Bush: Never mind those back taxes!

A mostly political Weblog.
May 20 2007 4:39 AM

Never Mind Those Back Taxes!

Bush drops a requirement for illegals.

Read My Flips: No Back Taxes! ... If You're an Illegal Immigrant. President Bush in an address from the Oval Office a year ago:

I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English, and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship ... [E.A.]

Forget that part about the taxes. The Bush administration actually  asked that the provision requiring payment of back taxes be dropped from the bill, and it was taken out. Kennedy had it in! ...

P.S.: White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said:

Determining the past tax liability would have been very difficult and costly and extremely time consuming.

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Try that "difficult and time consuming" excuse out on the IRS if you're a U.S. citizen and see how far it gets you. ...

P.P.S.: Will backers of "comprehensive" immigration reform continue to tout approving poll numbers from polls that specifically cited the now-defunct "back taxes" requirement before asking voters for their opinion about semi-amnesty? The CNN poll of May 4, 2007, for example, got a large favorable response when it asked if people favored

"Creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the United States for a number of years to stay in this country and apply for U.S. citizenship if they had a job and paid back taxes." [E.A.]

I wonder what the response would be to a query about favoring

"Creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the United States for a number of years to stay in this country and apply for U.S. citizenship even if they don't pay back taxes."

Don't need no Mystery Pollster to answer that one. ... [ via Corner12:17 A.M. link

Why can't they focus on the wolf-donkey problem here at home? Nabokov was inspired to write Lolita after reading about an ape who'd been taught to draw but only made a picture of the bars of its cage.  Recently, I received an emailed call to action regarding a caged wolf and donkey in Albania:

Apparently in Albania, some [deleted] has decided to keep a wolf and a donkey caged together in filthy conditions.  The donkey was initially put in the cage for the wolf to eat, but they've instead become friends and are now miserable in the cage together.

Says it all, no? ... Update: The donkey, but not the wolf, has been uncaged. That would seem a reasonable compromise. ... Unlike, say ... [oh, go ahead-ed] comprehensive immigration reform. ... 11:29 P.M.

Hunt in Morning, Fish in Afternoon: My friend Mary Battiata, who covered (among other things) the fall of Communism for the Washington Post, has produced a second alt-country CD  of her songs with her band Little Pink. It's pretty great--every song is good, there are fast ones and slow ones, yet it has a distinct, of-a-piece sound. Not since Little Feat's Sailin' Shoes have I played a CD more or less continuously, start to finish, and never wanted to get up to take it off.  (Even Leona Naess' I Tried to Rock You But You Only Roll, the previous champ, has one bad song; Steve Earle usually sticks a clinker in each half--and that's for his good albums. Rosie Thomas' When We Were Small opens with three songs so purely, wrenchingly sad I've never actually made it to song #4.) ... 11:05 P.M.

Bloggingheads on Mort Kondracke's "Plan B" for Iraq. ... 10:51 P.M.

The Shadows Aren't So Bad: At the Corner, Andy McCarthy talks sense to John Podhoretz, who has an unattractive habit of sneering at the immigration yahoos and seems to think there just has to be an immigration bill--any bill--because ... well, it's hard to tell. Key McCarthy point: "It is not a crisis that millions of people who have chosen to live and work here illegally must live 'in the shadows.'" (That will be confirmed when, if the bill passes, millions decide they'd rather go on living in the shadows than pay the statutory fine.) ... 2:01 P.M.

Michael Yon with Marines on patrol in Anbar province, emails Instapundit. Last line: "If the rest of Iraq looked like this, we could all come home!" ... 1:43 P.M.

On the heels of his triumphant announcement of a breakthrough "comprehensive" immigration deal, President Bush's support has ... "fallen to the lowest level ever recorded"!  Pollster Scott Rassmussen notes:

The president's ratings have tumbled each time immigration reform dominates the news.

Using advanced, high-tech tools, Karl Rove has found the last pocket of support for Bush and destroyed it with laser-like efficiency. ... Update: See David Frum for eight (8) reasons why the immigration deal "detonated the slow motion trigger on a Republican debacle in 2008."Powerline agrees, with one exception (it helps Romney). ... 1:25 P.M.

Don't Calm Down! On the PBS NewsHour, David Brooks says the 70 Senate votes for the Kyl-Kennedy immigration "compromise" are "soft." Great. But opposition is soft too. For example, the National Review notes that Alabama  Sen. Jeff Sessions put out a statement saying he is "deeply concerned with the compromise" bill and wants to look at the "details." Sessions shouldn't be "deeply concerned" with the compromise. He should be opposing the compromise. He knows enough now without looking at the "details." ... If Sessions (who eviscerated last year's "comprehensive" bill) doesn't take the lead in the Senate, who will? ... P.S.: "Soft" senators react to the public's reaction. This is so not the time for opponents to calm down. ... 2:37 A.M. link

Booker Prize: Ed Rollins and Arianna Huffington, together again! ... [For some of why this is a potentially tense pairing, click here ] ... 2:01 A.M.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Burning at Both Ends: I think AllahPundit misinterprets my earlier post comparing the Kyl cave-in plan to Nixon's guaranteed income plan (FAP). I wasn't saying that the most legitimate left wing objections to the Kyl-Kennedy scheme--e.g., that it will unleash an un-blockable tide of amnesty-seeking illegals who will further bid down wages for lower-skilled Americans, increasing income inequality--are necessarily what can derail the plan. The Democratic objections that might derail it are mostly other sorts of objections, of the we-want-the-whole-loaf-and-think-we-can-get-it-in-2009 variety--lower fees for the "Z visa," more "chain migration," no guest worker program, etc. ... The liberal demands that derailed the Nixon guaranteed income plan weren't demands I have much sympathy for ("You can't force me to work," said a welfare mother to applause a FAP-related hearing in 1970). But they derailed it just the same. ... I'm not predicting this will happen. Just saying it's possible. ... 

P.S.: Jason Steck seems to think any plan rejected by "purists" on left and right must be OK. But not all "moderate" plans are sensible! FAP was a centrist idea rejected by purists of left and right, yet it was a bad idea. Same with Kyl-Kennedy. Just as defeating FAP set the stage for a better plan also rejected by purists of left and right--the 1996 welfare reform that stressed work over guarantees of cash--defeating Kyl-Kennedy can set the stage for a better bipartisan plan (stressing effective enforcement measures before guaranteeing semi-amnesty). ... [via RCP's blogfight page] 11:50 P.M.

Spiegelman Scores! If Rupert Murdoch has a shot at wresting the Wall Street Journal from the Bancroft family-- despite a two-tier stock structure designed to give the family a majority of the voting rights--why can't somebody else wrest the New York Times from the Sulzberger family (protected by a similar two tier structure). Bloggingheads asks; Roger Lowenstein,  criticizing both papers' two-tier structure in the New Republic, doesn't answer. ...

P.S.: Lowenstein is pretty unconvincing about the plight of the poor disenfranchised Class A shareholder in these family-controlled companies. They knew they weren't getting meaningful voting rights when they bought their stock, no? The problem with the Sulzbergers isn't that they don't make enough money--who cares?--but that they've installed hapless scion Pinch, who's encouraged mindless Upper West Side prejudices to shape the paper's news coverage (a smaller problem, I admit, since Howell Raines' departure, and since some of those mindless Upper West Side prejudices--i.e., about George Bush's inadequacy--have proved accurate). ...

P.P.S.: Ian Spiegelman's sensational charges, at least partially confirmed by the New York Post itself, suggest again why Murdoch isn't someone you want running a paper either, even if his stockholders do well. ... So well timed! Sorry, ETP. You picked a bad day for the contrarian Murdoch defense. (I'm counter-contrarian on this one. That's the most contarian of all!)  ...  10:39 P.M. link

Don't Count on Pelosi: Opponents of the GOP cave-in on immigration would be fools, I think, to rely on Nancy Pelosi's House to kill the legislation. Pelosi has allegedly demanded that the White House produce 70 Republican "yes" votes as bipartisan cover before she brings the bill to the floor. (In today's NYT, Rahm Emanuel says "60 or 70.") What are the bill's opponents going to do when Pelosi decides that, hey, 20 or 30 Republican votes are enough? Hugh Hewitt's instinct--to try to stall the bill now, in the Senate--seems sound. ... P.S.: If I were a paranoid, which I am, I'd even think that Pelosi's heavily-publicized riff about needing 70 GOP votes in her chamber is a trick to sucker Republican senators into supporting the bill with the (false) hope that the 70 votes won't be there and it will be blocked in the House. ... 1:45 P.M. link

Peggy Noonan: "Why shouldn't liberalism get a shot? Could they mess up more?" 4:29 A.M.

GOP Immigration Cave-In, Part II: The GOP's lead Senate negotiator, Sen. Jon Kyl, appears to have caved on the crucial issue of legalization (for existing illegal immigrants) in exchange for a promise of tougher enforcement to prevent another, future wave of illegals.

Unfortunately, the legalization in the Senate's compromise would be immediate--see below. The "enforcement" part would follow, in the form, WaPo reports, of "18,000 new Border Patrol agents and four unmanned aerial vehicles," etc. There appears to be no requirement that these added assets would actually accomplish the job of preventing more illegal immigration. At least in Iraq Bush is asking to be judged by the result of his surge, not by his mere deployment of more troops.

It's not even clear the new agents will be assigned to enforce the immigration laws. Here is a CNN report, citing Homeland Security Sec. Michael Chertoff on the subject:

But Chertoff told CNN that the bill would help him better focus his resources.

"Right now, I've got my Border Patrol agents and my immigration agents chasing maids and landscapers. I want them to focus on drug dealers and terrorists. It seems to me, if I can get the maids and landscapers into a regulated system and focus my law enforcement on the terrorists and the drug dealers, that's how I get a safe border."

Hmm. Future illegal immigrants will be "maids and landscapers" too. Is Chertoff going to use the Border Patrol to look for them (and their law-breaking employers) or is he going to pull Border Patrol agents off the immigration beat in order to put them on the anti-drug smuggling and terrorism beats?  If the Bush Administration is going to try to appease foes of legalization with a show of "enforcement" muscle, it could at least get its story straight. ...

P.S.: Good Rich Lowry line--

But the 12 million illegals here before January would get probationary legal status immediately when the bill passes. Effectively, that's amnesty. (It's unclear why illegals arriving here after January would be excluded so coldheartedly. What does McCain want to do, deport them all?)

4:07 A.M. link

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fight It Like FAP? Something to encourage those who oppose the Kyl-Kennedy compromise GOP cave-in  on immigration: This is a complex bill, with provisions opposed by the right (e.g., instant legalization) and provisions opposed by the left (e.g., a temporary guest worker program, potential shift toward favoring immigrants with skills more and family members less). It's not uncommon for a bill to ultimately fail because it loses votes on both ends**--some legislators don't think it's "liberal" enough and some don't think it's "conservative" enough--even though the objections are contradictory. That's what happened, for example, in 1972 to Nixon's Family Assistance Plan (FAP)--a "grand bargain" that would have replaced welfare with a guaranteed income. FAP is eerily similar to Kyl-Kennedy: it too was a faux-solution to a big problem. It too was endorsed by virtually the entire respectable MSM-political establishment (and promoted by a president weakened by an unpopular war!). But it lost when faced with a strange bedfellows alliance of conservatives who didn't like the idea of guaranteeing everyone cash benefits and liberals who didn't think the benefits were generous enough. And after FAP lost, it went away and never came back. It's not inconceivable that the same thing will happen to Kyl-Kennedy ...

P.S.: And that's not even considering the many "left" objections that are in fact the same as the "right" objections--e.g., that the bill, by encouraging another flood of illegals, will drive down the wages of unskilled Americans. ... (See this L.A.T. article  noting the initial opposition of Democratic senators Ben Nelson and Byron Dorgan.) 

P.P. S.: A Full FAP strategy might require conservatives to figure out how to rile up, not just right wing anti-amnesty critics of the bill but also left wing immigrant-rights critics. Perhaps House Democrats could be subtly encouraged to hold a large hearing, attended by activists from the undocumented community, at which spokespeople loudly demanded not just instant legalization but free instant legalization! (Speaker suggestion: Nativo Lopez.) They'll be making these demands soon enough. Why not now? ... They might also emphasize that they do not think they are immigrants at all--this is their homeland! We stole it from them. ... Not only would these hearings mobilize Latino opposition to the compromise, they might also turn off the rest of the country (much as some famous hearings featuring George Wiley's welfare rights activists soured the country on the guaranteed income). ...

Meanwhile: Mark Krikorian has some simpler ideas for opposing the bill. Ace of Spades is a bit more ambitious. [via Insta] ...

**--This doesn't necessarily happen because poor political managers fail to find the centrist sweet spot. Sometimes there just isn't a position in the center that can win over enough legislators from the extremes. With FAP, for example, creating a guaranteed benefit generous enough to win over antipoverty Dems turned out to be impossibly expensive. FAP backers didn't fail to find the compromise solution. There was no solution. ... 11:51 P.M. link

'Everyone who was illegal is now ... legal.'The Corner investigates and discusses the gruesome details of the Kyl cave-in on immigration as they emerge. According to Rich Lowry, despite all the deceptive rhetoric about a  "borders first" approach, current illegal immigrants would apparently get an immediate "probationary" card, making them immediately legal. That is why Sen. Kennedy (who supports legalization) could boast, at the press conference on the deal, that

If this bill becomes law, it will provide an historic opportunity for millions of people right away. [E.A.]

P.S.: Captain Ed loyally defends the deal in what may be one of the most unconvincing blog posts ever!

Here's the problem with the hard-liner arguments, which amounts to "they'll never engage the border-security and workplace enforcement portions." Well, that could be true of any immigration bill, even if it completely matched the conservative position on immigration. It's an argument that only supports no action whatsoever on illegal immigration, including border controls.

That's silly. You could pass "the border-security and workplace enforcement portions" and then see if they worked--and tightened them if they didn't--before you went ahead with amnesty. ... Lowry, meanwhile, defends Sen. Kyl, also unconvincingly. If Kyl had walked away from negotiations, would he really not bring along 39 other votes to block a "much worse" bill? There doesn't have to be a bill, remember. Bipartisan cooperative "action" isn't necessarily always a great thing (as the 1986 amnesty showed). The country is not in crisis, only Bush. The no-bill status quo, Lowry's own magazine notes, has been moving in a good direction on immigration, with greater enforcement (and rising wages at the bottom). ...

P.P.S.: Heather Mac Donald predicts the effect of the immediate legalization will be to encourage more illegal immigrants to come here and create new 'facts on the ground' that will then have to be humanely and compassionately accommodated in another, future amnesty:

There is no ambiguity about the effects of amnesty. Everywhere they have been introduced—including in Europe—they have brought in their train a new flood of illegals. 

This latest bill will do the same.

Prof. Borjas agrees: "After all, what guarantees that the current batch of 12 million illegal immigrants will not be replaced by another 12 million in just a few years?" He makes the (apt!) Iraq analogy:

The bill neatly summarizes the intellectual flimsiness of the Bush administration — a flimsiness that has cost us dearly in so many other areas. Perhaps they can convince themselves otherwise; that legalizing the status of illegal immigrants is not an amnesty; that the laws of supply and demand can be repealed when it comes to immigration ...

And that the millions of new citizens from Latin America will be Republicans. ...

P.P.P.S.: Lowry says Senate insiders predict 70+ votes for the compromise. But isn't that the safe vote for some Senate Dems--i.e. those from big industrial states, or reddish half-Southern states--"no"? They can say they voted against the compromise for La Raza-like reasons: the shift away from "family reunification," the restrictions on "temporary" guest workers. But a "no" vote also makes it harder for non-La Raza conservatives (and liberal Dobbs populists) to attack them for having supported the bill's amnesty provisions. Win-win Kabuki! ... Also, if the Senate bill, with its immediate-legalization, passes, that will dramatically raise expectations and increase the pressure from Latino groups--increasing the bind of Dem legislators from iffy districts who worry about an anti-amnesty attack. One way to avoid the bind is to avoid raising expectations by letting the bill die now. ... This is all probably wishful thinking on my part. ...

Update: Romney and Fred Thompson have come out against the deal. Guiliani  fudges. ... 2:59 P.M. link

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Updates on the Senate GOP Cave-in on immigration, specifically the amnesty issue,  at The Corner, Powerline and Hugh Hewitt. ...

Hewitt's gotten a leak of the bogus tough sounding talking points  GOP Senators will try to deploy to cover their retreat. Many of the alleged concessions--like ending "chain migration" of family members--seem unenforceable in the long run. Are we really going to give citizenship to illegals but prevent them from reuniting with their families? I don't think so.  Even if we could, and even if that were desirable, and even if the provisions survived in the Democratic house, it would hardly be worth what the GOP senators have apparently agreed to: taking the risk of encouraging another 12 million illegals to evade our still-porous border controls and wait for the next amnesty. ... This is looking more and more like the Bush administration's domestic version of Iraq: a big risky gamble, based on wishful thinking and nonexistent administrative competence, that will end in disaster. What disaster? 1) Lower wages for struggling unskilled--and semi-skilled--American workers (including, especially, underclass men) even when the labor market should be tight; 2) Income inequality moving further in the direction of Latin America--maybe even to such an extent that social equality between the rich and their servers becomes difficult to maintain; and 3) A large semi-assimilated population along our southern border with complex, understandably binational allegiances--our own Quebec. ... Actually, I can see why some Republicans might not be so bothered by (1) and (2). But what about Democrats? ...

Praxis: Here's a form that lets you contact Sen. Kyl's office  to tell him whatever you think. In my experience, Congresspersons and Senators are extremely--make that absurdly, almost irrationally--sensitive to calls, emails and letters. ... 4:31 P.M. link

He means to win Wimbledon! Business analysts don't seem to understand the economic logic behind the huge price paid by  zippy Bill Clinton bachelor buddy Ron Burkle for 76 specialty magazines. But is it possible there is no business logic? That Burkle doesn't really want to own lots of magazines so he can make lots of money? That he wants to own them for some other reason? [As a public trust?--ed There you go! Especially the tabs. He wants to buy   the tabs because the tabs are a public trust.] ... Update: WWD is thinking along the same lines--that Burkle's 76-mag Primedia purchase is designed to set up the AMI tabloid purchase. ... Now all Hillary's got to do cement her pre-2008 newsstand stranglehold is somehow convince her ally Rupert Murdoch to buy the conservative Wall Street Journal! (No more "Who Is Vince Foster?" reprints!) What am I smoking? That could never happen! ... 1:07 A.M. link

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is Sen. Kyl Blowing It? Judging from Robert Pear's report ** the Senate talks on an immigration "compromise" are heading in a grim direction. It's hard to tell exactly without either a) debriefing the principals or b) reading the statutory language. But Pear suggests these danger signs:

1) Phony triggers? The complete amnesty will be delayed until ... what? Until the borders are actually controlled, or until the government merely makes a specified attempt to bring the borders under control? Here's Pear:

Major provisions of the bill being developed in the Senate would not take effect unless the president first certified that he had hired more Border Patrol agents and taken other steps to beef up enforcement of immigration laws at the border and in the workplace. [E.A.]

That sure sounds like it's input, not output, that "triggers" the amnesty provisions.

2) Immediate legalization?  As Mark Krikorian predicted, even before the "triggers" are triggered, it seems illegal immigrants would get "special 'Z visas,' allowing them to stay here for an initial period of four years." Really eight years, according to WaPo. In other words, immediate legalization. No wonder amnesty advocate Tamar Jacoby confidently asserts, "The fight over legalization, or 'amnesty,' is all but over."  ...  Other clues that the legalization provision is very liberal: The National Immigration Forum spokesperson praises it "very good, much better than the one in the bill passed by the Senate last year." And, according to WaPo, "the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Forum are virtually being granted veto power over" the bill by Sen. Ted Kennedy. [E.A.]

3) Misguided focus on guest workers? Instead of working to block a massive legalization of illegals--likely to only encourage the next generation of illegals to test our border controls--the "conservative" point man, Sen. John Kyl, appears to have focused on punishing over foreign citizens who come here legally under a new guest worker program.

"Temporary must mean temporary," said Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the principal Republican negotiator. "A temporary worker program should be for temporary workers, not for aliens who wish to become United States citizens."

Why shouldn't aliens who come her legally as guest workers have a path to citizenship? Isn't that an incentive we want to offer those who bother to go the legal route? Do we want a two-tier work force? La Raza's Cecilia Munoz has a point when she says "Senator Kyl's approach is contrary to our history as a nation of immigrants."

In politics, it's always harder to screw people who are already in place, marching. lobbying, and complaining --i.e. existing illegals--than it is to screw people who haven't yet come here and don't even know who they are (potential future guest workers). But in this case it's the people-in-place who've broken the law. They're the ones who need to be stiff-armed. Instead, Kyl seems to be acceding to an unjustified amnesty for illegals-in-place while letting conservatives get bought off by equally unjustified restrictions on future guest workers. Easy politics, terrible policy.

Is Kyl even trying to get a better bill? Or is he trying to get a better fig leaf to help sell conservatives Bush's bill? ...

**--It's risky to rely on Pear! He's honest, but he's almost always a captive of his liberal interest group sources. In today's article, for example, he quotes only the objections of pro-legalization figures (from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, La Raza, and the National Immigration Forum, a "pro immigrant advocacy group"). No "enforcement first" advocates make it into the piece. I don't think it's that Pear doesn't want their views--it's that the liberal interest groups are the people he is talking to all the time. They inevitably influence what he writes about, and what he writes about what he writes about.  He's constantly soaking in a liberal interest group bath! Of course, when quote time comes around, they're the people he has handy. But even if he called up enforcement-firster Mark Krikorian and got a balancing quote, that wouldn't compensate for the way Krikorian's opponents have already shaped Pear's coverage. (Yes, I'm extrapolating here from Pear's role in the 1995-6 welfare debates.) 11:41 P.M. link

GOP Debate--kf Lazy Horse Race Blink Take**

Win: Giuliani, McCain, Huckabee. ... Romney didn't come on strong--"double Guantanamo!"--until too late, therefore he loses relative momentum;

Lose:Paul, TancredoGilmore 

Not Much Impact:Hunter, Thompson, Brownback

**--In other words, a "winner" isn't someone whom I liked, but who I thought gained support among Republican primary voters who actually watched the thing. ... 7:37 P.M.

Watch it, wingers! If conservatives keep rubbing the Dem Congress' low poll ratings in its faceNancy Pelosi might be tempted to counter the "do nothing" image by ... passing "comprehensive immigration reform," which most conservatives disdain. ...

Of course, some Republicans also desperately want an immigration bill to "get the issue off the table" before the elections. (Hugh Hewitt, this means you.) Fortunately, National Review has not joined them--and instead produced a calm and sensible editorial. They're not the ones running around calling people "yahoos"! Key NR graf:

Another false premise is that the various components of "comprehensive immigration reform" must go together. The president expressed this view most recently in last weekend's radio address: "We must address all elements of this problem together, or none of them will be solved at all." Why? There is no reason not to pass enhanced enforcement measures now and turn to the status of remaining illegal aliens later. [E.A.]

The supposed linkage between increased enforcement and semi-amnesty is not dissimilar to the linkage between deposing Saddam Hussein and fighting Al Qaeda: weak, yet constantly repeated by the Bush Administration as a rhetorical device to sell a preconceived (and misguided) grand plan! It's their M.O.. The difference is that now conservatives are on to them too. ...

P.S.: There's an obvious contradiction lurking here.Powerline agrees that passing immigration reform would help Democrats  by countering the 'do-nothing' charge. But the Republicans who are desperate to get the issue 'off the table' seem to feel a bill would help Republicans (largely, I'm told, by ending a divisive intraparty debate in which GOP hardliners inevitably alienate moderate swing voters with their harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric). They can't both be right. Control of Congress and of the White House is a zero sum game. Either a bill helps the GOPs or the Dems. Which is it? That's why I'm nervous, despite Mark Krikorian's assurances. What if Pelosi concludes it's in her interest--even hershort term, win-in-2008 interest--to move a bill even without 70 or 50 Republican votes as cover? ... P.P.S.: It's more obviously in Pelosi's long term interest to pass a semi-amnesty bill, since millions of new Hispanic voters are likely to be mainly Democrats even if the GOPs slightly increase their share. ...  3:28 P.M.

Instapundit and Bob Krumm argue we've seen a breathtaking demonstration of Fred Thompson's campaign potential in this instantly produced and reasonably effective (in the good cheap shot sense) anti-Michael Moore video. ... Krumm is right that it's the sort of thing Hillary's ponderous campaign would have trouble matching. I think a clip like this only has a big tactical impact, though, if it gets picked up by the TV networks and starts driving the whole MSM--proliferation on the Web isn't enough, yet.  But it's hard to see how the nets will be able to resist free video from a cigar-chomping Thompson. ... More important, I think: quite apart from its advantages as a campaign tool, the video is itself evidence of Thompson's actual presidential qualifications. You can't make a quickie spot like this unless a) you know what you think (or have a really fast pollster) b) you can react to new situations quickly, and c) you have some sense of theater.  Those are all extremely important things for a president to have. (On the significance of (c), see Jon Alter's FDR bio, which stresses Roosevelt's theatrical skill.) ... Also new: The use of Breitbart.tv, potentially a Drudge of video. ... 2:54 P.M.

Vigorous Sucky writing  with Gillespie and Cavanaugh. (They know they're being vigorous. It's like watching the creaking John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart pretend they are young cowboys in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Still good!) ... 2:08 P.M.

Today is supposed to be crunch day for the Senate compromise immigration bill being negotiated. Mark Krikorian has an update: "[I]f Jon Kyl makes a deal with Ted Kennedy, then amnesty will pass the Senate; if not, not." ... Meanwhile, "comprehensive" supporter Tamar Jacoby celebrates the spirit of bipartisan compromise by calling 25% of the [Republican] party "these yahoos." ...How come she gets to hurl the epithets? [At least she didn't call them "wusses."--ed. Then we'd have to wait for a ruling from Sullivan.] ..

Note to Associated Press: 'Amnesty' is no longer the word the bill's opponents use to "derisively brand" provisions to give illegal immigrants legal status. It's the Official NYT-Approved Honest Word  for even conditional ("earned") legalization provisions. ... 1:12 P.M. link

Obama dares to support public charter schools before an AFL-CIO crowd! ("'I think it's brave of a candidate to come here and say some of those things," says a Communications Worker of America union steward.) ... Do they unions realize how bad they look if a candidate has to be "brave" to tell them something 75% of Americans probably agree with? ... 12:36 P.M.

More sound pre-debate advice for the GOP candidates--especially for Mitt Romney--from Frum. ... 3:38 A.M.

Chrysler: Three unsubtle points--

1) Automobile's Jamie Kitman suggests that the American executives who sold Chrysler to Mercedes--Bob Eaton and Robert Lutz--were somehow motivated by their stock options to make a bad merger in 1998. But the merger was great for shareholders in the old Chrysler, no? They unloaded what was now obviously a turkey of a company on Mercedes for $36 billion! It's the Germans who got taken. Wasn't that a triumph of ... er, salesmanship for Eaton and Lutz?

2) But Kitman rightly points to Mercedes' abject failure to get Chrysler to produce good new cars. The big rear-drive Chrysler 300 sedan was a huge hit, but instead of producing more, similar hits--and maybe distinguishing itself as the rear-drive, performance-oriented member of the Big Three, using all that Mercedes know-how--DaimlerChrysler churned out "a procession of also- and never-rans"--near-pathetic kludges dressed up in Victorian creases and squared-off plastic bulges: the Jeep Compass, Dodge Caliber, the Chrysler Aspen. (Caveat: I actually think the much-derided Hummeresque Commander  was good-looking.) The Caliber I rented last year was one of the clumsiest cars I've ever driven. Most of these vehicles use "design language" derived from the seminal  Crossfire show car. DaimlerChrysler never seemed to realize that the seminal Crossfire show car was a dud! This is one Detroit automaker whose failure can't be blamed entirely on Wagner Act unionism with its legalistic work rules.

 3) Wolfgang Bernhard, who looks like he will probably wind up running the company, is the Jennifer Granholm of the auto industry. ... 2:48 A.M. link

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dispute Resolution: It's left vs. right on Barack Obama's alleged "45 m.p.g." mistake. ... Winner: It looks like the left is right. Obama was pretty clearly referring to m.p.g. averages in Japan, not average m.p.g. of Japanese cars sold in the U.S.. ... Emotion: Relief that Obama's not as not ready for prime time as initial accounts had it. .. [via RCP's handy new blogfight page ] 4:19 P.M.

Hagel Incoherence Watch: From Face the Nation ...

I am not happy with the Republican Party today," Hagel said. "It's been hijacked by a group of single-minded almost isolationists, insulationists, power-projectors."

Isolationists? Bush? Iraq? If the isolationists had hijacked the Republican Party we wouldn't be in this mess. ... Is Hagel just instinctively, mindlessly hitting the Sunday-morning MSM's erogenous zones (i.e., it's not respectable to be an "isolationist"). That's what he seems to do for a living. ... Update: Rich Lowry and his readers try to make sense of Hagel. It may be beyond the massively networked power of the Web. ... 12:11 P.M.

Matt Yglesias suspects"the whippersnapper window is closing." After Ezra Klein they pull up the drawbridge. Yikes. ...  Can't they wait until the new generation of post-Bush, anti-Kos neolibroots rebels comes online? These people are, like, only 12 at the moment. ... 11:43 A.M.

The End of Affirmative Action--First Alterman, Now Obama? Even Barack Obama, under pressure from George Stephanopoulos, seemed to be abandoning the affirmative action idea and shifting toward embracing a class-based preference system, notes Roger Clegg. ... This is more than a potential 'Sister Souljah moment' for Obama. Obama would not be showing that he can reject the more extreme, wacky positions of his party's component interest groups. He'd be showing he's rejecting what has been a central and widely accepted demand of an interest group with which he is inevitably identified.  He's not quite there yet--and maybe he'll have to backtrack after his ABC This Week comments--but he's at least on the verge of giving voters not merely a reason to not oppose him, but a big reason to support him--the prospect that President Obama will end race preferences and the long, divisive debate they generate. Hillary cannot make that promise. Her husband famously balked at making exactly the shift--from race to class--that Obama seemed to endorse. And even if Hillary made that leap, she couldn't shift African-American opinion away from race preferences the way a black president could shift African-American opinion. She can't put the issue to rest. Obama can. ... P.S.: I blame Jennifer Gratz. Michigan's  stunning 2006 anti-preference vote  is still resonating. Pols paid attention even if the press didn't. ...

Update: Jonathan Chait  suggests Obama's shift towards class-based preferences is itself a class-based appeal. ... See also Yglesias. 10:32 A.M. link

"Any Weapon to Hand": Some readers have asked for a definition of that phrase when I've applied it to my excitable former boss. It means using any rhetorical trick, including trumped up outrage, to bash your opponent even if you are going to take a contradictory position when it helps bash whoever is your opponent a couple of months later. Example!

March 9, 2007:Andrew Sullivan condemns my use of the word "wussy," featuring a quote from a reader who argues

"The misogyny behind it - as behind so much homophobia - is pretty clear."

May 9, 2007: Sullivan questions  why gun owners might not want their names published.

"Glenn Reynolds argues that the important thing is keeping people guessing about who has a gun or not. Fair enough. But I'm not that impressed by wusses who don't want to be ostracized by liberal elites at their neighborhood barbecues." [E.A.]

(Thanks to alert reader R.W., who argues the two month lag "before assuming the opposite position" actually represents a slowing of Sullivan's cycle of righteous self-contradiction.)

Update--The Whole Wuss and Nothing But the Wuss: Sullivan responds by charging I have a "long record of homophobia" because I wrote a piece 24 years ago defending a famous/infamous homophobic sign at an L.A. bar called Barney's Beanery--a piece that a) wasn't really homophobic, and b) I almost immediately rethought and regretted, and that Sullivan surely knows I publicly repudiated years ago, the issue having surfaced in a recent blog back-and-forth.  Like I said, "any weapon to hand." Also, intellectual dishonesty!** ... [Update: Tim Cavanaugh thinks this is "unironic umbrage." It was. But I added an exclamation point!]

P.P.S.: The whole point of the email Sullivan reprinted is that the word "wussy" itself is misogynistic and homophobic, not that it's OK if it's used as an epithet in the "context" of attacking someone Sullivan deems worthy of attacking (in this case, gun owners). ...  

**--Sullivan just made up the part about how "Mickey loved that bar." I didn't. I liked the Raincheck Room down the street. He also again quotes me using "wussy" without mentioning I was trying to characterize the p.o.v. of Ann Coulter and her conservative audience, not my own p.o.v.. (Here's the dingalink--you decide.) I don't think Edwards is "wussy on foreign policy." He is a bit elfin in appearance. So sue me. 1:44 A.M.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mr. Loaf: In case you had any doubt where Gov. Bill Richardson stands on immigration reform, here he is last year, overheard talking to an aide about the "Hagel-Martinez" immigration plan--the basis for the "comprehensive" reform bill that passed the Senate. It basically would have offered legalization to illegal immigrants who'd been here for two years  or more--but this compromise was too restrictive for Richardson:

Rewind 10 hours. It's 8:15 a.m. and Richardson is running late.

As a state patrolman pushes the governor's Ford hybrid sport utility vehicle toward 90 mph, coaxing it to an unnatural whine, Richardson punches buttons on one of his three cellphones.

He calls an aide and discusses potential fundraising events in April and May with Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Then he dials U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., leaving a message on the Senate minority leader's cellphone about an immigration-reform bill being debated that day: "I don't like this Hagel-Martinez initiative. It's sort of half a loaf. Let's hold fast." [E.A.]

If you want the whole loaf, it looks like Richardson is your guy. ... 7:07 P.M.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Modern elections are largely governed by the principle of minimum differentiation which (according to the mean voter theorem) will generally produce a 50-50 split in most polls and elections.

However: every so often an individual candidate will abandon minimum differentiation strategies only to uncover major constituencies "hidden" by 50-50 polling. This generates a poorly-predicted landslide in one direction or the other. (This differs from "wedge issue" thinking in one important respect. A "wedge" creates only the smallest of openings, not a landslide, and I hope you'll pardon this very mixed metaphor.) [E.A.]

2008? Iraq? Health care?** ... Actually, you could you argue that there are almost always hidden constituencies ready to be uncovered--with new ones constantly forming like magma. That would be one reason why the national election industry is less stable than, say, the soft drink industry--and why presidential races won't always be grinding near-ties like the past two. What does seems unlikely is that any lopsided victory margin will persist for more than a cycle or two (e.g., Karl Rove's permanent Republican majority fantasy, the Judis-Teixeira emerging Dem majority fantasy). The losing party will adjust and get back in the game--faster than ever before, thanks in part to, yes, the Feiler Faster Thesis. ...

**--Note that most, maybe all, of these issues could conceivably produce a landslide either way. For example, you'd think a Democrat could steal the hidden pro-universal constituency in the GOP. But if a Republican with a plausible health care plan--say, Romney--somehow managed to get the GOP nomination, he might steal the "constituency" of Democrats who want to go left only on health care. ... 12:20 P.M.

J. Goldberg, so naive: Does this headline seem like an accidental blooper to you? ... 1:39 A.M.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mickey's Assignment Desk: Fogeyism! Specifically, "Fogeyism" defined as the reaction of older reporters and pundits --print and online--against young bloggy commentators who have been empowered by new technology (and the politics it spawned), which gives them a voice and a following they would have enjoyed at their age in no other era. ... I have three examples, so it is a trend: 1) After New Republic's Spencer Ackerman "in a blog post ... referred to someone as a 'fool,' TNR ex-owner Marty Peretz wondering "'Where does a 15-year-old come off saying stuff like that?'" Ackerman was soon to be a TNR ex-writer; 2)Newsweek's Jon Alter bristling at the treatment he received from a "young reporter" posting on Radar (see below);" 3) Me ill-advisedly  saying what I thought (at the time) about the youthful Ezra Klein. ...

Just because Fogeyish outbursts almost always look bad, damaging the Fogey more than the scorned young'un, doesn't mean they don't actually have some substantive basis. ... It did used to be that young journos went through a long apprenticeship before they reached a position from which they could address the masses on the great issues of the day. Now they have blogs in elementary school! That must have some consequences. Those consequences aren't all necessarily good! ... Were we better off in the 1960s, when the antiwar movement had to have leaders instead of bloggers? ...  Where does Spencer Ackerman get off calling someone a "fool" anyway? ... Discuss! ... Assigned to: Someone of an age in between Fogey and Whippersnapper--say, Frank Foer! Or a Whippersnapper who's kind of Fogeyish (say, Matthew Yglesias). ... 12:46 P.M. link

I didn't think Thomas Edsall would without any irony declare that "David Broder is the voice of the people,"  as described in Radar. Comes now Jonathan Alter to say that it didn't happen and that Radar's Jebediah Reed is a "bad reporter." ... Moral: Don't slime the Kool Kidz! We will f--k you up! And I say that in a pleasantly arch tone. ...

Update:Radar management emails a link to Reed's response, under the subject line "Advantage: Whippersnappers." Reed stoutly maintains Edsall's Broder comment "was not said archly." Not so fast, punks! Mark Kleiman, a Fogey of the Left who knows Edsall and Edsall's sense of humor, is almost certainly right when he blogs:

I've known Edsall for close to 40 years. (I was still in high school when he covered a campaign I worked on: Parren Mitchell's first run for Congress.) He has the best dead-pan I've ever encountered. It's a normal conversational gambit (for him) to say something transparently absurd with a completely flat affect.

I bet Reed just missed Edsall's deadpan. Kleiman's interpretation jibes with dry-joke emails I've gotten from Edsall. Including some recent ones! ... P.S.: But wait. Reed claims to have a recording of the incident. "[I]f you doubt my account, you're welcome to pop by Radar HQ and listen to the exchange on tape." Why make anyone pop by? Reed could podcast it, and let the world judge. He could also contact Edsall on the record. Then, I suspect, he will discover he got his interpretation wrong in exactly the way a Whippersnapper who has no history with his subjects might easily get the intepretation wrong. Then he'll stop digging and go find a state where he's old enough to drink off the whole incident! (Hahaha. Is little joke I make. Arch, yes!) ... 12:29 P.M. link

It's not the famed "personal conduct" problem--Holy Grail of Bill Richardson watchers--but it turns out that Gov. Richardson, no less than New Jersey Gov. John Corzine, has a significant speed addiction, according to Radley Balko:

In 2003, The Washington Post reported that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson routinely ordered his driver to whip down public roads at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Even after those reports, when a police officer attempted to pull over Richardson's car for speeding in 2005, the governor's driver refused to stop. ...[snip]

For his part, Richardson refused to apologize for his law-breaking. He said he'd instruct his drivers to slow down, but cited his busy schedule as governor and said he wouldn't promise not to speed again. By April 2006, his car was seen pushing 90 again.. ...

Isn't this a pretty basic violation of social equality? You'd think liberal egalitarians would be as offended as anyone at the sense "among many elected officials that their job is so important, their time so much more precious than ours and their position in public life so privileged, that they can zip by us on the road, pushing everyday folk aside so they can get to their far more important destinations."  ...

P.S.: "Zip"--there's that word again! [Also 'whip'-ed Wow.] ...

P.P.S.: Most of Balko's piece is devoted to excoriating injured N.J. Gov. Corzine for his recent nauseatingly solipsistic performance, in which (as Balko notes) he was "contrite for putting his own life at risk, but not for jeopardizing the lives of everyone else on the road" while speeding to a photo-op at more than 90 m.p.h. ... [via Instapundit2:08 A.M.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Not Only Will the Revolution Not Be Televised--It Won't Even Make the Front Page:

"The more you fail, the more money they throw at you," he said. "We're filthy rich; I don't want any more of your money. Send me quality teachers."

That's Frank Wells, principal of Locke High, a key "troubled" high school near Watts in South Central L.A.. Or maybe I should say former principal. There have been wild and significant doings at Locke. A majority of the school's teachers have signed petitions supporting the school's conversion of into a group of smaller charter schools (under the aegis of charter entrepreneur Steve Barr's Green Dot organization). The central school district bureaucracy apparently then struck back at Wells, who was "escorted off campus and relieved of his duties late Tuesday afternoon pending the outcome of a district investigation into allegations that Wells allowed teachers to leave their classrooms to collect and sign petitions." [E.A.] ... The teachers' union, Eduwonk reports, has not surprisingly reacted angrily to the subersive challenge from its own members--asking for time to present it's own "reform" ideas.** ...

I don't know exactly what to make of this story (though I'm obviously rooting for Barr). If the problem with Locke is lack of "quality teachers," then who are the teachers who are signing the petition to become part of a charter school?  Are they the good Locke teachers or the bad Locke teachers?

As usual, it's especially hard to discern exactly what's going on reading the LAT's account because the paper's tediously dull, formal, "neutral" style gets in the way of actually comprehending the forces at work. Here's the Times:

Underscoring the anxiety and anger the plan is unleashing within the district, Locke Principal Frank Wells was escorted off campus and relieved of his duties late Tuesday afternoon ... [snip]

Wells called the charges "a total fabrication," saying no classes were disrupted as teachers signed and collected signatures during non-class time. Teachers who helped collect signatures supported Wells' version of events. [E.A.]

I think the vague boldfaced words are journalistic code for something like this:

Terrified by the threat that if a big ghetto high school like Locke secedes the entire union-supported city schools bureaucracy might collapse like the East German government at the end of Lives of Others--and angered that Wells would even talk to the Green Dot charter people (in front of U.S. Education Secretary Spellings, no less)-- the school district's bureaucratic blob immediately and crudely retaliated against him by trumping up charges ...

But I'm not sure!  ... At least the Times is on the case--though its account didn't make the front page.***  And the paper is decidedly not taking the union side.  ... L.A.. Observed, which I usually rely on tell me the real story,  is uncharacteristically asleep at the switch. ...

Update: Here's Warren Olney's Which Way L.A.?  on the Locke developments. ... The L.A.T.'sreporter was subsequently blocked from entering the Locke campus, and the paper's education blog isn't happy about it. Good to see passion of any sort at the Times, even if it's in defense of special press rights--sorry, I mean "the public's right to know." [via L.A. Observed] ... Now that the Times blog is riled up, we learn that Wells' firing was a "ham-handed dumping," that the school district's press office is badly overstaffed, and that it's no

wonder ... that many of Locke's teachers have essentially issued a vote of no confidence in the status quo, saying that they'd rather be working for Steve Barr's Green Dot Charter Schools ... .

It's also no wonder readers might prefer to get their info from opinionated blogs than from the LAT print edition. You learn more on the blog! ... P.S.--Inevitable analogy: Who will be the Steve Barr/Green Dot for the Times' own stultifying, school-district-like print bureaucracy?

**--See Eduwonk for added "card check" irony! ...

***--"[W]ho do you have to decapitate to make Page 1 around here?"-- Michael Kinsley. 12:56 P.M. link

David Frum says something to his fellow Republicans that, once it's said, obviously needed saying:

I wish somebody at the Reagan Library had said: "Ronald Reagan was a great leader and a great president because he addressed the problems of his time. But we have very different problems — and we need very different answers. Here are mine."

But if one of the candidates had said that, would we have hearkened? Or would we say: The path to the nomination will be crossed by the candidate who does the best job of ticking the boxes of a coalition that probably now spans no more than 30 percent of the electorate?

Barring some calamitous mistake by the Democrats (and true, that can never be ruled out from the "war is lost" party), the GOP enters the 2008 election cycle at a serious disadvantage. If we want to win, we have to offer the American voter something fresh and compelling. I think most of us understand that. And yet at the same time we are demanding that our candidates repeat formulas and phrases from two and three decades ago.

Attention, Robert "Red Meat" Novak. ... 12:08 A.M.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

"Is [Harry] Reid Trying to Kill Immigration Reform?" RealClearPolitics seems excessively distressed by this possibility. ... Alternative theory: Pro "comprehensive" Senators, unable to actually come up with the "grand bargain" they have promised, would like it to look like Harry Reid killed immigration reform--hence their claim that he isn't giving them enough time. ... I Smell Kabuki! Except that it seems a bit early for everyone to merely be trying to stage-manage the bill's death so as to avoid blame for the killing. It's also possible that under the spur of Reid's deadline the Senate will actually pass a bill, no? Opponents should be alert for last-minute miracle "compromise" scams, like the "trigger" gimmick debunked by Mark Krikorian  here. ... The name of a recent  Feist album comes to mind! ... 4:26 P.M. link

Possibly bad idea of the day: I got a ticket a couple of years ago for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. I was so guilty. Ever since then--and after I was admonished by a cop I met at a party--I've tried to come to a total, 100% stop, with the weight of the car falling back on its haunches, before stepping on the accelerator to get moving again. When I do this I can hear and actually feel the engine sucking in vast quantities of precious refined petroleum to overcome the inertia of 3400 pounds of metal at a dead rest. Which leads to the thought: Wouldn't we save a lot of gasoline quickly and cheaply if we replaced most of our "STOP" signs with "YIELD" signs? I'm sure there is a safety argument against this, but I'd like to hear it, along with up-to-date comparisons with countries that rely on "yield" more than "stop." ... N.B.: a) You could still require that everyone slow down to under, say, 10 miles per hour. It's the first 10 miles per hour starting back up that seem so gratuitously wasteful. (Maybe "YIELD" is the wrong sign. Maybe it should say "SLOW to 10.") b) Traditionalist drivers--e.g. geezers--could still come to a complete stop and retain the right of way. c) Policemen could still raise revenue for their employers by giving lots of tickets--they would just be tickets for "failure to slow" or "failure to yield." ... 3:51 P.M. link

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bloggingheads' Baghdad Bureau files a video report on the surge that's compelling in its immediacy! ... It's relatively upbeat--embedded blogginghead Eli Lake is obviously impressed with the efforts of American soldiers--but if you listen carefully you get a more complicated picture:

a) Lake makes it clear it ain't going to be over by September. "This is going to be a mission that will take several years, if not decades."

b) Our troops must always be on the alert for possible betrayal by the Iraqi Army soldiers they work with--not because the Iraqis are secretly terrorists but because they are susceptible to bribery, threats, or sectarian or religious appeals;

c) Some neighborhoods are vastly improved (Haifa Street) while others deteriorate and will need more attention;

d) opinion among our troops as to whether the war is winnable is "mixed," according to Lake ... If we left now, he says, the Iraqi Army couldn't possibly withstand the onslaught of corrupting bribes and threats from the insurgents and terrorists. ...

Lake tells a revealing absurdist story about how difficult it was to release 79 innocent people captured in a truck once the Iraqi political and media machinery had broadcast the anti-terrorist "win." ... He casts doubt on the common view that the majority of Iraqis want us to leave. He also gives the not uncommon impression that for all its flaws the Iraqi Army is further along than the Iraqi political structure--which of course leads me to worry whether in the end security may be achieved by an Army-run government. ... Lake also puts a very impressive U.S. major on camera, forcing egghead Bob Wright to bridge the civilian-military divide. Luckily, Wright is an ex-Army brat. ... At the close, Lake promises to report from a sector where the Americans have decided to cooperate with "Al Qaeda." Either he misspoke or we are in for an interesting future report. ... 11:20 P.M.

Blogging Against Type: An argument that the rise in wealth inequality has been accompanied by

a drop in consumptive inequality, and a significant convergence in the experiences of the rich and, if not the poor, the middle

from, yes, Ezra Klein. Apologist for Bush's New Gilded Age! The cocktail party invite is in the mail. ... My anecdotal sense parallel's Klein's--with the exception that all the good $45/person once-a-week restaurants on my side of L.A. seem overnight to have become $65/person restaurants, and I can't really afford them anymore. It's as if they suddenly realized they could survive on the business of the rich, and don't need the middle. ... Worst possibility: The rich will pay extra precisely to have the middle excluded. I don't think that's what is going on at, say, Chaya Venice. But I may have to go back to do some now-tax-deductible field research. ... 6:11 P.M. link

Monday, May 7, 2007

Slow news day? Don't take it out on kf! Brian Williams just opened the Nightly News with this teaser:

Paper or plastic? What is the answer to that agonizing question in the checkout line?

6:35 P.M.

Matthew Yglesias is trying to sucker me into blogging about a "variety of education-related topics." Nice try. That's why we have Eduwonk. ... P.S.: Am I crazy or does Yglesias' post make no sense? He seems to be saying you can't care about the schools if you aren't an education blogger. ... P.P.S.: Replacing an argument about substance (teachers' unions) with an accusation about motives. All too typical of his generation! ... 5:09 P.M.

The only sexy picture ever taken ** of Maggie Gyllenhaal and they complain!

**--Yes, I'm counting Secretary. ... Especially Secretary. 4:45 P.M.

While GM dawdles and fumfaws  when it comes to producing rear-drive sedans for the U.S., Hyundai is bringing one to market. ... 10:46 P.M.

Calling All Thompsons: RCP's Tom Bevan has some poll numbers from Nevada  suggesting that, yes, there is a big opening for the candidate (from either party) who effectively takes up the 'enforcement first' position on immigration. ... P.S.: It looks like that candidate won't be Barack Obama, who celebrated Cinco de Mayo by calling it a

day for all of us to commit to comprehensive immigration reform, so we can secure our borders while offering the twelve million who are here illegally the chance to step out of the shadows ... [E.A.]

10:02 A.M.

Old CW: Not Black Enough; New CW: What's All This Black Business? Tom Maguire wonders why Jodi Kantor's front-page NYT piece on Barack Obama's pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, hasn't generated more controversy. Having now read it, I tend to agree. I'd certainly be more comfortable with a presidential nominee whose main spiritual man 1) hadn't visited Col. Qaddafi (even back in '84); 2) talked less about "oppression" and "this racist United States of America;"  3) when discussing the solution to poverty, talked more about individual achievement and less about the role of "community"--including maybe even celebrating "middleclassness" instead of using it as shorthand for selfishness; 4) in general wasn't so obsessed with race--as evidenced most negatively in talk of "white arrogance" and derogatory reference to the "Great White West." ... I suspect Rev. Wright is going to be a bigger problem for Obama's campaign than has been conventionally perceived. When Obama declared "we worship an awesome God in the blue states,"  were voters expecting this?...

P.S.: The attack on "the pursuit of 'middleclassness'" referred to by the NYT and in this Freeper post doesn't seem to appear on the church's web site. At least doesn't appear to be where bloggers once said it was. Has it been expunged? I don't know. ... Update: Several emailers point to this Web Archive site. ...

P.P.S.: Obama's views aren't necessarily his pastor's, as he points out. But Obama himself seems to have embraced the idea that poverty is "rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness"--reflecting Wright's Disturbing Tendencies #2 and #3. Do you think poverty is rooted in "individual callousness"? I don't. ...

[How does Wright's "Black Value System"  talk differ from the parallel semi-tribal sentiments you might hear, say, in a synagogue?--ed Relevant question. Further discussion required. I don't think many synagogues rail against "gentile arrogance," for one thing. But I haven't spent a lot of time in synagogues.] 2:15 A.M. link

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Elefante in the Room:On WaPo's front page, Perry Bacon Jr.  wonders why Republicans are gravitating toward Fred Thompson even though Thompson's "often sounded like" John McCain, whom "many of them seem ready to dismiss." Why, Thompson's taken "maverick" stands too! ... Hmmm. Is there one signature McCain crusade that Thompson has conspicuously not joined? Can't think of it! ... [The 'patients bill of rights'?--ed That's the issue Bacon cites. That's not it. ...] P.S.: Why have editors if they're not going to make a reporter confront the obvious bit of evidence that undermines his thesis? ... It's so much easier, I guess, just to cut any mention of i---------n from the story. ... 1:06 A.M.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Fred Thompson on the GOP Debate: "I didn't watch it. I was on a plane ..."** Thompson could have given a post-debate interview to any news organization in the country. He picked Breitbart.tv. ... Thompson teases at moving into the gaping, bi-partisan anti-amnesty void--"our unprotected borders are out of hand"--but leaves himself plenty of room. ... He also uses the word "midget" in describing the GOP field. ...

** Memo to Thompson: "I didn't watch it. I was on a plane" doesn't work as an excuse anymore! You can watch it any time. (For those who might be a bit ... um, lazy there are highlights on YouTube.) ... If you're going to be the rule-breaking, late-entering Internet candidate you should probably stop saying fogeyish things! Although I admit I find a little bit of fogeyism reassuring. ... 12:59 P.M.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Curve Has Spoken: Mark Halperin calls Mitt Romney the winner. Say no more! ... More: The AMC dissents. ("I'm sort of flabbergasted by the love Mitt's getting from the media.") I'm with her. ... 12:06 P.M.

Critic-proof? Most commentators I've seen or heard thought Rudy Giuliani did badly in Thursday night's debate (except my mother, who said he "makes a very good impression.") I didn't think Giuliani did well either. So how did he decisively win that Survey USA poll cited on The Corner? Part of the answer is that Survey USA polled only California debate watchers. A mere 45% of whom were Republican. 53% of whom were pro-choice. That's not the national Republican primary electorate. ... Still ...

Update:Mystery Pollster compares the percent who thought Giuliani "won" with his support in four previous California polls and concludes that he may have indeed lost ground, along with McCain. But note that those four previous California polls were weeks ago--weeks in which Giuliani was falling in national rankings. If you could have taken a California poll right before the debate it might not have looked very different from a poll after the debate. ... The "real winners" ... well, go to MP to learn the real winners! (Search for "lower tier.") ...

See also: Bill Bradley, who's usually an accurate debate judge and who agrees with Noonan that Rudy washed out in the crowd. ... John McIntyre, who suggests why Giuliani might still have done well enough with Republican voters (though he doesn't explain my mother). ... 2:20 A.M.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

How can Bill Clinton hope to stop the tabloids from damaging his wife's campaign with gossip about his zippy socializing with bachelor buddy Ron Burkle? Well, he can't. I mean, it's not like the tabs are under some sort of centralized control, a single management that could be bought off by a truckload of cash. Get with it! Clinton's business partner can't just waltz in and buy up all the tabloids. ...  What's that you're saying? ... [ What would Arnold do?--ed. Good point. The aptly-named tab king David Pecker may finally have hit on a solid moneymaking strategy.] 11:29 P.M.

Republican Debate: I guess I'm really not a Republican--or else Chris Matthews is an effective Dem saboteur--because the whole GOP field seemed weaker after the debate (just as the Dem field seemed stronger after its MSNBC debut).  Judging just on affect, Blink-like, I thought McCain, Ron Paul, and Hunter did well. Giuliani a bit less well. Romney appears stiff and phony compared to the other front-runners. He made me want to go re-read Catcher in the Rye. Tancredo and Huckabee failed to make much of an impact at all. Brownback seemed to be talking about 50% of the time, but I can't remember a thing he said. ... P.S.: If anybody took advantage of the opening for an anti-amnesty immigration candidate, it was Hunter (though he talked mainly about his border fence, not about the pending semi-amnesty bill). Hunter looks to be a far more effective spokesperson for that side of the debate than the genially bumbling (but not kooky!) Tancredo. ... P.P.S.: Is Sarkozy unavailable? ... 6:35 P.M. link

Whippersnappers: Why do youthful netrootsy wonks always think older Dems-who-criticize-Dems are movitated by unprincipled careerist self interest? Here, for example is Matt Yglesias, distinguishing himself from "other professional journalists":

I don't go out of my way to harp on points of disagreement with the liberal orthodoxy purely in order to bolster my credentials as an independent-minded blogger.

But what has happened, at least to some younger folks like me, is that at times this appears to have become not an honest critique, but a positioning device. The idea that it's not about the quality of the argument, but the display: you show honesty by attacking Democrats, you show independence by attacking liberals.

As someone who goes out of his way to harp on points of disagreement with the liberal orthodoxy, I don't think it's for show. (For example, Democrats aren't going to fix the schools unless they in effect bust the teachers' unions. If you make that point, is it because you want to bolster your credentials as an independent-minded blogger or because you want to fix the schools?)

I've been trying to figure out why liberal bloggers are always attack the motives of neoliberals, and I think I've made some progress. It's not that the bloggers are lazy punks who attack motives as a substitute for argument and need to constantly reassure each other of their own comparative righteousness because they feel guilty about their lockstep acquiesence in an agenda they themselves may have nagging qualms about. Not that at all! Rather, a) they are thinking of Joe Klein on a bad day, and b) there is a generation gap at work--not that they don't remember the '70s, when many of the problems of liberal orthodoxy became glaringly obvious, but that they don't remember the decade before that.

Specifically, the young'uns seem to assume that in harping on the flaws of liberal orthodoxy aging boomer journalists are betraying their original, authentic liberal impulses. So there must be a reason for this disloyalty (careerism, desire to bolster credentials on the Washington party circuit,  cash payments from Karl Rove, etc.)  But many of us aging boomers aren't betraying our original liberal principles. We are being faithful to our original New Left principles. What was the first critique of liberal orthodoxy to which I was exposed? The Port Huron Statement. Who was the original archenemy of '60s radicals? Lyndon Johnson. Where can you find a thoroughly self-loathing indictment of the entire edifice of Johnson's Great Society liberalism? In the Democratic Platform of 1972 (as Thomas Geoghegan pointed out in a famous New Republic essay, "Miami and the Seeds of Port Huron"). What constellation of doctrines are radical legal scholars--the "Crits"--trying to reveal as a fraud? "Liberal legalism."

In short, orthodox liberals were the enemy of many who grew up in the '60s. Still are! We aren't selling out in attacking traditional Democrats and their interest group supporters. We loyally pursue the ideals of our youth! Though I'm happy to take Karl Rove's money.

The  video version of this rant is here. ... 12:34 P.M. link

There's a big opening for a top-tier "anti-comprehensive" immigration candidate in the Republican presidential field as well as in the Democratic field, Ramesh Ponnuru notes. ... P.S.: Of the Big Six candidates, zero oppose semi-amnesty, apparently. That seems out of kilter. ... [But Ryan Sager says "immigration is an absolute non-issue in presidential elections ...  If there were a significant constituency prepared to vote just on immigration, Tom Tancredo would actually register in the polls.-ed. The night is young. Sager adds "Tancredo will probably be the Republicans' Mike Gravel" in tomorow's debate, "so it should at least be fun to watch"-ed. The MSM is certainly primed to portray Tancredo as a kook.  But Gravel had to act wild in the Dem debate because he was trying to out-antiwar eight other candidates who were also antiwar. Tancredo doesn't have to out-anti-comprehensive the leading GOP candidates, because they are all pro-comprehensive. He** can draw attention to himself by simply disagreeing.]

**--Update: I should say that Duncan Hunter, among others, could do this too. ... 1:16 A.M.

Excitable and Gullible: Our self-proclaimed Conservative-of-Doubt appears to have once again taken a satire seriously. [Not 100% clear--ed. It's either very serious or very subtle. Sullivan's blogging isn't usually subtle.] ... 12:03 A.M.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Sweeps Week Special: While I wasn't paying attention, Bob Wright staged a bloggingheads discussion with the New York Sun's Eli Lake, who vlogged from the Green Zone in Baghdad. It makes Lake's analysis of the "surge" less-than-abstract when he admits he doesn't feel safe. ... P.S.: Lake's even colored green. ... And he makes a good point about Petraeus. ... 10:51 P.M.

Searching for the Greatness of Chuck Hagel, Cont.: According to Robert Novak, Sen. Hagel says we've

got to get [our troops] out of [Baghdad] at least, get them out of the middle of civil war."

Because our troops are part of the problem in Iraq? Because Petraeus' "surge" mission is futile? Why?

If not, Hagel said, "then the prospects of the Republican Party are very dim next year."

Oh, well, inthat case! ...

P.S.: Helping Republicans in 2008 also seems to be the main motive driving those conservatives who are urging passage of "comprehensive immigration" reform this year. ... One more example and it will be a trend. ...

P.P.S.:--All 'Strange New Respect,'  All the Time: Novak describes Hagel as a "faithful suporter of President Bush's non-Iraq policies." Really? It seems to me that Hagel has made a career of going on Sunday morning talk shows and sniping at his own party on all sorts of issues, including non-Iraq issues. That's his schtick! I bet I could find three examples. ... 12:03 A.M. 

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