Has the GOP found its 2006 issue?

Has the GOP found its 2006 issue?

Has the GOP found its 2006 issue?

A mostly political Weblog.
March 28 2006 1:41 PM

Has the GOP Found Its 2006 Issue?

Hiding in plain sight.

Heads Up: California voter registration scandal bubbling up.  Kf hears through the blogvine that some 20% of new registrants in L.A. County aren't making it onto the rolls due to bureaucratic and computer snafus. The numbers aren't large (low five figures) but somebody will sue. ... And the name "Diebold" was mentioned. ... 10:37 A.M.

No Contest: Much is being made, in the press, the blogs, and the email I'm getting, of the split in the Republican party on immigration: there are pro-crackdown conservatives on the one hand, and rich Republican business backers who need immigrant labor on the other. I'm not sure this internal struggle is such a close thing, though, at least this year. Republicans facing the loss of Congress need to mobilize their base, not their lobbyists. They need voters, not money. That points in only one direction, no? Sometime before November, that should become obvious. ... 4:27 P.M.

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Reminder: Never serve John Kerry tomato-based products. 10:42 A.M.

Have the GOPs Found Their 2006 Issue? Republicans are deemed to be in deep trouble in the Congressional midterms--and searching desperately, without obvious success, for a hot-button issue (gay marriage? flag-burning?) that could mobilize conservative "base" voters.  But is it possible they've now found one hiding in plain sight--a tough anti-illegal immigration bill?

Immigration has several characteristics that suggest it's a good locomotive for GOP victory in November: 1) Voters say it's an important issue; 2) A majority wants some sort of border-control action; 3) The GOP base feels intensely about it; 4) Many Congressional Democrats are--by ideology or interest group pressure--locked in to a pro-immigrant, non-tough stance (or if they strike a tough pose it seems just that). In all these respects, immigration resembles welfare reform, a key hot-button base-mobilizing issue for Republicans in the 1994 midterms. ...

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So why isn't this the CW** already? Short-term and long-term objections. Short term:  President Bush favors a relatively generous approach, proposing a "guest worker" program that would be available to illegals already here. Since Bush is his party's leader, isn't his position the GOP position? Long term: Republicans worry that if they angrily crack down on border enforcement--without adding provisions for guest workers or legalization of existing illegals, they'll lose the growing Latino vote for a generation (as California Republicans are said to have lost the state's Latino vote after Gov. Pete Wilson's anti-illegal Prop. 187 in 1994).  But there are answers to each objection.

Short term: These are the mid-term elections, remember--not the presidential. Are Republican Congressional candidates really incapable of getting out a message to their base that they are tough on illegals, even if Bush is not? One effective way to do that would be to, er, actually pass a tough enforcement-only bill!

Long term: As for losing the Latino vote, there may be method in the current mad GOP disarray. The method is to let the President set the general, generous tone of the party, while local GOP officeholders run as get-tough individuals. Precisely because Bush, not Congress, leads the party, what he says should have the greater impact on its long-term profile. By praising the illegal immigrant work ethic while taking a compromising, high-minded policy line he might at least avoid permanently alienating Latinos. Meanwhile, GOP House candidates wage local campaigns in which they identify with prevailing anti-illegal sentiment--getting themselves reelected while doing a minimum of damage to the party's national image.

What about those swing districts in which individual House and Senate candidates need to appeal to Latinos? Answer: in those few districts, individual Republicans can tailor their stands accordingly. That's the genius of de-nationalizing the election at the same time as you put the immigration issue on the front burner.

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Could individual Republican candidates have run as anti-welfare in 1970, even though a GOP President, Richard Nixon, had proposed a startlingly liberal guaranteed income plan? They could--that was Ronald Reagan's position, for example--and I suspect many did. The same with immigration.

P.S.: According to Chris Matthews, his show's poll of pundits declared, by a lopsided 10-2 margin, that the immigration issue would cost the GOP "key Western states." But are Republicans really going to lose Arizona and New Mexico, say, because they pass a border-security-only bill?  New Mexico Gov. Richardson certainly seems to be a popular governor in part because he's made dramatic noises about border control.

When President Bush signs that border-security-only bill, he can always give a speech--like the one Clinton gave when he signed welfare reform--in which he expresses his reservations and vows to pass the guest worker and "earned legalization" provisions in the next Congress. 

It's also hard to believe that the enforcement-only bill--like welfare reform--won't in the end get a lot of Democratic votes, further diluting the "Latino blowback" against the GOP.

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Am I missing something?

** CW= conventional wisdom 11:40 P.M. link

The Plano Con, Coda: Remember Plano, Texas, the Mid-American city where Brokeback Mountain'sticket sales so impressed Frank Rich and others with the film's hard-core red-state appeal? When Wal-Mart decided to open a new experimental "upscale" store, featuring a sushi bar, an espresso bar, $500 bottles of wine--but no guns--guess where they decided to do it? ... Reports A.P.: "[I]f plasma TVs, microbrewery beer and fancy balsamic vinegar sell in Plano, those items could be added to stores in other affluent communities." ... Plano is in fact an affluent Dallas suburb. ... [Thanks to reader G.B.10:20 P.M.

Put Out More Flags-- L.A. Times True to Form: That propagandistic LAT story on Saturday's big demonstration, the one that mentioned the presence of Mexican flags only in the tenth paragraph, has now been amended and updated--to eliminate any reference to Mexican flags at all! The story now also contains the following:

In contrast to demonstrations 12 years ago against Proposition 187, Saturday's rally featured more American flags than those from any other country.

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From what I saw, this statement is false. There were about as many Mexican as American flags (as reported below).  Here's what to me seems a representative LAT photo of the crowd--judge for yourself.** Maybe it depends what part of the demo you were at and at what time. But at the very least "more American flags" is a highly deceptive assertion.  (If U.S. flags predominated, it would be only by a slim, 51-49-type margin.) It's hard to believe Dean Baquet thinks this is good journalism. ... [Thanks to alert reader V.] 

** Update: Reader J.G. notes a banner or placard in the upper-right hand corner reading "THIS IS STOLEN LAND"--another sentiment you won't read much about in the LAT (and another reason Mexican flags aren't the same as Italian flags). ... 8:10 P.M. link

Rally Report--Gran Marcha, Gran Backlash! Reader L.N. suggested I had exaggerated the number of Mexican flags at various immigrant protest rallies--maybe demo organizers had wised up to the lesson that flaunting allegiance to a neighboring country was not a good way to make most Americans want to let in more people who share your attachment!** So I went down to today's Gran Marcha against "anti-immigration legislation" in downtown L.A.:

Crowd size: Big! Bigger than a couple of football games--I'd say 200,000 plus. ***

Demeanor: Pleasant!

Makeup: 99 percent Latino (an oversimplification--I saw one T-shirt saying "I'm Mexican, not Latino")

Most telling placard slogan: "Somos illegales, no criminales!"

Flags: Evenly split between Mexican and U.S.,with El Salvadoran running a very distant (1%) third. And there were lots of flags. If you said "Mexican flag" every time you saw a Mexican flag, you never stopped talking.

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** Q: Why are Mexican flags troubling in a way Italian flags wouldn't be troubling at, say, a Columbus Day rally? Simplest A: Italy's not right next door! ... For more on this issue, see this discussion with Jim Pinkerton. Pinkerton says flatly, "There will be a wall." He's for it. ...

*** Of course the very size of these rallies, when coupled with the pro-illegal immigrant sentiments and the Mexican flags, might hurt the cause of the ralliers. It seems likely to make many non-PC voters think, "Jeez, next year's rally will be even bigger. We'd better build that wall quick!" ...

Update: The Los Angeles Times, in a break with its recent trend toward improvement, fronts an embarrassing  100% PC rally story that mentions the U.S. flags (which marchers were told to bring) in paragraph one and the equally numerous Mexican flags (which marchers apparently decided to bring on their own) in paragraph #10.  I used to write this sort of press-releasey "news" account when my college paper assigned me to "cover" anti-war demonstrations that I'd helped organize! (Typical Kaus lede: "Thousands of marching feet filled Post Office Square to protest ..." etc.) The Times' effort is filled with representative quotes from participants, without a note of dissent. Bill Bradley, in New West Notes, jumps on this especially romantic LAT sentence, which was so prized it got its own graf:

The marchers included both longtime residents and the newly arrived, bound by a desire for a better life and a love for this county.

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But even the LAT doesn't pretend these were legal immigrants:

Many of the marchers were immigrants themselves — both legal and illegal -- from Mexico and Central America. Some had just crossed the border ...

Bradley also digs out a good quote from current California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a rally leader who remembers the last big anti-anti-illegal march, which provoked a memorable backlash:

""I know I come from an advocacy background," says Nuñez. "But I learned a lot about negotiation with Miguel (Contreras, the late Los Angeles labor chieftain) and the labor movement. It wasn't all protest. You know when we had the big march in L.A. against [the anti-illegal immigrant] Proposition 187 in '94, Miguel tried to talk me out of it. 'Are you guys crazy?' he said. But I wanted to march. [Emph. added.]

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Bradley asks, pointedly, "Was this rally necessary to defeat a bill that George W. Bush does not support?" But yes, there's certainly a good chance that a bill George W. Bush does not support will pass--and this rally will help it pass. ... More: For a contrary view, see Marc Cooper's post.  ... 4:37 P.M. link

Hollywood veteran Rob Long, after watching Lazy Muncie on YouTube, validates Glenn Reynolds' thesis--that technology is empowering ordinary people to beat large organizations, including Big Media--as it applies to the comedy industry:

So what does it say if you're Lorne Michaels -- the guy who runs Saturday Night Live -- or, for that matter, the head of comedy development for pretty much any network -- and it turns out there are two funny guys in Muncie who don't really need you to give them permission to make a funny little movie because You Tube is their network and You Tube doesn't have a vice president of comedy development to say, "Yeah, yeah, um, I just don't see where this goes. Can it be about people in their 30's juggling relationships and their careers?" And if there are two guys in Muncie, how many are there in Fort Wayne? Or South Bend? Or Indianapolis? And we haven't even left Indiana yet.

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Update: But see ... 12:12 P.M. link

They   sneered whenkausfiles wrote about gang activity in affluent Santa Monica, California. The police said everything was fine, after all! The L.A. Times had asked them! But now (after a high school kid was murdered) the Times is on the case. I guess that means it's real!

[School board member Oscar] De la Torre also contends that the city is reluctant to acknowledge the seriousness of its gang issues.

"I think a lot of people want to deny that Santa Monica has a gang problem," he said. "Admitting a gang problem is bad for tourism."

Police Chief James T. Butts Jr. maintains that Santa Monica's gang problems are not as severe as De la Torre and others believe. Butts said the most serious problems result when gang members from neighboring Los Angeles areas cross into Santa Monica. ...[snip] "The biggest problem we have is violence imported from Venice 13, Shoreline Crips, Sotel or Culver City Boyz in Mar Vista," Butts said, rattling off the names of prominent or once-prominent Westside gangs. "Our people get in some type of altercation with them in L.A.…. They come here to exact retribution." [Emph. added]

Hey, no problem then! 11:29 A.M.

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Instapundit and I were on Hugh Hewitt's radio show Thursday, talking about what makes ABC producers sick. I tried not to agree with everything Hugh said. ... 1:32 A.M.

Frist Do No Harm, Part XVIII: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been getting a lot of grief (from liberal editorial writers, Hillary ClintonHarry Reid  and Bush/McCain Republicans  alike) for forcing a vote on what David Brooks calls "a draconian enforcement-only immigration bill."** The implication is that Frist is simply playing crass presidential politics--moving hard right in anticipation of seeking the GOP nomination in 2008. At best he realizes that the public needs a bit of get-tough anti-immigrant medicine before it will swallow a guest worker program. But doesn't it make, not just short term political sense, but also intellectual sense to find out whether, and to what extent, laws trying to establish limits on immigration can be enforced before we change the law in ways that are bound to put new pressure on enforcement?

If it turns out that, as Heather Mac Donald has suggested, we can effectively prevent employers from hiring unauthorized foreigners, then we could bring in lots of legal guest workers (and let them become citizens) without worrying that they'd only be added on top of the existing flood of illegal workers. If the border were impervious--nobody could come in illegally--then it wouldn't matter if amnesty for existing illegals encouraged current residents of Mexico and El Salvador to come north without permission in hope of obtaining the next amnesty. They couldn't get in! Heck, if the border were really 100% protectable, employers could offer a million dollar cash reward to illegal immigrants and it would have no effect, because nobody would be able to get in to claim it.

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But if the border can't be 100% sealed, the policy picture changes. Suppose enforcement proves extremely difficult, and large-scale evasion inevitable. Then we have to worry that a "path to citizenship" for existing illegals will also encourage other hundreds of thousands of other not-yet-existing, would-be illegals to find the inevitable holes in any post-amnesty enforcement regime (in the not-unreasonable hope that their presence in the U.S. will position them for another amnesty down the road). If border security can't be tightened, even with computerized Social Security checks and other strict employment safeguards, we'd probably start to suspect that the idea behind a guest worker program--that the only immigrants hired will be the regularized guest workers--is something of a fraud. Instead there will be lots of regularized legal guest workers plus all the unregularized, illegal non-guest workers.

I actually don't know if Mac Donald is right about enforcement.*** But offering any kind of semi-amnesty or guest worker program before we find out the answer is like piping water from the ocean into our basement without bothering to figure out if the pipes are strong enough to handle the flow without bursting.

Let's find out first.

**--Brooks offers a noble reason of principle for sneering at the bill: He says it "will lose [Republicans] Florida and the Southwest for a generation." Under this moral standard, liberal Democrats would have opposed civil rights in the 1960s.

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***--Mac Donald is no pro-immigration activist, though if she's right it would increase the feasibility of Bush/McCain/Kennedy-style amnesty plans.

P.S.: Two bits of good news for opponents of Bush's guest worker/semi-amnesty immigration plan. 1) The New York Times has assigned Nina Bernstein to the beat. In my experience, Bernstein's the most tendentious and biased reporter on the paper--that would be the famed liberal bias--and she's almost certain to weave a cocoon that will help restrict Times readers to utter marginal irrelevance as debate proceeds.  2) According to Bernstein's March 23 comes-at-a-time paragraph, Hillary Clinton denounced Frist's bill as "tens of thousands of immigrants around the country stepped up a series of protest rallies." Protest rallies by immigrants--usually accompanied by a proud, colorful display of Mexican flags--are a proven method of hardening anti-immigrant sentiment. They're what helped put California's Prop. 187 over the top. With enough immigrant protest rallies, Rep. Tancredo will be able to pass his dream bill. ... 11:49 P.M. link

It seems to me that there are two ways to interpret this Pew poll showing opposition to gay marriage declining. 1) One interpretation is that the public is warming to the idea of gay marriage (which would be fine by me). 2) The other is that opposition to gay marriage, at 51%, is now about where it was in 2003, when 53% opposed. What it's declined from, according to Pew, is the intervening high "anti" number of

63% in February 2004, when opposition spiked following the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision and remained high throughout the 2004 election season.

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In other words, Americans may or may not like gay marriage, but they really hate having gay marriage crammed down their throat by self-righteous, unelected liberal judges! What the poll shows is that the gay marriage cause is only now finally recovering from the damage done to it by Anthony Lewis' wife. ... P.S: How did Sullivan miss the Pew story? ... 9:01 P.M.

Fat New Mercedes: Not phat! [via the suspiciously Lexus-friendly AutoSpies]8:15 P.M.

Scientologist Isaac Hayes may not be that mad at South Park after all. ... The news comes just in time--otherwise they might already have killed off his character. ... Oh, wait.   [via Sullivan7:27 P.M.

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Bill Bradley claims to have solved the mystery of why Gov. Schwarzenegger refuses to replace Democratic actor/activist (and former potential rival candidate for governor) Rob Reiner as head of a tax-financed, slush-fundish pre-school commission: "Top associates of Schwarzenegger's have been intimately involved with the Reiner operation for years." I'm not sure the "associates" are "top" or "involved" enough, but you make the call. ... It's all for the kids, so what could really be wrong, anyway? 10:21 A.M.

Rocket Boom: Jim Pinkerton wants to go to Mars with Glenn Reynolds. Who knew? 3:27 A.M.

Instapundit frightens me! I second the positive things Jim Geraghty says in his NRO review of Glenn Reynolds' Army of Davids. One of the worries about blogs--one of my worries, anyway--was that their efficient style wouldn't work in longer writing. Not true, it turns out. Instapundit's book reads fast, because as a good blogger he's clear and doesn't waste your time.  It's just one big idea after another, like a Hollywood thriller that piles on the plot rather than stopping to tie up the loose ends. Just when you're tired of hearing the thesis that the Internet empowers individuals (Davids) at the expense of big bureaucratic organizations (Goliaths), Reynolds is on to nanotechnology, and space travel, and engineered semi-immortality, and "the Singularity,"** the point at which change happens so fast that life as we know it is transformed. He's fearless--another bloggerly virtue.

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Michael Malone thinks Reynolds should have stopped with the Internet and not included the nanotech, life extension and Singularity chapters. I'm not so sure. For one thing, it's good to get the entire Instapunditweltanschauung in one place. I was never certain what "a pack not a herd" meant; now I know. (It means defending against terrorism with self-organizing networks of empowered individuals rather than government bureaucracies ordering people around).

For another, if you're a technological determinist like Reynolds and you're honest, you've got to go where the technology determines--even if, in the first half of the book it seems to be devolving power from large organizations to individuals, but in the unexpectedly action-packed space chapter it leads to powerful nations hurling giant metal ships into space using nuclear bombs.

There are also thematic connections to the futurist bigthink, some of them underemphasized by Reynolds himself. Why bring in "nanotechnology"--which doesn't simply provide an efficient means of production but threatens to eliminate the economy's underlying problem of scarcity, rendering production itself obsolete (bad news for Chinese factories)? Well, many of our current Goliath-like organizations would seem to have little place when our material needs can be satisfied by a molecular assembly station the size of a refrigerator. And this technology also promises a world in which individuals are freed to do what they want to do--make music, hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, criticize after dinner--rather than what they have to do to survive in a labor market. I predict lots of bad novels.

What does the "Comfy Chair Revolution"--the growth of privately run spaces where individuals can set and work with their laptops- have to do with tech-empowered bloggers and musicians? Well, one of the complaints against an economy made up of self-employed, self-contained hustlers--all connecting with their nomadic, monadic, personal technologies--is that any sense of community is lost. Not so, says Reynolds--there's more community at Starbucks than there is in a standard row of corporate cubicles. He even suggests that video games can make up for a loss of community values. As that last example suggests, Reynolds is provocatively optimistic but not necessarily convincing.

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I'm especially not persuaded, for example, that when technology puts greater and greater destructive power into the hands of smaller and smaller numbers of individuals it won't ultimately lead to some sort of doom. Imagine a rowboat with ten people, of varying religious beliefs, all of whom have their fingers on the trigger of a personal nuclear device. They try to get along and run a little society. How many times will this scenario result in a big explosion? More often than not, I suspect. Reynolds' breezy description of the ways more virtuous and numerous individuals can be empowered to track terrorists down doesn't convince me that the rowboat isn't where we're headed.

More to the point, Reynolds doesn't convince himself either. It's not a confidence-builder when, on page 206, he endorses space colonization as a way for humanity to survive in case we destroy life on the planet we're currently on. 

[O]ver the long term, by which I mean the next century, not the next millennium, disaster may hold the edge over prevention: a nasty biological agent only has to get out once to devastate humanity, no matter how many times other such agents were contained previously.

Nor is biological warfare the only thing we have to fear. Nuclear weapons are spreading ... [snip]

In the short term, prevention and defense strategies make sense. But such strategies take you only so far. As Robert Heinlein once said, Earth is too fragile a basket to hold all of our eggs. We need to diversify, to create more baskets.  Colonies on the moon, on Mars, in orbit, perhaps on asteroids and beyond ...

Likewise, I'd be more delighted that mobile computing technology has provided me a friendly, semi-communal, "third place" if it hadn't already taken away my second place (i.e. formal place of work). Compared with an actual office filled with like-minded souls, my colorful local coffee house is a decidedly more democratic but less productive (and less enjoyable) environment.

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I could go on, and I plan to do so in future posts. Like all good big-think trend books, Davids has kept resonating.

**-- See Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near. ... 6:24 P.M. link

Kf is Stupid, Part XIX: I don't quite understand what the health care system will look like after Kinsley's proposed "smaller" reform. Is there no more Medicare? Are people required to buy catastrophic health insurance? What is "the system" in which there will be "rationing-type restrictions"? ... I do want to know. Unpack, please! ... 3:49 P.M.

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Kf is Stupid, Part XVIII: Paul Krugman argues  domestic spending hasn't really gotten out of control under Bush  [$]. But if so, then maybe Andrew Sullivan and others who supported Bush's deceptive rhetoric (about deficits and "compassionate conservatism") on the grounds that he had to "obfuscate his real goals of reducing spending" had at least a small point, no? ... I've been assuming that the effort to restrain spending by cutting the government's tax revenues-- which I initially bought into--had failed. But Krugman (and Orin Judd) suggest it might have been at least partly successful. It's impossible to prove, but with more revenues to play with maybe spending increases would have been even greater. ... And of course the less domestic spending increases today, the more room Dems have to increase it tomorrow, should they ever regain power. ... [Judd link via Insta] 2:06 P.M.

Fred Barnes channels Dick Morris: They sneered a month ago when Peggy Noonan suggested that Bush "hit refresh and anoint a successor  by having Cheney resign. Now someone from the very belly of Twenty-first Century Bushism, Fred Barnes, has proposed the same thing (and much, much more, including the replacement of most cabinet secretaries by men named Hubbard). ... Barnes' WSJ piece is bizarrely convincing, but 1) What about McCain? If Bush anoints Rice, does the front-runner just stand aside quietly? Doesn't he run against her (and maybe beat her)--or shift to a powerful third-party candidacy? 2) To what end? If Barnes had said his proposed shakeup was designed to win the midterms and preserve Bush's Iraq policy, it would be more appealing than suggesting it's a scheme to let Bush be "empowered to return to old initiatives such as Social Security reform and his faith-based initiative." The Bush Social Security plan is still a loser, and his faith-based initiative is still relatively trivial. ... 12:58 P.M.

Why is Novak's column--suggesting a Gore run for President--news when the man himself told us this back in December?  7:52 P.M.

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Demron: Fannie Mae has found "additional errors" in the government-ordered review of its Franklin Raines-era accounting, according to Business Week, and will miss the regular deadline for filing its financial report. ... [via newsalert] 5:36 P.M.

I hadn't been following the "Roe for Men" issue--the question of whether to allow men to opt-out of their paternal obligations in, say, the first trimester of a pregnancy they'd helped produce. If you need to catch up on this cable-ready issue as well, you can start with last year's Meghan Daum  column, then move on to Cathy Young and most recently  Anderson Cooper and his many commenters. ... 1) My first reaction is that the plan would be a disaster for the underclass, with ne'er-do-well men abandoning paternity by the tens of thousands. But, then, the existing paternal obligation doesn't succeed in extracting much from unwilling, impoverished fathers, does it? A more voluntary regime would at least strip away the illusion and put women on notice. ...  2) My second reaction is that the idea founders on the issue of which men you want to let opt out. Do you want to explicitly let men double-cross women, claiming they want to be fathers until they bail on their obligations in the first trimester? If not, then how are the men going to prove that they weren't double-crossers--e.g. that they never wanted to have children (and that they made it clear to their partner they never wanted to have children)? You could allow them to introduce evidence of pre-pregnancy conversations, which would risk turning every paternity suit into an elaborate what-he said-what-she said trial. Or you could require that before conception the man sign some sort of affidavit clearly declaring his non-intention to be a father, and disclose it, which would certainly warn potential partners. It might also severely limit the scope of the rule. And if it didn't, that would probably be because men conned or cajoled women into ignoring it--a sign, perhaps, that the law shouldn't add to their bargaining options. ...

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P.S.: The evidentiary burden would be even greater if, as at least one mens' rights advocate suggests, the "opt out" would be limited to instances in which "neither partner had desired a child." [Emph. added] ... And if that's the standard, would the issue be simply whether the man reasonably thought the woman didn't want a child, or whether the woman really didn't want a child? Short of pre-sex affidavits all around, it looks like a mess. ... 2:36 A.M.

Is there a Clinton-Pellicano connection? Thomas Lipscomb goes over the basis for asking that question. ... On the other hand, Pellicano's not in Isikoff's index. ... 6:03 P.M.

NYT Correction Obfuscation of the Week: The Film Did It! Do you believe that former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was pictured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine wearing a maroon jacket, pink shirt and red tie, as if he were the leader of the high school glee club--when in fact he was wearing a charcoal jacket, blue shirt and blue tie-- because "the film that was used can cause colors to shift, and the processing altered them further" and "the change escaped notice"? I don't. Obviously the NYT Mag  editors wanted to achieve a shocking effect. ... [Emph. added--I mean, the font changed and it escaped notice.] ... P.S.: [The correction raises more questions than it answers!-ed Like what brand of film was it? Shouldn't the Times warn consumers about the defective, color-shifting product, perhaps in the "Circuits" section? Did the paper, in a desperate cost-cutting move, purchase a truckload of expired film from a New Jersey man on Canal Street? This story's not over--no way! There's so much more to report.] ... P.P.S.: The correction may not technically be the bald-faced lie it initially appears to be. Note especially the brilliant phrase, "the processing altered them further." Who did the 'processing"? (The photographer in question seems to say it wasn't him.)  Isn't that like a newspaper saying that the facts changed in transcription and "the writing altered them further." Well, OK then! ... More discussion here. ...

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Update: The photographer used "an infrared chrome film, originally designed for 70-millimeter movie cameras, that changes hues when processed in the darkroom," reports Gabriel Sherman of NYO. That makes the NYT's correction deceptive mainly in giving the impression there was no human agency involved. Maybe they didn't manipulate the image to make Warner look creepy. Instead they chose a self-photoshopping film that made Warner look creepy! Someone made that choice. You think the photographer didn't realize he was achieving this effect? Does the Times permit photographs that readers think are accurate representations of what candidates really look like but in fact aren't at all? ... And would they dare do that to Hillary? 12:02 P.M.

The first phase of the GOP campaign will feature the fall from the top of McCain and, if he runs, Giuliani. The next phase will be characterized by doubts as to whether any of the remaining candidates are up to the task.

O.K. That should take, what, a week? What happens in April? 12:45 A.M.

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Contrarian David Ignatius writes an Iraq column that's ... upbeat. ... I wish I didn't get queasy when I hit the Chalabi paragraph, though.  ... 12:38 A.M.

Mickey's Assignment Desk: Got Tamiflu? The obvious, great front-page story that I'm amazed nobody's done yet: the hoarding of Tamiflu by celebrities and bigshots. You know it's happening! It will quickly become the new currency of connectedness, if it isn't already. The rich have compliant doctors, informal networks, etc. ... Policy implications: Less of the scarce, life-saving medicine for the little shots. Possibility that overuse will allow the bird flu virus to become resistant to the drug. ... This might even be a good Democratic issue, even though many of those doing the hoarding (at least around here) are probably Democrats. ... Where's  Pear? ... Update: Pharmablogger Derek Lowe is skeptical about Tamiflu's effectiveness  against the bird flu. (See also here). ... 10:42 P.M.

Howie Kurtz (remember him?) makes a good and fairly subtle point about those 'new-low'-for-Bush polls:

Can I just grumble a little about this USA Today /CNN poll?

"President Bush's 'approval rating' has sunk to a new low according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll released Monday.

"The latest results show only 36% of those polled saying they 'approve' of the way Bush is handling his job. Bush's previous low was 37%, set last November.

"Sixty percent of those polled said they 'disapprove' of Bush's performance. That matches an all-time worst rating hit last November and again two weeks ago."

Bush is at a new low compared to USA's last poll. CBS has Bush at a new low compared to the last CBS poll. Etc., etc. All true, but they give the collective impression that Bush is sinking week to week.[**] Why do they only compar[e] figures to their own past surveys, when they're fully aware of the others? [Emph. added]

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**--as each separate organization in turn comes out with its "new low" poll. 

The drumbeat of separate, self-referencing "new low" polls may become a factor driving poll numbers even further down. ... P.S.: If these outfits polled every week, maybe this wouldn't be a distorting factor. Any turnaround would be quickly picked up and acknowledged. But they don't. USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup is actually one of the more frequent--it seems to come out every two weeks or so. At other polls (i.e. AP, and ABC/WaPo) the announcement of a "new low" could skip over a polling gap of a month. ... Update: As I'd hoped, Mystery Pollster has posted a serious analysis of Kurtz's point, complete with colored graph that illustrates the potential bias from blind self-referencing. He also demolishes a bogus Richard Morin counterargument. ...  7:14 P.M.

Annie Proulx is just happy to have created a work of art. ... 11:33 A.M.

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Paragraph of the day: Cathy Seipp's fabulously nasty lede about Nikki Finke. ... 11:36 P.M.

There's a big story in here somewhere! If you didn't quite understand the point of David Sanger's muddled front-page account of a "new direction" for President Bush, you are not alone. Sanger writes:

For the State of the Union address, Mr. Bush instructed his speechwriters to make global engagement a major theme, a big change for a man who ran in 2000 under the banner of a "humble foreign policy." [Emph. added]

Huh? How is a "humble foreign policy" in any way incompatible with "global engagement"? Don't the tweedy foreign policy types who call for "humility" also call for "global engagement"? The difference between the two phrases certainly doesn't seem like a "big change." Then there's Sanger's lead:

WASHINGTON, March 12 — The president who made pre-emption and going it alone the watchwords of his first term is quietly turning in a new direction, warning at every opportunity of the dangers of turning the nation inward and isolationist, and making the case for international engagement on issues from national security to global economics.

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But "pre-emption" and "going it alone" are hardly "isolationist" impulses. They're unilateral non-isolationist impulses, no? So the old direction is non-isolationist. The "new" direction is non-isolationist. What's the big change? ... P.S.: A real shift would be something like "Bush was a unilateral non-isolationist, now he's a multilateral non-isolationist." But as my diavlogging colleague Bob Wright notes, the unilateral/multilateral shift is old news and wouldn't get Sanger on the front page. He needed to confect a new "new direction." ... Update: Yglesias suggests the public-opinion trend Bush is fighting isn't "isolationism" either--it's specific opposition to the Iraq invasion and to poorly-negotiated trade agreements. ... 10:19 P.M link

Suppose  you wanted to destroy the effectiveness of Dr. Wafa Sultan, the non-trivially courageous Arab-American psychiatrist who went on Al Jazeera and "bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad." What would you do? You would arrange for the American Jewish Congress to "invit[e] her to speak in May at a conference in Israel."  What better way to get her dismissed as a tool of the Zionists by the Arab audience she's trying to reach? ... Is the AJC really that dumb? Or does the institutional impulse--to get in on her act--trump a serious interest in letting her views have an impact? ... 8:11 P.M. link

Attention Must Be Paid, Briefly: Could an Iraqi civil war really "cost the United States its army"?  ... Not just cost us significant casualties, mind you--but effectively cost us the entire army:

It is strange to contemplate the possibility that the greatest army in world history could be slaughtered in a Middle East conflagration.

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Or is Gary Hart hyperventilating in a way that reminds you why you were relieved he blew his chance at being President in 1988? [He compares our situation to Napoleon's retreat from Russia--ed Those who don't ignore history are condemned to think it will be repeated, although the two situations actually seem quite dissimilar (i.e. we aren't going to retreat on foot without formidable defenses). And wouldn't a united, nationalist anti-U.S. uprising be more dangerous for our troops than a civil war in which Iraqi sects are fighting each other?] 7:37 P.M. link

I didn't know Virginia Postrel had done that. What an admirable thing. ... [via Insta] 12:10 P.M.

Boss in cocoon: I'm with Yglesias  [v]-- this announcement is depressing. A Springsteen/Seeger album seems entirely pitched to a subset of the already-converted--no red-state audience there. And Seeger's a bit of a self-righteous twit, no? I bet half of Bosswell  Eric Alterman's readers hate him. ... P.S.: I still contend that with a bit of subtle courting--it would take more than a few lunches at the Manhattan Institute, but maybe not that much more--conservatives could have at least partially pried Springsteen from the liberal death grip of Dave Marsh, Jon Landau, et.al. ...  P.P.S.: Yglesias is actually making a broader point--that, given the successful GOP attacks on Dem elitism, well-known figures from the arts and entertainment world are "terrible spokespeople" for Democratic causes. It's nice that they give money--but as Yglesias points out you don't see rich Republican businessmen trying to become GOP spokesmen themselves and you don't see GOP politicians publicly celebrating their ties to rich businessmen. YetDemocratic music and movie stars are still under the illusion that they can "use their celebrity" wisely for the cause. At some point, someone is going to get them (even Clooney) the message: We want your money but we don't want you! Your celebrity doesn't help us. It hurts us. ... P.P.P.S.: Here's a good test case: Richard Dreyfuss, one of the smarter and more knowledgeable movie stars, recently gave a speech suggesting (not unsmartly) that President Bush should be impeached. Whether or not you think this is a good idea--I think it's a bad idea--did Dreyfuss' endorsement help or hurt the pro-impeachment cause? I'd say hurt. ... And if even a Dreyfuss hurts, an Alec Baldwin or Barbra Streisand can't help! ... [So it's a good thing for Dems that Springsteen isn't trying to reach the unconverted. He'd only hurt--ed I guess I'd draw a distinction between just giving speeches and endorsing--almost always counterproductive these days--and actually producing a work that in itself helps change minds. Name one--ed Steve Earle, "Ellis Unit One."] ... 11:49 A.M. link

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You've Not Seen Nothing Like the Mighty Kos: Jason Zengerle's slam of the Daily Kos  (which backed the losing challenger in a Texas Dem primary) may have been unfair. But this part rang true:

[M]ore often than not, these liberal bloggers (especially Kos) act like they already have taken over the world--writing manifestoes, issuing threats, and engaging in all sorts of chest-thumping behavior. But, like I said, their batting average is still a big fat zero.

P.S.: OK, give Kos the manifestoes. That's what outsiders do. But not the thuggishness. ...[via RCP] 12:50 A.M.

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Post-post-post-scarcity politics: Six ideas I took away from Garance Franke-Ruta's somewhat dense and academic essay on Dems and cultural "values" in The American Prospect: ... 1) Underneath, America's becoming like a videogame--"a more atomized, rage-filled outlook that values consumption, sexual permissiveness, and xenophobia." Yikes. ... 2) The half of the population that votes reacts against the growing anomie by embracing "moralistic politics." That's especially true of lower-income voters, who need moral order to survive in a more chaotic social environment. ... 3) In fact, "traditional values have become aspirational," complicating Tom Frankish efforts of Democrats to get less affluent voters to drop the Republican cultural nonsense and vote their pocketbooks. ... 4) Suddenly it's 1960 again, and Democrats like Franke-Ruta are worrying how to deal with "relative affluence" and "relative isolation" in a "post-scarcity society." ... 5) The last time around, in the actual 60's, JFK's Democratic answer to affluent isolation was not so much to embrace traditionalist values as create new, patriotic values ("Ask not," etc.) Is this national service answer now a) a harder sell than ever, b) needed more than ever, or both? If not national service, is there another non-traditionalist Dem morally-ordering institution out there? My instinct is that in 2006 health care--the social effort to beat back death and disability--is a more potent basis for egalitarian community than Peace Corpsing. For one thing, it's solidly rooted in individual self-interest. ... 6)Webbische Dean-friendly "progressives" like Franke-Ruta aren't likely to be the paleoliberal threat to the Democratic party many centrists fear. Why? As Matt Bai has pointed out, they have little allegiance to old Dem interest groups--unions and civil rights groups, in particular. At bottom, they're desperate reformers open to new ideas. ... 5:12 P.M.

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Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  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. Keller's 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--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's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. 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. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column ... [More tk]