more generation of unsatisfying front-drive cars under the "damaged" Pontiac brand. There's also an unnecessary multi-year gap before the next-generation GTO. ... If GM were a software company they'd be out of business due to a fatally slow reaction-time. Heck, if they were a blog they might be out of business. ... P.S.: Where's Ford's new rear-driver? ... [via Autoblog] 12:01 A.M.
How Wrong Can You Be? This wrong:
THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE HAS FLIPPED in President Bush's favor. The public now firmly supports toughened border enforcement plus--and this is a big plus for the president--a system for letting illegal immigrants already in America earn citizenship. ... [snip] ... The ones with the politically untenable position are Democrats who want an immigration issue (but not actual legislation) to use against Republicans in November, and Republicans who want merely to increase border security.
The upshot is that an immigration bill appears likely (but not certain) to pass when Congress returns from its Easter recess on April 24--and probably in a "comprehensive" form congenial to Bush and Republican congressional leaders. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have indicated they back this approach, not a bill simply calling for stronger border security.
The turning point came in March ...
--Fred Barnes, "Bordering on Victory,"Weekly Standard, April 24, 2006 [Emphasis added]
Hastert? Here's the latest WaPo report from Earth:
Republican House members facing the toughest races this fall are overwhelmingly opposed to any deal that provides illegal immigrants a path to citizenship -- an election-year dynamic that significantly dims the prospects that President Bush will win the immigration compromise he is seeking, according to Republican lawmakers and leadership aides.
The opposition spreads across the geographical and ideological boundaries that often divide House Republicans ... [snip]
Despite some national polls showing strong support for a comprehensive solution of the sort favored by Bush, nearly every GOP lawmaker interviewed for this article said the House plan to secure the borders and enforce existing immigration laws is unquestionably the safer political stand in his or her district. Many Democrats from vulnerable districts say the same thing, although the Democratic Caucus as a whole is more sympathetic to a Senate-style compromise.
-- Jim VandeHei and Zachary A. Goldfarb, "Immigration Deal at Risk as House GOP Looks to Voters," Washington Post, Sunday May 28, 2006
If you watched ABC's This Week yesterday, you saw that last week's bogus CW assumption--that the only bill capable of passing Congress is a Senate style "comprehensive" bill--has crumbled with startling rapidity. The consensus at George Stephanopoulos' bull session was that if the House GOPs are smart they'll pass a non-comprehensive, enforcement bill and let Senate Democrats try to block it. ... I predict the Senate Dems will filibuster it, the same way they filibustered and blocked Justices Roberts and Alito! ...
P.S.: If the House passes A (enforcement) and the Senate passes A (enforcement) + B (legalization)--and if, as the Weekly Standardites claim, the Republicans need to pass something, isn't the most conspicuous candidate for that something the common element that has been approved by both chambers? In other words, A. ... If the pot needs to be sweetened for Latino lobbyists and voters, why not throw in an increase in the (too low) quotas of future legal immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American nations? ... See also RCP's McIntyre, who has now almost completely reversed his April position. ... 1:56 A.M. link
They'll be here all week: Achenbach and Wright in an impressive deadpan-off. ... 2:43 P.M.
Does the just-passed Senate immigration bill really only require illegal immigrants to pay back taxes for 3 of the past 5 years? It looks that way. I'll take that deal! ... See also Grassley and Steyn. ... My sophisticated political antennae tell me that this provision will not go over well! At some point, the voters may conclude the Senate has simply lost its mind. ... P.S.: "Advocates of expanded immigrant rights" have some arguably more esoteric fine-print objections to the Senate bill (e.g. you'd have to show an immigration board's decision had no "reasonable" grounds to get it overturned in federal court). Guess which side's complaints got publicized in the Washington Post? 6:24 P.M.
Bring Back McClellan! New Bush press secretary Tony Snow on legalizing illegal immigrants--
"If you had a traffic ticket and you paid it, you're not forever a speeder, are you?" White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said in response to questions from The Examiner.
"So the fact is, you have paid your debt to society," he added. "And we have come up with a way to make sure that the debt to society gets paid. Then you move forward." [Emphasis added]
There's an analogy that will win over angry anti-legalization conservatives. ... [via Drudge, which makes it worse for Snow] 3:09 P.M.
'In The End It Almost Doesn't Matter if the Hitler Diaries are Real Or Not' Paragraph of the Day: From Kurt Eichenwald's gauzy "news analysis":
Indeed, it could be argued that the most significant lesson from the trial had nothing to do with whether the defendants, both former Enron chief executives, committed the crimes charged in their indictments. Instead, the testimony and the documents admitted during the case painted a broad and disturbing portrait of a corporate culture poisoned by hubris, leading ultimately to a recklessness that placed the business's survival at risk. [Emphasis added]
Even if the "most significant lesson" didn't have to do with with their technical guilt or innocence, surely it had to do with whether they were guilty of something a bit more culpable than "hubris" and "recklessness"--something like what Joe Nocera [$] calls the "fraud" of creating "the illusion of a profitable corporation" through various deceptive machinations. ... [Thanks to reader J.] 2:45 P.M.
"Girls Can't Hide From Intensified Guys": Loved Dekker. Hated Marley. Object to identifying Dekker mainly as precursor to Marley! RIP. 2:20 P.M.
The MSM's Unicameral Pressure:
"House GOP's Back is to the Wall on Borders"--headline in today's LAT
Why is it, exactly, that it's the House that's now backed up against a wall, and not the Senate? Each chamber has passed an immigration bill; now they're negotiating. The LAT's Janet Hook portrays the looming choice as a decision by House GOPs to go along with the Senate's legalization approach or do nothing. But why isn't it a decision by senatorsto either go along with the House's enforcement approach or do nothing? ... I'll believe the MSM isn't biased in favor of semi-amnesty when I start to read stories in the two Timeses questioning why the Senate's negotiators don't back off their extreme, untested**, megalomaniacal, Hillarycarian do-it-all-at-once scheme in favor of the House's more responsible, incremental approach. ...
P.S.: If the House GOPs now pass a watered-down enforcement-only bill (e.g., a fence or wall, employer sanctions, but no felony) wouldn't that put a difficult choice to Democrats running in swing districts: Do they really want to explain, right before November, why they voted against reasonable enforcement measures? Whose 'back would be to the wall' then? ... And are we sure such a bill would founder in the Senate? Would, say, Hillary really vote against it? DeWine? Frist? I don't think so. ...
P.P.S.: The concise, anti-Timesish Deborah Orin set out two interesting sub-contests in today's Senate immigration-bill vote: a) Would it get a majority of all Republicans (so it couldn't be portrayed, in the House, as a "Democratic bill")? and b) How would it do among those Republican senators up for reelection. ... The answer is it lost among all Republicans by a non-trivial 32-23 margin. And it lost, 10-5, among Republicans up for reelection. ... Among all senators up for reelection, however, it won by a 20-13 margin. ... (The bill passed, with lots of Democratic support, 62-36. kf spin: That's a solid starting base of 36 for the enforcement common-denominator!) ...
Update: Several emailers note that the pressure might be on the House because President Bush sides with the Senate. But would Bush really veto an enforcement-only bill right before the election? He's under pressure too, no? The LAT's Hooks buys into a seemingly bogus CW assumption that the only bill that has a chance of actually becoming law is Senate-style bill featuring significant legalization of existing illegals. That her piece is otherwise highly sensitive to popular anti-legalization sentiment only shows how deep that assumption runs!
Update 2: The NYT's Rachel Swarns notes that "some Republicans in the House" see the "ground ... shifting" away from enforcement-only, citing Rep. Mike Pence's compromise guest-worker proposal. But there are also signs (unreported by Swarns) pointing in the other direction--e.g. liberal GOP Rep. Chris Shays shifting against a "path to citizenship" after attending "18 community meetings" in his district.
**--Actually, it's not untested. It was tried in 1986. It failed. 7:01 P.M.
Blogger Jonathan Zasloff sees some potentially successful Souljah-ing in would-be Speaker Pelosi's move against Rep. Jefferson. ... Update: The Congressional Black Caucus is stepping up to play its role--they're threatening a "defiant statement"! ... 6:59 P.M.
David Smith, kf's go-to guy on the Democratic gravy train-turned-scandal of Fannie Mae, has posted a useful, link-rich timeline. ... 6:54 P.M.
Eat Your Heart Out, Romenesko: Thomas Edsall, a subtle and sophisticated a political reporter who often spots counter-conventional trends long before everyone else, has taken the WaPo buyout and will be "working as a special correspondent for The New Republic beginning in mid-July," he says in a multi-adressee email. Bad news for the Post, I think. ... Crow: Back in 2002, I accused Edsall of "reification" and predicted that, contrary to his report, conservatives would surely change their habits and learn how to fully take advantage of the "527" loophole in time for the 2004 elections. But they didn't. He was right. ... 1:14 A.M.
Strange Old Disrespect: Steve Sailer chops up Dana Milbank'ssneering treatment of Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has committed the sin of arguing in a detailed, reasonable and lawyerly fashion against the Senate immigration bill. ... Sample Milbank sneer and Sailer response:
Sessions has joined the immigration debate with typical ferocity, impugning the motives of those who disagree with him. "We have quite a number of members of the House and Senate and members in the media who are all in favor of reforms and improvements as long as they don't really work," he said last week of those who opposed the 370 miles of fencing. "But good fences make good neighbors. Fences don't make bad neighbors."
The senator evidently hadn't consulted the residents of Korea, Berlin or the West Bank. [Emphasis added]
Killer line, Dana! Obviously, the residents of Korea or the West Bank would have lived in perfect harmony without those horrible fences keeping them separate.
Also: If Milbank thinks what Sessions said was "impugning the motives of those who disagree with him," he's got a pretty low threshold of impugnment! ... Anyway, isn't Milbank's whole piece a much-more-obvious attempt to impugn Sessions' motives (e.g., by presenting him as an unreconstructed Southern bigot and "country tough")? ... P.S.: Milbank's caught in the traditional, fatal no-man's land of MSM semi-opinion "attitude" writing. Obviously he thinks Sessions is wrong on immigration. But because he's not a full-fledged opinion writer, he doesn't have to explain and justify this real, underlying conclusion through any sort of argument (something he's perfectly capable of doing). ... Update: Dan Riehl has more. ... 12:40 A.M.
Eat Your Heart Out, Note: Arianna totally buries her lede today. Here it is, from Graf 13:
[T]his past weekend [Bill Clinton] was the surprise speaker at an under-the-radar gathering of Democratic heavy hitters--including deep-pocket donors like George Soros--in Austin, Texas. The event was a meeting of the Democracy Alliance, the Rob Stein-led group that is helping build and fund a progressive infrastructure to match the GOP's well-oiled political machine.
Sources present at the off-the-record meeting tell me that during a Q & A session following Bill Clinton's speech, someone asked the former president about Hillary's support of the war.
Clinton became incensed and unleashed the kind of fury that former Clinton staffers tell me they are very familiar with.
Apparently Clinton directed his anger first at the questioner (indeed, the question itself as if it were impertinent and inappropriate), then at the whole crowd, which was startled at his vehemence. [Emphasis added]
Bonus points if you can name Huffington's source(s). ... 8:02 P.M.
Nanny-in-Waiting: Shouldn't Hillary Clinton be very wary of endorsing a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, as she did Tuesday (for "most of the country, where 55-miles an hour doesn't seem like a burden")? Even if it's a good idea, she should be wary!** At least if she wants to be President. The most damaging aspect of Hillary's personality, politically--damaging because it seems to reflect an underlying, immutable character flaw--is her tendency to come across as an I-know-what's-good-for-you scold. The campaign hasn't begun and she's already scolded young people as lazy. Now she wants to punish people for sinfully going 60. Next she'll be saying
At every gas station there ought to be a little sign which says, "Have you checked to see if your tires are inflated to the right pressure?"
Oh wait. She said that on Tuesday too. ... I mean, next she'll be telling us to turn down our thermostats! ... And turn our garbage into mulch! ... And refrain from hollow, promiscuous sex! [She can't do that last one--ed Why? Did I miss something? I only read the New York Times. Seems like she spends a lot of time with her husband. That means he can't be cheating on her! No it doesn't--ed Oh, right.] ...
**--She was wary. (The issue only came up in a question.) Just not wary enough. ... 6:19 P.M.
Novak notes that not only did the Senate require that "guest workers" be paid Davis-Bacon (e.g., union) wages--but, unlike regular American workers
Foreign guest farm workers, admitted under the bill, cannot be ''terminated from employment by any employer ... except for just cause.''
Overpaid, unfireable ... guest workers, the new civil servants! Finally, farm laborers Washington can love. ... Special Instapundit-RelatedBackfill: See earlier post on the non-contradictory "poison pill" and sweetening effects of these bizarre provisions. Just because they make a mess of the guest worker program doesn't mean they're a good thing! ... 2:32 A.M.
Translation: 'I decide when we slime the base around here, buddy.'
How many Republicans will have the courage to stand up and prevent the yahoos from driving the party off a cliff? [Emphasis added]
- William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, 4/10/2006
There are people who have different honest opinions... it's not a matter of racism or nativism.
-William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, 5/21/06
Isn't backing down like that a sign of weakness in Kristol's culture? ... Maybe he meant "yahoo" in, you know, a good way. ... P.S.: Actually, the second quote was Kristol's reaction when Juan Williams took Kristol's own sneering characterization of the anti-Bush immigration conservatives and ran with it. ... P.P.S.: But this Robert Novak column really might be one of the first signs of pessimism in the current suspiciously concerted, panicky GOP pundit-push for a bill-any-billby Memorial Day:
The problem is that President Bush's efforts to take control of the border have been unconvincing. Sources in the Homeland Security Department say that his summoning of 6,000 National Guard troops, who cannot arrest anybody or discharge firearms, will release only 500 Border Patrol guards for actual duty on the border. ... [snip]
The consensus on Capitol Hill is that Bush and Rove were blindsided by the immigration tide and are still foundering.
Wasn't this same Novak person writing, a month ago, that Bush was "gaining rather than losing strength" on the immigration issue because Republican "constituents are less outraged by leaky borders than the possible loss of immigrant workers, some from their own households." I think he was! ... [Maybe Novak is just prisoner of his sources-ed If so, why hasn't La Raza consultant Jeff Bell been calling and boasting about how the issue's still tipping in Bush's favor?] ... [Thanks to reader I.C.]7:06 P.M. link
Pregnant Burkle Sentence of the Day: Let disgraced Page Six reporter Jared Paul Stern read the New York Times for you! Today, he emails to note that publicity-shy billionaire Ron Burkle is back on the Times front page. In a piece on the Clinton marriage, the Times reports:
Mr. Clinton is rarely without company in public, yet the company he keeps rarely includes his wife. Nights out find him zipping around Los Angeles with his bachelor buddy, Ronald W. Burkle, or hitting parties and fund-raisers in Manhattan; ... [Emph. added]
What do Clinton and Burkle do to fill the night-time hours? Good question! According to the NYT, "prominent New York Democrats" were concerned about a photograph of Clinton merely leaving a restaurant with a large group that included Belinda Stronach, the Canadian pol. That's a low threshhold of concern! ... I predict they will be concerned again! ...
P.S.: My second favorite sentence in the NYT piece was this:
He sometimes takes part in her strategy sessions, but the sensitivity about his political role is so great that her advisers differed on his influence and frequency of participation — though all agreed that at home, his sway is felt.
Why weren't these differing assessments based on differing perceptions, as opposed to "sensitivity about his political role"? Because NYT reporter Patrick Healy simply assumes that the Clinton aides will spin (i.e., lie about) the relationship as necessary to avoid issues of "sensitivity." I can't say he's wrong. ... 1:57 P.M.
She's Back: Jackie Shire busts Judith Miller for exaggerating Libya's WMD threat (this time in the Wall Street Journal, not the NYT). ... P.S.: I just discovered that you can play that video, and others, at faster-than-actual speeds on Windows Media Player. Just click the little box under the screen. I recommend 1.5X speed: You don't miss anything, and the software automatically adjusts the pitch of the voices. It makes me sound like Jim Pinkerton! Not that there's anything wrong with it. ... Why live life at only full speed? Once you go 1.5, normalcy seems unWebbily slow. ... 2:42 A.M. link
Spot the parody:
P.S.: McCain aide Mark Salter foolishly jumps into the mosh pit of self-righteousness!. ... 6:58 P.M.
Bush Lies, Base Dies!WaPo's Weisman and VandeHei recount the successful attempt of Senator Hagel and others to get the Bush White House to scuttle conservatives' attempt to amend the immigration bill
to stipulate that the 200,000 low-skilled immigrants allowed to enter the country under a new temporary-worker visa would have to leave when the visa expired.
According to WaPo, the conservative senators argued, ineffectively, that
that Bush has always said he backs a "temporary worker program," not a permanent funnel of immigrants to the United States.
Actually, it's worse than that. In Bush's big May 15 speech, he said flatly:
And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay.
Now it's been made clear that--according to the White House--temporary workers need not return to their home countries after all. Was Bush's speech statement just a lie? Was it a Clintonian weasel (technically accurate in the zen-tautological sense that their "stay" doesn't conclude until it concludes). ... P.S.: I happen to favor a path to citizenship for legal temporary workers from outside the country. (It's the illegal workers already inside the country I have problems with rewarding.) But if Bush didn't mean what he said, maybe he shouldn't have said it. Or does he have so much contempt for his own base--what Sen. Hagel, in a revealingly snotty outburst, called "the political lowest common denominator"--that he thinks he can con them with impunity? ... 1:48 P.M.
[A] national consensus has formed around what the president calls "comprehensive" immigration reform--that is, impenetrable border security plus earned citizenship and a temporary worker program. [Emphasis added] **
What nation is Barnes talking about? Mexico? Korea? El Salvador? ... P.S.: Barnes, unlike the fabled Times-reading left, isn't in a cocoon. He knows better--knows that if there's anything that hasn't yet come out of the bitter, divisive, etc., immigration debate it's consensus. He's just trying to panic conservative House Republicans into going along with Bush, on the grounds that Bush has been such a domestic failure--e.g., when his "lonely effort to reform Social Security last year flopped"--that a refusal to pass an immigration bill right now "would mark the end of the Bush presidency as an effective political force." But if it's really panic time, why not pressure Senate Republicans into passing a common-denominator enforcement bill? That way Republicans would get (a) an achievement to take to the voters and (b) a mobilized base. The Barnes Panic Button only gets the GOPs (a), plus a frustrated base. ...
** That must be the same national consensus Sen. Martinez of Florida was appealing to in his 2004 campaign when he declared:
I support a plan that matches workers with needy employers without providing a path to citizenship. [Ital presumably added]
Now, of course, Martinez is pushing a "compromise" that features, at its center, just such a "path to citizenship." He tells Barnes the failure to pass this bill would be "handing the other side a win." ... 6:46 P.M.
Sic Semper Cocoonis! A surprise for NYT readers, anyway:
Though the immigration issue was initially thought to favor Democrats since it could hurt Republican efforts to court Hispanics, some Democrats facing tough re-election fights in the fall are finding it cuts both ways.-- Carl Hulse, New York Times, 5/20
Stanley Kurtz's NRO critique of a recent kf immigration post helped me clarify a couple of points--namely (1) why the current debate in Congress isn't like future debates and (2) why inaction on immigration would itself be a major substantive policy shift. See response to Kurtz below. ... 10:32 P.M.
extends Davis-Bacon "prevailing wage" provisions—typically the area's union wage that applies only to construction on federal projects under current law—to all occupations (e.g. roofers, carpenters, electricians, etc.) covered by Davis-Bacon. So guest-workers (but not citizen workers) must be paid Davis-Bacon wage rates for jobs in the private sector if their occupation is covered by Davis-Bacon. Presumably because Senate Democrats' union bosses thought this provision too modest, an amendment by Senator Barack Obama, approved by voice vote, extended Davis-Bacon wages rates to all private work performed by guest workers, even if their occupations are not covered by Davis-Bacon. [Emphasis added]
First take is that this provision will effectively price many guest workers out of the market, not only because it raises the legal guest-worker wage, but also because it makes them a magnet for wage-related litigation from annoyed construction unions who will claim that the guest-worker wages don't meet Davis-Bacon's government-set "prevailing wage" standards. ... A downside is that unions may now buy into the immigration bill because it extends Davis-Bacon's government setting of wages further into the private sector. ... The legal guest worker program is relatively small under the Senate bill, remember. The huge influx into the United States is likely to be not legal guest workers but more illegals drawn across the border by the bill's semi-amnesty provisions, no? The Davis-Bacon provision, in one sense, simply guarantees that there will be plenty of employers who still want to hire them (because they'll be cheaper). ... 8:21 P.M. link
The substance of the Times's story's good and noir. Which headline would make you read it?** It's the proud Times "legacy" DNA in action! ... The DNA of Dullness! ... Friday Times-Bash Bonus: Beyond Borders reveals that the LAT's most-emailed story of the day ("A Job Americans Won't Do, Even at $34 an Hour") is an edifice of PC hackery! It's not a piece that pretends someone it quotes is "a regular citizen on the sidelines of the debate" when really they are a pro-guest-worker activist. It's a piece based entirely on someone it pretends is a regular citizen (and an "ambivalent" one at that) when really they are a pro-guest-worker activist! ... See also Malkin, who has updates on this fast breaking landscape management story. ...
**--The grannies have not been charged with any killings, it should be noted. They were arrested "on suspicion of mail fraud." Somehow I think this little factual mismatch wouldn't have stopped a NY Post headline writer--or anyone with, say, an ounce of actual newspaperin' in their blood--from coming up with something more compelling than "Life Insurance Scam."
[Thanks to alert reader T.S.] ... 5:37 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]