The Universal Souljah

The Universal Souljah

The Universal Souljah

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 1 2006 7:49 PM

The Universal Souljah

Plus--Iraq blog mashup.

"Congrats to Donny Deutsch," who "impregnated his ex-girlfriend"! ... That's the sum and substance of a Page Six item in Rupert Murdoch's NY Post (under the headline "Expectant Dad"). ... And to think that Americans in the Heartland are suspicious of New York City values! ... P.S.: "'This was planned,' a pal of Deutsch claims. 'He wanted a kid. She wanted another kid. They said, "Let's do this."'" It's win-win! But somehow I don't think Myron Magnet and Kay Hymowitz  and Dr. Dobson will be sending fruit baskets. ... Note to Democratic candidates: Deutsch, an "advertising mogul" and CNBC host, would make a perfect Murphy Brown or Sister Souljah, no? He's rich and defenseless! ... Hillary doesn't need any more Souljahs, of course (she needs whatever the opposite is). But Barack Obama might. ... 3:10 P.M. link

On Beyond Baker: Steve Clemons agreesthe Saudis may intervene in Iraq if we withdraw, in order to protect the Sunnis and to counter Iran's influence. ... He also concludes this is not a bad thing, despite the risks. ... P.S.: Will they be fighting against Al Qaeda in Anbar or alongside them? ...  [via HuffPo] 12:17 A.M.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Back to the Ballot: Only "paper BALLOTS for every vote cast" will do, argues leftish  Brad Friedman--allying with  Instapundit but splitting with the New York Times and liberal Rep. Rush Holt, who support a fancy compromise called "voter-verified paper trails"--which apparently attempt to make a backup record of votes that are actually recorded on touch-screen machines. Friedman:

A so-called "voter-verified paper trail" on Sarasota's touch-screen systems would not have solved the problem [of 18,000 suspiciously non-existent votes] in Florida.  ... Paper trails, such as they are used with DRE/Touch-Screen systems do not work. Voters don't verify them, elections officials don't count them, they are not accurate, they can be gamed, they jam the printers which leads to voters being turned away without being able to vote...among just a few of the reasons.


The National Institute of Science and Technology is shifting Friedman's way, and he senses victory. ... [So we just abandon touch-screen machines like 8-track players?--ed More like BMW's fancy I-Drive, which lets you adjust the radio by calling up a computer screen. Impressive, but it's easier and safer to just turn a knob. You are sounding more and more like Bob Packwood's diary-ed Watch it.  Henneberger's hiring, you know.] 11:05 P.M.

The Hayden Scenario: Even '60s antiwar leader Tom Hayden is apparently opposed to a quick Murtha-like pullback, seeming to endorse a Sunni-Sadr anti-Malicki backroom alliance that would result in

an immediate public decision to embrace withdrawal within a political solution, perhaps requiring one or two years to carry out. [E.A.]

It looks as if the big difference between Hayden and James Baker is whether or not to have an explicit timetable. ...


P.S.: Two aspects of Hayden's sketchy scenario reek of possible wishful thinking:

1) That Sadr would support "restoration of Baathist professionals and military leaders in Sunni areas, ... the fair distribution of oil revenues, etc." and

2) that Al Qaeda's role would be diminished because "it is unlikely that a continuing jihad would be supported by many Iraqis if the occupiers were withdrawing and lights were turning on."

Wouldn't Sunnis want to keep Al Qaeda around--not to fight the withdrawing U.S. "occupiers," but to fight Shiite sectarians? The recent WaPo story on Anbar province suggests as much.  ...

The [Marine] report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across the capital.

True or not, the memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability. [E.A.]


Of course, there's also the point that if anyone can guarantee Sunni leaders freedom from Shiite attacks, you'd think it would be Sadr, precisely because his army is suspected of carrying out so many of those attacks. So I'm not saying we should dismiss the Hayden Scenario out of hand. ...

P.P.S.: For an account of what it's like living in Baghdad these days, I once again recommend Iraq the Model, specifically this post. It's clear the recent violence has been terrifying and demoralizing. It's also clear that things could still get much worse. ...  11:21 P.M.

Bring back Zarqawi? His successor is a much more effective leader, according to Bill Roggio. ... 1:50 A.M.

My 'Macaca': My attempt at a dramatic vlog reenactment of that Mark Warner rumor  turned out a lot more embarrassing than I'd planned. ... Should I ever seek the presidency, they can just play this clip and I'll drop out immediately. ... 1:19 A.M.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

10 of 11 Ain't Bad: According to the WSJ 's David Wessel  [$], here are the policies the incoming Dems are considering to reduce "the gap between winners and losers in the American economy."

1. Raise the minimum wage.

2. "[F]orce companies to provide more and clearer details of CEO pay, devise policies to recapture incentive pay if earnings are later restated, and require shareholder approval of 'golden parachute' payments to dismissed executives."

3. "[S]low the flood of imports and rethink the pacts that President Bush has been negotiating to lower trade barriers."

4. "[R]equire employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers sign cards asking for representation instead of secret-ballot votes."

5. "[L]et at least some of Mr. Bush's income-tax cuts expire in 2010 or roll them back--including "[ r]aising the top two tax rates, now 33% and 35%" and raising the top (15%) capital gains tax rate.

6. Enlarging the earned-income tax credit

7.  "[O]ffer eligible dislocated workers up to half the difference between weekly earnings at their old and new jobs, up to $10,000 a year"

8. "Allowing businesses with up to 100 employees tax credits to buy [health] insurance through a government-sponsored pool modeled on the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, which gives federal workers a choice of private health insurance plans"

9.  A "'universal 401(k)' to which employees, employers and, in some cases, the government would contribute, a cousin to the private accounts Mr. Bush wanted to carve out of Social Security.

10. "[D]oing more to help Americans pay for college, including making up to $12,000 a year in college tuition tax-deductible ... [snip] as well as cutting interest rates on student loans and increasing the maximum Pell Grant for low-income students to $5,100 from $4,050."

11. "[M]ore government support of Pre-K education." [Boldface added]

Does anything on this list seem like a big problem to you? It's surprisingly anodyne. Only one item stands out to me--#4, which could dramatically change the structure of the American economy for the worse, spreading unprodctive, legalistic, Detroit-style union practices (work rules, promotion by seniority, protections for lousy workers, etc.) by subjecting non-union workers to thuggish peer pressure. The others might do little harm, in moderation (#3) or some substantial good (#1, #8, #9). But does anyone think that any of these measures--individually or in concert--is going to reverse the growing gap between the economy's winners and losers? What will the Dems do if they pass their agenda and the public realizes the rich are still getting richer (as they apparently did in the Clinton years)--while the gap between "winners" and "losers" isn't shrinking? ...


P.S.: How does greater immigration by unskilled workers fit into the Dems' inequality-averse agenda? It doesn't, that's how. As Demo-pessimist Thomas Edsall, in today's NYT [$], notes: 

The strengthening of the Democrats' protectionist wing is virtually certain to force to the surface [an]internal conflict between the party's pro- and anti-immigration wings. This conflict among Democrats remained submerged while President Bush and the Republican House and Senate majorities fought without resolution over the same issue. [snip] ...

The Democratic Party made major gains in the Mountain West, he says, and many of these voters are ''populist with a lot of nativism,'' firmly opposed to the more liberal immigration policies of key party leaders.

A solid block of Democrats who won this month -- Jon Tester, James Webb, Sherrod Brown and Heath Shuler included -- is inclined to put the brakes on all cross-border activity (otherwise known as globalization): trade, outsourcing and the flow of human labor. Nolan McCarty of Princeton, writing with two colleagues, has provided some empirical data supporting the argument that immigration has led ''to policies that increase economic inequality.'' Significant numbers within the Democratic Party agree with this reasoning. 

Update: bhTV has posted a  video discussion of this subject, including a bottom line.. ... 9:27 P.M. link

Who's the journalist Michael Kinsley writes about this week--the one who turned into a solipsistic "ego monster" when he started a web site? William Beutler and Wonkettewant to know, or at least pretend to want to know. I'm not the accused, I'm pretty sure--the timing and various details are off.  Kinsley also writes that this journalist, pre-Web, was "a modest, soft-spoken and self-effacing fellow." So it's not Andrew Sullivan. Beats me. I'll try to find out after I move the laundry from the washer into the dryer. It's the light colors today.  5:01 P.M.


New House Intelligence Chair: Not Alcee Hastings. IP has a roundup. ... WaPo says  Reyes, Dicks and Bishop are in the running, and offers yet another reason for Pelosi's dislike of Jane Harman-- Harman's "tough management style ... helped drive Democratic staff away that Pelosi had appointed when she was the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee." ... "Tough management style" can mean a lot of things, no?  ... 4:49 P.M.

Sunday, November 27, 2006

"Analysts say" the failure of incoming Democrats to tackle immigration immediately "carries some risks  ... because restless voters may see the new Congress as having no more boldness or or problem-solving skills than the 'do-nothing Congress' denounced in many political ads this fall." But the Dems will be OK "provided something is done before the next election, these observers said," writes WaPo's Charles Babington. [Emphasis added.] Unfortunately no analysts or observers are quoted saying any of these things. ... Hey, I've got analysts too! Many analysts say that "analysts say" pieces are the laziest form of journalism, because the "analysts" usually just happen to say what the journalist himself would say if the rules of journalism permitted him to do so without putting the opinions in the mouths of "analysts." Meanwhile, analysts who might say something else get ignored. But at least "analysts say" pieces, analysts say, should quote some analysts saying the things the analysts are supposed to have said. Otherwise the impression is overhwelming that the journalist who wrote the thing is just spouting off.  According to observers. 2:23 A.M.

Now They Tell Us--Tasty Donuts, Part II: With the midterm election safely in the past, the NYT's Robert Pear reveals that the Bush administration delegated the task of saving the Medicare drug plan to ... a competent civil servant, Abby Block:

She solved many problems that plagued the program in its first weeks, when low-income people were often overcharged and some were turned away from drugstores without getting their medications. By September, according to several market research firms, three-fourths of the people receiving drug coverage through Medicare said they were satisfied.

P.S.: The Bushies can't have been so stupid as to only peddle this story now ... can they? This looks more like a source-greaser for Pear. But wouldn't the grease have been as slick a month ago? (Maybe not. Third possibility: Block isn't such a nonpartisan civil servant--and Pear's repeat attempts to describe her as apolitical are the giveaway. Maybe she didn't want to be greased a month ago, when it would have helped the GOPS.) ... 1:09 A.M.

Even the liberal Stephen Kaus thinks Alcee Hastings should be disqualified from heading the House Intelligence Committee. He notes that Hastings, in his recent letter,

believes it is sufficient to state that, "[s]o that complaint [of judicial misconduct] led to the remaining events that are so convoluted, voluminous, complex, and mundane that it would boggle the mind."

I recognize this argument. It is the one a defense attorney makes for a hopelessly guilty client.

12:55 A.M.

Charlie Cook has done the math: I figured Charlie Cook and Amy "Wahine" Walter had been right about Democratic mid-term "wave" until I read Cook's gloating post-mortem:

So when the national popular vote, according to figures compiled by Rhodes Cook for the Pew Research Center, went 52 percent for Democrats, 46 percent for Republicans, and 2 percent for others, no one should have been shocked.

Do the math: ...[snip] ...  When the 6-point Democratic popular vote win is measured against the GOP's 5-point win in 2002 and its 3-point win in 2004, it clearly constituted a wave.

Wow. So in 2002, a humdrum, non-wave election, the GOP won by 5 points. But this year, in a "wave election that rivaled the 1994 tsunami," the Dems won by 6 points.  See? No wave: 5. Wave: 6! Cook has a powerful way of putting things. ... Note to file: Cook also admits that "over the years" the generic congressional preference poll "has tended to tilt about 5 points too much in the Democrats' favor." ... [Thks to reader M.]12:23 A.M.

Caitlin Flanagan has done the math. 12:03 A.M.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Note to however many layers of LAT editors are still left: Technically, Jennifer Gratz, the woman who beat Barack Obama and the entire bipartisan establishment of Michigan on the race preference issue, won her 1997 lawsuit against the University of Michigan, John Rosenberg notes. ... P.S.: Don't you think Obama's conspicuous championing of race preferences might be a potential weakness? If he runs for President, and other Dems (playing for the same types of voters who voted in Michigan) successfully attack him on that issue, wouldn't that really be the death knell of affirmative action?  ...  7:51 P.M.

Now They Tell Us--Tasty Donut Edition: WaPo, which before the election was running stories about the"'devastating'" effect of the Bush Medicare drug benefit "doughnut hole," now reports that the program "has proven cheaper and more popular than anyone imagined."

The cost of the program has been lower than expected, about $26 billion in 2006, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The cost was projected to rise to $45 billion next year, but Medicare has received new bids indicating that its average per-person subsidy could drop by 15 percent in 2007, to $79.90 a month.

Urban Institute President Robert D. Reischauer, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, called that a remarkable record for a new federal program.

Initially, he said, people were worried no private plans would participate. "Then too many plans came forward," Reischauer said. "Then people said it's going to cost a fortune. And the price came in lower than anybody thought. Then people like me said they're low-balling the prices the first year and they'll jack up the rates down the line. And, lo and behold, the prices fell again. And the reaction was, 'We've got to have the government negotiate lower prices.' At some point you have to ask: What are we looking for here?" [Emphasis added]

Reischauer has a deserved reputation for straight-shooting. WaPo couldn't have gotten that paragraph out of him before November 7? 6:44 P.M.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Alcee Ya': Alcee Hastings has mounted his defense, and it looks like the last-ditch variety. In a "Dear Colleague" letter Hastings writes, "I hope that my fate is not determined by Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michael Barone, Drudge, anonymous bloggers, and other assorted misinformed fools."**  Roll Call reports [$] the letter also says Hastings has "requested a 45-minute meeting with Pelosi to discuss his 1983 trial and subsequent events ... " Influence Peddlernotes it reflects

weakness to disclose that he's requested a chance to make his case before Pelosi, but hasn't been granted an audience. Has he gone public on this without realizing it makes him look weak, or has Pelosi left him twisting in the wind?

P.S.: Come to think of it, why is everyone (including me) so sure the Congressional Black Caucus really cares about Hastings' promotion? They must care, the argument goes, because if they didn't Pelosi would never have taken the risk of letting it be known that she favored appointing an impeached former judge to head the Intelligence committee. But that's putting what now seems like a lot of faith in Pelosi's good judgment! The CBC is already getting three chairmanships (Rangel, Conyers, Thompson) after all. Could they be simply going through the mandatory motions of advancing Hastings' cause? ... The proposed Bishop gambit (see below) only makes sense if the Black Caucus really will be furious if fallback candidate and Hispanic Caucus ex-chair Silvestre Reyes gets the job. ...

**--PR coup for Malkin! 12:18 P.M.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Finagling the fence: Are the House Democrats and Homeland Security secretary Chertoff planning to wriggle out of the 700 mile border fence--replacing it with "virtual" fencing--without actually amending the Secure Fence Act? It looks like it from this storyDon't tell White House spokesman Tony "'The Fence Is Going to Be Built'" Snow! ... P.S.: It's also possible the House Dems** don't want to take the heat for "revisiting" the Secure Fence Act at the moment--and the suggestion that the fence could be "virtualized" without a new law is a convenient way for incoming committee chair Bennie Thompson to avoid voting on the issue, in the secure knowledge that the Bush administration won't actually get around to building much fencing before the next Congress is elected in 2008. ... P.P.S.: Either way, it smacks of an anti-fence deal. ...

**--The Bush administration presumably doesn't want an actual vote gutting the Secure Fence Act either, since it's counting on the prospect of a fence to placate border-control conservatives while it passes a "comprehensive" semi-amnesty plan. ... 2:50 P.M.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today's Jared Paul Stern Special: Highly informative, largely non-scandalous Forbes piece  on Ron Burkle's business history. I did notice this paragraph about Burkle's investment-business partner, Bill Clinton:

Burkle and Clinton spend hours flying together onboard Burkle's Boeing 757. ... [snip] ... Burkle figures he accompanies Clinton at least half the time Clinton travels abroad.

"He's invaluable," Burkle says of his idol. President Clinton "is unique, he brands us to people who matter. He got us in with the Teamsters, and that's important for deal flow going forward."

Yucaipa arranged for Clinton to make a speech at a Teamsters conference in 2003, and later Clinton urged Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. to trust Burkle and present him with possible deals. Result: This spring Yucaipa paid $100 million to buy a controlling stake in Allied Holdings, a trucking outfit in bankruptcy proceedings. "Clinton got it to the point where Hoffa actually helped us with that deal, something I couldn't have gotten on my own," Burkle says. [E.A.]

So Hoffa helps Clinton with a deal that makes Clinton and Burkle money. And if Hoffa needs something in a few years from President Hillary Clinton's White House ... 12:04 P.M.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Help Nancy! David Corn outlines Speaker-elect Pelosi's self-made dilemma when it comes to choosing the chairman of the House Intelligence committee. She doesn't want to pick the ranking Democrat, Jane Harman, for reasons the LAT attempts to divine here. Instead, she's led the Congressional Black Caucus to believe she'll instead choose Alcee Hastings, the next-ranking member. But Hastings was impeached and removed from the federal bench for corruption in the 1980s. The Democrats' more conservative "blue dog" faction has written a letter in support of Harman. The CBC has reaffirmed its support  for Hastings. What to do? 

Corn looks at the evidence and concludes "Hastings past will hobble him as a spokesman for the Democrats on national security." He suggests that Pelosi skip over Harman, and Hastings, and fallback candidate Silvestre Reyes, and instead choose Rush Holt, a liberal Dem from Princeton who worked as a State Department intelligence analyst and hasn't been shy about challenging President Bush.  But how does Holt solve Pelosi's political problem? The black caucus will still be furious, and the Blue Dogs won't be too happy either.

Amy Holmes, appearing Tuesday on Hannity and Colmes, came up with a more ingenious solution: Pelosi could reach out and give the job to Rep. Sanford Bishop. Why Bishop? Because CBC's original beef with Harman, according to the LAT, is that when Harman returned to Congress in 2001, after a failed run for governor, she was awarded all the seniority she'd acquired from an earlier stint in the House. As a result, she vaulted over Hastings and bumped another black Congressman off the intelligence committee. The name of the bumped black Congressman: Sanford Bishop. Pelosi would be correcting an old injustice. Bonus factor: Bishop's a Blue Dog!

In short: Choose Bishop, and CBC is happy and the Blue Dogs are happy. And Pelosi is happy (because she's screwed Harman). Harman's not happy, but she must have known she might not be named chairman under Pelosi--anyway, she'll survive. The Latino caucus could be disappointed that Reyes didn't get the job, but Reyes had much less of an expectation of getting it than either Harman or Hastings.

Maybe Bishop has some disqualifying characteristic, though I haven't found one in a quick Web search. He might have to give up his seat on the (powerful) Appropriations Committee, but he's only a low-ranking member there. I can't find any House rule that would stop him from making the shift.

If there's a fatal defect with Holmes' Bishop solution, let me know. If not--why not?

Update: Time'sTimothy Burger  mentioned a possible Bishop gambit yesterday also. ..  

More: Tom Maguire emails to note that judging from his voting record Bishop "looks to be an awfully Blue Blue Dog (which means he is kinda of Red)." Bishop voted to authorize the Iraq War, for example, and  in favor of the Military Commissions Act. But he sided with most Democrats in opposing the warrantless wiretapping bill.  Still, Maguire argues Bishop's record is "a heavy load" if Pelosi's "goal is to replace Harman with a Bush-basher."

Kf response: Does that mean that Henry Waxman, who also voted for the war, couldn't chair this committee? [But you yourself have argued that pro-war Waxman is ill-suited to investigate pre-war intelligence?--ed Hmm. So  I have! I guess I'd say a) there's a difference between disqualifying all war supporters from general oversight of intelligence, which seems excessive, and allowing a war supporter to conduct a rifle-shot investigation into pre-war abuses of intelligence that promises to turn into a bogus argument that those who voted for the war were deceived; b) Waxman didn't need to support the war to be in synch with his district--on the contrary, it's a  liberal West L.A. area highly skeptical of the Bush administration. But I suspect Bishop, from a conservative-drifting district in Georgia, would have been taking a big political risk by going against the grain of his district if he'd voted against the war.] 7:08 P.M. link

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

bhTV: Bob Wright says McCain's Iraq position is highly convenient. 2:57 P.M.

Hype Watch: In House races, Republicans lost 8 percentage points among Hispanics between 2002 and 2006. They also lost 8 percentage points among whites, notes Polipundit. How does this prove that the House Republicans' immigration stance cost them Hispanic votes? ... Meanwhile, acording to the NYT's chart, the Republicans actually gained two percentage points among blacks in this very unRepublican year. Immigration? ... P.S.: The NYT's Hispanic exit-poll numbers for 2002 actually don't add up. According to the Times, Hispanic men gave Republicans 36% of their votes that year. Hispanic women voted 33% Republican. How do those numbers average out to a 38% overall Hispanic Republican vote? Are there voters who aren't men or women? 12:53 A.M. link

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's Alive: I just noticed:  The embattled Incumbent Rule ** predicted the results in the hot Senate races perfectly, except for New Jersey. But New Jersey is ... the exception that proves the rule! [Why?-ed Because Senator Menendez wasn't really an incumbent--he'd only been in office a few months, having been appointed in January, 2006 to the seat vacated by now-Gov. Corzine]

**--The Incumbent Rule holds that undecided voters break almost entirely against an incumbent--meaning that if in the final pre-election polls an incumbent isn't over 50%,** he or she will lose.

P.S.: The cool-sounding Zogby Interactive polls performed as expected, which is to say very badly. The WSJ--which used those Zogby polls-- reports the grim results. Meanwhile,'saverages (featured on Slatedid very well. ...11:55 P.M.

Why would anyone want to gossip about Ron Burkle? He does nothing gossipworthy. Really, Hillary couldn't leave Bill in safer hands! ... [Not from alert reader J.P.S.] ...11:16 P.M.

I've now run into too many smart and connected political insiders who believe that ex.-Gov. Mark Warner didn't drop out of the presidential race solely in order to spend more time with his dad   and his daughters. . ... kf supports renewed reportorial focus on this matter! ... 4:02 P.M. link

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nancy Knows: Think Democratic congresspersons who voted for Hoyer over Murtha were protected from the wrath of Pelosi because the election was conducted by secret ballot? Not exactly. Dena Bunis of the O.C. Register reports:

Going into the election, Pelosi and her lieutenants believed the vote would be close. Pelosi was making phone calls late into Wednesday night trying to persuade members to vote for Murtha.

But the ballot was a secret one. So members who supported Hoyer but didn't want to anger Pelosi just told her what she wanted to hear.

Inside the room where the election was being held, there were boxes for members to drop their secret ballots. Pelosi and her crew watched as people voted. Some members actually brought fellow lawmakers with them when they marked their ballots so they could prove to Pelosi that they did vote for Murtha. And because the Murtha vote ended up being so small, the Pelosi forces can count almost down to the last ballot who voted for Murtha and who for Hoyer. [E.A.]

The members who told Pelosi they'd vote for Murtha and then voted the other way could be eager recruits for Tim Noah's maybe-not-so-premature campaign. ... P.S.: Doesn't this limit Pelosi's ability to replace Jane Harman with Alcee Hastings on the Intelligence Committee?  If Murtha was strike one, and replacing Harman with Hastings is strike two, will Hoyer's legions feel like waiting for strike three? ... The answer, of course, is that it would be highly embarrassing to dump the first female House speaker after a minute and a half in office. That has to be one of the main pillars holding Pelosi up, no? Maybe Sirota is right! Thanks to the stunning Murtha miscalculation, Pelosi's weakness is now her biggest strength--the threat that any further defiance will force her humiliating collapse. Fragility=power. In this respect she is not unlike Nuri al-Maliki. ... [Thanks to reader b.h.] 12:09 P.M.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I'm with CW: Tom Maguire gives the award  in the hotly-contested category of Silliest Contrarian Argument that the Murtha Maneuver was Really a Win for Pelosi to ... David Sirota! 6:16 P.M.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

They said the Pontiac Aztek couldn't get any uglier. They were wrong. .. Update: Actually, it's so ugly it's .... 7:42 P.M.

bhTV: Bob Wright's post-election euphoria is giving way to nagging doubts about the Democrats' strategic prowess! No kidding. ... P.S.: That's not bedhead  I have. It's a perverse and juvenile form of hathead. ... 6:32 P.M.

Pence: Still  Scammin'! David Frum argues that GOP Rep. Mike Pence's "idealism and seeming guilelessness" are potential defects in a minority party leader. The problem with Pence's bogus immigration "compromise," Frum says, isn't that Pence tried to con conservatives, but that it was Pence who "got suckered."

Do I believe that the Pence plan was Pence's own handiwork? I do not. Somebody else devised it - and then persuaded Pence to adopt it as his own

Hmm. I rise to the defend Pence's cynicism and guilefulness. On Laura Ingraham's radio show, he gave the impression that he'd abandoned the Pence plan  (which would reward illegal immigrants by letting employers arrange for them to become guest workers--the technical wrinkle being they'd have to leave the country briefly or perhaps just touch base at a border station).  But in this Tuesday interview with Mary Katharine Hamit becomes clear Pence still backs the Pence Plan, and indeed intends to bring it up again if the opportunity arises.

As I told all of my colleagues, I stand by the legislation that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and I built, that we put border security first, and then create a guest worker program outside of the United States, only after completed border security measures. And applicants to that guest worker program would have to leave the United States of America to apply. We add into that strong employer enforcement sanctions. I believe then and I believe now that is a solution that could work and could be acceptable to many conservatives, me included. But I want to say again, that ship has sailed. That compromise will not be considered. We are going to get the McCain-Kennedy Bill. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs a math lesson. They have the math; they have control of the floor of the House and Senate now. I was heartened to hear Senator Jon Kyl expressed the willingness in the last twenty-four hours to use a filibuster in the Senate to stop an amnesty bill. I will look forward to being the power of the House minority effort to back that rhetorically and to use every weapon in our arsenal. The American people do not support amnesty and do not want to see Congress pass amnesty legislation. With that being said, I still believe the idea that we floated with a good one, and if we were in a different universe, I would still be advocating for it. [E.A.]

In other words, he's been trying to con gullible conservatives into thinking he's abandoned his con. Meta-fraud! By Frum's lights, he's the perfect minority leader. ... P.S.: To hear Pence oleaginate on Ingraham's show, click here. ...  5:38 P.M. link

You have to read those WaPo photo captions carefully. It's where they sometimes put the news. From the caption on an AP picture of the border fence in San Diego:

With the Democratic Party in control of Congress, Hispanic political activists are preparing for a big push toward reform, which would include repeal of the Secure Fence Act.

5:15 P.M.

P elosi's " big win": That Democratic leadership race is no big deal! In a few weeks virtually everyone will have forgotten about the Pelosi-vs.-Hoyer dustup. Except Pelosi! Here's the most telling paragraph in today's excellent Romano/Weisman Washington Post report:

For the most part, lawmakers, Hill aides and some outside advisers -- even some close to her -- say they are at a loss to explain why Pelosi has held a grudge for so long, because she clearly has the upper hand as leader of the House Democrats. They suggest that part of what rankles her is that Hoyer is not beholden to her and feels no compulsion to publicly agree with her on every issue. This, allies say, she sees as a sign of disloyalty. [E.A.]

Wow. What about 149 people who publicly disagree with her? [More than 'disagree'--ed Defy!] ... 2:46 P.M. link

'We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it": Pelosi puts her prestige on the line, in a self-conscious display of strong-arm tactics that sound like they were taken from bad movies,** and gets creamed. For some reason House Democrats decided they didn't want an old-school influence jockey who couldn't string five coherent sentences together without embarrassing himself to be their #2 national spokesman! Influence Peddler:

So now we know which of Pelosi's nightmares she will live for the next two years. The first act of her new majority was give her a 'no-confidence' vote.

And it isn't really a divided caucus, either. The vote for Hoyer was 149-86. That's not really all that divided.

So what does this show? That House Democrats will defy Pelosi, that she is out-of-touch with the will of her caucus, and that Hoyer has a sizeable constituency of his own. By making this such a high-profile, high-stakes contest, Ms. Pelosi may have graduated Mr. Hoyer from second-in-command to legitimate rival - something that would not have happened if she had not tested her influence in this contest.

At least she's not the vindictive sort! ... Meanwhile, the HuffPo "Fearless Voices"site has replaced regular programming with somber classical music. ...

**--Sample of the failed high-schoolish Pelosi-camp tactics, from WaPo:

One conservative Democrat said that a Murtha-Pelosi ally approached him on the House floor and said pointedly: "I hope you like your committee assignment, because it's the only one you're going to get."

10:15 P.M.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Alert reader R.H. suggests Rahm Emanuel as a compromise Majority Leader if Murtha is too tainted and Hoyer's relations with Pelosi are too strained. ...P.S.: Then Arianna will be happy and The Note will be happy! ... 9:02 P.M.

They sneered when kf suggested that press-fave Rep. Henry Waxman, who voted for the war, might have a problem investigating topics like the administration's pre-war manipulation of intelligence. Comes now Matthew Yglesias, writing about Jane Harman, to suggest that:

[Li]ike all people who voted for the Iraq War, she has a problem investigating the administration's pre-war manipulation of intelligence.

If Harman loses her chair because she supported the war, shouldn't Waxman lose his? 8:00 P.M. link

Now they tell us, Part XXVIII: THe NYT's military analysts discover that many anti-war figures, including General Zinni, think the Dem-proposed "phased withdrawal" strategy in Iraq is a really bad idea! ... Update: But NBC's Andrea Mitchell is reporting that "phased withdrawal," accompanied by "deadlines" will be the recommendation of the Baker-Hamilton commission! ... 4:35 P.M.

Even the liberal Joe Conason is disappointed in Pelosi:

As Ms. Pelosi takes up her constitutional responsibilities, she will hear many people say that she is no different from her tainted predecessors, that all politicians are crooked, and that Democrats are just as compromised as Republicans. Her most important responsibility is to prove those clichés untrue, but her attempts to enforce her personal agenda have only made that crucial task more difficult.

If she fails to deliver reform, her historic reign will be disappointing—and possibly quite brief.

2:35 P.M.

"Murtha Calls Ethics Bill 'Total Crap'": Pelosi's pick off to a great start!. ... P.S.: If Tom DeLay said that, you think it might get some coverage?... You'd think this might sink Murtha. [Update: No. Update: Yes.] ... Via IP, which also cites an example of Pelosi's subtle armtwisting

Baltimore Sun's Hay Brown reports the speaker-in-waiting is playing hardball: She summoned Rep.-elect Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to her office to ask why Gillibrand was supporting current Dem whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and, completely coincidentally, asked for Gillibrand's committee preferences

Update: But it's really great crap! According to TPMMuckraker Murtha's allies are saying he was 'misconstrued' and 'taken out of context.' ... More: On Hardball, Murtha had two strategies on "crap." The first was to try to claim it was the corruption that was "crap." When that didn't fly, he said only meant the bill was "crap" in relation to the more urgent need to act on the Iraq war. Nice try! The problem is in his initial discussion of the issue, Murtha gave away why he really thinks the new ethics rules are "crap"--that they are, in Chris Matthews' words, "Mickey Mouse." Here's the transcript:

MATTHEWS:  OK, let's talk about the Congress today and I have—watching this and having worked up there, and we were old friends, we still are friends, I'll admit that, I don't mind admitting it.  Let's talk about the system today.  When a congressman—when you pass a bill on the Hill that says you can't take a lunch, a hamburger from, a steak, or a trip, whatever, do you think that makes the Congress cleaner?

MURTHA:  Let me tell you.  There's a lot of crap going on in Congress all the time.  Guys violate the law, some do.  But the problem we have is a few people violate the law and then the whole Congress has to be changed.

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Is it Mickey Mouse, or, as you said, apparently at this meeting with the Blue Dogs the other night, total crap to tell people you can't take a lunch from somebody?  Where do you draw—where is your position on ethics right now?

MURTHA:  Let me tell you, I agree that we have to return a perception of honesty to the Congress.  I agree with what Nancy's trying to do.  The crap I'm talking about is the crap that people have violated the law, the crap that the kind of things that have happened with Abramoff, the kind of things that have happened with some of the members—

MATTHEWS:  But that's not what you said.  Didn't you say it was total crap, what she was proposing?

MURTHA:  What I said was, it's total crap, the idea we have to deal with an issue like this, when—and it is total crap that we have to deal with an issue like this when we've got a war going on and we got all these other issues -- $8 billion a month we're spending— [Emphasis added]

The most likely interpretation--that Murtha thinks the new ethics rules are 'Mickey Mouse'--is still fairly damning. Murtha's obviously comfortable with the system as it now runs, as long as his Hill colleagues stay barely on the right side of the legal line. I'd thought the Democrats' point is the system as it now runs--even as it legally now runs--is corrupt. ... P.P.S.:   Mad-for-Murtha HuffPo  isn't exactly all over this story, though if you drill down long enough you'll get to the damage-controlling Hardball interview. ... 

P.P.P.S.--Conversations with the NYT Search Engine: 

  • Your search for Murtha crap in all fields returned 0 results.Did You Intend to Search for Martha crap ?

Uh, no. But thanks! 2:00 P.M..

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Common Ground! Bevan against overpaid CEO's. 6:10 P.M.

kf Covers the Arts: Rigoloofah!  4:32 P.M.

According to KLo of The Corner, Rep. Pence no longer supports the Pence Plan on immigration.** The Pence Plan, of course, was a total scam, as discussed here. ... Old saying: "Man who tries to con with scam once may try to con with scam again!" I don't think backing off his plan is enough to clear Pence's name. ...

** Update: What he actually says--on  Laura Ingraham's radio show--is that yes, he "put some ideas out there" but the "debates" about them are  "a thing of the past."   He sounds way too slick. ... 2:30 P.M.

Murthanoia: I initially figured Pelosi's support for Murtha was the pro forma support of a friend. It seems I was wrong--she's really going for it. From The Hill:

"She will ensure that they [the Murtha camp] win. This is hard-ball politics," said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a longtime Murtha supporter. "We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it..." [E.A.]

Meanwhile, Murtha claims he's the victim of a "swift-boating attack" when really it's just the MSM playing post-election catch up, notes Influence Peddler. ... P.S.: Of course, more Murtha thrashes around like a frantic whale, the more attention he attracts--and the more he puts Pelosi's rep on the line, and the more he makes her pull out all stops to help him. See  this Corner analysis  (also via IP). ...  1:50 P.M.

Whose Agenda II: Alert reader G, in an email sent last week, has a Darwinian take on the question of what the Dems should do on immigration:

I  can't think of a less effective move to establish a commanding national presence than to bail out an unpopular and recently repudiated President on an issue he couldn't even get his now-thumped party behind.

Meanwhile, the NY Post's Orin-Eilbeck notes:

Some Bush loyalists note that two hardline anti-illegal immigrant Republicans in Arizona lost their House seats as proof that there's support for legaliztion. But that's a misreading. A Bush push for legalization would risk more GOP rebellion.

The strongest opposition to illegal immigration is coming from heartland America and even the Northeast. Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), one of the toughest foes of legalization, won his re-election handily. And one of the few Republican moderates to survive, Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), said he turned against the Bush plan because voters in his swing district hated it (he also came out for firing Rumsfeld).

And few of the Democrats who upset Republicans in swing districts ran on legalization of illegal aliens - indeed, many raced to support the Republican plan to build a 700-mile border fence.

1:00 P.M.

KosPros: Kos is planning"the rise of a professional netroots activist class."   What's troubling about this idea? Some partly-contradictory possibilities:

1) The Netroots Pro class will constantly need to gin up new causes to keep itself in business;

2) They'll pander to the mindless "Fight Club" tendencies of their partisan followers;

3) They'll tone themselves down to avoid chasing away big advertisers like Chevron;

4) They will become just another interest group that needs to be appeased;

5) Politicians will be tempted to do the appeasing by buying them off, rather than accomplishing anything. If Hillary Clinton, say, were to give Kos an exclusive interview which attractsd a lot of views of pages with ads on them, that goes directly to Kos' bottom line. If Hillary gives 60 Minutes an interview, that goes directly to CBS' bottom line, of course. The difference is that CBS isn't supposed to be an idealistic political actor (and also probably that a big political "get" means less to CBS than to a political blog).** ....

6) If Kos himself gets to choose who joins what he calls the "corps of 'fellows'" that gives him a whole lot of power, doesn't it?

[How is what Kos' pros would do any different from what kf does?--ed It isn't, as far as I can see. All these problems are inherent in the advertiser-supported blog model. And everyone who wants should join in the fun of acquiring those problems. But there are virtues to having an activist class that's not professional, maybe. Amateur activists can only be bought off by actual reforms. If they don't get what they're campaigning for, they're unhappy. If professional activists don't get what they're campaigning for, they've still fed their families for a year. ...[Don't be silly. Amateur activists can be awed by a lunch--ed That's now. When they get more cynical and jaded they'll stop being such cheap dates.]

**--On the other hand, CBS may be better able to sell a one-time ratings spike to advertisers. Blogs sometimes have trouble selling unanticipated hit windfalls, I'm told--it's much easier to "monetize" a steady flow of traffic. But that only means that, a politician who wants to buy off a blog would have to dole out lots of little tidbits rather than one big interview. ...11:57 A.M. link

Blogging Caesar has a handy table of as-yet-undecided House races, which he pledges to update.  If the candidate who's leading in each race winds up winning, the final House breakdown will be 232 Dems, 203 GOPs--the same majority Hastert had  at the start of the last Congress. ... 11:17 A.M.

Monday, November 13, 2006

House of Murth? A reminder of Rep. John Murtha's  energetic 1980 efforts to bring jobs to his District. ... Attention TV producers: There's video! ... 7:15 P.M.

Now they tell us: LAT on Harry Reid's honest graft! ... TPM Muckraker discovers "less than squeaky" Dems! ... 2:56 P.M.

Schisms: Roots vs. Rahm! ... Soros/ Streisand Ethicists vs. Pelosi Peaceniks!  ... [link via Drudge ] ...  Update: More anti-Murthism here. ... 2:34 P.M.

UPI: "Dem Congress May Scrap Border Fence"

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters this week that he expected to "re-visit" the issue when he becomes chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in the 110th Congress, which has a Democratic Party majority.

Someone (Hugh?) might ask  Tony "The Fence Is Going to Be Built" Snow if Bush promises a veto. ... The administration is clearly relying on the tremendous appeal of a fence on the right to buy it a lot of support when it comes to guest-workers and semi-amnesty (sorry, "earned legalization"). My sense is that this calculation is pretty savvy--if you give the right a fence they'll agree to almost anything! Or way too much anyway. But Bush can't have it both ways--using the fence to buy off the right with one hand while allowing (encouraging?) Democratic repeal of the Fence Act with the other. 12:57 P.M. link

Paranoia Realized: Influence Peddler hears, from a "very high level" Dem Senate source, that it's "full speed ahead" on immigration reform--contrary to  today's WaPo story. It's not clear, however, that IP is saying the high-level House Dem leadership agrees. ... P.S.: IP also thinks Pelosi's already made a big mistake  on another front. ...12:26 A.M. link

Escape from Pinchistan? It's Nov. 13--isn't it time For the NYT's visionary Pinch Sulzberger to lock Friedman, Krugman, Dowd, Brooks and Suellentrop, et. al., back in their pay-to-read dungeon after a week of free access for all? But the cold steel doors don't seem to have slammed shut yet. ... Is the crack in the TimesSelect wall going to be like that crack in the Berlin Wall? ... Once they've tasted freedom ....  Update:  Brutal. Back to your cell, Krugman! Those impoverished Arab millions yearning for your insight--forget them, Friedman! As they will forget you. ... Project Lifeline: Send the Times pundit of your choice an email just to let them know you remember them. [You have to be a TimesSelect subscriber to send them emails--ed  That Pinch is a madman! He's thought of everything. ... The cocoon is impregnable!]...  12:11 A.M. link

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Just asking: Whose Agenda?: In the NYT today Toner and Zernike describe all sorts of wholesome little populist reforms  the incoming Rahm-Dems want to achieve--health care for children, changes in the Medicare drug program, tuition aid, etc. Do these Dems really want Congress tied up for months in a messy, potentially party-splitting and '08-endangering fight over immigration reform (and legalization of illegals and sanctions against employers) just because the younger Bush and Karl Rove decided years ago that this (along with taking out Saddam) would be part of Bush's legacy? Without Bush's willfulness, would anybody have put "comprehensive" immigration reform on the front burner? It's certainly not something these new Dems ran on, by and large. The press is baying mindlessly for a bipartisan agenda--but whose agenda: Pelosi's or Bush's?...

Update: Michael Tomasky argues the press' portrayal of the incoming Dems as socially conservative is miselading--a well-publicized handful are, most aren't. Tomasky asks:

Why would Democrats, having finally regained control of the legislative calendar, schedule a vote that highlights their divisions?

Tomasky's talking about abortion and gay marriage, but you could ask the same thing about legalizaton of illegal immigrants, no? ...

In the days after the election, Democratic leaders surprised pro-immigration groups by not including the issue on their list of immediate priorities. Experts said the issue is so complicated, so sensitive and so explosive that it could easily blow up in the Democrats' faces and give control of Congress back to Republicans in the next election two years from now. And a number of Democrats who took a hard line on illegal immigration were also elected to Congress.

It's the CW!  Now I'm suspicious. Bush badly wants a "comprehensive" bill, after all. Are "Democratic leaders" just playing hard-to-get in the press, holding out for concessions on other issues? [The paranoid mind at work--ed. They told you to say that, didn't they? It's part of their plan.] ... See also Drum (and his commenters). ...

Aha: As if on cue, Yglesias argues  that Dems should take an immigration deal, in part because Bush is desperate and "more Latino citizens = more Democratic voters over the long term."  But why would Republicans buy that argument? Doesn't the bill need at least some Republican support (other than Bush)? ... P.S.: Yglesias wants a bill that's "long on amnesty earned legalization and short on guest workers." His cross-out, not mine. Isn't a bill that's 'long on amnesty' kind of "explosive," just as WaPo says? 11:41 A.M. link

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Weird that the NYTWaPo, and  LAT  obituaries for Jack Palance don't talk about Contempt. He was fantastic in Contempt--famously so, I'd thought. 7:59 P.M.

Go Ahead, Blame Rove!Slate's  John Dickerson says Republicans "Don't Blame Rove." But he makes a good case for blaming Rove before he makes the case against it:

1. After the national horror of 9/11, Rove chose to please the president's conservative base rather than seize the historic moment of national unity by pushing a more moderate set of policies. ...  [snip]

2. It was Rove's idea to push for Social Security reform after the 2004 election. He kept pushing it long after voters had told pollsters they didn't want it. He wildly misread the national mood, woke up the left, and saddled Republicans in Congress with a loser issue. Then, he pushed for comprehensive immigration reform, angering a different portion of the base.

3. He and Bush delayed announcing Rumsfeld's departure. Had Rumsfeld left two months ago, you can bet George Allen and Conrad Burns wouldn't be planning their retirement parties. [Emphasis added]

If all that's true, Republicans would have to be morons not to blame Rove. I know some Republicans who aren't morons. ... 11/13: See, for example, Orin-Eilbeck. ..

Update: It's easy to do after the fact--but Newsweek describes Rove as a deluded, isolated, obsessive, relying on semi-secret technical knowledge to overcome his large policy blunders:

Rove blames complacent candidates for much of the GOP's defeat. He says even some scandal-tainted members won when they followed what he calls "the program" of voter contacts and early voting. "Where some people came up short was where they didn't have a program," he told NEWSWEEK.

 3:56 P.M.

Is something wrong? Only 6 plugs for Andrew Sullivan's book on his blog (not counting the two large reproductions of the cover). We expect more! 3:51 P.M.

Attention, President-Elect Calderon: Bush Press Secretary Tony Snow, in a post-election interview with Hugh Hewitt, is really, really insistent that  Bush will build the border fence.

"The public needs to know, I'm telling you right now, the fence is going to be built. "

Snow promises "certainly, more than a hundred miles" by 2008, if I read the interview correctly.  1:05 A.M.

Just a reminder: Rep. Henry Waxman, the aggressive incoming liberal chair of the House Government Reform committee--who is chiding his Republican predecessors for not investigating (in AP's words) "the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, the controversy over the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name, and the pre-Iraq war use of intelligence"-- voted for the war. ...  All future beat-sweeteners  about Waxman should be required to (unlike AP) mention this fact before reporting Waxman's righteous indignation. [Can't he complain about how the war was executed?--ed Sure. But complaining about the manipulated pre-war intelligence is a bit much. Maybe he was duped by all that manipulated pre-war intelligence--ed. Please.He's a smart, well-connected, experienced guy. I think he's hard to dupe.] 12:34 A.M.

Friday, November 10, 2006

To "Fight Club" Democrats**: Given the near-disaster of John Kerry's initial "I apologize to no one" reaction in the flap over his troop comments, do you think maybe Bob Shrum had a point when he chose not to immediately fight back in the Swift Boat controversy of 2004? [The point would be a) sometimes fighting back isn't the smart thing to do or b) some clods are really bad at fighting back?--ed Both, but mainly (b)]

**--Tom Maguire's term. 6:16 P.M.

Ford's new  Fusion sedan has received  shockingly high reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. That has to be good news for the workers in the assembly plant where it's produced ... in Hermosillo, Mexico. ...  To be fair: Some Fusion engines come from Ohio. The Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS, both assembled in Detroit, also did very well. ... 3:41 P.M.

Jared Paul Stern Item of the Day: A PR triumph for Sitrick & Co. 3:32 P.M.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Lou-ing: More on the new "non-comprehensive" Democrats: This email from an experienced immigration hand who disagrees with me on the issue--

What's REALLY important is that of the 27 or 28 seats where a Democrat replaced a Republican, in at least 20, the Democrat ran to the immigration enforcement side of the Republican: don't let Hayworth and Graf** fool you, cuz those two examples ain't fooling Rahm.

Mark Krikorian makes a similar point:

What's more, if legalizing illegals is so widely supported by the electorate, how come no Democrats campaigned on it? Not all were as tough as Brad Ellsworth, the Indiana sheriff who defeated House Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Hostettler, or John Spratt of South Carolina, whose immigration web pages might as well have been written by Tom Tancredo. But even those nominally committed to "comprehensive" reform stressed enforcement as job one. And the national party's "Six for 06" rip-off of the Contract with America said not a word about immigration reform, "comprehensive" or otherwise.
The only exception to this "Whatever you do, don't mention the amnesty" approach appears to have been Jim Pederson, the Democrat who challenged Sen. Jon Kyl ... by touting a Bush-McCain-Kennedy-style amnesty and foreign-worker program and even praised the 1986 amnesty, which pretty much everyone now agrees was a catastrophe.
Pederson lost.

Dreaded kf welfare analogy: After the 1994 midterm elections, welfare reform was the one big domestic issue that the new incoming Congressional majority had in common with the damaged President they'd just defeated. "Comprehensive" immigration reform is in the same logical position (with the parties reversed). The difference is that in 1994, Gingrich's Republicans had explicitly campaigned on welfare reform. Pelosi's Democrats have run away from "comprehensive" reform. That may not be enough of a difference, and there are differences that run the other way--arguably Bush is more desperate for an immigration bill than Clinton was for a welfare bill. But it's grounds for hope.

**--Hayworth and Graf are two heavily pro-enforcement Arizona GOPs who lost, and whose loss is being reflexively cited by pundits as evidence that an anti-"comprehensive" immigration stand didn't work for anyone. (Hayworth's actually still holding out a slim hope that uncounted ballots will save him). 9:24 P.M.

"Now they tell us" about Alcee Hastings: JustOneMinute on the NYT's sudden post-election discovery of a potential Pelosi problem. ... P.S.: Here's the proof  of the Times'pathetically thin coverage of this issue. ... 9:03 P.M.

Not So Fast! Maybe "comprehensive" immigration reform isn't a done deal. Here, via Polipundit, is the immigration position of ... Senator-elect Jim Webb:

The immigration debate is divided into three separate issues. How can we secure our border? What should we do about the 11 million undocumented workers? And, lastly there is the guest worker question. It is necessary to separate out the 3 issues. The primary concern must be securing the border. Immediate action is needed to stem the flow of illegal border crossings. Approaching the issue using an omnibus bill that attempts to solve all three issues simultaneously creates a political stalemate that delays the border security solution. There is a consensus that our border security must be improved and we should act on that consensus as soon as possible. Once the border is secure we can develop a fair solution to other immigration issues.  [E.A.]

That doesn't sound "comprehensive" to me. That sounds like "enforcement first, then we'll talk."

More: In attacking the "Lou Dobbs Democrats," Jacob Weisberg lumps opposition to illegal immigration with trade protectionism as part of the "economic nationalism" advanced by  so many of the now-famous Dem "moderates" who won this year. That's very CFR of him, along with the not-so-veiled suggestion that advocates of border control are racists.  But the immigration half of this Democrats' new Lou Dobbsianism does suggest that Bush and McCain might have a harder time selling "comprehensive" reform than I'd feared. Here are some Weisberg characterizations:

 Here is a snippet from one of [Senator-elect Sherrod] Brown's TV spots: "I'm for an increase in the minimum wage and against trade agreements that cost Ohio jobs. I support stem-cell research, tighter borders, and a balanced-budget amendment." ...[snip]

In Virginia, apparent winner James Webb denounced outsourcing and blasted George Allenfor voting to allow more "foreign guest workers" into the state. In Missouri, victor Claire McCaskill refused to let incumbent James Talent out-hawk her on immigration. ...[snip]

An even harder-edged nationalism defined many of the critical House races, where Democrats called for a moratorium on trade agreements, for canceling existing ones, or, in some cases, for slapping protective trade tariffs on China. These candidates also lumped illegal immigrants together with terrorists and demanded fencing and militarization of the Mexican border. In Pennsylvania, Democratic challengers Chris Carney and Patrick Murphy defeated Republican incumbents by accusing them of destroying good jobs by voting for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and being soft on illegal immigration.

P.S.: Weisberg distinguishes "economic nationalism" from the more "familiar"--and presumably more benign--"economic populism":

Nationalism begins from the populist premise that working people aren't doing so well. But instead of blaming the rich at home, it focuses its energy on the poor abroad.

So does Weisberg think it's ok to blame "the rich at home" for working-class living standards? That's not very centrist or DLC-ish.  And I don't believe he believes that explanation. The claim that uncontrolled immigration does have the effect of bidding down wages, meanwhile, is quite plausible and consistent with normal market economics of the sort the DLC usually endorses.  It's also consistent with support for free trade--the argument would be that it's easier to support free trade if Americans can at least get good wages for those unskilled jobs that can't be shipped abroad (the so-called non-tradable sector). In fact, that seems like a much more plausible combo than the coupling of free trade with Clintonian "worker retraining  programs" whidh, as Weisberg notes, never amounted to much. ...

See this excellent essay by DLC-type Brad Carson. ...  7:24 P.M.

Egg on CNN Poll Face? As ABC's Note points out, by one measure those final three polls showing a Republican comeback turned out to be quite accurate. It's just that, as so often happens, the "comeback" didn't keep coming!  ... The final vote (as measured by exit poll) was 53-45 Dems over GOPs. The three 'GOP comback' polls understated that 8 point Dem advantage by 1 percentage point (Gallup), 2 points (ABC) and 4 points (Pew). Meanwhile, the four polls showing no pro-GOP movement overstated the Dem advantage by 5 percentage points (Fox), 7 percentage points (Time), 10 percentage points (Newsweek), and an embarrassing 12 percentage points for CNN. ... 3:16 P.M.

Vilsack vs. Iowa: Isn't Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's presidential run  more good news for the Democrats--he'll be the favorite son in Iowa's caucuses, meaning other candidates will have a ready-made excuse to skip them and the press will have a good excuse to downplay them? Maybe the sweet, polite fools who fell for the John Kerry authorized bio won't get to do similar damage in 2008. ... P.S.: The CW is presumably that this is also good news for Hillary, who wasn't looking like the likely Iowa winner (and maybe bad news for Edwards, who was). ... Update: Several emailers suggest that Vilsack isn't nearly popular enough in Iowa to clear the field  the way Tom Harkin did. But he only has to do well enough to give Hillary a plausible excuse for skipping Iowa, no? ... More: Everybody still seems to think I'm wrong about this. I probably am! ... 2:34 P.M.

Sleeping Giant Watch: That front-page Wall Street Journal article on the "Crucial Role of Hispanics" in the Democrats' victory-- cited by Alterman, among others--would be more convincing if it came with some actual numbers about the size of the Hispanic vote. Yes, according to exit polls "Hispanics favoring Democrats over Republicans by 73% to 26%." But what percent of the overall vote, in what races, was Hispanic? ... P.S.: Even a follow-up WSJ story  [$] has no numbers, only a (highly plausible) claim of "an increase in turnout" among Hispanics, attributed to Sergio Bendixen. ... P.P.S.: No turnout numbers here either. ...

Hispanics accounted for 8 percent of the total vote. That is about equal to the Hispanic vote's record turnout in the 2004 presidential election, and much more than its turnout in previous mid-term elections. [emphasis added]

You can be impressed with that or not impressed with that. But what's the excuse for leaving that mildy hype-deflating figure out of stories on the "crucial role" of Hispanics?  12:46 P.M.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Bloggingheads 2006 Post-Election Special: Kaus hits bottom!2:27 P.M.

PoliPundit's compiled a useful list of "bright spots" for conservatives from last night. It's not long! 5:16 A.M.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Shocker of the Night: On MSNBC, Bob Shrum says Harold Ford wasn't populist enough! ... 10:09 P.M.

Obvious Big Post-Election MSM Theme #!: Why can't more Republicans be flexible like Schwarzenegger? ... [Theme #2?--ed 'The Red state/Blue state divide is over!'] 9:35 P.M.

Is it possible the anti-race preference Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will win? I'd vote for it, but the establishments of both parties had opposed it.. ... 9:12 P.M.

NBC's anchors Russert, Brokaw and Williams can't be Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative--that wouldn't do!--but they can be relentless, tedious advocates of bipartisanship and moderation. Isn't that an ideological position too? ["Bipartisanshp" is a blazing arrow pointing at ...-ed "Comprehensive" immigration reform, I know.] 8:17 P.M.

It looks like Clay Shaw, who played an important and honorable role in the 1996 welfare reform--in part by detoxifying Republican anti-welfare rhetoric-- will lose. ... [You like a Republican? What a surprise?-ed Hey, I like Sheldon Whitehouse! I saw him at a fundraiser--he was charmingly wonky. He should be a good senator from Rhode Island  (even if he's too violently opposed to the No Child Left Behind law).] 8:06 P.M.

Just Asking 2: How annoyed must Chris Matthews be at having to share his anchor desk with Keith Olbermann? 8:02 P.M.

Just Asking: What does it tell you about a political party if in a year of epic disaster for their opponents the best they can hope for is a 51-49 majority in the Senate?  ... Update: Matt Yglesias says it tells us the Senate is constitutionally malapportioned. I agree. But that's still a problem for the Dems! And many readers email to point out that only a third of the Senate was up for election. That's true too. But it's also true that the Democrats have had other elections, with other Senate seats, to build a stronger majority and they haven't. ... The 2004 election, with its famous "wrong track" numbers, should have been good for the Democrats, while it's hard to imagine a more favorable climate than the current one. ... Six years into the last Republican two-term President, in 1986, the Democrats gained eight seats to achieve a 55-45 majority. And Ronald Reagan's sixth year wasn't nearly as bad as George W. Bush's sixth year. ... If this is the high water mark for the Dems in the Senate, it's a low high water mark. ... The same can probably be said for the House, though it's too early to tell exactly how big Pelosi's margin will be. ... 8:21 A.M.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Analyst Charlie Cook is standing by his "wave":

Seven national polls have been conducted since Wednesday, November 1.  They give Democrats an average lead of 11.6 percentage points, larger than any party has had going into an Election Day in memory.  Even if you knock five points off of it, it's 6.6 percentage points, bigger than the advantage that Republicans had going into 1994.

Furthermore, there is no evidence of a trend in the generic ballot test.  In chronological order of interviewing (using the midpoint of field dates), the margins were: 15 points (Time 11/1-3), 6 points (ABC/Wash Post), 4 points (Pew), 7 points (Gallup), 16 points (Newsweek), 20 points (CNN) and 13 points (Fox). -- From Cook Political Report email update. [Emphasis added]

7:57 P.M.

Bloggingheads Pre-Election Special 2006: Featuring moments of deep paranoia.  ... And comments! ... 3:08 P.M.

Polycameral Perversity: This is a perverse election.

1. We'd like to punish President Bush. If I could get Bush out of office now with my vote I'd exercise it immediately. But we can't get rid of Bush. We can only defeat his party in Congress.

2. One effect of a Dem House takeover is the radically increased probability that Congress will pass a version of Bush's "comprehensive" immigration reform, including some sort of not-very-difficult path to full citizenship for illegal aliens now living in the U.S. ("semi-amnesty"). The Republican House majority, after all, has been the only thing standing in Bush's way. In other words, a Democratic victory would punish Bush by giving him a gift of his top domestic legislative priority.  Perverse! It would be easy to live with the perversity if Bush's plan were sound policy--but it's more Iraq-style wishful Bush thinking: a) thinking that granting amnesty won't encourage more foreign workers to try to come here illegally to position themselves for the next amnesty; b)  thinking that a Republican administration will administer a tough, effective system of sanctions against any employers who hire those illegal workers. If you believe that, you probably believed we could just train the Iraqi police force and then everything would calm down over there.

3. If the GOPs lose, it will be primarily because of Iraq--but it seems unlikely that a Democratic victory will actually have a huge effect on American policy in Iraq, at least for the next two years. (Alter agrees.) Bush will still be president, remember (see Perversity #1). He will have to deal with the mess he's gotten the nation into. And it's not as if the Democrats have a raft of solutions that are better than the ones the Baker Commission will come up with. Nor does it seem likely that the Democrats will join with Bush to take responsibility for any new strategy he chooses. But the Dem victory is likely to limit Bush's options--e.g. making it harder for him to credibly threaten a long-range American military presence. Since extricating ourselves from bad military situations (e.g. the Korean War) often requires issuing threats (even nuclear threats) and making promises of military protetion, these new limits may not be a positive development even for those who'd like to get out of Iraq quickly.

The implications of these unintended-but-not-unanticipated, consequences for Tuesday night seem clear to me: the best outcome would be if the GOPs retain the House (thwarting Bush's immigration plan) but decisively lose the Senate(punishing Bush and establishing a mechanism for the hearings and oversight Dems like Alter want). This, of course, is the least likely thing to actually happen. Perversity #4.

Update--Perversity #5: I make a big deal about how it would be better if the Dems lost the House battle, but in the only House race on my ballot, I voted Democratic (absentee). Why? My Democratic congresswoman, Jane Harman, is moderate and responsible. I like her, even if Nancy Pelosi doesn't. ... 12:38 P.M. link


Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. 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. 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. 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]