A Neolib New Deal?

A Neolib New Deal?

A Neolib New Deal?

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 22 2006 7:56 PM

A Neolib New Deal?

Health care for all, not pensions for the rich.

Matthew Yglesias takes issue with my suggestion that a "decent" national health care system, added on top of our current Social Security system, will require a "larger tax burden than citizens are willing to bear." He argues:

The U.S. government currently spends a phenomenal sum of money on health care by world standards ... [W]hen you're talking about universal health care you're not really talking about increasing the aggregate resources poured into American health care. There's already tons of money being spent on it. You're talking about redistributing the spending somewhat from richer to less-rich people and altering the path through which the money flows.

I'm not a health care expert, but it seems to me:

1) If we want a system that reinforces social equality--everyone in the same waiting room-- that means we need basically the bottom 90% to use the same system. The hardest (i.e. impossible) way to do this is by forcing the affluent to get less care than they are willing to pay for ("redistributing the spending somewhat from richer to less-rich people," as Yglesias tactfully puts it.) The easiest way to do that is to offer subsidized universal care good enough so that the vast majority of the affluent will be content to use it. In other words, you can't just "insure" the poor with bare-bones HMO treatment. This will be expensive.

2) Medical technology will offer more and more complex and costly ways to treat illness. Some of these treatments will work. We want to offer them to everyone, with a minimum of rationing--again, in a system that most of the affluent will also sign up for. The alternative seems to be a system in which the upper middle class lives (because they can afford fancy treatments) and the working poor die. Avoiding this will be expensive.

3) We will still want to encourage future medical research and technological advance--or at least we want to retard it as little as possible. That's why I'm skeptical of some plans for realizing huge cost savings. For example, the government could undoubtedly use its monopsony power to lower the price it pays for drugs--maybe lower the price to something approaching the marginal cost of producing additional pills. It's not at all clear, however, that this is the price we should want to pay, because it does little to fund research and development costs of developing both the existing drug and new drugs. See Michael Kinsley's analysis here. Paying medical providers enough to fund future advances will be very expensive.

4) Yglesias writes

The significant financial challenge has to do with covering the bills for old people, but that challenge exists one way or another thanks to Medicare (and the basic reality that senior citizens are largely uninsurable in the private sector) and has relatively little to do with whether or not we can afford to bring universal coverage to the under-65 crowd.

If you're trying to assess the overal budgetary burden, it won't do to pass off the cost of caring for old people by saying 'Oh, that's just Medicare.' Caring for old people is still part of the health insurance system, and to the extent (a very great extent) that government will have to pay the bill through Medicare then that will be a budgetary burden that might "require a larger tax burden than citizens are willing to bear."


All these factors tell me that national health care --at least "decent" egalitarian, national health care--will require a big increase in government expenditures.**  Something will have to give--either a) the overall quality of health care, b) the egalitarian fairness of health care, or c) the cost of other big programs like Social Security's pensions.

I say what gives should be (c), and the way it should give should be to stop mailing out pension checks to the richest Americans. Sending checks to everyone is a nice thing to do. But we can't afford every nice thing to do.

**If Robert Reischauer or Henry Aaron tells me I'm wrong, I'll reconsider. But I bet they don't. 4:36 P.M. link

Osama Bin Laden has "copies of Playboy" in his briefcase? You'd think there might be some propaganda value in that tidbit, if skillfully deployed. ... 3:32 P.M.


I see my colleague, the evil triangulator Bruce Reed, has discovered the secret of attracting hits: gratuitously mention "Ann Coulter" in your hed or sub-hed. I was onto that weeks ago. (Then I switched to "neolib." It's not the same.) ... 3:21 P.M.

He's so entitled to take this shot: MSNBC's Tucker Carlson, on Dan Abram's reappearance as an anchor (after being promoted to general manager of the network):

Over at CNN Jon Klein runs the show. Do you think he could host an hour of television? How do you think that would rate? Not well. So in the end, we're proud of Dan."

Meanwhile, Klein is still milking respectability points from his decision to end Crossfire, where Carlson once soldiered loyally before being gratuitously humiliated by Klein. Klein gets praised for his "candor." He then says ratings are not that important. "This is, first and foremost, a battle for journalistic excellence." ... P.S.: Marketwatch's fawning inerviewer, Jon Friedman, explains Klein's ratings non-triumph, after almost two years on the job:

CNN most likely won't make any dramatic strides until the U.S. acts to have a Democrat living in the White House.


How will that work? Doesn't being in opposition tend to help ideological media institutions like FOX? [Via TVNewswer, Romenesko] ... Down the Enemies List: Meanwhile, BMW designer Chris Bangle, the Jon Klein of the auto industry, tells a Britain's Independent:

What makes the car alive is for it to be responsive, animate. ... There has to be more of a message than 'I'm beautiful, I'm powerful, I'm sexy'.

Bangle saying there's more to car design than beauty is the equivalent of Klein saying there's more to TV than ratings. They better hope so! [Where's Burkle?-ed He comes up here. ... ] 9:32 P.M.

Edward Luttwak notes that  

6,821 Americans ...died to conquer the eight square miles of Iwo Jima.


That's more than twice the number of Americans who've died  in the entire Iraq war. ... [Rationalization?-ed Perspective.] 7:15 P.M. 

A Neolib New Deal? Josh Marshall writes  

A week ago I did a Blogginheads segment with Mickey Kaus and he brought up his long held belief that Dems should cut their losses on social insurance programs like Social Security to build up political chits with GOPers and extra revenue for universal health care. But I don't think it works that way. And I think the 1990s are the prime example. Give up on Social Security and that undermines progressive reform on every front. It's not a matter of coalition politics. It's that every win galvanizes and strengthens progressive reform as a whole.

Josh misunderstood my position, which maybe I didn't make clear on Bloggingheads. I'm not for cutting Social Security now to "build up political chits with GOPers." I agree those chits would not likely be either recognized or honored. And I have nothing, in the abstract, against the current "universal" Social Security  system that sends pension checks to rich and poor alike.


It's just that a "universal" Social Security system costs hundreds of billions of dollars more than, say,  a "means tested" system that doesn't send checks to the richest 25% of retirees. And I don't think Democrats will be able to afford botha) that expensive universal Social Security system and b) the national health care program they will rightly want. 'Defending' Social Security and achieving a decent health care system is less likely to 'galvanize and strengthen progressive reform as a whole' than it is to either bankrupt the government or require a larger tax burden than citizens are willing to bear.

If that's true, then at some point Democrats will have to choose, and I hope they choose (b). There are several scenarios under which they might effectively make that choice--a grand bargain, in which the Dems say "you give us national health insurance and we'll agree to a radical means test for Social Security" is only one of them. A much more likely sequence would involve Democrats first passing national health insurance on the basis of a bunch of rosy cost projections, and then discovering that the budget is veering way out of balance--with the resulting crisis being resolved by big cuts in Social Security. (That's basically the way Australia found its way to a Social Security means test, as I understand it.)

In any case, it makes little sense to cut Social Security this year, when national health insurance isn't even on Congress' plate, in the mere hope that the money saved will one day be available for health care. (It's much more likely to be pissed away on other Democratic and Republican projects.) I opposed the Bush Social Security plan (see this 2004 piece). Not that Democrats were crazy to disagree with that position. If you actually want to preserve the current "universal" checks-to-the-rich Social Security regime--as most doctrinaire Dems say they do--a deal with Bush (in which he took the heat for necessary mild increases in the retirement age, etc. in exchange for a fig leaf of semi-privatization) might actually make sense, as Michael Kinsley argued. I don't think Joe Lieberman should be read out of the party for flirting with a Kinsleyesque position, which was my vlog argument against Josh.

It's when you don't think we should save the "universal" Social Security system that you don't want to engineer a few moderate Bush-style cuts now in order to make it solvent for the next 100 years, which will only convince everyone there's no reason to tamper with it! Better to let the system bubble along and make truly radical, means-testing cuts later, when Democrats will be in a position to achieve something big, like national health insurance, in return (and when the addition of a big program like national health insurance will make it clear to everyone that radical cuts are necessary). . ... 12:35 A.M. link


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why does the music they play in clothing stores sound so much better than the music they play on the radio? My guess: Clothing store music is designed to put you in a good mood so you'll buy stuff. In practice, this monolithic, insidious commercial motive translates into simply playing good music. ... The song you hear on the radio, in contrast is likely to be something some record company promoter has bugged (or bribed) the station to play.  It will probably be an artist with current commercial potential--not a one-hit wonder, or singer who's died or quit the business, but an "act" of non-trivial potential future earning power. ... Or it will be someone who knows someone who knows the DJ. ... And it likely won't be a two-year-old song of proven appeal, but an iffy new song from whatever CD is about to come out. (Let's give this struggling new singer-songwriter a break!)  Or it will be an older song from a band that's appearing in town that week. (Perhaps the station happens to have tickets to give away!) ... Or it will be an act the station is trying to "break," in order to get bragging rights within the industry (the way LA's KCRW boasts about breaking Norah Jones). ... All of these hidden, ulterior motives corrupt the simple goal of playing music you will enjoy hearing. Give me honest clothing store songs any day. 10:39 P.M.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Paramount studio chief Brad Grey should have listened to kausfiles! After carrying Paramount's water last week--suggesting that "positive word of mouth" showed World Trade Center was "starting to attract an audience" despite disappointing box office--even Nikki Finke is reporting that

Oliver Stone's World Trade Center wided to 41% more theaters [**] but couldn't hold its audience with only $3.1 mil Friday for what should be well below $45 mil already 10 days out. [Emphasis added]

[But Stone apparently stuck to the script and didn't indulge in wacky-left conspiracizing--ed. Maybe they shouldn't have hired a director so wacky-left-conspiratorial he had to be tied down to a mediocre script lest he blame 9/11 on Michael Eisner!]... Update:Variety's Ben Fritz is more upbeat on WTC ("fell only 42% on its second weekend, giving credence to Par's hopes the 9/11 drama will have a long run") but you need a subscription to read him. ...

**--WTC appears to have added 41 theaters to its previous 2,957--not 41 percent more. Never rely on content from Nikki Finke! ... Finke has also now softened her language ("it's unclear how much success Oliver Stone's pic is having at holding its audience ... ") ... 12:59 P.M. link

Don't Look Now: GM's beleaguered management is fending off merger threats. Ford is shutting down plants and cutting production. But the automaker whose U.S. sales are "on life support" is ... Chrysleraccording  to Autoblog.. They've fallen as fast as Andrew Sullivan's Alexa rankings! ... O.K., O.K., not that fast. Nothing could fall that fast. ... P.S.: Sullivan's cliff-like Alexa "reach" curve must reflect a technical glitch.** People just don't come to their senses that quickly! ...

**--presumably triggered by his shift to Time, though the dates don't quite match. Sullivan's site meter records steady non-growth. ... [All your items are falling apart today--ed This one's as strong as it ever was!] 12:35 A.M.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Did the K Street Project Work? (Part II): WaPo's Jeffrey Birnbaum reports, semi-convincingly, that D.C. lobbyists are hiring more Democrats these days in anticipation of a shift of control "of at least one chamber of Congress." Birnbaum concludes that the

K Street Project--shorthand for efforts by Republican lawmakers and lobbyists to pressure corporations and trade groups to hire GOP lobbyists only--has faded away.

Hmm. But then why are business lobbyists steering a greater share of their PAC contributions to Republicans in this cycle  than in the last one? A possible answer is that the seemingly non-rational premise of the K Street project--that Republican aides will give to Republican candidates even when it might be in the interests of their clients to curry favor with Democrats--is indeed being validated. Only in future elections, when more lobbyists actually are Democrats, will Democratic candidates get more of the corporate money the lobbyists' control. ...

Q: Why might a lobbyist who's a Republican give money to a Republican even though it's in his corporate client's interest to placate ascendant Democrats? A: Because it's more important for the individual lobbyist to not piss off his mentor--typically the Member of Congress for whom he once worked--than it is to spread around the good will. ... Q: More important for whom? A: Certainly for the lobbyist himself--his "survival network," as Charles Peters called it, is likely to center on the member's office. But it might also be important for thelobbyist's clients that he not lose his main source of influence, even if that source of influence will soon be in the minority party. It's not like the lobbyist can just go out and get a substitute Democratic network overnight. ... 

The only way for a corporate client to get influence with the newly ascendant party, under this theory, is to hire individuals whose networks extend into that party--i.e. Democrats. Which is what is now happening, according to Birnbaum. In the meantime, the K Street Project is paying off for Republicans by funneling more campaign funds to their candidates than those candidates would be getting if lobbying firms hadn't been hiring so many Republicans. In effect, the Project has artificially extended the GOP's "incumbent advantage" in fundraising. ... It's a theory, anyway. ... 4:26 P.M.

DreamOn.org:  Chris Bowers at My DD on the Lamont/Lieberman poll showing Lieberman ahead 53-41-4 in a three-way race with tarnished Republican Alan Schlesinger:

With Schlesinger bound to cut into Lieberman's newfound Republican base, Lieberman has nowhere to go but down. [Emphasis added]

Bowers doesn't really believe that, does he? Tell me he's just spinning. ... Lieberman could increase his 63-35% lead among independents, for example. ... P.S.: The most powerful evidence yet that Lieberman won't drop out: Lawrence O'Donnell declares he will! ... Update: New Realism? ... 2:33 P.M.

Hardy perennialkf complaint: Why is the press making such a fuss about a District Court opinion striking down the administration's NSA eavesdropping program?  It's a District Court opinion! The actual decision will obviously be made by the Supreme Court, two levels up, and when it makes that decision the lower court's opinion will have less weight than an editorial in Roll Call (unless the opinion's brilliantly innovative, an exception that apparently does not apply  in this case, or the judge has made a decision against his or her known tendencies--e.g. a states' rights champion ruling for the feds--which also isn't the case here). ... The ritual in which the winning side extrapolates triumphantly from the meaningless event ("It's another nail in the coffin of executive unilateralism"--ACLU) is a particularly disreputable bit of Kabuki.. ... Of course: The same point would apply if the lower court had decided in favor of the Bush administration. ... 

Update: Washington Week in Review actually led with the District Court ruling. Martha Raddatz said it's a "big setback" for the Bush administration. No, it's not! Raddatz must know that. Does PBS like to keep its viewers cluelessly engaged in the fake drama of appellate litigation? Or is the hype just anti-Bush bias? (WWIR clearly wouldn't have given a pro-administration lower-court ruling the same big-deal treatment.)  ... See also: Red State's survey of Bush-skeptical scholars dissing the District Court. ... 1:16 P.M. link

Thursday, August 17, 2006

More Republican gated communities: How bad are things in Iraq? Omar at ITM can't be accused of looking for a pessimistic scoop or giving optimistic party line--and he actually lives in Baghdad. He-says the current neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach, complete with concrete walls and gates, has "good chances for success."  But like despairing hawks Boot and Frum, he worries that we haven't committed enough troops to the job. ... The obvious suspicion is that election-year politics precludes any dramatically increased deployment. But would it really hurt the GOPs in the November election if we sent an additional division to make the Baghdad plan work? Isn't Bush unpopular in part because of his growing reputation for too-little-too-late adapatation to changing circumstances (Katrina, Iraq, ineffective tooth-pulling concessions on immigration, Social Security, etc.)? Voters might appreciate some decisive action instead of what seems to be an insufficiently alarmed drift. ...  Would Harry Truman have waited until after the midterms? (I actually don't know the answer to that last question. Greenberg?) ... 3:27 P.M.

Blurb of the Week:

Don't read this book. Stay as far away from it as you can.

In just a few paragraphs, Reed and Emanuel manage to reinforce virtually every anti-Democratic narrative in existence. ...It may very well succeed in wiping out any and all progress we have tried to make on anti-Democratic media narratives for the past couple years.

It can't be that good. ...  [via Blogometer. Italics and boldface added] 1:21 P.M.

They're not twins:. Using highly anecdotal evidence, Ryan Sager suggests that South Carolina conservatives make a distinction between pro-choice Rudy Giuliani and "maverick" John McCain-- they'll tolerate Giuliani, but still can't stomach McCain. ... Using but a single anecdote analyzed in detail, Mystery Pollster reminds us why the Edison-Mitofsky exit poll in 2004 went painfully awry. CBS seems to be experimenting with a UPS-style voting gizmo that doesn't solve the main problem (which is subtle bias in the selection of which voters get questioned by the liberal-looking college-age interviewers). ... 12:05 P.M.

Good Cheap Shot: "Warner Camp in Disarray" .... 1:30 A.M.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

California's safe-seat Democratic legislators kill the anti-gerrymandering plan they promised when they successfully campaigned against Gov. Schwarzenegger's "year of reform" initiative last year. New West Notes' Bill Bradley is not surprised. ... 9:47 A.M.

It looks like it will take another weekend's box office to determine whether Paramount's World Trade Center is a hit or a flop. Here's why I hope it's the latter. ... 12:22 A.M.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Coulter and Custer: Elspeth Reeve defends Ann Coulter:

[T]ake Coulter's most infamous line: Writing about her friend's death on September 11, she finished her essay with, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity." Wow, that's pretty indefensible. The United States could never--would never--do such a thing. Instead, we've invaded their countries, killed their leaders, and are desperately trying to convert them to secularism. (It's not like mullahs appreciate the difference.)

I thought Reeve's piece is effective (she** makes the key "grain of truth" point) even a bit moving, but that's just me. ...P.S.: Am I the only one who thought Coulter's "But Al Gore? Total fag!" joke was an obvious reference to the old Mel Brooks routine about General Custer? ... If you listen to the Brooks routine, remember: Don't laugh, or  Sullivan will huff again. ... 9:51 A.M.

Bob Wright  adds an important wrinkle to Noam Scheiber's piece about the way netrootsy Democratic "counter-Bushies" have overwhelmed the "old interest group system" that neolibs like me have been whining about for decades. The caveat is that this usually doesn't hold at the local level, where Democratic politics is still often dominated by interest groups (like, say, government employee unions). What this means is that, increasingly, state Democratic races may yield interest-group champions who have trouble making the transition to national politics. ... Imagine the Phil Angelides for President campaign if you want to see the problem. ... 12:17 A.M. link

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Conned by the Incumbent Rule? The  Incumbent Rule, which holds that the incumbent never gets the last-minute undecided voters, was severely damaged in the 2004 election (when Bush got a substantial chunk of those voters) . Michael Barone notes that the Lieberman/Lamont primary may have killed off the Rule for good:

Lieberman was clocked at 41 and 45 percent in recent Quinnipiac polls; he got 48 percent in the primary election

Barone's post offers two theories that might explain the Rule's collapse. ... P.S.: Maybe Lieberman was thinking of the Incumbent Rule when he foolishly decided to pull the plug on that Get Out the Vote effort. ... Update: Mystery Pollster offers yet another theory, involving negative advertising. ...11:21 P.M.

You can learn a lot ego-searching: Democrat Mark Kleiman's against the teachers' unions! ("[K]owtowing to them costs us votes"). ... 12:11 A.M. 

Thursday, August 10, 2006

So if Lieberman wins as an independent, and the Democrats pick up six seats in November, doesn't that mean Lieberman gets to decide which party controls the Senate? And if so, do the Democrats really want to take Kos' advice  and piss him off? Just asking!  ... Backfill: Taranto had this epiphany yesterday, but we'll pretend he didn't. ... 12:48 P.M. link

Even Hillary's moves to the right are moves in favor of bigger government, argues David Boaz. Can you think of an exception? I can't.  ... That's why the deadliest long-run criticism of her (if she gets out of her Iraq pickle) is likely to be, not "Hillary's a Liberal," but "Hillary Knows Best." ... [via RCP BLog] 3:47 A.M.

Mo' Joe:   Jason Zengerle makes the basic why-Lieberman-can--win case here. ... Certainly that CBS exit poll   --showing that about a quarter of Lieberman voters don't want him to run as an independent--is nothing for him to get spooked about. ... Connecticut-based emailer C.S. notes, however, that

a lot of loyalist Dems who voted for Joe will vote for Ned in November as their nominee (count me as one of many such of whom I am already aware -- a lot of people in the Distefano for Gov HQs last night -- and not just Ned partisans -- were booing, hissing and cat-calling Joe's, again, self-serving speech bemoaning nasty, excessive partisanship, hello?). I would not at all be surprised to see Ned draw 70%+ of Democrats who turn out to vote this fall, maybe even 75+. [Emphasis added]

Neophyte Lamont's other advantage, according to C.S.: He's a better candidate! (He has "a better fastball now than his principal adversary, who is still rusty and ill-at-ease on the stump.") Yet Ryan Lizza argues Lamont already blew one big opportunity. ... Peggy Noonan wasn't too impressed  either. ...  P.S.: C.S. defends Lieberman's seemingly foolish decision to scale back his Get-Out-the-Vote effort:

Joe made a financial decision to put his available money not in field, but rather into a TV blitz, including his two minute "closing argument" spot using his Sunday night "checkers" speech, as some here have called it. Given that he lost by a mere 3.6%, whereas the final Quinnipiac poll showed him -6 on Monday (albeit a 7 day average, which of course is a bit strange), and -13 a week back, I think it is at least arguable that Joe made the right political call: he needed to persuade as many voters as possible via TV over the last week and change, counting on the intensity of voters' feelings in this race to turn them out.

The trouble with this defense is that Lieberman finished the campaign with $2 million in the bank, according to this AP story. Isn't there something--GOTV, or more ads--he could have spent some of it on to get the 2 percentage points he needed? ... Update: Chuck Todd's had the same thought. ... More: But he's now noted an exculpatory possibility. ... 3:02 A.M.  link

Omigod, not the Web site! Will Saletan argues the fuss over Lieberman's downed Web site shows the Internet has "arrived" as a force in politics:

... [I]n the election's final hours, the Lieberman campaign treated the crash of its Web site as fatal sabotage, and the media and law enforcement took the charge seriously. Losing your Web site on Election Day is now regarded as the equivalent of having your phones jammed or your TV ads rejected by stations. Even for campaigns that don't use it well, the Web has become not just an asset, but a necessity.

Hmmm. Here's an alternative theory: Lieberman "treated the crash of its Web site as fatal sabotage" because that was a great anti-Lamont story for him to have in the headlines during the last 24 hours of the campaign! I doubt the Web site was particularly vital to the incumbent senator's old-fashioned campaign. Its main value for Lieberman was that it could crash the day before the election and generate sympathetic headlines. In fact, I expect the election-eve Web site crash to now become a staple of politics, like the traditional election-eve discovery of some hateful leaflet attempting to suppress the black vote, which is then used by Democrats to turn out the black vote. ... P.S.: Saletan's piece may one day be famous, however, for introducing the word "carpetblogger." ... 1:43 A.M.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

My main fear about Oliver Stone's World Trade Center wasn't that he'd put forward a wacky conspiracy theory but that he'd downplay and otherwise botch the heroic, moving, and patriotic stories of the civilian, unprofessional rescuers--including David Karnes, Chuck Sereika and the mysterious "second Marine," Jason Thomas--while telling the more conventional tale of the two uniformed, professional cops whose cooperation the studio had secured. Early reviews of the film (which I haven't seen yet) suggested my fears weren't realized. But Rebecca Liss, who told Karnes' story in Slate, says they were, at least partially. ... 4:54 P.M.

The CBS/NYT exit poll in Connecticut  would seem to undercut those who claim there was a big class divide between Lamont's allegedly upscale voters and Lieberman's allegedly working class voters--at least a big income class divide. Lamont got 48% of those making less than $50K, 52% of those making more than $100K, and 53% of those in between. Big deal.** There was a split along educational lines, though, with Lieberman winning the "high school or less" category 59% to 39%. More evidence, I guess, that "class" in this country means education level, not how much money you make. ...

**--Many of the "less than $50K" Lamont supporters might have been young people who will be making much more money in a few years. Lamont carried the under-30 group 63-36. But that age factor wouldn't explain why there's basically no difference between the $50-$100K group and the Over $100K group. ...

Update--Education vs. Income: Prof. Franklin has already done a  post-exit-poll analysis, which speculates that even low-income voters voted Lamont "if they lived with lots of others with high incomes," suggesting income does have an "ecological" effect. But of course those are also going to be areas 'with lots of others with high educations.' I don't know how you'd separate out the two factors (income and education) except maybe by looking at high education/low income areas. I bet they're Lamont areas! That would suggest income has little independent explanatory power, at least in this race. ... (Neighborhoods with high incomes but low education probably don't exist--but if they did, they'd be Lieberman all the way, no?) ... 4:06 P.M.

Excitable Note:

"The political universe will be dominated by reaction to Sen. Lieberman's primary defeat and his decision to pursue an independent candidacy between now and November."

You think? I don't. Update: Neither does Lizza. ...3:36 P.M.

Grover's Corner: Is the GOP's infamous and  seemingly perverse "K Street Project" actually working? 1:13 P.M.

Young Fogies, Old Turks: What if some kids started a hip, indie, Brookyn-based web site--and turned out to be  bigger twits than the editors of the LA Times? ... 1:06 P.M.

Posting about the Lamont/Lieberman battle he helped start, Markos "I'm-just-all-about-winning" Moulitsas admits that

The DSCC and the DCCC will have to deal with the fact that this race will continue to suck oxygen from great pickup opportunities.

He gets points for bringing it up, though. Kos otherwise gloats effectively  and non-megalomaniacally. ... P.S.: But I do think Rahm Emanuel went overboard, as is his wont, with the "love child" comment. Bill Clinton campaigned for Bush's "love child"? A shift of three percent and Rahm would be endorsing Bush's "love child"? [You'd be defending that comment if Ann Coulter had said it--ed I think maybe Rahm's been listening to Ann Coulter.] ... 2:34 A.M. link

The Bad Date Theory: E-mailer Thomas Riehle, a partner in the bipartisan polling firm RT Strategies, writes:

August 8, 2006 is a date that political insiders should never forget.  It was the month and date that magnified the power of political outsider wings of both parties.

Club for Growth won contested Republican House primaries in Michigan and Colorado (the latter to the embarrassment of the Rocky Mountain News.  Note what RedState.org missed—the photo caption still indicates the wrong guy winning). 

Lamont ousted Lieberman in the Democratic Primary, first time someone did something like that since Dale Bumpers, running a "smile and a shoeshine" campaign, ousted Arkansas' Fulbright in a primary (and for that matter, Bumpers had the advantage of being the incumbent governor, not a neophyte.)  ... [**]

The lesson:  Setting primary dates is the most insidery insider's decision there is—who pays attention to that debate, except the political establishment? And it turns out setting August primary dates is the most self-destructive thing a political establishment can do. 

He also asks: "Will history record that the first significant victory of moveon.org was the defeat of a…..Democratic incumbent?" It's on the books! ...

**--Actually, Carol Moseley-Braun beat incumbent Alan Dixon of Illinois under surprisingly similar circumstances in 1992 (the controversy then was Dixon's vote for Clarence Thomas). See this well-done essay. ... [Thanks to S.S.12:14 A.M. link

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

TPM's Josh Marshall and I discuss what he calls the Lieberdammerung on bloggingheads.tv. We recorded it before we knew the Connecticut results ... but we guessed right! ... 10:40 P.M. link

Wow: Closer than expected! (And quicker than expected.) [via Kos] ... Update: Hotline notes that Lieberman's decision "late last week" to scale back his get-out-the-vote effort is now looking pretty stupid. ... Hotline also has the latest Hadassah-based rumors on Lieberman's possible Indie bid. ... 7:19 P.M. link

The people's bubble: David Sirota claims  "Washington lobbyists, Enron shills, and right-wing neoconservative ideologues in D.C." supported Lieberman because

They know that this could be the beginning of the end of the era where American politics is their exclusive property, where public policy is handed down from their gated communities in Northern Virginia ... [Emphasis added]

I may be getting myself into a Plano-like situation here, but are there lots of gated communities in Northern Virginia? I lived in the D.C. metro area for many years and don't remember them. ... I think Sirota's out of touch with the Beltway! He should get in more. ... 6:26 P.M. link

The "You Tube Campaign"?  I see where Ned Lamont's use of Web videos might have been very effective at keeping his troops entertained and scoring a few points against Lieberman. I don't see how this won or lost or even hugely affected the election. Is the idea that large numbers of actual voters watch these Web videos and get influenced by them? I doubt it. At least not yet. So how do they have an impact? ... P.S.: I think I know how blogs have an impact--they efficiently raise money and volunteers, they inspire candidates to run, they bring facts and arguments to light that are then broadcast to actual voters by the MSM. But unless the videos highlighted by Slate's John Dickerson got a lot wider distribution than I think they did, they didn't add all that much new to this equation. I must be missing something. ...   6:05 P.M. link

Has the Iraq Insurgency Really Been Superseded by a Civil War? The CW on Iraq is that the insurgency has faded and been replaced by a bloody Sunni-Shiite civil war. But Mohammed at Iraq The Model--the site I go to when I need some reassurance that the Iraq project isn't totally doomed-- senses a seemingly more ominous development:

[F]from signs I see in the atmosphere; I hear and see that some Shia parties with strong militias are seeking a truce (not peace) with Sunni counterparts especially those with significant militias but this in my opinion will be more like a sectarian truce than a true national reconciliation.

But again, why would they seek truce with all the deeply rooted differences between them? Well the unpleasant scenario I'm expecting is basically that these parties want this truce to fix one front and pave the way for the beginning of a Sunni-Shia joint Islamic insurgency against the US and the UK in Iraq ...

This doesn't jibe with what I'm reading from Friedman and Podhoretz. But Mohammed lives in Baghdad and they don't. ... 5:45 P.M. link

Not the Unions' Fault! BMW sales fell 7.7 percent in July, and the brand got outsold by Mercedes. That couldn't be because BMWs are ugly, having been led down an aesthetic blind alley by the pretentious "visionary" Chris Bangle! No, it must be a temporary downturn. That's it. Consumers are just waiting for the "facelifted X3." For sure. ... 5:16 P.M. link

Turnout in the Connecticut primary appears to be high, for a mid-summer primary. Mystery Pollster explains why, contrary to the semi-CW, he doesn't think a big turnout helps Lieberman. ... Other Connecticut sources: Kos, Hotline  (currently purveying a pro-Lamont Volvo/Donut Theory), Tapper  ...4:28 P.M.

Glenn, your new car is ready. [Via Autoblog1:16 A.M.

Mystery Pollster and Charles Franklin on why those polls suggesting a Lieberman comeback are probably less significant than they might seem. ... P.S.: Franklin offers some evidence to support Josh Marshall's suspicion that Lieberman's decision to prepare for an independent candidacy is what killed him--specifically "among the moderates who make up his natural supporters," and where his losses have been "politically devastating," at least if you ignore all the cautions about small sample sizes and the election not having, you know, happened yet. ... 12:12 A.M.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Find the nugget and hype it! Who said moving to Poynter would make Romenesko too dull and respectable? Here's a hed from today's edition:

Lemann's piece "thoughtful"
Says Rocky editor.
(Rocky Mtn. News)

If that doesn't give Lemann a mid-life crisis I don't know what will. ... 11:53 P.M.

This Just In: Hillary Avoids Still More Damage! A mere 45% of New Hampshire Democrats  call her a "political whore"--or otherwise say they dislike her, using milder language (e.g., "[c]riminal" . . . "megalomaniac" . . . "fraud" . . . "dangerous" . . . "devil incarnate" . . . "satanic ". . . "power freak" . . . "shrew" . . . "Machiavellian" . . . "evil, power-mad witch"). ... Nothing a bit of additional "repositioning" won't cure! ... [You're very proud that, unlike the paper where the original article ran, you get to spell out 'whore,' aren't you?--ed That's value added!] ... 1:32 P.M.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Hillary Spins the Times If you're Hillary Clinton, and you fear people might interpret a Lieberman loss in Tuesday's Connecticut Senate primary as trouble for other pro-war Senate Dems, what do you do? Get the credulous New York Times to print your damage-controlling spin on the front page!** Here's the headline:

Clinton Dodges Political Peril for War Vote

Oh yeah? Says who? Anne Kornblut (who owed Hillary one after erroneously reporting that the former First Lady actually said something interesting) claims that "skillful repositioning and adaptation to changing circumstances have enabled her to avoid political damage." Kornblut then outlines Hillary's attempts to make up for her war vote (by "repositioning" and criticizing the Bush administration) but she offers zero evidence that this in fact has enabled Hillary to avoid political damage--at least on the national stage on which Hillary aspires to play. Among the anti-war Democrats I know, Hillary has suffered huge political damage.  ... Still, it's impressive that her "advisers" can still make the New York Times jump. ...

P.S.: If Kornblut's point was that Hillary is still a shoo-in to win her N.Y. Senate primary, isn't that because the netrootsy left hasn't targeted her, mostly for reasons that have little to do with the success or non-success of the palliative measures she's taken to detoxify her war vote? (Some of those other reasons: She's more deeply entrenched, she has more fundraising capability, she's won the loyalty of the New York left on other issues, she's reviled by the Right on those other issues, New York's a bigger, tougher state and taking on a Clinton and a former First Lady is a bigger deal than taking on someone who arguably stabbed both Bill Clinton and Gore in the back, etc.)

**--Yes, I'm being crude about this. The NYT story doesn't seem to require a complex explanation. 5:48 P.M. link

A few points in defense of "Kaus-ism": As generously labeled by Kevin Drum (using Noam Scheiber's words), this deviant tendency has taken hold among "liberal fogies" who remember pre-Clinton politcs when

the threats to the party (and the country) from the left were as big as the threats from the right. Back then, this group regarded the left wing of the Democratic Party as substantively wrong and politically self-defeating.

Drum concedes this attitude was "arguably necessary" in "the 70s and early 80s," but now it's just those neoliberal fogies fighting their old wars!

Why should anyone even moderately left of center spend more than a few minutes a week worrying about a barely detectable liberal drift in the Democratic Party? Will the tut-tutters not be happy until CEOs make 1000x the average wage instead of the mere 400x they make now and the 200x they made during the Reagan years? How much farther to the right do they want Dems to go? ... [snip]

Worrying about lefties in the Democratic Party when the GOP is led by a guy named George Bush is like worrying about the Michigan Militia when a guy named Osama is driving airplanes into your buildings. The fogies need to get real.

1) Drum says bashing what he calls "the left" is misguided because that battle has already been won by the "neoliberals." I'd say the battle is not so much against the "left" as against old-style ("paleo") liberalism, which includes what passes for a "left" among Dems, but more importantly includes the conventional interest groups that made up  the mainstream party in the 70s and 80s--not "deranged hippies" but the unions, the civil rights lobby, the elderly lobby, the whole array of bureaucratic institutions dependent on federal money. (McGovernism, remember, was in large part a rebellion against these groups. Read the 1972 Democratic platform--or Thomas Geoghegan's famous TNR essay, "Miami and the Seeds of Port Huron.")

2) Have these groups been routed? Have "nearly all the prescriptions that the centrist neoliberals had been fighting for" been adopted by the Dem leadership? On crime and welfare, maybe (though last time I checked Senate Dems were still trying to undermine the 1996 welfare reform).  But what about education--which is not just a philosphical issue but one of the four or five biggest practical problems still facing the nation. I hadn't realized, until I read Drum, that the teachers' unions had ceased to be a force in state and national politics. Democratic politicians no longer define the education problem as one of "resources" (and never mind what the money is spent on.) The neolib message has gotten through! In state after state, mediocre teachers can now be efficiently fired, so the taxpayers are confident that any added resources will actually go to better education, as opposed to the same old mediocre teachers. That battle's been won. I should be celebrating. ... Oh wait ... where am I? That was a deluded Drum dream. On the non-astral plane of reality the teachers' unions are a large part of what's left of the institutional  Dem party and are busy frustrating worthwhile education reform around the nation. Wouldn't want to attack them! ... Similarly, the PC left is now pushing an immigration semi-amnesty that will, among other things, lower wages for unskilled workers and make it much harder to fight poverty among Americans earning way less than 400X less than CEOs. But we wouldn't want to criticize La Raza! Why, their influence is "barely detectable." ...

3) Many of the unfortunately persistent paleolib practices are ones that prevent government from working well and will prevent any future Democratic government from working well. I'm talking about institutions like the civil service system, defended over the years by both federal employee unions and liberal legalists, which prevents government from ever operating as efficiently as the private sector--or the notorious Davis-Bacon Act, a bureaucratic prop for the construction unions, which makes it more expensive for the government to build anything than for a private company to build it. Democrats may temporarily benefit when the bureaucratic sclerosis that results from these and other practices leads to government failure, as in the Katrina rescue. But as the party of "more government" Democrats should be even more concerned about reforming those practices than Republicans. That was once the point of a small magazine called The Washington Monthly. (Sorry. Slipped into a bit of nostalgic fogeyism there.) ...

4) Is it true, as Drum contends, that it that Democrats are split while the GOP remains ominously "united behind the barroom gibberish of George Bush"? That's funny, because-I've just been reading persuasive op-eds by E.J. Dionne and Peter Beinart  arguing that it's the Republicans who are split (on immigration, the war, the deficit, stem cells, etc.) while Democrats are relatively united, policy-wise. In fact, at this point the impediment to a Democratic victory is hardly the need to convince voters it's time to throw out the GOPs. The Democratic problem is precisely the lingering distaste of the voters --those fogies!--for Democrats, and their vestigial fear that if elected Democrats will start doing the things that led the neolibs in the '70s and '80s to rebel. Given the institutional power of the unions and the lobbies in the Democratic party, that's not an irrational fear. The way to dispel the fear, and get Democrats elected, is to forcefully renounce (i.e. attack) the undesirable paleolib solutions, not to paper them over and hope the voters are too stupid or angry to care.

5) Another thing that turns voters off is the angry "which side are you on?" politics of the Kos crowd. Maybe Drum and Markos Moulitsas prefer a journalism of unity, in which Democrats never get criticized, fruitful bipartisan reforms (e.g. school choice) are suppressed for the sake of the common fight, and the need to bash the enemy breeds a bullying conformity. ('It's been three hours and you haven't denounced Mel Gibson yet!') I'd rather waitress. 

Point of Personal Privilege (in response to Drum's comments section): Have I defended Lieberman? I don't think so. I've never particularly cared if Lieberman or Lamont represents Connecticut--Lieberman's annoyingly sanctimonious, and less of a neolib than a neocon. Maybe the self-righteousness is why he's never actually convinced many fellow Democrats to change their minds on anything, the way President Clinton changed minds on welfare, for example, or Fritz Hollings changed minds on the budget.** Lieberman blew his chance at greatness when he kowtowed to the race-preference lobby at the 2000 convention. ("Please don't end it." It's the pathetic 'please' that cuts it for me.)  Nor am I especially anti-Dean. Dean was a plausible president, especially compared with Kerry. I am anti-Kos, because it seems to me (perhaps ignorantly) that he represents the most forceful form of tendency Drum defends, and that turns off voters--the tendency that says Democrats shouldn't spend much time questioning their traditional positions or their institutional allies because that prevents them from being as aggressively and nastily partisan as possible.

In the 1960s they told us we must be the change we seek. Do we want to become a nation of Kos-like partisan a_____es? Better a New Politics of Gene McCarthyesque candor! Very Fogey of me. ...

**--Beinart praises Lieberman's stands on Bosnia and Kosovo--which seem to have helped change one mind, namely President Clinton's. What I'm talking about is changing the minds of large numbers of Democratic and Dem-friendly voters. ...[Via Room Eight5:41 P.M. link

Loss of Focus: In January. I predicted "Ford, not GM, will rebound this year"  because Ford had two strong new products (the Fusion sedan and the Edge SUV). It's sure looking as if I was wrong--and The Truth About Cars has an argument as to why. Especially inexplicable are a) Ford's apparent willingness to let the competent Focus die on the vine, and b) Ford's " move to deep-six (rather than re-engineer) their big sedans and people carriers"--such as the Crown Vic and Lincoln Town Car--just "when the American market is flooding with SUV refugees" who might want to move down into big sedans. ... I still think the Edge will be a hit, though. (The Fusion already is.) ... [via Autoblog] 2:26 A.M.

Friday, August 4, 2006

"There's a chicken in my nest and she won't lay until I've given her my best": Arthur Lee, singer and songwriter of the great L.A. psychedlic band Love, died yesterday. LAist has more. ... I prefer the early Byrds-like numbers (i.e., "No Matter What You Do") to the trippy, orchestral material that won Lee a following as a Beatles-esque genius. But it all holds up! ... Update: Steve Smith has a post. ... Here's an informative page on the band. ...  A good Sara Scribner piece appeared in the Dallas Observer on 3/25/99, but I can find it only on NEXIS. ... 11:17 A.M. 

Global Warming--The GOP's Friend! I notice from the cursory stats Slate gives me that Bruce Reed's Has Been blog has been attracting lots of hits. What do we do when a fellow blogger meets with success? Lash out bitterly, of course! ... Reed makes the case that Democrats could benefit "if northern winters become easier to bear and southern summers become unbearable"--and as a result

"all the snowbirds who've flocked to Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California suddenly turn around and head north."

Does this make sense?  Won't a sudden movement of red state voters into blue states turn those blue states redder? Can the Democrats' narrow 2004 presidential lead in, say, Pennsylvania and Minnesota withstand a large influx of surly Sunbelters? ...  Meanwhile the old Southern red states aren't going to turn blue even if they're depopulated. (They'll lose electoral votes, but remember that each state gets at least three of those no matter how few people it has.) The result: more red electoral votes, no? ... 1:42 A.M. link

Thursday, August 3, 2006

The "Real Loser"-- kf's Forward Lean: This is an obvious point,** but if Lieberman is toast on Tuesday, as everyone (e.g., KosBevan, Note) seems to agree, isn't that very bad news for other Democrats who voted for the war and might want to compete for Democratic primary votes--e.g. Hillary Clinton? For the first time, it seems entirely plausible to me that Hillary will look at the terrain and choose not to run in 2008. It's less plausible, but not completely outrageous, to think she'll avoid the Dem primary electorate by running as an independent. ... Lieberman could show the way for her there too, if he successfully pursues an independent candidacy in Connecticut. ... P.S.--Who Spun Howard?: This is cheap and unfair, but here's Howard Fineman on the Chris Matthews Show  this past weekend:

Mr. FINEMAN: Chris, I think Senator Joe Lieberman may have stopped the bleeding up there in that primary.

He told us something we didn't know! ...

**--kf today, HuffPo tomorrow, E.J. next week. ... Update: Make that Sager, who also tries out a bit of premature contrarianism. ... More: Ezra Klein's also thinking Hillary may not run:

Folks in the know tell me that Bill is actually the least enthused about her candidacy, as he believes McCain will be the 2008 nominee and no Democrat can defeat him.  I wouldn't be surprised if Hillary, slowly realizing that her left flank if collapsing, may be grudgingly accepting Bill's conclusion.

And on Sunday: Dan Balz's turn. ... 11:52 P.M. link

Are Gay Men Promiscuous? Several e-mailers, responding to the Sullivan/Beinart v. Coulter debate on gay male promiscuity described below, make a point along the following lines:

a) [Sullivan']s saying that men are more promiscuous than women, that gay men can be more promiscuous because their partners are other men and that straight men would be as promiscuous as gay men if they had the opportunity. 

b) Sullivan's saying that since there are two men in a homosexual relationship versus one man in a heterosexual relationship, there's two times as much testosterone - one man's worth per man. But there's still as much testosterone in any one male as any other.

Yes, I think that's what Sullivan is saying. The e-mailers claim is that this doesn't make gay men (in Beinart's words) "inherently more promiscuous than straight people"--what Beinart charged Coulter with saying. I don't know.

a) Sullivan's saying gay men are no more promiscuous than straight men--until they meet another man! Sounds pretty "inherent" to me--inherent to having gay men in the world. Straight men don't lust after a gender that's not going to try to put fairly strict limits their pursuit of sex. 

b) Coulter never said "inherent" anyway. That's Beinart putting words in her mouth. She said that gays are "generally ... more promiscuous." Sullivan concedes they are. If it's bigoted for her it's bigoted for him. But it's not. 

c) I accept that the initial subjective sexual impulse--"lust in the heart," as it were--may be no stronger in gay men than in ordinary straight men, though I don't see why we should close ourselves to the possibility of a difference. Why is it accepted PC dogma that homosexual orientation--whom you want to have sex with--is in the genes but if you then suggest that maybe there is, in the genes. also a little bit stronger impulse to have sex ... well, then you're an "anti-gay bigot"? If one thing's in the genes it seems entirely possibility the other is too, no? Again, I don't claim it is. I officially endorse the PC Andrew Sullivan/ Bob Wright  bien pensant position that being gay is in the genes but that the general lust of gay men for other men is fortuitously exactly equal to the general lust of straight men for women.

d) When I was at the New Republic one of Sullivan's big editorial stunts was publishing and praising a long excerpt from The Bell Curve, which flirted with (but conspicuously couldn't support) the notion that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites. But hey, that's different! You can suggest that blacks are inherently dumb. Just don't suggest that gays are inherently promiscuous. 

Update:BoiFromTroy says "it’s the Government’s fault." ... 1:21 A.M. link

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Attention Inequality Dramatizers and Slow-Growth Critics: Many recent downbeat pieces on the American income distribution have included "average weekly earnings" or "average hourly earnings"  data from the Department of Labor, as in [emphasis added]:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its monthly employment report, measures the average hourly wage of white-collar and blue-collar workers below the rank of supervisor. ... Although the recovery is now nearly four and a half years old, the average wage had lost ground to inflation until last fall, when the unemployment rate finally fell below 5 percent and stayed there. ... -- ( NYT, May 6, 2006)


Average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory workers, adjusted for inflation, are lower now than when the recovery began.

So there you have it. Americans don't feel good about the economy because it hasn't been good for them. Never mind the G.D.P. numbers: most people are falling behind.--(Paul Krugman, NYT, Dec. 5, 2005)


... the quarter-century decline in manufacturing jobs, which often paid middle-class wages and benefits, is one factor that has contributed to the fall during that period in average hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, economists say. --(WaPo, April 15, 2006)

These "weekly" and "hourly" earnings statistics are suspect! They look uninspiring, especially when tracked over decades, but they almost certainly understate earnings to at least some degree. 1) They cover "production or non-supervisory" workers, but that definition isn't exactly a bright line  (as the DOL admits) and probably changes over time (for example, as companies use computers to delegate more authority down the chain of command). If higher-paid workers start being excluded as "supervisors" that pushes the average down even if nothing really changes;  2) The wage data are not adequately "benchmarked," whatever that means. Barry Bosworth of the Brookings Institution is the expert to call. ... P.S.: I'm not saying inequality isn't growing, or that the expansion of G.D.P has been paying off for the average American the way it should. I'm saying it's probably not quite as bad as the "average hourly wage" data suggest. I'm skeptical of the idea that Americans earned lower hourly wages in 2000 than in 1978, for example. ... 3:47 P.M.  link

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Bloggingheads discuss  Ann Coulter'sviews on promiscuity, homosexuality and narcissism, informed by the insights of evolutionary psychology! ... P.S.: Here's a partial transcript of Coulter and Peter Beinart discussing the same subjects CNBC's Kudlow & Co. Am I wrong to think that Beinart, who's been writing some excellent pieces lately, comes off as a posturing fool who somehow successfully bullies Kudlow?

Ms. COULTER: ... It's sort of standard, feminist doctrine 101, and psychological doctrine that wildly promiscuous heterosexual men, you know, still believe in a place called Fire Island. I don't think it's that hard to believe, except that it happens to be, you know, being said about feminist great hero Bill Clinton, so they pretend they've never heard this before. I--I'm--I don't know why this should be a particularly startling statement. ...[snip] ...

KUDLOW: Peter Beinart, what is your response to Ann's remarks on Clinton?

Mr. PETER BEINART ("The Good Fight" Author): It's a statement of a bigot. Pure and simple. To suggest that gay people are somehow inherently more promiscuous than straight people and that straight people who are promiscuous are--therefore have latent homosexuality tendencies, and, look, Larry, I'll--let me throw it to you. It's not enough for people like me, for liberals, to say that when Ann says that, she's being a bigot. You need to say it. As a conservative who agrees with her on issues, it's up to you, because you don't believe in a conservative movement that is bigoted. You don't believe that's what the Republican Party stands for. It's up to you to say that it's bigoted and to distance yourself from it.

KUDLOW: Well, I would...

Ms. COULTER: Do you have some problem with gays?

Mr. BEINART: No, in fact--in fact, I think you are--you are the one who's making...

Ms. COULTER: I like gays. I like all gays, and not just the ones who are Ann Coulter drag queens.

Mr. BEINART: You...

Ms. COULTER: I like gay just fine. What's your problem?

Mr. BEINART: Well, it's a strange way to show...

Ms. COULTER: Why is that so insulting?

Mr. BEINART: To make--to make classically bigoted statements about them is a strange way to show your affection, Ann.

Ms. COULTER: Classically bigoted statements? You're denying that gays are...

Mr. BEINART: In fact, the idea that somehow gay men are inherently more promiscuous than straight men is an old chestnut of anti-gay bigotry. You surely know that. You said it anyway.

I--Larry, I think it's really up to you to tell Ann that you find this bigotry unacceptable in the conservative movement.

Ms. COULTER: I love these--I love these constant demands that every other conservative on the planet denounce Ann Coulter. I refuse to allow...

KUDLOW: I'm a friend of Ann Coulter...

Mr. BEINART: Well, I don't--I don't--you know, I criticized--I criticized Michael Moore when I disagree with him.

Ms. COULTER: Wait. Where are all those heterosexual bathhouses? I must have missed that period of the '70s.

KUDLOW: I am a friend of Ann Coulter's. That's no secret. I have read her books. I basically admire her values. But, Ann, I guess when you go down that road, I don't know. You kind of lose me on that. You just kind of lose me. I just don't see it.

Ms. COULTER: Well, I don't--what am I losing you on?

Mr. BEINART: Good for you.

KUDLOW: I think it--I think it detracts from your overall...

Ms. COULTER: What am I losing you on? Forget, you know, the general I disagree, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What are you disagreeing with me on?

Mr. BEINART: It's called bigotry, Ann. What part of bigotry don't you understand?

Ms. COULTER: Are you claiming that gays are generally not more promiscuous? Is that what you're claiming? Are both of you maintaining that gays are not--some segment of gays are not more promiscuous than heterosexuals? Is that the big point here?


Mr. BEINART: I'm saying that I don't know that there's any empirical evidence whatsoever here.

Ms. COULTER: No. I'm asking Larry here.

Mr. BEINART: And it's a--it's a--it's a bigoted stereotype that you are fomenting.

Ms. COULTER: You don't know any evidence that gays are more promiscuous than heterosexuals?

Mr. BEINART: Where's your--where's your evidence, Ann?

Ms. COULTER: Where have you been?

Mr. BEINART: Where's your evidence?

Ms. COULTER: It's a fact.

Mr. BEINART: Give me the evidence. Cite chapter and verse. You have no evidence whatsoever.

Ms. COULTER: I just cited the bathhouses. We don't have heterosexual bathhouses. It's well known.

Mr. BEINART: What--it's like saying--it's like saying Jews--Ann, it's like saying Jews love money more. Everyone knows that's true. Where is your evidence?

Ms. COULTER: It is well known that gays...

Mr. BEINART: It is well known.

Ms. COULTER: I--every time I try to give the evidence, you get after me.

Mr. BEINART: That's your evidence? It's well known? OK. Give me the evidence.

Ms. COULTER: OK. You got to stop talking now...

Mr. BEINART: Prove you're not a bigot...

Update: Andrew Sullivan, unmasks another bigot. He writes:

The truth is that many gay men are acting like Bill Clinton, because, like Bill Clinton, they are full of testosterone, and, like Bill Clinton, they can get sex when they want. Clinton gets it and has gotten it because of his charm and his power (which he regularly abused for sexual harassment purposes). Many straight men would do the same if they could get away with it. Can you imagine the lines for straight bathhouses if women were as eager to get it on with strangers as men are?

Gay men get it because their emotional and sexual universe is all-male and so twice as testosterone-laden as the straight male sexual universe. [Boldface added]

Hmmm. Sure sounds like Sullivan is saying gay men are "inherently more promiscuous than straight people."An old chestnut of anti-gay bigotry! I await Beinart's denunciation of Sullivan, and Sullivan's distancing from Sullivan. ... 3:54 A.M. link

Monday, July 31, 2006

Here's a potential semi-exculpatory angle on the Mel Gibson incident that even Kim Masters missed: Read the first sentence of the last paragraph of this favorable Daily Catholic profile. ... 9:06 P.M. link

Attention, Class A Shareholders: They could just call it  Pinch's Law. ... 3:12 A.M.

The Fund Challenge: The Wall Street Journal's John Fund has been arguing the virtues of a revived bracero program  with a repetitive vigor that borders on desperation. He reasons, non-crazily, that any successful immigration reform will have to provide take into account the labor demands of U.S. employers by allowing some immigrant workers into the country. Fund also argues, along with the rest of the "comprehensive" chorus, that Congress absolutely must pass a law to reform immigration this year (as long as it's a law they agree with). ...

So here's a deal for Fund and his confederates: What if Congress passes a House-style enforcement bill, but adds to it a sizable bracero (guest worker) program--but that program is limited to foreign workers who haven't broken the law by entering the country illegally. In other words, "new" braceros only. No legalization of existing illegals, either directly (as in Bush-style "comprehensive" reform) or through the Pence Scam (which would let illegals jump the queue by arranging with their current U.S. employers for "earmarked" guest worker slots).**

How about it? If you really want to relieve the "pressure" on the border by "by providing a legal path for workers that recognizes the demands of our economy," you'll take this "new" bracero deal. If you just want to help U.S. employers find extra labor, without rewarding illegal immigration, you'll take the deal.

But if what you really want to do is try to appeal to Latino voters by providing a path to legality for those who've already snuck in illegally, you won't take the deal.

Why do I think I know what Fund's answer will be?

**--: Maybe it would be impossible to prevent a program limited to "new" braceros from being used by existing illegals who returned to their home countries to sign up and reenter. That won't be such a bad thing as long as they have to compete on an even basis with those who never entered the U.S. illegally--that is, as long as their current employers are prevented from in effect plucking them out of the queue, Pence-style. That should be possible--e.g. by preventing employers from requesting specific individuals and turning the decision on which workers to admit over to a third party. ...   2:40 A.M.  link

Like many of my conservative friends, I don't agree with the sentiments expressed in "Bush Was Right"--but strictly qua song, isn't it a lot better than, say, Neil Young's shambling "Looking for a Leader"? [Via Lucianne] 1:35 A.M.

Friday, July 28, 2006

So if you say "there is something narcissistic about homosexuality" that makes you a "deranged bigot"? The range of Sullivan-approved discourse gets smaller and smaller! Freud wouldn't have a prayer. ...  2:55 P.M.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I'm not paranoid enough: This isn't quite a syllogism. More like a conspirogism:

1) The Republicans will only swallow hard and nominate John McCain if they are really scared of losing in 2008.

2) If the Republicans do very badly in the 2006 midterms they will be really scared of losing in 2008.

3) A big reason they might do very badly in the midterms is that President Bush's misguided "comprehensive" immigration semi-amnesty has demoralized conservative voters.

4) One of the main people pushing Bush to pursue a misguided immigration semi-amnesty is John McCain.

I'm sure I'm not the first to have that thought. ... Update: McCain seems to be (absurdly)  distancing himself from the campaign finance reform  project he's previously sponsored and supported. But not from immigration reform project. Hmmm. ... 2:22 A.M.

Googleswifting: Are those little Google ads announcing "Clinton's new girlfriend"--you know, the ones that pop up when you search for "Bill Clinton"-- beginning to do real damage? Two non-political people have now asked me out of the blue who Clinton's new girlfriend is. Three and it's a Trend. ... P.S.: The ad links to a highly speculative (i.e. no evidence) but informative piece  on Belinda Stronach. Most people probably don't click on it, and just absorb the salacious headline, giving the former president the presumption of guilt he has repeatedly earned. ... The Larger Point! There would seem to be potential for some highly efficient under-Radar Swift-boating here. Google probably reaches lots of voters who don't listen to conventional mass media, and the ads don't go away like yesterday's papers. ... If I were Hillary I'd be concerned about this new avenue of innuendo. ... 8:42 P.M. link

Asymmetric: I would say Gawker clearly crossed the border to inflict damage, and now Burkle is threatening massive retaliation, but Gawker is not playing by conventional rules. Indeed, it's not even clear that Gawker knows what the conventional rules are! ... Update"We have been instructed to commence litigation ..." ... 5:04 P.M.

Rahm Bombs: I agree with Brad Carson, Instapundit and Taranto's criticism of the Democrats' irresponsible, opportunistic anti-al-Maliki stunt. Al-Maliki's the elected leader of his nation expressing the views of a large majority of his fellow citizens. A few thousand U.S. soldiers died so he could do this, and Congress can withstand hearing him out. It's surely in Israel's interest, as well as ours, that he succeed. Democrats would be as tolerant as Speaker Hastert if they didn't see a chance to score a few points. (Didn't Karzai talk to a joint session of Congress? Do we think he always publicly supports Israel against its enemies?) .. P.S.: Why did The Note respectfully give play to the stunt, as well as a wispy DCCC hope regarding GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's race? [Because The Note is Rahm's bitch?--ed Thank you for expressing your views. We will take them under consideration.] ... Update: Peter Beinart  notes the Dems craven al-Maliki posturing parallels their craven Iraqi "amnesty" posturing. He throws in Dubai/ports as Example #3 to establish a trend, but this is a case where two will do, I think. ... 2:12 A.M.

Gangs of Manhattan: I hadn't realized the schism on the Right over immigration reform had gotten down to the drawing-up-lists stage. Fun! Here's the wary conservative  Enforcement First list. And here's the pandering ... sorry, I mean the pragmatic conservative Comprehensive Reform list ("promoted by the White House Public Affairs Office," according to John Fonte.) It's Pod vs. Frum!Kemp vs. Newt! ..  Who would have thought a canyon-like fault would open up between Shelby Steele and John McWhorter (or, for that matter, between John McWhorter and Heather Mac Donald)?  The National Review is split. The "Likudniks" are split! The Hudson Institute is split. The American Conservative Union is split. The Hoover Institution is split. The Manhattan Institute is split. Even the Wall Street Journal ed page alumni association is split. Here's a partial scorecard...

Enforcement First: William Bennett, Robert Bork, William F. Buckley, Ward Connerly, John Fonte, David Frum, Frank Gaffney, Newt Gingrich, Jonah Goldberg, Victor Davis Hanson, David Horowitz, David Keene, Roger Kimball, Mark Krikorian, Michael Ledeen, John Leo, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Rich Lowry, Heather Mac Donald, John O'Sullivan, Daniel Pipes, Phyllis Schlafly, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele.

Comprehensive: Jack Kemp, George Shultz, Jean Kirkpatrick, Tamar Jacoby, Grover Norquist, Jeff Bell, Bill Kristol Arthur Laffer, Linda Chavez, Lawrence Kudlow, John Podhoretz, John McWhorter, Max Boot, Vin Weber, Richard Gilder, Ed Goeas, Martin Anderson, J.C. Watts, Ed Gillespie, Clint Bolick, Steve Forbes.

Are you surprised by any name on either of the lists? I am--I'd have guessed Jeanne Kirkpatrick would go to the nationalistic Enforcement party and before I knew more about Ward Connerly I might have predicted he'd join the "comprehensive" camp. Frum-bites-Kristol is always news! And which side would Newt be on if he weren't running for President? ...

P.S.: I agree with Fonte that it's odd to see the Comprehensives try to sway conservatives with the question

"What side of history do conservatives want to be on?"

As if the conservative movement hadn't cut its teeth in the 1950s by resisting just such go-with-the-flow arguments from the hard Left. ... P.P.S.: The comprehensive letter also guiltily hides the issue of semi-amnesty, calling only for "status for the illegal immigrants already here." What kind of status would that be? ... 1:18 A.M. link

I always knew making phone calls leads to nothing but trouble. ... 12:59 A.M.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Pink Elephant in the Room: I'm not sure that's a metaphor (for Democrats who voted with Bush on Iraq) that Bill Clinton wants to let loose. ... 1:41 P.M.

Something you probably thought happened decades ago (if you live on the coasts): Foreign car manufacturers are now selling more than half  the cars and trucks bought by U.S. consumers. That includes SUVs. ... Detroit's Big Three manufacturers account for more than half (54.9%) of sales only if you add in sales to fleets. ... Predictable-yet-accurate kf spin: Another milestone for organized labor--"Big Three" is roughly synonymous with "UAW-made." ... [via Autoblog ] 1:19 P.M.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I try to explain, somewhat unconvincingly, why I find investment banker, Pinchbuddy, and NYT Sacred Cow Steven Rattner so annoying.** Rattner's recent WSJ op-ed on income inequality  offers a good example of one reason. Rattner calls growing income inequality the "mother of all electoral issues," especially because

[f]rom 2000 to 2005, for example, average weekly wages for the bottom 10% dropped by 2.7% (after adjustment for inflation),

Rattner acknowledges that a cause of the erosion of wages at the bottom is the increased supply of unskilled immigrant workers. ("At the least, immigration certainly puts further pressure on wages of lower-income workers whose jobs the new arrivals compete for.") But he doesn't dare draw the logical conclusion--that maybe immigration should be controlled in order to raise incomes at the lower end of the labor market. That wouldn't be Democratically Correct and might inhibit Rattner's chances to one day ... I don't know, be Treasury secretary. Instead, he pontificates smugly

But giving in to politically expedient demands, such as barricading our borders, would be a mistake.

Covering up an obvious logical implication of your argument is a form of intellectual dishonesty, no? Who needs it? ...

P.S.: See this LAT article  (on the economic polarization of Los Angeles neigborhoods) for a similar PC avoidance of even mentioning the effect of immigration on wages at the bottom. ...

P.P.S.: Did I miss the meeting at which the Dem-MSM steering committee decided to make income inequality a big issue in time for the midterms? ... It's certainly a legitimate effort, but at some point the Dems are going to have to see that it leads directly to a contradiction with their Latino base: if we're really serious about raising wages at the bottom we'll want to get control of the inflow of the unskilled before rewarding with citizenship the illegals who make up so much of that inflow. ...

More: Give the NYT's Paul Krugman points for having the balls to confront the policy implications of immigration (and its wage-depressing effect) that Rattner chose to ignore. ...

P.P.P.S.: I've argued we shouldn't worry about income inequality per se, but only as it affects the traditional American ideal of social equality--and the connection between the two is a lot looser than most contemporary liberals will acknowlege. Still, to achieve that ideal it has to be possible for those at the bottom of the labor market who "work and play by the rules," etc., to live a life of dignity and respect. If wages for the unskilled are too low, it makes that very difficult. More important, only an increase in wages at the bottom--like that achieved in the tight labor market at the end of Clinton's term in office--will enable the absorption of the non-working underclass (especially young black men) into the mainstream working society. The underclass, not a rising Gini Index, is the greatest threat to social equality both because those trapped in the underclass have a hard time being treated as equals and because the flight from the underclass, and the crime associated with it, leads to all sorts of neighborhood stratification, not to mention the degradation of common public spaces.) ... But I also think the sheer numerical income inequality that might be achieved if true "open borders" advocates had their way--e.g. inequality on the scale of Rio de Janeiro, for example--might be great enough in itself to threaten social equality. ...

**--Of course, one reason he's annoying is that he's a NYT Sacred Cow! 4:40 P.M. link

If Haynes Johnson were a movie reviewer: The problem with Superman Returns is that Superman "asks no sacrifice from the American people"! ... 3:48 P.M.

Eduwonk seems to think the recent New York charter schools study may be a bit more significant than others think it is. Meanwhile, he doubts the pro-Dem  Center for American Progress is "in the [teachers'] union busting business" with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Too bad! ... 11:56 A.M.

Eric Umansky gains access  to the NYT's unreleased My Times feature ("Where the best minds in journalism help you edit the Web") and finds it very revealing. ... See how Frank Rich builds his cocoon! ... 11:31 A..M.

Monday, July 24, 2006

ABC: It's the Dems Race to Lose! The liberal summer interns who have taken over the writing of ABC's The Note need to get out of Lauriol Plaza!** Here's point #7 in their rundown of GOP midterm troubles:

7. IMMIGRATION: It is still hard to envision a plausible outcome that will help the Republicans in November. Do-no-harm seems their best bet, and even that looks tough.

Huh? Is it really hard to envision an immigration outcome that helps the GOPs in November? How about: Congress remains deadlocked and House members use their enforcement-oriented stand to rally their base? ... Or Congress passes a House-style enforcmenent bill with a comprehensive-reform-later Senate fig leaf--which satisfies voters that at least something has been done. ... Maybe the Note's seemingly warped conclusion is based on an ultra-sophisticated, insider's seat-by-seat analysis of where the Republican base might make a difference. If so, it's an analysis that eluded the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman, who points to four such seats.  The Post's subhed: "Will the Immigration Issue Save the Republicans?" Guess they can at least envision it. ...

**--P.S.:The Note is so off here that it raises an intriguing, second-tier question: Which Democratic consultant, pollster, or politician are they paying way too much attention to? In 2004 the leading candidate for Note Misleader was Kerry aide Jim Jordan. A good clue as to who's performing similar duties in 2006 might have been contained in today's embarrassingly sycophantic point #6:

6. MR. SCHUMER AND MR. EMANUEL: These cats are not fooling around.

11:09 A.M. link

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Et Tu, Tom? Even WaPo's Tom Ricks, consistent Iraq War critic and author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, is against withdrawing the troops now. On Meet the Press today he said [ video available here ]:

I think it would be irresponsible to go in there and do what we've done and then walk away from it. There's a lot of Iraqis out there who have committed their lives to helping the Americans do something there. And to abandon those people would be absolutely shameful as well. [Emphasis added]

Sorry, Arianna! ... P.S.: That moral calculation doesn't mean Bush and the Republicans shouldn't be held accountable, but it does complicate the picture for Democratic candidates who might seek to appeal to the "netroots" by one-upping each other on calls for withdrawal. ... 11:58 P.M.

The proverbial plan so crazy it just might work. ... 11:25 P.M.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hola, Kos! The Blog That Didn't Bark:  Slate's John Dickerson notes that ex-Gov. Mark Warner

has largely been able to skirt the contentious issues so far, though in the latest loyalty test he says he is supporting Joe Lieberman in his Democratic primary race against Ned Lamont. [Emphasis added]

No doubt Warner's Lieberman kiss will earn a strong rebuke from Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas, even though Warner has hired Kos' buddy Jerome Armstrong. ... It must just be my inferior search skills that prevent me from finding Kos' vehement attack! ... After all, Kos  snipes at Sen. Dodd  and Senators Boxer and Biden for their support of Lieberman in the primary. How is  Warner any different? .... 5:56 P.M link

Is the Democratic elite turning against the teachers' unions?Eduwonk thinks so. Some evidence (and not just from Eduwonk): 1) Democratic Governor-in-waiting Eliot Spitzer of New York has endorsed opening more independent charter schools--which are typically not unionized to the same degree as public schools--after a study  showed many of them to be doing better than their traditional public competitors.** 2)  Speaking at the recent fancy Aspen Institute event, former Clinton official (and now New York City schools chancellor) Joel Klein made a "case that teachers-union contracts are the main obstacle to improving urban education," according to Mort Kondracke:

"The contract protects the interests of adults at the expense of kids," he told a rapt audience, describing how it bars pay differentials based on student performance and service in difficult schools; makes it impossible for principals to fire underperforming teachers; and allows teachers to choose their own professional development tracks, regardless of supply-and-demand needs, such as those for more math and science teachers.

3) Also according to Kondracke, the Soros-approved, pro-Dem Center for American Progress, headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, has joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in an effort  "likely to target teachers unions that resist reform." (CAP says only, "The Chamber will use the results of the analysis to formulate and aggressively advance public policies to improve state education systems ... ") ...

**-- This study seems significant. Is it? I don't trust the NY Post'sanalysis, and look to Eduwonk for guidance. ... Update:RCP's Ryan Sager says the results mean "a little but not a lot"  and explains why. Fred Hess, a charter supporter,  warns more strongly against relying on the study. ... 1:37 P.M. link

ABC Buries the Lede--For a Reason: Here's Point #4 from yesterday's  ABC News Note summary of "key stories" that bear on whether the "Democratic Party [is] on the right track or the wrong track to break from recent electoral patterns ...." Emphasis added:

4. In a front page story, USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports on a resurgence in union membership across the nation and the two main umbrella organizations playing nicely together, which has allowed the House of Labor to move forward with plans to spend $40 million on voter turn out this fall. LINK

Is there "a resurgence in union membership across the nation"? That would be stunning news, since union membership has been in relentless long term decline for fifty years--"from more than 35 percent [in 1955] to 12.5 percent last year, including only 7.9 percent of the private-sector workforce," according to a  Thomas Edsall WaPo piece from September, 2005. But I can't find any mention of this surprising resurgence in union membership in the Post, or the New York Times. I can't find it on Google (to the contrary). I can't find it on the website of the "strategic organizing" Change to Win unions--you'd think they'd boast about it. And there's no mention of it in the USA Today story ABC says reports it. (That's a story about unions raising political campaign money and cooperating with each other, which is different.) Tentative conclusion: It doesn't exist. There's no resurgence in union membership. The Note item is in error. [And "it reflects the subconscious liberal yearnings of whatever MSM summer intern wrote it unaware that the cumbersome legalistic mechanisms of Wagner Act unionism are incompatible with productive success in a fast-moving global high-tech economy"?--ed You said that.] 12:57 P.M. link

Friday, July 21, 2006

I missed Wednesday night's unveiling of the Tesla electric sports car in Santa Monica. ... Prof. Reynolds is skeptical. ... My friend D.L., who drives a souped-up Porsche, was impressed. He emails:

Was at the Tesla event, lots people and everyone got a short ride....

You remember what I said about getting a powerful car makes you happier because everytime you step on the gas you get a little hormonal rush.

Well, this is better.   It's all about the rush, not the motor (which is silent), it feels like space car on wheels.  Like an amusement park thrill ride.   If you ever had a slot car and wondered "Why don't they build big cars like this" - well, they did.   Fun, fun, fun...

The electric-car-from-people-who-like-fast-cars approach has intriguing uncrunchy appeal. Usually fast, sexy cars get all the attention, right? But the Tesla might cause some semiotic confusion among all the L.A. players who've recently bought Priuses because it's considered sexy in Hollywood to not like fast cars. ... Meanwhile: Gas cars are getting out of hand. ... 12:50 P.M.

Rocky Balboa, I.D. Please!  At a well-attended  Zocalo public forum on immigration in L.A. on Wednesday, prominent attorney/activist Connie Rice asserted confidently that one thing the experts agree on is that Americans aren't willing to take meatpacking-plant jobs. Is that right? ... 12:14 P.M.


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]