Educating Ezra Klein

A mostly political Weblog.
Aug. 7 2007 2:14 AM

Educating Ezra Klein

A left whippersnapper tutored by his readers about teachers' unions.

Educating Ezra: Whippersnapper apparatchik Ezra Klein, after smugly dismissing the motives of neolibs who criticize teachers' unions, is corrected by his own more knowledgeable readers. Sample excerpts from the comments [E.A.]:

if you're going to say this about "endemic, root problems" you should probably explain what you think they are. I agree that blaming teacher's unions is a popular hobby horse of pundits, right and left, but knowing that doesn't make all the isses around the teacher's unions simply go away -solving issues in our education system does mean some sensible reforms of union practices ....

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I will give you that teacher unions aren't the "root problem," but they are the roadblock that prevents any meaningful reform to try and cure our education system. ...

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I am a former member of a professional trade union. I am also a former member of a school board. The community was an inner-ring suburb with a student-body profile that ran from poor to upper middle class with a racial mix that cut across class lines, but with blacks concentrated on the lower end. In many ways, we were ground-zero on the achievement gap. We also faced severe budget challenges, having to cut programs and services, including many jobs, year after year.

In this context, despite my generally well-to-the-left-of-center-leanings, I came to conclude, most reluctantly, that the teacher's union was part of the problem, not the solution. This is not to absolve the elected board of education or the administration of any responsibility, but the union steadfastly refused to work with either in addressing the educational and budgetary issues. In the mind of the leadership, cooperation was capitulation. Even between negotiations, it pursued an adversarial strategy designed to undermine the authority of management which, in practice, meant it wanted administrators to fail and, by implication, setting back educational progress for the kids. ...

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Ezra, what kind of logic is that. Teacher unions don't explain bad schools: I went to a good school with unionized teachers. The problem isn't that teacher unions hurt or destroy schools; the problem is that teacher unions block reform when schools face serious problems ....

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Are the unions the root cause? No, and most sensible folks don't say they are, even confirmed teacher's union haters on the right. Unions do relatively little damage in the areas where schools do well, areas which don't really need reform in any critical way ...[snip] ...The problem is that where more extreme measures might help, unions tend to oppose such measures fiercely.

I tend to think unions do more than simply block systemic reforms--or, rather, it is core union practices (especially protections against firings for bad performance) that need systemic reforming. But Klein's commenters seem to believe these practices aren't much of a problem in affluent school districts.. ...

P.S.: When it comes to the non-affluent districts, Klein asserts that criticizing teachers' unions is worse than empty "gesturing" because

By repeatedly ascribing blame to the teacher's unions, these pundits deflect attention from the endemic, root problems, and refocus on more discrete, and demonizable, culprits. This gives conservatives an easy way out of conversations on education reform, even as they lack an actual solution.

I dunno. It seems to me the consensus "root cause," if there is one, is the culture of fatherlessness and fecklessness that characterizes "ghetto poverty." Changing that culture was what welfare reform was all about. You can argue that welfare reform wasn't the right solution (I'd disagree) but you can't say conservatives or neolib teachers' union bashers didn't propose a solution at all. ... And what's Klein's? ...

P.P.S.: Is Eric Alterman just "gesturing" too? Or does he just have a kid in public school? ... [via Edwize ] 10:27 P.M. link

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John McCain has agreed to participate in a Spanish-language (translated into English) Univision GOP presidential debate on Sept. 16. This seems like an especially dangerous occasion for a Republican trying desperately to live down his pro-legalization immigration stand--unless he's going to pull a Senorita Souljah and tell the Univision crowd to sit still for an enforcement-only bill. But it seems to me that McCain's pal Lindsey Graham is probably better at phony, post-comprehensive seat-saving anti-illegal grandstanding. ... [via Drudge] 9:33 P.M.

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Kausfiles--Solution-Oriented: In the least convincing chapter in my book, ** the one where I desperately try to come up with ways to "mix the classes" in the suburbs, I mention the idea of "microzoning"--requiriing a mix of very small units in richer communities. I didn't really know what I was talking about--e.g., whether this obvious idea was old hat or discredited. It turns out that many suburbs, in Southern California at least, are considering such a move. Some are rejecting it, some are embracing it. ... P.S.: The beauty of tiny condos is that they don't have to be subsidized--they're naturally cheap because they're so small. Nor do you need regulations to restrict them to lower-income people. That's who will naturally want to buy or rent them. .... The social-egalitarian payoff: When you're shopping at the supermarket, nobody knows whether you come from a 300 or a 3,000 square foot condo. ...

**--"Danek S. Kaus" had nothing to do with this book. That's Amazon's mistake. ... [via MayorSam] 5:03 A.M.

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"Married at 24": Is it that unusual to be married at age 24? ("Crazy in Love or just crazy?") I don't think so. ... Update: It's not. The median age of first marriage for women is 25. .... MSN is out of touch with the Real America! ... 3:47 P.M.

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HuffPo  nails Hillary on Kos dis: Hillary's blogspinners--and top YearlyKos executives!--cover up that she'd rather schmooze with Ron Perelman and Jessica Seinfeld than a roomful of wristbanded Kossacks. ... Update: Eric Alterman complains:

How silly is Mickey Kaus for linking to this? Was Hillary supposed to cancel a longstanding commitment to hundreds of people? Are the candidates supposed to run their campaigns without money and without public financing? In any case, this piece is completely wrong. Hillary had plenty of time, on her private plane to be in Chicago and to be at this fundraiser. Hey guys, she actually did both. So it's wrong on facts, as well as silly and naïve in its analysis, but hey who cares? I hear Edwards got a haircut. ...

1) Yes, Hillary has to have fundraisers. But then she should be honest about it--she shouldn't try to hide the cause of her "scheduling conflict" from the Kos crowd, treating them like children who can be conned. That's the basic complaint; 2) Yes, she was at the Kos convention and at the fundraiser, but she didn't apparently have time for the advertised "breakout" session after the YearlyKos candidates' forum. When Kossacks kicked up a fuss, a session was apparently hastily scheduled for before the forum3) These things are scheduled long in advance, as Alterman says. If she'd wanted to prevent a fundraiser/Kos conflict, she could have; 4) Just because candidates' have to raise money doesn't mean the standard critique of fatcat contributions--that the candidate then owes them-- doesn't apply. And there are plenty of fatcats I'd rather have the Clintons indebted to than Ron Perelman. ... P.S.: Did Alterman really fork over $1,000 for cocktails at Perelman's? $4,600? Or did they invite him for free because of his easygoing personality and publicity-generating potential? ....  12:41 P.M. link

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Crankiest blogginghead of the week award goes to Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, who gets snip-snippy toward the end of this exchange with Conn Carroll. Some blame  all the coffee. But Stoller seemed to be in a discernably pissy mood from the beginning, even though he struggles manfully to be cordial, which leads me to suspect a deeper external cause. ... 12:18 A.M.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Bedless Blogger in Topless Hara: Luke Ford really doesn't have a bed. ... Note to Luke: Don't get one now! It's your trademark. ... P.S.: Also, now know how Ford broke the L.A. mayoral marital scandal--he got the story from L.A. Daily News reporter Tony Castro, whose editors had wimped out and spiked his report.  ("They didn't think the story qualified as much more than glorified gossip. ... ") I thought only L.A. Times editors did that. ... 2:33 P.M.

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Arianna--Dramatic Before & After Photos: Getting glammer. Was it the move to the West or the move to the left? You make the call. ... 11:11 A.M.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Unless his veto is overridden, embattled New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer has seemingly saved his state's welfare reform from the Good Jobs Fallacy--the idea that it makes sense to tell welfare recipients to hold out for high-paying jobs ("aerospace engineers" and "chemists" are two of the professions mentioned)--before they have to go to work. Keeping recipients on the dole while they "train" for jobs they never get is a time-tested way of ... well, keeping recipients on the dole.  ...   New York Daily News' Bill Hammond makes the arguments against the bill; the New York Sun points out that under the current take-any-old-job philosophy, child poverty rates have dropped along with welfare caseloads. ... 3:54 P.M.

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To get the real anti-Laurie side of the Laurie David/Larry David story--not the sex part, but hypocrisy angle-- you have to go to the web site of the Martha's Vineyard Times and read the posts from "Jackie." ...  There is a heartfelt haiku:

Built with size 12 shoes,
Trophy homes mean dirty feet:
Our carbon footprints.

P.S.: A pre-divorce defense of the Davids may be found  here (scroll down). ...P.P.S.: Haiku is attributed to "Hal". ... 1:00 A.M.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Nobody covers baseball like kausfiles: Last night I went to Dodger Stadium and saw Barry Bonds fail to run on a pop-fly that fell in for what should have been a double. Not inspiring. But a friend had some sound PR advice for Bonds. Retire now!Tonight. Before you break Aaron's record. That way you get good press for the rest of your life as the man who would have broken the record but chose not to. The way things are going, if you break the record you're going to get basically bad press for the rest of your life. ... Backfill: Several readers point out this idea has already been masticated by sports fans. See, e.g.., this Sally Jenkins column  two weeks ago. ...  4:59 P.M. link

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It would indeed be an "earthquake"--a GOP-friendly earthquake--if Californians  passed an initiative awarding its electoral votes by Congressional district rather than "winner take all." But they won't pass it. At least I don't see how it would have a prayer of passing in such a Democratic state. ... [via Influence Peddler4:52 P.M.

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Mirthala Salinas: Twisting slowly, slowly? ... 4:40 P.M.

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McCain's Hope--Turn His Back on the Press: A couple of weeks ago, Thomas Edsall wrote a piece on HuffiPo titled "Strategist's Agree: McCain's Only Option is to Turn His Back on Bush."   According to Edsall

The only place left for McCain is to be the anti-Bush Republican.

Being the anti-Bush Republican would involve a) attacking Republicans for corruption and overspending, while b) arguing that in Iraq "Bush not only failed to win a winnable war, but that conditions in Iraq are so terrible that withdrawal is now the only reasonable alternative."

Hmm. Sounds as if McCain's only hope, according to the Huffington Post's analyst, is to start sounding a lot like Arianna Huffington. I'm not sure this is a promising way to win a Republican primary, even if the other Republicans split the Republican vote. And there's an alternative to turning against Bush. It's this: Turning against the media.

Republican primary voters don't much like the media, after all. They see reporters as hopelessly biased against the Iraq war and biased against Bush. Reporters were also hopelessly biased in favor of McCain--one reason Republican primary voters didn't much like him either. Or, rather, reporters were biased in his favor until he backed the war and embraced Bush. Now they're piling on the contempt and scorn--which gives McCain a double opportunity: he can bash the hated liberal press while casting himself as the embattled, principled defender of Republican policies even if it costs him his elite Washington friends.

McCain has a "rebellious persona," according to Edsall. I don't write good McCain, but what if he said something rebellious like this ...

"I know the liberal media. Heck, I was the darling of the liberal media. They're my friends, many of them. I like them. But I think I was only their friend as long as they thought I would undermine the President. When I defended the president, when I refused to surrender in Iraq and supported the surge that is only now bearing fruit--they turned on me like a pack of jackals. That's the way it is.

I could do no wrong before--when I blew my stack they said I was passionate, when I disagreed with them they said I was admirably principled. Now when I disagree with them they just say I'm wrong, I'm stubborn, I've lost. It's August and their idea of in-depth reporting is coming up with new ways of asking me when I'm going to give up my campaign. I think they're about to call in Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton to negotiate my withdrawal.

You know what? I don't care what they think. I like good press. I admit. But they can take a hike. I've made mistakes in this campaign--lots--but I'm going to say what I think. I'm not going to accept defeat in Iraq when victory is possible. And if Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos don't like it, that's life. They're two votes. And they're ... there's a word for it. They're Democrats. I'm a Republican. I don't expect the Democratic media to love me. It was fun while it lasted. But the Democratic media isn't going to pick the Republican nominee."

I'm not saying I agree with these sentiments. After "comprehensive immigration reform" I'm certainly not for McCain. I'm saying the tactic has a good chance of working. McCain isn't running for the editorial board of the Huffington Post (yet). And in a Republican primary, media-bashing seems to hold out more promise than Iraq-bashing and Bush-bashing? ....

Wouldn't strategists agree? ...

P.S.: This is not my idea. I got it from a McCain-friendly friend. ...

P.P.S.: Emailer S.S. notes that "if there's anything the press loves more than a straight-talker, it's someone who bites the media's hand." So bashing the press would also get McCain ... good press! It's not win-win. It's win-win-win! ... 3:57 A.M. link

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

MEREDITH, N.H. (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Monday accused Democrats of favoring a controlling "nanny government" as he continued his bashing of the rival party.

Hmm. What mayor was it again who installed those hectoring recordings in New York cabs that kept telling you to buckle your seat belt? I forget his name. I think it's the same guy who cracked down on jaywalkers and street peddlers. ... 2:42 A.M. link

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Tom Snyder, R.I.P.: When my book came out in the early 1990s, I went on a highly ... er, selective media tour that included a stop at the Cahuenga Pass studio of Tom Snyder's radio show. For whatever reasons--Snyder understood what I was trying to do with the book, or he drew easily on his life experiences, or he was a warm personality or just a good questioner--it was the best interview I did. After a disastrous stillborn conversation with All Things Considered, it was heartening to know I could get on someone 's wavelength. Even if Snyder was faking it--especially if he was faking it--I'm grateful. But he didn't seem to be. ... 2:34  P.M.

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Doing Pinch's Job**: Emailer X has an idea for replacing the hated TimesSelect paywall while making Pinch Sulzberger's New York Times some extra money. X notes--as have many others-- that with TimesSelect Sulzberger is perversely giving away the paper's unique, expensive-to-create product (timely, authoritative reporting) while attempting to charge for its easily-imitated product (opinion). Instead, X says,

[H]ere is a proposal for The New York Times (and all other publications that have invested heavily in news gathering): charge for early access to your stories. I'm sitting here before bed on the West Coast, as I do most nights, reading tomorrow's paper and looking to get an early jump on the news. And I'm quite taken with the lead story about FBI Director Mueller's contradiction of Attorney General Gonazalez's Senate testimony. In fact, I might even pay for the privilege of doing so. Imagine if, instead of posting the full stories for all web users, before 6 a.m. Eastern (and 3 a.m. Pacific) -- though the best specific times are debatable -- only a stub like the one that now appears for non-TimesSelect members who click a link to an Op-Ed column appeared for non-members who browsed to stories that would appear in the next day's papers. The Times could become more aggressive about posting stories to the web as soon as they were ready the night they're closed -- but only fully viewable to those who paid a fee to be a member of this reverse form of TimesSelect.

... There are all sorts of people--not least, public relations executives, members of the media, bloggers who like to link to big news as soon as they can--who would probably see fit to fork over more than what TimesSelect now charges to get a few hours' jump on the next day's news. [E.A.]

Seems promising to me. If, as has been argued, TimesSelect is not really about creating a new revenue stream but rather about hanging on to high-paying print subscribers by offering them special Web access--well, print subscribers could get the early access for free with their subscriptions, just as they now get TimesSelect. .... The only problem I see is that Times reporters might see the service as offering competitors a chance to read their stories and match them before those stories are available to the general Web public. But the gist of Times reporters scoops will still be available instantly to all in short, "stub" form.  NYT reporters will still get credit within the profession, the scoops will (presumably) still get mentioned on Drudge and discussed in blogs-- and everyone will be able to read them soon enough. ... If the paper really wants to surprise the competition it could hold any huge scoops until the actual, printed paper comes out--or just put them outside the "early access" pay wall in selected instances. ...

**--I know Emailer X. Emailer X is much smarter than Pinch Sulzberger. Trust me. ... 2:00 A.M. list

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For seven years, Democrats have faced a radical administration that operates in bad faith. Yet there was the Democratic Leadership Council, still arguing that teachers unions endanger the republic.

Hmm. Yes, Bush's Iraq war and his general approach to terrorism are more important than education. But I still think education is kind of important! Even more important maybe than, say, Bush's Social Security semi-privatization (misguided as it was). And I still think you can't reform public education without somehow beating back the teachers' unions. ... How about this--the DLC can stop talking about the teachers' unions when the Democratic candidates stop talking about No Child Left Behind. Deal? If one approach to reforming schools important enough to mention then the other is, no? ... P.S.: Here's a useful primer  on what "Adequate Yearly Progress" means under NCLB, co-written by Eduwonk, who asks:

[D]id you know that in only five states do more than 8 in 10 students in any schools have to pass the state test* in order for the school to meet the goal? The median targets nationally are closer to 5 or 6 students in 10 having to pass the state test for the school to meet the state goal. Important context when all the hand wringing starts in August about how unrealistic this all is... [E.A.]

1:05 A.M. link

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

We don't kill no widows in these parts: Note to NYT's Andrew Adam Newman: That's  my quote, buddy--which explains why Steven den Beste, to whom you attribute it,  had those two little marks  on either end.... P.S. This is the classic sort of error usually introduced by an editor trying to save space. Print editors do have to save space. But web editors don't. That's a major, unremarked virtue of blogs over newspapers when it comes to the newspaper's alleged unique selling proposition: accuracy. In fact, the need to fit copy to a limited space is a powerful error-creating machine in both dailies and magazines. Harried print editors compress, and get it wrong. Or they fool around trying to simplify attribution and get it wrong. Or they guiltlessly edit quotes within quotation marks and (by definition) get them wrong. ... In cyberspace,, if it takes one more line to get it right, you can take one more line. I haven't killed a widow in so long I've forgotten what it feels like. ... [You're just pissed off they gave your quote to den Beste, but to avoid seeming petty you had to dress it up with a Larger Point--ed Worked out well, I thought.]

P.S.--He'll be tasked with launching the new "Upward Failure" section: At least the LAT didn't just promote the unpopular editor who  seems to have gratuitously killed a perfectly good Patrick Goldstein column  last week, a column that might have upset the paper's beleaguered business side! Oh, wait. Meet Managing Editor Until Zell, John Montorio! ... 9:41 P.M. link

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

I'm beginning to think Bill Richardson possesses some sort of Jedi-mind trick capability, which would explain not only why he's been able to convince vicious dictators to do his bidding but also why he continues to rise in the polls despite some sub par debate performances and an incoherent appearance on Meet the Press that might have derailed other candidates.

Richardson's latest knee-slapper was his assertion yesterday that Iowa is one of the Top 10 states in the country at risk of a terrorist attack.

Give him credit: It's not easy to invent a new way to pander to Iowans. ... But it's worth it because of the brilliant candidate-picking judgment the state's caucusers have shown over the years. ... Update: Iowa ex-governor Tom Vilsack criticizes Obama for criticizing Clinton. "It's not the Iowa way." The Iowa Way! What's the Iowa Way again? Oh, right--never be mean to another Democrat in a way that might reveal his or her flaws or ability to respond under fire! That way you can make an uninformed and disastrous gut choice at the last minute. ... 12:56 P.M.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Another party I'm not invited to. And you aren't either: Vlogging fogey lashes out at ur-whippersnapper Ezra Klein, upon learning that Klein has created a private Townhouse-like email group where liberal bloggers and editors hash out issues before they let the public in on the discussion. ... P.S.: Yes, I have private email discussions too, and there are probably some advantages in having these talks in front of a group instead of one-on-one. (If, say, Sidney Blumenthal emails five leftish bloggers privately, all five might think they have an exclusive. If they compare notes, they won't.). But the innovative virtue of Web journalism, I've always thought, is that it makes the back and forth process of argument and investigation relatively transparent to everyone. If the Klein Klub succeeds, isn't there a threat that it will a) compromise independence, in part because participants will always worry if they are using something that should be kept private and will feel they owe the other members; b) will encourage groupthink, as everyone works out the tacit party line before presenting it to their sheeple-like readers; c) encourage propgandism (see (b)); and d) become the place where the real conversation happens, a conversation the non-elite public isn't privy to. ... P.P.S.: Who's in the Klein Klub? Have they published a list of names? The sheeple demand to know at least that! ... P.P.P.S.: Chait, I know you're in it. Who else? ... 3:55 P.M. link

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Did Lindsay Lohan really say,  "I can't get in trouble. I'm a celebrity. I can do whatever the f**k I want." It seems too ... pure. 3:19 P.M.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Anchor Baby Power": From La Voz de Aztlan. "These babies are destined to transform America. ... La Voz de Aztlan believes that the number is approximately 500,000 'Anchor Babies' born every year." ... Update: Readers from all sides suggest La Voz de Aztlan is a wacky fringe site. There is, for example, this odious page. But sometimes wacky fringe sites say things that are worth bringing into the open. ... More: The non-wacky pro-border-control Center for Immigration Studies estimates there were 383,000 births to illegal-alien mothers in 2002
constituting 9.5 percent of all births in the country. ... 6:21 P.M.

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Conglomeration + Womanizing = Trouble! Will L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa hold up NBC-Universal's giant $3 billion development plan if it doesn't reinstate his honey at its Telemundo subsidiary? If NBC does take care of Mirthala Salinas, does that mean Villaraigosa owes the company? At last, some irresponsible bloggish speculation from the Los Angeles Times. ... P.S.: Much more irresponsible speculation here  and here. ... Update: Womanizing = Traffic Congestion! Bill Bradley notes that while Villaraigosa was distracted by the Mirthala scandal, the state legislature cut $336 million in transit funds "earmarked for Los Angeles and imperiling the long-promised Expo Line to the Westside." Since the Mayor is planning a big increase in housing density in the city, lack of a rail line should make the traffic jams even more brutal than they currently are. [via LAO ] ... 5:56 P.M.

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Missouri's Secretary of State is getting cute, mucking around with the wording of the proposed anti-preference Missouri Civil Rights Initiative to make it seem as unappealing as possible, John Rosenberg charges. ...Update: Press release  from the anti-preference camp. ... 5:29 P.M.

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Margaret Carlson: "In fact, Obama is the only candidate who gets under Clinton's skin. ..." [via HuffPo] 3:43 P.M.

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Did Giuliani cut crime--or did the removal of lead from gasoline? A discussion, including why the last sentence of this WaPo piece gives the game away. ... 3:27 P.M.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Univision In the Tank? Looks like it. Eric Longabardi has what appear to be emails giving L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa the interview questions he's going to be asked days in advance. Maybe the title of the program, "Villaraigosa a su lado" ("Villaraigosa on your side") was a tipoff. ... Looks like another juicy story the L.A. Times didn't really want to get. They're in the business of killing stories  these days, not publishing them, apparently.  ... [Via Luke Ford.] .... 1:37 P.M. link

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Luke Ford is promising big things. ... 4:46 P.M.

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First the LAT "wikitorial," now the historic CNN/YouTube historic debate ... Victims of the same obscene image? .... Or is the CNN story a hoax? I, for one, ain't checking it out. I hear these images are very disturbing. But CNN might want to take a look. ... Update: Hoax, says this site. ... 4:37 P.M.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Historic Historic CNN YouTube Historic Debate II: Ryan Sager has some afterthoughts. I agree that the Biden response to the gun-toting You-Tuber was revealing--it showed Biden lacks even moderately calibrated snap judgment--and it was revealing in a way that a) wouldn't have happened with a non-YouTube debate, in which the questioner most likely wouldn't have gotten past security, let alone the screeners, and b) reflected Biden's alleged fatal flaw (or one of his several alleged fatal flaws), namely his cringe-making, unhinged spontaneous reactions. (See also: "I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do"). Sager goes off on the politics of the "gaffe":

Biden's obnoxious response when he insulted the gun owner toward the end as being nuts. It wasn't so much a personal gaffe as a moment that projected an ugly image of the Democratic Party as out of touch with rural voters and gun owners — big problems the party has been trying to overcome. He got a huge cheer from the audience, but that just compounded the problem.

P.S.: I don't agree with Sager that Hillary may have "put that term ["liberal"] entirely in the past." ... 8:40 P.M. link

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Historic Historic CNN YouTube Debate--Hello, Florida! Am I crazy or did Barack Obama just get suckered into saying that as President within a year he'd personally meet with Fidel Castro? .... Update: He did. And, bizarrely, his camp is not saying he misspoke. More: There's some backtracking here.  ... 5:23 P.M.

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The doors of Tao Las Vegas are open to rich and poor alike:  Here's Noah Tepperberg, owner of the nightclub at Tao Las Vegas, the "highest grossing independent restaurant" in the U.S.:

"We sell stratification, but we have an entry point for everyone — from retirees to 21-year-olds who have saved up to blow it out on their first trip to Vegas." [E.A.]

Are giant stratification-selling night clubs like Tao a threat to social equality? My tentative answer: not much. 1) It's only stratification for a night; 2) People don't take it that seriously; 3) Tepperberg does get some social equality points for having everyone under the same roof and for having a roof big enough to include them. ... The velvet rope outside any ordinary New York club seems more obnoxious. ... 1:53 A.M.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

I always thought of L.A.'s Earl Ofari Hutchinson as an establishment-friendly, coalition-preserving PC type. I guess I was wrong-- here he is on Mirthala Salinas, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's girlfriend, who may or may not lose her job next week:

Salinas is as much a victim of Tony's rapacious political and media egoism as she is a victim of her heart. Politics is a dirty business and the dirt and the business doesn't stop at the bedroom door. If a politician can lie, cheat and manipulate to scurry up the political career ladder, that same politician can lie, cheat and manipulate love. [E.A.]

P.S.: Some of the most rapacious and egoistic pols are the best leaders, of course. The question for voters regarding Villaraigosa is whether there's enough there there to justify tolerating his character flaws. (See this rare good George Skelton column.) Before we can make that judgment, we need a daily paper that actually wants to report what those flaws are. ... [ via L.A. Observed10:50 P.M.

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Eat Your Heart Out, Greg Gutfeld: At last, the story on Laurie David's break-up. (The print edition has photos.) ... Looks like gossip columnist Cindy Adams was on target, although the last commenter on this site beat her to it. ... 10:25 P.M.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

The LAT finally puts out another Villaraigosa-Salinas story--which focuses like a laser on the least interesting aspect of the scandal, the journalistic conflict of interest! Yes, that's why Angelenos are upset--because a Telemundo reporter might have compromised her objectivity. Someone call CJR! Mayor Sam's  Joseph Mailander  asks:

[W]hy is the future of the woman always the way a blown affair really pans out? The Times is really letting the man skate here by shifting all the scrutiny to the gal.

But, of course, the tedious conflict-of-interest angle is the only one to obtain the grudging stuff-shirt approval of Consigliere Rutten! ... What about the mayor's callous behavior toward his wife? (In New York City, that was enough to get Rudy Giuliani in trouble.)  And did a lobbying firm executive really sell the mayor's honey a condo? Was it on the up and up or does someone now owe someone a favor? Was the mayor lying when he tried to stop the P.R. bleeding by denying he'd been fooling around with anyone other than Salinas? How stupid does he think voters are? Are California's top Latino pols--including but not necessarily limited to  ex-Salinas-paramours such as Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez--some kind of secret male bonding-through-womanizing fraternity and what does that mean for the state? ... These are all more significant civic issues than the Agony of Telemundo. But the Times shouldn't need them to justify covering the main event here. Why aren't its readers allowed to simply want to know whom their mayor has been seeing? We know it's not his wife. ...

Update: Ford points out that, as a profile of Salinas, the LAT effort is dully uncritical. "She's an interesting, intelligent and scandalous woman. It takes The Los Angeles Times to produce a boring article on her." ... 1:50 P.M. link

Friday, July 20, 2007

Luke Ford on the sort of Villaraigosa story the L.A. Times might be doing  if it was, you know, a newspaper. ... 7:11 P.M.

"It's the equivalent of the networks broadcasting the Kennedy and Nixon debate in 1960," said [Kathleen Hall] Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania ... [E.A.]

Historic! In the same WaPo piece, CNN defends its decision to choose the video questions itself:

"As much as I wish we could use the voting method of YouTube, I just don't think it's realistic," [CNN Washington bureau chief David] Bohrman said. If the number of views determined the videos asked at the debate, then candidates could study the most-viewed videos and game the system, Bohrman explained.

This seems like a problem CNN could easily handle if it really wanted to. For example, the network could commit itself to running, say, 20 of the top 50 video questions, chosen at random. If a candidate could study all potential top-50 videos without going insane, maybe he or she should be president. ...

P.S.:  It's also possible, as WaPo notes, to devise ways for viewers to rate videos that don't rely on "most-viewed" statistics, which probably skew too far toward funny-but-silly videos . But it wouldn't be the end of the world if they had to answer one asking "if Arnold Schwarzenegger is a cyborg." ...

P.P.S.: I was booked last week for a CNN/YouTube pre-debate hype special today, but yesterday the producer called, said "we need to trim a bit," and un-booked me. It's not at all uncommon to get bounced from shows, so for all I know they needed to trim a bit. ... 2:55 A.M. link

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hmm. I'm an air-paranoid, and maybe the experts have learned something about asbestos exposure since 1989, but it was troubling to come across this quote from a NYT story about the asbestos-spewing steam pipe explosion in Gramercy Park  in that year:

Even one day's exposure to fibers in the air can increase the risk of lung cancer, said Dr. Irving Selikoff of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and ''one week of exposure is enough to more than double the lung cancer risk.''

Are we sure that, "For any commuters caught in Wednesday's blast, though, the health risk was essentially zero"? ...  3:27 P.M.

Will TimesSelect Go Jane? Is the infamous NYT TimesSelect paywall about to disappear? kf hears rumblings that the paper is about to abandon the whole misconceived project in which it has blocked unpaid Web access to its op-ed columnists. ... P.S.: The Times claims fewer than 225,000 customers pay the $49.95  TimesSelect fee, up less than 100,000 from what the paper was claiming in November, 2005. More get the service through their regular subscriptions. Meanwhile, the Times could use the ad revenue that would come from increasing the readership of the columnists (by making them free). And the columnists would like to have the readers. ... All this was quite evident two years ago when Pinch Sulzberger embarked on this folly, of course. ....

Update: Denials don't get much weaker than NYT spokesperson Catherine Mathis' to the NY Post's Keith Kelly:

"While TimesSelect is very popular and we have certainly met and exceeded our goals since it began in 2005, we continue to evaluate the best approach to our business."   

Note: That's not a 'non-denial denial.' There is no denial. It's a non-non-denial-denial non-denial. ... 3:23 P.M. link

E.U.Z. (Editor Until Zell): My impression is that John Montorio's tenure as features editor at the L.A. Times has not been considered a rousing success.The relaunched West Magazine comes in for particular criticism. Is Times #1 E.U.Z.Jim O'Shea really about to promote Montorio to Managing Editor, the paper's #2? That's what I hear. ... At least pompous media critic Tim Rutten isn't Montorio's consigliere! Oh, wait. ... 3:44 A.M.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I don't get Rufus Wainwright. What's he whining about? 8:47 P.M.

Someone failed to quit the McCain campaign yesterday. 6:30 P.M.

Karen Hicks must be some kind of "field operative." She's getting paid $66,000 a quarter from Hillary's campaign, according to Politico's Ben Smith. That's a rate of $266,000 a year. ... P.S.: But she's no Laurel Touby. ...  1:42 P.M.

Childstats.gov Buries the Lede: The rate of teenage childbearing for blacks has been cut by more than half since its peak in 1991. It's now substantially lower than the teen birthrate for Hispanics. Though I'd like to credit welfare reform, causality here is complicated--new birth control technologies (e.g. Norplant) and fear of AIDS are big potential factors. And nationwide welfare reform didn't happen until 1996. ...

If you want to find evidence of a sociological impact for welfare reform, look at this chart.  It shows that the percentage of black children living with two married parents jumped from 33 percent in 1996 to 38 percent in 2002 (when the Census changed the definition of "black").  Meanwhile, the percentage of black children living with "mother only" fell from 53 percent to 48 percent. ... Those figures still aren't very promising--the percentage of white children living with two married parents is 76 (and for Hispanics it's 66). Still, the improvement for blacks is significant. Why isn't welfare reform to blame? If a single mother is going to have to work, it makes sense to team up with another breadwinner. ...

P.P.S.: If greater condom use is (as the AP suggests) a big explanation for the decline in black teen births, doesn't this mean that the unavailability of condoms (or lack of education in their use, etc.) is no longer even a remotely plausible explanation for the still-low percentage of black two parent families? Obviously, the problem isn't lack of access to birth control technology--black teens are using it. Presumably they don't forget about it when they become young adults. .. 2:53 A.M.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Luke Ford, Eric Longabardi, and Ana Garcia keep the VillarSalinas scandal alive--a skill the L.A. Times has never really learned. 2:22 A.M.

Mort is Deadly: Gawker's Alex Balk on New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, profiled in the current New Yorker:

It's telling that Zuckerman only seems interesting in the pages of the New York Post, which has a vested interest in making its rival look bad.

1:53 A.M. link

Monday, July 16, 2007

Is CNN blowing it? Next Monday, CNN will  hold the first of two "CNN/YouTube" debates. It "will feature video questions submitted to YouTube which will be broadcast and answered" by the Democratic candidates for president.

"YouTube enables voters and candidates to communicate in a way that simply was not possible during the last election," said Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube. ...

"These debates take the bold step of embracing the ever-increasing role of the Internet in politics," Jim Walton, CNN Worldwide president.

Yeah, yeah. But the CNN debate, as currently planned, completely misses what's so innovative and subversive about YouTube--namely the ability of average citizens to put political messages before millions of potential voters without the approval of MSM gatekeepers. Who decided that "Obama Girl" would be a huge hit? Nobody. Or, rather, the cumulative decisions of hundreds of thousands of You Tube users. The choice was largely out of the hands of those who traditionally decide what voters get to hear about candidates: editors of daily newspapers, producers of nightly newscasts, professional campaign consultants. The phenomenon rightly alarms the consultants, at least, who now have to worry that a popular amateur video could rise up and bite them at any moment. (See Edwards, John, "Feeling Pretty.") It's all too ... uncontrolled.

So who will decide which 30-second YouTube "video questions" get broadcast on Monday?

CNN will produce the televised events and will select the questions used in the debates. [E.A.]

Kind of misses the point, doesn't it? Instead of being spontaneously and uncontrollably selected by Web democracy, the YouTube questions will be safely filtered through the predictable, respectable sensibilities of CNN editors. They'll be not much different from the queries traditionally sent to the front of the room on index cards--just in video form. Sure, the questions will be asked by "voters from around the country," but debates have been accepting (filtered) email questions for years, no?

You can view the three video questions CNN's editors have already chosen as samples. They're safe and easily answered queries about discrete issues--glorified index cards.** It looks like a long evening.

It's not too late for CNN to save its "unprecedented" format. The debate is a week away. Post all the competing videos on YouTube tomorrow afternoon in a way that easily lets viewers pick the most popular, and commit CNN to broadcast, say, 20 questions from the top 40 submissions at random. No gatekeeping. (There are presumably technical tricks to filter out ballot-box-stuffing by various campaigns, some of which are already trying to gin up submissions. If that can't be done, go with the viewer's selections anyway. Let's see the stuff the ballot-box-stuffers stuff. The ballot-stuffing competition would itself help build excitement.)

A no-gatekeeper format really would be unprecedented, and will terrify the candidates. Politicians know the sorts of questions CNN editors pick. They can handle those questions. But who knows what an army of partisan geeks in their basements will select? Even if the questions aren't penetrating in themselves, we'll get to see the candidates react to unpredictable events, which will be revealing even if the questions themselves are stupid.

Anderson Cooper can always ask follow-up questions and calm things down. He's good at that.

**--One of the sample videos is mildly obnoxious in a way that would make a CNN editor think it has "attitude." Not a virtue. ... 2:45 P.M. link

kf--Still Solution-Oriented! PoliPundit reports on an email from Roy Beck of Numbers USA on a possible incremental, enforcement-only immigration initiative:

I can tell you from the last six days of our meetings with several Democratic Members of the House, with a number of their Republican counterparts, with fellow advocacy groups and with top Senate GOP staffers, there is very strong growing sentiment that it is time to remove the jobs magnet for illegal immigration.

The overwhelming favorite appears to be to make the "Basic Pilot" electronic workplace verification system mandatory for all businesses with contracts with the federal government.

Basic Pilot has problems--it catches illegal workers using fake Social Security numbers, but not necessarily illegal workers who've falsely adopted the identity of real people with real Social Security numbers. Swift meatpacking company participates in Basic Pilot, yet when federal authorities raided Swift plants last year  about 10 percent of the work force was arrested  on immigration violations. 

But all employee-verification schemes seem to have holes in them--even a "biometric" national I.D. wouldn't necessarily stop someone from falsely obtaining a biometric card by claiming they were someone else (and producing fake papers to that effect). You would think a) Basic Pilot at least raises the cost of falsely applying for work, thereby discouraging it and weakening the "jobs magnet" for illegals; and b) if enough illegal job applicants had to resort to identity theft, it would impact so many people that mechanisms would be created to inhibit it. (Why not routinely contact people whose Social Security number might have been stolen, as flagged by a computer the same way a computer flags possible phony credit card purchses--for example, because two people are using the same number, or because it's being used in what looks like the wrong city, etc.?) Requiring the Basic Pilot system for all new hires seems a reasonable--and bipartisan--place to start. ... . 

P.S.: I don't know enough about Beck to know whether his email, in an attempt to rev up his troops, exaggerates the prospects for passing a Basic Pilot mandate. I do know his organization was highly effective in this year's immgration debate. Robert Pear says so. ...

P.P.S.: Note the sneering quote about Beck from pro-comprehensive lobbyist Frank Sharry, whose clock Beck cleaned:

"Roy Beck takes people who are upset about illegal immigration for different reasons, including hostility to Latino immigrants, and disciplines them so their message is based on policy rather than race-based arguments or xenophobia."

Translation: 'My opponents are bigots.' That tactic worked so well against welfare reform. And against Ward Connerly's anti-race-preference initiatives. I urge Sharry to stick with it. ... [via Krikorian].  2:29 A.M.

Limits of Judicial Government, Part XVIII: Since the L.A. Police Department has been operating under a "consent decree" requiring investigation of offical use of force, the number of shootings by the cops has perversely gone up, says Robert C.J. Parry in the L.A. Daily News.  Parry's explanation--that veteran, experienced officers have fled the department, leaving nervous rookies--seems plausible, but isn't exactly nailed down. ... [via Mayor Sam1:46 A.M.

Note to Arianna: Does McCain's support of the Iraq war really account for his "cratering" ranking among Republican primary voters? May I suggest that another "I" issue played a more significant role. ... 12:43 A.M.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Army of Farinas: I wouldn't claim that the political ads made by unofficial lone amateur YouTube propagandists are better than the ads made by professionals.** But unofficial designs for the rumored Ferrari Dino from lone, amateur auto stylists--one Turkish, one Portuguese--are almost certainly better than any design Ferrari will actually produce, judging from its recent products. ... [via Autoblog ]

**--This doesn't mean they don't have an impact. See this Pew survey. ... 1:53 A.M. link

Thursday, July 12, 2007

L.A. Times-- Scooped again? ... 10:15 P.M.

Army of Shrums Update: On reflection, homemade YouTube ads seem more potentially subversive than I originally thought. I try to explain here. ... Not only do these amateur ads seem to evade the campaign finance laws, they seem to undermine the whole assumption of those laws, which is that candidates with more money enjoy a proportional advantage. No they won't--at least if they're typically undone by whichever catchy,15-second spot cooked up by a teenager on blogspot gains the most viral exposure (by being re-shown on the TV news in addition to being viewed on the Web). The outcome of a true YouTube election will be more random--but, arguably, more substance-related. ... To Be Sure: I'm not saying we're already past the time when races get determined by what Bob Shrum and Roger Ailes, or their successors, spend donors' millions to tell voters. But that's the direction, no? ... 7:44 P.M.

I realized what's wrong with celebrated L.A. Times auto columnist Dan Neil when I came to the point in a recent road test where he describes the Scion tC--a depressing mash of mainstream design cliches, the Maison de La Casa House of cars--as "beautifully styled." Decide for yourself. Or take it from me: he has schlocky taste. ... 3:31 P.M.

The Strange Case of the Diamond Dildo: It's just like porn-centric lone L..A. blogger Luke Ford, writing about new arrival David Beckham, to recklessly report:

On another occasion, while Victoria was expecting their third child, Beckham spent $1.8 million for a diamond-encrusted sex toy with matching 16-carat diamond necklace. [E.A.]

Too good to check--and bloggers don't have to check, do they? It turns out Mrs. Beckham has now denied the tidbit:

"It isn't true," Victoria said, her voice calm and measured. "We do buy each other nice things," she admitted, but some things get exaggerated. "I don't have a diamond-encrusted vibrator."

Indeed, a quick NEXIS search brings up a lot of stories citing a man who was selling $1.8 million diamond-encrusted vibrators speculating that Beckham was thinking about buying one. Anyone with any professional journalistic experience would view with suspicion subsequent reports that might have Beckham actually purchasing the thing.

Maybe pompous L.A.Times media critic Tim Rutten had a point about those "gossip sheets, whether online or on slick paper, that continue to proliferate like informational vermin." The Pulitzer-winning Times would never . ... Hello? What? Really? The bogus Becks vibrator story didn't appear in Luke Ford's blog at all? It appeared ...well,  here. ... P.S.: And it hasn't been corrected. ... [via Steve Smith] 1:15 A.M.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

According to L.A. Observed, Mayor Villaraigosa appears to have drawn a line around Mirthala Salinas and put his credibility, if not his career, on it:

At today's photo op du jour, he flatly denied that there have been any other women in his recent past — "a definitive, absolute no."

The mayor's language is echoed in this local ABC TV report. The LAT, with its traditional flair for the telling detail, truncates it to "no." ... 6:13 P.M.

He Helped Build Pottersville: The only actor in our family--my grandmother's cousin, Charles Lane--passed away Monday at the age of 102. He was a great character who had a fantastic career as a character actor, although the two characters did not always coincide. (Unlike some of his screen and stage personalities, he was a kind and non-unconsciously funny man.)  I guess he couldn't live forever.--but he made it close! Here's a nice LAT obituary. ... As Kevin Roderick notes, Charlie lived through the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. ... 12:30 A.M.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Only the most respectable, noble-minded political analysts get to call people who disagree with them 'cowards.' ... 7:26 P.M.

You Connect the Dots! I tried this before, and it all came crashing down. But now there are two more dots!

Dot 1: Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta report in their  recent book that Hillary Clinton personally

listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack. The tape contained discussions of another woman who might surface with allegations about an affair with Bill. Bill's supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions.

Dot 2: Tina Brown's new  Diana Chroniclescontains this passage, supporting reports that Princess Di was thinking of marrying U.S. tycoon Ted Forstmann as part of a possible presidential ticket:

Diana built an escape fantasy around Forstmann for a time. "It's a true story," he told me, "that Diana had the idea that we should get married, that I should run for president and she would be First Lady."

Dot 3: Forstmann was in fact seriously mentioned as a Republican opponent for Hillary in the 2000 N.Y. Senate race.

Dot 4: Both Diana (according to Tina Brown) and Forstmann (according to the New York Daily News **)thought they were being bugged.

Dot 5: A British paper reported that Diana and Forstmann and Diana were bugged by some American outfit during the Clinton administration, although the official Lord Stevens inquiry failed to include this allegation despite press predictions that it would. (See also this account, which doesn't mention Forstmann but does claim Diana was bugged by Americans.)

Emphasis added.

**--Dec 12, 2006 Daily News story not online, but it's on NEXIS. 7:03 P.M. link

Is that vaunted "virtual fence" on the border vulnerable to "denial of service" attacksYes, it is at the moment. Influence Peddler comments. ... 2:19 P.M.

The lid is off: L.A.'s mayor faces some N.Y. tabloid-style questioning at a news conference. The L.A. Times reporter who didn't get the story doesn't know quite what to make of this new state of affairs--I detect a mild sneering tone! Luke Ford sees a "beautiful synchronicity." ... I think Angelenos may be actually getting interested in local politics for once, which will give us better government in the long run. Special interests (e.g., unions, developers) have less power when people are actually paying attention. [What will happen if all the pols in power are no longer womanizers, etc.?--ed Not a serious possibility.] ... 1:43 P.M.

Bob Wright diavlogs with my brother Steve on bloggingheads.tv (about Scooter Libby and Barry Bonds, among others) and at the end tries to extract dirt from him on me. Ha! After one lucky question, Wright gets a schooling in the concept of omerta. ... 1:37 A.M.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wasn't Jacqueline Bouvier kind of a "trophy wife"?  Just asking! ... [via Powerline] 11:28 P.M.

Web 1, Downie 0? I was hoping to be able to violate at least one of Slate-owner WaPo's "Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web"--but it turns out that's not easy to do. Take Principle #7:

We recognize and support the central role of opinion, personality and reader-generated content on the Web. But reporters and editors should not express personal opinions unless they would be allowed in the newspaper, such as in criticism or columns.

What opinions would not "be allowed in ... criticism or columns"?** This is a decisively permissive standard, no? A reporter could blog "Bush lied, people died" or "Hillary scares the daylights out of me." Len Downie could even tell Web readers for whom he might vote if he slipped up and actually thought about voting. ... P.S.: In fact, #7 doesn't sit very comfortably alongside Downie's earlier monastic ban  on activities that might "seem" to compromise a reporter's ability to report fairly. If you denounce Obama, op-ed style, mightn't that "seem" to be compromising to many readers?  ... [via Romenesko] 11:18 P.M.

The New York Times is for withdrawal  of U.S. troops from most of Iraq, except maybe the Kurdish north. Even the promising Anbar-type initiatives--which seem to require an aggressive U.S. military presence--are apparently to be abandoned. The Times admits the result of the withdrawal will "most likely" be chaos, including "further ethnic cleansing, even genocide." But it still prefers withdrawal. Jules Crittenden finds this morally curious, and so do I. ... I could be convinced that withdrawal is justified because the ensuing burst of sectarian killing will be short, followed by relative stability--preferable, in the long run, to continued occupation. I could be convinced we should abandon the goal of a unitary Iraqi state and focus on some sort of engineered partition. I hope I couldn't be convinced that we should abandon Iraqis to "genocide" just because the resulting deaths can be blamed on Bush. Does that mean they don't count? . ...

P.S.: Do you think there's really a threat that Bush will be able to sell the idea that the U.S. military is to blame  for an Iraq disaster if it runs out of troops next spring?  I don't. At this point Bush couldn't sell the nation on coming in out of the rain, let alone a wacky argument that he's not responsible for the military. ... Ponnuru  has same reaction. ...

P.P.S.: This seems like the next card for Bush to play--a Sunni-initiated "no confidence" vote in the Iraqi parliament against al-Maliki. If it succeeds, "surge" skeptics wouldn't have Nuri to kick around any more. Juan Cole suggests the vote would be close.  ... The obvious question Cole doesn't get to is whether whoever replaces Maliki would be willing to make the fabled 'political compromises' (on oil revenues, de-Baathification, etc.) and whether those compromises really can curb sectarian violence at this point. Note that al-Sadr would be part of the anti-Maliki coalition. ...

Backfill: Omar of Iraq the Model is relatively pro-surge--at least he was on June 27, saying "the results so far have been astounding." He focuses mainly on the turn against al Qaeda, acknowledging that the "internal struggle for power will not end by pacifying al-Qaeda or the militias." Still ...  9:14 P.M. link

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Novak buries the lede  on a formerly hapless GOP freshman Senator:

Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republican senators seeking re-election in 2008, has made a comeback with successful fund-raising and a boost in approval ratings.

Dole's private polls put her favorability level at 59 percent, compared with President Bush's 42 percent. Republican insiders attribute that mostly to her opposing the immigration bill backed by Bush. [E.A.]

Note: That's not a comeback just among Republican primary voters. It's a comeback among all voters. ... P.S.: Yes, Dole's obviously trying to scare away challengers by leaking those private polls to Novak. I bet Lindsey Graham wishes he could do that. ... 11:55 P.M. link

"Don't Get Caught Again": Lone blogger Luke Ford, and not the L.A. Times, continues to be where you go go to find out what's really happening in the Villarsalinas sex scandal. Ford notes that the LAT, despite signs of catch-up tabloid feistiness earlier in the week, has delivered its traditional scandal-killing thumbsucker  right on schedule. Riveting headline: "Villaraigosa affair may not be one to remember." Why, "Democratic operative" Chris Lehane thinks he may survive! Ford comments:

It's stupid to write all these analysis pieces saying the mayor can overcome this scandal until we know how many more scandals are coming the pike on this score. I predict several.

He suggests some leads. ... 

P.S.: The traditional  pompous Tim Rutten piece--attacking "the gossip sheets ... that continue to proliferate like informational vermin"**--arrives right on cue as well. L.A.'s Pulitzer-winning paper is back to running at peak efficiency.

Bonus pomposity: Rutten writes--

Villaraigosa's personal connection with Salinas is a private issue that legitimately concerns only the two of them and their families. No one else has a moral or rhetorical right to an opinion on that aspect of their conduct. [E.A.]

Why the hell not?

**-- ... like the ones that broke the story the Times helped Villaraigosa try to keep a lid on. Rutten also more or less admits the Times helped cover up the marital trouble of the previous L.A. mayor, James Hahn, even though it clearly affected his performance (when he insisted on going home to look after his kids!). ... 10:54 P.M.

The Whole Souljah? Does Obama get Souljah points for endorsing a form of "merit pay" in a speech to the big teachers' union, the National Education Association? Or did he demonstrate only that he reads the New York Times  ("Long Reviled, Merit Pay Gains Among Teachers"). ... Backfill: Eduwonk seems mildly impressed, adding:

But, I'd still really like to see someone make the true and courageous point that while hardly perfect, No Child Left Behind isn't nearly as horrific as it's made out to be.  That's post-partisan in today's climate.

Also: Is "merit pay" for good teachers nearly as important as making it easier to get rid of mediocre teachers? (You want to get hissed, tell that to the NEA.) In the successful organizations I've worked for, the positive incentives (in the form of unequal pay) weren't nearly as powerful as disincentives (in the form of fear that you might get fired if you didn't do your part). For one thing, negative incentives are highly compatible with teamwork.  They get the whole organization going, including people who'll never be hot enough to get performance bonuses. They don't breed envy and backstabbing. ... 10:21 P.M. link

Prediction! The Chris Matthews Show put on an airless, non-urgent, pre-taped, vacation special--featuring airless, non-urgent predictions. In that spirit, here's mine: With the immigration semi-amnesty bill shelved, the economy growing, and various states acting to crack down on undocumented workers, wages for the unskilled-- Sen. Webb's "dispossessed workers at the bottom"--will begin to rise noticeably (maybe not at a late-90s pace, but certainly much faster than they've been rising in the past few months, which have failed to live up to the hopes of January, including my own). Also: The NYT editorial board will refuse to note the connection.  ... Casual Empricism Corner: I'm seeing "Help Wanted" signs everywhere I go in L.A.. Not just at In-N-Out! ...

Backfill: "Why Filling Summer Jobs is Tougher and Tougher,"WSJ, July 6 ... 9:40 P.M. link

Friday, July 6, 2007

Somehow I missed this anti-comprehensive You Tube ad  from June 26. I'm not sure I buy the premise--that Lindsey Graham has to be somehow paid to be self-righteous and wrong-headed. But the ad's main image sticks with you. ... 1:42 A.M.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More Mirthala: Telemundo finally has someone everybody wants to see! So of course they ... take her off the air. Estupido MSM. ... What's wrong with an hour Mirthala Salinas Special? They could add bilingual subtitles for the millions of new Telemundo viewers. ... But no. They'd rather please Howie Kurtz. (Or maybe it's a respectability play: "See! We're as much of a doomed hidebound media organization as all the doomed hidebound English-language media organizations!")  [via L.A. Observed] 11:19 P.M.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Update--Nobody Covers the News Like Telemundo! This may be a first: If you watch the third local news video linked on this LAT page ** ("Mirthala Salinas reports Villaraigosa's separation") you'll see the news of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's separation from his wife announced last month on Telemundo by the reporter/anchorwoman with whom he has been having an affair.***

**--The LAT is now at least playing catch-up after having blown the story, beaten by both a lone blogger and its less stuffy rival, the Daily News. ...

***--Villaraigosa didn't say exactly when his relationship with the Telemundo reporter "evolved" from "friendship," but it seems obvious from the Daily News account that it's been highly evolved for some time (i.e., since months before the June separation and Salinas' Telemundo report about it ). ...

More: When Villaraigosa announced his marital trouble last month, the hapless LAT, in its traditional life-draining thumbsucker, listed Gary Hart as one of the politicians who emerged from personal scandal "with their careers largely intact, or enhanced." I'm sure ex-Sen. Hart, now a prestigious HuffPo blogger, will be happy to learn this. ... 7:12 P.M link

Keeping Up With .... the Bush Immigration Debacle!

1) "What's their alternative?" House Republicans are planning to push improvements in border security, including in the "system that verifies the identities of those applying for employment. But (as predicted!) some House Democrats are still talking about taking on the whole comprehensive furball (i.e. inclusing semi-amnesty for illegals already here). It's not over. [See also Influence Peddler ] ...

2) The NYT cites   the following quote as an example of the "heated rhetoric" that alienates Latino voters from Republicans:

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a leading opponent of the measure, at one point in the debate, said, "The bill would provide amnesty and a path to citizenship for people who broke into our country by running past the National Guard."

Vicious! They're going to have to do better than that if they're going to paint opponents as anti-Hispanic bigots. (Heck, I can do better than that.) ... P.S.: It seems to me that the people proclaiming most loudly that the Republicans were anti-Hispanic were named Linda Chavez, John McCain, George Bush and Mel Martinez, playing the "nativist" card in a desperate attempt to save their bill. Did they do their party any favors? ...

3) During the immigration debate, the number of self-identified Republicans increased for the first time in 2007, reports Rasmussen:

The immigration debate appears to have helped the Republican Party while hurting the President and other supporters of the "comprehensive" reform legislation. Prior to the debate, 47% of voters trusted Democrats more on the immigration issue. Following the failure of the Senate bill, just 39% trust the Democrats more on the issue. In fact, among unaffiliated voters, Republicans are now trusted more than the Democrats on immigration. The only other issue where the GOP can make that claim is national security.

 5:35 P.M. link

Looks like eccentric lone blogger Luke Ford was more trustworthy than L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. (Midwife to BS: The LAT!) ... Update:LAObserved has ongoing coverage. And Ford is still dishing. ... 4:32 P.M. link

Giuliani raises $15 million and he's doing great. McCain raises $11.5 million and he's on MSM Deathwatch? I don't get it. ... So McCain spent a lot and now has to cut back. McCain's problem isn't money. It's immigration, and the way he presented his position with a toxic combination of self-righteousness and dissembling. At least he's not running on "character"! ... Oh wait.3:48 P.M.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Bob Shrum gave a non-canned talk at a local party for his book two weekends ago: One of the mildly contrarian things he said--that it was crazy to write Obama off--is now CW, thanks to the intervening release of this quarter's fundraising totals. Another resonant point isn't yet CW, though--he argued that all the Democratic health care plans are too complicated, that whoever is the Dem candidate should just say he or she plans to let everyone join Medicare and leave it at that. People know Medicare. It's hard to attack Medicare as "socialized medicine." ... P.S.: I've never quite understood why this politically appealing position is fatally flawed on policy grounds. (If there are problems with Medicare, fix them! Surely they need to be fixed even if the program doesn't get extended to younger Americans.) ... 2:01 A.M. link

Paranoid's Corner:The Wall Street Journal's instinctive assumption that some monied group must have been sponsoring those anti-comprehensive YouTube ads ("Just who sponsors Hot Air's ad, and other similar ads popping up across the Internet, is unclear") initially seemed a hilarious, telling, near-watershed instance of MSM cluelessness! As if YouTube videos need sponsors. But then I was reminded of the controversy earlier this year over Section 202 of the lobbying reform bill--which some alleged would have required professional bloggers who try to drum up grassroots outrage to register--and the WSJ inquiry seemed a bit less funny and a bit more ominous. ... You don't think Trent Lott would love to throw bureaucratic wrenches into the grassroots machinery that disrupted his bipartisan comprehensive immigration plans? ...

P.S.: For some not-quite-convincing explanations of why Section 202 was nothing to worry about, see Prof. Bainbridge and The Register. [Why not-quite-convincing?-ed. The bill by its terms applied to professional bloggers paid a substantial amount of money to drum up support for a client. But the "client" could apparently have been an employer, like Slate or Pajamas Media. Anyway, unpaid citizen activists aren't the only ones with First Amendment rights.  ... When they came for the bloggers making more than $25,000 a quarter, I said nothing! .... ] 1:23 A.M. link

Mike Hype: I'm normally a sucker for independent third party candidates--the theory that the two party system conspires to prevent the public from electing the centrists they want has always seemed right to me. And I like Michael Bloomberg. So why does his nascent anti-partisan independent presidential bid seem so out of synch with the times? ... 12:38 A.M. link

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Burkle Buys Penthouse, Innocent Brides Suffer: Bill Clinton's zippy bachelor buddy continues to leave a trail of   tears  in his wake. ... 10:24 P.M.

Toyota tries to be evil  ... 8:22 P.M.

Friday, June 29, 2007

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Kausfiles Special Focus Zone: As a reader aid, items that do not concern "comprehensive" immigration reform will be specially marked off in color. You may choose to skip these items. ...  P.S.:Alert reader S.L. urged me to re-post that Senate contact list and keep it at the top of the page as the Senate considers the immigration bill. Good idea. Here it is. Public journalism! ...

*********

Bridging the Divide: Amid all the talk about the need to transcend partisan politics in order to solve our nation's problems, it's easy to forget that the coalition opposing Bush's immigration solution contained (as emailer X notes) both:

progressive Democrats who believe tightening up the labor supply is the best way to improve the fortunes of the lower and middle classes and ... enforcement-first Republicans who are appalled to think that the border is not secure. 

Bipartisanship! Indeed, the coalition opposing the bill was slightly more bipartisan than the coalition favoring the bill.  In the crucial cloture vote, only 26% of the 46 Senators in the minority voting for the bill were Republicans, while fully 30% of the Senators in the majority voting against the bill were Democrats (or Vermont Socialists). It was Dems and GOPs reaching across party lines to find a bipartisan solution to the problem of a legacy-mad President's ill-considered immigration scheme! Somebody tell Michael Bloomberg. ...

Update: Sen. Schumer lashes out at Tester, Webb, McCaskill!... 3:07 A.M. link

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cloture Fails: 46-53. The Grand Bargain doesn't even get a majority. ... I was going to predict that the House of Representatives would take up the immigration issue anyway--actually, I still do (they'll claim to be taking a different approach). But this seems like a humiliating defeat for Bush and the self-styled, MSM-idolized Grand Bargainers. ...

P.S.: Fifteen Dems (plus Sanders) vote against cloture, making it unclear if Sen. Reid has achieved what seemed to be his unadvertised dream: A failed bill he could blame on the Republicans. ...

P.P.S.: Did Brownback vote for it before he voted against it? I thought I heard the clerk record him as a "yes" initially. ...

Update: Given the bill's failure to win a majority, isn't it a bit much for WaPo's Weisman  to harp on the

"opponents' dilatory tactics and parliamentary maneuvers that have dogged the bill for weeks"

and the

"small group of Republican senators who used every parliamentary maneuver they could find to stymie progress on the bill over the past month."

Couldn't you just as well say, in hindsight, that it was a small group in the Senate leadership using every parliamentary maneuver they could find to delay the Senate's rejection of the Grand Bargain? ... Update: The same goes for Harry Reid's complaint that "the big winner today was obstruction." When a majority blocks a minority, is that "obstruction"? [But a majority was against cloture only because of last minute votes by Senators who saw the bill going down and didn't wanted to risk defeat in the next election--ed Isn't that my point?]

Obvious winner in today's vote: John McCain, who can now try to take the issue "off the table" in his presidential campaign.

Obvious loser: Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News Channel took a pro-comprehensive dive. It turns out conservatives don't need Big Murdoch Media to make themselves heard any more than netroots left needs the "liberal MSM." ... 8:28 A.M. link

Comprehensive Tenterhooks!The second cloture vote on the immigration bill--which could either kill it or send it to likely passage--happens this morning. It looks close. Proponents need 60 votes. That means opponents need a net switch of five votes, after losing the first cloture vote 64-35. Momentum appears to be against the bill, but the decision rests with a large block of undecideds who may be susceptible to White House arm-twisting. It's also possible pro-comprehensives may be able to draw on "hidden" supporters--Senators who voted against cloture last time but can be persuaded to flip and vote for the bill if they're needed.

National Review Online focuses attention on Webb and Ensign (potential swing "no" votes) and Bayh (a potential flip to "yes").

And here's the list of Senators the bill's proponents seem to be worried about, according to Noam Askew:

Senator Bingaman (D-NM) Senator Bayh (D-IN) Senator Domenici (R-NM) Senator Coleman (R-MN) Senator Brownback (R-KS) Senator Bennett (R-UT) Senator Gregg (R-NH) Senator Bond (R-MO) Senator Murkowski (R-AK) Senator Stevens (R-AK) [E.A.]

Some news sources report that Domenici--plus Burr, Bond and Nelson--are planning to switch to "no."

Cochran and Hatch and Stabenow are mentioned as potential flips the other way.

See also: Hawkins, Malkin. ...

P.S.: Emailer B.T. has some phone advice for citizen-lobbyists:

Besides calling the senate office, folks should call the state chair and county chair of the senator's party.  ...  It would let the senator know that folks know how to do more than get riled up over an issue.  Someone who tracks down his county chairman is a lot more likely to be a primary voter ...

There's not much time left, though. ... 2:50 A.M. link

"[I]f an amendment within the pigeon is not defeated," it can screw everything up. Who knew? [E.A.]1:16 A.M.

Smells like Iraq Reconstruction: That "virtual fence" Bush boasts about is running into trouble.

But Project 28 missed its first deadline for becoming operational about two weeks ago, and concerns are growing in Congress that the program could have problems similar to the Coast Guard's Deepwater fleet modernization...

Luckily, the "Z-visa" legalization provisions in the immigration bill don't depend on any of this fancy, high-tech border enforcement stuff actually working! 12:20 A.M. link

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Update--Grand Bargaineer on the Run: 1) They're parodying Sen. Lindsey Graham's newfound last-minute  symbolic toughness  on immigration over at The Corner. ... 2) More than one source says that on Hannity's radio show Sen. Voinovich seemed genuinely rattled by the volume of phone calls to his offices by opponents of the immigration bill. That may or may not make him more likely to oppose the bill. But it's not going unnoticed. Too late to stop now. ... 3) More on the bogosity of the "touchback" gimmick--and other tough-seeming aspects of Sen. Graham's suddenly essential amendment-- here. ... 4) Malkin provides diligent running commentary. Senator Ensign appears to be a focus of concern. ... He seems to be playing some sort of game with his two second-order amendments here. (If they pass, will he have an excuse to vote "yes.") ...  3:41 A.M.

What They Understand: Hot Air has a video plan of action  for Republicans who want to do something more than phone or email their Senators. It's simple but could be high-impact. ...

P.S.: The ad says,

"Money seems to be the one thing our politicians understand."

That's a good shot at the pro-comprehensive business lobbyists. But actually, the prospect of political defeat is the thing politicians most understand. (The money helps them avoid the defeat.) That means the most effective thing that could be done to pressure pro-comprehensive Senators is to start organizing actual campaigns against them--primary challenges, but also general election challenges to Republicans from anti-comprehensive Dems, and vice-versa. It's easy to organize on the Web, and by organizing now you might get your Senator to change his or her vote. Once the vote is cast it's too late. ...

P.P.S.: According to WaPo, Sen. Lindsey Graham now insists he won't vote for an immigration bill that doesn't add a (phony) "touchback" provision forcing illegals to leave the country briefly in order to get their Z visas.**  This is a hilariously fresh get-tough posture for Graham, whose precious Grand Bargain somehow failed to include this essential element. But it's also a sign of fear. What's he scared of? Maybe this. ...

Update: Mark Krikorian suggested I'm skeptical  of the Hot Air plan (to demand refunds of RNC contributions). I'm not. It's a good idea. It's legitimate--but it could really screw them up! I just think the politician's ur-fear--fear of losing office--could also be triggered quickly by relatively easy, Web-based proto-campaigns. If Graham's worried, others can be made to worry. ...

**--See National Review on why the "touchback" is a fool-the-yahoos fraud.

1:12 A.M. link

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

18 Months Later: Freed from the need to write to fit an arbitrary printed page, Politico's Roger Simon takes enough space to explain why the Bush/Kennedy/Kyl Grand Bargain's crucial worksite enforcment provisions won't work. Especially ludicrous is the bill's confident command that the new employment verification system be ready in 18 months:

The bill requires that within 18 months of enactment all newly hired employees must be checked by something called the Electronic Eligibility Verification System (EEVS), and within three years every employer in the United States must check every employee in the United States using it.

But there are 150 million people in the U.S. workforce and some 60 million people who change jobs every year.

And this system -- which does not currently exist and has to be up and running in 18 months and completed in three years -- is going to make sure everyone in the workforce is here legally? Not a chance.

By the end of the piece it's very hard not to think of the Bush administration's equally confident predictions about rebuilding Iraq. ... See also: Sen. Cornyn on the jam-up at DHS. ...

Kf Dobbsian take: Wouldn't it make sense to get an employment verification scheme up and running (for new hires) before we trigger another wave of illegals** by proclaiming a sweeping semi-amnesty? Simon makes it pretty clear that as the bill stands the worksite system won't be ready by the time that new wave of undocumented jobseekers hits.

As I think I've said before, I'm not worried about the 12 million already here. I'm worried about the next 12 million. And the next. ...

**--Which message do you think will be heard louder in impoverished Latin America:

a) "Amnesty! They've legalized almost everyone who made it to El Norte!" or

b) "[T]he bill includes $4.4 billion in immediate additional funding for ... border security and worksite enforcement efforts"?

11:36 P.M. link

Fast Work: Harry Reid's massive "clay pigeon" amendment package is online and searchable at N.Z. Bear. ... 6:16 P.M.

Not so Fast, Yahoos! I actually had the following thought but then dismissed it as too paranoid. But now it seems just paranoid enough. From alert emailer D.R.:

What if the Democratic leadership allowed a couple of pro-Amnesty Senators (since they had a comfortable margin on the first vote and could afford it) to vote 'No' on the first cloture vote on the understanding that they would switch back for the second, all-important cloture vote.

Then net result of this would be to convince anti-amnesty forces that we have a five vote deficit to make up when, in fact, we may need seven and misalign our efforts. ...

Right. Maybe some of the "no" votes on today's first cloture motion were Kabuki too. That would apply to GOPs as well as Dems--Askew speculates that Cochran was given permission by the leadership to avoid obloquy  by voting "no" (perhaps on the condition that he'll vote "yes" next time if he's really needed). The upshot is that five switched votes might not be enough. [The Corner prints this same email ]

It's easy to identify five or six "yes" voters who might plausibly switch: Burr, Brownback, Ensign, Nelson, Pryor, Webb. Getting seven or eight to switch--if, say, Bayh or Hatch or Cochran were phony "nos" and switch back--would be much tougher. ... 4:35 P.M. link

Kabuki Kabuki? The Senate has voted 64-35 to take up the immigration bill. There is a second, now-crucial, cloture vote to cut off debate later this week. Emailer J.S. makes a good point:

I think the first cloture vote is now itself possibly becoming a sort of kabuki for some senators, like Burr and Bond, as they will vote to proceed today to impress the leadership and the Grand Bargainers, in hopes of keeping their relationships decent with them for future favors.  These guys can afford, they calculate, to vote for cloture today, knowing they can still filibuster it on the second cloture vote.  (I think the message has been gotten by most that a traditional kabuki move of voting for cloture and against the bill won't work anymore.)

So this raises an absolutely critical question: what will happen between a vote to proceed today and the next cloture vote?  The outrage and pressure, mainly from the right, will have to triple.  If people like Burr, Bond, McConnell, etc. vote to proceed today and then don't get absolutely swamped with constituent outrage, their reaction will be "that wasn't so bad, I can do it again." [E.A.]

That seems right, although with some potential second-vote switchers--like Webb--it may be important to be extra-polite about and not get their back up. Cold, polite, implacable outrage! ... If a net five Senators switch between today and the second vote, the bill is (again) dead. That's a much more plausible scenario in this case than it usually is, given all the maneuvering and posturing and pressure. Burr is a potential switcher (if his amendment is defeated) in addition to Webb. And Brownback, if he wants to do well in Iowa. ... The fate of various amendments will give lots of Senators lots of excuses to switch. ... The pro-bill forces lost Hatch and Stabenow and Bayh  on the first cloture vote, which may become significant.  10:09 A.M. link

Looks easy!  A simple, effective anti-Graham ad focusing on the no-back-taxes issue. Like a Johnny Cash song--makes its point and gets out. Except it's a Willie Nelson song. ... 9:54 A.M.

Apply Directly to Forehead: HotAir's latest makes the point that "A vote for cloture is a vote for amnesty" using the  mesmerizing mantra-like approach  of those HeadOn commercials. They worked! ... 9:13 A.M.

Monday, June 25, 2007

*** Caution: Contains Residual Non-Immigration Content***

Now this is more like it: A slew of actual Shrumesque attack ads. They're short. They aren't going for viral Web hits. They are trying to demonstrate the price Senators may have to pay if they choose two-faced Kabuki (e.g., for cloture, against the bill) over forthright opposition. ... "John McCain--Weak on Immigration" wins the best eerily effective soundtrack category. ... Freedom Folks' anti-Lott spot  seems almost as damaging as the professionally-done Numbers USA hit. There appears to be no shortage of scary-looking Lott photos. ...

P.S.:Blogometer  worries about YouTubish attacks in the 2008 campaign and warns that "candidates must assume some responsibility/control for the more notorious unauthorized efforts."

Otherwise we should expect a flurry of web based Swiftboat style attacks as consequential primaries draw close.

I'd say we should expect that flurry whether the candidates assume responsibility or not.  How are the candidates going to stop them? Democracy is messy and it will get messier. ... Plus, candidates couldn't assume "control" of the ads without running into campaign finance complications, right? (The ads would no longer be "independent" expenditures, and would have to be paid for with "hard" money, I think.) 11:40 P.M.

*********

National Review on the state of play on Tuesday's first cloture vote: "Stopping amnesty is entirely within the power of senators who oppose it." Those seven are: Bond, Brownback, Burr, Cochran, Coleman, Ensign, Webb. All they have to do is vote against cloture. ... Blocking something you claim to be against. Would that be too simple for the Senate? Do they have to try to have it both ways? ... Update:Wash Times reports on an overlapping set of swing votes. ... 11:17 P.M.

Hot Air's latest attack ad is more of a call to arms, or to phones. It has a terrible beat and you can't dance to it (you'll see why). But it's effective. ... 10:50 P.M.

The Grand Bargaineers have resorted to adding the Hutchison "touchback" requirement the "Z-visa" requirements  in the immigration bill. This is almost certainly a total fraud: 1) The requirement itself is a fraud; and 2) even so, it will be removed by the House of Representatives. It's being added now to provide cover for timid Republicans. But I think it's a sign of weakness that the bill's managers had to resort to this ruse--they'd rather not have to do it. (It annoys Latino groups and its phoniness may embarrass even the Bargaineers. Plus Republicans have an excuse for voting no if the bill comes back from conference without it.) ... P.S.: Kate O'Beirne had speculated that Sen. Burr had been demanding "touchback."  Has he now been bought off for cloture? Both clotures? If so, he's a cheap date. ... P.P.S.: Burr's contact info. .. 10:35 P.M.

Another citizen admaker rises to the challenge with a hit on Lindsey Graham  ("Come Home Lindsey") ... It's witty. You can dance to it. But it's not mean enough! Lindsey Graham isn't going to "come home" on immigration. And when he doesn't change his position, do you want him to be able to "come home" by stressing his conservatism on other issues--which is what he's counting on? Or do you want to defeat him? ... Remember: The idea is to do the sort of short, vicious poll-draining 30 second spot that a challenger might run--in order to give waffling Senators a taste of what they will be in for during their next campaigns. Don't be Webby! Be TV. ... 5:35 P.M.

Does 'No' have Mo? Sen. Webb may vote against cloture, a constituent reports. That would be significant. ... Update: His office says he "has not disclosed" which way he will vote. ... 12:26 P.M.

I keep thinking: Would President Clinton have pushed a grandiose immigration deal like the one the Senate's about to vote on? I don't think so, even if lobbies within his party wanted it. Clinton didn't try to force-feed overleveraged risky world-historical schemes the way Bush does. Welfare reform, Clinton's big domestic achievement, was wildly popular. ... There is one way for Senators to stop the madness! Tomorrow's cloture vote is the equivalent of giving them a chance to prevent the Iraq War before it started. Wouldn't many of them like to have that vote back? ... 12:15 P.M.

Prof. Borjas makes a calm, sensible case against the Senate immigration bill. ... 11:46 A.M.

That was fast: Malkin has produced a future anti-Graham spot. It's good! And the tag line worked against Senor Sasser. [Correction: It didn't. But it resonates!] ... It needs that ominous-sounding negative-ad announcer guy, though. ... 11:02 A.M.

Jim Geraghty is now posting updates on tomorrow's big initial cloture vote.

[B]ill opponents should not forgive a vote to bring it back to the floor, I'm told. They're within a few votes of killing the deal before it comes back; why take the chance on a later vote?

See also Askew. ... It looks close. Askew's source reports:

I've heard that they only have 55 votes on this, and no one wants to be the 58th or 59th vote for amnesty.

That is, nobody wants to be the 59th vote if there is not going to be a 60th vote. Why go out on a limb in a losing cause? That's why, as Askew notes, the perception of momentum is important to both sides. ... 10:21 A.M.

Kos Against the P.O.S.!  DailyKos blogger Trapper John says "it's a bill that progressives ought to vigorously oppose." Especially useful is his refutation of the comprehensivist fiction that there is a fixed number of jobs "Americans won't do"--so that importing legal workers to do them would take "pressure off the border"  the same way releasing water from a dam relieves pressure on the dam. In fact, it doesn't seem inconceivable that allowing in hundreds of thousands of low-wage "guest workers" could increase the demand for illegals and the "pressure" on the border.  At the least, the demand isn't fixed, once declining wages are factored in:

[B]y creating a steady flow of temporary workers with no ability to stay in the country for more than a couple years, and no practical ability to fight for better wages, the number of jobs that "Americans won't do" will grow dramatically.

10:44 A.M.

Voters are still against the Senate immigration bill--50-22% in Rasmussen's survey. Support for the bill is actually down a point since the poll taken before Bush mounted his latest public campaign. Opposition crosses party and ideological lines. ...  If Dianne Feinstein ruled the blogosphere, I guess I'd have to pretend the unpopularity of the bill was still an open question. "Fairness"! ... 10:13 A.M.

Reminder--Comprehensive Dissembling: Tim Russert mis-summarized the provisions of the immigration bill at the beginning of his show on Sunday--and not on a trivial issue.  He said the Z-visa legalization plan was "contingent on increased border security" measures. But the "probationary" Z-visa is available immediately--no waiting for "increased border security." And the "probationary" Z-visa is what legalizes former illegals, allowing them to work and travel in the U.S.. [See video around 2:00] ... I guess these are the sort of complex nuances that can only be communicated on talk radio! ... 1:12 A.M. link

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