Hillary Needs Edwards

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 29 2007 7:20 PM

Hillary Needs Edwards

Plus--The Three Surges

Sorry, E.J.: Rasmussen says the "Dream Act" is a 59%-22% loser with the public. His robo-poll question's wording seems neutral enough:

Should children of illegal immigrants be given legal status if they complete two years of college or military service?

3:17 P.M.

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Red Sox Sweep: Another blow to my favorite defunct unknown lo-fi indie group, In-Flight Movie, whose pre-2004 signature song "Joseph Cotten"  was premised on a continuing curse. ... P.S.: It's still good! Builds to a rhetorical climax. ... 2:18 P.M.

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A political reporter for leading news web site emails to suggest that Slate's John Dickerson was righter than I'd thought about Fred Thompson:

Based on the speech Saturday night, his campaign is already dead and someone forget to inform him and Jeri. It was as vacuous and lifeless as it could have been. Astoundingly bad. "Sound common sense conservative principles" but no call to action, no memorable lines whatsoever.

While the speech was more forcefully delivered than other recent Thompson appearances, it was also a vintage example of his Hound Dog Macho. The slow-talking, 6-foot-5, late-starting candidate hulked over the lectern and began with this self-deprecating riff, "All of you men out there enjoying a full head of hair -- enjoy it while you can."

There was little memorable in the address that followed ... The Des Moines Register only quoted Thompson's attempt to ballyhoo his right-from-the-start credentials: "I was a conservative yesterday, my friends. I am a conservative today. And I will be a conservative tomorrow."

Watching Thompson Saturday night, I realized how old-fashioned his podium style and his mannerisms are as a candidate. He sounded like a long-ago Southern senator from Central Casting ...

Thompson is a work in progress, a candidate who has yet to test his theoretical appeal through sustained personal campaigning.

I'm sticking with 'the door is still open.' ... 1: 47 P.M. link

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In 1996, its pregnancy rate for [females age 15-19] was 164.5 per 1,000. Appalled by the triple digits, a coalition of nonprofit groups and city agencies began reaching out to various communities, holding public discussions and trying to teach parents how to talk to their children about love, sex and relationships. ... Advocates vowed to reduce the rate to the mid-70s by 2005. Instead, as statistics released this month show, it plunged to 64.4. [E.A]

Did something happen in 1996? Might be worth mentioning! Not to take anything away from "coalitions of non-profit groups ... reaching out," but one of the post-1996 things they could "teach parents" to tell their children was "welfare won't necessarily be there for you if you have a baby." (Though I suspect parents didn't need "advocates" to learn that.) ... 7:11 A.M.

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I just ran into a reader who couldn't figure out how to bookmark this blog. The best permanent bookmark is still www.kausfiles.com  ... 3:09 A.M.

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HuffPo's Thomas Edsall reports that Hillary is going to try to knock Obama out in Iowa, where she currently holds a narrow plurality lead in the RCP average of polls  with about 28% of the vote. This means she really needs Edwards in the race to split the anti-Hillary vote. If you make the extreme assumption that the Obama (24%) and Edwards (21%) votes are all anti-Hillary votes, then she'd currently lose to a Unified Anti-Hillary Candidate 10-15 points. ... [Couldn't you just as well say she needs Obama in the race?--ed I guess I could. I don't know why I put it that way!] ...  1:40 A.M.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Op-ed piece waiting to happen--The Three Surges: Will three surges late in his term salavage Bush's presidency? 1) Petraeus' 'surge' in Iraq; 2) Bernanke's rate-cutting liquidity surge to prevent the economy from sliding into recession; 3) The new border enforcement surge, which might tighten the unskilled labor market so the economy looks good from the bottom as well as the top (and save Bush from whiffing completely on a signature issue)? .. It's a hack construct, but somebody's got to do it! ... Assigned to: George Will, David Gergen, David Brooks, David Ignatius, all the Davids. ... [link via Drudge] 2:27 P.M. link

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McCain's Governor Gambit: According to Powerline, John McCain told a blogger conference call

that he would have voted against cloture [for the DREAM immigrant legalization bill] because he "got the message" this summer that Americans want the border secured before we "go on to the rest." McCain would deem parts of the border secure when the governor of the relevant state so certifies. [E.A.]

But if--as border fence opponents constantly remind us-- nearly half of illegal immigrants are here because they overstay visas, not because they sneak cross the border, why should the governors of border states be the ones who decide if the borders are secure? ... Who would propose such an illogical arrangement? a) A candidate who wants the borders declared "secure" as quickly as possible, whether illegal immigration has actually been curtailed or not?  b) A candidate who wants the borders declared "secure" as quickly as possible and knows border state governors who have large Hispanic constituencies (e.g. Bill Richardson) are likely to do that? c) A candidate who not-so-secretly thinks the Americans who gave him the "message" this summer are yahoo idiots who identify illegal immigration only with the Mexican border? ... Multiple answers are accepted. ... P.S.: I'm continually amazed by the Cheap Date Conservatives I run into who think McCain has somehow convincingly changed on immigration. ... 2:27 A.M. link

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Saw the movie Michael Clayton last week. It did not present a realistically scary picture of modern American corporate culture. (Do you really think lawyers would kill for, say, Monsanto? I don't.) On the other hand, this is a truly terrifying picture of modern American corporate culture. ... 1:07 A.M.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

In case you missed Joe Wilson's assh .... I mean, Joe Wilson's Joe Wilson moment on 60 Minutes:

Mr. JOE WILSON: It was a Mafia-like tactic. And the idea of going after your family, even in Washington, was an outrage. Nobody went after Karl Rove's family, nobody went after "Scooter" Libby's family. They went after my family.

COURIC: In all fairness, Karl Rove's wife doesn't work for the CIA.

Mr. WILSON: How do you know?

COURIC: "Scooter" Libby's wife doesn't...

Mr. WILSON: How do you know?

COURIC: ...work for the CIA.

Mr. WILSON: How do you know? How do you know?

COURIC: I don't know for sure.

Mr. WILSON: Yeah, you don't know.

COURIC: But I think it's a safe assumption.

P.S.: It's a safe assumption because it would naturally have come out by now, even in the ordinary natural course of Internet-driven gossip about Rove. That's why Wilson should have known that when he wrote his op-ed piece that it would probably result in the outing of his wife. He's angry because, at some level, he knows he's guilty. ... Bonus: Joe Biden's James Watson moment? ...  10:46 P.M.

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Let's see Al Gore III get this over 100: Here's  what the Scion xB should have looked like. ... Weird and threatening in a way that could become endearing. ...P.S.: It's a plug-in hybrid. ... 7:47 P.M.

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Can Iowa County Chairmen be wrong? I'm all for anecdotal evidence, but my colleague John Dickerson's case for why Fred Thompson has "about a week to save" ** his campaign seems awfully thin, consisting mainly of one disgruntled Iowa County chair (and another who says ambiguously that Thompson "may be a disappointment"). This in a week in which Thompson unveiled a tough, detailed  anti-legalization immigration plan that was anything but "muddled." Given the shaky Giuliani and Romney positions on this salient issue (and McCain's prior diametrically opposed stance), I smell traction potential! ... P.S.:Slate's own poll chart shows Thompson continuing to gain in Iowa  and zooming ahead in South Carolina.. But, hey, he has one week! ...

**--This is a quote from the absurd Slate headline to Dickerson's piece. Dickerson himself says "a door feels like it's closing for Thompson." ...

Update: Jay Cost suggests that Thompson's doing badly in the "perpetual campaign"--the daily news cycle the professionals and pundits and the MSM pay attention to--but doing OK in the "real campaign" for voters. That gets close to my complaint about Dickerson's door-is-closing conclusion (as well as Slate's hyped-up heds). True, Dickerson's not reporting the CW buzz in Mark Halperin's "Gang of 500"--he's reporting real buzz among real people in primary states outside the Beltway. But he's applying a political cadre's accelerated and narrowed set of expectations (e.g., who's winning over the people who show up at events now). I just don't believe that Iowa county chairpersons know today which way the actual mass of voters is going to jump two months from now--or that the actual mass of voters knows. Even if they're madly buzzing about Huckabee this week.  If anything, the Feiler Faster Thesis  suggests that it's possible to pack more drama into a two month period than it was in previous campaigns--meaning a candidate like Thompson has, in effect, more time to make up for missed opportunities. At some point, for example, conservative voters may actually compare Huckabee's immigration views with Thompson's! Crazy, I know. But certainly the door is open. ...

More-- Nostradamus speaks! As if to provide parodic grist for Cost, Weekly Standard'sFred Barnes doesn't even give Thompson a week, writing him off  because a) he hasn't raised enough money yet and b) Frank Luntz's focus groups 'liked him 'but they don't see the passion.'" ... In other words, because Thompson hasn't already sealed the deal with conservatives, Reagan-style, he hasn't produced a "credible scenario leading to the nomination." This would be more persuasive if one of the other candidates had sealed the deal, Reagan-style. Actually, had Reagan himself even sealed the deal at this point in 1979? I don't think so. 2:55 P.M. link

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Does Hillary--and by extension, Bill --Clinton really want Radar magazine to  get in a gossip war with Page Six  involving Bill's bachlor buddy Ron Burkle?  Even if Burkle wins, Page Six might get in some shots  that wouldn't make for a happy news cycle in Hillaryland. This isn't an area she wants lots of reporters nosing around in! If Burkle is one of Radar's owners, as often-rumored, his magazine isn't doing Hillary any favors. ... P.S.: But Burkle has Gawker to defend him! Hillary no doubt takes comfort in that. ... 12:07 P.M.

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In a desperate bid for respectability, the struggling New York Times has begun an association with the prestigious bloggingheads.tv start-up.  David Corn puts on a jacket and tie for the occasion. ... 11:29 A.M.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The DREAM will never die but it has failed to achieve cloture. Even the White House opposed it, with a statement arguing that Congress

must be careful not to provide incentives for recurrence of the illegal conduct that has brought the Nation to this point. By creating a special path to citizenship that is unavailable to other prospective immigrants — including young people whose parents respected the Nation's immigration laws — S. 2205 falls short

Of course, it's hard to see why creating a general path to citizenship that is unavailable to people who respected the nation's immigration laws--in other words, "comprehensive immigration reform"--wouldn't create exactly the same incentives. .. .

Update: Here's the roll call. McCain conveniently didn't vote.** Netroots fave Sen.Tester voted against. ... P.S.: Why did Sen. Durbin keep pushing the bill? Sometimes you have to send soldiers over the top to make sure the other side's machine guns are still working. They are. Sorry, Senator. ...

** More on McCain: The day of the vote, according to Powerline, McCain said

he probably would have voted against cloture because he understood that the Democrats were not going to allow amendments. McCain stated, "I don't think that we can pass the Dream Act by itself." [E.A.]

The next day, in a blogger call, the qualifiers were gone and

McCain told us that he would have voted against cloture (i.e., in favor of preventing a vote) because he "got the message" this summer that Americans want the border secured before we "go on to the rest."

That's the beauty of missing the vote. It's a blank you get to fill in as you wish--one day leaving the impression you might have voted against cloture one day, the next day that you definitely wouldn't. Powerline blogger Paul Mirengoff is at best naive to argue  "there seems to be no basis for criticizing [McCain's] departure for Iowa prior to the vote." ... 10:17 A.M.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Turning on the 'Kids Magnet': Sen. Reid has filed for cloture on the Dream Act, meaning a vote could come tomorrow (Wednesday). My problems with the proposed law--which would in effect grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens under 30 who can claim they came into the country before they turned 16--are outlined here. Both proponents and opponents are activating switchboard-flooding measures. Askew has a list of allegedly undecided senators. ... Here's a list from Numbers USA. ... Here is an estimate of the number of illegal immigrants who'd qualify  from Steven Camarota. ...

P.S.: Applicants would have to live in the U.S. for five years and graduate from high school or get a GED.** But Numbers USA claims  that the bill would "be a rolling amnesty drawing more illegal aliens here in the future to apply for amnesty." [E.A.]  Is it possible that the bill has no cutoff date--no requirement that applicants have entered the country before such and such a day--meaning that it would function as a formal standing offer to people in other countries who might be thinking of coming here illegally in the future: 'Sneak across the border before your kids get too old and they will get legalized'? ... Even the recently-defeated Kyl-Kennedy "comprehensive immigration reform" had a nominal cutoff date, but I don't see one in the text of the DREAM Act. I must be missing something. Or have the bill's opponents buried the lede? ...

Update--Asked and Answered: Thomas Maguire is a closer reader of the law than I am, and emails to note that the bill requires (in section 3 (a)(1)(A) ) that an illegal immigrant have lived here for five years "immediately preceding the date of enactment of this Act." So there does appear to be a cutoff. ... The bill still acts as a magnet, of course, because a) future illegals know that if they come now another compassionate DREAM Act is likely to be passed in future years, and b) there are ample possibilities for fraud--claiming that you were here before the deadline and daring the authorities to disprove it. ...

** To get their "conditional permanent residence [i.e. legal] status" made non-conditional, applicants would also eventually have to either 1) complete two years at an "institution of higher learning" or 2) serve two years in the uniformed services or 3) obtain a "hardship" waiver from Homeland Security. ... 1:53 P.M. link

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Monday, October 22, 2007

I think I've written about this before, but those little Google ads are cropping up again next to searches about "Hillary Clinton"**--the ads that say:

Clinton's girl friends Could 'mischief-maker' Bill damage Hillary's presidential campaign? www.thefirstpost.co.uk

Why are these ads significant? 1) They seem to me to be surprisingly effective as a way of spreading dirt. 2) They seem to represent a surprisingly large hole in the campaign finance laws. After all, they are advertisements for a publication. They aren't campaign expenditures. They're simply telling potential customers about an article, which just happens to be an article spreading scandal about the Clintons. In the same way, ads for some Michael Moore films just happen to undermine George Bush. But, unlike Michael Moore films, the enterprise these Google ads are promoting is itself typically exempted from the campaign finance regime under the so-called "media exemption." So why doesn't some unabashedly non-neutral rich person buy up a lot of media properties--and then start spending tens of millions on ads promoting "scoops" that just happen to damage candidates the rich person opposes? Ron Burkle may be on to something. (Murdoch too, of course.) ... The upshot (I think): Attempts to control so-called 'independent' expenditures are doomed. Even if they're misguidedly upheld by the Supreme Court they will increasingly be seen as irrational and unfair, thanks to loopholes like this one. ...

**--They also apparently pop up in gmails that discuss Hillary. Cunning! ... 10:21 A.M. link

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Without Cucumbers, America is Defenseless: The New York Times surveys the crops that have rotted to date due to lack of immigrant laborers (something that has allegedly prompted the Bush administration to try to ease guest worker regulations):

The administration is pressing ahead on that effort, first reported in The Los Angeles Times, after some growers in the Northwest let their cherries and apples rot because of a shortage of workers and after some growers in North Carolina did not plant cucumbers this year because they feared not having enough workers for the harvest. [E.A.]

That's it? "Some" cherries. "Some" apples. And "some" unplanted cucumbers. ... It's a crisis! 2:32 A.M. link

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Daniel Schorr falls hook, line and sinker for Paul Starr's  'It-was-Bill's-fault' argument about the 1993-4 health care flop. ... 2:08 A.M.

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Comment Dowsing: In which we look in the crowd of commenters for a few friends--

-- I whiffed when Bob Wright asked me on bloggingheads  to name a Republican-centered sex scandal I've promoted. But commenter Minderbender remembers the 1992 California Senate race, even if I forgot. It's not an episode I'm particularly proud of. The story was that the Republican candidate in question read dirty magazines--not much by today's Schwarzeneggerian standards. ... Come to think of it, Schwarzenegger's another Republican whose sex scandals I tried to push. ... Ask me again, Bob.

-- Like many bloggers, Atlantic's Marc Ambinder sneered  at the unidentified "tabloid ... trash" story about John Edwards (which is here). It was left to commenter Alison to note that the

the Enquirer broke the Gary Hart story; Jesse Jackson's love child; OJ's Bruno Magli shoes and found the knife

Don't forget Gennifer Flowers, Max Gold says. (He adds that what the Enquirer added to the Hart story --broken by the Miami Herald--was the photo of the senator with Donna Rice on his lap. But that was a key addition.

David Pecker, head of the Enquirer's parent company, may be coming under some pressure not to follow up on the Edwards story. Luckily, Pecker's not the sort of executive who'd cave in these circumstances! ... Oh, wait. ... 1:07 A.M.

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Mike Huckabee, the "Right Wing's" candidate? Has Dick Morris read this  column? ... Huckabee seems to be what the media wants in a Right Wing candidate, but is he what the right wing wants in a Right Wing candidate? ... P.S.: Mike Huckakis? ... Update: See Ambinder for a more sophisticated and cynical theory  of why the "SoCon [social conservative] Establishment" won't back Huckabee. ... 12:15 A.M.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

I respond to Atrios' slurs! ... 4:51 P.M.

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Even Charles Krauthammer seems to think I may have gone a bit too far  in suggesting that some Democratic lawmakers harbor "a subconscious impulse ... to make sure the Iraq war ends in a deserved humiliation for Bush." I'm not sure. I spend more time with antiwar Dems than he does! ... P.S.: I went to the premiere of my friend Viven Lesnick Weisman's eye-opening documentary, "Man of Two Havanas," and when the narrator got to the part about the Bay of Pigs and the announced (I'm paraphrasing) that it was "the most significant defeat for the American military in history," a non-trivial segment of the audience burst into applause. Nobody hissed back. This is in Los Angeles. I assume it's worse in Pelosi's San Francisco district. ... 2:45 P.M.

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Gran Salida, Cont: Compelling anecdotal evidence from Knoxville, Tenn.! ... Non-anecdotal evidence from the Mesa, Arizona, school system, with some numbers attached. ... 2:33 P.M.

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Sometimes, the gossip is, sadly, true. 12:24 P.M. link

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If Media Matters for America  had been around in 1973:

"Media once again run with anonymously sourced allegation of Nixon eavesdropping"

1:15 A.M.

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In a test, Homeland Security screeners failed to find 60-75 percent of smuggled explosives at Chicago and L.A. airports. "This is is yet another reminder of why we need Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform," said HSA Secretary Michael Chertoff. [He said that?--ed. Better check. Doesn't he say that every time his agency screws up?] ... 12:49 P.M.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why did a Republican almost win a special Congressional election in a strongly Democratic Massachusetts district? Kos and Josh Marshall  seem baffled. Chris Cilizza has one possible answer  [E.A.]:

Ogonowski did gain real traction by casting Tsongas as the de facto incumbent and running as an outsider to the political process. He also found fertile ground by calling for a crackdown on illegal immigration and decrying Tsongas' support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as amnesty.

With that campaign strategy, Ogonowski may have provided Republicans a blueprint to follow in contested races next year.

Somebody tell Mark Penn. ... See also Barone. ... [Thanks to reader S.M.. Partially via The Corner] 10:21 P.M.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New McClatchy tip sheet? Hard to believe this story  isn't a hoax or from The Onion, I agree. [via Insta] 3:23 P.M.

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Yes, It Was All Bill's Fault, Part II: Paul Starr  in The American Prospect, chastising those who argue that it Hillary Clinton was behind the White House's political misjudgements in the health care fight of 1994:

According to recurrent accounts -- most recently in Carl Bernstein's shoddily researched biography A Woman in Charge -- it was supposedly Hillary's secretiveness and rigidity that led to fatal decisions about the White House health plan and political strategy. Careful reporting after the failure of the health plan showed these charges were false.

Page 166: During a 1994 National Governors Association address, Bill wavered on universal health care, but he retracted his comments just one day later. What happened? Former Secretary of Health Donna Shalala told Smith that Hillary gave Bill a dressing-down. "What the fuck are you doing up there?" she screamed over the phone. "I want to see you as soon as you get back."

Nice try, Paul! ... 1:42 P.M.

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Is Pinch Toast? Just asking!  ... 12:46 P.M.

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I don't think Al Gore will run (losing would be too humiliating). But Dick Morris suggests a beneficial possible side effect if he does: He could kill Iowa!

Gore's late entry and national celebrity gives him an ability to avoid the micro-primary and caucus in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He can go focus on the big states of Michigan and Florida and come out ahead.

P.S.: Would Gore really get to Hillary and Obama's left by disagreeing with them about "the need for an ongoing troop commitment" in Iraq? I still suspect Gore agrees with them. And Marty Peretz still presumably has Gore's phone number. ...

Update: Alert reader J.P. notes that the primaries in Michigan and Florida may not be real, delegate-choosing contests this year, because the Democratic National Committee is unhappy that they've been scheduled so early. Good point. Gore could get the most votes but not have them count. He'd maintain the brand! ... 1:03 A.M.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Good to see Land Rover maintaining its tradition! [A tradition of excellence!--ed A tradition.] 9:41 P.M.

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Radar on Rielle. They have an anonymous source who reports on the reporters with anonymous sources! Works for me (by which I mean it can contribute to the search for the truth, as opposed to being admissable in court or on Matt Yglesias' blog.) ...  2:22 P.M.

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Thomas Sowell  says what I've been trying to avoid: That the timing of the Armenian "genocide" resolution expresses at least a subconscious impulse by the Congressional Democrats to make sure the Iraq war ends in a deserved humiliation for Bush.  Even my staunch anti-Bush friends ask why Speaker Pelosi is doing this now. It's on her head. ... Update: She's wavering? ... 1:48 P.M.

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Not like faculty politics--more like student-government politics! LAT's Orwellian blog censorship machination has become so convoluted  it's hardly worth the effort to follow anymore. They only think their blogs are important enough to censor! ... 1:39 P.M.

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Lehane Award for Arrogant and Unpersuasive 'Fight Back' Spin: Goes to Philippe Reines, who responded to the Gerth-Van Natta report on Hillary's eavesdropping with the following:

"We don't comment on books that are utter and complete failures," said Clinton's press secretary, Philippe Reines. 

If it's not on the NYT bestseller list it can't be true! Or is it the Amazon Top 100? Reporters should get Reines to refine his epistemological breakthrough. ... 1:23 P.M.

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How to Get Rich Off Liberal Media Bias (without becoming a pundit)! At a lecture today at the Milken Institute, economist/blogger Tyler Cowen said he didn't think the subprime mortgage crisis was such a big deal for the nation's economy. That's always been my untutored sense--it seemed clear the MSM was hyping the crisis because a) it was the story of the moment; b) economic news is always bad news; and c) the anti-Bush, anti-GOP press is now in permanent campaign mode--and the economy is one of the few things the Republicans, and Bush's policies, might be able to take some credit for. If it tanks, they're really dead. So the press has a catastrophist bias** when it comes to the economy. Remember when Enron was going to sink it in 2002? However big the subprime problem is, it was never going to be as big as the press makes out.

Which led me to this potential moneymaking idea: The moderate lib bias of the MSM is a huge irrational, distorting force on the information flow to the American elite, prompting them to not infrequently make colossal misjudgments (like thinking John Kerry would be a solid presidential pick for the Dems). To the extent this organic MSM bias actually distorts the market, it should create opportunites for stock-picking. Why not start an investment fund --call it the Cocoon Fund or the Pinch Portfolio-- that would 1) search the papers for bogus liberal memes (like the subprime-dooms-the-economy story line, or the perennial UAW-to-organize-Nissan's-Smyrna-factory line); 2) figure out which stocks are underpriced because people actually believe this bogus meme; and 3) invest in those stocks. ... You could have made a killing just on the MSM prediction that comprehensive immigration reform would pass, no? ... Even better: This would be a strategy that could work for a long time, since the basic ideological structure of the MSM doesn't show signs of rapid change (only of slowly diminishing in importance). ...

**: "Isn't that a classic formula for a recession"--Charles Gibson on ABC World News this evening, citing both some mushy policymaker sound bites about the mortgage mess--sorry, "crisis"--and a rise in gas prices. Gibson was reluctant to take "no" for an answer. ("[A]re we really broad-based enough ... [to] not have a recession?")  .. 3:22 A.M. link

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I'm not included on RightyBlogs.com. So there. ... 2:19 A.M.

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Hillary's Eavesdropping: Kausfiles last May, The Hill today! ... 2:02 A.M.

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Postal: Angry scene at the LAX post office, where I went this evening to mail my tax returns--midnight being the deadline if you took advantage of the automatic 6 month extension. I arrived at about 10, figuring either it wouldn't be crowded, or else there would be friendly postal workers outside with bins as on April 15.  Instead, the lobby was packed with hundreds of people standing in hours long lines for the relatively few postal workers inside--even if your letters were stamped and you didn't want to send it certified mail, you had to wait in line. They steered me to the back of the line, which was outside the building--they weren't letting anybody else inside, under orders from the Fire Department. I was tenth from the door--and that's where I still was at 11:30 when a manager in a track suit came out and said they weren't going to let us in at all. Argument ensued. People noted they'd been there two hours before the deadline. They pointed out they were there to pay the manager's salary. The manager said, "You had 365 days," which of course pissed everyone off more. I gave up and stuck my returns in the mailbox outside. As I walked away at 11:55 angry taxpayers  were chanting "Hell no, we won't go." ... All in all, a) impressive incompetence and callousness of the sort that obliterates support and respect for government (at least government that isn't just cutting checks).** Isn't it a basic principle of retailing that you're supposed to make it easy for people to give you money? ... Also b) more race and  class-mixing than I'd seen in a long time. A common enemy does that! Who said the state can't help create social equality? ...

** If I hadn't just read that WaPo piece on the U.S. Air nightmare, I might have said this sort of thing doesn't happen in private industry.  ...1:24 A.M. link

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blue Murder: Andrew Sullivan congratulates himself on publishing Elizabeth McCaughey's 1994 attack on Hillary's health care plan:

I think the magazine's refusal to be mau-maued by the Clintons at the time - and Hillary was threatening blue murder against anyone who so much as dared to criticize her - is a feather in the magazine's cap.

Really? I was there at the time, and I don't remember any sort of atmosphere of intimidation coming from the Clinton White House about this or any issue. I attacked the Clintons in TNR a lot--starting with as nasty an article as I could write about Hillary when her husband took office. Nobody ever threatened me with blue murder or was even unfriendly. Maybe Sidney Blumenthal raised an eyebrow passing me in the street--but Sidney is always raising his eyebrows. Perhaps Sullivan had a different experience. But since McCaughey's article had (as I remember it) the unswerving support of his magazine's owner, it hardly took courage in any case to publish it.

P.S.: McCaughey's article proved to be a turning point in the debate over Hillarycare, but not because it was a convincing document. It was a turning point because Clinton's White House chose to mount a big rebuttal, and produced what I remember as one of the least convincing documents I'd ever read. People figured, well, if this is the best they've got against Betsy McCaughey, maybe she's on to something. ... I specifically remember that the Clintonite rebuttal, like Ambitious Whippersnapper Ezra Klein's recent blog post, made a big deal of the following provision in the law:

"Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the following: (1) An individual from purchasing any health care services."

But of course laws have sweeping introductory provisions like this all the time, only to undermine them in the fine print. Maybe the Clinton legislation didn't undermine this particular sweeping provision--but the Clinton spinners were fools to think anyone would be convinced by the sweeping provision itself. Or, rather, they were treating the press like fools, and the press doesn't appreciate that. ...

If the White House had just ignored McCaughey's piece, it would probably have gone away. The damage was almost entirely self-inflicted. ... 1:43 A.M.

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Jason Zengerle   and Freedom Eden  agree:John Edwards would never, ever, engage in that sort of despicable behavior!

There's no way Edwards would do that to her.

I don't believe it.

Well all right then! .... P.S.: And both parties deny the affair-- it can't be true! I mean, logically it's impossible, right? Who else is there?  ... 

Thank God the Goats Don't Have E-mail:  Yglesias says I'm operating from an "assumption of guilt" because I argued it wasn't wise for Edwards to call the story "made up." But let's look at the situation: The  National Enquirer says it has 1) highly suggestive but not-at-all-conclusive emails from a woman, let's call her W; 2) a source who says W did tell her conclusively in a phone call and talked openly of an affair. Edwards denies it. Fine--the denial wasn't too vague, as I'd thought when I read what turned out to be a partial quote. But if I were him, I'd stop there. Why add the "made up"? It runs the risk of angering either a) the Enquirer, making striking back a question of institutional pride; b) W; or c) the source. That's almost certainly not something Edwards would want even if his denial was completely truthful. (Who knows what further damage a) b) or c) could do--if only in terms of prolonging the story?) It's certainly not something Edwards wants if his denial was untruthful. Either way, the smart pol's course would seem to be to forcefully deny the accusation without cuteness or reservation--but also without personally attacking the accusers. It's a fine line! I'm not sure he walked it. ...

P.S.: Yglesias' suggestion that if there was anything to the story then somebody in the "legitimate" press would have come up with the evidence "by now" is a little premature, I think. ... 12:46 P.M. link

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

'[T]he worst airline in the history of aviation'? A.L. Bardach points a finger at U.S. Air in the Carol Anne Gotbaum case:

Gotbaum wasn't late for boarding. She didn't forfeit her place by ignoring the airline's procedures. Her only mistake was showing up at the US Airways gate and believing that her paid-in-full, reserved-seat airline ticket meant that she would actually have a seat on the plane.

Obviously, "but for" causation doesn't mean U.S. Air is morally culpable for Gotbaum's death. Still, they appear to be culpable for something. And Phoenix seems to be a particular trouble spot. ... Bardach references this earlier NYT article on overbooking and customer rage, which spends a lot of time discussing U.S. Air. ... I never realized how sheltered I am flying JetBlue, which seems to be able to fill its planes without overbooking. ... Update: Congress votes itself a bit of  extra sheltering. ... 1:26 A.M. link

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Why it will be hard to blog for the L.A. Times: You post something juicy on Thursday and then a middle-management twit will come in and censor it on Friday. ... Remember, at the L.A.T. it's all about not telling you what they think you shouldn't want to know about. ...  Suggested solution for Mr. Zell at layoff time: Attrit the twit! ... Update: It now appears that the Times blogger's own response to a commenter--about the need to avoid "censoring" Edwards' denial--has itself been removed. Interactive! ... 12:02 A.M. link

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mass Nude Photo Shoot in Miami: Why do I have a horrible feeling Greg Packer is in there somewhere? ... 9:30 P.M.

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Nation faces drought of crop rot stories: James Fulford says "crops are not gonna rot in the fields because they've already been picked, almost everywhere in the nation." Who knew? 6:04 P.M.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

A message from John Edwards:

But, I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic have lives, personal lives, that indicate something about what kind of human being they are. And I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in to look at what kind of human beings each of us are, and what kind of president we'd make.

60 Minutes, March 25, 2007 ... 7:35 P.M.

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Subprime Schools: L.A's new school superintendent David Brewer has announced a plan to rope 44 of the cities crappiest schools (containing 105,000 students) into a separate district. Apparently the idea is to "target" these schools for smaller classes, different courses and special teacher training. But normally, in business, is it a good idea to put all your most disfunctional units together on the grounds that somehow they will combine into a functional unit? Brewer talks about "drastic reforms such as all-boys academies and neighborhood literacy centers for parents." But the special Crap Schools District would also make it easier to turn the worst schools over to new charter organizations without disturbing the education bureaucracy's control over the remaining schools (which would still have over 500,000 students), no?  ... P.S.: Is it really possible that the pompous, Pulitzer-obsessed L.A. Times-- which suppresses juicy celebrity stories in order, theoretically, to cover worthier topics--has failed to write about this important development? Looks like it. ... 1:16 A.M.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Edwards Scandal(?) Update: Drudge isn't biting, at least not yet. A bizarre number of people, including several kf emailers, seem to think that you just can't have a sex scandal unless Drudge is driving it. In part because they assume he has a low evidentiary threshold, he's become something like the new accepted Arbiter of Truth. No Drudge, no story! But--from what I can tell--Drudge doesn't link to lots of stories, for both traditional (evidence, relevance) and idiosyncratic reasons. This isn't the first time kausfiles hasn't met Drudge's journalistic standards! And while it's to his credit that he makes up his own mind and doesn't jump on every salacious rumor that comes along, that means it's not true that there's no scandal until he ratifies it. ... Update: Noted astrologer Jerome Armstrong has Rielle Hunter's denial.

The innuendoes and lies that have appeared on the internet and in the National Enquirer concerning John Edwards are not true, completely unfounded and ridiculous.

My video production company was hired by the Edwards camp on a 6 month contract, which we completed December 31, 2006.

When working for the Edwards camp, my conduct as well as the conduct of my entire team was completely professional.

This concocted story is just dirty politics and I want no part of it." [Emphasis on Clintonian qualifiers added]

Via Ben Smith, who notes that 20% of American Media, which runs the National Enquirer, is owned by an investment firm run by Clintonite Roger Altman. That makes it possible for the press and others to discount the Enquirer story as a Hillary-promoted smear. But a) I think I know how the story started to come out, pre-Enquirer, and it had nothing to do with Hillary's campaign; b) The story, as suggested below, arguably helps Barack Obama in his race against Hillary, who has a better chance against a divided field; c) If Roger Altman already controlled the National Enquirer for the Clintonites, why would Clinton-buddy Ron Burkle be moving to buy it? ... Update: d) Why would Hillary of all people want to open the door on stories about marital infidelity? ...

More: Smith also has a too-broad denial from Edwards: "The story is false." (As every press secretary knows, that could logically mean there's nothing to the story; it could mean an affair didn't start "18 months ago" but rather 8 months ago). ...

Update: The AP has Edwards adding "It's completely untrue, ridiculous" and saying the story was "made up." By the Enquirer? Or by one of the people the Enquirer cites? Either way, it's a direct attack on the integrity of someone (not necessarily a smart move for a politician in Edwards' position). ...

With Edwards' denial, both the  MSM and Drudge now finally mention the allegations. ...

Edwards' peculiar vulnerability should the allegation be believed is suggested by this Reuters lede:

A third of U.S. women say their vote for president is influenced by the happiness of a candidate's marriage, and Democrat John Edwards is most widely seen as having a happy marriage, said a survey released on Friday. ...

4:01 P.M. link

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Perfecting Drudge: That Al Gore event--the one he cancelled citing an "exciting and urgent" overseas trip, prompting Nobel Prize speculation on Drudge--is back on again. An email sent out this morning from Barbara Boxer's campaign to supporters says:

Good News:  Tonight's rally with Vice President Al Gore is back on!  His trip to China to address government leaders there about global warming has been postponed, so fortunately he can now join us today in San Francisco.

3:12 P.M.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The National Enquirer   claims to have  enough of the Edwards cheating-on-cancer-stricken-wife story, including "bombshell" e-mails, to run with. ... P.S.: They "met in a bar." Sounds familiar! ... You read it here first. ... OK, you read it on HuffPo first. ...  HuffPo 's Sam Stein now has lots of background material. ...  P.P.S.: When I ask friends they split roughly 50/50 on whether, if true, this is a legitimate story. The MSM seems to be strenuously trying to not report it. Given how Edwards' campaign has tacitly and effectively used Elizabeth and her struggle, etc., I think if true it's scummy behavior on his part that Democratic primary voters should know about. His campaign is denying it. ...

kf Forward Lean, I: If the story is true, what happens to Edwards? First, I guess his private fundraising dries up. You'd think a candidate who knew this scandal was coming down the pike would have switched to public funding or something. Oh, right. ... Another reason to think he'd try to soldier on: Dropping out after a scandal would tarnish him in a way that denying and losing wouldn't. ...

kf Forward Lean, II:If Edwards sinks or disappears, does it benefit Hillary? You'd think no--she doesn't want a clarified head-to-head race against Obama. But Obama is counting on Edwards to do the dirty work of taking Hillary on. ... The ideal outcome for Obama would be if Edwards loses most of his support yet stays in the race long enough to go on the attack. But even a complete Edwards disappearance would still benefit Obama, I'd think. (It's a zero-sum game--somebody has to benefit.) ... 11:58 A.M. link

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Conned by John: The National Review bloggers at The Corner seem to be impressed with John McCain's new immigration position, which is:

The American people no longer have trust or confidence in our government.  Our failure at Katrina, our failures in Iraq, our failures to get spending under control.  And we've got to restore that trust and confidence.

If we're going to have real immigration reform, we're going to have to have trust that we will secure the borders.

I think they're cheap dates. McCain obviously still believes his semi-amnesty is the essence of "real immigration reform." Is he saying it will have to wait until the border are actually secured? No. He only requires "trust" that the borders "will" be secured, trust that will be accomplished by any number of government confidence-building measures (success in Iraq, cutting spending, better FEMA disaster response) that have nothing to do with actually securing the border. ... I don't trust his definition of "trust," and he seems willfully oblivious to the difficulties facing any successful enforcement attempt--including a half-decade of lawsuits from many of McCain's pro-comprehensive allies. ... 5:13 A.M. link

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Gawker: Needs Balk. Not the same without Balk. Trying too hard to make up for the lack of Balk. 11:17 P.M.

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Mickey's Assignment Desk--Baracktrackers: 2,000 words on Dem policy bigshots whowent with Obama when he looked like the coming thing--and are now desperately trying to somehow get back in Hillary's good graces. Foreign policy types are usually the most obvious about this sort of thing. ... Bonus: Point out that this is the type of political judgment the experts are supposed to get right. Making the mistake of betting on Obama--assuming he doesn't, you know, win--isn't all that different from making the mistake of betting on Chalabi. ... [Better ex?-ed Rafsanjani, Iran, 2005] 7:40 P.M. link

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Crops Rotting in the Fields! ...  Oh wait.  That's last year's crops-rot-in-fields story. Sorry. Here's this year's. They haven't rotted yet... [Thanks to reader C.B.] .. Update: Is the Bush administration rushing to declare a crisis and use it as an excuse to open the door to more illegals? I don't know the answer. But the LAT reports the administration is "quietly rewriting federal regulations to eliminate barriers that restrict how foreign laborers can legally be brought into the country"  under the existing H-2A and H-2B programs for temporary workers. ... I can see why it might be useful to simplify applications. But if it's seasonal work, why would it be necessary to "extend the definition of 'temporary' beyond 10 months"? Do all these legal workers actually return when their "temporary" work is over? ... The Bushies are also considering expanding "the definition of 'agricultural' workers to include such industries as meatpacking and poultry processing. Is it really impossible to get American citizens (or existing legal immigrants) to do meatpacking jobs? ... If an unlimited number of non-temporary "temporary" workers in can be allowed in under existing law, then why did the Administration feel it needed an explicit new guest-worker program as part of "comprehensive" reform? ... Krikorian? ... 7:05 P.M. link

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W and Poppy--A Bipartisan Consensus: Left and Right agree--we need to win in Afghanistan, and we shouldn't let the war on drugs pervert whatever strategy is best. But, given that much of the Afghan poppy crop is in areas controlled by the Taliban, doesn't a continuing crackdown (if not the insanely inflammatory tactic of aerial spraying) make sense? Drug policy maven Mark Kleiman says no:

Probably the right thing for [Afghan President] Karzai to do, in terms of his government's chances against the Taliban, would be to legalize, or at least tolerate, poppy-growing and heroin refining in the areas of Afghanistan it controls, with the goal of enriching its allies and farmers in loyal areas and undercutting the market for opium from Taliban-controlled areas and thus the Taliban's capacity to benefit its subjects and derive revenue from "taxing" the illicit trade. If that's right, the U.S. should get out of the way.

Kleiman thinks eradicating the Afghan poppy crop wouldn't make much difference in "the level of heroin abuse" anyway. But beating the Taliban should have priority even if it would mean a rise in U.S. heroin abuse, no? ... 5:28 P.M. link

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Here's a new way to get publicity for your just-opened film:  Get sued by your dry cleaner for defamation. 11:24 A.M.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Japan is Different: If you're a Brentwood or Upper East Side parent and worry that competitiveness among moms is getting out of hand, read this Marie Claire piece and stop worrying. ...  10:42 P.M. 

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N.Z. Bear Revealed: I was recommending that a friend of mine contact N.Z. Bear a couple of weeks ago when I realized I didn't know his actual name. Now I do. ... 10:28 A.M.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Do netroots types really think that Al Gore, if he ran for President, would commit to getting U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2013  (unlike Edwards or Obama or Hillary Clinton)? I don't. ... 6:37 P.M.

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Prius, The Silent Killer--Update: If the government requires that Toyota Priuses and other quiet electric vehicles make a noise to warn pedestrians  to get out of the way, won't that create a lucrative market for Prius ringtones?And what kind of noise would be a) distinctive enough to identify the presence of a car, yet b) quiet enough to make a crowd of Priuses tolerable--yet c) not drive Prius owners insane? Get Brian Eno on the case right now. ... P.S.: Maybe some sort of long whale-call tone? ... P.P.S.: Alert reader L.A. suggests "windchimes on the antennaes." Might fail (c). ...  6:17 P.M.

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Here's an anguished NPR report on a victim of the highly-touted "E-Verify" system for checking the immigration status of employees. It seems Fernando Tinoco,** an American citizen, "thought he was living the American dream." But at a new job he got a "tentative non-confirmation" for his Social Security number. Two hours after being hired he was fired. And then ... he "cleared up the problem" ... and then he got his job back. ... So what's the big difficulty? He was ... humiliated! Yes, that's the ticket. Though he doesn't sound very humiliated in this report--despite the egging-on of the NPR reporter ("They thought you were illegal. ... Criminal! But you're an American." ..."Yes. We're in America, yes.") ... Remember: This is the best case NPR and the legal rights groups that feed it could come up with. ... P.S.: Aren't honest, law-abiding people humiliated by data base errors all the time--like when credit cards are wrongly turned down, etc.? Is that a reason for blocking what even comprehensivists tout as the most important immigration enforcement tool around? It is if you want to block immigration enforcement, I guess. ... P.P.S.: Illinois has attempted to stop "E-verify" with a law whose "bipartisan" backing NPR pretends to be impressed by. Why, it was supported by "immigrant rights groups and and by mainstream business groups like the Illinois Chamber of Commerce." I mean, who else could there be in the immigration debate? ...

More: 1) Reader T.C. emails, "[W]hat I found equally astonishing was the spokesperson for the State of Illinois insisting that the E-verify system be 99% accurate before it be relied upon.  I wonder what degree of accuracy one might find in the various databases employed in their state government.  Let's start with the voter registration system in Chicago. ..." 2) Reader J.R. notes that "employers routinely subject  menial job applicants to credit 
checking, online criminal background checks and drug tests
." Whats the database-error rate for those pre-employment checks? ...  3)The Corner'sMark Krikorian points out that making Mr. Tinoco to iron out the problems with his Social Security number actually helped him in one respect--because it presumably means he will now get his Social Security benefits without a bureaucratic hassle. ...

**--Not sure this is the correct spelling of his name. Update: Spelling corrected. Tinoco was also featured in this May WaPo story. 5:37 P.M.

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Boomers Against Medical Cost Control: Hillary Clinton's latest health care plan has been applauded, in part, because  by focusing on universal coverage as opposed to cost control it avoids some of the most controversial and complicated regulatory aspects of her 1993 plan.** But in her latest interview with Jonathan Cohn she still seems itching to control costs--indeed, she's apparently relying on "efficiency gains" to both provide the money to finance her plan and to produce the savings that will control the cost of existing medical entitlements and balance the federal budget.

Good luck on that.*** Purely politically, you would think the ground has shifted since 1993--and that it's shifted against attempts at cost control, at least through government regulation. Why? Boomers! They're the demographic bulge in the voter rolls, right? Well, they're 15 years older now than they were when Hillary first tried health care reform. They naturally spend more time with their doctors, they typically like their doctors, and are naturally more likely in their older age to value the services their doctors provide. This means, I think, they will be more resistant than ever to regulatory cost controls--fee schedules, bureaucratic impediments, restrictions on ability to practice outside the government-subsidized system, etc.--that might be opposed by the medical professionals who are, after all, saving their lives. The doctors will certainly have expanded opportunities to lobby their aging boomer patients on these points. ... More fundamentally, fifteen-year-older boomers will feel more intensely the need for unimpeded access to expensive new life-enhancing technologies (and the doctors who can employ them) as soon as they read about them in the papers--which, in turn, are more likely to report them to their boomer readers.

**Sorry, her husband's plan! Hillary had practically nothing to do with it! It was all Bill's fault, Paul Starr now tells us, in one of the most informative and least convincing articles I've read recently.

***--I'm intuitively skeptical of the ability to wring vast efficiency gains from the health care sector a) because when I go to the doctor or a hospital it doesn't seem like a wasteful sector; b) because I assume technology will continue to provide more complex and expensive cures that people will rightfully want, and c) because I don't understand why it's so terrible if health care expenses keep rising, as a percent of GDP, as our society gets richer--and I assume others will come to the same conclusion rather than sacrifice what they regard as services that could improve and prolong their lives. 4:13 P.M.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Remission of Burma: Bob Wright says he does not argue in his book Nonzero that history is moving ineluctably toward democracy and political liberty because prosperity requires freedom of thought and speech and inquiry. Rather, he argues that history is moving ineluctably toward democracy and political liberty because prosperity requires access to information technology which in turn empowers aggrieved groups to press their interests against the state--and these empowered aggrieved groups are most easily satisfied in democratic, or at least pluralist, systems. You could have fooled me. ... 10:15 P.M.

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It looks like the only Republican who's not quitting the Senate is Larry Craig. ... 9:53 P.M.

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Yahoo vs. Yahoo: This audio link doesn't work for me, but maybe it will work for you--and if it does, you can hear an intra-yahoo panel discussion on immigration in which 1) Mark Krikorian smartly tries to make a move I didn't think he'd make, sketching out how he thinks the anti-legalization movement could project a more pro-immigrant attitude; and 2) I try to argue against Krikorian--the powerful Numbers USA organization--when they seek to reduce the number of legal immigrants. ... 9:43 P.M.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Today on B-3--"It's Where The News Is": On page B-3 of today's Los Angeles Times: 1) Britney Spears loses custody of her children. 2) Wife-leaving L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa's super-hot girlfriend quits her TV job when Telemundo assigns her to Riverside to avoid a conflict of interest. ... Too interesting! The Times highminded editors thought Angelenos should instead read "Bill seeks faster reports on nursing home allegations," which ran under huge picture on B-1. ... P.S.: Here's an excellent idea from blogger Steve Smith: "Maybe the local paper should just make the third page of its B Section a super-hyped, 'go-to' section for people interested in ... dirt, and gossip." Better yet, make it a pullout section. Then they could, you know, kind of wrap it around the more important sections with the riveting nursing home complaint procedure pieces that win Pulitzers. ... 2:42 P.M.

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federal judge has blocked the government from sending out letters to employers whose workers whose Social Security numbers don't match their names. ... Some of the same employer groups (e.g. Chamber of Commerce) who backed Bush's 'amnesty + enforcement' immigration compromise are among those suing to block the 'enforcement' part. Even if they didn't, the ACLU would do the job for them. The yahoos were right to demand that any enforcement measures actually survive this interest-group litigation assault before any legalization/amnesty even gets considered. ... 10:51 A.M.

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Presidents appoint Supreme Court justices! Jeff Toobin produces four grafs of mind-numblingly uninsightful, book-promoting Huffpo copy  pegged to the First Monday in October. It's almost a splog. ... P.S.: Would a conservative-majority Roberts Court really be an  "ideological mirror image" of the Warren Court--or have even Roberts and Alito internalized many of the Warren Court's legal structures and doctrines? That would be an interesting inquiry. Don't look for it here. ... 2: 27 A.M.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

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

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Friday, September 28, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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]

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