9/11 Audiotapes Released
All personally identifying information and the voices of the callers have been redacted, but the NYC Law Department has released about 2.5 hours of 911 calls made on September 11.
The release of the tapes follows a three-year lawsuit involving a group of nine families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The families fought for the release of the tapes, arguing that they are an integral part of piecing together what happened on the day of the attacks.
Meanwhile, relatives of 27 victims and one survivor received unedited versions of the tapes earlier this week.
The Hanley family from Manhattan released the full recording of the call made by their son Christopher. He was on the 106th floor of the North Tower when he called 911 at 8:50 a.m., four minutes after the first plane hit the tower he was in.
The audio [.rm] and transcripts [.pdf] of these 911 calls are available via the links below.
The typical call (judging only from the dispatchers' and operators' sides of the conversations) consisted of taking the caller's location and phone number, advising the caller to put clothing or a wet towel at the base of their office door to block smoke, to stay low to the ground, and to wait for firemen who were on the scene. Callers were inconsistently advised to break windows if the smoke was making it difficult to breathe (FDNY generally advised yes, EMS generally said no), but they were repeatedly cautioned against entering the hallways or using the stairwells, unless they felt they had no other choice. On a few occasions, the dispatchers seem to get flustered or short with the callers or operators (e.g. "We're there already, lady. Hang the phone up."), but all in all, they kept amazingly steady.
Quite bluntly, the FDNY Dispatchers appear to have managed better at remaining calm, professional, and focused than the EMS Call Receiving Operators (though the CROs were somewhat better at remaining courteous). But when you get a feel for just how many panicked, desperate calls were flooding in, and the enormous pressure these people must have been under, it's pretty amazing they were able to keep it together at all.
Some chilling excerpts:
OPERATOR: It's full of smoke, and he said the floor has fell out of the building where he is.
DISPATCHER: Underneath him? The floor?
OPERATOR: Underneath him, yes.
DISPATCHER: What have you got, PD?
OPERATOR: The World Trade Center just blew up.
DISPATCHER: And it's a car on fire?
DISPATCHER: Okay. Have you looked up towards the top of the Trade Center recently?
DISPATCHER: Yeah, we're getting -- we are getting a shit load of -- we are overloaded with phone calls right now.
OPERATOR: ...World Trade Center just blew up.
CRO: The whole center?
OPERATOR: Yeah, that's what they said.
CRO: My God, my God. They said an airplane crashed over here, AC. Oh, Lord. This makes me feel so bad, I can't take it. Once again, poor babies...
CRO: Keeps blowing up?
CRO: How many times it blew up?
CRO: Oh, my God. Hold on one second, please.
CRO: Oh, God. You be trapped, something like that -- we've got the 83rd -- on the second World Trade Center on the 83rd floor five people were trapped, went unconscious. I don't know what they're doing. And it's an awful thing, it’s an awful, awful, awful thing to call somebody and tell them you're going to die. That's an awful thing. I hope -- I hope they're all alive because they sound like they went -- they passed out because they were breathing hard, like snoring, like they’re unconscious.
CRO: Yeah, because they're buildings, big buildings, and they don't think. They don’t think. How could you have a big building and no way to get out of it? That's ridiculous. Anyway, if you had like a chute like you just slide down, that way the people don't have to walk down and more people can get out; just slide down the chute and you're out the door. That's what they should have. But you can't tell the rich people around here. Have a good day.
OPERATOR: This is what I have, a jumper.
CRO: Oh, yeah?
CRO (to caller): Is he alive or dead? He looks dead?
CRO: Okay. So do you know which building he's on? He's landed on five?
CRO: He's landed on Five World Trade Center on the third floor on the platform?
DISPATCHER: Do you have any other information in regard to this collapse?
OPERATOR: I beg your pardon?
DISPATCHER: Excuse me.
OPERATOR: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.
DISPATCHER: Do you have any information about collapse?
OPERATOR: About any what?
DISPATCHER: Never mind...
Cynthia McKinney - A Minor Variation
[Scroll for updates]
While we await Cynthia McKinney's planned news conference on her alleged assault of a U.S. Capitol Police Officer (a "mistake" about which Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi advises we not "make a big deal"), let's conduct a little Freaky Friday thought experiment.
Let's pretend the officer were a black woman and the Representative were a white man. A Republican white man. Let's say John Linder, fellow Georgian, fellow member of the freshman class of 1992.
I generally don't buy the whole "what if the situation were reversed" supposition when argued that the hypothetical is instructive as to how the actual should necessarily be handled. Still, let's pretend for a moment, just to envision how unrecognizable the situation would be.
John Linder rushes into the Capitol with a fresh haircut and no ID pin. Upon bustling past the checkpoint, he's yelled at by security but refuses to stop until a female police officer catches up with him and grabs his arm. Linder breaks her grasp, whirls around with cell phone in hand, slugs her in the gut, and storms off.
Would Linder get away with a statement without a trace of apology? Would there be a roughly even balance between appeals to the woman to press charges and claims of overreaction, even racism on the part of the officer? Would Nancy Pelosi find it "no big deal"?
I submit that Linder would currently be locked up, having already been forced into scribbling a hasty resignation, and would be awaiting criminal prosecution. Pelosi & Co. would be drafting rafts of upside-down memoranda about the festering culture of violence among the Republican party, suggesting for good measure that the incident is allegorical of the GOP's bloodlust overseas. Congressional calendars would be wiped clean so that press conference upon photo op could be accommodated, rhetoric about respect for women, minorities, and authority replacing quibbles over immigration policy. Massive protests would break out, with sporadic rioting in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Paris. Every Republican in the House would be hounded into offering his fullest and damningest condemnation of everything John Linder ever stood for, lest they be shredded in the press as a closet wife-batterer, hate criminal, and scofflaw. Markos Moulitsas, Arianna Huffington, and Keith Olberman would all have simultaneous just-won-the-lottery-style heart attacks. Conspiracy theories would abound about why Linder actually punched the cop ("Was he on drugs? Was he smuggling something bulky under his jacket so he couldn't be subjected even to a brief encounter with security? Who put him up to it? How high up does this thing go?"). Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer would be "troubled". Hollywood would kibosh Rocky 6 out of respect to the victim (well, and perhaps to all of us). The Dixie Chicks would organize a Cop-Aid benefit concert to finance the abusee's medical bills. Newt Gingrich would fall into a deep depression as the Republican Congressional majority he orchestrated would now assuredly be lost, possibly for all time.
It would be, in short, a "big deal".
Via Pirate's Cove, by way of AllahPundit (blogsitting for Michelle), the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Capitol Police will seek an arrest warrant for McKinney next week. That's all well and good, but why not today? The woman's clearly a menace.
Meanwhile, I'm no lawyer, but this appears to be the relevant section of the criminal code (relevant to anyone who actually did what McKinney is alleged to have done, anyway), by reference covering assault of U.S. Capitol Police Officers.
Assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees
(a) In General. - Whoever -
(1) forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties ...
shall, where the acts in violation of this section constitute only simple assault, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, and in all other cases, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(b) Enhanced Penalty. - Whoever, in the commission of any acts described in subsection (a), uses a deadly or dangerous weapon (including a weapon intended to cause death or danger but that fails to do so by reason of a defective component) or inflicts bodily injury, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
If McKinney did indeed punch this federal law enforcement officer, she'd better hope she didn't inflict bodily injury.
[The conspiratorial Eugune Volokh advises, "The statutory upper limits in federal statutes are almost never actually given, at least unless the defendant has a long criminal history. If you want to get a better sense for the likely sentence that an ordinary person in McKinney's shoes would get, you'd have to look at the relevant U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (which are now advisory, not mandatory, but do represent likely actual sentences)."]
Update: Matter resolved. Via Expose the Left, McKinney's lawyer explains that she is simply a "victim of being in Congress while black." That might just be the mother of all race cards.
Note to Cynthia McKinney: YOU'RE ACCUSED OF ASSAULTING A FEDERAL COP!
Not everything is a race thing. Some things are just violent criminal acts that have to be answered for.
Cynthia McKinney - Theme and Variations
It took only a matter of hours for Cynthia "Rock'em Sock'em" McKinney to turn her alleged assault on a police officer into a hate crime visited on her fragile person by an offensive and ignorant white man. (See here and here.)
McKinney, reportedly a habitual ID pin non-wearer (read: Capitol security shirker), in the most toned down version of her statement blames the incident (for which she does not apologize, other than to say she regrets "that the incident occurred", which could be read as much as a demand for an apology as an offering of one) on the officer not recognizing her as she bustled by him.
Hmm... if only there were some kind of standardized identifying token that could be affixed to Members' clothing, so guards wouldn't have to immediately recognize any of 535 faces that might happen to blow past them.
One unconfirmed version of McKinney's statement blames it on a recent change in hairstyle (though it goes on to grouse that she had been similarly mistreated by white male guards long before the new coiffe). Thus, even though guards had apparently posted pictures of McKinney at their checkpoints due to her habitual security eschewing, she and her new do were unable to sashay their way past the copper without arousing suspicion.
In this high-security world, I think this simply means we need to adopt new and innovative methods to keep up with McKinney's ever-changing special security needs. What would really help would be if we had the technology to visualize the Georgia Slugger in a variety of different prospective hairstyles, to prepare for future fashion trends.
Well, thanks to the magic of MyHeritage.com's Cognitex Celebrity face matching system (and a wee bit of photoshopping), we can do just that!
U.S. Capitol Police Officers, kindly post the following handy Cynthia McKinney Tonsorial Field GuideTM at all Capitol checkpoints. Hopefully this will avoid any further race-based harassment and white man-handling of Congresswoman McKinney.
Previously: Support Security - Deck a Cop!
Democrats' New Angle On National Security
Hat tip: Expose the Left
Brownback's Flat Tax - Take 2
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on D.C. and architect of an experimental, federal flat tax scheme for D.C. residents, will lead the Committee's second hearing on the proposal at 2:00 this afternoon.
[Listen to the hearing live here.]
Under Brownback's proposal, adoption of the flat tax would be optional for D.C. residents and would not affect their local tax bills (which are among the highest in the nation). Using the District as a testbed, the experiment is intended to illustrate the simplicity and pro-growth effects of a flatter tax scheme.
Slated to testify at the hearing are the District's CFO, the Chairman and the CEO of the Federal City Council, and the Brookings Institute's Director of the Greater Washington Research Program.
Sen. Brownback discussed the merits of his system earlier this month:
I believe that a flat federal income tax would create more economic activity and jobs in the District, which would enhance the District’s ability to raise revenue while actually lowering its own high local taxes... Our tax system should be fair, simple, and easy to understand. One way to make the system more fair is to have taxpayers pay taxes based on a single, flat rate which is applied to all taxpayers equally and which includes a generous personal exemption to protect low-income families.
Those who want to stay under the current system would be free to do so. I think, however, that if people are given a chance, they will abandon the current burdensome system. Each year, taxpayers in the District suffer like all Americans from the burden of our maddeningly complex tax code. This confusion is one reason why almost two-thirds of all taxpayers have given up trying to figure out how to complete their own tax returns and now simply pay someone else to sort it out.
A benefit of a flat tax is that it removes the double-taxation on money saved or invested. I do not think that dollars on which wage earners have already paid taxes should be taxed again when those dollars are saved or invested. This double-taxation creates a disincentive to saving and investing.
Somewhere, Steve Forbes is smiling.
Previously: Keep It Simple, Senators
New Joblessness Dwindles by 3%
Coming in at 302,000, initial jobless claims as reported by the Department of Labor fell from last week's revised tally of 312,000, a drop of better than 3%. The figure was 3,000 lower than economists were expecting and far lower than economic naysayers were hoping.
Elsewhere: Blogs for Bush
Support Security - Deck a Cop!
According to Sean Spicer, Communications Director for the House Republican Conference, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) "hit a Capitol police officer today", the day when her party unveiled their derivative, hollow, self-contradictory "plan" for "real security".
McKinney reportedly struck the cop in frustration for being made to wait while he screened people entering the Capitol.
The latest reports indicate the cop was pursuing McKinney down a Capitol hallway just past security, not realizing she was a Member (because she wasn't wearing her ID pin) and therefore not subject to security screening. According to reports, when he caught up and grabbed her, she tore free and belted him.
Just can't be bothered with that pesky security, eh Cynthia?
"The essential element of politics is timing."
- Pierre Elliott Trudeau
[Lest you assume the comically apropos image above is photoshopped, check out McKinney's campaign website.]
The officer called out "Ma'am, Ma'am," in an attempt to stop her.
When the officer caught up to McKinney, he grabbed her by the arm.
McKinney pulled her arm away, swung around, cell phone in hand, and punched the officer square in the chest, according to the witness.
The entire incident is on tape. The cop is pressing charges and the USCP are waiting until Congress adjourns to arrest her, a source claims...
Members of Congress do not have to walk through metal detectors as they enter buildings on the Capitol complex. They wear lapel pins identifying them as members.
McKinney routinely doesn't wear her pin and is recognized by many officers, [Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider] said, adding that she wasn't wearing it when she entered a House office building early Wednesday.
Sounds like a clear cut case of assault. Wonder if Cynthia will 1) give a heartfelt apology, 2) give a cheap non-apology apology, 3) blame the cop for "making her" hit him, or 4) play the race card?
A statement attributed to McKinney has been released on the Internet, where she allegedly claims to have been harassed by Capitol Hill Police.
The statement's writer says that she has been harassed by white police officers she says do not recognize her due to her recently changed hairstyle.
"Do I have to contact the police every time I change my hairstyle? How do we account for the fact that when I wore my braids every day for 11 years, I still faced this problem, primarily from certain white police officers," the statement says.
The writer details the incident, saying, "I was rushing to my meeting when a white police officer yelled to me. He approached me, bodyblocked me, physically touching me. I used my arm to get him off of me. I told him not to touch me several times. He asked for my ID and I showed it to him. He then let me go and I proceeded to my meeting and I assume that the Police Officer resumed his duties. I have counseled with the Sergeant-at-Arms and Acting Assistant Chief Thompson several times before and counseled with them again on today's incident. I offered also to counsel with the offending police officer."
Nasdaq Closes at 5-Year High
The Iraqi Tiger
Yes, the American economy sure is growing nicely. But it's no Iraq.
From the American Forces Press Service's "Official Reports Progress in Iraq's Reconstruction, Economic Development" [no link yet, sorry], Ambassador Daniel Speckhard (U.S. Director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office) elaborates:
Iraq's per capita income had fallen from around $4,200 per person in 1980, which at the time was higher than Spain, to $500 per person in March 2003, he said. Today it stands at $1,200 - 'a significant advancement in a very short time,' Speckhard said.
Speckhard pointed out that Iraq now has a free press, more than 2,000 Internet cafes, and more than 5 million cell phone users - up from virtually zero in 2003.
In addition, more than 30,000 Iraqi businesses have been registered in the past year alone, he said.
If you look out into the streets, ...you'll see a very vibrant economy,' Speckhard said. 'People (are) buying consumer and durable goods - refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions, and so forth.
Assuming zero population growth, that's compounded annual GDP growth of 34% since the liberation. Not too shabby.
Hat Tip: Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), who comments:
While naysayers focus on civil war in Iraq, American soldiers are busy creating a civil society in Iraq. As they work together with Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition troops, their efforts are producing undeniable economic advantages that truly improve the lives of Iraqis: new businesses, higher per capita income, and greater opportunities to interact with the outside world.
Check out how Reuters flips the happy story on its head.
ANALYSIS - Iraqis' economic woes add to desperation
Iraqis may now have mobile phones and internet cafes, but they have seen few real economic benefits since the fall of Saddam Hussein three years ago and are far poorer than they were before the first Gulf War.
Staying alive remains the first priority for Iraqis in a country which some say is teetering on the brink of civil war. But improving the economy would go a long way to boosting public morale and could even help curb the relentless violence.
The figures show that goal is a long way off.
While World Bank statistics demonstrate per capita income rose from $479 in 2003 when U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq to an estimated $1,188 in 2005, that compares with $3,240 in 1980.
And Iraqis themselves paint a picture of unremitting economic woe.
The piece goes on to offer anecdotal evidence of a few ticked off Iraqi businessmen and to point out every half empty glass in the country, which apparently negates the aggregate, measurable, breakneck growth (those World Bank figures suggest growth of over 50% on a per capita basis following the liberation).
Fed Hikes, Market Pitches Mysterious Fit
As was assumed by every living sentient being, the Federal Reserve announced its 15th consecutive 1/4 point hike in the Fed Funds rate today, raising it to 4.75%, a level not seen in almost 5 years.
These results of the first policy meeting under Ben Bernanke's stewardship were accompanied by a statement which repeated incumbent Fed language regarding the prospect of additional hikes, namely:
The Committee judges that some further policy firming may be needed to keep the risks to the attainment of both sustainable economic growth and price stability roughly in balance. In any event, the Committee will respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to foster these objectives.
The equity markets proceeded to freak right out, spoiling a modest rally inspired by a strong energy sector and rip-roaring consumer confidence. There's often a bit of a whipsaw effect after these announcements, but with more than a half hour of trading gone by, the indices are off most of a percent from where they were pre-announcement. Is it a huge move? No. But I don't see cause for any downward move.
Economists and market watchers had predicted this hike as a gimme and consensus was that there would be yet one additional, and possibly a third. On the other hand, I've long held that there was a good chance today's hike would be the last one before the Fed paused. That's a stance I'm perfectly happy sticking with in light of today's statement, which doesn't suggest to me that another boost has been identified as already planned or even "likely", which is how Greenspan used to telegraph presumptive future hikes.
Rather, the "may be needed" language seems to indicate a data-driven path of future decisions, meaning that absent inflationary concerns, the committee ought to be free to pause as soon as it feels it's arrived at a neutral rate. They may or may not agree that rate is achieved with the Fed Funds at 4.75%, but I certainly don't see any suggestion that the Bernanke Fed believes the neutral rate to be higher, much less more than 1 or 2 ticks higher, which is the policy that was already baked into today's market prices before the statement was released.
For what it's worth, I continue to see between 0 and 1 hikes remaining before the Fed pauses, assuming inflation signals stand pat. What I can't fathom is why the market seems to be inferring from the Fed's statement not only the 1 or 2 it had already assumed, but an increasing likelihood of at least 2, if not more.
If I'm right, time will bear it out and the markets will recover their unnecessary discount (which seems to widen with every hike or utterance, despite rock steady signals from the Fed) when they do finally pause.
In the meantime, it appears that anything Gentle Ben does will continue to be taken as a bearish signal for the markets.
Chuck Taylor Escapes, Possibly In Chuck Taylors
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor sneaked out of his villa in Nigeria last night, where he was under house arrest pending transfer to a war crimes tribunal.
The announcement of Taylor’s disappearance came the day before Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo was to meet with President Bush at the White House.
That visit was supposed to occur on a high note after Obasanjo resolved two issues of concern to his U.S. allies — Monday’s release of kidnapped American oil workers and last week’s deal to hand over Africa’s most infamous warlord.
Officials said Taylor faces charges including "murder, rape and maiming of more than a half-million Africans."
Besides Which, You See, We Have Confidence In We!
If the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index gets any higher, we're going to have to rename it the Consumer Cockiness Index.
[Pause for laughter]
But seriously, folks, consumers are so confident...
How confident are they?
Well... they're more confident than they've been since spring of 2002.
"This month's gain in Consumer Confidence has pushed the Index to a near four-year high," says [Consumer Research Center Director Lynn Franco]. "The improvement in consumers' assessment of present-day conditions is yet another sign that the economy gained steam in early 2006. Consumer expectations, while improved, remain subdued and still suggest a cooling in activity in the latter half of this year."
Other key findings from the study that bear no earthly resemblance to the economic picture (nor to the popular perception of the economic picture) portrayed in the media:
- Those claiming conditions are "bad" declined to 14.7 percent from 15.4 percent
- Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen decreased to 9.9 percent from 10.9 percent
- Those expecting fewer jobs to become available in the coming months decreased to 16.6 percent from 19.9 percent in February
By several different measures then, only a tiny minority among the population (fewer in number than the Moon-landing-was-faked conspiracy theorists) finds the economy to be on the wrong course. The rest expect either status quo (read: Goldilocks) or improvement (read: gangbusters) going forward.
If it is the economy, stupid, then maybe the Dems ought to just sit out this November's election. Consumer spending accounts for 2/3 of the U.S. economy, meaning we're likely to see more strong numbers put up in the two quarters of economic activity remaining before election day.
I Like... Big... Job Numbers and I Cannot Lie
Pay Attention, America - Part II
4Q GDP Revised Upward
America's Secret Prosperity
And Tax Cuts Said, "Let There Be Growth."
Pay Attention, America!
2006 Economic Report of the President
Speaking of Taxes
Reason #411 Why Congress Must Make the Tax Cuts Permanent
Liveblogging the State of the Union
Oh Tax Cuts, Is There Anything You Can't Do?
Tax Cuts To the Rescue
Yet More Good Economic News
The Facts Are Not Enough
I Believe I Can Buy
Disgruntled Air Traffic Controller/Alleged Serial Bomber On the Loose
Well okay, I'm making a leap of faith assuming that this man lost his gruntles, but it seems like a reasonable guess.
Either way, have you seen this man?
Grand Junction, CO
Suspected serial bomber Robert L. Burke was "like a light switch" with a personality that swung from calm to belligerent without notice, a bicycle shop owner who knows him said Monday.
"It was weird. He'd be calm, then all excited and then intense, really intense, and he wanted answers right now," said Brad Stewart, owner of Bicycle Outfitters...
Burke, 54, an ex-air traffic controller, is wanted on a federal warrant for allegedly making and setting five bombs in Grand Junction last week, three of which exploded and all of which are believed to be targeted against his former co-workers.
The bombs are said to strongly resemble another found in Tennessee.
Given Burke's obvious knowledge of air traffic and airport operations, the ATF has deemed him "extremely dangerous" and a potential threat to airports. Burke's former employer, the Serco Group, which provides air traffic control services throughout the western U.S., fired him in 2004.
Being fired is of course one of those events that has been known to trigger simiarly acute disgruntling scenarios in the past. Add to that the tremendously high-stress nature of the life of an air traffic controller (and his potentially dangerous expertise) and you've got yourself a thorny situation.
Be on the lookout.
Tuesday's Quickest Hits
Today's 1-minute water cooler Cliffs notes:
- Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card resigns.
- Michigan blushes.
- "What Kind of Fool" does Hillary take Bill for?
- Amnesty, amnesty, amnesty
- Bernanke hooks thumbs in beltloops, prepares to hike.
- My occasional DC blogger event co-goer Rob Bluey appears on Fox News' "Big Story: Primetime".
(Ahem, Fox, for bookings please contact me at my booking e-mail.)
The Right To Bear Arms. Powerful Arms.
SuitablyFlip.GOP.com Is Online
With just over 7 months to go until the 2006 midterm elections, there's plenty of work to be done. With that in mind, I invite you to stop by my new blog-away-from-blog, hosted at suitablyflip.gop.com. Join the team, contribute to the GOP, register new voters, sign petitions, or just sound off.
The Republican National Committee is supporting this widely distributed grassroots effort as another innovative way to leverage the interconnectedness and passion of highly engaged, uniquely informed blog-goers everywhere.
So stop by and say hello!
At least someone out there is taking a hard line against the selfish, illegal, dangerous strikers at the helm of the Transport Workers Union. TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint and his cronies have still not had to answer for their leadership role in the Christmastime strike that cost the city so much money and put so many people in needless danger.
One such person was firefighter Matthew Long, who, while bicycling to work during the strike, was struck by a private bus hired by a bank to shuttle its employees to and from the office. Long survived, but was seriously injured. Now his mother Eileen Long wants a little accountability from those whose lawlessness led to her son's injuries. In a letter to Justice Theodore Jones, the Brooklyn State Supreme Court judge overseeing the case, and cc'd to Governor Pataki and Attorney General and Gubernatorial hopeful Eliot Spitzer, Mrs. Long had this to say:
Dear Justice Jones:
Ninety-five days have passed since my son NYC Firefighter Matthew Long was struck by a private bus during an illegal strike called by Roger Toussaint and Transit Workers Union.
When I attend the next court session on April 7th, I hope that you will grant no further adjournments in this case and will act in the best interest of the citizens of New York. Keeping in mind that "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied".
Thank you for your consideration.
Eileen F. Long
Toussaint and the other union leadership could face a day in jail for each day of the strike (of which there were 3). Let's hope the Longs get satisfaction. I'll be curious to see how incarceration would affect Toussaint's bargaining power in the ongoing negotiations with the MTA, which are now finally at the cusp of binding arbitration.
Transit Tribulations Roll On
New Yorkers Do It Underground
A Taste of Their Own Medicine
Decision Time for Illegal NYC Transit Strikers
Fat Lady Iced
What a Deal
Roger Toussaint's Billion Dollar Christmas Present
Back on Track
The [Unofficial] Not For Tourists Guide to NYC - Strike Edition
Strike 3 (Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $62,000)
Transit Strike Update
TWU Walks Out On New york
New Yorkers Behaving Like New Yorkers
T-Minus 1 Hour: Transit Union Walks Out
No Progress on Transit Negotiations
Bracing for Bedlam
Bloomberg Steps Up
New York's Looming Illegal Transit Strike
National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction
It may not have quite the polish and pageantry we're used to from the White House book club, but this Defense Department packet [.pdf] released Friday details the national "strategic vision for countering WMD."
Also important, I guess.
From the American Forces Information Service:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave U.S. Strategic Command the DoD lead on WMD issues in January 2005, so STRATCOM will now "operationalize" this strategic guidance, [Army Brig. Gen. Robert] Caslen, [Joint Staff's deputy director for the war on terror] said. The command will develop specific tasks and responsibilities required to carry out the defense strategy and assign them to the services, combatant commands and DoD agencies. Officials expect that report to be completed by late summer.
The results of these efforts and ultimately their success will have a major, long-term impact on the United States, Caslen said.
He described the conditions that would demonstrate the policy had proven successful. "Fifty years from now, life as you and I know it as a freedom-loving society is the same, (and) we have not been attacked by terrorists who have weapons of mass destruction, in spite of their greatest efforts to obtain them and do that," he said. "And your kids and your grandkids have not experienced the fear of trying to live in a world like that.
"If this is going to happen 50 years from now, this strategy and what STRATCOM is doing will play a significant role in making that happen."
Previously: White House Releases National Security Strategy
Full Length "United 93" Trailer Available
The Pachyderm Has Left the Big Top
In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to washingtonpost.com contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.
An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.
If the allegations are true (and from the available evidence, it seems highly likely that they are), obviously it's appropriate that Domenech resign. But the worst part about this is not the knock to WaPo's integrity (*chortle*), it's the implicit vindication of the hack job the lefty bloggers had worked up on Domenech before there was any indication of plagiarism. Well before these allegations surfaced, the in-unison, furious gripe was over Domenech's right-leaning ideology and the audacity of the paper to put a partisan on staff (*double chortle*), when there was no left-leaning voice to balance him out (*rolling on floor chortling*).
Hopefully this short-lived and inauspicious foray by the MSM into the world of partisan blogging won't dissuade them or their counterparts from making additional such moves in the future. The symbiotic (or is it parasympathetic?) relationship between primary news-gathering organizations and the blogosphere is easy to see. That relationship is also fluid and will continue to equilibrate in due course, in the same self-organizing, self-optimizing way the blogosphere itself has evolved. For major news outlets to house well-known bloggers with stated political leanings may or may not be part of the ensuing equilibrium, but it was a positive move to have such a high-profile test case being incubated. That it ended this unfortunate way will be bad for the continued evolution and optimization of this changing landscape, if it does discourage others from conducting similar experiments.
The message here is not that the Post was wrong to bring in a partisan blogger (and certainly not that the paper has swung too far to the right), but simply that their due diligence isn't up to snuff.
And really, was that even under debate?
Q: What's Worse Than Paying Your Taxes?
A: Paying someone else's taxes.
Identity theft is one thing. But this is just plain mean.
The latest version of identity theft is popping up as people are being asked to pay taxes on money someone else is making using your name.
Someone steals your identity, but instead of getting credit cards in your name, they are getting a job on a contract basis. This time of year, you discover this type of crime because 1099s begin showing up in your mailbox..
The Internal Revenue Service thinks you made the money and now you need to pay the taxes. It's happening in Green Country.
"We had one consumer who got the first one and the name was misspelled, so he thought it was just a mistake," says Rick Brinkley with the Tulsa Better Business Bureau. "And, he did nothing. Then, the next week, another one shows up, then another and another."
I know what you're saying to yourself. "Don't worry, Self," you say, "we check our credit report regularly and we even installed one of those credit watching services that alerts us any time someone runs a credit check on us."
Unfortunately, you're only fooling yourself. This scam has no credit report impact. The only defense is to watch carefully for unexpected 1099s (though it seems easy enough for a fraudster to change his address of record with his employer after landing the job).
Worse still, even if you do intercept the tax records, the burden of proof is on you to convince the IRS you've been defrauded.
Happy tax season!
Cleveland Poaches NYC's Hometown Superhero
Take heart, villains. Our friendly neighborhood Spiderman is trading in the city that never sleeps for the city... wait, let me look this one up... for the "forest city".
The producers reportedly chose Cleveland over New York because the latter had higher prices for shutting down streets. The Greater Cleveland Film Commission also offered free soundstage space at the city’s convention centre, which contributed to the city landing the deal. Because Spiderman 3 is set in New York, the city’s skyline will be digitally altered to resemble Manhattan.
Cleveland's lower skyline shouldn't be a problem in creating a New York-style look, said Alan Tuskes, who works in film special effects. The shorter Cleveland skyscrapers can be extended using computer-generated images, he said.
Now I enjoy a big-budget summer popcorn flik at least as much as the next guy. I require neither subtle plot arcs, nor culturally important messages, nor pretty actresses made up to look ugly, fat, or abused to be entertained at the movies. Give me 2 hours of explosions, car chases, fart jokes, and twisty endings, and I'm in cinematic heaven. That said, isn't the appeal of the Spiderman franchise pretty firmly rooted in those exhilarating Manhattan fly-throughs? I know it's not the awkward line-trading between Maguire and Dunst or the constant flashbacks to the simplistic morality of dearly departed Uncle Ben holding these films together. I dare say the Spiderman movies may be the most Big Apple-beholden movie series in history. Spidey wouldn't even be able to physically navigate any other town, save maybe Hong Kong or Tokyo.
This is just another reminder that New York can no longer count on its commercial appeal to trump any and all cost of business issues. Kudos to Cleveland for recognizing the value in actually encouraging business activity in its town. (That's right - this is where I make it a tax thing.)
Though it wasn't mentioned in the story, undoubtedly contributing to the filming decision was this month's expiration of New York City's 5% "Made in NY" tax credit. The Mayor's office of Film, Theatre (c'mon, this is America, it's "Theater"), and Broadcasting celebrates the program having been "so successful that the credits have now reached the $50 million allocated for the program." Indeed, the press release cites a $1.5 billion impact on the city in 2005, including the creation of 10,000 jobs.
Sounds like a decent return for $50 million. So why the cap? The "cost" of this tax incentive is obviously not a net budgetary outflow, but rather a lucrative, celebrated, high returning investment. Why not make it unlimited? And maybe juice it to 7.5%?
The next state legislative session will vote on any future extension of the incentive. Let's hope they get it right. We just lost a web-slinging sequel, unalterably set in our city, boasting a quarter billion dollar budget (i.e. the most expensive movie ever made).
MSM: From Nauseating to Nauseated
I'm not sure which is more stupefying - the degree of bias in the mainstream media or their utter inability to learn that they're going to get busted when they traipse it around like this.
Devoted commenter M.A., if you're reading this, this is how I know the media swings left.
A shiny Sacagawea awaits anyone who can get their hands on an unredacted copy or otherwise gleans the identity of the recipient.
John Green is the executive producer of ABC's Good Morning America Weekend Edition, which I can't say I watch, um, ever. But in fairness, a look at the lineup of recent and pending stories suggests a programming menu without much ideological slant (unless "Are the Red Sox good for your health?" qualifies as pandering to a blue state).
According to the Drudge piece:
A friend of Green's at ABC says Green is mortified by the email. "John feels so badly about this email..."
Well, I doubt Green is in fact mortified by the email or that he feels badly about the email. He did after all write it. I think more likely Green is "mortified" that the email got out and that he "feels so badly" about his views being made public.
We all have views, John, but so long as you work for an organization that pretends to be objective, you really need to curb the blatant and electronic displays of your politics, no matter your level of queasiness.
May I recommend blogging? You get to trot out your leanings and predispositions willy-nilly and hither and yon, and yet you enjoy a higher degree of credibility because your audience knows you're not selling them a bill of goods.
Of course there is the 100% pay cut...
Update: Keith Olberman has just informed us that it was the White House that leaked this document to the "infamous, deplorable Matt Drudge", something he has determined in all of his trademark journalistic rigor simply by noting that "the timing is too good".
As I typed that last sentence, Olberman went on to note that Dick Cheney likes to watch Fox News because he "tells them what to say". Someone get this man some help. Lots of people prefer Fox News, Keith. For instance, in your time slot, you lose out to FNC by more than 5-to-1.
Elsewhere: Video and transcript at Expose the Left.
Konspiracy Korner - Did Chef Really Quit South Park?
[Color me bumped! Scroll for updates...]
According to Roger Friedman, writing at FoxNews.com, something is rotten in South Park.
Isaac Hayes did not quit "South Park." My sources say that someone quit it for him.
I can tell you that Hayes is in no position to have quit anything. Contrary to news reports, the great writer, singer and musician suffered a stroke on Jan. 17. At the time it was said that he was hospitalized and suffering from exhaustion.
Friedman also referenced an interview Hayes did for The Onion's AV Club just this past January, which seems to suggest he was a fairly good sport about the whole situation.
AV Club: They did just do an episode that made fun of your religion, Scientology. Did that bother you?
Hayes: Well, I talked to Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker] about that. They didn't let me know until it was done. I said, 'Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that [expletive], you know?' But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses and understand what we do. [Laughs.]
That's obviously quite sad if Hayes truly has suffered a debilitating stroke (and fairly odd that it's been so well hushed). A news search doesn't pull up any other sources suggesting that to be the case, but as Friedman notes...
...[I]t’s hard to know anything since Hayes, like Katie Holmes, is constantly monitored by a Scientologist representative most of the time. ... Friends in Memphis tell me that Hayes did not issue any statements on his own about South Park. They are mystified.
That certainly begs the question of who issued the statement that Hayes was quitting "South Park" now because it mocked Scientology four months ago. If it wasn’t Hayes, then who would have done such a thing?
If you haven't seen the "Trapped In the Closet" episode that sparked the whole Scientological kerfuffle, have at it.
- For a primer on the impossibly wacky beliefs of Scientologists, check out Wikipedia.
- Some truly disturbing first-hand accounts of the
church'scult's brainwashing sessions (dubbed "training" or "auditing" routines) are available here, here, and here.
- A list of many of your favorite celebrities that have fallen victim to the
churchcult is here.
Update: Flexing their mastery of the short development timeline, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are kicking off the show's new season this Wednesday with a premiere entitled "The Return of Chef" in which the boys "notice that something about Chef seems different". From FoxLife:
On Wednesday's ninth-season debut, Hayes' character, Chef, pops up in an episode which creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are devoting to his mysterious return to "South Park." They are expected to poke fun at his religion, Scientology.
While details are scarce, Comedy Central officials say the duo are putting the finishing touches on the episode (Wednesday, 10 p.m.) -- which, like many others, is being written and animated in less than a week.
3/22 Update: According to Friedman's March 22nd installment of Fox Life, Hayes definitively did not quit South Park and needs the income stream the show provides to support his new wife and expected new baby.
Here’s the problem: Hayes is no longer managed by Bruce Garfield at Avenue Management. All of the communication from him comes through a woman named Christina "Kumi" Kimball, a fashion executive for designer Craig Taylor, another Scientologist.
Kimball herself is a devoted member of the Church of Scientology. She even maintains a Web site extolling its virtues. If any announcement was made about Hayes and "South Park," it came from her.
Here is Kimball's Scientology virtue-extolling site.
On the topic of Hayes' reported stroke, Friedman delivers encouraging news:
The only good news in this story is that Isaac, according to friends, is doing very well. He’s attending to business and getting back on his feet. Hopefully, he’ll be dishing up Chef like a gourmet again in no time.
Curiouser and curiouser.
3/23 Update: Looking for a transcript or authoritative recap of last night's premiere...
Suffice it to say it was stellar. Rapid response "South Park" at its finest. It pulled no punches in going after not Chef per se, but his "fruity little club" that brainwashed him. While the show unabashedly went after Scientology and its nutso beliefs in the original "Trapped in the Closet" episode, this time the fruity little club in question was the "Super Adventure Club", a society of intrepid child molesters who hypnotize otherwise normal individuals into a state of insatiable child lust (exhibited in the Chef character via [intentionally sloppy] remixing of Hayes' lines from earlier episodes).
As vulgar as the bulk of the show was therefore bound to be, it actually turned out to be one of the most touching, honest episodes in the long history of the series. In the inevitable "what we learned" speech at the end of the ep, the children say a tearful goodbye to Chef.
"A lot of us don't agree with the choices the Chef has made in the last few days," one of the children eulogizes him at a funeral. "Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can't let the events of the past few weeks take away the memories of how Chef made us smile.
"We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us," the eulogy concludes. "We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains."
(For good measure, in addition to their pedophilic leanings, the Super Adventure Club also believes in mystical inner-beings, much like Scientology's thetans (or the Star Wars midichlorians for that matter, but more on that later) and their club jet looks suspiciously like the DC-8, famous prehistoric equipment of choice for L. Ron Hubbard.)
Giving closure to Chef's migration to the dark side, yet leaving the door open to a possible return for Hayes (in case someone should manage to deprogram him down the line), the show ends by semi-killing him off in a gruesome eaten-alive-by-wild-animals-while-on-fire scene, only to be scavenged by the leader of his fruity little club, who manages to coax him back to health and gives him a Darth Vader style makeover (eh, midichlorians?), complete with Light Spatula.
Bravo, Trey and Matt.
Ankle Biting Pundits has more.
Transcripts, screenshots, further reaction from Roger Friedman, Kumi Kimball, etc., as it becomes available...
Dubya Digs the Blogoshpere
At Bush's town hall meeting today in Wheeling, West Virginia, he was asked by a woman whose husband had just returned from Tikrit how she might go about getting "several DVDs of footage of wonderful things" going on in Iraq that her husband had compiled into mainstream distribution. She was vocally frustrated by the slanted, negative coverage she's been seeing in the mainstream media.
The President was quite keen on using new technologies, especially the internet, and explicitly blogs, to get the unfiltered message out.
Working on a transcript and/or video of the relevant portion of the event...
WOMAN: This is my husband who has returned from a 13 month tour in Tikrit.
BUSH: Oh yeah, thank you buddy. Welcome back!
WOMAN: His job while serving was as a broadcast journalist and he has brought back several DVDs full of wonderful footage of reconstruction, of medical things going on, and I ask you this from the bottom of my heart for the solution to this. Because it seems that our major media networks don’t want to portray the good, they just want to focus –
[tremendous applause from audience]
——on another car bomb or they just want to focus on the more bloodshed, or they just want to focus on how they don’t agree with or what you’re doing when they don’t even probably know how you’re doing what you’re doing anyway. But what can we do to get that footage on CNN, on FOX, to get it on Headline News, to get it on the local news because you can send it to the news people, and I’m sorry I’m rambling on like I have –
BUSH: So was I though, for like an hour –
WOMAN:——can use this and it’ll just end up in a drawer because it’s good and it portrays the good and if people could see that, if the America people could see it, there would never be another negative word about this conflict.
BUSH: Well I appreciate that. No it’s –
BUSH: Before I come out and speak, I’ve spoken in Cleveland, gave press conference yesterday. Spoke in Cleveland Monday, press conference yesterday, here today. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing to try make sure people can here there’s – why I make decisions and as best as I can explain why I am optimistic we can succeed. One of the things that we have to value is that that we do have a media, free media that’s able to do what they want to do and I – you ask me to say something in front of all the camera here [laughter]. Help over there will ya? I just got to keep talking and word of mouth, there’s blogs, there’s internet, there’s all kinds of way to communicate which is literally changing the way people get their information and so if you’re concerned I would suggest that you reach out to some of the groups that are supporting the troops, that got internet sites and just keep the word moving.
The MSM's One Note Samba
As noted at Power Line, today's dead tree rehash of yesterday's Presidential press briefing is remarkably uniform, and predictably dour.
Washington Post: Bush Says U.S. Troops Will Stay in Iraq Past '08
Washington Times: Bush Commits Until 2009
Associated Press: Bush: Troops to Stay in Iraq for Years
New York Times: Bush Concedes Iraq War Erodes Political Status - "...American forces would remain in the country until at least 2009."
This cherry-picked lead point, extracted from a wide-ranging, hour-long conversation, was predicated on Bush's comment that the day when we have zero troops remaining in Iraq "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq." Is it terribly shocking (or even newsworthy) that we would expect to have some measure of forces remaining in Iraq at least into the next Presidential administration? To this day, we still have troops in Bosnia, Kosovo, and South Korea after all.
A far more intriguing portion of yesterday's presser had to be the President's deft joust [video] with
the Wicked Witch of the West Wing Helen "If Dick Cheney Runs For President, I'll Kill Myself" Thomas.
Scary News From the Department of Energy
From Government Computer News:
At least 18 pieces of “computer processing equipment,” including at least one laptop, are missing from the Energy Department’s Office of Intelligence (IN), and department officials do not know whether any of it was used for or contained classified information, according to a new report [.pdf] from DOE’s inspector general. ...
- Officials could not locate 18 items of sensitive computer processing equipment and were unable to determine if the missing items had been used to process classified information
- Officials had not reported missing sensitive property to the Office of Security and
- More than 280 pieces of sensitive property had not been entered into the IN’s inventory records.
Among the unreported missing items were 11 that have been missing for nearly a year. The failure to report the missing equipment is not surprisingly in direct violation of DOE protocol.
In response to the report, Rolf Mowatt-Larsen, Director of DOE Office of Intelligence, has pledged 100% resolution of the discrepancies by next month. So far, only 5 of the 18 missing items have turned up.
Bubba Kowtows To Hillary's Posturing
Recognizing the importance of manufacturing a consistent political pettifoggery in his wife's bid for the Presidency, Bill Clinton has agreed to curtail his consulting activities, they recently having impacted Hillary's Bush-bashing credibility in the Dubai ports deal, given Bill's concurrent advisory relationship with Dubai Ports World.
From The Washington Times:
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has reined in her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to avoid more embarrassments in her upward-looking career.
With the senator's ambition to run for president well known, sources told the New York Daily News she wants to avoid another conflict like their recent competing roles in the Dubai ports deal.
While she was blasting the Bush administration for allowing Dubai to run six of the country's seaports, her husband was advising Dubai on how to sell the deal.
An adviser to both Clintons said the former president has acceded to his wife's wishes.
"He knows it's Hillary's time now," the adviser said.
The senator's campaign spokeswoman, Ann Lewis, denied the former president's comments have been a liability but acknowledged her boss is calling the shots.
"She is the elected official. She makes the ultimate decisions," Lewis said.
Debbie Stabenow Revisited
The results are in for the well-attended caption/photoshop contest hosted by GOP and College in honor of Sen. Debbie Stabenow's (D-MI) "dangeously incompetent" moment last week. I'm proud to claim two spots on the Top 10 list, at #6 and #9.
Previously: Picture of the Day
Pachyderm In the Mist: The Dawn of Red America
Ben Domenech, co-founder of RedState, has put up his first post at his new blog Red America. What's most notable about this new conservative blog is its host venue - namely WashingtonPost.com, that most reliably liberal breastwork of the MSM.
Should be interesting.
Domenech pulls no punches as he begins the madness.
While the mainstream media has been slow to recognize the growth in conservative America, smart Democrats have not. Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Hillary Clinton are not alone in recognizing that the unhinged elements of their base, motivated by partisan rage, Michael Moore conspiracies and a pronounced feeling of victimhood have dragged down the Democratic Party for far too long. It's a political anchor apotheosized by the founders of leftist websites Daily Kos and MyDD, whose recently published book on political strategy and the Internet (an odd publication when one considers that DKos endorsed candidates are 0-19 in elections) opens with the sentence "Five years ago, the Republicans took over the government through nondemocratic means." Smart Democrats read this kind of rhetoric and recognize that if they continue to be the party of Howard Dean, the floor may be nonexistent.
Editor and Publisher details some of the early outrage from the left.
Bush's 3rd Term
On "The Panel" segment at the end of Fox News Channel's Special Report, Fred Barnes (author of Rebel in Chief) has just unveiled his strategy for what he calls "Bush's 3rd Term". It was a strategy for reinvigorating the administration, recently reported to be suffering from fatigue. Barnes suggested it would be a sweeping way to save Bush from 34 months of Presidential doldrums that may otherwise plague his second term.
In summary, Barnes' recommendations were as follows:
- Condi Rice becomes Vice President (and thus annointed as Bush's successor)
- Dick Cheney becomes Defense Secretary (a position he's already held)
- Joe Liberman becomes Secretary of State
- Karl Rove becomes RNC Chairman
- Ken Mehlman becomes Communications Director at the White House
Barnes claims he has no inside knowledge that any of this will happen and he declined to answer the question of how likely it might be on a scale of 1 to 10. He did feel it would be sufficient to cause Condi to declare 2008 candidacy and, as drastic as the notion is, it was received with neither scoff nor laughter by the rest of the panel.
Chat With Beltway Boy Fred Barnes
The equity markets were lackluster today, as Wall Street failed to extend last week's impressive rally in any compelling fashion. Conventional wisdom suggests traders are waiting to hear what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says during his address to the Economic Club of New York tonight.
As usual, the tea leaves to be most studiously attended involve any hints about Bernanke's read on inflation and the likely path of future rate hikes. The current sentiment is that one more hike in the Fed Funds rate is assured, two more is pretty likely, and a third is a lesser possibility, before the FOMC pauses. I'm of the mind that the Fed is, if anything, of a less hawkish mind. True, it is a body not immune to oversteering the ship, but I'm getting the feeling that the fairly tame language that's come out of the Federal Reserve during Greenspan's victory lap and since Bernanke took over has not heralded multiple additional cuts with nearly as much certainty as the market seems to believe.
I've been hearing an almost indistinguishable extension of Greenspan's outlook, namely that we're nearing the end of the string of rate hikes, that inflation remains a concern but for now well-contained, and that future moves would have to be data-driven. I don't see any reason to take that language for any less than face value. And the data has by and large suggested that a previously tentative eye on pausing the hikes can now become more assured, as inflation pressures have continued to be mild, particularly at the retail level.
Of course none of this means that anything Bernanke says tonight will better assuage a market that likes nothing better than gleaning spooky subtext where there may be none. But given today's sudden trading ambivalence, I do get the impression that - so long as Ben doesn't drop any bombshells tonight - the markets can probably expect some belated, relief-driven buying come Tuesday.
Watch this space for updates following the address and during tomorrow's trading session.
Update: No big surprises. Bernanke's main messages were that the flat interest rate curve (Greenspan's "conundrum") is indeed quizzical, that economic prospects are good, and that future monetary policy will have to be mindful of a wide range of economic data, rather than tied to a "small set of forecast indicators". I'm thus renewed in my speculation that there will only be one more hike (to 4.75%) in the Fed Funds rate before the Fed pauses (unless something changes). The only possible hawkish subtext to tease out so far as I can see is if Bernanke means to suggest that, despite tame inflationary pressures, there may still be a case for additional hikes when considering a wider range of indicators. But that interpretation would tend to paint Bernanke as more monetarily hawkish than his predecessor, which seems unlikely.
Transit Tribulations Roll On
Roger Toussaint, boss of New York's Transport Workers Union Local 100, is trying hard to pressure the MTA into re-upping their contract proposal which Toussaint's own membership voted down in January (a corker of an outcome with a 7 vote margin out of more than 20,000 votes cast).
After the union mounted their illegal Christmastime strike, deliberately inflicting hundreds of millions of dollars of damage and considerable safety concerns on the city, the new contract proposal was - much to the membership's dismay - less favorable than the concessions the union had already won leading up to the strike.
Now Toussaint is begging for another shot at ratifying that contract. If the MTA doesn't oblige, it's very likely the two sides will go to binding arbitration, a move Toussaint is aggressively resisting, since a fair outcome reached through good faith negotiation is a dim prospect, compared to the terms the union has managed to bully out of the MTA thus far. (Arbitration would also nix a provision that returns - just for fun - more than $130 million in prior pension payments to existing employees, making the prospect all the less palatable to the TWU.)
Still, arbitration is supposed to kick in if the two sides reach an impasse. Unless the MTA is feeling generous and wants to give Toussaint another chance at getting their prior offer ratified, this situation seems to scream impasse, and has for months. The only problem is that moving to arbitration is something that some union leaders and many rank-and-file members have identified as a trigger for a second illegal strike. It'd be hard to blame members for feeling so bold, given how meekly the Taylor Law was enforced the first time around.
Toussaint and his fellow union
thugs leaders have still not been sent to jail. Striking employees were fined no more than the wages they didn't earn on the days they missed work (per the Taylor Law, the amount of the fine is supposed to double daily) and it's still up in the air whether and how those fines will be assessed.
As the situation teeters back toward brinkmanship, one can only hope the MTA, the PERB, and/or Governor Pataki is able to redouble the credibility of the threats of real fines and jail time, should the union be inclined once again to hold New York City hostage in their campaign for way-above-market salaries and benefits.
New Yorkers Do It Underground
A Taste of Their Own Medicine
Decision Time for Illegal NYC Transit Strikers
Fat Lady Iced
What a Deal
Roger Toussaint's Billion Dollar Christmas Present
Back on Track
The [Unofficial] Not For Tourists Guide to NYC - Strike Edition
Strike 3 (Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $62,000)
Transit Strike Update
TWU Walks Out On New york
New Yorkers Behaving Like New Yorkers
T-Minus 1 Hour: Transit Union Walks Out
No Progress on Transit Negotiations
Bracing for Bedlam
Bloomberg Steps Up
New York's Looming Illegal Transit Strike
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
[Bumped, throughout Friday]
Posting will be limited for the next couple days, as I'm heading out of town to celebrate St. Paddy's Day as God intended - with a bunch of fellow Golden Domers. Check it out, it's even a rare sunny day in South Bend.
Not that I'm going to South Bend. But noteworthy nonetheless.
Elsewhere of Irish note, today's Wall Street Journal Online eyes the "Celtic Tiger", examining how Ireland has managed to turn a country with 15% unemployment as recently as 1993 into booming, high-growth economic success story, swiftly outpacing its EU counterparts. (Hint: trade liberalization and tax breaks - these things actually work!)
The Inconvenient Truth About Al Gore
So just how moved were conservatives by Al Gore 's global-warming slide show? While energetically flacking his new documentary at a convention of theater owners in Vegas Monday, Gore told a story about the warm reception he got at a Grover Norquist breakfast gathering here in January. In Variety's account of the speech, Gore said that D.C. conservatives "stood up afterward and said, 'You're absolutely right.' "
How many conservatives? Three people at the convention tell us Gore left the distinct impression he received multiple kudos, "many" in Variety's telling. That got a chuckle from the breakfast club, whose members recall a polite response but only one attendee approaching Gore with praise. Gore's people deny any hyperbole, saying he never claimed more than one enviro-conversion at the meal and may have been misquoted. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," hits theaters in May.
Among Al's many memorable tirades, the one that's emblazoned most permanently on my retinae and ear drums is the "HE PLAYED ON OUR FEARS!" anti-Bush tantrum. You know, the one when he pronounces the last word "FYURS!" It's an amusing turn that his newest meandering fugue is nothing more than a big fear-play of his own. The only difference is he's not wringing his hands over terrorist threats or the nuclear designs of rogue nations, but whether we buy enough recycled toilet paper and feel guilty enough about driving our cars.
Elsewhere: Right Wing News
Do You Have Anything Smaller?
“You would think the $1 billion denomination would be a give away that these notes are fakes, but some people are still taken in.”
The Case For Marathon Training
Knees be damned. There's something to be said for stamina.
A 37-year-old marathon runner who had just put in 10 kilometers in a London park chased down a 17-year-old mugging suspect.
The teenager collapsed after two miles while Glyn Roberts was still going strong, The Mirror reported.
"He kept turning around and had this stunned look on his face," Roberts said. "He couldn't believe I was still chasing him. Eventually, he slowed down and fell to his knees. He was knackered. He begged me to let him go, but that wasn't going to happen, not after I had run so far."
Update: Making a similar case for weight training, here's a grandma.
GOP Blogger Event at U.S. Senate
The Senate Republican Conference is currently hosting bloggers at a panel entitled "Securing America's Future". Topics are ranging from immigration to wiretapping to fiscal policy.
On the scene:
White House Releases National Security Strategy
Today, the White House released the President's National Security Strategy, a broad-scoped document that restates much of the Bush Doctrine, in support of security and liberty at home and among freedom loving people throughout the world.
Bush introduced the document this morning from the White House:
The ideals that have inspired our history -- freedom, democracy, and human dignity -- are increasingly inspiring individuals and nations throughout the world. ... We choose leadership over isolationism, and the pursuit of free trade and open markets over protectionism. We choose to deal with challenges now rather than leaving them for future generations. We fight our enemies abroad instead of waiting for them to arrive in our country. We seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it; to influence events for the better instead of being at their mercy.
Download your copy here (pdf).
* Constructive criticism for the White House publishing team: spell check is your friend. "Lobalization" is not a word. Let's leave the spelling crimes to Ms. Streisand.
In fairness to the White House, the spelling error does not occur in the full .pdf document, only in the web text. Plus, for all I know, "lobalization" is some cutting edge management concept of local-globalization. Or perhaps it's the diplomatic tactic of removing the frontal lobes of leaders of rogue nations to render them less ornery. Yes, yes... a doctrine of pre-emptive lobotomies. This has Nobel peace prize written all over it.
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Veep Consolation Gig
This sounds like a job for John E'wards.
When a dump truck backed into Curtis Gokey's car, he decided to sue the city for damages. Only thing is, he was the one driving the dump truck. But that minor detail didn't stop Gokey, a Lodi city employee, from filing a $3,600 claim for the December accident, even after admitting the crash was his fault.
After the city denied that claim because Gokey was, in essence, suing himself, he and his wife, Rhonda, decided to file a new claim under her name.
... Rhonda Gokey insisted she has "the right to sue the city because a city's vehicle damaged my private vehicle."
In fact, her claim, currently pending at Lodi City Hall, is for an even larger amount $4,800.
S&P 500 Poised to Close at New Multi-Year High
A mid-day spike in stocks followed the release of the Fed Beige Book, which showed increased economic activity, strong job growth, and little indication of inflation at the consumer level.
Update: Not only did it hang on, its buddy joined it. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow closed at 4+ year highs. (The Nasdaq is still about 1% shy of its January high.)
Kos Makes a Great Point
Daily Kos on "Censuring the President" reposted here in its entirety.
The following Democratic senators have come out for censuring the president:
Unfortunately, the president being censured was Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush. Because, you know, these senators had their priorities straight.
Indeed, Senator Feingold's failure to land even a single co-sponsor speaks volumes about the defensibility of his asinine maneuver.
What amazes me is Feingold's incredulity that his colleagues are "cowering with this president's numbers so low". It just goes to prove (in case we needed additional proof) that Feingold's move is predicated purely on his reading of the current political temperature, rather than whether or not the President's actions actually merit censure.
Picture of the Day
Debbie Stabenow is possibly the most succinct, self-aware member of the U.S. Senate.
Stabenow's "dangerously incompetent" moment came as she was making a speech to assail the Bush administration over its funding of first responders.
I'm hunting for a transcript... will update when found.
Update: Found - at Michelle's:
Thank you. Mr. President, I rise today to offer an amendment to this will budget resolution that would provide $5 billion for our first responders so that they can effectively and reliably communicate with equipment that can speak to each other, interoperable communications equipment. I regret to say that this administration has been dangerously incompetent in providing homeland security funding, and particularly when we talk about what is happening for our first responders and their ability to communicate...
Mary Katharine Ham watches for a rolling head.
Tim Chapman notes her suit even matches her sign.
Expose the Left has the video.
GOP and College calls for captions and photoshops (mine is below).
Isaac Hayes, long-time voice of Chef on "South Park" and practicing Scientologist, has quit the show because of its parody of Scientology (an episode entitled "Trapped in the Closet") that aired last fall.
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs of others begins," Hayes said in a statement.
"As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."
Fans of the show will remember several amusing - if merciless - religious parodies from the show's archives:
- The Super Best Friends, in which Jesus, Muhammad (who is *gasp* depicted), Krishna, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Lao Tsu, and Moses team up to battle street magician David Blaine (fictionalized as the founder of the Blainetology cult).
- Red Hot Catholic Love, in which the Catholic Church conspires en masse to molest young boys.
- Probably, in which it's conjectured that only Mormons can get into Heaven.
- Jewbilee, in which we learn that Moses is fueled by camp-made macaroni pictures.
- The Spirit of Christmas, the series pilot (now 10 years in the can) which featured a lewd, violent death match between Jesus and Santa Claus
Not to mention Chef's own brand of theology, offered in the episode Kenny Dies:
Stan: Why would God let Kenny die, Chef? Why? Kenny's my friend. Why can't God take someone else's friend?
Chef: Stan, sometimes God takes those closest to us, because it makes him feel better about himself. He is a very vengeful God, Stan. He's all pissed off about something we did thousands of years ago. He just can't get over it, so he doesn't care who he takes. Children, puppies, it don't matter to him, so long as it makes us sad. Do you understand?
Stan: But then, why does God give us anything to start with?
Chef: Well, look at it this way: if you want to make a baby cry, first you give it a lollipop. Then you take it away. If you never give it a lollipop to begin with, then you would have nothin' to cry about. That's like God, who gives us life and love and help just so that he can tear it all away and make us cry, so he can drink the sweet milk of our tears. You see, it's our tears, Stan, that give God his great power.
I would seem that Hayes is not without a sense of humor when it comes to religion. Unless of course it's his religion.
Previously: South Park Conservatives
Elsewhere: GOP Bloggers
John Kerry Figures Out Why He Lost the Election
Waffle king John Kerry apparently lost the 2004 Presidential election because he wasn't trying to "win", per se.
From the Harvard Crimson:
Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, spoke briefly in a meet-and-greet with the Harvard College Democrats after the forum [for the premiere of a documentary on veterans of the war in Iraq].
Kerry said that he had exceeded his goals in every precinct of America in the last election. “That means we have to set bigger goals,” Kerry said, stressing the need for the Democrats to gain control of one of the Houses of Congress.
GOP Bloggers 2008 Straw Poll
It's the GOP Bloggers 2008 Straw Poll!
If you're a Republican, go ahead and tip your hand as to who you plan to support in the primary. If you're a Democrat, go on and indulge yourself. This is your big chance to vote for a winner!
A Fein Mess
Another week, another strip. Please enjoy. This installment's topic was a no-brainer.
Censuring the President - A Retrospective
Note to Russ Feingold: We Already Don't Take You Seriously
House Rejects Iraq Pullout After GOP Forces a Vote
Cast of Characters:
Sen. Russ Feingold
Sen. Bill Frist
Rep. John "Mad" Murtha
Censuring the President - A Retrospective
[Cartoon Update: A Fein Mess]
If you think back to 1998, when we had a President who really did break the law, who really did lie to the American public, who really did earn our collective condemnation and disdain with his deceit and abuse of power, you'll remember that the prospect of Congressional censure of Bill Clinton, first proposed by Senator Trent Lott, was viewed as a potential compromise between exoneration and impeachment.
At that time, the Congress dug through their own archives to try to determine whether or not it was in fact empowered to do such a thing and, if so, what exactly it might mean. The answers, respectively, turned out to be "sort of" and "not much". Nowhere is Congress explicitly empowered to censure the President, but nowhere is it precluded from doing so either. And given the legislature's fondness for symbolic declarations of this or that as good or bad, there would seem to be ample precedent at least to wave their hands and formally disapprove of whatever they feel like disapproving of. But that seemed to be about the extent of it.
Andrew Jackson was censured by the Senate in 1834 for refusing to turn over documents relating to a Presidential veto of legislation to extend the charter of the Bank of the United States (so much precedent pinned on such esoterica). Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party, maintained the Senate had no such power, a contention backed up by the Democrat-controlled House, and later affirmed by the Senate when the Democrats took control of the body in 1836. The Senate expunged Jackson's censure, downgrading it from meaningless and symbolic to retroactively non-existent and perhaps illegitimate.
I guess what I'm trying to say is: Good luck, Senator Feingold. This looks like a winner of an issue.
Further: Feingold's disingenuous and grandstanding motion is available for download here (pdf).
Update: Tim Chapman reports Senator Bill Frist is keen to diffuse the matter promptly by making his colleagues vote now or forever hold their stuntery. Our Senate Majority Leader really does earn his paycheck. Sen. Frist put on his blogger hat to sound off on the situation here, noting, "...while the Democrats flock to the TV cameras to grandstand and play politics with national security, we'll continue to focus on the principle of prevention. And we'll continue to do whatever it takes to protect American lives."
Google Eat World. Google Still Hungry.
Have you tried clicking the Google title banner today? It takes you to Google Mars, a slick new Googlet that overlays the Google Maps service on the red planet.
They don't seem to have gotten around to identifying the street names yet, but you can navigate to a number of named regions, canyons, mountains, spacecraft, etc., using elevation, visible, or infrared mapping.
Good for minutes of entertainment.
Note to Russ Feingold: We Already Don't Take You Seriously
[Cartoon Update: A Fein Mess]
Honestly, Senator Feingold, you've proven yourself enough of a left wing kook that we don't strictly need you going off the deep end like this, in order to ensure no one takes you seriously.
In response to Russ's call to censure the President over the NSA terrorist surveillance program, Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush has offered a countercensure of Senator Feingold. Mark suggets contacting your Senator if you want to throw your weight behind the effort. He's even drawn up some boilerplate countercensure language for your convenience, which includes the following:
On Sunday, March 12, 2006, Senator Russ Feingold called for the censure of President Bush over the NSA signals intelligence program. This is the straw the broke the camel's back. To call for the censure of a President for exercising his Constitutional powers in wartime is just too much. It is despicable, and only serves to encourage the enemy.
I urge you to lead the Senate to censure Senator Feingold so that our troops overseas, and our terrorist enemies, will understand that in no way does Senator Feingold represent the people of the United States of America.
Quoth Feingold, "This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors." Listen, Russ, we know you want to run for President. But take a cue from your party chairman and wait until you're headlong into your primary bid before you unleash your krazy on us.
GOP.com has compiled some of Feingold's finer moments, including his casting the sole vote against the Patriot Act in 2001 and feats of flip-floppery that would make John Kerry blush.