Burn, Burkle, Burn!
Did the NYT get scammed by a PR-worthy anecdote?
New York TimesScammed by Clinton-Burkle Spin? The NYT's John Broder and Patrick Healy describe the origins of the life-giving friendship between Bill Clinton and Ron Burkle with a PR-perfect paragraph that should have set off the BS-meter:
The two men first met when Mr. Clinton was running for president in 1992 and touring neighborhoods in Los Angeles that had been torched during riots after the acquittal of several police officers charged with beating Rodney King. Mr. Clinton noticed that some supermarkets were still open, and asked why, his aides recalled. He was told that those stores were not burned because the owner, Mr. Burkle, treated his customers and employees fairly. Mr. Clinton asked to meet him.
Hmm. Too good to check? Not if you have NEXIS! At the time of the riots, Burkle owned a chain of markets called Food 4 Less. (He apparently didn't acquire Ralph's markets until 1994.) Here's the lede paragraph of a June 1, 1992 story in the Orange County Business Journal:
Ron Burkle was in the middle of a meeting in a downtown Los Angeles hotel room when the Rodney King verdict came in last month. As word of the ensuing riots spread, television sets in the room were turned on. Burkle, chairman of La Habra-based Food 4 Less Supermarkets Inc., soon found himself watching intently. Buildings were burning. His buildings.
When the smoke finally cleared, Food 4 Less tallied its losses. The operator of the Boys' Markets, Viva and Alpha Beta stores that provide inner city residents with most of their groceries had sustained some $ 25 million to $ 30 million in riot-related damage. At the height of the riots, 44 of its stores had been shut down. A handful were burned to the ground. Another dozen were so badly damaged that it would take from a month to several months to make them operational once more.
Burkle says he never once considered turning his back on his turf.
"When you watch your stores burn and watch the looting, you can get upset by events," he says. "It would probably be easier to just abandon (the inner city). But we're not going to do that." [Emphasis added]
Is NEXIS too expensive for the NYT? Let's all chip in and buy them a subscription. ...
P.S.: What other Burkle-related BS is the gullible NYT buying into?
P.P.S.: For a ... skeptical, non-Timesian view of Cliinton/Burkle's investments--including a claim that they aren't doing so well--here's a January NY Post op-ed by Peter Schweizer.** ("The funds' real emphasis, in short, seems to be Democratic cronyism.") Schweizer's piece backs up one of the more contrarian Burkle conspiracy theories: That he wants to keep his divorce records secret not because they'll reveal how rich he is, but because they'll reveal that (thanks to his investments' poor performance) he's not as rich as everyone thinks. How rich could you get investing in Al Gore's cable channel?
P.P.P.S.: "Since 1986" A March letter to the Post from a "spokesperson" for Burkle's company responded to Schweizer's piece, claiming:
Since 1986, Yucaipa's returns have averaged over 40 percent annually, and in the last two years alone, investments have saved or created over 40,000 jobs.
That doesn't exactly answer the charge that Burkle's recent investments, funded by state pension funds and advised by Clinton, haven't produced such good returns.
**--the link to this op-ed is currrently being emailed around by one Jared Paul Stern. That doesn't make it wrong! 4:22 P.M. link
The Desperation of Independence: In a desperate attempt to demonstrate that the campaign finance laws are unworkable, trailing California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides' labor backers and his "longtime patron and business partner" Angelo Tsakopoulos just happen to have started an "independent" TV campaign on his behalf--a campaign not subject to limits on individual donations. (Source: Bill Bradley, New West Notes.) This is about as non-independent as an "independent" campaign can get. ... The hope of those campaign finance reformers has always been that, as long as the two campaigns--official, and "independent"--actually didn't meet and coordinate messages with each other, they might get in each others' way and produce defeat, not victory. That might have happened with John Kerry and the fabled Dem 527s in 2004, but it's hard to see why that would happen in a simple, underpublicized primary between two relative unknowns in a single state. Virtually any ad buy touting Angelides or trashing his opponent would seem to help at this point, no? Except that Angelides will get impressive bad press from the editorial pages for this move. Shame saves the day! ...
Update: The candidate discount saves the day? Bradley has posted an update: Virtually all the money for the ads--some $5 million--comes from Tsakopoulos and his daughter. "The legal limit for an individual contribution to a primary campaign for governor is $22,300," but, again, since this is (in theory) an "independent" ad that limit doesn't apply. The beauty part is that because it's not an official campaign ad, the ad doesn't qualify for the special candidate rates from broadcasters. "So it is not getting the $5 million worth of advertising that the official Angelides campaign would get with this money if it were legal for it to receive this money," Bradley says. "It may be more like $3 million worth." Maybe the combination of a) shame and b) special candidate rates can effectively discourage "independent" campaigns without violating the First Amendment rights of "independent" advertisers (which an outright ban on Tsakopoulos-style independent ads would do.) That's not a bad outcome. ... Note: This "independent" expenditure problem isn't solved by public financing of campaigns, though public financing of "official" campaigns might give them another big advantage over unregulated independent campaigns. ...
P.S.: Is ABC's esteemed The Notemissing this juicy California story because it's myopically focused on the work product of a few non-Web, MSM journalists? kf says yes! ... 1:32 P.M.
Start lobbying, dammit! Are you as suspiciousas I am about the current well-publicized crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants? It would seem to serve two political purposes: 1) It's a cheap attempt to reassure anti-illegal forces who demand that the government actually get serious about enforcement; 2) It's an attempt to panic business owners who worry that the government might actually get serious about enforcement--so they'd better start lobbying to make sure that doesn't happen! ... I mean, they'd better start lobbying to make sure there's an appropriate guest worker program. An employer-side lawyer interviewed on the NPR show linked above makes this drumming-up effect explicit:
"I think it's a clear message to employers that you better pick up the phone and start calling your Congressional and Senate representatives because we need immigration reform badly."
I'm not sure either side will be fooled. ... 2:34 A.M.
What's his motivation? If you were writing a script about the Pellicano case, how plausible would the following scene be?
Mr. Pellicano warned Mr. Burkle that he had already obtained all of his telephone numbers, and "was prepared to use any and every means to" investigate Mr. Burkle, but first asked him to tell his version of his dispute with Mr. Ovitz, Mr. Burkle told the F.B.I.
When Mr. Burkle did so, asserting that Mr. Ovitz owed him money, he told the F.B.I., Mr. Pellicano reacted indignantly, using an expletive to refer to Mr. Ovitz and saying he did not work for "welshers" — an exchange that was partly reported in Vanity Fair in 2004.
That Pellicano--he may be a sleazy, mercenary bully who's behind bars, but he has his own rough-hewn moral code! He simply will not work for "welshers"! Don't you see? ... Er ... no ...
Sorry, NYT! I think it needs another draft! ...
P.S.--Unflummoxed: I think I can clear up the less important of my two confusions about Ron Burkle, which was: If, as reported by the NY Observer's "Daily Transom", details of Ron Burkle's "divorce were printed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, which combed over the records before the records were sealed," and reporters have copies of this publication, why don't we know the juicy details from those records? Apparently the only part of the divorce record that was printed by the LABJ was the "marital settlement agreement" (a post-nup, not a pre-nup). The rest of the court record, and whatever juicy details it does or doesn't contain, remains under seal pending Ron Burkle's appeal to the state Supreme Court. That court may turn down the case in the next few weeks, however, which would likely result in an unsealing. ... At least Mr. Burkle didn't draw the press' attention to himself at this potentially delicate moment!... 1:51 A.M. link
If, as reported by the NY Observer's "Daily Transom", details of Ron Burkle's "divorce were printed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, which combed over the records before the records were sealed," and reporters have copies of this publication, why don't we know the juicy details from those records?
Apparently the only part of the divorce record that was printed by the LABJ was the "marital settlement agreement" (a post-nup, not a pre-nup). The rest of the court record, and whatever juicy details it does or doesn't contain, remains under seal pending Ron Burkle's appeal to the state Supreme Court. That court may turn down the case in the next few weeks, however, which would likely result in an unsealing. ... At least Mr. Burkle didn't draw the press' attention to himself at this potentially delicate moment!... 1:51 A.M. link
Immigration has jumped dramatically in salience in the latest Gallup poll:
Thirty percent of Republicans cite immigration as the most important problem, compared with 16% of independents and 11% of Democrats.
In other words, Republicans are differentially aggravated by immigration, compared to Democrats. In the Battle of Intensity that's supposed to be the coming midterms, does the CW really still hold that the immigration issue helps the Democrats? How does that work? Do we think all those Republicans are outraged by the felony provision of the Sensenbrenner bill? ... 6:08 P.M.
Poor Burkle: Always the victim! While kf sleeps, Nikki Finke begins the process of unraveling today's apparently heavily SitrickedNYT Ovitz/Burkle/Pellicano story--which does make those who have followed the crudest speculation about the scandal less interested in Burkle and more interested in one S. Bing. ... Is Bing the only guy in the story who doesn't employ Sitrick? Hmmm. ... 11:56 A.M.
Sometimes too far is just far enough: I claim--in the face of repeated, near-obsessive attacks by my friend Bob Wright!--that Ann Coulter sometimes says highly impolitic things that need saying. Here's a possible example--I say "possible" because I haven't followed the Natalee Holloway coverage closely. But my impression is that the following point hasn't been made very often:
However the Duke lacrosse rape case turns out, one lesson that absolutely will not be learned is this: You can severely reduce your chances of having a false accusation of rape leveled against you if you don't hire strange women to come to your house and take their clothes off for money.
Also, you can severely reduce your chances of being raped if you do not go to strange men's houses and take your clothes off for money. ...
And if you are a girl in Aruba or New York City, among the best ways to avoid being the victim of a horrible crime is to not get drunk in public or go off in a car with men you just met. ...
Everyone makes mistakes, especially young people, but the outpouring of support for the victims and their families is obscuring what ought to be a flashing neon warning for potential future victims. ...
Yes, of course no one "deserves" to die for a mistake. Or to be raped or falsely accused of rape for a mistake. ... But these statements would roll off the tongue more easily in a world that so much as tacitly acknowledged that all these messy turns of fate followed behavior that your mother could have told you was tacky.
Not very long ago, all the precursor behavior in these cases would have been recognized as vulgar--whether or not anyone ended up dead, raped or falsely accused of rape. [Emphasis added]
Backfill: It turns out Coulter isn't the only person to have made this particular point, at least in non-Aruban form. On the "Taste" page of the WSJ a few days ago, Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote about the Duke case and the Imette St. Guillen murder, and the forces arrayed against common sense:
Radical feminists used to warn that men are evil and dangerous. Andrea Dworkin made a career of it. But that message did not seem reconcilable with another core feminist notion--that women should be liberated from social constraints, especially those that require them to behave differently from men. So the first message was dropped and the second took over.
Susan Lampert Smith writes similarly about a young woman left to die in a Wisconsin ditch, and how venerable, seemingly obvious rules--e.g., don't get plastered in bars and drive off with strange men--are no longer drummed into college-age girls. .. 10:16 P.M.
C-3 P.O.? It wasn't just Morgan Stanley's 5.8% of NYT shares rebelling against the Sulzbergers by withholding votes for directors. It was shareholders representing 28%--or 31% or 33%, depending on who's counting--of the shares. A dramatic development in the Pincherdammerung, which (as Arianna notes) the New York Times played near the gutter on page C-3. ... P.S.: Not all two-tier family-controlled publicly-traded newspapers are alike. Here's a chart of Pinch's NYT vs. WaPo. ... 6:15 P.M.
kf Resumes Kamikaze-like Assault on Copy Editors: I'm with DuBow. In the formula
Mistakes entrenched copy editors catch - (mistakes they introduce + good language they kill + delay they introduce (including delay of trying to stop them from killing good language) + their salaries) = X
X is usually a negative number. ... 5:40 P.M.
Joe Conason (in the NYO of 2/21/01) on Ron Burkle [$]:
[R]on Burkle, a California billionaire who gave 10 times as much to every Clinton fund and campaign as Ms. Rich did, was turned down when he requested a pardon for his friend Michael Milken. Mr. Burkle promised a minimum of $5 million to the Clinton library, compared with the $450,000 given by Ms. Rich. He and members of his family have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to every conceivable Democratic campaign, including Mrs. Clinton's Senate race. Mr. Burkle and other well-heeled, Clinton-connected advocates passionately argued the Milken case, but they didn't prevail on Jan. 20. (New York Observer, February 21, 001)
Nothing interesting here! Keep moving people! ... P.S.:Page Six sleaze Jared Paul Stern claimed during his brief Gawker editorship that he'd "just been told the L.A. Times has assigned a full-time investigative reporter to uncover [Burkle's] dirty deeds." [Emp. added] I don't know if that's true or just something designed to frazzle Burkle. ... After all, why should the L.A. Times probe into Burkle's various nexes with prominent Democratic politicos? People might want to read it--violating one of the LAT's legacy rules for resource-deployment. Better to let the story go with a) a quickie article on why Angelenos think it's all "ho-hum." (I mean it's not like Burkle lives here! ... Oh, wait.) b) a huffy column courageously denouncing the "sleazy trade in innuendo and phony items;" c) an inferior duplication of Choire Sicha's initial evocative Stern-in-the-Catskills scener. ... The LAT can rest on its scandal-breaking Pellicano coverage. [But they're getting killed on Pellicano by the NYT--ed Oh yeah. I forgot! "Do it once. Do it right. Do it after the scandal's died out."] 5:20 P.M.
The Twilight of the Sulzbergers? The Class A shareholders are closing in on Pinch. According to TheStreet.com:
Morgan Stanley Investment Management said Tuesday it withheld votes for the [New York] Times' director nominees because it believes the company's board and management have become unaccountable to shareholders.
The firm, which says it owns more than 5% of the Times' Class A stock, called for the elimination of the dual-stock structure that leaves control of the board with minority shareholders led by the founding Sulzberger family [Emph. added]
That seems at least as much of a revolt as six retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, no? Except that Morgan Stanley is still on active duty. It's a mutiny! ... P.S.: Morgan Stanley noted that "[D]espite significant underperformance, management's total compensation is substantial and has increased considerably over this period." ... Update: Neither Bainbridge nor Bartin is very sympathetic to Morgan Stanley--not because NYT Chairman Pinch Sulzberger isn't a turkey, but because the Class A shareholders knew Pinch might turn out to be a turkey when they bought their non-voting stock. Or, rather,
Morgan Stanley knew or should have known that dual class stock presents a serious agency cost problem because incumbents who cannot be voted out of office are almost impossible to discipline. [Bainbridge--emphasis added]
That sounds so much classier! But why would Morgan Stanley make its move now unless they had some reason to think that the turkey--I mean, the serious agency cost problem--might be removed? ... [Rattner will save him--ed Actually, much as I hate to admit it, why isn't that a possible solution? Move Pinch up to a ceremonial figurehead role, and make Pinch's buddy Steven Rattner, a NYT reporter-turned-media investor, the actual chief executive of the Times. Then the Sulzbergers are (relatively) happy and Wall Street is (relatively) happy--and Democrats who worry that the paper might fall into unsympathetic hands are very happy. It's win-cubed!]... 2:08 P.M. link
Inverter, Invert Thyself: In a column criticizing Republican immigration ads as a "precise inversion of the truth," Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos writes, in passing:
[L]ast week, a proposed Senate immigration bill died when Majority Leader Bill Frist refused to allow Reid to bring forward various amendments to the measure
Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, isn't that pretty much the precise opposite of what happened? (Frist wanted to have a vote on lots of amendments that Reid didn't want to allow a vote on. See Brownstein.) [Thanks to reader K.M.] 1:20 P.M.
Fred Barnes says the "immigration has flipped in President Bush's favor." He could be right! (I don't want to commit the Howell Raines Fallacy of assuming that the good and great American people favor my position.) I'll believe it when I read an article whose main source isn't "Jeffrey Bell, a Republican consultant working for La Raza." ... Novak's similar column squib--about how
Some Republican members of Congress have reported back from Easter recess to say their constituents are less outraged by leaky borders than the possible loss of immigrant workers, some from their own households.
Also reeks of thin, Bell-like sourcing. ...
P.S.: Steve Sailer takes somewhat more vigorous exception to Barnes' article--I wouldn't use the phrase "bootlicking Bush acolyte," for example!--but has some plausible objections to the wording of the recent LAT poll questions, which seemed to show support for Bush's position. ... It's also worth reading Sailer to see what intelligent yet off-puttingly intense full-bore anti-illegal rhetoric sounds like. ... As so often happens, kf occupies the moderate middle ground in this debate! ... 11:51 P.M. link
Hillary Cares! You should too. ... Instapundit demands "a reason why I should care" about the Stern/Burkle story! Bloggingheads.tv mogul Bob Wright** had the same issue. I try to convince him to care here. ... (Note: That's a "dingalink," which takes you to the exact relevant spot on the video. No need to listen to the whole thing! It's named after bloggingheads tech mastermind, Greg Dingle, who developed it.) ... Key fact: Burkle is Bill Clinton's business partner. What puts Bill Clinton at risk puts Hillary Clinton at risk. And sometimes what doesn't put Clinton at risk (e.g., doing business in Dubai) puts Hillary at risk.
P.S.: Just as Hillary's getting Burkled, Gore buzz picks up! Coincidence? Yes. But still ...
P.P.S.: Of course, you already heard it from the man himself!
**--not to be confused with another TV executive of the same name who runs a fading old-media project for G.E. 9:20 P.M. link
Squaring the Burkle: Recent coverage of the Page Six/Burkle story raises as many questions as it answers!
(a)--If, as reported by the NY Observer's "Daily Transom", details of Ron Burkle's "divorce were printed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, which combed over the records before the records were sealed," and reporters have copies of this publication, why don't we know the juicy details from those records? Are there no juicy details? (If they're just the ones printed by the Observer, Burkle's divorce is not that bad, by modern Messy Divorce standards.) Are the details so juicy that everyone's scared to print them? [Update: See probable answer above.]
(b)--Why did Burkle do what he did? Let's assume--for purposes of argument--that Burkle's view of Jared Paul Stern's intent is accurate. Still, if as we're told Burkle is someone who "hates publicity and hates having his name in the paper," why would he conduct a high-profile sting guaranteed (if it worked) to dramatically raise his profile and keep his name in the papers for months? What was his long-term goal? Was he trying to burnish his goo-goo ethical credentials as a potential purchaser of 12 ex-Knight-Ridder newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer? Was he trying to shut up Page Six? But what might they publish about him? That he knew Gisele Bundchen? That's hardly damaging. That he had girlfriends? He's single, right? The proverbial "messy" divorce details? That assumes both that there are such details, and that none of the other reporters who've seen those details would publish them (see (a) above). Did Page Six really have something nobody else had? I'm not sure they're that good! Maybe Burkle just felt wronged, got his back up, and created a situation that's now gotten out of his control. But you'd think anyone as smart as Burkle, especially someone advised by Sitrick and Company, would know it would get out of control.
I'm still flummoxed.
P.S.: When I shopped at Ralph's supermarkets in the 90s, when they were owned by Burkle, I remember row upon row of a particular product at the checkout counter. It was ... it's almost too disgusting to recall ... tabloids! Shoddy, standardless, gossip-obsessed tabloids! Tabloids of the sort condemned in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by an eminent entrepreneur. ... Before Burkle gets too far with his anti-tab crusade, shouldn't he give back the millions in profits he made off selling them? He could give the money to ... I don't know, George Clooney. ...
P.P.S.: Are Knight-Ridder employees actually happy about the prospect of working for Burkle? The poor souls. ... 1:01 A.M. link
The Rich Get Glitchier: Automobile Magazine notices a recent capitalist trend that seemingly defies the textbooks. They're reviewing a $73,000 Porsche Cayenne SUV:
You might think that kind of money would buy reliable transport. You would be wrong. In fact, our experience lately, particularly among the pedigreed European brands, has been that a higher price tag usuallly equates to a higher incidence of problems compared with less expensive vehicles from lesser nameplates. [Emph. added]
The interesting question is why the rich tolerate this--why doesn't at least one European luxury automaker back off the iffy, cutting edge electronics and market a car that, you know, keeps working? ... Update:Downshift claims to have the answer. ... 10:37 P.M.
All Burkle, All the Time: Meow! The decision to let slimebag Jared Paul Stern guest-edit gawker.com over this weekend initially seemed a cheap attention-getting move by an ambitious Brit blog owner gravely ignorant of American libel law. It turns out to have been an inspired move by an ambitious Brit blog owner gravely ignorant of American libel law! ... Stern is doing what the lame Burklewatch should be doing: throwing out a cornucopia of potential leads that more respectable reporters (like Dan Walters) can check out. ... If Stern's output survives without provoking a fatal lawsuit, it could start a trend. But I advise reading it immediately--go ahead, leave my blog, I'll be here all day--before the Singer letters start arriving at Denton HQ. ... 5:59 P.M.
Nevada Republicans try to pressure Sen. Harry Reid on immigration by calling him a "rich Anglo"--an impressively unprincipled, offensive, and desperate move. [Also 'ironic'--ed Yes. But 'ironic' is now an unusable cliche.] ... 11:59 A.M.
Walter Kirn blames Malcolm Gladwellfor the Iraq War. ... Not really. But not 100% not really. ... 12:58 A.M.
Burkle Jerk: Jared Paul Stern may be a slimebag, but he gives good interview, especially for a guy in the U.S. Attorney's headlights. ... Meanwhile, the New York Observer uploads the Burkle File. Lots of potential investigative leads here! We especially want to know more about that business partnership with Bill Clinton:
Mr. Burkle hired Mr. Clinton in April 2002 as "senior adviser" to two Yucaipa investment funds which specialize in developing low-income-area businesses.
Could be highly relevant to the 2008 campaign, no? ... P.S.: Is Bill (not to mention Hillary) happy that Burkle staged this high-profile stunt that will attract press scrutiny to all the ex-President's business dealings? It would be interesting to know, for example, if ex-President Clinton, perhaps, was involved in Yucaipa's Dubai-related transactions?
In October, 2005, Yucaipa, working with the Dubai Investment Group—owned by the Dubai government—made a $828 million bid for Refco, the firm that caused Ms. Clinton a headache when she was accused of having a conflict of interest when she invested in cattle-futures in 1979. Mr. Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the firm was fined.
Did Burkle let his quest for "privacy" triumph over his buddy's political interest? That would be so selfish! ...
Update: Lifson suggests another potential investigative angle. ... 1:20 P.M. link
Who's split again? Ron Brownstein notices something interesting in the guts of the latest version of the (historically non- trustworthy) LAT poll:
"They say [illegal immigrants] want to do a job Americans don't want to do," said Erner, the Democratic factory worker. "I think [employers] don't want to pay a wage Americans can live on."
Those class fissures help explain a surprising result: that Democrats are less enthusiastic than Republicans about proposals to create a guest-worker program or to legalize illegal immigrants — ideas supported much more in Washington by Democratic than Republican leaders.
Support for the legalization of illegal immigrants is notably higher among independents (71%) and Republicans (67%) than Democrats (59%). The guest-worker program also drew more support among independents (60%) and Republicans (56%) than Democrats (48%).
Part of the reason for the disparity is that non-college voters, who are most skeptical of the idea, constitute a larger share of Democrats than Republicans. The larger reason is that Democratic voters without a college education are much more skeptical about those ideas than Republicans of similar education levels.
For instance, although 54% of Republicans without a college degree support a program to import guest workers, just 38% of such Democrats do. Support for a guest-worker program is especially low among minority Democrats without college degrees — some of the people who might face the greatest competition for jobs from such a program. [Emph. added]
I think this means that black Democrats without a college degree oppose guest-worker plans by something like a 3-1 ratio, but the Times doesn't give the "especially low" breakout. Talk about demoralizing the base! Can Democrats afford to alienate the black vote going into the midterms? ...
Update:L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley analyzes the competing Field poll's immigration findings. As usual his comments section is bizarrely useful. ... 12:10 P.M. link
Ford Pulls A Clinton: Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., Democrat of Tennessee, voted for the Sensenbrenner immigration bill. He explains that vote on the Glenn and Helen Instapodcast,specifically endorsing a non-comprehensive, enforcement-first, sequential approach:
Unless we're able to secure and protect the borders, it's hard to talk about a path to citizenship, because essentially all you do is incentivize ... people coming into the country, sneaking into the country, breaking the law, and hiding from the law for a few years or at least long enough to be granted amnesty under the President's plan if he has it his way. So I think you have to secure the borders first, and once you do that you can have a reasonable and serious conversation about what to do with 11 million illegal immigrants in this country now, and you can have a serious conversation about providing, or laying out, a path to citizenship ...
See, Bruce! It's not that hard to get to Bush's right on immigration and still sound like a Democrat. Indeed, you could easily imagine Bill Clinton speaking the above paragraph, with its hard words appealing to the right ("sneaking into the country, breaking the law") coupled with its sensible let's-have-a-conversationism. Clinton didn't often resort to policy euphemisms (as opposed to weaselly sentences ... and sexual euphemisms). And Ford doesn't pretend amnesty's not amnesty. ... Why isn't this position the equivalent of Clinton's "end welfare as we know it"/two-year time-limit middle ground on welfare reform? ... P.S.: Ford does say he's "against a fence," preferring high-tech means of border protection. ... 11:05 P.M.
An emailer speculates that Ron Burkle's infuriatingly self-righteous op-ed in the Wall Street Journalwas an attempt to secure the high ground of respectability against any pro-Stern countertide. But how smart was it to go from saying, in effect, 'Jared Paul Stern is a slimeball' to saying to the entire press corps that they're all slimeballs no different from Stern (especially if they do something shocking like, say, writing about a politician's personal life--or protecting a source!)? I hope Burkle didn't pay Sitrick and Company for that advice. ... Maybe he really does need a media consultant! ... 9:22 P.M.
The Right's Split on Immigration, the Left's Split on Immigration. Why Can't Centrists Split on Immigration Too? Blogger, DLC President and former Clinton domestic policy advisor Bruce Reed argues on bloggingheads.tv that legalization or amnesty won't act as a magnet attracting future illegal immigrants (beyond all the other attractions of sneaking into the U.S. to work). I think he's wrong, and would cite this fresh report from the Arizona border. [Via Drudge]... P.S.: Reed seems to make the interesting additional argument that tough you've-gotta-assimilate requirements (which he supports) will potentially act as a deterrent to immigration. Again, I'm not so sure. ... P.P.S.: He also gives a valuable insider-y explanation of why George Stephanopoulos is wrong about the Contract With America's impact on the 1994 House-changing election. ... 6:23 P.M.
Shorter McCain, 2006 YTD:
Preexisting CW: McCain, maverick! (e.g., Green)
New CW: Not maverick! McCain's just a conventional right-winger. (e.g., Krugman)
Newer CW: McCain is too a maverick! (Weisberg)
I'm with Newer. Weisberg's evidence is much more convincing than Krugman's. ... P.S.: McCain's been a strong, consistent supporter of the Iraq War. But nobody said "maverick" meant "liberal" or "dovish" or "realist." Nor does it mean McCain's right, or that you'll like his positions. It means maverick! McCain's simply not an orthodox conservative on a whole range of issues. Dems like Krugman will have to learn to deal with that complication. ... Update: See also Marshall Wittmann's strangely dogmatic gushing about "our modern T.R." ... 5:34 P.M.
Burkle raises the Larger Issue! Ron Burkle attempts to leverage the Jared Paul Stern corruption case into a general condemnation of "gossip coverage" of, well, people like him:
And it would be satisfying to reach the conclusion that simply holding gossip-writers to the same standards as other journalists will solve the problem. But it won't. For one thing, gossip and tabloid-style journalism has been spreading rapidly to other spheres of reporting. Gossip coverage that used to be devoted primarily to movie stars now encompasses politicians and business people.
With the rise of blogs, reality TV, camera phones and other types of instant media, one can see a day when anyone, anywhere could become the subject of salacious journalism. And as gossip journalism spreads, so do the shoddy standards that accompany it. I'm not talking about bribes or extortion. One hopes that's a rare practice. But consider what the New York Times reported about the way business is done at Page Six: "Keeping a list of reliable sources, of course, means having a list of people who need to be protected somewhat... [snip] ... We've all read how well-known and respected journalists have readily protected top-ranked officials leaking classified information. It makes one wonder: Where does the political reporter end and the political operative begin?
No doubt the challenge of upholding the highest media standards has never been harder. But institutions that give up will find that the lines between them and bloggers, demi-pundits and rumor-mongers on the Internet will be blurred beyond recognition. Newspapers that continue to go down the road of tabloidism, that adopt the shoddy standards of gossip reporting, and that arrogantly resist correcting their mistakes, risk losing their special role in our democracy. [Emphasis added]
Protecting leakers! Does Burkle think this is a new, tabloidy trend in conventional, respectable journalism? The FBI protects turncoat witnesses, journalists don't screw good sources. It can easily turn into a protection racket, but it's also a proven device for uncovering the truth. ...
P.S.: Is Burkle a persecuted businessman trying to carve out a zone of privacy against dissembling gossips? Or is he a guy with a lot to hide attempting to intimidate and marginalize potential new, blog-like, unconventional threats,aware that maybe Marty Singer can't protect him forever in this new environment? Or something in between! ... Is he worried about inaccurate journalism or accurate journalism? .. You, the reader, make the call! ...
Note to Maer Roshan: This is so not the guy you want to ownRadar magazine.. ... Makes Mort Zuckerman look like John Peter Zenger! ... 2:52 P.M. link
Et tu, RCP? Real Clear Politics' John McIntyre thinks the Republicans are getting the worst of both worlds on immigration:
[T]hey are increasingly turning off two pillars of their new majority. The first pillar is the talk-radio portion of the Republican base led by Rush Limbaugh (and the many who have followed in his wake) that provide a tremendous amount of energy to the conservative movement. The second pillar the GOP is endangering is the Hispanic community, the single largest growing demographic in American politics. ...
[R]ight now Republicans have managed to create a political environment on immigration that further demoralizes their base while at the same time angers the largest growing electoral demographic critical to a long-term GOP majority. Is it any wonder Senator Schumer implored Harry Reid to scuttle the Senate "compromise"? The last thing the Democrats want, from a political standpoint, is to resolve the immigration issue. [Emph. added]
I still don't understand! I can see where the immigration issue is killing Bush. (Which genius decided, when Bush was down to his most loyal 40%, to promote a policy that pisses them off? Why not go for a clean zero and get a good draft pick?) But Bush isn't running again. And I still don't see why House Republicans won't benefit in 2006 from pushing a tough enforcement policy that pleases their base, and that in general is popular. Are they incapable of communicating their views to their constituents? ... Plus, it's highly unpopularfor the Democrats to oppose the House approach, no? Robo-pollerr Scott Rasmussen notes that as the immigration debate has proceeded the GOPs have opened up a 6 point lead on this issue, up from one point--entirely because support for the Democrats has declined. ... P.S.: The wooing of the Hispanic vote is a long-term project, remember. The mid-terms are short-term, and the House is the most vulnerable GOP institution. Why can't you more plausibly argue that the Republicans can get the best of both worlds: In the short run, the House GOP has engaged its base and put the Dems in a bad spot; in the long run, Bush and the Republican Senate have reached out to Latinos in a way that will serve them well in future presidential races? ... I don't quite believe that either, of course. For one thing, to really capitalize on the popularity of a tough enforcement approach, the House would need an actual, enacted bill to brag about. For another, I'm skeptical about the long-term lockupability of the Latino vote by anyone. Nor is it clear to me just why Republicans benefit by letting in millions and millions more poor, Latin-Americans who at least initially are likely to be Democrats.) But you get the point. ... This is MSM Kool-Aid McIntyre's drinking! ... 4:24 P.M.
Eroded Schorr: Daniel Schorr on NPR, explaining why Bush might want to change the subject from his administration's ongoing troubles by blustering against Iran, noted that even as Bush addressed the issue at Johns Hopkins immigrants were "massing around the country against his immigration policy." ... Er, weren't they massing for Bush's immigration policy (and against the House Republicans' policy)? Just askin'! ... But why let these tedious Inside-the-Beltway nuances get in the way when there's some smug NPR Bush-bashing to do? 1:08 A.M.
Just a Reminder: Ron Burkle, the L.A. billionaire who has come off looking very good in the Page Six scandal, might well be someone you'd want to read good, accurate, gossip about. Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times noted recently: Burkle rose from bag boy at Stater Bros. to the owner of Ralphs, Food4Less and other chains. ...[snip]. He's also a leading donor to UCLA and major contributor to Democrats. In early 2004, according to Hiltzik, after Burkle failed to convince a judge to seal parts of the divorce record, the state legislature within months mysteriously enacted — hastily, unanimously and without a single hearing — a law requiring judges in divorce court to seal in their entirety (upon a party's motion) any documents that mention the party's assets or other financial details even in passing. The law was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in June. According to an LAT story later that year, Burkle gave contributions totaling $147,800 to Schwarzenegger and the state Democratic Party in February and March. Was the California government cheaper than .... hey, better not finish that thought! Anyway, as the Times added, "Burkle denies any role in the bill." ** And there was this charming touch: An attorney representing Burkle, Martin D. Singer, said in a letter to The Times that any allegation of Burkle's involvement in the passage of the law is "outrageous in the extreme." Burkle also once denied to me, through an aide, that when Bill Clinton had stayed the night in Burkle's house, Clinton was up until 2 or 3 in the morning reading in Burkle's library. I don't know why I was checking out this salacious rumor, but something about the Burkle camp's insistence that Clinton had been in bed early--well before midnight, if I remember--reminded me again why calling for comment and dealing with lawyers isn't necessarily always a truth-uncovering exercise. When has Clinton ever gone to bed early? Maybe this once. ... [Note to Burkle attorney: Make sure you send all intimidating letters to Hiltzik too! ] [P.S.: And save one of those letters for the New York Times. The NYT reported on Sunday that Burkle "has pushed in the courts and in the California Legislature to keep his divorce records confidential." [Emph. added] Maybe the paper is referring to a more recent bill introduced after the 2004 bill was held unconstitutional. But Burkle denies a connection to the recent bill too. The NYT report sounds "outrageous in the extreme" to me!] **--It's not as if Burkle and Schwarzenegger have the same lawyer. ... Oh, wait. ... 12:49 A.M. link L.A. Immigrant Demo Report: Marcha Sin Gente! "Huge Crowds Expected in L.A.," was the headline on the L.A. Times web site. But today's Los Angeles pro-immigrant demonstration--scheduled for 5:00 in the evening--was shockingly small. It filled an interesection and a little park in the Olvera St. section. That's about it. Anybody who says there were more than 12,000 people there is full of it! I'd say 5,000-8,000. ... The organizers certainly cut down on the backlash potential. ... P.S.: I went looking for the fabled Korean contingent--I was told they had good drummers--and couldn't find it, or hear it. Once again the protest seemed 98% Latino. Mood: Friendly, as with the Gran Marcha two weeks ago. ... Update: [The LAT estimates the crowd at 4,000--ed Seems right. I was trying not to lowball it. Wouldn't want another "Brokeback" situation.] ... 7:11 P.M. link
Whatever his laudable personal qualities, they aren't much in evidence in the divorce papers. I hesitate to go into the noisome particulars, but if he and his ex-wife, Janet, left any of the deadly sins out of their descriptions of each other in court, then I can't count to seven. [Emphasis added]
Burkle then applied to seal weeks of trial transcripts, 22 exhibits and 28 other documents.
"You proceed at your peril," Singer, identifying himself as Burkle's "litigation counsel," said in the letter.
Burkle rose from bag boy at Stater Bros. to the owner of Ralphs, Food4Less and other chains. ...[snip]. He's also a leading donor to UCLA and major contributor to Democrats.
In early 2004, according to Hiltzik, after Burkle failed to convince a judge to seal parts of the divorce record, the state legislature within months mysteriously
enacted — hastily, unanimously and without a single hearing — a law requiring judges in divorce court to seal in their entirety (upon a party's motion) any documents that mention the party's assets or other financial details even in passing.
The law was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in June. According to an LAT story later that year, Burkle
gave contributions totaling $147,800 to Schwarzenegger and the state Democratic Party in February and March.
Was the California government cheaper than .... hey, better not finish that thought! Anyway, as the Times added, "Burkle denies any role in the bill." ** And there was this charming touch:
An attorney representing Burkle, Martin D. Singer, said in a letter to The Times that any allegation of Burkle's involvement in the passage of the law is "outrageous in the extreme."
Burkle also once denied to me, through an aide, that when Bill Clinton had stayed the night in Burkle's house, Clinton was up until 2 or 3 in the morning reading in Burkle's library. I don't know why I was checking out this salacious rumor, but something about the Burkle camp's insistence that Clinton had been in bed early--well before midnight, if I remember--reminded me again why calling for comment and dealing with lawyers isn't necessarily always a truth-uncovering exercise. When has Clinton ever gone to bed early? Maybe this once. ...
[Note to Burkle attorney: Make sure you send all intimidating letters to Hiltzik too! ]
[P.S.: And save one of those letters for the New York Times. The NYT reported on Sunday that Burkle "has pushed in the courts and in the California Legislature to keep his divorce records confidential." [Emph. added] Maybe the paper is referring to a more recent bill introduced after the 2004 bill was held unconstitutional. But Burkle denies a connection to the recent bill too. The NYT report sounds "outrageous in the extreme" to me!]
**--It's not as if Burkle and Schwarzenegger have the same lawyer. ... Oh, wait. ... 12:49 A.M. link
L.A. Immigrant Demo Report: Marcha Sin Gente! "Huge Crowds Expected in L.A.," was the headline on the L.A. Times web site. But today's Los Angeles pro-immigrant demonstration--scheduled for 5:00 in the evening--was shockingly small. It filled an interesection and a little park in the Olvera St. section. That's about it. Anybody who says there were more than 12,000 people there is full of it! I'd say 5,000-8,000. ... The organizers certainly cut down on the backlash potential. ... P.S.: I went looking for the fabled Korean contingent--I was told they had good drummers--and couldn't find it, or hear it. Once again the protest seemed 98% Latino. Mood: Friendly, as with the Gran Marcha two weeks ago. ... Update: [The LAT estimates the crowd at 4,000--ed Seems right. I was trying not to lowball it. Wouldn't want another "Brokeback" situation.] ... 7:11 P.M. link
I realize that neither of the previous two items discussed immigration reform. My apologies to those concerned about this blog's growing lack of focus. Here, for you, is Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions instant analysis of why the fabled, collapsed Hagel-Martinez immigration compromise was a loophole-ridden deception! Sessions' spiel impressed when he gave it on the floor last Thursday, and it's still impressive in print. [It's a long document. Search for "waltz" and start there. ...] As with welfare reform, it turns out smart liberal lawyers can hide a lot of mischief in the fine print of immigration reform (including, in both cases, a vaporous definition of "work"). ... P.S.: Welfare reform succeeded, in part, because one unusually powerful and trusted House staff member--Ron Haskins, who worked for Rep. Clay Shaw--kept an eye out and helped block the mischief. I wonder, reading Sessions' critique, if Senator Frist needs a Haskins of his own. ... 3:07 P.M.
Arrow Points to Defective Part: Harry Shearer, who's been following with admirable, apolitical, homeowners' tenacity the finger-pointing about the New Orleans levees, notes that the guilty party has finally fessed up--and the press didn't notice. 2:54 A.M.
Some emailers argue that bloggingheads.tv has made a hideous strategic misstep by featuring commentary by someone who actually knows what they are talking about. I'll lobby to make sure it doesn't happen again.... In the meantime, you can watch Jacqueline Shire's lucid explanation of what Iran is doing to get the bomb, and the missed "magic moment" right after we toppled Saddam in 2003, and the problem with a military strike. ... Meanwhile Bob Wright floats his "wild" (her word) proposal for dealing with the crisis. ... 2:37 A.M.
Worthwhile Canadian Commentary: Highly-effective Mark Steyn column, sabotaged by a Chicago Sun-Times headline writer. ("No easy answers on immigration conundrum." If a less enticing headline has ever been written, I missed it. Makes "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative" seem like a salacious come-on! ... P.S.: Maybe it's ironic mockery. But nobody will get it.) [via Lucianne] 12:16 P.M.
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 ... [More tk]