Political Bet of the Year

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 1 2007 9:09 PM

Bet of the Year

A grim possibility looms in Iowa.

Just Linking: A taste of things to come. Ron Burkle can buy all the tabs in the world, but he can't buy the Web. The question, I guess, is whether this sort of stuff will feed back into the non-tab MSM. ... [Thanks to alert reader  S.B.6:42 P.M.

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Now Playing in Plano: Will the current wave of Iraq/Afghan War films--most of them anti--fizzle at the box office? I've gotten into trouble  with this kind of prediction, but I say yes! These films were made partly for sincere political reasons and they will lose people money. Valley Of Elah--a well-made, well-acted, depressing and dispiriting movie--certainly doesn't seem to be posting impressive numbers.  ...

P.S.: I'd missed the LAT "dust-up" on this topic between David Ehrenstein and Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart's entries tend to validate the "if they can talk, they can write" rule of journalistic recruitment--he's a great unstoppable talker, and sure enough he's a entertainingly scornful South Park right pundit, like Ann Coulter on a good day but with a dada Hollybrat twist. See, for ex., his "Acceptance Speech." ...

P.P.S.: My biggest problem with Hollywood is the dominance of emotional old-style liberals. My second biggest problem with Hollywood is that the opposition to these liberals tends to be equally passionate people, like Breitbart or Roger Simon, who see themselves as warriors in a generational battle against radical Islam that to my mind will be won most efficiently--or defused, which is the same thing--if prosecuted coolly and calmly, with appropriate attention to "blowback." Conservatives in Hollywood are an oppressed minority; Centrist Dems in Hollywood are a nonexistent minority. (OK, I know one.) ... 5:39 P.M. 

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Almost everybody likes Elizabeth Edwards. But when she told Keith Olbermann last Friday that said she had no idea that her campaign fundraising ad--"Sometimes we put things off, don't we? We think we have all the time in the world. Well, we don't"--might be construed as a reference to her battle with cancer, what are the chances she was telling the truth?

When I say that we don`t have all the time in the world and talk about people who are serving in Iraq or talk about people without health care, somehow i`s an allusion to my illness. If I wanted to tug on people`s heart strings, I have better material than that. I have used that allusion to the fact that -- I made that back in 2004. It's often the way I talk about it.

It honestly didn`t occur to me that it might be read that way.

The chances are close to zero, no? ... [Emphasis added] 12:31 P.M.

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Word that describes what those who saw Rupert Murdoch on his WSJ visits noticed about him:"Frail." ... P.S.--Most riveting treatment of the Murdoch Succession issue I've seen: Kevin Kline's performance in Fierce Creatures, all-too-briefly glimpsed in Slate's Murdoch FilmFest. Kline's character boasts that he will have himself frozen so none of his heirs will inherit his empire. ... 1:29 A.M.

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Bet of the Year: Bill Richardson is trading at .60 on Intrade. I think that means his odds for winning the Democratic nomination are currently running 167-1 against. You should take those odds.** 1) He's already at 11% in Iowa, where voters notoriously look around for an alternative to the front runners in the final 10 days. 2) Iowa, they say, is more important than ever! 3) A clear, major policy difference just opened up between him and all three of the candidates ahead of him, when they refused to promise to pull out all troops from Iraq by 2013; 4) The Iowa caucuses attract a small minority of relatively liberal Democrats who are likely to care intensely about Iraq and find Richardson's promise very appealing. 5) He doesn't even have to win to get a slingshot effect from Iowa. Gary Hart didn't win Iowa in 1984--he finished second with 14.8%--but that was enough to propel him to victory in New Hampshire and other early primaries. ...

Why isn't the MSM taking the Richardson threat more seriously? Hello?  Is it because reporters--at least all the reporters I've met--find him wildly unimpressive in person? Is it because any newspaper that doesn't already have enough checked-out material in its files on Richardson's "personal issues"  to sink his candidacy might as well close up shop? I don't know. But if Richardson's doing this well while being unimpressive in person, think how well he might do if he somehow becomes impressive. ... P.S.: I'm not pro-Richardson. He has a rep as a substance-challenged schmoozer and he's certainly a panderer. I disagree with him vehemently on immigration and No Child Left Behind. I just think he's currently well-positioned for a #1 or #2 finish in Iowa. ...

Update:kf fails to move the market! ... Also, Richardson claims to have raised $5.2 million in the quarter, a not unimpressive sum. (Reminder: This is Richardson. Need to check against actual report.) ...

**--kf does not actually give gambling advice! Make up your own mind, don't sue me if you lose, my track record is, um,  imperfect, etc., etc. 9:34 P.M. link

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sure Is a Thin Fence: There's a picture of some of the 70 miles of new border fence in today's LAT. But it seems to be a single-layer fence. I thought we'd ordered a "double-layered" fence. ... Are President Bush and DHS Secretary Chertoff--who've never liked the fence idea--trying to make it ineffective? ... Update: Bill Quick has the photo too. ... 12:47 P.M. link

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Ron Burkle now has a panic room. ... 2:30 P.M.

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Was Doug Band's Finder's Fee Legal? According to the WSJ, Bill Clinton aide Douglas Band accepted, and then passed on to others, a $400,000 finders fee for helping arrange a seemingly disastrous investment deal. But it seems that finding investors for a fee can be considered "brokerage" requiring a license. Who knew? It seems like a misguided rule, and it's apparently a controversial one. And even assuming (i.e. guessing) Band doesn't have a license, I don't know which side of this "gray" area" he would fall on. But it might be worth checking out. ... Illegal is illegal, alas--and even "a successful early stage financing that was technically illegal" can apparently give investors a right to subsequently undo the deal, according to the Inc.com article linked above. Would that give the now-disgruntled FOB investor 'found' by Band a way to get his money back--by blaming Clinton's aide? Just asking! ... 1:53 P.M. link

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GQ Editor Jim Nelson defends his manhood here. ... No doubt GQ's upcoming "Man of the Year" piece on Bill Clinton will be "fully satisfying." It better be! ...P.S.: Something tells me, in advance, that I'd rather read the  piece on Hillaryland infighting that Nelson killed. Hillary campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle doesn't seem to be wildly popular. ... P.P.S.: Nelson claims the decision to kill Green's piece wasn't "directly linked" [Howard Kurtz's phrase] to the ability of the Clintonists to withhold Bill's cooperation on the second, forthcoming piece. But of course the Clinton camp had in fact already linked them when Nelson made his decision. At that point--when the subject of a story has implicitly threatened your magazine with repercussions if you print it--any editor with balls will make sure the story gets printed.** Even if it's not a "great Hillary piece" [Nelson's words] and only a good Hillary piece. (I haven't read it so I don't know what it was. But I know the smell of editorial cowardice.) ... By saying he'd have printed a "great Hillary piece," Nelson is more or less admitting that he let the Clinton threat raise the bar that Green's piece had to meet, no?... 

**--At least this rule should apply to stories about political figures. I don't care if Nelson caves to Brad Pitt. ... 12:59 P.M. link

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Page B-4 Watch: It's where the news is in the L.A. Times. Wednesday's B-4 Special: "24" star Kiefer Sutherland arrested for drunk driving, with jail time a possibility. Nobody's interested in that! ... 3:31 A.M.

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John Edwards is getting grief because the hedge fund he worked for is responsible for some subprime loans and foreclosures in Iowa. But the hedge fund for which Chelsea Clinton has worked is not exactly Landlord of the Year either. ... 3:22 A.M.

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From the NYT's explanation of why the "Bryant Park Project, NPR's new younger, "looser" show, is different from all the other NPR programs:

The difference between traditional NPR programs and this one is perhaps best illustrated by their approaches to sports. When the commentator Stefan Fatsis appears on NPR's afternoon "All Things Considered," he is never interviewed by the co-anchor, Melissa Block, his wife. At "The Bryant Park Project" the sports commentator is Bill Wolff, MSNBC's vice president of prime-time programming and Ms. Stewart's husband. "Darling," she called him in a recent playful exchange dissecting their weekend football viewing.

Right, it sounds completely different! Among public radio programs featuring female anchors and male sports commentators who are married to each other, they're at, like, opposite poles. ... P.S.: They said NPR's "Day to Day" was going to be different too. Then they made it the same.**

**--This included cancelling my occasional phoned in "blog" items. I'm bitter! But that's not what I'm talking about. ... 2:49 A.M.

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Just Do It? Note: In Wednesday's debate, Hillary Clinton did not say she was opposed to torture even in "ticking time bomb" scenarios. What she said was that

As a matter of policy it cannot be American policy period.

This doesn't mean she's against doing it. It means she's against making it a formal part of "policy"--a distinction her husband made clear on Keith Olbermann's Countdown Thursday. In other words, she thought she was ducking the hypothetical, embracing the "it's against the law but I'll do it" hypocrisy that has become the accepted anti-torture safe harbor on the issue. ... P.S.: Her post-debate statement doesn't change this position. She's against "making narrow exceptions to this policy" in advance. This doesn't mean, contrary to Greg Sargent's intepretation, that in fact "she'd adhere to" this righteous no-torture policy. ... 2:22 A.M. link

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

kf Yesterday, USA Today: It's official. Illegals are moving out. How many and where to remains TBD. ... [via Polipundit] 10:41 P.M.

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Clinton Thug Watch I: Bill Clinton's aide Doug Band** tries to intimidate a Manhattan restaurant owner into removing a harmless photo of daughter Chelsea from his restaurant's wall ...

**--last seen receiving (but not keeping) a $400,000 fee for finding Anne Hathaway's Italian boyfriend a now-unhappy investor, according to the WSJ. ... Not surprisingly, Ron Burkle is involved! ... 9:31 A.M. link

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Who is Rielle Hunter? ... And why is John Edwards' campaign so skittish about her? ... Backfill: They met in a bar. Sounds innocent enough! ...6:50 A.M. link

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monetize This: Why can't you have "enemies" on Facebook? At the least, you should be able to make other people "rivals." It would liven things up.  ... (I'm sure this is not a new idea.) ... Update:  Yup. ... 11:00 P.M.

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Expenditures Aren't Like Contributions: Another independent effort working at cross-purposes from a candidate's real, official campaign. ... [Tks to alert reader O.C.] 10:47 P.M.

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Let's hope Vice President Cheney and David Addington let their subscriptions to the New York Times expire and didn't see the following kicker paragraphs, in a piece on how Americans are paying too much attention to Ahmadinejad  as opposed to his clerical patrons

But whether Mr. Ahmadinejad wins or loses, there is no sense here in Iran that the outcome will have any impact on the fundamentals of Iran's relations with the world or the government's relation to its own society.

"The situation will get worse and worse," said Saeed Leylaz, an economist and former government official. "We are moving to a point where no internal force can change things." [E.A.]

I can think of an external force. ... 10:35 P.M.

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The We-Don't-Trust-Toobin Caucus is growing so rapidly I can't keep up with it from the road. But Walter Olson has the burgeoning list  at PointOfLaw.com. ... Note that not all of Toobin's critics are Republicans or conservatives. ... 10:16 P.M.

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I didn't realize that anti-gerrymandering reform had died once more in California. The state's Democratic leaders again failed to deliver on the reform promise they made when urging voters to reject a Schwarzenegger-backed anti-gerrymandering ballot measure in 2005. ... The big hang-up was fear that Nancy Pelosi would oppose any measure that ended gerrymandering of Congressional districts as well as state legislative districts. But Schwarzenegger deserves some blame for not knocking heads and getting a gettable deal, according to the LAT's George Skelton. The LAT's George Skelton also deserves some blame--he fell for the Democrats' promises and columnized against the ballot initiative in 2005. The reform he righteously opposed sure looks good now. ... 12:46 A.M.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

First rule of Today's GQ Man: Be a wuss! Josh Green is an excellent magazine writer, so his piece on Hillary campaign infighting is unlikely to have been killed by GQ magazine because it was bad. That leaves Politico reporter Ben Smith's explanation--that it was spiked by GQ's editor Jim Nelson because of pressure from the Clinton camp, in the form of threatened denial of access to Bill Clinton for an upcoming GQ cover story. ... Maybe Nelson will have something more to say that will make him look better than he looks now. But there's one way to find out how good the piece was. Publish it--somewhere. That's what the Web is for, no? ... Note to Josh: I'll do it if no one else will. ... Or is GQ not only spiking the piece but refusing to let Green place it elsewhere? That would be full-service journalism for the Clintons. ... Obvious Questions:  Could the piece have been as bad for the Clinton camp as the publicity they're now getting? Are they still not quite operating in the internet age? ... Doesn't Bill Clinton want to be on the cover of GQ a month before the Iowa caucuses? You'd think Nelson would have some leverage of his own. ... :

Alternative response--The GQ Blogosphere Challenge: Uncover what it is that the Clinton folks are so determined to hide. It can't just be Howard Wolfson's salary. ... Edsall? ... Ambinder? ... Shapiro? ... Anyone? ... 4:04 P.M. link

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Inside Toobin's Secret Kitchen, Part III: It's OK for Jeffrey Toobin to characterize Justice Clarence Thomas as "lonely," and "ideologically isolated, strategically marginal." But when Thomas describes himself as those things, it's time for a New Yorker-pleasing sneer! Patterico prosecutes. ... P.S.: Ann Althouse has more fun with Toobin's flimsy dramatization techniques  here. ... [via Beldar12:48 P.M.

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Kossacks Reach Out! On BlogTalk Radio, David (thereisnospoon) Atkins, Adam (Clammyc)Lambert and I talk  about the Surge (I'm tentatively for it, they're not) and Atkins' interesting distinction between "moderates" and "centrists"  (I'm for both, they aren't). ... The whole conversation reinforced my sense that what Kossacks mean by "progressive" is largely untethered from what pre-1992 Democrats meant by "liberal," but maybe you'll disagree. ... P.S.: Podcast available here. ... 12:20 A.M.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

John Edwards Will End Illegal Immigration! I thought it was standard (if effective) political hyperbole when Sen. Sessions characterized "comprehensive" immigration reform as "No Illegal Alien Left Behind." But here's John Edwards describing his immigration plan  at what appears to have been a Democratic SEIU panderthon [E.A.]:

"We're going to ensure that every single person living in the United States of America has a completely achievable path to American citizenship so that they don't live in the shadows."

It won't be hard for Hillary to stay to the right of that. ... P.S.: Note that to bring everyone out of "the shadows," it's not enough that there be a path to legalization for everyone--everyone must also be legal while they are following this path (or else they're still in the shadows). In other words, if Edwards' position isn't instant legalization for all who've managed to sneak into the territorial U.S., I don't understand why it isn't. ... P.P.S.: Maybe it's not quite a universal "dry foot" policy--you have to be "living" here, not just physically on this side of the border. But it's close. ... 11:42 P.M.

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Fred or Freddoso? You CANNOT have both! Fred Thompson appears to have, perhaps accidentally, hit on what seems to me the correct view of campaign finance reform, which is that you can regulate money donated directly to parties and candidates but you can't stop people from making independent expenditures if they arre outside of candidate or party control. The Corner's David Freddoso  asserts with rather desperate force that

You CANNOT limit soft money without placing those restrictions on [independent] free speech.

Oh yeah? Why not? I can see how the authors of McCain Feingold wanted to restrict both forms of speech, but that doesn't mean others won't want to draw the distinction. Money spent independently is likely to be spent inefficiently, even at cross purposes with the official party. Ask MoveOn.org! It's therefore a less reliable means of bribery than a direct contribution. ... In any case, this is not a distinction you "CANNOT" make--which means you don't have to either keep all of McCain-Feingold or rip it all down. The Constitution is not a Hsu-icide pact! ... 1:05 A.M.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Inside the Secret World of Jeff Toobin, Chapter II:  Ann Althouse catches Toobin telling the same pathetic anecdote at two different points in his book--except that the words between quote marks, and attributed to Justice O'Connor, are different each time. Althouse's  conclusion: "I think it's fair to suspect that Toobin assembles material into quotes that are not really quotes." ... 9:23 P.M. 

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Burkle Watch1) Burkle My Hsu! He's named in Hsu-related suit  as someone who "introduced and/or endorsed Hsu as a friend, colleague and trusted associate." Of course this is just an allegation. Tobey Maguire is also named. [via Instapundit] ... 2) TabQuest '08 Fallout? He's sued by former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, accused of not letting Riordan and other investors sell their stakes in a venture in order to "perpetuate the myth that he is a billionaire, `legendary investor,' and to profit from millions of dollars in consulting, acquisition, and management services agreements and fees." He immediately settles, self-effacingly telling the L.A. Daily News**

"It doesn't do anything for me to have a couple million dollars of Dick Riordan's money."

Unexplored angle: Didn't the Riordan/Burkle investment involve Source Interlink, the media distribution outfit that's been talked about as a possible vehicle  for Hillary-backer Burkle to purchase and effectively gain control of the tabloids (National Enquirer, etc) owned by American Media Inc. in advance of the 2008 election? I think it did! That raises various possible political subtexts, since last time I checked Riordan was nominally a Republican.

Of course, from Burkle's point of view, just negotiating to purchase the tabs might have the effect of neutralizing them, since aptly named AMI tab kingpin David Pecker doesn't seem like the type of guy to print a story that embarrasses someone  who might be the salvation of his troubled company.

**--Not the sort of quote you'd read in the competing L.A. Times. Too juicy. ... 11:58 A.M. link

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Toobin Career Update: Is another embarrassing string of corrections in store for a Jeffrey Toobin book? UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has already noticed a number of non-trivial errors in Toobin's latest, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court --including two small examples of classic Toobin slipperiness: 1) Suggesting-without-saying that Justice O'Connor, leading the court to the left, voted on the "liberal" majority of a major federalism case when in fact she voted on the opposite side, in the minority; 2) A casual bit of New Yorker-reader-pleasing innuendo against Justice Thomas:

On p. 111, the book describes how Thomas received a $1.5 million book advance for his memoirs from Rupert Murdoch, and adds in a parenthetical, "More than three years after the contract was announced, and $500,000 paid to him, Thomas had still not delivered a manuscript." If that's just faulting Justice Thomas for being a slow writer, that's fine, though I expect that three years isn't that long a time for writing a manuscript. But if the claim is that he's somehow taking money and delivering only vaporware — which I think is the impression the parenthetical leave — might it have been worth mentioning that the book is coming out just a few weeks after The Nine? The author might not have known this when he was writing the manuscript, but I'd think it could have been checked before The Nine went to press.

Volokh is very hesitant and mild-mannered about his list of errors--but as he notes, it doesn't cover the parts of the book he "didn't know as much about, and thus couldn't fact-check" himself. ... 2:31 A.M. link

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Update on the Make-It-Across-the-Border-and-Your-Kids-Get-Green-Cards-Act ... sorry, the "DREAM Act": It appears to be headed for a vote next week. ... Mark Krikorian  has more. ... To reiterate: The problem with this bill is not just that it's apparently been drafted as a stealth mechanism to allow lots of illegal immigrants to claim they qualify and thereby achieve legal status, although it has. Even were it restricted to its core purpose--compassionate treatment for eager students brought into the country by their parents when they were young--it would inherently create an incentive for further illegal border crossing (namely by telling potential illegals to bring their kids across the border when they are young). ... Now that the government is finally (seemingly, at least temporarily) trying to remove the "jobs magnet" for continuing illegal immigration, this is not the time to activate an alternative "kids magnet." ... Once the borders are reasonably impervious, then all sorts of compassionate semi-amnesties become much more feasible. But a vote for the DREAM Act now is in practice a vote for more illegal immigration (as many of its supporters surely understand). ... According to Numbers U.S.A., the Dream Act has only 21 firm opponents in the Senate--and one of them is Lindsey "we're going to tell the bigots to shut up" Graham. When you are relying on Lindsey Graham as one of your "Anti-Amnesty Champions," maybe its time to panic and mobilize the 'yahoos'! ... 1:05 P.M. link

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Late Hits:Here's  NPR's Laura Sydell citing Ken Doctor for the proposition that the cancellation of TimesSelect is a "sign that we have reached a tipping point with online advertising" where charging for content loses you more in ad dollars than it gains in subscription revenue. "Sign"? "Reached"? "Tipping Point?" It's been obvious for years that this was the case. Slate learned this lesson in 1999. ... The NYT is attempting to get away with the Pinch-saving spin that the online environment "changed" in a way that "wasn't anticipated" after TimesSelect was launched. But the failure ot TimesSelect was completely anticipated at the time by many bloggers (e.g., Jay Rosen), notes Rachel Sklar. ... Alternative, more sophisticated explanation: Pinch is a fool. ... If he declared he was going to fly and jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would it be a "sign" that mankind had reached a "tipping point" at which individuals were unable to fly? ... P.S.: Was this the same expert analyst Ken Doctor who only a few months ago was rationalizing the paper's TimesSelect strategy with the argument that

"the Times Select play is about more than revenue. It's about holding onto as many of those high-paying print subscribers as long as possible."

I think it was! ... 2:27 P.M. link

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Show, Don't Tell: Bob Wright makes a hype-deflating analytic point about that recent liberals-are-smarter-than-conservative  study. Bob and I actually demonstrate its falsity later with a bhTV segment that's almost, but not quite, NSFW. Until Bob whips out his moose ... 2:05 P.M.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Inside the Secret World of Jeff Toobin: Ann Althouse has great fun with Toobin's latest book hype. ... For some of the sources of my skepticism regarding Toobin, click here, here and here. ...

FILED UNDER: INGRATIATING, BABYFACED, CAREERISM [We don't have tags yet--ed Just practicing, in case] 4:56 P.M. link

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Slow News Day? Chesty-and-testy Joe Klein says Matt Drudge is a "disgrace" because Drudge used the headline

HEALTH INSURANCE PROOF REQUIRED FOR WORK

for a link to a piece on Hillary's health plan. And if you read the AP story in question, it's clear that ... well, it's clear that Hillary is thinking about requiring health insurance for work! She says it could be "part of the job interview--like when your kid goes to school and has to show proof of vaccination." If your kid doesn't show the proof, he can't go to school, right? So what, exactly, is wrong with the headline? Am I missing something? ... P.S.: Sure, Hillary says that "at this point" she hasn't "proposed" anything "punitive" and that it would all have to worked out in negotiations with Congress, etc.. So? Is Drudge required to fall for that strategic fuzzery, or can he go for the nut? It's significant that Hillary's even talking about it at this stage. Anyway, who said Joe Klein is the only one allowed to be hyperbolic? (According to Klein, Drudge is not only a "disgrace" but "shameless.") ... P.P.S.: Is Klein upset because requiring health insurance is his pet plan (and not a bad one)? Or was this just another self-described "moment of stupid weakness"? ... [You just stuck in that last link, to Klein's embarrassing pro-Iraq-War moment, to bait him into responding--ed. Mission Accomplished!11:56 P.M. link

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Rupert vs. Pinch. Odds, anyone? A well-informed emailer writes to highlight the non-spreadsheet aspects of recent developments at the very top of the MSM [emphasis added]:

The other piece to remember is that the murdoch-owned WSJ will start a national ad rate war with the wsj offering steep discounts (a la the nyp in nyc).  Murdoch wants to bring the NYT to its knees.

Since the NYT is practically on its knees already--at least share-price-wise--this shouldn't be all that difficult. ... P.S.: If you were a member of the Times-owning Sulzberger family, or a top NYT reporter, or Steve Rattner, and you saw the famously rapacious Australian press lord headed your way with murderous intent, and then you saw that your champion was ... Pinch ... well, how terrified would you be? Wouldn't you want a new champion? Just asking! ... 4:55 P.M.  link

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The L.A. Times manages to lose its best political reporter (and one of the few justifications for its continued existence). ... P.S.: It's surprising and damning that the N.Y. Times didn't hire Brownstein, since-- just between you and me--he's also better than any of their political reporters. ...  4:14 P.M.

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Wanted-- The Brentwood EcoZoomBox: Here's a lucrative market niche none of the auto manufacturers seem to have spotted: There is a huge pent-up demand among the West Side L.A. parents I meet for a) a minivan, meaning something like a front-drive SUV but with a Honda-Elementish low floor and ride height; b) big enough to have 7 seats; c)hip enough for a mom to be able to drive it and get admiring glances; d)hybrid, in a way that advertises its hybridness to the world (meaning essentially that it would be available only as a a hybrid). It wouldn't have to get 45 m.p.g. It could get 32 m.p.g.**--as long is it got certifiably better m.p.g. than the non-hybrid equivalent. The point isn't to save the planet so much as to advertise how the planet might be saved--not necessarily a hypocritical posture...  Since top mileage would not be a requirement, it could also be e)fast. ... This combination seems eminently do-able, but there's nothing I see on the market now that fills the bill. The Prius meets (c) and (d) but not (a) or (b). The Element and Scion xB meet (a) and (c) but not (b) and (d). The Toyota RAV4 is big enough but not a hybrid. The Mercury Mariner comes in a hybrid, but it doesn't advertise its hybridness the way a Prius does, and it's not big enough. ... P.S.: These moms have money. Tons of it. They don't necessarily want to spend $70,00, but they will readily spend $35,000 or $45,000 or even $50,000 on something that meets their carrying needs, seems sexy and exudes eco-friendliness. ... Suggested names: Subaru Rockingham ... Acura Adderall. ...

Update: Alert reader B.G. suggests this thing. Not bad! A little minivany, though. ...

**--Toyota claims over 40 mpg for the Estima 7-seater, so the 22 m.p.g. I originally had suggested seemed a little low. ...  3:09 P.M. link

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Monday, September 17, 2007

*GLOAT ALERT* Pinch's Folly Formally FUBAR! TimesSelect--Pinch Sulzberger's attempt to put his prized columnists behind a subscription wall on the theory that they were so much better than free bloggers that people would pay for them--is finally so doomed it's actually dead, dead, dead, as of midnight tomorrow. ...

You see, it's really a success story! It "met expectations." It's just that online ad growth was so high it was more profitable to not charge readers and thereby sell more ads! I mean, who could have foreseen that (except everyone else in the industry)?...

P.S.: Always trust content from kausfiles. Also, I told you so. [You're running out of enemies--ed Burkle, Bangle--what are they, chopped liver? Anyway, Sulzberger hasn't lost his job, yet.] 3:23 P.M. link

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Demi-Semi- Amnesty: Democratic Sen. Durbin's revived "DREAM Act" is typically billed as a way to address "the tragedy of young people"--students who were brought into the country when they were very young, and now want to attend college. I was going to criticize it because it inevitably offers an incentive to future illegal immigration--i.e. "sneak across the border and your already-born children can go to U.S. colleges, pay in-state tuition, and become citizens!" It seemed precisely the sort of compassionate measure that should become possible after the borders had been shown to be secure for several years (as opposed to after a few quick showy raids and deportations).

But it's actually not that bad. It's much, much worse!  Kris Kobach persuasively argues  that, thanks to loose drafting, it's potentially a huge de facto legalization program of the sort many observers thought had been defeated. For example [emphasis added]:

There is no upper age limit. Any illegal alien can walk into a U.S. Customs and Immigration Ser­vices office and declare that he is eligible. For example, a 45 year old can claim that he illegally entered the United States 30 years ago at the age of 15. There is no requirement that the alien prove that he entered the United States at the claimed time by providing particular documents. The DREAM Act's Section 4(a) merely requires him to "demonstrate" that he is eligible—which in practice could mean simply making a sworn statement to that effect.

There's more--e.g., once you file an "application," you can't be deported. ...See also Noam Askew. ... Action Plan: Ask John McCain about the "DREAM Act" on his new "Forget Immigration!" Tour. ... 1:25 A.M. link

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Minor Detail Dept: The LAT reports on incarcerated Hillary Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu's efforts to reward her staff:

Clinton confidant [Patti] Solis Doyle got a coveted, andpricey, designer handbag--a gift that made her so uncomfortable she returned it.

She returned it ... when? ... 1:03 A.M.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

International Relations:TNR's Michael Crowley sees the Hand of Burkle behind the recent endorsements of Hillary Clinton by Wesley Clark and Magic Johnson. Clark, after all, recently got a teaching gig  at the Burkle Center for International Relations. ... I didn't know there was a Burkle Center for International Relations. Scary! ... Cocktail Party Question: Will Burkle's help, if any, securing these endorsements make up for the damage done to Hillary's campaign if details of Burkle's zipping around the globe with Bill come out? Just asking! ... New Reuters-style slogan: "Before it's Truth, it's Kausfiles!" .... 11:51 P.M.

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I'm on the Slate "Gabfest" being "argumentative" and "petty" despite the best efforts of John Dickerson and HuffPo'sRachel Sklar. ... 10:52 P.M.

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"Sally Field Censored":'You ______ me. You really ______ me!' 10:50 P.M.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Thompson's Troubled Start: Fred Thompson's campaign had such a terrible, fumbling, disappointing first week that he's already tied with Giuliani in the ARG poll and ahead by eight points  in the Rasmussen poll. ... 8:03 P.M.

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Another small car-- Volkswagen Up!I'd call it the Eh! ... But it's rear-engine. 12:40 P.M.

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Thanks to readers who've let me know that www.kausfiles.com takes you to a strangely contentless Slate page instead of to the latest kf blog page. I'm trying to get that fixed--as they say at Newsweek, "efforting"!** For the moment, the best way to get here is through the Slate table of contents (www. slate.com). ... 12:35 P.M.

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Have a Pinch--Maybe Murdoch Bid on the Wrong Company:New York Times stock falls below $20 a share, down from $50 in 2002. ... Soon even Ron Burkle will be able to buy the place! ... [Tks. to News Alert] 3:33 A.M.

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Sen. Clinton courageously speaks out against anti-immigrant attitudes during the recent Univision debate:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Clinton, the negative tone of the immigration debate has left the country polarized and has created certain racist and discriminatory attitudes toward Hispanics.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think this is a very serious problem. And, as I said earlier, there are many in the political, and, frankly, in the broadcast world today, who take a particular aim at our Latino population and I think it's very destructive.

She was maybe referring to politicians who play on voters' visceral disgust at seeing crowds of scruffy day laborers:

"People have to stop employing illegal immigrants. ... I mean, come up to Westchester, go to Suffolk and Nassau counties, stand on the street corners in Brooklyn or the Bronx; you're going to see loads of people waiting to get picked up to go do yard work and construction work and domestic work."

Who'd say something like that? Lou Dobbs? Er, no. ... 2:57 A.M. link

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My former downstairs neighbor, Andrea Askowitz, a warm, funny and filthy performance artist, makes her YouTube debut. Instructive! But NSFW. ... 1:57 A.M.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thanks to a recent election that gave Mayor Villaraigosa's allies a majority on the L.A. school board, a large, poor-performing inner-city high school--Locke High--is being turned over in toto to a charter organization. Why isn't this the equivalent, for the education world, what the dynamiting of the Pruitt-Igoe towers was for New Deal public housing projects? Here is a unionized ghetto high school so beyond salvation by the traditional ed bureaucracy that a majority of its own teachers vote to go charter! ... Needless to say:

Leaders of the teachers union said they would file a grievance to block the transfer on grounds that the decision violates the teachers' labor agreement and state law.

See also this ground-level account. (via LA Observed) 10:18 P.M. link

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The Case for Gatekeepers: Why didn't Republican politico Jeff Bell get an interview with the Fred Thompson campaign? He only wanted to help! Was it maybe because Thompson has distinguished himself from the field by strongly opposing Bush's misguided illegal-immigrant semi-amnesty proposal, while Bell a) supported itb) worked for La Raza, which helped draft it and c) erroneously (and self-servingly)  declared to pro-legalization pundit Fred Barnes that the political tide had turned Bush's way? ... Or was it maybe because Jeff Bell's the kind of guy who, when he doesn't get a job interview, will whine to Robert Novak and get you bad press? ... P.S.: I am vaguely troubled to learn from Novak that Mary Matalin is playing a significant role in Thompson's campaign. Too Beltway! ... Matalin's charming, but as a friend said of her and her husband, "She's famous because she's the woman who ran the worst campaign in presidential history,** and he's famous because he's the guy who beat the worst campaign in presidential history." ...

Update: Matalin was also in the "political inner circle" of Sen. George Allen's 2006 reelection campaign, which will be studied for decades. You remember Sen. Allen, don't you?  ....

**--Bush, 1992. 4:50 P.M. link

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Not Bully: Is it really a good idea, from President Bush's point of view, for him to give a prime time address today about Iraq? Seems like Bush speeches haven't convinced anybody of anything for several years now--especially about Iraq, but also about Social Security reform and immigration reform. The president's rhetorical campaigns not only didn't win those fights--it seemed as if they didn't even move the needle in his direction. Another big-deal Bush Iraq address, given the President's unpopularity on the issue, might actually hurt. Why not just read a statement on the White House lawn endorsing Gen. Petraeus' plan and be done with it? .... Backfill: Turns out Charles Krauthammer and the rest of Brit Hume's panelists made basically the same point at length today. Why give the Dems an opportunity to argue against Bush as opposed to Petraeus? This is a pretty basic mistake by the White House, no? I thought new communications czar Ed Gillespie was "winning rave reviews for handling critical PR issues."  If he's so smart ...  P.S.: Or is Bush too legacy obsessed--or just plain vain--to cede the lead role to Petraeus? .... 2:19 A.M. link

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One way to think about the surge: Juan Cole writes  that

the best hope for the Dems may be that Gen. Petraeus actually succeeds, over the next year, in significantly reducing ethnic tensions.

Otherwise, Cole argues, "when the Democratic president pulls US troops out in summer of 2009, all hell is going to break loose." To which James Taranto understandably replies, in effect, 'why pull out, then?" .... I assume Cole's answer is that a pull-out might be desirable as the best (least bad) policy solution, but would still be a political disaster for a Democratic president. Fair enough. But strictly on policy terms, doesn't the desirability of a pullout depend on whether the hell that is going to break loose when we leave is becoming a bigger hell or a smaller hell because of our continued military presence? Right now, despite the disputes over pre- and post-surge death counts, etc., it looks like it's becoming a smaller hell, no? ... P.S.: Cole also has some interesting things to say about the bombing of those Yazidi villages. ... [via Insta11:22 P.M. link

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TimesSelect, Still Gaining Strength! Literally hundreds of new paying subscribers last month! 1,700 to be exact. Gawker's Choire Sicha calculates the full immensity of this new revenue stream, which appears to be enough to cover several minutes of Thomas Friedman's expense acount. .... 5:55 P.M.

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Reader P.D. makes an interesting prediction about another consequence of the immigration crackdown in California:

Besides cheap labor, illegals increase demand for homes, drive up prices, and bestow an average of a 10% per year increase into the property tax coffers.  Compounded, that's...a lot of money.  So much easier for Fabian [Nunez, Democratic legislative leader] than convincing the voters to give them a tax increase!  Another way that open borders appeals to the right and the left.

I therefore predict a huge tax shortfall, ala [ex.-Gov.] Gray Davis, in about a year. [E.A.]

P.D. could be right! And if she's right she could be right for states other than California as well. ... Kf takes no position. I already have my hands full  predicting a tight labor market and rising wages for the unskilled. I'm sticking with that one, despite the recent jobs report. ... 2:21 A.M.

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If CBS' hiring of Katie Couric was all about damaging the NBC Today show (rather than boosting the CBS Evening News) it's working. Today "has lost about 360,000 viewers" in the past year, including 12% of women aged 25-54. ... 2:07 A.M.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

UnBangled: A Russian garage takes parts from a 1970s Volga sedan and sticks them on a new BMW M6. It's arguably an improvement. ... 3:15 P.M.

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NEA vs. La Raza--In Iowa, for a Dem, it's not even close: The undisputed Pander King of the Democratic campaign, Bill Richardson, lunges for the caucus-dominating Iowa teacher vote by saying he'd "scrap" No Child Left Behind, before directly quoting the National Education Association's vapid slogan.

We must provide our public schools with what the National Education Association refers to as the three R's — Responsibility, Respect and Resources.   

In the New Economy it's always good to cut out the middleman. ...P.S.: I didn't realize No Child Left Behind had been endorsed by La Raza. ... 1:40 A.M.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Gran Salida: Why do I pay attention to anecdotal evidence? Because academics are always the last to find out what's happening. If you wait until a social trend turns up in some professor's peer-reviewed charts,** you are waiting too long. (Example: Anecdotal evidence always said people spent a long time on welfare. Academics said they didn't. Until, after a decade or two, the academics looked at their printouts more carefully.) With that in mind, here's a report from, yes, the front lines of the illegal immigration crackdown  (scroll down to comment from "hllnwlz"):

I'm a high school English teacher in OC. Some very interesting things are afoot in Anaheim public schools.

The AP in charge of scheduling says our freshmen enrollment is down 100 kids, about 5% off normal. We've been reading about decreasing enrollment coming through the elementary schools, but didn't expect it to hit us so quickly.

In five classes, I SHOULD have 100-110 kids.

I have 71. Any of you familiar with OC public schools knows how low that number is.

Also, I've got many, many more white and asian students than ever before. I *think* what's happening is that many of those families have downsized into our lower-middle class neighborhood.

On top of that, the recently immigrated Mexican kids seem to have *poof* vanished. (Note: I have no knowledge of their status, illegal or legal.) ALL my students, for the first time in my career, have insisted that I eschew their given names and use an anglicized version (e.g. Mary for Maricruz, Judy for Yuridia, Tommy for Tomas, etc.) instead. No one is speaking Spanish inside or outside the classroom.

This leads me to believe either (a) all the enforcement ICE has been doing is scaring the crap out of the (legal and illegal) immigrant community and/or b) people are ditching Cali for greener pastures.

My money's on b. [Emphasis added.]

But they're ditching East Tulsa too. Maybe they're ditching the U.S. entirely. Even if they are only moving around internally, this could be a large and portentous demographic shift. In a decade someone will get tenure for discovering it. ... P.S.: Note that "hllnwlz"'s comment is from a blog tracking the puncturing of the housing bubble. Sugggestive! ... [Tks. to emailer "**"]

Update: In metro Atlanta's Gwinnett County, where immigration has been a hot topic, they may have to lay off teachers because 3,500 expected students didn't show up. ... That's three, so it's a trend! ...

**--Or even, like Matt Yglesias,  wait until a trend shows up in Jared Bernstein's review  of BLS data ... 11:45 P.M. link

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Let Mirthala Decide! Telemundo anchor Mirthala Salinas' former boyfriend, California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, is trying to please the powerful state teachers' unions by passing a bill that would  let local school boards kill charter schools after three years.** Telemundo anchor Mirthala Salinas' current boyfriend, formerly married L.A. Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa, has been a supporter of L.A.'s Greeh Dot charter schools, which the local school board has viewed as a threat. Since Villaraigosa seems to be on the right side of this one, I say we let Mirthala decide. ...

**--About 50% of California's legislative politics seems to involve Democratic officeholders trying to please public sector unions. That's the game here, much more than on the national level. 11:16 P.M.

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Non-fence not working: Is the Bush administration about to ditch the "virtual fence" along the border? Seems like the yahoos were right again. ...10:57 A.M.

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"Federalism" vs. "Partition": Max Boot argues that what he calls "federalism" is a better solution for Iraq than "partition." Indeed, he argues that what advocates of "partition"--most recently, Charles Krauthammer--call "partition" really is "federalism."

Question: Is America "partitioned" into 50 states? By the loose definition of "soft partition" that some (like Krauthammer) use, you could say yes. After all, the federal government doesn't provide most basic services, from welfare to policing to education; at most it supplements locally provided services (e.g., the FBI backs up or supplants local law enforcement in a few instances) and provides funding (e.g., "block grants") to pay for locally provided services. While you could describe this arrangement as a "soft partition," the more commonly accepted term is "federalism," and it is a good description of what is happening in Iraq.

Huh? Last time I checked, North Dakota wasn't populated by people who'd been chased out of South Dakota by terrorizing militias, and residents of all 50 states were free to travel in all the other states without fear of being expelled (if they're lucky) or shot in the back of the head because of their state identity. Given Iraq's murderous sectarian tensions, Boot's invocation of the benign "50 state" model suggests he and other "federalism" advocates haven't yet come to grips with the reality in Iraq. But, in any case, Krauthammer is talking about sectarian separatism, not mere Dakota-style line-drawing and devolution. ... Bizarrely, Bruce Kesler seems to agree with Boot. ... P.S.: For Boot's more serious arguments against "partition," see this Commentary articlea) Note that his claim that "most Iraqis do not support partition," based on an April poll, is challenged by commenters on his blog post. Indeed, according to the poll, support for a "unitary" Iraqi government has been falling steadily since 2004 while support for a soft or hard partition has risen. (Update: See also this analyst, who is surprised by the high pro-partition sentiment in Sadr City.) ... b) I also think Boot is guilty of reification--declaring that if a stable partition was established in Bosnia only because of a continuing "NATO troop presence and a quasi-colonial structure of international governance argument" that it can only be established in Iraq with a continuing, large foreign troop presence, etc.. Sometimes things happen for which there is no precedent. (And commentators who don't believe that had no business supporting the invasion of Iraq.) ... 1:14 A.M. link

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Jeez, did you notice how well-positioned Richardson is in Iowa? They could easily go for him in the final week. They are proven fools, remember. ... 1:31 A.M..

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This is becoming a moving story of the resilience of the human spirit! Huntington, New York's Greg Packer, uncovered by Ann Coulter as "apparently the entire media's designated man on the street for all stories ever written," gets banned from the Associated Press in 2003. Hard times ensue. Packer is reduced to representing randomly chosen Americans in publications like the Norwood News. But--you know how this ends. A lone determined individual versus giant faceless, repressive media bureaucracy. They picked on the wrong Everyman! Greg Packer will not be not quoted. Especially by the Associated Press.   Patterico has the whole emotional saga. ... Update: Packer mourns Brooke Astor for us all.  The man cannot be stopped. [Tks. emailer LPM]... 1:25 A.M

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