Glenn Reynolds -- Unfit for Political Life: I’d love to vote for a candidate like InstantMan (who is being bandied about to fill Fred Thompson’s seat in Tennessee), or see such a person win prominent office. But he’s totally unfit for office. Why?
Well what party would he declare? If he’s a Republican, he’s more of a RINO (Republican In Name Only) than even Richard Riordan – pro-abortion, consorts with weird musicians, confessed former Democrat, obsessed with cloning sexy Berkeley co-eds, etc. If he’s Democrat, he’d be the party’s first prominent member to be praised or at least taken seriously by the Wall Street Journal, National Review and Fox News. And if he’s Libertarian … I mean, do you want some Rand nut formulating National Security policy? Seriously, can you name a governor, congressman, senator or cabinet member who resembles Glenn Reynolds? Maybe Jesse Ventura, somehow? Yet thousands upon thousands of people identify strongly with the guy, from across several political divides…. Run, Glenn, run!
3/9/2002 12:16:54 AM
How the Steal Deel Plays out in the Industrial Heartland: Ed Collins, a shop-floor veteran who is now engineering manager of a small Indiana company, sends along this report on how protectionist steel policies affect industrial production:
Besides the damage to our credibility, it hurts all of us who work in industry. There are millions of us working in manufacturing that use steel and steel products, and this has just fucked us with regard to competitiveness. There are steel companies here in the midwest that do just fine in global competition, such as Nucor and AK. At the Nucor plant in Crawfordsville, the executive dining room is a Chinese place up the road. At LTV steel in Gary, they have their own dinner ware with the company logo. The guys at Nucor fly cabin class, while LTV maintains executive jets.
I used to work at the tool and die shop in Indy for a corporation out of Detroit. When the suits came to visit, they would be driven to the Detroit airport in the company limo, fly to Indy, and be met by the same driver and car at Indy, which had driven down for the express purpose of picking them up at the airport. Most of us suspected they only came down for the Derby or the 500.
3/8/2002 01:15:29 PM
Tom Tomorrow: Reasonable People Can Disagree: Read the entry under “Pay some attention to that man behind the curtain." Not only is he an excessively decent guy and funny cartoonist, Perkins is a damned good writer. Go read the whole thing.
3/8/2002 01:05:04 PM
The Value of Inaccurate Predictions: There’s been an outbreak of tedious partisan sniping on many of the sites I like to read, so I am switching back to books, and Internet-free activities such as swilling booze at French Consulate parties. First, though, this Opinion Journal comment from today caught my eye:
Of course, only time will tell if Podhoretz is right when he predicts a growing "antiwar" movement. And if his prediction turns out to be wrong, his call for vigilance may deserve some of the credit. Now, for stupid partisan fun, substitute “Podhoretz” and “a growing ‘antiwar’ movement” with, say, “Chomsky” and “genocide in Afghanistan.” Or maybe “Garret Hardin” and “mass starvation.” Or “that dude who’s always wrong about the environment” and “destruction of the ecosystem.” Or “smokestack industry in L.A.” and “collapse of the Southland economy due to tough emissions standards.” You could waste whole minutes doing this.
Two banal points: 1) This is an easy way to measure partisan sympathy for sky-is-falling types who happen to be on the “right” side of any given issue. 2) It’s also correct, to a degree – people who make alarmist predictions help grab the attention of those who might be in the position to prevent those alarmist things from happening. People like me spend a lot of energy poking fun at ridiculous predictions and boys who cry wolf, but not enough dispensing credit to those who galvanize public opinion about issues that actually matter. We need our environmentalists and musicologists and geopolitical grumps and even commie-hunters – through their zeal, they gather vital information about things we might well be missing, or on the verge of ruining. But I’d bet they are much better at this than at making predictions and prescribing policies. It’s an important distinction to keep track of.
3/7/2002 11:32:23 PM
Denton Goes Ballistic on Bush’s Steel Cave: Scroll down to “America’s Steel Tariffs.” Excerpt:
Fine to question the efficacy of foreign aid; fine to mock the anti-globalizers; fine to write off African countries as basket cases; fine to blame Middle Eastern governments for corruption. But realize one thing: compromise on free trade, and there is nothing left of US foreign policy but force. No moral high ground, no hope for the developing world, no security but the illusory confidence in military superiority. He also echoes Matthew Yglesias’ complaint about conservative bloggers staying relatively mum on the issue; speaking as one who also tries to write for a living, I find it a bit dangerous/futile to go yelling about what people don’t post on their extra-curricular websites. Better (for me) to wait a week and see how the paid Republican-leaning columnists deal with it, or not.
How the hell can the US administration lecture the developing world on the virtues of free markets if it is unwilling to take on its own steel and textile lobbies? If aid is ineffective, and trade doesn't play well in West Virginia, what is left of US policy towards the developing world? Sell them Disney and remaindered drugs, and crush the towel-heads every decade when they rise up.
3/7/2002 03:52:19 PM
Olympic Hockey Failure, Czech Ethnic Cleansing, and EU Accession: Rob McLean ties these and more topics together, in a post that will help you catch up, if elliptically, to modern Czech politics. Also, I’m gratified to learn that our marvelous wedding in the French countryside (at which he performed a terrific violin solo on a brutal hangover) was the deciding factor in Rob firing his Russian teacher and switching to the language of love.
3/7/2002 12:46:11 PM
New L.A. Weblog Alert: This one’s by the smart Forbes journalist RiShawn Biddle. Here’s a bit from his take on the gubernatorial election:
One can imagine the staffers at National Review were popping open the Moet and dancing on the desks of their Fifth Avenue offices. Don’t believe it? Besides the link to Simon’s campaign Web site -- posted as a “Cool Site” -- there’s John J. Miller’s droolfest, in which he claims that the rather uncharismatic Simon is a someone conservatives “can get excited about.” Only if one gets their kicks off watching paint dry. But what can be expected from a magazine with a staffer that declared yesterday that cloning should be banned "precisely because so many think it’s ok." Prison bitch?
I say let the conservatives dance a jig: Their smiles will be wiped off their faces by Election day as incumbent Gov. Gray Davis -- who isn’t even fit to run a kennel -- makes Simon his prison bitch. Expect Davis to beat Simon by at least seven points and likely by ten or more. Forget all the picayune reasons why the Republicans will lose a sterling opportunity to oust a very vulnerable incumbent -- a candidate whose social policy positions out of step with mostly-liberal Californians and Davis’ hefty bankroll. The real reason why the Republicans will come up empty this November is because they chose the wrong man.
3/7/2002 12:12:14 PM
Tony Pierce Interviews an Escalator: Sample:
Q. What's up with Kobe?
A. He's just young, that's all.
3/7/2002 12:05:47 PM
Blogging from 1750 to 2302: Henry Copeland connects the dots from Parisian café gossip to whatever it is that’s going on these days. Also, don’t miss his incisive column and press round-up about the blogging phenomenon from last month.
3/7/2002 12:03:22 PM
Mark Steyn, on Ex-Saudi Ambassador Charles Freeman: It’s a few days old, but what the hell:
Charles Freeman, a former Ambassador to the Kingdom and now President of something called the Middle East Policy Council, offered a fine example of the genre the other day when he revealed that Crown Prince Abdullah, the head honcho since King Fahd had his stroke, was "personally anguished" by developments in the Middle East and that that was why he had proposed his "peace plan." If, indeed, he has proposed it -- to anyone other than Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, that is. In any case, it's the same peace plan they dust off every 10 years --they proposed it in 1991, and before that in 1981. It's just a couple of months late this time round. But book a meeting around October 2011 with King Abdullah (as he plans on being by then) and he'll gladly propose it to you one mo' time. Prince Abdullah has no interest in Palestinians: It's easier for a Palestinian to emigrate to Toronto and become a subject of the Queen than to emigrate to Riyadh and become a subject of King Fahd. But the Prince's peace plan usefully changes the subject from more embarrassing matters -- such as the Kingdom's role in the events of September 11th. […] Here’s a bit I wrote back in January about another former U.S. ambassador, Wyche Fowler. These people, it can’t be stressed enough, have the Administration’s ear much more than Ted Rall or Michael Moore. Also, I’d be curious to hear if there’s ever been a book that kept score of all the dependably incorrect predictions by the Kremlinologists….
Because everything the Kingdom does seems to be self-evidently inimical to the West, any old four-year old can point out that the King is in the altogether hostile mode. It takes an old Saudi hand like Mr. Freeman to draw attention to the subtler shades of meaning, to explain the ancient ways of Araby, by which, say, an adamant refusal to arrest associates of the September 11th hijackers is, in fact, a clear sign of the Saudis' remarkable support for Washington. If the Saudis nuked Delaware, the massed ranks of former Ambassadors would be telling Peter Jennings that, obviously, even the best allies have their difficulties from time to time, but this is essentially a little hiccup that can be smoothed over by closer consultation.
Do they know what they're talking about? You'll remember the old-school Kremlinologists, who'd watch the Red Army parades and tip as the coming man the 87-year old corpse with the luxuriant monobrow and the waxy complexion propped up against the 93-year old Commissar of the Sverdlovsk gas works and people's hall of culture. The Kremlinologists got everything wrong, of course, and they only had a couple of dozen guys to divine the intentions of. Saudi Arabia has 7,000 princes -- at the time of writing; it may be up to 7,600 if you're reading this after lunch.
3/6/2002 10:23:21 PM
Postrel Pounces: Virginia Postrel has a series of excellent posts and links thwacking Bush’s dreadful decision to prevent the newly democratic countries of Central Europe from selling us their steel (she didn’t emphasize the latter half of that sentence, but that’s the “anti-dumping” thanks we’re giving to our anti-commie pals in Poland, the Czech Republic and elsewhere). Dubya has clearly cottoned on to the notion that history/God has foisted upon him the humbling duty of fighting terrorism. Fair enough, though the religious stuff is starting to creep me out. Here’s my question: besides nuclear war & all, what are the most devastating potential after-effects of Sept. 11? I would say the erection of trade barriers ranks among them. In a time of recession, war, tightening borders and a thriving anti-globalization movement, it is not hard to imagine anti-trade sentiment spilling out from the Buchanan/Nader margins into the mainstream. Bush has the raw power and alleged moral certitude to avoid this kind of embarrassing, short-sighted bullshit, but he chose not to. Slashing trade barriers in the G-8 countries is the single fastest way for poor & desperate countries to become rich & hopeful, period. Why do they hate us? Maybe it’s because, from time to time, we’re full of shit, and abuse our dominant global position for short-term political gain. That’s not the stuff of “chosen ones,” George – that’s positively Clintonian. Remember, globalization was all the rage in 1910, too…
Go read Postrel. It is sharp and fearless writing.
3/6/2002 09:52:13 PM
Click Here for a Picture of Layne’s Office: The L.A. New Times has posted Tony Ortega’s generous profile of LAExaminer.com, which the paper was also kind enough to name “Best New Web Site Covering Local Media” (competition was brutal). Cathy Seipp says some very nice things about Layne and me, and there’s photographic evidence of our crack news operation in action. Actually, if that were the case, you’d instead see Amy Langfield, Ben Sullivan and the reclusive genius behind RatKill.com, but I suppose none of them live on the exact same street as the photographer…. Thanks, New Times!
3/6/2002 08:50:47 PM
Jill Stewart’s Pre-Election Riordan Endorsement: Mickey Kaus’ favorite local columnist, the aggro-centrist Jill Stewart of the New Times, pretty much agreed with the Layne/Sullivan analysis in her pre-election column from last week:
If Riordan wins in March, he will beat Gray Davis for the job in the November general election. And if that happens, the conservative ideologues who have made the California Republican Party virtually irrelevant will finally get a long overdue heave-ho by moderate Republicans. I hope the New Times’ notoriously inflexible print deadlines will allow for some post-election analysis.
For this reason alone, Riordan is the best Republican candidate on March 5. California, for those still too dense to figure it out, is not a conservative state and will not be so for at least 20 more years. Our massive immigrant population, driven by the influx from Mexico, will help assure a moderate voter base that will prevent conservative Republicans from winning a majority in the Legislature in Sacramento -- even if the occasional conservative governor is elected.
It is incredible to me, a mix of liberal and conservative Democrat, that the California Republican Party is too stubborn and backward to figure this out and to develop moderate superstars like Riordan to revive the state party.
Not that Republicans have a monopoly on misreading voters. Just look at how badly Gray Davis and his loudmouth and bellicose spokesman Garry South have been misreading voters….
3/6/2002 06:26:33 PM
An Obvious But Overlooked Music Biz Hypocrisy Tidbit: Care of RallyingPoint:
Living in LA it's possible to get any CD used. People in the industry, often the one's complaining about file sharing, get tons of CD's free and often sell them back to record stores for extra income. I have enjoyed the debate triggered by the Grammy Awards and Ken’s good Fox column on the Industry. The other night, when we were into the wine, I tried to connect the dots about so many newsbloggers being musicians, who share a Napster/Replacements-like ethos of liberally sharing new discoveries with others & encouraging people to start their own bands/blogs … but the logic broke down somewhere.
3/6/2002 04:29:45 PM
The Anti-Sanctions Crowd Bites Back: Kathy Kelly, of the end-sanctions group Voices in the Wilderness, responds to my Reason article over at Antiwar.com. You decide, etc. I’ve received a ton of e-mail about my article during these last weeks, including info about fresh research, and am trying to get back to all of you, post the goodies & respond to stuff like this as fast as I can. It’ll take a while, unfortunately….
3/6/2002 04:28:55 PM
Dept. of Excellent Profanity: Geoff Meltzner uses the phrase “ignorant fucktard” to describe a Guardian columnist. (Via Charles Johnson)
3/6/2002 04:28:24 PM
Columbia Journalism Review: What’s a Business Journal? The magazine that purports to be the el supremo watchdog of my profession has devoted its latest cover to examining how the media screwed up the Enron story. And just like L.A. Times gasbag David Shaw (who is duly quoted), writer Scott Sherman utterly fails to acknowledge that there is a newspaper in Enron’s hometown called the Houston Business Journal. And yet Sherman has the nerve to write objective journalistic sentences like this:
The print media coverage of Enron's top executives was pure hagiography. and this:
With Enron in flames, some business journalists think the time is right for a wide-ranging assessment of the business press's overall performance in recent years. The HBJ has been publishing scores of stories a year about Enron since at least 1997. Were they probing? Hagiographical? I don’t know, but in a five-minute search on their well-archived site I found at least three pieces from 1999 and 2000 that foreshadowed the company's current woes. A media reporter and a media magazine should be ashamed of not even asking how the local Business Journal covered the biggest story in its own back yard.
And, for you media-bias nuts out there, not only did the CJR fail to interview an HBJ journalist, it saw fit instead to give a lengthy quote to American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner. No really, I’m serious. Here’s the paragraph; note the delicious insertion of the phrase “systemic questions” – do journalism schools require 12 units in Systemic Questioning or something? – and also the bias-alarm ringer “some journalists insist.”
It's not enough, some journalists insist, to fine-tune reporting techniques. For them, the fall of Enron is not merely a story about a company that cooked its books and lied to its employees, but a window into larger, more systemic questions about the role of the press in making sure that important policy shifts are debated and discussed. "There's been almost no debate about deregulation," says American Prospect co-editor (and Business Week columnist) Robert Kuttner. "It's just been taken for granted in the business press, and in the editorials, and to some extent in the halls of Congress, that deregulation is just the right and the natural thing to do. It's the 'wave of the future,' and markets 'work,' and all of the ancient, well-documented reasons why there are market failures somehow have allegedly been overtaken by the New Economy. It was nonsense then and it's nonsense now." And Kuttner is “more relevant” than a “weekly business paper” that “covers Enron’s hometown.” Thanks to Media Minded for spotting this rot.
3/6/2002 03:05:01 PM
Wanna Bet, Rand? South Bay spacenik Rand Simberg, who seems genetically predisposed against Richard Riordan, thinks that Gray Davis fell into a trap by picking the wrong Republican to run against. Dream on, space boy! Then again, I’ve been wrong about every important election in recent memory, (with the notable exception of predicting, in a November 2000 pilot for the Australian Broadcast Corporation, that Bush would lose the popular vote but win the election). I agree, however, with Simberg’s comment that
"Astute politicians" don't spit in the face of the core constituency of their party, as Riordan did. McCain made the same mistake. The moderate liberal media, which just l-o-o-o-ves right-wing Sistah Souljah moments, tends to underplay the strategic idiocy of running against your own party during a primary campaign. Then again, knuckle-dragging ideologues (which Simberg, decidedly, is not) tend to underplay how much of their fringe fanatacism is morally deserving of a bitch-slap every day of the week.
If I were still writing for WorkingForChange, I’d rifle off “So Much for the Media Oligopoly, Part II." Riordan, like Villaraigosa, was the media’s clear choice in this election, and got spanked.
3/6/2002 01:44:34 PM
The Joy of InstaCorrections, and Needling Frog Media: In this Telerama story about blogging, Emmanuelle has some nice quotes about how having a website is a great way for journalists to post instant corrections to anything they (or, more likely in her case, their editors) screw up. This is especially important when, as she says, the papers back home aren’t, ah, as rigorous in their online corrections policies. Dig, dig, dig. I can’t wait until she starts a newspaper in France. Speaking of which, she first pitched a weblog story idea to the Internet section of her paper, Liberation, a year and a half ago. Reminded them again after the Sept. 11 explosion. Then suddenly, just recently, they decided they wanted one ASAP. Wouldn’t have anything to do with this Feb. 22 Le Monde story, now would it?
Speaking of online corrections policies, here’s a thrilling story I wrote on this very subject a few years back.
3/6/2002 12:52:13 PM
Lowney! Get Me a New Photo!: Jeff Goldstein didn’t like my Reason contributors photo very much … if he thinks that’s bad, he should see how it looks on the cover of some bad fiction book I didn’t write. It promises to get even worse tonight, when the L.A. New Times is scheduled to publish a picture of my inexcusable haircut and Layne’s filthy office, for a story about LAexaminer.com, which will apparently be given some “Best of L.A.” award. But Jeff – that shirt in the photo ain’t silk, it’s 100% real-deal polyester. And if it’s an example of “coastal hip,” then my 63-year-old aerospace father – the guy with the Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and velour baseball caps – must have been more with-it 20 years ago than we ever imagined.
3/6/2002 12:07:22 PM
Regionalicide, Abortion Blather, Gray-Bait: Shrewd Republican strategist Patrick Ruffini says
The big story is that Riordan's liberalism just didn't win him many votes in the Bay Area, arguably the biggest continuous clump of consistently Democratic precincts in any metro area in the nation. He lost San Francisco by 10 points, and even the home of the Marin mujahid favored Simon 48% to 37%. It’ll come as no surprise to Californians that the Bay Area rejected an L.A. mayor for statewide office, especially a bumbling, liver-spots sort whose charms are most convincing cumulatively. Who’s the last L.A. or Frisco mayor that became governor? (Pete Wilson was from San Diego, which doesn’t count.) Tom Bradley could never leverage his popularity here to Sacramento … imagine what we’d do to Willie Brown! Besides petty regionalism, another key story is that Riordan barely even won Los Angeles County, (by 6.6 percentage points), and in any case, our turnout (23.25 percent of registered voters) was the most pathetic in the entire abysmal state. Ruffini also complains that Davis isn’t rightly labeled by the media as a “liberal” … Uh, well, maybe because he isn’t, unless your entire liberal/conservative nomenclature is based on abortion. If that’s the case, you can be sure that anyone properly “conservative” will continue to get drubbed in this state by Singapore Gray Davis and his less-ruthless “liberal” bretheren.
Glenn Reynolds, who is (of course!) honest enough to admit he hasn’t followed the election closely, says
It seems to me that Republicans in California have problems that can't be solved simply by nominating a guy who isn't very Republican. […] The real question is whether [Simon] can run a campaign that's the start of revitalizing the California Republican party, one that states principles that some people will find attractive -- and that gives even the ones who don't support him the sense that the party has principles, not just poll-tested sound bites. I don't know if Simon can do that, but I'm pretty sure that Riordan couldn't. I wish I could give all the “Riordan isn’t a Republican” crowd copies of the LA Weekly from 1992, when Mayor Dick was presented as the most craven of influence-peddling, Old Guard Catholic, right-wing rights-abusing firebreather we’d seen in a generation. He has been a downtown lawyer and Republican grandee for decades and decades. Some Republicans and conservatives turned on him because it seemed his whole campaign boiled down to, “Y’all are too extreme to be elected.” That sentiment is true, of course, but it’s a hard way to win a primary. Riordan’s best bet was to run on his pragmatist, problem-solving record, and show how that would work in Sacramento … but Davis controlled the debate from the outset, making sure that the election would be a bunch of blather about abortion. Republicans sunk to the challenge, and will get what they deserve.
But let’s not forget to blame all the Golden State’s frothing liberals – there was no compelling reason to vote in the Democratic primary this year, and getting a Republican ballot was no more difficult than convincing an election official that they screwed up your party affiliation (that’s what Layne did). Real liberals should hate Gray Davis, unless the only thing they care about is having someone who won’t make any negative comments about abortion on the campaign trail. Davis shows contempt for democracy every day he brushes his oyster-teeth. His attack dog, Gary South, is the most despicable man I have ever observed in the public arena. They will do absolutely everything within their considerable power to win elections, even if that means wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and laughing about it. They have been on a nonstop fundraising binge since 1998, and now we understand why. Yeah, Riordan’s a weirdo, but he’s a guy who believes in balanced budgets, taking on public sector unions, tackling entrenched problems (like the L.A. Unified School District), making the pro-business/anti-regulation argument every single day, beefing up the police force, cleaning & expanding park space, telling craven identity politicians to get stuffed, and being nice to our Latino neighbors.
One last thought about abortion – though the numbers don’t necessarily support it, I think George Bush’s “don’t-ask-me-about-that!” campaign approach toward abortion is one of the main reasons why he’s president. Conservatives fumed, but they wanted to regain power, so they held their noses. To the extent that Dubya got the soccer-mom swing voters (which truthfully wasn’t a large extent), I think that’s attributable to he not allowing himself to be seen as an anti-abortion obsessive. Want to try a little experiment at home? Imagine our two-party system & politics, as you currently conceive of it … and now remove all references to Roe v. Wade. Would be interesting, no? Might have to start discussing policy, or governing philosophy, or something.
3/6/2002 11:27:05 AM
Hello, Humans! Just back from a lovely trip on the Oregon coast, and a quick detour into deadline. I see that our pal Dick Riordan has been beaten like a runt by that creepy guy with the Trent Lott hair. Too bad. This topic and more will be dissected tomorrow, after I wake up.
3/6/2002 03:34:01 AM
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