"Food Stamps in Four Hours"

"Food Stamps in Four Hours"

"Food Stamps in Four Hours"

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 15 2006 3:31 PM

"Food Stamps in Four Hours"

Hello? Republicans? You Awake?

Jay Cost doubts "Republican leaders" have really decided "to effectively write off" the Ohio Senate race between Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown--as reported by the NYT's Nagourney. It's hard to believe that even World Cocooning Champion Nagourney would get such a big thing wrong, but Cost raises suspicions. For one, there is a jarring difference in tone between Nagourney's sensational lede and the more measured paragraphs buried in the piece, such as:

Republicans noted that Mr. DeWine, in addition to having a sizable financial advantage, was a well-liked figure in Ohio who handily won his first two terms in the Senate and still had enough time to recover, even though recent internal party polls showed him lagging badly.

As Cost notes, reallocating money away from a candidate who already has "a sizable financial advantage" isn't the same as 'writing him off.' But maybe Nagourney knows something. [Or maybe he's the victim of cunning Rovian disinformation-ed. I'm suspicious of Rove-as-Machiavellian-Genius arguments, though when dealing with Nagourney the temptation to con him with bogus pro-Dem info must be nearly overwhelming.] 1:21 A.M.

Mort's Word: Writing in the LAT, Lloyd Grove writes--diplomatically--that New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman was "as good as his word" when it came to not interfering with Grove's Daily News gossip column. But it doesn't sound like it!

Mort was as good as his word, even though I would occasionally hear that he was peeved about this or that item concerning this or that pal. In July 2005, then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a close Zuckerman friend, phoned him from jail in Virginia to complain bitterly about a mocking item reporting that her husband, Jason Epstein, was taking a luxury Mediterranean cruise during her incarceration. Mort insisted — via a top editor — that I write a sympathetic follow-up item expressing my delight that Epstein was able to get away from the stress of Plamegate. [E.A.]


Forcing Grove to write a "sympathetic" item about the owner's close friend--I'd call that interference. .... If that's what it's like when Zuckerman's "as good as his word," what's his word worth?  12:22 P.M. link

On This Week, former Secretary of State James Baker said his Iraq Study Group would present options in between "stay the course" and "cut and run." So what's in between? "Stability First" and "Redeploy and Contain," according to the New York Sun'sreporting. The Sun argues that both options leave out "the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections." But the Sun doesn't make clear the extent to which "Stability First"--the apparently preferred choice--would give up on the current, elected Maliki government. Nor is it clear from the Sun's scoop what anti-democratic concessions might be made in the negotiations Baker envisions with Iran and Syria. More leaks needed.  [via JustOneMinute] ... Update: LAT's Doyle McManus confirms the Sun but doesn't add much. ... 11:50 A.M.

Saturd ay, October 14, 2006

MediaNews' Sacramento bureau on California's 2006 contrarianism:

Across the country, Republicans are taking a beating: ...[snip] ...  Yet, oddly enough, in California it may be Democrats who have the most reason to fear Election Day. Not only does their gubernatorial candidate, Phil Angelides, trail Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger heavily in the polls, but there is growing concern that if Angelides does not inspire Democrats to vote, low party turnout could seal the fate of other vulnerable Democrats — and even left-leaning ballot propositions. [E.A.]


As blogger Steve Smith has noted, this may require a reevaluation of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's decision to support an incumbent-protection gerrymander of California's House districts--as opposed to a less-safe line-drawing that would have let Democrats capitalize on a "wave" of support. It turns out that California's Democrats are so weak there probably won't be a wave!  Pelosi brilliantly anticipated this pathetic failure.

Old CW on Pelosi: Weak, short-sighted hack.

New CW on Pelosi: Clairvoyant and cunning!

4:16 P.M.

Next on Oprah: Andrew Sullivan and Mark Halperin, "When Blogs Become Flogs" ... 4:15 P.M.


Just a reminder: With Mel Gibson, there may be more going on than just alcohol ... or alcohol + anti-Semitism ... or even  alcohol + anti-Semitism + "rage."  ... I again refer readers to the last paragraph of this pro-Mel puffer. ... ... 3:19 P.M.

"Food Stamps in Four Hours": You think Ronald Reagan could have gotten some campaign mileage out of this LAT story lauding a program that gets "immigrants who are reluctant to get help from the government" to sign up for food stamps?  ... Wake up, Republicans! You've got to make your meal out of the ingredients at hand.... And don't worry that any criticism of food stamps-for-immigrants will alienate Latinos--the vast majority of whom almost certainly share mainstream attitudes about welfare. Indeed, the point of the LAT's story is that the Latino work ethic is so strong that they disproportionately resist welfare:

"The Mexican man is macho. He doesn't want to come to this country and beg," said Alfonso Chavez, the Community Action Partnership's outreach coordinator. [E.A.]

Luckily, an innovative Department of Agriculture program enables Community Action Partnership to break down these archaic anti-begging prejudices! ...


P.S.: What's most amazing about the LAT story is writer Jennifer Delson's insistence on portraying this as a great thing ("Food Stamp Program Finally Speaks Their Language"). I can't tell if she's clueless or consciously propagandizing. ...

P.P.S.: Food stamps were the one welfare program to survive the 1996 welfare reform. That was the deal struck, and it's not unreasonable. The food aid is there for those who need it. But doesn't mean the government should go around encouraging people to come get their dole on. If low-income Americans are too committed to self-sufficiency to sign up for food stamps, as many are, that's a pride to be valued and respected, no? ...It's doubly problematic to affirmatively recruit new welfare recipients when many of the beneficiaries will be recent immigrants, including illegal immigrants (whose American-born children are eligible for food stamps, according to the LAT). You don't have to be a Minuteman to worry about the incentive structure this creates: 'Cross the border, have an 'anchor baby,' get free food.' ... [via Drudge] 12:50 A.M. link

Fri day, October 13, 2006

Tom Edsall vs. Bob Woodward. ... 11:11 A.M.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

A new round  of Majority Watch robopolls in 48 hot Congressional races produces a new scoreboard. ... First impression: Grim for the GOPs, but if it were a ballgame you wouldn't head for your car. Counting both "weak" and "strong" D leads, Dems are up 224-205, (6 tied) with 218 needed for a majority. ... P.S.: The Majority Watch effort isn't perfect--coverage of potentially close races isn't complete. But it's still the best scoreboard I've seen on the contest for House control--seemingly much more useful than another national generic preference poll. ... 2:44 P.M.

"Impact his lobbying career": Did Karl Rove threaten to hurt Mark Foley's future access-peddling business if he didn't run one more time? That's the impression left by the DNC press release on the subject.  I'd have no problem believing Rove was that thuggish. But all Ryan Lizza's scoop says, in the end, is.

Foley told him that the White House promised that if Foley served for two more years it would "enhance his success" as a lobbyist. "I said, 'I thought you wanted out of this?' And he said, 'I do, but they're scared of losing the House and the thought of two years of Congressional hearings, so I have two more years of duty.' [E.A.]

Logically, promising "enhanced success" if you do X might be little different than promising diminished success if you don't do X. But on the thuggishness scale, there's a big difference. It was Rove's job, after all, to convince popular incumbents to run for reelection.  ... P.S.: At least this is powerful evidence that Rove, unlike Ramesh Ponnuru, actually wants to win!. ... P.P.S.:If Rove did know that Foley was hitting on the pages, something Lizza doesn't charge, then asking him to stay on was reckless. It was crazier from a political point of view (why risk a huge PR blowup it's not as if Foley's the only Republican who could win in his district) than from a child protection point of view (I haven't been convinced that any of the pages were at great risk from Foley's lechery, but then I'm not a parent). It wouldn't be the first time the Bush team has gone for a modest short-term benefit by crossing their fingers and hoping a big, damaging scandal would stay hidden. That was the management flaw highlighted in 2000 by the decision not to come clean early regarding Bush's DUI incident, no? ... 1:50 P.M.

Ambiguity Elminated: "He'll sign": I agree with Instapundit that this e-mail from Tony Snow  to Powerline would seem to settle the question of whether Bush will sign the Secure Fence Act.


A belated note on the fence. The president hasn't signed the bill because it hasn't arrived from Capitol Hill. When it arrives, he'll sign.

Finally, no weaseling. [Are you saying you're satisfied when Snow says it but not when Ruffini says it?--ed Yes] ... 11:48 A.M. link

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bubble or Paranoia? President Bush was asked about the 700-mile border fence at his press conference today (see last question). [via Influence Peddler ].

Once again, Bush doesn't quite say he'll sign the Secure Fence Act--although the questioner (foolishly!) assumes in his question that Bush has said he'd sign and Bush fails to correct him. Bush also, technically, says he's committed to building 700 miles of fencing--which again is not quite the same as signing the bill. The sincerity of even the 700-mile promise can be questioned--at one point Bush ominously seems to tie it all to the earlier appropriations bill that he did sign, saying, "I look forward to ... implementing that which Congress has funded."

He sure doesn't seem excited about HR 6061, but I don't see any way he can veto it, given that he clearly implicates he's going to sign it. But it sure is funny that he doesn't say something like 'I'm looking forward to signing this bill!'

Either a) Bush has a lot on his plate and is completely unaware that there are worries he won't sign the bill (as opposed to worries he won't build the fence**); or b) he doesn't care about placating the largely conservative worriers; or c) he cares but is too verbally and mentally clumsy to get the job done; or d) he's still trying to play a game that preserves the option of building a bit of fence but not signing the actual bill. ...

Call a) the Bubble Scenario, b) the Suicidal Scenario,  c) the Inarticulate Scenario, and d) Paranoid Scenario. ... You make the call! ... I'd say it's either a) or d) ....

Update: Tony Snow's email to Powerline makes clear what Bush failed to make clear--he'll sign the bill. The email was actually posted before Bush gave his press conference. This does not, of course, mean that Bush intended to sign all along. That's one scenario!

**: CNN's Lou Dobbs, for example, has stressed the worry that the fence won't be funded or built, not that Bush won't sign the bill. On Larry King  recently, Dobbs in fact appeared to be under the erroneous impression that Bush had already signed the bill. ...  4:45 P.M. link

I know how Ottawa County feels.  A press release for my 1992 book highlighted its call for the creation of a "vast pubic sphere." .... P.S.: I should have just gone with it. It's one abstract-sounding policy proposal that's been rigorously implemented. ... [ via HuffPo ]1:44 P.M.

Comes at a time of mounting concern! From a report on right-wing WorldNetDaily.com:

A leading senator on immigration-reform says he has serious doubts the 700-mile fence on the country's nearly 2,000 mile-long border with Mexico will ever be built despite a bipartisan Senate vote of 80-19 last week. ...[snip]

[Texas Sen. John] Cornyn's comments come amid efforts by Republican officials to turn back concerns that President Bush will not sign the Secure Fence Act, which allocates the money approve for the fencing. [E.A..]

Good to see the old 'comes-at-a-time' trick being used by the right as well as the left. ... Of course, if Bush wanted to "turn back concerns" that he won't sign the bill, there's an easy way to do it! He could say he'll sign the bill. Or he could ... sign the bill! Not send out RNC Internet campaigner  Patrick Ruffini  armed with an ambiguous CNN clip. ... 12:55 P.M.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Closet Did It: Andrew Sullivan has sketched out  a three-point PC take on the Foley scandal. It's surprisingly coherent. I'm not buying it, for reasons I try to articulate here. ... 3:30 A.M.  link

Monday, October 9, 2006 [ Banks closed.]

"We expect ... " I telephoned the White House press office to ask if the President was going to sign the Secure Fence Act. Here's the response I got back from White House spokesman David Almacy:

"We expect the President to sign the bill but the last information we had was that we have not received the bill from Congress." 

Does that sound definitive to you? I didn't think so. It doesn't to me either. "Expect" is a word that traditionally leaves a lot of wiggle room. Expectations change.  ... Why can't they say: "The President will sign the Secure Fence Act"? There's a trick to talking to a paranoid they don't seem to have mastered! ... It's not as if Bush needs to build suspense for a cliffhanger signing ceremony. This isn't Sweeps Week. He needs to reassure the conservative pro-fence base. Which makes the White House failure to close the door on a veto all the more suspicious. ... P.S.: I'd say the weak response from the White House itself outweighs the earlier response from Patrick Ruffini of the RNC, which contains the magic sentence but appears to be relying on the ambiguous, weasely Bush CNN interview. But you make the call. ... P.P.S.: It seems clear, though, that the 10-day pocket veto clock hasn't started ticking yet. ... P.P.P.S.: See Captain Ed, who's convinced Bush is going to sign. ...    

Update: I realize I'm using the same methodology--'Why don't they just come out and say it clearly?'--that many experts used to conclude that Saddam had nuclear weapons. But Saddam had reasons for maintaining strategic ambiguity! Bush doesn't. ...  5:28 P.M. link

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Is Bush going to sign the 700-mile border fence bill (the Secure Fence Act), passed with great fanfare  by Congress a little over a week ago? According to an AP story from Friday:

President Bush has not yet signed the Secure Fence Act

That signing ceremony he held last Wednesday in Arizona, it turns out, was only for a Homeland Security appropriations bill that included "$1.2 billion for border fencing." It wasn't the Secure Fence Act.

We're approaching pocket veto territory here, aren't we? Under the Constitution Bush has 10 days to sign the bill into law--a deadline that would seem to be rapidly approaching.** ... [Thanks to reader M.M.]

P.S.: If I were paranoid, I would notice that even though WaPo and other MSM outlets have reported that Bush "has indicated that he will sign" the bill, he hasn't really. His alleged promise to sign took place on CNN, and he obsessively restricted his answer to the appropriations bill (which he's signed) not the Secure Fence Act. Here's the full answer:

BLITZER: The House has passed legislation that would support building a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. Senator Frist told me yesterday that he's going to put that now before the Senate. Even though it's not part of what you want, comprehensive immigration reform.If the Senate passes what the House has passed, will you sign it into law?

BUSH: It's a part of strengthening the border. And we're in the process now of spending the money that they appropriated last session to modernize the border. And one reason -- the guy's question -- Ray's question was, "Why is it taking so long." It's a long border. It takes -- it takes a lot of manpower and new equipment to enforce that border. And Ray needs to know things are changing quite dramatically.

BLITZER: So, will you sign it into law?

BUSH: One thing that has changed is catch and release. Prior to the expenditure of the money that these guys -- the Senate and the House have appropriated, we would catch somebody trying to sneak in and just release them back into society. That's been ended.And so a lot of reform has taken place.You know, yes, I'll sign it into law. They're appropriating money -- I believe that's what you're talking about -- and it's part of the appropriations process, if I'm not mistaken.

BLITZER: Put another way, is it just a narrow focus on border security? Without the --without the guest worker program or the other issues, you'll just take that for now?

BUSH: Well I just -- that's what I did last time when I signed the appropriations process. [E.A.]

A pro-fence paranoid might also note that Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a major fence advocate, on his "victory tour", suggested that the appropriations bill--not the actual fence bill--was enough:

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and primary author of the House's immigration-enforcement bill, said that by getting the president to sign a funding bill that included a down payment on the border fence and other enforcement measures, the House position on enforcement first has prevailed.

P.P.S.: Yes, I find it hard to believe that Bush would double-cross the pro-fence Republican base like that, a month before an election. I hope somebody sends me an e-mail soon to say I'm wrong. But you can't read the above passages without thinking the White House was at least trying to create the option of a pocket veto, hidden under the diversion of an appropriations-bill signing ...

Update--Mo' 'Noia: Here's Speaker Hastert, in the middle of his Thursday Foley press conference:

And, you know, a lot of people wanted us to address the issue about the border, and we did exactly that. And, you know, last Friday, we culminated in appropriations, it did fix the border. So, you know, we have a good story to tell. [E.A.]

So Hastert, too, is telling us that Congress' border effort "culminated" in the "appropriations" bill Bush signed. Why didn't it culminate in the Secure Fence Act that's awaiting his signature? This is getting creepy! Why is nearly every top Republican (Bush, Hastert, Sensenbrenner) suddenly babbling about "appropriations," using the same weasely, Clintonian syntax? It would be crazy not to be paranoid. ... 

**--Update: Not Ticking? Influence Peddler and several emailers suggest the bill hasn't been formally "presented" to the White House, meaning the 10-day veto clock hasn't started ticking yet. That doesn't resolve the issue of whether Bush will sign it, of course, given the evidence of coordinated weasling and misdirection above. ... 1:13 A.M. link

Friday, October 6, 2006

Immigration is big! It's the fence  that got smaller!  WaPo has some details of the backroom loophole-deals designed to let the Bush Administration weasel out of building the full 700 mile border fence. So was the fence bill all Kabuki? Did Frist flake after all? I'll stick with the prediction in the presciently paranoid post  from last Friday:

P.P.S.: After the GOPs make a fuss about the fence during the midterm campaigns, voters may reasonably expect that it will actually be built--despite whatever hidden hopes or promises lurk beneath the surface of yesterday's vote.

There was a last-minute backroom deal that potentially watered down the 1996 welfare reform bill too--but in the end it didn't have that much effect. (See Haskins, Work over Welfare, 317-324) ... P.S.: If I were a Democrat, I'd publicize these loopholes, though, to demoralize the GOP base--in case they're not demoralized enough at the moment. ... 3:45 P.M. link

MyDD's Chris Bowersis skeptical of the theory that there is a Secret Dem ("Afraid to say I'm Voting Blue") Block, revealed in the difference between what voters are willing to tell human polltakers vs. what they tell automated robo-pollers. The suggestive difference in the two polling methods only shows up in Missouri, MyDD argues... And in Montana ... And in Ohio ... And in Tennessee. It doesn't hold in Virginia or Arizona. ... As Hotline's Blogometer puts it, "Four Out of Six Ain't Bad." ... P.S.: There's also a perfectly good reason--that is, a reason consistent with the theory--for why the differential would have disappeared in the most recent Tennessee polls: It's now less embarrassing to say you're for Ford! ... Similarly, in Virginia, where there used to be a differential, it became less embarrassing to say you were for Webb, causing the differential to disappear--and then it became positively embarrassing to say you were for Allen, causing the differential in the robo-poll to flip and show a secret Allen (GOP) vote. ... P.P.S.: Rasmussen's robo-poll in Connecticut has also repeatedly showed a more pro-Dem result, or more precisely a more pro-Lamont result, suggesting that voters may be embarrassed to tell actual humans they're voting against Lieberman. This effect, too, has dissipated, Mystery Pollster notes. .... But the Secret Dem theory doesn't pretend to apply to blue-on-blue Connecticut--it only applies to Red States, or states with large Red areas, places where it could be socially awkward to publicly declare that you're a Democrat. ... [No cheap MyDD astrology shots?-ed That would be so small.] 3:21 A.M.

Excitable CW Calming Down? Wall Street Journal on Tim Mahoney, the Democratic candidate for Foley's House seat:

Mr. Mahoney has gone from long shot to strong contender because of Mr. Foley's resignation after news reports that he sent sexually explicit communications to teenagers who were House pages. ... [snip]

Still, strategists from both parties say Mr. Mahoney stands a better than even chance of winning the race, a sharp shift in electoral fortunes that is contributing to Democrats' optimism about taking the House next month. [E.A.]

Wait. Weren't we told  a Dem victory in Foley's district was a sure thing--"no question" (McIntyre). "Democrats are 1/15th of the way there. I can't see how they could lose," (Halperin, at 28.10). Now Mahoney's only a "strong contender" with a "better than even chance"? At this rate, by November he'll be "favored to run a strong second." ... 1:04 A.M. link

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Iraq the Morose: One of my tacit mental rubrics for thinking about Iraq has been, "When Iraq the Model gives up, I'll give up." I heard two of the ITM bloggers when they came through L.A. and was impressed with their sincerity, bravery, and sense. I figure they won't throw in the towel until all hope is gone. And they haven't thrown in the towel! But Mohammed of ITM has entered recrimination mode, ultimately producing a recommendation for action that does not encourage hope. (He outlines what his fellow Iraqis did wrong here and what the Americans did wrong here.)

According to Mohammed, the American mistake was--to be blunt--buying into the Flypaper strategy.

[I]nstead of chasing terrorists, America stopped at Iraq and sat waiting for terrorists to come in.

He doesn't argue for more troops:

Keeping a large number of troops in Iraq and hoping they could root out terrorists can only be described as a bad plan. It really wouldn't matter much if we had 50 thousand in stead of 150 thousand troops in Iraq ... [snip] If we look back at the record of the war since April 2003 we'll see that adding more troops on the ground resulted only in making the enemy call for more reinforcements and the war kept getting more violent.

Instead of leaving America's "warplanes, tanks and big organized units" in Iraq, he says, those troops should fulfill their near-Aristotelian function of going after the foreign governments who are providing "money, training, technology and in some cases men" to Iraq's "insurgents, terrorists and militias." Meanwhile, the task of actually defending against the latter forces should fall to

"smaller, more agile units backed by strong intelligence-gathering capabilities."

In short

[T]his war will not see an end unless America revives the preemptive war strategy and start chasing the enemies and striking their bases in the region, especially in Syria and Iran.

Yikes. Responding to Mohammed doesn't require any specialized knowledge of the region: a) He could be right! But if he is that means the war will not see an end, because it seems obvious the U.S. doesn't have the stomach, troop strength, or international standing to pursue his offensive strategy, quite apart from the question of whether that breathtaking campaign would be justified. ... b) Nor is it clear the Iraqi insurgents, terrorists and militias couldn't sustain themselves without international help even if all such aid were ended today. ... c) Mohammed thinks the Ahmadinejad government in Iran will "fall apart and surrender in the same manner that we saw in Iraq, and few will volunteer to stop" it from falling. Huh? Ahmadinejad was elected. That implies at least some significant level of popular support. ... d) Finally, do we have the "smaller, more agile units" Mohammed recommends? I don't think so. ... Aside from that it all makes sense. [Emphasis added throughout] 9:32 P.M. link

If Harold Ford is elected to the Senate from Tennessee, will he get the same adulation Barack Obama--and now Deval Patrick--are receiving from "starry-eyed Democrats" and MSM types? ... kf prediction: No. Why? Ford is too ostentatiously centrist and idiosyncratic.  He doesn't activate The Dream. ... P.S.: But no doubt Ford and Obama will revel unselfishly in each other's success! ... 12:08 P.M.

Dean's Revenge: What does DNC chair Howard Dean think of the Iowa cacuses?

[In 2004 ] Kerry basically won in Iowa and was done. And poor John Edwards lost by 3 points and he won one primary, and Wes Clark won one, and I won one, and that was it. That was it. He won everything else; he just swept the table in the face of one 3-point victory. That won't happen again.

He's fighting the last war, but it's a good war to fight. ... P.S.: At least he's not bitter about it! ... 11:28 A.M.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Not-So-Secretly Blue:The Majority Watch robo-poll of contested House races now shows a likely Dem House majority. ... They've added a scorecard at the top, which gives a better idea of why I think this project is so useful. Even if the GOPs win all the "weak R" seats and the tie seats, they'd still lose their majority. They have to win some "weak D" seats, according to Majority Watch ... P.S.: But MP cautions

Majority Watch surveys use an automated methodology so new that even its creators describe it as a "work in progress."

OK. But even if it doesn't work perfectly this election, isn't this the wave of the future? In a 50-50 nation, we demand a poll that measures all the hot House races and comes up with a total. Even if all House races were contested, it should be possible to keep track of all 435. We have computers now! ... P.P.S.: One advantage of a robo-poll, of course, is that it counts more of any Secretly Blue vote--red state voters who may be embarrassed to tell a live human polltaker they're voting Democratic. ... 3:10 P.M.

Secretly Blue: Michael Barone has noticed that Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate  Harold Ford does better in robopolls, which use a recorded voice to ask questions, than in regular polls where respondents talk to an actual person. This,  Instapundit speculates, gives the lie to the idea that voters 

are telling pollsters they'll support Ford over [his GOP opponent Bob] Corker in order not to sound racist but [will] vote for Corker in the privacy of the ballot box. [E.A.]

A robopoll, Instap. notes, is supposed to minimize this Political Correctness Error because fewer people will embarrassed in front of a machine. A machine isn't going to call them "racist."

But then why the difference in the polls? Maybe a new and different kind of PC error is at work--call it Red State Solidarity Error. Voters in Tennessee don't want to admit in front of their conservative, patriotic fellow citizens that they've lost confidence in Bush and the GOPs in the middle of a war on terror and that they're going to vote for the black Democrat. They're embarrassed to tell it to a human pollster. But talking to a robot--or voting by secret ballot--is a different story. A machine isn't going to call them "weak." ...

If Red State Solidarity Error exists, it means Dems might do a bit better than the non-robo polls indicate--not just in Tennessee, but in other states where the dominant culture is proudly conservative. ... 

Update:Mystery Pollster has been all over the Tennessee polls. He cautions that the differences in the surveys aren't large and my be the product of other methodological differences between the two main polls involved, Rasmussen (robo) and Mason-Dixon (regular). MP also notes, though, that in Virginia's Senate race:

[t]he pattern of automated surveys showing a slightly more favorable result for the Democrats was similar from July to early September, but the pattern has disappeared over the last few weeks as the surveys have converged. [E.A.]

One of MP's commenters names the pattern the "afraid to say I'm voting blue" effect. ... 1:42 P.M. link

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

"I've given my wor[d] that's what I intend to do. I am going to caucus with the Democrats."

Could be improved by dropping the "intend"--he's maintaining some Saddam-like strategic ambiguity! But this promise would still be fairly difficult to weasel out of, I should think. ...

**--The text, from a NYT blog, says "world," which I assume is a typo. If not, it's redolent with meaning.  ... 2:40 P.M.

It Will All Blow Over By Thanksgiving: The Feiler Faster Thesis  is the Republicans' friend at this point. Mark Cofffey has an illustrative example.  ... P.S.: There's also the Densepack Theory--the anti-GOP media have launched so many damaging GOP stories--see Josh Marshall's list-- that they are all arriving at once and, like fratricidal incoming ICBMs, are knocking each other out of the news rather than destroying their target! ...  11:29 A.M. link

Monday, October 2, 2006

Not So Fast! Are we sure Rep. Foley's Florida seat is lost to the GOPs? One thing pundits seem to agree on is that "there is no question [the Foley scandal] has cost them at least one House seat," in the words of RCP's John McIntyre. That would be Foley's seat. Only 14 to go for the Dems, it would seem. But Majority Watch has already taken a post-resignation poll in Foley's district --on Sunday, Oct 1. (Click on the middle of the three glowing dots in Florida.) The result is:

Mahoney (D)--50%

Foley (R) -- 43%

True, Sunday was maybe a bit early for the anti-Foley voter reaction to have peaked. On the other hand, the GOPs have a whole month for Republican voters to drift back home, especially when they are told that a vote for "Foley" is in fact a vote for a new GOP candidate, Joe Negron. (And how could they not be paying attention to that question now?) ... Actually, Majority Watch did a second poll,--but this time told voters that "[v]otes for Foley will count as votes for a new Republican nominee to be determined next week"--and the result was

Mahoney (D)--49%

Foley (R)--46%

Seems like a margin that can be made up in a district that, per Majority Watch, is 47-32 Republican, no? ...  6:06 P.M. link

CW = Contrarianism + Time: Let the record show that while analyst Charlie Cook may have backtracked from his rash "this cake is baked" prediction, according to the WSJ's "Washington Wire" his Cook Report colleague, Amy Walter, is still pushing the 1994 model, the idea that the GOP's 2006 problem is, in the WSJ's words, "comparable with the Democrats' predicament before 1994 defeat." ... She could be right! ... Meanwhile, ABC's Mark Halperin tells George Stephanopoulos [ at 36:54 ]:

People who think the Democrats have a better chance of taking the Senate than the House have too much time on their hands to make up theories. [E.A.]

Are  Chuck Todd and John McIntyre  going to take that lying down? ...  12:49 A.M.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Cache it now: Web site of the day. 12:57 P.M.

Foley and the Best Boys: Clarice Feldman, a conservative, tries to find Democratic misbehavior in the outing of Rep. Foley and fails, as far as I can see. So what if a Soros-backed "watchdog" group coordinated the publicizing of the initial, not-that-damaging-but-suggestive email between Rep. Foley and a page? That's allowed. You're even allowed to wait until it's too late for the GOPs to take Foley off the ballot. The gambit only worked because Foley was guilty. ...

From Feldman's timeline, it also looks as if the St. Petersburg Times is innocent of the suggestion, made by RealClearPolitics, that it sat on the story until closer to the election. (See follow-up here.) The first emails that the SPT had ("send me a pic of you") were simply less damning, by several orders of magnitude, than the later instant messages* that came out just last week ("get a ruler and measure it for me"). The paper seems to have made a plausible judgment not to publish, though maybe it shouldn't win any investigative awards.

It's slightly less unfair to blame the House Republican leadership--sure, the evidence in the first emails wasn't much. But did they really have no idea what Foley was up to? Don't these rumors get around the Hill pretty quickly?** It's not like Foley was co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Chil .... oh wait. Someone could maybe have called Foley in and given him the third degree--e.g. about what other emails might be out there. Hastert's aides could have asked  Foley to permit a search of his computer. Maybe there were alternative methods of interrogation, or other ways to check out his story. Where's Patricia Dunn when you need her?

But that's a judgment call, and the GOP leadership screw-up is a lot clearer in retrospect.

The only clearly guilty party, as far as I can see--aside from Foley--is the New York Times, which hyped the anti-Hastert angle by conflating the earlier, suggestive emails and the later damning ones. Here's the  Carl Hulse/Raymond Hernandez Times lede:

Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children's issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.

All hands on deck at the NYT.There's an election coming up!...

**--Newsweek has some evidence that the pages, at least, were gossiping about Foley. ... Update: According to ABC's The Blotter, a former page, Matthew Loradtich, says pages were "warned about Foley" in 2001. But it's not clear just what they were warned about-- the NYT reports  that "Mr. Loraditch said he was never warned by program supervisors to stay away from him," but he was told Foley was "odd." ... More:JustOneMinute follows up and concludes ABC's story was an exaggeration.   Loraditch now says (on Facebook!)  "While I may have inadvertently used the word, 'warned,' in communication, I can assure you it was not intended."

*--Text corrected. The second set of messages consisted of IMs, not e-mails. 12:27 P.M. link

Saturday, September 30, 2006

New West Notes' Bill Bradley:

** That big Democratic wave predicted across America and through California? Not happening here. Most of the statewide Democratic candidates are in trouble.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a giant 17-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides, in the upcoming LAT poll. This comes after Angelides ran lots of TV ads linking Schwarzenegger to President Bush and the Iraq War. ... 3:30 P.M.

Eric Alterman clarifies his paranoia  about the mighty Rove Attack Machine:

In thinking about it, the "flip-flop" argument works against senators but not governors, because it's so easy to misportray parliamentary votes as something they are not. So Obama should run now before he's got a bunch of votes to misportray. That's why it was harder to Clinton and would be harder to do to [Ed] Rendell (and maybe Mark Warner).

Response: a) Just because in 2004 Rove destroyed one of the epic, legendary flip-floppers and straddlers of our political era doesn't mean he can destroy anyone; b) Obama would be less susceptible to the flip-flop charge if he stopped flip-flopping (for example, his vote against the border fence before he was for it). ... 3:10 P.M.

Read this RCP interview with John McCain and tell me if he's saying what I suspect he's saying--that he's ready to put off the semi-amnesty part of his "comprehensive" reform for a couple of years, until after the fence and other border measures are in place--and, conveniently, until after he's run for President in the amnesty-unfriendly Republican primaries. .. 3:16 A.M.

The Bitter  Price of Cocooning!

NYT, Sept. 5: "G.O.P. Sets Aside Work on Immigration."

NYT, Sept. 30, "Senate Passes Bill on Building Border Fence."

Readers who wanted to know what was actually happening would have been much better off reading Captain Ed.

P.S.: Hillary did the traditional, sleazy Kabuki Straddle: On the final passage of the fence bill--the for-show vote-- she voted "Yes." But on the cloture motion--the one that really determined the fate of the bill--she voted "No." Will anyone be fooled? ... Update:Obama straddled too, notes the Wash Times [via Powerline]. He's a breath of fresh air, isn't he?

P.P.S.: After the GOPs make a fuss about the fence during the midterm campaigns, voters may reasonably expect that it will actually be built--despite whatever hidden hopes or promises lurk beneath the surface of yesterday's vote.

P.P.P.S.: Anti-fence Democrats should maybe be careful about the arguments they make. Here's Sen. Durbin:

"You don't have to be a law enforcement or engineering expert to know that a 700-mile fence on a 2,000-mile border makes no sense."

I've heard that argument elsewhere! ...

P.P.P.P.S: If Bush and Rove were this out of touch with public sentimentin the United States, are we surprised that they weren't exactly on top of public sentiment in Iraq?  ...

Note to The Note: Don't pay any attention to this fence business. It will have no effect on the election. There's no parallel at all with, say, welfare reform--that was an issue ignored by the elite media for years, except for respectably compassionate think-tanky bipartisan "reform" proposals** that it turned out actual voters not only disagreed with, but cared intensely about, and despite being dismissed as simplistic racists were right about! This is nothing like that! This is just ... what's that WaPo said? "Busywork." We really want to know more about The Way to Win!

**--Nixon's Family Assistance Plan, a bipartisan guaranteed-income scheme that almost passed. ... The same way Bush's bipartisan semi-amnesty scheme almost passed! 1:47 P.M. link

All Hands On Deck! Tom Maguire notes the way Time's Michael Duffy described that Presidential Daily Briefing:

Sen. Clinton said her husband would not have sat on his hands if he had seen, as Bush did, an intelligence estimate in August 2001 suggesting that bin Laden might try to run some jetliners into skyscrapers. [E.A.]

This isn't misleading, like the New York Times' description ("intent on striking the United States using hijacked planes"). It's just false. Again, here's the briefing in question. It talks about hijackings, but in the traditional ransom context. It says nothing about running jetliners into skyscrapers. ... 1:30 A.M.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A key point in the immigration debate--the basic engine of the reaction against the McCain-Bush effort to grant semi-amnesty to illegals--is the argument that amnesty today will encourage more illegal immigration (in the hope of another amnesty) tomorrow. This was certainly what seemed to happen after the Simpson-Mazzoli amnesty of 1986. But readers have rightly challenged me to find more evidence to back up this central argument. Here's some: City Journal's Heather Mac Donald notes that in Europe Spain's amnesty--and France's--seem to have been followed by explosions of illegal migration. ... 5:24 P.M. link

Only call during business hours. There's a war on! No doubt many of Woodward's anti-Bush scoops are damaging, maybe even "devastating," as Slate's John Dickerson concludes.  But I don't understand why it is scandalous for Vice President Cheney to have his

aides to call the chief weapons inspector in the middle of the night with coordinates for a site in Syria that might have those elusive weapons.

Isn't that an example of ... you know, Cheney doing his job? We were trying to find any possible evidence of WMDs, right? If Bill Clinton, while President, had what he thought was a good tip in a similar situation, would he hesitate call a subordinate in the field, or tell his aides to call? I  think he'd call. Even in the middle of the night! And he'd be right to do so.  ... P.S.: Isn't it almost always the "middle of the night" in either Iraq or the U.S.? ...  5:00 P.M. link

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fencewatch Final Act?  The Senate has invoked cloture on the Secure Fence Act, 71-28. Senator Frist, brimming with feck, says that what the MSM told us for a year would never happen--passage of a non-comprehensive immigration bill that Senator McCain must hate**--will happen within hours.

Tomorrow the Senate will pass this legislation and send it to the President's desk for his signature.

Take that, Dick Morris!  ... P.S.-Failure to Triangulate: Hillary voted No  (as did Cantwell and Menendez). ... Update: The LAT sees a potential last-minute snag. ... The NYT  and a Frist aide say the vote could slide to Saturday. ...

**--McCain voted Yes, in what would seem to be a strategic retreat. It's true, as Friedersdorf argues, that a successful fence could establish conditions favorable to a McCain-like semi-amnesty. But not for a few years, I should think. ... 6:17 P.M. link

Good fences make liberals: Historically, fences work, according to UPI's Martin Sieff.

 It is certainly the case that in the long run of decades, generations and centuries, eventually long walls or border fences usually do come tumbling down. But they usually work very well indeed for a very long time first.

Many of his examples are recent (Israel, India). ... P.S.: Conor Friedersdorf makes the liberal case for a border wall--and not the traditional immigrants-lower-wages case either ... 4:15 P.M.

Bonding without bending? Note that even in Hillary's recent "unusually blunt" attack on the Bush administration, she did not criticize Bush for invading Iraq. Nor did she call for any kind of withdrawal or "redployment." She said

The administration has lost focus on winning the war on Iraq** ... [emph.added]

This suggests her vaunted spouse-led bonding with the netroots left may be less than complete. (Eric Alterman, for one, isn't satisfied.) ...

**--Not even the "war in Iraq," but the "war on Iraq"! Is this Hillary's subconscious anti-imperialist coming out? I assume she just misspoke.. ...3:27 P.M.

Demovloguery: Aside from one breathtaking assertion--"We didn't learn very much after the war that we didn't know before the war"--Eric Alterman was kind of shockingly good on bloggingheads.tv, I thought. ... He sketched a highly plausible account  of what's going to happen in the Dem presidential primaries (assuming Gore stays out) ... He explained why the Mearsheimer-Walt attack on the Israel Lobby is oversimplified, and even said a few kind words about Paul Wolfowitz! ... He said Tom Edsall had convinced him of the political importance of welfare reform. ... And he met expectations in his unyielding denunciation of TNR's Marty Peretz! ... Like many on the left, however, he seems way too spooked about the mighty Karl Rove Attack Machine, and the need to nominate a candidate (like Obama) who may be less vulnerable to attack because he has no record--and may also be unqualified for the Presidency because he has no record. In retrospect, it didn't really take a mighty attack machine to bring down John Kerry, did it? ...

'Intent on striking' ...: Here's the second paragraph from Raymond Hernandez' Wednesday NYT story on Hillary:

In unusually blunt terms, Senator Clinton questioned the current administration's response to an intelligence briefing President Bush received about a month before the 9/11 attacks. It mentioned that Al Qaeda was intent on striking the United States using hijacked planes. [emph. added]

Doesn't that sound as if the presidential briefing had warned Bush that Al Qaeda would use planes as weapons? It does to me. But here's the briefing itself, which mentions "hijackings' but only in the traditonal context--i.e. taking over a plane "to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar' Abd-al-Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists." An old controversy, I know--but that's why it's so astonishing to find this casual, loaded distortion in the lede of an important story. Hernandez--or whatever anonymous Times editor decided to goose up his second graf--had to have known that the sentence was deceptive, no? Or if they didn't know they didn't care. ... We're a month away from an election! They're manning the battle stations at the NYT. ... 1:38 P.M.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fence fever: Maybe big, ugly border fences are just the logical consequence of an increased terrorist threat, no? The Saudis are planning a long one. ...  10:46 P.M.

Post hack ergo propter hack! kf Wednesday .... NYT Thursday ... Time to rethink! ... Update:  Full NYT article--"New Hope for Democrats in Bid for Senate." ... Countercountertrend already spotted. ... P.S.: Don't forget  the not-completely convincing Cost's Corrollary: If the Senate's the easier chamber to flip, and the Dems can't flip it, are they really going to flip the House? ... 5:56 P.M.

Dems to Lose House--and Win Senate? Up to now the Conventional Wisdom (CW) has been that the Dems have a good chance to retake the House but will have a much harder time picking up the six seats necessary to take over the Senate. Is it possible this is backwards--that the Dems actually have a better chance of taking the Senate than the House?

Look, for example, at Slate's Election Scorecard. It's quite easy to imagine Dems taking three of the four "tossup" seats (Missouri, Rhode Island, Tennessee) in a mild wave. Then if they either hold New Jersey or take Virginia, they've won control. Picking up 15 seats in the House, on the other hand, looks much tougher than it did a month or two ago.

John McIntyre is one of the first to draw the seemingly perverse conclusion:

The Democrats' odds of capturing the Senate have actually improved the last two months at the same time their national numbers vis-à-vis the Republicans have declined.

The better analogy politically for 2006 may be 1986 when the Democrats picked up 8 Senate seats and only 5 House seats. [snip] ... Democrats might be headed for better success in the Senate than the House.

Why would that be? How could the "out" party have a greater chance of gaining 6 out of 100 senators than a mere 15 out of 435 representatives? There are at least three obvious possible reasons: 1) Gerrymandering: GOPs have taken advantage of their greater ability to draw House district lines to protect their incumbents against a Democratic "wave." But, as McIntyre notes, you can't gerrymander a Senate district. Incumbents have to run statewide. 2) Altitude: Local issues may have more purchase the closer you are to the local level--i.e. in House contests. Senators are way up there where the national winds blow. This year, the national winds favor Dems, while the GOPs are hoping for a "local" election. 3) Demons: It's easier for Republicans to run against San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi (and Conyers and Rangel, et. al) than against Harry Reid. ...

Prediction: CW within the week!

Backfill: Chuck Todd of Hotline made this argument back in May. [$] He was right too soon! Or, rather--since he could still turn out to be wrong--he had tomorrow's CW yesterday! He pointed out (citing a piece by Jay Cost) that historically the House hasn't flipped parties without the Senate also flipping. But the Senate often flips without the House flipping. One reason Todd gives: Close Senate races have a habit of all breaking the same way in the final days.

It's easier for a Senate race to be nationalized. The media coverage of Senate races increases every cycle, but the same can't be said for House races. Media polls are done constantly for statewide races, creating the aura of competition and feeding the notion that the "message" a voter wants to send should be sent at the top of the ticket.

It's easier to localize a House race. While we're not one to argue that somehow the environment is going to be completely localized on the House level, at the very least it is easier to insert a local issue into a House race debate. ...

Bottom line: if you asked us to place a $100 wager on the house of Congress we believe would flip first, we'd not only place our money on the Senate, we'd probably ask if we could increase the amount of the

Tell it to Charlie Cook! ...Update: Or to the Iowa Electronic Market, where the current CW--that the House is likelier to flip--is reflected in this chart. (The "GOP House/Dem Senate" possibility is the green line at the very bottom.) [Tks. to reader J.H.] ... 1:56 A.M. link

Fencewatch update: MSNBC's Tom Curry suggests that the sandwiching of the fence vote with the detainee vote, reported by AP yesterday, is not a done deal.

Another option that the Senate GOP leadership was considering late Monday: attach the detainee legislation to a bill the Senate is debating that would authorize building of a 700-mile fence on the Mexican border.

For Democratic candidates in close races, it might be difficult to say "no" to a combination of a border fence and a detainee bill. [E.A.]

On the other hand, combining the bills lets Dems who vote "no" pick which part of the sandwich to object to. Why give them that out? I guess the answer is that if the GOPs felel that their party has the bigger megaphone (i.e. more money for ads), then their "Senator X voted against a border fence" ad would outweigh Senator X's "No, I was just voting against the detainee bill" ad. Since Senator X would probably have "free" media (i.e., MSM) on his side, though, I still don't see why it isn't the better GOP strategy to put him on the spot on each issue separately. ...12:09 A.M.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Iconic CW Lurch on the midterms:

1) Old CW: It looks really bad for the Republicans.

2) New CW: The cake isn't baked! GOPs are closing the gap!

3) Newest CW: It looks really bad for the Republicans.

See especially analysis-against-interest from Jay Cost  and John McIntyre  at the conservative RealClearPolitics.  Cost even raises the spectre of GOP cocooning. [Does this mean that the people who said (1) all along were right?--ed Of course not. How can you even suggest that? That would spoil the fun.] 11:27 P.M.

WaPo's Chris Cillizza and Jim VandeHei visited Ohio's competitive 1st District and were surprised, they say, to discover that immigration is the hot issue, even though there isn't a "huge" illegal problem in the area. Why? VandeHei:

There's a big union presence. I think people are frustrated with their wages being low and they feel like part of that is because the illegal immgrants are working for lower wages.

Now I see why we're constantly being told that embracing semi-amnesty and basking in the gratitude of Latinos is the only long term Democratic strategy for victory.** All the Democrats risk giving up is the union vote! A minor Dem constituency. ... Well, a rapidly shrinking one, anyway. ... Same for the working class vote!

**--In fact, of course,  Democratic candidate John Cranley is fighting back, not by publicly embracing the enlightened McCain-Kennedy "path to citizenship," but by claiming that "he is the tough-guy when it comes to cracking down on illegal immmigration." He must not have read where Tamar Jacoby says that never works. 2:56 A.M.

"Is Bangle to Blame?" Discuss. The October Automobile admits that the sales of Chris Bangle's prized Z4 sports car--the one that was "as big a jump in terms of aesthetic value systems as there was between an Eve before the fall ... and an Eve after the fall"-- have "tailed off quickly after a robust first year (fewer than 20,000 cars were sold in 2005)." But you already  knew that would happen.  What's intriguing is that Automobile reports BMW's disappointment with the contrived Bilbao-wannabe design  in a way that suggests the anti-Bangle spin was approved, perhaps even purveyed, by BMW's representatives themselves. And if BMW is putting out the word that Bangle bombed, does that make you want to put down money he'll still have his BMW design job three years from now? Just speculating! [If he's pushed out, what will you do for easy automotive filler items?--ed. It will be tough. Maybe he'll start a blog.] ... Bonus Prediction: Once it's perceived as a design flop--once it loses its you're-just-too-dumb-to-appreciate-me arrogance, once there's no danger that it actually represents the future of the automobile --the Z4 will start to seem much better-looking. Appealingly quirky! I claim it's already happening. ...  2:29 A.M.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fence update: Majority Leader Frist has attached the detainee treatment bill to the border fence bill. Apparently his plan is for the Senate to do both contentious pieces of legislation in one swoop. Okey dokey ... 10:06 P.M.

If YouTube "isn't a cool medium," Bill Clinton's got nothing on Wafa Sultan. ... P.S.: Clip is from February. I mistakenly thought it was new. Still! All she needs is the "iconic lurch." . ... 9:47 P.M.

The 'Bad Timing' Con: ABC's The Note--

Will the Medicare prescription drug benefit (and the ill-timed doughnut hole press coverage) be a net plus or net minus for the Republicans?  ...

On "Good Morning America," ABC News' Jessica Yellin reported, "It is just terrible timing for the White House. Just as there are signs that the President's poll numbers are starting to rise, leaked portions of the classified report are turning the attention back to the key issue that has dragged down the President's Administration and his party, the war in Iraq." [E.A.]

Yes, it's such terrible bad luck that these anti-GOP stories and leaks just happened to surface a few weeks before an election!  ... [Are you saying the press shouldn't report this stuff?--ed No. WaPo's "doughnut" story  was excellent. I'm saying sophisticated political reporters covering the impact of these stories shouldn't pretend there's any luck or mystery to their timing, It's a disingenuous pose designed to heighten their impact.] 1:17 P.M.

Elvis Down: Chris Wallace did too ask a Bush aide (Rumsfeld) pointed questions about why Bush didn't go after bin Laden-- Patterico's got 'em. ...

P.S.: In the stimulating Wallace v. Clinton confrontation--which Clinton was winning before he plowed on into paranoia about Rupert Murdoch and Fox--Clinton spent a lot of time discussing Osama bin Laden and Somalia. Specifically, Clinton said:

"He wasn't involved in that, that's just a bunch of bull. That was about Mohamed Aideed, a Muslim warlord ...."

My impression--from Mark Bowden's book, Black Hawk Down--is that al Qaeda operatives had taught Somali warlord Aideed's men how to bring down U.S. helicopters with RPGs. (See, e.g., here.) Did Clinton misspeak, or does he really not know of this Al Qaeda connection? Or does he have information that Bowden's claim really is "bull"? Update: Bin Laden's Somalia role was included in a U.S. Justice Dept. indictment.  ... Clinton also said:

"We were all there on a humanitarian mission; we had no mission, none, to establish a certain kind of Somali government or keep anybody out ..."

That's a highly distorted summary of the Somalia mission, which started out humanitarian but later  devolved into a U.S.-supported U.N. decision to build a government and then to "marginalize" Aideed.

P.P.S.: Next time, Wallace should ask Clinton about Dubai. Seems like another promising sore spot! ...

Update II: Virginia Heffernan thinks Clinton's performance was perfectly geared for the new Webvid medium--

Clinton has somehow mastered the bright, short words and menacing, iconic lurches that work as bursts of flavor on YouTube.  [E.A.]

The three-minute version would definitely work better than the ten-minute version. ... See also Maguire. ... 9:27 A.M.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Frist Fence Flakeout? Has Sen. Frist given up on the border fence? It sure sounded that way on George Stephanopoulos' This Week. The Senate Majority Leader said a bill containing the proposed 700-mile barrier was "hopefully what we'll be voting on the floor of the Senate this week." But then, with a guilty, knowing grin,** he added: "Right now I got a feeling the Democrats may obstruct it."

The grin was the giveaway. It's easy to let the fence bill drop and blame Democrats. Wink, wink. But a forceful majority leader who actually wanted either a) a vote or b) a sharpened issue against the Dems wouldn't give up just like that. He'd call a press conference to demand that the Democrats allow a vote. Put a spotlight on the issue. Make Harry Reid come up with an equally well-publicized explanation for why the Democrats oppose this popular common-denominator measure. That would be hard for Reid to do without hurting Dem election chances, and he might not do it--resulting in a Democratic cave-in and a vote. And the fence Frist says he wants.

Why isn't Frist doing this? Is he as feckless as he seems? Makes a big deal of the border fence one day--drops it a few days later. Or did someone get to him--someone from the "pro-comprehensive" White House, perhaps, who doesn't want to pass the popular parts of reform this year for fear the unpopular semi-amnesty parts might not pass next year? Or maybe Sen. McCain, another GOP "comprehensive" champion, told him that if he went ahead with the fence, he'd never be McCain's running mate.  (At the moment, such a VP slot looks like Frist's main hope of a continued career in elective politics.)

Or maybe Frist was faking his support for a fence all along.

Phoniness, fecklessness, or a corrupt bargain? You make the call! I can't think of any other possibilities. Update: The New York Times reports

Because of reservations from Democrats and Republicans who favor the broader bill, Mr. Frist is having trouble rounding up enough votes for a showdown over the fence this week.

I'd tentatively file that under "fecklessness," especially given Frist's bravura last week. He could hold a press conference to shame Republicans as well as Dems into agreeing to a vote if he wanted to. (He might actually have more luck with the Dems--but their votes count too.) Plus, hasn't the Senate already agreed to cloture on the fence issue? Does Frist even need a supermajority?

**--The grin is at about 9:18 in this video. There's an ominous sigh too (when the fence question first comes up, at about 8:00). ...

More: An email from Stephen B. Smith:

As the Majority Leader's online communications coordinator, I can assure you that Senator Frist isn't "flaking out" and that he is committed to a cloture vote on the Secure Fence Act this week. 

In order to pass this legislation, a 60 vote supermajority in favor of cloture is needed.  And, unfortunately, we fear that Democrats may well attempt to obstruct the Secure Fence Act by denying it cloture.  If Democrats succeed in denying cloture to the legislation, then an up-or-down vote on the Secure Fence Act will be blocked, which is why Senator Frist said "hopefully what we'll be voting on the floor of the Senate this week."

As to your question "Plus, hasn't the Senate already agreed to cloture on the fence issue?", the answer is no.  Your link to Free Republic was for cloture on the motion to proceed to the legislation ... not cloture on the underlying legislation.

Thanks to Smith for the cloture clarification. But if Frist wants really cloture, it seems to me he has to campaign for it more publicly and vigorously. Many Democrats (and Republicans) will be happy to not vote on this issue, as long as their decision to not vote won't get a lot of attention. .. 

Hollow Kabuki or Deeply Meaningful Kabuki? Michelle Malkin is more skeptical of the fence bill  to begin with, calling it an "empty, election-season, unfunded ...gesture" and a "gimmick from Beltway Republicans who think they can appease pro-enforcement voters." She argues:

There are so many other immediate reforms that could have been adopted this year that would have strengthened immigration enforcement, closed deportation loopholes immediately, and provided true relief at the border.

I tend to think that, whether the GOP pols are cynical or sincere, the fence is way more than a gesture--and if it's a gesture, it will be a highly significant one, both in how it's interpreted south of the border (a sign of U.S. seriousness about immigration control) and by American politicians (a repudiation of the Bush-McCain attempt to find a consensus based on immediately offering legalization of existing illegals). Once the fence is approved, it might be difficult to stop--isn't that the way with pork barrel/public works projects? ... P.S.: And once part of the fence is built, won't the humanitarian incentive be to complete it across the entire border to prevent would-be immigrants from risking their lives in remote desert crossings? ... 8:49 P.M. link  

The lost pixel trail: As long as he's moving mountains in the publishing world--getting his new book  pulped and redone after a nightmarish printing snafu**--Andrew Sullivan may as well get to work on his archives. What's billed as the "complete archives" on his site goes back only to January of this year, as far as I can see. Where's the rest? How are we going to attack him for his embarrassing, excitable high-horse misjudgments if we can't go back and Control-C them?***... P.S.: True, that hasn't stopped Instapundit . ... Update: Or Frank Rich, apparently. Sullivan, answering Rich, says his blog posts on the immediate aftermath of the Iraq invasion are "unfindable, since my old archives are still being transferred to Time's server." How long does that take? ...

 **--A prize to the first reviewer who takes the obvious cheap shot. ("The pulped version was better!") ....

***--I wound up unpublishing a few years of blog archives when I moved to Slate, including some (involving 9/11 and Thanksgiving) that were highly convenient to lose. All the pre-Slate kausfiles archives that were ever on the Web are available at the bottom of this page. .. 8:35 P.M.

The L.A. party was unexpectedly good too!8:25 P.M.

'Stone Age' Mystery Solved? Hassan Abbas, a guest on Warren Olney's To the Point radio show** on Friday, claimed to have resolved the mystery of whether U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had in fact threatened to bomb Pakistan "to the Stone Age" in a meeting with Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, an aide to Pakistan's President Musharraf. According to Abbas, Armitage said the U.S. might bomb Afghanistan back to the Stone Age, not Pakistan. But Ahmed interpreted it as a veiled threat to bomb Pakistan too, and reported as much to Musharraf. ... Seems plausible enough, and it reconciles everyone's stories! Plus Abbas seemed to say he reported his version in his book, Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism, published well before Musharraf's recent newsmaking revelation. ...

**--Abbas' version is at about 28:50 here. ... 12:16 A.M. link  

Saturday, September 23, 2006

9/11 rescuers Chuck Sereika and Marine Staff Sgt. Dave Karnes, "appalled" at the inaccuracies in Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, are planning to write a book(along with another 9/11 hero, New York City firefighter Tommy Asher), according to Greg Robin's thorough report in Hometown News. They blame a "rift" with rescued Officer Will Jimeno, one of the central characters in the film-- as well as rivalry between the NYC Fire Dept. and the Port Authority police. 

"I figured that America deserves to know the truth about that day," Mr. Sereika said. "They certainly didn't get it from Oliver Stone."

See here for my takeand here for Rebecca Liss'. As noted, the producers of the film didn't alter reality to tell a better story. They altered it to tell a worse story! But a story that apparently pleased key constituencies. ... 12:50 A.M. link  

Friday, September 22, 2006

From reader J:

Who knew that the Times would go after you fence-firsters with pathos laden pictures of over-ripe pears. They play dirty.

They're mobilizing the foodies! All bets are off. 12:00 P.M.

Showdown Week on bhTV reaches a brutal climax with the long-awaited Plamegate Death Match between David Corn ( Hubris) and Byron York (National Review) ... 10:43 A.M.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Trying to Get Around the Wall: It's hard for immigration soft-liners to argue that tougher border measures--such as a fence-- won't work ** ('they'll dig tunnels') while simultaneously complaining about the labor shortage that's already resulted from the more limited border measures that have been tried. Obviously, they have some effect. ...

**--See also Thursday's WSJ editorial [$] :

Nor will a wall deter illegal workers, who are drawn here by the powerful magnetic pull of economic opportunity and plentiful jobs.

If they're undeterrable, why are they being deterred now? ... 11:41 P.M.

Bert Fields on Line 2: As part of its public responsibility to serve the community, kf brings you the nastiest line in Shafer's rundown of the billionaire wannabe owners  of the LAT:

[Tom] King captured [David] Geffen's dualistic nature in a 2000 comment to the Los Angeles Times: "On one hand, David repels people, and on the other hand, he draws them in." [Newspaper owners Mort] Zuckerman and [Wendy] McCaw, on the other hand, seem only to repel people.

There's more where that came from, including Shafer's conclusion about the "least bad candidate" for Times ownership. ... 9:01 P.M.

Pundit sidebet: Usually pro-"comprehensive" immigration types warn that anything less than a "path to legalization" will backfire on politicians in the long run, as the Latino vote grows. But "comprehensive" advocate Tamar Jacoby predicts the House GOP immigration hard line will be "fool's gold"  as an issue even in the short run--i.e., it won't work in this election cycle. RealClearPolitics' Tom Bevan thinks it's "more like a gold mine, at least in the short term." One of them's wrong, and we won't have to wait for the long run to find out which. ... 8:26 P.M.

"Assortative mating" at its most precise. 6:27 P.M.

Caution, Caterpillar at Work: You would think the NYT would have learned from repeat, bitter experience that playing up all the anti-GOP aspects of its polls often leads to bitter disappointment in November. You would be wrong. Master Cocooner Nagourney buries most of the anti-Dem caveats in "to-be-sure" grafs after the jump, instead leading with a conclusion--

The disdain for Congress is as intense as it has been since 1994

that is simply wrong, as pointed out in an anti-Nagourney post by Dean Barnett. Disdain for Congress was greater in 1996, according to the NYT's own charts. ... For a top-tier reporter, Nagourney's surprisingly weak in the deceptive-but-not-inaccurate ass-covering billboard hype-sentence-construction aspect of his job. .... I'd add that Nagourney flatly says "Bush had not improved his own or his party's standing through his intense campaign of speeches"--this before noting that a) the percentage of Americans who approve of his Iraq policy had increased (30 to 36%), and  b) the "number of people who called terrorism [a rare GOP-leaning issue] the most important issue facing the country doubled." Not a huge turnaround, but not "not improved" either. ... P.S.: Compare and contrast Brownstein's non-caterpillarian view of a more pro-GOP LAT poll. ... P.P.S.: Have I mentioned that if the NYT were the paper it thinks it is Brownstein would have Nagourney's job? ...Update: Maguire and McQ  also bust Nagourney. ...  3:23 P.M.

Cheap Shot O' the Day: The L.A. Times' Tim Rutten says that if his paper were "any leaner, it'd be skeletal." Judging from this evidence, it will take a lot to make Rutten skeletal. .. .

P.S.: I don't want to take the Tribune Company's side in the apocalyptic budget battle currently under way--various people I trust assure me the Tribune people are bad news. But in what other industry do you get to defend your comfortable job against a layoff by righteously claiming that you and your current budget play a "vital role" in "our individual communities and our society as a whole"--and have the MSM swallow it hook, line and sinker?  I still tend to think the L.A. community, at least, would be marginally better off if the Times disappeared overnight. New, cheaper and webbier forms of local coverage would emerge, without the Times' Chandlerian legacy of suffocating respectability. ...

P.P.S.: Do you really believe that if the Tribune Company refused to make job cuts, and instead invested in "long-term credibility," that the Tribune would ever see a return on that "long term" investment? I don't. It would be a nice thing for them to do--like investing millions in quality radio broadcasts--but Baquet defenders shouldn't pretend it would eventually pay off financially. ..

P.P.P.S.: And while Baquet is showing guts, it's silly for Howie Kurtz to write that he

is putting his career on the line, telling his corporate bosses at the Tribune Co. that he cannot abide deeper cutbacks in a newsroom ... [Emphasis added]

Baquet isn't putting his career on the line. He's done a good job as editor of a giant metropolitan paper, he's relatively young and he's black. He's one of the most employable journalists in the country! If he's perceived as being fired for a brave defense of quality journalism, he'll be one of the most employable people on the planet. He could easily end up as editor of the NYT, where he has lots of friends. He's not taking a career risk the way, say, WaPo's Len Downie would be taking a career risk if he put his job on the line. Kurtz knows this. ... 1:28 P.M.

Is the Pope Catholic? A debate. 2:55 A.M.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

El Cocoon: It wasn't just WaPo--which only yesterday declared that Congress was occupying itself with "busywork"--asleep at the switch on the  pending piecemeal, enforcement-oriented immigration reform:

The sudden rush of activity startled immigrant and civil rights groups, which had largely thought a legislative response on immigration was dead for the year. The National Immigration Law Center sent out an "urgent" notice to allies to prod them into action, noting: "In recent days, there has been a serious deterioration of the position of pro-immigrant forces in Congress."

And here I thought the "only a comprehensive bill can pass" line was just spin and bravado put out for press and public consumption by Bush allies and the Latino lobby.  It turns out they actually believed it! [Maybe the "urgent" notice is just more spin, a mock-alarm for fundraising purposes, etc.--ed  A 700-mile fence will help their fundraising too.] 8:43 P.M.

California doesn't do the 'wave': 53 seats. Zero races "competitive enough to merit a busy correspondent's attention." ... P.S.: But the WSJ's Jackie Calmes is wrong when she says

In effect, Democrats have all the seats they can possibly grab here.

If California's district lines had been drawn to create lots of competitive seats, Democrats could have grabbed those seats in a Democratic year like (supposedly) this one. But the Dems, led by Pelosi, chose safety over victory. ... It was a no-brainer! ... 2:28 A.M.

One day, ABC's Note will have to lower itself and actually mention the word "fence": Robo-poller Scott Rasmussen notes, "it will be quite interesting to watch how Senators in the most competitive races vote when [the border fence] legislation comes to the Senate floor." He suggests several Senators  who will be most tempted, if there's a vote, to buck the respectable ed boards  and do what voters seem to actually want--including Menendez (D-NJ) and Chafee (R-R.I). Shouldn't we add Cantwell (D-WA) and Clinton (D-NY) to the "hot seat" list? ... Update: Clinton voted for the shorter 370-mile fence in the Senate's "comprehensive" bill. In April, she told a N.Y. Daily News columnist, "A wall in certain areas would be appropriate."

P.S.: Unlike on torture, this is not an issue on which (presumably anti-fence) McCain will be able to give himself cover in the Republican presidential primaries by cutting a deal with President Bush. ...

P.P.S.:  The Senators most immediately put on the spot by the vote, though, are Democrats--pro-"comprehensive" types now confronted with the relative unpopularity of their party's position. Still, ABC's Liz Marlantes' account somehow manages to lead with a vaguely-spun Democratic "hope" that the vote creates a difficult "dynamic" for Republicans. ... Is that the Democrats' "hope" or Marlantes' editors' "hope"? (Marlantes eventually gets around --in Graf 12 of 15--to pointing out that the vote presents Democrats with "a difficult choice.") ...1:09 A.M. link


Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column ... [More tk]