Does Hillary want Gore to run?

A mostly political Weblog.
April 30 2007 4:50 PM

Does Hillary Want Gore In?

It's a not-so-crazy strategy for victory.

Does Hillary want Al Gore in the race? That's the thought that sprang to mind when her husband gratuitously told Larry King "you have got the prospect that Vice President Gore might run."  Hillary cadre James Carville followed up by declaring that Gore would run. ... Normally you don't advertise to potential donors and operatives that they might want to save their money and time for some other candidate who's not yet in the race, right? But when you think about it, a Gore entry might be good for Hillary--it would dilute the field opposing her, allowing her to maybe squeak by with a plurality victory. ...

In previous presidential primary races, such a strategy wouldn't be such a good bet, of course. With a crowded field, you might win with 30% in Iowa--but the lagging contenders would drop out as the primary season continued, and you'd eventually have to face only one or two major opponents. A candidate with high negatives and a relatively low "ceiling" on her support--like Hillary--would eventually discover that 30% wasn't enough. But this year might be different: The primaries are so front-loaded that there may be no long slog to weed out the crowded field. A mega-primary on February 5, only a few weeks after the Iowa caucuses, could pick half the delegates to the Democratic convention. If Hillary were to win 30% in Iowa, and that translated into a 30% plurality showing on February 5, she could have a commanding lead very quickly, no? ...

P.S.: [Isn't it panicking for Hillary to start gaming a plurality-victory scenario this far out?--ed. Hillary seems prone to panic. How else to explain the ill-advised attack on Obama via David Geffen? See also "Emailer X,"  who argues she was panicked into getting into the race too early.]

P.P.S.: The flaw in the 'plurality' strategy, of course, is the Feiler Faster Thesis, which holds that even in a rushed, front-loaded primary system modern wired voters have plenty of time in the two final weeks of January to process the Iowa results and coalesce behind an anti-Hillary alternative who could then get more than a mere plurality. ...

P.P.P.S.: Doesn't the front-loaded strategy increase the chances of, yes, a brokered convention? I guess that will never happen. Until it happens. ...

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P.P.P.P.S.: If the Clintons want Gore in the race, of course, that might be enough to guarantee that Gore doesn't enter the race--if, as is widely believed, Gore doesn't like the Clintons. Clinton's statement could be a reverse-briar-patch attempt to keep Gore out. ...

Update: Alert reader "Y," who seems to be a bit of an insider, has a simpler explanation--

The main reason the Clintons promote the prospect of a Gore candidacy is that Gore speculation freezes some anti-Hillary donors and activists who would otherwise go to Obama or Edwards ... [snip] ...  From Hillary's perspective, the longer those people stay on the sidelines the better. [E.A.]

That assumes the donors and activists who aren't with her already are probably going to go with one of her opponents, which seems a plausible assumption. ...

Of course, the two explanations are not incompatible: Gore freezes the uncommitted donors today, splits the anti-Hillary vote tomorrow. ... 1:22 P.M. link

I'm kind of hating Jacob Weisberg today. ... 12:56 P.M.

Nice haircut, John: Norman Lear defends John Edwards' $400 Beverly Hills haircut. He says "Little Joe" Torrenueva--Lear's barber too--charges only $175!** The rest is the cost of having him travel to Edwards instead of vice-versa. ... Hmm. Does that help Edwards? Men in the real America--not one of the Two Americas but big one in between--don't pay for barbers to come to them. Maybe if Edwards were president his time would be that precious. But he's an ex-Senator a year before the first primary. ...

P.S.: Wait a minute. "Little Joe." I think I once had my hair cut by Little Joe (decades ago--when, as Lear says, his prices were closer to $20). He had a shop on Santa Monica Blvd., no? If it's the same guy 1) Good haircut. A bit flashy;  2) Not a pretentious metrosexual 'I feel pretty' fluffer type of shop, but a more traditional Italian-type macho place--part of the real America, just fancier; 3) Nice guy. Gave me a long thought-out argument against the guaranteed annual income. He said it would sap the work ethic! I supported the guaranteed income at the time and thought he was way too conservative. ... And there were bees everywhere!***...

**-- Norman Lear has hair? At $175, what's the per-follicle cost of Lear's cut? It could be a record. ...

***-- Joking! ... 11:15 A.M. link

Sunday, Ap ril 29, 2007

McCain Comes Out Against the Fence: Straight Talk, Fake Vote? Presidential candidate John McCain voted for the Secure Fence Act, which called for building 700 miles of fencing on the Mexican border. He told Vanity Fair, "I'll build the goddamned fence if they want it." Indeed, the logical move for supporters of McCain's "comprehensive immigration reform" is to buy off opponents of its semi-amnesty provisions with a border fence. And McCain has recently made loud noises about moving to please the anti-amnesty Republican base on immigration.  But in a meeting with the Texas Border Coalition in Laredo earlier this month, McCain was apparently forthright in opposing the fence he seemingly voted for:

"The Texas Border Coalition has a resolution that we are against the wall," said McAllen Mayor Richard Cortéz. "Sen. McCain said he was also against the wall. He recognizes there have to be some kind of barriers to protect the border, but he favored more technology, more sensors. He felt the wall was a waste of money." [E.A.]

Possibilities:1) McCain is so confident about the prospects for passing "comprehensive" reform that he feels the fence is no longer necessary as a sop; 2) McCain has given up on passing "comprehensive" reform, so the fence is no longer necessary as a sop; 3) McCain has given up on his presidential campaign, so the fence is no longer necessary as a sop; 4) He foolishly told the border coalition what it wanted to hear; 5) He foolishly told the border coalition what he really thinks; 6) The Border Coalition inaccurately heard what it wanted to hear. ...

P.S.: Note that the Bush administration, despite Tony Snow's seemingly straightforward promises  ('[T]he fence is going to be built"), has recently indicated that it plans to rely on a "virtual fence," not an actual fence.

Congress has approved 700 miles of fence for the border and has allowed officials to decide whether to build metal fences or virtual walls.

[U.S. Border Patrol chief David] Aguilar expects most of the distance will be covered by the virtual barrier, with metal walls kept to a minimum. [E.A.]

Again, what's odd is not that the administration has come out against an actual, physical barrier. That's obviously been Bush's real position all along. What's odd is that they'd reveal this real position while "comprehensive" reform is being debated--instead of at least dangling the possibility of a real fence in front of anti-amnesty conservatives. Why end the Kabuki with the denouement still in doubt? ... Even if the McCain/Bush supporters now concede the fence issue in negotiations, why would anyone trust them? ...

Update: Ivan Kirigin, who works in robotics, has some useful comments  on the "real" vs. "virtual" fence issue:

[A] wall is much cheaper and more effective solution than an array of cameras. They aren't mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite. ... [A] camera system is pretty ineffective without proper enforcement or actual barriers ...[snip] [A] wall without a camera system would work pretty well. A camera network without a wall wouldn't.

Kirigin seems to assume the Bushies want a border barrier that works. I'm not so sure. Hence, the "virtual" fence. (The Border Patrol, meanwhile, will always support a complicated "virtual" monitoriing system that requires a big increase in the budget of ...  the Border Patrol). ... 11:35 P.M.  link

Report from the field: My mother says her garden is "absolutely buzzing" with bees. So they haven't all disappeared. ... 12:48 A.M.

Saturday, Ap ril 28, 2007

Put a tail on us, go ahead: DNC Chairman Howard Dean has told CNN's Wolf Blitzer  that Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani

has a lot of character issues that he has to answer for. ... His personal life is a serious problem for him.

Dean refused to specify Giuliani's "problem." ... Questions! Is this a subject the Democrats' chairman really wants to open up? Bill ("I guess I hug people sometimes") Richardson and Mrs. Bill Clinton--to name two Democratic presidential candidates--might disagree. ... If Dean knows this, as he should, was his comment actually a malicious bank shot designed to make the campaign harder for Hillary, Richardson, or another Dem candidate--one with a "personal" problem? ... 12:03 A.M.  link

Friday, Ap ril 27, 2007

The Gravel Road: Don't the crowded Democratic debates need at least one more candidate--a conservative dark horse who can sharpen the debate from the right the way Kucinich sharpened it from the left? I would have liked someone to question, for example, Gov. Richardson's claim that he would withdraw all troops by the end of this year and "use the leverage of that withdrawal" to negotiate a regional peace with Iran and Syria. Richardson's boast may not be as crazy as it sounds--the threat of chaos produced by withdrawal is at least a possible source of leverage. But the very threat acknowledges that chaos is what would, absent a deal, follow withdrawal, no? And don't we always have the threat of withdrawal, even if we don't withdraw? But if we do withdraw we lose the threat of not withdrawing, and whatever leverage it gives. ... In any case, a critique from the right would have provoked a useful discussion, and sharpened the Dem nominee to face a similar critique from the GOP's candidate. ... P.S.: If you know any conservative Democratic pols with lots of time on their hands, encourage them to run. They can live large like Mike Gravel! ... 2:55 P.M.

'And it's a pretty nice haircut':The Politico'sRoger Simon did John Edwards a big favor when he wrote, in a passage Brian Williams read during yesterday's debate:

Many people, I think, missed the point about the haircuts. The point is not the cost. John Edwards is a very rich man and could afford even a $4,000 haircut without noticing it.

But why did he pay for his haircuts out of campaign funds?

I would say the point is not that he paid for his haircuts out of campaign funds, an accounting glitch easily forgotten. The point is that he paid $400 for a haircut! What kind of man pays $400 for a haircut. A rich, foppishly vain man! That's the charge that sticks. ... P.S.: Would Edwards' contributors begrudge him, say, a $50 haircut paid for out of campaign funds? I don't think so. ...

Update: Reader M.K. dissents--

what confuses me is that *every* candidate doesn't have a $400 haircut. How much do they pay to media consultants? They put millions into subtly shaping their image. They have to worry about what color tie to wear. To show up in a bad suit would indicate you're not ready for prime time. ... Isn't it a good investment to look good when you're photographed a million times per day?

Anyway, I would question the judgment of a candidate who skimps on that kind of thing.

Hmm. I get up to $200 with this argument. But not $400! [What if you add coloring?--ed With highlights, maybe. ... You don't think ... ] I very much doubt that the other candidates actually do spend anywhere near that much, however rational it might be. The male candidates, anyway. ... 2:20 P.M.

Several sophisticated commentators (e.g., Smith, Dickerson, YepsenVervers, Chris Matthews, Lee Bandy) thought that either Obama was off his game or that Hillary was on top of hers in yesterday's debate. Yet the SurveyUSA robo-poll seems to confirm kf's cheesy declaration of an Obama win. These are not contradictory developments. All they mean is that even Bad Obama beats Good Hillary. ...

Backfill: See also Dick Morris ("One is driven to the conclusion that Hillary is defeating herself! Voters are watching the former first lady in her first extended period of national exposure since her health care debacle and don't like what they see. She appears scripted, phony, artificial, and even boring.") ... 10:24 A.M.

Thursday, Ap ril 26, 2007

Why have a debate? AP has already written its lede: It's 3:15. The big South Carolina Democratic debate starts in 45 minutes. But you don't have to actually watch it. AP's Nedra Pickler has already filed her story, in the past tense.

Democratic presidential candidates largely stood together Thursday in support of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and then sought to separate themselves on the details in the first primary debate of the 2008 race.

Now that's reporting! ... The depressing thing is the debate is so predictable she probably got it right. ... Update: Technically she did, but there were better ledes available once the event had, you know, taken place. "Obama Soars; Hill Bores." ** Something like that (even though I didn't particularly like Obama's disingenuous Schiavo regret--as if it weren't inevitable that bureaucrats or judges decide on end-of-life questions when family members can't agree). ... Chris Matthews must have been compensating when he said Hillary did well. If that's the non-grating Hillary, I hope we don't see the grating Hillary.*** ... Kucinich chipped away at her war vote effectively, I thought. ... Edwards kind of faded into the background. Crickets didn't chirp--they completed their entire life-cycle during the pause after Edwards was asked to name his 'moral leader.' ...

More: Here's Pickler's post-debate lede:

Democratic presidential hopefuls flashed their anti-war credentials Thursday night and heaped criticism on President Bush's Iraq policy in an early first debate of the 2008 campaign.

The one she wrote before the debate was better! This one could have been written in 2005. ...

**--The Lesson of Lawrence O'Donnell: In punditry, it's more important to have strong opinions than accurate opinions. That's mine! ...

***-- NYT's Nagourney and Zeleny say Hillary was "professorial and emphatic."Translation: Grating! ... 3:17 P.M. link

Wednesday, Ap ril 25, 2007

Look who's discovered "rebranding." ... Update: Alert reader E.C. claims this is a hardy perennial, citing an eerily similar kf entry from three years ago. I'd forgotten that one! But the 2004 Sullivan item it discusses didn't adopt the term "rebranding." ... P.S.: Am I the only one who finds Sullivan, in his high-horse Brit leader-writer bloviation mode, virtually unreadable?

The United States confronts a crisis in leadership ... It is long past time to retire the idea ...   the collapse of America's moral standing ...  Neither extreme ... And yet America remains the indispensable nation.  ... The president, moreover  ... We can and should debate how this came to be the case ... .

Luckily, there are other Sullivan modes. ...  11:56 P.M. link

Note to Doug Bailey and Gerald Rafshoon of Unity08: Is Steve Kornacki really the guy you want as "an organizer for Unity08"? Judging from this ill-supported pro-Pelosi party-line op-ed in the New York Observer, Kornacki doesn't seem to think that (to quote from the Unity '08's "What We Believe" statement):

neither of today's major parties reflects the aspirations, fears or will of the majority of Americans. Both have polarized and alienated the people.

He seems like an enthusiastic Dem. Nothing wrong with that! But aren't the best organizers people who actually believe in their cause? Are there so few people who do believe in your cause that you have to hire people who don't? Have the Democrats completely coopted or overshadowed your message? ... [via RCP] 11:28 A.M. link

"ID Sweep Triggers Protests": One reason to wait and see if immigration enforcement efforts work before granting an amnesty (that might encourage more illegal border-crossing): any federal crackdown will provoke protests. Not to mention litigation. Many of the groups that want amnesty do not really want enforcement to work, it's reasonable to suspect. ... 10:46 A.M.

Tuesday, Ap ril 24, 2007

Young Ezra Discovers 'Neoliberalism': On bloggingheads a while back, I called Ezra Klein a "young punk toeing the Bob Kuttner line cluelessly," a fit of unbloggish fogieness for which I paid a predictable price. Now Klein has embarked on a great voyage of discovery to learn about the political tendency--"neoliberalism"--on which he has already pronounced judgment so authoritatively. In the May Washington Monthly, Klein interviews Charles Peters, who coined the American version of the term, and wonders how he, Klein, could have gotten it so wrong.

EK: The roots of the Monthly and its version of neoliberalism were in the desire to make government work better. You have supported a national health care system for a very long time. That was not something the original neoliberals were afraid of. How did we get to this moment, where everyone thinks neoliberals want to chart a centrist, somewhat conservative course away from liberalism? [E.A.]

Because "everyone" consists of young punks who cluelessly toe the Bob Kuttner line? Just kidding! I've made similar mistakes about Dem tendencies about which I thought I knew more than I did (e.g., Markos Moulitsas' Kossacks, before I read his criticisms of Dem special interests). ...

P.S.: Klein raises a worry about "asymmetry in honesty," by which he seems to mean the possibility that Democrats will tell harsh truths about their candidates while Republicans say only nice things about theirs, giving Republican candidates a P.R. advantage. a) Is this factually accurate? It seems to me there is currently as much sharp criticism of the GOP candidates in National Review's  The Corner, say, as there's been sharp criticism of Dem candidates at New Republic's The Plank--even the old neolib Plank; b) Do you want to get your political analysis from people who worry about "asymmetry in honesty"? The clear implication is that maybe Dems shouldn't tell too much truth (until Republicans do the same). No unilateral dis-smarmament! Maybe Klein isn't cluelessly toeing the party line after all. ... 11:42 P.M. link

Dealbreaker: Obama has apparently just  endorsed one of the worst ideas of Carter era liberalism, "comparable worth," which would have lawyers and judges deciding what every job is "worth" according to some bureaucratic, non-market criteria that would inevitably punish "unskilled" manual work--i.e, the very workers who are screwed the most by globalization. Are truckdrivers really paid too much? ... [You are just refighting the battles of the '80s--ed Hard to avoid when the '80s keep coming back.] ... Too bad neoliberalism is dead, or else theremight be some Democrats pointing out what a dreadful, recycled idea this is. Even Hillary doesn't endorse it, as Ben Smith points out. ... Update: The N.Y. Sun's Josh Gerstein suggests Obama's move is just an attempt to suck up to Iowa Sen. Harkin, the sponsor of the bill. I dunno. Obama's also endorsed allowing unions to organize by "card check" rather than secret ballot. There's a pattern here--namely an interest-group-pleasing willingness to see the economy permeated by a legalistic adversarialism ("comparable worth" lawsuits, union-management negotiations) that might not trouble a president of the Harvard Law Review as much as the rest of us. ... P.S.: WSJ's Deborah Solomon presents a more moderate picture of Obama's economic policies, but she doesn't offer much in the way of telling detail. ...  2:29 P.M. link

On Real Time with Bill Maher, John O'Sullivan noted that his fellow conservatives haven't really liked Alberto Gonzales since Gonzales went all wet in the 2003 Michigan affirmative action cases, telling the Supreme Court it was OK not to strike down all race-conscious preference program s. But, given recent developments, isn't Gonzales' position looking politically, if not legally, a lot smarter these days--from an anti-affirmative action point of view?  ... Bush has never made opposition to affirmative action a campaign issue, after all. The suspicion has always been he wanted the courts to do away with it while he stayed out of the fray. The Michigan ruling that followed Gonzales' milquetoast brief meant that the courts weren't about to do the job. Yet now race preferences--in Michigan, and maybe across the country--are being killed anyway, by the voters. That's even better for Bush. His fingerprints aren't on the corpse, and even Republican judges' fingerprints aren't on the corpse. The Democrats are left blaming the electorate. ... If the Supreme Court in the Michigan cases had struck down race preferences,  wouldn't we be hearing ongoing, passionate Democratic (and democratic) attacks on unelected activists in robes, etc.? Instead, there's mostly ...  silence. Affirmative action may be joining gun control on the list of liberal issues Dem candidates don't push very hard because they want to win. ... 1:51 A.M.  link

Monday, Ap ril 23, 2007

Clinton Inflation Watch: Mystery Pollster proposes a way to test Chris Bowers' explanation of Clinton's poorer showing in the Rasmussen robotic poll. (Bowers' theory is that the hard-core, more likely to vote Dems selected by Rasmussen's tight voter screen are more hostile to Hillary.) ... P.S.: If it turns out that hard-core Dems aren't really all that different from Dem voters in general, that would render more plausible kf 'salternative "Don't Tell Mama" explanation--that voters of all core-hardness will tell truths to Rasumussen's robots they won't tell regular human interviewers. ... P.S.: Of course, the two theories aren't incompatible. Specifically, it could be that hard core Dems don't differ from regular Dems when they answer human polltakers' questions, but they differentially blurt out their Hillary hatred to the robotic questioners! To really get to the truth, you'd need a) to conduct MP's proposed big poll comparing hard core and regular Dem voters; and b) to conduct this big poll non-robotically and robotically. ... Seems worth it, at least if you're Hillary. 4:02 P.M.

Has CBS's hiring of Katie Couric turned out to be a mistake? Not necessarily--if, as suggested in this space, CBS's decision was not about boosting the CBS Evening News but about damaging NBC's profitable Today Show. Today has been damaged, at least a bit. ... 2:29 P.M.

Cooler Heads: Former U.S. Mideast envoy Dennis Ross further undermines the hawk-promoted idea that the resolution of Iran's sailor-seizure was a "humiliation" for the West. Sorry, Charles!   ... The abrupt release of the hostages means (according to Ross) that within Iran's government, Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) were the losers and the pragmatist viewpoint was the winner--with encouraging implications for negotiations on the nuclear issue:

The Iranian leadership as a whole wants nuclear weapons and sees its interests in the Middle East largely as opposed to ours. But the non-IRGC segments (the mullahs, their merchant-class backers, and the liberalizers associated with former Presidents Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammed Khatami) are mindful of the costs of isolation, and they don't seek nuclear arms at any price. That is the meaning of pragmatism--recognizing Iran's interests and not pursuing a path that ultimately costs Iran more than it gains.

P.S.: How, exactly, did Blair "botch" the hostage crisis again? ... 10:23 A.M.

Doesn't anybody pander anymore? Still no Democratic presidential contender tapping anti-legalization sentiment on immigration. You'd think someone would seize this potentially vote-rich position. Washington Times speculates that someone could be ... Al Gore.

Americans for Better Immigration, which opposes legalization of aliens, graded Mr. Gore an A-minus for his votes in Congress. The group gave a D to both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obama, and graded Mrs. Clinton a D-minus.

12:05 A.M.

Friday, Ap ril 20, 2007

Alert emailer S.F. asks if NBC, when it broadcast baseball games, refused to show video of fans running onto the field. Most broadcasters don't, on the grounds that it would only encourage more attention-seeking disruptions. ... If that's NBC's practice, why is it OK in order to prevent the disruption of a baseball game but not to prevent mass murder? Just asking. ... [But Brian Williams is anguished about it!--ed  He continues to deceptively and self-servingly focus on the pain of the VT families--he's bonding!--and not the pain of the future families in the future who'll lose sons and daughters to other psychos who want to get their videos on national TV.]

More left-right anti-NBC consensus: HuffPo'sHarry Shearer questions the civic information value of broadcasting the Cho Electronic Press Kit.

Did we learn anything useful during the spate of interviews of Charlie Manson years ago, except that he was one crazy motherfucker? Cho's pathetic outpourings deserved to be put back where they came from--in a small room, with FBI guys sentenced to read/see and parse them Instead, a hundred thousand self-pitying mentally ill young men (and women?) have just been shown the road to glory one more time. ...

I'm sure there are things we all have learned from Cho's promo-pack (the most important of which is that he compiled it and sent it off). What I doubt is that these are things we couldn't learn 98% as well by hearing, say, Pete Williams tell us what's in the videos and photos, rather than seeing the videos themselves.... P.S.: The only thing NBC will understand, I suspect, is if it either loses viewers or if someone (Williams? Capus?) loses their job. [But at NBC they promote you if you fail (i.e. Zucker)-ed Good point! So a ratings decline by itself won't do the job.] ... 12:53 P.M.

Business Week's Jon Fine actually uses the phrase"the genius of TimesSelect" in his latest column. Very troubling. ... 11:56 A.M.

The Imus affair does look kind of small in retrospect, doesn't it? Remind yourself just how small with blogger  N. Ephron's excellent, v-meta post.  Free sample:

Another reason I didn't write about Imus, incidentally, is that by mid-week, the entry level into the Imus-commentary sweepstakes changed, and since I do not have two daughters, much less two beautiful black daughters, I was ineligible to comment on how Imus' remarks would deeply affect them (if they were old enough to read) or had already affected them so much that they would probably never recover. I might even have made the mistake of talking about Imus' "victims," when actually the victims were the only true winners of the week, and by the way, how bad can it be for the victims that they were insulted by a lunatic but then got to be on Oprah?

3:03 A.M.

Thursday, Ap ril 19, 2007

Is the wrong party dissatisfied with its presidential candidates? I think so. ... 4:19 P.M.

Isn't Michael Ledeen right--NBC shouldn't have shown that video. It seems less like an "ethical challenge" than a no-brainer. Why encourage other potential Cho's to try for a similar publicity bonanza? This isn't a Unabomber like case where publicizing a killer's electronic media kit might help identify him. We already know who did it. ...  Ethics pontificators like Tom Rosenstiel seem to be lining up to praise how "sensitive" NBC was. Sensitive to the potential future murder victims. Sensitive to ratings. They struck a difficult balance! They walked a fine line! They split the difference. ... NBC's responsibility seems especially heavy since, as the sole recipient of Cho's posthumous publicity kit, they had the power to keep it bottled up and deny him the reward he sought, no? That's not usually the case--i.e., when a killer is still at large or communicates through multiple media outlets.**... P.S.:Who did more damage, Brian Williams or Don Imus? That seems like a no-brainer too. ... Backfill: See also Stephen Spruiell. ...  Update: Virginia state police superintendent is "disappointed in the editorial decision," according to a Reuters site that also displays the video (which is why I don't feel like linking to it.) ... See also bloggingheads' discussion. ... More: L.A. cop Jack Dunphy:

None of them will ever admit this publicly, of course, but in the safety of their corner offices at Rockefeller Center sit men and women who are privately gleeful at the ratings boost they were given in the form of the box that landed in their mail room Wednesday morning. 

If NBC hadn't run the video, future mass murderers might send their ratings-boosters to CBS. (I'm not saying NBC execs consciously made this calculation, but it's built into the standard reporter-source algorithm that if you give sources what they want, more will come. And it's true.) ...

More: Michael Crowley dissents, not because he thinks the post-crime publicity doesn't encourage future murderers, but because he thinks Cho's crime has already gotten so much excessively detailed publicity that the release of the video didn't add much to his publicity reward. I disagree. Videos have special power, they go viral, they are (compared with news stories) permanent, and they seem to be important to the publicity-seeking killers, which is why the publicity-seeking killers put so much effort into making them. ...

Shock: ABC's consultant sees this a little more clearly than NBC's! (He also speaks with some authority, emphasizing Cho's desire for a form of "immortality," which Brian Williams has now given him.) ...

**--NBC's press statement, boasting "we have limited our usage of the video across NBC News, including MSNBC, to no more than 10 percent of our airtime" is extremely disingenuous. Once the video is out the video is out. NBC knows that. ... [Via Lucianne and RCP12:56 P.M. link

Not with a bang but with a whimper ... What if affirmative action went away and it turned out nobody much cared? Race preference defender  Race preference defender Lee Bollinger agonizes:

Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia's president, said he was worried about another admissions issue. "I'm becoming more pessimistic about the survival of affirmative action in this country," said Bollinger, who in his previous position as president of the University of Michigan led that institution's fight to the Supreme Court to affirm the right of colleges to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.

Bollinger noted that Michigan voters recently adopted a state constitutional amendment barring the use of affirmative action in public college admissions, and that foes of affirmative action are planning similar measures in other states. Beyond his frustration with the vote, Bollinger said he was bothered by the "degree of complacency" with which academics had responded to the outcome.

Isn't it better if preferences die quietly instead of with a big, divisive racial fuss? Complacency has its virtues. ... 12:15 A.M.

Wednesday, Ap ril 18, 2007

[s]omething is systematically different about the Rasmussen surveys that has been showing a tighter Democratic race over the last three weeks.

But he likes Chris Bowers' explanation  of the difference better then my "Don't Tell Mama" Theory. ... P.S.: Either way, it's bad news for Hillary if (as MP suggests) the Rasmussen poll is more accurate. ... 10:10 P.M.

Glass Snobbery: I don't listen that much to This American Life--my impression has been that it's mainly subtly ironic nerd/hip anecdotes. Does it always feature tedious bits of propaganda like the recent segment (#4 on this link) from a "fellow at the New America Foundation"  crudely presenting one side of the argument for the DREAM Act? ("There is a very simple solution to all of this, a bill called the DREAM Act ..." concludes narrator Douglas McGray--as if he were talking to children and there were no arguments against rewarding "undocumented" immigrants by granting their children legal status, in-state tuition and citizenship.) You'd get a lot more useful information from a two-graf editorial in USA Today. But it wouldn't be told in that clipped, geeky, knowing fake-Ira-Glass voice. ... 8:43 P.M. link

Parking spaces for rent at L.A. Times garage:Probably not because car-pooling's caught on. ... P.S.: I hear there we lots of spaces available in East Germany in 1988! [Cheap-ed Yet oddly satisfying.] 6:52 P.M.

Barack the Hack: Barack Obama's misguided attempt to connect the Virgina Tech murders with the Imus slur  ("quiet violence") and, yes, loss of health care benefits due to layoffs and overseas competition, doesn't come off quite as obscene as you'd expect when you listen to it--because Obama's delivery is too fatigued and subdued, even depressive, to trigger the sense that he's manipulating anybody. Still, it's not exactly evidence of a fresh intelligence, or even basic common sense, at work--much less rising to the occasion. It suggests a mindset that tries to fit every event into a familiar, comforting framework he can spoon-feed his audience without disturbing them. ... Charitable explanation: Democratic primary campaigns will do that to you. ... [via Drudge  and Ben Smith] ... Backfill: Isaac Chotiner calls Obama's speech "obnoxious." ... See also Richard Baehr. ... Update: Matthew Yglesias  endorses the idea that this a "petty manufactured incident" (i.e., a speech before thousands that Obama himself compared to Robert Kennedy's famous post-MLK assassination address). It's also "gossip." [And you are a "right wing hack"-ed That hurt. Another oubreak of "quiet violence"!] ... P.S.: Matt, are you really going to elect a Democratic president by dismissing any criticism as the work of the Drudge conveyor belt? What about when Hillary and Edwards make it? Is there any mistake that couldn't be dismissed in this way? [Obama can't make mistakes--ed I forgot! Keep reminding me.] 2:47 A.M. link

Tuesday, Ap ril 17, 2007

Bill Clinton: "I’m tired. I’m not a kid anymore." ... Plus, he's photographed with three women, one of them standing at an angle to the camera. Take it away, Ann Althouse! ... 11:56 A.M.

Monday, Ap ril 16, 2007

Obama has climbed to within 2 points of Hillary in the latest Rasmussen robo-poll. Hillary has a big problem with men--Obama leads her by 11% among men. ... Inevitable robo-poll-based theory: Hillary leads by 8 in the most recent comparable CNN Poll (comparable meaning with Gore not included). The CNN Poll** appears to be a conventional telephone survey conducted by human interviewers. Why might Hillary do worse in a robo-poll, like Rasmussen's, where the pollee doesn't have to talk to an actual person but simply presses buttons? There's an obvious possible answer: Men don't like Hillary but they're reluctant to say so in public. They'll tell a robot. But they chicken out when they'd have to tell a human interviewer--especially, maybe, a female interviewer. They're scared of looking like sexist pigs. They don't want to get grief from female Hillary supporters. But in the privacy of the voting booth, they might be expected to vote as they vote in the robo-survey. ...

P.S.: It would help confirm the theory if I could find a breakdown of the CNN survey by gender. If the female vote in the two polls was similar, but the male vote for Hillary plummeted in the robo-poll, that would tend to support the "Don't Tell Mama" explanation.  ... Backup DTM theory: Of course (if it turns out the gender gap in the two polls is roughly comparable) it could be that many men and many women don't like Hillary but are reluctant to say so in public.  ... Bonus extra heavy duty nondisprovable gender-related DTM theory: Men and women don't like Hillary, and neither group wants to admit that to a human. The difference is that women, unlike men, don't dare admit it even to a robot. ...

Backfill: See Chris Bowers' alternate explanation  for Hillary's consistently weak Rasmussen showing. ...

**Corrected. Originally said "Gallup Poll." CNN and Gallup are no longer an item. ... 1:03 P.M. link

Paul Krugman still knows how to make an unconvincing argument. Here he's railing against the "infiltration of the federal government by large numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda--which is very different from simply being people of faith." Seems like an easy target, after the Monica Goodling resignation. I was ready to be alarmed, until Krugman began deploying his killer examples [Emphasis added in boldface, followed by kf commentary in italics]:

For example, The Boston Globe reports on one Regent law school graduate who was interviewed by the Justice Department's civil rights division. Asked what Supreme Court decision of the past 20 years he most disagreed with, he named the decision to strike down a Texas anti-sodomy law.

Isn't there a legitimate, highfalutin' legal argument against what appears to be a "substantive due process" argument in Lawrence v. Texas, the anti-anti-sodomy decision? Why do we assume a Regent law school graduate isn't making that legitimate argument?

Or consider George Deutsch, the presidential appointee at NASA who told a Web site designer to add the word ''theory'' after every mention of the Big Bang, to leave open the possibility of ''intelligent design by a creator.''

The Big Bang isn't a theory?

But did you know that Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota -- three of whose deputies recently stepped down, reportedly in protest over her management style -- is, according to a local news report, in the habit of quoting Bible verses in the office?

Quoting Bible verses in the office? Say no more! How crazy can these people get? ... Would Krugman be as exercised if a lawyer quoted the Torah? The Vedas? What's wrong with quoting the Bible? How is this "very different from simply being people of faith"? Could Martin Luther King Jr. get a job in Krugman's administration?

I'm not saying theocratic incompetents from the "700 Club" aren't fanning out through the government. Maybe they are. I'm saying Paul Krugman is not convincing on this issue. He doesn't even seem to be trying to be convincing. Why should he try? There's always been a market for anti-hick editorializing in the New York Times, especially anti-Southern-hick editorializing(see Steve Oney's account of the Times' counterproductive crusade in the Leo Frank case of 1913, which presaged its more recent counterproductive crusade  against Augusta National). Krugman's select Times readers aren't exactly going to demand rigor when it comes to attacking Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. ... 1:42 A.M.

Sunday, Ap ril 15, 2007

Is the Bush administration's Kabuki appease-the-right pre-semi-amnesty show of force on the border already ending? The National Guard's border deployment

has been a success, according to the administration and the Border Patrol, which say the number of people trying to enter the U.S. illegally has fallen dramatically. [ North County Times]

The administraiton's natural reaction to the success of this deployment is, of course, to ... reduce the deployment! 'It was working, so we stopped it!'... There are several possible explanations for this seemingly perverse, risky move: 1) The guardsmen are needed in Iraq and Afghanistan; 2) The Bushies cynically think conservatives won't notice and will stay appeased while Congress passes "comprehensive" reform; 3) The Bushies think they don't need conservatives to pass "comprehensive" reform; 4) The Bushies have given up on "comprehensive" reform; 5) It was working, so they stopped it. Specifically, the reduced flow of illegal immigrants was forcing employers to raise wages to attract unskilled workers. Can't have that. Employers didn't like it, and the GOP is the party of employers. ... It's overdetermined! ... P.S.: My guess is a mix of 1, 2, and 5. ... 11:05 P.M. link

Saturday, Ap ril 14, 2007

L.A.'s Answer to Joel Klein:LAT's Bob Sipchen  reports on the latest Los Angeles charter school blowup, in which the city's school board appears to have tried to block charters in black/Latino South Central L.A. that many parents seem to want. Not surprisingly, the local NEA-affiliated union is implicated! Surprisingly, it'snot the usual "union kills charters" story. It's more a "charter entrepreneur tries to work from within with support of new superintendent and learns his lesson" story. ... The moral would seem to be that changing the school system from within is like changing L.A. Times from within: it's hard, almost impossibly hard, much harder than letting market-like competition put the dinosaur-like institution out of business as customers go elsewhere. (Sorry, Bob!) "Exit" beats "voice." It usually does. It's easier to stop going to a restaurant than to talk the chef into learning how to cook. ... 9:00 P.M.

Does this Chicago Tribune story really debunk the idea, which Katie Couric (or whoever!) put on her blog, that Barack Obama "grew up praying in a mosque"? I don't think so, despite Media Matters' and Eat the Press' outrage at Couric. Young Obama seems to have only gone to the mosque with his stepfather "occasionally." OK! Occasionally. That's within the bounds of what Couric (or ghost-Couric) said. (Was Obama praying anywhere else? How many kids only go to church "occasionally" and still label themselves Christian?)... P.S.: It doesn't bother me that Obama went to a mosque as a kid! I'm with the liberals who see it as a potential asset. It does bother me that Dem press watchdogs seem to be straining to brand anyone who mentions it (i.e. "Couric") as a smear artist.  Even if he went to a mosque only twice, and his Muslim father was a swingin' free-spirited half-animist Muslim father, that's still an unusual background for a presidential candidate. Obama has to figure out a way to effectively deal with it himself--which won't be by claiming 'that's all been debunked' when it hasn't. ... P.P.S.: And, yes, it's also troubling that CBS panicked and changed Couric's blog (rendering it near-senseless, as ETP points out). If that's the post-Imus world--corporate news even blander than before,  bland as school textbooks--I'm not enthusiastic. But it will be good for the blogs.** ...

**-Maybe this post-Imus arrangement is inherent in the technology of the Web. 1) The Web lets individuals express themselves to the world in a way that's very difficult to suppress. But 2) the Web also makes it much easier to organize campaigns to pressure those media institutions--i.e. CBS and NBC--that can be pressured via their advertisers.  Therefore, as the Web takes hold, individual blogs become freer and wilder while big, advertiser-supported MSM outlets head in the opposite direction, becoming even more controlled and anodyne. Just a theory. Maybe even a numbingly obvious theory. But for a while there it looked as if the MSM was going to get more loosey-goosey like everyone else. ... 6:27 P.M. link

Sell!**General Motors is apparently delaying production of its desperately-needed rear-wheel-drive cars. According to Car and Driver, GM product macher Bob Lutz

outlined a series of rear-drive projects that have been put on hold until the auto maker knows how strict the proposed new corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) regulations will be.

Mounting casualties so far include migrating the next Chevy Impala to the Global RWD Architecture (formerly known as Zeta), an ultra Cadillac based on the 2003 Sixteen concept, potential plans for a rear-drive Cadillac DTS, and work on the smaller Global Small RWD Architecture to produce a baby Caddy.

GM seems to persist in thinking the market for rear-drive cars consist mainly of tire-burning, horsepower-mad car nuts--hence Lutz's pathetic attempt to buy off the buffs with a souped up Corvette. But, as I've argued, rear-drive is cheap fun for everyone, including non-buffs, including staid middle class parents driving to football practice and the mall. And there's no reason a rear-drive car can't be reasonably economical (look at the smaller BMWs). They can even be hybrids, no? ... Can't they design the cars so they'll take both an optional big engine and a small engine--the usual practice--and then adjust the mix as CAFE requires? It seems like another factor must be at work: a) GM is pressuring Congress on CAFE; b) GM's L.A. Times-like bureaucracy is dug-in on front-drive; or c) the Zeta cars suck ... [via Autoblog]

**--Do not rely on kausfiles for financial advice. Exhibit A. ... 4:08 P.M.

Friday, Ap ril 13, 2007

Howie Carr condemned Imus?  If memory serves, Howie Carr's radio show was the most offensive radio program I'd ever heard when I listened to it during the 2000 New Hampshire primary--more offensive, in terms of ethnic insensitivity and general sneering inhumanity than anything I've seen attributed to Imus's broadcast.

**--In 2004, I appear to have blogged that when I tuned in again that year, "Carr's show wasn't vile anymore." I defer to my 2004 self on that issue. Still. ...

Update--Sullivan Unhinging Watch: I thought the above post was pretty clear about Carr's show: Vile in 2000! Not vile in 2004. Andrew Sullivan seems to believe this is a contradiction, and proceeds to condescendingly defend  me while soliciting similar forgiveness because he's a "human being" and "blogging in real time" and therefore guilty of some "minor inconsistencies." (Like 'Yes, war!' and 'Sorry, mistake!') No thanks. ... P.S.: Sullivan declares the asterisked graf above was "subsequently added." I forget, but think the whole thing was posted at the same time. ... P.P.S.: What happened to "Faggot-Guy"? I thought I was Faggot-Guy. You just can't rely on some people. ...   1:33 A.M.

Thursday, Ap ril 12, 2007

That's the best she can do? The "shock and awe" approach--in which the enemy gets intimidated by an initial offensive flurry--will probably work as well for the alleged D.C. madam  as it did in Iraq. ... Or maybe the theory has once again simply been misapplied, with the choice of an insufficiently shock-inspiring target. ... 9:54 P.M.

Hugh Hewitt's after-action report on our recent radio debate tends to confirm my suspicions about him. He seems to think the "prospects of an amnesty light bill" are so strong opponents need to settle for some minimum demands. Here are his:

I would think a bill that mandated rapid construction of the 700 miles of double-fencing, significantly hiked fines on employers paying illegals who could not mount an affirmative defense based upon a tamper-proof ID, and the stipulation that citizenship could never be available to anyone who had entered the country illegally and who had either not returned to their country of origin for a legal entry that was separated by a period of at least some months from their exit or had served in the military.  I think it might also be possible to insist on a constitutional amendment being sent to the states on the subject of birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens. [E.A.]

This isn't a serious list. It would allow immediate legalization of all current illegal immigrants, as long as it stopped short of full "citizenship." Meanwhile we wouldn't find out if Hugh's "tamper-proof ID" and double-fence and increased fines actually worked until the next wave of illegals--smart enough to realize that those in the previous wave had just been amply rewarded-- tested them. ...

P.S.: I suspect Hewitt's spooked** about the inevitablity of an "amnesty light" bill passing. See Kate O'Beirne for the contrasting assessment. (She stresses that "border security — not amnesty — was popular on the campaign trail last year.") It's entirely possible a bill will fail because it's opposed from both sides--by anti-amnesty conservatives and pro-amnesty pols who think it doesn't go far enough. Happens all the time. (It happened to Nixon's equally misguided guaranteed-income plan, for example.) Just because 60 Senators favor some sort of amnesty doesn't mean 60 Senators will vote for the same bill, especially if they decide a stalemate that they can rail against is in their interest. It doesn't mean they won't. But Hewitt's analysis is too crude. ...

P.P.S.: Hewitt also worries that the threat of terrorists sneaking across the border with WMD's is so great we need to accept semi-amnesty to get tougher border control--as if you couldn't have the latter without the former. Is Bush holding "homeland security" hostage until he can get his amnesty?

**--Spooked or Spooker? I'm assuming Hewitt's sincere and doesn't want a bill to pass just to help the GOP in the next election (though he admits that's a factor). ... 1:54 P.M.

Wednesday, Ap ril 11, 2007

Ben Smith of Politico wonders   why no anti-immigrant-amnesty presidential candidate has emerged on the Democratic side.

Whether any Democrat will attempt to gain an advantage by tapping into these currents within the party, or whether they'll remain unified around proposals to offer illegal immigrants access to citizenship, remains an open question.

It seems like a big niche waiting to be filled. ... P.S.: Hillary Clinton, of course, could be the candidate to fill it.  True, her problems are with the netroots left these days--but it's not at all clear to me that the netroots left is pro-amnesty, as opposed to Dobbsian populist. You'd think Hillary might be able to shift to a stance of outright opposition to Bush's reform without making them any angrier than they already are. ...

Update:Instapundit, with whom I was on the Hugh Hewitt Show today, seems to be thinking along the same lines. ... On the show I tried to express my deep suspicion that Hewitt overestimates the virtue of passing "something" in part because that would help Republicans put an issue that's dividing them behind them. I don't care that much about helping Republicans and don't understand why it's so necessary to have a bill now, especially if enforcement efforts are showing progress.  A usefully sharp disagreement begins around 19:20 mark. ...   6:32 P.M. link

Thinly-sourced kf item of the day: May 4. Fred Thompson announces. ... 2:56 A.M.

The Agony of the LAT Reader, leavened only by the Agony of the LAT Compare the accounts of last Saturday's pro-legalization immigrant march from the Associated Press and  the LAT. The AP report, by Peter Prengaman, has useful new detail --that the marchers were angry about the latest Bush plan

that would grant illegal immigrants work visas but require them to return home ... and pay a $10,000 fine

--and also quotable quotes

"For my wife and I it would cost about $30,000 ... It's obvious Bush just wants to fund his Iraq war with our money."

The brief LA Times report had none of this. It says

Some marchers expressed frustration at the lack of progress in Washington but said it was important to make their voices heard.

A sentence that could not only have been written before this march took place but before virtually every march of the last 30 years for any cause. ...

P.S.: Remember, this is an event that took place in downtown Los Angeles a few blocks from the Times building. ...

P.P.S.: Here's an unprompted email I got from a friend who recently tried to rely on the LAT as his/her only newspaper--

There is nothing to love about it. There is nothing to look forward to. Nothing to anticipate. .... They do not know how to "build" and audience and part of it is creating tension in the very act of offering enticing things for readers to look forward to. Like Tuesdays Science section in NY, for example. Or Monday's publishing news. Even the fact that the crossword puzzle starts out easy and gets more difficult as the days soldier on. Nothing welcoming or challenging. It's messy and confusing. They don't even cover music until it's already OVER and you can't ck it out for yourself. Annoying! Who are the key players in local government? Who knows? You want to become attached - it's OUR city - but they can't manage to accomplish the most basic task of a newspaper: to answer the question What is Going On? Are they trying to compete with NY? Are they trying to be a local paper? They don't do either well. It feels like a jumble of people who can't make up their minds and have bad graphic taste to boot.

Keenly observed and deeply felt! ...

P.P.S.: I admit I am sort of enjoying this deluded, self-important institution's slow-motion agony. But it would be better if the Times went broke quickly. ... It isn't important to make their voices heard. [?-ed We've heard their voices for 50 years! Let's hear somebody else's voices.] ... 1:05 A.M. link

Tuesday, Ap ril 10, 2007

Why Republican businessmen hate an enforcement-first immigration approach (and Democrats should be for it):** Even the administration's Kabuki-like, for-show attempts at immigration enforcement may already be having enough of an effect to help the poorest American workers. From WaPo:

There is evidence that recent border crackdowns and workplace raids have slowed the flow of illegal immigrants, said Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates reduced immigration. After increasing from 30 million in 2000 to 35.2 million in 2005, the official census count of foreign-born U.S. residents grew by 500,000 last year. And wage growth at the bottom rung of the economy suggests that the glut of low-skilled workers is beginning to dry up. [E.A.]

**--Alternative hed:Why Republican businessmen want Bush's immigration reform (and Democrats should oppose it). ... Third version: Sorry, Jake. Lou Dobbs has a point. ... 2:21 A.M.

Too Good to Check: So Ford has designed a hybrid hydrogen-electric car where, if you plug a cord into the wrong socket, you blow yourself up? ... Update: Ford's CEO appears to have been embellishing a bit, though that still doesn't answer the question! Could Bush have blown himself up? [Need kicker-ed I have a tasteless Joan Claybrook joke and a tasteless terrorist joke. Which do you want?] 12:37 A.M.

The NYT 's Alissa Rubin and Edward Wong  learn the Nikki Finke Lesson (you can't pronounce something a failure too soon):

Nearly two months into the new security push in Baghdad, there has been some success in reducing the number of death squad victims found crumpled in the streets each day.

And while the overall death rates for all of Iraq have not dropped significantly, largely because of devastating suicide bombings, a few parts of the capital have become calmer as some death squads have decided to lie low.

But there is little sign that the Baghdad push is accomplishing its main purpose: to create an island of stability in which Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds can try to figure out how to run the country together. [E.A.]

Is that what John Burns thinks? Just asking! ... P.S.: Note how the lede says Baghdad is partly calmer "as some death squads have decided to lie low"--leaving the reader with the impression that of course they will be back. But the body of the piece also notes that "[m]any militia leaders have been detained in raids by the American military ..." Why emphasize only the pessimistic explanation? I suspect Lede Tweaking by New York editors. ... P.P.S.: If NYT editors really had faith in this story, wouldn't they have titled it "Little Sign Surge Accomplishing Goal" instead of the dreary, L.A. Times-ish "Patterns of War Shift Amid U.S. Force Buildup"?  [Now you're saying they're not biased enough--ed. It's a bizarrely vapid hed. What's your explanation?] ... 12:12 A.M. link

Sunday, Ap ril 8, 2007

'Pelosi = Amnesty' Wake Up Call: When all four guests on the Chris Matthews Show agree on something, it is by definition CW--therefore the CW now holds that an immigration bill will pass and be signed into law this year, perhaps without many Republican votes. Remember, just because it's the CW doesn't mean it's wrong! ... And here I had been lulled into complacency by Kate O'Beirne's report that prospects for a bill were "pretty dim."  ...

In reality, it always seemed possible, even likely, that if Pelosi didn't get the Republican votes she needed to provide cover, she'd go ahead and pass a semi-amnesty law anyway, in part on the grounds that it would deal a long-range setback to the Republicans by bringing in millions of Dem-leaning Latino voters (both new and old). True, Democratic discontent with "comprehensive" reform is already bubbling to the surface. The party will be pulled in divergent directions: Latino activists are upset about the fees  Bush would charge for legalization;** but left-wing netrootsy populists aren't happy about the wage-dampening effect of all those guestworkers. Here's a blog example. ("Lets all support giving our jobs away via "Guest Worker.")

Why would Pelosi want to stop the Republicans ripping themselves apart over immigration and start the Democrats ripping themselves apart over immigration? Possible answers: 1) She's a fool; 2) She knows the Republicans won't stop ripping themselves apart; and 3) She knows it's inevitable that the Dems will start ripping themselves apart soon enough, so the time to pass a bill is now, before the dueling sides have ginned up, when she can sneak a semi-amnesty past the unions (who have lots of other items on their agenda) and the netroots (who are focused mainly on Iraq) without losing an election over it. ...

O.K. But then why would Republicans want to pass it? Possible answers: 1) They're fools; they've deluded themselves, Rove-style, into thinking it will help their party in the long run (even though this is a zero-sum game, and legalization can't help both the Dems and the GOPs); 2) They don't want to pass it. Only Bush  does; 3) The party's business donors want to pass it; 4) They will sacrifice their long term interest, and the nation's long term interest, in order to 'get the issue off the table' for the 2008 election (even though Bush is the one who brought it up).

In any case, foes of legalization--people who worry, with good reason, that the promise of legalization will attract another 12 million illegals before border controls can be put in place--can't rely on "comprehensive" reform gridlocking itself. The CW has sounded; they should consider themselves warned. ... Krikorian, this means you! ...

Update:WaPo's immigration preview is Old CW. ...

**--Of course the fees could be lowered later, once it's discovered that the vast majority of illegals won't go for a deal that would have them pay $3,500 to pay for a three-year visa, or $10,000 for permanent residency. ... 10:55 P.M. link

Goosing the News, Left Edition: In Iraq, radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has urged his forces to unite and avoid fighting alongside U.S. forces, whom he called the "enemy"--but according to WaPo's Sudarsan Raghavan  he

stopped short of telling his fighters to rise up against the American troops ....

You wouldn't know that if you relied on the  Huffington Post, which gives its link the hyped-up headline

9:13 P.M.

kf's First Rule of Journalism Vindicated! They laughed when kf, generalizing wildly from personal experience, claimed a sign in a Westwood burger shop showed  that

tight labor markets--produced by growth and maybe a boost in immigration enforcement--eventually raise wages at the bottom, and we are starting to see that.

They're still laughing. But, a week later, the wild generalization is looking pretty good, if not eerily prescient. (From the 4/7 L.A. Times):

Wages, which initially lagged behind job growth as the economy recovered from its 2001 recession, continued their more recent growth ... [snip]

Average hourly earnings of production workers increased by 6 cents to $17.22, and weekly earnings rose by $3.75 to $583.76. Over the last year, hourly earnings have risen by 4% and weekly earnings by 4.4%.

Thus, earnings are rising faster than price inflation, which, excluding food and energy, rose 2.4% in the most recent 12 months.

P.S.: Note that the government's "average hourly earnings" figures have been controversial in the past because they appear to understate wage gains. If even they show an improvement ... Update: Drum comments. I originally got my criticisms of the "average hourly earnings" data from Barry Bosworth, who has a paper on the subject here, which I'd happily pay for if I could figure out how. ... 2:58 A.M.

Tish Durkin speaks truth to HuffPo. A post they should keep on the front page for the rest of the year. [They've already buried it--ed That hot Cheryl Saban post came in!]... 2:04 A.M.

Zell Kvells!  William Beutler says Sam Zell has "no idea what he's talking about" when it comes to the Internet. ...  Holman Jenkins thinks the Zell/Tribune deal won't go through once the shockingly favorable (to Zell) details are exposed. ...  1:25 A.M.

From a Layup to a Tossup--The Dems Switch Debates: Here's something I only realized under prodding from Bob Wright on Bloggingheads: There are two obvious possible debates to have about Iraq:

Debate A: Was launching the war a good idea in 2003?

Debate B: Should we "surge" or withdraw in 2007?

Haven't the Democrats, by prosecuting their funding fight with Bush over setting a withdrawal deadline, succeeded in changing the Iraq debate from A to B? From a debate over the war to a debate over the surge? From a debate about the last four years to a debate about the last four months?

And if so, isn't that a really dumb thing for them to do? Debate A looks like a sure winner for Democrats--it's hard to see anything happening between now and 2008 that would convince a majority of voters that starting the war in the first place was a good idea. Debate B, on the other hand, looks much iffier, as the surge shows at least some signs of at least temporary success. Even if the Democrats are right on Debate B they might lose Debate B. The more the surge succeeds, the more Debate B becomes a tossup. But even with a muddled "surge" scorecard, Debate B might skew against the Democrats if the aftermath of a pullout continues to look bloody and chaotic.**

Only a strategic mastermind like N. Pelosi would shift from an argument her party is bound to win to an argument it might lose.*** It would be especially ironic if Democrats lose Debate B because voters are convinced withdrawing would produce a sectarian bloodbath--since that would ordinarily be a powerful additional argument for a Dem victory in Debate A (i.e., the decision to launch the war has been such a disaster that we can't even withdraw in good conscience--we're trapped).

**--You hear rumblings that the Bushies know the surge won't ultimately succeed in winning (i.e. stabilizing) Iraq. But it could still succeed in winning the 2008 election. It's not hard to imagine the Bush administration pursuing the surge through November, 2008--and then shifting to a Juan Cole-like 'negotiated withdrawal' strategy. ...

***--I would guess we're about 36 hours from the first pundit speculating that Speaker Pelosi doesn't really want a Democrat to win the presidency, because Pelosi and the Congressional Dems have more prominence as an opposition power center. Under President Obama, nobody will care if Pelosi travels to Syria. ... Maybe Dick Morris has already said this. ...

Update: N.Z. Bear charges that the Dems have unnecessarily "become fully and totally invested in failure."   (Tish Durkin has a good Iraqi invested-in-failure anecdote in her underappreciated, agonized Huffington post.) ... Backfill: Thomas Edsall implicitly made an argument like this  in the NYT of 3/22. And you don't even have to pay to read it. ... 12:56 A.M. link

New Scion Xb: Make it cute. Or make it an evil sin bin. But don't make it a wishy-washy wuss bus!   12:23 A.M.

Friday, Ap ril 6, 2007

Hawks for Humiliation: Am I missing something? Why exactly was the resolution of the latest Iran hostage crisis a "success" for Iran and a "humiliation" for Britain, as the hawkish Charles Krauthammer argues (and Geoffrey Wheatcroft insinuates but doesn't quite come out and say in his own voice, as opposed to John Bolton's)?The hostages were released in a one-day propaganda stunt, maybe in exchange for the release of an Iranian we were holding and Iranian visitation rights for some others. But the Iranians were also looking at an awful lot of aircraft carriers steaming around their neighborhood. Didn't they blink? If that's humiliation, it's not far from what a U.S.-U.K. victory in the crisis would look like. I counter the right hand with the far right hand--an analysis on David Horowitz's FrontPage site that departs significantly from the Bolton-Krauthammer party line:

As Britain refused to apologize for the behavior of its boarding party, continuing to insist that they were operating in dsfaIraqi waters – not inside Iran's territorial waters, as Tehran alleged – some of Khamenei's advisors began to have second thoughts.

Adding to those doubts were whispered reports that the USS Nimitz was steaming toward the Persian Gulf– making it the third Carrier Strike Group in the area. [snip]

So for now, Tehran's leaders have backed down.

Isn't that what Krauthammer and Bolton would be arguing in other circumstances--i.e, if they weren't favoring some sort of military confrontation with Iran? Would they have been happier if the Iranians hadn't caved so easily? Just asking! .. P.S.: See also Walid Phares' analysis, which focuses less on the Nimitz and more on the looming propaganda setback for Iran. ... 2:28 P.M. link

Another Zogby triumph: Mystery Pollster piles on. But there's a trick ending. ... 12:21 P.M.

Thursday, Ap ril 5, 2007

That was fast: Has David Brooks, who only three weeks ago was proclaiming the death of neoliberalism, revealed himself as a ... neoliberal? I think so. In his recent bigthink column (on the death of Goldwaterism**) Brooks wrote

Normal, nonideological people are less concerned about the threat to their freedom from an overweening state than from the threats posed by these amorphous yet pervasive phenomena [e.g. Islamic extremism, global competition]. The ''liberty vs. power'' paradigm is less germane. It's been replaced in the public consciousness with a ''security leads to freedom'' paradigm. People with a secure base are more free to take risks and explore the possibilities of their world. [E.A.]

That seems like the familiar neolib take on the relation between the welfare state and capitalism--that providing some material security isn't just a way to compensate the random blows and bonanzas of the market, but it's a way to actually encourage greater entrepreneurial risk taking (and that this approach is preferable to trying to dampen the volatility of the market itself through, e.g., subsidies, guilds, trade barriers, union job protections, etc.). [ Discussed on bloggingheads ] ...  P.S.: Brooks also declares that shifting to a

"'security leads to freedom" paradigm doesn't end debate between left and right, it just engages on different ground.

It does? Why shouldn't it end the debate between left and right? Example, please. ...

**-He's killing these ideologies off left and right. Soon all that remains will be ... [John McCain?--ed You said that.] 1:01 P.M. link

73 is the new ...:  If you're Larry King, isn't there something vaguely ominous about having CNN president Jon Klein call your hospital room  after you've had an artery clearing operation, in Klein's words

"just [to] make sure he was doing O.K., and that it was as minor as he said it was"?

Or is it just that everything Jon Klein says is vaguely ominous? ... P.S.: Larry King is only 73? ... 12:36 P.M.

Semi-Reality Journal: From Brad DeLong's blog:

A correspondent writes, asking where is my quarterly post reminding the internet that Donald Luskin--National Review's contribution to the grand coordinated right-wing Paul Krugman-trashing enterprise ably reported by Nicholas Confessore--more often than not simply doesn't know what he is talking about.

Now it is true that the right-wing campaign has collapsed--even its two original leaders, Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan, now admit that Paul Krugman's batting average since he started at the New York Times has been above 90%.

Here are three problems with the three assertions that relate to me in this passage:

1) Was I part of a "grand coordinated" campaign? Not that I know of. Who coordinated me? Whom did I coordinate with? And here I thought I was just bitterly lashing out because Krugman called me a Rhinoceros!

2) The "ably reported" Confessore piece  cited by DeLong says I'm "non-right wing." That became "right-wing" in DeLong's summary. I'm with Confessore.

3) Do I now admit that Krugman's "batting average since he started at the New York Times has been above 90%"? I don't think so. (I'd have to concede that Enron was more important than 9/11!) Because I don't think it, I doubt I've ever said it--and I doubt DeLong can cite somewhere where I've said it.

That seems an oddly high hysterical b.s./word ratio for a tenured Berkeley professor. What are DeLong's economics like? ... 1:36  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. Gawker--It's come to this. Eat the Press--Sklarianna & Co. are like Gawker if Gawker actually believed in something. ... [More tk]

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