Detroit's cheap dates

Detroit's cheap dates

Detroit's cheap dates

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 2 2007 5:27 AM

Detroit's Cheap Dates

Plus--O'Reilly was right about Bourne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Friday, August 31, 2007

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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



Thursday, August 30, 2007

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


Smoking Gun from the Future:

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

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

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

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

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

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


4:04 A.M. link


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Monday, August 27, 2007

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

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

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


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


Sunday, August 26, 2007

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

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

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

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


Stern Dean Action! A.P. reports:

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

E-mailer X writes:

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

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


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

Which would you choose?

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


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


Saturday, August 25, 2007

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Friday, August 24, 2007

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, August 23, 2007

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

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

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


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Monday, August 20, 2007

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

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


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


Saturday, August 18, 2007

If we pay Starbucks a surcharge--say $1 on a grande latte--will they stop playing Paul McCartney? ... 3:32 P.M.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Am I crazy to think that the failure of comprehensive immigration reform--and with it, the prospect (despite sponsors' assurances) of millions more legal and illegal immigrants--has something to do with the trouble in the housing market? The recent Bush anti-illegal crackdown has only emphasized the possibility of a lower-immigration future.  Fewer immigrants = lower demand for housing. If you built your expectation of rising home values on that anticipated demand, and like much of the MSM you actually believed the Grand Bargainers' blustery predictions of success, then you've had to reassess your portfolio sharply downward, no? Just a thought. ... P.S.: Cheaper housing, coupled with higher wages for the unskilled. In the long run that sounds like a good combination, even if some of Jim Cramer's friends lose their jobs in the transition. ... 3:13 P.M


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top kausfiles executives have come up with a comprehensive, future-oriented business plan at their annual summer strategy session. Our new organization goal is simple: It is to beat "how many spiders does a person swallow in their sleep" in the News & Media rankings of search terms. ... Harder than you might think! Pinch isn't doing it either. ... 5:46 P.M.


I refuse to get excited about "the GOP electoral power grab in California"  unless someone can tell me why, even if it gets on the ballot, it has a greater than 0% chance of passage. Sure it would be a big deal if California's electoral votes were awarded by Congressional district instead of winner-take-all. It would be 20 found votes for the GOPs.  But far more worthy, defensible initiatives routinely go down to inevitable defeat in this overwhelmingly Democratic state as soon as Dems put up ads argue they're a partisan GOP ploy. ... P.S.: The whole current controversy smells like a "juice bill" designed to keep politicos employed in the year before an election. GOP consultants will raise money to try to put the doomed initiative on the ballot and create Tv ads on its behalf. Democratic consultants will raise money to stop the evil GOP power grab. Bloggers will get something to blog bravely about. Everybody's a winner. Except it's a non-event. ... P.P.S.: But worth it, maybe to see Sen. Boxer argue that apportioning electoral votes by Congressional district won't make candidates campaign in California because the state's Congressional districts have been so gerrymandered by Democrats that only two of them would be competitive anyway! ...

Update: Steve Smith has context and perspective. ... 5:31 P.M.


Karl "I-don't-want-my-17-year-old-son-to-have-to-pick-tomatoes-or-make-beds-in-Las-Vegas"  Rove has a problem with "elite, effete snobs." ... [Thanks to reader P.S.] 2:18 A.M.


Senator Stevens gets a wee bit testy with his home state paper's editorial board Sample:

Q. I wanted to touch just briefly on your own situation and legal controversies.

A. You're not going to touch it at all or I'm going to leave. We had the understanding it was not going to come up.

Q. I understood the investigation wouldn't come up.

A. It's not going to come up at all.

Q. OK. What about your ability to be effective in Congress?

A. What about it? You're destroying it. ...

There's more. ("They taunt me  ...") .... 2:04 A.M.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I've instinctively disdained The Week, maybe because of its ugly covers, or the Maxim connection, or what I took to be a reflexive anti-Bush attitude. Last week, while throwing a bunch of issues out, I started reading them, and noticed that they are really good at doing what they are trying to do, namely tell you 90% what you need to know about what's going on in culture and politics (and 110% of what you need to know to fake it). It's dense--lots of little summaries-- but not boring. Maybe Time-- circ down 17%-- should have pursued this model instead of, you know, printing columnists' names in 248 point type. There are still people who don't follow the news--paging M.D.s!--and could use a print Cliff's Notes, something the main newsweeklies aren't anymore. Even plugged-in Web players might find it a useful waterfront-covering corrective for the fragmented vision that seems to accompany, say, obsessive blogging.... [via Drudge] 3:02 P.M. link


Pat at Stubborn Facts thinks that in a "new twist" I want to "suddenly ... modify" my argument by "shifiting" to suggest that employer enforcement be focused on new hires, rather than on rousting existing illegals from their jobs. Whether or not it's persuasive argument, it's not a new one on my part. See, e.g., here and here. ... P.S.: Yes, focusing on new hires might have the effect of "locking in" illegals to their current employers, since if they quit they would (if everything works) be unable to get a new job. They'd presumably either go into the underground work force or go home. But locking people in to their jobs is still less disruptive than kicking them out of their jobs, no? The point is to remove the "jobs" magnet for new immigrants without being unnecessarily nasty to millions of existing immigrants in a way that destroys the political support for workplace enforcement. "Lock in" isn't a good compromise, but I can't think of a better one. ... P.P.S.: Maybe Polipundit is correct  and support for anti-illegal measures has 

grown strong enough and vocal enough that Congress will not want to touch a radioactive comprehensive amnesty bill for several years

even if TV screens are filled with Joad-like streams of weeping, formerly hard-working self-deportees. Certainly the Bush administrations crackdown on even existing illegal workers seems popular now-- Rasmussen sees 79% support. But I worry that the blustery Polipundit is suffering from the political equivalent of serotonin poisoning.  "[S]upporters of America's borders" have indeed "grown stronger, with NumbersUSA exploding to over a half million activists and an e-mail list of 1.5 million." But 1.5 million is still only 1.5 million, in a nation of 300 million people who do not like to think they are being mean. ... 1:37 P.M. link


I figured I was just making a fanciful analogy when I compared  DHS secretary Chertoff to Lenin. Then I saw this. ... Ever seen them in the same room? I didn't think so. ... [Thanks to reader R.E.] 11:28 A.M.


VDARE posts its dossier on Huckabee, who seems to have an offputting Guilty Southern White Boy attitude on immigration that won't help him in the primaries if the Republican electorate finds out about it. ....11:17 A.M.


Monday, August 13, 2007

NBC's excellent First Read, on Huckabee's strong showing in Ames, Iowa:

He actually received more votes than he bought, a noble feat in the straw poll. ...

10:13 A.M.


Bush--You Asked for It, Yahoos! Is the recently announced Bush crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants

1) a desperate, Lindsey Graham-like make-up call to placate conservatives by enforcing existing laws (a possible trust-building precondition to winning some of them over to legalization of currently-illegal residents) or

2) a Leninesque attempt to heighten the contradictions and create pressure for legalization by demonstrating to business and the media that actually enforcing the existing immigration laws is intolerable?

Day In/Day Out wonders too. ... If it's option 2, of course, then Homeland Security might intentionally choose to enforce the law in as clumsy, heartless, and lawsuit-inspiring a fashion as possible, in order to create the maximum number of negative headlines. ... Certainly the case for the paranoid option (2) was enhanced by the LAT 's report on the crackdown, featuring bitter you-asked-for-it-now-you're-going-to-get-it quotes from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff:

Chertoff acknowledged. "There will be some unhappy consequences for the economy out of doing this," he said in an interview with The Times.

Chertoff said he had little sympathy for businesses that hire illegal workers, saying they should have seen the crackdown coming after the Senate failed to pass immigration reform. "We have been crystal clear about what the consequences would be," he said. ...[snip]

Chertoff suggested that once the provisions had been in force for a while, Congress would see immigration reform in a different light.

"Everybody who criticized comprehensive immigration reform for being too complex, maybe now they're going to realize it's complex because there are a lot of interconnected pieces to this and when you try to deal with only one corner of it, you wind up with a huge impact on something else," he said. [E.A.]

Bush Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is also quoted saying, in effect, that the effort he just launched will lead to disaster. ("We do not have the workers our economy needs ... Ultimately congress will have to pass comprehensive immigration reform.")

Do you trust these men to implement the plan skillfully when they have an explicit interest in causing pain? For example, wouldn't it be better to focus enforcement on new hires whose Social Security numbers don't match, rather than disruptively forcing the firing of existing workers who may have been here for decades? But of course, if it's strategy #2 Bush is pursuing, then destroying the lives of decades-long residents exactly what Chertoff should be focusing on, because that's what will generate the horror stories that might fuel a new push for amnesty. ... It's a new twist on the old Washington Monthly "Firemen First" Principle, in which agencies defend their budgets by making cuts in the most disruptive manner possible, typically by firing firemen and cops. ...

I'm paranoid. I don't trust Chertoff--he seems personally embittered by his "comprehensive" humiliation. I'd focus on new hires, not existing workers. But so far the anti-comprehensive camp--including, for example, Mark Krikorian, Polipundit and Terry Jeffrey--thinks highly of the Bush crackdown. Will they wake up in a few months and realize they've been snookered, or Lenined? ...

Update: Alert reader PD says Chertoff's off to a good start in pursuing Strategy 2--it was a screw-up in a Customs and Border Protection computer that stranded 20,000 people at LAX over the weekend. ...

More: Krikorian may on board with the new measures, but he isn't a fool. He concedes--subhead: "The White House thinks it's calling America's bluff"--that #2 is the strategy. But he seems confident it will fail:

Lobbyists for farmers and roofing contractors and others will soon be screaming bloody murder. But Congress and the media would do well not to take at face value the squealing of firms losing their cheap-labor subsidy. When the end of the last big guestworker program was being debated in the early 1960s, California farmers claimed that "the use of braceros [Mexican guestworkers] is absolutely essential to the survival of the tomato industry." Instead, termination of the program prompted mechanization which caused a quintupling of production for tomatoes grown for processing, an 89-percent drop in demand for harvest labor, and a fall in real prices.

The same sort of thing happened half a century earlier, when the textile industry predicted disaster if child labor were ended. At a Senate hearing in 1916, one mill owner said that limiting child labor would "stop my machines"; another said "investors would never receive another dividend"; while a third said that ending child labor would "paralyze the country."

We're going to hear a lot more of this sort of thing — the White House is counting on it. Standing up to the coming lobbyist onslaught will be the final stage of the battle against amnesty.

I fear Krikorian underestimates the outrage and opposition a Katrina-like application of the new rules by Chertoff's agencies could produce. But maybe they're so hamhanded they can't even be hamhanded when they want to be.

P.S.: Beyond Paranoia Lies Ecstasy! Roy Beck of Numbers USA sees the upside of outrage--

The illegal alien communities – and the outlaw businesses that hire them – are in a panic this weekend.

And they should be.

The panic has spread to your town or city – all across America.

It is most important that all of us contribute to that panic and ensure that it continues. [E.A.]

The panic, argues Beck, will bring about  "a big increase in the exodus from the United States of settled illegal aliens." This may be where I part company with Numbers USA. It seems to me the nation can absorb the current number of illegals, as long as further illegal immigration is effectively deterred. We can do the latter, I should think, without encouraging political support for amnesty by provoking an unnecessary, wrenching exodus. ...  1:56 A.M. link


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Will Pinch Sulzberger Set a Date Certain for Withdrawal? Another analyst fails to appreciate the genius of Arthur Sulzberger, Jr and his TimesSelect project, noting that the number of paying TimesSelect customers--220,000--"has risen a miserable 8,000 since the start of the year."  ... At this point the NYT's main challenge is figuring out how to kill TimesSelect without making it appear to be a humiliation for Pinch, confirming the markets' fears about him. Calling Steve Rattner! ... P.S.: I again suggest that the line-of-least resistance Plan B for saving the NYT is to kick Pinch upstairs and make Rattner the actual full-time CEO. ... 11:29 P.M.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

In case you missed it, GM's coming next-generation hybrid technology may have some advantages over the hybrid battery Toyota is planning. Autoblog summarizes the WSJ's account:

Toyota's lithium battery of choice uses cobalt oxide, much like the problematic batteries that were catching fire in Sony laptops. GM's iron phosphate-based battery is said to be more chemically stable. ...

Why do I completely lack confidence that GM will capitalize successfully on any technological lead it has? Because where GM has had a technological edge in the past it has been unable to translate it into cars customers like me would rather buy than Toyotas.

A large part of that inability has to do with GM's dramatically higher labor costs--apparently the total labor cost for a GM hourly worker (including health, pensions etc.) is about $146,000 per year.  They're competing against Toyota and Honda who pay $96,000 per year--on equally American workers in American factories.  Much of this disparity is in health care costs, something that would be fixed if the government took over that burden.  But, according to CNN (citing Harbour-Felex data)  $630 per vehicle is for union-negotiated "issues like work rules, line relief and holiday pay," while "paying UAW members for not working when plants are shut costs another $350 per vehicle." 

That's about $1,000 per vehicle not related to health care (or "legacy" pensions, for that matter). I don't begrudge Detroit auto workers six-digit pay packages--unlike some professors, I don't think it odd that they make more than professors. It's harder work! But I also don't see why they should necessarily make more than Toyota's hard-working American autoworkers. And as a car consumer, every time I see a nice Detroit vehicle I might want to buy--the Ford Mustang and Pontiac Solstice come to mind--and then I see the tacky materials used in the interior, I think about how much more appealing the car would be if I didn't have to pay $1,000/vehicle in extra costs to finance the UAW's work rules, etc. (with the grand going to buy higher quality plastics or to lower the price). Toyotas don't have this problem--I'm more confident the money I spend will efficiently go into the car I buy. ... 

Update: This better-than-MSM Automotive News article--free at the moment, with registration--argues that the coming UAW-Detroit negotiations will actually start the process of bringing GM, Ford, and Chrysler's labor costs down a notch to Toyota's level. In effect, argues David Sedgwick, we still have "pattern bargaining," it's just that non-union Toyota sets the pattern. ... But isn't it just as likely that, in the toothpulling process by which the UAW is forced to climb down from above-Toyota labor costs, the concessions will be too little, too late--or rather, just enough to keep current workers employed but not enough to actually let GM make significant anti-Toyota inroads? You could argue that the UAW would in fact be serving its older, near-retirement workers well if it merely allowed GM to limp along and shrink with the shrinking UAW membership, making just enough money to cover pensions. ... That's one problem with Wagner Act unionism--even the most democratic unions, like the UAW, represent a fatally underinclusive constituency. One group that's not included is Americans now in elementary school who might benefit from having GM around in 20 years. Another group is communities that would benefit if GM actually capitalized on technologocial breakthroughs and took some market share back. ....  3:12 P.M. link


Friday, August 10, 2007

Hmm. Should the campaign of John Edwards be accusing other candidates of exploiting tragedy? 2:36 P.M.


"My people have been in this game for 25 years . . . They are losing their jobs": I thought Wall Streeters were paid big money because they took big risks. Capitalism, etc. But when those risks actually materialize, and the Wall Streeters are actually threatened with large losses that might change their lifestyles, Jim Cramer shows up to demand that the government bail out his friends. ... P.S.:  bhTV take. ... P.P.S.: The Cramer/Crystal Method mash-up gets better a couple of minutes in. ... [via bhTV commenter Namazu] 1:34 P.M.


Now this one should work:Bloggingheads, Special Cleavage Edition. ... Update: Or maybe I meant to link to this. ... 1:28 P.M.


Fred Kaplan expresses what seems like the sound position on Iraq: The surge is unlikely to be enough to create a stable, unitary nation given the sectarian animosity. The prudent course is to move to Plan B right now, while we still have to troops and time to carry it out:

Before they withdraw, U.S. troops could try to help minorities relocate into areas where their ethnic brethren are in the majority—providing the means of transportation and, to the extent possible, safe passage.

Iraqi troops and police may be very keen to assist, if not lead the way, in this mission—at least if Shiite forces are called on to help Shiites, Sunni forces to help Sunnis.

Does he mean that Shiite forces would be keen to help Shiites relocate? At the moment, Shiite forces seem most keen on helping Sunnis relocate. It's not clear to me why they would want to assist in the de facto cleansing of their own people--in effect, surrendering a piece of turf to their rivals. Likewise, why would Sunnis help Baghdad become a wholly Shiite city? ...

P.S.: One way to characterize Bush's second term in domestic policy is that he's consistently moved to Plan B too late to salvage anything from the demise of his Plan A. That was certainly the case on Social Security reform, and in all probability will be the final story on immigration. Will he replicate that misjudgment on Iraq? ...  1:07 A.M. link


Bob Wright doesn't know who "Jess and Nick" are. ... Or "K-Fed." ... 12:48 A.M. link


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Tout le Gauche: Markos Moulitsas' co-author and MyDD blogger Jerome Armstrong--recently quoted assessing the state of the left blogosphere in Salon--has agreed to pay $30,000 to the S.E.C. to settle stock-touting allegations, according to TimesSelect prisoner Chris Suellentrop. That seems like quite a bit to me, though I'm no S.E.C. expert. It apparently includes a $20,000 fine. From the S.E.C.'s news release, with emphasis added:

The Commission's Complaint, filed on April 14, 2003, alleged that beginning on March 6, 2000, Armstrong touted the stock of BluePoint Linux Software Corporation ("BluePoint") by posting unsubstantiated, favorable buy recommendations on the Raging Bull internet site. Armstrong posted over eighty such recommendations during the first three weeks that the stock of BluePoint was publicly traded. According to the Complaint, Armstrong praised BluePoint's investment value and encouraged investors who were experiencing trouble having their orders filled to keep trying. The Complaint further alleged that the promoters of BluePoint were secretly transferring stock in three other companies to Armstrong at prices below the then current market for those three stocks and that Armstrong made at least $20,000 by selling the shares he received from the promoters of BluePoint. The Complaint alleges that Armstrong did not disclose in his internet postings that he was being compensated for making the postings.

That's just the complaint, of course. Still ... what's he touting now? ... P.S.: Red State eagerly awaits the long-promised Armstrong "offensive." ... He could start by issuing either a confirmation or denial of the truth of the SEC's charge. The settlement itself is neither. But if Armstrong doesn't owe the SEC an admit-or-deny answer, doesn't he owe it to everyone else--his allies, his readers, his colleagues? Is it true, Jerome? ... 1:23 P.M.


Today's Google Alert Special: Mark Kleiman say he's "on a listserv embracing a bunch of real journalists and a bunch of bloggers, academics, activists, and think-tankers, representing a pretty good spread of Blue opinion." Sounds like the KleinKlub! Kleiman then discusses two threads on the listserv. One "is about the extent to which the Information Age dictates basic changes in social policy." In the other, on No Child Left Behind, critics and supporters debate whether its "tests measure to narrow a spectrum of capacities, measure them too infrequently, measure them badly, measure them in ways that aren't robust to 'teaching the test,' and lead to a soul-deadening rote-learning atmosphere ..." Wouldn't it be better if these debates were conducted in public, where readers could at least listen in? [They sound incredibly tedious--ed Hmm. Good point. Though they're interesting when Kleiman puts them together. But that's on his public blog. ... Never mind.] 2:12 A.M.


Is the WSJ ed page's Cult of Bartley doomed by Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the paper? I'd say yes, despite the firewall erected by cult members.  Murdoch will want his own people, and more ideologically flexible people, in charge. If Paul Gigot is still running the place in 18 months I'll give him $100. ... 1:38 A.M.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pinch's plan, nailed to perch: They laughed when kf reported that the NYT might be about to abandon TimesSelect, Pinch Sulzberger's visionary project in which he sought to charge readers for the very thing (opinion) most readily available on the Web for free. ... OK, they didn't laugh. But I got lots of emails telling me I just didn't understand the complex futuristic economics of newspaper publishing the Web. TimesSelect was "about more than revenue," wrote the experts. It was a strategy for retaining "high-paying print subscrbers." ... Well, hah! ... Note: Always trust content from kausfiles. Except when I get hoaxed. ... 10:39 A.M. link


Monday, August 6, 2007

Educating Ezra: Whippersnapper apparatchik Ezra Klein, after smugly dismissing the motives of neolibs who criticize teachers' unions, is corrected by his own more knowledgeable readers. Sample excerpts from the comments [E.A.]:

if you're going to say this about "endemic, root problems" you should probably explain what you think they are. I agree that blaming teacher's unions is a popular hobby horse of pundits, right and left, but knowing that doesn't make all the isses around the teacher's unions simply go away -solving issues in our education system does mean some sensible reforms of union practices ....


I will give you that teacher unions aren't the "root problem," but they are the roadblock that prevents any meaningful reform to try and cure our education system. ...


I am a former member of a professional trade union. I am also a former member of a school board. The community was an inner-ring suburb with a student-body profile that ran from poor to upper middle class with a racial mix that cut across class lines, but with blacks concentrated on the lower end. In many ways, we were ground-zero on the achievement gap. We also faced severe budget challenges, having to cut programs and services, including many jobs, year after year.

In this context, despite my generally well-to-the-left-of-center-leanings, I came to conclude, most reluctantly, that the teacher's union was part of the problem, not the solution. This is not to absolve the elected board of education or the administration of any responsibility, but the union steadfastly refused to work with either in addressing the educational and budgetary issues. In the mind of the leadership, cooperation was capitulation. Even between negotiations, it pursued an adversarial strategy designed to undermine the authority of management which, in practice, meant it wanted administrators to fail and, by implication, setting back educational progress for the kids. ...


Ezra, what kind of logic is that. Teacher unions don't explain bad schools: I went to a good school with unionized teachers. The problem isn't that teacher unions hurt or destroy schools; the problem is that teacher unions block reform when schools face serious problems ....


Are the unions the root cause? No, and most sensible folks don't say they are, even confirmed teacher's union haters on the right. Unions do relatively little damage in the areas where schools do well, areas which don't really need reform in any critical way ...[snip] ...The problem is that where more extreme measures might help, unions tend to oppose such measures fiercely.

I tend to think unions do more than simply block systemic reforms--or, rather, it is core union practices (especially protections against firings for bad performance) that need systemic reforming. But Klein's commenters seem to believe these practices aren't much of a problem in affluent school districts.. ...

P.S.: When it comes to the non-affluent districts, Klein asserts that criticizing teachers' unions is worse than empty "gesturing" because

By repeatedly ascribing blame to the teacher's unions, these pundits deflect attention from the endemic, root problems, and refocus on more discrete, and demonizable, culprits. This gives conservatives an easy way out of conversations on education reform, even as they lack an actual solution.

I dunno. It seems to me the consensus "root cause," if there is one, is the culture of fatherlessness and fecklessness that characterizes "ghetto poverty." Changing that culture was what welfare reform was all about. You can argue that welfare reform wasn't the right solution (I'd disagree) but you can't say conservatives or neolib teachers' union bashers didn't propose a solution at all. ... And what's Klein's? ...

P.P.S.: Is Eric Alterman just "gesturing" too? Or does he just have a kid in public school? ... [via Edwize] 10:27 P.M. link


John McCain has agreed to participate in a Spanish-language (translated into English) Univision GOP presidential debate on Sept. 16. This seems like an especially dangerous occasion for a Republican trying desperately to live down his pro-legalization immigration stand--unless he's going to pull a Senorita Souljah and tell the Univision crowd to sit still for an enforcement-only bill. But it seems to me that McCain's pal Lindsey Graham is probably better at phony, post-comprehensive seat-saving anti-illegal grandstanding. ... [via Drudge] 9:33 P.M.


Kausfiles--Solution-Oriented: In the least convincing chapter in my book,** the one where I desperately try to come up with ways to "mix the classes" in the suburbs, I mention the idea of "microzoning"--requiriing a mix of very small units in richer communities. I didn't really know what I was talking about--e.g., whether this obvious idea was old hat or discredited. It turns out that many suburbs, in Southern California at least, are considering such a move. Some are rejecting it, some are embracing it. ... P.S.: The beauty of tiny condos is that they don't have to be subsidized--they're naturally cheap because they're so small. Nor do you need regulations to restrict them to lower-income people. That's who will naturally want to buy or rent them. .... The social-egalitarian payoff: When you're shopping at the supermarket, nobody knows whether you come from a 300 or a 3,000 square foot condo. ...

**--"Danek S. Kaus" had nothing to do with this book. That's Amazon's mistake. ... [via MayorSam] 5:03 A.M.


"Married at 24": Is it that unusual to be married at age 24? ("Crazy in Love or just crazy?") I don't think so. ... Update: It's not. The median age of first marriage for women is 25. .... MSN is out of touch with the Real America! ... 3:47 P.M.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

HuffPo  nails Hillary on Kos dis: Hillary's blogspinners--and top YearlyKos executives!--cover up that she'd rather schmooze with Ron Perelman and Jessica Seinfeld than a roomful of wristbanded Kossacks. ... Update: Eric Alterman complains:

How silly is Mickey Kaus for linking to this? Was Hillary supposed to cancel a longstanding commitment to hundreds of people? Are the candidates supposed to run their campaigns without money and without public financing? In any case, this piece is completely wrong. Hillary had plenty of time, on her private plane to be in Chicago and to be at this fundraiser. Hey guys, she actually did both. So it's wrong on facts, as well as silly and naïve in its analysis, but hey who cares? I hear Edwards got a haircut. ...

1) Yes, Hillary has to have fundraisers. But then she should be honest about it--she shouldn't try to hide the cause of her "scheduling conflict" from the Kos crowd, treating them like children who can be conned. That's the basic complaint; 2) Yes, she was at the Kos convention and at the fundraiser, but she didn't apparently have time for the advertised "breakout" session after the YearlyKos candidates' forum. When Kossacks kicked up a fuss, a session was apparently hastily scheduled for before the forum3) These things are scheduled long in advance, as Alterman says. If she'd wanted to prevent a fundraiser/Kos conflict, she could have; 4) Just because candidates' have to raise money doesn't mean the standard critique of fatcat contributions--that the candidate then owes them-- doesn't apply. And there are plenty of fatcats I'd rather have the Clintons indebted to than Ron Perelman. ... P.S.: Did Alterman really fork over $1,000 for cocktails at Perelman's? $4,600? Or did they invite him for free because of his easygoing personality and publicity-generating potential? ....  12:41 P.M. link


Crankiest blogginghead of the week award goes to Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, who gets snip-snippy toward the end of this exchange with Conn Carroll. Some blame  all the coffee. But Stoller seemed to be in a discernably pissy mood from the beginning, even though he struggles manfully to be cordial, which leads me to suspect a deeper external cause. ... 12:18 A.M.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Bedless Blogger in Topless Hara: Luke Ford really doesn't have a bed. ... Note to Luke: Don't get one now! It's your trademark. ... P.S.: Also, now know how Ford broke the L.A. mayoral marital scandal--he got the story from L.A. Daily News reporter Tony Castro, whose editors had wimped out and spiked his report.  ("They didn't think the story qualified as much more than glorified gossip. ... ") I thought only L.A. Times editors did that. ... 2:33 P.M.


Arianna--Dramatic Before & After Photos: Getting glammer. Was it the move to the West or the move to the left? You make the call. ... 11:11 A.M.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Unless his veto is overridden, embattled New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer has seemingly saved his state's welfare reform from the Good Jobs Fallacy--the idea that it makes sense to tell welfare recipients to hold out for high-paying jobs ("aerospace engineers" and "chemists" are two of the professions mentioned)--before they have to go to work. Keeping recipients on the dole while they "train" for jobs they never get is a time-tested way of ... well, keeping recipients on the dole.  ...   New York Daily News' Bill Hammond makes the arguments against the bill; the New York Sun points out that under the current take-any-old-job philosophy, child poverty rates have dropped along with welfare caseloads. ... 3:54 P.M.


To get the real anti-Laurie side of the Laurie David/Larry David story--not the sex part, but hypocrisy angle-- you have to go to the web site of the Martha's Vineyard Times and read the posts from "Jackie." ...  There is a heartfelt haiku:

Built with size 12 shoes,
Trophy homes mean dirty feet:
Our carbon footprints.

P.S.: A pre-divorce defense of the Davids may be found  here (scroll down). ...P.P.S.: Haiku is attributed to "Hal". ... 1:00 A.M.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Nobody covers baseball like kausfiles: Last night I went to Dodger Stadium and saw Barry Bonds fail to run on a pop-fly that fell in for what should have been a double. Not inspiring. But a friend had some sound PR advice for Bonds. Retire now!Tonight. Before you break Aaron's record. That way you get good press for the rest of your life as the man who would have broken the record but chose not to. The way things are going, if you break the record you're going to get basically bad press for the rest of your life. ... Backfill: Several readers point out this idea has already been masticated by sports fans. See, e.g.., this Sally Jenkins column two weeks ago. ...  4:59 P.M. link


It would indeed be an "earthquake"--a GOP-friendly earthquake--if Californians  passed an initiative awarding its electoral votes by Congressional district rather than "winner take all." But they won't pass it. At least I don't see how it would have a prayer of passing in such a Democratic state. ... [via Influence Peddler4:52 P.M.


Mirthala Salinas: Twisting slowly, slowly? ... 4:40 P.M.


McCain's Hope--Turn His Back on the Press: A couple of weeks ago, Thomas Edsall wrote a piece on HuffiPo titled "Strategist's Agree: McCain's Only Option is to Turn His Back on Bush."  According to Edsall

The only place left for McCain is to be the anti-Bush Republican.

Being the anti-Bush Republican would involve a) attacking Republicans for corruption and overspending, while b) arguing that in Iraq "Bush not only failed to win a winnable war, but that conditions in Iraq are so terrible that withdrawal is now the only reasonable alternative."

Hmm. Sounds as if McCain's only hope, according to the Huffington Post's analyst, is to start sounding a lot like Arianna Huffington. I'm not sure this is a promising way to win a Republican primary, even if the other Republicans split the Republican vote. And there's an alternative to turning against Bush. It's this: Turning against the media.

Republican primary voters don't much like the media, after all. They see reporters as hopelessly biased against the Iraq war and biased against Bush. Reporters were also hopelessly biased in favor of McCain--one reason Republican primary voters didn't much like him either. Or, rather, reporters were biased in his favor until he backed the war and embraced Bush. Now they're piling on the contempt and scorn--which gives McCain a double opportunity: he can bash the hated liberal press while casting himself as the embattled, principled defender of Republican policies even if it costs him his elite Washington friends.

McCain has a "rebellious persona," according to Edsall. I don't write good McCain, but what if he said something rebellious like this ...

"I know the liberal media. Heck, I was the darling of the liberal media. They're my friends, many of them. I like them. But I think I was only their friend as long as they thought I would undermine the President. When I defended the president, when I refused to surrender in Iraq and supported the surge that is only now bearing fruit--they turned on me like a pack of jackals. That's the way it is.

I could do no wrong before--when I blew my stack they said I was passionate, when I disagreed with them they said I was admirably principled. Now when I disagree with them they just say I'm wrong, I'm stubborn, I've lost. It's August and their idea of in-depth reporting is coming up with new ways of asking me when I'm going to give up my campaign. I think they're about to call in Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton to negotiate my withdrawal.

You know what? I don't care what they think. I like good press. I admit. But they can take a hike. I've made mistakes in this campaign--lots--but I'm going to say what I think. I'm not going to accept defeat in Iraq when victory is possible. And if Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos don't like it, that's life. They're two votes. And they're ... there's a word for it. They're Democrats. I'm a Republican. I don't expect the Democratic media to love me. It was fun while it lasted. But the Democratic media isn't going to pick the Republican nominee."

I'm not saying I agree with these sentiments. After "comprehensive immigration reform" I'm certainly not for McCain. I'm saying the tactic has a good chance of working. McCain isn't running for the editorial board of the Huffington Post (yet). And in a Republican primary, media-bashing seems to hold out more promise than Iraq-bashing and Bush-bashing? ....

Wouldn't strategists agree? ...

P.S.: This is not my idea. I got it from a McCain-friendly friend. ...

P.P.S.: Emailer S.S. notes that "if there's anything the press loves more than a straight-talker, it's someone who bites the media's hand." So bashing the press would also get McCain ... good press! It's not win-win. It's win-win-win! ... 3:57 A.M. link


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

MEREDITH, N.H. (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Monday accused Democrats of favoring a controlling "nanny government" as he continued his bashing of the rival party.

Hmm. What mayor was it again who installed those hectoring recordings in New York cabs that kept telling you to buckle your seat belt? I forget his name. I think it's the same guy who cracked down on jaywalkers and street peddlers. ... 2:42 A.M. link


Monday, July 30, 2007

Tom Snyder, R.I.P.: When my book came out in the early 1990s, I went on a highly ... er, selective media tour that included a stop at the Cahuenga Pass studio of Tom Snyder's radio show. For whatever reasons--Snyder understood what I was trying to do with the book, or he drew easily on his life experiences, or he was a warm personality or just a good questioner--it was the best interview I did. After a disastrous stillborn conversation with All Things Considered, it was heartening to know I could get on someone 's wavelength. Even if Snyder was faking it--especially if he was faking it--I'm grateful. But he didn't seem to be. ... 2:34  P.M.


Doing Pinch's Job**: Emailer X has an idea for replacing the hated TimesSelect paywall while making Pinch Sulzberger's New York Times some extra money. X notes--as have many others-- that with TimesSelect Sulzberger is perversely giving away the paper's unique, expensive-to-create product (timely, authoritative reporting) while attempting to charge for its easily-imitated product (opinion). Instead, X says,

[H]ere is a proposal for The New York Times (and all other publications that have invested heavily in news gathering): charge for early access to your stories. I'm sitting here before bed on the West Coast, as I do most nights, reading tomorrow's paper and looking to get an early jump on the news. And I'm quite taken with the lead story about FBI Director Mueller's contradiction of Attorney General Gonazalez's Senate testimony. In fact, I might even pay for the privilege of doing so. Imagine if, instead of posting the full stories for all web users, before 6 a.m. Eastern (and 3 a.m. Pacific) -- though the best specific times are debatable -- only a stub like the one that now appears for non-TimesSelect members who click a link to an Op-Ed column appeared for non-members who browsed to stories that would appear in the next day's papers. The Times could become more aggressive about posting stories to the web as soon as they were ready the night they're closed -- but only fully viewable to those who paid a fee to be a member of this reverse form of TimesSelect.

... There are all sorts of people--not least, public relations executives, members of the media, bloggers who like to link to big news as soon as they can--who would probably see fit to fork over more than what TimesSelect now charges to get a few hours' jump on the next day's news. [E.A.]

Seems promising to me. If, as has been argued, TimesSelect is not really about creating a new revenue stream but rather about hanging on to high-paying print subscribers by offering them special Web access--well, print subscribers could get the early access for free with their subscriptions, just as they now get TimesSelect. .... The only problem I see is that Times reporters might see the service as offering competitors a chance to read their stories and match them before those stories are available to the general Web public. But the gist of Times reporters scoops will still be available instantly to all in short, "stub" form.  NYT reporters will still get credit within the profession, the scoops will (presumably) still get mentioned on Drudge and discussed in blogs-- and everyone will be able to read them soon enough. ... If the paper really wants to surprise the competition it could hold any huge scoops until the actual, printed paper comes out--or just put them outside the "early access" pay wall in selected instances. ...

**--I know Emailer X. Emailer X is much smarter than Pinch Sulzberger. Trust me. ... 2:00 A.M. list


For seven years, Democrats have faced a radical administration that operates in bad faith. Yet there was the Democratic Leadership Council, still arguing that teachers unions endanger the republic.

Hmm. Yes, Bush's Iraq war and his general approach to terrorism are more important than education. But I still think education is kind of important! Even more important maybe than, say, Bush's Social Security semi-privatization (misguided as it was). And I still think you can't reform public education without somehow beating back the teachers' unions. ... How about this--the DLC can stop talking about the teachers' unions when the Democratic candidates stop talking about No Child Left Behind. Deal? If one approach to reforming schools important enough to mention then the other is, no? ... P.S.: Here's a useful primer on what "Adequate Yearly Progress" means under NCLB, co-written by Eduwonk, who asks:

[D]id you know that in only five states do more than 8 in 10 students in any schools have to pass the state test* in order for the school to meet the goal? The median targets nationally are closer to 5 or 6 students in 10 having to pass the state test for the school to meet the state goal. Important context when all the hand wringing starts in August about how unrealistic this all is... [E.A.]

1:05 A.M. link



Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. 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. 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. 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]