Sunday Morning Sullivan

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 28 2006 6:11 AM

Sunday Morning Sullivan

But will he play in Plano?

Good to see Ann Coulter defending the Black Panthers. ... 6:50 P.M.

Sen. Tim Johnson is still under sedation, and AP's report contains this alarming quote (missing from the version now posted  on WaPo):

Dr.Keith Siller, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Care Center at NYU Medical Center and assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, said it is unusual for a patient to be sedated after brain surgery for more than a few days.

"The two-week period is longer than I would be happy with," he said.

Siller is not the doctor on the scene, of course. Congressional Quarterly has some more encouraging stats  [via IP].  ... He said it:Only Slate 's Tim Noah, however, has had the balls to prematurely speculate  about a  partisan Schiavo do-si-do in which Tom DeLay suddenly realizes that 'quality of life' is what counts, while Democrats discover that maybe the Schiavo conservatives had a point.  ... 2:35 P.M.

Crooks & Liars has4 of the top 10 blog posts of 2006, according to Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which is pretty impressive. ...  3:20 P.M. link

Sunday Morning Sullivan: Bob Wright engages a Buddha-like Andrew Sullivan in intense theological discussion. Then I try to give Bob grief for not taking the obvious shots  at him. Bob takes this rather more seriously than I meant it--and that's always must-see TV! ... P.S.: The Great Plano Controversy comes up during this discussion (except I stupidly call it "Waco")--and I now realize I've never linked to Virginia Postrel's definitive resolution in Texas Monthly  [$]. The key point Postrel makes--which Sullivan ignores at his peril, if he thinks reducing the theological sway of fundamentalism is the key to winning red-state approval of gay marriage--is this:

[M]ost Planoites are not ...[snip] "wildly exercised about sodomy." These solidly conservative, mostly Christian families are not about to launch a pogrom against their gay neighbors. "I have yet to know somebody on finding out that an educator or volunteer was gay in to say, 'Oh, gosh, I can't have them working with my child,'" Kelly Hunter says. "I have known them to say that about the mom who drinks before she goes some place." By the standards of twenty years ago, and certainly by those of Peoria, Planoites are positively accepting.

[snip]

Plano residents aren't "wildly exercised about sodomy," notes a gay friend who last year moved from Dallas to Los Angeles, "but most anti-gay people aren't. They are wildly concerned with making sure their kids never hear the word 'sodomy'; never ask, 'Mommy, what's a drag queen?'; and never have to deal with anything even remotely related to sex. ...[snip]"

He exaggerates, of course. But Plano parents want to determine when and where they talk to their kids about sex, and they assume that explaining that some men fall in love with other men is "about sex."

"We don't have control over a whole lot in the world, but hopefully the education of our children is part of it," Hunter says.

Even in a highly Republican town like Plano, in other words, the religious objection to gay marriage isn't the crucial objection. Fear that moral entropy will envelop your family's children is the crucial objection. I don't see how that fear is addressed theologically. I would think it has to be addressed practically, over time, by repeat demonstration . But time is one thing a rights-oriented, judicial route to gay marriage doesn't allow. ... 1:13 A.M. link

Influence Peddler seesten House seats moving into Republican areas (from the Democratic Northeast, and from Iowa) after the 2010 census--for a potential net change of 20.** ... Doesn't that assume: a) the districts added in Texas, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Utah will invariably be Republican (your bailiwick, Barone); and b) "Republican" will mean the same thing in 2012 that it means today. ... Update: IP says he's talking about 10 new reliably Republican electoral votes for presidential purposes, not necessarily 10 Republican House seats. ...

**--Pelosi currently has a majority of  31. ... 12:33 A.M. link

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our idea doesn't work! Let's do it! According to Tamar Jacoby, the recent arrest of 1,300 suspected illegal workers at six Swift & Co. meat processing plants demonstrates the need for 'comprehensive immigration reform.' I don't understand:

1) "Comprehensive" reform is supposed to be a deal in which amnesty for current illegals (and a guest worker program) is coupled with a tougher workplace enforcement program to block future illegals.  Sounds good, but the last such "comprehensive" reform--the1986 amnesty--failed miserably when its workplace enforcement program turned out to be ineffective at stopping employers from hiring illegals.  The idea behind the current Bush proposal is that this time workplace enforcement will work. But, as the New York Times notes, Swift & Co. in fact particpated in the

the federal Basic Pilot program, a system of checking Social Security numbers that President Bush has touted as a way to crack down on immigration fraud.

How does it increase our faith in "comprehensive" reform if the sort of "reliable verification system" that President Bush himself touts failed conspicuously to stop so many illegals from getting jobs at Swift that they made up 10% of the company's work force?

2) Jacoby praises Swift for "trying to comply" with workplace enforcement laws. If this is the result that's achieved by a firm "trying to comply," how awful will the results in the future be with firms that are maybe not trying so hard to comply?

3) Jacoby notes that when Swift & Company "tried inquiring" more deeply into the backgrounds of job applicants, it was "sued for discrimination by the Justice Department." Couldn't President Bush--if he cares so much about workplace enforcement--have told the Justice Department to cut it out? If a conservative Republican president won't rule out crying "discrimination" when immigration laws are applied, why do we think a liberal Democratic administration will? And even if the government doesn't sue to block effective inquiries into illegal status, won't the ACLU and other "civil rights" groups? The ACLU just sued a Dallas suburb that passed a law against renting to illegals. Hispanic activists, including big groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) protested the Swift raids themselves.

"This unfortunately reminds me of when Hitler began rounding up the Jews for no reason and locking them up," Democratic Party activist Carla Vela said. "Now they're coming for the Latinos, who will they come for next?" [E.A.] **

Hmm. If enforcing immigration laws at the workplace before the passage of "comprehensive" immigration reform reminds Hispanic activists of Hitler, won't enforcing immigration laws at the workplace after the passage of comprehensive reform still remind them of Hitler?*** In both cases it will presumably be mostly Hispanic illegal immigrants who are caught in the net. Jacoby allows that the Swift raids "could be justified in the context of an immigration overhaul of the kind proposed by the president." But the reaction of Hispanic activists suggests they will continue to fight in the courts and legislatures to make sure that the enforcement mechanisms on which the immigration bill relies are as ineffective as possible.

None of this makes Bush's proposed amnesty-for-enforcement deal more credible. It makes it seem likelier that, as in 1986, the amnesty part will work but the enforcement part won't. Which may or may not be the real idea behind "comprehensive" reform.

P.S.: After the raids, the line of applicants at the Swift & Co. office in Colorado for the now-vacant jobs--jobs that, according to Jacoby, legal immigrants and Americans won't do-- stretched out the door.

P.P.S.: Kausfiles--Solution-Oriented! Why doesn't Congress simply pass a moderate increase in the unskilled legal immigrant quota from Mexico (and other Latin American countries) while an effective enforcement system**** is devised and tested. No amnesty, no guest-worker program. Then, once we know we have an enforcement scheme that actually works--and won't be crippled by lawsuits--Congress could revisit a "comprehensive" legislation that includes amnesty.

**--How come she gets to violate the Hitler Rule with impunity? No fair. ...

***--For example, according to the NYTeven the "comprehensive" legislation expected to be proposed in the Senate would deny amnesty to immigrants who "arrived after a certain date, perhaps 2004 ... ." But would it let the feds actually enforce the law against them? They'll be mostly Hispanics. It will look bad!

****--Including, I'd argue, the border fence Congress authorized last year. ... [Some links via The Corner] 12:59 A.M. link

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mo' bama: The kf enthusiasts commenting over at MatthewYglesias.com have a point, in that last week's skeptical Obama item  conflated two issues:

1) Has Obama grappled seriously and smartly with the big questions of the day; and

2) Has he, in the course of this grappling, told Dems something they don't want to hear, or demonstrated independence from Dem interest groups that enforce the party's line in unfortunate ways (e.g., teachers' unions impeding education reform, seniors unwilling to accept any Social Security cuts, populists who pretend bargaining-down drug prices will largely solve the problem of health-care costs, etc.).

You'd hope that even Dems who don't agree with the DLC-ish sentiments behind #2 would insist on #1. But, yes, Obama could do #1 without #2.

Has he done that? A few weeks ago, Obsidian Wings catalogued Obama's "wonky" efforts.** He's against loose nukes, avian flu and unregulated genetic testing! That's impressive, but follows a standard good-Senator's path of picking off a chewable, discrete problem and pushing a rifle-shot, programmatic solution (typically involving creation of a small new federal office to control nukes, prepare for avian flu, or establish gene-testing standards, etc.). It's not the same thing as confronting deeper, bigger, less easily addressed problems: How to structure the health care system, how to pay for entitlements, how to confront the terror threat, the rise of China, the problems of trade and immigration, the increase in income inequality at the top.

Josh Gerstein of the N.Y. Sun makes a better case: Obama listens to Samantha Power and Susan Rice on human rights, Gerstein reports. He wants to talk to Iran, he discounts the Chinese military threat but surprisingly, for an early  Iraq war opponent, he has said he'd favor "launching some missile strikes into Iran" if that was the only way to stop "having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons." (Does Iowa know this?) He's unpredictable as well on trade. What's less clear is whether that unpredictability reflects a developed world-view or ad-hockery that's fine in a Senator but in a president, not so much.

More talk on these issues, please. And no fair "transcending" them!

Unpredictablity of any sort is a plus when it comes to #2, of course. But so far Obama isn't close to meeting the Joe Klein Piss-Someone-Off Test, despite the efforts of his press boosters to claim he has. Tom Maguire points toa comical attempt by the New York Times, where a mini-profile by Jefff Zeleny declared:

He has demonstrated an occasional willingness to break from liberal orthodoxy, including his vote to confirm Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, which at the time infuriated liberals (13 Democrats opposed her).

Wow! As Maguire notes: "So Obama boldly stood with a mere 86 fellow Senators .... "  P.S.: What's the word for trumped-up contrarianism? Sister Fauxjah? ...

**--Thanks to commenter "Trevor" on bloggingheadsfor the link. 2:08 P.M. link

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On to New Hampshire! The mighty Hillary juggernaut closes its vise-like grip on the post of Senate Majority Leader. A Concord Monitor poll shows the same weakness as last week's survey from Iowa. RCP summarizes:

Just like in Iowa, Hillary loses to Rudy and McCain but beats Romney. And just like in Iowa, Obama beats them all. Edwards doesn't run as strong in New Hampshire as in Iowa - no surprise there - but he still manages a dead heat against McCain and Giuliani and handily beats Romney. So even though Hillary is clinging to a lead at the top of the field, she's once again giving off the "unelectable" vibe in comparison to her two most serious primary challengers. [E.A.]

P.S.: In light of these poll results, doesn't Dick Morris' theory--that if Obama now doesn't run he'll have done Hillary a favor by clearing the field--have a couple of holes: 1) Obama hasn't cleared Edwards out; and 2) If Obama decides not to run early next year, and Hillary's still this weak, there will be plenty of time for new challengers to jump in. ... P.P.S.: Why does Massachusetts' governor Mitt Romney do so poorly in 'neighboring New Hampshire'? 12:32 P.M. link

Hollywood Hates Obama? Juan Williams on Fox:

The question now is does Obama have any hope of raising money? I don't think he'll raise it out of the New York people, I don't think he's going to raise it out the Hollywood people, so where's the money going to come from for Barack Obama? [E.A.]

That's right, a charismatic black Iraq war opponent has  no appeal  out here! As always, the entertainment community demands more policy details! ... P.S.: Hello? Juan? You're making Lawrence O'Donnell  look like Edgar Cayce! "Hollywood people" will obviously swoon for Obama at least as easily as any other Democratic constituency. ... P.P.S.: Remember when Joe Lieberman was briefly said to be through, after his primary loss, because he wasn't going to be able to raise money? 12:53 A.M. link

kf's First Law of Journalism, Rigorously Applied: If, as Lawrence Kudlow claims, "the Fed has vanquished inflation," why do all the fancy restaurants that used  to cost $75 for two now routinely top $100? When the rich-who-are-getting-richer bid up prices, doesn't that count? Just asking. ...  P.S.: The food I've gotten for $100 seemed to taste better than the old $75 food. Maybe the statisticians take that into account. ... Update: Alert reader G.J. suggests fancy restaurants are simply victims of Baumol's Disease--they're a labor intensive business that's seen few gains in productivity. But in the rest of the economy productivity improvements could still be driving down prices. Good point. ...  12:15 A.M. link

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Clintonoia Breakdown: Isn't Samuel "Sandy" Berger's explanation for why he snuck classified documents out of the National Archives entirely plausible? Haven't you ever been in a library, reading non-circulating material in an uncomfortable chair under harsh lighting--all the while thinking you could just make sense of it if you could take it home and review it in more familiar surroundings? I faced this dilemma quite frequently at college and law school, and on more than one occasion my reaction was to stuff the papers in my backpack and smuggle them back to my dorm.**  You never did that?  ...

Sure, the Inspector General's report on Berger's misconduct--obtained and released by Pajamas Media--raises lots of potential questions, some of which are listed by the Pajamas editors here  and the Powerliners here. And I yield to noone when it comes to paranoia about possible extralegal skullduggery in the Clinton administration! Well, I yield to only a few. (My bona fides.)  It could be Berger was trying to destroy all copies of an early 2000 email that said "Al Qaeda, al Schmaeda. What could they ever do to us?"  But if you read through the IG report in a non-paranoid mood and look for facts that are at odds with Berger's plausible 'I-wanted-to-sort-out-this-stuff-at-home explanation,' you won't find much.

I did notice one jarring fact: When Berger is given a second copy of an email he's already taken home--#217--he takes that copy home too. That makes it look like he wanted to remove all copies of #217. But it's also consistent with the familiar last-minute-crammer's habit of wanting to make sure you've scooped up every little bit of material to study during the impending all-nighter. As long as you're stealing stuff, you might as well be comprehensive. Maybe Berger (as he apparently claims) wasn't certain the two copies of #217 were identical.

Meanwhile, in Berger's defense, we learn from the report that he read the documents in an office with an archives employee who was doing his own work, and whom Berger was reluctant to bother. Sounds like exactly the sort of arrangement that would stop me from getting any productive thinking done. Bad Feng Shui! Couple that with a)  the requirement that Berger couldn't even remove his own notes from this room and b) Berger's almost certain knowledge that many of the documents subject to these maddening regulations probably shouldn't really be classified in the first place, and you might easily conclude that the IG report does more to back up than to cast doubt on Berger's non-sinister explanation.

**--Admittedly, I didn't then cut them up and put them in the trash. But then, unlike Berger, I wasn't caught before I returned them. 10:51 P.M. link

D____ Cab for Cutie: The car that most impressed me, during my recent Gearbox phase, was the Scion Xb, which only recently went out of production. Perfectly-sized for the city, inexpensive, reliable, handles well, holds a lot, leaves a light footprint on the planet.  But jeez, before you buy one, take a look at this picture. Grim! [via Autoblog] 5:33 P.M. link

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thanks, Iowa? Hillary's big Iowa problem. She's running a strong fourth with 10%! ... P.S.: She can't blame lack of "name recognition." [Time for the contest to write her withdrawal speech?--ed We wouldn't want somebody else to steal that gimmick! But there's one way to guarantee that she won't need a withdrawal speech--if she decides not to risk a run that might end in humiliating primary defeat. She doesn't seem like the type who'd handle that well.] ... Caveat: Hillary can always note that Iowa Democratic voters are proven fools. ...  3:28 P.M.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Obama-- He's no Gary Hart! ... 1:08 A.M

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is that a photo  of Rick Stengel or the Madame Tussauds installation of Rick Stengel?  12:35 A.M.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Obama Problem: After reading up a bit on Barack Obama for a temporarily-aborted bloggingheads segment, my tentative working thesis is this: He's too damn reflective! And introspective. ... Maybe it's the writers, or the questions they ask, or the audience they think  they're writing for, but all the drama in the stories about Obama  comes from his "emotional wrestling match with his background,"  his overcoming of his "angry sense of racial displacement," his wrenching assessments and reassessments of how to live in "a world that is broken apart by class and race and nationality," etc.

One of those reassessments, according to Obama, came when a friend told him "you always think everything's about you." And he doesn't any more? Obama's favorite complexity still seems to be Obama--it was certainly a subtext of his 2004 convention address. ("We worship an awesome God in the blue states"). At the end of his early Obama profile, my boss Jacob Weisberg says Obama "would never be so immodest" as to compare himself to Lincoln. But a dozen paragraphs earlier, Obama had done just that:

"That kind of hunger—desperate to win, please, succeed, dominate—I don't know any politician who doesn't have some of that reptilian side to him. But that's not the dominant part of me. On the other hand, I don't know that it was the dominant part of—" his voice suddenly trails off as he motions behind him to a portrait of Lincoln, the self-invented lawyer, writer, and politician from Illinois. "This guy was pretty reflective," he says, offering a sly smile.

I'm a "character" voter, not an "issues" voter. But the way you reveal your character is by grappling with issues, not by grappling with yourself. Anguish is easy. Isn't it time for Obama to start being ostentatiously reflective about policies? That's what you want from a Harvard Law Review type.

And on the issues, what's Obama done that's original or pathbreaking? I don't know the answer. But compare his big speech on immigration reform with failed Dem Senate candidate Brad Carson's article on immigration reform. Carson says things Democrats (and Republicans) haven't been saying; Obama's speech offers an idiosyncratic veneer of  reasonableness over a policy that is utterly party line and conventional, defended with arguments that are party line and conventional.

OK, that's just one example. Maybe I'm an old-fashioned Joe Kleinish Clintonian self-hating Dem. But I'm not swooning until I hear Obama to tell Democrats something they maybe don't want to hear. Did I miss it?  12:21 A.M. link

Monday, December 18, 2006

Shane MacGowan of the Pogues on Kirsty MacColl, who was killed six years ago yesterday, and their song Fairytale of New York, which won a 2004 poll for best Christmas song. [via Gawker] ... My nominee for best Christmas song is something I've only heard once, The Wedding Present's ecstatically noisy version of "Step Into Christmas." ... P.S.: OK, I've now heard it twice. (It's here.) I stand by my position. ... 8:52 P.M.

And Johnson Walks? So Fannie Mae ex-CEO Franklin Raines may have to give back $84 million in bonuses he received from 1998 to 2004, while his predecessor Dem bigshot Jim Johnson--who apparently  got a bigger bonus than Raines did in 1998--doesn't have to give back anything? Hardly seems fair. ... P.S.: Johnson at one point had parlayed his position at the head of the Fannie Mae gravy train into the chairmanship of the Kennedy Center and the otherwise-reputable Brookings Institution. ... Yet even the conservative N.Y. Sun seems to have forgotten that Johnson, who also headed John Kerry's vice-presidential search, is involved in this mess. ... P.P.S.:  Here's my attempt to assess Raines' relative guilt or innocence. ... In any case, if Raines had taken kausfiles' 2004 advice--'give the money back now!'--he'd be better off, no? He could be the Tara Conner of overpaid CEOs! And he'd still have a political future. ... 7:15 P.M.

If Judith Regan lawyer Bert Fields' bite were as fearsome as his bark, wouldn't Susan Estrich own the L.A. Times? Just asking! ... 7:14 P.M.

Y.U.: William Beutler, eerily prescient. ... He claims Time magazine is just preternaturally predictable. [via Surber4:23 P.M.

"I am not in favor of doing that unless it's part of a larger plan," Clinton said. "I am not in favor of sending more troops to continue what our men and women have been told to do with the government of Iraq pulling the rug out from under them when they actually go after some of the bad guys." [E.A.]

Note to WCBS: This does not support the headline "Clinton Opposes U.S. Troop Surge In Iraq." It supports the headline "Clinton Fudges on U.S. Troop Surge in Iraq." On balance, I'd even say it's more supportive than not--any troop surge will clearly be presented as part of a "larger plan," after all. Clinton didn't even say, as Sen. Harry Reid did, that the "plan" has to include "a program to get us out of there ... by this time next year." .... 11:46 P.M.

"Are social conservatives stuck with a pro-golden shower candidate?" Ryan Lizza  goes into the hilarious details of Mitt Romney's not-so-long-ago tolerance of Bay State gay activism. ... What's shaping up, Lizza notes, is a battle between cynical inside-the-Beltway conservative pros who are willing to overlook Romney's "pro-gay, pro-abortion record" because "they need an anti-McCain," and actual outside-the-Beltway social conservative voters who might be horrified by state-sponsored fisting seminars and "Transgender Proms." ... P.S.:  Instead of trying to persuade social conservatives he's been secretly battling for them all along, wouldn't Romney be better off playing the conversion card? 'Nobody knows the evil of golden showers better than someone who ...,' etc., etc.. I would think it would pack a convincing frisson. ... 11:13 A.M.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Breast Cancer Rates Fallas Women Abandon Hormone Replacement Therapy. ... Moral: Don't get your medical advice from The New Yorker. ... 11:29 P.M.

Warner rethink: OK, that's enough time with my children! ... And if the need for family time is not the big reason why Mark Warner dropped out, as  rumor says it wasn't, what made him change his mind? ... Seems like there must be a story here, though maybe not the kind of story that ever comes out (except in novels). ... [via HuffPo via Goddard9:53 P.M.

Mohammed of Iraq the Model is cautiously non-pessimistic about the creation of an anti-Sadr majority coalition in Iraq, but doesn't expect it to move militarily against Sadr. ... Juan Cole, who's been right about Sadr before, argues that any military move will backfire:

The fact is that if provincial elections were held today, the Sadr Movement would sweep to power in all the Shiite provinces (with the possible exception of Najaf itself). It is increasingly the most popular political party among Iraq's Shiite majority. For the US to cut the Sadrists out of power in parliament and then fall on them militarily would just throw Iraq into turmoil. It would increase the popularity of the Sadrists, and ensure that they gain nationalist credentials that will ensconce them for perhaps decades.. ...

Neither thinks al-Maliki will be replaced as prime minister. ... 9:41 P.M.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

First Mark Warner, now Evan Bayh. The solid centrist Dem alternatives to Hillary are dropping out, one by one. Funny how that happens! ... 11:46 P.M.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Malkin and Alterman--Together Again: Lt. Col. Bateman's post on Media Matters ' Altercation--disputing Associated Press in the ongoing controversy over the alleged burning of six Sunnis in Baghdad--seems quite damning.  Eric Boehlert's response--'Hey, I'm not defending the AP on this, just attacking the AP's attackers!'--seems quite weak. And Boehlert, while blasting "unhinged" warbloggers, comes unhinged himself, I think, when in his  original, near interminable article  he writes:

I don't think it's out of bounds to suggest that warbloggers want journalists to venture into exceedingly dangerous sections of Iraq because warbloggers want journalists to get killed.

[via Malkin] ... Update: But see ... 4:44 P.M.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fading Reyes? Hmmm. Looks like that big fight over the chairmanship of the House Intelligence committee was a fight over a committee that will soon lose--or at least have to share--a big chunk of its turf. ... It wasn't because of  the quiz, was it? ... 1:20 P.M.

Di Bug Bust: That official police report  on Diana's death appears to be a bust, as far as alleging spying by the Clinton Administration on Republican magnate Ted Forstmann. Byron York:

[T]he Lord Stevens report contains no mention of Forstmann and no description of anyone like him, nor does it have any evidence that anything like the Forstmann scenario took place. [E.A.]

But the U.S. may have caught Diana talking about hairstyles with her friend Lucia Flecha de Lima! (The report speculates they would have been overheard because we were eavesdropping on the Brazilian embassy in D.C.). ...

P.S.--Keeping Hope Alive: I should also note, at the risk of sounding like a raving conspiracist, that the Stevens report doesn't seem to say anything that would rule out a U.S. a bugging of Forstmann that turned up conversations with or about Diana**--though to be consistent with the NSA's account they would have to be "only short references to Princess Diana in contexts unrelated to the allegations" about her death being the result of a conspiracy. It's just that the Stevens report was what was supposed to substantiate the Forstmann angle, and it doesn't. It's not like there is a lot of other evidence for the Forstmann-bug scenario--unless the credibility-challenged Brit papers can produce some. ...

Still! Diana's apparently famous July 14, 1997 statement to the press--

"You're going to get a big surprise, you'll see, you're going to get a big surprise with the next thing I do"

does seem a lot more consistent with future plans  to hook up with a rich U.S. Republican who would run for president  than with plans to marry Dodi Al Fayed--whom, the report says, she hadn't yet met "that summer," doesn't it?

**--From WaPo:

[NSA official Louis] Giles said the NSA would not share the documents with investigators on grounds their disclosure could reveal secret intelligence sources and methods. Nor did Giles reveal whose conversations were being targeted by the NSA.

12:07 P.M. link

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bloggingheads bring sexy back! ... Plus Matt Yglesias does his best Muqtada al-Sadr impression. ... 5:32 P.M.

The Note writes that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is "looking for ways to sharpen his differences with McCain on immigration." That shouldn't be hard! ... Here comes one now. ... 4:58 P.M.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is it possible those British press reports are completely wrong about the bugging of Ted Forstmann and Diana? (See below.)  Thursday's publication of the official Scotland Yard report on Diana's death should be near-definitive on the issue, since the Brit papers are supposedly merely offering leaks from that report. But, according to today's New York Daily News, Forstmann thought he was bugged:

A source close to Forstmann told the Daily News yesterday that Diana may have been overheard while traveling with Forstmann on his private plane, which Forstmann believed was bugged by the feds to listen in on his rich and powerful friends. [E.A.]

Note that the Washington Post's Source Close to Forstmann--who seems to know things only Forstmann himself would know--only says that "he had heard rumors that someone had planted listening devices in his plane to listen to the princess," not to listen generally to Forstmann's rich and powerful friends. Of course, targetting the princess is exactly what the Feds are busy denying. Which leaves open ... [via Drudge12:44 P.M. 

Monday, December 11, 2006

They're restoring the Triforium, mighty symbol of L.A.'s "interdependence" and faith in the future! New York has nothing to match it. ...10:02. P.M.

The Brit papers are breaking the story that the Clinton-administration "secret service"** secretly bugged Princess Diana "over her relationship with a US billionaire" Ted Forstmann. Initial questions: What was the grave high-level concern about Forstmann, a big-deal investor, Republican, and education activist? ... What, were they worried Diana might endorse school choice?*** ... And did they have a warrant? ... Plus, of course: What did the Clintons know, etc.?... Intriguingly, Forstmann once made noises about running against Hillary Clinton in 2000. ... ***KEY UPDATE*** Even better, according to a September 15 , 2006 New York Daily News story [via NEXIS]:

CLAIMS THAT Princess Diana dreamed of moving into the White House as America's First Lady were confirmed yesterday by a source close to the politically minded mogul she hoped would take her there.

"It is true," said a source close to Manhattan financier Teddy Forstmann, who considered running as a Republican in the 2000 Senate race.

In his new book, the late princess' butler said she had hoped to marry a New York billionaire and fantasized he would make her the new Jackie Kennedy.

"Imagine, Paul, me coming to England as First Lady on a state visit with the President and staying at Buckingham Palace," remembered her former butler, Paul Burrell, in a book published this week.

Though Burrell doesn't name the mogul in his book, "The Way We Were," his description of a silver-haired bachelor matches Forstmann, who was linked to the Princess in 1994.

"The late princess was very interested in Ted. She was attracted by his philanthropy and his work with children's charities, and by his political aspirations," the source said."

She was excited at the prospect of going to the White House with him. Exactly what you read [in Burrell's book] is accurate."

Wow. I guess there's no way Hillary and Bill would be interested in what Forstmann and Diana were saying to each other, is there? ... See also. ...[via Drudge ] ...

Update: Carefully worded U.S. denials here. ...

More: The NSA is "working on a statement"! ...

**--Alert reader K.M. notes that the British papers do not capitalize "secret service," suggesting that they may be referring not to the actual Secret Service but to any one of a number of secretive U.S. snooping agencies (CIA, NSA, DIA, etc.). That puts the capitalized statement of an unnamed U.S. Homeland Security official--"The Secret Service had nothing to do with it”--into perspective. ...

***-- ABC  and CBS  suggest Diana was of interest to the U.S. because of her campaign against land mines. I'm still pushing the school choice angle. The N.E.A. is a very powerful lobby! ...

More:kf readers are demanding a Ron Burkle angle. There is a connection! Burkle and Forstmann appear to have been principal contributors to the same low-income scholarship fund  in the '90s. The rest is all too obvious, don't you think? ... [Thks to reader S.S.]  ... Say Anything goes with the "school vouchers"  explanation. Yes!

Meanwhile: WaPo's Sullivan and Pincus do their best to calm everyone down, reporting the denials of the NSA (which seems to be restricted to "NSA originated and NSA controlled documents")  and the CIA ("rubbish")--denials that are hard to interpret as decisively refuting the "Di-was-bugged" leaks from the British inquest, as reported by at least three British papers. True, they're British papers ... but still! The official British report is scheduled to be made public on Thursday. ... Sullivan and Pincus also assure us there "was never a romantic relationship between" Diana and Forstmann. (So they talked to Forstmann?) And they make it sound as if the "security" problem was simply that the Brits didn't want Diana's sons, the heirs to the throne, staying at a rented house in the Hamptons.  But that would seem to explain the bugging only if Diana was its "target," which is exactly what the NSA now denies. Assuming there was bugging, of course! ... Bonus question: Do Sullivan and Pincus have NEXIS? How about Google? You would think they'd at least get their Forstmann "source" to comment on the Sept. 15 Daily News story about Forstmann's White House ambitions (and Diana's ambitions to accompany him) ...

Lucianne: "Could Di and Teddy Forstmann have been looking for mines in the Hampton dunes ..."

Loose End: How did the Brits find out about the decade-old spying, if there was spying? Wouldn't the U.S. government have to tell them? But why would the Bush administration want to possibly make public this info ... oh, right.

Coincidence? In the news this very day:"Hillary delays decision on 2008 bid" .... OK, I agree. Now I am going mad. ...

12/12 Update: Byron York discusses whether, if the Brit stories are true, the Clintonites coulda, shoulda, woulda gotten a warrant--but he notes "British press accounts can be notoriously unreliable." ... 10:27 P.M. link

Did the pessimistic Tom Ricks get it wrong  about Ramadi? That's what a less-pessimistic  Michael Fumento says, and he seems to have a point (though WaPo's latest piece from Ramadi isn't quite as "upbeat" as I'd expected after reading Fumento's blog.). ... [via Insta12:07 A.M.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Was that such a "dressing down" that Robert Rubin got from the Dobbsy Democratic House caucus? Republican Influence Peddler says it was, echoing hortatory spin  from Dem populist David Sirota  ("a VERY encouraging sign for progressives") that's so flimsy even Sirota's vaguely embarrassed by it. ... Was an incoming Indiana Democrat with a Delphi plant in his district not going to ask Rubin about outsourcing? That seems like a normal question Rubin has to be prepared to answer. ... If Sirota really is this gullible--impressed with standard Congressional posturing--maybe it will be easier to thwart the resurgent House "progressives" than it seemed a month ago. ... 11:38 P.M.

O.K., everybody gang up on Mookie! A crude summary of the latest Iraq gambit. Makes a certain amount of sense, no? a) Sadr's Mahdi Army seems to be behind much of the anti-Sunni sectarian   thuggery; b) the Shiite Badr brigades are Sadr's rivals; and c) perhaps Iran, if it's really worried about Iraqi instability, could help persuade the Badr forces to assist in stopping the anti-Sunni cleansing. ... Add: And of course the U.S. forces are now  itching to go after Sadr, according to Bing West. ... But kausfiles awaits the judgment of others  who know more. ... 10:37 P.M.

The Case Against Opinion Journalism: Here's the Los Angeles Times' front page headline  over Tracy Wilkinson's Dec. 2 story on the Pope's visit to Turkey--

Pontiff strikes right tone

Is that a fact? Isn't there anyone who thinks it was the wrong tone? I always knew that when the LAT finally abandoned objective journalism and started flinging around words like "right" and "wrong" it would be in order to promote only the most pompous, CFR-approved positions. Just because it's opinion journalism doesn't mean it's interesting! ... P.S.: Did I miss something--did  Eli Broad buy the paper already?  [Tks to reader G.M.] ...

Update--How Much Wood Can a Twit Chop? L.A. Observed has a good example of the dead hand of the LAT's hed writers, compared with Valley rival Daily News. Here are the heds each paper ran after UCLA's stunning football upset of USC:

BRUINED!

--L.A. Daily News

This USC story ends without a title

--L.A. Times

Pathetic.  Can the Tribune Company at least lay the guy that wrote that off? ... All the Times is missing is "study says." 9:55 P.M.

Harman: Looking Better and Better I recently thought I was too ignorant to appear on bloggingheads. That could still be true! But I guess I couldn't possibly be too ignorant to chair the House Intelligence Committee. ... [via IPvia Captain's Quarters9:28 P.M.

I am so not excited about Windows Vista! ... And I was excited about Windows XP, because I thought its sturdier code would stop it from crashing. I was wrong, at least for the early version of XP that I bought. Now I can't see a thing Vista's going to do for me that seems worth braving the inevitable Microsoft early teething problems. [It says you can "spend more time surfing the web"!--ed No I can't.] ... P.S.: Needless to say, if everyone has this attitude Vista (and the need to buy new computers powerful enough to run Vista, etc.) won't provide much of a boost to the economy. ... 9:08 P.M. link

Welcome, Hammer readers! 6:13 P.M.

The Cheese Stands Alone: John Kerry's "open ends" are not like other Dem candidates' open ends. ... 6:00 P.M.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

The Full Kirkpatrick**: Bing West argues the consequence of a failure by the Maliki government won't be partition, as suggested below, but a "power play by a fed-up Iraqi military." In other words, a coup. ... Interestingly, he also argues the practice of embedding U.S. advisers in Iraqi army units might work because:

Currently, the [Iraqi] army has more allegiance to their advisers than to their government. The advisers are the ones who drive to Baghdad and wrest pay and food provisions from recalcitrant government ministries.

So would it be a coup that our advisers (however reluctantly) go along with? (One that they are actively trying to forestall at the moment?) More important, would it really be a non-sectarian coup, on behalf of a unitary Iraq? And would it stick, given Iraq's centrifugal forces? Or would the Iraqi Army become just another side in a many-sided civil war?

**--Named for Jeane Kirkpatrick,  defender of "authoritarian" second-best governments, who died Thursday. ... 1:01 P.M.

Looks like the low-turnout, play-to-the-base model of off-year elections--which has failed in the past three Congressional midterms-- doesn't work in Iran either!12:26 P.M.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Moral of the story: Just when Democratic populists have yelled themselves hoarse about how the growing economy isn't raising wages at the bottom, the growing economy starts raising wages at the bottom. It takes a while!** The point for worker-friendly Democrats should be to keep the tight labor market going (by keeping the economy going and avoiding a big influx of immigrant labor). ...

**--As the graphs accompanying the NYT's story makes clear, Clinton's economic boom didn't begin to produce significant wage growth for about three years, until Clinton's second term. The Bush-era lag has maybe been a little longer--but then, the Clinton boom was in part a bubble. One hopes the current semi-boom isn't. 9:54 P.M.

Ssst-pay! Artition-Pay!I opened up the Iraq Study Group report expecting to find a devastating, point-by-point critique of the Biden-Galbraith partition idea, which has been looking increasingly plausible from my remote non-expert (even semi- ignorant) vantage point.  Instead I found a couple of cursory paragraphs that, ultimately, seemed half-resigned to partition. Here they are:

4. Devolution to Three Regions

The costs associated with devolving Iraq into three semiautonomous regions with loose central control would be too high. Because Iraq's population is not neatly separated, regional boundaries cannot be easily drawn. All eighteen Iraqi provinces have mixed populations, as do Baghdad and most other major cities in Iraq. A rapid devolution could result in mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions. Iraqis, particularly Sunni Arabs, told us that such a division would confirm wider fears across the Arab world that the United States invaded Iraq to weaken a strong Arab state.

While such devolution is a possible consequence of continued instability in Iraq, we do not believe the United States should support this course as a policy goal or impose this outcome on the Iraqi state. If events were to move irreversibly in this direction, the United States should manage the situation to ameliorate humanitarian consequences, contain the spread of violence, and minimize regional instability. The United States should support as much as possible central control by governmental authorities in Baghdad, particularly on the question of oil revenues. [E.A.]

Hmm. Why not proceed directly to the stage where we "ameliorate humanitarian consequences, contain the spread of violence. and minimize regional instability"? That's beginning to seem a lot more do-able than continuing to prop up a weak (and sectarian) unitary government ....

Compare Galbraith (pro-partition) with Aslan (anti-partition).  If Aslan's strategies for maintaining a unitary Iraq--giving "security" priority over anti-terrorist offensives, reaching a "political settlement" with the Sunnis, etc.--had a good chance of working, wouldn't we see them working by now? I have little confidence that threatening withdrawal  of U.S. forces will provoke the Shiite-led government to make the self-denying adjustments they are avoiding now. It's worth a shot, but isn't it more likely to prompt the various parties to arm themselves to the teeth further in anticipation of a post-American free-for-all, as Fareed Zakaria suggests? And will further training of the Iraqi military establish security or only "[produce] more lethal combatants in the country's internecine conflict," in Galbraith's words? ...

I understand the Sunnis don't want partition, to which possible answers are: 1) With partition they could have their own army, and as long as it didn't harbor anti-US terrorists or start slaughtering civilians we wouldn't clobber it; 2) The Sunnis don't have oil, but as I understand it they do have water, so they aren't without a bargaining chip; 3) We could intervene if necessary on their behalf; 4) The Syrians could intervene on a diplomatic level (e.g. with Iran) on their behalf; and 5) Screw 'em. ... 

Just thinking. Not my area of expertise. Or personal moral   burden! ... P.S.: The most appealing aspect of partition, perhaps illusory, is that it's non-Sisyphean: it would give our forces a seemingly concrete, plausible goal to shoot for, after which they can expect to leave and the three well-armed statelets can go about defending themselves. ...

It's also possible, of course, that as soon as it became clear that this was our goal, the Sunnis and Shiites would start all-out violent cleansing in the hope of maximizing territory and leverage (e.g. de facto hostage taking). So maybe we can't declare for partition "as a policy goal" right now. At the moment, it may be best to a) discreetely encourage--e.g. , with financial incentives-- threatened populations to move, rather than urge them to stay put, and b) plan for the inevitable (something the Bush administration can never be assumed to be doing). If the ISG report is any indication, the inevitable is where we're heading. ...   5:51 P.M. link

Garance Franke-Ruta discovers  John Kerry's secret wellspring of presidential support! ... [via Blogometer] 3:13 P.M.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Big Woof: Democratic New Mexico Governor (and presidential aspirant) Bill Richardson locks up another important Western state ... the state of Chihuahua!

"The [700-mile border] fence is very unpopular on the border in Texas and New Mexico, in Chihuahua," Richardson, a Democrat, said after meeting Wednesday with leaders from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. "So one of the most significant and constructive acts the U.S. Congress should take is to get rid of it."

[Isn't this the sort of Know-Nothing, xenophobic rhetoric I've warned you about?--ed On most issues American and Mexican interests align. We want Mexico to prosper; it's a non-zero-sum game; Mexico is on balance one of the better neighbors we could have, etc. But that doesn't mean our national interests don't sometimes conflict, and the border fence seems like at least one place they do, at least potentially. It's pretty tin-eared, then, to announce your opposition to the fence from Mexico. Unless, that is, you're trying to appeal to ... What?-ed. Never mind. I just felt some more Know-Nothing, xenophobic rhetoric coming on.] 8:36 P.M.

"In a free society in what is the greatest democracy in the world, I don't believe it's proper to put pressure on the media to please a particular Senate committee's view," Boxer said. [E.A.]

Huh? 1) How is Inhofe putting illegitimate "pressure" on the media? How would he do that? Doesn't he lose his chairman's power in the Senate in, like, a minute and a half? 2) Is Boxer saying politicians should never blast what they perceive as unfair media coverage, or single out particular reporters? In a "free society,"--let alone "a free society in what is the greatest democracy in the world"!--isn't the idea that everyone can criticize everyone? Even, you know, Miles O'Brien! ... Two years of Boxer will make Hillary Clinton sound like Will Rogers** ...

**--I'm looking for the opposite of shrill and bombastic here. [Update: Reader S.K. suggests "'The Dude' from 'The Big Lebowski.'" Having never seen The Big Lebowski, I don't know if he's on target.] 8:04 P.M.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

B & B Review: Brian Williams asks the tough questions about during his newscast's unctuous Iraq Study Group celebration:

"Are we at our best when our best and brightest get together and hammer out a problem like this?"

When did NBC Nightly News become such CW sludge? ... P.S.: Of all the public figures I got to interview (usually as part of a group) when I was an actual MSM journalist, one of the two or three least impressive--and certainly the most disappointing, given his rep--was Lee Hamilton. Maybe he was having a bad day, but even on topics about which he was supposed to be a leading expert, the man was not mentally agile. ... 9:26 P.M.

Checking in with ... visionary CNN leader Jonathan Klein! Who knew, when Klein declared he agreed  "wholeheartedly" with Jon Stewart's attack  on what Klein called "head-butting debate shows,"--and when he pledged to "report the news" and not "talk about the news"--that what he really meant to give us was Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace! ... Ah, but that's CNN Headline News, you say, not Regular Pure Hard News Opinion-Free CNN itself. They're totally separate!** For the moment that's true. But thanks to Klein's visionary leadership, Regular Pure CNN has gone from being the second place cable network to being the third  ... wait, make that occasionally fourth place cable network, behind a surging (opinionated) MSNBC and Head-Buttin' Headline News itself! ... If the "brash" head-butt format keeps delivering, how long before it infiltrates Regular Pure CNN? Sub-question: How much more expensive is it to produce Regular CNN than Headline News? Three times as much? Ten times? ... Bonus question: Whatever happened to storytelling?

**--Didn't they used to be synergistic? ... 9:05 P.M.

One-hour NBC Expense Account Special coming Dec. 26: "Tom Brokaw reports on the real story of illegal immigration" from the

pristine stretch between Aspen and Vail ....

Next summer: The trail of tears from Sag Harbor to Montauk! 5:56 P.M.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

"If Obama runs, he wins"--1 out of 4 will do? So Markos Moulitsas expects Obama to lose Iowa, lose Nevada, and lose New Hampshire--the first three Dem nominating contests--but he nevertheless declares Obama the "prohibitive favorite," if he runs, because he might win South Carolina? I'm not quite following kos' logic. Does Jerome Armstrong have a new client or something? ... [Thanks to S.S. ] 4:35 P.M.

Virtual Fence = Virtual Corruption? Speaker Pelosi's post- Hastings fallback choice to head the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, voted against building the 700 mile border fence. He prefers a system of video surveillance cameras, apparently. And gee, it seems that his daughter works for a firm that won a government contract to provide such surveillance services! What's more, according to WaPo's John Mintz (who broke the story) the firm did a really bad job.  TPM Muckraker summarizes:

In 1999, IMC [the firm in question] won the contract, worth over $200 million. And at the advice of the Immigration and Naturalization Service official who was managing the operation, the company hired Reyes' daughter, Rebecca Reyes, to be his liaison at the company, the Post reported.

IMC's performance on the program was so bad it verged on criminal, according to later investigations. Millions of dollars in overcharges were alleged, installation was so bad that some cameras never worked properly, and the entire exercise wasted money and "placed. . . national security at risk," according to a GSA inspector general report. [E.A.]

Those who feel that a CW-endorsed "virtual fence" will be as effective a Bush-era bureaucratic initiative as, say, training a new Iraqi police force or providing Karina relief will not be encouraged by the history of Reyes' project. ... Doesn't an actual, non-virtual fence offer sufficient opportunities for sleazy contracting? Or is it too cheap and effective? It would seem distressingly easy (from an incompetent contractor's point of view) for the press and public to look and see what portions of a non-virtual fence have actually been built (as opposed to which high-tech surveillance devices are actually working). ... P.S.: It would be nice to have some Gates-like oversight hearings at which Reyes could be grilled about this video-surveillance debacle. But of course Reyes is the overseer, not the overseen. ...[via Influence Peddler] 2:02 P.M. link

Friday, December 1, 2006

"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, Pollster.com'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

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