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The tabloid Star features a Condit story allegedly based on an FBI
interview with one Vincent
Flammini, "Condit's longtime bodygaurd and confidant." Flammini says ... actually, forget what he says.
Assuming the Star has identified his job correctly, what's
Condit doing with a bodyguard? Congressmen, even Congressmen with seats on key agriculture committees,
don't ordinarily have
bodyguards. They're not that
important. ... Is
Modesto politics rougher than everybody thinks?
OK, so maybe the good news has a dark side ... Some (about a third) of the
rise in the percent of children living in two-parent homes is
due to an increase in cohabitation -- two unmarried adults living
Wash Times's Cheryl
Wetzstein notes that cohabitation may be worse than
single motherhood for children (stereotypically, if mom's new boyfriend hogs her
attention, beats her up, molests them, and then leaves). An Urban Institute study cited by Wetzstein
seems to indicate that by some measures (emotional well-being, enthusiasm for school, suspensions from school)
single motherhood beats cohabitation for whites and Hispanics. 1) But not for blacks;
2) The Urban Institute survey presumably captures a correlation, not
necessarily a causation -- so we don't know if
screwed up parents with screwed up kids tend to be parents who cohabit (a good bet, if you
ask me), or if something in cohabiting
screws people up; 3) Nor is it even clear if the Urban Institute separated out cohabitors who
were, in fact, the biological parents of their children -- presumably a healthier arrangement. (It's also not clear what
proportion of the increase in cohabitation is really
biological parents shacking up.) 4) Even if cohabitation is
worse for kids than single motherhood, you could still argue that it's
a transitional phase we must go through before actual marriage
takes hold in the wake of welfare reform. First, mothers realize they need a second income to live better. Then, they (or more likely, their children and neighbors) realize
they really need to get married if they are going to raise kids in a stable environment. ...
Bush faces a gut check on education reform, notes Nicholas Lemann
in the New Yorker (not online). It's clear that, whatever happens, an education bill -- lots of money in exchange for lots of testing -- will
pass. Whatever happens, Bush will get credit, and the press will write more easy stories about how the "odd couple" of
the president and Ted Kennedy produced the bill. But whether the bill works or not will
depend on whether Bush allows the crucial testing details -- details too boring to be covered
in the daily press, much less the nightly news -- to
get watered down. You say character is what people do when nobody's looking? Well, nobody's
looking! ... As is so often the case, the villains in the piece are David Broder's
darlings, the nation's
governors, led by Michigan's John Engler, who invariably want lots of federal money and no
accountability. (The same thing happened during the debate on the 1996 welfare reform.) ...
Lemann's very good at noting how the press' "master narrative" on a big piece
of legislation often ignores the "real drama" that's being followed by the cognoscenti.
My beef with Lemann's piece: Too many personalities, not enough
policy! Lemann spares his readers the tedious mechanics of just how schools will
avoid accountability and hide low performers in a "composite" score. But that's where the
action is! Is it still true, for example, that -- as
Today reported in May -- some versions of the "composite"
include non-academic factors such as
attendance? If USA Today's readers can handle the details, so can The New
Nor is it clear why it's so important to
separate out test results by race -- requiring, for example, that
blacks make so much progress every year -- rather
than "using a non-race-specific requirement that every school raise the performance
of the bottom quarter of its students every year." What's wrong with
a "bottom-quarter" requirement? Lemann says it reflects "the soft bigotry of
low expectations?" Huh? Seems to me it would raise
expectations about the bottom quarter. Does Lemann just like the race-specific
requirement because, as a
supporter of affirmative action, he likes race-specific remedies, especially
when advanced by Republican
Finally, sometimes the cognoscenti get all wound up in a "real drama" that
turns out to
be not so important after all. Isn't the question of whether the tests chosen
by various jurisdictions will yield results that can be compared -- which is mentioned by Lemann but not
emphasized -- more important than the issue on which Lemann focuses, namely the details of the "adequate yearly
progress" (A.Y.P.) formula? The feds invariably back off
when it comes to enforcing failures to fulfill some formula (e.g. air
quality standards). But once parents and voters
have test results that identify clearly which schools are
bad, there will be tremendous pressure to take
action one way or another, no?
Blue tourism: Good, if familiar, account of how Seattle Police have shifted
into passive mode rather than risk charges
of racial profiling. The result -- crime goes up in black neighborhoods. ...
The latest Chandra Levy development -- apparently Condit broke
off their "close friendship" shortly before she disappeared
-- seems to militate against the random street crime theory, which I'd previously found the most
plausible explanation for her disappearance. ... See the Fox News scoop and
Josh Marshall's discussion. ...
and The Times of
London pick up on
the big story. ... London Times correspondent James Bone credits the 5-year welfare time limit
for the surprising revival of 2-parent families. I've never been a
time-limits enthusiast, but
Bone's idea isn't crazy -- the big shifts in the
Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities study (see esp. Table 3)
seem to come between 1999 and 2000,
when worries about the
impending time limit may have been starting to take hold. Or maybe that's just
when the tipping point tipped. ... Conservative Fox News
actually gives credit to ... Bill Clinton! ...The more I think about this, the
more the story here isn't so much the revival of the family, but rather the revival of the black family, and
the apparent cultural shift going on in the African-American community. The improvements for whites, overall, are small,
and (so far) confined to lower-income families. The change in the black community,
on the other hand, is stunning, and occurs among both low income families and higher-income families. ...
Here's another way to look at it: 2000 was probably the first year in
decades in which there were more black children being raised in
two-parent homes than by single mothers. ... (In 1995, the gap was almost 10 percentage points, with
about 47 percent of black kids raised by single mothers and only 38 percent
raised by two parents.) ...
"Man who lies once for money and fame may lie again for money and fame." --
CBS News got even more overexcited than usual reporting on yesterday's Supreme
Court campaign finance decision. Dan Rather used it as his lead item, opening the news
with this sentence:
A big boost for campaign finance reform -- a U.S. Supreme Court decision puts
pressure on Congress to act on John McCain's call for change, opposed by President Bush.
It doesn't get much more propagandish than that. As today's shockingly fair coverage in
and WaPo more
accurately suggests, the M-F forces mainly avoided the disaster that would
have befallen them had the
court ruled the other way -- and allowed
unlimited hard money contributions from parties to candidates.
(One big problem: Democrats might then have abandoned M-F, worried that they'd be hurt
if they couldn't raise
soft money, where they have parity with the GOP, while at
the same time hard money, a GOP specialty, became more significant.) ...
It's especially not true that the ruling means that M-F is constitutional. What
the Court upheld
was a set of restrictions on
party spending that is "coordinated" with candidates. But, as Juliet
Eilperin's WaPo piece notes, the Court also apparently reaffirmed
its decision voiding limits on
independent, uncoordinated expenditures. M-F, as passed by the Senate, would
restrict independent expenditures--so this decision
hardly assures the constitutionality of those
restrictions. Quite the opposite. ... There's also that phrase shoehorned into
Rather's comically Homeric lead sentence about McCain's reform being "opposed by President Bush." That's more
than a little unfair, given that Bush has pointedly backed off and said he might well
sign a campaign finance bill. ... If I were running the Bush White House, I might
try to get Rather to eat those words. Why not? He hates
Bush anyway. What's he going
to do -- slant the news? ...
but frustrating Virginia Postrel column on the proposed federal ban on "theraputic cloning." As Postrel notes, no babies are involved in
this medical technique, which involves
growing cells from a person outside the body in order to create more
of a specific type of cell (e.g. an insulin-secreting cell)
that the person needs. Why is Congress planning to make this a crime? Well, there
are the "keep it natural" theories of philosopher Leon Kass, which
Postrel blasts with satisfying lack of respect. ("Congress is basing
legislation on the reasoning of a
man who finds the dissection of cadavers morally troubling.") But
a slippery-slope argument that "the only way to ban" the actual cloning
of babies is to stop scientists from trying less ambitious cloning techniques. Postrel
is honest enough to admit that the anti-baby-cloners "may be right" about the slippery
slope -- but
she asks what we're willing to sacrifice to "stop the birth of a few cloned humans." ...
Hmmm. How do we know
there would only be a few? (I'd kind of like one myself.)
Postrel's argument bleeds into larger arguments she doesn't have time to
lay out in an op-ed. ... Nor in 800 words
does she make her case that nightmarish Brave-New-World scenarios are only possible if there is "government control of the means of
reproduction." Can't what she calls "dreadful societies" result from free human choices? ...
Isikoff move the ball downfield
a bit. ... Tidbits: Abbe Lowell solicited Condit's business! ... "Some investigators
do not believe [Condit's] denials of a relationship with Levy and wonder if
he is holding back potential crucial
details about that relationship." In other words, Condit has denied an affair
to the police too? ... If he denied it to the FBI -- which has two agents on
the case, Time says -- and there was
an affair, isn't that technically a crime? (Not that it should be.) ...
The tabloidization did it!
"The 'tabloidization' of these terrible circumstances can only cause more pain to the Levys while at the
same time doing nothing to help find Chandra." -- Statement of Rep. Gary Condit, 6/21
This is of course drivel. The 'tabloidization' of the case is doing a
great deal to help find Chandra. It's because of the
tabloidization of the case that Chandra's picture is all
over the country. Because
of the 'tabloidization" of the case, tens of millions
of Americans are on the lookout for evidence that might help the police. Without the
'tabloidization' of the case
nobody would be aware of it. ... I also suspect the
publicity given to the case hardly
causes the Levys more pain and
may indeed help them bear some of the pain they have. ... The only person who'd be
helped by an end to 'tabloidization' is Condit.
His statement makes it pretty clear whom he's really worrying about. ...
John Leo savvily
predicts a Time cover on "Are Marriage and the Nuclear Family Making A Comeback."
I wouldn't bet against it. ... [Won't
Leo's prediction actually kill any chance of Time doing that cover? Why would they
risk looking look like they take
orders from a Snooze columnist?--ed. Because they're desperate, like everyone else! Do you see
lots of news out there?]
Why can't Rep. Gary Condit find time to let D.C. police reinterview him?
Josh Marshall raises
this point, and others. ...
See Ford models naked! Click
here for "Gearbox" -- a
new, unashamedly automotive column by the
editor of kausfiles. ...
Stanley Mosk, who served as California's Attorney General and
then as its longest-sitting Supreme Court justice,
died Tuesday, at 88, while still in office. (Click
a detailed LAT obit.) Mosk was a
very smart, independent-minded, idealistic public official and a nice man.
I clerked for him for a year, one of the better jobs I've ever
had. He was an activist -- too much
of one, I'd now argue -- but he was hard not to like. I've been trying to
figure out why, and my tentative reasons are: 1) He wasn't a
conventional or predictable
liberal Democrat -- for example, in the Bakke case he wrote
the state-court opinion that attempted to
declare all racial preferences
unconstitutional (the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed); 2) As an ex-pol he instinctively
respected the power of the voters, even if his
decisions sometimes thwarted them; 3) He was very dignified
but not pompous; 4) Most of his crusades were directed at
helping individuals faced with what he perceived to be unfairness. (When I
clerked for him, for example, he was
pursuing his longtime campaign against the grand jury system, which
he felt unfairly allowed prosecutors to
avoid having to make the case for bringing a defendant to trial.) Mosk's
drive wasn't so much to help those he perceived as less
fortunate than he was, but rather to protect rights he himself
might use some day, so there was none of the
condescension or self-congratulatory do-gooderism often exhibited by other liberal
activists. ... I hadn't realized that Mosk was also the man who coined
the phrase "little old
ladies in tennis shoes" to characterize members of
the right-wing John Birch Society. ... Also: When the U.S. entered World War II,
Mosk resigned as a judge of the state Superior Court to enlist in the Army as a private. ...
goes to town
on bogus 'Nam vet and historian Joseph Ellis. ... After co-authoring a 1998 report
claiming to have proved Thomas Jefferson's
sexual infidelity, Ellis declared-- this was at the time
of Clinton's impeachment -- that "It is as if Clinton had called one of the most
respected character witnesses in all of U.S. history to testify that the primal urge
has a most distinguished presidential pedigree." ... Coulter's a bit tendentious -- I mean, there's at least a
one-in-eight chance Jefferson was father of Sally Hemings' child!-- but Ellis
was asking for it. ... Over to you, Professor Wilentz! ...
Good, if gruesome, primer by N.Y. cop Lucas
Miller on searching for missing persons such as
Chandra Levy. ...
Why, exactly, are the parents of Chandra
the identity of their
"high-powered attorney" a secret? Is this a new-product unveiling? ...
It would be deeply troubling if Josh Harris, founder of the aptly-named
Pseudo.com and symbol of everything that was decadent,
pathetic and wrong about the dot-com boom of the '90s, turned out to be a decent
person. And Harris is living quietly on
an apple orchard in upstate New
reports. ... Fortunately, he's
still a flaming ... egomaniac! Harris spins his business scams
as performance art and disses his old girl friend. ("I cast her.")
... If he really is playing a role, it's an extremely satisfying one. ...
Beggars Trying to be Choosers Dept.:
"[Salon editor David] Talbot insists
only companies with an understanding of journalism in their
corporate culture would be
appropriate suitors." -- USA Today
Good News for Liberals -- Head Start is Crap! Excellent LAT front-pager explains why Bush's plans to turn Head Start into a literacy program may make sense. Current Head
Start programs often emulate the well-known High/Scope model, which
shies away from teaching students
normal words on the theory that "words are too abstract for young
children and hurt their self-esteem if they can't read them." ... Sounds like
B.S., doesn't it? ... Much of the debate over Head Start has really been
a debate about whether the expensive High/Scope program has
produced positive results that last into early adulthood. But if it turns out that the High/Scope program is based on
pedagogical flim-flam, that might actually be good news for liberals. After all, High/Scope showed mildly positive returns on the
Head Start investment. But think how positive those returns would be if the program hadn't been liberal crap, and instead
had been half-rigorous! ... Were Charles Murray and the other neocons who lauded High/Scope
as about the best government could do sneakily suckering
liberals into hanging their pro-intervention argument on an antiquated model of early education? ...
P.S.: Head Start will cost $6.3 billion next year! ...
Could Condit be acting like an innocent man?
Rep. Gary Condit's aggressive non-denials of an affair
with Chandra Levy are making him look bad, as
discussed below. But there is one sense in which they might, perversely, point to
his innocence. After all, is Condit really dumb enough to think
he can permanently stave off the press with Clintonian
evasions and threatened lawsuits? Probably not. But he might think
he could hold them off briefly, and then if the story went away he'd
have skated through the incident without admitting any
infidelity. Under what circumstances might he think the story would go away? Well, if he
had nothing to do with
Levy's disappearance he might then assume (in the worst case) that she's
been the victim of a crime that
will quickly be solved, or (in the best case) that she will turn up somewhere.
Either way, the press will then have other, more important things to
write about than whether she ever spent the night
at his place -- and he'll be home free. ... If Condit did have something to do
with her disappearance, of course, then (at least in the worst case) he'd know
that the story wasn't going to go away -- and his stonewalling strategy
would make no sense. ... I know this assumes a high degree of
rationality on Condit's part, and I know
the tom toms of doom are now sounding for him along the
Potomac. But since I've been engaging in
inculpatory speculation, I thought
I should share any exculpatory speculation, however fanciful! ...
The second Lawrence Summers/Laura
Ingraham sighting in a week! (Fifth item) ... It looks bad for Roger Clinton. According to
Newsweek's Mark Hosenball, he deposited $25,500 from the firm accused of running an
alleged get-pardons-through-Roger racket. ...
That dramatic good-news study -- showing an actual recent decline in the proportion of children
living with single mothers -- has been posted on the Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities site. ... The study is written by Allen Dupree and
Wendell Primus. In an interview
with USAT's Walter Shapiro, Primus gets significant honesty points by giving
some credit to the 1996 welfare reform. (Primus, remember, was one of three Clinton administration officials
who quit when Clinton signed the welfare bill.) ...
Doesn't Rep. Gary Condit recognize that his hair-trigger, combative non-denial
denials of an affair with
Chandra Levy aren't just
self-destructive politically, if (as Levy's parents now seem to believe) there really
was a romance going on. They're also making it seem more and more plausible that
Condit really did have something to do with
her disappearance. After all, why might Condit wish her to disappear? (Not that
he does, but if he did, why would he?) Answer: Because he wouldn't want potentially damaging news of
their affair to become known. Well, gee, he's obviously
not sensitive on that point, is he? ... If Condit had just
admitted the affair and apologized, his possible motive would
have evaporated too, in terms of public plausibility. ... If you were Condit's lawyer, wouldn't
you point this out to him? ...
Why The New Republic isn't The American Prospect, yet: TNR's Michelle Cottle
points out that the federal special-ed program -- the "principle" that
Jim Jeffords switched parties over -- is "a disaster," often shunting minorities
and those with vaguely-defined disabilities into
study-hall ghettos from which only 5 percent ever escape. ...
Cottle says Bush "was on to something" when he
offered Jeffords $100 billion in funding if he'd accept a
reform commission. Jeffords refused, and thanks to his switch, the program will
probably never be reformed. ... Unasked
question: Would TNR's Candidate-for-Life, Al Gore, have even
attempted reform of special-ed? ...
Missing intern update: The mother
is turning against the Congressman! ...
Still not a story, Howie? ...
Harold Meyerson of L.A. Weekly is moving to Washington, D.C. to become executive editor of
The American Prospect, the liberal biweekly into
which Bill Moyers has poured $11.5 million and made pretty close to zero impact on the national political
debate. Dan Kennedy's coverage suggests that
Meyerson's hiring--and the expansion of the Boston-based mag's D.C. office--is a well-considered attempt to de-Kuttnerize the
tedious, doctrinaire publication. ...
It will be fun to watch Meyerson adapt to (and maybe even help alter) Beltway customs. Here are some unsolicited
1. Try talking about "California's progressive mosaic," or
"worker and public power, at a time of capital supremacy" at a few
dinner parties and see how often you get invited back! (Actually, you might -- they like the idea of
"capital supremacy" in Washington. It means they're more important than New York, right?) ...
2. Usually the rule when appearing on TV is to just ignore the interviewer's question and say
what you have to say. But Chris
Matthews actually gets mad when you ignore his questions. If you try to answer them, you'll
have him eating out of your hand in no time! ...
3. "We're not a publication with a line," you told Kennedy, speaking about
The American Prospect. Have you heard of the new Slate feature,
"Whopper of the Week"? ...
4. What do I mean by tediously doctrinaire? Well, take your recent op-ed piece on the L.A. mayoral election. The key, glaring fact of this
election is that black voters really, really don't seem to have wanted your
"progressive" candidate, Antonio Villaraigosa, to get
in. (They voted 80 percent against him.) Instead of grappling with
this issue--does it reflect resentment of unaided Latino economic success?
Fear of Latino racism or tribalism? Black dependence on a
racial spoils system? Fear of what happens when the
binary black/white, victim/victimizer moral order collapses? Fear of a
political order not based on victimhood at all! --
you just dismiss it with an aside that
Villaraigosa's opponent "may also have benefited from some black apprehensions about
rising Latino political power." ... Comrades! We may have had some recent setbacks
on the Western Front ...
5. Figure out a way to deal with Robert Reich's transparent, ego-driven hatred of Al Gore!
6. Read Jonathan Cohn's
New Republic Online
piece attacking Boston liberal intellectuals who, basically, learned nothing from Bill Clinton.
These are your new bosses! ...
7. Read Joshua Micah Marshall's account of why he quit The American Prospect. Actually, Marshall hasn't
written this account yet. [Note to Marshall: It's time!] But he hints at the
reasons in his commentary on
Cohn's piece. ... You'll have revived (or, rather, vived) TAP when you can
get smart, non-doctrinaire libs like Marshall wanting to write for you. ...
Pssst! The family really is coming back! OK, I was wrong. There was a
big story in Tuesday's
papers after all -- buried
on page A6 of
LAT. It confirms the emerging good demographic news about family structure. ...
Context: In April, the U.S. Census issued a press release crowing about a
nuclear family comeback, but it was instantly discredited (the trend it spotted could be
explained as a statistical artifact). Yet, as
kausfiles pointed out (see third-to-last and
second-to-last items in this column), the Census had accidentally stumbled onto
the truth. Comes now the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which
has analyzed more recent data. Their results confirm that the decades-long
trend away from marriage and toward single-parenthood has halted, and for blacks and Latinos has
actually started to reverse. Even fatherhood advocate David Blankenhorn, who effectively
trashed the earlier Census report, seems to agree this time. ... The turnaround
among blacks is the most striking -- the percentage of black
children living with married parents rose 4 points, from 34.8 % to 38.9 %, between 1995 and 2000.
... In general, the new pro-marriage trend is greatest among "the lowest-income groups," reinforcing the theory
that the 1996 welfare reform is working to produce this enormous shift in hard-to-change
demographic trends (by making a life of single motherhood on the dole less attractive) ...
LAT's Jonathan Peterson also notes some of the anecdotal evidence suggesting a
cultural change -- a hit song called
"Let's Get Married," a community welfare rights activist who admits, "People say, 'I'm going to move in with so and so, given the cutoff'" of
benefits. ... Why isn't the press all over this story? Why isn't it,
for example, on the LAT front page? Is it because it's not PC on the left to admit marriage
is good? Is it because the right finds it easier to
mobilize its base by wailing in despair about cultural disintegration?
Is it because acknowledging the shift requires cynical reporters to admit that a public
policy initiative (welfare reform) actually worked? ... Will even George Will, who
rightly concerns himself with such big demographic and cultural forces, recognize the positive trend? That might require Will to
admit he was wrong when he let Daniel Patrick Moynihan con
him into opposing the 1996 reform. (Moynihan also conned Bill
Clinton into wrongly predicting that by the year 2004 the majority of
American children would be born out of wedlock.) ... But credit the Center on Budget's
Wendell Primus, who also vigorously opposed
the '96 reform, for puttting out the new data. (So why isn't it hyped on the Center's Web
site like that organization's pro-dole studies?)...
I also missed Elizabeth Shogren's contrarian
piece reporting that, according to "experts on climate change," the Bush administration actually "appears to be facing up to the problem of curbing greenhouse gas emissions at home
in a more comprehensive and aggressive fashion than the
environmentally conscious Clinton administration
ever did." The strongest option: a nationwide "cap" on
emissions, with companies allowed to trade emission "credits" in order to meet the cap. ...
Global cooling: Just-appointed Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria says he might take the "right" job in
the Bush administration because "I do get bored pretty easily." Hey, Fareed! What makes you so
special? We're all bored too! ... I mean, it's not as if the kausfiles staff isn't
looking for interesting things to link to. ...(The best I could find is
how the press has exaggerated the findings of that
blue-ribbon National Academy of Sciences global-warming report.) ... There are exciting periods in journalism, and
there are unexciting periods -- and then there's 2001! The newsweeklies and network newscasts
may have to pretend there's as much reason to pay attention as ever,
but at some point (when Newsweek runs the inevitable Michael Jordan comeback cover?) their desperation will become too obvious to
ignore. ... [Don't worry. Something very bad
will happen very soon.-ed.]
Blog-rolling! We link the linkers: Josh Marshall has some
handy, context-supplying items on
the most gripping story currently cooking, the Chandra Levy mystery. ...
If Tom Brokaw Became Majority Leader ... Will Saletan
invents a useful new
word --"wedgislation" -- for bills
designed to "frame issues" (and make the other side
cast unpopular votes) rather than to actually become law. ... Saletan heaps scorn on
the phenomenon, and some wedgislation (e.g. anti-flag burning bills) is
clearly symbolic grandstanding or worse. But is raising the minimum wage really "substantively dishonest" and
"reckless," as Saletan charges? In Saletan's schema you can't raise the minimum wage, and you can't
raise the Earned Income Tax
Credit. (Refundable tax credits are wedgislation too, he says, even though they actually
became law recently). What could legislators do for the working poor, then?.. Nor is
it clear that wedgislation can't morph into real legislation. Welfare reform, for
example, started off
as a piece of wedgislation -- the Gingrich Republicans
wrote a bill designed to provoke a Clinton veto, and they
succeeded. But then it
dawned on the House Republicans that they needed
to accomplish something if they were going to get reelected, and the result was the
1996 reform. ... A major difference between 1996 and today, though, is that in '96 the
party opposed to the White House controlled the
House of Representatives, rather than the Senate. It's
House members, with their 2-year terms, who feel intense electoral
heat and have a need
to show results (lest they be blamed for do-nothingism). Daschle's Senate
Democrats (and Lott's Senate Republicans) might not be under similar pressure, and may be perfectly happy to
wedgislate unproductively, proving Saletan right. ...
Got Perspective? How big a prig is Peter
Sousa, Chicago Trib photographer, who is
angry that the National Review added a milk
mustache to his Jeffords picture? ...
Todd Purdum gets credit for
impolitic-but-important piece about black resentment of Latinos in Los
Angeles, though he ends on a suspiciously upbeat note. ... Did I miss something, or did
the LAT fail to publish a similarly frank report on the
black anti-Latino phenomenon? ... Update: Well, there was this George Skelton column. ...
Last week was a relatively good one for kausfiles, with 28,400 visits from more
than 10,000 different visitors. Typical visit: 10 minutes plus. ... Thanks
to Ken Auletta and,
Kurtz for lucrative hit-generating mentions. ... [Attack Kurtz again! It seems to be
Did 558 people really just disappear in Washington, D.C. this year? I
don't believe it -- the number seems
way too high. (Doesn't it to you?) But WaPo's Arthur Santana seems to accept that
figure as the best he can get. ... At least he doesn't suggest it's wildly inflated. Yet he notes
that federal records probably exaggerate the number of missing because "although a
name is entered in the database whenever D.C. police open a case, it is not always removed when the
case is closed." Isn't the same thing likely to be
true of the D.C. records? ... Can't WaPo find some wise old police head who can give them at least a handle on what the truth is? ...
What do these two lawyers have in common? a) They're
Blumenthal; b) They're
grandstanders! ... [When the ADL calls, you answer it--ed.] ... Excerpt from
future trial testimony: "They said [sniffle] it was going to be a 'laugh riot' [sob] ... and ...
excuse me, your Honor [dabs eyes with handkerchief] ... it was only [sob] this mildy amusing Rob
Schneider comedy [breaks down in uncontrollable tears and has to be helped off the witness stand]."
Reich vs. Hillary: WaPo asks if Bush's tax cut passed because
Bill Clinton didn't try to make a general case for bigger
government (as Robert Reich argues) or simply because Democrats
lost the White House (as Hillary Clinton argues)? ... Tough
call for kausfiles--an Iran-vs.-Iraq situation! ... But Hillary's
right. Democrats couldn't stop the
tax cut because they had nothing overwhelmingly popular to spend the money on
that was going to get enacted
while Bush was president. Had Gore (whom Reich despised and undermined)
won, the choice would have been
prescription drugs, Social Security and health care vs. tax cuts. ...
According to the L.A. Times exit poll, fully 24 percent of the voters in the L.A. mayoral election last
Tuesday had an annual family income of more than $100,000! ... Recently, I've started to secretly suspect that
virtually everyone I know is making a whole lot more money than I'd realized.
This poll tends to reinforce that feeling. ... It all started when I tried to
make fun of pundit/scriptwriter Lawrence ("It's Over") O'Donnell for claiming that mere $300,000-a-year earners shouldn't
pay the top income tax rate. I expected a wave of populist commendation. Instead I got
emails arguing that
a) $300,000 is the minimum necessary for a family to have a comfortable life these
days, and b) O'Donnell probably
makes a lot more than that. ... And here I was trying to live off the
Amazon tipjar! ... [Why "It's Over"?/mindy That's what O'Donnell said
in this deliciously
embarrassing column last year.] ... P.S. 18 percent
of the L.A. voters were Jewish -- a third of the Anglo vote -- and 49 percent of voters were "liberals". ... P.P.S.: An
alert kausfiles reader notes that
vote also increased sharply between 1993 and 2001, rising from 12 percent of the electorate to 17 percent. Does this just reflect the
popularity of the Hahn dynasty among African-Americans -- or was the turnout
also spurred by the not-PC-to-mention rivalry between
blacks and Hispanics. (Click here for an earlier kausfiles
attempt to discuss this rivalry.) ...
The LAT also
case that Hahn's controversial Vignali-pardon ad (see below)
wasn't what put him ahead. According to the LAT poll, Hahn surged on the
basis of earlier ads attacking Villaraigosa as soft on crime -- ads that were
also immediately denounced as
racist, by Arianna Huffington, among others. (See way below.) ... But it's also dawning on people that Villaraigosa lost because
he had no issues, other than his ethnicity and potential role as a
unifier -- especially issues that would appeal to the relatively
conservative Anglos who were the obvious swing voting bloc. ... Did
he (fatally) believe the press hype about himself? ...
From the kf archive:
really so clear that Villaraigosa is going to win the runoff?" --Hit Parade, 4/16/01 ... Always trust content from
Public policy reader: The WaPo Metro section is the place to go for a new
development in the missing-D.C.-intern story. The irresponsible leering
tabloid innuendos about Chandra Levy and
Congressman Gary Condit now, of course, seem to be true. ... Click
here to see CNN's Bernard Kalb and Howie Kurtz
clucking a few days ago about how the press was "concocting a variety of fictions"
about "romantic liaisons" (Kalb) and was "unfair in suggesting, implying,
hinting that there is some sort of romantic relationship here" (Kurtz). ... Kalb is probably
still too virtuous to be interested in this chilling mystery. ...
Meanwhile, the N.Y. Post finally gets on the Britney Spears
complexion scandal, a story kausfiles
had several months ago! ...
WaPo busts NARAL for overdone opposition to a Bush judicial nominee--a role the Post will
be able to play again, to good effect, in the coming months. ...
Pardon Poison: It's pretty clear that media favorite Antonio Villaraigosa
lost the L.A. mayoralty yesterday because of a
powerful negative TV ad that tied him to Carlos Vignali, a convicted coke
trafficker whose sentence was commuted by
President Clinton in the midnight pardoning orgy of last January.
Villaraigosa had written to the
White House on Vignali's behalf, incorrectly stating that Vignali had no
prior record and also claiming he'd been wrongly
convicted. Villaraigosa explained he'd written the letter at the request of Vignali's father, a
campaign contributor. ... Villaraigosa supporters charge
the ad is racist, because somehow its grainy photos
of razor blades cutting cocaine play on negative stereotypes
about Latinos. But is there any doubt that Hahn would have
run the same ad if he were campaigning against, say, Michael
Dukakis? It's the sort of nasty spot you run when you're behind and
your opponent has made a big, indefensible, Willie-Horton quality mistake. ...
Here's another way to
analyze the situation: Do you doubt that if Clinton hadn't commuted Vignali's
sentence, Villaraigosa would today be mayor-elect of L.A.? In
this sense, Villaraigosa isn't the victim of
racism. He's the latest (last?) victim of Bill Clinton. ...
Could they bury Brownstein
any deeper? Pretty good
Ron Brownstein column on the difference between Blair and Gore. (Blair emphasizes
reform of the health and school bureaucracies along with increased spending; Gore just emphasized spending). But the paper ran
it at the bottom of Page A8, which is where LAT readers usually look for plastic
surgery ads. Is the Times ashamed of its star political
I'd resisted reading the recent TNR cover story on energy because of its
billing -- "The Producers: Gregg Easterbrook on the oil industry's
view of the world." It seemed like another attempt to humanize a
potentially dry policy issue with rich local color and
personality. I hate that! (You don't find many real human beings hanging
around kausfiles!) But don't worry -- it turns out that the "producers'
worldview" business is just a thin veneer of editorial
packaging around a straightforward policy piece, something Easterbrook
does extremely well. ... "If you read only
one energy piece this year, read this one!" -- David
Manning, kausfiles policy analyst. ...
Upshot: Bush's energy "crisis" is phony, but his various supply-expanding initiatives (including
more drilling in Alaska, and more atomic power) aren't crazy. But we need tighter fuel economy standards for SUVs. ...
editors don't seem to have read the piece, which
they cite as authority for their claim
that the Bush plan is unsalvageably bad. ... Speaking of the energy "crisis":
Bush's sharp drop in the polls may be
confirming Josh Marshall's theory that Bush is in
trouble because the public actually believes his
crisis-mongering. This might give Bush the worst of both worlds, if voters associate him with an energy situation that
isn't nearly as bad as he leads them to think, yet he fails to get the enivronmentally-charged parts of his plan through Congress. ...
Kausfiles Hires Controversial Critic: The publisher
of kausfiles.com announced today that his Web site has hired
David Manning, the controversial
most recently associated with The Ridgefield Press and Columbia Pictures. Manning's
tenure there ended when he was accused of not existing. "Whatever David has done in the
past -- or, rather, hasn't done -- we believe he deserves a second chance," said
kausfiles' CEO. "For too long there has been a subtle
but pervasive discrimination in our society against those
who don't exist." Existism comes in many forms, he noted, from the
public opprobrium heaped on Murphy Brown to the less visible, but
more devastating, failure to procreate." The nonexistent are easy targets because they
can't fight back. They don't vote. They can't picket or make
giant papier mache puppets." ... The Web entrepreneur said he hopes Manning will be able to branch out
from film criticism into more policy-oriented subjects. "Millions of people now know his name and his work,"
he argued. "You can't buy branding like that."
Cancer Porn -- Live With It!
In his excellent recent New Yorker essay on the (so far) failed
War on Cancer, Jerome Groopman agrees with experts who denounce
"the pornography of cancer," by which they mean the hype and
headlines surrounding each potential cure. (Gleevec is the latest
example.) "The headlines are dreadful," complains one cancer maven Groopman
quotes approvingly. Groopman worries that press sensationalism
will distort federal decisions on
which research to fund. He seems clearly right if, as
he claims, the result is excessive funding of "imminent cures" and
insufficient funding of "open-ended research." ... But isn't it
possible that all the hype and dreadful headlines
will lead to a bigger
funding pie, which will translate into more research and a greater
chance of stumbling onto something? Isn't it better for doctors like Groopman to
learn to use the hype, rather than to bemoan it and try to somehow suppress it? A society in which
cancer researchers are media superstars (which is where we're headed) isn't such a terrible thing -- the promise of
high status is likely to encourage higher effort. And if it lures smart students
into becoming medical researchers
instead of lawyers, that's good too. ...
"And I have no intention of having an intention for several weeks ...":
"I have no intention of running for president, nor do I have any intention of, or cause to, leave the Republican
Party. I hope this will put an end to future speculation on this subject." --John
McCain, Sat. 6/2
Is that what you say if you actually hope to put an end to future
speculation on this subject? Of course not.
If you actually hope to end speculation, you say "I promise not to run and I promise
to stay in my party." Saying
"I have no intent" is the classic formulation that leaves the door open for
having plenty of intent at some point in the
A few useful new links have been added at the bottom of this page ...
Beltway Tip: NYT investigative reporter Don Van Natta
has reportedly been working on a big piece on absentee
ballot fraud in Florida. (The fraudulent votes would presumably have favored Bush.)...
I'm the Maverick Around Here, Buddy! I like many things about John
McCain and may one day happily vote for him for President, but
isn't it pretty clear he's
become a hopeless publicity junkie -- he just can't
stand to see Jeffords getting all the "maverick" press attention, so he's
grabbing it for himself by having Tom Daschle over to his house and
reporters yet again with the possibility
of an independent presidential campaign. ... In Washington, as elsewhere, the crudest
explanation is sometimes the best one. ... That said, WaPo's Edsall
and Milbank sketch out an ideological rationale for a McCain candidacy that's
pretty powerful: Both parties are captive of their bases, we need a rousing populist
centrism, national service, etc. (Bruce Reed and Bill Kristol, together again!) ... But a) McCain is
captive of his base, the press. And it's unclear to me whether the press is
populist-centrist these days or simply left-of-centrist. By the time he runs as an independent, McCain
may be to the left of the Democratic nominee. b) The love-love relationship
between McCain and the media is unhealthy for any politician, whatever his or her ideology. It means President McCain won't
want to do anything that makes Tim Russert angry. ...
It's Bias I Tell You! Did anybody in the professional press notice that the Time/CNN poll
showed the public disapproves of
Jeffords "decision to switch" by a 51-percent-vs.-41-percent margin? This surprising and
inconvenient result certainly didn't affect Time's glowing
coverage of Jeffords' defection--it wasn't even mentioned in the
text of the magazine's 4-story anti-Bush barrage, as far as I can see. ...
Time and others in the pack can't defend themselves
against the charge of pro-Democratic bias with the self-effacing argument that they
are just reflecting the views of their readers. Here they are, in significant part, defying
the views of their readers to pump up Jeffords. ... What the journalists
could conceivably argue is that they're not anti-Bush, they're
simply going with the obvious, cheap story line, about White House arrogance and comeuppance, which just
happens to be anti-Bush. ... But if a conservative Democrat--say Zell Miller--had defected to
give the Senate to the Republicans, do
you think he'd get the full
Lincoln treatment? ... P.S.: Ann Coulter scores some points in
her not-unsatisfying anti-Jeffords
rant. The LAT
really did compare
Jeffords to Lincoln and Churchill, she
notes, (and not in an editorial either). ...
August 2001 archive
July 2001 archive