The Kosola story goes to the moon!

A mostly political Weblog.
June 25 2006 3:36 AM

The Kosola Story Goes to the Moon!

And Mark Warner's in a bind.

Oxygen: The Kosola story has made the leap into non-cyberspace! But not the leap over the TimesSelect wall. ... Update: Newsweek gives it a  value-adding MSM graf. ...

P.S.: Kos responds  to David Brooks' column, with characteristic attention to the merits:

They can praise us, they can trash us, they can ignore us, and ultimately none of that will matter as long as we keep doing what we've been doing.

Whether we succeed or not will depend on our own efforts. Not those of anyone else.

Hmm. Mark Warner may have something to do with it too. If he cuts his aide (and Kos buddy) Jerome Armstrong loose, that won't be a great advertisement for the Kos team. Even if he doesn't, Warner must be rapidly approaching the point where his association with Armstrong has brought him more trouble than it has benefit. ......

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P.P.S.: The National Journal's Beltway Blogroll derogates that astrology angle:

Armstrong is a fan of astrology -- the implication being that he is not to be taken seriously. This would be one of those bizarre storylines I mentioned ... . The revelation doesn't seem relevant to anything and sounds like the beginnings of a smear campaign much like the one directed at conservative blogger Ben Domenech earlier this year.

Why isn't it relevant? The argument "if he believes X, how can we trust his judgment on Y" often provokes righteous outrage (when applied, for example, to Carter-era Democrats who were followers of EST, or Scientologists).  I suppose the fear is that the "if he believes X" argument opens up the door to disputes between religions. The trouble is, it's a perfectly logical and reasonable argument to make--even if you can't always make it in public. Mormon Mitt Romney may be about to discover this....

If I were Armstrong I'd try to figure out a way to get the S.E.C.'s blessing to tell my side of the story quickly. ... 8:14 P.M.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who previously declared aides saw an "aura" of light around him when he spoke to the U.N., today boasted

I know I have sort of arrived in a scary way, because now I'm not being attacked for what I've said and done.  People are making stuff up about me now.  They're inventing things.  And so I know now I'm on a different plane.

The prospect of this man getting hold of nuclear weapons is frightening indeed. ... Oh, wait. That wasn't Ahmadinejad at all. Sorry. ... The nuclear thing still holds, though. ... 12:33 A.M.

Friday, June 23, 2006

To the Moon! Dan Riehl  and Red  State  bloggers offer tidbits about Mark Warner aide Jerome Armstrong that are strange enough for me to worry they're some sort of trick to trap bloggers into libeling Kos' buddy. Read them with appropriate wide-eyed skepticism. You're allowed to smile, though. ... Wizbang argues:

The Warner and [Sherrod] Brown campaigns are in a bind. Dropping Armstrong is the logical course of action, but it they do they risk losing the support of Kos, whose support seems to correlate pretty strongly to Armstrong's employment.

Meanwhile, Chris Suellentrop's refrigerator light is on again, but the door is still closed. ... Just between you and me, Suellentrop notes that Armstrong is in a bind too:

Moulitsas also suggests in his e-mail that Armstrong himself will "go on the offensive" about the story in "a couple of months," but that's highly unlikely. Armstrong has accepted a permanent injunction that prohibits him from asserting his innocence, or from asking his friends to assert it. The injunction states that Armstrong has agreed "not to take any action or to make or permit to be made any public statement denying, directly or indirectly, any allegation in the complaint or creating the impression that the complaint is without factual basis."

Binds all around. 11:38 P.M.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mo' Kosola: [See correction below ]  Kos publicly defends himself--but not Armstrong, who is probably the main person we want to hear from. Jason Zengerle responds, noting that Kos'

restatement that he is not a consultant still does not answer the serious questions that have been raised about his relationship with Armstrong and whether there is some arrangement by which politicians who hire Armstrong as a consultant then receive Kos's support.

Zengerle also quotes from some Kos-sympathizers on the secretive liberal "Townhouse" mailing list who were troubled by the Kosola allegations. (Sample: "I dont see how this can be ignored. We should all write in defense of this once we know the facts. Jerome?") ... Jerome? ... Confusion-generating update: See  Gilliard's questioning of that e-mail. Correction and update: Zengerle now agrees Gilliard  didn't write the email. But did anyone, or was it a fake? ...

P.S.: Kos repeats a boast he made in his "Townhouse" email, that the YearlyKos staffers

got a whole slew of corrections and apologies in response to pieces in the NY Times and Slate

There has been no correction or apology by Slate that I can find. There was a correction and apology on Bob Wright's bloggingheads.tv. ... 1:05 P.M. link

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kos Wants Silence! TNR's  Jason Zengerle has discovered one reason why normally fierce Kos defenders have been strangely silent on the Kosola controversy: In a message to "'Townhouse,' a private email list comprising elite liberal bloggers"--the authenticity of which seems to be undisputed--DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas has issued a

request to you guys [that] that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story. Then, once Jerome [Armstrong] can speak and defend himself, then I'll go on the offensive ... and anyone can pile on. If any of us blog on this right now, we fuel the story. Let's starve it of oxygen.

A shrewd strategy, designed to prevent the Kosola scandalette from "making the jump to the traditional media." I've pursued the identical strategy myself, in analogous circumstances, though with a far less powerful and centralized institutional apparatus. So far, the "sheep-like" Kositburo members have largely complied. ...

The email also contains a cursory defense of Kosbuddy Jerome Armstrong signing a suggestive consent decree with the SEC ("he was a poor grad student at the time so he settled because he had no money"), plus some thuggy blustering about "lawsuits" and "exploring legal options."  Kos offers no defense, in Zengerle's account, on the central moral (not legal) corruption at the heart of the Kosola scandal: whether one thing you get when you buy Jerome Armstrong's services is highly effective "access" to his co-author Kos--access that in practice affects Kos' loyalties and the direction he sends his followers. If that's the case, it seems just as corrupt (and just as non-illegal) as when a former Tom Delay aide sells himself to corporate clients in part on the basis of his "access" to the bigshot he used to work for.  That's business as usual  in Washington--but I thought the Kos reformers were supposed to be different.

If Armstrong did, as the S.E.C. alleged, tout an iffy Internet stock in exchange for "undisclosed compensation,"  that a) illustrates that some things that are legal in politics are less legal in business; b) suggests that, instead of following the traditional path to Beltway corruption--youthful idealism gradually transformed into mature access-peddling--Armstrong may have had a non-idealistic attitude from the start; and c) raises suspicions that Armstrong's candidate-touting generally has been less sincere than previously suspected (which in turn undermines the credibility of those, like Kos, who've let themselves be influenced by Armstrong).

Is the newly-discovered Kositburo itself a sinister institution? In recent years the right has behaved as if it had some sort of shadowy de facto steering committee. You figured the Left must have something like that--how else to explain why an antiwar site like Huffington Post would suddenly decide to  seize the cheap partisan opportunity to posture as patriotic by making a show of opposing the Iraqi governments attempts to end violence through an amnesty program  (and mocking the GOP's failure to similarly posture)? Maybe Arianna got a "Townhouse" email! ...

Meanwhile, the vaunted, all-powerful Right Wing Noise Machine turns out to be a guy in Jersey! ..

P.S.: The Kosola controversy offers more proof, if you needed it, of the folly of TimesSelect. Do you doubt that Chris Suellentrop's initial scoop about Jerome Armstrong's alleged stock touting would be march harder for the Kositburo to bottle up if it hadn't been stuck behind the TimesSelect subscription wall? I'd say TimesSelect cut its impact by at least 50%. .... You'd think the guy who guided the disastrous Times Select experiment would get kicked to the side and given an assignment in far-off Asia, where he could do little further damage, instead of ...  oh wait. ...

 

 

P.P.S.: The official NYT memo announcing Len Apcar's new assignment  does not contain, in the section boasting of his many accomplishments, the sentence "He initiated TimesSelect." Kf's subtle Pravda-like reading of the memo therefore extracts this meaning: TimesSelect is dead. They'll pull the plug within a year. ...

 

 

See also: Excellent posts at Red State, where "Trevino" notes a) that Kos & Co. are behaving like "the Armstrong revelations have them scared," and b) there have long been suspicions about Kosola-esque dealings, and theyv'e been "more on the left ... than the right." ... 10:11 P.M.  link

 

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kosolafest, 2006: Jim Geraghty has posted a "comprehensive Kos-Armstrong" timeline, which he claims shows an "interesting pattern." (The pattern:Buy one, get one free!) ... I debate the issue with Bob Wright here. Wright pooh-poohs the scandal. I say you don't have to have illegality to have corruption, and this situation reeks of corruption. ... Joyner tends to the Wright view, claiming there's only "one strike" against Kos. ... What about Ohio12:40 P.M.  link

No Time For NEXIS! Krugman's Hours Too Valuable**:

Thus in 2004, President Bush basically ran as America's defender against gay married terrorists. He waited until after the election to reveal that what he really wanted to do was privatize Social Security.

--"Class War Politics," Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 19, 2006, Page 19. [Emphasis added]

President Bush's vision of an ''ownership society'' is built, as much as anything else, on a sweeping promise: that he will transform Social Security so younger workers can divert some of their payroll taxes into private investment accounts.

At a rally in Pennsylvania last week, Mr. Bush declared, as he does at almost every campaign stop nowadays, that ''younger workers ought to be able to take some of their taxes and set up a personal savings account, an account that they can call their own, an account that the government cannot take away and an account that they can pass on from one generation to the next.''

--"Bush Revisiting Social Security, And Fight Is On,"  by Robin Toner and David Rosenbaum, New York Times, September 17, 2004, Front Page. [Emphasis added]

**--This is an inaccurate shot, of course. Krugman doesn't need to check NEXIS--he remembers perfectly well that Bush campaigned on his Social Security plan. On October 19, a few weeks before the election, Krugman himself wrote that he'd "never believed Mr. Bush's budget promises" in part because "his broader policy goals, including the partial privatization of Social Security -- which is clearly on his agenda for a second term--would involve large costs ...." [Emphasis added] Bush's plan was misguided and costly, but it was hardly hidden from voters. 4:21 A.M. link

A stunningly cynical move by Senate Democrats. ... Note: The posturing Dems opposed amnesty  for all Iraqis "who have attacked ... members of the U.S. Armed Forces," not just those who've actually killed Americans. [Emphasis added] That would seem to rule out amnesty for most of the insurgents the Iraqi government is trying to win over, no? .... 3:45 A.M.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Influence Peddler  dissents from the emerging  herd wisdom that--thanks to the unpopularity of the Senate's legalization approach with actual voters--there will be no immigration bill before the election. Thanks to the unpopularity of the Senate's legalization approach with actual voters there will be a bill, IP predicts. It will be a House-style, enforcement-oriented bill that will give Democrats fits. According to this theory, which I buy, Speaker Hastert's current intransigence is a feint. ... P.S.: But isn't the House-Senate conference committee stacked with pro-legalization types? IP explains why this is not an insoluble problem. ... 6:34 P.M.

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's a Connecticut Thing: Ryan Sager thinks Joe Lieberman's new campaign ad is awful. So does Josh Marshall. You make the call. .. P.S.: It seems juvenile to me. But doesn't its effectiveness hinge on whether (and how much) Connecticut Democrats hate Lowell Weicker? ... Update: The ad  revives a cartoon Lieberman used 18 years ago, and may be designed to  remind state voters why they elected Lieberman in the first place. ... 3:19 P.M.

Touting Mark Warner--Suellentrop's Secret Scooplet: If the NYT's Chris Suellentrop had a scooplet about Kos crony/Mark Warner payee Jerome Armstrong and the S.E.C. but nobody read it--because it a) wasn't in the NYT print edition and b) on the Web it was stuck behind the TimesSelect subscription wall--would it make a sound? ... Update: Not total silence. ... But not totally behind the subscription wall either. ... More: The Plank has an excerpt:

[S]ome people ... compare the blog boomlet [Kos and Armstrong] helped create for Dean to the work of online bulletin-board posters who touted dodgy Internet stocks during the boom market without disclosing that they were being paid for their words.

Which, interestingly, is precisely what the Securities and Exchange Commission, in court documents filed last August, alleges that Jerome Armstrong did in 2000. (The original S.E.C. complaint is here.) In a subsequent filing, the S.E.C. alleges that "there is sufficient evidence to infer that the defendants secretly agreed to pay Armstrong for his touting efforts" on the financial Web site Raging Bull.

Without admitting or denying anything, Armstrong has agreed to a permanent injunction that forbids him from touting stocks in the future. The S.E.C. remains in litigation with him over the subject of potential monetary penalties.

Next question--Suellentrop's Props: If Suellentrop breaks a story behind the TimesSelect wall, and the story gets out, will he get credit for his scoop? Not  here. .. TimesSelect could become a secluded free-fishing zone for reporters from other publications. In this case, the TimesSelect wall lets the New York Post get credit for a New York Times scoop. Good work, Pinch!  ... Caveat: Is it really possible that this story didn't come out in late 2003, when Armstrong is said by the Post to have "signed off on" the settlement of the S.E.C. charges? I can't find a mention on Nexis or in Wikipedia, but I have a vague memory of something like this .... I'd check Suellentrop's published version again ... if I could get to it. But it seems to have re-disappeared behind the TimesSelect wall. Another example of TimesSelect inhibiting the blogosphere's search for truth! ...

More: Here's a roundup of blog reactions, including agonizing Kossacks! ... 2:45 P.M. [Updated 6/18] link

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Peggy Noonan on some unexpected pockets of non-party-line sentiment:

I've never met a career military man who was a conservative on social issues. I think they tend to see questions such as abortion and marriage as essentially uninteresting, private and not subject to the movement of machines. (Connected to this, I suspect [Democratic Senate candidate James] Webb will benefit to some degree by the high number of military retirees in Virginia. They're always assumed to be hawks on Iraq. From personal experience I'd say a high percentage have been dubious about the war, many from the beginning.) [Emphasis added]

This observation--and the parallel, more common claim that Kos followers are actually free-floating reformers conspicuously un-anchored to any of the traditional Democratic interest groups (e.g. unions)--might be two keys to winning a large majority for a non-warlike, centrist, candidate, no? ... 2:18 P.M.

kf's Evil Triangle of Triangulation: If you've read this far it's already too late!  Wilbur argues this site is a "critical joint" in the Republican media maniplation machine--"not the canary in the coal mine but the person who carries it in"! (The coal?) Maybe we can sell that blurb to the advertisers. ... P.S.: But does he link? ... Update: Wilbur describes me as a "Dickensonian character." This is an obvious misspelling. He means "Dickersonian"--he's saying I remind him of Slate's charismatic chief political correspondent, John Dickerson. ... 2:05 P.M. 

On Iraq, Clinton's problem is that it's such an intensely polarizing issue where there's no middle ground - and most Democrats are intensely against it.

That leaves Clinton twisting herself in bizarre pretzel shapes as she claims to be against President Bush's "open-ended commitment," but also against setting "a date certain" to withdraw.

I join in mocking Hillary's politically-damaging stand--the "kind of tangled straddle-speak [that] killed 2004 loser John Kerry"--except isn't it, you know ... the right position (whether or not the war was a bad gamble in the first place)? ... 1:13 P.M.

Did you know that Rush Limbaugh is represented by Sitrick and Company? Suddenly he seems guiltier! ... 12:34 P.M.

Mastio says Thomas Friedman left something out in his anti-GM op-ed. ... (Or maybe Gail Collins did.) ...P.S.: Friedman's super-sized (1,100 word) response would seem like overkill--unless the NYT thinks GM's blogging  might have actually embarrassed them. ... 11:04 P.M.

Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias are skeptical of the Daily Kos crowd's enthusiasm for Virginia's ex-Gov. Mark Warner. Indeed, isn't Warner a Democratic Leadership Council type of the sort the Kossacks ordinarily loathe? (The one time I've seen Warner in person was at a DLC event during the 2004 Democratic Convention, where he was proudly presented by DLC chief Al From). You don't think that Warner's popularity with Markos Moulitsas ("Governor Mark Warner in Virginia has delivered") could have anything to do with Warner's hiring of Moulitsas' buddy, Jerome Armstrong, do you? (Cilizza does.)  I mean, if a candidate or corporation hired, say,Tom DeLay's buddy and then gotten strangely good play at a DeLay-run convention, nobody on the left would raise a peep, right? ... Update: See  TPM discussion. b... P.S.: If The Kos is now moving in a respectable, big-tent, just-looking-for-results direction, doesn't that make it less likely that (unlike McCain) they would  resort to the "third party in a laptop" gambit anytime soon? ... Of course, one feature of Internet-based politics is that players can now reverse course very quickly. So the third-party threat is always there. ... 2:08 P.M.

Columnist Thomas Friedman on the genius of TimesSelect:"I hate it. ... I feel totally cut off from my audience."  But at least the NYT's stock is up. ...  Just kidding! ... [Thanks to NewsAlert] 9:04 P.M.

kf Calibrates Its Outrage: I rag on Markos Moulitsas for his 2004 "screw them" comment  about the four American security contractors killed in Fallujah. That comment was more offensive than anything Ann Coulter's book is currently being criticized for. But I have to say that just as Coulter's comments become much less shocking when read in context (Chapter 4 of Godless, criticizing the press canonization of four highly political, pro-Kerry 9/11 widows), Moulitsas' comment also becomes more understandable when you read it on its original page, which is here  [search for "screw"]. As his subsequent  childhood-blaming non-apology apology makes clear, he thinks he's making a distinction between Americans who are "trying to help the people make Iraq a better place" and mercenaries who voluntarily accept risk in exchange for cash. True, that distinction breaks down under inspection (the people trying to make Iraq a better place rely on the mercenaries, who are also human beings). And only someone who doesn't want the U.S. to succeed in Iraq would say what Moulitsas said. Still, it's less odious than I'd thought.  ... P.S.:  But it's still worse than Coulter! Yet  Tim Russert and the rest of the MSM are falling over themselves giving respect to Kos. Is this due to a) liberal bias or b) Kos' seemingly determined Graydon-Carteresque attempt to make himself presentable** and join the club [$] he's been attacking? I suspect (b). Coulter would be on Meet the Press too if she decided to tone herself down. [But she wouldn't have gotten famous in the first place if she'd toned herself down--ed. Right. It's all in the timing!] ...

**--Dickerson says Kos is maintaining his "snotty arrogance." (Sample: "I reach more people than most of these publications that are interviewing me—I don't need them.") But on Meet he was sweet. Don't tell me he was faking it! ...

Update: The Crank disagrees. ... P.S.: He argues it's not about Kos "the person," but rather "the community"! I'd feel better about this community if every member who wrote me didn't robotically parrot this same argument, whether apposite or inapposite. I remember a science fiction phenomenon like thatThe Kos! Will Mark Warner be assimilated? ... Anyway,  I was writing about Kos, "the person."... 5:25 P.M. link

Fitzbust: kf's go-to site on Plamegate, Tom Maguire's JustOneMinuterises to the occasion  this morning with informed speculation on a) why Fitzgerald gave up on indicting Karl Rove and b) why Fitzgerald also hasn't indicted another prominent Bush administration figure who's less controversial (because he's no partisan gunslinger):

Look, the fellow who leaked to Woodward and Novak is (IMHO) Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, and an indictment seems to be unlikely.  I am not sure why that is, but I think that, in FitzgeraldWorld, Libby was part of a vicious White House conspiracy to make Joe Wilson cry; Armitage was just flapping his gums about a CIA operative.  That's a big difference.

But Maguire doesn't think Armitage is completely out of the woods. .. Contrarian Spin O' the Day: Since Rove is presumably a key figure helping to drive the Bush adminstration into domestic policy oblivion--by pursuing his ancient dream of buying off the Hispanic vote for generations with a mass-legalization of illegals--Fitzgerald's failure to indict Rove was a victory for the Democrats! They need to keep Rove on the job. [Do you actually believe this?-ed No. I can't quite believe Rove won't advocate compromising on a "security-only" immigration bill when the crunch comes. Until then, the Bush administration's futile pro-legalization push might be intended simply to minimize the long-term damage to the party among Hispanics.].. . Better Contrarian Spin: It's a plus for Dems because now they can focus on issues voters actually care about instead of issues YearlyKos panels care about. ... Plus Rove's magic is going.   ... 12:46 P.M. link

Coulter and Kinsley's Dictum #4: I suspect Bob Wright thinks he kept his cool in this exchange more than he actually did (especially if you play it, as recommended, at 1.2X speed) ... 1:33 A.M.

Now they're taking the good jobs: Chalkboard automates the NYT's labor coverage. 4:36 P.M.

"Illegal Immigration a Problem for Democrats, Too": You think? ... Froma Harrop nails it! Excerpt:

Rahm Emanuel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, played down the import of Busby's loss for the Democrats' hopes in November. Waving off the immigration issue, he said, "Not every district is going to be on the border of Mexico."

I have news for him. Not every district is on the border with Mexico, but just about every district feels like it is. New Jersey, for example, is almost a continent away from Tijuana, but its hospitals lose $200 million a year providing free care for illegal aliens. Those immigrants are not all, or even mostly, from Mexico, of course. They can be from Colombia, the Dominican Republican or elsewhere in Latin America. Some are from Asia or Europe. The point is, the broken border is not just with Mexico, but all around us.

The tragedy for the party -- and the nation -- is that Democrats could do a much better job than Republicans controlling illegal immigration. That's because Democrats are not afraid to do the only thing that could stop it, which is go after the companies that employ undocumented workers. [Emphasis added]

4:13 P.M.

Bob Shrum has a theme for the Democrats: Yes!

"Don't be afraid to say we're for the people, not the powerful."

P.S.: Shrum also says "The war in Iraq is over except for the dying." which has the virtue of being a clear statement of position.  I don't see how he knows this, though. ... [via The Note] 4:05 P.M.

Pajamas Media has a Target ad. It's a start.3:55P.M.

It's too late for 'sorry' now, Iowa! Brendan Loy wonders if Iowans are learning their lesson--John Kerry, winner of the 2004 first-in-the-nation caucuses, finished a "distant third" in the recent Iowa Poll of likely caucus-goers. ... Kerry can't claim low name-recognition. ...  2:15 A.M.

It often seems fashionable for smart political commentators to question the ability of campaign finance laws to stop the purchase of influence. Money is like water, it will flow, etc. etc.  But New Jersey's new  laws against political contributions from government contractors--so-called "pay to play"--appear to be working. They're working so well, in fact, that "several leading Democrats say the rules are cutting too deeply into their ability to raise money." ... How can a politician raise money except from state contractors, after all. ... [Thanks to  S.B.2:21 A.M.

Even as the "immigration debate drifts away from Bush," in the WSJ's words, the New York Times dutifully puffs the designated spokespeople for its favored side. (I must have missed the glowing profile of Democratic McCain-Kennedy foe Byron Dorgan, or of Republicans James Sensenbrenner or Jeff Sessions). ...  Kirk Johnson's build-up of pro-legalization Senator Ken Salazar and his "story" has an especially strained, passionless quality, since Salazar doesn't have a stirring upward mobility tale to tell. He's not an immigrant, his family having "helped found Santa Fe, N.M., in the late 1500s," before either the United States or Mexico existed. ... Salazar's main, if not only, role seems to be to appeal on a purely ethnic basis, and his "story" appears to be entirely an abstract plea for Hispanic political ascendancy. ... P.S.: Is someone who can credibly say that his people were here long before the gringos ("It was the border that came over us. We didn't come over the border") the best poster-Senator for quelling mainstream fears of a reconquista? ... 1:51 A.M.

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. ...

P.P.S.: If the GOPs also pass a House-style "security-only" immigration bill, a possibility confirmed by the WSJ's John Harwood [$],  this could wind up being a highly productive Congress! ...

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.

Ann Coulter's Godless, which contains a multi-chapter attack on Darwin's theory of the evolution of species, comes out today. Bob Wright is beyond skeptical. ... 3:30 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? ...

**--Actually, in terms of disloyalty, it's not that bad. It's worse! McCain didn't just do nothing. He actually canceled a scheduled fundraising appearance. ... 7:47 P.M.

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.

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 778:44 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]

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 Post6:24 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:

1) "These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought ...."

2) "I think my compassion was made clear."

3)  "You may wonder if I have feelings, just because I am so courageous ...."

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

10:53 P.M.

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.

Davis-Bacon--Back in the News! It's a harmonic convergence of kf enemies.  According to National Review's Kate O'Beirne, the Senate immigration bill:

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 LAT 's Legacy of Responsibility Will Not Die:

Los Angeles Times headline:

2 Arrested in Homeless Life Insurance Scam

Sploid headline linking to this LAT story:

Hobo-Killin' Grannies

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

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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]