Carniphobia Reaches New Dizzying Heights
WELLINGTON (AFP) - They say you are what you eat, and growing numbers of vegans are shunning sex with meat-eaters because they see them as "a graveyard for animals", a New Zealand researcher says.
These vegans not only refuse to eat meat or animal products but refuse to have sexual contact with meat-eaters because their bodies are made up of dead animals, the researcher was reported saying in The Press newspaper on Tuesday.
Annie Potts, co-director of the New Zealand Centre of Human and Animal Studies at New Zealand's Canterbury University, said she coined the term vegansexuals during her research.
"I would not want to be intimate with someone whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance," [one such vegansexual] said.
If meat-eaters' bodies are animal graveyards, does that mean vegans are rotting compost heaps?
(HT: HA headlines)
Consumer Confidence Highest Since Pre-9/11
My, aren't we feeling self-assured.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Consumer confidence hit a six-year high in July, a widely watched gauge of sentiment showed on Tuesday, as Americans shrugged off falling home prices to focus on a healthy jobs market, instead.
The New York-based Conference Board said that its Consumer Confidence Index, rebounded to 112.6, its highest level since August 2001 when it recorded a 114.0 reading. That compared to a revised 105.3 in June. The July 24 cutoff for the preliminary survey of 5,000 U.S. households was before last week's stock market tumble, however.
"An improvement in business conditions and the job market has lifted consumers' spirits in July," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Looking ahead, consumers are more upbeat about short-term economic prospects, mainly the result of a decline in the number of pessimists, not an increase in the number of optimists. This rebound in confidence suggests economic activity may gather a little momentum in the coming months."
Indeed it may, given that consumer spending makes up roughly 70% of U.S. GDP.
The Commerce Department's June Personal Income and Outlays estimate (pdf), released earlier today, had shown zero inflation-adjusted growth in consumer spending versus the previous month, so this forward-looking indicator is not just remarkably buoyant, it's spectacularly well-timed. For fans of economic growth anyway.
Chief Justice Roberts Hospitalized After Suffering Grand Mal Seizure
Very disconcerting and apparently not the first time, though a SCOTUS spokeswoman says there's no cause for concern, following a medical work-up.
WASHINGTON - Chief Justice John Roberts suffered a seizure at his summer home in Maine on Monday, causing a fall that resulted in minor scrapes, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.
He will remain in a hospital in Maine overnight.
Roberts, 52, was taken by ambulance to the Penobscot Bay Medical Center, where he underwent a "thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern," Arberg said in a statement.
Roberts had a similar episode in 1993, she said.
Ace offers up some highly relevant perspective.
The speculation is that he's epileptic. Let me say, as an epileptic who gets grand mal seizures, he is epileptic. One seizure, maybe, possibly, it's some other malady, some accute condition.
A second one, it's chronic, and you're epileptic.
In case anyone has any doubt, it is a quite livable condition if medicine can control it (which medicine can, in most cases, though it might take a couple of tries to get the right medicine to the patient).
I'd also suggest Atkins for Roberts. Low-carb diets are often prescribed to young epileptics -- high carbs, high sugar meals tend to provoke seizures -- and since I've been on Atkins or semi-Atkins I've had no seizures and very few "halos" (pre-seizure like problems).
Via SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court has released this statement:
"Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., took a fall about 2 p.m. today near his summer home in Maine after suffering what doctors describe as a benign idiopathic seizure. He experienced minor scrapes in the fall. The Chief Justice is fully recovered from the incident. He was taken by ambulance to Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine, where he underwent a thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern. He will remain overnight at the medical center as a precaution. The Chief Justice experienced a similar event in 1993.
"The Chief Justice is 52 years old and was appointed to the Court in 2005."
Photo of the Day
"A'hole of The Year Award" Accepting No Further Applications
Behold, the worst conceivable treatment of a good samaritan:
James Scarabino was driving along New York's Long Island Expressway early Thursday when he stopped to help a motorist stranded on the side of the road near a wrecked 2007 Chevrolet Corvette.
The motorist came around, pushed Scarabino out of the driver's seat and then drove off in his 1994 Chrysler LHS, police said.
Scarabino, 30, said he tried to stop the man and was dragged a short distance. He was not injured.
"Obviously I thought, 'What am I doing? This isn't worth it.' And I let go," Scarabino said. "I hope the police catch him, and I hope he gets what he deserves."
Unlikely. What this guy deserves is generally frowned upon, even at Gitmo.
Nor was that his first misdeed of the day.
Before the carjacking, the man in the Corvette had been speeding on the highway when it rear-ended another car, injuring two occupants, Suffolk County police said. He fled that scene and later lost control of the Corvette and flipped it. That's when Scarabino noticed the crash.
Scarabino's car was recovered later Thursday, abandoned at a gas station. The carjacker was still at large.
Mephistopheles, get ready to uncordon that "Special Section".
So smile, damn it. And do it right.
Hillary Requests 16th Minute Of Fame For Her Cleavage
Mmph - I thought we'd all blessedly moved past this. All but Senator Clinton herself, apparently, who implores us all to just move past it.
Just as soon as we pay up, that is, to atone for our having looked upon her with such lasciviousness.
From Ann Lewis, Senior Advisor, Hillary for President, via e-mail:
Would you believe that The Washington Post wrote a 746-word article on Hillary's cleavage?
Apparently, it was showing when she gave a speech in the Senate about the skyrocketing cost of higher education. Now, I've seen some off-topic press coverage -- but talking about body parts? That is grossly inappropriate.
Frankly, focusing on women's bodies instead of their ideas is insulting. It's insulting to every woman who has ever tried to be taken seriously in a business meeting. It's insulting to our daughters -- and our sons -- who are constantly pressured by the media to grow up too fast.
Take a stand against this kind of coarseness and pettiness in American culture. And take a stand for Hillary, the most experienced, most qualified candidate running for president.
Click to contribute
This coming just a week after they trotted Bill out to defend Hillary's femininity, Team Hillary seems strangely caught up with reminding us that she's a woman by asking us to stop focusing on it.
Perhaps it's because the fairer half of the national electorate hasn't yet warmed to her as much as she might've expected.
2nd Quarter Growth Ahead Of Expectations, Fastest In a Year, Above 5-Year Average
This morning's advance second quarter GDP report from the Commerce Department had its work cut out for it, if it was to change the gloomy sentiment on Wall Street. An hour ahead of the opening bell, futures indicated a significantly lower opening, supplementing yesterday's bloodletting.
And while the report wasn't a screamer, it appears to have been just solid enough to convince the market to dry its eyes and tiptoe cautiously back into positive territory.
Second quarter GDP grew at an annualized rate of 3.4%, the swiftest pace since since 1Q06, when the economy poured on 5.6% growth. Economists were expecting today's number to come in at 3.3%.
Additionally, GDP growth for 2004-2006 was revised down to an average pace of 3.2% per year (from 3.5%), meaning the most recent quarter appears to be above-trend, compared with the average growth rate over the 5+ years since the end of the post-bubble recession.
The anemic 0.7% growth seen in the first quarter of this year had people a little spooked about whether housing woes, tightening credit, and high oil prices might be taking a big enough toll on consumer spending to derail the Goldilocks-style (hot enough to sustain solid growth and low unemployment, cool enough to avoid problematic inflation) economy we've been enjoying these last few years.
To be sure, some day the bears will come for Goldilocks (see what I did there?), but - despite the market having turned negative again over the course of my typing this post - that day is not today.
The New Republic Box Set
New Republic Pictures is proud to release this special edition box set, featuring the 2003 modern classic Shattered Glass and this never-before-released, straight-to-DVD follow-up film Doubting Thomas.
It's another whimsical journalistic romp, following the misadventures of Scott Thomas Beauchamp from the front lines in Baghdad to the fast and loose editorial desks of one of the nation's most famously compromised opinion magazines!
Romance! Pseudonyms! Perfunctory fact-checking!
Customers who bought this title also bought:
John E'Wards Pulls On His Bad Idea Jeans
You know all that economic prosperity that we've enjoyed in the four years since the 2003 investment income tax cuts were signed into law? The Dow soaring more than 60%, unemployment falling from over 6% to 4.5%, the longest period of unbroken job creation under a single President since we began keeping score?
Well, He Of Immaculate Grooming is sick and tired of it.
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, once again seeking to drive the 2008 campaign debate within his party, will today propose raising the capital gains tax rate to 28% from 15%, and use the money to finance tax cuts for middle and lower income families.
The redistributionist argument in this case is a wholly fictitious - if well-worn - bit of populist misdirection, a little pseudo-economic razzmatazz designed to spotlight only the ostensible societal benefit of redistributing wealth. The tacit premise of social betterment necessarily following incrementally socialist tax policy is certainly itself flawed enough to beg rejoinder. But in this case, it's irrelevant. Edwards proposes using the incremental revenues from his tax hike "to finance tax cuts for middle and lower income families."
Empirically, theoretically, logically, we know that unwinding the investment income tax cuts not only won't increase tax revenues, it will almost certainly significant shrink them. The growth effects of the 2001 and 2003 investment income tax cuts have been immense. The budget deficit peaked at $413 billion in fiscal 2004, which began just four months after the second round of cuts was enacted. In just three years, that figure fell by more than half, to an estimated $205 billion in fiscal 2007.
Over those same three years, tax revenues (those pander chips Edwards is so eager to throw at the other America) have risen an inflation-adjusted 25%, the largest increase in almost 40 years. The catalyst for this revenue growth is precisely what Edwards wants to quash, as a poorly reasoned means of generating incremental tax revenues to fund his collectivist aims.
We're almost certainly still to the right of the hump in the Laffer Curve, so any left-leaning candidate who chases redistribution at the expense of growth ought to at least get their economics straight, if not their politics. In short, you can finance more handouts with cuts than with hikes.
But this idea of rewarding (or, at least, insufficiently severely punishing) wealth creation can be highly unpalatable to the more facile-minded redistributionists. When the pandering gland becomes so engorged with populist dreck that reason completely gives way to rhetoric, theory and empiricism are trifling matters. It simply has to be true that bludgeoning Privileged America will benefit Pauperly America, and - so long as we draw the right line between the two - the latter will be more densely populated.
Tax revenues are up - it bears repeating - despite tax rates having been lowered, simply because those tax cuts have spurred economic growth. And not just any growth, but hardy, robust, rib-sticking growth. Growth that's unfazed by war, geopolitical unrest, global terrorist threats, persistently high energy prices, unprecedented natural disasters, and other economic shocks and headwinds.
Proposing to choke off a key fuel source for that growth - and with a straight face, suggesting doing so will fetch additional tax revenues - is not just ideologically flawed. It's not just bad policy, bad politics, and bad economics. It's flat out, straight up, no two ways about it, stoopid.
Not only does Edwards' brand of soft-socialism threaten to slow growth, reduce tax revenues, and constrain prosperity for both Americas, they threaten to further weaken our ability as a nation to compete in the global market. While several post-communist countries (including Slovakia, Estonia, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania) are reveling in economic booms sparked by their adoption of low, flat tax rates, the U.S. is allowing its competitive position (and consequently, its citizens' prospects for future prosperity) to deteriorate, thanks to our reliance on the most punitive corporate tax scheme on the planet (including avowedly socialist states).
The Edwards story quoted above is from The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog. Approrpiately enough, a click away at the Journal's Real Time Economics blog, some better economists than John Edwards are weighing in on just this issue.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, speaking at a Treasury Department event on business taxes, said the problems of higher U.S. tax rates in a global economy are being masked by the low global cost of capital and declining exchange rates. ... As the cost of capital rises, the problems of higher U.S. tax rates relative to other countries will become more apparent, he said.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson earlier opened the event, saying, “Our current business tax system is clearly not optimal.” Paulson called for a comprehensive review of the way U.S. business is taxed, arguing the current system distorts the economy and harms business growth. “It is time for a comprehensive look at our system for taxing business,” he said. Paulson echoed comments he made in a recent Journal op-ed.
However, Paulson’s push for streamlining the corporate tax code is out of synch with Democrats in Congress. Democrats in the Senate and the House of Representatives, under new balanced budget rules, are pursuing a wide range of corporate tax hikes and revenue raising options ...
Greenspan said political opposition will occur even though economists widely agree that lower corporate tax rates can boost jobs by increasing productivity. “Regrettably, there is still a great deal of populism in this country,” he said.
Contrary to what he'd have you believe, opposition to John Edwards is not all rooted in his fussy tonsorial upkeep. There's plenty of arrantly numb-skulled, even dangerous, policy spilling out this man in his frenzied and awkwardly waged campaign of class warfare to justify widespread opposition from both Americas.
"Yes, She's Got Them All On the Run..."
"...but her heart belongs to just one... Her heart belongs to Tangerine."
Democratic YouTube Debate: Watchable Remix
If you escaped catching site of Monday's CNN/YouTube Presidential cattle call, count yourself lucky for saving those previous life minutes from irreversible squander.
All in all, it was utterly forgettable (save this moment). Happily, the whole affair has been distilled and re-cut for a more entertaining - and equally illustrative - viewing experience.
"And If It Stops Moving, Subsidize It."
The Agriculture Department sent $1.1 billion in farm payments to more than 170,000 dead people over a seven-year period, congressional investigators say.
It's bad enough to subsidize an activity that the free market is doing its damnedest to tell us is a poor incremental use of time and money, even when the beneficiaries are upright. But it's downright...
"...unconscionable that the Department of Agriculture would think that a dead person was actively engaged in the business of farming," said [Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck] Grassley.
The auditors said they found that the department has not been conducting the necessary checks to ensure that subsidy payments are proper.
Well, a quick consultation of an economics textbook would be enough to identify the subsidy payments as improper. Still, setting aside the economic apostasy, the practice of subsidizing deceased farmers rubs even the most devotedly wanton redistributionists the wrong way.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said the report bolsters the argument there should be lower ceilings and stricter limits on farm subsidies.
"Given extremely tight budget restraints, it is no longer tolerable to permit billions of dollars in farm bill payments to go to individuals who in instances don't even farm or are no longer alive," he said.
By a Show Of Hands, How Many Of You Are Hypocrites?
And not garden-variety hypocrites, mind you. Bashful, reluctantly forthcoming hypocrites.
Travel-weary Mike Gravel, fresh off his train-and-bus trek and angling for a ride home, solidifies his place as my favorite Democrat in this contest.
This isn't just hypocricy, rendered fair game each time one of these candidates lectures voters about their duty to rein in their carbon footprints; it's just laughably shabby politics. Much hay was made of the Dems' jetsetting to and from the earlier debates. Did no one's murderboards proffer this exact question this time around?
More debate "highlights" at Hot Air.
Old Media Obit: "The Paper" Shuffles Loose
Weekly World News is shutting down.
American Media has decided to suspend publication of Weekly World News, both the print publication and the web site. No reason was given at press time, although reliable sources do tell us that management turned down at least one offer to buy the publication.
The weekly supermarket tabloid—known as the home of "Bat Boy" and other less-than-probable stories—has long had staffing connections with the science fiction, fantasy, and horror fields.
Mrs. Mackenzie must be heartbroken.
Brace yourselves for a dark and terrible (if fleeting) reign!
Cheney to become president…briefly
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Bush will undergo a routine colonoscopy Saturday, and will transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney during the procedure, expected to take about two and a half hours, the chief White House spokesman said.
Potty mouths, take note.
A Senate committee on Thursday acted to restore the government's authority to fine television and radio broadcasters for airing profanities, even if they are fleeting references.
For years the agency punished broadcasters for airing profanities only if they referred to a sexual or excretory activity.
The agency changed course, contending that use of such common profanities and two words beginning with "s" and "f" are inherently indecent. Broadcasters, led by Fox Broadcasting, challenged the FCC's decision.
We had probably better go ahead and set up a profanity fund for Chris Matthews.
THE (bleep) hit the fan on MSNBC's "Hardball" when Chris Matthews uttered a prohibited expletive on the air.
Matthews apparently did not know he was back on the air when a promo spot ended and he suddenly appeared on screen in the middle of a conversation with some off-screen staffer.
". . . we're all reacting here and putting on s**t! We have nothing to [offer]," he said just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
He quickly realized he was on the air and tried to recover, but wound up sputtering gibberish.
Bill Clinton: Hillary Is All Woman
This is apparently the week during the campaign when first spouse hopefuls sound off on Hillary Clinton's femininity.
Former President Bill Clinton defended his wife’s record on women’s issues Thursday, two days after Elizabeth Edwards contended her husband would be a stronger advocate for women than his Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with the online magazine Salon Tuesday, Edwards said Clinton is “just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see. John is.”
“Keeping that door open to women is actually more a policy of John’s than Hillary’s,” Elizabeth Edwards added, noting that she was “sympathetic” to the fact that “sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women’s issues.”
“I don’t think she’s trying to be a man,” Bill Clinton said Thursday about his wife. “I don’t think it’s inconsistent with being a woman that you can also be knowledgeable on military and security affairs and be strong when the occasion demands it.
“That’s — I don’t consider that being manly. I consider that being a leader,” he added.
Secrets Of the Manbearpig Diet
Do you enjoy the sense of adulation you feel when lecturing the blandishing masses about their lifestyle choices, but you're not sure your own contradictory habits render you sufficiently hypocritical to reassure yourself of your fundamental superiority to the common folk?
ONLY one week after Live Earth, Al Gore's green credentials slipped while hosting his daughter's wedding in Beverly Hills.
Gore and his guests at the weekend ceremony dined on Chilean sea bass - arguably one of the world's most threatened fish species.
Also known as Patagonian toothfish, the species is under pressure from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities in the Southern Ocean, jeopardising the sustainability of remaining stocks.
The species is currently managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, the body which introduced a catch and trade documentation scheme as an attempt to tackle illegal poaching of this species.
How do you ask an endangered Patagonian toothfish to be the last to die for a bloated hypocrite's daughter's wedding feast?
(HT: Mary Katharine)
Update: Weddingfish not endangered after all.
Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will force senators to hang around throughout the night for another installment of "Democrat Political Theater." In case you're not convinced of the theatrics, consider that no news outlet thinks sufficient votes exist for cloture, and
Later Tuesday evening, Senate Democrats, along with anti-war groups such as Americans United for Change and Moveon.org, planned to hold a candlelight ceremony in the upper Senate park.
I have heard Senators Reid (D-NV), Durbin (D-IL), and Boxer (D-CA) justify this futile session by claiming that the troops deserve this debate.
As a military member and Pentagon resident, I can unequivocally say that the Democrats are routinely misrepresenting the views and wishes of our service men and women. Iraq is a persistent topic in the building, and I participate in frank discussions on the subject everyday. The vast majority of service members believe the outcome in Iraq is far from decided. They have seen the progress there and want time to make sure it remains.
[Flip added]: Update: Michelle Malkin liveblogged/is continuing to liveblog both the sleepover and the awkward morning after.
Dow Pierces 14,000, Voodoo Economic Trend Continues
When the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 14,000 threshold soon after this morning's opening bell, it was the second time in 3 months that the index had broken a new 1,000 mark. Today's producer price index data gave further support to the idea that inflation is continuing to moderate, notwithstanding continued strength in the labor market (typically an inflationary pressure). That strength is illustrated by the curiously low unemployment rate, which has been driving downward consistently over the last 4+ years, roughly in parallel with the raging bull market which has seen the Dow surge 86% since its 2003 lows.
It's no coincidence that this resilient Goldilocks scenario followed the sweeping Jobs and Growth Tax Reconciliation Act of 2003 (aka the capital gains and dividend income tax cuts). With that master stroke of the supply-side pen, our poorly favored President ushered in a period of remarkably unflappable economic prosperity.
At 46 months and counting, Bush already holds the record for the longest period of consecutive job creation under a single administration. If the streak continues through September, it will break the all-time record set jointly by Reagan and Bush 41 between 1986 to 1990 (a streak fueled in no small part by Reagan's sweeping 1986 tax cuts).
Bear in mind that the new Congressional majority is not so keen on prolonging this widespread growth and prosperity, if it means acknowledging the tremendous impact of the 2003 tax cuts and begrudgingly extending them. Rather than acknowledging the significant tax hike represented by a prospective failure to extend or make permanent those cuts, growth-haters prefer to highlight the need to "close the loophole" or "roll back the giveaways to the wealthy". Wrenching the semantics is popular among tax-hikers who count on the idea that enough people will be sufficiently bedazzled by the faux-populism of punishing investment and productivity, that they won't notice the clear causal connection (supported by both theory and mountains of fresh empirical evidence) between pro-growth fiscal policy and economic prosperity throughout the economic spectrum.
Still, as the superb economic impact of Bush's first term fiscal agenda grows ever more superb, it's starting to become difficult to hide.
John E'wards: Magically Boring!
Newsbusters blows the lid off a curious segment from this morning's "Good Morning America" on ABC. Johnny Coiffeur was laying out his bold Iraq withdrawal plan, which - perhaps due to its very boldness - promptly lulled the man behind him to sleep. One minute later, the man vanishes.
NB suspects ABC may have shooed the snoozer away while they cut to another camera, lest their viewers get the impression that Edwards may be an uninspiring dullard.
Me, I prefer to think the slumberous fellow was whisked away (Langoliers-style) to that other America, where all haircuts cost $1,250 and the "slummy" folks next door never deign "scare" their more aristocratic neighbors.
That, or heaved into the back alley behind the studio, at the hands of Silky-loyal GMA producers. Either way, he's in a better place.
110th Congress' Sucks:Rules Ratio Hits 9:1
36% to 4%. Oif.
Take This, Paraskavedekatriaphobiaphobes
I, perhaps like you, was surprised to realize today was Friday the 13th, only because you generally don't make it to the actual day without a few people reminding you that it's out there, looming menacingly at the end of the week. This time, somehow I escaped the typical heads-ups and only noticed we'd happened upon one because I saw some visitors landing on the blog via a Friday the 13th post I apparently wrote in January 2006. (I seem to have skated completely through this past April's Friday the 13th, but then again, we were fairly consumed as a nation by the awkward spectacle of Presidential candidates pawing at the carcass of Don Imus' career, trying to wring out a few extra drops of sweet, sweet pander.)
In any event, the original post was full of interesting facts about this meaningless day (using the words "interesting" and "full" liberally), which I myself found mildly diverting, upon rediscovering the post. Hopefully you will too, because I'm reproducing it wholesale, in lieu of generating any original content to mark the occasion.
Friday the 13th - Secrets Revealed!
If all you know about Friday the 13th (of which today is the first of two instances in 2006) is that it's Jason Voorhees' mom who turns out to be the slasher, this post is for you.
- Christian theology engendered a fear of both Fridays and the number 13 (making their temporal confluence the source of some seriously bad mojo).
- There are 13 months in the lunar (pagan) calendar.
- On a Friday the 13th in 1306, King Philip of France arrested the revered Knights Templar and began torturing them, marking the occasion as a day of evil.
- The Apostle Judas (who turned out to be a total Judas) was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. Mythic Norse hero Balder was killed at a banquet by Loki the god of mischief, who'd crashed the party of 12, bringing the total to 13.
- Lesson: Never dine in a group of 13.
- Both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment. In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose.
- Lesson: Never be executed on a Friday.
- Ill-fated Apollo 13 launched at 14:13 EST from Complex 39 (3*13) and would have hit Lunar Orbit Injection on April 13th.
- Lesson: Two Oscars in a row is the limit.
- Paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th, said to be suffered by 8% of the population. Paraskavedekatriaphobiaphobia is the fear of being told this bit of trivia every Friday the 13th.
- Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13 in general (which must be exhausting).
Ya Don't Say:
- Over any given 4 century span, the 13th of the month is more likely to be a Friday than any other day.
- John Mayer's "Room for Squares" album has 14 tracks, but the 13th is just a split second of dead air.
- I live on the one of those fake 14th floors, which is actually the 13th floor. This phenomenon (like every phenomenon) is apparently the subject of conspiracy theories.
Huckabee Shames Health Nut Documentarian
"Frankly, Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs so much in this country. He clearly is one of the reasons that we have a very expensive system. I know that from my own personal experience," said Huckabee, who lost more than 110 pounds and became an avid runner after he was diagnosed with diabetes.
"I know how much more my health care cost when I didn't take care of myself than when I do take care of myself, not only in terms of doctor visits but regular diseases, illnesses, chronic things that come up, monthly prescription bills," Huckabee said. "All of those things have gone dramatically down since I've taken care of myself and worked to live a healthier lifestyle."
Speaking of Huckabee, this seems like an awfully good time for him to wedge his way into the frontrunners' circle. With McCain's long-assured downfall having come into play a little earlier than expected and with Fred still pacing up and down the sidelines (who, by the way (and to mix metaphors), I fully expect to be a bright and spectacularly fleeting flash in the pan whenever he does jump in), there seems to be a vacancy developing alongside Rudy and Mitt in that natural triumvirate toward which media and public attention spans seem to equilibrate at any given time. I've been patiently hearting Huckabee for a while now and if he managed to wiggle through this narrow window between McCain's downfall and Fred's ascension and lay claim to that third frontrunner spot, I'd be in a very contented place with the GOP field.
That said, however fleeting Fred's post-announcement favor may be, his current status as a poll-leading pre-announcement candidate might be enough to crowd out any second-tier comers for the time being. In that case, the third seat at the GOP frontrunner table probably won't open until fall, whenever we're done being enamored with Thompson, at which point that third seat may become a little more elusive as fundraising months tick by and an accelerated primary season draws closer.
Fred notwithstanding, the iron seems like it might not get any hotter than it is currently. So if you're reading, Governor Huckabee, the time is now.
And keep it up with the one-liners. Whether the subject is Michael Moore or Johnny Coiffeur, Republican primary voters and contributors will always respond to the capable dressing down of a self-important hypocrite.
Holy Cow, er, Bull.
Now that's a rally.
Closing at 13,861.73, the Dow not only leapt way into record territory, but put up its best single session gain (283.86 points) in nearly 5 years.
The sloppy AP Business desk claims it's only the best gain since March 2003, referring to March 17, when the Dow gained 282.21 points. And if I know anything about which number is bigger than the other number (HT: Hermes), I beg to differ.
We have to go back to October 15, 2002 to find a today-topping session. Stronger-than-expected retail sales reports, upping what had been lukewarm estimates about the pace of economic growth in the second quarter. Merger news (particularly in the tin trade) poured additional fuel on the rally, sending Dow component Alcoa up more than 6%.
The Fatuity of Jerry Nadler (D-Ground Zero)
Lifted from The Corner:
A few weeks ago, former White House aide Bradford Berenson testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the much-debated question of whether suspected-terrorist detainees should have habeas-corpus rights.
During one exchange, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) had this to say: "I don't see how you can pick up someone in New York and say that his rights are different or less because he's accused of being an enemy combatant, based on whatever information, as opposed to his being accused of being a murderer. . . ."
Berenson responded: "[W]e need to be clear about what that means. It means that if we had captured Mohammed Atta on September 10th, we would have had no choice but to treat him as a criminal defendant, which would have meant no interrogation, no intelligence, and the World Trade Center is coming down."
Nadler interjected, "That's exactly right."
The exchange is around the 51 minute mark here.
Nadler clearly received his training at the John F. Kerry School of Terrorism Policy.
"Millions" of Peaceniks Pledge To Reduce Surrender-Stumping By 97%
Finally, a little peace and quiet.
I hereby make a commitment that on Friday September 21 & the Third Friday of every subsequent month, I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq.
I wouldn't have guessed that millions (or - to be precise - 1,152 at time of post) of war protesters would be inclined to or capable of going 29 days without agitating for failure. But if that's to be the new daily routine, broken only on Third Fridays, it'll mark a drastic adjustment for the forfeiture hardliners, forced to squeeze a month's worth of pent-up defeatism and paranoid imperial fantasies into a single day of righteous caterwauling.
And what a busy day it'll be, what with all that month-long repressed indignation and so many hackneyed ways to display it.
Join with millions (sic) to:
- Wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands
- Buy no gas on Moratorium days
- Pressure politicians and the media
- Hold vigils, pickets, rallies, and teach-ins
- Hold special religious services
- Coordinate events in music, art, and culture
- Host film showings, talks, and educational events
- Organize student actions: Teach-ins, school closings, etc.
What, no fasting? Nothing effects societal change like fasting. Particularly if supplemented with breath-holding and foot-stamping. C'mon, it's once a month. If you're going to throw a million-man tantrum, you may as well commit to it.
Feared Security Breach Diverts Flight to JFK
Assuming this winds up being perfectly innocuous, this is still one eagle-eyed flight attendant.
At 1:53 am, American 136 [en route from Los Angeles to London] was diverted while over Newfoundland to New York due to the questionable boarding circumstances of passenger, a federal official told NBC News.
A flight attendant had witnessed the passenger riding on the Los Angeles employee shuttle bus from the employee parking lot to the airport employee entrance earlier then recognized him on the flight after it was en route to London Heathrow, the official said.
American Airlines security later confirmed the identity of the passenger and the unusual process by which he boarded the aircraft.
At 3:52 a.m., a JFK TSA agent reported that the flight landed without incident and was met by local law enforcement and TSA at the gate.
False alarm or not, that's some fine vigilance. Let's just hope the passenger wasn't Muslim, or American (and the flight attendant) might have a lawsuit on their hands.
Nannyism In New York (a Regrettably Continuing Series)
A New York State Senator has introduced a bill that would outlaw the use of styrofoam in food services.
The bill, which would apply to restaurants, fast-food chains, supermarkets, and other vendors, would require businesses to phase out Styrofoam products within one year.
City schools throw away 150 million Styrofoam meal trays a year.
"Picture Styrofoam, and you picture a product produced from petroleum that takes up to 500 years to fully disintegrate," [State Senator Liz Krueger] said in a statement.
(In the spirit of full disclosure, the State Senator in question was my opponent in the 2006 election in New York's 26th Senate District.)
Like New York's enacted and/or proposed bannings of the use of trans fats, the "N word", aluminum baseball bats, whole milk, foie gras, and iPodding-while-street-crossing, this is another disheartening example of government stripping away day-to-day liberties in order to constrain behavior to centrally mandated norms. To resist such initiatives is to dare to defy the judgment of our duly elected betters and to presume that the people's decision making abilities ought to hold sway in a free society.
Bizarro 2007: The World Without a Dethroned, Deposed, Deceased Saddam Hussein
From WSJ's Opinion Journal:
Given the problems and U.S. casualties in Iraq, polls show a large majority of the American people believe the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Yet if we imagine what the world would look like today if Saddam Hussein had not been deposed, it seems clear that almost no outcome in Iraq would be as adverse to the interests of the United States as today's world with Saddam still in power.
So, while we are justifiably dismayed about what is happening today in Iraq, we should not allow this to obscure the central point--that the world is a better and safer place because Saddam is out of power. Looked at this way, we have already achieved a lot; what remains now--as the president and John McCain have said--is to steady ourselves and see it through.
The "We'd be worse off with Saddam still in power" argument is sound and meaningful and, at this point, well enough worn that it's been rendered rhetorically hollow. But the linked op-ed by Peter Wallison, entitled "What We Pre-Empted", steps through the hypothetical implications of this nightmarish "counter-factual" in logical and uncommonly visceral fashion.
Excerpted above is merely Wallison's hypothesis. The "..." represents a 6-paragraph thought experiment about where the world would be, had the U.S. Congress not authorized the liberation of the Iraqi people. It's worth a read.
There but by the grace of 71% of the House and Senate go we.
For those of you keeping score at home, the only top tier Presidential candidate with a Senatorial pedigree who either voted against the force authorization (or wasn't eligible to cast such a vote but claims he would have) is Barack Obama. Despite their rhetoric, Hillary Clinton and John E'wards (now ruefully) cast the correct vote. Obama must count himself lucky to be such a newbie that he wasn't around when our country recognized the grave global threat posed by Saddam Hussein and summoned the stoutheartedness to act.
That said, other than McCain, no GOP frontrunners carry Congressional pedigrees, so they're free to invent hypothetical retroactive votes Obama-style. But since Rudy, Mitt, and Fred remain avowed supporters of our mission in Iraq, these other A-list Republican contenders have no motive to wax dovishly nuanced in reaction to waning public support for the war. As such, they offer no dissonance between their voting records and their current war stances.
Thus, as the singularly pseudo-credible original war opposer among the frontrunners, Obama finds himself alone in the improbably lauded position of favoring Wallison's hypothetical dystopia.
Bernanke: You All Settle Down and Maybe I'll Lower Rates
Speaking at a National Bureau of Economic Research conference today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke discussed the link between the public's inflationary expectations and the Fed's interest rate policy.
"Undoubtedly, the state of inflation expectations greatly influences actual inflation and thus the central bank's ability to achieve price stability," Bernanke said in a mostly academic speech to a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
If investors, consumers and businesses feel confident that the Fed will keep prices stable, the Fed chief suggested, they may be less inclined to act in ways that could aggravate inflation. Bernanke also said that these groups may be less inclined in such circumstances to worry that inflation will eat away at investments and paychecks, and might feel better about longer-term financial planning.
One really nice way the Fed could help quell inflation worries (and the resulting, self-fulfillingly inflationary effect) would be to lower its interest rate target. After all, if Uncle Ben's sanguine enough to take his foot off the brake, why shouldn't we be? But he's unlikely to do that unless and until the FOMC sees (as phrased in its most recent policy statement) a "sustained moderation in inflation pressures" which is "convincingly demonstrated." And since Bernanke sees public perception of inflation as a key inflation pressure, we're left somewhat deadlocked.
Bernanke wants to see a moderation in inflationary pressures (including the public's fear of inflation) before lowering rates, a move that would - by virtue of indicating the Fed's own comfort with the inflationary outlook - soothe the public's inflationary expectations. It's a virtuous cycle just waiting to be triggered, which must be frustrating to anyone stumping for a rate cut. Even so, with the economy managing to hold onto its current, unusually long Goldilocks period of sustainable growth amid low inflation and low unemployment, it's hard to fault Bernanke for not wanting to rock the boat, even if it means delaying our eventual salad days of mutual confidence in price stability.
Latest McCain "Shake-Up" Sounds Like a Death Rattle
Two key McCain staffers have just either jumped ship or been asked to walk the plank.
John McCain's campaign manager and chief strategist are gone from their leadership roles, according to two officials with knowledge of the staff changes.
One official said Terry Nelson resigned as campaign manager for the Republican presidential candidate and John Weaver stepped down from his post of chief strategist on Tuesday. But another official said Nelson was fired.
In their own words:
"This morning I informed Senator McCain that I would be resigning from his presidential campaign, effective immediately. It has been a tremendous honor to serve Senator McCain and work on his campaign. I believe John McCain is the most experienced and prepared candidate to represent the Republican Party and defeat the Democratic nominee next year." - Terry Nelson, Campaign Manager
"As of today, I have resigned my position as chief strategist to John McCain's presidential campaign. It has been my honor and a distinct privilege to serve someone who has always put our country first. I believe that most Americans will come to the conclusion that I have long known there is only one person equipped to serve as our nation's chief executive and deal with the challenges we face, and that person is John McCain." - John Weaver, Chief Strategist
Word is the separation was not amicable.
Update: McCain has issued a statement, in which the candidate promises additional weeks' worth of death rattling:
"Today, John Weaver and Terry Nelson offered their resignations from my presidential campaign, which I accepted with regret and deep gratitude for their dedication, hard work and friendship. Terry is a consummate professional, who has ably lead this campaign through a challenging political environment. John Weaver has been my friend and trusted counselor for many years and to whom I am greatly indebted. In the days and weeks ahead this campaign will move forward, and I will continue to address the issues of greatest concern to the American people, laying out my vision for a secure and prosperous America."
Laws of Physics Safe (For Now)
The latest word from those Irishmen looking to thwart conversation of energy via "time variant magneto-mechanical interactions" is that they've had to scrub the public launch of their free energy machine.
For the time being anyway.
Further to Steorn’s announcement yesterday (5th July) regarding the technical difficulties experienced during the installation of its “Orbo” technology at the Kinentica Museum in London, Steorn has decided to postpone the demonstration until further notice.
Sean McCarthy CEO stated that “technical problems arose during the installation of the demonstration unit in the display case on Wednesday evening. These problems were primarily due to excessive heat from the lighting in the main display area. Attempts to replace those parts affected by the heat led to further failures and as a result we have to postpone the public demonstration until a future date.”
He continued that “we apologise for the inconvenience caused to all the people who had made arrangements to visit the demonstration or were planning on viewing the demonstration online.”
Over the next few weeks the company will explore alternative dates for the public demonstration.
Shame, that. The dawn of free, clean energy would've been so nicely timed with tomorrow's globe-spanning, carbon-spewing, garbage-generating awareness fest.
Bush Economy Nears All-Time Record
The American economy added 132,000 jobs in June, extending the unbroken streak of job creation to 46 months, dating back to September 2003. Unemployment held steady at 4.5%. The Bush economy eclipsed the tech bubble-fueled Clinton record of 33 months more than a year ago and is now one month closer to the all-time record of 48 months, set jointly by Reagan and Bush 41 between 1986 and 1990.
Once again, it's worth pointing out the breathtaking coincidence that 1986 was the year of Reagan's boldest tax cuts, while 2003 was the year of Bush's boldest tax cuts. The ones that Congress still needs to make permanent, lest they expire in 2010. The ones that the Baucus-Grassley bill aims to usher into partial early retirement.
Free Energy Set To Be Unveiled, Law Of Conservation Of Energy Set To Roll Eyes
Just because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office won't even entertain patent applications for perpetual motion devices without working models doesn't mean you need to be as cynical. Especially when Irish technology firm Steorn is just moments away from giving the world the biggest scientific razzle dazzle in history.
Oil-rich nations are advised to begin learning new marketable skills.
Orbo produces free, clean and constant energy - that is our claim. By free we mean that the energy produced is done so without recourse to external source. By clean we mean that during operation the technology produces no emissions. By constant we mean that with the exception of mechanical failure the technology will continue to operate indefinitely.
And by "produces", we mean "is, like every other device, fundamentally incapable of producing"...
The sum of these claims for our Orbo technology is a violation of the principle of conservation of energy, perhaps the most fundamental of scientific principles.
If I were trying to convince people I'd bottled the holiest of holy grails (can grails be bottled?), I think I'd leave off that last line. It seems like it risks calling attention to the project's inherent impossibility.
To salve your battered sense of reason, Steorn offers some techy razzmatazz which might keep you from spitting out the hook.
Orbo is based upon the principle of time variant magneto-mechanical interactions. The core output from our Orbo technology is mechanical. This mechanical energy can be converted into electrical energy using standard generator technology either by integrating such technology directly with Orbo or by connecting the mechanical output from Orbo to the generation technology. The efficiency of such mechanical/electrical conversions is highly dependent on the components used and is also a function of size.
Orbo technology is subject to continuous development. This development is focused on improving the manufacturability of the technology, production costs and power density. Orbo was initially developed as using stop-start mechanisms (with a power density of 0.5 Watts per cm3), Steorn is currently finalizing the development of constant motion systems and a significant improvement in power density is anticipated.
Orbo was slated to put on its first public demonstration yesterday, at the Kinetica Museum in East London, but "slight technical difficulties" forced a one-day postponement. Steorn's website still claims today is the day, so sit back and brace yourself for a guilt-free summer driving season, a sharp fall-off in the Goracle's relevance, and boundless prosperity for all mankind. Sadly, the technological singularity should follow soon thereafter, so you'll also want to embrace for some manner of world-ending apocalypse.
Check out the Free Energy Tracker blog for the latest updates. Or just appeal to that battered sense of reason and predict how this plays out.
Update: The Orbo demonstration is incurring some fresh delays, which is flat out flabbergasting.
We are experiencing some technical difficulties with the demo unit in London. Our initial assessment indicates that this is probably due to the intense heat from the camera lighting. We have commenced a technical assessment and will provide an update later today. As a consequence, Kinetica will not be open to the public today (5th July). We apologise for this delay and appreciate your patience.
Still, as tantalizing prologue, you can watch nothing happening on any of four live Kinetica webcams, complete with a snazzy, animated wireframe fly-through. Just like hackers always have on their screens in real Hollywood movies!
America Back On Top!
What greater way to celebrate our nation's independence than for an American to take back the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest from reigning six-time consecutive champion Takeru Kobayashi?
The world's richest man may no longer be an American, but as competitive eating ranks a close second to capitalism among our national pastimes, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut should surely be hailed as an American hero.
The money quote from a contest liveblogger:
Barring a regurgitation, this is the greatest contest in competitive eating history.
Alas, in the final moments, regurgitation did come into play.
KOBAYASHI REVERSES!! With five seconds to go, Kobayashi lost his hot dogs, which, if the judges rule it vomit rather than drool, will be an automatic disqualification. Either way, Chestnut appeared to have won by about half a dog.
On replay, it's clear that Kobayashi vomited.
Joey Chestnut is the 2007 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating champion.
Chestnut's unrefunded ingestion of 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes shattered Kobayashi's world record of 53, set in 2006.
Update: Video of the thrilling victory (and the agony of de-vomitus).
Gringo No Longer World's Wealthiest Man
The number one spot on the Forbes billionaires list has been held by Bill Gates since 1995. But thanks to recent gains in the stock price of America Movil (AMX), Gates appears to have been usurped by Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim.
Three months ago the cigar-chomping Mr Slim quietly slipped past legendary US investor Warren Buffett to take second place in the global wealth league.
Now, thanks to a surge in the shares of his America Movil group, Mr Slim has claimed pole position, according to the Mexican online financial publication, Sentido Común.
This is estimated to have boosted his fortune to an estimated $67.8bn (£33.6bn) - equivalent to 8% of Mexico's gross domestic product - compared with $59.2bn for the Microsoft mogul, putting him in the lead by a decisive $8.6bn.
To put Slim's lead in context, his estimated net worth is roughly equal to the combined wealth of Bill Gates and George Soros.
America Movil shares have moved 40% higher over the last 6 months, while Microsoft's stock price is virtually unchanged over the same period.
Politicians left and right are falling all over themselves to comment on the President's decision to commute the 30-month sentence of (but not to pardon) Scooter Libby, a sentence he won for perjuring himself and obstructing justice in the case involving Dick Armitage's leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative.
Libby's is just the 4th criminal sentence Bush has commuted, putting his pace at roughly one commutation every 19 months. With 61 under his belt, Clinton hummed along at a far swifter pace of one commutation every 7 weeks. Even ignoring his outgoing clemency bonanza, Clinton's non-last day commutations outpaced Bush's 5:1. But the commutation king of the modern age was John Kennedy, who commuted one sentence for every 10 days he served in office. (CNN data, via Hot Air.)
Similarly, those Presidents' pardon tallies were 113 for Bush (to date), 396 for Clinton (including the bonanza), and 472 for Kennedy (in just over 1,000 days).
Feel-Good Website Of the Day
Feel the weight of the World Stats Clock.
Councilman Barron Still Hungry for Justice, Attention, Blood of Cops and Colleagues
The one-man Black Panther caucus in New York's City Council continues to prove himself a public menace.
A meeting of activists from various organizations will be held tonight in Brooklyn to plan a "day of outrage" that could mirror past efforts to shut down subways, block traffic, and disrupt business.
A Council member of Brooklyn and a former Black Panther, Charles Barron, said the event would be a protest against police.
"We've got to come together and do something," Mr. Barron said. "These police are out of control."
Mr. Barron would not provide any details or a date for a possible "Day of Outrage" to be held in New York in response to the shooting of Sean Bell and other recent incidents that he says constitute abuses by the police. Mr. Barron participated in the city's first "Day of Outrage" in December 1987. The New York Times reported at the time that demonstrators blocked traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge and halted service on eight subway lines.
"We just told the city, ‘You have got to pay attention to us. You have got to stop killing us,'" Mr. Barron said. "We've got to do something to let the city know we are being killed and brutalized and disrespected and must be attended to very seriously."
Barron's ongoing, racially-charged pleas for violence, anarchy, and "radical regime change" are indeed getting attention. The Councilman is taking some heat for an apparent assassination threat made by his chief of staff against a fellow Councilman who wouldn't back Barron's efforts to rename a local street after Sonny Carson, a self-described "anti-white" activist, convicted kidnapper, and suspected murderer. Despite Mayor Bloomberg calling the idea, "probably the worst idea the City Council, anybody in the City Council, has had in recent memory" and Democratic Council Speaker Christine Quinn strongly opposing such celebration of a violent criminal, Barron and Carson appear to be ideological soulmates.
Barron called the radical anti-cop crusader "a hero to our community" and insisted, "We are going to name Gates Ave. after him whether the mayor and the speaker like it or not." The late Sonny Carson would no doubt be delighted to know that threats of deadly violence are being made against those who object to his posthumous tribute.
Barron will hold a press conference today to respond to the suspension of his chief of staff (who was incredibly not fired) for her threatening comments. Perhaps he'll take the opportunity to unveil a date for Day of Outrage 2007.
For their roles in the original Outragapalooza '87, rioters including Al Sharpton were convicted of obstruction of governmental administration, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, and sentenced to 45 in jail. Given Barron and his associates' graver threats of assassination and "explosions", incapacitating part of the city's transit systems might well seem tame in comparison to whatever trouble he plans to cook up this year.
Good thing the NYPD doesn't have anything better to do than to worry about protecting New Yorkers from this thug.
Race Warfare Inciters Nearly Get Their Wish As Cops Disrupt Plot To Behead Commissioner, Blow Up NYPD HQ
The Counterproductivity of Race-Baiting Protestors
Inciting Race Warfare in NYC
New Black Panthers Want To Kill Cops