Thanks a Lot, Hamas
I guess it's a good thing we have a sense of humor about tasteless cartoons.
Classy, Hamas. Classy.
Seriously, dude, that was a gift from the French. It's one of the only mementos we have from before we broke up.
A Frightening Tour of Bizarro Washington
"Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don't vote." [pdf]
- George Jean Nathan
President Pelosi urges you to stay home this November...
Fed Letter Day
My love for Chairman Bernanke is really being put to the test. As month after month, economists and traders wait for the Fed to ease its foot off the break, we now know that during the May meeting, Benny and the Govs were considering jamming the breaks even harder.
From the FOMC minutes released this afternoon:
Worried about the potential for inflation to get worse, Federal Reserve policy-makers at their May meeting considered raising a key interest rate by half a percentage point before opting for a quarter-point increase.
Policy-makers mulled these options as they weighed whether it was more likely that the economy would slow given the Fed's previous rate increases or whether soaring energy prices might touch off broader inflation. Then they approved the quarter-point increase, the 16th consecutive hike of its kind.
However, the Fed -- in an unanimous decision -- boosted the federal funds rate by one-quarter percentage point to 5 percent, the highest level in 5 years. The Fed had started the campaign to tighten credit in June 2004.
Not surprisingly, the market didn't love the news and promptly gave up the bulk of the rebound it appeared to be mounting today, somewhat salving the recent selloff.
With the economy sailing very smoothly, and with inflation signals being (using Bernanke's word from within those very minutes) "contained", one would expect the Fed to hone in toward a long-term neutral rate - neither choking growth to stave inflation, nor stoking growth with below-normal lending rates. If they had opted for a half-pointer in May, the Fed Funds rate would already be at 5.25%, much above which it gets harder to make a case for rate neutrality.
Ben, I have every faith you know what you're doing. But you've been working awfully hard. Why don't you take next month off?
Negotiating With Terrorists
Hot Air has the scoop on the apparent U.S. decision to hold direct talks with Iran.
Tough luck for Saddam that he didn’t push his nuke program harder, huh? He might have earned himself some restored diplomatic relations or, if he played his cards right, maybe even a peace treaty.
This sounds like a wholly distressing development, though we're waiting on details from a pending press conference with Condi Rice. Advance word on the prepared remarks suggests such talks will be contingent on Iran suspending uranium enrichment and reprocessing. Do we really expect them to even entertain such an idea or is this part of a diplomatic show of good faith and due process to the international community?
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Rice's statement will be short — about five double space pages — and will lay out an initiative moving forward in the international community's ongoing effort to see that Iran suspends enrichment and the reprocessing activities.
The speech is not going to mark a change in the U.S. position, he said.
I trust we have the next move plotted out once Iran refuses to suspend its disputed activities (or claims suspension but refuses to allow sufficient verification), because that leaves us with the option of either standing firm and walking away from the negotiating table, or buckling and submitting to direct talks despite non-compliance.
Allahpundit considers a thornier possibility - Iran suspends (or claims to suspend) enrichment long enough to get us to the table, then promptly begins again, for their ostensible civilian energy program that has thus far underpinned their need to test fire missiles and shake their fissile ambitions at Israel.
[Rice] already conceded they have the right to do so. On what grounds does she object next time?
Update: Now it's asymmetric terrorist negotiation. According to a UPI report, we're agreeing to take the use of force off the table. This, as our counterpart threatens its neighbors will annihilation and test fires long-range missiles. What then becomes Iran's incentive to play nice if they're guaranteed safety? A less stern talking to?
Class is in Sessions
I was quite certain that every politician has become bogged down in the issue of illegal immigration (versus immigration in general). But Senator Jeff Sessions has great things to say in regards to the Senate immigration bill:
I think we have made some progress actually in making this legislation better since it’s been on the floor. But the flaws are so significant and the issues that are important to immigration have been so little addressed in many key areas that we ought not to go forward. We should pull the bill and get a better one.
He continues making sense:
The bill does nothing to ensure that our nation’s future immigration policy reflects our country’s needs. Developed nations have reformed their immigration policies to prioritize high-skilled immigration over large scale low-skilled and extended family chain migration. This bill prioritizes low-skilled and chain migration over skill-based immigration, an approach we should reject.
Seems like we’ve heard that somewhere before.
If making sense on immigration is not your cup of tea, Senator Obama may be more your speed:
We need to strike a workable bargain with them. They have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty, and abide by all of our laws going forward.
Journalistic David and Goliath Engage in Rhetorical Joust
Elsewhere: Expose the Left has video.
His Name is Henry Paulson
If the Bush administration needed someone to more effectively broadcast the strength and resilience of our tax cut-supercharged economy, they've found him.
Treasury Secretary John Snow has resigned and will be replaced by Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry M. Paulson Jr., a senior administration official said Tuesday, in another chapter of a White House shake-up to revive President Bush's troubled presidency.
Paulson has been chairman of Goldman Sachs for about eight years. It is considered one of the premier financial firms on Wall Street and has sent a number of its top executives to high positions in Washington.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he talked to Paulson on Tuesday morning and praised Bush's selection to be the new Treasury secretary.
"His experience, intelligence and deep understanding of national and global economic issues make him the best pick America could have hoped for," Schumer said. The senator said he would support the nomination.
Conventional speculation held that year 6 of an administration would be tough timing to recruit a preeminent candidate (many eyes were on Commerce Secretary and fellow Texas oil man Don Evans as the best realistic replacement for Snow).
Two predictions: 1) the approval rating (for whatever its worth) of the President's handling of the economy will begin to rise steadily (as well it should), and 2) the media will quickly find themselves newly a-twitter with the word "shake-up".
Update: Yep, just like that
Update: Excerpted from Paulson's remarks from the White House:
Mr. President, thank you for the honor to serve you and our country. During my 32-year career in finance, I have developed a keen appreciation for the role that capital markets play in driving economic growth and efficiency, putting capital behind people and ideas. I have witnessed and participated in the globalization of finance as major economies around the world have become increasingly interdependent. Of course, the whole world is dependent upon the U.S. economy as a major engine of its growth. And our economy's strength is rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit and the competitive zeal of the American people, and in our free and open market. It is truly a marvel, but we cannot take it for granted. We must take steps to maintain our competitive edge in the world.
The full text of the remarks made by Paulson, the President, and outgoing Secretary John Snow are available in the extended entry.
The White House
May 30, 2006
THE PRESIDENT: "Good morning. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to announce that I will nominate Henry Paulson to be the Secretary of the Treasury.
"The past eight years, Hank has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Goldman Sachs Group. It's one of the most respected firms on Wall Street. He has a lifetime of business experience; he has an intimate knowledge of financial markets and an ability to explain economic issues in clear terms. He's earned a reputation for candor and integrity. And when he is confirmed by the Senate, he'll be a superb addition to my Cabinet.
"The Secretary of the Treasury has one of the most important jobs in the Federal government. The Treasury Secretary is responsible for recommending and implementing policies dealing with taxes, financial markets, Federal spending, trade and other issues affecting the health and competitiveness of the American economy. The Treasury Secretary oversees the minting of U.S. currency, the management of public finances, and the enforcement of important laws, including our efforts to crack down on terrorist financing. The Treasury Secretary is the leading force on my economic team and the chief spokesman for my economic policies.
"For the past three years, Secretary John Snow has shown strong leadership in carrying out these responsibilities. John answered the call to public service in a time of uncertainty for our economy, and under his leadership, we have seen a broad and vigorous economic resurgence. He's been a steady advocate for small business entrepreneurs and working families, and he's helped deliver jobs and opportunity for the American people. I appreciate his years of service to our country. I wish you, John, and your family, all the very best.
"When he's confirmed by the Senate, Hank will build on John's fine work. He takes this new post at a hopeful time for American businesses and workers. In the first quarter of 2006, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 5.3 percent, the fastest growth in two-and-a-half years. We added 5.2 million new jobs since August of 2003. The national unemployment rate is down to 4.7 percent. Productivity is high, and that's leading to higher wages and a higher standard of living for the American people. Hourly compensation grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the first quarter this year.
"The American economy is powerful, productive and prosperous, and I look forward to working with Hank Paulson to keep it that way. As Treasury Secretary, Hank will be my principal advisor on the broad range of domestic and international economic issues that affect the well-being of all Americans. Hank shares my philosophy that the economy prospers when we trust the American people to save, spend and invest their money as they see fit.
"The tax relief we delivered has helped set off the economic expansion that we're seeing today. And one of Hank's most important responsibilities will be to build on this success by working with Congress to maintain a pro-growth, low-tax environment.
"Hank also understands that the government should spend the taxpayers' money wisely or not at all. He will work closely with Congress to help restrain the spending appetite of the Federal government and keep us on track to meet our goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009.
"Hank will also be an important representative of the United States on the international scene. As an investment banker, he understands the importance of opening new markets for American exports. He will insist on fair treatment for American businesses, workers and farmers. He will help ensure that our trading partners play by the rules, respect intellectual property rights, and maintain flexible, market-based exchange rates for their currencies.
"To all these tasks, Hank brings a record of achievement and excellence. He grew up on a farm in Illinois. He went to college at Dartmouth. He starred on the field as an all-Ivy football player and in the classroom as a Phi Beta Kappa student. He earned an MBA from Harvard. He served in the Pentagon and here at the White House. He started at Goldman Sachs in 1974, and rose to its top office after 24 years of distinguished work at the firm. He has a lifelong passion for nature, and he's served as Chairman of the Nature Conservancy, where he has promoted conservation both at home and abroad.
"As one of America's most prominent business executives, Hank has been a strong and consistent voice for corporate accountability. When the corporate scandals broke, Hank showed his leadership and character by calling for reforms that would strengthen the way America's public companies are governed and improve their accounting practices. And as Treasury Secretary, Hank will bring those high standards to one of the most important posts in Washington.
"I want to thank Hank for his willingness to leave one of the most rewarding jobs on Wall Street to serve the American people. Hank will follow in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton and other distinguished Treasury Secretaries who used their talents and wisdom to strengthen our financial markets and expand the reach of the American Dream.
"Hank is going to make an outstanding Secretary of the Treasury. And I call on the United States Senate to promptly confirm him."
Remarks By Treasury Secretary John Snow
"Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you very much for those gracious words. I appreciate that. That means a lot.
"Let me say first, it's been a great honor, a terrific honor to serve as the 73rd Secretary of the Treasury, and I will always be grateful to you for the opportunity you gave me. But as you know, I've looked forward for some time to returning to private life, and I do so with a great sense of satisfaction in what has been accomplished over the last three-and-a-half years. The facts are in: Your economic policies have put the American economy on a strong, upward path. And I've been pleased to have had a part in working with you to advance those policies.
"The American economy today is growing and expanding at a rate well above the rest of the industrialized world. Businesses are investing, productivity growth is strong, and millions of new jobs have been created with rising wages. The foundation for continued prosperity is well in place.
"Mr. President, at a critical time in our country's economic history – and you alluded to it – you recognized the need for tax relief to lower the marginal rates on work, risk-taking, savings, and investment. Those policies lie at the heart of the recovery we're now enjoying, a recovery which has also seen a dramatic increase in Federal revenues. That surge in government receipts, along with the strict control on spending that you've advocated, are putting us on a path to not only meet your deficit reduction target, but to do so ahead of schedule.
"The real deficit, as you have said often, is the unfunded obligations that loom ahead. Because of your leadership we're on a much stronger footing today to address those challenges.
"Thanks also to your leadership, the Treasury Department today is in the forefront of the War on Terror, using the authorities at our disposal to identify and disrupt terrorists and their funding activities and following the financial trail they leave. Terrorists are motivated by hatred, but they carry on their evil activities with money. By going after the money, and using the authorities that you have made possible at Treasury, we're playing a key role in the War on Terror.
"Let me say it's been a great honor, indeed, to work with the extraordinary and able, dedicated people of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. They reflect the very best traditions of public service, and I will forever be grateful to them for their support.
"Mr. President, in Hank Paulson, you've made a superb choice to lead the Treasury Department. He's an old friend, somebody I've admired and respected and worked with over the years. He's a proven executive with wide-ranging business and financial experience, combined with a keen sense of public service. Hank will be a great addition to your administration.
"In closing, thank you again, Mr. President, for your support. As I prepare to take my leave, I wish you all the best in the years to come as you lead this great country. As always, you will have my full support."
Remarks By Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
"Mr. President, thank you for the honor to serve you and our country. During my 32-year career in finance, I have developed a keen appreciation for the role that capital markets play in driving economic growth and efficiency, putting capital behind people and ideas. I have witnessed and participated in the globalization of finance as major economies around the world have become increasingly interdependent. Of course, the whole world is dependent upon the U.S. economy as a major engine of its growth. And our economy's strength is rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit and the competitive zeal of the American people, and in our free and open market. It is truly a marvel, but we cannot take it for granted. We must take steps to maintain our competitive edge in the world.
"Mr. President, if confirmed, I look forward to working with you, your administration, and the Congress to help keep the American economy strong and competitive.
"Let me also say, I'm also very, very grateful to my family for their understanding and for their support. Thank you."
Biography Of Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Mr. Paulson has been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., since May 1999, and a director since August 1998. He was Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer or Co-Chief Executive Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, L.P., from June 1998 to May 1999, and served as Chief Operating Officer from December 1994 to June 1998. Mr. Paulson is not on the board of any public company other than Goldman Sachs. He is currently the Chairman of the Financial Services Forum. He is affiliated with certain non-profit organizations, including as a member of the Board of Directors of Catalyst. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy, Co-Chairman of the Asia/Pacific Council of The Nature Conservancy and Chairman Emeritus of The Peregrine Fund, Inc.
Michelle Malkin has a Memorial Day roundup, along with the latest on the Haditha incident
Power Line has a podcast
Memorial Dat Vent at Hot Air
Super Fun Power Hour, Gateway Pundit, La Shawn Barber, Lorie Byrd
Today's Addition to Your Vocabulary: "Desertification"
Running with the Wrong Crowd
There is now a very good chance that the US has overlooked training a very important group of folks in Iraq, the government itself.
"Iran doesn't claim that they want to obtain a nuclear weapon or a nuclear bomb, so there is no need that we ask them for any guarantee now," Hoshyar Zebari [Iraq's foreign minister] said after meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki.
“Every country has the right to have its nuclear technology, every country like the Islamic Republic or any other country, since it is for peaceful purposes."
"We know that the wise Iranian administration will be able to resolve this issue."
Here’s the deal, Mr. Zebari: the US has put hundreds of thousands of troops in harms way to rid your country of tyranny at a considerable loss of our country’s bravest men and women and done so at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. You are not expected to fall in line with our every wish but we do insist that your government:
1) Quit squabbling and start governing sensibly
2) Assume responsibility for the safety of your country and its citizens, and
3) Act like a responsible member of the international community
A corollary of #3 is that you don’t undermine our foreign policy, especially when Iran has been actively working against coalition efforts and funding the insurgency. Iran is responsible for killing both US and Iraqi troops, members of Iraq’s government, and thousands of innocent civilians.
What is the "wise Iranian administration" doing?
“Iran expressed support for Iraq's national unity government, asked for the release of 72 Iranian inmates held in Iraqi prisons and declared its willingness to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq.”
"Shots" Fired On Capitol Hill -
Continuously updated coverage at Hot Air.
Fox News screenshot courtesy of Expose the Left.
Update: The Rayburn House Office Building has reopened after the alleged gunshots were determined to have been construction noises.
Rep. Jack Kingston's staff (one of whom was taken to the hospital after being shaken up by the event) liveblogged the event from inside Rayburn.
Ken Lay: Guilty on 6 counts of fraud and conspiracy. Maximum sentence: 45 years.
Jeff Skilling: Guilty on 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of insider trading, and 17 counts of fraud and false statements. Maximum sentence: 185 years.
Hoity Toity Phone Owners Rejoice
108 years after the end of the 4-month Spanish-American War, Uncle Sam is finally going to stop levying the telephone luxury tax that was designed to fund that war. You may never notice it, but you pay it every time you settle up with your phone company.
So what kind of relief are we talking about? Estimates peg it at roughly $5 billion per year. Plus, it'll be retroactive for the last three years.
The fiscally confused will bemoan the multi-billion dollar "cost" of this century-overdue tax relief. The enlightened will look to the economic scoreboard for a reminder of the "cost" we're bearing associated with the 2003 investment income tax cuts.
Courtesy of the GOP Conference press office, here's a step-by-step guide to shaking down the IRS for what's yours.
- No immediate action is required by taxpayers.
- Taxpayers can claim refunds of all excise tax they have paid on long distance service over the last three years. Refunds of taxes paid more than three years ago are generally barred by the statute of limitations.
- The refund will not include tax paid on local telephone service. Taxes on local service have been about one-third of total collections.
- Taxpayers will claim the refund on their 2006 tax returns filed in 2007.
- The IRS will provide a standard refund amount for individuals to use. The standard refund amount will eliminate the need for taxpayers to spend time digging through old telephone bills.
The IRS is still working to determine the dollar amount for the standard refund. The dollar amount should approximate how much the typical taxpayer paid in tax over the last three years.
- Only individuals will be able to claim the standard refund amount. All taxpayers, including individuals who choose not claim the standard refund amount, may claim a refund based on the actual amount of tax paid. The IRS is developing a new form for taxpayers to file if they choose to claim a refund based on the actual amount paid.
- The IRS will also provide a method for taxpayers who normally are not required to file income tax returns to claim a refund of the tax.
Treasury Secretary John Snow commented, "Today is a good day for American taxpayers; it marks the beginning of the end of an outdated, antiquated tax that has survived a century beyond its original purpose, and by now should have been ancient history.
"The Federal Appeals courts have spoken across the board. It's time to 'disconnect' this tax and put it on the permanent 'do not call' list.
"In addition to ending the litigation, I would like to call on Congress to terminate the remainder of this antique tax by repealing the excise tax on local service as well."
Someone's Been Producing In MY Economy...
The Commerce Department released preliminary 1st quarter GDP growth data this morning, adjusting the previous estimate of 4.8% to an even swifter 5.3%.
This is happy news. Before the release, economists expected the revision to push the number as high as 5.8%. That the revision split the upside difference provides compelling evidence that the economy zoomed out of its 4th quarter slowdown, while mitigating inflation fears more than a figure close to 6% would have.
Not to be outshined by the good news at Commerce, the Labor Department released new jobless claims data this morning, showing a seasonally adjusted 11% plummet from the previous week, with applications down 40,000 to 329,000.
The market's happy. So should you be.
Ugly and Unemployed? Homely and Homeless? Help Is On the Way.
U.S. News offers tips on how to succeed in business without really winning any beauty pageants. I'm not making this up:
It's well known that beautiful people earn more, but what should you do if you're, well, homely?
Poke fun at yourself. For example, a bald person might joke, "I never have a bad hair day." Someone with a big nose might say, "I have a great face for radio."
You're overweight. Of course, it would be helpful if you lost weight, but that's often easier said than done. So for now, avoid tight clothing and, on the other extreme, the muumuu look.
Your face is unattractive. Draw attention elsewhere. A great hairstyle or accessories such as jewelry, scarves, handbags, and shoes can refocus people's gaze.
Consider working alone or with the same people each day. If you've tried everything and still feel your appearance brings you down, you might be more successful in a job where you work alone or with the same group of people each day.
It takes effort to convert yourself from creepy to captivating.
This is horrendous! I suppose these are helpful hints, but it's terribly saddening to think of people reading this, applying it to themselves, shoving their self-esteem a little further into the latrine, and acknowledging that the best course of action is to find a solitary job where people aren't burdened by the sight of their hideous mugs.
There are only so many bell towers, after all.
Iran Test Fires Long Range Civilian Energy Conveyance
Nothing to see here, Great Satan.
Iran conducted a test launch Tuesday night of the Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile... The Shihab test was only "partly successful," according to news reports. The nature of the difficulties was not clear. The Iranians have been working to extend the Shihab 3's current maximum range of 1,300 kilometers. A year ago, they successfully tested a solid fuel motor for the missile.
With a reach already better than 800 miles, Iran could use the Shihab to distribute its civilian energy to any of its regional neighbors, including Israel.
Don't forget they also have nuclear-capable cruise missiles (which do work well) with a range of 1500+ miles, within range of Israel. Cruise missiles are much harder to detect than ballistic missiles, allowing the civilian nuclear energy to just appear on doorsteps.
We Should Close Gitmo, Right?
Yes, I suppose that's right. I suppose that's the thing to do. Wait, I've got a better idea. Let's transfer the whole squad off the base. On second thought... Windward. Let's transfer the whole Windward division off the base. Jon, go on out there and get those boys down off the fence, they're packing their bags.
Get me the President on the phone, we're surrendering our position in Cuba.
Well, maybe we should consider this for a second. Now I'm thinking that your suggestion of closing Guantanamo, while expeditious, and certainly painless, might not be in a manner of speaking, the American way.
World Trade Center Reopens
With minimal fanfare, given the significance of the event, Seven World Trade Center reopened yesterday, 10 stories taller than its predecessor at 7WTC, the last building to collapse on 9/11.
A 57-story steel and glass building with 1.7 million square feet (158,000 sq metres) of office space, 7 World Trade Center was declared open when developer Larry Silverstein cut a blue ribbon after a bright and breezy outdoor ceremony in which schoolchildren and an Irish tenor sang "God Bless America."
"Lots of emotion. It's a very joyous day. This was the last building to go down on 9/11 and the first to come back," said Silverstein.
At $50/square foot, rents in the state-of-the-art skyscraper are below average for comparable buildings in New York, yet the space is said to be less than 20% leased. Silverstein, who obtained a 99-year lease to what's now Ground Zero in July 2001, said he expects the building to be fully leased within a year.
Interestingly, when the Twin Towers were completed in 1973, they too suffered from low occupancy, largely due to the overwhelming capacity (13 million square feet) with which they flooded the market. The resurrection of the rest of the complex (including the 2.6 million square foot Freedom Tower) isn't expected to be finished for another 6 years, at which point perhaps the bulls-eye stigma will have further faded.
We've Got To Move These Refrigerators
Not to mention these color TVs.
Durable goods orders fell off 4.8% in April, according to a report out this morning from the Commerce Department. Wall Street analysts were looking for a 0.5% retreat.
With the equity markets just opening, wait for it... now!, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out (
Dow down about 30 at the open; scratch that, reverse it, all indices now up strong). The big selloff that's plagued the Street for the last couple weeks couple weeks came on the heels of a 1-2-3 inflation punch - the Fed not relaxing its rate hikey tone enough to quell fears of further increases, Bernanke making off-the-cuff remarks to a journalist that seemed to indicate a possibility of indeterminate additional hikes, and a hot CPI number released last week.
This durable goods data (while an extremely volatile measure) may offer a counterpoint to inflation/rate hike fears, perhaps giving the Fed pause sooner rather than later. On the other hand, it may cool people on the sustainability of this period of above-normal GDP growth. In a "data-driven" environment, such signals will sometimes serve as little more than Rorschachian excuses to trade in whichever direction sentiment was already steering.
So far this session, it appears sentiment favors red ink.
Update: The bulls quickly took over.
By the Numbers
Mexican President Vicente Fox is in the US for a few days discussing illegal immigration. A few statistics:
10 Percent of Mexicans living in the US
56 Percent of illegal immigrants that are Mexican
63 Percent of Mexican illegals who haven't finished high school
3,000 Number of immigrants that Mexico grants citizenship annually
500,000 Average number of immigrants the US grants citizenship to annually
$20,000,000,000 Amount of remittances from migrant workers to Mexico
A Picture's Worth 90,000 Dollars
[If you're looking for the August 5, 2008 update to this 2006 story: it's over here.]
In a Suitably Flip exclusive, the following photo, reportedly taken from Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) kitchen countertop, was e-mailed to us on conditions of strict anonymity (not to mention strict parody).
The ethically embattled Congressman is facing federal allegations of accepting a $100,000 cash bribe in exchange for helping Kentucky telecom company iGate do business with foreign countries.
Last August, FBI agents searched Jefferson's home in New Orleans and his home in Washington, D.C. Agents found $90,000 in stacks of $100 bills wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in frozen food containers in the freezer of his D.C. home.
Those bills matched the serial numbers of money stashed in a leather briefcase by law enforcement last July and given to an FBI informant who allegedly handed it over to Jefferson, who then supposedly put the case in a cloth bag, stuffs the bag in a car and then drives the car away.
On the YearlyKos Promo
AllahPundit dissects so you can can snicker and set those eyes rolling without even having to watch the race-baiting, troop-maligning, conspiracy-mongering piffle yourself.
But if you do choose to watch, the video is here.
Alaskan King Tab
Alaska's Senate is suffering from serious brain freeze.
Last night, they voted 15-4 to impose a new escalated tax on oil company profits whenever crude oil is above $50 per barrel.
For every yea vote on this bill, its caster undeniably can be said to exhibit at least one of two characteristics: startling ignorance or shameless pandering.
The escalating tax (allowing Alaska to take a larger and larger bite of oil company profits as energy prices rise, despite contributing no incremental value to the equation) will saddle consumers with an unwelcome burden right when they need it least. This measure ensures that whenever oil is in short supply compared with demand, oil companies will have a diminished incentive to produce it. Invariably (and empirically demonstrably) this will further restrain supply, leading to yet higher prices (and a yet higher tax rate).
Yes, it's a hideous and unmistakably inevitable cycle. All supporters of the bill (and indeed the 4 dissenters, whose qualm was that the new rates weren't high enough!) must either fail to grasp the above sequence of consequences or be willing to inflict these significant ill effects, in hopes of short-term personal political benefit. After all, if you consider high fuel prices from a superficial, emotional perspective, who's to blame? Why, it's the mean old man at the gas pump who takes my money. Punish him, Uncle Sam. Punish him and I'll vote for you again.
That legislators happily pander to this emotionally-driven fundamental misunderstanding is disheartening to say the least. The prospect that some may share in the misunderstanding is downright frightening.
Thankfully, we in New York don't have to worry about passage of a measure escalating oil profit taxes with the price per barrel. We already have it in place.
Why is it so tempting to fight the laws of supply and demand, when we can use them to our advantage? Instead of making it more costly for the suppliers to supply, let's try to increase the supply. Let's lift restrictions on exploration and refinement. Let's lower the cost of doing business for oil companies, so savings can be passed onto consumers.
Oil companies are, after all, rational entities participating in a fiercely competitive marketplace. As a result of that competition, they'll lower prices as far as possible, while still maintaining the return demanded by their equity holders (not evil tycoons and world-dominators, but pension funds and endowments and retirement account holders and you and me and everyone who chooses to hold the shares).
The fact that oil companies experience a lower return on equity than other major industries like financial services and pharmaceuticals is good evidence that it experiences healthy price competition. If cost pressure is taken off the industry by way of tax relief (or lack of tax increases anyway), the incremental savings (lack of incremental costs) will undoubtedly be passed to consumers. Any company failing to do so would immediately find themselves at a price disadvantage and lose significant business.
Free markets. You can't beat 'em. But you can screw your constituents trying.
Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut
Expose the Left has Hannity and Colmes video featuring Professor Steve Almond, the erstwhile Boston College instructor who resigned in protest over the school's decision to invite Secretary of State Condi Rice to deliver the commencement address.
Despite his willingness to trash his own career over a Republican speaker coming to campus, Almond was unwilling to acknowledge voting for Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election.
To be honest, I don’t blame him, who would be proud enough to admit something like that.
Previously at EtL: Almond hangs up on John Gibson
Iran Two Years Away From Nukes
According to Ilan Berman, vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council, Iran will be able to produce nuclear bombs at a rate of two per year as soon as March 2007.
"The timeline is much compressed than what the Washington Post or national intelligence tells you. Five to 10 years -- that's simply not true," said [Berman]. "All the problems with Iran get much, much worse the closer Iran gets to a bomb."
"Diplomatically, I think we're headed for serious problems," Berman said, warning that even if the U.S. moved toward sanctions this autumn, it would be too late to avert Israeli intervention.
That Israeli intervention, Berman told Cybercast News Service, would occur even without support from the U.S. "[The Israelis are] going to bomb. They will take out a few of (Iran's nuclear) sites, not all of them, but some."
Violence in Baghdad, New Jersey
Ah, here we go. The weekly Sopranos post. This episode kicks off with AJ showing us that big sis's moany politics are rubbing off on him. He's carping about his former employer Blockbuster firing him for stealing promotional supplies ("Wallace and Gromit weighed fifty pounds - do you know how many trees died for that?"). So put upon is young Anthony. The man can be cruel.
[Earlier tonight, HBO premiered their new documentary "Baghdad ER". Top notch (if occasionally preachy, largely thanks to the Combat Support Hospital chaplain, though I suppose preaching is in his job description). More on that later.]
Meanwhile, it's time for fake violence.
Hey, here comes the prodigal mafioso, Vito, off the lam and back from New Hampshire. He's sporting a Notre Dame hat, which just moved him up a notch in my book. (I assume that's intended as an ironic juxtaposition of Vito's newly outed status and intolerance in the Catholic church, but I'll just take it as a shout out for the Irish.) I wonder how he's going to try to fold back in, having quit town so abruptly.
Aha, he's playing the "deep cover CIA agent just back from Afghanistan" angle. Shrewd.
Yep, chalk up a point for me in the Spot the Thematic Element game. Phil Leotardo and his wife are now discussing the upcoming meeting of the Concerned Catholic Mothers or some such, and the fact that Father says Vito will be damned if he doesn't renounce his lifestyle.
Well, so much for that plotline. Phil just presided over Vito's fatal beating at the hands of two goons.
From a plot perspective, this could spice things up a bit in the inter-family dynamic. As a Soprano affiliate only by marriage, Phil has been angling to puff out his chest at Tony ever since his blood debt with Tony Blundetto was retired early. With New York boss Johnny Sack now facing 15 years in prison, Phil seems to be loosening the leash a good ways by offing one of Tony's captains without say-so.
And to round things out with another bit of carnage, one of the New York crew just received four kitchen knife jabs to the gut for making gay jokes about Silvio and another of Tony's fellas. Seconds after expiring, his cell phone began ringing the tune "Fur Elise" (German slang for "For a Hot Babe").
Day 3 of Scantblogging
It's the third and final day of the Newark learnfest, so and end to the dearth of new posts is in sight. Not a moment too soon either, as the attendents at the AirTrain station are starting to recognize me. My newly added co-blogger is at a wedding this weekend, so it's been something of a perfect storm of radio silence. Rest assured, by tomorrow, we'll revert to the normal pace of ranting banality you've come to know and tolerate.
Glutton for UnstoopidnessIt's day 2 of CFApalooza and I'm mid-trek back to scenic Newark. I have to say I think I digested more material yesterday than on any previous single day of my life. 6 weeks of study sessions in 8 hours. The only problem is that it jostled out some old knowledge in its violent influx. It feels like macroeconomics. Suddenly, Hillary '08 has a sensible ring to it...
World Trade Center Trailer
The substance and underlying commentary are always wild cards when it comes to Oliver Stone, but judging by the trailer released today, World Trade Center should be a pretty gripping movie.
(Hat tip: Expose the Left)
Under a Gray-Gray Sky
Blogging will be light today as I'm attending a weekend-long review course for the CFA exam in Newark. In fact, this is coming to you via blackberry e-mail from a NJ Transit train, so forgive any typos, terseness, or general malaise. New Jersey is a wonderful state, but something about this town makes it seem dreary even on a sunny day. And today is decidedly unsunny. Everything seems washed out. Colorless and damp. Then again, maybe I'm just projecting the mood set by a weekend filled with 25 hours of class. Anyway, happy Friday, folks! If you see fresh posts during the day, it means I'm not paying attention in class.
The World Gone Mad
My head hurts.
An Inconvenient Field Trip
Hold on to your hats. This just in from Beverly Hills (via Drudge).
Even left coast school kids can't bear the thought of being dragged en masse, in 30 smoke-spewing buses, by a global-warming "obsessed" school teacher, to a screening of Al Gore's super serious and way sciency film "An Inconvenient Truth".
Even if they get in free. And even if it means they get to skip school!
Yes, Al, even when you're fear-mongering, you're that boring. "Can't we just go see 'X-Men'?" one student lamented. I don't blame you, buddy.
The hand-wringing instructor, Sarah Utley, refuses to disclose the secret benefactor financing the outing, though she described the individual as a "very generous alum".
Rob Reiner? Richard Dreyfuss? Angelina Jolie? Jack Abramaoff?
Anyway, if the poor kids do get dragged to this waste of celluloid, they're bound to get barraged with a couple hours of Gore's unique brand of fury juxtaposed with ennui. It's impressive how he can be so inflammatory and so insipid at the same time.
When it comes to Gore's enviro-crusading exploits in the video realm, I'm satisfied with the Futurama episode in which Gore shows up with his Vice Presidential Action Rangers ("a group of top-nerds whose sole duty is to prevent disruptions in the space-time continuum") to save the day. Truly a classic. Even in the year 3000, Gore maintains his ability to fear-monger us within an inch of a nap.
The Da Vinci Crud
I certainly lend no weight to what the Cannes snobberati think of a "film". And I generally take critics' reviews with a grain of salt each. But by almost all accounts, the widely anticipated Da Vinci Code is a steaming pile of the highest order.
I generally prefer to go by IMDb user ratings as a bellweather of my likely enjoyment, but the one critic site that often provides a reliable early indication of the truly spectacular and the truly atrocious is Rotten Tomatoes. They aggregate all available critics' reviews and provide a "Tomatometer" gauge of freshness from 0-100%. The number corresponds to the percentage of critics' reviews that are favorable.
Generally when you see a freshness score above 70% or 80%, you can bet that it's either a great movie that you're bound to enjoy, or it's an "important" movie that critics know will be an Oscar contender and don't want to be on record as hating, no matter how boring it is.
Likewise, when a movie really tanks it on the Tomatometer, you can usually bet the results are well-earned.
Interestingly, despite being so resoudningly "rotten", the critics' average 1-10 scoring was 4.3, suggesting that it's not a remarkably terrible movie, but rather one that just about everyone agrees is fairly cruddy.
I expect I'll still see this movie, as I've always enjoyed the Howard-Hanks pairing. I'm also one of the dozen or so people in the country who didn't read the book; I'm not sure whether that'll enhance or further deteriorate my viewing experience.
The film opens wide Friday. Anyone who sees it, please feel free to submit your reviews and reactions.
Congressional Blog King Lends Throne To Court Members
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), the consummate blogislator, has opened up his site Jack's Blog to his incoming class of summer interns.
In addition to reporting and commenting on their day-to-day activities, the interns will also produce a weekly video podcast, the first installment of which should be out tomorrow. In the mean time, you can read intern Virginia's inaugural post on test-driving hybrid cars (which looks to be the basis of tomorrow's vlog).
Multiple congressman showed up and talked about their support of the bill (HR 4409) which if passed would help start the mass produciton of these cars. The cars can go 100 miles to the gallon, which is amazing especially for those of us who do not have paying jobs
HR 4409 is the bi-partisan Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Kingston and currently enjoying a bi-partisan stable of 72 co-sponsors. The bill has been making the rounds through as many as 5 House committees for the last six months.
Update: Intern Virginia's Journeys With Jack video cast is now available.
Sen. Sessions Offers Border Fence Amendment
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has offered an amendment to S. 2611 which calls for 370 miles of triple-layer fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. The amendment calls for construction of the border fence to begin immediately and for its completion within two years.
View the amendment [pdf].
Update: Senate votes 83-17 in favor of fence.
New York Came In 3rd?!
Here's Your Economy, Sir. Watch Out, The Inflation Is a Little Hot.
Yesterday, I discussed the relative tameness of the newly released wholesale inflation data.
Today, with the release of the retail inflation data, the story is slightly different. Month-over-month core inflation came in at 0.3%, a touch hotter than expectations. The headline number, including food and energy, notched 0.6%, also ahead of forecasts. Year-over-year, core inflation hit 2.3%.
Wall Street is displeased. The market indices are down more than 1%, extending the week-long ugliness, as investors got increasingly nervous that signs of inflation creeping up will encourage the Fed to hike rates at multiple additional meetings. Even Hewlett-Packard's superb quarter wasn't enough to salve the burn of hotter than expected inflation.
As I've said before (and as I was wrong about in re the May meeting), I don't buy that Bernanke will embark on a blindly hawkish campaign to thwart inflation at all costs, including sparking an economic downturn. We know that, in addition to core inflation, he looks carefully at the housing market, which has begun to cool, first in terms of sales volume, then in inventories, and now finally in average prices.
To know when to stop, however, the Fed has to weigh how far they can go without unduly crimping economic activity. Given the Goldilocksishness of our current economy and the brisk pace of GDP growth, this may be harder to pick up on. Since we're starting with such a robust and healthy economy, by the time there are signs of an interest rate-driven slowdown, we may in fact have been unnecessarily restraining growth for months. Oversteering the ship this time around has the potential to derail a sustained period of consistently strong, broad-based economic growth.
(I learned to mix transportation metaphors from Austin Powers.)
Instead, I'm hoping Bernanke will bear in mind the neutral rate school of thought which he was largely expected to espouse during his Fed tenure. Assuming he does, I can't imagine he feels a neutral rate for the fed funds rate would be meaningfully north of the current rate of 5%.
The Fed spooked investors last week with the release of their May policy statement, which seemed to leave open the possibility for an unspecified number of follow-up hikes. Hopefully, we'll get some additional clarity into the FOMC's state of mind with the release of that meeting's minutes at the end of this month.
Previously: Tameish Inflation Numbers
Pentagon 9/11 Video Released
JudicialWatch.com, through a FOIA request, has obtained an as yet unreleased video of American Airlines Flight 77 striking the Pentagon. They will be releasing the video on their website at 1:00 pm.
Tinfoil hat brigade: please report to the video editing room for analysis and report back to us on how this footage was manufactured.
“This is in response to your December 14, 2004 Freedom of Information Act Request, FOIA appeal of March 27, 2005, and complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia,” wrote William Kammer, Chief of the Department of Defense, Office of Freedom of Information. “Now that the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui is over, we are able to complete your request and provide the video…”
“We fought hard to obtain this video because we felt that it was very important to complete the public record with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Finally, we hope that this video will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77. As always, our prayers remain with all those who suffered as a result of those murderous attacks.”
Hat tip: Michelle Malkin
Update: Hot Air is tracking the release and reaction.
Update: The JudicialWatch website is understandably swamped, but Hot Air has also posted the video as aired on Fox News.
Europe: Iran from the fight
Tameish Inflation Numbers
The Producer Price Index (the wholesale inflation gauge) popped up 0.9% in April, but the core number (the less volatile indicator that removes food and energy) was up a smaller than expected 0.1%.
Energy spiked a whopping 4% during the month, but the good news is that high oil prices continue to fail to seep into other price levels.
What's more, the Fed released two important pieces of data today. Industrial capacity reached a 5-year high of 89.1% in April as industrial production rose 0.8% during the month. It's that kind of bristling activity that frequently causes the economy to redline, prompting worrisome inflation. The fact that we're still not seeing it is good news.
Tomorrow, the Labor Department will release the Consumer Price Index, which should yield additional insights into the inflation picture. The markets are watching these figures (in addition to housing sales and the price of precious metals) carefully, as they're expected to be the primary driver of near-term Fed policy.
The seasonally adjusted rate of housing starts hit a 17 month low, which argues for dovish monetary policy, as Fed Chairman Bernanke has indicated that a housing slowdown is one metric he's watching as an important indicator of pushing rate hikes too far.
Ironic Sloths Commit Sins of Wrath and Gluttony
In a Dutch zoo, several sloth bears electrocuted, mauled, and gobbled up a poor little monkey in a clever send-up of Dante's seven deadly sins.
Bears killed and ate a monkey in a Dutch zoo in front of horrified visitors, witnesses and the zoo said Monday. In the incident Sunday at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, several Sloth bears chased the Barbary macaque into an electric fence, where it was stunned.
It recovered and fled onto a wooden structure, where one bear pursued and mauled it to death.
Ignoring attempts by keepers to distract it, the bear climbed onto a horizontal pole, and, standing stretched on two legs, "used its sharp canines to pull the macaque, which was shrieking and resisting, from its perch."
The bear then brought the animal to a concrete den, where three bears ate it.
Following are excerpts from President Bush's televised immigration speech to be delivered this evening at 8:00 eastern.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
ADDRESS TO THE NATION EXCERPTS
As Prepared for Delivery
On the President’s vision for comprehensive immigration reform:
“We are a Nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We are also a Nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals – America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. We will fix the problems created by illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly, and fair.”
On Border Security:
“Since I became President, we have increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and expanded the Border Patrol from about 9,000 to 12,000 agents. . . .we have apprehended and sent home about six million people entering America illegally.
"Despite this progress, we do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that. Tonight I am calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border."
On the Importance of a Temporary Worker Program to relieve pressure on the border:
“The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across."
On enforcing our laws:
“. . . we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility . . .
“A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law – and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place.”
On the President’s opposition to amnesty:
“. . . we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully – and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration."
". . . we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one Nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language.”
On the tone of the debate:
“We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.”
Gardyloo. Now that we're getting down to the brass tacks of amnesty, it's a little disheartening to hear that the President, while ostensibly opposing amnesty, very narrowly defines it as an "automatic path to citizenship". Right, of course no one has an automatic path to citizenship other than children born within our borders. Not legal immigrants, and certainly not illegal immigrants. But shy of automatic citizenship, there's a whole lot of "non-amnesty" amnesty left in play.
Off more than $3 on the day. Delicious.
(Price chart corresponds to Greenwich Mean Time.)
We're Hoping Really Hard, How Come It's Not Coming True?
Michelle Malkin details the
mania dimentia that seized the blogosphere's left hemisphere over the last couple days, based, it would seem, on a wildfire rumor that was just too delicious not to be true, for a room of left-leaning lawyers and politicians (from the Detroit Free Press):
Whatever it was, the news that White House adviser Karl Rove had been indicted for perjury electrified the 700 or so lawyers, judges and elected officials (including featured speakers Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.) gathered at the Dearborn Hyatt Regency for Saturday night's annual banquet of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association.
Until they found out that maybe he hadn't been.
MTLA Vice President Robert Raitt was heading toward the podium to introduce Clinton, the banquet's keynote speaker, when Gerald Acker, a Southfield trial attorney and prominent Democratic fund-raiser, mentioned Rove's indictment.
Sunday, an embarrassed Acker told me he'd passed along the report of Rove's indictment after hearing it from Mark J. Bernstein, an Ann Arbor lawyer whose resume includes a stint in the Bill Clinton White House.
He insisted that simultaneous e-mails reporting Rove's indictment were based on Internet speculation, not unauthorized disclosures of grand jury proceedings.
And yet, good "news" received, moonbats jam their fingers in their ears to ward off any disconfirming data and rejoice. Hillary Clinton was among the hundreds of banquet-goers to leap to their feet to applaud the "development".
GOP Boon or End of the Party?
Either way, Hugh Hewitt is predicting tonight's prime time immigration speech by the President, in which he'll call for National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border, will have far-reaching implications for the cohesion and strength of the party.
Peel split the Tories over corn. Gladstone split the Liberals over Ireland. The Democrats split over the Civil War, and a hundred years later over civil rights, Vietnam and the Soviet threat.
Will the GOP split over border security? The answer will be in tonight's speech, which could be a huge boon for the president and the GOP, but could also be a disaster if the Adminsitration and Beltway experts refuse to take the base seriously.
PoliPundit is less ambivalent.
Tonight at 8 PM Eastern time, George Bush will commit political suicide on prime-time national TV.
His speech tonight will be the most lunk-headed political move ever made by a president of the United States. So be sure to watch; it’ll be one for the history books.
I'm not a line toer on Bush's immigration proposal. But while I disagree with the policy, the politics of tonight's address are more difficult to gauge (for me, anyway). Whenever there are cross-party and intra-party factions with complex overlapping and conflicting allegiances, to their wallets, their heritage, their parties, etc., I give the benefit of the doubt to the [unindicted] Architect when it comes to the political dynamics.
Hillary and Company had good reason to cheer when they thought Rove had been indicted. Taking him out of the picture would not be simply an emotional win for Democrats. The Bush-Rove machine is 5 for 5 and we have yet to see any evidence of it losing its efficacy when election days roll around.
So while I'm unhappy with Bush's take on immigration reform, I don't share Poli's fatalism or even Hewitt's ambivalence about the prospect of a party-wide chasm or Bush donning the political noose as a result of tonight's address.
More Sopranos Family Politics
Line of the night:
Tony: Dick Cheney for President. Of the f***ing universe.
Other than that, a very Janice-heavy episode. Between Artie, Christopher, and now Janice, this certainly is shaping up to be a season of swan songs.
Bloggerati Comes to NYC
Tomorrow, the gilt edges of the blogosphere will convene in New York for the Personal Democracy Forum, to discuss the "latest cutting-edge developments in political technology".
Tech icon... er, gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer will keynote, for some reason. But it's later in the program that things should get interesting (and relevant). David All, from Congressional Blog King Jack Kingston's office, and Mary Katherine Ham of HughHewitt.com and Townhall.com will serve on the "To Blog or Not to Blog" panel. En route, Mary Katherine offered a pre-game post from aboard a taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak train.
I'm on my way to New York City for the Personal Democracy Forum - a conference for a bunch of people who care enough about how the Internet and blogs and podcasting and the like are affecting politics and society that they travel to various destinations over weekends just to talk about it. I have become one of those people.
Hey, me too. The Amtrak processed turkey sandwich is still repeating on me.
Stop snickering. This is really important stuff. Plus, I can go to conferences like this and report back to you, and be dyed blue or whatever it is that various lefty attendees decide to put me through, so that you don't have to.
Other panels include "Online Political Advertising", "TxtMessaging and Mobile Politics", and "Is Online Video More Powerful Than TV Ads?" If you're in the area, tickets can be bought Monday morning.
Happy Mother's Day!
What do unconditional love, your good manners, and your mitochondrial DNA all have in common?
That's right, they all come from your mother.
...and make sure to hug a feral child today, as they're bound to be feeling more out of place than usual.
Border-ing on Ridiculous
As far as I’m concerned, the immigration debate is heading in the wrong direction. Somewhere along the way, the debate shifted to focus solely on “illegal” immigration. While this is a certainly a component of the immigration debate, it is only a subset—and not even the most important issue.
Facing economic threats from emerging economic powerhouses, the US must continue to lead the technological charge. Technical research and development has been the recipe for economic growth (e.g., the “internet”). Currently, China and India can only replicate our technological masterpieces because they lack the indigenous expertise to create these wonders. However, that will not always be the case.
Other countries have been outpacing the US in production of engineers and technical professionals (see graphic below from Duke University's "Framing the Engineering Outsourcing Debate"). Every year tens of thousands of US-educated foreign nationals, who have earned technical PhDs in the US, are sent back to their countries of origin because they cannot gain American citizenship. If allowed to stay these intellectuals will undoubtedly contribute to US innovation in such emerging fields as nanotechnology and bioengineering, helping to maintain our top-spot among first world nations. So in the midst of an immigration debate, why not discuss offering US citizenship to every PhD-earning foreign national?
Hey, Remember When I Said "Lockbox" and the World Paid Attention To Me?
Oh, sweet fancy Moses. Al Gore (Gumby himself, not an impersonator) is currently on SNL, giving a pretending-to-be-tongue-in-cheek speech detailing the state of the world in 2006 had he been President for the last 5.5 years. Even while jokingly waxing hyperbolic about how utopic the world would be, he obviously doesn't get that what he's outlining would be monstrously atrocious. "Socialized health care", a tax rate that puts the budget in an "$11 trillion surplus"... is this what Democratic dreams are made of?
Waiting for tomorrow when Expose the Left will hopefully have video available.
Update: As Dickey commented, Gore appeared again later in the show on Weekend Update, "debating" whether global warming was bad or awesome. He even brought a picture of a frozen lake that's not frozen anymore. It was obviously quite mortifying and it really opened my eyes. If only Gore were President.
Update: Ian's got the video.