Hostage Crisis At Clinton HQ [Update: Resolved Without Injury]
Via Drudge, at around 1:00 pm, a nut claiming to have a bomb strapped to his chest is holding at least two people hostage at Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign headquarters and demanding to speak to the candidate.
State Police said the man released a mother and a child from the office, but is holding others.
Clinton is not there. She is in Washington. The Senator was scheduled to appear by satellite at a Democratic National Committee event in Virginia this afternoon, but she has cancelled her appearance.
Workers for Sen. Barack Obama's campaign office in Rochester also were evacuated, a campaign spokesman said. The office is four doors away from Clinton's. John Edwards' staffers and several businesses in the neighborhood also were evacuated.
A nearby school is locked down.
Police have gathered at a nearby church and set up a command post there. SWAT teams and the State Police bomb squad are also on scene.
Witness Lettie Tzizik told television station WMUR of Manchester that she spoke to a woman shortly after she was released from the office by the suspect. The woman was carrying an infant, and crying.
"She said, 'You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape," Tzizik said.
WMUR has live ideo coverage available online. Update 2:55: According to their reports, the SWAT team is attempting to get a phone inside the building to speak with the hostage taker. Update 3:05: Cameras have just shown a SWAT team member leading a young woman away from the building. Hostage count down to one? Police now confirm the woman was a hostage. Update 3:10: Police now say that woman was the second of two hostages to be released Hostage count down to zero? WMUR's on-site reporter says the SWAT posture remains unchanged. Update 3:15: Local schools under "soft lockdown" now said to be releasing students to their parents. Update 3:20: According to ABC News, law enforcement says the suspect is an older man, known locally, with a history of mental illness, who told his son this morning to "watch the news" today. Update 3:42: Press conference in 5 minutes (Update 3:50: or not). Rochester police captain unable to confirm hostage count. Update 3:50: Hostage count still muddy. It appears there were originally four people in the building (in addition to the hostage taker) including a woman and her baby who ran out immediately, leaving two hostages left inside. The young woman shown leaving building at 3:05 has been confirmed to be the "second hostage" released, but it's unclear if that count began when the standoff ramped up (i.e. after the woman and her child were released) or if the woman+baby are being collectively counted as the first hostage released, which would suggest there's still one hostage inside. Adding to future confusion, local reporters said they saw another person enter the building in the last few minutes. Not counting the person who may have entered recently, it sounds to me like there's likely still one hostage inside. The cameras that are actually broadcasting are focusing away from law enforcement (and thus the front door), to avoid informing the hostage taker of their activities, but you'd think someone would've captured footage of the other hostage being led out. Update 4:00: Cops are now setting up large, sealed plastic buckets that appear to be tethered together around the perimeter of the building. Update 4:05: Allah: "I’m not going to repeat the name until it’s confirmed but Carl
Cameron’s interviewing a kid on Fox who says the suspect is a friend of
the family and that the guy’s been having mental problems lately,
allegedly complaining that the government is planting bugs in his head." Michelle: FNC identifying the suspect as Troy Stanley and describing him as a conspiracy theorizer. Mother reportedly negotiating to get him to surrender.
WMUR has live ideo coverage available online.
Update 2:55: According to their reports, the SWAT team is attempting to get a phone inside the building to speak with the hostage taker.
Update 3:05: Cameras have just shown a SWAT team member leading a young woman away from the building. Hostage count down to one?
Police now confirm the woman was a hostage.
Update 3:10: Police now say that woman was the second of two hostages to be released Hostage count down to zero? WMUR's on-site reporter says the SWAT posture remains unchanged.
Update 3:15: Local schools under "soft lockdown" now said to be releasing students to their parents.
Update 3:20: According to ABC News, law enforcement says the suspect is an older man, known locally, with a history of mental illness, who told his son this morning to "watch the news" today.
Update 3:42: Press conference in 5 minutes (Update 3:50: or not). Rochester police captain unable to confirm hostage count.
Update 3:50: Hostage count still muddy. It appears there were originally four people in the building (in addition to the hostage taker) including a woman and her baby who ran out immediately, leaving two hostages left inside.
The young woman shown leaving building at 3:05 has been confirmed to be the "second hostage" released, but it's unclear if that count began when the standoff ramped up (i.e. after the woman and her child were released) or if the woman+baby are being collectively counted as the first hostage released, which would suggest there's still one hostage inside. Adding to future confusion, local reporters said they saw another person enter the building in the last few minutes.
Not counting the person who may have entered recently, it sounds to me like there's likely still one hostage inside. The cameras that are actually broadcasting are focusing away from law enforcement (and thus the front door), to avoid informing the hostage taker of their activities, but you'd think someone would've captured footage of the other hostage being led out.
Update 4:00: Cops are now setting up large, sealed plastic buckets that appear to be tethered together around the perimeter of the building.
Update 4:05: Allah: "I’m not going to repeat the name until it’s confirmed but Carl Cameron’s interviewing a kid on Fox who says the suspect is a friend of the family and that the guy’s been having mental problems lately, allegedly complaining that the government is planting bugs in his head." Michelle: FNC identifying the suspect as Troy Stanley and describing him as a conspiracy theorizer. Mother reportedly negotiating to get him to surrender.
Tuesday, Aug. 14 
Troy Alan Stanley, 44, of 15 Strafford Inn, Farmington, is charged with criminal trespass and obstructing government administration.
Monday, Sept. 3
Troy Alan Stanley, 44, of 287 Rochester Hill Road, 201, is charged with criminal trespass.
Tuesday, Nov. 6
Troy Alan Stanley, 44, of Rochester Hill Road, is arrested on a bench warrant for disorderly conduct.
We were told by an eyewitness that the suspect is named Troy Stanley. The eyewitness reporting this to Fox News is Cody Bennet. Cody Bennet is friends with Troy Stanley's son, Troy Stanley Jr. According to Troy Stanley Jr, his father went to a hardware story earlier in the day and bought road side flares to use as fake explosive devices.
A Huffington blogger also called Stanley's house, where she reached this elementary school-style prank voice mail greeting.
The phone picks up after just one ring and the caller hears, "Hello? (pause) hello? (pause) hello (pause). Leave a message. Later. (Beep)
Update 4:30: The tethered buckets were apparently part of the communications line that police are trying to (or possibly have now) set up.
A woman named Chelsea Cool being interviewed by WMUR says she spoke to the hostage taker's stepson earlier in the standoff at the nearby Governor's Inn looking for coffee. According to Cool, he said that he and his mother were having a rough day of being questioned by the police, that his stepfather is unemployed, not in the right state of mind, in the throes of a divorce, had been drinking for 72 hours, and had asked his stepson where he could buy road flares. (On-air reporters are occasionally reporting Cool as having said the man in the restaurant asked her where he could buy road flares, but that's not what she said.)
Update 4:40: Police press conference beginning now, with Rochester PD Captain Callahan. The "situation is still fluid." After stating, "This is a hostage situation," Callahan then backpedaled when pressed for confirmation, refraining from confirming whether any hostages remain in the building. "There have been no reported injuries." Details of road flare issue "not appropriate to release at this time." Wouldn't comment on report's question whether the suspect is Troy Stanley.
Press conference over. News value: nil, other than confirmation of no reported injuries, which is good news.
Update 5:35: FNC is now showing footage of another young woman recently led out of the building and driven away in a SWAT vehicle. On the scene, Carl Cameron's best information suggests there is still one hostage inside.
Update: 5:50: A local paper is identifying the suspect as Leeland Eisenberg, not Troy Stanley. Fox is reporting that Stanley may have one or more aliases, suggesting both may be correct. Many of the reported details are similar: in his 40s, salt-and-pepper hair, well known to Rochester PD, with a history of mental illness. Cameron notes, however, that if Eisenberg, not Stanley, is the hostage taker, the road flare detail may be incorrect.
Update 6:15: Soon after another female hostage emerged and was led away, a man followed and was shortly down on the ground, cuffed, and taken into SWAT custody. If that's the only suspect and if there's no remaining bomb threat, the standoff lasted about 5.5 hours.
From the somewhat confused timeline of hostage releases, it sounds like the total hostage count was 5 or 6, though that may or may not include the baby and/or the person reported to have entered the building midway throught the standoff.
Update 6:30: Leeland Eisenberg was arrested by Rochester PD in April (for stalking) and again in June (for drunk driving) and his age is listed as 46. Stanley's age was listed as 44. Eisenberg's address is listed as Milton Road, whereas Stanley's is given as Rochester Hill Road or Stratford Inn. A man with multiple aliases might also be expected to have multiple passable IDs, but if each is said to be well known to local police, their frequent arrests would suggest authorities could tell them apart.
Update 6:40: Cameron firms up the count: 6 adult hostages, plus the baby.
In Some Parallel Universe, the Speaker Of the House Is Pleased By the Good News For Her Country and Its Defenders
Even John "Abscam" Murtha, who this summer called the troop surge a "failed policy wrapped in illusion" is now forced to recognize its efficacy. But for Nancy Pelosi, queen of the Congressional delegation whose fortunes are (as Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer eagerly point out) aligned with failure, even Murtha's well belated, begrudging recognition of military progress is an unforgivable sin.
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), one of the leading anti-war voices in the House Democratic Caucus, is back from a trip to Iraq and he now says the "surge is working." This could be a huge problem for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, who are blocking approval of the full $200 billion being sought by President Bush for combat operations in Iraq in 2008.
"This could be a real headache for us," said one top House Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Pelosi is going to be furious."
To appreciate just how effective the surge has been in getting Iraq under control, consider how drastically U.S. troop fatalities have declined in the months since its implementation. The last of the troop reinforcements arrived in Iraq in June. Since May 31st, the monthly casualty rate has fallen by more than two thirds (no wonder Democratic Presidential candidates suddenly want to stop evaluating the war with "body counts").
There are still a few hours of November left in Iraq, but as of today, U.S. fatalities total 37 since November 1st. Extrapolating, that rate suggests that one more American will tragically lose his life in Iraq today. 38 U.S. deaths in November would be unchanged from last month and the lowest level since March of 2006.
But that doesn't tell the whole story.
Violence in Iraq is seasonal, with some months tending to be bloodier than others. A combined result of any number of factors (the religious calendar, seasonal climate, and who knows what else), November is typically the deadliest month of the year (with a fatality rate more than 40% higher than the rest of the year).
If you apply the appropriate seasonal adjustment to each month (based on fatality rates over the 51 months between the beginning of the war and the full implementation of the surge), you find that November 2007 has in fact been the least deadly since the war began (27, as adjusted, vs. 28 in February 2004).
This is even more encouraging news for the surge strategy, for American soldiers, for the war effort, and for our national interests. If Pelosi is as furious as her aide fears, maybe she should focus her contemplation on what this trend portends for her country and her countrymen, not what it means for her delegation.
Better still, she can encourage her Democratic colleagues to get on the side of victory, so that those interests will no longer be at odds.
Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Clydesdale
Since the equine carnage isn't being perpetrated by a high-pofile professional athlete, it's arguably of negligible news value, but the photo alone compelled recognition.
While horse fighting has been outlawed in many nations, it still thrives in China, the Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea.
The horses are often bred specifically for combat, and during the events onlookers take bets on which animal will triumph.
To start the horses fighting, a mare in heat is usually presented to the animals and quickly removed.
Horses that do not immediately engage in battle are whipped, or gunshots are fired to provoke them. The stallion left standing is declared the winner.
The International Fund for Horses says competing horses are often ill-matched, resulting in gruesome injuries and even death to the weaker opponent.
"While tradition has long been used to legitimize horse fighting, money and gambling appears to be the real reason for its continued existence".
Banks Warm To Freezing Mortgage Rates
In what may be the quid to an election year bailout quo, major U.S. banks are supposedly close to sealing a deal with the Treasury Department in which adjustable mortgage rates would be frozen, extending "teaser" rates for up to seven years.
The upward resetting of mortgage rates has been a significant factor in triggering the spate defaults and foreclosures plaguing the subprime market (and in turn, the financial institutions holding portfolios of those mortgages). There's some speculation on Wall Street that earlier speculation of a federal bailout of affected institutions may indeed be playing out. This pending concession by major banks (effectively agreeing to accept a lower-than-contracted interest rate on high-risk loans in order to protect the borrowers from defaulting), including Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Washington Mutual, might be just the sweetener needed to secure such a package.
Paul Krugman is delighted (well, as delighted as a man who predicts a recession four times each year ever gets), but probably only because he thinks this is the end of the story. Evil corporations (and their millions of shareholders) finally doing what's right, ignoring financial reality, and making major concessions to the little guy, who they so viciously preyed upon with their accommodating credit policies. When he sees whatever's on the other side of this agreement, he may be less pleased.
Kudos to the Bush administration. Yes, you read that right — although I need to see more detail before giving a thumbs up. But as of this morning, it seems that Henry Paulson is being much more proactive on the housing mess than I expected. –Paul Krugman, New York Times
In any event, some combination of this news, another round of sweet nothings being whispered by Chairman Ben, and oil prices diving, have inspired the markets to continue their marvelous 4-day rally. How marvelous, you ask? If the Dow ends the day near session highs, it will have been its best Tuesday-Friday run in history, adding more than 700 points.
Monday's ugliness spoils the chances of the index having its best week ever, but even so, it will be its best week in 4.5 years, if things don't turn sour in the next few hours.
This Is HRCNN
Given the network's most recent fawning overture to Hillary Clinton's campaign, the time seems right to unveil the new official CNN corporate logo.
Taking a cue from the emblem born of the joint venture between MSN and NBC (pictured at right), the updated logo is not only visually appealing (in that antiquated, bizarro font way of CNN's), but better reflects the network's present day priorities and editorial tendencies.
Time To Update Your Dead Pools
Geert Wilders = easy money. Quite certain to be shuffled off the mortal coil during 2008 by the long arm of jihad.
A Dutch conservative lawmaker said Wednesday he is making a film to highlight what he describes as "fascist" passages in the Quran, his latest high profile criticism of Islam.
The interior and justice ministers said they were concerned, but believed they had no authority to prevent the lawmaker, Geert Wilders, from screening his film.
Wilders plans to depict parts of the Quran he says are used as inspiration "by bad people to do bad things."
Wilders' planned broadcast is reminiscent of the film "Submission" — a fictional study of abused Muslim women with scenes of near-naked women with Quranic texts engraved on their flesh.
"Submission" director Theo van Gogh was shot and had his throat slit by a Muslim extremist on an Amsterdam street in 2004.
And Then There Were Six (Or Seven (Or Eight))
Wowzers. With these 2 (or 3 or 4) newly unearthed debate plants, the tally (6-8, depending on your classification standards) now surpasses even the botanical biodiversity catalogued at CNN's Democrat debate in Las Vegas.
Jim Vicevich alerts us to a few more Democratic plants at the CNN YouTube Republican candidates forum last night. Adam Florzak asked a question on Social Security. Jim comments: "Strange question, because he asked about paying back the social security trust fund? That's a Republican question." It turns out that Florzak quit his job with Caterpillar to work with Dick Durbin on social security reform. Then there was Mark Strauss, who pleaded with Ron Paul to run as an independent. It turns out he's a Richardson supporter (more here). CNN must have know who Strauss is because he participated in the CNN/Youtube Democratic presidential debate this past July. It's all over now, baby blue.
Manalapan... Doo Doo, Da Doo Doo
The song has little to do with this post, but it's stuck in my head now, so it may as well be stuck in yours.
This post is about Manalapan, NJ, however, a town that's getting a bit quashy with the free speech rights of a blogger who deigned to criticize the municipality.
The blogger, writing as "daTruthSquad" on a site hosted on Google's Blogspot service, has criticized a controversial lawsuit filed by the township of Manalapan, as well as the officials who decided to pursue the case. The township subpoenaed Google for "daTruthSquad's" identity -- as well as for any emails, blog drafts, and other information Google has about the blogger -- claiming that the defendant in the case is actually writing the posts. The defendant, however, has already sworn under penalty of perjury that he is not "daTruthSquad."
"Bloggers, as well as everyone else, have a First Amendment right to speak anonymously," said [Electronic Frontier Foundation] Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Litigants don't get a blank check to pry into the private lives of critics when they say things the litigants don't like. The fact that it is the government trying to abuse the discovery process makes this attempted invasion of privacy all the more repugnant."
The underlying matter involves the township of Manalapan suing its former attorney Stuart Moskovitz for alleged misconduct. As noted above, the town believes Moskovitz and daTruthSquad are one and the same (not that that empowers them to go poking around at dTS to prove it).
While Moskowitz affirms under penalty of perjury that he's not the blogger in question, you can see why the town might be suspicious of a connection. daTruthSquad only contains 5 posts, all but one of which went up in the last two weeks. The earliest post dates back to August, a couple months after the town filed its suit against Moskovitz.
The only reference to an older post I can find is this non-descript link from MoreMonmouthMusings dating back to March, but the target page is gone.
Whoever daTruthSquad is, I think I like him.
Information is an important part of everyday life. Without information, we have no true knowledge of actual events.
Case in point, da case of "Da Township of Manalapan v. Da Mosked Man (read: Moskovitz)." As you may have already read, there are numerous claims made by da multitude of law firms hired by da town and paid for with YOUR tax dollars against da Mosked man.
I'm surprised da Mosked man wasn't also charged with da Lindbergh baby kidnapping, or at da very least introducing Monica Lewinsky to Linda Tripp, who, by da way, was reportedly born and raised in New Jersey. Could it be that everything is going so wrong with da Mosked man in this case?
You stay classy, Manalapan.
Henry Hyde, RIP
Former Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL) died last night at age 83.
Hyde, one of the GOP leaders in the House impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton, had been recovering from heart surgery performed six months ago. He served 16 terms in Congress before retiring in 2006.
Meanwhile, occupants of the cesspool that is the Democratic Undeground caught wind of the story, briefly considered not dancing on Hyde's grave, then threw up their hands and set to it.
bemildred 09:38 AM
1. Say nothing ill of the dead. nt
antifaschits 09:38 AM
2. that will make this a short thread, won't it?
being an Illinoisian, I am biting my tongue
DainBramaged 09:38 AM
3. May I be the first to wish his family my condolences
But that he rot in hell. F***ing scumbag.
Sorry folks, he was a scumbag.
UpInArm 09:40 AM
8. buh-bye henry
wish I could feel some sorrow - but ... just wish you had left us all a bit earlier.
MurrayDelph 09:42 AM
11. In times like these
I quote the late, great, Jackie "Moms" Mabley:
Don't say anything about the dead unless it's good. He's dead. Good.
bemildred 09:51 AM
15. OK, go ahead, knock yourself out. nt
davsand 09:51 AM
17. May his soul find justice (whatever that may be.)
My sympathies to anyone who feels pain at his departure from this earth, however, I really do hope that he finally sees justice for all that he did in this life. He hurt a lot of people with his politics--especially poor women. I do hope that he can ultimately find peace with himself.
new_beawr 10:02 AM
26. Well, hmmmmm, something nice.......
He lived a long time for someone that grossly obese
Sorry, that's all I got.....
demnan 10:09 AM
27. Hell just got a a new resident
Hyde was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during Clinton's impeachment and lead House manager during the trial.
Hillary's Towering Gardening Skills
Retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr, who asked a YouTube question about gays in the military and was invited to sit in the audience and (out of step with the rest of the night's format) pose a lengthy follow-up, is a member of the Clinton campaign's LGBT steering committee.
Update: Moderator Anderson Cooper swiftly acknolwedged the plant's Clinton connection, but says the network was unaware until now.
More at Hot Air, including video of Kerr's YouTube question and his on-site follow-up.
For the record, my guess is that not only did CNN genuinely not know about Kerr's affiliation, but that Team Hillary was unaware of his participation in the debate. With all the plant controversy in recent weeks associated with her campaign and with CNN debates, she/they would have to know someone would pick up on this, what with his name still adorning the Clinton campaign website.
If that's the case, then Kerr is the only deceitful party here (assuming CNN asked about any campaign affiliation before initing him to St. Petersburg) and CNN is merely the inexcusably sloppy party (a simple Googling of the man returns the page on Clinton's site announcing his campaign affiliation within the first few pages of reults).
Update: Michelle Malkin uproots three more from last night - while not campaign committee members, these masquerading undecided Republicans were avowed Edwards and Obama supporters, something CNN could have (and should have) determined as easily as Michelle did.
Best 2-Day Run For Dow In 5 Years
With news of Citigroup's big capital infusion and the Fed signaling they may cut interest rates again in December, the equity markets have been enjoying themselves over the last two sessions. Today, the Dow Industrials shot up 331 points. Building on yesterday's 215 point rise, the index is up 4.3% since Monday's close, making this the best two-day run for the Dow (on either a point or percentage basis) in 5 years.
The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 did even better.
Image: Google Finance
The last time the Dow shot so high so fast was October 11-12, 2002, as the Senate was giving the Iraq go-ahead and the markets finally snapped the 2002 downturn, ushering in a bull market that would see all the major averages roughly double over the following 5 years.
Despite the bloody volatility of the last two months, this swift reclamation of much of the ground that was lost during what finally became an official 10% market correction over the last few days restores the major indices to decent shape on a year-to-date and a 12-month basis. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 are up 6.6%, 10.3%, and 3.6% this year (and 9.5%, 10.4%, and 5.9% since November 29, 2006).
Image: Google Finance
Let's return to the debate prediction tree to pick one more piece of low-hanging fruit: tonight, CNN will throw the Republican candidates at least one YouTube-submitted question that does little more than lament our ostensible economic woes and the Bush policies that provoked them, pointing to recent market declines as a recent indication thereof. An alert candidate might anticipate this stilted question and (in addition to smacking it down on its dubious merits) ready a zinger that makes use of the most recent market data.
The question (or some equally daft variant) will almost surely pop up; what's less clear is whether any of the candidates will have had sufficient zinger preparation time to fully capitalize on it. I doubt it.
I Miss That Crazy SOB
Won't the Dems reconsider inviting Mike Gravel back to their debates? He's easily the finest candidate on the slate.
What's more, now Mike Gravel has given you a wonderful gift. He's shown you what it would be like if your grandfather were to take night classes in hipster animation then go on a mushroom bender.
(HT: Green Mountain Politics1)
Even I Think This Is a Poor Choice
*Wiping tears away*
To be fair, though, I'm sure that wasn't the original name of the channel.
GOP Debate: Pre-game Round Up
As is the case most every night, there's a Presidential debate tonight. This one is a Republican to-do, co-hosted by CNN and YouTube in St. Petersburg, Florida at 8 pm Eastern. It's the one that almost didn't happen, due to some early grumbling by GOP candidates about answering questions submitted by snowmen, an enduring image from the Democrats' YouTube debate.
I'll be watching, but I don't plan to be liveblogging. If the mood does happen to strike or if there's something particularly post-worthy, however, this is where it'll show up.
Either way, fear not. We have a fine line-up of on-location and remote livebloggers to choose from.
- Mary Katharine Ham is already tearing up St. Petersburg, having nabbed an interview with moderator Anderson Cooper and serving up a thorough preview of tonight's action.
- Patrick Ruffini is en route as we speak and promises to be "blogging, vlogging, and Twittering throughout the event." He'll be hitting the spin room afterward to "turn the camera on the media types" so this is a must-visit post-game stop.
- John Hawkins is also live-blogging and doesn't expect to see snowmen questions, because he's heard that, "some of the candidates, as a condition of participating, told CNN they didn't want to take any ridiculous questions that demeaned the presidency."
- While not a liveblog per se, Power Line is hosting a dedicated debate forum where you'll be able to see what other people (read: thousands of Ron Paul bots and zombies) think.
- Finally, Hot Air will undoubtedly be liveblogging and/or hosting an open thread. There's no page yet, but I'll update later once it's up. This will likely be the best repository for prompt video highlights. Relatedly, Michelle Malkin has a pre-game coverage roundup.
As for predictions, allow me to pick some very low-hanging fruit: 1) Rudy and Mitt will ratchet up the meanness against each other. 2) Huckabee will have the best line of the night. 3) Ron Paul zombies will infiltrate the venue, sloughing flesh, eating brains, and causing an only slightly lesser disturbance than a typical Code Pink disruption. 4) CNN will make racist, xenophobic hay of Romney's unwillingness to implement a Muslim affirmative action program in his Cabinet and will use the issue as an excuse to remind the country that Romney's religion is creepy.
Update: Hot Air is raising the stakes with a live vlog, the page for which has now been posted.
Tonight as the GOP presidential candidates square off with the YouTube generation, answering questions picked by CNN, we’ll be right here live and on the air to react to, discuss, weigh and possibly mock the proceedings. The video/audio stream will be in this post, so come back here at 8 pm Eastern to hang out and chat with us.
Karl Rove And the Case Of the Seven-Level Wipe
As reported in today's Wall Street Journal, Special Counsel Scott Bloch, the head of the operation investigating Karl Rove prior to his departure from the White House (and still investigating other WH officials), is the subject of a federal investigation of his own.
Mr. Bloch has himself been under investigation since 2005. At the direction of the White House, the federal Office of Personnel Management's inspector general is looking into claims that Mr. Bloch improperly retaliated against employees and dismissed whistleblower cases without adequate examination.
Recently, investigators learned that Mr. Bloch erased all the files on his office personal computer late last year. They are now trying to determine whether the deletions were improper or part of a cover-up, lawyers close to the case said.
Bypassing his agency's computer technicians, Mr. Bloch phoned 1-800-905-GEEKS for Geeks on Call, the mobile PC-help service.
Bloch says his computer had a virus (apparently beyond the grasp of gummint techies), but the cyber-colonics he commissioned for his and his deputies' machines were a curious remedy.
Mr. Bloch had his computer's hard disk completely cleansed using a "seven-level" wipe: a thorough scrubbing that conforms to Defense Department data-security standards. The process makes it nearly impossible for forensics experts to restore the data later. He also directed Geeks on Call to erase laptop computers that had been used by his two top political deputies, who had recently left the agency.
The receipt says a seven-level wipe was performed but doesn't mention any computer virus.
Jeff Phelps, who runs Washington's Geeks on Call franchise, declined to talk about specific clients, but said calls placed directly by government officials are unusual. He also said erasing a drive is an unusual virus treatment. "We don't do a seven-level wipe for a virus," he said.
This one-hand-investigating-the-other situation of the Office of Special Counsel and the White House (via its oversight of the Office of Personnel Management) conducting simultaneous inquiries into the each other's activity seems ripe for conflict of interest.
Mr. Bloch believes the White House may have a conflict of interest in pressing the inquiry into his conduct while his office investigates the White House political operation. Concerned about possible damage to his reputation, he cites a Washington saying, "You're innocent until investigated."
Indeed, if the OSC is investigating the White House, it seems a little dicey for the White House to then go probing at the head of the OSC. Bloch's investigation shouldn't immunize him to review of possible criminal activity, of course, but in cases of reciprocal investigations, there will at least be the appearance of such conflict, specifically that the second party to initiate its investigation may be doing so in retaliation, scoring political points via Bloch's maxim, "You're innocent until investigated."
A downright cynic is then forced to view the activities and the assertions of that second party to initiate its investigation in light of those possibly ulterior motives.
There's just one problem. The White House's investigation of Bloch predates Bloch's investigation of the White House by more than a year.
According to its official news agency, Iran has developed a new long-range missile:
Iran's military said Tuesday it has manufactured a new missile with a range of 1,200 miles capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases across the Mideast
This new missile joins the Shahab-3, a medium-range missile with a known range of at least 800 miles. Iran has claimed it has improved the range of this missile to 1,200 miles. Recall Iran has previously acquired nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a range of 1,800 miles.
With this aggressive pursuit of advanced missile technology, it's hard to believe that the international community doubts the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear development.
Understatement Hall Of Fame Set To Reopen the Books
"I’m not naturally suited to this job, perhaps."
Edwardscare: Like Obamacare, Only With More Totalitarianism
Cor blimey. The frontrunning Democrats are just tripping over themselves in their efforts to one-up the unspeakable idiocy of each other's healthcare plans.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have of late engaged in a back-and-forth over their respective health care plans. Now John Edwards is swinging into the fray with a plan that is best summed up in a single word: Totalitarian. Not making this up.
“I’m mandating healthcare for every man woman and child in America and that’s the only way to have real universal healthcare.”
“Evertime you go into contact with the helathcare system or the govenment you will be signed up.”
During a press avail following the event Edwards reiterated his mandate:
“Basically every time they come into contact with either the healthcare system or the government, whether it’s payment of taxes, school, going to the library, whatever it is they will be signed up.”
When asked by a reporter if an individual decided they didn’t want healthcare Edwards quickly responded, "You don’t get that choice."
There are acres and acres of rational real estate to the right of Hillarycare (even the moderately less asinine Version 2.0), but her opponents insist in cramming into the narrow strip of socialist badlands to her left. True, a pretty boy ambulance chaser is a dubious architect of healthcare reform that actually makes some kind of sense, but can't Fairweather Jack at least appreciate the unprincipled political expedience of tacking a few degrees to the right on this one?
Update: Sister Toldjah notes Edwards' totalitarian proclivities have been festering for a few months now.
Ray Nagin Disgusted By Apathy Of Others, Apathetic Toward Own
The Mayor of Chocolate City is currently repulsed by his subjects.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin recently pronounced himself "disgusted" with apathy among city residents, saying it was "unacceptable" that only about a quarter of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot in the Oct. 20 primary.
In a television appearance earlier this month, Nagin said he was disheartened that so many people appear to have lost interest in civic life.
"It was kind of offensive to me, because here I am busting my butt every day and all I'm asking citizens to do is to plug into the democratic process," Nagin said, exhorting his fellow New Orleanians to do better on Nov. 17.
Marring the credibility of Nagin's indignation, however, is the fact that he apparently can't be bothered to get to the polls either.
Nagin did not vote in the October primary, or in two citywide elections in March and May, according to Secretary of State Jay Dardenne's office.
Berry said the secretary of state's office is still collecting data from the Nov. 17 runoff, so he couldn't say whether Nagin voted in that race.
Naked hypocrisy notwithstanding, Nagin's moral authority on the matter is narrowly preserved, thanks to a poignant synopsis of the Civil Rights Movement.
While noting that the apathy appeared to cut across all social, racial and economic lines, Nagin reminded African-Americans in particular of the struggles their ancestors endured for the right to vote.
"People were bit by dogs and, you know, fire hoses and all that," he said. "So everybody, please go out and vote."
From Russia with Spite
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of meddling in its affairs by allegedly removing international observers from the country's upcoming Parliamentary elections.
According to information we have, it was again done at the recommendation of the U.S. State Department, and we will take this into account in our interstate relations with this country. Their goal is the delegitimization of the elections.
This follows Russia's detention of opposition leaders, including Chess champion Gary Kasparov, and the mysterious deaths of reporters critical of Putin's government. Unsurprisingly, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the election-monitoring organization, concluded that the Russian government restrictions made it impossible for it to carry out its work. In addition, American diplomats denied any involvement and called Mr. Putin’s assertion “nonsense.”
This is just the latest chilly exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Putin's ambition and Russia's oil wealth have given the "former" Communist nation the courage to oppose the international community on many mainstay international issues. Russia has refused to pursue sanctions on Iran's nuclear development; continued to sell weapons to Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Myanmar, and Sudan; and vehemently opposed a limited U.S. missile defense shield.
With China frequently on Russia's side of these issues, there is little hope for resolution in the near term. As such, these issues will carry over to the next U.S. President, and will likely consume a substantive portion of the next Presidential term. Accordingly, Russia should become a recurring topic in the ongoing Presidential debates, especially with the minimal foreign policy experience of key candidates.
Young Hillary's Communism Vitae
The Bush 41 campaign apparently knew most of this in 1992, but didn't use it because Hillary was the spouse of a candidate and therefore out of bounds (what a quaint notion).
Obamacare: Like Hillarycare, Only With More Socialism
Obama says his health package does more
"Cost is the number one reason that 47 million Americans do not have health insurance and thousands more are edging toward bankruptcy every day," Obama told a town hall-style meeting of about 350 people at a Council Bluffs high school. "That is wrong, and it's why my plan does more to cut the cost of health insurance than any other proposal in this race."
If the problem is cost and if government can dictate that cost without triggering monumentally destructive unintended consequences, then let's quit these half-measures altogether and just cut the cost by 100%. And why stop at healthcare? Millions of Americans are improperly nourished too. Millions more are forced to live in cramped quarters, with rationed air conditioning, basic cable, and a lower level of general opulence than they would prefer, were "cost" not an issue.
Once we lay the awkward, heavy hand of government on these items (starting of course with healthcare, as the most vital service category), access to and quality of care are bound to flourish, quieting economists, historians, and reasoned thinkers everywhere, and blazing a trail toward a true workers' paradise (something the world has really been wanting to try out). I for one am hopeful, despite the gloomy theoretical and empirical evidence suggesting it might end poorly.
Australia Loses John Howard
Michelle Malkin's got a round-up of coverage of the suboptimal results of today's Australian elections.
In short, U.S. ally and Liberal Party leader John Howard is ousted as Prime Minister in favor of the Labor Party's Kevin Rudd. Of course, down under, "Liberal" means "Conservative" and Howard's defeat is unwelcome news for fans of fighting global terrorism.
Rudd's win, however, is a victory for pica fans.
NYT Op-Ed Columnist Still Fooled By Norman Hsu's Bogus Investor Pitch
In a piece that manages simultaneously to pooh-pooh luxury brands like Gucci and Prada for supriously manufacturing their ostensibly high-end, European goods in China and to castigate the "xenophobic" brand executives who seem to believe Chinese manufacture indicates lower quality, New York Times op-ed columnist and Newsweek cultural correspondent Dana Thomas supports the former claim with a questionable source.
[The high] prices are worth it, we are told, because these goods are handmade in Europe by artisans. In fact, that is not always the case — as we learned from the recent news reports on the activities of Norman Hsu, the Democratic political fund-raiser indicted on charges of investment fraud. Mr. Hsu told potential clients that he would use their money to finance the manufacturing of Gucci and Prada items in China — and promised a 40 percent return on the investment.
This was surprising, given that both brands have long maintained that they do not produce their wares there. A Prada spokesman reiterated it when the Hsu news broke, telling Women’s Wear Daily that Prada does not manufacture its products in China — though if you look inside one of Prada’s popular nylon toiletry cases, you’ll sometimes find a small tag that states otherwise.
Thomas may not have fully understood the nature of "the Hsu news", because at the heart of matter is the allegation that Hsu's apparel activities were wholly fictional. The "charges of investment fraud" relate to an alleged Ponzi scheme, in which the only business being done was the recruitment of more investors (and the occasional flood of contributions to dozens of Democratic candidates). I visited Hsu's stated places of business back in September and failed to find not only a bustling apparel conglomerate, but any trace of Hsu or his many business entities.
That's not to say Gucci and Prada aren't using Chinese labor - just that the allegation is poorly supported by parroting Hsu's phony claims. Dozens of investors were hoodwinked by Hsu, a mistake that has left them tens of millions of dollars poorer. At the time, his A-list political affiliations and the impressive early returns he generated for his investors were enough to overshadow Hsu's otherwise unverifiable business activities. With these political and corporate veneers now stripped away, it's odd that Thomas is still so willingly duped.
Hillary Polling 8th, Behind Obama and Gore...
From May and Flower
Sadly, the annual pardoning of the birds did little to dry PETA's tears for the turkey holocaust.
Update: Haven't we done this before?
Clinton Campaign Machine Achieves Self-Awareness
If it weren't bad enough that Hillary's campaign ads have been consistently good and occasionally great, the communications machine appears to have undergone some thorough self-diagnosis and enhancement, because it's learned a new trick: sending out a not-political-seeming message without ending it with a plea for money.
In the past, we've seen special missives handed down from Clinton HQ like "Happy birthday to me (send money)" and "The boys are ganging up on me because I'm a girl (send money)." To be fair, it's no worse than Edwards' "My wife has cancer (send money)" push or similarly vulgar hat passings by other candidates (on both sides), but learning to curb this instinct is an unusual feat.
I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I love this holiday, and celebrating together with family and friends.
Today, Hillary wishes her supporters a happy Thanksgiving, with not a contribution link in sight (at least not to her campaign).
Thanksgiving is also a time to think of those in need. Every year I am inspired by the outpouring of generosity from all over the country. I hope that this year you'll share in that tradition, whether you volunteer your time or make a donation to help others.
At our campaign offices in California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina as well as our headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, we're accepting donations of nonperishable food to help local efforts to fight hunger. If you're not near one of our offices in those states and would still like to give back this Thanksgiving, here are a few national organizations with information about how you can help.
This year, I'm so thankful to have you with me working for change. From my family to yours, have a very happy Thanksgiving.
All the best,
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Don't misunderstand - it's no less calculated. It's just that
Skynet the campaign is now getting the calculation correct.
Band Photos 101
Eric Cartman put it well: "You're supposed to be standing in random places, looking away like you don't care."
Today, the Freakonomists consider what your cheezily brooding, faux-deep band photo betrays about those restless, lyrical souls of yours.
Google Shares a Bargain At Any Price (Apparently)
David Gaffen at the WSJ MarketBeat Blog likens the ever-increasing Google price targets erupting from the analyst community to the battle for blade-count on disposable razors (i.e. more is better, even if it doesn't make any sense).
There was an article in the satirical newspaper The Onion a few years back, purportedly written by the head of a large razor manufacturer, who in response to the proliferation of four-blade razors, throws down the gauntlet and says “We’re doing five blades.”
(Parody wasn't immune to the effect either, as "Saturday Night Live" did The Onion nine better with the "Platinum Mach 14".)
That attitude seems to permeate the constant one-upsmanship among those analysts who cover Google. Today’s latest glove to the face comes from Credit Suisse analyst Heath Terry, who increases his target on the stock to $900 (from $800) a share, as he operates more or less on the assumption that Google will continue to capture more of the search space until it eats everything.
“We believe that search is a natural monopoly business and expect that over time Google will continue to gain share until they have effectively reached 100%,” he writes, noting that Google’s share of the search market has increased to about 63% from 57% at the beginning of the year. "We expect these share gains to accelerate as declining scale makes it more difficult for competitors to justify the technology investments needed to maintain search result quality."
At $650/share ($27 of which arrived today, thanks to Terry's new target), Google may have room left to run, but I'm not sure how eager I'd be to place a bet that presupposes permanent perfection, especially when 9 out of 10 analysts already have buy ratings on the stock.
If everyone quite vocally agrees we should be buying GOOG and we're already counting on everything going right forever, what catalysts remain to actually drive the shares higher?
I know, I know. The $1,000 price target.
Call it the massive fool theory.
Who Does #2 Work For?
For attempted kidnapping vitctims, that's who.
Quick thinking by a DeKalb County teenager may have saved her life, police said Monday.
Two men tried to kidnap the girl near Tucker Middle School Monday night, police said.
The 14-year-old was on her way home from dance practice when a black van pulled up, and the men tried to grab her, Police said, adding that the girl got away when she stabbed one of the men in the arm with a pencil. The girl was not seriously hurt, police said.
Strictly speaking, the girl was supposed to costume up before fighting crime, but that's strong work nonetheless.
(HT: Mary Katharine Ham)
Nice work, Badger State.
Researchers in Wisconsin and Japan have turned ordinary human skin cells into what are effectively human embryonic stem cells without using embryos or women's eggs -- the two hitherto essential ingredients that have embroiled the medically promising field in a long political and ethical debate.
The unencumbered ability to turn adult cells into embryonic ones capable of morphing into virtually every kind of cell or tissue, described in two scientific journal articles to be released today, has been the ultimate goal of researchers for years. In theory, it would allow people to grow personalized replacement parts for their bodies from a few of their own skin cells, while giving researchers a uniquely powerful means of understanding and treating diseases.
Until now only human egg cells and embryos, both difficult to obtain and laden with legal and ethical issues, had the mysterious power to turn ordinary cells into stem cells. And until this summer, the challenge of mimicking that process in the lab seemed almost insurmountable, leading many to wonder if stem cell research would ever wrest free of its political baggage.
Because the rejuvenated cells did not come from embryos and behave slightly differently than embryonic stem cells, Yamanaka named them "induced pluripotent stem cells," or "ips" cells (pluripotent means "able to become virtually every kind of cell").
Great news for humans. A mixed bag for politicians, with the stem cell wedge thus blunted.
Despite the excitement over the new work, experts predicted that the fight over embryonic stem cells will linger, since they remain the gold standard against which all alternatives will be compared.
Nerf Assures a Merry Christmas For Good Boys And Girls
Enjoy it, kids. Your school (and possibly your municipality) will surely ban it before long.
Universal Health Scare
Maryland's Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley has signed into law $1.3 billion in new taxes. The law will increase [bracketed percentages are mine]:
The state sales tax and vehicle titling taxes from 5 percent to 6 percent [20%], raise the corporate income tax from 7 percent to 8.25 percent [18%], increase the state income tax rates for high earners [5-16%], and double the tobacco tax to $2 [100%] per pack of cigarettes.
The new taxes will fund a $600 million health care plan, which will cover 100,000 residents, about 12% of the state's uninsured population. At $6,000 per uninsured resident, this is a notable data point when considering the array of universal (that is, socialized) health care proposals of the major Democratic Presidential candidates. With 47 million uninsured Americans, we should expect the costs of these universal health care plans to approach $300 billion, three times the size of Senators Clinton and Edwards' plans.
The candidates plan to pay for their health care plans by eliminating many of President Bush's tax cuts. I'm doubtful this would cover the entire costs of their programs, but that's likely a second-order concern to the loss of the economy-stimulating tax cuts. Universal health care would weigh down the economy on its own but offsetting it with the tax cuts is a pending economic disaster.
Update [Flip]: Further to Gindu's point, "paying for" socialized healthcare benefits by "rolling back tax cuts" (read: raising taxes) is at best a temporary reality. Gindu noted the anti-growth impact of raising taxes. When that inevitably curtails output/income growth, it will likewise curtail tax receipts. As Art Laffer accurately predicted, pro-growth tax cuts actually serve to increase tax revenues when established tax rates are high enough (which they are). Just as inevitably, "rolling back" those tax cuts will serve to lower associated tax revenues in the medium- and long-term, leaving fewer tax dollars available for funding soft-socialist policies. It's lose-lose, pareto-inefficient, bad for everyone.
Die hard socialized medicine proponents will tell you that the inevitable decline of prosperity throughout the economic spectrum is worthwhile, given the universal access to quality medical care that all Americans will enjoy under socialized healthcare. What that already problematic claim ignores is the unavoidable decline in the quality and availability of that care. There's a reason well-heeled Canadians and Europeans (with their utopian healthcare systems) come to the United States when they need vital healthcare procedures. Our system (while imperfect) produces the best, most innovative, most available tapestry of healthcare services in the world.
It's no coincidence that the only industrialized country without socialized medicine (another truism lamented by socialized medicine fans) is the country with by far the greatest life-saving, life-extending, life-improving healthcare capacity in the world.
Despite overwhelming evidence confirming the robust efficacy of the free market, socialized healthcare proponents like to say that healthcare is too important to be subjected to market forces. Conscientious students of economics, history, and comparative government, however, know it's too important not to be left to the market.
Not Buying Huckabee's Fiscal Bona Fides?
I know he's not Club For Growth's favorite and his fiscal record in Arkansas is mixed, but back in March I noted that Mike Huckabee became the sixth Republican Presidential candidate to sign the Americans for Tax Reform's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", the gold standard in counter-tax assurances.
Sixth, you say? How unexceptional.
Perhaps. But it's worth pointing out that four of the other signers were Gilmore, Brownback, Tancredo, and Hunter - the first two of whom have withdrawn, the other two of whom are barely blips on the polls. Among the five serious contenders (Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee, Thompson, and McCain), to date, only Mitt Romney joins Huckabee in signing the pledge.
Three Republican presidential candidates have not signed the pledge, which one strategist said might hurt them during the primaries.
"I worked on Bob Dole's campaign in 1988 and he didn't sign and it killed his campaign in the final week," David Johnson, a Republican strategist and president of Strategic Vision. "That's how the first President Bush was able to turn around and win the New Hampshire primary."
New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have not signed the pledge.
Those three argue that their fiscal records speak for themselves and Rudy makes the decent point that, "You take one pledge as president of the United States. It's to uphold the Constitution of the United States."
Well... actually, that's not the decent point specifically (upholding the Constitution and holding the line on taxes aren't mutually exclusive), but rather its logical extension, namely that if you start signing some pledges, then not only do you invite countless other groups to shove pledges in your face, but you might create a tacit disavowal of any pledge you then elect not to sign.
Still, Americans for Tax Reform is no fringe-dwelling, fly-by-night advocacy cult and the pledge is signed by hundreds of Senators, Representatives, state legislators, and Presidential candidates. The unspoken extension of Rudy's point notwithstanding, none of the unsigned GOP candidates would be harmed by a boost to their fiscal credibility at this point and their refusal to sign the pledge is a legitimate issue on which they should be pressed by primary voters.
And if you're still not convinced Huckabee is someone worth considering, talk to Chuck.
Baby, I'm Bound To Roll All Over You
A TOP aide to Gov. Spitzer involved in the Dirty Tricks Scandal angrily threatened to "professionally kill" a top utility executive for opposing the governor's energy policies, sources have told The Post.
Spitzer Policy Director Peter Pope said he was "going to kill" Gavin Donohue, the head of the Independent Power Producers of New York, an association of private energy companies, in a bitter clash early last summer over the governor's efforts to block the construction of nuclear-power plants and more than two "clean coal" plants in the state, the sources said.
"He was really threatening Gavin. It was unbelievable. It was shocking," said one of the state's best-known lobbyists.
Donohue, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. George Pataki and a one-time state Environmental Conservation Department executive deputy commissioner, wasn't intimidated by the confrontation, telling associates, "I told Pope, in so many words, to go f - - - himself."
Pope, a longtime Spitzer friend, was known as "Eliot's bully" because of his aggressiveness as a high-level deputy to Attorney General Spitzer, said a source in the AG's Office.
Last January, newly inaugurated Governor Spitzer reportedly screamed at Republican Assembly minority leader James Tedisco, "Listen, I'm a f***ing steamroller, and I'll roll over you and anybody else!"
He went on to tell Tedisco, "I've done more in three weeks than any governor has done in the history of the state."
TiVo May Not Judge You, But Your iPhone Does
If your iPhone could talk, what would it say about you? Would it perturb you if it turned out that late at night, it was quietly calling Cupertino to gab with Steve Jobs about the mundane details of your daily life?
It looks like Apple is tracking iPhone users data including IMEI number, IP address and stock quote preferences (amongst other things) through a hidden string in the Weather.app and Stocks.app iPhone applications.
From this information, Apple could build a profile on users. Where they travel, where they spend their free time, where they work, where they invest their money, what they browse, etc etc. Obviously most users would like to be able to control who has access to this information. If they connect this data with the credit card that you used to purchase the iPhone (remember, you can't use cash anymore), they could build an even bigger profile on you.
Whether or not the backlash from this will cause Apple to change its policy remains to be seen. However, there are alreadly lots of people deleting the Stocks.app and Weather.apps from their iPhones and donning their tinfoil hats.
Clinton's Irish Cocktail Party - Bring Your Own Straws
Guess who is coming to dinner in Dublin?
None other than former US president Bill Clinton, who is mingling with a host of Ireland's elite at a fundraising bash on Saturday night.
The 1,600 euro (£1,145) a head dinner is in aid of his wife Hillary's presidential campaign fund - and the places have been much coveted.
The paper said that some Irish people who were so desperate to attend the fundraiser have been seeking out US citizens through whom they can channel the $2,300 (1,600 euro) admission charge.
Saturday, November 17th. Well, we'll just have to keep an eye out for that date when the fourth quarter disclosures are filed.
There really won't be much plausible deniability if this event generates a slew of illegal straw donations that are happily accepted by Hillary's campaign. Her denial of any suspicion of the massive election law violations that appear to have gone on under her nose in connection with the Norman Hsu scandal already stretch one's credulity to the breaking point.
Given the seriousness of the civil and criminal charges already filed in the case, the multiple ongoing federal investiations, and the huge dollar amounts allegedly stolen from investors to fund illicit contributions to her campaign, any slipshod vetting of donors comprising the quarter million dollars expected in the Dublin haul will be utterly indefensible if it enables additional exploitation of this documented Clintonian security chasm.
(HT: Bryan Preston)
Karl Rove: How To Beat Hillary
In his first Newsweek opinion piece, former Presidential senior adviser and White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove offers a little free advice to the presumptive Democratic nominee's opponent. It's all worth reading, but here it is in 60 seconds.
Right now, Republicans are focusing much of their fire on Senator Clinton. Criticizing her unites the party, stirs up the unsettled feelings many swing voters have toward her and allows each candidate to say why he is best able to beat her. For now, that's enough. But when a GOP nominee emerges, he needs to remember no Republican is as well known as Hillary.
Plan now to introduce yourself again right after winning the nomination. Don't assume everyone knows you.
Say in authentic terms what you believe.
Tackle issues families care about and Republicans too often shy away from. Jobs, the economy, taxes and spending will be big issues this campaign, but some issues that used to be "go to" ones for Republicans, like crime and welfare, don't have as much salience. Concerns like health care, the cost of college and social mobility will be more important.
Go after people who aren't traditional Republicans.
Be strong on Iraq. Democrats have bet on failure. That's looking to be an increasingly bad wager, given the remarkable progress seen recently in Iraq.
The conventional wisdom now is that Hillary Clinton will be the next president. In reality, she's eminently beatable. Her contentious history evokes unpleasant memories. She lacks her husband's political gifts and rejects much of the centrism he championed. The health-care fiasco showed her style and ideology. All of which helps explain why, for a front runner in an open race for the presidency, she has the highest negatives in history.
Botanical Explosion Among Cnnium Genus
On Friday, we examined two magnificent plant specimens - Cnnium Manipulatum and Cnnium Dumbdownus - that were displayed at last week's Democratic debate.
Blogger and political botanist Doug Ross looks closer and counts as many as 4 additional, previously undiscovered species.
Plant #1: LaShannon Spencer, whom Blitzer introduced as an "undecided voter", was tagged by Dan Riehl: in truth, she served as the political director of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.
Plant #2: Khalid Kahn, who expressed concern about profiling and the Patriot Act, asked "[m]y question is that -- our civil liberties have been taken away from us. What are you going to do to protect Americans from this kind of harassment?" Classical Values notes that Mr. Kahn is the president of the Islamic Society of Nevada, who has hosted conferences like this one (with guest speakers like Muzzamil Siddiqi). In fact, Kahn in no stranger to CNN, appearing on a show called Keeping the Faith in Sin City.
Plant #3: Suzanne Jackson -- mother of a three-term Iraq war veteran -- is aso a well-known antiwar activist. She appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal protesting -- with a poor monkey, no less -- outside of Harry Reid's office in May.
Plant #4: Maria Luisa -- the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred "diamonds or pearls" -- wrote that CNN forced her to ask the "frilly" question instead of a pre-approved query regarding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility.
Update II: rumors are flying of a fifth plant. An anonymous commenter at Gateway Pundit writes that the "50-ish lady who 'asked" her memorized question was a union offical. Gee, lucky she got in!" Judy Bagley, a 27-year cashier at Fitzgerald's was quoted in RGT Online (a gaming magazine) in an article about Culinary Workers Union Local 226's collective bargaining agreement.
Update IV: an anonymous email alerts me to a possible sixth and final plant. George Ambriz is an Executive Director of the ¡Sí Se Puede! Foundation and is a recruiter at UNLV.
Lots more exposition and investigation at Doug's place.
Oh, Chimpanzee That... Monkey News
Thieving monkeys 'out of control' in northeast India
Troupes of monkeys are out of control in India's northeast, stealing mobile phones and breaking into homes to steal soft drinks from refrigerators, lawmakers in the region have complained.
"Monkeys are wreaking havoc in my constituency by taking away mobile phones, toothpastes, sipping coke after opening the refrigerators," Hiren Das told Assam state's assembly.
He said the primates were "even slapping women who try to chase them".
Tip Of the Day: Do Not Burgle Joe Horn's Neighbors
61-year-old Texan Joe Horn called 911 on Wednesday to report two men breaking into his neighbor's home. The police didn't arrive in time to catch them leaving with a sackful of cash, so Horn went out to confront them, telephone and 12-gauge shotgun in hand. Three shots rang out, leaving both intruders dead.
The entire episode (including an extensive debate bewteen Horn and the dispatcher as to whether he ought to intervene) was captured on Horn's 911 calls, which were released yesterday.
Horn acknowledges shooting the suspects, but was not arrested and has not been charged with any crime. Police said a grand jury would decide whether any charges are appropriate.
A new state law (pdf) that went into effect in Texas this September expands the protections (criminal and civil) of civilians using deadly force to defend against robbery. The law relates specifically to incidents taking place in "the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment" and requires that the actor "has a right to be present at the location where the force is used."
Horn certainly seems to satisfy the latter requirement (on the recording, Horn states the men are in his yard, where Horn obviously has a right to be). The former might be trickier, as the Texas penal code defines "habitation" as:
a structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons, and includes:
(A) each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and
(B) each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.
Seems like it might not cover yards. Then again, if Horn went outside, not necessarily to shoot the men, but to hold them at gunpoint until cops showed up, and shot only when the men advanced on him (which is suggested in his second 911 call), my guess is that he's got a much cleaner self-defense defense.
If yards are not covered by the new property-defense law, maybe that means Horn goes to trial, but I'd have to think oddsmakers would favor acquittal, given the circumstances and the venue.
I'm not a lawyer, but sometimes I play one on this blog. Libel-spotting is always appreciated.
A Plant Grows In Las Vegas
If I'm not mistaken, the species is Cnnium Manipulatum.
Update: Oh, and look. There's its close botanical relative Cnnium Dumbdownus.
Update: Meanwhile, back at the nursery...
Gitmo Manual Hits Wikileaks [Update: Document Added]
A manual detailing operations at the terrorist detention camp in Guantanamo Bay entitled "Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures" has apparently been leaked onto the site Wikileaks.
Whether because it's since been yanked or because of heavy site traffic, the link to the 238-page document is currently not functioning, but Wired has published a review of sorts (and a reproduction of one of the pages, illustrating the layout of one of the camps), along with a few excerpted globs of outrage now erupting out of the ACLU.
The Camp Delta document includes schematics of the camp, detailed checklists of what "comfort items" such as extra toilet paper can be given to detainees as rewards, six pages of instructions on how to process new detainees, instructions on how to psychologically manipulate prisoners, and rules for dealing with hunger strikes.
"What strikes me is the level of detail for handling all kind of situations, from admission to barbers and burials," says Jamil Dakwar, advocacy director of the ACLU's Human Rights program. Dakwar was in Guantánamo last week for a military-commission hearing.
Apparently, the torture has reached tonsorial heights.
Dakwar sees hints of Abu Ghraib in a section instructing guards to use dogs to intimidate prisoners.
"MWD (Military Working Dogs) will walk 'Main Street' in Camp Delta during shifts to demonstrate physical presence to detainees," reads a directive in the "Psychological Deterrence" section. "MWD will not be walked through the blocks unless directed by the (Joint Detention Operations Group)."
The Wikileaks front page appears to be down too, so I'm guessing this is just a traffic issue. If it amuses you, you can keep trying the document link. Once it frees up, I'll make a local copy available.
Update: Here's the document (fair warning: it's a PDF and it's 4.2 MB). This sucker's not so easy to get hold of - everyone discussing it is just linking in to the page on Wikileaks, which continues to be down. According to the Wikileaks' Wikipedia page:
A copy of 'Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta' dating from March 2003, the protocol of the US Army at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, was released on the Wikileaks website on the 7th November 2007. However, after this news became widespread on the 15th November the Wikileaks website became inaccessible.
No document hotlinks here though. Just a fresh copy delivered clean and whole for your perusal. If your finger quakes with uncertainty just above your mouse button, rest assured the document is mark "unclassified". The ACLU's already decrying the manual as shocking evidence of American atrocities in Guantanamo Bay. The more that reasonable people read it (which admittedly, I've not yet finished doing), the more credibly they'll be able to tell ACLU card-carrying pro-terrorists and other agents of related misinformation and anti-American propaganda to kindly cram it.
For extra cinematic impact, you can also print it out, bind it, and slam it on a table, demanding, "Is there no book. No pamphlet or manual, no regulation or set of written orders or instructions that lets me know that, as a Marine, one of my duties is to perform code reds?"
Update: If you're looking for a quick reference on Gitmo hospitality, check out pages 218-221 (Table 8-1 to 8-5). Approved detainee comfort items, violations and corresponding punishments, and authorized/unauthorized activities for prisoners of various levels.
Pages 131-132 (Military Working Dogs (MWD)) are also worth a look. Dakwar said he sees "shades of Abu Ghraib" in the section regarding how to parade military dogs around the grounds so as to "intimidate prisoners." "Intimidate" is a loaded word, because it's used in the Geneva Conventions where it has specific contextual meaning, but those disingenuously borrowed semantics aside, the psychological deterrent impact of harnessed guard dogs (released only to collect escaping detainees) is undoubtedly reasonable and effective. Coils of razor wire atop civilian prison walls aren't meant to torture inmates with the thought that their guards may turn on them and start whipping them with the wire. They're a psychological (and physical) deterrence to escape. Just as the MWDs are used "to enhance physical security and as a psychological deterrence."
Rockin' Around the Family Tree
Stop the ACLU was thumbing through the latest Lowe's catalog and noticed the company has finally become holiday-inclusive.
I'm not sure how I feel about the ignorant assumption that only people who conform to society's "family" model of modern living deserve the joy of indoor tree husbandry, but at least it's no longer the domain solely of the Christianists.
On the website, Lowe's also offers (with no explanation) this lovely reversible Bavarian fir. I can only assume this one is the handiwork of some Bible-thumping malcontent at the company making a point about Christmas being in distress.
If so, that's pretty clever. The malcontent should probably get a raise.
Anyway, for some reason, the American Families Association had a problem with Lowe's heartwarming celebration of the "family" and asked supporters to write to the company asking what gives. Lowe's responded with an apology, along with a scripted follow-up they asked AFA to post on their website, which they did.
Lowe’s has contacted the AFA and assures us that it is proudly committed to selling Christmas trees this year, as it has done for more than 60 years. The company apologized for the confusion created in its 2007 holiday catalog when it headlined the page of Christmas trees “family trees.” The error was not caught before the publication was distributed, and Lowe’s says it is disappointed in the breakdown in its proofing process.
Lowe’s assures us that they refer to trees as Christmas trees in this season’s television and magazine ads and in its advertising flyers. The company says it is redoubling its efforts to proof its catalogs in the future to prevent this issue from recurring.
We appreciate Lowe’s for listening to its customers and responding appropriately to our concerns.
Sometimes, when I'm pressed for proofing time, I just look for the largest word on the page and make sure I got at least that one right.
How To Join the Terror Watch List Without Really Trying
Who could've predicted this would cause a problem?
Everyone who rides Disneyland's popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction knows "dead men tell no tales," and its animatronic figures aren't talking either. But, oh, if they could.
On Friday, workers at the Anaheim theme park spotted a guest on the ride sprinkling an unidentified substance into the water, prompting them to close the attraction and alert police.
"A witness described the substance as a baby powder that quickly dissipated," Disneyland resort spokesman Rob Doughty said. "We reopened the attraction after determining that there was no hazard to our guests."
[O]nline columnists and bloggers who track news at the park said they began receiving e-mails from Disney employees claiming the episode was a case of the surreptitious scattering of human ashes.
The contaminator of Captain Jack's water supply remains on the loose and unidentified. (HT: Fark)
Kiss Of Death: Ron Paul Endorsed By Mel Gibson's Dad
Hutton Gibson, father of actor Mel Gibson, has endorsed Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas) for president. “I intend to tell my 10 children and my 48 grandchildren that the only way to save the country is to vote for Ron Paul in 2008,” says Gibson, who appears in the video endorsement sitting on a sofa wearing a “Legalize Freedom” t-shirt.
Aside from being Mel’s dad, the 89-year-old World War II vet is best known for statements he’s made questioning the Holocaust and advocating for a stricter form of Catholicism.
Gibson also reportedly advocates secession by all 50 states. He may fit in with the Ronbots after all...
His video endorsement is below.
Spitzer Scraps Illegal Immigrant Voter Registration Plan
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has decided to abandon a plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, officials familiar with the decision told The Associated Press Tuesday night.
The governor is due to meet Wednesday morning with New York's congressional delegation, many of whom openly oppose the program. Debate over the issue also has spilled into New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign.
The governor's office signaled to New York lawmakers Tuesday that Spitzer will say at the meeting that he is shelving the plan and that immigration is a federal issue to be handled by Washington, according to congressional aides who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.
Maybe this rare Spitzerian backpedal had something to do with the rookie Governor's re-election support dropping to just 25% just a year after he was swept into office in a 69%:29% landslide. Or maybe he just wants to spend more time explaining his status as Norman Hsu's highest-paid politician (with nearly three times as much direct funding as Senator Clinton).
Speaking of whom, I wonder whether Hillary still
supports, doesn't support, supports the illegrant immigrant licensing plan, now that even its architect has abandoned it.
Update: Allahpundit's called in the humpbot for a victory dance.
Update (11/14): *Chortle* This ought to get those poll numbers up. Nice work, champ. If there's one thing people like at Christmas, it's more taxes.
Update (11/14): Along with this fraud-inducing, vote-grubbing bathwater, Spitzer may also have thrown out a viable baby. From a press release put out today by 9/11 Families For a Secure America:
It's incredible. Governor Spitzer still doesn't get it.
Now he has broken his word to the , and to every New Yorkers concerned about terrorism, by withdrawing his solemn commitment to enter into the Real ID program. It is another slap in the face to 9/11 family members working to keep driver's licenses out of terrorist hands.
Real ID is an express recommendation of the . It is specifically designed to prevent terrorists from obtaining this powerful identity card, the very document used by the 9/11 terrorists to plan and execute their attacks.
Private Media Summit At Von Spitzer's Secret Lair
Hillary Swings, Misses, Runs Bases Obliviously, Waving Cap To Embarrassed Fans
Gov. Spitzer's Latest Awkward Pirouette In His Spastic "Dance Of a Million Mostly Democratic Illegal Votes"
Good News: 3 Years After Rathergate, CBS To Quit Authoring News
This Thursday, CBS News scribes may join their more avowedly creative colleagues on the picket line, leaving current events the world over to unfold with hundreds fewer duly anointed decipherers.
TechCrunch foresees ironic salad days for online content providers.
The CBS writers strike alone will not push many to online alternatives who aren’t already getting their news fix from the internet; there is always Fox, NBC, ABC or Cable as an alternative. However with strike action in the air there is always the chance that more writers from other networks may join the picket lines, and that would reduce television choice. The irony of course is that the original writers strike is all about sharing revenue from online content, where as the net result of their actions may actually see more people turning online for content and less people watching television. After the 1988 writers strike, network television lost 10% of its audience once the strike ended, at a time where there were far fewer alternatives to what viewers have today.
All Better (At Least For a Few Weeks)
As a postlude to my post this morning about the Nasdaq Composite twice having come so tantalizing close to clinching us that elusive 10% downside correction that I suspect would provide such lasting digestive relief to the equity markets, that index went on to record its biggest upward percentage move in four and a half years (and its biggest upside point move in five and a half years).
With the Nasdaq up 3.5%, the Dow rocketing 320 points, and the broader S&P 500 up nearly 3% on the day, it looks like the purifying fire will once again have to wait.
These last two throes of correctus-interruptus came in waves about a month apart. Maybe the next Fed policy decision on December 11 will offer the catalyst for the next attempt.
Nanny Gotham Seethes At Pigeon Feeders
My parents lived in Singapore a while back and among the entertaining things to do around town was playing spot-the-draconian-signage. Bringing drugs through the airport? Death. Studying at the airport? Hefty fine. In-home nudity? Hefty fine. Graffiti? Fine, cane, and jail. Overstay your visa? Fine, cane, and jail. Trespassing? Shot on site.
That last one was helpfully illustrated with a dastardly stick figure running for his life as his dispatcher takes aim and blasts him in the back.
The country has also made a point of strongly dissuading people from feeding the marauding monkeys, with fines running from S$500 to S$10,000 per offense (roughly $350 to $7,000 in real dollars). While such penalties definitely have that only-in-Singapore feel to them, the idea of financially bludgeoning wildlife-nourishers seems to be catching on.
The New York City Council will now consider a bill that would impose four-figure fines on pigeon feeders.
If one Brooklyn lawmaker has his way, New Yorkers who toss crumbs and seeds to pigeons would be hit with a $1,000 fine.
Brandishing pictures of a subway station soiled by pigeon poo, Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) said he's introducing a bill to ban pigeon feeding, with the goal of slashing the city's population of the birds.
"If people like pigeons, take them into their homes . . . and let them crap all over the place in your living room," Felder said outside City Hall.
If you do get busted feeding a pigeon, though, tell the cop you were just performing a public exhibition "in which animals are required to perform tricks." So far, the only birds the city has gotten around to barring from public performance are eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, vultures, condors, emus, rheas, ostriches, and other "predatory or large birds."
Nanny State Quote Of the Day
Son Of a...
Nannyism In New York (a Regrettably Continuing Series)
New York's Runaway Banwagon
New York Loves the N-Word
Nannyism Is the New Black
Nannyism in New York