The real Dean Dilemma.

The real Dean Dilemma.

The real Dean Dilemma.

A mostly political Weblog.
Jan. 8 2004 11:00 PM

How Now Mad How?

The real Dean Dilemma.

Howard Dean vs. the special interests!  Vermont's teachers' union had "suspicions about [Dean's] views on school choice" and refused to endorse him in 1996 and 1998. Did AP's Ross Sneyd bury his lede? ... Is Dean's public centrism so boring only because he doesn't dare say what he really thinks? How un-McCainish. ... Meanwhile, what about the acclaimed  Kerry Surge? His third-place  support is soft in Iowa, according to the (admittedly tarnished-by-its-Davis-performance) L.A. Times poll. And he's a digit away from single digits in Neighboring New Hampshire! ... 12:39 P.M.

Friday, January 9, 2004

Here's one obvious idea for how Howard Dean could solve his "Bad or Bland" dilemma. Dean's challenge, remember--now that it no longer helps him to get livid--is to make the essentially moderate, un-self-critical and uninteresting substance of his politics exciting. On the stump, he occasionally does this by discussing decisions he made as governor--for example, how he told the head of the state prison department that the prisons could forget about a budget increase, but wound up giving them one because they needed the money. This story serves three purposes: it shows Dean can be tough, it shows he can be self-deprecating and it shows he can go against conventional liberal instincts. Dean needs more such stories, lots of them, and one way to get a steady stream is to go post-modern and turn his campaign into a reality TV show! Let the cameras wander the halls, recording policy meetings, fights, staff tantrums. Let's see the 2004 equivalent of the prisons chief in Dean's office begging for money. (They could bleep out Trippi like Ozzie Osbourne!) It could be riveting and might help Dean break the standard presidential dominance of the news. And if a lot of it had to be staged ... well, it's a reality show! Most of them are staged. ...  Eventually enough voters might become addicted and come to like Dean. ... Hey, it worked for Paris Hilton! [But she had that sex tape.-ed You don't think .... nah.] ... P.S.: R.J. Cutler, who made "The War Room," is just the man to do this show, although he has another, not dissimilar project. ... P.P.S.: There could be a carefully-calibrated substantive component too--the candidate visiting people who don't have health insurance, following them as they get wildly expensive emergency room care, etc. (as long as this was followed by more fights and tantrums!). ... P.P.P.S.: Would the Dean campaign be giving away campaign secrets to the opposition? Not necessarily. Like most reality shows, this one could be edited and released after the secrets were no longer so secret--e.g. a show on debate prep would be shown after the debate in question. ... 3:03 P.M.

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The Iowa Caucuses--Excrescence on the Body Politic: A four-year old videotape shows Howard Dean perceptively maligning the sacred Iowa caucuses as "dominated by special interests" and "the extremes." Rep. Richard Gephardt seized the moment:

"The remarks he made about the Iowa caucuses to me are unbelievable. I guess I'd ask him a question: Who are the special interests dominating this caucus? Is it the farmers? Is it organized labor? Is it senior citizens?"

Um ... how about "yes", "yes" ... and "yes!" ... [Thanks to colleague W.S.] 2:31 P.M.

Thursday, January 8, 2004

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Kerry's N.H. tracking poll number asymptotically approaches zero, or Lieberman, whichever comes first ... But Fineman thinks the vaunted "Kerry surge" in Iowa is not just prop-him-up Deanie spin. He reports Kerry is in "a strong second place position." Not in these polls, though (where he's a strong and close third).  ... P.S.: Usually New Hampshire voters react to the Iowa results. But what if the Iowans read the New Hampshire tracking polls and conclude Kerry's a goner? ... 8:59 P.M.

How Now Mad How? Why did Howard Dean persist in "having a little fun" by sneering at Bill Clinton and the moderate Democratic Leadership Council at the very moment when he was supposed to be making his long-awaited pivot to the center? My tentative theory, which may be blindingly obvious, is this:

1) The essential triumph of Dean's campaign has been making a relatively moderate, conventional Democratic agenda seem radical, rebellious and exciting. He's done this, as everyone knows, by being really angry. But when he has attempted to lose the pose of leftish insurgent and move to the center, he's tended to replace angry populism with ... blandness and banality. Read, for example, Dean's recent big domestic policy speech, "Keeping the Promise of America." It's Dukakis with a head cold!  Dean tries to hype his platform--saying it's nothing less than "a fundamental renegotiation of the rights and responsibilities of the critical actors in the American economy: families, corporations and government." Why, it's a "new Social Contract for America's families" to supplant the New Deal!  But it's not. It's the New Deal plus health care and day care and tuition grants--just like all the other New Social Contracts moderate Democrats have put out over the years.

Nothing wrong with that. (Do you really want to 'fundamentally renegotiate the rights and responsibilities of families, corporations and the government'? I don't.) But it's not very exciting. The jibe that Clintonism was a damage control operation was the only interesting thing in the speech, which is why I suspect it was in there--just as the reckless line "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer" was the most interesting thing in Dean's big, responsible, 'is-this-tedious-enough-for-you?' foreign policy address

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2) What Dean isn't able to do--but Clinton was able to do--is to express fresh centrist thoughts, exciting centrist thoughts, thoughts with some bite. Clinton did this largely through a willingness to take on his own party. "End Welfare as We Know It." There was something new! Democrats hadn't said that before (and indeed it pissed a lot of them off). Or "Abortion should be safe, legal and rare." 

Dean, in contrast, wants Democrats to stop being so defensive but doesn't want to confront the reasons why they might have been put on the defensive in the first place. We've forgotten about that--it was so long ago! But was it just a Washingtonian lack of fighting spirit that rocked the party back into minority status--or was it excessive, dogmatic loyalty to the very Democratic interest groups Dean has spent the past year sucking up to? Teachers' unions whose elaborate job protections for the semi-competent have turned suburban schools into swamps of mediocrity and inner city schools into nightmares. Industrial unions such as the UAW--whose detailed local work rules help guarantee that Detroit now builds essentially no cars that Howard Dean's Honda/Volvo/VW-driving supporters might actually want to buy. Affirmative action pressure groups whose efforts guarantee that competent professionals of color must carry around for life the stigma of having received special preferences. Bilingual educators promoting what is by now a proven means of holding Latino students back. Housing lobbyists who push "house the poorest first" rules that turn HUD projects into community-destroying hellholes. A senior lobby that has prevented adjustment of Social Security benefits--including "means-testing" the benefits of the rich--until it may be too late.

Dean campaigns to "Defeat the Special Interests," but as far as I can tell he has nothing to say to these special interests that they don't want to hear. He's even dropped Clinton's main positive-yet-biting theme: a constant rhetorical emphasis on work, which implicitly excludes people who don't work (and rejects antipoverty welfare programs that undermine the value of work). Dean doesn't talk much about work; he talks blandly about "America's families." His vision of the "new Social Contract" is long on benefits and short on responsibilities,  The main responsibility Dean cites is a vague "responsibility to particpate in our country's civic life," which seems to include a "voluntary," unenforceable, thousand-points-of-lightish "ethic of service."  Hey, I can go along with that! But if it's voluntary then it's not really part of a contract, is it? Clinton's work requirement, in contrast, had some consequences. If you didn't work you were only going to get two years of welfare, and you weren't going to get the Earned Income Tax Credit that became the government's main anti-poverty program (and you don't get most of the New Deal's other benefits, like Social Security). Is Howard Dean going to take away your day care if you don't start "helping neighbors when newborns come home from the hospital"? I don't think so.

3) I suppose it would be possible to be an exciting centrist Democrat without being a self-critical Democrat--for example, along 'we-have-seen-the-problem-and-it-is-us' lines touted by Will Saletan  and, most famously,  Pogo. But Dean hasn't found a way to do that either.

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Peggy Noonan writes that "Mr. Dean's problem in the future will not be so much credibly pivoting right on major issues as attempting to pivot into something like the normal range in terms of temperament, personality and the interpretation of things he's already said when he's popping off." But Noonan (by her own admission) doesn't want Dean to win, only to put up a noble fight. If Dean's going to actually win he'll have to do both--move to the center and start acting more normal.

Dean's certainly comfortable as a moderate--check out his old pundit tapes. His dilemma--the real Dean Dilemma, it seems to me--is that unless he keeps popping off, unless he maintains the mischievous posture of slightly irresponsible anger, when he moves to the center he threatens to bore everyone to death.

I have a couple of half-baked ideas for how Dean might solve this problem, but will leave them for later. 7:38 P.M.

BLOG HOGS HED CRED: Why didn't anyone besides Austin Bay--say, someone at the New York Post--think of "Mad How"?  With those six letters, the next month should be a headline writers' party! ... Sample: What's the hed after Howard Dean wins Iowa and New Hampshire and switches to a sunnier, tax-cutting message?

MAD HOW GLAD NOW

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It practically writes itself! Congrats to Bay. ...P.S.: A controversy involving Dean's feisty TV spots?

MAD HOW AD ROW!

2:30 P.M.

Three (3) Questions:

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1. Isn't Dick Morris jumping the gun a bit by more or less declaring the Edwards candidacy dead? ("Edwards' campaign never really got going.") Where was Gary Hart in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls 11 days before the Iowa caucuses in 1984? At 5 percent? Six percent? Yet Hart went on to do well enough in Iowa (16.5%) to set the stage for a huge win in New Hampshire. The night is young.

2. Keith Kelly reports that New York media columnist Michael Wolff has "teamed up with Nora Ephron to do a remake" of the "1950s hit movie ... 'The Solid Gold Cadillac.'"

"I always thought it would be a great movie to be remade," said Ephron, who said Wolff demonstrated that he could write business dialogue both in his columns and his first book, "Burn Rate." [Emphasis added.]

Um, wasn't Burn Rate supposed to be a work of, like, non-fiction? ... Oh, I forgot! Wolff is a bullshi ....I mean, he believes "literalism" is the "refuge of the non-brilliant" and "smartness in a soft-news world involves a certain quality of plasticity"! ... P.S.: Jack Shafer  had his suspicions about the "wealth of verbatim quotations" in Burn Rate back when it was published. ...

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3. Why shouldn't CBS pay Michael Jackson for an interview? Does it change your assessment of Jackson's veracity one bit if he was paid $X million for his music special plus the interview or only $X-1 million? If Ed Bradley personally paid him a million cash upfront on the barrelhead right before asking the first question, it was worth every penny! .... In general, as long as any payments are disclosed, why not pay for interviews and let readers and viewers and listeners take that into account along with all the other biases--like the overwhelmingly more powerful need in Jackson's case to exculpate himself--that might affect a story's credibility? Why is it absolutely forbidden to pay a source for a scoop or juicy gossip in a newspaper or TV interview but perfectly OK to pay the same person millions for a book that sells solely on the basis of the very same scoop or juicy gossip? ... I've always suspected the hard "ethical" rule against checkbook journalism is actually an elaborate restraint of trade by news organizations that don't want to pay for information simply because ... well, paying for information costs money! And it would leave less for the book publishers to pay for. ... P.S.: This is the not-unusual case where the story about the journalists doing the reporting is more important than the story they are reporting. Did Sharon Waxman, the New York Time's big new Hollywood hire, get her first major story right or wrong? Now, that's an interesting question. What she got right or wrong is far less important. It's a McGuffin to set up the Waxman saga. ... P.P.S.: Judging from this lengthy New York Observer account, and the weaselly, Clintonian CBS denials contained therein, Waxman's work is holding up well. ... 12:51 A.M.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Call for a Moratorium: Cathy Seipp attacks the L.A. Times for quoting lefty journalism professor Robert Jensen. Didn't bother me--Jensen's argument was extreme and wrong (I think) but relevant. My own recommendation for the LAT regarding expert quotes: No More Marty Kaplan! ... The "director of the Norman Lear Center at USC's Annenberg School of Communication" isn't kooky--he's smart!--but he's a trained seal, specializing in telling reporters what they want to hear, whether it's bleeding obvious ("A careful politician knows how to count, and Eisner seems to have the supporters he needs on the board") or a Left Stretch (arguing that what the Times called "Schwarzenegger's string of political wins" might actually harm him because the "news has cast him as such a victor that many people may think the problems are now solved.") Kaplan has been quoted in the LAT 13 times in the past 6 months, according to NEXIS--which seems like a lot for a "journalism expert." It's more than usual press faves Lynda Obst (2) and Joe Roth (6) put together! And Roth made actual news (his studio produced Gigli!). ... 9:40 P.M.

According to The Note and  ABC reporter Ed O'Keefe, the Kerry campaign is spinnning that the Dean campaign is spinning that the Kerry campaign is doing well because the Dean campaign wants to sabotage the Kerry campaign by raising expectations which the Kerry campaign then will fail to meet. ... To which kf says, "Dream On!" Kerry wishes that the Deanies took him seriously enough to viciously say nice things about him!  In fact--objectively, as we Marxists say--it's in Dean's interest for Kerry to do relatively well in Iowa, fragmenting the anti-Dean opposition and increasing the chances that Dean will face at least two major opponents in New Hampshire (where Kerry has been nose-diving) instead of just General Clark. ... And because Dean wants Kerry to do unexpectedly well Dean's campaign would be badmouthing Kerry's campaign at this stage. ... It's so, like, obvious! ... Update:  Howard Fineman says  the Dean campaign was saying Kerry was doing well because they want him to do well! How cunning is that! ... 8:10 P.M.

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Kf Readers respond!

Mickey, Brooks is overstating his case (and to be sure, he's got a dog in this fight), but it is very definitely true that "neoconservative" is used by many as a racist, anti-semitic slur.  (Especially in Europe and the Middle East.) -- W.J.A.

True, but Brooks doesn't just attack European anti-Semites' use of "neoconservative." He attacks Gen. Wesley Clark's use of "neoconservative" by lumping him with the European bigots. That's what is sleazy about Brooks' column. Clark may be unhinged, paranoid and pandering with his talk of a "list of countries" (including "Syria and maybe Lebanon") that he thinks there is a neoconservative "inclination" to invade. Or he may be right. I don't know. But he's not anti-Semitic.


You ask why it isn't it legitimate to note that "many neo-cons (e.g. Paul
Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith) occupy important positions in the Administration."  The reason why is that AFAIK, Wolfowitz and Feith don't call themselves "neo-cons."  Other people call them neo-cons, presumably because they're Jewish. 
It's true that Irving Kristol called himself "neoconservative", but that's because he was new to conservatism.  Today, the term "neo-conservative" is generally used as a poorly defined slur and it's generally applied to politically conservative Jews.-- D.S. [Emphasis added]

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Hmm. Maybe D.S. is right. Irving Kristol abandoned the term years ago. Nobody uses "neoconservative" any more except bigots! In fact, I hold in my hand a particularly egregious recent example of this current usage.  The author of this screed doesn't acknowledge that "neoconservatives" are just conservatives who happen to be Jewish. He explicity rejects that idea, portraying "neoconservatism" as a distinct "persuasion" whose goal is nothing less than "to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills." (Wow!) He implicitly refutes Brooks by arguing that to achieve these goals, neoconservatives need not have a conventional "movement" in which members all know each other and attend meetings. He notes how the neocons have cunningly used their alliance with the more numerous "religious traditionalists"--e.g. Christian fundamentalists--to attain "a certain influence and even power" within the Republican party  He generalizes broadly, describing a set of "neoconservative attitudes" on foreign policy--including a willingness to use U.S. "military superiority" to promote "democracy"--that clearly encompasses both Wolfowitz and Feith. And he explicitly identifies as a core "thesis" of this "neoconservative" foreign policy the need "to defend Israel" without any "complicated geopolitical calculations of national interest."

This astonishing encyclopedia of libelous myths about "neoconservatives"--if I can repeat that poorly defined slur--was only published last August. Naturally, it's still floating around the Web. To read it in full, click here. 5:44 P.M.

Update: Clark is now three points ahead of Kerry in New Hampshire, according to the much-watched ARG tracking poll. ... But Clark is making this progress by sounding increasingly demagogic. Does he really think we can turn Iraq over to the Iraqis "long before this July 1 date"? Isn't Hillary Clinton complaining that July 1 is already too rushed? If Clark is a Clinton stalking horse, they should get their stories straight. ... Meanwhile, irresponsible populist Howard Dean is saying things like

"We cannot keep telling people we're going to give them all the programs they want and then there's not going to be any sacrifice of any kind."

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11:00 A.M.

Syria's Assad wants to talk with Israel--he said so in a speech a month ago that was largely ignored here. Is it so smart for the U.S. to let this possible opportunity go unexplored? Maybe he's had a Qaddafi-like epiphany. ... 1:48 A.M.

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Now David Brooks is implying--mostly jokingly, I think, but I am not quite sure and don't think he is either--that the very term "neoconservative" is somehow anti-Semitic. (I'd thought the forbidden term was "Likudnik.") By the end of his column, Brooks merges this argument into the more sensible and obvious complaint that any "collective name" lets you rob your opponents of "their individual humanity" and makes it easier to demonize them--like, say, when you easily brand as "anti-Semitism" reasonable attempts to make generalizations about various schools of public policy. (Brooks also  played the "anti-Semitism" card back in February). ...

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Would Brooks really deny there is a loose-knit group of writers and thinkers who see themseles as "neoconservative"? Tell it to Irving Kristol! And why isn't it legitimate to a) note that many neocons (e.g. Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith) occupy important positions in the Administration; b) note that for many of these people Judaism and/or support for the state of Israel has a lot to do with their self-image and world view--and c) argue that their support for the Iraq war was wrong and, consciously or subconsciously, influenced by factor (b)? I don't necessarily agree with this argument but I don't see how it amounts to anti-Semitism. It's a pretty standard, non-crazy form of criticism (e.g., "Kaus, you like the Republicans too much because you're fixated on welfare reform"). ...

As Brooks notes, there are significant differences within the neocon camp, even among the neocons inside the administration (i.e., Wolfowitz is reportedly much, much less supportive of the current Israeli government's pro-settlement policies). But Brooks also notes--generalizing wildly!--that neoconservatives generally agreed on the need to remove Saddam.

Besides, if he wanted to follow the neocon line, Bush wouldn't know where to turn because while the neocons agree on Saddam, they disagree vituperatively on just about everything else. [Emphasis added.]

How exactly does it refute allegations of the neocons' influence that Bush has done the one thing Brooks says they all agree on? ...

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P.S.: See Joshua Micah Marshall's more extensive response.

P.P.S.: I don't think Brooks' column is a calculated--or, heaven forbid, coordinated!--attempt to squelch criticism of the neocons in the Bush administration. I think Brooks needed a quick column and this was a handy "evergreen" theme.

P.P.P.S.: The parallel between conservatives who cry "anti-Semitism" at legitimate criticism from the left (in part by lumping it together with real anti-Semitism) and liberals who cry "racism" at legitimate criticism from the right (in part by lumping it together with real racism) is itself almost too obvious to mention. But not quite! ... 10:58 P.M. link

Dean Confidential: An Arizona Republic reporter is mistakenly patched in to an in-house Dean campaign planning session and learns 1) the Dean campaign does too pay attention to surveys and polls; 2) "in a survey of voters Monday by telephone, people expressed concern that 'this guy (Dean) is indecisive;'" and 3) the candidate the Deanies seem concerned about in New Hampshire is ... Clark.... P.S.:  That makes sense, because as Josh Marshall points out, the long-awaited Clark-Kerry intersectionis now at hand in the ARG New Hampshire tracking poll. ... P.P.S.: Nagourney reports the Deanies belatedly trying to boost Kerry, as advised a month ago with eerie prescience in this space, by lowering his expectations for him. ... 1:04 P.M.

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Kerryphobic plea for help: What was the "gruesome" quote from Bill Bradley dissing John Kerry that Boston Globe reporter Glen Johnson dug up on the Web? It was described as such in The Note  of yesterday, which is, alas, not archived in The Note'scunning save-it-or-crave-it publishing scheme. Nor does Johnson's 1/5 article show up in a search of the Globe site, or even on NEXIS. Any assistance appreciated. ... Asked and answered: Johnson  referred to an  sf.politics.com interview in which Bradley praised Dean and reviewed what was then the rest of the Democratic field:

Joe Lieberman has gotten his campaign on track, finally, and is a serious candidate. Bob Graham is an outstanding public servant. Probably among those who are running, just from his experience, has the best experience to be President. He was governor of a big state for eight years and knows what executive power is, and he's been a very thoughtful senator now for twelve to eighteen years. So I think that he is talented.

John Kerry - well, let's go on. Then you have the other candidates, Sharpton, Braun, Kucinich ... [Emphasis added.]

Not gruesome, maybe, but reasonably brutal! [Thanks to Tom Bevan of RCP]... 12:36 P.M.

Beau talks? Sen. John Kerry has looked spectacularly better in his most recent appearances. It can't just be the new haircut. Suggestions or suspicions welcomed. ... 12:55 A.M

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Monday, January 5, 2004

51-46, That's His Number: Isn't it almost shocking, after all the good news for Bush (Saddam, Libya, promising jobs outlook) and Dean's ridiculous Saddam's-capture-doesn't-make-us-safer statement, that Bush only defeats Dean in the Time/CNN poll by 51-46? Is the press burying the lede (Bush's beatability) on this story because they don't quite believe it? ... Update: TNR says the poll shows "the country is more polarized than it's been in a long, long time," a common diagnosis. (In the Dukakis-Bush 1988 race, to which many are comparing this year's election, the polls were significantly more volatile, if I remember.) But really the CNN poll only confirms polarization on one side--i.e. that Dean's support can't be dramatically dented even by bad news. We don't know, really, if Bush's support is similarly resilient should he hit a bad patch. And you can't fall too far below 51% and still win. ... Update: Many readers have noted that other polls show a wider Bush lead. But they are also older polls. One possible distinguishing feature of the Time/CNN poll, though, is that it attempted to count only "likely" voters, which can't be very easy to do accurately this far in advance of the actual election. (At this stage, polls more commonly attempt to survey all "registered voters" without trying to filter out those who aren't "likely" to vote.) .... John Ellis says look at the state-by-state polls. ...  2:35 A.M.

Saturday, January 3, 2004

Lehane begins to work his magic for Clark! In November, Wesley Clark aide Matt Bennett touted an expected fourth-quarter Clark fundraising total of $12 million. ABC News  reported:

As for skeptics, Bennett says, "They're welcome to be skeptical. But the fact is, we wouldn't put this out there if it wasn't true."

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In December, Clark communications strategist Chris Lehane actually seemed to up the ante a bit in the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette:

Lehane said the campaign will raise $12 million to $13 million in the fund-raising quarter ending Dec. 31.

In the event, Clark's fourth-quarter fundraising total was $10 million--an impressive showing which, thanks to the characteristic counterproductive overspinning of Lehane & Co., now seems like a disappointment. You can't pay enough for that kind of sophisticated communications strategizing! Ask Al Gore. ...

Thanks to Polipundit, who is all over this story. ...

P.S.: Note that Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, unlike Lehane, tamped down expectations by giving the Post-Gazette a number of $10 million for the quarter. If Dean had raised $10.5 million, Trippi could have declared victory. It turned out he raised $15 million. 4:46 P.M.

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Links

Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]