Gravel for President
If we were to embrace the cold, clammy reality that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama is going to manage to carry the Democratic nomination, and if we were to suppose ourselves Democratic primary voters, I think we'd be well-served to take another look at former Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK).
I offered Gravel some good-natured chiding during the debate on Thursday (including wondering whether this man, 6 years John McCain's senior, was even aware of his whereabouts as his performance occasionally devolved into nonsensical curmudgeonry), but his appearance on CNBC this morning has inspired me to peer beneath his doddering exterior.
Sure, Gravel wants the U.S. to negotiate with Hamas, and yes, he wants us to abandon almost all of our nukes, and I'll grant you that he supports socialized medicine, and okay, he advocates immediate surrender in Iraq, but that hardly distinguishes him from anyone else among the Dems' new field of pseudo-socialist defeatists.
What does make Gravel more (ahem) middle of the road than his fellow lefty Presidential viers is his refreshingly pro-growth tax policy. I dare say it's more ambitiously pro-growth than plans put forth by any of the mainstream Republican candidates to date. It calls for no less than the wholesale elimination of all corporate and individual income taxes and the institution of a federal sales tax.
On his campaign site, Gravel discusses the benefits of this "Fair Tax" system, where he offers a few obligatory morsels of populist, eco-minded, anti-fat-cat rhetoric to the economic "progressives" that pervade his party's primary voter rolls, but some of the bullets suggest he does truly possess that most basic understanding of the impact of fiscal policy on economic behavior that every other Democrat running seems determined to eschew.
- Creates jobs and economic growth in the U.S. by reducing operating costs to companies.
- Encourages international investment in the American economy.
- Makes U.S. goods more competitive overseas and more affordable at home, thereby increasing job creation while reducing our balance of payments deficit.
- Changes the American economy – the largest economic entity in the world – into the largest tax haven in the world, enticing international investments in the American economy. Also creates a level of growth (estimated at 10%) and prosperity that will permit the nation to lower government debt and balance the budget, better finance education, health care, transportation, and the rebuilding of our national infrastructure.
Yes, that's the spot. That's the spot right there. Where did a Democrat learn to talk like that? It's almost spiritual.
It's possible Gravel's always held these rare and praiseworthy views and no one's known about it because, well, he's Mike Gravel and he had less than $500 in his campaign coffers as of the last filing. Anyway, this morning's CNBC interview was the first I'd heard of his wondrous fiscal sensibilities and the interviewers seemed similarly taken aback by such unbridled reason spilling out of a Democrat.
If Gravel wanted to distinguish himself from the progressive herd during last week's debate, he should've hammered this home at every occasion. The other candidates didn't seem overly concerned with answering the actual questions posed, so he probably could've run pretty far with it. Unfortunately, Gravel has been excluded from the New Hampshire Democratic debate being co-hosted by CNN, so he may not get a second bite at that apple, but if ever there were a compelling third-tier candidate Hail Mary issue, this would be it.
So while neither I nor my occasional co-blogger is a registered Democrat, this blog hereby officially endorses Mike Gravel for the Democratic nomination - notwithstanding his many foolish and dangerous foreign and domestic policy positions - as the least of 8 evils.
Paging Dr. Rosie: Did Schwarzenegger Demolish Bay Bridge Interchange?
A gasoline tanker caught fire underneath an offramp from the San Francisco Bay Bridge this morning, causing a 250-foot section of the overpass to collapse. That's what they want you to believe, anyway.
Let's look at the facts in the manner taught us by our nation's foremost civil engineer and demolition expert.
-- The overpass was made of concrete and steel rebar. This would mark only the 4th time in history that fire has melted steel. The first 3 of course trace back to the morning of 9/11, when - the government would have you believe - burning jet fuel miraculously managed to weaken steel to the point of bringing down WTC 1, 2, and most notably, WTC 7, which housed secret WorldCom and Enron e-mails.
-- The collapsed section of the so-called MacArthur Maze, which distributes traffic to and from the Bay Bridge, is said to be "draped like a blanket" over the roadway below (damning images of collapse available here), clearly suggesting a controlled, orderly demolition.
-- The driver of the tanker that caused this catastrophic damage (presumably an employee of an as yet unnamed American oil company) managed to walk away from the crash nearly unscathed and reportedly "hailed a taxi" to flee the scene.
-- Below this roadway is housed "a Caltrans property full of equipment being used to rebuild the Bay Bridge."
-- In 2005, a few months after Governor Schwarzenegger hand-picked a new director of Caltrans, the agency came under a wide-ranging investigation, including FBI subpoenas for documents that Caltrans was conveniently unable to find. Documents, perhaps, that were located in the Caltrans facility directly underneath the miraculously collapsing roadway.
-- To date, Schwarzenegger has been curiously silent about these amazing coincidences, further proof of a cover-up.
-- The collapsed section of the interchange connects the San Francisco Bay Bridge (Interstate 80) to Interstate 580.
-- It's Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution that requires candidates for President to be natural born citizens, rendering Schwarzenegger ineligible.
-- 8+0=8; 5+8+0=13; 8+13=21
-- 580-80=500; 5+0+0=5
-- 21, 5; Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5...
Coincidence? Numbers don't lie.
Okay, aspiring 4/29 Truthers, let's remember the creed.
lets start here
remember 2 breathe
Update: Professor O'Donnell has been holding online office hours to straighten out a few puzzled Americans who naively mistook the collapse of the Bay Bridge interchange as evidence that Rosie might've been wrong to dismiss heat's supposed, magical steel-weakening powers, rather than recognizing the incident as just another conspiratorial abomination brought to you by Dick Cheney, Jeff Skilling, Bernie Ebbers, and Ehud Olmert (Pro Ro's responses in bold).
Did you hear the news about the fiery car wreck in San Fran today?STEEL was MELTED by the intensity of that fire; please rethink the delusional theory of WTC7….
free fall speed
into its own foot print
stay asleep if u want
See, that's what offers us such comfort when we're snuggled tight in our pleasantly intervolved conspiracy logic. Whenever one logical premise based on a lay supposition is invalidated by "actual science", there's always another one we can blindly cling to. Sure, maybe gasoline and jet fuel do theoretically burn hot enough to weaken steel to the point that it loses structural integrity, but Patricia, are you trying to tell me that pulverized concrete - at free fall speed, no less - can descend in an orderly and controlled fashion? Doesn't that at least sound *mildly surprising*? Wake up, Patty. Unless and until several authorities convincingly refute Dr. O's latest dictum that "Rocks Can't Fall Straight", we enlightened few will continue to delight in the grandeur of our independent thinking, thanks.
You owe the Bush Administration a public apology for your fire melting steel claims. The Bay Bridge has proved your ignorance to even the most gullible viewer.
open ur eyes
a bridge vs a 45 story building
Pheh, yeah. Bridge... building. Different things, Skippy. Wake up to the lies.
take a physics class.
Some of us chicks are capable of understanding melting points, weakening steel and collapses causing concrete to turn to dust.
You make us shudder and you encourage chauvenists
and u need to wake up
Seriously, Amy, you're just embarrassing yourself. Trifle us not with your sciency trinkets. Pro Ro has selected the sciency trinkets we'll be focusing on. Just accept the fact that you're wrong and go about your naively obedient, line-toeingly unconscious life.
I Just Flew In From Washington And Boy Am I Glib
Last night I couldn't help but notice how odd it was that the Democratic debaters kept changing the subject each time the questions turned environmental. With the Goracle's pet topic soaring to near-Iraq levels of political significance (and with the Goracle himself absent), why wouldn't any of the candidates want to seize the opportunity to take their own ride on ManBearPig?
A flock of small jets took flight from Washington Thursday, each carrying a Democratic presidential candidate to South Carolina for the first debate of the political season.
No one jet pooled, no one took commercial flights to save money, fuel or emissions.
All but Biden, who flew on a private jet, chartered their flights -- a campaign expense of between $7,500 and $9,000.
Could it be that even among seasoned politicians, a group of 8 people simply can't bring themselves to lecture the world about green living if they've just stepped off 8 private jets, most of which originated in and would return to the same place?
(HT: Matt Margolis)
Dem Debate Derby (Liveblog!)
Tonight at 7:00 pm, the first debate of the 2008 Presidential campaign will air on MSNBC, featuring the polished posturing of no fewer than 8 Democratic candidates.
For purposes of this liveblog, let's try a minor variation of the "debate bingo" format. Below are 15 phrases, gestures, or accents that will likely make their way into the 3 frontrunners' comments early and often. The winner of the Debate Derby will be the candidate who makes his or her way through all of his or her respective checkpoints first. In the unlikely event that none is able to complete the circuit, whichever candidate has made the most progress by the end of the debate will be declared the winner.
Each candidate faces 10 unique and 5 shared checkpoints, their progress through which will be tracked throughout the debate.
Panderers, take your marks...
Pregame: Elizabeth Edwards is currently co-anchoring the MSNBC pre-game show with Chris Matthews (and she's already banged out at least two of the items on her husband's list). So basically this channel has given up even pretending to be objective, right? Try to imagine the furor if FNC had Ann Romney co-anchoring exclusive coverage of a GOP debate.
Pregame: It's just so jarring when Olbermann attempts to wax intellectual. He just used the word "atraditional" (with that every-syllable-emphasis of his) to describe the backgrounds of 4 of the 8 candidates. How about "nontraditional", professor?
7:04 Hillary got close during her first at-bat with "young men and women". Eh, let's give her credit.
7:09 Edwards apparently won't be hitting any of the words on his list, since he's too busy repeating the word "trust" every few seconds.
7:17 Despite being the first candidate to flout the time restrictions, Barack's still coming up empty.
7:22 In a quizzical ramble about hedge funds lifting people up and figuring out how to solve societal ills, Silky Pony gets on the board with "minimum wage".
7:27 Best debate response I've seen in a long time, from Joe Biden. A one-word answer to a loaded, leading yes-or-no question about his verbosity.
7:30 Ugh - Gravel is trying way too hard to be the Robin Williams of the bunch.
7:32 Hillary hits a double with "Universal healthcare" and "Climate change".
7:41 Hillary rolls through another wicket with a question on "Virginia Tech". (What was with her referring to Cho as "the shooter, as he's being called"?)
7:44 I'm being told by the judges that we're also going to give Hillary credit for "My husband" for her reference to "Bill" and "the Clinton Administration".
7:45 Edwards nabs "universal healthcare". Obama failed to grab it, despite laying out his comprehensive plan to socialize American medicine.
7:48 Orf, Hillary's trying to stand on her own shoulders extolling the grandeur of Hillarycare 1.0, blaming the fact that America rejected it on the insurance companies for befouling her majestic plan.
7:53 Mistakes about healthcare and believing the President that he would let the inspectors finish their jobs in Iraq were the two areas Hillary just identified as the biggest political mistakes she's made in the last 4 years.
7:54 On the same question, Edwards identified his Iraq War vote as his biggest mistake in the last 4 years. Can any of these candidates count? I'm sure the question's timeframe was quite deliberate. It's equivalent to asking "What's been your biggest political mistake since the Iraq War began?"
7:58 Edwards is nipping at Hillary's heels now, notching up several "carbon" mentions and a "climate change" to boot, earning him the "global warming" badge.
8:00 Richardson just stole "Apollo-like" from Hillary. She might've gotten a chance to voice it herself, but Richardson was such a time hog, they had to bail on the question.
8:02 I thought Obama was about to give us "Darfur" or "Djibouti" as he danced the "Iraq is a distraction from [fill in the blank]" dance. Interesting that he just recycled his own "neither our enemy nor our ally" line about China. That's what he likes to say about Russia.
8:10 Show-of-hands question: "Do you believe there's such thing as a Global War On Terror?" Only three hands went up (well, plus Gravel's, but it went up late and slow; I'm not sure he knows where he is anymore). The 3 hands belonged to Clinton, Dodd and Richardson. Incredible. Only Kucinich was asked to explain, which he managed to avoid doing.
8:16 Another show-of-hands: "Is anyone willing to join Kucinich in impeaching Cheney?" 0 hands. Denny just pulled out the handy pocket Constitution, which he claims to tote around with him regularly. By a show of hands, who believes him?
8:24 Gore would've cleaned up (no pun intended) if he were part of this spectacle. Two questions in a row about the environment and almost universally, candidates have pivoted and run back to terrorism and Iraq. No one wants to talk about the environment anymore. Obama gave a throwaway about planting trees, then, when Williams suggested he change his answer to lightbulbs, mentioned lightbulbs.
8:26 Ahh, here's the one mildly interesting moment in this nearly pulseless debate. Barack seemed to recognize that Williams is guarding the clock and speaking order sheepishly and began an actual foreign policy back-and-forth with Kucinich, punctuated with a dismissive pat on the head for the daft curmudgeonly Gravel when he tried to chime in about Obama wanting to nuke the world.
8:27 Total ball drop by Edwards. "Who do you consider to be your moral leader?" Long pause, followed by an acknowledgment that he couldn't think of an answer. Then, suddenly... God! Also his wife. Oh and all human beings who have no one to speak for them. Smooth. This man is a wildly successful trial lawyer?
And that pretty much wraps it up.
Hillary wins the Derby, with Edwards coming in a close second. No one wins the debate itself, though Obama probably did the best job performing the way he wanted to. Lay very low, stay away from typical talking points that his opponents would've been prepared to rebut, and throw in a little vim and vigor toward the end, ideally by picking a fight with the nuttiest and most marginalized candidates on the stage. Denny and Gravel fit that bill nicely.
No, I Mentioned the Bisque
In Rosie's eloquent explanation of her departure from The View, she helped us lay folk understand the complexities of *the biz* by gesticulating spastically and yada-yadaing the specifics of her contract renegotiation.
Turns out, she yada-yadaed the best part.
Amidst boycott threats against Disney and ABC for comments she made about Sept. 11, O'Donnell was said to be weighing offers from bidders, including CBS Television Distribution, to do another show of her own. Executives familiar with the matter put her annual asking price to re-up at The View at $40 million a year - $5 million more than Dr. Phil's estimated pay.
In the words of the ornery thespian, what a selfish little pig.
Sunlight Is the Most Unwelcome Disinfectant
Whatever you do, don't scream.
Dean: Bar Media and Candidates Will Talk
The head of the Democratic Party said Wednesday that the best way to get presidential candidates to talk frankly about issues is to lock out the media.
During the Mortgage Bankers Association conference, a banker expressed frustration with candidates who only talk in sound bites and wondered how that could be changed. Howard Dean, once a presidential candidate, offered a simple solution.
"I suggest you have candidates in to meetings like this and bar the press," Dean said.
The wretched media, it seems, have overstepped their prescribed nannyistic bounds, within which they once harmlessly told us what to believe, and have transmuted into some kind of unaccetably accurate reflection of reality, no longer sufficiently dedicated to force-feeding America's sad sack know-nothing hillbillies with morsels of sanitized, manufactured messages.
"The media has been reduced to info-tainment," Dean said. "Info-tainment sells, the problem is they reach the lowest common denominator instead of forcing a little education down our throats, which we are probably in need of from time to time."
Well jeepers, Dr. Dean. I do appreciate you wanting to safeguard the media's role as education throat-stuffer. But would a little unvarnished discourse from your ilk be so politically destructive to your party's electoral prospects? Don't most well-meaning Democrat party leaders have enough principle-driven ideology to shoot from the hip now and then?
"Politicians are incredibly careful not to say anything if they can possibly help it, except if it is exactly scripted. And if you want to hear anybody's true views, you cannot do it in the same room as the press," Dean said. "If you want to hear the truth from them, you have to exclude the press."
Meh - it's just too easy and obvious to impugn Dean's logic here. The more interesting question is this:
Is Dean being politically adroit here by encouraging his agenda-deficient party standard-bearers to shy away from the limelight and to conceal their collective nihilism? Or is he simply and sophomorically projecting his own manifest misgivings from 2004 about sudden and unrelenting media rebuke upon his fellow Democrats?
To Paraphrase Muhammad Ali...
It's not fearmongering if you can back it up.
Obama Accuses Giuliani of Fear-Mongering
Democrat Barack Obama rebuked Republican White House rival Rudy Giuliani Wednesday for suggesting the United States could face another major terrorist attack if a Democrat is elected in 2008.
"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics," Obama said in a statement. "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9-11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure."
Giuliani's comment Tuesday in New Hampshire echoed sentiments expressed by other Republicans in election time. The former mayor said if a Democrat is elected, "it sounds to me like we're going on defense. We're going to wave the white flag there."
But, he said, if a Republican wins, "we will remain on offense" trying to anticipate what the terrorists are going to do and "trying to stop them before they do it."
In fairness to Obama, Giuliani's assertion that a Republican is more likely to be tough on terrorism than a Democrat is pretty ridiculous.
(So long as you turn a blind eye to years of unambiguous evidence, that is.)
- Passage of the Patriot Act, October 25, 2001
Voting no or not voting: 2 Democrats, 0 Republicans
- Passage of Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, October 6, 2004
Voting no or not voting: 4 Democrats (including Presidential and VP candidates), 0 Republicans
- Failed Filibuster of Patriot Act Reauthorization, Feb 28, 2006
Voting to filibuster: 31 Democrats, 0 Republicans
- 2nd Failed Filibuster of Patriot Act Reauthorization, March 1, 2006
Voting to filibuster: 31 Democrats, 0 Republicans
- 3rd Failed Filibuster of Patriot Act Reauthorization, March 1, 2006
Voting to filibuster: 16 democrats, 0 Republicans
- Reauthorization of the Patriot Act, March 2, 2006
Voting no or not voting: 11 Democrats, 0 Republicans
It even works when we look back on those pre-9/11 salad days when we had a Democrat in the White House...
- Passage of Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, June 7, 1995
Voting no or not voting: 7 Democrats, 2 Republicans
- Emergency Appropriations For Anti-Terrorism and Oklahoma City Recovery, July 21, 1995
Voting no or not voting: 9 Democrats, 2 Republicans
Of course, the most sublime, if anecdotal, example of this political differential was expressed via a pair of episodes, one in 1995 and one in 1999, each involving a major party front-runner for the 2008 election and each involving a boldly anti-semitic, unabashedly terrorphilic Arafat. If you knew only that between these two leading American politicians - one Republican and one Democrat - one was gushingly doling out hugs and kisses during the Arafat meeting, while the other was observed to kick the scum off the premises when he learned of his presence... which would you guess was which?
For the record, Senator Obama, this is what fearmongering looks like.
Update: Another illustrative example, hot off the presses (this one from the House, whereas the above are all Senatorial tallies):
- Iraq Surrender and Pork Spending Bill, Masquerading as Troop Support (my phrasing), April 25, 2007
Voting yes: 216 Democrats, 2 Republicans
The official legislative title of the bill: "Making emergency supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes"'
Possibly the most loaded dependent clause I've ever read.
As a side note, you may remember Walter Jones from such posts as 110th Congress - Dance of the RINOs, in which we chronicled the Congressman's perfect 3-for-3 voting record in favor of the new Democratic leadership's most damaging initiatives among the "6 in 06" agenda, namely H.R. 6 (the oil tax), H.R. 2 (the minimum wage hike) and H.R. 4 (the prescription price control bill).
Durable Goods Unexpectedly Durable, Dow Crosses Lucky 13
Sales of new, big, heavy stuff were stronger than expected in March, according to the Department of Commerce (pdf).
New orders for manufactured durable goods in March increased $7.1 billion or 3.4 percent to $214.9 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This was the fourth increase in the last five months and followed a 2.4 percent February increase.
Economists had expected a rise of only 2.5 percent in March. February durable goods figures were also revised upward, from 1.7 percent to 2.4 percent.
A war boom, we're wise enough to snicker, enriching only Dick Cheney and his bloodthirsty pals. Except that defense actually underperformed, relative to durable goods ex-defense.
Excluding defense, new orders increased 4.5 percent.
Transportation equipment once again led the pack, with total new orders up 8 percent (following a 10 percent rise last month), driven primarily by non-defense aircraft and parts (up 37 percent).
These figures capture only new orders of American-made goods, so this is a happy bit of economic news. What's more, demand for core capital goods grew faster than it has in more than 3 years, suggesting overall business investment is swimming along briskly.
Already cheered by some rosy corporate earnings, the Dow responded by continuing its swift 35-day post-February-correction advance from just over 12,000 to just over 13,000.
Earnings are strong, corporate outlooks are strong, business investment is rising, productivity is high, inflation remains in check (despite unusually low unemployment), American goods are in high demand, and the equity markets have remained extended rally mode (this time, without the bubbly caveat of out-of-whack valuation multiples). It's hard to divine much of a cloud around this silver lining.
Nonetheless, Reuters gives it a whirl.
Orders for durable goods -- costly and long-lasting manufactured items -- rose more than expected in March, according to the Commerce Department. The data helped to calm concerns about the U.S. economy that had cast a pall over the surprisingly strong earnings season.
"The earnings recession has been delayed -- again -- as earnings are now looking to post gains in the double digits for the quarter," said Tom Sowanick, chief investment officer at Clearbrook Financial LLC in Princeton, New Jersey.
Happy Birthday, Hot Air
Happy Birthday to us! And thanks to all of you for making the first year of Hot Air a phenomenal success. Here’s the very first post that appeared on our blog–posted at 4:15am after bleary-eyed preparations and an intense team effort to launch the site. And here were my reflections on our six-month anniversary.
One of the primary goals in starting this site was to give you content and analysis you can’t get anywhere else on a daily basis–both on the blog and in our original video features. Another chief goal: having fun. The viewers’ choice for favorite Hot Air video, which we’ll feature in the Vent space today, captures that spirit. So do so many of the other irreverent shows and posts that grace this site.
We’ve brought you to Iraq and into my closet and who knows where else in the coming year. I know the rest of the team will join me in raising a virtual toast: Here’s to another year of Hot Air rising.
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 4
The Obamessiah continues to poach from Hillary's inner sanctum, rendering the prophecy nearly complete.
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 10
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 9
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 8
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 7
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 6
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 5
Dinner With Mayors Mike, Rudy
Tonight, the New York Republican County Committee's annual Lincoln Day Dinner will be joined by not one, but two of the two most recent NYC mayors. Bloomberg has notably not endorsed Giuliani (not yet anyway) for the Presidency (or anyone for that matter), one much speculated reason for which could be whatever [presumably wholly self-funded] Presidential aspirations Mayor Mike may himself be harboring.
With all that as pretext, it should make for an interesting evening. A dispatch to follow after the event.
I Am Woman, Y'all
Bowing at the altar of Sharpton, Hillary reaffirms her status as Queen of the Insta-Affect (and throws in an ironic jab about Oval Office decorum to boot).
Where Am I?
Pardon the radio silence over the last couple days - I've been in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a business school reunion. I'm tapping out this post from one of the study group rooms while I wait for my cab to arrive, an experience that should suffice to trigger a few classic school anxiety nightmares in coming days.
Normal posting to resume tomorrow.
HuffPo: Cho Was a Patsy
The real culprits in the Virginia Tech massacre were Ralph Nader, George Bush, and 2.9 million "selfish", "bleating" American voters.
So blogs Martin Lewis, the self-styled "world's LEAST-reserved Englishman" (chortle, chortle), at the Huffington Post.
It's a blue-on-blue attack, but it's nauseating nonetheless.
VA Tech Obscures the REAL Horrors Before Us
Well, well, well...
How *convenient* for the Bush Administration. Turns out not only is the Baghdad surge demonstrably hopeless, but our reverence of the unholy massacre at Virginia Tech is merely a grotesque opportunity to mask our national incompetence.
It's officially time to cast aside all preliminary suggestions that the surge (even in advance of its full implementation) is working (as foolishly noted in this post, that post, and that other post).
To this end, the Kossacks are courageously maintaining their fatalist vigil to assure you, gentle reader, that while you've been distracted by the sorrowful Virginia Tech tragedy and the Supreme Court's ruling against partial birth abortions, Baghdad is quickly becoming a lost cause.
Let us solemnly behold this disquieting pouncing on today's difficult news from the front, and recognize it as the singularly definitive indictment of America's foolhardy and bloodthirsty troop surge that it is.
Presented, then, without any discernible hint of irony (hint: you can always pick out the involuntary irony by the overlain boldface) is this missive from the leftward fringe:
Between the horror in Virginia, the hideous decision of the Supreme Court, the ongoing outrage over the US attorneys, and half a dozen other scandals underway, it's understandable that Americans are a bit distracted today. It may not be making the top of today's news, but Baghdad is exploding.
For the last few weeks, the Bush administration has twisted every possible statistic to try and extract some shadow of "progress," but today's violence should put to rest any theory that the massive escalation of US forces is the solution.
U.S. officials have reported a decrease in sectarian killings in Baghdad since the U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown was launched Feb. 14. But the past week has seen several spectacular attacks in the capital, including a suicide bombing inside parliament and a powerful blast that collapsed a landmark bridge across the Tigris River. The number of bodies dumped in the streets of Baghdad also has risen significantly.
Em... right. Weeks' worth of notable - if preliminary - signs of surprisingly rapid progress are hereby cast asunder as mere twistings of "every possible statistic" (however numerous), that we may make way for the fatalism served up to sate our most blindly cynical of sensibilities.
Disturbing New VTech Details
I've been off the grid for a few hours and in that time, so very much has come to light, including lots of new timeline details, photos, and a video manifesto made by Psy-Cho in between the initial murders and the massacre at Norris Hall. I can't even hope to encapsulate everything that's come through the pipe, so I'm just going to steer to you Hot Air's most recent thread, which will catch you up.
Human Enslavement Watch
Allah has the terrifying, tennis ball-grasping answer.
A VT-Inspired Olberfugue
I suppose the falling of this desperate, attention-hounding, logic-starved shoe was inevitable. The saddest little man in all the MSM truly can't help himself anymore.
Young, bright, and clean, maybe.
Articulate, maybe not...
The next time an MSM outlet describes Barack Obama as "articulate," I suggest you send them this audio link. My friend Jessica McBride sent it along, and man, is it painful. It's from his speech yesterday in Milwaukee--tying the Virginia Tech massacre to Iraq, Darfur, Don Imus, and everything but the kitchen sink.
It is worth a listen, epecially if you've thus far accepted the wisdom that Obama is some kind of masterful and inspirational communicator.
If you're not up for it (and I can't blame you), let me summarize: After he gets done telling the crowd how remarkable he is and how delighted the world is by his grandeur, he numbly invokes Virginia Tech, then rhetorically sashays to and fro, pinballing among Martin Luther King, pop cultural violence, his tall daughters (who he hopes will get basketball scholarships and whose degradation at the hands of Don Imus he laments), drugs, the scarcity of low-skill jobs, religious tolerance, Bobby Kennedy, Darfur, and Iraq. Whenever he seems to steer his rambling back toward the Virginia Tech massacre, he offers an implication that the shooter's motivation was one of intolerance, even superiority, rooted in an unspecified demographic variable. From here, he draws unusual parallels - not only is America's reluctance to act appropriately in Darfur due to an entitled superiority with which we imbue our children over Darfur's, but our actions in Iraq owe to similar intolerance and a false superiority.
When he somberly asks himself on behalf of all humanity how we can ever regain a sense of control over our world, he essentially throws up his hands as to how to approach threats of physical violence. Instead, he suggests socializing healthcare and enacting a universal jobs program. With just that much of a sequitur.
He closes with one salient point: "This campaign can not be about me."
That's starting to become clear.
Republican, Democrat, Democrat-Republican, Federalist, Whig... no matter the political party, the 43 Presidents of the United States have always managed to cut an impressive and august visage.
From the late 1700s, absent modern dentistry and a healthy eschewal of male wiggery, to the cosmopoliticians of the modern era, our Commanders in Chief have always seemed to maintain a stately and stylish frontispiece.
Cases in point:
Good looking chaps, all. Solemn, grand, and imposing.
Even the relatively ghastly Abe Lincoln filled out a silver emulsion with regal aplomb.
It's with this in mind (and inspired by an e-mail I received today from my brother, pointing out the picture below, bearing the subject header "A thousand words too many") that I posit the absurdity of this wretched, sad clown ever sharing a gallery with the above-featured countenances.
Cast off politics for this brief, frivolous moment and resign yourself to the exercise of judging these books by their covers. Is this the face of a President?
18th Century fashions included, are these the pants of a President?
Last One On the Bandwagon's a Rotten Opportunist
Michelle Malkin takes note of the belated chiming in by "Barry-come-lately" on the Imus flap and the media's subsequent, if begrudging, focus on the rampant misogyny and racial auto-degradation peculiar to hip-hop culture.
Here's what he said late today:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday questioned the way some rappers talk about women in songs, saying the lyrics are similar to the derogatory language used by embattled radio host Don Imus.
They are "degrading their sisters. That doesn't inspire me," Obama said of some hip-hop artists when a man in a crowd of about 1,000 questioned him. The Illinois senator was responding to a question of what inspired him, and said God and civil rights activists.
Hillary managed to secure her spot in the tsk-tsk parade back on Wednesday, when she sent out an e-mail steering supporters to the ad hoc "Respect for Rutgers" page on her campaign website. So what took Senator Obama so long to join in this lay up of a mild liberal Sister Souljah moment?
Michelle points to Obama's 2006 youth empowerment summit with civil rights emissary and spelling enthusiast Ludacris, the troubador who brought the world such works as "Pimpin' All Over the World" ("ho" count: 2), "Move Bitch" (n-word count: 3; "ho" count: 2), "Slap" (n-word count: 40), and his magnum opus "Ho" (n-word count: 4; "ho" count: 108).
Yipes. I guess I too would be reluctant to opportunistically feign contempt for the same rabid cultural degeneracy I'd opportunistically embraced only months ago.
SEC Wields Patriot Act, Clobbers Fishy Brokerage
Suspicious financial activity - it's not just for terrorists anymore.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, in its first case against a brokerage under an anti-money-laundering clause of the USA Patriot Act, accused a Florida firm of abetting suspicious stock trades.
Park Financial Group and its principal, Gordon Cantley, aided a plan to inflate the share price of toolmaker Spear & Jackson in 2002 and 2003 because the firm didn't file so-called suspicious activity reports, the SEC said yesterday. It is the first case against a broker for not filing the reports, the SEC said.
The SEC has "highlighted the importance of anti-money-laundering procedures" for several years, the agency's enforcement director, Linda Chatman Thomsen, said in the statement. "A broker-dealer should not be surprised" that not filing the required reports "would lead to an enforcement action."
Shall we weep for the hapless broker-dealer, unduly trampled by big brother? Meh, perhaps not. Traditional federal securities laws were good enough to obtain injunctive relief against one of Cantley's alleged cohorts in the scheme.
Spear & Jackson's former chief executive, Dennis Crowley, agreed to pay $6.1 million in 2005 to settle SEC allegations that he used misinformation to boost the company's stock price while selling shares through front companies in the British Virgin Islands. Spear & Jackson was based in Boca Raton, Fla., at the time.
Park Financial of Winter Park, Fla., and Cantley processed trades even though they knew Crowley was also transferring company stock to a promoter to help boost the price, the SEC said in its complaint. The transactions generated $2.5 million.
This ought to present a humdinger of a liberal moral quandary. On the one hand, a greedy white collar type is being deservedly drubbed (of course he hasn't yet been found guilty, but his demographics are sufficient to lend the drubbing lefty appeal). On the other hand, any implementation of the Patriot Act implies an Orwellian trampling of civil liberties. And any implementation that doesn't directly address terrorism is sure to convince Republiphobes that the liberal prophecy of neocon totalitarianism is now manifest.
If you act quickly, you may have just enough time to burn your library card and move off the grid before Dick Cheney breaks down your door.
Close Call In Skies Over Israel
Following a lapse in radio communications, the Israeli Air Force nearly shot down a Continental plane packed with hundreds of civilians on Wednesday.
Four fighter jets - two F-15s and a pair of F-16s - buzzed [Continental Airlines Flight 90] that had originated in Newark and was carrying some 250 passengers once it came within eight kilometers of Israel, after the pilot failed to contact Ben-Gurion Airport upon his approach in line with international regulations.
A senior Air Force officer said the IAF went on high alert due to the suspicious incoming aircraft. He said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz were updated about the event and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi as well as IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Elazar Shkedy were placed "on-line" in case an interception order was needed.
"This was the closest we ever came to intercepting a civilian airplane," the officer said.
...not counting this one.
However, the IAF shot down a Libyan civilian airliner over Sinai in February, 1973 when it entered Israeli airspace, killing 108 out of the 113 people on board, after it failed to heed attempts at communication.
Continental released this statement:
Continental Airlines Flight 90 from Newark with 251 passengers landed safely in Tel Aviv at 4:30 this afternoon. Before the arrival, there was a temporary lapse in communications between the plane and the Air Traffic Control tower, and responsibility for the flight was passed from one control tower to a second one.
As a result of this, the Air Force made contact with the plane and escorted it to its landing at its intended destination - Ben-Gurion Airport.
Patrick Leahy, Your Company's Computer Guy
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) isn't just Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's also one of those ornery IT whizzes.
The White House's claim that e-mails sent on a Republican Party account might have been lost was challenged Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who quipped that even his teenage neighbor could find them.
"They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!" Leahy shouted from the Senate floor as the dispute over the firing of federal prosecutors continued at a high pitch.
"You can't erase e-mails, not today. They've gone through too many servers," said Leahy, D-Vt. "Those e-mails are there, they just don't want to produce them. We'll subpoena them if necessary."
"I've got a teenage kid in my neighborhood that can go get 'em for them," he told reporters.
Not to muddy the Nick Burns allusion, but in reading Leahy's rant, I can't help but be reminded of the scene in Raising Arizona, when Nathan Arizona is lecturing the FBI about how to investigate his son's disappearance.
Nathan: No leads?! Everyone leaves microbes'n whatnot!
Throughout the speech NATHAN stalks the room, working himself into a frenzy, furiously putting coffee cups onto coasters, generally cleaning up, hectoring the police, and swiping their feet off his furniture.
Nathan: Hell, that's your forte, trackin' down them microbes left by criminals and commies and s**t! That's yer whole damn raison d'etre! No leads?! I want Nathan Jr. back, or whichever the hell one they took! He's out there somewhere! Somethin' leads to him! And anyone can find him knows the difference between a lead and a hole in the ground!!
Internship Opportunities With Clinton 44
Australian comedy show The Chaser's War On Everything illustrates the preferred method for pursuing employment opportunities with Lady Palatine.
Bloomberg's Presidential Aspirations Laid Bare
There's a blatant 2008 resume booster if I've ever seen one.
Mayor Eyes Greenhouse Gases
Result May Be Rules To Cut Emissions
Mayor Bloomberg could be laying the groundwork for a campaign to institute mandatory rules or tax incentives to reduce carbon emissions in the city.
Mr. Bloomberg, who will play host to dozens of mayors from cities around the world at a climate summit next month, released an "inventory" of citywide greenhouse gases yesterday.
The fact that the city has little say over such things is a fleeting concern.
The fact that the city has little say over such things is a fleeting concern.
It is unclear exactly what the city has the authority to do on its own, given that many energy issues are overseen by the state. Mr. Bloomberg, who has not been shy about enforcing mandates that ban smoking and the use of trans fats, could also have a partner in Governor Spitzer, who has vowed to address climate change.
The president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde, a member of mayor's sustainability advisory board, said the mayor's plan, which will be presented on Earth Day, would likely rely more on voluntary measures.
"The focus would have to be on voluntary cooperation or incentives because virtually anything involving mandates would require state or federal action," Ms. Wylde said.
The potentially devastating (and potentially wholly unnecessary) economic consequences of draconian, fearmonger-compliant eco-measures are similarly trifling.
Mr. Bloomberg brushed off global warming skeptics, who say there is simply not enough evidence to take action that could damage local economies.
"It's easy to say environment problems are a figment of your imagination," the mayor said.
Just because the last couple of months have been unseasonably cold doesn't mean that there is no environmental problem, he said: "It has nothing to do with each other. It's very cute to say on a talking head radio or television show."
Countdown To Obama Overexposure - 5
When Letterman, the papparazzi, and a horde of fans all seem to prize Barry over Berry, the blandishment bubble must be judged to be nearing its bursting point.
Hummer Owners and Republicans Repent: Warmest Year On Record
Er, wait... no. I mean the coldest.
A historic cold weather outbreak shattered records this morning in Charlotte and elsewhere in the Carolinas, producing bone-chilling conditions for Easter sunrise services.
Forecasters say a slow warming trend will begin today, but we face one more night of freezing weather.
The polar air outbreak that began Thursday reached the bottom this morning, when temperatures dropped to 21 degrees at 7 a.m. at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
That not only broke the low-temperature record for the date, but it was the coldest for any April day in Charlotte history.
Previously, the coldest temperature ever recorded in the month of April was 24 degrees, on April 1, 1923.
(I'll go ahead and hat tip Mr. Drudge, on the off-chance he ever decides to reciprocate.)
And Now Deep Thoughts, by Code Pink
*Beceause boys enjoy playing with toy soldiers, all war is childishly motivated and therefore unjustified.*
That's the distilled entirety of the utterly illogical subtext of this insipid anti-war ad from the Sheehanistas.
If only these gals were around in the 18th Century, the span of American history might've been spared the indiginites wrought by the juvenile bloodlust of our founding man-children.
Hat tip to Allah, who notes:
You can’t expect profundity in half a minute, but a little originality would be welcome; what you’re getting here instead is the thousandth iteration of a meme that’s been popular in anti-war thinking since toy soldiers were invented.
GOP Leadership To Pelosi: Vacation Time Is Over, Get Back To Work
Busied by overstepping her legislative bounds on overseas travel, Nancy Pelosi's neglect of the critical business she's charged with handling hasn't gone unnoticed among her colleagues. As printed on Drudge, Senate and House Republican leadership sent the Speaker the following letter this morning (emphasis mine):
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
We are writing to urge you to call the House back into session immediately so that Congress can finish its work on the emergency legislation to fund the Global War on Terrorism. This funding request has been pending since February 5, but your leadership team chose to leave town for more than two weeks rather than completing this bill. As a result, our troops have been put at risk.
We are especially troubled by the House's failure to appoint conferees. The Senate appointed conferees on March 29, moments after passing its bill, but the House never did so despite passing the bill a week earlier. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Senate that he hoped the House-Senate conference would begin on March 30. That hoped-for progress has been thwarted by your failure to act.
It should go without saying that our military leaders are in the best position to know the needs of our troops, and they have left no doubt that this funding is needed urgently. General Peter Schoomaker, United States Army Chief of Staff, has written that, "without approval of the supplemental funds in April, we will be forced to take increasingly draconian measures which will impact Army readiness and impose hardships on our Soldiers and their families." Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also emphasized the dangers of delay: "This kind of disruption to key programs will have a genuinely adverse effect on the readiness of the Army and the quality of life for soldiers and their families."
Our troops need this funding, and they need it soon. The Senate is in session and ready to work. We respectfully request that you cancel the remainder of your break, call the House back into session, appoint conferees promptly, and work in good faith to pass a clean supplemental funding bill that the President can sign as soon as possible. Every day we don't fund our troops is a day their ability to fight this war is weakened.
Dick Morris: It's the Perks, Stupid
Dick Morris, Bill Clinton's former campaign manager, thinks Hillary's sub-Obama fundraising scores in the first quarter have something to do with the couple's now muted ability to dole out quid pro quos to prospective financial backers.
Hillary and Bill have made an unpleasant discovery over the past three months: Without the ability to pass out coveted goodies, like over-nights in the Lincoln Bedroom, invitations to White House coffees and state dinners, trips on Air Force One, weekends at Camp David, lucrative government contracts, top appointments, and the power to sign or veto legislation, their ability to raise money is far less than it once was.
That’s one of the key reasons why Hillary came in second in fund-raising for the first quarter.
For years, people have wondered whether the Clinton money machine was based on ideology and personal loyalty, or just the plethora of presidential perks at Bill’s disposal. The first quarter results give a resounding answer: It’s the perks, stupid.
The Clintons brought new meaning to presidential fund-raising by giving donors free reign of the White House. From Johnnie Chung to David Geffen, they handsomely rewarded their donors with an open door policy. Now, they obviously can’t do that.
And, at this rate, they may not be able to do it again the future either.
Just the Facts
Next week, Congress will begin reconciling the language for the controversial Iraq funding bill, which calls for a timetable for US troop withdrawal. President Bush has promised to veto the bill, setting up a potential push by Democrats for a Congressional override.
This debate has been heated and fraught with politics. Democrats, plenty of which have supported several previous iterations of supplemental war funding, are starting to position themselves for the 2008 Presidential and Congressional elections. With this highly sensitive subject of a timetable, it is increasingly important to have dispassionate facts about the situation on the ground.
Retired Army four-star General Barry McCaffrey recently published an assessment of Iraq. This report is concise and brutally candid. If you are inclined to think this is a biased assessment by a career soldier, check out his conclusions on the state of affairs.
Iraq is ripped by a low grade civil war which has worsened to catastrophic levels with as many as 3000 citizens murdered per month. The population is in despair. Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate.
The Maliki government has little credibility among the Shia populations from which it emerged. It is despised by the Sunni as a Persian surrogate. It is believed untrustworthy and incompetent by the Kurds.
There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation....There is no province in the country in which the government has dominance.
We are at the “knee of the curve.” Two million+ troops of the smallest active Army force since WWII have served in the war zone. Some active units have served three, four, or even five combat deployments. We are now routinely extending nearly all combat units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The current deployment requirement of 20+ brigades to Iraq and 2+ brigades in Afghanistan is not sustainable.
The US Armed Forces are in a position of strategic peril. A disaster in Iraq will in all likelihood result in a widened regional struggle which will endanger America’s strategic interests (oil) in the Mid-east for a generation.
Have you read a more honest and fair assessment of Iraq? While these observations are not surprising to Americans, I am certainly appreciative that the military recognizes the grim conditions and the urgency of the situation. But what I find especially intriguing is his assessment of our chances of success.
Since the arrival of General David Petraeus in command of Multi-National Force Iraq--- the situation on the ground has clearly and measurably improved.
The Maliki government has given the green light to prune out elements of the renegade Sadr organization in Baghdad. More than 600+ rogue leaders have been harvested by US and Iraqi special operations forces with the explicit or tacit consent of the government.
There is a real and growing ground swell of Sunni tribal opposition to the Al Qaeda-in-Iraq terror formations. (90% Iraqi.) This counter-Al Qaeda movement in Anbar Province was fostered by brilliant US Marine leadership. There is now unmistakable evidence that the western Sunni tribes are increasingly convinced that they blundered badly by sitting out the political process. They are also keenly aware of the fragility of the continued US military presence that stands between them and a vengeful and overwhelming Shia-Kurdish majority class---which was brutally treated by Saddam and his cruel regime.
The equipment and resources for the Iraqi Security Forces has increased dramatically. PM Maliki has pushed to create a larger security force of more than 100,000 Iraqi Army troops.
There are encouraging signs that the peace and participation message does resonate with many of the more moderate Sunni and Shia warring factions.
In my judgment, we can still achieve our objective of: a stable Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, not producing weapons of mass destruction, and fully committed to a law-based government.
There is no doubt that Iraq is presently a quagmire, but clearly there is still a considerable chance of achieving our objectives. As long as there is a good chance of succeeding, it is inappropriate to set a deadline for withdrawal.
Hillary To Drop By Home State
An e-mail missive just out from Team Hillary announces a "Party On the Pier" on April 23, to be held at Pier 94 (the "unConvention Center") on the west side of Manhattan. As Allah predicted a couple days back when Big O's fundraising numbers were unveiled, it didn't take her long to start calling in the heavy hitter.
(Highlighting and cropping are mine; click the image for the large-print version.)
A C-note gets you in the door, a larger honorarium than I could likely feel clean about furnishing to the cause, even writing it off as an opportunity to document the return of the King, alongside the woman who would be Queen, in what's destined to be among the most sanctimonious political events New York has ever seen.
The blog fodder is awfully tempting though. Maybe if I can get my hands on one of these and document a few choice *conversations* with fellow pier partiers...
From the Department of Labor:
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 180,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.
Ignoring the bubbly unsustainability around the turn of the century, the unemployment rate hasn't ticked lower than its current level since 1970.
What's more, March marked the 43rd month of consecutive job growth (a streak which began in 2003, three months after the tax cuts were signed into law). If growth continues until at least October, it'll be the longest unbroken period of job creation in recorded history.
Any time you hear a Democratic Presidential candidate or a member of the new legislative majority refer to "rolling back" the Bush tax cuts or "allowing them to expire", it's the little green peg below that they intend to yank out. Among the predictable effects: higher unemployment, slower growth, lower incomes, and lower tax revenues. With so much bad news to go around, it's getting harder to fathom just who they might be pandering to.
Among the Republican field, both Romney and Giuliani feature decidedly supply-side fiscal temperaments. With specific regard to the investment income tax cuts (for my money, the best economic Presidential litmus test), Romney has to be seen as the optimal candidate, as he has explicitly stated (perhaps more than once; I know I heard him say so at CPAC) that his administration would support not only making the Bush tax cuts permanent, but also extending the wildly successful measure by eliminating federal dividend and capital gains taxes altogether.
John McCain flexed his maverickdom and proved he's slave to neither party doctrine nor common sense by joining Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee as one of only 3 Republican Senators to vote against the tax cuts, eliminating any lingering inclination to consider him a tolerable primary candidate.
Rove Derangement Syndrome Reaches Epizootic Status
A particularly virulent strain of the affliction befell the big lefty blogs this April Fool's season. Michelle Malkin recounts the hilarity in this tale of misplaced bullheaded animus.
The Surge Is Still Working
Cautious optimists have become increasingly (if ever cautiously) aware that the President's troop surge has been throwing off early indications of success. Some quick Technorati vanity searching reminds me that it was fully 17 and 24 days ago days ago that these early hints of efficacy were bubbling forth enough to cause me to take notice.
As of today, though, it seems that acknowledgment of these signs of progress has taken a broad leap into the mainstream of duly sanctioned, editorial and journalistic wisdom. For so entrenched an old-line media outlet as ABC News to produce so objective and candid an assessment of the surge's positive impact as this video report strikes me as the MSM equivalent of Baghdad Bob acknowledging the fall of Baghdad.
Among the scenes: Iraqi families riding rides at an amusement park in central Baghdad, babies reaching out to passing balloonmongers, a girl in a floral dress kicking a ball down the street... It's looks like the Baghdad that Michael Moore tells us existed before we imperialists rode into town to butcher everyone.
Kudos to ABC News and Terry McCarthy.
Pardon the blue and obvious punnery, but this is just beyond the pale. Someone needs to put these violent eco-malcontents behind bars.
Susan Ferrando, her husband, their two children and three preteens had come to San Francisco from Redwood City to celebrate the birthday of Ferrando’s 11-year-old daughter. They went to Japantown, where they enjoyed shopping and taking in the blooming cherry blossoms.
Things took a turn for the worse at about 9 p.m., when the family was leaving Japantown — just as the party of about 3,000 bikers was winding down its monthly red-lights-be-damned ride through the city.
Suddenly, Ferrando said, her car was surrounded by hundreds of cyclists.
Not being from San Francisco, Ferrando thought she might have inadvertently crossed paths with a bicycle race and couldn’t figure out why the police, who she had just passed, hadn’t warned her.
Confusion, however, quickly turned to terror, she said, when the swarming cyclists began wildly circling around and then running into the sides of her Toyota van.
Filled with panic, Ferrando said, she started inching forward until coming to a stop at Post and Gough streets, where she was surrounded by bikers on all sides.
A biker in front blocked her as another biker began pounding on the windshield. Another was pounding on her window. Another pounded the other side.
“It seemed like they were using their bikes as weapons,'’ Ferrando said. One of the bikers then threw his bike — shattering the rear window and terrifying the young girls inside.
All the while, Ferrando was screaming, “There are children in this car! There are children in this car!”
Despite terrorizing a carful of children and inflicting $5,000 worth of property damage in the process, the bikers were all able to roll away consequence-free, content they'd done their part to make the world a better place.
Bryan has much more on these "fringe actors", the city that incubates them, and their courageous commitment to showing the rest of the world how to live.
John E'wards Transmutes Into Healing Evangelist
Not that it's a very long trip for a trial lawyer...
I'm loathe even to comment on this loathesome turn, as the underlying situation is so sad and deeply personal. Still, this is a bit too unsavory to let pass.
John Hawkins points out this WaPo Sleuth post, which seems quizzically to laud the E'wards campaign for its fundraising shrewdness, where it seems more appropriate to condemn them for disquieting levels of opportunism.
When you visit the John Edwards for President Web site, you're invited to send a sympathy note to the Edwardses. And tens of thousands of well wishers have done so since that heart-wrenching news conference two weeks ago at which Elizabeth Edwards courageously discussed her incurable cancer.
What those well wishers get in return -- e-mail messages soliciting contributions to Edwards's campaign.
Visitors to the Edwards site who choose to "send a note to Elizabeth and John" are first taken to a heartfelt letter from the candidate that was written the day after he learned that his wife's cancer had returned. Edwards thanks readers for their "prayers and wishes," vows that he and Elizabeth will "keep a positive attitude always look for the silver lining" and declares that "our campaign goes on and it goes on strongly."
Anyone who then chooses to send a note of sympathy to the Edwardses -- and, thus, provide his or her e-mail address -- automatically becomes part of the Edwards campaign's online e-mail database, a list that is crucial to any campaign's ability to raise vast amounts of money over the Internet.
As an erstwhile candidate, I can understand Mr. E'wards' temptation. E-mail addresses of constituents (and especially of prospective contributors) are campaign ambrosia. Direct communication with these groups is paramount, but stamps and minutes are expensive. E-mail is very nearly free.
And this isn't to suggest candidates ought to shy away from any issue, whether it's a personal tragedy (as with E'wards) or a national tragedy (as with Giuliani), if it bears substantively on his or her campaign, or if the discussion of such things is simply part and parcel of having a complete and forthright [I hate to use Clinton's simperingly folksy word here, but] conversation with one's prospective constituents.
But when this candidate employs his wife's health specifically to bait unwitting, web-bound well-wishers in order to fold them into his fundraising contact database, he's not only capitalizing on family hardship; he's exploiting in a very calculated way the sympathies of those who would wish Elizabeth well.
Even for a trial lawyer, that's more than a little untoward.
Human Enslavement Watch
Today is a doubly dark day in our long and unremitting march toward robo-subservience.
Update: Bonus! On British city streets, security cameras are set to begin verbally chastizing litterbugs and vandals.
1. Pedestrian is spotted leaving can on bench.
2. Talking camera: "Please fetch your can."
3. Talking camera: "The bin is behind the phone box."
4. Talking camera: "Thank you for using the bin."
Obama Trumps Hillary
Those who speculated Team Obama may have been holding off on announcing their fundraising totals to heighten the anticipation and give greater resonance to an eye-popping number may have had a point.
The Obamarama showed no signs of pleateauing, as measured by his first quarter fundraising, which totaled $25 million, just a hair behind her majesty's reapings. With $23.5 million of the Barry-O Funbucks being primary-eligible, he appears to have eclipsed Clinton, who has thus far declined to clarify what portion of her $26 million of Q1 contributions was primary money.
Obama also boasted twice as many supporters as Clinton, herding 100,000 paying bandwagoneers to Hillary's suddenly seemingly paltry 50,000.
The militantly, belligerently anti-war crowd over at Daily Kos - which has never forgiven the rightful heiress to the Presidency for her Iraq War vote - couldn't be more delighted that their flavor of the quarter shone so brightly.
It's time to tell the establishment to get stuffed. Embrace the Reality. Obama 08!
Except when they remember that they abhor money.
I'm sorry, but I can't find pleasure in this obscene escalation of money in politics. We are heading for the first billion dollar primary.
Or when they remember that they're totally not talking to Obama right now, after he indicated a post-presumptive-veto willingness to fund the troops, even if it means doing it without gobs of pork or without insisting on prosecuting the war from the Capitol building.
As it now stands, even Hillary is a better anti-war candidate than Obama; I will have to change my DKos posting name to reflect that.
- by anybody but hillary on Wed Apr 04, 2007
Liberalism is so
Update: Hot Air prophesies the return of the King to restore balance.
If Ever There Were an Occasion For a Photoshop Contest
This is it:
Captions and photoshops will be collected for 48 hours, beginning whenever your eyes stop bleeding.
(HT: Michelle Malkin)
6th Annual IC3y Awards
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (a.k.a. IC3, f.k.a. Internet Fraud Complaint Center) has published its 2006 Internet Crime Report. It was a banner year for phishers, pharmers, and Nigerian scammers, who fleeced us out of a record $198 million, up 8% from 2005. What's more, the baddies are actually getting more efficient, as the number of complaints received by IC3 actually decreased for the first time ever.
(Hmm, increasing productivity despite a downtick in headcount. Speaker Pelosi is surely lamenting this "jobless recovery" in the online scamming industry.)
On to the honors...
Most Popular Scam: Auction Fraud.
Accounting for 45% of all complaints received, Auction Fraud displayed its continued dominance of the online fraud game. While down significantly from 2005, the eBay Power Scammers once again take home top honors.
Most Successful Scam: Nigerian Letter Fraud
You may have seen right through the mannerly pleas from that overseas executor hoping you'll help him launder millions of euros or dinars or guilders, but not everybody did. The median haul for a Nigerian 419 scammer: $5,100 dollars. And they're not going to be sending you 30% like they promised.
The Up-and-Comer: Non-Delivery Fraud
It's second only to auction fraud in its popularity and it's on the rise. To make sure that suspiciously well-priced Xbox Elite or male enhancement supplement is actually going to find its way to your door, the FBI advises you to "not judge a person/company by their fancy website" and to pay with a credit card, so you may dispute the charges once you realize you've been had.
Most eCorrupt Place In the Country: Washington, D.C.
Shocking, eh? Barely edging out Nevada, the beltway encircles 75 internet criminals for every 100,000 residents, making them slightly more prevalent than prostate cancer.
Most eGullible Place In the Country: Alaska
Alaskans have 12 different words for "hornswoggle". For whatever reason, if you live in the Last Frontier, you're more than 8 times as likely to fall victim to an online bamboozling (or to report having done so, anyway) as a South Dakotan.
Most Duplicitous Month: March
What is it about March? The IC3 received significantly more complaints in March 2006 than in any other month - more than 20,000. There was a similar isolated uptick in March of 2005. It seems counterintuitive from a weather perspective. With the snow melting and the birds chirping, you'd think cybercriminals' fancy would turn to thoughts of purse snatching and other outdoorsy felonies. Nor does a March swell seem to sync well the academic calendar. Do people simply fritter away more time online in March? Matt Drudge thinks so. He reported today that March 2007 was the site's highest volume month in 12 years, beating out the previous record holder, March 2006. Maybe it's tied to the 90-day expiration of all that security software that came pre-installed on Christmas-bought PCs. Whatever the reason, March 2006 also brought happy news, namely the incarceration of the final honoree...
Internet Fraud/International Terrorism Crossover Artist Of the Year: Steven Pruette
Pruette allegedly sent the scam victim, an Oconee County resident, a fraudulent second chance offer posing as the original seller of an item on EBay. After wiring the money, the victim learned that EBay was in no way involved in the transaction and he promptly filed a complaint with the IC3. The complaint was forwarded to his local sheriff’s department. After reviewing the complaint, Lt. David Kilpatrick advised Western Union of the fraud. Pruette, who had been using a Miami, FL address, was nabbed when he entered a Western Union location in Chicago, IL and attempted to pick up the funds. Pruette is a Romanian national and is currently being held by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He is believed to be part of a multi-state cell which sends funds to Romania and other countries to support terrorist efforts.
The Other Side of Darkness
"I feel so rested and refreshed. Get me a toothbrush."