mickey's assignment desk



Hit Parade Archives
July, 2001

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Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports that a) Chandra Levy's cell phone records show few calls to Rep. Condit's special contact number after mid-April -- and, during the crucial last week in April, "no calls at all" to the line "or any other number used by the congressman;" and b) "Levy's home phone records also show no calls to Condit during this period." ... Hmmm. Doesn't the dearth of phone calls 'prove too much,' as they say in law school. If Condit and Levy's relationship was as copacetic as Condit apparently claims, wouldn't you expect at least some calls? Or, alternatively, doesn't the absence of calls suggest that Levy had some other channel of communication with Condit? ... (7/29)

Weird pro-Condit column by Tucker Carlson, who claims the congressman is the victim of "sexual snobbery" because he's considered "a farm-team pickup artist in polyester pants" whom it's "easy to imagine ... cruising for chicks in some racquetball club in central California." Interesting contrarian thesis, except that it's Carlson who's the sexual snob in the piece, noting that "neckties knotted together"--cited in the press as evidence of "kinky sex"--are a square's idea of kinkiness. "Maybe in Modesto," he sniffs. ... So Condit's critics are bad because they're sexual snobs, and they're bad because they're sexually unsophisticated. Which is it? Hello! Editor! ... Carlson finishes off with a description of Condit's behavior so tendentious (Summary: "Condit has cooperated, and about as fully as anyone could") it would make Marina Ein blush. ... (7/28)

One of the most obviously shaky bits of the paleoliberal party line has been the claim that the halving of the welfare caseload since 1996 (and the dramatic increase in work among single mothers) has been the product of the booming economy, not of the 1996 welfare reform. Why is it shaky? Because we've had booming economies before, and nothing like what's happening now has ever happened before. (During the '80s boom the caseload actually rose. And the original "welfare explosion" -- resulting in a tripling of the rolls -- occurred during the great 1960s expansion.) But if this common sense doesn't convince you, ex-CBO chief June O'Neill and M. Anne Hill have regression equations. They estimate that welfare reform "accounts for more than half of the decline in welfare participation and more than 60 percent of the rise in employment among single mothers." ... They've also dug up an embarrassing, rigorously, down-the-line wrong prediction of doom from Katha Pollitt --

" ... we know how welfare reform will turn out, too: wages will go down, families will fracture, millions of children will be more miserable than ever."
In the event, wages have gone up [PDF], families are forming, not fracturing, child poverty has plummeted. No wonder the conventional left wants to give the credit to the economy. The alternative is too grim to contemplate. ... (7/27)

All those arrangements to be made with the watch case, and the phony lie detector test, and the hours spent not talking to the press or his constituents, and Rep. Gary Condit still has time to make EBay take down a collage about Chandra that some poor artist has made, reports LAT. Condit's office claimed it violated his "right of publicity." ... This guy is tidy! He ties up all the loose ends. ... Bonus Media Angle: How dumb is the LAT to run this as an "Internet" story below the fold in the business section? ... (7/27)

Condit in a box: Come to think of it, why would Condit throw out a watch box? If he was covering up evidence of a romantic gift, wouldn't the watch itself be the key thing? The box doesn't add any evidentiary value -- unless it had some sort of inscription, or fingerprints, blood, or other chemical evidence, or the watch itself is lost or missing, or (most intriguingly) Condit didn't want police asking what had happened to the watch. ... Josh Marshall -- who happily seems to have overcome his American-Prospectish jitters about becoming too Chandra-centric -- asks the key question: Where's the watch? ... (7/26)

The needle has finally moved in the Chandra case. ... Bad news for Dan Rather! ... (7/26)

Michael Doyle's excellent Condit/Levy coverage for the Bee papers captures a lot of what it's like to deal with the dissembling Condit camp as a reporter. Also what it was like to work in the Congressman's office over the years. Hint: bring lots of Kleenex, for those tearful, emotionally-distressed female aides. And now, bring a lawyer! ... Meanwhile, James Risen of the NYT gets a key fact wrong, Josh Marshall points out. ... (7/26)

Were you aware of the controversy over the right-wing's demonization of Tom Daschle? I wasn't. (You can get a fill on the site Spinsanity and in this American Prospect piece.) Some of the anti-demonizing complaints seem overblown -- why shouldn't the right be able to call Daschle "partisan"? It's not a meaningless concept, and does seem to fit Daschle. "Puff Daschle," meanwhile, is just too dumb to stick. Perhaps Rush Limbaugh's analogy of Daschle with "Satan" went a little too far. But since the people of Vermont voted for a Republican, doesn't Daschle's means of ascent (Jeffords) make him at least a little bit "illegitimate," as charged? ... At the same time, there is something objectionable (and relatively new) about mounting a coordinated instant anti-Daschle campaign using any weapon that falls to hand -- which also seems to be what's happening. The damn-Daschle strategy has a lot to do with Limbaugh's need to earn his reported $250 million fee by keeping his listeners charged up (and the need of all the would-be Limbaughs to do the same). If it were only votes at stake, everyone would be a lot calmer. ... (7/26)

The LAT, long considered a temple of political correctness, actually has a good anti-PC "wacky items" column buried on page E2. ... (7/25)

Long WaPo update on the Brian Dalton case (he's the man sentenced to prison for writing child-porn fantasies in a private diary). Rallying support for free thought requires portraying Dalton's situation as dire. But just between us, it's a total lock. Even the Family Research Council expert says "this seems to me to be a case of punishing a person's thoughts." The Ohio prosecutor who called that a "breakthrough" is now declining comment. ... [Maybe this is what got you spiked at AOL--ed. But OpinionJournal.com was on the Dalton case early, and AOL hasn't touched them.] (7/25)

Despite all the fuss, did the Hispanic vote really amount to only 5.4 percent of the electorate? UPI's Steve Sailer examines unpublicized Census data to deflate some of the current Hispanic hype. ... Mexican-Americans accounted for just 3 percent of the vote. ... African-Americans (who may actually be annoyed by Bush's flamboyant courtship of Latinos) cast 11.5 percent of the votes, twice as many as Hispanics and almost four times as many as Mexican-Americans. ... In 2004 the Hispanic share is expected to rise, but only to 6 percent. ... (7/25)

I recommend the Great "Hater" Debate going on in the Letters page of Romenesko's MediaNews. It all started when Mark Shields attempted to say something nice to WaPo about Paul Gigot, upon the latter's promotion to head of the WSJ editorial page:

He is a committed conservative, no question about it, but he's not a hater."
Shields, as some of Romenesko's readers have pointed out, is saying a good deal more about his own philosophy here than about Gigot's. Shield's clearly thinks that a) liberal motives are usually purer and better than conservative motives, and b) it's fair to judge politicians by their motives (as opposed to, say, the outcomes of their policies). There's a lot of smug self-satisfaction here, and a blindered quality too. In the PBS/NPR/CNN culture in which he swims, Shields probably never expected that his remarks would even be controversial. ... I don't think I'm asserting a false symmetry -- the point isn't that if a conservative said this about a liberal he'd be pilloried. You can't really imagine a typical conservative saying this about a liberal. It's a peculiarly liberal sin. ... (7/24)

Now ... "Explicitly Mature"! Access to kausfiles.com is now being blocked by AOL's parental filtering controls, even when they're set at the "mature teens" level (which in theory only blocks "sites with explicitly mature content"). ... It must have been that racy German labor market item. ... Or is kausfiles another victim of Gary Condit and pregnant chad? [More likely the "fuck" in the Chris Rock joke.--ed. That was artistically necessary.] ... Yet Slate, Joshua Marshall, Virginia Postrel, and even Andrew Sullivan remain unsuppressed! Is that fair? ... Eugene Volokh was certainly right about "censorship envy." ... (7/23)

Gerald Reynolds, Bush's nominee to a key civil rights post at the Dept. of Education, is being attacked from the left on the grounds that he might loosen regulations that equalize funding between men's and women's college sports. Why not attack him because he opposes racial preferences in admissions (which he apparently does)? Is it because defense of race-based affirmative action has become a political loser? That's columnist Robert George's theory. ... It does seem as if, ten years ago, Reynold's would have been instantly lambasted for wanting to "turn back the clock" on race preferences. ... Maybe the anti-preference position will become so popular that President Bush might actually dare to embrace it in public! ... (7/23)

Germany now has about 9 percent unemployment. When VW proposed hiring 5,000 workers for 5,000 marks a month (about $27,000 annually) to build a new minivan, thousands of job-seekers "flocked to company headquarters in Wolfsburg the next day." But the big IG Metall union "vetoed the new hires because they would be paid below union scale and the jobs were guaranteed only for three years, not the usual lifetime," reports LAT's Carol Williams. ... Stories about how inflexible European-style labor power is preventing economic progress in Germany have become hardy perennials--for a reason. (They continue to be true.) Williams' also features a recent Eurosclerotic ur-quote from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder:

"If we look at the claims for flexibility ... each is connected with a demand that the government take away from large groups of working people parts of their security and ability to plan for their lives. We do not want this kind of change. This would contradict all German and European traditions."
A security-obsessed mindset seems unlikely to succeed in a New Economy. Is it time to start worrying about Germany again? (7/23)

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh (who runs the Web site Center-Right) makes a fresh (to me) point about the proposed flag-burning amendment -- it would set loose a highly divisive emotion, "censorship envy." You've banned burning the American flag? What about flying the Confederate flag? How easy will it be to tell aggrieved groups "We've suppressed the symbolic speech we don't like, but not the speech you don't like?" ... (7/23)

40,340 visits to kausfiles from 14,785 distinct Internet addresses last week. Half a million minutes of viewing time. Thank you! We're on track becoming profitable next year. ... No wait! That's Amazon.com. We're profitable now! ... (7/23)

The N.Y. Post buries the lede, or at least the significant pro-Condit news that 1) "[T]he California minister who said his teen daughter had an affair with the married congressman now admits fabricating the story"; 2) "[A] man who worked with Chandra ... and sometimes walked her home at night has refused to take a lie-detector test for D.C. cops." The man was "the last person Levy phoned before vanishing" ... Even the Post's anti-Condit top angle--he was seen "dumping something in a street trash bin before cops searched his apartment"--has a pro-Condit aspect. What he was dumping was apparently evidence of a gift from yet another woman. The sheer extent of Condit's secret life--and his paranoia that if he publicly admits one affair the press might unravel it all--remains the most innocent explanation for his continued silence. So any evidence of his paranoia about having his sex life become public--even furtive dumping of gift boxes--tends, perversely, to partially exculpate him. ... (7/20)

Nepal's Prince Paras, now next in line to that country's throne, is an arrogant bad boy who has a habit of backing over people in his four-wheel drive luxury vehicle. In order to succeed as king, he will need an attractive queen and some top-notch PR work. ... Lizzie Grubman is an attractive, skilled PR woman who just backed over some people in her four-wheel-drive luxury vehicle. She needs a glamorous way to leave New York and start a new life, perhaps in some exotic foreign country with laxer traffic laws. ... Am I crazy, or did a light bulb just go on here! ... (7/20)

July 15, 2001: Kausfiles criticizes Democratic House staffer Julian Epstein for his ubiquitous TV punditry on behalf of Rep. Gary Condit, which associates Democrats with a scandal they could otherwise stay out of.
July 16, 2001: Roll Call reports Epstein is being criticized by House Democrats.
July 19, 2001: WaPo reports Epstein is leaving his job "to start his own lobbying firm and pursue opportunities in television and teaching."
Kausfiles gets results!

Concern for the First Amendment tends to evaporate when the discussants include parents and the expression at issue is child pornography. So Bob Herbert gets credit for taking up the cause of Brian Dalton, a 22-year-old who has been sentenced to seven years in prison for writing down private thoughts, involving fictional characters, in a private journal he never intended anyone else to see. (It was discovered in a search of his home.) ... It's hard to believe that Dalton's incarceration doesn't violate the Constitution and that he won't be sprung soon, thanks in part to Herbert. ... James Taranto's "Best of the Web" blog at OpinionJournal denounced the Dalton sentence two weeks ago. Shame on kausfiles for not immediately joining the cause. ... Next civil-libertarian point to make: It's not illegal to be a hate-filled racist either! The David Brock article in the current Talk magazine ridicules Ann Coulter for pointing this out. But Coulter is right and Talk is (smugly) wrong. ... (7/19)

Gossip columnist Jeannette Walls--a hero because she's funny, fearless and mocks the celebrity culture she reports on--finally unloads on publicist Lizzie Grubman, the national spokesmodel for the crowd-dispersal capabilities of the Mercedes ML55 AMG sport-utility vehicle. ... The newsletter version of Walls' article has some bonus autobiographical grafs describing the Hamptons as a Petri dish of social inequality:

A woman I visited once got angry with me for tossing a ball to the 5-year old son of her live-in help. "It will make them feel too equal," she impatiently explained.
Then there's the one about the producer who wanted to turn his beach house into a moss-bedecked Southern plantation. When it was explained that moss wouldn't grow on Long Island, the producer yelled "Import the soil! Create the climate!" ... Grubman is a fine person to pay for all this. And nobody was killed! She's The Perfect Story ... (7/17)

Condit's flack pushes Chandra's "history of one night stands." In Salon, Josh Marshall points out this isn't very effective PR, and also doesn't seem to be true. ... If it were true, it would certainly be relevant. But it would still be dumb PR. ... (Memo to kausfiles' friend Marina Ein: You gotta go "off the record" when you're calling the victim a slut!) ... (7/16)

Roll Call reports that Rep. John Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Dems, says he has told committee aide and aspiring all-purpose gasbag Julian Epstein (denounced here by kausfiles) to stop being a Condit pundit on TV. But there appears to have been some miscommunication! ... (7/16)

One other obvious explanation for why Chandra Levy might have left her apartment without her ID or her purse, of course, is that she was just going to visit a neighbor or someplace in her building. Newsweek reports that "Police interviewed a man in Levy's building who had been arrested four times on assault charges." But they've found "no evidence connecting him" to Levy's disappearance. Still, kausfiles, who is not as uninformed as it may seem, suggests it might be worth keeping an eye on that corner of the investigation. ... (7/15)

School's Out! Don't worry, you do not have to read that endless, multi-sidebarred front-page NYT story about ... well, something scandalous involving the overseas absentee vote in Florida last November. That's because, while you spend precious leisure time with your loved ones, kausfiles' proprietary Series-SkipperTM technology will be employed to process all 397 column inches, the better to tell you what (if anything) you missed. ... Enjoy your Sunday! ... P.S.: If you don't want to wait for Series-SkipperTM, Eric Umansky dispatches the NYT package in four grafs in Slate's "Today's Papers". ... (7/15)

Joshua Marshall redeems himself with an intriguing exegesis of the resume of Barry Colvert, who conducted the in-house lie-detector test of Gary Condit. ... It turns out Colvert performed a similar stunt for ex-Teamster president Ron Carey, another Marina Ein client. ... (7/14)

Don't Go CBS on Us, Josh! The usually reliable Josh Marshall denounces WaPo's report on Gary Condit's alleged affair with an 18-year-old because it "doesn't seem to have any relevance to this case." But of course it's highly relevant! It's relevant if Chandra Levy's mother talked to Chandra about the affair, as both the ex-18-year-old's father and Mrs. Levy assert in the WaPo. It's even more relevant if, as Mrs. Levy says, Chandra later said she'd talked to Condit about the alleged prior affair, and he had "explained it all" to her. That was two weeks before she disappeared. ... If Chandra confronted Condit about the prior affair, that certainly let Condit know that Levy could conceivably blab about more than just their own affair. According to various sources, Condit was quite concerned about such information coming out, something that's pretty obvious from his own behavior since Levy's disappearance. ... Why would it matter that Chandra could blab about some other affair when she could always blab about her own affair? Two affairs might not do much more damage than one -- but her knowledge of the prior affair makes it much more likely that Levy would have blabbed, or threatened to blab, or thought of blabbing, or led Condit to think she would blab. She was in love, remember (or so it seems). In her mind, her own affair wasn't anything to threaten anybody with, because there was nothing wrong with it. But a prior affair? ... At this point, there are so many pieces of the puzzle to fit together that it's almost irresponsible not to speculate about this sort of scenario, along with all the others. ... P.S. Aldrich Ames passed a lie detector test too. Three times! ... (7/14)

"People were on that list for years and years with great hopes, built their lives around that list. If you got on it, it might take a while, but eventually you would get in."
That's Jenny Laurie, executive director of the N.Y Metropolitan Council on Housing, lamenting the decision of the huge Stuyvesant Town apartment complexes to rent out vacant wait-listed units at market rents of $2,100/month or more, rather than at "rent-stabilized" rents of about $1,000. Is it healthy for a city to have people "build their lives" around a waiting list? Isn't it better for them to build their lives around something else, like doing their best work? The Stuyvesant Town story is the latest indication that the rent control compromise of 1997, long considered a sellout by Gov. George Pataki to rent-control forces, is gradually allowing large numbers of apartments to escape control, and will have a big impact on the nature of New York City life, probably for the better. ... Certainly better for Brooklyn! ... (7/13)

WaPo's David Broder notes a relatively subtle, insider's reason some Democrats don't really want to ban soft money:

... the proposed ban on federal officials raising soft money for their state and local parties would deprive them of influence at home and, potentially, leave them more vulnerable to challenge in primaries or redistricting disputes ....

In an annoyingly skillful online-only essay, New Republic editor Peter Beinart argues that with "Bush's approval ratings plummeting" it's clear that "for the foreseeable future, corporation-bashing is good politics." One problem with Beinart's piece is that Bush's approval rating just rebounded. The deeper problem -- since Bush's numbers may drop again -- is that nowhere in the essay does Beinart betray any sign that he thinks corporation-bashing is right. He says "private corporations-airlines and HMOs and software giants ... seem arrogant, overbearing and callous." Sure. But are they arrogant, overbearing, and callous? And if so, is their arrogance and overbearingness really the most important challenge confronting American citizens today? I can't believe Beinart really thinks the answers are yes, but he doesn't seem (handy word!) to feel an obligation to answer at all. Corporation-bashing works in the polls -- that's good enough for him. ... But often bad (wrong) politics is good (effective) politics. Just ask Gray Davis! ... (7/13)

Policy Statement: In response to the Andrew Sullivan advertising controversy, and in order to maintain the highest possible ethical standards, kausfiles, like Sullivan, has decided to "set up a very strict editorial/corporate wall" hermetically sealing off our editorial department, headed by Mickey Kaus, from our advertising sales department, headed by R. M. Kaus. ... Have you ever seen both of them at the same party? That's how separate they are! ... (7/13)

Neal ("I was conned by Denise Rich") Travis says that the long-rumored Don Van Natta anti-Bush NYT investigative piece on absentee ballots in Florida -- flagged in kausfiles over a month ago (the item's still down there somewhere!) -- is about to be published. ... (7/12)

Dick Morris does a better job than kausfiles [You beat him by eons!--D.Manning] of explaining Bush's predicament: Bush had a "limited agenda," has fulfilled three of his 5 basic promises, and "has, basically, nothing left to do." With no issues of his own to credibly push, he's forced to deal with what others thrust upon him (e.g. patients bill of rights, stem cells). ... But Morris's list of twelve potential Bush issues seems weak. Sample: "Funding to promote conflict-control and anger-management courses in schools." ... (7/11)

Kausfiles' fellow me-ziner Andrew Sullivan has backed himself into a corner with his strangely mechanical defense of Rep. Condit's right to freedom from media interest in his sex life. Now Sullivan is saying it's "completely irrelevant" that Condit may have had neckties tied together under his bed and voiced "peculiar" sexual fantasies (in the words of one of Condit's lovers' lawyers). But since people not infrequently die having a sort of sex that involves semi-strangulation, it's not irrelevant at all -- but rather a clue that might help solve the mystery. ... Maureen Dowd is a voice of sanity today on this issue. It's fine to have a presumption of privacy surrounding sex. But when you run for office, you give up a little bit of it -- and when somebody's been missing for months, and you're an obvious suspect, and you've indeed behaved in a highly suspicious manner (hiding, lying, delaying), the presumption's got to give. When there's a non-trivial possibility that the missing person was actually killed during sex itself, what remains of the taboo on discussing the subject goes out the window, no? If ever there were a case for sex police, this is it! ... (7/11)

Kausfiles recently harnessed the power of the Web to help President Bush meet his current challenge, which is finding "issues" that will both appeal to moderates and give his presidency an achievable purpose. (Setting up private Social Security accounts, never an easy task, now looks non-achievable.) Thanks to all who emailed. The most promising suggestions (other than the earlier idea of boosting, yet again, the Earned Income Tax Credit) seem to be:

1. Drug liberalization: Either easing up on marijuana, or softening excessively harsh penalties in general, or reducing disparities in the treatment of rock and powdered cocaine. This has become one of those "cross-wired" issues on which only Republicans dare take the sensible, more liberal position.

2. Establish some sort of broad, federally-funded after-school program. Teachers get paid more; working parents don't have to worry about what their children are doing between 3 and 6 P.M.. ...

3. Some sort of immigration reform. The National Review Online has the most effective idea (in terms of impact-for-effort) -- sponsor a constitutional amendment to allow immigrants to become President. But there are undoubtedly other, nuts-and-boltsier reforms.

4. Fight fat! Obesity has become a major public health problem. Encouraging better nutrition and exercise would be a useful employment of the bully pulpit -- a Clintonesque use, maybe, but not phony because obesity's a real problem and a publicity drive could have a large impact. The campaign would also have the salutary side effect of undermining exaggerated liberal claims about widespread hunger and under-nutrition.
Indeed, Bush may be the President who could most effectively use the non-legislative "new Presidency" model that Clinton (according to his speechwriter, Michael Waldman) pioneered after his 1994 setback. Clinton had a substantial, conventional legislative agenda -- he just lost control of Congress and couldn't get it through, so he turned to speechifying. Bush doesn't have a big legislative agenda to begin with (and he's already accomplished half of it). ... (7/10)

Not a home run: Time's Margaret Carlson adds an important detail in the Chandra Levy case -- "investigators determined that her running shoes were in her apartment," seemingly eliminating one explanation of what she might have been doing leaving without her purse, and also eliminating one popular pro-Condit scenario (random abduction while jogging). ... (7/10)

Kausfiles' public affairs department has issued a press release. (7/9)

Help Bush find something to do! According to both LAT's Ron Brownstein and WaPo's Thomas Edsall, the Bush administration is conducting an in-house search for the "next phase" of issues that will expand the GOP base into the center and into new groups such as Hispanics. According to Brownstein, these will be "new initiatives -- in areas such as education and the poor -- that could help Bush reinforce his credentials as a centrist 'compassionate conservative.'" ... Three points:

1) It's come to this -- an "internal review" to drum up new initiatives -- already! Clinton didn't reach this point until several years into his term, if I remember. ... Maybe if "compassionate conservatism" had more content to it, they wouldn't need a search party. ...

2) One reason the prospect of "new initiatives" is so dreary is that Bush seems unlikely to take a strong stand in two areas where Republicanism might have some transformative bite. They are a) choice in education and b) ending racial preferences. On choice, Bush has already retreated, compromising away vouchers and staking his reform on testing. (A big push for charter schools is a thought, though.) On race preferences, Bush either doesn't care much about ending them or he isn't willing to take the Reaganesque risk of being on the losing end of the argument for a while, especially when an anti-preference stand will be portrayed as hostile to the minority groups he's supposed to be wooing. ...

3) So what can Bush's issue-hunters come up with that's not a Dick Morris school-uniform micro-issue? I can think of one thing: expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps the working poor without raising the minimum wage. The press loves this tax credit; I'm sure it polls well. True, a few conservatives (such as Sen. Nickles) have opposed the EITC over the years, but even they've been largely beaten down. Reagan liked it! Clinton expanded the EITC dramatically (it now offers a $3,888 bonus to a $10,700-a-year minimum wage worker with two children) -- but it can always be boosted a little more! At some point, the credit might get so large that toxic side effects (e.g. workers working less) will set in. But there's no indication we're near that point. ... Reader suggestions of other Bush base-expanders will be accepted. ... Send emails to "Help Bush Find a Purpose," c/o kausfiles ... Be constructive! ... Any smart lobbyist with a pet issue would recognize the Bush policy vacuum as a chance to get something done! ... (7/9)

Marina goes meta: Even in staid Washington, PR people have taken to publicizing how well their publicity is going. "That was a home run," Marina Ein, publicist for Rep. Gary Condit, said after D.C.'s police chief announced that Condit had answered all the cops' questions and wasn't a suspect. ... Isn't "Home run!" the sort of thing you're supposed to tell the client, not the press? ... Next WaPo headline: CONDIT SPOKESWOMAN CLAIMS VICTORY IN GETTING POST TO PRINT THIS HEADLINE/"We got the Times too!" says Ein. ... (7/9)

Salon's new slogan: "We're not dead yet ..." -- David Talbot, Salon editor-in-chief. (7/9)

"And I really have some big news or something important to tell. Call me."--message left by Chandra Levy on her aunt's answering machine on April 29, the day before Levy was last seen. ... WaPo buries the lede! ... The nasty logic: With each indication that Chandra Levy's disappearance occurred at the time of some important scheduled event in her relationship with Gary Condit, the odds that she just happened to be a victim of some random street crime at the same time would seem to grow longer. It's also increasingly unlikely she committed suicide (no body) and unlikely that she would voluntarily disappear and put her parents through he torture they are experiencing. That leaves ... (7/6)

Even the liberal New Republic ... ! The classic issue the mainstream press misreports, because it "wants to believe" a particular story, is union organizing. In part this is because the reporters who gravitate to the organized-labor beat tend to be even more pro-labor than the average journalist. (You probably wouldn't want to attend lots of AFL-CIO meetings in Bal Harbour if you thought unions shouldn't exist. Nor would the unions particularly want to talk to you.) A union resurgence would be an interesting development to report, complicating the plot and allowing all sorts of stirring human-interest sidebars. ... So how many stories have you read over the past few years on AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney's energetic leadership, or labor's success in organizing this or that group of workers? (Here's one from today's NYT.) You'd think labor was on the comeback trail. ... Wrong, reports John Judis in The New Republic. Sweeney's organizing efforts have basically flopped. Under Sweeney, the percent of the American workforce that's unionized "has fallen at an even faster rate than it did during [Lane] Kirkland's last five years." The absolute "number of private sector union workers fell by 252,000," even in a healthy economy. Labor lost members even if you count the public sector. ... Judis fingers some of the main factors in labor's decline -- "the shift from manufacturing to services and from large factories to small offices." But he leaves out one other factor: non-union factories are outperforming union factories even in manufacturing -- in the auto industry, for example. I bet non-union Honda isn't shrinking its U.S. workforce! ... When it comes to organized labor, kausfiles has always taken a stand in solidarity with its comrade, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, when he said, "The jury is still out on whether the traditional union is necessary for the new workplace." But the jury's coming back. ... (7/6)

The insufferable Jonathan Tasini claims the lawsuit he recently won is part of an "unrelenting war against creators of every stripe, a battle that is a threat to the survival of independent thought, our culture and freedom of expression." Wow! At least he didn't overstate his case! ... And here I thought his lawsuit was about freelancers' contract rights during the transition to new technologies (e.g. the Web) that have obviously resulted in more freedom of expression, not less. ... But Tasini doesn't have a democratic view of expression. In his world, there are "creators" -- a "we" that includes "actors screenwriters, phtographers, artists, illustrators and writers" -- and then there's everyone else. ... Please keep this megalomaniacal, elitist, self-promoting backward-looking union hack away from my copyrights! Thank you! ... (7/5)

I'll never beat this site for Chandra-obsessiveness ... and won't try. ... (Kausfiles does not vouch for its reliability. ... We link. You decide!) ... (7/4)

Wait! Maybe it's not the coverup, it's the crime! If Gary Condit really told flight attendant Anne Marie Smith

I'm going to have to disappear for a while. I think I may be in some trouble.
and if he told her that before he learned from Chandra Levy's parents that Levy had disappeared, that would tend to implicate him in her disappearance, no? That's not a coverup point. It's a crime point! ... The press, by focusing on the obstruction-of-justice aspect of Smith's charges, may be burying the lede here. ... And why would Condit risk an obvious obstruction-of-justice problem unless he had an awfully good reason -- i.e. unless there really was some justice to obstruct? ... Joshua Micah Marshall cleverly points out that Condit's denial of Smith's "don't talk to the FBI" charge was really another non-denial, if you parse it. ... Then Marshall ties himself in gratuitous knots trying to distinguish the Levy case, in which he's obviously interested, from the Clinton case, where he claims the press' interest wasn't legitimate. He also notes that he's been trying to stay away from writing about Levy. ... Memo to Josh: You were Chandra Central! What happened -- did some old lefty buddy sit on you over lunch? ... (7/3)

Americans favor legalized abortion by only a 52-43 margin, according to an ABC News-Beliefnet poll.. Isn't that relatively big news? You won't find it in the NYT or WaPo .... (7/3)

Fox won't stop: The latest Condit revelation. All together now: "It's not the crime, it's the ..." (7/2)

My favorite blind quote from Marjorie Williams's excellent Vanity Fair piece on the Clinton/Gore split:

"The whole bus tour, the foursome thing, the press really wanted to believe that," says a former White House official. "The press went with it, and there was no reason for the president or the vice president to shoot it down."
Now we know that the press, in large part, got it wrong. What current stories is the press going with largely because it wants to believe them? The Bush-Kennedy "odd couple" relationship, I suspect. And almost anything having to do with resurgent unionism, rising Latino power, or John McCain. ... Additional nominations accepted. ... [You liked that better than the Boorstin penis quote?-ed. That wasn't blind!] ... One beef with Williams' piece: She argues that the sharp Democratic debate about why Gore lost is really the personal "Clinton-Gore divorce dressed up in ideological clothing," accepting a blind quotester's characterization of it as "a lot of false choices." No! It's a lot of real choices! Either you are for greater unionization or you're skeptical. Either you're for race-based preferences or you're not. Either you think the problems facing average Americans are mostly caused by rich, powerful interests that must be defeated, or you think they are mostly just difficult problems that need to be solved, often by defeating non-rich, powerful interests. Either you think welfare programs are unpopular because they're targeted to the poor and are freighted with racist stereotypes, or you think welfare programs are unpopular because they send cash to people who could be working but aren't. These are choices Democrats may be able to put off, but they aren't false choices and they predate both Clinton and Gore. ... (7/2)

I have a little list: Bush's decline in the polls isn't a bogus story, but is his "ship" really "listing," as this NYT headline declares? ... I don't know ships, but it seems to me that when you start "listing," you're in real trouble in a way Bush is not. Yet. ... Raines hasn't taken over already, has he? ... (7/2)

More than 114,000 visits to kausfiles in June -- from 33,428 distinct Internet addresses. That's 66,856 eyeballs and over a third of a million fingers! At 11.39 minutes a visit, it also represents approximately 1,303,608 minutes of viewing time. By that measure this was kf's best month ever. ... Thank you! (7/1)

August 2001 archive

June 2001 archive

McCain-Feingold archive

for July, 2001

Not all Condit ... but it's close!
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Banned in Dulles Is kausfiles porn?

Waiting to XP Why the economy will revive on October 25.

There's a Scandal in Here Somewhere! Series-SkipperTM digests the NYT's Florida overseas ballot story.

Warning: Chandrogynous Zone The purse mystery, memorable sex, foolish Democratic pundits.

UPDATE: Sorkin Apologizes A soggy ending to a promising fight.

West Wing Web War! Aaron Sorkin's mysterious posting habit.

Kausfiles Press Release 7/9/01

Apocalypse Mom The horror of Anna Quindlen

McCain-Feingold (campaign finance reform) archives

Drudge Report
80% true. Close enough!
Main home page.
Formerly mediagossip.com.
Not always awful.
New Republic
Gore, now and forever!
What's left.
N.Y. Observer
That orange thing.
Page Six
Too good to check?
Goldberg File
Indulgent, but viciously funny.
John Leo
One anti-PC bullet a week.
Virginia Postrel
Friend of the future!
It's still there!
Fab bigthink on man's destiny.
Shake that ketchup bottle!
Daily horror stories.
John Podhoretz
He's one smart Pod.
Washington Monthly
Includes "Tilting at Windmills"
Jim Pinkerton
Quality ideas from quantity ideas.
Andrew Sullivan
He asks; he tells!
Dick Morris
Best thumbsucking toesucker.
Weekly Standard
See them snipe at Bush.
The Occasional
Bright young 'wingers.
Josh Marshall
Chandra Central.
Center on Budget & P.P.
Money Liberal Central
Rich Galen
Sophisticated GOP insider.
Ann Coulter
Leggy legal antiliberalism.
Steve Chapman
Ornery but lovable libertarian.
He still ain't got no transcripts.
Walter Shapiro
Politics and ... neoliberal humor!
Gone left, but good.
Lloyd Grove
Don't let him write about you.
Jeannette Walls
Her free newsletter's fun too.
John Tierney
NYT's non-lib metro columnist.
Le Show
America's funniest man?
N.Y. Press
Good dirty Bushie tab.
NYT-Bashing Central.
Stirs the drink.
Bull Moose
National Greatness Central.
Positioning the brand for the Post-News Era!

Copyright 2001 Mickey Kaus.