I Am Not John Spencer
The only Republican statewide political candidate in New York I haven't met or campaigned with this season is John Spencer. Not for any particular reason - I guess he just hasn't spent much time in Manhattan. But despite the decades that separate our ages, Hillary's challenger is by far the candidate I'm most often confused with. Tonight is no exception. I'm submitting this post by Blackberry while campaigning on East 67th Street and I've already had the first dopplespencer of the evening. It invariably follows the same form: "You're running for State Senate? How come I haven't heard of you before? Anyway, good luck beating Hillary. She's a tough opponent.". Depending on whether it's a misinformed Republican or Democrat, the final line as the confused voter walks away is always either one of awed appreciation or disgusted vitriol. Tonight, the latter...
Cable News Killed the Vlogging Star
Or something like that.
Anyway, Mary Katherine makes an auspicious debut on CNN.
Topic? Attack ads: discuss.
Nonthrax Shuts Down Bubba's Office Again
Someone's got too much time (and flour) on their hands.
Former President Bill Clinton’s Harlem office was shut down yesterday afternoon after a woman in the office opened a letter and a suspicious white powder spilled out, the police said.
The substance was later found to be nontoxic, but its discovery led the authorities to evacuate two floors of the building, at 55 West 125th Street, and to decontaminate several workers in the office. Mr. Clinton was not there at the time the substance was found. The police said the letter included a “rambling diatribe.”
It was the third time since 2001 that a letter containing a mysterious but nontoxic substance had been sent to Mr. Clinton’s office, the police said. The previous substance was determined to be flour, but it was unclear last night what the latest substance was and whether the incident was connected to the previous two.
Gathering Consensus on Alan Hevesi
Embattled New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi may have more than Republican challenger Chris Callaghan to contend with this fall.
Governor Pataki has just flown back from Hungary in order to make a decision on whether to initiate impeachment proceedings, which would require a 2/3 vote in the State Senate. The state Ethics Commission recently released a report finding that Hevesi knowingly and intentionally violated the law and the public trust by using taxpayer money to fund years of chauffeur services for his wife.
Even if Pataki does send the matter to the legislature for impeachment, we're not likely to hear from sitting lawmakers before Election Day.
As a candidate for State Senate, I've called together a group of interested bloggers to petition their own State Senators (and to encourage their readers to do likewise) for their intent to support or resist impeachment.
I'll be compiling the results and a list of participating blogs on the campaign site. If you live in New York State and you want to know whether your State Senator plans to root out blatant corruption or look the other way, call and e-mail his or her office and demand to know.
And then let me know so we can kep a true count.
I've sent an introductory e-mail to each Senator's office to make sure they're all aware we're awaiting their answers.
So far, the tally is:
Planning to support impeachment: 0
Planning to resist impeachment: 0
Not yet responded: 61
Refused to answer: 1
(2/3 Majority: 42)
Individual responses will be reprinted at the campaign site.
Terrorists Threaten Oil Assets
Top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia said on Friday it was taking measures to protect its oil and economic installations from a "terrorist threat".
Western naval forces in the Gulf have been deployed to counter a possible seaborne threat to its Ras Tanura oil terminal.
"The terrorist threat to the kingdom's economic installation exists and it is a declared goal of the straying faction to affect the interests of the Saudi citizen," an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
Oil futures traders were unimpressed.
Crude oil futures fell Friday, backing off gains they made following reports of a terror alert in the Gulf region.
Traders said speculation in the market was that prices would climb, with winter demand for heating oil and natural gas expected to buoy energy prices in coming months, but that a stream of price-positive news is needed to lift prices higher.
The Finest Campaign Ad I've Seen All Season
(Hat tip: Urban Elephants)
Coke's Secret Formula Bandits Plead Guilty
The two men accused of plotting with a secretary at Coca-Cola Co. to steal trade secrets from the world's biggest soft drink maker and trying to sell them to archrival PepsiCo Inc. each pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy.
Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney both could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when they're sentenced Jan. 29.
The alleged plans were foiled [curses!] after Pepsi, based in Purchase, N.Y., warned Coca-Cola.
The prosecution says a box containing two undisclosed Coca-Cola product samples and other confidential company documents was found in Duhaney's home during a search on July 5, the day all three were arrested and the same day a $1.5 million transaction was to occur.
Market Pushes Higher, Threatens To Prove Me Right
Up, up, and away once again into fresh record intraday territory for the Dow.
At better that 12,100, I'd say we're now in feasible striking distance of my year-end prediction of 12,800. Yes, it was a brash and saucy call, given that the Dow was floundering at a mere 10,700 at when I made it 9.5 months ago, but we've already gained 13% year-to-date and we need less than 6% more to fulfill the prophecy.
So what needs to go right between now and 12/31 to prove me prescient?
- Oil keeps tanking.
- The Fed stands pat on Wednesday and doesn't spooky-up its rhetoric on a possible looming rate hike.
- 3rd Quarter earnings season continues to bring in happy returns.
- No late-season hurricanes cause trouble.
- The GOP maintains control of both houses of Congress, prompting Wall Street to celebrate with a 1-2% upside move.
- Preliminary holiday shopping figures surprise to the upside (currently forecast to grow by 5% over last year).
If we go at least 5 for 6 on the above, I say we get there.
OPEC Swings Away, Whiffs Huge
Even with Saudi Arabia's blessing, OPEC's decision today to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day (larger than the 1 million barrel reduction anticipated) failed to have its intended effect.
Oil prices fell to an 11-month low on Friday in a sign that energy traders have doubts about OPEC's willingness to carry out a 4 percent production cut. Crude-oil futures traded below $57 a barrel.
The Timeless Art of Misdirection
Two curious developments out of the nuclearized 4th world today.
On the one hand, Kim Jong Il says he "regrets" his nuclear test, that he doesn't have plans for another one, and that he'll return to the six party talks if we'll lift financial sanctions.
On the other hand, a North Korean ship used to transport military equipment is on the move, being tracked by the U.S. Navy.
The ship, which sailed from a port near the capital of Pyongyang, has been known in the past to carry military equipment.
A sanctions resolution adopted Saturday by the U.N. Security Council bars North Korea from supplying nuclear supplies or military equipment to any other nation.
For the first time ever, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 12,000 today. 12,011.73 to be exact.
That's nearly 5,000 points above its 2002 low - and it's no coincidence.
Bear this in mind on November 7th.
If Democrats retake the House, the new Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and the new Speaker of the House will be people who have made it clear they intend to kill the very tax cut that irrefutably enabled the surge in business activity that led to this period of tremendous growth.
Life Imitating [Cruddy] Art
Actor Wesley Snipes, whose once-hot career has been undermined by personal and financial problems, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Florida on charges of attempting to bilk the federal government out of almost $12 million by filing false tax refund claims.
The eight-count indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Tampa also alleges that the star has not filed a return since 1999. Snipes, 42, could face as many as 16 years in prison.
U.S. Atty. Paul I. Perez said at a news conference that authorities did not know Snipes' whereabouts. The 44-year-old actor has a home outside Orlando, Fla. Calls to his home and his manager were not returned.
If Snipes is on the run, he may do better to channel his earlier role as fleet-footed Willie Mays Hayes.
North Korea Isn't Planning Another Nuclear Test After All
It's planning three!
(Hat tip: Drudge)
North Korea has informed China that it is prepared to conduct "as many as three additional tests" following the first nuclear experiment Oct. 9, CNN television reported Wednesday.
Quoting U.S. intelligence analysts and officials, CNN and Fox News said U.S. spy satellites have detected activities which could be preparations for nuclear explosion tests at three North Korean sites.
CNN also said that latest U.S. intelligence show that North Korea's missile sites remain at a "very high state of readiness," and Pyongyang could use them "in the next several days."
The Namesake Flimflam
Contrary to previous accounts, I was not in fact named after rapper Lil' Flip. After being made aware that the "Freestyle King" was born five years after me, I realized the story no longer held water.
Well, we all make mistakes,
(Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin)
Greedy Oil Conglomerate Conspires To Bilk Consumers
Not Exxon Mobil. Not ConocoPhillips. Not BP or Chevron.
Oil prices climbed to $60 a barrel Monday as producer group OPEC prepared for an emergency meeting this week to finalize an agreement to cut crude output.
The deal to reduce global oil supplies would come just as the United States, the world's largest energy consumer, enters the high-demand winter heating season.
Update your Reuters-to-English dictionary: Producer group = Cartel.
Matthews, Williams, Levinson Disavow Occam
On Hardball's special Georgetown edition tonight, Chris Matthews and his two guests Robin Williams and producer Barry Levinson (Man of the Year; Good Morning, Vietnam) collectively pondered the reason why John Kerry lost in 2004.
The fact that early exit polls were inaccurate predictors of the eventual outcome seems to have convinced them that there must've been problems with electronic voting machines, their evil robotic innards presumably conspiring to re-elect the President by misstating the vote tallies. It apparently hasn't occurred to them that a far simpler explanation might be that media outlets conducting the early exit polling could've - intentionally or otherwise - skewed their findings by virtue of their polling methodologies.
Hawaii Quakes Trigger Wee Tsunami
A magnitude 6.6 earthquake shook the Big Island of Hawaii today, followed by dozens of aftershocks. No fatalities are reported, but roads and buildings have been damaged, the power is out across Oahu, and Honolulu International Airport has been closed.
On Fox News, Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake did trigger a tsunami... a precious little 4" one.
Fryer indicated it would likely take a magnitude 7-7.5 quake for the center to sound a broad tsunami warning. If memory of grade school science serves, the Richter scale is logarithmic, so a 7.5 would be nearly 10x as big as today's quake.
Still, one shakee characterized today's event as feeling like "King Kong shaking your house back and forth."
With Sanctions Like These, Who Needs Appeasement?
So the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously in favor of sanctions for North Korea, classifying its nuclear test as a "clear threat to international peace and security". The U.S., the Brits, and the French grappled with the Russian and Chinese appeasocrats until a sufficiently toothless compromise was hammered out.
The resolution demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but expressly rules out military action against the country — a demand by the Russians and Chinese. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton warned Pyongyang, however, that if it continues pursuing nuclear weapons, the United States would seek further measures.
The resolution bans the import or export of material and equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. It orders all countries to freeze the assets and ban travel for anyone engaged in supporting North Korea's weapons programs.
To meet Russian and Chinese concerns, the Americans eliminated a complete ban on the sale of conventional weapons.
Translated into parenting terms, the resolution reads, "You're grounded for threatening to kill your siblings. But so help us, this is the worst thing we're going to do to you if you keep it up. Here's a box of grenades."
And the acquiescence continues.
...China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said after the vote that the provision allowing the boarding of ships to inspect cargo was still unacceptable to Beijing.
Unanimity is nice and all, but maybe 15 chefs is two too many to get anything meaningful passed if we demand a perfect score. Is it stronger to be 13-2 on a measure of substance or unanimously behind mere ephemera? Besides, what does unanimity buy you, other than accusations of unilateralism? I can't help remembering another resolution unanimously passed by the Security Council four years ago, following similar defanging at the hands of Monsieur Chirac.
Mary Katherine and Hot Air have more.
Do Dems Want to Raise Your Taxes? "No Question About It."
Bryan at Hot Air notes a crystallizing propsective agenda being increasingly voiced by Democratic would-be House leaders and committee chairs.
From today's Washington Times:
Republicans grinned from ear to ear last month when the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel, just about guaranteed tax increases if his party takes over the House after Nov. 7. Asked whether Democrats would consider raising taxes across the whole spectrum of income, Mr. Rangel said, “No question about it.”
The wildly successful 2003 tax cuts that fueled acclerating economic activity (and increased tax revenues, thus reducing the deficit) in the face of heads winds from hurricanes, wars, and high energy prices, are among the peksy pro-growth measures the minority leadership is eager to dispense with.
Just days ago, we were treated to a sneak peak of what lies over that horizon, including a repeal of (or at least a failure to make permanent) this no-brainer economic Miracle-Gro.
For those with strong constitutions, John Gibson further indulges the gloomy fantasy.
Beige Book Appropriately Mealymouthed
The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, its sequimonthly survey of economic conditions among the 12 Fed districts, was released today. Judging the book by its cover might lead one to assume its contents to be bland and fuzzy. This month-and-a-half, one would be accurate.
The U.S. economy appeared fragmented into pockets of strength and weakness, but, in general, economic activity continues to expand...Four of the twelve Fed districts reported that growth had firmed in late September and early October, while two districts -- Philadelphia and Dallas -- reporting activity had "cooled."
Other districts reported growth as "moderate or mixed."
It seemed hard to find many national trends in the latest report. For every district that reported strong conditions, other districts reported weakness in the same sector.
If any overarching trends can be teased out of the report, they'd include observations that the residential real estate cooled while the national job market remained strong, with some regions reporting rising wage pressures.
Considering the mixed nature of the report, "the Fed is likely to do nothing" at upcoming meetings, said Kevin Logan, chief U.S. economist at Dresner Kleinwort.
All I can think of when reading these quotes is the Futurama episode in which Earth goes to war with the Neutral Planet.
"All I know is my gut says maybe..."
I believe the Neutrals even went on "beige alert" when under attack.
Aircraft Crashes into Manhattan Building
Details very scant: [Scroll for updates]
NEW YORK (AP) -- Police say an aircraft has crashed into a building on Manhattan's Upper East Side at 72nd Street and York Avenue. It is near Rockefeller Center.
There was no word on casualties.
Video from the scene shows at least three apartments in the high rise fully engulfed in flames.
It's unclear if it was a small plane or a helicopter.
The AP is incorrect about the site being anywhere near Rockefeller Center. It's near Rockefeller University.
More as it emerges.
Update: Norad has scrambled fighters over major U.S. cities as a "prudent measure", but the Justice Department has publicly stated there is every indication that this was an accident.
At least one eyewitness reported the plane was performing aerobatic maneuvers, illegal and idiotic at low altitude over Manhattan, but a description also potentially consistent with a stall or single engine failure.
Officials confirm two deaths. There are reports of additional individuals trapped in floors above the impact site.
Update: Fox News is reporting that local stations have indicated the plane may have been registered to and piloted by Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle. The Yankess have referred inquiries to the FAA. Per Hot Air, reports indicate Lidle's passport was found in the street below the crash site.
Assuming Lidle was the pilot, the tragedy is somewhat eerily reminiscent of the 1979 death of Yankee catcher Thurman Munson.
OPEC Hems, Haws, Oil Falls Further
Oil prices fell slightly on Wednesday as confusion about OPEC's production plans persisted.
The president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Nigerian oil minister Edmund Daukoru, says there is an agreement to cut production by 1 million barrels a day starting next month.
But Saudi Arabia, the country whose participation is necessary to make any significant output reduction, has not publicly confirmed this.
"The market just doesn't believe" a supply cut is imminent, said Societe Generale's director of commodity strategy Michael Guido.
The decline has surpassed "slight" in afternoon trading, with crude futures off better than 1% today, trading below $58 per barrel.
First American Treason Charge in 54 Years
Exciting. Not even the Rosenbergs were charged with treason (that was espionage).
For the first time in more than 50 years, federal prosecutors are preparing to charge an American citizen with treason.
Barring any last-minute complications, the charges will be filed Wednesday against Adam Gadahn, the American who has appeared in at least four al-Qaida videos, the most recent one in September.
Treason is the only crime specified in the Constitution and requires either confession in open court or the testimony of at least two witnesses to get a conviction. Prosecutors believe that with millions of witnesses to his videos, they have enough proof, but the decision will be controversial, given that so little is known about the circumstances of the videos.
Even the previous chap, Tomoya Kawakita in 1952, gets an asterisk in my book due to his dual U.S./Japanese citizenship and the retroactive kid gloves we pawed at him with. While sentenced to death for his torture of American POWs in World War II, Eisenhower commuted the sentence to life in prison, then Kennedy pardoned him and sent him back to Japan.
Kawakita joined a long tradition of pardoned or paroled treasonists (treaseurs?), including Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose. It appears we may not have performed an execution based on a treason conviction since 1859.
If history's any guide, Gadahn's best bet for dying of natural causes may be to turn himself in.
More at Hot air.
Crazies of the World Unite
Apologies for the unannounced absence over the last few days. The campaign schedule (*plug*) has kept me pretty well sidelined lately.
Poor timing, given the spate of recent developments along the Axis of Evil. In the wake of widespread condemnation of North Korea's apparent nuclear test, our buddy Aquavelvajad had determined the incident was - you guessed it - America's fault.
Iranian state radio Monday blamed North Korea's reported nuclear test on U.S. pressure, accusing Washington of "humiliating" the impoverished communist country.
"Not only did the United States not lift the sanctions it had imposed on North Korea, it even increased the diplomatic pressure. Such pressure finally led North Korea to conduct its nuclear test," Iranian state radio said in a commentary.
"North Korea's nuclear test was a reaction to America's threats and humiliation," it said.
17 April, 2000
North Korea's nuclear production capacity will increase from a dozen nuclear bombs a year to 65 a year by 2010, thanks in large part to American taxpayer money, two renowned U.S. nuclear scientists told congressional leaders last week.
North Korea observers have long suspected the communist dictatorship is using Western humanitarian aid to starving North Koreans to feed Kim Jong Il's million-man army.
But an aid policy initiated by the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s to finance two light water nuclear reactors in North Korea puts the isolated communist country on the fast track in the manufacture of nuclear weapons, William R. Graham and Victor Gilinsky told members of the House Policy Committee.
North Korea's missile proliferation has accelerated dramatically since the Clinton-Gore administration began giving aid to the regime in 1994.
Unemployment Falls to 4.6%
In a letter Monday, Mexican President Vicente Fox urged President Bush to veto the proposal that would establish 700 miles of fencing along part of the US-Mexico border. According to Fox:
This decision hurts bilateral relations, goes against the spirit of cooperation needed to guarantee security on the common border, creates a climate of tension in border communities.
US national security is a unilateral issue not a bilateral one. American citizens depend on and expect their government to control the people entering this country. A “spirit of cooperation” may be needed to secure the border but currently there is only one-sided cooperation, that is, the vast majority of cost and effort put into meaningfully protecting the southern border is shouldered by the United States.
Lastly, not building a fence in order to avoid “a climate of tension in border communities” would be ludicrous. Residents of border towns constitute an infinitesimally small number of national security stakeholders. Accordingly, border town relations will not drive any portion of America’s domestic security policy.
I hope that Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderon has a more pragmatic approach to border security than his predecessor does.
Thrillride on Wall Street
Update: And we did!
Venezuela Rattles Its Oil Saber. U.S. Markets Unimpressed.
Venezuela initiated what it likely thought would be a round of good wholesome cartel collusion on Friday, vowing to cut oil production by 50,000 barrels per day in order to prop up the falling price of crude oil.
What happened? Prices plummeted all day today. Down more than 3% and still sinking. So the price per barrel is falling AND you'll be producing fewer barrels? That's a double whammy for you, Hugo.
While there was speculation the other 10 OPEC members would follow suit with similar production cuts, only Nigeria did so, identifying the move as a normal seasonal reduction.
Surprise! It's October.
It's not altogether surprising that the young month of October has already proven so surprise-heavy on the political front. 'Tis the season to sway electoral fortunes.
Bob Woodward's new condemnation of the prosecution of the War on Terror is one notable example of a savvily-timed salvo. The new month was also ushered in by the sick details of former Congressman Mark Foley's (R-FL) abusive perversions toward teenage subordinates.
I'm normally a great skeptic when it comes to "questioning the timing" of news releases. If we capture Osama a week before the election, I'm sure some on the left will declare we've had him in a cage for months, and I'll pull at least one ocular muscle rolling my eyes. Likewise, any story that's true (not "fake but accurate" but "accurate accurate") doesn't become any less true, just because its dissemination may be timed according to ulterior purposes.
Thus if there's a good old-fashioned media-hunt to be taken up here, let's offer the prebuttal that deliberately partisan, agenda-driven reporting on this story doesn't make it less true or less gross, nor does it mitigate Foley's actions. But it could make for a good opportunity to shine a light on the deliberately partisan, agenda-driven nature of those doing the reporting.
--- End Prebuttal ---
With that in mind, this blog has learned from a source on Capitol Hill that he was told directly by reporters from ABC News, The Washington Post, and The St. Petersburg Times that these three news outlets have known about the Foley story since last year. [Scroll for important updates]
Since any reporter would know this story was meaningful enough to compel the appropriate ouster of a sitting member of Congress, I'm hard pressed to think of a valid reason to sit on it. Not only is the news value undeniable, but the potentially devastating effects of holding it back were easily forseeable. How many more pages were abused by Foley while the media bided its time?
It's also been alleged that Speaker Hastert and/or other Republican House leaders knew about the story some months ago, but Hastert contends that the only messages made aware to him (while "overly friendly") were not of the explicit sexual nature of the conversations reported on this week.
Details about who knew what when will likely continue to take shape, but anyone who was aware of the true nature of what Foley was doing and chose to hold it back for political purposes needs to take a good, hard look in the mirror.
Update: Some points of clarification starting to fill in, courtesy of a Hotline timeline.
Update: Call off the hunt (the media hunt anyway). *Shoves hands in pockets and kicks at some dust* I'm told the original contentions have faded away. But I renew the assertion that anyone (whether elected official, journalist, or other) sat on the story for political gain, knowing the depths of ongoing depravity involved, they'll rightfully encounter an unforgiving public when it comes to light.
Update: Hot Air's got footage of Tony Snow commenting on his own comments given earlier today on the whole sordid affair.
Colorado's Pseudo-Terror Spree
A letter with a granular substance was sent to the Colorado History Museum on Wednesday morning, mimicking four other letters sent to state offices this week, Denver fire Lt. Phil Champagne said.
The substance found inside the envelope was probably sugar or an artificial sweetener, he said.
About 100 employees at the museum, 1300 Broadway, left the building on their own before firefighters arrived to examine the substance.
The letter also contained threats, as did the four letters sent to three downtown offices and the Colorado Department of Agriculture building in Lakewood.
RICO, Patriot Act. Patriot Act, RICO.
The FBI is looking into the possibility that terrorists may work with domestic organized crime syndicates, to source weapons and to facilitate services like money laundering, human smuggling, and identification fraud.
Though there is no direct evidence yet of organized crime collaborating with terrorists, the first hints of a connection surfaced in a recent undercover FBI operation. Agents stopped a man with alleged mob ties from selling missiles to an informant posing as a terrorist middleman.
That case and other factors are heightening concerns about a real-life episode of the Sopranos teaming with Osama bin Laden's followers.
"We are continuing to look for a nexus," said Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI's top counterterrorism official. "We are looking at this very aggressively."
All mob-trouncers in line for the 2008 Presidential nomination please move a step forward.