Paris Hilton's N-word escape

A mostly political Weblog.
March 12 2007 12:40 AM

Paris Hilton's N-Word Escape

Is she the only celeb who'll get away with it?

Who Killed Premiere? I blame the aptly-named David Pecker, who cut off its journalistic balls. Per the L.A. Times:

Peter Biskind, who spent a decade at Premiere as executive editor under founding editor Susan Lyne and went on to write bestselling books about Hollywood, such as "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," said one of the reasons the magazine was so good in its early days was because "we weren't beholden to the studios. That gave us a lot of freedom to do hard-hitting, in-depth reporting." ... [snip]

After Lyne's departure, [Chris] Connelly became editor in chief in early 1996, and [Nancy] Griffin was his deputy editor. But the two top editors abruptly resigned in May of that year after publisher Hachette Filipacchi's then president and chief executive, David Pecker, gave Connelly an order to kill Premiere's California Suite column about Planet Hollywood, a celebrity-themed restaurant chain that had ties to billionaire Revlon owner Ronald Perelman, who was half owner of Premiere.

The order was the last straw in a series of decisions that Connelly and Griffin felt compromised the integrity of the magazine.

These included a request to publish a picture of Revlon models in a page of Oscar party coverage and the placing of Perelman's then wife, Patricia Duff, on the masthead as editor at large. Pecker, in interviews at the time, denied the magazine was acting under any kind of pressure from Perelman. [E.A.]

After Connelly left, the publisher's idea was apparently to turn Premiere into more of a toothless fan mag. The failure of that approach is a small bit of evidence for the perennial readers-want-real-journalism argument--an argument I'd like to believe. ... By the time Premiere collapsed, of course, Pecker was off  pursuing  fresh failures. ... 8:07 P.M. link

Note that a Las Vegas Review-Journal's editorial--blasting the Democratic "netroots" for successfully pressuring Nevada Democrats to cancel Fox News' co-hosting of a Dem candidates' debate--essentially concedes and ratifies the (accurate) netroots view that Fox isn't "fair and balanced" but an organ of one side:

[F]ar-left Democrats have no comparable media outlet, nor any widespread national appeal, for their radical views ...[snip] So they attack their rivals' messenger with a reckless barrage of rhetoric that cuts down their own allies with friendly fire. [E.A.]

But isn't the Review-Journal right that it would have been smart for the Democrats to reach "conservatives and 'values' voters" by having Fox run their show? ... Update: Kevin at Bajillion suggests it's smarter to let Republicans stay in their self-deceiving Fox cocoon. ... 5:06 A.M. link

David Corn says the lies of which Lewis "Scooter" Libby  has now been convicted "didn't have anything to do with the election per se" because they began "11 months before the '04 presidential" vote.  Huh? People in the White House aren't thinking about a presidential election a year out? ... Corn seems to agree that Libby was protecting his boss, Vice President Cheney.  If Cheney had been dragged more directly into the Wilson/Plame story--even though it turned out that no law was violated--that could easily have cost the GOP ticket 1% of the vote in Ohio, no?  Libby did his job. ...  3:19 A.M. link

The ProudTradition of The AtlanticContinues! "Andrew@the atlantic.com sent you a link to content of interest,"says a recent message in my inbox.

"The sender also included this note:

Just for you, Faggot-Guy."

For the record: 1) I don't defend and haven't defended use of the ugly and offensive word "faggot." On Ann Coulter's remarks, I wrote that it's a "a toxic word that shouldn't have been used even in a joke--or anyway in that joke."  It's not a word I use or accept others using.  2) I've repeatedly and freely noted that I'm a friend of Coulter''s--see, e.g.. here and here and here  and here  and here.. ...P.S.: Boi fromTroy takes issue with Sullivan's claim to "know of no gay bars anywhere that exclude straight guys." ... 1:10 A.M. link

Friday, March 9, 2007

Consumer Reports' annual Auto Issue plots 10 years of reliability data for the major manufacturers. All three Detroit makers have significantly worse records than Toyota (#1 for the ten years) and Honda (#2). But you knew that. The news is that one of Detroit's Big Three did significantly better over the long run than the other two. "Ford had fewer problems than Chrysler and GM for 3-year old and older vehicles." Indeed, Ford fell about halfway between its Detroit rivals (GM and Chrysler, essentially tied near the bottom) and Honda. ... GM's Bob Lutz predicts that one of the Big Three will disappear  soon, and that it won't be GM. Between Ford and Chrysler, I now know which one I'd pick to survive. ... 3:09 A.M. 

N-Word Escape: Bob Wright boasts about our society's successful stigmatization of the so-called "n-word"--we not only don't use it, but shame those who use it  and don't respect or associate with them (and maybe also don't associate with the people who do associate with them). But this formidable stigmatization machine has broken down shockingly** in the case of Paris Hilton. ...

**--rare non-ironic use of "shockingly." 1:58 A.M.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Andrew Sullivan has reached back beyond NEXIS to find an article I wrote in 1985** on Barney's Beanery, a West Hollywood hangout (made famous in an Edward Kienholz sculpture). It's the first piece I wrote that I came to believe was wrong very shortly after publishing. It's the piece I discussed in this post from 2003, during the Gregg Easterbrook/ESPN controversy:

What was he thinking when he made this moral error? I suspect he was thinking, "Hey, here's a neat argument. This will work." That's what I was thinking many years ago when I made a similar error, also in The New Republic. It embarrasses me now: I wrote that discrimination against homosexuals in West Hollywood bars was less outrageous than, say, discrimination against blacks in the South, because homosexuals in West Hollywood had acquired money and power. Neat argument, huh? Sort of leftish! After the piece was printed, one of TNR's top editors let me know he thought the argument was offensive, and I realized after some resistance that he was right. I wasn't fired, though. I was busted and I learned something. That's what's supposed to happen. (See Jeff Jarvis.)

It's also the piece alluded to here  (in point #1). The "top editor" who told me he didn't like it was Marty Peretz.  A good thing about Marty, I learned, is that you never have to worry that he's secretly mad at you. ... Aside from this one piece, of course, everything I've written has been right. ... P.S.: Andrew claims to "know of no gay bars anywhere that exclude straight guys. We have no issues with straight guys." But if I recall there was a big issue in West Hollywood with gay men's bars discriminating against women. ...

Correction: Originally said 1983, following Sullivan. Always a mistake! ...2:11 P.M. link

Bob Wright's point of maximum rage at me over my (not very effective) attempt to calibrate his condemnation of Ann Coulter comes right about here in our latest bloggingheads session. ... A dark secret about my friendship with Coulter is also revealed. ... 3:52 A.M.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Vet War: Bill Richardson's defenses against those "so far ... unfounded"  rumors:

1) "I shake hands a lot." (He just wants to connect to people!)

2) He was "vetted," in 2004, by the same man   responsible  for vetting   Fannie Mae's books!

Actually, it's more that Richardson says he was told he was vetted. ... He was also told he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics! ...[via Lucianne] 9:26 P.M.

Aha!

"As celebrities go, the jury favorite seems to be NPR's Nina Totenberg"

--Libby Juror #9 Denis Collins' account on HuffPo.

11:54 A.M.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A McLuhan for Our Time: Bob Kuttner boldy predicts that "in twenty-five years [newspapers] will be mostly digital." Wow. Apparently they are making some sort of transition to the Internet. This is why we need CJR. ... Why not fifty years? Or seventy-five? I guess there's no glory if you don't take risks! [He says "mostly"--ed That helps.] ... P.S.: Kuttner doesn't add much on the main issue, which is whether web-based papers can ever hope to generate enough ad revenue to fund the expensive reportorial functions formerly generated by print revenue. It's not looking good at the moment, is it?  11:50 P.M.

Here's Andrew Sullivan on "f-----" in 2001, basically saying what Ann Coulter says now:

There are similar problems with the term 'faggot.' In his early days, Eminem said he had nothing against gay people, just faggots. Just as not all gay men were faggots, not all black guys are niggers. The question is whether this is one step toward enlightenment or one step back toward bigotry. I'm inclined to think that, in the younger generation, the use of such terms need not be prima facie case of prejudice. It's quite common, for example, for high school kids to use the word 'gay' to describe anything they don't particularly like. It has no tangible reference to homosexuals - although it hardly bespeaks acceptance. But in general, the use of the term now is far less ominous than it would have been ten years ago. So let the linguistic waves roll and the racial, post-racial epithets mount. And let old Klansmen like Byrd look before they mumble. [Emphasis added.]

Busted by John Tabin. ... P.S.: I think the 2001 Sullivan isn't quite priggish enough, actually. I come down somewhere in between the 2001 Sullivan and the 2007 Sullivan. Maybe 2003. ... But there's always 2008! ... 11:04 P.M. link

Kathryn Jean Lopez makes a good point about the much-maligned 1/2 Hour News Hour. ... 5:14 P.M.

Libby: O'Donnell, bizarrely,  right. Seth Stevenson, right. Kaus ... even more bizarrely ... right! .... P.S.: Impeach Cheney or impeach Russert? Arianna must choose! ... 5:13 P.M.

Eli Lake notes that Al Gore has pointedly not called for withdrawal from Iraq. .... Radar has rumors of discontent in the McCain camp, with "several aides" quitting. "They're imploding ..." a ""top Republican aide" tells Radar. "We're imploding" would be more powerful evidence. ... 10:27 A.M.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Oddest carefully-crafted sentence of the still-young week:

"So far, rumors of personal pecadilloes are unfounded."--David Brooks, writing favorably about Dem. presidential candidate Bill Richardson.

The rumors are either founded or not, right? That shouldn't change over time. But, as a Slate colleague says, a word like "unproved" would have been "more of a challenge than a reassurance." ...Kf 's tip for reporters and others hoping to help the pecadilloes make the ontological transition from unfounded to founded: Ask around at Cafe Milano, D.C. ... 10:11 P.M.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Pushy Priuses: It used to be that Toyota Prius drivers were polite and methodical, almost Gandhiesque, as if they were trying to demonstrate the better world they sought. No more. As Priuses have proliferated from the do-gooder niche into the mainstream, their drivers have gotten as rude and aggressive as anyone else. Ruder, in my experience. I think they feel entitled because of their small carbon footprint. ... P.S.: And you can't hear them coming. ... 10:40 P.M. link

Not such a new Dem: Obama takes an important domestic policy position--no more transcending! Specifically, he pledges

"We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. ... We may have to wait for the next president to sign it, but we will get this thing done."

The idea of requiring a union, without a secret ballot election, if labor organizers can obtain a majority of "cards" from employees seems like both a big idea and a bad idea.(See below.) If Republicans were smart and confident, wouldn't they make a big deal of this--drag the debate in Congress out to give it more prominence, highlighting Obama's support for this change which (more than any tax cut) would alter the very texture of the economy? Voters--even many socially liberal peacenik voters--traditionally worry that if Dems gain full power they will a) serve their special interests and b) cripple American capitalism in a fit of leftish nostalgia. This bill legitimately triggers both fears. ...

P.S.: I don't think this is an endorsement Obama had to make for political reasons. As Dick Morris says, he's sitting pretty--he can be anything he wants to be. He could be a lot more Gary Hartish! He must want to be an old-fashioned unionizer. [But he has to win the Iowa caucuses, dominated by unions--ed Teachers' unions! They're already organized. They don't need no stinking card-check.** As for New Hampshire--look what the unions did for Mondale in 1984. ... And if Obama doesn't really believe in the card-check, wouldn't it still be smart for the GOPs to make him pay a price for selling out to the unions? That's a lot more important sign that he's a business-as-usual pol than his failure to repudiate David Geffen for taking some heartfelt shots at the Clintons.. ... ] ...

**--Update: Ryan Sager emails from NY: "NYC's [United Federation of Teachers chief] Randi Weingarten would be interested to hear teachers unions don't want card check. It's how they plan to destroy the charter school movement here." Good point. But is that also true in Iowa?

Supplemental reading: Ford is one example of how the Wagner Act unionism Obama wants to spread really can undermine the economy--according to this Friday WSJ report [$], the company has begun a belated round of attempts to wrest concessions from UAW locals in an attempt to eliminate the $250/vehicle disadvantage currently imposed by union-backed work rules.  Remember that the majestic layering of work rule upon work rule was once considered the glory of the Wagner Act, back in the 1950s. The rules served to protect not a special interest, but special interests within a special interest--e.g. skilled job classifications within the UAW  whose members didn't have to pitch in and sweep floors, etc. with everyone else. The rules just weren't very good at creating efficient factories, at least compared with Japanese plants where change was continuous and there was only one job classification: "Production." ....

Without Wagner Act unionism a) these rules wouldn't exist in the first place and b) if they did, Ford wouldn't have to engage in a  too-little-too-late teethpulling exercise only when it stood poised on the brink of bankruptcy (as consumers bought cars where the $250 has gone to improve the quality of materials in the interior). .. ... Nor does the WSJ piece convince you that Ford will be successful even now:

Some work-rule changes remain beyond reach for Ford. At the Dearborn Truck Assembly factory, for instance, if the company wants to bring in an outside company for specialized repairs to its assembly equipment, it must also pay the same number of company repairmen to work.

There's one problem Toyota doesn't have. ... Why would most of Toyota's American workers choose not to unionize? Must be their employer's unfair labor practices. ...

P.P.S.: Kevin Drum demands that opponents of extending unionization "propose an alternative" means of boosting stagnant wages. That assumes unionization is an effective method, which I would dispute. (During the 1980s, for example, powerful unions did succeed in protecting their members. They didn't succeed in protecting the general mass of workers from the resulting stagflation and loss of competititiveness.) But since Drum asks, here's an alternative:

1) Continued economic growth: Drum claims the idea that "tight labor markets" increase median wages is "pie in the sky." Except  in the late '90s, when they worked bigtime, and last year, when the post-2001 expansion had finally gone on long enough for them to start working again. I recommend David Leonhardt's January 3 NYT analysis.

2) Control immigration so unskilled immigrants don't undermine the bargaining power of workers in the tight labor market; and

3) Universal health care--which would in effect be a big wage increase, and a bigger increase in peace of mind and ability to switch jobs.

In short, Clintonism--plus 'don't forget border control'. ... 2:15 P.M. link

Do It Once, Do It Late ... : Playing its traditional role, the LAT comes in with a long thorough, diligent report on the Geffen-Clinton relationship that serves to kill off any further interest in the subject. ... What passes for a juicy bit: A Clinton aide calls Geffen a "whiner." That's it. ...[Also Geffen was "intrigued by [Clinton's] mix of Arkansas informality, wonkish fluency and political shrewdness."--ed . Well, that's that then. Nothing more to see here. ...] .. 1:34 P.M.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Coulter-Nagourney Papers: Here is the text of a recent email exchange between the NYT's Adam Nagourney and Ann Coulter concerning this controversy:

[Nagourney] The three Republican presidential contenders denouncing you….Do you want to do any response?

[Coulter] C'mon it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean.
Did any of these guys say anything after I made the same remark about Al Gore last summer?Why not?  What were they trying to say about Al Gore with their silence?

Nagourney's blog about the controversy,--which contains a brief reference to Coulter's e-mail-- is here. ...

Update: Nagourney's print piece  is up. He quotes more of Coulter's email than he does on his blog (which is odd since it's usually the other way around).  He also makes it clear he solicited Coulter's response....

More:  Andrew Sullivan wonders what I was "trying to say" in the above item. I thought I was letting readers know about an accurate document (an email exchange) that related to a controversy of the day.  What does Sullivan do if he gets a hot doc? (A 'blog hot' doc, anyway.)... The scoop value of this particular doc, I concede, was radically diminished when Nagourney published his print account and quoted more of Coulter's defense. It will be diminished further when Coulter herself goes on TV and defends herself in a few minutes.  It always ends badly when I attempt journalism. ... 

I think Nagourney was fair to Coulter, more than fair, maybe, in his print piece. He could easily have slanted it more against her if he'd wanted to. More evidence for the thesis that there is actually a secret, perhaps subconscious affinity  between gay reporters and Coulter. ...

What do I think of Coulter's comment? I think a) she obviously wasn't saying John Edwards is gay; b) she equally obviously doesn't think Edwards is gay; c) she picked the word "f-----" because she wanted to make a joke about what that Grey's Anatomy star said that resulted in him going into rehab; d) hard as it is to believe, it seems as if she doesn't realize how offensive that word is to people--she thinks it's a very strong, non-boring word that basically means someone with the effeminate traits stereotypically associated with homosexuals; e) it's worse than that, a toxic word that shouldn't have been used even in a joke--or anyway in that joke; f) she's not, in fact, a homophobe. She's not even really what Mike Kinsley would call a "closet tolerant" because I don't think she's in the closet about it. It's worth noting what she did not say in response to Nagourney, which is any suggestion that gays are sinners going to hell, etc.--i.e. what the stereotypical liberal would expect the stereotypical Christian conservative to say ... 

Note: The first part of this item as it originally appeared--available here--has been modified for clarity. ... 6:41 P.M. link

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Get-up-and-get-a-beer line of the day: According to the NY Post, Newt Gingrich "doesn't think Obama can win."

 "If the country wants therapy, they're going to elect Obama," he said.

You mean the country doesn't want therapy? 6:09 P.M.

OK, New Orleans. You're on your own. It looks like NBC Nightly News' obsessive Katrina coverage hasn't been paying off in the ratings. ... 4:28 P.M.

"Democrats Will Do For America What the UAW Has Done for Chrysler, GM and Ford": Here's a legislative triumph Pelosi's party doesn't want to publicize too much. Do Democrats really want to campaign in 2008 on eliminating the secret ballot in union elections? Luckily, they'll probably be saved by Mitch McConnell. ...   P.S.: Only 7% of private sector workers are now unionized. Is that a) because of all that employer foul play (what Dems tell each other inside the cocoon) or b) because the ponderous legalistic and adversarial structure of the Wagner Act--advancement by seniority, due process, work rules, labor-management negotiation--is especially unsuited to competing in a tumultuous, innovating economy that prizes flexibility and adaptability over predictability and job security? .... 3:36 P.M. link

Iowa, Now More Than Ever: "Emailer X" sends a majestically symmetrical analysis with a grim corn-fed conclusion. [Boldface added]:

There are a couple of anomalies regarding 2008.  First, it's the first genuinely open seat race in a very long time.  There is no incumbent president or designated incumbent (Nixon, HHH, GFord, GHWB, Gore) running for either party's nomination.  Thus the networks (which always overspend their primary coverage budgets in single party presidential nomination fights) are going to be financially strapped to cover two party presidential nomination fights at the same time. 

Media coverage is the oxygen of politics; candidates who get media coverage can continue to raise money and candidates who don't get coverage can't. ... [snip] 

Because the news divisions are less and less profitable (and "news gathering" is increasingly expensive), the bias of the television media in 2008 will be to shut off as much oxygen to as many candidates as possible as soon as possible.  To save money.   Which is one reason we have the current coverage configuration, which implicitly states that (1) Clinton and Obama are the front-runners on the Democratic side, with Edwards as the wild-card position player (in Iowa) and (2) McCain and Giuliani are the front-runners on the Republican side, with Romney as the wild-card position player (he's presumed to have a "base" in NH because of its proximity to MA, and he's raised a ton of dough).  Everyone else gets the multi-candidate forum coverage package and that's it.  If they want day-to-day coverage, they can go generate local coverage.  They're not in the national coverage budget.

Given this configuration, the name of the game for the front-runners is "shut off all the oxygen to everyone else early."  Which, translated, means: win Iowa and New Hampshire, and the game is over. 

It seems to me that the only person who truly understands this is John Edwards.  The others act like Iowa is a bother and that New Hampshire, while important, is not nearly as important as it used to be.  California may move to early March!  It's all about the Super Tuesdays!  But here's the thing:  If McCain or Clinton come into a Super Tuesday having lost Iowa and New Hampshire, then they're basically cooked.  They've lost the "I & E;" inevitability and electability.  And neither party's base much likes them anyway.  It hardly follows that they will like them more after they've run losing campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire.

I don't have the schedules handy, but I think Hillary has been to Iowa twice in the last four years.  That's just stupid.  I don't think Obama has traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire more than 3 times each.  That's dumb.  McCain (whom Iowa GOPers still distrust because he blew them off in 2000) hasn't spent much time in Iowa, nor has Giuliani.  That's dumb.  Romney seems to think that Michigan is every bit as important as Iowa.  That's dumb.  Only Edwards has basically moved to Iowa and declared a second residence in New Hampshire. 

As you know, the entire media infrastructure basically moves to Des Moines for the last 10 days of the Iowa caucuses (which are usually on a Monday night).  This year, they'll send a B-team to cover the Las Vegas primary, but that will be a drive-by deal.  The machine will move to Manchester New Hampshire and megaphone from there.  After that, it's off to South Carolina for that Saturday primary.  Then it's imperative that one nomination fight be declared over and that the other be brought to a quick conclusion.

The other anomaly is that neither party's base (really) has a candidate.  Hillary has the Clinton wing of the party, but the influence of the Clintons has diminished with the rise of Internet-based fund-raising on the left.  The Netroots can match any money machine dollar for dollar.  And unlike the Fat Cat Network, the Netroots bring hundreds of thousands of voters to the table as well.  But the Netroots don't have a candidate (their candidate is Gore, but he's not running, apparently). Likewise on the GOP side, the base's candidate (Jeb Bush) is not running.  

Because Republicans are concerned about losing both control of the legislative branch (2006) and the executive (2008?), the base has decided to be pragmatic.  Find me a winner and we'll back him. Because Democrats need to retain control of the legislative branch and believe that they have their best shot since 1992 at picking up the executive, the Netroots are being as pragmatic as the GOP base.  So the "aura" if inevitability and electability keeps everyone in their places.  Lose that aura and you're done.  The front-runners (all of them) can lose that aura completely in Iowa and New Hampshire.  And if they do, there's nothing to fall back on, the base will cut them loose in a heartbeat.

This is why the Geffen thing was so injurious to Clinton's campaign.  It fractured the aura a bit (confirmed by the Clinton campaign's over-wrought response).  ...

It's a weird thing to watch all this unfold.  And a weird thing to find yourself viewing John Edwards as the only one who gets the game.   

Reaction: OK, there are two big trends here--1) The addition of more early primary states (Nevada, maybe California) and 2) the Decline of the MSM (and their budgets). "X" argues both have 100% perverse consequences1) Iowa and New Hampshire are now more crucial than ever and 2) the MSM news budget will completely drive the campaign, starving laggards of oxygen to force a swift conclusion. ... I can see Perverse Consequence #1--if Iowa and New Hampshire were in January but all the other states moved their primaries back to May, then (as X emails) "You could actually skip IA and NH and still win the nomination!"  But I don't see Perverse Consequence #2--how does the decline of the MSM, and the rise of New Media, mean that the MSM's "coverage budget" drives the campaign more than ever, starving those candidates it ignores of oxygen? Surely it should be easier now for a non-frontrunning candidate denied MSM "oxygen"--Richardson, say--to get some "oxygen" outside the MSM (through a vigorous Web campaign that raises money for paid media, or a reverse-macaca YouTube moment) in a way that attracts voters in one of the primaries and gets  the candidate back on the MSM's menu? ... 3:16 P.M. link

Is the "conversation" on Hillary's website as sanitized, repressed and otherwise controlled as ....well, as you'd expect Hillary's website to be? This blogger claims his non-vituperative critical comment about energy policy was censored.  He's a "neophyte" blogger, which raises suspicions that he's a plant from some other campaign--but if he is he does a good job of faking the geniuine bloggers' solipsistic drone. You make the call. ... 1:26 P.M. link

Bob Wright tells me what I want to hear about my biological clock. ... 12:57 P.M.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Outmaneuvered Again:Adam'Spin Me' Nagourney's pro-Hillary take on the recent Geffen business has been vindicated. Hillary Clinton has gained in the latest WaPo poll, while Obama has lost ground. Looks like he really was "outmaneuvered"! I take it all back. A man with Nagourney's sound instincts should certainly be the central political reporter for the N.Y. Times. ... O...h ..., ...w ...a ...i ...t . ... Update: [In that poll Obama gained mainly among blacks. Could the Hillary Geffen reaction have turned off blacks?--ed Yes ] ... More:RealClearPolitics has a broader poll analysis reaching the same conclusion--

The pro-Clinton spin that Hillary wins this round because it dragged Mr. Obama down in the mud with her and tarnished his image of being above the political fray is just silly.

2:48 A.M. link

Rosie Scenario: Smart Tony Blankley piece on how the Faster (and Earlier) election process actually hurts challengers, eroding their traditional advantages. (They get stale quickly, for example. And if they show the beef--policy proposals--there's lots and lots of time to pick those policies apart, or for them to be overtaken by events.) ... The obvious solution, Blankley notes--echoing Emailer X--is to jump into the race late. Advantage, Gingrich and Gore. ... Actually, maybe Blankley's logic suggests a solution for McCain: He could  let his campaign collapse, drop out, lay low for a few months ... and then jump back in at the end. The Rosie Ruiz  Strategy. There's plenty of time for it. ... (True, it didn't work for Gary Hart in 1988. But McCain wouldn't be withdrawing because of a character-questioning scandal. He'd be withdrawing because Giuliani seemed fresher and more appealing--at the moment. By December, if Blankley's right, it would be McCain who seems fresh.) ... 1:38 A.M. link

The Secret Neocon/Peacenik Convergence of Wishful Thinking: Do you get an eerie sensation reading arguments on the left about why there won't be a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq if the U.S. leaves-- like this one from Robert Dreyfuss:

Contrary to the conventional wisdom in Washington, Iraq is not a make-believe state cobbled together after World War I, but a nation united by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, just as the Nile unites Egypt. Historically, the vast majority of Iraqis have not primarily identified themselves according to their sect, as Sunnis or Shiites. Of course, as the civil war escalates, more Iraqis are identifying by sect, and tensions are worsening. But it is not too late to resurrect some of the comity that once existed. The current war is not a conflict between all Sunnis and all Shiites, but a violent clash of extremist paramilitary armies. Most Iraqis do not support the extremists on either side. According to a poll conducted in June 2006 by the International Republican Institute, "seventy-eight per cent of Iraqis, including a majority of Shiites, opposed the division of Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines." ... [snip]

This shared desire could be another crucial force in helping maintain the integrity of Iraq. The catch-22 of Iraqi politics is that any Iraqi government created or supported by the United States is instantly suspect in Iraqi eyes. By the same token, a nationalist government that succeeds in ushering U.S. forces out of Iraq would have overwhelming support from most Iraqis on most sides of the conflict. With that support, such a government might be able to make the difficult compromises—like amending the constitution to give minority protections to Sunnis—that the Maliki government has been unable or unwilling to make but that most observers believe are crucial to any political settlement that might end the fighting.

Or it might not be able to do it and hundreds of thousands will die! ... Dreyfuss' argument shares the wishful-thinking quality of the pro-war, welcome-us-with-flowers thinking of the Bush administration neocons. True, Dreyfuss hangs a lantern on his problem by asserting, in an aside, that

"the neoconservatives and the Bush administration weren't entirely wrong in 2003. ..."

But that doesn't make the argument more plausible. Sure a majority of Iraqis may be non-sectarian nationalists. But they aren't the people with the guns. The people with the guns seem to be sectarian extremists. If we leave, will they give up their guns? I doubt it. ...

P.S.: Paul Glastris (who published Dreyfuss' article in the Washington Monthly) defends it here. ...

Psst--To My Antiwar Friends: If we pull out, and comity is resurrected, and the difficult comprormises are made, and a political settlement is reached that ends the fighting while the integrity of Iraq is maintained, that would mean Bush's war was a success, no? ... 1:13 A.M. link

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Keep Hope Alive! Conservative opponents of "comprehensive immigration reform" who've been using it as a club with which to attack the presidential candidacy of its sponsor, Sen. John McCain, should maybe rethink. If Dick Morris and Eileen McGann are right, the McCain for President campaign is in big trouble. But what does that mean for those who care mainly about stopping "comprehensive" reform? ('Is it good for the yahoos?' Bill Kristol would ask.) McCain's need to suck up to conservative primary voters who hate his immigration bill is a big reason its prospects are less than secure, after all. The last thing anti-amnesty types should want is for McCain to sink so low that he drops out of the Presidential race and dedicates his year to passing his immigration reform. Or abandons the Republican primaries and seeks the presidency as an independent on a platform that includes his immigration plan. No, "comprehensive" opponents need McCain to at least think he's got a shot at the GOP nomination if only he just stops pushing his unpopular bill. Maintining the vital incentive to pander is crucial in cases like this--welfare was another one--where the voters are right and the respectable elites are wrong. .... 11:56 P.M. link

I'd forgotten a perverse set of facts that suddenly seems relevant: Hillary Clinton was almost certainly in favor of the 1996 welfare reform law while Rudolph Giuliani opposed it.  ... That could mean Giuliani is more liberal than people realize, and less likely to undergo the program of "learning/repositioning" that conservatives like John Derbyshire look forward to.  Or it could mean that Giuliani is more opportunistic than people realize and therefore more likely to reposition himself. ... My guess: Both, but definitely the latter. Giuliani was a genuine welfare reformer, after all. His opposition to the key reform bill, in retrospect, looks like a stunt to cultivate stature in the national press.** ... [Triggered by  Ramesh Ponnuru at The Corner ]

**--It should be said that bill did contain some gratuitously nasty provisions denying benefits to existing elderly legal immigrants. President Clinton had pledged to remedy these provisions, which were in fact softened. In retrospect--and in prospect--they didn't constitute a sound reason for opposing the bill, the core of which instituted large, once-in-a-generation changes in the basic cash welfare programs for poor Americans (allowing states to condition benefits on work, even for single mothers). ... 12:27 AM. link

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Viewer Discretion Advised: This diavlog contains grotesque images." 10:38 P.M.

Staples-- 'Yeah, We Don't Got That' (Update): My email is running  8-1 against the idea that Hewlett-Packard may have run afoul of the antitrust laws by getting Staples to take its competing store-brand refilled ink-jet cartridges off its shelves. I'm not convinced but don't have the motivation to figure out why beyond that a) it seems clear to me HP is already getting monopolistic prices for its cartridges, once consumers like me have been "locked in" through the purchase of a printer; and b) this action was taken to remove a rising competitor and protect this HP semi-monopoly (perhaps by bribing them with a share of the monopoly profits). One counterargument, made by emailer D.L., is that Staples could in theory use its bribe to lower prices for consumers of HP cartridges. Those prices were not in evidence on my recent visit, however. ...  P.S.:  If the U.S. Department of Justice isn't interested, there's always that wacky Jerry Brown, now California's Attorney General.  In the meantime I'll take several emailers' advice and shop at Office Depot. ... Supplemental Reading: Here's a relevant case. ... 9:40 P.M. link

What song? I hope they're not exposing the Libby jurors to "Tennessee Plates." ... Report from the field: "Your Dad Did" ... 1:50 P.M.

John Derbyshire, an opponent of the McCain-Kennedy "comprehensive" immigration reform, explains why he's for Giuliani even though Giuliani's position on immigration looks an awful lot like McCain's. It's semi-convincing. (Derbyshire anticipates a Giuliani "learning/repositioning" experience.) 1:41 P.M.

How low can you go? A flyer compares Hillary to John Kerry. It's a smear campaign! ... 10:31 A.M.

Hillary's Doomed Taboo: Anne Kornblut describes a more plausible, but depressing, rationale for Hillary Clinton's seeming anti-Geffen overreaction than some of the takes offered last week. Kornblut argues the Clinton camp was trying to

[declare] her husband's impeachment in 1998 -- or, more accurately, the embarrassing personal behavior that led to it -- taboo, putting her rivals on notice and all but daring other Democrats to mention the ordeal again.

Questions: 1) Does Hillary realize that this taboo-enforcement strategy plays into the worst aspect of her public image--the dogmatic PC enforcer whose loyal aides seem, at least in public, to live in zombie-like fear that too much candor could incur her wrath? I don't think it's too much to draw a line from Hillary's attempt to suppress the speech of her fellow candidates to a general, instinctive distaste for the tumult and self-expression inherent in democracy itself. One thinks of Clintonite Roberta Achtenberg's seeming tolerance, as a HUD official, of her agency's intimidating investigations of local opponents of group homes for the handicapped. (Defending the investigations, Achtenberg told the NYT, "These are very difficult judgments that have to be made." No they're not, at least if you have any feel for democracy.)

2) Has the Clinton campaign ever heard of, you know, the Internet? Enforcing taboos doesn't work like it used to, back when all you had to do was muzzle a few gatekeepers.** Today, if people have things to say they're going to say them. If the candidates don't say them, and the MSM doesn't say them, that doesn't mean they won't get said.** Note to Hillary: Your husband cheated on you and was fined $90,000 for lying about it to a federal judge. Everybody thinks he's still cheating on you. Your fellow Democrats are tolerant, but they wonder what the deal is. That isn't the "politics of personal destruction." It's due diligence.Attempting to repress this discussion only assures that it will quickly come to the surface.

The more modern and effective alternative to suppressing nasty questions, of course, is to air them out--let the voters talk about them, "process" them and "move on," something that happens awfully fast now. Maybe Hillary's seemingly clumsy strategy of last week was perversely brilliant: By heavy-handedly trying to enforce a taboo on discussing Bill's misbehavior, she guaranteed that it would become the topic of widespread public conversation immediately--early in the campaign when voters have plenty of time to process it and move on before the Iowa caucuses.

She only seems like a speech scold.  She was really outmaneuvering everyone!Take it away, Nagourney.

**--When the Clintons weathered the Lewinsky scandal, remember, blogging was in its infancy.

***--Even if they don't get said, of course, voters would still think them--but they might be more likely to act on them if a public discussion in effect gives them permission.

Update: If Nixon came back and ran again, could his opponents bring up Watergate? Or would that be "under the belt"? ... 2:15 A.M. link

Sunday, February 25, 2007

In a crowded theater: The performance of Arcade Fire's "Keep the Car Running" on SNL last night--available here--was better than the version on the CD (which is hurt by excess echo). [Adjectives, please. Is it: plangent? shimmering? twangy? chiming?  Kinksy?-- ed . Hectic and cathartic!] 11:49 P.M.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Attention, Thomas O. Barnett: I went to Staples to buy a replacement cartridge for my HP printer. Usually I buy a "Staples" brand replacement--they're a little cheaper. But they were no longer on display. Only the pricier HP cartridges were for sale. I asked the store manager if this was because HP had sued Staples. No, she said--HP "paid us more" to carry only their brand. ... If true, isn't this a pretty clear antitrust violation? HP would seem to be trying to enforce a (presumably lucrative) semi-monopoly position in HP replacement cartridges. I don't think semi-monopolists can do that. Or am I misremembering antitrust law? ... Backfill:Business Week has covered this, and finds a prof who says there's no antitrust violation because "there are alternatives being sold at other office superstores, and other printer brands are being sold at Staples." Second opinion, please. ... Update: The opinions are in. ... 10:46 P.M. link

Keep your clothes on: Anyone want to bet that the mysterious new BMW sports car with black "camouflage" cladding--designed to fool spy photographers--is better looking with the cladding attached than the actual sports car we'll see when the cladding comes off? ... [via Autoblog]10:36 P.M.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What would Deborah Orin say? Here's a useful analysis from kf "Emailer X" arguing that the recent pro-Hillary, Nagourneyesque (and Dickersonian) spin is wrong:

The truth is Hillary's campaign has been a series of ill-considered moves.  Obama panicked her into a way-too-early-announcement.  The cause of the panic was fund-raising (poaching of presumed supporters), which is the least vulnerable aspect of her campaign.  Basically, if she wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, she wins the nomination.  The most she can spend in Iowa and New Hampshire is $20 million, every last dollar counted, including the surrounding states primary television advertising that will be seen in Iowa.  So money is not her problem.  Imagining that it was and therefore entering the race six-to-eight months before she needed to was a MAJOR mistake.  Had she entered in August or September, the surge would have run its course successfully or not.  The Iran issue would be that much further along.  Pandemic flu would have hit or not hit.  Etc.  By announcing early, she brought into play a hundred unnecessary variables.

In a nutshell, her challenge is (a) herself, (b) her vote on the War (and her bizarre accounting for same), (c) her husband (never very popular with the party's left wing and a wild card every day), (d) the whole Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton can-we-ever-get-out-of-this-movie thing, (e) Hillaryland (consultants turning everything to hectoring mush), (f) deep-seated fear among Democrats that she is, in truth, the least electable candidate they have.

Geffen, a long-time ally, addressed a, b, c, d, e and f.  The Clinton campaign, by responding the way it did, amplified his remarks at least twofold.  If that's a win, I'm for the Breck Girl.

11:26 P.M. link

Do we really have to go through another presidential campaign watching the NYT's Adam Nagourney get spun? And without Deborah Orin around to bring everyone back to reality? Grim! Nagourney's Friday piece--"reporting" that "even Mr. Obama ... seemed to acknowledge that he may have been outmaneuvered" by Hillary in the Geffen flap is a case in point.

1) Nagourney didn't reportanything to back up the claim that Obama acknowledged being outmaneuvered. He quoted Obama saying he wanted to avoid such "distractions." But Obama could have regretted it for sincere, highminded reasons, even if the controversy helped him. Why be cynical and assume that if a pol regrets something it can only be because it cost him votes? Or Obama could have been more deeply cynical than Nagourney--seeming to admit error as a tactical ploy (to placate the famously wussy Iowa caucusers, who hate Dem fratricide) while quietly pocketing his winnings.

2) Nagourney's conclusion, and that of most other MSM pundits, assumes you can analyze which campaign won and which lost without assessing the truth value or appeal of what Geffen said about Hillary. In this "neutral," strategic analysis, Obama lost because he was the positive candidate lured into going "negative." Doesn't it matter whether Geffen's charges were true--or at least rang true--or were baloney? "Objective" reporters are uncomfortable making such judgments, but those are the judgments voters will be making. If Geffen was giving voice to what lots of Democrats were actually thinking about Hillary, and if by doing so he in effect gave Dems permission to stop suppressing these objections, and if those objections are powerful, he could have done Hillary damage even if her brilliant staff lured an Obama press aide into putting out a snarky press release.

3) No Nagourney "I've Been Spun" piece would be complete without a quote from notorious Dem counterproductive overspinner Chris Lehane, whose tendentious 24-7 BS sniping as Al Gore's 2000 press secretary helped elect Bush in the first place (and constitutes the very "game as it customarily is played" that Obama condemns). The Obama camp's response "fundamentally undermined their long-term message," Lehane concluded. To ward off charges of bias, Nagourney claims Lehane "has not endorsed a candidate," but it's inconceivable that Lehane is without an agenda or agendas here--at the very least, the agenda of sucking up to Nagourney by telling him what he wants to hear.  Also, Lehane is almost always wrong. I remember, after the California recall debate, he declared that Schwarzenegger had lost ground because he was mean to Arianna Huffington, thereby offending women voters. In fact, Schwarzenegger's put-downs almost certainly helped elect him. Lehane's spin is most useful as a Lawrence O'Donnellish contrary indicator. Maybe he isn't allied with a candidate because nobody wants him.

Update: Melinda Henneberger reports that Geffen's criticism  "Is Nothing I Haven't Heard from Women Voters Across America."   She didn't hear it from men voters? There's your lede! ... Oh, I see. She only talked to women. ... So we have a First Woman who doesn't appeal that much to women running against a First Black who doesn't appeal that much to blacks. Cool. Maybe Identity Politics is dead. ... 11:13 P.M. link

First Warner, Now Vilsack: Another seemingly  inexplicable drop-out from the Democratic presidential race. Just when the two national frontrunners are busy destroying each other, why would a credible fallback choice like Iowa ex-Gov.Tom Vilsack bail? The fundraising troubles that are allegedly the "only" reason he quit a) don't seem that bad and b) were all quite foreseeable when he declared his candidacy in November. ... Baseless speculation (but why not): Did someone (e.g. Hillary) realize she desperately needed Vilsack's Iowa supporters and make him an offer he couldn't refuse? ... 1:36 P.M. link

Won't They Comp Posh? And here I thought Scientology was on the defensive: I didn't know there was a whole new batch of possible celeb recruits/hangers-around--Lachlan Murdoch (that from Radar), Will and Jada, J-Lo, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, even maybe Forest Whitaker.  But the religion might be too expensive for David Beckham's fashionable wife. ("Victoria is too cheap to convert.")  Elizabeth Snead says: "Maybe she can get Scientology wholesale." ... 1:06 P.M. link

Matthew Yglesias displays thestrenuous casuistry loyal Democrats will employ to avoid the need for any confrontation with teachers' unions on the question Steve Jobs recently raised--firing lousy teachers. According to Yglesias the issue isn't firing bad teacher but attracting good ones:

... the reason politicians rarely push for it is that the actual payoff is very, very low. The issue is that there isn't this vast pool of highly effective potential hires out there. The schools with serious teacher-quality problems tend to have them because the better teachers, by and large, don't want to work there and schools have problems filling all the slots with minimally qualified people. The real action (also disliked by teacher unions, if pissing off unions is your goal) is in the certification process, who counts as a qualified teacher, and what counts as an effective teacher (here's where the accountability comes in). If in the future that created a situation where there were tons of people looking to break into the teaching field then it might make sense to expend political capital on making it easier to fire people.  [E.A.]

Response:

a) It's easier to hire good teachers if you can fire bad ones.  Competent people want to work for competent organizations. Which offer would you be more likely to take: "Come work for our school district. We weed out the deadwood and we're doing a great job preparing our kids," Or "Come work for our district and spend your life beating your head against a bureaucratic wall." Yes, teachers should be paid more--but it's weird that an idealistic liberal would think good candidates are only motivated by money. (And if you could fire bad and mediocre teachers then school districts wouldn't have to spend a big chunk of any pay raise boosting the salaries of ... bad and mediocre teachers).

b) You obviously want to do both-- weed out bad old teachers and expand the pool of potential good new teachers by allowing certification of people who haven't met the mindless credential requirements fiercely defended by the unions.** Yglesias conveniently pretends you can only do the former after the latter--"if" in the "future," after a couple of more generations have sloughed through mediocre or criminally lousy schools, we've managed to amass a huge pool of "tons" of people trying to break into teaching, then it "might" make sense to take on the union protection of incompetents. "Might." That's good of him!

c) Of course, if Yglesias shies from a confrontation now--by kicking the can off to some distant "future," and then only maybe--he'll shy from the confrontation ten years from now. Paul Glastris, in a recent bloggingheads debate on Yglesias' post, unexpectedly blurted out the real reason Dems like him don't want to confront the unions, no matter how sound and obvious the policy reasons for doing so.

**--as a means of protecting their members from uncredentialed hires who would do a better job! 1:53 A.M. link

Thursday, February 22, 2007

DownHill Racing: My impression is that David Geffen isn't furious at Bill Clinton for not pardoning   Leonard Peltier. He's furious at Bill Clinton for lying about whether he was going to pardon Leonard Peltier--at least that's what I think Geffen would say. ... P.S.: The pros think   Hillary won the Geffen fight. I'm not so sure. By striking back so quickly when a non-candidate makes an obvious anti-Clinton point, does she discourage further attacks or encourage them? I'd say the latter. Everyone loves a target who cries in pain every time it's hit. Anyway, the clear winner in the incident was TimesSelect. [Update: Or not! ] ... P.P.S.: Larry Johnson has a good question for Obama, though--just to see how he'd handle it. ...3:57 P.M. link

Don't look now: The much-derided right-wing comedy show 1/2 Hour News Hour was a ratings hit for FOX. ... 1:21 A.M.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It's dangerous to spot trends in Rasmussen robo-polls that Rasmussen himself doesn't even highlight--but hasn't Obama cut Hillary's lead from 16 points to 4 points in about two weeks? The Hillary Announcement Bump would seem to have dissipated. ... P.S.: I forgot. She's inevitable. Sorry. ... 2:08 A.M.

Didn't Mike Kinsley get in big trouble at the L.A. Times for trying this? ... Seems kind of innocuous now. ...[via Corner] 1:43 A.M.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Explainer Please! Rudy Giuliani  "is happy to participate in a receiving-line style photo opportunity as compared to a snake line." [E.A.] What's the difference? What if the receiving line starts, you know, snaking a bit? ... P.S.: Maybe I'm a jaded Hollywood type, but Giuliani's demands don't seem that diva-ish. He only requires one (1) SUV. He apparently allows eye contact! He doesn't even ask for a fruit basket. ... 2:21 P.M.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hillary-- Batting .001: Mohammed at Iraq the Model--writing after the recent Baghdad car bombings-- reports that:

Although attacks happen here and there, the general feeling is still closer to hope and appreciation of the plan than pessimism. More families are returning to the homes they were once forced to leave, and we're talking about some of the most dangerous districts such as Ghazaliya and Haifa Street.

I'm not saying things won't change, I'm not saying long term prospects look positive. I'm saying they are positive enough to warrant giving the plan a chance to do some good instead of blocking it or strangling it Murtha style. Or Hillary style--now that she's called for starting a pullout in 90 days. How do you surge and "redeploy" at the same time?...

P.S.: It's not too early to say that Hillary's performance in the opening weeks has been impressively unimpressive. It's pretty clear in retrospect, that the war with Iraq, however it comes out, was a bad gamble. A mistake, in other words. But now that we've made the mistaken gamble, it also seems clear--to Mohammed at least--that the surge might do some good. The correct position, by these lights, was War No, Surge Yes. It would be selfishly callous, in a stereotypically American way, for us to invade Iraq, make a mess, and then not be willing to pay any extra price to help fix the mess we've made. (Murtha's demand that the troops be given "a year at home"--and the heck with what happens to Iraqis like Mohammed--only emphasizes this self-interested perspective.)

Yet through a conscientiously applied mixture of high-minded comity, Machiavellian calculation, stubbornness and bad expert advice, Hillary has managed to arrive at a position that's precisely wrong on both counts: War Yes, Surge No.

Didn't most political observers sour on Hillary in 1994, when she stubbornly clung to her grand, high-minded health care plan long after it was clear to everyone that it was a lost cause? Wasn't she supposed to have learned her lesson from that episode? Isn't she making exactly the same error again--stubbornly clinging to her refusal to say her Iraq vote was the mistake it was? ("She wants to maintain a firmness," an unnamed advisor told the NYT.)**  And then, in this case, trying to compensate for her stubbornness by indulging the left's pullout impulses?

She should maybe take a breather to watch The Queen, which is all about how a strong woman (Queen Elizabeth II) is talked by Tony Blair into climbing down from a stubborn position (refusal to ostentatiously grieve over Diana) that, even though it makes sense to her, is out of touch with reality. ...

But if Hillary's judgment is that bad ... well, we get to choose our queens and kings. Do Americans need all the drama?

P.P.S.: Who is Hillary's Tony Blair? It was supposed to be Bill. Where is he? Off zipping around with Ron Burkle?...

Update: See also Iraqpundit, whose relatives in Baghdad have been able to move back to their home, at least temporarily. He acknowledges that the sectarian "thugs" might "eventuallly" return. [via Insta ] Note that Mohammed is hearing firefights, which suggest to him that the targets of the "surge" are not just lying low:

It looks like some militants consider that sitting back and waiting is not an option and so they are trying to break the siege.

**--Backfill: Dick Morris offers several other examples of Hillary's counterproductive stubbornness:

Counseled by most of her staff to release the Whitewater documents when The Washington Post first requested them, she said no and triggered the designation of a special prosecutor. When Whitewater co-conspirator Jim MacDougal suggested that he buy her out of the investment to avoid political embarrassment, she refused, saying that she planned to use the proceeds for Chelsea's college tuition. When Bill Clinton had the opportunity to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit, Hillary vetoed that possibility, paving the way for her husband's impeachment.

Morris blames her dependence on "gurus." But at some point it doesn't matter. Bad judgment is bad judgment. ... 5:00 P.M. link

Coping with the Nevada cost of living: 16% of public employees in Southern Nevada make more than $100,000 a year, reports the Las Vegas Sun. ... Paying workers overtime for overtime seems only fair, but at some point it becomes a racket. (The national average for all workers is 5%, says the Sun). ... [Via NewsAlert ] 11:57 A.M.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Do all those Democratic Senators running for President really want to vote to disapprove the surge even as it seems to be showing some initial, tentative, possibly illusory positive effects? Or, as Instapundit suggests, would a "no surge" vote put them in the position where a military success would be "politically ... dangerous?" I've previously argued that the wording of an anti-surge resolution would leave the Dems some escape routes--but what if the public doesn't pay attention to the wording? What if they just pay attention to the vote? What if it comes up in a debate: "And you opposed the increase in troops which is what finally brought relative peace to Baghdad..." How much better for these Democrats if a)they can placate the left by telling primary voters they support some sort of anti-surge resolution but b) they don't have to actually vote on a resolution because it never gets enough votes for cloture, so there's no actual vote that can be hung around their necks. That's win-win! And gee, that's what actually seems to have happened in the Senate. Funny thing. I smell Kabuki. If there's one thing United States Senators are good at it's engineering a stalemate that lets everyone posture in whatever way they think will help them. ... 6:55 P.M. link

AUSTIN — Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions today, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers. ...

If Jobs is a Democrat,** he's a New Democrat! ...P.S.: In response, Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell--who sells mainly non-Apple Windows-based machines-- defended the unions. ... Windows, kludgy Old Dem! Apple, New Dem! Just what you would have thought. ... P.P.S.: Jobs might have added "no amount of well-meaning educational donations from the Gates Foundation would improve public schools nearly as much as allowing principals to fire bad teachers." ...

**--which he seems to be. On the other hand Dell, who took the Old Dem position, is a Republican. ...

Update: Joe Klein (not swooning yet!) says Barack Obama, at an Iowa town meeting, "told a teachers' union member that he supported higher pay for teachers but also--the union's anathema--greater accountability." I'd be interested in the transcript: Praising "accountability" is one thing--a good thing, but vague. It could mean a lot of things. Talking about getting "rid of people," as Jobs did, puts the issue more clearly, no? ...

More: David Yepsen has an exact quote of what Obama actually said:

"If teachers are underperforming, we're going to get them the help they need. But we're not going to pretend they are not underperforming, and that is something we're going to have to make happen ..." [E.A.]

Hmmm. Maybe you get candor points for saying even that much in teacher-dominated Iowa, which only shows how pathetically pander-centric Democratic politics has become. (I think Eduwonk agrees.) Why couldn't Obama say something like this:

"If teachers are underperforming,we're going to get them the help they need. But in the meantime we will replace them with someone who can do the job. Our children's education has to come first. Yes, in order to attract good teachers, we must be fair to teachers. But the schools are there to teach our kids. They're not a jobs program. The best teachers are honored--and the best citizens will be attracted to the profession--when the public schools regain their reputation as institutions where good things happen to kids."

In the 1984 Democratic primary, Gary Hart and Walter Mondale actually got into a national debate over whether Mondale would dare to admit that bad teachers should actually be dismissed. Mondale finally said the words, if I remember, only after being backed into a highly-embarrasing special-interest corner by the press. Now the press gives out bravery awards for daring to say that teachers should "get the help they need." In this, and many other respects--read his announcement speech  and try to find even a little bit of Souljah--Obama's campaign as less than a half Hart. ...I'd estimate about 23%. ...1:57 P.M. link

Friday, February 16, 2007

Low Hanging Fruit--The Gaia Hypothesis (as noted in Eat the Press):  Hollywood fundraiser Daphne Ziman unveils Hillary Clinton pollster Mark Penn's carefully-crafted new campaign message in the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge:

"The nation is in deep need for a mother figure who will lead the people out of a violent world and back into caring for the poor and the disabled, mostly caring for our children, our future." [E.A.]

Someone needs to be disciplined! ... Note to D.C.: You see what we have to deal with out here? ... 3:02 P.M. link

What's gotten into David Broder? He's written a piece that isn't CW. [Is it persuasive?--ed No. He says Bush is "poised for a political comeback," without offering much evidence.  A bit of bipartisan comity is all it takes and he starts getting giddy. ... Blogger  Don Surber  actually does a bit more with the thesis.] ..[via Lucianne and Insta ] 11:58 A.M.

N.Z. Bear: "Sorry kids: multi-hour response time just doesn't cut it here in the big leagues." 1:43 A.M.

America's Leading Contrary Indicator: If I were Lewis "Scooter" Libby, this is what I'd want to read  right about now. ..

"Libby is guilty. And he's going to be found guilty. .."

from the Man Who Is Always Wrong, Lawrence O'Donnell. ... P.S.: O'Donnell's own commenters actually do a pretty good job of busting him for his earlier erroneous predictions. Excerpts: 

Unfortunately you were wrong when you predicted, six or seven indictments-including Rove... [snip] 

I hope you're right, Lawrence. But I must say your batting average is pretty dismal. Two examples: 1) You told Al Franken's audience that John Kerry had nothing to worry about (or words to that effect) in the 2004 election 2) You predicted that Joe Lieberman, after losing the primary, would be persuaded to drop out of the Senate race by September 2006. ... [snip]

I really like reading Lawrence O'Donnell, but isn't he the guy who also said that Rove was, beyond a doubt, going to be indicted? [E.A.]

They forgot O'Donnell's famous Labor Day, 2000 "It's Over" column in New York, giving the election to Gore. ...  [Didn't you just make the same Libby prediction?--ed I did! But even I don't have O'Donnell's authoritative track record.] ... [Thanks to alert reader R.P.12:04 A.M.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

DI on MyDD wonders  why Democrats aren't jumping on Rove for Ditchdiggergate:

This is what he said, folks: "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."    [snip]

This insults work. Period. It also insults the people who do work. It is the worst kind of class warfare.

Normally Democrats attack Rove if he has a pimple. Why go easy on him now? The answer is pretty obvious: Dem elites are tacitly allied with Rove in pushing "comprehensive immigration reform." They see him as the unwitting architect of Democratic realignment. [But that doesn't explain why non-elite bloggers would lay off him--ed. Good point. Beats me. a) It could just be that the PC/Wall Street Journal multiculturalist spin--that "comprehensive" opponents must be evil racist Nativists--at least initially wins out over the Dobbsian populist spin that too much immigration lowers working wages.  Bloggers tend to be meritocratic successes, remember. They're typically "symbolic analysts"--globalization's winners! They are not typically unskilled workers. They don't want to pick tomatoes either. And Dem bloggers don't want to get into bed with The Corner. Or b) it could be that (especially with connected bloggers becoming employees of campaigns) the elites have more control over bloggers than it would seem. Remember Townhouse!].... 5:06 P.M.

Bloggingheads discuss the current #1 on my list of Contrarian Pieces Crying Out to be Written. ... 4:00 A.M.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lyndon Johnson losing Cronkite is like Tim Russert losing ... Imus!  [Actually, isn't it more like Johnson losing Jack Valenti?--ed Or Lady Bird.] ... P.S.: Whatever you think of Russert, Seth Stevenson pithily puts the basic perjury case against Libby:

But even if Russert is forgetting, the jury still has this to contend with: Libby claimed he was "taken aback" when Russert mentioned that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Libby said this information was "something he was telling me that I was first learning."

To believe that, you'd have to believe that 1) Libby forgot that Cheney had already told him about Plame (Libby says he did forget their conversation, and only remembered it when he saw it in his notes), and 2) that Ari Fleischer, Cathie Martin, and multiple other prosecution witnesses were all lying or misremembering when they described conversations with Libby (about Plame) that happened before the Russert phone call.

For the same reason that it's plausible that lots of reporters learned about Joe Wilson's wife's CIA job, and silly to expect that it would stay secret once Wilson started his dramatic public dissent, it's implausible that Libby would ever forget it. The reason: It was great gossip! ... 1:51 A.M.

More on Ditchdiggergate: A Krikorian emailer reports people in the room were shocked when Karl Rove said "I don't want my kid digging ditches"  at a conference in June, 2006:

The small business folks were to polite to boo, but you could hear the disappointment and snickers of dissatisfaction rumble through audience immediately after those remarks.

John Podhoretz asks if I--or, rather, those who object to Rove's remarks--would be willing "to receive poorer service at still-high prices" when "restaurants and hotels" actually have to pay enough to attract legal, non-"temporary" workers. The answer is yes. ... P.S.: I always thought the GOP, pro-market position was that the rising tide of the economy was going to lift all boats. I didn't realize it had to lift all the boats in Latin America before it started lifting the boats of unskilled Americans. ... 1:07 A.M.

How Obama May Have Saved Hillary: An obvious point about Hillary: She's in trouble now because of her pro-war vote, and her unimpressive attempts  to explain it without repudiating it. But the 2008 campaign has started so early that there's plenty of time for her to reverse field and recover. She should thank Barack Obama for forcing her to move up the start of her campaign.  If it were December or even October, things might be different and she'd be in real trouble. ...  12:40 A.M.

David Sirota has been denied a U.S. Capitol press pass because he's an "activist," reports Mary Ann Akers. That seems foolish--isn't an "activist" just a "citizen" exercising his or her rights? But then, it's become hard to think of a principled (and constitutional) basis on which "press" access to the limited real estate in the Capitol can be doled out. If everyone has a blog (as Sirota does) then everyone's at least a part-time journalist and everyone who passes the security check and can give a plausible reason for being there--Sirota's writing a book--should have access. If that would make the galleries too crowded, then maybe the House and Senate themselves should explicitly vote on who gets access instead of pawning the job off onto a committee of journalists. Congressmen are elected, journalists aren't.  And if Congressmen decide that at the margin that they want WaPo hanging around but not HuffPo--well, that's what their constituents voted for, indirectly. They should take the heat for it. ... That seems less unconstitutional than letting self-proclaimed private sector reporters exclude their citizen-competitors. ... Got a better idea? 12:11 A.M.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Edginess Begone: According to Autoblog, a "Bulgarian economist" has designed a futuristic Audi, and it's not only fresher and better looking than any Audi Audi itself is designing these days, it's better looking than everything everybody else is designing too. See if you agree. ... Caution: It has curves, not edges! ...  12:14 A.M.

Yesterday's bloggingheads today: Al Gore makes a symbolic appearance to tout the carbon tax--something he advocated as far back as 1993 and the subject of a highly persuasive Anne Applebaum op-ed piece  last week. Bob Wright argues that free-rider problems remain--why would any one nation take painful measures (like imposing a carbon tax) unless other nations have to do that too? But isn't Applebaum's point that some self-imposed burdens are easier to bear than others. Nations have to tax something--taxing carbon instead of wages and income seems like less of a sacrifice than actually capping emissions. And, like wearing your underwear on the outside, it's easy to check! 12:04 A.M.

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Model Edsall: The authoritative Tom Edsall's immigration piece in the unaffordable, subscriber-only National Journal--

a) notes that, while the 2006 elections weren't a victory for anti-comprehensive forces, some swing-district Democrats like Tammy Duckworth were badly hurt by (Edsall says false) charges that they were soft on illegals. That's why Dem caucus chair Rahm Emanuel is insisting on 85 or 90 Republican votes in the House--to give Dems bipartisan cover;

b) "If Democrats saw this as a political winner, why aren't they talking more about it?"--anti-comprehensive Steven Camarota;

c) "Analysts in both parties" are trying to reassure paranoid swing-district Dems that

[m]ost voters who adamantly oppose illegal immigrants are Republicans. ... Faced with a choice between a pro-immigration Republican and a similar Democrat, these voters might well sit out the election.

That means, Edsall theorizes, that "newly elected House Democrats from Republican-leaning districts have less to fear from a pro-immigration vote than do most House and Senate Republicans." But doesn't this logic require the Republicans to cooperate, suicidally, by nominating "pro-immigration" (i.e. pro-comprehensive) candidates in these swing districts? ...

d) Edsall nut graf:

To get a citizenship bill through Congress, President Bush and the Democrats probably need to convert a large bloc of anti-immigration Republican members, perhaps 40 in the House and 20 in the Senate ...

.. even though Democrats are themselves counting on the legislation to create a Democratic electorate, not a grateful pro-GOP Hispanic bloc.

Unless Republicans are easily conned, that sounds encouragingly hard to do. ... [Emphasis added] 11:25 P.M.

Desperate Measures: The host of NBC'S Meet the Press must really be worried about his image this week. He's hauling out "Big Russ:"

Tuesday on "NBC Nightly News": Tim Russert's efforts to make sure his Dad, 'Big Russ,' has everything he needs.

10:30 P.M.

To See What Is In Front of One's Nose ... Andrew Sullivan: "He seems to believe that merely taking a stand in warfare, even if it is a wrong one, is some kind of virtue in itself." Amazingly, Sullivan is not writing about himself--although maybe he really is, on a, you know, deeper level! ... It seems like only yesterday that Sullivan was preeningly defending those "who ever had the balls to take a stand"-- and thus avoided "irrelevance"--even though they were wrong. But it was really last Tuesday. ...[Tks to reader M.G.] 10:09 P.M.

Is Hillary Clinton's campaign really trying to pretend, through vigorous Webbery, that she didn't support the war? That's what Matt Yglesias claims.** If true, that's a bit different than simply stubbornly  refusing to apologize for your support; it's trying to deny that you have anything to refuse to apologize for! And it's kind of pathetic. Hillary's had a long time to think about what she'd say in this situation. Not even her husband could get away with that much slickness. He managed to position himself for-and-against Iraq War I, but only because he didn't have to vote on it (and because the war was over and old news by the time he had to stand before the voters). ... P.S.: Yglesias regards Clinton's stance as "an insult to the intelligence of liberals everywhere." Note to Matt: True. But what if her target audience isn't "liberals everywhere" but  ... Iowa caucusers? Those people bought the "Kerry, electable" pitch, remember. Who knows what else they'll buy! It's about time someone insulted their intelligence.

**--What makes him so sure? He's got proof! 8:32 P.M.

Gaffe of the year? Karl Rove defends "comprehensive immigration reform":

Has Rove accidentally ripped the mask off the vicious social inegalitarianism of Bush's immigration plan, as Mark Krikorian argues, or does a more benign interpretation  of his comments save him?  It's not like he hasn't said this sort of thing before, apparently. Indeed, his June, 2006 version makes the probable context of last week's remark quite clear--and Rove's not simply "saying that every parent wants their child to have a high-skilled, high-wage job," as the White House's damage control suggests. Here's the 2006 pitch:

"Now frankly," Rove said during a riff on the temporary worker part of President Bush's immigration reform plan, "I don't want my kid digging ditches. I don't want my kid slinging tar. But I know somebody's got to do it. And we ought to have a system that allows people who want to come here to work to do jobs for which Americans are not lining up."

OK, let's concede there are some unpleasant, unskilled jobs that need doing. How to get them done? 1) One solution is to raise the pay until enough Americans--including teens and college-age kids--and legal immigrants are willing to take the jobs.If the wage gets so high that machines can do the job more efficiently, then unskilled workers will gradually be replaced by robots. (Maybe Rove could tolerate having his son run a computerized robotic tomato picker.) 2)  We could in effect draft Americans to do these lousy jobs. It would be a duty of citizenship, like serving on juries. I have a vague memory of Michael Walzer suggesting something along these lines in Spheres of Justice; 3) A third solution would be to import foreigners to work the lousy jobs, but offer them a deal in which, if they work for x number of years, they could gain equal citizenship. This would be a sort of modern, socialized version of indentured servitude.

The most socially inegalitarian solution, of course, is Bush's Solution #4) Import foreign workers who do these second-class jobs as second-class non-citizens. ...

Ah, but wouldn't Bush be happy to settle for #3--a temporary worker program with a path to citizenship? He might. And that's the proposed solution of many Democrats. If I was sure a McCain-Kennedy-Bush program could actually achieve #3, I might support it too. What I fear, of course--what I expect--is that what seems to be #3 will instead become #5: A huge new wave of illegal immigration, drawn by the reward of Bush's semi-amnesty, that overwhelms the fancy new employer and border enforcement mechanisms and temporary-guest-worker safety valves Bush talks about. Lousy jobs will continue to be done by foreigners who have no "path to citizenship" and no legal authorization--it's just that there will be many, many more of them and they will be more poorly paid.

Would Rove care if a 'guest worker program with a path to citizenship' (#3) breaks down, Iraq-style,  into a 'new wave of illegals' (#5)--as the 1986 reform did? We now have a clue! That's the significance of Rove's gaffe, I think: Whether or not Bush's guest worker plan is amended to include eventual citizenship, Rove's already revealed himself as a social inegalitarian at heart who doesn't much care. He's fine with #4.  Likewise, Rove's unlikely to object much--at least on egalitarian grounds--if we wind up with 20 or 40 million more illegal immigrants slinging tar and making beds. Hey, at least no American's children will have to do the work.

This is not the man you want comprehensively reforming immigration. Dividing work into skilled jobs fit for Americans and unskilled jobs unfit for Americans is certainly one logical reaction to the increasing returns to smarts and skills in our economy. But, as Krikorian notes, it's a reaction that would alter America's essential self-conception. Democrats complain about the inegalitarian effect of various Republican tax cuts, but that's a minor and superficial inequality compared to formalizing the snobbery of the skilled. ... [via Sullivan and Rising Hegemon] 1:43 A.M. link

Why Lie? The estimable Tom Maguire suggests that if Cheney aide Scooter Libby lied about Tim Russert telling him about Valerie Plame, it wasn't a lie that Libby "needed" to tell "in order to paint a useful deception."

Libby's story was that Russert reminded him on July 10; he then talked to Rove, who told him that Novak had the story of Wilson's wife armed with these two reminders, Libby then leaked to Miller and Cooper, sourcing it as reporter gossip.

That "reporter gossip" story works just as well if Libby simply sources it to Novak; the Russert detail added nothing to the legal fog bank he was allegedly trying to create.

I hesitate to venture into Plameland at this late date, but it seems to me that Libby's interests are indeed served by the Russert story: it takes the onus (and the spotlight) off of Rove. That's useful! Rove is more important to Bush than Libby is, Rove was a bigger potential campaign liability, and I don't think too many Bush administration aides like Libby win points with the boss by pissing Rove off. But I defer to more experienced Plamers on this issue. ... 1:37 A.M. link

Now here's a real conflict of interest:WaPo/CNN reporter Howie Kurtz defends Tim Russert on Kurtz's show, "Reliable Sources."WaPo/CNN reporter Howie Kurtz gets invited on Meet the Press  by Tim Russert.** ... Howie Kurtz could make something out of that! ... P.S.: As far as I can see Kurtz hadn't been on Russert's show since May*** of 2002. ...

**--For conflict of interest purposes, it doesn't matter much which came first, the defense or the payoff--sorry, I mean the invitation. ...

***--Corrected. Originally said "March." 12:06 A.M. link

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Surge Report: It's undoubtedly not the last word, but for the moment Omar of Iraq the Model is filing positive reports  on the surge. Sample:

Baghdad is still enjoying some days of relative calm interrupted only with minor sporadic incidents. In general there's a feeling that these days are better than almost any other time in months. This is more evident in the eastern side of Baghdad than the western part, because the former part has received more US and Iraqi military reinforcements than the latter. [E.A.]

Also, there seems to be an effort to return some Sunni mosques in Shiite areas to the Sunnis, including at least one in Sadr City**:

The mosque was reopened with a celebration where Sunnis and Shia prayed together behind a Sunni cleric. Before the ceremony Shia volunteers cleaned up the area around the mosque from garbage and fixed the sign that carried the name of the mosque.

I tend to trust Omar more than noted Iraq expert Robert Reich, who was confidently assuring everyone on Stephanopoulos's show today that the surge would fail.  ... I'm not saying Reich won't turn out to be right. But I'll believe it when Omar sees it. He's not seeing it yet. ... [via Insta]

**--This was unfortunately an operation led by Ahmed Chalabi, of whom Omar is appropriately skeptical. ..10:49 P.M. link

Hillary is so not inevitable! Jon Chait and Jim Geraghty make the point. Chait's argument is especially relentless. Sample:

The question is: Which candidate is more likely to benefit from endless hours of speechifying, hand-shaking, and town hall meetings? There's no reason to think the answer will be Clinton. While she may be just as smart as--and more experienced than--Edwards and Obama, she is an average orator, while Edwards is a very good one and Obama is a brilliant one. Having seen all three give speeches, it's hard for me to imagine how a prolonged side-by-side comparison will move voters into Clinton's camp. And, as the best-known of the leading candidates, she'll have the hardest time making a strong new impression anyway.

Post-Chait data point: In Iowa, "among those saying they have attended at least one caucus," Hillary leads Edwards by only 29-25%. A year out. ... Evitable! ...

Update: Reader K.S.Z. emails:

The obvious counter-example to your post on Hillary and Iowa: John Kerry. "Endless hours of speechifying, hand-shaking, and town hall meetings" should have sunk him, if they sank anyone. They didn't.

Good point. True, the tryout period promises to be much longer this time--but Chait does seem to have forgotten one crucial factor: the Iowa Dem caucusers are fools! Who knows whom they'll decide is "electable" this time?  Still, that only makes their choice seem more random and less inevitable, no? ... P.S.: The larger issue is that we--the Dems, the press--are on the verge of making Iowa seem all-important again, even though the kind, earnest, liberal Iowans have not picked a winning non-incumbent Democratic candidate in the thirty years since Jimmy Carter and David Broder put the caucuses on the map. ... 1:57 A.M. link

Radar Magazine comes out on Tuesday, with "Toxic Bachelors" advertised on the cover. A Ron Burkle story in the very first issue! That should put to rest those persistent, unproven  rumors that Burkle is funding Radar. I apologize for even worrying that editor Maer Roshan would pull his punches for someone who's at least a "good friend" of Yusef Jackson, chairman of Radar's parent company.. ...P.S.: What's that? Really? Must be some sort of printer's error.  ...

P.P.S.--Free advice to Roshan:  You boast in the Daily News that Radar plans to rely on 

"actual reporters and photographers to cover stories ... not pajama-clad post-collegiates snarkily blogging on content produced by others." [E.A.]

a) Snarky! b) Cliched; c) Strategically foolish: Why begin your second relaunch by pissing off bloggers? Everyone admires your touchingly quaint attachment to actual, you know, journalism--but bloggers could be your friends. For one thing, as you note, they need your content to snark off of. For another, they may need real jobs one day (and if you're still around, you will hire them--don't pretend you won't). In the meantime they can give you publicity for your forthcoming investigative achievements. And it's not as if you're debuting your magazine without an obvious, Faustian-bargainish, gaping journalistic sore spot--i.e., conflicts of interest created by your mysterious ownership structure that bloggers could harp on obsessively if sufficiently goaded, conflicts of interest that are just the sort of thing the plodders of the mainstream press might pick up on to tar your name. You only get one chance to make a third impression! ...

P.P.P.S.--I'd say zero. How does zero sound? What are the chances that Radar will cover the most enjoyable likely scandal on the horizon--the gripping story of how Bill Clinton somehow avoided temptation to remain faithful to Hillary over the past 8 years--with Jackson & Co. funding the venture? Burkle is Bill Clinton's business partner, remember. 

P.P.P.P.S.: When Mike Kinsley started Slate under Microsoft's ownership he (misguidedly, in my opinion) conceded, "There will be no major investigations of Microsoft in Slate." But Kinsley argued that by creating a new journalistic institution--even one with a blind spot--Slate was still "adding to the total amount of skeptical scrutiny going on." Couldn't Roshan make a similar argument for Radar? Sure. The differences are 1) We knew who owned Slate. We don't really know who's bankrolling Radar--i.e. where the blind spots are; 2) Melinda Gates wasn't running for president. ...12:49 A.M. link

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Dog-Catcher Meme: Tom Bevan debunks what has always seemed an Upper West Side/NYT myth about Giuliani--that "on September 10 Rudy couldn't have been elected dog catcher in New York City." True, he wasn't as popular as he had been, and the anti-Giuliani elites smelled victory (just as they smelled victory over Bush in 2004). But that's a distorted view--and not only for the usual liberal-cocooning reasons. There's also an idiosyncratic factor: cab drivers. Cab drivers hated Giuliani, for various reasons, including tough safety and cleanliness clampdowns. Most pre-9/11 visitors to New York--and native New Yorkers--who had money to take cabs were routinely entertained by anti-Rudy rants. But the cabdrivers in this case were not the voice of the people. They were the voice of an aggrieved interest group.  ... 1:02 P.M.  link

If ever there was a car I'd expect to be a piece of junk, it's the Jeep Compass. But USA Today's seemingly reliable James Healey likes it. 12:51 P.M.

RCP's John McIntyre thinks that, given Giuliani's likely entry, John McCain "would be well advised to position himself as the pro-growth, supply-side conservative in the Republican field." And sure enough Robert Novak just happens to have written a column touting McCain's supply-side credentials, claiming he "sounds more like Jack Kemp as a 2008 candidate." Novak says, of McCain:

He supports radically scaling down the estate tax and does not now favor upper income increases in the Social Security tax.

Wow. He does not now favor upper income Social Security tax increases! That'll reassure the anti-tax crowd. And McCain supports radically scaling down the estate tax! Isn't that the, um, Democrats' estate tax plan? I think it is! Anti-tax Republicans want to repeal the estate tax, as Novak knows. ... Oh, yes: McCain also talks to Arthur Laffer! ... It's hard to believe Republican economic conservatives are such cheap dates that they'll fall for McCain based on the thin evidence offered by Novak of his "transformation." .... P.S.:  Bob Wright and I discuss some serious Giuliani weaknesses McCain might play on, including a  big 9/11 mistake. ... 1:27 A.M. link

Only a decade or so too late (and more than three years after Chrysler) General Motors finally coming out with what should be an affordable rear-drive sedan. ... 1:09 A.M.

82_horizontal_rule

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]

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Mad About Modi


Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.


Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.