OK, pretty cryptic news for those of you not following the Pickering nomination. My thought: either the Pickering opponents are saving their ammo for a Senate hearing, or they are out of bullets. The NY Times has been silent since last week's flurry, so we presume that Sen. Schumer, Sen. Edwards, and the People for the American Way are not making any news on this.
Second thought: York has yet another piece on Pickering, and evidently has some huge files in front of himself on his desk. Some of his material is correspondence between Pickering and Orrin Hatch,so it has not received "adversarial review". However, when will it? The Times, the WaPo, TNR - all silent on Pickering.
This AP story and this Times story suggest that the 1994 cross-burning case will be a significant part of the Dem attack. Well, are the critics simply keeping us in suspense while York puts out his rebuttals, which seem to be based on the public record?
Mickey links to an old NY Times piece, and suspects that what started out as a hatchet job morphed into "man bites dog" - "Blacks at Home Support a Judge Liberals Assail .
Well, this nomination tussle is not about Pickering being a racist, anyway:
Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, which is leading the opposition to the appointment, said many of the judge's supporters in Laurel simply did not know the full details of his record.
"We don't dispute that he has support from a number of African- Americans at the local level, and we have never said he is a racist," Mr. Neas said. "He may be a decent person on a one-to-one basis, but that's not the issue. It's his actions as a public official that demonstrate insensitivity and hostility toward basic civil rights principles."
OK, he is not a racist, he is just insensitive and hostile to basic civil rights principles. Uh, whose principles? My confusion deepens. Or would, if I could take PFAW seriously. But I expect I will seriously save that quote.
Well, we are verging on "All Pickering, all the time" here. The question before the house is, what does a normal sentence look like in a cross burning case? Obviously, the goal is to ascertain whether Pickering was too harsh, too lenient, or what. So, here we go, "google" at the ready.
Louisiana: Facing up to ten years, sentenced to... I don't know!
Ohio: facing up to 10 years, finally sentenced to two years, on what looks like a plea deal.
Robeline, LA: facing up to ten years, sentenced to to four months. This looks very much like a plea deal.
Texas: plea deals of thirteen to fifteen months. But scroll down, and apparently the hammer came down on one other defendants - The lead defendant, Matthew Marshall, received 10 years for using fire in the commission of a felony.
Well, now. Swan was apparently offered 1 1/12 years on a plea deal (WSJ), which is in the range what seem to be three plea deals here. But the lead conspirator in one case got ten years, with the arson charge added. Hey, but Swan wasn't the ringleader!
All right, there must be a hate crimes group that tracks these stats. Where?
And one of these links goes on to a database of DoJ press releases. But only for Western LA. Still...
OK, PDF files and the Adobe Acrobat that reads them are crashing my computer. But here is a group that tracks hate crimes, and they don't show any cross burnings since 1999. Can that be right?
Slow Train Comin' : The Times Profiles Al Sharpton
In their on-going series of profiles of Presidential candidates, Al Sharpton's time has come.
First, the flattering photo (thumbnail on left) gets a lot more space in my Dead Tree edition. His prospects:
Aides in competing presidential camps describe Mr. Sharpton's candidacy as little more than a distraction, a quest on the fringe that will ultimately have little bearing on the Democratic presidential competition.
Although the popular term for this is "denial", it is better known as "whistling past the graveyard".
Yet Democrats acquainted with Mr. Sharpton's style and skills suggest that might be a miscalculation. Many Democrats say he could prove to be a constant and potentially unwelcome complication for the other Democrats seeking to challenge President Bush.
For two decades, Mr. Sharpton has shown an unflagging talent for winning attention for himself and his causes. (He was on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" for 17 minutes this morning.) His wit, bluster and bravado make him endlessly quotable, bolstering his reputation as a ruthless political street fighter.
As the only black candidate in a crowded field, Mr. Sharpton said, he would do well in states with large black populations. In particular, he said, he might win the important South Carolina Democratic primary, an assertion that did not seem outlandish to other Democrats, who noted that 40 percent of the South Carolina Democratic electorate is black.
...Mr. Sharpton is putting the others on the spot by raising issues they have avoided: calling for all Confederate flags to be taken down in South Carolina and Mississippi, for example.
He tears into the credentials of his rivals with all the enthusiasm of a Republican, calling for the ouster of Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party chairman, asserting that his party has abandoned its liberal roots and planning for a prominent speaking role at the Democratic convention in Boston in 2004.
...Referring to the other presidential contenders, Howard Wolfson, the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, "These guys have no idea what they are in for."
Well, let's give them an idea:
Al on the DLC: "They never regained the Congress," Mr. Sharpton said. "So how long do you keep going over a new strategy that doesn't work? They are no longer the new Democrats. They are the old Democrats. We had another debacle in 2002, we're going to give them another shot? That's crazy."
Al on John Kerry: Mr. Sharpton noted the paucity of blacks among Massachusetts's elected officials, and said he read a newspaper article the other day about racial profiling there.
"Where is Kerry in his home state?" Mr. Sharpton asked. "If I'm going to be in the debates, he's going to have to talk about that."
Other rivals: Mr. Lieberman, he said, was "an opponent of affirmative action," a characterization that does not square with how Mr. Lieberman describes his own views on the subject. Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri "stood with the president on the war — and was part of the leadership that was absolutely defeated in 2002."
He saved his harshest words for Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, a trial lawyer who, Mr. Edwards's advisers argued, posed the greatest threat to Mr. Sharpton's hopes of a strong showing in the South.
"This guy got rich fighting for the regular guy," Mr. Sharpton said. "So I'm going to ask him at the debates: name one regular guy you fought for that you didn't get paid for. With a Sharpton-less race, he's gotten an easy ride."
His platform: The platform and the party's candidate, he said, should oppose a war in Iraq, the death penalty and the tax cuts pushed by President Bush, and should champion affirmative action. He said he would push for the ouster of Mr. McAuliffe as the party chairman, calling him a "nice man" who had failed.
Pretty mainstream stuff. OK, Bill and Al "supported" the death penalty, but that was then, and we all know political expedience when we see it. Let's get a principled Dem out there. And good luck to you.
UPDATE: Eric Alterman comments on Al. But I am not seeing a reaction otherwise in my quick lefty tour. C'mon, AL will get many more votes than Dean - face reality.
If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.
Groan. As little as I like Fat Ted (and check his photo for another data point on obesity in America), this quote is waaay out of context. So, I will seize my once in a lifetime chance to rise in defense of Ted Kennedy, or the Globe, or whoever.
You pretty much have to read the whole article, but the author is working several recurring themes. One of these themes is, what might Teddy have accomplished if not for Mary Jo Kopechne, and what has he done in spite of it.
It makes a lot more sense if you read it. Creative excerpts:
He has epiphanies," a friend told author Adam Clymer, but that's the old mythology talking. On October 25, 1991, Kennedy gave a famous speech at the Kennedy School of Government in which he said, "I recognize my own shortcomings, the faults in the conduct of my private life." By then, the woman in the car had been dead for 22 years, dead because of a situation in which alcohol and recklessness were intimately involved, and if this was an epiphany, it was a damned slow one. What he was on the day of the speech was an almost 60-year-old divorced man who drank too much, an aging father and uncle who was the caretaker for a spectacular array of functional and dysfunctional children, and that was all he was, and the barstools are full of them.
Those men have "problems" to overcome. Kennedys have "epiphanies."
Snip (hey, works for Lileks)
And there he is, rid of most of that now, 70 years old and 40 years a senator, and he stands for all the curdled glory, but most of all, for himself: Legislative lion and failed dauphin; dark prince and heir apparent; Capitol Hill grind and Palm Beach sybarite, talisman, and bogeyman; Camelot and Dallas and Los Angeles and Chappaquiddick.
And what of the dead woman? On July 18, 1969, on the weekend that man first walked on the moon, a 28-year-old named Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in his automobile. Plutocrats' justice and an implausible (but effective) coverup ensued. And, ever since, she's always been there: during Watergate, when Barry Goldwater told Kennedy that even Richard Nixon didn't need lectures from him; in 1980, when his presidential campaign was shot down virtually at its launch; during the hearings into the confirmation of Clarence Thomas, when Kennedy's transgressions gagged him and made him the butt of all the jokes.
She's always there. Even if she doesn't fit in the narrative line, she is so much of the dark energy behind it. She denies to him forever the moral credibility that lay behind not merely all those rhetorical thunderclaps that came so easily in the New Frontier but also Robert Kennedy's anguished appeals to the country's better angels. He was forced from the rhetoric of moral outrage and into the incremental nitty-gritty of social justice. He learned to plod, because soaring made him look ridiculous. "It's really 3 yards and a cloud of dust with him," says his son Patrick.
And that's the key. That's how you survive what he's survived. That's how you move forward, one step after another, even though your name is Edward Moore Kennedy. You work, always, as though your name were Edward Moore. If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.
Or, great moments in corporate self-awareness: the NY Times struggles to locate itself on the ideological spectrum while discussing the Nike free speech / commercial speech case which the US Supreme Court recently agreed to hear.
Mu summary of the case: a critic of Nike, perhaps an anti-globo funded in part by U.S. unions, can say anything they want about Nike, limited only by their imagination and laws about slander and libel. Fine, it's a free country with free speech rights.
But suppose Nike responds? Arguably this is commercial speech, intended only to promote their ability to sell footware. Commercial speech is more tightly regulated as to accuracy. Corporations can not present falsehoods in an advertisement. But can they shade or obscure the truth in an "advertorial"? How about in a message placed on their website? What about the CEO, speaking on behalf of (and paid by) his company? What free speech rights might a corporation have?
Interesting. So, the Supreme Court agrees to hear this, and, deep in the story, the Times tells us this:
There is a lively debate within the court over whether to elevate commercial speech to full First Amendment status. With Justice Clarence Thomas the leading exponent of this view, this is one First Amendment issue that does not follow ordinary liberal-conservative lines.
Well, that sounds right. Normally, liberals take an expansive view of free speech rights, as with McCain-Feingold, and view dimly any attempt to regulate corporations. Conservatives, on the other hand, routinely sacrifice free speech rights to other interests and are happy to regulate corporations. In Bizzarro World.
So what might the Times be getting at?
The New York Times Company was one of 32 publishing and broadcasting organizations filing a brief on behalf of Nike, which is represented by Prof. Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School and Walter Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general, among other lawyers.
Oh, my, the "Advertisor Protection Case" of 2003! And since the advertisors run their ads in the Times, their interest is clear. McCain-Feingold applied to television ads - totally different. But I guess in this case the Times figures that, since it supports Nike, it must be a liberal cause. Please.
NY Times Book Review on 'Fat Land'. Intriguing excerpt:
At least from a business perspective, the fattening of America may well have been a necessity. Food companies grow by selling us more of their products. The challenge they face is that the American population is growing much more slowly than the American food supply -- a prescription for falling rates of profit. Agribusiness now produces 3,800 calories of food a day for every American, 500 calories more than it produced 30 years ago. (And by the government's lights, at least a thousand more calories than most people need.) So what's a food company to do? The answer couldn't be simpler or more imperative: get each of us to eat more. A lot more.
Well, perhaps we could export more. But I will tag along regardless.
Some of the credit for creating this new environment belongs to an unheralded businessman by the name of David Wallerstein, the man Critser says introduced ''supersizing'' to America. Today Wallerstein is an executive with McDonald's, but back in the 1960's he worked for a chain of movie theaters, where he labored to expand sales of soda and popcorn -- the high-markup items that theaters depend on for their profitability. Wallerstein tried everything he could think of to goose sales -- two-for-one deals, matinee specials -- but found he couldn't induce customers to buy more than one soda and one bag of popcorn. Why? Because going for seconds makes people feel like pigs.
But Wallerstein discovered that people would spring for more popcorn and soda -- a lot more -- as long as it came in a single gigantic serving. Thus was born the Big Gulp and, in time, the Big Mac and jumbo fries. Though Ray Kroc himself took some convincing: the McDonald's founder had naively assumed that if people wanted more fries they'd buy another bag. He didn't appreciate how social taboos against gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins, after all) were holding us back. Wallerstein's dubious achievement was to devise the dietary equivalent of a papal dispensation: Supersize it!
Hey, cool! Now, I have seen the Subway's ads, so I know they are trying to create a niche for themselves as the healthy alternative. Too bad that every time I actually go to a Subway, the menu seems to be emphasizing dessiccated donkey dung. But I do eat less...
Finally, the reviewer is disappointed that the writer does not issue a clarion call for greater government involvement:
Indeed, the question of responsibility looms large in the growing debate over obesity, and it is here that Critser loses his footing a bit. While ''Fat Land'' does an excellent job connecting the dots between government and corporate policies and the fattening of America, by the end of the book the problem has largely, and somewhat inexplicably, been redefined in terms of personal responsibility. Critser expresses the hope that ''the food industry might . . . take it upon itself to do something'' like resize portions, but nothing that has come before gives us reason to think the industry would ever do any such thing.
Well, given the state involvement in Medicare and Medicaid, it is undeniable that there are public policy implications here. Hmm. If having a military draft to build our national character does not trouble some folks, how could they object to a mandatory quarterly weigh-in? Perhaps variable Medicare deductions based on weight and health-related stats, or a penalty on (future) Social Security payments for non-compliance. OK, it is a libertarian nightmare, but would folks object if a private insurer proposed something similar? NO, because they could choose to use a different insurer - faux comparison!
I'm guessing out loud here - I can't even imagine what sort of regs the reviewer has in mind, and he is not saying. "That bag of chips is to big, m'am - come with us."? Maximum serving sizes? Whatever.
OK, over to the ever-slender, yet intellectually supersized Jane Galt, who has been on diets for weeks now.
UPDATE: The Monday Times joins in: school lunches and school phys-ed! OK, if you are looking for logic...
And if you want everything you thought you knew about obesity and health thrown out the window, check out TNR with the puzzling links: "Weighting Game".
• A chart in Science Times on Dec. 31 with an article about possible adjustments to Einstein's theory of relativity misstated the value of Planck energy, which some theorists think should represent the maximum energy of an elementary particle. It is 1019 billion electron volts, not 1019 electron volts.
• An obituary on Thursday about Richard Mohr, a producer of opera records and Metropolitan Opera intermission broadcasts, misspelled the surname of an artist who recorded for him. It was the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, not Rubenstein.
The article also misspelled the name of an aria from "La Traviata" that the sopranos Licia Albanese, Dorothy Kirsten and Eleanor Steber sang together on one program. It is "Sempre libera," not "Libre."
...This race-baiting is all the more offensive because it is demonstrably false about Judge Pickering's career and a gross distortion of the 1995 case called U.S. v. Swan over which the judge presided. That case concerned three young white men who burned a cross in the yard of a mixed-race couple. If Mr. Schumer has a complaint it should be with the Clinton Justice Department, which was relaxed enough about the crime to offer the defendants plea bargains. Two--the ring-leader, who was a juvenile, and a low-IQ adult--accepted the offers and served no prison time.
The third defendant, Daniel Swan, rejected a deal that would have meant a year and a half in jail and decided to take his chances with a trial. He was convicted and, under the mandatory sentencing guidelines, received five to seven-and-a-half years. Judge Pickering got Swan's sentence reduced on the grounds that it was disproportionate to the other sentences and because Swan had no history of racial animus.
Because the case involved a cross burning covered under the federal hate-crimes statute, local authorities immediately brought in investigators from the Clinton Justice Department's Office of Civil Rights. After the three suspects were arrested in late February, 1994, lawyers for the civil-rights office made the major decisions in prosecuting the case.
In a move that baffled and later angered Judge Pickering, Civil Rights Division prosecutors early on decided to make a plea bargain with two of the three suspects. The first, Mickey Thomas, had an unusually low IQ, and prosecutors decided to reduce charges against him based on that fact. The second bargain was with the 17-year-old. Civil Rights Division lawyers allowed both men to plead guilty to misdemeanors in the cross-burning case (the juvenile also pleaded guilty to felony charges in the shooting incident). The Civil Rights Division recommended no jail time for both men.
The situation was different for the third defendant, Daniel Swan, who, like the others, faced charges under the hate-crime statute. Unlike the others, however, Swan pleaded not guilty. The law requires that the government prove the accused acted out of racial animus, and Swan, whose defense consisted mainly of the contention that he was drunk on the night of the cross burning, maintained that he simply did not have the racial animus necessary to be guilty of a hate crime under federal law.
OK, a careful reading of York reveals that he never said Swan was not offered a plea deal. However, York is presenting a story, not testifying in a deposition. A bit more clarity, please.
I am familiar with the prosecutorial tactic of the "roll-up" - strike plea deals with the underlings, use their testimony to convict the biggies. I am also familiar with the idea that, if a defendant rejects the plea, he risks having the house drop on him at trial.
York should be a lot more clear about just what happened here. And the whole "racial animus" issue is tricky. But if Pickering's complaint is that, having turned down a plea deal for 1 1/2 years, Swan should have been sentenced to 2 1/2 years after conviction, well, that is not how it works on Law and Order.
Now, I am open to the possibility that many of these details were unknown to Pickering until the actual trial began. But at this point, York appears to be disingenuous at best.
UPDATE: It does not appear that Frist rallied to Pickering's defense on the Sunday talk shows, according to "PunditWatch". But here, he seems to be more effective.
Two of the men made plea-bargain deals with the prosecutors, getting off with probation and brief house detention. The third man refused a plea bargain and went to trial. He was convicted. Under federal sentencing laws, that meant he received a prison term of seven to seven-and-a-half years.
Well, the WSJ says that Swan rejected a deal that would have meant a year and a half in jail, so it appears that there was a disparity in the initial plea deals offered to the three defendants. This is consistent with the view that the Feds were focussing on the "wrong ringleader". One wonders what Swan might have done if offerred probation and house detention, and why the Feds did not offer it to him.
That said, York points out that the Feds also got a felony plea from the juvenile for the shooting incident. What was the sentence for that?
UPDATE: Some potentially comparable cross burning cases I dug up are linked here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Are there no other journalists in the world? York again, responding to questions from fans and foes. Remind yourself to focus on fact, not spin, and you will find some nuggets here. E.g., there are several examples of cases where Pickering "departed downward" in his sentencing.
I mentioned it in an update below, but this story may be headed for the mainstream. Nathan Newman found it, Atrios is flogging it:
It's become a mantra of the defenders of Charles Pickering that he "courageously" testified against a Klan leader back in the 1960s.
But this involved a town where WHITES were being attacked by the Klan as a series of bombings threatened the white establishment. And it was interlaced with violent labor struggle in the primary employer. See this article:...
OK, the article is from Feb 27, 2002, the last go-round with the Pickering brawl. If it was ignored then, there may be a reason. The final Senate commite vote was not until March 15, so timing was not the issue.
So, here we are. I don't have the impression that the source is totally objective, but it is a great starting point.
UPDATE: Here is the totally non-partisan Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the same issue. Well, it seems that Republicans are making hay of this.
UPDATE 2: When in doubt, check Byron York on Pickering:
According to a letter written on Pickering's behalf by Charles Evers, brother of murdered civil-rights activist Medgar Evers, "In 1967, many locally elected prosecutors in Mississippi looked the other way when faced with allegations of violence against African-Americans and those who supported our struggle for equal treatment under the law. Judge Pickering was a locally elected prosecutor who took the stand that year and testified in the criminal trial against the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was accused of firebombing a civil rights activist. Judge Pickering later lost his bid for reelection because he dared to defy the Klan, but he gained my respect and the respect of many others as a man who stands up for what is right."
The Klan case, although 35 years ago, stands out in many memories. "Pickering is not perfect — no one is — but he has courage," Johnny Magee, a black city councilman in Laurel, Mississippi, recently told Legal Times. "He was involved as a county prosecutor in fighting against the Ku Klux Klan and helped put Klansmen behind bars. That was something you just didn't do in Jones County in the 1960s."
UPDATE 3: OK, now I am stuck. How many trials was Bowers of the Klan in back in 1967? From this bio, he was tried in 1967 in the "Mississippi Burning" trial for the murder of three civil rights workers, and surely you remember Gene Hackman. Testifying in that trial would have been a big deal. But York, above, mentions "the criminal trial against the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was accused of firebombing a civil rights activist".
Hmm. If I were boosting Pickering, I would surely have made a point of the "Mississippi Burning" trial. OTOH, how could one trial be dangerous and polarizing, and the other not? Presumably we should be checking the Dahmer trial, a firebombing-turned-murder which led to four trials in the 60's. Dates don't seem to match, though. Now I need help.
Regardless, the central theme of this criticism of Pickering seems to be "attacking the Klan took no guts". I am unconvinced.
MORE: How do you like this "stream of consciousness" blogging? If we can believe the socialists, Pickering testified in the Dahmer trial.
First, as to Schumer - what spirit moves him? Perhaps after the NYC Mayoral debacle amongst Sharpton, Ferrer, and Green, Schumer is hoping to establish his "street cred" as a powerful voice for the constituency which might otherwise gravitate towards Al Sharpton and his preferred candidate. Schumer will be defending his Senate seat in 2004 and does not need a primary challenger to muddy the waters, especially since Rudy Giuliani is lurking as a possible opponent.
And Bush? Bush is firmly committed to a principle I exhort my NY Jets to follow this weekend: find a new way to lose. Hmm, there needs to be a more upbeat way to express that, but the idea is, if you are going to make mistakes, make new ones. A tiny detail illustrates the point: Bush I was criticized for glancing at his watch during a televised debate in 1992. In 2000, neither Bush nor Cheney wore their watches during the debates. [Check last paragraph]
Today's headlines provide a more obvious example - Bush I was criticized for having no economic plan. Well, the tax plan proposed by Bush II may not work, may be a disaster, and may be the wrong tax cut for the wrong reasons and the wrong people (or not), but it is unmistakably and inarguably a plan.
Similarly, Bush I was criticized for losing the enthusiasm of his base. Now we see Pickering renominated, and I take that as a clear sign that we will see the Administration opposing the Michigan plan in the Affirmative Action case before the Supreme Court.
This is easy - figure out what Bush I did wrong (time consuming, yes), then guess at what the opposite course would look like. E.Z.
And Pickering? C'mon, when was the last time I disagreed with Micky AND the Man? And I'm not starting now.
UPDATE: He got "big media" attention on the Lott case, and seems to be attempting to wrap his tentacles around Pickering. If something hops from the blogosphere to the mainstream, it will probably be here - keep an eye on Atrios, who has an interesting point on the "Pickering testified against the Klan" story. And props to Nathan Newman.
Krugman earnestly explains his comparison of Bush to Marcos. Rumble, elephants! Sullivan and Reynolds comment derisively. Most cuttingly, Volokh chews on Krugman's mention of "the Bush administration's creation of a cult of personality". [Update: Mickey joins the fun - fans of oral surgery wonder, is it safe?]
My question is much simpler - if Krugman has time to post his nightmare vision of Bush as Most Glorious and Exalted Celestial Ruler, might he not also find time to post a translation of the interview? Some of us might prefer to judge the interview for ourselves.
UPDATE: More on Krugman's mental health from Drezner. Now, as to some of P Krug's weirder comments, I am actually leaning towards a "Kidding!" defense. However, the biographical data he presents represents a serious overshare, as my kids would say, so I wonder: who is establishing a cult of personality now? And Drezner mentions "megalomaniacal paranoia" - well, I am not a health care professional either, but since Krugman is an only child who has never had kids of his own, he has been starring in "The Paul Krugman Show" his entire life. Does this make him a better candidate for the Drezner diagnosis?
OK, it is a week late, but so many folks have asked me for my outlook on 2003 that a quick comment is appropriate. Stock market, politics, war? I have no idea. But it will be a great year - not good, but GREAT!
Why am I so sure? Tell me you are kidding. We have the Matrix sequel in May, Terminator 3 in July, and just before Christmas Aragorn, Legolas and the crew will open the final can of whup-ass on Saruman and Sauron. But the cake will be frosted in July, if there is justice in the world.
Andrew Sullivan quotes a reader, who lets a bit of air out of the Bob Graham Presidential balloon with this news:
[Graham] will never get the Democratic nomination. You see, back in 1984, Bob Graham, then running for the Senate, endorsed Ronald Reagan for president. The "endorsement" actually took place during a televised debate between Graham and his opponent. He essentially repudiated the Walter Mondale candidacy, stating that "Ronald Reagan has been good for America." Florida Democrats have a long memory. Those in Hollywood and Manhattan have even longer memories."
Hmm. I can not "google" the truth of this. However, Graham was Governor in 1984, and ran for the Senate in 1986 against Republican Paula "Screaming Jay" Hawkins. [Note to self: that last link might be broken.]
So, we are puzzled about the Reagan endorsement, since Graham was not a candidate for anything in 1984. That said, Mondale apparently abandoned Florida, which Reagan carried with 65% of the vote, so who knows? And BTW, that is a fine looking map I link to. A short, successful war with Iraq, a rebounding economy, Condi picking up Republican votes with her Senate run in California, Senator Giuliani and the NYC convention helping in NY, and we may see it again in 2004. Sorry, audible dreaming.
Does anyone think Elian will be an issue? Back in 2000, when Graham was considered as a VP for Gore, the Boston Globe gave us this cryptic comment:
Florida Senator Bob Graham probably took himself out of business with his home-cooking performance during the Elian furor.
I do not know what that means. Anyway, The New Republic has an interesting piece on Graham.
UPDATE: A correction appears in Sullivan's letters, but not on his main page. Oh, if Howell Raines did this, we would see the steam!
My two cents? Reuben Askew ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination against Mondale in 1984 and later joined the "Stop Mondale" movement. Mondale was also calling for higher taxes. Could Askew have made some "pro-Reagan" noises that Sullivan's reader later associated with Graham?
Voyage to Arcturus took us to Baghdad last September, by the light of the silvery moon. If I am following, then the first week of February would seem to be a likely time for a US led coalition to attack Iraq. The inspectors report to the Security Council on Jan 27, so that seems to tie in. My remaining question - in 1991 the land campaign was preceded by about six weeks of bombing. Perhaps we bomb for a week, and invade? Five weeks, and invade in the first week of March? Or does this matter less than I suspect?
Several senators questioned Pickering about a 1994 cross-burning case in which Pickering went to extraordinary lengths on behalf of one of the defendants. A Feb. 11 Legal Times article noted that Senator John Edwards "questioned both Pickering's sensitivity to crimes of racial bias and the propriety of the judge's efforts to intervene."
In the case, two men and a juvenile had burned an eight-foot cross on the lawn of an interracial couple with a young child. The juvenile and one of the men, described as borderline mentally retarded, pleaded guilty and received reduced sentences. The third, described by the Justice Department as the leader of the conspiracy, refused to plead and was convicted after a trial. He faced a much more severe sentence, largely because of a mandatory minimum sentence for crimes involving arson that had been enacted by Congress. Defendants who cooperate with the prosecution and do not force the government to go to trial are routinely given reduced sentences, but Pickering took unusual and ethically questionable steps in getting the government to drop the charge with the mandatory minimum and acquiesce in a shorter sentence.
Last Thoughts On The Bush Tax Proposal - Until Next Time
First, what does Bush really want? According to news stories, in December Bush aides were contemplating a $300 billion package with a 50% dividend exemption. Now we are offered a tax cut package exceeding $600 billion with full dividend exemption. Will Bush supporters die of disappointment if Bush allows himself to be bargained back to the 50% threshold? [Mini-update: the WaPo chimes in.]
Secondly, Bush has changed the tone in Washington! Democrats are not talking about undoing the tax cuts scheduled to be phased in in 2004 and 2006. Now, they are proposing their own version of tax cuts. A political win for Bush.
Thirdly, we eagerly await the many opportunities for new tax management schemes at both the corporate and personal level that the full dividend exemption will afford. I guessed at some corporate ideas at the end of this post. An obvious play for individuals - borrow money to buy tax exempt preferred stock. Deduct the interest expense, take the dividend tax-free, and maybe make some money. Whether this works will depend on the subtle interplay of the tax rates of marginal investors and issuers. Some investors are tax exempt; some issuers don't pay tax. Time will tell whether this tax play works, and whether Congress allows it. Rules are already in place to prevent such scheming with tax exempt bonds - more tax code wrinkles to address dividends?
Finally, we bemoan the lost opportunity of tax simplification. Back when Steve Forbes was boring us with calls for a simple flat tax, the argument was that, since simplification led to winners and losers, it could only be coupled with a tax cut. Well, with his 2001 and 2003 tax proposals Bush has offered $2 trillion in tax cuts without a lot of simplification. Bother.
UPDATE 2: Floyd Norris of the NY Times explains the subtleties to us. And some of my earlier questions are answered: if a corporation does not pay taxes, its dividends will not be exempt. Hmm, does this mean that ordinary shareholders will put the company's tax reurn under a microscope? They may not like what they see. And I am thinking of "Big Pharma" when I say that.
The NYTimes published this while I was on vacation (my winter motto: carpe skiem!). Let me see if I can remember the mini-tirade that so annoyed my wife and houseguests as I summarized the article. No peeking, now.
The article starts with a quote from Breaux wondering whether Edwards is properly seasoned. Lacks a bit of cajun sauce, maybe? And why is Breaux not a candidate - when I think of Breaux I think of charm, good looks, and Lousiana, and two out of three ain't bad. Sorry, digression.
Next, we meet the Senator with a quote that makes him out to be a perfect self-absorbed a**h***. "Hello, I'm John Edwards, and I want to be President so I can protect my wife and kids. Your family, pal? Hey, you're on your own."
OK, he didn't really say that. TNR gives us another opinion on the fateful words, as does the Hammer. But wow, will Edwards' handsome, chiseled jaw drop when he learns what Rumsfeld did on 9/11, rushing from his office to the crash scene at the Pentagon, where he helped move survivors out of the area. And I hope Edwards is near a heart surgeon when he learns about Afghanistan!
Ok, pressing on, still from memory, next we have a quote from Ma Edewards marveling that "Johhny" is ready for such high office. Them a quick discussion of his political ambitions - he denies having a lifelong passion for politics, and a quote from the wife is used to sugest he is a liar. His political agenda? He wants to be John McCain, but he is not quite ready. His big selling point - people like him, excuse me, "he connects". Hey, it may be enough, and maybe my dog can be Vice-President. Edwards never really built a fund-raising network in North Carolina, since he mostly used his own money back in 1998. And now he is off to the White House, and good luck to him.
It was quite a ghastly profile, if I am remembering it correctly. Probably ought to double-check at some point. Still, I think the Times may be looking elsewhere for leadership.
Or, who loves the propsed Bush tax package? My thought was to scan the obvious candidates for cheerleading - the WSJ, the NRO, and the Weekly Standard. Away we go, with the Journal: We were hoping for a big and bold tax cut from President Bush and, by George, we got one.
They like it! Accelerating the scheduled cuts in the top rates is a winner! Well, I thought so too. The child care credit is marked as political: "while the credits are popular the economics isn't all that pretty." And the elimination of dividend taxation?
...Returning profits to shareholders, the true owners of firms, would free this capital to flow to higher-return, more productive companies. It would also bump up stock prices, maybe as much as 10%, thereby reducing the cost of capital and encouraging firms to invest. Count this proposal as another economic win.
Well, I will count this analysis as a near total loss. Half of the 10% jump in share prices is, almost literally, yesterday's news. New incentives, please! The WSJ ignores the many devices, such as share repurchases, by which companies have circumvented the taxation of dividends.
OK, on to Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard, who makes an interesting political point: the Democratic tax cut is geared toward juicing the economy in 2003. If it then fades in 2004, well, hard luck for whoever is in the White House. Conversely, the Bush/Rove plan offers modest stimulus now, and more in 2004. This may be advantageous to Bush as he cranks up his re-election effort.
As to the specifics, what does Mr. Barnes say?
"...the president doesn't think injecting a huge amount of cash into the economy today would solve the real problem. Investment in buildings and equipment dropped 5 percent in the year following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and businesses cut 1.2 million jobs. That's the real problem: a lack of investment, not a lack of consumer spending."
" Were Bush only worrying about the politics of cutting taxes, he probably wouldn't have decided to eliminate the tax on stock dividends. Many economists question whether it would juice up the economy. And most of its benefits are bound to go to wealthy stockholders, thus prompting Democratic criticism. But it's bound to improve the stock market by making dividend-paying stocks more attractive and freeing money for investment. And guess when stockholders will actually get their tax cut? When they file their returns in 2004.
In truth, Bush has proposed the kind of tax cuts he likes, the cuts which provide incentives to save and invest."
Well, this is not exactly pounding the table for dividend tax relief, but I suppose Republicans can work with it. How about over at the NRO?
In a column apparently intended to elicit an "Oh, for pity's sake" response, Bruce Bartlett informs us that Jimmy Carter himself talked about eliminating the taxation of dividends. Well, it is not often that the NRO turns to "Jimmah" for economic guidance, so let's enjoy the moment.
"Eliminating the double taxation of dividends would unlock equity capital, lower the cost of capital, and liquefy the U.S. capital structure, adding dramatically to U.S. growth. Right now, there's a tax wedge between corporate earnings and shareholders. This would eliminate that wedge, allowing a more efficient allocation of capital."
"Eliminating the double taxation of corporate dividends will raise stock market values, increase investor returns, and improve both corporate governance and corporate finance practices, in effect becoming the most significant pro-growth tax reform since President Ronald Reagan slashed personal income-tax rates twenty years ago."
He likes it too. I think raising stock prices and improving returns, if they are a one time adjustment to a new tax regime, mean nothing. Improved corporate governance? Well, companies may feels some pressure to actually cough up some cash, which may expose them to a bit of the same capital market discipline that so effectively reined in companies like Enron. And as to improved corporate finance practices? Presumably he means that companies will adjust their target equity to debt ratios and de-lever ther balance sheets. My prediction - look for creative schemes under which companies issue tax deductible debt to a special entity, which then issues tax exempt dividend paying preferred stock to investors. Schemes like this were popular in the 80's, exploiting accounting rules and the 85% exclusion companies enjoy on dividends received. My understanding is that tax and accounting rules have changed, but the imagineers on Wall Street will work with this.
More bold predictions: Congress will write a million new rules to cover "tax exempt" dividends. Can a company declare a dividend when it is not reporting taxable income, due, for example, to investment tax credits or depreciation? If a company is not a taxpayer, what "double taxation" are we avoiding? How about liquidating dividends - tax exempt, thus circumventing capital gains rules? I look for hideous tax "complification" as a result of this proposal. Which is just how tax accountants, lawyers, and Wall Street likes it. Oh, man, cynicism reigns.
So, big finish - the usual suspects support the Bush proposal, with more enthusiasm then I expected.
Here is a wild Tom Clancy - Steven den Beste scenario for dealing with the North Korean nuclear reactor - smart spears:
The reactor must be physically destroyed.
Blowing it up like the Israelis blew up Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor in 1981 (with bombs dropped by F-16s) is obviously not the best way – far too public, releasing a media firestorm. Far better to destroy it quietly, safely, stealthily and mysteriously.
With a spear. A steel rod 40 feet long and 4 inches in diameter, fin-stabilized, with a needle-sharp tungsten-carbide tip, equipped with a small JDAM guidance package including a GPS. It is non-explosive; there is no warhead.
You've heard of smart bombs. This is a smart spear.
You take a half-dozen of these Smart Spears up in a high-altitude bomber, like a B2 or B52, and drop them over Yongbyon at 50,000 or 60,000 feet. The Smart Spears have such a big sectional density that it will be like a vacuum drop – with no wind resistance, they will be going faster than the speed of sound when they hit their target.
Going so fast and with almost no radar signature, the GPS-guided Smart Spears will punch through the Yongbyon reactor and keep right on going, burying themselves in the earth several hundred feet deep. The North Koreans won't know what happened, and all there will be is some holes in the ground – plus a melted-down reactor....
Well. The rest of the article goes beyond the fringe, but this idea is intriguing. "Google" comes up with nothing on "smart spears" for me, although I suppose a lesser man would be delighted by the many links to Britney Spears.
However, here are twoarticles about the GBU-28 bunker buster bomb already in the US arsenal. It uses explosives, but is probably heavier than the "Smart Spear". The GBU-28 is half as long but has three times the diameter - nine times the cross section times half the length equals roughly four times the volume for the GBU-28. Relative densities of steel and high explosives? Beats me. And might a smart spear be a steel pipe packed with spent uranium, thus allowing us the delightful irony of deactivating the reactor by dropping uranium on it? Where is Mr. Den Beste when we need him?
Anyway, if the GBU-28 is steerable despite its weight, I suppose the Smart Spear should be as well. Whether we can deliver it without attracting the attention of radar operators in North Korea, Russia, China, and South Korea seems to be problematic. Let's see:
Of the three active American heavy bombers, only the B-2A "Spirit" (or stealth bomber) is able to drop a variant of the bunker buster, called the GBU-37/B. America's other stealth aircraft--the F-117A "Night Hawk" light bomber and F-22A "Raptor" fighter--are unable to carry the GBU-28/B because of the planes' relatively short bomb bays.
If this were my fantasy, I might just take the explosives out of a GBU-37/b and let 'er rip. Obvious benefit - the rest of the system has already been tested. Whether the B-2A is stealthy enough, I have no idea. And going with the untested idea of dropping Britney Spears onto North Korea seems to introduce too many variables into the mix.
There were 633 roll calls cast in the 107th Senate of which 498 roll calls had at least 0.5% or better in the minority and were used in the scaling.
I think the "0.5% or better in the minority" means that if the Senate unanimously wishes Aunt Edna a "Happy 101st Birthday", the vote is dropped from the analysis.
So, my question - the roll-call votes seem to include what I will guess are organizing resolutions - Senate majority leader, and so on. I infer this from the fact that Bush, Senator from USA, votes 63 times (he is ranked at 70.5). Presumably, these are straight party-line votes, and reflect a Senator's loyalty, rather than political philosophy. So, does dropping the straight party-line votes change the outcome much? The extremes presumably won't change, but there might be more mixing across the center. E-mail, ho!
A fascinating guest editorial in today's WSJ by Carl Bildt, the former prime minister of Sweden. His theme is that protection of intellectual property is critical to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa and developing nations:
...There is clearly an urgent need to expand access to life saving drugs in the world's poorest nations. A waiver mechanism would facilitate the grant of compulsory licenses for export and offer poor countries the flexibility they might need to achieve this goal. But negotiators in Geneva must remember that expanding access to existing medicines is not a sustainable option. As much as 99% of essential drugs are already in the public domain in Africa. Innovation is an equally critical part of the equation.
The challenge we face today is not only to get existing therapies to patients but also to encourage a steady stream of new medicines. The fact is that development of new and better medicines will depend upon whether the international community maintains the stability of an intellectual property system that rewards the development of these medicines. Private sector risk taking and investment generated those innovative medicines that today save countless millions of lives around the world. And investment will be the key to developing a new generation of innovative AIDS treatments that work against increasingly resistant strains of the virus, or, even better, a vaccine.
Moreover, patents and other "tools" of the intellectual property system stimulate technology transfer, investment and economic growth. And, even more important in the long term, we should not forget that they spur and reward local creativity and innovation. The software industry in India achieved world-class status after improvements were made to its copyright regime. And Brazil and China have experienced vast increases in pharmaceutical sector investment following improvements to patent laws. Over time, there is no reason why Africa should be different.
Sorry, I promised something on "cows". Mr. Bildt goes on to explain his belief that economic development is the best public health prescription. European, US, and Japanese agricultural subsidies to domestic farm interests inhibit third world growth, as we have heard before. And he closes with this sound-bite:
A long-term solution will require the U.S. and EU to liberalize their markets and help developing countries onto a path of sustainable economic growth. It remains truly shameful that the EU subsidizes every cow with $2.40 every day -- which is more than three-quarters of the population of sub-Saharan Africa have to try to live on.
When you put it that way - ouch! Of course, the subsidy goes to the farmer, not the cow. Europe is not (I hope) trying to assure that these cows live in comfort and plenty - but it is still a lovely sound-bite.
Supply siders have said for years that it is not simply the magnitude of tax cuts that stimulate the economy, it is the incentive effect (or lack thereof). For example, cuts in marginal tax rates reward additional work; cuts in standard exemptions reward additional breathing. Supply siders typically prefer to reward the former, since the incentive to engage in the latter is scarcely a function of tax rates.
An example of this belief is presented in today's WSJ, excerpted as follows:
...This isn't to say that all tax cuts raise revenue, as in the liberal caricature of supply-side economics. But it does mean that some tax cuts change incentives enough so that taxpayer behavior also changes and so less revenue is "lost" to the Treasury. This is especially true of the response to cuts in marginal tax rates, as ample evidence has shown over the years.
In a June 1995 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein followed the behavior of the same taxpayers before and after the marginal rate cuts passed in the 1986 tax reform. The taxpayers "who had the biggest taxable rate cuts had the biggest behavioral response," he says.
Estimating conservatively, Mr. Feldstein found that at least 30% to 40% of the revenue loss predicted for those tax cuts was regained as a result of changes in behavior -- that is, by taxpayers working and investing more and in more productive ways. A separate NBER study has shown that marginal rate cuts have an especially large incentive impact on second earners in a household, mainly spouses.
...An added benefit of such a move would be to show Members that when it comes to promoting growth (and thus revenue) all tax cuts aren't equal. In Joint Tax's static world, a marginal rate cut that changes incentives is no better than a one-time tax rebate that taxpayers pocket but don't build into their future work calculations. In such a world, Members will naturally support whatever tax cut happens to do best in the polls or have the most special-interest support, not the one that does the most economic good.
According to official White House figures, the administration proposes spending $364 billion over 10 years to end dividend taxation; $64 billion to accelerate cuts in income tax rates; $58 billion to speed up the removal of the "marriage penalty;" $91 billion to hasten an increase in the child tax credit; $48 billion to accelerate the move of lower income taxpayers to the 10 percent bracket; $29 billion for adjustments in the alternative minimum tax; and $16 billion in incentives for small business purchases.
OK, the idea of eliminating the double taxation of dividends has been around forever as an improvement on the economic efficiency of the tax code. However, the idea is also out there that, at the margin, both investors and corporations have attempted to make their peace with the tax code through such mechanisms as share repurchases as a substitute for dividends. Thus, a big portion of this part of the tax cut may simply represent "found money" for the current holders of dividend paying stocks, and would have no significant supply side incentive effects.
$68 bilion to accelerate scheduled cuts in the marginal rates: good. Deferred tax rate cuts can actually encourage people to postpone income producing activity, which is not the best way to give the economy a quick boost.
$58 billion to reduce the marriage penalty: could be good for incentives, depending on the details.
$91 billion to hasten an increase in the child tax credit: I would be shocked if supply siders could make a case for this.
$48 billion to accelerate the move of lower income taxpayers to the 10 percent bracket - I have to give this a maybe - it depends on whether the 10% is the relevant top bracket for the folks in question.
$29 billion for adjustments in the alternative minimum tax, and $16 billion in incentives for small business purchases: Again, a maybe.
So, from a supply-side perspective for folks scoring at home, we have $68 billion of "good" tax cuts, most of the $364 billion associated with dividends as "not good", $91 billion for the child-care credit as "not good", and a bunch of "maybes".
Now, Karl Rove is the reigning genius in Washington. But I doubt that supply-siders will be beating the drums for this tax package. Where Rove and Bush find the Senate votes for this is a mystery to me.
UPDATE: Alan Reynolds, supply-sider, makes the case for the dividend tax cut. Perhaps it is my selective reading, but he seems to emphasize the political appeal to seniors, rather than incentive effects.
This North Korea situation will work out just fine. Pyongyang needs fuel and food now, the US needs some reassurances on their nuclear program soon, and Bush is actually pretty credible at the "I'm even crazier than you" game.
I'll decide later exactly how to define "just fine".
UPDATE: If I could decide what I was talking about, perhaps this would be it.
From my exotic remote location, the ISP directions seem simple: If the user experiences difficulty with the normal dial-up connection, then (1) wait for a clear day with no breeze; (2) take the computer into the backyard and set it on fire; (3) send smoke signals.
Opportunity for Enterprising Fact-Checker: This from the NY Times:
"By contrast, the United States had a 2.0 rate, which demographers attribute to greater immigration.
I don't think the number or the explanation is correct, but who has time with kids and vacations?
[OK, from the Economist: By the 1990s American fertility had rebounded, rising back to just below the 2.1 mark.
Nobody quite knows why. Some of the recovery was the result of higher-than-average fertility among immigrants. But not all of it: fertility rose among native-born whites and blacks as well. Perhaps the most plausible, if unprovable, explanation is that higher fertility was the product of the economic boom of the 1990s combined with what one might call “social confidence”: America was a good country to bring more children into.
Well, who are you going to trust? ]
Turn And Face The Change: "In Italy... Labor Minister Roberto Maroni has announced that the cost of the state pension system will need to be reduced. "
Little Known Cultural Quirk: "Ms. Ginori [who is, unsurprisingly, Italian] and many women she knows have never married, in part, she said, because of a facet of Italian life that she cited as one possible explanation for the especially low fertility rate here.
Many Italian men, she said, live with their mothers into their 30's. When they marry, they are not prepared to help out at home in ways that take pressure off women, especially if those women want to have children.
"Even the most open-minded guy — if you scratch with the nail a little bit, there's the mother who did everything for him," she said. "I hate the mothers of these men. These mothers are a disaster."
And finally, Confirming What I have Been Saying: People are studying longer, and thus are finding work later, when there is work, and then are marrying later, which doesn't necessarily mean having a baby anymore," said Valerio Terra Abrami, head of the department of social statistics for Italy's National Institute of Statistics.
Emphasis added. The high structural unemployment in Europe has many consequences.
Jay Caruso Shows The Democrats The Way To The White House
Bob Graham for President! A popular former Governor, currently Senator from big-state Florida, Southern appeal, good resume - why not?
Now, I recollect that Graham was the model for the potential rival that "Clinton" had to blackmail out of the race in "Primary Colors", set in 1992. [Mini-update: How often do you have a cup of coffee and think of Lawton Chiles? I may have to look this up.] Graham was also mooted as a VP pick in 2000 [As I recall, but where's the cred now?].
Would Graham's entrance eliminate the first, last, and only rationale for an Edwards candidacy? With JF Kerry filling the "self-financing guys named 'John' who remind us of Kennedy" niche, and Graham as a distinguished Southerner, what is left?
UPDATE: Oh, how right was this? Skip the impenetrable time stamps, and let me excerpt Hauser from Dec. 4:
Bob Graham -- national security guru, media fave, former successful Governor of a small, politically insignificant state (that would be both (a) Florida and (b) sarcasm, for those scoring at home, and if you are. . . .) would seemingly make a superb centrist Presidential candidate, superior in every way (e.g., integrity, electability) than Joe "I'm basically popular only amongst Jewish staffers in the Beltway" Lieberman. CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN why Graham isn't running for President??? [MORE ON WESLEY CLARK in the near future, bye the bye]
That nails it. Although he doesn't point out the Edwards comparison. Check his latest dark vision for Dem success in 2004.
I know Pandagon and Hauser and commented on Ward Connerly's comment that:
"Supporting segregation need not be racist," said Mr. Connerly. "One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races."
Well, other folks commented too. And what can you say, except it's crazy?
OK, it's crazy. Now, I have no reason to doubt Mr. Herbert's account in the Times. However, I can find no other source for the quote, so we are "context-free". But in "Googling" around I came up with this recent PBS interview (presumably NOT the one to which Herbert refers), and a 1997 letter to President Clinton. I am sure you want excerpts:
PBS: All of us have said things that lend themselves to misinterpretation or interpretation that we may not have intended.
Connerly may be living proof. But more PBS:
...we really have no tolerance for segregation or the way we did things in the past.
The letter to the President: Your statement to the NABJ—"I don't know why the people who promoted 209 in California think it's a good thing to have a segregated set of professional schools"—is just plain irresponsible.
No one "promoted" 209 more than I, so I believe it is fair to assume that you are characterizing me as a proponent of racial segregation. This is not my position nor that of anyone I know who was involved in the Prop. 209 campaign. We do not believe a segregated set of professional schools is a "good thing," that is why we are the ones in this debate who are fighting to unify Americans by having our government treat everyone as equals regardless of race—as the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 intended. We acknowledge that discrimination still exists and we call on you to strengthen the enforcement of those anti-discrimination laws that are on the books.
No one of goodwill wants our public institutions segregated....
SO, Ward Connerly is opposed to segregation. I suspect that we all suspected that anyway.
Was he crazy for letting such a bizarre sound-bite pass his lips? Well, yes. His comment exceeds my most fevered spin-doctoring. When I think of "segregation", I think of the whole package; schools, restaurants, water fountains, and so on. If Mr. Connerly had some other context in mind, he should have used a different word.
However, here is a black WaPo columnist arguing in favor of preserving black neighborhoods. Maybe (maybe?) this is what Mr. Connerly had in mind, before his brain disconnected from his mouth?
Yes, pretty lame. Now let me just limp out of here.
UPDATE: He may be without qualities, but The Man is not without backbone. He wants context, and he is adamant that Connerly may have a point.
Well, I have tried a couple of times to nail Herbert with a "gotcha", and have come up empty. Third time a charm? Meanwhile, I am inclined to think Connerly should know better than to ruminate out loud and drop sound-bites like this - he knows he is a lightning rod.
UPDATE 2: If at first you don't succeed, "Google, "Google" again. And no, I have no idea why I missed it this morning. David Frum excerpts a transcript, cleverly concealed in yesterday's NRO.
Marshall doesn't see "what on earth this had to do with a Senate race in Tennessee." He concludes "the answer is obvious: nothing" and thus accuses Frist of dabbling in "racial code words and appeals." Does Marshall know that in the early '90s Sasser was chair of the Senate subcommittee in charge of the District of Columbia -- at a time when Congress exercised considerable control over the District's budget (and when federal taxpayers picked up the tab for a large chunk of that budget)? For at least part of that period, Marion Barry was D.C. mayor -- and nobody would call the bureaucracy tolerated by Barry and Congress lean and mean. (Barry's successor had to stage a round of layoffs immediately on taking office.) When Barry made his comeback after his drug conviction -- successfully winning election in 1994-- he boasted of his ability to get funds for the District:
I know Congressman Pete Stark, I know Senator Sasser, Senator Cohen and others in the Congress who control our budget. [Emphasis added.]
Maybe there's a record somewhere of Sasser denouncing Barry during his tenure -- but I haven't found it.
To this I would say, yes, I know that. But does Mickey remember that Sharon Pratt Kelly won election as Mayor of Washington, D.C. in November 1990 and didn't leave office until early 1995 -- a couple months after Frist won election.
Barry was mayor of DC from 1978 to 1990 and then again from 1994 to 1998. In other words, the four years prior to Frist's campaign were the only four years out of twenty when Barry wasn't mayor of DC.
Wow. Josh Marshall is scraping what we hope is the bottom of the barrel. Marion Barry was back on the city council in 1992 and re-elected mayor in November 1994 - the same election campaign in which Frist connected Barry to Sasser, and the same election campaign in which, according to Kaus, Barry said:
"I know Congressman Pete Stark, I know Senator Sasser, Senator Cohen and others in the Congress who control our budget."
"One reader -- flopping around like a fish-out-of-water making the case for Frist -- "
He thanks Marshall for illustrating the fish-flopping concept.
UPDATE 2: An interesting alternative view. A reader admits that Marshall may have been a bit light in his presentation of the situation, but wonders about Kaus and Frist as well. Paraphrasing boldly, the argument runs: "Marion Barry as a legitimate symbol of corruption and fraud, with his race as some sort of "bonus"? How about a bit of leadership from Frist - take the high road, or, when in doubt, leave it out. If Frist is straining for a symbol of failed Washington administrative policies, the words "fraud" and "corruption" are available. Also "waste". If mentioning Barry might be mistaken for race-baiting, don't do it. Save us all an annoying defense."
Well, good point. It is a high standard, and I am not admitting that Frist engaged in race-baiting, but yes - a better road was available, and Frist could have walked it.
THE FINAL UPDATE: Now, back to the question of whether Marshall engaged in responsible reporting when he first peddled this story without mentioning the Sasser-Barry link. "I knew that", says Marshall. Then why hide it? Here he has yet another post, with yet another explanation:
The best evidence here is Frist's own defense of his use of Barry at the time. When Sam Donaldson asked him what Barry had to do with a Senate campaign in Tennessee, Frist said: "Not very much, but Marion Barry symbolizes a lot about what people think about politics today."
Mickey's retroactive excuses had never even occurred to Frist. Or if they had, he knew they wouldn't pass the laugh test under actual questioning.
Marshall knows this based on press accounts? Interviews with Frist and his campaign people? Or is this just psychic journalism?
Back in 1994, Frist was a political novice in his first campaign. He had been briefed on everything from the Middle East to the Far East, and a thousand points of light in between. Maybe he simply forgot.
But evidently Marshall dismisses the link as "wouldn't pass the laugh test". Or does he? Later we see:
"But Frist couldn't even seem to come up with what his legitimate political issue was.
Emphasis added, leaving us with one "laugh test" and one "legitimate". Any tie-breakers?
Barry proved a convenient way to marry together the legitimate, if extremely obscure, issue of the subsidy the federal government rightly pays the District of Columbia -- bear in mind that Tennessee is one of those states that receives back more in programs and subsidies than it sends to the federal government in taxes -- and an appeal to unflattering views of blacks.
Hmm. So in Marshall's view, the link seems to be legitimate. Just not legitimate enough to actually report. Whatever.
Next, subtle transition: This latest post opens with an odd attack on Mickey Kaus. Why, Marshalll wonders, is Kaus defending Frist?
...to me it looks like another distressing case of Mickey's BOBL -- bend-over-backwards-liberalism, the curious but telling desire on the part of the afflicted to turn over every stone and spare no effort to find excuses for or rationalize the behavior of the right. One can certainly find better examples of it in recent weeks. But this one definitely fits the symptomatology.
First, I want a Mickey Kaus "BOBL-Head" doll of my very own. What a great gift idea! And Josh needs a new one too - it sounds like the one he has only nods to the right.
Secondly, the NY Times gives as its source for this Frist anecdote the former campaign manager for Frist's opponent. I will cautiously characterize this fellow as a partisan Democratic operative, pending further research.
So, Marshall's musing about Kaus seems to distill to the following wisdom: if an attack on a Republican comes from a partisan Dem, take it to the bank. But if conservatives, or Kaus, rise to the Republican's defense, well, watch out - a person who would defend Frist today will be defending Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats tomorrow, and by next week will be pounding the table on behalf of Ghengis Khan and whatever he did to make people so memorably annoyed.
Well. This should make for a one-sided national debate on race. And everything else. Perhaps that's just the way Marshall likes it. Saves him all this troublesome research, and fact-checking, and rebuttals.
This may be the one-minute post to beat all, since I have waaay to many pre-Christmas chores to attend to. Alan Krueger, writing in the NY Times, summarized a study which demonstrates discrimination in hiring.
Let's use the CalPundit piece as a "summary" of objections to the study. The CalPundit characterizes these as "conservative" objections", but one presumes that liberals are also interested in seeing well-designed studies that shed light on the truth.
After that the objections start to break down. Brad DeLong wrote a post about the study that generated an enormous discussion thread, and reading it reminded me of why I haven't bothered to implement comments here at CalPundit. The gist of the thread seemed to be that maybe blacks were more likely to sue over being fired, or maybe their degrees were perceived as being worth less due to lower standards caused by affirmative action...
Sheesh. I thought conservatives were opposed to identity politics like this. Why is it so hard for them to admit that there is still genuine racism left in America?"
Now, two points:
Does preferential admissions leads to preferential grading at colleges and universities?
And is this conclusion so surprising? A school makes a great effort to recruit minorities. Might the faculty feel some pressure to keep those students afloat? And, for the more sinister-minded among you, suppose a white student complains to a dean that a professor is unsympathetic. Possible consequences for the Prof? Now, suppose a minority student complains. Is the Dean more likely to get involved? Is there a possibility that professors think this way as they meet with students who have questions about the professor's grading policy?
As to the second objection, that a black employee has greater legal protection from the EEOC - is that wrong? I have not researched this, but my casual impression is that the EEOC files on behalf of monorities and women, not white guys. But I do try to learn something new every day.
So, the objective of the underlying study was to send out "equal" resumes. But if, due to questions about grades and the legal environment, the resumes are not equal, what do we conclude? Resumes perceived to be unequal result in an unequal call back rate? Really.
None of which means that racism does not exist, or that affirmative action is bad, or that the EEOC must go. The conclusion would be that there are problems with this study.
Or, I suppose, sheesh - why is it so hard for liberals to admit that affirmative action has undermined (did I say "eliminated"? NO.) the credibility of minorities in the workplace?
Yes. Josh Marshall, who was unable to remember the controversy around Kennedy's election (Scroll down for "The Time Machine"), seemed similarly unable to remember instances of Democrats exploting the race issue. Thus, I marshalled a bit of contemporary history to help with the answer to his question:
The question is whether the party as a whole benefits from the use of racism or race-tinged wedge issues in certain parts of the country and whether the party as a whole makes any efforts to say such behavior won't stand. In the case of Republicans and race the answer to the first question is clearly 'yes' and the answer to the second question is 'not nearly enough'.
Well, Mr. Marshall is much too partisan to address this question within his own party. Others, however, may find it to be interesting.
UPDATE: Spoiler Alert! No, "Flood the Zone" is not a reference to the big finish at Isengard in "The Two Towers". I blame Mickey and the NY Times. Hey, in a race-based bonus, my man de-bunks Marshall on Frist. Ouch!
OK, "Disingenuous Alert"! Marshall responds: But does Mickey remember that Sharon Pratt Kelly won election as Mayor of Washington, D.C. in November 1990 and didn't leave office until early 1995 -- a couple months after Frist won election.
(Click here for more details.)
Barry was Mayor of DC from 1978 to 1990 and then again from 1994 to 1998. In other words, the four years prior to Frist's campaign were the only four years out of twenty when Barry wasn't mayor of DC.
Well, Barry was elected in November 1994, the same election period during which Frist uttered his now infamous remarks. Unless Barry fell out of the sky on Election Day, he was probably campaigning prior to the election, just as Frist was. Barry was back on the D.C. council in 1992, and presumably announced his mayoral candidacy during 1994. Legitimate election issue? According to Kaus, Barry was citing his connections to Sasser during the 1994 campaign.