"Don't Tell Mama'--the hidden anti-Hillary vote.

A mostly political Weblog.
April 17 2007 3:08 PM

The 'Don't Tell Mama' Voters

Polls suggest a hidden anti-Hillary bloc.

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. ...

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**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.

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.

Wednesday, Ap ril 4, 2007

Cranky! What's  eating at JPod? 4:54 P.M.

Tuesday, Ap ril 3, 2007

Cult of Otis Update: As if on cue, the LAT's Tim Rutten concludes his analysis of his paper's sale with more ritual praise of the Great Leader:

Southern California and this newspaper's role in its development made the Chandlers rich beyond any normal human being's wildest dreams. All the heavy lifting, of course, was done by their rapacious forbearers and, later, by Otis Chandler, who broke with the rest of his venal clan to make The Times a great newspaper. ... [snip]

The truth of the matter is, however, that — except for Otis — the Chandlers never have conceived of this newspaper as anything much more than agent or — in recent years — adjunct of their own financial interests. [E.A.]

The problem is that, judging by the prana-sappingly dull, smugly respectable product he foisted on his readers for decades, Otis wouldn't have recognized a great newspaper if it had risen from the sea and eaten his surfboard. ... P.S.: The Cult of Otis knew Rutten would look foolish, but they made him write it anyway. Mind control is an ugly thing! ... Update: Hugh Hewitt interviews Rutten. ...5:43 P.M.

Sanity? Has Tony Blair decided that it's more important not to lose Afghanistan to terrorists than to have marginally fewer junkies?Well, maybe not quite. The Independent's account of Britain's possible "U-turn" on the misguided Afghan drug war--in which we try to win farmers' hearts and minds by destroying their crops--suggest that Blair's new policy would still hold out out the hope that, by buying up the poppy crop legally, Britain and the U.S. might also "curb an illegal drugs trade which supplies 80 percent of the heroin on Britains streets." But the demand for heroin will still be there--won't Afghan farmers still have an incentive to fill it on the black market (by growing more than the official, legal channels are buying)? ... A simpler, more promising solution to the poppy harvest would seem to be Christopher Hitchens':legalize it and tax it. And, presumably, let the Afghans sell it to whomever they want. The price of heroin would fall. There would be more addicts. But fewer American British soldiers would have to die in Afghanistan--and we might actually win the war they're dying in. ... [via The Corner4:02 A.M.

Watch Out Zell! The giant newspaper you are buying is in the grip of a perverse cult! ... A rare Kausfiles Special report. ... 2:56 A.M.

Monday, Ap ril 2, 2007

David Smith with an April 1 solution to the ongoing Fannie Mae problem. ... P.S.: He left out the part where Dem bigshots Jim Johnson and Frank Raines give back the money! ... 12:36 P.M.

'Should I do missionary work in Africa or take another lucrative political consultancy? ... So hard to decide! ... I guess ... on balance ... I can do more good in politics!' I was with former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd in his front-page NYT apostasy  until this sentence at the end, about his plans for 2008:

"I wouldn't be surprised if I wasn't walking around in Africa or South America doing something that was like mission work."

I'm not sure honorable people talk in public about how they might just be the type to do mission work in Africa. They either do it, or they don't. It's a boast of sorts, and it reinforced the sneaking suspicion that one of the main purposes of Dowd's interview was to make Matthew Dowd look good. After all, in terms of actually affecting the Bush policies Dowd decries, the interview's a bit late, no? ... 12:32 A.M. link

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sullivan. Excitable! Sloppy.  Self-Righteous. April Fool's Fun!  ... [You sure the joke isn't on you?--ed I'm not sure.  Maybe Sullivan's only pretending to be gullibly taken in by an April Fool's joke as an April Fool's joke! Yeah, that's the ticket. ... P.S.: It's a good fallback position, anyway.] ... 11:15 P.M. link

He's expected to do better than expected: According to NPR, Rep. Tom Tancredo plans to announce for president Monday. ... 10:44 P.M.

I don't like motorcycles, I don't like outfits that proudly use the word "confederate," and I'm not sure you are allowed to use the word "bitchin'" anymore--but this is a bitchin'-looking motorcycle. ... 2:42 A.M

"We Are Hiring at $9.50 per hour"--sign in the window at the In-N-Out burger restaurant in Westwood, CA.  That has to be more than they were paying a year ago. ... I'm not saying you can raise a family on that (it works out to a bit less than $20,000/year). I'm saying 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. Burger chain jobs set the de facto minimum wage, no? ... Update/Correction: Several---actually more than several--alert readers have emailed to note that In-N-Out famously pays more than other burger chains, so it does not, in fact, set the de facto minimum wage. On the other hand, the $9.50 wage appears to have been instituted last fall, so it represents an increase.** Plus, they apparently feel the need to advertise for new workers, which suggests that even the $9.50 wage may soon not be enough.

More: Kevin Drum sneers that the fancy-looking chart of unspecified provenance on his blog

is, perhaps, more reliable data than a single sign in a burger joint in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood, no?

Well, no. They're both data! Large indexes are obviously more comprehensive than cheap casual observation--though some, like the hourly wage data from BLS, are notoriously skewed. But large indexes are not timely. Assuming Drum's data (which seem to have come from the WSJ, which in turn cites only "Labor Department") came from this BLS survey, the most recent numbers are from the last quarter of 2006. Help wanted signs that appear in small business windows can tell you what's happening now. (I got my first clue that the brutal Reagan recession was over--this was 1983, when the papers were filled with dismal stats--when I was campaigning (for a Democrat) on a subway platform in New York, and ran into a contractor who said, "You think the economy is bad? My business has never been better.")

I'm not denying income inequality is rising--I wrote a book based on the reality that income inequality is rising--or that Bush-era prosperity, in particular, hasn't been as widely shared as prosperity in other eras. My suggestion is only that if you keep the economy going and stop new immigrant entrants from flooding in at the bottom, entry-level wages will eventually rise and people will start complaining (as they did in the late 1990s) about the "U-shaped" economy in which the rich and the poor were gaining faster than the middle.*** I also think that's a much better bet, when it comes to boosting low-end wages, than "card check" legislation.

**On January 1 of this year, the California minimum wage increased to $7.50, which could also have affected the chain's decision. ...

***--If growth is really going on at the bottom but not the middle, it won't show up in Drum's "median" statistic, of course. (There will still be the same number of low-earners making under the median wage. They'll just be richer low-earners,)  You'd want to look at something like the median wage in the bottom quartile (which seems to do only a little better than the median in this handy chart generator). ...1:42 A.M. link

Saturday, March 31, 2007

kf Rapid Response Service: Rich Lowry has posted a reaction to my earlier criticism of National Review's  odd editorial advising John McCain on immigration:

1. Lowry says "only one writer" on NR is currently supporting McCain, Ramesh Ponnuru. That's who I was talking about! It's Ponnuru who took it upon himself to explicate and defend NR's McCain editorial at length. I suspected the editorial in fact reflected his views. Was I wrong?

2. I did go overboard in suggesting that National Review as a wholesupports McCain over other Republican contenders. I accept Lowry's correction that the magazine doesn't "have a candidate yet." That doesn't affect the substance of the argument, which is whether NR's advice to McCain--that he embrace the "compromise" immigration plan being pushed by Sen. Johnny Isakson--was in fact a "constructive' advice for opponents of "comprehensive" reform to give. Is it better, or worse, if NR endangered one of its most important causes to help a candidate it doesn't even necessarily want to win?

3.The Isakson plan sets in place--in law--an eventual amnesty, once certain "benchmarks" relating to border security and employment are met. If you worry about amnesty, as I do and I assumeNRdoes, it seems not even a close question whether no bill is better than Isakson. As Mark Krikorian notes, Isakson's plan would legitimize amnesty, undermine enforcement, and create pressure for a future fudging of the benchmarks to allow an amnesty whether or not border protections, etc., work. A legislative impasse would be far preferable.** It would constitute a loud, deflating rebuff to amnesty supporters while it let enforcement measures continue. (How refusing to concede the amnesty issue makes enforcement "an impossible ideal" is beyond me.)

4.I've no doubt that, as Lowry says, if McCain moved from his current position to Isakson it would shift the center of gravity in the Senate "to the right". But that would not necesarily be a "welcome development." It's not a welcome development, for example, if it means the Isakson plan actually gets passed! Lowry is sophisticated enough to know that, even if the Senate is all that matters, you can't decide legislative strategy on the basis of whether the debate moves "left" or "right" on a two-dimensional scale. What matters is what gets the votes needed to become law.

5. But the action is not confined to the Senate, or Congress, or Washington. Unlike welfare reform--where popular opinion had consistently and overwhelmingly opposed the old AFDC cash-without-work program--there's an actual competitive national debate going on about what to do about immigration. It's obviously important who wins this debate--more important than the current array of positions in the Senate. If the public comes down on one side or the other, the politicians, including most Senators, will follow.

6. In this wider debate, any positive effect of McCain moving to the right is more than counterbalanced by the negative effect of National Review moving to the left, which it has done by saying approving things about the Isakson plan (which entails legitimizing and accepting the official amnesty it endorses).

7. In the mid-90s welfare debate, Bill Clinton was a genuine believer in reform. Lowry is just wrong to assert that Clinton's stillborn reform plan didn't "back up" his pledge to "end welfare as we know it." Clinton's plan, once he finally unveiled it, was a radical plan for a Republican, let alone a Democrat. If I remember, it basically cut even single mothers off welfare after three years, with only a bit of fudging. True, it didn't end the welfare "entitlement," but in other respects it was tougher than many plans still in place under Republican governors today. The Isakson plan seems less like Clinton's welfare plan, in this respect, and more like one of the compromises that Congressional Democrats would have proposed as a way to preserve the right to unlimited welfare as long as certain benchmarks are met--except that instead of preserving an open-ended welfare program, Isakson preserves the idea of writing some amnesty into law (with all the ill effects Krikorian describes). 

8.There's no indication, and no reason to expect, that McCain will become an advocate for "enforcement first" the way Clinton was an advocate for "ending welfare." McCain certainly doesn't seem ready to run around the country convincingly "emphasizing 'enforcement first,'" as Lowry naively envisions, unless he's undergone an uncharacteristic conversion experience we haven't heard about. If McCain embraces the Isakson plan, it will be reluctantly under candidacy-threatening political pressure. His  stance--at least after the GOP primaries are over--is likely to be less "Enforcement First" than "Amnesty Eventually, After a Few Hurdles." In any case, if the Isakson plan passes it won't matter much anymore what McCain says.

9.Lowry cleverly downplays Mark Krikorian's position. Krikorian agrees with me, buddy! He thinks the Isakson plan is a crock. I doubt he was happy with NR's strange, backsliding editorial either. If Lowry actually took Krikorian's "good substantive objections" to Isakson seriously, he never would have published it.

**-- It might not help Republicans duck a divisive immigration debate for the 2008 election or line up Hispanic voters for future races. Those things may matter more to Republicans than to non-Republicans. Anyway, Lowry doesn't couch his argument in those terms. 10:59 P.M. link

Friday, March 30, 2007

Eli Broad, Guest Editor? It's growing on me! The main teachers' union in Los Angeles successfully (if temporarily) blocked eight new charter schools in "impoverished, gang-ridden" Watts, despite support from local parents and representatives. 'Unions fight charters'--that's dog-bites-man, except that the L.A. Times' slant is decidedly and unusually anti-union and pro-charter. Is that because a) the move to block the schools was apparently illegal; b) charter entrepreneur Steve Barr is a skilled operator; c)Times reporters don't send their own kids to public schools and are convinced Barr's schools are better; or d) one of Barr's backers is billionaire Eli Broad, who may own the Times in a few days. ... It's overdetermined! But if teachers' unions have lost the liberal LAT, they're in trouble, no? ... P.S.: [At least none of these people are having sex with Broad--ed You always say that!] ... P.P.S.: The story's account of an attempt to close a non-Barr charter school (Academia Semillas) suggests that once charter schools get in, they quickly develop their own constituencies and are hard to close down. That could be good, helping to preserve them in the face of self-interested union opposition. It could also be trouble, if a school underperforms. ... 4:32 P.M.

It's pretty amazing that the N.Y. Times could report that legal immigrants "have opted to become American citizens in historically high numbers in the last decade"--quoting an expert to the effect that "today's legal immigrants are signing on to a closer relationship with the U.S. ..."--without even mentioning that the 1996 welfare reform granted citizens access to some benefits that are denied to legal immigrants. ... P.S.: I'm not saying legal immigrants come here for government benefits. I'm saying you have to at least consider whether it's a factor in the citizenship boom. ... 30 Seconds of Googling: See, for example, "Welfare Reform Sparks Rush for Citizenship," CNN, August 8,1996. ... Do Times reporters talk only to the interest group that hands them the study? [At least they weren't having sex--ed Yes, then they might be biased!]... 5:18 A.M.

L.A. Times Continues Editorial Transformation! Now we know  how the LAT managed to turn out a new Sunday opinion section so quickly (after the publisher, on a Thursday, cancelled the scheduled section guest-edited by producer Brian Grazer). ... P.S.: Repurposing content is very Webby. Remember, it's not the platform that matters! ... [Via ETP]4:45 A.M.

Am I Wobbly? Over at The Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry attempt to answer the question of whether National Review has gone wobbly on immigration. It's pretty clear the answer is yes. Ponnuru says he's being "consistent" with NR's position when he defends--as the "framework for a compromise"--Sen. Johnny Isakson's plan, which would delay "an amnesty or guest worker program" until border and workplace enforcement measures were shown to be working.

The biggest problem with the Isakson plan is probably not either of the two objections I initially raised--1) that a Bush-like administration might cheat and falsely certify that enforcement is working or 2) that the promise of a "last chance" at amnesty would cause a one-time stampede of illegals across the border. That's not to say those aren't serious problems. For example, Ponnuru says the "stampede" would be prevented because any amnesty would "only legalize workers who could prove that they were here at the time of passage." Well all right then! If Ponnuru is confident that illegal immigrants who routinely purchase fake Social Security documents will have trouble with the easier task of faking evidence of pre-legislation residence, he's more naive than I think he is.** (My grandmother stretched the truth to get into this country, I've been told. Why shouldn't desperate, impoverished Salvadorans?)

The very hope of amnesty--if only from the millions of currently resident illegals--would put intense pressure on any subsequent Congress to fudge or relax any "benchmark" requirements written into the law, to make amnesty (or "earned" legalization, or quasi-amnesty, whatever you want to call it) happen sooner and on more lenient terms. ***

That gets to the major problem. As Mark Krikorian points out, the effect of the Isaakson plan in a) legitimizing the concept of amnesty and b) creating an expectation of amnesty outweighs any clever legalistic safeguards Ponnuru may think Sen. Isakson is writing into the law. The combination of (a) and (b) would make some form of amnesty, if not quite inevitable then a lot more inevitable than now--which would seem, in turn, to guarantee further waves of amnesty-seeking illegal immigration.**** If, as in 1986, actual enforcement on the border and in the workplace proved weak, that would mean, as in 1986, fresh millions of illegals for editorialists to debate giving amnesty to. Sen. Grassley has made this point  quite effectively:

"When you reward illegality, you get more of it. So, President Mary Smith 20 years from now will be proposing more amnesty, only instead of amnesty for 12 million people, it will be for 30 million people."

National Review has been one of the voices of sanity in the immigration debate. If even NR concedes that there's an official amnesty in our near future, the debate hasn't "moved to the right," as Lowry argues. The debate is over.

This is all unnecessary. There is no need for a "compromise" or a "framework for a compromise" that includes a promise of amnesty at all. Kate O'Beirne recently noted  that conventional wisdom says comprehensive reform probably won't pass this year or next, in part because Dems don't want to go out on a limb for amnesty. Why make a key concession when you are about to win? Answer: John McCain. The NR editorial can only be read as a desperate attempt to save John McCain from the political consequences of his misguided pro-comprehensive stand by offering him a fallback position more palatable to the GOP primary voters. Indeed, Lowry made this explicit before the editorial, when he wrote that endorsing Isakson

would take care of McCains' political problem, it would give him a position on immigration that would avoid the excesses on both sides, and it would move the ball forward significantly in the intra-Republican debate--he could legitimately lead on this. [E.A.]

In other words, 'Here's a compromise we don't really support--or that we don't dare come out and say we support--but, hey, it helps our guy with his 'political problem.'' I don't see how that is leadership. (Thank God McCain wasn't running during the welfare debate of the mid-90s, or we might have wound up with NR endorsing one of the many make-believe compromises proposed by moderates as a way of blocking the entitlement-ending law that finally passed.)

If McCain's support for semi-amnesty is killing him, why can't he just drop it? Why does he need a fallback position that includes a promise of amnesty? There are plenty of other fallback positions. McCain could support enforcement with a mere promise of future debate on what to do with current illegal residents. He could call for a national commission! He could say, "The nation is not ready for comprehensive immigration reform," and pledge to educate it slowly, over time. He could declare his earlier position "ill-considered" and retreat into meaningful silence--i.e., shut up. OK, that one's impossible.

In any case, he doesn't have to lose and drag NR (and the immigration debate) down with him.

*************************

**--Forgery and false evidence is also a problem with my proposed alternative, which would establish effective border control and then debate a retrospective amnesty. But it's less of a problem if you don't attract millions of illegal immigrants by writing an amnesty promise into the law. Under my suggested deal, if an amnesty is impossible to limit then future debaters could decide not to have an amnesty! In any case, they could adjust the proof-of-residence requirements to fit what they'd learned about the government's ability to catch cheating (and thwart ACLU-like attempts to create truck-sized loopholes in the system).

***--Nor would it "take the issue off the table," as some worried Republicans now want to do. It would start a heated debate on whether the "benchmarks" had been met or should be modified.

****--Ponnuru argues that the "expectation of an amnesty" already exists because "amnesty has been debated for three years." In other words, McCain proposed it, so now we might as well do it. If this argument is right, it doesn't much matter what position McCain takes now--he's done his work. 3:32 A.M. link

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Anti-Gerrymander Watch: Two-thirds of California "likely voters" support a plan to turn over redistricting to "an independent commission of citizens."  That seems to be slightly higher than previous polls. [Via Bill Bradley's New West Notes ]. We'll see if Bill Clinton moneybuddy  Stephen Bing and Nancy  Pelosi can find a way to block reform this time. (They'd have a good chance. Initiatives typically need a huge advance lead to even have a prayer of passing, given the power of anti-initiative TV campaigns.) ... P.S.: One of the non-party-line positions taken by now-ex LAT opinion editor Andres Martinez was support for an anti-gerrymandering initiative in 2005. Too interesting! ... 11:17 A.M.

"Los Angeles Times Continues Editorial Transformation"! The paper has announced "several editorial changes designed to meet the evolving needs of readers." The "Current" section, which used to be called "Opinion," will be called "Opinion" again! And the Times Ed board will have a "blog." It will be "updated throughout the day"!  ... They actually put out a press release with this news.  Now that their editorial department has more or less  melted down in humiliating public warfare with sanctimonious critics in the paper's newsroom, they're seizing the PR initiative! Pathetic.  ... [Emphasis added1:18 A.M.

Kabuki Watch? Here's a question: If it's

a) in the Congressional Democrats' interest to try but ultimately fail to use their funding power force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (it shows the antiwar left Pelosi is trying without giving Dems responsibility for a messy Iraq outcome),

and it's

b) in the Bush administration's interest to have Congressional Dems' try but ultimately fail to use their funding power to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (it lets Bush continue the "surge" while giving him the threat of a Dem-forced pullout with which to pressure the Maliki government),

then

c) isn't it true that what probably will happen is that the Congressional Dems try but ultimately fail to use their funding power to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq? 

Just asking! ... 12:42 A.M.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Has National Review gone wobbly on immigration? The magazine recommends that Senator McCain fall back on a proposal of Sen. Johnny Isakson, which would

prohibit granting legal status to any illegal alien until border-security measures were fully operational. ... Only when the current chaos is under control would a guest-worker program go into effect

NR calls this "a welcome compromise between the border-security and amnesty camps." Not really.

There are two big obvious problems with the Isakson plan. 1) Who would decide when "the current chaos is under control"? If it's a President like Bush, would we trust him? No. 2) It promises that if you manage to sneak across the border in the next few months or years, you'll get some sort of amnesty in the future--in other words, it sets up conditions for an illegal-entry stampede to get in under the wire. ... Does National Review really endorse this plan, or only think McCain should endorse this plan? NRO contributor Andy McCarthy is puzzled. ...

If conservatives are looking for a "compromise" plan that would emphasize enforcement, avoid a stampede, while instituting some changes that the McCain and Kennedy "reform" forces, including the Latino lobby, might value--and "take the issue off the table" for a few years--how about combining enforcement measures with

a) an increase in the quota of legal immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries;

b) a limited guest worker program that applies only to those actually in foreign countries--i.e. new immigrants, not illegals already here; and

c) a promise that if the enforcement measures work and provisions (a) and (b) aren't abused, Congress will consider the issue of what to do with illegals who've already been living in the U.S. (as of some date conveniently in the near past--say, January 1, 2005). There would be no guarantee as to the outcome of that future debate. ...

I don't see how that constitutes an amnesty or provides a lot of encouragement to would-be illegals. But perhaps Mark Krikorian will show that I'm wrong. .... 10:48 A.M.

Starbucks has always had great, more-than-background music in its stores. But today the songs they were playing seemed unusually breathy ... wimpy ... pretentious ...  It sounded like ...yikes ... Nic Harcourt Music! Sure enough. ... P.S.: I feared things would go in a bad direction when the chain started an "entertainment division" in 2004. Now, not only is Starbucks subjecting its customers to the soul-sapping musical aesthetic of Harcourt (NPR station KCRW's NYT-hyped, L.A.-loathed musical director)--it's also started its own record label. Instead of getting to listen to the good songs you'll now have to listen to the songs Starbucks is selling. Hello, Coffee Bean! ... Update: Several readers note that Starbucks' record label has signed Paul McCartney. Do you want to listen to Paul McCartney while drinking your latte? Can we pay extra not to listen to Paul McCartney? ..  2:34 A.M. link

Monday, March 26, 2007

Will the Media Critic Please Turn Out the Lights? The LAT's Tim Rutten has defended against the charge that he's "sanctimonious" by publishing a piece titled "These rules we live by." Oh-kay! More on this later. For now, please read through Rutten's piece and ask yourself if he shows any sign of awareness that he and his distinguished LAT colleagues only have their jobs because they produce a product that people are willing to pay money for? Rutten writes as if there's a constitutional provision that credentialed journalists have lifetime professional tenure no matter how much money his paper loses or makes. Tim! You've had a good gig for 35 years, when your organization had a sweet local monopoly. But isn't the problem that nobody wants to pay to read what you want the LAT to write any more? Not enough people, anyway.  How does Rutten propose to actually keep his 900 plus Times colleagues employed in a world where newspapers are losing readers and ads with stunning rapidity--other than the blind faith that somehow if new owners make a massive "investment" in journalists like Tim Rutten people will suddenly want to read them? [He obviously wants a local billionaire like Eli Broad to buy the paper and run it as a semi-charity--ed That's a way bigger threat to journalistic fearlessness than a guest editor! Broad will not be a guest.] 7:29 P.M. link

ABC's once-indispensable The Note appears to have collapsed. ... I want my money back! Oh, wait. It was free. ... 4:14 P.M.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This audio of Katie Couric's questions to the Edwards'--with their answers excised--would make a great soundtrack for a piece of conceptual art.  It certainly makes you want to throttle Katie Couric. ... [via Drudge ]10:49 P.M.

The Universal HuffPo "most popular" hed:

Never needs changing. Like a fluorescent bulb! ... 5:48 P.M.

Dissing the Disgruntled! Grazer-Gate Update: A summary of the L.A.Times' second-time-farce scandal is  here. The most recent at-bats ...

Resigned editorial page editor Andres Martinez says the paper's newly-arrived editor and publisher

caved to a disgruntled newsroom that is annoyed at [the paper's owners in] Chicago, annoyed at them and annoyed at the autonomy of the opinion pages.

The newsroom unrest, Martinez says, is partly "ideological" (the news pages presumably being more conventionally liberal than his editorial page), partly "a matter of bureaucratic culture," and

some of it a personnel matter (there are some embittered former editorial board members that Kinsley and Carroll sent off to the newsroom). "

Michael Kinsley, former LAT opinon czar who hired Martinez, also blasts "newsroom busybodies," but simulataneously chides Martinez for making a fuss about whether "a news editor once asked him to consider running an editorial in connection with some news-side series ..."

This Week's L.A.T. editor** Jim O'Shea disagrees with all of the above, saying the accusers who made a fuss about Martinez's alleged conflict-of-interest are "people with a passion for the news and this newspaper."

In steps the L.A.T.'s own Tim Cavanaughon the paper's opinion blog to .. side against editor O'Shea! Cavanaugh says

Nikki Finke puts a tremulous finger on the real infection: "Sanctimonious newsroom reporters and editors acting all holier-than-thou about journalism ethics ... "

Mystery #1: Who are these "holier-than-thou" newsroom twits? We don't have to take that wild a guess--Martinez actually names two LAT veterans:

I'm guessing the Henry Weinsteins and Tim Ruttens of the world will continue to conjure up the magical words "Staples Center" to wail against any innovation at the paper ...

kf notes: Placating a disgruntled, twittish newsroom was clearly part of the reason Kinsley was shown to the "guillotine"  by Last Week's Publisher, Jeff Johnson (who subsequently got axed himself).

Mystery #2: Why anyone good would be lured into coming to work for this paper now. Want to be Mayor of Ramadi? ...

The big winner: David Geffen and Ron Burkle, who didn't buy the Times and don't have to deal with these people. ... 

Conclusion that's now clearer than ever: Blogger John Gabree notes  that you need a strong local paper to have a strong local political culture. Los Angeles has neither. The Times was making progress under Dean Baquet. But the best thing it could do for the city now is to simply disappear, instantaneously if possible, and open up space for decent alternatives to operate without the legacy cost of 900 tantrum-prone staffers of variable abilities. ...

** P.S.: It's not clear why the Times would need to recruit "guest editors"--they already more or less have them! In a relatively short period they've run through John Carroll and Dean Baquet and wound up with O'Shea, who in turn doesn't look like a promising candidate for extended editorial tenure after helping co-produce this week's humiliating events. ..

Backfill: Steyn and JPod and Drum and Patterico  pour it on. ... 2:15 A.M. link

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Truly hideous": That's how a teaser mass email from Business Week's Jon Fine describes the New York Times' February revenue report.  Details here. ... Fine notes mounting "evidence that rising Web revenues do not cancel out falling print revenues." [E.A.] He points out that if we believe the Times ' own press release, then TimesSelect--the "fee-based product on NYTimes.com"--only has about 220,000 paying subscribers:

Assuming all of these people are paying full freight yearly subscriptions-- not guaranteed, that--that's $10.9 million in revenue.

Is it worth $10.9 million to the Times for it to wall off its columnists? You tell me.

1:48 A.M

Cathy Seipp  was not someone you wanted to get into a blog-feud with. Here's my favorite passage from her spat with Nikki Finke:

Nikki has long been dismissive of the blogosphere. She also, at least until fairly recently, has been ignorant of basic blogospheric knowledge that the IP addresses of commenters are easily checked. So for instance if you post once here under the name Nikki Finke, and then again pretending to be a lawyer threatening me with libel for insulting Nikki Finke, it might be better to post that second comment from someone else's computer. I guess that's inconvenient, though, if you rarely leave the house. I haven't seen Nikki in years, probably because these days she looks like Jabba the Hut, if you can imagine Jabba after he's said to hell with the diets already.

Gosh, I'm bitchy today ...

P.S.: This was a good sentence on Seipp  from Susan Estrich--

She came after me when I took on the Los Angeles Times for not publishing enough women writers (no preferences for her), but I decided that my mistake, and theirs, was not putting her name at the top of the list of whom they should hire.

Yes, it was. P.P.S.: Estrich made others, though! ... [Of course the LAT would never print bloggish cracks like the Jabba one--ed. People might read it! That would upset their whole business model (which seems to be based on the idea that people buy papers because of their rigid adherence to professional codes of ethics).] ... 12:43 A.M. link

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I guess Mark Halperin really did write most of  ABC's The Note. The site has lost about 90% of its character since he moved on. ... P.S.: Halperin's annoying, absurdly self-confident insiderism was the best reason for not reading The Note. It turns out it was also the reason for reading The Note. ... 2:09 P.M. link

Too Interesting! When there's a choice between publishing something Columbia Journalism Review ethics police won't cluck at and something its readers might actually want to read, the sinking, hapless L.A. Times instinctively knows what to do:

1) It has sidelined its best political reporter--maybe anybody's best political reporter--because he's married to a McCain staffer. Why not have Ron Brownstein disclose his connection and let him write?**  It's not as if he's the only person covering the campaign. The Times seems to have the approved guild mentality: We are all credentialed professionals here! We have many other qualified staff members who can do Brownstein's work. ... No you don't!

2) It kills a section guest-edited by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer, because the Times editor who dreamed it up is dating one of Grazer's p.r. people.  I think the idea of having various local bigshots guest-edit an otherwise-unread Sunday thumbsuck section is promising. Let's see if Burkle's op-eds are better than Geffen's! I wanted to read Grazer's section before I learned of the salacious goings-on in the background. I certainly want to read it now. ... P.S.: In the process, the Times has lost a lively opinion editor, Andres Martinez, who's radically improved his pages and who apparently disclosed everything to his bosses. No doubt the paper's future editorial commentary will avoid creating this, or any other kind, of controversy.  ...

** Q.: What's the difference between Brownstein's conflict of interest with the McCain campaign and Howie Kurtz's WaPo conflict with CNN? A.: Kurtz owes more to CNN! ... 12:27 P.M. link

Cathy Seipp, an unintimidated voice and friend--and a scourge of the L.A. Times--died yesterday, having fought off lung cancer for five years. See Amy Alkon and National Review (also here and here).Some brief video comments are here. ...  6:14 A.M. link

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Flicker: I recently bought a compact fluorescent bulb, the GE brand recommended by Instapundit. I hate it. It flickers constantly. When it's not flickering it fills the room with a depressive, dulling haze. Maybe this is what happened to Courtney Love! It gives me a headache to look at it. ... I've consoled myself with the thought that I'll replace it with a regular bulb when it burns out. Then I realized it won't burn out for five years. I'm replacing it tomorrow. If John Edwards can be  live in a 28,000 square-foot mansion, I can have a 100-watt bulb. Populism! ... Update:  Reynolds and Kevin Drum and Jonathan Rowe suggest the flicker's caused by the dimmer switches my landlord has installed. Could be. But some commenters on Drum's vigorous Packwood-Diary-like thread report flicker without dimmers. It all has to do with the "relaxation rate of atomic transitions." I suspected as much! ... P.S.: Note the hectoring get-with-the-program, you're-an-idiot-if-you-flicker, there-is-no-more-debate tone of some of the Fluorescers. ... Non-hectoring advice here. ... Apparently some people are more sensitive to the flicker than others. And there are "health effects." ... P.P.S.: Why do I think the same people who are righteously denouncing us sensitive types today would have been righteously denouncing unhealthy lighting in the corporate "indoor environment" fifteen years ago? ... Reynolds, who got me into this mess, has a  sensible response. ... [Thanks to reader M.P.] 

[Update:How are the comments on Drum like the Packwood Diaries? I thought they were all about sex?--ed They were all about midrange audio devices! ]2:39 A.M. link

Adam Nagourney,NYT, liberal bias, 'He's no Ron Brownstein,' etc. You know the drill. But it's worth noting the relatively subtle ways in which Nagourney's recent front pager--on McCain and immigration--embeds the respectable Times-WSJ view favoring "comprehensive" reform (and sneering at the yahoos who oppose it). [Emphasis added below]:

#1: "The Republican field of presidential candidates includes Representative Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who has based his campaign on an anti-immigration message ..." 

It's easy to imagine a real "anti-immigration" candidate who depicts foreigners as an inherently corrupting and impure influence on American life and culture. I don't think even Tancredo--who wants to both stop illegal immigration and  reduce legal immigration to "allow the newcomers to assimilate"--fits that bill. He's for immigration. He just wants less of it! And it's quite possible to oppose legalizing existing illegals while favoring an actual increase in legal immigration. If it's too much for Nagourney to type the word "illegal" before "immigration," surely he can come up with a better word than "anti-immigration."  "Restrictionist" might work for genuine quota-cutters like Tancredo. "Enforcement-first" could describe those who merely oppose McCain's conditional-legalization plan.

#2: "As he left Iowa, Mr. McCain said he was reconsidering his views on how the immigration law might be changed. He said he was open to legislation that would require people who came to the United States illegally to return home before applying for citizenship, a measure proposed by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana. Mr. McCain has previously favored legislation that would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country."

But the Pence Plan is a scam--a fake compromise. Illegal immigrants would symbolically leave the country only because their rapid readmission would be effectively guaranteed by their U.S. employers. That's a huge advantage that would-be immigrants who obeyed the law and stayed home will never get.  The dream of the "comprehensive" camp is that their opponents--sorry, the "anti-immgration" forces--can be conned into accepting the Pence proposal as a "compromise." (It's "a way we can get some stuff," says McCain.)  Nagourney keeps that dream alive by presenting Pence's scheme as an embarrassing cave-to-the-base concession by McCain.

#3: "Mr. McCain's suggestion that he might be open to Mr. Pence's legislation requiring most workers to return home risks alienating business ... " 

No it doesn't. The spokeswoman for the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition ("service industries") says they "haven't ruled out a Pence-like" plan. That's negotiator-speak for "We'd take it in a heartbeat." Nagourney, characteristically, goes along with the Kabuki. [Cluelessly or cynically?--ed Tough one.] 

#4: "Mr. McCain has found himself particularly identified with this battle in no small part because he is from a border state that is deeply divided over immigration."

Huh? Mr. McCain has found himself particularly identified with this battle because he chose to become the Senate's leading proponent of a plan that would legalize immigrants currently here illegally. If he were from Kansas he'd be just as conspicuous. 

#5:  "Republicans have a tougher view than the general population on whether illegal immigrants should be deported, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this month. In that poll, 49 percent of Republican respondents said illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for citizenship; 45 percent said they should be deported immediately."

By associating the anti-McCain view with not only deportation but immediate deportation, polls like the one cited by Nagourney reinforce the idea that massive deportation of millions of illegals is the only alternative to McCain's "comprehensive" approach. In fact, the most intense opponents of McCain's plan--such as Tancredo or Mark Krikorian  of Center for Immigration Studies--favor a slow strategy of "attrition," not mass deportation. And it's quite possible to envision a less harsh alternative to McCain-Kennedy that involves no additional deportation--like the alternative of simply not passing McCain-Kennedy (and living with the status quo). Or just building a border fence, which would keep illegal immigrants from entering the country but do nothing to kick out those who are already here.  Or requiring U.S. employers to actually check (as opposed to pretend to check) the immigration status of new hires but not of their existing workers. 

Differences of opinion on deportation may be a good proxy for differences of opinion on the McCain-Kennedy bill.  But opinions on the McCain-Kennedy bill are also a good proxy for opinions on the McCain-Kennedy bill. Why not just poll on that? Because it wouldn't ... [fit the hegemonic MSM agenda of demonization?--ed make the bill's supporters look reasonable.] 2:10 A.M.  link

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Brownbacksliding? Eli Lake on the return of Sen. Brownback to the pro-surge camp:

When asked last month why he was voting for a nonbinding bipartisan resolution opposing the surge, he said he was in favor of a "political solution," whereby Iraq was divided into three ethnic provinces under a loose federal government. He had spoken with Iraqi leaders and General Petraeus, who, at least when he headed Fort Leavenworth in Mr. Brownback's home state, had never told the senator that he favored more soldiers. The general commanding the rescue of Baghdad, the senator seemed to be suggesting, was against it before he was for it.

So is Mr. Brownback.

Lake offers both unprincipled and principled reasons for Brownback's un-backslide. Unprincipled: He's running for president and "[t]he people who will show up in New Hampshire and Iowa to pick the Republican nominee are victory voters." Principled:

What happened last week is that the senator abandoned his flirtation with the notion that a retreat from Baghdad would spur Iraqi leaders who had encouraged the city's ethnic cleansing to seek the political solution. On the floor of the Senate when it counted, he conceded that Iraq's reconciliation is impossible without a military presence to counter the sectarian murderers.

P.S.: Regarding the surge, Omar of ITM's latest report from Baghdad seems almost implausibly hopeful:

You look around in Baghdad now and see hundreds of men working in the streets to pick up garbage; to plant flowers and paint the blast walls in joyful colors. Many of Baghdad's squares are becoming green and clean. The picture isn't perfect, but it's a clear attempt to beat violence and ease pain through giving the spring a chance to shine.

Nights in Baghdad now are far from quiet, but the sounds cause less anxiety for me than they did before. I recognize the rumble of armor and thump of guns and they assure me that the gangs and militias do not dominate the night as they once did.

More surprisingly, Simon Jenkins, a persistent war critic writing on HuffPo, also says of the surge:

The "surge" programme initiated last month by General Petraeus in Baghdad is the first intelligent thing the Americans have done in four years. By swamping neighbourhoods, monitoring entry, patrolling streets and giving personal protection to residents and tradesmen troops are able to restore some order to portions of the city. Petraeus is replacing vigilantes, militias and corrupt police with his own soldiers. He cannot reverse the ethnic cleansing that is fast partitioning Baghdad into Sunni and Shia quarters, but he can stabilise what has occurred. He can fortify the ghettos.

Jenkins thinks the "surge" comes "too late." But then he sketches a scenario as implausibly rosy as Omar's:

Economies recover, the more quickly the sooner they are left in peace. The hoodlums and gangsters now rich on American aid will harness the oil exports and eventually find a vested interest in protecting infrastructure and utilities. Religious segregation will enable the ghettos to feel more secure. Business will emerge from the bottom up and doctors, teachers and merchants start to move back from Amman and Damascus, once they hear that their old homes are safe and the Mahdists and Badrists are confined to barracks. Economic activity will return to the streets, as it has done to Beirut.

Jenkins claims all these good things will happen when U.S. troops leave--like many on the anti-surge left he has an almost Rumsfeldian faith in the ability of order to spontaneously generate in a power vacuum.  But it's hard to reconcile his declaration that U.S. troops "brutalise all they touch" and can't possibly "ensure that 'things get better'" with his earlier recognition that the "surge" is ... making things better. Why can't the surge bring temporary stability that allows "parlays between local commanders, sheikhs and religious leaders, neighbourhood alliances, deals and treaties"? Don't we want to strengthen the hand of relatively tolerant leaders and weaken the bargaining position of the killers? How is Petraeus hurting the situation?

One can imagine reasons: By naively moving Sunni families back into vulnerable mixed neighborhoods we may be setting the stage for more bloody sectarian cleansing in the future. More implausibly, maybe any deals can only be struck in conditions of radical insecurity, when the deal is the only thing that will stop ongoing slaughter (though you'd think if that were the case they would have been struck by now, no?).

Jenkins doesn't make these arguments--he just falls back on the HuffPo dogma thatU.S. troops are the problem (a "humilation and a provocation"). He seems lost somewhere between the Old Brownback and the New Brownback. ...

Update: Answering a query from Huffington, Jenkins says the problem with Petraeus' surge is "he will leave. And then what?" Wait. I thought the problem, according to Jenkins, was that U.S. troops weren't leaving. Now I'm all confused. ... Leave. Don't leave. What's the HuffPo party line again? ...

More: With Bob Wright's help, I try to figure out an argument that might support Jenkins here. (Short version: Groups won't cut deals when they are uncertain of their military position--i.e. it's weakness. They'll never be certain until the U.S. withdraws and fighting starts. Better version: In anarchic conditions, groups won't cut deals until their more rejectionist and violent member are willing to cut deals. By tacitly threatening more negotiation-prone leaders, these violent holdouts exercise effective veto power. And they won't agree to cut deals until they are certain of their position's weakness, which they won't be until the U.S. withdraws.) ... I don't think I agree with this argument--when fighting starts, isn't the result likely to be a lot more fighting, not a Sunni-Shiite deal? But it seems plausible. ... 1:47 P.M. link

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sullivan Re-unhinging Watch: In January, President Bush announced the 'surge' of "more than 20,000 additional" troops. One main worry at the time, voiced by critics including Andrew Sullivan, was that the troop increase wasn't enough. General Petraeus assured skeptics that if he thought he needed more troops, he'd ask for them. Now he's asked for them--an additional brigade--bringing the total "surge" to near 30,000. Andrew Sullivan's reaction: "Another Bush Lie." ... (via Elia) 3:57 P.M.

Wherein lies the greatness of Sen. Fred Thompson? Just asking!All I remember is he was given custody of an important set of hearings--into China and campaign finance--and screwed them up. ... He sounds good--in his John Fund interview  he says lots of sensible things (especially about civil service protections). But ideally a presidential candidate has accomplished something--even if it's only governing a state without steering it conspicuously into disaster. Obama hasn't accomplished much, but he's only been in the Senate for two years. Thompson didn't accomplish much in two years plus a full six-year term, no?. ... I'd love to be wrong on this. Please tell me why. ... P.S.: He's a bad actor! I never believe he's the character he's playing (even when the character is essentially Fred Thompson). ... P.P.S.: "Ronald Reagan wasn't Laurence Olivier either."  But he was better than Thompson! He met the threshhold test of believability. Anyway, Thompson's acting chops aren't the issue. That was a snarky aside. The problem is ... well, Reagan had governed California for two terms.  Giuliani saved New York City. McCain has championed a lot of legislation and passed some of it. What's Thompson done? ... 1:53 P.M. link

Patterico vs. Kaus on the Carol Lam firing. I don't have a dog in this fight--only a brother. ... Update: Also Kinsley vs. Cox. ... 11:29 A.M.

Was L. Ron Hubbard a Satanist? L.A. Metroblogger David Markland says "no"  after investigating this "urban legend"--but it's one of those debunking exercises that does a lot of bunking too.  Hubbard does seem to have been involved, at some level--along with  Jack Parsons, the co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory--in the "black magick" of Aleister Crowley and his Order Templi Orientis.

[T]he major flaw here is that while while the O.T.O. may be heavily involved in "black magick", it isn't Satanism, although the Satanism that was popularized by Anton LaVey in the late 60s was based heavily on the O.T.O.

Well, alright then!

P.S.: According to a quotation from Paul Young cited by Markland, "Hubbard based his own religion, Scientology, on some of Aleister Crowley's writing including specific symbols, his grading system, his use of hypnotic implants, and the concept of the OTO."  I'd say the best parts of this urban legend are undebunked. ... [via L.A. Observed] 11:23 A.M.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I probably deserved this. 4:36 P.M.

The Philandering Politicians' Protection Act: Michael Ledeen reports on a troubling new Italian law that would seem to require a Putin-like control of the Internet to completely succeed. Unless I read wrong it penalizes even accurate reporting on the "sexual sphere." ... In unrelated news, Bill Clinton announced he was moving ...  [Isn't there a Ron Burkle joke in here somewhere?--ed  I think! But I'm actually scared of getting Slate sued--proof that press laws like this can have a big effect. Just run it past the lawyers--ed At 4 in the morning? It wasn't that funny a joke. Good thing the New York Times can't be intimidated. They'd never go soft on a guy like him.--ed Um ...  OK, I missed that interview. But they owed it to Burkle after that "zipping around" line.-ed] ... Update: Maybe this is one of the new EU "privacy laws" Heather Mills McCartney has in mind to promote, just as soon as she's finished Dancing With the Stars. ... Bonus Yent-a-Matic: Heather and Ron! EHarmony could not do better. ... 1:34 A.M. link

U.S. military deaths in Iraq have apparently declined by about 20% since the "surge" began. It would be a caricature of MSM behavior if the New York Times, instead of simply reporting this potentially good news, first constructed some bad news to swaddle it in, right? From today's Times:

The heightened American street presence may already have contributed to an increase in the percentage of American deaths that occur in Baghdad.

Over all, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq from hostilities since Feb. 14, the start of the new Baghdad security plan, fell to 66, from 87 in the previous four weeks.

But with more soldiers in the capital on patrol and in the neighborhood garrisons, a higher proportion of the American deaths have occurred in Baghdad — 36 percent after Feb. 14 compared with 24 percent in the previous four weeks. Also over the past four weeks, a higher proportion of military deaths from roadside bombs have occurred in Baghdad — 45 percent compared with 39 percent. [E.A.]

Soldiers presumably get attacked where they are, not where they aren't. If we deploy more soldiers in Baghdad more soldiers will presumably be attacked, and killed, in Baghdad. I don't see why that in itself is bad news, or even news news, if the overall casualty level is declining. ... There will probably be genuine bad military news to report from Baghdad soon enough. Does the NYT have to make some up before then? [Yes, if Congress is voting on Iraq this week--ed Don't be a raving paranoid. It's like you're giving voice to some irresponsible blogger's dark id! Next you'll be saying that agenda-driven mid-level Times editors might have shaped those paragraphs.] ...

P.S.: If "gunmen" ambush the mayor of Sadr City, wounding him and killing an Iraqi military officer, that doesn't seem like a good thing. But are we sure that it "Hinders Antimilitia Effort," as the NYT headline says. Couldn't it easily help the antimilitia effort if people in Sadr City resent the attack and turn on the gunmen? (When Americans attack popular figures it can backfire on us quickly, right?) ... The Times story itself doesn't tell you one way or another. But it doesn't support up the anti-surge hed. [There's a vote on!-id Down, boy.] ...

P.P.S.: I've been relying heavily on Iraq the Model for news of the battle in Baghdad (in part because I went to see the brothers who blog on ITM talk when they visited the U.S., and I have a clear sense of their good faith). But commenter "piscivorous" at bloggingheads helpfully suggests some other Iraqi blogs to look at, if for some reason you don't completely trust the NYT's version of how the "surge" is going. ... 1:24 A.M. link

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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