mickey's assignment desk



Hit Parade Archive
January, 2002

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Workfare comes to the zoo: They're making the marmosets dig for their mealworms and the octopus twist off caps to get to the shrimp. And they're all happier! Even the dung beetles! ... Orangutans have flash card quizzes. A keeper says:

"They are anxious to come to work every day, close to mealtime or not," ...
The next step in welfare reform? ... Carcasses all around! ... [Larger 'lesson' pls.--ed. Work really is a centering activity, just like Jason Turner says. It's how we're all built.] (1/31)

Kausfiles is currently unable to receive e-mail because the Microsoft Network's "servers are down," according to their tech support people. The servers might not come back up until tomorrow. ... Microsoft pays my rent (and the Microsofties I've met are hard-working and non-arrogant), but even I am tired of MSN's famously unreliable service. If they'd go an entire month without a screw-up, it would be confidence-building. ... But Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly over this part of the business, right? If any kf readers want to suggest a non-MSN internet-access/email provider they're happy with, I'm highly suggestible at the moment. Please send an email. I won't get it! ... (You're reading this, which means I'm still able to post. So I have no real excuse. But it's getting close to mealtime. ... ) (1/31)

WaPo's estimable Paul Blustein argues that welfare to a whole nation causes terrorism. Specifically, the nation of Egypt, thanks to generous ($55 billion!) foreign aid, has been able to avoid making the structural changes (i.e., privatization) that would allow productive employment of the despairing college graduates who now turn to Islamic fundamentalism. ... In other words, the money we gave to Egypt as a reward for its cold peace with Israel has the ultimate effect of producing more Arab terrorists. ... Blustein doesn't claim that welfare causes terrorism at the individual level (which is where I've argued it causes terorrism). But you have to wonder -- do all those disaffected college graduates really support themselves for years "by working a few weeks at a time in food markets and gas stations," as Blustein says one of his subjects does? Is pumping gas a more lucrative profession in Egypt than in the U.S.? I doubt it. I smell some sort of welfare. ... (In general, Blustein's excellent article, which has the virtue of not being a series, doesn't explain why, despite Egypt's stagnant statist economy, "poverty rates are relatively low" there -- and the system seems to employ the country's non-educated youth.) ... (1/30)

Harnessing the vast power of the Web, alert kausfiles readers have quickly located the mysterious "one American" from whom Gephardt borrowed the best lines of last night's SOTU response. He's Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.. On 9/12, Pitts wrote:

So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what we're capable of. You don't know what you just started.

But you're about to learn.
Pitts' powerful column was circulated by e-mail and reprinted widely. ... [Thanks especially to the kf reader with the unfortunate initials B.S.] ... Note to Instapundit: I wasn't charging Gephardt with plagiarism. ... But, come to think of it, the first time he used Pitts' lines he didn't credit anyone else, did he? ... On the other hand, Gephardt's version adds something -- the idea that the terrorists "wanted us to know them," as opposed to just "the depths of [their] hatred." This is an important nuance, because it captures the human, self-pitying, publicity-seeking side of Islamic radicals before telling them that they're wrong and doomed. ... (1/29)

SOTU but yet So-so!
1. So much for the pollster-driven stories -- like this one by the plodding, spoon-fed Rick Berke -- about how the President needs to shift his focus to domestic issues to appease a public sick of the war. The speech was 5/6 war. ...

2. But am I crazy to think the best bit of rhetoric all night was this paragraph in Rep. Dick Gephardt's otherwise predictable response:

“As one American said, the terrorists who attacked us ... wanted us to know them. But these attacks make clear: they don’t know us. They don’t know what we will do to defend freedom, and they don’t know what they’ve started. But they’re beginning to find out."
So who was the mysterious "one American"? He deserves more credit than that! Could it be he (or she) was a Republican? ...Update: James Taranto e-mails to suggest the "one American" was in fact Richard A. Gephardt, who used the same lines back on 9/22, without attributing them to anyone else. ... Isn't that theory a bit bizarre, though. Why would Gephardt, in tonight's speech, distance himself from himself? Was he worried he'd sue himself and have to pay himself hush money? Did the speechwriter who actually wrote the lines insist on "one American" credit? We haven't gotten to the bottom of this, I tell you! ...

3. Don't House conservatives like Tom DeLay have a point when they suggest that Bush would be smarter to submit a balanced budget for next year? He's only $80 billion or so away right now. Of course Congress won't actually pass a balanced budget, nor should it, necessarily. But submitting one would not only neutralize the "deficit" issue (a political advantage), but it would add to the pressure to hold down spending -- a substantive advantage, since holding down spending was the ultimate virtue of the Bush tax cut, achieved at the expense of a certain amount of strategic hypocrisy. ... Even Jake Weisberg would like it. ...Then, as one American says, we Democrats can increase spending for our purposes when we get back in! ... (1/29)

Here's a story on a Florida governor Jeb Bush urging a lawsuit against Alliance Capital, the firm whose Vice Chairman now owns a third of The New Republic and has some 'splainin' to do. ... Here's an AP Business story fairly sympathetic to Alliance, arguing that maybe they were just fools like everyone else who believed Enron's statements and thought its stock was getting into bargain territory, given that it was scheduled to be bought by a competitor. ... Key perspective-lending sentence: "Pensions officials in Florida, North Carolina and elsewhere say Enron stock comprised a very small percentage of their total portfolios and that losses will not affect payouts ...." Still, it's possible Alliance was dumping stock on its clients -- stock that it had reason to know was worthless. That a top Alliance executive served on Enron's board suggests an investigation is needed. But Hertog, who is a journo now, has some obligation to set the record straight, on his own, without waiting, no? That's why his magazine has the "Diarist"! ... Note to TNR editor Peter Beinart: See! The fun's just beginning! ... Three owners equal three times the conflicts of interest! ... (1/29)

Maybe the situation at The New Republic isn't that bad. At least, none of their new owners is an executive at the biggest institutional holder of Enron stock, possibly implicated in the sale of tens of millions of dollars worth of shares in the now-collapsed company to the state of Florida's pension fund even as Enron was going down the tubes in late October. ... Oh, wait ... [Isn't he also chairman of the board of our prestigious sole paying advertiser?--ed. Yes! "KAUSFILES LINKED TO ENRON COLLAPSE! Though no blog-industry observers openly suggested that kausfiles was responsible for the meltdown of America's seventh-largest corporation, several said they would not be surprised if that were true."] ... Update: It's not clear how active a role Roger Hertog plays in day-to-day management of Alliance Capital -- a valued kf source e-mails to say maybe not much of one, even though Hertog is listed as Vice Chairman, Head of Institutional Sales and Marketing. So let's give the head trustee of kausfiles' sole paying advertiser a chance explain himself, shall we? [Do we cut the same slack for non-advertisers?--ed. Of course! Timely use of weasel-words like "possibly," "could," and "seems" makes it all possible! To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, cheap innuendo we do immediately. Actual defamation takes a little longer.] (1/29)

Et tu, Roger? That little argument at the end of David Kirkpatrick's NYT piece on the sale of The New Republic was indeed ominous. The three owners can't agree on whether their magazine is "liberal." Not since Julius Caesar has anyone devised a more stable and felicitous governing arrangement! ... Even if they don't fall out, who wants to go to the effort of keeping all three of these machers happy? ... (1/28)

Dick Morris comes perilously close to saying Bush should go after Iraq to keep up his polls and get reelected. ... Yet Morris' underlying argument -- that a) the public is ready for the next phase in the terror war, and doesn't want to go back to dickering and posturing over domestic policy and b) Bush doesn't have a domestic agenda anyway -- resonates with me. (I think it is what I was trying to say here.) It's not, however, reflected in the NYT polling data, which seem to show the voters punishing Congress, especially the Democrats, for not passing the make-believe domestic 'stimulus' bill. ... (1/28)

Bad News Fox: The NYT doesn't even know where to go to get nasty, anti-Bush poll results, notes an alert kausfiles reader. While Rick Berke and Janet Elder were faking it on the front page, there was genuine bad new for Bush in a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. On a standard "if the election were held today..." question, only 49 percent of those asked say they would vote for Bush. In other words, at the peak of his wartime popularity, Bush's 're-elect' number doesn't crack 50 percent! ... This is the stunning finding that will have Karl Rove hurling pretzels at the wall (and looking for new demographic groups to suck up to). ... Take it away, Dick Morris! ... (1/28)

How can you worry about war when there's an Enron on? It's lucky Mark Shields didn't get overexcited about Enron on the PBS NewsHour [audio]:

Margaret, Enron has taken over the political dialogue and the debate. George Bush is no longer setting the national agenda. Enron determines and shapes the debate on the economy, on energy, on campaign finance reform, and, David [Brooks] said, on the regulation and deregulation of government. Enron is everywhere, there's an Enron angle to it...

Calm, useful John Mintz piece on the POW/'unlawful combatant' issue in WaPo. It turns out the Pentagon has a good legal argument that Al Qaeda terrorists (as opposed to Taliban regulars) are not covered by the Geneva Convention:

In 1949, when the Geneva Conventions governing POWs were drawn up, the world community agreed that groups such as the anti-Nazi French partisans in World War II and Greek communist guerrillas -- movements that in legal terms could be described as resembling al Qaeda -- did not qualify for POW classification. ...
Even some human rights groups agree with a "Al Qaeda No/Taliban Yes" consensus. ... Kausfiles suspects that the Geneva rules, if you look at them closely, either make no sense or are obsolete in a world in which a) the most important military battles are precisely against (or between) combatants who don't respect the traditional rules of war regarding not targeting civilians, etc.; b) the military/civilian distinction is breaking down; and c) even the legitimate (or de facto) governments of some nations can be terrorists. We need a new "convention," and at some point it's silly to pretend that existing human rights jurisprudence can handle everything. ... (1/27)

An alert kausfiles reader emails with the real reason moving up the dates of the Democratic primaries ("front-loading") may make sense. It's not just the Feiler Faster Principle (which holds that the speeded-up news cycle enables a speeded-up primary schedule). It's also Al Sharpton. Think about it. Sharpton's running for president. He's in it for the publicity, and he travels light, so he'll never drop out. Plus he's funny and biting, so he'll get press attention as long as there is a contest for the nomination. Do the Democrats want Sharpton yapping at the front runner for months and months in early 2004 -- with the frontrunner tempted to make some overture to woo Sharpton, thereby alienating much of the rest of the country? No. They want to shut Sharpton up by mid-February, and the way to do that is to pick a candidate by mid-February. ... (1/26)

Either Claire Berlinski's plea to Enron is funny or I need some sleep. ... (1/26)

Is Sen. Clinton using Mick Jagger's make-up artist? (See NYT national edition, page A17. The online image doesn't capture the full Dorian Gray effect.) (1/25)

Okay, it's slightly past Thanksgiving, but 9/11 is off the MSN home page (as of 11:00AM PST) ... and almost off the NYT front page, but for the insidious machinations of the Bush press office in producing John Walker Lindh for arraignment (see below). ... (1/25)

Enrotica Overdose: Am I crazy to think the NYT has gone slightly berserk about Enron? I counted 14 stories today, plus two transcripts, two editorials and three op-eds, for a total of 21 different pieces. They include a forlorn Bill Carter box on the bottom of page C7 chastising the cable news networks for showing "little interest" in the Enron hearings, and accusing the Bush administration of timing John Walker Lindh's court appearance to distract from them. Is it also possible that the TV networks were right? (The Enron story, one "senior network news executive says, has an "eyes-glazed-over factor." I'll say!) ... Carter deploys his Bush-Lindh-conspiracy theory in the following paragraph:

"Though no network news executive openly suggested that the Bush administration had timed the Lindh arraignment to coincide with the start of the Enron hearings, several executives said they would not be surprised if Bush officials planned it that way." ...
I wouldn't be surprised either. (Whenever Clinton got into to trouble, for example, it seemed as if Hazel O'Leary would call a press conference to dramatically reveal some Energy department horror story -- innocents being irradiated decades ago, etc. -- which would then hog the news.) But Bill Carter's locution, if it becomes accepted form, would have widespread utility. Just plug in your favorite terms:
Though no [network executives/administration officials/movie star's associates] openly suggested that [Paula Zahn planned the Paula Zahn 'zipper' ad/Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster/Minnie Driver is really a man] several said they wouldn't be surprised if that were true.
Or this one:
Although no NYT executives openly suggested to kausfiles that the paper's extravagant attention to Enron represents the emergence of the Howell Raines we all expected -- self-righteously twisting and pumping his paper's coverage in order to push a liberalish political cause (campaign finance reform, Bush-bashing) -- several associates of close observers of the paper said they wouldn't be surprised if it were true! ...

Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden's Guardian piece on America's return to Somalia is strangely free of the "Clinton's-pullout-sent-a-message-of-weakness-to-the-world" anger that characterized his recent stateside sound bites. ... (1/25)

Chilling photo of Mick Jagger in the NYT business section today. (Not online.) He looks like Stephen Hawking's grandfather! No wonder Jagger's interested in new biomedical breakthroughs. ... Maybe John Strausbaugh was right. (1/24)

Mothfight! (Moth, n., opportunist, attracted by the gleam of lenses, who shoves his or her way gratuitously into a floodlit scene of controversy.) The NYT's Michael Brick can't quite get as snarky as he clearly wants in his account of how Al Sharpton showed up in Houston with a genuine Enron victim, beating out Jesse Jackson by a day. ... Jackson seems to have met his match in Sharpton, an ambulance-chaser both funnier and more unprincipled than he is -- and faster-reacting. Sharpton appears unencumbered by any substantial political organization, even one as troubled as Jackson's Operation Push. He's the political equivalent of a me-zine! Plus, as Sharpton cattily notes, Jackson "isn't running for president." Sharpton, of course, is. ... .These two are fighting for the same ecological niche. Such fights tend to be vicious. It's not clear the media ecosystem can support both of them. ... Sharpton is also more of a buffoon, a caricature of what Jackson tried to be, but that may not be such a disadvantage when it comes to getting attention. The press likes buffoons. ... Update: Slate's Rob Walker beat me to this item. ... Hmmm. Walker's now in my moth-bashing ecological niche, isn't he? ... They say the ecology of the Web is cooperative, not competitive. We'll see about that! ... (1/24)

What's the opposite of a smoking gun? Now we're told the real Enron scandal will be all the favors the Bush people did for Enron before Bush's administration stiffed the company during its death spiral. ... O.K. ... Hmmm. When George W. Bush promised, in the 2000 presidential campaign, to put limits on greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide) from coal-burning power plants, it was considered a victory for Ken Lay and Enron, which was into cleaner gas-fired plants and also wanted to get into the to-be-created market for trading carbon-emission credits. ... So if the Bush-Cheney adminstration was in the tank for Enron, why was one of its first controversial acts reneging on this pro-Enron greenhouse pledge? ... (1/23)

Worthwhile welfare initiative. .... (1/23)

Revisionism: Part of the criticism of Mark Bowden in my recent Black Hawk Down item was unfair-- alert reader P.F. pointed me to an eerily prescient passage I'd missed in Bowden's afterword. I've put a correction on the end of the item in Slate. ... The correction also discusses the argument that we should have stayed in Somalia just to show that killing Americans doesn't pay. ... (1/23)

Jonathan Chait emails regarding kausfiles' attack on his attack on Fred Barnes:

You missed my point almost completely. In my Fred Barnes piece, I pointed out a clear contradiction between Barnes' description of Bush ast year and this year. This year, Barnes portrayed Bush as having no general hostility to government, and even embracing deficit spending. Last year, he portrayed Bush as looking to cut government at all costs - even quoting his budget director comparing the federal budget to the welfare rolls, saying "lower is better" - in part so he could be sure the national debt was paid down. The Bush portrayed last year is an orthodox anti-government conservative -- nothing about finding positive new roles for government. It's hard to see how Barnes can reconcile these two articles, especially given his contention that Bush's views haven't changed a bit.

You respond that Barnes once described another president as holding the views he now ascribes to Bush. So what? The important question isn't whether Barnes' 2001 reading of Bush's ideology is "newly-constructed," but whether it contradicts Barnes' 2000 reading of Bush's ideology. Obviously it does.
Kausfiles responds: Is there such a "clear contradiction" between wanting government, all other things being equal, to be as small as feasible and having a (in Barnes' words) "relatively benign view of government," especially of particular "programs [you] believe in"? I don't see it. In fact, the position Chait says Barnes ascribes to Bush -- including both "contradictory" halves -- roughly describes my own attitude toward government. You can appreciate government, and be content with a relatively large modern government, and still recognize that taxes and bureaucracy impose a burden that has to be justified by an equally compelling need. Slate's Jake Weisberg wrote a whole book, entitled In Defense of Government, that called for freezing the size of government, as a percent of GDP, "forever." Is Chait going to take up valuable pixels at Slate with a furious attack on Weisberg? ... It seems to me Chait somehow equates a benign view of government with a benign view of continued upward growth in the size and spending of government -- and the size of the deficit, which, as Chait should know, is an entirely different issue (since you can have a deficit or a surplus with any size government). Or else Chait has been driven slightly mad by his self-appointed role as the scourge of hypocrisy in Bush's budget rhetoric. ... That's O.K. It happened to Krugman too! ... (1/22)

Daring, high-profile escape from TAP: Shockingly, despite editor Robert Kuttner's pompous, huffy denial of kausfiles's report of Robert Reich's leave of absence from The American Prospect, Robert Reich has taken a leave of absence from The American Prospect! Here's the official announcement. ... You think Reich's ever coming back? ... P.S.: In his e-mail, Kuttner lodged the common complaint that "a tiny bit of telephone reporting" by kausfiles would have verified that my story wasn't true. But the story was true, and a bit of telephone reporting -- the classic locution is "a simple phone call" -- would just have gotten me Kuttner's bullshit denial of what I knew. ... (1/22)

Where's the Outrage? "Indifference Toward Vaccinating the Poor" -- how can you live with yourself if you don't read the editorial under that outraged NYT hed? It turns out everybody's gotten together, they've got Gates Foundation money, they have a plan to solve the problem and they're solving it! ... "Worthwhile Vaccine Initiative" would have been a more accurate hed. ... (1/21)

Daniel Pipes asks: Do you want to die for PC? ... Someone explain to me again why he isn't right. ... (1/21)

Strangely weak and ham-handed Jon Chait attack on Fred Barnes in Slate, my paymaster. Chait accuses Barnes of conveniently rationalizing Bush's deficits (on tacit orders from the White House) by proclaiming Bush one of those "big government conservatives" who "take a relatively benign view of government and aggressively seek to expand the programs they believe in." But the idea of "big government conservative" is one Barnes has been purveying more or less approvingly for years -- initially attributing the philosophy to Bush's father's administration. It's hardly a newly-constructed party line. In a 1991 Policy Review debate, for example, Barnes gave this rationale:

The reason is that people like big government. Not bigger government, but government roughly the size it is now. Now that doesn't mean that they think government's efficient; obviously it's not. Or that they want to pay more taxes. ... What all of this means is that if conservatives don't use big government for conservative ends, liberals will use it for liberal ends.
Chait seems to feel there is a huge contradiction in Barnes' assertion that Bush "has a more positive view of government than ... most conservatives" -- isn't Barnes obviously right about that? -- and Barnes' report that Bush's OMB director wants to "reduce the size of government by 2.5 percent of GDP." But, first, Barnes' whole BGC idea, as sketched above, is that conservatives will push their government programs, not government generally. Second, government can shrink as a percent of GDP even while remaining "roughly the size it is now" if the GDP (the economy) grows. ... Yes, Barnes is pro-Bush. He may be wrong, but it's hard to get him on procedural grounds by arguing he's being an unprincipled mouthpiece. ...Note to Chait: A simple NEXIS search ... (1/21)

The New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann argues that, absent Enron's compromising largesse (which made helping Enron look too much "like payback") the Bush Administration would have tried "moral suasion" to "persuade Enron's major creditors to give the company a little more time," which would have bought "Enron's employees a month to diversify their pension plans." ... Lemann knows more about Bush and the Texas energy industry than I do. But I don't understand. Enron's going down the tubes. The Bush Administration is supposed to delay its bankruptcy for a month so Enron's employees can unload their soon-to-be-worthless stock on some other unsuspecting suckers? Wouldn't that have been a scandal -- a government-sponsored fraud perpetrated on those left holding the bag? In effect, the Bushies would have intervened to make every Enron pensioner an inside trader. Either that, or news of the "moral suasion" would have leaked out, collapsing Enron stock instantly, before the pensioners could pass the hot potato on ... (1/21)

Thank you. I think. Last week was kausfiles's second-biggest ever, with almost 38,000 visits from more than 15,000 different visitors. This surge is a double-edged sword, since it was probably a response to last week's more frequent posts. The obvious implication is that any slacking off will be immediately and brutally reflected in kausfiles' hit counts. ... When I worked at print magazines it seemed as if I could go into a swoon for months and nobody would notice. ... (1/21)

Suck, dead. Talk, dead. Kausfiles, viable! Talk was deeply mired in the Miramax/Tina Brown Culture of Lying, an unfortunate quality in a magazine, and one that tends to put a restraint on the natural impulse to lament Talk's closing. [You mean Tina's crew lied to you--ed? Brown and her organization dissembled to their own authors. They dissembled about their own authors. They let their authors go out and dissemble about their articles! Why shouldn't they dissemble about everything else? ... If you actually believed their constant defensive circulation and ad boasts (even as deliverymen got hernias lifting the stacks of unsold issues at newsstands) you probably loved Enron!] ... (1/18)

Good, anecdoteful Noonan piece on why the current White House doesn't leak. One reason:

Mr. Bush also surrounded himself in Texas with tight, talented and competent people as opposed to visionaries and venturesome thinkers. Visionaries and venturesome thinkers talk; communicating is what they do. They fall in love with their ideas, and come to dislike those who oppose them. They sometimes lash out at them; they sometimes leak.
Isn't this explanation also more than a bit troubling? ... (1/18)

enronnui, noun: Listlessness resulting from boredom with arcane accounting scandals involving Houston-based energy companies. [Thanks to kf reader K.A.] (1/18)

The Mills of the Gods ... In 1993, Sen. Joe Lieberman's chief of staff, Michael Lewan, quit to make a killing at the state-of-the-art-sleazeball Republican lobbying firm of Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly. A Lieberman speechwriter, who was going out with a New Republic writer, mentioned it to him over dinner -- it was public information. The TNR writer, on his own, stuck an unworldly, pointed little "Notebook" item in the next issue, calling on Lieberman to "explain why his former aide is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and why Lewan was so quick to take the money and run." Lewan was angered by the item and before he left lectured the staff on the "obligation of loyalty to the senator." The rest of the senator's staff indeed blamed the speechwriter, not Lewan, for embarrassing Lieberman, and she was pushed out of her job. Lieberman himself didn't intervene to save her. ...

But now, nine years later, Lewan has mightily embarrassed Lieberman in a way no New Republic item ever could -- he's dragged Lieberman into the Enron scandal just as the Senator was preparing to lead an inquiry into the failed firm. Lewan, it turns out, was hired by Enron to lobby Democrats, and in that capacity tried to arrange a meeting between Lieberman and Enron chairman Kenneth Lay. Lieberman was smart enough to duck the meeting, but his office has been reduced to saying that while he talked to Lewan fairly often it was "not about Enron." Lieberman's office admits Lewan, who remains a Lieberman political adviser, talked about Enron matters with Lieberman's staff, though. ... Lieberman probably did nothing wrong, but so, probably, did everyone in the Bush adminstration. Lewan's revolving-door mendacity sharply limits Lieberman's ability to unctuously condemn the Bushies' Enron "ties." ... Karma doesn't get too much better than this! ... (The initial Lewan incident is documented in a June, 1993 Washington Monthly article, not online, entitled "Capitol Punishment.") ... I admit, I've had it in for the flamboyantly-pained, self-righteous Connecticut senator ever since his pathetic, groveling "Please, don't end it!" cave-in on affirmative action at the 2000 Democratic convention. ... Note to Al From of the DLC: Turn back! It's not too late. ... Update: The Lewan story hits the NYT. (1/17)

This is probably not a good idea! -- but last week's big WaPo series on the rise and fall of MicroStrategy's Michael Saylor will be SkippedTM. (Why this advance notice? So you can throw out those old papers before they come around to pick them up.) ... (1/16)

Special Non-Triumphalist Edition: Michael Young, the left-wing British sociologist who invented the term "meritocracy," died on Monday at 86. Slate's Tim Noah links to Young's relatively recent Guardian piece attacking Tony Blair for his flatfooted advocacy of "meritocracy" without a recognition of "the downside" -- namely meritocracy's creation of a smug elite that believes "they deserve whatever they can get" and a demoralized class of failures who "in a society that makes so much of merit" have been "judged as having none." Young argues: "No underclass has ever been left as morally naked as that." ...

Young's Guardian essay frankly confronts a fundamental ongoing problem of American life, yet it seems peculiarly British, assuming an almost tribal class system. When Young laments that the demoralized "working class" has been "deprived by educational selection of many of those who would have been their natural leaders," he's not describing a dilemma that resonates with most Americans. You could argue this means Young's dystopia won't happen here, or you could argue this means when it happens here it will happen in its purest, most indissoluble form: the smug elites and the demoralized non-elites will have actually been created by meritocracy out of a society not previously characterized by class tensions. I tend toward the second, more pessimistic view. I suspect Young's meritocratic dilemma will be with us long after our "American Dilemma" -- the centuries-long race problem -- has resolved itself. [Which will happen by next Thanksgiving, I suppose--ed. F--- y--.]

Speaking of fundamental ongoing problems, Adam Clymer's NYT obituary for Henry Reuss, the smart and respected Democratic congressman who served from the mid-1950s to the early Reagan years, omitted one of Reuss' personal obsessions: metropolitan governance. Reuss wanted governments that included both cities and suburbs, eliminating the ability of rich citizens to create their own jurisdictions, exclude the poor, and tax themselves at lower rates. Like meritocracy, this city-suburb dilemma isn't going to be resolved anytime soon, but give Reuss credit for harping on it. ... No, I'm not saying the problems of the urban underclass would be solved if only urban schools could tap the suburbs' cash, Jonathan Kozol-style. But it would be easier to integrate the underclass into the mainstream society if that underclass weren't cut off from so much of mainstream society by balkanesque municipal boundaries. I recommend former Albuquerque mayor David Rusk's book on the advantages of having governments that actually match the organic economic boundaries of cities. He's got statistical proof! ...

In reality, of course, Young's dilemma and Reuss' dilemma blur together. It's the smug meritocratic elites who "secede" into the suburbs, to use Robert Reich's term. ... (1/16)

An alert kausfiles reader asks: Where are the polls showing feverish public indignation over Enron? ... Newsweek, for example, has an Enron cover. Newsweek typically runs polls as part of its cover packages. Where's its Enron poll? ... Would a poll show the public doesn't care much about Enron? That doesn't mean the press shouldn't make a big fuss about it or that it isn't a big scandal. (The public, which didn't care about Watergate for a long time, can be wrong.) But public opinion is a social fact that would be nice to know. ... Update: Here's a Gallup poll. ("To date, the American public has paid relatively scant attention to the Enron controversy as a news story.") (1/15)

Chrysler's visionary designers start with a clean sheet and go outside the envelope to invent ... last year's Audi station wagon! ... Not that there's anything wrong with it! ... [Not shown actual size. For expandable images try here.] (1/15)

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin is getting off easy, Slate's Tim Noah notes, because when Rubin called a key Treasury official to broach the subject of bailing out Enron (in which Rubin's firm, Citigroup, had invested) he apparently began by saying, "This is probably not a good idea." Noah's response? He

would guess that at least 60 percent of all adulteries begin with somebody saying, "This is probably not a good idea, but why don't we rent a hotel room?"
Good line! But my guess is that Rubin wanted to be able to tell his Citigroup colleagues he'd made the call, but really did think it was a bad idea. So he undermined his own case. ... That doesn't make the call the right thing to do -- Rubin was, in essence, conning his employer. Citigroup was paying him, presumably handsomely, under the false impression that he was willing to trade on his former position on their behalf. And all they got was good government! ... (1/15)

The Vandals Took the Hooks? The movie The Royal Tenenbaums revives Bob Dylan's odd song Wigwam, a horn and la-da-da number that sounds like about a dozen old schmaltzy tunes. To someone who's been fretting too much about Stephen Ambrose and George Harrison, the thought occurs: how could Dylan's song not have been unconsciously plagiarized from something or things he once heard? ... Listen to it before you scoff! ... Songs, I'd argue, are different from words in this respect. They bubble up more easily from the mental underground. ... (1/14)

A smart, useful Peggy Noonan piece gives us a rule for reading Bush's off-the-cuff remarks -- they're Bush adding back what the speech-vetting process takes out, i.e. they're what he really thinks. She also defends his "over my dead body" pledge on taxes, on the grounds that he'll keep it. ... But what if the Democrats win non-trivial majorities in Congress later this year, and begin to force the tax-cut-postponement issue? Then Bush, in retrospect, really will begin to look like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo, going up that bell tower a second time ... (1/14)

N.Y. Post's Cindy Adams actually has a pretty good column-long riff on the Faster principle as it applies to Giuliani (already nobody) and Bloomberg (honeymooning now, hurting by Valentine's Day, she suggests). "People are even working on shrinking 'fourscore and seven years ago' down to a week and a half." ...[If Adams is pushing this idea, isn't it time for you to drop it?--ed. Cindy Adams is cutting edge! I don't drop an idea until I see an actor spouting it on Politically Incorrect. That's still weeks away! You mean hours--ed.] (1/14)

Sam Donaldson self-parody-parody:

"The president of Enron, Lawrence Whalley, called [Treasury undersecretary Peter] Fisher 6 or 8 times. Which is it?"
-- Donaldson, questioning Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on ABC's "This Week."
a) If William Safire ever needs to define "Gotcha Journalism," he can just print Donaldson's question. b) That ABC would spend the full "This Week" hour on this sort of Enron desperation may be the best indicator yet of the underlying validity of kausfiles's much maligned 9/12 prediction that "we'll get back to normal all too quickly." (Yes, it's well past Thanksgiving. But only four months after 9/11, the network's executives, and other residents of the Washington, D.C. hothouse, are clearly itching to change the subject) .... (1/14)

Don't ashna, don't tell na'! Here's an Afghanistan angle we don't see too much in the U.S. press (though it's mentioned in Newsweek -- search for "sodomize"). Thanks to Instapundit for the link. ... [Note to Michelangelo Signorile: Is this something we're forbidden from writing about or required to write about? I know it's either one or the other, but I'm never sure which!] ... Post-post note: Steve Sailer was onto this issue early. ...

Peter Milius: An important Washington figure, WaPo editorialist Peter Milius, died Thursday at 64. "In argument, he was analytical rather than rhetorical and content to let the facts speak for themselves," says his Post obituary. This seems to me quite wrong, in a way that misses one source of Milius' influence, which was precisely his powerful and consistent ideology.

What ideology was that? Most people would call it redistributionism -- in Milius' writings, the assumed goal of government policy was invariably the equalizing of incomes, including the provision of cash assistance directly to the poor. Anything "regressive" was presumptively, almost irredeemably bad, anything "progressive" presumptively good. Perhaps Milius' editorials only seemed "analytical" because his ideology came to be shared by so many of his readers. Repeated over and over again, in the capital's dominant local paper, Milius' worldview formed a baseline, or spine, of Democratic efforts to oppose the "Reagan revolution." It drove me crazy, so much so that I wrote a whole book attacking it as "Money Liberalism."

In addition to writing editorials, Milius was a crucial member of what might be called Washington's hidden Money Liberal Conspiracy. The antipoverty establishment prized him as both a respected analyst and a well-placed cadre. He could tell non-profit groups how their studies would play in the press and then help get that press. (All completely honorable, in my book.) It's fair to say that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Citizens for Tax Justice -- the most effective liberal lobbies on welfare and tax issues -- will be hard put to replace him. ... E.J. Dionne, that's Bob Greenstein on line 2! ...

I met Milius twice, and discovered he was a kind, smart, lively, and un-pompous man. His obituaries (linked above) give other appealing details of his life. (He had a jam band!) No wonder so many Washingtonians are distraught at his passing. ... (1/14)

Bartlet: Running room on Bush's right? Elizabeth Snead reports in on last week's NBC party:

Looking his usual uncomfortable self, Aaron Sorkin was surrounded by reporters wanting "West Wing" news. "Everything changed on September 11," said Sorkin. "It used to be that the show was romantic and idealized, and the real government was gridlocked and partisan. Now they are fighting a war of good versus evil, and we are just telling stories about repealing the estate tax."

But he plans to change the show's Democratic foreign policy soon. "We're shooting an episode now where President Bartlet is addressing the U.N. and he takes a much harder line on the Arab world than the actual government is doing," Sorkin said. "So this very liberal show is being romanticized by becoming absolutely hawkish."
Hmmm. ... a) Guess the ratings really weren't that good! b) So much for "West Wing" adviser Pat Caddell's old motto, "Left on warfare, right on welfare;" c) Isn't it possible that -- thanks to the shortening public attention span and the TV-production time-lag -- Sorkin's show is now perfectly out of phase with the public mood? When the public wanted to hear about war and only war, West Wing was busy "repealing the estate tax." Now that the public seems ready (perhaps desperate) to hear about something else, Bartlet is going to war. ... (1/13)

On NPR this afternoon, Ina Jaffe closed her report on food stamps with a sentence that began: "With the downturn in the economy having its most severe effect on low-wage workers ...." Maybe Jaffe has some evidence to back up this claim; maybe she's merely stating the truism that it's worse to lose a job if you are poor -- or maybe she's reflexively invoking a liberal cliche that is applied to every recession by NPR reporters. I don't know. But the cliche might not be true this time. These intriguing, non-cliche paragraphs were buried in a recent LAT recession piece:

But in a curious turn of events, it has been the white-collar, college-educated workers most favored during the 1990s expansion who are now suffering some of the steepest job losses and largest jobless increases.

Statistics show, for example, that the unemployment rate for college graduates has more than doubled from 1.5% a year ago December to 3.1% last month. By contrast, the rate for high school graduates climbed by only a little more than a third, from 3.5% to 4.9%.
Who are the recession's most conspicuous victims, after all? Dot-commers! Are they "low-wage workers?" Sometimes what seems to be happening is actually what's happening. ... (1/11)

Best Buddy Conspiracy Theory: A revenge killing for the murder of Kathleen Willey's cat! ... [Thanks to alert kausfiles reader JC.] (1/10)

Let's make this simpler. Will any historian who has not been plagiarized by Stephen Ambrose please come forward. ... has burst the dam. And Ambrose's editor, Alice Mayhew, knew nothing about this? ... (1/10)

I decide what's homophobic around here, buddy! Gabriel Snyder satisfyingly busts Michelangelo Signorile (sixth item). Signorile denounced the media for intimating that Mohammed Atta was gay (and for implying that this might help account for his actions). Then Signorile denounced the media for not mentioning that John Walker Lindh's father is gay (which, Signorile says, might help account for his son's actions). ... Signorile tells Snyder he'll "explain" the contradiction in a March Talk piece. (Guess Tina has to actually run it now!) ... But of course there's no contradiction. Both pieces a) promote Signorile and b) nurture a bogus grievance against straight society. What's left to explain? ... (1/10)

Well-done self-deprecating Josh Marshall riff, which incidentally contains a broad thematic criticism of Stephen Ambrose. ... (1/10)

Robert Reich is indeed running for governor of Massachusetts. His Web site is here, complete with handy "issues" pages, which are mainly links to Reich's columns. ... It's kind of hard to find the pages that give Reich's adamant opposition to the 1996 welfare reform, though. (Wait. here's one, buried in a list of headlines.) ... Reich gets some credit for seeking elected office while flaunting his long paper trail of articles. Too bad his articles often read like he was thinking of seeking elected office. ...Predictable ... I mean branded Kuttner angle: When kausfiles reported on Dec. 4 that Reich had taken a leave from The American Prospect to run, TAP editor Robert Kuttner sent a huffy e-mail denouncing the item. ... Hmmm. Let's see. Reich's last article for the Prospect was in the issue that was advance-dated Dec. 17. (The current issue is dated Jan. 28.) Surely Kuttner wasn't peddling a line of b.s. to conceal what he knew was in fact going to happen. We look forward to Reich's frequent contributions to TAP in the coming weeks. ... [Kuttner is his own worst enemy--ed. Not while I'm alive!](1/9)

Another "blunder" from CNN, this time an ad noting that new anchor Paula Zahn is "sexy." This follows on the heels of CNN's "embarrassment" at the nude pictures of incoming CNN-HN anchor Andrea Thompson that appeared all over the Web. ... These darn "blunders" just keep on happening! And Matt Drudge keeps somehow hearing about them! ... CNN is now faced with another national controversy over how good-looking their new star is. That sort of thing is a nightmare for a network executive! ... A few more of these "blunders" and Walter Isaacson should have CNN firmly back at the top in the ratings. ... [You think it's not a mistake at all?-ed It's a Larry Sanders episode! They send Artie (Rip Torn) to assure Paula that, yes, he was as offended as she was and it certainly won't happen again! ...] Update: Jason Gay seems to agree. ... (1/7)

How long before Ambrose hires Marina Ein? A gracious retreat from Prof. Reynolds in the Ambrose matter. Along with Reynolds and everyone else, I await Ambrose's explanation in that TV "exclusive." ... P.S.: You don't think Ambrose picked the softest interviewer, Condit-style, do you? ... Why can't he just have a press conference where he answers everyone's questions? He can schedule it on a Friday if he wants. ... (1/7)

More work for the Ambrose rationalizers: Not surprisingly, has come up with other instances of Stephen Ambrose's stealing prose from others, with a few minor revisions to cover his tracks. ... In keeping with his new contrition, will Ambrose now go back and give proper credit for those passages (in his Crazy Horse and Custer) too? His editors better order a new supply of quotation marks. ... P.S.: Why did Fred Barnes so meekly accept Ambrose's explanation that his theft was "inadvertent"? One theory -- which is purely speculative, but based on published reports that Ambrose has turned his book-writing into a family industry -- is that Ambrose is taking a bullet for a family member or aide who actually wrote the passages in question. That might get Ambrose off the hook for intentional plagiarism, but put him on the hook for negligently running a plagiarism factory. ... Until Ambrose himself clears the air, speculation will have to do. ... (1/7)

Not So Fast, Mr. Ambrose! Is Stephen Ambrose really going to skate happily away from his plagiarism, his blockbuster earning power intact, with a quick, one-news-cycle apology? Just because the victim, Professor Childers, is being extraordinarily gracious and forgiving doesn't mean we have to be. Some obvious questions:

1) According to the NYT, Ambrose "said the repetition had been inadvertent." Sorry! It's hard to believe that several paragraphs would be repeated, virtually word for word, without somebody intending it. I can see innocently repeating another writer's ideas, or duplicating the obvious structure of an argument (I've done that myself) or even the specific words in a single phrase or sentence (which happens all the time). But not the specific words in whole strings of sentences. ... Maybe the thief was a lazy assistant of Ambrose's, in which case Ambrose's best defense may be "I don't really write my books." If so, it's a defense he should be required to make. .. That a few words in the stolen passagess were changed only magnifies the impression of guilty, intentional theft.

2) Is Ambrose going to pay Childers damages for making what are probably tens of thousands of dollars off Childers' labor? Or is he going to rob the bank, say he's sorry when caught, and keep the money?

3) Will Simon & Schuster apologize to the public for its initial, now-repudiated, transparently false statement denying any wrongdoing on Ambrose's part. ("All research garnered from previously published material is appropriately footnoted.") Don't book publishers have some special obligation not to lie?

I know it's fashionable to argue that plagiarism is an arbitrary concept, that innocent mistakes can be made, that there but for the grace of God go I, etc. I don't buy it. Most writers -- at least writers who write their own copy -- know which words are their own and which are somebody else's. Even Josh Marshall, who does a bit of grace-of-Godding on the subject, finds it very hard to swallow the idea that Ambrose stole whole paragraphs unintentionally. ... Do too many people and corporations (Simon & Schuster, HBO, etc.) have a financial stake in this guy to make him come clean? ... (1/7)

This isn't an argument. It's mere anti-Americanism! I've been skeptical of all the would-be Orwells running around making themselves important by spotting Fifth Columnists in the war against terrorism, but this piece by Monty Python's Terry Jones really is pathologically anti-American and mighty offensive, all the more so because it's skillfully done. Jones courageously argues that "if we hadn't joined the Americans in bombing Afghanistan we wouldn't all be so scared," and laments that British P.M. Tony Blair

led his entire nation into the position of being terrorist targets for no good reason that any of us can think of.
Suddenly I see Andrew Sullivan's point. ... (1/6)

Secular trend of sleeping at churches: Did you see the chart accompanying the NYT's Saturday front-page homelessnes story? The graphic is unfortunately not online, so you'll have to fish the paper out of the trash to get it. Basically, it gives the number of people in homeless shelters in Minneapolis since 1986 -- and what's surprising is that the graph shows a steady, relentless increase, from a little over 500 in '86 to over 3,000 today. The number rises during bust years and rises during boom years. It rises during Republican years and rises during Democratic years. It rises before welfare reform and after welfare reform. ... Just looking at this chart, it's hard to blame any particular national policy change for the rise in homelessness. The chart does fit with the leftish explanation that blames rising urban rents (since they go up in good times even faster than in bad times). On the other hand, it also fits with the right wing explanation that Say's Law is at work here: as more beds and services are offered to the homeless -- and as their provision becomes routinized and destigmatized -- more people consciously or unconsciously wind up claiming them. ...When you next read about near-middle-class working mothers who drive to suburban food pantries to grab a free load of groceries, remember that without a whole lot more detail about these families, it's impossible to tell whether their emergence supports the first explanation (people are needier) or the second (people are less shamed). ... (1/6)

L.A. Auto Show report: ... Judging just by looks ... Better than expected: Saturn VUE, Toyota Matrix, new Nissan Z car ...Worse than expected: Cadillac CTS (looks cheap, hideous ass), Pontiac VIBE (already dreary); Infiniti G35 (there's a reason the ads and publicity stills never show the car from the rear). ... Audi seems to be losing its way, style-wise, proving that when your top designers get hired away by other carmakers it actually makes a difference. The rear of the new A4 convertible looks depressingly like a Chrysler. ... The new Mini, on the other hand, looks as neat as expected, and expectations were extremely high. I'm working on a tortured explanation of why this car isn't a retro cartoon like the VW New Beetle and PT Cruiser, dissed here. (Basically, I buy the spin of the Mini's maker, BMW, that this is what the Mini would have become if it had been continuously updated). ... Meanwhile, Pontiac has somehow made the most dissed car in America, the hapless Aztek, even uglier. (Doesn't Pontiac realize that its trademark styling cues are by now negative branding -- so when they stick the Aztek's hideous massive v-nostrils on the front of the new Vibe, it actually scares would-be yuppie buyers away with the deep, subliminal message, "This is Pontiac schlock"?)... (1/6)

Ambrose Slack: Why is Instapundit, and to a lesser extent the NYT, going so easy on Stephen Ambrose? It sure seems to me that Fred Barnes has him dead to rights -- and the statement from Ambrose's pubisher (that The Wild Blue is "appropriately footnoted") is basically a lie. ... Dare I suggest that if Ambrose's name were, say, Skip Gates (not to mention Cornel West) he would not be treated so judiciously by The Prof? ... Who cares if Ambrose's book "in its entirety" is or isn't stolen. This is not a case of mere parallelism; it's a case of outright language theft. You're not supposed to steal whole paragraphs, period. Nor is it (as the Times suggests) the equivalent of making a mistake in a quotation from Jefferson. ... I know journalists who've been hung out to dry for much, much less. ... (1/6)

The interesting question in the West-Summers dispute at Harvard (which is unfortunately being resolved) is whose side did the '60s era alumni take? You might think "West's, of course." I'm not so sure. Those who lived through the Panther era may be more immune to the charms of radical bullsh----rs. ... (1/5)

I've long suspected that it was a little too easy to condemn, in retrospect, FDR's internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Front Page's Lowell Ponte provides some of the context that makes Roosevelt's decision much more justifiable (although the case is undercut by Ponte's contradictory right-wing desire to paint FDR as an evil racist). ... Specifically, FDR had top secret intercepts showing that Japan really did have "networks of spies and saboteurs along the West Coast, but to apprehend them too surgically might reveal to the Japanese that we were reading their encrypted signals." ... (1/4)

Spinoculation fails in field test: Kausfiles anticipated this triumphalist Krauthammer piece with eerie prescience -- right down to the "strong horse ... weak horse" quote! -- almost a month ago, on December 13. You could look it up. ... The objection lodged back then still stands. ... (1/4)

It seems to me the first paragraphs of this Kinsley column get the real political atmosphere, outside the universities (pace Instapundit), about right. There just aren't that many people who've exercised their "right to go too far." ... (1/4)

Is everything what it seems? If you were accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, and you really had been part of the 9/11 al Qaeda plot, but you'd broken down and were blabbing everything to the authorities, would you want to give that impression in open court, making yourself a potential target for your former comrades? Or would you seem defiant and say "In the name of Allah, I do not have anything to plead"? Just a thought. ... (1/3)

The estimable Heather Mac Donald adds to the growing Doombergism on the right with a WSJ column describing what the new N.Y. mayor is up against if he really wants to enforce basic rules of civility for drug adddicts, vagrants, the mentally ill and ghetto criminals. Mac Donald's "enforce the rules" model only takes you so far, I think -- for the rules to be fair, you need public investments; and city bureaucracies can run amok, rule-wise. But Mac Donald is that rare conservative polemicist who actually goes out and reports. Here she interviews a single mother who used to supplement her welfare check by "arranging photo shoots for such magazines as Hustler, Black Tail and Big Butt." ... [If this single mom made all her income gofering for Big Butt, wouldn't she be a welfare reform success story?--ed. Welfare reform doesn't solve every problem. ... Did I just say that?] ... (1/2)

Jimmy Breslin reminds America why it hated New York: Describing those who walked to safety in Brooklyn in the minutes and hours after the 9/11 attack, the Newsday columnist writes:

We know how we acted in New York and doubt if it could happen anyplace else.

A woman from the University of Richmond, a psychologist of the South, said, "If this was a NASCAR crowd, there would be panic."
There is some kind of clinical condition here. Even contemplating one of New York's proudest moments, Breslin can only achieve civic self-esteem by claiming superiority over those dumb rednecks. ... Somebody get this guy a date with Laura Ingraham! ... (1/2)

They laughed when kausfiles predicted a major outbreak of "Bush-needs-to-prolong-the-war" punditry. Well, it's started -- with George Stephanopoulos first out of the box, on last Sunday's "This Week":

[Y]ou know, you said that President Bush said 2002 will be a year of war. He needs it to be a year of war, politically. And because as long as he has that war, that galvanizing effort, it--it keeps his approval ratings up. Also, it provides him with a mission ...

I think you're ab--absolutely right, [the next phase of the war]'s likely to be police work, yet he continues to use the rhetoric of war. And how much of that is political?
Not that there isn't more-than-a-germ of truth to this! ... (1/2)

Hmmmm Dept.:

September, 2001: WaPo reports that incoming Harvard President Larry Summers and liberal-shocking media personality Laura Ingraham are "an item" ...

October, 2001: Summers shocks liberals by dressing down charismatic, left-lib Harvard pseudo-scholar Cornel West.

Causality or mere correlation? You make the call! ... (1/2)

Is it good for welfare reform? N.Y. Observer's Terry Golway criticizes incoming N.Y. mayor Michael Bloomberg for pretending suburbanites aren't real New Yorkers. The column's pegged to on an old campaign statement -- "what else do we have," asks Golway, with which to assess the new mayor? Well, we have the appointments Bloomberg's made, don't we? In particular, he's picked a replacement for Jason Turner, Rudy Giuliani's welfare commissioner and long-time kausfiles hero. Her name is Verna Eggleston, and while she may turn out to be a brilliant commissioner, she is at the very least an unusual -- and unusually inexperienced -- choice, having spent her recent years as an advocate for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth between the ages of 12 and 21." The New York Post takes a not-irrationally-pessimistic view of Eggleston's appointment. Meanwhile, the NYT has been relatively silent. ... You'd have to be as paranoid as kausfiles to suspect that the vast pro-welfare, anti-Giuliani conspiracy at the Times doesn't want to give unwarranted publicity to a commissioner it likes, but who might not be instantly popular with the majority of New Yorkers who voted for the Giuliani-endorsed Bloomberg. ...

But isn't it better (for welfare reform) to have someone obsessed with gay issues than, say, an experienced Dinkins veteran with a detailed agenda to dismantle Giuliani's reforms (under which the gritty, ghetto-fied city's welfare rolls have fallen 55 percent -- a much bigger deal than, say, Iowa's having fallen 42 percent)? The trouble is that, to be effective, a N.Y. welfare commissioner can't just sit back and let her subordinates do their jobs while she studies up and tries to make sensible decisions. She has to agressively resist the demands of the city's highly litigious "advocate" community, which will pressure her to sign crippling consent decrees that effectively transfer power over the city to the "advocates." ...

Another thing an effective N.Y.C. executive needs is a willingness to endure bad publicity from the Times. Giuliani, who despised the Times, didn't have a problem with this. But what about Bloomberg? In this respect, the following is the most troubling sentence in Golway's piece:

Mr. Bloomberg, however, comes from a world that views the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times as society’s version of the Daily Racing Form.
Can he take the criticism from the people he'll meet at parties if the "advocates'" advocate, the Times' Nina Bernstein, gets on his case? I have doubts. ... P.S.: The NYT, in the few paragraphs it devoted to Eggleston, said her agency "is facing thousands of welfare recipients who are reaching their limits for receiving benefits at a time when the city has lost thousands of jobs." Actually, it's not that cataclysmic a situation. In New York, recipients are assured of continued aid -- the issue is whether they will have to reapply for the state program that will substitute for federal welfare once time limits are reached (and whether the city can use this occasion to offer them public jobs to see if they are willing to work). ... (1/2)

"The ankle bracelet that kept Clinton on the liberal reservation:" Dick Morris has not been wildly effective in blaming his former patron Bill Clinton for terrorism (as Josh Marshall points out here). But Morris does score with a a few heavy punches against his nemesis George Stephanopoulos. ... (1/2)

Those December archives in full. (1/1)

A kf exclusive: Preview the new MKN Network Version 7 home page! ... Look quick, because it might not be there for long. ... Note from crack kf legal team: This is a "parody," chock full of valuable political and social commentary. And poor taste! ... (10/17)

December 2001 archive

November 2001 archive

October 2001 archive

September 2001 archive

August 2001 archive

July 2001 archive

June 2001 archive

McCain-Feingold archive

Archives for January, 2002
Al Qaeda, Ambrose, and Enronnui!
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Enron's Got Nothing on Rick Berke! The NYT's hyped-up poll story.

What Black Hawk Down Leaves Out That raid really was more of a debacle than a victory.

Who Killed Buddy? Yet another Clinton crony who knew too much.

Mickey's Assignment Desk Goes Goo-Goo! Three easy non-9/11 pieces.

Drudge Report
80% true. Close enough!
Main home page.
Not always awful.
New Republic
Whoever owns it now!
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!
Matt Miller
Astute rad-centrist zealotry
Prolific new Web titan
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
Quantity ideas = quality 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
Escapee from Am. Prospect.
Center on Budget
Money Liberal Central
Rich Galen
Sophisticated GOP insider.
Peggy Noonan
Gold in every column.
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.
Harry Shearer
America's funniest man?
N.Y. Press
Good dirty Bushie tab.
NYT-Bashing Central.
Stirs the drink.
Bull Moose
National Greatness Central. WSJ Best of the Web
Monkeyfisher King
Suck, dead. Talk dead. Salon, dying. Kausfiles, viable!

Copyright 2002 Mickey Kaus.

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