We Are All Greg Packer

We Are All Greg Packer

We Are All Greg Packer

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 8 2007 4:43 AM

We Are All Greg Packer

Plus--Everything's up-to-date with OBL.

"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 ther 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 Dakota-style jurisdictions. ... 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. 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, of course, commentators who don't believe that had no business supporting the invasion of Iraq.) ... 1:14 A.M. link


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..


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



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.


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.



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.



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.


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


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.. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


"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.


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


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


Sunday, September, 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.


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


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Detroit's Cheap Dates? I'd have more confidence in two recent surveys showing high Toyota-level satisfaction with some of Detroit's automobiles if the domestic brands that rated highly--Buick, Cadillac, Lincoln-Mercury--weren't all car lines bought largely by geriatrics and stodgy daily drivers who might not demand much from their vehicles, and who therefore would a) have fewer reliability problems and b) have a low threshold of "satisfaction." .. Backfill: Here's GM's Bob Lutz claiming that the Buick and Cadillac showing was the fruit of GM spending money trying to give its cars "infinite life." And there's little doubt that Buick and Cadillac have done better than they used to do. The question is are they really as good as Lexus and Honda, or is the survey skewed by the.different sociological, etc., characteristics of their customers. ... 4:24 P.M. link


Smoking Gun from the Future:

Filed: 8/27/08 at 8:57:26 AM

On 8/26 at about 1200 hours I was working a plainclothes detail involving deviant conduct in the men's room at the Pepsi Center during the Democratic Convention. We had received civilian complaints of disorderly persons using this particular facility and had made several arrests.  

I entered the men's restroom and proceeded to an unoccupied stall in the back of the restroom. Other people were using the restroom for its intended purposes.While seated in the stall, I was the third stall from the wall (which was to the East). I observed suspect, a middle aged white male, enter the stall to my left and place his roller bag against the front of the stall door. 

At 1216 hours suspect tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal often used by persons wishing to criticize teachers' unions. Suspect tapped his toes several times and moved his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. 

At 1217 hours, I saw suspect swipe his hand under the divider for a few seconds, a possible sign of support for charter schools. Suspect repeated this motion again, from the front towards the back, and I could see more of his hand. Suspect then swiped his hand in the same motion for a third time. My experience has shown that this suggests an openness to publicly funded private school vouchers. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present.  This did not seem to deter the suspect. He began to whistle. Means-testing! I knew I had to take action. I slid my party credential under the divider and pointed to the exit.  When suspect tried to leave I handcuffed him and placed him against the wall.

Suspect denied all charges and claimed he was actually soliciting homosexual sex. He was immediately released.

4:04 A.M. link


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Case Against Gov. Rendell for V.P.: It's weak! ... Sample:

Not least, perhaps, of Rendell's liabilities for a national ticket, there are persistent questions about the ability of his lieutenant governor to take over the final two years of his term.

The strongest argument I can see against Rendell being the Dem's vice-presidential candidate is that he should be the presidential candidate. ... He's probably too outspoken and candid for a controlling personality like Hillary--another point in his favor. ... Rendell/Zinni '08. The bipartisan all-beef no-BS ticket. ...  [via The Corner] ... Update:Influence Peddler argues against Rendell on the grounds that  Pennsylvania doesn't swing. ... 10:16 P.M. link


Who Has to Try to Kill Themselves in this Town to Make the Front Page? I couldn't believe--just a few days after their prospective new owner gave them a lecture on how they had to give customers the news the customers wanted--that the editors of the L.A. Times would run the Owen Wilson suicide-attempt story on page B-3. And they didn't! They ran it on page B-4. A little box on B-1 features the riveting headline, "Actor hospitalized." ... Let's  see: A world-famous leading man actor, "one of Hollywood's top comedy stars," at the peak of his career, slits his wrists. ... In Los Angeles. ... Where movies are not just gossip material--they are what cars are to Detroit: the big local industry. Page B4! ... Once again, across the continent, with a three hour handicap, the New York Post had plenty of time to put a much better Owen Wilson story on its front page. ... I have run out of ways of saying that the LAT is a pathetic stuffy, faux-newspaper run by respectable liberal twits and doomed to die! Janet Clayton, the paper's well-connected, life-sapping AME, should grab an Annenberg School sinecure while she still can. ...

More: B-4 and After Emailer X notes another example from the past few days

When director John Singleton killed a pedestrian with his SUV, the news got buried in a squib on B4 in Saturday's paper. Even though the incident happened on Thursday evening and the newsroom had a full 24 hours to work on the story. [link added]

Be merciless, Zell. It's your only hope. 8:26 P.M. link


From the AP report on the latest poverty numbersshowing a drop in the poverty rate, mainly among the elderly:

The poverty numbers are good economic news at a time when financial markets have been rattled by a slumping housing market. However, the numbers released Tuesday represent economic conditions from a year ago. [E.A.]

Is there any reason to think the overall poverty numbers have gotten worse over the past year? Not really. We're not in a recession. ... No doubt the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities will come up with more sophisticated ways to make the mildly encouraging report seem like bad news. ... P.S.: Remember, when comparing the Bush numbers with the better numbers Clinton achieved at the end of the last decade, that the last part of the Clinton boom was based on an evanescent dot.com bubble. The current recovery is slower but presumably more solid. [You think the current mortgage mess/housing bubble isn't as big a deal as the dot.com bubble?--ed I think that.]  ... 10:50 A.M.


His Pet Gloat: I wish I could say Bill O'Reilly was wrong about  Paul Greengrass' Bourne Ultimatum being an anti-American film, but I saw it last weekend and O'Reilly's right. It's not just that the script plays on opposition to Bush anti-terror tactics--waterboarding, etc. Or that in a moment of calm hero Matt Damon utters maybe 15 of the 40 words he speaks in the film and explains that he's simply trying to apologize for ... well, the CIA's sins, or maybe America's. Just because you oppose waterboarding and believe the U.S. has a lot to apologize for doesn't make you anti-American. The problem is the film is unredeemed by any sense that America or the American government ever stands for or does anything that is right. It is a big hit overseas. ...

The film also made me feel guilty, because I watched Greengrass' United 93 and left convinced it was a searing indictment of Bush's behavior in the hours after 9/11. (Air controllers spend much of the film trying to locate the AWOL President so they can obtain an order to shoot down the hijacked jet.) I didn't know anything about Greengrass, and the film looked like it had been based on actual records by a meticulously dispassionate observer. But Greengrass' Bourne film undermines his credibility and retrospectively dissolves United 93'santi-Bush power. I don't trust anything the man makes. ... P.S.: Has Big Hollywood made a single non-anti-US post-9/11 film I missed? I can't remember one (aside from Team America: World Police, which was a self-mocking puppet cartoon).. ... And don't say World Trade Center. That passed up several potentially epic patriotic moments (e.g. the Dave Karnes story) in favor of a soggy tribute to the fraternity of New York transit cops. ... Next up: In the Valley of Elah, a well-made version of the Scott Beauchamp Story. ... Is it the international market that makes our studios behave this way? I sense an underserved domestic niche. ...

Update: Chris Orr disagrees  on Bourne. Yes, there is a Joan Allen character who says "This isn't us," and helps foil the the CIA's scheme. But she's a cardboard plot mechanism. The film's heart and energy go into depicting the evil U.S. bigwigs. There is no sense of who or what is "us." ... 1:44 A.M. link


Monday, August 27, 2007

Hung for a Sheep! Emailer P.R. has a logical suggestion for Florida, which is being punished by Howard Dean and the DNC with loss of its convention delegates for scheduling a primary on January 29, right after the Iowa and New Hampshire contests:

The Dems in Florida should go Howard Dean one better and just move themselves in front of Iowa and NH.  If their votes aren't going to count for a primary after those two, why not go all in and schedule a date before both.  That will completely nullify their "importance".  That threat alone might get their votes back! [E.A.]

Heck, why doesn't Florida moves its primary into November, 2007? I'm almost ready to vote now! It would be worth moving the start of voting up many, many months if it could kill the Iowa caucuses, which have been a proven disaster for the Dems. ... P.S.--The 200% Solution: Better yet, we could have two rounds of primaries. Start with a full roster of non-delegate-selecting "beauty contests" in 2007, including in the big states. This would winnow the field. Then, just about the time buyer's remorse sets in and we wonder if there's not a better candidate, we could have the second round of real, official, delegate-binding primaries. ...The candidates are already campaigning and debating as if its February, so this schedule couldn't mean that much more work for them. Reporters would love it--they'd get to write about twice as many elections. And the campaigns would probably run out of money, reducing the impact of expensive TV ads! ... Win-win-win. .... 1:27 A.M.


Zell's Big Dis: After apparent Tribune Company owner-to-be Sam Zell visited the L.A. Times  a week or so ago, Publisher-for-Now David Hiller sent a memo to the paper's staff  describing Zell as a"[h]igh energy straight-talking business owner" who "[b]elieves Los Angeles Times is very important and 'has a great future'." Kf hears Zell was rather more critical than that. In his talk to the assembled staffers, he said he found the paper "pretty bland." He pissed on the business section. He ran down the importance of foreign coverage as opposed to local news. Asked whether front-page ads compromised the integrity of the paper, he called that idea a "crock of shit."  He made a big point of saying the paper had to print what readers wanted to read, not what LAT editors wanted them to read--an idea that's pretty much in complete conflict with the existing DNA of the Times (which deemed L.A. mayor Hahn's divorce while he was in office not worth discussing, and reported Lindsay Lohan's arrest, after she mowed down some bushes in Beverly Hills, on page B3). All in all, Zell studded his spiel with bad omens for the paper's entrenched twits. ... P.S.: Whose account is more accurate--Hiller's or mine? There's an easy way to find out, since a video of Zell's talk was posted on the Times' internal network. Hiller could release it. ... 12:36 A.M. link


Sunday, August 26, 2007

What happened to East Tulsa? Casual empiricism from George Borjas, on vacation in the West, who notices a tightening and changing unskilled labor market. ... Q: How do the Albanians get here? ... P.S.: Like many observers, Borjas thinks Bush is probably cracking down on illegal immigration

expecting that people who are running out of workers will be knocking on the doors of Congressmen and Senators--who will then be prodded into action and approve the amnesty and guest worker programs that Bush has so much wanted for so many years.

Is Bush's expectation sound? I don't quite understand how tightness in one part of the labor market--with rising wages for those at the bottom--will necessarily create effective political demand for a complicated "comprehensive" reform. "My paycheck is getting bigger each week. Washington must end the gridlock and do something to stop it!"

Aren't the "good times" we remember fondly--e.g. the late '90s--times of tight labor markets? Is Bush assuming that the political forces that traditionally champion workers over businesses (e.g., Democrats) will do nothing to protect their constituents' interests? That middle class voters really don't care about the fate of the working poor, as long as the price of lettuce doesn't rise? That Democratic pols secretly don't want workers to prosper unless it's the direct result of a Democratic program? If those are Bush's expectations, they're extraordinarily cynical and revealing. I'm not sure they are realistic, though. ... P.P.S.: Didn't Kevin Drum and other leftish bloggers sneer when I suggested that rising unskilled wages were in the offing? I think they did! ... How much do the people who serve crow make? ... 1:16 P.M.


Stern Dean Action! A.P. reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Florida Democrats would forfeit their votes in selecting a presidential nominee unless they delay their state election by at least a week, the national party said in a stern action Saturday meant to discourage others from leapfrogging ahead to earlier dates.

E-mailer X writes:

so a big populous state has a choice between two alternatives:

a) an early primary that would be FAR more meaningful to the selection of the Democratic presidential nominee than the outcome of small-state caucus in IA or primary in NH


b) being told that their delegates will count at a meaningless Democratic Convention in August '08, long after the Democratic nominee has already been decided by small states like IA and NH

Which would you choose?

Good point. Florida probably has to at least pretend to care about its formal convention delegates, but if its party leaders want actual candidate-picking power then Howard Dean and the DNC are making Florida an offer it can easily refuse, no? ... Update: X's view is now the CW, having been echoed by the ABC This Week roundtable. ... But see the Miami Herald's surprisingly panicked (and therefore pro-DNC) take. ... 1:54 A.M.


"Social equality" (what I'd nominate as the goal of liberal politics) is not "community." And the web-based balkanization of popular culture--'Everyone used to watch Ed Sullivan but now they're talking only to fellow wine lovers,' etc.-- doesn't necessarily threaten social equality the way it threatens community. At least I try to make the case that it doesn't here. ... 1:20 A.M.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Saturn Spin: Why isn't the beautiful Pontiac Solstice selling as well as the less beautiful version of the same car, the Saturn Sky? The answer is that it's not not selling as well, though it would be hard to know that from the recent deceptive New York Times piece on the two vehicles. The truth is buried in this clunky passage:

Each of Pontiac's 2,700 dealers sells, on average, just over one Solstice every two months, while each of Saturn's 440 dealers sells about two of the Sky, which is produced in more limited numbers, every month. ...

So the Solstice actually outsells the Sky, and not by a small margin. (According to this sentence, Pontiac sells more than 1,350 Solstices a month, while Saturn sells "about" 880 Skys.) This is a realization the piece's author, the aptly named Nick Bunkley, is apparently trying to prevent. Why couldn't he just give the straight sales figures for each model? Because it would get in the way of his narrative, which is that Pontiac is a "damaged" brand compared with Saturn. ... In fact, if Saturn sales are "up 15 percent" this year, that seems like really bad news for Saturn. Given the major (and apparently quite good) new products they've recently introduced--the Aura sedan, the Vue and Outlook SUVs--I expected sales to be up much more than 15%. So did Bob Lutz, I bet. ...

P.S.: One reason the Solstice's sales might have cooled is that buyers have now read Consumer Reports reliability rating for the car. It's  "far below average."   ... 2:08 A.M.


I'm suspicious of stories in which the Border Patrol boasts that its crackdown on illegal immigration is working--a) agencies like to boast; b) Bush would like to declare a quick success so he can make another run at "comprehensive" semi-amnesty before he leaves office; c) if Bush and the Border Patrol can use claims of success as an excuse not to build the fence. ... Still, this A.P. report  could be true!

Mexican shelters, usually the last stop for northbound migrants, are filling with southbound deportees. Fewer migrants are crossing in the wind-swept deserts along an increasingly fortified border. Far to the north, fields are empty at harvest time as workplace raids become more common.

Mexicans are increasingly giving up on the American dream and staying home ...

 P.S.: Did President Bush really say, at a town hall meeting a few weeks after his "comprehensive" reform failed in the Senate,

"I can make you a prediction, though, that pretty shortly people are going to be knocking on people's doors saying `Man we're running out of workers' ... " [ E.A. ]

Apparently, he did. That should have been a tipoff to his "You Asked For It, Yahoos!" strategy. ...

P.P.S.: Did White House press secretary Tony Snow really say, in late 2006:

[T]he fence is going to be built. I mean, we've already made a committment to that.

He did.  In fact, he promised Hugh Hewitt "certainly, more than a hundred miles" by November, 2008. So far, they've built 15, according to the L.A. Times. ... 1:37 A.M.


The Eagles new single, "How Long," was much better in the original Longbranch Pennywhistle version (from the late 1960s). I have it around here somewhere. ... 1:35 A.M.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Sneer O' the Day: Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel, lecturing the yahoos  on how their "immigrant-bashing" hurts Republicans politically:

Here's some math for the numerically challenged at certain GOP campaigns:[**] Bob Dole got 26% support from the Hispanic community and lost. George Bush in 2000 got in the mid-30s and barely made it to the White House. By 2004, the president had increased his share of that vote to close to 44%, and won decisively. That's because while Hispanics make up only about 7% to 8% of the vote nationally, they have far larger constituencies in key swing states. If Mr. Bush hadn't wooed them in Nevada this past election, John Kerry would now be running for a second term.

Emphasis added. ...Hard to see what the numerically challenged can say in response. ... Oh, wait. Didn't Bush win the presidency with 286 electoral votes to Kerry's 252? So if Bush had alienated Nevada Hispanics and lost the state, which has 5 electoral votes, he'd ... still have won the presidency by 281 to 257. ...

P.S.: Strassel thinks that Giuliani and Romney are being so tough on immigration that they will be open in the general election to ads on "Spanish language TV ... which will point out how hard certain Republicans fought against the recent immigration reform." It seems to me there's at least as great a danger that Giuliani, by preserving his support for a mass semi-amnesty, will give Hillary Clinton an opportunity to get to his "right" on the issue in the general and win over, or at least neutralize, some normally-GOP voters (just as Bill Clinton succeeded by getting to George H.W. Bush's right on welfare). Hillary's made anti-illegal noises before, remember....  [Thanks to reader S.M.]

**--Is there an emoticon for "could I be any more obnoxiously condescending?"? ... 2:20 P.M.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Alert reader R.M. emails to resolve the Dead Elvis mystery--i.e.,why People magazine only gave him two paragraphs when he died:

You're half right about Elvis and people. Richard Stolley gave a (fascinating) talk describing his career at Columbia in 2000 in which he described how, when told that Elvis died, didn't think anyone cared about him anymore and decided to note it breifly rather than tear up the magazine. However, the response to the death over the next few days convinced him he'd made a terrible, terrible mistake. He vowed not to repeat the mistake and, thus, those Dead People issues were born.

Elvis was no longer a big deal in some circles, but he was in other, well-populated sectors. This scenario--the media elites not caring about Elvis, but then why are all those people going to Memphis?--reinforces the point  that the culture of celebrity is an organic, populist (and pre-Diana) phenomenon and not a recent, top-down corporate trick. That makes it harder to denounce. ... P.S.: But it apparently wasn't only the media elites that didn't care about Elvis. Dan Riehl remembers:

I've never forgotten the night Elvis died, not because I'm an Elviphile, but because I was in a dance club in Seaside, NJ when the DJ stopped the music long enough to announce it and the assorted John Travolta wannabes, Barry Gibb poseurs and their babes all started to boo and hiss. Within seconds Donna Summer, or maybe the Star Wars theme re-mix, or perhaps it was the Latin Hustle was again incessantly and inanely pounding its way out of the sound system.

I suspect the Elvis divide was more of a North/South, 60's generation vs. 50s generation thing. But even mystical 60s god Bob Dylan fell into semi-obscurity at one point-- if I remember, he was reduced to playing Washington-area amusement parks. (Not a bad gig now, I guess.) .... 6:42 P.M.


Kate O'Beirnecracks the Giuliani code on immigration. ... 6:14 P.M.


Educating Mr. Wright: Man, it is a tough job, but somebody's got to bring these eggheads up to speed. ... 6:09 P.M.


Mrs. Russert Blogs: Maureen Orth notes that "Elvis's death in 1977 rated two paragraphs in People Magazine."  But, if memory serves, that's not entirely because the culture of celebrity wasn't well-developed back then (Orth's point). It's because in 1977 Elvis was not such a big deal. ... P.S.:  Why isn't Orth blogging for HuffPo? Memo to Arianna:She seems like a natural fit. Memo to Orth: It's not bloggy to let a few little disagreements get in the way of mutually beneficial traffic-sharing. Enmity is so print. The Web's win-win! ... There, I've brought them together.... 12:56 A.M.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Orwell on Offense: Andrew Sullivan  excoriates pundits  who exhibited "spectacular misjudgment about the war in Iraq," something that he says "should consign the author to irrelevance." Fair enough. ** [But Sullivan excludes anyone who "explicitly explained why he was wrong and apologized," and  Sullivan has apologized, abjectly--ed. Lucky for Sullivan that apology loophole got in there! But, as old saying goes: 'A man who apologizes abjectly for spectacular misjudgment in the past will probably apologize abjectly for spectacular misjudgment in the future." ] ... P.S.: Victor Davis Hanson responds effectively to Sullivan's blast. ... Dean Barnett notes that, in the course of defending the New Republic against Hanson, Sullivan calls Scott Thomas Beauchamp is a "fabulist." ...

**--Mr. Excitable! "At this point, it seems to me that a refusal to extend the war to Iraq is not even an option. We have to extend it to Iraq," A. Sullivan, October 17, 2001  ... [via handy PJM blog reaction page9:21 P.M. link  


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

NSFKF: I've been looking for the fabled "darker postings"  of now-fired, cease-and-desist-lettered  New Republic leaker Robert McGee, but I haven't been able to find them. Maybe they don't exist! ... The best I can do is a now-unlinked blog reference  to an "interview with Jeff Gannon's penis." But really, doesn't everyone's penis blog these days? ...

Update: That  unlinked interview is available via the Wayback Machine. [Tks. to reader G.M.] ...

Oh, wait ... : Yikes.  Definitely NSFW. ... Those kids!  ... I still don't think that just because someone "maintain[s] a porn blog" it's OK for The New Republic to try to muzzle him. ... 11:07 P.M. link


One reason blogging has been light is that I seem to be going through a period where I have no thoughts that aren't deadweight Conventional Wisdom. I hope this phase passes. But it hasn't yet. Case in point: I think Barack Obama's recent misstatements have revealed a potentially alarming lack of experience!  Hendrik Hertzberg heroically attempts to explain Obama's talk-to-Castro-without-preconditions gaffe, for example, but it still seems mildly troubling that Obama misspoke when he could have made exactly the same point --that we shouldn't treat negotiations as a "reward"--without creating a pointless mini-kerfuffle. Especially since, as Noam Askew points out, Obama appears to have been prepared for the exact question in advance. JFK would not have made that sort of mistake in phrasing. . ... 10:25 P.M.


Have you any apples in that basket? Sen. Specter is now explicitly adopting the Leninist contradiction-heightening interpretation of the new Homeland Security illegal-immigrant crackdown:

 [Specter] noted a Senate colleague's prediction that the crackdown would mean, ""These crops are going to rot in the fields,'' and said "When we go back in September, we may find a near panic situation . . . and people are going to start to say what's the best deal we can make.'' [E.A.]

The New York Times, meanwhile, sends Lisa Foderaro out to find apples rotting on the trees, but so far she is only able to report "new fears" of a labor shortage.

For now, both [Hudson Valley applegrowers] Mr. Crist and Mr. Roe say they have enough pickers for the initial harvest. Workers are now plucking Ginger Golds, one of the first varieties to ripen, and placing them in wooden bins that each hold 2,000 to 3,000 apples.

Sigh. ... Can't Essential Worker Immigration Coalition come up with a pile of rotting fruit somewhere? ...

P.S.: Apple picking is one area where the impact of actually enforcing the immigration laws can't be reduced by applying them only to "new" hires. The apple pickers are hired anew each season, apparently, and would be caught up in any effective new-hire screening. One possible solution is the existing agricultural guest-worker program, which the administration has pledged to streamline. The other obvious possible solution, should crops start rotting, is ... lax enforcement (or, if you prefer, prosecutorial discretion). It's not true, contrary to DHS Secretary Chertoff's claims, that one of the "consequences" of Congress not passing Bush's semi-amnesty plan was a panic-producing crackdown.  DHS could have kept doing what it had been doing, which is letting farmers hire the workers they needed to pick the crops while it concentrated on border security and industries where a supply of domestic workers (maybe at higher wages) was available. If there is a crop-rot-panic, it will almost by definition be intentionally induced by Chertoff. ...

P.P.S.: Selective loose enforcement isn't amnesty. It's selective loose enforcement. Looking the other way on occasion--while cracking down in other areas and building up alternative, legal sources of labor--isn't the same incentive to further illegal immigration as granting a formal path to legality and citizenship. ... 9:31 P.M. link


New Honda Accord: Unimaginative BMW 5-series/3-series ripoff--but BMW's lugubrious Banglish shapes have been sanitized. A focus group car. (Automotive focus groups, like political focus groups, seem to pick familiar, uninspired designs.) ... 10:31 A.M. 


Monday, August 20, 2007

Rasmussen: "By a 56% to 31% margin, voters want the government to continue building a fence along the Mexican border. " But do they know about the stranded jaguars? ... P.S.: I don't quite see how Rudy Giuliani's ID-card for foreigners will work. How are people supposed to know that someone is a foreigner in the first place (in order to require the ID card)? Won't illegal immigrants simply forego the ID card and pose as non-foreigners?  Of course, by applying for the ID card illegals would apparently qualify for the Giuliani semi-amnesty program, which seems to differ only in detail from the Bush semi-amnesty program. ... Buried Lede: Why is Mitt Romney attacking Giuliani on the relatively complicated issue of whether New York is a "sanctuary" city, when he could attack Giuliani straight up for proposing a Mccain-like semi-amnesty that would give citizenship to illegals? Isn't support for amnesty sort of a death sentence in the Republican presidential primary? ....

Update: Kate O'Beirne thinks along the same lines regarding "sanctuary cities", only  more so. ... 4:44 P.M. link


TNR Gags Its Leaker: Richard Miniter of Pajamas Media reports that The New Republic sent a "cease and desist order" to now-fired publisher's assistant Robert McGee, who leaked tidbits about the Scott Thomas Beauchamp controversy to various blogs (and gave an interview to Pajamas). Assuming Miniter's report is accurate, I don't quite understand the legal basis for TNR restraining McGee. Did McGee sign a confidentiality agreement (maybe because he worked on the business side of the magazine)? Was the letter restricted to leaks of confidential business information, leaving McGee free to talk about editorial-side issues? Or is TNR claiming some general fiduciary duty of employees not to discuss any internal matters? Will it send a cease and desist letter to Marty Peretz when he writes his memoirs? .. Even if there is a solid legal basis for  the letter--if the letter, for example, only forcefuly reminded McGee of his general responsibilities under the laws of libel--isn't it a bit much that the magazine would resort to this tactic? Judging from Miniter's account, McGee doesn't even have all that much damaging to report (e.g., TNR editor Franklin Foer "sounded almost rehearsed" at an office party).  If McGee's not telling the truth or isn't credible, that is more likely to come out if TNR lets him speak. ... More important, publications like TNR rely on individuals in large organizations--like, say, the U.S. Army--who are willing to blab about what they know (and, indeed, the magazine called  on the Army to let Beauchamp talk to them when they believed he was being restrained.)  I would think TNR's position would be that openness should be the rule.  ...  10:49 A.M. link




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