John Edwards gets dry feet.

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 24 2007 7:21 PM

John Edwards Gets Dry Feet

Note to GQ's editor: It's OK to clash!

First rule of Today's GQ Man: Be a wuss! Josh Green is an excellent magazine writer, so his piece on Hillary 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 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. ... 4:04 P.M.

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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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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 40 m.p.g. It could get 30 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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Friday, September 7, 2007

"Snore-y and Stinky": Michelle Obama maybe doesn't need to worry so much anymore that her husband will become a god-like figure  requiring her unique humanizing skills. He's losing by 15 pointsin the Democratic party to someone who voted for the war and hasn't apologized. ... P.S.: Why's Mrs. Obama so angry again? People will speculate. ... 4:58 P.M.

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Osama Bin-Laden on "real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes." He's ready for the Iowa caucuses. But where does he stand on Davis-Bacon? ... 2:14 P.M.

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Craig not only opposes gay marriage, he's in a heterosexual marriage with kids. Talk about walking the walk!

Good point. He's not just a non-hypocritical on the gay marriage front, but almost heroically non-hypocritical. Even Bob Wright agrees .. well, sort of. ... 1:41 P.M.

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Back in April, Eli Lake argued that Gen. Petraeus could be relied on for an honest report on the surge--he's become so prominent, and the war so unpopular, that if he decided the surge had failed a) Bush couldn't fire him and continue the strategy and b) Petraeus would become a hero to the anti-war half of the country with a bright political future. ... I don't think it's quite that simple--Petraeus would have to admit that it was his strategy that was failing. But it's worth keeping in mind. Careerism doesn't necessarily conflict with honesty in this case, because Petraeus doesn't necessarily need to please Bush or his superiors to continue his career.. ... 1:18 P.M.

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The B-List is the A-List: One of Fred Thompson's virtues is that he's not that big a star, argues Bill Bradley--and not a movie star:

He's not really a movie star, more a movie presence, but he is definitely a TV star. Of course a really big movie star in a political campaign can be overwhelming. Fred Thompson is a strong presence in Red October. Sean Connery is a blow-the-doors off presence. I can't imagine someone like Connery running for public office. Even Arnold [Schwarzenegger] with his years of selling restaurants and fitness and all that was still way too hot at times early on, especially when he did his shakedown cruise for a future run in 2002, with his Proposition 49 after-school programs initiative.

Telling a conservative magazine writer that he has "a shitty body," as Schwarzenegger did in that campaign, is generally not a good idea for an aspiring big-time politician. But that was Arnold. Really big movie stars have an air of danger about them, of mystery, be it physical, sexual, psychological. They're compelling up on the big screen. But a regular diet can be too much.

Ronald Reagan was fortunate in that he was not a big movie star. There was nothing scary about his cinematic persona.

1:11 P.M. link

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Steve Smith persuasively refutes Richard Blair's argument that the 2005 bankruptcy reform sparked the subprime mortgage crunch by denying debtors a chance to avoid foreclosure. (It turns out the new law doesn't offer fewer anti-foreclosure protections than the old law.) But Smith doesn't address Megan McArdle's scenario, in which the 2005 reform fueled the housing bubble by a) shrinking the credit card market by making it more dangerous and less desirable to run up credit card debt, and b) sending more money into the mortgage lending market precisely because mortgage debtors' remedies were unchanged (and therefore they were still willing to borrow against their homes). ... P.S.: I still suspect that the failure of immigration reform had something to do with the credit crunch--not because it was illegal immigrants defaulting on those mortgages, but because with lower prospective immigration the long-term value of all housing fell, making everyone's collateral worth less and lenders more reluctant to provide money secured by that collateral. How's that wrong?... 12:01 A.M.. link

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Some days you feel like Tony Perkins in Winter Kills:  Well-connected, life-sapping state and local news editor Janet Clayton  out at LAT.  ... Post post ergo propter post. ... 7:32 P.M.

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Now they come with the news judgment ... :  L.A. Times "Styles & Scenes" reporter Elizabeth Snead attended the glamorous Slate V launch party last night, but for some reason decided to write about a naked "High School Musical" actress instead. ... 7:14 P.M.

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Ron Burkle makes a brief-but-resonant appearance in Matt Smith's anti-Gavin Newsom comic strip  (which would have been better if it had stopped after the first 6 panels). ... 1:52 A.M.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It looks as if Gov. Schwarzenegger is on the verge of achieving one of his big systemic reforms, an end to gerrymandered legislative districts. Instead, an independent citizens' commission would draw the lines. National precedent potential! According to New West Notes, the state's entrenched Dem legislators are on board (in exchange for a relaxation of term limits). The only person who could stop this badly-needed good-government (and nationally pro-Democratic) plan is ... Nancy Pelosi. She's reported to be "wary of changing anything in the mix that has given her a narrow majority in Congress"--even though, if more Congressional districts were competitive, that would give Pelosi a bigger majority in a Democratic year, which 2008 looks to be. .... 5:11 P.M.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Who's the most worrisome Hillary advisor? Holbrooke? Remember, Ira Magaziner is still lurking around. (He's at the Clinton Foundation.) ... 10:15 P.M.

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huge percentages of GOP voters indicated they were not satisfied with the current GOP crop. In the Diageo/Hotline poll released just days ago, barely half (54%) of all GOP voters were satisfied with the current crop of GOP candidates with fully 38% not satisfied. This dissatisfaction creates fluidity which creates opportunity for an authentic conservative like Fred Thompson. [E.A.]

Unfortunately for Thompson, he was listed in the Diageo/Hotline poll  as one of the crop of GOP candidates GOP voters were presumably dissatisfied with, Ryan Sager notes. ... 9:32 P.M.

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PoliPundit has a useful report on state immigration enforcement efforts. Georgia's new car-tag requirement seems to be effective (e.g., illegals "'going back to Mexico'") in a manner that doesn't push my compassion button the way, say, rousting existing veteran employees from their places of work would. Maybe that's because the car tag law denies only new registrations to those who can't produce a valid state drivers' license--affecting the mainly the most transient, least rooted illegals (e.g., those who've just arrived in town and haven't got a car yet). ... 1:10 A.M.

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"The "Ethnic Cleansing of Baghdad is Complete": If that headline were accurate (and if I remember right it was originally Newsweek's phrase, not HuffPo's) it wouldn't be such bad news, at least for the U.S.. If the Sunnis really had been cleaned out of Baghdad, that would mean we could leave without having to worry that Sunnis in Baghdad would be slaughtered, right? Unfortunately, the hed's not accurate. The actual Newsweek story reports  that the cleansing of Baghdad is still proceeding, with Shiites pushing out Sunnis. "'More than half'" of Baghdad neighborhoods are now "Shiite-dominated," says a Newsweek source. ... Hmm. Does that stat even support the magazine's conclusion that the Shiites have "essentially won"? ... P.S.: What's not clear to me is the degree and pattern of ethnic cleansing that would be needed for the U.S.to leave behind a stable Sunni-Shiite balance of power that wouldn't descend into slaughter. Does the Sunni population of Baghdad have to go down to near 0%? Or would a checkerboard of armed, ethnically homogenous Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods be a stably defensible de facto partition? I hope General Petraeus knows the answers, and is shaping the results of the surge to produce this sort of rough balance of power (as opposed to the loftier goal of mixed neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shiites live in peace and mutual respect, desirable as that would be). ... P.P.S.: 'Balance of power' is why arming the Anbar Sunnis, as we've apparently done, does not seem necessarily a recipe for greater post-drawdown bloodshed. Isn't it possible that if Sunni tribes have enough firepower to deter Shiites, the two sides would reach some sort of detente? ... 12:33 A.M.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Let me get this straight: Owen Wilson tries to kill himself and it's "KATE'S NIGHTMARE"?That's the cover line in  US Weekly. The story inside tries pathetically to give the impression that Wilson's despair was somehow linked to the June end of his brief romance with Kate Hudson. He had, US notes, "abruptly cancelled a planned visit to see her" on a set in Australia last year! Instead, he "was spotted partying at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills"! That was the beginning of "the actor's downward spiral"! .... Or it was, you know, the behavior of a guy who was about to break up with his girlfriend in Australia. ... Either US Weekly thinks we are fools or Kate Hudson has some very aggressive and tasteless publicity people. Or both. ... P.S.: I still refuse to believe that anybody is that interested in Kate Hudson. She's the new Minnie Driver! 10:50 P.M. link

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Pecker Trouble: N.Y. Post's Keith Kelly speculates that, thanks to the bad financial results reported by tabloid-owner American Media (and its aptly-named CEO, David Pecker), "merger talks with billionaire investor Ron Burkle and his Source Interlink Cos. may now be in jeopardy." That seems to assume that Burkle's interest in buying up the tabs is economic. I suspect it's political, and would bet on the merger happening. ... P.S.: Is Burkle foolish enough to think he can bottle up any zippy Bill Clinton stories just by buying the National Enquirer, et. al? If not, would he want to own the tabs because ... well, the best defense is a good offense? ... [Kelly makes it clear Burkle has to get Wall Street to fund much of the deal.--ed. That's just haggling. Hard to believe that he can't make it worth their while.] ... [Emphasis added.] .... 5:28 P.M. link

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Take All the Time You Want, Your Honor: At last, an honest lede:

A federal judge in San Francisco yesterday temporarily barred the Department of Homeland Security from carrying out new rules to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants, dealing a legal setback to the Bush administration's effort to get crops to rot in the fields as part of a Leninist 'worse-is-better' strategy designed to provoke calls from businesses for a semi-amnesty of illegal immigrant workers.

OK, someone at kf may have fiddled with the end bit. But it was in the interests of accuracy! Bush's comprehensivist ally Tamar Jacoby made the crisis-inducing strategy quite explicit in an LAT op-ed recently:

For several years now, tougher border enforcement, plus competition from higher-paying hospitality and construction jobs, have deprived farmers in California and other states of the foreign workers they need to plant and harvest their crops.

The crisis peaks every year in August and September, and the photos start showing up in the newspapers: piles of rotting pears, strawberry plants choked by weeds, unpicked cucumbers grown to monstrous sizes and melons oozing in the fields. ...[snip]

This economic crunch could have a silver lining -- it might grab the public's attention and generate an outcry for better laws. Millions of Americans who think we don't need immigrant workers might wise up. Politicians who opposed immigration reform this year or last might have a change of heart.

Maybe it's not such a bad thing if the ACLU and AFL-CIO lawyers hold up the Homeland Security crackdown for a while (as long as they ultimately lose): 1) That probably delays any labor crisis the Bushies might be able to induce, putting it past the harvest "crunch" and generally shortening the 2008 window during which crisis-provoked employer pressure might revive calls for legalization; 2) It makes it completely clear thatany employer sanctions--even those contained in a comprehensivist "Grand Bargain" of amnesty + enforcement--will be litigated to death by the ACLU et al, which will claim "errors in the Social Security Administration's database" and "discrimination against Hispanic workers." That's exactly why opponents of the Grand Bargain feared the amnesty part would take effect while the enforcement part would get bogged down in the courts just as the administration's crackdown is now getting bogged down in the courts.

A period of no acute worker shortage during which the illegal immigration flow is reduced and the labor market gradually tightens, with anti-comprehensive types instructively battling in the courts and elsewhere to preserve the government's ability to enforce the law against the complaints of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition and other pro-comprehensive groups--that's not a bad posture for opponents of Bush's plan to take into the 2008 election. ... P.S.: It's one reason why I won't be making Polipundit's phone calls.  ... 1:50 A.M.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

kf is Stupid: Campaign Finance Edition:  America Coming Together was a political fizzle--the pro-Dem "527" group that raised $137 million to little apparent effect in the 2004 election.  But I don't understand why what ACT did could be prohibited by the federal campaign laws--just as I don't understand why what MoveOn.com did or the SwiftBoat Vets did could be made illegal.

These were all independent expenditures--that is, speech and political activity undertaken outside the control and direction of the actual candidates. I thought the whole (persuasive) premise of the Supreme Court's big 1976 campaign finance ruling in Buckley vs. Valeo was that contributions to candidates could be regulated but that independent expenditures were presumptively protected speech. If I want to spend $5,001 telling voters to vote against Bush--as, in fact, I probably did, if you count in-kind contributions--isn't that what political speech is all about? The same goes for George Soros and Steve Bing (big funders of ACT or its affiliates). And for whoever funded the Swifties to defeat Kerry.

The principled argument here is that people should generally be free to say what they want and engage in whatever political activity they want. The practical hope is that big money that isn't given to a candidate but is spent by outsiders without consulting the candidate is apt to be spent counterproductively--emphasizing themes the candidate would rather not bring up. The Soros-backed Media Fund, for example, didn't run the ads defending Kerry that the Kerry campaign would have wanted it to run. That means that if we let rich meddlers like Soros spend millions they are almost as likely to buy the hostility of the pols they are trying to support as they are to buy those pols loyalty--as long as they don't "coordinate" that spending with the actual, official campaign.

The Federal Election Commission  specifically says its investigation "uncovered no evidence of coordination" between ACT and the Kerry campaign." But the F.E.C .negotiated a $775,000 fine with ACT anyway, apparently on the grounds that it was illegal for the group to spend unregulated contributions (in excess of $5,000 per individual) on the "express advocacy" of Bush's defeat. Reaction--even from Instapundit--focused on the fine being  "too late and too small"  to have any effect at deterring future ACTs. I'd say the controversy is whether ACT should be fined at all.

Luckily the law isn't what the F.E.C. says just because the F.E.C. settles a case and crows about it. This appears to be an open question for the Supreme Court to decide.

P.S.: Would I favor regulating independent expenditures if principle and practice conflicted--i.e., if it could be shown these expenditures were almost always hugely effective at elected the candidates they were trying to elect? Good question. The only way to find out if the question needs to be answered is to let independent expenditures flourish and see what happens, no?So far, it looks as if they are an exceedingly unreliable way for the wealthy to buy political influence--and the Soros/Kerry/ACT/ Media Fund fizzle is Exhibit A for that argument. But if the F.E.C .is allowed to clamp down on independent expenditures** on a case-by-case basis--which is what a federal judge allowed yesterday--we may never find out the for sure.

**--Except by people like me, of course. I'm press! Nyah, nyah. ...

Update: Conservative Byron York of National Review  celebrates the F.E.C. fine by republishing his 2005 account  of ACT's various shenaningans. But does York believe in campaign finance regulation? If, like most conservative analysts,York thinks it should be OK for the rich to use their money to independently advocate specific candidates, shouldn't he be defending ACT instead of complaining that the fine is "[y]ears too late"? Most of the ACT shenanigans York identifies, after all--attributing lots of money to expenses for "nonfederal" races,  for example--are tricks to get around restrictions on federal "express advocacy" that most National Review types don't think should exist in the first place. "[O]penly flouting the rules" isn't so bad when the rules are unconstitutional. ... 3:34 P.M. link

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